open thread – January 13-14, 2017

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 :)

{ 1,471 comments… read them below }

  1. Mockingjay*

    I really, really enjoyed Tuesday’s post on “how much money do you make.” It was eye-opening to see how much location affects salary for those with my job title. (I knew it did, but not to the extent.) I also liked reading the job descriptions. We at AAM have some fascinating roles!

    And did you have as much fun as I did trying to guess who was who? *Grin.

    1. Emilia Bedelia*

      Yes! I was very surprised to see someone from my industry/niche (I’m in a pretty specific area) who is many levels above me- it was interesting to see the “next steps” for me, so to speak. While I can obviously see what my superiors are doing at work, I have no idea what their salaries are, so it was interesting to see how salaries grow as one gains experience.

    2. Future Analyst*

      Agreed! I wasn’t trying to figure who was who, but I have returned to it a couple of times over the week to read. It’s genuinely fascinating. One of the biggest discoveries was that salary didn’t vary by region nearly as much as I thought it would. It’s making me re-think leaving a low COL area for a higher COL place.

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        Ooooh me too. I’m not burning to move to a high COL area, and certainly not going to move anytime soon, but my money goes a lot further where I am now and that post was helpful in making me realize it!

      2. Sparty*

        I had a coworker leave Chicagoland and go to mid-Michigan and actually got a raise with a lower COL. Granted that company underpaid a bit for Chicagoland, but still.

      3. Anon for this*

        I live in the midwest and I was pretty surprised at how low many of the salaries were in DC, SF, etc., and other high cost of living areas. Encouraged me to stay put!

        1. Doctumentary / Commercial Producer*

          The secret of high COL areas is that a lot of people want to live in them so some companies think they’re doing *you* a favor by deigning to hire you. Hence, there’s not a really big bump, unless you’re at a big company with standardized practices that adds a raise automatically.

        2. Fortitude Jones*

          I saw that too, but my company does the same thing, smh. Have the nerve to post mid-career jobs in NYC and start people out at $75k. In NYC? Nah.

            1. Plaidskies*

              I started my career in NYC, and was at $40,000 a year. When I relocated to DC 6 years later, I was at $60K. I did fine and I had roommates, and I lived in a great place in Astoria.

            2. Fortitude Jones*

              Well, the people around me (myself included) have too many expenses (e.g. kids, medical bills, loans, etc.) for that to be livable. I have a few colleagues who are doing it, but just barely, and they’re living with roommates still well into their 30s.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It’s true and sad/frustrating. Most folks with low salaries in high COL areas are working multiple jobs to make ends meet :(

          1. Drago Cucina*

            When my husband retired from the Army in the late 80s he applied for a position at NYU Hospital. The head of anesthesia commented that everyone liked the three 12 hour days because it made easier to get to their second job. Everyone was a contract employee so no benefits.

            We had a young son, I was pregnant. Nope NYC was out regardless of his parents desires.

      4. Anxa*

        I grew up in the NY metro area, in an affluent small town to boot. A lot of people in my town made obscene amounts of money; others just got there earlier and were hanging on as long as they could. When I left the area, I was amazed to find a lot of starting salaries were just about the same as at home, but what really amazed me was the change in attitudes.

        I found in low COL areas there’s an assumption that people in high COL areas ALL make more money. Tell that to someone on near-minimum wage which may be 15% higher than another states, but where housing is 2x the cost! I even had an interviewer (he was awful, I couldn’t tell if he was being a jerk on purpose) tell me condenscendingly while looking at my resume, “Well don’t expect NYC salaries around here.” I was not expecting anything and was already positively giddy at the the $9/hr wage because it came with benefits (I did not get the job).

    3. Administrative Assistant*

      I was a little sad about how my admin salary compares to other admin salaries, but I’m at a state university, and I do appreciate the benefits. I moved to the private sector for one year, and the salary was about $10,000 higher, but it was a wash when I accounted for the benefits package. When I came back to the university, I was happy to trade the higher salary for more time off, much better 401K matching and a pension plan, and 50% tuition discount for my children (and 90% discount for myself).

        1. Robbenmel*

          Me, too. My spouse at the time and I both worked for the state, and we paid zero for health insurance for us and for all three kids. When I left, I think he was madder about having to start paying for health insurance than he was about anything else…!

      1. Justme*

        We have the same matching percentages where I work. Pay is crappy, but I’m getting a Masters for cheap. And the insurance is spectacular.

    4. Chickaletta*

      I was interesting. I was surprised to see some people in my field were earning a lot more than I had thought according to job advertisements, glassdoor, and the general assumption that it’s not a field that makes a lot of money. I want to know what their secret is!

      1. HR Recruiter*

        I was surprised too! I’m currently looking and so I’ve been reviewing job ads and glassdoor. Everything says I’m being overpaid. But according to other people’s posts I’m actually underpaid.

      2. OfCourseIt'sCashmere*

        Just came to give your user name props! I actually received a plush Chickaletta from my 5yo for Christmas last year!

      1. M*

        Same. I love my manager, co-workers, and the type of work I do, but I’m paid a pittance of a salary and it’s incredibly demoralizing.

    5. Manders*

      I’ll admit, it bummed me out at first because I didn’t realize how little I was making in my high COL area. But now I have some great information for future salary negotiations.

    6. Venus Supreme*

      I was looking through the posts to see who didn’t have a conventional 9-5 office job. Although I’m happy with my current office job I’d like to be away from my desk more. And I’d like to get a sense of how much I could make doing so! I think I remember one person owned their own business as a dog behaviorist? That was cool.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I really liked the post from the Dom – that was cool. The cost of equipment would have me concerned though.

      2. NAME REQUIRED*

        I was hoping to see more of this too, but I am still working through the post. I hope it becomes a regular thing here, very intriguing and useful.

        The salaries and job descriptions were great, but I also liked that some people included what they got their degrees in, or what they transitioned from, etc. I really enjoyed the posts that sorta broke down what they did in their roles as well, I’m always curious about what other people do at work all day – especially people who write in here because all the teapot stuff is so broad and generic (funny, but so generic it’s hard sometimes to get a fuller sense of what some of the problems are)

    7. Sunflower*

      At the first ‘how much money do you make’ I was one of the lowest paid and now it appears I am one of the higher paid for my field/experience. I work in BigLaw so benefits are pretty good but as you can imagine, it’s high pressure and stress. Working in events and being eligible for overtime also pushes my compensation up as there is a lot of overtime/after hours work associated with them.

      I go back and forth a lot, debating whether I’m high or low paid and I was kind of hoping I was on the lower side. I’ve also been wanting to move to NYC for a bit and it’s a little discouraging to see that I’m not going to get as much of a pay bump as I was hoping for by moving to a higher COL. Either way, thanks so much to Allison for doing that again!!!

      1. Triangle Pose*

        Sunflower I’m confised by your post. You work in BigLaw…in a non-attorney role? I thought you were an associate in BigLaw but then you say “working in events and being eligible for overtime” which doesn’t sound like associate role to me.

        1. Sunflower*

          I work for a BigLaw firm in the marketing dept. I’m a coordinator(non-exempt) so I make overtime.

          I guess by ‘field’ i meant event planning as opposed to law! Probably should have prefaced I’m an event planner.

    8. Misquoted*

      I enjoyed it too — very enlightening. And yes, one of my friends found me, mostly because my education is sort of varied.

    9. Sled dog mama*

      Past three years I got 3%, 3%, and 2.5%. I left that job but boss did tell me that he would have been able to give me the max 3% if I had stayed. Took a new job that resulted in a 5% raise and a lower COL. when I finish my certification in the next 18 months or so I’ll be looking at a 20-25% percent bump.

    10. Some kind of coordinator*

      It was fascinating. Also made me nervous because most of the other people with my job title make 1/2 to 2/3 what I do, though – does that mean when I’m done with this position (which is a term, so I know exactly when that is), I’ll have a huge pay cut to look forward to? It looks like “coordinator” is generally an entry-level title, and most people who are departments of one with background and responsibilities like mine seem to be called managers in other organizations.

      1. Manders*

        “Coordinator” is becoming one of those job title buzzwords that can mean about 40 different things. I had “coordinator” in my title when I worked in a call center.

        Now I have “manager” in my title. I don’t manage people, I’m not in a department of one, and I probably never will manage another person at this company. A more accurate title might be “specialist,” but when I look at job postings in the field, I see all kinds of weird titles (including a lot of “gurus,” “ninjas,” “sherpas,” and even the occasional “jedi.”)

        1. Mimmy*

          YES!! At a previous job, my official title was a Teapot Data Coordinator. All I did, at least at first, was data entry.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Ugh, it’s a Silicon Valley thing (gurus/ninjas/sherpas/jedi) that seems to be spreading like the clap—it’s both ridiculous and sometimes offensive.

      2. kw10*

        Job titles vary so much from company to company! I learned that when I was applying for jobs and at different places basically the same job was called Program Assistant, Program Coordinator, and Associate Program Manager. So when your coordinator job ends, hopefully you would be qualified for something higher-sounding with a salary to match :)

    11. krysb*

      For a long time I was underpaid – at the very low end of the median wage for my title and industry – and I had to fight for that $13 an hour. Then, in 2015, we got a new DoO, who looked at my pay and saw what I did and was like “uh-uh.” I was then put on salary (I was a constant overtime seeker), and given a $12,000 a year raise. He still talks about how he almost made me cry in that meeting.

    12. AnotherAnony*

      I realized that I’m in the wrong profession and my salary is really low and everyone makes more than I do! On a serious note, it was interesting to see what other professions make and find out more about it.

      1. Artemesia*

        I was shocked at how little people are paid for substantial jobs. Makes me feel lucky that my kids are doing pretty well and that I made as much as I did although on the low end for my particular profession. In a world where 50K is not a very high salary a lot of people are making a lot more than that doing very important work.

    13. Fortitude Jones*

      I realized I need to stop straddling the line in my field doing risk management/insurance (heavy emphasis on the latter) and fully transition into the former – the risk manager who posted gets PAID. If I could make that where I’m currently living, I could pay off my student loans much quicker.

    14. kw10*

      What I found most interesting was actually not the salaries, but reading about what jobs people have! So many different things and a lot are not what I would think of as common careers. Really fascinating!

    15. Regina 2*

      I can’t say that I read all 2500+ entries, but I actually felt like the salaries this go around were higher than the last go around. I found that interesting; either the reader base that’s coming here is disproportionately in high-paying fields, folks here are getting raises, or wages are going up. I’d like to believe it’s the last one, but I suspect it’s mostly #1.

      I have also been feeling very guilty about my salary (I know, I’m a weirdo) bc I’m in a high COL place that traditionally pays poorly. I had been under the assumption that my current salary was par for my previous high COL/high wage city, but it turns out, I’d be underpaid there. Feel slightly less guilty now!

    16. Anonymous Educator*

      It was fascinating, but what do people think about making it a Google form next time so that the data can be looked at in an easier fashion?

      1. Future Analyst*

        I totally thought about breaking down the info into an Excel sheet, for ease of graphing, etc. Would make it easier to see what the trend is, and which are the outliers. Maybe this weekend!

        1. Just Jess*

          That’s kind of what I did for the 29 jobs related to my field at the mid and senior career levels. Regionally, 11 responses were from the south and 8 were mid-Atlantic, etc. No industry trends jumped out. The median years of experience was 10, but the median salary matched mine. I’m just entering “mid-career” and living in a high COL area. Checks out

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          That’s why I was thinking a Google form, because that automatically dumps input into a spreadsheet (instead of you having to compile it or someone else having to compile it).

          Alison could even share it (read-only, of course) in advance, so people can see the results in real time.

    17. Triangle Pose*

      I really enjoyed it too! Do you think a friendly reader will aggregate the data into a spreadsheet/graph/searchable format like in one of the past years?

      1. Future Analyst*

        I’m up for that! Will see what I can get accomplished this weekend, especially since it’s a long weekend.

    18. Marmalade*

      It was so interesting!
      My main takeaway was just how high most salaries are in America. Taking into account exchange rate etc, most people earn considerably more than they would for the same job in my country (New Zealand), or Western European countries where I have lived.
      (In fact, a couple of the European posters noted this and made comments to the effect of “salaries are generally lower in Europe”).
      I live in an expensive city and I would love an ‘American salary’ for my job!
      Did any other non-USA commenters observe the same?

      1. Caledonia*

        I’m in the UK and noticed that. Then again in the UK anyway, we have -currently- a free national health service, as well as other benefits that generally speaking US workers do not have.
        Despite lower wages, I’d rather keep the way employment works here.

        1. Anon Anon Anon*

          I”m originally from the UK but I’ve spent the majority of my career in the US. The number one reason I won’t go back is because of the low salaries compared to the cost of living.

        2. Marmalade*

          Many people in the US have health insurance through their employer, though, or are insured through ACA and other programs.
          But I agree with your point in general, and especially about other benefits: annual leave, more relaxed work culture, mat leave, etc. And the social safety net in the US is not strong.

      2. Student*

        I’ve always found that fascinating too, but there are solid reasons behind that. There are huge cost of living differences between many European countries and the US, as well as huge cost differences on some specific items (textbooks, medication, jeans, land/housing, certain foods like beef, college education). There are also some huge differences in job security, government services, taxes, and “hidden fees”.

        In my field of science, a well-regarded senior European researcher gets paid half of what his American equivalent does, more in line with entry-level salaries in the field in America. However, in some middle-eastern countries, students still in graduate school for our subject get paid as much as the average American full PhD.

      3. Tau*

        My eyes were very, very wide at the salaries people in my field were earning in the US. I’m both junior and underpaid, sure, but I’m pretty sure there’s no way on Earth I could get some of those figures here in Europe at any stage in my career.

        But like Caledonia said, one has to balance these things against things like health insurance, vacation, worker’s rights, expected working hours, and the like. Even with this added data, I’d still rather stay over here!

      4. Lena*

        I did, but then I also factored in how horrendously expensive their healthcare and tertiary education is.

    19. Anxa*

      I missed Tuesday’s post! Will head over there now. I’ve never made more than 15K a year and I just can’t do it for much longer. I’m going to head over there there now and look to see if there’s anything where you could make 25K+ with a low bar of entry for direct experience.

    20. Rob Lowe can't read*

      I knew that I was paid well for my field and level of seniority, but I didn’t really grasp just how well until I went through the thread and saw other salaries for the same type of position. Honestly, some of the low numbers posted for my field made me pretty furious.

  2. Red Rose*

    Building on the post earlier this week where we reported our salaries, I’d like to know what kind of raises you’ve been getting if you stay with the same job these days. I just got mine (they are annual at the start of most years here) and it was 4%, about what I expected. I’ve been in roughly the same position for 6 years and have never had a higher one.

      1. The Grammarian*

        I didn’t get raises working in higher education. I am hoping that I will, now that I work at a business and not at a university.

      2. ThatGirl*

        My husband (mental health counselor at small private university) got a tiny raise his first year, none since, and a paycut last year (budget woes, university-wide). He was supposed to get a raise in Dec. for FLSA but it was revoked.

      3. 1234*

        I’m in higher ed as well. At my current and past university – both large private universities, totally different geographic regions – we received small (1-3%) annual raises. It’s only the tiniest of bumps in take-home pay, but I’m grateful for it all the same.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          When I worked for a university, we would distinguish between COLA and actual raises. I think folks went over 12 years without a raise (they received COLA in most years, but then the CBA expired and it took 6 years to get a new one signed, which meant 6 years without any income adjustment).

      4. Lemon Zinger*

        I also work in higher ed admin and just got a raise having been in my role for a little less than a year. It was framed as a merit raise, but since it was presented to me by the ED (who doesn’t know me) and was insultingly low, I think it was a COL increase-based raise.

        1. higher ed tenure track*

          no kidding. the merit raise I got this year for the highest rating that they say you only get once in your career here…..2.5.

      5. Lia*

        Yep. The typical raise is 1-2% IF the contract indicates it. In the last 10 years, we have had 6 years with no raises or paycuts. Some are able to negotiate raises (I have), but it is certainly not something to depend on.

        Oh, and we don’t get free tuition or even a discount on it, either. This is a very large state university in the NE.

      6. Ally A*

        In my higher ed department, we receive yearly merit-based increases of around 2.5%/year. The department gets a bucket of money for raises from the college and then distributes them based on performance evals. No one can get more than the 2.5% prescribed increase and very few ever get less than that. I recently got a promotion that included a very nice raise (around 22%) after being here 2 1/2 years.

        1. kbeers0su*

          I don’t even know what to say to this. I work in Student Affairs and have been at three different schools with only one pidly (I think it was COL) raise ever (.7%). So I’m guessing you’re not also in SA?

          1. Ally A*

            Nope, I’m in an academic department (though my job is not academic). It’s also a very large public state university if that matters.

      7. Doink*

        Sigh. So true. I’ve been in my first higher ed job/job out of grad school for a few years now with no pay increase, while living expenses continue to grow. It doesn’t help that I’m at a small-ish public university in a state with serious economic woes. I’m starting to think that it might be time to move on even though I do like my job and don’t have the energy/drive for applications and the ridiculous process that is hiring in academia.

        1. Dr. KMnO4*

          I’m with you on the not having the energy/drive for hiring in academia. As a not-especially-well-paid VAP I’m weighing the pros/cons of applying for jobs to get on the tenure-track and make more money. If I spend the time (and oh how much time it is) and don’t get a job then I’ll feel like my time is wasted. If I don’t spend the time then I’m here next year at the same salary most likely.

      8. Emac*

        I worked in higher ed admin for about 4 years and got a raise every year, including an across the board re-adjustment of salaries once, but I was also part of a union.

      9. Sabrina the Teenage Witch*

        I work in higher ed administration as well and generally every year I get a 2-3% raise depending on what score I received on my performance evaluation. I was changed from exempt to salaried non-exempt with the expectation of the new overtime law. My boss says I am very unpaid, so I am getting overtime to try and make a case for an exempt salary to the higher ups.

      10. RavensandOwls*

        They were for us, but in lump sum… our university incorporated a “money for your colleges is based on the research you do, patents/papers you publish, and prestige you get” and, well… we did very well as we’re the science branch of a Research One university. Can’t say the same for some of the others. Everyone got one of two amounts based on their yearly evals, which wasn’t much but it WAS something.

        (I’m still floored that, here in AZ, I got a nearly $10k raise when I went to higher ed from being a teacher with over 5 years experience. It’s so gross.)

      11. Jillociraptor*

        We have mandatory merit and equity increases each year, except they’re not funded at the center, so they end up being a budget cut for most departments. On the one hand, I appreciate that it’s not optional to increase salaries each year, at least a little bit, because the political will it requires to get a substantial increase through is so high. But on the other hand, we work in an area where it’s very hard to monetize our work in a way that comports with our values (e.g. we don’t want to just create more student fees, or charge by the service), so we end up having to cut positions in order to fund others.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      I’m at a big company and they hover between 1-3% for standard raises. I got 6% with a promotion.

      I didn’t get a raise this year but I got a small r.etention b.onus that v.ests over 7 years, which made me LOL because annually it breaks down to less than I spend on makeup.

      1. Future Analyst*

        Ugh, sorry. For me, it’s usually more insulting that they think something measly like that will make up for other things (like not getting a raise, etc.)

    2. Emac*

      I’ve generally gotten about 3%, but last year got about 7% because some new duties were added to my job.

    3. Catalin*

      I’ve been around 3-4% for the last 5 years, but I got a huge raise this last year. It depends on how your company is doing more than anything else.

      1. regina phalange*

        my current company is the first one I’ve worked for who does merit increases every year. I believe standard is 3%. I’ve gotten between 1-4% (the 1% was because I started the job in September so when merit increases came along I had only been with the company three months). When I got promoted the % was much, much higher.

    4. Tech Writer*

      FYI, I haven’t had more than a 3% raise since the early 1990s. Every place I’ve worked since then, I’ve gotten a COLA the first year or two (usually one point something percent) and then heard the “raises are frozen” speech from that point on.

    5. Lily in NYC*

      That sounds about right (even a bit higher than usual) for a long-term position. I tend to get 2% or 3% (I’m considered a bit overpaid here so I can’t really complain) and I usually get 4% after a few years of lower raises. There have been a few years here where I got nothing at all (regardless of good reviews).

    6. Red Reader*

      Our range is usually 2.5-4 percent, depending on the outcome of your performance review. They also usually do a bonus payout and a bonus 401k deposit, each at either a dollar amount or a percentage of your gross pay for the previous year, whichever is higher. I think last year it was $250 or 0.75%? Those are usually end of summer, the raises are effective the first pay check in June.

    7. ThatGirl*

      I was originally a contractor here for 5 1/2 years, and in that time I was paid hourly and got some decent-sized raises, but they were intermittent and I basically had to ask and make a case for one. In those 5 years my pay went up 3 times about $1.25 an hour each time.

      In the past three years since going full time/salaried my raises have been 2, 2.5 and 3% – which has been pretty typical among my team, they didn’t give managers a lot to work with. But now I have health insurance and other benefits.

    8. Temperance*

      I had two raises last year, totaling 50%. That’s not the norm whatsoever, though. I was fairly underpaid.

    9. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      Until my current job, for the past 9 years I only got a raise when I moved companies. This year, after being here just about a year, I got a 4% raise. Raises are usually between 1 and 7% from what I understand.

        1. F.*

          No, just an owner who sucks out all the money for himself and leaves just enough to keep the company on life support.

    10. Tableau Wizard*

      Our annual across the board raises are between 2.5-3%.
      In my first two years, I received promotions/raises that totalled an increase in my salary by 50% from my starting salary, though I argued for a portion of that with my original offer (raise of X$ after achieving Y certification).

    11. Poppy*

      I managed to get a 5% raise one year when half my teammembers quit, but that was the only time and I’ve been at my job over 4 years. We get cost of living increases, but they’re hilariously small, less than .5% percent (we’re a non-profit).

    12. Emi.*

      I work for the feds and I get 2.88%, including locality (DC area). It’s my first job so I have no idea how this compares to other years or the private sector.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        That’s really good! Raises were frozen when I worked for the feds, including a freeze on COLA. I think the freeze was lifted in 2014, but our COLA increase was something like 1.6-1.8% (raises were still frozen).

        1. Emi.*

          Oh yay! Thanks :) We’ve been living just fine on what I made before, so it’s all going straight into savings (except for charitable giving).

    13. DaniCalifornia*

      I’ve gotten between 8-9% the last four years at my office. I’ve been here for 4.5 years. It’s a small office and my boss is awesome.

    14. H.C.*

      for me it was about 2-4% annually and about 10% with title promotion (largely same duties but more projects and less supervision)

    15. Bomb Yogi*

      I’ve been with my company (a corporation) for about five years. In the past five years, I’ve held a few different roles: Teapot Maker and Senior Teapot Maker. My company usually gives an annual 3% raise for high performers, which I have gotten every year. When I moved departments two years ago, it was a lateral move but I got an 8% raise. Last year I asked for more money and I got a 4.5% raise overall. Moving from different departments, even laterally, is how a lot of people make more money here.

    16. Hush42*

      I’m definitely not the benchmark because I was underpaid until this past march. In March I got a 15% raise, in August I got a 13% raise, and this coming June I’ll get another raise that’ll be at least 13%. However the one in March was because I got promoted to a different position and the one in June will be because I’ll finally have my Bachelor’s Degree. The one in August was because my manager was trying to bring my pay up to a reasonable level.
      Overall in the company they typically only give performance raises or raises with promotions. I know that one of my co workers hasn’t had a raise in 4 years but that’s partly because she’s been in the same position for 15 years and has reached the upper pay levels for her position.

    17. Today I'm Anon*

      I set raises for our department, so I know the company target for the last 5 years has been around 3%. However, this year is the only year I’ve been at the 3% and that was for company wide reasons, not because of my work. It’s higher all other years (up to 10%), and I’ve nearly doubled the salary I started at. My one direct report’s raises have been significantly higher too, and she deserves every penny.

    18. Econ*

      I was pretty aggressive in my first year, and end up with an 11-12% raise from my starting salary (stepped up at 6 months, then again at year end). The following year, I got a 6-7% raise. I think that raises at my workplace are usually about 2.5% for COLA, and merit-based raises usually 4-8% depending on how the role has grown.

