open thread – February 17-18, 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 :)

{ 1,590 comments… read them below }

  1. Murphy*

    So I think my office may have forgotten to invite me to my own baby shower?

    About 2 weeks ago, our admin asked me about some tentative dates for throwing me a shower. She gave me two possible dates which were both fine. We briefly discussed food allergies/preferences, etc. That’s the last I heard about it. Was looking at my boss’s calendar and two weeks from now he has “Murphy’s shower” on his calendar, but no one has confirmed date/time with me. Our conference room is reserved at both possible times that I was given, one saying “HOLD – Murphy’s shower” (which usually means tentative) and the other just says “HOLD”.

    I’m not sure if I should ask someone, or pretend that I don’t know anything? (I’m assuming it’s not a surprise, since admin and I discussed it. The last shower we had was definitely not a surprise for the guest of honor.) They have a history of not including me in things, but I feel like they’d include me in my own shower!

    1. Penny*

      Are the dates still far off that they just haven’t finalized the party date? Or are they slow to send out invites? My work is pretty notorious for sitting on party dates for a long time and not telling anyone til a couple days before.

      1. Murphy*

        It’s 2 weeks from today. It wouldn’t be on people’s calendars unless an invite was sent out. (I checked and it’s on a few other people’s calendars too.) So if an invite was sent out, I didn’t get it.

    2. EddieSherbert*

      I’d ask Admin (that you had the original conversation with). It shouldn’t be awkward since they brought it to you first, right? :)

    3. fishy*

      That’s weird. If they asked you about dates and it’s on your boss’s calendar, that would be a pretty bad surprise. I’d just follow up with the admin asking if it’s been officially scheduled.

    4. Maple*

      They may very well be in a big circle of “of course someone has told Murphy, it’s FOR Murphy!” , thinking someone else has taken care of it. I don’t think it would be weird to shoot an email to whoever you talked about dates with that just says something like “Putting my schedule together for the next couple weeks, did we end up with a firm date for the shower?”

      1. Teapot Librarian*

        Not work, but I had an organization schedule something for me without checking my schedule. I learned about it when the email announcing it was sent. I had a conflict. I almost did what Gandalf the Nude mentions below; instead I left my conflicting event early, busted my tail to get there, and then pulled the martyr card about how I had to leave my conflicting event because no one had thought to check with me.

        1. Hilorious*

          I ended up on the morning of saying “hey, should I have something on my calendar today?” and they were very apologetic. It was mostly because I usually planned stuff at that office.

          I really didn’t mind. It was endearing that they were so hopeless without me ;-)

      2. IndianaAnna*

        This happened to me too! I provided lunch coverage at a bank. I started my shift covering the woman in the detached drive-thru and then I would proceed inside the bank when she returned from lunch to cover the other tellers’ breaks. I brought and consumed my own lunch while working the drive-thru and then when I got inside I found out they had a whole spread for me. They all assumed someone else had told me about the lunch. I was too full to eat anything!

      3. Artemesia*

        A friend of mine was going to be late to a dinner we were doing before a concert because his department was doing an event honoring him for his leadership of a particular program for many years. He texted me just before the dinner saying he would be there on time (we were going to go ahead and order tapas and get plenty so his lateness would not be an issue)

        The department made a big deal and cleared the date with him, but then the person who was in charge of planning it, just didn’t do anything. When he casually mentioned it that morning to her, he got a blank look.

    5. Gandalf the Nude*

      I’m just sadistic enough to not say anything and hope they don’t invite me so that I can lord it over them for eternity. “So, did y’all have fun at my baby shower WITHOUT ME?”

      1. Murphy*

        Haha, that’s what my husband says I should do, and I am tempted! It’s during working hours in the conference room right outside my office area, so presumably someone would come get me, so I wouldn’t actually miss it.

        Though the funny thing is (I’m salaried nonexempt) there’s a work event earlier in that week that will keep me more than 8 hours, meaning that I actually could leave early on that Friday afternoon…which would actually lead to me missing the shower.

      2. OtterB*

        Many years ago, my office held a baby shower lunch for a coworker who wasn’t there – because she had the baby a little early. We were bringing together people from multiple offices and were afraid the word wouldn’t get to everyone if we tried to cancel it in those pre-email days. We told her we had a great time. :-)

        1. DevManager*

          I missed the baby shower at my office for my first because it was scheduled the same day as my 36 week appointment and I was held over at that while they determined if I got to go home or went straight to be induced.

          The generous gift card came in handy buying preemie-sized clothes and diapers.

        2. Workaholic*

          My team threw a baby shower for a male team member. He missed it because his wife went into labor 4 hours before it was scheduled.

        3. Lizard*

          I’ve now been to 2 baby showers for coworkers who had their babies prematurely the night before the shower. (The babies were all OK). We went ahead with the shower both times and everyone had an excellent time.

    6. The Rat-Catcher*

      I think this might actually create an easier situation to ask than in other party-type settings, because there isn’t the question of “maybe they didn’t want to invite me…”
      I don’t know how much of the invite details you are able to see, but maybe they are discussing a group gift for you or something like that? And someone was supposed to invite you separately but forgot? (Yes, that does still raise the question of how you forget to invite the guest of honor, which I really just find befuddling.)

    7. Anon Imus*

      Several years ago, my company had a big Saturday event that was not for my team but was “all hands who can be there on deck.” Unfortunately (for them), this event conflicted with a family wedding for which my time off had been approved and on the shared work calendar for months.

      It was not a comfortable meeting when the company owner and the CEO both met with me to give me my schedule of events for that day and I had to explain that I was going to be out of state. Apparently neither of them had thought to check the calendar. They had to scramble to change some of the marketing for this event at the last minute, because they had already written up descriptions of those events before talking to me about them.

      And I got a VERY good lesson in why it’s important to be proactive about getting your approved time off documented.

    8. Misquoted*

      Is it possible that they put it on everyone else’s calendars, thinking you wouldn’t see it, but are planning to just bring you into the conference room (under the guise of discussing something work-related), so it’s a surprise (ish) after all?

      1. Murphy*

        Perhaps? But we check eachother’s calendars all the time. And there’s no one event that people were invited to, they just put it on their own calendars. But if that’s the case, then someone should really schedule a fake meeting with me, because my afternoon is wide open for someone to schedule a real one.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          That’s what people did at OldJob for surprise things. We’d enlist the training department or a VP to help with the subterfuge sometimes!

          1. Red Reader*

            It was a little fishy I was invited to a last minute emergency meeting for the project I was managing, the day before I went on leave for my wedding and honeymoon. :) (It was totally a surprise wedding party that I saw coming a mile away.)

    9. Lionheart26*

      That happened to me last month! Coworkers organised a birthday morning tea in the break room but forgot to invite me. I happened to walk in to make a coffee right as they were singing “tooo yoooouuu”…….. Turns out when I didn’t show up they decided to cut the cake and sing without me! It was quite funny really.

    10. C in the Hood*

      Maybe the original invite to everyone has the plans about your gift on it & they didn’t want you copied on it? Honestly, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yeah, I think it was probably something like this. They had an email discussion *about* the party that shouldn’t have included you, but they forgot to bring you in for the actual invite.

    11. MissGirl*

      My job forgot to invite me to my going away party. They had it on a day I didn’t work mornings. I walked in, everyone bursted out laughing, and pointed to the half-eaten potluck in the back. I remember that party more than any other.

  2. Frogger*

    I am an HR Professional in Ontario Canada, currently working for one location but hoping to expand to other locations within my mid-sized city. This would involve driving to other locations at least a few times a month but since I’m the first one in this position I can’t be sure. The furthest location from my home location (with my office) is 18km away but they are all in different directions so the furthest distance between locations is 28km. Should I ask for mileage reimbursement and if so how much? Should I calculate based on my very inexpensive vehicle and if so, how do I do that?
    TL;DL How much mileage re-imbursement do you get and how do I calculate how much I should ask for?
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Murphy*

      You should definitely ask for mileage. Does your company (or companies, I’m not sure) already have a mileage reimbursement policy? Many already do. If not, you can maybe look up other policies and ask for something comparable.

    2. Chicken may*

      I’m in the US so I’m sure it’s different, but when I claim mileage I get .54 a mile which is what is dictated by the IRS.

    3. Blue*

      I’d ask for it. There will be a number that the province uses to reimburse their employees (google will find it) which is a good baseline to start at. Also, don’t calculate it based on your particular vehicle, because mileage should address wear and tear as well (not just gas), which is impossible to calculate based on an individual car.

      Good luck!

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      The government reimbursement rate is usually considered the most fair method. It’s supposed to include depreciation and other expenses, like insurance. I googled “Canadian mileage reimbursement rate” and the first result was the CRA rate, so it seems like you have the same standard as we have with the GSA here in the US. We put in for any travel that isn’t part of our normal commute, basically anything that has us going anywhere but our office. And I usually calculate the route that I took on Google Maps after the fact, because it’s easier, but the gold standard is noting your car’s odometer reading before and after the trip.

      Good luck!

      1. LuvThePets*

        The gold standard used to be the odometer reading, but in some industries, that has changed. In many non-profit organizations, some government program managers have decided to require Google Maps or Yahoo maps etc, as that eliminates paying for any extraneous potential mileage that might slip in that could be personal use… lunch, stopping for gas or a Starbucks, etc. Mileage reimbursement has become quite the hot button issue!

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Wow. If I have to stop for gas or lunch because of offsite work, then as far as I’m concerned those errands are now work errands! I can understand requiring an explanation for anything that’s a mile or two over the mapped distance, but geez, I’ve added close to that just going up and down huge parking garages on either end of my trip!

    5. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      I’m reasonably certain that Canada and the US both have a standard reimbursement or tax deduction rate for mileage. In the US it’s $0.54/mile. Do not attempt to make up your own rate.

      1. the gold digger*

        I think that is the rate (in the US) that the IRS will allow, but your employer can reimburse at a lower rate, which I think it tacky and cheap but yes, it is done. Mine reimburses at about 41 cents a mile.

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          Sure, but I’d start with requesting the standard mileage rate, not trying to make one up out of thin air.

          1. Whats In A Name*

            Yes, also think that pointing to an established recommendation has a higher likelihood of getting approved.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          My university reimburses at 42 cents per mile. I was surprised to learn that the IRS rate is higher, because they reimburse at the IRS rate for meals and lodging, just not for mileage.

      2. Blue*

        Don’t quote me on this, but I think employers can set their own rates, and that the government one is just “The limit on the deduction of tax-exempt allowances that are paid by employers to employees who use their personal vehicle for business purposes” (gov of canada). So maybe it’s a taxable benefit if you go over?

        I don’t actually know what that means, but Frogger you don’t have to figure this all out ahead of time to bring it to your employer/client.

          1. De Minimis*

            This is a huge pain for me every year. They change the rate, I post an updated voucher form for staff and program participants [we reimburse a lot of people for travel–my org’s mission is teacher training so we have a ton of conferences throughout the year.] People rarely will use the new voucher form until late in the year and I keep having to double check and recalculate mileage [it’s a spreadsheet but I have to verify everything with an adding machine.]

    6. EngineerInNL*

      Most companies I worked for (also in Canada) just used whatever the Provincial Government’s reimbursement rate was, you can just look it up on the website and it usually updates quarterly I think

    7. Catalyst*

      The CRA rate is a maximum rate, and many companies do not actually reimburse that amount. I would see if the company has a policy about this as many do. If you are an independent contractor, I would not charge the highest rate for two reasons. First is that the company may find this to be too high, and second, it is actually a tiered system. It is .54 for the first 5000 kms driven in a year and .48 after that. It is much easier to pick a lower rate such as .50 and charge that so you do not have to be concerned about the kms. This way, you would have to drive approximately 11,000 kms before it became an issue. If you feel you will be driving more than that, then I would lower your rate accordingly.
      Hope that is helpful.

    8. I Heart HR Because I Am HR*

      If those other locations are considered ‘work locations’ and so going to and from them is part of your regular commute (and it just happens to be that you are commuting to a variety of locations), then the mileage generally isn’t reimbursable. But, if your home base is Location A and you then occasionally visit Locations B, C and D, then generally the mileage above and beyond your commute (if you come from home) or between Location A Locations B, C, D would be reimbursable.

  3. Fawn*

    I’ve been in my contract position for a little under 4 years at a public university. In that time, I’ve only received COL increases that haven’t even kept up with inflation. I’ve struggled for more than 6 months to get my manager to take a second look at my salary, which is about $15 000 less per year than comparable colleagues.

    Recently, I’ve learned that one of those comparable colleagues is leaving, and I will be asked to pick up about 75% of her slack. This could, potentially, lead me into her vacated full-time position with a higher salary, but no guarantee.

    I’m trying to figure out how to navigate the increased workload without undermining my months of salary discussion. I want to be a team player and pick up the extra work, but, frankly, I’m fed up with being underpaid for so long. Anyone have any advice? Is this just a suck it up type of situation?

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      Hell no, it’s not a suck it up situation. Being a team player does not come with the expectation of being a doormat. I think that if you’re asked to pick up her slack, you should be very forthright with your justified expectation that you will be advanced to full time and full salary. Being underpaid is one thing, but if anybody even suggests that you should take on all the slack of a departed full-time, full-salary colleague without a salary and position bump to competitive levels, that’s an insult and you should take it as one.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I agree with TNMBOIS, and I would like to add that this sounds like one of those organizations that will pay you as little as possible until you find a better-paying position, at which point they’ll try to find someone else who will tolerate being underpaid. You should assume that they’ll keep underpaying you, and you should look for better pay elsewhere. (And DO NOT accept any counteroffer, as I wouldn’t trust a place that underpaid me by so much for so long.)

        By the way, they didn’t ask you to bid on how low a salary you’d accept, did they?

      2. turquoisecow*

        I agree with the Scientist also. If you’re getting a lot more work to be done, it’s definitely reasonable to ask for a lot more money. Team player is great, but there’s a point where you have to look after your own needs, and you shouldn’t feel bad for demanding such from your own employer. If, for whatever reason, they refuse, it’s time to job hunt and get out.

    2. Kate*

      I used to work in HR at a private university. At the very least, you should be eligible for extra duty pay until your colleague’s position is filled. It’s going to be hard to get your salary adjusted in the middle of your contract, but a temporary increase (regular salary + extra duty pay [that’s what it’s called among HR]) may be easier to negotiate. From there, you can work on getting a permanent increase. You have more leverage right now that usual, so use that to your advantage.

    3. Whats In A Name*

      Definitely not a “suck it up” situation. But based on the fact that you are contracted with a public university you may need to ask some questions and approach a raise in pay from a different angle.

      If your state government or even your university has a moratorium on merit increases that allow for COL raises only you’ll need a change in status or change in title to get a raise. It’s poopy but it’s the reality (I know, because I had to do it for a mere $2K per year and our moratorium didn’t allow for COL increases either – and lasted 5 years). Addition of duties alone wasn’t enough for the pay bump, they had to come up with a new title as well.

      I would approach your boss again about the salary bump, ask about a title change being a factor in the ability to increase salary and then work with her together to see if your position can permanently take over the duties (as opposed to temporarily while they look to fill) and come up with a new position title together. The more proactive you can be in these type of scenarios the more likely your chance of getting what your are looking for salary and position wise.

    4. azvlr*

      Wait! So as a contractor, you’re getting paid less than your FT counterparts. And having to pay your own payroll taxes and medical out of this?! If this is the case, you should feel even more justified asking for a raise. Good luck!

  4. katamia*

    I work from home making basic teapots and teapots with various add-ons. I’m really good at making teapots with one particular add-on: wings. It is a huge pain to make winged teapots, and while I do make more for every winged teapot I finish, I’m at the point now where the extra money I get for making a winged versus basic teapot is not enough. I’m turning into a wreck trying to get everything done.

    But I’m really good at making winged teapots. My boss (who I’ve never met–she’s in another state, so I’d be doing this over email) is sending me more and more winged teapot assignments and fewer and fewer basic/other add-on teapots. I’m looking for suggestions on how to ask to stop entirely or at least cut way back on the number of winged teapots versus basic teapots that I make. I can’t look for work at a different teapot company because the ones that pay enough proudly proclaim on their websites that winged teapots are their specialty, so in the short term, I can’t leave.

    (For the record, the winged teapot is more difficult to use–it’s hard to keep ahold of [think the Golden Snitch], and I honestly don’t know why anyone even wants the wings because they make the product worse even though they sound really good if you’re not that familiar with teapots.)

    1. mskyle*

      Can you charge more for the winged teapot? I.e. raise your winged teapot rate while keeping your regular teapot rate the same?

      1. katamia*

        I do get paid more for winged teapots already. It’s just not enough, and at this point I hate doing them so much that I’m not sure they’d pay how much I’d “need” to want to keep doing them.

        1. designbot*

          I would put it out that you’re adjusting your rates for winged teapots, and make it on the high side of what you’d be comfortable with–and if you get fewer or no requests for them, that’s part of the point. If you charged $50/winged teapot before and now you charge $80/winged teapot, but the number of these you’re having to do go down by 40% then you come out even. If the requests go down by 80% then you’ve fulfilled the goal of shifting to more regular teapots.

          1. Koko*

            Yes! Use your price to control the demand. Cities charge for parking downtown as much to limit demand as they do for the revenue. Fewer people will drive and compete for the parking the more it costs, and those who do park will park for shorter amounts of time the more it costs. Those who are willing to pay for parking thus have a more pleasant experience because it’s easier to find a spot when there’s fewer cars competing for the spaces.

    2. fposte*

      When you say “extra money,” do you mean you’re a 1099 contractor, or are you talking about additional hours? Do you know if you’d still be of the same use to the company if you didn’t make the winged teapots?

      If you’re an independent contractor and you’re confident they’d still want your services, it would seem pretty straightforward to negotiate this (assuming that your current contract is up for renegotiation) and put a ceiling on the number of winged teapots you’ll contract to produce.

      If you’re not sure whether they’d want you if you’re only doing wingless, whether you’re an employee or a contractor I think you need to make some inquiries, which can be a little more overt if you’re an IC. “Hey, we’re moving a lot toward the winged teapots, which I hadn’t anticipated. Has that become the only viable role for our arrangement, or is there a possibility of shifting it back to more wingless teapots?”

      1. katamia*

        1099 contractor. I’m paid per teapot–the base rate for a basic teapot plus a rate bump for wings, pretty spiral designs, etc.

        I have no idea if they’re just getting more requests for winged teapots recently (meaning that everyone is doing more) or whether they’re going “Oh, Katamia’s good with winged teapots, so we’ll redirect more of them her way.”

        1. Newby*

          Have you asked to set a cap on the number of winged teapots? Say that you understand that the winged teapots are an important part of the job, but you can only commit to doing X per week like you did in the beginning and that Y is too many but you are still happy to do more regular teapots?

          1. katamia*

            I haven’t. It hasn’t really become a problem until the last month or so, but it’s already having a pretty negative effect on me, and I’m still kind of so relieved to have this job (it’s really not great, but my work history’s been rough for various reasons, some of which are my fault and some of which aren’t) that I don’t really know how to talk about this sort of thing/make a request like this.

    3. Amarzing*

      Can you clarify why companies that are good at winged teapots wouldn’t want you – an extremely competent winged teapot maker?

      Okay, I think I understand, you want to make less winged teapots, NOT make more money. I think you have to consider leaving, though, if your company really pushes you to make more winged teapots, at least go somewhere else and make more money for it.

      From your explanation, it sounds not like you hate making winged teapots (although maybe you are getting into BEC mode with the winged teapots) you just are extremely stressed trying to get all these finicky time consuming winged teapots done. If another company gives you a more reasonable workload, or higher price-per-teapot, then why is that not an option?

      1. katamia*

        From the research I’ve done, it looks like a lot of the other companies consider winged teapots to be the “base” teapot, and some of them also include things that I’m paid extra for (like pretty spiral designs and whatnot) in their “standard” rate. I don’t mind doing the pretty spiral designs, but I also like being paid extra for them.

        This company is also very good on schedule flexibility–I can tell them I want to make 5 teapots one week, 2 the next, 8 the next, etc., and they won’t care, while it looks like a lot of other companies want people to commit to steadier hours (and the same days every week, which my current company doesn’t require). A family member is having surgery next month and I want to be able to help her out, so this isn’t a great time to decrease my schedule flexibility.

        1. Big Picture Person*

          Since you can specify how many you want to do per week, you could try changing how you specify what you will take on. Something like: Since winged teapots take more time to complete, I can only do 3 winged teapots this week, and 2 without wings. How would that be received? Also, are you locked in a contract for a specific length of time? If not, I would notify them that the rate I charge for winged teapots is going up. If they set the rate, then you should certainly be able to decide how many you do of each kind as long as the demand is there.

          1. katamia*

            I provide this information through their website, and there’s no room to specify specifically what kind of teapots I want to do–no notes field or anything, just a number for how many teapots I want to do on each day of the week.

            No specific contract, but they’re the ones who originally set the rate I agreed to back when I first started working with them. My parents have told me that this doesn’t mean I can’t negotiate/try to increase my rate, but some of their other advice is, as we often see, so out of whack that I’m not sure how much wiggle room I really have, although I’m starting to think I might have a little more than I originally did.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              I think in this case your parents are right – you can go back to the company and say “Since winged teapots actually take 50% more effort than regular teapots, I’m requesting $X+50% per winged teapot instead of the $X+20% I’m getting now.” However, if they set the rate, they may be unwilling to change it. I know my employer pays a certain rate for contractors, and if someone asked for more, they’d have to have a good reason, and we’d have to have no one available who would do it for the original rate.

    4. zora*

      How to stop getting requests for winged teapots: start screwing them up.

      I mean, not really, because unprofessional. But honestly, if you weren’t so good at making them, if your winged teapots started to suck, they would send you less….

      1. katamia*

        Yep. The quality actually has gone down in some way–I’ve missed a few deadlines for winged teapots, although not by so much that it’s caused a problem (I don’t think?). :( I hate missing deadlines, but because I don’t know exactly what I’m going to get each week, it’s hard for me to know how long things are going to take me. I could actually do a lot more teapots per week if I knew in advance that I was only going to get basic teapots/teapots with pretty spiral designs and not winged teapots–right now I’m working less than I could because I have to plan around maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe getting a winged teapot.

        1. turquoisecow*

          Well, that’s worth pointing out, if they haven’t noticed. Tell them that winged teapots take significantly longer and require more effort, and you and they have to factor that in to how many teapots you’re producing per week. If you’re creating 5 base teapots a day without an issue, but 4 winged teapots is going to be a hassle, then it’s worth it to a) ask for more compensation/time to complete winged teapots and b) ask for a cap on the number of winged teapots.

          If you are charging more for winged teapots already, it’s possible that they’re sending you those projects because you’re good at it AND they think you want the extra money. If you clarify the time and effort crunch – “if you’re going to send me winged teapot requests, please limit it to 3 a day, or 2 regular teapots and 2 winged teapots, or 5 regular and no winged” (or whatever) – then maybe you can come up with something that’s more manageable.

          1. zora*

            Yeah, this is all really good! You have to remember, just because you haven’t brought this up before, doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to now!

            It’s probably best to ask to set up a phone call with the person who usually sends you assignments and say “I want to touch base on how things are going.” And talk about a couple of different options: more pay for wings, a cap on the number of wings per day or week, etc. You can talk about a few different options and then work out with them which one is going to be best for everyone involved.

          2. Wheezy Weasel*

            +1 on framing the conversation around quality. They want you to deliver them on time and without mistakes, you want to deliver them on time and without mistakes, and you’ll need to adjust the price or the schedule/amount to compensate.

    5. Zombeyonce*

      Well heck, now I want a winged teapot! They sound adorable, if completely impractical.

      I’ve been trying to think of what real-world item could compare (to figure out what you’re actually making) but keep getting stuck on the image of cute little teapots with wings. :)

      1. SophieChotek*

        Here’s a teapot that sort of has wings…
        [will go into moderation I am sure]…links to follow…

  5. The Big L*

    I had my performance review this week and am having a hard time processing what happened. I got an excellent review and the most in terms of percentage that I could receive as a salary increase. So it was good in that way. 

    But my manager started off by asking me if I’m looking for a job! I was taken aback and admitted that while I’m not looking that the role is much more junior and that I long to do more higher level work. I asked her if it seemed like I was looking and she said no but that you ‘have to be happy’.

    She admitted there was a gap between the kind of work I can do and the kind of work I am doing. She mentioned that she would be supportive if I were to look for work in other parts of the company. At this second mentioning of me leaving my role I asked her if she wanted someone else in the role and she said “NO!” but this whole conversation left me very uneasy. 

    I have been here over a year and this isn’t the first time we’ve talked about my role and me wanting to do more. During the review I offered that I know it could take time but I could see myself working more with a few key members of her team but she didn’t really respond. She seemed concerned that I just don’t have the bandwidth to do more interesting work and do what I’m doing now. 

    She had asked her direct reports to come prepared with ideas for training so I brought this up and I told her I already have skills I’m not using so I’m unsure what would make sense and again she didn’t push training. She said given my role (largely administrative) that she can’t really think of any specific goals and I just left that alone. 

    I wonder if she just doesn’t like me and would like me to move on but I don’t think that’s it. I talked to one of her managers and she just thought she doesn’t think out of the box and “she’s crazy” but that’s little comfort. She is an odd person who is in meetings back to back every single day and does not have great relationships with anyone really so we often chalk it up to her being crazy. I do know we have people completing their degrees in our department and she has commented they will have to move on while I’m surprised she doesn’t want to keep talented people, perhaps that’s the way she thinks. Truthfully my company doesn’t build leaders from within, especially when it comes to the non-exempt staff. I’ve never seen a place like this. 

    A friend told me to just do the job I’m paid for at this point and maybe start thinking long term for myself. I guess that’s my option for now? Would appreciate any feedback you have. I came out of this feeling very dejected and disappointed. I actually even took the day off today to get away from the place. I guess I need to formulate some kind of plan for myself to move on eventually. Bizarre. Knowing her maybe I need to lower my expectations… Thanks. 

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Wow, it sounds to me like your boss knows that you can do more work for higher pay, but doesn’t have anything like that under her purview, and wants to see you get do the work you’re capable of for better pay. That’s a good thing! Are there positions she’s responsible for filling that would challenge you more and pay you better? Because I didn’t see any mention of that, and so there may not be anything she can do for you other than be supportive of you finding a better fit. And that she is encouraging you to do it internally is a positive indicator; if she didn’t like or value you, and was trying to be sneaky, she’d probably encourage you to leave the company.

    2. Antie*

      You are under-utilized on your current role and you have a manager who has offered to support you if you want a more challenging role in other parts of the company. Maybe her delivery was off, but this is great support from a manager.

      I have employees who have maxed out their career path with us. It is a kindness to let them know that their next step is elsewhere and that I will support them if that’s a choice they make.

    3. NW Mossy*

      One possibility is that this is a very awkward way of saying “I know you’re capable of more, but I don’t have any place I can promote you to and/or can’t give you more money, so I understand and will support you if you want to look elsewhere to advance your career.” A good boss will acknowledge that their area can’t always offer everything an employee might want to grow, and won’t try to clip your wings. I don’t know if that’s the case here, but it seems consistent with what you’ve described.

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        I think NW Mossy has hit the nail on the head here. Managers don’t always know how to say “I know you can do more and you want to do more, and I want that for you too, but I don’t have a way to make it happen.” I’m currently an admin for a government agency. We’re Teapot Makers and the entry-level positions require a degree in some sort of dish making, and mine is in rice sculpture-making. The degree requirements are an accreditation standard which means that there is No Way Around It. Also because we’re in government, manager has no say in my salary either.
        So while she doesn’t want me to move on, she acknowledges that unless I want to do this job for the next 30 years or go back to school, it’s inevitable. Your manager may be in a similar bind, or maybe she has those positions but those people aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

      2. turquoisecow*

        That was my thought, too. She can tell you want to move up, and maybe can see as well as you do the opportunities at your current place, so is wondering if you’re already starting to look elsewhere.

        Kind of an awkward way to do it, but yeah.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It sounds like she was awkwardly trying to show you support. She gave you a great review and a salary bump, and that is all positive. But she also seems to recognize that you want bigger and more challenging things. It really does sound like awkward phrasing to me. A good manager WILL support someone who wants to grow in their career. If there’s nowhere for you to go in your current department or division, then it would be great if she supports you when you decide to look for something more in line with your skills.

      Keeping talented people is great, but good managers want to keep content people. If you told her you were really content with your current role, then that’s one thing and she should back off. But if you told her you have skills you’re not using, then I see this as more of a, “I respect your ambitions” than, “I don’t want you around.”

    5. Collie*

      So, this doesn’t as much help you now, but I think the best way to answer that question is that, while you’re not actively job searching, you like to keep your options open (unless you are actively job searching and you’re in a position where you feel sharing that information won’t hurt you). I’ve used this line in the past and employers in my experience have been pleased that I’ve been honest with them and even more pleased that it means I don’t intend to stagnate in my job. It implies that I’m looking for more challenging work, whether it’s in-company or outside. Plus, for me, it’s just true.

      Maybe the folks in your role previously didn’t stay longer than a year, so they’re trying to prepare for you leaving based on the history of this position.

    6. Lily in NYC*

      It seems to me like she was looking for reassurance that you aren’t leaving because she knows you are capable of more and is worried about losing you. Part of my job is admin and my boss is always paranoid that I’m going to leave because she knows I greatly prefer my non-admin duties, which have been drying up lately. And the goals thing is pretty normal – I don’t even have reviews any more because there’s really nothing more to say on the subject. Most managers are clueless when it comes to career development for admins. My last review three years ago: “just keep doing what you’re doing”.

    7. animaniactoo*

      It sounds like she’s happy to have you in the role, but recognizes it’s basically a dead end. So she’s telling you that she’s not going to sabotage your attempts to find something else and that it would be understandable from her end if you do that. Basically – she’s trying to help you develop up to the next level and give you a free pass to go off and do that without thinking that you’re going to jeopardize the job you currently have. That’s pretty much as great a setup as you can ask for. A good manager does not try to hold talented people – particularly people who are gaining education and training that can help them do and earn more – in a dead-end job just to have them on their staff.

      1. Channel Z*

        I agree with this interpretation, I think she is trying to say that she will be understanding when the time us right to move on but is happy with what you are doing now.

    8. LQ*

      I agree with everyone else that this doesn’t sound like a super weird conversation, maybe a little off on the delivery, but I think you’re looking at this a little backward. She is clearly aware that you are capable of more than you are doing. She’s offering to support you in that. (That’s what great bosses do!) Especially if your company doesn’t build leaders from within, I’d say, yes it’s time to look elsewhere, but you can do it knowing your boss will support you.

      If she’s helping people create learning plans, supporting them in getting that, recognizes that the company she’s with doesn’t promote from within for the kinds of jobs she manages? Then she’s an awesome boss. Encouraging people to move on is sometimes the right move.

      If there is no where for her to promote people to either she doesn’t have the power, those positions aren’t under her control, or the company just as a habit doesn’t do that? Then saying to people, go fly and be free is a good thing to do for them, even if it might not be the best for her.

    9. Tex*

      Maybe this is her attempt at trying to groom people for higher level positions, in which case take the opportunity for looking at another job within the company with her blessing. Long term managers are also judged on the number of people they taken spot.

    10. IvyGirl*

      I think that you really, really need to back off on thinking and stating that your manager “is crazy”. That is hurtful and unhelpful, as well as most likely inaccurate.

      It’s hard to have a good rapport with anyone who is in meetings all day. So – what have you done to bridge that relationship gap? Have you set up more frequent meetings for feedback and observation, or even just to bring her up to speed with what is going on?

      Have you brought any suggestions to improve things to her attention? Surely there are some ways for you to incorporate your “unused” skills into this workplace? Perhaps she is growing wearing of having to spell everything out for you, and is looking for you to display initiative?

      1. The Big L*

        I sense a lot of hostility in what you’re saying and your assumptions on what actions I’ve taken and what is possible in my work place are inaccurate. You also assume I have a lot of control in a culture where the non-exempt staff are treated like second-class citizens and children. If my senior level executive manager doesn’t communicate with me there is little I can do to force her as much as I’ve tried many things to adapt and get the information I need to manage my tasks.

        Hopefully your intention was to be helpful. The woman barely speaks to me – the day she spells everything out for me I’d probably fall out of my chair!

        1. IvyGirl*

          Nope, no hostility here. Just asking questions to get more of a sense of the dynamic in your workplace, much of which isn’t readily apparent in your original post. A manager of over 100 people and the main driver in meetings and workflow most likely will not be able to have much face time with direct reports. Can you see how labeling someone who is responsible for that much as “she’s crazy” is wrong, just because your interactions with her are not to your preference?

