open thread – February 3-4, 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 :)

{ 1,288 comments… read them below }

  1. Rebel Hera*

    I am a city government employee with an upcoming evaluation that I don’t know how to handle. Last evaluation my boss told me that he was fine with me looking at other departments in the City if I wanted to move up for more pay/responsibilities. I appreciated the offer, but soon after I decided I didn’t want to work for city government any more. I’ve searched for a while now but haven’t had luck yet. I’ve also considered leaving to go back to school. Either way, I haven’t made a final decision yet but I do know that I don’t plan to be here much longer, and I definitely don’t have a desire to move to a different department.

    This isn’t the kind of place where they could edge me out if they knew I wanted to leave anyway but they can easily make my already miserable time here even worse. So what do I say to my boss when he asks how I’m liking my job, if I had thought of moving up to another department, how much longer I plan to stay, etc? If I was brutally honest, I would tell him that my coworkers are passive aggressive and cruel, the workload is overwhelming, and that all my recent physical and mental health problems have stemmed from my misery here. But obviously, I can’t say any of those things. So what should I say instead, especially about upward movement when really I just want to get out entirely?

    1. Blue*

      I think it’s safe to say that you are “carefully considering your options, before making a decision and you appreciate his interest/support?”

      1. OhNo*

        Agreed. Definitely, do NOT be honest, since that puts you at risk of having your current situation get even worse. I think Blue’s phrasing is perfect, because it strikes the balance between “I am actively looking at other options and you may need to replace me”, and “I don’t have anything specific to tell you”. You’re probably going to need to walk that line for a while.

    2. LKW*

      You lie. You say that you’re still mulling over the opportunities and determining where you see yourself reaching your potential and adding value to the organization.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      You have nothing to gain by being candid. Just tell him you are happy with the way things are right now and don’t want to leave until you are sure you are making the right move.

    4. Temperance*

      Brutal honesty is not what you want here, especially as a government employee. You don’t have to be honest at all, especially if you are not sure what you want.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Just say that you are still thinking this over and be sure to thank him for his encouragement, even if you don’t feel like thanking him. One thing I have done is said, “I have some personal things I want to complete first then I will make a decision about this.”

      One mistake I have made in the past is shutting down suggestions too quickly. Let him ramble on if he wants. He may say something that actually interests you, okay, that’s a one in a million chance but it’s still a chance. Primarily, he will feel better once he delivers whatever message he has to you. Let him tell you what is on his mind, make noises like you are listening, (hmmmm. Oh, I see. etc.)
      Sometimes the easiest way out of a conversation is to just let it run its course and say very little except to indicate that we know the other person is talking. If he tries to nail down a commitment from you then you go with, “Well, unfortunately, I have personal matters I am taking care of right now and once that is done then I will look at this closer.”

      1. Elizabeth H.*

        Yes! Not shutting down suggestions too quickly is great. You can accomplish a lot by just not saying anything and waiting to see if the other party is going to put any more options (not even literal ‘options’ like actions to take, but like suggestions of how you are supposed to respond to what he’s saying ).

    6. Trout 'Waver*

      “I really appreciate your support and interest in my career. But I’m happy with my current role right now. I’ll make sure to let you know if anything changes, but I don’t see that happening in the near future.”

      Then, when you take a new job, “I really appreciated my time in City government, but the new job is offering more money/flexible schedule/cool project that was just too good to pass up.”

  2. Arts Admin*

    I’m applying for a role that has become available in my department that would be a step up for me. It’s likely that external candidates will apply who have experience working at the higher level already. I fully understand that one of those candidates may be the best choice for the business and I’ll definitely accept that gracefully if it happens!
    With that said, does anyone have any tips for applying for a step up type job when there will probably be other candidates looking to move laterally in to that position?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’d say be sure to mention that you are already up to speed on how your company and department do things, you have good working relationships with people, and you’ve already picked up [X] on the job, showing that you will quickly get up to speed on the new aspects of the job. Those stress the advantages you would have over an external candidate.

      Good luck!

    2. ArtsNerd*

      Hi friend! I’d say you should emphasize how you’d like to stay with the organization as your career proceeds. Management should be well aware how few mid-level positions there are in the field, and how frequently orgs lose great employees because there’s just no room to move up.

      As much as you can, show that you already possess the skills required for the role (with the possible exception of managing staff) and that growing into new challenges will be something you will tackle with pleasure. Also don’t assume the hiring manager (even if it’s your boss, depending on your relationship and work culture) understands the ins and outs of your work and capabilities.

    3. Emmie*

      I’ve earned 4 internal promotions, and 2 lateral moves. Treat the interview professionally in demeanor and dress. Print or save a copy of the job description and think of how you can demonstrate each responsibility. The normal stuff. But, remember that you know the company, the systems, and have a work ethic record. So, that’s a heck of an advantage too. To be fair, I’ve also lost out on a few positions too. I’ve always treated the incumbent gracefully and helped set them up for success too. Good luck!

    4. Cerberus*

      You want to emphasize the areas where you are completely different than those other candidates in a way that doesn’t put them down – specifically in your experience with the company. You already know their policies and procedures. You know how your department is run, and most of all you have a reputation within the company and a network within the company. The time the company would spend training someone doesn’t apply to you. You’d be able to jump right in.

      I work at a University and was able to move from a relatively entry-level position to a higher position in another department. There were 57 applicants for the new position, including several on campus. I was selected because there were upcoming major tasks (a building remodel, a major program inspection, and a need to improve recruiting for the program) that I had a lot of experience with. That’s where I was able to focus in my interviews and that’s where you can really outshine the other candidates.

  3. SaviourSelf*

    Our President has finally accepted that he needs an Executive Assistant.

    Career EAs, when you’re looking for a job, where do you look for job postings?

    I am looking for someone that wants to continue as an Executive Assistant, not a stepping stone position.

    1. LKW*

      Use the online sites and ask for someone with considerable experience (but be prepared to back that up with a good salary). Someone who has been an EA for 15+ years is likely not looking to grow into a different position.

      1. SaviourSelf*

        Right. I’m wondering which sites you would recommend?

        I’ve already had the salary speech with the PTB and pulled comps for our area so there is no “sticker shock”

        1. Elle*

          I use, and have been very happy with it. It’s reasonably priced, and I get great responses.

          1. EW*

            I really feel like Indeed is the place to post. I love their interface and simplicity from a job seeker perspective. LinkedIn could be another potential.

    2. RVA Cat*

      For a second I didn’t realize you were talking about your company, and I thought “well there are the lion tamers etc. getting let go from Ringling Brothers….”

      1. MoinMoin*

        I had to reread your comment twice, then go back up to the original and reread that to get what you were saying. Worth it.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      I either use a recruiting agency or Or craigslist if you are in a large city. As to wanting a career admin, even if you mention that in your ad you will still get people looking for a stepping-stone position. It is essential to make it clear during the interview or phone screening stage – I always say – “This is a career admin role and it is not a path to becoming a project manager here. If you think you will be the exception to the rule, I’d like you to change your mindset now and really think about if this would be the right fit for you”. But it’s pretty easy to tell from their resumes – if they have a masters in urban planning it’s a huge red flag for me that they are looking for a foot in the door.

    4. EA*

      Another thing if you want a career EA, you really need to pay well. If you pay on the low end, you will get younger candidates who are more likely to want to use it as a stepping stone. I would consider a recruiting agency, the ones in my area get the EA field.

    5. AnitaJ*

      In order of usage: 1) recruiting agencies, 2) personal contacts, 3) LinkedIn, 4), 5) Washington Post’s job listings. Have had the best luck with recruiters and LinkedIn.

    6. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

      Adding on to the recommendation of going through an agency/recruiter. This is my personal experience searching in a specific industry and a very large metro area, so your mileage may vary, but…

      As a job seeker of admin roles, I found the best quality positions came through agencies.

      As someone who has done (internal) recruiting for admin and/or EA positions – please be prepared for the volume of resumes you will receieve from generic job posting boards. We could easily receive 500 – 1000 resumes for any admin role we posted (and we were not a know entity – just a small firm that few people know the name of – pay/benefits listed were solidly mid-range, nothing special).

      Also, utilizing a recruiter cut out so much of the legwork and gave candidates at least a cursory screen for compatibility. I worked one place where they did not use a recruiter for an EA role, nor did they do phone screens (I strongly disagreed with that) – they just invited people in for initial interviews based one resumes alone. Some of the people with the strongest resumes also had some of the most bizarre/unprofessional job-seeking behavior. Using a recruiter would have at least removed the most inapproriate candidates from the interview roster.

    7. CA Admin*

      Recruiter at a staffing agency–the best jobs in my city/industry (SF/Finance) aren’t posted anywhere, they just use staffing firms, so recruiters get you the best interviews.

    8. calonkat*

      In addition to the other suggestions, don’t be afraid to ask internal staff for suggestions. They may know someone elsewhere who would be excellent in the position and is looking to leave their current position (or is underpaid/appreciated).

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Do you have a professional association for Management Assistants in your area?

        I joined EUMA (European Management Assistants) which has just rebranded to IMA. (International Management Assistants) but I assume there are others. They may be able to recommend someone or perhaps has a recruitment firm as a member.

    9. Bad Candidate*

      I mostly look on Indeed, LinkedIn, and my city has a local job board where most stuff gets posted. Our staffing firms aren’t the greatest, and I personally avoid most of them, but in some cities they work fine. If you’re in the Chicago area I could recommend one that I liked when I lived there. I would agree with what others are saying about pay. You can’t pay a career EA $12/hour and expect to get what you really need.

    10. Bonky*

      We recruit in different places depending on our needs at the time. My EA was originally going to be a temp-to-perm role (I was anxious that the culture fit was going to be right and antsy about hiring someone without getting to know them well first), so we advertised with a recruitment agency for her; she was made permanent about two months after that because it was very clear she was absolutely terrific. I think at least one other EA here came in through that route and was also made permanent. A third we recruited for via Monster (which is a big online jobs portal in the UK, equivalent to Indeed), LinkedIn and some newspapers because we knew that role would be permanent from the start.

      Our organisation has a big social media presence, so we also flag up jobs there, which is often a good way to get candidates who are already bought into what we do.

  4. Online Applications*

    Going off the brief conversation about references and online applications on the post this morning, I am wondering what you all may suggest in my situation. I am casually job searching, and though I have people who are confirmed to serve as my references, I have not told them to expect to hear from employers anytime soon. Anyway, I am applying to the large public university in my city and of course the online application asks for 3 references. Putting something in the name field is required, but I do not have to list any contact or company information to advance past this point. So do I put my references names in and leave any contact info out? Or should I put something like “References available at interview” in the name fields? If a hiring manager for the department saw either of these would it be a strike against my application? I feel weird about supplying all my references’ information up-front, and I really don’t have to tell them about every job I list them for over the next several months.

    1. Audiophile*

      I have applied to several university positions over the years and regularly supplied references information. The only time I ever had a reference reach out to me was when a university preliminarily reached out to them before even interviewing me. I had a feeling that would happen, so I just explained the situation and it wasn’t an issue.
      I think you can reach out to your references and just say you’re beginning a job search, are in the very early stages, and wanted to let them know in case a university reaches out to them via email.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, and you can get the blanket OK from them to list them at that point, so then you’re covered moving forward.

        1. Audiophile*

          I already had their permission, thankfully. I had a feeling based on the way this form was worded that they would be reaching ahead of interviews. I was careful in who I selected and gave permission for the university to contact.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Knock on wood, but I’ve never had my references contacted without me knowing in advance, even if I filled out the application system with all their contact info.

    3. Once More With Feeling*

      I have applied to many university jobs. I’ve never had them contact references until after they have contacted me directly. At that point, I shoot an email out to my references to give them a specific heads up and send them the job ad. This may vary depending on the nature of the position, but I wouldn’t leave it blank. I do think people would find that odd.

    4. Jenbug*

      I can’t imagine anyone contacting your references until you’ve at least had one interview in person. Hiring managers aren’t going to waste their time with something like that. They just want to make sure you *can* provide that information.

    5. mreasy*

      I have been contacted as a reference by former employees from a few years back to whom I had given a blanket reference approval to, and I never blinked. However, I work closely with a small # of people so it’s never hard for me to remember them. Not everyone will be surprised or taken aback by a call.

    6. Emac*

      I’ve had that same question looking at jobs at universities and community colleges. And worse are the ones who ask for letters of recommendation to be included in the application packet – who gets letters of recommendation for admin type jobs?

    7. Lemon Zinger*

      I work at a university and most of our job applications request references right off the bat. My department only contacts them if a candidate has been selected; it’s kind of the last step before the job offer.

      Trust me, university employees are way too busy to contact references if they aren’t yet sure about a candidate.

    8. Anxa*

      They might be kind of annoyed that they asked for the information at one step, but they will have to reach out to you to get the contact info, when maybe they didn’t want to.

      As you can see in the replies, it’s really common to contact the applicant first. I think Alison has said that that’s usually the norm. It has, though, in my experience been not that rare to have reference checked first. The worst system was one when you had to get three questionnaires completed by your references within 48 hours of receiving an HR email before they met you or even had a phone interview. That was brutal and I hated springing that on my references. In fact, I skipped a few applications because of that. And they expired every 6 months (and this was the largest employer in the city, so I was applying at least a few times a year. However, I think this instance is less common and I was just really unlucky.

      In the school jobs I’ve interviewed for, references were done concurrently. But I really only get call backs when I apply outside the online application system, so I don’t know how normal that is if you’re going through the regular system. I work with a lot of students, so I wonder if that’s one of the reasons references are done pretty quickly.

    9. Feeling stuck*

      I am wondering the same thing. I am not actively job searching but saw a job posting at the university in my city that was interesting. However they require you provide 3 references when you apply. I have only had one job since graduating 10 years ago. I have a very small pool of potential references, and they are all related in some way to my current employer. I don’t really want to either burn any bridges by giving their information out too frequently or have word get back to my current employer that I’m looking unless I am really seriously considering and being considered for a position. I’ve passed over lots of job postings at the university for this reason. I would love to know there is an alternative.

    10. Trout 'Waver*

      For whatever reason, universities tend to try to get all the information from applicants into one packet right at the beginning of a search. I would put down names and contact info on the form. They’re not going to contact references until you’ve had an interview.

      That being said, if you’re selected for an interview, notify your references before going on the interview. I had one prof in grad school that would call references the second the interviewee stepped out of her office if the interview went well.

  5. anon for hubs*

    Does anyone have tips on staying sane with an awful boss who fits in the category of “your boss sucks and isn’t going to change” when you are actively job seeking? My husband works for a small start-up; his boss is the owner. He’s just a jerk who is thwarting the success of the business at every turn. My husband is desperately trying to get out, but it’s taking time and in the meantime he’s absolutely miserable and it’s to the point where his blood pressure spikes every time he gets an email from the boss. Any suggestions to mitigate the misery would be great!

    1. Leatherwings*

      The only thing that has ever worked for me was trying really hard to laugh at the absurdity of the boss. If I endlessly made fun of him in my head and with other people then it made the terrible things he said and wrote more bearable. It was like “Hey, I get to add a chapter to this saga of horrible!”

    2. orchidsandtea*

      “The success or failure of this business is not my problem. Problems that aren’t mine are my favorite kind of problem. He is sabotaging himself only, and it is his right to do so. This is not my problem.”

      1. Lynxa*

        This. The one good thing my current job taught me was the wonderful skill of not caring, and accepting that it isn’t your responsibility. It’s SO freeing.

      2. Golden Lioness*

        This!! as well as every e-mail I send, every application I submit, and every call or interview I get is a step closer to the door. The end is near and I see light at the end of the tunnel!

      3. Artemesia*

        So this. He has to be able to not care that this business will fail. He does his best to do well with what he is working on but internally laughs at the boss’s failure to make his business work. I have had several kids and their spouses who have been in businesses like this where the boss kills the golden goose inexplicably. A lot of people who run businesses that are briefly successful can’t sustain it. Hope he finds something soon.

    3. RR*

      I sadly have a lot of experience dealing with this in former toxic job with bullying boss. Things I found to be helpful:
      1) take good care of yourself: pay attention to healthful eating, exercise (eg maybe take a walk midday?), sleep habbits
      2) remind yourself of the good things about the job, even if its hey, I am bringing in a paycheck, and that helps my family. Are there good colleagues? Interesting challenges in spite of (maybe because of??) the boss?
      3) limit venting: yes, we all need to let off steam, but try not to get caught up in vicious cycle of thinking about all the (very real, I am sure) horrible things and getting madder and madder as others in the same boat egg you on.
      4) recognize the triggers that send your blood pressure rising, or that bring on the migraines, or… and try to mitigate against this. You can’t control your boss; there’s a limit to how much you can control your initial emotional response, but you can control how you respond overall, and the steps you take to address this.
      5) try to look at the situation as though you were an external consultant — what advice would you give senior management? How might you write this up as a case study? No, no one is (sorry) going to take this advice, but I’ve found this to be a helpful distancing strategy
      6) congratulate yourself on the steps you are taking to better your situation, including job searching, while acknowledging that these take time — often a lot of time.
      7) know that this too shall pass
      GOOD LUCK!

      1. Drew*

        I used to vent a LOT at work. I realized recently (more recently than I like to admit) that it wasn’t making me feel any better and was getting other coworkers into that bad habit as well. Now, I’m consciously trying to model different behavior: “Yes, that’s annoying, but it’s the situation and we have to work with it.” I’m finding that focusing on possible solutions rather than problems and looking forward, not back, is helping MY attitude even if it isn’t exactly revolutionizing my workplace.

        If nothing else, it’s making me look like a super team player.

      2. Seuuze*

        Excellent suggestions. I would add that using how to breathe deeply and using meditation techniques can help lower your blood pressure. Focusing on your breathing when you feel anxious or crazy about what is going on at your workplace. I know that articles about mindfulness are everywhere, but if you are able to just focus on what you are doing in the moment, just your work, and your work alone, as often as possible, this can help a great deal too. It can relieve a lot of stress. And being grateful for what you do have. A family, a home, etc. and yes, the paycheck which affords you the things you must have. Self care is the way to go with this madness.

        Good luck. I hope a better work environment is on the horizon, very soon.

    4. Pup Seal*

      I hate my job, but luckily things have gotten a bit better. When things were really bad, I would treat myself every Friday, and how I treated myself depended how bad things were at work that week. I kept track how many times my boss was being a jerk, when my coworkers didn’t get something done and it had a negative impact on me, when we got phone calls about overdue invoices, etc. So if 30 things went wrong at work one week, I would buy myself a donut and coffee. If 50 things went wrong, I would buy myself a gourmet cupcake or muffin. 60, an expensive mocha at the local cafe. That helped me deal with my job.

      (A former co-worker who was laid off but also hated working here said that if I ever counted up to 200 in one week then it’s time to quit even if no job is lined up)

    5. Em too*

      Without actually venting at work, having a few co-workers who also see the mad is a lifesaver. When you say, perfectly neutrally, ‘Yep, I’m just on the 5th draft of the weekly report’ or ‘I’ve just been asked to repack all the teapots with the spouts facing left’ you know that your coworker understands perfectly.

      1. OhNo*

        This. Even if you, or one of your husband’s friends outside the company, is willing to act as his “this is ridiculous” sounding board, that could help.

        Be aware that this really only works for a certain type of person. Preferably someone who is already able to laugh at the miserableness of the situation. If he is prone to complaining or whining at all, then this could very quickly turn into either of those and make him, and whoever is acting as his sounding board, even more unhappy.

        That said, I have had great fun texting these kind of things back an forth with my friend who also has this same mindset. We keep each other sane and laughing about it by trying to top each other with the amount of mundane or irritating nonsense we have to do.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Breathing exercises. Show him to breathe in through the nostrils out through pursed lips. This helps to reduce heart rate. I read where on average a person can reduce their heart rate by 10 beats per minute with this exercise.
      Happily, it also gives him something to concentrate on rather than dwelling on the negative. I also like this because we can do this any time any where.

      Tell him to remind himself that “this is temporary”. He has made a firm commitment to get himself out of there. So therefore, he will get himself out of there. People can do sprints much easier than marathons. Tell him it’s a sprint now, it’s no longer a marathon or an endurance contest.

      Good vibes to the both of you.

    7. Jadelyn*

      I don’t remember who I got this tactic from but it was someone here in comments to AAM – pretend you’re an anthropologist studying dysfunctional workplaces for your dissertation or something. Take notes on “the natives”, narrate it in your head in your driest Nature Channel Documentary voice. It helps you step back from it all and not get sucked in so badly.

      1. Freya UK*

        Hahaha amazing. This would’ve worked especially well the time my boss started screaming and slamming his keyboard on the desk like a demented primate.

    8. Spice for this*

      I really like the response from “RR”.
      Also, I recommend this: ask your husband to imagine his boss as a cute infant, very innocent and loving (for added fun, imagine the infant boss wearing really bright outrageous newborn clothes). This really helped me tolerate my crazy, rude and forgetful boss!

      1. John B Public*

        Watch The Waterboy for an example of this- Henry Winkler reframes his fear of the opposing coach into amusement.

    9. Trout 'Waver*

      Talk to a therapist? Someone practiced in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy could teach your husband some tricks to dissociate the anxiety response from the stressor.

      It’s a useful trick no matter what you do, tbh.

    10. July*

      This sounds silly, but it helped me in a prior job: keep a record of the ridiculous. Every time Bad Boss does one of her signature moves, make a tally mark or put a star on a chart. Boss leaves her dirty kleenex on your desk (I can’t be the only person this has happened to, right?) tally mark. Once you hit 100 buy yourself an ice cream or call in sick or otherwise celebrate.

    11. TootsNYC*

      What about some cognitive behavioral therapy? CBT therapists have techniques for managing your emotions and your mental “loops.” He doesn’t have to have a diagnosis to find it useful (though depending on your insurance, it might be covered if he does).

      I found it really useful for a lot of things.

    12. polka dot bird*

      The Headspace app for meditation is helpful for providing a calm space in your day. The respite was of great help to me.

  6. Not a Real Giraffe*

    No question today, just a vent.

    I am having a hard time finding the joy in my job lately. At first, I thought it was burnout (we just wrapped up a really big project), but it’s been two weeks since then, and I’m still having a hard time motivating myself to work on the next project, or to even be excited about it. Part of it is that I’ve realized I don’t enjoy the types of projects that I’m working on (there’s no option to work on a different type without leaving the team or moving to another division of our company), and that I miss the projects I worked on at OldJob. OldJob was in the industry for which I got my graduate degree, but I left for CurrentJob in order to expand my skills/experience and frankly, to make more money. Earlier this week, I applied to a job in my old industry, but I’m sure my minimum salary requirements will keep me out of the running. I just want my job to have more meaning beyond making a C-Suite executive happy!

    1. Tuckerman*

      Something to consider, burnout can take more than 2 weeks to recover from. You might just need a couple more weeks (or more, depending on how hectic your life is outside of work). Not to say you’ll feel excited and passionate about your work then, but a bit more energy might make you feel more motivated. Good luck!

    2. Whats In A Name*

      Yes! I just want to echo Tuckerman – burnout can often take more than just a couple weeks to get over. By no means should you talk yourself into staying but don’t be too upset you haven’t bounced back just yet.

  7. bassclefchick*

    I had an interview this week. I thought it was going really well. Until salary was finally discussed. I mean, I know it was for a data entry job, but they DID ask my required salary in their application materials. I’m not sure why they even brought me in for an interview when they said they were at 10k less than my minimum. I mean, I’m willing to negotiate, but that offer wouldn’t even cover most of my bills.

    In other news, I was directed to a great Federal program that helps workers get new training and skills. Sounds like it could help me, but you have to be eligible. My income for the last 6 months puts me over the threshold and my unemployment hasn’t been started yet because they’re “investigating”. So, the program can’t help me. Meanwhile, I have NO income right now, don’t know where to look for jobs, and I can’t get the help I need.

    And after a LOT of reflection in the last 3 weeks, it’s time to start wondering what in the world is wrong with me that I have been fired twice in the last 6 months and was doing temp work for the past 5 years without getting hired on.

    1. SophieChotek*

      I am sorry to hear that — that is discouraging.
      (BTW what is the Federal Program?)

      About the reflection – did you get any feedback in any of the situations that can assist in the reflection? Close friends that could provide insight?

      Best of luck!

      1. bassclefchick*

        The program in my county is called WorkSmart. I think it has different names in different areas, because I asked about it for a different county in my state for a friend who may soon be in the same boat I’m in.

    2. Anna*

      Oh, that sucks. I’m sorry. It sounds like you know it’s time for some self-evaluation, which will be difficult but I think you’ll be better for it.

      If you don’t mind me asking, what sort of training are you trying to get?

      1. bassclefchick*

        Well, that’s the other thing the program will help me figure out! I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, so I’ve been taking the jobs that would pay the rent. As a temp, I worked at a place that did 401(k) plan administration, and I really liked that. But I’m not sure what kind of training I’d need to get a job like that.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      This so sucks, I am sorry.

      I’d like to suggest that you look at what is RIGHT with you, as that may get you out of this bad space quicker. What are things that people say you naturally do well? What do you gravitate toward in your spare time? Think about the random compliments you have received over your life. Food for thought, you don’t need to answer here.

      Let me toss one more at you- just because we CAN do a job does not mean we have to take that particular job. Sometimes fear can drive us to make decisions we would not make otherwise. Look at your jobs and ask yourself, “If I had more luxury in choosing would I have chosen any of these not-so-hot jobs?” Again, just food for thought.

      1. Emac*

        I really like this suggestion.

        There’s nothing wrong with *you*, but the jobs might have been the wrong fit. I can imagine in the space you’re in now, it would be easy to just focus on the negative. If you can fight against that, though I know it can feel exhausting in some circumstances, hopefully you’ll have more stamina for the search.

      2. bassclefchick*

        Yeah, there are 1 or 2 jobs I would not have taken if I had the choice. Fear is a terrible thing.

      3. Evergreen*

        Great suggestion – it might also help once the ‘what are my skills’ list is nearing completion to look at what are the downsides and opposites of those skills (e.g someone who’s dynamic and proactive might sometimes be brusque or rude) and help identify roles that will be a good fit

    4. Anxa*


      I have been referred to employment training programs so many times that I’m never quite eligible for. It sucks. I have a B.S. so that disqualifies me from most things (I’m in the US, and the employment departments still haven’t seemed to gotten the memo that college degree =/= job). Also, a lot of retraining programs are really only for people who have worked full-time jobs in targeted industries that disappeared, not really for people like me that never really got a toe-hold or worked in industries with a much subtler fade away. Or I was unemployed but not on unemployment so not “officially employed.” (Or I had a job, but only part-time).

      1. bassclefchick*

        Yup, I have a B.S. AND an Associate’s degree. So, it’s a struggle. If luck had gone a bit more my way, those 2 degrees should have set me up with a nice career, but the fear of not paying my rent made me choose jobs that would pay the bills, not ones that would help me in the long run.

    5. Unhappily Unemployed*

      I was referred to a federal program called “Experience Works” last fall. It sounded great, I met their age and income guidelines, turned in all the required paperwork and was looking forward to starting. The people I would be working with seemed wonderful. Then I was told there was a “freeze.” I finally learned that the program has experienced massive financial cuts. Supposedly, they won’t be able to take any more new applicants until their new fiscal year starts in July. I certainly hope I’ve found a halfway decent job before then.

      1. Anxa*

        Ah yes! That was another one of my issues! Some people who lost their jobs got free associate’s degrees because they lost their jobs in mid to late summer. Lose it after Thanksgiving and the money’s pretty much gone (unless you’ve already started a program). Timing is everything.

        I was gonna say they should have told you, since there’s always the end of the fiscal year issue, but now I’m wondering if it’s because 2010 was a year of a lot of cuts, a bit of a delayed government reaction to the crash and there are some years where it’s better.

  8. StevieIsWondering*

    Thank you everyone who reassured me a few Fridays back that HR would not challenge me on unemployment. THANK YOU! I had a meeting with HR about something else, and without me asking, HR encouraged me to apply for UI as soon as my job ends this month! I had been projecting from a previous terrible experience.

    So my question for the commentariat today: What would you make sure to do at work in your last month employed? Thank you everyone!

    1. LKW*

      Set up a robust transition plan that includes all of your tasks, key contacts or people involved with those tasks, where the information about those tasks is stored and the frequency of said task. Then meet with whomever is taking over your responsibilities and show them the plan and walk them through each topic and while you’re sitting there, document that you covered that information on a specific date.

      If they don’t show up for the meetings document that too.

      Send the completed transition to your boss so they know that you did what you could before you left to reduce “Oh SteveieIsWondering used to do that – and he just never told anyone how to do anything before he left.”

      1. StevieIsWondering*

        Thanks for your response. I should clarify that my job is getting eliminated, but there is knowledge about my work that only I know of and would be relevant for others to have, so this is definitely a good idea!

    2. ArtsNerd*

      In addition to LKW’s points (including passwords to software and online services!) … don’t kill yourself getting it done. Just do what you can do in the time you have available. I know I’m not the only one who’s burned themselves out transitioning out a role.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I’ll agree with don’t burn yourself out trying to think of stuff. If you get the most of it or you get the really important stuff you have done well.
        One temp position I left, I had my keys, passwords, contacts and status of current projects. Then I had a short list of projects on the horizon. This worked into a huge information dump that would have overwhelmed some people. Fortunately, the guy I was handing off to was brilliant so he got it and he was appreciative.

      2. LKW*

        Totally agree – that’s why the plan can include things that are in progress. You don’t have to complete them, just make sure someone knows it has to be completed, where to find the info, etc.

    3. ArtsNerd*

      Now, outside of the office, I would go see ALL OF THE DOCTORS. Not sure if you’re in the US / your health insurance is tied to your employer, tough.

    4. Marisol*

      If there are contacts you want to maintain, I’d make sure to reach out to them and schedule lunch, coffee, etc. so that you don’t just vanish from the scene on them.

    5. Danae*

      I’m in the same position (my job is ending at the end of the month, boo! But with any luck, I will find something that pays more consistently, and I have a financial cushion), and I agree about the doctor thing–go see all of them! Otherwise, do what you can, document what needs to be documented, and if there’s something being left undone, make sure that your boss knows.

      The other thing I’m doing is reaching out to folks I’ve worked with here and asking if they’ll be a reference for me, now that it’s known that I’m being laid off. I’ve got two really solid references from this job now, which makes up for the fact that my manager from the job before this one isn’t responding to my email.

      (And, funny-ish story–I IMed one of the folks I’ve worked with extensively on a prior project, and she was happy to be a reference…and casually mentioned as an aside that her last day with my company was soon. I had no idea they’d laid her off too!)

  9. AnotherAlison*

    I’ve mentioned several times on here my aggravation at losing my office 1.5 years ago. I’m still with the same company and in the same role, but I’m getting my office back next week. This is really great since I bought a stand-up desk conversion this week and now everyone can see my monitors from the break area.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      Ugh, that sucks. I’m sorry.

      I recently moved to a different cubicle to get more privacy. The same week, my coworker arranged a stand-up desk in her cubicle. When she uses it, she can see right into mine. Thanks Jane.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Ha, thanks! Sorry to hear about your lack of privacy. My department is getting really excited about standing desks right now, but if more people go to it, it’s going to get weird for the people in cubes. I let the fact that people would be able to see my monitors keep me from doing it for a long time, but finally my neck pain was too much and I had to pull the trigger. The timing was serendipitous.

