open thread – April 14-15, 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 :)

{ 1,502 comments… read them below }

  1. CBH*

    Alison – I’m curious, obviously without naming names, have you ever had a commenter that you admired or dreaded upon seeing them comment throughout your blog? In a positive or annoying aspect… maybe the person is too opinionated, is a go-getter, is an admirable leader, gives long winded in explanations, is perceived as a know-it-all, has a what were they thinking comments, is a great source of information… something that makes you say “oh my, they are back”. Has your commenters ever resulted in a networking opportunity for you to use? Just curious. I’ve been reading your blog for years now and there a few readers that I respect and purposely seek out their comments to your questions and others where I think their goal is draw up some controversy or start the great debate.

    1. las llaman gatas*

      I feel this way about a few people that comment regularly. It’s reminds me of the people on my neighborhood facebook that make posts about “scary” vans driving through the neighborhood to warn people, they think they’re helping but really it seems like they have nothing else to do.

        1. roseberriesmaybe*

          I always appreciate your comments, Dizzy! I think you always try to add something rather than pile on the bandwagon

          1. Dizzy Steinway*

            That’s very kind. I have my moments, though, where I realise I forgot to think first.

      1. PayrollLady*

        Haha I thought it was just MY neighborhood page where people did that! Do you get the people asking, “What were all the sirens?” and “Did anyone else hear a boom?” too???!

    2. TL -*

      I’ve always really admired fposte’s and Jamie’s contributions; I think they’re my most-respected commentors (even though Jamie is a drive-by commentor now!)

      And Katie the Fed and Mike C. tend to provide really interesting perspectives – I agree probably 50% of the time, but I think they do an exceptional job of explaining their perspective, so I’m more interested in their comments when I don’t agree.

      Elizabeth West writes in a really personable manner; I always feel as if I’m talking to her IRL when I read. I’ve really enjoyed Stephanie’s contributions as well for a similar reason, although with Stephanie, it always feels as if we’re very close in life stage, so it’s relateable that way.

      I know NotSoNewReader gets a lot of deserved appreciation for her always compassionate, well-thought-out responses, so I feel I should note her as well.

      There’s tons others, too! I really, really appreciate how easy it is for me to find prominent, respected women commentors on this site.

      There’s nobody who I hate – there are some I generally disagree with but everyone does a really great job of trying to communicate and be respectful. Even if I don’t like what she has to say, I can appreciate how she says it and that she gives me things to think about.

      1. Purple Dragon*

        I miss Jamie’s comments, they were always the first ones I read when I first started reading the blog.

      2. PosterformerlyknownasJamie*

        This post made me realize there’s another Jamie that posts here so I’m changing my username. Any suggestions for a new username would be appreciated.

    3. bassclefchick*

      I agree with TL! I also really enjoy Wakeen’s Teapots, Ltd.’s comments. I hope she knows we all secretly want to work with her!

      For myself, I know I don’t comment on the daily posts mostly because I don’t always have the ability to do so if I’m at work. I know one thread on the weekend open thread where my comments were really not appreciated, so I’m a bit wary of offering an opinion. I like this community because everyone is thoughtful and polite. And those that aren’t are quickly shut down either by Alison or the rest of the group.

      1. Dienna Howard*

        I know one thread on the weekend open thread where my comments were really not appreciated, so I’m a bit wary of offering an opinion.

        Don’t let other people’s opinions of your opinions prevent you from wanting to share your opinions! Not everyone is going to agree with you or like what you’re going to say, but it doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your voice in the process.

    4. fposte*

      I think a poster got a job through Alison a few years ago–I wasn’t clear if the application was a separate thing and Alison was like “Oh, I know her through the blog” or not.

    5. Maida Vale*

      More so recently than before there seem to be a lot more people who break sandwiches rule, and when too many conversations gets diverted in that way it really makes me refrain from commenting (especially on touchy topics).

      (Sorry I know you were only asking Alison so hope you don’t mind this comment.)

      1. TL -*

        Heh. I just decided that it would be a good place to show appreciation for some of our commentors, because it’s right near the top and we don’t often have a chance to do so. :)

        And I should say, I’m totally biased towards longer-term commenters because I’ve been reading for 5+ years now. Sorry, “newcomers!”

          1. KAZ2Y5*

            Oh, well I’m embarrassed now! I thought I had read all those but if so I blocked out the sandwich example. Thanks!

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m wary of creating a sort of cliquey vibe with this thread, so while it’s really kind of people to name particular commenters they appreciate, I think it’s potentially alienating for others and suggest that we not do that in this type of context. Random expressions of appreciation are great! Just not this type of context, I think.

      1. CBH*

        Alison I wrote the posted question. Please know it was not my intention for this to go in a calling out of those we admire comment wise. My question was purely curiosity if you (and others) influenced by certain commentors the way I am. THank you for controlling the content.

    7. De Minimis*

      I wish I had more time to hang out here and read the way I used to! I miss reading everyone’s comments.

    8. super anon*

      Real talk, in big and busy posts, or in controversial ones where I can tell it’s going to devolve into a mess of comments I’ll “ctrl+f: fposte” because I know they’ll have really great insight into the original question. I’ve learned a lot from their comments, especially because they work in academia.

      I also really enjoy Mike C.’s comments. He’s often willing to go against the prevailing opinion in a comment section and stand by his opinion and argue for it in a really intelligent way. That’s pretty rare on the internet, and I get a lot out of reading the comment threads he’s in, especially when our own opinions don’t agree.

      In terms of negative, I can’t think of anyone! I think the commenting community here is really great the vast majority of the time, and the rare times when it isn’t Allison’s moderation helps to quickly get everything back on track.

      1. AthenaC*

        I agree – this is definitely the best commentariat for the mix of intelligence, wisdom, compassion, and overall great perspective.

  2. starsaphire*

    I need some good phrasing to express this:

    “Thanks for showing me your initiative. Now can you please go back and do the project the way I told you to?”

    I think I fell victim to “she’s super smart, so I don’t have to train her so rigorously; I can just tell her what to do and trust that she’ll do it.” Yeah, my bad. I’ll fix it, but I don’t want to start off by insulting her…

    1. em2mb*

      I know when I’ve gotten feedback like that, it’s usually helped if the person explain why the way I did it didn’t work. Usually it was because I wasn’t privy to information about some other process, and it made perfect sense once they’d provided that missing piece of information.

      And if you feel like maybe you didn’t explain yourself as well as you could’ve, acknowledging that goes a long way. As a smart go getting, it’s really frustrating to not be given clear instructions because someone assumes you’ll just figure it out, then do it wrong because you didn’t have more guidance.

      1. LQ*

        This has always been so helpful! Why that doesn’t work is incredibly important to not only going back and fixing that and then doing better going forward.

        And sometimes that why is “there is some information I can’t share with you but that means this is what we need to do” or “we as an organization aren’t ready yet”. And even those seemingly unsatisfactory answers are really helpful.

      2. SophieChotek*

        I agree. If you can explain why you felt it didn’t work — I might disagree (inside with your reason) but at least I can try to adjust my output/process to your expectations to ensure better work/processes/output in the future.

        And I agree – “not privy to some information” — I understand that to some degree, one’s job it to just do it and not go “why?” but it can really be helpful to understand the larger picture.

        And seconding your last paragraph – frustrating that people assume you’re smart and will naturally figure it out and then get upset when you don’t and do it wrong. While I appreciate the confidence in abilities, some guidance can also go a long way.

        1. Snazzy Hat*

          I understand that to some degree, one’s job it to just do it and not go “why?” but it can really be helpful to understand the larger picture.

          At my last job, my next-desk neighbor was speaking with our supervisor and referred to one of our products by a weird name. I asked, “did you just call it a [weird name]?” When they confirmed, I asked what that was. My supervisor said, “I’ll show you,” and brought me to the training room which has a huge variety of the products (this was the machinery industry; people would visit our facility to learn how to use those products), and explained not only what that item was, but how it differed from other products I knew about.

          I was a lowly temp who might never work in that industry again, but my supervisor took the time to make sure I knew the product’s context. I even proposed applications for it and he validated my guesses.

      3. Beezus*

        I agree with explaining why, if you can. If you want to nip the creativity with your instructions in the bud, you can also say “there are some additional dimensions to this that I’m not able to explain to you right now because [reasons – e.g. you’re not ready, I’m too busy, I can’t share them all with you], so for now, I need you to do this how I tell you, and run changes by me before you do them, if you think you’ve found a better way, just to make sure there isn’t some context you’re missing that means it won’t work.”

      4. european*

        I like this comment!

        I’m in a situation like this right now. I’m in consulting. I was booked for a project where I had a boss (project manager, PM). I was to coordinate one stream within the project. The PM used to go over my head and discuss most important topics with the client directly. This wasn’t needed at all, I controlled the situation. It lead to plenty of confusion since he used to come back to me telling me “oh and add this and that to the plan”, in a very general way. Without being invited to the meeting with the client I had no way of understanding what he meant. And he hated me asking questions, made disparaging comments about my skills when I did. How can I know what was decided if I wasn’t there?

        Situations like that occurred constantly. When I tried to talk about it openly with the PM and to ask him to share information or include me in meetings about the subproject I – at least officially – coordinated, he accused me of not being a good team player and creating conflicts.

        After a while I requested leaving this project. I’m sure he will give me an awful review and at this point I’m so angry I don’t know how I will go though that discussion without expressing what I think about him.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          Im right there with you in the same boat right now on a project (internal consulting). Why do people do this? If I wasn’t hitting deadlines or they had a private conversation and the client decided to go in another direction then pull me in to the next meetings and we all chat and get on the same page. I utterly, absolutely HATE when a PM does this. In my experience these guys tend to also be insecure jerks, impossible to work with and even IF you deliver, will throw you under the bus at review time. You can’t win.

          I requested to get off my project too but its not happening. Instead I take it upon myself to challenge him every single time on some comment he makes. I love the hour long email critiques of my work – now I just ignore them for my sanity (hell change his mind anyway), throw an hour in the calendar and MAKE him talk through the changes to I can challenge and probe. He sits behind me, you can’t pull me in to a meeting room for an hour? F-you dude.

          For the record he has given everyone he has worked with a crappy review. He provided his feedback on me directly to my manager, and when I asked her about it she said I needed to get it from him, talk to him about it, and then she and I need to talk. Great. For a guy who has no project plan, no timeline, and no logical thought process _I_ am going to get thrown under the bus? I’ve seen this movie before and this time Im NOT having it.

          Phew, sorry to vent, but know you aren’t alone. Recognize these types and stay FAR FAR away from them because they will only do this to avoid being shown up or as some power play. Hes totally gaslighting you with the team player comment too because he is doing exactly the opposite in an attempt to curry favor with the client, get visibility, and probably look better than he is to his own manager. Hang in there and stick it out and keep pushing him.

          1. european*

            Good luck! I’m leaving the project now but to be honest, my company is full of such jerks so I feel I need to change my job, not only the project, which I haven’t been successful in doing so far.

            I used to challenge my PM but it didn’t bring anything. He would answer accusing me of things like not being a good team player or wanting people to leave the project. I agree with you that it’s probably an issue of insecurity. My PM is almost 50, has plenty of experience but has already been told by the client “John*, do you _really_ have a degree in this field? How can you have a degree and not know such basics?”. I’m sorry for him (although yeah, I find it difficult to understand myself how he can make such basic mistakes), but this doesn’t justify his behavior.

    2. Dee-Nice*

      “I appreciate the thought you’re putting into this, but I need you to please do it this way for reasons x and y.”

      Or even omit the reasons and just finish with “please do it this way for now”?

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I think the easiest way to convey this is to explain why you need/want the project to be done in a specific way. “We approach this project in XYZ way because of Reasons, so while I appreciate your creative thinking on this, I do need you to follow the established process.”

      1. starsaphire*

        Yep, pretty much this is what I said, keeping all of the responses here in mind and adding “and here is why, my fault for not explaining it better previously,” and it went over fine.

        Thanks everyone! Great advice here, as always.

    4. animaniactoo*

      “I appreciate that you showed initiative in trying a different approach to this. Unfortunately it didn’t work for what I need this time, and I need you to do it the way I originally showed you. Can you have that ready by ____?”

      With a followup conversation later “That didn’t work out this time – let’s talk about how to avoid this in future. Why don’t you run your ideas by me for now, and I’ll be able to explain why they will or won’t work, and you’ll be able to get a better sense of what things can and can’t be changed?”

    5. Stop That Goat*

      I think if you can explain why, it’d be helpful information for her in the future. You could easily just say “Please do it this way”. If they are particularly smart, it’ll instill some institutional knowledge to help her down the road.

    6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I think others have provided good feedback for what to say in the moment. If yuh have regular check-ins, I’d use that opportunity to have a quick chat about roles and expectations. The tone can/should be friendly, and you can even say that you’d meant to have this discussion earlier but have been so excited about your report’s talent that you inadvertently didn’t bring it up.

      In general, I think explaining why you want it done can help, but you don’t want to create a dynamic where she’s constantly expecting you to justify why you need her to do it your way.

      I used to be this report. My boss had a great convo with me about it, and I didn’t feel upset—I was more embarrassed to have overstepped. My boss also encouraged me to cone back to her to ask if she needed an assignment done, period, or whether I could ask her if I had creative license to propose a different approach. That way there was a repository for my ideas, but I was much less obnoxious.

      1. Susan*

        The second paragraph is definitely something I was thinking about. I do agree with explaining the why for decisions, but you shouldn’t always have to. There will always be the “because it’s your turn to do the dirty work”, “I can’t fully explain now”, and “because I said you needed to” that need to be understood and respected.

    7. OperaArt*

      I’m salaried and excempt. The unspoken rule where I work is to keep reasonably consistent core hours of your chosing, and fill out your work day in whichever direction works best for you that day. Most people here seem to work about 45 hours per week. We are expected to be present for any important meetings, regardless of when they’re held.
      One thing to consider–we’re software engineers, scientists, etc. So we often work solo for large portions of our days.

    8. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I had an employee who could get bogged down in trying to improve the process or guidelines that I set out, to the point of not completing what needed to get done. I mostly got it under control without stifling his initiative by telling him specifically when something needed to be done exactly how I explained it and when he had leeway to adjust or come up with his own process – which he then needed to clear with me before jumping in with both feet. I also asked him to let me know when he thought some process could be improved but that we would discuss it later in situations where something just had to get done right then.

    9. Kelly White*

      I’m going to jump on the explaining why something won’t work- or needs to be a certain way bandwagon.

      I was the only person who did one particular complicated thing at my job. When I finally got to train someone, I started off by by saying, “I’m going to show you what I do, and explain why I do it. I’m very open to changing the system, now that there are two of us doing this- but I want you to understand my thought process and the reasons I set it up this way”.

      He found this helpful- he told me that when he’s been trained on other things they just tell him what to do. But I feel like if someone knows the reasoning behind it, that.s the best way to remember it, and the best way for people to improve it.

      We did make some improvements, some things we left alone, but what we now have are two people that can, for the most part, pick up where the other left off, if need be.

      1. Gadfly*

        Versus one person who understands and one who can follow orders?

        How much that matters will depend on the workplace style/needs. If there is nothing that is likely to result in needing independent decisions, you can make following orders work. But if something happens the instructions don’t cover, you’ve tied their hands.

        Probably because my last job had overlapping crises going at least a couple times a week (a LOT of non-negotiable deadlines tend to result in that) where I had to make decisions and no one was available higher up the food chain to make those decisions (or was too high up to be bothered with it) knowing the whys meant I’d make better decisions when it just wasn’t possible for some reason to follow the standard directions or to wait.

      2. Badmin*

        1,000% agree, I’m one of those people who learns best by knowing why something is a certain way. I’m not looking to change it but I can’t turn off my brain in going down other avenues of how it could be done. That sounds like a great way to address this.

    10. nicolefromqueens*

      A few months after I was thrown into a team lead role (with no title or pay raise, or training), I almost snapped on a fellow temp, who just started a few weeks before. I was at an awkward point: long enough where I was fed up with a lot, yet new enough where I had little to no idea how to handle new problems. Temp was at an awkward point too: here long enough to start questioning things, yet not here long enough to understand the process, culture, etc.

      We do different stages of data entry. Temp wanted to make itty-bitty change to Ongoing Project A, Step 6. Yes, it would’ve been more time efficient, but still not practical. I said no but didn’t feel comfortable telling her why: we’re not changing the way the night shift people work; most of hem are very difficult to train and don’t retain new information well, they’re all only here PT, and we’re not here most of the time when they are (so if they make a mistake, I can’t correct them, they’re doing it their entire shift, leaving me with a lot of corrections the next morning or worse weeks down the road, and they get into bad habits.) Temp tried to go back and forth a bit, until I broke down and said that I’m not going to change the way they work because im not here to watch over them. Another time that week I told Temp to handle what’s in Step 5, then I went to handle Ongoing Project B. When I went to check up on A, I noticed that she only handled what’s in Step 4. GREAT now I can’t bring 15 batches to completion like I had planned, and need to rush to do Step 5 myself to make room for the night shift to do Step 1 for new orders. In addition to making sure Temp did Step 4 correctly, because it’s the most difficult. I clarified with Temp: when I say Step 5, I mean Step 5; because I needed to make room. Well, Temp wants to know “why can’t Anne (day shift) do Step 5? What about Barbara?” I almost flipped. I literally said that week I’m not changing the way the night shift works. But because there’s a day shift worker not doing Step 5, Temp thought it was appropriate to question. Well, Anne (day shift) can’t do Step 5 or anything on A; she can only do Steps 1 and 2 on B because she (along with a few other people) came to us computer illiterate, and can only do the basics on the computer (as in, sign in, open 1 program, hit 2 buttons). Hell no could I disclose this info to Temp, or anyone else for that matter. After a pause, I answered with “that’s confidential”, which didn’t sit well with Temp. I had to walk away at that point.

      I’ll make it a point going forward to tell new hires, that sometimes things seem counterintuitive, I’m sorry, and there’s usually a reason that we may not be able to explain.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Honestly, I think at that point I might’ve ended up saying “I’m sorry, that’s part of Operation Because I Said So.” I get questioning, but not to the point of trying to reassign tasks that were assigned to you!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I have said, “Sorry, I don’t discuss other people’s work. I have heard what you said and I will take it under advisement. That is all I will say on this.

          At firs this sounded harsh. But then people realized that there were times when I did talk with individuals and said nothing to anyone. They appreciated how I did not talk about others. Interestingly, it did not stop them from telling me things.

  3. CrazyEngineerGirl*

    I’d like to hear what workday hours/schedules are like for other salaried exempt employees.

    I’m in my first salaried exempt position out of college, working at a small company, and I honestly have no idea what’s normal or not normal. Some aspects of time/schedule expectations here are great but others leave me feeling frustrated. I’ve been considering bringing it up at a yearly evaluation but realized that I may not know enough about what’s common to make an informed argument.

    For me:
    I’m expected to be at work from 8am to 4:30pm and to take a half hour lunch. My bosses really, truly do not expect me to work more than 40 hours a week. If I arrived at 8 on the dot and left at 4:30 on the dot it would be totally fine. Any time that I do work over 40 hours (I often come in early) is logged and can be used as comp time. It’s expected (other than in cases of emergency) that any late arrival, long lunch or early departure will be requested and approved ahead of time (2 weeks is standard.)

    I’m the only salaried exempt employee other than the company owners and feel a little like I’m the odd employee out or some sort of guinea pig. While I love that nothing over 40 hours a week is expected of me, I’m totally irritated by the lack of any flexibility! I would love just a bit of leeway!

    1. Jill of All Trades*

      It sounds like they’re definitely treating you like an hourly employee, which may be because you’re the only salaried exempt employee.

      I’m salaried/exempt and I have a very flexible start time. I need to be in the office anytime between 8 and 9:30 in the morning, and can leave anywhere between 4:45 and 6, with flexibility for days that I have doctor’s appointments. On the flip side, if 5 pm arrives and my work isn’t done, I’m here at my desk until I’m at a point where the work can wait until the next day; sometimes I need to be in at 7:30 for international calls.

    2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      Your arrangement is pretty standard. They could be more flexible with the late arrival/early departure thing, but it’s a pretty typical arrangement, and I think you’re trading a bit of flexibility for the true gift of never having to work overtime.

      1. CrazyEngineerGirl*

        Very true. That they honestly don’t expect any overtime ever is pretty awesome. I remind myself of this every time I can’t leave at 4:23 even though I just finished what I was working on because, you know, that would be seven minutes early…

      2. Troutwaxer*

        Not only pretty standard, but also a good way of showing you can meet expectations. When you’ve proved yourself perhaps you can ask for some more flexibility in your schedule.

    3. Anonymous Poster*

      I’ve generally had core hours I’d be expected to support regardless (usually 10AM – 2PM), and anything outside of that as long as I was logging at least 40 hours I was fine. Anything less would need to come from PTO/sick/vacation. Anything more was either paid at a straight hourly rate (based on my salary) or comp time, depending where I was.

      I was also expected to support meetings as they popped up during business hours. So if I had a 3-4PM meeting, I’d come in at 8 or so to support that meeting until its expected end time. But other times I usually came in at 6:30, 7 and had the flexibility to leave once my 8 hours were up.

      I’d be a bit irritated by the lack of flexibility, but it doesn’t seem that annoying to me personally, although I generally work through my lunch so I can get home earlier. I’d suggest running past them a core hour concept if you’d like some more flexibility. That way, everyone always knows you’re in the office at least during those core hours, and of course supporting any meetings or other activities as needed, while giving you flexibility. It just depends on if it makes sense in your role. For me as an engineer, it generally makes sense, but I don’t really know what your job function is to know if it would for you. Something to float past your company owners though!

      1. CrazyEngineerGirl*

        Thanks! I may try the idea of core hours, though I suspect my boss would say 8-4:30 are my core hours, lol. I think since I’m the first and currently only non-owner, non-family employee that’s salary, maybe they just don’t know what to do with me? Like, it can’t be okay for me to just work through lunch and leave early because what would the other employees say??? I’m a salaried employee so I feel like that should be an easy explanation should anyone wonder/ask/complain or whatever, but the owners don’t seem likely to even entertain the idea. It just strikes me as strange.

    4. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I’m salaried exempt and am expected to be here from 8:30am until 5:30pm every day, with a one-hour break for lunch. There’s small pieces of flexibility: say, if I have a doctor’s appointment at 3pm, I can take my lunch then rather than at noon, or if I need an extra 30 minutes for that appointment, I can take a shorter lunch another day. I work a great deal of overtime, and when major projects are on the horizon, longer hours are entirely expected. I am grateful to be paid overtime, but do dream of being able to work remotely or come in at 10am or leave at 4pm if my workload allowed.

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      I’m exempt and in my current job (also a small company) I have tons of flexibility. I normally work from home 3 days a week, in the office the other 2. We have an offshore group in India, and because of where we are (Denver) there is either an 11.5 or 12.5 hour difference, depending on Daylight Savings Time. I’m usually up and at my desk around 6 AM, then I take my daughter to school around 8:15, and either come home or head to the office. On the days I’m in the office, I get there around 9, and then leave around 2:30 to miss the worst of the rush hour traffic, and then finish my work day from home. My boss is very laid back about this kind of stuff, and as long as you’re meeting your deadlines, she doesn’t care when you’re working.

    6. Hellanon*

      Salaried exempt in higher ed and I generally work 8-5, although if I did 9-6 or even 10-7 my boss would be fine – the key thing is that I am there when I need to be and can meet with others. And that I can stay much later if I need to! The “core hours” concept is useful, as is the idea that you can exert some flexibility when you need to…have you talked t your boss about core hours, or what she really needs?

    7. LQ*

      I think it depends on the job. For a while there was no one to cover the front desk so that was part of my job. It wasn’t the primary part and there was coverage between me and my boss when we had meetings and things we did our best. But the goal to have a good amount of coverage was important. Later when we had someone part time doing the front desk it was way more flexible, but also by that point was requiring way more time too.

    8. anonamasaurus*

      My normal office hours are 10a – 6p, but I have a fair bit of autonomy to flex my time as needed. I would say about 2x a week I start earlier, usually for a meeting, and I work on a lot of events so I often stay late and work several weekends a year. While comp time is unofficially allowed – usually an extra day or 1/2 day off after a particularly grueling week – its fewer extra hours than I actually work. I average around 45 hours a week most of the year and probably 60 hours a week from Mid-May to September (which is my busy season). My salary is based on 37.5 hours/week.

    9. FN2187*

      I am salaried exempt (administrative assistant) and I work 7:30-4:00, with a half hour lunch. If I need to leave early or come in late, I have to get prior approval from my boss. I work in education, so things are a bit less flexible in general.

    10. Amanda*

      I think a lot of this is specific to the organization or department. One place I worked, exempt staff were still expected to come in at 8:30, leave by 5:00, and take an hour lunch. We earned comp time for working weekends, evenings, etc. And we had to fill out timesheets! The place I’m at now basically has core hours, and as long as you are generally present for those and show up for anything scheduled outside of them, it’s fine.

    11. Elle*

      7-4, one hour lunch. Over 40 hours is not expected of me, and actually if there’s a crazy week where I work 43 hours my boss will let me flex out 3 hours the next week (I can’t carry the flex time forever, though, it has to be used the next week or not at all). If I’m going to be more than 20 minutes late coming in or leaving more than 20 minutes early I text my boss and counterpart (this matter less in the early morning since neither of them are there anyway). We have to have coverage to answer questions for our call center which has regulated hours (8AM to 6PM), so I can work a slightly early schedule because my other half is here 9-6. If we don’t have coverage from 5PM-6PM that’s okay, per my grand-boss. Coming up I have some appointments in the afternoon so I’m taking my “lunch break” at 3PM and leaving for the day. Sometimes I take my laptop home to read papers or whatever to make up hours missed during the week, but if there’s no work to do then I have to take PTO for the hours missed instead.

    12. S-Mart*

      Currently, and most places I’ve worked, I have a set of core hours (9:30 to 4:30 currently, but it’s varied – 4:30 is later than core hours have been most places I’ve worked) and as long as I add up to 40+ it’s fine. The occasional week that only adds up to 38 or so is even ok, but if I made that a habit there’d likely be a conversation. It’s generally been preferred that I pick/have a consistent set of hours to make that 40, just so people know when I’m likely to be available/not available.

      I have had an exempt job where the hours were ‘whatever you want, as long as you’re here by 8 and don’t leave before 5, with a lunch from exactly 12-1’. Oddly, that was about the only rigid policy that company had. I’ve also had a job where we had core hours from 10-3 but the CEO would side-eye you if you left before 5 – nevermind if you’d been there since 6am and skipped lunch.

    13. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I think they’re being weird about asking for 2 weeks prior approval to come late, leave early or take a longer lunch.

      That said, I’ve been salaried exempt my whole post-college life, and I’ve always been expected to keep business hours. Some jobs have been flexible about how late I can start (latest start time: 10am, but I often had to stay til 7), but I’m expected to put in at least 9 hours (assuming a 30-60 minute lunch and normal short ad-hoc breaks). But to be honest, I’ve only had one job that encouraged me to work no more than 45 hours; the others expected 60+ hours.

      I’ve worked places when I was expected to be in from 8-7, or to work 11-9 (evening events), or to work 8:30-4 and again from home on the evenings or weekends (not for face time reasons, but b/c the workload was crazy or b/c my boss needed someone on hand for support/prep, or b/c I was in trial). But those were seen as deviations from my “normal” hours.

    14. kittymommy*

      Officially, 8 – 5 with one hour lunch. Really it’s 7:30 – 5:30/6, sometimes working through lunch.

    15. Felicia*

      Sounds fairly normal to me. . I’m expected to be there 830 to 430, never ever have to work overtime, except one weekend per year we know about months in advance. But if I have to leave early/come late for whatever reason I don’t need approval, just expected to say a day or two before, FYI, have to leave at X time on Y day. It’s also expected we don’t do that every week just because. Seems normal to me. I think it’s a trade off for no overtime, and a trade off I’m more than willing to make

    16. De Minimis*

      We have a base schedule of around 8:30 – 9 AM to 5-5:30 with an hour lunch. All employees are exempt. Most people pretty much stick to the base schedule, but there are some who choose to work a lot more hours. My supervisor unfortunately is one who does not stick to the schedule and doesn’t even take lunch breaks. I’ve learned I have to draw a line as far as leaving for lunch or leaving after working my 8-9 hours each day.

      The only positive is that there’s nothing to make up for when you have to leave early for an appointment or for some other reason, but I think when you have a supervisor like mine you end up working more hours with no extra benefit [we don’t do “comp time” or anything like that.] The people who have more reasonable supervisors end up working a regular amount and usually sticking to the regular schedule and probably don’t work more than 40 hours most weeks.

    17. cookie monster*

      I am exempt and am pretty flexible. I generally do 8:30 to 5pm, but I am a chronic late person (technically my toddler is a chronic late person) so pretty often it’s really 8:45. Many days I don’t rally take lunch, but will eat something at my desk. On the flip side, other days I’ll take a 2 hour lunch to take care of something-maybe once every 2 weeks. Additionally, probably once every month or two, I will work only a half day because of a doctors apt or something. I check my email even late at night and on weekends and take care of stuff that is urgent when ever needed, occasionally that means going into work on a Saturday night (or equally odd time) for an hour to get something urgent that just came up, but that is maybe once a year. Basically because I am flexible and can accommodate weird requests at weird times, no one questions my time. I also think some of this comes from being higher on the totem pole. I’ve been in other exempt positions, earlier in my career where this wouldn’t have flown but am now executive management and I feel like the rules change for that even though on paper I am still classified the same way I always have been.

    18. Beezus*

      I’m expected to work our core hours and take a lunch somewhere in the 11-1 range. Nobody monitors when I come and go. I work 45-50 hours a week for the most part, unless there is something unusual going on. I let my boss know if I’m going to arrive late or leave early, but I manage my own time so it’s more of an fyi rather than approval unless I need someone else to cover something. There is no comp time, but I generally work a little overtime consistently, so no one cares when I miss an hour or two for an appointment or something.

    19. Security SemiPro*

      In my current job its expected that I’ll keep my team/the departmental public chat reasonably informed of my whereabouts/plans on a daily basis during the work week. My boss and team and the departmental admin know my general availability (9:30-4:30 in office on weekdays, with work from home in the morning and evenings) and I announce changes to that. But I set my own schedule and could set it for a number of different things, as long as there’s a relatively stable way to get in touch with me and I meet my commitments.

      This sounds extremely flexible because it is – those times flex by an hour or more for meetings/emergencies/personal need because I’m also expected to be available 24/7 for emergencies and outside of those emergencies, my work isn’t minute by minute dire. My staff have similar flexibility because sometimes they get called at 3 am and will be working 16 hours a day for a week or more, without warning. So when there isn’t something on fire, or when something goes haywire in their personal life, I am happy to give them flexibility in the other direction as well.

      Previous jobs that could actually be left at the office were more controlled – 7 a to 3 pm, half hour lunch, with no more than a half hour flex in either direction without prior approval. But I didn’t have to cancel dinner plans because something broke.

      In general, the salaried jobs I’ve had were based around function – you were where you needed to be, when you needed to be there, and you kept your commitments. Much of my work is with other people, so I need to be there when they are, but solo work can happen at times you want it to, as long as it happens.

      I’m on the high end of flexibility, but even there most people set a basic schedule and keep to it, if only to have comfortable work habits.

    20. Pescadero*

      Super, super dependent on company.

      At 1st engineering job – I worked 45-50 hours per week when things were slow, 70+ per week when things were busy – and I was the slacker who worked less than everyone else.

      At 2nd engineering job – I worked 40 hours a week, and maybe 45 hours if things were real crazy.

      …now I’m hourly, so it’s not (I wish) an issue.

    21. KMB13*

      I’ve found that the standards have been wildly different at my two salary/exempt jobs.

      Job #1 – All salary/exempt employees were supposed to work about 37.5 hours/week. I typically worked more (and sometimes a lot more, including working during the weekend), but occasionally worked less. (This job was in DC and, while it wasn’t on the Hill, it tied in to Congress’s schedule, so 30 hour weeks weren’t uncommon during recess.) I think they figured it all evened out in the end. The office’s typical hours for non-exempt employees were 9:00-5:30 M-F with an hour lunch. Arrival time for salaried employees varied wildly and depended upon the employee’s supervisor – I generally was supposed to work about 7.5 hours/day, had to be in by 10:30ish, and couldn’t leave before 4:00ish. (Obviously, if I came in at 10:30, I was generally expected to stay later than 4:00 and if I left at 4:00 I was generally expected to have arrived before 10:30.) I could take time off for doctor’s appointments, etc. pretty much whenever I needed it, as long as a deadline wasn’t looming – I just had to let my supervisor know the day of or the day before. I could use my vacation time at the last minute, as well (not the day of, but 1-2 days was enough notice), again, as long as there’s wasn’t a deadline, etc. Overall, it was a pretty liberal policy, which I think was primarily due to my supervisor. I know other people at the firm didn’t have the same flexibility.

      Job #2 (Current Job) – Our hours are 8:30-5:30, with a one hour lunch break. Being 15 or so minutes late is no big deal, but arriving after 9:00 would definitely be frowned upon, as would regularly arriving after 8:45 (arriving between 8:45 and 9:00 once or twice a month is no big deal). I am free to take a few hours off whenever I need it for a doctor’s appointment, etc. If it’s going to be a half day or more, I’m expected to count it toward my vacation time. Generally, my supervisor likes to know about a week in advance if I’ll be taking time off for an appointment, but there’s no exact rule on when I need to let him know. I guess it sounds like it’s a bit more flexible than your job, but I still miss the greater flexibility of my old job!

