open thread – February 24-25, 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 :)

{ 1,677 comments… read them below }

  1. DH of an ex-Dom*

    My wife is looking to return to work after a very long hiatus. Her life and work history is difficult and complicated:

    * At the age of 15 she left home due to years of sexual abuse by a step-parent.
    * She completed high-school, barely, while working full time in a fast food restaurant. By the time she left she was
    the night manager, with 5 night staff reporting to her and a responsibility for the night shift’s deposits.
    * At 19, she got into the adult escort business (legal in her then-city), working full-time as a dominatrix.
    * Part time at first, and then increasingly, she assumed role of office manager for her agency.
    * In that role, she supported the on-call girls by:
    – taking calls from clients
    – arranging drivers
    – following up with the girls to ensure appointments were concluded on time and that everyone was safe
    – dealing with any situations that went out of control: calling security, calling police and filling out reports,
    coordinating the ‘Bad Johns’ list with other agencies
    – handling of money and associated paperwork: client call-out fees, invoicing and accounting, paying office bills
    – ensuring all required agency paperwork was on file with the police
    – counselling and supporting the girls emotionally, and with work- and life-related advice
    – generally acting as ‘mom’ to everyone working there
    * She left that job after 5 years, having transitioned nearly full time to office manager. The office closed down
    shortly thereafter (for unrelated reasons).
    * She has two children (now 15 and 12): the older had some special needs in early childhood, and the younger was
    just clinically diagnosed with Aspergers (which we have known for years). This is here only because it has caused
    her to have to learn how to interact with medical specialists on their behalf, to act as their advocate, and to
    assist in their treatment.
    * During the second pregnancy she was diagnosed with acute endometriosis. Her case was so severe that the chronic
    pain gradually crippled her and stole most of her life. Despite increasingly-high levels of opiods, her life
    deteriorated to the point where she could barely stand, hardly walk, and was effectively stoned most of the time.
    Before things changed, she was down to 4-5 fully-coherent (but still physically limited) days in a month, and 7-10
    where she was completely bedridden and nearly insensate. Other days varied between those states.
    * Six years ago, she signed up for Adult High School through a local polytechnic. She focused on completing her hard
    science courses (Math, physics, chemistry) that she didn’t take in High School, as she wanted to get into
    Agriculture. She graduated on the Honor Roll despite her chronic pain and medications.
    * During a one-year hormone-suppression therapy, her pain diminished enough that she attended University classes
    full-time, getting good marks. She attempted to continue when the therapy was over, but her pain and mental state
    forced her to drop classes to part-time, and then drop out altogether on medical leave. She has not returned.
    * Over the past 11 years, she has had three surgeries to try and assist with her endo. Ten months ago her ovaries
    were removed, putting her into surgical menopause.
    * Since the most recent surgery, the effects have been astounding:
    – Almost all of her pain is gone
    – She has almost completely weaned from all opiods: no more fentayl patch, and dilaudid down to 2 mg/day
    (from over 80mg/day). Daily pain mostly countered now by OTC medication.
    – Her cyclothemia is almost completely under control of medication
    – Cognition, memory, empathy, energy, and quality of life have all improved dramatically. Her worst day now is far
    better than her best day of two years ago.

    So that brings us to the present. For the first time in over 16 years, at the age of 41, she would like to look at getting a job. She will be focusing on office manager positions — part time, short-term, or temp to start with, until her endurance and confidence returns. The idea of creating a resume or discussing her past in an interview terrifies her, however, and she has no idea how to proceed.

    As I see it, the major issues are:
    * How do you deal with a 16 year gap in work experience? Does her medical history play any part in explaining it,
    either in the resume or in the cover letter?
    * How does she demonstrate experience in the work she is looking for now, given that it came from an industry that
    most people aren’t even comfortable acknowledging exists, much less want to talk about?
    * More generally, can she even include any of her work history and the skills/responsibility from there, given that
    they are 16 – 20 years old and can no longer be verified?
    * Should her schooling be included? (I presume so, since she has little else to show during that time period.)
    If so, how do you handle dropping out for medical reasons?
    * Does being the mom to two ‘special’ kids warrant inclusion anywhere? She says it can be written to show her
    adaptability and learned skills: I think it has no place in the sorts of jobs she’s looking for.
    * Who does she use for references? Her physical and mental state since moving to this city 8 years ago has precluded
    her volunteering or making any connections other than personal (and medical).
    * At what point, if ever, should she bring up that she is not, and never will be, ‘healthy’ by some peoples’ standards?

    As you can see, life has thrown my lady a lot of curveballs, but she has managed to survive it all, and is now happy to be moving into a new phase. She is empathic, intelligent, warm, sensible, and competent, and would make a great employee in the right position… but I have no idea how to convey this to an employer when her life, on paper, looks so… awkward and off-putting. Hoping all y’all can help. Thanks in advance!

    1. ThatGirl*

      I think starting with temp agencies or on part-time work is a great way to build some job history and references.

      I think the gap in her work experience is best explained by saying she was both home with her kids (very common) and dealing with personal/health challenges that she has overcome or that have improved dramatically.

      I do not think that your kids warrant inclusion on a resume or cover letter – it could potentially *maybe* be relevant in an interview if she’s had to navigate bureaucracy. I say that as someone with a brother on the spectrum with significant developmental challenges; while those skills can be somewhat transferable it’s not quite what most employers want to hear.

    2. Collie*

      I can’t respond to most of your questions, but I’d say a 16 year gap might not be a big deal since many women will be out of the workforce to be a stay at home mom for that period of time. I don’t know much about office management jobs, but I suspect she may have to start in something that isn’t management before moving up to that sort of position. I personally wouldn’t be put-off by the administration duties performed in the escort business, but how that is perceived will probably depend on the industry and individual receiving her resume. I’d also argue that, while what she’s done for the kids is incredibly valuable and no doubt brought many lessons and experiences, I don’t think it belongs on a resume or cover letter. And probably not in an interview, either. The health issues may be brought up after she’s hired if it’s necessary and she’s comfortable sharing but she’s not obligated to share.

      Hope this fills in some of it for you, though I think others will probably have better answers!

      1. Is it Friday Yet?*

        I agree with Collie. I would not use medical reasons for explaining the 16 year gap. I would advise that she say she chose not to work because she wanted to be at home with her children, but now that they are older, she is looking to reenter the workforce. Whether or not that is true, I think it is a much simpler answer and easier for interviewers to understand than any medical issues.

      2. Lily in NYC*

        Question – is being an office manager really a management position? In my experience, it’s an admin role with no management of employees – it’s the “management” of the office, not the people in it. I’m sure there are larger companies where the office manager has the admin staff as direct reports, but I really don’t know.

          1. Anna*

            This. My best friend was an office manager. She oversaw the office AND the front desk receptionist, so it was a management position and an admin position.

          2. Anon13*

            Thirding this. I’ve actually never worked in an office where the office manager didn’t manage people, though I’m sure there are plenty. I’m having trouble remembering the specifics before my last job, but at my last workplace, the office manager managed all of the general admins (the two receptionists, the runners, the mail person, the bookkeeper). She also shared an admin with a partner in the firm – she obviously co-managed that admin, as well. At my current job, the office manager manages two part time employees (one works remotely, about 10 hours a week and the other works in the office, about 30 hours a week, so he is close to full time). I’ve only worked for small businesses, though the last one was significantly larger than my current employer (~65 people vs. 7), so it’s definitely not solely dependent on size of the company.

        1. Thomas E*

          I guess my history is relevant here. I resumed working 1 1/2 years ago after a fifteen year gap caused by illness.

          I didn’t have the back story of looking after the kids and the illness was mental health with a stigma.

          To do it I had to essentially build a cv from scratch… Take educational courses which gave me academic references, volunteer, start my own business (with provable clients) which got me a part time job which I knocked out of the field to turn into a full time job.

          Now I no longer have a blank CV, and am taking a masters degree to help me take the next step.

    3. LisaLee*

      Her work history sounds a little like my mom’s. My mom was unemployed except for some very minimal retail work for about 15 years and got back into the workforce about 5 years ago.

      My mother had good luck applying for temp/part-time jobs at community colleges and universities. They’re usually looking to fill some more specialized/higher level positions with temps, which gave her good skills. She could reach out to teachers at her Adult High School and university classes, explain where she is today, and ask them to act as references.

      If your wife is still interested in going to college, she might try going part time and using her enrollment to get internships and specialized student jobs. A lot of niche jobs in universities are held for students these days (for example, I worked in a natural history museum and a library conservation lab and I had lots of friends who worked in research labs). These jobs usually pay a bit above minimum wage, too.

      I’d just explain the gap honestly: “After having my second child, I was diagnosed with a long term health condition. Thankfully I’ve now recovered and I’m excited to reenter the workforce.”

      1. Breda*

        Same: my mom has no college degree and was home with me and my sister until we were in middle school. She was able to get a part-time receptionist job through a neighbor who worked at a real estate agency, and now, 15ish years later, she’s one of their top agents.

        I mention this not just because I’m incredibly proud of my mom, but also to show that plenty of offices won’t be overly disturbed by a long employment gap while you had kids at home. (I’m also thinking of how in my city, childcare for two kids would likely cost more than my current salary.) In addition to applying for part-time jobs, ask around with your friends and neighbors: they may know of an opening and be able to vouch for your wife’s intelligence/work ethic.

    4. Temperance*

      Has she been volunteering or working in an office environment at all? I admit that I skimmed her background, but office managing is a step up from regular administrative work. I do think that temping might be a good start.

      I do not recommend that she bring up parenting children with disabilities, or the fact that she worked 20 years ago. Is additional schooling a possibility for her?

    5. rubyrose*

      In addition to what ThatGirl and Collie said, I would suggest she take some computer classes/seminars now so she can show she has computer skills and that she is motivated to do what it takes to get into the workforce.

    6. Jessie the First (or second)*

      I think most of the backstory here will not (and should not) be communicated to potential employers – so your concern that what her life looks like on paper being off-putting is unnecessary worry: employers won’t see all that! In a cover letter, she can simply say that she took time off work for family and for health issues that are now resolved. Those reasons are true, and also vague enough that they sound just like any other common reason.

      Given the gap in employment, it may not be possible to start off as office manager. She might have more success looking for temp positions in any kind of clerical role, even if it is just data entry. I believe you that she would be fully capable of it! But just logistically, in terms of being able to land a job, I think “office manager” may be a goal that is a few temp jobs away.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        Exactly what I came here to say. Don’t include all the details of her life over the years, it only complicates things and could feed into biases of someone reviewing her background. A few words about taking care of her family (no need to mention any medical/health issues) is all that is necessary. If pressed during an interview, talk about raising a family in broad generalities.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      This strategy may not appeal to her, but it worked for a friend of mine.
      She had been out of the workforce for numerous years, as you say here, for many reasons. She took an entry level job and tried to be a bit strategic about the company she chose. (Close to home, opportunity for advancement and in her case she wanted flexible hours.These were the things she chose as important to her. ) Once she landed the job, she knocked it out of the park in every way imaginable. Of course, she eventually was recognized and got promoted, once informally and the second time formally.
      It probably took her a year and a half to two years to move along like this. She was patient with the process.

      FWIW, I think your wife is a very impressive person. She has pulled herself through a lot of crap. She’ll get this one, too, I can see it from here.

      1. zora*

        I just want to second the sentiment that your wife is an impressive person and a total badass!! She has gotten herself through so many obstacles, I am super inspired by everything she has overcome and gotten to where she is now! Wishing you both all the luck and let her know there’s one internet stranger out here pulling for her!!

    8. Merida May*

      Just to add to some of the other comments: if there isn’t a financial need for her to start paid work immediately beginning with volunteer positions might be a good first step to pad her resume and get her back into working in the current job market. She’s had some pretty rough circumstances to deal with health wise, and I would hate to see her get a job she really wanted and have the adjustment back into work mode catch her by surprise or agitate some of her health conditions in a way she wasn’t expecting. Maybe a slow roll would be a good transition back in?

      1. DH of an ex-Dom*

        Thanks for all the suggestions so far. Responding here as a catch-all.

        She is definitely not looking to go full-bore, full-time into a management position, so I may have mis-used the Office Manager term. It was primarily there to explain what she HAS done, and would like to do again… eventually.

        Current thoughts are to look for part-time (and temporary) positions in admin, reception, etc. I hadn’t thought of an agency, so that’s a good avenue. I am fortunate enough to earn enough to support us all, so I very much like your suggestion of volunteer work to get experience and fill her resume.

        See, that is the main question — which, I admit, I buried somewhat. How do you make a resume when you have no experience in 16 years? Does anything from that far back ‘count’ … even in a cover letter? My just-graduated-HS 18 year-old’s resume looks more filled out! Should her adult ed go on there? Any of her University?

        Loudly heard that the medical stuff stays off, as do the kids. Thanks for the advice so far!

        1. Anonymous Poster*

          When I used to temp with a staffing agency during summers they never even wanted a resume if you’re going that route.

          Does the education really matter for what she’s applying for? Everyone kinda assumes you have a HS diploma, so it doesn’t seem relevant, and this is a sales document.

          The past jobs do matter because it shows she has demonstrated skills in the past, even if they’re far in the past. Don’t do gimmicky family achievement resumes, because they don’t work, but do put the past jobs on there. Address on the cover letter that she’s now looking to return to the workforce after a hiatus of being a stay at home mother, and highlight the skills she’s demonstrated in past jobs. The medical issues and whatnot… well, you could say something like, “After taking time off to deal with family issues, I am now ready to return to the workforce. Given my past experience with x doing things such as y, z, and w, I believe I’d be a great fit for your company as a .”

          The university could go on as education with a date in the future, but again remember your resume is a sales document, so only if it applies or matters to the position.

          Good luck!

        2. athiker10*

          I recently looked over resumes for interns and for a non-management position. I would include the Adult high school. I’m not sure how the university classes might be denoted. Maybe include strong skills at the top? And start with a steady volunteer gig that she can include at the top with maybe a line between that and the older jobs to say that she stayed home with the kids in the interim. Include old positions that have relevant skills learned? I’m definitely not an expert, so I’m wondering if maybe she can get away with being vague about the employer since it’s so long ago?

        3. Ama*

          I have no idea where you’d find such positions listed these days (this happened pre-internet job hunting), but when my mom went back to work she found a part-time receptionist position for a local tennis club in the paper. Lots of rec center type places need part-time staffing for their front desk because they both need someone there all the time and they often don’t have the budget for a full-time person who would require benefits (or sometimes they do have enough for one full-time person but need someone to fill in on the hours not covered by them). She had a little work experience when she applied because she was a substitute preschool teacher but she had virtually no office work experience at all. But she could work the hours they needed so they were happy to bring her on “temporarily.” (I think places like that expect pretty high turnover so it doesn’t bother them as much to try people out.) Your wife would probably have more relevant experience than my mom did at the time.

          “Temporarily” turned into her still being there, more than 20 years later, and she even ended up taking up tennis because the other employees there kept asking her to join them.

        4. RainyKeybord*

          About 5 years ago I returned to work after staying at home raising kids for 10 years. I had work experience from way back, but everything else was volunteer related – leading fundraising, PTA leadership, etc. I totally relate to the blank resume dilemma. The key to my success finding a job was working my network. I had coffee, tea, wine, etc with anyone I could think of to let them know I was trying to get back to work, what I was looking for and the challenge of finding a job after so many years. Eventually that footwork paid off via a friend of a friend who took a chance on me. We had coffee and I was able to make a personal connection before they even saw my resume. At that point, the resume was a mere formality. I was brought in as an independent contractor (low risk for them). After a year I was converted to a hired employee and have been moving up in the organization ever since. Your wife sounds like a rock star and maybe there’s a job opening waiting for her somewhere in her/your network. Good luck!

      2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        I think that volunteering could be a good idea for several reasons. First, it might help her connect with people who could serve as references. Second, admin work has changed DRASTICALLY in the past 16 years – lots of companies don’t do paper filing or, say, dictate letters. Being quick and comfortable on the computer is pretty essential. She may need to update skills to be competitive for even entry-level admin positions. Nonprofits tend to be much for patient with volunteers than with employees. How are her computer skills?

        I agree with others who’ve suggested that the whole break be explained as being a stay-at-home mom. That is unlikely to arouse suspicions or lead to intrusive questions.

        1. DH of an ex-Dom*

          Computer skills are good – not crackerjack, but solid word-processing/typing skills. Some excel, no powerpoint. Also no prejudices or fears w.r.t. tech (which some out-of-the-workforce-since-last-century people may have), and she picks things up very quickly.

          Plus, I’m extremely technical in my job and hobbies, so can assist with learning anything that doesn’t require an instant turnaround.

    9. Female-type person*

      My mom returned to the work force in her mid-50s, newly divorced and newly sober. She hadn’t worked outside of the home since the mid 1950s and was very wobbly in terms of confidence. Temp work was a life-saver for her. If you go into one office, you feel like an idiot because you don’t know how to use the copier or the phone system and you think you are the problem and your confidence takes a hit. If you are in multiple offices, like you are as a temp, you quickly realize NOBODY knows immediately how to use a strange copier or a strange phone system, and has to learn. This gave her recent experience and the confidence to eventually apply for “real” jobs. After a couple of years, she got a job that turned into a real nice situation for her as an office manager plus for an owner operated business. I think it is easier for a woman with children to explain a job gap (leave the health out of it, for sure) and I think now that her health has improved, she can take her time to find a really good situation that makes the most of her abilities.

    10. Kittymommy*

      Yeah, as others said the gap is easily explained by staying home to raise the kids. I also think due to the gap her previous employment won’t come up as it was awhile ago. Temping/part time is the best way to go and rethink the manager type positions for now. That may be her work history but it’s outdated. Her capabilities might allow her to move into that but I would think it’s unlikely a company would bite her straight into management with that gap. I also wouldn’t mention the kids as special needs, you’re right as it’s not relevant. Also don’t bring up the health issues. As someone who had very similar issues, no one in my office wants to know or cares. Later down the road, after she’s hired, FMLA may be able to come into play.

      Good luck to your wife. You seem like a great and supportive husband.

    11. Miss Elaine E.*

      Just jumping in to give kudos to the OP (and the lady in question). You, OP, are awesome for giving her so much support and for caring so much to ask the question here! I’m sure she owes a lot of her success to your help!
      That’s not to denigrate the lady’s perseverance and fortitude either. As other posters have said here, she’s survived an awful lot and has surely gained a lot of qualities that will make her an asset wherever she lands.
      Praying for the best possible outcome for you both!

      1. DH of an ex-Dom*

        Thank you, from us both. She *is* an awesome person — completely different from me in (so) many ways, but we share a core philosophy and sense of humour. Like many Survivors, she has esteem issues and doesn’t think she is as smart/capable as she is. It is a new experience for her to be able to count on her body being capable Every Single Day, and not having to be so miserly in rationing her ‘spoons’!

        (Wandering off topic… If that last sentence made no sense to you, go read this article:
        TLDR – Wikipedia summary
        The ‘spoon’ concept went a long way towards helping me see the world from her perspective, and it has made an impact on everyone I have ever shown it to. Such a great teaching tool for those of us blessed with health to gain some insight into Just. How. Hard. everyday things can be for those with chronic pain/conditions.)

          1. Another CPA*

            It’s come up here before and has become a not uncommon reference. It’s an analogy that’s so easy to understand.

    12. Life after Recruiting*

      Great advice by commenters and I would agree with all of it. In case no one mentioned it, for the love of Pete, please make sure her social medial is locked down right ( or public) or does not make mention of her past work in the adult industry. Lots of employers check social media.

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        I feel obligated to say that there might not be judgement (obviously locale-dependent) about her past jobs, especially since she worked for a legitimate business performing a legal service, and her job was based in tasks for administrative purposes as well as several increasing safety for other staff. It makes sense to keep your social media private for lots of reasons, especially if there is anything sexually explicit there, but just mentioning her previous work history shouldn’t read as shady to reasonable people.

  2. Feeling down*

    I need inspiring stories I got laid off and then scrambled to get a contract job which is a 40% pay cut with no benefits so maybe more like a 50% pay cut. I feel like I’ve taken a huge step back in my career even if this job is temporary.

    I would love to hear stories about your career hiccups or failures and how you bounced back!

    1. Mint Chip*

      I was fired from my first post-college job. I did retail for five years after that. I moved with my husband to a new city, got a job with a family friend in a completely unrelated field. Worked my way up into a more specialized area in that field. That department was then completely eliminated. I found another job in that field at a different company. After a year and a half, a third of us lost our jobs due to lack of work. I went back into retail for a while, then finally landed an entry level job in another completely different field. Got a promotion after 7 months. Feel like this is finally where I belong, where all my skills come together and I feel good about the work. I’m 35 and about 10 years older than most of my coworkers at my level, but I don’t mind at all!

    2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      I left a good job for what I thought would be a great opportunity at a startup. It was a huge mistake and I was miserable. I made it clear in my interview that if they expected 60/70/80 hours a week I was not the person for the job. They promised work life balance was important. Then shamed me for not working “as hard” (read – as long) as everyone else. I was laid off due to “funds depleting”, but really, the fact that I was the only one with a family and refused to work 80 hours a week is why. I got laid off right before my daughter turned 1. I was a mess and was terrified I had made a huge mistake by leaving my previous job.

      I ended up finding a job that pays more, allows me to actually do the things I like with very little of what I don’t, with a great commute and awesome coworkers. I would never have found this job had I not gotten laid off and been actively looking.

      My husband got fired from a restaurant job, was unemployed for a long time, got a job at a car dealership he hated, quit that because they wouldn’t let him have time off to come to me with Dr’s appointments (I was pregnant) was unemployed again for a while, then found a work from home job. So, it can take time, and it doesn’t always happen the way you think. But it can happen.

    3. K.*

      In 2015 I was laid off from a job I hated (I wasn’t upset to leave; I was upset to leave on their terms). In the aftermath, I did a couple of contract gigs, but there was some financial struggle in there too. I’m currently doing a long contract to hire somewhere where I’m really happy. I like the environment, the people, the work … it’s a much better fit. I have no doubt that you’ll land somewhere that works for you too. The fact that you’re staying in the work force is going to help you, I think.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I got fired from a job about 10 years ago, in the field I thought I wanted to work in the rest of my life. I worked retail for about six months before getting a contractor position in a different field that used related skills. It’s been nearly 9 years and while it took a while, I’m full-time now with good benefits, and from the get-go I was paid better and had better hours. The job is not glamorous but I’m good at it and on a totally different career path now that turned out to be really good for me.

    5. Can't Sit Still*

      I was laid of in January 2009, was unemployed for over a year, found a truly toxic job and held on there for 3 years, ended up quitting because it was so incredibly toxic, contracted for 4 years because I wanted to change industries, initially at a 40% pay cut, gradually worked my way back up the pay ladder, and have just accepted a permanent position with full benefits and a pay increase to the point where I’m making more than I was when I was laid off in 2009. I also went back and finished my bachelors during this time. It’s been a long slog, and I don’t know if I will ever get back to where I was in 2008 as far as savings and retirement go, but I’m pretty happy now.

    6. Nervous Accountant*

      In Feb 2013, I was fired from what I thought was an amazing accounting opportunity that I had gotten through a temp agency. I was still new to the field so my skills were lacking but a lot of the issues were personality related :( I had been struggling for a very long time with a lot of things, so to be jobless in the middle of tax season was a huge blow to my already low self esteem. I spent almost a month in bed moping and down. Eventually I got sick of the self pity party.I knew that tax offices weren’t going to start hiring until Octoberish, so between April-October I took advantage of my free time by going to the gym, studying for professional licensing exam and occasional part time work, and kept busy in my personal life as well (I look back on those days with extremely fond memories now).

      In October, I started applying for jobs, and went on a few interviews; I started an internship at a nice place, but another company had gotten back to me, so I gave my notice and started working at the new company (where I am now). That was in Jan 2014, a whole lot has happened since then, but I’m really happy where I am now and I can safely say I “bounced” back. It was NOT easy, and it’s taken years to finally feel accomplished and proud but…..I just think of it this way…4 years ago I was in such a bad place that when I lost a job I felt like my already small world was ending…..and I feel like I bounced back.

    7. Former Usher*

      I’ve commented here before about this, but I left a good job for what sounded like a good opportunity elsewhere. A little over a year later, my position was eliminated and I was given a choice of two months severance or staying on with a demotion and 30% pay cut. I swallowed my pride and stayed.

      About five months later I found a new job. It didn’t pay quite as much as I was making before the pay cut, but it was a huge improvement. Two and a half years and three raises later, I’m earning more than I was before the pay cut, and I was recently given a very prestigious company award.

      Hang in there, and write back with your own success story later!

    8. AVP*

      I had the world’s most disastrous post-college run of jobs. 3 that were meant to be temp but all ended terribly with awful references, followed by one that was meant to be a two-year temp position that ended after 2 months, also no reference. It was all a big confluence of issues – me being stupid and not understanding how jobs work, trying to break into an industry that is known for taking advantage of young people, drinking way too much and being very broke…anyway by the time that last one ended I was basically living on someone’s couch borrowing money because I was too depressed and stressed to get my s*t together.

      Anyway after a few months of that I managed to get a job that at the time I thought was “beneath me” in terms of salary and benefits and duties, but was a real in to what I thought I might want to do. Basically I got really, really lucky because the company was run by smart people who liked what they did and weren’t looking to exploit anyone, and were really committed to training people properly and bringing them up through the system. I’ve been here for 9 years now and now I run the place (and make a healthy living, although that took 3 years of stretching to get to).

      I don’t know if I have any take-away lessons, per se, but finding a company where people treat others right and are serious about professionalism and quality was a huge eye-opener for me, and it turned out to be worth the lowered salary. I’m not saying that you’ve found the right place, but that what sometimes can seem like a step back can be a step in the right direction.

    9. Jean*

      I was fired from my last 3 jobs – mostly for attendance related issues. (I’ve been dealing with multiple health problems since about the late 90s.) I’ve been in my current job for over 2 years, I’m working 30 hours a week which is so much better for me health-wise, and I’m making the highest salary I’ve ever made.

    10. LQ*

      I got laid off during the big 2008-2010 recession, I had to help shut down the nonprofit I worked for and believed in. Like you I took a 40% pay cut with no benefits and a WHOPPING step back in my career to a job I knew I’d hate (I was right) and a brutal commute (5 hours a day+), then that job had a temporary shut down. (I got paid more on unemployment because of my previous job than I did at the new job!)

      BUT! Even though the job wasn’t a great fit, I treated it like it was a temporary thing and a potential stepping stone (though I was out hunting other work all the time too, I just though I’d get good references from the place I was at). I did make it clear that what I was doing wasn’t my ideal skillset and that while I was great at the thing I was doing (I made a LOT of widgets!) I would be exponentially more awesome at something else. They moved me into a different area in under a year. It was a REALLY long year. But I’ve gotten 4 promotions in 6 years and another on the horizon. I’m interested, engaged, and happy with my job. I walk to work. The pay is finally more than what I made at my old job, but if I’d jumped to a different org I could have increased that more along the way I’m pretty sure. The benefits are better for the most part and I’m in a much better place. The biggest thing for me was working really hard to be the best I could possibly be at the pay cut job, and it sucked, it sucked so much. But it was worth it.

    11. Anon4Now*

      9/2015 – I left a full time job (I liked the job but did not like the toxic boss & co-workers) to go to school for a total career change. Last week on the job found out I had to have dental surgery. 2 days later our cat needed dental surgery ($800). Cat and I are doing well after having our dental procedures. I got an implant in 4/2016 and insurance paid for a portion of all the dental procedures.
      10/2015 – my spouse was told that his job would be eliminated effective 12/2015.
      11/2015 – landlord told us that she wants to sell the condo. We can buy it or please move out before end of lease on 2/2016.
      12/2015 – We moved to a new apartment (much better compared to the condo)
      12/2015 – Spouse got a job lead from a former co-worker, met with the recruiter, interviewed, got the job with a start date of 1/2016.
      Today – spouse loves his job and he wouldn’t have found this job if his former job was not eliminated. And I am going to have my program certification in 2017. Very excited!
      It was not easy to get to this point yet we are doing much better compared to what was happening in our lives in 2015.

    12. RebeccaNoraBunch*

      I was fired from my first job out of college/grad school in March 2009 after working there for a grand total of 4 months, and after job searching for more than a year before that. I was doing customer service, essentially, at an academic institution. Long story short, they brought in a new director for our department to “trim the fat” and it very quickly became an extremely hostile work environment. I was also still on my probationary period so one day I walked in and was escorted upstairs by my backstabbing, predatory manager, and fired. I carried everything from my desk across the campus to the parking deck in six plastic grocery bags, sobbing.

      It took me 5 months after that to find even part-time customer service work, and when I did, it was with an outsourcing company and I was taking calls from very unhappy customers. I was with that company as a contractor for a year, where I vastly improved my phone skills. I had a couple other short-term contract positions in call centers after that, and ended up landing in another field (still on the phone) in 2011 at a behemoth media company. I was finally making a decent salary and had benefits, even though most of it was in bonus rather than actual salary.

      Long story short, I took that as a huge opportunity and worked my tail off. After a year I transitioned to another company and took a pay cut just to have less stress, but it was not enough in terms of salary or growth potential, so I networked there…and in 2013 made the move to my current company. I’ve been promoted 3 times since 2013 and gotten 3 raises, with another bump on the horizon.

      I’m making almost double what I made at my first job 8 years ago, and I love my role. It’s a practically perfect fit. It wasn’t easy and it took a lot of hard work and tenacity on my part, but it can be done. My best advice for you is never to say the words “that’s not my job.” If something needs to be done and you can do it well, ask if you can do it. More experience is always better and it shows your abilities. You will eventually be recognized for all you can do and your willingness to be flexible and work hard.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        My best advice for you is never to say the words “that’s not my job.” If something needs to be done and you can do it well, ask if you can do it.

        I couldn’t agree more with this. I began working at a law firm six years ago in an admin-like role, but I knew I could do more than the client reporting they had me doing. So anytime our various paralegal departments were behind (which was often), I would volunteer to assist them with drafting assignments, affidavits, dismissals, preparing MDJ’s, whatever they needed. Then I created my own job within my own department, then was officially made a paralegal – seven months before leaving for another company where I would make 31% more than I was making at the firm.

        I’ve been at the new company now for a little over three years, was promoted twice, and last year I made almost double what I made at the firm. (I’m looking for a new job, but that’s a whole different story.)

        None of this would have happened, though, if I hadn’t been laid off from my first job after graduating college. I was an admissions rep at a for-profit school (not my dream by a long shot, but I had student loans to pay) making only $13 some odd dollars an hour with a position grade that would cap out at $14.50 – that lay off was a blessing for so many reasons. And it led me to getting my job at the firm (which ended up being terrible itself), which led to where I am now. My company’s not bad, I too walk to work everyday, and I’m really good at what I do and, thus, highly respected in my field.

        You too can bounce back, I promise.

      2. Lab Monkey*

        I’m pretty sure what happened, though, is you were working hard at a NY job, making dough but it made you blue. And one day you ran into Josh, so you decided to move to West Covina, CA.

    13. Hazel's Coffeepots to Go*

      tl;dr: The arc of my career hiccups/failures and bounce-back is a bit long, but has worked out VERY well so far.

      Early 2007: 6 months after leaving a 14-year stint with Company A to finally finish grad school, I’m hired back in a different but related role, helping implement a major new software package to be used in the dep’t I’d recently left. This is a term appointment, to last only until the new software is implemented. Starting salary: $45k. Final salary (following some very limited, low-key negotiation when they offer to extend my initial appointment): $59k.

      Mid 2009: The software is implemented, and NO ONE is hiring, either at Company A or anywhere else in my area. I network and conduct informational interviews like mad, send out a ton of applications, go on a reasonable number of interviews … and collect unemployment for 6 months.