    19. Jadelyn*

      People at my org get anywhere from 0-5% depending on their performance (and their team budget has to average to 3.5% overall, so the manager can’t give everyone 5%). Bad year = PIP and 0-1%; good year but already over your salary range = 1% COLA; average-to-good year = 2-3.5%; excellent year 4-5%. Managers can also request a salary adjustment for their employees separately from the annual increases, if the individual is below where they should be for their experience/education/performance history in the role.

    20. AshK434*

      I work in higher education. I get an annual 1-2% COL adjustment and an additional 3% raise during performance review time.

    21. Graphic Designer (37 years)*

      I got a raise at my current job (10 years so far) after the first year and that was it until 2015 when they cut my hours to 32 from 40 but gave a raise with adjustment to my 401K contribution (less) that I still have the same paycheck amount as if I was doing a 40 hour week.

      The extra day a week off is keep me sane at the moment because the turmoil in this company is stressful since my immediate boss left because the owners don’t know s**t about running it and making intelligent choices money-wise (think bouncing vendor checks).

      And I relate to today’s post about the online job application forms – I think they totally work against the creative people.

    22. Ann Furthermore*

      I just started a new job a couple months ago. It’s a small company, so I have no idea how the review/raise process will go. My last employer was a subsidiary of a huge international corporation. The parent dictated how much was available for raises, and it was never enough, especially in the last couple of years with the focus being on cost control (AKA make people so miserable that they’ll quit, thereby saving you money on severance packages when you finally outsource their jobs). Raises were usually in the range of 1% – 3%, with maybe 4% if you were a superstar. The whole thing irked me…bust your ass all year and get 1% more than the person who just did enough to stay under the radar and get by.

    23. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      I’ve been at my company just under a year, so I haven’t been part of the annual raises yet. I have asked my coworker and she says every year we get 2% merit increases, never more, and not more than 6% for a promotion. I’m very curious to know whether this is accurate! It seems pretty low to me.

    24. Anonnnnnn*

      Raises at my company are typically 2% a year for high-performing employees which is unfortunately not really sufficient as even just a cost-of-living increase in my city. Got a 10% raise with a promotion last year which was great but was then not eligible for the 2% raise that year.

      My previous job which had much worse benefits than my current job would typically give 4% per year for high-performers until the company started basically falling apart at which point there were either 1% raises or no raises, and no bonuses for anybody (hence the job change).

      Both corporate desk-jockey type jobs.

    25. Fenchurch*

      In my position, they give us a merit-based raise that tops out at 3% yearly, I’m usually about 2.5%.

      1. Gaara*

        Adding: the 6% was a promotion. The other years, where raises approached zero, were just standard (below-market) raises.

    26. Olive Hornby*

      Old Company started people out low but gave very substantial raises at midyear and end of year–my salary went up about 20% in the ~16 months I was there (no title change during that time.) New Company starts higher but has more standardized 3% raises for non-bonus-eligible employees, plus salary bumps with promotions/title changes.

    27. Anon Anon Anon*

      I’ve been with my current employer for a decade. I’ve gotten a raise of between 3-5% every year. When I’ve received promotions raises have been from 10-20% depending on the type of promotion. It’s enough that my salary has increased by about 75% since I’ve been here.

    28. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I got a 6% raise this year, which was a market adjustment (we don’t have performance raises, just bonuses, but we do have adjustments each year that take into consideration COL as well as changes in the employment market).

    29. Fortitude Jones*

      I got a 2% merit raise after 8 months with my company and then 5.2% raise (at the same time) from the division I was permanently placed in (was in a training program and this was a promotion). Six months later I got a 2.5% raise from that same division (they claimed they prorated it because I hadn’t been there a full year and they had already given me a 5.2% raise. 10 months later, I was promoted into another division and given a 10.2% raise, but again, that was promotion and not merit-based. So if I don’t get another promotion in March, it’ll be interesting to see what the raise will be. If it’s less than 5%, I’m leaving either the company or the division (division jumping tends to produce more cash) – I did entirely too much last year to get what amounts to a damn cost of living increase.

    30. Legal Assistant*

      I’m a complete fluke, but I keep getting excellent raises. I believe it’s b/c the firm realizes their benefits aren’t great. Over the past five years, my raises have been 8%, 8%, 14%, 10% and 11%. In that order.

    31. Felicia*

      I’ve been at this job about 2 and a half years. I got a 10% raise after three months, an additional 15% raise at about a year, and then an additional 14% raise at 2 years. I didn’t have to ask for any of them. I was told in advance that this year, there was no more budget for a raise of more than 3% and I’m undecided if i’ll ask for more.

    32. Tax Accountant*

      I started my first year in public accounting making 50,000. By the end of the first year I was making about 55k, but that year a lot of people quit because they were being underpaid so that 10% was from two different raises, because they looked at the compensation structure after all those people quit and gave those of us left a second raise to get us to market rates. By the end of my second year I was making 58k, then I got a promotion and by the end of my third year I was making 63k. I also got a 2k bonus for passing the CPA exam sometime during my second year.

      Now I’m working for a private company making 65k, and am not expecting more than a 2% raise ever again. But the work is much easier and a lot fewer hours. If I wanted to go back to public accounting, I know I could make a lot more money and have a lot more potential for promotions, etc, but I am not willing to make the lifestyle sacrifices at this point in my life (I have a 2 year old).

    33. Triangle Pose*

      3%-5% every year unless you get a promotion/title change, in which case we’re talking 10%/15%/20% and maybe a higher percentage-of-base-salary bonus. This seems high when reading other commenters but compared to the 50k bonuses from BigLaw, seems low.

    34. hbc*

      My company kinda sucks in this respect. They never raise (ha) the subject themselves, and they’ve failed to act on our requests to set up some sort of guideline or add this as part of the review process. So we’ve got to bring it up, and it’s very awkward, and we kind of have to prove that we’ve earned it even though we have no idea what metric they’re using. And the answer has never been “Ok, cool, you’re right.” It’s “Well, we can put together a two year plan of how you’ll do this and this and get to this other number in 9 months.”

      I truly don’t think they’re doing it on purpose, but it’s a stressful enough cycle that you end up delaying asking until much later than you really should.

    35. Anxa*

      When I first started, we didn’t get a raise in my last job (tutoring at comm college). Then they opened up raises and the past 2 years were about $.25/hour

    36. Rob Lowe can't read*

      I’ve enjoyed a fixed annual 2.5% raise for the past 3 years (since I started working professionally in my field), but we just learned that those are going away for at least the next 3-4 years.

    37. Bad Candidate*

      At my company it’s around 1-3% for merit increases. Last year I was told in my review that I did really well and that it would translate into a better raise. Most people got nothing, so I guess 2.5% was better? I did get a promotion to the next level in November, and got 5% from that, so I guess that’s something.

    38. Nerfmobile*

      I work for a software company. Raises are based on performance, and I know generally at my company the average over the past few years has been between 1% and 2%. I know of people who got 0%, and some high performers who got 4%.

    39. Managing Editor*

      In almost a decade in my previous job, I never received a COL raise or any kind of salary increase that wasn’t part of a promotion. My first promotion came with a 10% raise, which sounds pretty good but since my starting salary was $28k, it didn’t actually make a huge difference in my paycheck. My last raise/promotion was a 25% raise, which was unexpected and actually enough to be somewhat life-changing. I sort of assume I was underpaid and the giant bump was to put me in line with where other people in my role at the company were, salary-wise.

      And then I was laid off a year later, so -100%. (womp womp)

    40. Anonyby*

      I’m at a non-traded company (though I think if you go up a couple levels of owned-by you’ll get to one, and they pass down their policies). The max raise one can get in a year for performance is 2%. Before we got bought out, we didn’t get any raises at all.

    41. Kat M*

      After my first year at my last job and rave reviews, I got a 4% raise. Apparently my boss got in trouble for that, though, as she didn’t have permission to rate someone as “above target” or give them that much of an increase. The next year she flat-out told me that she was only authorized to give me a maximum of 2.5% increase and I was “on target” in all areas. She asked for and received a demotion shortly after that. She was very happy to be back in direct service and no longer worrying about management drama like that.

  3. Bend & Snap*

    I finally have my foot in the door at a big company and was in final rounds for 2 roles—11 INTERVIEWS in total.
    I followed up on role 1 after the holidays and was told they’d already hired someone. Okay.
    Role 2 I completed the last interviews for last Friday. They asked for references and work samples. I sent those off immediately.
    References haven’t been called and I haven’t heard a peep since. The recruiter thought they’d make a decision this week.
    So…how long till I follow up, and how long till I worry?

    1. Future Analyst*

      I know it sucks (I really, really do), but move on and pretend you’ve heard that they’ve hired someone else. Keep applying elsewhere, and if they do happen to make you an offer, it can be a pleasant surprise. Even if they said they’ll make a decision this week, it really could be months before anything happens.

    2. College Career Counselor*

      I’d wait until the end of the month and follow up with the recruiter ONCE if you haven’t heard by then. After that, move on with your job search and put it out of your mind as best you can. The recruiter is just giving you what they hope will happen, not what is going to happen.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        The other thing I’ve realized as a hiring manager is that even when I’ve made my decision, it might be another week before I can reach out to folks, since there are so many approvals needed, and those folks might be out of the office, etc.

  4. Tech Writer*

    Tech Writers discussion!

    I know some folks wanted to ask questions and carry this discussion into the open thread, so here we are! :)

    1. Sharon*

      I would love to know what others use for document version control. My team is responsible for managing a set of documentation where the “audience” is our external customers. We’re currently managing them as a collection of Word documents, and have a rather long review process. This means that we often manage different versions of a document simultaneously and then have to manually merge the changes into the current master version after it’s approved. It’s a freaking nightmare. We have and use Sharepoint but SP doesn’t do document merging that I know of. Any ideas?

      1. Tech Writer*

        Ours are handled via smoke, magic, and SAP, but (and I think this is key) only the newest version of a doc is live. Once we’ve rolled a new rev, the old rev is immediately archived.

        Does your group assign ownership of documents (“only Jill works on the widget docs; Bob works on gizmos”) or do you all work on everything? Ownership can help with version control too.

      2. Mockingjay*

        SharePoint 2013 allows collaborative editing of one document, using MS Word 2013, but that doesn’t give you control of the process.

        For external reviews by the customer, we use line-numbered PDFs and a spreadsheet to capture comments.

        1. Word Document Draft reviewed internally using SharePoint workflows and version history.

        2. Prepare line-numbered PDF and post (or email) with an Excel sheet to capture comments by external customer. We get stuff such as: “Line 47, describe the step more fully and add a figure to illustrate.”

        3. We then accept or reject the comments, annotating why in the worksheet.

        4. Incorporate accepted comments and changes into the master Word document to produce the final. The excel sheet is used as a checklist to make sure everything got addressed.

        A little cumbersome, but it works. I’ve used it for several federal customers. For some projects, we post in a specific library that the customer has access to. Others we’ve just had to deal with emailing the spreadsheet from one reviewer to the next.

      3. Emac*

        I’m not a tech writer, but could you use Google Docs, since then you could all be editing the document at the same time?

        1. Tech Writer*

          I’m not a fan of shared docs. It’s so easy to inadvertently delete the important change someone else just made… and in some industries, that can be a critical safety issue.

          1. Franzia Spritzer*

            There is a group editing function that shows suggested changes, and a space for a note stating why the change. It has to be approved before any permanent change is applied to the document. If your team is cordial with each other, nobody can inadvertently overwrite someone else’s work.

      4. Algae*

        At an old workplace, we used a software called DocCompliance that was specifically designed for document version control. It was easy to use and the documents could be viewed by anyone, but they could only be changed under the aegis of Document Control. And, while we didn’t use it, they had a companion software that allowed for collaborative editing of documents.

      5. Turtle Candle*

        Our documentation is written in HTML (with CSS for formatting), and then compiled into the required output formats (sometimes online help, sometimes Word, sometimes PDF, sometimes other things). Since HTML files are basically text, we use a version control system (think Git or Subversion), which allows us to review, merge, roll back, etc., any changes that we see on update.

      6. Ann O.*

        I’m not following the specifics of your issue. Would using something like Adobe shared review so that everyone is reviewing a single PDF help (because then there’s a single source for the doc merge)? Or is the issue that you can’t edit live content in the same Word source file because of needing to support the old version?

        Assuming it’s the latter, I think you need to switch out of Word and into something like Framemaker or DITA that supports conditionalization of content.

      7. Jen RO*

        I am not sure exactly what you are asking, so I will answer two questions.

        What do we use internally for collaboration/review?
        Our tools of choice are RoboHelp and FrameMaker, and we have all our source files in a source control system (SVN). This solves the collaboration part very neatly (most of our products have 3+ TW who work together).
        Reviews are done… basically however the TW and the SMEs decide. I prefer to send Word documents back and forth, but some of my BAs would rather do the review in real-time, with screen sharing.

        What do we use to give customers access?
        We have a documentation site that uses a CMS called Umbraco. I don’t recommend it. The upload procedure is painful in Umbraco, so in the end we switch to a simple FTP upload mechanism. Basically, we have the pages themselves in Umbraco, but we link directly to the documents on the FTP server. We don’t have a versioning process in place – if we need to keep more than one version on a certain doc, we just create a new folder or something. In general, we only publish/keep the latest version for one development stream.

    2. The Grammarian*

      I am also here for the tech writing discussion! Do you all author in XML, and if so, what authoring software do you use?

      1. Tech Writer*

        We’re using XMetaL right now, and we also use a content management system. But we’re a pretty big company.

        At my previous, much smaller job, we also used a content management system, and we worked mostly in Word, but we had the ability to edit live content in Dreamweaver. That… was not ideal. ;)

      2. Toodie*

        About two years ago we switched from having PDFs generated in Word and stored in an LMS to having all docs available through a “knowledge base” built on Mindtouch. In that time we’ve also grown from one tech writer to three, and we’re just starting to have some versioning issues.

      3. Ann O.*

        Yay, tech writers!

        My team uses oXygen and authors specifically in DITA. We have a CMS that I hate, but I LOVE oXygen.

    3. Franzia Spritzer*

      I haven’t been able to jump onto AAM until the end of the day today, I hope I’m sooo late to this party!

      I wanted to ask about career development. What were your first steps into tech writing? What is your education? Did you have a trail or writing samples when you were hired? Did you produce those sample when you applied? Is there a cert or expected coursework like with project management or is it trial by fire?

      As I said in the TW thread in the pay post:

      Since the dawn of my working life have always been the person to write process documentation for the role I’m in, from my military jobs to, web dev, retail, non-profit and arts management junk I’ve done. Before the tech bubble burst way back when I’d be invited to dev and design meetings to translate between engineers and designers, read people, and provide non-partisan feedback. I have always enjoyed doing this work, and sadly don’t have much of a trail or writing samples.

      I do have professional samples, just not many. I went through my full CV to highlight the jobs in which writing has been a major part of the work and it looks like about 75% has included process documentation and grant writing, in addition to my blogging (~1996). I have been struggling to find work since I graduated from grad school last spring, and I’m ready to consider pivoting my search in another direction. (Part of that is wrestling with my understanding of experience, I’ve been in the workforce 25 years, AND I just graduated from college. Where do I fit?) I have more than entry level experience writing, but it’s not all in the same place and certainly not under the guise of technical writing, I’m wondering how to repackage my skills for tech writing, if I’m even really a good fit for it.

      1. Sr. Tech Writer*

        I transitioned from a PhD program in a STEM subject to tech writing a loong time ago. I had a friend who was a programmer and he put me in touch with the head of the tech writing department. Word-of-mouth is a great way to get your first tech writing job! She gave me a writing test & I didn’t do that great (problems were more about how to be a tech writer than general writing), but she gave me feedback and then I got the job.

        I don’t hire, so take all of the following with a grain of salt. It sounds like you could be a good tech writer. Some requirements are: you like to learn, you have a certain level of technical fearlessness (you will always be writing about things you don’t fully understand), you can take criticism (because everyone will read your work and it matters more if it is accurate than if it is well-written — ideally, of course, it is both, but sometimes you have to choose), you can be persistent in getting information. Tech writing tends to be feast or famine — you spend a lot of time waiting for the software to be ready to be documented, and then by the time it is, it needs to go out yesterday.

        There are tech writing courses and degrees and though not all tech writers go through them, they will expose you to what tech writing is about. I will post a link in a separate post in a minute. If your local community college has a course, I might look at that — community colleges are cost-effective and you might get a portfolio entry out of it. You might also be able to get a look at professional software. I do not know the current recommending tech writing books, but take a look on Amazon. (The Handbook of Technical Writing seems to be popular — and expensive — but you might be able to pick up an older edition second-hand.)

        For a portfolio, there are a couple ways to create one. There are lots of open source software projects — if you can find one that interests you and that you can contribute to, great! Even better if you are using some kind of HTML or wiki markup to create the doc — it shows you have skills that go beyond Word. However, realistically, these are pretty technical and without access to a technical SME (subject matter expert), it can be hard to get traction. Projects that are less technical may not showcase your tech writing skills (like writing on the Habitica wiki wouldn’t help). I think for entry-level positions, you can construct a bogus project of some kind, one that showcases the different types of things that are in a tech document: overview topic, how-to topics with numbered steps, reference topics, cross-references, autonumbering, importing a file by reference or other way of embedding the same source file two different locations in your document. Basically you need to develop and demonstrate a combination of tools and writing skills.

        Look also for technical editor positions — those require you to use the same tools, but expect less technical savvy and less complexity, so it is certainly a place where some people start.

        It is good to get some exposure to modern tech writing software, if you can. It has a different focus than other software. There are different types.
        Some documentation tools, like Oxygen or Javadoc, are about putting comments inline in someone’s program and then running it through an engine that generates the software from your comments. If you have a friend who programs, they may be able to set up the engine for you and have you work on the comments. This would display your technical fearlessness and ability to work inside the straightjacket of API documentation.
        Some documentation tools are wiki-based, and if you can write instructional stuff on a wiki, that is a good thing to show. GitHub/Markdown are in this category.
        Then there are the proprietary expensive documentation tools, which are the ones that you don’t know what they are and can’t get ahold of to practice on. But they are important. The current approach to tech writing is about writing lots of little topics and then combining them in different ways and publishing them in different places. For example you might deliver the same content three ways: online as HTML, inside a product as help files, and finally as a PDF. So tools are very focused on this content reuse, and that’s important because that does affect the way you organize and write your documentation. Some of the words in this space are: DITA (which is a standard, rather than a tool — one tool that is used for it is XMeTAL), Madcap Flare, RoboHelp. These all use some kind of XML source code to write and store the documentation, with a Wysiwig tool layered on top. As I said, they are focused on short topics that you glue together. It’s less important that you’ve had the exact tool that someone wants, and more important that you have shown you can navigate any one of these complex tools. I personally find DITA too rigid and don’t apply to jobs that require it. For Flare or RoboHelp, you might try the free trials, but presumably they are short-lived (Flare’s is 30 days). There is an intro book for RoboHelp on Amazon — it may not be great, but it would give you a flavor of what these tools involve and steps for learning. Because these tools are so complex, and so idiosyncratic, I think exposure to one of them is a big plus, even if it’s not the exact one they ask for. I use Flare, and I would never hesitate to apply for a job that required RoboHelp, for example.

        Plusses if you can draw a simple diagram. You should also know how to take a screenshot and put it in a document — if I was making a sample from scratch, I would include screenshots if appropriate.

      2. Ann O.*

        Networking. I hate to be so cliche about it, but that’s the way everyone I know who’s done a career switch has done it. Once you’re past the initial switch, it’s easier to get jobs through applying cold. I switched from Social Science academia, but I’d tutored writing in the Engineering department. So I had some proof that I could handle technical content. Although you sounds like a GREAT fit, so you may get lucky with the right cold application.

        I’ve never had to or heard of anyone needing to do a full on portfolio… just a single writing sample. Sometimes companies will have you do a skills test as part of the interview where they give you something to document or edit.

        There’s a lot of jargon in current tech comm departments, so you may want to read some tech writer blogs to get an idea of that. You probably want to know what DITA is, what Information Development/Information Architecture mean, and you may want to be familiar with documentation philosophies like Information Mapping or minimalism. I recommend browsing the Center for Information Development archives for that… I think they’re free and online off the website. But there is a LOT of variety in how companies handle tech writing, so I personally feel that the most important thing is someone learns new tools quickly, can self-teach, and can handle quick changing environments.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I despair of ever being able to do this–every job listing asks for experience in different document software and I have nothing but Word and Acrobat. I don’t even know what these programs are. :'(

      No one cares how well I write and edit because it’s all about software. Oh, and of course I have to be a g*ddamn SME on top of that. Never mind that I spent four years editing dense AF banking software reports and I have NO banking and NO software experience. I found ONE entry-level job I can do and it turns out to be in a horrible place I don’t want to ever move to.

      Also, I wish to h3ll everybody would stop listing jobs as “Technical Writer” when they really mean “Marketing Copywriter.”

      /bitter rant set off by reading pie-in-the-sky job listings and realizing she will never get out of here is now over

      1. Trixie*

        Elizabeth, did you your previous job bring you to the area you live in now? I remembered you were looking for something new and ideally away from current city.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          No, I moved here way back in 2000 after a breakup. I was working down here and going to school, and moved here afterward because of that. I stupidly thought I could stay here but it took me ten years of trying to realize there is NOTHING here for me. I have friends but they’re not close BFF friends, and there is literally nobody to date. (I tried everything, and I’m not the only person here who is experiencing this). Nothing to do, nowhere to go–it’s like a giant prison camp. I take advantage of every opportunity that comes up but none of them ever bear fruit. I might as well be invisible.

          All the jobs suck unless you can code or do massive amounts of Excel, but I will have this problem no matter where I go. That’s why I’m trying to leverage what little skill I have because nobody’s paying me millions of dollars to write books (dream job ahahaha).

      2. Ann O.*

        Find your local Society for Technical Communicators group or equivalent and start going. Breaking into technical communication is often about networking.

        But also, if you’re seeing a lot of the same programs requested (for example, DITA, oXygen/xMetal, Framemaker) Google them and learn what they are. You can do YouTube tutorials. If a team uses DITA, it really is important for a new hire to know how to do it. It can be picked up on the fly, but it takes time. Companies will transition existing writers from Word or Framemaker to DITA because the existing writers have product knowledge. It’s worth it to deal with the tools-related delay. But it’s not worth it for a new hire–especially one without documentation experience. However, none of the tech comm tools that I’ve ever worked with are hard.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          No groups here. I live in Bumblef*ck Egypt. Which is part of the problem.

          They’re not the same–that’s the problem. Most of the listings ask for different stuff. How many programs can there be!? I’ve been making a list. But how can I use a YouTube tutorial for a program I don’t have and can’t afford? Do I have to *koff*find it another way*koff*? Maybe an older copy might be cheaper or even free somewhere…

          1. Ann O.*

            You’re probably running into a bunch of content management systems. There aren’t really that many other specialized things in standard technical communications. Most content management systems aren’t that different from each other outside of the UI. The big difference is whether a team uses Word/Framemaker or DITA/HTML.

            Many programs have 30 day trials, so that’s how you could prep for a specific program. It’s going to be challenging without being able to network, though. :(

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Oh you’re probably right. I see what you mean.

              One of the most frustrating things is the subject matter expertise–“Must have knowledge of automobile manufacturing,” or “Must have 214563265192814 years’ experience in pharmaceutical alchemy with a side of Nicholas Flamel.” I mean, I can see their point. But there just isn’t anything I’m knowledgeable about at that level, not without starting all over again with a completely new degree. I edited banking software recommendation reports for four f*cking years without any knowledge of programming or banking, and did them well. But I was hired as an admin, not an editor; there were no openings in the doc department to move into the entire time I worked there; and I can’t get higher-level admin jobs even if there are lots of reports because THEY ARE ALL EXCEL AND FINANCIAL REPORTS.

              I GIVE UP

      3. Jen RO*

        Tools are sooooo unimportant. If so many companies in the US are making tools a requirement, I think they are making a big mistake. Someone who can write and edit is much, much more of an asset than someone who knows RoboHelp. You can learn the basics in a day! I have a standard presentation I give to all new joiners – it just takes an hour.

        <– frustrated by people who slip through the interview process and DON'T know how to edit.