    22. Gaia*

      My schedule varies pretty wildly based on the needs of my work. For example, today I was on at 6am. But I’ll be making up for that by leaving at 2 (I almost never take lunch breaks – don’t be like Gaia!) and yesterday I didn’t start until 11, worked until 3 and then signed back on at 8pm and worked until 11pm.

      Most days, however, I wander in around 8 or 8:15 and work around 8 hours. Sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less. My job is project and work dependent and not coverage dependent. But I manage a team that is coverage dependent so I try to be around for most of their hours.

    23. Shiara*

      My company (around 100 people, software) has a lot of salaried exempt and everyone’s on a pretty strict 8-5 schedule with a one-hour lunch break. (Coming in a few minutes past 8 occasionally is okay. Do it too often and your supervisor starts getting flack from the higher ups (who are almost all ex military)) Everyone clocks in and out and keeps timesheets, and we get comp time if we go over 45 hours in a week, although that generally only happens during release crunch times. The customer support people have some variations, since they cover multiple timezones, but it’s still a strict start and end time.

      There’s some flexibility for appointments, when to take lunch, etc, although that can depend on your individual supervisor, but usually just a day’s heads up is considered fine, barring all-hands on deck days, and usually you’ll know ahead of time if you’re in one.

    24. Red Reader*

      Salaried exempt. We give my boss a general schedule – mine is vaguely 7-330 and my colead does vaguely 9-530 – but as long as we work at least five hours a day and have a general tendency to keep reasonably close to 40 hours a week, she doesn’t make a fuss about the occasional long lunch or skipping out an hour early for an appointment or whatever. We almost never have overtime and we don’t actually clock in or out.

    25. snowball*

      my current company starts off w/ pretty rigid hours (you set them with certain parameters, but you are expected to arrive and leave based on your schedule) but as I’ve moved up my schedule has become more flexible – most of the time I arrive early or leave late, but if I need to go to an appointment or just want to leave a little early one day it’s almost always not a problem (I just give my supervisor a heads up).

    26. Dead Quote Olympics*

      I’m the boss, so this is the way my (almost all salaried) higher ed-adjacent office works:

      Everyone is expected to be here to cover core hours (9-4:30) but except for the office admin, they choose their core hours. I expect consistency just so everyone knows who isn’t in until 9 and who is gone by 4, but requests to shift core hours are at their discretion — can be for child care schedules, transportation, recurring gym/doctor/etc.

      We have a daily standup meeting where we tell each other “out for a drs appt at 3” or whatever — again, the focus is on not wasting time looking for someone who is not there. They are responsible for notifying/checking with their supervisor for vacations and work-from-home days (some people have a scheduled work at home morning or afternoon, some people request in advance on an ad hoc).

      I don’t track hours, I track productivity, and I expect my staff who supervise to do the same. So I don’t care if someone spent an hour and a half at lunch one day and I don’t monitor if they make it up or not. There are times when staff have to stay odd hours to test software deployments or monitor service outages, but I don’t want them staying more than 40 hrs on a routine basis, and they are encouraged to take all their vacation and use their sick leave when they need it. We do comp time for multi-day conferences (all our professional conferences seem to be over weekends) but except for those, in general I assume that what the organization loses on a few roundabouts, we make up on the swings.

      My staff is small, our organization’s service portfolio is very large, and believe me we notice when someone isn’t pulling their weight — that’s the only time I’ve specifically monitored a staff member’s time (and they, indeed, were not putting in their 40, among many other problems). Almost all my staff are the “dreaded” Millenial generation, and my main struggle is to prevent them from burning out because they are very conscientious, driven to do an excellent job, and prone to biting off more than they can chew.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Dead Quote Olympics has described exactly our situation except for the “stand up meeting” I might have to start one. Including “I’ve specifically monitored a staff member’s time (and they, indeed, were not putting in their 40, among many other problems)”

    27. Sam Carter*

      I work at a very small company and the hours are flexible on both ends. While I have a supervisor, I can set my hours within reason and change them as needed. We also have a very mobile culture and can often work remotely. Most mornings, I arrive between 8:30-10, though I keep my phone on much earlier in case of emergency. Sometimes I’ll take a lunch break, sometimes not, just depends on the day. I leave when I’m hungry for dinner, which is around 5:30 and will then go home, relax, and often respond to some emails later in the evening. If working with a team on another continent, I may have late night calls (their early morning). That flexibility goes both ways though. As long as I account for scheduled meetings or key tasks that must be done in the office, I can move around and leave as needed for an appointment/nap/exercise class. The vacation policy isn’t written down, but it’s understood to be “take what you need.” On average, I work 50 or so hours/week. Sometimes it’s more, which can be exhausting, but I love to work and the company mission. I’ve never had this level of flexibility before and it feels great to be trusted since my colleagues know I’ll get the job done.

    28. Cass*

      7:30 – 4:15, with 45 minutes for lunch. Typically I’ll eat at my desk while I’m working so I usually don’t take an official lunch. Sometimes, however, I’ll eat while I’m working and then go run an errand or something. I can adjust my schedule as needed or work an extended day in-lieu of using personal leave; this is what keeps me around, I think.

    29. Amy*

      My company (large, almost all employees are salaried exempt) mostly doesn’t care what hours we work. We end up working around a 45 hour week in my role (a little more in busy times, rarely much less) and ~9:30-3:30 is considered standard meeting time that you can reasonably expect everyone to be around for, but beyond that your schedule is up to you.

      I really like having the flexibility to set my own routine, and the ability to come in late or leave early if I have an appointment or something without having to ask for time off or anything. If I got a choice between an 40 hour max work week and the flexible schedule, though, I’m not sure which I’d choose. Both are really nice!

    30. AliceBD*

      My office asks that you have times you normally come in and normally leave, but as long as you are around between 10am-3pm, what those times are are up to you and your manager. So I have coworkers who come in at 6:30 or 7:00 am and ones that come in at 9:30am, but each employee is consistent with themselves. We have an hour lunch. The younger/less senior employees are only supposed to work 40 hours a week, although we don’t have official comp time. More senior employees work as much as they need to but not ridiculous amounts as they value work/life balance. If you have a doctor’s appointment or need to get an oil change or something you just tell your boss and take the time; almost everyone works late before or after or skips lunch to make up the time so you don’t have to use your personal time.

      I come in a few minutes late every day and take short lunches and sometimes stay late and no one cares. Or last week when the power went on when I had a half day and it was clearly going to be out for a while my boss just sent me to leave early. We don’t keep strict track of time and everyone acts like responsible adults.

    31. Misquoted*

      I am a tech writer working 100% remotely (from home). This requires a lot of good time management and balance. Some weeks I fall on the side of too much housework during the day (and then I make up for it at night). Some weeks I fall on the side of dealing with work email and stuff more than I should outside of work hours.
      I support a team in another state but in my time zone, and most of the other writers are in a third state, two hours behind me. I generally try to work 8-5 with an hour for lunch or errands, or maybe two half-hour meal breaks, because 8-5 works well for my life, but sometimes working later hours works better, if I need to interact with the writers more that day. I do have the flexibility, however, to work in whatever way works best for me, even if that changes day to day. Sometimes I’m at my desk at 7 and quit early. Sometimes I’m at my desk at 7 for an hour, then gone for an hour, then work 9-5. Sometimes I work 8-2, leave for an appointment, then work that evening. I often work on weekends if I’ve had a week with a lot of errands or other things going on.
      I’m expected to be at meetings, and occasionally that means working later than usual, but not often. And of course, I’m expected to meet my goals and deadlines and generally be available for email or IM conversations or spur-of-the-moment meetings.
      If I plan to work very odd hours, such as being away from my desk for three hours at lunchtime for some reason, I’ll let my boss and teammates know ahead of time, and that I plan to work late that night (and then I do that).

    32. The Other Dawn*

      I’m salaried exempt.

      I try to get here by 8-ish, but it’s typically between 8:10 and 8:25. (After 15+ years of being salaried exempt, I just have to accept that I’m not punctual when it comes to getting my butt to work.) I leave around 5-ish. I get an hour for lunch, which is usually at my desk, and I eat and work at the same time. That way I can hit the gym at 4 pm for the last hour of the day. I then come back to my desk and take care of any last minute emails before I leave. I sometimes log in from home at random times for a little bit–less than a half hour, maybe once every two weeks–if there’s something I’ve forgotten to do.

      Thankfully my boss doesn’t care as long as I get the work done and I’m available most of the time for my team (what manager is really available 100% of the time, anyway?). And even then, he’s fine with me being available by cell or email; however, there really aren’t any emergencies in my specific department due to the nature of the work. He’s so laid back and we all love it. Very often he will say, “Are you here tomorrow?” I used to think that was so weird, because I’d be like, “Um, yeah. I didn’t put in for any time off so I’ll be here.” But it’s just that he totally trusts his management team and knows the work will get done; he doesn’t care how or when as long as we’re making deadlines and it’s good work.

      I would say it’s that way for almost all salaried exempt people here. Unless they’re in a customer-facing role. Then, of course, they need to be around at certain times. But that’s still dictated by their manager or department head.

      (This is an example of my awesome boss (I know you didn’t ask, but I love singing his praises!): I had a tummy tuck at the end of February and put in for three weeks off and said I’d likely be able to work that third week from home. Then the plan would be to come back on the fourth week (March 20) and play it by ear: most likely work limited hours, take some breaks, etc. He just told me to do whatever I felt I needed to do and not to worry, that the work would get done. I worked from home three days of that third week and then came back on March 20 and left around 2 pm. Lo and behold, I get a call on my way home from work–my first real day back-that my dad died. I texted him and my senior analyst with the news, saying that I’d let them know what the week would look like and he tells me just take the whole week, don’t think about work, and to take care of myself. It was awesome.)

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Forgot to add that my boss doesn’t particularly care if we hit 40 hours or not, as long as everything gets done. He expects we will manage our time around the workload. Also, if we were regularly over 40 hours, he wouldn’t want that and would be looking at streamlining processes, adding people, eliminating tasks, or whatever else would give us a more “normal” work week.

    33. CrazyEngineerGirl*

      Thanks for sharing everyone! This has helped immensely! I’ve felt pretty confused about the whole salary-exempt/work schedule thing for a while and tbh, I’ve just felt too embarrassed to ask. I’m in my mid 30s, spent forever in school (undergrad, masters, 5 years in a PhD program before dropping out because I hated it), left during the peak recession years, couldn’t find a job for almost 2 years, and spent the following 2 years VERY underemployed. I finally got a job in my field over 3 years ago, but I often feel a bit lost because I’m straddling this line of still being fairly new to the higher level white collar work world and thinking “geez, I’m not a fresh faced youngster, I’m closer to 40 than 30! I should definitely know this stuff!” In summary, I’m endlessly grateful for AMA and all of you!

    34. copy run start*

      I’m expected to be at work from 8 – 5 and take an hour lunch (unscheduled). I’m still pretty new so I’m adhering to that schedule fairly closely. In general my team’s expectations is that errands/short leave during the day isn’t a problem, but taking a half or full day off would require PTO usage. Most people work over 40 I think, but it’s not really stated that we have to. Work sometimes dictates it — can’t help when things break!

      It does sound like they view you more like an hourly employee. Most places I’ve worked, even hourly, were a bit more flexible with flexing your schedule as long as there was coverage than it sounds like your employer is. I think I’ve only ever given two weeks notice for leave when I had scheduled a doctor’s appointment or was leaving town/having guests come in. Otherwise, I’ve just requested it as things have come up (same day even) and never had a problem. I always thought one of the perks of being exempt was that you could manage your schedule and have to worry about hitting exactly 40 hours each week.

    35. Windchime*

      I usually work 7:30 – 3:30. I eat lunch at my desk while reading AAM. I have been at this job for about 6 months and it’s been a rare week that I’ve worked over 40 hours. My boss is super flexible about doctor appointments; I make up what time I can on the honor system. My boss is more concerned about the work getting done and having a healthy team dynamic than she is about everyone having their butt in a seat at a certain time. She does like us each to have an estimated start time every day so that she doesn’t worry if we don’t show up, but people come in anywhere between 6 and 9 AM.

  4. Your Opinions*

    I have a networking question. I work in finance. I carry around my business cards. I deal with many different fields and find that even running personal errands I run into people who may use my employer’s services. My employer deals mostly with smaller businesses (not mom and pop nor international corporations – in between). When I meet a potential contact, I do not force people to sit through a “sales pitch”. This is more along the lines of a casual conversations on a checkout line IF the topic of work comes up AND the conversation goes in that direction. Trust me when running errands I would rather sports or music talk than business, but opportunities present themselves when they do.

    Let’s say you run into a potential contact who is entry level, staff, senior staff positions where they are known in the company but have little say in company decisions. I give them my card, for whatever reason they do not have a business card on them to give me. Assuming through research I can discretely determine that this person is legit (for example through linkedin verify that yes they do work for said company), Is it rude to follow up with someone higher up? Something along the lines of “I recently met your employee Susie Smith who described your business. I would like to further discuss……”. My thought is I don’t want to put Susie Smith in an awkward position. These would be companies that I would really like to get our foot in the door networking wise. Thoughts?

    1. Artemesia*

      I would not do this unless Susie said ‘I’m sure my boss Fergus would be really interested in this why don’t you give him a call.’ I would be outraged if someone I chatted with at Starbucks then contacted my boss using my name as if I had loosed a salesman on him. There would be nothing I could say that would disabuse him of the notion that I was complicit in this. I think this is beyond hard sell. And I am dubious about how many people want to be pursued like this by people they meet at the grocery check out. I think you should cool your jets with casual encounters as sales opportunities unless a person actually says ‘That is interesting, do you have a card’ or some such.

      1. Elemeno P.*

        +1. I work for a major company that a lot of people want to work with, but I have no connection to most of those in-demand departments. If someone went through my LinkedIn and dropped my name to my highest-ranking connection, I’d be really mad at them.

      2. Amber T*

        Agreed! It’s fine to follow up with the person you chatted with if you have their information, but I think it’s a step too far to reach out above them immediately. Admittedly there have been a few times where I’ve gotten a business card and either tossed it myself, or gave it to the person in charge and watched him toss it. (To be clear, there have been times where he’s kept the card and I believed followed through on contacting the person, but it’s outside my realm of responsibilities that I don’t know the outcome.)

    2. The Other Liz*

      Why don’t you ask the person you met if they can connect you with the person you want to meet? Otherwise, you’re using their name without their permission, and you have no idea if their name pulls any weight. If I got an email out of the blue from someone who met my direct report’s executive assistant at a social event, I’d think it was sort of gauche for them to name drop someone’s supervisee as an excuse to contact me, and it would be clear they had just done some googling to find my name and email anyway. So it doesn’t seem any better than a cold call, and it might put “Susie” in an awkward position. What would be totally natural is to say to “Susie”, I’d like to connect with your company – who do you think I should be talking to? If I send you an email later this week would you mind doing an e-introduction for me?

    3. Your Opinions*

      Hi All thanks for your replies. Please know I have never actually contacted a higher up the way my post suggested and while my intentions were good after reading your comments checking linkedin seems a bit stalkery. Since meeting someone at any potential company, I asked my question more to try to to figure out how to at the very least follow up on handing out my business card. I do like the idea of asking for an introduction through the person I met. I also realize professionally not to cross certain lines. Perhaps the wording of my questions needs to be rephrased. Thank you again for answering.

      1. Jennifer Walters*

        I think if you’ve handed them your business card in a social situation (as in the waiting in the check out line example) and they didn’t give you a business card, you should wait for them to contact you. Perhaps, if you felt sure enough that the person was also interested in what you do and they did not have a business card, you could ask for their e-mail to follow up at another time. Though, this might still put the person you spoke with in an awkward situation if they were just being polite. Otherwise, I would just leave it.

        Though, Your Opinions, I must say I appreciate you asking this question. I have a friend I went to law school with who is now in finance (he got an MBA at the same time of his J.D.) and he sent everyone he knew in our class about his company and his financial services asking to network. After law school, I moved to another state and had chosen to change my name due to marriage, and he still somehow found my new address!!! It was terrifying and annoying, because we had not been close in school at all. So, recognizing when you’re being a bit stalkery is definitely a step in the right direction re: networking at casual meetings.

    4. Lady By The Lake*

      This seems over the top in terms of networking. I would expect a chance meeting to turn into a legitimate networking opportunity about once in a blue moon. Or never. They don’t have a business card on them because they don’t expect to be hit up for business at the coffee shop. Following up with anyone other than a business decision maker who expressly invited the follow up would be a huge “nope” for me.

  5. Intrepid*

    So I’m looking at an internal transfer I really want, but doesn’t really have a formal hiring process and there’s just a BIT more ambiguity than I’m comfortable with. How can I tactfully raise these concerns with my would-be-manager?

    – He almost seems to think this is a done deal as soon has he gets funding, based in no small part on comments from my current manager. But when funding will come in is a huge TBD, and my current manager is changing my end date faster than a chameleon walking over tie dye.

    – This new role could be either almost entirely admin, or a combination of admin + content. In the past, I’ve been able to leverage my writing skills to include more content in my roles (grant proposals, social media, research reports, etc.). But… writing is also one of his core strengths, so I’m not sure I could expand the role the same way. I’d also be a woman in a male-dominated sector, so it’s important to me that my boss not pigeonhole me as I”m sure some of our external contacts will try.

    What’s some good language to use to broach these topics in what’s likely to be a super-brief conversation with the potential manager, without sounding like I’m assuming the worst?

    1. Amanda*

      I would straight up ask, “How much of the job is admin and how much is content?” If he hems and haws, I think it would behoove you both to say you’re looking to move into a position with more content work. I’d share your concern that if this isn’t well-defined, and a major part of the role is admin, you’re going to end up doing mostly admin. I might wait until the funding actually comes in, because it sounds like this is such a moving target right now, the answers might be really different when the time actually comes.

      1. Intrepid*

        I’ve just never had that conversation go well. It’s always interpreted as “I don’t want to do admin,” when really I mean “Taking admin as a given, what if anything is also in the role?”

        1. EA*

          Your going to have to have the balls to be straightforward about it. Also, you are an internal candidate, so you get more leeway.

          Try this (I assume you are working in an admin capacity and want to transition out). I have enjoyed my time as an admin here, especially being really organized, and making sure everything move smoothly. I also have writing and editing experience from (this job, or past jobs), and see my career progressing in that direction. Given this, how much of this role will be content? Or you could go with “I am looking for a duel role, and am interested in both (writing and admin)

          If they interpret that as “I don’t want to be an admin”; then it isn’t the job for you.

        2. Amanda*

          Intrepid, that’s a fair point. But like EA I’m assuming you’re trying to transition out of admin. Maybe we’re off-base? But if we’re interpreting correctly, it really doesn’t make sense for either you or the boss to have you take a job that’s going to just be more admin.

        3. Jadelyn*

          To be fair, it’s entirely legitimate for it to just actually mean “I don’t want to do admin”, especially if you’re trying to transition out of admin-type roles.

  6. Berry*

    For those of you who have done contract positions, how long do you wait before the end of the contract to start searching for your next job?

    1. Intrepid*

      Never soon enough? I guess I generally budget that the successful hiring process will take 3 months from the day I submit my cover letter until the day I walk in the door, and then try to budget a couple additional months for unsuccessful cover letter submissions.

      1. PB*

        I completely agree with “never soon enough.” You also have to know your field. I’m in higher ed, so hiring takes for ever. My first couple jobs after grad school were contract positions. The first ran six months (extended once), the other a year (extended twice). During that time, I basically never stopped searching.

    2. Can't Sit Still*

      No later than 2 months before the end of the contract, six months if you’re looking for an extended contract.

      Don’t be like a former co-worker who assumed his contract would be renewed until 2 weeks before the end of his contract, then spent the last two weeks begging for an extension.

      The shortest time it’s taken me to find a new contract is 3 weeks and that was because they had decided to hire me immediately after the interview. The background check and new hire paperwork took the full 3 weeks. In order to get that contract, I had 19 interviews in 9 days, both in-person and Skype. I had to be extremely flexible (about everything) and spent a couple of days just racing from interview to interview. I interviewed at all hours and over the weekend.

      1. S-Mart*

        Wow. I’m not sure I’ve had 19 total interviews in my life – nevermind in 9 days. Between prep, travel, and the interview itself I don’t think I could do more than 2/day. Maaybe 3/day, but not if I was also working at setting up future interviews/applying to more things.

        1. Can't Sit Still*

          Back to back Skype interviews FTW! I was spending 2 – 4 hours a day on phone screens, too. I thought I was going to die, it was awful, and I don’t recommend it. I’m amazed I got an offer at all, considering I barely knew what city I was in or company I was interviewing with at any given point. I was being flexible on location, responsibilities and pay, since I was on the verge of homelessness. I ended up getting a higher salary with fewer responsibilities and in a city close to home, all with a great boss. I was lucky. Really lucky.

          Looking back, I don’t even know how it was possible. I’m not sure I could even come close now if I tried.

    3. YawningDodo*

      When I was on contract positions I’d start casually looking five or six months out, which meant going back to at least skimming job postings, re-formatting my applications spreadsheet to get it ready for use, and just generally paying attention to what kinds of things were coming available. I usually didn’t start putting in applications until three months out, though, sometimes four if I spotted something really good. In my line of work (archives and libraries) three or four months was usually enough time to find something.

    4. Danae*

      My experience with being a contractor is that you never actually stop looking for work. Even in the first six months of a contract, I’d submit an application or two a week. That ramps up about four months before the end of my contract, though.

    5. A*

      I have been contracting for the past 4 years in IT, and I haven’t ever stopped job searching. I’m always looking for and applying to full time positions in hopes of getting out of the contract cycle. Unfortunately most jobs in my industry and area are moving towards contract so its getting even more difficult.

    6. Sitting with sad salad*

      Oh, until my current job, I only worked contracts. Never stopped looking, except maybe in the first few months of a long term (2+ years) contract.

  7. Otra*

    How do I handle workflow when I have different people giving me work? I work in a small office and have different bosses who all give me work. Some of the bosses give me a lot of work at once and one boss wants me to ask him for work when it’s his turn (he wants me to rotate work between the bosses). It’s very hard to do that when I have so much work to because of what I have been given by the other bosses and an upcoming deadline. How should I approach this? Should I talk to the other bosses and tell them their work might not get complete so that I can ask this boss for work? We have a deadline this week and I already have a lot of work that needs to be finished by that deadline and he wants me to still ask him for more work, which I don’t believe is reasonable.
    Also, I don’t want to look bad but I am not coming in Sunday because of the holiday. We don’t normally work Sundays, but I know some people come in when they have extra work. Does it look bad if I don’t come and don’t take on more work? Some people took days off earlier in the week for a holiday as well, so I think I am fine to not come in Sunday.

    1. Elemeno P.*

      I think the one boss asking you to come to him for work is working under the assumption that the other bosses are doing that as well, which isn’t true. I would recommend telling him how the other bosses are going about it and asking for the same from him; taking turns only works if everyone’s doing it. I also have multiple bosses who all give me assignments, and I just let them know if I have a looming deadline for another boss and when I can have something done.

      1. Otra*

        Well, I asked him how should I approach the situation because I have other stuff to do for the other bosses so doing so would mean some of their work doesn’t get done. He said I still have to rotate and come ask him for work. I asked if he could give me all he work and I would get it to it as I have a chance and he just told me to come ask for work when it is his turn.

    2. KatieKate*

      That’s really frustrating. Do you have to divide your time evenly? How much of the work assigned is “if you have the time” and how much is it work assigned? Is there a way to streamline it, or organize the priority work? Maybe using an internal calendar?

      1. Otra*

        I actually have a calendar that is visible to everyone, maybe in my calendar I should leave time to work on the other manager’s projects that doesn’t give all the work at once. The problem is at this point taking any more work would mean not finishing some work I already have.

    3. Anon Guy*

      Have a good organization system for your time. I use a separate calendar where I map out my various projects and allocate time to them.

      There’s NOTHING wrong with telling someone who wants you to do a new project that “I’m booked solid for the next two weeks, but could do this the week of May 5. Does that work for you?” DON’T preference this with “I’m sorry but …” because there’s nothing for which to apologize!

      If there’s a conflict between two bosses with high priority tasks, it’s also fine to meet with both of them at the same time.

      1. Otra*

        Thank you. If I am supposed to rotate how do I tell a manager that already gave me work that I can’t get to his work because of the rotation?

        1. TL -*

          You can totally implement going forward! You can finish up your current projects and then start a new, more strict system. Or you can contact your manager with the project and say, “I’ve been looking at my time split and it’s supposed to be 25/25/25/25, but with the project+deadline, it’s 50/25/12.5/12.5. I’m not comfortable declining work from X managers, but I’d have to in order to finish your project on deadline. In the future, I’m going to work on my time management to avoid this, but for right now, can you sit down with them and work out a priority list for the next two weeks?”

          If you have multiple managers, they should be touching base about you every now and then, if only so that they can have reasonable expectations of your time and build up goodwill if they need you 100% for a project.

          1. Otra*

            I know what you mean, but I am good at managing my time and my workload, but am having a difficult time managing my workload when I don’t know what work he will be giving me or how long it will take to complete those assignments.

    4. ByLetters*

      My position is a little bit like this! I refer to myself as an “admin in between departments,” and my tasks include things that touch on 4-5 areas at any given time.

      What I’ve learned is that it really, really helps when you assume nothing, and don’t let others assume anything about your work. Be absolutely clear about what tasks you can and can’t complete; even if managers are irritated that you can’t get to “their” priorities, it is SO much better for them to find that out ahead of time, than to be relying on you getting it done and finding out at the last minute that you couldn’t get to it.

      If your immediate manager expects you to rotate, that’s kind of what you’re stuck with — I’m lucky that in my current position, my direct manager is pretty hands off. This has allowed me to adjust priorities myself. I accomplish tasks based on a combination of due date, importance of the project (making a fancy spreadsheet is going to come behind turning in the numbers for the budget due next week, for instance), and whether or not there is anyone else that CAN do the task. If it’s one I’m uniquely suited for that no one else can pick up? That’s got a higher priority than one that three other people are capable of doing.

      But in regards to the rotation, sit down and really clearly define that with you manager, explaining if needed that due to the nature of the projects (large versus small, simple versus complex) it’s difficult to accomplish them based on a strict rotation, so is there another way you can allocate your time between the managers? Since you’re running into a wall of “too much to do and too little time,” can you narrow down which tasks you’re expected to do — even if it’s just for until you catch up?

      If the nature of the projects allows it, I would also become very firm in setting boundaries about the managers expectations for how quickly you can or cannot complete their projects. This has been something I’ve faced — they come to me with something, I tell them it will be X days, they complain that they need it in X-3 days, and I tell them that I sympathize, but for this type of project I really need X days. As a subordinate sometimes you get into this mindset where you just panic and agree, but you CAN disagree respectfully in a way that they will accept (so long as they are reasonable people). Caving in this regard just sets you up for a spiral of panic in the future, where they are constantly expecting the unreasonable of you.

      1. Otra*

        Thanks for all the tips. I actually don’t have a direct manager but report to all the managers so they all give me work and expect me to get it done or drop whatever I am doing when they have a priority. It’s really difficult for me and I try to do work in the order it came in, but it’s hard when this other boss is telling me to ask for more work!

        1. TL -*

          How many bosses do you have? You can totally assign him a time for his work – for instance, if you have 5 bosses, you can say, “Every Thursday, I can give you 8 hrs’ worth of work. I’ll email you Wednesday for assignments and then Thursday morning, I’ll check in if there’s anything I don’t understand.”

        2. TL -*

          Ah, this didn’t post the first time but:

          You can totally assign him a percentage of time equal to his cut of your work – if you have 5 managers, he would get a day, for instance – and the just declare Thursday is Boss X’s day. You let him know, email him every Wednesday, check in with him Thursday morning, and then give him 8 hrs’ worth of work once a week. If someone comes to you on Thursday, say, “Boss X and I have an agreement that I only work on his stuff Thursdays. I’m happy to talk to you tomorrow, but I’m booked for today.”

          With any luck, most of your managers will declare that they want a day too and your workload will even out.

          1. Otra*

            I had actually suggested this on rotating days, but he doesn’t want that because then he would have to wait a few days for me to work on this stuff. He wants me to rotate his work in with the other bosses’ work. I can see how theoretically that would work, but I find it difficult to manage my workload when I don’t know what work he will be giving me.

    5. The Other Liz*

      It seems like you could benefit from having one overarching manager. I’m a manager whose supervisees take on tasks from lots of other people at the organization, but I have weekly check-ins with my supervisees to see how they’re doing, and identify any problems – like if they’ve got a ton of work coming from different people. You need an advocate in your corner who has final say on whether it’s ok to assign you a given task, or whether you’re overwhelmed and it should go to someone else or wait a week. Not every workplace values good management the way mine does, of course, but you really should just have one boss. The other folks are higher up than you and delegate work to you, but they’re not bosses. Can you find yourself a boss who will be in your corner?

      1. Otra*

        That makes a lot of sense and I think would be helpful. I don’t think I can find a direct boss though. It is frustrating because I don’t think they take into consideration what my workload is or what the other bosses have given me for work.

        1. The Other Liz*

          I’m sorry – I’ve had that happen to me in the past. And even if you did have one boss they might not necessarily have your back. And if you’re like me, and you have trouble saying no to things, it’s even more of a challenge – so I would get used to asking follow up questions like, how high a priority is this? When would you need it by? And, if it competes for your time with someone else’s equally “urgent” task, let them know. Especially since you have no manager checking in with you to ask you about your overall workload you’ll have to be extremely explicit. I would also recommend that you keep an eye out for one manager, hopefully, who could mentor you a bit – maybe someone who you can reliably get good feedback from, who thanks you and recognizes your hard work and who can help advance your career, and make sure you’re extra helpful to THAT person.

    6. Alli525*

      I had the same thought as a fellow commenter, that an overarching boss would be good, but I see that it’s unlikely to work in your situation. What about implementing a Google Doc (excel probably) where each of your bosses can input their projects for you? It may have the benefit of making them really see the volume of your workload (although YMMV), but at the very least it would keep things organized for you.

      That said, I think your “ask me for work” boss is being tremendously unfair.

      1. Xarcady*

        For the boss who wants you to rotate–can’t you just ask him for the next project? And then give him a due date that takes into consideration all the other work you have. He doesn’t have to know how you are rotating or when you are working for someone else. He just needs his work done.

        Or tell him straight out, “I have enough work now to keep me busy for the next two weeks. If you want me to work on anything for you, I need it now, so that I can figure out how to find the time to work on it. I know you want me to rotate between the four of you, but the other three don’t agree, and I can’t manage the workload with 2 such very different systems in place.”

        And I think it’s okay if you push back on the managers a little bit, when you are getting too much work from them. “Okay, Manager A, I can work on Project X. However, Manager B told me Project Y has top priority this week. So that is what I will be concentrating on Monday and Tuesday. If you need your work finished before Thursday, which is when I think I will be done, please discuss it with Manager B.” Or ask them if overtime has been approved for their project, as you will need to put in X hours of overtime to finish it by the time they want.

        Or email all 4 of them, list the projects and deadlines, and tell them to let you know what projects should be finished in which order.

        Or push back on their due dates. If they are giving you an unrealistic amount of work, they need to hear that from you.

        The managers have created this problem by not having all the work funneled through someone who can figure out the real priorities, so let them do the work. They may come to realize this is not the best system.

        Also, is there anyone else in the company in a position similar to yours? See if they can give you some ideas on how to handle the workload.

        And it’s okay to take Sunday off.

    7. AnonyMouse*

      Take Sunday off if it helps you. You need to take care of yourself too, and this situation doesn’t seem like a short-term sprint. I like to ask myself: “Is this sustainble?” I get a ton of demands in my job and so to me, coming in once in a blue moon on a weekend for a particularly urgent project IS sustainable; coming in every Sunday is not.

      You already have a lot of advice here. I don’t know if this would help you, but it seems like this is stressing you out because you can’t please all your bosses, AND you’re in a situation where you’re a bit at their mercy. I wonder if you’d feel better if you felt more in control; e.g. you decide how you want to proportion your time and just inform your bosses. E.g. “Boss A, my plan is to work on this on Thursday, after I finish other priority work I’ve been given. Please let me know if that’s a problem” (Not ‘please let me know if that’s ok’ — you’re not waiting for permission, just stating what you’re doing and the onus is on Boss A to object). So if you decide for yourself that Fridays belong to Rotating Boss, you could say to other boss, “Hi Boss-Work-Dumper, on Friday I need to work on something for Rotating Boss, so I’ll get back to your task on Monday.” (You don’t need to explain the rotating situation, you’re just informing other boss when you can deliver on his item)

      This has worked well for me in my work situation, where previously I felt like I was at the mercy of various bosses who kept dropping assignments on me with little regard to what else was on my plate. Instead of complaining, I’d just say “Okay, so I have X, Y, Z I’m already working on, the fastest I can get Q to you is by Tuesday, please let me know if that’s a problem.” And most of the times the boss would say fine, and sometimes they would say, “oh let me reassign Q to someone else.” I think the key is that so long as you continue to be polite, competent and deliver high quality work at the time you say you will, and keep everyone informed, they can’t accuse you of not communicating and thus not meeting expectations.

      Good luck!

    8. ..Kat..*

      Can you tell all your bosses to get together and decide how they want to give you assignments and manage your time together? It seems to me that they are putting this off on you- which is putting you in a no win situation. The managers together should be deciding what is a priority, what can wait. After all, they probably have higher level info that you don’t have which tells them what are priorities for the business.

