open thread – January 20-21, 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 :)

{ 1,322 comments… read them below }

  1. D*

    I really need some help today. I’ll explain my unique situation, in my department, we have a female director who is in charge of 5 male managers (2 of which were hired in 2016) who manage 3 levels of agents. My team is a new team we have only been in existence for 1 year, and 4 of us were hired originally 2 men 2 women. Because we are creating the job, our direct manager is the woman director, not the typical manager even though we are the lowest level of agents.
    When we were first hired our director always asked us to volunteer for whichever project arose, and each of us stepped up when we were interested. As time went on the director stopped asking us to volunteer and began assigning task, most of the time to the men only.
    Two member of the team decided to take different positions within the company, and two of us decided to stay to help the team grow. The empty spots were filled as expect however when our teammates left the duty division became blatant. My teammate is always the one emailed with details, or called into the office for updates, or assigned any project. Even if a project was mine originally he is the one that is asked to make a change or for information about my account even if he knows nothing about it. I have been ignored completely by our director for several weeks now. I know some may be concerned that my performance may not be up to par but I do just as well as my teammate.
    I’m horribly frustrated; I wanted to address my concern with the director during our monthly meeting hoping that it may be an oversite but due to the holidays we have been unable to meet, and the longer this goes on the more I feel that I shouldn’t address her directly. The typical procedure for situations like this with my company would be to go to her manager which is not an option due to our unique situation or to go to HR which is across the city. I have thought about going to one of the managers under her who I know fairly well, but I’m not sure what good it would do.
    I would appreciate any feedback or ideas about this situation, I am job hunting both internally and externally, but for now I need help.

    1. Jessie the First (or second)*

      “the longer this goes on the more I feel that I shouldn’t address her directly”

      No, it’s fine and good to go to her. I think it would backfire to bring it up to someone else before you have a chance to address it with her. I’d approach it by telling her you notice that she does not keep you in the loop, doesn’t give you updates, and doesn’t assign much to you, and that she goes to your teammate instead. And then ask if that is because she has concerns about your work, and what she’d like you to do things differently, because you really would like to be busy and involved and grow with the team.

      (I know you said there would not be problems with your work – but it is important to ask. If for no other reason than it makes you seem eager to do the right thing and proactive, and because there may be honest things you are not seeing.)

    2. College Career Counselor*

      Ask for a meeting with your director ASAP! Leave all the gender stuff out of it for the moment, but ask why this person is ignoring your role and not routing requests or information for your projects directly to you. Ask if there’s a concern about your work (maybe?) and how can you address it. It may not be performance-related at all, however. Sometimes, people just get into a habit of asking good ol’ so and so for answers (because it’s easier than remember who does what). Maybe that’s what’s going on.

      1. Artemesia*

        Yes. You want to approach it with an open mind and no hint of the perceived sexism (I believe you that that is what this is) The goal would be to walk out of the office with her general advice about advancement and some specific task or you will be assigned immediately or some specific report you will be asked to give about the projects. I want to do X. I think the team would run more smoothly and it work better for the company if I did X. is the tone to take. I have found even with real jerks that a sincere focus on self improvement and improving the work of the unit has the best chance of good results. If you accuse, even subtly, the manager of bad management and sexism, she will become defensive and need to hurt and discredit you to save face. What can we do to get me more active on ABC will have better results. At that point if nothing changes you need to think about going over her head and also about getting another job. I would in your situation have my eye open and my resume up to date. Sometimes doing that gives you an inner confidence when advocating for yourself. (not that you would ever hint at it to the boss)

    3. designbot*

      I would definitely bring it up with her directly first. Ask if there’s a reason that communication about your projects flows through your coworker. Listen to what she says, and depending on the flow of conversation, possibly explain that it gives off the perception that either she is avoiding you for some reason or that he has become your superior without anyone informing you. Chances are she’ll deny that either of those are the case, but you’ll have put the issue on her radar.
      Sidenote: I was expecting the male/female distinctions to lead somewhere. You mention them often so you seem to find them important, but from your story I can’t figure out why.

    4. Trout 'Waver*

      It doesn’t matter what her level is and what your level is. If you report to her directly, you can have these sorts of talks. I’d leave the gender stuff out of it, at least initially, and focus on requesting your own projects on par with your colleague.

      1. TL -*

        I think the op suspects that the woman director prefers to send work to men, not women (and yes, there’s probably some sexism in this at least) so the fact that it’s a woman could be relevant.

        But OP, women, even successful business women, can definitely be sexist too!

      2. LCL*

        Because when we are young and starry eyed, we expect female managers to be better, smarter, not sexist at all, and that they will go out of their way to make sure nobody gets preferential treatment. Eventually we learn that competence, and incompetence, comes in all colors of the rainbow. But yeah, it is irrevelant to solving this problem.

        What I get from reading OP’s post is a combination of disillusionment and disbelief. Much like how I felt when I faced this situation mumble years ago.

    5. I'm Okay, It's Okay, Everything's fine.*

      I wanted agree with all of the above, but to add that many people (most people… in fact, pretty much everyone) has inherent bias. She very likely doesn’t realize or recognize her bias and a lot of companies don’t train how to identify your own internal bias (I’m lucky that my company does!).

      If you approach her as others have stated, by having an honest and direct discussion about the issue, with a question about whether or not she has concerns about your performance, that should help solve your problem. If there is some issue that you are not aware of, that can be addressed and you will look proactive. If it is bias or she is just used to going to coworker for everything and not you, your approaching it this way should prompt her to consider why she goes to coworker and if she is a reasonable person, check her internal bias.

        1. Chaordic One*

          Back at Dysfunctional Teapots, Ltd. we had a special position created called, “Director of Diversity and Inclusion.” Among other things, she conducted 4-hour long workshops throughout the company and its branch offices about diversity in the workplace that included exercises designed to facilitate discussion about internal bias. I’m not really sure if opened anyone’s mind or made things any better, but at least they went through the motions, which is more than many employers.

    6. Zip Silver*

      Whether you speak to your director, I would just being up the fact that you haven’t been getting assignments. I wouldn’t mention the gender thing to her at this point. Approach it as if you’re asking about performance problems.

    7. Chaordic One*

      Yes, bring it up with your director in a private meeting in her office with just the two of you.

      If you bring it up during your monthly she will probably feel that you are trying to make her look bad in front of the whole group, so don’t do that.

      I don’t know how your director will react or what she will do, but your chances of getting the result you want are better if you let her know your concerns in private. And it probably best not to mention what you’ve noticed about how she treats people of different genders.

  2. StevieIsWondering*

    My job was intended to last for about year, but because I started part-time my supervisor and his supervisor approved extending it through the end of March. The funding is there. But they gave me notice this week that it will end in February because… the finance department doesn’t want to setup a retirement account for me and they would be obligated to if I were to cross the one-year threshold. Not sure if that is all there is to it, and yeah am feeling a little paranoid that there is more to it than that. I am terrified to not have income or health insurance, especially with the imminent dismantling of the ACA. I called my state’s Department of Labor and while I do qualify for unemployment benefits, I worry that HR would attempt to block my claim because the job was intended to be temporary, and that filing would somehow adversely affect my reputation and therefore reference checks. Any advice on how to handle this?

    1. NJ Anon*

      It may depend on what state you are in but even if the job was temporary, you should still be eligible for unemployment. It should not affect your reputation at all. Stuff happens.

    2. fposte*

      I’m willing to be corrected, but I’ve never heard of any employer exploring whether a candidate had received unemployment or caring about it. There’s a reason the technical name of the program is often “unemployment insurance”–it’s not like suing an employer; it’s receiving the insurance benefit you’re entitled to.

      I wouldn’t spend a lot of energy on whether they’ll contest unemployment or not. I doubt they will, given what you describe, but if they contest, just go ahead and file an appeal. At any decent-sized business, this is just bureaucratic stuff; it’s not personal.

      1. StevieIsWondering*

        My current HR person is responsive and generally kind, but at other places where I’ve worked HR was incompetent at best, including one employer denying my claim. I did appeal and did win, but it was a terrible and enervating process. Thank you both for the reassurance, though. Perhaps I am projecting from prior bad experiences.

        1. Observer*

          There is a difference between an employer blocking a claim, and actually checking if you’ve ever collected unemployment. Any employer who does that is so out there (and almost certainly dysfunctional) that it’s not the kind of place you should be grooming yourself for, anyway. So, the idea of this affecting your reputation is just not something you need to worry about.

          I’d be surprised if they contested your unemployment – they would need to show that you’d behaved egregiously, and they can’t do that here. Considering that the reason for cutting your employment short is because they don’t want extra work, I can’t imagine that they will want to take on the extra work of an unemployment response that will take documentation, and that they will lose.

      2. Natalie*

        I’m not even sure there’s a way to determine if someone is receiving unemployment. It’s not generally public information, is it?

        1. Clinical Social Worker*

          Some states require that the job that laid you off pay for it. So they would know.

          1. Natalie*

            Ah, I misunderstood the “reputation” issue as though prospective employers would find out independently of this employer telling them.

          2. AK*

            In my state the employer does get a notice, in case they want to contest the claim. Also, the state actually pays unemployment, but the number of claims factors into the rate the company pays the state in unemployment insurance premiums.

        2. AVP*

          Well, when someone files for it the business receives a letter – you usually have to confirm that the person did indeed work there and that you laid them off on the date they said, and there’s a box to check if you want to contest it or if there’s a problem with what the applicant reported.

          I’ve had people file for unemployment before where I had to check the “no” box – but I never thought badly of them because of it. I work with a lot of young freelancers who are confused about which jobs they should and shouldn’t list, but it’s a confusing system and you shouldn’t hold that against anyone.

      3. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

        Everything varies by state, but in the states I’ve worked:

        The amount your employer is charged per employee by state increases based on claims against the employer. So, an employer cares if you get unemployment and they get charged because it costs the employer money. (In a bizarre quirk, an employer can be charged for your unemployment if you leave voluntarily but then have a short stay at another company. The valid unemployment claim is charged to the employer with whom you had enough time worked, even though it wasn’t that employer’s “fault”).

        In both states I’ve worked (PA and NJ), an employer is notified of your claim and needs to respond. If there are an questions (on the state’s part) about the validity of the claim, a phone conference is held with unemployment, the former employee, and company representatives. The employer is always notified of the success of any claim and reasons for denials or penalties against the claimant (like the time we supported an employee’s claim because we were so glad to be rid of her and then found out she got herself a six week penalty because she told the truth about her rageful insubordination that caused her to be fired.) That felt a piece of justice to us, but it wasn’t on our heads.

    3. Xarcady*

      In most states, you can file for unemployment when you are let go from a temporary job. I’m currently temping through a temp agency, and when there is no work for me, I collect unemployment.

      I don’t see how filing for unemployment could affect your reputation. In most cases, the people who you would ask to be references would have no way of knowing that you filed or not, unless you told them. Or unless the HR department told them, but there really isn’t any reason for them to do that.

      And if a future employer thinks collecting unemployment disqualifies you, that says more about them than it does about you. Many, many people collect unemployment after layoffs, while they are trying to find new jobs. It’s perfectly normal.

      1. Artemesia*

        Yes collecting unemployment has no impact on your reputation; being unemployed does. But being able to say ‘I just finished a contract job’ is better than I was fired. Being let go when a contract runs out is standard stuff.

      2. Liane*

        Temporary jobs are approved for unemployment pay in most, if not all, states I believe. When I was scoring essay exams each project was a separate temp job even though it was through the same employer and we might only have a few days between projects. At the end of each project, we would be encouraged to file for unemployment if we weren’t going on to a project that was starting within a week (the state’s waiting period for UI).

    4. mskyle*

      Unemployment is absolutely *intended* to cover for the end of temporary assignments. Plenty of companies lay off workers seasonally, for example, and the workers can collect unemployment during the off-season.

      The retirement rationale is a little weird, though – I’ve worked places that had similar rules, and I just got laid off and rehired every year (this was for part-time work… I would have been annoyed if it was my main gig!).

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        The Feds have cracked down on some of those tricks to pretend that permanent employees are temporary.

    5. LQ*

      I would be shocked if it adversely impacted your reputation!

      Even at places that go out and try to block 100% of claims (which they don’t have control over, that’s about the law, not what the employer decides) I’ve not heard of them getting upset or trying to malign people who apply for benefits.


    6. Ann Cognito*

      I work in HR and whether a candidate we want to hire may have applied for unemployment is not something that even enters our heads!

      The only former employees we might take a second to mention for having filed for unemployment are those who resigned and then filed for unemployment, but even then it’s in a “roll your eyes” type of way, because we now have to respond to the dept of unemployment’s letter, letting them know the (former) employee resigned and wasn’t terminated.

      If someone’s job was eliminated, then it’s not even a blip on our radar; the person is entitled to file for unemployment, and we don’t even respond to the letter from the dept of unemployment (which in CA shows that the employer is not disputing the fact that the former employee has filed).

    7. CEMgr*

      I’d just file for unemployment as is your right, and answer all the questions truthfully. Let the UI people figure out whether you’re entitled or not – it’s their job. There’s no expectation that you should prejudge your own eligibility. (After all, you probably haven’t studied the state UI program regulations in detail, right?)

  3. Grateful Anon*

    Thank you to everyone who responded to me a few weeks ago about being at the end of my rope with my job. I really appreciated all the advice and comments.

    I am now going to seriously consider leaving even without another job ready for me. It is not something I will decide lightly; I will engage in discussions with family, roommates, and friends before deciding, but I felt a weight lifted just from the thought that I could do it. It has been drilled into my head that it’s the worst thing ever and to have people tell me it’s alright to do it made me feel so much better.

    My job has definitely been affecting me mentally and physically. It has left me so exhausted that it’s hard to put energy into the things I truly care about, like my hobbies and friends and family. When I get home in the evenings, I just want to shut myself off from the world because I’m so frustrated and angry with the people I’ve had to deal with all day. It is even hard to fake a good attitude at work that I worry I’m damaging future references (my boss and I have gone from being on very friendly terms to both being a bit passive aggressive towards each other). And it’s made me so desperate for a new job that every application rejection feels like the end of the world, because it means returning to another day with my awful employment.

    If I don’t luck out with a new job in a few months, I think this is going to be something serious to consider. Every week things continue to go downhill in terms of my relationships with my coworkers/supervisors, my patience for all the stuff I have to put up with, my quality of work since my mental health and positive attitude have taken a dive, everything. I’m not trying to be negative, I have done everything I can to turn things around, but this is a sinking ship that can’t be stopped. If I’d had my way, I would have been gone a year ago. So I’m honestly surprised I’ve been able to last a whole extra year as intact as I am (things I’ve told friends and family, they’ve been urging me to get out, even without a job offer, for over a year now).

    TLDR here is my question for if I leave my current job without moving onto a new job: what do I tell my boss and coworkers? To give a vague answer of going back to school would not work since several people in my office go to school part time (very nice that the favorites of the boss get to study and write papers instead of work but I get questioned if my bathroom break is too long). So I’m not sure what excuse to give, even if schooling or at least certification is in my future. And when I am interviewing, especially if the search goes long, what do I tell employers who ask why I left with nothing else to go to? Should I tell the truth, that the job was extremely negative to my health, or something a little more vague?

    Thank you again for all the assistance, it means more to me than you guys will ever know. I feel more empowered and less lonely than I have in months.

    1. Mary Bary*

      I wish you the best of luck! I was in a similar suggestion to you a while back, and my mental health also spiralled downwards due to a bad job.

      I’d say just give vague answers as to both where you are heading (Oh I am sent out some applications. Oh I probably heading back for further education…) and why you left. No point in complaining about the job to people who shall soon not matter in your lives. You MIGHT just need one of them for a reference, and it will be safer to not let him or her know out right your feelings about your old job.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I went with “I will probably go back to school.” If pressed about this, I just said I was considering options. I eventually did go back and finish my degree, but that plan was not solidified until months later.

    2. Someone*

      Take a little time before the next job to: spend more time with your family, rethink the direction of your career, research training/education options, pursue a hobby you are interested in.

      As for new employers, by the time you get there, you will have the benefit of hindsight. More vague, and more positive about what you learned in the meantime. It wasn’t a good fit and the time off has given you perspective about your priorities/helped you learn how to handle stress better/etc.

    3. AshK434*

      I’ve been in your situation and it’s the worst. I’m sorry you’re going through this. In my experience, vague answers work fine. For your coworkers and manager, you can say you’re just taking some time off. Full stop.

      Interviews are tricky but I hate bringing up negative things. For that, maybe you could go with Alison’s advice that you had to leave the job for now resolved health issues (which isn’t really a lie since you are leaving to improve your mental health).

    4. designbot*

      Don’t make excuses! Tell the truth, but do so without assigning blame. If it’s the hours that didn’t work for you, if you were overworked, if clashes with coworkers distracted from the work and left you drained, that’s all stuff they need to know.

    5. IT_Guy*

      If they do ask, just say “I am taking a sabbatical to give me space to give me time to focus on my next priority”

    6. NK*

      I didn’t see your post last week so I don’t know all the context; but regardless, you don’t need an “excuse”. You’re allowed to leave your job whenever you want, for any reason. In your case I would simply say you want to take your career in a different direction, and want to take some time to refocus and have time to dedicate to a job search that you weren’t able to do while working full-time. Just be careful that if you give notice and people know you don’t have an external timeline (i.e. a start date for another job), they may try to talk you into extending your notice period. Hold firm on this!

      1. Trillian*

        As a PS, you proposed to discuss with family, roommates, friends … You don’t need to discuss your leaving with anyone who will not be directly affected by your interruption in income and your being at home more. Out of the best of intentions, people may try and talk you into staying. If you’re going to talk to people, pick the ones who accept your right to take risks. But you don’t need anyone’s approval.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        There you go, OP, you can say, “I wanted to move my career in a different direction.”

        Which is true, you decided not to work in a toxic waste dump.

    7. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

      I was in very similar position to you – I think I might have responded to your original post. I put in my notice at my highly toxic job before having anything lined up (I put in six weeks of notice and then went into job searching hyper drive). I can tell you what seemed to work for me:

      – For the current company on why I was leaving: I emphasized fit – saying that I didn’t feel that I was the right fit for the role and the department, and then I was very vague about where I was within the job search process. I believe that I indicated that I was far along within the process at several places so that’s why I was giving a specific resignation date.
      – For interviews with potential new companies: When interviewing while within my notice period I did not tell companies that I had already given notice to my current company (I was technically still employed). I just spoke to the fit issues and then if it was asked directly I told them that my current company was aware that I was planning to move on. I only had a couple of interviews after my notice period had ended and I officially left. With those I remained vague and just said that I seemed to be having good luck in my job search and that I was looking forward to a bit of downtime before diving into a new role.

    8. dawbs*

      This is always hard–I left mine just over a year ago w/o something else lined up (and I am still unemployed–but I”m in a position to be picky and I’m picky.)

      I gave a (mostly) accurate reason that had to do with family schedule/childcare needs. Reasons that have to do with ‘finding yourself’/’family needs’ can be gussied up professionally.
      “My family and my health (<truth. mental health) are requiring a lot of my time and effort. I find that I'm not able to give this job and my clients the time and effort they require while still meeting my family obligations, so my last day will be February 14."

      And then when it comes to the new job, at interviews (which have been pretty successful), I've been able to honestly say something like "I found that the company was moving in a direction I wasn't comfortable; I wasn't able to balance the schedule & needs of my family with the increasingly challenging to meet job requirements"

      Good luck!

    9. Bonky*

      I moved on from a toxic job when I was in my 20s, with nowhere to go to (I freelanced, and things worked out brilliantly in the end; I got great experience, built a great network, and I ended up founding a very successful business ). I have to admit, I did not handle handing in my notice well: the manager who’d been causing a lot of the distress was as I’d expected her to be in the meeting, and I cried. I cried because I was angry and I was even angrier with myself for doing so.

      I went with a fairly nebulous “I want to take my career in other directions”. It all worked out fine in the end; I used a different manager for references, and it was a great, although scary, move.

      Good luck. I hope things go well for you.

      1. AnotherAnony*

        How long did it take for you to ‘get over’ the anger? I was in a really toxic place and left, but still feel resentment, bitterness,and a lot of anger. I feel humiliated by my bosses and then feel angry at myself because while I’m not perfect, they behaved in horrible ways and they won’t be punished for it. My boss said the most awful things to me and was outright abusive. I’m happy to be out, but feel almost PTSD from it.

        1. Grateful Anon*

          I think this will be me when I leave. I’ve been fine at my Toxic Job for a few years now, not very happy but tolerable, searching for new work but not anxious. Any frustration I felt was easily let go of or reasoned away, and I was able to keep my head straight.

          The last few months, things have changed and it has just become unbearable. Now every little thing that was a minor annoyance is an immense cause of anger, all small disturbances feel like out right slanders. Describing it to a friend, she had the perfect analogy: it’s an open wound; once there, it cannot be ignored and all those little things cause immense pain.

          So I definitely understand feeling that way, and have wondered if getting out will help my thoughts about my coworkers or if I’ll just be angry at them forever.

        2. YOLO*

          It took me about 6 months to get over the anger – both directed towards the people in power and towards myself. I’ve been out of my dysfunctional office for almost a year now, and I was surprised the other day when I found myself thinking of it all again. I realized I was triggered by a LinkedIn update indicating that one of my former teammates had been let go. From talking with coworkers who escaped before I did, 6-7 months was about the norm.

    10. Kristin*

      I just said I was leaving mine to freelance. Not sure if this will work for you depending on your field.

    11. Freya UK*

      I’m glad you’re feeling more in control now – it’s really freeing when you realise you can just walk and no one can stop you, isn’t it?

      I walked out of ToxicJob last spring with nothing to go to and taking some time out before looking for a new job was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Maybe things are different where you are but you don’t owe an employer an explaination for leaving under any circumstances, but if you want to give one, tell the truth or make something up, doesn’t really matter! When I was interviewing for new jobs I did get asked why I left without something else lined up and I just said I had wanted to take some time out and had ensured I was in a position to do so, so I did. If they wouldn’t have liked that then they wouldn’t be the employer for me anyway *shrug* I got the second job I interviewed for (the first one they gave to an internal candidate so no biggie).

      Good Luck, I’m rooting for you!

  4. Cath in Canada*

    I have an office gift etiquette / book writing etiquette combo question!

    I have a book coming out in a few weeks – yay! It’s non-fiction, and the topic is directly related to some of the research projects I work on (the book is introductory, so it’s broad but shallow, whereas the research projects are obviously much more narrowly focused and specialized, but in the same field). I did 100% of the writing and editing on my own time and resources, but I wouldn’t have specialized in this field enough to be able to write the book if I hadn’t worked on these projects, so it can never be entirely separate from work.

    I’d like to give each of the three professors who run these projects a copy of the book. This feels like it would be an exception to the “gifts flow downward” rule – is that right? They’re all above me in the hierarchy, although I only have a direct reporting relationship with one of them (my great-great-great-grandboss) and it’s a very informal, friendly organization. I’ve had group beers and/or dinners with all of them at conferences and such.

    I’d also like to give my boss and grandboss a copy as they’ve been very supportive. Again, this feels like an exception to the usual rule, but maybe not as clear cut?

    All potential recipients are mentioned by name in the book’s acknowledgements, if that makes a difference.

    Supplementary book signing etiquette question! Is it tacky to give someone a book that’s already signed, or should I wait until they ask? (This is for the people mentioned above plus past mentors I no longer work with. One of them is overseas so I’ll sign and ship, but I’d like to give the rest away in person, although the chances of finding anyone actually in their office at any given time are slim and I might have to leave the book on their desk with a note).

    Happy to hear any other advice on the intersection between book writing and office etiquette, too! I’m sure there are things I haven’t even thought of yet. Oh, and I need to practice my signature…

    1. Namast'ay In Bed*

      I feel like if you included a personal note on the inside of the book it would be fine! Something like thanking them for all their support, how their help helped you achieve this, etc. Just the signature might be weird, but if you write a note along with it, you’d be fine!

      Ps – congrats on your achievement!

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        +1. This is an exception to the rule. Write a personal note inside the front cover detailing what you’ve written here. I’m sure they will be very appreciative.

        And, congrats on completing your book!

    2. Yes!*

      I totally think you’re good to give everyone you’ve mentioned the book, and I think they’d all love it.

      Especially for these people, I’d write a short note that you wouldn’t mind others reading and sign that in the book. Something like, “Thank you for all your help with this project. I couldn’t have done it without you —/s/” That’s not tacky at all, and it makes the book even more special.

      If you’re giving to some random person in the office, I’m not sure if I’d sign it or write a note or anything in it.

    3. Morning Glory*

      I personally see this as different from the gifts flow downward rule, because the book is related to your work, and it’s also a bit more like promoting yourself than giving from generosity or holiday obligation (not that this is a bad thing at all in this situation). Many people give free copies of recently published or about-to-be published books to people in the industry, or book reviewers, or people who contributed in some way toward the book.

      As for the signing – I think a short, personalized note inside the book to each one with your signature at the end makes the most sense and would not come across as tacky.

    4. Cora*

      I think it is an excellent ideas to give out copies of our book, especially since it is a professional piece.

      On top of that, it is a better idea to address each book to the recipient, add a small line customized for them (like; thank you for the opportunity to work on X), and then sign below.

      This seems to fall out of what would be considered a gift – as gifts are usually purchased from a store whereas this is your own written work and will likely be of interest to them.