          But in looking at your later responses you are acknowledging that she has a lot on her plate and that you’re trying to figure out how you fit into the scheme of things. It’s hard to get a sense of how you’re doing when you get little feedback; I think what you’re looking for is more of it (feedback), and it sounds like you’re going to have to continue to advocate for yourself with her to get that done (being forthcoming with suggestions, scheduling more frequent sit-downs, even for ten minutes), if it’s possible with her workload.

          1. The Big L*

            Thanks for the feedback. It’s a challenge not only with her schedule but she seems annoyed at the fact that her directs, any of them, want time with her. Even in trying to schedule monthly meetings with her team she can be unclear on how often or how much time she wants/needs. I find her style of being unclear constantly has me (as I manage her calendar) doing and undoing and redoing things… When I was new I was worried people would assume I was incompetent but now everyone sees that it’s not me that drives the constant back and forth, they deal with it themselves.

            Being I’m lowest on the totem pole as the only non-exempt direct report (not to belabor that but that’s a big deal where I work) I find it challenging to insert myself. I did at one time set up a one on one, short, touchpoint meeting with her and often times she would blow it off (other meetings would run over or she’d have to schedule something that was priority at the same time). I have grown weary of trying to get time with someone who doesn’t seem to want to work with me. This after over a year of trying anything I can think of to get the information I need to do my job.

            It’s a very different relationship than what I’m used to. I am used to working closely with someone, being the ‘right arm’ and here I’m very much kept at a distance. I’ve worked for managers who have this kind of schedule before, but they would seek me out when they had free time and this isn’t the case here. Even if she needs something she at times will do it herself and often misses a step or gets something wrong. Then I have to clean things up, apologize to others. I have a good relationship with all her directs and I take comfort in the fact that I’m not the only one who works to adapt to her style. While I do have my preferences it’s more about being able to be efficient and effective. When you feel like you spend most your time feeling around in the dark due to lack of information, undoing work and wasting time and generally feeling adrift in your role it’s a challenge to even go to work every day.

            When we use ‘crazy’ by the way we are doing it in a very light hearted, playful way, we generally say “they crazy”, kind of dismissing the challenges and laughing about all the disjointedness of our workplace. It’s not meant to be hurtful or even directed at one person and some of us readily admit “and I’m crazy too” or “but hey I”m grateful” as there are a lot of good things about where we work that we try to take into account. When my coworker said it to me relating to the comments during my review I assume it was because she had nothing else to say – the review was good but the first thing she says is ‘are you looking for a job’… I wouldn’t know what to say either. But I do get your point. I actually had someone seriously ask me recently, from another department, if my manager does have any kind of mental illness that I’m aware of (just based on the behavior they witnessed) and I honestly had never considered it.

            Thanks again for your comments.

    11. TL -*

      ” I do know we have people completing their degrees in our department and she has commented they will have to move on while I’m surprised she doesn’t want to keep talented people, perhaps that’s the way she thinks.”

      It sounds like your boss is invested in her people growing in their careers and understands that people are going to work in a role until they have the skillset to move on to a better-paying, more challenging role and is actively encouraging of that. That’s a good thing. If she doesn’t think she can pay someone what they’re worth, or if she thinks they can handle higher level work than she can give them, it’s good management to let them know they’d be able to do and earn more elsewhere and mention she wants to be supportive of that.

      Maybe her delivery was really awkward (and maybe you’re really happy with your job and you don’t want a different position; that’s fine!) but she sounds supportive and realistic. She’s not trying to hold anyone back or keep anyone in a position they can no longer grow in.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Agreeing with everyone else who said bad delivery but really good message.

      Some bosses see their department as a stepping stone. People are just passing through on their way to having a career. This is a difficult way to work because it means as a boss you are constantly thinking about training. It sounds like she has reached a point where she thinks that everyone will stay for a bit then leave. It’s sad because you never build long term work relationships with people as there is always that new person. This could help explain some of her flightiness.

      She is in your corner, that is my read. I am thinking she feels very limited in how she can help you grow your career. I go back to your first three paragraphs here. I think that is everything you need to focus on in those three paragraphs. She will support you if you want to move but for her personally, she does not want you to leave.

      This could be sad from your perspective because maybe you like your boss/cohorts/setting and had not seriously considered moving on. So it can be jarring to realize, “hey, I may have to move on.”

      Overall you are in a good spot, your boss likes you and you are doing a good job. Take your time, be selective and start figuring out what is next for you.

    13. Koko*

      It sounds like your manager values you and is quite afraid of losing you because she knows you’re underutilized, and is trying to figure out what you need from her in order for her to have a shot at keeping you/whether she should realistically be expecting to have to replace you soon if you move to greener pastures.

    14. The Big L*

      I want to thank everyone who took the time to comment. I was very confused and upset but I can see how this was more positive than I originally thought.

      My manager IS a senior executive who has a department of over 100 people, third in command at our company. I guess my perspective is that there could be a place to move into, in time, but she doesn’t seem to share that view. I have tried to offer my skills to others but they seem concerned that our manager would not like that. She has made it clear to them and me that they need to know how to do things. At times they will give me more grunt work which isn’t what I want but I help others as much as I can. I’m also quite busy in my current role as it stands now, the work isn’t interesting or challenging but the volume is consistently high.

      My manager seems to want to be sure that I’ll continue to do my role well. It’s good to know she is supportive, rapport is a challenge when she keeps herself so busy (she is the driver of all the meetings where we are, much more than people like). I do get tired of making an effort, I often feel like I’m working in the dark without all the information i need to do my job but if I don’t make an effort the day can go by when we only communicate by email (and I sit outside her office). If I catch her in the hallway I have to email, she does sometimes forget what she had said.

      Anywho, appreciate the comments as I let all this sit and I try and work out what’s next for me.

  6. Venting Anon*

    Bit of a venting post: Does anyone else get really annoyed that no one at their job acknowledges them until something goes wrong?

    I process paperwork needed to create checks for our vendors. I have dozens of new payment requests coming in every day that all require verifying, documenting, processing, waiting for other departments to approve the request, receiving the check, updating everything for the check’s arrival, and then mailing that out. The holidays slow everything in the process down as people needed for these steps are out on vacation, myself included, so January is a big catch up month. I thought I’d finally caught up on the backlog but low and behold, one or two requests slipped through the cracks.

    Now I have several people questioning the hold up and berating me. I acknowledged my mistake and am doing everything in my power to expedite the process but still others are mad. I know I messed up but all I want to do is yell at them that I’m only human, doing the best I can, and would they like to see the hundreds of requests that I did process correctly so I’m sorry my track record has a 1-2% negative rating?

    I’m a fairly self-sufficient well-oiled machine that no one questions as long as the hundreds of payments are going out as needed. But just one goes astray and you’d think I was just setting every request on fire and getting nothing accomplished.

    Anyone else have this trouble? One or two mistakes turns everyone against you and no one cares about all the times you’ve done it right?

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      This may not be what you want to hear, and I get in trouble for this with my wife when she just wants to vent and I get all constructive….but…..honestly?

      “All the times you’ve done it right” is the expectation. It’s nice when a really good record of accuracy gets praised or called out, and bosses and colleagues should do that, but doing it right is typically a baseline expectation for the job. And the few that didn’t get done didn’t slip through the cracks – that was on you, and it was your mistake.

      They shouldn’t be hammering you, but a mistake is a mistake.

      1. Isben Takes Tea*

        Venting Anon isn’t asking for the mistakes to be ignored, they’re asking for good/hard work to be acknowledged. Of course it’s the expectation/baseline for the job, but that doesn’t mean it’s unreasonable to want validating/appreciation for it. When I thank the mailroom clerk for mailing my package, it’s not because I think they’re doing me a favor, it’s because I want them to know I value their contribution, even if it’s what’s expected.

        I’d go beyond saying it’s “nice” when people do that to it’s valuable, constructive, and, in fact, “baseline standard” expected behavior for team members (as colleagues are) to appreciate each other’s good performance.

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          I acknowledged that it’s nice and valuable to be validated. But Venting Anon is also minimizing the fact that they made mistakes by overlooking invoices, and angry that those directly affected are annoyed with them. I think it’s possible to want and ask for more validation, while taking your lumps when you make mistakes.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            Venting Anon is venting anonymously. Let’s take him at his word that he has addressed the mistakes at work already and hasn’t minimized them at work. It’s Friday, let’s cut him some slack.

      2. Phooey*

        Does Venting Anon insinuate that the missed payments were not their mistake? I am not seeing that. Venting Anon acknowledged the mistakes and vowed to expedite the requests. It is frustrating to have a very high accuracy rate but still receive a bollocking when a tiny percentage of errors surface.

        Humans have an error rate, no matter how good they are at their jobs. As your volume increases, so typically does your error rate. I think the view that 100% accuracy/”doing it right” is a baseline expectation in employment is pretty unrealistic. I know the next post will contain the words “air traffic control” or “brain surgery” but this is vendor payments – no one dies if they are delayed.

        More broadly, I think that this view – you should be doing your job right at all times and should expect criticism if you slip up – is really detrimental to honest communication in a workplace. I further believe this is a potentially dangerous work culture to create, where people feel compelled to blame shift or lie because the expectation is that they will never make a mistake. I have worked at places like this and they are incredibly toxic.

        I am currently on the other end of this scenario (requesting follow up on payments that have not been made). There is absolutely nothing to be gained from berating or even reprimanding (if they are generally quite accurate) the person who made the mistake, and I do think it’s important to acknowledge the person’s workload and their typical record of accuracy in these situations. It feels terrible to make a mistake, most people feel awful already, and I find it better for all to be sympathetic rather than critical. When I say better, I mean that people who don’t fear reprisal will admit mistakes more readily and will be quicker to rectify them, and our work relationship is maintained or strengthened. I want to stress that I am talking about working with high performers such as Venting Anon appears to be, not problem employees.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      That’s really frustrating, but I think it’s just human nature. People are quick to complain, but rarely take the time to thank you when everything is running smoothly. I think the only thing you can do is give your boss a heads-up so s/he isn’t caught off guard if someone starts complaining. Say something like, “I thought I’d gotten through all the check requests that had backed up over the holidays, but then found I missed a couple from Prunella and Algernon. I’m getting them processed as quickly as I can. They’ve been grumbling about it, so I wanted to let you know what’s going on in case you hear something about it.” Hopefully your boss is a reasonable person and will support you.

    3. Lovemyjob...Truly!!!*

      Yes. I work in a medical related field and am in charge of processing insurance changes. January 1st is all about insurance changes! I am literally one person processing changes for nearly 150 people. The process is not smooth as calls need to be made to the insurance company to verify benefits, and each insurance company has it’s own sets of rules for prior authorizations and referrals that need to be obtained before we can continue servicing the patient which gums up the process even more. I am constantly being bombarded with calls and requests for high-priority patients in the meantime. Yesterday a co-worker in a different department scolded me for not getting things done faster. I was so angry!!! I am doing all that I can but I am still one person doing the job of about 6 people right now.

    4. Collie*

      I ran into this a lot early in my position, too. If you’re the kind of person who needs verbal acknowledgment that you’re doing well/doing your job to expectations, I think it’s okay to bring that up with your manager (and there’s nothing wrong with that). Something like, “I’ve noticed I really only get feedback when I make mistakes. It’s helpful for me to also hear when I’m doing especially well so I have a benchmark for both ends and can improve both on mistakes and places where I’m just okay,” might work for you.

    5. Anon for this b/c of work details*

      Oh, yes! All the time. I think it’s really common and I’ve learned not to take it personally. I’m a sales rep at a printing company, and at the end of the day, I’m responsible for the success or failure of all my projects. When a project goes well, my clients will sometimes write me a thank you note (and it always makes my day)… but sometimes (maybe even the majority of the time!) I don’t hear a peep from them. (We just completed a book for an artist’s exhibition, and while I thought it turned out great, it delivered ahead of schedule, etc., I never heard a woed about it from my client.)

      However, if something goes wrong, you can be sure I will hear about it every time. Sometimes in no uncertain terms.

      If I expected or felt I “deserved” thanks or even acknowledgement from every client when I do my job well, I’d get pretty bummed out pretty quickly. I just tell myself I’m sure they were happy with their book & they were probably super busy setting up their exhibition, so thanking me was the last thing on their minds. Sometimes I hear how happy such a client was with our product much later, from someone they refer to me (this happened to me just the other day).

      Another way of thinking about this is… they expect great service and quality from me. That’s the baseline. It’s not something worth heaping praise on me for, because that’s what they’re paying for! They’re not paying for mistakes or delays, so when those things happen, of course we’re going to hear about it.

      Bottom line is, I think this is very common, and if you can train yourself not to take it personally, try and imagine where your clients might be coming from, etc., you’ll be much happier overall.

    6. Anon Admin*

      I’ve never had anyone turn on me, but I do understand your frustration. Unfortunately, I think those of us who work in clerical/admin/accounting type jobs are basically unnoticed until something goes “wrong”and people do not realize how many steps/approvals/etc. can go into processing a request. As long as we stay in our little corner and keep things running smoothly and those checks going out nobody bothers you. Lucifer did not receive his check on time because he did not sign off/approve his time and suddenly he won’t get out of your corner and he won’t quit calling.

      The only thing I can offer is when someone gets snippy with you to maybe say ” I admitted I made a mistake and I’m doing my best to get rectified. Unless you have something constructive to add, I’d rather not continue to argue about this. Arguing is not going to speed up the process. Thank you for understanding”. Then change the subject or refuse to continue to conversation because if there is a perfect person out there that has never made a mistake, I’d love to meet them.

    7. Rat in the Sugar*

      Doing anything with Accounting is like doing the housework–no one notices unless it’s not done. It’s aggravating but that’s the way it is.

      1. Lord of the Ringbinders*

        I volunteered for a charity with a lovely director who would remind us to do stuff like thank the admins for sorting things.

    8. Fawesome*

      “Does anyone else get really annoyed that no one at their job acknowledges them until something goes wrong? ”

      Identifying so hard with several statements.
      I’m sorry that your work hasn’t been acknowledge up until now and in a less than favorable light.

    9. DevAssist*

      I absolutely understand how you feel! You are only human, but criticism is always louder than praise. Try not to let it get to you, and if you can, maybe institute a new way of reminding yourself of pending tasks?

      I hope your day gets better!

    10. Bad Candidate*

      Yep. I go through this a lot. Most people are appreciative and recognize that sometimes mistakes happen when they do. But now and then something will get messed up and someone will be upset. I get that they are upset, don’t blame them. It’s when they go on and on about it that ticks me off, really. And then their future requests get sent to the bottom of the pile. I normally respond to stuff pretty fast, within an hour, but I don’t have to even acknowledge it exists for 24 hours, and there’s no set turn around time once I do acknowledge it. So, yeah, bottom of the pile.

    11. Gadget Hackwrench*

      It’s weird… I work in a field where this is the status quo (No one notices when IT is doing it right…. but when something breaks, blame EVERYTHING on IT, even if you’re the one who broke it…) but as a result the direct managers of most good IT teams are super calm and reasonable when they come to us with something we actually DID break. It’s almost paradoxical.

      Do you have the kind of job where anyone’s tabulating your stats? i.e. are they following how many forms you process per hour, accuracy rating etc? If so, pointing to past records of high-scores may help ease them up off your back.

      1. Gadget Hackwrench*

        HALP. I put my email address in for this one thinking it would only email me for replies to this comment… but it’s flooding my inbox with every reply to the whole open thread!

        1. Gadget Hackwrench*

          Nevermind. Brain fart moment. I forgot to check the mails themselves for an unsubscribe. I got this. It’s all good.

        2. Blueismyfavorite*

          Yeah, I did the same thing once. I wish there was a way to just get notified if someone replies to you.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      I am sad to say but I believe this is the world we have. Part of the problem is that things are speeding up, everything is just going faster and faster. People need stuff done yesterday, it’s no longer a want, it’s a need.

      So yes, we get noticed when we screw up and that feels like it’s the only time we get noticed.

      There is several things you can do.
      Decide to take more notice of when you do get compliments. What does that look like, think about this. Ever have some info pulled together quickly and you hand it to a cohort who needs it then they flash a big victory smile? That’s your compliment, spend a second savoring that big victory grin. (Yippee, I nailed that one!)

      The other thing you can do is make it a point to compliment other people when they are knocking out their work they way they are supposed to. It’s funny/odd but when we give more of what we want ourselves we seem to get more of what we want.

      I had a new person come to work in my department. He replaced someone else. I just went about what I usually do, setting up X for this person. I did it a few times and I noticed that the new person was asking questions of me. Pretty soon, he had gathered enough information that he was able to take X down when he was done. His predecessor always left tear down for me. Then I realized, New Person was not going to say “thanks” every time I set up for him, he was going to SHOW “thanks”. yeah. I am wowed.

      Thanks/appreciation can have many different costumes. My boss and I put papers in a particular order because we know what the other person appreciates. It’s a little thing, until you factor in we handle reams and reams of printed information.

      Last, for your own well being, try, try, try to reframe what is going on around you. Look a little deeper and see what you see. If we deal with stuff on the surface only we can end up feeling pretty defeated.

      I am not addressing your two mistakes here, because this is not about the two mistake I think. Had the two mistakes not happened you would still feel under appreciated, I sensed. So I thought I would answer that part.

    13. turquoisecow*

      All the time. It’s human nature to notice the negatives and ignore the positives. You can be darn good at your job 364 days out of the year, but the one time you’re late, or make a mistake, or have a typo, or get in an argument, or leave early, or whatever else, people will notice.

      My old job was like that. They’d notice I came in late, but didn’t notice I stayed late. They’d notice I left early, but didn’t notice I worked through lunch. So then someone would talk to me about it. My boss even said that it’s not about what you do, but how it appears to others. So if I did way better work and was done faster than all my coworkers, giving me time to take a break, it didn’t matter – all they saw was that my butt wasn’t in my seat when everyone else’s was.

    14. Raia*

      I’m trying to turn the under-appreciating culture around at my work by actively appreciating other people for their hard work. We were all feeling crummy and blue and I figured I may not be management but I can still do something to show I care about people and their strong work ethic.

    15. Koko*

      Very few people are patient or understanding when it comes to their money. If you look at it from their perspective, they aren’t evaluating you on doing your whole job, they are evaluating oyu on their interaction with you. They don’t actually care if you do 99.5% of the invoices correctly, they only care that you didn’t do theirs specifically, because they’re the ones who maybe can’t pay a bill on time because of a delay in their payment.

      I very nearly couldn’t close on my home purchase a couple of years ago because my HR department caused so many delays that my 401k disbursement didn’t arrive in my checking account until the morning I was closing when it should have arrived weeks before that. It didn’t make any difference to me if I was the only person they had ever caused problem for like that. The bottom line was that they almost screwed up the biggest and most complicated/stressful purchase I will ever make in my life. It would not comfort me one way or another to hear I was the only person they’d ever messed up with.

  7. bassclefchick*

    There’s a special place in Hell for employers who require a resume AND an application. Sigh. On the plus side, I do have a phone interview next week. We’ll see how that goes.

    So – what are your job hunting pet peeves? I would also add requiring a college degree for a job that clearly doesn’t require one.

        1. not my usual alias*

          I worked with someone who was convinced our new hire didn’t graduate from high school because it wasn’t listed on his resume. First, what a stupid thing to assume about someone who has a master’s degree. Second, who cares – if he has a master’s degree, he probably knows everything he needed to know to get through high school!

              1. Not Karen*

                No, I don’t. I went to an early college for undergrad that takes students before they complete high school.

        2. Cheshire Cat*

          I had a friend as a teenager who dropped out of 10th grade to start college early. The high school office told him that they’d give him a diploma when he graduated from college. We laughed about it, because who would care if you had a h.s. diploma when you have a college degree? It still seems silly to me, all these years later.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        Especially when they have “major/area of study” and “degree obtained” as required fields for every educational institution. I really hate that because I have no idea what to fill in for receiving a high school diploma (which of course is NOT one of the choices if they have a drop down menu).

      2. Anxa*

        My favorite is when there’s a field that asks how may credits you took, but it was a non-credit program. But they asked for ALL education and it’s relevant to your application.
        I put 0 in last time. And when there’s no options for certificate in the drop down, so you have to put something like “graduate” which isn’t really true.

      3. Kj*

        I once had to go back 10 years in work history/education, with dates and the address and phone of all my schools and jobs. The problem? I was 23. 10 year before, I’d been in middle school. So I had to find my middle school’s address for the job.

      4. L*

        Ha, I can beat that! I’ve been applying for jobs in Japan and the traditional Japanese resume requires your educational history…from ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.

        1. Fushi*

          Augh, the Japanese resume format drives me nuts! So much information, yet barely anything useful for figuring out whether the person can do the job.

    1. Murphy*

      Definitely that. Uploading a resume and having to type everything into an application. Applications with required fields that you must fill in, and then validated (i.e. a “required salary” section that requires a number). Asking for your supervisor and contact information and the street address for every single job that you enter.

      *shudder* Getting flashbacks now.

      1. Workaholic*

        At a one on one meeting with my boss i was freaking out because i was used to being a top performer but my new position is more difficult to track and I’ve never been given a baseline metric goal (I’ve asked many times). He said I’m doing fine and if i wasn’t he’d let me know. essentially: no news is good news. But it makes any negatives stand ot like crazy.

    2. Contented Grad*

      – Applications that try to parse your resume and then completely butcher it, forcing you to do more work correcting the problems the parser created than just filling out the blank rows in the first place.
      – Forms that don’t save your responses, and DOYC forbid you refresh the page or press the “back” button, lest you lose all your work!
      – Skeezy “job” sites that result in scammy phone calls and emails. I’m including multi-level marketing in this one.

      1. EW*

        I’m typically pretty impressed with the auto parsing technology for most job applications. I wonder if your resume is set up in a non standard way or with formatting the software doesn’t recognize. You can use a differently formatted resume for auto parsing reasons.

        1. Contented Grad*

          For most people, it probably works great. If someone works (or has worked) for a university, though, the parser seems to have a tough time distinguishing the “education” and “experience” sections of their resume.

        2. Liane*

          I have a very standard resume: name & contact info; jobs and duties tailored to the opening; education. However I have run into this once or twice.

    3. Application Development Manager*

      I hate , Hate, HATE the bottomless pile your resume ends up in, in most employers career sections.

      Second biggest peeve….LinkedIn recruiters that reach out to you multiple times regarding a role or requisition. Then as soon as you show interest and ship off your resume to them, SILENCE!

      Third biggest peeve… have a great phone/in-person interview. You are told you’ll definitely hear back early next week. SILENCE. At least don’t be dishonest to the interviewees.

        1. Application Development Manager*

          I lifted the following directly off LinkedIn site :) In addition to all the below mentioned, I also have a short, bulleted list of my job responsibilities and accomplishments for each of the jobs I’ve held in the last decade.

          -Choose “Make my public profile visible to everyone” in your public profile settings.
          -Invite and connect with at least 1 connection.
          -Supplement your profile with additional sections and information.
          -Update your profile regularly to keep it current.

          1. RavensandOwls*

            Huh. Is it industry dependent, do you think? I do most of that already, making me think it almost certainly is based on what kind of field you’re in.

            1. Application Development Manager*

              Probably. My guess is it also depends on how many people you are connected to and if “their” connections are able to view your profile.

              Job searching is a crapshoot anyways.

            2. Zombeyonce*

              You can also find a recruiter for your field and add them. I think that some recruiters keep an eye on other recruiters’ new connections. I find that when a recruiter connects with me on LinkedIn, suddenly I get a few requests for connections from other recruiters.

    4. RavensandOwls*

      That really grinds my gears, too… why even bother?

      The thing that’s getting me is the extra above and beyond of, “Submit letters of recommendations” on TOP of your cover letter, resume, and references. I’m not applying for college, here, and it just seems like so much extra work.

      (Also, the perennial not contacting thing. That’s more frustrating than anything else…)

    5. checkin in*

      My pet peeve is when they want you to fill in the application but the boxes where you describe what you do (you know how employers used to use RESUMES for that??? those were the days!) has a very short character length. I cannot describe my current work in 500 characters and still sound impressive.

    6. EW*

      Making every field required. And the fact that I can’t just have ONE brass ring (insert any other popular application system) login and saved profile to use with multiple companies.

      1. justsomeone*

        Seriously this. If you’re all using brassring or taleo, why can’t brassring or taleo just have a central place for my resume?

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Or making supervisor info required. At least two of my past jobs, the supervisor is no longer there and I have no contact info for anyone. That’s not my problem, people–I’m not there anymore!

        1. Bad Candidate*

          Right. You want my supervisor for a job I had for 8 months in 1997? Um, I think his name was Mike???

        2. RavensandOwls*

          This brings up a question I’ve had – what if they’re no longer there but you DO have their info?

          Many apps ask for direct supervisor at those jobs and I put her name down, but I guarantee that whoever picks up the phone doesn’t know her from Adam, and I’m afraid they’ll hand the call to my former principal (with whom I DID NOT get along and who has already screwed me out of a job, not even as a reference, by calling and leaving me a bad employee review. Despite my teaching reviews being excellent.)

          1. snicker*

            I have 3 previous positions where the company no longer exists & CEO/Manager/whomever would be my reference is deceased…

            1. Workaholic*

              Me too! Of 9 places I’ve worked: 7 no longer exist. Though the two still in existence were/are my favorite jobs.

        3. Drew*

          They’re going to have an even tougher time with one of my old companies (job ended when the company folded and all the employees scattered to the four winds) and one of my old bosses (unless their seance game is really strong).

        4. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

          Yes! And then they require 3-5 references on top of that.
          I have a few stints of temping on my resume, where I’ve gone on multiple assignments through the same agency. I don’t even know who I’d list! My rep at the agency? The supervisor at my most recent assignment? The supervisor at my longest assignment?

      1. JustaTech*

        I love that I have really good answers for those: “contract ended” “lab closed”. In other words, not my fault!
        It helps make up for not knowing the address of the one place that has since closed (or the name of my manager).

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I had a friend whose last three jobs closed, went out of business. He was convinced that prospective employers read that as a curse and avoided him. He finally did get a job though.

      2. bassclefchick*

        Yup, because as soon as you answer honestly (I was fired, I didn’t fit in with the culture, whatever), you automatically go into the “no” pile.

      3. Delta Delta*

        It would be nice to say “it was a toxic stew of dysfunction and I cried in the car every day on the easy home” but that might be a turn off to new employees. :)

    7. Volunteer Coordinator in NoVA*

      I think my biggest when I was job searching was when the job description/posting said one thing and then you’d get in an interview and the position would be different or so much more than originally mentioned. I feel like this happens when someone else writes the description verse who interviews for it but I feel like this happened at least 3 or 4 times when I was interviewing for my current potions.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That exact thing happened to me this week. A recruiter with the smoothest voice I’ve ever heard outside professional radio called me and after our conversation, he scheduled me for a call later that same day with the hiring manager.

        When she called, she said someone had written the job description while she was on vacation and it was NOTHING like the actual job. They made it sound very document-oriented (which was why I applied, and why DJ Recruiter thought I’d be a great fit. Instead, it was a general admin cross-trained to back up other admins and the receptionist, very little doc work, and MAYBE some typing. :P She said that given my experience, she didn’t think I would be happy there. Read: You’re way overqualified and I don’t want to hire you because you’ll bail.

        Yesterday, I saw the listing again and the job details were completely different. So at least someone fixed it!

        1. Volunteer Coordinator in NoVA*

          At least they fixed it but totally a bummer for you! Good you figured it out early though as getting to an interview and having it change there is super awkward.

      2. voluptuousfire*

        Yep. Hated this so much.

        My biggest pet peeve were recruitment coordinator roles that would have “Recruitment Coordinator” as the title of the ad, but when you read the body of the ad it says “The recruiter will…” and it’s all the higher level recruiter stuff. Granted RC roles can either be generally administrative or a recruiter in training, but it was disheartening to see it billed as something it really wasn’t. It’s confusing and a bit misleading. It’s not precisely the same thing!

      3. Ama*

        This happened a lot at the university I used to work at because HR made it so hard to update job descriptions. Any tiny little change to the previous description had to be approved — ostensibly this was so they could make sure people weren’t trying to sneak manager level work into entry level positions and vice versa but the process took months, usually while the position was sitting empty. So a lot of people would just use the job description they’d had the last time the position was open since that was already approved — even though it was often not an accurate depiction of the position as described. (Somehow *that* didn’t seem to bother HR, though.)

    8. Manders*

      My biggest pet peeve is being told about an interview on short notice, without being offered any control over when your slot will be. You *know* I have a job. You can see *right there on the resume I just sent you* that I work full time. Would you really be ok with your own employees leaving at random times during the day with such short notice?

      Not having a quiet place to do a phone interview anywhere near my office is also my job hunting pet peeve, but it’s not the prospective employer’s fault.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Urgh, yes, I agree with that.

        And our office does not have many spare meeting rooms/offices, so most people end up using corridors or the stairwell for calls.

      2. Pineapple Incident*

        I had a group at the last company I worked for schedule last-minute interviews with me 3 of the 4 times I met with them. I was desperate for a new job, so I made myself look as good as I could to walk downstairs from my clinical area to their office. Clothes couldn’t be too nice at ExJob, because I never knew when I’d have to clean equipment with bleach or something, so that was probably a mark against me each time.

    9. Ann Furthermore*

      Recruiters who hound and badger you to come into their office for an interview, and spend the entire time gushing over how impressive your resume is, and then never lining up any interviews for you. And then only reach out to you asking if you know of someone who would be interested in a job they’re trying to fill.

      1. Karanda Baywood*

        Oh yes. This happened often when I was searching.

        They’re all enthused over you and then radio silence until 8 months later when you’re already in your new job…

      2. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        I had this happen with a corporate recruiter. I know she can’t help it if the hiring manager didn’t want to bring me in, but I had an AMAZING phone interview with her. She flat out stated she was putting me through to the next round and would let me know as soon as she confirmed the hiring managers schedule. Also, she said I’d be a great fit for two of the roles they had open so she was going to get with the hiring manager for the other role too. And then nothing. So frustrating!

    10. checkin in*

      Another one! Employers who expect you to start immediately after a job is offered. I lost out on a contract job in the new city I’m moving to because I told my current boss that I would guarantee 2 weeks notice (and I NEED her as a reference) and they said that I would need to start the following Monday. It took them 4 weeks to make a decision… Such BS

    11. Tempest*

      I did one that required the resume and the application, both of which were acceptable to them when I applied. They then asked me to do a video interview where I’d have been talking to a webcam recording me for later review. It would ask you a question, give you 30 seconds to think about it and then start recording. No thank you. People who hate being filmed/photographed (IE me) will find that so nerve wracking it’s doubtful you’d get a true picture of who they were anyway. I self selected out of the application process due to the video component. Plus, it didn’t work on phones and when I get home from a long hard day the last thing I want to do is find somewhere in my house to sit down with a web cam in my suit and talk at it. Maybe that means the job wasn’t ever going to be for me!

    12. Penny*

      Job apps that say ‘What date can you start?” and force you to pick a date from the digital calendar. I just need to be able to give CurrentJob two weeks notice and I’m good to go! I can’t give you a specific date!

      1. Zombeyonce*

        Sometimes it seems like the people that created job application software have never actually had jobs. So many problems with it that seem like common sense to fix.

      2. Pineapple Incident*

        Ugh yes! Had an application where I arbitrarily put down a date 6 weeks in the future- when I was interviewing with them over a month later they asked if that date was still legit, and obviously you can’t say anything other than “well like any other sane, honorable human worker I need to give my current employer whose reference you want 2 weeks notice…”

    13. Freya UK*

      Yes – both of these! Particularly the latter – I see them all the time, jobs I could do with my eyes closed (and my CV would attest to that), but I wouldn’t get a look-in because I didn’t go to university. Their loss!

      I suppose things work a little differently here, but desperate recruiters pitching completely unsuitable jobs to you drive me up the wall! The last time I was job-hunting I made it clear that one of the reasons I left my last job was the commute, as I don’t drive, and specified the length of commute I wouldn’t exceed and areas I could easily reach (this included the city centre) – yet one of the recruiters I was dealing with kept contacting me about jobs in completely unsuitable areas (such as in the middle of nowhere, off a motorway on the opposite side of the city). Eventually I just stopped responding after my umpteenth email back reiterating the unsuitability and why…

      1. voluptuousfire*

        I’d get random emails from recruiters for jobs in Iowa for roles I had NO experience in. The recruiter did a search for a keyword and I got pulled into there. I’m in NYC, not Iowa nor do I have 3 years in Salesforce development. (I had general Salesforce experience as a user)

        Also calls from recruiters who were not in the NYC Tri-State area and wanted me to consider roles that were 40+ miles one way. Going from where I live to somewhere in Northern New Jersey or even Westchester County is 90 minutes one way, no traffic. Traveling 100+ miles roundtrip every day would not make any sense.

