open thread – April 28-29, 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 :)

{ 1,950 comments… read them below }

  1. Lillie Lane*

    If your company ever suddenly fired or laid off a coworker (and you weren’t able to say goodbye), did you reach out to them later? Why or why not?

    1. the gold digger*

      Oh yes. I worked with one woman for a while and she just – disappeared. I liked her and thought she did good work, so I wrote her a note and asked HR to write her address on it an mail it. (They would not give me her home address – and this was before LinkedIn.)

      Unless I knew someone were fired for something really bad (as in, keeping in touch with the person would hurt my reputation), why wouldn’t I keep in touch?

    2. Jennifer*

      No, because having been there myself, I know it’s painful to hear from people who still work there when you don’t. Doesn’t mean we don’t like each other, but it’s painful and awkward.

      1. esra*

        See, I actually liked when people sent notes after my team got laid off. It depends on the person.

        1. LizzE*

          Another one who appreciates it when ex-colleagues reach out to me. It might be painful to talk the day of or the days after, but in the long run I appreciate people making the effort do so. For my personal well-being, I like knowing these people socially. For my professional well-being, I need to network with these people.

      2. kac*

        Submitted as evidence that everyone is so different:

        When I was let go, I really appreciated that a few people reached out to say that they wished me well, etc.

        1. Anna*

          Same. I still talk to most of the people I worked with and those I don’t, it’s just because we lost touch.

        2. Annie Moose*

          I was laid off as part of a large layoff last year, and I was really disappointed that even though I gave people my personal email, not one of them even sent me a “oh that’s too bad, hope things go well for you” note. Not a single one. :(

          1. Engineer Woman*

            Ooh, I feel for you. I was once part of large layoff as well, but almost everyone I came across (it wasn’t same day departure for me, but I “got to” stay another month to transition my work! Yay! -*sarcasm) wished me well. I appreciated their well wishes.

            I still keep in touch with a few folks. But I haven’t much kept in touch with other colleagues that had left earlier and sometimes I wish I did.

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I appreciated being contacted, too; that way, I didn’t feel like I had the lay-off cooties.

      4. Antilles*

        This probably varies from person to person and based on the situation. When I was laid off, I got several voice mails and text messages from ex co-workers mentioning how disappointed and angry they were about it. And I absolutely *loved* hearing that – after hearing the company say “nope, we just can’t afford you” (which hurts even though it’s nothing against me), it’s great to have other people tell you that “dude, you rock”.

      5. Sam*

        Yes but it’s worse to know people you worked with for years sometimes don’t even care. And let them know that they should keep the channels open, (if you feel that way), for a reference or for opportunities you may come to know of.

    3. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Opposite thing happened to me. My previous position was eliminated due to a reorg and I sent out an email to say goodbye to some of my coworkers. 3 of us were let go at once so the office never organized a farewell for any of us. Then again it was a strange place to work at the best of times. But saying goodbye on my terms did give me a sense of closure.

    4. Gaia*

      Yes. I felt horrible for her because of how my normally great OldJob really screwed up a delicate situation. We hired her, sponsored her visa, moved her here and 3 days into her job we made her position redundant. She had left family behind and now found herself in an unstable immigration situation in a foreign country with little support. She ended up doing really great and found another job here quickly and is happy and adjusting well (it seems) and we keep in touch and occasionally get coffee.

      1. Artemesia*

        I will never understand this kind of cruelty. I know people who were heavily recruited, left good jobs and then immediately laid off due to reorganization. IN each case they were not there long enough for them to have been fired or found wanting. One gave up a very nice tenured position and was out of a job in two weeks. To hire someone internationally and leave them high and dry is unconscionable. Somebody knew what was in the offing and that somebody should have stopped hiring.

        1. Sualah*

          That sort of situation happened to me, but the good thing was that I work for a big financial institution and it was just one department to another. So they recruited me to the other department and then on my second day, I found out I’d have to go back to my old department in two months. And since I’d have to go back, they wouldn’t give me much work to do. I call that my “quick and pointless career cul-de-sac.”

          1. Artemesia*

            When my husband followed me in my major career move, leaving a great job where he was very successful he unexpectedly found it difficult to get a new job in his field. Sort of a brother in law town and he was too senior to be hired ahead of new junior associates at the firm but not senior enough or connected enough to be a rain maker. After a year he landed two offers, he took the one that paid slightly less but that was more interesting to him. The job he didn’t take was given to another guy — and within two months the job was eliminated in a re-org. I can’t tell you how grateful I was that that wasn’t us. After a year of having screwed up my husband’s career, I don’t think I could have survived that happening to us. My husband handled it all much more gracefully than I could have. Forever grateful.

      2. Ruffingit*

        OH MY GOD. No. That is just so incredibly wrong. You just don’t bring someone over from a foreign country and then dump them three days later. WHAT??? I can’t. That is just horrifying.

    5. Amadeo*

      I’ve been on the other side of that, fired suddenly (12 years ago) and a couple of friends I’d made at work did absolutely keep in touch with me and we did a few things together still.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This happened after I got laid off at OldExJob, because it was so sudden. Most of those people I’ve lost touch with now, but my old supervisor and I are still in touch, and the cool facilities guy. And the cool marketing guy who got laid off the same day. We’re all mostly Facebook friends, though Former Supervisor and I go to lunch occasionally. Marketing Guy has a band that I’m a fan of and I finally went to see it (I hate going to bars alone so I just….didn’t. But I’m glad I finally did.).

    6. Windchime*

      I wasn’t fired, but I gave notice and then the following day was called into HR and told not to come back. They paid me for my notice period but didn’t let me work it. Fortunately I had sent an email to my entire team when I gave notice, but to everyone else it probably looked like I was fired. I’ve stayed in touch with people I was friends with before, but it was still a crappy way for management to handle it.

      1. ChrysantheMumsTheWord*

        I had a fired coworker call me and felt the opposite – I was not glad they called. It wasn’t my business why they were fired but they felt they had to make their case known to someone that was still there and wanted me to spread the word to other staff, I guess.

        Ex-coworker told me where they had hid documents that explained that their side of everything. I found the documents, shredded them without reading them and didn’t tell anyone else about the call. Wasn’t my business, nor anyone else’s.

        And yes, this coworker’s termination was likely justified based on behavior I had experienced first hand..but again – not my place either way.

        1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

          Yeah – I’ve had people reach out to me that I wasn’t happy to hear from. In my case it was because they wanted to complain and get me to take their side and it felt toxic.

      2. Lissa*

        I had this happen too, and I was glad she let me know. That place was a shitshow though so I wasn’t surprised at the entire chain of events, sadly.

    7. Jesmlet*

      No, I feel like the ball’s in their court as to whether or not they feel comfortable reaching out and letting me know what happened. If we’re close enough that I’d want to say goodbye, it probably isn’t goodbye, it’s see you later…

      1. Confused Teapot Maker*

        From experience, agreed.

        We had somebody who was let go suddenly – like, got called into the boss’ office one afternoon and was just gone after that. I felt bad for her but, to be honest, we weren’t that close at work. HOWEVER, I did always assume it was the company who had behaved really badly as, from where I was sat, it looked like they had decided to tweak her role and then fired her two weeks later when she couldn’t adapt quick enough.

        Actually, somebody from the office did stay in touch with her – turns out her performance had been a problem for about the last six months, she was on multiple warnings and the job tweaks were more of a last straw move to get her to do what she’d actually been hired for rather than what she’d been doing. Basically, she knew she was about to get fired so I imagine I might have rubbed salt in the wound if I’d come along and been like, “I can’t believe they did that to you, the jerks!”

        1. ST*

          “they had decided to tweak her role and then fired her two weeks later when she couldn’t adapt quick enough”

          That’s essentially what is happening to me.
          I’ve been moved into reporting to a department head of a department that really has only a tenuous relationship to what I’ve been doing for 20 years. It’s a bit of a culture clash.

    8. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

      I’ve been hesitant to do it, just because I don’t know if the person would want to hear from someone at the former company right away. I’m not sure if it would be too upsetting, especially if the person left the company on bad terms.

      And here I contradict myself by saying I’ve had former coworkers reach out to me via LinkedIn or Facebook after I was let go, and I appreciated it. It was actually kind of a comfort.

    9. SophieChotek*

      Yes this happened to me last year. I work for a small division and 2 co-workers were laid off the first week in January 2016. I know none of us saw this coming — except for the VP and Operations Manager. But the person to whom I was closer, was laid off on a Monday; just the Thursday before we had been having a strategy meeting planning for projects for the next month or so.

      I waited a month or so then just texted or emailed her and said I hoped we could remain in contact. We still do sporadically email or text.

    10. Emmie*

      As someone who was laid off before, I really appreciated those who reached out to me. It felt awkward talking to others about my layoff. I still remember those who asked me out to lunch, still spoke to me, and / or proactively shared very kind words to me. Like “we couldn’t believe it was you they laid off / they’re not smart for that / you’re a great employee, you’ll land in a better place.” So many people say nothing, and it was like loosing part of my life.

    11. Kate*

      I have with colleagues who were laid off, several times. It seems like laid off folks often feel shocked, embarrassed and isolated. I hope that reaching out helps with those feelings. I also want to keep in touch with these people, and can’t imagine doing that without acknowledging their situation during a tough transition period.

      I keep it simple– just a short email saying something like, “Hey, I heard your position was eliminated. I’m so sorry. I always enjoyed working with you. If there’s anything I can do to assist with your job search*, please let me know. Take care, Kate”

      *I’m a recruiter, so that can be a helpful offer. I’ve only received positive responses back.

      1. Artemesia*

        I was on the wrong side of a merger and it makes you feel like a pariah when people don’t reach out and acknowledge the misery of it.

    12. animaniactoo*

      Only if I was already pretty friendly with them, and either talked to them outside of work or had a long working history with them.

    13. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I had a lot of people reach out to me when I was terminated. I appreciated it, but also didn’t particularly want to talk to them in detail about what happened.

    14. DD*

      Yes, but it would depend on the person and the circumstances.

      I have been on the wrong end of this and it was nice to hear from friendly co-workers who were genuinely sympathetic/outraged on my behalf, but maddening to hear from a senior manager who I know probably had a day in the decision to eliminate my team and not funds place for me.

    15. Quinalla*

      Yes, usually I’ve done it with a request to connect on linked-in (as I’m bad about connecting with coworkers) with a quick “I really enjoyed working with you, please keep in touch!”, more personal if I knew them well. Then leave it at that unless they respond so that if they don’t want to talk now or ever, that is left up to them. A few have never responded beyond connecting on linked-in, most respond in some fashion and some I still regularly talk to. I never pry for details, but have listened to their side if they wanted to tell me, but that only happened once so far.

    16. Anon today*

      I’m going through this right now. I was laid off the end of March and am currently out of town visiting my family. today is my former supervisor’s last day, as he gave notice shortly after I left. I’m grateful that we are now connected on LinkedIn but sad I’m not there for his going away lunch.
      It’s hard to say goodbye to a wonderful friendship.

    17. LiveAndLetDie*

      Yes! We recently had layoffs and I’ve kept in touch with a handful of folks that were let go. One of them was a direct report of mine, so I wanted to assure her that I valued her work and offer to be a reference. The others were just folks I’d befriended over the course of our time here together and I wanted to say I’m happy to keep in touch and I wish them well.

    18. Charlottemousse*

      I did once, as we were work-friendly at the office, and I wanted to wish him well. I had been wavering since I wasn’t quite sure whether reaching out would be welcome or not, but ultimately, I thought it was the right thing to do. I considered his positive personality and that we were friendly at the office in figuring out what to do. He responded well, and we kept in touch for several months thereafter during his job search until he moved across the country.

    19. CaliforniaGurl*

      I wish… I was fired about a month ago, a day before my vacation. I shared an office with two coworkers I considered friends, we were friendly after work, befriended each other on social media and so on. Apparently they both knew I am about to be sacked because they both left work unusually early, I guess to avoid any possible drama and awkwardness of me packing my things. Anyways not one of them reached out to me afterwards via text message, email or social media. After I came back from my vacation I deleted them off my Facebook, but I must admit it hurts that I considered them friends and they didn’t even have the decency to say goodbye. I guess we were not friends after all…

    20. legalchef*

      Yes, and no. Someone with whom I worked directly at my old job was fired suddenly (not suddenly to him, but seemed sudden to everyone else). I didn’t reach out, mostly because he was a jerk who deserved to get fired (given the messes of his I had to clean up afterwards).

    21. mew*

      Yes, I was laid off after 22 years with my company, and I was on short term disability as well. So I pushed the STD as far as I could, since they had to wait til I came back from that to make it official. I got an extra 3 months of pay, part of the bonus for the year, and my severance. I only talk to one or two people since I’ve been gone. I still haven’t found another job, and it’s been a year.

    22. Phantom*

      Once, a coworker was fired rather abruptly for something that was not entirely within his control. We worked for a small company with a CEO who never hesitated to fire people who weren’t living up to expectations, which meant we didn’t have to deal with deadweight for long, but we lost some good people we probably shouldn’t have. In my book, the ex-coworker was in the latter category. When he was fired, I emailed him to let him know I was sorry to see him go, and he shared his side of the story with me and told me he had some other opportunities lined up. But, continuing any sort of communication with a guy who felt wronged by a company that I still felt was a pretty great place to work felt awkward.

      Several years later, when I was at a different company, I noticed his resume left in a conference room. I was able to find our old email exchange, which refreshed my memory on what had happened, and I reached out again to see if he wanted me to put in a good word for him. A few weeks later, we were coworkers again.

    23. OldJules*

      If we are close enough to talk about personal things, yes. We remained friends henceforth too. A couple of them were and are still friends with me.

    24. Life is Good*

      No. Because the person who was fired was so toxic that many of us avoided her for many months beforehand. There was a collective sigh of relief after she was gone.

    25. Manders*

      I didn’t, and I regret it. My current office just disappears people with no announcement, and she’d been out sick on and off for a few months before she was fired, so it took me a little while to notice she was even gone for good. She also unfriended some other people in the office that she had been connected to on Facebook, so I assumed that she didn’t want to hear anything from me. But she was a nice person caught in a rough situation and I should have reached out and offered to be her reference.

    26. Liz*

      Yes. I worked very closely with someone who was laid off who I had really enjoyed working with and who was a great asset to the team at the time (unfortunately the position itself just didn’t make sense anymore). I emailed them privately a two weeks later, after I heard through the grapevine they had a promising offer from a competitor, just to say how much I admired their skill and liked working with them, and to provide my personal email should they ever want to reach out. I got back a pretty positive response so I think it was taken well.

      I would not have reached out if I didn’t work closely with him, if I wasn’t sincerely very bummed he was let go, or if I knew he was struggling to get another job and it could rub salt in the wound.

    27. katamia*

      If we were very close, yeah, after a week or two to give them time to process things. But not if we were just friendly coworkers.

    28. Snow*

      This happened very recently. I did reach out, even though I worried it might be awkward or painful, because the person had been a friend as well as a co-worker. I was not consulted about the decision to let this person go, and I did not agree with it. I wanted to help them as they looked for a new job, as best as I can, and I wanted to remain friends if they wanted to. I was relieved when they were happy to hear from me rather than hurt. (Though of course, if they had not wanted to respond, I’d have backed off.)

    29. Connie-Lynne*

      Two places I’ve worked have “alumni” FB groups. They’re wonderful ways to keep in touch.

    30. copy run start*

      Not for a firing. The one person who was fired was basically asking for it with their behavior, and I 100% agreed with the firing. I felt it would be embarrassing since we weren’t close, and I basically detested them, so I didn’t want to stay in touch.

      Never been through a lay off, but I would probably do so after a couple of days, unless we were very close. Then it would probably be more immediate.

    31. Emelle*

      I did one time, because I thought my former coworker got screwed. I knew he had been put on performance, but I also knew that his manager was not being totally forthcoming with the performance issues. Basically he would request a project over email, make significant changes to the project verbally, and when the project didn’t meet the email specs, he nailed him on that. He also would pull very rough drafts off the shared drive and present that as a final draft to the board- but none of us could prove it was happening (HR included). Anyway, I kept in touch- even recommended him for a couple of temp jobs with a close friend’s organization. He got the exact same job with a different org about 12 years ago and that org has had wonderful things to say about him.
      (The jerk manager left the first org and it took them almost 2 years to fully recover from the stuff he hid.)

    32. Janey*

      I did reach out to another manager after he was let go suddenly. We had worked at the same company for 5+ years and I felt the reasons for his being let go were at least partially out of his control. I offered to be a professional reference for him in his job search going forward because it’s hard after that many years.

      On the other hand, I had a manager freak out and ‘rage quit’ at work because of some office reorganization that was happening. She called back the next day to try and salvage the situation, but no go. I did not reach out to her because I didn’t feel comfortable with how everything went down.

    33. Bea W*

      It’s happened a several times on my own team. In all cases they were let go for cause. I didn’t contact them later. Mostly I had no contact info and would have had to look them up, but it just felt awkward and I wasn’t close to any of them.

  2. Questioner*

    I’m starting a new job next week after being at my current (toxic and dysfunctional) company for 6 years. I’m excited but also nervous because I have picked up some bad work habits over the last several years. For example: procrastinating, not meeting all the minor deadlines (though I always met the major deadlines), browsing the internet on my computer and phone, “bitching” about the management, coming in late (910-920 instead of 9, but I always stayed roughly 8 hours).

    I want to unlearn the bad habits and re-learn how to be excellent. The other thing is: after being in a toxic work environment for so long, my professional confidence is not what it used to be. I want to get it back.

    Have you ever been in a similar situation? What worked/what didn’t? Any suggestions for how I can do this?

    1. Tempest*

      I can’t offer much advice but I start my new job in three long weeks after a similar sort of toxic environment/slide into coasting so I’ll be eagerly following the replies along with you! I already intend to show up early. I know I have loads of enthusiasm so I’ll be certain to show up with a good attitude and let that show, but beyond that I’ll wait for other people’s advice with interest.

    2. kavm*

      Oh man… I’m in a similar situation, but without the new job… Still stuck at a place that has ingrained very similar bad habits in me. I hate it but I feel so frustrated and don’t know how to break the cycle.

      I would just really focus on being optimistic and happy at leaving behind an awful workplace, and make a real effort to counteract those bad habits – at least you recognize them, so you can be proactive! Aim to show up 5 minutes early, maybe set reminders and follow-ups for any deadlines, even minor ones. Good luck!

    3. strawberries and raspberries*

      I think the best thing you can do when you’re adjusting to a new job is to (as best as you can) stop thinking about your old job. Every time you’re tempting to say, “At my old job we used to…” just stop talking. Take a lot of notes. Ask your supervisor during your onboarding time how they best like to communicate, and how they’d like to you to track all of your major and minor deadlines and projects (if there’s not something set up already). Making the effort to learn the new process, rather than unlearn the old habits, will keep you occupied enough that you can figure out new ways to be excellent.

      Also, the work culture could be wildly different, such that something that would have been a bad habit at another job could be less pressing. Obviously things like bitching about management and coming in late aren’t okay, but (for instance) if you leave an environment where you’re overloaded with projects that all have the same level of urgency and then suddenly in your new job you’re only responsible for three key deliverables, it may get easier to prioritize those and you may find that you actually do have more free time. Which doesn’t mean you’re slacking or procrastinating, it means you’re more efficient.

      1. Jaydee*

        Even the arriving late may not end up being a big deal. Obviously don’t start moseying in 15 minutes late right away. But you may find your new employer is flexible about start times as long as the work gets done or you may find that you want to get there early to have some quiet time to get settled or focus on projects before the day really starts.

    4. Anon-Mouse*

      Are you me? Because I’m in the same boat! Leaving terrible work place for a much better one but I don’t want to bring my bad habits with me. I plan to embrace the new job with all the enthusiasm I have, learn their ways and their expectations, and basically do everything that my old boss would have labeled as an over-achiever and my old coworkers probably would have told me to slow down because I’m making them look bad.

      Good luck to you, fellow new worker, and congrats on getting out of the toxic place!

    5. Volunteer Coordinator in NOVA*

      I had that problem when I switched to my current job as I was feeling so burned out from my previous job and I brought a lot of stress and bad habits with me. To try and fix it/get out of those habits, I become more organized with creating to-do lists/schedules, making sure I was 5 minutes early, putting a time blocker on certain websites that distract me and keeping conversations light about work. Now that I’ve been here for almost two years, I’ve had to keep up with them as much but every once in awhile when I feel myself starting to put things off or not be as efficient, I’ll go back to those systems as they really helped me start my job off on the right foot.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      I do all of those except bitch about management. I started these habits at OldJob that I’d been at for over a decade and had a certain comfort level. It’s just carried over into this job and I don’t know how to change it. I’m actually very happy here, so I really have no reason to do these things other than I have a very laid-back, hands-off manager; he’s very engaged, but he expects that we’re all adults and only cares about the work getting done, rather than HOW it’s done and how long my butt was in my seat. That’s probably why I haven’t felt compelled to change.

      Sorry, no advice. Just wanted to commiserate.

    7. Blue eagle*

      One thing that is always appreciated by everyone is if you are on time. For everything. So to start your re-learning good habits, I would make it a point to be at work 10 minutes before the starting time. The reason is that if there is something that causes you to be 10 minutes late (you forgot to put something in the car that you need and you need to go back in the house, traffic tie-up, etc) you will still be on time.

      Next thing is to figure out a way that works best for you to manage unlimited non-work browsing. If going cold turkey doesn’t work for you, how can you limit yourself. Say, maybe hold off any morning browsing till 10 and afternoon browsing till 3 and only allow yourself one opportunity to browse each morning and afternoon. Or whatever limit you figure out for yourself that would work for you.

      1. ali*

        I really need to do this regarding browsing. Unfortunately, my job occasionally requires Facebook and Twitter use, so I can’t just block them entirely. But I really like this suggestion.

    8. Windchime*

      I just decide that I was going to change. My old workplace was horrifically toxic; little groups of people bitching to each other, stress, unreasonable deadlines, etc. I was at BEC stage with a lot of employees and when I came to my new job, I decided I wasn’t going to be that person any longer.

      Examples of what I changed: People who just stand around and yak all day bug the heck out of me. In Oldjob, I would have complained to a coworker or my manager. Now I put on my headphones and just keep working. Not my business to complain about or bitch about someone who isn’t on my team.

      Another example: A coworker recently tried to pull me into a bitch session about our boss. He made a comment on Skype about how he feels she is a micro-manager. I just replied, “That hasn’t been my experience.” And then I STOPPED participating.

      It really is that easy in most cases. Turn your phone ringer off and put it in a drawer. I turn my ringer off and turn it upside-down unless I am actively expecting an important call. Make a to-do list every morning and hold yourself accountable to check off as many tasks as you can.

      You can do it! I know you can!

      1. Life is Good*

        Windchime is right on! The more I read AAM, the more I am convinced that there are many, many crappy workplaces out there. I have been at my new workplace (after having been in a really awful office environment for more than a decade) for a year. I have applied many of Windchime’s principles and they work. Don’t let stuff that is above your pay grade to worry about get to you. I am now working for a well managed company that is filled with hard working, competent people. I got lucky!

    9. Parenthetically*

      Yep, absolutely have been there.

      Two things: 1) a daily schedule/agenda, just for you, with work tasks you want to accomplish on it; and 2) a checklist or (silly as it sounds) affirmations list of positive traits or actions you want to aim for or want to be known for, maybe with some drilled-down action points. So based on your comment, your checklist could look like:

      Timeliness and promptness: I value my coworkers’ time and seek to use my time well for both work and rest.
      – (details about morning schedule)
      – (details about using time well at work)
      – (details about using breaks for rest/unplugging)
      – (details about using downtime/slow time well)
      – (details about using electronics on work time)
      Respect and professionalism: I speak and comport myself professionally and seek to build my reputation among my peers and bosses.
      – (details about managing complaints/concerns)
      – (details about how you speak to/about coworkers)
      – (details about how you speak to/about managers/bosses)
      – (details about how you collaborate with coworkers)
      Etc. Etc. for as many goals as you have.

      For me, having an overarching “this is who I want to be and how I want to be perceived” combined with specific ways I can work toward that on a daily basis really helps me keep one eye on the big picture and one eye on the steps to get there. I deal with anxiety, so the big picture is calming to me because I have something to aim for, and the details help me focus and take action.

    10. Lauren*

      I’m in the EXACT same boat. I’ve realized that my behavior is better when I am receiving positive feedback. I work faster, I don’t avoid the projects I don’t care about. And just in general stay focused enough to get my stuff done on time. I still ‘bitch’ about management and come into work late, but I’m having trouble conjuring up the good feedback part.

      My last company was toxic too, but the way I stayed engaged was because I had 12 clients who would give me positive feedback on an ongoing basis. It kept me going. But here, I only have 2 clients and I just don’t get enough positive interactions. I now look to impress, one boss – its not enough, but all I have.

      As for your new gig, determine what ways you can elicit positive feedback by doing good work – from clients, from a boss, from diff teams / co-workers. Find a buddy – someone that makes you feel happy to talk to as well. It helps. All my buddies quit, so I don’t even have an outlet to be completely honest on stuff.

    11. Artemesia*

      I was twice; once a new position and once switched to a different department in the same large organization. I think it is critical to be strategic about impression management for the first three months.

      e.g. in the new position, after losing my job in a merger and taking a part time job, I took on a seemingly minor task and really threw myself into it doing a bang up job. Unknown to me, what looked like a sort of minor task (it involved pulling together a team of people across the organization to work on a new project) was something the organization had struggled with and so when I put 26 people around a table it was like magic to them. This little overachievement led to a great permanent job that played out in long term career advancement.

      In the department transfer, I organized myself to be seen visibly doing a difficult task that most of the team didn’t want to do; I cemented my reputation as the person who had that under control and it served me well as I made progress in that department.

      Pick some tasks you are assigned to do and commit to making them heroic projects, be well organized using lists and avoiding procrastination one task at a time, show up early and leave late — i.e. establish your reputation in those early weeks and the rest will be easier.

    12. designbot*

      I was in this situation coming into the job I’m at now. The hardest thing for me is to stop being so defensive! I’ve noticed I go into CYA mode too quickly, so it takes conscious efforts to view peers and higher-ups as partners with the same goal as me, instead of as enemies whose goal is to bring me down. When something makes me tense up with that dread like I’m about to find myself under a bus, I take a few deep breaths and try to remind myself, “people here don’t do that. What do you actually want to come out of this besides people not to see you at fault?” And I write down bullet points of what I think the ideal resolution to a situation is before I talk to anyone about it–do I want additional staff to help me with something? Do I need a principal to make a call and remind someone of what is and isn’t in our contract? This gets me out of fearful flurry mode and into something more productive.

      1. Your Weird Uncle*

        That’s so helpful, thanks! I’ve been in a few toxic work environments and notice that I do this, too. (Is there anything worse than hearing, ‘Can you come into my office?’ followed by ‘Close the door’? I’m breaking out into a cold sweat just thinking about it….) I’m going to try your suggestions starting today.

        This is why I love this blog!

    13. BeenThere*

      I’ve been there before. I found that a combination of tools such as OneNote and “chunking” (calendar blocks with tasks to complete) was extremely helpful. As you update your OneNote, constantly ask why, which helps to keep you engaged and learning new things.

    14. dr_silverware*

      I think part of it is, you’ve got to understand why you were procrastinating and coming in late. Part of resolving it may be just resetting your habits, but also part of your procrastination may have been anxiety and fear. So for that issue, you’ve also got to make sure you don’t start falling down an anxiety hole. From the start, make sure you are confidently asking the questions you have, keeping your new boss honestly up to date on how you’re doing, and noticing if you start to feel stressed & bad as the same way as before so you can catch it early.

      For my credentials, I was really not doing good work at my old crummy job, in large part because it was stressful and made me feel powerless and incompetent. Now, I do excellent work at my new good job, because it’s not so stressful and I feel competent again.

    15. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

      Congrats on the new position and good luck, Questioner!

      I’m wondering if your username is simply because you are asking a question or because you follow Gretchen Rubin and Questioner is your Tendency, but regardless, as GR says, and evidently there is some research to back this up, starting a new routine is actually a great time to learn new habits. You have a tabula rasa. For me, when I quit my job 9 years ago to go to grad school full time and find a part-time job in my new field, I was excited until I hit the wall of FREAKING OUT. Thankfully, one of my best friends pointed out that nobody knew me and what a benefit that could be. Yes, you want people to know you’re awesome, but you also don’t have the baggage of being the person who rolls in late, etc. etc. You want your first several impressions to be positive, and that in itself can be extremely motivating.

      However, motivation can falter. For me, I vowed my Facebook and Twitter feeds would never show up on my government computer systems, so for 7.5 years in multiple jobs, I have never logged into either of these networks on a system that has my credentials. When you have a streak going, you can be loathe to break it. Also, I iron a lot, even though I don’t like it, but I thankfully don’t have too many dry-clean clothes and so I end up having to pay with my time. But when I started ironing on Sundays and vowed to do all my outfits for the week, not only did I know what I was wearing most days in advance (room to switch out and change my mind – know yourself :) ), but then it led to me prepping more things in advance. Chopping up fruit and putting it in containers. Making sure my keys, badge and glasses are all in the pocketbook I want to use the next day.

      I am hardly perfect at this, but I have noticed that feeling more in control of one section of life leads to improved confidence in another. I falter all the time, because I don’t get enough sleep and eat too much sugar. So, this professional change is all-around beneficial. Figure out the 3-5 top priorities for NewJob Questioner, and sally forth!

    16. Anon the twenty third*

      Also can’t offer much advice, but I’m about to jump into a similar situation. My work is so toxic right now that my grand boss was literally bullying someone who is under me (an admin, being bullied on freaking administrative professional’s day!), so bad HR is likely to get involved, but the truth is we don’t have the power to change much. They’re the ones who bring in money, we’re just the ones who do the work once they bring it in.

    17. Anna*

      One of the things I had to do was not create scenarios in my mind for why my boss would want to talk to me. I had to start keeping an open mind. I would get nervous and upset about a meeting with my boss and then we’d talk and it was about some normal work thing and I would be relieved, but I didn’t like going into those meetings feeling dread. It is not easy to get rid of the paranoia. In fact, I am right now trying not to read too much into the fact that my boss called to see if we could meet today. On a Friday. At the end of the day. In reality, it’s going to be about some press release or letter I need to send out or some event she’s thinking of doing and that is all.

      1. Drago cucina*

        The first thing I try to say to staff after, ‘I need to talk to you’ is ‘It’s not bad.’ I freak out too when someone says, Uber Boss is on the phone.

    18. In-house accountant for an accounting firm*

      Not much advice to offer, just commiseration. I’m much like you in regards to procrastination and coming in late. Things vastly changed at my work last year when two people left my four person department. Suddenly, I went from little work to do, to being overwhelmed with work. I still haven’t really caught up. I tend to let the things I don’t want to do slide until I can’t procrastinate any longer. I try to stay organized, but find it difficult to keep up with it most of the time.

      If I was starting over, I’d plan for organization right away. That’s my advice to you. From the start, organize your time, organize your space. I know there have been past threads asking for recommendations for how to organize tasks. I use OneNote at work and it mostly works for me, but I know there are better applications out there.

    19. StayPuff Marshmellow*

      I have experienced this exact thing except it all happened within the same office/position. For the first 5 years of my previous job we had a revolving door of toxic co-workers. We were a small clinic, so think 8-10 people excluding interns. Those first 5 years I definitely acquired a horrible and embarrassing work ethic, exactly as you describe: late all the time, playing online, bad attitude, etc. Then finally one day the last toxic co-worker was gone and the newest hires were two amazing co-workers that changed the entire environment. I actually loved coming into work, we all got along, we helped each other, inside jokes were shared amongst the entire office, there was catty gossiping. All those years of bad habits quickly changed for me. I was 10-15-20 minutes early everyday, I didn’t care if we had to stay late b/c someone still had a client to finish up with. Overall it was a very positive work environment and I realized I was also the happiest I ‘d ever been outside of working hours.

      I think I changed/improved personally because I really liked my coworkers and didn’t want to disappoint them.

      I guess I share this because, even though you will likely need to be very conscious of your behaviors initially, you may find if your new position/company is an overall better place that you will quickly adapt to practicing better habits all around.

    20. Kindling*

      I wasn’t at my old dysfunctional job quite long enough to pick up many bad habits, but one thing that I think helped me let go of it mentally was to make other lifestyle changes in addition to the new job. I started to make an effort to lose weight a few months into the new job and weirdly, I think it helped. I also got my first pet. I think it made me feel less like “I have a new job” and more like “I have a new life”. It made me feel almost like a different person who had that job, and helped me let go of the couple of bad habits I did develop.

    21. JulieBulie*

      Same thing happened to me about four years. I was surprised to discover that once I was in a healthy working environment again, a lot of my bad habits went away because they were not being triggered anymore.