    5. BethRA*

      I’m no Miss Manners, but to me this would be a very appropriate exception to the “gift flow downward” guideline. If you were talking about someone who helped with the book, but didn’t have a work connection, you’d still give them the book, right?

      I would also think a personalized note of thanks in each is the exact opposite of tacky. YThink of it as a larger, more substantial thank you note rather than an autograph.

    6. fposte*

      Absolutely fine to give this gift. (And I’m looking forward to my pre-order coming through :-).)

      When you say “already signed,” do you mean just a signature? Because I wouldn’t do just a signature–you’re giving this book to commemorate and thank their example and leadership and wonderfulness, and that should be stated in your note. But it’s fine to write that ahead of time–you’re not in a signing line trying to find out who it’s a gift for.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        This is what I came here to say. If you just sign it and don’t include a note, it will come across as a little self-important, I think. But if you include a personal note, that would be lovely and appreciated.

        1. Gene*

          Yeah, inscribed rather than signed. However, inscribed copies generally have a slightly lower value on the collectors’ market than a signed copy (unless the inscription is to someone famous or notorious).

            1. Artemesia*

              LOL I remember the first book I wrote where I used an epigraph from a science author and didn’t realize that epigraphs did not follow the copyright rules for quotes. That meant I had to pay $500 to use those few lines in this academic book but it was in galleys by the time I learned this so it was staying. When I got the contract to pay for the quote it had a clause that if it were selected by Book of the Month Club or by Oprah to feature in her book club, the cost would go up to some high number. I laughed and laughed and laughed.

    7. Pup Seal*

      I’m not sure if this is the correct etiquette, but I used to intern at a small book press. Usually we had the authors sign a few copies of their books and then sell them. One of the authors waited to be asked before signing copies (I had to ask him to sign my copy). Another author offered to sign whenever someone purchased a copy during book fairs. In your case, I think writing a personal note to them would be fine.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I like when they wait to be asked. I don’t collect autographs, and when I purchase a book directly from the author, I kind of feel bad saying, “No, I don’t need you to sign my book; I just wanted to tell you how much I like your stuff.” I feel as though it sounds like, “No I don’t care about you enough to get an autograph!!!!”

        If they insist, I don’t stop them but it’s awkward; I just say thank you. I got around it when I met Clive Barker by showing up empty-handed, LOL.

    8. Cath in Canada*

      Fab, thanks everyone! I knew there was a chance* I was overthinking things :)

      I’ll write some personalized notes in advance for the people mentioned above – far better than trying to come up with anything on the fly – but will wait until asked before I sign a book for anyone else.

      I’m both British AND Canadian; self-promotion really doesn’t come naturally to me!


    9. Artemesia*

      You are sure that you have not published anything that flows from the projects you worked on with them. i.e. there is no reporting on the research or use of the data or anything like that. I only mention it because this can be a catastrophic disaster. No one can publish out of a project without permission of the project lead. This is a giant big deal in academia. I have seen careers destroyed over this. If this is not obvious then it doesn’t hurt to thank them for sparking your interest in doing further reading about the topic and writing the book.

      The gift thing is irrelevant. If you think the books would be welcome then give them a signed copy letting them know how much you appreciated working with them and how that has inspired you to do further study of the role of teapot manufacture in the American Revolution or whatever. i.e. you aren’t ‘signing them’ at their request, you sign them with your thankful note as part of the gift. A book is not a gift in the same sense that almost anything else would be when you have written it.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        Definitely not. First thing I thought of. Everything mentioned in the book is already published. I mentioned an international consortium that I’m part of in one chapter, and got one of the professors plus the head of the consortium exec to review it before I included it.

        1. Artemesia*

          Oh then you are totally covered. It was wise to get that input even though you are not using their material. I only mention it as I have seen it happen and it was grim. One junior professor published material that he had researched BEFORE he joined the senior researcher’s team and at another institution. The big name still did everything in his power, which was considerable, to destroy him for publishing material big shot thought he owned because little shot worked for him. This is one of those crazy making aspects of academia.

          Congratulations on the book and I am sure they will be delighted to get copies with your appreciate note.

          1. Cath in Canada*

            Thanks :)

            I had a hard time deciding when to tell people at work about the book – I needed to be sure they were OK with it, but also didn’t want any of my minor every-day slip-ups (forgotten attachments and the like) being attributed to focusing on the book and not on the job that actually pays my mortgage. (People can be weird about writing in a way they’re not about other hobbies/side hustles – some friends of mine who work in academia and also write on the side have had some issues with this). So I waited until I was more than halfway through the first draft before telling the most relevant people. Seemed to work, and everyone’s been super supportive so far. I’m very lucky to work with extremely sane, reasonable, and nice academics!

    10. justsomeone*

      “All potential recipients are mentioned by name in the book’s acknowledgements, if that makes a difference.”

      If they’re all in the acknowledgments, then I think traditionally in publishing you’d give them a copy anyway, even if they weren’t your colleagues. And I agree with commenters above, signing it with a personal note of thanks is the way to go.

    11. Overeducated*

      I hope you might post a link to the book here when it’s out, under a throwaway handle if you want! From what I remember reading, it sounds cool.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I think if they’re in the acknowledgments, it is fine to give them a copy. I like the suggestions of a personal note too; just a signature is more “autograph-y” and seems less sincere.

      Congratulations! I hope to have this problem someday soon. ;D

    13. notgiven*

      My husband did some work on an author’s property and he had met him a few times but a relative was handing the coordination and hiring of the subcontractors and over seeing the work.

      My husband wanted to buy one of the books and asked the relative about it. When it was delivered, it had a personal inscription by the author. He didn’t expect it would even be signed. It meant a whole lot to him because he had a lot of respect for the author.

    14. stevenz*

      Yep, sign it, personalize it (“Dear Professor King,” “Thank you for your support, etc.”, and give them all one. They will be appreciative and compliment you on your achievement. If you worked with them on what you wrote about, they’ll be thrilled and flattered. And be proud of yourself.

  5. New Contract Worker*

    Hi guys! I recently changed a job. Because of some complicated political issue regarding residency, my job is now a yearly contract (with a limit of a maximum of 4 years). I was a permanent staff in my previous job, so I had no experience with this kind of career outlook, so would love some advice on how I should deal with the next 4 year countdown:
    1. Should I be pretty much on the lookout for my next job constantly now? I learned a hard lesson last time that job hunting in my particular field can take upwards of 6 months or much more.
    2. When should I start sending out resumes? Say 2 years of working later? Or should I even send it 6 months later, considering they might terminate my contract after 1 year if they needed? Will that make me seem like a job hopper?
    Thanks! Will appreciate any advice!
    I read some previous advice that contract jobs might lead to permanent postings if you prove yourself, but considering the HR department had informed me explicitly that the maximum is 4 years, I think it will be safer for me to plan my life as if 4 years is a definite deadline.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      If you successfully complete a contract, that doesn’t paint you as a job hunter. Just make sure to point out it was as contract position on your resume and nobody will think twice about a shorter stint than average.

    2. NewsPup*

      I’m wrapping up a two-year contract now so I have a bit of insight, though of course every industry is different and I’m absolutely not an expert. I kept an eye on opportunities that I’m very interested in throughout my time here, but I wouldn’t suggest that. My industry has a quick hiring process so I mostly just got sad I couldn’t have jobs. If you think hiring will take longer, look at dream jobs when the window of employment opens and apply to things sparingly. No need to be blanketing your whole industry if you’re OK with staying on your contract for another year. Good luck!

  6. Cute Bear*

    Is it giving off the wrong impression if you request for new computer equipment when you just joined a new office?
    I recently joined a new company.
    Because of my previous experience and interest in illustration, I was tasked with photoshopping a huge drawing. I had been given an old macbook to handle this, but ended up struggling for a whole afternoon trying to open the huge original file, do some changes, having the computer tell me my scratch disk was full. Basically I wasted an afternoon.
    I had been given a three day deadline to finish the drawing. I felt there was no way for me to finish the drawing at this rate. I negotiated with my boss to let me telecommute and use my home computer to finish the job instead (which it did so smoothly and with barely any appearance of the progress bar).

    From what I can see in some upcoming task allocation, it seems like my boss will probably be giving me more of such tasks in the future.

    How should I handle such requests? Should I attempt to negotiate for a hardware upgrade? Would that send all the wrong signals about me in this new job? Or should I stick to my telecommuting arrangement?

    Just to give some more detail: I have an iMac at home so I can’t bring the computer with me to work. I am currently not financially able to buy a new laptop on my own dime.

    1. Troutwaxer*

      If your boss seems reasonable and has seen the problem happening I don’t see a problem with the request. You could even lampshade it a little, “I know this is an unusual request for someone who has just joined the company, but this computer is much too old to do the kind of work you’ve tasked me with…” The computer you need might even be sitting in a closet in the IT dept.

      Also, are there possibly some cheaper routes to improving your situation, like getting more memory for the computer? If the machine is going into swap mode (using hard drive space as memory) it will slow down terribly as it does so. Your IT dept might have the right kind of memory, or it might be available on Ebay very cheaply, so that’s an alternate route for you.

    2. Morning Glory*

      Ooh, I think this depends a lot on the workplace. I know in my office, it would be the easiest thing in the world in this case, because you need it to do your job – just submit a form with justification, get your manager to sign off on it, and presto.

      Other organizations, it may seem like you’re asking for a kidney. Do you like your telecommuting arrangement, or would you prefer to get what you needed done at the office? Definitely don’t buy it with your own money though.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I would say the opposite, in fact—it’s bad form to deal with the inadequate equipment for a long time and then suddenly say that you need an upgrade to do your job, when you’ve been doing your job the whole time.

      Right now is the time to speak up, believe me (I work in IT at my org).

      1. Natalie*

        Excellent point. Also, since you’re new, better to alert them that you’re having issues with the equipment rather than just being, say, a slow worker.

      2. Liz2*

        Agreed, being new everyone is already yin the “onboarding mode” so specializing your workspace is a given. Harder to make changes once you settle.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      I don’t think it’s sending the wrong signal. Obviously this is a need, not a want. I’d tell the boss “Since my current Macbook isn’t sufficient to work on this type of project, when another one needs to be done, would you prefer I work from home again and use my own equipment? Or do you think it would be a better idea to upgrade my computer here to one that can handle it?”

      1. Jessie the First (or second)*

        I like this framing of it – because it assumes that *something* has to be done, and look at you, OP, being proactive about naming the solutions. :-)

      2. Artemesia*

        This is too timid. It sends the wrong signal and also suggests that the OP should be responsible for providing her own equipment. A solid professional expects to have the tools she needs to get the job done. I have watched this in office — where people limp along for years without the tools they need and new guy is hired (usually new GUY) and immediately he makes clear the work can’t get done without the tools and he gets them. It sends the entirely wrong message to not expect and obtain tools you need to do your work. It makes you look timid and incompetent to stumble along with junk equipment because you hesitate to ask for what you need.

        Professionals expect professional tools to do their job.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          It makes you look timid and incompetent to stumble along with junk equipment because you hesitate to ask for what you need.

          Right, which is why I didn’t suggest that.

          1. Artemesia*

            Suggesting working from home with your own equipment is to roll over immediately. It comes across to me as timid and not sufficiently assertive about the need for the business to provide appropriate work tools. YMMV. This script in fact volunteers to solve the problem by providing the equipment rather than expecting the business to do so.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              (shrug) It depends on the business, and the amount of Photoshop work CuteBear plans to be doing. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if a smaller business that doesn’t have the budget for a new computer (and a new Photoshop subscription to go with it, most likely) balks at buying all of that for someone who’s going to be doing the occasional graphics project. And under those circumstances, since they’re likely to say “nah, work with what you’ve got,” I think it’s a good idea to present them with two alternatives, neither of which is work with what I’ve got. But if they’ve got the resources and you have reason to believe they’ll be willing to part with them, then yeah, ask for the new computer and software.

    5. Em too*

      Just ask! You aren’t employed to watch progress bars.

      It’s not really normal to expect you to have to provide your own computer, but since you did that last time you’ll want to be clear why that doesn’t work for you. But it should be completely drama-free – check you’re right that there’s more of this coming up, and ask him how you can get hold of a computer that can handle the work.

      1. Junior Partner (Law Firm)*

        Or it might work for you, if you don’t mind working from home. But I would present that as your fallback option — ask for a new computer, and explain why you need to do it that way if they don’t get you a new computer.

    6. Rachel*

      I say ask away! It’s not unreasonable to request the equipment you’ll need in order to be able to do your job.

    7. Trout 'Waver*

      There is no better time to ask for new equipment than when you start. Especially if it’s a new role, which it seems like this is. Point out what you said here. If they give you a task, they also need to give you the tools necessary to complete the task.

    8. Artemesia*

      There is no better time to ask for what you need than beginning a job. If you will be doing this kind of work often you need to immediately sit down with your superior and discuss the equipment you need to do this work. Note that you were unable to complete the task by deadline on the machine you were given and need (have detailed specs for what you need) and ask wht the process is for obtaining this. You do not want to get in the habit of using your own personal equipment for business work. Often people who don’t do this type work have no idea what is needed. You are the new expert and you need to assert your expertise. What kind of impression will it make if you are limping along not able to deliver?

    9. Jadelyn*

      Think of it this way – it’s not about *you* wanting new equipment. It’s about *the tasks you’re being given* requiring better equipment to be performed on.

      I requested and got a new computer and a second monitor about six months into my current job, and I was even a temp at the time – because I was still on an ancient computer that was literally running Windows XP (this was in 2014!) and had a single tiny monitor for a ton of spreadsheet-related and side-by-side work. So I went to the VP and said “if you want me to do XYZ tasks for you, I need you to request a new computer from IT, and if they’ve got an extra monitor anywhere I need that too. I also need to make sure I have Publisher on my machine and a license for Acrobat full, not just Reader.” I laid out why and how much faster it would be for me to complete special projects for him on a newer machine and what I could do with that software that I was struggling to do without it, and a couple weeks later IT had a new computer for me.

      And, after I demonstrated how useful two monitors are, my entire 6-person team now have dual-monitor setups and everyone loves them, lol.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Echoing this. Granted I came into my job at a time my new boss was making many changes. I am a cautious person and I also can work with minimal things. But I asked for some well chosen things. As you did right here, OP, I explained the reasons why. This is super important to explain why. The boss has to explain a big expenditure to his higher ups. If you lay out that explanation for him, that is a big worry off his mind. He can focus on making the request and procuring what is needed.

        BTW. It’s not a want. It’s a need.

    10. LQ*

      Ask for a new one! I struggled with an older computer for a long time because I was afraid (unreasonably!) that my boss would balk at it. He actually asked why I hadn’t spoken up sooner and put a rush on it once I brought it up! Especially when I mentioned how much time I was spending to just fight with the machine and not get actual work done. Ask. Buying a computer is likely way cheaper than your wasted time. Way way cheaper.

    11. BizzieLizzie*

      Asking once and explaining is good!

      But if there are policy reasons why you can’t have a new one – then explain the impact, but don’t keep pushing.

      1. E*

        If there isn’t room in the budget for the equipment, the alternative would be that you work from home for these tasks, but I wouldn’t offer that up too much unless you want this, as I know there can be potential issues with having work product on a home computer.

    12. Generation Catalano*

      If you need it, you need it now. You should not have to pay or use your own equipment.

    13. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Since you already had to make alternate arrangement to complete that task just mention to your boss that you took a look at the upcoming projects and that you noticed there were more photoshop heavy projects coming up. Remind him/her of the issue you had and ask what he feels is the best course of action- telecommute vs an upgrade. Shouldn’t be a big deal if they want the projects to get done.

      1. TL -*

        I wouldn’t offer to telecommute without at least being reimbursed for wear and tear on the machine. That’s a lot of computing to put your computer thru and presumably a lot of memory as well.
        I wore out my laptop with my personal photo projects in less than two years; I have a much nicer desktop now but for the money I paid, it needs to last as long as it can.

    14. Cute Bear*

      OMG so many replies! Thank you so much guys! I’ll definitely take proactive steps to request for a new equipment! I am so glad to see that it seems to be the reasonable thing to do (I had been so scared to make waves in a new work enviornment)

    15. Marisol*

      I don’t see this as an asking thing. I see this as letting the boss know what you’re able to do with the resources you currently have. So lets say using this clunky old mac means it takes you ten hours to do a job that would normally take two. You have a responsibility to let your boss know that, and then it’s his/her decision to upgrade you or not. Some bosses will say, “yeah, I know it’s inefficient, but it’s not in the budget to get a new computer right now” and some bosses will say, “what? I had no idea that thing was so old. Lets get you a new computer right away!”

      My guess is that no one has a clue that the computer they gave you isn’t perfect for the job they are asking you to do. It could simply be an oversight on their part.

      If you want some sample language, something like: “just to let you know, I’m halfway finished with that illustration but because the mac is 5 years old, I’m only able to work at half speed on it. With a new mac, I could finish the job by 5 pm today, but as it is, I’ll be getting this to you by next Wednesday. Is that ok, or would you prefer to get a new mac? My preference is to have a newer tool, obviously, but it’s your call.”

      You’re not deciding; you’re just reporting the facts. That’s my reco.

  7. College Career Counselor*

    Let’s talk about the new and “improved” user interface that LinkedIn appears to be rolling out this week. Granted, I’m not a paid subscriber, so you could argue that my dismay at the loss of functionality is less important than that of the people paying hundreds of dollars per year, but still. From what I can tell, LinkedIn did away with the ability to:
    • easily find alumni by university (something I use on a daily basis with students and in my work planning career programs)
    • you can only see your 1st-level connections when you do that
    • you can’t search by zip code (and they left huge chunks of geography and even entire countries out of the list)
    • they got rid of birthdays, how you met the person, tags, etc.
    • apparently (not quite sure), you have to have the person’s email address now to connect with them (what’s the point—if you already have the email, you’re connected)
    • you can’t search by job title or key word any more
    • the newsfeeds revert to not the most recent news, but what was “most liked,” so you get old stuff in your feed all the time
    • if you post on the discussion boards for linkedin, you can’t unfollow the discussions (the link takes you to a helpful articles menu, and there’s no way to unsubscribe)
    • the groups function is completely buried, and there are huge difficulties finding and posting to it

    Plus, they did it badly. Half the links don’t load, go somewhere else, or the site just freezes up randomly. Even if you can identify the university you want (not just the one you attended) and get those alumni (which is now a complicated multi-step process), when you ask for the information you get an error message: “career insights for these alumni are currently unavailable—please try again later.” Once I managed to get through, the career insights turned out to be anonymous info like “68 people work in finance,” and you couldn’t drill down to find out who they were. The only people that showed up were 12 alumni that I was top level connections with, AND it only showed three of them at a time (because that’s all you’d want to see on a mobile device, you see), and the “next” button didn’t work.

    In addition, the admins/moderators are either ignoring people’s posts asking for restoration of functionality/old UI, or they are cutting and pasting an obvious PR blurb about “streamlined interface” and “consistency between the mobile and desktop versions” and calling the thread “resolved.” In other words, everything that people are reacting to as a bug is actually a feature. Comparisons to the Edsel, New Coke abound, and the sentiments about the “worst tech rollout ever seen” are flying around.

    All I know is that they crippled the one thing that was useful to college students and alumni looking to network: the ability to search for alumni by industry and location. Now, it’s a hell of a lot more like Facebook—you’re prompted to put the person’s name in and filter those results. I think it’s absolutely useless if you’re prospecting people for a program, doing searches to find potential employees, acting as a head-hunter, or trying to find people you don’t already know in order to network for your job search.

    There’s some speculation that Microsoft is behind the crappy roll-out in the name of “progress” and that they’re really trying to make everyone pay the $120/month to upgrade to Navigator level access. As for the “user feedback form”? That freezes immediately when you press “extremely dissatisfied.”

    Anyone else get “downgraded” to the new UI? Anyone got any ideas about a work-around on LinkedIn, or a competing networking site? Because everything I’ve showed students about how to use LinkedIn is now obsolete, and I can’t advocate that students spend $120/month to network with alumni because it “looks cool on your phone.”

    1. Epsilon Delta*

      Ugh that sounds really annoying. Seems like more often than not (across the board, not just LinkedIn), new “features” are more like bugs and aren’t what users want. This is why I never do the updates to the OS on my phone until absolutely necessary! Not that I recommend that strategy…

    2. YesYesYes*

      Wait, you tell your students to connect with random alumni they don’t know, just for networking? That seems incredibly ineffective, and explains why I get requests from young people I don’t know ALL the time.

      I can maybe see if you’re telling them to find 2-3 alumni with careers they admire, to get a sense of potential career paths. But not by connecting with them.

      And I’m not a head hunter, but as a hiring manager, I’ve never once interviewed a candidate that my recruiters found by cold-calling a random linkedin person. They’re almost always a person who has a resume available on one of the many sites, or are set to “interested in new job offers”.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        Huh. Same thing has been happening to me, and it’s annoying.

      2. College Career Counselor*

        Not quite. I don’t tell them to try to add alumni to linkedin right away. I tell them to use linkedin to identify alumni who are working in an area they are interested in. If they know the alumni already (because they’re recent grads and overlapped with them while in school), they can certainly connect for networking/informational interview purposes. If they don’t already know the alumni, I tell them to see if they have anyone in common who might be willing to introduce them. And if they don’t have anyone in common, I do sometimes encourage reaching out for the purposes of an informational interview. We have many, many alumni who are willing to respond to a politely and professionally phrased request for an informational interview, at the convenience of said alumnus/a. After the informational interview/phone conversation is when I would encourage the student to submit the LinkedIn connection request.

    3. esra (also a Canadian)*

      I’m so, so unimpressed with them killing the option to sort updates by most recent. My home feed is now clogged with things that happened weeks, sometimes months ago. I agree with all of your points above. They’ve taken away basically all the features I liked. I seriously wonder about what kind of ux/ui testing went into this.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        I couldn’t tell you what kind of testing, but the whole thing seems to be geared to pushing to mobile devices and of course maximizing revenue. Little to no notification, documentation or any kind of user help set up before they did it.

    4. Audiophile*

      I hadn’t noticed most of those changes. I can sort of understand the rational behind removing birthdays, but I’m not sure what you mean by “how you met the person”. Last I recall, if I said I worked at Company A and Sally also worked at Company A LinkedIn will say “you both worked at Company A”. That doesn’t mean we worked there at the same time or ever met.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        They probably haven’t rolled it out to you yet. They’re staggering it, probably because you would hear the collective rage if they did it to everyone at once. A colleague of mine got it some time ago, I got it Wednesday/Thursday, and another is mid-transition. The colleague who got it a few weeks ago says that they’ve figured out some work-around methods. Which of course don’t work for me because the site is borked right now and/or I’m in mid-transition.

        As to how you connected, there used to be a notes section, where it would tell you that you’d been connected with someone since 1/1/2009 (or whatever). You could also add a note/tag that said “we met at the Chocolate Teapot Engineers conference/discussed the almond controversy at length,” etc. Apparently, all those notes/tags that many people used as reminders about their contacts and their work with them have disappeared.

        1. Audiophile*

          Oh now that you’ve described it more in depth, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I can still see my notes and tags section and I have the option of downloading that information. I think I’ll exercise the option to download. I have over 400 contacts and I’ve been connected to many of them for a long time. And I had them tagged based on the company they worked for at the time. Ugh that’s really aggravating.

    5. Mimmy*

      Although I don’t use LinkedIn nearly as much as I did 5-6 years ago, I still go on it occasionally and the UI has definitely changed over the years, and not for the better. I too have had the site freeze up on me. So while I use LI for different purposes, I definitely feel your pain.

    6. The Grammarian*

      I do not like the new interface. It is clunky, and it keeps telling me I have new messages when I don’t.

    7. Rogue*

      I absolutely hate the new linkedin user interface!! I’ve already emailed them with complaints. The biggest asset for me was to be able to sort my feed by “most recent,” as most people in my field post job opportunities as status updates nor do I see when new projects were approved, etc. LinkedIn is basically useless for me now, which sucks.

  8. Anonymous For This*

    I think my old boss is trashing my reputation. What can I do?

    I left my last job in…less than ideal circumstances. Long story short, I made a discrimination complaint to HR about my boss. HR sided with him, and he started building up a paper trail to use to justify firing me. This paper trail was full of stuff like “Jimbo didn’t let me know that he was going to use bereavement leave in a timely manner,” so it was obvious what he was doing, but since the organization valued my boss over me, he never got any blowback over any of it.

    I found a new job and left before he could fire me, though. When I was interviewing I heard a few questionable things at one interview. One of the people interviewing me said something like “we don’t let people just take PTO unannounced because they’re sad” which sounded pretty suspicious to me — like what you’d say if you wanted to put my bereavement leave in the worst possible light. I looked the interviewer up and he went to the same college as my boss, with the same major, and graduated the same year, so I’m sure my boss was talking about me to this guy.

    Also since I’ve left, a few of my colleagues have deleted me off of Facebook and LinkedIn, and they’ve also stopped replying to texts (we used to be fairly close friends outside of work). This includes people who left my old company before I did, and I’m getting a nasty feeling my old boss is spreading lies about me to everyone who I had a good relationship with at that company. I don’t have any way to know for sure, and directly contacting them to ask “Has Wakeen been saying things about me?” seems strange and immature. But I’m going to need a reference from this job at some point, and I’d rather clear this up sooner rather than later. I just don’t know how to do it. Any advice?