      This current situation is not fair to you. If they won’t do this, can you simply divide 8 hours per day by your number of managers (let’s say 4 managers) – which should give you 2 hours per day for each manager. And tell them that they each get this amount per day? But really, this is unfair to you.

      Who does your yearly evaluation? Perhaps this person can help you sort it out. Of course, if it is all of them, that doesn’t help. You are being set up to fail.

  8. Jill of All Trades*

    I seem to have some crazy work stories because of the different personalities at my work. What are some stories from your workplace of people doing/saying crazy things?

    Mine this week was someone who didn’t know the address of their office and looked it up on google, only to find that the address they had led them to a bar instead of the office.

    1. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      Oh gosh, I have so many but I’ll share a short one. I used to work with this guy who personality-wise was totally chill and quiet. I was shocked to learn from his boss that he was a terribly aggressive driver, major speeder, honking horn at nothing…etc. He’s been in so many accidents that he had to have one of those insurances you see in gimmicky commercials on TV. One day he was backing up out of his parking spot so fast, that he went up and over the curb onto the grass, and hit one of those tall parking lot lights and knocked it to the ground. We were all dumbfounded at how he could have done this, and generated enough speed to get that far! It did make us chuckle though. PS, nobody was hurt, it just fell onto the grass. His back bumper was pretty smooshed though.

      1. Jill of All Trades*

        It sounds like he stores up all of his aggression from the workday for his drive home…

      2. Artemesia*

        It could have been a co-worker standing in the grass ‘out of the way’ who was hit and knocked over. It ain’t cute, it is a menace to everybody who works there.

        1. Your Weird Uncle*

          Reminds me of the thread a while back about the OP who drove their mother to work, but (IIRC) she was facing disciplinary action because they would drive aggressively.

      3. Amadeo*

        Do you remember (or have you ever seen) that Goofy cartoon short ‘Motor Mania’? It’s available on Youtube. I thought of that short when I read this story…

    2. Spoonie*

      “Your laptop is just broken in now.” — from someone in IT who should. know. better. You don’t “break in” a computer. It either runs correctly or doesn’t.

      1. Pescadero*

        Oh how I wish that were true.

        Computers, just like any other manufactured device, fall into the “bathtub” failure curve.

        There is significant infant mortality, and most major manufacturers (Dell, etc.) as well as the CPU companies absolutely engage in “burn in”

    3. Temperance*

      One of the secretaries in my office is absolutely nuts and an oversharer. Her home life is a hot mess, and she is weirdly extremely open about it. She doesn’t actually KNOW me, like at all, but she once walked up to me and said ,”hey, do you want a cat? My son’s new girlfriend is pregnant and she and her mom are allergic, so we think that this baby is going to be allergic. His other kid’s mom isn’t allergic, so it wasn’t a problem before.”

      This was ONE SENTENCE. I didn’t get a word in edgewise. I’d also like to point out that her son was 19 and had 2 baby moms.

    4. LawCat*

      “Haven’t they heard of birth control?” – Senior manager at a staff meeting when one of the support staff shared news that her daughter and son-in-law were expecting their second child

        1. Lefty*

          I’d be tempted to go completely deadpan…”Birth… control…? What is this magical thing you speak of?! Senior Manager, you must be a wizard!”

          Maybe, “Well they’re trying to outnumber the people who think those questions are ok to ask!”

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        Oh goodness… I don’t *think* my dad would say something like that in a work context but when friends, family, or neighbors have announced that they’re expecting, he always says, “Don’t they know what causes that?” Yes, dad, we all know what causes that… ~eyeroll~

        1. nonegiven*

          My dad actually said that at work once, as a joke, and didn’t understand why the guy got mad. My dad was plant manager.

      2. Sherry*

        Manager: “Haven’t they heard of birth control?”
        Employee: “Heck, we’re still trying to figure out where babies come from!”

    5. Muriel Heslop*

      This week:
      I helped my colleague get bloodstains out of his tie after he broke up two girls fighting in the stairwell.
      I explained synonyms by having a class brainstorm words for boogers.
      I refereed a spirited debate: “Is white chocolate really chocolate?”

      I teach eighth grade. Most of my stories are very typical for middle schools but against the backdrop of typical professional environment they are weird.

      1. tigerlily*

        I work at a preschool so I totally get that. If you didn’t know that, it would be weird if I told you someone at work asks me if I wore underwear today every morning, and that yesterday someone offered to show me their penis.

        1. literateliz*

          Ha! My boyfriend is a preschool teacher. One time I texted him midday to ask how his day was going. His response: “My day is good. [Kid] pulled down his pants and tried to poop on the floor.”

          I’m PRETTY sure one of those sentences does not go with the other, but what does an editor know? :P

    6. AndersonDarling*

      I worked for a small company that brought in a fancy executive from across the country to lead a division. She seemed to be fairly clueless about her job but she managed well enough. One day she backed her car into a loading truck in the parking lot, and she didn’t know what to do. Didn’t know that she should call her insurance company, needed to talk to the truck driver, needed to see if her car would drive home safety (it was just a dent). She just stood in the lobby. The whole team had to walk her through the steps to take. It’s one thing if your 18 and don’t have a clue about car accidents. But this was a 30 year seasoned executive who was running a division of the company.

    7. jamlady*

      Ha! Perfect timing. My husband just texted me that his coworker, who has put in his notice after a month because “everyone picks on me”, just asked him “how are you doing – have you taken a nice sh*t?”

      Not sorry to see him go.

    8. Hermione*

      One of my favorites from an old job was late-40’s lawyer who didn’t get how elevators worked.

      I was twenty years old, and covering the reception desk at a mid-sized law firm on maybe the 12th floor of a high-rise building. This attorney was apparently good at her job (from what I understood of her reputation, as I didn’t know her well), but this story often makes me wonder about smart and smart. On this day, as she exited the elevator on her return from lunch, she decided to voice what seemed to be a puzzle that stumped her for a very long time. “I don’t understand this building. Why is it, when I enter the elevator facing away from the lobby, I exit facing the lobby on the floor above? It’s like the elevator turns around!”

      I stared at her for a few seconds, contemplating time, space, creation, and the giant salary differential between our two positions, before I spoke the last words I’d ever say to her. “Ma’am, you turn around to face the doors once you get into the elevator. You’re facing the lobby when the elevator starts to move.”

      She went out of her way to avoid me after that.

      1. Amber T*

        Dear lord lol. You have to wonder about some people who manage to get to high level positions. We have a partner who’s a complete airhead. He was promoted to partner in our firm, he has to be intelligent. But every time I talk to him… He once asked me what “jall-o-pen-oss” (jalopenos) were when looking at a menu.

      2. Solidus Pilcrow*

        I thought this story would be about an elevator with a double opening. Those are fun. Former workplace had an elevator where the lobby entrance faced one way and the entrances to the floors faced the other way. You can tell the people who had not been there before; they are the ones facing the wrong way when the door opens. :b

      3. Dizzy Steinway*

        The other day I found someone waiting for the lift at work. Standing in front of the button, staring intently. I felt kind of guilty having to very obviously reach round and press the button, which they hadnt…

    9. FluffyToodie*

      I worked in a software development company, and we had a new developer on staff. He seemed very meek and mild, a little churchy, always pleasant. He didn’t stay with the company for too long, and when IT went to clean up his computer, they found that all his file names were things like WHIP.ME and HURT.ME and stuff like that. Wierd.

    10. MuseumChick*

      Volunteer come in to a places I used to work angry because he had gone to a fast food place early that day and the cashier said “Hola!” to him. He then told us how he started speaking French to the cashier to “show him why he should speak English to customers.” This volunteer was approx 80 years old.

      1. Your Weird Uncle*

        Ugh, reminds me of the customer we had in one of my retail jobs who berated the cashier for saying ‘Happy holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’! She was lucky it wasn’t me, as she would have gotten an earful.

    11. H.C.*

      There was an ex-admin who had a habit of putting fake fangs in her mouth to greet people, particularly new folks to our office. Her desk has a window that lets her see people as they walk up the stairs/ramp to our office.

      And no, it was neither Halloween nor April Fools.

        1. Amber T*

          Lol ditto! Clearly this is not work appropriate and yet I find myself really wanting to go find a pair of fake teeth…

        2. Jean (just Jean)*

          LOL ditto, although I am cackling open-mouthed with almost no guilt whatsoever. Unfortunately, most establishments would not agree with my sense of humor. (Hmm. Maybe I could try this out at my new job? Probably not. Hee hee. Smothered giggles. It doesn’t take much to amuse me. Good thing I’m at home.)

      1. Jill of All Trades*

        OMG, this reminds me when I worked at ex-Job and went to visit one of our other offices. I walked into the office for the first time, didn’t see anyone, and all I heard was a deep, gutteral voice saying, “WHO GOES THERE?” I turned around, somewhat wide-eyed, to find a coworker I’d spoken to on the phone a couple of times. To her credit, once she saw me, she responded with, “OH S***, you must be new…”

      2. Taylor Swift*

        I know that’s not professional or really appropriate for an office setting, but it is fairly harmless and it’s making me wish there were a little more whimsy in my office.

        1. H.C.*

          I was taken aback at first, but dismissed it as a quirk of hers soon after and didn’t make much of it, but I also wasn’t surprised when her contract wasn’t renewed a few months later.

    12. medium of ballpoint*

      Someone from my alma mater interviewed for an entry level position with my company. Her interview didn’t go very well and she wasn’t going to be offered the position. Before the search closed and she was informed she wasn’t offered the job, she sent an email informing she wouldn’t be accepting the position if it were offered and critiquing odd, nitpicky things about the interview process like how we provided her with water and how the furniture was arranged. Bullet dodged on that one, clearly.

    13. Crafty*

      I worked in restaurants for a long time so I have a MILLION BILLION, but one of the more interesting ones was the woman who was clearly being catfished and would. not. see. reason. We already knew she had some interesting ideas because she would go on long rants about the dangers of vaccinations, how 9/11 was an inside job, the moon landing was faked, JFK, chemtrails, etc. Then suddenly she has this new, much younger woman in her life that she had met online–they were instantly in love and mystery lady (who’s profile looked like someone had googled “hot blonde”) was going to fly her to the Bahamas next week. 30 minutes before flight take-off, mystery woman calls it off and asks for money because her father supposedly had a wire transfer mix-up. Then suddenly my co-worker is sending her trip money for next week and….no-show again. And on and on and on. We all honestly tried to help her because we felt bad that she was getting ripped off, but she just kept sending money. Eventually, she said a few too many weird things to her tables about 9/11 and she got taken off the schedule unceremoniously.

      1. Temperance*

        We 100% need more info re: the “weird things” that this woman said to her tables about 9/11. Was she a Truther??

        1. Crafty*

          Hahaha, yup. Full truther, plus some. She would talk about steel melting temperatures and paid actors and stuff like that. My work BFF saw her chatting with customers one day…she hears they’re from New York and then starts in on a “Well you guys definitely know about *conspiracy theory stuff* right??” … yeah not good.

          1. Dizzy Steinway*

            Paid actors?

            I did not know there were people in this world who were quite so dumb.

    14. Snazzy Hat*

      On our first day on the job, Ditz used her GPS to get to work and ended up at the far outskirts of the campus in a place that made no sense. Think if the job was in a mall shop, and she was directed to a baseball diamond at the edge of the mall property yet sat there for a little while wondering where the shop was. She showed up late.

      Our job revolved around proctoring teapot knowledge exams. By our second week, Ditz already had a reputation for chatting with people before or after their exams, mostly about what they did in the teapot industry but still bothering the nearby other people who were taking exams. One day, a guy got flustered by the questions and left angrily, and it was revealed that one of the exam-takers was his boss and relative. Ditz started up a conversation with Boss about his role and whatnot while he was in the middle of an exam. Our coworker, Writer, pointed out to Ditz and Boss that Boss was taking an exam and therefore the chatting was inappropriate. Ditz replied with a smile and a hand-wave, “oh relax!”

      Not gonna bother with the intolerant garbage spewed by co-workers at my previous jobs, and I could write a book about my retail experiences, but I will never forget the time I worked in retail and a customer complained to me that a coworker (who i didn’t know was capable of not smiling) had scowled at her during their interaction. My coworker wore a hijab. The customer described my coworker by saying she was “wearing a doo-rag”. Somehow my eyes stayed in their sockets.

    15. Gadfly*

      My two favorites from old job:

      The special insert doubletruck (like a centerfold) ad/section a group of small merchants had cobbled together as a joint Christmas ad that was supposed to say “Yes, Virginia, there is a (insert small town name)” but Virginia was HORRIBLY misspelled/replaced by a different word. It printed without the rep catching (or running it through their assistant.)

      The client who wasn’t certain of their website and gave us the wrong (but very similar) porn website and it ran like that for months.

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        Oh gosh those are hilarious! (But also mortifying)
        My first day on the job, my New boss gave me the number for the helpdesk. Except when I called it, it turned out to be the number for a cruise line!

    16. Dizzy Steinway*

      I swear to goodness I am not making this up.

      I worked for a magazine company where this graduate got a job as a videogames writer straight out of college. Supposedly a dream job for him. He complained to his editor that the job was cutting into his gaming time. And his w***ing time (think British word for pleasuring oneself). He also wrote a blog in which he complained about all his colleagues.

      He didn’t last long…

    17. RKB*

      When I was a receptionist at a hair salon I had a stylist tell me, quite proudly, that her boyfriend dumped her so she slashed and trashed and dumped all his belongings. In front of her 2 year old. She said it so casually, like I should be proud of her or awed by it, but I was baffled. (I was 18 at the time and had just met my now life partner — I could never imagine doing that!)

    18. AnonForThis!*

      I’m going anon for this story. Many years ago in a far-away job…one coworker (who I will call Anastasia) started talking about Dirty Santa presents. More specifically a work party at a previous job of hers that was a “dirty” Dirty Santa (as in, your gift was supposed to be something sexual). Anastasia didn’t know what to bring and one of her coworkers popped up with “handcuffs, baby oil and a shower curtain”. She was telling us how impressed she was that he could just come up with a gift idea so quickly when someone in our office asked why they needed a shower curtain. Without thinking I said “to keep the baby oil off the bed” and all the young folks at work just looked at me like “how does she know that?” I told them I had been married for a long time and that I knew things!
      Anastasia decided this needed to be a survey and proceeded to ask everyone at work (probably about 15 people) if they knew why the shower curtain was essential. And we found (at least in our office) that this broke down by age. 30’s were the dividing line (some knew and some didn’t), but none of the 20-somethings knew and everyone over 40 knew why you would need the shower curtain. So yeah, that was an interesting day at work….

    19. Nic*

      My work is a very open environment of folks with computers, and conversations often engage the whole room. There was one last week that all but three people slowly nope’d out of. It started well enough with paternity leave and longer maternity leave being a good idea and slowly morphed:

      1. Women in the workforce (and Military in particular) get pregnant specifically to avoid work duties they don’t like.
      2. Women shouldn’t be in certain jobs/units because they just don’t understand the humor and would be an instant HR report.
      3. Ditto #2 for non-whites.


    20. Anon for this one, just in case*

      Once, immediately upon returning from her 2-week vacation, my boss walked into our open office, pointed at one of our interns who was particularly baby-faced, and said “You got fat!”

      She literally had not even said “hello” yet, nor had anyone had a chance to say “welcome back.” Everyone just kind of stared at her in horror. I wish now that I had said something but I was still pretty new.

      (For the record, the intern had not actually put on any weight, but that’s not really the point!)

  9. Lowballed*

    Right now, I’m very very underpaid for my location and industry, so I’ve been job hunting. I’d love some feedback on how this (failed, unfortunately) negotiation went.

    An internal recruiter for a startup contacted me. I was interested in what they did, and we discussed salary. I didn’t give my current salary but gave a desired salary that’s around the average for my experience, location, and skillset. They told me my number was in line with their budget and was doable.

    After the interviews, they wanted to check my references, which is fine with me. I gave them my previous boss at this company, who moved on a while ago. After talking to him, the recruiter sent an email out to me saying they “changed their mind” and that they didn’t think “I’m worth $X.” They countered with a 20% lower number than the original.

    I said I was disappointed to hear that since the original salary had been non-contentious before (hiring manager had emailed me OKing it earlier in the process). I also said I wasn’t interested in the company any more after that.

    Then that evening, I got a call from the company’s recruiter telling me that she’d remember me and spread my name around for dropping out, refusing to negotiate, and wasting their tine. She also said some stuff about how I was a narcissist entitled Millennial and I should get evaluated for my greed and difficulty to work with.

    Now the recruiter was obviously a complete jackass, but what could I have done better?

      1. Lowballed*

        So I am young (see the entitled Millennial comment from the recruiter). And I work in tech, where salaries are very high right now. I’m also a tech worker in THE city for if, and my work history is at big name financial and technology companies. People with my background very frequently make six figures before 30. Maybe to someone older, tech salaries seem unwarrantedly high (I kind of believe this myself, but my being paid less doesn’t increase my artist friends’ incomes), and I did seem entitled for negotiating the salary I did.

        She was probably mad about missing out on whatever bonus she would’ve made if I signed with the startup, though.

        The ironic thing is that if they hadn’t said that “the hiring manager doesn’t think you’re worth that much” AFTER giving me glowing feedback, and hadn’t cut the offered salary over $20K (just less), I might’ve ​accepted that offer.

        But “we’ve changed our minds, you’re not worth that much” is just so insulting to me. Glad to hear I’m not crazy for thinking that.

        1. starsaphire*

          Yeah, that does sound insulting, and almost deliberately antagonistic. I wonder if they lost some vcap funding or something?

          (waves at you from across the bay)

          1. Lowballed*

            Their business model is pretty sound, at least to me, but who knows?

            The sad irony of it is if they had said something like “sorry, but we can’t actually give you $X because of circumstances. We can offer $Y and these additional perks.” Or at least it’d have been a much gentler scenario.

            BTW yeah, I’m not sure if they just put the first justification they thought of, or if it was intentional. There’s a lot of startup bro advice that basically amounts to “be a hyperaggressive jackass to everyone” (cf Silicon Valley the show). But I don’t think that matters. I’m glad I stood up for myself and don’t regret passing on it.

    1. LisaLee*

      I don’t know if there’s anything you could have done differently. It sounds like you told them your number at an appropriate time and they didn’t give you an indication that its out of their budget. Unless you said you were totally unwilling to negotiate (which still wouldn’t have been cause for her to act like that) that’s the proper way to do it.

      I almost wonder if this is a deliberate tactic on their part to screw over relatively new and inexperienced workers.

    2. Juli G.*

      So without seeing/hearing your exact wording (but giving you the benefit of the doubt that you’re totally reasonable)… nothing. They just suck. I’m sorry this happened.

      1. Lowballed*

        I’m still employed and making ends meet without difficulties. I just happen to be in tech, where salaries are nuts. So don’t worry too much about me.

        And I admit I might’ve said something which the recruiter didn’t like — but it was after they told me they were lowering the offer. And if I did, if was pretty mild. I didn’t raise my voice or use any language that would’ve been considered insulting by someone who sent that email to me. It was something like “I’m not sure what happened. I thought [hiring manager] was okay with [salary], because he’d said that in an email chain we were both on. I think I’m going to have to pass, because you just told me that you don’t think I’m worth that much anymore.”

    3. SJ*

      It’s interesting that they accepted your desired salary and then suddenly changed their mind about what you were worth after talking to your previous boss… is there any chance he/she might have said something that made you seem not as desirable/worth your desired salary?

      But you handled this totally fine and the recruiter was a jerk.

      1. Lowballed*

        I’m on good terms with that boss. He gave me excellent performance reviews when I worked for him. And I asked him if he’d be comfortable with giving me a good reference in advance. I think they just asked him what I made when he was my boss, and from there decided to cut the salary, because the lowered offer was still much more than what I make here.

        If the wording was intentional, which it might not have been, it was probably from the hardball jerk mentality a lot of startup people have: like when they post articles about how smart they are because they work at a startup, why you should continue to spam prospects who have given you a hard no, etc.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I think that’s exactly what happened. And then recruiter got pissed because she expected you to take anything as long as it was higher than your last salary.

    4. Sunflower*

      WTFFFFF that person is crazy. I would say nothing!! I think you were totally reasonable to bow out. First of all, telling you ‘you’re not worth X’ is totally unnecessary and there are many diff ways she could have told you the salary had changed. If anything, I would save that email and tell your friends to stay away from that recruiter. I’d be soo tempted to post that on Glassdoor or email it to someone else at the org. Also who is supposed to evaluate you for your greed LOL?

      This is me totally speculating but if I had to take a guess what happened- they asked your previous boss what your salary was and he told them(he shouldn’t have if he did), they see it’s way lower than what you asked for and they thought they could get you with a lower #.

      Regardless, this company has shown their true colors and you made the right choice bowing out. Don’t beat yourself up! Even if you had been unreasonable or at all wrong in this, the proper response from the recruiter would have been a simple ‘we’ve decided to go in another direction’

      1. Lowballed*

        She literally started listing personality disorders she thought I might’ve had. It was from her cell phone too, at like 7PM. It was truly bizarre and I didn’t know how to respond.

        I wish she’d emailed it to me instead of called me. I would’ve posted it online somewhere, or forwarded it to the company’s CEO (again, small startup).

        1. INeedANap*

          Honestly, if I were you, I’d transcribe it exactly and then send a copy of the transcription to the CEO with a note like:

          “Dear CEO,

          It was a pleasure speaking about a position with [Company]. I wish you and [Company] the best in filling this position. I wanted to send you the following transcript of a voicemail left for my by [Recruiter]. Throughout the interview process, I was impressed by the professionalism of all of your staff, and I know this type of personal attack does not represent [Company]. I thought you would like to know how [Recruiter] is representing [Company] to others.


          1. Anna*

            Agree. Just because it isn’t in an email, doesn’t mean you can’t let the company know how the recruiter behaved. You didn’t do anything wrong; the recruiter is terrible.

            I would also question if the company actually did decide to lowball you.

        2. The Rat-Catcher*

          Whaaaat? I should have read that before I commented below. I am truly sorry, but there was no saving this.

        3. OhBehave*

          The CEO definitely needs to know what his internal recruiter is doing. I wonder who “they” are that made this decision?
          I agree that if they had stated their position in a nicer way, or even counter-offered, you could have said yes and still have more money than what you have now. It sounds like they have no idea what they’re doing. Idiots!

          1. Lowballed*

            Yes! If they said “Sorry, but we actually can’t give you $X, but we could do $Y and additional benefits,” good faith would’ve been maintained. I could’ve replied with something like “That’s too bad, but I liked talking to your team and I would enjoy working at your org. So what else can we do? Maybe 5 extra vacation days? Is remote work a possibility?”

            “We don’t think you’re worth $X” also implies “and we don’t think you’re worth any other benefits in exchange for decreasing the salary we’d agreed upon before.”

            I likely still would’ve passed on it anyway (after they cut the offered salary, I’d be worried they’d cut my salary in a month or two and possibly try and do it in a shady way, like retroactively cutting the salary — again it’s a startup), but there would be no bad blood between us.

    5. WellRed*

      YO dodged a bullet. It doesn’t sound like you did anything wrong. However, I might not have used the word “non-contentious” if indeed you did. It’s sort of … contentious. And consider whether any other language you used might have rubbed her the wrong way. But really, this behavior on her part makes me think nothing you could do would be right. Get thee to Glassdoor!

      1. Lowballed*

        No, I said something like “I’m not sure what happened. I thought [hiring manager] was okay with [salary], because he’d said that in an email chain we were both on. I think I’m going to have to pass, because you just told me that you don’t think I’m worth that much.”

        Her “we’ve changed our mind” was in an email and I said the response on the phone.

        Maybe that was slightly rude, but given that they started it I don’t feel bad about saying that I’m passing because they insulted me (and lowered their offer).

    6. Naruto*

      I think you handled it fine! They handled everything badly, not you.

      Maybe I wouldn’t have said “I’m not interested in the company any more after this,” and instead would have said “I would be interested at the amount we talked about previously,” but I’m not sure about that, and for sure it would not have made a difference.

      Frankly, the biggest concern I have here is their threat, and I wonder if you should talk to a lawyer.

      1. Candi*

        If I remember other articles right, spreading misinformation to interfere with someone’s job prospects is one of the things a lawyer can do something about. (Because the actual information you give will have people raising an eyebrow at her, not Lowballed.)

        And the insults are completely out of line.

        1. Naruto*

          Lawyer here but not an employment lawyer. If all that transpires, you may have a legal claim. What you really want to do is stop it before it happens, so it’s possibly worth having a lawyer send them a letter advising them of their potential liability and obligations here.

          The problem, of course, is that you don’t have a free lawyer on hand. So it comes down to a question of costs and what is your risk tolerance, do you think they might actually follow through with that (and if so if it would actually only make them look bad), etc.

        2. Lowballed*

          Yeah, but it’s he said, she said. No evidence, you know? I’m a programmer not a lawyer but I feel like there’s little I can do there aside pay a lawyer $350 to send a stern letter that won’t do anything except make this lady and her company madder at me.

      2. Lowballed*

        I admit I might’ve phrased something badly in a phone call with the recruiter, after the “we changed our mind” email. Neither of my parents worked office jobs and the standards of communication here are a little new to me.

        Does it sound like a kid saying “but they started it!” if I say their email lowered the standards of communication? Because I don’t think anyone on earth would NOT be insulted by that.

        I just don’t see how I could accept a job from someone who insults my worth That would mean my earning potential there was capped, and start off the employment relationship with a terrible dynamic.

        1. Anna*

          You do have some power here. You can let the company know how the recruiter is representing them (as was suggested previously), you can contact the company the recruiter is actually employed by (if it’s third party) and let them know how this recruiter behaved, and you can tell all your friends and coworkers to avoid this recruiter because they’re terrible.

        2. OhBehave*

          It really doesn’t matter that your parents weren’t white collar. You learn the accepted communication standards as you grow and learn. Much the same way someone who grew up with white collar parents have to learn the correct way to communicate because mom and dad may have been the toxic boss!

          What you want to avoid in most interactions is lowering yourself to their level. There is nothing gained by jumping into the pit with insulting or ignorant people. You just become more like them. But, boy is it tempting to answer an insult with another insult! Keeping your cool and answering with respect (more for you than them), is a good thing to learn. This does not mean that you ignore the behavior. As commented above, send the CEO a “thank for considering me and by the way……” note.

          You were so right in not accepting their insulting offer. My guess is that you will find another job with better pay soon.

    7. CM*

      That sucks, it can’t feel good to hear that you are literally not worth as much as they thought!
      I agree that there’s nothing you should have done differently.
      But I might contact the reference and see what they’re saying that dropped your value by 20%.

      1. Naruto*

        My guess is the reference told them what you made before, and they said, “oh, you were only making X, so we no longer want to pay you Y.” If so, you could ask the reference not to disclose that in future reference request calls.

    8. Just a Random Fed*

      I wish you could have seen my face when I read the paragraph about what this recruiter called you. I can’t imagine saying that to another person.

    9. Artemesia*

      Head for Glassdoor, don’t pass go. You did nothing wrong here and this recruiter is a moron.

      1. Mazzy*

        I think the follow up call was rude and moronic. I don’t think telling someone you’re not going to pay them so much, that there is a mismatch between their asking price and skill set, is necessarily a bad thing. It’s worth evaluating if it is true or not.

    10. The Other Liz*

      You can tell her you’ll be telling friends to avoid her like the plague, that’s what you can do better. Sheesh. This is why we can’t have nice things. Sorry they put you through this!

    11. The Rat-Catcher*

      The only thing I might have done differently is to give them another opportunity to meet the original salary after they offered x-20%. But, a company that is going to just tell you that they don’t think you’re worth X salary, and a recruiter who is going to counter your very reasonable negotiations with age-based stereotypes and a guilt trip, would not have been swayed by minor changes in wording.

    12. theletter*

      It sounds to me like you dodged a bullet. While there are good start-ups out there, I’ve had similar experiences with start-ups I’ve worked with. Both start-ups were dysfunctional and would regress to underhanded tactics to get what they wanted, or to just make people feel bad. The HR manager at one was notorious for his tendency to lash out at people in cruel ways, while hiding behind a calm, collected, and kind facade.

      I don’t think that recruiter will go through with those threats – if they do, it will probably only hurt them in the long run. This is the kind of stuff that ends up on Glassdoor and gives companies horrible ratings.

      Stand by your worth, or if you feel you must, ask if you can start at one level and get a raise if you meet certain expectations or goals.

      In any case, you should move on from this. There are better companies out there that are willing to evaluate you on the strength of your interview, rather than your salary history.

      You might want to check with your your previous boss and tactfully ask him/her if something came up in that conversation that made them change their mind about your salary. There may not be a correlation, but you should check to be sure. Thank you former boss for serving as reference regardless of what comes out of that conversation.

      One thing that helped me a lot in my job search is prepping my references. I don’t tell them what to say, I just ask if them if they’re willing, and let them know who will be calling and what to expect. Trading references with my peers has also been a good tactic as it’s usually mutually beneficial.

    13. voluptuousfire*

      You did fine. Your recruiter however, is a piece of work. I’m also not surprised she called you when she told you all that BS. That way there’s no legit record of it. That just shows how shifty and awful she is.

      Also I don’t think anyone in the tech recruitment community (was this a direct recruiter working for the startup or an independent/agency recruiter?) would listen to her, since spreading rumors and made up silliness about people would say a hell of a lot more about her and her professionalism (or lack thereof) than it would ever about you.

      If she’s with an agency, find out who to speak to and tell them your experience. Keep the emails and mention the call. The “They think you’re not worth X” is a massive red flag. Any recruiter (agency or internal) worth their salt would not write such a thing in their responses to you. If it’s a recruiter with the startup itself, please reach out to the CEO and let them know. This is not called for and since the recruiter is the first person the potential employee interacts with, they’re representing the company and such comments make for a dismal candidate experience.

    14. Mazzy*

      Recruiter sounds jerky, but I would have been more clear about where you got the salary # from. It creates a basis of trust. At least for me. Obviously everyone wants to make as much as possible but if someone just plops down a high number in front of me and expects me to do the awkward work of telling them why I don’t want to offer them that much and why it isn’t realistic, well, they put themself into that situation.

      1. Sunflower*

        What do you mean by ‘more clear’ and a ‘basis of trust’? They agreed on salary expectations up front- what more needs to be discussed?

    15. Temperance*

      My husband was “blackballed” by a recruiter a few years ago because the assbag booked an interview for Booth without clearing it first, and we were traveling that day (for a concert). The guy started negging Booth, claiming that he was “lucky” to even get an interview, since he didn’t have the right skills, and if Booth didn’t take the interview, he was making THE BIGGEST MISTAKE OF HIS LIFE. BIGGEST. He would never get a great job like this again.

      Booth declined the interview, contacted the company’s in-house HR person to apologize, and let her know that the recruiter scheduled the interview without his knowledge or consent. (Because my husband can be a vindictive mofo, and will CYA like no one’s business.)

      The recruiter called Booth the afternoon after the interview to see how it went, and that’s when Booth reminded him that he declined that interview. The recruiter started ripping into him about no-showing for an interview, blah blah blah, he’s so unprofessional, bro-rage. Booth then told him that, no, he actually declined with the HR person, because he didnt’ trust the recruiter to listen to him … which is when the recruiter claimed that he’d been blackballed, he’ll nver work in this industry again, HE KNOWS PEOPLE OKAY.

    16. j-nonymous*

      This recruiter is so far outside the bounds of acceptable behavior that I wouldn’t even worry about what you could have done to salvage things/make it better.

      The only thing you may say if a company changes its opening position during negotiations is to ask what led to their change-of-mind.

      But honestly, this sounds like a situation where the start up’s representatives don’t know how to be reasonable humans, much less decent negotiators.

  10. Non as non can be today*

    I wanted to share a positive story for others!

    Long story short—I talked to management about a promotion, he talked to the right people, and I got my promotion/raise at merit time. $10k increase for asking a question and following through.
    Thanks to Alison and team!

    Longer version:
    I’ve been working at my job for a few years now and we’ve had a management shift. They decided they wanted to start hiring people in with more knowledge/experience, etc. Fine—but all the new hires were coming in at a higher level than I with no training, just different degrees. They would still need to be trained on the process and would be doing the same thing as I. So, I decided to talk to my boss. I prepped from Alison’s scripts, went over it with a few people, and then talked to him. I started with a question.

    When I asked him (because he’s new) if he knew that all these people were being hired at a higher level (and pay!) than I, he went “yes.”


    I stayed calm and we had a useful discussion. I pointed out the requirements of my current position, the requirements of the position being hired for, and stated that I am doing all those things. I then asked (essentially), “how do we address this?” He talked to the right people, and I got my promotion/raise at raise time (this was a few months ago—I have the pay in hand now). $10k increase for asking two questions.
    For me I took the chance because I was ready to leave—very low-stakes for me. But now, when it matters more, I know how to handle it and I’ve had some practice.
    Thanks to Alison and the commenters here—I might have sat and fumed much longer, or hoped they would make it right because they knew it was wrong! Apparently not.
    I’ve learned that you are your own best advocate—and you need to advocate!

    1. Anon Guy*

      “I might have sat and fumed much longer, or hoped they would make it right because they knew it was wrong!”

      Good less on you learned about being being your own advocate. Frankly, most people are so busy they rarely think about this kind of stuff and unless someone speaks up, nothing ever changes.

    2. CM*

      “How do we address this?” I love that. Congratulations for standing up for yourself and getting results!

    3. Cheese Sticks and Pretzels*

      Congrats on getting results. I have been fighting with my company to get the gap closed in my salary for almost a year now with zero luck. Sadly my company could care less as they are on a mission to replace all of their U.S. workers. Been job hunting but jobs are pretty scarce in my area.