      Early 2010: After an informational meet & greet with a director at Company B, he offers me a temp job in the same field I’d worked in at Company A, albeit at a lower level. I accept, for $36k (still more than unemployment). Within the next few months, I pick up a few part-time contract and seasonal jobs in or tangentially related to my industry.

      Mid 2011: Temp job @ Company B finally wraps up. There’s a long-term position available, but I don’t apply, after getting fairly clear signals from my boss that I probably wouldn’t be hired anyway. I continue with one of my contract jobs, for Company C, and collect unemployment during periods when there’s no contract work available. I continue to network, send out applications, and go on the occasional interview, but nothing pans out. While I try not to take it personally, this gets discouraging. The thanks-but-no-thanks, no-interview-for-you form rejections from the dep’t I used to work for at Company A really sting.

      Mid 2012: After more than a year of doing off-and-on contract work from home for Company C, they offer me 2 weeks of full-time work at a client site … 3 states away. I have a spouse and a middle schooler at home, so I hadn’t really considered travel-based jobs, but hey — I need the money, and it’s only 2 weeks; if it turns out I or my family can’t stand my being away, I go back to the work-from-home stuff once the 2 weeks are up. 2 weeks turns into 3, and then they offer me another full-time, on-site assignment: this time, for 2 months. After talking it over with the spouse, I accept. I travel home every other weekend; the spouse & kid visit at least 1 weekend each month, and all 3 of us fall in love with the city, to the point that I expand my job search to include companies here. For the next year, Company C keeps me working almost constantly, usually on the road (though I am able to commute to a company 90 minutes from home for 4 months … in the winter, in the Northeast). I’m making about $50k, though I’m an independent contractor and need to pay self-employment tax. However, they don’t offer benefits, and I’m never sure of a job beyond my current contract. I continue to send out resumes and go on interviews, but am able to be a bit selective since I *am* still working for Company C.

      Mid-2013: After turning down a few offers because the combination of salary, commute, and/or working conditions aren’t what I’m looking for long-term, Company D offers me $68k to do similar work to what I’ve been doing for company C … but as an employee with benefits, rather than an independent contractor, and with consulting and process improvement added to the mix on top of the industry-specific temp work. The downside is that it’s still a lot of travel, and I’d have to live with that for the next few years instead of telling myself I can stop at the end of each project, but at this point, we’ve figured out as a family how to make the travel piece work. I take the job.

      At first, Company D is a great place to work. It’s challenging, my coworkers are fantastic (which is key when you’re not just together from 9 to 5, but sharing a rental car and staying in the same hotel), and I’m learning a lot. Then, 9 months in, the president of D sells us to another company. Everyone keeps their jobs at the same salary, but our benefits take a big hit. I wait and see for a while, hoping some of the downsides of the merger will prove to be just temporary growing pains, and will be offset by improvements in other areas. They’re not. About a year after the merger, working conditions have deteriorated significantly, *and* the volume of work we have coming in and in the pipeline is dropping off fast. I stop deleting emails from recruiters unopened, and start responding to those that sound promising.

      Mid-2015: After a few months of conversations and phone interviews with several different recruiters and companies, Company E offers me a new consulting job — helping clients in my industry use the same software I’d implemented at Company A almost 8 years ago. With monthly bonuses on top of a $130k base salary, I just about double what I was making at Company D, so I take the job (and still have it).

      Sooo … it’s been a long and winding road, but I’m in a much better position (both professionally and financially) than I was when I left Company A at the height of the Great Recession, and it turns out that the flat-out rejections they sent me in the interim were probably the best thing they could have done for me.

    14. JHunz*

      I was fired for cause (performance) several years ago. I had been miserable and underperforming there for some time due to a combination of horrible management structure – management by burnout attrition is not how you build a strong team – as well as being assigned a bunch of work that was boring and high-stress but carried zero recognition with it. I didn’t realize how smothered I had felt until I walked out of the building, but I was still shocked and worried how I was going to keep us on our feet.

      Cue the frantic job search. Among the many jobs I applied to was a position that was the most interesting sounding posting I’d ever seen, for a position in a gaming peripheral company looking for a senior engineer to start an internal software team. I was clearly unqualified from a years of experience standpoint, and definitely wasn’t ready to be in an architect role. I still felt compelled to apply just on the off chance that something could work out. It was pretty nerve-wracking to honestly explain what had happened with the last position, but I felt like trying to lie would just blow up in my face. Long story short, I didn’t get the senior engineer role he was advertising for, but I was a good enough candidate that he hired me as his first team member regardless. My five-year work anniversary is Monday.

    15. Morgan*

      I became a temporary for a company I wanted to work for March 1999. When the department had an opening, I applied and thought I was going to be hired. While on probation, was called into HR about a discrepancy on my application. I checked “no” when asked about a recent traffic ticket. Had forgotten about a recent ticket which showed up on my background check. They thought it was intentionally and I had proof it wasn’t. They fired me and I cried for a week. That was Sept 1999. Then went to work temporarily for a utility company at almost $2.00 less Oct 1999. Became sick with the initial onset of what was multiple sclerosis. That was November 1999.

      Was on medical leave until March 2000, but was feeling better and secured assignment with current employer in Feb 2000. Been there ever since – 17 years. Guess things work out the way they’re meant to.

  3. Sad*

    My boss got let go today. I cried after it happened. I feel so bad about it. He was let go for lying and misusing his position. He had promised someone a raise in the future, and months later told this person to come out to dinner to discuss a ‘career opportunity’ (business dinners are common in our field). The business dinner was really an MLM pitch, this was career opportunity he was talking about. My boss also did a similar thing to an intern before this, promised a full time job and then took them to dinner to pitch the MLM stuff instead. The person he promised a raise to went to HR and the story about the intern came out shortly after. When they tried to leave the pitch, he told them any promotion or full time offer was off the table if they left. I was asked what happened because I set up the MLM presentation and business dinner. In my defence I didn’t know my boss brought them to a pitch under false pretenses, I thought they knew going in. My boss asked me to lie to HR and offered me money if I did. He told HR the MLM thing never happened and the intern only piggybacked on the other claim to get a full time job. I couldn’t lie. My boss called me an ungrateful traitor when he got escorted out. I know I did the right thing but my boss gave me a chance when no one else wanted to. He supported me going to college at night and let me work a flexible schedule. He paid me way more than what an assistant makes in this area. I feel awful about all of this. The manager let me go home early today because he knew I was upset. I’m on the train now trying not to cry. I feel so sick right now.

    1. MegaMoose, Esq*

      Oh wow, that’s awful. It sounds like your boss made some very bad decisions, but also that he supported you above-and-beyond. It sounds like you did the right thing, but I can understand why it would hurt. I’m glad you’re getting to take some time to process. I hope you can do something nice for yourself, even if it’s just curling up for a nap and being sad.

    2. MWKate*

      I’m really sorry that happened to you. What your (ex)boss said was inappropriate and cruel. Hiring you for a job, supporting your personal educational goals, and paying you for doing your job does not mandate that you cover up his gross abuse of power. You did absolutely nothing wrong, and the fact that you told the truth shows integrity – not that you are a ‘traitor’.

      1. straws*

        This, and it’s possible that his supporting you is what he was relying on when he asked you to cover for him. Someone being nice to you does NOT obligate you to compromise your own integrity or risk your own job.

      2. Whats In A Name*

        Yes, I was going to comment the same thing almost word for word!

        Sad, I know you are upset. I am so so sorry this happened to you. Please know that you likely got the support for continued learning and pay because you were a good employee and deserved it based on what you showed in the role.

        What your boss said is no reflection at all on you or your actions! It was cruel, unnecessary and untrue!

    3. Bend & Snap*

      I’m so sorry. I think the “ungrateful traitor” comment can really wipe out any guilt you feel. Nice people don’t do stuff like that.

      He was way out of line and you were just doing your job.

    4. Newby*

      You did the right thing! He sounds like someone who makes people feel indebted to them so that he can use them later. You are not a traitor and do not owe it to him to lie to HR.

    5. Rowan*

      This is a thing that comes up a lot in varying situations. We’re taught by the world of fiction that bad people are bad through and through. But in real life, people who do bad things often (always?) also do some good things. It makes it hard for our brains to deal with, because we have a natural tendency towards black and white categorization. Your boss is a shade of grey. There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself some time to grieve the good parts of him while also recognizing the not-good parts.

      1. Christian Troy*

        This is a good point. It’s very confusing in a situation like this to understand why a boss would take a chance on an employee but also put another employee in a difficult situation professionally.

        1. Creag an Tuire*

          Ex-boss sounds like the kind of person who values “loyalty” above all — which can sometimes manifest in good ways (“screw precedent, I’m going to help my employee out with night school if I have to slap HR up the head to do it”), but also in less-good (“If you’re really loyal to me, surely you’d want to be in on my side-hustle, right?”) and downright terrible (“How DARE you not help me lie to HR, you traitor!”) ways.

      2. SophieChotek*

        Dear Sad you have my sympathy in a difficult and challenging situation.
        Kudos to you for doing the right thing, but I understand it is a difficult situation.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Excellent comment. Very seldom is a person all bad or all good. Most of us are a mixed bag but lean toward being good people most of the time.
        Your boss did some good things for you and you can always cherish that. But in the end, he was doing wrong and asked you to help. You had to say no, it was not a choice for you.

        It could be that he felt you “owed him”. Well, shame on him. That is not how this works, when we raise up new workers they owe us NOTHING more than just doing a good job. Hopefully, they will pay it forward at some point in the future. That is it! Proteges, “mentees” do not owe anything further than that. And most certainly they do not owe loyalty to a boss/cohort gone sour.

        This means you owe him nothing. You are fine here. Him, not so much. You can do things here. You can grieve his poor choices. You can vow to remember the good parts and pay that forward to someone else. You can also continue rockin’ the job you have.

        I am sorry this happened to you. Some times people around us make really sucky choices and we are forced to watch the train wreck unfold. It’s humbling, really.

      4. Retail HR Guy*

        Yes! This captures my feelings exactly about one of my previous bosses, the company president. Great guy. Believed in me, mentored me. Had me over for his Christmas dinners because he knew I had no family in town.

        Then he was caught by a house guest, having put hidden cameras in his guestroom shower. The house guest went to the police. Charges were filed. My boss plead no contest and was let go from the company.

        Very mixed feelings about everything. I can’t condone what he did, but I don’t feel like he was faking the good things about him either.

    6. Volunteer Coordinator in NoVA*

      I’m really sorry, that sounds awful. You’re not responsible for other people’s bad behaviors and just because they did something helpful in the past, you didn’t owe him unwavering loyalty. What he said was crappy and not fair to you so try and remember that you weren’t the person doing anything wrong. Hope you can take some time this weekend to relax and take care of yourself.

    7. AFRC*

      I’m so sorry, but totally agree with others. Sometimes people who are shady treat some employees well in exchange for their loyalty. You did absolutely nothing wrong!!

    8. LJL*

      I’m so sorry. You did what you had to do. You are a strong person of good character and compassion. What you did was difficult and I can’t blame you for feeling how you do.
      I hope that helps.

    9. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      Whatever good he did for you, you already repaid him by doing your job well – and whatever lingering feeling of obligation you might have for him is outweighed by endangering your job and insulting your ethics by trying to get you to cover up his crappy little pyramid scheme indoctrination ceremony.

      I loathe MLM companies, and I think they should be illegal, their corporate charters terminated and their assets disbursed to shareholders. They’re predatory.

      1. Newby*

        Regardless whether MLM companies in general are shady, the bait and switch he pulled was extremely shady and definitely predatory. Making promotions dependent on participation in his side scheme is really really far over the line.

          1. Been There, Done That.*

            Once an HR recruiter at a college called me after receiving a resume I’d submitted for a job they’d advertised. She said it wasn’t about the job and proceeded to pitch an MLM she did on the side. I was startled–and mad, not least of all because I viewed this as a horrendous misuse of my personal information. I graciously declined, then called the college, found out who her boss was, got through to him, and told him what happened. I wish I’d followed up on the outcome but don’t know if they would’ve told me that.

      2. Observer*

        Could we please not derail? The issue has nothing to do with MLM – it would have been equally loathsome if the deal would have been a standard business opportunity or pressure to buy his products from a side business or anything else. It was a gross abuse of power, especially with the intern.

        1. Retail HR Guy*

          It’s the open thread. No reason commenters can’t start a side conversation about the suckitude of MLMs.

            1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

              Alison has shown herself very capable of moderating her own site. Just sayin’.

        2. Em too*

          I dunno. I think it adds an extra level here – it still wouldn’t be right if it was a less predatory side business, but it’s worse if you’re sucking someone into a pyramid scheme than if you’re just wanting to sell them stuff.

      3. Artemesia*

        This and to try to bully employees and interns into joining by threatening their job or permanent position if they don’t go along — monstrous. Glad the company had the integrity to fire him.

    10. Detective Amy Santiago*

      It is not your fault at all that you told the truth. I’m so sorry for what you are dealing with, but he is the one who made bad choices. Be gentle with yourself this weekend.

    11. Merida May*

      I don’t know… he’s not above threatening people into joining his MLM, the cynic in me wonders if all of those perks were him loan sharing you for insurance. I’m so sorry this happened to you, and you did the right thing by not lying on his behalf. It was a tough call to make and it just speaks to the strength of your character.

    12. NJ Lurker*

      Yeah, that’s just appalling. If there were any justice the guy would be in prison for fraud, but he’ll get a new job real fast. Seems like if you have the words “Director” or “VP” in your title, no sin is too great.

    13. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

      What an awful position he put you in! Many times the right thing to do is the hardest thing to do, and you absolutely did the right thing. Take care of yourself.

    14. Ama*

      So I have been in almost your exact position — I had a boss who seemed super awesome and supportive, and then one day he was fired for what turned out had been years and years of financial misconduct (he was basically exploiting a loophole in our reimbursement process to get double reimbursements). It was horrifying at the time and it really knocked me for a loop for several months afterwards.

      HOWEVER, as I got past the immediate trauma and disappointment I started seeing all the ways he had been trying to manipulate our work situation so I wouldn’t be able to catch him in his misconduct (he’d been at the company for 10 years and I only worked for him for the last 18 months). How after a couple of my attempts at doing his expense report for him he decided I didn’t “need” to have that on my plate and he’d just fill it out himself from now on. How when my coworker left and no longer had access to our budget system somehow my long-promised promotion to her position couldn’t happen for nebulous “HR” reasons, leaving him the sole person with access to our budget. How he tried to make up for said denied promotion by telling me I could charge a flight home as a business expense — I still remember the weird look on his face when I told him I had checked that out with the finance office and I didn’t see any way that would be allowable on our financial policy; I thought it was just confusion about the rules, but now I realize it was a test to see if he could get me to bend the rules the same way he did.

      In short, you are better off. You did absolutely nothing wrong and your boss is a manipulative asshole. I know it’s hard to see that now but it will get better, I promise.

        1. Ama*

          I almost did — they ended up shutting down our department but I was rolled into another one (which was a terrible job in many ways because that manager and I would not have chosen to work together if we’d had a normal hiring process, but it at least gave me a paycheck during the 2008 recession). I think the fact that he’d done most of his misconduct in another department before taking over mine probably saved me; unsurprisingly while my coworker still had budget access he behaved himself.

    15. Observer*

      He didn’t help you because he was being kind – he helped you because he thought he could buy you. No one reasonable calls someone a “traitor” for refusing to lie for them in such a manner and matter. But, you someone is an exploiter or thinks they “own” someone, that changes the perception.

      All I’m trying to say is that you didn’t do anything improper, you are not in any way shape or form the cause of his problems, and no matter what you said he would probably have been escorted out. The only difference would have been in the outcome to you.

    16. Aphrodite*

      OP, I am truly sorry for your pain. But know this: it will fade, your life has just gotten better. If he had managed to ensnare you at all in this, it would have been awful for your career. You were saved by his getting caught.

      I hope your new manager is a good and thoughtful and wonderful person. It already sounds like it.

      And on a personal note: I would love an update from you a week or two from now, not just to know you are okay but (selfishly) for my own interest.

    17. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      I’m sorry this happened, and I totally get why you’re upset. Your boss asked you to lie and offered you money, which is so incredibly unethical, and could have also cost you your job if you did it and they found out. You did nothing wrong, you must do whatever you can to look after yourself. Sending a virtual hug….it will get better, and I’m sure the powers that be are noting that you did the right thing by telling the truth. Hang in there.

  4. Just for Reference...*

    I recently found out, purely by coincidence, that the supervisor at my previous job was let go. I also found out that the company recently changed all direct numbers. I am not in the least bit surprised as the company was acquired three years ago and there have been a whole lot of shake ups; but while I have no interest in looking for a new job at the moment, I know that my references for that company need to be corrected. Would it be wrong to use the cell phone number for the supervisor, and the senior colleague (she is still at the company) who are my best references for that company, even though chances are that by time I need references again, neither of them will be working there any longer? Would it be better to use a random human resources person, even though I have never personally met that person (they dumped all the HR staff I knew).

    1. Lily in NYC*

      This is something you should ask your references – they might have a google voice number they’d prefer you to use or something…

    2. Business Cat*

      Absolutely use the cell numbers of the supervisor and senior colleague who know your work! Hiring managers understand that your references may not stay at the same job forever. I would get in touch with the supervisor to get their new company and title wherever they move on to, but in your references you can make a note like this:

      Sally Supervisor
      Teapot Design Coordinator – Pot & Kettle, Inc
      (Formerly Supervisor of Teapot Design at Chocolate Teapots, Inc)

      I use cell phone numbers for the majority of my references even if they *are* at the same location. Most of them are away from their desks for a good chunk of the day and are more easily reachable by cell.

    3. Mrs. Norris T. Wagner*

      I have a similar previous workplace situation and provide my former supervisor’s cell phone number when listing her as a reference. As already mentioned, I did make sure this was ok with her first. Additionally, recently I was requested to provide email addreses for my references and did not have those for all of them – it was a good opportunity to check in with them which I would recommend doing on occasion especially if they may be contacted soon.

    4. Pup Seal*

      Funny, I found out last night from a friend that a boss at a previous job was let go too. Though the job was a server position back when I was in college, and I have never put him down as a reference.

      I’d reach out to your former supervisor and ask him how hiring managers can contact him. I wouldn’t use a random human resource person because s/he won’t be able to answer the hiring manager’s questions about you.

    5. BRR*

      Use those two references and when you’re job hunting you ask them if they will serve as references. If they say yes ask them what their preferred phone and email is for you to give employers.

    6. CAA*

      Your references are the people you actually worked for and with. Even after they leave, they should still be used as references as long as they’re willing and their knowledge of you is reasonably current. Use these people whenever you need someone to verify that you know how to do a job and that you’re a good person to work with. Always provide their current contact info. Most people nowadays seem to prefer to be contacted on their personal cell phone rather than at their employer’s number, but whatever the person acting as your reference wants to use should be fine.

      The random HR person is only for verification of employment. Use this contact if you are trying to get a mortgage or your new employer is doing a background check and wants to verify the exact dates you worked at a place. For this, just put the current company’s main phone # and let the receptionist direct the call to HR.

  5. margarets*

    So I had bit of job search weirdness this week.

    About a month ago, I got an automated email telling me I did not get a job I had interviewed for. The interview had not gone well – the interviewer hardly looked at me, clearly had no interest in anything I had to say, and hustled me out the door as soon as possible – so the email was no surprise.

    The surprise was the interviewer emailing me personally this week to explain why they chose someone else. In no way did I solicit this information. This is the first contact I have had with them since the interview, and in the interview I definitely did not express any interest in getting feedback or an explanation for whatever hiring decision they made.

    I’m sure this person has some rationalization for doing it, but it would all be based on assumptions and projections.

    I find it odd. Is it odd? I feel like one rejection email is enough, and sending another, more elaborate one a month later is overkill.

    1. Loopy*

      I think it’s very odd and I would be a bit put off by it. Usually I like to move on from job rejections and not dwell on them unless I feel I really need to evaluate what I’m doing right or wrong in a big picture sense.

      Not a fan of unsolicited feedback in this context.

    2. lcsa99*

      It’s odd but it’s possible the interviewer felt bad for brushing you off during the interview itself and felt a personal explanation would make you feel better. She was wrong but I can understand that line of thinking.

    3. MillersSpring*

      Sounds like the interviewer emailed you in a misguided attempt to provide feedback to those who interviewed. Which as you said is usually solicited. Maybe another interviewee asked, and he decided to contact all other interviewees.

      I hope he acted out of kindness and generosity, but yes, it feels like double rejection and unnecessary.

    4. Turtlewings*

      My guess is they didn’t realize you’d already received the form rejection, and thought you hadn’t been notified at all. I’d take it as an attempt at a courtesy.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      At least the interviewer has been consistent about being odd through out this whole process.

      Eh, maybe she actually like you and felt bad about going with someone else. It almost sounds like the decision had been made before you interviewed, hence the awkwardness at the interview. Then her conscience ate at her so she set the second email to say why.
      Unless the reason why was nasty or the email was snotty, I would just try to put it in a good light and let it go. Sometimes bosses put employees in predicaments that make root canals appealing.

      1. margarets*

        I just wish people would realize that their bad/weird/guilty feelings are their own and usually don’t warrant involving another person.

        For some reason this sort of thing has been happening to me a lot lately – someone who wasn’t all that great to me in the past contacts me out of the blue, apparently never considering that I was fine with NOT hearing from them. Blegh.

    6. Taylor Swift*

      You read plenty of people here wishing they could get feedback like this. Sure, it’s unusual. But if it’s not useful to you just ignore it.

      1. Taylor Swift*

        Also, I don’t think you should read it as the interviewer attempting to really double down on their rejection.

    7. Whats In A Name*

      Where is the person who earlier this week said every candidate should get objectionable feedback when not chosen?

      This is another reason (besides time suck for recruiter) this should not happen. It’s just odd and really a turn off.

    8. Trout 'Waver*

      The only way this makes sense to me is if the manager is under investigation for crappy hiring practices. I’d file this one under ‘bullet dodged’.

    9. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s an attempt to be courteous. That’s all it is.

      Lots of of people desperately want this kind of feedback, and the interviewer apparently is aware of that.

      1. Anna*

        If only the interviewer had also been as conscious of interviewees wanting to be taken seriously and paid attention to during an interview. :(

    10. voluptuousfire*

      That is very odd. I’ve interviewed plenty and received unsolicited feedback only once and it was really very off-putting. The feedback wasn’t actionable (it only really applied to their role) and it was given to me during a scheduled phone call in which they wanted to “talk to me about my candidacy.” For 12 hours I thought I potentially had a new job and got super excited. It was an awful letdown to not get the role and receiving the feedback was essentially insult to injury. The feedback made me feel that I just bombed so badly they felt they needed to give me reasons as to why I didn’t get it. In the end, it was a bullet dodged!

    11. MissGirl*

      Was she critiquing you or simply explaining the rejection? For instance, “We gave the job to another because he had x technical skill” is much different from “you need to work on this and not do this or this.” I’m applying to a lot of jobs right now and would love to have the courtesy of a reason beyond the form email. Tone and context matter.

    12. FishCakesHurrah*

      I think the month long delay between the rejection and feedback is very strange.

      One job I interviewed for called me to tell me I wasn’t their chosen candidate, but then they offered to set up a time to sit down with me and give me some feedback. I thought that was fantastic and extremely considerate.

    13. CanadianDot*

      I don’t know what kind of organization the job was at, but I’d wonder if there might have been a complaint to an HR department by a job candidate that prompted a review of the hiring practices?

  6. Loopy*

    What’s the etiquette for when you’re low level sick (think major sniffles/some sneezing/minor sore throat/being run down) and you *have* to be at work.

    I’ve been pretty up front with people in the- hey I’m sick but I have to be here today, no handshakes!- kind of way. I figure giving them a chance to flee my presence is the polite thing to do?

    1. TMA*

      I think that sounds like a good approach. Ideally, you could take the day off or at least work from home, but I understand that is not possible for everyone.

    2. Temperance*

      Lock yourself in your office, use hand sanitizer, clorox wipe the bathroom doorknobs/any doorknobs that you touch.

      1. Slight germophobe*

        Or just use your shirt sleeve to open/close doors…. I do this all the time anyway and this fall/winter I have yet to get a cold.

    3. Jocelyn*

      Yeah, I feel like just a quick “I’ve got a little cold going on.” will suffice.

      I’d also say excuse me after a string of sneezes/coughs. Might not help, but I don’t think it would hurt.

    4. Purest Green*

      I think placing all the visual cues on your desk (box of tissues, cough drops, hot beverage) is enough for a lot of people to get the idea.

    5. SarahKay*

      Agree with your plan; if you have to be there then just warn people so they can keep their distance. Regular use of had sanitiser, especially before going into shared spaces (bathrooms, etc). And when I’m in this situation I tell my normal lunch companions that no offence, but I’m off to eat on my own to keep my germs to myself. I feel like this way I’m not putting them in the position of being stuck with my germy self with them not liking to ask me to go away and keep my germs to myself.

    6. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

      One thing I did recently that seemed to be appreciated (in addtion to your approach and the other great suggestions – lots of tissues, warning others, hand sanitizer, etc):

      I put a tub of those santizer wipes on my cubicle desk and made a point of wiping everything commonly touched down every couple of hours. People seemed to appreciate the effort.

    7. LK*

      Hand sani, box of tissues right at the desk. Taking some decongestant medication. Apologize profusely. Touch no one. (I work in a large high output law firm and this is the norm)

    8. Jean*

      I’ve put up a sign on my door a couple of times: “I have a cold – enter at your own risk!” Fortunately I actually do have an office with a door that I can keep shut, and I just try to keep my interactions with others to email or phone.

  7. Bend & Snap*

    I’ve stopped my job hunt after 6+ months of my ego getting ground into dust.

    Any tips on learning to love my current situation? It’s post merger, less opportunity, more negative environment than previously.

    But I just can’t take any more rejections righ tnow.

    1. INeedANap*

      Are there any steps you can take right now that will make you more attractive for your future job hunt? Certifications, classes, training, volunteering, anything?

      I have found that when I just can’t face a task immediately, I can usually find the motivation to do something that will help make the task easier when I do get to doing it.

      It may help your immediate morale to know that you’re doing something to get out of your current situation, even if it’s not something that will bear fruit immediately.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Even some free online courses would be good. It gives you something to focus on and helps you improve your skills.

    2. Collie*

      Give yourself a break. Remember you don’t have to love your job. Mark your calendar for when you’ll start applying again. In the meantime, focus on self-care outside of work hours. Make a deal with yourself not to think about work outside of work hours (and change your clothes immediately after work — it helps). Remind yourself you’re putting up with your current situation in exchange for good pay/good commute/roof over your head/whatever it is that keeps you there. Remember nothing lasts forever. Sending lots of empathy. I’ve been there for two years, so I feel you. But we can’t give up!

      1. Another Lawyer*

        +1 on this. The last time I job hunted I was doing it so full stop that I was completely burned out by the end of it. I took a month off and was much more focused and refreshed and landed a great job not long after that

        1. Ama*

          This happened to me too! It was 2008-2009 (so absolutely terrible timing) and I had a completely unsuccessful 18 month search. I decided to take 3 months off, halfway through that period a good transfer option fell into my lap and I had a new job three weeks later.

      2. Collie*

        And I second doing some professional development if you can (free or paid if you can swing it/want to pay for it) in the meantime. It’ll keep your mind occupied when necessary and be an effort toward your final goal.

    3. T3k*

      I’ve been making it a point to accomplish one little thing everyday to deal with feeling down about job hunting. Like, read a book I’ve been meaning to, or finish a craft I’ve been putting off, etc.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Build yourself up in some manner, you have been draining and draining and it’s time to restock. This could mean taking a course, reading a book, or jogging every night. It can be anything that makes you feel like you are starting to replenish what has been zapped out of you.

    5. Bend & Snap*

      In some cases the jobs have been too junior, they can’t pay, or I’ve bowed out because of the culture or whatever.

      But I have 17 years in my field, 12 in agencies and the last 5 in a Fortune 200, tons of accomplishments and skills that people are seeking, and I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong.

      I don’t think it’s my resume. It has to be something happening in the interview process.

      1. NaoNao*

        I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong per se.
        But one thing stuck out to me: the length of time in the field. That might be giving people the wrong ideas like:
        You’re not up on current/bleeding edge tools, techniques and software
        You’re not up with current trends in your field
        You’re *too* qualified, and will cost too much
        You’re at the edge of defacto age discrimination, especially if those almost 20 years were later, like starting at age 30 or so. If you’re working in advertising or marketing, from what I hear around, they prefer very young, fresh out of college types for a few reasons (pay less, the perception of being on the leading edge of trends, ability to understand core audiences, etc).
        Your experience in one area has “cemented” you and you won’t be able to bend to the new office’s culture/wants/product, what have you.
        I would take another look at the resume–edit tightly to accomplishments and ensure it tells a story of growing skills and responsibilities, larger clients and accounts.
        Maybe build a portfolio?
        Networking! If you’re at the level you are, with almost 20 years in the industry, I feel like (and I could be wrong) you should be getting your next job through networking with peers at your level.
        Consider consulting. You have a full time job, maybe start with taking on 1-2 freelance clients. If it goes well, start to build a following. That can be the focus for the next year, while you assess your next move.

        1. NaoNao*

          Oh, and manage that professional social media, if you’re not already. Make sure that LinkedIn profile is up to date, with a photograph, and you’re fully connected to as many people as you can. I got my last two jobs through cold-emailing the job poster through LinkedIn!
          Make sure you have a professional twitter handle and account, a professional blog of some kind is not a bad idea, and if you’re in a field where it might make a difference, Instagram and Pinterest accounts (like if you’re a fashion illustrator, advertising or marketing exec, photographer, stylist, etc).
          Include links to these sites on your resume to show that you are up to date and comfortable with the social media world.

          1. Bend & Snap*

            Thank you! I’m in marketing (public relations) so all of my social is polished up and I’m working my network. I posted here a few weeks ago that I went through 11 rounds of interviews with a Fortune 30 and then got rejected via text message with no feedback.

            These two things:
            You’re not up on current/bleeding edge tools, techniques and software
            You’re not up with current trends in your field

            Are what I’ve actively positioned against on my resume–my skills here are what got me hired in my current job and I’ve been able to grow them here.

            I’m a little worried it’s the lack of growth. I’ve been here 5 years but took a lateral move to get here, promoted to management 3 years ago, then we got acquired 18 months ago and everything went to hell and now I’m no longer a manager and my role shrunk. This happened to a lot of people due to how the new organization is structured but it blows.

            1. NaoNao*

              You know, I’m thinking about this because I recently helped my mom, age 61, with her resume after 16 years at the same job (doing the same thing!) and a few years in related industry jobs. One thing she focused on was her skills and experiences, which was good, but there was a real struggle to get concrete numbers (like reach, circulation, ROI–she’s an editor) and to pinpoint actual projects/accomplishments.
              Also, she tended to focus more on her career and her skills/accomplishments rather than “here’s how I’m a match”, which is subtle, but *could* come off like sort of…grande dame-y? I guess?
              She had also been in the industry *and* had a lot of side gigs, it was almost overwhelming to get the resume to tell a “story” that was strong and coherent.
              Marketing I think is hard–it’s hard to break into, it’s so dynamic, it’s very image and trend focused–it’s just hard!

              1. Bend & Snap*

                You know, this is really thoughtful input and I appreciate it. Liz Ryan writes for Forbes and talks a lot about the “human-voiced resume.” I updated the format to be more modern but didn’t change the tone of the content; it’s definitely traditional. Maybe it’s time for a total overhaul, from scratch.

                1. Aglaia761*

                  What does you cover letter look like? I think that’s where you’ll be able to show that you’ve kept up with trends in the industry and how you can provide value to their team.

                  I agree that you might want to look at your resume, but I think you should also revisit the cover letter as well

    6. Jules the First*

      Have faith!

