open thread – May 12-13, 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 :)

{ 1,496 comments… read them below }

  1. GigglyPuff*

    Been waiting all week for this!
    Questions, advice, tips are sought.
    I made it to the second round of interviews for a position at a university (yay!). My problem is, none of my previous jobs have required second interviews (I know). So I’m not really sure what to expect. More of the same regular interview questions, more in-depth, learning more about my job position expertise, etc?

    It’s also one of those dinner the night before, and all day interviews, meet everyone. Any advice on how to handle that is greatly appreciated. Also I am not a suit person, would high end professional shirt/sweater be okay for the dinner?

    Lastly it also includes a presentation I have to give on a project or program I’ve contributed to. I have a project selected, one I’m actually currently working on (no issues with my current job sharing it). Are there specific things they’re usually looking for in presentations? Obviously that I know the subject matter and can speak clearly on it, but beyond that…??

    So any help, advice, or tips on how to navigate this would be awesome. And after this is over I’ll go gladly curl into a ball under the covers from all the forced interaction.

    1. Lucy Richardson*

      What sort of position? The answers will be very different for a faculty job vs non-faculty, and then business school vs liberal arts or budget office vs housing department.

      1. Doink*

        Agreed- a lot will also depend a lot on the culture of the specific department or school you’re joining (for example, the business school is going to be much more professional and conservative expectations than say, the physics department).

        That said, as a librarian at a university I’ve had to go through the day-long interview + presentation + dinner deal. I’ve had interviews were dinner was the day before, as well as same day. For dinner before I’d dress one or two steps down from interview but still nicer than the average day at work; instead of a suit, I’d wear nice slacks/skirt and a dressy top + cardigan or casual blazer, for instance. (I’m not quite sure of the equivalent for male fashion, though). Same day I’d just leave on my interview attire.

        For the presentation, I’d suggest finding some way to tie in the job you’re interviewing for. How could you use the project to demonstrate that you’re a good fit for the position? Did you learn or improve skills that would be of benefit for the duties you’d be responsible for? Is there a similar or related project/program/initiative/committee that you’d be interested in helping with? It doesn’t (and probably shouldn’t) be the main message, but show that you at least considered how this applies to them. At least in libraries, a lot of people not involved in the hiring committee or conducting interviews will attend and they will be asked for feedback to help with the decision.

        Make use of any breaks you’re given, but don’t be afraid to ask for more, either. Take one or two extra minutes in the bathroom if you need time to de-stress/recharge, explore campus or the buildings you’ll work in if you have time, and bring snacks and water! If you have the chance to talk with random students, faculty, or staff, take it! Do everything you can to sample campus culture.

        1. GigglyPuff*

          Thanks! I didn’t want to give too much away, but it is a library staff position. Unfortunately the one project I’ve worked on that would probably relate best to their holdings, is one of the most boring. There’s no way I could fill enough time and it was a few years ago, so I don’t have access to any procedure info either. So I’m trying to pick one that deals with setting up workflows and procedures from scratch (which was implied what would be needed in the position), and subtly tie it to that. It is also a project, while different, is something most institutions have in their holdings, so it’s not too obscure to not be relatable. (Sorry I’m just really try not to give too many details, I’d love to tell y’all exactly what it is, I’d love specific advice. My manager said we could talk about it, but it’s been extremely busy this week and they can’t talk until next week, and I really need to do the bulk of the presentation this weekend to start practicing. I just hope I’m picking wisely!)

          1. Doink*

            Yay for libraries! I suspected that might be the case since there’s so many of us here. :)
            It’s obvious that you’ve put thought into choosing your topic to be sure it’s relevant, so sounds like you’re in a good position. Best of luck!

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      If you are doing the all day interview/dinner combo, I would strongly suggest a suit or something that looks suit-ish. You don’t usually do that interview schedule for lower level positions, so I’d expect formal business attire. Look for pieces instead of a suit, that way if you get hot or the weather change you could switch from a shell to a blouse for dinner and have something to put on.

      I’d imagine in your all day you’ll be meeting colleagues, direct reports, etc. They’ll probably ask their own questions about collaboration, management style, etc.

      Include lessons learned on your presentation. We should have considered X or included stakeholder Y and what you learned from that.