  10. Like to Breath*

    My company has been having problems with the business one floor below us smoking pot. Heavily. We will come in the next morning and if not the entire building, our entire floor will reek. They are in the music industry and we get the impression that they get together for late night jam sessions and will be smoking it all night.

    I have been told that even though my company owns the building there is nothing we can do about it. I gather because there is no way to prove who is actually smoking it (even though our security cameras always show the same people leaving at 3 or 4 am). Every time this happens I have to deal with headaches – or worse it sets off my asthma and I am sitting there coughing all day. I tried using fabreeze as it is unscented and made to eliminate odors but the last time I did a colleague very loudly and very rudely asked me not to do it again because it makes the situation even worse for her. If there is really nothing we can do to get them to stop (is there really NOTHING?) what can I do so that I don’t have to breath it in all day? As an aside, I have no windows near my desk, and have to keep the desk covered constantly so I can’t just get up and step outside for air without inconveniencing someone else.

      1. Like to Breath*

        It’s already done by time we come in to the office. They do it overnight while we are closed so again, we can’t catch them in the act.

        1. OhNo*

          But you can call at night, after you’ve left the office. Especially if you see them coming in as you’re leaving, you could wait a few hours and then call to report it.

          I know it might not work for a number of reasons, but it might be better than doing nothing.

        2. TootsNYC*

          You can call them and talk to them about long-term enforcement. If they know it’s happening, they can come by at night.

          There are also air-quality issues. Your landlord is a wuss; he can say, “if your space smells this bad, I’m ending your lease” or something. I’m pretty sure there’s a clause for ending a lease if the leaseholder is breaking the law.

          I wonder if there are ways YOU can tap into air-quality enforcement on your employer. But as you say below–they have trouble leasing the space, so they’re putting money before your health.

          An important lesson. For us ALL!!

    1. Murphy*

      I would find it surprising if there’s nothing to be done.

      Is it legal where you are? Because if it’s not, I would think there would definitely be something you can do.

      And even more so if your company owns the building and they are your tenants.

      1. Like to Breath*

        It is legal but you can’t smoke anything indoors. I think our managers chastise the managers every time, but they have a long lease and we’ve had a hard time getting a tenant for another floor so they don’t want to lose the money.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          Would moving the pot smokers to the other floor lessen the impact? That might be a potential solution.

        2. Natalie*

          If the refuse to terminate the lease, could they at least work to mitigate the impact? An HVAC contractor might be able to change something about the set up to reduce the amount of smoke/odor that’s coming into your office. At my last job we had to do that to re-route cooking smells from the restaurant, so it’s not like it’s only an issue for smoke.

    2. Gandalf the Nude*

      I don’t believe they can’t do anything about it. At the very least, they could end the lease and find new tenants. But if they’re dead set on not, would a desk fan help circulate the odor away from you?

      1. Like to Breath*

        I do have one and it helps a little, but as it’s winter it’s a little cold to keep it running all the time :)

        1. Gandalf the Nude*

          I had another comment that seems to have gotten stuck in moderation. But the gist of it was to put notes on doors or otherwise circulate a notice that “Someone in the building is smoking, which is causing respiratory issues for employees and tenants with asthma and other conditions. If you have any information about the cause of these odors, please let building management know.” Basically, if the company doesn’t want to address the issue head on, guilt the culprits into stopping.

          And then if they continue on, knowing they’re causing health problems for other people, escalate, escalate, escalate, and don’t feel a smidgen of guilt about it.

        2. Whats In A Name*

          Sometimes when my office gets stuffy I point my tiny little fan at the ceiling, so the air isn’t directly on me but it circulates. Maybe that would help as a short-term solution? Long-term solution would be for your company to grow a set and tell the tenant to stop or take some course of action.

      2. Gandalf the Nude*

        Or could y’all guilt them into knocking it off without actually pinning it on them? Put a note on every door to the effect of: “We think someone in the building is smoking marijuana, the odor from which is causing respiratory issues for several other employees and tenants. If you have any information that would help us resolve this issue, please let building management know. Thanks!”

        If they continue to cause problems knowing that it’s a health issue for other people, then escalate without feeling guilty.

    3. ArtsNerd*

      Yikes! Not cool.

      Also your company owns the building – of course they can do something about it. Your company doesn’t need to figure out who specifically is smoking. They need to tell their *tenant* that they need to figure it out or they’ll lose their lease.

      Not sure what you as an individual can do about this, though. I’m sorry.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, I don’t get why you guys have to figure out who is doing it. It’s their problem they have to figure it out.

    4. Addie Bundren*

      Oh my god. Of course they could do something about it–they’re just refusing. Seems like a blazing red flag to me.

    5. LiteralGirl*

      I would find out if it is legal to even smoke in public buildings in your city/state. Don’t approach it as a pot thing, but a smoking thing. I live in a state that has legalized the devil’s lettuce (that’s what my daughter calls it), which is fine, but I really hate to smell it and would be super annoyed if I had to be around the aroma all day.

    6. RVA Cat*

      If your company owns the building, could smoking (pot or tobacco) outside of designated areas be a violation of their lease? It is a fire hazard and your insurance would not be pleased, even if it’s not a police issue in your state/city.

      1. Anna*

        This. It is literally no different than if they were smoking tobacco. Chances are pretty good they wouldn’t be so cavalier about it if it were tobacco (which is so weird). The company can have a very firm conversation with the suspected group about stipulations of the lease.

      2. Like to Breath*

        They actually did set off the smoke alarms one day smoking by the freight elevator and the whole building had to be evacuated while the fire department checked it out and still management says they can’t do anything.

      3. AndersonDarling*

        There are usually vague clauses about decency and not impeding on the operations of neighboring businesses.
        Or, there should be a business hours section. If they are performing business after hours then they are breaking the lease agreement.
        But you can pay your attorney $100 to send a warning without referencing any particular lease clause.

    7. Ann O'Nemity*

      Sounds like a health issue. If your company isn’t willing to address this with their tenants then they need to make accommodations for you – air purifier, something.

    8. blackcat*

      Can you get a fancy HEPA filter to sit by your desk? I haven’t used one for weed related problems, but I have found it useful for other scents. And see if you can get your company to buy it–it seems like a reasonable request given your asthma (so this could rise to an ADA accommodation, if you want to go there).

      I’ll drop a link in a following comment.

      1. caryatis*

        Yes, this seems like a reasonable accommodation issue. Air purifier or they could move your desk (if there’s another area where you won’t smell it as much). Personally, I think it would be wrong to call the police for a victimless crime.

          1. Natalie*

            I think they mean victimless from a criminal standpoint. Violating whatever the relevant state’s Clean Indoor Air law is would likely be a civil issue, rather than a criminal issue.

        1. tigerStripes*

          It’s still not legal to smoke it indoors. As someone who doesn’t want any of that stuff in my system, I don’t want to breath any of it. I don’t want to breath in any cigarette smoke either. Don’t the people who don’t want to inhale this stuff have rights, too?

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        Yes. An air filter is the easiest way to go. And I agree the company should supply it, especially if they are doing nothing about the code violation.

        I don’t know the answer to this, but because your company owns the building and there are laws against smoking anything indoors, would this be something that could be reported to OSHA?

      3. OhNo*

        I know someone who used one of those filters for both cigarette and weed smoke, and it seemed to work pretty well. At the very least, it deadened the smell somewhat. At the very least, it might be a good temporary fix while you figure out a more permanent one.

      4. Like to Breath*

        This seems like a great idea. I will talk to them today and see what their response is. Might end up getting one on my own just because this kind of thing moves slow here but it’s worth trying. Thanks!

      5. k*

        Totally make your company pay for it. They’ve dropped the ball by letting this go on. You can get a decent air purifier for under $100, so the very very least they could do is pop one of two of those around the office. Even as someone who doesn’t oppose people using weed recreationally (especially if it is legal there) it would drive me insane to have to smell it all day.

        Offices should be relatively odorless. These days many workplaces even have rules that you can’t wear strong perfumes or scents because it could bother people. It’s far from an unreasonable request to not have your office reek of drugs.

      6. TL -*

        Yes! Our downstairs neighbors smoke and we have one running full time that keeps our apartment not smelling like smoke (I’m allergic and it keeps me symptom free). Get several air purifiers, charge the company, and run them.

      7. Like to Breath*

        I talked to my supervisor and she was encouraging. She said that several other people in the office actually have them so she will take a look at what they have and see what she can do. Don’t know why it didn’t occur to me, but I am glad I posted the question!

    9. Temperance*

      There is actually plenty that can be done. It’s very clear that your business, as the building owners, could quite easily crack down on the downstairs tenants, asking them who is working overnight, because you have employees who are smoke sensitive. I mean, isn’t it violating the lease to smoke indoors?

    10. Master Bean Counter*

      Check the lease for a smoking clause. Often the smell of smoke is enough to charge them a fee for cleaning. But really this is a serious enough issue to put out there if they don’t stop smelling up the building their lease will not be renewed.

      1. TheLazyB*

        Oh fantastic. Charge them $150 for cleaning every night it happens and I bet they’ll stamp it out bloody fast.

    11. LawCat*

      I am shocked that the company’s position is that they can’t do anything about it. They can certainly investigate the source and take action from there as the owner of the property, my goodness. I would be taking sick or vacation time as soon as it triggered a health condition. “Hi boss, odors from marijuana trigger serious headaches and asthma. What is the company doing to address this?” If nothing, “I will need to leave the office until the odor clears so not as to jeopardize my health.” Ridiculous!

      If your company is not going to fix this, I’d start looking for another job.

    12. Yetanotherjennifer*

      It may be that the company can’t stop the smoking, but they could do things to stop the smell from spreading and perhaps at the same time clue in the culprits that their smoking is not invisible and is negatively affecting others. Although, the only thing I can think of is to install good air filters in the rooms where the smoking is happening. And you could have a smaller one at your desk. The company could also rent an ozone machine to really clean out the studio rooms. The hotel I used to work at used one to clean out non-smoking rooms that had been smoked in. They still had to change out all the linens and draperies but it made a difference. It’s not something you want to use on a regular basis though.

      I don’t buy febreeze but I think of it more as an odor masker vs an odor remover. Odor removers need to be sprayed directly on the odor molecules to work effectively. I use something called atmos clear, you can buy it on Amazon, and it works really well. It got vomit smell out of car seat straps. I don’t know that it would work well for what you need.

    13. animaniactoo*

      You can ask the company to buy an air purifier to sit either on or near your desk, these generally look like upright fans and do a fairly good job of minimizing odors (particularly long-term lingerers) in a fairly short amount of time. There are a number of pretty decent ones in the $70-$100 range. Note: To be most effective for you, it should either be allowed to be left on overnight, or to be started up about an hour before you get there.

    14. Stellaaaaa*

      It’s your boss/the building owners who don’t want to deal with it. That’s why they’re lying and saying that nothing can be done when they absolutely can take action. The lease most likely prohibits the buying, selling, and use of drugs on premises. There are valid security reasons to know who is utilizing the building after standard business hours. My suspicion is that the label is paying premium rent prices and also made a claim of “needing” to work nights for noise reasons.

      Do you know around what time the label employees show up and start smoking? I’d make an anonymous call to the cops at that time. You could also have your doctor write a note stating that you can’t be in a building with weed smoke. It’s not up to you to spend your own money on fans or to find ways to adjust yourself around people who are breaking the law.

      1. Like to Breath*

        Ha! If only I could. They thankfully don’t do it every day, so I never know when I will be greeted by the stink. And the times change too. This Wednesday they left at 3, but I’ve seen anywhere from 2am to 7, mere minutes before the first of my colleagues makes it in.

    15. Emac*

      Could you file a complaint with your state’s department of health? I did a quick look and found info on this for Ohio, and it sounds like your company might be the ones who would be paying the fine, since they own the building. Maybe giving them information like that will encourage them to do something!

    16. Not So NewReader*

      The cops need to go to the building at 3 or 4 am when people are there or just leaving.

      Maybe OSHA can help in some way?

      You can try putting out bowls of vinegar at night before you leave. It might help a little.

      This biz must have an attorney, maybe the owner can talk to his attorney to look for ideas?

      With your breathing difficulties I don’t see how you can stay working there. But I am not sure that is something you can tell the boss. However, I look at my friends who have been indulging in some weed for 30 plus years and I know I don’t want to be breathing in that second hand smoke.

      I suspect that because of the weak excuses as to why they cannot solve the problem, there is more to this story.

    17. rubyrose*

      They can do a lot, they are just choosing not to.

      I like the idea of putting the responsibility on your company to pick up the tab to accommodate you. Love the HEPA filter idea, and ADA accommodation. Could this also be considered something covered by work comp? I mean, it is causing harm to physical health.

    18. Artemesia*

      I can’t believe that whoever rents the space is not responsible for what goes on there. It doesn’t matter WHO is smoking if it is being done the leasee is responsible. If the landlord doesn’t act, it isn’t because she can’t but because she won’t. I would hate to call the cops but you might have no choice at some point. It would of course have to be done while it was happening. (maybe drop them a note suggesting they get vaporizers since the smoke is causing problems elsewhere in the building. If they shift to vaping everybody will be happy.)

    19. ST*

      One thing that would concern me – if I ended up leaving work smelling of wacky tobaccy every day. If you got pulled over for a California stop, for example, is it strong enough in your clothes that a cop would smell it?

      Is it strong enough that you get a contact high? Over time, might you get enough accumulation in your system to fail a drug test? (probably not, as it gets out pretty quickly, but your HR department may not know that, so you could suggest it).

      Also, set timers for lights around the building to come on and off at night. Let the paranoia work on them. . .

  11. Soon to be ex-LSCO*

    Right AAM-ers, I need your advice.

    I start a new job on Monday. It’s in a completely different industry, but I’ve been hired on my transferable skills and general personality. It’s not a technical role, although obviously I’ll need to get familiar with their systems, processes etc.

    In previous jobs I’ve generally been a mediocre employee – not great, but not outstanding. With this new role, I really want to excel. The organisation is well-known for nurturing talent, has a clear career progression pathway and prides itself on promoting from within. Many roles are only advertised externally after an internal recruitment campaign has been unsuccessful. It’s important to me to excel at this job and with this organisation; it seems like a great fit for me.

    So my question is – how can I go about making a good impression in my first few weeks on the job? What habits should I be proactively trying to form, which will stand me in good stead for the future? Conversely, what habits should I try not to develop?

    Thanks all!

    1. LKW*

      Listen. Take notes, ask follow up questions.
      Look at how the organization functions in different scenarios. How are meetings conducted? What’s the standard behavior. Follow where you see excellence, look to subtly improve where you see opportunity.
      Don’t come in as a know it all (doesn’t sound like you would) who is going to make everyone recognize you are a superstar. Show don’t tell. Listen before you speak. Mimic good behaviors of those in leadership, minimize repeating bad behaviors (e.g. go through proper channels if there is an issue, don’t escalate to a VP when it needs to go to a manager first.)
      Listen. Use active confirmation or what ever it’s called “So, if I understand this correctly, this is the process….”

      Did I mention listening?

      1. Karanda Baywood*

        Yes to the above! write down everything if you, like me, have lost memory cells overs the years. Plus it makes you look more engaged. Look people in the eye and be pleasant always.

      2. Jenbug*

        I’m gonna second the Take Notes. And I would recommend maybe reviewing your notes in the evenings/reorganizing them. Having trained numerous people over the years, there is nothing more frustrating than having someone ask you the same question multiple times.

    2. anon for hubs*

      Any insight on what made you mediocre rather than great in your prior roles? That’s probably a good place to start.

      Generally speaking, when learning new processes, take good notes and ask questions. It’s always a little unsettling when you’re training people on something with a lot of detailed steps and they take no notes. You know there’s no way they’re going to remember and then you feel like they’re wasting your time. Also do your best to remember names as much as possible when you’re meeting new people, and pay a lot of attention to little office norms (how much people socialize, whether they’re sticklers about time or more laid back, etc.).

      1. Soon to be ex-LSCO*

        I think previously, I was just working for a paycheck and that was it – I just wasn’t enthused about the work, or the job. This time it’s different, so the motivation is there to do a good job.

        Taking notes seems to be a popular theme, and generally it’s something I’m not so great at, so I’m definitely going to do this. Thanks!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I do well with lists.
          Contact list be sure to write down memory trigger words so you know when to use the contact.
          Routine tasks list
          Today’s tasks- write this one each night for the next day. That way you know where you are going to start tomorrow. It makes you look sharp.
          Cheat sheet- passwords, code numbers etc. If you have not go a safe place to put it, keep it in your wallet.
          Weekly goals- you will probably have to create this as you go. Anything you encounter that you do not know what it is, put on your goal list for the week to learn what it is. Or at least to get a general idea of its existence.
          Learn people’s names and one thing about them. Ideally that one thing would be what they do at your new place. But any fact is fair game. Learning people’s names will make your look like you are on the ball.
          Keep an eye out to see what others are doing. This will help you with making less missteps. Also watch to see who is the most respected in the group. There is usually one person (maybe more) who is the go-to person. Figure out who that person is.

          You should go home tired every night. That is okay that means you are really pushing yourself along.

          1. Bonky*

            That’s good to hear, because right now I am so tired I could drop. It’s 7pm here, I’m taking a quick mental break by reading AAM, and I’m going to be back to work shortly. It’s been a long week.

        2. Golden Lioness*

          As someone who recently changed industries… do not underestimate the power of bringing a different point of view! That can be an advantage. Use you different perspective and experience to suggest improvements and efficiencies. Maybe new solutions to issues that still remain unsolved.

          I was recognized on my 1st performance review (5 months into my new role) for “asking hard but incisive questions”

    3. Hope*

      Pay attention to others, and get your cues from them. Once you’ve trained in the stuff you need to do your job (and even as you train), find ways to do your work more efficiently. Be curious but not invasive. Communicate clearly.

    4. NaoNao*

      Networking–get to know the names and faces you’ll work with. Maybe coffee breaks or lunch with key team members.
      Background research and process research–find all the wikis and knowledge bases and documents you can and read them!
      Use tools like Asana or Team Gantt to keep track of tasks and to-do lists
      Identify process improvement areas that you could proactively change or improve, make suggestions
      Attitude: never, never complain. When asked to do something, it’s “sure!” then figure out how to make it happen. Professional, competent, and helpful! are your key words
      Pick a “private” mentor/role model. Quietly and unobtrusively observe them as they go about their day—what and how are they doing what they do?
      Ask for your goals and keep a “work product” list and update it frequently–make sure you’re on track for your goals to not only meet but exceed. If the goals are vague stuff like “improve the profile of our business worldwide” make sure that many, or all, of your activities can be tied to those goals in some way.

    5. Susan*

      Congratulations on the new job! It will probably take longer than a few weeks to prove yourself, but it will make a good impression if you show interest in learning how to do the job. Pay attention to what people teach you, ask questions when you need to, and thank people when they help you. I have trained many new employees, and nothing annoys me more than when they look bored when I’m trying to show them something, or act like they’re doing me a favor by letting me train them. I highly recommend you turn off your phone or leave it in your car, because it will not look good if you are checking your phone every time people see you.

      You should also try to familiarize yourself with reference information. If you have downtime (and it’s pretty likely you will in those first few weeks), spend some time looking at the employee handbook, policies and procedures, the company intranet, etc. If you have a question about something, try to find the information yourself before you ask someone.

      Find out who the outstanding employees are, and look at what they do differently. What do they do that impresses people? What do they do that is really helpful to you? Try to model yourself after them.

    6. Red Reader*

      When I’m training someone new, I want them to listen, to take notes, to ask smart questions, and to not ask the same questions multiple times. (Note: “I know we talked about this six months ago, can you remind me –” is one thing. “What’s the difference between 59 and 91” for the third time in two days is an entirely different thing.)

      When they do come to me with questions, I will be over the MOON if they can give me some indication that they thought about the answer before asking me, such as “I checked (resource) and (website), and this looks right to me, but I’ve never seen this situation so I just wanted to check and see if there was a standard practice here before doing that.” I think I’ve seen it phrased around here as “don’t just bring me issues, try to bring me solutions too.”

      I want them to tell me if they aren’t getting what I’m explaining. I’ve been doing this for ten years, so if I forget you’re watching me and zoom from step A to D and you aren’t sure what my B and C were, don’t be afraid to go “Hey, I think I missed what you just did there, can you walk back through that a little slower so I can write it down?”

      If I provide you training materials and go “Read over (or watch or whatever) this before our training session, bring a list of any questions you have to the session,” and you haven’t read or watched whatever I sent you when the session rolls around? Major black mark. If, however, you have made notes on your handout, or have a list of questions “I saw you looked up a policy at the 15:30 mark on the video, can you send me the link to the archive for those?” for me, praises will be sung.

    7. animaniactoo*

      Okay, this may seem like an obvious one, but it apparently hasn’t been including to a friend of mine when she was working somewhere new. Be careful about the casual stuff while you’re still an “unknown quantity”. Don’t make personal phone calls at your desk even to setup a cable appointment, unless there is some clear way to indicate that you are on lunch/break. Don’t take an extra 10 minutes for lunch even though it seems to be fine for everyone else to do it. Stuff like that which seems relatively normal and no big deal? Wait a minimum of 2 months before you do any of them.

      1. Artemesia*

        Great advice. How you behave the first 3 mos sets an image that will see you indefinitely. So being absolutely on time, diligent, listening and observing and not suggesting changes in procedure until you understand current procedure. Being friendly and attentive. Working hard to get thing done and making sure to ask critical questions as you learn the new area and environment. And never play games on the computer, visit facebook, shop or take personal calls — stuff like that really forms an indelible impression. Think about what image you want others to have of you and then calculatively consciously present that way.

    8. You're Killing Me Smalls*

      A general rule I have found that is a good benchmark is trying to add some value to everything that passes through your hands.

      By that I mean, whatever information you receive and pass along, make sure you’ve done something to improve or enhance it, where appropriate — so for example, if I’m in marketing and I am recieving the latest version of something from an external vendor and then passing it up the chain to my manager, I might go through the document, first, and mark up areas that need correction or my own commentary, and then share with the boss with a note saying, “Hi, please see attached the latest draft from Vendor X. I’ve gone through and marked up some copyediting issues, as well as some in-house style areas they will need to address, as well as appending some comments around some issues we should be mindful of regarding the image selection. They’ll need our mark-up by XYZ date — looking forward to your thoughts! Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks, Soon to be ex-LSCO.”

      I’ve worked with people who do this, and I adore them, so I try to be a person who does this, too.

      Congrats on the new job, and good luck!

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

      It’s better to say you can’t or don’t know how to do something rather than over-promise and under-deliver, especially in the beginning. I would make your own progress report of what you are working on — even if your manager doesn’t require you to — just so you get a good feel about what you are able to accomplish in a day/week and where you might need to improve. This is also good to have on hand in case your manager does ask for an update unexpectedly. It shows that you are organized and aware of what is expected of you. If you have a performance review at some point, this will give you a good idea of what your own strengths and weaknesses are, and a document to refer to if the boss has developed a different opinion.

  12. bohtie*

    I’ve been tasked with starting an internship program at my library from scratch. I’ve been in this field for 11 years and am really experienced at my job but have ZERO supervisory experience – my only work re: internships was that I did a bunch of them in grad school. Any offhand tips on how to set up a program that doesn’t suck? thanks y’all

    1. StevieIsWondering*

      How many interns is your library seeking to hire? Conduct a needs assessment of the different departments at your library, then approach it by project, and larger institutional goals. What’s in the backlog? What’s coming down the acquisitions pipeline? Who’s teaching a class and needs help organizing it? How can the catalog better facilitate access? How is the social media operation going? Etc.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      Here’s my Library Intern mantra: The Intern must get out of the experience the same value as the Library gets out of having the Intern.

      I always start my interns off with a conversation about what they want to learn. Often, they have no clue. So, I give them general work for a few weeks and then have the convo again. My goal is to give them a project they can complete, plus a long enough amount of time on something that they can really learn how to do it. For example, one day on ContentDM isn’t going to teach you ContentDM.

      After that, I would say interviewing is critical, as is finding supervisors who actually want to supervise Interns. I love working with library students, but I know some folks who hate it.

    3. Cassandra*

      If there’s a library/information graduate program in your area, ask them for advice. (If you are an MLS-holder — I don’t want to assume, you didn’t say what your grad program was — don’t hesitate to contact your alma mater also.) We see and set up a lot of internships and have all the resulting horror stories and pet peeves.

      In general, keeping the intern at the forefront of your mind while planning will rarely lead you wrong. HUGE RED FLAG and I encourage you to push back good and hard if you sense the main reason you’re being asked to do this is “free (semi-)skilled labor!” It is similarly red-flaggy if the library is doing it to fill in staff skills gaps in areas staff won’t touch — except for clear, discrete, time-limited jobs (like “migrate the website to the new CMS”) that you might otherwise hire a contractor for, this is a recipe for library staff rejecting/resenting the intern and their work.

      Please pay your interns. Please. Unpaid internships in the information professions are a salary-dampener overall. Free labor undercuts paid labor. Please pay your interns, and take their professional-development needs seriously.

    4. OhNo*

      Base the first couple of internships around projects, not just daily grind work. That gives the intern ownership of their work, makes it a little easier to assess their performance, and will help you screen them during the hiring process. It also gives you a clear end to the internship.

      To be clear, I’m only suggesting that because you don’t have a lot of supervisory experience and this is a program you’re starting from scratch. From my experience interning in libraries, having an ongoing and difficult to quantify job, combined with with an inexperienced supervisor and an untested internship program, can make things way harder than they need to be. Practice with one or two project interns first, then move to more long-term arrangements that make sense for your library.

    5. Tuckerman*

      I supervise library interns and have shaped the program. My advice, do not hire too many interns. Keep in mind that if you have 2 interns at 20 hrs/week each, you need to create/assign/oversee 40 hours of work per week, on top of your own work load. The last thing you want is for them to be sitting, twiddling their thumbs. Your library may have a huge backlog, but you might not have the time to train interns on how to do that work.
      Also, create a training schedule for the first few shifts. Make it detailed, down to 15 minute increments. It sounds like overkill, but it will make training so much easier and get everyone off on the right foot.
      Finally, something I like to do. Have them research jobs they want, and make a list of required and desired qualifications for those jobs. Create a document with those qualifications as headers. At weekly check ins, write down the things the intern worked on, and after, put them under the relevant headers. (If “teaching experience” is a requirement, you might add, “taught a class of Freshman Biology students how to determine medical subject headings.) At the end of the internship, you can hand them this document so they have concrete examples of how they meet these qualifications. It also helps jog my memory when being a reference.
      Good luck! We have had amazing interns.

    6. Chaordic One*

      Librarians are unusually good about sharing information amongst themselves. If you or your library belong to a state library association, they probably have a list serve where you could post a request for guidelines from other libraries that have intern programs. I would think that they would be happy to show you their guidelines and you might well be able to adapt some of them to fit your unique library and situation.

      You might even check out the American Library Association website. I know that our local library found some information about having teen interns help with a summer reading program that they downloaded from the website.

  13. Eric*

    Hi everyone! Happy Friday!

    I have a question about networking. I’m looking for a job, and I know a few people who work at companies I’d like to work at, and in my field. When I say “I know,” I mean that I see them at industry meetups/events fairly frequently, and talk with them on Twitter or other social media regularly. More than just having met them once.

    How do I start the conversation about whether their company is hiring? I’m going and kind of awkward. Would it be too direct to say “Hey X, I’m looking for a new job. Is your company hiring people for Y?”

    Thank you!

    1. Eric*

      My phone corrected “I’m young and kind of awkward” to “I’m going and kind of awkward.” Sorry about that.

    2. AMT27*

      I think that saying you’re looking and asking them to get in touch if they know of any opportunities that you might be a good fit for should be fine. And include exactly what it is you are looking for, just in case – you dont want to waste capital for a bunch of leads that aren’t quite what you were looking for.

      1. Eric*

        Good! Thanks! I guess saying “hey, I’m looking, is YourCompany hiring for MySkills?” comes off much differently when the other person knows who I am and what I can do.

  14. HR guy*

    How normal is it for a company to refuse to have anything to do with external recruiters or headhunters when they are hiring? The company I work at refuses to have anything to do with recruiters and only accepts applications from the applicant themselves. They also will only post open jobs on our website and will not post or advertise open positions anywhere else, and applications are only accepted through our website. If an applicant goes through other channels they are automatically excluded from the job competition, no matter how good their resume is. Same if there is a recruiter or anyone besides the applicant is involved. These are official policies in the company handbook and the company takes them very seriously. Also the company doesn’t have anyone who works here that is an internal recruiter, the job of working on job postings and hiring folks to whoever in HR is available to do it that day.

    Just wondering if this is weird or not? For context this is my first job after college graduation and my first job in HR. I’ve worked here for 7 months and the company has several branches and around 800 employees.

    1. SophieChotek*

      Not sure how normal.

      I would think it would cut down on applicants (just because people aren’t finding duplicate postings all over — like Indeed, etc.) I would think in some ways it might cut it down to people interested in working for your company or at least knowing enough about your company to actively search the company’s website to see about employment opportunities.

    2. Audiophile*

      I’ve seen a lot of companies not want to use headhunters or recruiters. That being said, I’ve still seen them post on LinkedIn, Indeed, Idealist, etc. You can setup those postings to revert back to your website, I’ve seen it done a lot.

      I think it’s a little strange not to have an internal recruiter, is HR screening applicants at all?

    3. Eric*

      I’m not in HR but I’ve worked at a few companies that don’t work with recruiting agencies. I think the proliferation of low quality boiler room recruiting firms is the cause of this.

      Not posting the jobs on any other sites does sound strange, though. Do you know why this is?

      1. Manders*

        Yes, I think one bad experience can turn a smallish business off external recruiters for good.

        Anecdata: when I was hired at my previous job, my boss mentioned that they’d used a recruiter but the person they sent could barely use a computer or a phone. After that, they decided not to work with recruiters. I was signed up with the same recruiting agency, but they never put me forward for any jobs, and I was hired after I submitted an application on my own. I have no idea what’s going on inside a lot of those low quality recruiting firms, but they’ve burned a lot of bridges not just for themselves but for their whole industry.

          1. Eric*

            That’s true! I’ve also worked at huge Fortune 50s that don’t use external recruiters too. 800 employees is enough to have a few recruiters on staff, depending on growth, etc. Though it doesn’t sound like this organization does.

    4. anon for hubs*

      I don’t think it’s entirely uncommon to not work with external recruiters; companies who have no trouble getting talent on their own typically don’t want to pay external recruiting fees which can be pretty high.

      If the company has a bunch of documented policies on this that are taken seriously it sounds like there are deliberate reasons for this; have you asked your boss or anyone else at the company about the rationale?

    5. Lily in NYC*

      It is very normal! Most companies are not willing to pay their fee, which is usually at least 25% of the new hire’s annual salary. My company used to use them when we had a tiny HR dept., but now that we have a full HR team, we would never deal with a recruiter. The only time we do is if we like a temp and want to hire him/her full time. But even then, we usually wait for 6 months because then we can hire them without paying a fee (because we’ve been paying the agency to have the person as a temp; I don’t mean we go around them in a shady way to get out of paying). But your company has such a strong policy that I find it weird that they don’t have at least one internal recruiter.

    6. JMegan*

      I’ve never worked anywhere that uses external recruiters, except for CEO-type positions. Everything else goes through internal HR only.

