open thread – January 6-7, 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 :)

{ 1,488 comments… read them below }

  1. Jumanji*

    I’ve been at my job for six months. From week one I have had an adverserial relationship with my supervisor. The project I am supposed to implement had problems that required me to fix in terms of inadequate funding and manpower. Discovering and taking steps to fix these things and trying to relate to my difficult boss have caused me a great deal of grief and drove me to seek EAP counseling starting around my fourth week. I currently see a psychologist (out of pocket until the $1000 deductible is met and the insurance kicks in) to help me through these difficulties.

    I can easily make the argument that leaving this job because of bad fit and for the sake of my mental health is a no brainer. In fact, I have an interview for a job that looks like a better fit next week.

    The dilemma I face is I was hired specifically to implement the aspects of the project no one else on the team has the skills or experience. If I leave, this high profile project (where they are accountable to a grant donor) has no plan B. I will leave them hanging and the project Directors (who are nice and decent people whom I like) will have major egg on their faces. Add to that we hired a vendor to do the technical and design aspects of the project and are on the verge of signing a contract.

    My instincts tell me that the best way to leave where I would not leave anyone hanging would be to help them through the implementation and launch of the project and once that is done, to tell them I am leaving because I don’t see a future for me long term with them or in the field. But that would mean staying with them for at least seven to eight more months.

    Do I think I can make it work for a few more months before leaving? Yes. Therapy is helping a lot in giving me coping skills. The project directors have been willing to work with me to fix problems in money and manpower. My boss also, has softened his adverserial stance the past few weeks as I have demonstrated my capabilities in handling the project.

    But that would mean I give up the opportunity I am interviewing for next week, if I got an offer. And also I would postpone job hunting a few more months.

    Any advice?

    1. BRR*

      You shouldn’t stay at a job because “it’s not the right time to leave.” Businesses have to be able to adapt. It’s the same principle if you got hit by a bus, won the lottery, or had to go care for a family member. People leave. It happens.

    2. paul*

      Anytime an agency doesn’t have *some* plan in place to handle a person leaving (or getting incapacitated) they deserve egg on their face. Bluntly, that is incredibly poor planning and management on their part. Keep looking and take the job. Give notice, maybe offer to show your boss or your grandboss the ropes of whatever iti s you’re working on.

      1. bopper*

        I agree…there are options between “put up with it” and “quit”. Talk to the Project Directors about what would make you want to stay.

      2. Alice*

        I agree, as well. Would it be possible that you could stay on as a contract worker to help finish the project if you also got the new job? Not ideal, obviously, since you might end up working two jobs at once for a while, but at least you could offer that up as an option in case (like others have said) leaving would give you a bad reputation in your industry.

      3. Jumanji*

        It is hard to talk to them about it because the problems I encountered stem from the way the project is structured and who is in charge of it. Basically, it is a major web/IT project that is charged to be implemented by a department who are nontechnical and have never implemented a web/IT project before. And my boss is a nontechnical person who has never implemented or managed a web/IT project before, has no background in it, and has never managed staff who come from web/IT.

        1. IowaGirl*

          Well, Jeez. Their Plan A should have been “Be nice to the IT guy” then. Leave when you are ready – it’s their problem.

        2. ali*

          This was the same as the big-grant funded project I left. I was the only IT person in the department. With the month’s notice I gave them, they were able to “borrow” someone from another department until they could get a replacement for me hired. I spent that time documenting what I had done and what still was left to get done.

        3. Marcela*

          I have been in similar shoes all my career, being the only IT person in academic groups. I do what I can, and make my greatest effort to do my job. But after all my bosses have refused to accept that I can’t do miracles, days do not have 100 hours and specially, I can’t replace or provide the scientific knowledge, as soon as I need to go I stop caring about what happens to them. I told them we needed help, hours, information. If they didn’t give me that, surely the project is not as important as they say, and they will manage without me. Leave as soon as you can, don’t look back.

    3. Sadsack*

      You have an interview scheduled. An offer may not come for weeks or even months. Why not go to the interview and then see where you are at with the project if/when you receive an offer? Maybe by the time an offer is made, your project will have reached a point where you could walk away from it.

    4. ali*

      Don’t give up the interview. You’re only going to regret the “not knowing” if you would get an offer or not.

      If you do get an offer, and it sounds like a good fit and what you want to do, then you worry about how to quit. I quit a big-grant funded job when I was the only one who had any idea how to make the executable happen, because my dream job (which I am still in 4 years later) came open. If your current organization is in a situation where you are the only person who can possibly complete the work, then really that’s their problem and their own fault. No one should ever be indispensable. If you really like them and really feel bad about leaving, then see if the new company will let you delay your start date, so you can give them a month’s notice. Then spend that month getting someone else up to speed. You can’t live your life and be miserable just because you feel like you can’t leave.

      1. rawr*

        This is great advice. I was in a similar situation earlier this year. While I did not end up getting my dream job ( runner up, unfortunately), I had shifted to this way of thinking by the time the interview came around. It is not your problem that your workplace doesn’t have a Plan B. Really, and truly. If your job is causing you this much grief, I think you can, and should, walk away guilt-free if you get an offer.

      2. Confused Teapot Maker*

        +1 to this. I wouldn’t worry about quitting until there’s actually a firm offer from elsewhere on the table. And even then you still have the opportunity to ask the new company to be flexible on your start date to limit how much old company is being left in the lurch.

        But, ultimately and apologies for the bleakness, if you went under a bus tomorrow, I can almost promise your company would find a way to cope so I wouldn’t feel bad about leaving them if that’s what’s best for you.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Yes! It’s part of your employer’s job to come up with a Plan B, and the fact that they’ve poorly designed their project shouldn’t mean that you sacrifice your own well-being to save them from themselves, Jumanji. It’s honestly ok to job seek, to interview, and to leave before the project is implemented.

    5. Beancounter in Texas*

      If you do decide to accept a job offer from the interview next week, I’d offer a leave notice long enough to help them train your replacement.

      IMO, you should go. If your job stress level is enough to seek therapy after four weeks, then it’s not likely going to be a good fit in the long term. But I’m speaking from personal experience of having a supervisor that drove me to tears routinely from the start and I didn’t realize how much stress the ups & downs of our working relationship gave me until she was terminated 14 months later. I wish I had walked out after two weeks.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Have you talked to the Project Directors and given them a chance to fix the issues with your supervisor? We can assume you’ve done your best to work with this supervisor, they sound bad enough that there’s no fixing it anyway. But intervention from higher up might help, they might even cut out your supervisor altogether if they need you that badly. And then the question is, would you want to stay if it wasn’t for this supervisor?

      If it doesn’t work out, you’re not obligated to stay and finish it for them. What would they do if you got hit by a bus? They would probably (eventually) find someone with the needed skills/experience. And what if they suddenly didn’t need you, do you think they’d let you stick around for months just because it was better for you? If not, then you don’t owe them that. (Some employers will do that, usually for senior employees.)

    7. SCAnonabrarian*

      Oh that’s an unfortunate situation.

      A couple of thoughts;
      Is there any way you can leave documentation or create processes or lists or be available after-hours as a contract or temp worker or become a paid adviser to provide your specific expertise to the current job if you DID find a new position? If that’s the case at all, then I would say it’s better for you to go ahead and start looking and applying – you don’t KNOW that you’ll get this job you want to apply for (or any other that you apply for), and you really do eventually need a job that doesn’t make you sick.

      Would make you look bad to prospective employers to have left the current folks hanging? Is your field really small (ie can current employers complain about you and have an impact on potential employers)? Are there not a lot of openings (if not, that can be in your favor as it’s more understandable to move to advance)? Is the atmosphere sufficiently awful that you can explain that you HAD to leave and not just jumped ship and left them in the lurch (can you do that and still be professional and not trash the company or talk to personally about your mental health issues which they don’t need to know about)?

      Finally, is there any evidence that as the initial bumps get smoothed out on this project (which it sounds like they maybe are?) that the adversarial relationship will continue to thaw or at least become more of a “chilly formal” sort of thing, which isn’t ideal but at least you don’t need to flee immediately? If that seems at all likely (maybe something you can discuss with your therapist and see how your supervisor relates to other workers?) then that may tilt you towards being willing to stick it out – then you’ve got a longer job on record, AND you’ve got a finished complex grant project to add to your cv.

    8. spocklady*

      It sounds like this organization has comprehensive staffing issues; partially because they have a grant for a high-profile project with no backup plan for what happens if you leave or get sick or something, and partially because once you got there you discovered additional manpower and funding issues. Yikes.

      This is not your mess. This is their mess. The project directors might be nice people, but their failure to plan is not your problem. If you get an offer for another position, you should take it with a clear conscience. Put another way, you can’t make the directors in your current position fix their bigger structural issues, all by yourself, and you certainly shouldn’t have to at the expense of your own health and sanity. Good luck!

      1. Jumanji*

        Yup! The problems I encountered stem from the way the project is structured and who is in charge of it. Basically, it is a major web/IT project that is charged to be implemented by a department who are nontechnical and have never implemented a web/IT project before. And my boss is a nontechnical person who has never implemented or managed a web/IT project before, has no background in it, and has never managed staff who come from web/IT.

        1. Nico m*

          Fuck ’em.

          Go to the interview. If you dont get that job, keep looking.

          I think that if you had the power to play a “change or i quit” move, things would not have got this bad.

        2. HoVertical*

          Been there, and done that. I took the second job offer, and never looked back – I wound up all the strings of the project that I could, and hoofed merrily away from that toxic environment. As others have stated, it was their responsibility to have a Plan B, and possibly even Plans C, D, and E.

      2. paul*

        Yeah, the people and agencies that fund some of our grants would raise hell if there were no contingency plans in place to handle something like this. I’m kind of amazed they’ve gotten away with it TBH

    9. Barney Barnaby*

      Generally, employers won’t delay lay-offs for more than a week, at most, to accommodate their employees’ needs. I find it rather one-sided to expect workers to delay departures for months for the sake of a company that wouldn’t do the same for them.

      That snark aside, take the interview, take the job if it’s a better fit, and just give a bit longer than normal notice period.

    10. Natalie*

      You’ve gotten lots of good advice, so I just want to share a phrase I keep in mind for situation like this:

      Not your circus, not your monkeys. (It also renders well in emoji.)

    11. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Former IT guy here. Go to the interview. I made the mistake of staying far too long in a toxic situation. It never got better, only worse. If you leave it’s their problem to fix, not yours. Part of any serious plan should be having backups for key people just in case of situations like this. Not your problem. Keep repeating that to yourself.

      When your job situation has degraded to the point you need medical attention it’s time to run like a jackrabbit.

      Good luck on the upcoming interview.

    12. Girasol*

      I was remotely involved in a project where senior leaders established a hand-wavy plan and an extremely wishful timeline. When it was clear the project was in trouble they hired a very talented project manager. They didn’t give her much latitude, though, maintained the same unreasonable expectations, and undermined her with surprise direction changes. In the end somebody’s head had to roll and it couldn’t be the leaders’ so she was fired. Is there a chance that’s you, and you’re there not to fix things as much as to be the sacrificial lamb? If you’ve any doubt, get out! Staying wouldn’t help them or you.

    13. Chaordic One*

      In your situation, I would definitely go on the interview. There’s no certainly that you would get a job offer, but if you do, I would be inclined to take it. I don’t know what’s up with your difficult boss, but if you are seeing a psychologist to cope with the stress, that’s not reasonable. You really do need to look out for your own best interests and your own mental health.

      If you go on the interview and don’t get an offer, then please keep looking for your own good.

    14. Artemesia*

      The only way the difficult bosses of the world get any discipline is by not holding good people. EVen then they still are usually not curbed. But you need not sacrifice your well being for the good organization. Always put your own interests first — That is what the business does when they decide to fire loyal competent employees when it is in their interest to do so.

  2. Emac*

    No question, but I applied for the job I asked for advice on writing a cover letter for a couple of weeks ago! I’ve been thinking it’s time to move on from my current place for awhile, but reading this blog has finally gotten me to get my ass in gear. Planning to do at least 3 more applications this weekend.

    1. ali*

      good for you! I need to write a killer cover letter this weekend myself. I’ll go back and look at your post!

  3. Future Analyst*

    Happy Friday! WFH folks: any advice on how to handle the solitude? I work on proprietary, internal projects, and often need to be able to take calls at any point of the day, so sitting at a coffee shop is out, unfortunately. But it’s SO quiet! And it’s literally only been a day, but I miss being able to walk around the office and say hi to people. Also, I’m still hourly, so when the day is over, I need to stop checking email, but man, it’s hard when there are a bunch of escalations going on. Shy of locking my computer in a safe at 5 pm, any suggestions for how to cut the cord at the end of the day?

    1. Lindsey*

      Do you have your email on your phone? That’s what killed me. I took it off my phone and it’s so much easier to shut a laptop when I do that!

      Also, as a fellow WFH person, have you tried virtual “coffee” dates? I have them with a few of my co-workers every couple of weeks, and it seriously helps with the loneliness.

      1. Becca*

        When I’m doing work at home, I’ll sometimes just Facetime or Skype a friend who’s also working from home. It’s quite nice! No talking necessary, although there’s someone there in case you do need to talk.

        If you know people who also work from home near you, you could see if they’d be interested in a work-from-home-together sort of arrangement? I have some friends who do this, where a few people will congregate at one place/house to work. Good luck!

    2. IT_Guy*

      I did a 2 year gig WFH, and since I live in a rural area I was facing the same things you did. I survived by keeping to a strict almost OCD schedule. I also would do specific tasks, such as dropping my daughter at school and picking her up. I also had a home office set up in a spare bedroom and would walk out the door at the end of the day and not go back in until the next day.

      If you need to make a break from work complete, I would suggest putting the computer down and backing slowly away….

      1. The IT Manager*

        That’s my suggestion for the after hours temptations. Designated office/desk that you leave at the end of the day. If it’s an office, you can even close the door.

        I also have my personal laptop (rarely used any more) in my home office but it’s on a different desk and everything. Work desk is for work only.

      2. Ann Cognito*

        I sit at the same spot at the dining room table (my husband has been WFH longer than me, so he uses the office) every single time, and I’ve been surprised at how well it works in terms of I sit down at that particular spot and I’m immediately “at work”. Then when I stand up and shut my laptop down, I’m “off work”.

        I meet friends/former colleagues for coffee or lunch quite frequently, so that helps with the solitude.

    3. Claire (Scotland)*

      For the quiet, can you try having music/radio/TV on low, so it doesn’t intrude on concentration but fills some of the space instead of silence? Or try a white noise generator? Can you use some sort of chat program to communicate with colleagues or friends at points through the day, to get some of that social interaction you are missing?

      As for cutting the cord, what works for me is having a little ‘ritual’ to transition from work day to downtime. Mine is changing my clothes, but it could be going for a walk/run/to the gym, or taking a shower, or cooking dinner, or whatever will enable you to change focus. I find that this lets me switch off the work brain and make the most of my time.

      1. Midge*

        A friend of a friend takes a half an hour walk around the neighborhood at the beginning and end of each WFH day as her “commute”. Depending on your climate, that could be a nice transition ritual.

    4. Onnellinen*

      I work from home on occasion, and find a short walk around the block helps me “cut the cord” at the end of the day – I treat it like a mini commute, and it’s a little mental break with change of scenery. I also felt weird just closing my laptop and suddenly “being home” before I implemented the walk.

    5. Liz in a Library*

      When I was working from home and feeling a little too disconnected from other people, I’d try to break up any of my personal errands for the week into short enough trips that I could run out every other day or so on my lunch break and do something outside the house. It sounds silly, but it really helped me!

      1. EddieSherbert*

        Same! It really helps if you are at least leaving the house once a day or whatever works for you. I go to the grocery store at least 2x a week. And I actually just returned from going to the post office to mail a letter! (it’s only 2 blocks away for me, haha).

    6. Anon13*

      It may not be possible, depending on your organization’s budget and where you live, but have you thought about working out of a co-working space? Though a lot of them probably don’t offer the privacy you need, there are some in my city that offer actual offices for some people, so there may be something like that near you!

      I only work from home occasionally, so I doubt I have the same issues as you with loneliness, but taking an actual break for lunch, and leaving the house during that break helps me when I’m working from home and feeling kind of blah.

    7. Emmie*

      I am still working on this, and admittedly failing at unplugging. Coffetivity, an Apple ap that I’m probably misspelling, gives great coffee house background noise.

      1. another IT manager*

        +1 on Coffeetivity; they have a web version (and Android, I think) if you’re not an IOS person.

    8. BRR*

      The quiet gets to me too (despite being so annoyed at the noise when I work in the office). I’ve used everything from lower quality tv shows or movies to just be there to having NPR on. The talking on NPR is nice.

      For stoping at the end of the day. Can you set up a work area away from the space you usually are in? Shut down your computer.

      1. Tomato Frog*

        NPR saved my sanity during the phases of my life when, for one reason or another, I had minimal human interaction. Call-in shows were especially helpful, even though in general they’re not my favorite type of audio programming.

    9. Evie*

      I’m in year 7 of working from home on data that I can’t allow anyone else to see. I also have my office set up in a separate room that I only enter during office hours. I removed email from my phone & that’s not been a problem for work. If there’s a data emergency significant enough for me to work overtime, they call me.
      I love the work day solitude but I also now get my socialization fix from friends & meetup groups. When I worked in an office, I’d go home & curl up with the silence.

    10. SophieChotek*

      I WFH too.

      I have to admit I actually don’t mind the solitude; sure there are times when I wish I had a co-worker to bounce ideas off of in person or to go grab a cup of coffee, but honestly, when I trained at the company’s HQ everyone there was so micro-managing (literally down to the shoes I wore), that it was a relief once my training was over and I was released to WFH. (I did have virtual coffee dates with one co-worker, like Lindsey suggest, but that person got laid off, and I don’t know the others as well to do that.)

      I am not hourly, but I my boss knows I really won’t check my email after 5 or 6pm or on weekends, or if I do, I likely won’t respond unless it really is an emergency. (And the business and part I am in the likelihood of a “true” emergency is really really low.)

      I would agree with others — just sign off email at 5pm and don’t let yourself sign back on. make it a habit; and don’t feel bad about it.

      To break up the day, I will just run out for 20 minutes and get a cup of coffee or run the Target to just walk around and give my mind a mental break. (Both are literally with 10 mins walking distance, so during the nice weather I walk…not now when it is below zero, without the windchill.)

    11. AMT*

      Can we, uh, trade jobs? I work in an open office and everyone but me thinks it’s a good idea to play pop music on the radio and have loud, shrill personal conversations eight hours a day.

      On a more serious note, there are sites like Coffitivity that play background noises to help you feel more productive. I like to use the sound of a busy coffee shop at home for writing projects. It might help your workplace feel more “alive.”

    12. Red Reader*

      I’ve been WFH for almost three years. When it gets quiet, I kick on Netflix on something I’ve seen a thousand times, or old episodes of House Hunters or something that requires no brain power or focus. Does your office have some sort of chat program? I have several work buds that we just chat sporadically over the course of the day via Jabber, the same kind of non-work-related chatting that we’d be doing if we were all in a cube farm, only we multitask better since it’s typing rather than an in person conversation so we’re all at our desks working as well. I wish I had more suggestions; I love the solitude, but I’m pretty heavily introverted :)

      Cutting the cord: you don’t necessarily have to lock the computer in a safe, but definitely close it and put it away. I have an at-home office, but it has both my work and personal computers in there, and I can reach both of them from the same chair, because I’ve never had any problem putting my work down at the end of my work day. I love my job, but when they stop paying me, I stop working. :) If that’s harder for you, then yeah, setting up a “this is my work space” area that you only go into when you’re working — even if it’s just a small desk in the corner of the guest room or whatever — can help distinguish that break. Like someone else said, a walk around the block for a “commute” might help too — I don’t necessarily leave the house when my workday is done, but I do definitely get up and do something very specifically non-work-y, put in the laundry or spend a couple minutes playing with my dogs. And definitely don’t have your work email going to a non-work device unless you absolutely have to.

      Some people get dressed for work even if they WFH — I don’t exactly, I sleep sky clad so when I get up I put on jammies or sweats, so if I’m going out after work, then putting on “real clothes” helps make that cutover too. If you are the “dressing for work” type, changing — even from one t-shirt into another — might help.

      1. Red Reader*

        Could you maybe set up an hour or two a couple of days a week of “head down hard working time” where phone calls are only an option in emergencies, and then spend those working at a coffee shop or library or whatever, if you really need to have an around-people break?

    13. Rex*

      Lunch dates with friends! (Or do something else fun and social for lunch.)

      Go to the gym. Go for a walk. Do you really have to be able to answer the phone all the time or can they leave a message sometimes and you can call back?

      Set some hard limits about working hours. I like the earlier suggestion to take email off your phone if that is an option. If not, make sure it’s not on your home screen.

      Is there a home office you can visit sometimes?

      Give yourself a daily 5 pm appointment to do something. Just so you have a hard break at the end of the day.

    14. Christy*

      I shut my laptop lid and mute my computer. Over the weekend, I will move my computer to a chair (I work from my dining room table) so that I don’t see it at all. It really helps with the unplugging.

      I also regularly take evening exercise classes, and that helps with the firm stop at the end of the day.

      Also, definitely regularly IM people you work with. They probably feel lonely, too. Even a “good morning, I hope you have a good day” helps.

    15. Dislike Names*

      I work from home full time as well, as an hourly contractor. A few things I found useful:

      1 – I am “at work” when I have my shoes on. I never, ever work without shoes. I also have a desk lamp I turn on when I’m working, and off when I’m not. My desk is in my den so this is critical. If you can find something similar, it may work for you.

      2 – I didn’t mind the solitude at first because I hated how loud and annoying my office was. Once that wore off and it was too quiet, I started talking to my dogs. It actually helped. What helps more is I’m connected to a network of peers (who I do not work with directly) through slack, and we chat pretty much throughout the day, as you would with a coworker. Many argue that chat/email is not the same, and it’s not, but it sure is better than nothing.

      3 – Throw yourself into your work. The busier I am, the less I care about what’s going on or not going on around me.

      Good luck!!

    16. Danae*

      I love the solitude and the quiet of working from home! I don’t even play music while I’m working, because it distracts me and I dislike the feeling of my attention being tugged this way and that.

      NPR or other talk radio might work for background noise–the NPR One app is honestly pretty great. Podcasts might also help if you need background noise.

      I keep to a pretty strict schedule, which helps a lot with the walking away at the end of the day thing. (I also track my time very closely–I am paid by the billable hour, so it’s out of necessity. If I end up working late or needing to hop on and fix something in the evening, I just track the time and log it.) My end of work ritual is shutting down my laptop rather than just closing it, turning off my work monitor, and getting up and walking away from my office. And then I either leave the house if I’m going out or go make dinner if I’m staying home.

    17. MegKnits*

      I looooove the fireplace channel for background noise when I am home alone. I don’t have to listen to annoying filler radio conversation or get distracted by the TV. This was particularly helpful when I was on calls as it was enough white noise to drown out neighbour sounds but not be distracting/noisy when I was on a call with a client.

      Good luck with the shutting down/routine part. Maybe allow yourself so many ‘extra’ minutes, and then walk away? Or as another commenter said, create a routine of how/when you switch out of ‘work mode’.

    18. DG*

      Get a dog!

      I love working from home because I get to hang with my dogs all day. I have a home office with a gross old futon in it that’s just for them. I start the day with a cup of coffee and (if the weather is decent) a walk for them. Then they’ll hang out with me until lunch and maybe another walk.

      And there are LOTS of dogs who would love a work from home person because maybe they wouldn’t do so well in a home where they were crated all day. It could be win-win!

      At the end of the day, I’m able to shut the door and not be at work anymore. It’s glorious.

      Sometimes I’ll play music or movies in the background while I’m working, but just having the dogs there feels like “company” to me.

      1. Headachey*

        I do love having my dog for company when I’m working from home – and he loves it when I’m home. What he doesn’t love is when I talk/yell/snark at the computer – he’s very sensitive to tone and will get up and leave the room! I’m trying to retrain myself to sweet-talk the computer but that’s rather weird. Oddly, my dog knows when I’m on the phone and doesn’t get upset by that at all.

    19. Elizabeth West*

      –Quiet: When I work(ed) from home, I had music playing that I couldn’t stream in the office. Sometimes turning on the TV with the volume low helped. I would put it on Kitchen Nightmares when I had cable, because I’ve seen them all and can ignore most of it. Just having the voices helped–I often got sleepy working from home!

      –Cutting the cord: If you work off the clock, even to answer emails, you must be paid for that time. If you aren’t, that is illegal. Think of the end of your shift as being YOUR time now. Once you clock out, that’s it–you own it. It’s yours to do with as you wish, but it does not include work. It helps if all your work stuff–email, IM, etc.–is on the laptop only.

      Also, instead of just closing it, if you’re tempted to keep peeking, turn it off instead.

      Have your laptop in another room where you work, separate from where you lounge or just do home stuff. Again, the more you have to do to check email, i.e. get up and log in, etc., the less likely you’ll do it.

    20. MsCHX*

      +1 for a dedicated “office” at home. Even if you don’t have space for an actual room that you can close the door on and be done; a corner in a living room/dining room/etc where work is done. At 5:00 (or whatever time “quitting time” is), close the laptop and either leave the house to run errands (everyone has to make pharmacy, Target, grocery runs at least a couple times a week, right?!), go for a walk, go to the gym, go to the coffee shop, pick up your hobby etc.

      Good luck!

    21. Tuckerman*

      I work from home one day a week and love it. I don’t think I’d like to do it every day. I have a dog, and he keeps me company and gives me an excuse to go for walks to break up the day. Not to say you should adopt an animal if that’s not up your alley, but it really does a lot to keep me from feeling isolated.

    22. harryv*

      I’ve been full time WFH the past 9 years. I find myself having lunch with friends who also WFH, work in the neighborhood, or others with flexible hours. If it bothers you that much, maybe move to a work location.

      As for pulling the plug after 5pm, don’t unlock your mail app after work. The work will never end. Longevity and productivity is directly associated with how much you unwind. I feel I am more creative with ideas when I am well rested.

  4. WellRed*

    Local story here: A security guard in NH in a 90 day trial period was fired on New Years Day for missing two shifts over the weekend. He missed work because his wife was in labor.

      1. WellRed*

        That’s actually not clear in the article and it’s a good point. If he didn’t, he should have. Also, to add insult to injury, he was supposedly fired by text.