      1. GigglyPuff*

        Thanks, I just wasn’t sure if the dinner before would be considered pulling out the full interview clothes or just really professional.
        Ugh, I am really not looking forward to going through my closet this weekend trying to find stuff. No idea if my suit jacket even fits right anymore.
        Thank you for the advice. The project I did pick to discuss, while still current did get to a standardized point and that took a few turns, so that’s why I picked it, because it lets me discuss our procedures, policies, and collaboration with another department. Which I figured would help fill up my presentation time at least. ;)

        1. DaLizzy*

          Maybe just buy new stuff to make sure you’re comfortable and can be your best without fussing with ill fitting clothes…

        2. College Career Counselor*

          The dinner is definitely part of the interview, and if my past interview experience is any indication, you will get a mix of conversation and questions, regardless of what they say about the purpose of the dinner. “Relax, we just want to talk to you and have a nice meal!”

          Sure, but they’re also still interviewing/evaluating you. I’d consider it a business dinner and dress formally, as you would for an interview.

          1. akshay*

            When the matter comes to an interview I become nervous and my confidence level does not stand up to the mark. Any advice?

        3. kbeers0su*

          As someone who has done a lot of hiring at a university on the non-academic side of the house, if that’s where your position is, I would NOT wear a suit/business dress for dinner. Even for Director-level candidates, we typically expect nice slacks and a button-down as the dressiest thing we would see. Maybe a sport coat/blazer if it’s cooler weather. I’ve had plenty of professional candidates (non-Director level) wear jeans, nice shoes, and a nice button-down/top and be totally ok.

          Dinner is not part of the formal interview and is a great time to get to know more about the culture of the department/school/area (if you’re relocating). It’s also how we tend to learn more about a candidate’s personality. I would not try to ask any interview/job questions that night. But your conversation may raise some questions to follow up on the next day, especially if you don’t get those answers during the course of the interview.

          As for what to expect on the day of the interview, it will likely be different cross-sections of folks you’d work with. Again, if this is on the non-academic side of the house, you can expect students if you have a role that will interact with that population (likely student leaders or student employees), a group of your peers/colleagues from within the same department, a group of your peers/colleagues from other departments whom you will work with in this role, some time with your supervisor, some time with anyone you may supervise (which may be the same as another group listed), and then depending on the nature of your role, perhaps higher-ups (dean/AVP).

          1. Bibliovore*

            Depends on where. For most academic appointments, women can where a dress or trousers, a shell and an unstructured jacket or structured sweater. Where comfortable shoes. Study their website. Read the school newspaper (sometimes it is available on line) How does the library communicate with students? Is there Facebook or twitter account? Are there local issues that can be brought up in your talk? Don’t get sucked into controversy. Practice your talk. Bring a granola bar or something to keep your blood sugar even. Remember, every minute of this experience is part of the interview. If you are packing light- dark trousers or dress or skirt and top, one jacket, and a colorful scarf if the dinner is the night before.

    3. Jan Levinson*

      Do you have a suit that you *could* wear, even if you’re “not a suit person”? (to be clear, I understand, as I’d also always rather dress in something comfortable!) However, based on the background information you’ve given (formal dinner, giving a presentation) I would recommend wearing a suit!

    4. Pwyll*

      University hiring is so quirky, and I don’t have much experience there, but if it’s helpful here are some thoughts from a corporate perspective:

      Second interviews I participate in are usually either 1) a chance to really dig into your expertise, interests and goals for this position and/or 2) a chance for people who were not involved in the first interview to have a say. Because team dynamics are important to me, I usually use second interviews to have peers (of the candidate) interview to ensure they’d mesh with team culture. So, it’d be pretty much like your first round of interviews with a new person. If you’re having a second interview with someone you have already interviewed with, however, I would expect a more in-depth line of questioning as to your skills and previous project experience.

      Unless you receive specific guidance otherwise, I would wear to the dinner an outfit you would wear to an interview, but not the same outfit you’ll be wearing the next day. I’m no expert on women’s clothing, but I wouldn’t raise eyebrows at the same blazer with different blouse/sweater combinations, but I wouldn’t dress down for the dinner unless they’ve told you it’s less formal. Good luck!

      1. Karen D*

        I would not dress down either. I’m assuming like other posters, GigglyPuff, that you’re a woman; apologies if you are not.

        Women have an advantage in that lots of business-friendly attire is really very comfortable. (Ponte knit is one of my favorites – it can look very structured and polished.) And you don’t have to spend a ton; one of my go-to professional dresses came from Target!