    7. CAA*

      It’s pretty common to not work with external recruiters for low to mid level positions, especially if you are able to get enough qualified applicants without them. External recruiters are very expensive, increasing the cost of a hire by anywhere from 20% to 35% of that person’s salary. Also, if your company does government contracting, then these fees are unrecoverable expenses that mess up your overhead ratios.

      Since your company has decided not to use external recruiters, they cannot accept any resumes that come in from a recruiter unsolicited. If a candidate is first submitted by a recruiter, then legally that recruiter owns the candidacy and can claim the fee if you hire the person, even if the candidate also submits a resume through your website. You must be very strict about this and refuse to interview anyone who has been submitted by a recruiter unless you have a signed release from the recruiter’s firm.

      Unless you’re hiring 5 or more people per month, it probably doesn’t make sense to have a full-time recruiter on staff, and this kind of thing usually does fall to HR. I do think you should post open jobs on other sites, Indeed is free, but it really depends on whether you get enough viable candidates for your positions without doing that.

    8. De Minimis*

      We don’t do it when we’re looking to hire full-time. We require that people apply through our website [though we place ads on job sites that give the link.]

      I get the feeling we might use a headhunter for higher level roles if one was available, but it seems like when that does happen we tend to fill those positions without posting an ad and just reach out to someone who is already in the organization’s network.

    9. Dzhymm, BfD*

      I can see how a company might want to heavily discourage the use of recruiters… they can be expensive. You can also run into potential problems if the same candidate comes in both direct and through a recruiter, or through more than one recruiter. That said, the practice of round-filing *any* resume that doesn’t come in through the single approved channel is highly unusual and is probably costing them good candidates.

      All I can think is that someone somewhere along the line got really paranoid about dueling recruiters and the appearance of nepotism and enshrined that in the company handbook…

    10. HR guy*

      HR screens the applicants once the posting has closed, and sends all the ones that look like they meet the qualifications to the Supervisor of the branch that is hiring. The Supervisor picks out the candidates they want to interview and HR contacts them to set up the interview. After the interview the Supervisor lets HR know which candidate (if any) they want to send an offer to and HR works with them to put together an offer and then calls the candidate to let them know. The process is the same for internal candidates. If it’s for a position at director level there are two interviews instead of one. Whoever is available in HR that day will be asked to screen resumes, contact candidates for interviews or offers etc. My boss says this system has always worked for the company and that there is no need to use interval or external recruiters, or other outside help.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          For lower-level employees like a receptionist or an entry-level admin, why would you need two? Exjob was the only place I’ve ever had two interviews (not counting a phone screen, as most of them were very cursory). That was a departmental admin position, a little higher up on the scale than one who would also answer the phone, if the company didn’t have a dedicated receptionist.

          OldExjob hired plant people (and me) the same way. Application, a small test where they had to do math and show they could measure, and interview. Thank God I didn’t have to take the test–I would have failed miserably.

      1. Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys*

        While overly rigid yet not quite organized, I don’t see anything too unusual except not having someone dedicated to each job posting ahead of time. It sounds like one of two things to me. The first is they’ve been sued before by an applicant or third party recruiter so they are protecting themselves with a strict process. OR, more likely, the company is deciding not to put any money into the talent acquisition process which could eventually hurt them. They are limiting the talent pool to only those that know your company already or the networks of the employees you already have. It’s a pretty narrow pool and can lead to a more homogenous workplace (I mean in skill level and ideas, though can affect the diversity of the organization too). If the company grows or starts having a lot of attrition, they will probably find that this is not scalable. A good recruiter is able to find candidates anywhere. If you won’t consider them because they didn’t go to the website first, that is just another way you are cutting good candidates. You can always call them and ask them to go to the website to apply so you can officially consider them.

        I also agree with AAM’s comment that external recruiters do not screen as well. They can provide good candidates, but their motivation is the fee, not your company’s wellbeing.

    11. Sibley*

      In my industry (finance/accounting), those practices would mean they’d have zero employees. Recruiters are HEAVILY involved, and there’s enough demand that I wouldn’t even consider that company. I don’t think I’ve even looked at a company’s website for positions.

    12. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Very normal not to work with recruiters (I don’t — I’ve always found they don’t screen candidates as well as we’d do internally), not normal at all to refuse to advertise anywhere other than the company website.

      1. Bonky*

        When I work with recruiters I use them to deal with actually posting the ad (to my very precise specifications), sending apologies or organising interviews/offers, organising candidates into a browsable database and filtering on a very broad basis. (Our organisation uses externals for all HR functions, and this comes under that umbrella.) Basically, the only people they’re allowed to screen out themselves are those who explicitly haven’t followed the instructions: so no writing samples or portfolio where they’ve been asked for one, no cover letter when they’ve been asked for one (I am always shocked at how many of these there are) etc. Even this level of help, without the screening, saves me a lot of time.

        Temp agencies are another matter altogether, and I’ve found that the quality of candidates really, really depends on what we’re recruiting for. I’ve a good relationship with an agency which has sent me some stellar candidates for junior and senior administrative roles. But sadly, sourcing good candidates outside HR, sales floor and admin seems to be difficult for that agency, even though they represent themselves as being able to recruit for other roles.

    13. Can't Sit Still*

      The only red flag would be if your company had been blacklisted by recruiting agencies or headhunters, which is extremely rare. Otherwise, it’s totally normal to not use them. Many companies prefer to deal with candidates directly for a variety of reasons.

      If a company has been blacklisted, you would want to find out why, because blacklisting is the nuclear option for agencies and headhunters. It’s not done lightly.

    14. Chaordic One*

      It’s extremely common for companies not to have anything to do with external recruiters or headhunters when they are hiring. While the quality of applicants who come from external recruiters or headhunters can be questionable, the bottom line is that most companies are very cheap and unwilling to invest in such services.

      When I was an admin in HR, the usual procedure was to first advertise open positions on the company website and then, if there were not suitable applicants, to start advertising in local newspapers, in trade papers and even through the state job service. (Open positions would usually be copied form the state job service to other job boards, but we never actively posted the information there.) The advertisements always referred people back to our website.

      We did not insist that people apply through our website, though. If they were invited to an interview based on their resume, they would have to fill out an application prior to the interview when they showed up. Applications for open positions were sent to the various departments were the people would work and HR was not involved with the actual hiring decisions. The only time HR actually hired someone was for positions in HR.

  15. Achil*

    Quick “What would you/should you do in this situation” question: I was at work this week when my pants ripped! Absolutely mortifying obviously but luckily they ripped in a place you couldn’t see no matter if I were walking, sitting or standing and I had some stuff in my office that could momentarily patch it up but it was a perfect storm of bad circumstances: just after lunch so I couldn’t use that to go out and grab another pair, I had taken my extra sent of clothes out of the car for washing just the other day and I don’t live near by so I can’t just run and grab replacements from home. After I fixed it I was thinking what would you tell you boss in that situation in order to go home or go to a nearby store (if there is one, here there is not) and get a new pair of pants that still comes off as professional? I couldn’t really think of one besides lying and saying I wasn’t feeling well and need to leave early but there must be a better way than that surely?

    1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      I would feel comfortable using the term “wardrobe malfunction” with my bosses to express the general issue without having to go into exactly what happened.

      1. Emi.*

        Yeah, that should cover it (no pun intended). I’d hear that as a very clear DON’T PRESS FOR DETAILS signal. Although it’s unclear to me why you needed to leave if it was an invisible rip.

      2. MWKate*

        I have used ‘wardrobe malfunction’ in this exactly situation. “Hey Edna, I’ve had a wardrobe malfunction and I need to step out for a bit. I expect to be back in X minutes.”

        Even my normally nosy boss (e.g. what is wrong with you – when you call in sick) was just like, ok go deal with it.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      Hey, things happen, and a reasonable boss should understand that. In that situation I would just tell my boss, “Hey, this is really mortifying, but my pants just ripped. I’m going to run over to Target and grab another pair, and I’ll be back in half an hour.”

    3. LKW*

      I have safety-pinned, taped and even stapled ripped clothes as needed. It’s comical but it happens. When it happens, if it’s small ask around the office if anyone has a sewing repair kit like the kind hotels used to provide or a safety pin. If it’s big – suck it up and say “I’m having a wardrobe malfunction. I’m embarrassed but I need to go home and deal with this. I’m sorry and I’ll make up the work.” Then bring in a repair kit just in case.

      If this is happening a lot – get better or looser or better and looser clothes!

    4. Becca*

      As embarrassing as it is, if you have a reasonable boss, you could just tell them your pants ripped and you want to run and grab a different pair! These things happen, just like flat tires, and bosses *should* be understanding enough to let you fix the situation discreetly. Particularly if there’s any kind of dress code or if it’s a public-facing role!

      1. Artemesia*

        I’d rather have the boss know I ripped my pants than imagine I’d crapped my pants because I was so vague about why I needed to rush out to change pants.

    5. Temperance*

      I would staple the hole if it was at a seam. I’ve done that before.

      A while ago, I sat on a bus seat that was, for some reason, soaked in deodorizer. I thought I was just sweaty because it was summer. I was not sweaty, I was covered in stank bus deodorizer, which I realized halfway throughout the day when I kept smelling it and put it together.

      I ran out to buy a new outfit. I had already gone to a lunch meeting, but the benefits of not stinking all day outweighed the costs of sneaking out to go shopping.

      1. K.*

        My friend did this! He wears suits to work so buying just a new pair of pants for that day was a no go. He stapled the hole and prayed it would hold up for the rest of the day (it did). He was able to have those pants repaired and brought in an extra suit the next day that he leaves in his office, just in case.

    6. kbeers0su*

      I regularly (probably once a week) imagine what I would do if this happened.

      I agree with the “wardrobe malfunction” language. If it’s bad, I would just ask to leave for the remainder of the day since I have a 30 minute commute and wouldn’t want to add an hour of driving in the middle of my day.

    7. anon for hubs*

      I would have no problem saying my pants ripped. I think it would be more awkward to talk about something like a period leak, so I’d prob use wardrobe malfunction or something similar in that case.

    8. Lily in NYC*

      You just tell them the truth! I sat on a donut once at work and it didn’t even cross my mind to make up a different excuse as to why I had to leave the office suddenly.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          It was pretty funny. Someone left me a donut on my chair as a gift and I didn’t see it and sat down. I felt a squish and was so scared to look down.

      1. Formica Dinette*

        I don’t know which is worse: getting donut all over your pants and chair or wasting a perfectly good donut.

    9. Kai*

      I’ve considered keeping an old pair of work pants that I don’t care about at work for exactly situations like these!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I actually did at one job. I had pants and feminine hygiene items in my car.

        You can get a cheap sewing kit and keep it in your desk drawer.
        I keep a couple safety pins in my wallet.
        In cooler months, a long sweater might cover things up. If you have a sweater in a neutral color that might be useful.

        Finally, I got to the point where I would test my clothes before I left the house. And anything else that was beginning to show wear got tossed. Part of my problem was being too frugal and I was stretching the life of my clothes too far. Once I got a handle on that I had a lot less problems.

        1. Teapot librarian*

          Deodorant, tampons, and a pair of pantyhose. And of course advil/tylenol, but that’s just a given :-)

          1. Jules the First*

            Plus sewing kit (needle, thread, and a couple of boringly discreet buttons), antihistamines, safety pins, kleenex, and a Tide pen.

        2. Mirax*

          Seconding sewing kits and hygiene stuff. I keep both in my purse–even if I don’t need them, someone else might!

    10. Manders*

      If the job wasn’t client-facing and the pants weren’t in danger of falling off, I’d probably tie my cardigan around my waist or just safety pin/staple up the hole until the end of the workday. But that’s partly because I’m a weird size, and shopping for professional pants usually takes hours.

      If I absolutely had to get new pants, I’d just tell my boss that my pants ripped. Everyone’s been there, and any reasonable person would let you do what needs to be done.

    11. Taylor Swift*

      Why would you need to lie? I’d just straight up tell my boss that my pants ripped and I need to go acquire another pair somehow, be right back.

    12. Mephyle*

      I would keep an emergency sewing kit in the office.

      But things happen (massive rips, stains) that can’t be fixed that way, so if the sewing kit can’t handle it, I would say I have an emergency wardrobe malfunction. Is there a reason why the truth isn’t an option?

    13. On Fire*

      Sounds like you normally have extra clothes in your car, correct? I would recommend that when you take one set out for washing, you *at the same time* put another set in the car, so you always have that spare set. Or keep an extra suit in the office, as others have said.

      If it’s an obvious, not-fixable thing, just be up-front about it. I once spilled cheese-laden chili all.over my lap. Black skirt + cheesy chili = disaster, so I just told my boss, “I just dumped lunch in my lap, and it looks gross, so I’m going to go home. I’ll catch up tomorrow.”

      Another time, I was almost to the office and *then* realized I had forgotten my blazer (it was summer time; I always hung it over the passenger seat during the drive to work) and was only wearing a camisole-style tank. I had an hour-long commute each direction, so I texted my boss that I was a hot mess, had a wardrobe malfunction, and was going to work from home that day.

      If it’s something invisible, or easily fixed? Tape/staple/pin and carry on.

    14. Bonky*

      Ha – happened to one of the people I manage last year! She told me what had happened, we laughed about it, she went straight to the shops (a bus journey away, with my permission) to get a replacement.

      There were some joking suggestions that she should cover the appropriate portion of her thigh in with a black sharpie, but that was all they were!

    15. Bellatrix*

      Oooof! I work in a building that’s shops on lower floors and offices on higher floors, so I’d just run out for an extra pair and be gone for thirty minutes at most (I wouldn’t need to seek permission for that, people go grab food there all the time even outside of their lunch break).

      But that’s just my lucky situation – it sounds like a nightmare.

  16. Cheryl Blossom*

    What are your work hacks?

    Last time I asked this I learned about using outlook signatures to make email drafts!

    Share your best work tip that makes your life easier!

      1. Cheryl Blossom*

        If you have an email that you have to send frequently (like, a form or a standard response), save it as a signature in outlook. Call the signature “Form b” or whatever your email is about. Next time you need to send that standard note, open a new email, select that signature and BOOM! You have the text you need (just add in the right name and any other specificity details). Total time saver.

        I used this when I was working with specialty teapots and was receiving the same inquiry every day about how to brew tea in the specialty pot.

        1. PepperVL*

          There is actually an Outlook function specifically for that, called Quick Parts. You type what you want in an email, highlight it, and on the insert tab, click add to quick parts gallery. You can name it whatever you want to remember it by. Then in the future, insert, quick parts, select the email text you want to insert.

          1. Isben Takes Tea*

            Good to know this is available for parts, too! I just found the signatures shortcut more efficient, especially for routine long emails.

          2. Teapot librarian*

            Thank you for sharing this tip! One downside of using signatures for this purpose is you can only use one. I’m going to go set up a Quick Part right now!

            1. Jessica*

              Au contraire, you can have multiple signatures named different things. Not sure if there’s a limit, but I have two.

        2. E*

          You can also create template emails in Outlook, so if you send a monthly invoicing email you can have it all typed up and just update the relevant details, like month and $ amount.

        3. SCAnonabrarian*

          Oh my god this is amazing. I have a couple of these form-emails I have to send out regularly – this is a PERFECT way to deal with them and I’m sharing it with all my coworkers.

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      Word Macros. You can find VBA code for almost anything on-line and automate a million tiny annoying tasks.

        1. MoinMoin*

          I run a lot of reports that I then add formatting to- macros save time when I’m always doing the same font change, text size, freezing top row, adding filtering, insert column a, vlookup to column b, etc to each report.

    2. Emilia Bedelia*

      Excel everything!

      My firm belief is that Excel is capable of doing literally anything that I want it to. My favorite trick is the anchored countif column- useful for finding, sorting, and removing duplicates
      And of course, index/match- if you’re still using vlookup, please, do yourself a favor and look up index/match. It will change your lookup life.

      Also, my recent favorite discovery: I use OneNote to keep track of my to-do list. Turn on document linking – it will allow you to put a link to related files in your to-do list, so that when I want to restart a task, I can just click straight from my to-do list. So handy!

      1. Soon to be ex-LSCO*

        +1 to index/match. On the face of it it does the same thing as vlookup, and is a bit clunkier to learn. But it’s so much faster, removes the need for counting columns, or fixing your references at the start of a range. It has changed my life completely.

      2. NW Mossy*

        OneNote is my external brain, and I literally could not manage (both in the abstract and people-leading sense) without it. I take my laptop to all my meetings and make my notes directly in it, and it’s ideal for those stray “Oh, I need to tell Lucinda about that” or “Oh, I owe Fergus that info” thoughts ending up in a place where I’ll actually act on them. Taking notes in a physical notebook was worthless to me because I could never find anything again – OneNote is an awesome solution, and I evangelize for it all. the. time.

        My favorite OneNote discovery is that it can do simple math automatically. Type in “2+4=”, hit Enter, and it’ll return 6.

    3. Jenbug*

      I just learned about the signatures thing too! That’s awesome.

      Inbox Rules in Outlook make life so much easier. You can direct certain types of emails to a specific folder and keep your inbox clean. I helped one of my colleagues set this up and she was very grateful.

    4. Garrett*

      Random, but I love the Windows button + “L” key to lock your computer. So much faster than the other ways. Obviously this only works on PCs with Windows, but it’s a nice shortcut.

      1. Teapot librarian*

        I never thought to look up a keyboard shortcut for this, even though I love keyboard shortcuts and hate the hassle of clicking to lock my computer. Thank you!

        Related–for anyone who finds it incredibly frustrating that the default action is shut down or restart, you can change it to lock. I don’t remember what the process is, but it was easy and I found it easily via google.

    5. Gala apple*

      I pin my tabs in chrome. Everything I do is browser based, and I usually have at least 8 tabs open. Pinning some of them means they take up less room :).

      1. Toodie*

        Oh, thank you for this one! My life is all browser-based, too. I thought it was good enough to change my bookmarks so they are all just the icons, but this is … wonderful. Thank you!

    6. Isben Takes Tea*

      Taskbar Shortcuts in Windows
      I work in Windows, and I have my task bar set to the left of my screen and set it wide, so that no matter folders/documents I have open, I can always read the titles.

      I also put a folder of shortcuts on my desktop and added that folder set as icons only (right click > view > small icons / right click > [uncheck] show text) and other go-to folders as toolbars to the taskbar (right click > toolbars > new toolbar). Pictoral example in reply.

        1. LCL*

          I thought I was the only one! Added bonus is whenever I ask the help desk to remote in, they want to know what the he++ I did to the display.

    7. Bonky*

      We have a corporate instance of Gmail. I have an extension called Gmelius which allows me to snooze emails for a period of time so I can have them pop up at the top of my inbox on another day to deal with.

      A Chrome extension called Tabsnooze. A lot of my work is browser-based, and I use it to close a tab until Monday, when I’ll have to work on what’s in there; or to close it until next December, when I’ll have to write about the Christmas project that it covers. It means I can have work-necessary tabs like the social media and blog schedule or the management tool open all week, then snooze them at weekends to pop up on Monday, so I’m not obsessing about them when I work at the weekend. It’s magic for time and desktop management.

      1. Aglaia761*

        Boomerang is another great Gmail app that allows you to delay sending mail and to bring it back up the the top of the inbox if you haven’t received a response.

        The free version allows 10 messages a month. Not sure about the paid version.

    8. Lord of the Ringbinders*

      1. You can write notes to yourself on Slack. I use it to dump thoughts I’ll later add to Outlook or lists of stuff or whatever.

      2. When I search on Google and get a PDF, if I right click for the URL I just get gobbledegook. Well, I found out how to get the actual URL in Firefox. Hit control-J for your recent downloads, right click on the relevant doc and there’s an option to get the original address.

  17. Master Bean Counter*

    This week I moved to my own office. Aside from being excited that I’ve got walls and a door I’ve noticed something unusual. Now that my office is between my boss’s and the door, he stops to talk more. He’s talked to me more in 2 days than in the last year. I’m not complaining, but what a switch after having to drag information out of him for months.
    I have a bit of a fit problem with the new desk though. It’s 4 inches higher than my old desk. I’m short. But now I”m stuck between having my feet touch the floor or being high enough to type correctly. I’m trying to decide between bringing in something to set my feet on or getting an adjustable keyboard tray.

    1. Lovemyjob...truly!!!*

      I have an opposite issue…a shorter desk, tall body and there’s not a ton of leg room under the desk with the cords and such there too. I ended up getting a tiny foot stool which allows me to rest my feet on top of it so my legs are stretched out fully but still allows the cords and equipment under my desk to take up the floor space. It was worth the few dollars I spent for it. It’s cushioned too! Sometimes I kick off my shoes when stretching. It’s nice!!

    2. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      I just started using a footrest because I’m short and having these same issues and it’s been wonderful so far. I ordered a really simple one from Amazon and I think the most important feature is that it’s height-adjustable.

      1. halpful*

        I’ve got a problem/confusion with footrests: when my legs are in a neutral position, my heels overlap the chair-wheels area. I’d need a footstool both high enough and wide enough to go *over* the wheels (and then I’d need to move the desk a little higher, but that’s easy).

        If I try to use a footstool further forward, my legs are at an angle, so I end up pushing myself away from the desk when I put weight on the footstool (or pushing the footstool around when I actually want to move my chair)

        I’m starting to wish I had platform shoes or something. Or am I doing it wrong somehow?

    3. College Career Counselor*

      A diminutive colleague of mine got a small step for her feet some years ago–said it made all the difference in her back/neck/shoulder pain at work. The university had an ergonomics person who was helpful in making suggestions and bringing in samples of things for her to try out. Good luck finding what works best for you!

    4. CAA*

      I’ve done both. I prefer the keyboard/mouse tray because you can shove them back under the desk and still have space on the surface for papers.

    5. bohtie*

      seconding the stepstool-type-item idea – I’m 5′ and have to do this at pretty much every desk ever. You can get adjustable ergonomic ones for not an unreasonable amount of money.

    6. bohtie*

      ps. I feel you on the “suddenly, MY BOSS” thing. My last job, my boss talked to me maybe twice a year and always because she was mad about something I did. My current boss and I meet at least an hour a week specifically to discuss projects and usually several times in-between for informal discussions. It took a while to not feel like I was in trouble every time!

    7. Bonky*

      Footstool. I’ve actually brought in a leather Moroccan pouffe from home (it’s much higher than what was available from the office suppliers), which has absolutely saved my back.

    8. Spoonie*

      I feel you on the boss talking to you more thing. My department head has recently taken to speaking to me more also — it’s been a bit of a “you’re backing up. Oh you’re speaking. Am I in trouble…nope we’re commenting on weather. Phew.”

      I’ve used a footrest situation before — helps with some knee pain I have a gives me something to fidget with. I don’t have the height issue you do though. That rocking footrest someone mentioned looks like it needs a home under my desk…

    9. Teapot librarian*

      I would LOVE if I didn’t have to make a special trip to talk to my employees. Our office set up is such that only one of my employees has an office near mine, and I don’t pass theirs on the way to the restroom (or out of the building) and they don’t pass mine. I have a reminder on my calendar every day to walk around and check in with everybody, but I don’t always pay attention to it.

  18. Distracted*

    How do you focus at work when you have outside factors weighing on your mind? All I want to do is sit here and think about my possibly dissolving still-new relationship, the upcoming plays I need to prepare for because I’m on the board of the theatre and it falls under my responsibility, all the bills I need to pay, and what I’m still waiting on so I can file my taxes early. My distraction level is HIGH today…

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      I keep a list of things I need to do to keep me on task. When my mind starts to wander I just look back at my list.

      1. The One with the Brother*

        Yes! I rely heavily on to-do lists regularly, but they were especially important in the weeks after my brother died.

        1. The One with the Brother*

          And, specifically, I found it helpful to have both an uncoded to-do list and the same list (maybe with a few more specific items or larger tasks broken down into smaller tasks) that I also highlighted by priority with a key at the top. So, green was number one priorities, pink was number two, and so on.

      2. Beezus*

        I do this, and I also have a list in the back of my notebook for things I need to do or look up on my own time. I have an easier time pushing a personal brainteaser out of my mind if I’ve written it down where I can come back to it later. (I am REALLY bad at coming up with random questions I’m dying to know the answer to, that are unrelated to what I should be focusing on, and this is a lifesaver for that.)

    2. JMegan*

      Aw, I’m sorry to hear it. Sounds like you have a lot going on! I agree with Master Bean Counter – lists, lists, lists. A lot of people like Bullet Journal (you can google it) for keeping track of various kinds of lists, like when you want to keep your work stuff separate from your board stuff.

      1. Dankar*

        I second Bullet Journals as a solution. They seemed fad-y and silly to me until I decided to try one out. I put it down for a few weeks during a move and felt like I’d lost track of everything. I restarted one just this week and am already much more on-task than my entire first month in my new job. (AAM not withstanding.)

      2. TheLazyB*

        I love bullet journals. They help keep me organised.

        Also, yesterday in work I got dead annoyed about something. I allocated myself 2/3 of a page to rant about it (literally drew a box round it), ranted till I ran out of space, then carried on. Felt tons better once I’d got it out of my head.

        1. Spoonie*

          I tried the bullet journal thing, but it seemed a little too overwhelming to me.

          I purchased the Action Day planner since the idea behind bullet journaling is done for me (yay laziness). It has a spot broken down by the hour for the normal planner part, things you want to accomplish (and status). It’s helpful for me juggling multiple projects; personal and work calendars.

    3. Emi.*

      I write down a list of everything else I have to deal with. Then I can think to myself, “OK, got it here on this list, so now I know I won’t forget it,” which for me is a big part of why I worry about my to-do list. Writing it down means it won’t fall through the cracks, and it feels like a promise that it’ll get handled, so it makes it way less distracting. My sister has a notebook for this that she refers to as her “external brain.”

    4. Not So NewReader*

      A tired mind will wander around aimlessly and sometimes annoyingly. Try a drink with some electrolytes in it. Minerals can help brain function.

      Other than that I have had luck with promising myself I will think about X or Y later and now is not the time to be thinking about those things. The key here is to fill our own promises to ourselves and actually put some thought into these things later on.

    5. Letters*

      White noise / rain sounds are a good to help with focus — as is, oddly, videogame music! Videogame soundtracks tend to not have words, so you aren’t even tempted to sing along. Having something in the background can help narrow your focus so you aren’t freaking out about a dozen different things.

    6. Mockingjay*

      I keep two separate lists on my desk.

      One is the quad steno pad I use for work tasks.
      The other is a narrow, decorative, lined pad (the kind for grocery lists).

      When a thought about personal stuff floats across my mind, I jot it down on the pretty pad, then return to work.

      Having two distinctive looks seems to keep me on track. Quad pad is serious looking = work. Pretty pad = home.

  19. Lovemyjob...truly!!!*

    My husband is currently at a job interview. I really want him to get this job. More pay, less physical stress on his body, better benefits, walking distance from our home, and it gets him out of his current field completely. He was so nervous this morning. We went shopping this week to buy him an interview outfit since the dressiest clothing he owned was a polo style shirt and a pair of cargo pants. (FWIW – his last interview was done while wearing jeans and a t-shirt…and he had a black eye from being punched in the face by one of the clients where he worked – and the only thing his interviewer said about his appearance was “did you get that shiner at work?”) He looked so professional and polished this morning, despite the nerves he had going on.

    Would love the good vibes sent our way about this interview.

      1. H.C.*

        I’m guessing it was in mental health / social services field, and client is synonymous with patient/customer. Less shocking in that context, but still- eek!

  20. Pup Seal*

    Our organization gives us employees flexible schedules, so as along we make our 40 hours we’re good. No one keeps track of hours, and 3 people here get away with working fewer than 40 hours since the Big Boss is never here. Usually they come in around 10 and leaving between 4:30 to 5.

    Today, I had an oil change that ended up taking an hour and a half, so I got to work almost around 10. I still got there before my coworkers did.

    1. Anon13*

      This is frustrating! I love having a flexible schedule (one of the few things I like about my job). I nearly always arrive later than everyone else, but I’m also typically the last person here and I put in ~45 hours during an average week (not an excessive amount, but always more than 40). I hate that people abuse flexible scheduling!

      1. Pup Seal*

        Yes! It’s frustrating because I’m the first one there and half the time I’m the last one to leave! When I first started I was working part time here and part time at another job. I had to work from 8 to 12 at this job in order to get to my other job. I wouldn’t get tasks done because I would need things from my other coworkers who were showing up at 10, sometimes even 11, so I barely got to see them. Then the Big Boss got mad at me because of how I wasn’t getting my tasks done, so I told him what was happening. Well, they got in trouble, got mad at me for a month. Then old habits came back.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      Honestly, I find it freeing to stop worrying about my coworkers hours. Maybe they’re working from home at night. Maybe they have a special arrangement with the manager that isn’t publicly known. Maybe they’re so efficient that they’re getting the work done in 6 hours instead of 8.

      The only time I start caring about hours is when the work isn’t getting done and it’s directly affecting me.

      1. Pup Seal*

        I’ve learned to stop caring. I’ve actually grown to like it because whenever they’re not here I can keep my office door close and turn up my music without using headphones.

        The three of them run a side business together, so I’ve overheard them before saying they need to leave to do x,y, z for their side company. It’s common for them to leave in the middle of the work day to deal with stuff regarding their business. The funniest time was when they left early because one coworker’s finger was hurting. He apparently accidentally cut it the night before.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      I don’t worry about coworkers’ hours. My coworkers and I are often offsite or work nontraditional hours for events, etc. so everyone comes in and out randomly.

      The only time I would ever bring it up is if someone’s arrival/departure affected my work. My old coworker would leave whenever she’d had enough (and she hated our job!). When Boss asked me about something I didn’t know about, I’d say “I would ask Jenny, but she left at 3:45.” That subtly let Boss know that Jenny was leaving whenever she pleased.

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Oh yeah, we have this too.

      I have noticed that the younger gal who sits next to me gets in at 10 and leaves at 5.45 on the dot while Im still slaving away into 630, having come in t 8. I know Im a level up, but still… man I wonder some days.

      They tend to be pretty hands off and trusting with attendance here (as in feel free to work from home as long as you are up with your work and it doesnt become a problem), but she came in at 10.30 one morning and I thought cripes, Im about to have lunch!

  21. Robin B*

    I was wondering if anyone here has successfully survived a company merger/acquistion? I’ve heard many horror stories, hoping it worked out for someone, somewhere?

    1. designbot*

      Not me, but my parents survived the telecom breakup and subsequent decade+ worth of mergers and acquisitions in the 80s and 90s. I think it had been like 4 different companies by the time they left, but they stayed right where they were.

      1. Emotionally Neutral Grad*

        I know someone who was on the other side of M/A during the financial crisis — part of the company doing the merging figuring out how to keep as many people in the old org as possible. In that case, the company tried to keep as many people employed as possible. Some considered the merger a good opportunity to seek a change in jobs or careers, and the people below them had a chance to take on new responsibilities and titles. M/A’s can be disastrous or, if it’s headed up by effective leadership, end up working out well for people on both sides of the merger.

      2. Bad Candidate*

        My dad did too. He worked for Illinois Bell, then Ameritech, then SBC before he retired. It’s now AT&T which seems like it’s getting the band back together. He was a lineman though, so his job didn’t have overlap with the new companies.

    2. Lovemyjob...truly!!!*

      I work for specialty pharmacy that started really small and has merged several times over and is now pretty huge. The mergers all took place prior to me coming aboard but everyone here has been here since it was the small, tiny place…and according to them they only lost 2 people in this place in all that time. That’s promising, right?