    1. No, please*

      I read that story too. Hasn’t he received an offer for an electrician apprenticeship? I’d love to hear his managers reasoning for that. Seriously.

    2. Gwensoul*

      I think there was a bit more to this. He was in his 90 probationary period and had already called out and missed several days of work. While a birth is a good reason to miss, I bet it is more of the manager being fed up with it.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I don’t like to judge, but I agree. There probably was a process for missing work – calling the boss 30 min ahead of time or finding a replacement. It’s a security job, so it’s very important to show up for work.
        In the end, I think everyone got what they wanted. The company shed an employee they didn’t like, and the employee has a bunch of new opportunities.

        1. Honeybee*

          Sure there’s a procedure, but in emergency situations there have to be exceptions. You don’t necessarily know 30 minutes ahead of time that your wife is going into labor, and you’re going to be at that birth regardless of whether you find a replacement (also, if your wife is in labor, who has time to start calling around to see if you can find a replacement?)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t think he’s ever going back.
      He has been offered an electrical apprenticeship and had several employers offer him a job. Someone else started a fundraiser for him and his family.

      Apparently he had a job with 24/7 availability and he had signed a contract. When he did not show up for work he breached and they fired.

      Just because it’s legal does not mean it is right. I hope their being “right” was worth the nationwide spot light. The guy is a veteran.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yeah, that’s insane and unreasonable. You have to be on call 24/7, you don’t get paid for being on call, and you don’t have the ability to decline a shift or limit your availability for major life or medical events? That’s disgusting.

      1. K.*

        I think the GoFundMe has raised half its goal and he’s gotten three job offers. And I’m with you: just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

      2. Zip Silver*

        The guy that shot up FLL was a veteran too. So am I.

        Our veteran status doesn’t mean we’re all saints.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I think that it adds an additional layer of disrespect because the guy served our country. If anything it makes the company look even worse, like they don’t care he put himself out there for our nation.

  5. A New Consultant*

    I have consulted in the past but only for companies where I already had worked, but now I have a couple new clients and am running into some questions about billing. My specific role is somewhere between being a contractor for a specific role (so actually doing the work) and being a consultant/advising on best practices, coaching, giving advice.
    I bill by the hour and am wondering whether or not to bill in these cases:

    *I have to make a phone call for the client and am on hold for an hour with no outcome.

    *The client asks me to do research/work on something, and I spend an hour doing it, but a few hours later, she no longer needs that work. (For example, if someone asked Alison to look for information on specific labor laws or best practices, knowing she didn’t have the information off-hand and would have to look into it, but a couple hours later, the client changed their mind or found what they were looking for elsewhere).

    And in general, do you charge for time spent doing research needed to do the actual work, when research is necessary? I know if I were an actual employee, I’d be paid to be on hold, do work that my boss later changed his mind on, etc…

    1. IT Kat*

      Think of it this way:

      * Would you have been on hold for an hour if they didn’t ask you to look into something?
      * Would you have done that research if they didn’t request it?

      If the answer is no (and I highly suspect it is) then yes, bill for it. If it helps ease your conscience, when they ask you to do these tasks in the future, you can mention that you will be billing for that time, but I would guess unless the client is unreasonable or has never worked with consultants before, they’d know that already.

      1. Pwyll*

        I agree with the above. One thing you can also do comp a few calls and e-mails on the bill in line-item format as a regular course of business. It’s pretty crazy how people will argue with you about your hourly charges when they’re done in bulk format (project A – 7 hours – $xx), but once you start itemizing a ton of “status update call – 5 min – no charge” they shift to thinking you’re giving them such a great deal. You’ll want to have something in your contract that states that they are responsible for paying for the time you spend on the project, and not the specific deliverables alone, and that a waiver of a specific charge isn’t a promise to waive others. But it’s a little psychological trick I picked up from an old boss and it really tends to work (with reasonable clients).

        1. A New Consultant*

          Thanks, this is what I went with for this invoice. There’s so much to navigate when not working as an employee for the first time!

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      IT Kat is right. If you did an hour-long presentation for your board of directors, and it took about 40 hours to prepare for it, do you think it would be fair for your boss to ask you to write/research/rehearse the presentation on your own time? No, you do that during work hours! (Unless you have a toxic corporate culture that pushes exempt employees to work 80 hours a week.)

      Anything required for that specific job is billable. Especially work they specifically ask you to do, whether they use it or not!

      And I hope you have a reasonable client, but if not, I hope you are diversified or can diversify your client base quickly!

    3. hbc*

      Research that was requested but then not needed is a clear charge. If it comes up often or they get ticked about it, you might have to get clearer. “Okay, so I’m starting my research now, unless you want me to hold off.”

      Being on hold–that seems more tricky to me. I’d be ticked off at an employee if they sat on hold for an hour and didn’t do anything else with their time, and same if I got a bill for it. You’re probably not staring ahead listening to hold music for 60 minutes, so I’d either round that down or make sure I did work for that client while on hold. You might even play it by ear depending on how urgent the call was, whether the company has been rigid or flexible about paying you, etc..

      1. Anna*

        If you spent an hour on hold for you employer, you were still working for you employer, whether you were able to type an email or three or not. IT Kat explains it very well.

    4. Jane*

      Yes to both (unless, for the first one it was somehow avoidable to spend that much time on hold, such as by calling back later after it went on for more than few minutes – the client might question that part of the bill but they can’t reasonably refuse to pay for the time spent on work they no longer needed so long as you immediately stoppped doing that work once informed).

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Take a look at what lawyers are doing. The last bill I got from an attorney showed every phone call and every copy of anything they made. I believe time was billed in five minute increments?

      That phone call gets billed. It’s irrelevant that nothing happened. You could have been doing something else and getting paid for it.
      The unneeded research gets billed for a similar reason.

      Since your clients might be surprised if you suddenly do this, then work up a price list for them and include scenarios that you “have” to bill for. Tell them going forward this is how your billing process works.
      As an aside, there maybe times when you chose to wave the fee for the work. That should be your choice and on a case by case basis.

      1. Anon13*

        Seconding this. Law firms bill in different increments, with 6 minutes actually being the most common I’ve seen (so it’s an easy percentage of a hour), but, while the exact increments aren’t important, I’d bill in increments of 15 minutes, at a minimum, instead of billing hourly.

        You might also consider billing a lower rate for things like time spent on hold, which is also something I’ve seen law firms do – for example, if an attorney drives to a courthouse to file something in person, they may bill those specific hours at a paralegal rate instead, since a paralegal could have easily done the same task. This may not work for your type of work, though, and may get way too complicated, so it’s probably not worth it for you.

        Once you’ve been doing this for a while and you have a good idea of what the time commitment for each project will be, you could also consider billing on a fixed fee, rather than hourly, basis. This can get dicey, but I’ve seen it work really well, too – most people I know who bill this way end up about even in the end by coming out a little ahead on a some projects and a little behind on others, and clients tend to really like it because they know the costs upfront and can better budget for them.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        We normally bill in 6-minute increments. :) And yes, we bill for everything (we’re required to provide a breakdown at the client’s request, which is why we’re super ticky tacky about capturing every. little. thing. we do for a case/client).

        It’s up to you how you want to proceed as a consultant, but I would encourage you to bill for everything for the reasons IT Kat provided. And as Pwyll noted, you can later choose to comp certain line items if you want, but note that you’re not required to comp anything. If you do choose to do it, it’s a goodwill gesture—don’t do it because you feel guilty. You did work for your client and could not otherwise spend that time on other work activity; you have to be compensated for that time.

        If billing for “non-useful” work feels stressful to you, you could also explore alternate billing systems. For example, sometimes folks will bill by deliverable instead of billing by hour.

    6. NJ Anon*

      Yes, you could have been doing other paid work. So they need to pay you. I used to work for a lawyer and some of his clients would get annoyed that he would bill them for a 1/2 hour phone call. His logic was that his time was money and if he did free phone calls all day, he wouldn’t make any. And like I said, that is time he could have made money working on something else.

    7. Anon 12*

      I consult. One client is quite regular with a lot of hours and others are one off answer the question/do the project kind of thing. I bill for anything that’s an hour or more, blow off the smaller stuff for my large regular client, but aggregate the smaller stuff into one hour increments for the small clients.

    8. Username has gone missing*

      Re the work that isn’t needed: yes!

      You don’t get a refund on bread you bought because you decided not to eat it.

    9. Artemesia*

      I think it depends. If for example you signed on to work with spread sheets and you have to spend time on tutorials on how to use spread sheets, the ‘research’ would be on you. They shouldn’t have to pay you to learn what they hired you to do. On the other hand if anyone doing whatever it is you were hired to do would have to do some research as part of the project, then that is on the clock. So is the ‘research’ actually acquiring the skill you already sold them you had, or is it project specific information you had to acquire to this particular project.

    10. Aglaia761*

      If you are spending the time working for your client, you bill it. Even if they set your work on fire, you still did it for them and it was time you couldn’t spend on your other clients.

  6. Audiophile*

    I got a 3% raise, which at my salary will be negligible. It’s still a little exciting.

    I was hoping for a “snow day” today but the hype turned out to be for nothing. It was a basically a dusting of snow.

    I’ve started using the bullet journal method, I have two of the limited edition Kickstarter journals. I kicked in money and got the books a long time ago, but found it pretty overwhelming and wasn’t sure how to begin to get started. I found these really cool etsy calendar rubber stamps for the entire year. Part of me really wants them, but I could essentially do the same thing with a ruler.

    1. Morning Glory*

      Ha same. Woke up with no snow, still checked my email because “maybe it’s a snow day anyway”

      Congrats on the raise!

    2. Gandalf the Nude*

      We’re getting our snow tonight, and I’m kind of relieved. I’ve got too much going on for another day off!

      All my teacher friends were annoyed by CMS’ completely unnecessary robo-call last night simply declaring that all activities would continue as scheduled.

    3. Kristinemc*

      I’ve started doing this a little for my work list, and just started a full journal for personal use as well. Do you have any favorite tools/sites yet?

      I am thinking of getting a small ruler to keep in my journal – I have the Leuchtturm 1917. I also got some of the pilot disposable fountain pens in different colors to us.

      1. Audiophile*

        I had been trying to force myself to use a digital list – Todoist and Wunderlist, being the most recent two. But that just didn’t work, I’d accidentally swipe the reminders off my notification screen on my cell. Or forget to put them in the app in the first. Boss and I had a hard time sharing lists.

        I remembered I had received those Kickstarter Bullet Journals, they’re Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, with a few custom features setup by the guy who created the Bullet Journal. I will say I don’t love the dotted format and kind of want to pick up a regular squared 1917 notebook.

        I’ve also been on the hunt for better pens. I’m a lefty and almost every thing I write smudges. It’s driving me crazy.

          1. Is Genevieve pronounced Jen A Veev or Zsahn Vee Ayve*

            These are the only pens I’ll use in my journals and planners. I love the way they write (I think I prefer the .5, but I have .38 and .7 as well) I am not a lefty, but these are great pens and dont smudge and they write so smooth.

            1. Pseudo-Fed*

              For a second I thought you were talking about technical pens – Rapidograph, Staedtler-Mars, Koh-I-Noor et al. They are wonderful to use, but such high maintenance. Expensive, too. I use a .35 (formerly known as 00) these days, but it’s usually clogged.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        If you’re looking for a planner, then I *love* the Passion Planner.

        For my journal, I keep a bunch of different colored pens and highlighters. My favorite journaling pens include the uniball 207 retractable gel pen and Muji’s gel pen pack. The latter is really helpful for bullet journaling because they come in multiple colors, and they’re also sold in an assorted color 9-pen pack. I also create a “pocket” to store related items, similar to the built in pocket that Moleskine uses in its journals.

        1. Audiophile*

          I’ve tried tons of pens. I used the Uniball 207s for a while, then I got into the Papermate Ink ones. I also tried Poppin’s line of pens. Almost everything smudges, likely because of the way I hold my hand and write, rather than the pens themselves. I’ll try the G2 pens a try. The EA order some Uniball pens, but they’re not the good ones, the stop writing midway through.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Oh, that’s so frustrating—I’m sorry! I hate when my ink smudges. The Muji pens are slightly better than my uniball 207s in terms of lack of smudging (the 207 doesn’t dry quickly enough, especially if you’re left-handed), but I don’t love the grip/hold on the Mujis as much as the uniballs :(

            I used to have retractable ballpoint pens that I liked, but I always end up pressing down really hard when I have a ballpoint instead of a marker/gel pen. But then I always smudge my marker pens. I know one’s pen choices should not occupy so much brain space, but alas, they do for me :(

    4. Elizabeth West*

      It snowed about an inch on Thursday, but there is ice under it and it’s like 12 degrees F. I’m not going out, thank goodness–probably won’t walk today either, since I don’t have any of those ice grip things for my shoes yet.

      If I were still at Exjob, I probably would be working from home these last two days. Usually the snow is pretty well forecast around here. It’s thunderstorms that are really unpredictable.

    5. RKB*

      I just started my second bullet journal. (I filled a whole one from September 2015-December 2016!) As someone who hates digital organization, it ha been a godsend. I finally got the Leuchtterm notebook (they’re now in Canada!) and every log I jot in makes me so happy. If you stick with it and find what works for you, bullet journaling is fantastic.

      1. Audiophile*

        I don’t hate digital organizers, but they just weren’t working for me. I tried Trello, Google Calendar – which I still use for most things like bills and interviews, Wunderlist, Todoist, Google Keep – which worked for a bit at old job, but definitely wouldn’t work with current job, even recently tried Workflowy.

        I may go back to a digital list, as a backup, but right now almost everything is going into the bullet journal.

    6. Crafty Girl*

      About the stamps…I am pretty crafty and can make a lot of things, but the question becomes is it worth it?

      For instance, at Target I saw a banner for $3 that was perfect for a party we were having. I could have easily made it, but for the supplies, amount of time and added stress to the party prep process, it was definitely worth it to me to buy it!

      So for your stamps, would you spend time to do the same with your ruler? And enjoy it? Or would it be a better use of your time and more enjoyable to get the stamps? If the answers to either of the first two questions is no, or its yes to the latter, buy them!

      1. Audiophile*

        Oh trust me, I’ve had the “is it worth it?” thoughts. I tried with a ruler and wasn’t thrilled with the result.
        The entire set of stamps aren’t cheap, probably $95-$100 with shipping. (It’s all 12 months in mini calendar format.) I’m going to think about it a little more, and experiment over the weekend.

        1. Is Genevieve pronounced Jen A Veev or Zsahn Vee Ayve*

          Keep searching for alternative options. The planner community online is HUGE and you will find more cost effective options. Look at Michaels or JoAnns if you have them in your area, or Hobby Lobby. There are a lot of planner supplies and stamp kits now and you can usually use the 50% coupons! Michaels as really upped their planner supplies in a huge way this year (like an entire aisle now) so look around. More cost effective options exist!!

  7. Anon for this*

    My department has three digital thermometers, and once per week, we have to test the thermometers by sticking them in ice water and checking to see if they read ~32 degrees. Two of the thermometers are model 200 and read to the nearest tenth of a degree, and the third is a model 100 that reads to the nearest whole degree.

    When we do these checks, we have to record the ice water thermometer reading, and every single week, if someone other than me does the thermometer checks, they record a number for the model 100 thermometer that is impossible, like 31.7 degrees or 32.4 degrees. This thermometer only reads in whole numbers, so it can be 31, 32, 33, etc., but not anything between! The fact that everyone else enters readings to a tenth of a degree made me wonder if I was just imagining that the model 100 could only read in whole degrees, but both the thermometer manual and our testing instructions explicitly say that it only reads whole degrees.

    Clearly, then, everyone else who does the thermometer checks is not actually doing them, but just making up numbers and writing them down. In the great scheme of things, checking the thermometers is not all that important (I have never seen one fail), but recording a made-up number on an official record is a pretty big deal. People could definitely be fired for this, and I’m pretty sure they could even be criminally prosecuted for falsifying records. I’m a bit shocked that nobody has caught this yet, not even QA.

    I’m wondering what, if anything, I should do. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, but this is undeniable proof of blatant falsification of records, and I have a feeling it’s only a matter of time before someone realizes this. But they couldn’t fire the whole department, right? Should I say, “Hey, guys, if you’re going to make up numbers, at least make up numbers that are actually possible.”? Then again, if everyone suddenly starts logging only whole numbers, that would look even more suspicious. This also makes me wonder what else people are falsifying. I’ve caught other instances where I could tell people were falsifying records, but not usually anything that someone could prove, say, a month later, or that couldn’t be excused as an honest mistake. I guess I should probably just leave it alone, but it really bugs me!

    1. bopper*

      Can you ask someone who does it:”Hey,when you test the thermometers next week can you let me know so I can observe? I am finding a discrepency between the documentation and our results and just want to see what is going on so I can give feedback to the manufacturer if necessary.”

    2. Sadsack*

      Why not mention it to your boss that it is strange that others are recording decimals on a thermometer that reads in whole numbers? Let him take it from there.

      1. bopper*

        I would just check first hand that in fact the thermometer only reads in whole numbers? Documentation based on other documentation could be wrong.

        1. Anon for this*

          Oh, I know first hand that the thermometer only reads in whole numbers. I personally do the checks sometimes, and I have never seen that thermometer read anything other than a whole number. I only checked the documentation to verify that there wasn’t some secret decimal mode or something, and there definitely isn’t.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Is it possible your coworkers aren’t using the same thermometer(s)?

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’d research whether there are any even remotely possible penalties, then mention to the coworkers doing this something like hey, I think you’re getting the 200 and the 100 mixed up because you put 31.7 for the 100, and obviously that’s impossible, and I just read yesterday that you can [lose your license, or whatever] if we get audited, so I wanted to warn you about that before someone else sees it!

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        The issue isn’t that the thermometers aren’t being properly calibrated. The issue is that Anon for this’s coworkers are falsifying data. This is a very serious issue. Tipping them off on how not to get caught isn’t going to improve the situation.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Oh, I got that. Mine was a version of the “It looks like you made a mistake here” when someone does something sketchy, giving them a chance to backpedal. And I think if the OP wanted to bust them for it, they would know better than we would what regulatory agency to go to. I think they just don’t want their office to get caught up in an audit/sanction, and I was suggesting a polite way of calling the coworker(s) out on it.

          1. Anon for this*

            I get what you’re saying, but the problem is that the damage is kind of already done. At this point, there are archived records with falsified data, so there’s no way for people to go back and enter a plausible number. I’m not sure if there would be any benefit to anyone of me calling out my coworkers.

              1. Kimberlee, Esq*

                Yeah, and I’m guessing when QA or outside auditors do their audits, they only go back x months, so eventually you will get back into a place of compliance and the old calibration records won’t matter.

            1. JennyFair*

              Depending on the program you’re working under, you’ll need documentation of fixing the issue, retraining or disciplining employees, etc. Around here it would be NCR and CAR reports. If an auditor uncovers the issue and it wasn’t already fixed, it’s a much bigger deal than if you uncover it and fix it before an auditor has a chance.

    4. PoopEmoji*

      Can you suggest an in-service training on thermometer readings? This could help sort out the fact that one of the thermometers only reads in whole degrees. Alternatively… break the model 100 and request a replacement in the form of model 200?

      1. Edith*

        But if people are falsifying the records, what does getting a thermometer with a tenths digit solve? They’re not going to start recording the temp for real. It’ll just make it easier to hide.

    5. Trout 'Waver*

      Falsifying data is insta-fire territory. You have to be able to trust the people entering the data that they’re doing it correctly. When it comes out, and it will eventually, your job will be on the line as well. Tell a manager. If there’s a benign reason for this, your manager can figure it out.

      1. Anon for this*

        Well, that’s kind of what I’m trying to avoid… If I take this to a manager, either (a) everyone who has logged fake numbers will get in trouble and hate me, or (b) the manager will brush it under the rug because she doesn’t want to have to fire everyone, and she will hate me for putting her in that position.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          If your manager is at all competent, they won’t hate you for bringing it up. And if they’re competent, they’ll be discreet. If your manager is incompetent and your coworkers are falsifying data, you need to update your resume and get out of there. But, you don’t have to accuse your coworkers of falsifying data. Tell your manager that you’ve noticed that logs show the Model-100 thermometer has a decimal mode that you can’t figure out how to activate. Let them take it from there.

          How new are you to that industry? Falsifying data is a huge, huge deal. Your coworkers probably should be fired for it. The fact that you’ve noticed other instances of it as well means its pretty serious. Like other forms of cheating, people rarely get caught. If it comes out that you knew and didn’t alert management, your job could be in jeopardy as well.

          1. Anon for this*

            I’ve been in this business for over a decade. There have been several highly publicized cases of people in our industry getting fired and sometimes prosecuted for signing their names to something they didn’t do. Every employee gets training on the federal laws that cover our record-keeping requirements, so they should be well aware of the potential consequences. I think they view the thermometer checks as pointless and a waste of time (even though they are extremely easy and take just a few minutes) and therefore don’t think it will matter if they skip them.

            I have seen managers here sweep things under the rug because they don’t want to open a can of worms, make the department look bad, make the company look bad, get us in trouble with regulatory agencies, etc. If I wanted to get people in trouble, I would report it to our internal affairs department, but I don’t want that responsibility, either!

            1. Observer*

              It’s either report to internal affairs, or find another job. There is no doubt in the world that if this gets out, you are going to be tainted by it. And, it WILL get out if this keeps up. As well, people who get used to flouting the rules when the rules are “annoying” tend to develop increasingly broad definitions of “annoying and OK to break.” And, if your management has a tendency to brush inconvenient breaches under the rug, it’s a good bet that any auditor who finds this will wind up opening an even bigger can of worms.

              You know what, maybe you should start looking for a new job, regardless. You don’t want to be there when the garbage hits the fan and starts spattering everyone in reach.

            2. Anna*

              Because you’re a federal program, you should have a way to report these sorts of things. It’s something that should go to a manager and if nothing happens, it should go higher.

        2. S-Mart*

          If you have a good manager, neither of those will happen. Yes, coworkers will get in trouble (part of your scenario a), but it won’t inherently lead to them hating you – because the manager won’t tell them that you’re the one who brought it up.

          Really not understanding why you want to protect coworkers who are blatantly falsifying records. Besides, when this eventually comes out anyway, if it’s found out you knew and didn’t do anything, it won’t look good for you either.

          1. Anon for this*

            Part of it is that it’s just the culture here that workers have each other’s backs, and people who are considered snitches are ostracized. But also, I consider some of these people my friends. Some of them trained me. I trained others. While I think what they’re doing is wrong, I don’t want to see them lose their jobs, and I really don’t want the burden of being responsible for them losing their jobs.

            1. Trout 'Waver*

              They are responsible for their own behavior, not you. Their behavior could impact not only your current employment, but your future employability.

            2. No Name Yet*

              Not saying what you should or shouldn’t do, but I will say that if you report this and people are fired, that is because of *their* actions. You aren’t responsible for what they’ve chosen to do.

            3. Kimberlee, Esq*

              I feel you. This is something I would personally find a way to mention to my manager (even in a non-accusatory, “this is weird” kind of way), but when I worked fast food we had to do HACCP checks like 4 times a day, and a LOT of people fudged them at least sometimes, because it takes a bit of time and is a pain or whatever. It’s hard to feel motivated to whistleblow on something that you yourself know is not _really_ a big deal (if everyone were faking all the time, it would be, but since at least you personally do legit checks…) other than the breach of protocol.

            4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Except they’re creating fraudulent data. I understand that it’s really really difficult to imperil friends, but if their jobs are at risk for this (which I think they should be), then your coworkers did that to themselves by falsifying the information.

              I actually think Wells Fargo might be a good example of an analogous situation (although of course much more complex). The bosses were pressuring staff and not managing anything well, and in turn, staff were opening fraudulent accounts for individuals who had never authorized such a thing. Here, your coworkers are creating fraudulent data for which there is no basis in evidence/fact. In both circumstances, engaging in that kind of dishonest conduct is a serious job issue that justifies insta-firing.

    6. hbc*

      Don’t jump to conclusions, just report what you know. “Our data looks mixed up to me, because the 100 model doesn’t read decimals. This could really be a problem if someone investigates.” Maybe someone isn’t doing the calibration, maybe someone is getting the columns mixed up, maybe someone is doing bad math and adjusting for accuracy or theoretical salt content, maybe someone is calibrating all of the model 100s and averaging their values.

      You are reporting a serious problem, not pointing a finger at anyone.

    7. JennyFair*

      I work under NQA-1 and this kind of behavior can lead to revoked certifications and contracts for the entire company. This situation would require some serious paperwork to correct. I wouldn’t encourage them to lie better, though. Are you in a supervisory role?

    8. CheeryO*

      As someone who works for a regulating agency and deals with similar QA stuff all the time, this is something you absolutely must take to your manager. Falsification of records is a BIG deal, and yes, thermometer calibration is not the most important thing in the world, but it’s still illegal. If it means that people get reprimanded or fired, that’s just what it means. Personally, I feel like you have a duty to report it, but I understand that it’s not easy.

    9. Gene*

      I’m a regulator. If I see something like this on an audit, it’s an instant severe penalty, as in the fine starts at $1000/day and I publish the details in the local newspaper for all to see.

      If the calibration sheet doesn’t show who did the calibration, it needs to so the whole department isn’t responsible. Showing who did the calibration is basic documentation.

      This is something you need to tell the QA person, who may not know this particular thermometer only reads whole numbers and may think you aren’t doing your job if you are only recording whole numbers. It’s the QA person’s job to raise something like this with management.

      1. Anon for this*

        The log sheet does show who did the checks. It’s an electronic record and we have to log in with our name and password to log any numbers. The software shows which user entered every number, so it’s very easy to see who is entering the fake numbers.

      2. rubyrose*

        Yes to this! I’ve been reading all the comments and was wondering when the topic of recording who was doing the check would be mentioned.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Know your work environment.

      I worked retail for a while and no one ever checked the temp sheets. They’d look at it long enough to figure out if there were any blank spaces. There was so much we had to record/do that there was not enough higher ups to see if it all had been done. Even if someone checked it, the check was superficial at best.

      In my example here, I would make sure my own work was accurate and let the rest go. Not your hill to die on.
      However, if it eats at you that bad, you could mention it to your boss. Start by saying, “How concerned are we that X is happening?”

      In answer to your question, yes, they are probably fudging other things also. It happens in work environments where more and more tasks get dumped on people and there is not enough people to do all the work. Not saying this is right, I am just pointing out that this happens and often.