      1. Gadfly*

        So, my broken record advice here when it sounds like jobs are being lost to international trade: do look into the Trade Act. You might be able to make a case for being pushed out and they do provide support for things like relocation. They were great for my husband, and going through the process it seemed like they were treated kind of like a secret. Link in response.

    4. Artemesia*

      That is great. And also a great example of how having the confidence that low stakes brings can shine through when a tough negotiation is attempted. When deep down a person is ready to walk if they can’t get a reasonable outcome, the other side can feel it. (of course this is always implicit not explicit)

    5. Former Retail Manager*

      Congratulations! Great to hear about such a positive outcome. Enjoy that raise!

  11. ann perkins*

    Having a ton of anxiety about an upcoming interview. I think it’s a great opportunity but I’m not sure they can meet my comp needs and I’d have to move (not that far, a county north, but still). Also, I will need to use PTO for the interview since I have to be on-site for 2+ hours and I hate using PTO for things like that, but I am non-exempt so I don’t have a choice. On the other hand, I am kind of pigeon holed in my current position and quite miserable lately because while my boss clearly values me, I don’t think there is a chance to move up any time soon. Any/all advice is welcome!!

    1. theletter*

      one thing that’s always helped me to remind remind myself that it’s not that I HAVE to interview, it’s that I GET to interview. This is an opportunity, not a chore.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Good luck with your interview! It’s a bummer to use PTO like this but you are making an investment in yourself and your life. Sucks in the short term but if you get to a better place you won’t think about the short term suck very much.

      Have you talked to your boss about moving up? It’s easy to assume, but have you actually spoke to him and given him a fair shot at that question?

    3. MissGirl*

      You’re pre-worrying. You can’t make a decision yet because you don’t have a decision to make. The interview is just about gathering information—you about them and them about you. Could be they don’t even make you an offer. Could be it’s too low to even consider. Or, it could be so high it’s a no-brainer. Do not try to make a decision until you have an offer in hand and can weigh with all the necessary information.

    4. Tempest*

      I had to use a day of my paid leave to interview 250 miles from home. I didn’t get that job but I got a slightly lower position job with that company because they were impressed with that interview, but I just wasn’t quite where I need to be skill wise for that job.

      I start that new job soon and I’m giddy with excitement. And it’s all because I stretched myself to do that interview even though going in I kind of knew that role was too far too fast for me and I didn’t really want to waste the day off driving to an interview for a job I knew I wouldn’t get. But I’ve now got my in with that company to wow them and get that job in a few years when I’m ready. Think positive! Go in thinking you’re there to interview them too, I found it helped me to think it was a mutual business meeting. We both want something out of it after all, I want the right job and they want the right employee.

      I’m like you in my current role. Stuck in a rut, no where to be promoted, with the added bonus of a lazy and sloppy colleague I have to put up with. Your misery will only multiply unless you take positive steps to change it, and going after a new job you want is one of those steps. When I reflect on myself these days I’m so negative compared to how I was when I started here and I don’t want to be that negative person anymore.

      Honestly, I bought Alison’s ebook and it really did help me prepare as well. If you’re well prepared you’ll be less nervous, however you mange your prep. Good luck! :)

  12. A question*

    Hello Ask A Manager fans…. Long story…. I have a scenario that seems to be a gray area between personal and professional goals. I’ve always wanted to open my own business related to a hobby I’ve enjoyed most of my life. I’ve decided it is now or never to try this.

    I wrote a 10 year business plan to gradually move from a one person hobby to a respectable expanding business presence in the field. This hobby is a broad field with many many many sub niches. In my plan I have implemented stages in which I want to tackle the different niche areas and planned it in such a way that if this doesn’t work out as a business I can still enjoy the supplies and necessities as a hobby.

    My initial start up costs are around $50k. Luckily I can spread this out over a few years. It is not necessary to buy everything all at once but most is needed to “play in the big leagues”. With very careful penny pinching long term budgeting I probably won’t need to do any financing.

    Let’s face it, this business not succeeding is a possible outcome to prepare for (let’s hope not!). I just can’t wrap my head around that I would have spent so much money on a hobby; $50k+!. I mean as a hobby I usually only spend at most $2k a year. This hobby has a lot of different methods and standards that are constantly changing. So while $50k is way more than one should spend on this hobby in a lifetime it is possible to never own everything needed or wanted associated with the numerous niches. Personally I am involved with numerous niches as a hobby. Before you ask, Yes, I would probably sell a majority of the supplies and necessities to recoup some of the start up costs; according to my research selling these items should not be a problem.

    Has anyone who has had similar situations dealt with this? How did you handle second guessing your decision? Just thinking about it makes me feel guilty when I think of other financial goals I have. Regardless I plan on giving this business a shot; I’m just looking for opinions… and encouragement.

    1. Grabapple McGee*

      I don’t have any personal experience with turning a hobby into a business, so I can’t really help there. But what I can offer is encouragement.

      It sounds to me like you have really worked this thru in your head and you have a plan. That’s a great start! Most people dream of starting their own business and never even get that far. You’ve done your homework, your research, and you’ve laid out steps to ensure you are successful, as much as you can ensure it.

      $50k IS a lot of money, but it also sounds to me like you have thought of ways to step that so it isn’t such a big hit all at once. And there are ways to recoup what you can if it doesn’t work out. Again… you’re laying out a plan for yourself. Good work.

      Now, I say…. go for it. You say now is the perfect time to give it a shot. It’s now or never. I personally would hate to pass up the opportunity and then wonder “what if…..??” for years and years. Actually, I’ve done that before myself and it isn’t fun! Go for it. Give it your best shot. If it doesn’t work, at least you can say you tried, and you won’t have any regrets.

      Good luck to you!

      1. A question*

        I just read the replies to my post and wasn’t expecting to get such encouraging responses. Grabapple McGee thank you so much for your kind thoughts. This truly truly made my day.

    2. NaoNao*

      I started my own small side business one month ago with much smaller numbers (about a 2k outlay, and I’ve made about 700 in sales so far) and I’ve had *many* second guess moments.
      I structured it in such a way that I could use most of my inventory that didn’t sell (or donate it and feel okay about it) and “upscaled” what used to be a for-fun-only hobby into a full fledged side biz, so that the fun and excitement and fulfillment of a hobby that I liked would still be there.
      One thing I did was look at the market and ensure the demand was there (it is). I also keep telling myself to grow slowly–I don’t need to “blow up” FB, Insta, Pinterest, and my blog all at once. Slowwwww ly.

      1. A question*

        Nao Nao Thank you for sharing your personal experiences with me. I too am excited to “upscale” a hobby supplies to be used in a side business. I am excited for the new business and am working hard at it.

        PS Congratulations on your own business’ success!

    3. Amanda*

      I’m in a sort of similar position and just have to decide when to pull the trigger. You sound pretty prepared and clear-eyed about the prospects, so just that puts you pretty far ahead of other business hobbyists. What makes me feel most confident is having the rest of my financial house in order, including having a lot of money (like 1-2 years of living expenses) saved up in case there’s a worst-case scenario situation.

      1. A question*

        Hi Amanda Thank you for your advice. I enjoyed your comment of saving of living expenses…. that is part of my plan as well as spacing things out over time. As a result of taking things slowly, I don’t expect to “break even” until a few years. This long timeline may be a challenging fact to accept but if I want to build my business slow, balance family needs and professional needs, and have a quality product and customer service then that’s how I will do it. This is a hobby I really enjoy so I don’t mind taking the time to build the business the way I envision.

    4. Dizzy Steinway*

      Okay so I have one piece of advice in particular: stop thinking in absolutes like “it’s now or never” which isn’t true and won’t help you. Start asking questions like “is this the right time” instead.

      1. A question*

        Dizzy Steinway hello and thank you for encouraging me in my post. As for starting my business now or never… I do think its a good time to start. Personally I can arrange my time to work on my business. As for the industry itself, based on my market research its a field that is constantly changing but all the different niches seem to be based on an old fashioned way of doing things. In addition the field has been around for years. In other words I see the field/ niches having their cyclical moments but in general they are on a steady increase.

  13. Nervous Accountant*


    It’s been a long and hectic and miserable week. Mostly because my face had a horrible reaction and I feel disgusting, and when it hit 70/80 degrees, our own office was at least 20 degrees hotter so a hot and miserable few days.

    It doesn’t help that people think they are entitled to talk about their 2017 tax situation just days before the deadline.

    I have so much to say and ask, but really no time.

    Don’t get me wrong, I look at the positives and I always miss some of the positives, but I’m excited to get a few more hours and more importantly sleep back.

    See you all soon!

    1. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      Ugh, I hope your reaction issues improved! Have a good weekend and rest it all out!

    2. sheila_cpa*

      HIGH FIVE!

      I’m in my office though it’s technically closed – I’m the only tax person – and I can’t decide if I’m enjoying the quiet or it’s unnerving me. :)

    3. Pixel*

      Enjoy your much-deserved freedom! It’s incredibly draining. Three more weekends in Canada, and I’m looking forward to post-work drinks come May 1.

    4. Sparkly Librarian*

      It was the last day that my branch offered free tax help… I’m pretty sure people were lined up four hours before we open, and I was not there today! *cheer*

  14. Buffy*

    I posted two weeks ago about being accosted by a seemingly irate coworker demanding I tell him his name and the other co-workers he was standing with.

    Funny update – with some help from the commenters, I realized he was just being a jerk and not worth my time worrying about. I saw him walking with another co-worker, Randy, this week and when I passed them, I said really cheerily, “Hi, Randy!” and ignored irate coworker. He seemed pretty embarrassed, and I feel better!

    1. DrPeteLoomis*

      Good for you! I’m glad he had the good sense to be embarrassed, because what he did was pretty embarrassing and stupid. I just went back and read your post, and I’m kind of wondering if he even knows your name. The way you describe it, he was calling you “this girl”. Honestly, it read to me as a weirdly aggressive way of flirting. Like what high-schoolers do.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        That’s how it seemed to me as well. Like an immature way of saying: Hey I noticed you, did you notice me? But by someone who does not know how to act properly. I love the “Hi Randy”, buffy!

    2. Snazzy Hat*

      Haha, beautiful! In addition to the confirmation that you were ignoring him, I love those moments when someone difficult thinks you’re the difficult one and then witnesses you being super-awesome and easy-going. This jerk is not worth your time or your exhalation, so I give you kudos for showing that off.

  15. Jan Levinson*

    I recently got an internal promotion in which I will be transitioning into in a few weeks. Ever since my supervisor (who will not be managing me once I move positions) was informed of my promotion, she has been SO, SO chilly towards me. It’s truly making work unbearable.

    To give some background, big boss (my supervisor’s boss) came to me three weeks ago to offer me the promotion, as the position was recently vacated. He told me he thought I’d be a great fit, but wanted me to hold off on telling my supervisor about it until he “figured out a way to bring it up to her” because “she depends on [me] heavily.”

    Two weeks ago, my boss finally told my supervisor that I was being promoted and would be working directly for him now, and she immediately started acting cold with me.

    Two days after she was notified of my promotion, she called me into her office and apologized “for acting weird”, and that she was “just absolutely devastated, and couldn’t keep [her] emotions in check.” I told her at the time that while I enjoy my current position, I thought this new position would be a good fit for me, and apologized if she had been caught off guard (I didn’t mention that my boss had specifically told me not to tell her about the promotion right off the bat). However, ever since we had that chat, she’s been SIGNIFICANTLY colder, and honestly downright rude towards me.

    When she walks into the office in the morning and walks by my desk, she doesn’t smile, make eye contact with me, or say a word. When I go into her office to ask her a question, or inform her that she has a call, or to update her on any work, she responds in a sarcastic, monotone voice, and usually gives a one-word answer. In a couple instances, she’s yelled erratically at me over the smallest of things, after hardly even raising her voice at me in my tenure here, before the whole promotion thing happened.

    A month ago, she was extremely friendly towards me, constantly praising my work and telling others how great I was. It’s been a complete 180 turnaround. Her presence around me is like a black cloud every time she walks into the office.

    Yesterday, our entire team had a lunch meeting, in which I was required to cover the phones over the duration of the meeting. I am an hourly employee who normally takes an hour lunch break, and works from 7:30-4:30. I do not, however, have a job that requires me to be at my desk during all of those hours. Since I had worked over my lunch break, I went into my supervisor’s office after the meeting and asked her if I could leave at 3:30 since I had worked over lunch. Without even looking up from her desk, she threw her hands up, slammed them on her desk, and said coldly, “Whatever. Just do whatever you want, I don’t care.” I was so taken aback by her reaction. I am habitually in my desk for 8 hours every day, get my work done quickly and efficiently, and haven’t taken off a single hour all year up to this point. I was shocked by her anger towards me asking to leave an hour early, since I would have already worked 8 hours by 3:30.

    Is this brusque behavior all because I of my promotion, and the fact that I’ll no longer be working for her team? I’m starting to dread coming into work each day, even though I’ll only be under my supervisor for a couple more weeks. Any advice?

    1. Robin B*

      So sorry, that sounds like a terrible situation. Any chance you can move to the new position faster, since you seem to be driving your boss crazy?

      1. Jan Levinson*

        Unfortunately not!

        I have formal training for my new position on the 24th & 25th of April (which, I realize isn’t too far away), but I have to also train my replacement for my current position, who is yet to even be hired. So, I’ll still have to have some pretty considerable interaction with my supervisor for a while.

        Thank you for your sympathies :)

    2. Berry*

      Is it possible to talk to the big boss about this? He seems to have been aware that this might happen, with the way that he had to delicately bring up your departure to your supervisor.

      1. Jan Levinson*

        I actually did briefly mention the working over lunch/asking to leave early/supervisor freaking out thing to him yesterday.

        He said that he is “working on (supervisor), and would like me to continue coming to him if this keeps happening, because her behavior is not okay.”

        I’d like to think that this means he is going to follow up/discuss her harsh behavior towards me with her, but he’s kind of been known to be soft around her (even though he’s HER boss!) She tends to have strong reactions to lots of things, and is easily overcome with emotion.

        She’s also been known to behave inappropriately in the office even before my whole promotion situation, but when it’s been brought to big boss’s attention, he never actually does anything about it.

        1. Aphrodite*

          If you can’t get out from under your current supervisor early I recommend driving her crazy. Smile, be cheerful at all times when talking or emailing her, wish her a good morning and good night, perhaps bring her a coffee if you bring one for yourself (or offer to get her one from the kitchen. Perhaps even a short thank-you note for being your supervisor and how much you learned from her. In short, kill her with kindness and sweetness. She’ll go insane.

        2. starsaphire*

          Just from what I’m reading, I would be willing to bet money that she thought that internal promotion was hers. But I could be painting my own experiences onto that, tbh.

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      This is an emotional issue with your boss and she obviously doesn’t have the ability to manage her feelings in the workplace. Whatever her reasons are, it isn’t about you. I encourage you to continue to perform well at work and hang in there for the next few weeks. Congratulations on your promotion!

      1. Jan Levinson*

        Thank you for the congratulations, as well as the words of encouragement! It is much appreciated!

    4. Stop That Goat*

      That’s a tough one. Personally, I’d just push through since it’s just a few weeks. It would be reasonable to bring it up with the boss though if you feel that you need to.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah, she’s being a huge baby about this. You can’t control her behavior, only how you react to it–nor are you responsible for it.

      What I would do is just be as professional as you can for now. I’d also document everything for the new person and do everything you can right now to make the transition as smooth as possible. And congrats on the promotion. \0/

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        This. Nobody should ever be “absolutely devastated” that their direct report got promoted and transferred. That’s bonkers-ass nonsense.

        What do y’all think about saying something like, “I’d really like to wrap up my last few weeks working with you on good terms, but I honestly feel that you’re being standoffish and outright rude to me. I realize this came as a surprise, but you’re making it very hard to come to work.”

        I personally think she needs a bit of a slap. This is unacceptable, even for a valued employee. People get promoted, transfer, and leave jobs, and if you can’t tolerate that without throwing a tantrum, you have no business being a manager.

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            Probably. I’m too confrontational for my own good.

            Hey, what about killing her with kindness! “Hey boss! Morning! Nice dress!” *sugary-sweet smile*

            1. INeedANap*

              I like this confrontational style, honestly, because in an ideal world this is how I would handle conflict: just an upfront statement of the facts and a reasonable request to be treated respectfully.

              Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with someone who has already proven themselves to be unreasonable, this type of style never works. It becomes extremely risking because there is a very high chance of the person reacting badly. Most people can’t risk jeopardizing their jobs or their professional reputation in conflict with others, whether they are peers or bosses.

              I feel like there must be a middle ground, though – maybe just using the first part of your suggested script. “I’d really like to wrap up my time here working with you on good terms. Is there anything I can do that would help accomplish that?”

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Hmm, that would work with a normal person but I have a feeling it would make things worse in this case. I wonder if it would be better to say something like “It’s obvious you are upset that I’m transferring – but please look at it from my point of view – would you turn down a promotion early in your career just because your boss didn’t want to lose you?” And then maybe thank her for being a good manager and tell her that you learned a lot from her.
          OP shouldn’t have to say anything at all but flattering people often works wonders in changing their attitude.

        2. LKW*

          Agreed – big ol’ backfire. This woman is not acting professionally. Calling her out on her unprofessional behavior is not going to make her grow up.

    6. WellRed*

      I think big boss handled this poorly by “keeping it a secret.” That doesn’t excuse your boss’s behavior which is childish, ridiculous and out of proportion.

    7. animaniactoo*

      Be the utmost in civil, neutral, and professional. Wait it out and then celebrate like a mofo that you’re out.

    8. Blue eagle*

      How about using e-mail to communicate with her for anything that does not require a response from her. Just an idea to minimize face-to-face interaction with her. Congrats on the promotion!

    9. The Other Liz*

      Not sure if you and your current boss used to have enough rapport to get to the chase like this, but here’s what I would do: sit down with her and say, “Boss, I feel like things have changed between us since I was offered the promotion. Can we talk?” And just tell her your perspective: your goals for yourself in your career, what you want to contribute to the organization, and how her (presumably) excellent work as your supervisor has helped you get to this nexus. And then just tell her that this is a time of celebration for you, and maybe even mention if it fits that this is a good sign of a workplace advancing women? And tell her that you’d like your boss to celebrate you, too. That you want her to share in your joy at growing and advancing in your career.

      It sounds like there is some stuff going on that is NOT about you. A good supervisor, ESPECIALLY if you’re a woman and so is she, is there not just to use you, but to build you up, to help you get better, grow, and advance, even if you “fly the nest”. Obviously, you don’t need to lecture her about women supporting other women, but having in my own workplace recently seen two examples of women bosses advocating behind the scenes for promotions for their women supervisees, making sure their hard work and promise would be recognized, rewarded, and result in a promotion…. this is what a good manager does. She doesn’t spite you for flying the coop when you’re ready to grow. She has your back. You deserve better!

    10. Artemesia*

      Be thankful that you are moving on here; this woman is an immature selfish unreasonable person. If your new boss asks about her behavior be open (tactful but make her behavior clear). This is someone who should not be managing people and anything you can do to undermine her position would be a benefit to the organization. Disappointment? Fine. Her initial talk? Okay, that should have cleared the air. Continuing and worsening temper tantrums and overpersonalization of your promotion? Not fine. This is someone who can’t empathize and who doesn’t in fact care about you, your career progress and your feelings. Readjust how you look at her to find her an amusing freakshow until you move on. And if she does anything ugly after you move, let your boss know about it. She should be fired.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes when I have seen this type of reaction it is because the supervisor was not included in the decision to move the person.

      Yes, misplaced anger. It would not be appropriate for her to lash out to her bosses the way she is with you. She’s doing this because SHE thinks she can.

      It could be that the bosses told her she had to work with one less person for a while or forever. It could be that she wanted you to train someone and she was told no. It could be that she was not offered any say in the move including how much longer you would stay with her.

      This is all speculation and it’s just based on what I have seen, ymmv. However, what we do know is this person emotes all over the place and does so frequently. It’s not you. It’s how she deals with problems when she encounters problems. You just happen to be the target of her frustration at the moment.

      You have the backing of your big bosses, so that is excellent. It would probably be helpful to just plan on that each day she will do or say some stupid thing.
      The example you gave regarding leaving because of no break, could have happened because she no longer feels she is your boss. Even thought technically speaking she still is. When these types of things happen, do what is in keeping with what you have done in the past. In other words, be consistent. Given a choice between A and B, you know that B is what has been done in the past, then go with that. Don’t let her get you down or angry or anything. Just make a logical choice and let her stew on her own. It’s not your emotion to wear so just let her wear it.

      1. OhBehave*

        The fact that big boss knew how she would react is telling. I also speculate that she knew about the opening and was approached by bb about you. Perhaps she told him no way but he ignored her?

        OP, you’ve gotten a few good scripts on how to approach her about her behavior. I am in favor of speaking with her ONLY because she brought up the subject initially. She knows she has a problem. She’s ticked off that she is losing you because you are so integral to her success! Now she has to find another YOU ;)
        In the meantime, handle whatever you can via email or msg. Continue excellent performance and take a few Fridays off.

        Oh, and congratulations!

  16. Robin B*

    Have you guys delayed before accepting an offer? Do you ask for time to think about it, talk to your spouse, say you have more interviews before you decide?

    Or is better to accept at offer time (after questions/negotiations) ?

    1. Pup Seal*

      I wouldn’t delay it for too long. If you have more interviews soon (like next week), you can tell Company A that you have an interview with Company B next week and if it’s alright to hear from Company B first before accepting the offer.

      1. Naruto*

        I don’t love this idea. You’re asking them if you can put off deciding about their offer until other companies you’re interviewing with decide whether to make you an offer. It makes you seem like you’re not all that interested!

        I would prefer the approach of asking for some more time, and then in the meantime telling Company B you have an offer and asking if they can rush their timetable.

        1. INeedANap*

          Well, but the company essentially asks you to wait while they put off deciding who to make an offer to while talking to other candidates they’re interviewing. That isn’t necessarily a lack of interest in you as a candidate, it’s just doing due diligence to explore options.

          I know the power dynamic is skewed between job seekers and employers, but is it really that skewed? As long as you use the right language: “I’m really excited about this opportunity, but I arranged an interview with another company last week and I’d like to speak with them before accepting” seems alright to me.

          1. esra (also a Canadian)*

            I think it really is this skewed. I think employers want to believe they’re the only one for you and you are specifically hyped for that job alone. It’s not fair, but I think some people would be put off by that language.

    2. Catbird*

      I have delayed before, but I always give a specific “deadline” when they’ll hear from me. They don’t need to know a reason but I usually say something vague like “I need some time to think it over.”

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      Last time I accepted a new job (about 6 months ago) I received the offer on a Friday, and told my (future) boss that I needed the weekend to think it over. Then I accepted on Monday.

    4. Shadow*

      I make it a point never to accept immediately. I think you’re much more rational if you let the excitement of getting an offer dissapate

    5. Uncivil Engineer*

      I’ve only been on the other side of the conversation and had candidates ask for time to think it over before giving an answer. As long as it’s a short period of time, it’s fine.

    6. New Job happiness*

      I did for the position I have now. The day before Company A called to make the offer I had scheduled an interview at Company B. When they made the offer, I replied that it sounded like a great place to start from and I was very interested, I had already scheduled this other interview and wanted to give company B a fair chance just as I would give Company A if the situation was reversed. the recruiter and I agreed that we continue with negotiations and I would respond by y date (I had asked for several things and she had to get answers to several questions) I interviewed at Company B and pretty quickly I knew Company A was a better choice for me. (I did not say this at the time because either would have been an ok choice and I wanted a chance to talk it over with my husband) At the end of the interview I let Company B know that I had an offer on the table and I need to respond by x day (which was actually the day before I had agreed on with the recruiter but I figured Company B might wait until the last minute, which they did, literally 5 pm the day I told them) The hiring manager told me that he planned to make me an offer that would make my decision hard. Financially the decision was very hard but I learned a ton about the companies. Company A checked references and made an offer swiftly (within 4 days) then was willing to wait because I had another interview scheduled. Company B checked references swiftly (the next day) then took a week to make an offer and wanted me to accept or decline on the spot. So while company B offered 30% more than Company A the other pieces of info really pushed me to Company A which has turned out so well! I know that this timeline is pretty out of wack with some industries (days from interview to offer) so I should probably also clarify that I am in a very small minority in my field so anyone looking for some diversity in their department is going to jump on hiring me and both departments were seriously short staffed and wanted a start date 2 weeks out meaning I would have to give notice (typically 6 weeks in my industry) work up until my last day then magically overnight move my household and start at a new job 600-800 miles away the next morning company A was also much more agreeable to negotiating that.

    7. FlyingFergus*

      I always delay at least 24 hrs, or over the weekend if I’m notified that I got the job on a Friday. I usually say something about how pleased I am and thank you, and that I just want to think it over in case I come up with any questions, and I’ll let them know by [date]. Then I call up everyone I know in case they think of things I haven’t!

      Sometimes I end up turning a job down when I get back to the company, but the extra time lets me think of the best way to phrase the refusal. No one has ever refused to give me that time to decide, and if they did… That would give me more reason to turn it down.

    8. Artemesia*

      I think it looks odd to accept on the spot particularly if you have a spouse. Of course sometimes the process has gone on to the point that you have had those discussions and perhaps even discussed a move or logistics like health care insurance and so forth so that the on the spot acceptance is clearly coming from consideration. e.g. maybe your wife or husband was included in some travel event for the interviews. But in most job situations it is expected that you will take a day or two to evaluate things with your family or even to reflect before agreeing. And sometimes you need to see some details in writing first.

      1. Robin B*

        Thank you Artemesia, that is the biggest reason– to discuss with my spouse. But don’t want to come off as unable to make up my own mind.

    9. The Rat-Catcher*

      I think it depends on how much information you’ve been provided with during the process. If you know you’ll accept, I don’t see the point in waiting. However, literally every time I’ve gotten an offer, there has been some crucial piece of the puzzle that has not been addressed before offer time (either salary, benefits, or work hours/days). So I have not been able to accept offers on the spot, because I need time to consider those factors. And I always tell them just that (hoping they’ll take the hint and provide this information earlier in the process in the future).

    10. S-Mart*

      I’ve learned to never take an offer when it’s presented. I ask for a day or two to think it over. I wouldn’t ask for more than a couple days, and on the other side of the table I don’t like it when a candidate asks for a week or more.

    11. Can't Sit Still*

      I took one night to think it over, since I had another interview that evening. The interviewer was a no-show, so I accepted the offer the next morning. However, I had already had a verbal offer a couple of days before the written offer, so I was pretty close to accepting anyway.

      The written offer did have an expiration date, which I hadn’t seen before.

        1. K8page*

          At my company, I draft the written offers that go out to candidates. Our letter states that the offer is good for 5 days, and I tell the hiring manager to expect the candidate to take that time (although they almost always accept or decline within 2-3 days). I provide a lot of detail about our benefits plans so I assume people will need a couple days to review in detail – compare costs with their current plan or spouse’s/parent’s plan, make sure their doctors are in-network with our providers, understand the value of the 401k match and the PTO policy, etc. I will say, I really appreciate when the candidate acknowledges receipt of the offer and tells me they are taking time to review it, rather than just running out the clock on the 5-day deadline!

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I think it’s okay to consider it, but I wouldn’t put it off more than a week. I did that with Exjob–a company I’d interviewed with offered me a temp position covering someone’s mat leave on Tuesday, and I asked them if I could let them know by Friday one way or the other. I was waiting to hear back from Exjob (I didn’t tell them that). I emailed Exjob and told them I was considering another offer and asked what their timeline would be. They got back to me pretty fast, and I called the other company on Friday as promised and turned them down.

    13. Debbie Downer*

      Gee, I have a bummer of a story. After receiving a job offer for particular position, I asked for a day to think things over. The new job was at a fairly good-sized business with branches throughout my state, but did not have health insurance as a benefit. Instead, they would make a cash payment to contribute to any coverage that I could find on my own, in addition to an hourly wage.

      I asked for a day to think about it so that I could check around and see if I could get insurance on my own. I was able to qualify for insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and called them back the next day, only to be told that they, supposedly, were not going to hire anyone and were going to reorganize their department.

    14. Jules the First*

      I’ve always taken time to think about offers (try to keep it to a few days where possible) – I find it sometimes gives you data you would have wanted, for example the employer who made me an offer on Thursday afternoon, I told them I needed the weekend to think, that I was at a funeral on Monday morning and that I’d give them an answer Monday evening. Eleven missed calls on Monday morning meant that my answer was no…

    15. AliceBD*

      For professional jobs (not positions in college) I’ve always asked for at a night to think it over. Or if I hear on Friday, tell them on Monday. It’s also a good time to ask for more details and/or to get a verbal offer in writing. “Thank you for the offer. I’d like to give you an answer [tomorrow/Monday]. Could you please send me the details in writing, including salary and benefits?”

    16. Dizzy Steinway*

      I delayed accepting my last job. I asked for time to think about it (there’s a longish commute involved and I had another job offer). I also asked for confirmation that I could work from home sometimes.

      It was fine, they said they’d been expecting me to take time to think about it.

    17. Thlayli*

      Any offer I’ve had they’ve told me how long I have to decide – it’s always been between a week or two. Never had someone assume I would decide on the spot – that’s weird. Of course you need to discuss with your spouse etc.

      I’ve asked for extra time to decide on a couple of occasions but I think the longest extra time I asked for was only a week. Never had any employer balk at that.

  17. Wannabe Telecommuter*

    I am considering asking my boss to telecommute from home. I’ve read our organization’s policy on telecommuting and it does allow for employees to work from home 1 to 2 days per week at the discretion of the manager. I want to ask to work from home 2 days per week.

    I have the necessary equipment (computer, high speed internet, phone, etc) and the nature of my job (computer-based) makes telecommuting easy and I am able to access our office network and all my files using either my home desktop computer or the company-issued laptop. The past seven months I’ve been on this job, I’ve successfully telecommuted several times on an ad hoc basis due to health, weather or transportation problems.

    Benefits I can see are:

    – less time and financial expense commuting back and forth to the office (A one-way commute to the office at rush hour costs me $5.00 in public transportation fare and it takes between 45 minutes to one hour to get from my home to the office)

    – more convenient to work at home where I can work uninterrupted without the distractions of our open office format onsite (I can have extended phone conversations, for example, without worrying if I am bothering people with my loud voice on the phone)

    – meetings I can participate in using Skype and other remote meeting software

    – I still plan on being at the office three days per week so I can schedule in-person meetings for those days

    – I have never missed a deadline, never been unable to complete a task or failed to attend an important meeting when telecommuting in the past

    – This eliminates the morning rush for me at least two days per week to get my kindergartener ready for school. Less stress!

    – Less stress and more relaxed environment means I will be a happier and more productive employee.

    – Granting me this benefit also reflects favorably on my employer that I will consider staying with the position for the long-term

    What other reasons can I use to present my case to my boss for telecommuting? What reasons have other telecommuters used to make this case to management?

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Focus more on how it will benefit your boss, or your company overall, than how it will benefit you.

      At my last company, office space and parking were at a premium. Well, more than a premium — there was not enough space for everyone, and the parking situation got so bad they had to rent space in an overflow lot and use a shuttle. They dealt with it by encouraging managers to allow employees to work from home 1 or 2 days a week if the people on their teams were able to work from home. So making the case to free up one more spot in the parking lot was a good reason to work from home.

      If you work with people in other time zones, and the ability to work earlier or later hours would let you be more available for them, mention that. Or if you lead training sessions or other meetings, you can do them from home without interruptions or background noise to distract you and the attendees. Along those lines.

      1. Amber T*

        Yep, the things that just benefit you (cost of commuting for example) I’d avoid entirely, and though your logic for wanting to work at home because open office/not being rushed/etc., are sound, I’d avoid bringing those up too.

        I’d bring it up with the manager by saying “I’d like to work from home on Mondays and Tuesdays and be in the office Wednesday through Friday. Do you see any ramifications from this?”

    2. NW Mossy*

      As someone who’s been on the boss side of these discussions, here’s what I want prospective telecommuters to think about:

      * Do others have regular work-from-home arrangements, or would you be the first/first to do it this way?
      * Would you be OK with 1 day a week at first and then moving up to 2 if it goes well?
      * How collaborative is your workplace/team? Are impromptu work-related discussions/conversations in/around your workspace common? If you’re not physically present, will you miss opportunities to ask questions or contribute ideas?
      * Do you have standing one-on-ones with your boss? How do you normally keep her informed about what you’re doing?
      * Do you have dedicated workspace that’s free from interruptions (like kids or pets) and configured to be good for your productivity? There’s a big practical difference between “laptop with small screen on the couch with the dog barking” and “home office with a locking door and an ergonomically appropriate arrangement.”

      One other thing to think about is that a lot of the reasons you’ve presented here are about you – your ease, your convenience, your savings, your view of the employer. That’s totally valid, but your company wants to know how it benefits them if you’re working from home. Reframing these thoughts to answer “how does this make my company happy?” is crucial. No matter how much your boss likes you personally and wants to make this happen for you, if it’s a neutral/negative for the business, you’re probably not going to get it approved.

      1. Wannabe Telecommuter*

        Thank you Ann Furthermore and NW Mossy! Yes, good advice on thinking along the lines of how telecommuting will benefit my employer.