      I hunted for six months, got lots of first interviews, but no nibbles. I stopped looking, and four months later I got five interviews, three offers, and a handsome counter-offer from my existing job.

    7. ms crankypants...*

      one of the things I did to boost my spirit while unemployed was volunteer at the food bank.
      reminded me it could be worse and people were almost always grateful & thankful for our efforts.

    8. The Rat-Catcher*

      I feel this so much, Bend & Snap. The logical thing is to keep looking for jobs, but I’m weary of getting my hopes up. Apparently my resume and cover letter are decent because I get interviews almost everywhere…the first time. So something in my interviews must be egregious, because I inevitably don’t get chosen and in future rounds of hiring with the same companies, I never make the cut again.
      I wish I had advice for you, but I only have sympathy.

  8. RKB*

    I work for a city dependent on the oil and gas industry. We’ve hit a pretty bad recession and as a result we made major cutbacks in our schedules to save money.

    Ever since, my coworkers have just stopped caring. I work from 4 to 11 pm and often find that nothing has been done when I’ve come in. I’m talking lost and found just left on the desk, two pamphlets about prices left, receipts thrown about the floor, etc. It’s starting to get super frustrating but I don’t know how to bring it up without sounding like a complete brat. (As in: so and so didn’t do these tasks, I managed to do all these tasks and let 1600 people into our facility. Oh and handled three emergencies.)

    1. Kyrielle*

      I might do it as a question, if there’s any grey areas. “Sometimes I come in, and (things are this way) – I assume the shift before me gets swamped. I’ve been assuming my priorities in this case are to (priorities in order) – is that accurate? I don’t want to leave things undone for too long, but I do want to make sure my focus is where you want it to be.”

    2. Jocelyn*

      Maybe you could approach your superior and lay out your concerns as “I’m having trouble getting all of my responsibilities taken care of because I often come in and find X, Y, Z and then have to take care of it myself. So now I’m dealing with having less time to do what I need to.”

    3. Taylor Swift*

      Are you sure it’s because they’ve stopped caring or is it because they have had to make changes too and no longer have enough time/resources to do the work? Definitely ask for advice on how to prioritize before you let yourself get too resentful about doing all the work.

      1. RKB*

        Oh, it’s the resentment. We work in a gym. So the tasks are really simple: for example, printing price guides means hitting “print” and then just letting them print. We have 5 people on the desk at all times. And from when I’ve checked the totals, they help about 200-300 customers from 11 AM to 4 PM (when I log in.) We do about 1700 customers from 4 to 11 PM.

        And yet — we can manage all these tasks. Just the other day I created 200 access cards for our indoor jungle gym (there’s a capacity limit so they take the access card and then return them when they’re done so we can keep track.) I dealt with a kid who broke his leg and our elevator breaking down. And none of our lost and found was washed and folded and logged from 5 AM to 4 PM.

        It’s so frustrating. I’ve come to the library attached to our building and seen them shooting the sh*t or just aimlessly on Facebook with no customers in sight. I’m going bonkers.

  9. Folklorist*

    Here is your much-delayed ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!!!! Go and do whatever you have been putting off and come back and brag about it!
    Go, go…there will be more entertaining Open Thread comments for you to read when you come back all triumphant and stuff. :-)

    1. Squeeble*

      This morning I took care of two things I’d been dreading first thing. Didn’t even get my coffee first. Now I can do my regular work and relax for the rest of Friday!

    2. MommaTRex*

      Thank-you! I just made an appointment for a mammogram. Not work related, except for getting that monkey off my back, freeing up a tiny slice of my brain for work matters.

    3. JustaTech*

      I finished a really dreadful document and sent it off to be reviewed. Who knew that writing instructions for using software could be so awful and time consuming? Then I sent a bunch more emails and set up a bunch of stuff for my next project and it’s like I’ve had another cup of coffee (or three!). Yay getting things done!

    4. Check Please*

      Not work related, but my toddler grabbed my giant organized sticker collection last night while I was doing the dishes and they all ended up on the floor.

      They’re now reorganized in a new, harder to dump out container and the ones that are no longer sticky or just not my style are either in the trash or in his arts and crafts bin!

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        +100 because I have a preschooler and I rarely have the energy to do what you did and turn her messes into something good and productive.

    5. Arjay*

      I did! Not work related, but I called my apartment office about some work they need to schedule, and they’re only open during regular business hours, so it’s a chore sometimes.

      1. Bibliovore*

        This is my favorite Friday thread and I am so pleased to report the EVERYTHING that I have been dreading and procrastinating on that absolutely positively needed to get done by end of day Friday at work, got done.
        On Monday, I white boarded the list. Everyday 3 or 4 things were crossed off.
        On Tuesday, a volunteer came and helped me complete something that was hanging over my head for weeks.
        On Thursday the chair of my board took two things off my plate.
        The office kid spent two days scanning stuff for a powerpoint that I give next Friday at a conference.
        I have only 3 long range projects that I will pick up when I get back. whew!
        I just have a 1,500 word book review (book read, notes taken, just do it already!)
        And the powerpoint to complete this weekend.
        then 3 day vacation in Palm Desert! yes you heard me right- sunshine and mineral hot springs. I have three books, none of them required reading!!!!!

  10. Elle*

    In last week’s open thread I asked how much grades at university matter when it comes to the job market. It was really interesting to read the different takes and experiences on the topic!

    A lot of replies addressed how it was for candidates fresh out undergrad, so I was wondering if it’s much different for people who aren’t new grads.

    For instance, if someone who’s been in the workforce for, say 3 to 5 years (so mid-level-ish) decide to go back for a postgrad degree (whether to enhance their CV or to enter some specialised area) would their future job applications likely involve scrutiny of results?

    Part of the reason I ask is because in my experience many people doing postgrad tend to have more non-school-related commitments, like family/kids, and a lot of them study while working full-time, so it can be trickier to devote as much time as one would like to studies. Although I do notice that these people generally seem less concerned about actual grades than people who’ve gone straight into postgrad from undergrad, so maybe that’s some indication in itself.

    (Also I was surprised that someone mentioned Russell Group universities, I didn’t think RG was that really well-known, despite being compared to the Ivy League. In fact I’d be surprised if people knew which institutions – outside of Oxbridge – are even on that list! Then again that might apply for IL as well, in that only a select few seem to be acknowledged most of the time.)

    1. Leatherwings*

      I don’t think your postgrad grades matter much in hiring. Partly because most programs have pretty high standards for a “pass” right? As an undergrad, you can skate by barely doing work and graduate with Cs and Ds, but a C is failing in most grad programs so if you finish it’s because you performed at an acceptable level.

      1. Taylor Swift*

        But there is soooo much grade inflation in graduate programs! At least from my experience. But I haven’t found any employers who care at all about my graduate GPA.

        1. Leatherwings*

          Interesting! This was something I definitely thought was a bigger issue at the undergrad level.

        2. Anna*

          I didn’t really see that in grad school, but my program was small so it probably varies depending on the program.

        3. Wheezy Weasel*

          +1 on this. I’m hitting 90% and above in my graduate program grades while putting in about 40-50% effort that I recall from undergrad. Granted, I can write better and manage my time more efficiently after 15 years of working, but I’m surprised that we’re not being graded a bit more carefully.

    2. Jocelyn*

      I definitely think graduate grades matter less than the undergrad when job hunting. The reason undergrad grades matter so much is 1. It might be the only thing the company has to go on as the candidate has little/no prior experience in this field, and 2. More candidates.

      Positions that require graduate-level degrees or comparable experience are (probably) going to have a lot less candidates. They’re also probably going to be position that carry a little more weight (e.g. if an entry-level employee screws up, no big deal; if a senior-level employee screws up, that could mean a lot of issues). I imagine for these reasons, the hiring team will take a much closer look at experiences. As long as your grades aren’t straight-up bad, I’d imagine grades won’t be a big factor.

    3. Grits McGee*

      When it comes to postgrad grades, it’s like that old joke-
      “What do you call the person who graduated last in their class in medical school?”

      1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        I’m splitting hairs, I know, but that joke always bothered me because med school graduates don’t automatically become “Doctor.” After graduation they still have to pass licensing exams, complete a residency (if they can even get one — every year hundreds don’t get matched), and then pass another series of exams. If they have a speciality, there’s more. It is totally possible to graduate medical school and still never be a doctor.

        1. JHunz*

          I’m splitting the hairs you split already, but doesn’t an MD grant the courtesy title of “Doctor” just as a PHD does, whether or not someone actually goes into practice?

          1. Onymouse*

            Splitting the hairs even more :) , I’d imagine it’s trickier because you could be seen as holding out to be a licensed medical doctor – that is, an MD who is not licensed can’t go around advertising themselves as an MD, because it would mislead and harm the public.

            1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

              Agreed. While the person may hold a doctor of medicine degree, I don’t think they can call themself a doctor without getting into an ethical gray area (and potentially legal). Also, a PhD is finished with their education, however a person with an MD must complete further study — so I’m not sure the two are really that comparable. Plus, there is the whole raging debate about whether a PhD should be called Dr. in most situations anyway. There are other doctorate degrees that wouldn’t call for the person to be “doctor” under most circumstances either — EdD, PharmD, DNP, LHD, JD…

    4. SarahTheEntwife*

      This might vary by industry, but from most people I’ve talked to, I don’t think grades typically matter at all once you have a few years of significant work experience behind you. I’d expect my degree to be confirmed especially if it’s essential for the position, and there might be some level of name-dropping potential (not really in my case but if I went to a sufficiently name-droppy school), but I’d find it very odd if anyone asked my schools for an actual transcript.

    5. Rob Lowe can't read*

      I went back to school for my master’s with about 3 years of directly relevant work experience in my field plus some assorted volunteer experience and gotta-pay-the-bills jobs. (I graduated in 2008.) I got great grades in grad school, but never put my GPA on my resume and was never asked about grades by interviewers or HR when I was hired, though I did have to provide transcripts as proof of my degrees. (My field requires a specific major and salary scales are based on education + experience, which is a standard practice in this field. Transcripts are just for the purpose of comfirming degrees and level of education.) I participated in several career events where I got the chance to talk to hiring managers in my field, and when asked most said they didn’t care about GPA – as in, they’re not looking for it, so include it or don’t as one wishes. Of course, this could vary depending on what field and where you work. (My master’s is from a private R1 university on the east coast, but not an Ivy, and I work in the same city.)

    6. Another Lawyer*

      FWIW, law school grades matter forever. I tried to take them off a few years out and was directly asked about them when I applied for a job, so I’ve put them back on my resume.

    7. Feathers McGraw*

      Russell Group is a very well known thing over here but while people tend to know what it is they don’t necessarily care if you went to one of those unis. It’s definitely field specific.

    8. FiveWheels*

      In my industry (law) not only are people aware of Russell Group rankings, but people responsible for hiring are very much aware of the relative prestige of every single law school.

    9. Kj*

      My grad school had no grades. Of course grades were optional at my super hippie undergrad college. I took them anyways- despite a few profs trying to talk me out of it as ‘it is giving in to the system.’ But grades weren’t even an option in grad school. I somewhat liked it for grad school- the focus was on our being competent not the best and we were assessed as competent to professional standards or not.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Okay- here is the thing, and it is only one person’s opinion.
        I have been a hiring manager for over 20 years. I rarely care one way or another what grades a person received in undergrad. I might give points to someone who had a 3.9 GPA. That said- if you went to a prestigious graduate school and you took a course in my very narrow specialty, I probably know of or worked with your professor. If you are a finalist for a position, I am going to call them. Lets say you screwed up in that class, that will tank your application.

        I teach graduate school classes. When someone is blowing off classes or always late with papers or doesn’t think I can tell that they winged their final oral presentation, I can’t help wonder that they don’t know that this is a small world and don’t they know that their instructor in their specialty would be a great job reference?

    10. Immy*

      In the UK people know which universities are in the Russell Group, abroad it may be more like how no one knows which universities are in the Ivy League except Harvard and Yale.

      The Russell Group is a group of research universities not just an athletic league as well so membership says more about the university than its location with the Ivy League.

  11. bassclefchick*

    Oh, my. I’ve heard of these, but never saw one myself until now. The most insane job description ever. Started out by stating if you’re good at herding cats, this could be the right position for you! Then included references to your Jedi skills. And the instructions were to send an email with a smiley face as the subject line so they could tell you read the whole job description and could follow instructions. All this for a basic receptionist job. Uh, no. Any serious candidate would have run screaming from that one.

    What’s the oddest job posting you’ve ever seen?

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Ugh. I’m surprised they didn’t call the receptionist position “director of first impressions”. It sounds like that type of place. I remember seeing an ad a few years ago to be Jennifer Lopez’ PA. It was ridiculous- you were on call 24/7, it only paid 50K and said that you might also have to watch her twins. She is known to be crazy cheap so you know she would find a way not to pay overtime.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Watch her twins?
        No. Hire a nanny, woman. PA is a totally different job. Somebody forgot what it was like to live on her block. :P

        I promise if I become rich and famous I won’t do that. Plus, I would pay way more than that and you would NOT be on call 24/7, jeez. I can do things for myself sometimes.

      2. Anon4Now*

        Last year I read a craigslist ad for a Receptionist / Administrative Assistant that stated the common job qualifications plus:
        – attach a recent photo
        – some sales experience is helpful
        – some night and weekend hours possible
        – dine with clients

    2. Bad Candidate*

      This just popped up on my “On this day” feed on FB the other day, I had shared a screen shot of it. Anyway, the title says “Entry level MEOW… Sales MEOW… Marketing MEOW… (Great City Location)” There’s no mention of cats anywhere else in the post, and it’s not for a cat shelter or pet business. My only guess is that whomever wrote it saw Super Troopers for the first time the night before.

    3. Justme*

      I got a questionnaire for a receptionist type job that had so many spelling, grammar, and formatting issues that it was impossible to fill it out without major editing. And it was a test, the company wanted to see if you would do it. I told them flat-out in the interview that I had thought the job posting was a scam because of that questionnaire.

    4. writelhd*

      The whole posting wasn’t odd so much as frustratingly vague, but this particular line stood out to me in a sea of vague as really taking the vague-cake: “Apply concepts to problems (of medium complexity.)” For an engineering position at a huge manufacturing company. Well darn, I thought I’d be applying concepts to problems of *moderate* complexity, so I’m glad they clarified.

      I also once saw a job duty that included the phrase “ingest data” in a government job posting, and that made me giggle.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ingest! hahahahahahaa

        See, they need me to write stuff for them. But I could never get a security clearance, because I’m an extremely loud member of the Resistance.

        1. Sibley*

          I don’t know, as long as you’re polite? Then again, I’ve been doing my darnest to get into minor trouble on Twitter.

        2. Jadelyn*

          I actually made it onto a watchlist during the Bush years due to my active participation in protests and such. I was never arrested or anything, but when my brother went to join the military he got asked about me because when they did his background check I came up flagged, lol. I take it as a point of pride – if I could get away with it, that would be on my resume. :)

      2. GigglyPuff*

        I totally didn’t get that until I read Jadelyn’s post.

        But to be fair I work in digital librarianship, so that’s on most job descriptions I’ve seen.

          1. writelhd*

            Well huh! It was for a digital library kind of thing, so I guess that makes sense. From the outside I just thought it was a funny use of words.

    5. Perpetua*

      I don’ t know if they’re the oddest, but these two have been the most irritating lately. They were from the same company (tech one, quite popular in the area).

      The first one is along the same lines as herding cats – they advertised for the position of office manager (with some receptionist and HR support duties as well) under the name of “Babysitter”. The description included something along the lines of “taking care of 100+ outlandish geeks”.

      Then not long after that, they were looking for an HR assistant, calling it “A Shoulder to Cry On”, to “help a bunch of millenials with their special needs and goals”. Umm, nope.

      I thought both were marvellous examples of how to offend both your current employees and the person you want to hire, in one fell swoop.

        1. Justme*

          I pay someone $10 an hour to babysit my *one* geek child. But 1oo+ adults? Not enough money in the world.

      1. kittymommy*

        I’ve worked in office settings where “babysitter” would be a pretty accurate description. Not one I would use on an advertisement, but damn on point.

      2. General Ginger*

        “taking care of 100+ outlandish geeks”? Ugh, well, thanks for being upfront, anyway. Hard pass, though.

      3. Gail Davidson-Durst*

        Wow, insults everyone involved, Andy IMHO come see across as kind of sexist. Hard to believe the hiring manager isn’t picturing a man babysitting or wiping tears!

        1. Gail Davidson-Durst*

          Ugh, I had to come to the computer to fix all the mistakes in my reply:

          AND IMHO (let’s not bring Andy into this)
          comes across as kind of sexist
          hard to believe the manager IS picturing a man

          Lesson learned – no more commenting from my phone.

    6. Karo*

      I saw one within the last month that wanted you to mail or fax your resume to the person. It’s a position I’d otherwise want to apply for but I’m so flabbergasted at the thought of a company still REQUIRING paper resumes that I’m out.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        City jobs make you take a typing test. A TYPING TEST. Plus, in 2012, I took the state exam for clerical jobs and there was a question that asked you to identify the letter by which the floppy disk drive on a computer was designated. I’m like, “Old equipment much?” :P

        1. Cassandra*

          Also the bit where lots of computers had more than one floppy disk drive?

          -Cassandra, who rescues data from floppy disks as part of her job…

        2. FishCakesHurrah*

          Temp agencies still do this. Which is lucky for me because I type 100+ wpm and that gets me a lot of positive attention!

          1. Jadelyn*

            Lol, I got my current job through a temp agency, and I got an interview despite having no HR experience because the job was originally heavily data-entry-oriented and I scored 99 WPM with no errors. That typing test comes in handy sometimes!

        3. Bibliovore*

          Still with the typing tests? I am nauseated thinking about it. When I was in my twenties and job hunting, no job, and I mean no job interview (except retail) happened without a typing test. I would get anxious and nervous and totally screw it up. And what really pissed me off was that Mr. Bibliovore never ever had to take a typing test to get a job.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      This is an actual job and I suppose they have to advertise for it somewhere, but there is a listing on Indeed for Bunny. Yes, you heard me. (For Easter, you know.)

      The job description contains these gems:

      Never remove the Bunny head in public
      Make sure you are wearing the mittens and feet at all times
      Bunnies never speak
      Be sure your hands are visible at all times
      (um, okay?)

      I posted a link in my chat room and someone said, “OMG apply! You might get free creme eggs!” That would be a nice perk but I hate them, LOL.

      1. Bad Candidate*

        I assume this is for Bunny at the mall similar to Santa? (I had a friend that did this type of job in HS, she was one of the bunny assistants) Anyway the hand thing is so that no one can accuse you of inappropriately touching a kid (and also so that you can’t do it if that’s your inclination).

      2. General Ginger*

        “Bunnies never speak” sounds so ominous!

        (huh, is that common? does the Easter Bunny really never talk to the kids?)

        1. Letters*

          Extremely common. It’s so that kids can’t tell the difference between different actors. This is the same rule for all the Disney characters, too — none of them are allowed to speak, partly because they chose who is what character based ENTIRELY on your height/weight (‘who fits in this awkward costume?’) so one year Goofy may be a dude, and next time the kid visits maybe Goofy’s a chick with a totally different accent.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Yep, Letters has it right. The way they wrote it is hilarious though, because they left out that explanation. I assume the newly-hired bunny would get that in training.

    8. Can't Sit Still*

      Must be thick-skinned! No crying allowed in the office! The previous 3(!) incumbents cried all the time and the current incumbent cries every day. The job doesn’t pay well, but there’s lots of mandatory overtime on evenings and weekends to make up the difference!

      At least they were honest? The recruiter couldn’t understand why I wasn’t interested in this amazing opportunity! I had the nerve to ask her if that’s what they were willing to say in the req, what on earth was it actually like to work in that office? (I assumed lots of yelling, thrown objects and slammed doors, just for starters.)

    9. Cath in Canada*

      I saw one once that called both the CEO and the overall team “eccentric”. I decided that a company that had to use the word eccentric twice in a one paragraph job ad was probably a company that was too eccentric for me.

    10. FishCakesHurrah*

      An EA position that required the successful candidate to have a PhD in project management. It didn’t pay well and was with a university, who should know better.

    11. S.I. Newhouse*

      One of the civil service exams scheduled this year in NYC is for “Puppeteer.” Unfortunately, there’s no job description attached. But, a civil service puppeteer??

    12. Chaordic One*

      I’ve told this story before, but for a long time this same ad would pop up in various newspapers in the L.A. area.

      I’m looking for 2 people who I can work to death.

      It didn’t really say what they were looking for. I sort of guessed that it might be telemarketing, but it will forever be a mystery to me, unless someone here remembers the ad and applied for it.

    13. Johnster*

      Last week someone said that they saw an advertisement for something that sounded like it was basically a ticket agent job at an airport, but that might occasionally require you to “deice the plane.”

  12. MWKate*

    I asked this in a previous open thread, but it was buried pretty deep.

    I will be interviewing for graduate assistantships the beginning of next month. This will be for a higher education administration program I’ve been accepted to, and the position will be at various higher ed institutions in the area. I graduated with my BA 10 years ago, and so have some work experience, but in state government and banking.

    Does anyone have experience (on either side of this) about how these may go, differences between these and regular job interviews, and what might really stand out? Some of the positions come with full tuition waiver, so I’m really hoping to do well. I did receive some helpful suggestions from fposte in that earlier post, am just looking for additional insight.
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Grits McGee*

      I had a graduate assistantship for my MA program, but it was as a result of my application materials (no interview), so that’s not helpful.

      What kind of work would you be doing? Do you know if students generally enter these programs straight from undergrad or do they usually work first, like you?

      1. MWKate*

        The positions cover a variety of areas in higher ed (diversity offices, admissions, career counseling). I am hoping for something related to study abroad and international education since that is what I am planning on going into – but would be fine with anything really.

        Apparently most of the students are coming straight from their undergrad, but there are some older students sprinkled through as well as some professionals already working in higher ed coming for their degree.

        1. Grits McGee*

          I would definitely emphasize that you have professional experience since it sounds like you might be in competition with people just out of undergrad that just aren’t going to have that. Since some of the positions are admin- and regulation-heavy, you could tie that into your experience in banking and government.

    2. esemes*

      I had a grad assistanships that covered my tuition. I worked for about 3 years before I went to graduate school in a field quite different from my assistantship role. I know that there were definitely other individuals who were awarded assistantships that also had a gap between undergrad and grad school.

      Good luck!!! :)

    3. LJL*

      When I was a grad student applying, I treated them like any other job interview. It’s a good idea to become familiar with the school/office that you’re applying to. Be able to link your past experience with how it will apply there. Also, you may want to talk about your research interests and future goals and how that ties in to the assistantships you’re applying to. Good luck !!

    4. kbeers0su*

      I work in Higher Ed, and have interviewed Graduate Assistants for the past 10+ years. Some thoughts…

      It is more common for folks to be coming straight from undergrad into this kind of program and these kinds of assistantships. If you’ve been invited for an “interview weekend” at any of the schools, that’s a bit different than if you’re arranging the interviews on your own. The interview weekends are partly a way to allow you the ease of doing a bunch of interviews at once, and partly allows you to get to know classmates and faculty who will be in your program. If you’re going for one of these weekends, outside of the actual interviews, understand that you’re being watched and judged the whole time. So make nice with the other students, get to know them, don’t act competitive, etc. They not only are looking at individuals for positions, but also for the overall group dynamics for the classroom learning environment (because they’re cohort-based).

      With regards to actually interviewing, being out 10 years could help or hurt you. Honestly there are some schools, departments, and people in the field who will look for younger candidates because they’re typically more willing to work the weird hours needed for some of these positions. And there may be some concern about your ability to “connect” with students if you’re a bit removed from their age bracket. However, in other departments and areas you’re going to be an asset because your background is likely to show a capacity for a certain level of professionalism that most folks right out of undergrad have not yet developed. (Given that you’re thinking study abroad or multicultural affairs, I think you’ll be safe. It tends to be more Residence Life/Housing, Student Activities that are looking for the “energetic” (read: willing to work until 2am) folks.)

      As for how to sell your experience during the interviews, it really depends on the position. A general understanding of professionalism, ability to manage your own workload, ability to think critically, ability to synthesize various information about a student/case/situation- that’s all valuable no matter what. If you’ve dealt with legal stuff or any sort of regulations, and if you have any experience working with folks from other cultures (not sure if your government/banking work allowed you to do this) definitely bring that up if you’re interviewing for any positions with multicultural affairs, study abroad, or international students. And keep in mind that unlike serving clients, Higher Ed is not totally customer service oriented. We balance serving students with trying to get them to grow/think/do for themselves. So just make sure you’re keeping that in mind as you’re thinking about how to approach situations with students.

      On a side note, if you are going through an interview weekend, know that some assistantship positions that you may be interested in may not be offered during those weekends. The interview weekends tend to cover more traditional “Student Affairs” roles, where study abroad, international student advising, and other similar roles tend to fall under the Academic Affairs side of the house. So you may want to look around at the school(s) you’re interviewing with to ensure that you aren’t missing out on other positions in which you may be interested.

      Lastly, given that you’ve got more corporate experience be sure that you’re coming across as warm and friendly, and understand that most work with students is a lot less formal than what you likely experienced. We often text with colleagues and our students. Students wander in and out of my office regularly. I know a lot about my students that I’m sure most business folks wouldn’t know about their clients. They’ll want to make sure that you’re going to understand that cultural element of working on a campus and how it’s different than what you’ve been doing.

      1. MWKate*

        This is incredibly helpful, thank you so much for the detailed and in depth response. This is an interview weekend, but the interviews are prescheduled and determined for everyone attending and will apparently cover a variety of positions from residence life (which I indicated I am not interested in) to academic affairs.

        I appreciate the advice about being warm and friendly – luckily the company I am currently at (community banking) and state government were sometimes but generally not super formal. I live in the upper Midwest and it seems to be a cultural thing to assume a very friendly professional attitude. Hopefully that will translate well.

    5. Whats In A Name*

      When we used to interview GAs for enrollment-related positions (admissions/financial aid mainly) we did require a presentation but would let them know up front what was expected in the presentation.

      For every job (FT or GA) we had a hiring committee made up of various departments and asked a lot of questions about interacting with peers, different thoughts on working with students, and towards the end of my career in academia a lot of questions specifically related to changing dynamic of having to deal with difficult parents instead of students about student records.

      I would definitely recommend wearing a suit, even though the dress code was much more relaxed day-to-day we all wore and expected candidates to wear professional dress in the interviews.

      One thing I cannot speak to is your work experience and how to use it; our interviews were all people who went right from undergrad to grad, so it was different. And, honestly, depending on the hiring committee, you might not get a lot of questions about your professional experience. We used a standard template for all applicants for any given position.

      Good luck!

      1. MWKate*

        Thank you – I appreciate the insight. This is a fairly big shift for me, but as I continue to learn more about working in higher ed from those who are there – it really feels like the right decision.

        1. Whats In A Name*

          I could do what I do now in higher ed and have contemplated going back; I have been out for 3 years and miss it very much sometimes. I wish you lots of luck in your career!

  13. Cath in Canada*

    My department’s flagship project was the subject of an hour-long documentary on TV last night! The project is called personalized oncogenomics, and aims to evaluate the use of DNA and RNA sequencing to help doctors select the best treatment for individual cancers. I’m not directly involved, but pretty much everything we do at work is related to POG in some way.

    The documentary team did a great job at giving a very balanced insight into the project. And of course it’s always very cool to see your friends and colleagues on TV!

    My main contribution to making the documentary was scrambling to get out of the way as David Suzuki walked past my desk saying “oh, so this is just an office?” in a disappointed tone of voice.

        1. TL -*

          Indeed! I just read the article and we’re doing very complimentary work – we focus on RNA-seq and improved oncodrug selection from patient samples but we still have a ways to go before we hit clinical trials.

          Very awesome! I wish I could see the video – I’d love to see how they present to this.

    1. zora*

      omg, that is AWESOME!!! I wish there was a way for me to see this, I am fascinated by this stuff, even tho I am dumb at science. ;o)

    2. JMegan*

      You got to breathe the same air as David Suzuki! Even just for a minute, that’s still way cooler than anything that has happened to me at my work. :) Congrats on your contribution to the project, which I’m sure was much more than just that, even if it’s not visible to the public!

      1. Cath in Canada*

        Yes, we were all positively giddy at having him in the building!

        I’ve worked on projects and grants that developed and improved the computational tools that POG and other projects use to process and analyse sequencing data, and one of the other projects I work on is starting to do some additional analysis of POG tumour DNA samples. So yes, everything’s connected here and we can all bask in the reflected glory! It’s nice to take a moment to savour the pride we all take in our work.

    3. Hrovitnir*

      Nice! We need more decent media coverage.

      We just had a lecture from a (n MD) PI whose lab is focussed on just that. Genetics isn’t my favourite (well, I like ncRNA, but I’m more interested in protein), but I’m starting to get interested in translational work, rather than exclusively pre-clinical.

    4. Onnellinen*

      That is awesome! Love the Nature of Things. I am also going to watch it to see if you work with an old friend of mine, who I think does very similar work (also in Vancouver)!

  14. TMA*

    Is it weird to connect with someone on LinkedIn that you interviewed with if you don’t get or don’t accept the job offer?

    1. Turanga Leela*

      Depending on the person, either a) No, or b) No, as long as you guys had a good rapport and got along well.

      But regardless, it’s not offensive—the worst that will happen is the person won’t accept your connection request.

    2. K.*

      I had someone connect with me after he cancelled the interview/the position. A recruiter put us in touch, the interview was on the books, and the the recruiter forwarded me an email from him saying the position had been put on hold indefinitely. I got a LinkedIn request from the would-be interviewer a few days later. It struck me as odd, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to connect with him so I did.

    3. Poster Child*

      I typically don’t accept invites from candidates who want to connect before or after an interview. Before, I haven’t even met them yet (they just got my name from the interview schedule details) and after I think it’s awkward because most likely they won’t be getting the position. I guess it doesn’t hurt much but I won’t even remember them a year from now and wouldn’t want them contacting me.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      I do think it’s a bit weird unless you really hit if off with the person. I know my former boss used to find it a bit irritating to get these requests (he also hated being asked for informational interviews) but my current boss probably wouldn’t mind…

    5. Trout 'Waver*

      Not weird. If the interview went well, but the job wasn’t the right fit for one side or the other, the next job opportunity might be the right fit.

  15. Zip Silver*

    Some sad news (yet it benefits me greatly). There was a round of layoffs in the management level above me this week throughout the company, but the positions weren’t eliminated. They were people who were identified as not being on course with the (been here a year) COO’s vision. Beneficial because I’ve been shortlisted for a promotion with higher pay in a cheaper COL area (which is great, because I’m not cut out for the big city), sad because some of these people had excelled under the old executive leadership and had been here for years.

    So yay, I suppose.

    1. periwinkle*

      It could be good news, or at least not bad news, if the new COO’s vision makes sense for the org going forward. My employer has a relatively new CEO, promoted from within. Since that person took over, a whole slew of top executives and other senior leadership – many of whom had been with the company for a decade or more – suddenly “chose to spend more time with their families.” We’re losing their experience but at the same time they were part of a deeply entrenched bureaucratic process-obsessed culture, and that culture desperately needs to be changed (IMO, anyway). The people who left had excelled under that culture, which I assume is why they were nudged out of the way.

    2. Whats In A Name*

      2nding what periwinkle had to say! sometimes a change in upper level is sad for the folks personally but often then hold back the organization as a whole…I think it’s often a natural transition…and the COO got to his position somehow! Someone thinks his vision is the right one and this is just the process that goes along with new leadership.

  16. Laura*

    I’m beginning a job hunt after 11 years in the same entry level position. I’m also hoping to change fields from technical editing to project management. I’m good at helping people with their cover letters and resumes, but when it comes to my own I’m feeling stuck. I’m considering hiring a professional resume writer, but I don’t have a lot to spend (see above re: entry level). I would really appreciate any advice on professional resume services or recommendations!