      For sure you’ll want to tread lightly at first. But try to leave the toxic baggage behind and give yourself a chance to do a good job. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to do your work when you’re not surrounded by crazy-making behavior.

      Good luck!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This, this, this.
        Those things you call habits might actually be protective moves you were using. When you do not need to protect yourself, you simply will stop doing them.

        1. JulieBulie*

          Yes! Protection of my professional reputation, my personal dignity, and even my sanity. I never thought of it that way; I just thought everybody’s negativity was rubbing off on me. Thanks for the insight!

    22. MissDisplaced*

      You have to decide to change. And it also helps if your new boss is great.
      I’ve had that happen. I left a very toxic place where the owner berated us and you felt you couldn’t do anything right. But I had a terrific new manager, and soon didn’t feel bad or feel the need to hide things.

    23. BF50*

      I was in a similar situation at my last job. Super toxic, and I hated it so I wasn’t productive. At my new job, I’m a superstar.

      My manager was all over me for showing up 2 to 5 minutes late, so when I started my current job, I managed to get here a solid 15 minutes early for a month, but no one cares. Really, they do not care. twice I’ve put in my self review that I need to improve at being on time to work, and twice my current manager has laughed and rolled his eyes. At my last job, my start time was 8 and I was consistently there at 8:05. Here I set my own start time of 7:30. My actual arrival time has slowly moved from 7:15 to 7:45. I still try to get here at 7:30, but I have two very small children who slow down my attempts to get out the door. My manager strolls in anywhere from before me until 8:30. As long as my work is done, he does not care.

      As far as the rest, not bitching is much easier when you aren’t in a toxic environment. I didn’t even have to try to stop that. It just stopped because there was nothing to bitch about.

      Not being in a toxic environment makes me more motivated, so it’s easier to prioritize and hit deadlines. Also starting with an empty mail box made it easier to get/stay organized.

      The messing around on the internet and phone is something I could still work on. But I’m getting my work done and I think it’s just more acceptable here since I am getting my work done. I’m not browsing the web when I’m about to miss a deadline.

      I love my new job. It’s a much better cultural fit and also, people don’t suck.

      I still have weird reactions to things. This morning my whole team ended up in a meeting I wasn’t invited to and I freaked out, even though I’m up for a promotion and jsut got a stellar review. Turns out, I wasn’t invited because they were helping another department replicate a project they did before I was hired. My contributions would have been minimal. Totally innocent and not about me.

    24. Orlando*

      Kudos to you for recognising this as a potential problem, and working on it!

      The thing I would immediately focus on is “bitching about management”. The other stuff are important too, but they seem like bad work habits that you can train yourself out of, with practice and patience. But the bitching thing reflects on your interpersonal skills, and it’s more about maturity and professionalism. So that’s what I’d focus on first. (Not that I’d ignore the other things, but the bitching is a huge Do Not Do.)

      Also, re the confidence thing- for me, the two issues seem to be connected. What I mean is, confidence is related to accomplishment. We get boosts in our self-esteem by doing a good job on things. I kind of don’t want to tell you “hang in there and do the best you can and it’ll get better eventually”, because that’s obvious and probably what you were planning to do anyway… but, yeah, that’s what I’d do. And kudos again for being proactive about this.

    25. Bess*

      Congrats on moving on to better places!

      I’ve experienced moving from a destructive, gossipy/complainy environment to a no-gossip one. I’d consider just having a no-gossip rule yourself. I get the function of gossip, but found when I engaged in it myself it only made bad things worse, or even skewed neutral or good things bad. Sometimes it’s nice to reality check with your peers to make sure you’re not the only one who thinks something’s off, but beyond that, it wasn’t typically productive for me or the environment.

      Out of work, consider seriously limiting venting to other people–this really helped me–or don’t make it the first thing you do when you get home or go out with friends–unless you’re just blowing off steam for a few minutes or truly figuring out how to problem-solve (which for me often means realizing what is or isn’t my problem to solve in the first place).

    26. Not So NewReader*

      Don’t throw a shoe at me: Confidence comes in part from carrying ourselves like a professional. You want to feel like a professional so do as a professional does, be on time, turn the internet off, quit beefing to others. Unfairly, the two go hand-in-hand when we act less than professional our confidence melts slowly away. Confidence comes from knowing we will make good choices for ourselves. Decide right here and right now, “I am go to be at my professional best.” Commit to this.

      You can do this, it will be okay. You will be in a new place where everything is new, you will have constant reminders that you want to turn over a new leaf.

      You know, it’s funny/odd, we get around people who are behaving professionally and we just automatically beef up what we are doing. It’s so much easier when you know that others are pulling their own weight, too. If you are like most people all it takes is basic respect, when you start seeing people give you basic respect everything will fall in to place for you.

      Watch your self-care, so you can stay on the ball/sharp. Eat healthy meals, hydrate and get rest. You can do that now because work is not an anchor around your neck anymore. I used to stay up late watching tv because it was the only decent thing that happened all day. When I changed jobs I made rest my priority so I could be on top of the things at work. What I learned was when I am tired it is sooo much easier to procrastinate. When I feel more rested, I can just jump into what needs to be done.

      Bitchin’ to others. I do have one small observation on this. I have a finite amount of energy. I can either expend that energy griping to someone OR I can put that energy into figuring out how to talk it over directly with the person involved. I cannot do both as I get to fn tired. To help myself along on this plan, I made a rule that I cannot say something to other people IF I have NOT already said something to the person directly. This rule works most of the time for me. Yes, I fail, then I brush myself off and get back on track.

      I worked with Jane for about three years. One day Jane commented to me, “You never say anything bad about your boss.” Well, for one thing I have a terrific boss and Jane agreed about that. But the other half of the story is I tell my boss to her face about what worries me. My boss isn’t guessing or hearing it from others. If we think about what we want to say we can usually find a way to say it. (Assuming we have a professional for a boss, of course.)

      1. Orlando*

        Yes! That’s a more fluent/elaborate version of what I was trying to say above, regarding the confidence thing. It stems from our choices and accomplishments. Dysfunctional workplaces limit your choices, and offer no opportunities for accomplishments, or don’t reward them. But you’re in a much better position now, OP. It will just take a little time.

    27. Ramona Flowers*

      Some great advice already and you might not see this but in case you do…

      As others have said, these were coping mechanisms and/or reactions to stress, so try to be kind to yourself – you’ve been doing the best you can.

      I got so burned out in my freelance business that I couldn’t do anything without panicking, procrastinating and staying up all night to try to get things done (often fruitlessly). I could barely handle opening my email inbox. And I’d had some really toxic jobs and managers before.

      Some things that helped me ditch bad habits and stress reactions in awesomenewjob:

      I bought some new stuff, e.g. a new bag and wallet. Partly as a ‘yay new job’ gift to myself but also because I wanted to feel different and changing key things, like the bag I took with me to work, seemed to help with that.

      In my view any organisational system has to be something you’ll actually use, and it should make life easier, not take up an excessive amount of your time once it’s set up. There is no point setting up something electronic if you’re happier with paper, or using a wall planner if you won’t look at it. Which is why I write my tasks on unicorn sticky notes.

      Pick at least one person you’d like to emulate in your job (could be a colleague, a TV character, anything) and get in the habit of asking yourself: what would x do in this situation?

      Make a list of what signs might indicate the beginnings of stress or anxiety for you and what it looks like when things are going well. A few times a day, check in with yourself. How are you feeling? You might find you automatically slip into old habits if you start to feel stressed. I found it helped to try to check in with myself – and to be kind to myself.

      Honestly, changing the environment, people and tasks did most of the work. It might also help to remember this is not who you are. It is simply what you did in an old job where you coped the best you could. It doesn’t mean things will always be that way.

      Good luck and enjoy your new job!

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Also, those ‘bad habits’ are actually classic signs of burnout:

        I wonder if Alison would consider an ask the readers post about burnout? It took me ridiculously long to acknowledge it even the second time around, when I’d previously had a minor stress-related breakdown and theoretically knew all the signs in myself. I thought I was just a ridiculous, awful person – who on earth would have panic attacks just over trying to open their inbox?

        I have basically treated newjob like a wonderful retreat where I’ve come to recover.

    28. Introvert*

      I’m applying for new jobs and feel EXACTLY the same way, thank you for posting this.

  3. any update?*

    Has there been an update from the letter writer who accidentally called her boss’s daughter a whore? I have had so many foot-in-mouth moments and I felt so bad for her when I read her letter because I know how it feels.

    Or from the letter writer who had a report that was accused of racism during the hiring process for discriminating against a black candidate? I think of that letter often too.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Alison said that she had one from the LW who called her boss’s daughter a whore. I’m hoping it gets posted today.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        brb, going to refresh the main page every hour on the hour

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Right??? I’ve been anxiously waiting for it all week! I think she mentioned it in last Friday’s open thread.

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            Alison, I’m pretty sure that on that day, the ad revenue from my clicks alone will buy you a coffee.

          2. PizzaDog*

            This is a hell of a way to get me excited for the weekend to be over before it’s even started!

    2. the other Emily*

      +1 to the letter about the allegedly racist employee. The OP was really engaging in the comments and I hope there was a good outcome.

      1. Observer*

        I also wouldn’t be surprised if the OP hesitates to come back with anything though. That was a worse pile on than most – and also more unfair than typical.

        1. any update?*

          Yeah it was rough. I hope he does though, and that whether he updates or not things turned out well.

        2. Amadeo*

          Yeeeeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t come back either. That was just a disaster.

        3. Wendy Darling*

          I feel bad for him. :/ People had a point that some of the terms he used are sometimes used as a more socially acceptable facade for being racist, but it sounds like that wasn’t what happened there at all (dude was just unprofessional in an interview for a job where speaking professionally is a top priority — whoops) and people would just not let it go.

          You can make a larger theoretical argument about whether privileging one kind of language as “professional” over others is okay, but the fact of the matter is that in the world we actually live in some kinds of speech are considered more socially appropriate in particular contexts and that matters to people.

          1. Amadeo*

            I was pretty horrified the way some people kept going on at him after he explained (over and over and over again) more in depth.

    3. Amy the Rev*

      could someone post a link to that letter? I’m having trouble finding it via the search function.

  4. ms42*

    Anyone have any advice for employer-run job fairs? My local school system has one tomorrow, and I’d like to get a teaching job with them. I’ve never been to a job fair, and don’t really know what to expect (and the archives here are thin on the topic). Do I print out and take resumes? Prepare for interviews? I’m really nervous because this has been a dream of mine for a long time.

    Thanks so much for any advice!

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I used to plan college career fairs, so I can’t give you specifics on employer-run events, but maybe I can be helpful:

      Yes, print out resumes. Dress professionally. You will likely have a few minutes to speak to the recruiter at each station/booth — use that time to learn about what positions are open, express your interest in the roles or organization (if you’re genuinely interested), and give a very quick overview of your qualifications. Be conscientious of the other job-seekers around you and don’t overstay your welcome at each booth. If the booth is empty, feel free to continue the conversation. If there’s a crowd forming, give a few minutes of your time, share your resume, and move on to the next booth. The recruiter likely has a system where s/he makes notes about you on your resume to know whether or not to follow up with you after the job fair. Ask for a business card so that you can follow up with the recruiter on anything that you’re particularly interested in.

      Good luck!

      1. Kate*

        I was going to reply (I’ve planned employer-run job fairs), but Not a Real Giraffe nailed it. Just do all of this.

        If you’re not sure how to introduce yourself succinctly, a good template is, “Hi, I’m __. I have a background in ___, and I’m looking for a position in ___.”

    2. N.J.*

      It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a job fair, much less an employer sponsored one, but I would definitely suggest bringing printed resumes. How many will depend on how many folks you are talking to. Dress in interview or dressy business casual depending on the industry. Though I be never had a full blown interview st a job fair, I would suggest being prepared to describe yourself in a sort of elevator pitch but more along the lines of how you would answer why you would be good for the job and background etc. Look through the positions listed for the fair or on the company’s career site before the fair to have some idea of what you are looking for there.

    3. Judy (since 2010)*

      I represented my company at a community job fair last fall. We took paper resumes that matched our needs (engineering and AP/AR). We were also sent afterwards all of the resumes in electronic format. You may want to bring a thumb drive with your resume just in case.

      One job fair locally that was run by 3 companies actually did 15 minute interviews with the attendees. They had small cubbies for the interviewers to use.

      Along with what Not a Real Giraffe says, prepare a 30 second summary speech and practice it. (That old “elevator speech” thing.)

    4. Antilles*

      The best advice I can give you is that most job fairs are 98% “do they like you” and “can you make a good personal connection”. Some companies actually do formal, detailed resume reviews and interview scheduling on the spot, but that’s fairly uncommon. Instead, most employers will take your resume and quick-skim it (to make sure you’re somewhere in the ballpark), but they’ll really focus on chatting with prospective employees much more than any sort of formal review…and then when they get back to the office, they have dozens (hundreds?) of resumes to sort through. So your goal here is to be remembered as the likable professional you are.
      One specific tip that I like to use is to write down something I discussed with each company so the follow-up can be something more than a generic “good to meet you John, would love to talk more about Mega Corp”. If you can reference something in particular you discussed, this (a) makes you seem interested and (b) brings you back to the front of their mind.

    5. Pineapple Incident*

      A friend of mine is a 3rd year teacher starting this fall as a 5th grade teacher- he got his job in February at one of these job fairs. He’d been talking to the principal of the school he was interested in prior to the event, but he was interviewed there and offered a job on the spot. I’m not sure how your system’s fair is set up (whether there are interview slots or not) but I’d definitely come prepared to talk about yourself, dress as if you were showing up for an interview, and definitely bring resumes.

      Good luck! I hope it works out for you!

    6. Betty Darling*

      The school district where I live has these once a year, and they do a fair amount of interviewing and hiring on the spot, as well as resume collecting for future interviews. I would be prepared for an interview, bring copies of your resume, and think about a few high-quality, succinct ways to indicate your skills and qualities as an employee. Good luck!

    7. blackcat*

      I have done the teacher cattle call job fair thing before. Here’s my advice.

      1) Yes, print resumes, also photo copies college transcripts and your teaching credential. Paperclip it all together in packets, with your resume on top. A post-it with “[Name], [subject/grade level]” on it isn’t a bad idea and it’s easy for them to rip off if they don’t want it.

      2) Yes, be prepared for an on the spot interview, though it is unlikely.

      3) Wear a suit.

      4) Wear sensible, comfy shoes. You will be standing a lot.

      5) Bring a snack & water. You don’t want to be thirsty or hangry doing an on the spot interview.

      1. Nallomy*

        I second all of this advice, having been to a couple of teaching job fairs in the past few years.

    8. New Bee*

      Do you have a credential, or would you be doing a program? If you know what grades/subjects you’ll be eligible to teach, check the district website for a list of schools so you can aim to hit those tables. Speaking from experience in an urban district, there may be mini-interviews where they ask you about prior experiences working in urban settings, your philosophy about teaching and learning (in general), etc. You probably won’t spend more than 5-10 minutes at a table, depending on the crowd.

      A job fair was where I got my first teaching job–good luck and let us know how it goes!

    9. Debbie Downer*

      My two big pet peeves with job fairs are:

      1. When you go to all the trouble of dressing up and bringing resumes and then there a couple of people sitting at a table and they refer you to their company website and won’t even take a copy of your resume and they really don’t even know anything about current openings at their own company and couldn’t even provide you with any worthwhile job information. I don’t know why they even bother showing up at a job fair.

      2. When you go to a job fair and instead find booths or tables manned by colleges or other job-training institutions. I find this offensive, inappropriate and kind of like deceptive. If I want to get more education I certain wouldn’t be looking for it at a job fair.

      I’ve just about given up all hope of finding anything worthwhile at a job fair.

    10. School Admin*

      Yes. I hire for a school system and occasionally attend these job hiring events. Definitely bring copies of your resume. In my area there will be 20 schools at the event. You may have access to information about what schools are hiring for your position.

      Dress formally (suit) and neatly. I will occasionally have a brief interview with a candidate, but it depends upon the set up of the event, how many positions I’m hiring for, whether I have a coworker with me and how rare qualified candidates are for the specific position.

    11. ms42*

      Thank you SO MUCH, everyone! This information was enormously helpful, and I feel much more optimistic about the possibility of changing careers. Most of the principals to whom I spoke said they weren’t doing teacher interviews at the fair so they could have a team do the interview (thereby increasing the likelihood of a good fit), and one went as far as to check into my availability to be interviewed. AAM and the commenters here have been a great help.

      (In a moment of sheer WOW, I ran into a teacher who remembered me. From 1992.)

  5. Helen*

    I just want to send Alison some love. Thanks for all the work you put into Ask A Manager (the work on the bird phobia update yesterday as an example).

    1. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      I second this! You have so many readers and people who comment it must be hard to monitor!

    2. SophieChotek*

      Yes thank you! I’ve learned so much from your letters and insight, as well as the collective wisdom, experience, and insights of the commenters here.

    3. dear liza dear liza*

      Moderating all those comments must’ve been so time-consuming (and probably a bit soul sucking, when handling negative comments). You are greatly appreciated, Alison.

    4. Parenthetically*

      Happy to join the love-fest. Alison, you are SO appreciated. This is easily the best advice site on the internet, and one of the best comments sections I’ve ever participated in (RIP The Toast — I’m sure there are other refugee Toasties about the place).

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Agreed! (Although I was always more of an old-school Hairpin loyalist than a true Toastie.)

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s been a dreadful week, so this is much appreciated! I have two more weeks of horror, and then I’m going to take such a long nap at the end of it.

        1. Bibliovore*

          Wishing you calm moments and serenity as you face two more weeks of horror. Its been quite a bear lately. Helpful to me. I can do anything for twelve hours that would appall me if I had to do it for a lifetime. And then start again the next day.

      1. Susie*

        I hope you get to rest and relax soon. Know how much we appreciate you. Without your advice and this site I would not be where I am now.

        1. Windchime*

          Me, either. I used all the good advice I’ve gotten from here over the years plus Alison’s book to find myself a new job in a matter of a couple of months. I’m very, very grateful.

      2. MillersSpring*

        I used your advice about workplace giving to comment today on an FB post by NBC News. Apparently the Tate Modern leadership asked its employees to donate to a fund to give a small boat to their retiring director.

      3. Sarah*

        This is my first comment on your site, but I thought I’d tell you how much I love your book. I checked it out from the library, and then bought it, so I can highlight sections. I am confident that your tips on interviewing are a big part of why our last hire is turning out so well

    6. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      Absolutely appreciated! Thank you so much, Alison, for making this place as amazing as it is!

    7. Athena X*

      I have learned so much for this site as I re-entered the workforce after being a SAHM. Thank you, Allison, for all you do to create this excellent resource.

      1. Anon for Today*

        Mostly commenting here, because, username! Tamora Pierce! Tortall! Beloved books and characters.

        1. Keladry of Mindelan*

          Thank you! It’s my most beloved series. Always happy to find another fan <3

    8. Observer*

      Yes. For all the issues, this is still one of my favorite places to visit. That’s a huge credit to Alison.

    9. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

      Hear, hear! Thank you, Alison. You’ll never know just how much you’ve helped me. The comments on the site lately have been astronomical, and I can’t imagine you’re not pulling 20-hour days to manage it. Best wishes.

    10. Birdbrain*

      I was going to come out of lurkdom to say just this, but you beat me to it! I have learned so much from this site (both the original AAM answers and the comments) and really appreciate it. I know there have been frustrations with the comments lately, but even with that AAM seems to be one of the most civilized places on the Internet. I expect that’s largely due to Alison’s dedication!

    11. Spelliste*

      Yes!! This site not only makes my work life saner, it improves the lives of everyone around me who gets secondhand AAM advice. :)

    12. Tedious Cat*

      Yes, thank you! This site is a treasure and I can only imagine how much work it takes to keep it that way.

    13. Office Mercenary*

      YES. This site isn’t just a learning resource; it’s a community. Alison’s excellent advice and incredible work managing the comments section keep it going! I really, really appreciate your dedication to civility and dialogue. The past few weeks must have been exhausting on so many levels, and I’m sorry for that, but thank you for everything you do!

    14. the other Emily*

      Yes! Ask A Manager has helped me so much in my working life. I can’t even put into words how much so. Thanks for everything you do Alison :)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Jaydee! I keep meaning to tell you: For some reason all your comments the past few weeks are ending up in my comment spam folder. I keep releasing them and trying to whitelist you and I haven’t figured out yet what’s happening. I’m aware of it and working on it though!

    15. Antilles*

      Cheers. I have friends who are looking for new jobs or who’ve had work issues and I point them all here because the advice is *significantly* better and more practical than most other sources.

    16. I'm Not Phyllis*

      YES! This is easily one of the most useful websites on the innerwebs and I so appreciate everything that Alison does, and everything the community brings to it.

    17. N.J.*

      Alison and thus sure are amazing. Just wanted to chime in, as it is so rare to find this level of courtesy and engagement, even on some of the rougher posts.

    18. Jules the First*

      Oh yes, Alison – you changed my life and my team’s lives (along with your awesome commentariat). Having never had a manger, I had no idea how to be one (let alone a good one); you’ve taught me everything I know.

      Part of me wants to recommend this site to my current nightmare of a manager…except that then I’d have to stop venting about her here.

    19. Ramona Flowers*

      Yes! You helped me get my dream job while also teaching me there was no such thing :D

    20. LizB*

      + a million! AAM has been an invaluable source of advice for me as a new grad, a job seeker, an individual contributor, and now as a manager. Your personal advice and the culture in the comments section that you work so hard to moderate are so wonderful.

    21. Djuna*

      Yes! A thousand thank yous, Alison.
      I know the moderation lately must have been like a third job for you, so extra special thanks for that. And may your well-overdue and hard-earned nap be blissfull!

    22. New Window*

      Piling on for the well-deserved love fest! Alison, this website is amazing. It has kept me (and hundreds, thousands?) of people sane in difficult work and job search situations, is the single most educational work resource I’ve yet to see, and has one of the best commentariats I’ve seen in a very. very. long time–and we know that that’s because of the work you put into it. Thank you!

    23. Gov Mgr*

      Seriously. I parrot Alison verbatim sometimes, especially when faced with difficult managerial situations, and it has only worked out well each time. I sent relevant questions to the managers below me fairly regularly and this site is always my first go-to when I need a fresh perspective on a challenge.

    24. AnonAl*

      I just wanted to reply to this as well – I’ve been lurking on this site for a long time and it’s been so helpful! All the advice here helped me approach my boss about developing my role – and I’m now getting a promotion into a new position I’m helping to create, doing all the most interesting stuff in my current job plus a bit more :) Thanks so much for all the advice you give!

      1. Anna Held*

        I was desperate for a job, had one interview, and all the questions were….the ones in your interview booklet. The exact ones. The ones for which you had said to have prepared answers written out and rehearsed. I am now happily employed. You’re doing so much to make people’s lives better, you’re basically doing all the work of a non-profit singlehandedly. I mean that very seriously — there are lots of non-profits out there to help people get jobs or job skills, and you’re doing that at an international level.

  6. Tuckerman*

    Has anyone attended a fantastic workplace diversity/inclusion training? If so, what made it great?

    1. GalFriday*

      We had a great microagressions training here a few months ago. I think what made it great were a few different factors:
      – hiring a consultant who does this work full time
      – having people in the room who took it seriously and were self-reflective without being judgmental of others
      – a strong mix of individual reflection, group activities, and discussion (one of the group activities made us think about the assumptions we make about people based on a few descriptive factors)

    2. PB*

      I’ve been to good ones and bad ones. Some things that make good training:

      *If at all possible, have the training be lead by an actual diversity expert. This might involve bringing someone from outside the company, but it makes all the different. Nothing is worse than having a white person whitesplain racism, for example.
      * Make sure that people know why it’s important. Too many diversity efforts come across as “We’re doing this because we have to.” Tell people the goals you’re hoping to achieve.
      * Encourage attendance from everyone in the company. Part of me wants to say to make it mandatory, but that can backfire. On the other hand, with diversity training, there’s a common problem of having the same people attend every one, while everyone else stays at their desk. That core group that’s attending is often already involved and concerned. This leads to having a small group of very informed employees, and a much larger group of less informed employees. Whatever you can do to encourage a large attendance will be well worth it.
      * Leave lots of time for Q&A, but avoid role playing. Everyone hates role playing.

      1. Juli G.*

        I don’t know about your example. A diversity expert, yes. But diversity encompasses a lot and I don’t think that only an older, queer, disabled Muslim woman of color can speak about diversity.

        1. Juli G.*

          You know what? I don’t like how snarky my comment was. I guess my better point was that true diversity training is not just about race and that’s important to remember for a company training

          1. Been There, Done That*

            I didn’t read your comment as snarky so much as refreshingly straightforward (although it might have had a sharper edge than you meant). I’m fed up with one-sided “diversity training” with an undertone of “this one group is bad because they discriminate against everybody else.” Diversity reminds me of the set theory we learned in elementary school math–there are many many sets, and one individual can belong to more than one of them.

            1. BadMovieLover*

              I”m with you, and I say that as a person from a minority demographic. I think it’s fantastic that companies are taking inclusion and diversity seriously, but I would seriously question any effort that undermined any demographic as incapable of teaching or fully participating in such endeavor.

              At the same time, I sympathize with the uncomfortable feeling of being patronized by supposed “allies” who turn on you when your opinions as a minority person may differ from the overall narrative.

        2. TL -*

          I think she was trying to say, “don’t have a high ranking employee/rando from HR scramble around on the internet and give you their perspective on racism” which could often end up in whitesplaining/mansplaining/ect… Rather, hire someone who is an expert, regardless of how they fall on the diversity spectrum.

          I know my college had an able-bodied person come in and do a training where everyone picked a disability and the group took 10 minute walk across campus, thinking how “their” disability would affect this really short stroll. The facilitator pointed out a lot of issues we wouldn’t have noticed – cobblestones and mobility aids, for example – and asked how we would deal and then gave whatever the standard workaround was for a disabled person.
          She didn’t need to be disabled to do that well, but she did need to have an intimate understanding of what environmental factors could limit someone’s mobility.
          It was much more impactful than if someone had just talked about the fact that the campus is set up to be walked and the elevator in the chemistry building was unreliable, which I’m guessing is what a non-expert would have gone to.

      2. CM*

        The most effective training I ever attended focused on scenarios that were very true to life, detailed, and specific to my industry and work environment. Also, the scenarios were not black and white; there was a lot of disagreement in the room about how to handle them. For example, one of the scenarios involved a mid-level associate (this was at a large law firm) deciding when to announce her pregnancy, and the partner’s decision about whether to assign her to a big case. This hit home for many of us in the room, and it was helpful to be able to talk about it and bring it out into the open.

        I agree with the “no role-playing” advice. Not only does it put people on the spot and produce unpredictable results, but also, being able to objectively discuss fictional people allowed us to have a less defensive discussion.

        To PB’s point, this was a mandatory training; I doubt anybody would have attended if it was not mandatory. And as GalFriday said above, this was conducted by a professional consultant who came in from outside the company.

        1. Tuckerman*

          I think that allowing disagreement and choosing relevant scenarios is key. My issue with my experience of diversity training is being told there is a set way to handle things and there is no room for discussion or advocating for a different position.

          1. Office Mercenary*

            I once attended a training that wasn’t perfect (it was part of intake for new hires and included diversity and sexual harassment together, which are such broad topics I think they deserve their own discussions, but there were time constraints and I understand why they chose to combine them) but I really appreciated the theme that reasonable people acting in good faith can disagree about boundaries. There were examples that started with scenarios that were obviously inappropriate for the workplace, but then moved on to trickier things where it was easy to see different points of view.

            Example: Hanging a picture of a pinup model in a bikini in one’s cubicle is not okay. However, what about vacation photos? Let’s say Jane just got back from vacation, had a wonderful time, and wants to savor the memory by putting a photo of her and her family on the beach in her cube. They are all wearing swimsuits in the photo. She absolutely is not trying to make anyone uncomfortable, but someone else in the office might be uncomfortable seeing a photo of a coworker less than fully dressed. Or they might come from a culture where people don’t show that much skin in public and partial nudity more generally makes them uncomfortable. Our discussion concluded that it would be best for Jane to proactively avoid putting the photos somewhere they would be very visible, but she’s not a terrible person if it doesn’t occur to her. The other person should assume good faith and talk to her directly before escalating the situation.

            I also liked that that employers mainstreamed diversity into other trainings. This was in part because of our city’s demographics but because it ended up being relevant to a lot of other themes. For example, my department often provided food for the public on short notice, but we often didn’t know the dietary needs of the people we were serving until we got there. We had to have on call vendors and emergency rations for several different religious groups, and be ready in the event that a community has extra-strict rules (e.g. kosher vs glatt kosher). We tried to use neighborhood vendors whenever possible, partially to support the local economy but also to find culturally-appropriate and familiar foods. We’d sometimes get donations from local restaurants and had to navigate issues like impartiality by getting enough donations for everyone to share equally. For example, one emergency shelter had Korean, Hasidic, and West Indian clients. We provided kosher food, bought West Indian food from across the street, and a Korean restaurant offered to donate food for the Korean clients. We had to explain that we can’t offer Korean food only to the Korean clients without providing it to the other clients as well, so the restaurant generously provided enough for everyone, and there was a fun buffet with different cuisines that evening. I appreciate that they had come up with a policy beforehand, and it avoided issues that would have come from giving one group cold sandwiches while someone else gets hot bulgogi.

      3. Tuckerman*

        Agree with your last point! I’ve been in trainings where role playing or partner exercises almost seem like they’re being used purely to make us uncomfortable. We had an exercise where we had to be rude/indifferent to a partner (the partner didn’t know we had been instructed to be rude). So many people got uncomfortable, and some refused to do it.
        To your first point, do you think being white precludes someone from being a diversity and inclusion expert? Or were you just making a point about how some white diversity and inclusion instructors are not competent and that does more harm?

        1. PB*

          My first point was poorly expressed. I advocate having training sessions led by experts, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or other status. Being white does not preclude a person from being a diversity or inclusion expert. One of the best training sessions I’ve attended was on racial diversity, and was led by a team of instructors: two white, and two people of color.

          On the flip side, I have seen non-experts spend 10 minutes Googling and try to offer a session on diversity. That does more harm than good, regardless of intent. I may have been projecting, since I’ve only seen white diversity and inclusion instructors do this.

      4. Ramona Flowers*

        Ours is mandatory. Which is helpful if and only if it’s part of a bigger picture. So at my employer there’s a criteria relating to diversity written into everyone’s job description, along the lines of how we try to make our workplace and services as welcoming and accessible as we can and staff are expected to contribute to this aim.

        Our job adverts are also pretty good – we don’t ask for anything unnecessary e.g. no asking for a degree if it’s enough for someone to show they have certain skills, it’s made clear that you can use examples from inside and outside work in your application as transferable skills are taken into account, we advertise in an interesting range of places e.g. community centres, not just online job boards, and so on and so on.

    3. Alice*

      One recently was pretty good (despite a bad start when the trainer got the day wrong and didn’t show up) — it approached the material from many perspectives and different modalities (small group discussions, audio-visual, reading, lecture, for different segments). It also helped that it was opt-in, so in all the discussions and other interactions, you knew that other participants were genuinely interested in learning and growing on the topic.

      I’m dreading an upcoming one because of the heavy-handedness with which it’s being rolled out. People in my department don’t think that lack of respect is a problem in our workplace (I know from public surveys, not just my personal opinion), so messaging about “learning how to handle disrespectful behavior” makes me think, “Hey, why do I have to spend 2.5 hours on this?” But it wouldn’t get my back up if the message were “learning additional ways to demonstrate respect.” I guess it’s the difference between assuming that people are unprofessional and need remedial help and assuming that people are professional but can still benefit from new perspectives.

    4. Anna*

      Great question! I have a related one. For those fantastic trainings, how did you find the person to do it? I’m looking at planning a gathering for people in our field and this would be the subject of the training (with a bent toward culture sensitivity and awareness in education) and I have no idea where to start.

    5. Jillociraptor*

      Following this with interest. Thanks for the question.

      I would argue that a training is only as useful as the company values that precipitated it AND the commitments made following it to continue to emphasize the responsibility of everyone in the company to hold themselves accountable for learning and growing in their commitment to diversity. People in the majority or who benefit from systems of oppression don’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about the systems that advantage them and disadvantage others, so while one training, even if really good, can plant a good seed, I don’t think it can fully set someone up to go down a different path.

      1. Beckie*

        I agree with this completely. My organization had a diversity/inclusion “training” session about a year ago, run by an external consultant who is experienced in providing this sort of training to our industry. But I think one of the reasons that people really opened up during it is that our organization does value diversity, and has demonstrated a commitment to diversity at all staff levels, including senior management. If you’re not starting from a hostile baseline it’s easier to move forward.

    6. Darth Brooks*

      We had a good one that involved training on generational differences. Identifying stereotypes and how to avoid bias.