    11. Triceratops*

      Could it be that they’re seeing the mercury end up between 31 and 32 and saying “hey, that looks like 31.4 to me.” Still not an okay way to read that kind of thermometer, but possible that they are doing the check and just reporting sloppily!

    12. AndersonDarling*

      You can talk to your Quality Department. There have been cases where I have just walked by mentioned something that I thought was fishy but I didn’t want to start any trouble. Then the Quality Team can decide if it is important…and my name can be kept out of it. They will probably so some supervised audits of each tech. If you work where I think you could, then they probably will do an audit within a year or two.
      But yeah, faking validations is a huge deal.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I didn’t mean that to sound creepy…I just had a conversation with a group that works at a major US organization that has to do a lot of thermometer validations.

    13. JennyFair*

      On a related note, a single-point temperature check is not generally valid for thermometer calibration. They ought to be calibrated at multiple points within the stated range of the thermometer, and they should be verified against a lab-calibrated thermometer (we use a Fluke). If things are as lax as they seem, it might be worthwhile checking into whatever standard you’re meant to be using, to see if your procedure is even sufficient.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq*

        Is this new? The HACCP I did back when I had a job that required it only required calibration in ice water. There’s no way we would even have had access to a lab-calibrated thermometer.

        1. Liane*

          I did thermometer calibrations in QA/QC labs in the 90s and they were 3 point calibrations, in SOPs and regulations. (Water Quality and Pharmaceutical/medical device industries.)

        2. JennyFair*

          It all depends on what standard you’re held to, which is why I suggested checking on that standard :) It varies, but a thermometer can hit a single point and still be badly calibrated–kind of like the broken clock being right twice a day.

          1. Natalie*

            I experienced that with a kitchen thermometer – it was calibrated at freezing, but not at higher ranges. Pretty useless since I wanted it for checking meat.

    14. MK*

      I’m a Quality Manager at a food processing facility. I’ve had people report things like this and have caught them myself. I always keep their feedback anonymous when I address it, and you can bet your ass I address it and follow up until it stops.

      Tell the QA Manager.

    15. Student*

      From the context you’ve given here, your department is incredibly stupid and you should leave. Fahrenheit instead of Celsius, and a thermometer with a tech level from the 90’s, tells me everything I need to know about your operation.

      It tells me you don’t actually need to be doing this rote process every week, you don’t use the data for anything, none of you understand why you are doing it, and it’s possible the data doesn’t go to anybody at all who does know what’s happening. You do this thing because it’s always been done that way, because maybe there is some rule about it that’s not based in any facts, and that’s it.

      You could buy a thermometer online for ~$40 bucks that is more accurate and is read out digitally, automatically, with no need for somebody to write crap down (falsely) on a log. You could have it continuously record the data to a database for you. It pays for itself simply by virtue of your colleagues no longer putting you all in jeopardy for being fired, no?

      1. Anna*

        You are inferring quite a lot out very little actual information. It says to me that you are jumping to conclusions about an industry you probably know very little about, if anything at all.

        The OP states they are required to take the measurements, so let’s assume they know they need to take them and they know best why it’s done and how it’s done.

    16. Is Genevieve pronounced Jen A Veev or Zsahn Vee Ayve*

      If it’s this big of a deal, I think it needs to be brought up. Also, the method for recording needs to be changed. Either it needs to be a designated person, the same person, every week or there needs to be a log of WHO is doing the checking, so that it can be tracked back to them. Even as simple as their initials on their line of the log, or something. But I’m surprised, if this is technically something that could get a lot of people in big trouble, that there isn’t a bigger checks/balances system for who is recording the data.

    17. Anon right now*

      I work in QA and yes this is something that should be reported. Now this all depends on how good your QA department and managers are. If you have reasonable QA and management who actually believe in doing a good job ask the question, don’t make accusations about what other people are doing, just along the lines of “When I’m recording the data from the model 100 I can only report whole numbers should I be moving another model to get a more accurate reading to one decimal place?” Even if you know it’s not possible to use the other model ask the question don’t go to anyone saying people are falsifying Data unless you have seen it first hand. Treat it like a training issue you noticed others can give a decimal place and you need to know how to determine it.
      If there is a dysfunctional culture ask the same question but CYA, now here I am not sure about advice for the US but in Europe if you have proof you alerted your direct manager (so bcc your personal account in the email or print a copy for yourself) if they try to get rid of you you have an alternate reason they want rid of you and a huge problem for try to explain to the regulator when it gets mentioned in an unfair dismissals suit (which won’t happen because of the regulator thing)
      And yes I know, in my ‘ivory tower in QA’ it’s easy for me to say this, I don’t have to work with the people who will get in trouble every day of every shift but the thing is now you know, and there is documented evidence you knew (you record two things to one decimal place and one to none) if it gets discovered in an audit will your management just throw you under the bus? Claim you were the one who was wrong and try cover it up? My experience of auditors is mostly they are so busy they will just make a finding of “on certain days temperature was not recorded to one decimal place” and not go further.
      Tl/der Please make sure you can’t be put in the wrong, you are doing the right thing, make sure that can’t come back and bite you. Sorry it might make people upset with you but look after you

    18. AcademiaNut*

      You’ve caught people falsifying records, and you’re pretty sure they’re doing so in other situations that are harder to prove. You have good reason to believe that your supervisor would turn a blind eye and sweep it under the rug if you reported it to them. Your workplace has a culture of hiding other people’s wrongdoings in the name of ‘having each other’s back’ which makes you reluctant to speak up and afraid of retribution for being a snitch. And in your field, falsifying this sort of data is a big deal, fired for cause, regulatory bodies involved type of problem – it isn’t something minor.

      What this says to me is that you are working in the kind of place that surprise inspections and anonymous hotlines were designed for. They aren’t interested in following the law, and would rather protect the lawbreakers in favour of punishing anyone who dares to speak up, which is seriously dysfunctional.

      So yes, I’d say you should not report this to your boss, but definitely call a higher lever regulatory agency, preferably one with anonymity or protections for whistleblowers.

  8. Beancounter in Texas*

    About six months ago, I connected with a few recruiters and employment agencies, before temping and landing a regular job through temping. Now that I’ve been employed full time for three months, I’m still getting calls from these agencies and recruiters every once in a while and I’m unsure what to tell them. While I’m not 100% pleased with my current job, I’m comfortable enough that I don’t want to jump ship yet, so that my job history doesn’t look like I’m job hopping. I want to retain the relationships with the agencies, but I don’t want to waste their time by letting them believe I’m a potential candidate right now. What can I tell them when they call?

    1. bopper*

      I currently have a full time job so am not currently looking. However, is it possible for you to keep me on your list for the future if I have a need?

    2. Emmie*

      I’d say something like “I accepted a full-time position 3 months ago. I usually make long term commitments to employers. There are admittedly some things at this company that drive me to search for a different position a bit earlier – around October. I will be looking for x, y, and z.” Perhaps others have input too!

      1. zora*

        This is perfect. Give them an idea of a timeline, so that they can stop bugging you for now, but know that you don’t want them to delete your info.

        You definitely want them to have an idea of what you are looking for, a good staffing company thinks about long-term fit, and will want to know these things so they can help you find something really great for both you and the employer!

    3. Jenbug*

      Tell them you’re not currently looking and will contact them when you are ready to start your search again. It shouldn’t damage your relationship with them at all because it’s a pretty common thing.

    4. Sibley*

      Hey, I’m good for now, thanks, but I’ll keep you in mind if I want to start looking.

      Though I suspect that they do mail merge type emails periodically.

    5. Marisol*

      I like the idea of giving them a timeline as Emmie suggests and I personally would say almost exactly what you write above: “I’m not ready to jump ship yet, but I’d like to maintain my relationship with you for my future job searches.” I would also make a point to reinforce any personal connection you might have with them–schmooze, in other words. I always feel so indebted to my recruiters for basically handling my job search for me, and have gotten to know them somewhat over the years, that the schmoozing is genuine. Small talk, if you know any of the same people in the industry, that sort of thing. It never hurts to do that, both for political reasons (so that they remember you) and because relating to someone on a more personal level is kind.

    6. Honeybee*

      When recruiters e-mail me, I usually just respond back that I am currently happy with my position and not looking to leave, but I’d like to stay in contact with them to hear about future opportunities. In a few cases the recruiters have offered to have a short conversation with me anyway about what’s going on at their companies and I’ve sometimes accepted if the company is attractive enough.

    1. Creag an Tuire*

      I remember reading that and thinking “a lot of this matches Allison’s advice, if Allison were really foul-mouthed and fond of dick jokes”.

  9. HeyNonnyNonny*

    Well, this week has been pretty awful.

    I’m starting to get the idea that part of the reason I’m being rejected after interviews is that I look too young (I’m 25 but pretty often get assessed as 18 or so and I’m really short). I’m interviewing in libraries (with an MLIS), so I don’t usually go full-on suit for interviews and do minimal makeup, but does anyone recommend anything else?

    The latest rejection said I interviewed well but didn’t articulate why I was a good fit for the job as well as other candidates — this seems totally contradictory to me, so I have no idea what’s going on. My SO thinks they’re just avoiding telling me they simply didn’t like me. I use Allison’s guide and take all feedback to heart, so I’m lost. They also suggested I do programming at the job I currently have with them which is just four hours a week (while serving on the desk and doing other duties). I don’t know if she’s suggesting I plan programs outside work hours, but frankly, I have a full time job, two part time jobs, and I volunteer in five different capacities (no kidding). I was asked to apply for this position and had an internal reference. What else can I possibly do?

    I’m pretty jaded at this point but I have to get out of my current situation (see “pretty awful” above — I won’t get into details, but essentially, I’m seriously being taken advantage of financially at my job among other issues). Help?

    1. LQ*

      This doesn’t sound like a contradiction at all. You sound good, but you have to make it about That Specific Job. So if it is a job working with youth, why, what experience, etc. Talk about the community, talk about the neighborhood, talk about the things that matter for that job. What can you bring to this specific job. It might also be that someone else had experience at that library, in that community, in that specific part and so was just slightly edging you out because you were great but they were amazing. That happens sometimes too.

      I’m not entirely sure if this position was an internal job? If it was and your boss is open I think talking about what you can do to improve your chances (if your boss is that kind of boss). And take time to take care of yourself. With a schedule like that it sounds a little overwhelming. Good luck.

    2. GalFriday*

      I’m an associate director at an academic library. It sounds like you were interviewing internally – is that correct?Was the person you were interviewing with your current supervisor? If so, maybe you can bring up to them that you’d like to work more programming into your current working hours and ask how to best balance your other duties against that. Otherwise, it generally sounds like you need to apply to a different library if this is an awful situation for you.

      Their feedback also doesn’t make total sense, but as someone on the interviewer end, I do look for clear articulation from a candidate about what specifically they can bring to this job and why they’d be a good fit, both for the position and culturally.

      Also, speaking of culture, you may want to take that into account when you choose your attire and makeup for the interview. While libraries are generally more casual, we do expect men to interview in suits and women to interview in at least business casual (and I would argue for going a step above that).

      Good luck finding a position! That first professional library job is a tough one to get, but once you have one more doors will open.

    3. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Since you both asked, I’ll reply to my comment — it was internal, but at another branch (one where I worked for a year in circ before being promoted to a librarian position at another branch). I was hoping the promotion would open a lot of doors as I’ve seen it do for others and seems to be partially designed for, but it hasn’t been working out that way. They may not feel I’m a good fit for FT. I disagree, but I guess I can’t do much more about it than what I am now. I am considering reaching out to branch manager since she’s been in on all the interviews I’ve been to and seems to really like me but I want to be respectful of her time and not come across as entitled to the job.

      Thanks for the other bits, LQ and GalFriday. I’ll mull over it some more.

    4. SCAnonabrarian*

      No help, but all my sympathy. Library jobs are so hard to get into, and because most people are basically qualified and decent workers for a (let’s be honest not super mentally challenging job in most cases) it truly does most often come down to intangibles like “fit” and “personal connection” which unfortunately, there’s no real way to help someone with. You just have to mesh well with the department and the interviewer.

      I will say it does sound to me like the interviewer WAS asking you to make programming part of your 4-hour a week current job with them. Talk to your direct supervisor and say that the interviewer suggested it specifically, and ask if you can be involved in any planning or implementing on any level.

      Otherwise, unless you specifically want to be a programming librarian, or work in a department where that is a core competency (children’s departments, adult services departments) then I wouldn’t stress too much about that. Just keep applying and keep your head up. It’s a slow slog to get in anywhere, it really is.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Thanks. I really am interested in programming and had a program-heavy paid job in college that I thought would be a huge plus, but it’s mostly being ignored. I’m working on putting together a portfolio of those programs anyway as a sort of program model catalog for my professional blog to see if that helps any. All my positions are at libraries but the FT one is special so there’s really no programming to be done and the other two, I either don’t have time or am not in a position to put on programs due to the nature of the job and the schedule. So frustrating!

        But I appreciate the pep talk. FT is really toxic and it’s so discouraging to keep getting rejected.

        1. SCAnonabrarian*

          You’re welcome. I wish I could be more help.

          I will say that in my experience it is very common for libraries to discount any programming experience done in other contexts. I have no idea why, but there it is. If you DO want to go in for programming, even if you know your current positions aren’t a fit for it, consider talking to your various supervisors (or if you know them, and have the ok from your supervisors – going directly to the programming people) and telling them how much you really want to develop in that direction and to keep you in mind if they need any help at all with programming. It isn’t ideal, and they’ll probably brush you off, but at least you’ve got it in their ear that you are interested which they’ll hopefully remember later.

    5. fposte*

      If it was an internal position, looking young isn’t likely to have been a factor, because they know what you look like already. And your SO may be right, if they already know you, that they’re just not that into you and it’s not a place to look for advancement.

      However, “interview well” can mean a lot of things, but it almost never means “interviewed perfectly,” and it sounds like they needed more help from you to envision you in the role. That could mean presenting with more authority, more ownership, even more expertise (it sounds like there’s a possibility they were looking more programming experience than you have). But for me the first two are really important–I want not just to think a candidate would be okay in the job but to start building dreams on her, if you’ll pardon the slight hyperbole; a really strong candidate makes me aware of new places the job could go and problems she might be able to newly solve.

      While you shouldn’t remake yourself based on comments after a single interview, that might be worth thinking about; I also think you might be able to leverage your insider status to see if somebody involved in the process would be willing to chat with you more about your application package and the challenges you’re facing. Not in a “Why didn’t you give me the job?” way, but more like “I’m having a hard time making it past interviews and I think I could be stronger. You’ve seen me; if you told me two things to work on what would they be?”

      Good luck; I know the patchwork career thing gets really old.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Interesting points. I got the impression that, when I brought up some new directions we could take this position with (that were within the parameters of the job description — I wasn’t suggesting I teach how to fly an airplane, but suggested this could be a great opportunity to serve this overlooked community by doing X, Y, and Z and how I had a lot of ideas to make that happen and described some of those), they seemed a little nervous about it. Like, they’re much more about the status quo (which, frankly, I think is part of the reason they’re struggling with funding) than trying new things. Which is another reason why I’m concerned they just don’t think I’m a good fit at the end of the day (but then why keep interviewing me?).

        I did want to reach out to the branch manager, though we work at different locations so I don’t know I could sit down with her at any point. I just struggle with asking people for help because I feel like I’m not important enough/taking up their valuable time.

        Thank you.

        1. Grits McGee*

          I have a suspicious (and deeply cynical) feeling that the new ideas may have been an issue. I’ve only got some limited experience in academic libraries, but from what I’ve seen, the status quo can be a very powerful force, even if higher ups are supposedly hiring for someone to shake things up. The university library I worked in would set all of their poor new hires up for failure by selling applicants on how much they wanted change. Then, once the new person got started, cue the wailing, the screaming, and the gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes when new hire suggested investigating a new cataloging system.

          1. HeyNonnyNonny*

            This one’s a public library, but I’ve noticed they have a much more business-like mindset (both compared to the other branches in the system and as a whole system compared to nearby systems). It’s kind of shocking to me, given that my experience with the field as a whole has been much more about innovation, but I do think it’s entirely possible that’s a big part of what killed this one.

          2. ExcitedAndTerrified*

            In all fairness, a new cataloging system (ie, going from Dewey to LOC) often means changing all existing materials to match the new system… which is a LOT more time intensive than a lot of new hires ever seem to realize.

            It might even require changing your software, which can range from being a simple nightmare (finding new vendors, migrating data, fixing the errors that occur in migration, etc), to being downright impossible (you’re part of an integrated library consortium, and have to stay on the same software as everyone else).

            When you tell someone you want innovation and change as you hire them, you usually mean that you want to see easily tested and implemented suggestions first… not the plans for their proposed remodel of the building, or a complete retooling of your factory, or something similarly major.

        2. fposte*

          Yeah, with an internal hire, it really is possible that reasons given are less significant than “We’re just not feeling it.” But they also can keep calling you in for interviews and have it be legitimate every time. (I’d also say that building my dreams on a candidate doesn’t automatically mean her doing new stuff–the dream can also be that she’ll finally get us on an even keel and squelch all that bickering in youth services.)

          I think reaching out to the branch manager is a good plan, and you can ask for a scheduled phone call if you can’t sit down together.

      2. AnotherLibrarian*

        I really think above it good advice. I really would ask for more feedback after they have completed the process. I’d also say that I think interviewing internally is hard then interviewing externally. Been on both sides of this and it is hard on both sides. Good luck!

        1. HeyNonnyNonny*

          Yeah, I was hoping for some more substantial feedback when I asked the hiring manager. I’m hoping talking to the branch manager will help (and that no one takes it as going above anyone’s head or anything — the hiring manager is newish to the system and I’ve been interviewed by/sort of worked with the branch manager before, so…). Thanks!

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Am agreeing with fposte, as our board recently hired someone.
        Think of it from this perspective: They don’t know what they want. But when they see the right person they will jump.
        We needed someone to tell US what we needed. We are a group who is willing to accept advice/guidance but the person offering that advice must be in control of their subject. Saying,”I don’t know, I can look it up for you and get back to you” is fine. Offering to do something that shows you don’t understand our community is not fine.

        Honestly, you sound like you are spread too thin. You are probably great at what you do but it sounds like you don’t have time to do these great things. Now, you might be saying but-but-but, I am just pointing out as an interviewer I am going to wonder how you even have time to eat and sleep. The interviewer has no clue how their job would fit into your schedule and probably will not ask you that question. But it starts the seeds of doubt growing.

        My suggestions:
        Limit the number of part time jobs and volunteer jobs you list and talk about. Pick one of each that are most relevant and focus on those two. Being a super busy person is a minus not a plus.

        Research the place you apply to, know the place like you know your own hand. The candidate we selected could tell US our stats. She knew the history of our library. Their question to you is “what are you going to do for us?” That means you have to know THEM. If we were talking about the garment industry we would say we wanted a custom tailor NOT a mass manufacturer. Be very familiar with the place you are applying to. Tailor the garment to fit their own unique being.

        I don’t know how to describe this fully, our winning candidate came up with ideas and suggestions that were made to fit us. We could see her ideas would work in our setting. While other candidates were spread really thin and we could see it, this candidate only told us about two things she was doing. Her job and school. She could have been doing other things, but we did not know. She appeared as a very organized, quick thinking professional and she appeared highly focused on the knowing the needs of our library. Even when she interviewed and we showed her the building, she wandered around and asked questions, made out loud notes to herself and so on. She was highly involved from the moment when she walked in. Personally, I think she was asking herself, “Do I even want this job? Let me look around and see if I can work with what is here.”

        I hope this helps. You probably have plenty of good stuff to offer. Put a little more time into organizing what you want to say about the exact job you are applying for. And look outside your current employer, I think that is a given because of what you say here.

        PS: If our director came back and said that a person was refusing to do something that was asked of her, that would be a problem. We assume the director is being fair and choosing task assignments wisely. We assume that there were other things the director is also working with her staff. The fact that she mentioned this would cause us concern. If you feel that you are underpaid for what is asked, my suggestion is to start thinking about this by looking at the library’s financial statements. Where is the money going? Are there concerns about closing the library? Is library usage up or down?
        It’s been my own perspective that if I do not see how I am adding to/enhancing operations then it is reasonable to assume that I am detracting from what is going on. Yes, that’s a little harsh on myself. My belief is very seldom do things stay the same, they either get better or they get worse, even if the change is subtle, it’s still there. Make sure you are showing interest in improvements.

        1. HeyNonnyNonny*

          I really appreciate all the time and thought you put into this answer. I think there’s a lot of context missing that addresses some of this (and I want to reiterate I’m not refusing to do the programming and no one is truly assigning to me, just suggesting — I just don’t see how I can do it well while also working the reference desk, helping with circulation, doing book displays, etc., with just four hours a week and the position is only intended for those hours, so I can’t really get more).

          And I definitely don’t include all my volunteer positions when applying/interviewing — only what’s relevant. Most of them take very little time but have cycles of busy periods and my second job (not the 4-hour one) is on-call, so I’m free to take and leave shifts as I like. So it sounds like I’m busier than I am (but also, it’s not practical to do programming stuff when I’m not doing these other things, partly because I need time to sleep and such and partly because I wouldn’t be paid for that time and I’m pretty sure that’s illegal).

          I do find it challenging to address the specific library each time. I apply to different things so often that it’s hard to keep them straight. I did use the five year plan a lot in this interview and the prep, however, and brought it up and how my ideas would address various areas in it.

          I have a really clear idea of what I think this library needs, but like I said above, I think they’re not up for what they’re perceiving as a lot of risk, even though I’m bringing stuff that’s working fantastically from the neighboring system. The way I see it, I can only give a very educated guess on what they need (unless someone has a suggestion there I’m not thinking of? I do talk to folks in the system about this but everyone is vague about it) but I can’t read their minds.

          And I’m working on professional development. My current supervisor in that system asked me to do a particular task. I realized I didn’t really understand the big picture, so I took a several-week class on the topic, just for that purpose.

    6. College Career Counselor*

      You can interview well (personable, engaged, active listener, etc. ) and still not articulate how your experience/education/skills are a good fit for the job. You may well have articulated that, but the other candidates did it better in the eyes of the interviewers.

      If you’re really interested in getting more experience/exposure to this organization, I’d ask the person who suggests you do programming what that might look like or even ask bluntly if additional experience in that capacity might lead to greater consideration for fulltime employment. Also, if you’re doing five different volunteer activities, maybe you could let some of those go in favor of this, which might relate more to your employer of interest? Or is all your volunteer work at this employer?

    7. EA*

      A couple of items from someone who also looks younger then her age- although you may not need to wear a traditional suit to an interview, but you may want to think about the messaging of your interview clothes- I avoid skirts (I usually do wide legged trousers, shell top and blazer with a sensible heel) and jewelry other then my wedding ring and simple stud earrings for interviews.
      Also, emphasize your experience in your answers and make it clear that you have a variety of different job experiences.
      Just my two cents, I’m not currently interviewing as I’m in a position that’s a great fit for me, but spent 8 months of 2015 interviewing for positions and started to hone in on how to present myself during interviews

    8. Marzipan*

      That doesn’t sound contradictory to me. “You interviewed well” = you were a good candidate, there were no major problems with your responses and generally you came across well. “You didn’t articulate why you were a good fit for the job as well as other candidates” = a specific (and, potentially, actionable for the future) piece of feedback about what the successful candidate did more of in their interview to give them the edge over you. I know it’s really disappointing not to get the job, but I’m not hearing anything there that indicates they don’t like you. It’s really hard to give detailed feedback to good, appointable candidates who just missed out on a role, because the reason for them missing out often isn’t down to any real problem or deficiency with their application or interview, it’s just some small extra thing that another candidate brought to the table – which is a particularly frustrating situation to be in as the person who doesn’t get appointed, because all they can really tell you is “we thought you were great and you could definitely do the job, but we hired someone else”.

    9. Cass*

      I have a similar look – still mistaken for an intern at 28. I wonder whether it’s my general awkwardness sometimes. But for my interview for my current job, I tried hard to adopt a “fake it till you make it” type of confidence. Not sure if that will be helpful for you…

    10. Aisling*

      I also work in a library system with multiple branches, and if you’re getting interviews, it sounds like they do like you. This may be more of a “fit” issue than a qualification issue. I know coworkers who applied for a position at one branch, were rejected, and were hired on at another branch in the same type of position. Each branch and each department has their own culture, and if you’re not a good fit there wouldn’t really be any way to tell you that.

      I also think that if you’re an internal candidate, they will be expecting more from you than outside candidates. You know the system, you have access to strategic plans and goals, and should be able to tailor responses based on that. An outside candidate will be able to get away with “I’m not sure how you do it, but I would do…” answer, whereas you will be expected to know the policy.

      I would also refrain from giving ideas of how to expand the position unless they specifically asked you for ideas. Otherwise, it could sound like one of two things: that you don’t actually want the position advertised, and will continually bump heads with your supervisor trying to make it in to the position you want, or it could scare the library management because they’re happy with the status quo and are looking for someone who won’t rock the boat. There are positions where innovation is expected and appreciated, but it doesn’t sound like this is one.

      For programming experience- you wouldn’t necessarily have to do a program on your own from scratch. You can assist someone else with one or co-present, to make it easier for your schedule. Since they specifically mentioned that, I’d try to find a way to get a bit more experience.

    11. ExcitedAndTerrified*

      “I’m starting to get the idea that part of the reason I’m being rejected after interviews is that I look too young (I’m 25 but pretty often get assessed as 18 or so and I’m really short). I’m interviewing in libraries (with an MLIS), so I don’t usually go full-on suit for interviews and do minimal makeup, but does anyone recommend anything else?”

      Even though you won’t be wearing business clothing everyday, you should very definitely be dressing at a suit and tie level for your interviews (though I would recommend maintaining the minimal makeup). You have a degree that allows you to seek work with a professional title (Librarian), and are interviewing for work within that profession (libraries). Not dressing like a professional for the interview suggests to your interviewer that you don’t really think of yourself, or the position you’re applying for, as professional… which can be problematic on all sorts of levels. They don’t know if you’re likely to stick around, they might feel that you’re contemptuous of your own degree (and by extension theirs, if they have one), etc. Most business professionals don’t wear suits everyday anymore, but nearly all of them would expect to still wear one at an interview.