        1. Lady Bug*

          I live on Long Island and we always get Connecticut ones. Um, Stamford is like a 3 hour drive unless you build me that bridge.

    14. lady incredulous*

      Finding out that a company in your industry generally starts everyone out at entry level regardless of experience.


    15. Trout 'Waver*

      Applicant tracking systems that auto-send tacky rejection notices when the posting closes. Has anyone even looked at my application packet? How can anyone even know? It feels like something out of Kafka.

    16. PhillyPretzel*

      Ditto to requiring an application along with your resume. I’d also add applications that require you to include EVERY job you’ve had in the past 10 years. I’m fine with disclosing that stuff, but it takes me forever to fill out.

      Also, requiring salary histories. It’s irrelevant and intrusive.

      1. Ms. Anne Thrope*

        Not just salary history, but *starting* as well as ending salaries! What possible relevance could that have?!? Especially since I started this job in 1999.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          While I’m definitely not defending it — salary history is not my future employer’s business — I think some of the reasoning behind the starting and ending salary requests is to see if you’ve grown in a position, though it really only tells them if someone was valued in a position based on salary increases. But it gets really messy if you’ve been somewhere a long time with a role that evolved even if a title or salary didn’t.

          1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

            Oh, I hate these. What’s worse is when you work for a company that not only is very stingy with the raises (it was an open secret that the only way to get any kind of raise in some departments was to get promoted), but also cuts everyone’s pay for the last few months of the year! I kind of understand why they did it (a certain percentage cut for everyone so they didn’t have to lay off anyone), but I can only imagine what a hiring manager might think when they see my ending salary is slightly lower than my starting salary at that company!

        2. Anxa*

          And those that require hourly or annual. I tossed my paystubs from previous like a god darn fool! And my tax returns aren’t reliable because I had more than one job. And my contract for jobs was by academic calendar, not annual, so even if I have the old w2s it seems off.

          I know my WEEKLY salaries, but not annual. And I can’t just multiply by 52 because of breaks, etc.

          Seriously, instead of working on grooming soft skills and technical skills, I wish someone had taken me aside when I was 16 and said “make sure you keep a record of your start date, end date, salary, how to spell your supervisors names.”

      2. Liane*

        I run into trouble with systems that won’t accept salary information I give them–because I need a job & it is required-because it doesn’t fit what the software thinks a wage/salary looks like. My editing/writing gig is a pair of set monthly stipends and previously was a per article basis plus the editing stipend. A few systems will accept something like “Variable” or “Per project” but some only want a dollar amount, and won’t accept an entry below $X per year. I just put in the minimum it accepts and am so tempted to put for every one of my jobs what I want my new one to pay.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          If you run into that problem again, you might consider figuring out what your hourly salary would be if it were a regular, full-time job.

          If they want an hourly rate:
          -For the monthly stipend, multiply that by 12 months and then divide by 2080 (work hours in a year for 40-hour weeks).
          -For the per-article+editing it’s more complicated, but you could do something like figure out how many articles you produced per week/month and how many hours you put in to produce that, then multiply that into a monthly amount, add the editing stipend, and then multiply that by 12 months and then divide by 2080

          They won’t be totally right, but they’d get you pretty close and be more accurate than just guessing or putting down a minimum amount.

    17. Beautiful Loser*

      #1 pet peeve are the “recruiters” who call where English is not their first language and they are so hard to understand it makes me wonder if they ever placy anyone.

      #2 are the ones that email for a job you are not even remotely qualified for. Did you bother to even read my resume?

      1. Mimmy*

        #1 – A big, fat YES!!! The onboarding specialist from the temp agency handling my contract job has a very thick accent, and I could not understand him for the life of me. Thank goodness this was a pre-arranged job (the director of the state agency approached me to take on this project, but they’re using a temp agency my State uses for its contract employees to process payroll). Here’s hoping the Employee Relations staff are easier to understand!

      2. AnonAnalyst*

        #2 – I find these both frustrating and hilarious, depending on how off the mark they are. I have gotten some truly bizarre ones before for jobs that have nothing to do with anything I’ve ever done before and are not located anywhere near where I live. I am always so, so curious to know how they even found my info when doing a search for that particular job.

    18. Bad Candidate*

      – Recruiters who see ONE term on your resume and think that means you’re qualified for everything related to it, regardless of what’s actually on your resume. “Oh you know CHOCOLATE SWIRL teapots? Well you must know everything about chocolate swirl semi trucks too! I have this great opening…”

      – Recruiters who think you’re the bees knees, have this great opening for you, that totally lines up with your experience and desires, want you to come in to meet with them and when you do you find out that the job they talked about on the phone is no longer available but would you be interested in this other job? It’s a receptionist job paying $8/hour in an office that requires you to wear a suit every day, has no benefits, and still permits smoking in the office.

      – Asking for my SSN right off the bat. No.

      – Requiring personality inventories and other assessments that have nothing to do with the actual job and take an hour or more.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        “It’s a receptionist job paying $8/hour in an office that requires you to wear a suit every day, has no benefits, and still permits smoking in the office.”

        This made me lol, until I realized that this job probably exists somewhere.

      2. Not Karen*

        My mother does that first one. I once did data entry for a cardiology study. Apparently that means I should be an expert in cardiology now.

        1. Bad Candidate*

          Yes. This is exactly the problem. I changed the wording. The way we use this term and the “standard” use of the term are similar but not similar enough for me to be remotely qualified in the use of the standard method.

    19. SCORM Hacker*

      Requiring a college GPA when I have 20+ years of industry experience (and tossing out my application when I decided to leave it blank!)

    20. Mimmy*

      I think the application is meant to document your full work and educational history–I believe it is a legal document. The resume is the “marketing tool”. But yeah – I hear ya on that, especially when there is nothing in a menu of choices that match well with your specific answer.

      Another pet peeve: When a job announcement states a drivers license requirement without a clear reason. I can’t drive due to my eyesight, and I’ve passed up on otherwise good opportunities because of the requirement. Although I do wonder if part of it is merely to ensure you have proper identification.

      Reference checks is another pet peeve. I kinda wish that you would be told the nature of the reference requests so that you can tell your references what to expect–a phone call, a form to fill out, etc.

      1. Teapot librarian*

        I HATE the drivers license requirement. No, you don’t need to be able to drive to be a [insert my actual job here]. Sometimes you might benefit from driving somewhere. But it is 100% not an essential part of the job. It is completely accommodate-able. Therefore, it should not be a job requirement for every job in my field. (Some support roles in the field do require it. But certainly not all, and it’s in 98% of the job descriptions anyway.)

      2. Sas*

        I’m sitting over here without a job, and this almost made me cry. Do you think that you could use an Id (one that you could get without it being for driving)? Have you worked with a career counselor or Vocational Rehabilitation before that could help you figure this out?

        My peeves about this subject: 2) The things that others have listed above. All of them had happen to me before. 1) People that could change all of these things and do not. I think somewhere in my rantings, I have addressed my disdain for most of these things.

        1. Mimmy*

          Aww don’t cry! :) I have a non-drivers ID. It looks like a driver’s license but states that it’s for identification only.

      3. bassclefchick*

        YES to the driver’s license! I DO have one, but I don’t own a car. The job I applied to asked if I had a valid license, a car, and proper insurance. Um, really? For a receptionist job? And you only have 1 location in town? I had to mark that question as “no”, so I’m sure I’ll get tossed out of the running.

        1. Anxa*

          Yes! I had to enter my car insurance info and I didn’t have a car. I had access to a car, but no insurance because I didn’t have a car because … I didn’t have a job!

      4. Anxa*

        Oh man!

        I got my license a few years after college graduation, but I wonder if any of those jobs I had to skip out on (jobs that had no indication of needing to drive) would have been the one to get me started on a better patch when I was more of a fresh graduate.

        Sometimes I wonder if it was about ID, too. Like, would my DMV state ID number been okay? I wish I was more brazen back then and just did it.

      5. smthing*

        That could open them up to lawsuits. A hiring requirement that that does not actually impact the performance of job duties and also has the effect of limiting access by a protected class is a big no-no. One of the classic discrimination suits was the old height limit on flight attendants, which had no relation to job duties but had the effect of discriminating against men.

    21. siiif*

      Applying for design jobs and Taleo takes your pristinely designed resume and scrapes it (badly). Or they have a place to attach a portfolio and the size limit is only like 5 MB.

      1. Amadeo*

        Cripes, totally agreeing with this! “Upload your resume in PDF format!” Resume is uploaded and…scraped for the info. Your design work is gone and you still have to go through all of the fields and fix them anyway.

        For crying out loud.

    22. EmmaLou*

      Computer applications that won’t let you leave fields blank. If I’ve only ever had two jobs I don’t HAVE third and fourth one for those boxes. Or it’s been 30 years. He can’t remember what his starting wage was at AM/PM when he was 16 in the seventies sometime…. You aren’t allowed to ask me for my social security number yet. This is just an application for goodness’ sakes.

    23. Anxa*

      I like when phone number is a required field from a reference, who doesn’t have a work phone, and there’s no field for email. Bonus when you try to squeeze an email address in anyway and it’s rejected for being an invalid format.

    24. Anxa*

      Actually, I honestly think that people who perpetuate this disconnected job application process are doing our society a huge disservice. I mean, I get that employers need automated tools. But our education system, career advice sites, labor departments are not doing enough to help applicants deal with the new application systems. Do you know how many courses my comm college and library have on building a resume? Lots! Personality tests? Taleo? ATS in general? None.

      Worker training programs will have courses on how not to wear ripped clothing during an interview, but there’s basically no guidance on understanding how to address issues with your application for the modern systems.

      Do labor departments and employment commissions even know what a job search is like anymore?

    25. Chaordic One*

      My pet peeve is employers who ask for college transcripts.

      I graduated from college more years ago than I would care to mention, and since then I’ve taken numerous courses at numerous other instutions (mostly community colleges wherever I happened to live at the time). I usually just list my bachelor’s degree and leave off my related associate degree and the several certificates I received, as well as the isolated courses that I’ve taken here and there.

      I don’t have a great GPA from when I earned my B.A. I’m not proud of it, but it was so long ago that I no longer think it particularly relevant. Several times I’ve applied for varous clerical positions at a local community college and I’ve never received a single interview there. The application required transcripts and I’m convinced that the reason I’ve never gotten a single interview is because of my low GPA many years ago.

      1. Mabel*

        I was thinking about this while reading the comments because my college GPA was not great. However, I have worked steadily (and have had generally great reviews) in the 32 years since then, so I don’t think the GPA is relevant now. I’m considering starting a job search, and this thread is making me apprehensive.

        1. Chaordic One*

          Fortunately, most employers do not ask for transcripts. Generally, the only ask for them from recent grads. It does seem to be a big thing in academia, in particular, even for comparatively low-level jobs.

    26. Trix*

      New one to me, just encountered yesterday – 5-7 page writing sample for a position that does not involve any significant writing, with 0 clues as to what on earth theyou were hoping to get from it

    27. dragon_heart*

      Employers who play coy about how much the salary is. They make you go through the whole recruitment process even when they can’t even match your current salary and benefits, plus they never bring this up with you.

  8. tired person*

    Have you ever felt disappointed at being turned down for a job you didn’t really want in the first place? Like…you sensed it won’t be a good fit, and presumably they feel the same way, yet you don’t want to be the one being rejected? It’s probably that you’d want to be the one doing the turning down, which is somewhat unreasonable (assuming they have decent judgement), but…ugh, I hate feeling like this.

    1. Newby*

      It makes perfect sense. If nothing else, there is a feeling of validation (or an ego boost) when you get a job offer, even if you don’t really want to take it.

    2. Sybil Fawlty*

      Absolutely! It feels worse, somehow. Also happens with dating, I vaguely recall. It feels worse to be rejected by someone or something you didn’t want anyway. Hang in there!

    3. canoe*

      Right there with you, had two great interviews and very positive response to writing sample, then radio silence. There was a lot I was skeptical about, but really thought I’d at least get an offer. Oh well, the right thing will eventually come along.

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      Yeah. Rejection is no fun, even when you’re being rejected for something you didn’t want! But these are much easier to get over than rejections for jobs you really do want.

    5. Sled dog mama*

      Yep, I got my revenge on one of these recently ( in the last year).
      First job out of grad school was down to me and one other candidate, they hired the other candidate. Through a series of acquisitions, internal moves and promotions I ended up reporting to the guy who made that decision. About six months in he’s sitting in our shared office (crappy client only would provide one office for the two of us, and it was smaller than all their employee’s offices) and he sighs and says “I wish I’d hired you five years ago, you’d probably still be there and not thinking about leaving the company because of this place.” He went on to tell me that the other person lasted 18 months and had zero work ethic where he really enjoyed working with me because I got stuff done.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      “Jeepers, I can’t even get a job that I DON’T want.”


      And you are accurate in your description of “tired person”. A tired mind will think of this stuff and not let go.

      You can:
      Decide to think about this later, when you have had more rest.
      Decide to understand that the two of you actually agree here.
      Decide that the reason you did not get it is because there is something better, strengthen your resolve to look at your setting with fresh eyes.
      Decide that you deserve something better than a job you dislike.

      This stuff is hard and it when it’s not hard that is only because it is down right IMPOSSIBLE.
      Please invest in some self-care this weekend. Do something to recharge YOU. This is whatever recharging means to you. When I am in this space in my brain, I need to just take a break, even a short break will help. You will get through this, you’ll make it.

      1. Trix*

        So, you obviously wrote that directly to me right?

        Damn I needed to hear that. Thank you. I do deserve better than a job I dislike, and I think this weekend I’ll treat myself to the cross stitch and Netflix lazy weekend I’ve been craving but have been telling myself I’m too busy for

    7. Morgan*

      Yes, I’ve felt that way a few times. Next week, I interview for a position I am not very interested in. Was laying here thinking about removing my application.

  9. Sunflower*

    Does anyone know of good resources/forums to get information on Australian subclass 462 visa- the visa that allows Americans to work temporary in Australia? Maybe even just good expat forums?

    I’ve done quite a bit of research but I’m primary looking for people’s experiences with getting work(and what work you can realistically get), avg pay, resume writing, what to expect, etc. I’m nervous a lot of the resources I’ve found so far are sugarcoating the experience (most postings are all about why you should do it as opposed to what it’s actually like)

    1. Blue Anne*

      I recommend the “I Am A Triangle” group on Facebook. Lots of expats from all over the world, and everyone is always trading advice and experiences. It’s better than any other expat forum I’ve found. I seem to have become the go-to person there for Americans doing taxes abroad, which is gratifying.

      1. Worker Bee (Germany)*

        Thank you so much for this tip! Looking for resources for an American to move to Germany

    2. Parenthetically*

      I’m not familiar with the details of that visa so I don’t know what kinds of work it covers, but I know of some backpackers organizations with lots of folks on temporary work visas in Australia, doing farm work/seasonal work. If that doesn’t apply, feel free to ignore. :)

    3. Lab Monkey*

      I’ve held this visa!

      Rate of pay is going to vary depending on what you end up doing. If you’re just looking to try out Australia for a year (Americans cannot renew, do not let your UK friends tell you there’s a second year), your best bet might be to get in with a temp agency in any major city. You have a 6m restriction on your employer. Do not try to cheat it. You’ll be caught.

      Living in any of the cities in Australia Is similar to living in a big city in the US. It will be SPENNY. You’ll get a job for $20+/hour and think GREAT, but remember: rent is advertised weekly, not monthly. A small studio in Melbourne near the cbd will cost over $1k a month.

      The visa itself is fairly easy to get. Securing a place to live and a job are the hard parts. If you’d like to backpack rather than live in one place, I’m sure it’s a very different experience (and one I don’t know).

      If you want more info about my experience, I’ll try to watch this thread – you can also leave an email.

    4. Silver*

      Rent can be crazy in many of the capital cities. Sydney in particular is insane.
      Do loads of research on where you want to go and how much rent will be as it can be over half your monthly salary. It’s really easy to go under financially if you’re not working regular hours eg/ hospitality, retail etc.
      Also familiarise yourself with the visa rules around work. There are a few businesses (eg 7/11) that got in trouble recently for exploiting students and other temporary visa holders by underpaying them or misstating the hours they worked. There are minimum wages and hours set by industry awards in many industries which your employer will know about and should hold to. Also you may find some of your paycheck going into something called superannuation which is like a 401k. Most universities should have info leaflets on this stuff for foreign students that could help you as well.
      Good luck and hope you like my country :)

  10. Asking Newbie*

    Will soon be looking for a new job and I know the question will come up ‘Why are you looking?’ The honest answer is that my current job is a nightmare, with terrible coworkers and supervisors who are making my life absolutely miserable. Obviously, that’s not an answer I can give interviewers. So what should I say instead?

    ‘I’ve reached the extent of growth in my current employment’ and ‘seeking new responsibilities and opportunities’ are answers I’ve heard a lot, and would be true since there is no forward momentum to be found were I am, but it feels like a cop-out. What else can I say when asked why I’m looking?

    1. Odyssea*

      Perhaps saying that you’re looking for a work culture that is a better fit? As a manager, that would be a good way to signal why you are leaving without coming off negative or bitter. Backing it up with examples in your answers to behavioral questions (i.e. “i often had to provide coverage for coworkers with little to no notice, so I set up this system,” etc.) would give me the hint as to why you’re looking for a new job, and as long as you provided good answers to the interview questions, it wouldn’t be a red flag.

    2. Pup Seal*

      Yeah, that’s a tough question when the real answer is, “My job is a nightmare and I need to get out ASAP!” It’s also really hard when my resume makes it look like I’m doing great work at my current job. For some interviews, I’ve told the hiring manager that my current job has expanded my role to include duties I’m not qualified to do and I want to go back to doing work that I’m specialized in. I told one interviewer that my work environment is too relaxed and I work better in fast-pace work cultures. I normally go with my specialty isn’t being utilized to the fullest.

    3. Stellaaaaa*

      There’s nothing wrong with saying that you’re looking for new opportunities for growth. Others may disagree with me, but I think it’s okay to say something like, “When I first took the job, I was excited to work with that team. Over the years, a lot of those people have left and the mission of the company has drifted. I’d like to work somewhere that makes me feel excited again.”

    4. NW Mossy*

      You’re not under any obligation to tell them the honest answer – it’s a job interview, not a court proceeding where there are penalties for perjury. The two answers you cite are perfectly reasonable and appropriate things to say.

      And besides, anyone who interviews often knows that these types of statements are a polite veneer over “my current employer is Crazy Town, Inc.” They’ll likely have a rough sense of the real situation, but admire your professionalism in not falling down the Drama Llama well.

    5. Application Development Manager*

      “I like what I do, but I am ready for bigger and better challenges. I have worked hard to hone my skills and I feel I am ready to expand my horizons and experiences in different industry and work areas.”

    6. fposte*

      A copout is fine as long as there’s some truth in it. It sounds like the two answers you’ve heard would be perfectly legit for you.

    7. Kyrielle*

      Honestly? I’d give one of those two and immediately pivot to why you want to work at the place you’re interviewing – what about the job in question interests or (if it really does) excites you.

      They don’t need to understand the real reason you’re leaving. They can’t change anything about what’s going on at your current job, so there’s no need to find a way to pass that info to them. And there’s no need to have a “really good” reason for leaving. “I can’t grow any more and want to try something different” is perfectly understandable, normal, and acceptable. (I mean, after a reasonable amount of time, anyway, at the job you’re leaving.)

      In some ways, you don’t *want* your answer to this one to stand out. It’s a conversational question whose value revolves around hinting at two things – “are you possibly a source of drama?” (you want it to convey ‘nope, I get business norms’) and “are you likely to take a counter-offer / interviewing to cement your place there?” (again, you want a nope, obviously…they don’t want to make an offer only to lose you.)

      Both of these boring daily answers convey that, though the first one a little more strongly (if you’re seeking growth and they haven’t got it), but the second one implies it. Pivoting to why you want to work with them reinforces the “nope” on the second one.

      Absent specific circumstances, you’re rarely going to have an interesting/exciting/non-cop-out-ish answer to this one that is going to do the job of answering the sub-text very well, I think. (Contract jobs ending; downsizings; buyouts that change product lines; that sort of thing.)

    8. Mirror mirror*

      The key is to say something that makes it sound like you are attracted TO this job and not running AWAY from your present situation. I’ve been on a lot of search committees, and I assure you, interviewers assume that your current job situation is not perfect, which is why you are looking. You can be honest without turning this into a Glass Door rant or therapy session. “I’m looking for a job that will allow me to {insert job stuff} in a collegial environment.”
      PS The candidates who don’t understand professional boundaries and speak negatively about their current positions do not move forward in the hiring process.

    9. Sunflower*

      Can you specify what sorts of challenges/changes you’re looking for? I was miserable at my last job for a lot of reasons but a few of which were that 1. I wasn’t really part of a team and I wanted that in my next job 2. I had hit my plateau as an event planner there. And I wanted someone more expert than me to work under. 3. I was doing the same events over and over and wanted to get a better variety.

      This can be adjusted from job to job but I think if you are able to name more specific things, it will come off as much more understandable about why you’re looking (and why you’d be a good fit for the job)

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Be as brief as possible then change gears and tell them why you applied at their company.
      It could look like this:

      “Why are you leaving Current Job?”

      “I feel that I have maxed out at Current Place. I saw your ad and I know I love doing X, Y and Z, and you have this position that requires X, Y and Z.” Talk a little bit about how well your skills, previous jobs, etc give you a solid background for this opening.

      They probably won’t even notice the transition because you just slide from talking about Current Job to Their Opening.

  11. Maple*

    Just had my final interview after a lengthy application process for an organization I’d love to work for, doing work I’d love to do, getting paid way more than I’ve ever made. Just waiting to see if I get an offer now.

    During this lengthy process, my husband interviewed for, was offered, negotiated, and accepted an out-of-state job. We’re moving in July.

    I can’t accept if I get an offer, right? I’m out of the running. I would only be there four months. I can’t accept knowing that. Right? It feels dishonest.

    But I got laid off in January and I can’t just be unemployed for those four months. I was the breadwinner; my husband is a grad student. I haven’t had any other interviews. I don’t know what to do. I really want an offer and hate to turn it down if it comes. But I should, shouldn’t I? What else could I do?

    1. Odyssea*

      Please do not accept the offer knowing that you will be leaving. It will not reflect well on you, and could damage your professional reputation. I would reach out to the hiring manager, or whoever you have been interviewing with, and let them know that, while you started the interview process with the best of intentions, your living situation has now changed and you would not be able to accept the position if offered.

      Any reasonable manager will take this as a professional move, which is what you want them to remember about you if you ever have a chance to interview with them again.

      1. Maple*

        This is what I thought. It’s a bummer, but it’s the right thing to do. MANY people around me are encouraging me to just go for it and deal with the consequences later- thanks for the sanity check.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Turn it down. Onboarding new hires is a lot of work and I think it’s shitty to start a job knowing you’ll be leaving in 4 months. Get a retail job or another type of job where turnover is high enough that 4 months won’t make a difference.

      1. Maple*

        Part of what sucks is that that kind of high-turnover job tends to be stuff like retail and restaurant work, which is physically tough for me. I actually was trying to bridge my own employment gap with a restaurant job, but I’m looking to leave that too due to just not being able to swing it much anymore. I suppose it’s temping for me. New experiences!

        1. Newby*

          You can see if a temp agency has the type of placements you would be able to do. Sometimes there are placements for receptionist or data entry, which is more likely to be physically manageable.

    3. Temperance*

      If you’re the breadwinner, do you absolutely have to move for your husband’s career? It seems like your job is more important to your family’s financial future, so why can’t he look locally?

      You really can’t take a job for 4 months without burning the bridge permanently with that org. Sadly.

      1. Anna*

        Well, he’s already accepted and they plan on moving. And Maple says they WERE the breadwinner, so the situation changed with the layoff.

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      Agree with everyone here. It would be one thing if you took the job, and then your husband’s new job came along. Life happens, and while it would be a drag and an inconvenience, it would be just one of those things. But taking the job knowing you were going to turn around and resign in a few months is different…it’s such a huge investment of time to hire a new person and get them up to speed. I wouldn’t be able to do it.

      Plus, if you’re honest with the interviewer, and explain why you’re withdrawing your name from consideration, chances are they’ll appreciate your candor and that’s what they’ll remember about you. It will speak to your integrity. Professional communities are small…you never know who might know who.

    5. Anna*

      I think in this case you can’t even wait for the offer; you should probably withdraw from consideration. You would be doing them a great disservice to accept a job knowing full well you have no intention of being there for six months much less a year and chances are good if they did make an offer and you told them you were leaving in four months, they would rescind the offer anyway. It would be really dishonest to accept it knowing what you know.

      In the mean time, can you look at temp jobs to fill in the four months?

    6. Future Analyst*

      Any chance you can do the new job long distance from the new state? Or arrange to stay in your current city longer? I know long-distance relationships are hard, but if it means you get to stay and do something you love, even just for a year or three, maybe consider that. I don’t think that accepting the job if you’ll only be there 4 months is great: it usually takes at least 6 months to get fully up to speed and trained anyway. Sorry, this is a rough situation.

      1. Maple*

        Telecommuting/distance is probably not on the table for this job as it involves collaborative work with local departments and some local travel, and we are moving 8+ hours away. And with a small child, neither of us are eager to go long-distance in that sense either. Thanks, though.

    7. orchidsandtea*

      I’d lay it on the table when they make the offer. “Here’s my interest and what I think I can bring to the table, here’s my situation, here are two proposals for how I could help the organization.” A short-term contract wouldn’t be dishonest, and they may well be interested in something like that. Or if you’d be willing/able to stay a few extra months, or if there’s any chance they’d be interested in a remote worker (and navigating the out-of-state legal challenges).

      Unless being jobless will actually impact your family’s ability to eat, I think it’d be better to do things above-board. But your need to eat does come first, and you can do a lot in four months. Not everything — it’s a different experience than working somewhere long term. I just did a three-month stint before maternity leave. So it’s possible.

    8. INeedANap*

      Is this a job that might allow telecommuting or otherwise maybe be adaptable to your new situation?

      Personally, I would just be honest with them: “I very much want to accept this job offer, but during the interview process my husband accepted his own offer and we’ll be moving out-of-state so he can take that opportunity. Is this something that we could make work for this position? If not, I understand that it simply may not make sense to move forward here.”

      1. Uzumaki Naruto*


        Don’t decide for them that they don’t want you (although they probably don’t). But do be very clear about your situation and the limitations that imposes. Even though it’s unlikely, who knows, maybe they want a short-term contract or would be cool with you working remotely or…

    9. IowaGirl*

      I totally think you can take the job. For one thing 4 months is a long time away and it’s *possible* your husband’s job won’t materialize for some reason. You can consider what to do closer to moving date – negotiate a remote working arrangement? “commute” to hubby’s new city on weekends until you’re sure his new job and location is a good fit?* just quit, because the job wasn’t that spectacular after all? You will have options once both of you are working!

      *Living apart sucks, but sometimes it’s worth it for a small amount of time. Just don’t set yourself up to feel like one of you can’t leave at some point.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        How would you feel if you spent tons of time and energy hiring and training someone who knew the entire time that they were only staying for 4 months? That is a shitty thing to do.

      2. Tuckerman*

        It’s not ideal, but if they HAVE to start generating income NOW, she may not have much of a choice. Yes, she will burn her bridge. Yes, it is not a nice thing to do. But, it can take a long time to get hired into even low paying temp positions. If they can’t make ends meet any other way, she should take it.

        1. Anxa*

          Yes, it is not a nice thing to do. But, it can take a long time to get hired into even low paying temp positions. If they can’t make ends meet any other way, she should take it.

          This is where I’m conflicted. There’s this mythical thinking that you can walk into a fast-food job or retail or a temp agency. It can take over 4 months to find a job like that. I don’t think it’s right to take the job, but if they won’t be able to pay their basic needs without any job at all, then I don’t think it’s unethical move in a capitalistic society.

      3. Anna*

        Generally it’s better to make decisions based on what you know. Maple knows that their husband has accepted a job and will be starting in July. It doesn’t make sense to accept an offer because the job in another state *might* not happen. Maple has no reason to believe it won’t.

    10. Observer*

      If you get an offer, ask if remote work is an option. If not, you cannot take the job – it will come back to haunt you in a big way, since any employer who hears about it (and they probably will!) will not want to touch you with a 10 foot pole – and anyone in that organization who ever works with you in any capacity will remember this.

      Start looking for a job in your new locale and look for a temporary position where you are.

    11. Clinical Social Worker*

      Volunteer. Take time to pack before you move. Start your job search in the new state. You will have PLENTY to do. Maybe even go for walks and have fun with friends before you move.

      I’ve been in your situation and it sucks to be unemployed when you’re used to being the breadwinner. But you’ll get through this.

    12. Overeducated*

      Just wanted to say that almost the same thing happened to me, and I was kind of sad to get an offer for a stretch job, which I did turn down. I wish i could say i found something better, i found something good enough but am still looking. It just sucks when the timing of your job search (or their extremely long interview and decision process) winds up like that.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      This is a little bit of a crazy idea. Why not call them up/email them and tell them you must withdraw. Explain. Then tell them that if they had a temp position for four months you would be very happy to help them out.

      I would seriously consider doing this because I would tell me, “I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.” And, “We will never get what we don’t ask for.”

  12. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I have a coworker who cannot or will not turn off her phone sounds. At work, everyone uses their phones to listen to things when working alone, and so hers is always out.


    1. Tempest*

      I feel you. I have one that watches annoying youtube videos with the sound on and is constantly glued to the phone in general.

    2. CorporationDowntown*

      OMG, I have a new coworker who won’t put their phone on silent and they get notifications every 15-20 seconds, so all I hear all day is “DING DING DING”.

      We just acquired a few new people and they all sit near me (we’re in cubes), so I’m not even sure who the culprit is to ask them to silence their phone.

      1. ThatGirl*

        There is someone within earshot of me whose phone alert is a sound from Overwatch, and it gets very distracting.

      2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        Why not go around to all of them, then? “I’m not sure that it’s your phone, but I’ve been hearing a lot of phone notifications. Would you mine putting yours on silent when you’re at your desk?”

        1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

          I definitely know who it is, but she claims she does not know how to turn it off, or variously that she won’t. We all have law degrees and so management is big on “solve your own disputes.”

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            Have you tried the subtly condescending “Oh, well then I’d be HAPPY to show you!” and point out the switch on the side of the dang phone?

            1. NaoNao*

              Well, not defending the boor, but it’s not a switch like on a physical telephone with bell (landline style). One must either:
              Turn volume of all notifications completely off (“ringer volume”)–and you can use buttons for this, but it’s not a big “off” switch on the phone like it is with landlines
              Turn off “push” notifications one by one in the settlings of your phone

              for cell phones.

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                Actually, on an iPhone, it IS a physical switch, on the side of the phone. You mean other phones don’t have a physical mute button?

                1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

                  My android doesn’t have a button or switch that is just for mute. It has a volume button on the side of the phone that in order to mute, all sounds go to silent. I can go in to individual apps and either turn off the push notifications or set them to silent.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            “Oh, I can help, here, let’s google those instructions right now. We can print them out so you will have them.” Said in a cheerful, helpful voice of course.

    3. BadPlanning*

      I hear you (hee, or don’t want to hear you!). Sometimes I go on bus tour type vacation and the number of people who have all the sounds turned on on their tablets is really annoying. I will play this game…and you must listen to every zip, zat, ding, dash with me.

      But I’m a mute everything sort of person.

      1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

        I mute as well. In fact, I specifically purchased a fitness tracker that has the notification option. So now it vibrates when I need to wake up, when I get a phone call (and displays the name or number of who is calling), and when I get a text message (name of person and start of text message). I haven’t turned my phone off mute for at least six months, even though I have awesome ringtones.

        1. Delta Delta*

          I used to work with someone who had one of those. It was so disruptive – every conversation with her was interrupted constantly with her checking her wrist every 20 seconds to read her texts.