    1. TMA*

      What about looking through the back logs of AAM’s posts? I’ve found those immensely helpful in formatting my resume and tailoring my resume.

    2. Karanda Baywood*

      I would reference AAM’s resume-writing resources rather than hiring anyone. All the stories we’ve read here on those services have been rather suspect.

    3. Perpetua*

      Can you try imagining you’re helping someone else with their cover letter and resume? You can go as far as you need to in order to make it feel more real to you, invent a name, a character, anything that helps you distance yourself enough in order to do for yourself what you’re good at doing for others. :)

    4. Andy Sachs*

      I’m in a similar boat to Laura, in that my resume is definitely missing that little bit of something that gets it taken seriously. I’ve read all of the archives and comments in the tag and haven’t been able to pinpoint what’s missing. Has anyone had any good experiences with people/services (since the archives definitely show there are a lot of scams out there)? ty!

      1. Aglaia761*

        I used Amanda Ingle of ResumeEdge. Unfortunately, they are closing down. She did my resume, a boilerplate cover letter with suggestions on how to personalize it, and a LinkedIn Profile for me. It was well worth it.

        Not sure if we can share emails here…but if so I’d be happy to share

    5. The Grammarian*

      I would not advise using a resume writing service. I did, and the lady produced a clunky and cluttered resume that got me no interviews. I used Alison’s advice (and advice from her book) to revise my resume and I suddenly got multiple interviews (and a job). I also got advice from someone in my new field about how best to frame my accomplishments, since I wasn’t sure how to best present them. I suggest that, too, if you can do that without tipping off people at your current job.

    6. Ella*

      Do you have friends who you’d be able to seek feedback from? When I was making a career change I found it helpful to pass my resume to multiple friends. Not all advice was great, but having multiple perspectives was.

  17. Arts Admin*

    Internal interview advice please! I have an interview at the place I currently work soon, but it’s late in the afternoon. Do I just wear my interview clothes all day and just throw on the jacket/heels right before? It’s a silly question but I think nerves are making me focus on the little things! I’m going to be reviewing Alison’s interview prep guide this weekend so hopefully I’ll be well equipped on the day.

    1. straws*

      That’s probably what I would do, unless there’s some reason that you don’t want other people to know that you have an interview.

      1. Angelinha*

        Same! I’ve done this and had interviewees do it too. It will probably lead to a couple of people (whoever sees you put it on and walk to a meeting) realizing what’s up, but there’s not really any other way to handle it when you’re interviewing internally!

    2. Turanga Leela*

      Yes, don’t do a major outfit change mid-day. The only exception I can think of is if you’re keeping the interview secret (as straws says), or if you do a job where your interview suit is totally impractical (like construction or working with kids).

    3. TMA*

      I’m in a similar position too. I just decided to where what I planned to wear to the interview (also in the late afternoon on a casual Friday).

      And DEFINITELY review the interview prep guide. It’s so helpful!

    4. emma*

      When I interviewed for an internal position, I just took the rest of the day off. But adding jacket/heels would be fine too!

    5. MegaMoose, Esq*

      If you’re feeling self-conscious about looking like you’re interviewing all day, you could plan an outfit with some sort of colorful sweater/shrug-type-thing that can be swapped for your jacket. If you wear that kind of thing, of course. I’m really eloquent today.

    6. applesauce*

      I did the same thing recently (though I was actively trying to conceal that I’m interviewing) – layers are key! I wore my suit dress with a long cardigan & casual scarf to make it look more like my daily wear, removed the layers and carried my suit jacket to the interview (put it on just before), then swapped back out. Good luck!

  18. AnonAsker*

    Hey, I wrote about receiving a PIP and requesting accommodations like a month ago. Original comment was here:

    I followed Alison’s advice and sent out a formal email to HR. I also had my doctor send a note. No reply after two weeks so I sent another email. HR did respond to that, by calling me into their office and telling me they were rejecting my request because they didn’t think I really needed accommodations. The HR manager also specifically said that this wasn’t retaliation and they wouldn’t reply to any more requests from me.

    Now I know that they’re trying to get rid of me, so I’m focusing 100% on job hunting. I’ve also discretely told a few trustworthy people what’s happening so I can possibly use them as references.

    Mostly a rant/venting session but I would like some advice on 3 things:

    1. What should I say when people.ask why I’m looking to leave the company after less than a year?
    2. If I get fired before I find a new job, how should I represent that?
    3. Is it worth going to the EEOC? My company isn’t following the laws, but the complaint might get me fired quicker, and it might spread around the industry and hurt my chances at getting a new job.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Whats In A Name*

      Do you have a lawyer yet? You need to at least have them review the case and offer advice if not action.

    2. KiteFlier*

      I’m sorry you are going through this! Your company’s HR is terrible. I would definitely go to the EEOC and get a legal consultation.

    3. Belle (HR Mgr)*

      Accommodation requests should be an interactive process — back and forth. I would recommend you seek advice from your local bar association — they are often able to point you to someone who can help affordably with a reply

    4. MWKate*

      I know the answer to “Is this legal?” is generally ‘Yes’, but if someone is requesting accomodations under the ADA it doesn’t seem like HR should be able to simply disregard it by saying they don’t think you need it. I understand the accomodations need to be reasonable but it doesn’t seem like this was even a discussion of what could be done.

      As for your questions, I would think for 1 that you could say it isn’t a good cultural fit? If you end up looking in different areas or positions you could also say you found the role wasn’t what you expected/you were looking for and you are looking to get into X which you find more interesting and challenging.

      I can’t say whether you should go to the EEOC or not, and I’m not a lawyer and I don’t work in HR. Is it possible to call and talk to someone without filing a complaint and see if they think there is merit to pursuing it further?

      I’m sorry this is happening. It seems like they are handling this very poorly. Ignoring an employee’s request for ADA accomodations and that they wouldn’t reply to any further communication from you is very unprofessional (and possibly illegal?). Good luck.

    5. Theletter*

      I can help with questions 1 and 1: So this is going to be tough, but you can get through this and get the job that you want, with the right attitude. Remember that almost everyone gets fired at least once in their lives, and many will tell report back that in hindsight, it was a blessing in disguise.

      The thing that will get you your next job will be:

      1. your skills
      2. the enthusiasm you have for the company you’re interviewing for.

      While you’re interviewing, but honest, but not verbose. Take some blame for what is happening, in a way that shows you’ve thought clearly about it, learned your lesson, are are ready to move onto the next challenge. You could say something like “It turned out that work was more stressful than I imagined. I got off to bad start, and so as a result I wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be, and the company could see that. Ultimately we decided to part ways. I’ve decided to work on managing stress better so that I can better prepared for the next challenge.”

      So once you say that, take a deep breath, and then say “Now I’m excited about this opportunity because it will allow me to use my skills in _____ . . . . .”.

      If you can pivot well and project a can-do, optimistic attitude, your interviewer could (and in my opinion, should) be sympathetic. Emphasize that you have the skills and then enthusiasm to do this next job, and you my find that your current state of employment is not that interesting.

      And honestly, your interviewers are looking to hire people who are available to work. People are often available because they were let go by some other place. That’s reality. They shouldn’t be overly surprised or horrified that they will be interviewing people who were fired or on a PIP. Just be honest, keep the whole story short, take ownership for it, don’t bad-mouth your previous employer, and say you’re excited for the next challenge.

  19. Czhorat*

    I thought you all might be amused by this from the Book of Face:

    Once I put in my resume that I was a juggler and I ended up talking to the interviewer for over half the time about that. Tip being: put in something unique. You never know.
    I work in HR if anyone would like resume review.

    1. Sadsack*

      Was juggling related to the job? Seems like a waste of interview time, unless the rest of the time was very productive. Did you get the job? Did it work out well? Is this a sales pitch for your resume review services?

      1. Czhorat*

        This was a random person from FB.

        I *have* mentioned juggling as a metaphor for handling multiple projects. Once I actually *did* break out the juggling balls and throw a quick three-ball cascade pattern [doesn’t everyone travel with juggling balls?]. I did end up with an offer, shockingly enough.

        And no, not a pitch for resume services. I just thought some folks here would get a chuckle out of it.

  20. straws*

    My husband works as a service technician. He has a company vehicle at home, so he frequently goes straight to a job site. There are also many days that he reports to HQ before leaving for a site (not all techs have a truck, he’s just a more senior employee and it’s a perk). He’s been assigned to a 1-week job that is a 2.5hr drive from home (so 5 hours of driving total per day). He’s being told that he doesn’t have to be paid for his commute by his HR dept. I’ve found a lot of conflicting info online, since a lot of the regulations seem to be based on set hours (9-5) or typically working from a single office. Does anyone have knowledge/experience with this?

    1. JK*

      I have experience, but in both cases it was at the discretion of the employer to find a solution to compensate for drive time. I don’t know if there is a legal requirement. My brother has a work vehicle and his job involves a lot of driving from one work site to another. The agreement they made upon his hire is that 1 hour of his commute each way is on him. After that, he is paid. So if he is working somewhere 2 hours from home, his official hours on his paystub would include 1 hour for the morning drive and 1 hour for the evening drive.

      My husband also has a work vehicle, but has to do long drives less frequently. When it has come up, I believe he has gotten around it by going to the main office first (under the guise of picking up a part or something for the job), clocking in, then driving to the site from there. It would have technically been faster to drive from home, but there weren’t clear rules around how he would have been paid if he left straight from the house.

      1. straws*

        I suspect their discretion wouldn’t end up with paid time. The job is already 40 hours, so the driving time would be at overtime pay, which they hate. They’re very supportive in many areas, but giving out additional pay is not one of them! Thank you for sharing!

      1. straws*

        Good point. I think our state has some online resources as well, so I’ll dig through there too. Thanks!

    2. Volunteer Coordinator in NoVA*

      Technically for my employer, if you are going directly to a site or to our main office it all counts as part of your commute even if they are drastically different distances. I could technically drive to my office and then on to one of our sites but it would be a waste of time so I just subtract the difference between the distance from my home to my office from the distance from my job to the site and put that on my mileage. We don’t really have an HR department so no one has every said anything to me about it but it might be worth asking if there is a work around since it’s such a longer commute.

      1. straws*

        The way you do it is how I thought it would work, but I’ve found very little to back that up. I think JK is correct and that it’s at the employer’s discretion.

    3. PTownes*

      Hi, I would start by making sure you are looking at the regulations specific to your state, and if there aren’t any, check the federal Fair Labor Standards Act ( for regulations regarding compensable travel time. Actually, I would start by asking for the company policy about travel time, mileage reimbursement, etc – if there is a company policy, it should be made available for him to view. Good luck!

      1. straws*

        Their HR dept is somewhat lacking, but I’ll make him take a second look. I’ll definitely be checking out the state DOL site. I think the fact that he’s starting from home has this fall under “a commute” for most laws though.

        1. Natalie*

          It’s possible it would be far away enough to count as “overnight travel away from home area”, but in that case only travel time during his normal work day would be paid.

    4. Czhorat*

      Legal or not, it really sucks.

      The people I work for have a rule that you get paid a certain number of miles from your nearest office. I had to clarify with them because I work from home and the nearest office is literally over two hours away. They do have something reasonable for those working remotely.

      Is this a one-time thing or will there regularly be times like this? If the latter, it’ll be hard to retain decent people if they aren’t better about it.

      1. straws*

        One-time thing, hopefully. Most jobs are within an hour, and I suspect that just don’t have a company rule about this sort of thing.

    5. Natalie*

      This fits into a DOL gray area, unfortunately.

      But he can push back on this regardless of the law. Five hours of commuting per day for a week is INSANE. They won’t pay for a hotel for 4 days?

      1. straws*

        Yes, I think that gray area is where I keep landing. I’m going to encourage him to push back to HR a bit. The company is rather small and their HR person frequently puts more weight on saving the company money than doing what’s best for employees. The company overall is very supportive, just to make that clear, but in certain areas they are very lacking in that dept.

        I’m not sure the idea of a hotel has been discussed. I mentioned it upthread, but this isn’t a common situation. That combined with a small, employer-focused HR probably means they don’t think outside of the normal box. My husband hates staying away from home though, so he might prefer the 5 hour drive (or at least, he’ll say so until he has to deal with the first day!)

        1. Natalie*

          Back of the envelope calculation, if this is 300 miles round trip per day and you use the IRS rate to account for the total cost of operating a vehicle per mile, it’s costing them $160/day for him to drive back and forth. In a lot of cities you could find a decent hotel for less than that.

    6. Belle (HR Mgr)*

      Time spent traveling during normal work hours is considered compensable work time. Time spent in home-to-work travel by an employee in an employer-provided vehicle, or in activities performed by an employee that are incidental to the use of the vehicle for commuting, generally is not “hours worked” and, therefore, does not have to be paid. This provision applies only if the travel is within the normal commuting area for the employer’s business and the use of the vehicle is subject to an agreement between the employer and the employee or the employee’s representative.

      Note that it specifically says normal commuting area — which means it might have to be paid.

  21. Mimmy*

    Ugh I am at BEC stage with my contract job already!!

    TL;DR: How do I express that I misunderstood expectations and am not sure how to proceed without burning bridges?

    I had the initial project meeting (I’m creating a handbook) on February 13 and was subsequently given an outline to work from. I had begun working from a technical (policy/rules) mindset knowing that I’d get feedback along the way.

    I sent in my first submission on Tuesday. The woman wrote me back saying not to worry so much about the technical aspects and focus more on the “human interest” side. I was completely thrown because I have no idea how to do this. How do you add editorial content to a handbook??

    I couldn’t wait until the Open Thread to get advice on what to do, but I wrote the woman back using a strategy I learned here: I thanked her for the feedback and said I misunderstood the expectations from me (rather than accusing them of changing the expectations) and asked if we could meet Monday to discuss, saying I’m not 100% sure how to proceed.

    I’m really scared that I’ve begun to harm my standing with this. To be clear: I am not a freelance contractor – they approached ME, an unemployed job seeker. Yes I have the writing skills, but I can’t create a good product if you don’t spell out what you want.

    1. Karanda Baywood*

      I would set up a tentative outline myself (a creative brief, if you will) so she has something to react to when you meet.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Does she expect a handbook that teaches through use of stories?

      I’d be lost also. I doubt you have ruined your standing with what has happened so far. I would don the “service mentality”. “I am here to make absolutely sure you have what you want. Here, help me to understand better what it is you are looking for.”

      You can ask for examples using what you already have written. And redundantly, you can ask what she thinks this thing will look like when you are done.
      Sneakily, you can also ask how she expects it to be used once in place. If this is a book that people will pick up and put down and only read sections relevant at the moment, then that would require a bit different presentation of info than if people were expected to read the handbook straight through.

      Hang tough. Give yourself the weekend to just step back and recharge. Monday may look better. Bring the outline with you, so you can look at it together.

    3. Mimmy*

      Thank you both.

      I have a meeting set up for Monday afternoon. Her last email to me was friendly, so I guess I’m still good :)

    4. Jules the First*

      Hard to say without seeing what you wrote, but is it possible she’s looking for something more conversational? Like, say, the difference between “All Wonky Teapot Employees must clock in within 60s of shift start time by manipulating the time clock widget handle firmly in a counterclockwise direction.” and “We’d love it if our Wonky Teapotters could clock in at the start of your shift so we can keep accurate records. Grab the sparkly handle and give it a twizzle to the left to say hi!”

      1. bossy*

        I asked my technical writer to change our dry training to be more conversational by addressing the reader directly and making sure we’re telling them why they’re doing things: “You must always clock in at the start of your shift. Accurate timekeeping ensures that you will get paid correctly and on-time. Turn the handle [diagram with handle highlighted] firmly counterclockwise after inserting your timecard.”

        Maybe she’s looking for something like this?

        Note that it took us a couple iterations to get the tone I wanted. This is totally expected when working with a new writer.

    5. Leslie Knope*

      A lot of my company’s online training that reviews policies is very situation oriented. It will say things like “Donna was talking to her customer Jerry, when he disclosed that his company will be going public within the next year. Let’s discuss what Donna should do with this information.”

      I think you are totally fine so far! I second several of the comments that you should ask for examples and get clarification how the end user will be utilizing this resource. When I’ve had projects with a moving target, I like to schedule frequent check-ins with my manager / decision maker so that we don’t get several weeks in with me pursuing the wrong path.

  22. May*

    So there’s this man in my office who I find to be really creepy and sexist and I now sit very close to him and he’s driving me nuts. The first year I worked here he said some variations of “Why aren’t you smiling?” to me at least four times so he was already on my list, but I recently moved to a new desk very close to where he sits and have to listen to him talk to my female coworkers all day. For context, he is a middle-aged, divorced father and my female coworkers are in their 20s. He always, without fail refers to them as “Ladies” or “girls,” and the other day he actually said the words “What’s wrong, baby girl?” to one of them when he saw she was working late. He skeeves me out so bad but I can’t tell if it bothers the women he’s talking to or not because they have friendly conversations with him pretty much every day. I don’t know if they’re just being polite or what and since he doesn’t talk to me much (as I have no problem being stony and cool to people when they do things like that and he seems to have gotten the hint) I guess I don’t really have a personal stake in it but he’s driving me nuts. Guess I’m not really asking for advice so much as ranting.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      That’s disgusting. You NEED to say something to him when he speaks to you like that. “Fergus, please don’t refer to me that way. I am an adult woman.” “Fergus, it’s not my job to smile. Stop telling me to smile.”

      1. May*

        I mean if he said any of that stuff to me I would just look back at him blankly until he felt shame deep in his soul but after my uncomfortable reactions to his “smile” comments finally sank in he’s more or less left me alone (it’s been a couple of years since the last one). I don’t feel like I can speak up on behalf of my coworkers because I don’t know if it bothers them or not, and if it does I don’t want to make that decision for them because it might make them feel more uncomfortable to make it into a thing.

        1. Jessie the First (or second)*

          “I would just look back at him blankly until he felt shame deep in his soul ”

          I love this.

          If you are right next to them when he says something with “baby girl” could you just look up and say quizzically “what about a baby girl?” As if you didn’t really hear what he said and there might be an actual baby girl in the room?

          1. JustaTech*

            I have a friend who’s reaction to the command of “smile!” was to bear her teeth in something the superficially looked like a smile but really made you think she was about to tear out your throat (or your soul). It’s over-the-top but *very* effective, because you don’t actually say anything and you followed the (ridiculous) command.

        2. Natalie*

          I think you can speak up on the “baby girl” thing even though it wasn’t directed to you, because it’s so out of line.

        3. Wanna-Alp*

          You can’t speak up on behalf of them, but you can speak up on behalf of you.

          If it bothers you to keep hearing someone infantilising grown women, and putting his condescension out there like a bad smell, then absolutely you can speak up for this reason! He is not contributing to a positive work environment.

    2. Leatherwings*

      Whoooo I’d have already lost my temper on this guy. I agree that you need to be straightfoward with him and say “Please don’t refer to adult women as girls or ladies. It’s unprofessional and degrading” and “Please don’t tell people, especially women, to smile. It’s pretty sexist”

      It probably does make some of the women he’s talking to uncomfortable, and even if it doesn’t it’s inappropriate on its face so I’d say something.

    3. Here we go again*

      Gross! Can you work up a gradual acquaintanceship with some of the other women and get to the point where you can ask how they feel about him?

      1. May*

        Actually the majority of the coworkers in question are people that I trained (though I am not their manager) so I may put out some feelers about it.

    4. bopper*

      “Is there some work issue you would like to discuss?”

      “Why aren’t you smiling?”
      “Why aren’t you working?”

      “Why aren’t you smiling?”
      If he says it’ll make me look prettier, and then you say “For whom?”

      1. May*

        My default response in the wild to the question “Why aren’t you smiling?” is “Because a man is talking to me” but in an office setting I’d be compelled to be a bit more diplomatic.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Oh I like that response. Gonna pocket that for future use as needed.

          As far as your issue, just going to say I sympathize. I worked at a place once where the main team was all women – 7 of us, all under the age of 35 – with a male manager, who was cool, and a man who worked kind of adjacent to us (on a specialized subset of accounts). The male coworker was older and had a habit of referring to the team as “my girls” – like, “How are my girls doing today?” – until I snapped at him one day “I’m not your girl.” He tried to brush it off, but thankfully the rest of the team backed me up and he finally quit saying it after that.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I’d just cut to the chase. “I am thinking you don’t realize it, but asking a woman about smiling has been identified as a sexist remark. Because men don’t ask other men that question. I wanted to point that out to you so that you know that many people consider that an offensive thing to say.”

        When he says “I didn’t mean anything by it”, just nod in agreement, “I am SURE you meant nothing by it, so that will make all the easier to just stop saying that now that you know it is offensive to others. I know you would not want to offend people. That is why I mentioned it.”

    5. writelhd*

      I found “Don’t ever call me that again” in a dead serious tone with direct eye contact stare pretty helpful, once. The guy told me he thought about it all weekend and realized he had done wrong to call me “sweetie” when dropping off papers in my inbox. But he was an enlightened person genuinely interested in self improvement and took the blame on himself rather than the asserter when he experienced pushback. But therein lies the rub. Pushback, can probably help in your situation. Not always and not completely, and it is scary to contemplate having to push back every.single.time. not just that, so damn wearying. But I do think it’s the only thing that has a chance of being effective.

      1. Nethwen*

        I told a customer not to call me sweetheart and he said, “I’m just being a gentleman.”

        Our definitions of what is gentlemanly behavior are clearly very different.

        1. writelhd*

          Oh grr, I hate that, and have gotten that too. At which point my instinct is to provide clear education on why undermining someone’s authority and position is not very gentlmanly.

        2. Cordelia Naismith*

          “If you continue to call me sweetheart after I have asked you to stop, that is not being gentlemanly; that is being rude.”

    6. Emi.*

      If he’s telling you to smile and distracting you from work, you do have a personal stake in it! You would be totally justified in speaking up.

    7. Lady By The Lake*

      If there is a way to do it, I might go to lunch with some of the other women and find out what they think. I suspect that he skeeves everyone out but they are being nice because the power differential appears to be in his favor. If all the women feel the same, a united frosty front rather than one person taking the initiative to call this guy on his nonsense might be empowering.

    8. Gail Davidson-Durst*


      I agree that I wouldn’t want to make it awkward when he talks to other women unless I knew they were on board. The last thing I’d want to do is create conflict on behalf of someone who would rather I didn’t.

      For the smiling thing, I’ve told a colleague who did it to another woman “Don’t tell women to smile – it’s gross,” while for myself I think I’d go with “Please don’t tell me what to do with my own face.”

      (Actually, I’ve only had one dude ever tell me to smile, and it was as I walked into the office the morning after the 2016 election. I honestly was so enraged that I don’t remember exactly what I said, only that I managed to refrain from expletives, yet made enough of an impression that I overheard him mention it to one of his teammates weeks later.)

  23. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I forgot to pack breakfast and lunch for work last night until I was already 90% asleep. So, I don’t remember doing it, and have NO idea what my lunch is. It’s just a UFO-like object wrapped in foil, about the size of a Frisbee. I’m almost afraid to look!

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      A few days ago, I packed my lunch the night before work, put it in my lunchbox, and promptly left the lunchbox on the fridge all night. Definitely had to throw it away! I was bummed– it was leftovers I really enjoyed.

    2. i2c2*

      I really want to go 20 questions on this. Is it heavier than a can of soda? Does it hold its shape if you move it? Make noise if you shake it? Is it food?

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        It’s fairly heavy, but not a can- there’s some “give” in the shape, and it’s flat-ish. It doesn’t make noise. No strong smells.

        I can keep this up for 45 minutes to an hour when I eat! I’ll play, ask away.

        1. Chinook*

          This doesn’t happen more often? I have a whole array of frozen leftovers that I randomly grab every morning for lunch. When asked what I am eating, I have been known to answer “not sure but I really hope it isn’t the chopped onions I had prepped for a stir fry.”

  24. Turanga Leela*

    I’ve been reading applications this week, and I’m so disheartened by people’s cover letters. Many of them were clearly told that it helps to have a customized cover letter, so they have one sentence about how interested they are in my organization and our mission… followed by several paragraphs, clearly pulled from a form letter, about their great experience in irrelevant areas. It’s depressing—I really want them to make a case for themselves, and they’re not doing it. And since many of them are coming from other areas of work, their resumes don’t speak for themselves.

    I just want someone to tell all these well-meaning people that having a customized cover letter isn’t just some technicality that you can fake. You need to make the entire letter speak to the job posting!

    1. T3k*

      I feel for them. I’ve never been a strong writer, but if you asked me to draw you something, I’d be breaking out my oil pastels, charcoal, etc and paint a mural all over the Great Wall of China. Also, some of them might have unfortunately slipped into what I’ve been doing lately: I’ve basically stopped even trying to customize letters and will just throw some paragraphs together (granted, I try to use stories that stick to the qualifications, like examples of how I’m organized, multi-task well, etc). Mainly because I start thinking depressive thoughts like how nobody is going to even give my resume even 5 mins, so why should I spend hours on a custom cover letter like I used to do (and never got anywhere)? I’ve basically given up.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        Oh, I’m sorry, T3k. I feel for them too (and you). My problem is that we’re hiring for a position where persuasive writing really matters, so if they can’t do a strong cover letter, it’s a very bad sign for the job.

      2. SophieChotek*

        +1 I feel that way too when I write cover letters. I try to make it customized but if I think they’ll only give it 30 seconds and I have to spend hours reading the job position, tailoring the letter, research the company, it’s disheartening.

        But if the position requires persuasive writing, I can see where this matters and might stand out more.

        Ha…your note is encouraging in a way…it means some people actually read our cover letters!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Since mine has certain things I’m likely going to put in each one, I created macros for those things. Then I can tweak them without having to cut and paste and retype every time.

    2. Today I'm Anon*

      I read a cover letter this week that was all about what a good job the candidate would do for Company A. It was well-written and incredibly persuasive. Unfortunately, the job was at Company B, in no way affiliated with Company A, and not even for similar work.

      1. Troutwaxer*

        Someone at Company B probably has the cover letter for Company A too. And half the job seekers reading this are saying “I hope that wasn’t me!”

    3. Jadelyn*

      At least you’re getting cover letters at all. I actually get excited when I see one because it’s pretty rare, despite clearly asking for a cover letter in our job postings.

      1. Salmon Maki*

        Agreed. I’ve been a hiring manager for just a few months, but out of around 100 candidates who have applied, only one has submitted a cover letter.

    4. Biff*

      Please do double-check your postings — they might not really lend themselves to customization as well as they may seem. Or, HR might have changed your beautifully written postings to something awful before posting it! My parents have both complained about that happening.

      I’ve been trying my damnedest to create ‘custom’ cover letters for each company I’ve applied to recently, but the trouble I’m running into is that so many job postings are a short paragraph about how quirky the company is, a vague two-or-three lines about the work, followed by 25-50 bullet points of ‘must have’ ‘nice to haves’ and ‘bonus points.’ At that point, I try to either talk about anything I think is a key skill, or try to create a general idea of the job and write about what skills I have that fit the vision of the job my mind has created. It slow going, hard, and frankly, at some point in time, I feel like it’s Boiler Plate vrs. Disguised Boiler Plate. It’s disheartening on my end to feel I have no way to really write something worth reading.

    5. ModernHypatia*

      Definitely feel your pain – the last time I was hiring (last summer), it was for a job with three distinct roles, spelled out in the ad.

      Only about a third of the people applying even touched on all three. We weren’t expecting people would have equal skills or interests in the three parts, just wanted to know the person had thought about the roles, maybe had a thing that was relevant for each one, based on what we said about it.

      On the other hand, the people who did touch on all three really stood out. (And our hire is awesome.)

  25. Anonymoose*

    So I have a weird problem. What do you do if your email address gets flagged as spam half the time and you’re trying to talk with an interviewer who doesn’t know this? I recently applied to this startup company using their online application, was messaged a few hours later about if I could come down in my salary (I put in 20/hr, but after talking to someone else from that area, I said I could and gave them a lower number). I didn’t get a response back and it’s been a few days, so I replied again basically checking if they got my previous email and it was ok if we couldn’t agree on numbers (I just want to know if I’m still on the board or not). There’s no way to call them, and no other email address, so now I don’t know what to do.

    1. May*

      Could you set up a different email account that’s less likely to get flagged and send them a heads up about it?

      1. Anonymoose*

        Oh, didn’t think of that. I’ll have to get creative with a name though that is professional but doesn’t include my last name though (as I think it’s my last name that’s causing the auto-filtering, grrr).

        1. Sunflower*

          Definitely go with the initial name. In college, our email addresses(and usernames) were first, middle and last initial with some numbers after it. A lot of people just used their username @ gmail post college.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah — flagged as spam half the time means that a lot of people will never see your communications because lots of people never check their spam folders! You need a different email.

  26. Audiophile*

    I was reading an NYT article today about filler words, which now makes me think of all the times I use them in interviews.

    I have an interview today, which I excited about. I still haven’t figured out how to claw my way into the corporate communications world, the one corporate job I interviewed for rejected me the other day. I’m patient, I know I can make it happen.

    Anyway, here’s my question. Has anyone figured out a tactful way to glance at their questions during interviews? I have a list of questions, but feel like it looks a little weird to throw open notebook and look at them. Maybe I’m over thinking this.

    1. Spoonie*

      I use a two column approach — one column is shorthanded questions and the other column is my “notes” from the interview. As I’m taking notes on the interview, I can glance at my question in the other column.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ooh I like that better than the questions pages I print out. I usually end up writing on the job description instead. I think I’ll make a document with the description at the top and the columns below that. :D

    2. Amy The Rev*

      I think it can actually make you look like you’re prepared and ‘did your homework’…when they ask “do you have any (more) questions for us?” you can say, “yes, actually, let me see…” and open your notebook to jog your memory. I think that also makes it a little easier to jot down notes on their answers.

    3. Turanga Leela*

      You mean your questions for the employer? I think it’s totally normal to have your notebook on hand for that. When I interview, I bring a folder/portfolio with copies of my resume and a list of my questions. When the interviewer asks if I have questions, I open the folder and go through my list. It’s not a secret; people come into interviews knowing they have questions. Sometimes I say something like, “I have a bunch of questions! I wrote them down so I wouldn’t forget.”

      1. Newby*

        Filler words are words that you use to fill silence when they do not add anything to what you are saying. Common examples are “um” “uh” and “like”.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          That link says verbal ticks. It should be verbal tics. The editor in me is clutching her pearls!
          Verbal ticks sounds like someone opening their mouth and gross insects pouring out.

          1. Audiophile*

            It’s amusing that the mistake is in the link. At no point in the article, is the word tic or tick used.

            Either way, the article is really interesting.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I usually have a pen with me and keep my notepad open and occasionally jot things down – so my questions are already at the top of the page. Nobody’s ever looked at me weird for that.

      1. Czhorat*

        I take almost all of my notes electronically, and have opened up a tablet during interviews. I’ve gotten a couple of offers since doing this, so it doesn’t apparently come across as too weird [as opposed to, say, juggling].

        It also gives me a way to discretely check the time if I want to and can have my questions for them at hand.

    5. pmac*

      Congrats on the interview! I usually ask them at the beginning of the interview if it’s okay to take notes. Then I keep my notebook open until it’s time for questions. It also allows me to jot down reminders about multi-part questions since I tend to forget to address a part otherwise.

  27. Amy The Rev*

    I usually use this thread to rant about some aspect of being an office temp, BUT today I’m here to rave about one of the benefits: the office you temp in usually knows you’re job-searching for something in your field and temping as a stop-gap, and so you can openly share your excitement/good news with them when you GET INVITED FOR AN INTERVIEW AT YOUR DREAM CHURCH, and they get excited with you and are genuinely happy for you and send you lots of good luck wishes!