        (By the way, if you're interested and we can find a way, I'd be glad to give you a video demo of the tools I use at work. They have a free 3o-day trial so you can play with them by yourself afterward.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yeah, it’s subject matter expertise too, as I commented above. I did apply for a job that would have trained me in their product, but it turned out to be in a location that was a no-go. :(

  5. Catalin*

    When do I inform my bosses that my Grandfather might be dying and I may need to take time off? I’ve already told the people who will cover my work when I’m gone, and my grandboss is vaguely aware of his bad health, but I haven’t brought up any details.

    1. The One with the Brother*

      It was uncertain if my grandmother was going to die in early October. It became more certain later on — my parents called and basically said, “She’s got about a week.” When they were certain, that’s when I gave my boss a head’s up. I might not have, except I took a lot of time off just a few months before for my brother’s (unexpected) death, and since all my family live 500+ miles away, I knew it would mean more than just a day off to attend the services.

    2. Pup Seal*

      First off, I’m sorry about your grandfather.

      If you’re certain your grandfather is going to pass, I’d tell your bosses as soon as possible. At my last job, one of my co-workers got word that her grandfather was in the hospital, and she told our boss about it right away. Not even a day later, he passed away. Since our boss was already aware of the situation, he was already prepared for her to take time off.

      Also, a few years ago, a friend and I were getting coffee together and were discussing our summer plans. He said he was sure a funeral would happen sometime in the summer because his grandma was so sick. Not even a week later, she passed.

    3. Partly Cloudy*

      I’m sorry about your grandfather. :(

      Since your co-workers (“people who would cover [your] work”) already know, I’d tell your bosses immediately. Sometimes bosses get annoyed about being the last to know about stuff like this (impending absences, not personal tragedies) and it may rub them the wrong way that you told your team before them.

    4. Jenbug*

      If you have a good relationship with your boss, I’d let them know now. A few years ago, both my grandfather and my uncle were in the hospital at the same time, both in ICU, and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I let my direct supervisor know about the situation. Both ended up being okay (though they have both since passed). It was good to let my boss know though just in case I did need time off and also because I might have been a bit distracted/upset.

    5. Jenna P.*

      I am so sorry about your grandfather. Mine just passed away a few weeks ago, when I was just at the tail end of my Christmas vacation. I texted my boss earlier in the vacation, when I got an email from my aunt that he was close to going to tell her that it might happen. Then again when he died.

    6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I am so sorry about your grandfather. I would recommend sharing the news sooner than later. My grandfather was in/out of the hospital with a stroke, and it was very uncertain how severe the stroke was (i.e., would he recover, were we looking at long-term/hospice care, would he pass). I told my boss ASAP, and it made it much easier to take time when I needed to.

      I don’t think you need to wait until his health so deteriorates that it’s an “any day now” situation. I would just let your boss know that he’s in failing health, that it’s unclear when/if he will pass, and that you may need some flexibility when taking time off because of it (and then ask how to help set things up so you can do that).

    7. ChemMoose*

      Tell your boss now and ask what the company policy is on leave. This will give your boss information on your mental state of mind, and if your grandfather does pass, then it makes it easier to tell them.

      I actually asked this question not too long ago & it was answered here: https://www.askamanager.org/2016/11/i-dont-want-to-tell-coworkers-about-my-weight-loss-surgery-client-called-me-beloved-and-more.html

      Also as an update, my grandfather just passed yesterday. My company is really great on leave (up to 5 days), but it turns out grandpa didn’t want anyone standing out in the cold. (My family is from Michigan). I’ll take it later when the weather gets nice and we can hold his military salute according to his wishes.

    8. VioletEMT*

      I would say it depends slightly on how much time you’d be taking off and how much notice you’d be able to give.

      My uncle lived a two hour drive away. I told my manager when my uncle went into hospice that we were in an any-day-now sort of situation, and I might need a day near the end and a day or two for the funeral. The day near the end would be shorter notice, and the funeral would have a bit more notice. He said, “Thanks for the heads-up,” and helped me put backups on standby.

  6. Aunt Margie at Work*

    So yeah, driving in today, I thought, hey, it’s Friday. OH! Open thread day. Hey, that’s five syllables. Like a haiku. Yes, i have a long commute. And now I will share its highlights with you:

    Highway Haiku collection:

    My coworker sucks
    Alison I need your help
    Tell me what to say

    I need a new job
    Sculpting rice or chocolate
    Ask a Manager

    Jo ah quin sculpts rice
    His supervisor is nuts
    Ask a Manager

    I can’t take days off
    Wakeen and Jane are dating
    Ask a Manager

      1. Trotwood*

        Oh man, the historical AAM haikus are fun! Tried my hand:

        Work bro ate my lunch
        Spent the afternoon puking
        HR fired me?

        I can’t quite “master”
        What to call Sally’s new beau
        Leave that kink at home

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      One more, limerick style. Thanks for the inspiration, Aunt Margie!

      My boss’s brother needs a liver,
      But I’m not that kind of giver.
      We will all be fired
      And the brother expired
      If not one of us can deliver.

      1. NAME REQUIRED*

        I’m dying … figuratively. This thread is great.

        Hm.. wonder if the guy ever got a liver.

        (my friends son got a liver the other day, 3 days after acute failure out of no where. he’s 12 though, so I’m sure the rush for him was heightened)

    2. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

      Alison wishes
      all can shape their working lives
      with satisfaction.

      Self-understanding
      over time yields joy far more
      than fear or loathing.

      To thyself be true
      but also move to the good
      not away from bad.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      These are very funny!

      That said, I’m going to be a curmudgeon here and apologize in advance for that … but as amusing as they are, I prefer we don’t do this kind of stuff here because it adds a lot of comments to what are already very unwieldy open threads (and where people often don’t even bother posting their own questions because they see such a high number of comments already there). I’m sorry!

      1. F.*

        Well, in favor of this type of thing, it sure made me laugh out loud in an otherwise blah day. Maybe you could open up a thread for tomfoolery like this during a relatively slow day. I do get your point about the comment count and am grateful for the ability to shrink conversations.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I agree that it’s an interesting idea. People here have a terrific sense of humor. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it. Maybe do an open post for tomfoolery once and see how it goes?

          1. Wandering Anon*

            Yes please! Please do an open post and ask people to post their haikus and other (appropriate) AAM-themed short poetry. I really enjoyed these…

    4. Emi.*

      I’m sorry, your boss is a loon.
      That’s not changing anytime soon.
      This policy’s lawful
      But totally awful
      So please start your job search by noon.

  7. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

    Hi AAM Fam!

    I have no debate-stirring family drama this week, but I do have a work-related question. I am currently job-searching, and many employers these days run credit reports. My husband and I are progressing through bankruptcy, having made 3 payments now out of 60.

    In light of the effect this has had on our credit scores, would you recommend mentioning towards the end of any interviews (no bites as of yet)? Perhaps something along the lines of:
    ”So, I noticed in the application that you use credit reports as a component of a candidate’s profile. Can you tell me to what extent you consider these and how much weight you give these as a factor for employment? I ask because my husband and I are going through Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which will obviously be reflected in my credit report. We experienced some tough financial times a few years ago that culminated in bankruptcy, but we have learned a lot from the experience, and are committed to avoiding the kinds of mistakes and behaviors that led to filing bankruptcy. The process has not impacted my ability to do my job in my current position, and I’m confident that it won’t be a problem if I were to move forward as a candidate for you.”

    I’d appreciate any comments from the AAM community. Bankruptcy has actually allowed me to be better at my job. Now that I no longer have the strain and worry that comes from having past-due medical bills, a delinquent car lien, and dozens of debt-collections calls and letters a day, I can fully focus back on my work and have seen less mistakes. I’m also able to better focus on my work instead of being distracted and consumed by financial concerns, and I want to emphasize that my work is not compromised by the fact that we’re in bankruptcy. And yes, this is likely to be relevant, because I am in an accounting-based position in state government now and looking for similar positions at other state agencies.

    Thanks all and Happy Friday!

    Ariel

    1. Bomb Yogi*

      I do financial counseling/coaching and have heard of some companies not hiring someone because of their financial background. Personally, I think it’s really crappy and not a great idea to base employment off of someone’s financial history unless they are in a position where they are going to be handling money, cash flow planning, etc. Or if someone was convicted for stealing money from a previous company, money laundering, or something along those lines, I can certainly understand a company’s hesitancy to hire someone with that particular background.

      For example, I know of a friend who was interviewing at a large church for what was essentially a customer service position. The position did not require any financial background and would not be involved with money at all. She made it through a long interview process and right before they were to offer her the job, they went back into her personal finances and pulled her credit report. She hadn’t filed for bankruptcy but she had some rough years financially, but like you, was “back on track.” They declined to hire her and told her why. It made me so angry for her.

      Sometimes filing for bankruptcy is absolutely the right choice in order to “right” your ship. If a company wouldn’t want to hire me because of some past financial mistakes, then I wouldn’t want to work for them anyway. Personal finance is SO MUCH MORE than a person’s credit score, and a person’s financial health shouldn’t be determined by it. A good credit score is NOT an indication of someone’s financial health.

      1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

        Agreed!
        Someone might have a perfect 800 FICO and be a con artist/thief/embezzler…
        For us, we are young and made some poor choices that were compounded by unexpected medical costs, and while I was humiliated to even consider filing for bankruptcy, I can’t deny that our marriage and my mental health has improved because of it. It’s doubly humiliating to have a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Accounting and for all intents and purposes consider myself an accountant.
        That’s why it’s so frustrating to think that just looking at a number that doesn’t tell you anything about how it got to be that way might disqualify me from positions for which I’d be a great fit.

        1. Need coffee quick!*

          I hear you. We were hit hard by the recession and had to file chapter 13 to save our home. I, too, am in finance and always worried/worry that my lousy credit score will keep me from being employed. We have actually finished paying it off so slowly improving.

          Hang in there!

      2. Emac*

        I agree, it’s so frustrating. I know there’s an organization in my state (MA) that is trying to stop employers from being able to use credit reports to make hiring decisions. Hopefully they succeed and other states follow!

        1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

          My hope is that since I’m already a state employee, other agencies won’t feel the need to run my credit, and this will be a non-issue… *Fingers crossed!* Then again, if I don’t get any interviews, it won’t matter either. Lol

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I agree, although it also comes up in government jobs and law enforcement because folks are concerned that your precarious financial position can be leveraged against you to blackmail you into doing illegal things in your governmental capacity. That said, when I’ve received a financial questionnaire, it didn’t include a request for my credit score.

    2. Tiffany*

      You’ve made the mistake here of asking a question and then continuing to talk. Ask the question and then stop talking if you want the answer; otherwise you’re providing a monologue. So I’d go with more of a, “I noticed your ad states that the successful candidate must pass a background and credit check. Can you tell me about a time when you had to reject a candidate due to this process?” and then let the other person talk. They may not provide a direct answer, but it might lead to dialogue that will answer your questions.

        1. Sophie Winston*

          Following up on that, I think the key would be keeping your description brief and addressing the main concern head on. My wording isn’t quite right, but I think you get the idea.

          A few years back I/hubby had a medical issue. It’s since resolved, but the resulting expenses were beyond our resources and destroyed our credit rating. I understand the concern about a low credit rating as an indication of financial pressure, but that is not my current situation. We have worked through the appropriate legal channels, have a court directed repayment plan within our means, and are in full compliance with that plan.

          It would be easier if you were further into the plan, but even this early, is there a legal contact that could provide a sort of character reference letter and verifying compliance with terms of the court order?

          Good luck.

          1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

            I’m sure I could get some kind of form letter from our lawyer or the Ch. 13 trustee saying that we are in good standing with our plan.

    3. regina phalange*

      I was just going to ask why employers would run a credit report but since you are in accounting for the state, that makes sense. And I am asking this out of pure curiosity – what kind of effect are we talking about in terms of your credit scores? My credit is meh and I am working to improve it.

      But to answer YOUR question – I think the first part “So, I noticed in the application that you use credit reports as a component of a candidate’s profile. Can you tell me to what extent you consider these and how much weight you give these as a factor for employment?” – my thought/suggestion would be to stop here. Ask the question and allow them to elaborate, and then you can provide additional details as needed.

      1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

        I use Credit Karma, and right now my Transunion and Equifax scores are in the mid-500s, so pretty abysmal. I haven’t checked hubby’s in the past couple of weeks, but I think his are in the same range.

        1. regina phalange*

          I LOVE Credit Karma! I love that it’s free and provides me with just the right info. If it makes you feel better, I totally skipped paying my student loan for like three months last year. I just kind of flaked, for whatever reason, and for that one blip, my score tanked almost 80 points. But at least I could track it on CK!!

          1. krysb*

            I like Credit Karma because it ranges a little low. It was telling me that my credit score was 675, but went to the bank an applied for a mortgage, and my score was actually 725. (I was approved, but ended up deciding against buying a house at that time.) Now, of course, with added credit accounts because of student loans, my credit seems wrecked, despite not having late payments.

    4. Jesmlet*

      We check credit as part of our background check and definitely factor it in, but in my job the people we hire are working in rich/elderly people’s homes. Even if they are a good person, being in a rough financial situation can motivate people to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. I don’t know that you’d get a completely honest answer if you ask that question (for me it’s a factor but it’s more about whether your explanation is believable and genuine, I really couldn’t tell you how much weight I give it) but offering an explanation is very helpful. Sometimes I buy the answer, other times I feel like it’s not worth the risk if their other qualifications and personality aren’t WOW enough.

      1. Jesmlet*

        Also, it depends on the type of credit check they run. I’m assuming some places might just get a score, but the way ours are laid out is we see public records, number of accounts in good standing, number of delinquent accounts, how much money is past due, how much of the credit is being utilized, any outstanding loans like mortgages or student loans, things like that and more. It’s not like I’d see a number and be like, Nope. You really have to weigh a lot of information to get a good understanding.

        1. Jadelyn*

          And hopefully the employer will give a candidate the chance to explain things. That’s how we do at my work – I work for a credit union, so we have regulatory standards that require a certain level of background checking for all new hires regardless of their role. Part of that, because we’re a financial institution, includes a credit check. But if something comes back in that check that looks questionable, we reach out to the candidate and ask them about it. They can explain, we might request documentation of some parts of the explanation, etc. I can think of only maybe…three or four times in the past 3 years that we’ve had a background check outright denied.

          So there are ways to humanely do pre-employment credit checking, if it’s really necessary for the job or organization.

          1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

            Agreed!
            I have no objection to the credit checking, but I just hope that if I get interviews where I’m applying and move forward as a candidate, that I’m at least offered the opportunity to explain my credit history and not just automatically dropped as a candidate if they do run the history and see the poor results.

    5. Natalie*

      What advantage or information are you gaining by asking during the interview that can’t wait until you’re offered a job and are actually do the check? It seems to me that if you disclose during the interview, you run the risk of biasing the interviewer against you (subconsciously or no). Whereas if you wait until the actual check, they’ve already decided they like you enough to offer you a job, so they are more likely to overlook issues in the check.

      And FWIW, I would disclose the bankruptcy before the check, so they aren’t startled and you have the opening to explain the circumstances.

      1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

        It’s my understanding that in our state, the checks can be run at any time in the hiring process but are typically done after interviews and reference checks before an actual offer is made. When I first started with the state, my credit was surprisingly good for a college student with limited credit history, so I didn’t worry about it all.
        One thing I do know, though, is that the state is required to abide by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and must, by law tell me if they used my credit report as a negative factor in the (not) hiring decision.

        1. Natalie*

          I still have the same question, then, I guess – what are you hoping to gain by asking this question in the interview? From what you’ve described, I see two possible scenarios:

          1. They ran your credit before calling you into an interview. Presumably they either don’t care about the BK or they are planning on asking you about it.

          2. They plan on running your credit after the interview, in which case you have your chance to disclose the bankruptcy beforehand.

          All you really need to be concerned about in scenario 2 is when the best time to disclose the bankruptcy. If that is your goal with your proposed question, then I would take the question out of it as it comes across as a bit disingenuous. I would just disclose the bankruptcy at an appropriate time.

          1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

            My concern is that I interview, and by all appearances am a stellar candidate, and then they run the credit history and drop me without giving me the opportunity to explain the situation, and perhaps continue with me as a candidate.
            What I would hope to gain by asking is an understanding of how much influence credit history has for their particular position and whether or not the bankruptcy is basically going to cause me to be automatically disqualified as a candidate.

            1. Natalie*

              Sure, I understand being concerned they’ll drop you, that’s why I suggested you disclose ahead of time rather than hope you get an opportunity later. But I don’t think you need to do that in the form of this question. Hopefully it doesn’t seem to nitpicky but it just wouldn’t sit right to me as an interviewer. For one, I would feel put on the spot – if it’s not an automatic disqualification, I probably don’t have an answer for you without looking at your whole candidacy and thinking for a while. I would be concerned about giving you misleading information, one way or another. At best, I would think you were just a little clumsy introducing the topic of your bankruptcy.

              So, given all that, I would personally just disclose it, no question needed. At some point when it’s appropriate: “I understand you perform a credit check for this position. I want to let you know ahead of time that my husband and I are in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which will obviously be reflected in my credit report. Our repayment* plan is proceeding well and we are committed to avoiding the kinds of mistakes that led to filing bankruptcy. The process has not impacted my ability to do my job in my current position, and I’m confident that it won’t be a problem if I were to move forward as a candidate for you.”

              * I think it’s worth mentioning repayment somewhere if you are talking to someone who isn’t likely to know what all the chapters mean. The common perception of bankruptcy is quite skewed, IME, and many people seem to believe your debts are always just wiped away magically. Making sure they know you’re repaying makes you look more responsible, whether that’s fair or not.

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        Agree with all of this. The interview is not the best time to bring this up, though I can see why OP might want to.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Please be sure to ask and then re-ask. The second time you ask frame it as, “What types of things do you look for on a credit report?” Notice the assumption that they are looking at it closely. then wait for them to answer.

      My friend applied for an got a job. It would be closer to home and a promotion. She gave notice at her old job and her replacement was hired. Then the New Place called her. They could not hire her because of her bankruptcy. She ended up with no job.

      In my friend’s case it never occurred to her that they would run a credit check and they never told her until after she quit her job. Make sure your BG checks are done before you give notice, don’t let someone assure you that it will be okay. Take the extra care.

      Good luck, I hope you get this new position!

  8. Sunflower*

    The assistant I have issues with has not gotten better. I’ve talked to my boss once and not much has changed. I’m trying really hard to wait for her attitude to bite her in the butt but I’m in BEC mode and things that feel like tattling I’m considering doing bc I’m at my point with her. Wondering whether to talk to my boss again and if so, what to say.

    We were on a conf. call training for a system that my boss has been trying to set up for weeks. Right now, my boss is the only one fully trained(I’m about 75%, assistant about 10%) and I know boss is dying to get some of the work related to this system off her plate. Assistant wants nothing to do with this system. I look over and assistant is not paying attentio, playing on websites and is on 5 DIFFERENT JOB SEARCH WEBSITES. I IM to let her know that I’m going to have her shadow me on the system and she tells me shes not paying attention to the training but that’s fine. WTF
    Later on, on our check in call, we are talking about one of the most important events we have this year and assistant IMs me to ask what event we are talking about because she ‘spaced out’. My debate saying I don’t know because I don’t want to help her but I also don’t want to appear as if I’m not paying attention.

    My friend at work says I need to talk to my boss again. I’ve already spoken with her about other issues that were totally reasonable to bring up but I’m not sure where to go from here. She just doesn’t care- she pushes back and is difficult to work with. I think if she was back in her old dept, she would probably be a fine employee but there’s no job for her there. I’m tempted to not even discourage the job searching at work because the sooner shes gone, the better for me.

    1. Emac*

      Are you the assistant’s supervisor? Have you talked directly to the assistant about these issues and what needs to change?

      If you’re not the supervisor, I’d say you should definitely talk to whoever the supervisor is. If you are the supervisor, I think it would make sense to talk to the assistant first.

      1. Sunflower*

        I’m not her supervisor but I am above her. I’m allowed to assign work to her(and tell her what to do) but I can’t reprimand her or ‘make her’ do anything. My/Our boss is the supervisor.

        1. Emac*

          In that case, you should definitely talk to your boss again, and maybe bring copies of the IM’s from the assistant as proof. You boss might be a lot more motivated to do something if the assistant is obviously not interested in helping out with something that affects the boss’s workload.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          She sounds out of her mind. I would bring it up with your boss, but try to frame it in terms of how it’s impacting your work or the success of the team (instead of sounding like BEC tattling).

          1. Observer*

            I agree. So it’s not “Do you know that Jane was doing job search while were having training?” It “I know that we need better coverage on Program X. Jane and I both need to be trained for this to happen, but she’s not being cooperative about it. For instance, when we did the last training, Jane was busy on other web sites and told me that she’s not paying attention to the training but that’s ok.” (If you still have the IM history, show it to her.)

    2. Temperance*

      Is she your assistant? Your boss’s assistant?

      I think the best course of action, not understanding all the relationships fully, is to make sure this lazy person takes over tasks related to the system she’s ignoring. Because if YOU take on these tasks, she has no incentive to learn, and she won’t.

    3. EA*

      What is your position related to hers?

      I am sure she sucks, she sounds super lazy. But once I had an issue with someone, and I tried to frame it as mentoring/coaching. She really didn’t understand her job. Like she got that she schedules and stocks supplies, but she didn’t understand she is supposed to be proactive about it and not wait to be pestered. Assuming she doesn’t work for you, maybe try and help and see if she will take your advise.

      1. Sunflower*

        She’s our team assistant, I’m a level above her so while I can give her work, I can’t reprimand her or make her do anything. I know part of this is her transition from intern to full time employee but the attitude just makes me want to ask her ‘do you even want to work here?’

        1. zora*

          I’m going to disagree with the idea that part of this is her transition. Acknowledging out loud that she is not paying attention to trainings or calls she has been told to be on is “Refusing To Do Job” not “Still Learning”. Even brand new interns who have a work ethic know that they have to actually pay attention when someone tells them they are going to learn a new system, and good young employees work hard to listen and learn quickly. The way you wrote this comment makes it sound like you are still cutting her too much slack.

          I think you need to straight out tell your boss she is actively deciding to ‘not pay attention’ to important trainings and calls, she is not even trying to learn new tasks, and she needs someone to talk to her about expectations ASAP, because you need an assistant for the department who is actually going to help, and right now she is actually creating MORE work for you, not less. “I do not have time to do her work for her, so what do you want me to do to get X, Y and Z done.”

    4. Jersey's Mom*

      I’d talk to the Boss again, and frame this as “she’s not doing her job, and it’s resulting in me having to complete her tasks; I don’t have time to do her work, how do we handle this”.

      Prep with a list of items that she’s failed on, and include the times that she has stated “I wasn’t listening, can you repeat that”, the amount of time she’s spending on job search sites, etc. You should be prepared to provide specific issues and tasks to the Boss. From the Boss’s perspective, as long as all is getting done, there’s no harm/no foul, so she doesn’t see the need to get rid of the assistant now.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      She’s not paying attention to training? I’d tell her that is a private matter and she shouldn’t tell people that. Or, I’d say something scary (if true) like the boss wants us to be totally familiar with this by next week. Let her know that it is not okay to confide these things. “You know, I am really not a good person to tell that to because I take my job pretty seriously.” Sometimes we have to draw our lines with people or they pull us into their crap.

      Regarding the IMs. Why not say, ” can’t. takes too long to explain.” OR “can’t type right now.”

      Looks like you will have to tell your boss that the problems are on-going. Stick to talking about facts, leave out your opinions and your emotions. I’d let the boss know that she is on job sites and a check of her internet history will show what is going on. Plan out your talking points before you start the conversation that will help you to sound the way you want to sound.

      1. zora*

        Yeah, good advice. Write out the things you want to tell your boss about the problems she is causing, make sure to frame them as problems for the business. Writing it out will allow you to edit out your frustration and things that sound petty, and focus on the most important business reasons she is causing problems.

  9. Murphy*

    More of a vent than a question, but I’ve been trying to discuss details about my maternity leave with my boss for a while, and he keeps blowing off our meetings! Last week he canceled our weekly meeting at the last minute (not unusual). This week, he told me he may not be able to make our weekly meeting, but we should figure out another time that day to meet. Then he came in super late and never got back with me about meeting. Now he’s had nonstop meetings the past two days. I asked him if we could meet this afternoon, and he said OK, but I’m skeptical. I’ve never had to do this before, and I just want to sit down and talk about it! /vent

    1. kbeers0su*

      Depending on how far you are out from leave, it may just not be as high a priority for him right now. I know the antsy feeling that you’re probably having- wanting to know that there’s a plan for continuity. But you may just have to work with his timeline.