      1. HYDR*

        My boss next to me has his computer set on the LOUDEST setting, and every time an email comes in….there is a chime. Webinars are on FULL BLAST. It’s crazy.

        Has anyone seen the movie Trolls? It’s super cute, and they all have ‘hug time’ when a ding goes off. Every time my text alert goes off at home, when my phone is not on silence, my kids and I all yell “HUG TIME”. That could be an option ;) I bet they would silence their phones rather quickly! haha!

        1. Witty Nickname*

          My 4 year old’s best friend got her a Trolls watch for her birthday. She presses a button and it chimes and says ‘HUG TIME!!!’ It’s adorable, even if it was overplayed within 5 minutes of her getting it. :)

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I used to have one whose ringtones were a dog barking, a crazy laugh, and that damn Kung Fu Fighting song. And she never turned her sound down and took personal calls all day long. Plus her voice was really loud. Only my most obnoxious soundtracks–think Daft Punk or the Mad Max: Fury Road one– would drown her out. I was SO happy when she moved away.

    5. PatPat*

      The past few times we’ve had local news stories of note, like an active shooter or escaped convict, a coworker will pull up the live news coverage on her computer, set her speakers on loud, THEN LEAVE HER CUBICLE. We don’t work in law enforcement or any industry that needs to know that stuff at work, either.

    6. Witty Nickname*

      Ooooh, that would annoy me so much. I can’t even stand sounds on my own phone (I keep the ringer on vibrate, all games on mute, etc. I’ll listen to music or watch videos with sound…sometimes. I like that Facebook has started adding captions to videos if you watch them right in the newsfeed instead of clicking on them).

      I also keep my computer on mute, unless I have to turn the sound on for a training or something.

    7. Rocketship*

      UGH. I’m so with you on this! And the weird thing is, we have an open office and lots of folks leave the volume on, so we will hear random notifications going off throughout the day (my own included). Part of that is kind of work-necessary; there’s about a 50/50 chance we’ll get contacted on our cell phones vs. desk phones, even though almost all of us don’t have company-provided cell phones. We do our best, in general, to keep our volumes set below “dull roar.”

      But this one guy. THIS ONE GUY.

      Ringer set to full volume at all times, and it’s the most jarring possible version of a vintage actual-phone-ringing sound. Then he picks up at his desk and proceeds to have conversations at HIS full volume. Which is surprisingly loud. Most of us in the office can hear him. Over our headphones.


      Also HR has already spoken to him about it. That corrected the behavior for exactly 3 days. Then back to the shouting, and the rest of us responding to his half of the conversation to each other over our chat app. I think this one guy has probably dropped office productivity by 25%.

      Anyway, I can commiserate. Is it possible you could ask your coworker to just turn the volume down a little while she’s at work? Or use headphones? I am baffled by the number of colleagues represented in this thread (who I am extrapolating out into a percentage of the world at large) that are apparently unaware of headphones. Maybe there needs to be a public awareness campaign.

      1. Wanna-Alp*

        Is it ok that a water sprayer immediately jumps to mind? I have visions of a wet air puff just near him, and then he moves in the opposite direction, so you end up shepherding him in the direction of the conference room…. Then again, with the recent assassination and the method used, maybe not.

  13. SaviourSelf*

    I need a gut check – are my expectations out of whack?

    I am interviewing potential Executive Assistants. Mid last week I emailed several asking for their availability for Monday or Tuesday to do a phone screen. Last Friday, I emailed each that had responded with a time within the availability they’d provided and asked them to confirm or suggest another time if the suggestion no longer worked for them.

    Four of them did not confirm so I sent them another email the morning of the interview suggesting another time later in the week since I had not heard back. Two of them emailed back angry that I was rescheduling…

    Should I have gone ahead and called them at the original time I suggested despite their not responding? As a job seeker, which would you prefer?

    1. Squeeble*

      It seems like you were pretty clear in your request that they confirm the time. Maybe it would have been best to say “If it still works for you, I’ll call you on Wednesday at 2pm,” which doesn’t outright require a response, but still. Their not confirming the time, and then getting angry about you rescheduling (?!?!) are two things that don’t bode well for an executive assistant.

    2. Murphy*

      I would have sent another email that morning saying something like “I’m assuming that 2pm today is OK since I haven’t heard otherwise from you?” rather than simply suggesting another time. They should have confirmed with you though.

    3. Alucius*

      It doesn’t seem out of whack to me to request a confirmation…and to take absence of a confirmation as a signal to reschedule. Presuming you were clear in your request for a confirmation, you might be getting some data about your applicants’ attention to detail.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      With EAs, you really need someone who’s going to be flawless at this kind of thing (both scheduling and being detail-oriented). These candidates aren’t.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        Exactly what I was going to say. You want someone flawless at following up with schedule changes and meeting times. Hell, I’d reschedule every interview just as a sneaky little magic sorting hat, if I were looking for an EA.

        (actually I wouldn’t, that’s game-playing, but it still gives you useful information.)

      2. SaviourSelf*

        Yeah, this was my thought. I don’t want them handling the President’s calendar in such a fashion.

        I’m definitely passing on them but want to make sure my process is one that is friendly to job seekers as well.

      3. Karen K*

        I wouldn’t chase after anyone in this situation. AAM is right. If they are still interested, they have a funny way of showing it. If they’re not, it’s just rude not to respond and take oneself out of the running.

        Either way, not good.

        1. Squeeble*

          Yeah. As an admin myself, if I got furious every time someone needed to reschedule a meeting, I’d never be happy.

          1. The Rat-Catcher*

            The anger about rescheduling might be because if they are currently employed, they may have taken time off for the interview.
            However, does not excuse the lack of confirming the appointment, and these people are probably not great candidate

            1. The Rat-Catcher*

              And it still probably wasn’t a great idea to express that anger to the point that it came through in an email. Vent privately.

      4. Parenthetically*

        Yes, my thoughts exactly. I was a lousy executive assistant because I am very Go With The Flow and Not Into Details — do not hire me or someone like me to be your executive assistant, everyone will be miserable, 0/10 would not recommend.

      5. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Agreed. If they can’t follow simple instructions to set up an interview, they are probably not going to be a good fit in that role.

      6. turquoisecow*

        Yeah, agreed. If they can’t respond quickly to their personal emails to schedule a call, I’m not sure they’d be really good at doing this in a work capacity. If it was any other job, I might be more lenient, but for an executive assistant, I’d want someone with attention to these details.

    5. Lily in NYC*

      I hope you are no longer interviewing the ones who showed anger. They will be trouble if you hire them. Our boss overruled the other EA and I when she was hiring an admin – we warned her against hiring her because she acted frustrated by having to take a grammar test (and she didn’t do well). The boss was leaving for vacation and didn’t want to deal with continuing the search and made her an offer. She lasted 2 months. She was a liar and had terrible writing skills. Her boss used to get so upset with the typos and I wanted to yell “WE WARNED YOU ABOUT THIS AND YOU DIDN’T LISTEN”.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Something similar happened many years ago at a former employer with a student worker hire. The boss overruled me and the office manager about hiring a student to be a clerical assistant (because the student was already part of an unpaid peer organization in the office). Everyone came to regret that decision because of the student employee’s absenteeism, drama-seeking behavior, and lack of focus on her work when she was there. To the boss’s credit, she acknowledged that she goofed by insisting. And it eventually led to uncoupling the volunteer positions from the paid clerical positions (in other words, participation in one did not guarantee selection for the other). Said a lot about the boss who admitted her mistake instead of doubling down.

    6. Linda*

      I have done administrative work for almost my entire life and one thing I know for certain is if they could not follow those simple instructions you don’t want to hire them and an angry response is really messed up. If this is their best behavior I’d hate to see how they treat people after they have the job. You’ve dodged a bullet here. Don’t interview either of them.

    7. zora*

      As an EA and job seeker, keep doing what you are doing. It is good to ask them to confirm, and if they don’t follow that one instruction, the email you are sending about rescheduling makes sense. Then, if they are apologetic and agree to reschedule, ok, maybe that’s ok. If they get angry?? Well, they’re helping you narrow the pool with their actions.

      One thought: have you checked your spam filter to make sure their confirmation email didn’t get stuck? Our work email was waayyy over filtering for a while, even emails in the middle of an ongoing thread.

    8. Whats In A Name*

      I think by not confirming they self-selected out of the process. Maybe not purposefully, but with an EA I would think that attention-to-detail and confirming meetings (even if not asked to) would be a basic expectation of the job. These candidates did not show that quality.

    9. Audiophile*

      Not confirming isn’t okay. I’ve been on the reverse side a lot lately, I’ll speak with a company and they’ll say that they will follow up with an email confirming the time and no email is ever sent. I’ve finally started calling and asking for confirmation before heading out the door.

      I know people are busy and they may forget but, nothing is worse than arriving at an interview to discover they’ve forgotten you were coming and now have to scramble to find someone. Thankfully that hasn’t happened in a long time.

    10. Morgan*

      As an assistant, their reaction was inappropriate. If you’re actively applying for jobs, then you need to your email on a regular basis. I check mine at least three times a day. You’d think they want to make a good first impression here. Obviously they aren’t interested and it would be hard to take them serious at this point. Constant calendar changes are part of the job.

  14. Mike*

    I have a gigantic interview next week to move into a senior level engineering role (with a potential 25-40% pay increase!) with a large corporation.

    I’ve been preparing like crazy, but I’m still super nervous. They specifically stated they want the STAR method used, so I’ve been thinking about past situations, and turning them stories that fit the job description.

    But man, I’m sooooo nervous. I’ve wanted out of this current position for over a year, made it to the final step 4 different times, and still not gotten an offer. This is perfect opportunity to get into a growing sector with a great large org. with awesome benefits (unlimited PTO, free healthcare, etc).

    1. Dzhymm, BfD*

      Interesting… several jobs ago I was trained as an interviewer with the STAR method (part of a larger discipline called “Targeted Selection”) and we never “STAR” or anything like that to our candidates. Rather, it was up to the *interviewer* to review the candidate’s background and ask questions to elicit responses about their experiences, past performance, etc. My approach was, rather than dryly asking the questions as listed, to try and weave them into a narrative about the candidate’s experience. HR was blown away by how smoothly I did this :)

      1. Dzhymm, BfD*

        “and we never *mentioned* “STAR” or anything like that…” can we get an edit function please? :)

      2. Mike*

        I agree it seemed strange that they sent me a document outlining the STAR method and how they prefer answers in that format.

        I already used it in the past for the most part, but I REALLY want this job, so I’ve been working on examples hardcore.

    2. Whiskers on Kittens*

      Our collective fingers are crossed for you! It sounds as if you are preparing, do make some time to also relax, if you can, over the weekend. You don’t want your brain too crammed before your big day.

  15. Your opinion?*

    I’m just looking for opinions. This is LONG and has some side stories for explanations. I bet your glad you clicked on open thread! I didn’t write Alison specifically because all is said and done – nothing can be changed. I’m just curious if others would have done things differently. End result of my story I am not looking to get anyone fired, just frustrated.

    I am a professional business woman in my early 40s.

    There is a chain store, Teapots Inc. Teapots is one of those all-in-one stores with many departments including a grocery area.

    Teapots has a main check out area as well as a few (rarely used) checkout areas throughout the store. One of the benefits of Teapots is a consulting/ checkout area related to the grocery section that one can go over ingredients in food items for those with special dietary needs. The area is staffed by nutritionists. Basically you may use it as a checkout, but a majority of the time it is used only for nutritional references.

    Every year the surrounding towns join together for a winter festival, a busy time for Teapots. I go in on the eve of festival night. Chaos is in the store – 3 of the 7 cash registers are down, there was a delivery mix up, employees called in sick and a snow storm was predicted. Despite everything frenzied going on things were pretty organized. Unfortunately the lines were long so people were waiting 10-20 minutes to checkout. The staff even handed out cookies to those waiting on line!

    Due to a food allergy, I wanted to check something out with the nutrition consultant (no, it could not wait for a slower time). The line was 15 people deep since the area was now being used for checkout and nutrition. I was about 4 people in, and in front of me was a woman with a baby and a man with a physical disability. A cashier (looked to be in his mid 20s) from the main checkout area was moved to the nutrition area. All of us on line noticed that the main area cashier kept letting/ sneaking his friends to move to the front of the line. It was done in a way that people on line wouldn’t notice or couldn’t say anything until the friends’ transactions was being processed. People were frustrated.

    When I got up to the checkout, one of the nutritionists (not the main area cashier) checked out my items. As professionally as possible I said that this was not a good scenario- people were annoyed with the line cutting, and at least 2 people in the line should have been given a priority given the wait time. The nutritionist cashier (approximately late 20s-early 30s in age) made every excuse possible and told me to deal with it. Her justification was that the whole store was short staffed and the main area cashier was helping out the nutrition department, he could set his own rules!

    I was near the front of the line when all this occurred. I only saw the line cutting happen once, but as I was walking out you could hear others mumbling about the same situation happening more than once. Other than the one time, I have no way to confirm the other instances.

    The day after the festival I called the Teapots store manager and told her of the situation. The manager was appalled, apologized profusely and said this was not normal operating procedure. Apparently I’m not the only one who called about this, but I was the first person the manager had time to speak with. By the time I called, the manager was already looking into the situation. I’m satisfied with the outcome that management is taking steps to review the situation.

    I go into work the next day and apparently a coworker saw me at Teapots that night. Coworker too was venting about the nutrition checkout line. I mentioned I had called the manager. Coworker said something along the lines of – I hope the main area and nutritionist cashiers get fired.

    That statement has me paranoid! I don’t want to cost anyone their job!!!!! Given my business background (admittedly not in retail or direct management of staff), it never even occurred to me when I called that the cashiers could be fired. I thought at most they would get spoken to, reprimanded, given a warning, re-trained. I only called to prevent this from happening again. I even told the manager it was not necessary to follow up with me, this was an informal discussion.

    Do you think I cost two people their jobs? Did I do the right thing reporting the situation to the manager? Should I have kept my opinion to myself?

    If you are still with me reading this, thanks!

    1. Brandy*

      You completely did the right thing. The woman shouldn’t have told you to “deal with it” and if her attitude, not your call, cost her her job, so be it. The cashier shouldn’t be sneaking people into lines either. That is not right and their actions will get them into trouble not you calling. Im sure others have since called and complained also. There is no excuse for what all happened. But its not on you.

      1. turquoisecow*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t have said that thing exactly, but in truth, she probably didn’t know what else to say. The manager on duty might have been on a register themselves, and she didn’t have the power to tell the other cashier that what he was doing was wrong. In addition, calling over a manager to deal with it would not have helped – it would have only made the situation even worse, by making everyone wait even longer for the manager to come over.

        Calling the store afterward about the problem was definitely the right thing to do. If the offending cashier has a history of such behaviors, he deserves to be fired, and the story is probably easily verifiable by security cameras. In either case, Your opinion? shouldn’t feel responsible for that.

    2. Tempest*

      I highly doubt they got fired over this if it was the first instance of this kind the manager had to deal with. If this is a pattern of behaviour, you didn’t get them fired, they did it to themselves by not doing a better job. Unless you make it habit of calling the manager for every little thing everywhere you go, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over this. Blatantly letting your friends cut a long line repeatedly is sort of asking for people to complain about you but if this business is staffed with a lot of young people they’re likely used to dealing with a pot luck of work eithics so its doubtful they jump straight to ‘fire him’ after every complaint.

      1. SophieChotek*

        I agree. Like others say, if they did get fired/reprimanded, it was on them–and it seems unlikely; in all the retail situations I’ve worked in, except for outright theft, it’s pretty darn hard to get fired (!) …need a pretty long trail of issues…
        Not to mention it must have been egregious enough for others to also call in.

    3. Stellaaaaa*

      In all honesty, those cashiers probably won’t even be spoken to. The checkout lines at places like Target and Walmart are always a mess and cutting is rampant – it’s the kind of thing that’s bound to happen when you have people buying one bottle of shampoo and people buying a week’s worth of groceries using the same checkout lines. There’s no such thing as “priority checkout” if you have a baby with you in Walmart – everyone in the grocery store has a kid with them. The store most likely has no policy for something like that and the cashiers will probably just lie and say that they didn’t notice people cutting the line, since it happens all the time.

    4. MoinMoin*

      If it was the first time the manager has ever had an issue with the employees it’s not likely they were fired over it (and if they were that’s more likely bad management). If it’s part of a larger pattern, maybe. But it’s not like you lied or created a huge fuss demanding they be fired or anything. You made a valid complaint. Regardless of outcome, you don’t have a reason to feel guilty.

    5. Lily in NYC*

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the person you spoke to was just telling you what she thought you wanted to hear. It seems like cashiers are often told not to confront line cutters (which is one of my biggest pet peeves). Then again, maybe this time is different because the cashier was actively helping people cut. But I doubt anyone will get fired – a warning at most.

      1. Stellaaaaa*

        Yeah, in places like Target and Walmart there’s actually a policy against confronting people who violate the “honor system” of the express line. The cashiers have to ring up the person who’s standing there no matter what.

        1. Rebecca Too*

          Right. This irritates me. Why have the “Express Lane: 12 Items or Less” sign if you won’t enforce it? I went to the grocery store on my lunch break to get a salad from the salad bar , I got in the self checkout Express Lane, and a woman with 43 (yep, I counted. ) items was in front of me. After I found another (shorter!) line, I asked the manager why they bother with the signs if they won’t enforce them, and she said “Actually, the sign is more of a suggestion.”

          1. Your opinion?*

            That would just have me annoyed, especially if it happens more than once. I would email corporate or the owner.

          2. EngineerInNL*

            I am the type of person that would probably call them out “oh you must have noticed the sign this is for 12 items and under only” but some people are shameless

          3. SophieChotek*

            That’s interesting…I’ve actually been called out by cashiers…I unintentionally wandered into the express lane of X items or less. To be fair, they checked me out, but they made me feel pretty bad in the process.

      2. Liane*

        Just like most other businesses, retailers generally have an escalating disciplinary process. So a one-off complaint, or even several in an evening, isn’t going to get someone fired, unless:
        -the employee already has a series of documented issues (same or different) in a given time period. At OldJob/Famed Retailer, it was a “verbal” warning, X written warnings in a rolling year, a final warning, then termination. OR
        -the one-off was really, really egregious. If one of them told you, “#$^%, if you’d just STFU and deal with the #$% lines, you’d’ve already been outta here, ” for example.

    6. LCL*

      I think reporting to the manager was the right thing to do. I think complaining to the other cashier was a waste of time.
      I don’t think your actions will cost anyone their job, but it will result in increased oversight for the cashier, who may indeed be fired. If he is taking extra steps to ensure he rings up his friends, odds are he is dirty. He isn’t ringing up everything, or ringing up at the wrong price, or doing the cash/credit refund scam. Or selling liquor to the underage group.

    7. Merida Ann*

      Even if they did get fired, YOU did not cost them their jobs. THEY cost themselves their own jobs by their behavior and attitude. You are not responsible for the way they acted towards you and you are not responsible for any consequences that come from their actions. You simply reported a situation that needed to be corrected and gave the business the opportunity to improve their services – whether by retraining those employees or whatever other response they take.

    8. Kyrielle*

      What the others said, but also, *other people also called to complain*.

      Whatever consequences land on those two are a) because of their actions and b) would have anyway, because you weren’t the only one to report the issue.

    9. Lo*

      I am you. I do this same sort of thing and then FREAK OUT that I may has cost someone their job. But I do want to focus you directly on something you said. Your coworker simply stated that they wanted someone fired! You talked to a conscientious and welcoming manager, who clearly cares about the client (you!). Hopefully this is a manager who then in turn cares about their staff–perhaps they will get spoken to, and perhaps they will get a warning, but hopefully this is a manager who understands that this is just a moment of major stress and thus the person you spoke to took it out on you (ick). It sucks, you did the right thing (subjective — but you did a good thing in that they DO NOT want to lose business and that’s the managers job to focus on), move on. Plant a tree and say something kind to someone, if you need to do good things to clear your conscience :D

      (seriously, that’s what I do when I need to)

    10. Isben Takes Tea*

      Also: *If* the manager deems this to be a fireable offence, THE CASHIERS GOT THEMSELVES FIRED.

      You cannot “cost” someone their job simply by telling the truth about *their own* inappropriate behavior. They cost themselves the job by behaving inappropriately.

    11. Your opinion?*

      Thanks for the support and confirmation I did the right thing.

      To clarify a few things… While Teapots is a chain store, we are located in a small town. This location relies on its reputation – we are close enough to a major city with more shopping options but far enough away that it is a trip to get to. I agree with some that this might be brushed under the rug or not even dealt with. However, the manager has been here for years and is known for running a tight ship. Based on past situations (with other customers) all feedback seems to be taken seriously.

      As for me and my post… At work the assignments I manage, I deal with a few people who manage their own teams. Team members might be helping me out for a day or so. I make sure to get to know the teams but I have nothing to do with them as a supervisor. My theory is everyone makes career mistakes and you learn from them. In my personal non-work life, I usually would just go with the flow with this type situation, but the “don’t care” attitudes from both cashiers had me fuming. In addition the cashiers were not high schoolers just learning the ropes, but a few years into the work force. This scenario was just out of the norm for me I kept second guessing myself.

      Overall Teapots is usually managed very well. I will continue shopping there…. Hopefully not having to deal with these cashiers though!

    12. Newby*

      All you did was inform them of a situation at the store that upset you. You did not demand any action in particular (other than I’m assuming a request that something change to prevent this from happening again). I had a friend that called to complain about wait time at a store once. They started to actually follow their policy to make sure that they had at least two cash registers open if the line exceeded three people. The problem was solved and I’m pretty sure no one was fired.

      1. Your opinion?*

        Thanks Newby! It just never occurred to me that firing someone would be an option. It’s an annoying issue but just needs to be dealt with.

    13. really*

      I actually ended up getting an employee at a local grocery fired without actually talking to anyone any management. He was bagging and talking to the cashier. No problem except for the curse words. On my way out I told him that he should be careful of his language because it was inappropriate and could get him into trouble. In the parking lot a manger stopped my to ask about what had happened and I explained. Turned out this employee had been told on more than one occasion that his language was out of line. This was the last straw and they fired him. So if any one got fired it most likely was not because of this one incident.

    14. Observer*

      I would be very surprised if anyone got fired. But, you did the right thing – this is the kind of thing that can cost a business money, and just not right for customers.

      If the cashier at the nutritionist station is actually the one who people consult, you can be sure that they are not firing him just for this one incident – it’s too costly.

    15. The Rat-Catcher*

      In customer service, complaints are unlikely to result in an instant firing unless they are of certain egregious nature (think sexual harassment, racial slurs directed at customers, etc). They may not even address it; if they do, it will likely not be in a formal setting. If this is part of a pattern of behavior for an employee, then yes, maybe some action will be taken – but that’s because of the pattern, not this one instance. Managers have a legitimate business need to know when their employees act this way.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      Some retailers are harsh. Some fire immediately for stuff like this. I think the worst retailers are the ones who torment the employee over the complaint for months on end. “Remember 5 months ago that lady complained about you? So now you are not going to get your vacation time/raise/etc.” ugh. I’d rather be fired than listen to that garbage.

      I think it is wise going forward to realize that it is possible to get people fired when a complaint is filed, even for very slight transgressions.

      That said, you did the right thing. This was not something that impacted just you, had you not reported it, probably someone else might have.

      But going into your concern, IF this person did get fired, hopefully they learned from their mistake. While it’s good that you don’t want people getting fired, in the end it’s the boss’ judgement call as to what happens next. And that is not under your control, no matter how vehemently you stress your concern that the person does not get fired.

      I just reported someone this week. Failure to tighten the lug bolts on my new tires. I could have been killed. I have no interest in getting the person fired. But if they do get fired, then so be it. It’s the boss’ call.

  16. margarets*

    I posted last week about having suicidal thoughts about my job search. At least one commenter here asked for an update this week, so here it is.

    I’m doing a lot better thanks to the replies I got, and a bit of a lucky break. There was a networking meeting for people in my field this week, and the topic was resumes and jobsearching. The guest speaker part was very bad – just generic advice and blank looks when asked more nuanced questions. But one she left and people could really talk, out came the war stories. Rudeness in interviews even came up, without any prompting from me. (One woman was told in an interview that her 1.5 page resume was too long and the interviewer had not wanted to meet her but his HR department insisted.) The job market in my field is challenging but not disastrous right now, and because it’s a niche quite a bit of the job market is “hidden”.

    Nearly everyone was concerned that other factors were hindering their job search, like being the wrong race, gender, age, nationality, etc. or having the wrong “look” – and it was a very diverse group! The guest speaker strongly emphasized the importance of “fit” with the culture of any organization, weirdly sort of placing the blame on jobseekers for applying to places where they won’t fit in. That didn’t go over well. I could go on a long rant about how if employers are ultimately basing their decisions on personal preferences, gut feelings and superficial qualities, then society has got to lay off hassling jobseekers about their resume format, cover-letter phrasing, handshakes, etc.

    Right now there are a couple promising postings so I’m working on my applications for that.

    1. FishCakesHurrah*

      Job searching for 13 months was one of the most demoralizing and crushing experiences of my life. You have my sympathies. I agree that it feels like a big pile of BS sometimes.

      1. margarets*

        Thanks. It helps to know that even a long search can end up with a good result. I definitely feel that social pressure that your “success” is not only measured by the job you get, but how fast.

    2. kbeers0su*

      Glad you’re feeling better this week! Hearing other people’s horror stories is nice because it can make you feel less crazy…but it doesn’t necessarily give you confidence in the process given how many horror stories are out there. Kind of a catch 22… But take care of yourself and good luck!

    3. Alton*

      I’m glad you had the opportunity to commiserate with other people who have been struggling. It can help sometimes to see that it’s not just you. I wish you the best of luck.

      I was job hunting for two years at one point, and I can relate to how it wears down your confidence and can make you feel like you lack options. I struggled with some suicidal thoughts, too.

      Please take care of yourself. Job hunting is demoralizing, but it doesn’t determine your worth.

    4. Bad Candidate*

      I’m glad you’re feeling better. Someone once told me I should write a book about my job search, given it’s length. I said that would be the most depressing book ever written! LOL But maybe at least it would help people feel validated that it’s not just them.

    5. Yorick*

      I’m glad you’re feeling better. Keep your head up. I was job searching in academia for years and it was extremely demoralizing. I finally ended up outside of academia. My job is really great, I think it’s much better than the academic jobs I wasn’t getting. But I wouldn’t have applied for it if it hadn’t been year 4.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, I am glad you mentioned that everyone has something that they feel is holding them back. One of the reasons I like reading here is Alison’s advice helps to over come some of that.

      Keep reading here where the GOOD job hunting advice is. You may want to consider abandoning “those OTHER” job advice places on the net and in real life. It’s too confusing, depressing and DIS-empowering. Yep, the advice is so bad, it takes away our power to determine our course in life. Seek out advice that is pro-active and tells you what you CAN do to help yourself. Advice such as, “make sure you are wearing the correct color socks” is not going to help and it WILL distract you from what is actually important.

      Sending good vibes your way. Let us know how it’s going for you.

      1. MSquared*

        Just want to say that I’m in the same boat – been applying for positions for 8 months now and getting absolutely nowhere despite my strong resume, experience, and educational background. It’s been causing a spike in my depression ever since and yes, I have been suicidal at times. I at least have a job right now but I absolutely hate it and it’s really demoralizing that I’m stuck and despite actively applying for jobs I can’t get out.

        1. margarets*

          Had to respond to this because I’m basically you, only I haven’t been looking as long. It’s HARD. Last week I wrote something along the lines that I didn’t want jobhunting advice, I wanted to someone to affirm that “this situation is a meat grinder and that’s why you feel bad”. And in some ways it’s harder when you’re already doing everything right (“right”), because then where do you go? You might find it worthwhile to look up my post on last week’s open thread because there were some very insightful replies. From a fellow job-seeker: Hang in there. Solidarity!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Keep reading here, MSquared. It’s different here. It can help with your outlook on your setting.

      2. margarets*

        Yes, I must seriously limit the amount of time I spend on jobsearch advice sites and forums, and just generally compartmentalize my jobsearch. It tends to feed anxiety and fear more than help.

    7. SeekingBetter*

      I’m happy to hear you’re feeling better this week. Hope you hear back from the promising postings!

    8. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

      Thanks for your update. I’m glad to hear that the networking meeting was encouraging. I’m also glad that your depression has lifted somewhat.

      Yes,a job search can be enormously discouraging–as well as demoralizing, depressing, and dreadfully hard on one’s self-image. One of the ways to defeat this downward spiral is to find ways to make the experience encouraging, uplifting, cheerful, and good for one’s self-image. This doesn’t mean losing touch with reality. It means learning how to sustain a positive outlook in the middle of the stress and uncertainty.

      I was away from email this past weekend, which is why this response comes so late.
      Continue to apply to promising postings and to take good care of yourself.
      Good vibes: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  17. Elle*

    Question: how much does your university grades matter in terms of strengthening your candidacy, and should one bother making a point about any of it?

    (Obviously I’m only talking about professions that require a relevant degree, I know that in many sectors this sort of issue won’t come up at all.)

    For instance (this is UK-based, but I’m sure there’s an equivalent system in the US), if someone graduates with first class honours (assuming it’s a good degree from a reputable institution etc.), it’ll probably stand out on a resume. But if you get a 2:1, is it even worth listing? I’ve heard people basically say that anything below that is worthless, so maybe you’d want to differentiate yourself from that? Similarly with postgrad grades, if you get anything short of a distinction, is it even worth mentioning (would listing a merit grade be like saying: ‘look at me, I’m average’)?

    The reason I ask is because I’ve been debating this issue a bit – in that, how much time/effort should one put into university. If there’s a student who is obviously bright, and can put in a moderate amount of effort to get grades in the ‘2:1’ range, but could presumably get a first if they really dedicated themselves, should they be pushed to do so? If they instead choose to spend time doing more leisure activities – and generally enjoy their university experience more – how much would that potentially hurt them later in the job market?

    1. RavensandOwls*

      Interestingly, I’m an alum from a university that doesn’t do grades, but instead gives written student evaluations at the end of each semester for classes you’re enrolled in. I’ve never once had anyone inquire about it, even though I state that I could furnish evaluations should they want them.

      Similarly, for my two graduate schools, my GPA was excellent. Same story as above – it hasn’t seemed to make much difference at all.

    2. Forecast:Sunshine*

      I may be an outlier, but honestly, I feel like when you’re in school, it’s a job and you should be doing your best at it. If you are making Bs without putting much effort into it, but could be making As if you worked a little harder, I feel like you should push yourself to try to get the As. And it’s mostly just for the principle of the thing, but then again, I am a perfectionist and feel like if you’re not even going to try to do your best then what’s the point of doing it at all.

      The grades may not matter when you’re out in the “real world”, but if you develop a habit of just doing enough to get by in school, I can easily see that transferring over to work. And while that may be fine and good, it’s definitely not an attitude that’s going to make you stand out to your employers. If you don’t care about standing out, then carry on. But if you ever hope to move up or take on additional responsibilities or get paid more, you have to put in more than just “good enough”.

      1. PersistentCat*

        My problem with the general idea that “school is your job” is that school has never been my job. I’ve dropped more classes or ended up failing due to work/school conflicts with a job with lumpy demand cycles or mandatory OT announced well into the quarter that is a direct issue with my class times.

        I mean, it’s great in theory, but when your job pays your tuition AND rent, food, medical, and so forth–well, then school really ISN’T every student’s job.

      2. Yorick*

        You should be learning and acquiring new skills while in school. That means you might not be doing well if you’re getting an easy B. On the other hand, that means you could be doing ok if you’re getting a C in something that you used to be really bad at.

        GPA matters in school because it can keep you from graduating or qualifying for aid. After college, GPA doesn’t matter much at all. Of course, when you’re still early in your career, you may need references from professors, so you need to be performing well enough that they can provide you with a strong reference.

      3. TL -*

        Yeah, I don’t agree with that. I pulled mostly Bs – not because I couldn’t get As, but because to get As, I’d have to have spent a lot more time memorizing than I really wanted to; my memory for details is not good.

        But on the other hand, I learned a lot from my classes, I’m still able to pull and apply concepts I learned into my job – which is directly related to my major – and it gave me a great base to build and specialize from. There was more than one time where I retained information from a class that someone with a better grade didn’t.

        So – did I do my job at school poorly, because I didn’t get a 4.0 (which would have been nigh on impossible given the way my department was set up) or did I do it really well, because I learned what I was supposed to in a very real, meaningful, and applicable way?