        But I would stick to professional business attire for any activity that’s part of the interview, unless specifically told otherwise (and in that case, follow what they tell you as closely as possible). The most casual I would go would be maybe a twinset, but not a twinset in a light/clingy material.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      It’s a bit different for university positions, so I’m mainly giving my experience from public sector jobs.
      In my experience, second rounds generally mean you are a STRONG candidate, but the person hiring wants to introduce you to THEIR manager + others on the team who may not have been involved in the interview process previously (and that could be low to high and everything in-between). Often at this stage, they might be trying to make up their minds between 2-3 candidates, and it sounds like the presentation is a big part of that here. You will have to be your most polished and engaging for that, and expect questions. My guess is they want to see your thought process as well as your presentation/public speaking skills.
      I would wear a suit, but as others said, you could probably switch jacket for a softer sweater or something for dinner.
      Sounds like a long day! Best of luck!

    6. DaLizzy*

      How exciting! Can I just send you good vibes and wish you best of luck – I don’t have any experience to share here but that would be a bit much for me :)

      Well have fun with it and remember you and interviewing them too!

    7. Honeybee*

      My current job was also one of those “dinner the night before then all day interviews” positions. Here is my advice:

      -At my work, we tell interviewees that the dinner is just a chance to get to know them better, put them at ease and let them know a familiar face for the next day, as well as to answer any questions they may have about the process. I would say that’s generally true – but I would also say it’s totally a part of the evaluation process even if they say it isn’t. Humans aren’t able to shake memories very well, so if you put them off at the dinner even if you are perfectly polished the next day they’re going to be put off. (Not that you would!)
      -The questions are generally more in-depth, and in some cases each interviewer has a specific task or skill they want to ask you about. At my job, for example, the first interview might be about analysis skills; the second one about communication and dealing with tough situations; the third about domain knowledge; etc. Academic interviews aren’t always so well-coordinated, so sometimes each person just asks you what they want and you might get a lot of repetition.
      -Whenever offered a bathroom break, take it. If you need a breather, ask to go to the bathroom. That’ll give you at least 5-10 minutes to breathe and relax yourself. I think I took a little break every other interview.
      -I know I get migraines during long interviews so I took a pre-emptive Excedrin. Bring any kind of meds you may need, including a little thing of Advil. Also bring a water bottle – they may give you water but they’ll often forget to replenish it for you.

      When interviewers offered me the opportunity to ask questions, I asked most of the questions to multiple interviewers. I felt like that gave me different perspectives on the same question, and I wanted to see where people converged and where they differed.

    8. gladfe*

      It depends on what the position is, but most jobs at a university involve talking to a lot of different audiences. These interview presentations are often open to the public. It’s pretty common for the audience to include the hiring committee; a couple other people who are experts at what you’re doing; a few people from the same department who are interested in who gets hired but don’t know anything about the details of the job; a couple mildly interested students, who were often bribed with food to be there; and a few other people who don’t care about this position at all but are interested in a similar career track for themselves and wanting to see what an interview presentation is like. I’ve never been on the hiring committee for any non-entry-level role, but what I’ve heard is that they’re as much interested in how well you can communicate with all those groups as they are in the content of your presentation.
      For the social part, a lot of the people you’re dealing will be almost as uncomfortable with the forced interaction as you. Be on your best interview behavior, but don’t stress out that any awkwardness from other people is part of some tricky interview strategy. Interview mind games are super rare, and weird academics are super common, so it doesn’t make sense to overthink that stuff.

      1. gladfe*

        Wait, there’s an exception to what I just said: breakfast! I don’t know if it counts as a deliberate mind game, but I’ve heard stories of candidates who tanked their interviews by being rude to a secretary first thing in the morning. If you need caffeine to function, get up early and have it before you meet anybody, even if they’re taking you to get coffee anyway. And always treat all support staff (at least) as well as you’d treat any interviewer. Their feedback is taken very, very seriously by every department I’ve been a part of.

        1. Ghost Town*

          The support staff piece – cannot state this strongly enough. Their feedback is incredibly important and should you get the job, you’ll be working with them on countless things and in countless ways. No need to start off on their bad side.

    9. VelociraptorAttack*

      With your presentation I would very highly recommend doing a but of research on the university and tying that in. Obviously this could vary depending on the position and school but for instance, I work at a university and attended a presentation from a candidate where they mentioned greek life as a group to reach out to… my institution does not have greek life so it kind of hit a disconnect for a lot of us.