      An alternative would be to put in writing your initial thoughts. That might make it more real for him- to see that it’s actually going to happen. And that may kick him into gear on having the discussion.

      1. Murphy*

        I’m due in 3 months. I have a document prepared to give him with what will need to be covered and when. He’s made a comment in the past suggesting that he doesn’t actually understand that I will actually be unavailable for a period of time, so I really want to have this discussion sooner than later. I thought about just putting it on his desk (which I can’t do when he’s completely out of the office) but I’d rather discuss it with him. I will if he doesn’t meet with me today though. I’m somewhat skeptical about whether we actually will.

        1. Security SemiPro*

          Email it with a “I’d like to go over this with you in person, but if that isn’t possible please review by X date, if I don’t hear back I’ll assume don’t need anything more from me and have arranged appropriate coverage.”

          Ideally, you’d have an idea of who can/should cover what and will have that in the plan as well, but I think the appropriateness of that depends on the role and the office. I wouldn’t wait on him to let people know what they’re probably going to have to cover and get them trained on it. He can wake up and engage on the coverage plan at any point, but the day is coming where you will just be gone. For weeks.

      2. Sadsack*

        Yes, emailing him a summary of your leave timeline and major items that need to be transitioned during your absence would probably be a good idea. And can you just put an appointment on the calendar yourself?

        1. Murphy*

          I can in theory, but if something else comes up, he’ll cancel anyway. I know he’s here today, but often he just won’t come in until late, or not at all, when there’s nothing on his calendar and he doesn’t let me know. Over the past 2 months, we’ve probably only had one or two of our scheduled weekly meetings.

          1. Sadsack*

            Can you put yourself on his calendar? Why not schedule it and if it gets rescheduled at least it is still on there. Whether or not you can, I think sending him a summary of it may put it in the back of his mind. I mean, he will have to deal with it eventually because one day you won’t be there! I think this is as proactive as you can be without barging into his office.

            1. Murphy*

              I’m on his calendar at least once a week. He doesn’t reschedule. He just cancels via email and/or doesn’t come into the office.

              I stopped by after lunch to ask if this afternoon is still OK, so we’re on the books for later today. Unless there’s a fire that needs putting out, we should finally meet this time.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I agree with Security SemiPro and Sadsack. Just send him the document you have, explain you’d like to go over it with him in person, but note that if that can’t/doesn’t happen, you expect to begin leave on X date (barring an early delivery date).

    2. 41-Week Induction Anyway*

      When I was in that situation, I ended up documenting a lot of my job so I knew it was at least “out there’ in some capacity. And anytime my boss or a coworker referenced my due date and how I’d still be here a month/week/etc. beforehand, I’d remind them that we’re looking at roughly a five-week window around a due date for a normal birth.

      1. Surprise! 3 Weeks Early*

        I tried really hard to get all my critical work done two weeks before my due date, and I got close, but a few things weren’t on track to be finished… and then, SURPRISE, baby came three weeks early. For a split second, I was stressed about the state that I left my work, but then I just simply didn’t care. I ended up giving in and having an hour phone call four days after my baby was born to handoff a few key items, but I wish I hadn’t had to do even that.

        1. blackcat*

          Yeah, I had a prof in college who was due the 2nd week in January. It was perfect timing to wrap up the fall and take the entire spring as leave. (institution preferred to do parental leave in semester-long chunks).

          Then the baby came at Thanksgiving. The kid was fine, but the end of the class was a mess (for both her and the students). She did have to do a fair amount post-birth to be able to hand off the course to a colleague. It would have been much easier if she had kept someone in the loop as a “just in case” back up plan.

  10. Bomb Yogi*

    Anyone out there who has written a book proposal before?

    I’ve been a freelance writer for one particular media outlet for a decade. I want to approach them about working on a book together and would like to come up with a proposal before I share the idea with them. Any ideas or general advice about publishing?

    1. Tech Writer*

      Do they still put out the annual Writers Market guide? That’s the BEST place to get advice on writing pitches, query letters, and so forth. Might be an online-only thing now.

      1. Beaded Librarian*

        Yes they do, our library gets the latest copy every year. The newest one came out only a couple months ago

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      Publishing person here! It really depends on what you mean by book proposal…do you mean writing a book in concert with them or a book published by them?

      If the outlet is not a regular publishing house, you’ll probably want something in between a query letter and a full-on proposal (which includes possible marketing plans and sample chapters). You’ll want to include the main idea, an outline, the intended market, comp titles (similar books already in the market, preferably selling well), and your personal expertise plus any existing marketing platform you may have (Twitter followers, clicks on your articles, etc.).

      You want to show not just that you have a good idea and are able to execute it, but that it’s profitable.

      If you want to co-author a book with them, you should also delineate exactly what their contributions would be, so they can get an idea of the investment they’d have to make.

      If this outlet does publish books regularly, I would seriously consider getting a literary agent, whose job is to help you finesse the proposal.

      Good luck!

    3. Oryx*

      I have written a (successful) book proposal — non-fiction, the book was published last week.

      I researched book proposals to get a feel for format and what was expected. Do you plan on pitching agents or publishers? I went through a small publishing house, no agent needed, and I looked for similar books to see who published them to know which publishing houses to target.

    4. Weeeeeeeeeeeee*

      For the proposal, lay out everything possible. Draft chapter, market numbers, audience, competition.

  11. Take Home Pay*

    What is your take home pay, percentage wise?

    I asked this a few weeks ago late in the day so I don’t think a lot of people saw it. This week’s earlier question with salaries reminded me of it. I was seeing everyone’s salaries and I remembered not all of it ends up in our pockets.

    This past year:
    Gross: $68,600
    Take home: $40, 300
    Take home percentage: 58.7%

    1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

      Gross: $49,509
      Insurance/Retirement/Pretax: $12,184
      Taxes: $7,886
      Net: $29,439
      Take-home %: 59.46%

    2. Peep*

      Gross: $66,000
      Take home: $48,000
      Percentage: 72%
      Also pay $1000 per month into health, hsa, and dependent care.
      I usually owe at the end of the year.

    3. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I happen to have my pay stub on my desk, so I just did the math – I’m at about 61% take home, including voluntary and mandatory deductions.

    4. Justme*

      Last month was 78.45%. Sometimes my payroll deductions are higher (I work at a University and can deduct tuition, or a computer from the bookstore) in addition to the normal taxes and parking and stuff.

    5. SaraBeth*

      Gross: $75,000
      Take Home Pay: $34,400
      Take Home Percentage: 45%
      Taxes, Roth 401K at max, ESPP, and dependent care deductions

    6. jdm*

      16.8% taxes
      7.4% retirement (mandatory for pension)
      9.5% health insurance
      66.4% take-home
      (I gross $44,847 and I take home $29,778)

    7. fiber addict*

      Gross: $91409
      Take home: $43502
      Percentage: 47.6%

      Percentage is low because I am trying to contribute to my 403b as much as possible.

    8. fposte*

      Can you expand a little on what information you’re looking for? We’ve got apples, oranges, and 401ks all mixed up together here.

      1. Not Today Satan*

        Yeah, I don’t think this is really a useful metric. Plus people might owe or get a huge refund at the end of the year anyway if their tax deductions are off.

      2. Take Home Pay*

        Yeah sure, I got this question in hastily so I’m missing some details I wanted to include.

        The 41.3% I pay every month includes state and federal taxes, my 403b, pension contribution, OASDI, Medicare, supplemental insurance (pennies really, so I shouldn’t count that), health insurance.

        I just wanted to see if my take home was the average of what others take home.
        Obviously some of these are benefits that I use (health insurance!) and some that we all see (federal dollars going towards road improvements?!). When I think, I make almost $70k…that’s true and not true at the same time, I’m really working with $40k.

    9. Karanda Baywood*

      Mine wouldn’t really have much meaning, since I contribute significantly to a 401k and an HSA, as well as health insurance for SO and me.

    10. Minerva*

      Gross: $60,275
      Take home: $39046
      Take home percentage: 65%
      Medical/dental, retirement, and auto insurance deductions

    11. Not a full year*

      So, I started this position in March – my numbers for 2016 (including bonuses) are:
      Gross: $47,654
      IRA (starting in Oct): $1,320.03
      Healthcare: $4,999.22
      Fed Tax: $3,358.77
      SS: $2,644.60
      Medicare: $618.49
      State: $1,886.45
      Take Home: $32,826.44, 68.88%

    12. Recruiting/Project Manager*

      Gross (salary plus commission): $62,000
      Take home percentage: 78%
      But I’m not on the company’s health insurance, I have to pay 2 different state taxes and I know I’m under-withholding (which will be super depressing come April).

    13. Hannah*

      Salary: 65,450(excluding 10% bonus)
      Take home: 49,872 (76%)
      Live in Texas, no state taxes.
      I’m single and have 2 deductions on my W4
      Usually do not owe money because I’m still paying student loans.
      My office pays 100% medical, I only have dental/vision/401k/life taken out.

    14. Marzipan*

      I think mine last year would have been roughly in the region of:

      Gross: £29,500
      £3,250 tax
      £2,340 National Insurance
      £2,340 pension
      Take home: £21,570 i.e. 73%

      1. Ony*

        It’s funny how there’s often a popular perception that taxes are higher in countries such as the UK, but we see right here many people in the US pay just as much or more in taxes

        1. esra (also a Canadian)*

          What’s really interesting is they also pay more for healthcare, but don’t actually receive free healthcare.

    15. EngineerInNL*

      So for this past year:

      Gross: $63,400
      Taxes: $16,580
      Others: $3,730 (includes medical/dental, LTD, RSP contributions
      Take home: $43,088 (so 68%)

      Also I’m in Canada

    16. Jadelyn*

      2016 totals:
      Gross: 39,051.16
      Deductions (pre- and post-tax): 3,676.96
      Taxes: 8,065.17
      Take-home: 69.9%

    17. LuvThePets*

      56% –

      My deductions include state and federal taxes, small health and life insurance,
      flex spending deduction, & 403b retirement.

    18. Environmental Engineer*

      I’m right around 60% after health insurance, union dues, 3.5% pension contribution, and 10% deferred comp. contribution (part Roth, part regular post-tax).

    19. Meg*

      I gross $60K, and I take home 60% of that. 3% goes to insurance, 12% to my 401K, and the other 25% is taxes. I tend to get a big refund, though.

    20. anonamasaurus*

      Gross: $43,252.54
      Take Home: $30,127.74
      Percentage: 69.66%
      Deductions: Union dues, retirement/pension plan, fed/state taxes, health insurance (solo), disability and life insurance.

    21. DC_Actuary*

      For this past year:
      Gross pay: $167,000
      Taxes (federal, state, local): $53,000
      Other deductions (401k, HSA, health/dental insurance): $21,500
      Take home pay: $92,500
      Take home percentage: 55.4%

  12. Mimolette*

    Today I have my second interview for a job I really want as a staffer to a public official. Those who have been in my shoes, or interviewed candidates for a similar position: what skills should I highlight/what questions should I ask that are unique to this type of position and I may not have thought of?

    1. Nonprofit to Govt.*

      Mimolette:

      I haven’t been in your exact position, but I am transitioning from nonprofits to government.

      This morning I interviewed with a municipality and don’t know how well I fielded some of the questions.

      I say you’re better off to over-prepare, particularly when it comes to policy positions, growth opportunities, etc. In my experience, interviewers respond really well to those mentions.

      Sorry I cannot be more helpful.

      Best of luck to you!

      1. Mimolette*

        Nothing wrong with over-preparing–this is definitely helpful! Thanks, and best of luck to you in your process as well!

    2. Another Lawyer*

      I’ve been an elected official’s staffer before and my favorite question ever came from AAM – “do you have any concerns about my fit for the position?” I found it gave me a chance to address their assumption that I would only want to do policy work and not constituent services as well.

      1. Mimolette*

        That’s a great question, and it reminds me that I should remember to bring up constituent services as well. Thanks!

    3. H.C.*

      I recently transferred from nonprofit to gov’t too, and funny enough have already started interview candidates for my role in other departments.

      When possible, emphasize and give examples of your people, service & conflict resolution skills – particularly during challenging/difficult situations or collaborative projects, since you’ll likely work with constituents who do not agree with the public official, other government agencies who have their own goals and advocacy groups who have specific agendas to put forth. How will you ensure these groups felt like their voices are being heard and addressed?

      Also, when sharing portfolio or samples of prior work – less is more. I recently interviewed someone who brought a 50-page packet of fliers, brochures, handouts, etc. which is NOT HELPFUL at all esp when I only have an hour to go through them.

      1. Mimolette*

        Thank you so much this is so important. I realized yesterday that I didn’t really emphasize my people/conflict skills in my first interview. I had a great example from an org I was involved in during college–but I only talked about my actual jobs (I’m a recent grad). So I’ll make sure to mention that–thank you!

        And I can’t even imagine what would possess someone to hand over a packet that large!

    4. Sparkly Librarian*

      Is this the kind of position that would have contact with citizens calling or emailing to express their concerns? (That’s why it’s on my radar today.) Maybe ask about how the current/previous person handled those, or how the interviewer would want them handled? Then you can talk up your conflict-deescalation skills.

  13. Peep*

    So, I have a lot of work in my current job that I could use to actually show what I’ve done to potential future employers. These are things like training guides, technical documents, elearning courses, etc. The problem is that most are confidential and for internal use only. Any advice on how to handle that?

    I’m not looking for a new job right now but I want a back up plan because you never know.

    1. Sunflower*

      Depending on what you do, is this the type of thing where you would need to show the actual copies of what you do or would listing on your resume be good enough?

      1. Peep*

        Yes, I need to actually show what I’ve done because they are fairly design heavy. I’ve put an artistic spin on technical documents in order to increase retention.

        1. Sunflower*

          I agree with others about retracting the identifying info. That was going to be my first suggestion but I wasn’t sure if that was standard in industries like this. Sounds like it is!

    2. k*

      Would you be to cut out segments of the documents to use as writing samples? Select a portion that shows off your writing style and technical proficiency, but doesn’t include any proprietary information. Along with the sample you could have a written description explain the full scope of the project it was taken from.

      1. Peep*

        For written pieces, this is a good idea. I actually was not thinking of having a sample of my writing. I was more concerned with the look and feel of the things I’ve created.

    3. periwinkle*

      This is when “lorem ipsum” comes in handy. Grab the text and use it to replace as much of the actual text as you can/need to.

  14. TotesMaGoats*

    ACK!! It’s finally happened.

    TLDR: I had a phone interview Thursday. Got the email this morning for the in person. In person is scheduled for this coming Wednesday.

    Long story: Remember when I posted about Job A and Job B, both at the same school but in different divisions. Right. So both got filled. Then Job B was unfilled and got reposted. I applied again because CurrentJob is seventh level of hell/crying everyday and why not. Heard nothing. Then it got posted again. Hmm. Didn’t reapply because nope. Then out of the blue on Monday got a call for a phone interview. For only being 15 minutes I think it went really well. Obviously I said something right.

    I can’t tell you all how excited I am. They need to move fast and I’m happy to give even a shorter notice period than I normally would. That’s where I’m at emotionally and mentally. GMTFO. So, tonight it’s getting a new suit because I’ve stressed eated some extra pounds. So glad I’ve got a spa day scheduled for Monday already. Fingers crossed and good vibes for everyone else you has made it to that next step too.

    1. Hermione*

      Good luck!!

      Just a quick note that if you’re a make-up wearer and your spa day plans include a facial that sometimes you’re not allowed to wear makeup for a certain length of time following the facial.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        No facial this time. Just a steam body treatment and massage. But thanks for the advice. I haven’t gotten a facial in a while.

  15. all aboard the anon train*

    In the past week, I’ve had three recruiters for the SAME company contact me about the SAME position. It’s really annoying. The first recruiter had contacted me months ago and I told her that I wasn’t interested since it was a lateral move to a contract position and I like my full-time permanent position. She contact me again on Monday saying the company is still interested, and I had to reiterate that I’d be hard-pressed to leave for a contract job. And then Weds and Thurs, two different recruiters contacted me about the same position. Ugh.

    1. voluptuousfire*

      Years ago, I had 13 agency recruiters contact me about a particular temp gig. The first agency got me the interview and they rejected me due to not having enough experience with a particular software they used. OK, fair enough.

      For 6 weeks after that, 12 other agency recruiters contacted me for the same gig (roughly the second week of April to Memorial Day). They must have farmed it out to dozens of agencies and used the same flawed job description. It was a pain to tell them that I had interviewed for the gig already. Amazingly enough, the next year I was contacted by another agency or two when the gig came up again, same JD. (it was a cyclical role that didn’t really lend itself to a full time position.)

      1. DatSci*

        A similar thing happened to me a few years back. I interviewed with a company through a headhunter and got the job, I ended up turning it down because I had a few irons in the fire and they couldn’t pay enough to be competitive with other offers I had that required half the commute.

        For up to a YEAR afterwards I was receiving calls from various recruiters for that job. They must have farmed it out to dozens of agencies and had zero luck for quite a while.

    2. Golden Lioness*

      Same thing happened to me a few years back.

      One of the recruiters submitted me without my permission even though I had already told them I had been submitted by someone else and I was already scheduled for an interview. Luckily, I had followed up by e-mail and had documentation… The employer was miffed, of course, but I told them (through an awesome recruiter) that recruiter B had no permission to submit me, attached my e-mails documenting this, and they hired me anyway.

      I hate bad recruiters! This one almost cost me the job.

    3. TakeTheCounterOffer-Maybe*

      Haha. I’ve had that happened to me. A recruiter calls me back to tell me about this awesome opportunity (again). When I told them I interviewed and didn’t get it, they acted surprised. What made this situation even funnier was that the CEO who I interviewed with for this position cold contacts me through LinkedIN asking if I want to come in for an interview, as if they didn’t remember talking to me in the first place. Of course that was a hard no. I have to say it was satisfying seeing the job application up for over a year.

  16. EA*

    Hello Everyone,

    I have been an EA in my current job for a year and 3 months. My boss just got a huge promotion (think from a senior manager to senior VP), and my job changed dramatically. He is now going to board meeting and meeting with the CEO. The schedule has gotten much more intense, and I am working longer hours and doing what I think is much higher level work. I do the budget, so I know what other EAs at this level are making. Do you think it would be better to ask for a raise now, due to the change, or to wait a few months? I figured in a few months I would have some accomplishments related to the new scope of work. The only issue is they are going over budgets now due to his new role, so I didn’t want to miss my window. What do you all think?

    1. kbeers0su*

      I don’t think it would be wrong to ask now, especially given that you’re already seeing an increase/change in your work. Maybe you can approach it like this: “Now that you’ve moved up to senior VP I was hoping you might be able to give me a sense about how my duties may change. I’m already seeing X, Y, and Z changes, but want to make sure I’m prepared for others that you may already know about.”

      Given that supervisor may not even recognize that this is impacting you (given that he’s probably dealing with a lot of his own transition stuff) this might be the first time he even stops to think about this.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Hi EA, did you get a raise after being there a year? Are you getting overtime for the longer hours? If the answer to both of those questions is NO then I would go ahead and ask now. If you did recently get a raise it might be better to wait a bit. But it really depends on so many little things that only you know about the place – like your rapport with your boss, how tightfisted they are (or not), etc…Another option (if you aren’t comfortable asking now) would be to ask if you could revisit your salary in a few months now that the role is requiring more responsibility, hours, and higher-level judgment calls. Good luck!

      1. EA*

        So I am exempt (no OT), and I got the cost of living of 2.75% that everyone gets. We have no merit- you only get a raise when you get a promotion. I think I will at least broach the topic now.

        If you don’t mind- How do I go about factoring in years of experience when determining what to ask for- I have 5, and the EA salaries I know have more- like 10ish. But the work is similar. Should I just try and split the difference between my current salary and theirs?

        1. TL -*

          No, I would just say “my understanding is that my new role pays $X-Y salary” (that aligns with the range the other EAs are getting). If your boss/HR/budget people feels like your inexperience is an issue, she’ll offer something at the lower end; if she doesn’t, she’ll offer a middle or higher number. But if you’re doing the same work, you should be in their range.

          (also, 2.5% of the difference for the next 5 years will most likely not bring you up to current range when you do have commiserate experience and it doesn’t sound like you’d be able to get a raise to adjust for that.)

        2. Lily in NYC*

          I think years of experience don’t matter as much as competence once you hit the 5-year mark in the admin field (I’m also an EA). I wouldn’t even mention it – I would talk more about the increased responsibilities in the role and definitely mention the longer hours since you are exempt.

    3. A Beth*

      Ask now! I spent a year with an additional workload and no additional compensation–I should have asked before I agreed to take it on. I did learn a lot from the experience but I could have used another five grand for the headache.

    4. Golden Lioness*

      Another vote for ask now. It;s the right timing and you have the perfect explanation of why you merit a raise… you have more duties at a higher level.

  17. Roscoe*

    Need a bit of advice here. I’m currently in a base + commission sales role. I’m hoping to transition into a new role that currently doesn’t exist. My question is on negotiating salary. I’ve made increasingly more each year, mainly because of commissions. So how do I go about arguing what i’m worth if I’m no longer bringing in money, and the role doesn’t exist? Is it fair to say that I’ve been making X per year, and I don’t want to take a pay cut, even though my “salary” will be much higher? Even the department is kind of new, so I’m not even sure what budget they have in mind.

    1. Chaordic One*

      NotSoNewReader’s advice is certainly sound.

      In your new role you will hopefully be adding value to your employer and you might be able to explain how your new role will help your coworkers who continue to earn commissions and your employer to increase sales. Or you might be able to make an argument about how your new role will minimize risk and hopefully prevent the potential for losses.

  18. Anon a Bonbon*

    Could anyone with ADD share their stories on how they cope at work? My friend has started 6 jobs in the last 2 years and can’t get past training. Either the trainers get frustrated and act like jerks, or my friend gets frustrated that he isn’t learning fast enough and gets convinced that he should quit before he is fired. Either way, it causes loads of stress, ends poorly, and he is out looking for a new job.
    He has come to the realization that his ADD is at the root of his troubles and I referred him to a great behavioral health center for adults. He remembers the ADD meds from 25 years ago when he was a kid and is understandably reluctant to discuss the option. Has anyone gone through a similar journey? Any comments on therapy vs meds and how it improved your work environment? It would be great if I could share some positive stories with him…or negative stories, it’s all useful.

      1. SystemsLady*

        Respectfully asking, are you saying this having ADHD? Honestly curious what you suggest if so.

        ADHD is one of the most physiologically well-understood mental disorders and most research shows therapy alone is rarely effective. Medication alone works pretty well and medication and therapy is the best if you can make the time.

        Especially if medication scares them, I’d encourage them to talk to their doctor and seek out reliable ADHD support groups (a good way to tell is that it was made by people with ADHD, not by parents of people with ADHD…though good groups in the latter set exist). Dr. Russell Barkley has also written some great books that tackle the causes and effects of ADHD, medication, and coping factors.

        Medication was the single biggest step for me improving at work, along with realizing the strengths and weaknesses the personality parts of adult discovered ADHD give me.

        If medication doesn’t work for them or for family history reasons isn’t an option (which can happen), that’s unfortunate, but they should also know there are a lot of reasonably effective options these days outside of the stimulant class. Some doctors might not be fully up to date there.

        1. SystemsLady*

          (not to mention doctors are better at titrating dose, and there is a new stimulant formulation that has a much smoother dose curve and is less likely to cause the zombie effect, though their insurance might not cover it)

          1. zora*

            This^^ The meds situation is 5000x better than it was when we were kids. I would really encourage him to be open to it and talk to some other ADD folks, and doctors about his options before he decides against it. It doesn’t commit him to anything, but he should at least have the conversations.

        2. Simms*

          I have ADHD and was able to get a handle on it through therapy alone. Honestly I wouldn’t touch medication now for it given what therapy has given me for coping strategies that won’t go away if my insurance changes or I have a financial problem. Medication helps some people but not always everyone.