      4. AcademiaNut*

        I think it matters a lot what your goals are.

        If you want scholarships, or are even thinking of going to graduate school, then the higher the better as far as grades are, and grades in your major matter more than electives or breadth requirements. I’ve seen students get caught by this – they decide in their final year that they want to go to grad school, not realizing that with a B- average they’re not going to get into any program worth doing, and their desired research career is a non-starter.

        On the other hand, from an employment perspective, I don’t think I’ve seen a systematic difference between someone who was a top student and an okay but not fantastic student. Part of it is that the grades don’t tell you effort – someone who is coasting on Bs when they could get As with effort will have the same transcript as someone who worked hard to get Bs. I’ve actually noticed that the very top students – straight A types – tend to have particular difficulties transitioning to the work world, which operates in a very different way. Going from being a top student to a smart, hard working, but very junior employee, and not getting regular gold-star feed back can be a hard transition.

        Sometimes the effort required to go from Bs to As is not actually an advantage translated into the work world. In university, the expectation is that you will work as hard and long as needed to get the grades, and then fall over in the between term vacations (also that you’re young and able to do nasty things to your sleep schedule without much effort). In the work world, you need to pace yourself to avoid burnout, sometimes with minimal vacation. And sometimes you need to produce work that’s good enough and move to the next thing, rather than working until midnight for a week to go from good enough to perfect. Or you job doesn’t permit overtime, for that matter.

        There’s also lifestyle choices. The contented B student coaster may well decide to go for jobs that they can work conscientiously at, do a good job, and go home at 5. The driven A student may go for the type of career that consumes your life.

        My brother is a successful engineer who made the decision in undergraduate to get decent grades, but not push for As, and to concentrate on the practical aspects of the degree, rather than memorization. He recognized that the work he would need to do to get As would not be relevant to his career, as he had no interest in going to grad school, and what would really count was job performance and his professional certification.

    3. irritable vowel*

      There’s a saying in the US that once you hang your diploma on the wall, no one will know if you graduated first in your class or last from Harvard Medical School (this is mostly about doctors but can be interpreted more broadly). In this country people tend to focus only on where you went to university, not what honors you earned. We have summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude designations based on grade point average, but they are not given anywhere near the same kind of importance as the level of degree in the UK. It’s not something that really translates. I wonder, though, if what is similar is that your degree level is something that really only matters in the first few years after graduation. I would not expect someone from the UK to still be listing “first class honours” on their resume if they earned their degree 15 years ago, just like I wouldn’t expect someone in the US to say “magna cum laude.” How well you did in school sharply decreases in importance as you gain work experience, because that’s what employers are more interested. So, to answer your question, I think the grades might be more important to getting your first job, but not necessarily beyond that.

    4. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      Unless you graduated with honors (in the US, it’d be cum laude, or magna/summa cum laude) don’t even bother. The degree is what matters. Very new graduates sometimes feel the need to put their GPAs on their resume, and it comes of as clueless, like they haven’t gotten the memo that they’ve graduated and nobody cares if they’re on the dean’s list anymore.

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        I don’t think it’s clueless for new grads to leave the GPA on. Whenever I left my GPA off of my resume, I was asked what it was anyway- it’s very common to be questioned on it. A lot of companies (mostly really big ones, IME) have GPA minimums for internships and entry level jobs as well.

        I went to a school notorious for being very difficult and having a low average GPA, so I left my (relatively high) GPA on. When looked at in combination with with leadership in extracurriculars and multiple research positions and part time jobs, it looked good. Maybe not the only reason I got my job, but having evidence of strong academic performance didn’t hurt.

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          Disagree almost entirely, speaking as a hiring manager in a highly technical, scientific field. If you’re applying for an internship or job where GPA is specifically asked for, I’d include it of course, but it looks clueless to me in most circumstances. You’re welcome to second-guess that if you wish.

          1. College Career Counselor*

            There are entry level jobs in fields that definitely require applicants to put their GPA on the resume (consulting and finance come to mind–for some finance firms, I’ve seen them ask for SAT scores!). Generally, that’s an industry-specific thing (I’ve never heard of a nonprofit asking for a threshold GPA–although I’m sure there’s one out there doing it), and you likely wouldn’t leave GPA on the resume after you’d had your first job, I wouldn’t think.

            1. Emilia Bedelia*

              Exactly- I’m speaking from my experience applying to engineering entry level positions. I saw GPA minimums on many, many job descriptions. I even got interrogated about my GPA at several interviews (“Can you explain your GPA? Was it one hard class in particular that pulled it down, or more like a consistent pattern?” I don’t know, my school is hard and a B+/A- average is not that bad?)

              After the 1st job it doesn’t matter, but for entry level, it’s often requested.

      2. blackcat*

        I try to this to tell my students who are constantly freaking out about grades (“If I get a C in this class, I’ll never get a job with [specific, big name company]!! I can’t get a C!”).

        They don’t believe me. I wish they did. It would make their college experience a lot better. I get the pre-med students’ obsession with grades, but the ones who just want a job at the end of college? Nope. I do not understand.

        And I don’t have the heart to break it to some of them that if they really wanted that job, the issue is not their grades but where they are going to school. I want to Fancy Pantsy school. I have acquaintances working at Goldman Sachs and similar. A lot of them got shit-faced every weekend and were among the worst students. GPA didn’t matter. Name brand of college mattered, along with the connections provided by that name brand. And that ship already sailed for these kids.

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          Yep. It’s really jarring to be striving for grades, grades, grades for twelve years, always “I need GPA X to achieve Goal Y” and then….poof! You just have to pass in good standing for most jobs.

          Even getting into grad school didn’t hinge on grades – in my particular field. I had something like a 3.8, nothing special, but a ton of field and lab research experience and a clear idea of my research goals. I hadn’t even taken the GRE yet, and my adviser was like, eh, you’re in.

          1. blackcat*

            Yeah, med school and vet school require high GPAs, but that’s really about it. A *bad* GPA is a problem for many grad schools, but a single C isn’t going to cause that.

            And these students don’t believe me. At all.

            1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

              I also adore how they’re like, “I can’t get a C in your class, professor NotMad!” And I’m like….”that would be in your wheelhouse, kiddo, so best knock the final paper out of the park.” What are they thinking, that I’m willing to overlook five weeks of solid 7/10s on lab reports and a 72% on the first exam?

              1. Yippp*

                I cried my way into a B in economics. I am not proud of it, but I was on a scholarship that demanded I maintain As and Bs. I am not good at math. Economics was absolutely required. I think the Bs began at 85% and I had an 84%. I got my B and I never got close to a C again the two years I had that scholarship.

            2. TL -*

              Also, being a good student does not make you a good researcher. They’re two very different skills, so stringent GPA requirements for grad school are more of a luxury for programs who have way too many applicants and need some way to parse.

              Test taking is a really important skill for doctors, though.

      3. Alton*

        Though I think some new grads do overestimate how much grades matter, I also think that a lot of people have a really hard time figuring out how to market themselves when they don’t have a lot of career experience. Though plenty of students work, a lot of times they may only have part-time retail gigs and things like that, and while plenty of employers like seeing that sort of experience, it can be hard to tell if it’s enough. School is often the primary means for young people to demonstrate their skills and drive, but it can be hard to figure out how to translate some of that to resume-appropriate bullet points.

      4. CheeryO*

        Maybe it’s regional? Our giant local state school definitely tells engineering grads to list their GPA if it’s over 3.0, and a lot of companies around here won’t interview someone with a GPA below 3.3 or 3.5. I don’t hire, but I help with career outreach for my agency and have seen a ton of resumes from recent grads, and almost all of them list their GPA. We tend to assume that it isn’t good if it’s not listed… it isn’t the most important factor for us, but it’s definitely a consideration.

    5. fposte*

      I’d like to hear somebody from the UK chime in here, because I do hear more about what degree you graduated with in the UK.

      1. caledonia*

        It varies even within the UK as Scotland do a 4 year undergrad degree but RUK (rest of UK) tend to offer 3 year ones. The reason is, I think, one of flexibility and that the Scottish education system is different to RUK, our students go to uni for 17+.

        Anyway, in Scotland you can graduate with an Ordinary/pass (3 year degree), a 3rd, a 2:2 (aka a “Desmond” – Desmond Tutu) 2:1 or a 1st. A good honours degree is classed as a 2:1 or a 1st.

      2. TeaLady*

        In the coded language of recruitment ads, employers who ask for a “good” honours degree are expecting a First or a 2:1 so in those cases I would definitely put the classification down on my CV. Oh, and they are probably wanting someone from a Russell Group university and a “traditional” subject.

        For further study ( eg MA or PhD) you are unlikely to be accepted with a degree lower than a good 2.1

      3. Goreygal*

        It’s common in my industry to list your degree in your signature as it identifies that you have a very specific industry qualification (this is a secondary degree BTW; you have to have a primary degree as an entry level requirement for the second degree). You would qualify in the signature if you had an “honors” degree but not the number one person might sign “BSc. (Hons) Teapot Making” and another “BSc. Teapot Making”. From what I understand this is industry specific though

    6. Parenthetically*

      Nah, there’s no point in mentioning it. In the ~15 years since I graduated from uni, no one’s ever looked at or asked about my grades. I made it, I got my degree, it wasn’t any great shakes but I did fine. I’d never put my grade point average on a resume.

      I’m a teacher, and I tell my students all the time that they need to learn to prioritize and make their own choices, and then be content with the outcomes. I want them to work hard, but if they’re happy to get middling grades so they can get more sleep or time with their friends or opportunities to work on their hobbies, who am I to tell them to stay up later or become a hermit or give up all their side activities just to reach a particular number? We can talk about the benefits of pushing a little harder in high school for the sake of getting into better universities, or to get some academic scholarships, but once someone’s at uni and is legally an adult, I think it’s just as important to learn to decide which classes actually merit putting extra effort into and which don’t.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        I got an okay but not great GPA. I also had a resume full of field and lab work, three minors, membership in a few service organizations, and spent much of my free time climbing, working search and rescue, and cooking. I think it helped more than eking out that extra 0.3%.

        1. TL -*

          You had a 3.8 from above, right?

          In my school’s biology department (and the chemistry, I think), that’s an *excellent* GPA. The highest I ever heard of was a 3.875 and that was only the one person. Nobody got a 4.0 (it wasn’t really possible with our setup.) A 3.5 was good, a 3.0 was okay, nothing special. On the other hand, some really highly ranked schools grade inflate, so graduating with a low GPA reflects quite badly upon you, but a high GPA is nothing special.

          Without knowing the school’s grading style, the GPA is, at best, a rough metric of how well a student tests.

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            It was a biology department, from a school not known for it but with a decent program. It was quite possible to get a 4.0, but it seemed like the delta between how hard I worked and how hard they worked was enormous.

            But my secret weapon is that I’m a great test taker.

    7. Becks*

      Longtime lurker, first time commenting! I’m an American who moved to the UK a few years ago and can confirm that it is quite different from the US. Degree classifications do matter quite a bit here — there are plenty of graduate level jobs which specify that only graduates from Russell Group universities with a 2:1 or above will be considered. Most job applications will ask you for your degree classification, and often certificates to prove it (even well into your career). So while it might be possible to leave it off your CV, they’ll find out either way. It is true that anything lower than a 2:1 isn’t really considered anything to be proud of.

      I completely sympathise with wanting to spend more time on leisure activities and less on studying, and I think it is likely to lead to a more fun university experience overall, but there are a couple things to keep in mind:

      1. If you’re going to be applying for competitive graduate schemes (or pretty much any graduate scheme in the current market), you will be up against candidates who received firsts, participated in lots of societies and did internships. If your goal is to get into one of these, you will have to ensure that you have similar experiences. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get hired with a 2:1 — particularly if you’re at a really prestigious university — but it does mean that you’re going to be filling in more applications and experiencing more disappointments.

      2. Leisure activities can count for a lot, depending on what they are! If you join a society in your first year and work your way into a leadership role, with some specific accomplishments that you can describe in job applications, that can look fantastic when you apply to jobs. To be really competitive, though, you’d still want to build in some work experience.

      3. If you’re considering postgraduate study, top universities increasingly require a 2:1. If you have a first, increasingly you’ll be automatically accepted, whereas with a 2:1 you start competing against other applicants (this varies widely by programme and university though. There are plenty of courses that are desperate for applicants and are willing to bend their rules).

      4. Your lecturers, who will be writing many of your first references, LOVE students who take their studies seriously (often regardless of your overall marks). We will remember you and be able to write you something awesome when the time comes, as opposed to something positive but generic.

      Obviously this is my own experience and my own impressions, so I’d be curious to know if other UK-based types have found the same thing.

      TL;DR No, a 2:1 isn’t the end of the world. But a first class degree will open more doors.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        I also get the impression that a 2:1 from anything non Russell Group isn’t exactly setting the world on fire, but can depend on the employer and is usually the base minimum for anything.

        I was involved in the hiring aspect for our grad scheme last summer and you could tell a marked difference between the RG candidates’ capabilities/polish and those from former polys/new unis, even if they had a similar course and grade. We didn’t have specification for Oxbridge grads and were open to anyone with the minimum qualifications (2:1) , but as a non-Brit with no major preconceptions about uni quality, it really was interesting to see first hand.

        Finally, one of the candidates we hired stood out because she could relate experiences gained in her gap year and societies stuff to questions we asked about leadership and working with difficult people. Get those extracurriculars – she was already impressive with her sample work but being able to bridge the gap between uni and work world with that experience really pushed her over the top. I think in the UK where it doesn’t seem as though there is as much focus on working during school as in the US this is even more important.

        1. Lord of the Ringbinders*

          My almer mater is a member of the Russell Group now but wasn’t when I went there. However, I’ve never worked in a field where anyone would care. I do think some of the ex-poly institutions aren’t great (and I say this having been a visiting lecturer at a few in a previous career) but I also worked part-time for one that was utterly terrific. We even had a student transfer from Oxford as we had a better expert in their subject.

          1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

            Yeah, I work with a lot of international folks who think Oxbridge is the only thing that matters. Its really naive, like insisting on Harvard for no good reason. But… its definitely Old Boy’s network in my line of work (strategy consulting) and everyone wears cufflinks with their college crest on it. Actually rather nauseating if you think of it – some 4o year old man associating with where he went to school at 16. I would almost say that has even more pull than uni if you did Winchester/Harrow/Eton etc. level because OBVIOUSLY you went to Oxbridge. *eye roll*

            I’ve made a move to something parallel to what I was doing so now I am out of the direct line of fire of these types and into an area where folks are a bit more relaxed about what school you went to and its all a bit more democratic. A bit.

      2. TheReluctantOtter*

        This is excellent advice!

        Re point 3 – you can get into postgraduate (masters) with a 2:2 and IF you graduate the MSc. with distinction you will then be eligible for a funded PhD. Although it’s possible this is field specific.

        The UK does seem to be different from the US regarding graduating grade. I was asked for my BSc. grade (2:1) on a recent lab application and I graduated in 2004.

    8. Newby*

      I think it depends on what else you have done. If you never had a job, then it might make a difference. Once you get that first job, I don’t think anyone cares (unless they ask). “Leisure activities” probably don’t matter, but if you are using the time productively (like an internship or other relevant work experience) it can matter more than your GPA. If you are applying for graduate or professional school, then obviously it is different.

    9. TheLazyB*

      Dunno if it’s still true, but when I was at uni in the 90s a 2:1 was basically what to aim for, unless you wanted an academic career, because with a first most jobs would assume you’d go into academia soon.

      Saw a job recently that required 2:2 or above so it’s basically just a 3rd that’s not really worth bothering putting on your application.

      1. caledonia*

        Well you have people with degrees who pre-date honours for one thing or people like me who have studied part time. I am going to end up with a 2:2 or lower but eff that noise, I have done it whilst working for the last 7 years. Anyone who says that isn’t worth anything doesn’t deserve me as an employee.

      2. JaneB*

        ir depends on your age too. These days 70-85% of students get s 2:1 or 1 at most unis in the UK, and there are many more graduates than there were even 20 years ago, so a 2:2 or 3rd is increasingly a problem outside of the “name brand elite” and even then it depends on the employer. Given the fees etc I think not doing as well as you can is really stupid and a waste of everyone’s time and energy, but I wouldn’t say that to a student – they are adults who get to make choices that look stupid to me.

    10. Iris Carpenter*

      I know that the UK company I work for does not recruit if the degree grade is 2:ii or below. Other UK places step up your starting salary according to the degree grade.

      Unfairly, many people look at the grade, and put you in a box accordingly:
      1st – Achiever,
      2:i – Competent,
      2:ii – Just about good enough,
      3rd – Below par.
      I emphasize this is unfair, but which box do you want to be in?

      This touches on “Why are you doing the degree in the first place?”. If it is strongly related to your desired career, why do you not want do do as well as possible? Especially given the costs.

      1. caledonia*

        I’ve been an admin for 5 years and my degree will be Humanities. For me, those two things aren’t related and my degree has no bearing on how well I can do my job. If I get a 3rd but am a great admin, that suddenly means “I’m below par”? As with everything, some common sense should be applied.

        1. JaneB*

          Yes, but much of the discussion is about that first few years before people have a solid track record of performance in any professional sphere other than as a student – it’s not fair in all cases, but faced with a lot of applicants, it’s an easy and “safe” way to start making decisions, especially at lower levels where applicant numbers can be huge (also in my experience, considering full time students not part time matures, the vast majority of 2:2 and 3 students are either very poor at following instructions and turning up to class so do badly that way, or have well below average communication skills and aren’t taking advantage of all the help there is to address that – so they may be smart underneath that, but they aren’t terribly employable from the evidence the university can see. Now some will happily say uni is low on their priority list… but if that’s true why are they taking out substantial loans etc? Not logical.. go part time, take a break, do the things you do care about… life is too short to waste like that!

          1. Lord of the Ringbinders*

            …or have struggled in some other way and haven’t realised there is help there. I completely understand that has been your experience but it’s important to remember there’s sometimes more of a story behind it.

            I almost, almost got a 2:2. I had an undiagnosed chronic illness, undiagnosed mental health problems largely caused by childhood abuse – and an abusive boyfriend. I was on the borderline and was very lucky that they decided to give me a 2:1. I went on to do a postgrad and only narrowly missed a distinction. When I went back years later to retrain I got the highest 1st in my year.

            Whereas my husband got a 2:2 because he blew off one of his exams!

  18. Anon for once*

    I do marketing for a software company. Part of my job includes release information for new versions of the software. I’m not a developer, so I get my info from an SME (they give me ticket numbers and I look up/read the tickets), and then I have the development team’s tech writer review my notes on focus points. Then I create materials for Boss and Grandboss to review.

    This time around, tech writer was too busy to review before my deadline, so I had also SME check over my notes. All good, making materials. Then boss was too busy to review the materials and told me just to send to Grandboss. Okay, fine…

    Well, some info was wrong. I had a couple items that are no longer part of this release, AND something that was old (a small item from a release prior to my start, I didn’t know this feature existed). I don’t know what happened with the first items, but for the old one, it looks like I got the wrong ticket number.

    Now I have to meet with Grandboss in an hour to go over my release-prep process (and go over this release).

    1. Anon for once*

      I know there were a lot of factors here, but it is MY job to make sure this stuff is accurate, and I don’t want to be making excuses. Am I overreacting to be super nervous? I don’t really know what to say about why it was wrong. And I feel whiny/blamey to say “well, SME gave it to me, and I didn’t question their numbers. Then I made my notes and Writer and Boss were too busy to review. So I asked SME again and they said they were fine.”

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        So it sounds like you have a process that works well, but this particular release didn’t stick to the process due to other people’s availability. So focus on, what could/can you do differently if this scenario happens again?

      2. ten-four*

        Blergh, what a pain! You can follow the lead of the person calling the meeting, and I think if you present it as: this is the flow of what happened; how would you like me to handle it next time so that I catch issues sooner? That’s not whiny, it’s practical. You can also go in with your own ideas about how to manage it too. For example: is it possible for you to check the product road map for features in a release? Can the product owner be a backstop SME? Stuff like that.

        Assuming this isn’t part of a larger pattern I wouldn’t be SUPER nervous; just plan on using the time to get valuable feedback about how to do your job better. Good luck!

        1. Anon for once*

          Thanks Persephone and ten-four!

          That’s true, I haven’t run into this situation before, and it probably IS good to have a plan for when everyone is on deadline (and not available to help me meet my deadlines).

          Depending on how the conversation goes, I plan to work with Grandboss to create a plan for first/second tier reviewers if Writer and Boss can’t…

          We’ll see. I’ll report back after.

    2. Stellaaaaa*

      Tell him that you had your part of the project done by the deadline, X date but that the tech writer STILL has not gotten back to you with the necessary edits so you decided to just submit what you had.

      1. Anon for once*

        Writer told me right away they didn’t have time to review this week; so I asked SME and then told Writer “no worries, I have a sub reviewer.”

        So this is true, but also not… like my process was thrown, but I thought I covered OK.

        I’m planning on focusing on what my backup plan for review should be if that happens again (this was the first time in a couple years we had this happen!).

        1. turquoisecow*

          Yeah, it sounds like you need multiple reviewers.

          In the jobs that I’ve had, where something needed to be reviewed before being released to the public or an audience, at least two, if not three people reviewed it – and reviewed it carefully, rather than simply glancing at it and initialing. If those people were not able to review it, it didn’t go out, or some other person reviewed it. In your case, if the tech writer is not able to review it, it sounds like someone else needs to look at it, and someone who has the knowledge required.

          Not saying there’s anything you personally could have done differently here, but your company process needs some work.

    3. Someone*

      It sounds like the tech writer is in the role of tracking what really went in the release and what didn’t while the SME is not as aware of that. That’s standard based on their roles. You need a backup reviewer for overall features if the writer is busy or your bosses need to hash out what the writer’s priorities are. Product management would also be a potential reviewer for final feature set.

    4. Anon for once*

      The meeting went really well!

      Grandboss (who is the PO) was concerned because we haven’t had any issues before, and really they just wanted to know what happened.

      Apparently, the person before me used to meet with the product team meet for a couple hours every month to go over features, and Grandboss is really appreciative that I’ve learned to follow the development team’s sprints and get the info myself.

      So the solution is: I get my own flag for Dev tickets (basically a “include in Comm” flag for me to filter by), so I won’t need to skim/guess myself or have the SME do it – Grandboss will flag the tickets as they hit their queue.

      1. Ama*

        That is excellent! You have a good Grandboss, sounds like. I’m always appreciative when higher-ups recognize the need to give employees the ability to get around process bottlenecks.

        1. Anon for once*

          I do! I didn’t even make a big deal of the bottleneck (even though it’s been a huge pain point for me since I started), and they picked up on it. Excellent!

  19. SaviourSelf*

    I am looking to move on from my current position but would really like to move to the Denver, CO area. I currently live on the East Coast. Job searching cross-country SUCKS!

    Any suggestions for how to make it better?

    I would rather not move before finding a job as I currently have a decent-paying job and it is tolerable.

    1. RavensandOwls*

      I’m in the boat of my spouse getting a job out of state and my having to find a position as soon as possible to moving. It’s not fun. What seems to have helped a little bit over the last time I did it is explicitly stating when I will be in the area (i.e., “Moving to X, starting Y”) and making it clear that I don’t need relocation assistance. Not sure how it would be going otherwise, however.

      1. checkin in*

        I am in the same boat as you and I tried that but the problem is 99% on online job applications want you to fill in your address. I was putting that same info in my cover letter and on my resume but because I still had to put my current address in the application so they never bothered to even look!!! I didn’t get a single call for an interview until we had our address set and I was able to put that on my forms. Then all of a sudden I got about 6 phone interviews in two weeks. Just another reason why I hate the online application process so damn much.

        1. RavensandOwls*

          Yeah… we’re going to CA next week to nail down where we’re living and I’m thinking that will help a great deal. I also have been using the line 2 section to say, “Moving to X at the end of March!” and made that clear on my linkedin and website, too.

          This gives me hope, however, that as soon as we have a local address, I can get a few more calls.

        2. turquoisecow*

          i hate those forms. They take so long to fill out, basically include everything that’s in your resume, and don’t give you any room for explanation.

    2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      Criminy, you and the entire rest of the country, it seems like. No personal offense to you, but I do wish people would find some other cool places to move while we maybe widen a few interstates and figure out where we’re going to store all of you.

      Anyway. What’s your industry? Is it something you could telecommute with?

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        LOL. I live in Denver too. It’s all a matter of perception, though. When I got married, my best friend from high school was my maid of honor. She still lives in southern CA, which is where we went to school. She and her husband came out here for the wedding and commented on all the “wide open space” we have.

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          Yeah, it’s nuts. I’ve owned a home for 5 years (and thank heavens I bought then) and a rental property that I have on AirBnB, and the latter literally pays for the former.

          1. Ann Furthermore*

            We bought our house 5 years ago too, and I’m so relieved we decided to move to another area of town. We love our house, the area, and our neighbors. There is no way we could afford it in today’s market though.

            1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

              Whereabouts do you live, generally? We’re near the Berkeley Park area and love it.

              1. Ann Furthermore*

                Highlands Ranch. For years I looked down my nose at it as being full of vanilla, white-bread, cookie-cutter yuppies. But I love it here, which must mean that I myself and a vanilla, white-bread, cookie-cutter yuppie. LOL. It’s a great place for kids — if we didn’t have children, I’m sure we would have ended up somewhere else.

      2. NaoNao*

        I’m in Denver too! *waves across vast oceans of people*. I also wish people would check out California or something rather than moving here and:
        creating more traffic
        driving rent costs up and up and up and up
        changing the culture and vibe of the city/suburbs

        But you, poster, you personally are okay :)

        But the silver lining is that with more new people, maybe one or two of them won’t be the “outdoorsy” type and more of “my” people will be here? Hoping!

        1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

          California – ALL parts – are so dang expensive. And it is the expenses you don’t know about that get you. There are parts of the state that are really reasonable as far as housing, but the job market isn’t very strong there, gas is wayyy up, and, seriously, state taxes SUCK. Property tax surprises, water bill surprises, etc.

    3. Anon4Now*

      This is what worked for us. Five years ago, my spouse and I moved to Denver, CO. My spouse put an add on craigslist (among other things) for a job and he was contacted by 3 recruiters. 1 worked out and he got a job offer. We had 4 weeks to move to Denver. We stayed in a extended stay hotel for about 3 weeks and then moved to a rental/condo.
      So I recommend a recruiter.

    4. Zombeyonce*

      Is your job one that is able to be done remotely? If you’ve proven yourself there, you might be able to convince them to let you become a remote worker. I managed to do this years ago with a company I had been with for 2 years. They liked me and wanted me to stay, but I hated the area and just couldn’t live there anymore. I decided that, come hell or water, I was going to move. But I still needed a job and as you said, long-distance job searching is difficult.

      I put together a presentation with plenty of data on why I could be even more productive as a remote employee (no distractions equals more productivity) plus they’d save money on office space (which was in high demand at that time). It took me 2 months to convince the various levels of management, but they finally approved it and I got to move and keep my job at the same time.

    5. Sally*

      Unsolicited advice, but be sure, if you get a job in Denver, that it will pay for the ever-rising cost of living here. Salaries don’t go as far as you might think, not just in Denver but all along the Front Range. Housing for renters and buyers is limited and quite pricey (and developments tend to aim for the top of the range), so be sure to factor that in if you get any offers when negotiating salary.

    6. rubyrose*

      Highlands Ranch CO here. Hi fellow residents!

      I believe there is more discrimination against out-of-staters. Because it is a cool area employers can be more picky. Jobs that in other places would only require a B.S require a masters, just because they can. There is a “get yourself here first and then we will consider you” attitude.

      I was here for 10 years, left, and wanted to come back. I got zero response to my applications showing my address as either Arkansas or Mississippi, even though my degree was from a local university, my resume showed Colorado jobs, and I gave Colorado references. I was even able to come back for 4 months and live with a friend, so I had a local address and was readily available for interviews! No takers.

      What worked for me was taking a remote job that had no Colorado connections. It was when the recruiter said I could live anywhere, as long as it was close to an airport, that I saw that I had been given the golden ticket to move back. Once I was settled in that position I moved myself.

      It is tough. In your shoes I would get a phone with either a 303 or 720 area, so there is an attempt to look local. But that obviously will not help you with the actual address.

  20. Anon Prospect Researcher*

    I’m hoping to get an AAM reader reality check. Whether my expectations are in check or if I am way off base. I started at a mid-size nonprofit in September 2015 as their first prospect researcher in a mid-level position. Within the past two months the fundraising staff has grown and I went from supporting three people to six. This is in addition to setting up procedures and a lot of organizing the way we do things. No mention of expansion was brought up until I was three months into the job and it was a dream more than a reality at that point (although I did anticipate a little additional staffing when interviewing).

    At the beginning of the year they announced raises and promotions and I received neither. There had been some loose talk in early fall from my manager that he was trying to push for for me to get promoted (along with that of two colleagues) but he made clear that it was uncertain whether this would happen. Recently my department head (boss’ boss) said to me that with performance reviews coming up, we should discuss how I will advance in the organization. I also recently learned that our performance reviews apply to next year in regards to raises and promotion (a good 9 months out).

    So I’m a pit peeved at the moment because I have been doing an amazing job and my role expanded substantially. I am planning on asking for a raise at my upcoming review showcasing everything I have accomplished and including how much my workload expanded. Thinking about it further I did get a little hesitant because I have only been here a little over a year (the colleague who got promoted to a gift officer position though has only been here three months longer) and I am starting to question if the increase in workload is a big enough change or if it is within the normal realm of what I should be doing? What are your thoughts?

    I also anticipate that while my manager will want to give me a raise, it will not be able to get approved. My alternative is to ask to work from home more often which I am not sure my employer will grant. I know the usual response is to ask what needs to happen in order to get a raise and I will do that but I think this is a little different in that I have earned it in the eyes of my manager and our department head sees me getting there next year doing the same thing I have already been doing. Should I add anything else to my response? A professional way of saying I am disappointed that my contributions won’t be recognized for another year. Related to that, my manager is unhappy as well and I can see the conversation going to “none of us are being recognized for what we do (even though he’s not that great at his job)” so what would be a way to keep the conversation focused on my situation.

    Thank you all for your help and my apologizes for the super-long post.

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      I don’t think you really have a way forward, except to find another job or wait.

    2. Former Prospect Researcher*

      Former prospect researcher here.

      I think what you want to include in the review is spot on, but in my experience, the glory in most non-profits (and raises and perks) do tend to go to those who do the frontline fundraising. Never mind that they wouldn’t have asked Prospect X for a gazillion if you hadn’t been the one to identify her, research her assets and interests, and present her as a prospect to them.

      I wound up dealing with it by leaving development entirely, and make about 30% more now to boot.

      1. HYDR*

        As someone who works with Prospect Researches, you truly are the unsung heroes at any organization. I would show your numbers (completed X profiles, set X procedures, or completed X% more profiles, etc.) and if you can track resulting gifts, that is even better.

        Good luck!

        1. Former Prospect Researcher*

          I’m in strategic planning and data analysis. I had good stats skills going in to my prospect research role and leveraged them into development analytics and modeling(while also wearing the prospect research hat). APRA has come a very long way in offering sessions and tracks on analytics in recent years and I was able to participate in those to build my skill sets.

  21. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Does anyone work a compressed workweek? While working on some projects, I can work 4 10 hour days, 7-5 or 8-6. But, with commuting by public transit and driving, and working out most days, I am already gone 11 hours a day. I don’t know if I can do it, but I would love to have one more day free.

    1. animaniactoo*

      I’ve worked that schedule for 6 days a week, and it worked relatively well because I was young and had a lot more energy. I would willingly, easily work it now if it meant I could have a 3rd non-work day.

      (And hi, I hadn’t seen you around since the other day and was concerned – I really hope that I didn’t offend you and I hope you’re doing okay.)

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        No, I’m not offended, don’t worry. My wife and I talked about how to save more money again and budget. I don’t understand math very well but it’s great to have the same goals and be looped in. And my wife’s new treatment seems to be starting to work.

    2. katamia*

      I’m a contractor who works from home (read: tons of schedule flexibility, probably more than most AAMers), but I usually try to work 4 days per week rather than spreading it out over 5. I really love having that extra day to be able to decompress, run errands, etc. If your employer will go for it, maybe you could suggest it on a trial basis and reevaluate in 3-6 months, although even if you like it that might also give them a chance to say no if it’s not working on their end.