        To give additional info:

        – I have observed that others (my boss and other employees) work from home pretty regularly when they are not traveling. So there is precedent for the telecommuting.
        – I am OK with 1 day a week to start and moving to 2 if all goes well
        – A few members of our team are remote employees who work out of state or even out of the country. They work remotely pretty much fulltime and in different time zones and are able to make it work for our team
        – We have regular Skype meetings in addition to one on ones, and impromptu discussions face to face and via Skype messaging
        – No pets and while my kindergartener is at school, I will be by myself throughout the day

        1. Lily in NYC*

          What would be some reasons they WOULDN’T want you to telecommute? I would think about those and then try to come up with ideas to rebut them.

        2. edj3*

          You’ll also want to think ahead to when your kindergartener is out of school–what happens then?

    3. Biff*

      I would emphasize the benefit of having you at work faster, without concerns about public transit, as well as having that solid, unbroken focus time. That was what really sold my boss.

    4. Artemesia*

      I would not talk about skyping in for meetings unless that is something commonly done in your workplace. This is beyond annoying most places.

      And I would focus on benefits to the company. It isn’t that you save commute time, but that you can spend that time working and getting things done for the company. How does this make you more productive. How can you guarantee availability for meetings and such.

    5. Neosmom*

      Remember that you are “selling” this to your employer / manager. You need to highlight the benefits they will receive by granting your request.

  18. Pup Seal*

    Not a question, but I found this funny in a sad way.

    On Wednesday, Big Boss was discussing marketing ideas with my supervisor (I was present in the room but not part of the conversation). Big Boss’s big idea: scare tactics. Basically he wants our message to be “You better donate to us or else you’re a bad person.”

    Thank goodness I’m leaving in a few months.

    1. The Other Liz*

      You don’t by chance work at ASPCA with Sarah McLaughlin, do you? ;)

      Yesterday I walked past a PETA ad with a picture of a fish that says “My life depends on you. Will you try vegan?” Which is puzzling to me because how many people feel that sympathetic towards a large-mouth bass? And how pathetic is that ask? “Will you try? Just maybe give it a try?”

      1. Maida Vale*

        There used to be an ad at a bus stop with a picture of a baby chicken (next to an egg) with the slogan “being vegetarian won’t save him”. Ick.

        1. Vegan Atheist Weirdo*

          They’re correct, though the ad as written is ineffective because most people don’t know (or care to know) the details of the egg industry. Then again, I don’t suppose they’d be able to sell an ad that said “Male chicks are tossed alive into grinders to become food for other animals because they are not wanted in an industrial egg facility where the goal is to have hens produce as many unfertilized eggs as quickly as possible.”

          Yes, I happen to be vegan and this is one of the reasons.

    2. Artemesia*

      LOL I used to get young people collecting for various dubious charities who used this tactic. ‘You dn’t support young people then?’ when I declined to donate to some save the children thing. It is the sign of someone with extreme immaturity who can’t distinguish between words and reality i.e. ‘save the children’ is not about saving the children unless we can examine their actual services and not donating doesn’t mean you don’t want to help children. Anyone who tried this with me would get zero and be on my future lists of organizations that get zero.

      1. Pup Seal*

        Oh yes! When I was a child, my mom and grandma gave to charity all the time, and I grew up thinking all charities did great work. Now that I work for a non-profit and can understand a 990, it’s depressing to see the money doesn’t always go to the programs and services to help people.

      2. Dizzy Steinway*

        Someone tried this on me once. Did I not care about the children?

        I tore them a new one. Explained very, very loudly that I was broke due to the fact that I was studying part-time, working part-time and not earning as much as I could due to giving up time out of my work week to volunteer for a children’s charity, and that I would be calling the charity they represented to tell them how offended I was.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          omg. The police called here looking for money for widows. I was recently widowed myself and was totally sympathetic. I did not have money to spare because of medical bills so I declined. “Oh just five dollars?!” and so on. Finally, I said, “I am a widow, too, will you give me money?”

          They never called again. I hate pushiness.

            1. Ultraviolet*

              I think it’s relatively common for police departments to solicit money for causes like this. (No idea whether it’s their own charitable organization, or if they’re calling on behalf of someone else.) I distinctly remember getting a call at my first apartment and seeing “Monroe* County Sheriff Department” on the caller ID and panicking. They just wanted donations for some kid-related cause though.

              *not really but I couldn’t think of a cute fake county name

            2. Trillian*

              There are also scammers claiming to be working for police charities. I had a call looking for support for a race to benefit children, run by a police-supported charity. Asked for a website, since I have a policy of not handing out my credit card or personal information if I don’t initiate the call. He was in the middle of explaining that they weren’t set up to take credit card numbers when, strangely, we were cut off.

              I googled. Legitimate organization. No mention of a fundraising race. And yes, they’re set up to take credit cards.

              It takes a certain kind of brass neck to impersonate a police charity.

              1. Slartibartfast*

                I had a call like that once. “Oh. My husband’s a police officer, I think he’d be very interested in this. Can I get a number and call you back when he gets home?” Funny how they didn’t have a call back number and he suddenly couldn’t get off the phone fast enough.

                Also, nice name :)

          1. Snazzy Hat*

            Every time my alumni organization has called me for donations, I’ve been in financial distress. Most of those times have been while I’m frantically job searching, to boot. The icing on the cake is, my jobs have never depended on my degree.

            So yes, I’m a little blunt when they ask questions about my job history or try to negotiate a smaller donation amount. No, I will not give up two weeks’ worth of groceries to help the largest public university in the state. I need food.

    3. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

      Getting ideas from political fundraising emails is not a good thing. : )

    4. Elizabeth West*

      The CEO of the non-profit where I worked like to scare us by threatening to close the department if we didn’t get more donations of time and $$ in. “We’re not making enough revenue. This could mean your jobs.” The first time he did that, I nearly plotzed.

      And then he laid someone off in an all-company meeting–and no one told her beforehand. “We are going to have to reduce the department by one person. Sybil Trelawney has been a great employee but her job will come to an end on X date.” You should have seen her face. We all nearly plotzed that day. And it was right around then when I really started to hate that job.

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        Laying someone off in an all-company meeting with no notice??? There is no excuse for that. Just, none.

    5. Lily Rowan*

      I once worked for a major human services-related nonprofit whose message to major donors was basically, “If you don’t support our programs, Those People will end up robbing your house to make ends meet!”

      So that made me feel good.

      1. Snazzy Hat*

        I first read this as ” if you don’t support our programs, the people who use our programs will end up robbing your house because we will tell them that you did not contribute and we will inform them of where you live. we might even transport them directly to your house in a company vehicle if they don’t have any other means of getting there.”

  19. Ann Furthermore*

    Open thread, yay!

    So I am wondering about something, and if I should be concerned.

    I started my job about 6 months ago. It’s been going very well, and I’ve been getting fantastic feedback from my boss. I was at my prior company for almost 12 years, and did almost 4 at the company before that. With 1 exception, I’ve always stayed someplace at least 3 years before moving on. I’ve also always worked for larger companies.

    My current employer is a small company – maybe 40-50 people, including an offshore group in India. The US group is pretty small – the office space takes up ¼ of one floor in an office building. When I started in November, there was a guy who had started a month before I did, and then quit a month later (so he lasted 2 months in all), saying that the job “just wasn’t what I thought it would be.” My boss then hired someone for his role, plus someone else for another open position, and those 2 people started on the same day, in February. The other position is basically my counterpart, but for different software (I’m an Oracle nerd; he’s an SAP nerd). Right out of the gate, he was put onto a very challenging project with a difficult client, and also has had to work with another partner firm who is the prime contractor, and they have been a real handful. He’s also had to travel quite a bit in the 2 months he’s been here. We were both told that the job would entail 25% travel at the absolute maximum, but his travel has been well over 75%, and he’s got 4 little kids at home, so it’s been hard on his family. Not surprisingly, he resigned as well – also after 2 months. Another manager hired someone to work in the Business Development group, and she lasted a few weeks before quitting because she had just gotten married, her husband makes quite a bit of money, so she wants to do volunteer work for a cause she is passionate about. And at least one other person has left since I’ve been here. No one seems to have a whole lot of tenure…my boss has been here 3 years, and the founder of the company has been around since its inception in the 90’s. But other than that, no one has been here for more than a year or 2.

    I’m wondering about the fairly high turnover since I’ve been here. I’ve been very happy; it’s been a complete change, I’ve had all kinds of new challenges, and I’m getting to do many things I’ve never done before. Last week I got to work a trade show (not terribly exciting, but it was a new experience) and this morning the VP of Marketing asked if I was interested in doing any public speaking at industry events, because she’s always looking for people to cycle in and out of that. So I’m quite content.

    So here’s my question: in today’s job market, is it more rare than I thought it was to stay somewhere for more than a year or 2 (much less 12 years)? Is it more common than it used to be for people to change jobs, or start/quit jobs, or just generally move around a lot? The vibe of this company is a mixed bag – very small, but they’ve been around since the mid-90’s, so it’s established. But the high turnover and comings and goings of people feels more like a startup culture. I’ve been very fortunate during my career to stay with companies for pretty long stints. Is my situation just way more uncommon than it used to be? Is the high turnover something I should be concerned about, or is working for a small company more unpredictable than working for a large corporation? I’m curious about how much of my career path has been a function of when I graduated from college (early 90’s) and entered the job market.

    1. NoMoreMrFixit*

      While I’m no longer in IT, I found that there is typically a great deal of turnover for specialized and experienced people with in demand skills like Oracle and SAP. Supply and demand – just not enough good people at a high enough level for the number of jobs out there. Staying in a job like yours for extended periods seems to be less common these days.

      But in the case of this job, it sounds like your company isn’t explaining the real working conditions and understating some of the challenges, which will lead to higher turnover. That’s an issue management and HR have to resolve.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That was my impression–especially the travel requirement. I’d be a little ticked too if they told me 25% and it turned out to be 75%. That’s a big leap.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          I think it was just this particular project, with this particular client. I don’t know everything that has gone on. I’m on the other end of the spectrum. In 6 months, the only travel I’ve had to do was a week at a trade show last week, and then 2 consecutive weeks coming up, but I think (really hope) it’s a one-off type thing. There are a lot of customers who need to be trained, but I haven’t led training before. So I am going to observe a session one week, and then lead a session the next. If there are enough of us who can do training, we can split it up so that no one person is having to be on the road all the time.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      It is SO MUCH more common now (and I also graduated in the early 90s). The average tenure at my company is 2 years – and we are quasi-governmental where it’s more likely to see “lifers” who are there for 25+ years. I am the only person in my department who has been here longer than 3 years.

    3. Dawn*

      I think tenure is much more uncommon than it used to be- due to things like societal expectations (it’s not as taboo to change jobs every 2 years as it used to be), more variety in the types of jobs that are available, layoffs, etc.

      The high turnover at your company sounds like it’s maybe a yellow flag- something to keep an eye on. However, if YOU are happy there and you’re enjoying what you do, then that’s the most important part! Seems like perhaps your company just has a hard time filling specific roles and isn’t too good on laying out expectations for new hires (like the “Oops turns out it’s 75% travel” guy).

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Yellow flag — that’s a good way to put it. The only thing that has given me any pause so far is my co-worker who has had to travel so much. That would be a big problem for me. At the trade show last week some people from a company we’ll be working with soon (the contract details are still being worked out) and I believe one of them said that the company who has been such a headache will also be part of that engagement too, which will be mine. I’m going to talk with my boss on Monday and see if the expectation will be for me to be onsite with the client every week, and if we can try and work something out if that’s the case.

        I do have 2 consecutive travel weeks coming up, to lead some training at customer sites. The first week will be me observing the other guy who does training (as I’ve not done it before), and then the next week I’ll be doing it myself, and my boss will be there with me as a backup. When we talked about it yesterday, it sounded like a perfect storm type of deal where a lot of things happened all at once, and now everyone needs to pitch in and help muddle through. Those things happen now and then, and I have no problem with that. I just don’t want it to become a pattern.

      2. copy run start*

        Turnover is definitely a flag but there are so many things that influence a person’s decision to stay that high-turnover may not necessarily be bad and low may not be good!

        There’s one high-turnover position in my company that requires someone with a high-level of skill and they just seem to be having trouble finding another person. From my vantage point, I don’t think it’s a management problem or a company problem (we have many 15 – 20+ year veterans here). I’d say it’s a red flag, but only for that position requiring a special hire.

        I also worked somewhere with numerous long-term folks who were all very miserable but stuck around for the stellar retirement and health benefits. (“I just have to get through 5 more years… argh!”) Looks like a green flag but it turns bright red once you get hired and realize only the late-career folk stick around. Most people earlier in their career didn’t last longer than 1 – 3 years, and that seemed normal to me. You grow a lot when you first enter the workforce. Being under-challenged is miserable.

    4. Sibley*

      It sounds like that company has some issues. If you’ve been told 25% travel, and then it’s actually 75%, that’s not good. however, if you’re happy then stay.

      In terms of people moving around – your track record is unusual for the current environment. It’s partly a function of your generation, and also partly where you worked. The fact that the company has such high turnover is an indication of problems with the company. Sounds like the founder doesn’t know how to move past startup phase into more established territory.

    5. The Rat-Catcher*

      Yes, it’s much more common to job-hop these days, for the reasons others have listed and one more: companies don’t take care of employees like they used to. Internal raises have become a joke a lot of places, and the only way to get what you’re worth is to move around. We have that currently at my government agency – people doing the same job make wildly different salaries, not because of the value they bring, but because of how many different roles they’ve had. Those who’ve jumped around a lot make significantly more than those who have been in the same role for a long time – which is not a great system for rewarding experience.

  20. Catbird*

    I’m a legal assistant at a large law firm– I’m assigned to support two specific attorneys, but I go first to HR for any issues with workflow, vacations, etc.

    Here’s my question:
    I’m going to be moving on to a new job soon and I’m not sure who to give notice to first– do I speak with my attorneys and then HR, or HR first and then my attorneys?

    Any way you slice it, this is going to be unfortunate news for them and I don’t want to add insult to injury by screwing with the order and delivery. Thoughts?

    1. Sunflower*

      I would tell your attorney’s first definitely and let them know you’re going to let HR know once you’re done chatting with them. Congrats!

    2. Amber Rose*

      I’m sorry, the wording of this made me smile a little. “I’m leaving my job, should I consult legal counsel?”

      Anyways, my guess is you’ll have to tell them all eventually anyway so it’s probably not a huge deal which is first. If I were you, I’d tell the attorneys first just so you can control how the news is delivered.

    3. MegaMoose, Esq*

      Attorneys first, I would think. My husband’s shared assistant quit last week and he was kind of cheesed that he didn’t hear it from her first (of course, she also left without giving notice during a really busy time of year while he was out of the office for the day, so there are several other issues there).

      1. Catbird*

        Sounds good, I’ll tell them first. Actually, that brings up another issue– one of my attorneys travels a TON and typically on short notice. I’m going to be giving notice on a specific day (too much detail to write about here, but there’s a solid reason) and I’m a tiny bit worried that she’ll be out that day and I won’t be able to reach her. Ultimately it’s out of my hands but I don’t love the idea of telling her over the phone or even not being able to tell her that day. I’m trying not to get wrapped around the axle over it. :-/

        1. Naruto*

          If she isn’t there, there’s nothing you can do about it. Don’t worry about it, she’ll understand!

          If she isn’t there that day, try calling her. If not, send her an email. Tell you her you would have preferred to tell her in person but wanted to make sure to tell her this yourself so she didn’t hear through the grapevine because you’ve really enjoyed your experience working with her.

        2. MegaMoose, Esq*

          I wouldn’t get too worked up about it necessarily, but I do think that leaving a message or even an email for the attorney who is out-of-pocket would be preferable to not reaching out personally at all.

        3. Naruto*

          Call her or email if she’s out, and tell her you wanted to make sure she heard it from you. She’ll understand.

    4. Emmie*

      Attorneys first. Then ask them to keep it quiet for one business day (or whatever makes sense), so you can personally tell HR. I like that lag time since it gives you an opportunity to have all discussions.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I think that it’s courtesy to give the direct boss(es) the message that you are leaving. It could be that their system is they notify HR, not you.

      The only time I have broken this rule is when I had very strong reason to believe my direct boss would make a hot mess of my resignation. Then, I would tell someone else first as a line of defense. I have done this twice in my life. If it’s just a case of a bad boss, then I don’t worry about it. But if I have a vindictive boss I make sure to loop in other people.

  21. Amber Rose*

    Informal Poll:

    Because I can’t stage drills for death, storm, explosion, etc., usually what happens for training is everyone gathers in the training room where I read procedures for an hour and watch their eyes glaze over. Then they sign a form and wander away, promptly forgetting everything.

    I had an idea. Since I do these things with PowerPoint, I could set it up as a quiz in a Choose Your Own Adventure style. There would be scenarios, options for what to do next, and gruesome endings for wrong choices.

    The catch is, it would take a lot more work to create. So before I start: If you were sitting in training, would you think this was a little more interesting, or too childish/cheesy?

    I’m so tired of training where I just read a manual out loud. I’m also bored. ;_;

    1. Buffy*

      I’d find that more interesting than a powerpoint, and actually much more memorable. But if you work in an office where the staff has a lot on their plates, I can see gamification coming off a little badly.

      1. Spoonie*

        This. If the gamification took the same amount of time as the usual training, I wouldn’t see a problem with it. If it took longer and all I could think about is the number of projects waiting for me…then I might be resentful.

      2. medium of ballpoint*

        Agreed. In a recent training at my company, someone used gamification as a way of holding staff’s attention. Unfortunately it took longer than their normal method so only had time to get through half of the content on the agenda. Staff responded quite poorly and didn’t feel like their time had been respected.

    2. Amber Rose*

      Oh and for clarity, by gruesome end I mean something silly like “you have been eaten by a grue.”

      Not like. Actual gross or disturbing.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        OSHA has really been cracking down lately on workplaces with a lot of grue-related accidents.

    3. Candi*

      I’d go for it. Goofy, but more interesting then presentations, which I personally would have trouble paying attention to anyway. I’m a visual-text learner, and unless there’s a lot of info on slides, I’m forgetting most of it. That includes video.

      So I’m saying, it might not only involve people more, more people will likely retain the info.

      Just don’t forget to include what happens when Wakeen messes up and charges back in for his laptop (that he really should have been backing up properly). :p

    4. sweater weather*

      Our office has a yearly staff meeting where the emergency procedures are reviewed. One year the committee gamified it, and it was so much better than the “now I read to you from the PPT” of previous years.

    5. ZSD*

      This would have gone over well at my last workplace. (My current one doesn’t have any sort of emergency training…)

    6. HannahS*

      I could see this SERIOUSLY backfiring. I’d find comically dire consequences hilarious for hammering home boring procedures regarding filing or customer service or something. But using comically dire consequences to make a point about things that have actual dire consequences isn’t the right tone to take. Like, “ha-ha, if you don’t do XYZ during an explosion, you’ll be smothered by paper shreds!” is highly not funny to people–and there are a lot of us in the world right now–who opened the paper that morning to see that yet another of their communities or towns or houses of worship was being bombed. As a representative of your company, I think you’re better off erring on the side or boring but not insensitive.

      1. Zzz*

        I agree with this. Totally hilarious for boring things, like compliance procedures or email safety, but this would be really upsetting for me for something like office shootings or bomb threats. Yes, it can be boring to go over procedures, but you should probably take a more serious tone.

    7. kbeers0su*

      I used to train student employees at a university on how to respond to all manner of emergencies, and any way to make it more interesting I think will help the info stick. I always ended my presentation with a made-up emergency that was utterly absurd (think zombies or flying monkeys) and they got prizes for best use of their critical thinking skills to address the issue.

      I also agree with Buffy somewhat. While this worked with students they had nothing better to do. But I think if you can keep the training within the same time span as you normally do, then it shouldn’t annoy them. At worst, they should take it as a cheesy attempt to keep them awake and appreciate that.

    8. Lily in NYC*

      How timely! I just came out of a two-hour “conflict of interest” training. It is such a boring subject but the presenter was a charismatic goofball and actually managed to make it fun. I love your idea.

    9. Construction Safety*

      Well you can occupy one hour with a video called “The Man Who Predicted 9/11”.

    10. Isben Takes Tea*

      I agree with others–MUCH more interesting, as long as the participants’ time is the same. It might take more work for you, but if it gets you better results, then I’d say it’s worth it!

    11. ginger ale for all*

      The CDC has something similar to this. Google zombie and CDC. They made disaster preparedness fun with zombies.

    12. Emi.*

      I would like this! To me it would be like CPR training scenarios, where I stood at the front of the room with a binder saying “You’re walking through the mall when you see an elderly gentleman in the food court who appears to be choking. What do you do? … NO, you have to ask for consent before you start the Heimlich!” I’d call it a semi-drill rather than gamification, unless you used really gamey examples.

    13. The Rat-Catcher*

      I’m with a training unit too – do it! It may take a bit for people to warm up, but they will probably enjoy it in the end.

    14. Beansidhe*

      Our Trainer did the unusual. They handed out the pertinent information then shocked us all by showing us some youtube’s of actual workplace disasters and accidents. Then opened up the floor for questions. Not for the faint of heart, but it was the best Emergency Training I’ve been in in years.
      It graphically drove home the point of why the dreaded meeting was necessary and we could then ask more relevant questions about our own policies and what to do in our actual workplace. One of the best was the active shooter scenario in the office. No one fainted and there was absolutely no negative feedback. People opened up with all kinds of questions, instead of looking at their phones and were engaged. Believe it or not people were surprised the time passed as fast as it did. We actually learned a few things, for a change. Hope this helps.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This sounds great. I like how people were asking questions that signals they were actually thinking about what they were supposed to be learning.

    15. Sami*

      Maybe I’m missing something here, but as a public school teacher we have actual drills. They’re obviously simulated so they don’t take too much time. So… why not do an actual drill?

    16. Gaia*

      Our H&S Manager does something similar. We are broken into small groups and given a scenario (with real names from actual employees) and we’re tasked with explaining to the group what steps we need to take to keep safe or address a situation. The other groups then add in or provide feedback. It has been pretty effective and overall well received. We cover everything from power outage, lab disaster and social unrest.

    17. Nic*

      As someone who taught high school, then did corporate training for a video game company with employees whose eyes glazed at unusual speed….this sounds AMAZING.

      Depending on the group size, if you do not have time for everyone to go through every adventure (death, storm, explosion) you could break them off into smaller groups, and then have the groups explain to each other what they learned. “This worked out well. We tried this and ALL HELL broke lose!”

      Another option if you have more time would be to divide the corners of the room into 1, 2, 3, 4 and either read aloud or post on powerpoint (or both, I suppose, so you could leave it up) your first scenario’s first choice, like death.1. Each corner is a course of action. Allow the people in the corners to explain why they chose the action they did, and then give them the consequence. Everyone gets a reset to along the “happy path” after every part, so after death.1 you’d move on to the second decision, death.2. This method takes a bit longer but can spark some really fascinating conversation, and the active movement around the room gets people’s blood moving a bit more.

      Lecture is dying if not dead. Very few people learn that way, and very few people like training that way. If you can engage people’s higher order thinking (which things like role playing and decision making do) they’re more likely to actually remember the information. They had to spend more energy processing it!

    18. Elizabeth*

      We’re currently running a series of tabletop exercises for information security/downtime management events. I’m responsible for writing the scenario that outlines the parameters, then we bring a group of managers & employees in with their policies & procedures and work through how we function. Can you do something similar?

      The Choose Your Own Adventure style seems like it could go off the deep end pretty quickly, especially if the trainees can catch on that they can end the training session early by picking the wrong answers to get the grue or the balrog.

  22. Bye Academia*

    Is anyone else having trouble with new comments not showing up with the blue line after the page gets refreshed? I had to delete all my cookies the other day for another website to work, and ever since then the new comments feature hasn’t worked here. I still have cookies enabled, and restarting my browser (Chrome) does nothing. It doesn’t work with IE either. Is it my computer or the website? Anyone have any other ideas for what I could try? I really miss that feature.

    1. Bye Academia*

      Ugh nevermind it’s randomly started working again even though it hasn’t worked for days and still didn’t two minutes ago when I tested before commenting…

      The magic of asking for help. The problem somehow solves itself.

    2. Pup Seal*

      For some reason I’m having trouble posting my own comment. I can reply to people, but when I submit my own it won’t show up.

  23. Sunflower*

    We just hired and intern and she is requiring a lot more hand holding than our last intern. This is her first job in an office and I feel terrible that I’m getting so frustrated. Her first week was tough as we were absolutely slammed with work/events, the team member who would be training her was out sick and I couldn’t even get all my work done let alone train her.

    My biggest thing is she asks sooo many questions(which I understand) but I want her to try to figure stuff out on her own. I think a really big part of learning how to work in an office is there is no ‘correct’ answer and sometimes it’s more important to try to figure out what you can alone to the best of your ability and take an educated guess rather than ‘ask 1000 questions to make sure you get all the answers right’ that I feel like school pushes. For example, she has very limited Microsoft skills so she will ask me a ton of questions when I want her to ask herself first if she can find the answer somewhere else. This is especially hard since I can’t really remember how I learned anything in Microsoft and so much of what I do is just because I know where the buttons are as opposed to what they do.

    Is there an effective way to say to someone ‘part of the project I gave you is to figure out how to do it in your own?’
    (sorry if I sound like a terrible person, my stress levels are beyond bad and I’m nervous I’m going to lose it on her even though it’s not her fault)

    1. Buffy*

      Can you be somewhat straightforward and say, “I apologize, but I don’t really have the capacity right now to give you the kind of training you’re looking for. I’d like you to see what you can accomplish working more independently, which is good work experience in itself.”?

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I think this is totally reasonable — and a realistic way of coaching someone on how your team handles problem solving in general. You could preface your next assignment with, “I’m sure you will have some questions as you work through this project. Before you come to me with those questions, I’d like you to try your best to resolve the issue yourself. This may mean Googling the answer to your question, utilizing the software help guides, or referencing our internal procederes [here]. If you’ve tried all of these and are still stuck, of course please come to me with your questions, but do let me know what you’ve already done to try to resolve the issue yourself first.”

      I think it may also be a kindness to say something like, “In general, this is how we approach problem solving at Teapots, Inc.”

      1. CM*

        Yes, absolutely. Give her some guidance on HOW she can figure things out. First MS help, then Google, then search internally, if you still can’t find anything try asking a coworker, if you still haven’t figured it out THEN come to me. I think junior people often think of it as, “Sunflower could do this in two seconds, so it’s more efficient if I just ask her.” It would probably be helpful for her to hear that you are expecting her to figure things out on her own even though you understand that it may take her more time, that this is a skill that is important for her to develop in her career, and that it’s disruptive for you to answer so many questions.

        Also, if you are answering all her questions, you might want to change this approach and lead with, “What did you already try?” and then coach her to solve her problems in other ways.

      2. Sunflower*

        Thank you! I will def. preface the next thing I send her with something like this.

        My other struggle is that I’m not actually her boss. My/her boss is in a different location office, which I’m sure is strange for her to get used to, while I sit right next to her. Lately my boss has been giving me the work to assign downward to our assistant and intern so I’m kind of her ‘supervisor’ in a way. I know my boss would be behind me 100% in however I worked with this intern but it’s still a little strange getting used to telling people how to do things!

    3. MegaMoose, Esq*

      I’m a big fan of asking questions personally, so I think it would be tough if you cut that off entirely, but maybe you can formalize the process a bit? So instead of her asking questions as she goes, set up a time to check in at the end of the day/a couple times a week/whatever’s appropriate, and give her some suggestions of other resources to check first? Or ask that she submit all questions via email once a day and ask her to include a record of what she’s tried to figure it out herself?

    4. Candi*

      I know the feeling. A lot of what I know in MS is very careful “what happens if I do this?”

      Is there any documentation she can review for some of the stuff?

      1. Sunflower*

        LOL an example of me using MS:
        ‘Hmm I wonder if this button will do what I’m trying to do’
        ‘Nope, hit the undo button’
        Repeat 100x.

        We have a training center and there’s a lot there but I’m getting the impression she thinks she needs to just go through them as opposed to learn them and how to apply them.

    5. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      Honestly? “Part of the project I gave you is to figure out how to do it on your own,” is entirely acceptable. Figuring out how to make it happen is a big part of any job, and she’s not doing herself any favors demanding a handrail. Tell her to Google her MS Office questions, because there’s absolutely no reason for her to pester you about that.

      For the more substantive questions, I’d make it clear that she needs to come to you with a few things she’s already tried that didn’t work out, and a specific data/info gap she needs filled to move forward. Questions should be the last thing she tries, not the first, and they should be detailed and specific, not general.

    6. Blue eagle*

      I am not very proficient at Microsoft either, but when I have a question about Microsoft I ask the question using a search engine and inevitably one of the links that pops up will give a step by step answer to my question (as opposed to the help embedded in Microsoft which is often neither user-friendly nor helpful).

      So two things: 1) suggest that if she comes to you with a question that she has a suggested solution first (for those questions where that applies) and 2) for the Microsoft questions – use a search engine to try and find the answer first.

    7. Catbird*

      I don’t have any brilliant ideas that others haven’t suggested already, but I can commiserate. My firm recently hired someone to help me with my beyond-capacity workload and she is totally incompetent. My days went from pretty hectic to… holy sh*t, I have to get all my work done and also show you how to do basic word processing?

      Honestly I’m surprised that a young person isn’t more computer savvy. It sounds almost like she’s trying to suck up to you by being triple-sure of everything she does for the first time. If that could possibly be the case, ask her to take more initiative, google video tutorials, search the help function on Word, things like that. And don’t give her anything too crucial that would be a major problem if she screwed up.

    8. Bloo*

      Retrain her. Her training was disjointed and inadequate so she probably feels like she has no clue what’s going on. It sounds to me like she lacks confidence. Give some positive feedback! I still reminder a time that my manager assigned me a really tough case and told me, “I’m confident you can figure this out.”

    9. SansaStark*

      I think this is a great time for her to learn some basic office survival skills – a HUGE one of which is to learn which questions need to be answered asap so as to not waste time and which questions would be better to troubleshoot first. I would have really appreciated a manager early in my career explaining to me that this is going to be true of almost every job and to learn to come up with potential solutions before asking a question.

    10. Student*

      When she asks for help on something you’d rather she figure out on her own, start with, “What did you try?” Then listen to her response. If comes to you as soon as she has a question and never tries anything on her own, tell her that you need her to be more independent because your time is tight, so you expect her to try looking up answers herself for at least X amount of time before she asks you.

      Ask if she has ideas about how else she could figure out the thing she’s stuck on. Offer her some resources – this could be other similar office documents to mimic, pointing out the help function in many software tools, a junior staffer who can teach her, a workshop on the software, a book on the software, or having someone teach her how to use a search engine like Google to find the info she needs.

      Then, remind her that she can come to you after she’s tried on her own for a bit so she doesn’t get stuck on something truly frustrating, or offer to let her save up questions and go through some training with you at a set time on a set day (or days).

    11. Melody Pond*

      I know it’s unlikely OP will see this, so late in the game, but since I SO completely identify with the perspective of the intern you’re describing, I wanted to chime in.

      I am *definitely* of the “ask 1000 questions on the front end to make sure you get all the answers right” persuasion. For me, this is both because I’m highly motivated by pleasing people and because I have super high standards for myself and my performance. Also, the risk of disappointing my superiors with the results of my work, when I didn’t have clear enough guidelines (for my comfort) to begin with, is like… my worst nightmare in the work world.

      So, let’s say it was me you were working with. From how you are describing yourself and what you want out of your intern, and knowing how I work (and believing that I may be very similar to the intern you’re working with), here’s something that I would want to hear, coming from you:

      “What I would like is for you to try to figure out the majority of your questions on your own. I do NOT expect your work product to be perfect – in fact, it’s okay if it feels far from perfect to you. What I want, is for it to be easy for me to review your work and follow your thought process, regardless of whether it’s technically correct. So I’d like you to focus on documenting the areas where you had the most trouble. Leave brief notes explaining your thought process, so that I can follow what you did. Also, because you’re learning, it’s okay if this takes you a much longer time than it would take me – I’m okay with X hours spent on this. Communicate with me if it starts to go over that amount of time. If you can do all of this, that would be my idea of an excellent work product and effort from you, regardless of whether the actual technical pieces of your work are correct. To help you learn, I will try to communicate with you after I’ve reviewed, to show you the things I changed/the things I want changed.”

      This clear communication of expectations, in explicit (some might say “excessive”) detail, is what I would need, to be able to do what you seem to be saying you want your intern to do. Basically, I need explicit permission to do what feels like failure to me: creating and submitting work that I don’t have complete faith in.

      Perhaps something like this would help your new intern?

  24. KR*

    To anyone who’s seen my posts over the past month about my background check that keeps getting delayed, thus delaying me starting my job….
    I’ve now had to redo my pre-employment drug test and it’s been over a month at this point since I was supposed to start my job. It’s infuriating but the holdup is with the state I used to work in, so apparently nothing can be done.
    My life is just waiting anxiously until the next expected clearance date, getting less and less optimistic with every delay. I’ve tried looking for other jobs but there isn’t a lot out there and it was hard enough getting this one. Most reputable jobs will background check so I’m stuck wondering if the same thing will happen.
    Thanks for everyone who’s reassured me along the way. Maybe I’ll get that phone call today!

    1. The Rat-Catcher*

      Hang in there, KR! Try not to think about it for a bit (although when it’s work-related stuff, I can never quite manage to take my mind off it, so this is more of a “do as I say, not as I do” instance).

      1. KR*

        Thank you so much. That’s been my husband’s advice as well. I need to try to focus on other things!

    2. A. D. Kay*

      That must be so frustrating! Sending you good vibes. It’s bad enough having to do a drug screen ONCE, let alone repeat it.