    1. MegaMoose, Esq*

      Good luck! My workplace is similar in terms of expecting regular turnover and being really supportive of job searching (so long as you’re getting your hours in). It’s a nice perk.

      1. NaoNao*

        I think (based on my mom’s experience with trying to find a “home” church) that it’s like a dream job:
        The right distance from your home, in the right/desirable part of town for you, the building itself is cool (to you, whatever you like, modern, small little clapboard with 3 rooms, whatever) the population is involved and growing, and probably most importantly, the doctrine (and how it’s expressed–sermons, hand outs, songs/bands, youth groups, etc) is matching your own!

      2. Amy The Rev*

        Thank you!! Dream Church/Job for me is: an associate minister position at a church with progressive theology but high liturgy, with a decent salary/benefits, a senior minister who is known to be a good mentor and supervisor, and enough material/human resources to be able to head up a few cool projects in both the congregation and wider community. Which this church fits to a T…I’ve actually been wanting to work there ever since I found out about them a few years ago, but never figured they’d have an opening to fill at the same time that I was job searching (or what we call “being in search and call”)!

    2. zora*

      YAY!!! Amy that’s awesome!!!! Wishing you the best of all luck at the interview! I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

  28. Not a Real Giraffe*

    Sigh. Last month, I told my boss that I was interested in getting more involved in one of our large programs, and she was thrilled. We drafted out a plan to get me up to speed, in which I would shadow her for the first stage of the program, then me go out on my own for the second stage. The second stage involved an international trip that I was really looking forward to, and frankly the international travel was 75% of the reason I was interested in getting more involved.

    We looked at flight prices this week and my boss said she didn’t think I could go, for budget reasons. She seemed legitimately sorry to take the trip away from me, but I understood the reasoning.

    Three hours later, I learned that she asked her assistant to look into flights for her to go on the trip herself. So much for “budget reasons.”

    1. Effie*

      Oh. My. God.

      Bah humbug was the first thing that came to mind. I am so sorry.

      I don’t have any advice, just empathy.

    2. Audiophile*

      I understand your disappointment. While it presumably isn’t related to budget reasons, is it possible that it makes more sense for your boss to go?

    3. athiker10*

      Was she planning on sending just you or both of you to go on the trip? Because it could still be legitimate budget reasons if she was planning on going.

        1. Not a Real Giraffe*

          No, it was just supposed to be me. One of my coworkers said it might be that my boss has some non-transferable flight vouchers, which would justify her going in my stead. If that’s the case, I rescind all my anger and disappointment!

          1. Bex*

            Were you looking today? I’ve noticed that tickets are WAY more Fri-Sat… I’ve been pricing tickets for a Brazil trip. Yesterday they were $850. Today they were $1350. But I’m expecting them to go back down by Tues/Wed.

            Do you think your boss would be open to waiting a couple days? Have you checked sites like Travel Pirates and Google Flights that are great for finding routes on sale?

    4. Mephyle*

      Well of course it was budget reasons. After her ticket was booked, there wasn’t enough left in the budget for you to go.

    5. Eponymous Clent*

      Don’t give up! I’ve been plugging away with our team in Europe for several years, and finally got the chance to make the trip. It’s fair to wait until you’ve really done some work on the program.

    6. GirlwithaPearl*

      To be fair, “frankly the international travel was 75% of the reason I was interested in getting more involved” is a pretty crappy reason to want to work on something.

      1. Hrovitnir*

        Really? I think “I’m OK with this work but the possibility of [perk] is what motivated me” is both a perfectly reasonable and fairly common reason to go out of your way to be involved with something.

  29. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Also, I found enough cheap ones, and saved enough money, to afford all of my continuing ed credits needed to keep my license this year! And as soon as I have $35 to spare, I am joining my local LGBT bar association, which offers a few free classes a year on those issues, so I can spend less in future years, and meet people.

    1. MegaMoose, Esq*

      Wooo hoo! As I am terrified of networking and somewhat low on funds, I do not belong to any of the bar associations in my area. I know I should, but they can be really spendy! I live in a metro with three law school and a state capital so have managed to get most of my CLEs for free as long as I’m not picky on the subject matter.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Aren’t we both in Minnesota? The three law schools thing just stuck out to me. Do tell about the free CLEs, because I recently paid $90 for 10 credits- two annual “Advising the Disadvantaged” seminars.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq*

          Brain fart, I believe we did establish that in an earlier open-thread! I regularly hit up the law journal symposia – each school generally does 2-4 a year and they’re free at St. Thomas and the U (and I think WM, but I don’t make it to that side of town often).You can net 5-7 credits each and they’re honestly pretty interesting. I went to one a couple of years ago at the U on LGBT issues in sports which might have been up your alley. The schools do other CLEs through the year that are usually free or very cheap and open to the public, and WM|H even puts some free for everyone on-demand on their website. Plus around the capital area there are also usually 3-6 free CLEs a year each from the revisor’s office, judicial branch, and AG’s office.

          1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

            I know the U does free- when I was on the Journal of Law & Inequality and OUTlaw, I did set up/tear down for LGBT symposiums and presentations. But I forgot they are eligible for CLE credit!

            1. MegaMoose, Esq*

              Yup! I like getting chunks out of the way at once rather than dribbling in an hour here and there. I think there’s less sunk cost too, since each one hour has some sort of travel time attached. Obviously it costs whatever you would have earned that day, but you’ve got to put the time in eventually. You can get all your standard credits that way if you go to 2-3 a year, and some of the JLI and St. Thomas symposia in particular offer ethics or bias credits.

              Assuming your credits aren’t committed already, St. Thomas is doing the ACA and executive power on 3/31 and 4/6. They don’t have CLE or attendance info up yet but they’ve usually offered 5.5-6.5 credits in the past and been free with advance registration.

  30. Spoonie*

    I had a side job for my old employer doing specialized teapot design. Past tense now because I got official word that my position has been eliminated. I had hoped that my supervisor would have had the respect for our relationship to tell me herself, but instead she had HR contact me to let me know what the ‘transition period’ would look like (EOM).

    I might be a tad bitter at the moment, particularly since she had given no indication that this was a possibility — and she wants me to explain to her how to finish the project and how to do specialized teapot design.

    1. Collie*

      Yikes; that’s unfortunate. Is it possible to have a conversation with her about it? “I was under the impression this work would be continuous, so I was surprised to hear from HR that the job was being eliminated. Can you tell me anything about that?” Maybe it won’t do much for you, but assuming this is how Supervisor/Company operates for all layoffs, it may bring to their attention that alternative methods of letting people know they’re being let go are preferred.

      1. Spoonie*

        The HR manager is actually also leaving (without a job lined up; the company is a bit off kilter, which is part of why I left), and she indicated that they’re restructuring, so I don’t believe I have any leverage there. The additional free time would be nice. How it’s being handled is the irksome part.

    2. Iain Clarke*

      “…explain to her how to finish the project”
      “Carry on paying me for my skills until the project is over.”
      There you go!

      1. Spoonie*

        Kind of what I was thinking. The whole thing just irks me from top to bottom, particularly since supervisor labeled it a “transition” plan when really no one’s transitioning anywhere, except she’s going to have to figure out how to do something she has no training in. Not my monkeys, no longer my circus.

  31. AdAgencyChick*

    Annoying situation on my side gig that I’d have no trouble managing if it were my day job…

    I freelance for a small company (which has nothing to do with my ad agency life). My duties are mostly editorial, but I do have one annoying administrative task that I’ve been stuck with, which is collecting and verifying all the writers’ invoices before forwarding them to the payroll person so that everyone gets paid. The invoice deadline is the same day every month, and I send out a reminder a couple of days ahead of the deadline every time.

    A couple of people are late getting me their invoices. Every single time. This means I either have to delay everyone else getting paid until they submit (nope!) or else forward the stragglers as they come. (I tried imposing the consequence of telling the writers that anyone who misses the deadline has to wait until the following month to get paid, but the payroll person asked me not to do that.) I could fire these writers but — what do you know — they’re my best *writers* (and one of them is a friend of the owner’s).

    I realize this is not a huge, life-altering problem, but it annoys the hell out of me because I get paid peanuts for this gig — I do it because I really enjoy my editing duties, but I HATE dealing with the administrative crap. Is there anything I can do besides suck it up and deal?

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        I was thinking about that. I’m pretty sure that they know what the actual deadline is, and when I start sending a reminder email to them on which the rest of the writers’ team isn’t copied (since I just group-email all the writers for reminders), they’ll still know deep down that they have until X date, not X-2, and blow past X.

        But, I can’t know without trying, right? So I will give that a shot.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          You can tell them do to difficulties on the reporting/transmitting end you have had to make a new deadline for invoices. It’s not a choice, everyone must follow the new deadline.

          I would be tempted to say if everyone cannot get their invoices in at the new deadline the deadline will be moved back again, until ALL are able to complete this task on time. I don’t know how much wiggle room you have here.

        2. Ama*

          Can you start bcc’ing the group on reminders so they can’t tell who is and isn’t copied? I do this with a group of volunteers that can be tricky to get timely responses from — that way I can send extra reminders to the poky group without anyone figuring out that I don’t have to do it for everyone.

      2. EddieSherbert*

        What about just calling them out on it? Like, in an email give them an earlier deadline AND explain why they are getting an earlier deadline (you have been late X months in a row and it is a problem.)

        Otherwise, maybe CCing managers? I’ve occasionally found that helps light a fire under people’s bottoms…

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          There is no manager to CC — they’re freelancers. (Like I said, this would be easy to manage if it were my day job: either I’d be their manager and impose consequences, or I’d talk to their manager and try to get him/her to impose consequences.)

          But you’re right that I haven’t called out the pattern.

    1. katamia*

      Have you tried sending out another reminder the day before or the day of? It might feel excessive to you, but as someone who freelances and has to send invoices in on certain days, sometimes you know you have to do something but you can’t even remember what day it is, and having a reminder a couple days before the deadline is just too far in advance, since I only do short projects (mostly a 48-hour turnaround time), so a reminder a couple days in advance would just be too far for me.

      I’m not trying to say they’re blameless here because I fixed that problem by setting up Gmail reminders to tell me to get my invoices in, which is presumably something they could also do, but these people seem to be unwilling or unable to do that.

    2. Feathers McGraw*

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable to make the stragglers wait until next month if they miss the deadline.

      1. Feathers McGraw*

        Sorry, I missed the part where they asked you not to do that. Can you ask payroll why you can’t do it?

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          The answer I got was that it’s better to have the payouts spread over the year than to have a bunch of backlogged invoices hit at once. She didn’t say better how, but I assume she means for budget planning purposes.

          1. Feathers McGraw*

            How laborious, or not, is the invoicing process?

            I used to freelance and would procrastinate on doing invoices for one company as they insisted you fill in a PDF form they provided, in acrobat, which was the most annoying thing ever. Another made me use a portal that kept glitching.

            On the flipside I had one client with a really great portal that made the whole process take about two minutes.

            1. AdAgencyChick*

              They send me an Excel file. It’s not terribly difficult if you’ve been keeping track of what pieces you’ve written in the last month. I keep a running list of my own in Google docs (since I too have to invoice for my writing and editing work), so it takes me about two minutes to transfer that over, but I suppose if you don’t keep a list it might be longer to figure out what you need to invoice for.

              None of the other freelancers puts out nearly as much writing as I do, though — think three or four 300-word items from each one per month from them, versus twenty or more for me!

              Is two days not enough time for people to figure that out? Should I start emailing five days ahead or something like that?

              1. Feathers McGraw*

                I think they just sound disorganised. And I am personally always frustrated when I hear of freelancers making it hard for people to pay them. It’s frustrating for you as you’ve been prevented from actually doing anything about it – there’s no consequence for missing the deadline.

                What’s the subject line of your emails? Does it mention the company name, invoices being due and the deadline? If not, I would try making that clearer.

  32. pmac*

    Travel advice:

    I’m going to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Korea and am so excited! I’ll be with three other women, and we already booked lodging. We entered into the CoSport lottery but didn’t have a ton of luck with the big tickets we wanted like Men’s and Women’s Hockey medal games or Women’s Figure Skating. I’d love advice on other sports or Olympics-y activities to check out. Any forums/sites you’d recommend? Are tickets available day of? Is it okay to go to an event alone?

    My boss told me to write to sponsoring companies to get free merch to trade with people – is this still a thing?

    1. Kowalski! Options!*

      I don’t know about free merchandise, but you might want to contact your local tourist office (or the national association of your favourite sport) and see if they have pins you could have, for trading. I worked as an athlete services coordinator at the Pan Am and Para Pan Am Games in Toronto during the summer of 2015, and pin swaps are a really bid thing with some countries – there are some people who go to international games events just to round out their pin collections.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Sports wise – any of the “big” men’s xc skiing competitions ought to be pretty good – especially the men’s 4x10k when Norway/Italy/Sweden duke it out for the title and it gets fierce. If you want to be indoors then I would opt for long track speed skating, particularly the men’s sprint events (500 and 1000) as the Dutch turn out a good bunch of fans. However, short track speedskating is hugely popular in South Korea and I can imagine the atmosphere will be electric for any of those events.

      What luck!

    3. Chinook*

      Bobsledding and luging are interesting to watch and, as a bonus, there is a lot of downtime between runs, so you can chat with spectators sitting around you.

    4. Aglaia761*

      Go for Womens and Mens alpine skiing. Mikaela Shiffrin and hopefully Lindsey Vonn will be there for the women.

      Short track speed skating is amazing to watch and the Koreans L.O.V.E. it. Long track speed skating is also fun, the Dutch roll in with half of the country in orange and take all of the medals. Dutch fans are THE.BEST!

      Bobsleigh and luge are also cool to watch and attend.

      Curling is surprisingly fun to attend. Wear sunglasses for the Norwegians crazy pants.

  33. JStarr*

    I’m currently researching how to pay our interns. It’s incredibly frustrating to me just how uninterested everyone else is about the issue. We run on a shoestring budget to begin with but unpaid internships just seem…wrong. They’re supposed to be a hassle to deal with because you’re teaching these kids, not just expecting them to do this other work.

    We’re also in an industry that is majority white, well off females (until you reach management, then it’s suddenly white, well off males *eye roll*). I figure by trying to get these kids paid, we can offset some of the financial issues that begin from the very first steps.

    But I’m receiving little help and it is annoying.

    1. MegaMoose, Esq*

      It stinks that you’re not getting support here – I think what you’re doing is absolutely the right thing to do. Change is tough! I hope you can find a way to make it work.

    2. Here we go again*

      There has been a recent push away from unpaid internships (mainly for legal issues), so if you point that out, maybe other people will pay more attention.

    3. krysb*

      Provide them with the Department of Labor rules for legal unpaid internships (I’m assuming you work for a for-profit company). No one wants it known that a company uses unpaid internships (another note on unpaid internships – students have to pay for them through tuition) for free labor and nobody wants the Department of Labor in their business. Then there’s also the legal liability that occurs if the unpaid intern realizes s/he is working illegally and can file suit.

    4. Lillian Styx*

      My org has been struggling with this issue too! And I always find myself caught between my boss who wants them paid on a 1099 and the auditors who don’t understand or accept that the internship is not the same as employment (or is it?? the DOL and IRS directives often conflict arrgghh)

      So, sympathy.

      1. Here we go again*

        I think your boss is the one that is confused. They are still employees since you are presumably controlling their hours and directing their work. I would look at them as temporary employees.

        1. Natalie*

          Agreed. It’s not impossible to structure an internship in such a way that it would qualify as independent contractor, but it’s extraordinarily unlikely.

  34. Cat Accountant*

    Interviewers, do you respond to thank you emails from candidates when you’re not the hiring manager or in charge of communicating with them? I frequently do interviews for potential coworkers and I get a lot of thank you emails, but I never know what to respond with, if anything.

    1. Collie*

      I usually think it’s odd when interviewers respond to me unless it’s to a specific question or to provide information I didn’t already have.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      I’ve been interviewing for a role where I’m speaking with lots of partners/peers, and I don’t expect a response to my emails to them. I do hope they forward them because I try to be thoughtful about reflecting on what I learned and contributing any additional information they might be interested in. If you do want to respond, a simple, “It was great speaking with you. Best of luck in the process!” would probably suffice!

  35. MegaMoose, Esq*

    Well, I finally made some movement this week to move past my endless attempts to get a public sector job. Next week I’m meeting with a former classmate to talk about his practice in an area of law I’ve been interested in for years but haven’t really pursued so far. I’m pretty nervous about it, as networking scares the crud out of me, but I’m also kind of excited. I know this is a really basic step I should have pursued years ago, but I managed to make it years relying on job postings and had almost convinced myself I could avoid the networking game. I’ll take any good wishes floating around and hopefully can use this to build some momentum.

    1. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

      Here are good wishes and positive vibes: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      May your momentum-building give you a useful on-ramp for driving your job search in a satisfying direction.

      The rest of my post is a mixture of sympathy and unsolicited advice. Feel free to skip the advice!

      I hear you on the networking terror. I always imagined myself as the only socially awkward person among super-poised professionals. (Think of the perfect-looking people in those stock photo illustrations of office meetings.) It helped me to start networking in my personal life and on behalf of my child, not myself. Being an advocate gave me courage and interacting in a non-work setting made each encounter seem less scary. Not every interaction went well then or goes well now, but over time I became more comfortable approaching strangers and was able to transfer my developing skills into work-related conversations. I’ve learned how to reach out with a brief question or a friendly comment and how to hide most of my fears about being needy, naive, and/or awkward.
      Again, feel free to ignore if this isn’t helpful.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        No, it is helpful! I am having a hard time imagining when one would need to network in their personal life, but it’s always nice to hear other people have the same fears, or that life goes on after an awkward interaction (save me from awkward interactions!). Fingers crossed!

        1. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

          Networking in personal life is usually to solve some sort of problem, ranging from pleasant (“where’s a good knitting supply shop?”) to annoying but not life-shaking (“where can I buy a good secondhand sofa?”) to mid-level crises (“my son needs an eye doctor” or “our daughter has ADHD and the school district refuses to give her extra time to complete an exam…do you know a good educational lawyer?”) to enormous, horrible, life-swallowing, physical, mental, or behavioral health issues (think cancer, opiate addiction, severe depression, attempted suicide…). People facing these crises may need skilled professional assistance, or a support group of fellow/sister sufferers, or allies who share their desire to make life easier for anyone facing the same problem in the future. (The latter might involve de-stigmatizing the situation, or working to change laws concerning a school district’s obligations to students with learning disabilities, or an employer’s obligation to work with terminally ill employees rather than simply fire them.)
          Gah. Sorry to write a novel here!

    2. JustaTech*

      Good luck! And let us know how the networking goes! I did a tiny bit this week and even though it was super low stakes with someone who I knew had the time and willingness (since they had brought it up to me a couple of times) I was still nervous. (It wasn’t a big deal at all, but I’m also not sure it was super helpful in the job-getting department).
      Hopefully the more success stories we hear from people who aren’t into networking the more the rest of us will be able to get up the gumption to try.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        Thanks, I’ll probably update next week, because Fridays are usually SOOOOOO boring without the open thread! It’s been a while since my last networking attempt, so fingers crossed.

  36. Tired of Revisions*

    I work as a copywriter on an internal marketing team. Right now my supervisors are really getting on me for the number or revisions they have to make to my work and saying that the quality of my work is not where they need it to be. The problem I have is that at least half of the feedback they give is highly subjective. Think along the lines of replacing “Check out the 4 reasons below to see why” with “Read below these 4 reasons to see why.” merely because it sounds better to them.

    I’ve addressed before that I feel like the feedback I get is subjective and opinion-based, which has led to them providing ‘rationale’ for the feedback (which usually boils down to “I think this flows/sounds better”). I believe my supervisors should be looking at my work to see if it meets the needs of the request and properly addresses the audience using the correct strategy – not to get bogged down in differences of phrasing or not liking certain words based on their own personal preferences. How do I explain this to them?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I think your supervisors get to determine what the bar for success is. If they want you to write in a certain way that matches their taste, I think it benefits you to pay attention to their style of writing and improve your attends to mimic that. There is such thing as a “brand voice,” and I would imagine that part of a marketing copywriter’s job would be to learn how to write in that voice.

      1. SophieChotek*

        I agree. I do a lot of internal copywriting and editing for our marketing team.
        Sometimes the changes I make/suggest really are: this just sounds better/flows better. (Or it fits better with what was said earlier. Or we’ve used this phrasing in earlier documents, so to be consistent…)
        Other times, it has been my work that has been changed and there have been changes/requested changes based on word preferences, etc. Like Not a Real Giraffe wrote, your supervisors may have some personal quirks, etc. (I think most writers do) but they are your supervisors so if this is the way they want it, I guess it is there call; even if you are correct what you wrote essentially says exactly the same thing.
        I’m not trying to pile it on and I get it can be frustrating when your supervisor comes back with silly changes or fights over whether “missions” and “vision” and “goals” are the same thing or not…but is this the issue you want to invest your time in pushing back on?
        If you are working with different editors/supervisors, can you learn/figure out what different styles/preferences they have? And write for that style? It might not be what you would pick, but it will probably save you time/headache.

      2. mamabear*

        +1. What works well in one context doesn’t always translate to another. Part of your job as a communicator is to learn those norms. If you can’t write according to your company’s style, that is a real problem.

    2. bopper*

      I think it depends on the audience…“Check out the 4 reasons below to see why” is more informal than “Read below these 4 reasons to see why.”
      “Check out” seems like a Buzzfeed Article. “Read below” sounds more business like.

      It is really about what type of publication it is.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My guess is that they don’t like the conversational tone and prefer a more formal type of tone.

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        “Read below…” sounds so incredibly stilted, and just plain incorrect, that I’d rather–as a reader–just see “Check out…”

        As written, it makes it sound like you’re supposed to look below the four reasons, not read the four reasons below. So I can understand why the OP is a bit annoyed.

    3. rubyrose*

      The fact that you are getting this feedback from more than one person makes me curious. Does more than one of them examine the same piece of work and disagree between themselves on what should occur?

      Also, how long have you been in this team, this industry? Is it possible that they know the audience better than you do at this point?

    4. Jenna P.*

      Does your team/company have a style guide? If not, could you suggest the team come up with one and spearhead the project? Creating one can ensure the whole team is on the same page about voice/wording choices/etc. and help you apply them each time, hopefully leading to less revisions.

    5. Princess Carolyn*

      Honestly, what’s really bothering me about this example is that “to see why” is kind of redundant. Both would sound better if they were “Check out the four reasons below” or “Read below these four reasons.”

      Anyway, if your supervisors are concerned about the quality of work, ask for more specific feedback. “I like it better this way” is a perfectly fine one-off change, but it sounds like you’re consistently not meeting their expectations, and you need to figure out why. Brand voice/tone could be part of it — do they want something that sounds more formal? More flowery? Conversational? Folksy? If they can help you identify the pattern, you can start to write closer to what they’re looking for.

    6. Jessie the First (or second)*

      So yes, oftentimes revisions can be frustrating because there are a hundred ways to phrase any one thing and if you have people review your writing, each person can cone up with a different way to say it, and all are fine.

      But if you are generally having your writing reviewed by the same people, then you need to make it your mission to understand their particular style of writing. Pay attention to the tone (what level of casual vs formal vs technical they use), the extent to which they work to avoid passive construction, favorite phrases, whether they prefer simple sentence structures or complex sentences with multiple clauses, whether they like or hate semicolons, etc.

      Basically, it’s not your job just to write well; it is your job to mimic the style of your managers. That’s not true at every organization – I worked once for a boss who wanted me to write in my own voice, and then he’d change around the wording. He wanted me to get the substance and leave setting the tone to him. But that’s not true at your place. So shift your focus from thinking “but my way is fine, and this is just your personal preference!” to “it is my mission to understand the ins and outs of your writing preferences, and mimic those.”

    7. Copywriter*

      I’m a copywriter too and from my experience, there’s no way to change people like this – you’ll never be the mind-reader they want. Smile, nod and start applying elsewhere. (And I’m surprised how much people are critiquing your clearly hypothetical example of “check out” vs “read”!)

  37. anon for this*

    I’m having ridiculous turmoil over a job I haven’t even applied for and could use a reality check from the good people of AAM! Or just a chance to unload, maybe.

    I’m 30 and have been at my current job for ~4.5 years. It’s meaningful work, we make a fun product, and company culture is great, but I live in a high COL area and the pay in the industry is… just adequate. Not much room for movement/promotion, etc.

    A job popped up on LinkedIn that, honestly, would not be as interesting or fulfilling as my current job. But I could totally do it, and after peeking at salaries, I’m pretty sure it would pay at least twice what I make now – life-changing money.

    I have gotten very comfortable and it’s been a while since I tried to make a big change in any area of my life, and frankly, I probably have some weird class issues around money – we had enough when I was growing up but my dad worked at the same job for most of his career, my mom stayed home and is now a supermarket cashier, and leaving a job I love for an amount that sounds eye-popping in the context of my childhood just feels like greed. Even though it would allow me to get my own place without roommates, get married, own property, have kids, hell, get a dog – all things I can’t do on my current salary, want to be doing, should be able to do at my age.

    I mean, really, I’m just going to apply for it and shelve the freakout until I get an interview IF I get an interview. But I’m kind of surprised by the strength of my own reaction to all this! The thought of leaving my current job breaks my heart, but maybe I just have some kind of weird job Stockholm syndrome…

    Oh, and my yearly review is coming up (the time when we usually get raises). I had planned to ask for a bigger raise than usual, and I guess I still should since I HAVEN’T EVEN APPLIED TO THIS JOB yet, but it would make it even harder to leave in a few months knowing that my manager went to bat for me. Argh!

    (Also, the job application uses Taleo, and I’ve seen so many people complain about it not saving their info across applications, that I was surprised when it wouldn’t let me apply with my email address because it was “already assigned to another user.” A bit of digging and I found the account I’d used to apply 5 years ago… to one of the company’s retail stores while I was doing internships. With all my info still there. It bummed me out to see “min. wage” preloaded in the optional salary field!)

    1. SophieChotek*

      Send in your application; encouraging you! I understand what you are saying about asking for a raise at your review — but I’d ask for it. Life happens and if the company culture is great (like you say it is) I would think your supervisor would understand your need to move on also. Best of luck!

    2. Spoonie*

      I would consider the things that would be important to you for a career, whether that’s meaningful work, salary, opportunity for promotion…then find job openings after you’ve compiled your wants/needs list. And by all means, wait until after your yearly review — you never know what might happen there.

    3. Newby*

      You should apply for the job. If you get an interview, you will be able to better determine if it is a job that you would be happy doing. People work for money. Wanting a job that would allow you to live without roommates does not mean you are greedy. You should definitely ask for a raise at your current job. You don’t know if you will even get the other job, let alone whether you will take it if offered.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Apply for the job. If you get called for an interview, remember you are interviewing THEM also.

      I would like to point out that your parents got married and had kids. I am guessing but they could have had a house and a dog also. I am not seeing much difference from what you want vs what your parents had. This is not greed, it’s life.

      But I am wondering if taking a job that would not be as interesting or fulfilling is actually what is triggering your concern about greed. And this one I would agree with you. It has a yukky feel to it. This is why you interview them, to find out if the job is soul-killing. Don’t put yourself on a hamster wheel, where you have to keep this boring job because you have a house-spouse-kid-dog. It is easy to see that in years to come you could feel like a robot going to this great paying but boring job just to keep the things you want in life.

      Talk to them. Find out if there is something there that surprisingly interests you.

    5. Jules the First*

      I just did this – moved from fun cool job at hip employer who paid peanuts to rather dull, fairly square corporate job that pays golden eggs.

      It was totally worth it. I sleep better, I eat better, I have more time and energy (and money!) for my hobbies. And you know what? It’s not nearly as boring as I was afraid it would be.

      1. Johnster*

        I did something similar several years ago. I agree that it was totally worth it. I can now afford to go on vacations and to concerts that I would never have been able to otherwise. Also, I am able to make financial contributions to several charities.

    6. MissGirl*

      Stay away from the rabbit hole. I used to freak out and then I would apply for the job and get rejected a day later. I realized that I had wasted so much time worrying about a decision I didn’t even have. You don’t have all of the facts yet to even make an educated decision so don’t try to. Apply and stop pre-stressing.

    7. AcademiaNut*

      Aside from the class issues, I think this is also a normal reaction for people who have been following the “do what you love! your job should be your passion!” advice, but have reached a point where they are no longer content living a student lifestyle, and feel guilty about prioritizing salary over a mission or cool job.

      But this is a totally acceptable thing to decide! Your job is only part of your life, and deciding that some other part of your life (location, family, your own place, more financial security, more free time) has become more important than your current job is perfectly fine, and very normal.

      Also, each person has a different balance. There are people who are happy staying in lower paying but cool jobs, and people who are willing to work a job they hate for money to indulge their other interests. And most people fit somewhere in the middle. So if you go off to the higher paying job, and find you’re actually much happier with less money but a more interesting job, you can make that a priority for your next move.

    8. Agnodike*

      You’re allowed to make the choices that will get you to what you do want, not to what you feel you should want. It’s OK to want to live in a bigger place, or be able to afford to eat out regularly or go on trips or get a dog or whatever it is that you’d use the extra money for. It’s OK to want those things more than you want the things you enjoy about your current job.

      I’d push back on the idea that you can’t get married or have kids below a certain salary figure, because people do those things every day making little or even no money! There’s also no age at which we “should” be doing those things. But I suspect you mean “get married the way I’d like to” and “raise my kids in a particular lifestyle, with fewer money worries than I’d have currently” and both those things are also perfectly OK!

      Your life belongs only to you, and that means you’re the only one who gets to decide which things make you happy and which things don’t. If you want more money, go get it!

  38. whichsister*

    Harking back to the post a few weeks ago about being available when out on leave.

    So I was out sick on Wednesday with a severe sinus headache. After previous incidents of calling me and putting me to work after I had been in the er, twice, (with documentation) and was put on bed rest for 2 days, I turned off my phones this time (I have a work phone and a personal phone) . I took my good sinus meds, put a warm rice bag on my face and slept for most of the day.

    Of course there was some sort of emergency that occurred that evidently only I could address (not true) and was the result of three other people not doing their due diligence or their jobs. And I was unreachable.

    I am not a doctor, I don’t have direct reports, I am not HR. I teach people how to serve tea from teapots and how to manage people who serve tea from teapots. There is rarely if ever a 911 issue in my field.

    So yesterday I was reprimanded for not answering the phone when I was out sick. Not just reprimanded, but basically chewed on for almost three hours, 2 of which were after normal office hours.

    When I finally insisted that I needed to go home at almost 7 p.m. I was told we would continue this conversation today.

    I can’t wait.

    1. Whats In A Name*

      Oooofff…I mean they are obviously unreasonable and ridiculous. But you still have to sit through it.

      I mean. Oooff.

    2. JLaw*

      I think you need to make it clear to your management team that when you are out sick you will NOT be reachable (as you are resting in order to get better). The same goes for annual leave (especially as they are being so unreasonable and are contacting you even when not an emergency). It is best to make that clear to them when you’re back at work.

      Do they do this with other people to? Has anyone in your workplace been cross-trained so that they can provide cover, should you be away? If not, then this is something that I would suggest. Also, do you have an FAQ (or wiki) that can provide answers to the most commonly asked questions that you receive? If not, I would recommend getting one setup and then direct people there so that they can find info themselves when you’re away.

      If they are not willing to implement the above (or listen to reason) then I would advise that you look for another job. It never fails to astonish me how some workplaces can be so unreasonable and they end up losing good staff because of it.

    3. New Window*

      Ugh. That’s bats#!t bonkers. I assume you weren’t necessarily asking for advice–scripts abound and all–but I will validate the heck out of that because your boss and coworkers are being extremely unreasonable. I hope you survived the rest of the “talk” with sanity intact.