    3. MoinMoin*

      I’ve worked 4x10s and generally liked it, though there was definitely a feeling of “today is a workday and therefore that’s all I’ll end up having time for.” In my case, the extended hours meant that I was out of the key rush hour times, so my workday was 2 hours longer but my commute was an hour shorter. I also shuffled my workout schedule so more rest days were on workdays, which made it a bit easier.
      Actually, my favorite schedule was when I did 4x10s but worked M-Tu, Th-F, with W, Sa, Su off. It was amazing having that mid week breather and weeks go by much faster when every other day is a “Friday.” It also gave me time to do appointments or meal prep for the next two days or whatever. If I ever wanted a long weekend I changed my extra day off, but most weeks it worked well.

    4. Grits McGee*

      When I was younger, I worked a 4-10 schedule, but had a 1hr+ commute on each end of the day. I ended up just spending my extra day off sleeping.

    5. SL #2*

      I work a pretty typical “9/80” schedule: 9-hour workdays, but with alternating Fridays off. Basically, 80 hours (2 weeks) spread out over 9 days instead of the typical 10. I like it a lot, but I also live pretty close to work (45 mins in the morning) and I spend my day off sleeping a little more… I just schedule appointments and whatnot in the afternoons.

    6. Whats In A Name*

      I had the opportunity to work 4×10 with different projects, twice with Monday’s off and once with Friday’s off. Monday’s off, IMO, was the best because I got to clean up after the weekend, get errands done while others were working and it really set a good tone for my week. When I had Friday’s off I went into weekend mode (granted, I did live at the beach at that time and it was summer).

      Another bonus was commute time, which was shortened because I was off-rush hour. I workout 5-6 days per week, too. I changed to early morning workouts on the way to work and normally ate something easy to make or leftovers for dinner so I wasn’t eating then crawling right into bed. If I could do it logistically now I would in a second.

      If you can do a trial run that would be a good way to see how you like it.

    7. Tris Prior*

      I did a 4×10 schedule for a while. At first I liked it but over time found it really exhausting – I discovered I don’t have 10 hours of productivity in me, and found myself making more errors. Plus, I ended up using my day off just to get all the chores and errands done that I couldn’t do during the week due to the long days – by Friday (my day off) the house was a wreck, there was nothing to eat, etc. because I wasn’t dealing with all that during the week due to exhaustion).

    8. Raia*

      Sometimes I wish I could work 3x12s like the nurses I work with, 4 days off a week would be a DREAM. I’m currently 5x8s but even 4x10s would be better, at least you have one day where you can definitely schedule doctor/other appts, go on a walk, do a project on your house, etc.

    9. Anono-me*

      I currently work 4-10s and love it.

      There are some cons. The transition from 5-8s can be hard. You have less time and energy each day to do other things. This will impact your social life. If you have to miss a full day and are hourly it is more painful. If you use mass transit, you are more likely to be traveling during off peak times and have fewer options.

      There are a lot of pluses. You have more time total each week. Not only do you save one day’s worth of travel time. You save what ever time difference there is between getting ready for a professional environment vs a casual one. You also save time and stress on many other tasks. Grocery shopping is so much quicker and easier on a weekday. Appointments are easier. My stylist offers a discount for weekday daytime appointments. The gym equipment is available right away. With a Monday or Friday off weekend trips are easier. Wednesday off is great for keeping your energy up.

      I also personally feel more productive on 4-10s. And am able to work with customers on both coasts more easily.

      A couple of suggestions based on my experiences and that of coworkers: Please ask how work weeks with holidays will be handled. Please also ask what the third day off will be for you. Please also talk to your family about this. It will impact everyone in the household. (Someone else will probably need do more daily tasks like supper or dishes.)

      I hope that my thoughts on this are useful.

    1. strawberries and raspberries*

      Plus, suspending someone for being bulimic (or supposedly being bulimic)? That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

  22. Tempest*

    I’ve posted a few times about my unhappy job situation. I’m doing my best to get out of here but due to the point I’m at in my career, I can’t just take any job, and jobs that make sense for my next step are few and far between.
    I had an interview last Friday which was a bit of a waste of both our time. Interviewer didn’t really want to ask me anything but if I wanted a proper interview. I asked the him a few questions which had me interested enough to say yes to a proper interview, he advised he’d have the recruiter call me to set something up this week, but on Wednesday he let me know that they classed me as overqualified for the role, which made him think I wouldn’t stay very long as it would be too big a step down for me. I can kind of see where he was coming from in terms of title but in terms of pay and responsibilities it would have been a step up but hey ho. I wasn’t sure about the commute or the change in style of company so likely for the best all around.

    So now, that means I’m stuck here for an indeterminate period of time trying to cope. Issues are mainly I have a very slack co-worker who basically disappears for 1.5-3 hours a day unaccounted for. We’re top level customer facing customer service agents so that does directly impact me. He also doesn’t call people back in a timely fashion, deal with their issues in a timely fashion or in the fashion he tells them he will. Then because he’s never there, I get stuck dealing with these upset people because it’s front line and the phone just rings, whoever is around has to answer it. There are other staff who depend on him doing his job and he doesn’t do that part of it either. That’s the job. Essentially because I actually care about the standard of my work and ultimately my customers (who are for the most part a lovely bunch) I get stuck picking up the slack because someone has to. This isn’t the type of role or place where mediocre is really good enough. It is a role with a significant amount of downtime so it’s not like we’re overworked in the main either.

    I’ve brought all this to my manager’s attention during my review. She’s so controlling that there is no question of giving this colleague the impression he needs to look to me for guidance/what to do in order to have things get done more smoothly. I have several years’ seniority but that’s just not going to happen. She is incredibly conflict avoidant. He was supposed to have a yearly review three weeks ago but she ‘ran out of time’ before she went on a two week vacation and now she’s too busy getting caught up to do it. I had mine weeks ago and was rated excellent (highest rating) across the board and given a raise. She will be avoiding his because in case these issues weren’t obvious (for reasons they ARE obvious, she couldn’t have not known) now I have detailed them clearly and she can’t pretend they aren’t issues. She told me she would address them on this review to save the world but she’ll put off doing his review now because it will involve a hard conversation. She put it to me as your review was a discussion about where you need to go from here as you’ve grown this role as far as you can, his will be a discussion about what he needs to do to be adequate in the role today. He’s also one of those people who thinks everything wasn’t his fault. I didn’t do that task as it wasn’t important. That guy complained because he’s an ahole, ect. My boss is also well liked up the chain so going over her isn’t going to work and would in effect be career suicide.

    I’ve read the advice not to focus on it because it doesn’t affect you but in this case it does. If we had independent work loads and it didn’t matter, I genuinely wouldn’t care. But we don’t, so the fact he’s getting an extra 2 hours of break a day he gets paid for but shouldn’t be having and I don’t as I’m not that kind of person both affects me and grates on my nerves a great deal. When he is at his desk he’s glued to his phone the remainder of the time to the point customers have commented n it to me, which is embarrassing but there’s nothing I can say. I’d be pretty sure he’s talking about me to people on his phone, which I don’t really care about as he’s not the kind of person I’d ever want to socialize with outside work anyway, but it still goes to unprofessionalism when the company policy is actually that it should be turned off in your drawer, bag or coat.

    So I’m either on the edge of tears or quietly seething with rage every minute of a very long day six days a week. My question is how do people cope in this type of situation where the light at the end of the tunnel could be five miles of rough track away and there’s nothing you can do about it as the world insists you pay your mortgage and car payment so you can’t just say screw it and walk out? I honestly feel like I’m on the edge of getting signed off with stress but then if I get an internal transfer instead of a new job I’ll have to know that my new manager knows I had to miss work for stress. That could cost me my next job and then I’d be stuck here even longer! I have something else possibly in the pipeline but that depends on someone else at newjob getting managed out, so that will take as long as it takes and then I’ll still have to interview and obtain the job like anyone else. How do people keep their sanity? Or am I at the point where all you can do is cry in the toilets until you can get another job? Maybe mostly I just wanted to rant with people who get work sucks sometimes . I feel so helpless with it all. I also don’t want to compromise my integrity or standards to lower to his level. Boss’s advice was basically stop doing the stuff he should have done and let him fall on his face. But that takes a customer down with him at the end of the day. I think it’s just as hard to realize I’ve lost respect for her as a result as it is to put up with the overall situation.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I think you need to follow your manager’s advice and let him fall on his face. It’s hard when you are a conscientious employee who does an excellent job, but it sounds like no one is going to blame you for not picking up his slack. It’s possible that your manager actually needs you to not take on his workload so that she can document what he’s not doing and the consequences. Your manager is giving you an opportunity not to care/stress about the situation; take it.

      1. Tempest*

        I am, in the regard that I can stop that level of stress. However, knowing my manager he will give excuses, that guy was an ahole, I was too busy (we’re so quiet it’s dire at the minute which also doesn’t help as everyone has too much time on their hands and ends up cranky!) she will accept them and that will be that. He’s had several complaints which should have resulted in formal warnings but has gotten away with it all. He’s one of those people who have managed create a situation where people praise him highly the one time he does bother to do his job rather than manage him on the times he doesn’t. She knows how much time he spends unaccounted for but won’t do anything about it. I know, I’m just whining but I don’t know what else to do. Boys get treated differently than girls around here. I know if I did the things he does I’d be getting regular talkings to but there feels like this attitude of well he’s a boy in his twenties, what are you going to do? Um, hold him to the same standards we would anyone else as we hired him to do the same job?! Disfunctional is not the word and I know from past experience that she ‘just wants everyone to get along’ and won’t do anything which will have her having a hard conversation with anyone. The bar is set so low around here it actually makes me sad.

      2. LCL*

        Yes! Follow this advice, DiH is totally right. Boss is telling you to stop covering for him, so stop covering for him.

        1. Tempest*

          Wow, it’s hard! Just had a customer saying he should have had a call back with some info on Friday which he never got. Advised I’d have to leave a message for colleague to ring as promised on monday. He pushed so I sent the bare minimum of info and advised colleague would call on Monday to follow up as agreed. Goes against everything in my nature but if manager needs me to stop dealing with the stuff he should have but didn’t than I guess I need to stop dealing with it. But customer’s little disapointed voice… Man. Goes against my nature, literally. I think I also know the next thing coming is attitude why I didn’t just deal with it and I can’t really say manager told me to leave you to fall on your face, so I need to come up with excuses like I wasn’t sure where you were at with it and didn’t want to step on your toes etc. It feels so passive agressive to leave notes on his desk but if I don’t, he’ll just say he forgot I asked him to call etc.

          1. Wanna-Alp*

            Yeah, it sucks, but you have to remain professional yourself, otherwise you give him ammunition. Try phrases like: “I had my own work to get done.”

    2. kbeers0su*

      I would find a way to make it even harder for this to be ignored. For instance:
      – Angry customer calls because coworker didn’t do what he said he would do.
      – Apologize, but explain that only coworker can do that for the customer.
      – Email coworker with the complaint and tell coworker that he needs to call customer back to address the issue.
      – Repeat each time you get such a call.
      Eventually this kind of thing is going to damage the reputation of your department/org. Your boss may not realize how frequently these issues come up, or how frequently you’re solving them. Using this tactic may help her get a better sense of the scope/make the situation more urgent.

        1. Tempest*

          I’d love to but she doesn’t speak to customers if she can at all help it and when she does, it often makes the issue worse. She is an administrator, not a people manager or a complaint manager! If there was any way at all, she’d just refuse the call.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      “Boss, I am on the verge of tears most days. I am starting to experience health issues because I am watching a company slowly disintegrate. I need help now. What I am proposing is that when I get a complaint, I will give the customer your phone number/extension.”


      “Boss, I have been trying to follow your advice. But I am having no luck. My biggest problem is that this guy will sink our company. We will lose enough customers that we will go out of business and no longer have paychecks. This means all of us.”

      A softer version of this would be to ask the boss what she wants you to do with the angry people that call and his uncompleted work that needs to get finished. Keep going back to her with questions. Ever have a sliver in your hand? It’s annoying until you finally get tweezers and do something, right? Be that sliver. Keep going back to the boss, “I have X going on, how do you want me to handle it?” Later on, “I have Y going on, how do you want me to handle it?”

      If you are honest with yourself you will know that you alone cannot save a company from crashing. It takes the effort of numerous people to keep a company out of the dumpster. One of the things you could tell yourself is that you will keep enough business going so that you know you will be paid until you find something else.

      Another thing I have told myself is to let people like boss and coworker sharpen me. Work smarter in different ways. Be willing to let go of things that are less important. Be willing to hold people accountable for their choices. See, your boss and coworker are variations of the same problem. Neither one of them is being accountable for their work/position.

      If you have PTO start using it. This seems counter-intuitive. The point is that if you do not start taking care of you, you will see problems worsen. It’s time to start taking care of you.

      1. Tempest*

        I have paid time off but I do use it every year. I’m in Europe so I get four and a bit weeks of it a year. I have up to 13 weeks of paid sick time but to use more than seven calendar days I have to go to the dr and get them to agree with me that I am stressed enough to be signed off work. To be honest I think I would get signed off for at least a few weeks. But then I’d worry about what it would do to my chances of another job in this company if I did that. I know my boss is too scared of ‘hr and the law’ to give any reference other than to confirm dates of employment so outside our company she wouldn’t say anything to anyone anyway. But we do have progression in our company but outside our site and as she is very open to helping me move into any progression option which comes up for me, I don’t want her off my side either. I have a huge vacation booked in the summer, so my paid vacation is pretty much all spoken for even though I have loads of it compared to some people. Argh, I just have to try and keep my sanity while i wait for something else to come along. And not become bitter. And not get dragged down to slacker’s level as a self defense mechanism. I need to keep giving the customers I have in my workload the same service and not let him lower my standards while I let him set his own. It’s a tough one. I really loved this place and for all her faults my manager right up until quite recently but I just can’t respect someone who’s willing to look the other way on such blatant disregard for the job and the work and set the bar so low for some staff, but I promise you if I stopped working at the high level she’s used to, that wouldn’t fly!

        1. Mirilla*

          Your boss sucks. I have a conflict avoidant boss and I’m in a similar situation. Actually it’s the third time my office has had this situation since I started there. The thing is, bosses like this hire people but don’t follow up, so if they hire someone who is prone to slacking off or who displays outrageous behavior, the morale in the department tanks because boss would rather look the other way than actually manage because managing is hard and sometimes uncomfortable. I’m looking to leave for another job but I understand your frustration more than you can imagine. In my case, problem employee is our manager who is paid quite well but we have to manage her most of the time.

          1. Tempest*

            I’m sorry we’re in this together! My first colleague was an older lady who expected to bully me (I’m pretty conflict avoidant myself by default but I push myself to overcome it and tackle issues as they need to be tackled because they tell me it’s part of adulting and adulting is something we all have to do) second guy we replaced him with was lovely but also flaky and going through a lot of personal issues so he stopped showing up and was fired by letter in his abscence when he failed to show up to his disiplinary like he failed to show up to work and then we got this guy, who clearly knew all the right things to say to sound like a rockstar on paper and is the exact oposite. Except in his head, where he clearly thinks he IS a rock star, as he’s informed me that he better get a raise this year because he’s done his time. Um, it’s not just about showing up! Generally you’d be expected to put your cell phone down and deal with a few customers in a timely fashion to deserve a raise. He’s so out of touch. But she won’t kick him into touch so he’s destined to stay that way I’m afraid. She lucked out with me because I get my job satisfaction from doing things well and getting the positive feedback from customers that comes with it, and knowing that I do the best I can. I will never understand why anyone gets up in the morning to come to a job they don’t want to do, just to sit here for 8,9, 10 hours plus a day trying to shaft the customers and company by ‘getting paid to do nothing’ to make it up to themselves they feel hard done by. Get a new job then! Move on to something that makes you a bit happier. Or at least do the job and go home. I’m so miserable and bored without enough to do, I don’t get how people make a full time career out of doing nothing. It’s my idea of hell.

  23. i don't know what to do*

    My company is having another re-org and layoffs this year, which is probably going to hit us next week or the week after. I just found out that I’m not one of the ones being laid off and I’m the only one on my team who is getting a raise this year. Upper management only let the mid-level managers give out one raise per team, and I was the one chosen for my team. The raise isn’t big – only 2% which comes out to about $1200 pre-tax. So it’s not like it’s making a big bump in my paycheck.

    Still, it’s not like I’m going to mention it because it’ll make other coworkers flip out and it’s really none of their business. Some of them already think I’m the “manager’s pet” because my manager really likes me. He likes to say I’m the best on the team and I really wish he would stop because it’s causing people to get bitter.

    I think my manager knows that giving me more money will mean I’m more likely to feel appreciated and more likely to stay. But 2% isn’t enough, though I know I should be grateful since no one else is getting anything. Last year we all got “Meets Expectations” and a 1% COL raise of $500/year.

    I feel super guilty that I’m the only one getting a raise AND that I still want to look for a new job. I know I don’t owe the company anything, but the guilt about being the one singled out and then leaving is eating me away. I don’t hate my job, but I find it fairly boring and I know I could make more money elsewhere. It’s a problem of wondering if the grass really is greener on the other side and whether to stay in an unstable industry with mediocre pay and lax rules (flex time, WFH, come and go as I want) for potentially more money and stricter rules elsewhere. I know my manager would be devastated if I leave and might use the “you were the stronghold of our team/the only one who got a raise” if I give my notice once I find a new job.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Being the only person on your team who got a (small) raise does not mean you owe your company anything. There’s a lot of people who’d start looking if they went through multiple years of 1-2% raises, repeated reorgs, and layoffs.

      1. i don't know what to do*

        To be fair, I’ve never worked somewhere where we got more than a 3% raise, so it’s not like I’ve ever expected a 5% or 10% raise. I’d like one, but I know it’s rare for my field.

    2. MoinMoin*

      I mean, your boss could feel guilty that she gave you a raise because you deserved it and as incentive to keep you only to find out two months down the road that she now has to lay you off. She would still lay you off. It’s just a business decision, I wouldn’t feel guilty about it.

    3. Parenthetically*

      “I know my manager would be devastated if I leave and might use the “you were the stronghold of our team/the only one who got a raise” if I give my notice once I find a new job.”

      I mean, that’s ok. He’s allowed to be sad or upset that you’re leaving. It’s his job to manage his emotions, and you don’t have to do it for him, or stay in a job you want to move on from, to protect him from disappointment.

    4. Zombeyonce*

      You should not feel guilty for considering leaving. Even if you were in a position with no worries about layoffs and wanted to leave, you shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to improve your situation. But because your company is having re-orgs and layoffs, looking for something else is a smart move. Those perks that you like might make you stay, but it’s certainly worth seeing what else is out there; you might even find a better-paying position with the same or better perks, plus more job security!

      In the end, you have to do what’s right for you. You’re not going to be able to save this company just by staying, so think of your future.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Negative Nancy can get in our heads and tell us lies such as “the grass may not be greener”.
      The rebuttal to that is do your due diligence. Research the company and it’s culture. What about promotions/raises/PTO? Insist on facts. We can’t decide the grass is brown over there based on NO facts.

      Negative Nancy likes to point out there will be stricter rules where there is more money. This is probably true. Just because the rules are stricter is not the same as saying the rules are bad. Find out what the rules are first.

      I see your guilt over being the only person to get a raise. Bare with me here: Give the money back. End of problem.
      What? Not going to give the money back? Good. Don’t.

      You had to run through that train of thought because, see, it’s not the money, it’s Nancy AGAIN, trying to find some negative thing to say so she can put a baseball bat to your knees. When you hand in your resignation ask the boss if he will see to it someone else gets the raise money you were getting.

      Look, companies can retain people by good methods and by bad methods.

      Bad methods include GUILT. “Well I stayed at my last job for x years because I felt so guilty about leaving them.” That is not a resume building sentence. It’s okay to feel guilty, it’s not okay to do nothing. You can do things and just decide that feeling guilty goes with the process. Keep going with your life.

  24. ThursdaysGeek*

    My team is going to discuss the book ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’. Our discussion is this afternoon. Has anyone else read it and what did you think?

    I’m the only remote person on my team, and I think it misses the dysfunction of poor communication. But I enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to our meeting.

    1. fposte*

      I didn’t–do you recommend it? I would agree even without reading it that communication can be an important weakness, so maybe we need to write a book called The One Dysfunction of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        I do recommend it. It’s easy to read – it tells a story of a dysfunctional team as they painfully learn how to become a team.

        The ones the book has are: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. But without the backstory of the book, that list alone is not very useful. The author is Patrick Lencioni.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          I just moved off from a highly dysfunctional team and you could add Personal Offensiveness to that list, but those look like the big hits. I would be curious to read this and see how it ties back to my experience!

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            One of the characters was offensive and dismissive. She was eventually moved off the team, because her toxicity was a problem.

              1. ThursdaysGeek*

                Actually yes, in the fictional story, she was asked to leave the company. I just worded it poorly.

    2. BioPharma*

      It was okay. As with any of these types of books, it’s like, so how are we actually going to change?? At my work, I felt like nothing changed beyond our general discussion. In the book, individuals (fake examples) are lableed “the [adjective] one,” but who’s going to do that with co-workers? it would depend on each person so be insightful enough to know that they’re contributing to dysfunction by doing X, but that’s just not the reality of it.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Yeah, I am interested in seeing how it plays out in real life, with real people. However, we’re all peons on my team, and I do think we’re doing pretty well on the characteristics described in the book. I’ll keep your comment in mind and see if it makes any difference in the long run.

    3. Tabby Baltimore*

      I read this book a few years ago. The only valuable take-away I got was the pyramid graphic; I photocopied it and keep it with my work notes. I hope your discussion started off by defining what a “team” is, and what behaviors in your workplace would illustrate that. (Most of the “teams” I have been on weren’t anything more than a collection of co-actors, who essentially functioned independently of each other.) True teams, I think, have members who depend on each other to perform specific tasks, so that the work of the team–as a whole–will go forward.

      As I get older, I’ve concluded that how effectively work gets accomplished depends a LOT on how personally well-adjusted and professionally secure employees feel. Someone who is emotionally insecure/immature, or who feels disrespected and disconnected, can cause problems anywhere from degrading a unit’s response times/outputs, up to causing tremendous reputational damage to an entire office.

      I hope you will give us an update next Friday on how this discussion went, what you got out of it, and whether a company employee facilitated the event, or whether your company brought someone in from the outside.

  25. Nervous Accountant*

    Am I the problem or have I just had bad luck?
    I’ve posted my issues before but I started thinking about it and maybe I’m overthinking/getting paranoid.
    Quick background–at work we’re broken up into smaller teams.

    The “first” team I was assigned, I had major issues with the person I was working under. That was the CC (Creepy coworker) who gave me creeps, never spoke to me but criticized me endlessly to my bosses.

    They moved me away from him, and I eventually had my own team….which included the CW I spoke about most recently; when I gave him gentle feedback as a friend, he reacted horribly. (I tried to keep it brief but I can give more details if needed)

    Fortunately, this time around, I feel more confident and secure in my own self; it helps tremendously that my boss has had my back on this cw.

    Both times I’ve had issues, and both times I’m the common denominator.

    What am I doing wrong? :(

    1. Dr. KMnO4*

      I think you’ve just had bad luck. In my experience, when people wonder if they are the problem they generally aren’t. It’s the people who never question where the problem truly lies (because in their minds it’s obviously not them) that are, indeed, the problem.

      From what you’ve reported here it genuinely seems like your coworkers suck. I don’t think you are doing anything wrong.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Thanks. I think most of my coworkers are actually nice. Most of them are pretty decent, it’s just these few

    2. zora*

      Two incidents is not enough to be a significant data set!!! If you had a conflict with a coworker on every team for like 6-10 different teams, I might be encouraging you to look at yourself. But TWO! Come on. Yes, you have just had bad luck, it’s not your fault and you are doing a great job, obviously, because your manager has your back!!

      However, as someone who does similar things in my head, I would encourage you to look at why you are so quick to blame yourself! Either start seeing a therapist (which I finally just started doing and Holy Hannah, it’s making such a difference already) or just look at some online resources about internalizing other people’s crap.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Well….they weren’t just 1 off incidents, but relationships that deteriorated over time. I’m more worried it’s a pattern that *I’M* the difficult one to work with. In both cases, I put my best foot forward, I gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. I even got along great with teh second one. but…yeah.

        1. zora*

          right, but it’s 2 people out of all of the people you have worked with! I was just talking about this with my therapist actually, putting more weight on the rare negative experiences, and ignoring the vast majority of positive experiences, and then beating myself up. I think you are doing the same thing. ;o) Give yourself a break!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          It’s really good that you are doing self-checks. Keep that habit. In these cases, I think you have just had rotten luck.

          Understand too that keeping long term relationships (with healthy people) is still hard work.

          Perhaps change your expectation a bit by telling yourself that all relationships take work. The beauty of this one is that you start to notice MORE how you are working at things and the other person may NOT be working at things. You can start to gauge this because you know the types of efforts you have put forth and what efforts do you see coming from the other person?
          This is another important feature of relationships of any sort, BOTH people have to work at it.
          It might be helpful to watch people who get it right with work relationships. For my own education, I like to watch people who handle situations with grace and finesse. It helps with my self-check, as to how I am doing AND it helps me to understand better when a behavior is over the top.

  26. Ann O'Nemity*

    What are your coworker pet peeves? Did you address them? If so, how?

    Right now I’m really annoyed with a coworker who sings part of sentences. She has a unusually high pitched voice anyway and will sometimes sing phrases in a soprano. When questioned, she says she’s just “having fun.” It is driving me crazy like nails-on-a-chalkboard.

    1. Amber Rose*

      MAC* whistles and hums and talks to himself incessantly. I’m torn between whether or not this is worse than my previous neighbor cutting her fingernails all the time. Both whistling and nail clipping are horrible horrible noises. I have done nothing except crank my own music up, because I know well enough that nothing I say will accomplish anything.

      *I’ve started calling him MAC as a convenient name slash acronym that stands for Most Annoying Coworker. He is the one who previously yelled my name repeatedly while I was on the phone until I snapped at him, at which point he revealed he just wanted to know if I was on the phone.

    2. all aboard the anon train*

      People who clip their fingernails or toenails at their desk. We work in an open plan and it grosses me out so much. Go to the bathroom!

      Also people who decide the best time to try to talk to you is not at any point throughout the day, but when you’re clearly packing up and putting on your coat. There’s a couple people at work who do this, but one is the worst and shuffles along at 4:45 to start up a conversation or when someone is clearly on the way to the cafeteria, and does not take the hint even if you say, “I’m trying to go to lunch/go home, can we talk tomorrow morning?”. It’s never about anything important.

      HOWEVER, my biggest pet peeve is the one coworker who insists I must love cats, even though I keep telling her that I’m allergic and they freak me out. She says she “doesn’t see me as a dog person” and it’s really, really annoying that she keeps trying to tell me I’m a cat person and keeps sending me videos and pictures of cats. I’m not a cat person. Let it go. I like my extra large dogs just fine. I don’t know why she doesn’t talk to the people in our department who do love cats.

      1. Squeeble*

        I once shared a moment with one coworker where we complained together about someone else who clips their nails at their desk. Then a while later, I walked past the first coworker’s desk and she was doing the exact same thing. I was baffled.

        I’ll take care of an occasional hangnail at my desk, but the full set of fingers…no!

        1. Spoonie*

          I have several coworkers who clip their nails at work. And two coworkers who apparently see nothing wrong with doing a full mani/pedi. On each other. I’m baffled. Yes, I’ll resolve the occasional hangnail or file a rough edge that’s driving me crazy. But I don’t want to smell your nail polish or hear your clippers.

          1. zora*

            GAH! My skin is crawling with these stories, I really can’t even. My boyfriend and I don’t even clip our nails in front of each other!!! We each do it in the bathroom with the door closed. ::::shuddershudder::::

            1. mreasy*

              I have apologized to my husband when I clipped with the bathroom door open after realizing he was in the side of the apartment from which he might be able to hear! So. awful.

        2. Limi*

          I will occasionally trim and clean my nails at work. Admittedly, I prefer to have my nails short as the corners grow-in all the time and my job typically makes my hands (and nails by extension) very grimy. My co-workers are mostly older men, and don’t seem to mind all that much.

          That said, I don’t make a show of it either.

      2. Kowalski! Updates!*

        Let me start by saying that, on the whole, my team is pretty cool and we get along really well, but there’s one woman who I think must have been a Manic Pixie Dream Girl WAAAAAY back in the day, and the “manic” and “girl” bits are there in spades. Within two weeks of starting here last year, I knew far more than I ever would have wanted to know about a co-worker’s bipolar disorder, her mother’s alcoholism, how bananas are just the best thing EVER when baking and rabbits are the best pets ever (she’s a very vocal vegan)…you get the picture. What makes it more trying is that she can be very inappropriate with the males on our team – comments on tightness of trousers, offers of back rubs, putting her knee up on people’s desks…being female and not particularly interested in rabbits has spared me, luckily, but with all the to-ing and fro-ing trying to be the ingénue of the office, I’m not sure how much work actually gets done. It doesn’t seem to bother the management that much, though…she’s been here 9 years.

      3. zora*

        Wait, you have MULTIPLE coworkers who clip their nails at their desks?!?!?!?!? AAHHHHH!!!!! You might literally be working in my worst nightmare… I am so sorry. :o(

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          YES. It drives me insane. I want to gag every single time I hear the nail clipper. It’s one of those things that doesn’t both me when I do it, but when other people do it, I find it unbearable.

      4. Non-Profit Accountant*

        I don’t…I don’t understand the nail clipping thing. Why, WHY, are people engaging in personal grooming habits at their work desk? Why?! Like, I understand keeping a small pair of clippers at work for the occasional broken nail/hanging cuticle, but to make it A Thing That You Do is so incredibly bizarre to me. I would get annoyed with housemates that would clip their nails (toes or fingers!) in common spaces of the house…but coworkers especially please, please do this in private and NOT AT WORK.

    3. Volunteer Coordinator in NoVA*

      My current boss is so loud and has a really annoying fake laugh and it drives me (and everyone nuts). It seems like maybe our ED has asked her to be more aware (because of some temporary changes made in the past) but it has yet to really make a difference. I now wear headphones at least 50% of the day to deal with it but it doesn’t really seem to matter. I’m currently at the eating crackers stage with her because of a bunch of things so every time I hear her voice, it just raises my blood pressure.

    4. Muriel Heslop*

      I hate when I am in our departmental office and people are listening to music on their phones or computers without headphones. Even worse when they are singing along out loud!

    5. Not Today Satan*

      We take a lot of calls in my cubicle farm and the person behind me speaks in FULL VOLUME constantly. It is so incredibly distracting to me.

    6. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      I have no solution. But I do sympathize. People who do this drive me bonkers.

    7. Nanc*

      Oh, so OffKey Songstress now works with you! I worked with her early in my career and could not understand why our supervisor didn’t shut that down as we worked with the public in a government office . . .

      I handled it by constantly asking her to repeat herself (politely, as in “pardon, I didn’t catch the last part?” or “I don’t understand, what exactly do you need?”) and if she kept singing I would ask her to write it down as I was having trouble understanding what she needed/wanted. She pretty much stopped asking me anything, just left notes if someone else wasn’t there to process her request.

    8. Lily in NYC*

      This is gross but it’s making me crazy – someone on this floor has something very wrong with her ladyparts and our bathroom smells like a rancid uterus – it usually happens for a few days at a time and then stops for a few weeks and then starts up again. Seriously, people walk into the bathroom, gag, and then run out to go to a different floor. I have no idea how to address it (even though I know who has the problem there is no way I would “report” her because I don’t want her to be humiliated nor do I think anyone would do anything about it).

      1. ANON*

        wowza. Have you tried placing a bottle of poop-purri in the bathroom, in hopes that the smell would be masked? It obviously isn’t for that intended use, but perhaps the residual pleasant smell would help?

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I was thinking about that! I think other people are also grossed out because someone brought in a strong air freshener. So now it smells like banana cream pie and rotten fish in the bathroom.

          1. Tempest*

            We have special sanitary waste bins which seal better than an open garbage can in our bathroom. They have something in them that smells like cinnamon to try and mask it a bit as well. A company comes and swaps them monthly but we don’t have a lot of females in the business and even less who need to worry about menstrual products. We also supply diaper bags for people to tie the used products up in to try and cut down on smells even more. Is there something like that your company could explore?

      2. Clever Name*

        I’ve noticed this phenomenon in public bathrooms too. Given the frequency and duration, I would imagine you’re smelling used menstrual products (sorry if that’s too gross- I’m a biologist and immune to most body-related grossness). Maybe see if you can get a small trash can that seals better or has those sticky air freshener things in them.