      This may also help you with your concern about your apparent age: Often the problem with looking too young as an employee is that you leave questions at the back of someone’s mind about how mature or experienced you are. Most people have been taught, over the course of their lives, to see formal clothing as a thing which signifies responsibility, decorum, power, status, and yes, even experience and maturity… so by dressing on a business level, you’re helping to allay the (quite possibly subconscious) concerns your interviewer might have about your maturity and experience, based on your appearance.

      Aside from that… I recently landed a position rolling out a Makerspace in a public library, and found it really helpful to have three different program ideas to talk about during the interview. Two of them should be rather basic and cheap, because money is always a problem in libraries, in my experience (I once got yelled at by a director for not buying the cheapest pens available for an ongoing adult coloring program. Difference between the packages? Oh, that was about $3 each, and we bought 10 packs a year. Annual budget for the facility? $1.8 million). One of them should be kind of off the wall, and might be expensive… but you mention that, saying something along the lines of “we’d have to make some partnerships/do some fundraising, but if we had the money, it would be kind of neat to do X”. Take a look at the library’s event calendar, and think of programs they haven’t offered before, if you can. And make note of anything that they have offered but aren’t anymore, which seems relevant to the position. Ask about that program in the interview, and try to find out why they aren’t offering it now (for instance, did they suspend computer training for manpower reasons, or because not enough people were interested?)

      Be excited about the facility and its future. Which means reading the strategic plan, looking at the history, and trying to get a feel about where the institution is going.

      Also… I have to admit that I’m not a fan of volunteering at a facility you hope to get hired at. To me, it feels too much like giving away free samples of my work. Why would they want to pay you as an employee, if they can get the same services for free, or for a small honorarium?

  10. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Just a rant: I have to work today in a keyboard intensive job with a badly sprained wrist on my dominant hand. Because I don’t get PTO as a contractor and my wife and I have $120 to our names till NEXT Friday. Because there was an issue that made my last project get cancelled, and my wife is having mental health issues and has been on disability or part time since the week after Thanksgiving. So I have to work with an actual injury because the form couldn’t get it together and my wife couldn’t stick it out.

    1. Temperance*

      Does your firm have speech-to-text software available that they can install for you while you’re injured? That sounds really frustrating.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Well, the actual work is mousing, which is right. But I can’t take notes to understand the documents, or easily type attorney comments or email.

        1. Red Reader*

          on the mousing — would it be possible to get a thumb-based trackball? Logitech has a fantastic one that’s not terribly expensive, and experience says it requires very little wrist movement to operate. It’s the Logitech M570, and I got mine through Amazon where it is currently $24.99, but it’s probably available in brick and mortar stores as well.

          That doesn’t help with the typing though :( That sucks, I’m sorry.

          1. Judy*

            You can also switch the mouse to use with the other hand, if it helps.

            What about using text to speech on your phone for notes, then transferring to the computer?

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I have one and it is wonderful, wonderful.

            Also, OP, grocery stores around here sell wrists braces for less than $10. If you go to a drug store it’s more than double that. I can tell you it was some of the best money I spent when I was having wrist trouble.
            Also arnica cream works well and has no scent. You can find that at a good grocery store also.

            These two things made a big difference in my wrist.

    2. anon today*

      Do you have a local food pantry you could go to for the next week or two? I’ve done that a couple times when I’ve had to take a sick day (always unpaid, so i feel you)…went this week actually and I got fresh basil in the produce bag!! Some let you ‘shop’ the various categories, too, so you can pick what you want. Made a yummy sauce with the diced tomatos, white beans, and olives I picked out, and then served it over whole wheat pasta they gave me….filling, nutritious, AND enough for leftovers! Sometimes I’ve felt a little guilty going, because in the grand scheme of things I’m better off financially than many of the people there, so I only go on the weeks I absolutely need to, and I only take enough food to supplement what I already have/can afford to buy.

    3. jelly bean*

      My husband also has mental health issues and took medical leave from work a few times over the past couple of years (each time at least two months long). I know from experience how difficult, scary, frustrating, and completely draining it is to deal with that kind of situation. My heart goes out to you, and I hope things get better very soon.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Thanks. Every time I try to talk about her working more hours now, she says pressuring her makes it worse; but she is the person with the stable job. OTOH, I just need to know that if a contract gets cancelled or I get fired, we can still, you know, live. And I feel like she’s ostriching about the facts that we had to move a bill over to next paycheck and only now have $120 left and have used all savings. When survival > health, you shouldn’t leave off work because you are anxious about it (and I say that as someone with anxiety).

        1. jelly bean*

          Yes. It is so hard to be the strong one while your spouse is falling apart. You want to fall apart, too, and you just can’t because someone has to keep everything together. It taught me, though, that I was capable of being the strong one — I didn’t know I had that in me. It might sound silly, but the Wilson Phillips song “Hold On” ran through my head a lot during those times. Sometimes all I felt able to do was hold on for one more day, but each day became another and we got through it. I don’t know what your wife is going through, but medication and talk therapy worked very well for my husband. It enabled him to go back to work and recently he was able to move on to something much less stressful and better suited to him.

          Your post brought back so many memories, and made me realize that we did, in fact, get through those dark days when everything seemed hopeless. You’ll get through them, too. You’re in my thoughts today.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Couples can take turns “carrying” each other, one person seems to be working on a side issue and the other person seems to be keeping everything afloat. It’s daunting and that is on a good day.

            One thing I have done is decide to constantly look at spending in good times and in a bad times. It seems to make it less torture when times get tight because it is my habit to watch recurring expenditures anyway. Unfortunately, I had to decide on this new life habit BECAUSE things got tight. Once in place, however, it’s a keeper and it’s been a very helpful habit to have. This is something that plays out over time and not something that offers immediate satisfaction or help, though. Sorry, OP. I wish I could just make a wish and things would get easier for you right now.

            1. Schmitt*

              That’s how these things go, yeah – I carried my wife when she was unemployed and she carried me when I broke my ankle.

              I read once that a marriage is always made up of 100%. Sometimes you are the one giving 90% and sometimes you are only able to give 10%, and that’s OK.

            2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

              This. When I was off for four months between jobs with the back injury the other half got up every day and went to work and his check paid most of the bills. Thankfully we had some savings, and while it would have been nice to have delayed starting until after the holidays, it would have been a waste of cash and taken us down to almost zero. He carried us for that time, so I went back to work and sucked it up (not so much pain, just really tired). Actually I got stronger because I was back on the commute.

              I helped carry him while he finished school, he also covered when he got a job first when we moved here. If hes sick, I do the cooking, if I’m having “a day”, I tell him I need to go “take time out” and he will start dinner until I am calmed down. We definitely don’t keep score, its just knowing that if you are down someone is there to back you up and vice versa.

              For some good filling recipes for not much cash, try She has some great ideas using basic pantry staples.

        2. Christy*

          Is your wife in treatment for her mental health issues? It’s got to be so hard for you to be the one keeping it all together. I’m the one with the mental health issues in my marriage, and I definitely understand your wife feeling paralyzed with anxiety, but eventually something has to change. For me, it was therapy, Wellbutrin, and Xanax. I’m lucky that I have health insurance, but I really think your wife needs treatment, even if it involves (more) debt. Without treatment it’s hard to see a path forward.

          In the meantime if treatment really isn’t something you can afford or she can handle right now, could you and she begin an exercise regimen? I HATE when people are like “yoga is my therapy” but I have to admit that regular cardio and yoga have both really helped my mental health, particularly when combined with, you know, medication and therapy. It might be a tiny first step for her to take to help. (For me, it had to be in the order: therapy, then general exercise, then concerted exercise, then medication, then yoga. Couldn’t have started treating my anxiety any other way.)

          I’ll be thinking of you.

          1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

            She is, and we already work out. The thing is, after the election some stuff happened to me, since I am the Most Gay of us. She needed to be off briefly then because it caused so much fear and depression for her, and then decided if she was already off, she might as well work on some other issues relating to abuse as a kid. Once that started, she couldn’t just put it away and go back to work.

        3. VolunteercoordinatorinNOVA*

          I’m sorry you’re going through a tough time. NAMI (the national alliance on mental illness) offers support groups for families members of people living with mental illness. It can be really beneficial to have some outside people to support you when your partner is struggling. I really struggled with self care when my ex was struggling and just having someone else to talk to about it made a world of difference. You can find out if there are meetings near you here:

        4. bluesboy*

          I can’t offer much advice, but I feel for you. Spent a month in a keyboard intensive job 18 months ago with a broken arm, so I know how awkward it is, and like you, I was the one taking the family finances on my shoulders. I’ve also lived through the ‘got to somehow make this money get us through to the end of the month’ experience.

          I am racking my brains to try and think of something practical to say, but really can’t other than to reiterate the suggestion up thread to use organisations that provide help with groceries. Too many people think ‘those are for other people’, or for people worse off than me, or their pride gets in the way. Well you know what? You pay your taxes, I’m sure you make charity donations when you can, and these services are for people like you too, not only unemployed or losing their homes. If it makes you feel better about it commit yourself to giving them a donation in a better moment to pay it back/forward.

          Best of luck getting past this.

    4. NaoNao*

      Is there a way you can “outsource” the budget and work discussion? Like maybe start using budgeting software + a working calendar with $$ attached so she can SEE how much the part time work is costing your family?
      Alternatively, can you move the discussion away from what you don’t have and onto what you can do? Like “Okay, let’s proactively parcel this $120.00. Spouse, help me list our expenses, please. Let’s see, bus pass…30$. Food, 50$.” and so on. Maybe that will wake her up to the fact that you need more money, stat.
      If you continue to make it work for both of you while she is having issues, she’ll likely continue to have issues. That’s not saying the issues aren’t real! But if you sort of…drop a little of the “making it work” part (say, letting subscription services lapse, saying “I’m sorry, we don’t have the money for coffee runs, hon” rather than gritting your teeth and going hungry while she has her coffee, telling her “okay, you have 60$ to last 2 weeks. What you do with it is up to you.” and so on.) she may realize “Oh, I kind of have to work it out and figure out how to work through this anxiety.”

    5. Anono-me*

      I second the grocery or big box store wrist wraps.

      A couple of suggestions for all of the other challenges you are dealing with.

      Short term Google “Fare for All” this is a cooperative food buying program. Savings tend to be significant. Go somewhere green like a greenhouse or conservatory. Go somewhere you can feel safe

      Can you ask to meet with your wife’s therapist to discuss healthy and productive ways you can support her and your self. (Remember what airlines say about 02 masks.)

      Take care of yourselves.

  11. Pup Seal*

    I had a job interview yesterday. It went well, and I think I was the last person they interviewed for the position. Really nervous because the job sounds great and a great fit for me, but where I live many people have the same job skill set as I do. I’m sure this position had many applicants.

    And if you live in the Midwest, it is soooooo cold out! My office is next to a loading dock where people are constantly going in and out. I just hope the pipes don’t freeze and burst like they did last year.

    1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

      I know! At least there are skyways where I am! I almost missed my commuter bus today though because it was just too cold to want to leave my car at the park and ride.

    2. Anon13*

      Good luck with the job!

      And I live in Ohio, so it may be even worse where you are, but it’s 6 degrees here, so I understand your pain!

      1. Pup Seal*

        My car said it was 0 degrees when I was driving in this morning. I’ll take that extra 6 degrees!

    3. Rachel*

      We’re up to 4 degrees where I am! It was 0 degrees when I left for work this morning. My feet are still cold!

      1. SophieChotek*

        Minus two here (up 2 degrees from minus 4 a few hours ago). “It feels like” minus 13.
        Tomorrow at least the high will be a single did above zero.
        Sitting here with my hat on, and my jacket,and fingerless gloves and a fleece blanket over my legs.
        Yay winter (???)

        1. Coalea*

          It’s a balmy 19 where I am, but I’m still wrapped in a blanket and wearing a scarf and 2 pairs of socks. Do those fingerless gloves work well? My hands are freezing!

          1. SophieChotek*

            They definitely help! My hands are still colder, but it’s an improvement over what they were.
            (I cannot type with full gloves one; tried but just couldn’t quite get the traction I needed plus sometimes they didn’t quite fit right so then I’d hit the wrong key.) I was lucky and found a pair of fingerless gloves (including the thumb) at Target that are thinner cotton at Target for under $3 for the pair. The quality is average, but I tried the fingerless gloves-with-covered-thumb-fleece pair (Eddie Bauer) and that was way too bulky.

          2. silence*

            finger less gloves are good. What’s even better is heated fingerless gloves that you plug into a usb port.

      2. Tris Prior*

        It was 1 when I left the house this morning. Now it’s up to 7. Heat wave! :P

        I really wish “calling in cold” was a thing.

    4. Marillenbaum*

      I feel you–I’m visiting my parents back in Utah, and it’s four degrees today. And my mother accidentally grabbed my gloves AND hers when she left for work this morning. Guess who’s not leaving the house today?

    5. Electric Hedgehog*

      Wow, I’m glad I live in Tucson. It’ll hit 61 today. Plus, housing is cheap! The trick is, of course, finding a decent job…

        1. Charlie*

          I have family in Tucson. If you live in the right part of town, I rather like it. The summers are brutal, but it’s mild in the spring and fall, and the mountains are right there.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I had to turn up the heater today. Which I hate doing because gas is expensive. I supplement with electric radiators, but they can’t handle deep cold by themselves. ALL the windows are shrink-wrapped but this house is made of cardboard.

      I don’t think I’ll walk outside today. Tomorrow is supposed to be 31 so I can do it then.

      1. NaoNao*

        Elizabeth, I don’t want to “out” you but any chance you’re in the Denver area? It’s supposed to be 31 here tomorrow too! I ask because my mega-corp (which I will name in a private email if you are in my area) is always hiring and I may have some possible contacts/possible leads for you if you are!! And if you aren’t, this corp owns ALL OF AMERICA HA AHAHAHAH (just kidding. kind of.) so I may be able to direct you to some at least part time/for now type work in your area!
        Internet me! (The 2017 version of “call me”)

    7. Zip Silver*

      Dropped down to 81 here in Florida. I might not run the AC today, depending on if I get today or not.

  12. Temperance*

    I’m currently engaged in a game of “not my job” chicken with our Diversity Program Coordinator. Her strategy was to loop me in on something that has nothing to do with me so I would take over, so I’m playing dumb and just forwarded her my information for the project.

    I’m determined not to help her/take over this very unpleasant, and boring task that has nothing to do with my job. Has anyone else done this? Any good strategies for working with a pusher? I’m currently pretending not to recognize what she’s doing.

    1. Lindsey*

      Yes, you’re handling this the perfect way.

      Honestly, though, if this is just someone’s personality (and OMG I had one of those), then you need to be super-explicit. “Hey, saw that you forwarded me XYZ, is there something you wanted me to do with that? It’s not in my scope, so are you just keeping me in the loop?”

      Just play dumb and continue to push on why they’re sending you things until they admit that it has nothing to do with you.

      1. Temperance*

        It’s totally her personality, but if I ASK her, she’s going to say “oh, it’s so you can do the MLK Day planning!”, which, you know, is Not My Job. If I ignore it, she’ll have to either do it herself or ask me directly. Pretty much it can’t come back to me if it doesn’t get done, but has massive consequences for her, since it’s basically her whole job.

        1. Emac*

          I think the playing dumb and ignoring it works. But if you want to try to get her to stop, could you say something like: “Just FYI – X actually isn’t part of my job, so you don’t need to keep me in the loop on that, thanks.”

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Or “Did you mean to send this to somebody else? It’s not my project so I thought maybe auto-fill took over.”

    2. Emily*

      I can totally relate to this! My supervisor takes care of A/R, while I take care of A/P. He is always forwarding me A/R related requests to avoid doing them himself. I think you are handling it correctly!

    3. Jadelyn*

      If she keeps it up, it’s looking like you’re going to get stuck with it, and you know you can trust your manager to have your back on this, I’d cc your boss on a reply and say something like “I just want to make sure I’m clear – you want me to do X, Y, and Z, right? I’m not sure that’s feasible with my workload right now, in order to take that on I’d have to drop A, B, and C. Boss, how would you like me to prioritize this?” It’s kind of a last-resort ploy because if your boss sides with your coworker you get stuck with the task – but if she won’t drop it, and if you know your boss is willing to help you protect your time so you can work on your actual job, this is a polite way to say “boss, tell her to leave me alone so I can do my real job.” I’ve used this before because my manager and I have talked explicitly about my needing to push back on some people, and she’s told me she is happy to be the cavalry and come riding in to run interference when I need it, but it really really depends on if you’ve got that kind of manager!

      1. Temperance*

        The beautiful thing about this is that the task is explicitly within her job description and seriously nowhere near mine. I did let my boss know that Diversity Coordinator was pushing work again, and that I was handling by pretending to ignore it (since this is DC’s strategy, because once you CALL HER on it, she’ll claim that’s not what she was doing at all). I don’t even owe her an explanation of me not doing her job.

        My boss won’t side with DC because she wants me to do my job. ;)

    4. TL -*

      Can you give her a unacceptably long timeline? If she asks you to do something, you can semi-agree by saying you’d love to help and you’d probably have time in July (for instance), based on your current schedule.

      1. Temperance*

        It’s for a project that is happening in 2 weeks, so no. Plus, she’s not my superior – rank-wise, she’s probably actually beneath me because she’s a secretary, too. I’m not budging on this one.

        1. TL -*

          Well that’s what I meant – oh, I wouldn’t have time for this until Feb. 3rd, so if you still need help then, just let me know.
          But that’s only if you’ll get pushback for ever saying no (I had a job like that so that was an excellent strategy.) If not, I think you can just ignore and say no if it comes to it.

    5. CM*

      I agree that ignoring and playing dumb is the best strategy, and you should stick with it! To the point where, if she comes out and asks you outright to do something, you could reply, “Oh, did you need help with that? I thought you were just copying me on emails so I would be informed. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to help you with that because I’m focused on X and Y.”

      Actually, I just dealt with a “pusher” by sending a super friendly note that said, “Hi Pusher! Sorry, I can’t help with that. Hope you’re doing well!” And I got an “ok, thanks” back. It felt good.

    6. AndersonDarling*

      Ooo, I’m on fire remembering one of our directors that would pull this sort of trick. She would say she needed someone trained to back up a process, then spring the full responsibility on them in the training.

    7. Dr. Doll*

      Mmpf. I like CM’s approach: direct. “Sorry, I can’t help with that further than the information I’ve already sent.” (And I’d even be tempted to leave off the sorry.)

    8. Poster Child*

      If she’s not asking you for something directly, ignoring it is the right response. She needs to be direct if she wants you to do something outside your job scope, and thus allow you to say yes or no.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t let it go on and on.
      I tell the boss it’s time for intercession. And the boss tells the person to cut the crap.
      Over. Done.

      And I am the type of person who will help anyone. I refuse to do their job for them, though.

    10. Marisol*

      I see nothing wrong with playing dumb. It seems to me that if push comes to shove and anyone gets called out, you won’t get into trouble, she will. Like no one will be saying to you, “Temperance, why didn’t you take action on that project?” and if they did, you’d simply say, “why would I? It’s not my job” and that’s kind of the last word on the subject–what can they say to that? You have all the power in this situation as I’m sure you know. So I’m not sure I’d be proactive about pushing back, but if it happens so frequently that the volume of emails is a problem, and you do want to push back, perhaps you could respond by telling her to take you off the distribution list: “Prudence, thanks for keeping me in the loop. Unfortunately I receive so many emails that I’m not able to monitor this topic. Please take me off the distribution list. Thanks.”

      So you’re not asking, you’re *telling*, and then if this should come up again in the future, you can make a case for insubordination (or something along those lines) because you politely and clearly made a request which she chose to ignore. It’s sort of a nice way to lay the groundwork for getting her into trouble, should you choose to go that route. And it’s unlikely that she would balk at your request, since that would bring her weaseling out into the light. More likely, she’ll just slither off. Unless your office is majorly political and dramatic, in which case, she’ll fight you, but you will win.

    11. Anon3*

      Yep- ignore. My co-worker wasn’t doing her job. I’d overhear my boss asking her over and over again regarding a certain project. Then he started “looping” me into emails and meetings. I just didn’t respond to any emails, and sat smiling quietly at meetings. I had enough on my plate.

  13. Karanda Baywood*

    Pet Peeve time:

    Coworker who drags his feet as he walks. “Schlump schlump schlump schlump…”

      1. Audiophile*

        Anyone who does this, either at work or in the house, gets on my nerves. Just blow your nose, it’s so much easier.

        1. Simms*

          Depending on the shape of their sinuses it may not be. I get no relief from blowing my nose, it’ll just keep dripping/running until I sniff.

          1. Audiophile*

            It’s not an issue so much at work, as it is with my siblings. I’d hazard a guess that it’s the shape of their sinuses and it’s just because they don’t want to be bothered to get up and blow their nose. They’d rather just sit there and sniff.

        2. silence*

          that’s my opinion also but worked in the same room as someone who thought nose blowing was rude and sniffing was so much more polite. I kept offering her tissues until she asked me to go to the bathroom any time I needed to blow my nose at which point I realised we were coming from such different perspectives on what was polite and gave up. We were not compatible office mates in cold season.

    1. Amadeo*

      The Office Whistler, The Office Hummer.

      Or that coworker who likes to talk so much that in order to avoid being dragged into an hour-long conversation about nothing you have to answer them and keep walking away as you do. Because if you stop, you’re sunk.

      1. DaBlonde*

        I had a manager that would talk to you nonstop if you went into her office.
        My coworkers and I actually set up a system of rescuing each other after about ten minutes.

      2. Drew*

        We have one of those who works in another building, so when she comes over to our building it’s like she has entire conversations saved up and ready to spring on us. I’ve gotten really good at noncommittal “Huh, interesting, gotta email now” responses, but the guy right next to me gets sucked in every time.

        She is also one of those people who understands that my headphones mean “I’m concentrating, do not interrupt,” but not one of the ones who takes the next step to “So please email me or come back later when I’m not so focused”; she just stands there, barely in my line of sight, until I HAVE to stop what I’m doing because her presence is more distracting than just straight up interrupting me would be. Annoyingly, she is not the only person in my office who does this, nor is she the most frequent offender. It’s to the point now where I’ll just preemptively say, “I need to get this done, so please email or IM me instead” as soon as someone comes to my desk and stops.

    2. Hermione*

      The way my next-door neighbor pounces out of her office in one quick swoop: “Creak-SWOOSH-thud!”

    3. Leatherwings*

      The loud chewer. Everyone has to eat lunch, I get it and give you a pass for an hour each day. But if you snack all day, you better do it quietly.

      1. MaggiePi*

        Ice eater! All day long. I can’t stand that sound.
        Continues to eat ice while complaining that’s it’s cold in here… Ugh.

      2. Electric Hedgehog*

        Apparently someone in a previous job lodged a complaint about how loudly I eat apples. Apparently the acoustics in my mouth are perfect for a crunchy symphony of annoyance. Oops.

      3. BAS*

        I apparently eat crunchy snacks in a highly irritating way (we saw a viral video of an otter eating all NOM NOM NOM and it was said to eat like I do), so at the request of my coworkers, I no longer eat the veggie straws. It’s not a big deal to me and I’d rather not set them on edge.

    4. Jules the First*

      The guy with the radio who genuinely thinks it makes the office a “funner” place to work.

          1. Audiophile*

            I sit near someone who plays music. It’s usually at a low volume, which can be good but also irritating. Many times I can still hear it faintly and I’ll ask “what’s that noise? Do you hear it too?”

    5. Temperance*

      The annoying person who will send you something to do, and then check on you every 15 minutes to see whether it’s done. There is one assistant in my office who will send me something to process, and then harass me until it’s done, even if I have more urgent work.

      1. Late & Gone Anon*

        UGH, yes. In a similar vein, grandboss will email something then call to make sure you got it (which is bad enough). What’s worse is that he’ll keep you on the phone for a loooong time discussing it, then ask why you haven’t yet started the thing. So tempted to vent to him, “I would have started that project but I got a call that’s lasted 45 minutes discussing the importance of the project. I’m still handling the call now, but will get to it shortly- if you let me!”

    6. Maxwell Edison*

      People (aka my brother-in-law) who tell me that self-employment/full-time freelancing = “funemployment” or “retirement.”

        1. PurpleHairChick*

          I have a co-worker what critiques my lunch everyday, trying to give me “health tips”. I am a little bigger than I should be but I didnt ask for his advice. I usually eat fairly well but he even tells me how to have a healthier salad. Meanwhile he eat french fries, gravy with cheese curds on them at least three to four times a week for lunch. Why on earth do people think its okay to comment on what others eat?! Let me eat my salad in peace!

          1. MoinMoin*

            To piggyback on this, the people that assume you’re doing something because it’s healthy but they of course know better.
            “You know, there are more calories in that salad than a burger.”
            Maybe I just like salad!

            1. Trix*

              Yes, this!

              Or they ask what I got for lunch, and I’ll say a salad, and they’ll respond with “Oh, good for you, trying to be healthy?”

    7. Lemon Zinger*

      Coworker who invades my personal space and comes up RIGHT next to me in my cubicle when she wants to talk. I never go into her space, so it’s especially irritating that she comes into mine.

      1. Anon13*

        My boss does this! Instead of just coming into my office, he gets right up next to me, behind my desk, or right behind me. It weirdly flusters me.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Ugh. I hate doing it but we have to tell the space invaders to step back. For the most part I have only had to say it once to any given individual. Say it and get it out there in the open.

      1. Nanc*

        Yes! The worst flip flop offender in our building works for another company. She’s about 5′ tall and 90 lbs but the volume of the THWAP THWAP THWAP she generates as she walks is astounding. She’s a very sweet woman but when you hear her coming you wonder if a sumo wrestler is heading your way.

    8. Former Retail Manager*

      New co-worker who walks up and down the aisle past my cubicle like every 30-45 mins. (he is not going to the restroom…he’s just up walking around) I don’t wear headphones and find it distracting. Also, all of the co-workers who are “trying to get in their 10,000 steps for the day” that also walk up and down every single row of cubicles. We literally have like 7 or 8 of these people. If I hear someone coming, it’s usually because they need to speak to me, so I pause what I’m doing upon their approach only to realize that it’s just a “walker.” Sit the F down or get a treadmill desk.

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        Oops, that is me. I try to mix it up by walking past different rows and using the stairs but until it warms up outside I don’t have a lot of options. But I never walk down deadend rows or anything like that.