        3. Kj*

          Meds plus therapy works better. For ADHD and most other dxes. Two points- one, meds are better now that in years past. There are more options, including longer lasting meds, non stimulant meds. Two, CBT for ADHD is effective. And meds alone do not change the base habits. I have ADHD and dyslexia. I got good education and therapy and developed habits that allow me to function without meds. Meds aren’t bad, but therapy does more to help over the very long term. Combining both allow the short term gain of meds plus the long term benefits of better habits.

      2. Jesmlet*

        I’m a big believer in therapy plus medication if you can afford both, medication alone if you can’t. Definitely agree with SystemsLady that medication can make a huge difference (second hand knowledge from observing a couple people plus clinical psych degree), especially as an adult with a clear diagnosis. Meds affect kids differently and it’s very hard to test those things but as an adult I don’t think he needs to be as worried about side effects, etc, plus they’ve come so far in the last few decades.

        1. orchidsandtea*

          Therapy plus neurofeedback was pretty awesome for me. I’m a huge fan of meds, just not for me for personal reasons. But neurofeedback + nutrition + exercise + routines + lists has me functioning pretty darn well.

    1. Emac*

      I have ADD, though I can manage it a lot better now than I did when I was younger. I’ve never had good luck with medication, it makes me too anxious or doesn’t do anything, so I’ve always just coped with creating systems that help keep me focused. One of the best that I use is a (free) app called Pomodoro. It’s a timer that is based on the Pomodoro technique, which is basically having a fixed time where you work, followed by a short break. It seems to be a lot easier to get things done in short chunks. And depending on what I’m doing or how I’m feeling, I can make the work time period longer or shorter.

      But if your friend is not a member of the ADD Forums (addforums.com), I suggest he join there. There are lots of people with great advice and tips.

      1. SystemsLady*

        Google Calendar is great, too! The latest version adds tasks and reminders, and developing a habit of calendar-ing everything is something you can start to do without medication.

        Even attaching a date to something, knowing it can be moved if the date comes and it can wait, is helpful.

        1. Emac*

          Yeah, we use the google suite for email and calendars at work and it’s great! That and the reminder app on my phone are essentials for me.

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      If he is at this point in his career, I’d tell him to strongly consider meds. Although I am not ADD, my husband and daughter are. My husband is almost 40 now and sounds similar to your friend…he took the meds of yesteryear and HATED them. They turned him into a zombie so he was understandably reluctant to consider medicating our daughter. I can tell you that medications have advanced drastically and a small dose of a long acting medication may be just what he needs to get on track. Obviously, medication comes with downsides, so he should discuss that in detail with his doctor if he goes that route. (I should also note that my husband has never taken medication since becoming an adult and our daughter is a junior and we stopped medicating her when she reached high school and told her it was time to learn coping mechanisms and study habits. Without knowing the severity of his situation, it’s hard to say if that could work for him or if he’d be better off with medication)

      As for other considerations…..it sounds like your friend needs a job that is ADD friendly in that he has the ability to do a variety of tasks that don’t require long periods of concentration, tediousness, and are not super detail oriented. My husband finally found a job like that. He can interact with customers for a while, make orders, ship orders, clean, merchandise, etc and he can mostly do these tasks in any order he wants as long as it all gets done. Being forced to work on any one task longer than he wants to causes problems. Full disclosure though…my husband is not the breadwinner and works a job with a very modest income ($12 an hour, full time). If your friend is the breadwinner or needs to make substantially more money, I’d really urge him to speak with a professional, explain what needs to happen, and decide the best course of action.

      Good luck to your friend! I’ve seen firsthand what an impact it can have on your professional life.

      1. my two cents*

        I’m an electrical engineer by degree, but I knew after year 3 in college that bench work design was NOT for me. I’ve been working as an ‘applications engineer’ (engineering-level tech support) for about a decade now, between two different companies. It allows me to jump between tech writing, phone/email support, customer visits, and tradeshows while working in a mostly-independent role.

      2. ADD Adult*

        Jobs that are active and involve more short-term rather than long-term deadlines. I work in healthcare now where I am constantly on my feet doing lots of different things in the moment. I struggled at lot in school due to lack of focus and organization, but at work I am a top performer. I don’t have to worry about completing long-term projects or motivating myself to do work at home. The high stakes atmosphere forces me to pay attention better.

        Before I finished college I always worked in retail which was a decent fit for my ADD personality. Most people with ADD need to be managed–I could never run my own business or be a consultant.

        My best friend also has ADD and she is a social worker for a school for mentally ill kids. I know she does really well in that role.

        1. zora*

          I second jobs with some active component. I have gotten stuck in a couple of jobs where I just sit and stare at a screen all day, and even though I never had a lot of the H component, I just get bored and anxious after months and months of sitting still all the time.

          I enjoy much more jobs with at least some element of getting up and moving around. I actually really liked retail and foodservice, but that doesn’t mean you are stuck with low-paid jobs forever. Maybe hotel/hospitality, teaching, there are lots of possibilities. I’ve really liked working on event planning, because of the variety, i have computer-heavy weeks, but then I have other weeks where i’m running around and on my feet.

          With my ADD I have excelled at jobs where I have to keep track of lots of pieces, and ‘multi-tasking’ is actually a virtue. I am highly perceptive, so I tend to look at things from a lot of different perspectives, so things like event logistics, stage managing plays, retail I have done really well at, because my brain naturally likes to have lots of different things to think about and how they all fit together.

          But there are lots of differences within ADD, so I think it’s great for your son if you help him think about soft skills, and what he really enjoys doing, even the aspects of things within something he doesn’t enjoy. Like, okay, you don’t like math class, but what are the things about math you do like and are good at? It helped me a lot as an adult to have a lot of self-awareness about what sides of things I enjoyed and what sides I didn’t. And all of that is very individual, not everyone with ADD works exactly the same. My sister and I both have it, but we are very different in a lot of ways.

      3. SystemsLady*

        I’m a traveling engineer who does one of a very wide variety of things at any given time. Programming, document writing, bug fixing, computer repair, etc. I also shift a lot between working long hours and having a lot of down time.

        Contracting is great for people with ADHD if it’s in something they can naturally focus on, IMO.

        I get nervous about my work ethic during the downtime and hate tedious work (hence why I try to script it :)) but that’s about it.

    3. my two cents*

      I was diagnosed with ADD at age 31 (almost 2 years ago, now). I’m a high-anxiety type, and would barely sleep for maybe 2-3hrs at a time most nights because my brain was constantly racing – recalling old convos, randomly panicking that I had to check email, etc. I started out of the gate with non-stimulant Straterra and it’s honestly been amaaaaazing. I’ve heard other stories from adult ADD folks on Vyvanse(time-release)/Adderrol/Concerta where it seems to have an uneven effect on their focus (either ON when it hits, or sleeping for the whole day when they miss a dose).

      Before I was diagnosed, I used to keep running logs and lists on a GIANT whiteboard in my cube. I used reminder tags within Outlook to insure I wouldn’t let anything go for too long. I had prided myself on being a plate-spinner of sorts, always having multiple support requests or work projects going at a time. I now realize that was how I kept my brain busy ‘enough’ to keep my nerves in check.

      I keep a notebook with me at all times, so at the very least I can doodle along the margins while I take notes – always keeping something around to keep my hands busy is a HUGE help. Also, I’ll stand up when I take a call in my office so that I’m not tempted to open emails as they arrive or otherwise tinker with my computer so that I can stay focused.

      STAYING ENGAGED is a HUGE problem, but it helps to ask questions while taking notes even if it’s just to validate that I understand. I didn’t realize it until diagnosed, but I had developed a habit of using analogies or parallels for processes/products/procedures because I would use them in the form of a question to have the trainer/boss/etc validate that I understood the concept. (ex “oh…so it’s essentially a voltage divider, but with yadda yadda yadda…”)

      It still never feels like ‘everyone else’ is processing the world as quickly as my brain seems to… It gets frustrating to know the answer while someone is only half-way through their question. While it’s frustrating, esp with ADD, to have to keep from interrupting/interjecting while others are talking, I do find it’s usually quite reasonable to (upon waiting for them to finish) go back over the details with them even if it’s just a line-by-line confirmation of their inquiry. It’s hard to track a ‘story’ of details, and breaking it down into parts helps considerably.

      1. MH*

        Hi! I’m 25 and was recently told by a counselor who I was seeing about a stress/anxiety issues that I was probably ADHD which has been suggested by several teachers/authority figures over my childhood/teens years but I had never gotten testing or a clinical diagnoses. I had asked the counselor, since my inability to concentrate stressed me out at work and like you describe I have a hard time shutting down outside work, if I should get proper testing and diagnose and they said since I’d “gotten through college I was fine” which I thought was a really odd remark to make since the symptoms that lead them to suggest I have ADHD affect me in my job and personal life as much as it ever affected me in school. Would you have any recommendations for going about getting a diagnose or testing as an adult?

        1. Record Label GM*

          Please do get a second opinion. I am a high-achieving adult with ADHD among a slew of other mental issues that were diagnosed in my 30s. The sooner you get treatment for issues like these, the sooner you can start to heal. Serious conditions can actually get worse as you get older.

        2. my two cents*

          I had just gone ahead and made an appointment with a nearby Psychiatrist, specifically asking about being tested for adult ADD/ADHD. You can find the simple sample questionnaire online with a quick Google search – see if you find that a lot of them are ringing true, even if they’re things you’ve since come up with work-arounds for.

          The biggest ones I had still been ‘dealing with’ after years of adulting were the emotional outbursts, impulse control, and just general anxiety spinning my brain’s wheels at all hours of the day.

      2. SRB*

        Perhaps slightly off-topic, but out of curiosity…How did you come to realize it was ADD vs. “just how you were”?

        I’ve suspected for awhile that I might have some degree of ADD. Your description of yourself sounds eerily like myself (racing brain keeping me awake, multitasking as a compulsive habit, high anxiety, getting ahead of people in conversations). But I’ve always been like that. My mother is like this. Her father is like this. So I just always thought it was “how I am”. And on top of that, it might seem on face that I have “learned to cope” because I graduated from a good university, have a job that I’m doing pretty well at… (as have my mom/grandfather, the business owner and surgeon, respectively)

        But on the other hand, the anxiety. And the periods of my life like right now where I can’t for the life of me sit down for more than 15 minutes at a time to get any work done without wandering off to AAM or email or news or bank account. If a program takes even 10 seconds to load, I *have* to fill that with something. Even holding it together long enough to have a coherent phone conversation without being distracted is getting tough. I’ve so far resisted because “I’m coping just fine!” but…maybe I’m not. >_<

        1. TL -*

          If it’s significantly impacted your ability to enjoy your life, I think you should see someone! That doesn’t sound pleasant.

          I know for my roommate, she made an appointment with a counselor-type person and they talked about her symptoms and her inability to manage them in a productive way (which it sounds like you have) and she got a testing referral really quickly.

          1. SRB*

            Thanks for your response! Perhaps I will… The degree to which I’m like this can vary greatly, but I’m stuck in about an 8 month especially-bad rut of dis-focus right now. I guess, as MH said above me, I’m worried about getting the ‘they said since I’d “gotten through college I was fine”’ line, especially because I have at least 2 friends that went to college with me that HAVE ADD hearing the exact same thing. But I shouldn’t let that discourage me from at least asking about it, especially because it’s really starting to get in the way of life. Especially work… I say, as I respond to this post while…. at work… because I couldn’t handle waiting idly for 90 seconds while my query ran… >_>

            1. AnonAcademic*

              I know plenty of people with ADHD who ended up in doctoral programs before burning out on the lack of structure. I suspect at least one coworker of mine got their PhD by pulling a long series of hyperfocused all nighters. Especially if you’re smarter than average (or female, anecdotally) the ADHD symptoms won’t necessarily be a hard limiter at an obvious point like high school or college. Some might excel or at least get by at work but their finances are a mess or they can’t maintain relationships because they are too flaky.

        2. my two cents*

          I had originally talked to a therapist about 6-7 years prior due to crushing anxiety while at work. A few anecdotes about my upbringing, and she had diagnosed me as having ptsd-related anxiety and gave me some seriously helpful ‘tools’ to use in my day-to-day.

          After adopting a regular workout routine, developing reasonable work habits, and shedding some of the more-toxic people still floating around my life in my late-20’s, I still didn’t feel quite ‘right’. That’s when I made the appointment with the Psychiatrist and it’s been night and freaking day with my Straterra. It’s such a crazy feeling to actually be Resolved about various things, and no longer get the panicked ‘too many pop-up windows’ shut-down.

          1. my two cents*

            You’ll of course pick up the same behaviors/coping mechs as your family, but I really think it’s the stuff I do on my own while living alone that speak volumes to my ADD diagnosis…such as putting random tasks off until the last make-or-break moment.

            I had gotten my anxiety and scattered-ness down to a manageable level over the years, but it’s as though my meds just drop the trip threshold down another 40% so I now rarely go into a spin cycle. I still have some moments when pressed hard, but it’s not anything like it had been previously.

    4. AK*

      I am an adult with ADHD, I was diagnosed at 15 but didn’t start any form of medication until I was almost thirty. About a year after graduating from HS, I was able to get a full time job that I was able to really do well at even with ADHD – it was fast paced and involved lots of short term deadlines, but it was also shift work with long hours and a lot of physical work. After several years of working, I realized I wanted to continue my education and I enrolled in College, and that is when my ADHD really started to get to me. However, by this point, improved medications were available and after discussing things with my doctor and a counselor, I chose to go on medication (Strattera, in case you’re curious) and holy cow, the difference has been amazing. I was able to graduate college with honors even while working full time (or mostly full time) and start working in my chosen career.
      Now, though, there’s a downside. I have years of bad habits to overcome and the meds help (a lot) but I still need to do a lot of work to keep myself organized and motivated. It’s a struggle. I suffer from anxiety as well and so I have to be very careful about the environments I work in – “fit” is really, really important. I need the freedom to be able to do what works for me even if that doesn’t necessarily follow the standard way of doing things. Micromanaging makes me so anxious that I can’t function. I have lost jobs because of it – one where my anxiety prevented me from asking for the training I needed, and another where the company’s rigid work environment and expectations just did not work for me – I was so anxious over every little thing, I was having chest pains for months. However, at my current job, I’m granted a lot of independence and flexibility (it helps that my current employer also is an organization that includes advocating for disabled people in it’s mission) and I’ve been able to do much, much better. My reviews have all been very positive and my co-workers are awesome, and my boss is incredibly understanding.
      I think I probably picked one of the worst careers for someone with ADHD (a big part of what I do is keeping other people organized and on task by staying organized myself) which probably explains some of my struggles, but I love what I do and it’s entirely worth it to me. I continue to work with my doctor and a counselor, and we’ve done some med tweaking and other things over the years. For me, the medication has been a big help, but at the same time it doesn’t fix everything. Learning what does and does not work for me in an employment environment has been a long process and I’m still working on it – it’s something I will probably always be working on. The best advice I can offer is to understand how ADHD works and how it affects you as an individual so you can figure out what your needs are, what accommodations you may need to request from an employer (if any) and what will help you do your best, and that answer is different for each person.

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Well, I’ve not gone the ADHD meds route, but I had comorbid depression and I found that treating that actually had a pretty significant effect on my ability to manage the attention deficit.

      A lot of people recommend Pomodoro, but I found that didn’t do so much for me; I’m better when I’m dealing with a measured workload rather than a measured time load. Achieve X items in an hour, then take a breather till the hour mark. Achieve X more items in the next hour, rinse and repeat.

      I fidget in training, and doodle. That is enough to work out the ADHD issues for me, and let me stay generally attentive — I do need to keep an eye on whether I’m disrupting my other trainees, but intricate doodles actually do an awful lot to improve my overall retention.

      Caffeine is also a great alternative to meds! At least for me. My favorite fallback for a bad attention day is a can of Monster.

    6. LuvThePets*

      I agree that therapy plus meds is the gold standard, but also agree that meds have changed enough that working with a good doctor, there are many med options that include both stimulants and non-stimulants, he should feel way more comfortable about the med options of today. He also will have self-advocacy, meaning he will be able to articulate how meds are making him feel, and be able to recommend what’s working and not.

      Multiple people in my family have ADHD, some medicated and some not, some diagnosed professionally and some not. I take a non-stimulant, my daughter takes a stimulant. She’s had two meds that have worked great for her with (at different times, not together) with virtually no side effects. She had one that made her irritable and agitated. We took her off of it quickly. I have tried one, and had very few side effects, and with moderate improvement of symptoms. What many people do not realize is that ADHD affects many aspects, including relationships, driving safety, concentration, and more. There are many great suggestions here in this thread. I am adding a couple of great links for ADD information and support.

      Personally, I have been pretty successful in my work by finding jobs that feed into my strengths and interests. However, in my personal life I struggle with organization so my house and care are a mess (NOT my strengths). When this is the case you have to figure out a work-around. Good luck!

      http://www.additudemag.com/
      http://connect.additudemag.com/groups/

    7. zora*

      I had a lot more time to learn these things when I was younger and in school, so I’m sure it will be harder for him as an adult currently trying to get and keep jobs. But I learned to compensate for my ADD by over-structuring myself and learning organizational tools and tricks. But it might be something he needs to do in combination with therapy, because he might need another person to help guide him. First I had to figure out where my failure points were, what I often struggled with, and then I had to come up with a system to compensate for that failure point. Then same steps with failure point #2. It wasn’t easy, but it has made me a better and happier person, not just at work, but dealing with my own life stuff as well.

      There are great resources out there now, but the one I recommend starting with is a book called “ADD-Friendly ways to organize your life” by Judith Kolberg. It has a lot about creating visual and graphic-based organizational systems, which are easier for ADD people to remember and keep track of.

      Also general reading about ADD/ADHD could be helpful, because it could help him learn about how his brain works differently in different areas (by comparing himself to different descriptions in books) and that self-knowledge goes a long way to figuring out what areas I need to over-compensate, and what areas I actually do really well at compared to non-ADD people.

      But my sympathies to him, a lot of this world is not set up for ADD people, so it can be really hard and frustrating trying to figure out how to make our brains do what we want them to. Send him my best, and tell him he’s not alone, and he can get there!

    8. Simms*

      I have ADHD and am turning 30 this year and get by reasonably well. I did have therapy about ten years ago and don’t take medication. My biggest thing though is leaving work at work. I have so many hobbies I do in my free time as well as keep a constant stream of things to play in the background. I find if I keep myself stimulated at home, I have more focus for work since I am not thinking about what I might have done wrong or what to do better etc. Of course sometimes that find me watching a documentary on Netflix while being in a live stream chat, playing a video game and browsing reddit all at the same time.

    9. BRR*

      I’ve lost two jobs due to my ADD. Honestly meds. Therapy has been helpful in other ways but for job performance it’s been meds.

    10. Anon a Bonbon*

      Thank you to everyone who left stories. My “friend” is actually my husband who said it’s OK to mention that. :) I’ve been dropping by all day to check the comments, and we have been reading them together and taking all your thoughtful suggestions to heart. It’s great knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel.

      1. Rosalind*

        I wrote this already but it disappeared, forgive me if it posts twice.

        My friend has ADHD. He was diagnosed and medicated as a child. He went off medication when he was in high school. Back on now with therapy and so much better.

        Find (google) doctors that specialize in adult ADHD. Psychologist to figure out what’s going on, there are different aspects to it. Then a referral to a psychiatrist to prescribe and monitor meds.

        Meanwhile, find work in areas that he finds interesting/dynamic/keeps him engaged. Better sleep patterns, less stress, more exercise, especially walking, hiking biking.

        My friend happy he’s back on medication. His quality of life has improved. The new meds don’t make him into a zombie. They barely effect his personality. I can tell the difference because he doesn’t repeat things, it’s easier to get him to change focus, better time management, not as anxious, better able to let go of anxious thoughts.

        He wished he had done it sooner. Felt his life would have been easier, would have done better in school, less anxious, general happiness. He was amazed how much easier it was to edit his resume and cover letter because he could focus on what he had written!

        Without the meds: He did ok in college, extremely well in his masters courses and is very good at his job (developer). His intelligence and coping skills carried him through it. His love for his work and ability to focus his studies in his masters courses made him awesome.

        But then his job changed. He got a promotion to something he thought he wanted. He hated it. Too much time spent waiting on other people and not enough time doing stuff. Stress, lack of sleep, not enough/interesting work overwhelmed his coping skills. With meds, he’s able to power through.

  19. Kaori*

    Hey AAM friends! I read every day but don’t post much. Just wanted to drop in and say I just had an interview this morning and – thanks to the advice from this site and everyone involved – I think I nailed it! Please send good vibes my way if you think about it!

    1. Nonprofit to Govt.*

      Kaori:

      Congrats on the interview!

      As requested, I send you plenty of good vibes.

      Have a great weekend, and try not to think about the interview too much.

    2. Kaori*

      Thanks everyone! I’m putting it behind me for now and just continuing on, so I’m trying not to worry :)

  20. Pup Seal*

    I’ve been job searching for a while and been looking for jobs in my area. However, my boyfriend lives in a different city that’s an hour long drive away, and I’ve been debating if I should move closer to him and find a job there. I’ve heard that employers tend to stray away from candidates that aren’t local. Besides an outstanding resume and cover letter, is there a way to convince potential employers to give you the same consideration as a local candidate?

    1. Murphy*

      An hour isn’t terribly far away, so I wouldn’t worry about it. I know people who commute further than that.

      1. Emi.*

        Second this, especially if they employer is in a big city or one where housing prices drop off sharply with distance.

        1. Pup Seal*

          I live in a Midwest state, so both areas are “big” cities, though the city I live in is bigger and housing is so much more expensive (college town).

          1. Golden Lioness*

            It’s very common. It’s not dishonest to have a different physical and mailing address.

            Anyway, if you are not comfortable with using someone else’s address, P.O Boxes are also an option.

        1. Jesmlet*

          Eventually you’re going to have to give them your actual address if you get the job and I’d be a little weirded out if I noticed someone did this.

          1. KiteFlier*

            People move all the time. I can’t imagine a different address being a big deal to a hiring manager, especially since they don’t usually see new hire data.

          2. Lily in NYC*

            It is so common. And for all anyone knows OP might stay with her partner at that address while she looks for a place of her own. There are plenty of reasons a resume address doesn’t match the address given to HR. Maybe it’s different at smaller companies, but where I work no one would ever notice the change in address because it’s the HR assistants who enter the onboarding information and they’ve never even seen the new hire’s cover letter or resume.

            1. Jesmlet*

              The way our application and internal systems are set, it imports information that can’t be updated later by the applicant so if we hire them, I would have to manually go in and change the address. We hire geographically so location would matter to us.

              It’s not impossible but we’re very niche and particular in the way we run things

        2. k*

          I think it’s common enough for someone to have a temporary address while job hunting in a new city (staying with friends, short term sublet, etc), and then switching to a permanent address once they’ve secured the job and know for sure that the move is happening.

    2. Karanda Baywood*

      I never put my street address on my resume, just my phone number and email. You can certainly end up getting interviews without it.

      1. Wirving*

        Yup. I only put my address if it’s pertinent to getting the job (ie: meeting a “must live in city or move to city within X number of days” requirement).

    3. Lily in NYC*

      Can you use your boyfriend’s address on your resume/cover letter? And I don’t think an hour commute is what people mean when they talk about candidates not being local. It can be more difficult to be considered if you live in a different state, but an hour away shouldn’t raise anyone’s eyebrows. For example, tons of people live in Baltimore and work in DC. Or live in Providence, RI and work in Boston. You can also mention in a cover letter that you are planning to move closer to the office location in the near future.

  21. Nonprofit to Govt.*

    Interview with municipality

    I’m so grateful for this Friday’s Open Thread. I have just returned from a 45-minute interview with the mayor, economic development director and HR manager of a small municipality for a communications position.

    As with all government positions, the hiring managers (mayor and director) took turns asking me a list of questions that had no direct ties to my experience. Among them were how do you work with diverse communities, how do you handle failure, what would your priorities be for the firs 180 days in this role, and tell us one thing about yourself we haven’t asked.

    The interview went well, and I was able to incorporate much of the research I did for it into my answers. However, at points I believe I provided too much information in my answers.

    I asked the following questions (Thanks, Alison) at the end of the interview: What are the priorities of this position, what are the challenges, and what is a typical day/week like?