    9. BBBizAnalyst*

      I have a coworker who interrupts every conversation. Doesn’t matter the topic. He will interject with his two cents that no one has asked for. It’s the most annoying thing because he’s condescending and acts like a 40 year old toddler.

    10. crypticone*

      I have a coworker who stomps. Everywhere. And our office is in an older building with wooden floors, so I keep waiting for her to put a foot straight through!

    11. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Ive got a coworker who keeps fiddling with her long hair, usually when she is thinking and/or bored which happens often. So she sits up and runs her hands through her hair and then whatever strands have some out, deposits them in the shared recepticle between us.

      We sit at a shared bench desk in an open plan office. I now find her hair all over my part of the desk thanks to the power of static electricity. Its almost to BEC stage (or Get Me Some Scissors, Now!).

      How do you address that? Hey, dont play with your hair cause I found some under my coffee cup this morning?

      1. Rat in the Sugar*

        Why don’t you try rolling up a piece of tape (or using double-sided tape) and stick it on the desk right above the trashcan, and then ask her to please push the stray hairs down on the tape instead of putting them in the trash? That might help corral the strays. (Though speaking as someone with long, thick hair, it may get everywhere whether she’s playing with it or not, unfortunately).

    12. Lady Bug*

      People who are incompetent or lazy so I have to clean up their messes or do it myself. Haven’t figured out how to fix that lol

    13. Sabrina the Teenage Witch*

      One of my coworkers must win the award for Most Negative Person Ever because she never has a positive comment to make, only negative. She also acts like the sky is falling if she isn’t at work for a day.

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        Ugh, I worked with a Negative Nancy too. They are the worst! They bring down everyone’s mood.

    14. Lemon Zinger*

      My teammate has been with us for almost six months. She is still not comfortable presenting to groups larger than 50 (a regular duty for us) and has not mastered our line of work. Normally I wouldn’t be irritated by slow learners (I am one myself), but she makes no effort to get up to speed. She is careful to always look/act like she knows what she’s doing and never asks for help, so we discover her inadequacy at the most inconvenient times.

      I had been hoping she’d quit, but it looks unlikely at this stage.

    15. Gadget Hackwrench*

      The “stop having fun guys” guy. If you’re on a team that doesn’t have one, it’s wonderful. I’ve been in that situation many times before. I also once worked someplace where the “stop having fun guys” guy was both my boss and officemate. That was hell. At my current job when the “stop having fun guys” guy sat on the opposite side of the office from me, everything was fine. Now he sits right behind me, and is irritated at pretty much anything those of us from this end of the office do. This is the guy who thinks the appropriate level of jocularity and small talk in the office is ZERO. The kind of person who thinks if you’re smiling at work you must not be taking your job seriously.Who sneers at people who have “too many” personal items in their cubicle. (Seriously the two people he targets the hardest are the two who have personalized their work space beyond a coffee cup or one framed picture.) He goes about with a constant aire of “More Professional Than Thou.” Get over it. We’re in IT. If we didn’t joke sometimes we’d weep.

    16. RavensandOwls*

      … yikes.

      Mine are people who show up unannounced at my office. I mean, I’m not doing anything sketchy in there, but a head’s up would be nice.

    17. Jaguar*

      Eating with their mouth open. OMFG this drives me up the wall. A couple co-workers who sit near me do it and I have to retreat to earphones. I can concentrate on abstract programming logic with loud meetings and phones and all that stuff going on around me, but hearing someone chew food is showstopping. It’s totally disgusting.

      1. Hnl123*

        omg I feel your pain. One of my office mates ate a lot of food open mouthed and it drove me bonkers. Sometimes I could hear it through the headphones. …shudders….

    18. zora*

      coworker who grabs the bag of snacks (common for everyone to share) and takes the whole bag back to her desk because she doesn’t want to “waste” one of the disposable bowls, which means she is hogging the bag, but also she is reaching her hands in the bag to eat out of it, instead of pouring some out like the rest of us do. Makes me totally germ obsessed even though I’m not usually. I did address it by bringing it up twice, and she just keeps brushing it off as not wanting to be wasteful with the bowls, and I gave up because I couldn’t figure out how to keep the frustrated tone out of my voice if I said it a third time.

      And they aren’t technically coworkers, but the others on the floor who leave their dirty coffee mugs in the sink instead of putting them in the clearly marked DIRTY MUGS bus tubs. And just in general leave huge messes in the kitchen and then walk away. Yes, we have a regular cleaning crew, but they aren’t your mother!! You are a grownup, you can grab a paper towel and wipe up the milk you just spilled all over the counter!! GAH! Haven’t addressed for the most part, because we are just neighbors in a cowork space, I don’t know them. But if I am close enough when someone puts their mug in the sink, I have acted casual about being all “Oh, hey, those actually go in these tubs right here.” But usually I am not there when it happens, just go in the kitchen and find a dozen mugs piled up in the sink.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Put up a sign that says, “Do NOT remove bags of snacks from this table [desk/whatever].”

        1. zora*

          Yeah, I wish, but there are only 3 of us in our office, so that would be too aggressive and obvious. I’m just letting it go for now, and avoiding the snacks that she tends to stick her hand in. I order the snacks, so I am deliberately ordering some things she doesn’t really like, I’ll go with that for now.

      2. all aboard the anon train*

        Yes to your second pet peeve! I also get grossed out when people let their dishes soak to soften the food before they wash them. I don’t want to see the soggy remainders of your meal when I’m trying to wash my own dishes or stopping in for a drink. The kitchen office is not your personal kitchen.

    19. Zombeyonce*

      I have a coworker that is constantly doings accents (other countries, different US regions w/recognizable speech patterns, movie characters) and it drives me up the wall. It’s not even that she’s bad at them, and I have a hard time figuring out exactly why it makes me so crazy, but man I wish she’d just talk like herself all the time.

      Does anyone else get driven batty by this kind of behavior? Why does it make me so crazy?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        To me it’s unnecessary audio clutter. I have a slight scarring on my inner ears. It’s not a big deal. But if I have to sort through accents/jargon/etc I am working harder to follow along.

        On a personal level I have a friend who talks in foreign voices when Friend is in psychosis. So there is a creepy overtone to the voices for me.

        I think my main irritation is “Why can’t you just say what needs to be said and get back to work? Not everything demands a creative reply.” It just seems like a waste of time and energy.

      2. zora*

        Yeah, that is annoying. I find accents fun, and I WANT to do them all the time, but I hold myself back because it’s not as funny to other people as it is in my head. I feel like doing anything silly too often is annoying. She needs to cut it out.

    20. motherofdragons*

      The people who come into my office, even when the door is shut, to tell me something either A) not work-related, or B) that could’ve easily been sent in an email. I now have a sign up that says “Working Away, Thanks for not disturbing!” but I will still get them walking by my window, doing the “Are you on a call?” hand signal, and I don’t want to lie so I shake my head no…and boom. With one particular person, it worked for a little while to tell her, “I’m working hard on a tight deadline right now, so I’m gonna keep my door shut to focus. If anything comes up about XYZ project, could you please just email me?”

    21. Sigh*

      I’m in an open office setting and the coworker who sits next to me has a loud, drawn out sigh that gets on my nerves. And Coworker sighs all day long.

    22. Chaordic One*

      I had a former department supervisor who had “personal hygiene” issues. I don’t know if she didn’t do laundry or didn’t bathe regularly, or just what. Let’s just say that you could smell her coming in front of your cubicle.

  27. Amber Rose*

    I brought it up briefly last week but I’m going to bring it up again because it’s pretty dire.

    I have no references.

    My boss at my last job, in an office of 8 people, died tragically. Everything went downhill. I became ill from stress and I left the company on very, very bad terms with pretty much everyone. There was a lot of screaming and crying. I am not exaggerating.

    There’s nobody left at the company prior to that. The two ladies from that company who gave me references have since retired and do not use LinkedIn. My manager at that place was forbidden from giving references as company policy so I don’t have contact info for her. I don’t even remember the names of the other people in that office, not that it would matter since we didn’t do much work together. My job was mostly in the basement archives alone.

    Is it impossible for me to find another job?

    1. katamia*

      Oof. I’m sorry about your boss/last job.

      It’s not impossible. But it’s going to be much more difficult. (Says someone with one reference from 2007 and no others, and since people usually want three I’m just as out of luck as you are.) I wound up contracting and freelancing because I just couldn’t find anything decent (and my standards for “decent” are, I think, a lot lower than most AAMers–I’ve had zero benefits and zero vacation days at all but one of my jobs). Depending on what kinds of jobs you’re looking for and the norms for your field/location, you may have to get creative.

    2. orchidsandtea*

      Oh, Amber, how stressful. Can you get personal contact info for the retired women and your old manager? I know she’s not supposed to be a reference, but that’s a rule made to be broken because it’s absurd.

      All you need is one job to take a chance on you. Then you’ll have a good reference, and you can move forward from there. So while it might be crummy now, it’s not like you’re destined to have things be crummy forever.

      I have a couple options for references now, but previously I had my current boss, my ex-coworker, and my mother. Yes, my mother. (Worked for the family business.) It was not great. I got my foot in the door here through a temp agency, and it ended up being a great fit and good for my professional development. You can also put volunteer references if you desperately need to.

      1. Amber Rose*

        No, I already know there’s no way the company would give me that information even if they still have it. It would be a breach of confidentiality. They took privacy and security way, way seriously.

        I do some work on the board for a non-profit and could probably use one of the other board members as a reference, but there’s been drama there too recently and I’m just not sure if that bridge is burned or not. Plus that’s only one reference and the work I do there isn’t really related to anything I do for pay.

        1. orchidsandtea*

          I mean, I meant through Google/Facebook/the yellow pages. Most people are findable if you try hard enough.

        2. Volunteer Coordinator in NoVA*

          I often gave references to volunteers, even if it wasn’t in the field they were working in. I use to have a ton of unemployed volunteers and it was just a good way to show that they had been engaged in something while they were unemployed/ were reliable and valuable. I’m sure it doesn’t hold the same weight as an employee reference but could help somewhat. Is there anyone on the staff (like the ED) that you could ask?

    3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      “Unfortunately, my manager at my last job passed away shortly before I left, and my only two other contacts there who could speak to my performance have since retired and didn’t give me a way to stay in touch. Also, I usually worked solo in that role.”

      1. fposte*

        The problem is that a plausible explanation for a lack of references doesn’t redress the disadvantage of having no references. It would be a big obstacle for us, and I don’t think we could even get a no-reference hire through HR.

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          Yeah, that’d be really rough. OP, is this your first job or something? Is there anybody else, like a professor, a mentor, a volunteer coordinator, who could speak to your professionalism?

          1. Amber Rose*

            No, it’s my third job since graduating 6 years ago. I’ve never volunteered and I didn’t really get to know any of my professors.

            I’ve got one possible reference from the board of the non-profit I’m on, but to not have three, or anything from a manager after six years is going to be difficult to get around and I’m starting to worry it’s impossible.

            1. NaoNao*

              Okay some possible solutions:
              Friendly coworkers–don’t have to be a direct team member, but is there anyone who might remember you fondly that would do you a solid by vouching for your work?
              Friends who’ve worked with you or co-students who worked with you on group work at college? Long shot I know, but…maybe?
              Clients–have you ever worked with clients or customers that might vouch for you?
              Professional portfolio or reputation–can you submit content to blogs that syndicate content or become a LinkedIn Influencer (writer of articles)? Could you start your own blog? I did, for a niche within my profession and I’m pretty sure it was a factor in getting hired, sight unseen, from overseas!

              Also, I’m not 100% on this, but I’m pretty sure my last three jobs (my professional career, basically) did not check my references.

              1. Hnl123*

                for my current job, I had my coworker and my friend (not even remotely work related, simply my friend) serve as my references. And this is for a good FT job. Not all is lost!

            2. Not So NewReader*

              What about church? If you don’t go now, did you ever? Sometimes ministers are willing to help out especially if they know the person is in a bind.

    4. EW*

      I’ve been hired for three jobs without needing to give references. I didn’t even realize it was important until reading this site. Try to utilize references from volunteer work or professional organizations, provide the company name/phone number to see if they will verify you working there and explain the policy of no references from the manager. Mostly, I’m sorry this all happened to you, and it is not impossible (even though it feels that way). I’d make sure to write down names and phone numbers of any potential future references in the job you’re definitely going to get at some point in the future.

    5. Agile Phalanges*

      Ugh, that sucks. I’d say explain it as best you can to the folks who do ask for references, provide whatever references you can (from volunteer work, side gigs, personal references, etc.), and hope that you can get hired somewhere that doesn’t actually care about references.

      My boss didn’t reference-check me, citing my 13 straight years with the same company as proof of my reliability and trustworthiness when I asked. (The kicker is, my predecessor was fired for embezzling after 13 straight years of employment under HIM, so you’d think he’s consider that when deciding how useful reference checks could be. Luckily for him, I AM trustworthy.)

    6. Piano girl*

      I was in the same situation. One previous boss had died, another one (non-profit ED) had been fired after I had mentioned to a board member how awful it was to work there. I ended up temping. My supervisor on my first temp job wrote me a glowing recommendation, which helped me land the next temp job – which quickly turned into a full-time position. Temping is a great way to begin/begin again.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      This may or may not help. My husband’s best friend ask my husband to help with BG check for security clearances. My husband said sure. The investigator called and the conversation was not the best, until my husband said, “Buddy carries a key to my house on his key ring.” The conversation shifted dramatically, “What?!” My husband explained that he trusted Buddy completely. The interviewer hung up very happy.

      If you have someone like this in your life, someone whose house you can just walk into or house/pet sit while they are away, they could vouch for your trustworthiness. That could be of some help.

  28. Maggie*

    I’m pretty sure there are studies out there about this, but in your personal experience – do you feel that being overweight is a hinderance to getting a job? (I mean this purely based on appearance, regardless of whether someone is actually healthy).

    The rationale given is usually that being overweight signals laziness or lack of willpower – is any of that actually true? When people talk about difficulty in diets willpower seems to come up a lot, but does it actually give indication of how they’d treat other aspects of life?

    (I expect people who are in hiring roles would exert better, more well-rounded judgements, but it doesn’t seem to apply to all).

    1. orchidsandtea*

      I wonder if it depends on both the individual and the industry/company culture. Clearly, some individuals mistakenly believe that weight and character are interrelated. And some cultures are very focused on how things appear — I’m thinking of fashion, politics, etc.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yeah, I think industry culture, and possibly also geography. I work at a college in the Midwest, and it’s a pretty negligible factor.

        We had a really good discussion on here a year or two ago about how “how you do one thing is how you do everything” is actually pretty fallacious–we all have priorities, and we can’t all devote 100% to every endeavor under the sun. We’ve all met someone whose office is clean and house is dirty, or vice versa. And how I do my job is not how I diet, and it’s definitely not how I art, as evidenced by the horrible crafting mess that’s currently wrecking my house. LOL.

    2. Amber Rose*


      My last job during the interview, the owner repeatedly brought up that I would have to walk up and down the stairs to get to the filing. It was pretty blatant why he kept bringing it up. I think I was only hired because the office manager, who was also there, was horrified by his behavior on my behalf.

      Thing is, that’s not always going to be true, it’s just that it’s certainly true with a good chunk of people and some of those are going to be hiring managers.

    3. katamia*

      Weight doesn’t indicate how lazy or motivated someone is, but enough people think it does that it could be a problem.

      For employers who want employees who look “polished” (common in postings for admins around here, at least), it can also be harder for overweight people, especially women, to dress in a polished manner, and even if they do dress that way, a hiring manager could believe that it’s impossible for someone over a certain size to actually be polished.

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        I think it’s not necessarily that it’s harder for larger people to dress “polished” (though limited/more expensive clothing selection for plus size women is a real issue!), it’s that some people just don’t see them as such. Similar to how, to some, black women’s hair is only considered “professional” if it’s relaxed or styled- the default image of “polished”/”attractive”/”professional” just doesn’t include larger sized people or differences. And it’s not even something that a lot of people are conscious of- a hiring manager may think that they are being unbiased, but when it comes to decision making time, their unconscious perceptions of the candidates may sway their decision.
        It’s a terrible thing, all round- none of that should matter!

        1. katamia*

          I’d consider limited/more expensive clothing choices to fall under the general category of “harder,” though. :)

          I agree with you, though–none of this should matter at all.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Oh no it isn’t. Coworker at Exjob, very overweight, looked better every day than I did on my best days. Polished and stylish as hell. I always was tempted to drag her along anytime I went clothes shopping (which isn’t often because I suck at it).

        1. katamia*

          It’s not that no one who’s overweight can ever look polished, it’s that it can take more time, energy, and money to look polished if you’re above a certain size (and for other body types, too, like for people who are very tall or very short). Not everyone has the ability or desire to spend that extra time, energy, and money to look that way.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            And, as others have said, sometimes being slender is a condition for being considered polished.

      3. mreasy*

        “Polished” is often used as dogwhistling for white/lightskinned and slender body type in job descriptions. It’s something thoughtful workplaces shouldn’t include.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Oh, this is a good question. I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t experienced any issues in my career (academia and corporate). All of my jobs have had training/outreach/client services components which require a lot of visible interactions up, down and across the organizational chart. I’ve read/heard the same thing about overweight people and getting hired, so I may overcompensate to counteract those preconceptions – I’m conscious of being well dressed/groomed, I’m pretty outgoing at work (although that’s not my natural state), I’m very organized. I do wonder if it will become more of an issue if I want to move further up the corporate ladder.

    5. Anon for this*

      I hire people for an office job and I do not care about weight one bit. I will admit, however, to having a bit of a bias when choosing professionals in certain settings where I feel weight is relevant. My doctor is really overweight and I’ll admit that gave me a moment of pause. Then I realized just because she knows what is best, doesn’t mean she follows it for herself. I also go to a yoga studio that has a teacher that does not look like a typical yoga teacher. I actually like his class best! But, my initial first reaction was hmmm…. will his classes give me the workout I’m looking for?

    6. fposte*

      I think the rationales are BS but that being overweight can indeed be held against applicants. I would also say that the prejudice is variable and that region and field matter a lot.

    7. FishCakesHurrah*

      I’m certain it’s a hindrance. In past jobs I’ve had co-workers and superiors comment, with surprise, on how energetic, conscientious, professional, and hard-working I am. I guess they expected me to be a stupid sloth because I’m large. I’ve learned that if I’m am interviewed by a man or a male-heavy panel I won’t get the job. Never have. If my interviewer is a woman who is overweight herself I know my chances are very, very good.

    8. Jules*

      Not in good organizations. In terrible ones, yes. Ideally, managers should hire for their competency. But if they have a good pool of qualified candidates, it could be anything (race, gender, school they went to, street address they live at).

    9. MWKate*

      I’ve never personally been in a situation where I’ve felt I was turned down for a job because of my weight – but it is certainly always something I am concerned about. I’ve been told (by my very thin, petite mother) that employers will judge me based on my size, which probably contributes to that.

      I’m sure some of it depends on the region and industry (which makes me nervous as I am going to be leaving my upper Midwest city for a college closer to the east coast), but when it comes down to it – I think it’s just if you have an interviewer that is a jerk or not. Which sucks.

    10. Tuckerman*

      The rationale you brought up. In many instances, people gain weight because they dedicate so much time and energy to their jobs, they have little time and energy to work out or cook healthier meals.

    11. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Yes. I had one place tell me that I had to wear dress pants because jeans don’t look professional on overweight people. Direct quote. That was the first of many red flags that started waving in the breeze. I ended up quitting after 5 months total.

    12. twig*

      I had one supervisor who, when hiring for “greeters” (at a housing development) asked us to see if they were “height-weight proportionate” yes, it was a dog whistle. She often made remarks like that.

      Being that I was the largest person in that workplace, I often wondered what she said about me when I wasn’t around. Although— she DID hire me.

    13. Grease kitten*

      I feel that not being conventionally good looking and slightly overweight places me at a disadvantage in my industry. Mostly because it’s a good ol’ boys industry with mostly men in positions of power that would rather hire eye candy that they think they have a chance of getting in bed than someone who is unattractive but competent.

  29. Chicken may*

    I am job hunting, but I have plenty of time to find something. I’m in a grant funded position that is through an organization that is very unpopular with conservatives doing work that is associated with the ACA in a very conservative area. My grant is up in August so I’m applying for things I think I would like since I have some time. Anyway I had an interview and in it I had to do a short training presentation. I was thrown off because everyone was remote and I was not told that would be the case, then one of the people asked me if I voted for Trump. He asked after they asked why I was looking and I explained it seemed with the current political climate my grant would not be renewed. Another person said you don’t have to answer that and I didn’t. It really took me out of the moment and I did not do as well as I could have on the training presentation. At that point I figured it wasn’t going to be for me anyway. So I got the thanks but no thanks email from their HR person, and was tempted to respond saying it was inappropriate to be asked that in the interview and maybe they should talk to the person about it. I didn’t because I guess it wouldn’t have much of a point, it just made me pretty angry, and wanted to vent.

      1. Artemesia*

        I agree. When I interviewed 40 years ago, I was asked in a group interview — me and a panel of key players questioning me — if I planned to have any more children. I had one at the time. Yeah I am going to discuss that with strangers. I said ‘Well that is between my husband, god and me.’ Years later when I was running the department, I stumbled on my file — one of the people who voted to hire me stated it was because of my strong religious faith. LOL

    1. AFRC*

      I actually think it would be useful to mention that to HR. I’m glad the other person spoke up in the interview, but if I was an HR person, I’d want to know that that was happening. You can say it in an “I know that this is likely an outlier, but this happened in the interview, and I thought you should know about it.” And mention that someone else did step in. It won’t help YOU per se, but it would alert them to something that shouldn’t be happening.

      1. Chicken may*

        That is along the lines of what I was thinking. There were other red flags, like the four people doing the job I was interviewing for had all been there for a year or less and said no one else had been there much longer, an inability to really give a clear idea of the amount of travel, and some other overly paternalistic questions from the guy who asked me who I voted for to name a few. I was thinking the HR person has no idea since she wasn’t in the interview and they could really face some consequences for things like that happening. I don’t want the job so don’t care if it would help or hurt me in the future.

      1. NaoNao*

        It’s not illegal to *ask* offensive, intrusive, ill advised questions. It’s illegal to *make hiring choices based on the answers* so most savvy interviewers stay away from them.

        1. Natalie*

          Although in this case, even that wouldn’t be illegal. “Political ideology” isn’t a protected class federally or in most (all?) states.

  30. orchidsandtea*

    I negotiated a retroactive title increase! I showed my manager the 5×7 piece of scratch paper with 7 bulletpoints that was my entire job description and onboarding. Then I showed her the training and documentation I created for incoming customer service reps and admins, and we talked about the process improvement I’d done.

    Instead of “Customer Support Specialist,” my resume will say “Assistant Manager.”

    It’s my last day before maternity leave, and I’ll miss it here, but I am so pleased and proud of what I’ve accomplished. I’m leaving the team in better shape than I found it, and I learned so much from my coworkers. Also, my manager bought me a new electric kettle as a thank-you gift.

    1. Just Jess*

      Way to go! Just about anything is possible with the right connections, knowledge, and mentality.

      How long had you worked before requesting the revised title? Maybe this detail was on a previous post and this week is a follow up.

      1. orchidsandtea*

        Three months. I’m a temp! I disclosed my pregnancy when the temp agency made the offer, and the recruiter said “oh no problem.” I went, “Well, it’s a job.”

        Management hadn’t defined the role before I came onboard — they just knew they needed administrative help. I was expecting busywork for 3 months, but there was so much interesting work to do and the manager was happy to let me run with any helpful project. So I did define and perform the admin role, but I also went further by creating the job description, training materials, etc. that was needed.

        I’m pretending the US is Canada, so I’m taking a full year off, and we’ll see if they need me next March. I’d love to come back.

  31. Mimmy*

    What a week!!! Main questions: 1) I9 forms, 2) working two jobs with state agencies

    I started my short-term temp job (set to last approx. 2 months) on Monday even though the temp agency hadn’t contacted me by then (this is a contract project with a state agency). Well, the temp agency finally contacted me the next day, and the paperwork I had to do was surprisingly extensive, which totally ate into the time I wanted to devote to the project.

    1) Anyway, I have to fill out an I9 form and have it notarized because the on-boarding department of the temp agency is not in my state. So I went to the UPS store, but they are no longer allowed to notarize I9 forms. Has anyone else encountered this?

    2) The other job that I’m currently awaiting completion of background checks is also with a state agency. My employment counselor said this may be tricky come tax time and I wanted to get your take. The short-term assignment is, as I said above, being paid through the temp agency. The other job, as an instructional aide, seems to be going directly through the state agency hiring for the position, though I think it is also considered temporary. Hard to explain.

    Both jobs are within the same state department: The short-term project is through the Division of Teapot Users; the instructional aide job is through the Commission for Teapot Makers. These two divisions are under the Department of Teapot Services. So I just want to be sure that I’m not going to have a problem come tax time next year. Or if there are any other mines I should watch out for.

    But….employment….FINALLY!! :D

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I had no idea that UPS notarized things. Banks usually have someone on staff to notarize; I’ve been able to get it done even if I’m not a customer of that particular bank. Congratulations on your new job(s)!

      1. Shipping Guru*

        Some UPS Store owners/employees do notarize things. It’s a service that the parent company likes the franchises to offer. However, many store owners are hesitant to notarize documents because it’s a lot of liability for not a lot of reward. Many states limit the amount of money a notary public can charge to notarize a document, so you may be putting your name on the line for a few dollars.

        1. rubyrose*

          Yes to this statement about UPS offering notary services. I found I needed to call the store in advance to see if they had and notary and if so, what their hours were.

    2. fposte*

      It’s a pity the employment counselor wasn’t more specific, but I’m guessing she meant the withholding situation we discussed here a few weeks ago. Basically, if you withhold at the usual rate from those paychecks, you may not be withholding at a reasonable rate for the two together, so you’ll pay more taxes at filing next year. (You don’t pay any more taxes overall.)

    3. Former Notary*

      Pet peeve from when I was a notary: an I-9 is NOT notarized. I ran into this a couple times a month, unfortunately. A lot of companies are wrong on this.

      When something is notarized, you are saying “yes, this person is who they say they are to the best of my knowledge.” Signing an I-9 is saying “yes, this person is who they say they are and eligible to work in the US to the best of my knowledge.” Two different things. A good notary SHOULD refuse to notarize. In fact in my state (MT), the SOS has specifically directed notaries to not do so. When I was a notary, I did not touch them, period. Some may be willing to sign as the authorized representative, but IANAL and my company cited liability concerns to prevent all employees from signing, even non-notaries.

      Ideally your employer will find someone who (ideally) works for them to view your documents in person and sign the form. A lot of employers get around that when out of state by having you email/fax copies of your documents and stuff, but that’s their risk that they need to accept. I know of a few folks who asked a random person to sign based on their employer’s direction… I don’t know how well that would stand up if challenged. But if your temp agency has an office in your state, any of those people should be able to sign the form for you, I believe. This is really your employer’s responsibility to work out though, not yours.

      1. Mimmy*

        Well, I was under the gun on this, so I really didn’t have much of a choice.

        Here’s what happened: Fergus, the state agency director who approached me for the project, told me last Wednesday that I’d probably hear from the temp agency that day to get the ball rolling on me starting work. Meanwhile, we set up a meeting to discuss the project parameters for the following Monday.

        The day before our meeting, I emailed Fergus to tell him that the temp agency hadn’t contacted me, was it okay to still come in? Fergus says yes.

        Then on Tuesday, the temp agency finally contacts me and says that I needed to fill out the I9 and have it notarized ASAP (along with other forms online). Like–I only had maybe a day to have it done. The guy was hounding me a bit on Wednesday Because of the rush, I didn’t even think to check to see if there was an office in my state (I later found out on their website that there is). So I ended up going to our credit union, who was willing to do it.

  32. Rincat*

    I just wanted to tell the world how happy I am in my new job, and the main reason is because my bosses are night and day from my previous ones. I definitely left my last job because of management; I would have been fine with the work itself, but now I have a new job where I’m getting to do more of what I want to do, and for some really great people. Example: I kept trying to set up regular team meetings in my old job, to keep us all on track. My coworkers were happy to do this, but my manager rarely showed up to one. He would constantly cancel, or reschedule, then just not show up, etc. And these were just once a month meetings! It wasn’t like we were trying to meet every week. And forget one-on-ones…he’d never show up for those either. So we were left with very little feedback. I got to a point where if my boss did ask to talk to me, I would cringe, because he only ever wanted to talk to us if something was broken and he was freaking out about it.

    Now my new manager does informal check ins throughout the week, and a standing weekly team meeting, and we have a system to keep track of our work, and we discuss overall team and departmental goals. It’s wonderful. I don’t get micro-anxiety attacks when my boss wants to talk with me. My director is very clear about our department’s purpose and long term goals, and how we should do things. It’s amazing the difference!

    1. Spoonie*

      Congratulations! I totally get where you’re coming from on this. It feels a little weird sometimes, but it’s a good weird.

    2. Just Jess*

      Oh, that sounds lovely! Great for you. #ManagementGoals for me

      Did you ever get the feeling that management wasn’t being clear about purpose, vision, and long-term goals because they just plain didn’t know?

  33. rosenstock*

    what do you think is the right amount of time to wait before taking a vacation at a new job? i started my job in december 2016 and i’m planning on taking a week off in early september 2017. we’ll also be finishing a HUGE project at the end of august so it seems fitting for that reason also.

    1. ThatGirl*

      That’s plenty of time. Depends a little on company culture, but nine months is more than enough.

      We have use it or lose it PTO, so around here you have to start using at least some of it by June or risk being That Guy trying to take two-plus weeks off at the end of the year.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I think that’s more than fine. I also started a new job in December, and I’m planning on a week off in July, which strikes me as totally normal. 6 months in is the general rule– though I will likely take a few days in April for a holiday.

      1. Lord of the Ringbinders*

        Brit here. Wow. I took time off one month in. (Ours is front-loaded.) You actually wait six months before having a single day off?!

    3. Namast'ay In Bed*

      I think you’ll be fine! Though I started a job on a Tuesday and took a half day that Friday to start a week-long vacation, so I’m one to talk about taking vacations early into a new job!

      Granted, this was agreed upon as part of my job offer, but still. (I was pleasantly surprised though that they let my borrow from PTO for it, I had assumed it would be unpaid.)

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      Generally, it’s not a good look to take time off in the first three months at a new workplace. You’ll be going on nine. That’s totally fine!

    5. BRR*

      You should be fine. At a lot of places they have a policy when you can take it and you can always ask. Two of my three employers had a three month waiting period and one had a six month. Six months felt forever to wait to take a day off. I can’t imagine what it is like for the people who have to wait a year. There is some more debate on whether you can take an entire week off but again I think you’re good.

  34. To Certify Or Not Certify*

    If you’re changing career directions, how do you determine whether getting certified is going to help with that change? I’m not talking about lawyers or doctors who most definitely need more degrees. I mean stuff more minor like accounting, event planning, marketing, things like that. I’m having a hard time figuring out if more study would help with my slightly changing career path. How do you figure that out?

    1. Amber Rose*

      Probably an informational interview or at least quick conversation would be the best way? Find someone who has the job you want and ask them if they think certifications are important or not in their field. Or even someone who hires in that field.

      1. zora*

        This: informational interviews. It really varies depending on the industry, the job, which certification you are talking about. Find some people on Linked In who have job descriptions you want to be in in 10 years or so and check their credentials, and preferably, find some people you can actually set up informational interviews with to ask more about the sector and advice on your career trajectory. I didn’t do this stuff when I was younger and Im really regretting some of my decisions now.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Look at job openings in your field to see how often and in what context (must have/nice to have) certification is mentioned. I have certification in a field where most people aren’t certified, but it shows up in almost all job descriptions (including ones where it isn’t appropriate, like entry level positions).

      1. To Certify Or Not Certify*

        Okay, first, A+ for your screen name being a Leverage reference; that just made my day.

        The problem with this field is that it’s one of those unending circles where you need can’t get a job without having the experience but without the job, you don’t have the experience. I was thinking getting certified would be my best shot at some kind of ‘experience’ that could get me something entry-level to build more experience and grow from there.

    3. Sibley*

      If you’re thinking of a CPA license, yes, it will help. It’s a widely known and respected designation. Other ones maybe not. Looking at job postings and talking to people in the field should tell you. Don’t ask the organizations giving the certifications.