    9. Weeeeeeeeeeeee*

      We’ve got scream-sneezers! Scares the crap out of me every time because it comes out of nowhere.

      1. MaggiePi*

        I am one of these. I apologize for others of my kind.
        I don’t mean to be, but if I try to hold it in at all, it really hurts and can make my ears pop. If it’s any consolation, I don’t enjoy it either!

        1. CanadianNatasha*

          I’ll add my apology! I’m an loud sneezer too. And mine generally come in 3’s so it’s not just the one big sneeze. I have probably scared coworkers with my sneezes a few times. Honestly, I don’t get how some people can have those tiny kitten sneezes; my body doesn’t allow me to suppress the sneeze pressure like that (and trust me I’ve tried!).

          Ha, after writing sneeze that many times it doesn’t look like a real word anymore.

      2. Mephyle*

        I apologize too. I used to sneeze reasonably, and then something happened a couple years ago, I don’t know what it was but it had to do with some soreness in my hips. So, holding my abs in so that sneezes wouldn’t be so painful turned them into loudly vocalized sneezes and even though my soreness is long gone, I can’t fix the sneezes. The first one always still comes out loudly vocalized. Yet I still hate it just as much when others sneeze weird and/or loud.

    10. Synonymous*

      The SUPERVISOR who comes into your cube to talk about nothing for hour(s). Luckily I work in a 4-person cube, so when I’ve had enough, I just turn to my computer like I just remembered I have something urgent to work on.

    11. zora*

      My coworker who grabs the snack bags, takes them to her desk, and then sticks her hand in the bag and eats from it directly. She just shrugged me off everytime I suggested using the small plates we have. GAH, drives me nuts.

      And not coworkers but office neighbors who put their mugs in the sink instead of in the clearly marked bright red bins that say DIRTY MUGS.

        1. Lillian Styx*

          In my case I don’t think they do! Some of them have no clue how to load a dishwasher. Cups on the bottom rack!? Insanity!

          I don’t say anything but I do rearrange it when no one is looking…

          1. zora*

            We have people who are paid to load and run and empty the dishwashers. All we have to do is put them in the bins instead of in the sink, I don’t understand why that is so hard, it’s literally 4 inches from the sink. I’m about to become That Guy and start pointing it out to people when I see them do it, even though we don’t know each other, we just work on the same floor.

    12. Marillenbaum*

      This was my grandmother’s biggest pet peeve. Failure to comply would result in cries of “Pick up your feet, you’re not in an asylum!” and being passed over for the last slice of cake.

      1. NaoNao*

        That made me laugh! My mom, in a more simpler time (the 80’s) would say “Do you want people to hand you a quarter because they think you’re [disabled, except she didn’t say that!]? Pick up your feet!”

    13. Canadian Natasha*

      Coworker who leans on the back of my office chair hard enough to make it tilt when I show her something on my computer. No touchy touchy! >:-(

        1. Canadian Natasha*

          I did finally say something to her about it but it took me a really long time. I have strong preferences around personal space which I’ve been told all my life are excessive (For example, my family all like to put their feet up on the bottom rung of the chair next to them when we’re sitting at the kitchen table. I can’t stand having someone’s feet on my chair- I can feel it! They think I’m oversensitive.) so I was uncomfortable asserting myself with my coworker.

          1. pugsnbourbon*

            I am, sadly, like your family members. I know it’s a bad habit. It was worst in school when I’d put my feet on the little “basket” under the chair in front of me. My best friend slapped my leg once because she just couldn’t deal anymore.

            1. Kai*

              Oh man, I used to do that all the time too and had forgotten about that basket until now! I wonder if I annoyed any of my classmates…

          2. Arjay*

            I am like you. :)
            Yesterday someone was talking to the woman at the desk in front of mine. We’re searated by a low cube wall, so I get the illusion of privacy when we’re sitting down. The “visitor” was standing by the wall, so sort of inbetween the two of us who were seated. And she put her eyeglasses down on the corner of my desk. The encroachment made me very tense.

            1. Clever Name*

              I would feel the same. And you really can’t say “Can you move your glasses from my space?” without looking unreasonable.

              1. Canadian Natasha*

                Oh, yes. The desk encroachment is so aggravating and you just can’t say anything without seeming like a jerk. And – even worse – don’t get me started on people putting stuff on my chair. One day I may just lose it and start shouting “I sit on this chair, it is not a filing cabinet!” and throw papers in the air like an angry gorilla. (only sort of joking)

          3. Mimmy*

            Oh god are you me?? I can’t STAND having someone’s feet on my chair – drove me nuts in grammar and high school (this was among my many sensitivities).

            1. Canadian Natasha*

              Do you also have peeves involving people flossing, nail picking/clipping, and toothpick using in your vicinity? If so, we may actually be the same person. ;)

    14. Manders*

      Whispering, especially whispering in the break room and making a show of covering your mouth with your hand or glancing pointedly at another person in the room who’s just out of earshot. I have a coworker who does this and it is So. Weird.

      And she has her own office with a door, so if she had something to say in private, she could just invite others in there. But no, she prefers to whisper with an audience.

    15. Older and sadly wiser*

      Cubicle next to the only bathroom AND the supply closet. I’m an accountant, it’s year-end and I just spent the last 2 days covering for another employee on sick leave so I’m behind and NO – I DON’T WANT TO TALK. Even though I’m ignoring people (with head down working) they stand there until I acknowledge them.

    16. Rache*

      I have misophonia… I’m currently using earbuds because the gentleman in the cube near mine has to eat potato chips. Every day.

    17. JustaTech*

      I appreciate the loud walker (but not he guy who drags his hand along the cube walls) because I am easily startled and a shriek-er, so it’s better for everyone if you don’t surprise me.

      1. Karanda Baywood*

        The easily startled shrieker.

        JK. I’m easily startled as well, and I jump right out of my seat.

    18. kbeers*

      My admin, who comments on everything on my schedule and is obviously trying to get the details.
      Her: “Oh, so you’re going to be in late tomorrow…?”
      Me: “Yep.” Turns back to very important email…

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have both an office chomper and an office slurper, plus an annoyingly enthusiastic phone answerer. I swear one of these days they will break into “Oh what a beautiful morning” or “The sun has got his hat on”.

      2. Marisol*

        you didn’t ask for advice, but I am an executive assistant and am going to offer it anyway. You need to tell your admin what your communication preferences are. She may be under the impression that she needs to know your schedule–my boss always tells me exactly what his plans are and I am expected to know this information; it’s part of my job, and is a general requirement of assistants at many firms. If that’s not the case in your office, great, it’s one less thing she needs to worry about. Just say something like, “I appreciate your conscientiousness, but actually, you don’t have to monitor my schedule so closely. I will let you know the relevant details” and if she bothers you at an inopportune time, then tell her when you do want to speak: “mornings are when I focus on emails. I’d rather talk when I get back from lunch.” Managing an assistant is a skill set that is learned like anything else.

    19. Babs*

      Serious question: Can a repetitive noise cause misophonia?
      I usually have patience for pretty much anyone’s chewing, coughing, snot slurping. Except for my cubical neighbor. Earbuds/music don’t help because I can hear him over it. I brace myself for the stream that starts with a snot slurp, then clear the throat ( phlemmy enough to make me want to gag), him swallowing loudly and then cough-cough about (no exaggeration) every 90 seconds during the day.

      Please say a prayer I make it thru today…he has a cold and he went to the “urgency room” yesterday.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Maybe? Clearing your throat once or twice doesn’t impact me (I also suffer from misophonia). Doing it all day drives me up a freaking wall.

      2. Manders*

        I think it might aggravate a mild case of it. My misophonia isn’t usually too bad, but I had a coworker who was sort of… proud of her lingering chest cough (she was a weird one, she could have stopped it with medication but she told me that she chose not to). After about two weeks of it, my anxiety was permanently heightened.

        I never was able to stop associating her with that feeling of anxiety, although her behavior went off the rails in other ways around that time too.

    20. Anony*

      Office mate who doesn’t mute her phone, then sits in our office and deposits multiple checks into her bank account by taking pictures of them. *snap* *snap* *snap* *snap*

    21. Not So NewReader*

      Dragging the feet: This can be an early symptom of heart disease.

      Maybe you can coax yourself into not letting it annoy you by telling yourself “At least he is not flat on his back in an ambulance and I am glad about that”.

      I dragged my feet when I was a kid. I have many memories of being snapped at “Don’t drag your feet.” I had no idea how to stop dragging my feet. Yep, I was born with heart issues. People who have a bum ticker really have a hard time a) figuring out what they are doing wrong and b) staying on track to correct it. Picture someone strapped cinder blocks to each of your ankles. Now you have to walk around with cinder blocks on each ankle. The adults looked ridiculous to me when they told me to pick up my very heavy feet. They appeared to be clueless.

      As an adult, I got into doing some healthy things that have had major impact on my heart health. I did eventually train my brain to pick up my feet and I see now with proper nutrition I pick up my feet without even thinking about it. Added bonus, I no longer walk over on the sides of my shoes either. Life is good.

      Try to frame it as “his dragging feet could be a symptom of a bigger problem” and see if that helps you to not be so annoyed by it.

      1. Girasol*

        Also badly fitting shoes. Women’s slip ons (like heels) have so little in their design to make them cling firmly to feet. And I got “stop dragging your feet!” from a teacher who didn’t understand that I was supposed to grow into those loafers.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I have a novelty fish screen cleaner, whose nose/snout makes an excellent screen pointer and his fins are made of fake chamois.

    22. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Mumblers. Combined with people who insist on holding their hand in front of their face when they talk. I was born with a hearing impairment and these people are like kryptonite for a guy who relies on reading lips. Hearing aids only help so much.

      1. Red Reader*

        Oh god yes. The number of times I have had to tell my housemate, “I cannot hear you when you mumble into your palm while facing the other direction, SPEAK CLEARLY. USE YOUR WORDS.”

        1. Drew*

          “Dad, I have no idea what you just said because you’re muttering and walking away from me and we’re in a noisy parking lot. Stop, turn around, and SPEAK UP.”

        2. Marisol*

          I hate those hand-in-front-of-face mumblers. I think they are attempting to be polite by not being too loud or by breathing bad breath on you or something. But they’re not polite. They’re rude. I hate them.

    23. Sparkly Librarian*

      My pet peeve of a coworker just walked in the door! First time they’ve worked at this location in almost a year. I am recalling my resolution to give them the benefit of the doubt in regards to customer service.

    24. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      An open office brings them out of the woodwork like mad…

      My last boss sat right next to me on the long bench we all called a desk and ate soup EVERY DAY. Never quietly. Always slurping. In fact, if there was someone near him who he didn’t like he would purposely slurp louder. He would also chew the rolls with his soup loudly with his mouth open. It was horrific. Even better were days when we had team meetings (which he loathed) and he would bring in a fresh fruit cup, eat loudly smacking his lips and THEN lick his hand of the fruit juice. Memories that will live on for ever – I still joke with buddies from that job about those times.

      We also had the “office stomper” – seriously, that guy is going to have major back problems. Stomp Stomp Stomp to the copier. Unfortunately I also live underneath two guys who are stompers at home. You wonder how they stood up to walk when they were kids.

      1. SebbyGrrl*

        LOL – the USlurper!
        I was scrolling up then down to look for another post and passed yours, skimmed it and said to myself “I want to go back to that one.”
        When I was ready to do it I thought “Ok, where was the USlurper?”

    25. Marisol*

      IT guy with a chronic cough that started about 3 months ago, finally got under control, and is now back. I can’t even feel empathy anymore.

    26. Anon3*

      Teeth Sucker OMG!!!!! Our office is whisper quiet, and this drives me nuts. Earbuds help, but I’d prefer not to use them.

    27. vpc*

      The guy who uses a speaker phone for everything.

      yes, I get it, you have an office with a door, not a cubicle, unlike most of the rest of us, and that gives you the illusion of privacy and soundproofing. But the soundproofing’s not that great, and does no good at all if you don’t SHUT THE FLIPPIN’ DOOR. If it bugs you to use the handset, please do use a headset, we make them available to everyone for a reason.

      I bet he doesn’t realize that people two rows away can hear both sides of every conversation, or how the peculiar acoustics of speakerphones make the other person’s side of the conversation much more distracting than his. It’s totally not the same as two people having a conversation in his office with the door open.

  14. Anon13*

    Does anyone have any experience (good or bad) with letting your workplace know you’re looking for a new job without giving a definite end date? I work at a very small business (fewer than five total employees) and I’d like to let them know I’m job searching so they can start to think about hiring my replacement, but I can’t go without a paycheck for more than six months at an absolute maximum (more than two months would require major lifestyle changes). At the same time, the business’s finances don’t allow for having two people doing my job for more than maybe two weeks (possibly a month, but that would really be pushing it). As I mentioned, I’d like to let them know I’m looking so they can prepare, but, at the same time, I’m worried about being pushed out before I’ve found something else. I’d love any tips or any stories about your experiences! Thanks!

    1. Lily Rowan*

      Yeah, it’s a bad idea. Best-case scenario is stressing out your boss, worst-case scenario is being given an end date ASAP. In my first job, I was looking to relocate, so was taking a lot of time off to go to [new city] but couldn’t really afford to leave until I had the new job. So I told my beloved boss what I was doing. She was great about it, but in retrospect, it would have been better for me to give her a date, even one six months out, even if I ended up leaving sooner than that, so we could all plan and not live in limbo.

      1. Anon13*

        Thanks for your input! This is not the reply I was hoping for, but it is the one I expected. I actually quit my last job 4.5 months in advance, but, at the point in my life, I could go quite a bit longer between jobs. I was also moving to another city – it wound up taking me four months from the time I left to find something (admittedly, I wasn’t looking very aggressively before I moved or for the first 6 weeks or so after my move). That four month break in working is easy to explain on my resume because of the relocation and the fact that the primary reason for my move was to help care for a sick family member, so I was also caring for her during those four months, but, in addition to not being able to go more than six months without a paycheck, I worry about having two breaks in employment in a five-year span on my resume.

    2. orchidsandtea*

      I did that at our very small business. The very small business was mostly functional and my boss was both a good human and a good boss. He was pleased with my work and fond of me as a human. I still got pushed out before I’d found something.

      1. Anon13*

        This is my worry. My boss is a great person, as well, and, though we have occasional issues, we function well, with no problem employees, but I’m still really worried about being pushed out. With the same boss at a larger company that could afford to employ people they don’t really need, I wouldn’t be nearly as worried about it.

        1. orchidsandtea*

          In our case, he ended up training his wife to do my job because the business needed to cut costs. They were gentle about the layoff (which is what it essentially became) in that they gave me a month’s notice before switching me to half-time, then two months at half-time before switching me to commission-only / no base pay. I ended up finding something during the first month of half-time, but it was stressful.

          1. Anon13*

            It sounds like he used your pending departure as a good way to cut costs long term – this is actually another worry of mine, as well. I am responsible for a variety of things – about half of them are not complex in the least; you could probably find someone to do them for about half of what I make. For the other half or so, you’d need to pay someone what I make or a little more. I kind of fear if I let him know I’m leaving, he’ll simple hire two part time people to replace me, one at half of my rate, and one at slightly more, which will save him money in the long run. (I’m not explaining this well, but, if, for example, I made $100,00/year, I think he could hire one person to work half of my hours and make $25,000/year and another to work the other half and make $60,000/year. I’m salary, but the person making $25,000/year would be making half of what would be my hourly rate if you broke it down, and the one making $60,000 a year would be making a little more than my “hourly rate.”) Anyway, I’m rambling and this is at least half for my own benefit – typing things out helps me think them through. Thanks for your input!

      2. Karen K*

        My experience as well. Good boss, good working conditions, but I needed benefits and more money, which he did not offer. I ended up being replaced before I found another job, and had to temp for a few months. Not horrible, but I would have rather not. Looking back on it, I shouldn’t have told him I wanted to find another job.

        1. Anon13*

          Yep, the (lack of)benefits, the money (somewhat, more the opportunity to make more money in the future), and the commute are the three biggest reasons I’m looking for something new – all things that can’t be changed. I would really hate to be stuck temping, as well. Thanks for your input!

    3. bopper*

      Don’t do it.
      The risks are too high for you. You could get pushed out faster than intended, you could be taken off good projects, and if in fact you can’t find a job then you are stuck.
      Their finances and lack of back up are their problem.

      You could try to negotiate with the new company for a later start date to give them more transition time.

      1. Anon13*

        You’re right. There’s no risk of me being taken off good projects unless they hire someone to replace me, in which case I was would be pushed out. There’s no one in my role or even a role remotely like it at the company. However, you are completely correct in that there’s probably too great a risk I will pushed out early or not find anything else (or feel like I have to jump at the first thing I find).

    4. Emmie*

      It sounds like you’re not sure how your bosses will react to the news. I would focus on memorializing your job processes, and creating step-by-step process documents in silence. It’s really the kindest thing you can do for your employer, and it will help then with the transition. If it doesn’t raise too many flags, you can talk to your managers about training a back up for your most critical project under the guise of “if I got hit by a bus tomorrow, no one would know how to do critical task [ie payroll].”

      1. Anon13*

        Luckily, we actually have a procedures manual that already has everything pretty explicitly spelled out, but you’re right, maybe I will try to teach someone in person how to do some things that only I know how to do. I don’t really have multiple bosses or managers – there’s just the owner/the one boss, then everyone else is kind of on an equal playing field – I suppose the people who have been here the longest have a sort of informal seniority, but, with the exception of the owner kind of managing everyone and me managing a few part time employees, no one really manages or supervises anyone else’s work.

        What might, oddly, make it easier to train someone else is that said owner travels pretty frequently and gives us a lot of freedom to determine our own daily tasks, as long as all of the work gets done, so I could easily train someone (even one of the part time people) in how to do a lot of things without him ever noticing.

        1. Emmie*

          That’s wonderful! It’s always a good idea to have a back up – even when you’re not job searching!

          1. Anon13*

            Yeah, there are some unchangeable things about this job that I don’t like (the commute, the lack of opportunities for advancement beyond what I’ve already achieved, the high amount of individual work (I’ll go all day without collaborating with a co-worker), the lack of benefits – you get the idea), but, despite the fact that it’s the wrong fit, it’s actually a pretty well-run business, especially considering some of the horror stories I’ve heard about small businesses here and elsewhere. I think I’ll have more trouble finding something new than they will replacing me.

            1. Emmie*

              Really good luck to you. You sound like a thoughtful employee, and another company will be lucky to have you!

    5. AMT27*

      I did this at a prior job – I had a great boss and my spouse and I were planning to move out of state once our house sold, so I wasn’t waiting for a new job offer (I was pregnant at the time and planned to not job search until after the move and baby). He was great and after a month or two they hired my replacement and I trained her…. I left within a month of her start date. They didn’t ask me to leave, but they were paying both of us to do one job, so I was basically doing nothing all day and I felt guilty. My house was still unsold, but I was seven months pregnant and needed to move regardless (I didnt want to be moving/traveling while too far along as I had complications that the doctors thought would likely lead to preterm birth). So I left before I was ready, and while I wasn’t exactly pushed out I would have stayed at least a few weeks longer if it had been my own choice. (This was partly due to trying to sell a house in 2008 – not a great idea! Nothing went as planned regarding my timeline).

      So, it can go perfectly well and still be less than ideal…

      1. Anon13*

        Yeah, I’m guessing my boss wouldn’t be upset (well, I think he’d be upset about losing a good employee, but he wouldn’t be upset with me) and wouldn’t ask me to leave immediately or anything, but I think he would look to hire someone right away – it takes us a long time to hire, so that would take about 8 weeks, then he would probably only want 2 weeks of overlap. I don’t think he’d be a jerk about it or anything, but I’m guessing I would be out of a job in about 10 weeks, maybe 12. Of course, it’s not outside of the realm of possibility that I could find something new in 12 weeks, but it’s certainly far from guaranteed.

    6. Weekday Warrior*

      It’s helpful to put yourself in your boss’s shoes here. And if you aren’t a manager at work, think about a similar scenario in your personal life. Such as: your hairdresser says “I’m thinking of closing up shop but I don’t know when”, your babysitter says “I’m thinking about getting out of this line but I don’t know when”, your SO says “I’m thinking of leaving this relationship but I don’t know when.” You’d start making plans to replace all of these ASAP, no? You need to count on people to be there – or to give a clear end date so you can make concrete plans.

      1. Anon13*

        I do manage a few part-time people and have managed full-time people in the past. I have actually been looking at it quite a bit from his point of view. And, honestly? I would always prefer a person let me know far in advance, even if I can’t necessarily make concrete plans, but that may be unique to me. I would rather be able to think things through and lay the groundwork than be surprised and have to scramble. And, when people I’ve managed have let me know that they’re job searching, I haven’t pushed them out, but I have, for example, contacted our outside HR consultant so she can know we’ll be needing her, and prepared the job description, etc. Perhaps it’s different because I’ve only ever been a manager, and never a business owner.

        Also complicating this is the fact that he has asked me before to let him know if I’m ever thinking about looking for something.

    7. Sunflower*

      Don’t do it. My last job search took 2.5 years and I would have never predicted it would take that long

      1. Anon13*

        Yeah, I’m definitely worried about this. It took me four months total, with about 2.5 months of aggressive searching, to find this job. And, at that point, I wasn’t working (I had moved to a different state and was helping an ill family member) and was worried about not finding anything else, so I took something that was less than a great fit. It wound up working out OK – I’ve been here 2.5 years and I’m not miserable or anything, but the commute is long and I greatly prefer to work in a larger office and more directly with others (a lot of our work is individual). I worry about taking something that’s not a great fit again. And, though 2.5 years isn’t that short a stint, I’d prefer to keep the less-than-five-year jobs on my resume to a minimum. (I was at my last place of employment, my first job out of college, for 6.5 years, with three different jobs during that time, so I’m fine there.)

    8. Spooky*

      Add me to the “don’t do it.” There are just too many ways that it can go wrong for you. However, one thing I did at a previous position was make a “guide” for how to job. Basically for a few weeks before I left, I took note of every kind of activity I did, and then I took a few minutes and typed up step-by-step directions for each of them. By the end I had a maybe 10-page word doc of instructions for the next person. It won’t help the company hire someone any faster, but it can (maybe) cut down on training time, and your replacement will have somewhere to turn for reference if there’s no overlap for you to train them.

      1. Anon13*

        Thanks for your input! We actually have a procedures manual that we are constantly updating, so a lot of that is done, but I will definitely think about making a list of my day-to-day duties (for lack of better phrasing) – things so simple that they wouldn’t even require a written procedure, but that someone might not think about if they didn’t do them daily.

        1. AliceBD*

          I am working on this right now. I’m job searching (which my boss knows, for a variety of reasons, but no one else at work does) and I’m making sure that all of the procedures have EVERYTHING documented in them, and writing down all the things that need to be done regularly. There are a lot of things I do that are “when x goes on the website, send the link to q, r, and s” — no step-by-step instruction is needed, because they are fairly straightforward, but it needs to be written down that they should be done.

    9. Sherm*

      Yes, my boss and I had been through a lot together. He had boundary issues and saw me as a friend , and he had Big Plans for him and me (which I had agreed to, but they were not materializing, one reason why I was unhappy). I was afraid he would have felt blindsided if I secretly job-hunted.

      So one day I bit the bullet and very nervously told him I had my eye on the door. He took it very well and acknowledged he blew it by not following through with Big Plans. Relief! But what made things weird later was that it took 18 months for me to find my next job. I think a couple times he just assumed I had stopped looking, and he brought up Big Plans again, at which point I had to awkwardly tell him I was still planning to leave.

      I finally found something new, and he was gracious and took the whole team out to dinner to celebrate. But on my last day, where I expected an emotional goodbye, he was aloof, a little mean, and acted like I was just going to be away for a short while. We have pretty much fallen out of contact. Oh well. I love where I am now, so I suppose it worked out.

      1. Anon13*

        Ugh, this is another fear, I guess. It seems like it worked out almost as well as it possibly could have (since you weren’t pushed out and found another great place), but it still was far from ideal.

        My boss is a great person, but also has some of those same boundary issues, which I think is part of the problem. I know on an intellectual level that this is a business transactions, but my feelings tell me that blindsiding him would be the wrong thing to do.

        Thanks for your input!

    10. Bad Candidate*

      Yes and it did not work out well. I spent the next year unemployed. But this was also during the recession. Which we’ve recovered from, right?

      1. Anon13*

        Were you let go right away? I think my boss would keep me on for about 3 months (the time it would take us to hire and train someone), but I doubt much beyond that.

        1. Bad Candidate*

          No. My boss asked if I was looking and honest me said yes. She said “oh don’t worry about it, these things happen” and was all nice and said if I needed time off for interviews, it was no big deal. I’m not really sure what I expected, I suppose I should have known that wouldn’t go on forever. But maybe a month later she called me up and asked when my end date was. I hadn’t found anything yet, so I told her as much. She said she needed to know when I planned to leave. So I said let me think about it and get back to you. I knew she could be underhanded and sneaky, and if I gave her an end date she’d say I quit and I wouldn’t get unemployment. So I went back to her the next day and said I didn’t have an end date, and what did she have in mind. A couple of days later she named a date two weeks in the future. And that was that. She did fight unemployment too, said I was fired due to gross misconduct. I ended up winning though.

          1. Anon13*

            Ugh. That stinks. It sounds like you’ve found something since – I hope it’s working out well!

    11. KAC*

      I was in a similar situation and chose to inform my manager of my interest in moving on. Prior to this, we were open and realistic with each other that either she or I (or both) would likely leave the organization some day, so I felt very safe informing her. I was so proud of myself for having that conversation, being willing to be vulnerable, and for having that relationship with my manager. My manager and hers (a VP) agreed that the organization would give me the time to find a job that was the right fit for me as long as I’d train my replacement, who was promoted internally.

      Unfortunately, about 45 days after I informed my manager and about 30 days after I started training my replacement, the VP informed my manager that the organization could not afford to have both me and my replacement in the role so the company would need to “reevaluate my employment” if I didn’t have a job within 4 weeks. She said she thought I’d have been snatched up already because I was such top talent, but really she just hadn’t looked at her budget or gotten budget approval before agreeing to keep me on indefinitely. I had my manager’s support – she and I both pushed back and pointed out but with minimal impact.

      Moral of the story: Protect yourself and your own livelihood. No matter how safe the situation seems, the stress I went through just isn’t worth it.