    10. Product person*

      Oh! I think I have advice that applies across the board (regardless of the position you’re taking) about one thing you asked:

      “Lastly it also includes a presentation I have to give on a project or program I’ve contributed to. I have a project selected, one I’m actually currently working on (no issues with my current job sharing it). Are there specific things they’re usually looking for in presentations? Obviously that I know the subject matter and can speak clearly on it, but beyond that…??”

      Make sure during the presentation that, in addition to describing the project or program’s overall objectives and results, you make it clear what was your individual contribution to the project. I’ve seen a lot of candidates with potential get “blackballed” by people who watched their presentations because it was very unclear (even when directly asked) what was their specific individual contribution to the project. It’s perfectly fine to indicate that you worked on X and Y under the supervision of someone else, only did ABC on your own, and never touched Z. That goes much better than trying to conceal the reality or make it look like you did most of the work (people can see through that, and being honest ends up counting on your favor, as it shows you have confidence in your skills and aren’t afraid to acknowledge the limitations of your knowledge and/or involvement in certain aspects of the work).

      Good luck!

      1. Wheezy Weasel*

        +1 on this. You could make a graphic in the presentation that represents the different stakeholders in the project and highlight yourself with color or indicators, plus have a few bullets about the project manager, subject matter experts roles, and other stakeholders. I’ve contributed to a lot of projects as a subject matter expert but felt comfortable explaining the high level project objectives in a presentation. As Product Person said, as long as you indicate how you participated.

        I also really like to hear about ways a project could have been improved or gone a different direction. For instance, in closing you could say ‘If funding materialized, we could expand this to Y and Z departments’. It demonstrates that you’re able to have a higher level vision for the project outcomes.

        1. Product person*

          Good point, Wheezy Weasel, about adding suggestions about how the project could have been improved! Definitely shows initiative and can make you stand out from the pack.

        2. GigglyPuff*

          Good points y’all. I think if I had a little less experience this would’ve been invaluable advice and made me feel way more comfortable, but luckily the project I selected, I’m the point person for my department.
          There is one part of the project I’m trying to figure out how to phrase: steps I wrote up, followed our policies, would’ve made everything more uniform, but they were shot down by the other dept in the fear that they’d have taken too long. So I’m trying to find the nice balance of, there are compromises for quicker results vs. the other dept was wrong and had no idea what I was talking about no matter how many times it was explained and was probably scared of change.

    11. dear liza dear liza*

      For dinner and any other social times during the interview, get ready to make small talk. Ask people questions. As an interviewer, one of my least favorite things is having to introduce all topics and ask all the questions, while the candidate does not reciprocate. Stay away from things like politics, religion, and kids; ask people about their pets and upcoming or past vacations, get ready to talk a bit about your favorite hobbies. For library positions, you can’t go wrong asking people if they’ve read any good books lately, and be ready to talk about some you’ve read. Good luck!

      1. Sutemi*

        Assuming you are interviewing from out of town, questions about activities in the community and neighborhoods to live in may also be good topics to show interest in their lives as well as moving.

    12. Casuan*

      this is a bit off from the usual interview advice…
      During any given meal, each person- regardless of position or class- will, at least once, do something they wish no one else has seen.

      Knowing this has helped me through many meals & for me, “at least once” is usually an understatement.

      GigglyPuff, congratulations & good luck!!

    13. AnotherLibrarian*

      Day long interviews are probably the most exhausting thing ever. Eat a good breakfast and wear comfortable shoes. You will be walking around A LOT.

      For the presentation, I would assume no one actually read the prompt even if it was sent out and be prepared to repeat it as needed. Remember that there will be librarians and non-librarians in the audience. We once had a canidate who did a whole presentation on the idea of “flipping the classroom” and never actually defined what a that term meant.

      Ask questions. Please please ask questions. Your questions are going to show if you are engaged or not and when I hear a good question, I always think, “Dang, that was a good question.”

      Treat everyone you interact with as though they could make or break your chances. Remember, secretaries, student assistants and non-library folks have a huge impact on your chances. They will be asked and they will be honest.

      Oh, and I wouldn’t wear a suit to the dinner. I would wear something a step up from your normal work clothes, but a step down from a suit. I think when I did one, I wore a cardigan over a blouse and a skirt with tights and boots. It was the midwest in the dead of winter, so I was trying to be warm.

      Also, never insult the state you are in. We had a canidate complain a lot about the state our school is in and we were all offended. Just a warning of what not to do.