    3. IT_Guy*

      I’ve survived 3. Mostly by having a skill set that is in high demand. The most important thing is Do.Not.Panic. The worst thing that you can do is take the first job that comes along and you have to leave soon thereafter. I’ve done that for other reasons, but it still stinks on your resume. BUT, you should have an up to date resume, networked with peers and others who could give you a good reference. You may also want to start talking to recruiters, with the opening dialogue being “I’m not really looking right now, but I may have to with no notice, what’s the job situation like for Tea-Pot analysts right now?” If you are technical, then local user groups are good way to network as well.

    4. CAA*

      Sure, I’ve been through this twice.

      The first time, I worked for a small family owned tech company that got sold to a larger foreign company. The family member I reported to was taking the money and leaving, so when the new owners came in to figure out what to do with us, they looked around and decided I would be the manager. I’d never been a manager before, and was sure I didn’t want to be one, but I decided to give it a year and then decide. I ended up staying 5 years and have been a manager/director ever since. I left after they decided to lay off my teams and move all software development outside the US. They created a new role for me, but I just felt like it was time to move on at that point.

      The second time, I was with a startup that was profitable when private, but was really struggling after going public. Sarbanes-Oxley was passed just after they went public and the costs of all the extra regulation were just more than the business could handle, so they ended up selling out to a bigger player in the industry. The new owners flat out said that their plan was to shut down our product as quickly as they could and we could stay on and help them build out their competing product that they had designed. I stayed with them for about 2 years. I could have stayed longer, and lots of the people I worked with are still there (and the product they wanted to shut down 9 years ago is still used daily while the new one was completely scrapped), but again, I felt like I was done and ready to move on.

    5. Ama*

      My SO worked for a company that was acquired and subsequently stayed there for about 6 years afterwards. He only left because he wanted to move into a job with a slightly different focus that they couldn’t offer (which would have been true even if the company hadn’t been acquired). By the time he left the rest of his department had transitioned to an office in a different city (they were about 50/50 at the time of acquisition), but they never put any pressure on him to move and were vocal about how sad they were to see him go.

    6. Jersey's Mom*

      And do not pay much attention to the rumor mill. We just merged with a company of the same size about 1 1/2 years ago. The rumors were off the charts about what departments would/ would not get the chop, changes in salary, changes in reporting structure…..there were even opposite and contradictory rumors. Get your resume etc in order as suggested by IT Guy, but don’t let the rumors make you be the first to jump ship.

    7. Shishimai*

      Yes – my company was acquired.
      One department was merged (read: all our people laid off, all their people kept) because there was a near-total duplication of work from ours to theirs. There was a major shakeup in management about a year after the acquisition, but most of us in the actual teapot-making part of the business came through just fine. We’re now fine-tuning our teapot standards and manufacturing processes.
      I know another small company that was snapped up by the same Teapot Giant has since lost most of its employees as its functions got merged in, but so far we’ve avoided the same fate – and it’s been more than a little time, so I think we’re in general going to be okay.

    8. New Owners*

      Yep, at my second company that was acquired. It worked out for just about everyone at both companies. Let people know what you do, and stay up to date on any announcements.

    9. Lefty*

      Not me, personally, but my husband has been through 2 in recent years… he has a special skill set that was valued, so that helped. During one merger he volunteered to learn about another product because he thought it sounded interesting; he was later assigned to that team while his other position was made redundant. His managers have commented on his flexibility and his willingness to cross-train as huge benefits. Hope yours goes well too!

    10. Triceratops*

      My company was purchased 6 or 7 months ago. No changes for me or the people I work with, and no indication of changes to come.

    11. LiteralGirl*

      My company was just acquired by a national one (it closed on Wednesday). I don’t anticipate any huge issues since they are essentially the same type, just on a larger scale. Some people are worried about how it will affect benefits and pay, but it doesn’t sound like there will be much (if anything) in the way of layoffs. I hope yours works out well!

    12. Lord of the Ringbinders*

      I once worked for a small company that was bought by another company. We were all a bit worried when we heard but only one thing really changed: our salaries. They went up!!

    13. NW Mossy*

      My company was bought out by a foreign firm last year, and they basically let us run autonomously and explicitly asked that we not make any major staffing changes. There have been some structural changes for reporting hierarchies, but no one got let go as a result. Other than seeing a few representatives of our new parent who are here on rotations to learn about our business, it’s business as usual.

  22. Oh, here we go again*

    Advice for negotiating a staggered salary when starting a new job and simultaneously working on related education? I am looking to do an internal transfer soon and am in a graduate program related to where I am hoping to end up. My current salary is in the mid $40s. The average starting salary for people who finish graduate programs similar to mine is around $90k.

    I just started this program, so I recognize that I won’t make that amount from the beginning of my transfer. However, I do want my organization to take my educational pursuits into account and give me raises accordingly. Any way to request this?

    1. designbot*

      I would tell them what you just told us! 90k is the norm for graduates of X program, you’re at 40k, you’d like to talk about a plan that gets you in line with your education over time since you understand that a 100% raise is not going to happen all at once. My only caveat is that I wouldn’t expect those increases to occur until some milestone had been hit, like you’re 1/4 or 1/2 through.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      Does the job you are accepting requite the education you’re working on getting? Or do they intend to have someone in that job without the grad degree? Because that’s over an 100% pay increase and that’s a lot of ask an employer to increase if they weren’t looking for someone with the degree.

      1. Oh, here we go again*

        It doesn’t require the exact education, but if they were to hire from the outside they would easily be paying that much, if not more for that skill set, regardless of the specific degree that person had.

        I hope that makes sense!

    3. Jerry Vandesic*

      My experience is that you will likely need to find a new employer to get your salary up to something typical of your new educational level. Companies are usually anchored to the lower pay that you received in the past, and will have a very hard time getting you to the higher number. I have seen people come in at junior levels, sometimes as interns, and be stuck with lower pay rates even after they finish their educations.

      My suggestion is to see if you can get your employer to recognize your new level and the associated pay range. But don’t hesitate to look around for another employer that would not be stuck looking at your former (lower) pay.

    4. Someone Else*

      I doubt my company would want to do this, it’s hard enough to an increase when you get a promotion, regardless of how many grades you go up, they love the standard 10%, and quote is a company policy. Hopefully your company is all about the market rate, and paying people what they think they deserve.

      1. Oh, here we go again*

        I don’t know for sure… I’ve seen and heard mixed things.

        Sadly, I know you typically have to leave a job to get raises that are appropriate. I am fully prepared to leave if I need to, but it would be nice to stay put for a few more years.

  23. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I was asked previously in a thread, about lawyering during the refugee crisis. I plan to go to the airport this weekend or my next day off, and am arranging for a lawyer to meet my childhood friend’s family at LAX when they get in from Pakistan.

    I also tweet to spread info, and made several donations. Anyone with questions on the refugee issue, ask!

    1. Emmie*

      Thank you for posting this and for volunteering! What are lawyers doing to bring themselves up to speed here? I practice a completely different area and attended a CLE last night. I want to help, but think my steep learning curve will hurt more than help. And that’s disappointing.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Well, are you in the Lawyers For Good Government Facebook group? That and their emails have a lot of immigration 101 docs; and there are occasional conference calls by L4GG and the ACS, to teach on basic immigration and opposing-Trump legal issues. Plus if you join with your local lawyer’s airport group they will usually have pinned docs on Slack that cover the basics.

      2. Temperance*

        I work in large firm pro bono. There is a training through PLI on March 3rd for habeas petitions, and there’s an immigration basics video on there as well.

        If you haven’t done immigration before, and aren’t super comfortable with it, I would recommend picking up other pro bono. Lots of people need help – now more than ever. If you’d like to do immigration, I recommend starting with a green card application or citizenship application (or VAWA!). Very easy stuff, still important.

      3. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Lawyers for Good Government on Facebook has a TON of 101-type docs and runs conference calls and lectures every few days.

        Also, your local airport lawyer’s group on Slack will have immigration 101 and “what to expect at the airport” docs.

    2. Temperance*

      Hey just chiming in to try and be helpful – make sure there is still a need at your local airport! I’m networked with other firms and nonprofits across the US that are handling staffing in the major airports, and (thankfully) most cities are already spoken for!

        1. Temperance*

          Awesome! My people are mostly in cities that are covered, which is why I left that comment. Thank you for doing this critical and important work!

          1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

            How’s the coverage in LAX? My friend’s parents are dual citizens, but I don’t want them to get in and have no lawyer. I just want to make sure someone is there; I don’t expect trouble but you don’t know.

            1. Temperance*

              Do you know an approximation of when their flight is arriving? I can check the schedule of volunteers and get back to you. It might be later tonight because I’m swamped and unfortunately have a function to attend at 6, so I need to cram about 8 hours of work into 3. ;)

              1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

                It’s several days out, but I will get the whole itinerary from my friend, and post it as an update to a post in the immigration issues group. Thanks!

      1. Marcela*

        Temperance and overcaffeinatedandqueer, THANK YOU. Really. There are no words to express my gratitude for what you are doing.

        1. Temperance*

          This is so kind of. Thank you for saying this. My well is running dry with just exhaustion, so your kindness in filling it up a little is really wonderful.

  24. Once More With Feeling*

    Some Questions about References…

    I have worked relatively few jobs in my life and am still a fairly young professional. I am working on putting together a reference list and I am not sure how to move forward. I have two supervisors from former positions who I have used in the past as references. Other than them, all of my other supervisors have retired or supervised me in college which was over a decade ago. Can I put down colleagues as references? What is the procedure for that and how to do people list those people?

    Does it matter if the colleague is in a lower level position than me? Would that look weird? (I’ve worked closely with this person and do think they can speak to many of my skills and abilities.)

    1. Anon13*

      I ran in to the same problem the last time I applied. I’d been in the workforce a little less than ten years, all at the same company and, though I’d gotten raises and promotions, all with the same supervisor. I used colleagues with no problem – I think it will be obvious why you’re doing so and, as long as you also include your supervisors, I don’t think it will raise any red flags.

    2. FDCA In Canada*

      You can list retired supervisors as references! If you’re still in touch with them (LinkedIn is nice for this, or even just a quick phone call), don’t hesitate to ask them.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          Just indicate their supervisory role to you, and the dates that you worked with them, and that they’re currently retired. I’ve had to do this, one of my bosses from almost 20 years ago recently retired!

        2. Not a Real Giraffe*

          List their name and whatever contact info they’ve agreed to provide you with, then include a brief line indicated their relationship to you (“Supervised me in X role at Y company from 2010-2014; now retired.”)

  25. Anon13*

    I have a vent today, too! I’m currently working in a (very) small business (fewer than 5 employees). I’ve worked for small businesses before, but not on this scale – my last workplace had about 75 people total across all locations. Not tiny, but far from a huge corporation. And, I loved it! My team at that workplace was small (just two of us most of the time, with a “floater” type person or two helping us at busier times), so I thought I could successfully transition to a much smaller workplace. But, I could not. I mean, I’ve been successful in the sense that I can do the job and the owners are happy with my work, but I’m unhappy here. The way the business is run is odd, the owner keeps trying to have his (unqualified) kids work with us, there’s no one to file any sort of HR complaints with (this list goes on and on). I’m actively looking, but I’m unhappy. And, I know I will never work for a place this small again!

    1. JobSeeker017*

      Anon13, ouch!

      Working for a tiny family-owned business can take a toll on anyone, so please don’t think you’re doing anything wrong. Many people have written to Alison about similar issues, particularly the insistence on owners hiring their children or other family members. The lack of an HR department is also problematic.

      I send sympathy your way and encourage you to begin looking for other opportunities. Going from 75 colleagues to five is quite the change, so I doubt any hiring manager will count it against you for wanting to leave.

      Are you able to begin thinking about pursuing a new position? Are there any positives about the position you can focus on while you search (good benefits, flexible schedule, autonomy on projects, etc.)?

      Again, I feel for your stressful and claustrophobic workplace.

      1. Anon13*

        Thanks for your sympathy! I’ve been casually looking for something new, but I think I’m going to ramp up my search soon.

        And yes, there are positives! My flexible schedule is probably the biggest one – our “official” hours are 8:30-5:30, but we’re free to arrive as late a 9:30 or leave as early as 4:30, as long as we complete our work and work about 40 hours a week (consistently working less than 40 hours would raise some eyebrows, but working 45 hours one week, then 38 the next, then 41, wouldn’t), and we can take breaks in the middle of the day for longer than an hour for doctor’s appointments, or even lunch with friends, as needed (again, as long as the work gets completed and the hours add up). And I’m getting a really broad range of experience on account of working somewhere so small – I wind up being responsible for a lot of varying projects. The good definitely doesn’t outweigh the bad and I never look forward to coming to work, but I don’t absolutely dread it either.

        Maybe I’ll work on some applications tonight, though! (Yes, it will be a wild and crazy Friday night for me.)

  26. Mol bio anon*

    If you worked in the teapot sciences, and you met a fellow researcher who gleefully described to you how they were defrauding a prominent European teapot research funding agency by approx. EUR 60,000, what would you do? The fellow researcher is not at your organization, and you have no links with the funding agency, but research funds are limited and could contribute to new treatments for diseases. (You know with certainty that the researcher was not exaggerating their claims about the fraud.)
    It isn’t by any stretch of the imagination my problem, but somehow for the sake of the common good I feel impelled to do something, but don’t know what to do.

    1. Emotionally Neutral Grad*

      The British science and medicine blogger Ben Goldacre has written extensively about research and ethical issues facing medicine as a field and encourages whistleblowing. Try reading Bad Science (his blog), Bad Pharma (a great book of his) and/or reach out to see if he has strategies for people who want to report unethical behavior?

    2. Skint postdoc*

      Can you report to their university academic misconduct office? This may not work but it’s the correct route to start with I think at least for UK institutions. Please do tell someone.

    3. Emi.*

      You’re not at his organization, but you could look up whoever’s in charge of research ethics at his institution? Or does the funding agency have a whistleblowing option you could reach out to, even though they don’t know you? Do you know a mentor-y type senior researcher in your org who could help you with field-specific resources?

      This guy sucks. Thank you for doing the right thing!

    4. Lemon*

      I think that most research fields have some sort of over-arching ethics board or department that you can report this stuff to. Even as another commenter said, you could try talking to the ethics board at your organization and they might be able to point you in the right direction. I think you have an obligation to report this to someone.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Before I went too far too fast, I might check in with my boss. If Fellow Researcher told you then he is probably telling everyone he meets. It could be that he has been reported already. It could be that my boss would prefer to do the report. Or things could get complex suddenly because the boss tells you of a larger issue and says to let this one go as it will be resolved with the larger issue.

      But, OTH, there have been times where I just reported something because I had to. Every so often something comes along and we just know what it is we have to do.

    6. Alice*

      I’d suggest contacting both the funding agency and the PI’s institution. Just google the institution’s name and report research misconduct — there may be an ombudsman or there may be a process where reports go to a dean or provost.
      Of course it’s not your problem… but in a sense bad science is everyone’s problem. You don’t have to be Ben Goldacre or John Ioannides to think that research misconduct is lessening trust in science, which is bad for everyone in the long run.

      1. Golden Lioness*

        I was coming here to offer the same opinion.

        God luck and thank you for doing the right thing.

  27. Electric Hedgehog*

    I’m getting bored at my job. I recently was transitioned to a different role to get experience in that type of work. Well, I’ve learned the role, and I’m having trouble filling my days with meaningful tasks. My previous role was hair on fire busy, but this one… man, I’m doing like a tenth of the transactional work I used to handle. I’ve got some side projects that I’m working in various states of completion, but they are all pending input from others before I can continue. I like my job, my coworkers and most of my leadership team, so I don’t want to move. There’s a potential for it to get super busy with no warning, so I don’t want to over commit to a major side project either. What can I do?

    1. Abc*

      When I get bored on a slow day at my job, I try to see if anyone on my team needs help with day-to-day tasks. I’m often isolated from the rest of the team because I have a unique role so not only does it keep me busy, but it also gives me a chance to connect with my peers

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        I do the same thing. The cross-training comes in handy and it gave me a reputation as someone who is always willing to help, which is nice!

    2. Bye Academia*

      I have a similar problem. When I get handed a project, I have to drop everything and complete it quickly, but the flow of work is really irregular. Like you, I also work on side projects. I tend to look out for ones that have flexible or far-away deadlines in case I need to put them on the back burner for a bit.

      Is there any professional development you could do during your downtime? Industry relevant articles to read, etc. to stay on top of your field? That helps fill some of my time in a productive way.

      But I also try to tell myself that part of my job is just being available, and not feeling too guilty if there are days where I don’t get as much done.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I hate to say open up a new side project that you can complete, but maybe that is the route to go.
      I might try following up on one of the side projects to see if I could get that info to complete it.
      You might ask the boss if there is something she wants you to work on.
      You could check to make sure you are ready for the next big push of work. Do you have everything you need, or as much as is reasonable right now? Is there something that needs to be reorganized in a more sensible manner before the next big onslaught?

    4. Letters*

      One of the things I’ve liked to do with downtime is create manuals / how to guides for my current role, to be used by anyone who steps into the role behind me. I’ve found that this creates a certain goodwill for when I do transition to the next position — managers who know me by reputation know that I’m leaving the position better than I found it, in a sense, by making sure that the person that follows me will have a much better idea of what they’re doing.

      Granted, this is much more applicable in certain industries; in mine, although computer/systems training is very thorough, the day-to-day eventualities often aren’t included in the training and can be complex or counter-intuitive. My desire to create such guides was actually born out of having stepped into those roles in the first place .. and feeling like I was drowning, because I had no idea what to do with X, Y, or Z .

  28. S.I. Newhouse*

    My company recently made us complete a personality test (think Myers-Briggs, but not as sophisticated) in preparation for an all-staff meeting. I answered the questions as accurately as I could, and got a result that I feel was completely inaccurate. The results were given back to my supervisor and much to my horror, in the all-staff meeting last week, the department head made a presentation about the personality test and put every staff member’s personality type on the screen. So everyone got to see that I—one of the most easygoing supervisors in the organization—supposedly have the exact same personality type as another supervisor who is notorious for being an extreme stickler for rules (she gave one of my colleagues a rating of “unacceptable” in a performance review because he was five minutes late to work twice within six months). The test results were shared with everyone else so that “we’d better know how to approach our colleagues” in different situations, but I felt angry and, honestly, kind of violated that what I feel was a completely wrong result was broadcast to the entire company.

    I did not share my displeasure with my superiors, and I’ve decided that I’m not going to—since I’m up for a performance review myself in the imminent future—so that’s not a question here. But what I do want to know is, is sharing employees’ personality types with everyone else a normal thing to do in a workplace, and was my reaction to be extremely upset about it justified? This is otherwise a good workplace.

    1. Oh, here we go again*

      The whole purpose of these personality types are that you share them with everyone. Otherwise, there really isn’t any point.

      It sounds like you aren’t upset that the personality type was displayed. It sounds like you are upset that you feel like you are being associated with someone you don’t think very highly of. If people like you, they like you regardless of what a test says. If people don’t like you, this assessment won’t magically change that.

      Honestly, I think everyone recognizes these tests have limitations. I just see them as a good reminder that everyone is different. It doesn’t mean that people are good or bad, we just have to be considerate about how we approach each other because the way someone communicates isn’t the way others do.

      1. S.I. Newhouse*

        Thank you for this perspective. There’s definitely a lot of truth to what you are saying. I think another aspect of it is that I sharply disagree with the idea of personality tests in the first place; I don’t agree with people being pigeonholed into a “type” based on the answers to a few random questions.

        1. Golden Lioness*

          I agree with the comment above. Also remember that just because you’re the same “type” doesn’t mean you’re just like your colleague. For example let’s say you’re both extroverted. Maybe your colleague is a chatty person that talks to much, band you’re just a gregarious easy going guy. Same type, completely different people. Wit so much diversity in the world is not like there’s only 4 kinds of people!

    2. MegaMoose, Esq*

      I think it’s totally inappropriate, even though I do not believe those tests are especially useful or accurate (see e.g., you being the same “type” as someone with a totally different personality and work-style). But I agree that it’s probably not worth bringing up. I’ve got to think that unless you suddenly become a stickler for rules, no one will think worse of you.

    3. caryatis*

      I love those tests. But, if I knew you, I’d weigh my experience with you much more than test results.

      1. Like to Breath*

        I agree completely. My husband hates these, but I find them fun. It’s likely SI Newhouse’s results put him or her on the cusp of two results, which would explain why non of the options sounded right, and very unlikely that anyone who knows Newhouse will take it seriously

        1. S.I. Newhouse*

          It’s comforting to hear so many people saying that few people will take the test results seriously. Of course, that makes me debate the point of giving out these tests in the first place.

          For the record, I wasn’t on the cusp; I was overwhelmingly into the category that says I’m overly rigid with rules (false) and resistant to change (somewhat true).

    4. Viola Dace*

      I once took the Myers-Briggs in a group setting. When I arrived at the meeting to discuss results, I noticed that the two other people in my group I COULD NOT STAND were also wearing tags that said INTJ. I was pretty shocked that I could share any characteristics with these two I didn’t like. However, it became a valuable lesson for me in evaluating people. After a long hard look at myself, I could see that I was more like them than unlike them. Now, if I meet someone I have an instinctive (and maybe irrational) dislike for, I think very hard about how they “may” be like me. It’s made me pay attention to how some potentially positive qualities can easily become negatives. For instance, leadership can devolve into control.

      1. S.I. Newhouse*

        Thank you. The thing is, Myers-Briggs is an established and reputable test. This one, I couldn’t even find information about it by Googling the name of the test. There were a few kernels of truth in the test, but in general, the results were completely out of left field.

      2. Letters*

        I was once told by a mentor that “you hate most in others what you fear about yourself.” At the time I was pretty young, and just rolled my eyes, but it sank in later how true that really was.

      3. jamlady*

        Fellow INTJ (and female, which is rare) and it’s definitely a personality type that groups in some stinkers. If you look up famous INTJs, you get a lot of dictators (but also scientists!) and if you looks up INTJ characters, you get a lot of mastermind villains. I try to hold back my stronger INTJ tendencies at work lol but I’m a textbook example (and I’ve honestly been this way since I could remember – I haven’t changed at all since I was a kid) so it’s hard sometimes. I don’t think there’s any reason for these tests to be taken and shared in a workplace – I don’t understand the point of small talk, but that doesn’t mean I’m incapable of it in my workplace if it’s expected of me, and I’m generally unemotional but I know other people at work are and that it’s okay. I’d hate for people to make assumptions about me because of a test.

    5. Jersey's Mom*

      Yeah, if the employer is going to do this, the point is to share the results with all and discuss how knowing this information will “make us all a better team”. We did this a couple years back. We talked about it for about a week, then, just like every other management fad, it went away and was never mentioned again.

      I found it annoying and a complete waste of time.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I can see why you are ticked.

      I think that human beings are not straightforward like these tests would have us believe. You are easy going but this test has you uptight. You are not purely easy going but you are not ordinarily uptight either. My friend comes across as very open-minded and extremely considerate of others. In her actual work day she worries about every. single. detail. She would never pick at people the way she picks at her own work.

      If you can picture this Picky Manager’s reaction to being lumped in with you, Easy Going Manager. She’s not having fun here, either. She’s worried that people are going to push the envelope with her. Try to laugh at that image in your head.

      This might blow over as people gradually figure out it’s amusing and not much else. If it’s basically a good workplace try to get yourself to blow by it, maybe you can find some Immediate Thing that needs work and avoid the subject.

      1. S.I. Newhouse*

        Thank you. I don’t think any of the line staff in the room took it seriously, at all, so there’s been no lasting fallout from my coworkers. My only point of concern is that our department head takes pseudo-scientific stuff like this very, very seriously.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think it will go away when Department Head sees that s/he is the only one paying attention to it. Sometimes we have to wait for them to grow tired of an idea. I would be more concerned if Department Head had a long habit of latching on to these gee-whiz things. It’s not a substitute for good management.

    7. Allie*

      I hate personality tests. They answer more about what you think of yourself than your actual personality, and absolutely can be manipulated. I once proved that last point to a teacher of mine by having him randomly assign me a full Myers Briggs personality and showing him how I could take the test to get that exact result.

  29. WS*

    Okay small rant time… I got hired at my current position just over a year ago and for the first couple of months all of my assignments were “fix what this ex-employee messed up”. Today we got yet another phone call from a client who never got the report that ex-employee was working on! And the bulk of the work was competed for this back in spring of 2015!

    So now I’m back to putting out this ex-employee’s fires. Again. I wouldn’t mind so much except 1) this guy was terrible at keeping records and it takes me hours just to track down the necessary files and 2) when I do find them half the time they’re incomplete anyway and 3) redoing the missing work would be a +/- $15,000 undertaking which my boss is never going to take on, so I’m left to piece together what I can and just hope for the best.

    If anyone needs me I’ll be over in the corner, screaming loudly…

    1. Any Moose*

      Ugh! I feel your pain. This happened to me as well. It sux and you just have to battle through it. Honestly, I have been looking for another job almost since I started at my current job, in part due to this and the fact that my boss has no clue how to or how long this will take to fix.

    2. Bad Candidate*

      I also feel your pain. On my team we had one guy who moved to a new city where we are expanding an office so he’s not really on our team any more and another person who just went out on leave. I got reassigned some of their work from each of them and in both cases have had to spend a lot of time fixing things they didn’t do right or never did at all. I think I would be less mad if they had left the company, but no, they are still here and have been promoted, so I just get to steam over it.

      1. FriYAY!*

        I am in this same boat and it is so frustrating! I’ve been in my role since November and I’ve spent 90% of my time cleaning up messes. The worst part is I’m being blamed for things that were done wrong months before I started working here. I’m frustrated and not happy so I’m looking for something else.

  30. Not Karen*


    UGH Had the most unbelievable and unprofessional conference call yesterday. First, the leader was really pissed off about something and was practically yelling. Then we brought up a table that I had produced and like 10 different people commented “wow, this table is s#it” (in only slightly more professional words). For their sake I can only hope they didn’t realize I might be on the line when they said that. When I asked for suggestions for improvement, I got comments like “we want to see a table of X, not Y” when it already IS a table of X, or “the ‘winter’ column should say ‘season where it snows’ instead” when by definition it clearly already does…

    1. Effie*

      I’m so sorry to hear that this happened to you! Some people just aren’t happy if they’re not complaining. Lots of sympathy!

    2. JobSeeker017*

      NotKaren, please feel free to vent about the unprofessional and plain unkind behavior you encountered.

      Although I understand people have different preferences on how information is shared, it’s inexcusably rude to dump on the report, especially when its creator is within earshot. Your co-workers should have privately contacted you concerning their disagreements with the table’s wording and content focus. This would have saved you embarrassment and allowed them to be constructive and professional.

      Just think: A few more hours and you will be away from work for two whole days!

      Have a great weekend and try to forget about the table issue.

      1. Not Karen*

        Thank you for your support! :) The good part is these people were more like clients than coworkers and my actual coworkers are kind and supportive.

        Definitely looking forward to the weekend.

  31. Malibu Stacey*

    Inspired by this AM’s short answer: share you fave office food thief story!

    Mine: two different jobs, people took home all leftovers from a catered lunch (one was employee-paid) for their family. (Trust me, I have every reason to believe neither person could not afford groceried)

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      Our admin assistant organized a great Christmas party, but became ill the day of and so missed it herself. I packaged up the non-perishable leftovers (10 packages of crisps and crackers, several bottles of wine, etc.) to have a little new year celebration on the 31st for those in the office, so that she didn’t completely miss out. I left the box for a moment to go and find the keys to the storage room and a colleague stole it (pretty sure I know who).

    2. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      Mine’s not exactly a thief story, but our admin recently had to discontinue the free “snack cabinet” because people were using it as their personal food supply and would raid it right after our admin filled it up every Thursday and keep a stock in their desk drawer. The purpose was for snacks to be there when you needed them throughout the week, not to horde things in case of a Doritos shortage.

      I mean really, some people ruin everything.

      1. DCGirl*

        We have that problem where I work too, but it hasn’t gotten as far as discontinuing the cabinet. I could see it heading that way.

      2. Ama*

        When I was at a job where we had a candy dish I learned quickly never to fill it up at the end of the day (and especially not on Friday afternoon) because no matter how full it was it would be completely empty by the next morning. People who stayed late or came in on weekends would literally fill their pockets with handfuls of candy until it was gone since no one was around to see them (a coworker of mine happened to stay late one day and surprised someone doing this). When I started filling it only at the beginning of a day our candy consumption dropped by 50%.

        Thankfully our greedier coworkers weren’t so greedy as to investigate the cabinets five feet to the left of the dish, which is where I kept the bags of candy for refills. Only a handful of trusted coworkers were ever allowed to know that information.

    3. ThatGirl*

      More on the funny side, but I once saw a mason-style jar of milk in the fridge here with a post-it note on it that said “please don’t steal me, I know who you are!”

      1. TheLazyB*

        There’s a carton of milk in the fridge at my work that says “camel’s milk get your mitts off!”.

        I can’t decide what would be better: that it’s just a method of getting people to stop stealing, or it really is camel’s milk.

    4. caryatis*

      …What’s wrong with taking home leftovers? I can afford groceries too, but I still want free food, if it would otherwise be wasted.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        I read that comment as “at two different jobs, an individual single-handedly took all of the leftovers from a catered lunch.”

      2. Malibu Stacey*

        Sorry I didn’t elaborate; at this place if the leftovers were up for grabs an email would be sent out. If no email went out, that meant that leftovers were stored for staff to eat the next day.

        1. Malibu Stacey*

          ETA: it’s also kind of standard that when there’s a ton of leftovers, we only take some, not several tupperware’s worth.

    5. Abc*

      We had a vegetarian lunch thief at my office. If your lunch had meat in it you were safe. My vegan work friend had her lunch stolen multiple times.

      1. Karanda Baywood*

        I’m imaging the thief opening, touching food and sniffing all the containers to check for meat and meat by-products.

      2. Morning Glory*

        Wouldn’t it be really easy to figure out who was stealing the food? There can’t be that many vegetarians in the office.

    6. AndersonDarling*

      I mentioned this on the morning thread…but since you asked. :)
      We had some night shift folks steal whole cakes and take them home. They were for a meeting the next day, and when they went missing all the managers were put on alert to find the missing cakes. Once word got out that investigators were looking for the missing goodies, a bunch of half eaten cakes appeared in the breakroom. I guess the thieves freaked out and brought in what was left of the cakes.

      1. TheLazyB*

        Someone in HR bought a whole tray of krispy kreme donuts for their team.
        They disappeared from the kitchen.
        An email went round from the building manager saying “wtf, this is stealing! Replace them now!”

        Nothing happened.

        I worked in something related to law enforcement at the time.

    7. bohtie*

      this is not a food thief story exactly but I’ve been dying to have an excuse to tell it:

      one of my coworkers always keeps her ginger ale in the communal fridge. she has a post-it note that she reuses every single time she gets a new can, and it says (these are the exact words, with a different name): “This is Amy’s. Unless you really need it, in which case I guess you can have it and that’s okay.”

      She herself drives me absolutely up a wall but the glorious passive-aggressiveness of that note written in teeny letters on a reused post-it makes me laugh so hard that it’s a lot more tolerable.