      1. Anon13*

        Thanks for your input. I am not going to say anything, but if/when I find a new job, I am going to try to negotiate a later starting date – hopefully I can find somewhere that will let me start 3-4 weeks after I’m hired, which I don’t think is too far outside of the norm, but I think would really help my boss tremendously.

    12. TootsNYC*

      Don’t ever put your employer’s needs above your own. They shouldn’t need more than 2 weeks.

      Here’s what you can do to be a good person to them when you leave:

      • Use this lead time to create as much documentation as possible.
      • Use this lead time to keep your own eye out for someone who might be good as a replacement. (a smart boss is almost always doing this in the back of their mind)
      • Use this lead to create (in private) a job description that you think matches what you do and is fair, and also to create (if practicable) tests to give the new person. Really this is their job, but if you give them a head-start on it, it’ll cut some time for them.
      • Give as long a notice as you can–but no more than a month.

      Seriously, it’s just so ineffective for EVERYone to have a long lame-duck period.
      And you risk shooting yourself in the foot as well (and then, well, you’ll BE a lame duck).

    13. DEJ*

      I had a coworker who did this. When he had his first job interview, some of us who had been there longer encouraged him to tell the boss – she has always been the type who if she can help you find something that you can’t get here, she is all for it and wants to help you any way she can. She also would have been upset if she found out that you were job searching without telling her because she would have wanted to help you.

      It ended up taking him about three years to find a job and he never got pushed out. However, I think that it stressed him out that the boss did ask a lot of ‘when are you leaving’ and ‘make sure you keep me updated’ questions, and he did, but she would get stressed out if he had a final interview somewhere thinking ‘what is our next move as an office.’

      We also had a second situation where a coworker wanted to get out of the business, and the boss did negotiate a situation where we hired someone take over his job and assigned him to another role and they determined a termination date together.

      So I have seen it work, but can’t deny it wasn’t without stress.

    14. Gaara*

      What can they possibly do with this information? They can’t search to hire an indefinite period in the future that could be two months or six or ten. If they find someone great, why wouldn’t they hire them, since you’re leaving?

      Meanwhile, they should always (already!) have in place practices that would allow them to transition should they lose an employee.

      1. New Window*

        That is such, such, such a good way to put it–“How would this help my company by knowing it?” I’m pocketing that point for later.

        In reality, anyone’s tenure in any job is uncertain, but it’s easy enough to assume and act like that’s not the case. Telling people you’re aiming to leave reveals that this assumption is just that, and it creats an uncertainty that the job-seeking employee can’t resolve on their own (since they have to wait for an offer to be given to them), and an uncertainty that the employer either is stuck with for an uncertain amount of time, or an uncertainty that they resolve by hiring a new person and laying off the current-but-soon-to-be-former employee.

  15. Tuckerman*

    Does anyone have any tips for interviewing for a hospital (non-clinical) job? Is there anything you wish you had known, or was unexpected?

    1. JustaTech*

      Not really (I’ve only done one), but I’d love to see what other have to say.
      Oh, make sure that you use the provided hand sanitizer, and that people see you use it.

    2. AshK434*

      I’ve held a few non-clinical jobs in hospitals before and I don’t think the interviewing process was any different then jobs in other settings (though I’ve only ever worked in hospitals or higher ed).

      1. AshK434*

        Oh! I just thought of something! In all of the hospital jobs I’ve had, I had to get medical clearance before being offered the job. This involved making an appointment with the hospital’s occupational health office and reviewing vaccination history and getting a TB test. This part goes a lot faster if you have your vaccination records with you.

      2. Tuckerman*

        I’m transitioning from higher ed to healthcare. Glad to hear there’s nothing too different.

    3. rubyrose*

      I’ve worked IT in two different hospitals.

      What struck me in both places after I was on the job for a while was that they seemed to have a large number of long term employees (think people with 15, 20 years or more on the job). Those folks aren’t always open to doing thing differently.

      Also, the last one I was at insisted that everyone had a flu shot. This was partly prompted by state law. There were a couple of ways to opt out, involving declaring either a medical or philosophical issue. Both types were actively challenged. Working in an office building three blocks away from the hospital where patients never appeared was not a good enough reason to refuse the shot.

      1. TL -*

        Yeah hospitals have this thing about transmitting diseases to immunocompromised patients. Be prepared to get flu shots, share your vaccine records, and there may be more enforced sick days (they may ask you to not come in with certain diseases or with a fever/cough, ect…)

        Even if you don’t interact with patients, you probably interact with someone who does.

        I’ve worked in two world class hospitals and both were very serious about culture but how much to emphasize that depends on where you’re at.

    4. SaraV*

      Ask about how PTO works. Our PTO was in one large bucket, including federal holidays. So let’s say you start work the week before Thanksgiving (like me), and you didn’t accrue enough to cover Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years. I didn’t get paid for Thanksgiving or New Years. Now, I was going from temp to FTE at the same place, and received a nice pay bump, so those two days weren’t the biggest deal to me. Plus, I think my first year I accrued 6.x hours every two weeks, which to me wasn’t bad.

      We also had to have physicals, provide immunization records, and get the flu shot every year…even though our office building was 5 miles from the nearest hospital we served. Just because we might…MIGHT…have to be inside a building that provided direct patient care.

      PS – They would bring nurses into our office during work hours to administer the flu shot for free.

    5. periwinkle*

      I’ve worked in HR at a large hospital. The work itself was nothing unusual. As for the setting:

      1. You may be required to get a flu shot even if you don’t work in patient care.
      2. Your annual mandatory training will cover things like HIPAA and biowaste hazards even if you don’t work in patient care. You will also become exceptionally and maybe irrationally annoyed whenever someone gets the acronym wrong (HIPAA, not HIPPA) or assumes it applies to your boss talking openly about your illness; HIPAA has no provisions about jerky behavior.
      3. You may be surprised at the contrast between patient areas and employee areas. The hospital spent millions on patient care equipment, as well they should have, but our break room had broken equipment and a leaking roof.
      4. Whenever you’re actually at the hospital site, patients and their families always always ALWAYS come first (see #3). Be mindful of that when you’re interviewing and when you’re just walking through the hospital.

      1. Red Reader*

        1 and 2, yes, definitely. This year for the first time, people who didn’t work in patient facilities weren’t required to get the TB testing done, but everyone had to get the flu shot unless they had medical documentation as to why they couldn’t. (No religious or personal exemptions, it had to be a medical reason signed off by a doctor.)

      2. TL -*

        Yes. I’m stopped for directions every other month or so. I work in a major medical center, so sometimes it’s just telling them which floor to get off and sometimes it’s walking a few blocks. A lot of people there are scared and confused, so being kind and helpful to strangers is always a small but important part of the job.

    6. notfunny.*

      I don’t have specific tips but I would expect the reference checking and background checking to be more rigorous than in academia. You will also need occupational health clearance and be prepared to take a whole lot of training that may or may not apply to you and your role.

    7. Red*

      I wish I had known I was considered “essential personnel” and would have to come in no matter what the weather was like. Travel ban because of a blizzard? Leave early and show the police your work badge!

      Beyond that, it would have been nice to know more details of what the training was like, some details on the parking garage (for real, they could have mentioned it was $89/month, but then again – I should have asked), and definitely ask about the details of their PTO policy. Hospitals can be weird on that.

      Do expect that you will have to get a physical exam before your start date, including a test for tuberculosis, and that you will have to either get a flu shot every year or wear a mask constantly.

      1. Red*

        Oh, and I know you said you aren’t interviewing for a clinical position, but don’t think you get out of the TB test and flu shot that easily! You also get all the training on HIPAA, EMTALA, other laws and such, infection control, and safety that everyone else does! Just, you know, in case someone thinks you’re maybe a nurse or something. Who knows. It’s a thing. Expect it.

        Also, if patients aren’t there, the hospital don’t care. You can expect major capital investments in patient care areas and equipment and not much else anywhere patients won’t see. Our office floors do not look nice at all, but the thing about working in healthcare is, you’re “brainwashed” into not caring, because the patients really do come first. You will end up drinking the proverbial koolaid on that whether you ever meet a patient or not. It’s just how it goes. Just remember to be extra nice to patients and visitors if you see any when you’re there for the interview, because hospitals like caring and kind people, even for positions that aren’t involved with patients in any way.

        Good luck on your adventure. You may not expect it from my snarkiness here, but I love my hospital dearly. Most people that work in one do. That’s how you’ll end up knowing a ton of people that have been there for basically their whole career.

    8. Hospitals*

      Just make sure you look at the benefit information about holidays. Since hospitals are 24/7 facilities by nature, they tend to have the bare number of holidays (so likely less than you are used too). And they won’t close non clinical offices early the day before the holiday (unless you want to take vacation) because the patient care staff can’t leave early (& they want to try & maintain parity).

    9. LoFlo*

      I’ve had the same experiences regarding patient facing and employee areas. My office was furnished with used desks and chairs that were barely functional. The software we used was outdated, and I was constantly asked how to squeeze more efficiency out of the system. If you are working in a finance area, be prepared to encounter endowment funding, meaning that funds are restricted by the donors’ wishes. Large health care enterprises can also be splintered into different enities. I worked for a local hospital that has seven business units, some were for profit, and others not for profit.

  16. paul*

    I’m at work sick wondering if when/if I should ask to go home. I was fine this morning but am feeling crappier and crappier as the day wears on. I’m kind of hoping I get sick enough to physically throw up then it’ll solve my dilemma for me

    1. Leatherwings*

      Oh my goodness! Assuming you have the PTO/financial means to do it, go home! I hope you feel better.

    2. Susan*

      Unless your manager is a complete jerk, I really don’t think you need to wait until you’re actually vomiting. I think your coworkers would probably prefer if you leave before then! I bet if you say you have an upset stomach and need to go home, nobody will take issue with you leaving.

      1. paul*

        wwe get PTO but it’s based on monthly accrual with low rollover allowed from the previous year. Recent policy change and they’re probably going to revise it again this year because it’s franikly been a bit of a disaster.

    3. Amadeo*

      Oh gosh, you’re tougher than I am I guess. I can do all sorts of physical pain, but if the nausea doesn’t go away or becomes so bad I have to walk around with my mouth clamped shut I bolt for the door. If you have PTO, go home and escape into sleep! With a bucket by the bed of course.

    4. Emily*

      I understand not wanting to ask, even though I’m told it’s silly. I’m always afraid it will reflect badly on me, regardless of a positive work ethic. Hope you feel better!

    5. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      Do it now, do you want to throw up on your commute home? If you have the time, just tell your boss you got sick to your stomach and better leave. I’m sure they’ll hold the door for you as you go out. Feel better.

      1. zora*

        Yes, this! It will suck even more if you get sick on the way home. Just get home earlier rather than later, you will feel better in your own bed!

      2. Parenthetically*

        Nothing worse than eyeing the shrubbery on the side of the road and praying you have time to pull over AND park AND get out AND make it to the bushes.

    6. Emac*

      I agree with the others in this thread. If you have PTO, and there’s nothing major that you need to be at work for, just go home. If I get a migraine in the middle of the day that I can’t dull with aspirin, I don’t generally *ask* if I can go home. I’m responsible for my time as long as I’m getting things done, so I’ll just let my supervisor or someone else on my team, if she’s not around, that I’m not feeling well and leaving.

    7. Anon for this*

      Just go. Yesterday my co-worker came in with a raging head cold (all the nasty symptoms except for a fever). After a one hour meeting with him, I had a sympathy headache after listening to the sniffling/blowing/puffy face/red eyes. You’re doing everyone a favor by leaving.

  17. rawr*

    I’d love your ideas on how you’ve kept in touch with beloved colleagues after they’ve left. My boss is retiring next week and I am really sad about it. Not only is she the best boss I’ve ever had, but she’s been a mentor since I was a college student 15 years ago. Due to the length of time we’ve known each other and some mutual interests, we’ve formed a friendship over the past few years in addition to having a solid working relationship. It’s not the the “hang out after hours during our free time,” kind, though, since that would’ve crossed a boundary. It’s more the “have lunch occasionally, but talk daily about our lives” kind. She knows my kids better than some of their own relatives do, for example, just because of our daily chats. How do you transition from that type of relationship to a friendship once work is no longer in the equation? One of my weaknesses as a friend is that I sometimes do a poor job of transitioning from an “interacting daily” relationships to something more long-distance, which this will be. (She’ll be living away from our home state for part of the year.)

    1. justsomeone*

      You could see if she’d be interested in quarterly lunch catch-ups? If so, you could put a recurring reminder to reach out ever 3months or so to schedule something. Lunch or coffee can be casual, but since you’ve already kind of established an occasional lunching kind of relationship, it could work.

    2. lfi*

      we text and send letters/cards. whenever she comes to town we get together for drinks and dinner and include our husbands. and there’s facebook. in a way it’s like any other friendship where we just have to make an effort. and, she is still my mentor, which is fantastic.

    3. Natalie*

      I’ve gotten the impression that I’m the odd person out among this community, but when I have colleagues I want to keep in touch with I friend them on Facebook. I just don’t check anything else regularly (except email, and I don’t have long email chats) and I address any privacy issues through filtering and hiding. Facebook allows me a lot of those low-stakes contacts without requiring a ton of effort.

    4. Yo Teach!*

      It can be kind of weird but I just did this. It helped a lot that a bunch of us have dogs, and we were already doing regular puppy playdates so those just organically continued. But the best thing was just inviting people I liked over for dinner regularly!

      1. hermit crab*

        Fourthing (?) the Facebook suggestion. My awesome manager got a new job and moved 2500 miles away, and pretty much the first thing I did when I got home after her last day in our office was send her a friend request. Facebook makes it easy for her to share when she’ll be back in town, so we can get coffee whenever that happens.

  18. ThatGirl*

    Minor rant time… we have a contractor who is competent enough, but just doesn’t seem to be a great fit with our team, and needs a lot of hand holding and seemingly obvious things spelled out…

    For instance he is posting files for my team to review and he’s SPELLING OUT the word “comma” because you can’t put actual commas in the excel file name.

    And I’m so afraid he’s going to be hired full time.

    1. Sadsack*

      Wow, maybe mention to him that using dashes would be better. An actual dash though, not the word dash! I would never have thought of spelling out the word!

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yes, he could easily use dashes or underscores (like_this) … but isn’t that common sense? Why does someone have to TELL him that? Blows my mind.

      2. Jadelyn*

        Dashes. Periods. Underscores. What even possesses someone to spell out a punctuation mark in a filename???

    2. Arjay*

      So like “Weekend schedule comma Saturday comma Sunday.xls”?

      That completely cracks me up AND would drive me totally batty.

    3. Gandalf the Nude*

      Is this specific to a version of Excel? I use commas in Excel file names all the time.

      1. ThatGirl*

        We use 2007, as we are woefully behind the times. (We’re also running Windows 7.)

        It doesn’t really matter, though, we don’t NEED the commas or anything – nobody would blink if the file name had spaces, no spaces, dashes, etc.

        1. Gandalf the Nude*

          Gotcha. It would have added an extra layer of WTF if commas weren’t even restricted.

        2. krysb*

          I think that’s only in the save function, though. you should be able to rename the file with commas in the name.

      2. Beaded Librarian*

        It think it might be a Mac vs PC issue. I use a Mac at home and use various file naming conventions there that PCs will NOT let me use.

  19. Not an Intern Anymore*

    Happy Friday, everyone!

    I’m finishing my second week at a new job, and I’m really enjoying it! Super flexible, work from home options, and the pay is not bad either. It’s my first full-time salaried position after graduating college (graduated in May).

    Anyhow, I’ve spent the time in between working in internships in busy and fairly competitive firms. At my current job, it seems to take me much less time than everyone else to compete my daily tasks. As in, I complete my day’s worth of tasks by noon. I know I’m completing the work sufficiently because I’ve had my work double-checked by colleagues (since I’m new). I’m sure that time goes on, I’ll have more on my plate. But I already manage my own accounts (flat management structure), so I do all the work for these accounts. And I keep asking my boss and coworkers to give me extra work, but they say there’s nothing for me to do besides my own account work.

    Do you guys have any tips on how to go above and beyond when you have extra time but no extra work? If this trend continues, when would it be appropriate to ask for my boss to give me another account?

    1. Leatherwings*

      I’d give it some time. You’re only in your second week! Even if you’re completing a full set of tasks in half the time of everyone else (which I’ve never seen out of a new person before, so it’s worth considering you don’t have a full workload yet) it might look a little out of touch if you’re constantly asking for more to do. As your knowledge of the accounts and work deepens, it’s possible more work will naturally come.

      1. Not an Intern Anymore*

        That’s what I’m hoping! I figure once I learn more about my clients I will be able to preempt their needs and complete additional tasks. I have been getting training help, but the office only has 4 employees so there isn’t anyone to share the workload with!

      2. SebbyGrrl*

        Is there all ready an SOP o procedure manual for the position?
        If not, start one or go through the existing and start adding/updating.
        This is a really effective way to ‘train’ yourself and look like a super star for taking initiative – but don’t tell anyone you are doing it-in a few months when someone asks you something “Oh, let’s look at my procedure manual for the answer to that.”
        I’ve also used the process to find tune and build my Word skills-Table of Contents, Appendices, footnotes, higher level formatting, etc.

    2. Amber Rose*

      I’d spend that time doing some reading. I’m sure that in only two weeks, you haven’t learned everything there is to know about your company. So i’d do some studying now, while you have the time, so you can use that knowledge in the future for stuff like raises and promotions or getting better projects or whatever. Now is the best time to look into anything you’re curious about.

    3. Jersey's Mom*

      Yep, agree with Amber Rose. The first few weeks is the learning curve. If the company has an intranet, written procedures, etc, read those. Purchase a book that’s obviously has to do with the industry you’re in, or about the computer programs you’re using — something that is very obviously related to the job, and read a chapter occasionally.

      In six months you’ll look back at this time period and wish that you still had “extra” time…..

    4. SebbyGrrl*

      See the person below that used documentation to get a 13% raise.
      If no one else in your area is good at this it can be a huge boon to your professional rep.
      Not everyone can think organizationally AND put it on paper – it’s really a fantastic skill to develop an especially to fill down time.

  20. Blue Anne*

    I’m starting to worry that my life is destroying my resume. My boyfriend – fiance, really – visited for the holidays and we’re hoping to get married and move me back to the UK at the end of this year. After which we’re hoping to start having kids within a year or two and I’ll stay home for a few years.

    I know there’s room for explanations when you have a job-hopper looking CV, and there are real reasons for every move I’ve made/am planning (mostly related to being royally screwed by my ex-husband and the UKBA), but this is what my employment history is probably going to look like by the end of 2018 if I left everything on it:

    -3 years
    -1 year, 4 months
    -1 month
    -3 months
    -14ish months
    -maybe a year?

    Urgh. If I were a techie like my friends this would be okay, but in accounting? I’m hoping to be self-employed when I go back to the workforce, and I know I’m thinking way ahead and life isn’t this predictable (jesus H christ did 2016 teach me that), but I was hoping I wouldn’t have to be self-employed due to being unemployable.

    1. orchidsandtea*

      OK, that looks bad, but this doesn’t look as bad:
      -3 years
      -1 year, 4 months
      -14ish months
      -a year

      And if there’s any way to make this work, this looks pretty okay:
      -3 years
      -1 year, 4 months
      -26ish months

    2. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      I would probably leave off the 1 and 3 month gigs. Are all of the ones you listed for unique companies? If for any reason you were doing temp work or it’s different positions at the same company, I would group those together as well. But I think leaving off the 1 and 3 month positions (assuming you won’t be using references from there) helps a lot.

      1. Blue Anne*

        Yep, they’re all for different companies, and even in different countries.

        My concern is that leaving off both off the short ones (I’m already leaving off the little one) leaves a 9 month gap. During that time I dealt with a divorce and unexpected international move before job searching, but… I’d actually done that within 4 months, and I hate to have more than double the actual gap, you know?

        1. zora*

          I think a gap for an international move/job hunting is going to look better than two super short gigs.

          But not that I know much ;o) It just seems more self-explanatory in a way that doesn’t put the blame on you.

          1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

            I agree. I think you can explain the gap really easily with the move. No one needs to know that it only took you 4 months to move. For what it’s worth (and I realize not everyone experiences this) I’ve never had an interviewer ask me about employment gaps so it might not even come up.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Agreed. Try not to let this get too big in your mind’s eye. In a few years it won’t matter as much, so basically you just need to put a bandaid on it for the time being. If you can think of it as a short term problem, that might help.

    3. Sophie Winston*

      I don’t think it look all that hopperish, when you factor in the international moves. You had a solid job in the UK, involuntarily returned to the US, worked some short time gigs while arranging to get back to the UK, and then start another solid job there. Who knows how long it will take the kids to come – you may end up with two+ years before you go out on maternity.

      Good luck!

    4. Caledonia*

      You know what, that doesn’t look bad when you take out the 1 & 3 months. Even if you had a large gap, you can explain with moving internationally. Can you say you were studying or something in that time?

      My last 5 years are: 4 months (current job), 8 months unemployed, 6 months, 13 months, 2.5 years (I’m in admin) and have only moved within Scotland.

      I think you’ll be ok :) especially as your current job will have a fairly decent length to it.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve never been asked about employment gaps either–I think most people assume you’re job-hunting during that time, unless it’s a gap of several years.

      Also, “life isn’t this predictable (jesus H christ did 2016 teach me that)” made me laugh. An interviewer asked me this week what my five-year plan was. I basically said, “Well we’ve all seen how quickly things can change, lately, so I don’t really have one except I’d like to pick up some new skills.” Who even still does those. Seriously.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Heh heh, go right ahead. :)

          It’s true–every time I try to make one, it blows up in my face. I’m practicing letting the universe handle it, though I did specify EXACTLY what I wanted. Plus, I didn’t want to tell them that my immediate plan is to get the h3ll out of here.

    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Well, would you be applying in the UK? I get a sense that it may not matter as much here, and you could always get a contract instead of a full time role. I had a giant almost year gap on mine which I explained (moved, immigration issues) and no one cared after that. Have another four month gap after the last gig which can be explained (ended contract, took some time out which was in reality waiting for HR to get their act in gear for this role). Anything to deal with immigration won’t be looked at poorly. Lord knows what the system could look like by the end of this year.

      1. Blue Anne*

        Yep, I’m currently in the job I plan to stay at for 14ish months, and then I’d be applying for another job once I got back to the UK. I’m actually kind of hesitant to mention the immigration issues once I get back through because all the Brits I talked to were so shocked I was having any trouble, much less being threatened and deported. It seems like people who aren’t immigrants don’t realize just how draconian UK immigration law is right now. I don’t want to seem all “woe is me” about it when a big portion of the population thinks I can just easily waltz in and get on the dole.

        1. Px*

          To be honest that’s probably why it makes sense to mention it. ‘Many people don’t realise but the immigration rules are quite tough so I needed to take some time to sort that out’; plus at least depending on where you are, there have been several high profile cases highlighting the draconian nature of UKBA so you might get more sympathy than you think.

    1. LadyKelvin*

      My husband has yet to get “official guidance” but since he works in a fed building he’ll at a minimum get to/have to work from home, which since he supports feds who get the day off, would mean checking emails on his phone once an hour or so. But he actually expects it to get treated as a snowday and get a free day off. Which would be awesome since we are gearing up for our big move and I leave 10 days later to start my new job without him.

    2. Jenbug*

      I cannot even imagine trying to get into DC proper that day. Between the people attending the inauguration and the people protesting, it is going to be a hot mess. I would take the day off unpaid before trying to navigate that. Good luck to any of you who do have to work! I made the mistake of going to the Cherry Blossom Festival on a Saturday shortly after I moved to the area. Never again.

      1. SC*

        Longtime lurker, first time commenting
        We just got word my office is closed (I work in DC) for Inauguration Day. Thank goodness!! I informed my supervisors just after the election that if we weren’t closed (it wasn’t on our official holiday list) that I would take a PTO Day, but there wasn’t a chance I’d trek into the district. Hoping that everyone else follows suit around here!

      2. zora*

        I made the mistake of trying to metro to the 4th of July fireworks on the Mall one year. Such a terrible idea.

    3. Leena Wants Cake*

      Yes, thank goodness. We get paid as normal anytime we are unable to work because the agency we work for is closed–whether that be federal holiday, snow day, or inauguration (working from home not an option for us). Love my contracting company.

    4. Inauguration Day*

      Interesting. I can use PTO for the day but I can’t come in and my job isn’t telework-friendly. The problem is, every time my agency closes (not the federal gov’t, but just an agency-closure or early dismissal), I’m given the same options: take it unpaid or take PTO. If I used PTO for every instance, I wouldn’t have any to use as, y’know, PTO. At the same time, I took the job in part to get paid consistently. And it sounds like my contracting agency will still be making money from the federal agency that day. Their usual fee, plus what they would’ve paid me. I’m considering pushing back because all the extra time here and there is adding up and I have bills to pay. I know it’s legal, but…

        1. Pseudo-Fed*

          I have no idea what we’re doing for the inauguration. My team lead says he’s asked the question of upper management, but has no answer yet. As Jenbug implied, I have ZERO intention of struggling into DC that day.

          As for snow days, I finally pried an answer out of the president of my contracting company: “You may work from an alternate location, such as .” Of course, if the roads are impassable to one, they will be impassable to the other. No, we don’t have an employee handbook of any kind. I suspect we never will.

  21. Amber Rose*

    What title would you give someone hired on a temporary basis to just “help out with stuff.”

    Usually I give people titles like Tech 1/2/3 or Tech Manager or whatever, since we give ourselves our own titles and what people wanna call themselves changes every time I order them new business cards. But I need a standard of sorts for filing and documentation purposes so I have an unofficial title system used just for that.

    Anyways, we’ve never had someone hired for “whatever” so i’m at a loss. I work at a teapot manufacturer, so we have manufacturing bays, a shipping bay and an office area and i’m not sure how much time this person will be spending in any of those.

    1. Gandalf the Nude*

      I’d just call them Teapot/Department Assistant. It covers just about everything they could be helping with.

    2. Jadelyn*

      [Blank] Clerk or Assistant, depending on what their actual tasks are. [Blank] Support can also work.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I took a job doing a job with a title, but my own position was temporary. So the solution was to call me a project manager. (yeah, interesting) So I was thinking along the lines of “project assistant”?

  22. Contemplating another career*

    Hello urban planners out there! As my username indicates, I have long thought about entering the field. How did you decide on that career path? What do you love the most and dislike the most about the profession? How in demand is the market for urban planners, especially in transportation planning?