    14. GigglyPuff*

      Thank you everyone for the advice! It’s really helped and made me feel better about the whole thing, still probably going to be a giant nervous wreck, but now that I know it’s probably what I thought it would be like, will help me calm down.
      I just really want this job (at this point). It’s been a long time since I’d seen a job description at my level that I really felt confident saying “I could totally do that”. That would be a good challenge, but not an out and out reach of “I’ve never even been exposed to those job responsibilities before, eek”. So I’m really excited, but also trying to calm myself and I think going in with some idea of what to expect is really helping. So thank you!!!

  2. AMD*

    TLDR first: My friend recommended I interview for what sounds like a scammy company who now wants me to invest time in an in-person interview. Should I tell the friend how scammy it is, tell him I just can’t make it work, or just ghost on any communication related to this?

    Long version: I graduated college with a friend who graduated at 18, who was always super intelligent but a little socially out of sync. We’ve remained in touch since and have a fairly good relationship.

    He went to law school following college, and he’s now doing a lot of part time/freelance legal work for several different companies, trying to build a network and hopefully land a permanent position. On a phone conversation where I was updating him about my life (baby on the way! dropping from full time to super-part time after baby arrives!) he said “Hey, I am actually working with a company that is recruiting in your area for part time online work! My contact is always looking for good people, and it would give you an additional revenue stream in preparing for the baby!” I asked what the work was and he gave a vague answer – helping major companies like Home Depot, and Nike with increasing online revenue and customer communication.

    (I’m a pharmacist. I have no experience in online marketing and communications – but I’m fairly computer- and internet-savvy so I thought I’d just talk and see what the position was and be able to have no investment if it wasn’t a good fit.)

    We set up a phone interview with his connection, “Ramón.”

    Ramón began the interview with a pitch for the company (The DTS Group? But he didn’t mention the company name on the phone, I had to ask my friend for it later.) Ramón said that his company helps improve revenue streams (this phrase came up a lot) for lots of companies in 101 countries, including Nike, Home and Office Depot, Apple, Microsoft, Under Armor, and more, and they operate in all 50 states but are recruiting for team members in my area now.

    He asked me:
    “[Friend] mentioned you’re expecting, when are you due? Are you planning on continuing to work full time at your regular job or be a stay-at-home mom?”
    “AMD, do you and your husband have any major financial goals right now?”
    “A lot of our team members make $60-70k in addition to their regular jobs, does that sound like something you’d like to do, AMD?”
    “Does your husband support you in your adding revenue streams? Would he be able to come to your in-person interview so that we can explain our process to both of you together?

    And then tried to close the conversation with, “Great, when are you available to meet in-person?”

    I was trying to behave myself because my friend had recommended me and I don’t want to make him look bad, but I ended up having to talk over Ramón to ask, “What exactly would this position entail? What kind of job is it?”

    “Oh, AMD, what you have to understand is, we aren’t hiring for a job, we are hiring for candidates for our team. We have lots of different kinds of people on our teams, including pharmacists like yourself – one pharmacist even was able to leave her full-time pharmacy job and entirely replace that revenue stream by working with us.”

    “OK,” I said, “so the pharmacists on your team, what do they do? What does a workday look like for them?”

    “Well, it varies widely from person to person, our team does a lot of different things, like I’m sure the pharmacist I mentioned was communicating with clients, helping them improve revenue streams, maybe doing some training – but I really can’t tell you any more over the phone because our processes are proprietary. I can only talk to you about our proprietary process in person, which is why I want to set up an in-person interview.”

    I let him end the conversation at that point with a promise to contact me to try to set up an in-person meeting.

    Obviously, I’m not going to do this meeting. I don’t have a finger on what exactly kind of scam this is, but I am sure that no legitimate company would have so many red flags.

    But now I have my friend who personally recommended me to Ramón and is apparently doing some kind of actual paying work for him. I don’t want to hurt his reputation. But I’m also fairly offended by the questions that Ramón asked, and a little concerned that my friend doesn’t recognize that this is some kind of scheme and not a valid company. I’m wondering if my friend is going to get in trouble through involvement with them, or continue recommending people he cares about to interview with them.

    Should I:

    1) Call/text friend: “Hey, this interview was really offensive and concerning to me because of XYZ and it sounds like a MLM/pyramid scam. I don’t want to hurt your reputation as you’re trying to network, but I’m going to drop out of the process. Be careful when dealing with Ramón, because this sounds like a bad company to be involved with…”
    2) Call/text friend: “Hey, on more consideration I don’t think I’m going to continue in this process, but thanks for the recommendation! Good luck!”
    3) Do not contact friend about this “interview” etc., and just be unfortunately unavailable to ever, ever meet with Ramón if they contact me again.
    4) Arrange the interview, spend the hour commute each way into the city and listen to the sales pitch, and laugh in Ramón’s face at the end.
    5) Something else?