    1. College Career Counselor*

      You could have someone else call up your former boss under the guise of reference checking and see what is said about you. That would give you some indication of the nature of what the company is saying officially/directly. This will not necessarily help with “back-channel” conversations, unfortunately. Is there someone else (a peer colleague, for example) whom you could use as a reference for this company in the future?

      1. Anonymous For This*

        Company policy is that managers can’t give references, the only thing that’s given is employment verification from HR.

        I called HR about this after I put my notice in and their response was basically “he wouldn’t say anything like that, it’s against policy.”

        I’ll get someone to do the phone call, though.

        Other people I could use as a reference: I tried two other people who worked in a supervisory status to me, one of them was my other manager. Other manager said he wasn’t comfortable with it and to ask Bad Boss, the other never replied. I tried a few senior colleagues, none of them replied.

        1. Chaordic One*

          With regards to the reference question, in spite of the company policy, you should still have someone contact your former manager with a request for a reference and see what happens. If your former manager refers them to HR, then have that person contact HR and see what they say.

          Sometimes having a lawyer send a letter on your behalf will stop the trash talking, although it is a PITA and when you’re unemployed it seems like a terrible thing to have to spend money on.

          Perhaps there is a pro bono or low-cost legal services clinic that can help you. (Several years ago I went to pro bono clinic held at my public library where a lawyer advised me about filing a claim in small claims court against an insurance company after being in a traffic accident.)

          But Allison is certainly correct about it being illegal discrimination and you might want to pursue that.

    2. NJ Anon*

      Have someone you know call for a reference and see what happens. I don’t think it’s strange/immature to ask what’s going on. Just be professional about it.

    3. M*

      I think the idea of having someone call for references is smart, BUT if you ended up taking a job with the guy who same college same major, your boss may get in touch and say you are job searching!

      So be careful!

      1. Anonymous For This*

        I’m like 99% sure old boss and that guy are friends and talk.

        Last year one of my parents died suddenly and I was so emotionally devastated, I took the full allotment of bereavement days. My email to my boss and his boss basically said that I was shocked and depressed.

        The interviewer who went to college with Bad Boss said something like “if you work at this company, you can’t take days off at random because you’re feeling sad for no reason.” Which just sounds WAY too coincidental for me to not think something is up.

        1. Artemesia*

          And when he said that did you say ‘The only time I have taken off because I felt ‘sad’ was when my father died which seems like a pretty good reason to me.”

          1. Anonymous For This*

            No. I was too shocked to. I called the recruiter later to withdraw my application though.

    4. ZVA*

      Is there a former colleague you’re still in touch with who might know if he’s trashing you, someone you trust/have a good rapport with, that you can ask? If you really do feel that this might be happening, I don’t think it’s strange or immature to want to confirm it for yourself—this could have serious professional consequences for you, after all… Just tell them you left under less than ideal circumstances (if they don’t already know this) and that you fear your former boss might be spreading rumors about you or tarnishing your reputation or however you want to put it. You could even say “I may be wrong, but I’m worried about the impact this might have on my reputation and I’d really like to know for sure”?

      I think you’d have to be really sure you can trust the person you ask, especially if your former boss is poisoning the well… But it’s not weird at all to want to clear this up.

      1. Sherm*

        +1. You could calmly mention to the trusted peer what you said here — that at an interview it seemed that someone knew about your bereavement leave. So you’re showing that you’re not just idly wondering if Wakeen is out to get you but you have actual reason to believe that he might be talking about you.

    5. Liane*

      ” Long story short, I made a discrimination complaint to HR about my boss. HR sided with him, and he started building up a paper trail to use to justify firing me.”
      This sounds like retaliation, if you are in the US. It is illegal, regardless of whether the complaint was deemed valid or what the results of the investigation were.

      Hopefully Alison or someone else with expertise will weigh in on this. (IANAL & don’t watch law shows)

      1. Anonymous For This*

        Oh yeah. I complained like crazy about it. Each time, HR said they’d investigate, and then a week later they’d send an email back saying “while Bad Boss did not behave in the most professional manner, he did not violate the Company Handbook.”

        My old boss was a terrible boss, but a legit genius in his field. I don’t know if he threatened to leave, but he could’ve easily found a new job in the field within a week. He would be very hard to replace. Since what he did wasn’t visible or egregious, someone high up might have decided it wasn’t worth angering him and risking him leaving over, and that’s why nothing happened.

        1. Natalie*

          You probably already know this, but it doesn’t matter on bit whether he violated the handbook. Retaliation is a violation of law, which can’t be overturned by some stupid handbook.

          [From what I understand, retaliation complains are pretty hard to prove so it’s probably not worth wasting more mental energy on. Sometimes it helps to know that you are right, and he was acting badly, even if you’re not going to do anything with that information.]

          1. Anonymous For This*

            Yeah. I was using “haandbook” as a catch-all for both anything against company rules or the law.

            I suppose I could email my grandboss and tell him the details and ask if he’d be willing to serve as a reference…Though that might be smarter to do after I have a friend call Bad Boss for me and confirm he’s trashing me or not.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, this is illegal retaliation. It doesn’t even matter whether your original complaint was legit or not; it’s illegal to retaliate against you for making a discrimination complaint in good faith, regardless of the outcome of that complaint.

        One option here would be to involve a lawyer, who could point out to the company that you have a good case for retaliation, and that you’ll be inclined to pursue it unless they immediately put a stop to this guy’s attempt to mess with your career. It’s very likely that the company will be moved into action by that.

      3. Cookie*

        You need to report this to your state’s civil rights commission or the EEOC or both. They can conduct an impartial investigation.

  9. TotesMaGoats*

    I’ve got a fantastic update.

    I had my interview on Wednesday and it went so well. Or at least I thought so. It was long 4+ hours and I was so exhausted by the time I was done but still felt super comfortable. My presentation was on topic and with salient examples and I was funny. All the conversations just flowed so well. I know they had one last interview yesterday and they are moving really fast. I put my references on red alert yesterday after I sent all my thank yous. So fingers crossed people. Fingers crossed. This would be an awesome next step for me to a place that’s not 7th level of hell. You could just tell how together the people were as a team and in general operations.

    I will be devastated if I don’t get it. But I’ll move on. Trying to be realistic in my chances. At the same time, I’m hanging on the thread of hope that the HR person gave me. “I can speak for all of us that your energy and enthusiasm were infectious.”

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Best wishes on this! For the moment you know you are on the right track and that is something you can hang on to no matter what the outcome here.

      1. Anon for this!!*

        I’m in the same boat, waiting with bated breath for a job offer (references already contacted, background check in process). It’s the worst, the anxiety is killing me and every beep, ping and noise my phone makes gets me all worked up. Hopefully it’s good news for your and in a timely fashion!

  10. Data Lady*

    Just over a year ago, I applied for my dream job, ended up in the final 3 but lost out to a candidate with more experience. I haven’t really stayed in touch with the hiring manager but I am close with people who were on the hiring committee. I got another job instead that isn’t really working out, and I’m looking to return to my old industry.

    The department is expanding and hiring two people for my dream job. I want to apply, but should my cover letter reference my previous interview experience with them, or should I just pretend it never happened?

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      I think you could say something like, “After interviewing with your company last year, I was sure that it was an environment I could succeed in.” Phrase it in a less tortured manner, of course.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “I interviewed with you last year and I want you to know I am still interested in working for your company. Here is what I have been up to over the year:_________”

        There’s nothing wrong with continued interest.

    2. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      I think you should reference it. After all, the company wants people who want to work for them, and you’re willing to re-apply even after a rejection. That’s a point in your favor, I think.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes! “I interviewed for the X position last year and really enjoyed our conversations about it. I see that you’re hiring for the role again, and I’d love to be considered.”

          1. Data Lady*

            In your experience, is there a good chance that HR would be weird about me applying and toss my resume out because I’m not a “fresh” candidate?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              No. They’re likely to consult the notes about you from last time though, and if there’s something in there that’s prohibitive (“wildly arrogant,” “rude to receptionist,” “very poor interview answers,” or so forth), they’ll use that info to inform their decision about whether to move you forward now. But the fact that you were interviewed previously on its own isn’t a problem.

  11. Pup Seal*

    I had an interview yesterday, and it was the most intense one I ever had. I was interviewed by a committee of seven people, and it was so nerve racking. I don’t think I sounded very confident in there. Oh well.

    1. legalchef*

      I once was surprised at an interview with a panel of no fewer than 12 people (this was after I had just met with the person who would be my boss and the 3 other people at my level). They said they wanted me to meet with a few staff and then I walked into a packed room. It’s super nerve wracking!! And also totally not fair to the candidate.

        1. legalchef*

          Ha. There was no chance of that happened. I was too shell shocked to even try to remember to do that!

      1. Windchime*

        That’s so true. I have sat in (as an interviewer) on a lot of those panel interviews, and I gave a lot of leeway for nerves because it can be very intimidating.

    2. Windchime*

      You might be surprised! I recently was interviewed by a panel of people and although I felt it went OK, there was one woman who I was pretty sure didn’t like me and I could tell she was a respected person. I also knew that she would be part of the group that I (were I selected) would be on, so I felt I was pretty much out of the running because I just thought she didn’t care for me at all.

      I was totally wrong. I was offered the job, I have worked there for several months and she does like me (and I like her). My nerves clouded my vision and I was wrong about her. You may have done just fine; hopefully that’s the case.

  12. peachie*

    About to jump on a mysterious “10 minute call” from the hiring manager at the company I’m hoping to get a job at… Hopefully it’s the good kind of mysterious!

  13. Bomb Yogi*

    Im in a hard situation and would love some outside perspectives.

    I currently work in a corporate environment. Im paid fairly well but the work is boring. Im at a point where Im not really pushing myself or growing professionally. There will be weeks where i have nothing to do. But, I get to work from home full time so there is a tremendous cost savings, as well as not having to deal with work politics as much. My boss is very hands off (which i love) and respectful of my need for work/life balance. Our company is going through a merger so there is that too.

    My husband and I want to start trying for kids this year. My current job would lend itself well for having a family because of the work load, the pay, and less stress in general. However, I just feel myself and my skills getting stale. Ive always been a person who likes to push themselves and improve their skills.

    I feel like im between a rock and a hard place. I am very, very grateful for my current job but i just cant shake the other feelings. Its been going on for years.

    1. Manders*

      I’m one of those people who also hates the feeling that my skills are getting stale–but that seems like a really great job for someone who’s planning to start a family soon.

      Is there any way to split the difference by asking your boss for more tasks? Maybe her respect for your work/life balance is preventing her from assigning you some stuff she’d love to have off her plate.

    2. Pup Seal*

      Could you ask your manager for some additional task? Maybe some more job duties will help you give that push you need.

    3. Em too*

      Hmm. My first thought is that there can be a pretty long gap between starting to try for kids and having an actual child. The other is to think about what balance you really would like between kids and career. That’s not meant to be pointed, and depends on what support options you have, but if you prioritised your career now might you end up in a less convenient job but still ending up treading water while your kids are small?

    4. Continually improving*

      I was in your same situation a few years ago. I stayed in my easy, dialed-in job through my pregnancy. But I also went back to school (without telling current job). When I was in a place where I really had the baby/work/school routine down, I searched for and landed a new job when my kid was nine months old. New job used my new school skills.

      Best of luck!

    5. stelmselms*

      I can see both sides. I left a job a little over a year ago that wasn’t very challenging and I wanted more responsibility. However, my boss in that job was awesome – super flexible if I had a sick kid and had to work from home or not work at all that day or early release days for school and I needed to leave an hour early, etc. In my current position, I have more than enough to do and definitely have increased responsibilities, but I also often feel like I’m never doing enough and it’s harder to balance out my work and family life. Would I have made the change knowing what I know now? I’m not entirely sure. However, if you are trying to start a family, your job pays well, you can work from home, your current responsibilities look good on a resume, etc. maybe stick it out a bit longer. It might give you an opportunity for a great work/life balance once you start your family. You could also get involved in local networking opportunities/organizations, take a class, etc. to improve your skills and professional contacts.

    6. LQ*

      In addition to other tasks is there anything you could sort of side take on that might benefit you and the company. Like becoming an expert in teapot design spec writing and start really diving into something that you don’t do best practices on, or that you’d like to become an expert at but it isn’t super every day critical so it just gets put off? Also any chance of being lent out to other areas of the business occasionally?

    7. Elle*

      Have you considered lending your skills to non-profit work? I too work in a corporate environment which at times can be less than fulfilling. I stated to volunteer and am now on a board of a local non-profit.

    8. Natalie*

      I totally understand the urge to put Thing A on hold because you’re pretty sure Thing B is going to happen first, but in my own life I’ve noticed that can be very frustrating when Thing B doesn’t happen on the timetable I assumed or goes differently than I had planned. So, I wonder if it would make sense for you to job search a little bit right now, even as you try to have a kid. You never know how long either a job search or a pregnancy will take to bear fruit (hyuk hyuk hyuk), and there’s no harm in looking at what’s out there. If you get pregnant next week, you can suspend your job search if that makes sense for you. If it take a little while, maybe you’ll be comfortably ensconced in a new position by the time you’re ready to take maternity leave.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I totally agree with this. It concerns me that you think your skills are growing stale, OP.
        I stayed at a place that did not move with the technology. As the years rolled by the company was further and further behind the times. I went from being concerned to being scared because I KNEW for a fact that I was not keeping up the way I should.

        If you cannot get your boss to give you new and more involved work then I’d say, yes, start looking around. That little voice that says “stagnation” will get louder and start screaming “antiquated!”. FWIW, most companies in the area knew for a fact that we were significantly behind the times.

    9. Quinalla*

      I know I considered leaving my last job sooner, but ended up not because I was planning to have kids soon and knew with the sleepless nights being at a job where I could go in coast mode was valuable, especially since my first child HATED sleeping. Wow, I had twins after her and got way, way more sleep with two infants than with her, ugh. Once I was done having kids and done recovering from breaking my hip (which delayed me another year at least) then I was out there looking as I was past done with my old job, just bored to tears and they only thing that kept me coming in was the paycheck, the good coworkers (I was also so done with the drama-filled workplace) and my clients who I’d built solid relationships with. My new job has been just amazing! Looking back, I wished I had moved on from that first job way before I had kids (I was there 13 years so I could have) so I could have established myself in a new job that was more rewarding.

      For me personally, I would not have purposefully changed jobs while getting ready to have kids, but as one other person said, it can sometimes take a long time to get pregnant and sometimes it happens faster than you think! So you don’t want to put too much on hold as you really can’t plan when it will happen. I too would probably ask for a new task or two that would challenge you some more at your current job or if that isn’t possible, brush up through online courses, etc. on things related to your job, teach yourself something new about it, etc. to keep your skills as up to date as you can.

    10. mamabear*

      That’s a rough spot to be in, especially if you’ve been feeling that way for years. I’ll offer you a couple ways to think about this dilemma.

      1) The kind of flexibility you describe is invaluable once you have kids. A friend of mine is in a really similar situation to you — probably not working to her fullest capability, but the job is good and gives her the flexibility she needs right now with a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old who has some extra academic needs. She sums it up by saying, “It’s not what I want forever, but it’s what I need right now.” She is a bright, very capable woman and this arrangement is hard on her.

      2) I took the opposite path. Somehow, I’ve managed to “lean in” while having young kids. (I seriously hate that phrase, but it’s apt shorthand.) There are some really good things about it: I’m intellectually stimulated every day. I’m proud of my accomplishments. But. Sometimes, I feel like I’m leaning in so much, I might fall over — and I’m not even at the executive level. While my company has generous vacation policies, it’s hard to actually take the time I need. Juggling kid pickup and activities is a constant negotiation between me and the husband, depending whose job is busier on any given week. I consider myself a very hands-on, present parent, but I’m not a school volunteer or on the PTO because there literally aren’t enough hours in the day. For everything I love about my career, there are times when the stress of trying to keep up with everything has taken a real toll on my mental health. This is hard, too.

      You have to choose your version of hard. With everything you know about yourself, which is going to work better for you? This answer may change after you actually have the baby, too.

    11. HYDR*

      If you start a new job, most places are covered by FMLA, which required you to be at your employer for 1 year (or so many hours) to qualify. At my place, there is no formal maternity leave so you have to use your accrued sick and vacation time. It would be very hard to have any sort of paid maternity leave if I was only there for a year or so.

      Can you ask your boss to be put on more projects? Perhaps change the timelines of certain things so your workflow is constant? Can you inject new technologies into your company?

      My advice (I have 3 kids and took three maternity leaves!), stay where you are, you don’t know what the future holds. After you have baby, re-evaluate the pros and cons. You life will forever be changed (in a good way).

      I also agree to find a local organization to volunteer. That is so important in my life, and I LOVE using my skills to their benefit (and sneaking away from my kiddos to head to meetings ;)!) .

  14. KiteFlier*

    I’m really struggling with work this week. I acknowledge that I make mistakes, as I am human, and try to learn from those I can. However, common human error – typos, forgetting attachments, etc. seem to be unavoidable 100% of the time. My boss is a perfectionist and expects me to also be, while using her judgment and not my own, which is difficult as I am not psychic. I feel picked apart for everything I do, while larger contributions are ignored or literally forgotten about until they ask someone else to create something I already have done and showed them months ago.

    At this point, I’m nauseated with anxiety going into work everyday and am looking at three options:
    1. Take FMLA/STD leave for my depression and anxiety. It would give me time to regroup and job search, though at 60% pay.
    2. Give a long notice period (4-6 weeks) in order to tie up loose ends, give myself some relief, and have time to find something new. Downside is if I don’t find something new, I am out of money which I cannot afford to be and cannot get unemployment as I voluntarily resigned.
    3. Hope they let me go so I can receive severance and unemployment. Try to regroup while job searching, which would be more difficult with an involuntary termination.

    Any experience/advice?

    1. Dawn*

      #1, if you can do it and swing it financially, is your best bet. #2 is too chancy and having that hard deadline to find another job will ratchet up your anxiety through the roof. #3 is risky, in that if they don’t let you go you’ll just spiral further down into more anxiety and risk burning out.

      1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

        Agreed that #2 is too risky if you can’t afford to go without work at all. 4-6 weeks is a very short job search. If you found a brand new posting today, it could take a couple weeks or more just before they get back to you for an interview. Plus, when you consider most companies do multiple rounds of interviews, it could easily extend it past the 6 week mark, even in the best case scenario. I think my shortest time from interview to start date was 4 weeks and that was when I was very junior.

      2. KiteFlier*

        Thank you, Dawn. I spoke with a therapist from my EAP this morning and mentioned all my options. Of #3, he said something like, “Isn’t that the worst kind of option?” Yes, but that’s where I am mentally. Today was much better than I was expecting, but the changes are so frequent and vast that I don’t know what is best anymore.

      3. ThumbTypist*

        I’ve taken FMLA for depression. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I was able to do an intense therapy program and focus on better coping skills. I didn’t disclose my reasons at work, but when I got back, people could tell I was in a better place. I too, thought about quitting, but my thereapist pointed out (correctly in my case) out that the depression was not 100% due to work…and who wants to job hunt while going through a serious bout of depression? It helped me so, so much. My work product improved a lot.

        YMMV of course, but it could be a very good thing. Best of luck to you.

    2. Audiophile*

      I understand how hard this is. I felt like I’ve made a lot of mistake this week and really the last few weeks. I’ve tried to regroup and move on and learn from them, but it’s hard.

      If you can do #1, I think that’s your best bet. Depending on your field and the demand for your type of work, you may not have a very long search.

      I’m concerned about number #3 happening to me in the next few weeks. But I’m trying to turn it around.

      1. KiteFlier*

        Me too, Audiophile. I’m trying to balance my mental health and my expectations of where I “should” be at this point in my life, and I know that I need to put my mental health and self first. It doesn’t come naturally, though.

        1. Audiophile*

          The balancing act is the hardest part. My expectations of where I should be and the reality of where I am, are often disheartening. I feel like I should be further along in my “career” and I’m not sure how to get where I want to go.

    3. BRR*

      This was me in my last job. If you haven’t already, start job hunting. If you can afford number 1, do that. I wouldn’t do 2. Job hunting can take a while and leaving without anything lined up can be difficult to explain. Especially when your boss likely won’t give a stellar reference. I hope you’re pursuing treatment now as well.

      1. KiteFlier*

        I’ve started hunting and had some responses, but I know nothing is for certain. I am pursuing treatment, thank you.

    4. Viola Dace*

      Have you considered really working hard at not making mistakes? I only say this because many of us work at jobs where you cannot make a mistake. For me, an extra zero, a transposed number, or a lack of review of math or documents could be disastrous. I’ve developed systems and checklists for many processes to try and eliminate the possibility of a mistake. Give your yourself an opportunity to succeed.

      1. Simonthegreywarden*

        This seems really unhelpful. “You say you’re depressed. Have you tried really hard not being depressed? I’ve tried hard my whole life not to be depressed, and guess what, I’m not! You should try it.”

          1. Generation Catalano*

            Actually, people with depression can find it harder to plan, concentrate and complete tasks. Making mistakes can absolutely happen as part of depression.

        1. NaoNao*

          I think it’s just worded rather unfortunately. I think what they *may* mean is “have you concentrated 100% of your focus on doing error free work? Many of us slip into autopilot or don’t think about optimizing every step of the process and managing peripherals so that errors are less likely to happen.
          In this case I think it’s more
          “Have you thought about treating your depression as a genuine illness, gone to the doctor, adjusted your sleeping, eating, and exercise habits?” That’s how I take it.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        There are many, many jobs where the thought processes and priorities are not quite so technical or process-oriented, and the mistakes KiteFlier describes are just going to happen. I have never been in a workplace where every email is perfect and no one ever forgets an attachment. It sounds like what she’s facing is being reprimanded for things that everyone does occasionally. My own work requires diligence in product set-up and analysis, but if I forget to attach a document to an email? Oops, sorry, move on, because it’s really not a big deal in the grand scheme. If the boss is making it a big deal without explaining why, and every single thing is picked apart? That’s a tough position to be in.

        1. KiteFlier*

          Thank you, AvonLady. I am confident in my knowledge and skill set for my career path, but human errors are human errors, and they will always be made. My boss makes them too, which makes it harder for me to accept her criticisms. I am a human and so, cannot be perfect,

      3. Parenthetically*

        “We just lost the basketball game.”

        “Have you considered scoring more points than the other team?”


      4. AKJ*

        The harder I work at not making mistakes, the more anxious I get. The more anxious I get, the more mistakes I make.
        It’s a vicious cycle.

      5. JB (not in Houston)*

        Nope. You have checklists to eliminate the possibility of a mistake in some, maybe even most of your tasks. But there’s no way that you don’t make any mistakes at all, ever, in anything you do at work.

        1. KiteFlier*

          Exactly, JB, and I do have checklists and know my job well. The issues that arise are subjective to my boss – last year, I did the process correctly, and so I follow the procedure done last year. But this year, it has changed, and I should have known that without any direction. The problem in my line of work is that no situation is ever the exact same as another. I follow the context from previous scenarios, but I do not have the years of experience my boss has, or the psychic abilities to know what exactly it is she wants me to do in every different scenario.

      6. KiteFlier*

        The problem with my depression and anxiety is that the more I focus on not making mistakes, the more I second guess myself, and the more mistakes I make. Also, my “mistakes” are often subjective to my boss. So while I appreciate the sentiment, of course I have thought of this, but it’s just not possible as I am not a robot.

    5. Emac*

      I agree with everyone else, #1 is the best option. It’s something I’ve been looking into myself and one thing to think about if you end up getting a job before your time is over, you might have to pay back the part of your health insurance that the company paid for the time you were out. I noticed in my employee handbook that if someone doesn’t come back at the end of a medical leave, they’re required to pay back the company’s part of health insurance and from what I’ve read about the FMLA, they’re allowed to do that.

      1. KiteFlier*

        I actually run our Leave of Absence Program, so I know the ins and outs and benefits repayment is not an issue for me. That’s the least of my worries at this point.

        1. Marisol*

          ok i was working on a thoughtful answer and the blog ate my response so I’m gonna just be a little quick-and-dirty here.

          I think a leave of absence may be the right choice, but it’s a drastic one to start off with. Before you make that decision, you should see a shrink and/or a psychotherapist. There are many ways to treat anxiety and depression, with fmla leave being but one option. And you don’t want to start a job search without getting those symptoms under control. Try the more moderate options first. And FYI, depression and anxiety are both commonly present in people with ADD, as is making lots of little mistakes. If you want to self-diagnose for ADD, John Ratey wrote the book with the definitive diagnostic checklist for the condition. Cant remember the name but it’s on amazon. Hope that helps!

    6. Ozymandias*

      I agree with most of the advice given by other commenters, but I’d like to add some things I wish I’d done:

      1. Have you checked for physical health issues? I myself was initially diagnosed with anxiety & depression which later turned out to be partly down to a severe Vitamin D deficiency. Several friends also had undiagnosed physical problems (like pernicious anemia, an underactive thyroid, or blood-sugar-levels) that were making them tired & causing brain fog, irritability & anxiety.

      The good news was that all of these were fairly simple to treat once diagnosed, and that cured most of our mental health issues, except for stress from having to clean up after problems that happened in the months/years we went untreated. It could be worth going for a comprehensive health check while you have good health insurance, just in case.

      2. My depression was a kind of self-fulfilling thing, which made me see everything around me negatively. Could your feeling that your boss is picking on you be partly the negativity of the disorder? Because that’s good news, in a way? It means you don’t have a bad boss or terrible workplace (which individuals often can’t fix), just a health issue that you have more control over.