    Can anyone share their own experiences interviewing for a government position? Also, do you ever feel you’ve over-explained yourself, which I believe happened to me this morning?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I wouldn’t worry too much about “too much” information. I tend to be an over-explainer myself, something I am working on. Maybe because of that, I’ve never looked down on fellow over-explainers … but also, I’ve had pretty good success interviewing and getting positions.

      Government hiring processes can take FOREVER, so don’t be surprised if the timetable gets delayed. (Or, sometimes, the turnaround time is shockingly fast, because they have an itty bitty window and need someone on board OMGRIGHTNOWORELSE – I’ve seen that, too.)

      1. Nonprofit to Govt.*

        Manic Pixie HR Girl:

        First, I love your name! Thanks for sharing your insight about the government hiring process. I’m incredibly appreciative of the comment about over-explaining not being a total dealbreaker.

        For this particular position, I know that they are trying to make an offer and get someone in place by the end of next week. The municipality has three large projects that need to be in completed in March, so time is very much of the essence. The role is a one-person department, so there’s a lot of neglected work that will quickly become the new hire’s life.

        1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

          Thanks!

          Fair warning: The hiring manager’s goals are not always what actually happens! I had that for a role I interviewed for (and received) a few years ago … there was a bureaucratic holdup that no one anticipated which resulted in me getting an offer about 3 weeks after the rest of the team. Definitely send a thank you note and stay in touch. If there is some sort of holdup but you are the candidate, they’ll find a way to let you know that. ;)

          Good luck! It sounds like an interesting position.

      2. Another Lawyer*

        Re: Government hiring processes can take FOREVER

        +1. It took me over 5 months for an initial entry into gov’t and then 8 months for an internal move

        1. H.C.*

          Ha, same here – 9 months from application to first day (though 2 months were for negotiations; which took multiple approvals even though my manager OK’d it within a week.)

        2. Sparkly Librarian*

          About a year and a half (over a year from application to offer) for my first city government job. There was a long time when there were no open positions on the list I was on, and then my 2nd-interview-through-offer stage was about a month.

      3. Teapot librarian*

        I’m actually hiring right now for a government position, and I can tell you that despite my intentions, the process is going a lot slower than I’m sure our applicants would like. I have other things going on, my boss has other things going on, etc, etc, and that’s without adding in the slow turning wheels of HR. So year, don’t be discouraged if the hiring process seems to stall!

    2. H.C.*

      I recently went from nonprofit to Govt & have even started interview candidates for my role in sister agencies. I personally don’t mind over-explanation, but I do mind when people are being deflective and just running off the clock without actually answering the question (even after I steer the conversation back to what I originally asked.)

      My own experience interviewing for my position (communications officer) was fairly easy, since I held a similar role in my OldJob and a lot of the skills were readily transferable.

      Good luck!

      1. Nonprofit to Govt.*

        H.C.:

        Good point about deflection, which was not my goal.

        I have changed careers and held several grant-funded and contract positions, so pull examples of communication strategies from many places.

        For this morning’s interview, I tried to pull my parallels from my two most recent positions, including a one-person communications department role I held for a large nonprofit and a contract position managing people statewide.

        One of the hiring managers remarked to me she would like to know more about my previous positions, so I incorporated information about outreach efforts from two, three and seven years ago. It lengthened my answers, but we still completed most of their questions in roughly 20 minutes.

        Slightly off topic, but I was slightly surprised that the hiring manager wanted references for older jobs with fewer responsibilities. Is that unusual?

        1. H.C.*

          Depends how old (my own references spanned from 1-6 years ago), but it’s possible they want to establish that you have track record of competence & a firm grasp of the fundamentals – instead of someone who constantly got promoted for “managing up” well.

          1. Nonprofit to Govt.*

            H.C.:

            Thanks for answering my question and sharing a theory as to why she might have inquired about jobs from several years ago.

    3. Gene*

      I’ve been through a dozen or so, and have been on the other side of the table. Overexplaining can be a problem when it eats up time. We typically have multiple interviews scheduled and if you talk too long, we won’t get through all the questions. But it doesn’t sound like that was a problem here.

      Yes, I know, interview panels like this suck, but that’s The Way Things Are Done in most Civil Service positions. Good luck!

      1. Nonprofit to Govt.*

        Gene:

        Thanks for sharing your perspective from the other side of the table.

        I actually don’t mind the panel interviews so much as the general questions that fail to contextualize how it relates to the position or my resume specifically. After interviewing with three government agencies (two municipalities and one county agency), I believe that HR and the hiring managers are incredibly afraid of any perceived bias toward any candidate, so they keep the questions bland and nonspecific.

        Any thoughts?

        1. Gene*

          Much of the way we do things is because of that. (See: patronage politics in places like Chicago) And a lot of it is in place in the Civil Service rules and sometimes actual law. You typically won’t get the “real” interview questions until you get to the actual hiring interview. The way it works here is:
          1. application.
          2. either a supplemental questionnaire or a civil service test.
          3. the top X from those get panel interviews – X depends mainly on the number who pass 2; if it’s only a few, all of them, if it’s two hundred the top dozen or so.
          4. those who pass 3 are ranked and the Civil Service Commission approves the ranked list.
          5. the hiring manager gets to in-person interview the top 3 or 4 from the approved list. This is the first step that doesn’t have a “script” that has to be stuck to.
          6. if the hiring manager doesn’t like any of the people she interviewed, she had better have Damned Good Reasons.
          7. the hiring manager ranks those she interviewed and HR makes an employment offer to the first on that list. There are essentially no negotiations, occasionally someone will start at a step above the bottom step for that position, but I’ve only seen that twice in my 35 years.

        2. Observer*

          On the other hand, the questions they asked DO related to the needs of the job, so it could be worse. And the “tell us something we haven’t asked” does give you a chance to provide that context. And, really, it’s not their job to relate the job to your resume – it’s your job to relate your resume to the job and the issues they are concerned about.

          1. Nonprofit to Govt.*

            Observer:

            Interesting point, but the questions they asked didn’t directly relate to the position.

            The three interviewers asked general questions that could apply to any position within any organization. There were no questions about writing press releases, addressing the media, volunteer recruitment/engagement, researching upcoming events, dealing with public health/police emergencies, designing fliers and/or pamphlets for events, among other communication-specific tasks. This troubles me, especially given how quickly they want to hire and within executing a writing or design exercise to evaluate skills.

            You and I also disagree about the responsibilities of each party during the course of an interview. I respond to the advertisement, apply for the position with an accurate and current resume, receive invitation to interview, spend hours preparing via research, practice interviewing and ensuring I have a portfolio, pen and pad and am dressed professionally in a skirt suit.

            They’re obligations include providing me with correct information on the time, date and location of the interview as well as providing some indication as to why they wanted to speak with me. My experiences are quite varied because of grant-funded and contractual work, so I can speak to a variety of communication tactics, but I need some general direction. Otherwise, I can spend the bulk of the interview highlighting irrelevant accomplishments.

            Interviews are very much a two-way street that requires both sides to have clear expectations and be prepared to discuss them in a friendly and engaging manner. The full burden cannot fall solely on the job applicant.

            1. Observer*

              Just because the questions they asked could be relevant to most of the positions the municipality hires for doesn’t mean that they are not directly relevant to the position at hand. I agree that they could ask more questions that are more specific to the position, but what they asked are clearly baseline issues for that position – as well as for almost any position that is either public facing or touching public facing position in most government agencies.

              The agency gave you the correct information as to when and where the interview is. It would have been nice to know why they specifically chose to talk to you, rather than not, and I even think it would have been a good idea. But, I don’t see why it is an OBLIGATION.

              Interviews should be a two way street, but that doesn’t mean that they need to adapt their questions to your resume. It DOES mean that they should treat every candidate with respect, and be willing to answer any and all reasonable questions you have, just as you should be willing and able to answer any reasonable, job related questions they have.

              1. Nonprofit to Govt.*

                Observor:

                Somehow I get the impression you’re spoiling for a fight.

                Just to clarify, I want to explain that I had to follow up twice about the time, date and location of the interview because the HR admin who contacted me originally failed to follow up. I both called and emailed her for the information, which she did eventually send, without an apology or an explanation.

                With regard to what I interpret as each side’s obligations in an interview. I believe that treating an applicant with respect includes reviewing the resume and thinking ahead as to how the applicant’s experiences and skill set would be an asset to your team and the municipality’s goals. If an applicant leaves the interview feeling as though s/he did more prep work as was head and shoulders above the interviewers with regards to professionalism and polish, I believe that may indicate a mismatch of culture.

                I do not pretend to speak for anyone else’s experiences; however, I trust my own judgment and must advocate for my own well-being and career advancement.

                Thanks for taking time to share your opinion. Sometimes we just have to agree to disagree.

    4. Wirving*

      Hi soon-to-be fellow civil servant (sending you all the positive juju)!

      With the caveat that my primary field is research and analysis, I don’t have a boilerplate this-is-what-my-government-interviews-looked-like experience, because each office I interviewed with was very different. Some interviews, like for the position I am in now, were great from the beginning, and felt more like conversations than for-stakes interviews. Others felt like I was pulling teeth because my interviewers were, for lack of a better term, terrible. It really runs the gamut.

      As Manic Pixie HR Girl says, though, it can be a long application process. I had eight interviews (individual and panel) over the course of two months for my current position. They wanted to send me an offer letter after my last interview in early summer, but because of bureaucracy and other hold-ups, I didn’t get it until the end of summer. They were quite responsive, though, and kept me in the loop throughout the whole process, which made it easier for me to turn down other offers I received in the interim. And that’s a timeline without a hiring freeze – I made it in just before my city implemented one.

      Re: over-explaining, I used to worry about that, too, but I don’t so much any more. In my experience (on both sides of the table) it’s not so much about how many words it takes to get you there, but rather how many tangents you take along the way. As long as what you said was relevant to your main point, I don’t think they’ll hold it against you. Sidenote: this is the obligatory brevity is preferred because being concise is important in policy yadda yadda yadda, but in my experience brevity is easier to teach than discretion.

  22. Smithy*

    I’m in the process of interviewing for a new job with an organization that I suspect may be closer to business dress than the business casual/very casual work environments I’ve been in my whole professional life (~10 years).

    My question is – are there any readers, particularly women, who’ve made the switch from business casual to business? What kind of impact did that have on you? I know that business dress vs business casual for women can be a little more murky – but I’m curious about whether that makes a considerable difference in your work quality of life. After updating your closet, does it become something you don’t notice or an issue you remain aware of?

    Having to switch to business wear wouldn’t be my ideal – but I’m curious how big a difference it actually provides to different people’s work life experience.

    1. Rincat*

      This is interesting! I have some experience with this, at my first job out of college, it was anything goes dress code – I could literally wear shorts and flippies as long as I didn’t have a client meeting, which happened maybe once a year (very casual part time job at a private archive). I then got a job at a conservative private university who was basically business formal. I was 23 at the time. To me, it was kind of exciting at first to get to buy dressier things like slacks and blouses, and it was a full time position so I was earning a lot more and able to go shopping. So at first I enjoyed the new clothes and feeling more like an “adult.” But over time I started to get annoyed with the formality of the clothes and having two wardrobes, and especially having uncomfortable shoes. My feet certainly were hurting since I wore flats and low heels with no support – we couldn’t wear sneakers or anything like that. Also more formal business clothing doesn’t really lend itself to bodily changes…hardly any stretch or things like that, so if your weight and body shape change a lot (which is quite typical of your 20s!), then you have to spend MORE money on work clothes (especially pants). So that started to really bother me. I can’t really say that in and of itself affected my work life because by that time, I was looking to quit (horrible boss), but it sure didn’t help. I didn’t have that excitement any more about looking professional and put together, and I was getting annoyed at the cost of maintaining a casual and a business wardrobe.

      Now I work in a casual/business casual environment (we can wear jeans but still need to look put together), I’m 33, and I’ve really found my style and what works for me, so I no longer have two separate wardrobes. Also I’ve found some amazing “dress sneakers” that look fantastic with everything and are super comfortable. :)

        1. NaoNao*

          Hi, I’m not the poster here, but I think I know what xie means by “dress sneakers”. Usually they’re leather, they look like oxfords or bowling shoes, they have minimal contrast or detailing, and they have a discreet rubber sole. They fit close to the foot and are sleek and low-profile.
          If you look up “Steve Madden Raant”, “Halogen Emily Loafer”, “Shelly’s London Platform Oxford” or “Cole Haan Zero Grand” brands you’ll get an idea of what the OP meant :)

          1. Rincat*

            Yes, very much like that! Mine are from a brand called Unnown Footwear. I first got the Veronica loafers in black leather, and I LOVE them. I wore them to a conference in Vegas and they were magical. I’ve since gotten a couple other pairs and they always look very polished and fashion forward, but they have a thick, cushy sole which is great for my high arches.

            I will say the loafers and the chukka boot took some breaking in – they only do whole sizes, so I ordered the 7 though I typically wear 7.5, as the customer services said they run large. After wearing them every day for a couple weeks, the leather definitely does stretch and they fit perfectly. I also got the Sonia sneaker and that is just larger anyway, so no break-in there. I definitely recommend them! I wear them with trousers, skirts, dresses, everything.

    2. kbeers0su*

      I just made a work wardrobe transition this summer. I went from casual (jeans) to business casual. So I had to buy essentially a whole new wardrobe. I focused on getting mix and match pieces to limit how much I actually had to buy, and I just went out in one trip to an outlet mall and got the bulk of my pieces there. I also kept my wardrobe to six colors- three colors (red, green, blue) and three neutrals (white, black, gray)- which helped with the mix and match idea.

      It was hard at first, because it takes a lot more time/energy/effort to get ready for work. And at first I was really conscious about what I was wearing daily because I was worried about fitting in. But now, six months in, it’s a routine. And I don’t really think about it. It does make a more distinct divide in my closet between my work and non-work clothes. So, funny enough, it actually helps me compartmentalize more because I look different when I’m in work mode vs. home mode. And I like that part a lot!

      1. Rincat*

        Limiting your color palette helps a LOT. I started doing that a year or so ago – I basically just have black, white, gray, navy, and some olive. It makes getting ready so much easier.

        1. Lemon Zinger*

          100% this. My boyfriend thinks my outfits are boring, but I’m not dressing to impress anyone. My attire is primarily neutrals and it makes getting dressed in the mornings a cinch!

          1. AnonAnalyst*

            My office makes fun of me for this because most of my clothes are black, charcoal grey, or navy. Whatever – everything in my closet matches just about everything else. Winning!

        2. Susan C*

          Oh god yes. I worked so hard at figuring out how to tastefully wear colour during my stint in grad school, I have recently come to the conclusion enough is enough, I can let my inner teenage goth off the leash and start buying black again. At least if only one piece per outfit has color, pre-coffee!me won’t try to mix olive and navy because she couldn’t be arsed to turn on the light properly.

          On second thought, maybe don’t take fashion advice from me.

          1. Rincat*

            I actually think olive and navy can be a nice pairing. :) I felt the same way, I decided to just give into my urge to wear black all the time and now people think I’m fashionable.

            1. Artemesia*

              There is an elderly couple in my old town where I did my career, positively ancient who are so completely stylish. They both wear basic black — and a black turtle (she may have just a black sweater — under black suits. She has clunky gold jewelry, he just has the black cashmere jacket and turtle, but stylish glasses. They always look completely fabulous and I’ll bet they have a closet literally with just a row of black jackets and pants/skirts. For black tie events, she might have something with a little color but always understated and lovely. They were my ideals — to be able to dress without a thought but always look dazzlingly stylish and cool well into one’s 80s. He is an important architect and as long as I was in the same circles (over 20 years at least) they always wore that basic outfit to evening social events (and for all I know, for work as well.)

        3. Red Reader*

          I went into a meeting at one point and all eleven people in the room were dressed head to toe in black, grey and white. :)

      2. Becca*

        Yes! Keeping your color palette limited is great because you can mix and match without having to think about it! There’s a blog called The Vivienne Files that I’m mildly obsessed with (I may have mentioned them in last week’s open thread too…) that does a lot with creative wardrobes with limited colors. They’re really gorgeous; my dream is to have something that looks that put-together!!

    3. Lincoln*

      Business dress is very EASY! Don’t be intimidated at all and the more your dress that way the easier it becomes. I wish I still had to wear a suit everyday. There was no guess work at all in the morning. Costume jewelry and scarfs can add your own flair.

      1. Another Lawyer*

        I agree, I actually think it’s over all easier to dress business formal than business casual because the rules are clearer.

        I shop at consignment/thrift stores with some deep sale shopping and my outfits are basically all one of these (I buy the same things in a lot of colors so I have a uniform more or less and can get dressed in under a minute):

        Black light wool skirting suit from Banana/J. Crew+Crew neck lightweight Teddie J. Crew sweater + statement necklace + opaque tights
        Suiting dress + button down underneath + opaque tights + bangles and pearl earrings
        Suiting dress + opaque tights + cardigan + statement necklace

        In the summer it’s:
        suiting dress + cardigan (no hose is fine in my office)+ statement necklace
        colorful pencil skirt + cream silky blouse or dark crewneck ponte top with 1/2 sleeves + jewelry

        I hate pants.

        1. Anon13*

          I dress similarly in my business professional office, except we are required to wear blazers, not cardigans, and are also “strongly encouraged” to wear hose. I agree that it’s actually much easier to get dressed in the morning than it was when I worked in business casual offices.

    4. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      They will probably give you a list of acceptable/not acceptable so wait to do shopping until you see the list. My company was purchased by a larger company and at the corporate office they are business professional dress, but they allowed us to remain (their version of) business casual but we had to make adjustments. Pants had to be long (no crop, ankle or capri) and we had to wear either dress socks or stockings, no backless shoes. Men had to wear slacks and collared shirts, no sweaters and no polo’s. Wear a nice suit or dress your first day, and I’m sure they will give you a handbook that lays it all out. It might be that slacks and a blouse or slacks and a button down shirt will be appropriate.

    5. fluxinsight*

      I’m currently working for a federal agency, but before that I worked for nonprofits and academia. So my wardrobe had to change from the very casual end of business casual to business formal. I think that I’m happier with a more formal environment because it’s easier to know what you’re supposed to wear (especially since I’m a woman and there’re limitless options/ways to make mistakes). It made my morning routine easier because everything mixes and matches and I don’t spend too much time wondering if something’s inappropriate. Also, it feels like wearing armor to me so that I’m ready to face any potential challenges that may arise during my time at work.

      I described some of the upsides to a more formal work wardrobe. However, the sticker shock to updating my closet was intense. And I feel that there’s a clear divide between my work clothes and my weekend wear.

    6. DevManager*

      I’ve gone back and forth several times between more casual (where some people wore shorts/flip flops) and more business dress (current job – no jeans except Fridays, all the men wear collared shirts and slacks).

      If you choose well and what you wear fits well, it doesn’t make a huge difference in your quality of life, IMO. For example, this week I have worn Tuesday: Sheath dress with boots, Wednesday: dress slacks, sleeveless peplum top with cardigan over it, flats, Thursday: dress slacks, sweater set (matching cardigan and shell), low heels, today: jeans w/ button down long sleeved top, dark colored slip ons.

      I agree with the other advice – limit your color palette. Also – unless your office is super stylish, you can get away with wearing the same things week in and week out i.e. Monday one week wear black dress A, and then Weds the following week, but with scarf b, and so on. If you’re concerned about potential weight fluctuations – well cut sheath or a-line dresses are your friend. I tend to wear a lot of dresses because I then only have 1 piece to worry about.

    7. N.J.*

      I don’t have any advice about the transition to business formal per se, but there are a few blogs that do a very good job discussing how to build a business wardrobe: corporette and Capitol Hill style come to mind.

      Specific links that might help:

      http://corporette.com/capsule-wardrobe-for-work/

      http://www.caphillstyle.com/capitol/2013/05/08/building-a-wardrobe-15-easy-pieces.html

      I also just started reading the directrice, so can’t completely vouch for it but the link below might help:

      http://thedirectrice.com/the-small-but-smart-wardrobe/

      All the links here focus on the capsule wardrobe idea, but that could be a good starting point for how to approach purchasing enough clothes to get you through this transition. All three bloggers work or have worked in formal business environments like law and politics, so I’m trusting their style sensibilities are formal enough.

      1. Susan C*

        Since you seem to have been around the blogosphere a fair bit, have you maybe ever come across someone/someplace offering business dress advice for women slanted a little more… butch, for lack of a better word?

        Because while I do appreciate the advantages of dresses (fewer pieces!) and skirts (no heel height specific hemming!), I’m just not about that. Don’t even start on jewellery.

        1. Doodle*

          I don’t know about blogs, but I honestly think that’s easier. Trousers, loafers, button down shirt (or tucked in non-button down shirt), blazer. That’s my go-to for business formal days, and it’s super easy to mix and match. I have black pants and grey pants (2 pairs of each), a couple of button downs, and a couple of blazers (2 black, 1 grey, 1 khaki).

    8. Internal Auditor*

      I switch depending on what I’m doing that day! Business dress can actually be easier day to day. It’s much harder to screw up a suit + blouse.

      Go shopping. Try on suits, etc from different stores. Every place fits differently. Your goal is to find a brand that fits without alteration, or only pants hem. Once you know brand and size, look online for used suits to save money.

      Even within business dress, there’s a variety. You’re going to want to take your cue from other women at the company. Pant suits, dresses + jacket, skirts

      Most of the time, suits need to be dry cleaned. I wear mine several times between cleanings. I change as soon as I get home as well to keep them clean.

    9. Leslie Knope*

      Work quality of life wise? Not necessarily. I’m really intense about making sure my clothes are still comfortable because let’s be honest–if I’m uncomfortable in my clothes I’m not very comfortable and not good at working. Does this mean wearing my work clothes is the same as a hoodie and yoga pants? Nope! Haha. I wish. My boss instituted a “Levi Day” on Fridays, and I FREQUENTLY mention that an “Athleisure” Friday would actually be the best ever haha. But call me a millenial. Because I can’t really control the work attire situation, I decided to champion it. I enjoy finding great deals from Ann Taylor (they frequently have huge sales–shop the clearance section, etc.). I really love my work purses / bags and use them all the time. I research the heck out of comfortable shoes for the office. So here’s the deal–if you can’t change it, own it. :)

      I would say the biggest factor is on the wallet.

      Here we go. For me personally, and I work in business/finance in a hybrid business professional/business casual environment, my style is pretty much exclusively from Ann Taylor.

      My day is a combo of a variety of pencil skirts (in soft fabrics but professional cuts) plus a flowy blouse and cardigan with flats (Tory Burch / Tieks / Kate Spade) on a more casual day. When I have to meet with clients it’s predominantly a suit (black because I’m boring) with a flowy shirt underneath with heels (wedges b/c I’m a baby and my toes hurt with super high heels haha).

      My BIGGEST recommendation is to get a few good pieces and slowly work them into your wardrobe if you do indeed move to the new environment/dress code. A huge overhaul is going to be a big hit to the wallet. You can dress up an outfit well with one or two good pieces. While often people say to watch the dress code of others, I’d just have to put my two cents in that most women at my office are pretty off base. I travel to my I’d find those you observe that are conscientious about other items and see what they do — they’re usually the ones that would notice this social norm too.

      Also, most Nordstrom’s offer personal stylists that you can schedule appointments with. You’re not obligated to buy anything–obviously they get commission off your purchases, etc. I’ve used one a few times and it’s been FANTASTIC to get a sense of what works on my body, etc. They are pieces I’ve used all the time. I’m not suggesting you have to buy all of your things from them, but maybe giving yourself a dollar limit and honing in on something might be great because you’ll get a sense for what works on your body. Then, you go deal hunting! and know exactly what shapes work for you!

  23. Contractor*

    Hey guys this is my first time being a contract employee on a 6 month contract. I was hired as a temporary contractor with no formal paperwork. My agency literally said show up starting this date until this date with no parking, dress code, or other info. l did not sign any sort of contract. I took this job after getting laid off from oil and gas and honestly, I’m just not sure it’s for me. I took it because I needed money coming in.

    I have another two months left (I’ve been interviewing at other places to see what’s out there) and was wondering what would be a good timeline to give notice? A month out from when the contract is up? Two weeks like a normal job? And to be clear, it is heavily leaning towards they’d like me to be perm but I haven’t said anything quite yet- and again, nothing is guaranteed at this point. Also would I let my agency or my manager know first?