    7. Bess*

      I work with tech, so I’m thinking less about group trainings and more about doing things like asking people go to without using a mouse for a day (using only a keyboard), or blocking their screen and learning how to navigate the computer with a screen reader. For the majority of internet and tools it’s awful. Helps people “get” why we really do need to make sure captions are on everything, etc.

    8. Charlotte Collins*

      Not exactly, but I’ve started working for a state government, and they do training on Trauma-Informed Care. It really opens your eyes to why people might behave certain ways. (Since members of different groups are more likely to have had adverse experiences – or experienced trauma – I think it counts as diversity.) It really shows how things that seem little can affect people for longer than you’d think. And the training included language for addressing behaviors that could be related to trauma.

    9. A. Schuyler*

      I’ve attended diversity and inclusion training for LGBTI and cultural diversity, and really enjoyed both. I think some of things we do well are:
      – The sessions are run by staff volunteers who are part of the communities in question, and they come from all over the organisation. One of the guys in my team even facilitated a session during his first six months as a new grad.
      – The focus isn’t “you’re all insensitive jerks, stop calling people mean names” but more “this is what people face, here are some facts you might not know, maybe try making less assumptions about people”. It makes it a really nice and respectful experience.
      – It’s a huge initiative for the organisation. Lots of senior leadership teams have gone through the training and it’s seen as a part of basic training (in our area, at least).
      – It’s not just training. There are volunteer employee groups for the LGBTI community, cultural diversity, age diversity and disability as well as lots of women’s groups. All of the groups hold regular events with pretty high-profile speakers (internal and external) and they’re all well respected within the organisation.

    10. Ramona Flowers*

      I went on one I thought would be cringey and awful but it really wasn’t. It helped that we had a proper expert do it as others have mentioned, and he told us there were no stupid questions and it was okay to ask absolutely anything at all. The most helpful part for me was explaining the difference between positive action and positive discrimination, and how you actually go about positive action.

  7. Zee*

    How far in advance in the job interview process should you disclose start date limitations? Due to the nature of my graduate program and assistantship, I could only start a new job after the end of a semester. Should I wait until I get an offer to negotiate start date? Or should I tell them upfront, maybe during the phone screen, that I won’t be able to start until August 1st (or whatever the date is)?

      1. Kindling*

        Because it might make them not consider your application because they’re thinking they want someone to start in May. So they discount you. Then the hiring process ends up getting delayed and drawn out and by the time they’re actually really to hire someone, it’s suddenly July, and actually, they could have considered you, but by then you’re already long forgotten.

        I say this as someone who probably would just put it in the cover letter to save everyone some time if it isn’t going to work, but I understand the hesitance to do it. I think phone screen isn’t a bad idea.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      It really depends on your industry norms. Generally though, the higher up and more education you have, the further out you look for jobs. Absent a posted start date or an industry convention, you should assume that they’re looking to hire within a month. The phone screen is a good time to bring it up if you make it to that stage.

      1. Zee*

        Thanks! If it’s of any relevance, I am a PhD student and the industry is a staff role in higher education. These jobs prefer candidates with Master’s degrees (which I have) and a certain skillset (which I mostly have).

        1. dear liza dear liza*

          Are you talking about the spring semester? Like, mid-May? I guarantee no one in higher ed would expect you to start before the end of this semester. (And it will be a minor miracle if they finish interviewing by then.)

          1. Zee*

            Agreed! But I am talking about the summer semester, which ends in July. If that doesn’t work out, then I would have to wait until the end of the fall semester.

        2. TL -*

          In higher education, it’s not a big deal (especially if you’re still in school and that’s apparent on your resume.)

          Also agreeing, it’s a minor miracle if they get it done before the end of the semester.

    2. SaviourSelf*

      When I’m interviewing people, I will often ask when they would be available to start if they were offered a position. This would be when I would expect you to tell me of your restrictions. Depending on the position, it may or may not matter. For positions where I’m hiring someone straight out of school, I would not be surprised with an answer about starting after the end of the semester and the semester ending around DATE X

      1. Zee*

        Thanks for the insight! Yes, I would definitely disclose if asked about it at any point. If it’s relevant, I won’t quite be hired “straight out of school” because I would continue my program part-time. I have that flexibility as a PhD student who is done with courses.

    3. LadyKelvin*

      I wouldn’t worry too much about it since you are presumably telling your potential employers that you are currently a grad student, so they won’t expect you to start right away. I interviewed for the job I have now in September but they couldn’t make me an offer until I had officially finished my PhD, so in December I got the offer and February I started working. (The delay between the offer and the start date was because I had to move from east coast to HI, not exactly something I could pull off in a few days, even then my stuff and husband didn’t come till several months later.)

    4. MT*

      Personally, I’ve started my cover letter with something along the lines of “… upon the completion of my graduate program this August.” I’ve still successfully landed interviews, and the subject of my timeline was already on the table, so we all started on the same page.

  8. Anxious newbie*

    I start a new job in a few weeks and I am a giant bundle of nerves right now. I feel excited and anxious and hopeful and nervous and so much more. Does anyone else get new job jitters?

    There are a few things that genuinely make me nervous (leaving a really bad job right now and nervous that this one will be just as bad, moving into a new field and anxious it will be a bad choice) but I feel like I get all these crazy feelings right before a new job (or a new internship or class even). Does anyone else feel that way and how do you combat it?

    1. Amadeo*

      All. The. Time. Even if I’m leaving a horrible place and it’ll be a relief to be gone I’m always on the verge of terrified when making a job transition.

      I don’t know that I’ve ever combated it very well to be honest. I just kind of sheepishly muddle along until I’ve gotten to know my new supervisor and coworkers and the work flow. It usually lasts a week or so, but I got such a huge raise in switching jobs last year that I also suffered a serious case of impostor syndrome too, I was not just nervous about the change, I was also nervous that I’d sit down to work and they’d discover I knew nothing, Jon Snow, and fire me immediately. Fortunately I caught on just as fast here as I tend to do everywhere else and things are going well now, but I totally get where you’re coming from!

    2. Parenthetically*

      Yes! I’m just finishing up my 9th year teaching and I still even get new school year jitters! I basically cope by making to-do lists and goal lists and lists of my lists (only a mild exaggeration) to get my entire brain down on paper. But it’s SO normal!

    3. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      Yes. Definitely been there. Just remind yourself that They chose you out of other candidates. Don’t compare NewJob to OldJob. You are starting on a clean slate. Give yourself time to learn the particulars of your new job and to learn about your new co-workers. For me, after the first two weeks, the nervousness subsides. You’ll be fine and CONGRATS on your new job.

      1. KR*

        This, and I like to remind myself that they’re not expecting me to learn everything right away. I’ll just take it one day at a time and do the work as they put it in front of me. I just started a new job, so I can commiserate.

      2. Windchime*

        Yes….they WANT you. They want it to work out. Be patient with yourself and give yourself a little time to adjust to your new routine and new coworkers. I started a new job 6 months ago and yes, it felt strange at first but everyone has been exceedingly friendly and now I’m settled into a new routine with new work friends and a kick-ass boss. You will do great!

    4. Bossy Magoo*

      Whenever I’m anxious/nervous about something I disassociate myself from the situation (I’ve been told that serial killers do this to reconcile their terrible actions with themselves, but I promise I only use it for good). I just remove myself from the situation and observe it as an outsider, like I’m watching a TV show or a movie. Sometimes I force myself to think to myself, “This is a compelling episode! I wonder what’s going to happen!” just to drive the point home. I’ve used this before interviews, before races, when I have to enter a social situation where I don’t know anyone, before presentations, before getting on a scary roller coaster…it sounds silly but it’s been an extremely successful coping strategy for me.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        I do that too. If something is freaking me out, I will straight-up LARP as a calm, confident professional. This isn’t an interview, it’s an improv scene – here’s my character, who is awesome and has no impostor syndrome whatsoever. It sounds pants-on-head crazy, but it works.

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        I sometimes have an internal voice over which helps in the same kind of way. I feel slightly less mad now…

  9. Tempest*

    Anyone have any tips to stay sane while you work your notice but are at bec stage with the place and your immediate colleague?

    Also, they sent a survey type exit review and I was honest about why I’m leaving, IE that colleague is never at his desk and always on his phone (and doing things on the phone he shouldn’t be as he’s very shifty about hiding his screen.) Would you have been honest or just quietly escaped? I’m second guessing myself!

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      Presumably if the company was capable of responding well to feedback, you would have shared the issue and had it fixed before you got to BEC status. There’s not much upside to sharing and only potential downsides.

    2. MWKate*

      I think if you can be honest without sounding petty (which is what I always worry about when I’m at the BEC stage) and frame it as real workplace issues, you should. Whether or not they address it is up to them.

    3. PB*

      I had a similar experience with my last job. I was honest in my exit survey; I didn’t name my colleague directly, but the people reading it were going to know it was her.

      As for staying sane, just keep reminding yourself that in X days, you’ll never have to see this person again. You’re going to your fabulous new job, and they’re going to be stuck there. My former colleagues were awful to me during my (6 week!) notice period. This strategy worked beautifully.

      1. Tempest*

        I only have the one, so yeah, no doubts. It asked how they lost me so I told them honestly. Colleague is never there/always on cell phone, they takes pictures of their screen and snap chat them out of the business with some redacted details and the fact I’m pretty sure they’ve taken my picture/is often talking about me due to how they fidget and hide their screen which has made me very uncomfortable over the last several months. I mean, I told boss all this stuff and boss chose not to tackle it. It’s not news to boss at least.

        I guess I just reflected on what the customers are losing now that I’m going and it’s the person who knows them, cares about the job and goes above and beyond. They lost me because boss wouldn’t manage a slacker. I guess they could have an ongoing issue filling the chair if colleague is the same going forward.

        I shall keep reminding myself not long now until I never have to see colleague again. I get a nice week off in between jobs – new job is going to require some heavy duty travel for the first few weeks so I want to get my house sorted out – and what happens here after I go won’t be my problem.

    4. Paxton*

      Have you mentioned it before your exit interview? My past 2 employers were shocked by my reasons for leaving (both various forms of workplace bullying) and told me that I should have said something sooner. I pointed out that I had multiple times and their offer to fix it now couldn’t be trusted just to keep me around.

    5. MicroManagered*

      I recently left a job with a totally toxic, insane micromanager and I’d been BEC with her for like a year. I started writing out letters to AAM during my notice period. The first one was a real one I was going to send in, but I found that, by the time I was done writing it out, I had answered my own question. So I started doing it more often. Something about just putting my boss’s actions into words was itself therapeutic, but also targeting my thoughts toward a specific person/community, whose advice I value and whose thinking I’m familiar with enough to anticipate, was very very helpful during my notice period!! Try it!

      1. Thlayli*

        I often find that writing down an issue and/or thinking about how I would give advice to someone else with the same problem helps me see the obvious solution.

        Sometimes my own advice turns out not to be the best advice tho lol. So getting a second opinion is valuable to.

      2. Tempest*

        The hard part of it all for me is I LOVE my manager. I think my manager is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and on a personal level we’re good. But my manager freely admits that managing people is not a strong suit. Manager is conflict avoidant (me too but I just force myself to tackle things because they need to be done and I refuse to allow a low bar to be set), doesn’t like hard conversations, and is really poor at just setting high standards and holding people to them because sometimes that means hard conversations.

        Manager kind of lucked out with me as my anxiety makes me really detail driven with really high standards, ultimately to avoid making a mistake and triggering my anxiety, but I guess at least I channel it to a useful area? I don’t need her to hold me to high standards because my own are so impossibly high, I need to be held down a bit and reminded not everyone sees the need for a bar that high because my bar is unreasonable, thank you anxiety.

        I think I just need to keep saying only three weeks to go, and then two and then one to myself to remind me that I’ve taken initiative and found a new role. It was a hard old slog and it was hard to get the courage to push out of this comfort zone. Yes, I’m not happy here, but I am comfortable. I know everyone here, I know the customers and the commute and it’s all easy. I will admit I’m petty enough to occasionally rub it in to everyone that my new job pays better, has better hours, better benefits and is a better commute for me, giving me back even more time. I shall just try to take comfort from the fact good things are coming to she who waited :)

    6. Been There, Done That*

      An attorney once advised me not to fill out exit interviews/questionnaires because they can come back to bite you. I haven’t done one since.

      1. Tempest*

        I’m in the UK and have a union behind me, though I’m not in a unionized role, I’ve kept paying my dues from a previous role. Legal action doesn’t scare me and as long as I get a good reference out of current manager now, I hope to not need to move on again anytime in the near future.

  10. Networking Woes*

    Riddle me this, AAM community, about getting jobs through personal connections. In all my job searching, I was told numerous times that it’s more often who you know that trumps and gives you an edge into a job. Well now it’s happened and I have very mixed feelings about it.

    Next week I start a job where a connection of mine had a connection inside the company. My connection talked to their connection and helped me get in for an interview. After typical background checks and follow up questions, I was offered a job and I accepted. I know full well my connection’s connection likely tipped the scales in my favor. As a long time reader of AAM, I have read the stories of nepotism that have crippled the workplace (in fact, I’m leaving a job full of it, with lots of people skating by because they’re BFFs with the boss). I don’t plan to do that at all; I want to work hard, prove myself, and advance on my own. So why do I feel like this is a failure?

    I searched for a new job for a long time with no bites. I know the odds are against me, as I’m in a field with lots of people searching for the same things as me and I have little experience to my name. I know it’s an uphill battle that all are facing and any advantage in your favor is good. But I still feel bad that I didn’t get this job entirely on my own. And I fear being hated by my new coworkers for it, that I’ll be viewed as someone who got through simply because of their connections. My connection doesn’t see it as a problem. He told me he’s done the same thing dozens of times for friends and relatives, hired a connection’s connection to help them out. He said this kind of networking is very common. But I’m still uncertain. I’m so anxious that I’m comforting myself with contingency plans if I need to leave new job in a hurry. It’s not the mindset I want to have going into this new job but I can’t deny its there. I fear the other kind of stories I’ve read on AAM; of people working their buns off but their connections make them hated by coworkers, that it will happen to me and I’ll have to leave.

    TL:DR – Why is networking/connections considered a common practice but causes the new hires to be looked down on? And should I be feeling bad that I didn’t get the job on my own?

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      Connections are a two-way street. The employer benefits from having an already vetted candidate as much as the candidate benefits from getting fast-tracked.

      When done well, connections only matter to getting your foot in the door. You then either succeed or fail on your own merit. When done poorly, you get the horror stories.

      Also, don’t feel bad. Most jobs are filled through connections.

      1. Erin*

        So true they may help get you an interview. But the connection alone won’t get you a job.

    2. MWKate*

      Are you qualified for the job? When I’ve run into issues of people being disliked for nepotism it’s because they were in jobs they were not qualified for, couldn’t do well, etc. Also, finding a job through someone you know is very different than getting hired by your dad/aunt/godmother/etc for a position you don’t have the background for.

      It sounds like you have every intention of being a conscientious and hard working employee. I would not worry too much about this.

      1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

        This. You weren’t hired sight unseen just on a connection’s say-so. You were interviewed and went through what I’m guessing is the normal hiring process.
        Your connection helped bring your resume to the hiring manager’s attention when it might have been lost in a flood of applications. Totally normal, and a good thing. I promise nobody will think less of you for this.

        Also, keep in mind that many companies will pay a referral bonus to current employees who recommend new employees.

      2. CatCat*

        I totally agree with you. If you’re qualified for the job then what happened here is totally normal. I think any reasonable colleague wouldn’t look down on you because someone put in a good word.

    3. Robin B*

      No matter how you get the job, you are the one who has to do it once you start. Nothing wrong with getting a bit of help to get your foot in the door…. just do a good job… that’s all on you.

    4. Not a Real Giraffe*

      My team recently hired someone who got an interview through nepotism. She came across very well in the interview, and we wouldn’t have hired her if we didn’t think she was capable of excelling in the role and excited about the role. (Turns out she put on a pretty good performance at the interview because she’s not been a very good hire. It’s not the nepotism that bothers me; it’s that this person clearly doesn’t care about her job or doing well.)

      Your connection might have gotten your foot in the door, but your skills and experience got you the job. So long as you work hard and plan to do your very best in the role, your professional reputation will outweigh any feelings about nepotism your coworkers may have.

      1. Lilo*

        Alternately, I had a friend interview at my job, he bombed did not get the job. A foot in the door should be just that and as long as there is not a toxic culture, I think you are fine.

    5. Someone*

      There are different levels of connections. There are connections that get your resume a closer look, or maybe get it past the recruiter and into the hiring manager’s hands, but after that, you are judged pretty objectively on your own merits. For that type of connection, when you get there, your connection no longer has any effect or pull, it’s sink or swim, just like any other job. No one hates people with those connections (or rarely anyway). The attitude is it’s mutually beneficial — you get a job and they get someone who’s pre-vetted.

      Then there’s people in come in with close ties to people with a lot of power in the company. It’s worse if they are hired above their level, or are perceived to have short-circuited the interview process. The problem there is those people are perceived as “protected” by the higher ups, and the assumption is they will be given more opportunities than their coworkers, and not held accountable for their mistakes. People resent that (even if it turns out to be false.)

      It’s sounds like you’re in the first bucket, so don’t worry.

    6. S.*

      There is a big difference between networking and nepotism.
      Using your network to get a job works because you are more of a known quantity – someone they trust can vouch for the quality of your work. You still had to go through interviews and convince them of your qualifications, the networking connection was just a little boost. Your connection just increased their confidence that you will benefit the company.
      In contrast, nepotism is when someone gets a job despite not being qualified enough (or at all), through a non-professional contact whose interest in hiring them has more to do with the benefit to the person being hired than to the company.

      1. fposte*

        Yes. And technically nepotism is about family members–“anti-nepotism” policies are about relatives, and the etymology of “nepotism” is related to “nephew.” I hadn’t even realized people were using the term about non-family hiring.

        1. Triangle Pose*

          Agreed. I think the appropriate term is probably”cronyism” if you just hire personal friends. I think people use nepotism to mean both without knowing that nepotism is about family.

    7. ruff orpington*

      I got my current job through a similar form of networking. I felt bad about it at first, being frustrated that I wasn’t selected solely through my own merits. But… my contact reached out and helped me get the job because he knew I was reliable, smart, and capable, which ~are~ my own merits. I was qualified for the job, and did well, and we both benefited: me, by getting a great job, and him, by having a good coworker and helping out the company. Now that I’ve been here for a while, I’ve seen so many people that got their jobs through similar ways. We do work that is slightly unusual– there are a lot of people out there who have tangential experience, but will have to shift over and learn a new style. Having just one extra connection to know that the candidate is able to make that transition (being a ‘known’ quantity) is so beneficial.

      If you work hard and do a good job, you’ll have no problems. No one should begrudge someone a pre-existing connection. The situations where there is resentment is when this leads to someone getting the job without being qualified, or when the pre-existing connection leads to favoritism or cliques

    8. LKW*

      You did get the job on your own. You got an interview through your connections. There is no shame in that. Talent brings talent – anytime someone really talented leaves my organization, we know that in the next couple of years they’re going to poach a few people. It can be a little frustrating, but people leave to go to clients so we’re likely going to work with them again so it helps to keep the parting and poaching amicable unless egregious.

      It’s frustrating when the person hired is incompetent, abuses the relationship (barely makes it into work or doesn’t actually work) or gets special treatment (two sets of rules, one for everyone else and one for nepotism hire).

    9. MegaMoose, Esq*

      Maybe it’s just because the legal field is super into networking, but getting a job through a connection is really not looked down on at all, and is definitely not the same thing as nepotism. The concern with nepotism is that certain relationships are viewed (rightly or wrongly) as creating inherent bias – your love for that person may make it hard for you to evaluate their negative traits, and you may personally benefit from any money they make. This is not the case for a friend or professional acquaintance. It is in the best interest of the employee and the company to hire people who will do good work and get along with their coworkers. Absent a dysfunctional situation, this means that the opinion of an employee may be given a lot of weight. The only obligation you have here is to be a good employee, but you’d want to do that anyhow, right?

    10. Hellanon*

      I have gotten all my jobs beyond the first one or two through personal connections. Trust me when I say that your connections will not put you forward unless they’ve got some sense that you’ll do them proud – nobody wants to burn capital for someone they suspect can’t do the work. Done well, it’s a win all the way around. Just return the favor when you have the opportunity to do so, and give someone else the opportunity to be considered for a job they can do well at.

    11. Shark Whisperer*

      You shouldn’t feel bad! One of my part-time staff really needed a full time job and I recommended her for a position at OldJob. We have a tough industry and it can be hard to break into, especially hard getting a full time permanent job. I didn’t recommend her as a favor. I genuinely thought she did great work at would excel at this other position. I wrote to the hiring manager and just said why I thought Jane would be a good fit and to expect her resume and cover letter. My recommendation helped because hiring manager knew she could trust my opinion, but it wasn’t the only thing that got Jane the job. Her hard work, her resume, her kick-ass cover letter, and nailing the interview got her the job. I just provided a trusted reference at the beginning of the search instead of the end. No one hates Jane because “I got her the job,” they all love her because she’s awesome and she deserves it.

      You got yourself the job. Your connection just made sure the company really saw you. No one will look down on you for that.

    12. icecreamroll*

      You got the interview because of your connection.

      You got the job because of your qualifications.

      All your connection got you was a timeslot on the interview schedule.

      Not one of your coworkers will know, or care about how your interview was scheduled. They will judge you on your work and your personality – if you act guilty or undeserving you will undermine yourself.
      Look everyone in the eye, look pleased to meet people and keep your head up!

    13. Marisol*

      I am not aware of people looking down on new hires who have connections. This only bothers people in egregious cases, such as someone who is totally unqualified getting placed in a high-ranking position, who then goes on to do a bad job; i.e. a CEO’s twenty year old nephew is hired as a vice president and then makes disastrous strategic decisions while verbally abusing the staff. In that type of situation, you get resentment. In what you are describing, I would be very surprised to hear that anyone gave a flying fig about your connection.

      If you got a job based on a connection you had, then it is reasonable to say that you still got the job on your own merits, because you were the one who nurtured the connection. Maintaining business relationships is an important professional skill, and you did it. No one did that on your behalf. Moreover, if everyone leverages their contacts to their own advantage (and everyone does) then if you do it, you’re not taking an unfair advantage, you’re simply playing by the same rules as everyone else, which is perfectly fair.

      While I don’t know the particulars of your situation, I think it’s safe to say that your fear of “being hated” by your coworkers is…neurotic. Seriously, this is a misapprehension. You have imposter syndrome. When these worries come up, recognize them as neurotic fears, shift into your adult thinking and say, “hmmm, there’s that misapprehension I have, and I realize that it is wrong” and then think about something else. Don’t give this idea more power by ruminating on it or arguing with it. It is incorrect thinking. That is all.

    14. Antilles*

      Why is networking/connections considered a common practice but causes the new hires to be looked down on?
      Assuming you’re qualified for the job, people don’t really look down on new hires for this. In fact, to the extent people care how you got the job, it actually goes the opposite way – we expect more from new hires with a strong recommendation from an existing connection because we know he’s good and trust his judgment.

    15. Tedious Cat*

      So much good advice here. A connection, especially one that doesn’t work at the company that hired you, can only do so much — and don’t forget that your connection is also helping his connection there by facilitating a solid hire.

      I can empathize, because I know full well (because I applied last year) that I wouldn’t have gotten an interview at my new job without a good word from a friend. When I got the call for the interview, my immediate reaction was “Oh lord, I’m not qualified, this is only because of Friend” — and then I reminded myself that these people trusted his opinion for a reason, and he’s not going to risk that reputation on recommending someone who isn’t qualified. So I took confidence from that and went in and knocked that interview out of the park. Friend got me the interview, but I got myself the job.

      Think of it as matchmaking. Just because you met through a friend instead of doesn’t mean they like you any less. This is a situation where everyone benefits.

    16. imakethings*

      In some industries, networking is simply required to get your foot in the door. I ran into this issue last year after a move to a new state/city while simultaneously trying to break into a niche role. I failed because I simply knew no one. Now, after a year of boosting my resume and networking, my current job hunt is going much, much better. I’m still competing with the same types of people for these jobs, but at least recruiters are looking past my resume (and lack of experience) and into my portfolio and I’m landing interviews because of it. It’s sort of sad to think you wouldn’t have made it as far just on your own merit, but you just need to be grateful for what your connections have done for you and honestly proud of yourself for working a very challenging system (job acquisition).

    17. kms1025*

      Oh my gosh…do not feel bad :)
      Speaking as an employer, we prefer to hire people that come with a little extra cred. to their name.
      Doesn’t mean we don’t hire complete strangers, we do…but if someone is recommended as a friend of a friend, it just gives them a little bump up.
      If you get the job offer because of who you know, you still need to excel at it and prosper in it on your own merits.

    18. Tedious Cat*

      Oh, and congratulations — both on the new job and being someone people want to recommend!

      1. On Fire*

        Good advice all through here.

        I mentioned on another thread (regarding references) that I’ve gotten every job I ever had through networking and connections. The second part of that is that I always worked *very* hard to make sure they never regretted hiring me.

        In some fields, that is how hiring/interview decisions are made. You *have* to know someone. But when you land the job, just work to make sure you make them proud/content with that decision.

        Many of your co-workers may have gotten their jobs the same way (mine did!). Regardless, if you’re actually doing the job every day, rather than playing on Facebook/chatting on personal calls/otherwise displaying annoying habits or bad work ethics, you’ll be fine.

        Congrats and good luck!

    19. Falling Diphthong*

      You’re conflating two things–a personal connection that got an unknown’s foot in the door vs a personal connection that kept a known incompetent’s ass in a chair. How much people resent their coworkers for nepotism is almost wholly the latter.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. Please let yourself up for air on this one, OP. You’re being pretty hard on yourself. Allow yourself to enjoy the fact that you got a job.
        People resent people who cannot do the job, it does not matter if they were recommended, or not. People want to work with others who have a good work ethic.

        You have really been overthinking this and I hope you do not allow it to cut into the joy of a new job or your ability to do the job. Your focus should be on organizing yourself for your new place. You ability to keep the job is because of your actual skills. Please focus on best foot forward and not on the stuff you have written here.

    20. Nic*

      I feel like your connection is correct. It’s often more who you know than what, and having a connection or connections’ connection is pretty common.

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with getting your foot in the door because you know someone. The issue is, in my opinion, when you don’t move forward with the job the same way you would otherwise because you know someone.

      So long as you show that you understand the job and are a hard and competent worker the folks who questioned at first (if there were any) will back off.

  11. Katie ElderBerry*

    Almost everyone in my company was let go today, there’s only a couple of us left in finance and some execs. We were not paid today, they said probably next week, and no answer on payment for this week’s work. Also health insurance coverage expires Monday and Cobra will not be available. Damn it.

    1. Electric Hedgehog*

      Wow, that sucks. Your company is clearly circling the drain – I hope your job search is quick, easy and triumphant

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      They haven’t paid you, can’t say when they will pay you for this week, and still expect anyone at all to be working?

      And no Cobra?

      Umm, I know they are about to close their doors, but I’d still report them to the State Labor Board.

      And I chime in that I also hope you’ve been job searching.

      1. Lilo*

        Yeah at this point, Katie, no job may be better than one that takes your time and offers nothing in return. If they are never going to pay you and you get no benefits, what exactly are you getting for your labor. It may be hard to walk away but, frankly, you have to do what is best for you and leaving now may be it. The time you spend working may be better spent on literally anything else.

      2. Beachlover*

        That happens when a company goes BK, they do not have to offer cobra. Chances are they can’t meet payroll and that gets rolled into their bankruptcy too.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        When my husband’s job was wobbling from week to week with the financing, they were blazingly clear that you could not ask people to work unless you were paying them. It can be hard to see in the forest of red flags, but the order in which management is doing this–not “pay everyone for work to date, then lay off everyone they can’t afford to keep” but “don’t pay anyone, lay off a bunch of people, express vague timeline about how if you cling on you will be paid later” is really bad. Suggests magical thinking in lieu of money–and no investor is putting in money at this stage.

        OP, I really think you need to consider walking out unless they hand you your wages to date right now.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Oh, and so sorry that this is happening to you. It’s scary and it sucks. But nothing in your description makes me think “well at least they have a viable plan to pay all the remaining people.”

          Instead it makes me think of the company for which I was freelancing who kept saying they would pay me “later” and then as soon as the project wrapped they went bankrupt. With all their employees owed hundreds of dollars in back pay–just like you, they’d been told how they would be paid ‘later’–and they just became very low ranking creditors with little hope of ever seeing that money.

    3. Lilo*

      Um… yeah. Lawyer/labor board now. The first priority should be paying people for work done, a company cannot take out financial troubles on employees. I am sure you are job searching, but if there is any way to up it at all, do so. Run.

      1. neverjaunty*

        This very much. Not paying employees is a very big deal no matter what state the company is in

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          In my state the company directors are personally liable for any unpaid wages, as well as accrued vacation. The state labor department takes this very seriously.

          So seriously that one former employer, who was teetering on insolvency, paid out everyone’s vacation and wages, and then started paying wages every Friday (before that we were paid monthly). They did not want the company directors on the hook for any wages.

      1. Katie ElderBerry*

        My lease is up at the end of May so I have been applying all over the country for the last two weeks, had a few phone interviews but nothing serious yet.

    4. Parenthetically*

      Stopgap for health coverage while you talk to a lawyer/labor board: medical sharing plans. Liberty is one that accepts people of all or no religious beliefs, and it’s cheap.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        There is normally a law saying you need to be paid in X days, but if they have filed for bankruptcy…

        The no Cobra thing is what flags it as more illegal to me, unless they think that because they now are under X employees, they don’t have to offer it?

        1. Lilo*

          But to still have them working with no promise of pay ever? I would have to research the relevant jurisdiction and there may be facts we don’t have but it stinks to high heaven. A bankrupt company doesn’t mean they can just exploit free labor indefinitely.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            They haven’t said they wouldn’t pay them, just left it ambiguous.

            And I’ve definitely known of companies that went bankrupt, and the employees still owed money had to get in line with the rest of the creditors. They were at the head of the line, but they still had to wait out the court proceedings. :P My dad got stuck in one of those.

        2. Jessie the First (or second)*

          Cobra isn’t required if there is not a medical plan for current employees – there has to be an active plan to enroll in. So a company that is this far behind is probably terminating all its medical plans – that’s why coverage ends on Monday, I assume – and so there does not have to be Cobra (and *can’t* be, because there is no plan).

          But the payment of wages – there are laws about that. In a company in such bad shape, though, it’s likely not recoverable. I’d leave.

        3. Grassmower*

          If there is no on-going plan for active employees, then there is no COBRA offered to terminating employees. It is the way the law works, unfortunately.

    5. LCL*

      Have you looked into unemployment? If you haven’t you should check.
      I hope you find another job soon.

      1. Joshua*


        Even if they didn’t lay you off I would consult with an attorney or your state labor board on constructive discharge. To me, not getting paid counts as working conditions that were so intolerable that you would be compelled to resign. I’d much rather be paid unemployment than not being paid anything and working to save a sinking ship.

    6. Lauren Who Reads A Lot*

      Call your state Department of Labor office. It is absolutely illegal for them not to pay you and to not know when they are going to.

    7. Belle*

      I also agree to file for unemployment right now and alert the State that you did not get paid (especially since some states have more rigid timing requirements).

      For health insurance, you would most likely be a qualifying event — so a partner or even the open market should be an option (though I know that can be expensive)

      Regarding Cobra:
      Their jobs will be terminated, which is a qualifying event, so they are eligible for 18 months of COBRA. B. No. If a company closes its doors, the health plan ceases to exist. If the health plan ceases to exist, no COBRA is available to the laid off workers.

    8. Confused Teapot Maker*

      I don’t think I have anything constructive to add but just wanted to say I’m really sorry to hear this!

    9. Been There, Done That*

      I’m so sorry to hear that. Best thoughts and wishes for a good next chapter.

  12. Sunflower*

    My boss gave her notice this week and I’ve gone into a bit of crisis mode as I’ve been lucky to not have this happen to me yet. So many things will change depending on who they hire and it will really affect how long I want to stay here and probably my future career path. Just a really rough week all around…

    I have a lot of mixed feelings that I haven’t had time to process yet because holy ish I’m going to be so busy. Our work flows in through my boss and I and we distribute down to our assistant(who I think is lazy but grandboss adores for some reason) and intern(who I have another post coming about bc she is struggling hard) I’ve already been working crazy hours for the past month and it’s only going to get worse until mid-June. Grandboss is overseas this week so we won’t get to talk until next week what this means. She’s pretty hands off and doesn’t really know how to do ‘events’. We have an overseas manager who will be able to minimally step in but I’m the only one left who really *knows* our events. Oh and there are oh so many things my boss has never taught me that…I guess I’ll have to learn in the next 3 weeks?