      Or, your boss could be a real jerk who is making you depressed and anxious, in which case, yes, you should plan on quitting, ASAP. Your mental health is important and fragile and needs protecting, and preserving a healthy emotional state is vitally important for you. (For ALL of us!)

      Is there any way you can check in with co-workers about Boss’s interpersonal skills with them? Does Boss have a generally good or bad rep? Can you show some messages or email exchanges to people* you trust and see what they think of the communications, including the tone of it?

      (*definitely not the kind of person who’d say unhelpful stuff like ‘that’s what your Boss is like; deal with it’ or ‘it’s all in your mind’, ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’, etc. People who understand and value good self-care & emotional health)

      3. Right now, or in the next couple of weeks, is there any way you can insist on taking a long weekend break, maybe using PTO or sick leave? (You are sick, btw; MH issues definitely count!) If you have an understanding employer, you can say something like, “I’m worried that I’m burning out and I really need to take a short break to rest and emotionally recharge. I want to be able to come back to work with a fresh set of eyes so I can look at how to reorganise things, because I recognise that there have been some issues and things cannot go on as they are.”

      And then keep repeating variation on that script if people object, because you will always have obligations, it will always be a bad time, and people will always want more notice. But what would be worse is if you do what I did, which was keep on going until I had an actual mental breakdown on the way home from work, failed to turn up at work next day, and then never left the house for ~6 months, ghosting that employer until they sacked me because I couldn’t even face reading my email from them.

      If you do take a break, don’t handle any work stuff! Just leave all your tech switched off and go and do something lovely, distracting, and fun! (Like learning to scuba dive, or visit the Grand Canyon, or book a spa hotel with three kinds of massage and a pedicure; whatever works for you?) Because I think it’s generally a good idea to give yourself permission to take a break, step back, and rest, before making any potentially life-changing decisions, you know?

    7. Windchime*

      I have taken the FMLA option when I was feeling the same as you and it was a good option for me. I took almost the full 12 weeks. I applied for a lot of jobs, I went to therapy and I tried to take good care of myself. I did eventually have to go back but I was in full swing interview mode by then and only stayed a few more weeks before I got my current job offer.

      I was really scared to change jobs but I felt in my heart that they were trying to get rid of me and the anxiety/depression was truly unbearable. I cried constantly, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, and was having very, very dark thoughts. I thought that maybe my career was over; that I wasn’t capable of working any longer. But it really was just the job. I’m in a new job now and my commute is an hour longer than the old one. I don’t care, because the people are so good and the job is very low stress. I knit or nap on the train and it’s heaven.

      Hang in there. I vote for FMLA if you can afford it. It will buy you some time.

    8. Evergreen*

      I’ve been in a similar situation and was glad I stayed in the end: coming out the other side has taught me resilience and assertiveness skills that have opened up other doors in my life. I (obviously) don’t know how similar our situations are, but I have definitely taken sick days because I literally wasn’t going to be able to cope with walking in without my resignation in hand. My advice is option 1a:

      – find a good psychologist or possibly psychiatrist to help you work through your depression. It may take a little while to find someone you click with
      – talk openly with your boss about how her management style is affecting you: ‘could you give me some insight into the error rate you expect? I’ve noticed that you have made similar errors in this circumstance – could you explain the difference between my mistake and yours?’ ‘I noticed you asked Percy to write the thin bottomed cauldron report but I had finished this and sent it to you 6 months ago – what happened?’ ‘I’m struggling with feeling like you feel I literally cannot perform my job. It’s making this job and career path that I love a misery for me. How do you think I’m going overall? Should I be reconsidering whether this career is for me?’

      Again, this approach worked for me and my boss – he didn’t realise he came across so judgemental and didn’t prioritise knowledge sharing the way he should have been (due to being swamped by his own perfectionism). And also, by the time I was in your shoes I didn’t mind being fired for insubordination had it have come to that :)

  15. Bored@Work*

    I work at a public university in a role that is not particularly challenging or engaging. I have a degree in the humanities, so I don’t have a very well-defined, or in-demand skill set. My manager is really nice and is supportive of me taking classes or other training opportunities. I’ve been in this job for almost two years, and my manager seems eager to make sure I’m happy with what I do. I am the only person in the department with this job category , my coworkers all have different classifications (mostly technology related). I recently saw a job ad for a business analyst position at a different organization that is more along the lines of a job I would eventually want to have. I don’t have the required experience or skills for it at this point. Although the job I’m interested in doesn’t relate directly to what I do, there could be some opportunities in my department to do comparable work. My question is, would it be appropriate to show this job ad to my manager and see if I could get some experience doing that type of work in my current position? Is there a good way to bring this up without making it seem like I’m really bored with my current duties? Thanks!

    1. AshK434*

      I probably wouldn’t show my boss the actual job ad (I particularly wouldn’t want my boss to know if I were actively job searching), but I would definitely bring this up! At your next one on one meeting could you start a conversation about your broader career goals and ask to work on projects that can help you achieve these goals?

    2. Used to be bored at work*

      I also work for a public university and I would say don’t necessarily show your boss the job ad but do ask your manager to expand your role. I don’t know about your university but mine allows us to take 2 classes a semester for free. I’ve had conversations with my manager about going back to school and she is aware that while I love my position now, I have every intention of slowly completing my master’s degree and moving on with the state system to a higher level position in the next 5 years-ish. The way I would frame it is this “I’ve recently done some research on various careers and I’ve found business analyst positions sound exactly like what I envision for my future. However I do not have all the skills required for something like that. I’ve noticed though that process x and project y here would help gain me that experience. Would it be possible for me to dedicate part of my time to that?” Make it clear that you aren’t running out the door tomorrow but just want to expand your skills by getting involved in more things in your current role. Most managers know which positions people will stick in forever and which ones are stepping stones.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      I work at a public university too.

      Do not show your boss the ad! Just bring it up that you’re interested in learning XXX skills and would she be able to help point you in the right direction.

    4. One Handed Typist*

      Don’t show the ad.

      Do ask for more job duties in line with what your future goals are. Keep a close eye on the professional development offered by the University. My Uni offers mentorship and other development, including formal training in various software and processes.

      Also keep an eye on internal hiring. Switching to a different department on campus may help you get the experience you need.

  16. FDCA In Canada*

    I have a fun project!

    Part of my job is doing youth outreach and assisting young people in looking for work, especially students looking for their first jobs. So we do a lot of writing first resumes and discussing what does and doesn’t belong (good: you’re the treasurer of the French club! bad: you do your chores at home almost every day!) and that kind of thing. I have the opportunity to give a workshop to Girl Guides in the 12-15 age range, which is pre-formal employment, but girls who are generally motivated to get involved in things like babysitting, snow shoveling, newspaper delivery, that kind of thing. I’m planning on doing some discussion of “how to think about jobs” in terms of “what am I good at and what’s interesting to me?” rather than “my dream job,” and I am also planning on doing some role-playing and work in the area of standing up for yourself and setting boundaries around casual work, learning how to talk about money comfortably, that kind of thing. I.e., “you’re babysitting for a family with two kids, but when you show up they have two friends there as well–let’s practice firmly but politely saying you’re not comfortable with that” or “you shoveled the driveway of a neighbour and now they you’re done he says ‘now come around and do my backyard, too’ but you will only do it for additional money–let’s practice asking for that.”

    I’m really excited–something like this would have helped me immensely as a kid who was super shy but really wanted to work.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      Oh, that sounds great! And so important!

      This is kind of a side issue, but for the older kids, do you do any work on cover letters? I can’t believe how many college grads don’t know how to write a proper letter. I’m not even talking about tying their experience into why they want my particular position — so many of them open with “Dear X, My name is Y…” You don’t need to start a letter with your name! In the business world, we understand the name comes at the bottom! Or is this just my pet peeve of the day?

      1. FDCA In Canada*

        Yes, we do. Mostly it’s AAM-approved (don’t reiterate your resume, but express enthusiasm for the job and explain why you’d be a good fit), but our biggest problem is getting people through the doors to help them. Students in this province take a Grade 10 careers class for nine weeks that covers the bare-bones basics of resumes and cover letters, and most of them assume that’s all they’ll ever need to know, and never seek out any additional assistance.

        But yes, we do cover the basics of what a business communication should be. It’s tricky now because students aren’t taught like I was in high school the traditional address-date-salutation thing to top them off, and email has changed conventions a lot!

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Yeah, that’s why I raised it — the kids clearly aren’t learning The Business Letter in school anymore!

    2. Liane*

      This is great. Pre-formal jobs do help. College Son has done the sound board for our church services since high school. When he started looking for a “real” job, I encouraged him to include that on his applications, and it didn’t take him too long to get that first job and then his second. (First was seasonal.)

      1. FDCA In Canada*

        Oh my gosh, yes! We encourage students to put all kinds of stuff like that on their resume–a lot of them don’t realize or know that if you have no other work experience, babysitting or volunteering at the community centre counts as that.

        1. Liane*

          I suggested Daughter include all the years she (as well as her brother) volunteered at Cub Scout Day Camp every summer and if she was asked about resolving a customer problem to use the time she dealt so well with a problem-parent until her fellow volunteer teen could get an adult leader. I don’t know if she took my advice–although she got the job.

    3. whack*

      sounds great!
      And yes, put down anything that might offer a perspective on the applicant (but know sometimes it doesn’t work).
      I had someone apply for an office position and he noted he was an Eagle Scout. The HR person (a jerk BTW) laughed and made disparaging remarks and when she showed it to me because she thought it was stupid to do, I surprised her by taking the resume, calling & interviewing him, and offering him the job!
      He turned out to be a great employee and has since gone on and gotten his law degree; I knew he would be good at planning, details, & running a project becasue I knew what went into getting his Eagle Award!

      1. Sami*

        What?! I earned my Girl Scout Gold Award (the GS equivalent of the Boy Scout Eagle Scout) and got two jobs out of it. Yes, both hiring managers said so. One was actually at the awards banquet and later called me and offered me a job.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This is great! Last summer, I coached my 16-year-old niece in how to handle a job that wasn’t paying her everything they owed her, and I helped her look up labor law in her state, etc. She ended up getting everything that was owed to her … and the non-paying manager got fired! She also got back pay for her coworkers who worked there, none of whom realized there was anything they could do about it.

      All of which is to say (aside from bragging about my niece), talk about labor law and what to do if your rights are being violated.

      1. FDCA In Canada*

        This is actually something I cover in our workshops for youth at new jobs! We don’t have the time to go over every single rule and regulation, but we do make a point of covering the basics about what you can and can’t do as a student worker, how to research if you think something is wrong, the contact information for the labour board, retaliation, what to do if your boss or coworker is harassing you, plenty of stuff. Too many young workers don’t know any better and get taken advantage of!

        1. EmmaLou*

          But don’t try to stage a coup about company dress code! Just thought I’d throw that out there.

      2. Observer*

        Wow! I would really like to hear that story. But, what a jerk! And YAY for your niece! She’s smart to tap into her network :)

  17. Anon This Time*

    Can I just say that bosses who expect effusive gratitude for performance based raises are assholes? I don’t mean a simple thank-you, I mean bringing it up for years that I’m not grateful enough. It’s a business transaction, not a personal favor. I earned it. It represents <0.5% of the cost savings my team pushed through. And, yes, you can earn a relatively large performance based raise and still be paid well under the industry average.

    Ok, venting over.

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      Not grateful enough really means not willing to acknowledge that they have a bigger perceived role in the events that lead to that raise than they really had. Some people just want worshipers, not competent people.

    2. N*

      I had a Grandboss that expected employees to hand-write thank you notes to the Board of Directors, Grandboss and any other managers in the relevant chain of command for ‘giving’ a raise. Employee effort/cost savings/fat-pulled-out-of-fire/etc. obviously meant nothing. sigh

  18. Elizabeth West*

    Slight entertainment advantage to being unemployed / working from home (if I were)–SOMEBODY OUTSIDE IS GETTING ARRESTED. Like, had to walk backward with hands up and they had the gun out and everything. Yeah, I don’t live in the best neighborhood!

    Now they’re all standing around. But it’s time for my walk, so whatever.

    1. Cath in Canada*

      I was allowed a rare work-from-home day two jobs ago. Just as I settled down to work a movie crew showed up, closed off three or four blocks, and started setting up to film. Just as they got started, the cops showed up to bust a cannabis dispensary a block from the movie set (this was one of the very first ones in the city, when medicinal marijuana was a very new concept). Multiple cars, sirens and lights blazing, people showing up to protest against the cops. Then a TV news crew showed up. Then the arguments between the cops and the movie crew started.

      I decided to do my work the next day (a Saturday) and just watched all the excitement instead.

      (I still can’t believe the Vancouver PD didn’t check for movie shoots before deciding when to bust the place. It’s not like it’s a common occurrence here that’s vital to our economy or anything. It was a big production, too – the first Fantastic Four movie IIRC. SMH).

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Hahaha, oh I bet the film company was MAD. That probably cost them a ton of money.

        I wouldn’t have gotten any work done, had I been working. There was a bush blocking my view from the window, so I decided to go ahead and take my walk. Went around my usual four blocks and there were four more cars on the next street–when I got back, they STILL hadn’t finished. Apparently, it was a dispute of some kind.

        Our cops do a pretty decent job for the most part, but then I’m a blonde white woman with distinct advantages in dealing with them (suspect was not). Just wanted to make sure everything was going okay for both parties. People are kind of keyed up today, online and off.

    2. Mookie Ball*

      I work in Criminal Court, so it’s not unusual for me to see police officers escorting handcuffed suspects in the hallways. Even so, it’s still kind of unnerving.

  19. Audiophile*


    Can’t emphasize that enough.

    My application decision for JHU got kicked to the summer semester. I’m looking at other programs (Georgetown, GWU, Northwestern, Syracuse) and deciding which to apply to. I won’t be using the same references as I did for JHU, I had to hunt them both down. I was really disappointed in their sense of urgency, but that’s partly my own fault.

    Here’s my question: I’m in a development role at a small nonprofit (though it encompassing bookkeeping and light IT work as well,) and my newly hired boss is used to having admin assistants. Specifically ones that would offer to take things off her plate. I’ve never supported someone in an administrative capacity, not a true administrative assistant role, so I’m used to managers delegating tasks to me. Most of my roles involved a fair amount of autonomy and managers telling me if they needed something. She’s frustrated that I’m not asking consistently what I can take from her, though she’s acknowledged that she sees I’m trying. I’m under the impression that she’s viewing this role as more administrative support, than it was originally written. Has anyone else had this issue?

    1. fposte*

      Can you explain a little more? I don’t see why something has to be administrative support for a junior to take the lead in suggesting some delegation opportunities–are the tasks she’s hoping you’ll take inappropriate for the position you’re in, or do you have too much going on to take anything else on? If not, it sounds a little bit like you might be getting stuck on “She’s supposed to ask me” and that could be a bad place to get stuck.

      1. Audiophile*

        The tasks aren’t inappropriate, but they’re things I haven’t done before. She wants me to schedule meetings between her and board members, these aren’t 1:1 meetings, thankfully, but group meetings. Usually I’ll send around a poll, but I find I often don’t get responses in a timely manner, if at all. I explained a few weeks ago that I was often stuck about how pushy I was supposed to be and finally said it would be helpful if she tells me who she absolutely needs at the meeting, so I’m not waiting for everyone to respond before scheduling. I know dealing with board members is a delicate balance.

        You’re correct in saying I’m stuck in the idea that she should be asking me. I feel like she doesn’t want to delegate at all and wants me to ask every day if there’s a task that I can take from her. She’s repeatedly spoken about her previous administrative assistant, and how great she was. It sounds like my boss didn’t have to delegate at all with that person. The office has admin/exec assistant, but I think my boss is looking for me to act as her admin.

        1. Ama*

          I *hate* scheduling meetings and I end up having to do it quite a bit for our CEO (who doesn’t have an admin so whoever is in the department she’s working with on particular projects usually ends up doing admin things). What I usually do is send out the poll, wait a couple of days then provide a status update — “so it’s been four days and only Fergus and Jill replied to the poll, and Jill can’t make any of those slots — do you want me to remind everyone else and see if we can still get a majority together, or do we have to have Jill present?”

          Our CEO will delegate if it’s a brand new project, but she has a lot on her plate besides my department’s projects, so part of my job when we’re working on something together is checking in if there hasn’t been any movement in awhile. (“Did you want me to draft the invitation letters and send them for your review or do you want to write them yourself? Is there anything else you need me to handle for the board meeting?”) I suspect that’s part of what your boss is looking for.

        2. Grant Writer*

          I used to do this type of work, and expect to do it again in the future. In this situation, you need to give the board members a deadline to respond (within the next week, so they don’t forget) when you send how the initial poll and then follow up individually the day after your deadline. If you don’t give a deadline, sad to say, my experience is that you won’t get a response. You also need to be sure the board member is the person you should be coordinating with and not an assistant. When you do work check-ins, you can update your boss on your plans for who has responded, who has not, and your plans for follow up.

          Additionally, I think part of the problem is how you are framing it. In this case, she isn’t looking for you to “take a task from her.” She has delegated the task to you (getting the meeting scheduled) and wants you to own it. I’m completely sympathetic because I remember being in your shoes! But I think you might have more success if you look at the outcome she wants from the task she has assigned (e.g., send out a Doodle poll/ schedule the meeting) and see the outcome as being the task.

          Final note: Don’t be intimidated by your board! :) Scheduling a meeting with them is not an interaction that you should look at any differently than scheduling a meeting with anyone else.

          1. Audiophile*

            Well, in the case of the meetings, yes she is delegating that to me. But she’s also requested that I ask her on a daily basis if there are tasks I can take off her plate. This is completely foreign to me, no one has every asked or expected to do that. The reason I keep saying she’s looking for someone to provide administrative support, is she often talks about her admin from her last job. And will say things like ‘she was great at doing x, y, and z,” so for instance this woman would ask regularly what she could take off my boss’s plate. But this admin had worked for a large financial firm, before she supported my boss.

            As for a better way to schedule with the board members, to my knowledge none of them have assistants. I think the key, like you said will be setting clearer deadlines. I did that this week and people seemed to be much more responsive.

            I think I’m starting to feel burnt out, this job has seemed like one frustration after another. I feel like I’m wearing too many hats, I’m IT , I’m doing bookkeeping and that’s in addition to my development duties.

            1. Salyan*

              IT, development, bookkeeping, and admin? That would be an awful lot of hats (and I say that as someone who does admin, accounts payable and IT coordination). Have you been doing the general office admin support, or is there another admin in the office?
              I’ve recently had a similar experience, in that my boss has been transitioning me to be an executive assistant to support her and the board (while still doing AP, etc.). In my case, though, she recognized that adding work meant something had to go, and we hired a pt admin to help with general duties.
              If admin has not been one of your duties in the past, you might want to sit down with your boss and ask her where she anticipates your role going, and which priorities she wants you to focus on, as your time is finite. Scheduling alone can take up a ton of time (and yes, it’s incredibly frustrating work).
              I feel your pain with her expecting you to ask for work. That’s a style difference, but really annoying if it’s not your style!

    2. evilintraining*

      Agreed. That’s not something that’s limited to an admin role, and this may be making you appear to have no initiative and to be inflexible.

  20. AshK434*

    I used to think micromanaging was the biggest manager sin, but I think nonexistent communication and not giving feedback now tops the list for me. I gave notice to my two bosses earlier this week via email. Unfortunately I tried to do it in person, but they kept cancelling the meetings I scheduled (which forced me to push my end date back). They were in meetings all this week and I refused to stay at this horrible job any longer so I just sent the email. Boss A just completely ignored it, didn’t reply, but I know he got the message because he immediately cancelled all of our standing meetings. Then I found out through Boss B that he wanted to shorten my notice period. Boss B responded to my email by saying I was a bad fit for this role and she was happy I was leaving . What jerks. Neither of them ever gave me direct feedback about my performance and always appeared happy with my work but judging by this response they clearly weren’t impressed with me. I’m so happy to be leaving this awful job. Onward and upwards!

    1. Manders*

      Congratulations on your new, clearly better job!

      When I gave notice at my last job, my bosses were out of the office but had access to email, and they just… didn’t respond to me in any way. They should have had phone access too, but I tried calling and texting several times and they never picked up or acknowledged my messages.

      I took it as a sign that I was doing the right thing by getting the hell out of there. My new managers are pulled in a lot of directions and they don’t always get back to me about my projects as soon as I’d like, but they’re not give-an-employee-the-cut-direct level dysfunctional.

      1. AshK434*

        Thank you! You’re right! It’s definitely a sign that I made the right choice to leave! I’m so excited to have a fresh start.

    2. AnotherAnony*

      Wow… what arseholes! I thought it was bad when I left my toxic workplace I overheard them talking about me and then saw smirking and practically high-fiving each other. Wishing you a more positive workplace and happier times ahead!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Wow, they are d!cks.
      My old boss, the really awesome one, would NEVER have done this. My new boss didn’t even bother to fire me herself–she made someone else do it.

      Good luck at the new job! :D

    4. Chaordic One*

      I agree that your bosses are jerks!

      I suspect that they are angry about your leaving on your own terms and saying angry things (like you being a bad fit) that may well not have any basis in fact. It’s hard to be a good fit when your bosses don’t communicate and don’t give feedback. Good for you!

    5. Observer*

      Eh, I don’t think this response means anything. It’s like the people who react to someone breaking up with them by saying “Well, I should have broken up with youfirst, because you are too stupid / ugly / , but I was too nice to do it.”

  21. Sierra*

    I work with dogs at a daycare that prides itself on being cage-free. I was recently placed on worker’s comp following an injury I sustained to my hand, and was out of work for about a month. I came back to find that I had been fired, because they found errors my some of my admin work. While I was gone, they had looked through my work and found these errors. I am pretty sure that they only went looking for these errors because I was gone on leave. I received no formal warnings about these errors before, and they made the decision to fire me while I was on worker’s comp.

    Is this illegal? Am I being fired in retaliation for worker’s comp? What is my recourse here (if any)?

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Hmm, it does sound like retaliation. But it’s a difficult thing to prove – I’m not an attorney so I don’t know much more than that. But your recourse would be to document whatever you can and to speak with an attorney. I’m really sorry this happened.

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      I think you need an attorney to answer that. Many have a free or cheap (<$100) initial consult in which those questions would be answered. I think it would largely depend on which state you're in (assuming USA).

    3. Natalie*

      It’s certainly suspicious. I agree that you should consult an attorney.

      Also, contrary to popular misconception, being fired is not an automatic disqualifier for unemployment. If you meet all the other requirements, go ahead and file. Your employer may contest but you will have an opportunity to appeal. It’s better than nothing.

      1. Karanda Baywood*

        I agree with this and know from a colleague’s experience that you can indeed get UI benefits if you’re fired/let go.

      2. Marisol*

        DISqualifier? I thought it was an automatic qualifier, and that if you left voluntarily, i.e. quit, then you couldn’t collect it. I didn’t realize people thought it was a disqualifier.

    4. AndersonDarling*

      You could definitely talk to an attorney and it sounds like it would be a good case. You were injured, and suddenly they found a reason to fire you. A good attorney can let you know if the case is worth perusing money wise, but they can also make sure that the employer gives a decent reference.

    5. Jessie the First (or second)*

      So sure, it could be illegal retaliation.

      But – they found errors in your work. They are allowed to fire you *while* you are on leave – just not *because* you are on leave. And they are allowed to fire you without having warned you first. So it never hurts to consult with an attorney, but speaking as an attorney this seems like it’s actually a hard case for you. It will not be hard for the company to point to the errors, and explain they found them while you were out, and explain they had to look through your work because they were covering for you while you were out.

      Now, you know the details more than I do, and if the errors were trivial and people made errors of that type before without getting fired, that adds strength to your case. Worth going to see an attorney. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the advice you get is “I’m so sorry, but I think I can’t help.”

    6. DCGirl*

      You can’t be fired because you are on workers comp, but you can be fired in spite of it. Being on workers comp (or FMLA, for that matter) doesn’t insulate you from adverse employment actions that would have taken place otherwise. I do agree, however, that a consultation with a workers comp attorney would be a good thing. If there is any chance whatsoever that you will have an degree of permanent impairment, you need a good attorney advocating for a settlement for you.

    7. Jade*

      I’d be curious how other employees have been disciplined for similar errors. Were there people in the past fired for the same thing? Is it protocol to give warnings for such things before termination? A lawyer is in order here, I think. Hopefully they could help you decide if you have a case.

    8. kbrew*

      I don’t know about your state, but in my state (I used to be a workers’ comp litigation defense legal assistant), you can still be fired for any offense, as long as it is not related to the injury. If you return to work, they have to accommodate for the injury (provide different work duties, etc.), but otherwise you are not protected. You are still entitled to your workers’ comp payments and to have your benefits covered. You may be able to argue that this is retaliation, but it’s rather difficult (and expensive) to prove. The timing sounds like retaliation, but it’s hard to tell, because I can’t see into their brains to determine what the errors are and what the impact those errors had on the business.

      Honestly, I don’t know how the organization would benefit from firing you for a workers’ comp injury, they have to pay regardless of whether or not you stay with them – they have to pay more if they can’t provide a meaningful return to work to accommodate the injury, but it’s not very much more. (Again, this is based on knowledge of my state.)