      1. KR*

        Thank you! It’s so frustrating, you’re right. It’s great to have you all here with me while I’m waiting though.

        1. Life is Good*

          My current employer did a background check on me and it took a good month. The company doing the check said that since I lived and worked in CA (don’t live there now) it takes much longer. It was excruciating, for sure. I finally got the green light and am at the best company I have ever worked for! I’m thinking good thoughts for you, KR. Hang in there!

  25. Christy*

    I applied for a promotion at work! Federal government, so my resume is five pages long and the cover letter will probably never be read. The resume might not even be read for the first round of screening! I’m just excited I’ve applied for it. A few of my peers were applying, so it’s definitely going to not be everyone. It’s tough! I want us all to do well. I could sleep for a week after all that stress.

    1. Lefty*

      Best of luck (from a fellow Fed)! I hope the process is not as slow as it’s been in the past and that the currently lifted freeze does not re-appear

      1. Christy*

        I actually hope it takes two months and ten days for them to get started! I don’t have time in grade until then, but my managers told me to apply anyway. That part adds its own stress.

        1. Lefty*

          Ahh, I know that stress… well maybe they’ll take time catching up on the ones that were frozen and you’ll get listed at two months and 11 days from now!

  26. Mimmy*

    At the end of last week’s Open Thread, I mentioned an issue with my first paycheck – thanks to Alison and fposte for responding. A couple others did as well but I forget their names.

    To recap: My first paycheck reflected an hourly rate that was significantly lower than what was listed in my employment offer letter. The issue has been brought to the attention of HR. I will be getting a supplemental check; the hope is that the issue is resolved going forward. Even my supervisor agreed that the amount I was paid is far lower than she would’ve expected, so she has my back on that.

    The job itself is going … okay. It has its glitches and really wish I was given training on instructing people with disabilities before actually DOING it. But it is what it is.

    1. Candi*

      It absolutely bites they aren’t teaching you. I searched around and there are a few sites that might help. I searched “instructional materials teaching people with disabilities”.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      Oh my goodness, trying to wing that would be so nerve-wracking! There are so many things that don’t even occur to you. A woman who is on the PTO with me at my daughter’s school does some kind software development, and she was telling us about training she took to develop web-based learning materials for blind people.

      You know how sometimes you get an email with a link in it that says ‘here,’ as part of a sentence that says, “Click here for more information?” She told us that she’d learned to make those links more descriptive, because blind people use voice software to read emails. When they get an email with one of those links, the software just reads what it sees (‘here’) instead of what is contained in the link, which is very confusing.

      That makes perfect sense, but I never would have realized that on my own.

    3. Mimmy*

      Ann Furthermore and Candi – To be fair, they probably think I can just learn as I go because all I’m doing at this point is helping blind & visually impaired adults learn to type the “correct” way – many people use a “hunt and peck” method, but without much usable vision, it’s important to learn where the keys are by the “touch type” method. We also teach them about the various function and navigation keys because they are often used as commands in screen-readers and other assistive technology programs.

      It is a little boring and the typing program we use is very glitchy (we’re working on getting an updated edition), and some students have other disabilities, hence why I feel a bit out of my depth. Luckily the primary instructor has been helpful in telling me about some of the strategies she’s tried. I don’t know if they intend to keep me in this instructional area long-term or if I’ll eventually help out in other areas – I would like the exposure so that I can use that knowledge down the road. Plus, it would give me some variety!

      1. MoodyMoody*

        The touch system was originally developed for blind typists. When people realized that blind 10-finger touch typists could type more quickly than 2-finger seeing typists, all typists were taught the touch method. The QWERTY keyboard was developed because typists on typewriters were jamming keys together. Other keyboard arrangements would be faster with keyboards, but change is hard and slow.

          1. Nic*

            Seconding Dvorak. There are specific versions based on your language and handedness. They are specifically designed to increase speed and accuracy while decreasing physical strain.

    4. Not So NewReader*


      Let them teach you how to teach them.
      It gets easier. The reason is because you want to do a good job. So you will pick up speed on this learning curve.

      I think part of the reason why instructions are scarce is because everyone has their own individual situation that they bring to the table. So it’s up to the teacher to assess each person’s needs separately and address the needs.

      If you are teaching several people at the same time, encourage them to give each other ideas. This will take a small bit off of you and it will help them to be helping each other. (The old saying, “If you really want to learn something, go and teach someone that thing you want to learn.”)

      1. Mimmy*

        Let them teach you how to teach them.

        I like that, and I do try to get feedback. One woman who picked up on my nervousness gave me some good tips.

        It’s not a traditional classroom setting; instruction is typically 1- or 2-to-1, and each student goes through the lessons at his or her own pace. If one student is further along or doesn’t need much help, I may let them work while I work with a student who’s just starting or needs more help. I’ve been in a 2-to-1 situation already, and it’s challenging, especially when both of them are yapping away at the same time, and I only have 50 minutes to work with them!

        Hmm. As I’m writing my thoughts in this thread, I’m beginning to realize that my job is more than just monitoring students as they work on boring typing lessons. I’m helping them move forward while building my own confidence. No I do not plan to be a typing instructor forever, but hopefully this helps ME go further than I ever imagined.

        I love the AAM commentariat! :)

  27. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I hate, hate, hate colds! They’re really tough on me since I also have asthma. But, no PTO so I have to be at work. Even though I can hardly swallow (really sore throat) or walk 10 feet without getting out of breath!

    I apologize in advance, coworkers :(

    1. Robin B*

      Do you use zinc lozenges at the start of the cold? And Zicam nasal swabs? They really, really help me because I get long colds. Also, up your intake of vitamins C & D– all the time if possible. D-3 acts like an anti-viral. Feel better!

      1. Anon Guy*

        Be VERY careful with Zicam. Some people (not many) have permanently lost their sense of smell from using it!

        1. Robin B*

          “Be VERY careful with Zicam. Some people (not many) have permanently lost their sense of smell from using it!”

          That was true on their original formula, which you can’t buy anymore. Hearing that was scary, but I’ve had no problems with the new formula.

    2. Amber Rose*

      Tea with honey and cinnamon. The cinnamon scrubs the yuck out of your throat and the honey soothes.

      If you’re home, a teaspoon of whiskey added is gross but effective.

      1. Artemesia*

        And a neti pot using distilled water. It makes such a difference for me with colds and allergies. I use it in the morning or morning and evening with a bad cold and then use the flonase spray. Really helps.

        1. Robin B*

          Just be really careful to keep the pot clean, I have a friend who didn’t clean it well enough and gave himself a huge, nasty infection.

    3. Drax*

      If you can, wear a mask. You can get them at the drug store. I do this myself (if I MUST come in) and I also have asthma that makes colds and flu dangerous for me. I appreciate it when others wear masks and find it very considerate. Also neti pots are a bit sketchy, if you want to go that route get one of the disposable squeeze bottles, premixed salt, and use ONLY DISTILLED WATER in it (again, easy to find in chain drug stores). Feel better!

    4. Anon for this one*

      I recently had a chest infection but felt I had no choice but to work (fairly new to job and more than x instances of sickness in 12 months gets a meeting with a manager). I’ve had two instances of sickness since I started already and couldn’t risk any more even though my job is not the best for being ill at. My closest coworker made a comment about how I shouldn’t be there as I was coughing, and yet the reason I had it was that he apparently hasn’t learnt to cover his mouth when he coughs and he’d also had a chest infection. I was not impressed!
      Chocolate is fantastic for sore throats, get a little square and suck it until it melts :) Hope you feel better soon

  28. MegaMoose, Esq*

    It’s been an interesting week in networking land. I’ve got two things I’d love to get some feedback on, so I’ll post them separately. The first has to do with networking goals. Yesterday I met with an individual who works out of the same shared office as a former classmate of mine. In my email, I mentioned the connection and said that I was “interested in pursuing a career in __ law,” and asked to “talk about your work in the field.”

    When I showed up, however, we seemed to be on very different pages. I am still fairly early in this process and am trying to get a sense of what kind of jobs are available, the differences between different sizes of firms, what employers are looking for, and so on, which I thought had been communicated by my email. The person I met with, however, seemed to think I wanted advice on starting my own practice. He said that he thought this was an “informational interview” and seemed unclear what I wanted when I tried to explain.

    Going forward, I’d really like to avoid this confusion and be more clear about what I want from people I meet with, but I’m not sure I know what went sideways here. Reading through all of the networking posts here (again), I get that there’s networking you do as a part of your career, and networking you do when you’re actively trying to find work. There’s also an old post saying that informational interviews aren’t a good idea. I feel like informational interviews might be a thing in the legal profession where there’re not elsewhere, but I’m really unsure on what makes something an informational interview versus a looking for job meeting.

    I get not wasting people’s time asking questions I could learn online and I don’t think that’s what I’m doing, but maybe I am? Do I really need to make up my mind on my specific career goals before meeting with people in the field? I am looking for work, but I’m also looking for information to help focus that search. Should I not be doing this via meeting with practitioners in the area I’m interested in? Where’s the line between “networking” and “informational interviewing”? And for the lawyers around here in particular, are there some industry-specific nuances I’m missing?

    1. Another Lawyer*

      I think solos are generally very solo-focused, and unless they are very experience (e.g. 15+ years in a firm/gov’t setting and then opening their own firm), they don’t usually have the best vantage point of the stuff you’re looking for. For that stuff, I’d reach out to the bar association committee on the subject area because they are more likely to have diversity re: firm sizes, etc.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        That is a good point. I don’t really have experience with solo attorneys specifically – I’ve only been out of law school a few years and really only know one person who started his own shop (which he folded to join a firm a couple of years later), not counting the couple of people I’ve done doc review with who do some defense work on the side. This person was very enthusiastic about being a solo but it isn’t something I’d really thought about as an option before. It doesn’t necessarily seem impossible, it’s just not something I’d seen myself doing. I’ve got another post about that I’m typing up now, actually.

        1. Another Lawyer*

          I have some friends who are solos and they LOVE it. I can’t imagine doing it because for the most part the type of work solos handle would drive me up a wall – divorces, crim, residential real estate, wills, etc.

          If you do go that route, check to see if your bar association has a solo ethics/IOLTA primer/CLE. That stuff is SUPER important when you don’t have firm oversight/counsel and isn’t taught in depth in school.

          1. MegaMoose, Esq*

            That’s a really good idea – I forgot that there would be CLEs on that stuff. I understand that people figure out how to do this stuff all the time, but there seem like so many potential pitfalls!

    2. Naruto*

      I wonder if maybe you *did* want advice on starting your own practice. You want to know about all the different options, but a career solo is going to have the best perspective on that, and people who have worked at multiple lawyer firms are going to have a much better perspective on the kinds of jobs, roles, and firm environments that may be available.

      I don’t think anyone did anything wrong here? Just, maybe, you’re going to have to collect information from multiple sources, and while you can and should certainly explain where you’re coming from, accept that some sources will have information about some things and not others?

      1. Naruto*

        I also wonder if maybe when you said “I’m interested in jobs, not starting my own practice,” if he somehow took that as “can I get a job working for you?” and got confused because he isn’t interested in hiring?

        1. MegaMoose, Esq*

          This may have been part of it. I know that one thing I had definitely not realized was that at least some solos really don’t have any interest in expanding – I know a couple of people who work for very small firms (2-4 attorneys) and had sort of assumed that it’s common for successful solo attorneys to eventually want to hire an associate or form a partnership. This was definitely not the case for this person, and I could certainly understand that perspective.

    3. CM*

      From the discussion you gave above, it seems clear to me what you’re asking for. But in your initial email, did you actually say what you said in your second paragraph above about wanting to get a sense of what job opportunities are available, etc.? If not, I think it would be good to include this.

      You should also give some context about where you are in your career and what your goals are, like, “I’m just starting out in my career and would like to get an idea of what career options are in my practice area” or “I’m experienced in niche X but am interested in moving into niche Y” or whatever your situation is. My advice would be very different for each of those situations. If you don’t have specific career goals, that’s fine, but be upfront about that. You could say something like, “I’m open to a wide variety of legal positions and right now I am looking to learn more about the possibilities” or “The opportunities I’m familiar with are at small boutique firms. I’d like to get your opinions on the firms in this area, and I also want to ask you about other types of opportunities that I might not be aware of.”

      To me an “informational interview” is an opportunity to talk to somebody about their career path and practice area without interviewing for a job, while “networking” is just meeting people who might have shared professional interests. I don’t think you need to get hung up on what you call it, as long as you make it clear what you want from the person.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        I think it might be useful for me to be more specific – I didn’t want to get into my whole life story in the email, but I could see that it could help shape the conversation if I do spell out more specifically what information I’m looking for and why. I really like your specific examples though, thank you!

        I think I’m getting hung up on language because it seems like some people are very against informational interviews (or whatever their idea of what an informational interview generally entails) and I’m not entirely sure why. I don’t want to commit any faux pas if I can possibly avoid them.

        1. Naruto*

          In my experience, lawyers are generally very happy to talk and offer you advice, make introductions, etc., if they think that’s what you’re looking for. If they think you’re just trying to get them to offer you a job, though, and if they’re not currently hiring, I think they’re less likely to want to chat (probably because it’s a waste of everyone’s time).

          So I don’t know if “informational interview” is the right language or not, but I would at least try to make it clear what you’re looking for.

        2. anonstronaut, esq*

          I’m not sure what I would expect if someone said they wanted an “informational interview” with me, since I don’t handle hiring. But I’ve had people ask if they could discuss specifics of my area of practice, which I’m always happy to discuss, or about applying to law schools, or about being a government attorney in general. So I would think some level of specificity in your request would be helpful in knowing how to mentally prepare.

    4. Jennifer Walters*

      As another lawyer, I definitely think our networking is more akin to informational interviews than other professions. When I’m networking, I always reach out with a little background about myself to put in context why i want to speak with them. I agree with Another Lawyer that solos generally always think that you want to talk about going solo, which is odd. So, while I think the confusion may have been more on this solos end, maybe something like “Hi, I’m currently doing blah blah blah, but I’m looking to transition into _____ law. I was hoping to speak to you about your experience in ______ law, etc.” Good luck! I loathe networking, so more power to you.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        Thanks – I’ve gotten the impression that lawyer networking is something of a distinct animal – maybe because of the importance/frequency of referrals in private practice? I have been getting really depressed about the networking push today – it’s seriously not the way I want to be spending my time, and yet I feel like I’ve wasted so much time avoiding it already and screwed up my work history as a result. People keep telling me that the best way to get jobs is to network, but I still can’t figure out how that’s supposed to work.

        1. Jennifer Walters*

          I think the referral thing has something to do about it. If it helps, I’m fresh out of law school (May 2016) and moved across the country to where the only person I knew was my significant other. I networked SO much and now the job I have is one I got by simply applying for Indeed position. I think the above CLE recommendation is a good one. I went to several one-hour CLE lunches to meet people in the field I wanted, but it got expensive.

          1. MegaMoose, Esq*

            Hah, I would love it if one of those Indeed applications panned out. I’m about to hit five years out of law school myself, but have lost a lot of time avoiding networking while applying and interviewing for more government staff-attorney/drafting/policy jobs than I can count. I did spend two of those years clerking, but the last couple of years have been a pretty depressing wash.

    5. Gyrfalcon*

      You said this person is a solo practitioner. It sounds like he expected you to be asking about his specific area: solo practice. I think that’s reasonable. For future interviews, you might want to frame your contact letter (or however you set these things up) as “I’m exploring several different areas of law. I’d like to talk with you about (your specialty)/(working at a firm your size)/(some other specific kind of thing they would know about). And if you have insights or suggestions on other (areas of law)/(firm sizes)/(other general topic), I’d love to talk with you about that too.”

  29. Giles*

    My favorite coworker – and honestly, one of only two friends I have at work – is having her last day today. She found out yesterday a company she loved wanted to offer her a job (she wasn’t looking, but they had her resume from a few years ago and their last person left unexpectedly.) The new place wanted her immediately so she put in a single day’s notice. There’s literally no one else in this part of the office but me and my boss, so it looks like the rest of my days are going to be spent in silence at my desk. It’s a huge downer, and I’m going to miss her like crazy. Ugh. :/

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      I feel your pain…my “work bestie” left a couple of years ago…hasn’t been the same since. I have other friends in the office, but not as close with anyone as I was with her. If your workplace has enough folks, maybe try to branch out and strike up some friendships with some folks in other departments or divisions.

    2. Sibley*

      It sucks. All the people I clicked with at work have left, and then they moved people around so I report to someone else. I’m really struggling, plus have somehow started getting more politics in my inbox. I’m not management, I don’t want to deal with that crap.

      The closest work buddies I have are in the cousin department, which helps, but it’s not the same. I’d actually consider looking around, but am buying a house so want to let the dust settle from that before I do anything.

  30. Lady Julian*

    Do you contact potential employers to confirm receipt of materials, or do you just cross your fingers & hope for the best?

    I submitted a resume & letter of interest for a grad school assistantship on Wednesday, and whereas most people respond by saying they’ve received my materials, I haven’t heard back from this person. Should I reach out or no?

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      As someone who gets these, please just give them a week at least. I know it feels like ‘forever’ to you, but to them it has been less then three days. I try to reply to everyone I get, but sometimes one slips through the cracks.

      I would be annoyed if someone emailed me about it when it had been less then a week.

      I know you are eager and I know you want to get some peace of mind, but I would let this go until at least next Wednesday. Then I might send a polite email saying something like, “Sorry to bother you, but I wanted to confirm receipt of my application materials which I submitted on (). Thank you so much.”

      While I try to confirm receipt with everyone, I know some of my colleagues are not as good at following up. Sad, but true.

    2. katamia*

      I don’t unless something happened while I was submitting that made me think there was a problem, like if their website says that you’ll get an autoreply after emailing stuff in and I didn’t get one. I’ve never hired anyone, but I really hate the whole “Just want to confirm this thing that’s totally fine 99% of the time” thing some people do and find it really annoying, so if the hiring manager is anything like me, you might be hurting your chances.

  31. Anon for this*

    We are hiring for a position. We interviewed a candidate who I thought was great and so did everyone except our manager. She was a really hard worker who wanted to learn. She also had a very compelling reason for being interested in the job. Our manager decided that she was not ‘polished’ or ‘professional’ enough and didn’t know if higher ups would like her. She was dressed really well, presented herself well, and all her correspondence was great. I am certain from knowing my manager that “polished” is code for wanting an upper middle class white girl. The candidate was a dark skinned black girl with ethnic hair who had bad teeth. I don’t really want to get into a debate with AAM community about what other explanation there could have been, I know from my interview when I started that my manager hires people she can relate to on a personal level and has a lot in common with. This might not have been deliberate, but it is hugely problematic to me. Also, the girl they went with fit the mold, white, skinny, pretty, and bubbly. Is there anything I can do to help the girl they rejected? I will speak with HR and say she was great, and also maybe recommend some other positions. If I had any interview help for her I would give it, but I honestly thought she didn’t need it. Does anyone who has more experience (basically I fit the mold they want too, but recognize the mold is a huge issue) with this have any suggestions?

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      But I thought racism wasn’t a problem anymore in America?

      Sarcasm aside, this boils my friggin’ blood, and your manager should be flipping burgers for the rest of his life. I have no idea what you can even do.

      1. Anon for this*

        I know. I am incredibly upset. We all tried to talk to her about it and advocate for the girl. The reason she used to justify to HR for hiring the one girl over the other was a generic software program that the hired girl has that the other didn’t, it is also very easy to learn. Nothing is in writing, and she has her little cover story.

        1. Shadow*

          If you are up for it you can:

          1. go to HR with “a concern that the company may be in danger of a discrimination complaint” keeping in mind that your complaint legally protects you from retaliation if it happens
          2. Send an anonymous email to the girl who got denied and let her know if she decides to pursue it with EEoc you’ll have her back.

    2. MegaMoose, Esq*

      It’s not just you – this is hugely problematic. Is there any chance HR could talk to your manager about it?

    3. Shadow*

      Yes. Ask specifically what made her think she was unpolished and check off for her all of the polished criteria you used

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          Eh, manager will just BS something to recon in a justification. That’s how these people operate. “I’m color-blind! I have lots of black friends. I judge people by their character. But she’s just not polished and professional, and she wasn’t an expert at [generic program anybody can learn in a week]. He just wouldn’t be a good cultural fit. That guy deserved to get shot by the police, he talked back and clearly he was no angel. That doctor should have followed orders and gotten off the plane. “

    4. The Other Liz*

      Speak to HR and flag for them that you have reason to believe racial discrimination is going on. And that a more democratic process in choosing a hire should be going on.
      HR should be providing your organization with guidance and standards on diversity hiring practices, so that “polished” can’t be a byword for “doesn’t look like me”. This sort of thing keeps organizations and companies homogeneous, screening out people of color, or women, or disabled people, or queer or non-gender conforming people for reasons that have nothing to do with how well they’d perform the job.
      Speaking of which, hiring people you can personally relate to is BS. You’re not hiring your new best friend. You’re hiring someone who will be an asset to your team – and part of that is bringing something new to the team, like a different background, communication style, or culture. This is something that you should flag for HR so they can talk to this manager so they don’t make crappy hires in the future.

      1. Mazzy*

        Yeah…..I do think some of the “racism” getting called out today isn’t racism, but hiring is one area I still see traces of it. At my company we tend to hire referrals and since the management is from Europe it usually results in referrals to other white people. I am very against hiring just based to fill a race quota but can we at least interview more diverse people? Not just your upper middle class friends who city hop across the globe? I would feel better if we at least had a more diverse candidate pool in terms of demographic and thought and perspective.

        1. The Other Liz*

          Mazzy, I think the hiring to fill a race quota thing is a straw man argument. When you’re hiring people, you might make all kinds of poor judgments, but nobody seriously hires someone just to check the box of diversity – they know that person will be there and be doing work. I just want to challenge that straw man because it can be painful for people of color who are hired into mostly white workplaces – they have to prove to some people that they are there on their own merit, not to fill a quota. More often what happens is perfectly qualified people who would add diversity to a company don’t make the final cut because of arbitrary judgments that have nothing to do with how well they’d do the job. Like “bad teeth.”

          1. Halls of Montezuma*

            Sadly, people are hired solely because they meet a race/disability quota. I’ve seen it in federal government hiring a lot, where SES performance evals are based in part on the diversity of their workforce.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Far, far fewer people are hired simply to meet a diversity quota than the vast numbers of people who don’t get hired because of racial biases.

              1. Lore*

                Also, they’re not hiring someone random off the street because of their “quota-filling” status. They’re hiring someone who applied, interviewed, made it into the (often quite large) pool of qualified candidates who would perform the job well. If “candidate A helps our diversity initiative” is one of the variables in the final subjective decision, that’s no less valid a data point than “candidate B went to the same college I did.”

            2. JamieS*

              I don’t think we can compare hiring/firing practices in the public sector with practices in the private sector. After all, right or wrong, there are many practices that occur in the public sector that would rarely, if ever, fly in the private sector.

          2. JamieS*

            You bring up a good point about minorities needing to prove themselves or at least feeling like they do. To that end, I wonder if it’s more common for others to assume a minority was hired to fill a quota or is it more common for a minority to feel like (s)he needs to prove (s)he was hired on merit rather than to fill a quota?

            Also, does this dynamic change the more specialized/advanced the career? For example are people more likely to assume a minority was hired to fill a quota when the work is less skilled over when the work is highly skilled?

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Not hiring your best friend.
        Amen. Matter of fact a good boss knows to hire people who are different from the boss because why would you hire yourself over and over? Really what a boss needs are people who fill in the boss’ own gaps.

        1. No, please*

          So true! A good manager will see the strengths she/he/they lack in their employees and utilize those skills. It’s beneficial to all.

    5. medium of ballpoint*

      I just want to say thanks for sticking up for her. I and many of my friends are POCs with bad teeth (I’m always surprised at the teeth thing; such a small part of one’s appearance communicates so much) and it’s nice to hear people are recognizing this and trying to do something about it. Thanks for helping us when we’re not in a position to help ourselves.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        And what does bad mean, anyway? Crooked? Mossy? One big yellow snaggletooth? Perfectly straight dazzlingly white teeth would be nice, but those of use without jobs can’t afford them. :P

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah. Am cringing here. It’s been a while since I have seen a dentist because LIFE! and it makes me wonder how many people out there are like this. ugh.

      2. Get out*

        No one is probably reading this anymore but just wanted to say you didn’t really stick up for her. You did if you talk to HR, but that’s the minimum you can do. This is racist and I’m glad you realize your manager is racist. Assuming you don’t want to make a stink about this at your work, and assuming you are white, things you can do:
        1. Tell white people in your social circles about this. Start conversations with them about racism at workplaces. Please educate other white people that yes racism exists and yes white people have a responsibility to fix it.
        2. Get involved with your local chapter of SURJ. My white friends who have gone have liked it.
        3. While this will personally benefit you too, find a different company or manager. Not to punish your racist boss, but to find a place that will be more successful. Your boss’s hiring practices magnify blind spots and discard talent.

        – POC (non black) who is so very tired of this shit

    6. mreasy*

      Wow. This IS problematic, and “polished” in hiring is fully dogwhistle language. How horrible and disappointing. I really hope you are able to advocate for this candidate, and even if you can’t get this particular decision reconsidered, that you’re able to change this manager & your organization’s practices. “polished”!! Shocking.

    7. Observer*

      Ouch. I’m with the others who think you should raise this with HR – in a collaborative “I’m concerned about the company way.”

      If your HR is any good, you might also want to point out that hiring “people whose background I can relate to” is not only a potential legal mine field, but also is likely to lose you some really good candidates.

    8. A. D. Kay*

      It can be EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE AND PAINFUL to have “good” teeth, as I’m sure many AAM readers already know. It is definitely a class marker, unfortunately.

  32. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

    This has been a weird week for me. The first two days of the week, I was out, because my ID – the only way onto this installation and into my computer – had expired, and security was taking its sweet time replacing it. Then I worked Wednesday. Then yesterday, I had to leave before noon because my 3 year old took a header into a piece of playground equipment and laid his eyebrow open, and we went to get stitches and ice cream. And now, I feel like I have absolutely no idea what I was doing last week, what I need to finish today, and what my priorities are.

    1. The Rat-Catcher*

      Fridays should be wrapping up your week, but when it’s been a week like that, it’s like…wrapping up what, exactly? I understand why your Friday feels shot!

    2. Teapot Librarian*

      For completely different reasons, I’m going to be in the office only one day next week. I’m sure I’m going to be equally lost the following Monday. I hope your kiddo is okay after his tumble!

  33. Melissa C.*

    I need some help with my office mate – she’s ~10 years older than me and fairly new to the company. She has kids who are college-age (~10 years younger than me). She frequently calls me “sweetheart.” Not in a condescending or sexist way (I’m also a woman), but I think out of habit. How do I ask her to please not call me this? I’m one of the youngest people in the office, but I’m almost 30!

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      “Jane, my name is Melissa. Would you please stop calling me Sweetheart?” Keep it short and straight-forward, with a pleasant tone.

    2. Blue eagle*

      How about asking her – why are you calling me sweetheart? Listen to her answer then say “my name is Jane and I would prefer if you would call me Jane.” Or “how about if I call you Mary and you call me Jane”

      Also, no need for “please” or “I’m sorry”

    3. CM*

      Say in a pleasant tone, “I don’t really like it when you call me sweetheart.” And then when she slips up, “No sweetheart, remember?”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Even more general: “I really don’t like people calling me sweetheart, honey and so on. Please use Jen/Jennifer/Jenny.”

    4. justsomeone*

      “I’m really weird about it, but being called sweetheart just wigs me out. I know you don’t mean anything by it, but could you please stop?”

      Alison usually advocates for making it about doing you a favor or accommodating your “weird thing” so it doesn’t come across as aggressive.

      1. Former Retail Manager*

        Of the options above, I agree that this one is the best. While the straightforward approach works and is justified, it also comes across as being not so nice to someone who likely just doesn’t know better.

      2. Melissa C.*

        Thanks for this. I will try this next time. She has some other *questionable* office etiquette behaviors (oh, the joys of sharing an office), and I don’t want to come across as overly mean every time I have to bring something up.

  34. offonaLARK*

    I’m in the process of updating my resume and have a quick question about listing my degree. I graduated from Villa Julie College, but the summer after I graduated (2008) the college gained university status and went through a “rebranding,” renaming themselves as Stevenson University. (The students and alumni were livid, but it happened so we deal.)

    Should I be listing both names? The name I actually graduated under? If you search “Villa Julie” in Google it comes back to the college’s “history” page so I’m sure the two could be connected, but it might be a pain for someone doing a quick overview of my resume. Thoughts?

    1. Anon Guy*

      On your resume I would list it as “Villa Julie College (now Stevenson University)” as a simple one-liner.

    2. Robin B*

      I’d use the new name, and if you like put in ( ) formerly known as Villa Julie.

      I went to Notre Dame in Baltimore and they just named their name also, so I use the new one. (although not as major of a change)

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I’m from Baltimore. I went to school in Roland Park and I am getting a kick out of this thread. :) I was recently on vacation and met a woman who went to Notre Dame, and it took me soooo far back!

        1. offonaLARK*

          Gah, I miss Baltimore so much! Currently living near St Louis. Midwest seafood just isn’t the same. XP

      2. Teapot Librarian*

        Wait, Notre Dame changed its name? (I grew up in Towson and my parents both worked at Hopkins, so there was a lot of driving down that part of Charles Street in my childhood.)

    3. IT_Guy*

      My university re branded itself several years ago, from Northeast Missouri State University to Truman State University, and now nobody even remembers N.M.S.U., so I just use Truman State. If they want to contact my university to prove my degree, using Truman State is the only to find them.

      Just use Stevenson University and not worry. It happens a lot.

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        I have always wondered why they did that right around the time Finding Nemo came out. I feel so much marketing potential was wasted there.

  35. Anon Guy*

    My boss is getting a summer intern to help me with some tasks. There are four candidates. I have their resumes and I’m supposed to do phone screenings and then interviews. I’ve NEVER done this before. Other than reading this blog, can anyone recommend some especially good resources so that I can treat the candidates fairly and also at least project some confidence that I know what I’m doing :).


    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I do this all the time, but the first time was terrifying. See if you have someone at work who has done this before and buy them coffee. Then pick their brain about what worked and what didn’t.

      I always have a list of four or five questions to ask at the phone screen. I also try, at the phone stage, to make it clear what exactly they will be doing. I hate for interns to get hired then be surprised by the work.

    2. The Other Liz*

      Check out Alison’s book, Managing to Change the World! This is not a paid promotion, I pinky swear. I received a copy when I attended a manager training at The Management Center (ALSO highly recommend). The book is such a handy guide. It’s worth it. And work should probably pay for it. It has many pages devoted to the hiring process, from how to recruit good candidates, to sample interview agendas, to tips for checking references. And then a section on how to onboard people… not to mention managing them! You want to manage your intern well.

    3. AH*

      Figure out what you want them to do during their time and have them explain what they would do on certain projects and whether they understand the work.

      When I hired interns I knew there would be some interaction with the public given the nature of our work, so I also googled them to see if their social media showed good or bad judgment.

  36. Candi*

    Many years ago, I was watching Will & Grace. Part of the plot of the show being that Grace’s friend Karen is married to someone ridiculously rich -but insists she have a job. So Grace gives Karen a job at her tiny, tiny company as a receptionist -although Karen rarely does any real work.

    In one episode, it came out that while Grace issued Karen paychecks, Karen was never supposed to cash them, leaving them in a drawer in her desks.

    It didn’t feel right then, and now I know that the DOL and the IRS, at the least, would likely have a big old conniption fit at such an arrangement.

    Another problem is that Karen was put on an allowance* by her husband (upon learning the amount Grace remarks is more than adequate for some small countries), so she goes and cashes the paychecks. All of them. Wiping out all the money Grace has for her business at the moment. I don’t even know the issues of having the money you should have paid an employee in the same account as your general operating funds.

    By should have, I mean money that should already be in the employee’s pocket, regardless of how much they otherwise have.

    Just how big a mess would it be for a real business to tell a wealthy employee not to cash an issued check?

    *I have personal issues with any adult being issued an “allowance”, a term I associate with juvenile spending money issued by parents or guardians.

      1. Candi*

        She didn’t cash the checks until her husband limited her budget. Then she cashed months worth at once.

    1. MegaMoose, Esq*

      It doesn’t matter how rich your employee is – not paying someone for their work is wage theft, and paying someone with the understanding that they NOT cash the checks hardly seems like a legal work-around.

      That said, I would think that payroll would be part of your general operating expenses, so I can’t think of why you’d need to segregate funds or anything like that.

      1. Candi*

        Eh, I was just wondering if there was a difference between money that should have already have been paid to employees still being part of the office’s general budget, and money they are going to be owed as of next pay day.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq*

          I think the biggest issue is the lack of accounting generally. If you write a check, you should definitely consider that money spent and be keeping track of un-cashed checks. As a side note, I’m really glad that checks aren’t much of a thing anymore.

        2. Natalie*

          If you’re doing the accounting properly, it’s not on a cash basis, so you wouldn’t be looking at your bank account and thinking “I can spend all of this money.”

      2. SophieChotek*

        And there should be money in the account to pay the checks (if this was a real world)?
        My understanding is that PTO with companies have to pay out PTO when an employee leaves, in theory, aren’t they supposed to have that money in the bank, so even if a large number of employees all left at the same time, they would have the cash. My mom’s husband said that is why his company reduced PTO roll-over, it made it easier for accounting to not deal with that…

        1. MegaMoose, Esq*

          Yeah, now that I think of it, I think certain funds that need to be paid out would have to be kept in a trust account or something like that. I just don’t think payroll is treated that way. /shrug #NotAnAccountant

        2. Natalie*

          It’s a liability, meaning they have to account for it the same way they have to account for a loan they took out, bills they owe to suppliers and haven’t paid yet, or next quarter’s estimated taxes. But there’s no legal requirement that they have enough cash to cover all of their liabilities. They’ll just have a real problem if they don’t have the cash when those liabilities come due.