    What kinds of things should I be doing to make this as easy for me as I can? As I’m working, I’m writing down things I need her to teach me , items that need to be put into my name that she handles, things I need to talk to grandboss about….other stuff?

    1. Rosamond*

      I’m in a similar position – my boss is leaving soon and I’m going to end up taking on a lot of his role. The grandboss has been crystal clear that he’ll talk to me maybe once a month and expects I’ll rarely have anything to escalate to him. It’s not at all plausible for me to do 100% of boss’s job and 100% of my job, so we’re prioritizing what I’ll take on, what from both jobs gets delegated, and what from both jobs gets dropped.

    2. DevManager*

      See if you can get her to document as much as she can as well – usual processes for your events, things she only handles, anything that only comes up on a set schedule (once a quarter, once a year – you don’t want to get to September and find out there’s something she usually did that didn’t get done). Talk to IT about getting access to her emails or having incoming emails forwarded to you.

      Good luck. My second favorite boss ever quit while I was on maternity leave. We had eight months of uncertainty (and I did most of his duties during that time) and the dude they hired and I never quite clicked. I got out soon after he came on board. It’s worked out for the best, though – at the next job I met the guy who got me my current job which then evolved into a management job (which is what I wanted, but YMMV). (And then my favorite boss was pushed out almost a year ago – I’ve stayed and thrived, but I’m still weighing options.)

  13. Christy*

    When you have a massive project, how do you plan for it? How do you track all of the things that will need to be done and when they get done? More importantly, how do you figure out all of the things that will need to be done, particularly when it isn’t something you or your coworkers have done before?

    I’d appreciate any advice you have on this. I’m on this massive project (I’m not the PM but I’m ending up doing PM work anyway) and it’s scary because it’s new and hard, and I’d like to impose some more structure so we know how much work we have left.

    1. writelhd*

      spreadsheets, and there are even probably some good “project management” templates out there on the internet. Also perhaps freeware, try out something called Project Pier. I have found with this kind of thing it is super important and not overkill at all to stay massively structured and organized.

      1. Christy*

        I guess my question then sort of becomes, how do you figure out what goes into the spreadsheet? I’d welcome any resources you have. (And thanks for what you said so far–I’ll check them out.)

        1. Not a Real Giraffe*

          It sounds kinda silly but I sometimes Google “best practices + [type of project you’re working on]” and see what other people have already decided works well!

            1. ByLetters*

              I’ll third this one — plus, don’t feel like you are tied to the templates! I found a weekly checklist template at one of my jobs three jobs ago, and I have actually carried it with me to every posting since, adjusting the daily, weekly, and monthly tasks as the position requires. The nature of my work often changes, so my checklist is also constantly evolving as the needs demand.

              If your project can be broken down into specific timelines, sit down and do that. What needs to be done on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly basis? Are there repeated tasks, or is there some other way you can break up the work? What deadlines does it have? Once you’ve broken it down, find some way to simplify this into a checklist or chart that you can cross things off on — and keep it on your desk, pinned to your wall, or wherever you can see it every day and constantly refer to it. I find both deliberate planning in this way as well as having an easy reference helps me a lot with the really complex, long-range stuff.

          1. Paxton*

            I second this one. Also, if it is an event or a meeting – I will close my eyes and visualize walking through it. This helps me set in my head what ideally would happen to ensure that I am thinking through everything from the front door signage to the thank you presents for speakers.

        2. Witty Nickname*

          As a project manager, I put EVERYTHING onto my project spread sheet. I have 5 major deliverables? Every single step of every one of those goes onto my spread sheet (I used Smartsheet, which is a nice online version – it is easy to use, especially if you ever use Excel, and because it’s online, you can share it with your entire project team).

          Anyway, say one of my deliverables is sales training (that’s a real world example of something that would be included in one of my projects). I’d break it down in my spreadsheet like this (smartsheet allows you to nest items, so imagine each * as a nested level):
          Sales Training
          *Training content
          **Draft training content
          **Review with stakeholders
          **Review with Legal
          **Finalize content
          **Hand off to training team for module creation
          *Training Modules
          **Draft training modules
          **Review with product marketing lead
          **Review with stakeholders
          **Review with legal
          **Finalize modules
          **Assign modules to sales reps
          **Monitor completion

          When I’m planning something I’m not an expert in, or don’t really know everything that needs to happen, I like to use PMI’s program definition template. It’s a little hard to describe (I did a quick search online, but you might have more luck finding examples than I did), but works REALLY well in this type of situation (I introduced it to the teams I program and project manage for last year, and some of them have adopted it for their planning as well). I have modified it a bit to fit how my company works, but here’s what I do:

          Create a table in word (or excel or power point or whatever you are comfortable with). You’ll have 4-5 columns. Your rows will just depend on how much you end up with. In the far left column, you’ll put your project’s strategic objective (what is the big thing you are trying to achieve with this project). In the next column, you’ll have at least 2 rows. This column is your key deliverables that will help you meet your objective. Each deliverable will have at least 2 rows in the next column over (the rule of thumb is each column must have at least two rows branching off it in the column to the right of it). Here’s where you start to get more tactical – what are the things you need to do to meet those deliverables? Once you’ve gotten 2-3 columns of tactics, you should be able to identify your key project workstreams, and you can start to build out your full plan from there.

          One of the biggest things that helps with this framework is keeping in mind “how” and “why” – as you move to the right on the table, you are answering the question “how?” As you move back to the left, you are answering the question “why?”

          For example, let’s say the strategic objective is to increase chocolate teapot sales in the vanilla tea drinkers community. How are you going to do that? You decide a key deliverable is to execute a marketing campaign that shows how vanilla tea is better in chocolate teapots. How do you do that? You create a commercial that features people enjoying their vanilla tea in your company’s chocolate tea pots. And the further to the right side of the table you go, the more tactical you get. Now moving back to the left, you can check to make sure you are actually on the right track by asking “why?”

          Why do you create a commercial that features people enjoying their vanilla tea? To execute a marketing campaign that shows how vanilla tea is better in chocolate pots. Why do you want to execute that marketing campaign? To increase chocolate teapot sales in the vanilla tea drinkers’ community.

          1. Witty Nickname*

            Also, while I use project management software for the overall management of the project, I also find it really helpful to set up a kanban board for myself for the things I need to accomplish for my projects. I keep a running list on my board (I use small post it notes on my whiteboard and create a column for each project) – I also put a “To do on (day)” section on my board and move over the post its for the items I need to accomplish that day. When I’m managing multiple projects/programs at the same time, or when I’m working on a massive project, this really helps me keep on track.

    2. Kowalski! Options!*

      Talk to people who have been there before (to get advice, hints and tips), and identify your key stakeholders early. And get your key stakeholders to identify people who might also be affected by what’s going on. Keep the communication going with everyone. Not everyone needs to know about everything, but don’t rule someone out because you think they’re not important, or don’t have a dog in the race.

      1. Witty Nickname*

        I’d add identify which stakeholders need to approve which parts of the project (the plan, any deliverables, etc). You need to manage that, or you could easily end up with a case of too many cooks. Who are the decision makers? If you make a change to your plan, who needs to sign off on that (and make sure you identify any impacts that change has to other parts of the plan)?

        Keep a list of risks too – I don’t work with teams that are very data-oriented, so I keep the risk analysis simple for them. We talk about the risks, what is the likelihood that it will happen (high, medium, low), and what is the impact if it does happen (high, medium, low). This helps us identify what we should really spend our time on and what we might just wait and see on.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      Yeah, I use Microsoft Projects (a very little bit), and also Excel. I’m sure you could use Google to find templates you like to use for project plans. Also, start a RIO log (Risks, Issues, Opportunities) to track those things, and also start an Action Item log that details what needs to happen and who it’s assigned to. When things like that start falling through the cracks, things can snowball very quickly.

    4. Parenthetically*

      Asana? I’ve used it to plan projects and it’s pretty intuitive. It might not be what you’re looking for, but there’s plenty out there that’s designed to help centralize communication on collaborative projects.

    5. LKW*

      Project plan with all tasks, effort, duration and OWNER. Who is responsible.
      Document every deliverable and the owner and those responsible for reviewing and approving. Make sure those are in your project plan.
      Document decisions and assumptions. Communicate these broadly.
      Make the information easily accessible. Don’t keep the project plan on one person’s PC – use collaborative software if possible but a network drive is fine too.
      Have weekly meetings in which people are accountable for reporting status and outlining if any delays will impact other parts of the project. Is one team held up because of another team’s delays?
      Understand the impact of delays – how will that affect resources later in the project – are those resources aware of the change and can they accommodate it?
      Talk to people who have done projects of this size in your organization. Get their insights and lessons learned – did one service provider (like infrastructure or finance or HR take longer to do their work than estimated? )

      1. Alice*

        The owner really is important. And lots of other comments have good advice. I’d only add that it’s ok if the project plan changes — maybe resources or goals change, maybe key people leave or arrive — it can be a living document. But it’s important to acknowledge, discuss, and agree on the changes.

    6. Purplesaurus*

      I use Podio but there’s other cloud-based project management tools, and I have found them helpful. You can check off tasks and use progress trackers for individual deliverables and/or on the overall project.

    7. pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      If you have a final deadline for your project start to calendar it out working backwards to set smaller deadlines to keep you on track — i.e. big project deadline Dec 1.; then final approval must come no later than Nov. 15 to allow time for XYZ; then final project deliverable must be submitted for approval no later than Nov 1… all the way back to the beginning…first team meeting May 1. You may need to revise the calendar along the way and always pad in a bit more time than you actually think you’ll need. If you think it’ll take a day for the approval process, plan for three just in case the primary person goes out sick — that sort of stuff.

    8. justsomeone*

      To this part of your question: how do you figure out all of the things that will need to be done, particularly when it isn’t something you or your coworkers have done before?

      Work backward. What is the goal? What steps do you know come before the goal? Start by outlining the Big Stuff that needs to happen and then filling in the little things that need to be done to make it work.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I have never got my head around PRINCE2. I can’t work out what’s actual method and what’s just jargon.

        We use the =MC systems model.

    9. YouHaveBeenWarned*

      I tend to reply to AAM comments and browse Amazon until I notice the time, panic, and flail.

      Speaking of which: oh my god it’s already 12:30 and this paper is due at 5!

    10. Biff*

      I like to sit down, think it through, and break it up like this:

      1. What is my absolute goal. (E.g. Develop a new teapot line to market specifically to Sci-fi fans.)
      2. What about this goal will cause my team to stretch/develop new competencies (E.g. This will be our first attempt at novelty shapes such as a ferengi head.)
      3. What process or plan do I already have that is most similar to this new project? What is it missing?

      The next step is to very carefully define the new steps that have not been done before and introduce them to the most similar “tried-and-true” plan that exists. When I say carefully define, I mean in EXCRUCIATING detail. This level of detail isn’t necessary for processes you know well and can estimate easily, but anything new should be detailed, right down to the needed tools and raw materials (even if those tools are electronic and materials are living in someone’s head.) This will help you find out that “crap, we have no one on the team with skills remotely close to ABC” or “We need a highly-specialized thingamajiggy that takes 3 mos. to build and ship from Elbonia.”

      Good luck!

    11. Girasol*

      On finding out all the tasks: I found it handy to get the experts in a room, say, “So what do we do first? And then what?” Flow chart it on the board (powerpoint, whatever.) Inevitably someone says, “Then you do X” and there’s a “No, wait, X has to be done before Y, so put it over there!” And then there’s “Install the server” and “Wait, do we have a server? You gotta buy the server and allow six weeks for delivery” … “And then you gotta set it up, and then we can take the next step.” When you come to a spot where someone says, “but we won’t know if it turns out A way or B way until we get to that point, so how are we supposed to plan steps for a situation we don’t even know??” then call that fork in the road the “phase 1 completion,” and plan phase 2 details afterward when the unknown becomes known. If leadership is saying “So phase 1 takes until March. So what? What I want to know is, when is it all done?” you can do some handwavy what-if scenario planning to get a rough estimate. But don’t make it aggressive and make sure they know why it’s not accurate or final. That’s the best way I’ve found for walking that fine line of planning exactly how a project will go when you’ve never done such a thing before.

    12. LOVE organizing*

      I’ve been on a wild organizing kick! Recently completed a gantt chart for all the tasks we have due over the year. Big projects get broken down by task (make the tasks small) and we ensure that a staff member is assigned for each task, with a lead for bigger ones. That way nothing slips.

    13. only acting normal*

      If there is a PM don’t do their job for them – I once naively filled in where the PM was slacking, vastly increasing my workload, but once I cottoned on and refused to do it anymore they simply stepped up and acknowledged they been taking advantage. You can, and should, only control what it is your job to control.

      Clarify the overall aim / big question to answer with the customer and stakeholders (right at the outset preferably!), bearing in mind that what they say they want might not be what they actually want or need – ask “why?” a lot. Then if you get bogged down in details later step back and remind yourself what it is you’re aiming for.

      As for planning – find out the deadline and work backwards from it in big handfuls (Z needs to happen by then, so Y and X have to deliver so many weeks before to be combined, so W is needed then, V so many days before etc).
      Build in slack for everything if possible, but plenty of slack for the real uncertainties.
      Preferably have a decent scoping phase at the start, before jumping into the work, to investigate how to do the things that are new to everyone – e.g. by finding out how similar or analogous projects and sub-projects succeeded or failed and why.
      Be prepared to change the plan as the goal or circumstances change (this is inevitable and not an innate failure).

      I believe the relevant terms are “prior planning prevents p**s poor performance”, “keep it simple, stupid” (KISS), and a healthy dose of “no plan survives first exposure to the enemy”. ;)

      NB – If you have subordinates doing work for you – assuming you trust their output and they deliver on time – don’t micromanage their process in pursuit of structure. Give them their deadline and their sub-goal, but don’t demand they do the work *your* way – their way may be very different but just good at reaching the goal.

      Good luck!

  14. writelhd*

    Did I just uncover some kind of low-level resume identify theft?

    For my job, I was searching for the contact information for a consultant, so I could talk to her get a quote for her services. The who referred me to her gave me only her LinkedIn page, not an email, phone # or company name. It felt a little unusual for me to ask somebody to give me a quote for their consulting services by contacting them on LinkedIn when it’s far more normal to just call or email somebody, and her LinkedIn Profile listed a company name, so I googled her company name plus my city to see if I could find her actual company website that might have a phone # I could use. (OK, I just now discovered the “website” section on the right side of one’s LinkedIn profile. Doh. But anyway…)

    Well, in that goodle search, a URL beginning with “” came up that included her company name, the type of consultant she is, and our city and zip code in the search description. Curious, I clicked on it, and found a resume (with her name and contact info redacted), being displayed as an “example resume for My Industry Consultant, My City” in what looks like is a database one can search for with “1000s of resume examples!” The thing is, it looks like it is HER ACTUAL resume, just with her name and contact info redacted. It lists a very detailed career and education history that matches her LinkedIn profile, including real company and school names, and listing her accomplishments on projects she’s completed that matches stuff she brags about on her website (now that I found it.)

    So…are people out there agreeing to do this with their real resumes? Or is this some kind of minor identity theft to have to be aware of if you’re posting your resume to big recruiting websites like Monster? Or is it just a stipulation of using one of those sites to “build your resume for free” that they then make it public as a sample? Just kinda weird to me. I personally would not be OK with discovering my own resume appearing like that!

    1. CAA*

      Yes, they almost certainly did steal it from Indeed or Monster or somewhere like that. However, it’s not identity theft (they’re not using her personal information to make financial transactions in her name or impersonate her in any way); it’s more like plagiarism.

      1. writelhd*

        Yeah, I was struggling for the right words, I knew those weren’t really it, just had a nice-Friday-afternoon-me-stuck-in-windowless-office word fail. Plagiarism! That’s a better label.

    2. CM*

      You should tell her. She probably didn’t agree to that. I agree with CAA, it’s not really identity theft, but it is copyright violation, and just plain intrusive and wrong.

    3. The Tin Man*

      It looks like your thought is this website took her resume and posted it as an example.

      My first thought is that the consultant’s info is fake and taken from the livecareer website. Is that definitely not the case?

      1. writelhd*

        It could be, but the example resume is very specific to our industry, and the kind of thing you probably couldn’t make up passably if you didn’t understand our industry really well which would be hard to do if you hadn’t actually worked in it. And she was referred to me by a very trusted colleague who’s got decades of experience on me, so that colleague being duped would be pretty surprising.

  15. Myrin*

    Katie the Fed, if you’re reading – you talked about your new hire who is very casual in many little things two days ago and I’d love to hear more about that situation if you’re at all up for it? I only ever run into people like that in my personal life (so, not in a professional capacity) but I’d still love to find out how others are handling it.

  16. Electric Hedgehog*

    I just want to say that I really appreciate the general kindness and wisdom from everyone on this blog – especially Alison.

    I’m wrapping up event prep for an out of state training next week for my entire group of about forty folks. So glad it’s over.

  17. Alex*

    Has anyone with a non-HR background ever transitioned into an HR-type role? Any thoughts on how to make this happen, particularly if your current position is not at all related to HR? Thanks.

    1. Bigglesworth*

      I’m not in HR, but my former HR director transitioned from the a career services type role to HR director and he’s now the HR director at a local non-profit. One of the other people in HR that he hired transitioned from an outside daycare role to HR assistant.

      This is at a small, religious university, but it shows it can be done!

    2. HMM*

      Yes, though I switched early in my career (had about 2 years of work under my belt). I had previous admin experience and a tiny bit of benefits/payroll admin experience and spun that into a HR Coordinator role (where I still am). I had no previous education in HR otherwise. I think what got me the job is that I spent a long time already thinking about HR type things – reading AAM, Evil HR lady, etc. – so I could show that I had the instinct for thinking about HR in the way that they needed. We’re interviewing an intern who was a late-career changer, and he got his masters in HR administration to get his foot in the door, so that’s another possibility.

      I found HR to be a relatively low barrier to entry since the basic skills needed – customer service, attention to detail, administrative expertise – can easily be transferred from other industries. Good luck!

    3. periwinkle*

      I used to be in IT tech support. After my employer suddenly folded, I found myself temping in admin roles because I couldn’t land an IT role (post-9/11 recession). One clerical role turned into a long-term assignment as an HR coordinator (proving why you should always strive to impress, even as a short-term temp!). I had no HR background so I joined SHRM and read HR blogs. I took SHRM’s “Essentials of HR Management” course, now offered both in person and online, which is a crash course in the HR competencies.

      Fifteen years later, I’m a HR development practitioner at a Fortune 50 company working on my second relevant graduate degree with an eye on moving into HR analytics. So yes, you can make the initial shift into HR without the HR background!

      1. imakethings*

        What kind of masters programs are you doing? My BFF is trying to transition into HR development practitioner (she’s currently a recruiter) and isn’t sure how to get there.

        1. Perri Kennedy*

          My first master’s was in instructional design. If your BFF is interested in the training side of training & development, that’s the way to go. Lots of excellent programs out there, many of which are available online (I earned mine through a state university). My second grad degree is purely HR; you won’t get more than a class or two about the T&D side of the field but is definitely better if your interest is employee development, leadership development, and so forth (the strategic side of T&D) because you’ll have a more solid understanding of the business side of HR.

    4. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      Yes, I worked in finance for 10 years and about a year ago transitioned into an HR technology business analyst. I manage projects related to our HR systems so it’s not a traditional HR role but it’s HR based. My jobs in finance were completely unrelated to HR but a lot of it was project based. So even though I had zero HR experience coming in the door, my experience with projects allowed me to make that transition without “starting over”. I’m not sure if you are looking to transition into a traditional HR role like a generalist or talent acquisition but I would focus on what your old jobs did prepare you for, even if they are not HR focused skills. In my opinion, like with any other industry, you can learn HR along with the job. HR requires many skills that aren’t necessarily HR specific.

    5. Tedious Cat*

      I know a police detective who recently transitioned to corporate HR. I’m not sure how she made the transition, but she says it uses very similar skills.

    6. lfi*

      yep.. i did. i started as an admin (majoring in english language literature) and grew from there. i became full time hr 5 years ago (whew man.. time flies). not sure where you are, but i did take some HR courses and then sat for the PHR. now i’m going down the benefits road (which i don’t mind.. i love the personal aspect of it), and have a great team and manager who are invested in my growth.

      i’d say it also depends on the position that you are currently in – if it’s easier, more than happy to send you my personal email if you’d like to chat!

    7. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Glad you asked this as I am currently trying to do this myself. Going from IT to HR and hoping to get into HRIS. I redid my resume as a functional version that emphasizes transferable skills and now that school is done I am applying for jobs. No bites yet but it’s only been a couple of weeks.

    8. Jadelyn*

      I…honestly kinda fell face-first into my HR career, to tell the truth. I was temping to get by, just doing general admin and tech support, and got sent to a gig for part-time filing and data entry helping out with post-open-enrollment craziness for the HR dept at a mid-sized nonprofit. Well, I’m blazingly fast at data entry and pretty quick at filing, so anytime I finished something I would go to my coworkers and ask if there was anything they’d like help with. The generalist started showing me how to do job postings and prepare for onboardings; the payroll coordinator showed me how to do the first simple steps of the biweekly 401k reconciliation; the VP realized I was good with Excel and asked me to build reports and do data-wrangling for him.

      I got offered full-time, kept asking how I could help, kept being shown things, ended up going back to school for HR and wound up unofficial HRIS Admin because of my tech skills during a really rough system implementation process. The VP is working on reclassifying me as either HRIS Administrator or HRIS Analyst right now, since he and other HR leadership agree that it’s not fair to have me still classified as an Assistant given all the specialist stuff I’m doing for them with the HRIS. So…I wish I had more useful advice, but I’d see if there’s any HR-adjacent work you can do to start getting experience in that area, since it is definitely my experience that having HR-related experience is more important than having HR-related credentials, at least for “breaking in”. A lot of companies would rather hire a former Office Manager who did HR for their previous small company, than a brand-new grad with a degree in HR and no relevant experience, simply because HR is so nuanced and situational that it’s hard to translate from classroom to usable job skills.

    9. krysb*

      I’m graduating in August with concentrations in HR/OrgM and OpsM, so this question is very timely for me!

    10. Thinking Outside the Boss*

      My sister did this and she made the switch from insurance claims to HR but did it at the same company she was working for, particularly since it is a great company to work for. Since she was a known commodity, her employer was willing to let her switch roles without the experience they would normally look for. Now that she’s been doing her HR duties for longer than she ever did claims, if she needed to leave, she’d have a great HR resume.

      Of course, this option doesn’t work if your current job is a miserable place to be!

    11. Bess*

      About 10 years ago I did this by getting a temp job that became temp-to-perm when I’d proved myself a little.

      Most people I worked with in HR had found there way there through other disciplines.

  18. Sunflower*

    My team had an intern start 3 weeks ago. She has asked to leave early 10 times already. She is in a program where she works here full time and is not taking classes. This is her first office job. Half the time, it was 30 mins-1 hour early, the other half 5-10 mins. I told her that she needs to check with our boss and give her as much advance notice as possible. Twice she has defied this and asked someone else on the team first.

    Now that my boss is leaving, I will probably be the new person to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Frankly I want to tell her that it looks bad to leave early this many times EVER but especially when you’re first starting. Before this became an issue, I told her that it’s fine if she needs to leave early(as long as boss oks it). I didn’t realize she took that to mean she can do it all the time! She seems to think if shes done her deadline driven work she doesn’t ‘need’ to stay to work on the non-deadline driven work.

    Maybe this is wrong but when you’re entry level sometimes your job is to sit at your desk until 5pm! Heck I’n not entry level and some days I have to sit here until 5pm with not a ton to do and I would love to be elsewhere.

    I’ve never managed someone so I’m not sure how explain why it’s okay for boss to have a ‘flex’ schedule but not her?

    1. Electric Hedgehog*

      Oh, please do! As a new intern, she has no idea what’s normal and what’s not, and it will help her so much for this to be laid out for her explicitly but kindly.

    2. Jen*

      I would just say exactly what you said “It’s fine if you need to leave early but you can not do this all the time.” – If you can breakdown the differences between how hourly and salary employees are paid – a salary employee (like the boss) is essentially expected to be on call all the time. But an hourly employee is expected to work a certain amount of hours and be paid for those specific hours. Position it also as earning a reputation and earning respect. The boss has been there long enough that he has earned the respect of his position and has earned a reputation as someone who is able to get work done. A new employee does not have that yet. One of the ways you earn that is through being dependable, being professional and being seen. Working your full shift is the first step.

    3. kavm*

      even though you told her it’s okay to leave early as long as it’s approved, you can still let her know that she’s abusing that policy! 10 days out of 15 is ridiculous… She’s new to the workforce, so just say something like, “I know I told you previously that it’s ok to leave early as long as the boss oks it, but that’s really supposed to be very seldom. It expected for you to be in the office for the full 8 hours.”

      If she asks about the flex schedule you could say something about training or seniority… As an intern you’re supposed to be learning, and you can’t really do that on a flex schedule.

    4. Volunteer Coordinator in NOVA*

      I think this is something really important to learn early on so if you can help her better understand it before she gets her first job, it will help a lot. When I’ve had this conversation in the past with people, usually I explain that there are some perks of being more senior like having a more flexible schedule but it comes with a different level of expectation from your bosses as well. For me, I’ve often had to work later hours or weekends or can be on call and so it all balances out in the end. For my first job, I never had to worry about a weekend call like my boss would. Now when I work on a weekend, I change up my schedule so I’m not working 6 or 7 days a week if it’s not a busy season at my job.

    5. paul*

      Explain that to her. What she’s doing isn’t OK but if she’s new to the working world it’ll be a useful wake up. Be blunt but not rude; something like “Once in a while is fine but you’ve left early way more days then you’ve stayed until quitting time. That isn’t OK and it isn’t in keeping with office norms.”? I don’t know, I’m not always great with phrasing but definitely address it

    6. Amtelope*

      I think she probably got the wrong impression when you told her that it’s fine if she needs to leave early. Because she’s an intern, I’d set some clear expectations. Possible script: “I just want to clarify the expectations for when you need to be in the office. We need you in the office until 5:00. If you’ve met your deadlines on X, you should keep working on Y and Z until 5:00, or ask for more work if you run out of things to do. While it’s OK to occasionally leave earlier if you have an appointment, leaving early multiple times a week is too often.”

      And, if she follows up with “but boss leaves early!”: “Boss has a different job with a different kind of schedule. This internship isn’t a role with a flexible schedule. We need you to work your scheduled hours.”

      1. Thlayli*

        This is exactly what I’m thinking. I’m imagining her going home that night and thinking “how awesome is this, if I finish my work I can leave! What a great job.”

        I think it’s poor communication – you said something meaning in that specific case it was fine to leave early, she heard in general it’s fine to leave early.

        Solution: better communication. “Jane, I may have given you the wrong impression when I said it’s ok to leave early. I meant that if you have a specific reason and you get permission in advance, then it is fine to leave early once in a while. But it’s not fine to do it every other day. In fact it will probably get you a bad reputation. In general it’s not a good idea to request to leave early even if you’ve finished your work unless you need to leave for an appointment or something”

        Also you might consider asking her if there’s a transport reason for her requests. If she leaves 10 mins early every day it might be because she can get an early bus and save herself an hours commute. If that is the case and she would actually be just sitting at her desk doing nothing for the last 10 minutes then perhaps done accommodation could be reached e.g. Knock 10 mins off her lunch break and give her an official early finish. Company culture permitting.

    7. MuseumChick*

      Oh please do talk to her about it. Maybe something like, “When we talked about this last time I don’t think I was clear. It is OK to ask to leave early very occasionally. That means you should really only ask to leave early X times in Y time period. Of course of there is some kind of emergency exceptions can be made. I’m telling you this because work norms are not always intuitive. As you gain more work experience and move into higher position this kind of thing becomes more flexible but early in your career before you’ve build up years of credit it’s something to be really aware of.”

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yeah, this is good phrasing. Explicitly framing it as, “This is something you might not pick up on your own, so I wanted to make it clear,” can help fend off any potential defensiveness and embarrassment as well.

        1. MuseumChick*

          I “stole” this phrasing from one of Alison’s answer to a letter. I don’t even remember which one but the phase about “this isn’t intuitive so I’m tell you” has always stuck with me.

    8. Blue eagle*

      And it would be a kindness to him to spell out what “need” means when you said it was OK if he needed to leave early (i.e. OK if you have a specific reason like a doctor’s appt, not OK just because you would like to go) and how often is generally acceptable (i.e. we would prefer that you don’t leave early more than once a month – or whatever your preference is). Sometimes interns are clueless – and I say this as a former clueless intern.

    9. ruff orpington*

      It also might be good to give her some suggestions on what to do when she’s done with her work and it’s before end of day. This might be the switch from task oriented (college term papers, lab assignments) vs. longer term jobs. Suggesting some things for long term projects, office organization, training programs, etc… might be a good idea

      1. Whats In A Name*

        This is a great idea, too. Or give her some books related to the field, leadership development, etc. that aren’t required but that she can read when she finished her tasks and has down time.

        I’m just threading this question here since it’s open thread and I am sure it will be seen: Is she leaving early because she is down with work or because she’s made plans – as in she knew in advance that she would need to leave early because she told friends she’d meet up with them at 5:15 but the destination is 20 minutes away? That could also be a coaching moment here.

        i agree with others that it’s a growing/coaching/learning opportunity since she is an intern and might not be aware of professional norms just yet. You can help her transition and succeed in her first “real” job by doing this.

    10. Emmie*

      Yes, say something! : ) Maybe “when I talked to you before about leaving early, I should have mentioned the office norms here and in most places for an intern / entry-level / employee without significant experience. Leaving early is normal one to two times per year [or whatever is okay with you] and those requests must be made only to me, your manager. You’re expected to be here 8 am – 5 pm daily. Excuse me for not telling you this sooner. I assumed that you knew this norm, and I should not have made that assumption. You’ll often see people at much higher levels leaving and arriving at different times. They typically put in extra hours at home, or have off-site meetings.” (It’s a little wordy, but hope it helps.) If she continues to ask others after the conversation, I’d treat it like a normal disciplinary issue to the intern and (perhaps) the person giving permission.

      1. Parenthetically*

        I like this too. I’m all for one last, “Let’s break this down in a super-kind, extremely clear way” before making it a disciplinary issue.

    11. LKW*

      I would also ask why she needs to leave early. Is there nothing she can do in that last half hour/ hour of time? Surely there is some project that could be parsed out to fill in those dead hours. File management, document shredding, inventory, something that is on a longer timeline and any help would be beneficial.

      The fact that she’s not finding those tasks and offering them up – or not suggesting things makes me think this is for the resume line, not the actual experience.

      How is her work otherwise?

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I was going to say to find out why she’s asking to leave early too.

        I had a coworker at OldJob who, if she left 5 minutes early, could catch Bus A, but if she stayed until end time, she had to wait almost an hour for Bus B. Our manager was willing to shift her hours a little so that wouldn’t happen.

        1. Ama*

          It could also be a workflow issue — she’s finishing her day’s tasks and the people who should be assigning more tell her they don’t have anything after 4 pm, or something.

          When I was supervising student workers the two things even my best workers needed guidance on were keeping me in the loop about their time off needs and learning how to be proactive about finding new tasks when they finished their current ones (whether that was remembering to do the list of tasks they were supposed to do regularly or just coming to me to ask for more work).

        2. CheeryO*

          This is exactly what I was thinking. I want to believe that I would have been self-aware enough even as a brand-new intern to explain the situation and ask if I could make up the time somewhere else, but I’m not totally sure that I would have been.

      2. Lily in NYC*

        We had an intern forced on us a couple of years ago – his dad is a big cheese who has done a lot of pro bono work for us. The kid was in HS (we usually have college juniors or seniors) and demanded that he wouldn’t work Fridays because he wanted to beat the crowds to get to the Hamptons. And my boss agreed!
        And he would roll his eyes every time anyone asked him to do anything. All he did all day was play on FB and look at photos of himself on Patrick McMullan’s website of “society” people. I am usually really nice to our interns, but when this jerkwad had the balls to ask me to switch cubicles with him (I sat by a window in a big cube and he had a crappy intern cube), it was pretty satisfying to say no to him (and I wasn’t very nice about it).

        1. KarenT*

          Omg that does take nerve! Not nearly as bad, but I did have a very entry level employee ask me if she could be next in line for an office. She seemed taken aback when I explained at our company offices were given by role, if you’re a manager or very senior individual contributor you get an office. She really thought she could just call dibs on next, like we’d just overlook all her much more senior colleagues.

          1. Engineer Woman*

            No, I think the intern wanting to switch desks to be by the window is worse. He’s an intern (temporary) and wants to switch cubes?!
            Whereas entry level permanent employee simply doesn’t know yet that offices as usually assigned by role seniority, not by calling dibs.