    9. Observer*

      Talk to a lawyer. But, if they found actual mistakes, you are going to have a hard time proving your case, unless you know that others have made similar mistakes, the company knew about it, and didn’t react so strongly. In the normal course of events, it’s quite common that the work of someone that’s out for a while gets a good look over, and that’s when error show up. Employers are allowed to act based on that information, even though it’s during a leave period.

  22. Amber Rose*

    I have a story to tell.

    Wednesday evening, I noticed it was 4 minutes to close and decided to pop into the bathroom quick before making the long, long commute home. When I emerged, the lights were out. The building was silent. I walked forward with trepidation, knowing what would happen next but not sure what to do about it. Sure enough, as I got within a couple feet of the door, the security alarm started blaring. I was locked in the building.

    It was at this point my panicked mind debated: call 911… or email AAM.

    Neither of these are the correct response mind you, it’s just apparently where my mind goes now in work related panic scenarios. Also now, two days later, I imagine sending that email and Alison’s face as she logs in the next morning and sees “locked in work building, please advise” in her email, and I laugh a little. AAM sure attracts some weird questions.

    Anyways, I figured the police or someone would show up and I was really upset at maybe being arrested, but nobody showed. And then the alarm turned off. I left through a side door, as they are not alarmed (why didn’t I do that first?! Oh, hindsight), and then realized I couldn’t lock the door behind me. Afraid I’d be stuck there all night, I sat on the steps and indulged in some hearty sobbing. The end of which is roughly when my boss showed up, expecting to encounter broken glass or a thief and somewhat bewildered to instead find a weeping employee.

    My boss is a fundamentally good person, and he apologized for locking me in and gave me his cell number for future emergencies, and all’s well that ends well.

    I’m still horrifically embarrassed about the whole scenario though.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’m surprised an office that has that much security also has side doors that have to be locked with a key from the outside!

      I came pretty darn close to being locked in at a Major Retailer once. I don’t know what I would have done. This was a million years ago, before cell phones.

      1. Amber Rose*

        All the doors are locked solely with deadbolts. I have a key, but it was cut sort of recently and for whatever reason, I could not get it to lock the door.

    2. Annie Moose*

      Oh no! I’m so sorry for the situation, I would’ve been as freaked out as you, but now you have a really funny story for the future! It’s not like there was much you could’ve done to change the situation–you were literally locked in! You couldn’t possibly stay there all night. :)

      1. Amber Rose*

        I called my husband, he was gonna show up and try to break me out. Or at least keep me company. =P

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Calling the non emergency police line would have been the correct thing to do, if you hadn’t been able to get out the side doors. :) Now you know, and you know your boss will be on his way, but I bet he will be really careful about this in the future.

          1. Amber Rose*

            Actually, the best thing to do would have been to answer the phone, which immediately started ringing when the alarm went off. I was worried it was a customer but realistically, it was probably the alarm company wondering what the heck. Then they could have relayed to my boss what was going on and he could have just called me with instructions instead of driving all the way back.

            But this was definitely a learning experience! I would do lots of things differently, not that I plan to do this again. xD

            1. Case of the Mondays*

              Usually they have a safety word they expect to hear to know it is not actually the robber picking up the phone. Ask your boss for it.

    3. DCGirl*

      I was recently working on a Saturday and used the restroom. When the toilet flush (it’s the electronic, auto flush kind) a valve broke and the toilet started spraying water everywhere. I was finally able to locate a cell phone number for the company’s facilities manager, who called the building management company, who finally sent someone out, by which time there was three inches of water on the floor of the restroom. On Monday morning, everybody in the company received a card with after-hours emergency phone numbers to keep at their desks or in their wallets or whatever. But, yes, I was practically in tears before the janitorial staff finally showed up.

    4. zora*

      Oh no!!! That is so horrifying but also kind of funny! I’m sorry you had to deal with that, I probably would have been sobbing on the steps, too. But thank you for sharing! Hope you have a relaxing weekend to recover. ;o)

    5. Leelee*

      Argh you poor thing!
      This happened to me but with a candidate in the building! After business hours one of the managers and I interviewed a high level candidate that we were trying to entice away from another local company, so it was on the quiet. Interview went well, we all stood up and shook hands, I opened the door of the meeting room to show her the way out and EEEP-EEEP-EEEP! Loudest alarm known to man goes off and we discover the lights are all off the floor.
      Honestly it looked like we had planned one of those awful stress tests things for her. I dove into my giant handbag, going through three sets of keys before grabbing the ones with the fob to unset the alarm, and ran the length of the floor to get to the panel. All the while trying to do a calm “gosh, I promise we’re actually professional please don’t panic” voice. After that, to let her out I had to get through four locks on two fire doors.
      Then the police arrived.

      Funnily enough the candidate actually still wanted to work with us. I guess she figured nothing could be as stressful as her interview.

      1. zora*

        HAHA!!! yours is a pretty good story, too! Yikes, this is making me nervous just hearing about it!! haha!

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Aww! Oh no! Don’t be embarrassed. That must have been really scary. Your boss probably was even more embarrassed–I’m sure he wishes he’d checked the building before locking up.

    7. GraceW*

      Wow–these seems to be happening to a lot of people! I think I read about this somewhere else, too.

    8. Mookie Ball*

      I noticed it was 4 minutes to close and decided to pop into the bathroom quick before making the long, long commute home. When I emerged, the lights were out.

      I read the “4 minutes to close” line as meaning it was 4 minutes to quitting time, that is. 4.56pm. I can’t believe this is a workplace that completely, literally, shuts down at 5.00pm.

      Am I missing something here?

    9. Fiona the Lurker*

      My poor husband got accidentally locked in somewhere during his first week in a new job; there were two pairs of doors and he’d gone out through the first pair and they’d closed behind him before he realised that the outer pair were locked and had alarms on. Unfortunately the first pair now wouldn’t open, so he was trapped in a lobby with no way out. Fortunately there was a phone available so he called the police and got them to alert a keyholder; he wasn’t there more than about an hour altogether. In the morning his bosses apologised profusely for their oversight in not giving a proper orientation tour of the building.

  23. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    Last week I shared that I’d gotten a calendar invite from my grandboss with the subject “Topic to Be Shared At Meeting.”

    I had the meeting on Wednesday, and it was about a reorganization of my department. I’m transitioning to a new manager, who I’m really excited to work with — and I’m excited about the team that’s being created.

    But it also left me feeling a little frustrated with myself, for missing some opportunities. I’ve been transitioning between roles (internally) and I wish that I had been more clear with myself, and direct with my boss and grandboss, about what I want. I’m excited about the people that I’m going to be working with, but I’ve been shifted away from the focus area that I’m most interested in. I hope that I’ll be able to find my way back!

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      I’m glad it wasn’t bad news! I totally understand your frustration; situations like this can really bring those feelings to the surface. But now you know, and you’ll be able to work on new projects, which may interest you more than you think.

  24. AMT*

    Is “annoying coworkers” a legit reason to leave a job after six months? There are other fact0rs (new job would pay better, duties sound slightly more interesting), but one of the main factors is that I’m in an open office and my coworkers chatter, sing, and play pop music all day. Realistically, this is not going to stop. Right at this moment, my coworker is trying to get everyone’s attention so she can loudly read us an inspirational quote. I’m going nuts, but is this a bad idea? I know I’d have to stay at the new job for a few years so I don’t look like a job hopper, so I have to make sure I’m making the right decision.

    1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      Annoying coworkers isn’t really a valid reason, in my opinion. But open office space is, LOL. For me, I will be annoyed by at least some coworkers regardless of where I go, but after working in an open office space for 4 months, I absolutely will never do that again. I tried things like noise blocking headphones, etc., but there were so many visual distractions as well that it was still hard for me to concentrate. Before you leave, I would try things like headphones, and seeing if you can work from home at least a couple days a week.

      1. AMT*

        It’s a healthcare job, so working from home isn’t an option, and headphones only address the noise (barely) and not the distractions (e.g. people trying to draw me into non-work conversations). But, yeah, open offices suck.

        1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

          Yeah, I totally get it. Some people are able to work in that type of environment but my concentration and focus are broken so frequently that it’s hard to really ever finish anything.

            1. notgiven*

              When I did my first instrument training, their hood was way too big for me. The only way to see the instrument panel was to hold my head all the way back and look down my nose.

      2. Karanda Baywood*

        yeah, but… “my coworkers chatter, sing, and play pop music all day”

        That’s a big NOPE.

    2. Morning Glory*

      Is this an existing offer, in hand? Better pay and slightly better duties sound like a good enough reason to leave on their own, if you don’t already have a job hopping resume and can absorb this one.
      But if culture fit is a huge factor for you have you done your due diligence to make sure the new job’s work culture is less annoying to you?

    3. Natalie*

      One short stay isn’t going to get you labeled as a job hopper. Is this your first job, or the umpteenth short stay?

        1. Natalie*

          I wouldn’t worry about that aspect at all, then. Just be sure to probe the work environment of your next place carefully, since you don’t want multiple short stays in a row if it can be avoided.

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      Finding a good office culture fit is important. Is your current office typical of your field? Does your line of work tend to attract high-energy people? I think it’s better to have an annoying office if it’s at least stemming from positive people who are being nice to each other, but it’s also grating so I feel you.

    5. Liz2*

      You don’t need any reason other than you want to do it. And no one else needs to validate your reason.

    6. Chaordic One*

      I certainly think this is a legit reason to leave a job, especially when you have such positive other factors such as better pay and more interesting duties (even if only slightly so). I think this is a good example of someone, such as yourself, not being a good fit for a particular job and it does not reflect badly on you at all.

    7. Tandar*

      An open office was one of the factors in my leaving a job after 3 months. I’d never worked in an open office before and thought it wouldn’t be a problem but now I know I need cube walls at minimum.

  25. F.*

    I have a post script to my rant earlier this week regarding the filthy conditions where I work. My female coworker and I have been keeping the ladies’ room clean. We are the only two females at this location. On Wednesday, one of the male managers used the toilet and peed all down the front of the bowl and left puddles on the floor! I don’t have proof, but have my suspicions about who did it. He is very passive-aggressive in most of his dealings, especially with women. I want to put a lock that requires a key on the door, but he picks locks, too. Yes, I know I need to get out of this place, but that is much easier said than done. TGIF!

    1. BizzieLizzie*

      how about cctv :) Ignoring the legalities of course – but you might not want to review the evidence in any case.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe put a sign up in the stalls that says, “If you pee on the floor/toilet, you must clean it up.”
      In order to complain about the sign he would have to be in the stall and therefore out himself as being the culprit.

  26. AdAgencyChick*

    Anybody here who successfully moved to another country as a “trailing spouse” who found a job in his/her line of work? (Or even people who tried and failed and have pitfalls to share.)

    My husband and I have discussed — we’re not going to do this unless we can BOTH get jobs, but there’s a nonzero chance it’s going to happen this year. Realizing that I am intentionally leaving out a LOT of details, what general advice/potential pitfalls do you have, hivemind? (I will say that we both very much like the city that we’d be asked to move to.)

    1. katamia*

      If you don’t speak the local language, try to get on that now.

      Also start researching the standards for resumes in the other country and see if, before you leave, you can find people from that country (I know lots of people hate Reddit, but with dummy information it might not be a bad place to look for this) to look over it for you and give you feedback.

      Basically, don’t wait until you’re there to start. Find out what the good job websites are for the country or countries that are being considered and start looking at the job ads there to see what people seem to want, whether you’d currently qualify for many of them, and whether there’s something you could do to help get better prepared for the jobs you want. If you’re interested in freelancing (and not everyone is), this might also be a good time to think about that, too, at least in the short term.

      1. College Career Counselor* might have some useful articles/advice for people transition to different countries. Sounds like an adventure–good luck!

      2. Epsilon Delta*

        My parents were in this situation, and because my mom (trailing spouse) doesn’t speak the local language and was not interested in learning it (it’s a tonal language that’s very difficult for English speakers to learn as adults), she found that the only jobs she was qualified for were teaching English as a second language to kids (which she was not interested in at all!). But if my dad was working somewhere that spoke English as the primary language, it might have been an option for her to work in her field.

        1. katamia*

          Oof, I know that feeling. Not a trailing spouse, but I took a job a couple years ago in a country where they speak a tonal language, and even though I did know a bit of the language beforehand (1 college semester plus private lessons before I left) and am confident that my accent was decent enough to be understood), it was ridiculously hard. I felt like I couldn’t do a lot of life basics because I couldn’t understand or make myself understood. The company I worked for recruited overseas and everyone spoke English there, but I was having a lot of health issues (physical and mental) and finally had to come back to the US because it was too overwhelming to try to deal with it in a language I didn’t speak well enough.

          (And I’m really good at learning languages, too–I’ve learned several in the past, although that was my only tonal one.)

    2. Sheep*

      Which type of country are we talking, and which kind of field? I think a lot depends on that.

      My husband and I are kind of trying to do that. We’re in different countries and trying to find somewhere where we can be together. Our strategy is really for me to get a job somewhere, and then him find something there. I think it’s easier that way, I’m a social scientist, whereas he is in IT.

    3. CAA*

      I don’t know if this will help, but I once hired a trailing spouse. Her husband was in a post doc fellowship at a local university and she was a software engineer. We were able to do this because she had a J2 spouse visa, which allowed her to work in the U.S. (Most other spouse visas do not include work permits, though that has changed recently for the H-1B.) It also happened that it was a foreign company based in their home country, so it was an advantage to have another person who was fluent in their native language and also had the cultural knowledge. When they eventually went home, she stayed with the company and now works in the main office.

      So, I guess my advice is a) make sure you have a visa that lets you work; b) consider applying at U.S. based companies that have offices in your new country.

    4. Grumpy*

      This happens quite often where I work.
      In my experience, if the trailing spouse is career-minded and aspirational it’s usually disastrous and the marriage breaks up or the main breadwinner leaves the job within a year or two to return to somewhere where they both have jobs they thrive in.
      I’ve seen it work if the TS is a nurse, never seen it work if the TS is a teacher.

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        I know two-teacher households (or teacher-headed households) who have made international moves work, but I also don’t know of any TS teachers who have successfully found work abroad – at least, not anything long term. My husband really wants to work abroad (we’re American and I’m a teacher), and I feel bad for basically shooting down the idea, but I just don’t see it working out for me, career-wise.

        [Someone I know actually just moved back to the US, without her husband (who is a national of the country where they were living – she is American) because in the five years they’ve been married, she hasn’t been able to find work (as a teacher) for more than 2-3 months at a time, and not at all in the past three years. (That country is not very generous with work permits for foreign spouses, which she knew when they decided to marry and settle there, but she believed she would be an exception.)]

    5. Tabby Baltimore*

      When I was an active duty military spouse in two foreign (European) countries years ago, I would’ve recommended reading Robin Pascoe’s Expat Expert blog. Unfortunately, Pascoe, the wife of a retired Canadian foreign service officer, has retired. I hadn’t looked at her site in a few years, but it is still up on the Internet ( After reading your question, I went to her site and saw that she’s posted some links to other sites you might find helpful in your search for information about working abroad. I tried looking at and did a search on “employment” (lots of posts on employment terms & conditions for various countries popped up) and on “finding employment” (also nets country-by-country listings), so these sights might give you a good start. I can also heartily recommend her books Moveable Marriage and Homeward Bound. I wish someone had given them to me when I first got married; if I had been more aware of what to expect, I think my emotional adjustments to the military’s nomadic lifestyle (especially re: our overseas tours) would’ve been a little easier to handle, I think. Best of luck!

    6. bex91*

      I just did and got a vaguely relevant job which has little progression. I can’t speak the language here so that’s a huge pitfall and it’s not a huge city so the demand for English speaking workers isn’t as high (plus my skills are quite specific and demand an English environment). It’s just going to be temporary for us so I don’t mind so much that I’m not moving forwards. I think a lot of research is important so you know what your chances are and what you aren’t prepared to deal with .

  27. Assistant Managing Editor*

    Chiming in here because I found a Managing Editor in the salary post, not under my usual handle, who wanted to talk further about the woes of the magazine industry in 2017. That being said, who else is in a dying industry and how have you navigated through/around it? I know my years in this world are numbered as titles get folded, staffs get consolidated and layoffs are a yearly occurrence (Ive already been hit with one). My skills are translatable to project management, but I don’t have my certification or practice in all those programs that job postings love to list as necessary.

    1. BigSigh*

      Ohh, I’m interested too.

      In 2009, the company I work for had an Editorial Director, a Senior Editor, and a Senior Editorial Associate.

      In 2012, it went down to an Editor-in-Chief and an Editorial Assistant.

      Now, 2017, it’s just an Associate Editor. Me.

    2. academic publishing*

      I sort of fell into this industry, but it’s been on a downward slide for the past ten years. I work for a major publisher, and our CEO has been making awful decisions, and this year’s earnings were worse than last year (no surprise). Layoffs keep increasing every year and I know there are more coming in the next few weeks.

      I’ve been looking to get out of this industry because there’s no future in it and the pay sucks, but the project management I do here is so vastly different from project management elsewhere. I’ve been taking classes offered, but I don’t want to get a degree in PM because that seems like a waste of money imo and I’ve never once seen a job ask for a master’s in PM.

    3. katamia*

      I’m freelancing sort of successfully right now, but I think as computers get more advanced most of what I do will be able to be done by computers. I’m going to keep doing what I do for now and trying to find better-paying clients, but I’m also looking at grad school within the next year or two to help me transition because with my qualifications as they are now, I won’t have much/anything to fall back on when my industry falls out from under me.

    4. Overeducated*

      My sector has never been rolling in money, but it didn’t look so bad until a couple months ago (let’s call it “cultural” to encompass the full range of government, nonprofit, and university players). Now I am waiting with great anxiety to hear about massive funding cuts and hiring freezes as soon as Monday. It really sucks because my spouse and I are both in different areas that may be affected, and we are both in soft money positions right now.

      What to do if my work ends up on the chopping block? Spouse will try to go into academia or consulting/contracting if at all possible, since his work is tangentially connected to medicine and tech so his prospects are better. I will cry a lot and maybe take a year or two off to have another kid, and then try to regroup and figure out a new direction I could live with and make money doing.

    5. University Business Systems Analyst*

      As a successful escapee from a dying industry (call center team manager to university business systems analyst), the best advice I can give you is to look sooner rather than later. While my old employer hasn’t moved everything overseas (yet), my contacts there routinely share stories of an ever shrinking management staff with ever increasing duties. Knowing that your skills would translate well to project management is a great start. Don’t let the lack of certification or experience with specific programs deter you from applying! When I started to look into other industries, I got plenty of interviews (and a few offers) despite not meeting the posted requirements. If you can afford it, consider taking a transitional job with a non-profit, as many non-profits are willing to work with someone who doesn’t meet every item on their wish list but has the big picture skills. Good luck!

    6. MissGirl*

      It might be too late for anyone to see this but I’m transitioning out of the book industry where I was the production editor manager. I’m taking business and information systems classes at night in a masters program. I’m hoping to transfer into business intelligence and data analytics.

  28. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

    I have a job where I work from home 100% of the time. I use my own phone, my own computer, my own office supplies, etc. While I am reimbursed for office supplies, I was wondering if there is anything I can take any tax deductions on using my office at home and all my own equipment which is typically provided by the employer.

    I did look on the IRS website but it kind of confuses me. It looks like I might be able to take a deduction on some things but I’m not sure if that applies only if I itemize my deductions. Anyone in the same situation, and if so, how do you handle it on your taxes?

      1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

        Okay, thanks, this is more clear. Looks like I won’t be able to do it simply because it’s unlikely my work expenses will equal more than 2% of my income.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      If your equipment (or home office space) is only used for work, you can deduct it. Given the risk of bad advice, though, I’d recommend talking to a professional. It’d probably pay for itself in you case.

    2. Sassy Sally*

      I know that if you’re using an online tax preparation service, there is a portion where they ask you about expenses not reimbursed by your employer!

    3. Stellaaaaa*

      I work from home on the HP mini netbook that my mom gave me for my birthday 6 years ago. Alas, I can’t deduct it as a work cost. I thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiink you have to have purchased it within the year specifically for the job. You can only deduct the cost of it once. I think.

    4. Rat in the Sugar*

      You can deduct all kinds of things, right up to a portion of your rent and utilities! You will need to look up IRS publications regarding home offices, specifically.

      FAIR WARNING: Home office deductions are incredibly tricky to navigate, so much so that they are a red flag with the IRS. Basically, so many people get it wrong that just having home office deductions on your taxes can get you marked for an audit, as they may just assume you messed it up. Get the advice of a professional!

    5. Lily Rowan*

      Definitely you can only deduct specific things (items) if you itemize your deductions. It might be worth checking to see if that would be to your benefit!

  29. Codex*

    How weird would you find it if you knew a coworker was writing notes to herself in cipher?

    Context: I have a whiteboard which I would like to use to keep track of my many current cases and their status. Because of confidentiality, I can’t use names. My preferred solution would be to write the names and case info in a cipher I made up, so that I could easily understand it but no one else would. But I’m worried that it would interfere with an already-weird person’s ability to fit in.

    An alternative would be to assign numbers to the cases or use very vague descriptions, but this would be much harder for me to remember and understand. Note, by the way, that no one else would be inconvenienced by not being able to read my personal whiteboard, so not like the guy who put Arabic entries on the group calendar.

    1. Temperance*

      Instead of cipher, could you use initials or just first names? Do you have to keep this confidentiality with your coworkers?

      I probably wouldn’t use my own special cipher for this, because I would worry, as an admitted and proud weirdo myself, that it would make me seem even stranger. I am strange, FWIW, and embrace it, but I try to fit in where I can.

    2. Spoonie*

      I’ve written notes to myself on a white board in a mix of three languages. However, I have at least passing understanding in all three of those languages (unlike our Google translate friend). If someone was really motivated they could have figured it out. So…I wouldn’t find it particularly unusual, but I would also understand your need for confidentiality.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      I wouldn’t find it weird at all! I don’t write in cipher, but I do write from right to left and from the back to front of a notebook when it’s something no one else needs to read (not because I’m being secretive, just because it’s easier for me). People comment on it if they see one of my notebooks, but no one seems to look at it as a negative.

    4. July*

      Not weird! I regularly see semi-public notes like what you describe that FILLED with inscrutable scribbles and abbreviations. Probably I wouldn’t even notice something was coded.

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        In our company there is so much jargon and acronyms that I can never understand other people’s whiteboard notes!

    5. Trout 'Waver*

      Not weird, imho. I, too, am one for organizing my thoughts on a white board.

      But, even with ciphers, other people might be able to get more information than you intend to share from your white board. Maybe you should upgrade to a white board that can be closed for when clients are in your office? Something like:

      1. Codex*

        Good suggestion! But I think the cipher’s safer than trusting myself to lock a thing every time I leave my office.

    6. Annie Moose*

      As long as you’re not doing this on a public whiteboard (and expecting people to not erase your stuff or something), I don’t see a problem with it. If anyone asks what it is, there’s no need to get into a big explanation if you’d feel awkward about it–I think just saying something generic like “oh, that’s just my system for keeping track of cases” would be sufficient explanation for most people. If they really press, you could just say it’s your personal shorthand or something like that. If you don’t make a big deal out of it, other people probably won’t either.

      Besides, I can’t decipher 90% of what my coworkers scribble on their whiteboards even when they’re using English!

      1. Annie Moose*

        I should mention that I had a somewhat similar experience once… I’m interested in ciphers and scripts too, and have had people comment on this a couple of times at work. Once, I was sitting in a meeting and took notes in a cipher just for fun… turned out the guy sitting next to me was creeping on my notes and afterward was like, “what was that, some kind of shorthand?” Me: “Um… yeah. Shorthand. Yes.”

        Another time, I had a notebook open on my desk to a page written entirely in one of these scripts. Some guy came by to fix something with my desk or hook something up or… whatever, and was like “OH WHAT’S THAT?” It was indeed super awkward, and I just sorta stammered something about it being a script I came up with. “OH YOU INVENTED THAT??” Yeah, kinda, it’s just how I write notes sometimes…

        But in both cases, even though I felt awkward about it, they were perfectly satisfied once I said something along the lines of “oh, just a thing I use for writing notes”. Most reasonable people aren’t going to demand specific details.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think the shorthand thing actually makes for a great answer — “oh, it’s just my own personal shorthand” is a framing that’s less likely to seem weird to people.

        2. AKJ*

          I used to do this when I was a teenager. In school and in church, of all places. (I went to a church where it was common to take notes during the sermon like you would take notes in class.) The main reason for it was because I’d get bored. I’d switch over to my cipher and start writing about things I found more interesting. It was usually gossip, my day, why I was mad at my friend – basic teenager stuff, but stuff I wanted to keep to myself. (Plus, I didn’t want people to know I wasn’t writing what I was supposed to be writing, of course!)
          When people asked, I just said it was my own personal shorthand and faster than writing normally, and no one ever questioned it. They already thought I was weird, though.
          It still comes in handy occasionally, although I use it much less now than I used to.

          1. Codex*

            Yeah, that was why I got really good at my cipher–no one respects a teenager’s privacy.

            Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! I’ll try calling it shorthand and see the reaction I get.

  30. Temperance*

    How much sick time is too much to take off?

    I took off one day last week and today for a sinus infection. I have a weak immune system and don’t want to make my coworkers sick, but I’m stressing because, well, I’m going to keep catching illnesses because other people come to work sick and infect me.