  35. Lord of the Ringbinders*

    All my usual, enjoyable work is on hold while a colleague and I spend ages clearing up some mistakes made by our predecessors that have just come to light. I normally love my job but this work is so mind numbingly hideous that I am climbing the walls. Argh.

    1. kbeers0su*

      I’m in the same boat here. Although I’m the one who dug up the issues that I’m now trying to address. I took over my office in July and ran non-stop until December. In January things were slow so I started poking around. Found tons of issues- files that were not upkept, files that are missing, notations that don’t match files, etc. I LOVE organization, but doing this for six weeks is excruciating.

      I should have known better than to go poking around, but it’s what I do. In our newish house I found a weird mark on a ceiling tile, which turned out to be a leak, which turned into thousands of dollars of new plumbing. Maybe there’s a lesson to be learned here?

  36. Cruciatus*

    I’ve been working as an administrative assistant for 1.5 years at my current place of employment (one of many branches of a huge university system). I applied for another role on campus and received an offer to interview. So now I’m struggling with whether to tell my current supervisor or not. If it were an external position I wouldn’t. But it will likely be odd when I need time off twice 2 weeks from now. One block for the doctor and one now 2 days later for my interview for “appointment” or whatever I have to say to get the time approved. It’s in a building that is attached to ours so I could get “caught” at any time walking to/from the interview in a suit. My boss knows everyone and surely knows people there, but I’m hoping that they are discreet (but…). I’ve only been here 1.5 years and I’ve just finally started learning the position, but my employer offered early retirement to eligible employees and many people took them up on the offer and now jobs are starting to show up in the postings. I have previous experience with some of the duties in the other department and it would be a 33% pay increase (which sounds super high, but keep in mind I’m paid pretty poorly), and I think I could be more myself in that role. I feel a bit stifled currently and our office environment is somewhat toxic (which seems impressive since there are only 4 of us). But maybe I don’t want the job/they don’t want me and then I tell my boss and she’s worried every time there’s a new posting or something. I’m also not 100% sure she won’t find fault with me if they ask about me despite there never being any problems (that I’ve been made aware of). There’s a lot going on in the department currently and I know there’s never a good time… What is proper etiquette for applying to another position on campus? I hate feeling like I’m screwing people over. I need to change my mindset but that is easier said than done.

    1. NW Mossy*

      Check your employee policy handbook – it’s highly likely that there’s a policy about internal transfers and what your obligations are as the potential transferee.

      I’m actually in the middle of this myself, as I just applied to transfer to another team at my company. Our policy says that you have to tell your current manager if you’ve been selected for an interview, but prior to that, it’s simply encouraged.

    2. Wing Girl*

      I’ve changed offices/jobs several times in my career at a university. I personally chose to let my supervisor know anytime I was interviewing elsewhere on campus. Partly because confidentiality on my campus is truly a myth and partly because I personally felt it was best to be open with my supervisors. In most cases, it allowed me to have a conversation with my supervisor about why I was looking, which gave the supervisor the opportunity to determine if they were able to make adjustments in my position to keep me (providing higher level or different work).

      There was one office I worked in where alerting the supervisor that you were job hunting could result in negative consequences, but that was an extremely toxic office. But that was an anomaly and in most cases helped increase my reputation as being open, honest, and upfront (which can’t have hurt with being able to move around campus to different jobs). But you need to assess if being open with your current boss might result in negative consequences.

    3. INeedANap*

      You could be me! I work at a large university and I too am looking to transfer between jobs and departments.

      I would just block the time off and not try to justify it – or if you have to justify it somehow, call it a “meeting”. Then let your supervisor know only when you would need to give her a head’s up she may be called as a reference.

      1. Cruciatus*

        Good luck to you! I think I’ll feel better if I just tell her instead of worrying if she already knows/could find out. She could see me walking there or coming back from the interview and then the jig will be up. I don’t want to but she’s worked in universities all her life so I can just hope that she understands that this is sometimes how it goes…

    4. Sadsack*

      You should find out what their policy is for this. They may have a policy that you must inform your manager if you apply for another job at the same place.

    5. Cruciatus*

      I checked the handbook and there’s nothing in there regarding this, but there are 3 pages about telephone etiquette. I even tried searching for keywords and nothing popped up.

      1. Sadsack*

        In that case, I think I would ask the HR if there is a policy. You don’t want to accidentally not follow policy and have your manager find out from someone else.

  37. Inexperienced*

    I’ve just been unexpectedly promoted to a role that I don’t really have enough experience for. It’s something where you need to make major decisions very quickly, and talking to other people in this role, they refer to “gut instinct” a lot. This is all well and good if you’ve been in similar situations and can make a call based on how those went, but I haven’t got that.

    Is there any way to fast-track this? What I’ve been doing so far is chatting to other people in the position about their horror stories, because everyone’s always happy to share those and it gives me more idea of what all can go wrong. But in my experience you have a hundred near-misses for every horror story and you learn just as much from the near-misses, even if you’d have a hard time recalling them later.

    Any advice? I’m obviously making it a point to get very familiar with the procedural/legal aspects – but so much of it is “use your best judgment.”

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      Trust yourself. Making a bad decision is often much, much better for an organization than not making a decision. An inexperienced guy who takes ownership is vastly more preferable than the renowned expert who sits back and makes sniping suggestions.

      Also, be prepared to fail. When you have to make major decisions under time pressure, you’re not going to be right 100% of the time. You will make bad decisions that affect things. Accept responsibility and learn from them. Analyze why things went wrong so you can avoid having them go wrong again, not so you can make excuses.

      Read up on imposter syndrome also. It could be playing a part here too.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      1)I have mentioned this one before but it’s been very helpful in my life. If you have to make a decision, you are uncertain and there is no one to ask, pick the option that is the easiest to fix if it is wrong.

      2)Have one very strong reason, well thought out, for your decision.

      3) Look for people willing to be informal mentors. In a similar vein, start a list of contacts, note next to the name of the person what it is that you think they can help with.

      4) Decide you will autopsy your mistakes and you will not make the same mistake twice. (This will be very helpful, don’t skate by this step.) Conversely, when things go well, see if you can reuse that solution in other instances.

      5) There are people upstream from your decision and there are people downstream from your decision. You can train your brain to quickly sort who will be impacted by your decision. This might help you figure which way to go.

      6) Where possible follow your decision along, how is it unfolding in real life? Where are the bumps? Where are the road blocks? This could be as simple as you sent forms to Pete for completion, so the next day you check in with Pete to see how that is going. Follow up, ask people if they have what they need, ask if it is in the format/organized the way they need it. Make notes to self.

      7) Let’s say you make a big mistake. The minute you realize something is wrong, tell your boss or the person impacted the most by your mistake. Offer to help clean up where you can. It’s amazing how making this simple commitment can go a long way to helping us make solid decisions. The more strongly I became committed to fixing my errors the sharper my judgement calls got.

      8) Last one. Let’s say you are faced with Choice A and Choice B. You have to decide FAST. If one choice offers you more options than the other, take the one with more options.

  38. Backwards and in high heels*

    I am very annoyed. This week my company told us we were not reaching a very important goal in time, so we are required to work at least 50 hours per week. I am not annoyed because the hours, but because TPTB never said anything about how hard we were working before (so it’s not like we are failing because we did not work hard enough), and because they justified this new rule saying that if we do fail, they will have to start with lay offs, my coworkers are freaking out thinkin they are going to be the first one because they are the newest hire or they are the most inexperienced or they essentially duplicate other coworker’s job.

    I am so very extra annoyed they did not offer anything like an extra day of PTO. Granted, if we manage we will keep our jobs, but it highlights a non spoken policy in my company of being very strict and vigilant about PTO usage, closing eyes to the fact that many people work 12 hours a day or weekends. TPTB could also have said something more about the day when we run out of money, so my coworkers who can’t really stay a day without a job, could decide now if they will have notice enough to get a new job and decide, for example, that they need to start looking next week. All they said was a vague “we are not going to run of of money until April…”. Does that mean May? Do you know a timeframe or it’s just speculation?

    But I guess I’m supper annoyed bcause I see this as a failure of management that’s being dump on us. TPTB should have know before this week that we were not going to reach the goal. Why did they wait or why they didn’t notice it? I am so tired now, and I still have to work tomorrow.

    1. AFRC*

      I am facing a somewhat similar situation in my job. The difference is that, thankfully, we’re all non-exempt and can’t work more than 40 hours per week. I just wanted to say that I COMPLETELY understand the frustration, and I’m sorry. I hope you can get out of there soon!

    2. meg*

      I would definitely be job searching if I was at any company talking about running out of money. I know you’re exhausted, but that is a Bad Sign, and they could easily decide to cut their losses sooner than April or May.

    3. Artemesia*

      Having been on a sinking ship, I hope your co-workers who are at risk are looking hard to move on; there is not much mercy when this happens.

  39. Liane*

    I’ve noticed lately that for the short-answer articles a lot of people are commenting about multiple questions in one reply. I find this makes those threads hard to follow. Does anyone else have this problem.

    1. Lord of the Ringbinders*

      I get online at around 6am in the UK (long commute!) and am often one of the first comments – I would feel pretty awkward posting multiple times!

    2. Claire (Scotland)*

      I much prefer that to one poster making multiple comments to respond to different questions, and I think it makes perfect sense for those type of posts.

      1. JaneB*

        Me too! I don’t have time to read all the comments on weekday posts but often way to follow up one q that is relevant/interesting to me and having each thread clearly about one of the topics makes that a lot easier to do!

  40. Jaguar*

    This is on the topic if Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) and if they are an actual path to improving a flagging employee or if they are a fog horn that you’re about to be fired.

    I don’t have any experience with PIPs (never heard of people being put on one and have never been on one myself), so I’m hoping to understand them a bit better. There seems to be a strong feeling in the AAM community that being put on a PIP doesn’t mean you should start freaking out. However, another workplace-related site I visit (link in reply) seems to strongly be saying “Freak out! You’re about to be fired!” is the correct response. So, assuming you think you’re doing fine in a job (as opposed to know you’re on thin ice already) and you get put on a PIP, how concerned should you be?

    1. Amber Rose*

      It depends on the office culture, and the boss who put you on it. In some offices or with some managers, PIPs are definitely signals for firing. It’s hard to judge level of concern without knowing about the company.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This. I’ve been on two, both completed. The first one ended with a layoff much later that had nothing to do with my performance, and the manager really did want me to complete it successfully and stay. The second ended in my being fired for not working up to standards, which I suspect were never going to be reachable even if I had been Rebecca of Sunnybrook Frigging Farm. So it really does depend.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There seems to be a strong feeling in the AAM community that being put on a PIP doesn’t mean you should start freaking out.

      I think that’s a misinterpretation! Or maybe I haven’t communicated clearly enough on it. You should absolutely assume that a PIP is a sign you might be fired at the end of it, and you should be actively job searching. But you also shouldn’t assume it’s a fait accompli, because people can and do complete PIPs successfully and go on to have a successful tenure in that same organization. The trick is that you can’t necessarily know how yours will end up, so you have to plan for the worst — but it won’t necessarily end up that way.

      1. Jaguar*

        So, from the top two answers in that link:

        While there may be some workplaces in which the PIP is actually used to improve an employees performance, it’s usually management’s way to provide documentation to justify an employee’s termination in a way that pre-emptively invalidates any claim to wrongful termination.

        In THEORY a PIP is supposed to outline your weaknesses, and help you correct course so that you can be a happy and effective employee where you and the company live happily ever after.

        the REALITY is that you are most likely being set up to be fired for cause. There have probably been subtle, and even not so subtle hints that it’s time for you to go. They have likely been trying to push you out the door and now they’re going to throw you out.

        Would you (or anyone else that cares to comment) disagree with those assessments?

        1. NW Mossy*

          I would, since I recently helped an employee through this process and she’s now back in good standing. Lots of tough conversations and even more soul-searching from her, but she did it and I’m amazed at how far she’s come. And it’s better for me, because now I have the high-performing employee I need and don’t need to spend time trying to find and develop that in someone else.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah, I disagree with that. I’d say that the reality is that sometimes the PIP is just them getting the paperwork together to fire you. Plenty of others times it’s a sincere effort to see if you can get back on track (while also preparing for the possibility that you might not be able to).

          Any blanket statement about these is wrong.

          More here:

          1. Jaguar*

            Well, they couched their descriptions with qualifiers as well (“usually” and “most likely”). I guess I’m wondering how cynical people should be about them. Is it a sign you are done in your job one out of five times? Four out of five? Obviously, being in the situation and being able to feel which way the winds are blowing plays a huge role in this, but I’m trying to get an understanding to the point that, for example, if a friend tells me they were put on a PIP, should I tell them, “dude, you’re gonna be fired – start looking now!” or should I tell them, “just so you know, sometimes companies do this a legal obligation before a firing – not trying to freak you out, though.”

            Strong cynicism towards PIPs receieved, at least, 118 different people’s endorsements on SE (I don’t have enough rep there to see the actual breakdown of up/down votes – but it’s a lot for that particular SE community).

            1. Jaguar*

              There is also a few comments there to the effect that even if you get through a PIP without losing your job, it will linger with you and depress your opportunities and advancement in the future for having being on it. Anyone figure that’s unfair?

            2. Jaguar*

              A better way to put this question might be:

              In the absense of any evidence prior to being put on a PIP that your job might be in jeopardy, if you’re put on one, how likely are you to get fired no matter what?

              1. Jaguar*

                Actually, let’s change that:

                In the absense of any evidence prior to being put on a PIP that your job might be in jeopardy, if you’re put on one, how likely is it that your employer wants you gone?

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I just don’t think there’s an answer to that because it varies based on employer. I don’t think anyone has stats on it; we’re all pulling from what we’ve seen personally and heard about it, which doesn’t lend itself to hard numbers. The best you can really do is to say that it’s smart to be prepared for the possibility that you’ll be fired at the end of it, but also know that it’s not necessarily a foregone conclusion.

                  But if you forced me to give a number, and I were basing it solely on what I’ve seen in organizations where I’ve worked and clients who I’ve coached, I’d say that there’s at least a 1 in 4 chance of someone going on to do well in the job post-PIP.

                  But that’s NOT saying “75% of PIPs are just ass-covering paperwork on the way to firing you.” Because plenty of those 75% that didn’t work out were cases where the manager would have been happy to keep the person had they met the metrics in the PIP, and was truly open to that being the outcome.

                  But often when things are bad enough to result in a PIP, it’s because the person truly isn’t the right match for the needs of the job. Sometimes they are, and the PIP helps clarify for them what they need to do to show that. But sometimes it just turns out that it’s a skill mismatch.

                2. Jaguar*

                  Okay. Thanks, Alison!

                  As mentioned, I have no direct or second-hand-through-people-I-know experience with this. It seems to me, though, that if an employer sincerely hoped for an employee to improve their performance, there would be some coaching and optimistic talks about improvement before something with the threat of a layoff behind it comes up. If someone is blindsided by a PIP, surely that must mean they’re being pushed out, right? I mean, I guess the employer could just be an unthinking dope, but it seems like a pretty clear you’re-about-to-be-fired sign in this case.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  A good manager will definitely give you feedback about an issue before going to a PIP. But loads of managers are terrible with feedback — not giving enough of it, not giving it at all, waiting too long, etc. It’s probably the number one problem I see with managers. So it’s definitely plausible that you could have a manager who sucked at giving feedback who thought she’d been clear enough pre-PIP but wasn’t. Or an employee who did get clear feedback but misunderstood how serious it was.

                4. Jaguar*

                  Okay, yeah, that makes sense. Thanks again. I still can’t quite shake the feeling that something is rotten in the state of Denmark when someone gets blindsided by a PIP, though. I imagine if I found myself in that situation, I would operate from the assumption that axe has already begun to fall.

        3. Damn it, Hardison!*

          I had to put an employee on our version of a PIP but it was truly done with the intention of improving her performance. I had numerous conversation with my manager, dept. head, and HR about how to write the PIP, set realistic goals, coach her, etc. – basically, there was a lot of effort to get her successfully off the PIP. She left for unrelated reasons about 5 months later but in that time had really improved. One of my last acts before she left was to send a formal letter to HR for her personnel file documenting her impressive improvement (she received a copy as well). As context is important – this was in an at-will employment state and in a private academic environment (which in my experience is slow to fire).

        4. AMPG*

          It can easily be both, honestly. I successfully coached someone through a PIP at my last job after they missed an important deadline due to poor planning. The process lasted several months and we did see the changes we needed to see for the employee to keep their job. However, the fact that we had gone through that process meant the employee wouldn’t get another chance to correct a serious mistake in the future – they’d be fired immediately.

          1. Jaguar*

            Meaning that there’s a zero-strikes rule for that employee once completing or moving past the PIP? If so, it seems like the point of it is still implicitly to push the employee out, as the threatening part of the PIP is still basically in effect.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              For the same mistake as what the PIP was for. Yes, I can see a zero strikes rule or more like a zero tolerance rule. If X has been a problem right along and the employee is put on PIP for it, it just makes sense that once the PIP is over the employee had best NOT do X again. I mean why would a company keep a person who fails to do X, when that is a part of their job?

              I am thinking that someone who survives a PIP is going to be very careful about everything. But they are going to make sure the items targeted in the PIP are never again an issue.

        5. Anonymized*

          The REALITY is that they want you gone. I am a recipient of a PIP where the requirement is that I find another job within the company. Everyone at the company can see my last bad performance rating. I was not permitted in any way to refute the last performance rating. Consequently, is it a surprise that I will not fulfill the PIP? After I found work within the company, I was informed I could not do it as I was not authorized although the client wanted me. This is a checkmate, game over.

  41. Lady Julian*

    I’m considering going back to school for an MLIS degree. I know, I know . . . but I got into one of the top (online) programs, and I’m really excited about it! But funding is an issue . . .

    So here’s my question: I’m looking for scholarships and can’t find much that I actually fit into, demographic wise; I don’t match the careers, racial demographics, or family background the scholarships are looking for. What suggestions do you all have about finding good scholarships?

    1. katamia*

      Have you tried looking for variations on “mlis scholarship [group you belong to]”?

      Also, I’m planning to apply to MLIS programs maybe to start in fall 2018, so I’ve been looking too. I’ll reply with a few links I’ve found (I have not necessarily vetted all of these because that concern is still a little ways away, so do your own due diligence before applying to anything to make sure they’re legit).

      1. katamia*

        Not sure if you’ve seen these before, but I’m just dropping them here in case you haven’t:

    2. dear liza dear liza*

      If it’s a state school, you can ask about getting in-state tuition. That was offered to me by two different LIS schools as financial assistance.

    3. Collie*

      In addition to scholarships, consider trying to find work at a library now if you don’t already. Many employers will assist with funding for education (though some require that you work there a set amount of time before they’ll contribute). I won a state association scholarship and searched for others, but didn’t have any luck beyond the state association.

    4. an almost MLIS grad*

      If you are a woman, PEO is a philanthropic educational organization that offers scholarships, grants, and very low-interest loans to women pursuing higher education (undergrad and grad). You would need to be sponsored by a PEO chapter to apply. There’s info on the projects on the website, as well as how to reach out to indicate interest in applying.

      Website is peointernational DOT org. (or google PEO scholarships)

    5. Zombeyonce*

      Have you tried FastWeb? It’s a scholarship aggregator that finds scholarships you never would have known to even look for on your own. If it works the same way it did back when I was in school, you fill out a profile on yourself and it finds a ton of scholarships that you might be eligible for. They won’t all work for you since it’s looking at so many, but I’ll bet it will find several you could apply for.

  42. (IN)PatientlyWaiting*

    I have been interviewing for a position with a hospital. I have had 3 separate interviews; the first was with the director of the unit, the second was with two of the nurse managers, and the third was with the VP of the contract group that works with the hospital and the unit.

    Every interview was at least an hour in length and I walked out feeling extremely good after each interview. I sent follow up letters after each interview and a follow up letter to the director of the unit after the final interview thanking her once again for meeting with me and giving me the opportunity. I never interviewed with the same person twice.

    The person who was in this position previously is also a good friend of mine and personally recommend me for the position.

    In the directors response to my final follow up she said that she hoped to have all candidates reviewed by Friday (last week) and my references where called the day prior to that, but I have not hear anything since.

    What should my next step be? My friend who recommended me for the position keeps dropping hints, but I have not heard anything from the director of the unit.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Just keep waiting :) It’s only been a week, and sometimes it takes longer than expected to pull a formal offer together, if one is coming. Keep in mind that just because your references were called, it doesn’t mean an offer is coming to you. I would try as hard as you possibly can to take your mind off it over the weekend and if you don’t hear from them by say, Wednesday of next week, drop an email to whoever is your interview contact to see where they are in the process.

      1. BRR*

        Yup wait. I know it’s hard. Things get delayed and as Not a Real Giraffe said, it doesn’t mean an offer is coming. I can guarantee they didn’t forget about you.

  43. writelhd*

    Since there’s a handful of people here in job searching phase or in my case, supporting someone who is, here’s a poll for all:

    In the past when you job searched, how long did it take to land new employment? Were you employed, or unemployed, during the search? What was the general job market like? Did you ultimately get, or accept, a job in line with your expectations, or above/below them somehow?

    1. Blue Anne*

      Getting my first job out of college took about 6-8 weeks. That was an admin job in Scotland and I was unemployed. The job market was tough, and I got the job through networking. The pay was lower than I expected but otherwise it was in line with my expectations.

      Since then I’ve moved into accounting and it’s never taken me more than 3 weeks to find a new job. Some in the UK, some in the US. Job market for finance bods is great.

    2. Manders*

      I’m a terrible source of data, because I had a scattershot approach to job hunting in my last go round and happened to get really lucky.

      – I was sending applications on and off for… maybe six months? Some personal stuff got in the way. I did turn down one job offer I got fairly early in the process because it turned out to be a marketing position for an industry that I personally find distasteful, and they hadn’t made that clear upfront.
      – I was employed full time.
      – I ultimately got offered and accepted a job that was perfectly in line with what I needed. The pay was a little lower than I was hoping for, but I decided to treat it like a paid internship and learn as much as I could. That’s worked out very well for me, and the lower pay was balanced out by lower insurance premiums.

    3. writelhd*

      I tried to reply to myself as part of this thread and ended up posting this as a separate thread down below–SORRY!

      my own story: I’ve only ever job searched after graduation from undergrad. I started searching about a month before I graduated, in December or 2009, (if you count nervous and embarrassing unsolicited phone calls to leaders of the companies I wanted to work for as “job searching,” before I gradually learned better how to job search.) If I don’t count taking small odd jobs and one small continuing research project from undergrad, it took me until October of 2010 to land a full time professional job, so, 11 months, and it’s been an amazing job I love and am still at. Probably had 10 unsuccessful interviews during those 10 months and uncountable more resumes sent out with no call backs. The job market was not awesome (cause 2010) but not terrible (because mid-sized city with a variety of things going on), I was a new grad with an unusual but arguably marketable degree (physics.) It was very important to me at the time to stay in the same city and not move.

    4. Amber Rose*

      My first real job hunt after graduating took five months, and I was trying to move to a new city so it was complicated by that. My first job hunt while employed took about three or four months. My second job hunt right when everything crashed took close to a year, and I got a job by sheer blind luck immediately after I quit the one I had. In terms of expectations, I met those for pay, but I keep getting jobs in industries and companies doing things I never imagined I’d end up doing. Not in a bad way, just a surprising way.

    5. Coffee and Mountains*

      My last new job (within the last year) took about 18 months of serious searching/applying to get. I think it was a factor of lack of jobs for my qualifications and a flooded market where I live and not being willing to move. During that time, I interviewed for six positions and withdrew my candidacy from two other positions because of salary. I didn’t keep track of how many resumes I sent out, but it was probably only one or two a month (if that).

    6. Lord of the Ringbinders*

      I’m in the UK and switched fields to the charity sector last year. My job hunt lasted two months but I ended up getting the first job I applied for (also the one I wanted most – yay).

    7. Bad Candidate*

      I started looking for a new job in 2006, was employed until we moved to a new city in mid 2008. I switched my search from old city to new city in early 2008, and found something in September of that year. It was below my expectations pay wise and responsibility wise but I needed a job since we’d just moved without anything lined up.

      It was a horrible fit and I started looking again almost immediately. I was laid off in March, 2009, and looked for a year, finally taking a Call Center job in April, 2010. That was well below expectations but my unemployment had run out.

      Later that year a staffing firm I had previously applied to contacted me about a temp to perm job that paid $2.25/hour more, had better hours, and I’d have my own desk. I jumped at that, even though I’d start out as a temp. Meanwhile I went back to school to finish my Bachelors. It took a year to get hired on full time but I’ve been here ever since.

      I finished my Bachelors degree in August, 2013 and have been looking for something else since early spring of that year. To say I’m discouraged at what amounts to a more than decade long search for “something better” would be the understatement of the century.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      in 2012, after a layoff:

      1. In the past when you job searched, how long did it take to land new employment?
      One year. Right before the last tier of my UI ran out.

      2. Were you employed, or unemployed, during the search?

      3. What was the general job market like? Did you ultimately get, or accept, a job in line with your expectations, or above/below them somehow?
      Mostly crap jobs–I lucked out when I got the one at Exjob. It was way above.

      1. I hope not very stinking long. I doubt there will be four tiers of UI now and I expect it to run out soon.
      2. I’m unemployed now.
      3. The exact same entry-level crap jobs with the exact same companies. That’s why I’m looking out of state. Even St. Louis has nothing. But I have a few more skills now that I didn’t have then.

    9. Lemon Zinger*

      I was already employed and contacted for a job I’d applied for several months prior. The hiring process took a little over two months because I was interviewing at a large public university… during the holiday season too!

      I got the job no problem and am very happy with the role. I’ve been here for over a year and am a valued and respected member of my team.

    10. Just Jess*

      I got my current job through a well known and publicized job site. I did not know anyone at the org., but I had a relevant masters and five years of experience. It helped that the org. was expanding this particular department by 30 positions in six months. I had searched online for two hours a week with very little networking for three months while employed. Great fit except for the management, communication, training, and job duties…haha

      At the job before that, a family member routinely forwarded vacancy announcements from a niche industry specific newsletter. The general public typically does not see these vacancies, and I was eventually a great fit for one. I had searched and networked for about a year while employed. Best job I’ve had so far

      My “first” job was obtained solely through networking. I knew someone through a club who knew someone through another club and was hiring. The job was posted publicly on a decently popular website, but I was a perfect fit and had a friend vouching for me. I couldn’t have asked for a better first job and I searched and networked while underemployed for at least a year to get it.

    11. RavensandOwls*

      Let’s see…

      First time was post failed graduate school career (that’s a long story), and involved a move out of state to be with my now spouse. This was 2009, the economy was garbage, but I was at the beginning of my career, so… 2-3 months? The job I took did not pay well but it paid enough for the area and my partner worked too. This was also pre-kid and mortgage.

      Second was when I was staying in town; a few people and myself had been let go from a school due to a gant budget kerfluffle (not my fault – mismanagement on admin’s part). That took 2 months in 2011, and I was still teaching science then, which is a high needs field.

      Third was when I gave up on teaching entirely and quit my position. I got… well, I got really lucky and landed a paid scientific internship on campus (I was considering going back into lab work and this paid a great deal for a summer gig), and during the internship I got the job I have now. That was another 2 months in 2015 with a pretty decent economy, and this job was a step up in responsibility, a big step up in pay, and has set the tone for the rest of my career.

      I’ve been searching since December but really applying starting in January, once we found out about Spouse’s promotion and PCS. I’ve put out a ton of applications and had a few bites back on interviews, but these are all for jobs at or related to my current level.

    12. CrazyEngineerGirl*

      My first job after college took 15 months. This was the height of the recession. The job was definitely a case of underemployment, but, you know, 15 months. I started looking for a new job the day I was passed over for a promotion at job 1. The entire process from that day to the first day at job 2 took 23 days. Job 2 was as an actual, real engineer. The pay was less than market value, but it was in the right field so I counted that as a win.

    13. Tim*

      I just looked up the exact dates from when I started at my current company, in 2015. For context: just out of college, specific industry, entry-level.

      27 April – applied online. This was my first day of the job search. I applied to 3 that day and 9 total over the next month and a half.
      11 May – phone screen. I then scheduled an interview for the 15th which ended up getting rescheduled twice.
      21 May – interview finally happened.
      12 June – received offer.
      09 July – started work.

      I was contacted by three more companies for interviews but only after I’d accepted the offer – turns out my company moves faster than average for the industry, even though it felt like it took forever.

  44. Blue Anne*

    I’ve now been doing bookkeeping at a nice little accounting office in the Midwest for about six months. I have fairly nice co-workers, I’m a little underpaid but have good benefits, we’re halfway through February and I’m still not being expected to work super late on tax returns, I have my own cube with a big desk and a dual-screen computer (BIG improvement over laptops and hotdesking). I have three bosses and really like two of them. The work is fine, I’m learning a lot, and I’m making a good impression. There’s room to move up to staff accountant and even partner, if I want to get my CPA. It’s pretty great.

    But I have never in my life felt so trapped in a job. I get to the end of the week and I don’t know what I did, where the time went. I spend Sunday night dreading going in the next morning. I’ve never understood the stereotype of the depressed gray office drone so well before. Every week seems to take forever but at the same time, blend into one huge blur of depressing wage-slave time that goes by in a blink. It’s only been six months and I feel like I’m wasting my life.

    I don’t know what to do. This is a pretty widespread feeling, right? How do others cope with it?

    1. Amber Rose*

      I started filling my days with after-work activities. I joined a class, and an online roleplaying group, and I schedule a night to catch up on TV shows I like. I mark my days by the non-work things I do. After all, achievements don’t have to be work achievements.

      1. SJ*

        Same here. I started a new job in September, and while I enjoy everyone I work with and I’m paid waaaaayyy better than before, I’m not challenged enough right now (my bosses know this) and I start to dread going to work and the sameness of every day. While my old workplace was toxic and my job was dead-end, it at least had more variety and had me getting away from my desk more. The days felt short and the weeks flew by pretty quickly, but they don’t now.

        I know it won’t always be like this — this place loves internal promotions, and my bosses repeatedly acknowledge all the the good work I do, so I just need to work through it until I get a new position and get busier with bigger things. So I’ve made it my mission to fill my off-work hours with things I enjoy. I started volunteering with a homeless shelter, I’m writing and reading more, I’m going to start exercising and going to a Zumba class (which I was going to start in January…oops), I’m seeing my friends more and going on an international vacation with them at the end of the year, and I’ve bought tickets to a ton of concerts, since I love live music. Having things like this to look forward to really helps me pass the time when work is dull and I don’t want to go.

    2. Manders*

      I cope much better when I’m actively working on a creative hobby in my off time. You don’t have to write the next great American novel or build a house by hand, but it really helps to have a regular activity that involves making something tangible.

      I also need to keep a really close eye on how I’m treating my body when I’m feeling this way. I have a tendency to forget to exercise/take my iron, B, and D supplements/use my happy light in the winter/eat tons of carbs and no protein for a few weeks and then get slammed with that brain foggy feeling.

    3. Bean*

      Couple of thoughts:

      1. As others have said, you need a good hobby/activity away from work.
      2. You are paying your dues in this role. Talk to your boss(es) about growth opportunities and your career path.
      3. Take a long hard look at whether this is the career for you.

  45. RavensandOwls*

    Heaven help me in this job search. I just found out Dream!Startup said no (boooo) after a really good interview, and the other one I had lined up didn’t end up happening because apparently, they’d already offered the job to someone else and forgot to take the position off of the list of open jobs. I only found out because I called the recruiter, having not had a response to my email, and the response was essentially, “Whoops, my bad”.

    On the other hand, I have two more interviews lined up in the coming weeks, and I’ve spoken to a staffer local to where we’ll be moving but I’m really nervous. We’re a month out, the job I have now has gone onto the job boards (and since it’s a mid-level university position, people have been calling me and asking about it), and the cost of living is triple where we are now, so no work is not an option. ><

    1. Lady Julian*

      Oh, this happened to me once! I spent six months as a long-term substitute teacher in Prague, and because my birthday fell during the period I was overseas, I took myself to Rome as a treat. I asked a friend to cover my classes for me, but she wound up coming along instead.

      Thankfully, we ended up getting along together well and I enjoyed her company. :)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        She did a big update round-up recently, but I think she’s much more careful not to seem to be pressuring letter-writers to provide updates, whereas I am all about the pressure.

        1. EW*

          The pressure and results are much appreciated. Even when the LW doesn’t follow your advice, it is so refreshing to see how real world advice turns out and is implemented.