    12. neverjaunty*

      Going to someone else when she doesn’t like the (correct) answer you give her is completely out of line, on top of leaving early.

    13. imakethings*

      It sounds like she just doesn’t know. One thought I had, is that maybe she looks at her parents’ work schedules and thinks that entry level positions work the same way. For example, I grew up thinking all offices were flexible about in/out times because my mom’s job was. She left work early all the time. Granted, she constantly worked from home but just wanted to relocate to her couch some afternoons. I still hate zero flexibility in work scheduling, but as an adult I can look back and realize that it’s because it was a taught mindset. Also because some days I just miss my damn train and I know that nothing will *actually* happen if I show up at 8:04, but my employer doesn’t agree.

    14. Nacho*

      I remember my first job, thinking I could skip both my breaks and leave a half an hour early instead. You’re doing her a great service by explaining to her how things work

    15. Been There, Done That*

      This is one of the things someone learns on an internship–that they’re required to be on the job during their job hours, and that the boss can do things that line staff can’t BECAUSE they are the boss. Some kinds of jobs allow more flexible schedules if the work is done, but not every place is like that. Intern also needs to understand that it’s not her call to set her hours, it’s her boss’s.

  19. Spoonie*

    My company has scheduled new(ish) hires for headshots. The company as a whole is spread out nationally, so plenty of meetings take place via Skype. Being the anonymous grey face has been my favorite since I’m a younger employee who is making lots of big decisions for a rather larger company. In a lot of cases, I’m telling them that they need to make lots of changes, which can be uncomfortable since I tend to be in meetings with people several levels above me.

    Does anyone have any tips on what to wear to photograph well and in a way to be professional/be taken seriously? We’ve been given a dress code (black or navy blazer, solid color blouse, no chunky jewelry). I somehow don’t own either of those blazer colors, so I’ll be shopping. Any suggestions on places with reasonably priced blazers? My store of choice has gone out of business.

    1. Katie ElderBerry*

      For me it’s Target, they actually have some nice work wear and it’s cheap enough that I can afford to have it tailored.

      1. Tedious Cat*

        I really love Target’s work slacks, but I need to get them hemmed. Also, sizing varies a lot depending on the style (I wear a size smaller in the modern than the classic).

    2. Kowalski! Options!*

      Our local secondhand/Sally Ann shops are an absolute treasure trove of discarded designer duds. I’ve picked up some absolutely gorgeous work wear, especially blazers, for a song.

      1. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

        A lawyer with some fairly flexible court dress code agrees with this! People seem to buy blazers all the time and then never wear them. I get them new with tags all the time.

    3. Jen*

      My favorite store of choice has also gone out of business (The Limited! I miss you!). I recommend J Crew Factory for blazers. Banana Republic Factory is also good. Both have online ordering available if you don’t have one in your town. Otherwise, Loft is pretty good too.

      Try on a few different necklines for blouses and take a cell phone pic to see what works best. Bring a friend along who can be honest with what works best for you. A lot of people tend to go for button downs but those can look bulky. Sometimes just a nice buttonless shell works.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Banana Banana Banana. 90% of my closet is from there.

        However, I actually was just in a Banana Republic Factory store this past weekend, and you might have a tough time finding a navy or black blazer–it was all spring stuff, so it was mostly lighter colors! They do usually have good blouses, though.

    4. k*

      I think the dress code they’ve listed is a perfect outfit to wear. A dark neutral blazer is a classic, just make sure it fits well, and for the blouse choose a color that compliments your skin tone. If you happen to know where the photo will be taken, think about that when choosing a color, so that you can avoid matching the background if possible.

      I would check Kohls. They usually have a decent selection of basic business clothes year round. My other choices are Target and Old Navy for price, but their selection varies more by season.

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      Yes, try Target. Also try TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, or Ross. Lots of junk to pick through at those places, but I get lucky and find something nice often enough for me to keep going there. Just make sure you have enough time to spend.

      Also, if you have a fair complexion, stay away from lighter colored blouses. They will make you look really pale and washed out. In my last head-shot I wore a dark brown shell top, with a matching dark brown jacket/cardigan type thing in a stretchy, acetate type fabric, and I really liked how it came out.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yep, TJ Maxx is my go-to for nicer pieces on a budget. Their clearance is great, and this time of year they’ll be likely to have loads of wintery colors and blazers on clearance.

        And great advice about colors! I think with a dark-colored blazer especially, a saturated (not necessarily bright, but rich) color is going to photograph better.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          It took me so long to figure that out. I’m pretty fair, but not ghostly or anything, and I can’t tell you how many pictures I have where I look pasty and sickly. I don’t know what it is….maybe the reflection or lighting caused the flash? I have no idea.

    6. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      If you have any consignment shops in your area, check them out. I found a very nice Calvin Klein blazer at one near me that I’m sure was originally very costly, and I paid $30 for it. It was in great condition.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Another good suggestion! We have loads of “fine consignment” shops around town that only take designer brands, and a person can easily pick up very gently used high end professional clothing for 10-20% of what it would have originally cost.

    7. Here we go again*

      Clearance section at Macy’s… Seriously, they have some really good deals on decent quality stuff if you are willing to browse.

    8. Badmin*

      TjMaxx, Marshalls, Loft (Outlet), Banana Republic (Outlet), will have what you’re looking for at a great quality.

    9. Spoonie*

      Y’all are glorious people. I think a lot of my panic is heavily introvert induced with a side of “but I like my anonymity”. There’s also a dash of knowing that my boss and I are working on projects that people are going to balk at (again), and I’m going to have to explain how teapot design works in the modern era.

      1. Whats In A Name*

        Since you can’t wear chunky jewelry and I am not sure what you hair looks like I would suggest neutral makeup, stud earring if you wear earrings and wearing your hair in a simple style but down if you have longer hair, not pulled back. If you have a set of pearls that lie close to your neck that might be a good touch; I also agree with the person who said not to wear light colors, dark or dark jewel tones (not obnoxious but a dark teal or dark purple) can look nice under a navy suit jacket.

        I 2nd those saying upscale consignment or Banana Republic. Right now Banana is having a 40% off sale for merchandise in the regular stores and their blazers will last you a lifetime. Are they aren’t trendy.

    10. Marisol*

      My suggestion is unethical, but if it’s just for one photo, you can always buy a nice blazer, keep the tags on while taking the picture, and return it. No, I don’t do this personally. But I wouldn’t judge someone else for doing it if they felt it necessary under the circumstances.

    11. JustaTech*

      Target has surprisingly good work wear (but make sure it fits!), and I’ve been very pleased with H&M, of all places, for plain button-downs. If you’ve got time and energy Nordstrom Rack can have really high quality stuff too.

      1. CheeryO*

        I can vouch for H&M’s blazers too. They’re pretty nice quality for the price. They do tend to run small, though, so it’s best to be able to try them on in-store.

        1. Marisol*

          Especially if it’s just for a photo. No one will be able to see the stitching or how it drapes.

    12. ByLetters*

      If you’re worried about looking young (you kind of mentioned your age in passing, so not sure if you are), buy or borrow a pair of glasses to wear just for the picture. People unconsciously take this to mean you are older — I had a manager who used his insurance to pick up a nice pair of frames that he only ever wore to interviews & important meeting because he had something of a baby face.

      1. zora*

        Glasses, yes. And normally I hate the “makeup is more professional” bull$&#t, but in this case, makeup will be key. Honestly, if I was you, I would go find a good department store makeup person now, and get a consultation and a trial, and then make an appt with that person the day of the headshots. You want someone who can do very natural, professional looking makeup, but who has experience with photo shoots. There is very specific makeup that photographs well, but it will make your face stand out more, and you will look older and more mature if you have good makeup on.

        And definitely find out if the headshots will be color or black and white first to tell your makeup person, that makes a huge difference. I personally would try a Laura Mercier counter, or Bobby Brown, or maybe L’Oreal (not MAC, they are more about flashy and color). It will be a bit pricey, but this would be 100% worth it for me if I was worried about looking too young in professional headshots, and you will be using this headshot for at least a few years.

        1. Nic*

          I was coming to mention the makeup thing too, especially if you normally look washed out in dark colors.

          Additionally, ahead of the day (and possibly when/if you do the makeup consultation/trial) decided what to do with your hair. In my experience, straight down often comes across as young, while things like a pony tail or bun can be unflattering depending on face shape. Pick something that looks professional, clean, and flattering.

    13. Government Worker*

      I’ve recently ended up with several blazers from H&M, of all places, and they’re pretty cheap (like $30-60) and have worked out well for me. Worth checking out if you’re on a budget.

    14. Ama*

      I got a nice black blazer from JCPenney’s for a pretty reasonable price. It’s not quite as comfortable for all day events as the blazers I spent a little more on, but it looks just fine.

    15. BuildMeUp*

      I would go with a navy blazer over black because black can wash you out in photos, depending on your skin tone. Wear a blouse in a color that brings out your eyes.

      I would also look at the headshots of the people you’re usually in meetings with (the ones several levels above you) and try to make your headshot look similar. Take a look at what they’re wearing (colors, style, amount of jewelry), their expression (straight-faced, smiling, smiling without teeth, head tilted or straight to camera), etc.

    16. Anon Lawyer*

      I’ve long been concerned about looking younger than I am (and still am told I look ten years younger than I do). The biggest suggestion I have is to make sure that the clothes you are wearing are well-tailored and have a conservative (not too trendy) look. Clothes that are even a little oversized make you look much younger. Also, I wear glasses all the time, and they don’t make me look older. If you do get glasses just for the look, make sure they are not oversized and that they have an “older,” non-subglasses vibe.

      I need to wear suits on a regular basis and am now choosing quality over price, so most of my wardrobe is Nordstroms, Brooks Brothers and MM Lafleur. I highly recommend the Brooks Brothers outlet if you want conservative wear for a good price, men or women. (But all of my casual wear is from Target and Kohl’s.)

  20. Ella P.*

    I am working in a company where I’m very unhappy but the benefits are good. With lack of many other options I am trying to adapt my attitude to stay for now because I’m not in a position to leave. I can look for other jobs of course but my question is this, have anyone been able to make the most of a bad situation? Have any tips?

    I’m overqualified for my role, the non-exempt staff is treated very poorly in comparison to management here and I largely feel useless in this environment. I’ve talked to my manager who doesn’t seem to get it really and is unable/unwilling to help me and it’s the whole situation is wearing on me. People don’t leave given the benefits and so getting things done is an every day challenge (like getting someone’s new title updated in the Outlook system takes months). People are here for years and there’s no real accountability and they are completely ok with that. I start most days positive, determined to make the best of it and every day on the drive home, I’m angry and miserable and feel like i’m just wasting my life at this place. Any tips on how to hang in for now without losing my mind? I may take advantage of the their Tuition Assistance to try and make it more palatable but that will also tie me in some and I already feel trapped. Thanks.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I’m sorry. Benefits aside, this doesn’t really sound doable long-term.

      I hate to say it, but when I encountered a situation kind of like this, I coped by just doing what was necessary and stopped caring about anything I wasn’t directly responsible for. Example: at OldExjob, I had to send out these product literature things and they were supposed to have samples in them. Well, later management and purchasing couldn’t seem to get their shit together to keep them in stock, or find any alternatives, and I wasn’t supposed to send them out without the samples.

      It really bugged me–I felt like I couldn’t get what I needed to do my job and we had sales people asking all the time for this stuff. But I couldn’t get anyone to help me. So I just gave up and put the packets together EXCEPT for the samples, so when we did get some, I could slap them in and send the packets. If the sales folks or customers wanted other literature, I’d send that and tell them we were waiting on samples. Sometimes I was able to cobble a few sets together and send just a few instead of the amount they wanted.

      It was hella annoying, because up until then, I had prided myself on excelling at this part of my job. I had to disengage from what other people were (not) doing and just do what I could. Their failure wasn’t my failure. Doing this kept me from getting upset about the situation. In the meantime, I was job hunting.

      1. Ella P.*

        Thanks. I have a friend who has suggested I “just do the job you are paid to do” which is very different than what I am used to… I enjoy doing more and having more responsibility, taking on projects – there is none of that here and when I attempt to do more it’s awkward, like I’m reaching above my station… it’s clear that that isn’t expected of me and people even find it odd even though I was told and it was posted that this job was for a senior and skilled admin coordinator… I’ve now been here 18 months and nothing is changing… people are very comfortable at a turtle’s pace and being indifferent… i guess I need to gear up for the job search… thanks again!

        1. Wheezy Weasel*

          I’ve done several stints in places like this…everyone moves slowly and accountability nowhere to be found. One thing that kept me going was taking pride in the fact that I could do things faster, more accurately, and with better customer service than anyone else, even if it was evident only to me. Once I moved on to a job where this type of effort was valued (and in fact, normal) I was able to adapt quickly to the faster workload. In one role, I did stay about 2 years too long and got a bit complacent, so the next time I found myself there, I made a conscious effort to get out within 2 years.

          1. Ella*

            That is a concern of mine. Besides the soft skills I’m not even using a lot of the advanced skills I have in a number of programs and I worry that when I move on my qualifications could be outdated. I do attempt to just follow my own values and service level but it is challenging in an environment that doesn’t support or mirror that. Thanks for your feedback!

    2. Lily in NYC*

      I am going through this right now – my job has turned into much lower-level work lately because of the needs of my department. I am doing the same kind of work I did early in my career when I was paying my dues. I just keep reminding myself about the good things here – like I can dress pretty casually, I get a decent salary for what i do, the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere…it’s kind of like a mantra I keep saying to myself. But it doesn’t really help when I’m stuck in subway delays for the third time in a row.

      1. Ella P.*

        I hear you Lily. I do the same, the pay isn’t bad, I work from home one day a week (which is two hours I don’t drive a week)… but it’s not helping as much as I’d like it to. Good luck – at least you’re in “the city”, I’m in Philly and it doesn’t compare! :)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It’s odd how we can get locked onto on thing and keep ourselves in a crappy job for that reason.

      You say you MAY take advantage. Either do it or get out. Why torture yourself with years of this nonsense? Your medical costs will far exceed the cost of your tuition. And your medical costs will not be covered the way you think they should be covered.
      Meanwhile years of your life are flying by and you are learning how to limp from one day to the next. It would be much better to go out there and learn to soar like an eagle.

      And really this is not terrible hard, when you are looking for a new job you can say, “My current place offers tuition assistance do you do anything here in this regard?”

      In short when we allow ourselves to stagnate for tuition or whatever reason, it can be mind-bending. Do what you need to do so you do not think you are stagnating.

      1. Ella*

        Learning how to limp… great way to put it. This is the conclusion I’m coming to, that I HAVE TO leave to keep my health and sanity. But having been without work and also knowing my husband’s company offers poorer benefits at 3 times the price I try to take everything into account. Thanks for your comment.

    4. Rocketship*

      I empathize so hard on the feeling trapped bit. I’m in a somewhat similar position – in that my ability to do my job depends on some highly undependable people, support from management is… lukewarm, and there are lots of angry/miserable days. However, there are some serious tangible and non-tangible benefits (flexible schedule, recent promotion & raise, a not-insignificant percentage of really awesome coworkers, etc) that make me loath to leave. This is in addition to the fact that my partner is very slowly working toward quitting their dysfunctional miserable job, and I have pledged my utmost support emotionally and financially while that happens.

      I’ve found a few coping mechanisms:

      – Forgive yourself on the days you don’t do your best. Some folks upthread have mentioned this sort of “stay in your lane” mentality, and I fully agree. Think of it less as giving oneself permission to be lazy… and more as giving oneself permission not to single-handedly save the company. All you can do is the best you can do, and some days the best you can do is the bare minimum. Don’t beat yourself up for it – clearly, others in your organization aren’t.

      – Set boundaries. At least in my organization, there’s a lot of expectation that certain employees (usually lower on the totem pole and almost always female) take on a the lion’s share of the responsibilities. This in turn leads to what I’ve termed the “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” effect – i.e. if you go out of your way to be helpful even once, that then becomes your new norm and the next time you will be asked for that PLUS something else, and get attitude for saying no, and so on forever and ever amen. I’ve found that setting clear boundaries like “Rocketship is never available on weekends, ever” or “Rocketship will not file those TPS reports on behalf of the person responsible for them, unless specifically asked to and for good reason.”

      – Search for other jobs. No, seriously. You don’t have to accept any of them – you don’t even need to apply. But remind yourself that you have options. Remind yourself that there is a big wide world of Other Jobs out there, filled with Other People who would want to hire you and that could potentially be your people and not suck. And who knows? You just might stumble across something that makes it worth leaving your excellent benefits and shitty workplace behind.

      Best of luck, I hope you find ways to make it more bearable. We’re all rooting for you.

      1. Ella*

        Thanks so much. Great tips and I agree with you, just exploring options does seem to make things feel better… best of luck to you with your situation as well! My husband has a real tyrant for a boss so I can understand your support of your partner – I know I don’t want to burden mine who is dealing with his own challenges. Wouldn’t it be great if this time last year we were all in a better place? :)

    5. Been There, Done That*

      Gee, do we work together?

      Re nonexempt employees, my boss acts like lunch is a perk and unpaid overtime is the way to prove you’re a team player.

      I understand about being angry and miserable all the time. Try to have a life and some fun outside of the office. My job takes so much out of me that I’m exhausted on much of my off time, so it’s really really hard. I should take my own advice.

      1. Ella*

        I’ve heard we give the advice we most need to take :) Like you I am completely exhausted at the end of the day, it’s a real struggle to just get errands and chores done much less have fun (what is that?)… thanks for your comment! good luck!

    6. Thlayli*

      I vaguely recall a letter on AAM asking something similar and one part of the advice was essentially to look outside of work for things to fulfill your drive and ambition. Write a book, take up a craft etc.

      I don’t remember enough details to search for it however.

  21. Audiophile*

    I think I’m leading a project. I say I think because I’m still a little unsure if it qualifies as a project.

    Either way, it’s exciting.

    Basically, I work in development and suggested that we start grouping our lapsed donors accordingly, and give them their own GL. Since, I made this suggestion, I was told to take the lead.

    I’ve never done anything like this before and I’m a bit terrified.

    Project people, how’d you handle your first project? How did it go? What did you learn?

    1. Mongoose*

      I’m a project manager for a development office. Here’s some general advice:
      Start any project by stating your project goal, what you hope to accomplish, and how you’re going to determine success (short/long term). Then map out what you need to do (scope), figure out who you need help from to accomplish it (resources/stakeholder), and how long you think you’ll need to do it (timeline). Set up a schedule that you think is realistic (tasks/milestones) and assign it out to your resources.
      The most important things I learned early in my career were: take the time to set up the project up properly; make sure you’re talking to the people who you’ll need help in advance for their feedback/thoughts; don’t hesitate to stop check in frequently with your project team to make sure you’re still on the right track; and definitely, definitely, give yourself a deadline and a reason for having that deadline. Projects without deadlines (or arbitrary deadlines) are rarely successful in my experience. Good luck!!!

    2. SL #2*

      I’m going through my first project at this job too. I took the reins from an associate who’d gotten some initial research together but then quit, and now my boss is giving me the green light to move ahead with a project plan, recommendations, implementation, etc., but I am also lucky to work with some really talented project managers, so I’m picking up a lot just through osmosis. For example: oh, Jane created this project plan for Project A and it’s very useful, let me see if I can draw up something similar for my project, even if nothing is the same other than formatting.

  22. Mongoose*

    Looking for some advice for helping my 23-year old cousin in his career: He’s an ivy league grad from the DC area, who majored in environmental science. He’s not had any luck finding a permanent job on the west coast or his hometown, and is living at home trying to figure out what to do next. I live in Chicago and have offered him a place to stay if he wants to explore options in Chicago. My request is two fold:
    1. For anyone who works in environmental sciences or energy industries in the midwest–do you have recommendations for industry networking groups/professional groups he should look into?
    2. Any recent grads willing to share things that have made you feel supported or things you’d wish friends/family would/would not say to you about job searching/employment? We’re a decade apart in age, and my post-college experience has proven to be very different than his. I want to help him as much as I can, but saying, “here’s what I did!” doesn’t seem very realistic given the differences in the job market and economy.

    1. Not a Cat Lady*

      2. Don’t give industry-specific advice. That’s always very very annoying. If he ASKS you for advice, fine — you know, you can say, read AAM blog, get mentors, learn about the industry, tailor your resume. But I can’t stand it when people are in some other field and they lecture me about what they would imagine would be the thing to do because they watched a movie about it this one time, or whatever. Also, you sound like you have your head on straight, but it always irked me when people were surprised I got a job. Or a good job. Or a job quickly. Or a real job with a real title. Like just because you watched someone grow up doesn’t mean they’re still 10.

      1. Mongoose*

        Thanks, Not a Cat Lady. That’s a very helpful perspective. I was his babysitter for most of his life, but I have always been so impressed with him as a person, I cringe to think me celebrating his success could come off as surprise/relief/not believing he was capable. I will definitely consider how I express this moving forward.
        If you’re willing to share some more advice, is there anything on a personal level that anyone has said to you (not along the lines of industry specific advice) that has felt supportive or encouraging? I don’t want to say, “don’t worry–it will work out; I didn’t get a job immediately and look, I turned out fine!” That sort of stuff feels dismissive and and super jerky to me, not to mention my definition of success may be extremely different than his.

        1. Not a Cat Lady*

          Yeah, well, I think reading him helps. If you don’t know how to respond, you can ask! “Are you excited about the job!?” “How do you think it’s going?” You can turn gently turn questions around on him. I think generally when people are in a tough situation they want to feel supported. That means being open to talking to him, not necessarily giving advice. Or you could always say, “How do you want me to respond? Are you looking for advice or someone to celebrate with?” etc.

          For me personally, it didn’t mean very much coming from someone outside of the field. Because if someone random is like, “Try harder,” it’s like, what do you know. If someone in the field is like, “Try harder,” it’s like, you’re capable and able to do more, and it becomes exciting instead. You might be most supportive by not doing that much and showing him you trust him to make good choices and work through his own mistakes.

    2. Anxa*

      FWIW I know at least a handful of 33 year olds (I’m a little younger) that are still looking for full-time, regular jobs in environmental science. Most of them had been the first to be laid off in 2010 (last in, first out) and are still trying to get a real toe-hold.

      One of my closer friends in this position has lamented that his family just doesn’t seem to understand that of COURSE he’s worried about his financial future, and knows he probably won’t be able to have children or ever have a house, but that he’s still wildly successful in many other ways. Sure moving around is expensive, but he still sees it an an adventure. To get any job, permanent or not, is a real feat! And while the work can be physically unpleasant at some times, he’s also happy to get to be outside a lot and work on a variety of projects and avoid a desk job.

      Basically, he’s worried, but wishes his family understood how normal it is to work seasonal contracts and jump around a lot in that line of work.

      1. Mongoose*

        Thanks!! That is very helpful to know–I wonder if he knows it? I am sure his parents don’t. I’ve been trying hard not to come at this from that mindset–my definition of success may not be the same as his and I would hate to evaluate him that way.

      2. katamia*

        Yeah, one of my coworkers at the part-time (retail, but not soul-sucking) job was an environmental science major, and she’s talked about how hard it is to get a start in it, although I think she’s a pretty new grad (within the last 2-3 years if not newer than that) unlike the people you know.

    3. DiscoTechie*

      Mr. DiscoTechie is in the environmental/science field over here in West Michigan. I’d recommend Air and Waste Management as a great professional group to look into. It seems to be a good mix of public, consulting, and industry folks.

      1. PAH*

        There are several professional groups out there, and they tend to fall along media lines (air, water, waste). I will second AWMA for air quality. Others include Central States Water Environment Association (CSWEA), Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), the Auditing Roundtable (environmental auditing), Alliance for Hazardous Material Professionals (for CHMM certification holders), and I’m sure there are others. What I’ve seen is that participation seems to vary quite a bit locally, so he should figure out what group is most active in his area.

        One other suggestion: Does he have his 40-hour HAZWOPER certification? There are certain jobs that require it, but even for those where it’s not mandatory, it’s looked on as a positive in the environmental world. A lot of places offer the training, but if he’s a recent grad, he might be able to find a course where he qualifies for a student rate, rather than full price. It might give him a little bit of an edge in his job search.

    4. Writelhd*

      While not a full time job, the student conservation association works with federal and state agencies to do environmental internships. Many are at parks and provide housing and a small stipend, and can be various lengths in nature. Many environmental jobs are fiercely competed for and are often at federal or state agencies which are hard to get into before we even talk about budget cuts. Some agencies use SCAs as training pools for future hires. SCA internships are often at new college grad level, not undergrad level. I know several people working for state forest service who did multiple SCAs first. I did one and did not ultimately go straight environmental science with my career but do not at all regret having done it while I was young and had few expenses.

        1. Mongoose*

          Thank you so much for the recommendation; he’s just finished his undergrad, but I will send it his way. Being from DC I know he thought he’d easily get a job at a government agency, but the last 12month have proved to be pretty demoralizing.

          1. writelhd*

            It is nearly impossible to get a government agency job in many environmental fields without prior agency experience. For instance to get a job with the National Park Service you basically have to have previous NPS experience or your application doesn’t even register in their computer system. And SCA is especially for people who just finished college and are trying to get experience with environmental organizations.

    5. Rainy, PI*

      Well, if he went to an Ivy, one of the first things he can do is see what his university does for alums in terms of helping out with internship and job opportunities. He should be able to access some real help via their Career Services office.

      Also, if he’s in envsci, he could do worse than start looking hard at Colorado. We have a LOT of environmental science opportunities, from USGS/NOAA/NREL campuses through industry that uses environmental science grads and even recreational companies and startups that employ envsci grads. Something to keep in mind (for when the fed hiring freeze lifts) is the Pathways Program, which tends to be an easier route into federal agencies than the normal competitive process.

      I don’t know if this is helpful or not, but I hope so.

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        Seconding this. I was friends with a lot of environmental science/studies majors in college, and many of them have moved to Colorado! Several also did the Peace Corps, focusing on environmental issues, or went to graduate school.

      2. Mongoose*

        Thank you! It IS helpful–all of this is helpful. He’s mostly stuck to the west coast and east coast because that’s where our family is located, but I am hoping having him visit me in Chicago will open him up to seeing that there are things going on in the rest of the county :)

    6. Clever Name*

      I’m an environmental scientist. I’m not a recent grad, and I’ve been in my current job 6 years, so not terribly recent job searching experience. Here’s a list of industry groups he could look into. I tried to list the national ones. I’m in Denver, and there are many local/regional groups that don’t necessarily have a national presence.

      Society of American Military Engineers
      National Association of Environmental Professionals
      American Council of Engineering Companies
      Air and Waste Management Association
      American Wind Energy Association
      American Water Resources Association
      Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council

      Generally, it’s totally cool to introduce yourself as a new grad looking for a job. I would say that there’s usually at least one person at every meeting I attend who is looking for work, and I found my last job by saying just that in a meeting.

      If your cousin is open to relocating, the Denver area seems to have a ton of environmental jobs. EPA HQ for the Region is in Denver, Fort Collins has USGS, and Denver is a hub for engineering and environmental consulting firms.

      1. Mongoose*

        Wow–thank you for such a comprehensive list! A few people in this thread have mentioned Colorado; he’s never really lived anywhere other than the east or west coast, but I’ve been encouraging him to try traveling a bit more this year and trying out new places (like visiting me in the midwest).

        1. Clever Name*

          Colorado is pretty similar to the west coast in terms of being laid back, but it’s more libertarian/conservative than CA. More ranching than farming. Energy jobs, both renewable and fossil fuel. I really love it here.

    7. Jersey's Mom*

      Ecologist in WI here. If he’s more ecological type, I suggest he look for seasonal work (April-Oct) with state agencies (DNR, DOT) such as an LTE position. Also seasonal work with environmental consulting firms. Sure, it’s not permanent, but provides a paycheck for part of the year, and more importantly gets you on-the-ground experience (you do learn a lot with these jobs) and gives you a foot in the door for future permanent positions that may open up.

      1. Mongoose*

        Thank you! I think that sounds ideal. I know most of his internships have been more about policy (because that’s what his Ivy-league connections seemed to push him toward?) but he’s expressed frustration at not knowing how to go about getting an actual first job doing anything vs. mid-level policy maker at a government agency.

        1. Bex*

          If he’s in DC, has he considered looking into environmental NGOs? They all have big offices there, and many of them are currently staffing up their policy departments. My recommendation would be to look at any and all assistant level positions and consider them a foot in the door. When he finds one that looks interesting, then he needs to work the crap out his alumni association. I get emails at least once a month from new grads interested in my company. I’m always happy to talk to them about the company, my career path, etc and if they seem competent and qualified then I’ll give them a referral… it doesn’t guarantee them an in-person interview but it almost always gets them a phone screening. After that it’s on them.

        2. Jersey's mom*

          Most state and all federal agencies have websites where you can sign up to get emails about job postings. This also goes for some larger municipalities. Sign up for the email lists immediately, and be very liberal about the type of jobs you’re interested in — at least then he knows some of the jobs in his area/state that are available. Also shop the web for consulting firms that seem to be doing work that are somewhat related to his degree AND the things he likes to do. For example, I’ve seen a lot of wetland biologists go into the Forest Service. Didn’t seem too intuitive, but there are jobs there that work for them. The thing is now is to cast that net wide! Look at agencies and jobs that may seem only tangentially related to the degree. In my area of Environmental, it’s pretty standard to assume that the first years post-college will be temporary/short term jobs – which eventually lead to permanent positions after the person has a few years of actual work (and field work) under their belt.

          But, of course, you’re not the job hunter — maybe you can just print this thread of ideas and hand it to him. My suggestion to you is to not ask questions, but only suggest that you’d be willing to listen if he wanted to vent and that you’d help with any questions he might have. When you’re looking for a job and it’s not going well/fast, sometimes every question can seem like an accusation.

        3. Jersey's mom*

          And, I’m an ecologist that works for a large corporation in the energy industry. I’d say pretty much every large energy corporation (think Excel, Southern Company, Con Ed, Peoples Gas, etc) has a large and vigorous environmental department and most of them follow state and federal policy/law and proposals.

          Start following some of the webgroups of collaborators — like Bat and Wind Energy Collaboration, Avian PowerLine Interaction Committee, (or whatever energy environmental issue is of interest) and energy industry groups like EPRI and EEI.

      2. Clever Name*

        Yes. He can’t be afraid of having a seasonal job or two under his belt. He’ll likely start out doing fairly crappy fieldwork, at least in consulting. But doing the fieldwork is the necessary foundation for doing the higher level technical and project management work.

    8. CheeryO*

      Have him look into state environmental agencies, preferably in blue states that will be more likely to move money around to make up for funds that may or may not be lost from EPA in the next four years. We are still hiring in my state (mid-Atlantic), and an environmental science degree qualifies you for a ton of different job titles. The process is long and needlessly complicated (at least in my state), but it couldn’t hurt to go through it for any state that he’d be willing to live in.

      I would also agree that it’s a good idea to become a member of one or more professional groups. I have some experience with our local AWMA chapter, and they send out resumes of qualified candidates to the entire list-serv.

      Having job searched myself a few years ago, I loved when my older cousins just offered commiseration – I didn’t want advice, to be honest, but having them say, “It’s hard, right?” was really comforting.

      1. Mongoose*

        Thank you! I am definitely more of a “let’s just admit this sucks and have a nice meal/beer together” type of cousin to him these days, so it’s reassuring to hear that may just be all he needs from me right now :)

    9. Thinking Outside the Boss*

      The California Department of Water Resources is hiring for environmental scientists up through May 8th. As a state employee, I can tell you the pay isn’t great, but the benefits and weather are awesome! Just have him go to their Web site.

    10. Rogue*

      If he doesn’t mind traveling, he could look into being an environmental inspector for midstream projects. Tell him to check out ERM dot com.

  23. Construction Safety*

    Friday funny, posted here today because it has both HR and a relevant punchline:

    An HR manager was knocked down (tragically) by a bus and was killed. Her soul arrived at the Pearly Gates, where St.Peter welcomed her. “Before you get settled in” he said, “We have a little problem…you see, we’ve never had a HR manager make it this far before and we’re not really sure what to do with you.”

    “Oh, I see,” said the woman, “can’t you just let me in?”

    “Well, I’d like to,” said St Peter, “But I have higher orders. We’re instructed to let you have a day in hell and a day in heaven, and then you are to choose where you’d like to go for all eternity.”

    “Actually, I think I’d prefer heaven”, said the woman. “Sorry, we have rules…” at which St. Peter put the HR manager into the downward bound elevator.

    As the doors opened in Hell she stepped out onto a beautiful golf course. In the distance was a country club; around her were many friends, past fellow executives, all smartly dressed, happy, and cheering for her. They ran up and kissed her on both cheeks, and they talked about old times.

    They played a perfect round of golf and afterwards went to the country club where she enjoyed a superb steak and lobster dinner. She met the Devil (who was actually rather nice) and she had a wonderful night telling jokes and dancing.