    1. fposte*

      How long is a piece of string? If you take one day off every week for the whole year, that’s going to be a problem everywhere; if you only take these two days off over the whole year, even retail and fast food will probably be okay. In between those two, it depends on your field and office culture; I don’t think of law as being a hugely absence-forgiving field, but I’m not in it. Can you do some work at home even when you don’t feel well enough to come into the office? If you’re just somebody who gets sick a lot, that might be the best approach to the problem.

      Unless you’re in an office where people stay home with colds, though, I wouldn’t factor contagion into the decision about the sinus infection–they’re all pretty much the same upper respiratory viruses. If your sinus infection has turned bacterial, that doesn’t seem to considered contagious at all.

    2. Hannah*

      Ugh, I hate when people come into work sick! Unfortunately offices spread illness around like wildfire, it’s just how it is and its unlikely any manager is going to sympathize with you taking off time because other people are sick and coming into work unless you have a very crippling disease where catching a cold can be life threatening (in that case I would find a job where you’re working from home more than not). Wash your hands, don’t touch your eyes, and steer clear of people if you hear them say you’re sick.

      1. Temperance*

        Around this time last year, I ended up in the ICU from catching a regular infection. I have a sinus infection right now that’s been going on for 2 weeks. I use sanitizer religiously and mostly stay in my own office, but it’s unfortunately not enough to keep me healthy.

        1. Hannah*

          Is it an allergy type situation that turns into a sinus infection? I live in Austin and the allergies here are awful during this time of year. I use the neti pot daily and have found it really helps keeping the sniffles from turning into something more.

          Also, do you take a lot of antibiotics when you’re sick? that can also be a cause of a weaker immune system.

          1. Temperance*

            I do have severe allergies that often cause sinus infections/bronchitis. It’s unfortunately not avoidable; I ride public transit, and it seems that every smoker or stinky perfume wearer has to sit near me. Secondhand and thirdhand smoke are my biggest allergies.

            My immune system is still recovering from fighting off a near-death infection last year, not antibiotic overuse. It’s getting better, but the constant weather changes here (PHL), abundance of mold, and cigarette smoke are not helping me. ;)

            1. Corky's wife Bonnie*

              I’m in the PHL area as well, and Hannah is right about the neti-pot. I had sinus surgery a few years ago and the ENT doc couldn’t say enough good things about using a neti-pot. I seem to suffer when it’s been wet and damp for a while with not enough sunshine to burn things up.

            2. Doodle*

              Not a doctor (and you should consult one!) but my doc actually recommended using the neti pot as soon as possible after being around an allergen like smoking—I’m also strongly reactive. It’s made a big difference in how long I feel gross afterwards. It also means I can go to concerts again! (Previously that one person over there smoking ruined the whole thing for me, even outside).

              So if you’re having trouble from the subway, you could use it at work. I’ll put in a plug here for using it in a private bathroom so we don’t get the next letter “My coworker uses a neti pot in our shared restroom…”

  31. Mirilla*

    I’ve been job searching for a year and recently had to put the search on hold when my mother became ill. Now I have medical issues going on so it’s on hold again until resolved. The past five years at this company have been some of the worse working experiences of my career. Small dysfunctional company, no formal hr, poor management, very low pay for my position with no hope of improving beyond small cost of living increases which everyone gets regardless of performance, favoritism, no acknowledgement for good work, unskilled highly paid manager who doesn’t like to do any work but knows how to make it look like he does, head boss who talks to almost no one so has no idea of what goes on and is unapproachable, etc. Please give me some stories of functional, fair, sane working conditions before I lose all hope in the working world.

    1. orchidsandtea*

      Oh, I can do this! Happy stories:

      My old boss phrased all corrections with an eye towards helping me be successful in the future. So never punitive or even irritable, just instructive and warm and full of belief in my ability to learn. Amazing man.

      My current boss lets me work from home 1 day a week just so I can have quiet to focus (and a little more sleep).

      She’s so impressed with how I’ve gone above and beyond that she said she’d give me a new title to put on my resume, and a letter of recommendation before I leave. (I’m a temp in an administrative role; she’s said I’ve taken the role so far that I’m halfway between admin and assistant manager.)

      My coworkers will pause anything non-urgent to explain things to me or to each other, with good cheer and a genuine willingness to help.

    2. Cranberry*

      One minor thing that I always appreciate: my boss is very conscious of acknowledging who did the work on everything, even in minor, passing comments. “Cranberry sent the documents to the other associate…”, “We put together this dossier already- Cranberry and Blueberry worked on the fruit list” , etc. It’s nice to hear that my boss knows everything that I’m doing and acknowledges even the little things that I complete.

    3. Ama*

      I’m at a medium to small nonprofit, which is an area that can be notorious for expecting excessive buy-in from its employees while giving little back in compensation and that has not been the case here. This place truly believes in a workforce that is well compensated (for our sector, anyway) and professionally fulfilled, and while they do try to keep high performers with merit raises and promotions as much as possible, they are realistic about the fact that our small size means some people may have to go elsewhere to advance their careers and don’t badmouth people who do. It’s also very supportive to people who have to use their FLSA for any reason and great with flex time/work from home arrangements (which, though obviously great for the parents that work here, are applied in a way that doesn’t favor employees with kids over those without).

    4. Baker's dozen*

      The charity I work for rents a room in a building shared with loads of other charities. Our office building was closed over Christmas/New Year. Most of my colleagues took the time as annual leave and had a long break.

      I’ve only recently started so I didn’t have enough leave built up. I didn’t want to borrow leave from 2017 so I opted to work from home. My new boss explicitly suggested two or three tasks for me to do “because they’re the sort of thing you could do while watching a film in the background”.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Hang tough. I am most fortunate right now to have a good boss. She knows that I have me and my dog, that’s it. One day, I said to her, “Something is wrong with my dog….” I never finished the sentence. She said, “Go home. Get out of here.” The next day she was delighted to hear that because I left early, I found a vet-chiro and my little buddy was doing much better. It felt like she was in my corner and rooting for me.

    6. spocklady*

      I have one! I had an opportunity come up for a new project that grandboss approached me about; he told me he had talked to my boss first who said “sure go talk to spocklady.” He said to think about it and gave me a real deadline of when to say yes or no. He also encouraged me to discuss with boss.

      I went to talk to boss about it, and he told me that he told grandboss when asked “no, she doesn’t have time, but you should mention it to her anyway because I don’t want to deny her the opportunity if she wants it.” We figured out a way that I can probably make it work, so I said yes. I’ll find out yet if that was wrong, but I’ve been really really appreciating boss’ ability to help me protect my time so I don’t burn out. There are good bosses in the world, hang in there!

  32. Lady Julian*

    Thoughts on the viability of an MLIS degree? I was accepted into an online program run by a university on the West Coast; it’s a very strong school with an emphasis in theory and information literacy, so hopefully the degree is transferable outside the library world. Curious what your thoughts are on pursuing this degree at this time.

    1. mskyle*

      Don’t get an MLIS with the intention of using it outside of library land. I mean, I have a library degree and I don’t work in libraries anymore, so it’s not like a library degree *stops* you from doing anything. But it’s a professional degree and it’s intended for people going into the profession and it mostly only has value within the profession.

      If you really, really want to be a librarian, get an MLIS. Otherwise, don’t. And know that even if you get the MLIS there is no guarantee that you will get full-time, living-wage work in library.

    2. Records Manager/Librarian*

      Don’t do it. Everyone has different experiences, but from my point of view, it’s not worth the time or money it costs, and you will most likely struggle to find a full-time, permanent job anyway. And unless you’re doing things like human-computer interactions or something more tech-related, library courses are not particularly transferable to other fields. The job market is over-saturated. Theory is nice or whatever, but having relevant work experience is what actually matters. Unless you do/can/will work in a library it will be impossible to find a job with just a degree. I have encouraged numerous people to consider other options. Before you jump in, do you research about what recent graduates are going through in terms of finding work. Twitter and various library school blogs and list serves have a lot of information. The schools never tell you how bad the job market is. Take it from someone who’s been there. I got my degree in 2011. It took 8 months to find a job. It was a terrible job. After I quit it took about that long again to find another job, tangentially related.

    3. fposte*

      This is information the program should have at its fingertips for you, so be sure you ask them.

      About a third of our LIS graduates aren’t working in academic, school, or public libraries, but my impression is that they’re still preponderantly working in jobs with librarian-type titles, so I’m not sure if that’s what you’re thinking of transferrable or not. There are a lot of people on the InfoSci side who are competitive for computer science-type jobs in the private sector; it depends on your school whether those are differentiated by degree or not, but that’s something to consider in your course path if that’s a goal that interests you.

      While many of the schools are nationally known in the LIS world, regional impact is a big deal for stuff like this, like if there’s an established industry pipeline for grads with some corporations, for instance. But really, this is a discussion to have with student affairs at the program, and they should be able to give you some good information.

    4. pinyata*

      I wouldn’t necessarily trust the school to tell you the truth about how hard it is to find a job after you get the degree, and how oversaturated the market is. They want your money, after all.

      If your goal is not specifically to be a librarian, and that’s why you want something transferable outside of the library world, I would look for a program that includes the skills you’re looking to learn that is not an MLIS.

      Unless you are willing to move anywhere for a job, and are willing to apply for just about anything and everything, you will have an incredibly hard time finding work that is permanent, full-time, and a living wage. I have an MLIS but am still a paraprofessional, and there are TONS of non-librarian staff members at my workplace with the degree.

      1. katamia*

        Not the original commenter, but when you mention programs that include the skills that aren’t an MLIS, are you talking about masters of information science-type programs or something else? (I’m also looking at library school but am also open to other options.)

        1. pinyata*

          Oh, I wasn’t really sure, just a general comment to address the desire to transfer skills from the MLIS to another field. I didn’t really know what those skills might be. I’m not familiar with a Masters of Info Science apart from those offered through library schools. The only thing I can think of that might transfer is if you really focused on technology and data curation, things of that sort. I can’t help but think there’s got to be a better program that’s more focused technologically if you wanted to get into that type of work outside of the library world. The theoretical work might be broader too, not so library-specific.

          1. katamia*

            Ah, thanks for the clarification. I’m still in the “researching schools and programs/narrowing down exactly what I’m looking for” phase, and the masters of information science programs I’m coming across are mostly offered through library schools, too, although I think I might have come across a couple that were offered through a business school.

            1. pinyata*

              Looking at the thread you started further down, looks like I might be wrong on skills not transferring or being valued when part of an MLIS as opposed to another program. That’s good to know!

    5. Liz2*

      I know quite a few and the stories are all pretty much the same “It’s an awful exhausting industry with little to no payoff if you eventually manage to find a spot, but I love it and it’s my passion so it’s worth it.”

    6. AnotherLibrarian*

      I did an in-person program, met amazing people, build a great network of fellow librarians who I still contact regularly when I need help and ended up with some wonderful mentors. I think I have the best job in the world.

      The things I would consider:

      1. Do you have library experience? And if not, how will you get it? It is very hard to compete in the job market against those with library experience if you have none. Last entry level job our academic library had, we had over 80 applicants. All of them had an MLIS.

      2. Are you willing to move? I always tell people this: You can be picky about where you work, or you can be picky about where you live. In this field, you usually can’t be picky about both. I have a job in the field I wanted to be in, but it took moving literally across the country.

      3. What type of librarianship do you want to do? It’s a huge field. What I do all day in the Special Collections world is super different from what my friend the Children’s Librarian does all day which is super different from what my other friend the Business Librarian does all day. Everything from salaries to how the jobs are advertised to if you need a second masters degree beyond the MLIS is defined on which type of library work you want to do.

      1. Tuckerman*

        Yes. All this. I’d also add, are you willing to get a second Master’s degree so you can specialize, and also learn some programming skills?

    7. JMegan*

      My experience is a bit dated – I got my MLIS-equivalent in 2000, so take it for what it’s worth. But everyone in my cohort has been working in the information management field since graduation. Some are librarians, but many are not. I’m a records management/ privacy analyst, and others are archivists, business analysts, NFP prospecting researchers. is a good place to look for job titles and other info on career prospects in the information management (not library) world.

    8. bb-great*

      What kind of jobs are you thinking of that have theory and information literacy as transferable skills? When someone talks about transferable MLIS skills they’re usually talking about technology-related things, in my experience. I would think theory and info literacy are some of the more library-specific things you would learn in library school.

      In any case, I echo everyone else that it’s a bad job market (and may get worse in the current political climate) and even if you do find something, the degree is a lot of time and money for a career that’s not typically very well paid. And the degree is really meant to prepare you for a library career, so I wouldn’t go into an MLIS unless you (really, really, really) want to be a librarian.

    9. spocklady*

      Yeah, I hate to pile on here, and my experience might be a little outdated (got my MLIS in December of 2009) but everyone’s advice here is good. Unless you really want to be a librarian, and you ideally already have experience working a library job, the MLIS is not a good degree to get.

      Some things I’ve seen/heard of people doing with them outside of libraries include working in records management or archives for private companies, but a lot of people spend time cobbling together jobs that are not full-time, don’t pay well, and/or are otherwise non-ideal.

      If it makes a difference, I used to hear from folks at my MLIS program that it was an aging profession, so there would be all these jobs opening up, but for the most part that hasn’t happened. It will always seem to be an “aging” profession because lots of people come to it as their second or third career. And while many have recovered enough from the Great Recession that they feel like they can retire, many jobs are being consolidated or just aren’t getting re-posted at all. The market is a little better than it was, but it’s still tough. Good luck whatever you decide.

    10. Marmalade*

      I pretty much agree with the others above.
      Here are several questions to ponder.
      1. Do you have experience working in libraries?
      2. Do you have PAID experience working in libraries?
      3. Is the degree cheap/free?
      4. Are you willing to move for a job, potentially cross-country?
      5. Are you tech-y and willing to learn to code (or already know how)?
      If your answer to more than one of the above is ‘No’, then I wouldn’t recommend doing it.

    11. Library School Dropout*

      I currently live in a very rural community. Until just recently the only person in the county library system who actually had an MLIS was the county director who oversaw 3 small city libraries. Within the last 2 or 3 years, 2 of the city libraries had directors with MLIS degrees.

      What I hear from one of these people is that they are doing a lot of work with finance, business and personnel; but they aren’t getting to do the kind of fun library things that they had hoped to do.

      The other ones are glad to be able to get the experience of doing things at a higher level and are hoping that in the future their experience as directors at small libraries will translate into working as a director at a larger library in a larger (more attractive area) than where they live now.

    12. cynical librarian*

      What do you want to do outside the library field, and is there another potential path into it? My library school talked up non-library jobs endlessly, but the fact is that there are much cheaper and more effective ways to get into prospect research and records management, if that’s truly what you want to do. I also got very cynical about the way that librarians are so protective of their own jobs (“You could never ever possibly do a librarian’s work without an MLIS!”) and simultaneously want to encroach on other fields (“We’re really social workers, teachers and librarians!” “You can be a business analyst with this degree!”).

  33. JustaTech*

    Is there any trick to getting past the black hole of online applications, particularly to local government jobs? So far the only response I’ve gotten beyond “we have received your application, do not reply” was a single rejection in less than 12 hours. (I had to check “no” on part of that application.)

    I have no idea who the hiring manager is (although maybe I could dig around on the website and make a guess based on department?) or how long the process usually takes. Like, I’m pretty sure the job from March closed, but what about one from November?

    I don’t want to pester and make a bad impression, but I feel like I should do more than throw an application (with a pretty good cover letter, thanks!) into the abyss.

    Am I missing something? Or is this just how it works?

    1. fposte*

      In my experience, this is just how it works. The only workaround is if you have an existing network to talk to–if you hunt somebody you don’t know down, it just looks like you’re cutting the line.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Honestly, it’s just how it works. Government jobs can take months to fill (my sister got her job offer 13 months after her interview). Example: we hired a project manager and agreed to let him start in two months. But we didn’t take down the online posting until a few weeks after he started in case he pulled out during those two months. Or sometimes there will be funding complications and things need to be postponed while the issues are worked out – so there will be a 3-month delay before things start up again. There are so many things that can happen to cause things to take forever. But I do not advise looking up names and calling people. Just assume the process will take months and that you might never hear back one way or the other.

    3. LQ*

      I’ll repeat the this is how it works. (My local government is big on keywords so make sure you’re doing a good job to match your resume to the job.) And throwing in an application with a good cover letter is exactly what you need to do. If you’ve only applied for 2 jobs unless they are incredibly in demand then it’s just a numbers kind of game. Keep going, keep looking.

    4. BRR*

      This is just how it works. Trying to find the hiring manager to contact them directly is common advice that’s bad. There was a letter this morning touching on it. I understand the feeling of wanting to do more but the best you can do is write a good cover letter and resume, and if you have an existing network to utilize.

    5. JustaTech*

      Thank you all so much. I figured that this was just a waiting/numbers game, but other people in my life who work in very different industries were concerned that I hadn’t heard back and suggested that I try reaching out.

      So far all the jobs have had specific closing dates, which also makes me nervous that they have a specific person in mind and are only posting the job because of some kind of rule. But there’s no way to tell so I’ll just keep applying and try not to get my hopes up.


      1. Gene*

        For local government jobs, there is no trick to getting past the system. And all our jobs (other than things like Director and those that are continuous recruitment) have specific closing dates. Typically, the applications aren’t even screened until after the window closes.

    6. Sparkly Librarian*

      I applied to a city government job mid-June, and I got a confirmation email like what you’ve described. In December I got a form email asking for an additional document, and I got the “Congratulations, your application has been scored and you are now on the list” email yesterday. More than 6 months later. And I already work for the city. It just seems to be how it goes, the abyss. If it looks back, it might be half a year later.

  34. Mimmy*

    The post the other day about the employee with OCD requiring excessive accommodations really gave me a new appreciation for issues surrounding disability accommodations. I have both personal and professional interests in this area.

    On the personal side, I have some documented disabilities that have made finding and keeping employment very challenging. I respect that accommodations must be reasonable, so the challenge has been figuring out what type of work would allow my skills to flourish rather than me trying to figure out how to accommodate my disabilities. I don’t want an employer to feel like they have to fundamentally change the job or their policies for me. It’s been frustrating, to be honest. I’m not being lazy, I promise. I just want to do well and steadily contribute to household income (my husband has a well-paying job).

    On the professional side, I have developed an interest in the ADA and accessibility, which includes programmatic accessibility (reasonable accommodations in employment, auxiliary aids and services for public and private services, e.g. postsecondary education, social services). When I took the Strengths Finder assessment a few months ago, one of my strengths showed a love of information and suggested developing areas of expertise…I was like “YES!!” lol. I already have quite a bit of knowledge of the ADA and other disability-related laws. My long-term goal is to use and grow that knowledge on a professional level.

    Being on both sides of the desk, so to speak, I think that I can offer a very unique perspective in the area of accessibility and disability accommodation. The trick now is to get myself on the right path before I get too old, lol (I’m 43). I know this is a very niche area, so I recognize that I need to start with something unrelated but that offers transferable skills.

    1. Manders*

      It’s awesome that you’re interested in accessibility! My mom recently developed a condition that requires her to use a wheelchair, and wow, it has given me a new appreciation of how awesome disability advocates can be.

      I found myself wondering as I was reading the thread: how has the trend towards open offices changed the way disability accommodations are handled? I’m already an open office hater, but I was struck by how many of the suggestions were “put the employee who needs accommodations in her own office/let her control her own space” when I’ve never actually worked in a place where that would have been a possibility.

      1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

        I was fascinated by that as well! I have PTSD and the thread prompted me to look up what reasonable accommodations are for that. I’ve never requested accommodations but many of the things suggested are things that would have helped me so much – especially when I had to work in an open office space, since noise is a huge trigger for me (to the point where i have literally screamed/yelped when someone has approached me when I wasn’t expecting it, ha – it’s so embarrassing.)

        1. Evil Edna*

          I have PTSD and work in an open office (I’m in Britain where having your own office isn’t really a thing in most jobs). I happened to be given a desk that few people walk past but if not I might have asked to move. I don’t like wearing headphones for long periods of time and don’t find them a reasonable solution to noise as cutting off one of my senses makes me feel more unsafe and disconnected from my surroundings.

          My accommodations are:

          – I can take a few minutes out, eg go for a short walk or sit in the kitchen, if I’m feeling overwhelmed.

          – I can work from home for a day if the office is getting too much.

          If someone startles me from behind I ask them not to do that again as I startle easily. That’s helped too.

    2. Mimmy*

      Well how ’bout that – just as I posted this, someone called inviting me to apply for a job working with visually-impaired students on the computer!

        1. Mimmy*

          Thanks guys, but I haven’t even gotten an interview yet! lol. But it’s pretty cool that someone actually suggested me as a possible candidate.

          This job is admittedly out of my comfort zone, but I still applied because I do see some possibility of gaining transferable skills and experience. Plus, I know a lot of the staff at this place, so it won’t feel so “cold”, which would’ve heightened my anxiety.

          My resume has been forwarded onwards, so we shall see. If nothing else, I’ll get some interview practice (if called in) since it has been awhile.

          1. Basil Thyme*

            I was doing some training on accessibility for an online community (which included a link to “100 Web Tools for Learning with a Disability” from College and they did a section on visual disablities. We downloaded NVDA (a free open source text to speech tool) and used it to run our computers and check out websites and so on. It was an exercise intended to give our (mostly) sighted volunteers an idea of what visual impairment would feel like, and it brought up all kinds of little details.

    3. AKJ*

      I lost three jobs due to my own ADHD and anxiety before I even knew I had either – it was only after a visit to a counselor after I lost job #3 when I was diagnosed, and it was like a light switched on for me. Once I understood the way my own mental issues affected me, I was able to take the steps I needed to learn what accommodations I needed as well as better strategies for how to be effective in a work environment other than just “work harder and pay better attention.”
      My current employer is very attuned to accessibility and disability accommodations, as one of the missions of our organization is to help people with disabilities (among other things). It’s amazing what a difference it makes, not only to have a sympathetic employer, but also to get the right diagnosis and the right accommodations. None of that would have been possible before, because I didn’t even know what I needed or how to ask for it!
      One of my own long-term goals is to work in the area of my organization that assists people with disabilities, in educating employers but also in educating employees – it seems like such a simple thing, “ask for accommodations,” but that doesn’t help if you have no idea what you need to help you do your best work and become an asset to an employer. Sometimes the simplest things can make a huge difference.

      1. Mimmy*

        EXACTLY!! I think this was my problem in a job I had just out of grad school. My supervisor said “let us know if you need any accommodations”. I honestly thought I wouldn’t need much more than the existing magnification devices I already owned, but the job ended up being cognitively demanding due to having to multi-task–something I struggle with–and just keeping up with the workload. Juggling calls and trying to send out information packages was not easy!!

  35. justsomeone*

    I’m ready to scream. I posted a couple weeks ago about my schedule getting moved from a semi-flexible early shift to a rigid 8-4:30 shift. I tried pushing back on it this week and my director doubled down on it. I’m done. I’ve started putting out applications but I know my resume needs work. But every time I look at it I just get overwhelmed and feel lost. So much of what I do isn’t really quantifiable beyond “organized 18 meetings a year” or “produce all copy for monthly newsletter.”

    Are there any resume review sites that aren’t scams and run less than $100?

    1. Temperance*

      You’re thinking of it in just numerical value. What are your other duties? Do you do administrative work, or reception work, or some combination?

      1. justsomeone*

        No, I don’t do any reception work, thank goodness. They tried to rope me into doing some of that two years ago and I resisted (gently, but effectively).
        I’m in “marketing” but it’s really more internal communications. Newsletter, charity program, yellow page advertising, social media (which I hate and want to move away from) and some other random.

        I list my duties, but it’s really hard to frame them as accomplishments.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Personally, I think “what I did” is your accomplishment. You organized meetings (you might need to be more specific – what’s involved in that? Securing a space, handling technical needs, producing handouts, etc?). You wrote copy for a newsletter (what kind of copy?). You coordinated advertising. I wouldn’t be looking for numbers if I were reviewing your resume. I’d be looking for skills.

        2. Liz2*

          I start with verbs “maintained” “acted as” “responsible for” “coordinated” “managed” “created” then I let it spool from there.

          You’re marketing yourself here!

    2. checkin in*

      Do you know anyone socially who works in recruiting or HR? When I recently started job hunting, I asked around on my online social networks and found a friend who was willing to look at my resume for free.

    3. orchidsandtea*

      Remember the question, “What distinguishes someone who excels in the role vs someone who was just mediocre?” What were the ways you were good and helpful and skillful? How did you make the process more efficient? How did you make people’s days better? What are you proud of, looking back?

    4. Liane*

      Alison has addressed how to present less quantifiable job duties and accomplishments into a resume in articlea, at least one very recent.

      1. justsomeone*

        I know she has, but I’m struggling to take her advice and put it into practice. I’m very introspective, but when it comes to “marketing myself” in this context I really struggle and I’d like to tag someone else, who maybe doesn’t know me as well as I do to help look it over and ID gaps.

        1. Hannah*

 is an awesome site that has professional services starting at 5 dollars. There are tons of people on there who review and rewrite people’s resumes – with reviews of previous services. I got mine revamped for about 75 dollars but there are some that charge less.

    5. Alice*

      Try thinking about how you do your job better than some random person might.
      Also consider adding some context — were these 18 meetings 2-person chats or big events that required scheduling, catering, travel arrangements, etc.?
      Goals can be important context — what was the goal of the monthly newsletter? disseminating info, updating staff on new procedures, building camaraderie?

        1. Emac*

          That’s true; I know some of the people at the one near me who I swear must read this blog (or something like it), but there a couple of others I can imagine just trying to get through as many people as possible.