      1. Karanda Baywood*

        My take on that is: if you’re nauseous and need to settle your stomach, DRINK THE DAMN GINGER ALE.

    8. rubyrose*

      Vice President would raid the refrigerator in the evening, taking whatever people had left there for their lunch the next day. He was caught red-handed on several occasions and nothing was done about it.

    9. Put the donuts down, Wakeen*

      Not theft, precisely, but I used to work with a Wakeen who would take WAY more than their share of communal food brought in as treats (imagine taking six donuts out of three dozen in a 30-person company – not exaggerating).

      Polite “please don’t take so many because then other people can’t have any” requests didn’t work.

      Passive-aggressive “staff are reminded that treats are not meal replacements, so please don’t take as many as you think you can eat, just grab one or two” emails didn’t work.

      Public “geez, Wakeen, got enough slices of pizza there” shaming didn’t work.

      One time, the CEO walked by and actually grabbed a donut right off Wakeen’s plate, saying, “I thought these were already gone, but I should have realized you would have stocked up for the winter,” and THAT didn’t work.

      Firing Wakeen – that worked. (Not for this, for other issues, but it’s sure been nice having donuts around for a mid-morning snack.)

    10. Lefty*

      We once had a client treat us to pizza by delivery. They sent over something like 3 pies, a couple of 2-liters, and some paper products for our office of 12 (super thoughtful, we really felt appreciated after a very difficult case!). When the pizzas arrived, a staff member- “Reggie”- offered to carry everything into the break room and we gathered everyone together to read the client email… 5 hours later, I get a text from another staffer “Bill” who rode in a carpool with Reggie. Reggie had stashed 2 other pizzas in his trunk while carrying in the delivery! His explanation to Bill was, “I had to carry everything in, so I deserved it!” Bill was the project manager for this client during 8+ brutal months while Reggie had never worked on their case… both were still working there when I left and nothing noticeable was ever done about it.

    11. Bad Candidate*

      I used to work for a company that had free lunch. It was the “thing” they were known for. We had a main entree, a couple of side options, plus a salad and deli bar. Mostly we were just office workers that were scheduled regular 9-5 type shifts, but we had a few evening and overnight folks. They didn’t have hot food available for them, but there was sandwich fixings they could have. I had a coworker who only worked because her youngest kid went back to school and she was bored, she didn’t need the money. (She had told me this) They lived in an affluent suburb in a very nice house and both drove expensive cars. But if her husband was out of town, she’d pack up sandwiches meant for night time staff at our company for her and her daughters for dinner so she didn’t have to cook. It always annoyed me that someone who had the means to pay for her own food was taking the free food the company had available for the overnight maintenance and call center employees.

    12. officebitch*

      When I was 18, I worked a minimum wage ($7.25/h) front desk job at a very small business whose CEO was, frankly, a terror. One day I didn’t eat the (prepackaged, sealed!) lunch I brought so I left it in the fridge—just for the day, not even overnight. I went to retrieve it at the end of the day, only to find this terror of a woman had opened my (prepackaged, sealed!!!) lunch and was eating it with absolutely no shame

      1. Anonymous Coward*

        I sent around an email when that happened to me. I was the youngest person in the office, working on entry-level customer service wages compared to a bunch of engineers, and I was LIVID that I had to go to after-work rehearsal without dinner because someone swiped the (prepackaged, sealed, labeled!) meal I had put in the office fridge that morning. I sat on the email overnight before sending it, but apparently it was still too bitter because someone asked my boss if I was okay. No, I was HANGRY.

      2. Rob Lowe can't read*

        When I was 18 I worked a minimum wage, part time job at a museum. Nobody who worked there made much money, but certainly full-time employees old enough to be my parents made more than I did. I usually packed leftovers for lunch, but occasionally I’d bring a packaged frozen/refrigerated meal to heat in the microwave. These were a popular choice with many of the full-timers, so out of a desire to not be a food thief, I always clearly labeled mine before putting it in the fridge or freezer. Once, in spite of this, someone ate my lunch and I had to go without. I was obviously unhappy and hungry, but I believed it must have been an honest mistake. I can’t remember how my grandboss found out about this (approximately an hour later), but when she did, she was LIVID – not at me, but at whoever had eaten my lunch. She sent out an all-staff email addressing the issue (although without naming me specifically) and reminding people to not touch food that wasn’t theirs, let me leave three hours early (with pay!), and gave me $20 out of her own pocket so I could get something to eat on my way home.

        Except for the lousy pay, I would go back to work for her in a heartbeat!

    13. NW Mossy*

      This didn’t happen at the office, but rather in a college dorm, but it’s too good a story not to share. I once left a half-eaten pint of cookie dough ice cream in the communal fridge, only to return for the rest the next day to find that all of the dough chunks had been meticulously picked out, leaving only vanilla ice cream thoroughly stirred with the culprit’s slobbery spoon. I choose to believe that she was high at the time, but seriously?! Either eat it all or toss what you aren’t going to eat, because that’s exactly what I’m going to do to avoid your germs.

      1. TL -*

        My mom would do that! But she’d eat them from the bottom of the carton (we got the boxes of ice cream) and leave just the top cookie dough bits in so you wouldn’t figure it out for a while.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      Not a thief, but a mooch–at OldExjob, they hired a guy who would sit there in the lunchroom with everybody on break with no food and look pitiful. People would offer him bits of their lunch, thinking he didn’t have enough money for food, but it got old fast. Apparently, some of the things he said to them made them suspect he was faking, so they stopped feeding him. One shop guy told me later, “I don’t mind helping somebody in a pinch, but it ain’t my damn job to feed a grown man who’s too lazy to make his own lunch.” He didn’t last long for other reasons.

      And just funny–we used to prank each other a lot at the materials testing lab job. One favorite was to randomly put a giant rubber rat in the fridge on top of somebody’s lunch (it was a Halloween decoration that became a permanent resident of the break room). When they opened the fridge, BOO! Heh heh. The business is closed now but I still have the rat. :)

    15. not so super-visor*

      At my first job out of college, I was very shy and started right before busy season. I knew almost no one. One day, I was not particularly hungry on my lunch. I ate my granola bar and only half of my yogurt. I put the other half back in the fridge. When I came back to finish my yogurt on my afternoon break, I found a scathing note taped to the yogurt. It basically stated that whoever stole their yogurt was a no good so and so (in worse language) and who the hell eats only half a yogurt and puts it back. It was signed by someone in the department next to mine. I was mortified. I let my manager know, and she assured me that the person was just kind of a drama queen. Even though it was a fairly small company (less than 100 people) and no one else labeled their lunches, I made sure that I labeled every piece of my lunch going forward.

    16. PB*

      Mine isn’t exactly theft, but shows (IMO) a lack of etiquette.

      At my old job, a few times a year, we’d have nice receptions. They were catered, with decent finger food, alcohol, soft-drinks, and so forth. Our administrators would attend, along with donors and people they were courting. One middle manager would come to these events armed with Tupperware containers, which she’d load up with food to take home. I’m not talking about leftovers after the event was over. She’d show up while the event was in progress, grab food still on the table, and box it up.

    17. Evergreen*

      I…was the food thief!

      We used to work outside some training rooms and there’d always be leftover cakes/sandwiches/whatever at about 3 or 4. Anyway it was 5pm and we were peckish and there was an unopened tray of cakes that had been sitting out since noon. The training had ended by this point.

      So clearly if we didn’t eat these cakes they would be binned. So we opened them.

      Anyway the trainer comes out in like 15 mins and stops my colleague: ‘were these my cakes!?’ Not sure what she was going to do with a tray of cakes at that point, but oops!!

      1. Lurker*

        When I was a kid I went to a Saturday morning theatre school, one of the rooms was filled with balloons and snacks so we starting playing and eating – somehow didn’t occur to us it was for something. One of the owner came in and yelled and screamed at us about ruining a birthday party to the point we were terrified of him many of us were in tears.

    18. twig*

      I used to work in the sales office of a high end housing development. the sales office was in one end of the homeowners clubhouse, so we had access to the clubhouse kitchen –where we would keep our lunches.

      In the summer, there were resident’s kids all over the clubhouse/ at the pool etc.

      Some of them would regularly raid the fridge taking parts of peoples lunches out of their lunch bags/boxes. Not just “oh there’s food in the fridge” but “oh look, it’s someone’s lunch. in a brown bag. with their name on it. I think I’ll eat it.”

      I was barely making a living wage and these upper middle class kids were taking my lunch. I couldn’t afford to go out, so I’d just starve until I got home at the end of the day.

    19. NoCalHR*

      I brought in a pan of frosted homemade brownies for an afternoon planning meeting. Left the pan, sealed (plastic wrap taped to pan bottom), labeled with my name and the meeting title, in the break room refrigerator, while I went to unlock my office, wash my hands, etc. Came back 15 minutes later to find the opened pan on the break room table, plastic wrap ripped open, and a few lonely crumbs in the bottom of the pan. Really? A 9×13 pan of frosted brownies at 7:50am? Really?!

    20. Helix*

      I used to set out peanut butter cups near my desk. They were set out near the hallway and not in my direct line of sight, so while most people would stop by and say hello or come for work-related reasons and take one on the way out, oftentimes I would be working at my desk and hear a crinkle and look up, and no one would be there. Worst part was the building was shared, so I was somewhat sure it wasn’t an actual coworker of mine, but someone from a different department.

      Once, my coworker (with my knowledge) ate one and taped the empty wrapper back together so that it looked full, and put it back in the pile. A little while later, I was working at my desk and heard a crinkle. I looked up and only saw that the empty wrapper was gone. Three seconds later, I heard the garbage can’s flip lid slam loudly and the sound of retreating footsteps.

      I laughed SO HARD.

  32. Audiophile*

    First week of unemployment hasn’t been too bad. I’ve had two job interviews and submitted a handful of applications.

    I have a interview scheduled on Monday for a job with a religious organization. It’s a newly created position, but would involve a significant commute for me if I were to receive and accept an offer.

    I’ve never worked for a religious organization before and although I was raised in this faith, it would be quite a change to other jobs I’ve held and other organizations I’ve worked for.

    Has anyone worked for a religious organization after working in the corporate or non-profit sector?

    1. Leslie Knope*

      My Father made the switch from corporate to religious organization, although his job functions are similar being in the technology industry. He absolutely loves it, partly because he is very active in the faith and also because the work environment much more respecting of work/life balance than his previous 90+ hour workweeks and intense deadlines in his previous company.

      I would do your due diligence in the same way you would for another corporate job. I’d pay particular attention to things that could be different (expectations/work environment/org goals etc.). Glassdoor still has reviews of these companies and I’m sure (especially if you were raised in the faith) that you’d have connections who have worked there to get the specifics of the organization.

    2. Effie*

      Just to clarify, when you say “quite a change”, do you mean just culture-wise or do you mean that it would be a new kind of job too?

      I worked at a religious non-profit before I worked at a corporate job, and one of the biggest differences for me was how close everyone expected to be. At my corporate job it was really refreshing to me that professional boundaries were okay and expected. At the religious non-profit they really pushed a “like family” atmosphere.

      I’d also be aware of the fact that some people take it really personally if you disagree with some things they believe in (as if you’re doing it “at them”). Within the religion of the non-profit I worked for, there are tons of interpretations and I’d just be aware/have prepared strategies to disengage if needed.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Audiophile*

        I mean culture-wise. I’ve interviewed with religious organizations, but ever worked for one.

        Almost all the organizations I’ve worked in, the staff has mostly been women. I think that brings a certain expectation of closeness. I definitely prefer to keep professional boundaries intact.

    3. JobSeeker017*

      Audiophile, congrats on securing two job interviews already! I applaud the power of your cover letter and resume to catch the eye of hiring managers right out of the gate.

      The one suggestion I would make to you is to keep in mind that an interview is a two-way street. You are evaluating your interviewer and the workplace just as they are doing with you. Please don’t feel obligated to settle for a position in which you will be stressed and unhappy.

      Sending good vibes your way for a quick and successful job search!

    4. DCGirl*

      I have worked for a Catholic high school and religious social services agency (that has bell ringers and red kettles) which is legally constituted as a church. One thing I was not aware of until I was laid off by the bell ringers is that churches are exempt from some laws, including paying into the unemployment system and offering continued insurance benefits under COBRA. I found myself without a job, unable to collect unemployment, and unable to go to the doctor without insurance.

      1. Audiophile*

        This is a Catholic organization, though not a school or a church.

        I was not aware of the COBRA or unemployment information. I’ll definitely keep this in mind, thank you.

        I’ve never taken COBRA, as it’s just too cost prohibitive. And I’ve been lucky enough, to either leave with another job lined up or find something very quickly soon after that I never actually made it past the gap week for unemployment. I may not get so lucky this time around.

    5. SeekingBetter*

      Good question! I worked for a religious organization for three years and absolutely loved it! It’s kind of similar to a nonprofit where the work you do will have an impact and it’ll be for society’s greater good :) Although I wasn’t part of the faith the organization practices, they still welcomed me with open arms.

  33. Intrepid*

    I just got a new boss who will decide whether or not I get to keep my job (I’m currently temporary). Currently, my major assignment is pulling of a 75-person conference with 3 concurrent stages/speakers going at all times, as well as coordinating all housing and meals for our guests. And all program materials. And the website. And the app. And laying the groundwork for our next 4 conferences.

    NewBoss has said that he doesn’t do logistics– and, even if he was willing, he has no clue what work goes into hosting a conference. He has told me that he thinks the real work is already done once attendees register. He sounded surprised that I’m doing “actually a lot.” He constantly undermines me in meetings with GrandBoss, and argues with any facts I present. If I make a typo, his correction email usually has multiple exclamation points.

    I’m trying to get him to understand my job. We have regular meetings where I present my work; he texts through them. I document my work, CC him on emails (so he can get a flavor for, oh, Intrepid is working with 3 photo/video/AV vendors too for a single dinner). No go. I started at this organization before he did, so I want to try to get my old bosses to both recommend me and clue him in on the scope of the work.

    How on earth do I keep my job? How do I convince him that, according to every other boss who’s managed me in this type of work, I’m really amazingly good? (No, I don’t like this boss, but I REALLY like paying rent and right now, this is my best option to do that.)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Will grandboss advocate for you?
      Your previous bosses seem like your best bet. Maybe tell them that you are having a problem.
      It sounds like if you left the company would not have its conferences any more. I think you need intervention from someone already in place who your boss will listen to.

      I am sure you have a list that you use for planning these things. Can you review your list with your boss so that he sees what is going on? A part of me is also wondering if this is more of a rudeness problem than it is about your job. Meaning, I wonder if your new boss is just a naysayer by nature.

      The more I think about it the more I think that you should bring in third parties to advocate for the necessity of your work.

    2. Aglaia761*

      Try a timeline/calendar where you both can see what it is that needs to be done leading up to event. It’s a great way to not only think through the event itself, but it documents and justifies all the work you do.

      I’m a planner as well, and I create a detailed weekly timeline for each of my events. They typically start 6-8 months before the event and outline every single step that needs to be taken in order for the event to go off smoothly. It’s a working document so things do change as needed. If there is pushback., my boss can take the timelines up the chain to show the work needed to pull even the most minor of events.

      When I’m in my weekly meetings with my boss we look at all event deadlines 2 weeks out and I give an update on the previous two weeks as well. We then have a set agenda for each event where we’ll talk about a specific area of focus and then those deliverables get added to my timeline and to her calendar.

      My boss also uses them to fill in big picture items on the overall departmental calendar. For example Invitations: I’ll have every single step of the invitation process from list creation to the entire design process on my timeline. She’ll put when the final list should be done, when the draft is due, and when it’s dropped by the mailhouse.

      I used to work as a contractor for the Defense Department. I’ve actually had Commanders and Generals SHUT UP and listen when I’ve whipped out the timelines. Especially if I had multiple events on there at once.

      I’d be happy to share a template if I knew how

  34. BigSigh*

    I’m devastated.

    When my manager was let go in 2015, I began covering both his role and mine at the same title and pay. Right before Thanksgiving 2016, I went to the CEO and outlined how well I’ve preformed. He completely agreed, said I’ve gone above and beyond, and put in paperwork to get me a raise and promotion with our parent company.

    I just found out I was denied the raise. A different department hasn’t been preforming well, so until overall company metrics improve, the parent company is refusing my raise.

    I feel silly for being so upset (cried basically all yesterday), but I’ve been having financial problems and just kept thinking things would get better as soon as my raise came though. It would have been significant, as I’m making about half what my previous manager made….Well, in any case, the parent company said they’d reevaluate in Q2 and I know my CEO is fighting to push it forward.

    But until then, the CEO wants to announce a title change/promotion and new office location. How in the world am I supposed to act pleased and happy when ALL of my coworkers come congratulate me on my “promotion”?

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Can you start looking for other jobs at companies that are willing to pay you market wages? You’ve already proven you can do the higher level work.

      1. BigSigh*

        The CEO basically said I should start looking: “I understand if you need to do what’s best for you.”

        But I wanted THIS job to be what’s best for me. I like my coworkers and the location. The 401 and insurance also amazing! But I do understand this may just be an opportunity to find something even better. I wouldn’t just jump ship though. It would need to be a great fit.

        1. LawCat*

          I was in a similar position to you (both emotionally on failure to bring pay up to par even with excellent performance, and in terms of my boss going to bat, striking out, and understanding if I had to leave). I liked my coworkers and the benefits as well, but being underpaid was not acceptable to me. I ended up leaving. I am *very happy* in my new position and I was very picky during my search. I make 30% more than I did previously, have great benefits, like my colleagues and managers, and have interesting, challenging work. I urge you to look for that great fit because it may be out there!

          1. Golden Lioness*

            Yes, this!!
            Also remember that because you do have this job and you’re appreciated by the higher ups, you can take your time and be really picky.
            Good luck!

        2. Elizabeth West*

          That sucks. :(

          Go ahead and start looking–it may take a while. Maybe next quarter, you’ll find out more about whether they can manage this or not. In the meantime, you’ll have already gotten your job search underway.

    2. Camellia*

      Well, maybe you can be pleased and happy that you will have a new title to put on your resume and can leverage for a new job where you WILL be compensated for the excellent work you do? That would be delicious revenge…

      1. NarrowDoorways*

        I’m actually worried the new title will hurt my resume. Who gets a new title and immediately starts looking….? And how am I supposed to put that on my resume when all the duties are the same as what I’ve already been doing?

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Who gets a new title and immediately starts looking….?

          I did a little over three years ago. I too got a promotion in title only, my pay remained the same, and I was even told by HR that it wasn’t so much a promotion as a “lateral move” – even though it wasn’t. They just didn’t want to pay me for my new role and increased workload. So I left. During my interview with one of the AVP’s at my current company, she asked why I was looking to leave, and when I told her what HR said, her only response was, “Wow. I see why you want to leave then.” I got the job and now make $20k more a year (base salary – with bonuses it was $27k last year) than I did at my old job.

  35. Marcy*

    Is it rude/antisocial to decline invitations to lunch with colleagues? I’m a slow eater and I find working lunches kind of stressful, like trying to merge into heavy traffic. I’m always trying to gauge when to chew and when to talk. Most often I end up taking the majority of my lunch in a takeaway bag, but that invites the comments of “Oh, you barely ate.” Also, lunch is the one time in the day when I get to take some me time to unwind and browse the internet, so I don’t like having to give that up. My manager could not care less, but some of my coworkers are grumbling that our office isn’t close-knit because we never go to happy hours or have lunches together. I guess I am just a grouch. I already see these people ten hours a day…is it really that grouchy to not want to lunch together too?

    1. MegaMoose, Esq*

      I don’t think it’s rude or antisocial at all, and share many of your feelings about lunches. That said, when this has come up with me in the past I’ve tried to make a point to suggest or agree to lunch about once a month, because it does seem to help grease the wheels and it isn’t so often as to drive me up the wall.

    2. bohtie*

      I usually decline lunch invites because I have a history of disordered eating, so I get really self-conscious about my food choices in front of other people. It helps if you can offer an alternative, like “I can’t do lunch today but do you want to get coffee this afternoon”

      (fwiw my entire office shares your view on work socializing, which is great – we’re already stuck together 9 hours a day and most of my coworkers have commutes that are at least 2 hours round trip so nobody is hanging around for karaoke.)

    3. Mini Snowder*

      I decline most lunch offers at my firm. They usually go places that are pricey and I’m working two jobs to try and unbury myself from debt. I workout during most of my lunches so I generally use that as an excuse. Or that I already brought a lunch for myself and don’t want it to go to waste. They usually don’t press.

      As a side note, I also eat slow and tend to chat too much and take home most of my meal. If people make comments I say something to the effect of, “Ah I just got caught up socializing!” I’m also a bit of a health nut, so while I think people do pass some judgment about my to-go bags, I try not to stress about it.

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      Not grouchy at all! I have dietary restrictions and prefer to bring my own lunches (for safety and to save money). The only time I really try to go to all-team lunches are when they’re going-away lunches– but this depends on the coworker. When my nasty work partner quit, I conveniently had an “appointment” on the day of her goodbye lunch.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      If you basically like your coworkers, I would try to work some compromise.

      Years ago, I had a nice job. I made a massive screw up because the nice people went to lunch together and I did not go. I could not afford to eat out every day so I did not go. I lost the opportunity for some nice friends AND later I got laid off. I think that if I had been more on their radar through these nice people I might have gotten hired back at this nice job.

      Looking back on that whole thing I should have just explained what the problem was and indicated that I would like to go with them once a week or whatever.

      Lots of people eat slow. My husband had an unusually small jaw and had to take smaller bites. I tend to eat fast because my teeth are misaligned and there is really no point to trying to chew. You can just tell them that you are a slow eater and that should offset any remarks about a take home bag. If they say something, “hey, I said I was a slow eater and I was not joking”.

      If everything else about the job is okay, then I would suggest making the effort to go once in a while. I really regret not going out with my coworkers at that job. It did me no favors in the long run.

  36. nhbillups*

    I was at new doctor’s office this morning, and saw a nurse practitioner. She talked to me, then went to confer with the doctor (whom I hadn’t met), then they were both going to come into the room to see me. Well, when they were outside of the room, I could hear the NP talking about me, presumably filling the doctor in (I couldn’t hear every word, but could hear snippets of the conversation). But during the conversation (which was brief, just a couple of minutes), I heard a lot of laughter between them. Especially on the side of the NP. Which makes me wonder if they were making fun of me, but that’s not my question here. I’m thinking that they were unaware I could hear them, and was wondering if I should have said something to them to let them know patients can hear their conversations in that room. My thought was to alert them so they don’t have any issues with violating health information sharing laws (HIPAA), not to complain about them talking/laughing about me. But I couldn’t really think of a way to say it that didn’t sound kind of jerky. Anyone else had this experience? Or anyone here a doctor/nurse who would like to weigh in on whether you’d want to be told about patients being able to overhear your conversations…?

    Thanks so much! Happy Friday, everyone!

    1. JMegan*

      I am neither a doctor nor a nurse, but I do work in health privacy. This is definitely the kind of thing they should want to know about! No need to make it a big deal, just a “I’m not sure if you know this, but it’s really easy to hear your conversations from the waiting room” kind of comment will be fine.

  37. anonykins*

    25% of my division got shitcanned yesterday, and my grandboss either resigned or got fired (no one knows). Today sucks.

  38. Querious*

    Does anyone have any advice for avoiding hugs in a very huggy workplace? They make me super uncomfortable as I grew up in an incredibly possessive and abusive household that has left me with an enduring fear of physical closeness (with all but my partner). I seem to have joined somewhere where they hug frequently and I’m at a loss as to how to decline politely but firmly, especially as people tend to just say ‘Well I DO like hugs’ and just go for it anyway. I want to make sure people know I do like them just no hugs please!!

    1. orchidsandtea*

      It is COMPLETELY INAPPROPRIATE for someone to say “Well I do like hugs” and just go for it anyway. They are crossing boundaries. They are making it awkward. You are not responsible for absorbing all the awkwardness so they don’t have to deal with the consequences of their actions. If it’s awkward, that’s on them.

      Step back, put a hand up, and say “Whoops, no, thank you. But I’ll high five you!”

      1. Gandalf the Nude*

        That’s exactly what I was going to say. Try to preempt it with another friendly gesture like a high five or fist bump. A fun fist bump like “Potato… french fries!” might make it go over even better.

        If someone counters with “Well, I DO like hugs,” you might ask them why that should overrule your dislike of them, though you’d want to keep as non-adversarial a tone as possible.

        1. Isben Takes Tea*

          “Potato…french fries” is AMAZING and I will never be able to think of it otherwise ever again.

      2. AnonAnalyst*

        Yeah, I don’t get what is up with these people. I am also not big on hugs from strangers, but usually just stepping back and saying, “yeah, I’m not a hugger” is enough. I like the suggestion of trying a high five or a fist bump instead in this situation. However, if they continue to insist, I think it’s totally reasonable to put both hands up and just say, “seriously. I am not a hugger. Please stop.”

    2. Venus Supreme*

      Oooh, that’s… odd. If you see them going in for a hug I’d extend my hand for a handshake, smile, then say “Sorry! I’m not a big hugger.” Definitely let them know where your personal boundaries are!

      1. JMegan*

        The handshake is a good one, because your own hand acts as a physical barrier for the potential hugger. And if they are rude enough to push past that and say “Well, I DO like hugs!” and go for it anyway, put both hands up, step back, and say “please don’t.” Let them be embarrassed or awkward or however they respond – as they should be, if they’re ignoring someone’s personal boundaries like that.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      UGH! This would be my nightmare, as well. Growing up I was always forced to kiss and hug relatives I hadn’t seen in years, if ever, so I pretty much rebel against hugs now.

      In my department we always joke about those of us that like hugs and those that don’t. The ones who do like to tell us others that they’re going to come over and just hug us until we can’t take it anymore. It’s in good fun, though, and they don’t actually do it.

      Anyway, I agree with orchidsandtea. The fist bump is good, too, and that’s what I use with my fellow non-hugging coworkers.

    4. Becca*

      I’ve been guilty of doing things that I know make others physically uncomfortable, but usually it involves touching the back of my *husband’s* neck with my freezing hands— I’d never carry through with something like this on a coworker! I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

      There’s always the probably-terrible option of seeing if you could enlist the help of someone who hasn’t done this particular boundary-break but who does like hugs to be your hug stand-in when people are being particularly outrageous. “Hey, Wakeen, can you be my hug stand-in for Jake here? Jake’s got a thirsting need for a warm body to hug, and you know how much hugs and I don’t get along! Thanks!”

      Maybe then the Jakes will see how ridiculous they’re being….

    5. Aloha*

      I REALLY dislike hugging strangers, or pretty much everyone for that matter. A few of my tactics:
      – I stick my hand out in front of me so they can’t hug me without bumping into my outstretched hand.
      – I make very neutral comments such as “Yeah, I don’t like hugging. Not even my family!” or “Good thing we don’t have to all be the same.” “Thanks so much for respecting my wishes!”
      – I step away if someone goes to hug me.
      – If someone says “I DO like hugs” I will usually say “No thank you” and walk away.

    6. TheLazyB*

      Ok that is just plain wrong. I check with my five year old child whether he wants a hug and if he doesn’t?? I DON’T HUG HIM.

      I would try stepping back as well as bringing hands up, either to waist height or shoulder height, depending on how determined they are.

      But mostly I just want to reinforce how not OK this is.

    7. Drew*

      I am a total hugger and I would like to think I would respect someone who said “Really, please don’t.”

      In your situation, I might go with a piercing shriek, followed with, “I’m sorry, I was so startled when you hugged me right after I said I didn’t like them.” However, that calls a lot of attention to yourself, which is probably not your goal. I think the “just turn around and walk away before they get the chance to hug” is a good suggestion.

    8. Jules the First*

      If it’s an office wide thing, I have been known to reply with “Careful – I DO bite” and if they keep coming, a little growl and mock snap usually puts paid to the attempt.

      In a normal, sane office, the proper response is to say out loud “Please don’t touch me.” And then when they do, you get yourself down to HR and explain that Wakeen is hugging you despite your requests that he not hug you. This, my friend, is the definition of harassment.

      1. It's Business Time*

        I always just say – Don’t Touch Me in a loud voice so they are too scared to come near me. If they try to still lean in, I back away and say it again even louder. Works a treat.

  39. ScreenAway*

    Screening calls and announcing callers: yea or nay?

    I am the main receptionist and I also answer the door, which is locked and entrants have to use an intercom before I let them in. Screening and announcing callers is, on a busy day, onerous and sometimes impossible. If the person for whom the call is intended refuses to take the call, I am stuck taking a message which I then send by email. Our phone system is one that does not allow transferring a live call directly to VM.

    On bad/busy days, I am of the opinion that if you don’t know the caller (via call display) or don’t want to answer the phone, let it go to VM.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      At first I was going to say it’s part of the job (I’ve been a receptionist before) – but then I realized your phone system sounds really sucky. What happens if you transfer the caller and the employee doesn’t answer? Does it automatically bounce back to you? It doesn’t go into the person’s voice mail? I can see how that would be annoying. If your company is large, then it’s even more annoying!

      1. ScreenAway*

        No, if I send the call to the extension, and they don’t pick up, it goes to the employee’s VM.

        We are thankfully rather small and it was just normal business calls (sure, name, number, have him call me) it would be less of an issue. But instead, as I said below, it is often name, number, local (“Umm…” – they don’t know their local number quite often), the employer and sometimes, the nature of their problem. And for some of the rank and file members who are upset and anxious, it’s a five-minute tale of woe and their frustrations.

        And, many of these calls are placed on cell phones with varying reception issues. There is frequent “Can you repeat that? You’re cutting out.”

        1. Lily in NYC*

          So why can’t you just transfer people and let them go to the employee’s vm? Are you not allowed?

          1. Just Me and My $0.02*

            I think the idea is that the targeted number doesn’t want to sit there with their phone ringing before it can get to VM.

    2. Aloha*

      The receptionist I sit by usually doesn’t take a message, but says “May I have your name and number for him to call you back?” This way all she does is relay the person and the phone number, not the message.

      If the person is insistent on leaving a voicemail, she transfers it back to the phone and has the individual let it ring to go to VM.

      1. ScreenAway*

        We are an area office where service rep represent several union locals in the area. It’s not just name and number, but name, number, local (“Umm…”), the employer and sometimes, the nature of their problem. And for some of the rank and file members who are upset and anxious, it’s a five-minute tale of woe and their frustrations. Five minutes may not seem long but it is when another call can come in any minute, or the door can ring, or my own rep wants something done.

        Then I have those who don’t want to leave voicemails..

    3. Atrocious Pink*

      This sounds awful. I agree — no reason not to let calls roll when you’re busy or don’t recognize the caller ID. I answer calls for one person who usually answers his own phone but is old-fashioned and thinks people prefer to speak to a human if he’s unavailable. He doesn’t realize they’re usually annoyed that they aren’t allowed to go straight to voice mail. And no, telling him this wouldn’t make a difference. He’s 100% calcified. :)

  40. CU*

    I’m looking for advice on how to juggle appointments with work schedules. I’m hourly, and while I do have a bit of flexibility with my hours, not enough to schedule the weekly physical therapy sessions my son needs on top of the monthly psychiatric appointments I need. And this, of course, eliminates any ability for me to schedule things like eye doctor and dentist appointments. I’ve asked for accommodation and have been allowed to flex four times a month– which covers my son’s appointments unless the days fall so that he had five that month. Using vacation time means I’d be out of PTO half-way through the year. My husband is a temp so gets zero flexibility or PTO, and we have no family in the area, so this falls solely on me. It’s gotten to the point where we’re considering having the be of us quit and take a part-time nights and weekend job so that someone can be home during the day to work with our son and to take him to his therapy appointments, but this would make things so financially tight that we’d likely have to go on government assistance or rely on financial support from our parents, which is something we’d like to avoid if at all possible. I’ve considered FMLA, but I’d have to use all my PTO first, which just means I’d have to take a lot of unpaid time off the second half of the year.