    Before she knew it, it was time to leave. Everyone shook her hand and waved goodbye as she stepped into the elevator. The elevator went back up to heaven where St. Peter was waiting for her. “Now it’s time to spend a day in heaven,” he said.

    So she spent the next 24 hours lounging around on clouds, playing the harp and singing; which was almost as enjoyable as her day in Hell. At the day’s end St. Peter returned. “So,” he said, “You’ve spent a day in hell and you’ve spent a day in heaven”. “You must choose between the two.”

    The woman thought for a second and replied: “Well, heaven is certainly lovely, but I actually had a better time in hell. I choose Hell.”

    Accordingly, St. Peter took her to the elevator again and she went back down to hell. When the doors of the elevator opened she found herself standing in a desolate wasteland covered in garbage and filth. She saw her friends dressed in rags, picking up rubbish and putting it in old sacks. The Devil approached and put his arm around her.

    “I don’t understand,” stuttered the HR manager, “The other day I was here, and there was a golf course, and a country club. We ate lobster, and we danced and had a wonderful happy time. Now all there is, is just dirty wasteland of garbage and all my friends look miserable.”

    The Devil simply looked at her and smiled, “Yesterday we were recruiting you, today you’re staff.”

    1. Juli G.*

      The one thing I always find unbelievable about this joke is that executives would ever be happy to see the HR manager they previously worked with.

  24. BRR*

    Any tips on writing down a large amount of policy? I’m the first person to do what I do at my organization which has involved a lot of process creation. I’m now facing the huge task of creating the formal documentation for everything. I barely have time to work on this and it’s proven to be very labor intensive.

    I’m currently trying to complete it in small chunks but in the meantime I keep getting (valid) questions about things because there’s nothing to direct them to. Unfortunately I cannot delegate this or other parts of my workload.

    1. Sibley*

      Step 1: data dump. Write it all down, format, spelling, whatever doesn’t matter. If there’s a template you’re supposed to use, try to get it into that. It’ll be messy, that’s ok.
      Step 2: clean it up. One process at a time. Bonus points if it’s the process that’s generating a lot of questions, so you can point people to that rather than take the time yourself.
      Step 3: review/revise for clarity after you’ve gotten some feedback or just let it sit for a while.
      Step 4: periodically review/revise for process updates.

    2. OtterB*

      If it’s feasible to make the process documentation available as a work in progress, you could create an outline for it and fill in the chunks as people ask about them so you’re doing the most-needed parts first. That will give you something to point people to in the meantime.

      Won’t work if the document will have to be reviewed by someone (then you can’t have it keep changing), but if it’s just a matter of transferring the knowledge out of your head into a document, it might help.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes, an outline! Outlines are the only way I can survive writing multi-page anything.

      2. Amy*

        This is how I ended up doing something similar. I used the styles function in word to do the outline. I just started really high level. When I was working on one section and it made me think of something that needed to be added somewhere else, I would just jump up or down and add it to the outline. When I was done with the outline I just started writing it out section by section. It went pretty fast because I was just taking my blurbs and converting them into paragraphs instead of working from scratch.

    3. Professional Cat Lady*

      We hired a contractor to do this for us last fall. I’d suggest finding a template that’s as close as possible to what you’re trying to document policy-wise. Then you can comb through and change it accordingly. Your insurance company would be my first stop for something like that.

    4. Borgette*

      Start by documenting the things you get asked about the most. You’re already taking time to think through the answers, just start putting all of those explanatory emails into a folder. Later you can compile them into an informal FAQ-type document that can be publicly available until the formal documentation is ready. Looking at what gets asked will also help you setup the documentation with an outsider-friendly approach.

      After that it’s really important to have a big picture outline including all the major steps. i.e. – (receive custom teapot design, confirm order, 3D print custom teapot, quality test, redesign/reprint if needed, paint teapot, quality check, repaint if needed, notify customer, ship teapot) Seriously – give yourself a do-not-disturb day and get this done! Don’t get into how the steps work, or who is involved, or how long it takes – just focus on capturing the major step in the process. Do it however works for you – an outline, a flowchart, a process map – as long as you capture the full process. Your goal here is to avoid missing any critical steps in the process.

      Once you have your process laid out, chunk it out. Figure out which sections need which documents, how many files you’ll need to create, and how much work this documentation will take. Pay attention to how the files will need to interconnect, and how to efficiently organize the documentation. Setup the folders/document/trello board/process management tool that your documentation will be kept. Then, set a realistic pace for yourself. Maybe you can do the documentation for one section each week. Maybe it’s more like one document each week. As long as you keep moving forward, you’re making progress!

    5. Jesmlet*

      This is me right now because the external person they hired to do it did a crappy job. Actually twice me, once for an external license application, and now for an internal version. I outlined, decided how I wanted to format, then just tackled a little bit of a different section at a time. We have an external drive with a bunch of documents saved and I’ve saved everything there with the disclaimer that it’s a work in progress. It’s saved in sections right now but will eventually get pulled together in one big document.

    6. Ama*

      Oh, I’ve done this a bunch — either because I originated my role or I end up helping to redevelop processes and then have to update the old documents. What I try to do is write my first draft while I’m actually going through the steps myself — a lot of the policies I’m working on involve spreadsheets or particular software so writing things down as I’m going through the steps makes sure I describe screens and fields accurately and don’t forget things that I would think are obvious but which a new user would be confused by.

      But, yeah, you kind of just have to do things in small bits at a time when you have time. I’ve been lucky so far because I’ve been writing my current job’s processes down without anyone really needing it — but I’m hiring an admin in the next couple months so I’m just crossing my fingers I have enough of the standard processes finished to bring them up to speed.

    7. Sabine the Very Mean*

      As far as managing the workload, check out the pomodoro technique for productivity. I love it.

  25. EA*

    I would like to take a minute to bitch about admin professional day.

    I seriously dislike it, for all the reasons Alison has written about in the past. I told everyone in my office to please not do anything, because I don’t like being singled out. They pressed on why I would turn down presents, and I went on to explain how I find it condescending, and if they want to do something, work on giving everyone respect all year long. They begrudgingly agreed, so I considered it a success.

    Then a woman from my boss’ new department got me chocolate (I thought this was a nice, reaching out gesture, there has been a lot of tension with his new department); so my boss felt bad because she gave me something and he didn’t (he knew I didn’t want anything, this was about him) and forced someone else to buy me flowers, and then brought in bagels. It was just another of the many events which end up all about him, and his image.

    I guess it wasn’t the worst result, but like ugh, I tried to communicate and the day ended up being a show of how much you appreciate me for other people, when I asked you not to.

    What was everyone elses day like?

    1. Emily S.*

      I’m also an admin. I work for a small family-owned company (my office has ~30 people, mostly men). Here, nobody ever does anything for the day, or even acknowledges it, and that’s fine with me.

      Like you, I hate being singled out. I’m glad no one got me candy, because I’m trying to watch my weight.

    2. Bigglesworth*

      I don’t like Admin’s Day either, but I think my department handled it well this year. There wasn’t a card on my desk and I had honestly completely forgotten about it, but when I opened my email, I saw I had a digital $35 Amazon gift card. I don’t know if or what any other admin got, but I appreciated how low-key it was this year.

    3. EA 2*

      I almost want to schedule off for this every year. I come in to cards (with glitter- I hate glitter), the EDU department usually pool money and buy us something (me + one other EA) and then sing (yes, sing ) when they present it and then our bosses make a big production out of wanting to take us out to eat (so awkward every year), but it always is scheduled for another day because we have a lecture on the last Wednesday of every month.

    4. EA, Too*

      I am tempted to take this day off every year. Every year the EDU dept. pools money and buys me & the other EA a gift and they sing (yes, sing) when they present it. Our bosses make a big show out of scheduling to take us to lunch (we don’t go on the actual day because we always have a lecture on the last Wed. of the month) and this year I was given a card with tons of glitter ( I hate glitter- it gets on everything).

      I would be perfectly happy if they just did nothing.

      1. zora*

        Wow, I’m feeling even more grateful for my company’s approach after seeing some of these, yikes! My sympathies!

    5. Anxa*

      One of the things I don’t like about Administrative Assistants day is that it seems to be an appreciation day divorced from the actual job duties. Lots of professions have appreciation days, but they seem to focus more on appreciating the role, the profession, the skills, the benefits it brings society, etc.

      Admin Day seems more like a holiday that doesn’t acknowledge the actual work and skills, but is acknowledging an under-appreciation. It’s like it’s built on the underappreciation. Which in some places is true, which means you probably should be having a holiday, but rather giving people professional development opportunities, raises, etc. And in companies where the administrative assistants already out earn a lot of their coworkers, seem appreciated as they are offered full-time jobs and benefits, it seems kind of weird to single them out instead of others.

      1. zora*

        ” It’s like it’s built on the underappreciation. ”

        Exactly! That is so annoying. It feels a bit patronizing, no matter how much people try to be nice about it.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Since I don’t have a job, it’s just like any other day. :P

      I never minded it at Exjob, because they already paid us well and we got a $50 gift card. I wasn’t about to complain about that. But I don’t want flowers, or chocolate, or bagels, or some tacky little thing. Just pay me well and don’t treat me like an indentured servant.

    7. look_a_squirrel!*

      I give my admins a nice certificate expressing appreciation and granting a few hours of additional PTO time. No big fanfare, just a simple acknowledgment in a currency that they love to receive.

    8. Awkward Interviewee*

      At OldJob we had an admin for several years who was terrible – both because he was terrible at his job, and also a passive aggressive obnoxious person. When admin professionals day rolled around the first year, we didn’t even realize it was that day, and so didn’t do anything. He then passive aggressively announced to us that it was admin professionals day. (I guess to make us feel bad or to fish for compliments?) So then the next day a coworker had to bring in treats and a card for us to give to him. It was so bad and awkward.

    9. Marisol*

      We got our usual bouquet of flowers, and this year had a lunch catered in with just the admin in attendance, and got a $75 Amazon gift card. Not sure why it wasn’t for $100–that’s what I’ve gotten at other firms. I can see why someone would be uncomfortable with individuals in the company giving gifts, but I’ve never found the day condescending. Forced and Hallmark-y, yes. A couple people asked me why I got flowers and I laughed and said something like, “because it’s my special day and I’m so wonderful! Didn’t you get me a present?” and that’s generally my attitude. But I might not like to receive little gifties from random people I support, as though I were an elementary school teacher.

      1. Marisol*

        Ha ha what I meant about my attitude was that my attitude toward admin professional’s day was irreverent, so I make jokes about it. Not that my attitude toward my coworkers was that I am wonderful and deserve presents.

        Although, I am, and I do…

      2. zora*

        Your lunch reminded me that what my sister always said she hated most about Admin Day at her former company, is that they threw a whole Admin Day Lunch event.. and made the admins do all the work to organize and set up the party… and clean it up… Excuse me while I do a huge Liz Lemon eyeroll.

        Again, I’m super grateful my current job didn’t pull that nonsense.

        1. Marisol*

          Ha ha ha I did notice our receptionist start to pack away the leftovers and I told her to stop and tell the interns/day porters to handle it, which she did.

          That is so…vulgar though. But not surprising.

    10. Anon today...and tomorrow*

      I’m not an admin but there was an email sent to the staff reminding us of the day and that we should send the admin in our office a gift or a card. She’s a very nice woman… but only to certain staff. To others (myself included) she’s rude and dismissive and goes out of her way to avoid interaction with them. The person who sent the email reminder gets the nice side of our admin. Blech!

    11. Lily in NYC*

      I find it so demeaning! Our HR makes everyone in our dept. sign a card for us and then attaches it to a gift. I asked her to skip giving my dept. the card this year and she was SO offended. I explained to her that it makes me uncomfortable to have my coworkers write platitudes to me and that I don’t celebrate my birthday for similar reasons, but she took it very personally. She bitched to my boss but my boss understood once I explained the reasons many admins don’t appreciate this fake holiday. My sister just tells her EA to take off a day of her choosing and her EA loves it.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        And I’ve written this here before – but one year they took up a collection for a gift and I was mortified that people who make much less money than I do were expected to chip in for a starbucks gift card (which is a completely useless gift for me – I gave it away).

        1. EA*


          The other issue is people not getting that high level admin jobs can be lucrative. I just hate the fake appreciation. If your boss genuinely appreciates you, that is great, but traditionally admins are under appreciated. I don’t think making up some platitudes and giving you trinkets is going to solve the root of the problem.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            Yes yes yes!! And don’t you hate it when you get this “compliment”: “Oh, we know you are really the one who runs this place and that nothing would get done without you”. It’s just so fake and is usually from someone trying to flatter me into doing a favor. I always reply that it’s simply not true and that I would be fired within 2 hours if I tried to do the type of work my boss and teammates do (I have no idea how to do financial modeling or create crazy complicated excel sheets full of formulas and pivot tables).

            1. EA, Too / EA 2*

              Yes, I hate that compliment. It might take a few weeks to get the new “trained” (haha) but I have no illusions about being irreplaceable.

        2. Marisol*

          Chip in for a Starbuck’s card? I’ve only ever gotten a Starbucks card in a token amount. How much was it for, if you don’t mind me asking? Anything over twenty bucks seems like a waste to me–I’d rather have a giftcard to Amazon or Amex.

            1. Marisol*

              Dang. That’s a high-roller Starbuck’s card. And I would hate to think of someone who made less than me coughing up cash for it.

              1. Lily in NYC*

                It was a pretty large division – so it was probably 50 people giving money (and a few of the bigger bosses probably gave $20…).

        3. CheeryO*

          Yeah, I’m on the other side of this dynamic, and it’s a sore spot for me. No one’s taking up a collection for me for Christmas, my birthday, and a special holiday, and I make less than our admin does. Our newer staff make significantly less. On top of that, our admin is straight-up bad at her job (not for lack of skill but for lack of trying) and is not a particularly nice person.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            This is such a huge part of why I don’t like this stupid “holiday”.

    12. LizB*

      I’m not an admin, but at our department’s all-hands meeting (which fell a couple of days before AP Day) we made sure that someone gave our admin a shout-out during our normal shout-out time for her great work… and then a half-dozen other people also chimed in to give her shout-outs because our admin is just that awesome. I hope it didn’t make her feel too singled out, since they were all sincere compliments/expressions of gratitude, and she does regularly get shout-outs and informal thank-yous at other times of the year.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        I think it really just depends on the person. It would absolutely mortify me – and the worst part is that I wouldn’t feel comfortable letting you know that it embarrassed me because I wouldn’t want to seem ungracious.

      2. TL -*

        our admin-type person (she just got a promotion) is amazing and I tell her so pretty frequently (and with lots of embellishment, but we’re very jokey and similar age/levels). But that’s because she takes away all the work I don’t want to do which usually involves nasty paperwork and talking to people, so it’s me popping in to say, “oh this! I don’t know how to this! Do you know who to talk to?” and then she tells me not to worry about it and then three days later she emails me to tell me it got taken care of.

        Magic. Pure, blissful, magic.

    13. Morning Glory*

      My HR department throws an all-day event with a “professional development workshop” at the end. I went last year and it was basically about how to self-care so you don’t burn out in your lifetime of serving others. That seemed like basically an extension of the spirit for the entire day.

      It was so different from what I had expected I ended up leaving early and crying in the bathroom. I suggested to HR we do a professional development workshop similar to events every year for interns and for female managers on women’s day – with advice on how to get promoted, what skills/training/projects etc. are most important but they never responded, and kept the same “professional development” speaker this year.

      This year I skipped the events. However, my immediate supervisor got me a bouquet of flowers with a nice note, which touched me more than I expected. Even though I’m not a fan of the day, I thought it was sweet of her.

      1. Been There, Done That*

        I hear you. My job is six-of-one, half-dozen-of-another, and because of the “admin” aspect my manger treats me as if (a) advancement isn’t part of the picture and (b) even if it were I wouldn’t think of advancement. The not-admin part demands brains, education, knowledge, planning, and thinking ahead, all of which my boss ignores. This is at a company that treats “the admin” like a separate species from “the team.” I’ve been sent out of a required training because the real admin went to get lunch and somebody had to answer the phones. Being a hybrid is very very uncomfortable at times.

    14. zora*

      I find it so eyerolly, but this was my first one at this job. The corporate office sent everyone a card signed by the BigBoss and an internal gift certificate for $25. So, we’re allowed to spend it on anything we want, food, a gift, put it toward something else. And then we attach the certificate with our expense report and get reimbursed the $25.

      Like you, not the worst result, but meh. I am glad they didn’t make a big deal about it, and it’s nice to have the choice to spend it on whatever I want.

      But OTOH: I would have rather had that $8000/year back (I took a paycut when I was hired on permanently last year).. (or better health insurance, or 5 million other things) … and the fact that I have to send in an expense report to get the $ is actually adding another 30-45 minutes of work to my plate, when I already have to do multiple expense reports for other people as part of my job. And $25 is only a little less than my hourly rate…..

      So, yeah… Trying to fake enthusiasm about it wasn’t easy.. but now I’m trying to just Let It Goooo and just appreciate that at least I got something and not get too annoyed about it.

    15. Spice for this*

      Admin professional day – I don’t care for it. It’s like any other day to me. I am working a temp admin job and my supervisor gave me a nice card. I do appreciate it since she notices my hard work.
      Years ago while I worked at a large company, the HR manager took all the admin out to lunch at a nice restaurant. I did have a nice time and appreciated it.

    16. New Bee*

      My husband is not an admin, but his company bought him gifts anyway and he got two gift cards! Meanwhile, only thing I’ve ever gotten from my job is a birthday card meant for someone else…

    17. Been There, Done That*

      My firm has an online career development site. It has a separate “admin” tab. For administrative people who want to stay right where they are doing the same thing forever, it’s ideal.

  26. S.*

    I have a final interview for a job I’m excited about at the university where I work. When I applied, there was a spot on the application for salary requirements. I remember filling it out with something at least $5k higher than what I make now, but I have completely forgotten what I put there. If I’m offered the job, how do I go about negotiating salary when I don’t remember what I put there?

    1. KiteFlier*

      Did you apply using an online system? If so, you can most likely log in and view your application to see what it was.

    2. Beezus*

      You’ve presumably learned a lot more about the job than you knew when you applied, so it doesn’t really matter. Give your range based on what you know about the job now. If you ask for $44K and they counter with saying “You put $42K on your application!”, your response is that you’ve learned a lot more about the role since you applied and you’ve done some additional research on the market rate, and $44K makes sense.

  27. Anna*

    Does anyone have any advice about how to present yourself as a strong candidate when you’re more a middle of the pack candidate? I’m trying to help my sister apply for internships this summer. I work in a creative field where projects were more important than grades, and she’s in a scientific field where grades count a lot. Her grades aren’t awful, but their not amazing either and I’m not sure how to advise her. I think she has a stronger resume than she thinks she does, but she’s definitely getting discouraged when she’s just shy of the GPA requiremtn and is disqualified from the application process. Her school also only caters to students with stellar GPA’s. Any advice about how to apply or where to look when you’re an average applicant would be most appreciated.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      Any relevant experience is good; you don’t have to aim for top tier internships. If she’s at a large public university, she can talk to her professors and find one who will take her as a summer lab assistant. The pay’s usually pretty decent for a summer job. Her academic advisor probably has a list of professors willing to take on students that he could share. Even with less than stellar grades, there should still be opportunities. If she had a course that was particularly interesting, or that she did well in, she could also approach that professor directly and ask. Professors LOVE it when students take an interest in their work.

      If she’s at a small or private college, ask about exchange programs. Some smaller colleges have programs that facilitate their students working at larger universities over the summer. If no such program exists, she could contact and advisor or student coordinator in the department she’s interested in directly and ask politely if any faculty members are looking for undergraduate summer assistants.

      I know we all cringe at the ‘gumption’ described in some of the letters here. But getting a summer lab assistant job at a research university is one specific area where it is still rewarded. Make sure she does her research and is actually interested in the work of the professors, though.

    2. Anxa*

      She may not be able to get an internship at all. I had a poor GPA and I didn’t qualify for some of them, and I couldn’t compete for those I did qualify for. I’ve since worked out some health issues, but GPA is forever and you really only get one chance at it.

      What is her work experience like? It can be hard to find student friendly jobs getting science experience, so see if she could qualify for any student jobs TA-ing lab course or preferably working as a student lab tech. Check to see if any local high schools have employers looking to start STEM pipelines there, they may consider her for a similar job. The narrative is that the country is desperate for scientists when you’re K12 and in undergrad, and then post-grad life is dominated by how competitive it is, so see if there are any programs or jobs on the feeding the pipeline side.

      Keep in mind she may be competing with PhD’s and MS holders for lab assistant jobs, so it’s best for her to get some sort of experience while she’s still a student.

      1. katamia*

        Yeah, I know there are certain grad schools I’ll never get into solely because of my GPA (thanks, college depression). However, there may also be more flexibility at some places regarding GPA than it looks like, similar to how some jobs say they want X years of experience but actually they’re open to people with less if the candidate is otherwise strong. Anna, I don’t know how long each application takes, but if they’re relatively short, I’d recommend applying for at least some of the ones (that she really wants) that claim to have a minimum GPA requirement that she may not meet and then writing a killer cover letter (and having killer recommendations if these internships want recomnendations). Sometimes the rules are actual rules, and other times they’re suggestions and guidelines.

        1. Anxa*

          Yes! She absolutely shouldn’t give up, but I think it’s important to try to capitalize on the student status now and not depend on going through the usual channels, which may be gated.

          Yeah, I really wish I had applied to more of the ones where I was on the borderline.

          Even now I have a hard time assessing when to ignore the ‘minimum requirements’ on job applications.

    3. Juli G.*

      What’s on her resume? When I did HR for STEM fields, lots of managers preferred a candidate that was at 3.25 GPA but also was on the football team or softball team or president of the sorority/fraternity/professional organization or worked 20 hours a week at the Dairy Queen during the school year to the 3.95 candidate who just did school. They were looking for well-rounded people that multi-tasked.

    4. TL -*

      Does she have good relationships with any of her professors? I didn’t apply for my internships – one, I just asked a new professor if he was taking any new students (he was); the other, a professor at my school told me to pick a professor from her grad school that I was interested in and she’d put us in contact.

      The most important thing is that she’s interested in the science and she can talk intelligently about what she’s interested in and why. She should try and build relationships with her professors and apply for any internship she’s qualified for.

      1. idek*

        This one. I graduated with a 2.9 in my STEM field, but with six internships (… health issues happened so undergrad took A While; also hence the 2.9) and got into a top-15 STEM PhD program straight out of undergrad. I’ve also interned multiple places with a 3.0 cutoff, because I knew people there.

        (For instance, a national laboratory couldn’t hire me because they had a very strict 3.0 cutoff, so my adviser covered my accommodations & travel & paid me & I was technically a “guest” at the lab.)

  28. Definitely NOT a T-Rex*

    Hey folks!
    Long story short: I’m trying to transition into a very closely related field and start a new career within that field. I’m applying to positions out-of-state in areas that I’d always wanted to live, but I’m applying to in-state jobs as well. I’m encountering some of the usual challenges so far (in that I’m assuming local candidates will be favored over me for the out-of-state jobs). Nothing I can do about that but persist.
    However, on a local in-state level, I’ve recently started worrying about a different challenge. The problem is that my current town (and general geographic region within the state) has….a not so positive reputation. Stereotypes about the people who live here are strong, negative, and—most of the time, I’ve found—are unfortunately accurate. I’ve never lived here before I started my current job, and now I’m concerned about being stereotyped as an applicant as well.
    The things I have going for me are that my resume makes it clear that I’ve never lived her before and that I don’t have some of the stereotypical qualities of local residents (for example, I am highly educated whereas the local population tends to be barely educated). However, I am still fearing that the moment in-state hiring managers see my location, they may have a negative gut reaction that clouds my candidacy. (I can’t emphasize the negative reputation of my town’s residents enough, especially politically.)
    Has anyone been through something like this before, or is this not really a “thing”? Any tips for navigating this tricky issue?

    1. Fabulous*

      Is there a metro area near your location where you can say you’re from? For example, you could put “Detroit Metro Area” if you’re in a not-so-great neighborhood within a certain radius from the city. Or just say “Chicago” instead of a certain neighborhood within the city. Or if you’re in a little podunk town near to a larger, more well-known/well-regarded town, use that one.

      1. Definitely NOT a T-Rex*

        That’s an interesting suggestion I had not considered.

        Hmm. The closest metro is ~2h45m away, and the towns close to mine tend to carry the same reputations (as a regional generalization, I think). I’ll have to think more about where the fine line is between minimizing stereotypes and blatant lying on my application.

        1. Fabulous*

          Has including your location/city/region on your resume garnered negative results? If so, maybe it would be better to just leave off your location altogether. Especially if you plan on relocating, you can perhaps address your location situation in your cover letter.

          1. Definitely NOT a T-Rex*

            So, within the past year alone, I’ve had to make several work-related trips to the two largest metro areas in my state (including the one closest to me). In both places, the subject of where I’m from somehow came up–and both times, my response elicited disgust from the people I was speaking with. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but as I’ve had to start anticipating employers’ perspectives while preparing my application materials, that concern has increasingly grown.

            I’m still pretty early in my job search and have yet to be invited for an interview with anyone, so I don’t know how this is actually coming across. I do think that taking my current location off of my resume is probably an excellent option to consider at this point. If there’s going to be some prejudice, I suppose it can wait so that they can consider it within the context of my actual interviewing skills and interpersonal vibe.

            Thanks for the advice!

            1. Rainy, PI*

              When people ask where I’m from, I tend to say “most recently X” (being the large and amazing and wonderful city I lived in for 6 years before I moved here) and at that point if they press I say “originally [terrible armpit where I was born and raised]”. You could just reverse it. “Oh, I’m originally from X”. It might not fly in a place that isn’t widely known to attract residents from all over the country, but worth a try in conversation at least?

              1. Definitely NOT a T-Rex*

                Hmm, that’s another good strategy that I’ll have to keep in my back pocket. Thanks!

            2. Thlayli*

              If someone asks me where I’m from I would usually reply where I grew up and then say where I live now. E.g. “I’m from Mercury but I’ve been living in Saturn for the last 2 years.”

    2. Ripley*

      As someone who hires in practically every corner of the country at a company based in a highly educated/progressive metro area, we wouldn’t discount someone specifically for being from a specific geographic location. Your education level and experience listed on your resume would most likely be enough to separate you from the reputation you are looking to avoid.

      Quality candidates and employees are not region specific, and good hiring managers and HR departments realize that and won’t make those generalizations.

  29. Windchime*

    So my old boss at exjob has been a terrible bully for a couple of years. I finally left because he was gathering ammunition to fire me (as he had done to several others). Apparently there has been some kind of investigation and……nothing. It looks like he is going to get to keep his job as far as any of us (current and former employees) can tell.

    Depressing as hell.

      1. Windchime*

        It worked, Elizabeth. She was fired today. (I changed the pronouns in my original post to make the situation less identifiable, but now there is no need because she is GONE. So whatever you did, worked!

        1. Anony Oz*

          Wow – I feel for her, but actions have consequences. Reckon she’ll learn? Or be bitter?

        2. Elizabeth West*

          WOO HOO!!!
          *turns on karma machine again; sets to Good; aims at self* Hey, worth a shot! ;)

          I don’t want to be mean to people but bullies sometimes need a big wake-up call.

    1. LKW*

      Oh been there. Eventually one of two things will happen: Person will retire or someone comes in who doesn’t allow that kind of nonsense in the workplace.

      A ex-boss of mine who was a terrible bully is moving from job to job because of her attitude and her flexible ethics. I hate to admit it but it’s nice to see her struggle.

  30. JobSeeker017*

    Supporting and competing with a friend for job interviews

    A former co-worker turned very good friend and I are both actively searching for jobs.

    I am eight years older and have a high-level position on my resume with quantifiable accomplishments. She is younger with a series of steady government positions. We’re both in the same field but with different specializations.

    We meet up at least twice a month to talk job searching, interview prep, and gripe about life and bills. On Tuesday, we each brought our laptops and conducted a side-by-side search. I’m focused on private businesses, while she wants to apply to municipalities, universities, and hospitals.

    Sometimes we apply for the same position, usually unknown to us until one is invited to an interview and mentions it to the other. I often feel badly when I’m contacted and she isn’t.

    My questions are: What should I do to alleviate my guilt? Should we compare resumes and cover letters? Is this situation so common that it’s understood that occasional competition will arise, and it’s best to limit discussion to avoid upsetting our friendship?

    Please share your thoughts and experiences, AAM commentators.

    1. Shamy*

      I guess the thing I tell myself is jobs are not boyfriends. It isn’t a zero sum game. You being contacted isn’t causing them to not contact her. I had a situation where my job was hiring on a lucrative contract. There were 3 of us they wanted to hire, but we had to go through the hiring process like everyone else. Would I have been bummed if I wasn’t hired? Absolutely. But I would also have been thrilled for my other 2 coworkers. Just remember neither one of you is “stealing” the job from the other.

    2. Shiara*

      Applying to the same positions as friends in the same field, and some people getting responses and other people not happens. You’ve been in the workforce longer, you and she have different specialisations, and different focuses. There’s no need to feel badly when you’re contacted and she isn’t, just be sympathetic about the vagaries of jobseeking.

      I really don’t think you should try to compare resumes and cover letters to “alleviate your guilt.” It risks making a bigger deal out of the competition than it needs to be, and could come across as seriously condescending. And even if you do that, you may still apply to the same place, and you get a call back and she doesn’t, so it’s not like it’ll really make the guilt go away.

      Not to mention that you’re both looking for slightly different things, with slightly different backgrounds, so it’s really not alarming that you’re getting different results. If she asked you for feedback at some point, you could agree to look over her resume and cover letter to see if there’s anything she could do to position herself more strongly, but as it sounds, I don’t think you need to proactively do anything. I don’t even think you need to limit discussion, unless you’ve noticed that it seems to make her more upset, in which case steering the conversation away from jobhunting might be a kindness. But overall, I think your feelings of guilt are yours to manage, and her feelings of disappointment (if she has any) are hers.

      1. JobSeeker017*


        Thanks for your comments.

        Up until now, I have refrained from discussing any overlapping job interests we’ve had. We’ve run into two awkward situations, when we’ve both applied, at least one of use has been contacted, and then interviewed. One position saw both of us interviewed. I found the municipality underfunded and unprofessional, while she saw it as her “perfect” next step. She came in second place in the hiring process and is still a bit touchy about it.

        She has significantly less interview experience than I do and believes every job to which she applies could be a “dream job.” I am much more skeptical and take Alison’s view that interviews are two-way streets seriously.

        Right now, she’s applying to one to three positions a month, whereas I am applying on average to five to eight job openings each week. We have different strategies, but I still wonder if I can do anything to help her more.

        Your last line summarizes ideally how things should be handled, but I don’t know if two anxious job seekers with limited funds who are growing increasingly frustrated will be able to adhere to it. I hope so, for the sake of our friendship.

        1. Shiara*

          That sounds pretty stressful, and you definitely have my sympathies. I do think avoiding job-search discussions would be the best bet, the most help I think you can offer is mentioning how helpful you find AAM advice, and linking an article, unless she outright asks for feedback on something specific.

          Good luck, with both the job search and the friendship.

        2. Thlayli*

          It sounds like it might be good for your friendship to stop the job search meet ups. She may be starting to interpret them as nagging. Though I may be basing this on an experience I had when I thought I was helping a family member with his job search and he thought I was nagging him and pushing him to do stuff he didn’t want to do.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      Do you think she should feel guilty if she gets a call or only that you should? I’m willing to bet you’re being way harder on yourself!

    4. Chaordic One*

      When I’ve been in this position I’ve never felt guilty about it and I hope my friends never felt guilty either. I don’t think they did. I’ve always felt that the potential employer would, hopefully, select the best candidate for the job.

      Usually, I find that when I’m applying for the same job as friend, that we can compare notes. Once, a friend of mine who interviewed for a particular position, gave me a heads up about a test using a specialized software. Although I had never before used that exact software, I had used similar ones and I “googled” how to use the software for the particular task. I aced the test and was offered the position, but turned it down because the job would have been a step down in pay for me.

    5. Thlayli*

      I think what’s uncommon here is the level of support you are giving each other.

      Your guilt is irrational. I say this not to insult you but in hopes that you will actually take a step back and look st it and realise it is irrational. You have more experience than her, of course you will be considered a better hire than her sir positions that need experience. Guilt Is irrational
      In that situation.

      I also think it would be a very bad idea to e.g. Help her with cover letters if that is what you are considering. The reason you are getting more calls is because you have more experience not because your cover letter is better. At best helping her will he ineffective and at worst it will be noticed and comsidered possible plagiarism by hiring managers.

      I think you are doing everything you reasonably can. The best thing you can do is figure out why you feel guilty and try to solve that. recognising it is irrational is only the first step.