    2. Merida Ann*

      I’d think that if the employer asked / required that, it would be the same as not paying her at all, and therefore a violation of minimum wage, etc.

      On the opposite side of that story, I was told at my last office that before the company started only using direct deposit, one of the employees simply wasn’t cashing his checks consistently, saving them up and then cashing a bunch all at once. This was apparently causing plenty of complications with accounting and keeping track of employee payments, and the company ended up making direct deposit mandatory. When they finally made the switch, that employee apparently had 9 (bi-weekly) checks still sitting uncashed on his desk. I don’t know if the company would still be liable if they’d issued the check, but the employee was refusing to cash it. I wouldn’t think so, but I’m not entirely sure, since I’m not a lawyer/llama.

    3. Anna Pigeon*

      If it’s voluntary, you can’t force someone to cash a check, but that doesn’t mean the money is yours. After a certain amount of time you have to give the money to the state as unclaimed property.

      Forbidding an employee from cashing a check would be equivalent to not paying them at all DOL wise. Assuming the DOL knows about it, it would be a big problem.

      The IRS has to be paid within so many days of the paycheck being issued whether it’s cashed or not.

        1. LoFlo*

          My last company had an audit on all types of un-chased checks, including payroll. Anything un-cashed after a set period of time were sent to the state as unclaimed property. We had one employee who for years kept a rolling 12 months of un-cashed checks. He ended up leaving the company and we sent the state about $20,000. We had a flagging system and follow up with employees too, so this wouldn’t happen.

          1. Snowflake*

            I was just going to mention this – every state has unclaimed property laws and after a certain point in time the company has to send them to the state to hold in trust for the rightful owner.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Some places put an expiration date on the check for this and other reasons.

      I found a check here that I had not cashed. It did not have an expiration date but the bank would not cash it because it was so old. (A year?) I ended up sending back to my former employer (hangs head) and asking (begging/hoping) for a new check to be issued. In due time that check came and all was well.

      I sat right next to the accountant, he never mentioned it to me. Odd.

  37. Adulting*

    In my job at a non-profit (50-100 staff), I’m a program assistant for a specific team that also functionally is acting as an EA for the president. My job includes a mix of substantive work and admin work (a mix I actually like a lot!) Here’s my question – I feel like I made lots of small/silly mistakes and I’m finding it so frustrating! I’m also having a hard time telling how many mistakes are normal versus not-normal. My past jobs have never included such an intense scheduling and admin component (think political advocacy writing/organizing things). There’s not a culture of being managed heavily, though I’ve scheduled a few check-ins with my bosses and asked repeatedly in ask-a-manager approved way for feedback like “things I’m doing well and things I could be doing differently” and still haven’t gotten negative feedback. My workload is significantly more heavy than the other people with my same title at this org, because of the EA aspect of my position, so I’m having a hard time comparing to them as well, although I’m generally much faster than them at tasks and it seems like I’m more thorough.

    EAs and admins – how often do you make mistakes? How do you handle them? How many mistakes is an issue?

      1. Adulting*

        Primarily small stuff, and almost things that other people catch so they don’t have consequences. The biggest mistake I’ve had in recent memory happened this week, and that’s that I sent a very important email that had the wrong spelling of a word (work is legal, and used another correct spelling of word, but not one that’s typically used in our professional) and generally felt like an idiot. I had checked first on Merriam-Webster online and my version was in there with the correct definition, it’s just very much not the spelling used and one of my bosses noticed it right away. I haven’t ever messed up scheduling an external meeting in a way that’s affected my principal, but my principal has double booked herself internally and I haven’t fixed in time once, and I haven’t fixed internal double-booking until the day-of on a few occasions (she averages 35-40 meetings per week with heavy travel and travel booking). My EA responsibilities are about half of my responsibilities. Other mistakes are on the level of forgetting to change footnotes from Roman Numerals to numbers in drafts and small things like that that I’m getting better at over time – but they still feel like they happen a few times a week.

        1. EA*

          These are not a big deal.

          I think most admins make small non-consequential mistakes. Like a double booking or sending an invite wrong and having to correct it. If the frequency is low you are fine. Also, some principals care more about small things than others. Admin work is generally doing a lot of small tedious things, so I consider it impossible to do it perfectly. If you want to try and excel in other ways (that WAYY make up for this stuff) work on anticipating needs. That is what most bosses want, but suck at communicating. Look at patterns, try to analyze your boss a bit, and learn to ask before you are told. That is where your value is. That and learning their preferences.

    1. EA*

      Do you mean stupid mistakes (like scheduling stuff) that you can fix quickly and has very little impact? Or do you mean serious stuff?

    2. Dee-Nice*

      I make mistakes every day. The key is that I usually catch them before anyone else can. I also work quite a bit with other EAs and we tend to make the same kinds of mistakes (our jobs are all very scheduling-heavy), so as long as we catch them with time to spare (and you’re not that one person who always makes the same mistake) we’re very forgiving with one another. There’s kind of an unspoken rule that if your flub doesn’t affect your principal it doesn’t count.
      When it comes to working on a major project, I usually assume at the start that I will end up forgetting or flubbing one or two details, and I concentrate really closely on the big stuff so that anything I screw up is relatively minor.
      Since you’re new to heavy scheduling and some aspects of admin work, keep in mind that, as with other things, certain aspects of the job will become automatic in time, you’ll develop your own best practices and procedures, and you’ll make fewer mistakes. If you’re getting good feedback from your supervisor you’re probably fine.

  38. The One with the Brother*

    So, I’m job searching (and have been since well before my brother’s death, so it’s not the issue of grief impacting big life changes). I recently found out the person responsible for his death has been arraigned. We’re really unsure what the timeline for trial/sentencing and all of that will be moving forward. It could be next few months, it could be fall. Who knows.

    While I don’t have any offers yet — or anything that even looks like it could turn into an offer — I’m concerned about how to handle this. I live far enough away from “home” that attending any of these things (and I’d really like to be present for at least the sentencing) would require taking time off probably for a couple of days if not more. This isn’t like a planned vacation where I can negotiate for that time off during the offer stage and I don’t exactly want to start off a new job with, “Hey, so my brother was killed last year and not only am I still emotionally affected but it’s going to impact my availability to some extent but I don’t know how or when or how much notice I’ll be able to give, even.” The one-year anniversary will also be coming up this summer and while I hope to go to work that day/the days leading up to it, I honestly don’t know how that will all play out until I’m in it.

    I’m assuming that most people will be really understanding about this but I don’t know how or when to bring it up. It’s possible some people will already have an idea depending on where I land with the job, but unlikely. Any ideas?

    1. Manders*

      I started a new job when my grandmother was very sick, and I let my future boss know when I was given the offer letter that I might have to take a few days off at some unpredictable point in the future for a family emergency. They were very understanding, said that would be no problem, and didn’t press me for specifics.

      I’m sorry your family is going through this.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        I think this is good phrasing. A family emergency is often understood by people. Just give them a heads up that it might happen at some point and I bet people would adjust. I wouldn’t do it until the offer stage, as Manders suggests.

        1. The One with the Brother*

          Thanks to both of you. I hadn’t considered phrasing it like that — I guess I always picture family emergencies as sudden and unexpected, but I can see how that would cover it here, too.

    2. Temperance*

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

      The timeline will vary depending on a whole bunch of factors. My aunt and her best friend were killed by a drunk loser, and the drunk loser’s attorney sent her first to a mental hospital and then to a rehab center in order to build a defense/delay her taking responsibility for taking two lives. YMMV depending on the facts.

      Has the DA been in contact with your family? A good DA will keep you in the loop.

      I was taking the bar exam when my aunt’s killer was sentenced, so I was unfortunately unable to be as much of a participant as I would have liked, but I think any reasonable employer will be incredibly understanding in this scenario.

      1. The One with the Brother*

        I’m not sure about the DA. I’m mostly out of the loop (supposedly for security purposes), but my parents only found out he’d been indicted after it was on the local news and people texted them about it while they were in a grief group(!). So I’m guessing not.

        I’m sorry about your aunt. It’s so, so rotten.

        1. Temperance*

          Oh, that’s so, so awful! I kind of understand how it could be a security risk for you to be informed, depending on the nature, but I can’t imagine how awful it must have been for your poor parents to find out from others what was going on.

  39. CompSci Grad Looking for work*

    I’ve seen comments in the last few days about job sites–any other ones specific for Comp Sci? Programming side, preferably. I’ve been using:

    – Indeed
    – StackOverflow
    – CareerBuilder

    Is LinkedIn worth signing up for?

    1. A. D. Kay*

      In my experience, having a LinkedIn profile is mandatory if you are in tech. In fact, it will seem weird if you DON’T have one. You don’t need to spring for the Premium account, unless you want to try the free 30-day trial. LinkedIn is also good for professional development and networking in general, not just job hunting. I belong to several professional groups that help me keep up with my specialties.

    2. PayrollLady*

      Yes! All professionals should have a LinkedIn and be sure to add a “professional” photo, not some goofy pic from Facebook. It acts as a living resume and the more active you are the more people see you. Add college buddies, former bosses, coworkers, and even professors. My last 3 jobs I snagged by having a good LinkedIn page. Also, join some of the industry specific groups to expand your netwotk.

  40. Lady Jay*

    Let me try again (my comment seems to have coughed). Midweek, I turned in an app for an assistantship position with grad school. I haven’t heard that my materials have been received. What do you think? Do I reach out & ask, or just hope for the best?

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      As someone who once managed grad assistants, give it at least a week. On average for our option GA positions, we received between fifteen and fifty applications. Sorting through them and notifying people of receipt was not something we routinely did, but I wouldn’t have minded if someone asked. One thing to remember is, a few days FEELS like forever when you apply for something, but for the people on the other end sorting through the applications, its has only been a few days.

      Was it an electronic submission or did to walk up and hand it to someone? If you gave it to someone other than the person hiring, I might email to follow up. “I turned in my application materials to () and I just wanted to confirm you received them. Most sincerely, Name”

      1. Lady Jay*

        Electronic submission, I think to the person hiring. I know how “snowed under” people can get with emails, and I guess I’d just like to make sure that mine doesn’t get lost in the drifts. Does it matter if they say the position will only stay open for as long as it takes them to find somebody?

        1. AnotherLibrarian*

          I’ve given this some further thought, since I tend to get mine either physically or by email. I think unless I had some reason to imagine there was a problem (ie: your computer messed up, you got osme odd error message) then I wouldn’t follow up. You are probably one of many, and imagine how much it would be if everyone emailed to confirm receipt.

  41. Manders*

    I have an office fashion question: my mom gave me two lovely skirts from the 1970s, and I’m not sure if they’re office appropriate. The cuts and colors would be office appropriate for a fabric skirt, but the issue is, they’re leather; one is matte and the other’s suede. Can leather ever be an appropriate material for officewear? I’m in Seattle, for reference, so business casual can get pretty casual.

    (Also, the other day, I saw one of the other workers in the building wearing a cold shoulder top. So I can confirm that at least some businesses around here, those shirts are allowed.)

    1. GreyjoyGardens*

      Given that you live in Seattle and, I assume, your office culture is casual, I’d say wear them. I’m assuming they’re not itty-bitty Pat Benatar-style leather miniskirts which would be a huge no-no (unless you ARE Pat Benatar!). Pair them with a more conservative top, like a button-down or long-sleeved blouse/sweater, not a T-shirt or anything sleeveless.

      I have a brown leather skirt that I pair with a cashmere sweater and boots for the winter and never had any complaints, as long as I don’t wear it when meeting a CEO or trying to make a Good First Impression (I freelance).

    2. Hellanon*

      As long as you don’t go whole-hog 70s you should be fine – in my business-creative institution, styling vintage pieces as fashion items rather than as costumes is generally seen as a better choice. So, mix the skirts with contemporary pieces on the classic side, so they really stand out as signature items….

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Both would be fine at my workplace, which is a mix of business and business casual. I recently saw a senior manager wearing a pair of skin tight leather pants (in April!) which I thought was pushing it, but a leather skirt wouldn’t register with me beyond thinking “cute.” (Assuming that the length is appropriate.)

    4. Temperance*

      I personally wouldn’t wear leather to work unless it was black or brown, and I had a pretty casual office.

      On the day that the “cold shoulder” post went up, one of my coworkers was wearing one of those tops with a vest over it. Very strange combination, but I had to walk away because I started giggling wondering who from my office submitted the letter.

      1. Manders*

        One is brown suede and the other is hunter green matte, so they’re both fairly conservative colors.

        I, erm, have paired cold shoulder tops with waistcoats before. I just really, really like waistcoats and I’ve tried pairing just about every non-t-shirt top in my closet with them at least once. My fashion sense is… eccentric.

        1. justsomeone*

          I’m also in Seattle. You can totally wear those if you pair them with other professional pieces. They sound awesome!

          1. Windchime*

            I’m in Seattle as well, working for the large University there. You could absolutely wear a leather skirt in our business-casual office, depending on what you paired it with. (I’m not fashion-y, so I have no suggestions but I assume tights would be involved).

        2. Temperance*

          I totally think it’s a fine look for not at work, but I work at a fairly conservative law firm, so it’s DEFINITELY not the norm here. ;)

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I had an awesome long suede skirt that I used to wear all the time in a business casual office in Northern Virginia. That may not help you. :) But I would never look askance at a leather skirt. I’ve seen (tasteful, not super tight) leather pants in the workplace. I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t be fine, though I’d be fascinated to hear a dissenting opinion.

    6. CM*

      Yes, even in a formal workplace I think leather can be acceptable for a woman’s skirt depending on the cut and decorations. If it would be appropriate in fabric, I think it’s probably fine, especially the suede.

    7. Nic*

      I think they sound fantastic, and agree with everyone who said as long as the length is good, they should be okay.

      For some reason, suede leather doesn’t read as strongly of “HEY! I’m wearing LEATHER!” to me as something matte or polished.

  42. EmpatheticHR*

    A bit of a potrntial trigger topic for some.

    What would you do if you had an employee who committed multiple for fireable offenses and once termination processes had commenced said that these were due to being emotionally and physically abused at home.

    A few facts which may or may not be relevant:
    -previous to this episode a solid employee
    -no call no show
    -once contact was initiated asked for additional time and then later for even more at increasing intervals
    -after being gone for more than 2 weeks submitted vacation request
    -story changed multiple times during investigation (compay doesn’t just terminate employees without investigation)
    -caused major revenue loss for company
    -put major stress on client relationship (client unwilling to continue working with employee in any capacity)

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      The timing of the disclosure seems….highly suspect.

      1. The One with the Brother*

        That may be so, but we do more damage to survivors as a whole by not believing them individually. There are plenty of reasons why someone wouldn’t want to disclose this information until absolutely necessary.

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          Okay, but this puts the employer in the impossible situation of “we should fire this person immediately, but now they’ve provided information that makes that a nonstarter whether it’s true or not.”

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            Also, given that the story changed multiple times, that’s not really putting them in a good light as far as trustworthiness goes.

            1. The One with the Brother*

              I don’t want to derail the conversation too much and I’m not necessarily advocating for firing or not, one way or the other. I just wanted to point out it’s dangerous to jump on not believing survivors. I’ll leave it here for today, though.

    2. Blue eagle*

      My take is that the last two items are the most relevant: 1) caused major revenue loss for company and 2) put major stress on client relationship (client unwilling to continue working with employee in any capacity). Even if, prior to this episode the employee was solid.

      You are in a very difficult “feeling” situation, but the “thinking” side would say that employee needs to go.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. She didn’t mitigate the damage by alerting the boss that she would not be able to work and thus caused serious damage to the company. Firing is not inappropriate.

    3. Manders*

      Oof, that’s a rough situation all around.

      Do you have the option of offering this employee some kind of temporary leave, paid or unpaid? Can you do something like hire a temp for a certain amount of time and let them know that if they come back and are ready to work within X number of weeks, their job will still be available? Is there some other position they could take that wouldn’t put them in the same position where they could cause so much damage to client relationships?

      1. Manders*

        But also, at this point, it’s okay to just let them go if your business can’t keep them. You seem like a kind person who’s trying to do the right thing, but if other people’s jobs are on the line if this employee keeps behaving erratically and losing clients, you have to protect your solid employees first.

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      I think it is one thing to be sympathetic to an employee, but you are running a business. I’d offer to help them find support services for the situation at home, but you are not their counselor or their legal representative. You are an HR manager and you need to think about that role first here.

      You have other employees and they have morale. Seeing someone not face consequences can be seriously damaging to everyone else who works there.

    5. EmpatheticHR*

      I should add that both the company and me personally choose to believe people on these types of issues until proven false.

    6. Temperance*

      It wouldn’t impact anything for me from an employment standpoint, because the employee has shown herself to be untrustworthy (lying) and cost the company major revenue.

      I would point him or her towards some resources for victims of abuse. Being abused doesn’t mean that you can’t do a good job while you’re at work, you know?

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        It might actually mean that, but at some point, as an employer running a business, one does have to look out for number one – and the priorities aren’t necessarily going to match those of a friend or confidante.

    7. CM*

      I think you could reasonably go either way. You certainly have justification for firing the person, and could point them to resources and express sympathy for their abuse but say that you need to still need to let them go. Or you can set up some reasonable probation period for them with a PIP and also encourage them to seek external help. I wouldn’t go further than that and just excuse everything, since this person’s actions are negatively affecting the company. And I would probably decide what to do based on relationships within the company (is it generally a close-knit place) and how coworkers had been treated in the past when they had personal issues affecting their work.

    8. Mazzy*

      Mmmmmm id be somewhat lenient if it was just an attendance issue as you described. It’s not as bad as being bad at their job or lazy or shifting blame when things are wrong or not managing projects to completion

      Also depends to what degree they were abused or whatever. A little bit of emotional abuse shouldn’t cause you to miss work. If anything you should explain that work can be a safe space when home isnt

      1. Temperance*

        I think the employee burned the goodwill bridge by being bad at his or her job while there to the point of causing “major revenue loss”, but I can’t imagine letting someone not work for 2 weeks and allowing them to come back.

    9. Language Lover*

      I think you can both be sympathetic to the employee and realize it has reached a point where they can no longer be effective for your company. I think you could navigate keeping them with a no call no show or even some spotty attendance if they could give you a plan on how they’re going to remedy the issue; however, once you reached the revenue loss and client relationship fracture, it’s hard for me to see how keeping them could work.

      That said, I do think there are things you could do to help your employee. The company could offer some severance or even extend a notice period to give her the chance to job hunt while still employed for a while. I don’t even know the laws in regards to paychecks but perhaps you could offer her final paycheck to her in a way that would be safe. (For instance, if the abusive situation includes control of bank accounts, you could find a way for her to cash out the final check without having to go through that account. )

      Also, related to the letter about references below, your company could offer to give a good reference based on the work she did when she was a solid employee while forgiving the past few weeks. It’d be your way of indicating that you do believe that this was an extraordinary situation that is not indicative of her overall work. It’s a situation that negatively damaged her future potential at your company but not her future potential anywhere.

      And don’t fight unemployment.

  43. So Tired*

    I will be graduating soon and have some interviews coming up. My problem is that I cannot find a suit or blouse that fits. I am bustier than average and any shirt that fits my chest does not fit in the sleeves and shoulders. Does anyone have advice about where I can find professional clothes that fit?

    1. Special Snowflake*

      Try Ann Taylor- it’s pricy but worth it. I am very busty (possibly tmi but my band/cup ratio would make Barbie jealous) I wear a sleeveless shell (with a slight v-neck) to brake up the look of one big bump in my chest.they have a variety of cuts for blazers and it just takes a bit of patience to find one you like. I would steeet very very far away from the Oxford type button downs since they bulge in odd places. Not the end of the world on casual Friday but not ideal for an interview. Good luck!

    2. Manders*

      For the blouse, you can get a sleeveless shell that’s made to be worn under the suit jacket. That way, you can focus on getting something that fits right in the bust without worrying about the sleeves. Look for something with a silky material.

      I’m also an oddly shaped person and I’ve also had some luck going to stores that stock a large number of pieces of clothing from multiple companies, like big thrift stores and TJ Maxx. For some reason, some brands just never make stuff that fits right, so going to a place that stocks a lot of different options increases my odds of finding that one perfect piece. If nothing off the rack fits, it may be time to go to a tailor. There are also places online where you can get a suit made to your measurements, but they may take more time than you have right now.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      As another busty girl, I feel you. The way to get around this is to find a good tailor who can help.

      My trick is to buy for my bust and then take it to a tailor (ask around to find someone good) and have them take it in at the sides. Some high end places (Nordstrom, Von Maur, Brook Brothers) will actually do this tailoring free or at a very reasonable price.

      It’s a good trick to always buy for the widest part of your body and then get the rest altered to fit.

      Alternatively, shopping at higher end stores what sell clothing for women, not teens, can really help too. I’ve had good luck at Talbots, Ann Taylor, Brooks Brothers, and high end department stores. It will cost you more, but you might make it up in tailoring cost.

      Also, have you thought about a sweater shell? Knit looks nice and stretches.

      1. SJ*

        Seconding a place like Nordstrom — I have a very short, apple-shaped friend who has a lot of trouble finding work clothes that fit off the rack, so I took her to Nordstrom, where she paid a bit more for work pants than she might have elsewhere, but she got them tailored for free and they fit her great.

    4. GreyjoyGardens*

      Apple-shaped *and* petite here – button-down shirts are a nightmare and when I find one I buy it in all the colors!

      Is there a Nordstrom near you? Their personal shoppers are a great resource for me, and yes, they will work within a budget and not try to get you to buy All The Expensive Things. I’ve had really great luck with Nordie’s and their personal shopper service. Oh, and their bra fittings! If you are bosomy and/or short-waisted, a well-fitting bra makes the biggest difference in how your clothes fit and feel. BT, DT, now wearing a properly sized bra and never looked back!

    5. Temperance*

      I have a large chest, and I just gave up on wearing button down shirts in any capacity. Anything that fits my bust will sag everywhere else.

      Calvin Klein makes really cute, professional shells in a variety of sizes. They have them at Macy’s and Nordstrom Rack. Their suits are also my favorite.

      1. SansaStark*

        YES! I haven’t bought a button-up for years. They just don’t work. For interviews I also love those professional shells that you can get from Macys, often pretty cheap. The shells are great under a cardi, too, so they’re not just “interview wear.”

      2. Cranberry*

        Agreed! I like the more flowing, almost drapy crepe/chiffon blouses. In a non-trendy color, with a jacket and dress pants, I think you can get away with a less tailored fit

      3. JKP*

        I’m a busty woman (32G), and I have some button down shirts. I sewed the middle parts together where they would normally gap at the bust, so it’s permanently buttoned at the bust. I pull the shirt over my head and then button the top and bottom parts, and it looks like a smooth button down with no gaps.

    6. Uncivil Engineer*

      Give up on a shirt with buttons. Knit shells that have some stretch will probably work better. As for a suit, if you don’t want to get it tailored, try looking for a jacket that isn’t supposed to close and doesn’t even have buttons. Those jackets tend to look a little less formal but can work depending on your industry.

    7. Paxton*

      I would recommend somewhere like Ann Taylor and building in an alterations budget for the sleeves and hem. My very busty petite friend makes this work beautifully.

    8. Artemesia*

      Can you wear a shell under suit or something other than a shirt. If not then get a shirt that fits in the body and have the rest tailored. I wish I had figured out that this was possible much earlier in my career as while my figure issues are different, having clothes that fit is often a matter of just getting things tailored. Not cheap but better to have fewer clothes that fit than lots that don’t.

    9. Maxine*

      If you are a size 14 or higher, you might look at Lane Bryant for shirts. I’ve gotten some buttondowns there that have extra buttons hidden under the placket through the bust to keep them from gaping. A plain knit shell is also fine.

      1. JaneB*

        Bravissimo, if that works from the US – they have a line of tops specially cut for the more busty woman including v smart workwear…

    10. Yorick*

      I find that dresses are sometimes better fitted than shirts. There are definitely dresses that are equivalent to a suit if you pair it with a blazer. You may need to have suit jackets tailored, but that feels more “worth it” to me than having a shirt tailored.

  44. aebhel*

    Does anyone know good low-cost or (ideally) free scheduling software? We’re currently using Google Calendar, but that really doesn’t work for scheduling shifts for 11 people at a time, plus front-desk coverage. I’d like something that’s accessible online, if possible, but I can’t seem to get much non-biased info about the available platforms out there.


    1. Emotionally Neutral Grad*

      It’s not perfect, but When2Meet creates visuals of when people are available for certain time periods, either by days of the week or days of the month. The more people available or scheduled for certain slots, the darker the shade of green in a time slot turns. I’m not sure how one would fit front desk coverage into that, though.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I don’t know how much it is, but my company started using amion (as in “Am I On?”). Everyone seemed to like it. I think it sends text messages to remind people of their shifts.

    3. Esme*

      I researched scheduling software for a small non profit call center and selected shiftboard. Very reasonably priced, all online with an app. The customer service was very helpful and responsive, they made some custom reports for me at no charge.

  45. Drama Llama*

    Oh my word, you guys…I’ve kind of been aghast at my coworker’s negative, snappish attitude and the way she talks to management almost from the day I started here a year ago, and I think things are finally coming to a head. She’s in with the boss now and so far I’ve heard yelling, wailing, crying…

        1. Drama Llama*

          Oh, the employee, not the manager.

          It was quiet in there for ~20 minutes and then the coworker came out – my desk faces away from the manager’s office so I couldn’t see her or anything, but she didn’t storm out of the building or anything. She’s holed up in her office.

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            Shit ain’t getting real until the garments get rent.

  46. Newbie*

    I might get a job through nepotism, basically, as I have practically no work experience. Assuming I get it, a relative would be working the same shifts as me. It’s nothing professional and it’s a small business and I kind of know the owners, but how should I handle a) working closely with a relative, and b) actually corresponding with the business? So far it’s been one text through my relative, and I’m not sure how/when to step in. There would be a trial shift, not an interview. Any advice? Any other potential problems I should think about? Thanks in advance!

    1. Nic*

      While not quite the same, in college I had both of my parents as professors at one time or another, including when I was living under their roof. The way we handled it was not to acknowledge the relationship on campus. My parents were Mrs. Dr. R and Mr. Dr. R, and the fact that I just happened to be Nic R didn’t get connected by most folks even with a rather unusual last name.

      They also both held me to a higher standard than any other of their students just to ensure that if someone did catch on, there was no sign of favoritism.

      In your case, because you kind of know the owners, you wouldn’t entirely act like you didn’t know your relative, but you and they can choose to behave professionally at work and leave the relationship at home.

    2. Kj*

      I worked a summer job with my mom and brother for years. We pretended like we were just coworkers at work- I called my mom by her first name which was strange at first, but worked well. Generally, being professional means not showing family ties. The only problem I can think of is bring family problems to work or work problems to family events. You and your relative need to be super mature about this.

  47. Pumping at work*

    Lactation room issues/advice

    I work for a large, large company. If you live in the USA, you’ve heard of us. My work has a room set aside for pumping mothers–it’s really great. Right now, there are only 2 of us. I have been booking the room and go at about the same times every day, but the other woman will not do it. She goes in at what seems to be random times. There is an alternate room, so I can go there when she takes my time.

    At first, I thought she didn’t know how. I didn’t know how to book a room in outlook until someone showed me. So I made a little presentation in PowerPoint about how to. I taped it to the door, and I know she took it. I could see that it was later re-taped. She still will not officially book the room.

    Like I said, right now there are only two of us, so it’s not a huge inconvenience. However in the next 1 – 3 months, there will be at least five other women coming back from maternity leave. That I know of. There may be more, I don’t know everyone on the site. And I don’t know if everyone will want to pump (and of course that is fine if they don’t choose to!).

    I was finally able to arrange for the ultimate room to become a permanent mothers room as well since there will be so many of us. However, since I am not a manager or anyone with any sort of power, does anyone have any advice on how to make sure the women using the room actually book it? Since I’ve failed so utterly with this woman now, I am worried about the other women when they start coming back.

    1. legalchef*

      Can you speak with HR about this? It seems like there needs to be a formal policy about this.

      1. Pumping mom*

        The only formal policy is that there needs to be a room and managers need to allow us to pump–and they have provided a room and our managers are allowing us to pump. It’s more the logistics of using the room that will need to be worked out. Possibly I can go to HR, but I think their first question will be, “Have you tried to resolve this yourself?” which I would love to do, but I don’t know who this woman is.

        1. CM*

          So you can say, “I don’t know who she is.” I would go to HR since you have no way of working this out yourself other than leaving notes, which you’ve tried, or hanging around outside the room waiting for someone to come out. They should be able to facilitate this, since it will soon affect your ability to pump at work.

          1. Pumping at work*

            I might have to try contacting HR, if nothing else, maybe they can give me advice about who to try next. Thanks!

    2. KatieKate*

      I think the powerpoint was a little passive aggressive and condescending. Why didn’t you just talk to her about it?

      Also, whi is in charge of managing the room? HR? I’d ask them to step in and figure out some procedures, even if it’s a quick email reminding everyone to do it and a note on the doors.

      1. Pumping mom*

        I can’t talk to her–I don’t know who she is! She is in the room when I need to go in there, so I go to the other room. When I go back to the first room, she’s gone. Since she won’t book the room, I can’t see her name or email address. I don’t really have time to just hang around the room all day until she shows up. I know she’s pumping and not just a random coworker because for the lactation room, only pumping mothers have access to it. The alternate room, anyone can badge in.

        HR is not in charge of it. You speak to your manager when you come back from leave and they send a request to get you access to the room. Since she is not on my team or anyone I know, I have no way to contact her directly. My manager would not know who she is.

        I mentioned that I work at a big company because there are all sorts of people who work at this building. Chocolate teapot makers, QA teams, customer support, etc. There are lots of teams, lots of managers. There is no real central authority of the building itself.

        1. KatieKate*

          Oh, got it! Sorry, it seemed like you were putting it on her office door.

          Still think HR is the best way to go. And you have tried resolving it yourself–but that’s impossible if you don’t who she is!

          1. Pumping at work*

            Oh, no, I taped it to the door in the mothers room! (Also–not that you would know this–but LOL at the idea of anyone in this cubicle farm having offices. Even managers just have bigger cubicles. At least we have walls and it’s not completely open.)

            I’m not sure about HR, but security (since they are the ones who adjust our badges for access) might be able to help.

        2. Saturnalia*

          No facilities team, or office manager? That’s who I’d be looking up.

          Then again, at my last office they actually installed tablet/panel controls outside most bookable rooms so you could see who had the room and book it yourself if it was available. It sounds better on paper than it actually worked out :-)

          1. Pumping at work*

            I tried our corporate properties initially but they do not help with the logistics of the room. The booking system doesn’t work or the email in Outlook is broken? They will help. You need someone to actually book a room and not just randomly go in? Not their issue.

            Since we have so many teams in this building, we don’t have one office/building manager. Most teams have their own admins who help their teams, but there are at least 3 admins that I know of. My specific team does not have an admin since we’re part of a virtual team based in another state.

            1. Natalie*

              How do you all get access to the room? Is it just always open? If there’s some kind of access system, that might help you or HR identify who’s using it.

    3. Murphy*

      I would talk to her directly about it, in a friendly way, and if that doesn’t work, go to her manager.

      1. Pumping mom*

        That would definitely be my go-to, but I really don’t have time to stalk the room until she shows up. :(

        1. Murphy*

          Oh, I didn’t realize you didn’t know who she was. That makes more sense. I might go right to HR then, because they may be able to help you figure out who she is.

          1. Pumping at work*

            I’m not sure about HR, but I might be able to get the security desk to tell me–or, at least, maybe they would email her and tell her I’m trying to coordinate a schedule and give her my email.

    4. HannahS*

      Can you leave a note with a straightforward request to schedule?
      Like, “Dear pumping moms, over the next few months, our numbers will be increasing. For us to share this room effectively, please be sure to book the room in Outlook. If your’re not sure how to do this, please contact and I’ll send you a little manual. Thanks, Pumping at work.”

      If it happens again that you show up and the room you booked is in use, you can knock and tell the person (even just through the door) that this room is reserved for pumping moms and you booked it. Then, presumably, she’ll say that she’s pumping too, and you can let her know that there’s a system to book the rooms and that well, ok, fine, you’ll go and see if the alternate room is free, but next time she should book one of the rooms to avoid double-booking. Basically, if she’s doing it out of ignorance, it’ll make her aware, but if she’s doing it out of entitlement, it’ll make it less convenient.

      1. Pumping at work*

        That is a really good idea. I know when I came back to work, I had no idea how many other pumping mothers there were in the building (turned out for a good month, I was the only one), so I don’t blame this woman for not booking at first. But I know she knows I’m there now (it’s been two months) and I know she knows the times I prefer to go (because I have helpfully provided it). But she may not be aware of the other women coming back. I am because I have a friend on the team with FOUR woman who had babies in a two month period, and then I saw a baby shower announcement on another floor.

        1. The Other Liz*

          I second the advice to knock on the door. Since you haven’t met her, you don’t actually know that she knows you’re being inconvenienced by her random pumping. She may feel really bad.

    5. kb*

      Could you talk to HR and have them send the room booking instructions to every manager so they can pass them along to employees when they request access to the room?