      My fantasy reaction would be to pick up the phone, and then when they want me to answer the question, I suddenly have pain-killer/fever brain. I proceed to wax eloquent on how lava lamps are obviously superior choices for lighting, or why Pinky Pie is a terrible role model, or how the situation reminds me of the awesome wrapping paper I bought at 90% off at the after Christmas sale.

      Ah, an AAMer can dream…

    4. Evergreen*

      So I think there’s 2 things you need to do:
      1: look for another job
      2: understand how it happened that 3 other people didn’t do due diligence and caused this calamity. Come up with a solution to tackle the underlying issue. Your bottom line is that you can’t always be available: hopefully management will be more accepting of ‘I can’t always be available and here’s what we need to do to ensure this doesn’t happen again’

      But mostly step 1 :)

  39. writelhd*

    Saw a pie-in-the-sky dream job, and decided I’ll go ahead and apply, just in case. It is for a nonprofit professional organization that offers training and oversees a specific certification for professionals in the industry (I have it). They want three references submitted with application. Because I wasn’t really looking I hadn’t pulled references together yet, in fact I’m still at the first job out of college and I’ve been here 7 years, so gathering references that aren’t college professors or summer job bosses from a really long time ago is tricky. I’ve thought about reaching out to the following people, but each gives me pause, want to make sure it’s really appropriate to ask them:

    1)An independent contractor who I hire and work with regularly, who is also a member of the professional organization this job is with. She has the same certification as me but at least a decade more experience, plus a handful of other better certifications I don’t have yet. She seems to like me and talks like she thinks my work is good, but she also works with a LOT of other people, so I have no perspective on how I really seem to her. Also, if I left here she’d still be doing contract work for my company. Would that make her feel like I was drawing her into a conflict of interest, because my company hires her as a contractor?

    2) The former director of engineering from my company. He didn’t directly supervise me, and he left a few years ago, when I was really young in my career and had less responsibility and accomplishments than I do now. But I did collaborate with him on some projects, and he’s one of only two people who I worked with substantially at one point in this job who doesn’t STILL work here. However he left to be an independent contractor and my company uses him in that capacity currently, so it’s another case of is there some kind of conflict of interest to ask him?

    3.) The other person who left my company was the director of sales. He was let go by my company as he was getting burned out and it was showing, so that’s not great, but he’s got another job and he and I did work together really well so I think he’d be willing to do it for me despite how he might feel about my company letting him go. Except my job is technical, and the job I’d be applying to is technical, and he in particular is especially NOT technically knowledgeable at all. So I’m not sure how valuable a reference the hiring org would find him.

    4.) The instructor of the training course I took from this organization, and the overseer of my certification. (He doesn’t work directly for the organization either–they use independent training providers and independent certification providers, the organization just sets the standards.) Like the first choice, he’s a huge big wig in the industry, and he trains and oversees a lot of people with my certification. But I scored so well on the certification test he made note of it, and he once put a word in that got me included in an invitation-only experts conference for our field–but then only said hi briefly in passing and didn’t introduce me to anybody else there. He runs an industry blog and I comment on it sometimes, once I did a guest blog for him. The way the certification structure works, my company pays his company a yearly fee to provide the oversight, software license, and management of my certification. I’m not sure if that disqualifies him from being able to be a reference somehow.


    1. AnonAnalyst*

      Ugh, this is a tough one. I assume there aren’t any coworkers that you feel like you can quietly ask to act as a reference? I think if you can get at least one coworker it would put you in a better position. Or have you done any volunteer work, or consulted on anything related to your field? (I’m assuming you’ve thought through all of these possibilities, but I’m just throwing them out there in case they help bring up some new ideas!)

      I used to work for a nonprofit like this, although I suspect mine was focused on a different field. I’m basing my views on what would have worked best for that organization, but YMMV.

      How closely did you work with #3? It sounds like that one is the least fraught with potential conflicts of interest, so if you think that he will be able to provide any valuable feedback he would probably be a good choice. If I had to choose from this list for the other references, I would go with 1 and 2, mainly because it doesn’t sound like #4 will be able to speak to much beyond how you performed on the test, which I imagine the organization has access to in some capacity.

      1. writelhd*

        Thanks, that sort of confirms my instinct. I’m going to go with #3 because I did work very closely with him, and he’d have good things to say. And he’s a salesperson, so it can’t hurt to have him selling me, huh?

        #1 I will go with too, because she is blunt enough to be honest if she thinks it’s not ok, and caring enough to forgive me for asking. The only thing I have to lose is my ego if she says no Which I’ll recover from.

        I do have current volunteer work but it’s completely, hugely unrelated to the industry. But it is actually a pretty high level volunteer position with a lot of responsibility, basically a part time side job I don’t get paid for. Requires program management skills which, even though applied in a *completely* different arena, are a part of what this job asks for. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to be in the mix.

  40. Turkletina*

    I experienced my first group interview earlier this week. It was unexpected and… interesting. For most questions (e.g., “Tell us about why you want this job”), your answer doesn’t depend on what the other folks have said. But when the question is “What do you know about our company?”, you’re the third person to answer the question, and you’ve done the same amount of research as the other two interviewees, it can be a bit of a struggle to come up with something new. The other thing that bothered me about the format was when it came time for us to ask questions of the hiring committee. You can’t really follow up on their response in a group setting; the dynamic was definitely “we answered your question, now let’s move on to a question from Wakeen”.

    It was also the good kind of interesting in that you don’t often get to see how other people behave in interviews. One of the other interviewees had the kind of confidence that only a white guy can have. He’d be saying things like “One of my strengths is X”, and I’d be sitting there thinking “I’ve spent the past seven years doing X without even thinking about it.” Or there were a couple of times where some of us interpreted questions differently than others, something I might not have noticed if I hadn’t gotten to hear another kind of answer. And, of course, a couple of times when the next person’s answer caused me to think “Duh! How could you have forgotten Y? And that time you did Z?”

    So, what are y’all’s experiences with/impressions of group interviews? Do you go into them with a different strategy than a solo interview?

    1. Leatherwings*

      I hate hate hate hate them. I’ve literally never succeeded in getting past that stage to a one-on-one interview after group interviews. I’m a naturally quiet person and I’m great one on one and in groups of people I know even, but I just don’t succeed when my personality/voice is competing against other candidates. And I hate the pressure I feel to talk over people or be forceful in my answers and I hate watching other people do the same. And I also feel like the white man confidence thing is an asset in those interviews I’ll just never have, even though I have no idea if data bears that out.

      My strategy is obviously a bad one since it’s never worked, but I always just go in saying that I won’t be the person who gets ultra competitive or loud. I’ll contribute when I have something to contribute and won’t compare my performance to others around me.

      1. Turkletina*

        Ooh, I didn’t think about that. I got really lucky in that the other candidates were respectful and took turns, and the interviewers were clear about the order in which they wanted us to answer the questions. I wouldn’t be able to handle someone talking over me in an interview.

    2. Can't Sit Still*

      I’ve had one group interview and it was a surprise. It did not go well. I did appreciate being able to hear the other candidate’s responses. I got pretty outrageous and absurd towards the end, because it was a veritable sea of red flags, and I was definitely not interested in the job at that point, so that was fun. At the very end, they gave us a form to fill out that asked us about the pros and cons of the job and told us to email them the responses and let them know if we were interested in the job. (I should have scanned the form and sent it to Alison for entertainment purposes.)

      This particular company was a small, family-owned business who needed to hire an “outsider” for the first time. They did have decent interview questions that required a distinct response from each candidate, so that was a point in their favor.

    3. Delta Delta*

      I’ve had a few group interviews recently. I always feel like I don’t know whose hand to shake first at the end. It feels odd. Not that it exactly answers your question, but I know I recently had one that seemed good and then I had no idea whose hand to shake at the end and I felt like I blew it. So, I just laughed it off and said something about how it was like we were all dancing. But it felt awkward.

    4. MegaMoose, Esq*

      Oh man, that does not sound fun. When you said “group interview” my first thought was one interviewee and multiple interviewers, which I have done many, many times. But multiple interviewees with one or more interviewers? Sounds like a nightmare. I don’t even know how I’d prepare for that.

  41. Nervous Accountant*

    I’m finally posting about this because this happened over the last few weeks and I didn’t want to jinx anything.

    So I had that coworker who had gotten aggressive with me and was just generally disrespectful and all around not a great person? Things were quiet after my boss talked to him (no one knows about the aggression incident).

    A while back, I asked my boss about something related to that CW–(so 2 of the metrics used to measure success is the number of returns completed and the turnaround time. This guy had the highest numbers and lowest hours = “success”, BUUUUUT he was also begging us to give him easy returns as well as dumping data entry work on interns). I asked my boss if he was aware, and he hadn’t been butttt then he said “don’t bug him, he gave his 2 weeks.”

    =O !!!

    But then? he said he had authorization to give a counteroffer. And he said he wasn’t sure if it was the right thing (my husband said I should have MYOB but I disagree). and i said hell naw. Actually no I didn’t say that, I just listed the reasons why I think a c/o is not a great idea and let him make the decision…

    His last day was supposed to be this Wednesday but he left on Friday, he only told a select few people and I found out the next day. My boss didn’t even know it was his last day until he was about to leave for the night at 8 PM.

    A couple of other random things happened since then too.
    Also, our workload increased exponentially this week, partly bc we’re down 1 person but also bc it’s our own internal deadline approaching and things historically get insanely busy at this time.

    53 days to go :-)

  42. officemgr*

    Any suggestions for inexpensive meeting snacks for about 20-30 people? We’ve done a dozen and a half bagels every week for years and everyone’s starting to get sick of them. The tricky part is our budget—about $20-$40—doesn’t let me get too creative. (Pizza is about $70, for example.) I’ve gotten fruit platters and muffins from a grocery store before, but I would love suggestions for other options as well!

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Can you order individually wrapped items on Amazon (or similar) in bulk? I’m picturing little bags of trail mix or pretzels, those bags of assorted Hershey’s chocolates, Nature’s Valley granola bars.

      1. FN2187*

        This is pretty much what I do when ordering snacks for meetings. That, or I pick up a variety box of chips while on a Costco run.

    2. Emilia Bedelia*

      Veggies and dip? Crackers and cheese/cold cuts? Instead of getting the premade trays, get the components separately and DIY it. You could probably even get the precut vegetable bags/precut cheeses and you’d still come out ahead.

      Nachos (tortilla chips, salsa, queso dip, sour cream, cheese, jalapenos, lettuce, etc) are pretty popular at my office. Granola, fruit, and yogurt also makes an appearance sometimes.

      1. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

        Even just tortilla chips + salsa/queso/sour cream (Guacamole if you can swing it). Go for fresh salsa if you can, or fresher/ish (try to avoid the jars sold in chips aisle). Every office I’ve been in people seem to go nuts for tortilla chips + a bowl salsa + a bowl of guac.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      Fruit and veggie platters are great because almost anyone can eat them, and they’re usually pretty fresh and tasty! I’d avoid bagels and muffins, especially if you have staff who are vegan and/or gluten-free.

    4. emma*

      Domino’s is super cheap– they have a $6/pizza deal for medium pizzas if you order at least 2. I’m loving some of the suggestions below! There’s also icecream + toppings (big tub) or hummus and pita chips/veggies.

    5. jm*

      -Cheese cubes and crackers
      -Chips and salsa
      – Hummus, pita and veggies
      – Maybe individually-wrapped ice cream bars in the summer? The kind they sell 6 or 12 to a box at the grocery store

    6. INeedANap*

      If you don’t mind doing a little extra work, getting those big industrial size blocks of cheese and slicing them with some crackers and throwing a few big bunches of grapes in the middle makes a nice looking platter for about $30.

    7. Rat in the Sugar*

      Hmmmm… would other types of pastry be okay? Panera’s has a big pastry ring that has different flavors in it.

      Otherwise you might try hitting up the grocery store for platters… they usually have several different choices. One veggie tray and one tray of crackers, cheese, and sausage should satisfy most palates, I would think.

    8. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      How about some cookies or brownies from the bakery section of your grocery store and make a mixed try of them? Sometimes when you by a bulk of them they are cheaper. We’ve done that for some of our meetings.

    9. Consuela Schlepkiss*

      I have a side hustle working for a grocery delivery service as an in-store shopper. Some of our orders are for businesses prepping for meetings.

      From what I have seen, at the low end of your price range, for that many people, I would budget 3 bags of chips (tortilla, pretzel, and one other); salsa or pico de gallo and guac; and baby carrots. As you go up in budget, you can add a selection of granola or cereal bars (including a small number that are gluten-free), pre-sliced apples or grapes, cheese cubes, and also get a 2- or 3-lb. bag of assorted bite-sized candies.

      If you get cheese cubes, there’s always the deli in the store, or Kraft and some store brands are selling cheese cubed, as well, which might save a bit of money. Just put them into another container to serve.

  43. Mike*

    Kicked butt in my interview on Tuesday I posted about last week. Very little IMO I could have done better.

    Post interview follow up was sent, and they are still interviewing so no news yet.

    The waiting game sucks, but I’m staying positive.

  44. job hunting*

    YOU GUYS. I have an offer – that I actually want to take! They really want me to accept, I’m negotiating for a bit more money, and they are huge on teamwork and learning/growing together.

    I adore my coworkers here… so giving notice will be hard. But there is an end in sight – thank you all for your much appreciated advice and support.

  45. Cruciatus*

    I still haven’t told my supervisor I’m interviewing in another department next week. I know I probably should, but my gut is telling me it’s not a good idea. I looked in the handbook and didn’t see anything saying protocol one way or the other. Every time I even think about it, something unusual comes up that needs attention right then. But I should probably rip this bandage off and hope to hell it won’t be used against me in any way. Anyone have a good, simple script for just saying it? I don’t want her to think I’m going to shirk my duties if I do/don’t get it. I’m going to continue to do my best either way.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Yes, you have to do it, and as soon as possible! If your boss hears about it from someone else, you have a problem.

      Keep the conversation focused on what you want out of the new department, and then it’s not about things your boss can take personally (if your boss is the type for that). You’re not “doing something to” your boss — you’re exploring ways to grow within your organization.

  46. Emilia Bedelia*

    One of my friends told me a story about a workplace issue that he had this week, and I’m curious what the wise commentariat here have to say.

    My friend works at a teapot factory. The teapot glazing machine has to be purged daily, or else it clogs. My friend is responsible for purging the machine during the week, but his boss (the owner of the company) does it on weekends.
    Apparently, the glazing machine clogged over the weekend (which is a big expensive mistake). When my friend asked about what happened, his boss told him that it was my friend’s fault that the machine clogged, because he put in the wrong glaze. It turns out that the boss did not actually purge the machine, and just lied and blamed it on my friend about it to cover up his own mistake.

    In addition to this incident, my friends’ boss is racially prejudiced against him and favors his other coworkers, and is just generally a not nice person to work for. If that wasn’t enough, his wife is the person responsible for HR (surprisingly enough, company morale is amazingly low :) ). My friend’s reaction to all this was “If I blatantly lied about a mistake to my boss, I would be fired. He shouldn’t be able to do that to me” and he’s actively job searching now, so that’s the good news!

    My first thought was obviously “your boss sucks, he isn’t going to change, get a new job”, but I’m curious how everyone would handle this in the meantime. In the interest of self respect/not taking any nonsense/clearing one’s name (I don’t think anything can save this job at this point- it’s all about the principle of the thing) what would you say to a boss that did this to you?

    1. Graciosa*

      My last date will be [Date].

      (There’s no point in saying anything further – the boss is not going to get it.)

    2. SophieChotek*

      Is there any way to prove that the boss lied about purging the machine? (And oh man, it’s awful that the wife is in charge of HR!)

      Otherwise yeah…this might be one of those…new job time.

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        To be honest, I’m not really sure of the details.

        It’s a lost cause, I agree. The idealistic side of me is mad on my friend’s behalf because it is Wrong, but the practical side of me says that getting a new and better job is the best revenge.

        Anyway, enjoy my friend’s ridiculous boss story of the week! :)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      He can try to salvage it, I have in similar situations but all he has done is buy himself a little more time. And I do mean “little”.

      Basically what I did was don this very serious, business-like attitude, no cussing, no raising of the voice.
      Me: “oh, the machine clogged over the weekend? I am sorry to hear that.”
      Boss: “Well it is your fault.”
      Me: “Well, usually when it clogs that means it was not purged. Purging is necessary because the flaps and gaps fill up with glaze which hardens. Hardening time is about 5 hours after initial use. I purged on Friday so I know the flaps and gaps were clean when I left. Since the hardening time is 5 hours that means the glaze was applied 5 hours before the clog occurred. What time did you say the clog occurred?”

      Here the technique is to ignore the accusation entirely and go into a technical explanation of what happened and why. In my example here, I am hoping to all heck that the clog happened 5 hours into his shift. Probably to protect myself, I would preface the whole comment by saying, “What time did this clog happen?” When the boss indicated hour number 6, I would know I was going to win this round and pay for my win dearly later on.

      Yes, you have to think on your feet and you have to think fn fast. But if he is constantly in “self-protection mode” then he is probably used to thinking fast.

  47. Me*

    Day 106 of job search. I’m still invisible to anything I really want to do. :\ I keep getting calls from very low-paying receptionist jobs so I’m not applying to those anymore (dude, don’t call me; I only put that down to satisfy UI). I feel like I will NEVER get out of this admin trap. I’ve gone as far as I can go with those kinds of jobs because of the stupid dyscalculia.

    I interviewed for a job that would be project stuff at a manufacturer, so I would have to read blueprints, etc. and it’s a ton of data work. He fixed on the editing / proofreading stuff, but I think he’s thinking in terms of data matching more than actual DOCUMENTS. I’m a word person, not a numbers person. I literally asked him numerous questions and could not figure out what the hell he wanted. Even though I could learn a lot about project management, my visceral response to this is to run like the wind. It was just such a WEIRD interview.

    Plus, he made me take a stupid general knowledge test (on which I had to skip every single math question–we did discuss my LD because I’m not trying to hide it anymore). But the job pays $14 an hour to start, and that is literally the best I can do here (:P). I was making $18 when I left Exjob and that is really out of the norm for most office jobs here unless you’re a manager or an accountant. I don’t WANT to work forever in this industry (manufacturing), and I think he’s thinking I want to. BUT I DO NOT.

    And I think he’s vastly overestimating my knowledge of it. He’s basing it on me working at Factory Job for six years, but I was the receptionist. I did not do any work with CAD or specs or anything. I basically answered the phone, shipped samples, and filed stuff.

    I could work for a while and then bail, which is basically what I would do with any job I take here–as soon as I can get out, I’m out. IF that ever happens. (Dear Universe Make. It. Happen. K Thx Bai)

    If the universe is playing a joke on me, I’d rather not, thanks. Let’s just call it a day. If not, I need to f*cking SEE SOMETHING. Right now I’m really trying to focus on the manifestation of what I want (I also wrote everything down that I asked for as though it’s already happened). But it’s f*cking hard not to sink into despair. Rawr!

    1. SeekingBetter*

      Despite the fact that it’s not a dream job by far, why not take it for now and keep applying? I’m sorry to hear about your dyscalculia :(

    2. Kj*

      As a dygraphic lady, I get it. Sometimes employers just don’t get that I can not just ‘write well’ for the day. It isn’t really about effort. I might be able to fake it for a sentence or two, but long term I just cannot write neatly. It sucks, especially since people tend to assume my handwriting means I am stupid. I don’t have any words of wisdom sadly. Just heaps of empathy and positive thoughts.

  48. Freshguy*

    Interview questions/red flags to help weed out micromanagers needed!

    I am part of the interview team in finding a replacement for our ex-manager. And our department would reeeeally like this person to not be another micromanager.

    Any ideas for questions I could ask? Or any red flags in the interviewee’s answers/demeanour to watch out for? Thanks! :)

    1. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

      Eagerly waiting on responses to this! I do not do well with micromanagers and would love to incorporate/keep in mind these suggestions during my next job search.

    2. Newby*

      Why not ask them to describe their management style? Micromanagers would probably say that they are hands-on and involved. You could also ask how they handle delegating important tasks or pose a scenerio that ex-manager did not handle well and ask them how they would handle it.

    3. Lily Rowan*

      Honestly, you can just ask someone to describe their management style. Then you need to listen really hard! I’m sure everyone says they aren’t a micromanager, but some people would describe themselves as more “hands on” or “engaged in the details” or something.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      What makes the difference between a good employee and an excellent employee?

      How long was the last person in this position?

      What is the plan for employee development/future training?

      What does your team excel at?

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The problem with asking people to describe their management style is that most suck at describing it accurately. I’m going to turn this into a post next week if that’s okay with you!

      1. Freshguy*

        That would be fantastic! The manager’s role does require a very strong leader, but we also have an experienced team that knows what it’s doing, so we’d rather not be under a micromanager’s rule… again.

        Anything to help us avoid it this go around would be greatly appreciated :)

    6. FishCakesHurrah*

      Hmm. Well the last time I was interviewed by a micromanager she had literally taken a red pen to my resume.

      Micromanagers don’t often think they’re doing anything unusual. You could ask how involved they like to be in the projects they delegate to their reports? But that question is pretty obvious in its intentions.

      1. Windchime*

        Yeah, my previous manager before this one liked to proclaim, “I’m not a micromanager; I’ve never been a micromanager.”

        She was the WORST micromanager in the world. I got called into her office for making eye contact with a coworker in a meeting (“Why did you keep looking at Tom!?” “Uh, because every time he would cross his legs he would kick my chair.”) Another coworker got written up for dropping his pencil on the table in exasperation. Not throwing — dropping. She called it an “outburst”.

        I am so glad to be out of there.

    7. Just say NO to micro mangers!*

      One question: Do the people in your group work for you, or with you? Their answer will tell you volumes about their management style…

  49. Lady Blerd*

    I voluntarily cancelled my day off because of a planned activity but our freakishly mild weather got rid of most of the snow so IT was cancelled. And then IT decided to push an update that has eliminated the MS Office software so I can’t do half of my work. Swell.

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      What program? Be terrified, but also excited. Grad school was one of the best periods of my life.

      1. Justme*

        HR. It will be part time since I work full time (at a university, and get tuition reduction as a benefit) and am a single parent. I think it will take me 3.5 years to complete the program. And it’s something that I can use to leverage for a higher paying position here, or move to another sector.

    2. Silver Radicand*

      Congrats! Everyone at grad school is terrified at some point or another. But you got in, so obviously they thought you should be able to make it! Don’t let imposter syndrome get you. It sucks, been there, done that. And if you decide that you actually don’t want to get a job that requires grad school, dump it and try something different.

    3. anonamasaurus*

      Congratulations. I’m almost through my first year of a low-residency program while working FT. It’s hard, but you can totally do it!

      1. Justme*

        I’ve been taking undergrad classes to get myself back in the “going to school” mindset so I hope it isn’t too hard an adjustment. I work in the same building as my professors so it shouldn’t be so bad.

  50. FN2187*

    It looks like I could potentially be out of work for six weeks between the end of my contract and starting grad school this summer. Any ideas on what kind of work one could do during that time? I’m a terrible server, so restaurants are not a possibility.

    1. Justme*

      Retail. It can be hellish, I know. I worked in retail for many many years. But they may hire you for the short period of time as long as you are upfront about it. Plus, you can leverage it for some winter seasonal work as well.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      Babysitting/nanny gigs would be great, and in high demand in the summer! (If you like kids, of course) Also consider housesitting/pet-sitting. You could also look into temp agencies.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Register with a temp agency. You can probably pick up a couple of short term gigs covering for vacations and whatnot.

      1. Leslie Knope*

        I definitely second this. I used a temp agency during a break between schooling and another job. My gig that was supposed to last a few days turned into the full time period that I needed! They usually pay well and are interesting.

    4. Rob Lowe can't read*

      Summer camp or summer school? That would be dependent on your interest in/comfort with interacting with children, obviously. I was an instructional aide at a few summer school programs before I got my teaching license and it was usually pretty easy, although pay could certainly vary.

    5. FN2187*

      I currently work with children, and it’s…not my favorite thing. I think temp agencies are looking like the way to go.

      I am trying to workout an earlier last day with my employer. Though I am under contract, either party can terminate employment at any time. If I can leave earlier, I can get a full-time student job for the summer at my university. My employer is being fairly wishy-washy about this whole thing, and I don’t want to be a total jerk and just up and leave. But I may have to.

      1. Letters*

        Go for the student job if you feel like that’s a strong possibility. My wife’s had some experience with temp agencies, and they can take a while to find postings sometimes, so it’d be risky to completely rely on them.

      2. zora*

        Temp work is great for this kind of thing. Register with multiple agencies, and you have a better chance of getting work quickly. And the bonus is you can be honest with them about how long you are around, and they can find you gigs that fit your timeline.

        And if you have experience in food service, you can probably quickly get work with a catering company. I found it great for picking up cash quickly, but it’s way simpler than waiting tables.

  51. Anon for This*

    My sister is quitting her job to start a completely commissions based sales role. She has no sales experience and is the main breadwinner. I’m nervous for her but understand it’s her life. Does anyone have any success stories they can share? Does anyone have tips for managing finances in this situation (the product isn’t seasonal but the best sales happen in the spring/summer according to the company)? Tips for what the signs are that it might not work out?

      1. Letters*

        I’d glassdoor it if it were my sibling — whether it’s an MLM for sure or not, I would be EXTREMELY nervous to take a position like this one that’s completely commissions based, especially for someone just starting out. I’ve heard horror stories about magazine / newspaper roles of this type. There are a lot of really good resources for sales classes on audiobook; I’d actually recommend doing that as opposed to just reading something, because for a lot of people that might help it “stick” better. But mostly she needs to understand that this isn’t something you can just learn “on the job;” if it’s something that she has time before she starts, she needs to start learning on her own, NOW, and not rely on the company to provide. Most companies with sales roles don’t train for selling.

  52. R*

    I’m looking for advice on how people manage sitting down all day in front of a screen. I do math modeling and programming, so all aspects of the work require a computer. But I’m finding the inactivity/sitting in a cubicle all day is driving me nuts! My current position discourages working remotely or in other locations besides my cube. I do like my work but I’m finding myself wishing I’d gone into a more active field. People in similar situations, please share tips!

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      What about a “convertible” standing desk? You can get a riser to go on top of a regular desk, many of which will adjust up and down between standing and sitting heights. When you stand it’s easier to fidget, and I don’t get that feeling like I’m going to doze off in the afternoon.

      1. Amber T*

        Ditto to the standing desk! My company purchased Varidesks for anyone that requested them and it’s been a life changer. But before that, we were stacking binders and books under our computers and keyboards (most of us don’t sit with clients in our office – the few people who do requested standing desks and all of a sudden we all had them).

        I also have a FitBit that buzzes on my wrist if I don’t take 250 steps in an hour. It’s a great reminder to get up and move if you haven’t done so in a while.

      2. emma*

        We have this kind, from just stand [dot] org, that attaches to your regular desk, and adjusts easily. I’m not as good at standing, but other folks love it.

      3. SophieChotek*

        Ditto. I totally want to invest in one of those convertible desks. I don’t have one right now, but the coffee shops near my house all have tall tables, so sometimes for a break I go over there instead and stand.

      4. writelhd*

        Use lunch break to go exercise. Either go walk around, at a nearby park, or heck even the parking lot. Sometimes, lunch break non-withstanding, I grab a coworker and say “hey lets go walk around the parking lot” for 10 minutes and talk about something that’s bugging me with work and it can result in new perspective and problem solving. Sometimes, I skip lunch break (just eat at my desk) one day to take a two hour lunch the next day and go to the climbing gym. We have showers here, so that helps, but a lot of gyms probably have showers there too. The thing is, breaking up the routine is a mental break too that often results in thinking better, being more productive, being less grouchy.

    2. Chickaletta*

      Most people don’t like sitting in front of a screen all day, so you’re not alone in this at all. Take breaks to visit a coffee shop, get a snack from the breakroom, etc., eat lunch somewhere else than your desk, if you need to talk to someone, occasionally walk over to their desk instead of emailing (do this with discretion though, you don’t want it to get to the point where you annoy the other person). If you have a choice, opt for a desk near a window. Other than that, stay active outside of work – keep screen time at home to a minimum. Get outside, get exercise. For me, it was easier to sit at a desk throughout the day after doing a two mile run in the morning before work.

    3. Emi.*

      I also do math modeling and programming (in R!) and I find it helps to take short breaks and walk, even if it’s just down the hall to the bathroom. I have to go down the hall to get hot water for tea, as well, and to get things from the printer. Can you build short trips into your day?

      1. JustaTech*

        Yes, this! I found I managed to get in a lot more little walks down the hall when I was drinking tons of water (a straw helps so much). First, I need water. Then I need to go to the bathroom. Then I need more water. Repeat. Also, you might consider setting an alarm on your phone or watch every hour-ish to remind you to move around.

    4. nom de anon*

      Is there anything you can do to add more movement?

      What about a yoga ball (or yoga ball chair) and/or a balance board for when you’re standing? I find that bouncing and balancing is enough for me to get the fidgets out, and I have a regular desk chair and standing mat for when I don’t feel like wobbling around. These are very popular in my cube farm, though the office vibe here is also super casual.

      Also, I know you said that you use a computer basically all the time, but is there any element of brainstorming or “drafting on paper” type tasks? If so, could you try using whiteboard? I find that writing on whiteboards is more physically active and engaging, plus I like the different perspective it gives me, and it’s a break from staring at a screen. I often use a small conference room, but if you’re tied to your cube is there enough space to add one to a cube wall?

      Finally, actually getting out and moving makes a huge difference for me. Where I work, we’re encouraged to go on walks during our breaks (big worksite wellness push around here). For me, even 5 minutes outside makes a difference, and it makes the break feel more like real time away from work.

    5. Whats In A Name*

      In addition to adding activity can you add a radio or other background noise if the silence/sitting is part of the issue. I sit all day and find this helps me a TON.

    6. Princess Carolyn*

      In addition to getting up and moving around whenever I can, I will sometimes find an excuse to handwrite something just to get my eyes away from the screen. In my case, that’s usually my to-do list, plus any random ideas that come to my head, the occasional diagram, etc. Even if I end up transferring that info onto a computer later.

      Also, if a lot of your job involves watching something on a screen (rather than actively typing or clicking), invest in some fidget putty or other toys you can mess with while you do that.

    7. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      I try to take a quick lap around the inside of the building twice an hour to make sure I am up and moving

    8. Leslie Knope*

      I go on walks during my lunch hour. Even just breaks to walk outside for a few minutes help me. I have a desk fan which helps me control my environment a little bit better. I recently redecorated my cube so I actually like looking at things in here. I clean it every Friday (wipe down the desk, organize paper) which helps me enjoy the space. I have a foot rest that I put my feet on. I also will write things by hand often look away from the screen. I also am an avid audiobook listener and will do that during more mindless tasks I’m performing or while on my walks.

    9. Windchime*

      I have an adjustable thing that holds my monitors and keyboard so I can raise it up and stand periodically. I also make sure to get out and walk at lunchtime, and try to take a break and walk to Starbucks in the morning. I drink a lot of water, so there are trips to the bathroom.

      Sitting all day is really hard on the body and my back is suffering.

  53. Amber T*

    Someone in my hallway has decided to bathe in their cologne. I am not amused. My office door is closed (semi frowned upon in my office), but I’ve already let me boss know why he’s cool with it (he’s not the perp). Might be in need of a gas mask. Please send help.

    (Please don’t overscent yourself at work. Signed – every person with a scent intolerance.)

    1. Amber Rose*

      Last year someone attempted to cover the odor of the power tools they were using by flooding the building with maple scented “air freshener.” At first it was like, everything smells a bit like pancakes, whatever. But then, then it smelled like we were being smothered in pancakes. And I started to feel like someone was actually trying to shove pancakes up my nose. The smell increased in power at a steady rate until I was starting to hallucinate pancakes.