  31. ruff orpington*

    Might be a silly question… but how do you end a meeting when no one is physically leaving the space?

    I’m currently doing a bit of freelance work, and often find myself working out of places like coffee shops (free wifi and convenient space to meet clients). I’ve had a couple of meetings set up that were productive, efficient meetings… but then there was an awkwardness in leaving, as both people planned on staying at the coffee shop to do their own work. Any recommended norms here? Do just plan on going to a different place after a meeting? Do you shift to a separate table?

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      It would be sort of weird and off-putting for both people to stay at the same table and work, plus it would probably be kind of crowded too. At least it would be for me; I like to have a little space. I don’t think it needs to be awkward. When you’re done, you can say, “OK, I think we’ve gotten through everything we needed to discuss,” (or whatever). “Thanks so much for meeting with me. I see an empty table over there, so I’m going to go claim it so I can finish up some other stuff I’ve been working on.” Or, if it’s crowded, ask the person if they mind if you share their table until another one opens up, or if it was “your” table to begin with, offer them the same thing.

    2. Iris Carpenter*

      After re-iterating normal business: Decisions, action assignments & next meeting date, I simple say “Meeting Closed”. If people want to hang about or not, that’s fine but the meeting business has concluded.

    3. theletter*

      “It looks like that was all we needed to discuss today – I’m going to stick around and work on stuff and things.”
      “Sounds great, me too.”

      And now you have someone to watch your stuff when you go to the bathroom.

  32. Pup Seal*

    Have two interviews today. Woo! One of them I actually didn’t apply for. I applied for another place and was ultimately rejected because I was too qualified for the job, but the hiring manager still had my resume on file. Her husband needs to hire a replacement at his company (the employee is moving away), and she dug through the resumes she had and gave him mine.

    It’s at a financial firm, so my question is, is there a way during the interview to see if the firm follows ethical practices with their clients? I know people who have worked at financial firms but quit because their employers were terrible to their clients. I don’t want to get hired at a place that is unethical, so I’m wondering if there are warning signs during the interview to look for.

    1. fposte*

      That’s going to depend on what you consider unethical, in the financial services world; there’s a whole lot of stuff that is, IMHO, unethical that is also SOP in a lot of finance when it comes to fees, priorities, and clarity. As a customer, I’d want to know if they follow the fiduciary standard even if they’re not legally bound to it–if they don’t have to choose what’s best for the client’s money, that to me is unethical. If they handle investments, do they put people in load funds, take commissions, and also charge a high AUM fee (I think you can be ethical and charge an AUM fee, but all three, no)? Do they push annuities and insurance products, with high surrender fees and high commissions and complicated rules that their customers don’t understand?

  33. T3k*

    Not much of an update, but I have a phone interview next week. I just have to figure out which job they wanted to talk to me about because I applied to 2 different jobs with them in the past and they didn’t say which one in the interview request.

  34. Anooooooooooon*

    I just need to grumble. They’re hiring for a new position that is going to be an EA who will also organize the meetings we have on a regular basis. They’re not just in-office meetings, they’re like mini conferences with our management team. Right now I organize these events and it’s a big part of my job and a bit part of what I like about my job. So this new person will be taking over pretty much what I love best about my job – and management doesn’t know what tasks I’ll get to replace this significant part of my workload.

    I met with my manager yesterday for my annual review and while (yay!) she gave me the steps I need to take to get a promotion (which is exactly what I asked for) I think the steps are indications that along with losing the event planning piece, that it is time for me to move on. She wants me to take more of a lead on two parts of my job that I don’t hate, but don’t feel any kind of excitement about.

    Another step was “wear more makeup” basically. I swing between wearing nothing or almost nothing most days to occasionally wearing a bit more or a full face for fancy meeting days. I just need to whine that I really hate that “wearing more makeup” is tied into my ability to get a promotion. The patriarchy sucks.

    1. JobSeeker017*


      I’m sorry to learn that the more enjoyable parts of your job are being removed and that your boss is critiquing your make-up preferences.

      How a person chooses to adorn his/her/their face should have no effect on their qualifications for a promotion.

      For your upcoming job search, I would recommend you read some of Alison’s wonderful older posts about specific job boards and personalizing your cover letter. I have found those posts, especially the cover letter examples, incredibly beneficial.

      Again, my sympathies.

    2. Sadsack*

      What is the point of wearing more makeup? Do you look sleepy without it? Does she want her team to appear more polished? I would hate this and ask exactly why it matters.

      1. Anooooooooooon*

        She wants me to look “more consistent” but in the context of the comment, it means to swing toward wearing more makeup, which is hilarious seeing as she herself only ever wears mascara at best.

        1. Anooooooooooon*

          And what makes it even more confusing is that I’m planning to get a sideshave done on my hair next week, and I ran it past her to make sure it’d be okay and she was like “Totally fine, go you!”

      2. SCAnonibrarian*

        I would push back on the makeup thing too. ‘What specifically are you wanting to achieve with my appearance that is currently unprofessional?’ Because unless they put makeup on the dress code or needs improvement lists for men and women, it shouldn’t be a requirement for anyone.

        1. Anooooooooooon*

          I did try and her comment was just “consistency” which is still pretty frustrating.

          I’ve accepted that this is not a battle I’m going to win, nor is it really the hill I want to die on, but I’m just so over the patriarchy. I own makeup and love wearing it – sometimes. I hate having to get up in the morning to put it on I look fine without it.

          1. GG*

            That’s where I’d be very tempted to be *consistent* about not wearing any makeup at all. But if you haven’t yet decided that it is time to move on, and while you’re there you do want to follow their steps to promotion, I would totally understand not wanting to take that stance.

            1. Parcae*

              I actually think– in this case, anyway– that no makeup ever could work. I never wear makeup, not even for board meetings, and no one at work has ever said a thing to me about it. But for the women who DO wear makeup regularly? Don’t you dare skip a day unless you want to field constant inquiries about your health, stress level, or sleep patterns.

              Since Anoooon says she loves wearing makeup on occasion, that solution would be a real bummer. But it’s possible that the boss’s line about consistency is genuine.

              1. Thlayli*

                Yeah it sounds like you are assuming you know what she means rather than listening to what she actually said.

                It wouldn’t bother me personally but I can see someone being slightly taken aback if someone wore no or little makeup some days and then came in in full “going out” makeup other days.

                I never wear makeup to work. In oldjob I used to wear makeup to fancy meetings only but that was it.

                Rather than assume she means makeup every day you could try asking her straight out will never wearing makeup help with the consistency thing.

          2. AMPG*

            This sucks a lot, but I would try to find a look that’s easy but clearly shows some effort. I do some concealer under the eyes, eyeliner, and a swipe of lipstick. It takes two minutes in the parking lot every morning, but makes a huge difference in how polished I look. I think something like that would be great as a baseline and stop the complaints.

    3. No Make Up Any Day*

      I wish men had to wear make-up for an entire summer. Especially those that think make-up is a requirement in order to get promoted. The lack of make-up does not hinder my ability to do my job. However if I did wear make-up, I would be spending a lot more time checking to mirror to make sure I did not have smears or if lipstick was on my teeth. Lucky for me, my supervisor thinks enough of my skills and worth ethic that nothing has ever been said about my not wearing make-up. I have super sensitive skin so if had to wear make-up in order to get promoted, I would never get promoted.

      1. kitkat*

        I’ve cut back on makeup as the weather heats up for that reason. No matter how “waterproof” or “long-lasting” eye makeup claims to be, if I go too long without a mirror check I can start resembling Alice Cooper on a humid day. I’d say that’s a heck of a lot less professional than skipping eyeliner and mascara.

      2. Rocketship*

        I haven’t worn makeup for…. hmm, years. And when I started CurrentJob, I was kinda prepared to be talked to about it (based on previous experiences). I spent my first several months rehearsing various conversations about it in my head, settling on roughly the following:

        Male Manager: “Why don’t you wear makeup, Rocketship?”
        Me: “Why don’t YOU wear makeup, Male Manager?”
        MM: “Well, because I’m a man…”
        Me: “Uh-huh. I see. So you’re saying job expectations are different for me specifically because I’m a woman?”
        *raised eyebrow*
        *significant stare*
        *awkward silence*
        *trophy for Feministing So Good*
        *Wikipedia entry for Rocketship: Fighting The Good Fight*
        *confetti, parades, adoring throng carries Rocketship out on shoulders, exit left pursued by bear, etc*

        Of course, I live in a notoriously liberal area, so it has never once come up. Probably for the best. There have been plenty of other opportunities to feminist at people in my office.

        Anyhow, Anooooooooooon: I agree with the other commenters here that if ‘consistency’ is the issue, the ideal response (in my mind) is ‘consistently’ minimal effort in the makeup department. Which sucks if you enjoy occasionally going all-out…. but maybe that just means you get to save your A-Game makeup for going out on the town where it will be appreciated, and not evaluated for ‘consistency’ (seriously wtf).

        1. nonegiven*

          Well, one day I looked in a mirror and saw a nearly dime sized bead of foundation covered sweat rolling down my cheek. I went home and threw it all out.

      3. Chaordic One*

        My GBF tells me that he wears makeup, although it is not obvious. His big thing is wearing concealer under his eyes and then some kind of lotion that keeps him from having a shiny nose.

    4. Tempest*

      Wow, I never wear any so I’d be so screwed at your company. I’m so sorry that you have to deal with that :( I support women who feel their best in makeup and who feel they don’t want or need it equally. Because it’s their decision and about them feeling confident and at their best. Not about anyone else! What you do with your face is your business unless you’re constantly scratching your nose with your middle finger or joining the eye-rolling Olympic games. Unless she’d tell a man to Botox his crow’s feet or something it also seems really sexist.

  35. Fabulous*

    I just finished a day-and-a-half training on giving New Employee Orientation training. We did teach-backs yesterday and I supposedly knocked it out of the park. While I have done training in the past, I am not a trainer in my role, yet I performed WAY better than the actual trainers in the class. The person leading the class barely had any feedback for me other than to say she lost track of time because I was so engaging. Not sure what it means for me, but I’m at least now “qualified” to be the backup trainer… :)

  36. LBK*

    Settle a debate: when should you tell your current manager about applying for an internal position? My boyfriend says pretty much as soon as you apply if not as soon as you decide to apply before you even do it, but I think it’s fine to wait at least up until the interview (in-person, not including the phone screen).

    1. Tuckerman*

      For an internal position, right away. The hiring committee will almost certainly approach your manager at some point.
      Also, your manager might be willing to advocate for you proactively. Which would increase the likelihood of you getting an interview.

      1. Thinking Outside the Boss*


        As a manager, if one of my direct reports is good and wants to move internally, I will always advocate on his or her behalf well before the interviews. I’m always happy to help good people!

    2. the gold digger*

      Everywhere I have worked, you have had to tell your boss before you could even talk to the department, but if that is not a requirement where you are, I would wait until at least the interview. Why alert your boss to your job hunting any earlier than necessary?

      1. LBK*

        Our policy just says you have to tell once you make it to the interview stage. If you don’t even make it that far you never have to tell them. So this is more about professional courtesy, I suppose.

        1. the gold digger*

          I can see that. It would totally depend on my relationship with my boss. Previous boss – no way would I have told him if I didn’t have to. Current boss – I for sure would tell him and I know he would not hold it against me in any way. (Which is why I wouldn’t even be looking – a good boss has a price far above rubies.)

    3. sheepla*

      Rule at my former very large company was you had to tell your manager when you were granted on interview.

    4. Sadsack*

      My company has rules about this and yours might, too. We must tell our manager before applying for another internal position. You should check your employee manual or ask someone in HR before you submit any applications.

      1. LBK*

        I should’ve specified – I did check already and our company policy just says you have to tell them if you get an interview, not before you apply.

    5. Mongoose*

      Rule at my company is that for a position in your own department but with a different supervisor, you should tell your boss if you are granted an interview. For a position that is with a different department, you need to tell them if you are a finalist (so after the first interview). FWIW, if you have a good relationship with your manager, I recommend telling them as soon as your see the post and are interested in applying. They may be able to find out more information for you than you can on your own or champion your candidacy in ways that you can’t.

      1. LBK*

        I’m torn because I do have a good relationship with my manager, but it’s been a pretty recent development that I decided to leave – I submitted an application for this role a week and a half ago on the day I officially decided to start looking and I got the interview request today, so I haven’t really had time to build up to telling him I wanted to move on.

        In my last role my manager had known for months that I was looking for a job so it barely even registered when I told him I’d gotten an interview, but I’m not totally sure how to handle this one other than to just rip the band-aid off.

        As far as having connections, I’d actually be going back to a department where I already worked for 3 years, so I have much stronger ties there than anyone I currently work with (I don’t know the manager since she came on after I left, but I know the guy who would be my coworker on the 2-person team and already met with him to talk about it). But it would definitely still be helpful to have my manager vouch for the experience I’ve built in the time I’ve worked for him.

    6. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Your company likely has a preferred process for how they want it handled. Personally – before you apply. I had a situation a couple of weeks ago when referring one of my employees for an internal position and then getting asked about this other person who had applied without letting me know. That second candidate didn’t look real great to either of us in the moment.

    7. Jesmlet*

      Do it before or right after. Your manager will most likely hear about it before you hear about an interview so it’s just a courtesy/transparency thing. With that said, if the boss is an unreasonable/vindictive person, I’d wait and follow your company’s guidelines.

      1. LBK*

        I have kind of the inverse problem – my manager is actually so great that I feel guilty telling him I want to leave!

        1. Jesmlet*

          I think better to hear from you with that compliment and an explanation on why than to hear it from the hiring manager for the other role…

    8. MicroManagered*

      Depends on the place. I’ve worked for companies where your immediate manager had to give permission before you could even apply for internal positions and I’ve worked for companies where different divisions were treated almost as separate entities and it was treated exactly the same as external interviewing.

      From your other comment, your company policy is to tell the manager once you’ve been asked to interview, so I’d probably just stick to that. It gives you the advantage of not tipping your hand if nothing comes of applying for this position, while also giving you the out of “I was following company policy” if your manager takes issue with how you timed telling him/her.

    9. anony mouse*

      I applied for an internal posting without having any conversations with my manager. 24 hours later, got a meeting invite for a check-in to discuss it. He expressed that he’d wished I talked it over first. I know I probably *should* have, but I didn’t for Various Reasons.

      Then we had a nice awkward chat about “are you happy here” and “what can we do to make things better” and all that. If I still had an engaged, present manager who I’d had more than 3 conversations with, I would’ve felt a lot more comfortable to start the conversation about options and goals before applying. (I actually did talk about this with my old manager, though it never got to the point of “I am now looking to move teams” since I didn’t yet have the tenure.)

      So, at least the conversation has been had, even if I triggered it in an inopportune manner :)

      (and frankly, if this choice ends up being a Horrible Move for my tenure at this team/company, that’s not the end of the world for me, given that I was looking to leave anyway!)

    10. copy run start*

      I have always informed my current manager before applying. (For me this is usually when I am about to submit my application.) It’s a professional courtesy — you don’t want them to find out from HR/other manager. This also gives them the opportunity to put in a good word for you, give you advice, make plans for your eventual departure if it seems likely, etc.

    11. Tempest*

      From an inside perspective if you’re still reading – we have an internal position and it’s ultimately to fill my job as I’m leaving. We have a couple of internal candidates who’ve applied. Neither talked it over with their manager first, just submitted internal job applications and both are now in the bad books for blindsiding their managers with their desire to leave their current roles. I would firmly advocate a conversation with your current manager before you apply. It’s just a bit of respect really. Internal moves are going to involve a convo with your current boss and it’s going to feel even more disrespectful to them if the first they know about your desire to move on is when antoher manager contacts them for a conversation about your application and the standard of your work. I’d say it’s ok if you have your application with you when you talk to your boss, but I’d say it really needs to be a conversation you have when you decide to do it, not when you’ve already got an interview scheduled. I would also say doing it this way will likely sour your relationship with your current manager. This feels a bit underhanded and secretive to me, and I’d say that most managers will then have it in the back of their mind that if you don’t get this role, you’ll still be looking for another one as you’re clearly unhappy in your role now. If you have the convo up front, you get the chance to spin your reasons for applying for this role however you want, and then you get to spin why you’d be happy to stop with current boss if your application doesn’t work out.

  37. Anony1*

    My company is moving to a new office space in our building. We’re excited about the move for the most part because for the majority of us, it means more (much needed space).
    However, one new caveat to the move has been announced and I’m sorry to say it has been incredibly demoralized, to the point I think I might consider finding another job.

    We will NOT be allowed to EAT at our desks in the new office.

    I am devastated because typically I don’t have time for breakfast at home, and run errands during lunch, so the only time I have to eat is at my desk and I enjoy/LOVE my routine. No one in our office is customer facing so I guess cleanliness of the office is the only reason for this rule, however none has been made explicit.

    If in fact this rule is held fast and doesn’t go by the wayside like many of our other office rules within a few weeks, would it be crazy to leave a job I like over this? I am otherwise happy enough with my work, coworkers, boss, compensation and commute. This is such a big deal to me that in the past, when interviewing at other companies I have left interviews when told the company doesn’t allow eating at desks (I luckily had several irons in the fire and chose this job partly because it was free of that authoritarianism).

    If I do leave over it, what do I say in interviews to ensure I don’t sound like I’m leaving over a slight inconvenience and therefore am a flight risk; while also sussing out whether this is a rule for the interviewer company too?

    1. Fabulous*

      That’s just a dumb rule. Can you push back against it at all? And maybe get some like-minded coworkers to do the same? If enough people push back, maybe they’ll consider a reassessment if the rule is really necessary.

    2. misspiggy*

      Are they providing you with a convenient and appropriate space to eat in, that will accommodate enough people at lunchtime? If not it sounds like staff need to get together and complain.

      If there is an eating space, I’d take portable work in with my lunch – reading, writing notes and so on.

    3. kitkat*

      I’m sure this sounds like a trivial point to some, but I get it. I’m a person who prefers small snacks though the day to one big meal, which you can’t really do if you have to leave your desk to eat.

      Prior to this change, had you thought about staying at this job long term or where you planning on moving on within the relatively near future? Because if it makes sense for you to move on career-wise, I see no reason why this can’t be the catalyst to get that going a bit sooner than planned. If you search through the archives there are some good tips here on how to explain why your looking for a new job (variants on the “time for a new challenge” idea). When interviewing, you can ask about the company culture to try and get clues about their lunch rules.

    4. CAA*

      You’re not crazy to leave over this if it’s a deal-breaker for you, and it sounds like it is. Everyone has different needs, and you just happen to need a job where you can eat while you work. There’s no reason to compromise on that preference as long as you can find employers who will accommodate it.

      If you leave, the reason you give both your old and new employer is that you’re looking for one of these: new challenges, career growth, more stability, better pay, more flexible hours, work from home, etc. It can be perfectly true that you’re leaving because they won’t let you eat at your desk and also to improve your job or life in some other way at the same time. There’s no need to mention that eating was the primary driver, focus on the lesser one in this case, because it might come across as a fairly trivial thing to some people.

      When you’re interviewing, somewhere near the end of the process you can ask about this. Say that you’ve always liked to work out or do errands at lunch, so you typically eat at your desk and ask if that is something others do or if there would be any problem with it; emphasizing that of course you’re working while you eat. I don’t think I would find that question strange at all. I’d just answer that lots of people eat at their desks in our office, and if you’re non-exempt you are required to take a 30 minute unpaid break away from your work area, but we don’t care if you eat during that break or at your desk after you’re back.

    5. Marisol*

      Do other people feel strongly about this new rule? Can you push back as a group?

      Or, is it possible that this rule will just be ignored once you guys move into the new space? If eating at the desk is a common practice for lots of people, they may continue to do what they want, especially the high-ranking people.

    6. JustaTech*

      At a previous job we had a legitimate safety reason for not being allowed to eat at our desks (our desks were physically part of the lab benches where we used chemicals and biological stuff). But unless you have something like that I think it will probably be reasonable to push back, or at least ask for explanations as a group.

      For starters, what does “no food” mean? No lunches? No snacks? No coffee? No water? Is the company prepared to accept the lost productivity when people have to go somewhere else to eat or drink?
      Ask as a group and *before* the move.

    7. RabbitRabbit*

      We were told that for my new office as well. Not only that, we also lost our kitchen table and chairs, so we were told we’d have to go downstairs to the little break area to eat, or to one of the cafeterias in the complex.

      It didn’t last. Soon after move-in, our big boss said basically ‘never mind, we’ll see how it goes – just be neat about it.’ It’s only been a few months but we’re still eating at our desks if we like.

    8. Handy nickname*

      My workplace implemented a “No food or drinks outside of the break room” rule a few months ago (including water!), and people were furious. I heard that a couple people contacted HR and possibly OSHA and I would have quit over it had it been enforced. Thankfully, my boss and grand-boss thought it was about as ridiculous as I did, and within a few weeks we were all hauling drinks back to our desks regularly. There’s still one person in the office who might care (and the big bosses, who work in another office and only come in occasionally), so we currently have strategically placed boxes on desks to hide our drinks under when hot-desking.

    9. Chaordic One*

      At bad old ex-job there was a particular employee who would never clean up after herself. Her desk was a disgusting pile of rancid stinking old fast food wrappers, many of them still containing rotten leftover uneaten food. It attracted insects. Apparently she would do this because it annoyed the coworker in the cubicle next to hers. (I was NOT the annoyed coworker in this story, thank goodness.)

      The department head, who was frequently out-of-the-office, told the employees to work it out between themselves and so what usually happened was that the annoyed coworker would clean the slob’s desk a couple of times a week.

      However, that was an extreme situation and I have no reason to believe that you’re slob. Most of the time rules like this don’t make sense.

    10. Been There, Done That*

      Is it absolutely no eating of any kind, or is it snack with coffee okay, full meal not okay?

  38. Anon for this*

    Any advice on how to push a promotion conversation along?

    My spouse’s boss has said she intends to move to a different area of the company some time this year. She hasn’t come out and said she wants to promote my spouse, but she has hinted at it.

    The thing is, if my spouse gets the promotion, it would probably entail an out-of-country move. My spouse and I have talked about it and I’m open to the idea, but I would need to find another job too (not impossible, but would take a bit of legwork). Not to mention that until we know whether or not we have to move, we’re not comfortable doing anything like buying a home or even signing a new lease where we are now (we’re renting, and our lease is up in a couple of months).

    I just really wish we knew what my spouse’s boss is thinking. My spouse doesn’t want to push for the information, and if the promotion just involved more money and staying in the same place, I would be totally down with that. But I’m really not loving the uncertainty where a potential trans-oceanic move is involved.

    WWYD? (and yes, I am deliberately avoiding using pronouns to anonymize us a little more!)

    1. Thlayli*

      I personally would be open and upfront in asking boss about it. However it says in your letter that spouse themselves doesn’t want to do that so it’s really spouse you need to convince.

      I would suggest you have a discussion with your spouse where you point out all the reasons there are for getting clarity (main one being lease is up and u need to plan your next move) and ask spouse why they don’t want to find out more. They may have a good reason and they may have a reason you can help solve e.g. They don’t know what to say.

      At a minimum I would say to spouse “lease is up in x days. We need to decide by y date whether we are extending lease, renting or looking to buy here, or moving. Will you be able yo get more clarity from your boss by then? If you haven’t got more clarity by then we will have to decide whether to look for temporary e.g. 6 month leases, annual leases, or assume we are staying and buy a house”

  39. Aldyn*

    I spent most of my 20s traveling and working as a freelance writer. I didn’t start college until I was 26, and 5 years later, I’ll be graduating with my master’s degree in computer science in December. When I look at my contemporaries, most (not all) are 5+ years into a career field, and I’ll essentially be starting from the bottom rung. Is this something employers will hold against me?

    1. Dang*

      I really doubt it, unless you are applying for roles that are clearly above your amount of experience. People go to school/back to school all the time! Congrats on your upcoming graduation!

    2. OtterB*

      I don’t think they’ll hold it against you – in fact, there may be some benefit in terms of standing out from the crowd of other new graduates – but in case people worry about whether you will get bored settling into a “regular” job it would probably be to your benefit more than most applicants to have ready an answer for why you chose computer science and a positive spin on the change.

    3. kitkat*

      Remember that your resume will show your graduation date, not your age. They’ll see that someone has graduated recently and is looking for a position appropriate for someone who recently obtained that degree. Nothing strange there at all!

      1. gwal*

        I’m relatively new to the professional workforce and have already had at least half-a-dozen moments where I’ve found out someone’s age incidentally through conversation or references to life milestones and been dumbfounded at how wrong my initial estimate of their age had been. Once you’re outside of structures with really strong age norms like college, I think you won’t feel unusual at all.

    4. Rainy, PI*

      I dropped out of an undergrad program I hated at 18, went back to school to finish my BA at 26. In the intervening 8 years I worked a variety of jobs and got a lot of valuable experience. I left academia one defense short of my PhD in my late 30s. I’m now in my 40s. No one has ever held it against me–in fact, my variety of experiences have very much worked in my favour. I also have a lot of great stories for coworker happy hours.

    5. Shamy*

      I just want to say that I fiind it so impressive you started back to college at 26 and now have your master’s 5 years later! That is commendable. I too went to college later in life, got my bachelors at 30, but have not yet obtained my master’s. I definitely get where you are coming from. I havent found it to be an issue with job searching. Now getting through my own mental stigma of where I should be is a whole other issue, but I find people are fascinated by my history and I bet they will be by yours as well.

    6. Thlayli*

      Have you any tips on how to give up work and become a travelling freelance writer? That sounds amazingly awesome.

    7. nonegiven*

      My son flunked out of a highly regarded tech school, went back and finished his non-cs hard science bachelor’s degree at 33.

      He had over 15 years open source coding experience and a good reputation among the server admins and the other coders on a shareware project. He also did a grant funded project for the school’s cs lab where his work was highly regarded by the manager.

      His first job out of school, he was hired as a software engineer at above entry level, because someone on the team knew his open source work personally and the language they were using was the same one he had taught himself for his cs lab job. The technical interview involved 2 people on the phone and Google docs throwing problems at him at the same time. Over about 8 months, he was flown out for in person interviews at 4 different companies and got 2 offers.

      If you can show you can deliver good code, I don’t think your age will be a problem.

  40. Grr*

    Is it weird for a company to post an old picture, which includes you on their ‘about us’ thumbnail, when they forced you out, unexpectedly, and then hired someone afterwards with the same first name as you…

    1. Sualah*

      Yeah, I’d say that’s weird.

      Not the same thing but I live in the midwest in a state with a very low minority population. My husband is Latino and when he worked for a small family-owned business, they put his picture alllllll over their website in all sort of background pictures. Now that he’s left (been gone 2 years now), they haven’t bothered to update. We go to the website every once in while to check (and laugh).

      1. Thlayli*

        My old school had me listed as a “success story” on their website even though I left before exams and I would never have got those results if I’d stayed at that school.

        I emailed them and they took it down.

    2. CAA*

      Is it a photo that was just you? If it is, then you can email them and ask them if they would remove it. They don’t have to, they have every right to use photos of their employees in their facilities, even if the employees don’t work there any more.

      If it’s just a group photo that includes you, then no, it’s not weird for them to use it. The site designer was probably looking for photos that had a certain number of people, the right brightness and background colors, etc. The person who did that page might not even know you or might have forgotten why you left.

      1. Marisol*

        You could always ask them to remove the photo even if it is a group shot. They’re not obligated to do that, but they might. Heck, I suppose you could have a lawyer send a “cease and desist” letter if you’re looking for a fight.

        But I agree with CAA that it’s not necessarily weird.

      2. OB*

        Yeah, we need more context about what kind of photo. If it’s a group photo that was professionally taken, and it’s not a small close-knit company or a photo of a specific higher-level department or something like that, it would be a hassle (and potentially expensive!) to re-do because of staff turnover. I can see how it’s awkward for you, and I sympathize because I think I’d feel really weird about that too, but absent any more context this seems totally normal.

    3. fposte*

      In a group photo? No, it’s not weird. Most places aren’t going to purge group photos every time there’s a staff change. I can see why this one is particularly galling, though.

      1. Grr*

        Group photo, a very small company – around 6-8 employees- so I’m very visibile – not to the extent of Sualah’s husband. I know I can’t ask them to remove it, I don’t want to speak to them. Just frustrating thing to stumble across, and sort of a weird thing to vent about to people.
        It was weird enough that their new hire has my name, and we only used first names in email addresses, signatures etc, so they could easily act like nothing had happened.

        1. Thlayli*

          They just gave new hire your old email address! I guess that makes sense but it feels weird!

  41. memoryisram*

    I am the volunteer managing director of a non-profit. It’s a lot of work, and our busy season is quickly approaching. For better or for worse, I do the lion’s share of the work and everyone is pretty much aware of that.

    Lately, I’ve been running into an issue where I schedule something or ask someone to bring something to an event and they ask me to remind them.

    Maybe I’m being ridiculous but this is really 1. annoying and 2. rude. I have enough on my plate (I have a full-time job, too) without needing to ask Siri to remind me to remind them.

    People dropping the ball is an ongoing issue so I know that is the root problem, but is it okay to respond “I’ll try, but if you could put this in your calendar, I would really appreciate it!”

    1. Sadsack*

      This is so annoying! I think your suggested response is fine. People shouldn’t have to ask you to remind them when they probably have multiple means of creating reminders for themselves. Also though, maybe you could add the request to the meeting notice, then there’s a built-in reminder for all.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d be more direct than that. “I’m juggling a lot of things for this event, so please don’t count on me — set up a reminder in your calendar!”

      1. CM*

        Or even more direct, since some people may interpret that as a “maybe.” “Sorry, I can’t — sending reminders to everyone is a lot of work, and I can’t do that and also plan the event. It would be a huge help if I could count on you to remember.”

    3. LBK*

      Do you actually have managerial authority over these people, or are they colleagues? If it’s the former, I think setting the expectation that they need to manage their own calendar should do the trick. I don’t what kind of accountability you can enforce but reliability is a pretty standard metric for an employee, and keeping track of your own schedule is part of that.

    4. Judy (since 2010)*

      If you are not giving them anything electronically or in writing, I’d do that at least once per request. It can be hard for me if, say, someone stops me in the hall at church and asks me to bring X on Y date to Z place. That one follow up helps so much.

      At every job I’ve had, after any meeting someone writes up the action item assignments. I even send an email after my co-leaders and I discuss our future plans. Jane will check to see if the campground is open this weekend. Mary will call the nature center to see if they have any community service projects for our age group.

      1. Judy (since 2010)*

        I guess what I’m saying is if these are verbal requests, it is certainly helpful to have a written one, especially if it comes in email so that I can just make a calendar entry right then.

        1. Marisol*

          Actually, although I just wrote about how much I hate being someone’s reminder below, I do agree that a one-time written request is a good practice.

    5. BeenThereDoneThat*

      A common problem with volunteer work is that too many volunteers are only volunteering to do what they feel like doing. That means that the few whose priority is doing what needs to be done carry the load. After AaM’s “more direct” response, you might follow that with “I am counting on you to handle this for .” It might be good to add something about the importance of the task, however small, and the consequences of it not getting done.

    6. Marisol*

      In my opinion, asking for a reminder is rarely appropriate, and usually childish. I don’t do other people’s adulting for them. I agree with Alison.

    7. HisGirlFriday*

      I had people do that to me (I coordinate meetings), and I have found sending appointments in Outlook has been wonderful. People can accept/decline, it shows up on my/their calendar, if there are any changes to time/location/etc, I can update the event and send them all a reminder e-mail.

      No one else in my office does this, for reasons that baffle me, and then complain that they have poor meeting attendance.

    8. Leena Wants Cake*

      It’s very annoying, but I think that volunteers especially (it reads to me that these are mostly volunteers asking for reminders) have a tendency to assume that those in charge are going to do the heavy thinking and remind them about what they’ve promised to do. However, volunteers dropping the ball sounds like an even bigger problem. Would it be possible to post your master-list of who is responsible for what at a given event in some accessible place (google doc comes to mind)? Then instead of reminding half a dozen people that they have obligations, you can just send out a “make sure that you know what items on the list you are covering!” to the whole group. If we are talking about paid staff needing reminders–no: they should be able to figure that out themselves.

    9. memoryisram*


      All of these requests are for sure in writing, not verbal – but the person(s) in question are VERY low tech. It’s frustrating.

      I think Alison is on the nose with being direct. At the next board meeting, I think I’ll be bringing up accountability and tell people that I’m not going to remind them to do their jobs.

      1. zora*

        I like how CM phrased it above, doing the math for them about how if you had to do that for every request you would have no time to actually plan the event. That makes it more impersonal and about the issue kind of in the 3rd person rather than making it sound like you’re saying “You are not doing your job” … but definitely be clear about it, that is unreasonable!

    10. Fafaflunkie*

      I’ve had to endure this as well. So guess what I did?