    Also, do you think it will hurt my resume to have a contract job that I didn’t go perm at?

    Would it be an absolute no-no to leave the contract a month or so early? Please don’t pile on if it is as I honestly don’t know this is my first time on a contract.

    Thanks for your advice everyone it is much appreciated!

    1. Red Reader*

      Two weeks like a normal job is fine, and the expectation is that contract jobs are short-term and temporary. Not going perm will not even raise an eyebrow.

    2. Red Reader*

      My last contract job, I didn’t have anything formal in writing either, haha. I’d gotten the job via a cold call from a recruiter that I never met with in person. I researched as well as I could online, but I knocked on the door half afraid that I’d been scammed, nobody knew I was coming, there wasn’t really a job and I had sent all my personal information to someone who was selling my identity on the black market or something.

      (It was legit, that contract DID go perm, and now I’m in management for the same organization. :) )

    1. Addison*

      I include my home address but didn’t put the apartment number, just……. because I’m untrusting that way. As far as I’m aware it’s pretty common to do but you could probably get away with leaving it off (or maybe just putting city and state?) if you want to.

    2. Sunflower*

      I still include it because if you don’t, it could appear that you’re trying to hide something (like you aren’t local). I don’t necessarily think its the kiss of death but I don’t see an upside to keeping it off, only a downside

    3. Berry*

      I have email, phone, and then my Town, State and ZIP code but not street address. That was I still have location but no one needs to know what apartment I live in.

    4. Academia Escapee*

      I include city and state, but not street address. That way employers can see that I’m local without pinpointing my location.

    5. Prismatic Professional*

      I just put City, State and ZIP Code. The ZIP Code can give an idea of where I am if they are interested in figuring out commute distances or something. They do not need to have my actual address.

    6. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I include city/state/zip but not street address. My employer might well be concerned with generally how close I am, but I don’t think they need more than that, and it keeps me feeling more secure — I am estranged from some family members that I really do not want tracking me down.

    7. Ann Furthermore*

      Someone I used to work with told me that she was watching some job search videos by some guy….can’t remember his name. Anyway, he recommended omitting it, because at one point he’d watched an HR person skim through resumes and discarding quite a few of them. He asked why, and the HR person said, “Well, this person lives in [town that’s and hour away]. They’re not going to want to make that commute!”

      Anecdotal evidence, but I could see the logic behind leaving it off.

      1. Anon13*

        I see this logic, but it’s actually why I include mine. I live very near downtown in a city that gets a lot of snow – on at least one occasion, I know that the fact that I lived so close helped me get an interview. (I guess the previous employee had a lot of trouble making it to work when there was bad snow. It was through no fault of her own, but, when she quit, they wanted to minimize the chances of going through the same thing again.)

      2. Turkletina*

        I’m going to post this question as a top-level comment in a minute here, but I got a version of this at an interview this morning:

        Me: Do you have any concerns about my background that I could address?
        Interviewer: Honestly, looking at [your resume], I’d be concerned about you driving all the way here from [town] every day!

        I’m not particularly concerned; it’s a 40-minute trip, which is approximately 5 minutes longer than my last commute.

    8. Rob Lowe can't read*

      I have for my last two job searches, but I probably won’t for the next one (1-2 years from now, probably), provided we stay in this area (which is increasingly likely). The next job search will probably be exclusively in the same city where I currently work, so I feel like that should be good enough.

    9. New Window*

      I reluctantly put city and state, but I leave off street address and zip code. It may be overcaution, but street addresses and zip codes have been used to discriminate before, so I figure why not take that possibility out of the game.

    10. copy run start*

      City/state, phone and email. I will put it on the application if the employer has an actual app, but on my resume I feel that space can be of better use, safety/privacy concerns non-withstanding.

    11. OBdontgo*

      Email and phone number. I don’t give anyone my address or other identifying information via email/internet. The entire world (and especially my crazy stalker ex) don’t need to know where I live!

    12. MissGirl*

      Email and phone. I’m working with several recruiters and advisors and no one says to add address.

  24. Marie*

    Any tips for stopping yourself from freaking out?

    I have a major assignment due next week and I’m alternating between ‘it’s fine, I’ve got this’ and ‘OMG I have no idea what I’m talking about this is all rubbish I am so screwed.’

    1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

      Have a cup of tea. I have heard good things about dancing to Beyonce. Take five minutes to go and do ANYTHING ELSE. Write a todo list. With little accomplishments. (That was what got me through my dissertation.)

      1. kbeers0su*

        Ditto here. So at least I know someone else is in the same boat. Just don’t let imposter syndrome get the best of you. Also, I agree with some Beyonce :)

    2. Manders*

      I like to break huge projects down into digestible bits, even if they’re absurdly tiny. So instead of “climb the mountain,” my list starts with putting on hiking books, packing my water bottle, driving to the location, getting out of my car, reaching the trailhead, and so on.

      I also like having progress bars I print out and fill in with highlighters. There’s something about the physical act of filling in the bar that makes the small accomplishment feel real.

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        Plus, if you derive satisfaction from having a huge list of crossed out tasks, this is such a boost! On really overwhelming days/projects, I will include breaks and little life tasks (“clean kitchen,” i.e. put coffee mug and cereal bowl in the dishwasher) just to have one more thing to triumphantly cross off!

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Expanding on this: I like to figure out where the problem areas are that concern me the most. Using Manders’ list as an example: I might conclude that my biggest concerns were
        a) Checking my hiking boots for wear/fatigue. Do I need new boots?
        b)I am going to drive to the location. I have a weird noise in my car’s engine. I should get the car checked before I start out that day.
        c) I am concerned about bug bites while hiking so this means I must check how much bug spray I have left.

        Now, I might not get to a, b and c right away. I might do one of the questions a week as I work on other things. But I know where my top concerns are and that I need to address them before time gets by me. I target the areas of largest concern knowing that smaller concerns can be worked out as I go along.

  25. bassclefchick*

    Well, it happened. I just got fired. Again. For the 2nd time in 6 months. I was told I wasn’t progressing fast enough. I don’t know if it was a self fulfilling prophecy or not. I don’t know what I’m going to do now or how my work history will ever recover.

    In other news, the person who got me this job? She’s out with stress related medical issues and will be putting in her notice to quit next week.

    1. Nonprofit to Govt.*

      bassclefchick:

      My sympathies for the loss of your job.

      As someone who has struggled with bad fits and unclear goals, I have found that leaving off positions that last less than six months have proved a solid course of action. Remember, your resume is a marketing tool, not a comprehensive list of your full prior employment.

      Please consider leaving off one or both jobs from your resume and focus on volunteering, taking free or low-cost online classes, attending networking events hosted by professional associations. I have been in similar situations, particularly after going through a bait and switch with a large nonprofit and working at a struggling start-up. Neither position is on my resume, and I was able to quickly pursue other positions without much concern.

      Alison has some super helpful posts about losing jobs and dealing with feelings about it. If you are up to it, I recommend searching the archives for some of those.

      Be good to yourself and try not to let this ruin your weekend or tarnish your job-search outlook. There’ s a good job out there waiting for someone with your skill set to fill.

      1. bassclefchick*

        Thank you! No, I wasn’t planning on putting either job on my resume. I’ll keep the notes for dates and stuff for my own records. At least I saw this one coming. I honestly don’t think my boss ever really wanted me on the team anyway. I’m going to take the rest of today off and just chill out this weekend. I’ll start the job search next week.

    2. AshK434*

      OH NO!! I’m so sorry. I’ve been following your posts for a while now and I can relate. In 2014, I was fired twice within four months. Admittedly both jobs weren’t suited to my skill sets (and the manager from the second job just didn’t like me) but I recovered and my subsequent job was a great fit that I loved. Hang in there!!

      1. bassclefchick*

        It’s funny you say that because I’ve always felt my boss didn’t like me. She asked if I had anything to say and since HER boss was also in the room I flat out said that she never really made me feel welcome and that I got a vibe that she never wanted me there.

        I have to move on, that’s all I can do.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Good for you for speaking up. You will be able to always remember that you stood up for you. Yes, it matters.

  26. YouHaveBeenWarned*

    Does anyone have any recommendations for how to get over feeling super bummed out about upcoming performance reviews/bonus announcements?

    1. jdm*

      I’m pretty bummed about a situation at work, and the best way I’ve found to deal with it is to create some personal LFTs (looking forward tos) — lunch with a friend, going out of town for a wedding, getting a new book, going out to a good restaurant, etc. Having a LFT keeps my mind off the negative.

      1. YouHaveBeenWarned*

        This is some seriously outstanding advice. I tend to spiral around “my review is going to be horrible everyone hates my work maybe they’ll fire me” so distraction is probably a really good idea.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep, that is outstanding advice. And it is something that is life long advice. Crap happens naturally, but sometimes we have to deliberately create the good times. And it’s easy to skip the fun stuff, too tired, too distraught, too scattered, etc. But when we skip the good stuff we send a message to ourselves about how we do (or don’t) value our own selves.
          Work related stuff is a part of life, but not all of life.

  27. Audiophile*

    So I finally saw my raise, it was in my most recent check. After taxes, it’s all of $25 a paycheck. If my original calculations were correct, it amounts to less than $.50.

    While I’m happy to see any raise, it really feels disappointing with all the time and effort I put into this job. Plus, it makes it hard to ask for more at a future employer because my salary is so low and I took a $5000 paycut when I took this job. It’s all incredibly frustrating.

    I’ve started reaching out to contacts in the corporate world, to see if I can make the leap.

    1. kbeers0su*

      I once got a .7% raise. It was the only raise I ever got. And I was making squat, so I think it was a few dollars a paycheck. I think getting nothing wouldn’t have crushed my morale the way that did.

    2. Oryx*

      I once had a job where everyone was super excited because they were finally get a “quarter raise.”

      They literally meant $0.25

    3. costume teapot*

      Ugh. I’m *in* the corporate world and I got this. A 1.5% raise. That’s not even a cost of living or inflation raise. I’m pretty irritated. Would have rather gotten nothing at all.

    4. Curriculum*

      I got 3% but the company increased the proportion of health insurance and 401k that we have to pay so my take home pay went down $50 per month.

    5. Frustrated Optimist*

      We got zero increase (neither COL nor merit) for 2016 or 2017. And our health insurance has gone up to the tune of $100 more/month as compared to 2015.

  28. Addison*

    Aggravating: When your annual wage increase was supposed to hit today’s paycheck but did not; however, your annual insurance/deduction increases sure the heck did!!! UGHHH.

    1. ThatGirl*

      My husband’s increased insurance deduction hit this month, but he did not get a raise, and my insurance went up a bit, but my wage increase doesn’t kick in until April – so yeah, I feel ya.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Ugh is right! My company still owes me $500 for supplies I bought with my personal credit card back in October. We just got new expense software and our “crack accounting team” (more like crackhead accounting team) can’t get their shit together.

    3. Artemesia*

      It doesn’t get better; our increase in social security was lower than our increase in medicare charges. I was lucky that I had fabulous medical insurance when working complete paid by my employer although my family was extra, but my husband’s firm’s insurance was incredibly expensive — like 20K per family. The firm paid for it for employees but of course it came out of the partner’s pay and they were not fabulously well paid.

  29. Cora*

    I feel in a pickle here…

    I am set to move on Saturday February 4th and asked for the Friday/Monday off to take the stress off and allow time for prep/delays. I checked with my boss and coworker (the only others in company) and they said there was no conflicts….

    So that night I booked the movers for first thing Saturday morning and scheduled cable hookup for Friday afternoon that I must be present for all afternoon. That Friday morning must be spent cleaning my apartment. Monday is when we’re doing the walkthrough of our old apartment with the landlord.

    I get into work today and I’m told that if there is a snowstorm and my coworker can’t come in (she’s a 2 hour drive away) that I will need to come in those days and they can’t guarantee ANY days off for my move – which means cable/internet hookup could be delayed over a week plus my landlord will nail me with extra rent if the keys aren’t back Monday morning.

    I don’t know what to do… I can’t afford to work those days without major inconvenience to my personal life. They don’t seem to get that appointments have been made and I don’t know how to explain it.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      “I’m sorry, but I made plans and appointments around these approved days off and at this point there will be personal and financial hardships if I have to cancel any of this last minute.”

      Is it possible to do the walkthrough on Sunday? My other thought is either first thing Monday or end of day Monday, then if there is a hardship to them you can be in Monday … but I would hold firm on Friday.

    2. Temperance*

      Do you have a partner/roommate? Can they pick up any of the slack here, or is it all on you?

      You need to talk to your boss about the extra costs you will incur related to the extra rent. I also think a lot of this is a time management issue; you can absolutely pack ahead of time and get a good jump on the cleaning. Cable/internet is annoying not to have, but not absolutely imperative, whereas extra rent is a big deal.

      1. Cora*

        That is the thing – I have no one to help me out, which is why I really needed these days off! I am already cleaning my entire apartment but since I have dogs, everything basically needs to be cleaned again on the Thursday/Friday.

        The only way to logistically get this done without the time off is to hire help to clean my apartment when I am out, but that is an unrealistic cost for me. The cable/internet company can only come Mon-Fri during my work hours and their policy is that I need to personally be there. Even if I didn’t do it the Friday I would need a guaranteed day off during the next week due to their big time windows plus my commute.

        The cable/internet is very important to me because on top of working full time I am also a part time student… losing internet for a week means that I can’t study for a week and will miss assignment deadlines since our small town has few places with wifi where you can work late into the night.

        Even worse about the cable/internet is that if I cancel the appointment that morning when I find out I have to go into work, I am on the hook for the moving fee plus a new moving fee for my next appointment!

        I’ve sent my boss an email since he didn’t have time to talk to me outlining how much money I’ll be out if I cannot be guaranteed these days off.

    3. Rachel*

      Do you have any local friends or family who are unemployed, retired, stay-at-home parents etc. (basically – people without a standard 9 to 5) you could ask for help?

      This is lousy of your company either way, and I’m pulling for you.

    4. LCL*

      Since you are dealing with only 2 people, and they have that much control, I would phrase it like this.

      I checked with you before I made any arrangements to find a clear time.
      I am moving that weekend. I booked the movers based on having those days free. If I cancel or postpone I will have to pay XXX extra money.
      I have made arrangements with the landlord to be gone by Feb 6. If I cancel or postpone I will have to pay XXX extra money.
      I can’t afford to come to work that weekend. That is why I checked ahead of time, to pick the optimum time for the company and for me.

      Don’t use the word inconveniences, they won’t care. They will understand money. Don’t talk about the cable hookup, that will be seen like asking for time off to go to a basketball game. Entertainment is cool and all but you are making this argument strictly about money.
      And for anyone who says Cora shouldn’t have to make these arguments, she isn’t being treated with respect-yup, I agree. If I told someone in my group they were expected to cancel their moving plans to come in and work they would laugh at me. But Cora is working in a small business and wants to keep her job, so those are my suggestions.

      1. Cora*

        I did end up sending an email to my boss (he was too busy to chat) outlining what it will cost me to not get these days off. I hope the prospect of me having to give my landlord an extra $800 plus the $60 moving fee that won’t be refunded by the cable/internet company for cancelling my appointment that morning. Plus if it turned out I had to delay the movers because I couldn’t have everything prepped in time that I word forfeit my $200 moving deposit!

        I hadn’t realized it but we’re talking about $1060 in added expenses when my gross pay for that day will only be about $150!!!

        I also put in the argument that delaying internet would hinder my online university classes (which benefit my employer) and would result in future expenses due to the inability to access my class materials.

        I appealed to the compassionate side of my coworker and hope that will work… I don’t think she realized how much stress it would cause me! I also think assumptions were made that I had friends/family/boyfriend to help me move/clean and didn’t have to do everything on my own. At the end of the day it comes down to my boss though…

        I think it is because they know I am staying in town that they think I should be able to just drop everything and come into work if my coworker took the day off at the last minute… we are literally talking about me getting a call at 8:30am telling me I need to be at work for 9:00am! They wouldn’t even think of this if I had told them I was going out of town.

    5. Lily in NYC*

      Tell them that you can’t do it unless they agree to pay any fees you incur. But still, this is BS. What if you were going to be out for surgery? They would have found a way to make it work without you. What would happen if you said, “I am 100% unavailable to work those days”?

      1. Cora*

        I know that would work… tallying it up I would have to spend $1060 in expenses to delay the move when my boss is only paying me $150 to work that day.

        I think this is only happening because they know I am going to be in town and physically able to work if they needed me. If I were out of town or physically incapable it would be entirely on my coworker for not having to come in – I even fear she wants the freedom to decide not to come in that day by having me essentially on-call.

        If neither of us come in that day it would just mean reduced office hours and reduced services for clients since my boss would be working alone – it has happened before when she was on vacation and I got the flu!

        1. Cora*

          But I should also mention that on that day when she was on vacation and I was sick that when she found out we had both been off one day, she said “If you had called me at home to let me know I would’ve come straight in to work!”

          So this may also have everything to do with what she is willing to do on her time off, she is the kind of person that works from home for free and stayed at work on the day her father died because she ‘had stuff to do’.

    6. Xarcady*

      I don’t like it when companies do this. Either you have the days off, or you don’t. (I’m assuming that you are taking scheduled paid time off here, and that the two days off weren’t a favor from your boss.)

      What if you had planned to go away during that time? Would they expect you to cancel travel plans and eat the cost of the plane tickets, etc., because it *might* snow and cause them a problem?

      Just because you aren’t leaving town on your vacation days does not mean you should be considered a back-up plan for bad weather. And if your co-worker’s home location causes a problem in the office, that is not your problem to fix. Either they figure out a way to let her work from home, or they hire someone on the condition that they will always come to work in bad weather.

      I would definitely try pushing back as Manic Pixie has suggested.

      1. Cora*

        It certainly is scheduled paid time off, my boss sat down to make sure I had enough accrued vacation to cover the days off before he even gave me the green light!

        I’m thinking they would expect me to do anything possible to cancel plans and come into work should she not be able to come in… in the past when she was on vacation and I was sick, she had made a comment when she came back that she would’ve come in if I had called her!

        We’re also talking about very last minute notice if I would need to go in… my workday starts at 9:00am and she would only know if she couldn’t make it at 8:30am!

        I know they are also looking at me as the ‘always in despite the weather’ person because I currently live only a couple minutes away from the office… so when they hired me they assumed I’d pretty much always be there but weren’t thinking I would need days off in the winter.

    7. Anono-me*

      Why can’t coworker get a hotel room if she is worried about getting to work due to the weather? What would she do if a blizzard hit Friday while she was at work? The cost of a hotel room is almost certainly much less then a lost security deposit. And staying in a hotel is also almost certainly much less hassle than moving house over a 2 day weekend.

      Boss and Coworker made statements that you relied upon and entered into contracts based upon. I think you have a very large amount of cause to push back. There are several good suggestions as to wording.

      An additional reason to push back on this is to avoid having it be the default. Cora is getting married/ having surgery/ getting the Nobel on Monday. But Coworker has a flat tire. Is Coworker going to grab a jack or a taxi or is Cora going to have to cancel her plans and go to work?

      Good luck with everything.

      1. Cora*

        If the employer had to look at the cost of paying for either the option of me delaying my move or her staying in a local hotel room would be this: Me= $1060.00 Her= $200.00

        But even with a delay in my moving date for this expense, there’d be the same issue on my delayed date where they’d say there could potentially be another snowstorm that would cost another $260 to reschedule the movers and cable/internet company again.

        I could easily see this setting a precedence for all future time off needs… we’re also talking about very last minute notice to cancel my plans as well. I’d only know at 8:30am that day if my coworker couldn’t come in to be at work for 9:00, so I couldn’t even plan around knowing she won’t be there in advance.

  30. oasl*

    I graduated a year ago with a degree in music, and have been working at an arts charity since then. I like my job and I really support the work the charity does (I volunteered with them before I worked there), but it’s not a full-time position and I’ve been working two other jobs on the side to get by. From what I can tell, I’ll need one to two more years of experience to be a contender for full-time positions in this field (at least in my area as there aren’t a lot of open positions), and I just don’t want it enough. I am too tired and stressed about finances to feel very passionate about the work we’re doing, and I was much happier contributing to this charity as a volunteer.

    Which brings me to my problem. I’m now searching for a full-time position elsewhere, and I…don’t really care about what I’d be doing. I know that I want to get out of customer-facing roles and that I want a job with work that doesn’t come home with me at the end of the day, and that’s it. I’ve been applying to entry-level office jobs because they seem to fit with what I can do and what I want from a work/life balance. I know employers want to hire people who are passionate about theidr work, and all the reasons why make perfect sense. At the same time, I know that I am competent and can find enjoyment in even very monotonous work. I feel like I get invested in the work I do as I do it, which doesn’t help me in the job search stage. For example, one of my current responsibilities is to collect personal data from customers that can be used to apply for funding. They aren’t required to give us this information, but I do have to ask. A lot of people are hesitant about this, and I’ve gotten very good at explaining what we need it for and how their information will be used, to the point where I have changed the minds of people who were initially very annoyed to be asked. I’m very proud of myself for how I handle these interactions, but it’s not work I specifically wanted to be doing or would have been excited to talk about if it had been in a listing.

    How do I stand out from all of the applications from other qualified people when I’m not following an important personal goal by applying? I do my best to find relevant angles to get myself excited based off of what type of employer it is, but I feel like the fact that I don’t have a relevant career plan* or an explanation for why this specific type of work makes me look like I haven’t really thought things through and am not invested enough to stick around.

    *The work I feel strongly about doing is music composition, and I do that on my own time. I don’t see it as a realistic thing to pursue full-time yet.

    1. Biff*

      I think you MIGHT be over-thinking this one. I don’t think most sane places to work expect you to be totally stoked to cold-call clients, radically enthused about filing or exceptionally invested in scheduling tetris. If you are applying for entry-level office jobs, those would really be examples of how you took on grunt work and owned it, and made things better. That’s a GREAT thing to have an example for.

      It’s also not unusual to take an entry level job so you can gain experience you need to move on. It’s called an entry level job for a reason. No one expects or frankly, even wants, you to change the company from the bottom up with your mad phone skills. Someone who is overly invested in an entry level job will honestly come across as kinda strange.

    2. Daisy Grrl*

      Fellow music grad here. I work in something completely unrelated to the arts or anything I studied in university. I agree with Biff, that you’re overthinking it a bit. Part of the problem with studying music/the arts is that it really embeds the idea that you MUST be passionate about your work. Most of the world really doesn’t work that way.

      Since you’re still early in your career, it makes sense that you haven’t settled on any one specific thing yet. In your current job, there are duties you enjoy and would presumably be happy doing in a number of different settings. Focus on those aspects, and remember that many employers will think it’s perfectly reasonable that you want to move toward full time work that is steady and reliable.

    3. EP*

      Fellow arts major here! (Fine Arts: Theatre) and just to forewarn you be prepared to defend your degree forever – I’m 10 years out of college and LAST YEAR I had to answer why I majored in Theatre. I think part of it is that people are nervous that you’re going to leave – the other part is how flaky you are (did you do it because it was “easy”– FYI theatre at a small Liberal Arts College is not easy!) Remember to spin the practical skills you learned while studying that (for theatre it was planning and people skills – jokingly I usually throw in that I can paint a mean wall…)

      I have found my best (read: longest lasting/most fulfilling) jobs have been with science people (currently vets, previously nurses and PhD/MDs working in disease research) they need someone to bring them back to earth and to show them how they are maybe not thinking things through (like-yea that’s a great building but MAYBE that work space design isn’t the most conducive for private conversations- or – yes for this 2 day meeting it does matter what you feed people and when…). When you bring those skills to the office you end up being even more valuable.

    4. Sunflower*

      Focus more on your skills and what you like to do in a job as opposed to where the job is or what it is. The majrity of employers are not doing work people are passionate about and they realize that. One thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is I’m way way way more motivated by the work I do in a job as opposed to what my job is, who I work for, etc. Most people aren’t incredibly invested in what they do. I like what I do but I am not SO PASSIONATE about planning events for lawyers! I do really like mapping out the logistics of things and creating project plans though. So focus on what you bring to the table there and employers won’t bat an eye that you aren’t passionate about the creation of molds to make plastic products.

    5. oasl*

      Thank you all for answering this. I think I’ve been letting the stress of the job search get to me and feeling like everyone else applying for these positions probably has their life together much more than I do. When I narrowed my thinking down to what tasks I was actually good at and enjoyed like you all suggested, I started to feel a lot more confident.