      In other words, I feel your pain. Breathe through your mouth as much as possible. :(

    2. Not So NewReader*

      You could try putting out a bowl of vinegar near you. Vinegar can tend to absorb chemical smells.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      We had someone at OldExjob who drowned himself in cologne. One time me and the rather blunt facilities manager were complaining about it in FM’s office, and FM said sarcastically, “Hi, I’m Bob! I stink like a French whore!”

      Despite the un-PC nature of the mimicry, it took me over an hour to stop giggling.

    4. urban teacher*

      I am really sensitive to patchouli and think that if someone can wear it especially in close quarters than I should be able to throw up on them when my migraine hits.

  54. Sibley*

    Every single project I’m working on at work is hard, complex, and a pain the @ss. Also, high profile. I’m working with the manager way more than usual because crap is going over my pay grade so much. There’s one project where I’m basically out of it and it’s gone to the manager and VP!

    I want, just for once, a nice, easy project. The last year has been nonstop. Just one easy one…

    1. Lucy Westenra*

      I’m sorry. Remember to unplug from work every so often–reserve a weekend for just relaxing and socializing and catching up on your Netflix queue. It helps get through the tough days.

      1. Sibley*

        I’m actually working from home today! and don’t work weekends hardly ever, which is very nice.

        The even better part – something that was going smoothly has hit a bump. My poor manager – she’ll get pulled into this one too, though hopefully it won’t be as bad. And we’ve got more time.

    2. periwinkle*

      Bah, let Fergus handle the easy projects. The crazy hard projects are more fun! Or so I keep telling myself, like crooning a reassuring lullaby in the face of fanged teddy bears lurking under the bed.

      (actually, they *are* way more fun than the easily-defined responsibilities on my official job description)

  55. AdAgencyChick*

    Been meaning to poll the group on this for a while: What’s a situation from early in your career where you’d have stood up for yourself if you’d known better?

    I’ll start: When I was in high school and worked retail, I was super scrupulous about my cash register but one day I was counting up at the end of the night and I was $20 short. I was distressed as hell, because I knew I hadn’t stolen it or miscounted.

    The store manager decided to solve the problem by making the three people who had touched the register that day (me, another floor worker, and an assistant manager) each contribute 1/3 of the $20. The store manager said she was pretty sure she knew what happened, but that this was the only fair way to resolve the problem. So I was out money — I realize less than 7 bucks, but that was more than an hour’s pay for me at the time and I was PISSED. But since I didn’t have the manager’s support, I didn’t know what else I could do.

    If I had that to do over again, I’d have refused to pay, even to the point of quitting over it. My manager knew I was conscientious and a hard worker, and I don’t think she’d have wanted to lose me (or if she had, I could have applied somewhere else, since people still shopped at malls in the ’90s and there were plenty of stores hiring).

    A while later I heard that the assistant manager who had been one of the three to cough up the money was fired for credit card fraud. Grrrrr.

    1. FN2187*

      While in college, I worked at the food court as a cashier. One day, my register came up $8 short. The managers accused me of stealing it — which, of course, I did not. They tried to force me to sign a disciplinary form admitting to the theft, but I refused. I quit that job and transferred to another position on campus soon thereafter. I later found out that the finance division had lost the $8, just like I had suspected.

      However, my new manager told me that former manager had called me “untrustworthy” and a “potential thief.” I sincerely regret not pushing back against that. Whether or not it was illegal, it was still a crappy thing to do.

    2. Amber T*

      My first job was a mess – lots of management issues. I was fresh out of college so despite my coworkers constantly telling me ‘this isn’t how a normal job works’ (as far as corporate’s ridiculous interference), I just assumed that all adults had their ducks in a row and this was completely normal. Bills (supposed to be handled my corporate) were never paid, rape jokes were made on conference calls (by someone in corporate, I don’t remember his title but he was HIGH UP THE CHAIN), I was “trained” to make “collection calls” in a way that’s almost certainly illegal in my state. When a coworker in my office killed himself, I quit without a job lined up but still gave the 4 weeks notice. In my “exit interview” (why did you quit???) with corporate, they kept pushing my coworker’s ‘unfortunate passing’ as the reason I was leaving. I remember mentally screaming in my head all sorts of things about how the company was run, how so many people in corporate were not good managers (because hey, let’s make rape jokes! and other awful things), but I just sat there and nodded. On the one hand, what I *wanted* to say wasn’t appropriate either, but I part of me feels like I should have stood up for myself and my coworkers more. I’m shocked that company is still running.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Something tells me they wouldn’t have listened if you’d spoken your mind in the exit interview.

        1. Amber T*

          They wouldn’t have – they had their heads so far up their own butts that they would have retained nothing. It’s a combo feeling of wistfulness that I should have tried anyway and living out a great “F you, awful job!” fantasy.

      2. literateliz*

        “I just assumed that all adults had their ducks in a row and this was completely normal” – this is exactly what happened at my mess of a first office job. (Although that said, it sounds like your old company puts mine to shame!)

        I was in college and took a so-called “work-study” position working for my then-boyfriend’s crazy mother. I suppose if put in that position now I wouldn’t stand up for myself so much as I would RUN LIKE THE WIND. She told me to hide our relationship and say that I found the job through an ad, because she’d pulled strings to get an assistant position created in her office and Jane was jealous because she really needed an assistant. (This sets off all my drama alarm bells now and made me uncomfortable even then, but like, an adult told me to do it so it must be fine, right? Sigh, I was so naive.) This lasted for about a day before her other son (who also worked there) rocked up and loudly asked if I was coming to Thanksgiving again this year, because of course, if you’re going to pull some shady ninja-spy shit with your new employee, you’re not going to bother mentioning it to your son, so that your employee looks like an ass in front of her new coworkers. Facepalm.

        Then she sued the company, told everyone she was out on medical leave (yeah, the lying was a pattern), and left me alone in the office for about a month fielding awkward calls from people who were genuinely concerned about her well-being. By this point I was the HR contact person for about 30 interns (in hindsight…WTF? I guess that would have been reasonable if I’d had any supervision whatsoever) who were nearing the end of their summer internships and needing flights booked home and stuff, but since my boss had bailed and no one else really knew what I was doing there, I was let go and had to quickly offload that duty onto someone else in HR. I wish I had advocated better for the interns, if not myself. Definitely had the awkward exit interview with the nodding and the non-answers. Now I chalk it up to a learning experience, but damn.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      My first job was as a lifeguard at the local pool. A few of my managers were very immature young adults who loved tormenting me and the other shy kids. I wish I’d stood up to them! They walked all over me: played pranks, told me wrong information, pushed me in the pool, etc.

      Fortunately management changed a lot over the course of my time there. By the time I left, I loved my managers and was one of the most respected employees there.

    4. Ell*

      Similar story about coughing up my own $$. I managed a budget that included money for work vehicle parking, maintenance etc. Also lived in a city where parking was really really really hard, and getting parking tickets was a fact of life.

      I got ONE ticket on a work vehicle the entire time I worked there, and it was early in the morning before I got to work when they normally didn’t ticket and my boss refused to let me take money of my work vehicle budget to pay for it, and I had way underspent that budget for the quarter so the money was just sitting there. My boss’ contention is that I should’ve woken up early to pay for parking remotely, even when I was already working 70 hours a week for that job.

      I pushed back a little but ended up giving up and just paying the ticket out of pocket. Still annoyed at myself.

    5. Kowalski! Options!*

      Some twenty-some odd years ago, I was working for a media outlet that, quite often, invited movers and shakers in to speak to the senior editorial staff. I had two bosses, and most of the VIP handling fell to the younger of the two bosses, a 29-year-old (six months younger than me) who, to this day, still reminds me of Miles from “Murphy Brown”. One day, the VIPs happened to be the C-suite denizens of a major bank, and as I took their coats and went to hang them up, the CEO of the bank (who had a bit of a reputation as a man-about-town) made some sort of comment that had the other men (except my co-boss) chuckling behind my back like Beavis and Butthead. And when a bunch of forty-something guys do that, you know they’re not laughing about baseball scores. I looked at my boss, hoping he’d stand up for me. Nothing. Just kept staring at the ground while these guys chuckled and checked me out, up and down. They filed out. I went to the bathroom and cried tears of rage at the way I’d been sexually harassed without a manager standing up for me.
      *These days*, I know what to do: Just look the perp dead in the eye, neutral look on my face, and say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that – could you repeat that a bit louder, please?” (And then march right down to the HR department and report the incident.) One of those classic incidents where life gives you the test first, and the lesson, later.

      1. Letters*

        I like that line — “where life gives you the test first and the lesson later.” Absolutely the case.

    6. Emi.*

      Not exactly my career, but looking back on my highschool babysitting work, I wish I’d been more assertive about saying “Sorry, ma’am, I still have schoolwork to do so I can’t stay to talk.” I babysat for lovely people, but my goodness some of them loved to chat.

      1. JustaTech*

        Oh how I wish I had pushed back harder about my babysitting. One time I sat for three children under 4 years old for ~7 hours, and then had to wait another hour after their dad got home before the mom got home so someone could drive me home without having to pack up all the kids. The mom was late because a blizzard was coming. I got home after midnight, I got $20 and I was all of 13.

      2. CheeryO*

        Ugh, babysitting. I got $5/hour from two neighbor families – one with two insanely hyper children, and one with three kids, including one with autism who I did not know how to handle at all. It was always way more trouble than it was worth. If I could go back, I would tell them “thanks but no thanks.”

    7. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

      Working at startup (first job out of school) that illegally classified me as an independent contractor. I honestly didn’t understand when I accepted the position, but as my role shifted (over the course of 2 years) it became more and more clear that I should not be an independent contractor. I overheard a manager joking about how much trouble could get them in. I was still too afraid to say anything because I didn’t think I could find anything else and out of some sort of misguided sense of loyalty.

      I finally spoke up because I was going to be kicked off my parent’s insurance coverage soon. I just asked about moving from independent contractor status to full-time employee. By the end of the week I was laid off. I was devastated and now that I understand the severity of the issue I realize I should have spoken up way sooner!

      Though I did get revenge. They didn’t think to revoke my email access until days later, so I went into my work email and forwarded myself dozens of emails detailing my work responsibilities from my boss and with praise from my boss. I applied for unemployment. They tried to fight it, but I was able to prove that my work should not have been classified as contract work, so I won. Apparently this triggered an audit, and within a year the company ceased operations. Owners eventually sold the company/content.

    8. KR*

      I had a manager at a coffee shop I worked at who was a complete d!CK. Not only was he a sex offender who was supervising underage women (not me, but he sexually harassed a teenaged co-worker and when she complained to the owner they fired her rather than admit they didn’t background check the guy!!!!), but he frequently messed up the schedule like forgetting to schedule a closer or only having one person on so that person was swamped and couldn’t take a break at all. If he forgot to schedule a closer he would guilt you the day of to take the shift. My then boyfriend (now husband) was away in military training for most of this so I usually stayed after when he asked for the money. He came home on leave and we had a special day planned and manager forgot to schedule a closer. No one else was willing to stay so he turned the pressure on me and I politely told him again and again that I had plans and couldn’t stay. He then got mad at me and when I became frustrated told me to stop acting like a brat (I was 19 or 20 years old at this point, not young at all in the realm of food service for context). That was one of the flags that made me realise this job was not worth it but I wish I had stood up for myself better at the time (I didn’t stay late but I wish I had addressed his disrespect). That and after he was fired because the teenagers parents threatened to sue, our next manager had no food safety practices at all and used low quality ingredients. Slowly business declined and the place went out of business soon after I left. Disgusting.

    9. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Two I can think of, both in high school:

      I worked under the table for a small business that provided pony rides at kids’ birthday parties and other events. It was a high-end, expensive service (one pony, one handler, one-on-one attention to the birthday girl or boy, etc. — not six sad ponies walking in circles at the petting zoo). I was a pony handler, and my daily schedule started with grooming and preparing a pony at the farm, doing 4 parties, then bringing the pony back to the farm. I was paid by the party, and not paid for any time before, after, or between parties. A few times, a party didn’t pay (this was before the internet; folks wrote checks that I was given after the party), and when that happened I wasn’t paid my share of the party cost.

      The other one was also horse-related. I very briefly worked at a ranch in a state park that provided trail rides. I had been hired to lead trail rides, but first had to go through a training period of unspeccified length working in the barn (grooming horses, mucking stalls, etc.). I wasn’t comfortable with how the horses were treated, and I walked off the job in the middle of a shift (and reported them) after 2 or 3 days. I never heard from them; it’s like they didn’t even notice that I had been there, left, or never got paid.

    10. Taylor Swift*

      In the very first interview I had for a “real” job out of college I got asked if my five year plan included getting married and having babies. I wish I’d had the nerve to walk out.

    11. Tris Prior*

      My first job was cashier at a fast food restaurant; I was 16. One of the cooks used to bring porn magazines to work and one day cornered me in the back, opened up a magazine and shoved a pretty explicit photo in my face. I told the (female) manager on duty and she just gently scolded him: “now, Fergus, you know that’s not a cool thing to do.” He wasn’t otherwise disciplined. I should’ve gone over her head and reported him for sexual harassment – or even told my parents – but I guess I was so shocked I didn’t think to?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Or gone to the police.
        It was not that long ago things like this just got an eye roll. He was counting on your shock and he was counting on the fact that nothing would happen to him.

    12. Effie*

      I had a part-time retail job in college and one day one of my managers asked me to go to Starbucks for her and she’d pay me back. She never did. It was $5-$7 which was about what I made in an hour, and I NEVER spent money in restaurants/coffeeshops/etc so it’s not even like I planned a Starbucks run and asked if anyone wanted anything. I really didn’t want to pay for her and I still wish that I’d said that I was unable to pay for her and she would have had to figure something else out.

      This, among other events in college, did teach me not to lend someone money unless I was willing to write it off. I do have awesome coworkers now and when we order lunch everyone pays the order-er back the same day (if someone doesn’t have cash handy they run out to the bank before they leave for the day).

    13. Toodie*

      I was working as an admin at a manufacturing company, answering to the materials manager. The product we made at the company used a component that had small stand-offs–think of the bumps on a Lego. There was a meeting to talk about how we could revamp those components to remove the bumps for a special project.

      I was the only woman in the room, of course, the admin taking notes. The men kept referring to the process that we would need to use to remove the bumps from the components as “cutting the tits off” them. And then sending sideways glances at me, I guess to see if they could get a rise out of me. I tried to stay neutral, kept taking notes, never told anyone about it until now.

      I wish I would’ve raised hell.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      Long ago, I worked at Golden Corral before they were a buffet. We had to wear these very short skirts, brown plaid shirts, and brown plaid kerchiefs. I mean so short you had to squat to pick something off the floor because you sure as hell couldn’t bend over. One day, I was walking past a table of men and this older dude grabbed me suddenly and pulled me onto his lap. I was busing and had an armful of nasty used plates. I managed to get away, but I wish I had dumped the heavy plates full of crap on his head. My boss probably would have fired me but that really sucked. I didn’t even say anything because I didn’t know what to say. :P Thinking about it later, I wished I had petitioned the company that the female employees be allowed to wear trousers like the men. It might not have made a difference with the sexual harassment, but I spilled lots of stuff on my bare legs, too.

      Also the time a SYSCO (food supply) vendor came up behind me (another food job) and massaged my shoulders, completely out of the blue and without saying anything. That one freaked me out because there was nobody at the restaurant but me and him. It happened while I was outside smoking, before I clocked in–I waited until someone else showed up before I went inside. I really wish I had said something to him, or at least to my boss. He never did it again, but luckily he didn’t come back while I was by myself.

      Now, of course, I just hit people who touch me inappropriately. Verbally, unless they don’t stop.

      1. Letters*

        Holy crap, that’s awful. I would have FREAKED, especially when I was younger. I wasn’t the type to strike out, but I probably would have screamed at the top of my lungs like a horror movie idol.

    15. Rusty Shackelford*

      I wouldn’t say this was early in my career, but it helped get me in my career. I had dropped out of college and had a clerical job at the school. My boss was an awful boss and an awful person, so I was relieved when she was promoted out of my office. But then she needed an admin, and she encouraged me to apply for the job. Told me it was mine if I wanted it, although it still had to be officially opened due to university policy. I decided the extra money would be worth working for her again, so I applied. And didn’t get it, because she decided to hire someone related to a person she wanted to suck up to instead. The person she hired was completely inept, and more than once, my now grandboss asked me to work overtime to re-do what her new admin had screwed up. I got paid for the hours, but I still wish I’d said “if you wanted me to do that job, you should have hired me to do that job.”

      But the silver lining is that I got so fed up, it pushed me to go back to school and graduate so I could get out of that place.

    16. Letters*

      Probably the worst one — that haunts me to this day — was when I was working a paid internship at a major tourist attraction. Interns were bussed between company housing & workplaces. On one of these trips, I was apparently taking too long to get off the bus (I’m short, the stairs were pretty steep) and someone behind me pushed me. I fell and sprained my ankle badly .. and everything went downhill from there.

      I was left to sob on the ground while people walked around me. Eventually I reached a manager on my phone, and they came and picked me up in a golf cart to drop me off at the company clinic, berating me for clumsiness & telling me that I “had better” be at work in the morning “or else.” He left me at the curb of the clinic and drove off — another patient had to help me inside. After I signed in, the clinic forgot I was there (!) until after the doctor left, and basically said “there’s nothing we can do for you, and we’re closing now, so leave.” By that point it had been about 3 hours since I’d fallen. They deigned to wheelchair me out to the curb where — again — they left me there to figure out how to get home.

      With family states away and no other intern owning a car, I had to hobble back to the bus stop unaided, and make it back to company housing on my own. When I called management the next morning to ask if I could be assigned a work position where I could at least sit on a stool, I was told this wasn’t possible, and I was expected to work my normal hours stocking merchandise.

      I called out for three days, and was written up and threatened with being kicked out of the program for missing work. I was told the only way to have the write-up removed was an x-ray proving it was broken — which it wasn’t, not that I could have afforded the medical care if it had been.

      At the time I was a broke college student with very little experience in the working world, and I was utterly devastated and thoroughly demoralized. I didn’t understand how anyone could ever succeed, if medical issues like this were held against them, and looking back I suspect that a lot of the aggression was deliberate. They knew how young and inexperienced all of us interns were, and they knew they’d be able to get away with it without us complaining.

      To this day I wish I’d stood up for myself — not for my own purposes, but to protect the interns that would follow me from treatment like this. Going back to work so soon absolutely damaged me; when I sprained my ankle the second time, the doctor confirmed that the earlier abuse made me more likely to sprain it in the future. While that’s relatively minor, what else are these poor kids being forced to deal with just because they’re afraid?

    17. Lucy Westenra*

      Job at kiosk at mall. Manager spoke iffy English, and what she did speak was heavily accented, and I don’t hear that well. Not to worry; her favorite method of communication was yelling, which is a universal language. She treated me like sh!t and took cash register mistakes out of my paycheck. I didn’t mind; after all, if I wanted the full amount, I should be more careful when I count the money. Also she made me use my personal phone for work, and after a while I felt like I got punched in the gut every time I heard the text alert tone, because it was usually her scolding me for coming up short.

      Fast forward to now: it is illegal to take mistakes out of someone’s paycheck, and I’m not even convinced that I was the one making the mistakes, since my last day she stood over my shoulder screaming while I counted the register, and then she counted it, and she messed up counting the quarters. How many other times had she messed up and knocked it off my paycheck? If I’d known better, I’d’ve read the situation better, told her where to shove it, and gotten a new job someplace better. But I was 16 and thought that all employers were abusive, and that it was just a matter of how much of which kind of abuse you were willing to put up with.

    18. AnonAnalyst*

      Another story about putting up my own money for a work expense. I was a key holder at a small business and somehow my key got lost — to this day, I have no idea what happened to it, but it was just gone from my key ring when I went to open the door one day. Never happened before with any other keys or since…

      This was in a pretty competitive industry and my manager was not sympathetic at all to anything human her employees did, so I completely freaked out. At the time, I was the only one besides the manager that had a key, and she was away at a client event for several days. So basically, no one could get in for 2-3 days without some other intervention. I called the manager to ask her if, by chance, someone else local had a key or if we should call a locksmith. She indicated that we should call a locksmith and just have the lock changed because no one else had a key. I was super apologetic and because I felt guilty, I said I would pay the locksmith and she could reimburse me when she returned.

      Well, in the few days between that conversation and her return to the office, she decided that she should not pay this business expense because it was my fault the key got lost. In the end, she generously offered to reimburse me for half of the cost (I know it was generous, because she made sure to tell me she was being generous by offering to pay for part of the expense). So all in I ended up being out about $100 to replace the lock at my place of business because my key (one of only two in existence, apparently) went missing.

      This, by the way, was also illegal because I was living in California at the time, where employers are required to reimburse employees for all expenses incurred on behalf of the business. Several people told me this, but I was only a year or two out of college and I still felt guilty so I felt like paying for part of it was the right thing to do. I would absolutely push back hard against something like this now.

    19. SharedDriveUser*

      While in college full-time, I worked retail for a national department store chain, assigned to women’s separates. I was the closer, responsible for the change till as well as the department register. 20 minutes after closing, having checked the dressing rooms and put away the last couple of blouses, I’m counting the $400 change drawer when a man grabbed my shoulder from behind. I screamed, rammed him with my elbow and grabbed the scissors. Turned out the guy on the floor behind me, clutching his abdomen, was the store detective, who was “checking for alertness”. He was later terminated; scuttlebutt had it that he was in the habit of grabbing young women from behind and copping a feel or two in the process. I found another job!

    20. Kate*

      Oh gosh. My entire first job. The manager was awful. He yelled and cussed at us (I was 15 and this was a restaurant). He also slept with many of the employees, which is bad enough as it is, but worse because he was in his mid 20s and the girls he slept with were teenagers. At the time, I didn’t realize it was something I should report. The girls were willing and interested, but of course that didnt make it ok. But at 15, I didn’t realize that even if it was “consensual” it really wasn’t because of the ages and power differential. These encounters happened on property, too, and he also gave these girls alcohol and smoked marajuana with them (and also the guys that worked there…I guess this made him “cool” in the eyes of a lot of the employees). I was not interested in any of that, so I was a bit of an outcast in that job (in hindsight, thank goodness!). The worst thing about it is that if the owner had known, he would have fired him. So if I had spoken up, it would have prevented it from happening as long as it did. Eventually, long after I left, someone did report him. He ended up getting fired, and was arrested for having sex with a minor (or someone under the age of consent…not sure what the actual charge was).
      That experience made me realize that I will have to really talk to my kids about what is ok once they are old enough to work. When you’re young, you feel like you have to do whatever your manager says, so I never even questioned his behavior.

  56. Be the Change*

    My little sister is my work HERO. Here are two badass work/school things she did:

    This week, someone in her department didn’t quite follow procedure, and “Wilma” in another department got her nose out of joint (rightly or wrongly doesn’t matter). At my sister’s department meeting, it was her supervisor, my sister, two junior men, and a junior woman. My sister’s supervisor, who is kind of a clod, said, “Just send Wilma some flowers and move on.” My sister said, instantly, clearly, and with no inflection, “If it had been Warren instead of Wilma, you never would have said that.” The room got very quiet for about 10 seconds which must have felt like forever. Later, the junior women who had *not* been in the meeting were talking about how awesome it was, so word got around!

    In college, she was in a chemistry class and the professor handed back an exam where no one had done well. The professor reamed them out, saying how “lazy and stupid” they were (and so on in this vein). My sister, who is not lazy or stupid, got up, stomped out of the room — having to cross right in front of him to do so — slammed the door, and went straight to the dean’s office and said, “This is what the professor said. It was offensive.” The professor had to issue a written apology.

    My sister is now a highly ranked person in her organization making a lot of money, with tons of responsibility. Like I said, my hero. Go forth and be appropriately badass!

    1. T3k*

      God, hate professors like that. I’m just glad I had ones that realized if everyone did poorly, then perhaps it isn’t the students but the test itself and they would make changes accordingly (even had one that would let students debate them over why they answered B over D and if they could prove it, they got the points back).

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        I had a fabulous professor who had written the textbook that he taught out of.

        The deal was, if we found a mistake in the book, the entire class would get an extra point on the test for that section. His reasoning was, there’s no one more motivated to read a textbook closely than students who are being tested on it- so we caught all the mistakes his editors missed.

      2. Newby*

        I had a professor who was so upset that no one did well on the test and blamed it on poor attendence (the lectures were recorded so attendance was optional). The problem was actually that one of the questions (out of five total questions) was so poorly worked that no one could agree on what it was actually trying to ask.

      1. Victoria, Please*

        Be the Change, your sister is my hero too! I work with faculty, and I don’t think she over-reacted at all. A professor ranting at students about being “stupid and lazy” goes way over all sorts of lines. A lot of professors *think* students are stupid and lazy (and they are for the vast majority completely wrong) but most of them have enough sense not to verbally abuse people.

        Plus, imagine an undergraduate woman with the chutzpah to do what she did. I’m in awe.

        1. JennyFair*

          If an entire class does badly on an exam, the students are not the problem. Blaming the students is piling wrongdoing on top of bad teaching, and she had every reason to complain.

      2. tigerStripes*

        I had a new teacher once who gave a bunch of hard working students a test that we all did terribly on because we had studied what he had discussed in class, and he tested us on something else. He had the grace to know that if all of us did that badly, it was on him. I’d have been furious if he blamed us for that test – I know I had studied and worked to do well on it.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Ha! Your sister rocks!!

      Re the professor–my favorite criminal justice instructor said if one or two of us did poorly on a test, he could assume we didn’t study. But if all of us did, then he could assume that he either didn’t make the material clear to us or didn’t write the test properly. Best instructor ever.

  57. Librarian Ish*

    I just found out the university I’m working at is no longer allowing our pride club to host meetings. It is a religious school but receives federal funding, so they are definitely doing something illegal. I’m a (closeted at work) queer person myself, and I don’t know how to support the club without risking my job. I don’t know what question to ask, I’m just…sigh.

    1. Jen*

      Any chance your uni had a good law program? Or you have friends connected to a law school in your province or state can they connect you with a prof with tenure who is LGBTQ who will fight it? I think you need an already visible aly who is used to and interested in this sort of public/educational thing and willing to back the students for free and publically because they are protected by tenure/thier LLB experience. Otherwise if you’re willing to share your location maybe we can help find a civil liberties group in your area who would help and be sensitive to keeping staff and students at risk from needing to out themselves.

  58. jm*

    My company’s board has once again approved the (dreaded by most) summer work schedule: 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday for all of June and July….with my 45 minute commute, I’ll have to wake up at 4:15, leave home by 6:00, drop kids off at day camp by 6:45, all to be at work by 7.

    My company thinks the summer schedule helps employees save money on gas (99.9% of us drive to work…but gas is only $2 a gallon here)….and thinks the summer schedule gives employees the chance to work another job on Friday (newsflash – we’re all too tired for that).

    The few people who love the summer schedule are the c-level folks who work super early to super late year-round. For the rest of us, in a 10 hour day, we probably waste at least 4 hours trying to stay awake….productivity definitely plummets.

      1. jm*

        Sadly, yes, it is mandatory. I requested last summer to work a typical 8 hour per day schedule, which would have been 32 hours per week, and then tack on an 8 hour vacation day each week to get 40 hours, but my request was denied….

        1. Angelinha*

          What if you had wanted to work 40 hours each week and not take the vacation day each week? I love when places offer this schedule as an optional perk (though when my company did it, I hated the long days, and decided not to do it the next summer) but requiring it seems awful. Sorry :(

          1. jm*

            Unfortunately, the building completely shuts down on Friday — no one can come in. So it’s 4/10s or find something else. I wish they were more flexible! I could see myself handling it better when I don’t have as many responsibilities in my personal life.

    1. Victoria, Please*

      We have a 4/10 summer schedule too (7 am – 6 pm). I loooaaathe it. I think it torches productivity by 40%. You stop being able to get things done at noon on Thursday instead of noon on Friday, so you lose a full business day. And, people futz from 7-9 and 4-6, so we’re losing another 16 hours a week.

    2. Murphy*

      Ugh, I worked at a place that did that, and I also had a long commute. I had no idea until after I’d accepted the job. (They were similarly strict about working hours not during the summer as well.) It was the worst.

      1. jm*

        I know, right? I’ve been here 5+ years now, but I remember being hired in February with no mention of working 4/10s, and then being shocked in April when the summer schedule was announced.

    3. Aims*

      Unpopular opinion it seems, but I wish I had that schedule in the summer! I am single and child-free which does make a difference, but would absolutely love to work 4/10 and have 3 day weekends throughout the summer months. Unfortunately I work in the unionized public sector and definitely do not have that option.

    4. ancolie*

      The few people who love the summer schedule are the c-level folks who work super early to super late year-round.

      They’re also the most likely to earn enough to have a summer home/cottage they can use for a long weekend every weekend. Also the most likely to either 1- assume everyone has a summer home or 2- just not care that no one else does.

    1. jm*

      2 truths and a lie (whatever it’s called) — good for groups of 15 or fewer people. Everyone goes around telling 2 factual things about themselves, and one, ahem, alternative fact. The group guesses which is the alternative fact.

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        I agree – we always do this one at my summer program orientation, and it’s really fun.

        Also +100 for the joke, I’m definitely telling my supervisor that we are rebranding it “Two Truths and an Alternative Fact.”

          1. Emi.*

            To clarify, I don’t think you should arrange your activities to suit my preferences, but I think a lot of people are really tired of low-level political criticism/humor surrounding us all the time. And I do think it’s unprofessional and makes for a bad impression and example.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I’m going to agree with this. I see the humor in it, but so many of us are so tired of this being everywhere and not being able to escape it, ever.

              1. another academic librarian*

                I’m a librarian. I literally cannot get away from “fake news” talk/jokes/etc. right now. I had a long conversation with a grad student today about research projects and realized afterwards that we had not said anything about “alternative facts,” even as a joke. And it was a welcome break.

  59. Death Rides a Pale Volvo*

    I am a finalist for a media relations position in Oregon! I go out and do my in-person interview next week! I’M SO EXCITED I COULD BURST…INTO SHOW TUNES!

    I’ve got to go by myself, though, without the husband traveling with me. I’m a nervous traveler/driver anyway so this has been fun dealing with the stress dreams. (Current favorite: I get hopelessly lost–in the airport. Oh, and I’m also trying to find my cats.)

    Anyone have any tips for living in the Portland, Oregon area? Any non-profit/college/education IT job tips for Husband? Again, AAAAAAH!

    (starts singing “Cabaret” off-key)

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      I have nothing to say except, as a hiker, beer nerd, enthusiastic cook/eater, tea drinker, and kayaker, Portland is one of the few cities I could live in outside of Colorado and be happy.

      Go to Ox Restaurant when you’re in Portland – amazing Argentinian-influenced live fire cooking, everything grilled or roasted over a wood fire.

    2. Actuarial Octagon*

      Lifelong Oregonian here. Congrats on the interview. Our airport is close to downtown with a tram connection so it makes for a fairly easy trip. As TNMBOCIS said, there are tons of outdoor things to do around the metro area plus lots of good eating and drinking.

      I’m not sure where you’re originally from but rental prices continue to increase here, inventory is low, and in many cases wages haven’t caught up so you’d be smart to do some research on that front before accepting an offer.

      Best of luck!

    3. Anons-y*

      Do you have any idea whereabouts the job is located? Housing is rough right now – high prices and low inventory. But if it’s possible to live in the outskirts our suburbs aren’t that bad and are often closer to the fun outdoors things.

      We are pretty polite drivers, sometimes to the point of causing more problems with people waiting for each other at stop lights and always slowing down to let someone in their lane. If someone lets you in, you gotta wave or they’re gonna think you’re an asshole/not from here. We hate california and washington license plates.

      We don’t pump our own gas. You’ll think it’s ridiculous until it’s pouring down rain and 38 degrees and then you’ll be so grateful to just roll down your window a couple inches to hand over your card.