    1. Blue*

      Hello. Urban Planner here. Working for a developer in a mid-sized city. I decided on this career path after getting an undergraduate degree in an unrelated field. I was always interested in city building type stuff and after getting coffee with a few planners working in the field I decided to get my masters in planning.

      I like: the research and policy oriented tasks. The problem solving nature of the job.
      Dislike: the antagonistic relationship between developers and the city.

      The market here is pretty good for planners. Lots of jobs at our larger municipality and the smaller surrounding ones. Transportation planning is a bit of a different kettle of fish. A lot of what you might think of as transportation planning (without knowing your background at all) is actually done by transportation/traffic engineers. They have the hard math/science background, and the professional designation, to use and analyse the traffic data. I do know a few transportation planners, but they are far outnumbered by engineers doing traffic work.

      Is there someone local to you, in the field, who you can talk to?

      1. Contemplating another career*

        Thanks for responding. I don’t intend on staying in this area, so I’m trying to get a broad perspective of the field. If you don’t mind me asking, what does a typical day or project look like for you?

        1. Blue*

          Generally, the stages of a project that I’m involved it would be: evaluating the potential of a bulk parcel of land (zoning, servicing, financial considerations) for purchase; higher-ups make a decision on what they want to do with the land; I tender out the project to a consultant (development engineers) based on what our submission requirements to the city are (generally let’s say we need a concept plan, traffic study, servicing schematic); I may write the application letter myself or if it’s a larger project it gets contracted out to someone else; then we go through public hearings; meetings with the city; going to council. The typical project takes 5+ years. I have yet to see any project through all the way from bulk land to finished project.

          I don’t know of any transportation planners who work for developers, unless they’re actually engineers. Any jobs I’ve heard of are in municipality/county/government department or with a university in research or as in an advocacy role (cycling, pedestrian safety, greet streets).

  23. AnoniBelle*

    Going anon for this.
    Very disappointed and uneasy about a decision by my employer this week.
    TL:DR jerk promoted to new management job after being really jerky to their new staff.
    Long version: senior teapot analyst (Fergus) who does good work but with a track record of sucking up to management while being a jerk to “peons” decided to get a manager position. Spent months threatening to leave and scaring the director into thinking the function would fall apart without Fergus.
    Fergus requested 360 degree feedback. Coworkers were concerned about being honest but were assured by management (including HR) there would be no repercussions.
    Fergus froze out honest coworkers for several weeks after receiving feedback.
    This week suddenly Fergus is promoted to the brand new Teapot Analysis Manager role. And two former coworkers now report to Fergus. Two of the most honest ones.
    Thankfully I don’t report to Fergus but sit really close to all and know the staff. I’ve heard several of them mention updating their resumes. If it comes up I’ll be referring them to this site for all its great advice.
    Just generally disappointed and concerned.

    1. SophieChotek*

      Wow…I feel bad for those coworkers. Sounds like HR/higher-ups failed here. I understand your feeling of concern…

    2. Chaordic One*

      It really sounds like HR and the higher ups made a bad a decision. It is so sad that the “kiss up, kick down” style of management seems to work so well.

    3. Is Genevieve pronounced Jen A Veev or Zsahn Vee Ayve*

      When this happens, I always kind of hope the people who got the raw deal leave for better jobs, and upper management is looking back wondering why no staff wish to continue working on under newamazing-but-not-really-because-he’s-actually-a-jerk manager

  24. Need a whack on the side of the head...*

    Sorta work, sorta not so delete if not appropriate.
    Laid off 15 months ago, I did find another job an hour away at 30% less pay; entry level type job in my industry (basically job I was doing 20 years ago). Finding myself sinking into the pit of despair from taking such a step back in my career. At the office 9 hours a day + some weekends (pre-empting my personal life) and with at least an hour commute each way, I find myself unmotivated to do my job and unable to job hunt as I’m too tired by the end of the day. Took a hit to my ego, self-image, and self-esteem by taking this job but I really needed something or risk losing the house.

    It’s a new year – how do I go about shaping up, getting excited about my job, motivated to get out of bed every morning, and interested in finding something new? I have no dreams, desires, goals, just blahs.

    Need to get over myself, and get on with my life, but don’t know how.

    1. ThatGirl*

      It sounds like you may be a little depressed, perhaps some short-term counseling is in order? If you have an EAP you may be able to get a few sessions free. Self-care is also important, make sure you are taking care of your body (exercise, sleep) and mind (friends, etc.)

      1. Need a whack on the side of the head...*

        massive depressed is more like it (yes, I’m on appropriate meds)
        no EAP, can’t afford counseling
        Having trouble motivating myself for self-care.
        Looking for ways to get my butt into gear!

        1. zora*

          Do you have any health insurance? I was able to talk to my Primary care doctor a few years ago, and she helped me not only with meds, but recommendations of counseling options, etc, she was really helpful in getting me started finding solutions.

        2. zora*

          Also there are some great free phone apps out there now that are helpful for setting small goals, starting new habits, some turn it into little games that get me motivated. I don’t know names off the top of my head, but google searches turned up great articles and lists of different apps and websites that help with depression and motivation stuff.

    2. Kimmy*

      I can so relate to this. I had to leave my job & move b/c of domestic violence and it took over a year to find something else (and it’s not great.) I’m finding that focusing on health is improving everything else – it’s a great domino effect. Don’t think about tackling all these areas of your life that need work simultaneously. Just focus on one or two and make exercise/eating well/sleeping one of your focuses. Get some kind of high-intensity exercise at least 30 minutes a day if you do nothing else. It will make an immediate difference and you can build on that.

    3. Emac*

      Ugh, I’m sorry. I can relate to this as well; I think I’m finally coming out of my can’t get myself motivated/excited phase finally (after about a year and a half or so).

      I think Kimmy’s idea to focus on your health for a time is good. Just feeling like you’re in control or on top of that part of your life can really help. For job searching, could you find someone else or a group of people who are also looking? It doesn’t have to be in the same field, or even close. My sister and I did that when we were both looking and going to a cafe or the library with someone else who was applying to jobs really helped me stay focused. A coworker has said she did something similar, too, and it really helped her.

    4. Lady Bug*

      I don’t have a lot of advice, but I’ve always had long commutes and can give you some ideas there. Try to make your commute “you” time. For me that is a fully loaded ipod that I can sing along to like a rock star in the car (not on public transportation). You can try music, audio books, podcasts, NPR, satellite radio shows. Something that you love and only get to do during your commute. If you are taking public transportation you can also read, watch movies, read AAM.

      Its only a small part of your day, but if its a “you” one it may help you get a little bit of motivation.

      1. Need a whack on the side of the head...*

        Yes! I love having the time to listen to books on the commute (hearing The Nightingale right now).
        I’ve always lived within 10 miles of my place of employment so being 40 miles away is a bit of a readjustment to me. And I really don’t mind driving, it’s just that it sucks 2+ hours out of my day, ever day.
        Not like I’m doing anything else with that time but it makes it too difficult to find a second job (don’t want to be driving home at midnight from job 1 but can’t make it to a job close to home in time to start).

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I relate to this through my own experiences.

      You actually do have dreams, desires and goals. Your dream/desire/goal is to get to a better place in life. While this feels like baseline survival it’s still a dream/desire/goal and it’s important not to skate by that fact.

      Here’s the question: How badly do you want to get out of this spot? If you are like I was, there are days where you feel shut down. Then there are days where you kick yourself because you know the way out is to work on things. The trick is to keep yourself on an even keel so that most days you are doing something to get to a better place. Forgive yourself if you have days where you put in 15 minutes worth of effort or maybe no effort. And let that scare you into putting a better effort in on a different day.

      I suggest making written weekly lists of things that are reasonable/doable to help yourself get to a better place. Notice I am not saying job hunt. Your activity today could be to go for a walk. Or it could be to reconnect with an old friend who works in your field. This is eating an elephant one bite at a time. You don’t solve the problem in one day/week/month. But you solve the problem by doing something as often as possible to repossession yourself so that next month/next year might be better. Congratulate yourself every time you do something, no matter how small.

      Here’s a thought. Instead of whacking yourself on the head, why not decide that you will read AAM on a regular basis until you find that new job. The idea being that you have instant access to positive people taking proactive steps in their lives. Everyone is on a different level so it’s an interesting read, it’s not grueling/punishing. While counseling and meds maybe helpful they are not a comprehensive solution because they do not provide action plans. You ran out of action plans so this was like a punch to the gut. Take small steps but take the small steps frequently and read what others are thinking and doing.

  25. Emily*

    Just wanted to share some exciting news. I am currently at my first post-college job, and quite frankly was terrified of asking for a raise, prior to reading Alison’s thoughts and advice on the topic. A few weeks ago, I requested to meet with my supervisor, and her boss regarding my role with the company. I have been at my current job for a little over a year, and have gotten nothing but great feedback on my work. I suspected I was being underpaid based on all the additional responsibilities I had taken on, and confirmed that this was true after doing extensive research on similar positions. Prior to requesting a meeting, I compiled a binder consisting of training documents I had created for coworkers, emails from customers and colleagues praising my work, and a document outlining all the additional responsibilities I had taken on in my time with the company. I asked for a 13% raise, which to some may seem out of touch in comparison to “normal” raises, but I felt like it was justified. I went into my meeting prepared and confident. My supervisor and boss listened attentively to everything I had to say, and told me they would get back with me soon. A week later, my boss called me into his office and informed me that they were giving me the 13% raise I had asked for! Super great way to start the New Year!

    1. Emac*

      Congratulations! It’s good to hear stories of good workplaces with reasonable managers, too (although the bad ones are entertaining).

    2. SL #2*

      Congrats! Something similar happened to me this summer (paid slightly below market rate, took on extra work in a very small company, boss gave me massive raise and promotion). I’m also in my first “real” job post-college. It’s always a good feeling to know that your higher-ups value your work and contributions.

    3. Drew*

      Brava! Way to advocate for yourself AND make sure your boss is aware of your value to your company!

  26. NorCal*

    So I’m a few months into a job I love and am relocating to the area next week – currently doing a 1.5-1.75hr commute each way every day. I’m in northern CA and we are about to get a mega storm this weekend. I need to be in the office tomorrow and all next week, but I’m going to come in late and leave early each day there’s flooding so I’m not navigating the roads in the dark. I already told my boss that is How It Must Be and she hasn’t voiced any objection. Husband is all raised eyebrows about it though and calling me a princess, but I think he can be reckless (we make the same commute). So, reality check – am I overreacting? I plan on working from home in the early AM/late PM as needed to make sure I’m putting in enough hours, and I’d honestly just WFH the whole time but I need to be in the area to coordinate my move next week. And of course, it’s our busy time at work so I’m certainly not making myself look very good here.

    1. bopper*

      That all sounds very reasonable to me. You want to ensure safety, but are still getting your job done. You have informed your boss of your plan.
      Also I assume you will check each day if that is necessary or not.

    2. Taryn Skinner*

      Is your husband in a different field from you? This would be so normal in my office that even the idea of this being ‘princess’ behavior is surprising to me.

      As for making sure you look ok at work, I would make sure to send a few high-visibility emails in the early morning/late evening while you work to reassure people you’re working just as hard as everyone else.

    3. Jadelyn*

      We’ve got flood warnings, ffs – how often does that happen around here? If we regularly got that level of rain and were prepared for it, it might be a different story, but these are unusual conditions that present unusual dangers. If I had to work, you’re damn right it wouldn’t be during times when I’d be driving in the dark, that’s just asking for problems. Your husband is being a jerk, just ignore him.

    4. WitchyAdmin*

      I am also in northern California, very north, and I don’t think you are over reacting at all. That is a long commute for the weather that is expected and it is better to take precaution. Stay safe!

      1. SebbyGrrl*

        Me too,
        Sonoma County. It’s much different than San Francisco and South.
        We have a lot more areas that flood – where you wouldn’t expect it – so YES you are making the right decision.
        Not a princess – a prudent worker who doesn’t want to cost overall productivity for being in the right chair at 8 a.m.

    5. Jersey's Mom*

      No, not an overreaction. This is a very short term modification to job hours due to extreme weather which your boss has OKed. Not an issue for work, end of story. As for husband, well, my husband will drive in very wintery/icy weather, when I refuse to. But, he can set up a winch and has more upper body strength to try to fix the situation if the truck goes into a snowbank/ditch. The first time I refused to drive in heavy snow and my hubby gave me some (kidding around) flak, I informed him that he should be happy — because if I drove and something happened, guess who I was going to call. And that as soon as he arrived, I was going to hop into his (warm) truck and let him take care of the problem. Problem solved!

    6. SF Transplant*

      Not being a princess at all! Our building is near a flood-prone area so I already have my staff on alert for Monday morning issues. And I’m going to the grocery store tonight so I can just sit on the couch watching Netflix instead of getting out in the storm.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I think you’re fine. This appears to be very unusual weather for you, so you’re wise to take precautions. And it’s not like you’re just taking PTO–you’re going to be working.

    8. NorCal*

      Thank you all! To be fair, I do have some anxiety and have overreacted about other perceived dangers in the past. But I think, and am glad you all agree, that I’m not overreacting here. Husband and I are in the same field but he has the upper body strength and the boy scout knowledge that I lack. We’ll be safe this weekend and Monday and hopefully it won’t be as bad as currently predicted.

    9. AliceBD*

      Definitely normal! I left at 5pm today and was one of the last to leave the office as we’re getting a bunch of rain that will turn to snow/sleet/etc. later tonight. I live closer than most coworkers and I had already gotten food so I didn’t need a big grocery run, but it was odd to be leaving on time but go out into a nearly-empty parking lot. We’re also planning to work from home on Monday and maybe Tuesday, depending on how icy the roads are.

    10. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      You’re being totally normal, and it’s not right/kind for your husband to make you feel like you’re being entitled/prissy/demanding (I assume that’s what he means by calling you “princess”).

      There’s flash flood warnings throughout the Bay Area, and there’s straight up (river) flood warnings further north in my neck of the woods. I drove this weekend because I had to, and it was a hydroplaning disaster waiting to happen. And then on top of the weather, you’ve got all the people who don’t know how to drive like reasonable humans in the rain (I’m looking at you, tailgating Escalade and lady driving 40 mph on the freeway in the left-most lane of a 5-lane freeway). When paired with the gale-force winds we had this weekend, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to move your work schedule temporarily to accommodate for your safety.

  27. SickTooMuch*

    I’m in my first real office job out of college and have been working here for almost 5 months. The week before Christmas I took a sick day on a Tuesday because I had a searing headache, aches, chills, sniffles, etc., starting from about 1pm the day before. I then took the Friday and Tuesday off around Christmas (Monday was a holiday), worked the next three days, then got this past Monday off for New Years.

    Yesterday, I had to leave work early with all of the same symptoms and a sore throat/not being able to concentrate for more than 5 minutes at a time. I live at home, and both my sister and my dad also took off sick yesterday but are back today. I took today off because I only got 4 hours of sleep because of a splitting headache that kept me up (which has never happened to me before). But now I’ve been awake since my alarm went off feeling guilty for taking a sick day on a Friday when I’ve had so much time off. I don’t even feel that sick anymore either and probably could have made it through the day.

    How do I not feel guilty about taking this sick time off? My boss seems ok with it/he really doesn’t want to get sick – but I can’t help but feel guilty. Do you feel guilty when you take time off? Is it just because I’m new to work life?

    1. Katie the Fed*

      It’s part of your benefits package to be able to take sick leave. Take it. Do you feel guilty about spending your paycheck?

    2. ThatGirl*

      Part of it is probably being new to work life – think of it this way, if you try to work sick you will likely not do very good work, you may prolong your own illness and you may infect others.

      It is far better to take a day or two off so you can be at your best when you are at work.

    3. Teapot librarian*

      I feel guilty when I take time off. I shouldn’t.
      One of my employees was sick all this week. He came to work today and maybe shouldn’t have. As his manager, I told him this morning that he should not push himself to work a full 8 hours. He has a long drive home, and I’d rather him work a half day today and make it home safely than push himself to work the full day and then get in a collision on his drive home.
      Your boss is okay with you staying home when you’re sick: believe him that it’s okay.

      And feel better soon!

    4. R.*

      It’s absolutely because you’re new. I felt that way at first, too, in my first job. Recently I had an intern who did the same thing…she came in with the flu and when I told her to go home, she said, “Really? Are you sure?” and seemed guilty. It actually looked a little weird/unprofessional, but then I remembered feeling the same way at her age. Take your PTO, that’s what it’s there for! And your coworkers don’t want to get sick.

      1. Jadelyn*

        I had the same issue. Part of it was that I was a temp and didn’t get PTO, but early on at this job I was having awful muscle spasms in my back and I forced myself to come to work and sit at my desk all day anyway until my manager was like “you had to go to urgent care after work yesterday for prescription pain meds and muscle relaxers, I will fake your timecard so you get paid for today, go home!”

        I also feel like this is a thing Millennials have trouble with more than previous generations maybe did, specifically *because* so many members of older generations have taken to very loudly and publicly shitting all over us as “lazy” and “entitled” in these last few years. So we end up feeling like we have to prove them wrong.

        Of course, then you end up with thinkpieces about how “Millennials don’t use their vacation time, they’re creating a culture of overwork and destroying work-life balance!” Wait…so we’re lazy and entitled, right up until we make it very clear that we’re not lazy by throwing ourselves into our work, at which point we’re working too hard. Make up your minds!


        1. anon and on and on...*

          I was thinking about this the other day when I called off sick and felt a little bad about it. I told myself it’s not grade school where you get a certificate for perfect attendance, and then wondered if that’s where it stems from, leading to people not taking the sick time they should.

    5. Newish Reader*

      For some managers/supervisors, it can be annoying to have employees continually out sick because of the impact on the workplace or workload. But employees do get sick and should be able to stay home when they are – both for themselves to get better and to not share the illness with coworkers. Your coworkers and managers will get to know you over time and see that this was unusual. If the majority of the year you have good attendance at work, that is what will stand out – not an occasional period with time off.

    6. Christy*

      Here’s the thing–your boss doesn’t want you in the office when you’re not at 100% or close to 100%. He doesn’t want you to be doing sub-par work. He’d rather you use the sick leave so that when you’re back, you’re doing good work.

      I bet it’s at least partly because you’re new to work life.

  28. Fenchurch*

    Things are finally happening here, getting to work on a short-term project away from the call center for the next few months. It’s definitely a challenge, helping to train and supervise a group of 35 contractors! My former manager specifically requested and lobbied for me to fill this position so I’m just over the moon to get the opportunity!

    I am so glad I have this site as a place to find advice regarding my new supervisory role!

  29. Sled dog mama*

    Today is the end of my first week at new job and holy cow, I knew old job was disfunctional but I didn’t realize how disfunctional until I got here. I’ve actually gone home excited each day and wake up excited to come back in. I definitely would not be here right now without AAM and all the readers here. THANKS EVERYONE!!!!!!!!

    1. JacqOfAllTrades*

      Isn’t that an awesome feeling? I left a very toxic workplace last year and am in a fantastic dream job right now. I *still* have moments where something happens here and I’m thinking, “Oh. That’s right. That’s how NORMAL workplaces operate. Squeeeee!”

    2. Sled dog mama*

      Oh and I should have said my 3 year old no longer says “mommy no go work” or clings to me and cries when I leave for work.

    3. Emily*

      That’s the best feeling! I left a horribly toxic job a year and a half ago, and still appreciate my new job so, so much because of how much better it is. A complete 360! Glad you are loving the new job.

    4. Blackout*

      I had a similar experience. I’ve been at my new job for a year and a half, and I’m still loving it! Congratulations!

    5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Congratulations!!! I remember the toxic work chronicles, and I am so happy that you’re happy (and that the improved workplace dynamic is spilling over at home in a good way). Hooray!

  30. Teapot librarian*

    Best part of the week! I need some help making a decision. My office is responsible for maintaining a library of teapot making. Over the last few decades, this library has grown to include a lot about tea, much less about teapot making, which itself causes me no end of frustration. Now, my predecessor taught a course in hot-drink-vessel design at the local college. His students’ final project was to choose an existing hot drink vessel (that is, a specific teapot, coffeepot, mug, …) and report on all aspects of its design. And then…my predecessor kept the reports with the intent of adding them to the library of teapot making.

    I think this is a terrible idea for many reasons. We don’t have space, the work isn’t high quality, as far as I know we don’t have the students’ permission, most of them are not in line with the intended subject matter of our collection, and so forth. However, as always, there are office politics at play. The decision to put the projects in the library was made my predecessor (now deceased) and one of my employees, who was a trusted advisor to my predecessor. That employee and I have a rockier relationship, which I am trying desperately to improve (while also trying very hard to overcome my aversion to difficult conversations). Also, it isn’t clear whether we have the authority to get rid of the projects.

    This is an issue now because the projects are taking up a tremendous amount of space in our supply room, which is so full that it is literally a fire code violation. So I’d like to get rid of them. At the same time, I’m nervous about doing so.

    I’m hoping that some of you very wise AAM readers and commenters can help me figure out 1. what I need to do/think about before tossing the projects (in addition to talking with the employee I mention above!), and 2. what shape that conversation should take. Is it too adversarial to start with “I think we should not put these projects in the library, but get rid of them, and here’s why?” Is there a better way to approach the conversation? (Technically, the conversation started over email when I asked him the other day what the intent of our having the projects was. He responded that they were intended for the library.)

    For any librarians in the commentariat, we don’t have a collections policy beyond what is in the law establishing our office. I am well aware that having a collections policy in place before difficult situations arise is imperative to dealing with difficult situations.

    Thanks for helping me think through this!

    1. SophieChotek*

      Is there any possibility of digitalizing them — that way of this other employee really wants to keep the you can keep them, but free up the space?

      Are these needed as references/guides to current students? If so, could you keep a few of the really good and really bad ones? in college my profs often saved some really good/really bad examples for the type of assignment that would not change/was given every year.

      1. Teapot librarian*

        I hadn’t thought about digitizing. In this case, it’s probably not worth it–these are binders that include things like sections of cut and paste from the newspaper, though they do also have original work. But in general…why didn’t I think of that? :-)

        And no, they’re not needed for current students. I don’t know if the course even exists anymore, and if it does, no one outside my office knows we have them. (Heck I didn’t know that we have as many as we have until I started digging around our supply room, and I’m in charge here.) Also, I don’t want to spend the time looking at all of them to figure out which are good and which are bad, so it’s a good thing they aren’t needed!

    2. GigglyPuff*

      Yeah the lack of a collections policy is to bad that would’ve helped a lot. Basically I think you need to come up with a really well written document on why you need to weed these items. While there isn’t a formal collections policy, you should base the weeding on the informal policies, trends, and researcher requests you get. You should also point out that there’s no clear donation form and that the papers don’t actually belong to you guys. Also I mean, how old are these things? Is this a topic that is still relevant to the library’s subject, or is it all just old news, which would support weeding it?

      You say you don’t know if you have the authority to get rid of the projects, I think that’s where you need to start. And also, does that mean you never get rid of anything?

      Plus I would totally take this is a starting point to buckling down and start having written policies. They’re awesome, and my division loves them and uses them when conflicts come up with other divisions just wanting to do their own thing instead of following standards.

      1. GigglyPuff*

        I’d like to add since others are suggesting make digital surrogates. I work specifically in digital and that can develop into a whole new host of issues, especially for a place that doesn’t have a formal collections policy, most likely there isn’t a digital policy. (Unless I’m completely wrong, and you happen to also have digital items and have a system set-up.)

        If you go the digital route, you need to keep them to digital standards which means preservation copies, access copies, short-term and long-term planning on how they will be stored, format, etc. I mean sure, you could scan them, turn them into PDFs and leave them just sitting on a computer (but please don’t), but they eventually just become someone else’s problem who will have to do their own research into what they are and why they are there.

        Personally I think they either need to be weeded, and asking if the college department wants them back, sounds like a good idea, or just cataloged and added to the library. Then start on that collections policy and down the road, if there’s been no usage you’ll have a formal policy to back up getting rid of them.

      2. Teapot librarian*

        We’re a teapot archive with this little library component, so in general no, we don’t get rid of things. Plus, some of us definitely have some hoarder tendencies. (I include myself in that group, which might be part of why I haven’t just pulled the trigger on dumping them.)

        I have had “write a collections policy” on my to-do list for the past N months. I started my job N+1 months ago. Somehow, it just hasn’t happened. (Maybe I spend too much time reading AAM?) You’re right; I need to buckle down and get it done.

        (As a side note, we have a 20+ box set of donated books that also don’t have a deed of gift. I don’t know if the donor is even alive anymore, or who his next of kin is if he isn’t, or if it was the next of kin who made the donation. I don’t care that he was an important teapot-adjacent designer if his personal library is about athletics and molecular biology; his library isn’t relevant to us.)

    3. Sibley*

      “Hey, the library is full, and it’s a fire code violation. We really need to address this somehow. I was thinking that x, y, and z could be purged to help with this problem. What are your thoughts?”

    4. SCAnonabrarian*


      Ok, on the one hand, it’s likely that the students will never care that their project got cataloged or not, but I think legally speaking you need to have permissions before you publish things? That might be a useful angle for you to look into. Then you can be regretful but respectful of the students’ intellectual property and refuse to catalog them. :) At that point then they belong to the students, and I would think can be safely delivered back to the college where the professor worked and his department can deal with them.

      I do feel like it’s a little antagonistic and probably more confrontational than it’s worth to go straight to “let’s ditch this stupid crap” when you are already on rocky ground with the person who helped organize the project that resulted in said crap.

      So you need ways to get around that.
      Can you record them somehow? Photographs, videos (are they like dioramas or models? Ugh.) and write a short little description of the project, stick all the photos into a binder (or even better as an online resource on your webpage maybe?) and then catalog JUST that short little description of the project with the recordings, and toss the originals. Then it’s not taking up as much space and you can weed the binder in a few years when there’s evidence that it hasn’t been used.

      Can you make them someone else’s problem? Is there another library department or display area that could use them as “inspiration” or examples for the students? Is there a student life center back at the professor’s college that has a display space that you can plunk them into and then they just toss them after the display period?

      I think finding a tactful way of getting them off your hands will end up being the quickest and most gentle way of moving them out of your store room without jeopardizing your rocky relationship with your employee. Bonus points if you can get them invested in having the projects displayed or used somewhere else “where they’ll be appreciated and actually used” and then put them in charge of the project and say “since you’ve been involved from the beginning, it’s only appropriate that you be the one to bring the project to a successful close in honor of Professor Guy.”