    Sorry this was so long, but has anyone else dealt with this and have any advice?

    1. Bye Academia*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. It can be really frustrating when you can’t access care you need, for any reason.

      The way I have managed it is to specifically look for healthcare providers that offer extended hours. This may be more/less possible depending on your location and how much you like your current psychiatrist and physical therapist. If you’re tied to staying with them, have you tried just explaining your situation? In my experience, some providers specifically hold back the before/after work appointments for people who really need them. Once you ask, there they are. For example, the psychologist I see weekly was able to fit me in at 7 PM.

      As for other appointments, I’ve never had a dentist or an eye doctor that didn’t have early or late timeslots at least one day a week for people with rigid work schedules. But maybe I have just been lucky.

      I hope you’re able to figure something out.

    2. Intern Wrangler*

      Are there any physical therapists that could come to where your son is–if he is in school or daycare, could they do their sessions there? Would he qualify for a PCA who could help with transportation? I have two ideas for how you could learn about resources. You could talk with his doctor’s office and see if they have a patient advocate who could explore options with you. You could also see if you could get help from public health–they wouldn’t do transport, but they might be able to refer you to services that could help. I hope you are able to find some solutions.

    3. British Sorry*

      I’m feeling a lot of sympathy for you right now. My cousin’s just about to age out of his special needs school and go into the adult care system, and it’s a very difficult time.

      I don’t know if this would help (or if it’s even something you would want), but some of my friends Facetime or Skype their therapy appointments, which saves them travel time.

      Does HR or management realise that “4 times a month” is not the same as weekly? (Because that “4 weeks = 1 month” thing can be a weird blindspot for some people/bureaucracies, and I’ve had to point it out before.) Either way, maybe you could go back and ask for your flex to be calculated weekly/yearly instead, 52 times a year instead of 48? Or at least give you the 48 to use as you see fit over the whole year (if your PT has some holiday periods where they close).

      If the alternative is giving up a job, I think it’s reasonable for you and your husband to take a couple of sick days unpaid for your optician and dentist appointments. And I think your husband could take your son for those, since you’re already doing weekly PT. Taking two sick days is unlikely to be a deal breaker for him, even as a temp, but it could be worse for you since you’re already taking flex time (and also sexism, urgh).

      If you can set up the optician’s appointments in the morning, can you schedule the dentist for the afternoon of the same day? Mum did that to me a couple of times when I was a kid. I’ve never been given anything in my eye check ups that prevented me from going to the dentist later (dammit).

      These ideas seem horribly obvious; I wish I had more to offer you, but I don’t know anything about the US healthcare system. Remember to care for yourself as well, as much as you can.

  41. Gillian*

    I attended a big project meeting this week with fancy people from my division and executives from our company’s parent company, mainly as support for our VP as I’m working on the day-to-day deliverables and mostly just to listen.

    I spoke up once to clarify part of the project I was directly involved in, and the response I got from the (female) CMO from the parent company was, “Great. And look at that great smile!”

    I’ve (unfortunately) gotten accustomed to being told to smile by men. I’ve never been told to smile/had my face commented on by another woman… in the middle of a meeting with about 20 other people. I didn’t respond at all and the discussion kept going, but I’m not sure if there was anything else I could have done better.

    I’m not too worried about what the leadership from my company will think, both of the VP-level directors that were in the meeting know me and like my work. But I can’t help but keep thinking about this. Thoughts?

    1. MegaMoose, Esq*

      That would make me feel terribly uncomfortable as well, but I can’t say I would have done anything about it either.

    2. CM*

      In that situation, I don’t think you can do anything. Except maybe after the fact say casually to your own director, “It was weird that she commented on my smile.”

    3. LS Admin*

      Ha. Ironically it sounds like she was trying – albeit in a somewhat patronizing manner – to make you as a “junior” feel more welcome and valued for your work and enthusiasm. To me that’s very different than being told to smile – especially by a man – which calls for a punch in the face unless you’re auditioning for a performance role. I would just take it as her awkward attempt at a compliment.

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

      That was odd and rude and I’m sure it will reflect badly on her. For situations like that, I have a loaded left eyebrow and I’m not afraid to use it.

  42. Venus Supreme*

    I’m in a bit of a predicament. I don’t have to make a decision on this soon but it’s something that’s been at the forefront of my mind and I’m looking for different opinions/advice.

    When I was in college, I studied abroad in London for a semester. I absolutely loved it. It’s been one of my long-term goals to live as an expat in London for at least two years. My boyfriend is on the same page as me and would join me when that time comes to move to England. I work in theatre and OMG the theatre scene is incredible there versus America.

    I was approached by my abroad program professor asking if I would be interested in working as the program director’s assistant. It would be for this year’s London program (about 14 weeks). They would pay for housing and any programs I coordinate for the students, along with a stipend, for 20 hours of work per week.

    The problem is I already have a full-time job. I’ve been here for almost a year, and this is my second Adult Job ever. It’s in the industry I want to be in, but the work itself is not what I want to do. The best way I can describe my job is comfortable. The people are tolerable (no big issues but it’s not a dream team), the commute is good, benefits are meh, and the pay is helping me pay the rent and the groceries. It’s absolutely possible for me to work remotely (grantwriting) but I can’t see myself taking this opportunity just to return to America without a salaried job.

    I don’t know what to do. If it were a perfect world and I could do whatever I want, I’d be on the next plane to Europe. I’m not married, I don’t have outstanding debt, I’m young, and I don’t have kids to take care of (yet). However, in terms of career stuff and based on the advice I’ve read throughout this blog, working as a programs assistant in London for 14 weeks doesn’t sound reasonable.

    I talked to a couple coworkers and they said I could make a compelling case– I could work remotely part-time with a part-time pay while I’m abroad and then return to work full-time. The program happens to fall at a not-busy time for my organization, which is a plus. Our organization is also in the process of working more with making all our documents Internet accessible, so it would be easy for me to access all my work from a computer (which is the goal for this technical move– we’re moving buildings and want to make the paper load as minimal as possible).

    I don’t need to make a decision any time soon. But I want to know if this is something within my reach. A lot of people are giving me the “You’re young! Do it!” schpiel, but I don’t want to do things willy nilly. I’m friends with the girl who was the programs assistant when I was a student– she’s now in graduate school, so she wasn’t coming off of a full-time job when she went.

    Thoughts? Anything else I should consider?

    1. SophieChotek*

      Is there any chance this would turn into a FT job? Or lead to something else?
      14 weeks honestly does not seem worth it — a year I could see.
      I love the theater scene in London too (and have a degree in theater) and think the opportunity sounds amazing too — so I totally see your dilemma.

      1. Venus Supreme*

        I don’t think it could lead to a full-time job. The program is through my university and I’ve never heard of this job translating into a FT-position. I mean, I could easily apply the skills learned from my experience into an event planning/programming job… but I would have to apply to that.

        Ugh. A friend of mine got his master’s in theatre arts in London this year. So jealous!

    2. Newby*

      Why not talk to your boss about it? Your coworkers seem to think it isn’t a crazy thing to ask for, so it shouldn’t hurt your reputation if they say no an you accept it. If your boss is on board, go for it. If it would cause problems, then think hard about what you want to do. You are trying to make a decision without all the information.

      1. Venus Supreme*

        I’m so nervous to tell my boss! She has a different relationship with me versus my coworker. Coworker and I are the same age and the same job level, but she’s been working here since she was in intern 5 years ago and I went to college/had a job/started here last Spring. Boss has told me she sees coworker as a “second daughter.” Coworker told me she could totally see this “working abroad” thing happening, but I fear she’s telling me this based on how Boss has treated her in the past. Literally just yesterday Boss got angry at me for overnighting something via FedEx instead of USPS– not because of the cost difference, but because of how the recipient would view it coming from FedEx and not the post office. (?!)

    3. Lily in NYC*

      Listen to the people who are saying that you are young and to just do it. My biggest regret now that I’m getting older is that I didn’t take risks like this when I was your age. And honestly, it’s not that big of a risk – you sound very hire-able.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Hell yeah. Approach the boss with the situation lined out–“Here’s how I propose to keep up with this (part time work) and this and I plan to return at X date.” The worst she can say is no, and then you go from there–either skip it or take it and get another job when you come back. Or whatever.

        I’m dying. I would love to spend even 14 weeks there. My only caveat would be that working part-time while also doing a ton of other stuff is tiring. I did research/fun stuff during the day and then went home at night and worked for about four hours, while there for only a couple of weeks, and it made for some LOOOOONG days. Mostly because of the time difference–I needed to be online when my colleagues were also, so I was on VPN from six to around midnight GMT. >_<

        If you can do your part-time work whenever you want, that shouldn't be a problem. Depending on how intense the program is, you could work around it and still make your deadlines.

        1. Venus Supreme*

          Yeah, my concern with doing both part-time jobs is burning out. The program assistant (while I was a student there) had a lot on her plate simply being the program assistant. In addition to coordinating events for us, she was also the mediator when there was drama and burned out a lot of fires regarding student/social drama. She also had to attend all the events she coordinated. I don’t know if I could honestly say my evenings would be free…

          I’m worried what interviewers would say if they see on my resume: I left OldJob because it was Toxic, and I left ThisJob because I wanted to go to London. All within two years. I know I’m young, but I feel like doing this would contradict Alison’s advice about not looking like a job hopper.

          I have a good relationship with my old professor who approached me about this, and I asked her if there were other opportunities where I could work in London. She’s an anthropologist who’s literally worked all over the world and I hope she’ll help me make my dream a reality. I’d be happy moving to London in a year or two.

      2. Golden Lioness*

        Me three! No regrets, Venus Supreme! You are young and can make it work.

        And, even if that particular job cannot be turned full time, you can still make enough connections that may lead to a job with a different organization.

        I see no downside here, and you may still get your boss to agree to let you work remote.

      3. Bonky*

        Absolutely could not agree more. You really don’t get chances like this later in life; please do it now, while you can. It’s really not that great a risk, and you’ll be building experiences and relationships that you’ll be able to take with you and draw upon for the rest of your career.

    4. Leslie Knope*

      I think based on your boss’ personality you could float the idea by her. I know I have had to negotiate different hours once when I was taking on a short term gig for my uncle’s company and it actually ended up working well for everyone involved!

      Using Alison’s amazing vernacular, you could probably say “I got this email from my former professor and they asked if I’d consider coming to run a program in England for 14 weeks from X to X date. Based on my love of English theater, I’d kick myself if I didn’t float this opportunity by you to see if there was a possibility of figuring out a mutually beneficial arrangement. I really appreciate my job here and would never want to jeopardize my position or career path, this has just been a dream of mine and I at least wanted ask the question.”

    5. Lemon Zinger*

      Definitely talk to your boss about it. I know you’re nervous, but it can’t hurt to get your boss’s input on the situation and see if something can be worked out.

      A former colleague of mine did seasonal work abroad, totally unrelated to our field. She got her supervisor to let her go. She used all her PTO and was then allowed to take unpaid time off for the rest of it. She was only gone for three weeks, but it was an unusual arrangement that ended up working well.

    6. Isben Takes Tea*

      What really stands out to me is that you are getting stipend and housing for part-time work in a really expensive place to live that you LOVE. 14 weeks is not insignificant!

      Especially because of the no outstanding debt, I’m leaning go–GO! You’ll have a much easier time finding work in London once you’re there and comfortably seated (and only working 20 hours/week!) then trying to either a) get a job from here, or b) showing up with nothing.

      I really respect that you don’t want to be willy-nilly. Maybe go with a plan: If I don’t get a continuing job by week X, then I’ll return home and get another grant-writing job. Know what you’re prepared to do, and when. Most people would be better off with a bit more willy-nilly in their lives. :-)

      1. Venus Supreme*

        Haha I’m working on the spontaneity part! I think mostly because I live on my own and I don’t have my parents as a safety net anymore, I’m a lot more cautious.

    7. Dankar*

      I don’t want to sound like the chorus you’re already hearing, but seriously: Do it. I’m also young, unmarried and relatively debt free. If I could hop on a plane tomorrow with the promise of a temporary position that pays the bills/living costs, I would do it. You never know what being abroad will bring, what doors this will open up in your career even if you return to America, or whether this will turn into something full-time and permanent.

      I work in a study abroad office, so I’m probably biased, but global experience is a big win for a lot of fields, so this certainly won’t harm your career in any way. Be conscientious of moving costs, don’t take a lot with you until when/if you know London is where you’ll be making a permanent move, and ask whether the place you’ll be housed comes furnished. If it does, you can “move” with a few suitcases max and save some money on that.

      Seriously, GO! And congrats on being offered this amazing opportunity!

      1. Venus Supreme*

        Thank you! Yeah, this is an incredible opportunity. And it’s with a program I’ve done before so I generally know what to expect. My concern is that I haven’t been at this position too long, and I don’t know if I have the relationship to get the higher-ups to sway in my favor. (example: I asked if I could take off one hour a month to work with my high school professor as a teaching artist and it took 6 months for them to say yes) When I talk about it out loud it sounds very far-fetched and I don’t know if I’m important enough here that the bosses would let me go and return to my job… I definitely think it doesn’t hurt to ask!

    8. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Outside of sorting out your current work situation, there is the big one of visas. Especially with this government.

      I expect the one for the theatre program is specific and that will be arranged (hence the 20 hour work limit). However, the visa terms usually preclude additional work on top of the 20 part time, including remote work- therefore working part time for your other company would be more than 20 hours and *technically* against the visa rules. THAT being said, govt rules always lag behind reality and I really have to wonder if all those folks doing remote work in coffee shops were actually up front and completely honest at the border :)

      Float it past your boss, if they are willing and you go through with this then potentially find out what visa type this is and get a look at the paperwork (online usually). There are some knowledgeable folks over at the UK Yankee forum who know the rules inside and out and can advise. If you decide to go anyway and leave your job then take advantage of all the time you are given to see if there is potential to be sponsored to move over here (Tier 2). If you can make any sort of pre-connections through social media or planned meetups or something before you come that is even better. This city gets very small when you start running with people in your field. I can imagine who you know goes double for something like theatre.

      I came to London on a BUNAC visa in ’99 – took me 15 years to come back (to live) but I made it… just under the line (we will be eligible for permanent residency 6 weeks before Brexit is complete in two years). I get the wanting to do something when you are young and without debt. Frankly I would go for it because in these times, who knows if a chance like this will come again?

    9. British Sorry*

      Go for it. We most regret the risks we don’t take.

      I’d look at it as 14 weeks for you to go around London and look into opportunities to turn your expat dream into a reality. Put your resume in with local recruiters & talk to people face to face; check out the university programs if you want to go for a Masters/PhD/whatever; network with the local theatre scene and make as many connections as you can; and put this job on your resume to show that you’ve already worked in London and know what you’re getting into as an expat.

      I live in outer London and local rent is £800pcm for a double room in a shared house; if you’re going to have a short commute to your workplace, then financially, free housing plus a stipend is a really good deal for you, especially if it includes bills like gas/electric/water & landline/basic internet.

      One of the ways humans are predictable is that we prefer people we’ve met over strangers, so this is a valuable chance to network in another country, which could pay off immediately, never, or decades down the line. Job-hopping for an opportunity like this would be understandable, especially for a young person in the theatre community, which is more international than many sectors.

      Alison says it’s easier to get a job if you have a job; it’s also easier to get an expat job if you’re working as an expat.

  43. anonykins*

    On a different note:

    I just secured a part-time job, and I’m finally in a position where I don’t *need* it but am only doing it for extra money. Yay! I have never had this situation before, so I’m trying to work out the logistics of my availability. It is the kind of job where I’ll receive a fair amount of communication outside of work hours, will need to prep for work, and will often be called for last-minute coverage. In the past I have been overly accommodating in work to the point that it has probably harmed my financial and mental health, and I would like to not bend over backwards for this particular job. I have already decided that I will not answer emails during work hours for my day job (although it would be easy to do so) and will not reschedule social events just to take on extra shifts at the part time job. What other personal policies do you think I should have in place to mark myself as the kind of worker who will show up and do a great job when scheduled but not as someone to be relied on for last minute or above-and-beyond work?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      If you get too limited, they may cut you loose. I think that no emails/no calls during your your time a FT job is very reasonable and probably should have been in place right along.
      It sounds like a good plan not to take extra shifts if you already made a commitment for the evening.

      I’d probably stop there, because too much more and they might say they don’t need you.
      If you have a particular goal with this second job, that is one thing. But if you are just doing the job while not really wanting it, it could be that you may want to consider what else you would like to do with your spare time.

  44. Tyler*

    I started a new job a few weeks ago and when I received my first paystub, it was very different than the salary I negotiated. I had settled on salary, vacation and benefits before accepting the offer and like most people (I think), I assumed that the vacation and benefits were perks/amounts on top of the salary to form total compensation.

    My paystub showed my salary as being lower with the vacation and benefit dollar amounts as benefit additions. All of this added up to what my negotiated salary was – for example, $26,000 a year would be $1,000 bi-weekly. What my new employer has done is say that my salary is $900 with vacation and benefits worth $100 to get me to the $1,000. So really, the salary is $23,400 annually and not the $26,000. These are just sample numbers to illustrate, but the discrepancy is much larger and works out to be around 6 to 7 grand for me in take-home pay.

    I negotiated my offer in good faith and had I known about this company’s practices, I would have declined the offer because it’s a decrease in pay compared to me previous job. I’ve spoken with my boss about this and have only gotten a line about it being company policy and that salary increments are done annually and mine is not open for renegotiation at this time.

    I’ve started looking for new opportunities again and I think it would be easy to explain to a future employer about why I’m looking to make a move so quickly. This whole experience has thrown me for a loop and I’m not at all happy with this situation. I’d like to throw it out there to other readers and commenters because I don’t know if I can be unbiased in taking a hard look at this – is this normal for companies to have policies like this on pay or is this just a company that’s completely out of touch?

    1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      I’ve personally never run into a company that tried to tie benefits dollar amounts into my salary dollar amount. I’m not sure what benefits you are specifically talking about but I’ve never seen vacation listed as a dollar amount and, again, never tied into being part of my actual pay. I’ll be very interested to see what others have to say as this is completely off base for what has been typical for me working at both small and large companies.

      I do agree with you that this sounds like a completely reasonable reason to be moving along to something else rather quickly.

      1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

        COming back to say that specifically for vacation, I know that some companies allow you to “cash out” unused days but only at the time when you are cashing them out do they get tied to a dollar amount; i’ve never seen the cash value built into a salary.

        1. not so super-visor*

          I’m so grateful that I work for a company that lets us cash in vacation. This month alone, we had the fridge, dishwasher, and the water heater all die. Cashing in 40 hours helped me close the gap on what was in my savings for emergencies and buying 3 new appliances. They definitely don’t tie it in as part of my salary though

    2. MegaMoose, Esq*

      That is absurd and you are completely right to be unhappy with the situation. I have never heard of a company agreeing to pay you X Salary + Y Benefits and then finding out they actually meant X Salary – Y Benefits.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I’m curious what the language used in the formal offer was. Was it something like, “Salary of $26,000 inclusive of vacation time and company benefits”? I’m just wondering how they get around justifying this practice.

    4. CAA*

      I have seen offer letters that say something like $x salary and benefits valued at $y. Also, on my current job’s check stubs, the earnings section is divided into salary, PTO, holiday, etc, but the total of all those numbers is exactly 1/26th of my annual salary.

      You shouldn’t have any problem explaining to a new employer that you’re looking again so soon because they did not pay you the amount that you had agreed on and that was in your written offer letter.

      1. Robin*

        My husband’s offer letter at his job looked like this. At the bottom it says “total compensation” and gives a figure about 8k above his actual salary. But they break it out to show that it includes pay, medical, phone allowance, etc and the value of each.

    5. Emac*

      I’m wondering if this is legal, too. Did you get an offer letter or a verbal offer? It might be worth checking with an employment lawyer about the language used.

    6. writelhd*

      For me paid vacation time is listed as a subset of my salary as you describe, but other benefits are not. In other words my yearly salary is X (and X was stated as my salary when I signed on), during which year I can take Y hours of PTO as I desire and my weekly paycheck amount won’t change. If i take PTO in a week then the “wages” line has less money and the “PTO” line has some prorated amount of money in it, that all totals to the same every week. I myself hadn’t thought this wasn’t normal.

    7. LawCat*

      This is really bizarre and I’ve never heard of it before. You might try one more time with boss. “Boss, I negotiated for $26,000 salary, but I am only receiving $23,400 salary. The company’s unique policy of deducting vacation and benefits from the total salary figure was not communicated during my pay negotiation. Is there someone in HR or payroll that I should take this to?” I’d send a follow up email about the outcome of this conversation.

      Do you have documentation of your salary negotiations? Depending on the amount at stake vs. the hassle factor, it might be worth pursuing a claim in small claims court against the company to recover your lost salary once you have a new position. The internet is a good place to find info on filing small claims in your state (if in the U.S.)

    8. Chriama*

      This is *super* highly unethical. Do you have anything written (even email) discussing your salary? Did they do some tricky wordsmithing? Either way, you should leave. They absolutely knew what they were doing and are relying on inertia to keep you here.

  45. Moriarty*

    Next Friday, I’ll be having a meeting with the higher ups to justify them keeping my job. Has anyone gone through this and how should I prep? I’m the newest employee with the least amount of work… should I just jump ship?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Whaaaat? Are they wanting to justify your position or justify YOU?
      To my way of thinking it’s up to your boss to explain to his bosses why he needs you.

      I would not jump, worse case scenario see if you can negotiate severance or maybe move to a position they are keeping open.

    2. LawCat*

      What do you mean “just jump ship”? Quit before they can lay you off? I’d definitely be looking if you have the least amount of work as there may not be enough work for you to justify the expense of keeping you on, but I wouldn’t quit without something lined up as that would jeopardize receiving unemployment benefits and a chance to negotiate for severance.

    3. Chaordic One*

      I don’t understand why you would have to do this. Is there a performance issue with the quality of your work? Now that they’ve hired you, do they think they don’t have enough work to justify your continued employment? This is weird.

  46. The Other Dawn*

    ACK! In the time it took me to write my post 118 comments got posted.

    My husband, Dan, mentioned last night that he saw an internal job posting that would be a lateral move for him: same department (security), same job. Dan works for a huge company that has several names under it and is basically all over the country, and he’s been there for 15 years. He’s got all the security clearances he would need, so it would just be a matter of some paperwork and training on the new location.

    The posting is at one of these other company names, which is under the same large umbrella, and would cut about 40 miles one-way from his daily commute (halleluiah!!). The posting doesn’t say anything about whether it’s 1st, 2nd, or 3rd shift, which he would want to know. Normally he could just call someone and ask, but he doesn’t know anyone in the other company and their HR isn’t great; it wouldn’t be confidential. He could just apply and then ask when he’s contacted, but the other problem is the way job postings work in his company: when he applies, an email is automatically sent to his boss. His boss, John, is…not great. John used to be part of the team and then moved into the manager position maybe 5 years ago, and all his team members say “he has forgotten where he came from and how things work in reality.” Typically when someone on his team applies to another internal posting, they’re treated as though they’re expendable and that they betrayed him. Likewise, when one of them leaves the company for another job they’re not welcome back if things don’t work out. Basically, you made your bed, now lie in it.
    So, my husband doesn’t want to just apply and then find out the shift timing during the phone screen or interview, since John will get an email as soon as he applies and then he will likely suffer some subtle consequences. He wants to find out the shift information beforehand, but isn’t sure how to do that since he doesn’t know anyone at all at the other company. My suggestion to him was to check the company directories and figure out who heads the department and then contact them to ask for more information about the job. It’s a lateral move doing the same exact thing, so he really just want to know which shift it would be. And since it’s really the same company overall, I don’t see this as being on the same level as an external candidate bugging the hiring manager for information.

    Any other suggestions? I can’t think of any other way, and I don’t want him to burn a bridge with his (unreasonable) boss just to find out that it’s 3rd shift and he doesn’t want it.

    1. orchidsandtea*

      (I hear you — I posted when there were 5 comments but it got stuck in moderation and now there’s 185!)

      I think, in this case, it’d be perfectly fine. Especially since he has one simple question vs just wanting attention, and the consequences for not doing it this way are fairly high. But others may see it differently.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I agree. The only other thing I can think of is if he went to the building and asked the security who worked there. I don’t think that is a first choice idea, though.

    2. AnonAnalyst*

      Probably a long shot, but are there any colleagues he is friendly with that might know someone at the company and would be willing to make the connection? If not, I think your idea is probably the best given the situation.

  47. KiteFlier*

    I posted a couple of weeks ago about options for taking time off or leaving my job because my boss gives me so much anxiety about doing any little thing wrong. Well, I got a new job! It’s a much better commute and I’ll be the only person in my field in the office, so basically I’m the expert! It’s a smaller company so there is far less red tape, everyone expressed how there really aren’t politics, and I had great conversations with everyone I met with. In addition, I got a call yesterday that I’ll actually be managing someone and they are adjusting my title accordingly. I’m so excited! Thanks to all for your previous advice.

    Side note, I’m going to inquire about ADHD testing with my doctor, because after doing a lot of research, I’m certain that my anxiety isn’t the only issue at hand.

    1. Arielle*

      Re: ADHD testing, definitely do the testing. It’s a really interesting process and you learn a lot about the way your brain functions. I just got diagnosed at age 32, and even without meds, just knowing the diagnosis has really helped me consciously come up with ways to mitigate it. (Mainly, writing EVERYTHING down. Bullet journaling has been so helpful that I feel like it should be covered by insurance.)

  48. Berry*

    I just found out ten minutes ago that I’ve officially received an offer! I’ve been searching for almost a year and a half (and it’s a short term entry level contract role) but it’s in the field I want to go into and I’m just so happy that finally something has happened!

    Thanks to Allison and everyone for your advice!

    Now I just have to figure out how to accept an offer and all that… time to go to the archives.

    1. Isben Takes Tea*

      That’s HUGE! Congratulations! (My house always has I Got a Raise Cheesecake to celebrate :-D)

  49. designbot*

    Had a couple of good conversations this week leading up to reviews next week and got reassurance that people were aware of my title/duty disparity and are working on a solution. The bad news is that this issue is not an issue specific to me, it’s that the company is a little mixed up when it comes to titles generally, so it’s not as straightforward as I hoped it’d be. But at least we’re all in agreement that my present title does not suit my actual job duties and is making things harder than they need to be.

  50. Cheryl Blossom*

    Does anyone have a side gig?

    I’m thinking about looking for one to help pay down student loans faster. Ideally it would be work from home type gig. I’ve seen a lot of ads looking for transcriptionists, freelance writers etc but they’ve often seemed sketchy. If you know of a trusted company I’d love to hear about it!

    1. SophieChotek*

      I know some people have mentioned being able to grade standard tests from home.
      (I do that too, but I have to actually go somewhere to do the grading, though I think the company I work for is looking to move eventually towards doing it from home.)
      Not sure which companies do it from home.

    2. Cheryl Blossom*

      Also, how do you maintain work life balance when already working full time? I work FT with some regular OT approx 2-6 hrs/wk (unpaid – hence side gig question, but I get comp time off in lieu which is lovely).

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I worked a PT gig on Tuesday and Thursday evenings plus every other Saturday. The only time it got complicated was when my family had a lot of stuff going on and I would be out every evening. But overall, I got into the groove and was fine working both jobs.

      1. Cheryl Blossom*

        Yeah, I’ve thought about it, but I don’t think I’d be that great at it. Also, as an introvert I think my side gig might be better if it didn’t involve people. I’m a classic nerdy bookworm type. Lol

    3. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      I have a side gig writing for the company I worked for before my current job. It works out great because I’m keeping a slightly different skill-set fresh, and I like the work a lot more than my current job.

      I also used to have a side gig tutoring middle and high schoolers through a tutoring company. It was great and pretty flexible.

    4. NDQ*

      My side hustle is a multi-family rental property. The income is steady, but the actual work is sporadic. My government day job qualifies me for the public service forgiveness program. My strategy has been to keep my AGI as low as I can which keeps my income-based payment low. I am about halfway thru the 10 years of payments.

  51. Emac*

    Can I, and how would I, reach out to a work contact to ask about future opportunities at her company?

    I saw a job advertised that showed a nonprofit I’ve worked with in the past is starting a new program. The actual job advertised is way above what I am capable of right now, but it is the type of job I’d like to be doing in five years or so. And I imagine that once they hire this person, they will be looking to fill other positions on the team.

    The person I know there does a similar job in a different department, so she wouldn’t be directly connected with the new program. But I think she’d have some idea of what’s going on. And I don’t know her that well, so would it be weird to ask her if she knows what’s going on with the program and what kinds of positions they’ll be hiring for in the future?

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I don’t think it would be weird. Just send her an email saying something like, “I saw X being advertised and I thought of you. Do you mind if I pick your brain about X program?”

      And then see where it goes from there.

      1. Mirax*

        Seconded! I like to phrase it as, “Can I take you out for coffee and pick your brain about X?” to make it clear that I’m treating them in exchange for their expertise.

  52. Jade*

    How does everyone feel about self-evaluations at work? My bosses hand them out to us at meetings every few months and have us fill them out. It’d be a nice tool for reflecting on strengths and weaknesses, but then our bosses have us hand them in. It’s weird to me that my personal opinions of how I do my job are being written down and handed to my bosses. I never feel comfortable being honest, so I give myself all top marks anyway. Thoughts?

    1. Oh, here we go again*

      I HATE self evaluations. The people who are the worst employees are so clueless and have such low standards, they think they are doing great. Whereas, the people who are the best employees hold themselves to a higher standard and are harder on themselves. It is total BS.

      Sorry, that probably wasn’t helpful. I just had to rant about how stupid these are.

      1. HR Sam*

        That’s why I do self-evaluations so the manager can review and give a reality check to the employee if necessary. Just FYI so you know that others know it’s a problem, maybe put it in a different light?

        1. Oh, here we go again*

          I disagree. The manager should be giving feedback on a regular basis. If an employee is struggling, they should be letting them know the consequences of not improving (including termination) and following through accordingly. If an employee is still clueless after that, a self-evaluation is a waste of time.

        2. Bonky*

          Dunning-Kruger’s a real problem. You’ll encounter people who are not competent to realise they’re incompetent. Self-evaluation isn’t going to help there, and it’s not going to serve your high performers either; they’re actually much more likely to mark themselves artificially *low*. Everybody should be receiving regular feedback, good and bad – that’s just good management. Don’t stress your people out by making them do this. It’s not helpful, and could even be the opposite. The manager doesn’t need this information for review if she’s doing her job well.

          1. Jade*

            I wonder if this is their alternative to properly managing us. I’m newer here, but I get the feeling management is pretty out of touch with us. A coworker said people’s reviews at the end of the year tend to include language ripped from your self-evaluations. She took that to mean management wanted us to do the evaluating for them. I guess I’ll find out in a few months.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      Every few months is overkill. I don’t mind my self evals because it is part of my yearly evaluations and I just talk about my assigned goals and how I accomplished each one. I couldn’t handle free-range, talk about anything kind of self evaluations.