      1. kb*

        This wouldn’t necessarily solve your issue with the current rogue pumper, but it would help the influx of new people start on the right foot. And once the there are more people using the system, the rogue pumper may feel more pressure to comply.

        1. Pumping at work*

          The thing is, the company overall has over 200,000 employees. (Obviously not all in our building.) But HR is very centralized by job function, not for each building. My HR contact will not be the same HR contact for the customer support people who is not the same for the documentation specialists, but we all work in the same building.

          Hopefully the new mothers will want a schedule too and will start booking.

          (I will admit, in my pettier moments, I’ve been tempted to just take my laptop in there and work the whole day. “Oh, did you need the room? I assumed it was free SINCE NO ONE ELSE BOOKED IT.”)

          1. kb*

            Ohh, okay. That HR set-up makes things a bit more difficult. It still may be worth it to talk to your HR contact because they might know the right person to connect you with for building-specific issues. Or they might be able to work with other HR contacts to make sure all managers of departments in your building get the info? Even if they ultimately don’t know what to do, I think they’d understand why you asked them.

            And haha, I totally understand the pettiness. I would add you should sit in the room in a swivel chair, illuminated by only a lamp and spin around anytimes someone else tries to enter the room.

    6. The Rat-Catcher*

      Who did your manager email to get you access to the room? That might be the person to talk to re: a schedule.

      I don’t think you’ll be the only one who will appreciate a schedule, and it might actually get easier when the other women come back if they want a schedule as well.

      I’m normally not a fan of signs to communicate, but as direct communication isn’t a workable option at the moment, what about a sign that says “This room is reserved by Pumpingatwork for the following times: xx:xx – yy:yy. Alternate Room is available if necessary during this time.” and so forth.

      1. Pumping at work*

        I do not understand why this is even an issue! When I was the only one pumping, I didn’t book the room, but as soon as I found out there was another mother, I started doing it immediately to ensure that we could both get times we wanted/needed with our schedules.

        For access to the room, managers contact the security desk for our building which is 3 old men who really are more for show than anything else. If our access needs updating, the manager emails them, says, “Give employee access to [whatever room]” and our badges are updated. They will not be helpful. They are not helpful now. (Sometimes the cleaning staff locks the room behind them and security needs to “unlock” it. I swear they act like I am asking for them to personally go on an Indiana Jones-like quest when all they need to is click on the screen to unlock the room.)

        I will see if printing out the schedule will work.

        1. Epsilon Delta*

          Whenever someone asks me what I do for work to make small talk and I tell them that I’m a computer programmer, at least half to three quarters of the time they say, “You must be so smart!” Not just random friend-of-friends, but even at the doctor’s office.

          What do I even say to that? It’s just so awkward. I am a small, young-looking woman so I am extra jumpy about not being taken seriously, and I can’t help feeling like many of these people wouldn’t be telling men or more adult-looking women that they’re smart for being programmers (or maybe they would, who knows).

          I suppose it reflects more on the person saying it than on me, but yikes is it getting old. Maybe I should start telling people I am a professional cat chair.

        2. New Bee*

          She could have oversupply/engorgement issues and find herself suddenly needing to pump. Could the instructions for booking indicate that room as “must book” and the alternate space as first come, first serve?

        3. The Rat-Catcher*

          I was pumping at work late last year and there was never even a question of whether we would have a schedule. So I am baffled right here with you.

  48. Mazzy*

    Cover letter wording help needed. So I am updating my resume after barely 2 years in a job. My question is, I am looking to leave not the job and not my boss, but the culture. Do I need to explain why I am leaving in the resume? How deep I of an explanation do I need to give? “I am looking to leave my current role due to the company culture” seems to raise red flags.

    I am looking to leave because my company rewards mediocrity. They hate turnover so if a lazy or bad employee threatens to leave, they throw all sorts of things at them. This is the third time someone has pulled this nonsense where I know the “other job offer” is fake. It is such BS.

    It culminated this week when I found out that my toxic peer – peer in real life but not on paper because he negotiated a fancy job title he doesn’t actually do – now got another job in job title. So now a peer who does less than me has a title three levels above me. Three levels! I’ve never seen this at any job, you can’t just make up job titles like this!

    This one is so bad, I can’t even fight it, it is so obviously wrong and outlandish, I don’t need to say anything. But then why did the real VP let it fly? I need to get out of here.

    1. Being Anon Here*

      I don’t think you need to tell anyone why you want to leave on your resume. If you’re looking, they know you want to leave and they can ask when you get to the interview stage.

      Instead, in your cover letter, focus on why you want this new job, not on why you want to leave your old one. One of the big questions, I look for in cover letters is “Why is this job unlike all other jobs?” to borrow some seasonal Seder phrasing.

      1. Director of Things*

        Jumping off your last paragraph, this is my wish for all job seekers! Of the 100+ applications I’ve received this month, maybe 5 told me why they were specifically interested in my open job.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I don’t think you need to explain why you’re looking to leave the role in your application materials, though you should have an answer prepared in case they ask during the interview. Your cover letter just needs to say that you are interested in the role for which you are applying.

    3. Berry*

      I’ve never seen that you should write why you’re leaving on a resume (or a cover letter) – maybe sometimes on those extensive online forms, or if you’re asked it in an interview.

      You’d probably be okay with saying “a bad company culture fit” if someone does ask (I guess unless they press in an interview, but then just remember to not complain directly because it just looks bad on you to an interviewer who knows nothing about your current company).

    4. Artemesia*

      You would NEVER put why you are leaving on a resume. (unless you thought planning to relocate to Seattle) or something like that was useful. The resume is about what you can do and why hiring you would be a great idea, never about excuses.

      In the cover letter you could put why you are looking to move but only in positive terms — you want to do x kind of work with y kinds of challenges, you are planning to move to Chicago from Shrevesport and so are looking for opportunities in the company’s city, whatever.

      Have a reason you want to leave in case it asked in the cover letter but ‘bad management’ is never the reason. If the place were laying off and not making payroll that could be said, or if the boss had just gone to jail, maybe. But whines about ‘unfairness’ no matter how true just mark you out as future trouble. Focus on what you want to do next not why you hate the culture of the place you are in.

      1. Mazzy*

        I want the same type of job though. So how should I market that? Do you think it would be suspicious if I just don’t say anything about why I am leaving “so soon?”

        1. Director of Things*

          Leave that for the interview. They will ask if they want to know why you’re leaving. And almost 2 years is a pretty good stint in one role/company! I wouldn’t worry about employers thinking you are leaving in a short amount of time.

          For the cover letter, even if it’s the same type of job, what about the new company interests you? Any specifics you can put in will stand out. Something from the company’s mission statement, some of their clients, working for a bigger/smaller organization, etc.

  49. Nervous Accountant*

    I found out earlier this week that a problem employee from another team is being transferred to our side/team. She’s extremely disrespectful to nearly everyone and has a foul attitude. for some reason, my boss (not my direct manager/supervisor but our boss) loves her and defends her and will not fire her. I’d say her performance is good and that’s why she stays but I’ve heard her work product isn’t great, and she’s been relieved of one of the core job duties. I feel like at this point our team is the garbage can for my boss.

    1. Chaordic One*

      I guess you need to give her a chance, but given that she has a not-so-great reputation, I would also carefully document her actions and work and meetings that you have with her, so that you have a record just in case you need to get rid of her.

      Still, what a PITA having to do that.

  50. Mazzy*

    So I had a horrible week again because of my company’s horrible way of ranking, rating, and rewarding employees.

    My peer already had an inflated job title he doesn’t live up to, and this week they gave him a bump in title. I guess they couldn’t give him money so gave him a title? I don’t care at this point, I’m just pissed. Now he is three levels above me on paper but we are still peers. The job title he has now is so inflated it’s a joke. How does this even happen? I get slight amounts of title inflation, but if someone is a mid level individual contributor, how the hell do they get a VP title? He does NOTHING to warrant it, but thank you management, for making him look better on the job market when he is the worse candidate.

    This is the person who comes in late, leaves early, tries to delegate work sideways, blames things on other people, tries to take credit for other peoples’ stuff, and disappears for long lunches. He is all about himself. He seems nice when you meet him and then you realize that he thinks he is above everyone else, he is a misunderstood genius. So then prove it! He doesn’t though. His performance at work is average. His view of work is, what can I do to improve myself? What do I want to do? How does this benefit me? How does this make me more marketable? He rarely sees past the tip of his nose. Never takes one for the team or worries about the com

    1. Shadow*

      He must be doing something right to get raises? Is he really good at building relationships with the decision makers

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        Or he’s a glad-hander who uses charm, bluster, and the boys’ club to get ahead. Which is what “building relationships with the decision makers” really boils down to. He’s doing all the wrong things right and still getting rewarded for it.

        1. Shadow*

          It’s interesting that views on “building relationships” is so extreme. I know many people including parents that view it as ass kissing or being fake, while others (generally those who use it to their advtange) view it a really important tool that helps you achieve things.

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            Building relationships is great, and it is a really important tool – as long as your self-promotion game is backed up by actual results and high performance. But in this case, when the worker steals time, takes credit, shifts blame, and shirks work, it’s a crutch, not a tool. If the chummy relationships are all you got, you’re still dead weight.

      2. Mazzy*

        No raises just title change and my management gets scared if anyone leaves so by “doing things right” it means he threatens to quit!

    2. Pup Seal*

      Do job titles mean anything in your company in general? Is he the only one with an inflated title? At some places, title mean nothing (I’ve noticed some companies will give some jobs high level sounding titles when really the position is just an entry level job to lure applicants). My title has been changed 4 times in the past two years from marketing coordinator to business development director (don’t know why that one since I’m not qualified) to administrative assistant (that hurt) to administration marketing manager (not sure what that one means).

      At least you two are still peers and he’s not your supervisor. For you sanity’s sake, you may just want to keep minimal contact with him. Just be sure work continues to get done. If he takes credit for your work, speak up. I think there are some letters on Ask a Manager where Alison has given advice how to make sure no one claims your work.

    3. Temperance*

      Is there anything you can do to grab a higher title or more pay?

      Frankly, I do think that you need to put yourself first wrt career planning. I’m not against him on that. BUT I do hate how the OBC is alive and well, and often helps dumbasses climb the ladder.

      1. Mazzy*

        I already got the raise but they act like titles are strict when it comes to me. I’d have to pretend to have another job and throw a fit to get a title here and I don’t want to be a jerk just for one job

        1. Artemesia*

          there could also be gender discrimination involved. I have seen men get these goodies where women who did the same thing are snubbed or even fired. Time to find a new job.

  51. Being Anon Here*

    A coworker, Fergus, was let go from his job for not really getting his work done. I was asked to take over a part of Fergus’ duties by Grandboss. I was told this was just until the end of the fiscal year. As it turns out, I am super good at this duty, much better than anyone previously, but it is a huge amount of work.

    My immediate boss does not want it to become part of my duties permanently. The truth is I enjoy the duty and would be willing to continue, except that Immediate Boss doesn’t want me too and I respect that.

    Meanwhile, the job ad has come out to hire for Fergus’ position with no mention of this Job Duty. Is there a way I can ask what the plans for it are? I worry the assumption is being made that since I am good at it, that it is not impacting my other work and it is.

    How do I navigate with this Immediate Boss and Grand-boss without sounding like I am complaining or unwilling? Or like I want to take it on and go over Immediate Boss’ head which I absolutely don’t want to do.

    1. CM*

      I would say, “I know you said that you don’t want Job Duty to be part of my job responsibilities after the end of the fiscal year, but I noticed that in the job posting that we just made for Fergus’ old position, Job Duty wasn’t listed. What’s the plan for covering Job Duty after the end of the fiscal year?” And if the answer is that you will be doing it, you can follow up with, “I’m happy to do that, because I enjoy doing the work. But I don’t think I will be able to continue doing it on top of my normal workload, because it takes up a significant amount of time and has already been affecting my other work. Can we talk about how to handle that?”

      1. Being Anon Here*

        Oh, this is great phrasing. Thank you. I’ve been so stumped on how to politely bring this up.

        1. Chaordic One*

          It would be great if you could negotiate a raise in pay for taking over Fergus’ old job. Maybe think about using some of the negotiating techniques that Allison has suggested in previous posts and articles and also do some research into what jobs like Fergus’ pay.

  52. Anon For This*

    How can I get my colleagues to do their (small) part in my project?

    I manage consulting practice embedded in large nonprofit. We generate profits that are directed back into our programs by providing consultation to other organizations in our areas of expertise; my colleagues (program staff) do this consulting work, and I manage the operations of the consulting business and have overall responsibility for meeting our revenue targets.

    On a quarterly basis, I have to report to the board some detailed metrics about the work we did — how many hours spent with which clients, what kind of work we did, etc. This is much more detail than our payroll accounting system requires/can handle, so we keep a simple tracking spreadsheet… which my colleagues don’t fill out. So each quarter, I’m scrambling and nagging and sending them increasingly stern emails, and still some of our work goes unreported because they simply will not complete the form.

    In general, the junior staff do a good job of reporting their consulting hours. The folks who don’t enter their hours are all senior (and male; I am female, and mid-level); the worst offender is my boss.

    I get it. It’s annoying, and it doesn’t feel like it has anything to do with their real work. (And, to be honest, I don’t think it’s especially valuable. But the board requires it, and while I have and continue to advocate for more meaningful metrics, there’s nothing I can do about it in the short term.)

    What can I do to get them to do it? They get email reminders every two weeks (when they are prompted to complete their payroll timecards); in-person descriptions of how to do it and why it’s important at our monthly staff meetings; increasingly stern emails when the quarterly deadline is approaching; and office stop-bys when the deadline arrives and they still haven’t done it.

    Any ideas??

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      It seems like you need to initiate some consequences for not reporting. As long as people aren’t facing consequences, then they often don’t do things. Sadly.

      1. Anon For This*

        Hmm. I’m not the manager of any of these folks (and my boss is the most problematic!). But I can make my conversations with them about this increasingly uncomfortable, I suppose. Or ask their manager (my grandboss) to weigh in (although she’s not a particularly useful “enforcer”).

        1. CM*

          Is there anybody who could be an enforcer here?

          Can you get grandboss to agree on some consequence, which you could then communicate to people?

          Is there an easier way for people to provide this information? If you already have monthly staff meetings, can you go around the room and write down everybody’s hours? Can you figure out the information and send it to people for confirmation? Is there somebody else, like an admin-type person, who could help?

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            I’m noodling on the idea of spending part of our monthly meeting doing this — ask everyone to bring their laptops, pull up our tracking system of what projects have been active in the past month, and then having them all submit right there in the room. That might work.

    2. Artemesia*

      I assume there isn’t some process of recording effort so this stuff is not entered into a data base as you go. That would be the professional thing to do. But since not, perhaps you need to have a meeting of all the people involved here and lay out the issue and then get the data right there. Maybe if the meeting thing is annoying enough you can suggest a better alternative — always better to gather this data when it occurs then expect people to file reports later.

    3. Jillociraptor*

      Oh boy. I’m having sympathetic heart palpitations, having managed a similar process in the past. This is the worst.

      First, have you sat down with your colleagues to ask about what the barriers are to doing this task? It’s possible that there are logistical things you can do to make it easier on them. Sometimes with an issue like this, the challenge is the “start up cost” — you have to find the link, find your row, go back through a bunch of notes to find the numbers, etc. If there are little things you could do to adjust the process so that it is a little easier. Maybe they could even just email their hours to you and you could input them in the spreadsheet. It would probably save you time. Frankly, the most likely explanation is that it’s annoying and there are no consequences to them of not doing it, but it’s worth asking at least.

      I think there’s also room to make this more of a conversation about how their actions have consequences for you. If you have a good relationship with your colleagues, and think you can have the conversation with a relatively neutral tone, you could say something like, “It takes up a huge amount of my time to track this down, and while I know Boss doesn’t really enforce consequences to you if it doesn’t get done, the consequences to me are… Are you able to help me make this process work?” I think that could also be a conversation with your boss, even though they don’t seem to be particularly troubled by the current situation. Maybe also with whomever you report to for the board report.

      If you’ve done your due diligence to make the process work, and you don’t think you can reasonably borrow some authority, it’s time to get irritating. It’s so unfortunate. Some actual things I have done to get people to do routine administrative tasks:
      – Showed up at their desk and refused to leave until they completed the thing
      – Set up a meeting to literally sit next to them while they completed the thing (including, for one colleague, playing the Britney Spears Pandora station, which was their one motivator)
      – Bringing the thing to an existing meeting and following the person around until they did it

      Doing these things made me feel like a doofus, and it made my colleagues very irritated with me (so I had to do some other good relationship management like making sure to be super responsive anytime they needed me). It really sucks. But sometimes being annoying is the only leverage you have.

      There’s a final nuclear option, which is just not turning in the metric and explaining that you were not able to get the relevant data from the subject matter experts, despite multiple reminders over several weeks. 50% likely this makes the higher-ups light a little more fire under your manager’s butt to make it happen, 50% likely it just reflects poorly on you.

      Good luck!

      1. CM*

        The Britney Spears station is hilarious. It sounds like this person liked it, but for other people you could use it as light torture.

  53. Amanda*

    I’m probably going to be filling in for my boss, who’s leaving our organization, for an undetermined but temporary period. It’s an upper management role and I’ll go from having about 10 direct reports to 40+. Anyone been in this position before? What are some things I should be prepared for? NB I’m not interested in applying for his job.

    1. Director of Things*

      Hmm…can you set a meeting or call with each of the team or department heads? This would be a good time to set your expectations and see what they need from Boss (you, for now) to do their jobs. Since it’s temporary and you’ll be drastically increasing your direct reports, you’ll need to figure out the most important issues for each team. Setting up the strategic view up front will hopefully help you manage all of the new people you’l be overseeing.

      1. Amanda*

        Thanks – yes, I think setting up expectations and priorities right away, and coming back to them again and again, is going to be key. I think there will be those who perceive it as a chance to move forward a pet cause in the absence of a “real boss”.

        (also, see my clarification below – I will not have 40 direct reports, eeek!)

    2. Amanda*

      Oops, I just realized I mis-typed. Not “direct reports” but direct and indirect. Yikes, no one could have 40 direct reports (I hope).

  54. Unicorn anon*

    If a Red Dept temp teapot analyst’s CV winds up in Green Dept, and Green Dept heads critique it and seem interested, and Red Dept temp fixes said CV, who initiates contact next? The temp to return the revision, or does the temp stay silent and wait for Green heads to initiate contact?
    Hypothetically, of course…..asking under anon for obvious reasons

    1. The Tin Man*

      Did said Red Dept temp send it to Green Dept to apply for a job transfer or for feedback? I am guessing the former. When returned with critiques was there any indication that Green Dept wanted a new version of the resume with the fixes or did it seem like general feedback?

      Either way, in this super hypothetical situation where I have no more information, I would probably return the revised resume to Green Dept.

      1. Unicorn anon*

        Potential mix of the 2. For a potential opportunity based on experience housed in said cv.
        When returned, Green Dept never said “and bring me back the updated copy XXX date.” Hence, uncertainty (and the fear of appearing desperate).

        Though, the cv is already revised…..

  55. Anon for this*

    I’m so frustrated with a work situation. We have a situation that’s required a lawyer’s involvement, and the lawyer has just been taken FOREVER. For various reasons, we can’t more forward until it’s done, and it’s been weeks.

    If it was up to me, we’d have used a different lawyer but now, but the owner has a family relationship to this one so we’re stuck.

    1. CM*

      Call the lawyer repeatedly until it’s done. (If the lawyer has the nerve to charge you for this, you’ll have to dispute the bill.)

      1. Anon for this*

        I’d love to but the owner’s brother went to school with said lawyer so we have to play nice.

        1. CM*

          I guess but… as a lawyer, I respond when my clients call me.
          I don’t mean “repeatedly” like blow up their phone, but calling once a day doesn’t seem out of line or not playing nice.
          Of course, you’re the one who is actually in the situation so you have a better sense of what’s OK to do.

  56. Need Excel Help*

    I have a Money Management spreadsheet, downloaded from a very reputable template site, that I have used for almost five years (ever since PalmOS stopped being a thing). It has been a truly glorious tool for my financial life, until about 7 months ago, when it started crashing *constantly* I need to get this fixed, but I don’t know where to look. This is what I’ve done so far:

    *uninstalled/reinstalled Excel (I have Win7Pro and OfficePro2016)
    *disabled all COM/add-ins (I actually didn’t have any in the first place)
    *started from scratch with freshly-downloaded version of template
    *run Microsoft’s own Office troubleshooter add-in
    *talked to original developer (he has looked at a copy that I sent him)
    *deleted conditional formatting from workbook (at developer’s suggestion)
    *scoured various help sites on the Internet (MS MVPs)

    (I *just now* made a shortcut to open that file in safe mode each time, but I haven’t had time to see whether it works yet.)

    Still crashes frequently (“Microsoft Excel 2016 has stopped working”)

    This does not happen to any other spreadsheet that I have on my computer, and never has – Excel is solid as a rock except for this one file.

    I know that no one who is not standing in front of my computer, looking at the file itself, can really help me with this specific file, but can anyone suggest trustworthy places to look for help?

    Thank you for any suggestions!

    1. Director of Things*

      One other idea – do you keep going back to the original template or have you been adding on and using it over the years? We had this happen to a giant file we use in Excel. We had just been using last year’s and editing it to make this year’s file and over a couple years it just couldn’t hack it and would crash constantly.

      1. Need Excel Help*

        I had been using the same file, deleting the previous year’s info before starting again at January 1. This year however I started with a fresh version of the template – same crashes. So far today, using the file in safe mode *seems* to help.

    2. Spreadsheet user*

      Just switched to excel 2016 and generally find it less stable. I have a spreadesheet that works great in 2007 and 2010 but fails 75% of the time in 2016.

  57. epilo*

    A question for anyone who’s hired occurred to me today. When you hire people, how much do you tend to remember what they’ve written about themselves in their cover letter and judge their performance against it?

    I ask because I always struggle with cover letters (I have a hard time not being brutally honest about my failings and instead talking up my abilities) and I wonder if I’m at least partially paralyzed by the fear that I will write something about myself and the hiring manager will judge me as having been dishonest because they disagree what something I’ve written about myself.

    1. legalchef*

      I’ve definitely looked at resumes or thought about what someone said in an interview about their skills/experiences when having problems with someone’s performance.

      1. Clever Name*

        I have a coworker who was hired to be our teapot expert. His first week, he asked me some pretty basic teapot questions that had me scratching my head. Later on, I heard some things from other coworkers that made me curious, so I looked at his internal resume (we’re teapot consultants, and we put resumes in proposals). I think it’s likely he lied on his resume or at the very least misrepresented his experience.

        But if you’re the type of person who is concerned about this, I think you aren’t the type of person to intentionally “pad” your resume. My coworker also said to me in passing, “well, doesn’t everybody exaggerate on their resume?” :/

    2. Another Lawyer*

      No. I’ve hired probably 30 people and couldn’t tell you what a single one said in their cover letter. For me, it’s mostly a gauge to see if you’re a good enough fit to interview.

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I rarely remember specifics about someone’s cover letter beyond the hiring process. I never keep the cover letters (resume yes, but I rarely look at them). I’m looking at cover letters to see what relevant skills the person has and why they are interested in the job.

    4. CM*

      The only memorable cover letters are the ones where people sound crazy or arrogant or spell everything wrong. When in doubt, go with a pretty generic cover letter. It’s not the place to be brutally honest about your failings!

    5. S-Mart*

      I don’t remember the cover letter or resume by the time they get here to work for us. And if someone is failing or struggling, I compare their work to what we need/expect, not to whatever they wrote in their application materials.

    6. Amanda*

      I only remember the really great cover letters that make me think, “I want to call this person and hire them right now!” and the really bad ones, like where they misspell the name of the town they live in and it gets worse from there. For me the cover letter is a pitch where they get to sell me on why they’re the perfect candidate for the job. I also use it to assess their writing skills. On the other hand, I would definitely go back to the resume either during or after the hire if I thought there was a discrepancy with how the candidate represented themselves..

    7. Being Anon Here*

      I only remember super odd cover letters, like ones that say things that make you go, “What the heck?”

      I have never referred to one and thought, “Well, they said they had experience in X, why are they failing to do X properly?”

      It’s a cover letter. Not a document where you are signing away your soul.

    8. Chaordic One*

      I look for cover letters to reinforce and supplement the resume and as a place to mention any extra things that might make a job candidate a good fit for our organization. (Often that extra something might be mention of their having previously used our product and liking it.) I also look at spelling and grammar, because in most of the positions we hire for, effective written communication is a needed job skill.

      (I have found that I have to consciously remind myself that good spelling and grammar are not needed for some of the jobs we hire for, although they would limit how far a person could advance in the future. Even so, I appreciate good spelling and grammar.)

  58. Jubilance*

    Has anyone ever stepped away from a technical career and then come back to it? How’d you do that?

    I made a career change almost 5yrs ago, but I’m really feeling like I want to go back to my original career of laboratory chemist. At the time I left, I was burned out and really needed a new career experience. I’m applying to chemist jobs but I’m wondering if my years away are hurting me? Any ideas on how to mitigate or make myself look like a better candidate? And should I apply to more “entry-level” stuff to try to get back into the field?

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      Honestly, that’s kind of a tough situation, because the technology and techniques change a lot in the space of 5 years. Is there a possibility you could moonlight or volunteer at a local university’s lab for a while, to get back up to speed? Lots of chem grad students would probably love a lab tech.

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          Yeah, once you start adulting at the semi-pro level, extracurricular get reaaaal hard.

    2. NoMoreMrFixit*

      I was in a technical career (IT) and got laid off. Ended up having to walk away completely due to a mix of being out of it for too long (5 years) and some chronic health issues piling on top. Too much changed over those years for me to be able to go back to what I was doing. In the end the only interviews I was getting were for much lower level positions that I was overqualified for and didn’t get due to that. Employers don’t like hiring people with 25 years experience for junior level positions.

      Depending on how much background you have, you may have better luck than I did. Other options are going into related fields or teaching.

    3. Lab Dork*

      I got stuck working in secondary education and youth development during the recession. My background is environmental science. I got a lab manager job at a small college because a. I have a unique skill set that they needed and b. I told them about how I used and/or gained skills like writing SOPs, managing grants, curriculum design, data management, safety compliance, etc. while I was working out of field and how I would apply those skills if they gave me the job. You could also try adjunct teaching to network a bit.

        1. Lab Dork*

          Glad to help. Keep us posted on your search! It’s so rare for me to get to interact with other lab people that I’m interested to see how things go for you. Are you applying in academic labs, private industry or government? Honestly, it’s not like you forget how to do a titration or how to make 1M solutions. Another thing my coworkers have told me about my interview was that based on my resumé (a bunch of student lab jobs) and enthusiasm they knew I really wanted to be IN THE LAB and they didn’t care that I’d been forcing teenagers to do their homework for the last six years.

    4. Lab Dork*

      Also get on Researchgate and read up on papers if you let your professional chem society memberships expire. There is also a job board and networking on that site. I’m not as chuffed with but it is similar.

    5. PseudoMona*

      I’m a bench-level research scientist in industry, and I’ve participated in my company’s hiring process several times. Your time away from the bench is going to make it difficult, but not impossible, to return to the bench. Lab Dork’s advice is very good, you will want to show how you can apply the skills you’ve gained in your current position to a lab chemist position.

      A few more suggestions:
      -If you have kept up on the literature/techniques in your chemistry field, highlight that in your application
      -Make sure you can discuss the details for any publications/techniques you have listed in your application. After 5 years a hiring committee might be concerned that your lab skills are too rusty.
      -Be sure you can clearly articulate 1) why you made a career change away from the bench and 2) why you want to return to being a lab chemist. I’d highlight that second part in your cover letter.
      -Apply for jobs that are the same or slightly below the level you were at when you left the bench. Depending on
      your education/experience you might be over-qualified for a truly entry level job.

      I hope this helps!

  59. FN2187*

    Spent my morning gluing photos on invitations then stuffing them into envelopes.

    What are some annoying, dumb things you have had to do at work?

    1. Dee-Nice*

      Stuffing nametags. Oh, the humanity.

      Also hand-registering students online, because tech in academia is so, so sad.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Many years ago I spent weeks stapling little placards to a few thousand desk top in boxes. That was seriously boring.

    3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      I’m a contractor. Some of the shit I’ve been asked to do, for hours that get billed out at over $200….

      1. Clever Name*

        Me too, and yep. A recent example is I spent hours responding to minutiae-level comments (this doesn’t match OtherCompany’s style- I work for My Company and not OtherCompany) only to be told that the commenter really only wanted me to address 1 or 2 substantive comments. Then why did they spend time making the comments and later highlighting the comments I didn’t adequately address? I felt like I was being graded.

    4. Temperance*

      The worst task, to me, is dealing with taxi vouchers. I have always hated calling cabs for people. I don’t do it anymore, but it’s my least favorite thing on the planet. It seems like every single person who refuses to call their own damn taxi also has a million preferences and will change their mind 100x about when to be picked up.

    5. caledonia*

      Laminating one by one over 300 certificates. I wasn’t v good at it either (some had wrinkles in them)

    6. Collie*

      There’s this thing I do once a week in which I:

      – Am emailed a set of ~50 documents, each 2-7 pages long, usually 4 (sometimes as many as 110 documents)
      – Print the documents
      – Staple the documents
      – Manually type the title of each document into an Excel file
      – Alphabetize titles, then number alphabetically
      – Physically number print-outs according to the Excel file
      – Physically put the print-outs in order, hole-punch, and put them in a binder
      – Email a large group of people the Excel file list
      – Receive emails from people requesting specific titles
      – Remove staples and scan documents to send to requesting individuals
      – Re-staple and replace them in the binder
      – Rinse and repeat, weekly


        1. Collie*

          I appreciate the validation. I don’t mind it sometimes (in fact, the data entry bit is nice because it doesn’t require a ton of attention and I can listen to podcasts or whatever while I do it), but it’s so tedious and I don’t see why we can’t just distribute digitally. I’ve brought it up, but no one will budge on it. This is only one of the many ways my office is stuck in the year it was founded.

      1. 2horseygirls*

        Dumb question of the week: If you are emailed the files electronically, can you save each one as its own file before printing? That way, you can just access the folder and send them what they are looking for without the physical paper handling . . . ? My apologies if I am missing something in the process.

        1. Collie*

          That’s what I’ve been saying. ;)

          I’ve tried a couple of times to understand why they want it done this way, but they won’t give me a satisfying answer (and I can’t think of why they wouldn’t — it can’t be that much of a security issue, though these are labeled as business sensitive documents, if they’re emailing them to me and I’m downloading them to print…) and won’t sway on the method. Go figure.

    7. PseudoMona*

      Double data entry. We have two different databases to track the teapots we make, and the databases aren’t linked to each other.

    8. periwinkle*

      Collect the paper timesheets for approximately 90 non-exempt employees and then handwrite each of their weekly hour totals (regular time, OT, vacation, STD, etc) onto the pre-printed 11×14 pin-feed carbonless 3-part timesheets. I also had to handwrite “40” into the hours line for each salaried employee (another 50 or so) and note any vacation or STD hours there. Then I had to date & initial each page and then take the shuttle from my building to the main location a mile away to get an administrator signature on each page, and then back to my building. Next I had to separate all of those sheets into three piles: top copy to the org finance office, middle copy to our filing cabinet, third copy in the shredding bin because we didn’t need it. Finally, I had to drop off the signed top sheets at the pickup point.

      Every. Single. Friday.

      And it had to be done by a certain time because we had a courier who picked up the huge envelope stuffed with handwritten entries on the pin-feed paper; said courier drove to each location to collect envelopes and then took them to the organization’s finance office for payroll processing. If someone was late in submitting their hours, I would have to call that office and then fax in a special form to get the hours added. At least I wasn’t one of the people at the finance office who had to then process the approximate 20,000 individual weekly timesheets from all of the organization’s facilities.

      No, this was not back in the 1970s. I wrote up my final batch of timesheets in 2009. I kept the final set of 3rd-sheets as a reminder that no matter what annoying thing is going on at my current job, it ain’t Timesheet Day.

    9. Gracie*

      Stuffing 5k envelopes with letters to go out to customers only to find out that it was the wrong letter so in the interest of saving money we had to unstuff them so we could reuse the envelopes and stuff the correct letters it was oh so much fun. Papercuts for days

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I love any kind of mindless assembly work like mailings. As long as that’s not my entire job, LOL, and I get to sit down while I’m doing it. It’s almost like ASMR at work. I used to do 400-piece mailings all by myself at NonProfitJob. :)

      The most annoying thing I’ve done is filing (and scanning). I worked at a place where we printed out quotes and faxed them and then filed the quotes. Reams and reams of paper and I had to constantly deal with it, but they would not switch to emailing the quotes. Everything had to be faxed because some customers were old-fashioned. Then I went to a place that was mostly paperless–I think I printed something maybe once a year? I don’t know what I’m going to do if I get stuck in a stupid admin job where I have to file again. Seriously; with Acrobat or even Cute PDF Writer and a good backup, who needs to do that!? >_<

    11. Amanda*

      At the whim of my boss, convene a committee of about 8 people from across our organization to come up with one unified form to collect client information, instead of having a bunch of different ones. Hold several meetings over the course of the year to have everyone decide what to have on the form, have legal and risk management review and comment, finalize the form, then socialize the form out. Then, within a few weeks of implementing the form, observe as someone on the committee voices a loud objection to the form and says it won’t work for them, they need their own separate form.

    12. CrazyEngineerGirl*

      For about 10 seconds I was SO SURE this said ‘gluing potatoes on invitations’ and could not figure out how they fit into the envelopes.