      1. Teapot librarian*

        I hadn’t thought of returning them to the department at the college. That’s actually the best idea, I think. You win some of the M&Ms I’m having for lunch! :-)

    5. AnotherLibrarian*

      I have actually had this exact same problem at my Teapot Library/Archive. I think most people in this business have. We ended up discussing it with our higher power (the Dean of Teapots) and getting his permission in writing. Then we spoke to the donor about the items in question and they told us to use our best judgement. We got this in writing too. Then quietly the items disappeared into the night via the dumpster and no one was the wiser.

      We did, however, have a collections policy to back us up and all staff were all onboard. So, figure out who you need to get clearance from and get it in writing. Then move forward. Covering your behind in situations like this is super critical.

      Another point is, how long have you been there? Taking over a collection from someone else who was there for a very long time can be super challenging. I wouldn’t take this on too early. I would wait until you have a high level of trust from your colleagues. People don’t always react well to change, especially not when they feel like it is coming from some new person. Sometimes, this means holding onto things for a few years until you feel confident that they can go away quietly and without anyone getting upset.

      1. Teapot librarian*

        I think if I had access to the donor, this would all be a lot easier!

        I was hired to make a lot of improvements fast, which I’ve completely failed at–for one thing, this is my first management job, and it turns out I definitely don’t have instinctive management skills. It’s been over a year, less than a year and a half, but big WHAT HAVE YOU ACCOMPLISHED deadlines are looming, so I’m feeling some pressure. The last people who have had my job have all had less-than-4-year tenures (though my predecessor had 2 of them–he retired and then was re-hired 4 years later), so I don’t want to wait so long that I’m out of a job. (Which my boss has been insinuating could be a lot sooner than 4 years. An issue for another time.)

        I’m actually in the hiring process (boy oh boy do people need to read Alison’s advice about applying for jobs) for the first new non-director in the office in quite some time, and I think it will help to have someone who I’ve brought on board to bounce ideas back and forth with. So maybe I should wait at least until then!

        1. AnotherLibrarian*

          Well, in your case, I would argue the department is the donor, since that is where the students were. So with their written permission, you maybe in the clear.

    6. ExcitedAndTerrified*

      So, as a couple of other people have mentioned… you really need policies on collections and the weeding thereof. Your responses have indicated you realize that, but that it still hasn’t been finalized yet. I get how that happens… Writing policy is not actually a fun part of any job, and codifying procedures is even more boring.

      But there’s good news! You can very often adjust someone else’s policies to fit your needs, in a lot less time than it takes to write entirely new ones. Most professional library/museum organizations I’ve worked with have kept a repository of voluntarily submitted policies on various things, which members were free to take and adapt to their needs.

      Keep in mind that your collections policy should always leave room for some exercise of personal discretion. Sometimes the really old thing is worth keeping, just because it is really old, and you don’t want to throw it out otherwise.

      Aside from that… I’m a bit of a weeding fanatic, which does make me an oddity in the library fields. I’ve never found a good reason to put off dealing with it, despite what others tell me and themselves. But I’m also really good at gathering statistics and interpreting reports, so I can usually pull together a quick set of data that shows we have no reason to keep anything I’ve set my eyes on… and then, I make a couple of trips to the dumpster.

      Of course, if you think there is going to be push back, by a predecessor or someone else… Sometimes, you just have to cite other concerns, to get people to back down. Rather than saying it will never be used, try to find (or create) a particularly mildewed example of the work, say you think it’s likely to contaminate the actual collection if ever introduced, and then dispose of everything it was with, ‘just to be safe’.

      As far as having the conversation with the employee you mention: You might want to try putting the ball in that employee’s court, perhaps by starting the conversation by asking “Why haven’t these projects ever ended up in the active library under (Predecessor)’s and your watch, if they were created for us?” A lot of times, if you can get them to answer honestly, they’ll come to the realization that the projects simply aren’t worth the time and effort to catalog (though, depending on how invested they are, you might have trouble getting them to answer honestly).

      1. ExcitedAndTerrified*

        As another note on Collections and Weeding policies… The best policies for collections development/management/discard that I’ve seen, which correlate to the institution having a good and useful collection, all seemed to be based from the standpoint of asking “Why should I add/keep/replace this thing?” rather than asking “why should I get rid of it?”

        In other words, they assumed that the reason to keep any given item that was being considered could, if there was a need, actually be articulated, rather than assuming that the default mindset should be to keep a thing, because it was there.

        I think that mindset helps a lot, to curb the natural hoarding tendency that can show up, in this line of work.

  31. Beth*

    Starting a new job in a week! My biggest downfall is organization…any tips on staying organized from the beginning?

    1. Emac*

      What kinds of things do you need to organize – emails, files, project deadlines, etc? Are there things that have worked for you in the past, after you realized you needed to be more organized?

      I sometimes have a problem with organizing as well, but I feel like I’ve needed different systems at each job. But at least that past experience, and observing people who are super organized, has given me some tools to try for a new job, so hopefully I’ll keep getting faster at getting organized.

      My big thing is making it simple for myself and learning to let some things go. I can get a little obsessive about creating organizational systems, so I have to watch myself. For example, we use Gmail for our work email and it sometimes drives me crazy to go to my All Mail folder and see a mass of unorganized emails. But I also know that the search feature for Gmail is pretty powerful, so I’ve learned to not worry too much about “labeling” every email so explicitly and just relying on the search feature.

      1. Beth*

        Emails is a huge one – that’s something for which I’m going to need to come up with a simple solution, because like a lot of places we get WAYYY too many emails. Others are mostly deadlines (project-based work with varying lengths/intensity of projects) and learning/keeping track of some new technologies and systems. So thanks, I’m going to have to do something similar to you with the email – there’s just too much of it to keep it perfectly organized! My biggest problem with email is I’ll see one with an action that I can’t do that minute, and even though I flag it, sometimes I forget to go back to it – so I’ll need to make sure I get that out of my old email and onto some sort of to-do list.

        1. Emac*

          What do you use for email? I watched a webinar on time management awhile ago that completely revolutionized how I structure my email Inbox, but I’m not sure if it would work on Outlook or only on Gmail.

          In Gmail, in settings, there’s a tab for Inbox. If you switch it to Priority Inbox, you can then create four of your own categories that divide up your inbox.For example, their suggestion was to have 1) Important & Unread 2) Starred 3) Waiting on and 4) Everything Else

          The idea is that Important & Unread and Everything Else should be pretty much empty after each time you check email. For every email that you get, you do one of three or four things – answer it immediately if it won’t take a lot of time, “star” it if it will take longer so that you remember to go back to it, label it “Waiting On” if you need input from someone else before dealing with it, or maybe just reading and/or archiving it. And the goal is also to clear the Starred section by the end of each day.

          I also saw someone on another thread today mention using a Bullet Journal system. It actually looks like it could be really useful. I have an Arc notebook from Staples, that has pages that I can move around to different sections which I think would work really well with this system.

          1. Beth*

            Oooo I like that email strategy. Unfortunately I’m forced to use Outlook, but I might be able to figure out how to do something similar with it. I’ve heard a bit about bullet journaling but haven’t looked too much into it yet.

            1. The Moops*

              I use Boomerang for Gmail. They have a version for Outlook. I love being able to delay the sending of emails because I can do some work from home without setting up an expectation that I’m available after hours. Plus, if it’s something you don’t need to handle right away but you need to keep track of it, you can schedule it to be resent into the top of your inbox according to your specification (1 day, 5 days, on July 4th, etc.).

              You can file things according to Emac’s system (I also use the smart Inbox feature) and simultaneously set specific messages to be resent with Boomerang.

              If I can answer it as soon as I receive it without needing to look up anything, I do. And, when I check email from my phone, I’ll remark it as unread if it’s important so it doesn’t get lost in the inbox.

            2. Rocky*

              Beth, in Outlook you can right-click on the email then drag it to your calendar. I set it up as an appointment in my calendar that I will do the next day (or whenever). You can even bring attachments along.

    2. WorkerBee23*

      I just started a new job in October. I took notes daily in a notebook, then at the end of every single day, typed them into a OneNote document. (If you don’t have OneNote or don’t like it, Excel works too. Different tabs for different subjects!) This has helped me immensely – I transferred into a completely new-to-me industry & to have all of that referential information at the ready has been incredibly helpful. Also – Outlook folders! And Outlook tasks. Good luck to you & congrats on the new job!

      1. Beth*

        Thanks! Any good intros/training on outlook you’re aware of? I’ve used it for email for years at work, but embarrassingly it’s one of the few pieces of software I really don’t know how to use at a deeper level.

    3. CM*

      My tip is to focus on making sure you are keeping track of all open tasks and requests. It’s OK if your files are messy, you have lots of emails in your inbox, etc., as long as you’re not dropping the ball on things you’re being asked to do. You can have a paper notebook, Word file, draft email, whatever works for you, but have a to-do list (one, single list, not a bunch of notes) that you update religiously.

      1. Beth*

        I fall into the trap of putting my notes in so many different places so I’m going to try hard to keep it all in one notebook! I also like the idea that as long as I’m on top of that the organization of other stuff isn’t as important, thanks!

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        I just started a new job 4 weeks ago and this has been key for me.

        I use the StickyNotes function in word to keep track of what I need to do each day and write down thoughts for the next day. Update throughout the day (move things down that are rolling over, add things as they come up) so when I get in first thing I can check my desktop stickynote and remind myself what is important.

        I also have a WIP word document where I write down all associated tasks for each project I am assigned (as well as things like Admin and Training) as they come out of meetings, AND where I keep track of my time (we have to input end of the month on timesheets). When I have accomplished something I draw a line through it but leave it on. One doc for each month so when it comes time to do appraisals, I can see what I worked on and what I did/who I talked to.

    4. JenM*

      I’m extremely disorganised in my personal life. I’ve learned to always keep a notebook with me so I can note down tasks and cross them off as I go. I check it over 30 mins before end of work to make sure I’m on top of everything. I also identify tasks I put off doing and make sure I do those first. Good luck!

      1. Beth*

        Thanks, I think I am going to try to find a small notebook that I can fit in my pocket. Maybe one of those moleskine ones? Physical notebook is definitely the way to go for me as the job is definitely not always desk-based so I need something with me constantly (and can’t always have my phone where I work)

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It’s my downfall too, and I just started a new job and committed myself to being organized. Everything I do is electronic and available on our network, but I learned at my last job that I am much better able to organize my thoughts if I write things down and use stationery to stay on top of things. Here’s what I do:

      – Take a lot of notes– I write most of mine down, write some in Evernote. The ones I write down, I sometimes type up in a separate document (depending on relevance), which helps me absorb the info and make it legible, because I have the world’s worst handwriting
      – While I’m taking a note, anything that is a task gets a star next to it
      – At the end of every day, I take out a fresh buckslip and write down the next day’s date and the list of things to do that day (this is totally new for me and I enjoy it– it works as an excellent way for me to get all of my thoughts in order)
      – Color-coded folders: I just did this today, made folders for each current project and assigned them a color by client (we have several projects for each client group)
      – Status Post-Its: on every folder, I have a Post-It that’s dated with each step in the project (e.g., “1/3: Approved by Client”), and I cross that out and update it with each step, even though most of this is covered in our project management software (that I have yet to truly learn)

      My job has a TON of information to process, and I realized early on that I have to take the extra step to stay on top of it all. It also helps that my new boss won’t scoff at me for keeping paper around like my last boss did.
      Good luck!

      1. Beth*

        Yes I’m also definitely better with writing things down, plus I am often not at my desk and don’t have access to my computer. I like the star next to tasks idea, and also really love writing my to-do list for tomorrow at the end of the day. I actually started doing this a while ago and it was great, but didn’t keep on top of it enough. It helped so much when I did though, I came in the next morning knowing exactly what to start working on. I’m determined to keep it up at the new job! Thanks!

    6. Dawn*

      Get a notebook and a pen and bring them everywhere with you! Write everything down in the notebook and nowhere else. For things that need to get done, put a box next to them as a line item. For things that need to get done by you personally, put a box and a star next to the line item. So stuff like you getting your benefits set up, “Submit paperwork to HR” would be a box and a star, because you have to do that, but “Recieve healthcare card in the mail” would just be a box, because it happens without your input. That way in a couple weeks if you haven’t gotten the card yet, when you’re looking through your notebook at your outstanding items you can be like “Oh yeah I need to look into that”- new line item “Ask HR about healthcare card” with a box and a star! Check off the boxes as you complete things/ as they’re completed, and I also like to draw a line through the task just to make it easier to see what’s done.

      1. Beth*

        YES! I love the idea of check boxes even for things *I* don’t need to do. Often I am waiting for something from someone, and receiving it would prompt an action on my part, but if they don’t follow through/aren’t on time, then I forget to follow up with them. This happens all the time in my industry, so people generally understand that I couldn’t move forward without X, but following up will definitely keep my projects moving forward and keep me more informed about where they are. Thanks so much!

        1. Worker Bee (Germany)*

          Late to the party, but maybe it still helps. I also use a notebook aka my work bible. And similar to how Dawn describes his organization of checks boxes, is my set up of my outlook inbox. I have folders where everything that is dealt with or is just an FYI, is sorted in. In my Inbox folder are two kind of emails: The read ones, where I am waiting on someone to get back to me and my read but marked again as unread emails, which are my to dos. Every evening or if I have to get going, the next morning, I go through the inbox and check what needs my immediate attention, or where I do need to follow up, since I haven’t heard back in a while on that teapot design request email. Those to dos will be written down in my notebook on the To Do today list.
          Hope this helps and makes sense. And congrats on the job!

    7. zora*

      Others have great tips, but I want to add that you should ask some of the new people you will be working with! Often I find my organization system really depends a lot on the job and how the company prioritizes things, so I have gotten great advice from new coworkers that has really helped me get organized faster. I’ve asked things like, “So, how do you usually organize your email? Do you have any systems or tips that have really worked well for you? Is chronological better, or by topic?” Feel free to ask your boss as well as other coworkers in your area. I have found people are actually impressed when I ask, they don’t assume I’m an idiot who doesn’t know how to organize, it actually sounds even more like I know what I’m doing.

      Good luck!

    8. Windchime*

      I just started a new job a few weeks ago and decided that I was going to try to do better at being organized. So this is what I’m currently doing:

      –OneNote: I’m a big fan and have been for years. I keep a One Note file full of notes — some are general How-To, others are notes for certain projects.

      –Email — We use Outlook, and I’ve started using my Unread Email folder. It’s much easier to see at a glance what hasn’t been read. Thus far, most of my emails are informational only but I do have some rules set up for important emails so they get moved to correct folders upon receipt. But the cool thing is — if they are unread, I still see them because even though they might no longer be in my Inbox, they are in my Unread Email.

      –Folders in Explorer — I used to be terrible about just dumping things into one giant folder on my network drive. Now I have a folder for each project. I save copies of project emails, sample files, anything that is related to that project gets saved in its own folder. It’s been really helpful.

      –Ticket tracking — We have a ticketing system at work to keep track of each project. One of the things my manager insists on is that we update users every week on each ticket, regardless of our progress. At first I wondered if this was overkill, but now I realize that it really helps me to stay accountable.

      –Paper Notebook — I have a page for each project in my notebook and I jot down a quick note every time there is a change to the project status. That way, when I’m asked I can quickly flip through and look at the last entry so I know what the current status is.

      This seems like a lot, but it’s shaping up to really make me feel less anxious and more aware of the status of all my projects.

  32. Fortitude Jones*

    Yay, Friday! Last day and then I’m taking a much needed break from work for a week because I have been thisclose to rage quitting the past couple of months. I like my job okay for the most part, but I hate our agents, I hate our insureds, and I hate their clients – my job would be a thousand times better if I didn’t have to deal with these people. The incompetence/stupidity is astounding. And I’m tired of upper management always rolling over and letting these damn people throw hissy fits to get their way. Sometimes “no” should really mean “no” and be the end of a conversation.

    Anyway, my one year anniversary in this new position is coming up on the 18th, but I just don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to stay in this division. I feel bad about that because the Senior VP of my division keeps giving me great training opportunities that he’s not giving others who have been there longer than me, and he and my AVP went through hell to get me out of my previous division, but I just can’t deal with their annoying ass clientele. I don’t know if this is just burnout talking (my division is a volume based business with warp-speed turnaround requirements, and I’ve been working five months straight with no break besides major holidays) or if I’m truly dissatisfied with damn near everything, so hopefully, this week break will help me clarify some things.

    *sigh* Let me make it through this year without losing my shit….

    1. Spoonie*

      Good gawd I read that and it could have been me 18 months ago. As in I thought it was my old company…until I saw some of the details you posted.

      While I was job hunting (I’d been at Old Job ~2 years), I started doing things outside of work that I enjoyed — teapot making classes, long walks, library visits, dinner with friends. I tried to make life outside of work as fabulous as possible so that when I was at Old Job I didn’t ragequit. Or rant at coworkers.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Yeah, I really need to get back into my writing so I can have an outlet for the anger that comes from dealing with stupid people all day, lol.

  33. JacqOfAllTrades*

    Happy Friday! I just popped in to say I love this website and find it so very helpful. I’m learning a lot, but thankfully my workplace is pretty awesome so I don’t have to use it too often :) And for an HR person to say that, you *know* it’s gotta be an awesome workplace.

  34. Alison*

    Parents calling in. My teenage son is a courtesy clerk at the neighborhood grocery store. If they call in sick 3 days they have to get a Dr. note. He’s been pretty sick and passed it on to me. I’m immune compromised so I went in at first sign of symptoms to get tested for the flu – yup, its the Asian type A, already in epidemic status in Seattle and 60% of us positive for the flu got the flu shot – grrrr!

    Son’s 3rd scheduled day came up and his dad called out sick for him for two reasons; he’d had a rough night coughing all night, up and down and he was finally sleeping. 2, Most importantly, he was going to go in anyway and suffer through because that’s the culture of this management (confirmed by the in store retail pharmacy staff that we’re friendly with).

    He was definitely still contagious (fever in the night) but now we’re the bad guys. Clearly I’m too close to be objective. Werw we wrong? We’ve been completely hands off with this up until now. He applied on his own, interviewed, etc. although I did make him read all the relevant interview tips Alison has!

    1. Leatherwings*

      Yep, you were in the wrong here I’m sorry. It’s your son’s responsibility to handle his job, and it’s *always* weird when parents contact an employer on a child’s behalf. Waking up and calling out when you’d rather be sleeping is just part of working life.

      Sounds like you’re really great and conscientious parents, but your role here should’ve been coaching him through why he needed to call out (because he was contagious and could’ve made himself sicker), not doing it for him.

      1. bopper*

        I have to disagree…if the teenager is under 18 then I think when the employee is so sick they cannot function it would be okay to call in for them…but obviously try not to do this if you can. It is like if someone was in the hospital for an emergency it would be okay for the spouse to let the employer know.

        1. Leatherwings*

          I’ve managed young people before, and being too sick to function is one thing (like, if they are in the hospital), but just sleeping in? I don’t want a call from your parents. Regardless of his age, this is a real job and he and his parents should treat it as such.

          1. Anna*

            As an adult I’ve been too sick to call in to work. Like fevered and out of it, so my boyfriend at the time had to do it for me. There are always exceptions.

            1. Triangle Pose*

              I think we all agree that if you are too sick to function, someone else can call. Leatherwings is saying sleeping in is not one of these exceptions. It’s a real job and the song should treat it that way. Parents should have woken him up to call or explained to him before he slept that he has the responsibility to set an alarm and call in.

      2. KR*

        I have to agree. We employed your teenager, not you. We need him to call in. Unless he’s in the hospital and unable to speak or delerious, he can give us a 3 minute phone call.

    2. Jenbug*

      I think you definitely overstepped. For one thing, the only time that a 3rd party should call off for someone else is if they are unconscious or literally cannot speak.

      And it should have been your son’s choice if he was calling off or not.

      1. KR*

        Oh yeah on your second point. Not saying you would do this OP, but I’ve had parents show up to the grocery store and get mad at me because their teen came to work because they didn’t feel that sick and then take their teen home. Or have the teen come in the next day and tell us their parents forced them to call out. It’s hard to get mad at them because they’re still under 18 and have to obey their parents and don’t always have control over their ride or whether they can leave the house or not.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I mean, IMO if he’s 14 or so, maybe it’s your call. If he’s a high school senior or later, you’ve way overstepped.

      Fellow parent of a teenager.

      P.S. Speedy recovery to everyone!

    4. Caroline*

      I’m not clear from your post who is casting you as the “bad guy,” your son or the employer?

      Unless you son is VERY young, like 14-15, I’d say yes, it was inappropriate for you to step in. This is something that should have been handled by him, with your advice/guidance.

    5. Apollo Warbucks*

      For what its worth I think you should have put your foot down with him in private and made him call in sick himself, rather than call in for him, if he’s old enough to be working he’s old enough to call in without his parents doing it for him.

    6. Lemon Zinger*

      Your son is old enough to have a job, so he is old enough to call out sick. It’s inappropriate for someone else to call an employee out sick unless said employee is vomiting repeatedly or unconscious.

      Your son is probably worried about being fired now, as I would be if I were in his shoes.

      1. Alison Read*

        Yes! This! He thinks his job is in trouble now. Age wise he’s a HS jr, although he finished/graduated HS this past semester. He just turned 17. It’s such an odd balance. He’s on the cusp of being an adult yet still a kid. Smart kid but zero interest in college.

        I’m just hoping his managers are used to meddling parents. Leatherwings, having experience managing teenagers please tell me we’re not the first parents to cross this boundary?! I think it was a lot me feeling like crap and not having the energy to battle a hardheaded teenager.

        Now we’re the ones that will take him into the pediatrician to get a release to work – there’s something about that that seems so odd!

        1. Leatherwings*

          Haha! You’re certainly not the first, don’t worry. It’s not a huge deal, just something I would advise that you do differently in the future :)

        2. Lemon Zinger*

          When I was a teenager about to start my first job, my mom actually CAME IN to the office to speak to my boss about why she wouldn’t provide my social security card, which she later gave to me after it was made clear to her that I wouldn’t be hired without it. It was horribly embarrassing. Later my boss took me aside and said though she understood that we were mostly all in our teens, parents getting involved in our work was unacceptable.

          Seriously, he COULD be fired if his boss is enough of a grump. Hopefully your son realizes that every aspect of his job, including calling out sick, is up to him.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          One more year and then he is 18, AR. Hang tough.

          No. You are not the first parent nor are you the second parent. And as you illustrate here this is one reason why it happens. Parents call because it’s the path of least resistance.

          Hopefully his boss will scare the daylights out of him, “Don’t ever have mommy call again.” That would actually help you in the situation.

          I hope you feel better knowing that I had to explain to a 21 y/o that mom could not call in for her. (The explanation went well, she was duly upset and there were no further occurrences.)

        4. Alison Read*

          End result – he was not put on the schedule for next week. According to him: he showed up, first/only words from the boss , “Where’s your note?” Son handed it over and boss asked, “When are you scheduled?” DS said he wasn’t on the schedule, “Be here at 8:45 Monday.” I don’t know if that’s some type of punishment? He’s never started worked before noon (another factor in our boundary crossing call – to ensure a 4 hr notice before his scheduled shift – yeah, I recognize, still not a valid excuse). I’m hoping it was just an open spot they could fit him in on the schedule, nothing more, nothing less, so we can put this all behind us.

          The good thing of all of this, my son’s first exposure to the working world is a pretty tough trial by fire. We’ve coached him to not let others opinions of his coworkers/bosses influence his opinions, I’ve challenged him to find a commonality with those that are supposedly the most difficult to get through to, to try and form some type of connection and hopefully create positive relationships. Being that it’s a local, neighborhood store, there is definitely a grain of truth in the very few and very far between complaints I manage to find out from him about his job.

          I figure if he manages to be successful at this job – he’ll be well positioned for pretty much anything the working world has to throw at him.

        5. blackcat*

          As a former teacher of 17 year olds, I think it can be a hard age for parents. As you said, they’re still kids in a lot of ways… yet they are very close to being adults.

          But the only way for them to become functioning adults is for them to start taking over their own stuff. As long as he is a relatively normal kid (no significant mental illness or developmental delays), I can pretty much promise you that if you start treating him like an adult, he’ll start behaving like one. He may stumble, he may mess up, but messing up is unlikely to ruin his life (unless he/his friends are into hard drugs/will drink and drive OR he is speeds while driving). He might not be a very responsible adult, but he will likely be no less responsible than most young adults.

          Could he get himself fired? Yes. Could he be miserable working while sick, and have his coworkers made at him for making them sick? Yes. Could he get in a fender-bender and struggle with higher insurance costs? Yes.

          These are mistakes you should let him make. It’s his life and those are his mistakes. I KNOW this is hard! But, in many ways, the most loving thing you can do–and the best way to take care of him in the long run–is to let him manage his own life. DON’T battle him unless it’s super serious (eg take away car keys if you see evidence of dangerous driving). You can advise, but then let him make his own decisions.

          Also recommended: check with his doctor to see if they are okay with him taking himself to appointments (or, if he does not drive, being dropped off and picked up later). Many doctors (at least family docs) are okay with treating a 16+ year olds without a parent present. Depending on your state, they may need your consent to treat him for anything, but he should be able to go and get his own doctor’s note for work.

          1. Observer*

            Lots of doctors will see kids even younger without the parents present. Of course, as you say, they need parental consent for treatment, but doctor’s notes type of things don’t need it.

            I live a short walk from my pediatrician. I’ve sent my kids for throat cultures and the like on their own long before they were 18.

    7. Emac*

      I’m a little surprised by the reactions here – I was reading the OP as saying that the son *didn’t* want to call in sick at all, but she made the decision that he wasn’t going to go to work and called in. That to me seems like a bigger deal than who should have actually made the call.

      That said, OP, it sounds like you’ve taken the comments here to heart and learned from this, which I imagine can’t be easy to do especially when you’re worried about your child. And I’m sure you’ve already done this, but I think it’s important to make it clear to your son that you realize you violated his boundaries and won’t do something like that again, and help him to figure out how to communicate his boundaries with you and others clearly. And that it’s normal to do that. (Sorry, I don’t mean to sound lecture-y; my mother firmly believes that children, no matter what age (I’m over 40), do not have a right to boundaries ever, so it’s a bit touchy for me.)