    3. Cassandra*

      I think there’s a difference between self-evaluation of performance and self-evaluation of, well, self.

      Our annual-review system works the former way: a series of tables and questions designed to pull out what you’ve done over the last year and (insofar as measures exist) how well you’ve done it. Most of it is stuff our entire department is graded on, so it only makes sense to have each of us contribute our own piece of the pie. The review document ends with revisiting goals set last year, and setting new goals for the coming year. I like this system a lot, and wouldn’t change a thing about the overall approach. (I do have quibbles about some information collected… but it’s information required of all of us by the Powers That Be, so it’s not a hill I plan to die on.)

      Evaluating myself as a person, though? Nope. That’s between me, my spouse, and perhaps one or two very close friends. Utterly inappropriate in the workplace.

    4. Marcy*

      I hate them. I treat them like a game of chicken, and give myself top or near top marks. I figure if my boss disagrees, that segues into a more meaningful conversation. So far he has never disagreed.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I think they are a waste of time. It could be that just the evals I have seen are poorly done.

      The last place that had them, the questions were so vague you weren’t even sure what would be covered under that question. Our boss finally said, just write anything on any blank lines and we’d sort it later. So must be I was not the only one. Worse yet, the evals were sprung on you. You had to stop everything and do it. Meanwhile the coworkers were falling further and further behind.

      Another place, never updated their questions. It was the same stupid questions that it had been for over a decade. So I just wrote the same thing every year. That boss did not want any blanks. That place would tell you to your face that you were Heaven Sent and then write on paper that you were an average worker.

    6. Aglaia761*


      At my job, self evaluations are tied to our yearly goals. So we are directed to make sure that our answers reflect our goals and how we are tracking towards reaching them.

      Can you do something like that for yours? Because then, when it’s time for new yearly goals you can see how you’ve progressed over the year.

    7. Evergreen*

      Meh, I don’t mind – it helps get my performance review focussed onto areas where our opinions diverge (rather than getting caught up in a discussion of us agreeing with each other)

      But if I’m reading between the lines correctly it sounds like you don’t have a follow up conversation? If so, yeah that’s dumb and pointless.

  53. Bend & Snap*

    Well, the 6-month job search saga is over, because I give up (I’m currently unhappily employed).

    I’ve been posting here about a Fortune 30 company who brought me in twice before the jobs were posted publicly, for 2 different roles. It took me months to network my way in there and get to the right people.

    11 interviews, 2 packages of work samples, references, zero feedback except for “please drop everything and talk to this VP.” They went dark last month. Not even a quick acknowledgement of my email with information they had requested.

    Then after I followed up with the recruiter, who had never texted me before, he texted me a rejection at 7pm the other night. “Extending an offer to another candidate, sorry it didn’t work out!” He did say that they may have another role open up but at this point I don’t think I would pursue it.

    Is this just par for the course? It was a significant time investment on my part. And I set my sights on this company years ago so it’s really sucking that I can’t achieve a goal I set for myself.

    Basically my ego is shredded and the whole thing is pretty demoralizing. Words of wisdom?

    1. CM*

      Ugh, I’m so sorry. As Alison has said, there is such a double standard about the hoops we jump through for prospective employers and the consideration that they give job-seekers.

      I wouldn’t think of this as not achieving a goal. You successfully networked your way in, talked to 11 people at the company, and got them to seriously consider you. That’s a big foot in the door that will get you closer, if it’s still a goal of yours to work at this company at some point.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Holy crap. I don’t think radio silence is normal for someone who has had 11 interviews at a company! F*ck them. They don’t deserve you. And I would rip that recruiter a new one (unless you still need him).

      1. Bend & Snap*

        It was final rounds for both. That’s why I’m ????????

        they liked my skills and experience. They said my salary requirements were in range. So…did they not like me? my work samples? Was someone else just better and if so was it an advanced degree, or something else? My experience is exactly what they do (I currently work for a competitor) sooooo why the double whammy rejection?

        Anything would be helpful. It’s hard not to WTF when they so freely took my time and gave me absolutely no insight into my candidacy beyond bringing me to the finals.

        I think the recruiter got in touch because I had been checking the online status like a psycho to see if they’d closed me out.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I would have the same exact reaction. They probably just decided another top candidate was a better fit but their silence is unprofessional. I totally understand never hearing back after sending a resume, but once you get to the interview stage, I think it’s inexcusable not to communicate with the candidates at every stage. People don’t like to give people bad news and I think that’s the main reason some employers just disappear after an interview. It’s such a crappy thing to do.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          I lost out on a role in a similar situation about 4 years ago. The process took four months. I figured out who they hired because his job came open, and I got called by that company’s recruiter. Didn’t get that job either. And then the original company referred me internally to a position that I didn’t think was a great fit anyway, and I didn’t get that role. Like you, I threw in the towel at that point.

          Ultimately, the VP the original job reported two ended up leaving the company within a year, and the CEO also changed in a year (that was known at the interview). I stayed where I was and made an internal transfer a year later to a position I’m still in. It’s a different career path, but I feel MUCH more valued by my current managers and team than I did in my previous role.

          I hope something great comes your way soon.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Just an anecdotal data point: A similar thing happened to me last year. I had about 6 or 7 interviews, invested a lot of time in the company’s process, took off a bunch of days from work in order to attend all those interviews, and then got rejected. Four months later, a similar role opened up on another team, and the recruiter fast-tracked me to the hiring manager. I got hired 3 weeks later.

      Keep the faith, and keep plugging away!

    4. AndersonDarling*

      My husband went through a situation like this. 3 in person interviews stretched over 9 months. The last interview was with the divisional VPs and they scheduled an after hours interview for him. And this was for an entry level role! Three months after the last interview he called to see what happened and after 2 weeks of bouncing between HR folks he was finally told that he had been rejected. But HR had switched systems so all the open positions fell into limbo. No one was telling any candidates that their job applications were closed.

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Take a step back, take a breath, and give it some space. Sometimes I think we can get so wrapped up in chasing after the carrot we aren’t even sure if thats the carrot we want or the right carrot at the right time.

      This last summer I went through 10 HOURS of psych and aptitude assessment, INCLUDING two rounds of interviews with psychologists, all sorts of crazy online testing etc, IN ADDITION to three rounds of interviews, both of which lasted two hours (scheduled for 45 mins each), one of which involved presenting for a half hour on a topic (with powerpoint) the hiring manager sent at 3.30 pm on a Friday….the interview was on Monday at 2. Her boss sounded like he was ready to hire me etc. aaaannndddd.. crickets.

      Took her two weeks to decide that I hadn’t made just the right point in the presentation even though I scored very high in aptitude, capability, discussion, persuasiveness, etc etc etc. Whatever, I figured that any place who couldn’t make a decision quickly with that much information and boss was sending last minute requests late on a Friday was company I didn’t need to be joining (even though the employee benefit on the product was incredible.)

      So look at it like that – was that the kind of work environment that would have been positive for growth? Enable a good level of work life balance? Or a place where you would be barked at and backstabbed?

      Blessing in disguise at this point, but go with the flow for now. Every interview gets you closer to a new job, this way you just got a whole bunch out of the way, along with some bad juju!

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        forgot to add – I was working with a recruiter who had heavily screened me at first and SHE was the one who had to chase the hiring manager for a response otherwise I doubt I would have ever found out.

    6. DoDah*

      Ugh, so heartbreaking, I am so sorry. I literally was rejected for a role this morning, so I feel for you. My saga consisted of 5 interviews, two writing exercises, gave a 2 hour presentation. Apparently they “liked me enough to be the best candidate out of twenty, but they not sure they want to hire me.” So—they’re starting all over again.

      Could it be you are over-qualified? OR confident enough in your skills to pose a threat to someone on the hiring chain? Please keep applying. I am forcing myself to apply for 10 new positions this weekend.

      I wish you the best!

  54. Drama Llama's Mama*

    I am an analyst with a consulting group. My whole team works remotely (management, consultants, analysts, etc.). I primarily support a particular consultant and do side work as needed for other consultants depending on my capacity. I have been asked to mentor another analyst on my team that supports a different consultant, and have been working with this person on assignments by having a call to discuss what is being asked for, reviewing the work before sending, working through a checklist, etc. What I have noticed is lacking is, honestly, critical thinking skills and attention to detail. My coworker is perfectly capable of executing routine requests that don’t deviate very much from our basic analysis, but more complicated requests become a quagmire quickly. I am in search of methods to try as I want everyone on my team to be successful (because it means a more balanced workload for all of us if everyone’s work can be trusted), but I don’t have any good thoughts on how to teach critical thinking and attention to detail. Aside from walking through my own process and approach to requests and just time and practice, does anyone here have any good ideas?

    1. Jules the First*

      I too struggled with the task of teaching critical thinking. What worked best in the end was sitting down and asking leading questions – what kinds of things do you think you should look at? Why? Is there anything else? What about, say, teapot handle ergonomics? Why might that be important?

      It was slow, but done in tandem with me talking through what I do when I’m analysing something, it did help.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      There is a method to learning a new arena. The first step is to nail one thing down. This sounds like the person has nailed down a commonly occurring situation. Good so far.

      The next thing is to use that as a platform to branch out from. That would look like this: “Well this is similar to common request ABC, but in this case we also have D. So that means we must do xyz also.”

      Another cool thing to teach is to show a person how to check their own work. I like this one because it means the person is CALMER. If they know that they can double check themselves on various points it does not feel so icky handing work over to someone else for review. Tell stories of common pitfalls you have found and how you helped yourself not to make that mistake.

      As far as attention to detail, if applicable, you might point out how much tolerance there is for error. “On step A we have to be accurate to the hundredth of an inch. But once step A is absolutely correct then step B only has to be correct to the tenth of an inch.” This helps because not everything can be a level one priority when a person is learning a new job, if a person feels that everything has to be hugely accurate at all times, they can go into brain fade and fail to get quite a few things done accurately. And that is because they are so distracted by so many balls in the air.

  55. SophieChotek*

    Excel Training?

    Anyone know of some good (free) online training programs for Excel.
    I really would love to be able to understand better how to write formulas, create pivot tables, data sorting, etc. – make the data create graphs, etc., compare lists, etc.

    I always find I’m trying to do something — and then I run around and Google and find a temporary solution, but I think in the long run I’d do better with a more hands-on class where I start with basics and build my understanding.

    I have an older version of Excel for Mac; also have Numbers.

    Thanks for any ideas!

      1. SophieChotek*

        Thanks I will check it out. (I think I may have run across the blog when frantically looking for a quick fix.)

    1. animaniactoo* may be available for free through your local public library, their online classes/tutorials seem to be pretty good from what I’ve seen so far.

    2. Emac*

      There’s one that would do basics:

      Or you could check to see if you get free access to through your library. And there are lots of good videos on Youtube, some of which are part of a series.

    3. periwinkle*

      And of course, YouTube. You can find so, so many tutorials on YouTube. I’ve been relying on it heavily for an advanced statistics class I’m taking as a way to clarify what’s in the textbook and see the appropriate screens in SPSS. I kind of understood how to do pivot tables but watching a couple videos that walked through creating them… yeah, I get it now.

    4. Former Invoice Girl*

      Seconding — I’ve been learning an awful lot on that site. I also like Exceljet, or — if you are someone who learns more easily while watching stuff — the youtube channel ExcelIsFun has lots of series/playlists as well as individual “Excel magic tricks” tutorials.

  56. Fed up*

    The company I for has a strict dress code: must wear a black, navy blue or gray suit, a long sleeved collared dress shirt that is a single color, if a belt is worn it must be black or brown, if it a suit skirt the skirt must go to the top of the knees and cannot be shorter and pantyhose or black tights must be worn, if it is suit with pants only black socks can be worn, shoes must be leather or a leather substitute and may only be black or brown and have to be dress shoes, no sandals or open toes and no more than a 2 inch heel, the only jewelry allowed is a watch, wedding/engagement rings and if needed a piece of medical alert jewelry, no visible tattoos or piercings, hair can have highlights or more than one color but the only colors allowed are blonde, brown, black, red or gray (no un-natural colors), no mohawks and if hair is buzzed or shaved the whole head must be shaved so no under or side cuts are allowed and no designs shaved into the hair are allowed, any facial hair must be groomed and neat, only nude/beige/brown nail polish is allowed and makeup must be natural looking and understated if worn. If a religious headcovering is worn (such as a turban or hijab) it must be a single color, ties are optional (though most men wear them) and must be a single color if worn. Overall it is expected we will look clean, groomed and professional.

    Everyone gets a copy of the dress code before they have their final interview, it is discussed in the interview and is reiterated upon an offer being extended. So people are aware before they accept jobs here. It applies to everyone from the receptionist to the board of directors. If you are out of the dress code you will be asked to change or remove the not allowed item and if you can’t you will be sent home to change or come back when you can fix it.

    My co-worker keeps getting sent home for having bright colored nail polish. When this happens it leaves more work for me. She started a month ago and has already been sent home 3 times now. Most people get the message after getting sent home once if it happens but she hasn’t. She also makes claims of racism and says she won’t change her hair (she is black and our boss isn’t) even though no one said anything about her hair. Other black people who work here have all kinds of hairstyles including natural hair and no one cares because they are following the dress code. Our grand boss is a black woman with natural hair but my co-worker still claims racism.

    I want to say something about me being stuck with more work when she gets sent home but I don’t know how to frame it. Today she came in with bright orange nails and was sent home. I’m stuck with twice the work. How do I frame this to my boss without looking like I’m throwing her under the boss. Thanks in advance to anyone who read this.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      What is the reasoning for the dress code? That is intense.

      I think you can talk to your boss about the impact. Do you think your coworker is trying to get sent home on purpose?

      How about: “I realize that XX has been sent home repeatedly for nail polish color. I realize this is company policy, but every time it happens, my work suffers in A, B and C ways. How can we handle this so that my workload isn’t blown up when there’s a dress code issue?”

      But honestly sending someone home for nail polish–repeatedly!–is crazy.

      1. Observer*

        Actually, being sent home repeatedly is what is crazy. You don’t have like or agree with the dress code – it IS intense. But, it’s ridiculous to expect that the company will repeatedly look the other way when someone repeatedly breaks the dress code. The person KNEW what the code was when she took the job, and the color of one’s nail polish is a choice – and one that CAN be made on a daily basis, unlike certainly hairstyles which are all or nothing. Why SHOULD the company look the other way?

    2. Becca*

      At this point, they should just have a bottle of nail polish remover and some cotton balls in the office… Geesh! Sorry you have to deal with this.

    3. CM*

      This is tough to bring up, but maybe something like, “When Wakeena is sent home, her work is assigned to me and I’m having trouble completing both of our workloads. Do you have any suggestions for how to handle this?”

    4. Master Bean Counter*

      Sounds like this is happening once a week, is it always on a Friday? At this point it sounds like your co-worker is gaming the system to get extra time off. Any way you can bring in nail polish remover and cotton balls? That way she can fix her nails and work the rest of the day? Or suggest to your boss this might be a good solution to the problem?

    5. Fed up*

      The company says it’s the easiest way to maintain a professional and serious work environment in the eyes of our clients (it’s a financial company). It sounds harsh and intense but I actually don’t mind it because I don’t have to think about what to wear in the morning or worry about fashion and the expectation is the same for everyone. I know a few other people that feel the same way.

      My co-worker has fake nails and a special kind of polish that can’t be removed by just nail polish remover. If she is trying to get sent home internationally it’s probably hurting her because everyone here is hourly so she isn’t getting paid for the time she isn’t here. I’ve never heard of anyone getting sent home more than once because it’s so awkward that they don’t want it to happen again.

      The wording everyone provided is great, I will try that. Thanks!

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Do you think she would be receptive if you spoke to her directly and let her know that it’s impacting you? And also, warn her that she’s treading thin ice; she truly might not realize how serious these things can be and that her job is in danger.

      2. PoniezRUs*

        Hmm I would consider her nail polish to be cultural based on your description…and as far as the hair comment, she may be getting looks and passive aggressive remarks you are not aware of. If I were the company, I would let it go. I work in Finance too and at some point, work quality over appearance matters more. (assuming she is abiding by all other rules and does a good job when she is actually there)

        1. Susie*

          How is nail polish cultural? The company has a clear dress code that she was aware of before she took the job. Orange mail polish is against the dress code. The company has a clear code. She doesn’t just to get to break it “because” while everyone else gets sent home.

          And if the boss is sending her home for nail polish and not her hair, and her hair is within the dress code and other POC wear all different styles including natural hair, than hair is not the issue and it’s not what she’s being sent home for. I’m a WOC and I can’t stand when people claim racism when there is no evidence of it.

        2. Observer*

          Even if it is cultural, so what? “Culture” is not in any way a protected class. And you can’t even make a disparate impact argument here, because she has the ability not to use this nail polish without health issues or contravening her religion.

          Based on the OP’s description, it’s not likely that she’s getting looks and remarks about her hair. But, even if she is, that’s not relevant to the issue at hand. She is NOT getting penalized by her bosses for her hair.

          Not that I’m disagreeing with the others who say it’s not cultural.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        With the company being as strict as you are saying, I doubt this will go on too much longer.

    6. Perpetua*

      How do you feel about talking directly to the coworker? If you can manage a calm and non-accusatory tone, a simple “Hey, do you realize that when you get sent home because of your nail polish, I get stuck with twice the work?” might help her realize that her action against the system she’s perceiving as unfair affect others in a real way as well. Of course, the effectiveness of this depends on her overall sense of responsibility towards others.

    7. College Career Counselor*

      This is a poor culture fit, and I’ll be shocked if the person gets through her 90 day probationary period (assuming it’s US). I suspect that the person being sent home thinks that her individuality/personality trumps your company’s dress code, and she’s just pushing to see what she can get away with. Your company’s dress code sounds…..draconian, but they appear to be consistently applying it and informing people at the outset. Both the co-worker and the boss presumably know that she’s out of compliance with the dress code, so it’s not really throwing her under the bus. Frame it as her absence impacting your ability to get your work done. I’d put it this way “when Co-worker gets sent home (which has happened on a weekly basis thus far), it leaves me with extra work that I cannot finish–how would you like me to handle situations like this in the future?”

    8. MegaMoose, Esq*

      I’m having a hard time thinking that someone sent home three times in their first month is going to last very long, especially if it was made clear to her what the issue is. I mean, that’s a super strict dress code, but insubordination is insubordination.

    9. Helen*

      That dress code sounds atrocious. No wonder she keeps breaking it. I could never work in a draconian place like that.

      1. Perpetua*

        I agree about the dress code, but as others have said, it’s presented clearly before people get hired and applied consistently, so the coworker is definitely in the wrong here.

      2. NeedANap*

        I don’t know, the dress code actually sounds somewhat… comforting isn’t the right word, maybe, soothing? calming? to me.

        I would love somewhere where I could wear the same “uniform” to work every day without looking like a weirdo. I would find it really relaxing to know exactly what I needed to wear and to know 100% that I was going to fit in with office culture and with my co-workers.

        One of the biggest points of anxiety I have right now with my job is clothing. And I know that’s just me, but I’m constantly assessing the ways in which I do (or don’t) jibe with the rest of the people here, and I find it frustrating and anxiety-inducing when I realize I got it wrong.

        1. Emi.*

          I totally agree with this, and haven’t ruled out attempting a career change into the uniformed services.

        2. halpful*

          On the one hand, it can be comforting to have less decisions to make. On the other hand, it could be horrible, if it’s hard or impossible to find clothing/shoes/etc that fit the dress code without causing pain or constant distraction. On the gripping hand – nail polish?! seriously?! it’s not like you can be allergic to a lack of a specific colour of nail polish. That co-worker is being unreasonable regardless.

      3. Observer*

        You don’t take a job that you consider way too draconian. And if she did HAVE to take the job for some reason, the way to deal with it, is to do what you need to and start looking for a new job immediately. You do NOT handle it by repeatedly breaking a rule and crying racism when you are held to the dress code.

    10. NaoNao*

      Can you ask the boss or Powers That Be to supply gentle nail polish remover, and while they’re at it, “substitute” items (like a simple, size M black blazer or whatever) so that the person who is violating the dress code can make adjustments to be *in* dress code?
      For example, if Penelope is out of code with her bright orange nails, she’s asked to slip into the bathroom, remove the polish, and get back to work.
      If so and so is wearing crazy socks, they’re asked to grab a pair from the “wardrobe drawer” wear for the day, launder, and return. And so on.
      If they are going to have such a strict dress code, it may be in their benefit to ensure that occasional “brain fart” moments don’t mean lost work or more work for other team members.

      1. Fed up*

        She has fake nails and a special polish that can’t be removed by just nail polish remover alone.

        The company says it’s our responsibility to follow the code and to have backups if we don’t want to be sent home. They say the policy is clear before someone accepts a job and it’s our responsibility, not theirs.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq*

          Besides, this really sounds like she’s intentionally challenging the dress-code hoping that management backs down, not like there’s some brain fart situation happening. I’ve worked places with very strict dress codes and some people really, really chafe under those kinds of restrictions. I was more on the side of “at least it makes getting dressed easy” myself, but I do enjoy wearing colors again.

        2. Snow*

          Most gel and acrylic nails can be painted over so it might be worth getting a bottle of an approved colour (or insisting your co-worker or management do – it’s shouldn’t be your job) then she can spent 20 mins painting over her nails and then get back to work. I assume this is what she does at home as it would be expensive to go and get gel or acrylic nails removed the same day? Then she can take the neutral colour off with ordinary remover at the weekend and enjoy her bright colours.

      2. Helen*

        I wouldn’t wear socks or other clothes from a communal drawer at work, whether or not my co-workers claimed they were laundered. Not in a million years. I would sooner go without clothes.

        1. Arielle*

          I had to talk my boss out of offering to loan someone his underwear one time. My coworker had to fly out of town last minute – he literally did not have time to go home and pack a bag, and my boss lived right around the corner. He said to me, “I can go home and get him a suitcase and anything else he needs! Socks, underwear!” I was like, “He’s going to Kentucky, not Antarctica. They have Walmart. He can BUY UNDERWEAR.”

        2. Chocolate Teapot*

          Anyone remember the Swiss UBS bank dress code saga? It included such gems as wearing skin-toned underwear, matching your jewellery to the colour of your glasses frame and not washing and ironing your own shirts. (Which might be ok if your company is paying for a laundry service)

    11. LawCat*

      Doesn’t sound like she has long with this company with this much insubordination over something she was fully informed of and hat has been reinforced. I wouldn’t worry about looking like you are throwing her under the bus (honestly, she’s laying herself in front of the bus) by telling your boss how this is impacting her work.

      I dare say that she is trying to get fired. At which point, she may still try to make problems for the company, but she won’t be YOUR problem.

    12. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Does your workplace involve wheels, wings, and a cockpit?

      I’m wondering if your coworker isn’t setting up some a case to be fired and then file some sort of lawsuit against the company. It’s not fair on you at all! Use some of the phrases folks have provided and see what happens.

  57. Mimmy*

    Update on the two job leads I got last week!

    TL;DR – a) Excited but nervous about upcoming phone interview for position out of my comfort zone; b) concerned about potential conflicts of timing with a second, shorter-term position within the same state department.

    I had an in-person interview for one of the positions–Lead A–on Tuesday. It went well – they told me about the position and asked me a few questions. I thought I stumbled quite a bit a few points. However, I must’ve done something right because I have a phone interview with the agency director on Monday! For a job with the state government, this process is moving really fast. It could be because the position is not a “civil service title” – it sounds more like a year-to-year (fiscal year) contract position.

    The position is new, thus they are still hashing out specifics. It is a yellow flag, but I know many of the staff at this place, and they seem to genuinely want this to work out. I’d be working with the instructors, many of whom I know, and it’d be a mix of assisting the students, clerical work, and projects. It is a bit out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to challenge myself and get exposure to many different experiences. On the one hand, I’m like “finally I’m getting some serious bites!”, but the other part of me is like “what the feeeeeeeck am I getting myself into??” lol.

    The interview on Tuesday was pretty easy since I knew the two people I interviewed with (one moreso than the other). But I am nervous about Monday. It’s been years since I’ve had a proper interview. Any tips would be appreciated. I’m not sure Alison’s “magic question” would help since this position is still a work-in-progress.

    Another conundrum: I’m still waiting for the short-term contract position–Lead B–to come together. I have not told Lead A about Lead B and vice versa. Both are with divisions within the same state department (think Division of Teapot Makers and Commission for Teapot Users, both within the Department of Teapot Services). I know I don’t have either job in the bag, but both are very promising. Since Lead B is a short-term project, I wonder if I’ll be able to do both since both would likely be part-time, with the short-term project being done primarily from home. I know what the overall goal of the project is; they just haven’t given me any further details on the scope and what I’d be doing.

    Sorry my posts have been novels – SO MUCH in just a couple of weeks after several years of nothing.

    1. Mimmy*

      Just to clarify about Lead A – the “students” I’m referring to are adults with low vision learning “blindness skills”, such as cooking, computers, and getting around.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is really cool. I am very happy for you. All my fingers and toes are crossed for you on this one.

  58. Retail Gal*


    So part of my job is to help unload the truck at our at our store…and…


    I was pulling a pallett back with a two-wheel dolley, tripped over a box, and couldn’t recover. We don’t have a dock, so I fell three(?) feet onto the sidewalk. Bruise on my thigh, right hand feels scraped up, and I know there’s one on my left arm, too. (From the dolley falling on me) It could have been sooo much worse, and I certainly scared my supervisor and coworkers.

    *sigh* It’s going to hurt in the morning. Like I’ve been in a car accident.

    1. Jenbug*

      make sure you fill out an incident report in case you end up with injuries that need medical attention!

      1. Red*

        Just a warning, ibuprofen can increase bruising. If you don’t mind that, it works wonders for inflammatory pain, but you may look like you really lost your fight with gravity by a mile! I certainly did when I effed up and took it after an accident. Acetaminophen is a good alternative that won’t do that, in my experience. Probably because it’s not an NSAID or something?

        1. ..Kat..*

          Ibuprofen inhibits platelet aggregation and clotting. Therefore, you get more bleeding. Therefore, you get more bruising. Unless you have a platelet problem or you are taking large doses for a long time, you should be fine. Ibuprofen is used all the time in hospitals.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Well that kind of scared me, too.

      Please put some three way antibiotic on that scrape. It sounds like road rash. I got pretty scraped up when I fell off the motorcycle. They gave me codine which did not touch the pain. What worked was a topical three way antibiotic. Cleaning the wounds was a little nasty but it has to be done. Make sure you clean it then apply the three way antibiotic. You can wrap it in gauze if you think the ointment will come off during the night.

    3. Annie Mouse*

      Ouch, hope you don’t ache too much in the morning. I’ve fallen out of an a ambulance a couple of times (at work, not on a friday night!) but not as high as you. Definitely agree with the accident report, ice and ibuprofen suggestions. And paracetamol (I think it’s known as acetaminophen in the US) is a good pain killer as well.

  59. Justme*

    I’m two hours of study away from earning a diversity certificate at work. This program is something I thought I might want to do, then I sat down and reviewed the requirements and realized I was almost there. I can do self-study and report what I have learned.

  60. Anonymousaurus Rex*

    Anybody read Behind Her Eyes yet? I started it yesterday and keep thinking that the premise of the book sounds a lot like an AAM question:
    Single working mom meets and makes out with cute guy on a rare night out. Goes to work the next day and finds out he’s her new boss, and he’s married!
    I keep wondering what Alison would advise the main character (definitely NOT to do what she does in the book, I imagine…)

    1. Effie*

      I haven’t read it, but your description made me think of Sophie Kinsella’s “Can You Keep A Secret?”! Entry-level employee is on a flight which has a mid-air disaster, thinks she’s going to die and tells her seatmate all her secrets, and on Monday finds out that he’s the company’s living co-founder. (Secrets including lying on her CV and that she’s dating a coworker and is dissatisfied with their sex life)

  61. writelhd*

    Some questions I’d like to broaden my sense of realism on:

    Has anybody here ever gotten a job at a large company that used application tracking software, just by applying, without having any other in at the company? If you did, did you match the posted qualifications exactly?

    Anybody here in the civil or mechanical engineering field gotten a job in that field while only matching the posted qualifications ~80%?

    Lastly, does anybody know if application tracking systems do anything with cover letters? If they get scanned to for keywords etc, or just passed through to hiring manager if the resume does, or get disregarded altogether? Many ATS systems I’ve seen don’t even have a place to upload cover letters.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I’ve gotten several interviews at large companies (Fortune 500, etc.) just by applying through the ATS with no networking or other “in” at the company. I have been ignored by far more companies, though. I would say for those that asked me to interview, I probably matched 85% of their qualifications. My current job is a job I got because I applied through an ATS, was interviewed and made it to a final round, then was rejected — and then reapplied for a similar role on another team and HR remembered me.

    2. GlorifiedPlumber*

      Particular for engineers, it is extraordinarily hard to find the ideal candidate who checks all the boxes.

      Particularly RIGHT NOW, where in a lot of fields, hiring an engineer with experience is very difficult (we’ve had open req’s for senior folk for MONTHS).

      If you match 80%, you’re probably doing better than 99% of the candidates. I would apply. Emphasize leadership skills and ability to master new skills and software.

      An engineer role is something you almost invariably GROW into vs. drop into.

      1. writelhd*

        I’m sorry this is like a week late, (I got sick during the week and was pretty much out) but thanks for your response. This is on behalf of my husband. Unfortunately he has weird highly specialized experience and still not a lot of it because of starting out in his career, so I don’t know that his experience is all that desirable. I am hoping that doesn’t mean he just can’t ever get another engineering job. It seems like the “siloing” problem is high in engineering.

        So do places that don’t get the engineering candidate who check all the boxes just not hire anybody at all? Who DOES get hired, if finding candidates is so hard?

    3. NW Mossy*

      My experience is 7 1/2 years old now (!), but when I was looking to relocate from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest, I blind-applied through the company website with no prior connection and ended up getting the job. It absolutely helped that I had directly relevant experience, as well as a couple of professional certifications – that was the key to getting HR to pick my resume out of the pile, which can often be a higher hurdle to clear than proving your bona fides to a hiring manager.

  62. Nun Ya*

    I am applying to graduate school (mainly Business Analytics programs) and writing my personal statement. Can anyone recommend websites where I can get good advice on putting together a knockout personal statement and application? Maybe a cousin to this website called Ask-a-Graduate-Admissions-Officer (hehe)… Or if you have advice of your own, I would love to hear it. Thanks!
    [I mistakenly posted this in the wrong thread this past weekend, so I am reposting here :) ]

    1. Anatexis*

      The Grad Cafe forums are not as useful as AAM but if you spend enough time there, you can get good advice. Look for the Statement of Purpose forum under the Applications forum. There are two pinned threads full of advice on what to do and what not to do.

  63. Lucy*

    Hi All!

    There’s an opening at my company that I want to recommend to a former boss. For some reason I’m struggling with the wording of my email to her – I have no idea if she’s interested in leaving the company where we worked together. Do I just send the job posting and say a simple “Hey, there’s an opening at my company that sounds perfect for you, let me know if you’re interested”?

  64. paul*

    Super awkward situation: I wound up getting the trots (I felt FINE in the morning!) and *not* making it to the facilities in time at work today. I’m at home, showered, and have 0 intentions of going back today, but how the hell do I face coworkers on Monday? Seriously? I haven’t been this mortified ever, and you’re internet people that I don’t have to actually face so I feel better asking here.