      I picked up my phone and said “OK Google,” waited for the blonk, then said “Remind me to remind [co-worker] that she has to [do this] at [this time.]” Once the phone said “Ok, setting alarm,” I asked coworker, who has an iPhone “can’t Siri do this for you?” Evil grin came from my mouth as I asked.

  42. The Moving Finger*

    Well, since I last updated:
    (a) After coworker started screaming at me in public a few weeks ago, I finally reported on her for all the bullying and explosions she’s done on me. Both of us were written up (though they won’t confirm it with me, that’s…pretty likely for her). I also got told that she complains about me “throwing my headphones across the room” every time I answer the phone. I wasn’t written up for THAT, at least, but clearly if I exist at all, it makes her crazy.
    (b) About a week and a half after that, she started making mean comments about me while I was on the phone, saying I am rude and accusing me of refusing to do my job when she was hearing me tell someone I wasn’t allowed to do what he wanted me to. I reported her again. I got confirmation from two supervisors that yes, I wasn’t doing anything wrong by telling the guy I wasn’t permitted to do that, so I didn’t get written up for that one. Since she did this on the day she was supposed to meet with my boss…presumably this got added to her writeup.
    (c) Since then she either hasn’t spoken to me at all or on a few days when she was in a good mood, talked to the whole group. I am still waiting for her next explosion and always will be whether she does anything or not, but she managed not to lose it on me this week when our supervisor and his supervisor were out, so that’s impressive. I figured she would have by now. The other officemates are still her buddies and ignoring the whole thing, but I consider myself fortunate they aren’t joining in.
    (d) In the meantime, I am feeling very paranoid about the various other ways she could probably try to get me fired or just annoy me. I had a whopping project this week that I was “supposed” to ask for help with, but I didn’t ask any of them, and since my supervisor wasn’t there to push the point, I got away with it. I can easily see her just “oops” not fixing any mistakes and leaving them for me to get in trouble for. Or worse. I’m afraid someday she’ll figure out how easy it would be for her to grab someone’s credit card number (people send them via US mail and the people checking mail chuck them in my box willy-nilly) and get me fired that way, instantly. So that’s a fun level of paranoia to live with. I’ve asked about getting everyone cross-trained in the past, but I think I need to come up with some politic way to renege on this if it ever comes up again.

    But she’s on vacation today and Monday, so there’s two days off! Huzzah!

    1. Perse's Mom*

      In re: “how easy it would be for her to grab someone’s credit card number (people send them via US mail and the people checking mail chuck them in my box willy-nilly)”

      Would it be possible to address this with the people who do the mail? Ask them to group all those together and you (and only you) will check in once per day/week to pick them up, for the sake of security?

  43. anon for this one*

    I am super close friends with a coworker who has the same position on me on another team. She was told awhile back that there were no openings for promotions, but my boss has insinuated to me that I should expect a promotion soon.

    Friend and I have always been honest with each other about our experiences at this company. Except I found out that I received a bonus that was much higher than hers, and I felt so awkward about it that I was really vague when we discussed it.

    I will feel really guilty if I get promoted after she asked and was denied.

    Does anyone have advice?

    1. memoryisram*

      You don’t need to feel guilty! If she seems down, just tell her every team is different and that perhaps she should use this as an opportunity to discuss with her boss goals and things?

    2. Ama*

      It sounds like her boss isn’t as good as your boss, which sucks, but isn’t your fault at all. We had an issue right after I first got to my current employer where a department head left and it was discovered, when her one direct report was rolled into another department, that she had been telling direct report that there was no money for raises or promotions — which was a total lie. (My employer has actually since altered the performance review and raise allocation process so that the C-levels can more easily spot if something like this is happening, and made sure direct report immediately got a promotion and a generous raise because her performance had been excellent.)

      It’s also possible that for whatever reason, promotions *are* available for your team but not hers, or something about your work/tenure makes you a more likely candidate than she currently is.

    3. Anon attorney*

      I’ve been there. We agreed not to discuss compensation at all. Still good friends although she no longer works here (sob)

  44. Karanda Baywood*

    I got the job offer I was hoping for! Yay!

    The internal recruiter was very helpful, giving me tips on the folks I met, what to emphasize, and sharing feedback and impressions.

    I’m so excited!

    1. The Other Dawn*

      It’s a tie between two things.

      Not being the person who has been here the longest. Although I’ve been here a couple years, I just don’t have the comfort level I had at my old job. As a result, it sometimes causes me to back down too quickly or not raise things that probably should be raised.

      Also, it’s tough knowing that my senior person was offered my job prior to me coming here, which she turned down. That’s not the tough part. What’s tough for me is that she mentioned to me several months into my job that it was a spur of the moment decision on her part, which gave me the impression that she regrets not taking it. She made it seem like the only reason she didn’t take it was because things had been really chaotic in the department for a long time and she was influenced by that. I get the vibe sometimes that she thinks she could have done a better job. She’s respectful and goes along, but I just get the feeling that she’s not 100% on board sometimes. I don’t know how to describe it.

    2. the.kat*

      Many hats. All the hats.

      I’m currently the last fundraiser standing at my job. While we hire to replace people, I’m handling EVERYTHING. This is not my happy place right now.

    3. not using my name for this post*

      I work in a morgue. Dealing with death is always hard but you get used to it or you find a different job. It sounds awful but it’s true.

      What I find hard is when people are identified (John or Jane Does) or when people are not claimed by anyone. In those cases the government pays for them to be buried. Where I am there is a cemetery for that. We also have a room where the bones of unidentified people are stored.

      I know they are dead but I hate that these people have no one. I bring flowers to the cemetery sometimes for the graves. I always bring a candle or flowers to the grave if the date of birth is known on their birthdays. I give names to the John and Jane Does. Sometimes I go to the bone room or cemetery and pray or give blessings. All different ones, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other religions. Just in case someone was religious. Sometimes I don’t pray at all and I just have silence for those who were. It helps me to feel better.

      1. Marisol*

        Wow. You are in a situation most people couldn’t fathom. I agree with Gold Digger, this is lovely.

      2. CatCat*

        Thank you for this. I have a relative and no one in the family knows where he is (or if he is still alive). He has serious chronic mental health issues that have led to chronic homelessness and being in and out of jails and mental health facilities. It’s incredibly sad and distressing. I like to think that someone would notice if he died :-(

      3. not using my name for this post*

        Thank you so much everyone. You have no idea how much your kind words mean. I was worried about seeming stupid or weird. It means so much to hear kindness instead.

        1. Ann O.*

          It’s lovely. This is the kind of compassion we need more of in the world. I’m actually a bit teary eyed, knowing that you’re doing this for the dead.

        2. nonegiven*

          I just think if you feel moved to do something like that, doing is better than not doing and then having the thought weighing you down.

      4. Mallows*

        I am child-free, have no siblings, have no intention of marrying and am the youngest one in my very small family. Someday I may well be one of those people. I hope the person who deals with my remains is as kind as you are.

        1. Sas*

          You don’t have to marry. Find a close friend. Relationships don’t have to be like they are in the movies. You can make your own. But, don’t settle for sh–!

    4. Ama*

      Current job: My department has a very different focus and set of tasks than any of the other departments here and I am also essentially heading my department while not being senior staff (I suspect that may change soon but it’s been this way for awhile). This means that my department gets forgotten a LOT when decisions are made that effect the entire office, and because I am not in senior staff meetings I don’t get a chance to weigh in and point out that they have just loaded April up with mandatory meetings and training classes while I have the deadlines for three separate projects, or that they’ve just restricted access to a resource I use every day because it didn’t occur to them that I was using it. (I have had two separate encounters with this exact issue today –can you tell?)

      1. Em Too*

        Yep. We are a small part of a large company with very specific needs, and I feel your pain – even though we do have senior staff. Imagine McDonalds developing a lovely new IT system to support its restaurants, and rolling it out to the whole company, and its tiny logistics department quietly crying in a corner as they try to explain they do need the much faster computers with the very niche software and really none of the options on offer in the ordering system help even a little bit. (We usually get a grudging acceptance in the end that we can be an exception but if anything goes wrong with any of our IT we can just sort it out ourselves.)

    5. Anon attorney*

      When the judge doesn’t do what my client wants (especially if the reason is ridiculous or incomprehensible, as it sometimes is).

      Actually, the quality of the bench in my jurisdiction, and of the clerking service, really worries me if I think about it too much…

      1. Not So NewReader*

        There a massive amount of reasons for that.
        In my state lower level judges do not have to have a law degree. Clerks may or may not get training depending on the finances of the municipality. Judges here get called out all hours of the day and night, they easily can work 60 plus hours a week. Many of them make less than $1000 per month, some in the range of $500.

        The state financial department sets up one set of rules and the judicial department sets up another set of rules. The rules often conflict and the judges end up caught in the middle. Instead of doing judge work, they are on the phone trying to get these two entities to agree on something/anything.

        I could go on and on and on…
        You should worry. We have major problems in our court systems. Government officials keep implementing/demanding more and more paperwork. There is no money to pay the employees for their time in processing this paperwork. And additionally courts are not allowed to keep the fines they collect, it has to go upward somewhere. It’s about 66% of what they collect they must give to the state.

        I will say some judges need to have it laid out for them in spoon size bites if they should be doing something out of the ordinary. I believe in some instances you do have recourse with a higher court or you may persuade the DA to reopen.

        Because of the restrictions a judge works under, the judge is less apt to take risks. The scrutiny is a killer. The job is a pressure cooker, for example if the books don’t balance out, the judge has to pay the difference out of pocket. Remember that 500-1000 per month? Yeah, that pocket. This is just one little thing. There are hundreds more.

        Then there are threats against judges and so on. I won’t say here, but you can goggle for some home grown terrorist groups that target judges/police.
        The way things are going, I think that in the future we will see that very few people want to become judges. I agree on so many levels. We have a problem.

    6. katamia*

      Currently, for the freelancing: not knowing how long anything will take. I don’t have much control over whether I’m sent easy teapots or difficult teapots, so some weeks I have days where I have basically nothing to do and other weeks I’m working much longer than I really should. I’m investigating options to give myself more control (working for a different company or, more likely, starting my own), but that’s not going to happen right away.

      For the retail: getting up early. I really need quiet for my freelance work and am a night person anyway, so I work best really late at night. But at least once a week I have to get up early for the retail (8:30, which I know isn’t early for most people here, but it is when you’re used to/prefer working until 4:00 or 5:00 a.m.). I haven’t overslept or anything, but it’s been rough, and I’ve been drinking more Mountain Dew than I really want to to make sure I’m awake enough to work.

      1. nonegiven*

        My sister and I both are more alert after 10pm than at any other time of the day. If I’ve been running on a sub optimal amount of sleep and fighting to stay awake all day, I can count on either being suddenly wide awake at 10 or falling into bed and waking up at 11pm and staying awake until at least 3am.

        My sister did the thing where you stay up later and later every night until you are on a ‘normal’ sleep schedule. I assume it didn’t work because I’m getting emails written at 2 am.

    7. Lemon Zinger*

      While it’s one of the best things about my job, it also sucks.

      My boss works at another site and we rarely interact. It’s usually via email and we have scheduled weekly phone calls, but those don’t happen reliably because she’s always busy. If she worked in my office, she’d know that I have a great reputation and work my butt off. But unfortunately she has to hear that from other people, and I doubt I’m a major topic of discussion at meetings!

    8. Gov Mgr*

      Managing problem employees in a government agency. I know we all poo poo on the idea that it’s impossible to fire someone, but to do so here, even for pretty egregious misconduct, you have to devote upwards of a year (in some cases, several) and put up with a rash of grievances. I think it’s important to do it anyway, as that’s why we are paid, but man. I defend so much of the value the government brings to its citizens, but I can’t defend this. It’s a real morale-buster for the vast majority of employees who bring value added to their day to day.

    9. Chaordic One*

      1. Having to remind other people in other departments and branches to get their paperwork turned in on time so they can get paid and we won’t get fined.
      2. The ahead of schedule requests for information from the branch offices that happen because they made a decision to move things up without ever telling me until the last minute and so, of course, I don’t have it ready for them when the want it.
      3. Constantly reminding people that they should NOT email paperwork containing personal information (social security numbers, dates of birth, passport numbers, drivers’ license numbers, bank account and credit card numbers) because email can be easily hacked and peoples’ identities stolen.
      4. Having to constantly train new employees in office procedures because we have an unusually high rate of turnover. (All things considered, maybe it isn’t that unusual.)
      5. Trying to be professional, and have a good attitude when you’re told that the raise you’ve been promised wasn’t going to happen.

    10. Nic*

      TeachingJob: Having all of the other teachers ignore me in meetings unless I put my hand up and was called upon to speak. I was 24, and while young and inexperienced, I also had completed a Masters in Teaching.

      LastJob: Being surprised being assigned by literally three times the workload of any of my peers by my grandboss without my managers’ knowledge and grandboss’ blocking every plan to get me help because “he knows I can handle the workload.”

      CurrentJob: Boredom. If all goes as it should there are about three hours of work in a 10 hour shift. We have the ability to surf the web to sites like this one, or news, and there are elearnings we can take, but anything gets monotonous after so long.

  45. the gold digger*

    I work in R&D for an engineering and manufacturing company. We have a North America documentation team and an EU documentation team. We have an NA documentation portal and an EU documentation portal.

    All products are sold worldwide. It would be nice to have a single point of entry for all documentation.

    I can’t fight the political fight (my boss is doing that), but does anyone have any recommendations about best practices for global technical/product/marketing/training internal documentation organization? Both of the current document intranet portals are homegrown Sharepoint (can I tell you guys how much I hate Sharepoint?) sites. Are there any nice software packages for portal design out there?

        1. Chaordic One*

          We do more than spit on Sharepoint.

          (But this is a reasonably professional open thread and we don’t speak of such things here.)

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah… Sharepoint here too. Though I don’t totally hate it.
      As for NA and EU, it depends. There might be a very good reason for it, such as different regulations and/or steps in the process, different workflows, etc.? I would try to suss that out before you go making changes.

      Something better than Sharepoint? Good luck! Seriously, I guess it comes with the Windoze package (it’s there, might as well use it, right). But a portal can be made with Liferay, Drupal, or more specialized software such as IntranetDashboard, MyHub, Desk, and I’m sure many others.

    2. FluffyToodie*

      I love MindTouch. We use it for our doc set. It’s probably more power than we really need at this point, but I love it and think it might work well for your teams to use together.

    3. The Grammarian*

      If you are going to continue to use SharePoint, I suggest that whoever is in charge come up with a plan about how the files will be organized and about who has permission to update particular files.

    4. Ann O.*

      Do you know how your documentation teams author/edit their documentation? That can make a difference for what products are available for document portals. Does the documentation portal need to be on the same platform as other teams’ output (i.e. marketing, training, operations) or can it be documentation-specific as long as it integrates seamlessly to the end user?

      Also, are you working with your documentation team about this? There are a ton of best practices that I would expect them to be aware of, and they probably hate using Sharepoint as much as you do. (FWIW, I do not hate Sharepoint. I think it’s like any other jack-of-all-trades tools–not as nice as specialist tools but okay as long as you have someone who actually knows how to configure it for your needs rather than leaving you trapped with the out-of-the-box set up)

  46. Sara*

    I’m beginning to feel very demoralized in my job search – feels like hoping from one dead end role to similar roles. I was thinking of looking at other avenues but it makes me really nervous. Has anyone had success with changing their career path without taking too much of a pay cut? I have a mortgage and can’t really afford to be totally entry level at this point.

    1. Not a Cat Lady*

      Yup! It starts with wanting it — if you know what you want it’s easier to convince someone else to give it to you bc you can tailor your resume to fit the things they’re looking for. I went from finance administrator to marketing content strategist to operations manager to sales director. :-)

      1. nhb*

        I second this; I’ve gone from customer service to time analyst to working in operations to buyer. My moves were primarily accomplished because I asked to learn about things as I went about the previous job(s): i.e. in my customer service job, I also would ask questions about the company’s operations, and in my operations job, I learned about how we purchased the things we were shipping out, which is how I’m a buyer now.

        Learn everything you can about the path you want to take, be confident with your knowledge, and be honest about what you don’t know. Good experience with people and jobs in general (not being the office “Fergus”) counted for a lot with the places I’ve been. Also, if you haven’t, I’d also recommend mentioning that you’re looking for a place to stay for a while, potentially a place that you can grow with. How you phrase that can be tricky, depending on the audience (don’t want to sound like you already have a foot out the door!), but this has worked for me in the past, simply because I have explicitly told them that I don’t want to job hop.

        Good luck!

  47. Antti*

    If you knew you were more than likely going to move away in a little more than a year’s time, would you attempt to change departments within your current company so you could get even a little experience in the part of your field you’re trying to move into?

    There’s nothing currently open in that department but jobs do frequently get posted for more junior roles there, and that junior role would still be a step up from where I currently am. I’m just concerned that it wouldn’t necessarily be a great boon to have a short stay in a new department, even if it makes the difference between having experience and not having it. And also, even though all I know now is that it’s only super likely that I will move, it would still feel a little like I’m operating in bad faith if I try to do that.

    1. Joshua*

      I think if it’s going to be for at least a year before you move away it wouldn’t necessarily be bad faith to move to a higher position within your workplace. Things could definitely change in a year; you never know if you’ll still be leaving at that time. Even if you were 100% absolutely certain you were leaving, your resume will show essentially a promotion at the same workplace. Junior roles expect less time in the role before you move on anyways, perhaps that’s a reason why you’re seeing so many job postings. Maybe it would help you feel better about it if you could find out how long an average person in those roles stay. If it’s normally 1-3 years, you won’t feel like you’re operating in bad faith. However, if the normal person in the role stays for 5 years and it takes them a whole year to get through training and beginner’s mistakes, then that could be a different scenario.

      1. Confused Teapot Maker*

        Agreed. The (slightly gloomy!) way I think about it is that they could decide they’re not that into you/you could decide the move was a bad idea and leave within the first few weeks anyway – there’s no guarantee that might not happen and, assuming you’ll be on one, it’s kind of what probation periods are for anyway! So with that in mind I would say, no, you’re not operating in bad faith if you’re also thinking about moving away a year from now.

    2. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      Life is uncertain and the future path is unknown. Do what’s best for you today–your plans for a year from now may change.

  48. Emi.*

    I have a question about site ads. The ad reporting page says that “the ad directly above the comments section may play sound as your cursor moves over it. It should stop when your cursor moves away. That one is allowed!” However, I’m also seeing an ad all the way across the bottom of the window (not attached to a particular part of the page, so it doesn’t move with scrolling), which also plays sound when my cursor is over it. Is that allowed too, or should I report it?


    1. AnnoyingAd*

      I keep getting an ad that, without any additional clicks (just by appearing on the AAM site), hijacks my web browser and takes me to another website that claims I have a virus on my computer. This happens about once per day, across multiple devices and I’m not sure exactly which ad as it hijacks me instantly once the ad appears. This does not happen on any other website currently, and I visit a bunch. I practice safe internet so I know my computer isn’t actually infected and therefore don’t fall for the trick, but it’s awfully annoying to have to close out the browser through Task Manager and navigate back to AAM. I’m reporting it too, but was wondering if it was happening to others and if so, if they knew which ad it is.

      1. Luisa in Dallas*

        The same thing happens to me, but not as often (maybe once a week). Like you, I have not been able to identify which ad triggers this sudden (and very noisy) “virus warning.” Man, I hate that thing. I hope someone knows how we can stop it.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      I get so many more ads on the bottom of the page now – it’s like they are layered or something. It takes me four clicks to get out and then it’s starts again on every single page. It’s really annoying.

  49. whichsister*

    I had a phone interview this a.m. and am SO PROUD of how I handled the salary question. She asked what salary I was looking for and I responded with “well currently I work for a small business with minimal benefits sod it is really not just salary but benefits I am factoring in. What is the range you are looking to hire at?”

    She then gave me the low number which solidly in my green light range and I calmly told her that was a perfectly acceptable range. She also said she would send me the benefits information as well.

    Normally I get flustered when I get that question but reading this blog really helped me! Thanks all!

    1. Snazzy Hat*

      Ahhhh that’s a great point! I posted below about my phone interview today, and realized NOW that I’m paid hourly $X super-part-time with no benefits; if I get this job, I’d be paid $Y (considerably less than X but still good) but with benefits out the wazoo! How did that slip my mind?! Ahhhhhhhhh!

    2. Thlayli*

      I am so using that next time!

      I really hate it when companies don’t tell you the range in a job description.

  50. Karanda Baywood*

    I got the job offer I was hoping for! Yay!

    The internal recruiter was very helpful, giving me tips on the folks I met, what to emphasize, and sharing feedback and impressions.

    I’m so excited!

      1. Karanda Baywood*

        They really were. I’ve never been lucky enough to have someone so completely on my side — and they are in-house!

  51. AnnaleighUK*

    Toxic job begone! New beginnings start on Tuesday – I got the prerequisite insincere card and totally useless present from my coworkers. Also my mug that I’d not seen in six months randomly was returned to me so, okay then! My housemate also had her last day at her job today so tonight is Dominos Pizza, Ben & Jerrys and an X Men marathon!

      1. AnnaleighUK*

        We are having such fun. I’m baffled by Luna’s ability to do a creditable Magneto impression when she has the smallest, girlie voice! At least it is a long weekend! I feel so free, knowing I’ve left Horrible Exploding Boss behind is a fantastic feeling and I can’t wait to start the Dream Job on Tuesday. I’m a building inspector, if anyone was wondering!

    1. Snazzy Hat*

      I love this post so much. The “prerequisite insincere card and totally useless present” made me laugh out loud, plus you got a stolen mug returned. By “randomly”, I hope it wasn’t there during part of the day, and when you returned from the restroom it was there, meaning someone was watching and waiting for you to leave your desk.

      1. AnnaleighUK*

        Muggate Scandal started in October last year. I’m a huge Disney nerd and my niece bought me a Frozen mug for work – on the logic that nobody would steal it. She’s eight, so this logic was quite sound. Anyway, the Frozen mug goes in the cupboard and mysteriously vanishes overnight. Bear in mind I was usually one of the first in the office in the mornings, so the cupboard tended to be mug-filled when I got in for my daily cup of black gold. I did the hunt round the office and the obligatory ‘where’s my mug, guys, come on, it’s a darn Disney mug, really?’ email. To no avail, so I assumed it was gone forever. Yesterday I went out to my car to put a box of my belongings in the boot, came back to my desk and there was the mug, spotlessly clean, sitting on my matching Disney coaster as if it had never gone missing. I was totally mystified. Happy it was back, as my niece was upset it had been lost, but still… very peculiar! It’s coming to New Job with me, New Manager is as much of a Disnerd as me, which I really like! Yes, we discussed it in the interview. I’d like to think it didn’t affect the hiring decision!

        1. Thlayli*

          I can’t believe no more Hugh Jackman wolvy movies. Gutted.

          [note this is not a spoiler since he announced before the movie that he wouldn’t do any more]

  52. Office Mercenary*

    On Monday got an offer for a job that would require immediate international relocation, and today is the deadline to accept or reject. I still have no idea what to do and I’m freaking out.

    During my second phone interview, the director asked me what my least favorite race is. As in, what groups of people do I dislike. I was stunned and asked what was the goal of the question. He said they have a “non-politically correct” office culture and he wanted to make sure I can laugh at their jokes. As an example, he said he doesn’t like Scots or Australians. I said something vague about boundaries in humor being relative. We had a reasonably good rapport until then. A former classmate of mine works there and is the one who told me about the opening. When I asked her about the director’s comment, she brushed it off as just British humor, and said Americans get offended so easily. I know British humor, and that’s not just British humor.

    If I accept the offer, I’ll work closely with the two of them in a small office (12 people total) in a small-ish company in a country where I don’t know anyone. It may all work out for the best, but now I’m wondering how they’ll perceive my own racial/ethnic background. I also wonder if the company would have my back in, say, a sexual harassment situation, or if they would tell me to just loosen up and take a joke. When I mentioned this concern to my classmate, she said sexual harassment won’t happen because the office has only Western employees. (!)

    It also has me questioning the office culture as a whole; another division of the company has done unethical and illegal things that are sadly typical of that industry. I’ve reassured myself that I’ll have nothing to do with that side of the company and all my work will be legitimate, but now I’m wondering about their overall management.

    However, the job itself would be really fascinating work and it would get me a work visa to the region I’ve been studying for years. Overseas experience would be great for my career right now, if not mandatory. I’d have significant responsibility, more so than I would have at a larger company, and wouldn’t have to pay taxes. I’m their top choice candidate and they already increased the salary before I even started negotiating.

    I wish I’d had a chance to interview in person, meet everyone, and get a feel for the office. Maybe I just need to pay my dues and work with a few jerks for a year or two. What should I do? I’m debating asking for another phone call with the director to talk things over but I don’t even know what good that could do.

    1. Myrin*

      I don’t mean to bum you out but quite frankly, that sounds like a disaster in the making, if you ask me.

    2. the gold digger*

      During my second phone interview, the director asked me what my least favorite race is. As in, what groups of people do I dislike.

      Whoa. This is, in theory, the director on his best behavior.

    3. Tau*

      Agreed with everyone else – do not accept. Apart from all the other ways this could go disastrously wrong, do you really want your professional reputation entangled with that guy?

      It’s not like your only option for overseas experience and extra responsibility is this job. The fact that you’ve been offered this job clearly means you’re qualified – why not apply to similar ones where you wouldn’t be dealing with a racist boss?

    4. Sadsack*

      I am sorry to say that this employer sounds like a problem in the making and you friend gets low marks as well.

    5. SCAnonibrarian*

      Nope. Soooooo much Nope. Your friend is working VERY hard to spin this, but there shouldn’t BE anything in a solid job offer that you have to spin to make it acceptable. No way nuh-uh not ever. They are essentially TELLING you straight up that they engage in racist behavior on a regular basis. Believe people when they tell you unpleasant things about themselves.

    6. Emilia Bedelia*

      Nooooo! That’s a horribly bad sign. Especially if you didn’t even get a chance to interview in person.

      Another, better job will come along. Don’t settle for something just to “pay your dues”.

    7. kitkat*

      Nope nope nope. Run away, quickly.

      They basically told you, “By the way, we’re super racists. You cool with that?” And what you’re friend seemed to say was, “These are the type of people that don’t think sexual harassment is a real thing!”

      And given how open they are about this, I have serious doubts to this companies reputation. Having that company on your resume could do more harm than good.

    8. Snazzy Hat*

      “Sack race. I can never time the jumps correctly and always end up falling over on my face.”

      I agree with Tau; you’re clearly qualified for that kind of work, so keep applying. I also agree with Emilia; you do not have to “pay your dues”, and I’ll add you don’t have to do that at all ever for a job. Holy cow, don’t take this job. Don’t contact the director to talk things over. If you’re going to call anyone, it should be whatever newspaper is in the company’s area.

    9. Alice*

      If you can get this offer for fascinating work in the region you want, you’ll be able to get another one.

      He was screening for people who will be happy working with a racist jerk (and probably, in an environment where the racist jerks can reach management levels because that’s seen as normal). Can you be happy, productive, and professional in that environment?

      My take is that it’s better to let this one go and keep looking for the right opportunity.

      If you do take it, good luck! Lots of people have succeeded in challenging environments.

    10. Joshua*

      Don’t do it.

      I don’t know how the work visas for this particular company/country work, but it is not a stretch of the imagination that you’ll feel pressured to put up with a lot more crap from this company since they’re your visa sponsor and they’re your only support in a foreign country. And being told Americans get offended too easily by your friend at the company means they’re not going to take your complaints seriously.

    11. New Window*

      I think the warning signs are really clear, so it comes down to, what will you be able to tolerate in order to get what you want out of the experience?
      – How likely is it that you’ll get another job offer in the same region?
      – How much of a positive impact would this job have on your overall career path?
      – What kind of support network would you be able to create and rely on? What practices have you developed to keep you mentally healthy when things get crappy?
      – Are you going with yourself, with a partner, or with family? Will you partner be able to work? Can your relationship handle the stress of new environment, extra job stress, and their potential unemployment?
      – How long would you be there? How easy would it be to leave?
      – Have you or people you know been in a crappy job situation before, and how did you/they cope?

      I am seeing this through the lens of my experience. I very very very much understand wanting to take a job in a place overseas you’ve been wanting to go. I did that, in fact. But I had a good set of co-workers, and, even if I was still the fur’ner, there was still a fundamental level of respect.

      Part of my job was helping other foreigners in workplace conflict. I had friends and colleagues who witnessed sexual harassment or were occasionally targets themselves, who were asked insensitive things about their nationality or ethnicity, who saw staff and clients treated horribly or dismissively. For some of them, the stress of it meant they left after only one or two years–much sooner than they had anticipated. For others, they were able to cope with it by creating their own space in the organization (if their supervisors let them) and having a really supportive network outside of the office.

    12. The OG Anonsie*

      Great googly moogly no. Nooooooooooooooo.

      This is one of many times here I’ve wished I could make my comment just play Gnarls Barkley. RUN. RUN AWAY. RUN CHILDREN. RUN FOR YOUR LIIIIIFE

      Maybe if your classmate was like “Oh yeah, that Wakeen, he’s a real turd. We deal with it by ____” but no, she clearly thinks this is Totally Fine and then went on with her other comments about only non-western, non-white people being predatory… Oh my god. That whole place has got to be a shit show.

    13. LCL*

      Future director asked you a race-baiting question? The director?! The director sets the tone for the rest of the office. He’s shown this is an issue with him. And I am thinking you may be of a different race/ethnic background then him because of what you said. He asked you to see how much crap you will put up with, I think.
      This sounds like a horrible place for anyone. And it sounds like you would be isolated and maybe harassed based on your ethnic origin.

    14. Anon attorney*

      Jesus, no. I’m a Brit and this wouldn’t be acceptable in the UK. In fact it would be illegal. You’re not being oversensitive. Run!!!!!!!!

      1. Thlayli*

        Agreed. This is definitely not “just British humour”.

        I’ll admit that I sometimes find Americans to be a little over the top in the quest to make sure no-one could ever be offended by anything ever and simultaneously find things to be offended by, but this is just plain racism and most definitely is illegal. Honestly I would consider reporting them.

    15. Rocketship*

      “When I mentioned this concern to my classmate, she said sexual harassment won’t happen because the office has only Western employees.”





      Sounds like that office’s super-racist culture has been super absorbed by your classmate. Nthing the advice to run far, far away. Run like your hair is on fire. Saddle up the nopetopus and hit the open road.

    16. Working Rachel*

      No no no no no! Do not relocate internationally for a job that appears to be populated by racists and that is also involved in unethical and illegal things!

    17. Office Mercenary*

      I think you’ll all be glad to know I turned the job down! I’d already been leaning that way but was feeling a little greedy for the opportunity. Seriously, at any other company this would have been my dream job. After I decided against it, I felt this weight lift. The money would have been good, and I’m still unemployed ($36 in my checking account!) but the crippling anxiety is gone now. Hooray!

  53. Amaryllis*

    A few of us are planning a work bridal shower for a coworker. The Bride-To-Be would like to invite 10 coworkers (us included) out of ~20, primarily her work friends and people in her work unit. There are 4 coworkers the BTB would definitely NOT want at the shower (past personality conflicts, bad blood, etc). Then there are about 6 coworkers who she doesn’t dislike but she didn’t include because she wants to invite women only and because they are more friendly with the 4 coworkers mentioned above.

    I definitely understand why BTB doesn’t want the 4 there (and most of the people to be invited will not want the 4 there either). Generally speaking, I don’t think you should have to invite everyone to a social event (this is not elementary school), but I can understand why there most likely will be hurt feelings. It’s public knowledge BTB is getting married. We have not had any bridal showers at work for past BTBs.

    Holding the event after hours or on the weekend is out due to people’s schedules. I’m trying to at least convince the other organizers that we should NOT hold this event in one of the conference rooms.

    Is this a bad idea?

    1. Beloved*

      Having a shower at work during work hours and not inviting everyone is, IMO, a terrible idea. If your office was larger, I could see inviting select people, but I would never explicitly exclude people. The “Mean Girls” vibe is strong on this one.

    2. Karanda Baywood*

      Short answer? Yes.

      If it were me, I’d ask those interested to pitch in for a gift, and bring a cake for EVERYONE to enjoy.

    3. enough*

      If all are not included do not have it at work. Any events held at work must be inclusive with the only restriction being related to geography and organizational chart. Have the event out of the office at a local restaurant.

      1. Thlayli*

        Agreed. If it absolutely must be done in office hours then it has to be outside of work location. You simply can’t have a social function in an office and not invite everyone.

    4. Amy*

      Work bridal showers clearly aren’t the norm at your organization, it’s not a work event, and it’s not open to the whole team. I think you’re right that this shouldn’t be held at work. Could you propose an alternate plan like taking her out to dinner?