  36. Gotta Be Anonny*

    Someone in my office, Jane, lost one of her parents last week. I feel just awful for her and what she’s going through. It has however, raised some work-related questions for me. I’m several years into the ‘work world’ and haven’t experienced similar situations at any of the offices I’ve worked in before and I’m curious what other people have experienced personally or through coworkers.

    I work for a small company with no dictated bereavement leave policy, I’m not sure how common those are. Jane was going to come back to work almost immediately and then ended up taking several days off. I can’t help but feel that she wanted (and probably needed) to take more time off, but that she didn’t feel like she should/could. There were several comments made while she was gone about things not getting done since she was out, although no one actually said she should be back at work. They weren’t obviously aggressive comments but they weren’t compassionate either, sort of irritated. It’s also very possible that Jane couldn’t afford to take more time off. I know that I would be devastated in her position and would likely take quite a bit of time off. I even commented that I would do that and maybe even ask to come back part-time at first and that if I was told no to these things I would probably quit. And I probably would. I didn’t say these in a threatening way but it an I’d-be-so-emotional-I’d-have-that-type-of-gut-reaction way, which I made clear. I’ve struggled with major depression before and know such an event would send me spiraling. I got strange side looks. So, I’m curious what is the norm here if there is such a thing. Or what other people have gone through or seen happen.

    1. Temperance*

      A coworker of mine lost her husband in June, following a serious illness. My coworker took off two week after his passing, and was out for about a month while he was ill. It depends on the person and the workplace. My husband had 6 days off when I was in the ICU/recovering at home, and his company paid him out of their “emergency” fund.

      You would probably qualify for FMLA, assuming your workplace was large enough, so your depression is slightly different than just grief.

    2. fposte*

      Bereavement leave is really funeral leave, and some places call it exactly that. It’s time off to attend the funeral with, at some employers, one or two added days if you’re a really close relative who’s likely to be involved in planning the funeral.

      Because of the name, it can sound like there’s a custom of giving people leave to mourn and to recover. And there really isn’t. Obviously there are unexpected tragedies and family emergencies and individual approaches to grief, but the usual thing for a parental death is to take a few days of leave for the practical stuff and just work sad for a while. While it’s not true for every person in every job, I think that can be a good thing; it’s okay to grieve while you’re at your office, and it’s often a lot more therapeutic to get human contact and achieve forward-looking stuff than to get stuck in stasis. A shift to part-time would be really unusual, and a lot of workplaces couldn’t accommodate it (we couldn’t hire somebody to make up the difference, for instance).

      As Temperance says, if you’re suffering from depression that’s worsened by bereavement, that might be an FMLA matter, but otherwise grownups losing parents to natural causes is generally viewed as sad but part of the landscape.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      Coming back part time after losing a parent is definitely not the norm nor is taking of a lot of time. I think it would be a bit different for the loss of a spouse or child. Taking time off before someone’s death is more acceptable (I took caregiver leave when my dad was dying, but after he actually died I took about a week off to be with my mom). I think it’s pretty uncommon to see people take more than a week off when it’s a parent. I was sad when I came back but it was actually good for me to keep myself busy at work instead of sitting at home missing him.

      1. Myrin*

        I’m super surprised to hear that! I always thought (and keep hearing, although not in this particular situation) that parents, spouses, and children are the same tier, so to speak (sorry for phrasing that weirdly, I don’t know if there’s a specific English word for this).

        1. Temperance*

          Not trying to be classless at all, but I think spouse and children are a tier above parents. I can’t think of a more tactful way to say this.

          1. Natalie*

            I think general cultural expectations of longevity play a role here. We assume that it’s normal to lose a parent while we’re still alive and working, given the age difference. We don’t make the same assumptions about a spouse and definitely not about a child. So we expect someone who lost a spouse or child to be more shocked and maybe need more time to process.

            (Obviously I’m aware that people lose parents young, etc. I’m talking about tropes, not the realities of every single person’s life.)

            1. Myrin*

              Yeah, after posting my comment, I thought a bit more about it and came to that conclusion as well. I was also coming from the perspective of someone who has neither spouse nor kids but is very, very close to her mum, and probably let that cloud my expectations a bit.

        2. fposte*

          “Category” would be vaguely less hierarchical and therefore usefully euphemistic, but “tier” is pretty much how it works.

          I suspect Lily, like me, is talking about cultural expectations rather than work policies; we grant three days of bereavement leave for the death of parent, child, sibling, spouse, grandparent/grandchild; aunt/uncle, niece/nephew, and cousins are one day. But we’d still consider somebody losing their child a very different thing to their grandpop dying, and we would likely have different expectations of the level of prostration. (Yeah, some people were raised by their grandparents and some people were estranged from horrible adult children, but I think you get what I mean.)

          One of the things that happens as you start moving past early adulthood is that aging and death of cohorts’ parents is a part of regular life. It’s obviously still a personal and life-changing loss, but it’s more a sad rite of passage than a tragedy.

        3. Lily in NYC*

          They are the same tier for most office bereavement policies, but I just think people would be more understanding if someone took a few weeks off after losing a child/spouse.

      2. PK*

        I’ve had coworkers take more than a week for parents usually in the case where the deceased was the last parent still alive. I’m guessing there was a lot of things to do with the estate and dealing with that though.

        1. fposte*

          Plus often there’s a clearing out of the house. If you’re lucky that can wait for a bit, but often it really can’t.

          1. Corky's wife Bonnie*

            Exactly. When my uncle passed away, the next of kin, which was us since he had no children, were left with the task of cleaning out his house. Unbeknownst to us, he was a hoarder (we live a state away). It took weeks to clear out his house, while his lady friend that he lived with was able to leave us the mess, and take with her the money they had in their joint account that came from my grandfather’s estate. She didn’t even offer to help financially to get professionals to come in and help clear out (and we knew for a fact there was a great chunk of change in their account). It was an absolute mess, and my parents are retired so they were able to deal with it, but since I work full time I was only able to help over a long weekend. If they had been working, they would have had to take additional time off the bereavement to deal with this.

    4. Anon13*

      My experience has been slightly different than Lily’s. From what I’ve seen, 2 weeks is closer to the norm when a parent dies. A month or so seems to be about the norm for the death of a spouse or child. A lot of this depends on the individual situation, though – a former co-worker’s father died unexpectedly in his early 50s. She was in her early 20s. She needed and took more time off (about 2.5 weeks) than a co-worker at the same job who’s mother died in her late 80s after a long illness. FWIW, I’ve always worked places with generally flexible leave policies, so YMMV.

    5. LCL*

      Large government employer.
      1-2 days of paid leave for bereavement. It is expected you will take as much paid personal leave time to augment that as you wish, but you will tell your supervision how long you estimate you will be gone. That’s one of the incentives for not burning up all your leave on bluebird powder days.

    6. Stellaaaaa*

      Well it’s a good thing that your coworkers are speaking about it in a neutral way: they’re annoyed about the workload but they’re not blaming Jane for it. They’re acting appropriately in my opinion. Your world and work life can’t be put on hold every time a coworker you barely know experiences a loss. You get to an age/a point in life where you realize that you know so many people who have died. Loss becomes just a part of life. I wouldn’t say that you become hardened to it, but I do think the shock and lack of understanding surrounding death sort of fade away.

      I’ve never heard of a company allowing temporary part-time scheduling just so the employee can grieve, and I think you’d find yourself with very few options if you insisted on being offered that. Many employees with significant banked PTO are able to take the time off if they want but it’s not part of a bereavement policy.

      1. Gotta be Anonny*

        It’s a smaller company, around 20-30 employees. And I’d call it a family company as a significant number of people here are blood relatives. (It’s worth noting that neither Jane nor I are relatives.) I guess this is a case where a small, family company can offer benefits that larger or more corporate companies can’t. By that I mean that the owners are pretty understanding and can be remarkably flexible. When I had a parent unexpectedly go into the hospital for quite serious reasons, there was no issue whatsoever that I was gone for an entire week.

        I should clarify that I meant 1-2 weeks when I said I would likely take longer off. And perhaps it’s that I know working a modified schedule when coming back, even it that simply is the ability to leave early if a day is particularly rough , would be okay is giving me an altered view of what typically happens. It’s good to hear what I could expect working somewhere else.

    7. Tala*

      My old employee handbook had two weeks for ‘close’ relatives and left it up to the discretion of the line manager what a close relative actually was – some people would rally pretty quick after a parent dying, others would be devastated for months. There was flexibility around it and it wasn’t abused. Sometimes employees would take a lot of time through a combination of annual leave and compassionate leave.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      During the heavy losses in my life, working part time was not going to happen. I had a colander where my brains should be. That may be why people were staring at you, they were wondering how you even do a half day. I took a week when my father died. (I was responsible for everything- the funeral, the estate and whatever else. I rested up by returning to work, the job was easier.) My husband got sick while I was not working so time off was a non-issue. But I did wait about six weeks after he died, before I started applying for jobs again. It took about that long to start talking in full sentences and to sound semi-intelligent again.

      I will say this, if a person has a pre-existing health issue of any type then a hard loss can and probably will exasperate the symptoms that are already there. What this means is that your cohorts are not you. But the differences don’t stop there, grief can also be tied to the nature of the relationship between the employee and the deceased. If the finances are in disarray or if the family is arguing among themselves then these things can make huge differences in settings between any two employees.

      Some work places do not seem to understand that there are differences in how people experience loss. They have a standard approach and everyone must fit that norm. Not the wisest approach to situations that are so individualized. Additionally it is unwise because there is nothing like experiencing a loss to cause an employee to re-evaluate every single aspect of their lives INCLUDING the continuation of their employment with this employer. The better companies will try to make sure that their good employees have what they need when difficulties arise.

  37. July*

    I have a question about extra-curricular groups when you’re a non-traditional college student. I have one undergrad degree and, at the ripe ol’ age of thirty five, working on a second one as part of a career pivot. I also work full time and volunteer. I’m studying social work, and there’s a lot of departmental pressure to “get on board” with various student organizations. Many of them seem to be mostly social, and, frankly, I’m not super interested in spending my limited free time making stilted conversation with twenty-year-olds. But I also acknowledge I could be wrong and am missing out on a chance to build my resume and my network. Any advice?

    1. Alton*

      Maybe you could give a couple organizations a try for a meeting or two to get an idea of how they’re run and what the demographics are like. It might be awkward, but you don’t have to commit.

      But I also think that unless participating in those groups is required for your degree, there’s no harm in trying to get experience elsewhere.

      I can kind of sympathize. I was 23 when I transferred to a university after going to a community college, and I was a commuter student. Even just being a few years older and not having the same experience of being on campus and starting out as a freshman with everyone made me feel a little out of sync. That said, for what it’s worth, after I graduated I wished I’d participated more. It’s so easy to find informal volunteer and skill-building opportunities as a student, and there are things I was able to do as a student that I probably wouldn’t be able to do in the “real world” without more experience. But it’s tough, because a lot of those opportunities are easier to take advantage of if you’re a “traditional” student who lives on campus.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      I would suggest looking up your local young non-profit professional (YNPN) group. Also United Way (emerging leaders) is a great group to get involved in. I wouldn’t say that a college club is going to help you build your resume in a general sense. They might have some events that bring in speakers that would be helpful. Look for that. But general volunteering or parties? No.

    3. Temperance*

      Honestly, I think joining student orgs and getting on boards is an excellent way to build a resume.

    4. Liz2*

      There should be more intellectual groups, I’m surprised your own program doesn’t have an undergrad group you could help with. Take 20 min to peruse your college’s list of clubs (they love showing that off) and you might be surprised at a few you like.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I was 40 and I had a 25 mile commute each way. Like you, I did nothing with these social groups. But I should have done something that would build up experience or build connections with the outside world. Look around the school and see what you are willing to do- you are in daily contact with people right now. You won’t see them once you are done with your degree. Even if you can only find one or two contacts that are advantageous, you won’t regret putting the effort into it later. Look for ways to get unique experiences that you would not otherwise have. This could be internships or other hands-on work related opportunities.

    6. Emac*

      Could you start your own group for other non-traditional students? Or join graduate student groups, which might have a wider range of ages?

    7. AKJ*

      Is there a non-traditional students group at your school? I was a non-traditional student myself and I was involved in the group on my campus, which was wonderful – although I was the youngest in the group! (I was in my mid-20’s, the other folks were in their 30s.)
      I also got involved in the small group centered around a foreign language class – I started taking it to fill up an empty elective slot, and as it turned out only about twenty students at my university were taking that particular language at any level, and several were grad students or professors who were taking the class both for personal interest and to increase the numbers so the program didn’t get cancelled outright. We all ended up involved in the Language Club as well, participating at varying levels. I ended up sticking with it for three years because we had such a great group! (I also ended up with about six credits I didn’t need for my degree, but it was worth it!)
      It is definitely harder when you’re a non-traditional student – I actually went into my first semester thinking I wouldn’t have time for any extra curricular groups, I figured that was just an element of the “college experience” I’d have to give up because I’d started later. It took a while to find the right group, but I’m really glad I did.

    8. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Currently doing just that. Only I’m 54:-) I don’t bother with the clubs on campus. What I do get involved with is student activities with industry associations. Those are far more useful to me. The purely social activities don’t do anything for me and to be truthful I really don’t have anything to contribute to those situations.

    9. Dorothy Mantooth*

      Late to the party, but I would recommend seeing if there is a Social Work student club or something closely related to your major. At my college, there were social/activity student clubs but also industry/major related clubs. I joined a club directly related to my major and it was very beneficial. They set up tours of local companies, brought in industry speakers, and held networking opportunities. If you find an active club that is related to your future career I would take a closer look, but otherwise don’t join an activity club just to join something.

  38. Kirsten*

    What is counted as a ‘yes’ when asked on an application if you’ve ever been fired? Early on in my career, I was let go from a job during the five month probationary period but there was no misconduct involved (basically what they told me during the interview was not the direction they actually took the position, and it was not a good fit). I’ve always assumed I had to count that as being fired, but someone told me yesterday that I should not. It would certainly make things easier if I didn’t have to report it, but also don’t want to be dishonest.

    1. Dawn*

      To me that’s not “being fired” that’s “didn’t make it past the probation period” AKA “was let go”. Being Fired, in job context, means “You did something *bad*”. Not making it past the probation period is really normal and I imagine most of the posters here have an experience like that in their past.

      1. BRR*

        I disagree. Being let go is the softer version of saying fired. You can be fired for not being a good fit. It’s not as serious as being fired for theft so you can likely explain it but it’s still being fired.

        I also think with context, we know the employer probably wants to know if you have involuntarily left a job even if they’re not asking it that way. And if Kirsten moves forward and the potential employer later finds out what happened, it’s likely to hurt her chances.

    2. Sadsack*

      Sorry, it sounds like you were fired to me. If you have an opportunity to explain, it doesn’t sound so bad the way you explained it here.

      1. Kirsten*

        Unfortunately when online applications have no space to provide an explanation, it’s an easy way to get immediately rejected.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Am shaking my head. How many people have never been fired? I wish these employers lotsa luck.

      1. Kirsten*

        I’ve debated about just leaving it out, but then there would be an 11 month gap between my first job (which was a long term sub position) and when I was able to find my next job after having moved to a geographic area with minimal opportunities in my field.

        1. Natalie*

          How long ago were those jobs? Does the application specifically ask you to list all jobs, or is it more like a resume where they are just asking for relevant positions?

          1. Kirsten*

            About six years ago. If I were to list my jobs with years only, there would be no gap, but I know if I were a prospective employer I’d be suspicious if I saw that. Not sure about the wording on applications- I’m not currently applying for jobs, just curious about it for future reference after it was mentioned to me.

              1. Kirsten*

                Awesome, it is actually a relief to hear that. I assume I would still need to report having been fired if directly asked, but not having to explain it otherwise will make things much easier. Thank you!

      2. Alton*

        The challenge, I think, is that some online applications simply have a tickbox asking if you’ve ever been fired. Even if you got fired 15 years ago from a job you had for two months and would never dream of putting on your resume, it’s technically dishonest to check “no.”

        1. Kirsten*

          Yep, exactly. And I’ve applied for several federal jobs over the years, which have a section that makes you acknowledge under penalty of law that all of the information is true. That’s why I wanted to clarify things instead of just believing this person and starting to say I hadn’t ever been fired.

        2. Temperance*

          I’m not so sure that this meets the definition of a firing, though. She was let go during her probationary period … isn’t that more akin to them choosing not to hire her?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I’d consider it a firing. The probationary period just means that they’re exempting themselves from going through whatever performance improvement process they normally go through, but they already hired her.

  39. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    It turns out my hand is not broken after all! I fell on the ice and hurt it, was in a splint for two weeks, and had an MRI. Got results back yesterday from that and what they thought was a small fracture is just some really awful bone bruising. So it hurts just as bad, but since moving can’t make it worse, I have as much use of my dominant hand back as I can stand, and can stop worrying about work!

    And my wife is FINALLY back to work full time. I know mental illness is hard, but we also have to survive financially. On Wednesday I couldn’t even afford a 1.89 energy drink, and I almost cried at the checkout because I was so embarrassed.

    1. SophieChotek*

      Yay for you! I remember you wrote about that — I hope your hand continues to heal. Best to you!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I usually take some extra calcium for pain like that. And I take willow bark for swelling. Interestingly, getting this extra stuff into me seems to help lower worry also. FWIW.

      Anyway, am very glad your hand is not broken and your wife is working, so it’s not so frightening right now. I hope things continue to improve for you.

    3. Liane*

      Glad it’s not broken!
      And I feel for you over your wife’s problems. Still in a similar situation with my husband.

  40. Fireye2*

    I work closely with a local non-profit as the liaison between our two companies. Mostly this means weekly check-ins via email about program registrations, room reservations and keeping track of all publicity but sometimes this means in-person meetings and hosting/attending public events to share our services. This is considered part of my job so I obviously get paid for my time.

    This non-profit hosts an annual fundraiser. My “big bosses”, the board of trustees and directors, attend this fundraiser. For the past 3 years my director, at his personal expense, has given me 2 tickets to attend which I have accepted because the tickets are far more expensive ($95/ticket) than I would choose to afford otherwise. I usually invite my direct supervisor as the +1 since her support is key to being able to do this work. I am anticipating being given tickets again this year, but it’s an unspoken thing so I don’t actually know for sure until they show up. Just today, I received an email from the non-profit saying that I would be included in their recognition of volunteers at the fundraiser and therefore I “am encouraged to attend”.

    So, 2 questions:
    1. Since I’m not volunteering my time for any of this work, how would you phrase a reply to this email graciously thanking them but refusing the recognition? I know they are doing it to show their appreciation for our working relationship but I feel wrong accepting recognition as a volunteer when I’m not one, especially when ALL of my bosses will be there.

    2. I don’t particularly want to attend this fundraiser every year (it’s NOT paid time for me) and am hoping to be able to bow out of it next year. Considering the above contexts do you have opinions on how it would look if I don’t attend one year? How can I let my boss know that I am unavailable to attend in a way that would prevent him from purchasing the tickets for me, but doesn’t sound like I’m expecting that he will be buying the tickets for me again?

    Thanks in advance – you all always have the best advice!

    1. justsomeone*

      1 – let them show you recognition, that’s their call.
      2 – send an email letting your big boss know that you won’t be able to attend this year because a “family thing” came up that night that you just can’t miss. Be vague and make it about the /time and date/ rather than the money.

    2. Liz2*

      1- The issue with this is they are calling it volunteering. People get thanks and given gifts and extras for great work as recognition all the time, but it’s acknowledged as great work, not great volunteer. Perhaps a “Thank you but as I am not actually a volunteer, I wouldn’t want to take away from those giving their free time. I’m just not someone who likes the spotlight directly.” or such.

      2- Not attending one year is no big deal, no one makes every single event every single year over multiple years. You’ll just have to jump the gun at the start of the next years prep when the dates are announced “Oh Eric, I won’t actually be going to this years, just FYI.” Let the year after that take care of itself.

    3. Ama*

      On the volunteering issue, this feels to me like there was maybe a miscommunication and whoever is in charge of the volunteer recognition at the gala didn’t check with anyone who would know that you are not a volunteer. (Either that or they do want to recognize you for your assistance, paid or not, and used a template that wasn’t really accurate.) I’ve seen versions of both situations happen at our org.

      I would just write back and say you appreciate them thinking of you, but since your assistance is provided as part of your job at [Company], you feel awkward being thanked as a volunteer. If it is the second version (where they want to thank you anyway and just worded it poorly), that will give them the opportunity to clarify, and if someone’s misinterpreted your role that will correct it without too much embarrassment.

      As far as the second issue, I don’t think anyone at the org would think it amiss if you didn’t come every year, so I think the biggest sticking point is if your boss thinks it’s a necessary thing to do because of your relationship with the org (although if it’s really a requirement that you attend, they should be paying you if you’re non-exempt). Maybe you could suggest to your boss another coworker who might enjoy the opportunity to attend for a few years, since you’ve gone several years in a row? If your direct supervisor still wants to attend maybe she could pick her own +1 this year?

    4. Temperance*

      1.) I really do not think that you should refuse the recognition. It is a feather in your cap, and in the cap of your company. The org isn’t paying you for your time. Hence, you are a volunteer in their eyes. Your work matters, and you should accept this recognition.

      I work with nonprofits, and yes, our firms pay us for our time, but the nonprofits recognize us as volunteers. I received an award back in December, and was proud to accept it. You should be, too.

  41. Addison*

    I’ll try to keep this as not-political as possible, but…

    What kind of recourse do I have in not wanting to have them playing the inauguration on the lobby TV, which is positioned directly behind me and is extremely distracting? I’m happy to keep my opinions to myself, but I know it’s going to aggravate me more than the noise from the TV usually does on any average day (I have some trouble with noise distractions, especially TV/other people’s music, and adding politics onto that is basically my worst nightmare). I was just asked by the director to turn it on (specifically, to turn the inauguration on) even though there’s no one down here except a few admins working in their office. I have a sliding glass window that opens into the lobby behind me which I always keep closed to filter out background noise. I guess I can just keep that closed, close my office door, keep headphones all day, and… I guess not turn around to face the lobby ever?, but what I’d really like is to say something along the lines of “Would it be OK if we kept politics out of the office today” and leave the channel on something neutral, like the history channel, which is what it’s on now (for the moment I’ve semi-ignored the director’s request but that could quickly come back to bite me). Is that… something I can say, or am I just totally overruled by what the higher-ups want playing? :\

    1. July*

      I might say something neutral like “this inauguration coverage is really capturing my attention and making it hard to focus. Could we try changing to something else? I’m really eager to finish XYZ before the weekend.”

    2. fposte*

      If it were co-workers, you could say something. But the director–not just a random higher up, bu the director–explicitly wanted the inauguration–not just the TV, but the inauguration–on. I don’t know your org, so a little passive aggressive noncompliance may work out, but what you’re doing is technically insubordination.

      I think you suck it up, put on the channel requested by the director, and close whatever you need to close to get through the day. A lot of people have done this for inaugurations in the past, so it’s a time-honored tradition.

      1. New Girl*

        I agree with this. It’s only a few hours of the day. I would just put it on, maybe at a lower volume and do whatever you need to get through it.

    3. Annie Moose*

      Can you turn it on but surreptitiously turn the volume down? Sounds like he doesn’t work in the area, so he probably wouldn’t notice. (if he walked by, it’d be obvious by sight which channel was on, but he might not notice the volume)

    4. PatPat*

      This really isn’t something you can complain about since the director specifically wants to watch it.

    5. LCL*

      Well, I think it’s over now. I would turn on the TV, set up the closed caption, and turn the volume down. It is historic, I had the radio on in my office even though I might not agree with the politics of it all.

    6. Alice*

      I think you had to do what the director wanted but I also think her request was foolish. If I came in to your lobby as a customer and noticed that, I’d be thinking “do I need to be here or can I get this product/service from somewhere else?”

      1. Mookie Ball*

        If I came in to your lobby as a customer and noticed that, I’d be thinking “do I need to be here or can I get this product/service from somewhere else?”

        The news coverage of the inauguration would be a deal-breaker for your dealing with this company? Sounds too harsh to me.

        1. Alice*

          I didn’t say I’d turn around and walk back out – but I’d notice it and if there was a choice between, say, the bar showing politics and the bar showing sports, I’d go to the second.

    7. The IT Manager*

      This won’t be helpful to you. Who thinks TVs aren’t distracting? I always find them distracting. If I’m watching TV, I’m literally watching TV. If I’m not, I turn it off because no matter what it is even if it’s something terrible like those day time “talk” or judge/court shows, it catches my attention. It would be totally distracting to have it on at work.

      1. notgiven*

        I’ve been known to unplug the TV if I couldn’t find the off button in an unattended waiting room. TV is in every waiting room, in the dental exam rooms, where does it stop. How do I escape?

    8. Temperance*

      At my last job, we had TVs in our cafeteria. Thankfully, we had a policy to only watch CNN. I had to regularly fight with one of our clients, who would turn the channel to Fox News when no one was looking, and then push the box behind the TV (he was a wacko and about 16 inches taller than me, for reference). I caught him one day, asked him to stop, and told him that I could get in trouble if he kept it up, but he was free to watch Fox in his office if he so chose. His position was that Fox was neutral, real news, and CNN was ‘biased’ …. so yeah, we didn’t see eye-to-eye, but it wasn’t my call at least.

  42. Potential Psychologist*

    Are there any psychologists who went to school in the NYC area who offer advice?