    1. CM*

      Oh, that is awful. I would just pretend like nothing happened, and if somebody asks you can say, “I was having a medical issue. It was very embarrassing but I’m grateful that nobody is making a big deal out of it.”

    2. SophieChotek*

      I am sorry!
      I think most people understand unfortunate things happen (if they noticed) and won’t bring it up. (if they were in a similar situation, I don’ think they’d want you to ask them about it.)
      But if they did, I think CM’s wording is good.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yep, I second this. If you work somewhere where people are at least a little bit compassionate, then they know that something like this could happen to them. No one will say anything, and they will thank their stars that it didn’t happen to them.
        Once you get back to work on Monday and see that everything is normal, you’ll feel better.

    3. paul*

      CM: I guess that’s more mature and rational than my first thought, which was resign and move to a new city far far away.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        My first thought was fake mustache and Russian accent. “Paul not to come back. Died on Friday from, how you say….the trots. Is so sad. Please to call me Pavel. Am Russian new team mate, very happy to be here with fine American comrades.”

        Seriously, I did this once when I vomited on myself and fainted at work. Totally broke the ice. Everybody just felt bad for me anyway, nobody judged, and my Sergei the Russian routine took all the awkwardness out of the situation.

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            Fake Russian is sometimes good man to know, da? Nobody hates fake Russian.

            1. Lady Julian*

              Sure! All my bad Russian comes from, “Boris, Darling! Moose & squirrel are getting avay!”

        1. Lady Julian*

          I love this! I’m having kind of a bad day, and reading your Russian accent was a bright spot. :)

    4. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      I don’t really have much advice for you on how to face co-workers but I will say that this happened to someone in my group a few months ago and the general feelings from everyone else in my group was empathy and understanding. No one made fun of this person because we all knew it could happen to any one of us. I would be mortified too and I know that no matter what, stepping foot into work on Monday is going to be hard, but I guarantee you that if your coworkers are decent people then you have nothing to worry about.

      I personally never said anything to the coworker that this happened to and honestly when I first saw them a few days after the accident I didn’t even remember it had happened. I would say to just act normally and try to forget about it.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        Seriously, this. Everybody is just feeling awful for you, and grateful it wasn’t them.

      2. Bonky*

        This, absolutely. Something similarly awful happened to a colleague of mine a while back, and the only reaction anybody had was one of sympathy and worry for her.

        (I felt all that, and a degree of relief it was her and not me, if I’m honest.)

    5. Stellaaaaa*

      Honestly, most people’s thoughts will be along the lines of “thank goodness it wasn’t me,” not “lololololol let’s make fun of paul.”

    6. TheLazyB*

      Actually, also, it’s good that it’s a Friday. By Monday it won’t be top of everyone’s brain, but if it’d been earlier in the week people might have remembered more.

      If this had been in my office I would pretend not to remember.

    7. Anon for this comment*

      So… last spring I was having lunch in the company cafeteria with some work friends. I went to get up and the chair splintered apart, dumping me on the ground. EVERYONE SAW. The cafeteria went SILENT. I knew everyone was watching me just from that. My team’s HR person was at the next table, one of the big bosses in my department came over to see if I was OK. Everyone in the moment was super nice and wanted to make sure if I was OK but I wanted to die. DIE. I’m super glad that if anyone laughed, I did not hear it. I just got up, said I was fine, picked up my things, and walked out. If I’d had my purse on me, I may have just gone straight home. Instead I spent 45 minutes crying in the bathroom. I was so mortified and embarrassed. It took me months (and the company buying new cafeteria furniture) before I’d eat in there again and I still usually don’t. Anyway, once I calmed down, I got up, went to my desk, and pretended like nothing happened. Luckily no one ever brought it up again.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh man, nothing worse than a shitty chair. I’m glad you were okay. I never laugh when someone falls–only when I do. Because people get seriously hurt that way!

      2. Someone*

        I do not think most people would be inclined to laugh. My mother was in a chair that collapsed, and it was terrifying. They were probably mostly worried that you were okay.

      3. ..Kat..*

        I have had similar things happen. I simply got up, bowed, thanked them for coming, and said my next show was at ten. When asked whether I was hurt, I replied that I used a stunt double…

    8. She doesn't even go here*

      Shared with permission:

      My sister who also posts here but who shall remain nameless has a story that always makes me feel better when this happens (and it happens to everyone!).

      She got the trots in miles of deadlocked traffic without an exit or rest stop in sight. Full daylight.

      Frantically looked around her car and found the only option: a Kleenex box.

      Somehow she managed to execute a truly amazing move with the Kleenex box and save her upholstery, although it was certainly not a private endeavor given the traffic.

      To this day we talk about the Kleenex Box of Sh*t and laugh.

      And anytime I have an upset stomach, I think, at least I didn’t have to shit in a Kleenex box today.

      The end.

      1. Anon-the-mouse for now*

        OMG I’m laughing so hard at this when my floor is soooo quiet at work!! That is excellent perspective to maintain.. this is hysterical. Though I have sympathy for your sister- once had to abandon a pair of shorts on the side of a river trail when my boyfriend and I went out walking. We were close enough to the car that he could bring me a handful of tissues I stash in my car at all times and the extra pair of yoga pants I thankfully had in the back seat, but no bathroom around for miles.

      2. NW Mossy*

        I once had the misfortune of coming down with food poisoning at the end of a workday and puking the entire 90-minute ride home on commuter rail. It still ranks as among my top 5 worst days ever.

    9. Lily Rowan*

      You might also check out last week’s episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend for a worst-case scenario.

    10. Ultraviolet*

      Paul, I’m sorry! That is awkward.

      Like so many commenters said, I’m sure most people will just be sympathetic. And some will forget over the weekend.

      I think I’d plan on not bringing it up proactively, and if anyone mentions it, just say, “it turned out fine,” or “I felt better by the next day, thanks!” or something, and change the subject. (I might even think in advance about things to change the subject to.)

      Or if you’re feeling it, there’s a joke to be made about finally losing your sh*t. (Only if you want though!)

    11. Not So NewReader*

      You aren’t the first person and you’re not even the second person this has happened to. I was trying to think how many times I have seen this just in my own workday. Maybe 5-6 times. And that is not counting my own intestinal virus which had me in the bathroom every 20 minutes all day. I went home the second day, I was a wreck from worry and running.

      I think if anyone says anything it will be to relate their own story. Kind of listen, because not only does it remind you that you are not alone but they are feeling less alone too.

    12. Too embarrassed to come up with a clever name*

      I’ve had this happen a couple of times at work. I considered mentioning it in the earlier discussion about the wardrobe malfunctions. I went to a stall in the restroom, cleaned myself and my clothes as best I could, then I went home and said I said I had a medical issue. At least it didn’t fall out onto the furniture or on the floor.

      In the past I’ve had a couple of co-workers who had similar problems. One of them removed her pants and underwear, rinsed them in the bathroom sink and waited around in the bathroom for almost an hour while she dried her clothes using the electric hand dryer. Another co-worker removed her underwear, rinsed them out, then stuffed them into her purse and went back to work commando.

    13. ..Kat..*

      Personally, I would just make a joke about something being “sh**ty,” or I had a “run” of bad luck… Seriously, once when I was working nights (RN on a hospital unit, 7pm – 7am) I developed a urinary tract infection (UTI). We were really under-staffed, so going home was not really an option. I had an emergency in a patient’s room and did not get to the bathroom in time. You guessed it – I wet myself! So, I borrowed a pair of scrub pants, strapped on some Depends, and went back to work! I made jokes such as
      -you’re in (rhymes with urine!) bad trouble
      – better to be pissed off than pissed on, etc.
      I did the saggy diaper “cowboy walk.” I had my coworkers rolling on the floor.

  65. Bork*

    Silly work vent: I greatly dislike when someone leaves time on the microwave. Just hit CLEAR or CANCEL!

    Yesterday some left it at 00:01….just heat up your food for the remaining 1 second you oaf! Of course the times vary. Sometimes it’s in the single digits, other times it’s like 01:37….

    The big boss at my old office used to do this all the time. I found it annoying and inconsiderate, but knowing her personality it totally made sense and made me chuckle internally at the same time.

    I think I’m just going to have to automatically start hitting cancel prior to heating up my food to avoid this situation altogether :)

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I hate it when the time left is 4:30 and I think it’s time to go home.
      Otherwise I don’t mind.

      1. copy run start*

        At OldJob, my lunch was 12:30 – 1:30 along with a couple other folks. And people would leave the microwave on, say, 1:02. Or 1:22. So you’d check the microwave and think it was 1:02, or 1:22. And then someone else would check it and think the same thing, so you had this herd thing were if Donna hasn’t left yet then I don’t need to leave either… until James whose lunch was 1:30 – 2:30 appeared!

    2. Drew*

      Solidarity, my brothers and sisters! And like Anderson, I’ve been fooled: “Is it 1:20 already? It feels like I just got here! … oh, I did. Dammit.”

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It would really help if microwave buttons were easy to read. Light gray against a white background is just not that legible. Not saying it’s right to leave the mic not ready for use. I just marvel at how stupid some of the designs are. My current mic has a tiny little start button at the furthest point away from the door. Because… why not.
      I can see people getting easily frustrated with trying to find the clear button. My solution is to very seldom use the microwave at work. I don’t hit clear at home. I just checked. The button panel is curved and the clear button is down at the bottom. It’s not visible because of the curve unless I lean over and tip my head upward so I can see through the bottom of my bifocals. At this point my neck pain kicks in.

      If anyone has a label maker such as a P-touch in the office, maybe they can make a sticker to put over the clear button so it shows better. I have had to do this to computer towers because people cannot see the black on button against the solid black case.

    4. Rob Lowe can't read*

      Ahhhhhh! People do this with the lunchroom microwave at my office, too – but the worst part is that our microwave is from 6400 BC, so the “cancel” button doesn’t work. So when some turd leaves 5 seconds on the microwave, I have to microwave my food for 5 seconds, then open the door to stop the cycle, then set it for an actual reheating amount of time.

      When I go to the bathroom, which is off of the staff lounge where the microwave is located, if I see it has any time left on it, I turn it on to run the time down.

  66. Lily Rowan*

    Why have I gotten emails from two recruiters about two separate jobs in the last two days, when I just got a new job??? (But haven’t updated LinkedIn yet.) It’s just like dating — somehow they know I’m not looking anymore….

  67. Anon for this one*

    Awkward question: if one is arrested at a protest, or thinks they may be arrested, how does one handle that as an employee? Do you call ahead for time off, get a family member to contact your employer…? What’s the best way to work that out?

    1. Kelly L.*

      I thought about this recently! Both of the ones I went to recently were on Saturdays, so I wasn’t taking off work per se, but for the bigger one, I did mention where I was going to my boss (he’s of the same political persuasion as myself, which I happened to already know), just in case. And then my plan was, if I got arrested, I’d call either my mom or my boyfriend with my one phone call, and give them my boss’s number during the call to pass along the news (in addition to, if I called my mom, I’d also ask her to tell my boyfriend, and vice versa). The second one was more of a spur-of-the-moment decision to go, but I had basically the same plan, minus the telling my boss beforehand.

    2. animaniactoo*

      My husband knows he’s supposed to call my job and let them know. What I’ve told him he needs to advise them of is a) The charge I have been arrested on, b) The circumstances I was arrested in, and c) The current status of getting me out on bail/etc.

      I work for a company who will support my protesting as a political activity, so it’s important for them to know it was not “random arrest” and it’s important for them to know when they might expect me to be able to be at work again.

      1. Anon for this one*

        I also work for a company that would probably be supportive, which is good, but it’s definitely something I’ve worried about as things get harrier. I try to avoid being arrested before I’ve really memorized my rights, but you never know.

        My dad works for the same company as me, so I guess he should be the contact, eh? I don’t have an SO at the moment.

        1. animaniactoo*

          I think it works best if the person you’re calling with your one phone call is the person in charge of doing all the contacting. If your dad is that person, then he’s the person who should inform your company.

          My husband also knows he’s supposed to call my parents about arranging lawyer, etc. because they’ll know what to do, whereas he won’t and we don’t have anyone setup in advance, but my parents are protest pros.

    3. Stellaaaaa*

      Doesn’t Alison actually have experience with this? It would be neat to see a full post about it, since it seems especially relevant these days.

      1. Tris Prior*

        +1. I’d like to know more about this too. My manager would have zero issue with me getting arrested for protesting but the company as a whole is very large and corporate (though liberal-leaning due to the nature of our work), which makes me nervous.

        I probably should have Boyfriend put my manager’s number into his phone just in case…

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        My arrests were specifically part of my job (nonprofit advocacy work that at times involved protests and civil disobedience), so a very different thing. That made it super easy though; they took care of sending a lawyer, paying bail, etc., and my time being detained (including one bizarre overnight stay in D.C. central lock-up) counted as work time!

            1. Anon For This*

              My new hero, damn!
              Employees at this place sign and agreed when they are hired that they will notify their supervisor within x days if they’ve been arrested for anything (anything: DUI, assault, theft… ) and there have been a few calls from jail. HR frowns on anyone being charged (let alone convicted) for anything so not sure if I’d actually tell my manager, more likely to have someone call me in sick and take my chances.

        1. Anon for this one*

          It’d be awesome to get your professional advice on handling this issue in a separate post! Between protests getting out of hand before I can get out of the way, and the possibility of participating in acts of civil disobedience (my roommate was involved in a blockade at the local airport last weekend, for instance), it’d be useful to have that information.

    4. CA Admin*

      I don’t go to protests that aren’t on weekends for this reason. If I get arrested on a Thursday night, it’s harder to make arrangements than on a Saturday afternoon. That said, my husband stays home and knows to contact my office if I won’t make it to work on time on Monday.

      It’s not come up yet, thankfully, but my boss would probably roll with it. I have very good attendance and while she’d probably be a tad annoyed if it was a really busy day, she’d probably just shake her head and laugh at me. I know the rest of the admin team would give me high fives, though.

      1. Susie*

        My workplace is very uptight and as far as I know the higher ups are conservative. But politics is not discussed at all and I would never reveal an arrest for anything. I also don’t go to protests if I have to work through next day for this reason. I would not be supported at work.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I agree that this would make a good separate post!

      I can’t do it if I think I might be arrested; there is nobody to call and nobody who could bail me out, so I would be stuck and probably lose the job. My old boss (the one who retired) wouldn’t have cared as long as I got my work done later and wasn’t missing a month-end deadline, but the new boss would have and probably anybody else. And now I have no job so no bail money. So far I’ve confined my protesting to Twitter and Facebook.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      At a couple places I worked it was fine to have a family member/responsible other call in, talk to the boss and let them know what is going on. I guess the only concern would have been if someone underage called in for the employee. The boss wanted to speak to a responsible adult who is watching the situation. FWIW, not much was said, “Oh okay. Thank you for letting us know.”

  68. JeannieNitro*

    How do you deal gracefully with potentially being the director’s favorite?

    Background: on Monday, HR came to me and told me that my current position was being eliminated, but instead of letting me go they were transferring me to another department. Whew! Bullet dodged.

    Later in the week, I had a one-on-one meeting with the director over my new department (he’s over another department as well – he’s like 3 levels up from me). I already knew him somewhat because my previous position included interacting with various department managers for sales-related things. ANYWAYS, during the meeting he kept saying things like “I really fought to have you on my team, I think you have management potential, as long as you apply yourself I’ll make sure you move up quickly, etc etc.” Which, wow, that’s kind of exciting. BUT he also kept saying stuff like “if you don’t feel like you’re getting the training you need, come straight to me, if you need anything, come straight to me, I don’t want you getting your time wasted.” But since I’m in training and am starting with no experience in the type of work the team does, I am at the very bottom of the heirarchy. I think it would be a bad idea to go over my assigned supervisor’s head for things from the director. Also the director is fairly chummy with people, but I’m trying to figure out if he’s MORE chummy with me than normal. I’d like to avoid the “teacher’s pet” or “brown noser” vibe.

    I really appreciate that the director apparently thinks so highly of me, but I would also like to try and avoid pissing off the rest of the team, especially if I do end up managing people. The other problem is that he kept saying stuff like “I want my team to be like family, we’re all a big family on this team” which was a little . . . worrying.

    So, any tips? Things to watch out for? Things to do or not do?

    1. CM*

      It sounds like he said all this stuff to you 1-on-1, which is fine. I don’t think you’d be viewed as a “brown noser” unless he started staying stuff like this in front of coworkers. I would view him as a mentor and potential advocate and would go to him for advice, but would also follow the normal rules and expectations for someone in your position and would resist any attempts to give you advantages over others in your group.

    2. animaniactoo*

      2 things – 1st, he said to go to him if you felt like you weren’t getting the training you need, which at that point is a completely acceptable thing to do. It also sounds like there’s a strong possibility that he thinks your new manager is not the best, and is anxious about sticking you in a situation where you might get stymied so he’s making sure you know that if you are, he’s standing by ready to address that. 2nd, use your potential position to talk up and make sure that your co-workers also get noticed/credited for the work they’re doing. Or if they’re having issues and need help they’re not getting from your new manager too. If you can round out the effects of whatever influence you are potentially ending up with, your co-workers are likely to be much less resentful that it exists, and may even be happy that it exists as it gives them an additional avenue to things that work for them too.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I hope this doesn’t sound mean, but I would not take it as “I am his fav”. I would just figure he talks to everyone like that because the success of his biz is important to him. Some bosses pump up their employees. I know I have handed out positive stuff but I was in a supervisory capacity. It did not mean anything beyond what I said. Matter of fact there were some people I said nice stuff to that probably would never be a friend of mine in real life. I learned pretty quick not to pick favorites because people do peopley things. The person who I thought was an average worker became a superstar. The one I thought was a superstar shrunk down to average. You just don’t know what people will do.

      In this case here, I would tell myself that he talks to everyone that way and I would just go about being a good employee.

  69. RavensandOwls*

    I made it to the third and final interview with dream established start-up, and we’re in the back and forth of figuring when to hold the three hour (!!!) Skype panel interview.

    Any advice for this? I’ve done Skype interviews before as a teacher, and panel interviews in person, but I have no idea what to expect from something like this. What do I wear? What do I do with my TON of notes (I’m a researcher, what can I say…)?

    Also, a small gripe – the wait time for academic jobs is brutal. We’re moving in a month and a half and I’ve heard back from two of the two dozen Higher Ed jobs I’ve applied to – one outright rejection (it kind of was a stretch, tbh) and one, “Hey, fill out this google doc and we may get back to you”).

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I have done one Skype interview panel. Here’s what I did. I put my notes somewhere off screen where you can still glance at them. I wore what I would have worn to an inperson interview. I had a glass of water where I could easily reach it and I practiced with two friends on Skype before I did my own. Though three hours… That’s one long interview.

      Also, yes, wait times for academic jobs are long. I have been on both sides of that.

      1. RavensandOwls*

        I’m going to need to color code the notes or something – right now, since I’ve been on the phone with Dream!Startup, I’ve been able to scroll through my electronic notes with relative ease.

        I’m daunted by the three hours, especially since I don’t know yet who I’ll be speaking to, and can’t do any research. Hopefully my Skype connection stays strong!

    2. AnonK*

      I think a successful Skype interview is in the details. As someone who’s frequently on the interviewer end of these, good lighting is everything (if you can, make sure the area you’re Skyping from is well-lit, and try to test it out in advance to ensure that there are no weird shadows being cast on your face or that you’re hard to see, which can be distracting for the interviewer). Try to avoid windows or any backlighting that will make it hard to see you. Dress as you would for any normal in-person interview, and make sure there’s nothing strange or distracting in the background (I’ve seen candidate’s messy bedrooms, cats or pets getting into the shot, etc).

      I think it’s fine to have notes – just place them off to the side of the screen (not in your lap). For a research role, I’d probably be okay with a candidate picking up or physically referencing notes occasionally, as long as you don’t spend the whole time reading directly from them.

  70. Ann O'Nemity*

    What are some of your favorite interview questions?

    Next week I’m doing third round interviews for a position that is usually very hard to fill. By some miracle, I actually have two great candidates, both of which are better than I had dared to hope for. So now I’m having trouble choosing between them!

    1. Liz*

      People are my company are loving this one manager who asks “If you were an animal which would you be and why?”… supposedly it’s been quite telling! Good luck!

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Hmm, I’m not sure about this. I think Alison has a great interview guide (for interviewers) somewhere in the archives.

      2. The Optimizer*

        I got that question in a team building exercise and said I would be my dog. That guy has it made!

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Noooo, do not ask that. Seriously, do not. No bearing on the job and will make lots of people uncomfortable (and will make lots of people think you don’t know how to interview).

      4. Bonky*

        I would not ask this question in a million years. It’s not germane, it’s not going to tell me anything about skills, fit or personality, and it feels an awful lot like a case of “I haven’t interviewed before and I’m winging it”. It’s also got potential to make an interviewee feel pretty uncomfortable – because it’s a really weird question.

      5. Mirax*

        One of the graduate supervisors in my department asked everyone this at the Christmas party. While I was enthusiastically explaining that I’d want to be an alligator because I envy their ability to unhinge their jaws and swallow their prey whole, he remarked to the wide-eyed undergraduates listening, “She’s so honest.”

      6. Felicia*

        I would never ask that and would be very hesitant to accept a job at a company that did if I had a position to be picky.

        That being said I did get asked that once and said I’d be a giraffe because at least I’d be tall.

    2. Stellaaaaa*

      I actually like “what makes you different than our other applicants?” I’ve had good luck with saying, “I’m a very good listener and I have no problem admitting when I’m wrong.” It’s an easy way to put a bug in the employer’s ear…it’s something every boss wants to hear someone say and almost no one ever says it.

      1. Rat Racer*

        Maybe it’s just semantics, but how could you possibly know what distinguishes you from the other candidates, unless you know who is applying (and know their strengths and weaknesses)?

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Don’t look for creative interview questions. Think deeply about what it takes to succeed in the job, and get them talking about times in the past when they had to use those skills/traits/behaviors, and probe, probe, probe with follow-up questions. My client The Management Center has a good interview guide here (which I helped write):

      Also, make sure you’re seeing them in action:

    4. Jules the First*

      I like to ask “what’s your favourite/least favourite part of X process and why?”; I also ask candidates to tell me how they got to this point in their careers, rather than the vaguer “talk me through your resume” – you get some really radical answers. Another favourite is “what are you looking for in your next manager?”

    5. Bonky*

      The most illuminating ones are the behavioural ones. “Tell me about a time when there was a stressful situation at work – how did you defuse that for yourself, and for your colleagues?” or “What was your transition from university to work like?” or “How have you dealt with writers who object to being edited?” – they’ll be far more use to you than the dreaded “What’s your worst quality?”

      Please no favourite animals. Please.

      Just google “behavioural interview questions” (or however you spell it where you live!) for examples. You’ll need to do some work to tailor them to your workplace cultural needs and to the particular role you’re recruiting for, but you won’t look back once you’ve got going!

      Warning: sometimes people will tell you about a GREAT question that turns out to be absolute rubbish, but that won’t be clear to you until you’ve watched it sink like a brick in practice. My personal, embarrassing example is “What’s the question I should have asked you that I haven’t thought to ask?”. I thought it’d bring out important points the candidate would want to cover that we’d missed, and was really pleased when someone shared it with me. I dropped it after using it about five times in succession to blank, terrified stares.

    6. Red*

      My personal favorite was “X is typically the biggest challenge for those working in this position. How would you handle it?” It told me a lot about the job and cemented in both the interviewer’s head and mine that the position was a good fit.

    7. Lord of the Ringbinders*

      Best question from AAM’s link: What really frustrates you at work?

      Best questions I’ve ever been asked – not favourite, necessarily, but the ones I felt were the most useful and worth asking:

      Tell me about a time when you didn’t get everything done? What did/would you do if that happened? (You want to know that someone can triage, prioritise, find solutions and not just keep quiet while everything goes to hell.)

      How do you organise yourself day to day? (According to my hiring manager friend, you wouldn’t believe how many people don’t even have a to-do list. I appreciate this question as it means I can talk about my approaches to things like time management, project management/process tracking etc and also more cerebrally about how I approach my work.)

      How do you stay up to date with new teapot designs and developments? (Tells you a lot about how well someone actually knows the field.)

      1. Bonky*

        Oo – I like “Tell me about a time when you didn’t get everything done”. Stealing that – thank you!

  71. Bullwinkle*

    A question about coping with a lack of things to do at work. My 50 person company works on many different projects for different clients and operates on a billable hours system. The role I’m in (been here 9 months) is somewhat seasonal in nature, with this being the low season. I don’t have much to do right now, and my billable hours are low, which is attracting the negative attention of some higher-ups, though my immediate supervisor is sympathetic to the situation, as his work is also somewhat seasonal. I have been trying to stay busy with general organization tasks, brushing up on skills etc. but it’s hard to stay motivated, and it’s also frustrating knowing that other people at the company are totally swamped.

    Part of my frustration is that the role I’m in currently is related to but not the same as my background and interests. I have been trying to reach out to people in my company that do the work I’m interested in, with limited success. My company is quite flexible in this regard and I am doing this with the full support of my managers- I’m not trying to get out of the job I was hired to do, I just want people to know I’m available and capable of helping with other types of work as well. Given a little training in the specifics of various tasks, I think there is a lot more I could contribute, but people either seem unwilling or too busy to invest the time.

    Any advice on coping with boredom, staying motivated to do self-assigned learning without any particular deadline, and advocating for myself without being annoying?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think Alison would say 9 months is too soon.

      Make deadlines for yourself by putting them on your calendar. That fills your boring times and it eliminates the motivation question, because you have made a schedule for yourself and you are making yourself stick to the schedule.

      Find different ways to advocate for yourself. You see that X needs to be done. You have done it before and know you can do well. Ask the boss if you can go ahead and do X, tell him that you are familiar with it and would like to take things off of someone else. Some of my best people noticed what needed to be done and asked if they could do it. As we grew to know each other, they knew what kinds of tasks they could just go ahead and do without having to ask.

      Maybe you can find a swamped person and ask them if you can take something off their plate.

  72. Liz*


    I’m working in a role where I am overqualified and while I have brought this up a few times to my manager she doesn’t seem to either get it or care.. in the sense that she is busy, I’m in an admin role and in this company the support staff isn’t really expected to do very much… and she is very focused on title, very pro-manager and feel staff aren’t very skilled at all…

    I have been here for about 18 months, they are happy with my performance but I am bored and frustrated. They wanted someone with superior skills and the pay was in line with my experienced level. When I do attempt to do projects, which are still smaller than I’m used to, when a question comes up my manager often gives it to a manager. She did this this week, informed me via email and when I replied I’d like to continue to work on this, with her approval I got no response…

    Not sure what to do but a few friends have now told me to just do the job I’ve been hired to do. It feels really odd, like I’m settling or not doing my best. But it would be good to let go of the stress – I feel like I’m always trying to prove myself and offer to do things and I’m just beating my head against the wall.

    Was wondering if anyone else has been in this position and if they have any advice? I don’t want to leave at this point as due to a layoff and move I already have a job on my resume where I left after two years, I’d prefer to hang on for now, for stability’s sake.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. EA*

      So I think you can have a longer conversation about the work that was taken away. I would be incredibly upfront about it. Like “I aspire to higher level work and would like to continue XYZ project, is that possible” or “Is gaining more skills like XYZ possible in my role”. Then you will know 100% what the situation is. Some admins jobs allow you to expand, others want someone to be happy with the work as it is. Ideally, they would have told you this when you interviewed.

      Then you know, and can decide if you want to leave, or stay and just do the job they want.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I would skip emailing and start talking in person. It’s too easy to ignore email. When you see a project that you know you can do, point out that you have done similar work in the past and you would be happy to help.
      Ask your boss for side projects. Maybe you can create your own side projects?
      If you have ideas of where you can help, offer an idea and see what she says.

      Then gauge the response. If you think she is not going to change then start looking around. You have the luxury where you can be choosy. If it takes you 6 months to find a job that will be 2-two year stints, which is not a bad thing.

  73. orchidsandtea*

    My original was eaten by the spam filter, and I’m afraid to let too much time pass or I won’t get help with this!

    I’m writing a job description for my replacement. I’d love your feedback to help make this as clear, appealing, and professional (but not formal) as possible.

    Customer Support Specialist:
    This administrative position assists a team of skillful, good-humored customer service representatives. The goal of the CSS is to reduce the friction in daily tasks so that the team can provide better service to customers. The ideal candidate will be highly proactive, flexible, attentive to detail, and able to switch quickly between tasks without dropping anything.

    The good: The work is full of interesting challenges in organization and process improvement. Coworkers are competent, helpful, and good company. Management communicates well and is invested in seeing employees grow. On-site gym, cafeteria, and free wellness clinic. Lots of free food.

    The bad: We have strange proprietary computer programs. We like acronyms. The coffee is terrible.

    • Assist and support the Temp Control customer service team, manager, and director
    • Keep shared electronic files, inbox, and software in good order for clarity and ease of use
    • Draft and compile various documents and data in MS Office
    • Identify and reduce drag on CSRs’ time and attention OR Identify and complete projects for process improvement
    • Manage and organize an email inbox shared by two departments, which receives approximately xx emails per day
    • Close files for billing by confirming delivery

    • Excellent communication skills (written and verbal), organization, independent time management, and follow-through
    • Familiarity with Windows and MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook; a quick learner on other computer programs

    Between 20 and 40 hours per week during standard business hours. $14-17/hour depending on experience.
    To apply, please email a resume and cover letter to Felix Buttonweezer.

    1. Leatherwings*

      Ehhhh. I’d take out “the bad. “It comes across as a little cheesy and a little disingenuous.

      Can you clarify the hours more too? Because that’s a huge variance. Is it 20 hours some months and 40 hours others? Or does it mostly just average out to 30?

      This is a little more nitpicky, but the “responsibilities” section ranges from hugely generic (the first bullet) to very very specific. If you could add just a couple more specific day to day things, that would help.

      1. orchidsandtea*

        Nitpicky is good! Nitpicky is what I’m hoping for!

        Hours sort of depend on the new hire’s availability. There’s enough work to fill 40 hours, but we can get by on 20.

        My sole concern with deleting the bad is that our software is OBNOXIOUS and I do want people to be able to self-select out. (Programs built in 1988 should go to the Great Computer Farm in the Sky.) In addition to an email program that doesn’t have a “search” function, we use a proprietary program that is so complicated and outdated it requires a string of F-commands and you can’t use a mouse.

        1. Leatherwings*

          I’d say “Position can be either full time or part time” so it’s clear to applicants that need/want full time work that they can do this job then!

          And I think it’s good to be upfront about the software thing, but maybe you can put it in the requirements instead? “Willing to use complex [or outdated] and proprietary computer programs”

    2. Kelly White*

      I would totally apply for that job- its just enough so it sounds like a fun and supportive environment, but clear that the workload is high, and fast paced!

      I think its awesome!

    3. Kai*

      I like how straightforward and clear this is! My one comment is that I don’t know what “CSRs” meant at a glance – since this ad seems like it might well welcome applicants without prior experience, I’d explain the acronym!

      1. orchidsandtea*

        I had prior experience, and as a result my boss thinks I’m phenomenal. The right entry-level person could work out, but it’s best if a person has the experience to see where they can take action. Clueless