  31. Biff*

    Can I get a pep talk? I’m unemployed and in my vast wisdom, I decided to search for a job and a book agent to represent my sci-fi fiction. I send off applications and query letters, but it’s like everything I”m spending my time on goes into a black hole. It makes it VERY unappealing to do either.But I know I need to do this. What are some things you all have done to keep your spirits up between jobs?

    1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

      Duolingo! Pick a language and try. Set the goal to whatever you find manageable, and get a tiny feeling of smugness as you see your points and completed modules rack up!

    2. regina phalange*

      When I was in between jobs, I did a lot of freelance writing. It didn’t pay a lot, but it was at least pocket cash, kept me busy, accountable, and less depressed. Especially because I was struggling very much with depression and what had happened at my last job. I vowed that I would workout and instead would drink wine in my pajamas. So I recommend NOT doing that part.

      1. Biff*

        Can I ask how you found gigs? One of the things I’d like to boost on my resume is my writing skills. They are considerable, but not something that was showcased in my last job.

    3. Girasol*

      If you’ve got downtime in your search and writing schedule, how about a fitness goal? Set something challenging but achievable so you can feel powerful and competent when you reach it.

    4. Turkletina*

      I’ve been driving for Lyft during my job search (never more than 2 hours/day, never at night). It forces me to get out of the house and talk to people, and it gives me practice talking to strangers and presenting myself in the best possible light, which I think has been useful for interviews.

      1. Biff*

        Good idea, but my car isn’t Lyft or Uber compliant. I’d thought about it! I like what you say about how it preps you to be better at small talk, though. That’s smart thinking.

        1. Turkletina*

          Oops, yeah, I’d meant to add a part about how it was only an option if you have a (new-ish) car. Sorry!

      2. Hallway Feline*

        This is a good idea! My car is just beyond the age for either company, but it’s low mileage enough. I’ll remember to join up when I get a newer car though! And good idea about the small talk aspect– I definitely struggle there! (Getting better since I’ve had to interview so many people though)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      One of the motivational things I tell myself is “it’s the choices we make when the chips are down that dictate how our future plays out”.
      How do you picture yourself in years to come? What can you do today to start working toward that?

      Looking at things from the opposite way, suppose you get a call tomorrow asking you to start work in the next 7-10 days. Are you ready? What would you need to do to be ready?

    6. Chaordic One*

      Although not particularly uplifting, I forced myself to do a lot of cleaning and decluttering in my house, as well as a lot of little odd jobs and home repairs. I donated a lot of junk to charity and sold a few things on eBay. I made sure that I sewed missing buttons on clothes that were nice, but not being used because they were missing buttons. I fixed a cracked window and repaired broken drawers in my kitchen. I detailed my cars.

      I told myself that I was going to have to move and that I needed to be ready to do so. I still haven’t found a job or moved, but I’m ready to go.

      1. Biff*

        Oh, I’m definitely getting through my backlog of piddly stuff to fix. I can appreciate that. I fortunately, don’t need to move.

  32. Rincat*

    I got a new job! I got a transfer/promotion to another department at my university. It’s a title change and an 11% pay increase, and I will be doing more of the work I want to do for some great bosses. It’s a brand new department and I’m the first person in this particular position, so I have a lot of freedom to really make this work the way I want to and set the tone. That’s a bit daunting in and of itself but I feel like I’m ready for that challenge. I start in February!

    Thank you Allison, and AAM community for all your advice and encouragement!!

  33. Zoe Karvounopsina*

    Hoarder co-worker’s manager has asked me to help clean hoarder co-worker’s desk. Eventually. Hoarder co-worker has apparently agreed, but we have not discussed it yet.

    Hoarder co-worker has also had the her autoreply saying she’s out of the office since November ‘so people won’t bother me’. Here since October: those boxes she was supposed to be sending to the archive.

    Her inefficiency drives me mad. So does her constant monologue.

    1. Temperance*

      Wait …. she’s there, but has an out of office? Exactly why does this person have a job?

      I would also refuse to clean up after someone else. That’s disgusting.

      1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

        She is, apparently, replying to emails. It is theoretically so external people won’t nag, but I feel like the same thing could be accomplished with a message saying ‘Hi, we’re under an end of year time crunch, but I will get back to you ASAP’. Admittedly, the problem with that is that at some time she will not be under an end of year time crunch, and people might notice.

        She has piles of paper, everywhere. It is driving her manager mad. She will not tidy on her own, (and I think she is an actual hoarder). I won the battle of the fridge in December, and I think it gave people ideas.

        Oh well. I have no give a fucks left about having my back to that DESK OF HORROR AND FOOD AND RANDOM DOLLS, and I think I have enough capital to hold me if she tries to retaliate.

        (She’s been there for twenty years. I’ve been there since July. I am still pretty sure of my capital, because both my and her managers arrived after I started)

        1. Username has gone missing*

          If she’s a hoarder she will just recreate the mess. Sudden forced clean-ups won’t solve the problem. She needs professional help.

          1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

            I wish we could get her professional help. But there are…many issues there, and a lot of institutional knowledge.

            1. Artemesia*

              So she is hoarding knowledge as well. Her manager deserves what he is going to get when she is gone one way or the other. The first thing you do when you have a knowledge hoarder who is also a problem employee is get that information one way or the other.

              No excuse for tolerating this or forcing a co-worker to be a janitor/maid for a peer.

              Hire additional janitorial help if needed.

          2. DoDah*

            Yep. My neighbor is a hoarder. About once a month (or so) her family comes over and literally fills a dumpster with what they throw out from her tiny one-bedroom apartment. The last time I was in her place, her cats were pooping on the floor (overflowing litterboxes) and the hall to her bedroom was blocked with boxes of stuff.

            I digress–but unless your co-worker gets help—you’ll be cleaning up after her until she retires.

    2. Karanda Baywood*

      OMG. You are being asked to clean out the desk of a person who still works there?

      NOPE. No way in hell. It’s not your responsibility.

      1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

        I am a departmental assistant, and I have previously taken on the responsibility of making sure we do not all die by filthy fridge. And my boss is very clear that I am only to agree if I think my work can handle it.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      What the hell? Can you refuse to help clean? Gross. Some random SVP in a different dept. tried to get me to clean out a bunch of cubicles in her area because they were moving and I just looked at her like she was nuts and said “no, there’s no reason your project managers can’t clean up after themselves” (project managers are entry level here).

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Her boss does understand that this will do nothing to solve the problem, right? She knows that she will only have to do it again, right?

    5. Artemesia*

      This is appalling unless she has been fired. To expect to provide maid service for a slovenly co-worker is beyond the pale. No co-worker should be put in this position. The willingness of managers to abuse good employees to avoid managing just makes me crazy when I read about it. Your boss is horrible.

  34. Applesauced*

    My company offers good health insurance – very low premiums plus a pretty generous stipend (FSA/HSA debit card) for medical expenses; it’s not the top of the line coverage, but for young healthy people it’s more than enough. My boyfriend and I compared our respective plans , realized we could save money if he joined my plan as a domestic partner, so I signed him up for a plan with a $125 monthly premium.

    Earlier this week, I checked my first paycheck of 2017, and there was an unexpected deduction for about $200, so I contacted payroll to find out what’s up. Welcome to the wonderful world of “imputed income” – the cost that the company pays for a DP’s insurance is treated as additional income to the employee, and that “income” is taxable.

    Which means it is actually going to cost us $525/month – the $125 premium PLUS the $400 in taxes. It’s over than FOUR TIMES what we expected!

    I attended an info session at the office, I spoke with HR in person SPECIFICALLY about adding a DP, and this imputed income tax was never mentioned. Why isn’t this explained in BIG BOLD letters when you sign up with a domestic partner?!

    We’ve been together for 5 years, and have abstractly talked about getting married, but this new wrinkle is making us talk seriously about running off to city hall now and figuring out a more formal wedding later. How romantic…

    1. Biff*

      Seriously — run off to city hall and just have a big shindig instead of a wedding. Don’t spend money on formal clothes, or renting a church or trying to nail down a special date. Just blow it all on booze, nibbles, and music. Regardless of when you do the wedding, that’s my advice.

      Also, I’ really sorry to hear about your bennies. That is crap and we all know it.

      1. Temperance*

        Eh, I’m going to disagree with your phrasing. I think she should do the paperwork now, have the wedding later. Have a fun blowout, but still do the actual wedding ceremony and say your vows and all that good stuff.

        I had to do something similar, and all the people with Very Strong Feelings about a “real wedding” were so darn obnoxious.

          1. Temperance*

            I don’t agree with this at all. I don’t feel that you need to broadcast that you signed some paperwork for insurance reasons / other boring reasons.

            I also disagree that signing paperwork is the “real wedding”. No one needs to know that, because frankly, the only people who care are the disapproving jerk sort who want to crow on and on about missing the “wedding”.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              It is considered very poor etiquette to have a wedding when you are already married (if you keep it a secret). I personally don’t give a crap either way, but the real etiquette mavens are pretty clear on this.

              1. Temperance*

                Plenty of etiquette rules are roundly ignored. I vote for ignoring this one as well, especially when people are going to be huge d-bags about it.

                1. Lily in NYC*

                  Unkind and unnecessary thing to write about people who don’t agree with you or might get upset about something that doesn’t bother you.

                2. Temperance*

                  People who take great offense at something someone else has done that has literally no impact on them whatsoever are d-bags.

                  People who have a different opinion but treat other people well are not d-bags. For instance, Trout Waver and I don’t agree, but I don’t think he/she is worthy of an insult for being a kind person with a differing opinion.

            2. Trout 'Waver*

              I put a lot of value in officially becoming a family in view of God and our state. It meant a lot to me to do so surrounded by my friends and family. It means a lot to me also to be the friends and family that’s there to support and cherish a new family being started.

              I totally understand that someone people get married months before for practical reasons. I’m totally cool with that, and it’s definitely the right way to go in many situations. I’ll still show up and enthusiastically celebrate your family if you have a wedding at a later date even if I wasn’t there the moment when your family was officially recognized.

              But lying to me about it for your own convenience so you don’t have to listen to a few boors leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Why invite your guests on false pretenses?

              1. Temperance*

                I largely have the same opinions about the importance of publicly affirming the union, although I honestly didn’t feel married until I had a wedding. I’m not even a little religious, so that wasn’t a factor for us.

                We really didn’t feel that it was “false pretenses”, because, to us, that moment was when we unified as a couple. It wasn’t about convenience, and we don’t feel that we lied.

              2. Overeducated*

                How is it lying? I had to get married on paper separately, a few days early, because my minister refused to act as an agent of the state for moral reasons. The wedding in front of my family, friends, and God was real in my eyes! You wouldn’t say I lied to the witnesses for the legal wedding because I didn’t have a priest there….

          2. Applesauced*

            Yeah, this is kind of where I fall. I went to a friend’s wedding and another friend got tipsy the night before and let slip to a small group of us that the bride and groom were already married (also for insurance purposes) I still went to the wedding and am happy for them, but felt a little bit misled.

      2. Applesauced*

        We’re probably do something in between – it’s still getting married, so I’d at least do a casual white dress and for flowers from the corner store at city hall, but then a second ceremony (renewal?) and party with friends and family.
        I’m torn on keeping the first wedding a secret, a) my mom works in benefits, so I asked her about this already, so she already knows, b) I don’t know if I could really keep it secret, and c) I mentioned downthread that I found out a friend was already married at her wedding and was a little annoyed.

        1. vpc*

          Don’t keep it a secret – just show up wearing your ring one day and when people ask, say you eloped, and the celebration will happen in a few months!

          Seriously. I think at least 50% of the friends who’ve gotten married recently have eloped – whether to the courthouse, or to a destination – in some cases with advance notice (“we’re eloping in June, please don’t be offended, no one’s invited except the court-required witnesses, but of course we’ll let you know when the reception is scheduled”) and others with less (“hey, how was your weekend? Great! We got married Friday afternoon! Stay tuned for a barbecue to celebrate our 1-year anniversary next summer!”) and no one, except in one case the mother of the bride – the primary reason the couple was eloping, they’d already tried to plan their wedding three times and she was so interfering they said heck with it and cancelled each before the plans got too far – was hurt, resentful, or annoyed. Mostly people will just be happy for you, and glad to celebrate when you do your shindig.

    2. Temperance*

      Booth and I did the Quaker self-uniting marriage license for insurance reasons, had our wedding later, and only like 3 people know that we did the license ahead of time. I didn’t tell anyone and asked him not to because I didn’t want anyone to get all self-righteous about us not having a “real” wedding, and demanding that we call our wedding a reception or party.

      Our wedding was when we said vows in front of people we cared about. Yours will be, too. We don’t even acknowledge the date that we signed the license and dropped it in the mail, because, well, it was paperwork and not a wedding.

      1. Murphy*

        I did something very similar. I was fired while I was engaged and for insurance reasons, we went to the courthouse and got married about 5 months before our wedding was supposed to take place. Our parents and close friends knew, but no one else. I totally agree that it was just paperwork. (And as an aside: ended up needing major surgery 3 weeks before the wedding, so good thing we did that!)

    3. Tris Prior*

      Yes, we got nailed with this too, though we didn’t really have a better choice at the time (pre-ACA) since I didn’t have insurance through my job.

      What killed me is that his company screwed this up and failed to take out the taxes on my insurance that he should’ve been paying all along. For four years…. :(

    4. Academia Escapee*

      My husband and I got married for purely financial reason (we love each other, but as we’re older and have both been married before, we would have been content to “live in sin” for the rest of our lives). I was the domestic partner on HIS insurance and that imputed income SUCKED. Once his divorce was final (I met him 2 years after he had moved out and it took another 2 years to make it final – long story), we got married mostly for the insurance issue (and to ensure there wouldn’t be any problems if one of us fell ill). Didn’t tell ANYONE because we were concerned his adult children would have issues and we didn’t want to deal with a wedding. So we hired a boat that took us to an island (a sandbar, really). Captain married us on the beach at sunset and we had a little picnic before going back. Now we have more money in our pockets and a nice little secret.

    5. Sophie Winston*

      Yup. This is why so few same sex partners took advantage of their partner’s health benefits before DOMA was repealed a couple years ago, even in states where they were legally married. As the marriage was not federally recognized, the value of the employer paid portion of the premiums was taxable at the federal level.

      But not at the state level, so add on the extra cost of preparing two sets of federal tax returns, the official unmarried set and the proforma married set to get the numbers used on the state forms.

      Sorry to get all bitter, but please take a moment to be grateful that $40 and a visit to the courthouse will solve a problem that same sex couples had to live with for decades.

      1. No Name Yet*

        Yup. My now-wife was actually on my health insurance for years, because otherwise she would have had no insurance at all. As grad students, those taxes were really really tough, since we were living on so little anyway. It’s still kind of astonishing to me that our taxes are now the same as our heterosexual married friends.

  35. Danae*

    Any suggestions on how to phrase an “It’s not you, it’s…actually it really is you” email when dropping out as a candidate for a job?

    I had a very promising phone interview yesterday for a job I would be very, very good at. Unfortunately, the job is based in LA, and a particularly awful part of LA to boot. (I live in Washington State, so this would be a big move.) Not just that, but they have an open office and I have a disability that makes it very stressful to attempt to deal with noise all day long.

    There is no chance that I will ever want to work for this company, and I feel like the feedback that their open office and no options for remote work is losing them qualified candidates might be useful for them to hear. I won’t send them anything unless they decide they’d like to move forward with me, but if they do I’m thinking of sending them something like “I’m sorry, but after doing further research on your company, I’m going to need to withdraw my candidacy. I need a quiet and non-distracting environment in order to do my best work, and in my experience open offices are really detrimental to my quality of work. Best of luck!”

    Thoughts? Is that diplomatic enough?

    1. Murphy*

      I don’t think you owe them an explanation, so you don’t even need to be that specific. Just say that you’ve decided that the job isn’t for you and you’re withdrawing.

      1. Michele*

        Yep. No need to go into details. What it is about LA, though? Many years ago I was job hunting and employer called me. When they said where the job was located, I told them I wasn’t interested. They asked why and I told them that I didn’t want to live or work in LA. They pressed for some reason. I asked the guy what his commute was, and he said it was two hours each way. I told him that was why.

        1. Audiophile*

          My cousin moved to LA, the Berkeley area, I believe. It looks pretty nice and I’m seriously jealous of then weather she gets to enjoy. I’ve heard San Diego and Oakland aren’t bad either.

          I once applied for a job at a nonprofit in CA. And made it past a phone interview, they wanted to do a Skype interview, at which point I pulled out. I had no quiet place to do that. And the idea of undertaking such a huge move (I’m in the suburbs of NY) was stressful.

            1. Audiophile*

              See I don’t know California at all lol.

              Let me clarify, she was in the LA area at a one point, then moved to Berkeley.

          1. insert name*

            Ha this reminds me of an east coast colleague who once referred to the “major cities in America: New York, Boston and California.”

          2. Hallway Feline*

            San Diego is a nice place, depending on where you are in the city. Downtown is crowded, hard to park at, etc. (as with most major cities), but the further away from downtown you go, you can get nicer areas and better commutes.

            But yes, LA and Berkeley are nowhere near each other. Neither are San Diego and LA for that matter.

      2. AnonAnalyst*

        Yeah, this is what I would do. If they come back and ask for more details, you could maybe say something like the environment doesn’t sound like it would be a fit for you and offer up some examples like the lack of remote work options. But honestly, unless you are a superstar candidate or it’s a job that’s very hard to hire for, they will probably just accept the high level note about withdrawing your candidacy.

    2. Biff*

      I agree with Murphy that you really owe them nothing. But if you feel like it would make sense for you to say something, for the sake of others, or your conscience, I’d say it like this:

      “Dear Vanilla Teapots,

      While I enjoyed talking to Prof. X, Wolverine, and Lady Marvel and felt that my gift for creating irresistible designs would find a good home among your design team, and I even loved your lavish, generous benefits package, I found myself consistently thinking back to the open office you’ve created. I’m introverted and I need quiet time to do the award winning work I advertised to you. And open office is frankly, a place where I would fail to perform. I really thought I could have swung it if there were work from home days. I could have focused on my designs while at home, in my studio, and focused on marketing, testing concerns, and materials while in the office. However, that’s not an option. I realise that both of us felt we had this in the bag, but if you hired me, I”d want to give you my very best effort. In this environment, I just can’t, and that would be unfair to you. I would like to withdraw my candidacy if we can’t come to a workable compromise.

      Thanks,

      Teapot Extraordinaire.”

    3. Helena*

      Since you have a disability, they would be legally required under the ADA to make reasonable accommodation. If you discussed that on the interview and they said “no accommodation” I would bring it up. Otherwise, I would assume they know the downsides of open offices and follow Murphy’s advice.

      1. Jesmlet*

        I’m pretty sure building new walls in their office doesn’t fall under reasonable accommodation, but if you were asking for an accommodation to wear ear buds or headphones to block out the noise, this would be a different story. At OldJob, we had a tech guy who had schizophrenia and he found playing music to be really helpful to block out any noise/auditory hallucinations.

        You can feel free to bring it up, but they’re certainly not going to change their office layout because of your opinion. It’s part of the cultural/environmental fit thing which is perfectly valid imo.

    4. Sunflower*

      I think less is definitely more in this situation. Just say you would like to withdraw your candidacy as relocating to LA is not an option for you. I guess you could add that remote work is important to you and you don’t work well in open offices but I would keep any of that focused on YOU, not on the company.

      I would not say anything about the open office or remote work otherwise. While I know open offices aren’t popular, there are some people who like that. I would especially not say anything about the remote work. It’s a pretty common fact that remote work is a perk and they’ve made the decision it’s not for them. It could make you come off as the type who knows the company better than they do. I’m not saying you’re wrong- just saying it could do more harm than good.

      And even though you may have decided you don’t want to work there, you never know where these people might end up. Or who they know. Seems there is everything to lose and nothing to gain by giving them your input.

      1. LA Anon*

        +1 to Sunflower

        I live in LA and work in an open office where we can’t work remotely…. and to be completely honest with you, the hiring manager is much more likely to think poorly of you than of their own office plan and lack of remote options. There are so many good candidates looking for work in this area and you never know who that particular hiring manager is connected to…not worth possibly getting your own name tarnished.

    5. Chaordic One*

      If you get an offer and need to turn it down I would just say something simple along the lines of:

      “After giving your generous offer considerable thought I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that I’m not a good match for the position. Thank you very much for your consideration.”

  36. Anon good nurse*

    So I’m in a strange (or at least previously unencountered) situation. I’ve been with my company for almost three months. It’s small start-up and one of the reasons that I joined was that there’s a lot of opportunity to cultivate processes and work with interesting clients. I really like the majority of my colleagues and generally really enjoy it. However, lately, this week things have been a little strange and I’m not sure how to handle it. This week, our boss called out on Monday and Tuesday unexpectedly. Called out is a loose term because he texted the new hire he’s meant to be training and maybe one other person but hasn’t responded to anyone else on the team via email, phone, or text. Then, in the following days, he’s been MIA. Yesterday it seemed that no one knew where he is. Today, one of the guys on my team mentioned that he knows and it’s a “weird” situation but he doesn’t know how much he can say. I gather that our gossipy tech guy had told him about it. On top of that, it’s been a strange week because my boss’ boss was traveling for work through Wednesday and then has been in and out of the office with clients the rest of the week. He’s said nothing to any of us when he has been here. In essence, there’s gossip rumbling periodically and I’m getting a little frustrated that we haven’t received so much as an indication of where we should direct certain necessary communication in my boss’ absence. He was maybe in a car accident (something that I overheard but can far from confirm) but I find it strange that if he were in the hospital or something, we wouldn’t simply be informed directly that he will not be in the office for the foreseeable future. Instead it’s a daily question: will boss be in? I’m planning on pulling my boss’ boss aside and asking him about a few items that my boss would typically handle because I’m not really sure what else to do.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      “Big Boss, I don’t wish to pry. But I would like to know what I should tell people who call asking for Direct Boss. If you could give me something to say, I would really appreciate that.”

    2. bluesboy*

      I think your plan is the best one. You don’t need to know why your boss is out, but have to assume it’s legit and if not, it’s boss’ boss’ job to deal with it. So you deal with YOUR job, and in his absence speak to the next most appropriate person. Which is your plan!

      I might just add a quick ‘how do you want me to handle these until Jeff comes back?’ to the conversation as Big Boss may well be handling extra work due to this and might be comfortable with you handling directly work that you would have normally looked at with the boss – and might even appreciate noticing that you can work independently if necessary.

  37. Collie*

    I know this has come up before, but can we discuss effective ways to write out achievement-oriented duties for resumes when your duties are just duties again? I’m trying to revamp my resume and I’m really struggling with this.

    1. Jesmlet*

      Most people’s jobs have a least something quantifiable about them. Even if they’re sitting at a desk answering phone calls, there’s always a certain number of calls or something like that. Have you implemented any improvements to the existing process? Reorganized filing so that it’s more efficient? It would be easier if we knew what your responsibilities were so we could suggest an area of focus.

      1. Collie*

        Unfortunately, I’m super low-level, so almost none of my suggestions have been implemented. There might be a few I can add, though…

    2. CAA*

      Can you give us some examples of the duties you’re trying to describe as achievements? Then we can give specific help.

      1. Collie*

        Sure. I do a mix of circulation and reference work in a small non-public library. I’ve thought about using circulation numbers, but really, it depends on where we are in the fiscal year and not on anything I’m doing that determines how many books are checked out or how many questions are asked, in the case of reference work. We’re so small, too, that I’m pretty sure the statistics I do have on reference interactions and such wouldn’t be impressive, anyway. Any ideas?

        1. AnotherLibrarian*

          Have you developed a new program? Maybe something with assessing your numbers? How about created a new policy? I think achievements are sometimes something like, “Created new method for answering teapot questions.” Just because there isn’t a number attached, doesn’t make it not an achievement.

          1. Collie*

            I’ve tried, but the place where I work is really stuck in their ways, so anything I have changed has been minimal personal preference stuff.

        2. Emac*

          What makes you good at your job? Are you really good at finding answers to questions quickly? Do you know all the regular patrons and what they like, so you can recommend books? And what kind of jobs are you applying for? That could help you figure out what to emphasize.