    I have a BA in English and currently work at a nonprofit, but I’ve been contemplating a career in psychology. Specifically, I’m thinking prison psychologist, or something working with that population.

    How does it work to get a psychology degree (eventual PhD, I think) when you work full-time and don’t have the undergrad background in it?

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I have a coworker who went back to school for industrial psychology and she still works full time here. She seems exhausted! She works in our accounting dept. and has no psych background – I think she just applied, got in, and that’s that. She did have to work with her boss to rearrange her schedule a bit, but he has a crush on her so he lets her do whatever she wants.

      1. Potential Psychologist*

        Oh dear. Well, my boss definitely does not have a crush on me (I hope). I am worried about the exhaustion part though.

    2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      I’m not a psychologist, but I’m in a science field myself, got a PhD in it, have several friends that are psychologists, and several friends that have changed careers from more liberal arts-oriented fields to STEM fields. So, I’m not the final word, but I don’t think I’m going toooo far out on a limb.

      In general, most STEM grad programs will not take a PhD candidate without relevant undergraduate experience, so my guess is you’re looking at going back to undergrad classes and taking a fair number of undergrad psychology classes before you’re eligible for a graduate degree.

      There’s an outside chance that if you took and convincingly passed the Psychology GRE, you might get in…but that feels iffy for me. There’s a fairly large body of theory, background, and practice that you need to be up to date on before you start designing and conducting studies or practicing.

      Wish I could be more encouraging, but I think it’ll be a process.

      1. Potential Psychologist*

        Ahh thank you! Do you think there’s any chance I could start with JUST a Master’s in psych, and then apply for a PhD program after? Or does it not work that way?

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          Se depende. That’s what I did in Ecology, and it worked fine for me, but I got some shade from the graduate committee about “sneaking into the PhD program.”

          Even with a masters’ program, I suspect you’re gonna have to take some intro classes and so forth.

        2. HannahS*

          I’m in Canada, so this might not apply to you, but generally clinical psychology is a direct-entry PhD (so, six years) and you absolutely have to have an undergrad degree in psych. MAs in psych tend to be research-oriented, so they’re a little more flexible–for example, if you studied biology/neurosci you can take an MA in psych at some schools. If you want a PhD in clinical psychology, my guess is that you’d need to take all of the “core” psychology courses of an undergrad degree. Have you thought about alternate programs? I know of the Adler School, which I *think* helps you be a psychotherapist, and I know someone at the one in Toronto who graduated with a social studies degree.

    3. Sorry to be a buzzkill*

      It heavily depends on which area of psychology you want to go into. Working with prisoners or forensic populations would likely require a degree in clinical psychology–MA or PHD. I cannot emphasize enough how competitive clinical PhD programs are–more competitive than medical school. I have an undergrad degree in psych and 2 years of research experience in the field, and still may not get into one of the 11 programs I’ve applied to (I am deeply anxious about this possibility). If you really wanted to go that route, your best bet would be a masters while gaining research experience, and then applying to PHD programs (note: most phd programs do not offer shorter courses of study for those who already have a masters, which is why most people with a BA/BS in psych don’t get a masters first if they know they want a PhD).

      The only reason you should pursue a PhD is if you are interested in research or want to direct clinical programs–it can give you more autonomy in clinical settings. Otherwise, masters clinical programs are not crazy competitive and are definitely the way to go.

      1. Potential Psychologist*

        Wow. Yeah…the crazy competitiveness is something I’ve heard about, which is part of why I wanted to maybe just pursue the Master’s first, to see if I’m even cut out for it.

        How does research experience work? Like while doing the Master’s? What is that process like, and how do people generally support themselves while they’re doing that?

        1. Sorry to be a buzzkill*

          I’m sure it works a little differently at every school, but if you were doing a masters and eventually wanted to pursue a PhD, you would want to see if you can work for one of the professors as a graduate research assistant… there would probably be more opportunity for this if you were at a school that did not offer a PhD, as there would be no doctoral students to fill that role.

          Clinical masters programs are generally geared towards practice, and most students there are not actively interested in research (which makes sense), however, PhD programs are almost MORE interested in your research experience than your clinical experience, so you would want to take advantage of every possible opportunity to do research during the masters program.

          Unless you got scholarships, most masters programs would involve student loans.

          1. Potential Psychologist*

            Oh, interesting, I’d never heard that before but makes total sense.

            Most research assistants are unpaid or low-pay, right? Does that mean most people are living off the student loans?

            Sorry if these are stupid questions. I’m just trying to get as realistic a sense as possible of what it would really look like to pursue this, and already have a great deal of respect for all of you folks who are soldiering through! I hope you get into your PhD program.

            1. Sorry to be a buzzkill*

              I’m a research assistant right now (full time though, not a student) and I get paid well enough–I’m certainly not making bank, but it’s more than I expected right out of college with a liberal arts degree. I think pay varies widely by location and institution.

              Part time, it might be enough to live off while using loans to pay for graduate school. (again, depending on the area)

        2. Kj*

          So I did a clinical MA program that was designed for working while you went through the program. It was tough, but I worked part to full time and didn’t take out loans to live on. I also did two research projects, both of which were recognized by national organizations (one with a monetary prize!). But you could avoid doing research in my clinical program, I just chose not to.

          In psych, most people chose either research or clinical practice. Most do not do both equally. Ph.D sorts you on the research side. Psy.D and MA sorts you on the clinical side. You can bridge between them. but it isn’t as easy.

          Can I ask why prisons? That comes with some dangers and problems and I would make sure you actually want to work in a prison before you commit to it as a life-goal. I don’t know your level of experience with prisons, if you don’t have direct experience, can you talk to folks who do?

    4. TotesMaGoats*

      Honestly, why do the PhD? A Psy.D. might be a better fit. But an MSW or Master’s in counseling that leads to licensure would get you there faster (and cheaper) and get you in the field sooner.

      1. Sorry to be a buzzkill*

        PsyD’s are gaining respectability (used to be they were seen as…. less reputable), but they cost major $$$$ while a PhD will generally offer tuition waivers and a stipend that you can (just barely) live off of

    5. Temperance*

      You can work as a therapist with just an MSW, which is much easier to obtain. Prison work, though, is incredibly competitive and cutthroat.

    6. Kj*

      Why a Ph.D? Are you really interested in research? If so, get a Ph.D. if not and you just want to provide therapy, get an MA in counseling psychology or marriage and family therapy. You can get a job in a prison in my state with an MA. In fact, it is pretty easy since no one usually wants those jobs. Also, for most MA programs, you don’t have to have a BA in psychology, although you might need some basic psychology classes under your belt. I went to grad school with folks with degrees in education, English and art. As long as you had taken some psych classes at the BA level, you could be admitted.

  43. Junior Dev*

    I’ve recently started a new web development job. We are putting some finishing cosmetic fixes on a broken old PHP website and then we are going to begin designing a shiny new site to replace it.

    I am fairly junior but I want to do what I can to encourage the following for the new site:

    1) that it be well documented–there were a lot of design patterns on a different site that no one understands and I’d like to have the structural quirks of the new site be clearly explained in writing

    2) that it be accessible to screen readers.

    For 1) I am worried that, being most junior, the only woman, and the only one (that I know of) with a humanities degree, I will become The Writer of Documentation in a way that interferes with my development as an engineer. (Technical writing is a distinct role from engineering and is more likely to be done by women.) I want *everyone* to document what they do–I don’t mind coordinating efforts in some way but I really don’t want to be the only one doing it.

    For 2) I am worried that they will see it as a bleeding heart charity cause and not worth the time (I hate that attitude but it is common). It’d be good to convince them it won’t be that hard and will pay off. (It is an e-commerce site and a lot of the products are paper books, though of course vision impaired people buy gifts for their friends, and there are many non-book items like clothing and collectibles. Plus there are partially sighted people who find websites easier with screen readers.)

    How can I effectively argue for those two things without it distracting too much from the coding I was hired to do?

    1. Manders*

      Ooh, these are both excellent ideas that may be tricky to implement in practice!

      I don’t have any advice for #1, but for #2, talk to your SEO team if you’ve got one. You may find that they’ve already got plans for how they’ll be handling things like alt text on images (and if they don’t, yikes, someone should bring that to their attention).

      I do recall some scenes in the Netflix show The OA of a character using a screen reader. That show wouldn’t be my first choice for showing someone a realistic depiction of vision impairment, but a lot of people have watched it, so you may be able to reference that scene to explain how screen readers work.

    2. Spoonie*

      Not knowing how work is divided, but could you have each team member write up their part of the project and then have one person compile/edit it into a usable document? That way the probable SME is the one doing the bulk of the writing and then one person is just doing the work of making sure that a widget is always referred to as a widget and not a Widget.

      Since you’re proposing the idea, you’ll probably become the compiler, but then it’s slightly less work (if you squint) than writing the entire document.

    3. justsomeone*

      #2 – please please please. My husband is partially sighted and can still read with the aid of a screen reader. We are always grateful when sites are accessible.

    4. mskyle*

      How much of the documentation can you accomplish via commenting the code like crazy and how much of it needs to be external documentation? (I am always a fan of documentation via comments and tests and tests with comments whenever possible, because you *know* that you’re going to have to look at the code in the future… a separate doc can get lost/fail to get updated/etc.) Does your team have a formal code review process? Because every time you review someone else’s code you can say, “Can you put in a comment/test/test with comment about $method?”

      Put the documentation right in the code to whatever extent you can.

      As for the screen-reader compatibility, this is just best practices stuff. It’s *not* hard and it *does* pay off, not just for current users of screen-readers but for forward-compatibility with future devices/browsers/etc.

      1. Junior Dev*

        I could propose that! I think part of the issue is that there’s this myth that you can write “self documenting” code so you don’t need to explain anything besides that.

        Example: on a different site there’s a super complicated URL routing system that involves using regexes to parse and concatenate other regexes and i can’t figure out how to make it accept new routes. (So I guess part of the issue would be avoiding stuff like that). The comments say something like “this function converts regexes into usable routes” but doesn’t specify how that happens or what format the input needs to be in to get a desired output.

        It’s not just the one weird function either because of the way that the pages contain widgets/modules and combine templates based on some sort of magic I don’t think anyone fully understands.

        I don’t know how one would best document that but my concern is that comment based documentation would end up explaining stuff on a super micro level (x function does y) rather than explaining how the parts fit together and why.

        1. Marcela*

          The problem with documentation outside the code is that when the code changes, it is very easy to forget the accompanying document. Of course, this could happen anyway with the documentation in code, but it’s more difficult to pretend that you don’t have to change the docstring too.

    5. Formica Dinette*

      I applaud you for pursuing this. I also think you’re right to be concerned about it interfering with your engineering role. When making your case, I recommend providing industry recommendations/best practices and estimates of the amount of time involved in each initiative. If you can find any information on ROI, that will probably be the most helpful. If TBTP aren’t receptive at all or are only willing to consider a fraction of your recommendations, don’t be discouraged! Consider it a foundation for the future opportunities that are sure to come up. Good luck!

    6. Alice*

      Iinternet hugs for two very smart impulses you have!
      As far as commenting/documentation, that should be easy, since collaboration, handovers, and future revisions will go so much more smoothly as a result. When it comes to accessibility — it should be a normal part of the job, but it can be hard from a relatively junior position to push it up the priority list.
      I’m feeling similarly unsure about how far I should push…. Yesterday we were discussing speakers to invite to a conference. The list was 3 men and 1 woman; I said “let’s plan on inviting another qualified woman if Woman Speaker doesn’t accept our invitation so that we can have a gender balance’; everyone nods; yet by the end of the meeting we’re getting rid of one speaking slot and inviting only the men. How did that happen?
      Anyway, below I’ll post a link to W3C advice on the business case for accessibility. Here’s a snippet

      A small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) relying on e-Commerce might emphasize:
      – positive impact on search engine optimization (SEO) from accessibility improvements
      – importance of an increasing market among people with disabilities and older people who may significantly benefit from accessible online shopping
      – increased general usability and trustworthiness of online shopping interfaces from improved accessibility
      – reduced risk of legal action and negative publicity from not complying with anti-discrimination legislation

      1. Manders*

        I don’t think legal action is a possibility for an e-commerce site. Bad web design isn’t against the law (unless you’re in a field like government or it’s a site employees are required to use, then I’m not sure whether there are legal accessibility requirements).

        I’d focus on the benefits of improved SEO and appealing to a market that may not be well served by other e-commerce sites. Those are things you can attach a dollar value to, plus the marketing team can help you advocate for it.

        1. Junior Dev*

          Yeah. I think I’d focus on how it wouldn’t be hard and could help us make more money. I’d also emphasize how a lot of accessibility is just using HTML as it’s supposed to be used–presenting information in a standardized format–and not using it as it isn’t (e.g. Relying on tables for layout, formatting paragraphs to look like headers.)

        2. Alice*

          I’m not saying that it’s likely, or necessarily a winning strategy for Junior Dev’s situation, but the site that I linked does discuss a case where the National Federation for the Blind sued Target over poor accessibility. Eventually Target settled for $3.7 million plus attorney’s fees.

        3. Observer*

          That’s actually not entirely true. Accessibility IS actually a legal issue. There is a LOT of grey in there right now, but if you get Federal money, there is no doubt that you can get into trouble. And even if you don’t there seems to be a shift to the idea that web sites can be public accommodations and therefore need to be accessible.

    7. Observer*

      If your org gets Federal money, then they need to deal with Section 508, as it’s called. Also, if this web site is intended for public use in the sense of it being considered a public accommodation (eg shopping), then there are ADA requirements.

      There is a lot of information about the legal requirements. Also, do some research on the size of the market affected by this stuff. For instance, if you have any interest in the senior sector, then accessible web sites are a good idea – seniors may not be blind, for instance, but lower vision is common. etc.

      So, arm yourself with some information on the matter. It’s not just about being “nice.” It’s good business.

  44. NewsPup*

    Hey all, I’ve received really great feedback from the AAM community in the past so I’m going to try again! I had an interview with a big corporation’s recruiter a few months ago and it went well (thanks in part, to you guys!) and now I have an “introductory interview” with a hiring manager at one of the company’s offices. I’m still fairly new to the workforce and have only ever had two job interviews. What do I expect? Sometimes I feel like AAM tells us things for final interviews and this one seems like it’s going to be more casual? I’m definitely researching the market and the specific area I’d be covering but I’m not sure if there’s anything else I should be aware of. Thank you guys, you’re the best!

    1. EAW*

      An interview is an interview. I wouldn’t assume anything’s casual just because they call it an “introductory” interview; to me, that just means it’s a first interview. Your best bet is to prepare, prepare, prepare and practice, practice, practice.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Never assume casual. Prepare for the toughest interview you can imagine in your head. If it turns out to be less than that LUCKY YOU!

      One mistake I made years ago, was not knowing what I wanted/expected for compensation. Take a short bit to figure out what you would like in your compensation package. If you can, put a range on things so you are not locked into “I must have X.” It’s all trade-offs you get some x and lots of y at some jobs. Other jobs you get NO x but they offer w unlike anyone else. Have a good idea of what your needs are and what your wants are.

      I am big on company culture. I will put up with a tad less pay if the culture is to my liking. Ask about culture and ask about management style.

      And this one would appeal to some folks but not everyone. I drive the exact route I would use if I worked there to get to the interview. It helps me to prep for seriously thinking about this job. I wanted to apply for a job 20 miles from here. I drove the route and realized “OMG, no way in h*ll!” Dark, curvy roads, no guard rails, long isolated stretches, just NO.

  45. Interrupted*

    How can I stop being so available? I share an office and I’m separated by a cubicle wall from my coworker. He started in November and interrupts me at LEAST every 5-10 minutes by shouting over the cubicle wall with a question. I’ve tried pointing him to resources but if he exhausts those resources he comes right back to me and asks me to sit and help him. We do the same work but since I’m more senior on the team I have more responsibilities and it coupled with managing 3 interns I feel like I’m doing the work of 4 people.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Tell him that you can’t concentrate when he keeps interrupting you and to email you with questions instead of yelling over the cube. Or tell him he’s only allowed to bug you once an hour and to make lists of all his questions. And that you are too busy to help him all the time and that he needs to start figuring things out himself. But if he just started in November is it really that abnormal that he still needs help? Does he have enough resources to learn this stuff himself? Is there someone else that could help train him? Two months is not that long and I’m not surprised he still has lots of questions. I remember starting a job where everyone acted so annoyed if I had questions but I received zero training. It was very frustrating because I felt like a pest when in reality the onboarding at this place was woefully inadequate.

      1. Liane*

        “Or tell him he’s only allowed to bug you once an hour and to make lists of all his questions. ”

        Reminds me of what my husband & I told our kids about questions on long car trips when they were little:
        “Are we there yet?” & similar questions are limited to 1 per kid per hour. Any more than that and both of you are going to unhappy…

    2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      I think you can establish some boundaries, because it’s not reasonable for you to be available on demand, or to sit with him and walk him through tasks. No shouting over the wall, no hand-holding, and he has to present the steps he’s already taken to resolve his question himself. And I think it’s reasonable to expect that he not interrupt you more than once every hour or two, with questions he truly can’t resolve on his own.

      That said, he’s new, and if he’s got this many questions two or three months in, he may need a little more training than he got. My feeling, though, is that he’s needy, not accustomed to resolving his own questions, and has gotten accustomed to having you do it for him.

      For your part, Socratic dialogue is your friend, because if he’s ill-trained, leading questions will help him think critically, and if he’s needy, they’re annoying and don’t give him what he wants. “What do you think is the best place to start figuring this out?” “This is similar to that other task I assisted you with. Have you tried approaching it the same way?” “Where in the system would you guess that function is located?” “Did you try googling that? What came up?”

      1. Rat in the Sugar*

        So what the holy heck do you do when you try that and they just laugh and say “Oh, I don’t know that!” “I don’t know anything about it!” “You know more than me!” “I know you told me before but I can’t find my notes.”

        Ugh!! I know that our new hire is trying and that our system is very complex but the “I don’t know”s are starting to grate on me. Am I just being too sensitive??

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          No, you’re displaying the patience of a saint, because I’d have already flipped the desk. My response to that would be a firm “Well, let me know when you’re willing to help me help you,” and returning to my work.

          1. Rat in the Sugar*

            It’s driving me bonkers. Just earlier this morning (first thing in the morning, actually, before I’ve had my caffeine):

            her: “Rat, I’m not sure how to code this. This employee’s hotel expense was marked as reimbursable when it’s actually on the company card–”
            me: “Whoa, wait, did the employee already get paid for that?”
            her: “Oh, I don’t know.”
            me: “?!”

            Like, seriously. I didn’t know what to say to that! I ended up with something along the lines of, “Well, we need to find that out right now because it’s incredibly important! That hotel bill is over $600.00!” (It’s a damn nightmare getting reimbursements back, for anyone not involved in that for their work. Employees don’t appreciate it when you ask for money back, donchaknow.)

            Now I’m wondering–should I have said more, like “That’s something that you need to check first before you come to me with questions on how to code it” but I feel like she should know that….should I just start saying it every time anyway?

            1. fposte*

              I think the Socratic method is helpful in some situations, but it’s not a good vessel for delivering the message that people should do some of this themselves before they ask you. So say it directly–it’s fine to tell her what stuff she needs to check before she asks you, ask her to think stuff through before she interrupts you, or limit questions to specific times and/or frequency. It’s also okay to say “Some of this stuff you should be able to do on your own by now–should we talk to [Manager] together about getting you some more training?”

              1. Rat in the Sugar*

                Thanks–I guess I’ll have to overcome my fear of being direct. I was worried about hurting her feelings or something, but I’m starting to hear annoyance in my own voice while I’m training her and I’m sure she does too, so I suppose getting over myself and following your advice is for the best for her and me both. :/

                1. Gene*

                  “Here’s a written checklist on a laminated card and a wet erase marker so you can mark things off as you check them. If you can’t honestly say you’ve checked everything on this list and couldn’t find the answer, leave me the F4 alone!”

    3. TG*

      Would it help to ask him, “What have you tried so far?” That might show you how he is approaching the work and whether he’s taken good notes or made an effort to learn the procedures himself or whether he’s just expecting you to bail him out.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You need to be direct. It doesn’t sound like you’ve told him to stop doing this, and that’s the first step. So: “Fergus, I can’t focus when you volley questions at me this frequently. Can you limit it to once or twice a day or I’m going to get behind on all my deadlines.”

      If appropriate for your role, you could offer to do a quick meeting with him every afternoon and he can save up all his questions for that, but that might be more than you need to offer.

      It’s not your job to field constant interruptions to answer everything he wonders about.

    5. Tabby Baltimore*

      Would a kitchen timer work? I ask, because, when my 4 kids were little, and as the stay-at-home parent, some days were just more than I could bear. So, for example, if a child was bothering me too often, I’d set a kitchen timer for X minutes, then tell said child “I need some time to do [activity] without interruptions, so you can talk to me again when the timer goes off.” If the child tried to engage me before the timer went off, I’d listen to the question, but respond that I couldn’t answer until the timer went off, “so you need to go back to [whatever it was you were doing], and I’ll let you know when the timer dings.” I don’t know if that would work to encourage your colleague to try to find the answer on his own while waiting for the timer to sound, but it could at least serve to help control how often you get interrupted. And, yes, I know this sounds ridiculous. I’m only suggesting this if you get well-and-truly desperate.

  46. CrazyEngineerGirl*

    I posted a job earlier this week for an executive assistant and the cover letters and resumes I’m getting back are alternately making me want to laugh hysterically and weep!

    The first time you say you love to help customers with THERE issues, ok. The second time you say THERE issues, I get annoyed. And the THIRD time you say THERE issues, I burn your resume.

    And for goodness sake, if you’re going to put a line that you have ‘great attention to detail’ DON’T MISSPELL DETAIL!!!!

    End rant.

    1. checkin in*

      My favorite is when they say they’ve worked in a “fast paste” environment. Always makes me laugh/cry.

      1. Manders*

        If I don’t work slowly with paste, I end up messing my projects up and gluing my own fingers together. If only I had more experience in a fast paste environment!

      2. Artemesia*

        The problems of spell check LOL I often type things like they sound. I touch type and type fast and my fingers just spit out the wrong homonym. It is hard to catch proofing and spell check doesn’t get it — but it does demonstrate how careful you have to be in proofing your employment materials. ‘Fast paste’ is a classic of finger/brain disconnect that spell check won’t get.

        1. Liane*

          Spellcheck also misses wrong regular verb forms (typing vs type) or typos that happen to be real words (cat vs cab).
          I am a very good speller but there are a handful of words I just cannot spell, but that is why dictionary dot com is in my bookmarks.

          1. justsomeone*

            I use a browser extension in Chrome called Grammarly that catches grammatical errors, including misuse of commas and incorrect forms of homonyms.

            1. Liane*

              I use Chrome so will check that out. I haven’t used a grammar check in years. I stopped trusting them when I realized they were flagging “errors” that were actually correct but were not flagging things that my sainted AP English teacher told me I must never do again.

    2. FDCA In Canada*

      I’ve seen many resumes where people misspell their own job titles. “Receptionist” is a tricky one, but I’d wager it’s one you ought to double check before firing that sucker off. “Administration” is tricky, but you should have it spelled correctly if you also point out that part of your job was “paying attention to details!”

      1. Jadelyn*

        I’m a big fan of “costumer service”. But my favorite “attention to detail” lolsob moment was one where it read “i have great atention to detail,” – all capitalization, punctuation, etc. exact to the original, including ending with a comma – and that was literally the last thing on the resume. It just felt like the resume equivalent of someone petering out awkwardly in a conversation with “so…yeah.”

      2. AndersonDarling*

        Secetary – it makes me smile. I imagine a “secetary” working at the local “libary.”

      3. Sparkly Librarian*

        I’ve long maintained that if you can’t spell it, you shouldn’t claim it as your title. Examples include “Masseuse” and “Entrepreneur”.

      4. So Very Anonymous*

        My favorite: I was working at a presidential museum and an applicant spelled the name of the president wrong. For an editorial job. Nope.

    3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      I once got a resume for an entry-level environmental scientist. They misspelled environmental (enviromental) and they referred to the National Environmental Policy Act as the National Environmental Protection Act.


      1. Lily in NYC*

        You guys would not believe how often I used to get resumes that misspelled the place I worked as: National Center for Missing & Exploded Children (should have been Exploited). I got the craziest mail when I worked there.

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          I’m not going to lie, I have like five off-color jokes all queued up in my mind right now.

    4. Jenbug*

      I called someone today who submitted an application because I wanted to set up an interview. Her voicemail picked up and it was her and her friends laughing and being stupid. I didn’t leave a message.

    5. Partly Cloudy*

      I love it when people abbreviate “assistant” incorrectly. Really? You were the Ass Manager?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        There was a joke in that old book Up the Down Staircase where the principal’s assistant would send out memos signed “J. J. McHabe, Adm. Ass.” They called him Admiral Ass.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        She worked on a farm. When she tells you she worked with jackasses she really means that.

    6. Liane*

      I get enough of this copy editing that blog. I know several of our writers have no previous writing experience beyond posting in game forums. But didn’t their language arts/English teachers teach them the difference between first and final drafts or to look over their work before handing it in? I am sure some of them write the article, then hit Submit without even reading it once.
      I cannot reject their articles (above my paygrade), and I don’t really want to, as most of them have great content. I also hate spending 30 minutes listing errors so the writer can clean up their submission. I find WordPress’s lack of