      The food in Portland is phen-om-enal. We have everything, and you can find it all for cheap and good or expensive and good.

      We have income tax instead of sales tax, so if you’re not used to that just keep it in mind when calculating your take-home pay.

      1. Death Rides a Pale Volvo*

        The job is actually in McMinnville, which is outside of the city. Currently I live in remote, rural New England.

        Can you explain more about the income tax/sales tax thing?

        1. Life after Recruiting*

          I grew up 15 min away from McMinnville and it’s the most beautiful place ever. Farmland, wineries, small town feeling. It’s heavenly. Now I am 2 hours south but I still go up there every year.
          We don’t pay sales tax on items we purchase, instead we pay a state income tax on our salaries. You claim the same number of deductions that you would claim for your federal taxes. If you over pay, you will also get refunds on it.

    4. Franzia Spritzer*

      …also (when you see it you’ll know) it’s pronounced KOOCH, not couch like a sofa.

      I miss Portland so much, I went to school there after growing up in Seattle. It’s most definitely the land of my people.

    5. tigerStripes*

      It does rain and get overcast a LOT, which can be tough for some people. The area is beautiful though – all that rain makes for a pretty green environment.

  60. JK*

    I just had to turn down a job that I thought I would really like because the salary was ridiculously low. The posting had included a huge range ($40,000 between highest/lowest) and since I had a lot more experience than their minimum, and since the job has historically been filled by people with many years experience, I made the (incorrect) assumption that the starting salary would reflect that.

    The only mention of salary in the interview came at the end, when the main interviewer outlined the hiring process. She noted that she would have to work out the salary with HR based on the individual candidates experience, etc. In retrospect, I really should have pushed for more details on salary, but the whole interview was unusual and had me off-kilter a bit.

    In the end, I was offered the job at a salary of just $5,000 from the bottom of the range. It was about what I was making 15 years ago, when I had 2 years experience. When I told her what I currently make (which was still below the median of their range) she indicated that there was no way they could even match my current salary.

    What a waste of time, for all of us. The interview required a presentation, which took up a huge amount of my free time. Plus I feel bad that they spent a month contacting my references and working out an offer when we could have saved a lot of time by just telling me the salary up front. Why won’t employers just state the salary? So frustrating.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Yeesh. Seems like the first problem is their $40K pay band, if they’re insisting on hiring only someone who can start near the bottom of the band.

    2. Whats In A Name*

      Yikes! Its baffling to me when places post salary ranges they can’t even get close to. I mean I could understand if range posted was 50,000 – 90,000 and you were asking for $100,000…but if asking for $70,000 it seems like more open conversation would have been warranted.

      Usually, when I’ve been interviewer or interviewee we’ve been fairly closely aligned on salary especially when more than one interview (or a presentation!) was involved.

    3. krysb*

      It just irks the hell out of me that employers prefer good experience and skills (and as much as possible), but are unwilling to pay for experience and skill.

  61. Sarah*

    How can I get my team to actually evaluate themselves on their self-evaluations? They get their specific goals and projects and when their six month evaluation is due, I ask them to evaluate their performance in relation to their goals and just overall. I even give them examples. And I still get back:
    “I built chocolate teapots.
    I built white chocolate teapots.
    I placed the teapots in boxes.”

    1. SophieChotek*

      Not sure you have time for this and might seem a little school-isn. Can you send the evals back? Point out the examples again? It is worth your time to do that?

    2. Sibley*

      I’m one of the people who has to do self-evals. You haven’t trained them enough, both as a group and individually. If you want really good self-evals, it’s going to take a ton of time on your part to get there. also keep in mind that some people are going to hold themselves to a higher standard than you do – and it’ll show. I’ve had my manager specifically tell me the minimum rating I could give myself was the higher rating that I never gave myself.

      1. Sarah*

        Most of them won’t give themselves any rating though. Say they have a goal of “Produce 27 teapots with a Quality Control rating of 95% or higher.” When the question asks if they met this goal, they’ll respond “I built teapots.”

    3. Feathers McGraw*

      Can you improve your evaluation form? Ours asks you to list what skills you used or developed to meet each objective, what helped and what didn’t. If you just listed what you did it’d be incomplete.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Honestly, I don’t see a lot of point to self-evaluations. I would find it reasonable if they did not see it either. I could think I am the best worker in the universe, but if the boss does not think so then whatever I think is irrelevant.

      As far as setting goals, what are their choices in goals? I want to work up to placing ten teapots in boxes each day? Some jobs are goal-less, you do it then you go home. Repeat the process tomorrow. I have often felt that it is the boss who has the big picture so it is up to the boss to say what the goals are.

      My guess would be that the questions are meaningless to them. This could be because:

      They feel their answers are not heard.
      They see the same questions at each eval and feel they are answering the same questions that they have already answered.
      The eval does not relate to their job. Their job is mindless repetition or other description and does not lend itself well to the concept of goal setting/self-evaluating.
      They feel the questions are simplistic and do not allow for deeper discussion of actual problems.
      They feel that the questions telegraph that management has no idea what they do for the business.

      I worked at a place for years and every year I wrote the same exact answer to each question. No one noticed. And I did it for years.

      1. tigerStripes*

        I hate doing self-evaluations, but I try to think of them as ways to promote myself and mention things that I did that were good, including things that maybe my supervisor might not have thought of checking.

  62. Anon-Me!*

    How to background investigations for government clearance work? I have a former employee who applied for a job that required one and I got the form sent to me to verify his employment here. Everything is false – dates of employment, supervisor, title, did he leave voluntarily. I’m sending this over to our legal team because I don’t want to say something libelous. I have to imagine that this would disqualify him for a clearance, but I wonder will it come back to me. He is a head case and I don’t want him threatening me with lawsuits again. Had enough of that after we terminated him.

    1. NK*

      I am almost positive that the government does not reveal why they denied a clearance. It would be a security issue. Also, this information is all factual and documented. I don’t think you need to give color commentary, just correcting the information he provided will be plenty. And there’s no basis for a lawsuit, though I certainly understand that the threat of a lawsuit – regardless of the merits – is stressful enough.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        They generally won’t tell you why in specific reasons, but they will be things like “financial concerns” or “potential loyalties to foreign countries” or “personal conduct” and you can infer.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      It depends on the level of clearance and who is doing the investigation.

      Usually, even for top secret clearances, the subject of the clearance invesigation can request copies of the records. Investigators tell you that when you give them an interview on someone’s behalf – they show you ID and let you know that the person can request copies of all interview notes.

      You should be honest. You have no idea if it will disqualify him for a clearance (you’d be amazed at some of the stuff that gets through). What you say is “according to my recollection/records, his dates of employment were XXX, his title was XXX, and he left because of XXX.”

      They know people will make mistakes. They’re not going to take the testimony of one person and throw out the clearance on that – they’ll verify through many interviews and other means.

  63. LizB*

    My organization is implementing some VERY strict rules on what kinds of food can be provided for meetings. Some of them are totally reasonable (always have fruit and/or veggies and water available), others are a little more out there (no cookies or chips at all, and all baked goods must be whole grain, no exceptions). I totally understand why these are being rolled out, given the health-related nature of the organization, but I’m a little sad that I can’t, say, bring in donuts for my team once in a blue moon when they’ve had a rough week. Realistically, I don’t think most people in my department would care if I broke the rules occasionally, but our higher-ups have a habit of randomly wandering through our building and they would definitely care. I’m thinking my team may be having more off-site lunch meetings in the future, and some of them may be located in pizza places…

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      This is one of those situations where I want to grab the decision-maker, and go “WAS THIS REALLY THE HILL YOU DECIDED TO DIE ON? SERIOUSLY?”

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        +1. Even the healthiest diets have some room to go flat-out nuts. What if it’s a birthday? Are you really expected to celebrate with whole-grain cupcakes?!

        1. LizB*

          Yeah, I love my organization, but our healthy eating recommendations include some really cool, holistic-health-minded things and some REALLY backwards things. It’s weird. I sat through the mandatory presentation about them feeling super uncomfortable about how weird some of the suggestions were, and then was even more uncomfortable when the person presenting starting waxing poetic about how much her life changed when she cut out gluten and dairy and we should all totally do the same! Um, no. You do you, but my diet is fine for me without eliminating major categories of foods.

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            Some people get really evangelistic and weird about their diets. It’s incredibly frustrating.

          2. TL -*

            If it makes you feel better, there’s a few studies coming showing that gluten-free diets are less healthy than gluten-containing diets.

            (says the woman with the wheat allergy eating gluten-free soy sauce, sigh.) I haven’t read the studies but I do think the number that are coming out is encouraging and, honestly, not surprising.

            1. AcademiaNut*

              My impression of those studies I’ve seen is that it’s not necessarily that gluten is intrinsically healthy, it’s that if you swap in gluten-free versions for your pasta, bread, cakes, cookies, pizza, burgers, etc. it will be less healthy than the original version, if you aren’t actually sensitive to gluten. The gluten free flours they use tend to have higher glycemic indices than the wheat flour they are replacing, for example.

    2. Graciosa*

      I would absolutely be having more off site meetings.

      Whether or not I was asked, I might find a polite way to comment about the budgetary impact of the policy that so strictly controlled food choices that it required off site events to allow adults to choose their own food. ;-)

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Did they limit what people can have in their offices? Because what if you had a box of donuts in your office, and when your team members stop by you offer them one? And on that day, somehow, all your team members decide to pop into your office in the morning to say good morning…. ;)

      1. LizB*

        Apparently the person who sent out the company-wide email has been bombarded with what-if questions like this* and will be sending a clarifying email next week, so at the moment it’s unclear. I’m hoping it shakes out to be something like “If it’s bought on the company dime, it has to meet the standard, if not then we just strongly encourage it to meet the standard.” I absolutely see the value of providing healthy snacks, but there’s a time and a place for also providing junk!

        *Apparently they are super surprised that they’re getting so many questions. I suspect they didn’t think through the implications of telling 2000 grown-ass adults that they’re not allowed to bring cookies to the office anymore. I don’t think that’s what they were trying to communicate, but that’s what it came off as.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          HAH! I love it! This is what happens when you try to “parent” intelligent, grown-ass adults!

          And for the record, I’m all for more healthy food at work, and in fact I’ve been having trouble limiting myself recently as I did successfully for a few years prior, so this kind of change would also benefit me. But I realize that it’s my responsibility to control myself, and I wouldn’t want to limit my coworkers’ enjoyment of potlucks or project meetings by telling or even asking them to change what THEY can eat. And our company does generally provide healthy snacks for company-wide meetings.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            My doughnut rule is that I don’t eat one unless it’s the cinnamon-sugar cake doughnut, because those are my favorite. It keeps me from nomming mindlessly when they’re brought in and once people find out I like those, they usually have one in the box. I’m okay unless they get more than one.

        2. JustaTech*

          “But this is a whole-wheat vegan chocolate cake!” (I had a coworker who would occasionally make this when she was on a super-restrictive diet and it was *amazing*.)
          Nothing brings out the grump and the boundary stretching like rules about food.

    4. Delta Delta*

      What if you gave them something else to show appreciation? Everybody gets a gold star or a fancier pen than they usually use (you could buy my love with a purple Pilot pen – not kidding) or something like that? Then it’s not food-based and it’s fun.

      1. LizB*

        I can and will do that as well! Nice pens are a great idea. The ones the office buys are fine, but not fabulous.

  64. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

    So my wife’s benefits through her school district kicked in. $529 a month for the whole family, medical, dental, vision. This replaces my plan, which was $1150 a month for medical and dental. So basically, we just got a $6000/year raise.

    brb, gonna go make it rain like a rap star with a stack of Benjamins

    1. jm*

      Yes! Good for y’all! This is one of the main reasons I will stick with my school system job — our rate is $325 per month for health and dental for the whole family! It would only be $250 per month if my husband worked here too.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        That’s amazing. Public employee health plans are phenomenal. When I was at EPA, I had a minor surgery and it ended up barely costing me anything – under a grand.

  65. Anonycat*

    So work is tense this morning, and it’s supposed to be a fun day (baby shower planned for one of the managers; I worked with 3 others to put this whole thing on because on top of my other managerial duties I love party planning! #raforlife). Here’s what’s happening.

    The Sales team is discussing the “off duty cop” and kid video from the other day. MY personal opinion is that I don’t think a gun should have been brought into it, but that’s just me. The Sales team (~15 people) is mostly women or MOC, with 2 white guys. This is important because the person who brought it up is one of the white guys (I’ll call him WG for clarity).

    “So a punk kid doesn’t deserve to be punished? If someone was damaging your property wouldn’t you want to defend it and punish the kid?” – WG

    “I’m just sick of people drawing conclusions! They’ve been doing that so much recently!” – WG

    “Millennials have never struggled a day in their lives! They need to get to work and not care about being so PC!” -WG

    And etc.

    So WG believes the cop is in the right, but the women and MOC think the cop is wrong. Because he is an argumentative/pushy guy, this is causing a loud discussion that is disruptive and quite frankly I am upset about it. But I also don’t want to cause problems at work by standing up and asking them to all drop it (not because I don’t care, but because I can’t get my work done nor do I feel I could go to WG if I have a question now). I am younger (one of those hated millennials!) and female so WG already doesn’t really respect me, and WG is a loud talker which would draw the rest of Sales into it if I asked him privately to keep it down/not talk about it at the office. We are on an equal level, just in different departments that happen to now sit by each other (long story).

    I know I need to go to his Director and ask him to handle it, but his Director isn’t in right now. Neither is mine (family funeral). So it’s up to me until Director shows up today. I really just want to rant more than handle it myself, because any form of handling it will invite him to be openly unhappy with me (not the right word exactly, but there’d be no retaliation aside from snide comments/making fun of me for being ~sensitive~ because I’m a millennial).

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      Don’t diss all white guys. I’m one, and I think your coworker is a bigoted jerk.

      1. Collie*

        I don’t see any dissing of white guys here. There’s a context of privilege that is important to the story here, which is why I think Anonycat mentioned it.

        1. LCL*

          Yeah, but there’s also a context of overreaction, which is why WG keeps harping on it. Adult overstepped by putting his hands on the kid, surrounding kids overstepped by mobbing WG, ‘Protesters’ overstepped by going to the neighborhood and breaking windows and spraying graffiti.

          1. Collie*

            I think we’re getting off-topic as to what Anonycat is having an issue with. It sounds like s/he is mainly concerned about the disruption of work, not the content of the disruption (though I’d argue it’s not appropriate talk for most workplaces, anyway). Let’s refocus.

            1. LCL*

              The reason Anonycat is having an issue is because WG keeps harping on it. It is instructive and useful whenever a coworker keeps harping on something to figure out what is going on. And then, if it is distracting in the workplace, to agree not to talk politics.

              1. Observer*

                And what’s going on is that he’s a bigoted jerk who doesn’t respect anyone but himself, if sounds like.

        2. Observer*

          Except I don’t really think it’s about privilege. This guy sounds like an exceptional jerk. It’s not so much his opinion on the incident, or even that he insisted on bringing it in to work, but all of the other bashing.

    2. paul*

      you can think a kid deserved to get in trouble and not be remotely OK with bringing a gun into it.

      I’ve got 0 qualms about using violence to protect myself or my family but the kid was walking on the damn grass, not trying to fight him

    3. Anonycat*

      I mentioned in passing to the Director that it’s difficult to finish these tasks (it’s schedules week for the next month, which means I’m doing all of my operational tasks and cannot be disrupted by unnecessary things until after lunch/2pm) when people are having shouting matches (and personally it’s tough for me because I come from a home where yelling/borderline verbal abuse was an everyday thing).

      Things have since quieted down. I think the reminder from the Sales Director that it’s the end of the month and people weren’t hitting their quotas but somehow had time to talk politics was enough to refocus the group back to their task for now.

  66. Ahead of Myself*

    Back in August I applied for a job I wasn’t super excited about (dealing with teacups for children instead of teacups for teens or adults) because I wanted to get out of my current position and felt there was no harm in applying and at least learning more about the job because the aspects of my current job where I deal with teacups for children isn’t terrible, I just don’t like it as much as teacups for teens/adults. I never heard anything. Until recently.

    Apparently they’re doing another round of hiring, so I went in for an interview this week and I felt it went really well. I’ve been on several interviews at similar organizations the last couple of years and haven’t felt that, culturally, I’ve been as good at fit and vice versa in any of those as I did in this one. The job may be at any one of more than two dozen locations, so the culture will vary some (as will the job duties and the % of time I get to spend working on teacups for teens/adults) and the location may or may not be public transit accessible (so I may have to buy a car, which I want to do anyway but…a new car in a bad part of town sounds less than great to me, especially when there’s a very specific car I’ve wanted since I was ten…but I digress). BUT — I’d be out of my current situation which would not only be great for my mental health but also put me better in line with what I want to be doing, I’d be eligible for a loan forgiveness program that would really help me out, I’d probably get to see daylight during the day (windows? What are those?), the pay would be better, the benefits would be significantly better, and I think overall I’d be happier.

    I’m trying hard to talk myself into taking this if it’s offered but I’m concerned about a longer/potentially more expensive commute and not being really super jazzed about the job itself (I’ll probably like it, but it will be challenging in ways I’m not interested in growing right now and I won’t love it). I’m hoping it’ll take some time to process and perhaps a second round of interviews because I have something else in the works that, while the organizational fit might not be as good, I think I’d enjoy the duties of the job more. With any luck, if I get offers at all, they’ll be around the same time so I can weigh them against each other.


    So that was really long and convoluted, but it felt better to write it out. Not necessarily looking for advice, but I’ll take it if you have it (with the understanding that I’m getting way ahead of myself…).

    1. animaniactoo*

      My only advice here is that sometimes you do what will work best for your life rather than your career – and as long as you don’t hate the job, and can maybe add in some extra self-care here and there as a balance, then it’s fine to prioritize what works for your life. It also doesn’t have to be an end-of-the-road decision. It can be a “this is a next two years decision that gets me more experience, and maybe makes me more valuable for the kind of position that I really want”.

      I started out in life intending to teach secondary ed math. I’m a graphic artist/creative manager. This is the path that my life took me, step by step, and I was interested *enough* to stay with it. While I would probably flourish in an IT/organizational role, this was interesting enough to stick with as I developed – and interestingly, the IT/organizational aspects of me have made me more valuable to my company and my team over time. Note: I’m still nowhere near my original life goal, and I do think about finding my way back to it from time to time. But in the meantime, I have a job I *do* enjoy most of the time, and outside life responsibilities and joys – things I have managed to be able to do – that continue to make staying where I am worthwhile. If that were not true, I’d have a lot more impetus to go back and pursue my original path.

      1. Ahead of Myself*

        Thanks. I think I get this on intellectual level, and it’s the framework I’ve been working with the last few days to try to at least prepare myself for talking myself into it, but my emotional level isn’t there yet. It’s helpful to hear that others have done this/are doing it “successfully” (however you define that), though. So thank you.

        1. animaniactoo*

          Yw, and fwiw, I forgot to say that some of the stuff that would make me a good teacher is stuff that is valuable and applied here in my ability to distill stuff for my co-workers and say “do this, here’s why” in relatively simple terms. I can overcomplicate some things when I’m exploring an idea, but for the pass-off – I’m the go to, and it’s those skills that are involved in it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      It’s not the last job on earth. Hold on to that thought.
      Put yourself in places where you have reason to believe that you will have at least SOME success.
      We spend the bulk of our waking hours at our jobs. It’s a basic human need to make a contribution. Looking at this job do you see where you would make a contribution, make a difference? Remember, this is a need like water and food is a need. We need to know that what we do matters. And here is the tough part, will it matter to YOU?

      As far as the car, I kind of chuckled. I had one brand new car once. And then it got that first scratch…. I drove it until it died 9 years later and I have never bought another new car. Currently, I have had older vehicles. You know what? People pretty much leave older vehicles alone. Park it where it appears to be safest for you and the vehicle, lock it up and it will probably be okay.

      Meanwhile, collect up more facts about this job. Sometimes indecision can be a lack of facts. It sounds like it has potential. Sometimes I can tough out an iffy job if I set personal goals and stick to my personal goal list like glue.

      1. Ahead of Myself*

        All good points. I have to admit, it’ll be my first car, so I’m being totally irrational about it and I know it. Wah.

        I have a tendency to look for reasons why not, I think because I’ve had such a bad experience with my current job that I’m afraid of getting into the same situation — why leave a bad situation for a worse one? Intellectually, I know better. But my emotional side is being a stubborn jerk about it. Sigh.

        I know I could do the job well. I just don’t know that I have the energy to work with actual infants/toddlers/children all day. I like kids, but my few interactions with them these days tend to be with them, screaming, in a restaurant where I just want to eat in quiet. I’m being unfair to kids, though, and I know that.

        I’m also a chronic self-sabotager in interviews, so it’s probably some deep issue I’ll just have to work out. Sigh, again.

        Thanks, though. This is helpful stuff to think about.

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      Not as creepy as showing up on his front stoop wearing no pants, but damned close.

    2. EddieSherbert*

      Terrifying. Like, I’d have the opposite reaction and they’d be on a “no calls/ do not hire forever” list.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The applicant purchased attention. That is all that happened here. He paid for items that caused attention to be drawn to him. I can buy things that make me look impressive, too, that does not make me actually impressive, though.

      1. Looey*

        Well, yeah of course it got him attention! That’s what it was designed to do! The question is whether you would give it good attention and potentially hire them or attention where you packed bear mace in your pocket to ward off a creepy stalker.

  67. I need a break*

    I have had a rough year and I am thinking of taking some time off work. By the time I’d be leaving I will have been with the same company for 3 years. The plan would be to go to France for a month and study French and maybe spend some time with a sick family member so I feel like I would be able to explain to future employers what I was doing after quitting my job. I would probably be off work for two months before starting to look for something new. I know that quitting without having anything lined up is a bad idea in general but in my current job my notice period is two months so in a way I imagine that I would be more attractive to employers because I can start straight away. I live in London and I think that the job market is quite good (I am a data analyst) at the moment. I could probably afford to be unemployed for 6 months. Not sure if I have any specific questions but I would really love to hear from people who have been in a similar situation.

    1. Chickaletta*

      Have fun!

      I quit a job once and went to Australia for a month. Nothing lined up. When I got back I decided to make a career change, so I took a few classes from the community college. Incredibly, my former employer called me up and offered me a contract position which got me through for another year.

      A couple months gap in unemployment isn’t going to raise many flags so you might find you don’t even need to explain anything to future employers. Also, the silver lining about not being employed while job searching is that you can dedicate all your time towards finding a job, go in for interviews at any time, and not have to deal with any of that awkwardness asking for time off in the middle of the day for an interview.

    2. Bex*

      Could you do some contract/consulting work while you’re in France? Or volunteer or do pro bono work for an NGO? That way there wouldn’t be as much of a gap.

    3. Freya UK*

      Go! Live your life and enjoy yourself! I’ve taken time off (about four months) between both of my last jobs, and it’s never taken me more than a couple of months to find something new when I start looking again.

      I take time off because I work to live, so I save up my little ‘if I get fired or have to tell them where to stick it’ fund while I’m working, so that I am free to do so.

      It’s a good litmus test for an employer too – if they don’t like that I took time out ‘because I wanted to and was able to’ then it’s not going to be the right environment for me.

      1. I need a break*

        Thank you all for replying. I am not sure about volunteering in France but I would be able to spend a lot of time learning more about programming so that would be good. I have been putting money aside every month exactly for this kind of situation but I guess it is just a bit scary. If I build up the courage to go through with it then I will come back and update you all.

  68. JustaTech*

    Does anyone have any advice for explaining to your spouse or friends that while hiring works one way in their industry (tech) it is not the way hiring works for everyone else? Like, I’ve never heard of an industry outside of computers where you have something like a “coding challenge” in the interview. And not every industry head-hunts. Or hires in weeks rather than months.
    They all genuinely care, but they just don’t get the difference and sometimes they say things that imply that it’s *me* that’s the problem. It’s not my fault that it takes the city months to get back to you about an application!

    1. SophieChotek*

      Your explanation makes sense to me!=)
      I don’t know…get them to read this blog and all the questions about “when will I hear back…?”

    2. KR*

      I understand it. My husband had been in the military and aside from a fast food gig has never had a job. Sometimes he’ll make outdated job search suggestions like calling the hiring manager directly or walking in there and shaking their hand or whatever and I’m like….. Please. Stop.

    3. Emilia Bedelia*

      Oh my goodness, I completely understand the “tech hiring bubble”. The questions I got from my computer science friends when I was interviewing were just silly. “What’s a behavioral question?” “No one has ever asked me a STAR question in an interview, I don’t believe people actually use those” “What kind of test did you have to take in your interviews for your job?” “Wait, you actually interviewed with the person you’d be working for?”

      Eventually I just stopped talking to the less understanding people about job searching, or just reply with something like “Wow, the hiring processes are SOOO different! It’s like they DON’T EVEN TRANSLATE AT ALL! So weird”.

      1. Tau*

        Aaand now I’m worried about this as a person who’ll be job-hunting soon in a tech field and has been using AAM as my basis for how the hiring process tends to work. I mean, I guessed that there would be more technical skills tests and more focus on those, but if it’s really THAT different I’m worried I’ll have come away with a really wrong impression from this site… it’s already been hard enough to try and calculate the regional/cultural variation because Germany. :(

        1. JustaTech*

          I don’t know about all tech companies, but the ones I have heard about directly (Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google) if you’re interviewing for a job where you will write code you will almost 100% be asked to write code in the interview (usually on a whiteboard) so they can see your understanding/skill/thought process.
          I think the confusion is that this kind of skill testing isn’t possible in all fields. Like, you can’t ask me to process blood in the middle of an interview; there are too many safety regulations. Or whatever your skill are, they aren’t something you can show a complete example of in an hour.

          The other stuff, like resumes and culture fit and the rest are pretty much the same.

          What get frustrating is that where I live there are tons of tech jobs so you never have to hunt for an open position the same way you might in other fields (and the pay, ye gods the pay!).

        2. Jules the First*

          You will be fine – promise! It will be faster and more informal than most of what is described here, but the principles are the same. Going from what’s described here to tech will be fine, going from tech to non-tech would be confusing.

          1. Windchime*

            Yeah, I hope I never have to do a non-tech interview again. I wouldn’t even know how to begin to buy an interview suit. It sounds so horribly constrictive and uncomfortable.

    4. AnonAcademic*

      I’m an academic married to a tech person so we have lots of fun conversations about the insane practices in our respective fields. Occasionally I have to remind him that the norms in my field are totally different. I just say “Actually unlike tech, in academia there are no recruiters/interviews are an all day affair for many positions/hiring and grant cycles often take a full year/salary ranges are set by the federal funding agency/tenured professors can be jerks with no consequence.” If he doesn’t “get” it and wants me to sicc HR on some senior tenured professor who made an off color joke in the elevator (or whatever) I just remind him there are different norms and I have my own survival strategies in my field just like he does in his.

      1. Feathers McGraw*

        I’m in writing/editing/communications and my husband is self-employed in the music industry (stage crew and road crew). We are completely bemused by each other’s work field norms. I can’t imagine being unable to leave work because it’s my job to drive everyone else home. He shudders at the thought of having to have project meetings or catch-ups with a line manager.

  69. emma2*

    In the context of informational interviews (with other alums), should I refer to older alums as Mr./Ms. as opposed to their first name? (I am in my twenties.) Some context: Most alums I end up informational interviewing with are my age group and I just call them by their first name. I accidentally did this in an e-mail I sent to another alum, not realizing how old she was until after the fact. Was I rude?

    1. Amber T*

      I’d say calling them by their first name is fine regardless of their age, unless they’re specifically introduced to you as Mr./Ms.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am in my mid-50s. I’d expect you to use my first name. If you didn’t I would tell you to use my first name. I think you are probably okay here.

  70. Recco*

    We had a lot of layoffs at my company this week and I discovered the site. It helped me feel like I was in the loop and slightly more prepared for what was to come. There’s definitely a lot of rumors and some nonsense to read through, but if your company is going thro this, and you’d like be aware about what coworkers are saying, then it might be worth a look. I work for a large company, and it’s probably limited to bigger places, but ppl were able to pinpoint our layoff date a week or so in advance, and share info on severance package ect.

      1. Recco*

        Yeah I think it’s one of those people only come across it if you’re in that unfortunate situation. It did provide an odd sense of comfort for me this week. Best of luck if you’re going through the same!

  71. Whats In A Name*

    I have been debating whether or not to do an open thread for months about my co-worker, but seriously I can’t take it anymore. I need to vent and get some advice on how to manage the relationship I have to have with her at work.

    She is teapot trainer. I am teacup trainer within the same department. In addition, I am also a program administrator, so I have slightly more responsibility aligning training programs with company objectives. We are both independent contractors so I have no management authority over her whatsoever.

    She’s a knowledgeable teapot trainer and a good presenter. Because I am a teacup trainer we are often asked to co-present on how teapots and teacups work together.

    When someone asks about teacups in these presentations she will often answer before I can – with the wrong answer. Then I have to correct her in front of 25+ people without making it sound like I am correcting her.

    She once told a very large group that the reason we do the simplest version of teapot testing is because (and I quote) “it’s cheap and dirty, not because it’s accurate” Meanwhile we are supposed to be the advocates of this testing, because it’s an extension and was vetted by the department we work in. Besides the fact that cheapest does not equal cheap (which she does now know).

    In addition to this, she is just an awful to work with. Her personality makes conversation awkward (even non-work related), she has a huge ego and often “forgets” things and duplicates duties that are assigned to others. It may seems like no big deal but ends up being a logistical nightmare…

    I asked if a matrix of duties would help in the folder we store on the shared drive for this long project (Oct-June). She said yes and I created one…this was about 6 months ago – I found out last week that she doesn’t “remember” how to get to the shared drive. I found out because it happened again and I asked her if she referred to the matrix and she was like “oh yea, I don’t remember how to get to that”. I asked her why she didn’t ask me as she said “I didn’t think to.”

    The department head excuses her behavior to youth – saying she’ll learn professional norms over time. She is 30 & had been here almost 2 years. This is her 4th or 5th professional job. I am going bonkers but really can’t do much about it, I need some advice here.

    In addition to the fact that she doesn’t really “get” what I do so she is often like “how are you so busy, what do you even do?” ARGH!!!!

    Thanks for letting me vent. Anyadvice on how to handle her, especially int he public forums where she is wrong but I don’t want to sound like a tyrant, would be great!

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      I would be a little more assertive about correcting her. “Actually, Wakeenda, that’s not an accurate characterization. The teacup department vetted this testing procedure and we advocated for it because it returns accurate results, not just because it’s cheap and dirty.”

      I think you can also give her some pushback in private. “Wakeenda, I’ve noticed that when we’re presenting, you often answer questions about teacups before I can. I really need you to let me answer those, because I’ve got context and information about teacups you don’t.”

      1. Whats In A Name*

        You know, when based in facts, the public ‘correction’ could work and not make me look like I am actually flabbergasted (which I am).

        I also like the idea of a private conversation – I can do that in the context of the job. Sometimes I think I am at the point where I just see red with her and it’s clouding my ability to manage my reactions so I just walk away because I am afraid I will explode and, well, that’s not cool either.

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          Honestly, she sounds like she could use a coworker getting constructively angry at her and setting some hard boundaries.

          1. AnonAcademic*

            Yeah, it sounds like OP is trying to treat an unreasonable person with the same courtesy and professionalism as a reasonable person. I too have fallen into this trap. I thought it was more professional to never act frustrated and discuss conflicts in a neutral, problem solving manner. I have since realized that suppressing my justifiable anger was perceived as a lack of assertiveness or urgency by the person I was having conflicts with. I was using phrases like “what can we do to fix this and make sure it doesn’t happen again” when I should have been saying “this is unacceptable, cannot happen again, a