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Do not pass go, do not collect $200. This is 100% a scam.

      From your options listed, I’d go with #2 initially, but if your friend probes would I suggest bringing up the stuff in #1.

      1. Honeybee*

        This is my answer as well! You don’t need to go into detail, but if your friend asks for it might as well give them the truth.

    2. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Go with option 1. Run away and make sure your friend knows why. This smells worse than a dead fish. Anybody that evasive has to be doing something questionable if not illegal.

    3. Amy*

      If this is a close friend and you think he sincerely might not know what’s going on, go with option #1. If you’re not that close, or you think he probably knows what’s up and is doing it anyways, then use option #3. I don’t think you need to somehow notify your friend that you won’t be pursuing this, unless he asks, at which point #2 is always available.

    4. Nea*

      I’d go for the direct approach, preferably by voice. “Friend? So I got called by Ramone and there enough red flags here for a parade. What EXACTLY are you doing for them? More than that – have they paid you yet? Because this sounds so much like a scam that I wouldn’t be surprised that they ghost on you on payday.”

      1. Blue*

        There’s no payday. This group wants “entrepreneurs” to pay them for their system and support (a pyramid or MLM scheme) — and it won’t be a small chunk of change.

        1. Anna*

          I think the assumption is that AMD’s friend, who does freelance legal work, is doing freelance legal work for whatever this “company” is and so AMD would be approaching it from that perspective rather than the more worrisome perspective of AMD’s friend being taken by the pyramid scheme and already paying into the BS and then trying to get AMD on board with it, too.

    5. Lucy Richardson*

      I’d go with some version of 1 & 2, stating the weirdness without drawing any conclusions. “He wouldn’t tell me what the job duties are, which is very strange. And, they wanted me to bring Husband to the interview; that’s bizarre. I don’t know what’s going on with this company, but that phone interview really turned me off, so I won’t be pursuing employment with them further.”

      1. Annie Moose*

        I like this approach. Talk about what the red flags were, without being like “IT’S A SCAM! IT’S A SCAM!” If your friend has invested time/money/whatever already in this company, they might respond better to this approach.

    6. Alice*

      I’d vote for option 1 — if something that straightforward hurts the friendship (and I’d be surprised if it did), then it wasn’t a good friendship to begin with.

    7. Rowan*

      From the questions asked, this sounds waaaay more like multi-level marketing (think: Amway) than an actual job. Why else talk about a “revenue stream” than a salary? Or ask if the husband would be on board?

    8. LCL*

      ‘Improve revenue streams’ is code for selling something.
      I vote for option 1 EXCEPT leave out the word offensive. Offensive is nonspecific and could apply to anything. And really, why should your friend care if the interview was offensive? The problem is all the scam techniques being used by the interviewer. Not giving you a straight answer on what the job involves is reason enough to say no.

      1. Other Duties as Assigned*

        Also watch out for another code phrase: “You have the ability to manage your own income!”

      2. Honeybee*

        If I had recommended a friend to a job, connected her with a contact, and she told me that the interview ended up being “offensive,” I would absolutely care. The scam techniques are the main problem but the weird invasive nature of the interviewer is a (related) problem as well.

        1. LCL*

          I wouldn’t care about the offensive aspect because it is enough of a challenge managing my own interactions with people. And once you get one step removed, people may irritate and offend and you won’t really know the true reason. If someone told me someone I referred them to is offensive that is mildly interesting, but I would see it as mostly irrelevant. If I was good friends with them, I might ask them what the other person did wrong.

    9. kittymommy*

      Yeah, I would do something between 1 & 2. Maybe more like 2 in the beginning and sprinkle it with vague reference to your concerns. If he seems receptive go ahead with the more concrete problems with the company.

    10. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m wondering why you’re thinking of treating your friend so delicately! Why not just tell him the truth? (And frankly, given the wording your friend used with you, he’s fully bought into the MLM shadiness that’s going on, and it would be good to be direct with him.)

      1. Gandalf the Nude*

        Actually, my understanding is that kind of bluntness doesn’t usually work on folks who’ve bought into MLMs. It tends to cause them to double-down. That’s fine if OP just doesn’t want to be bothered by the MLM, but if she wants to help her friend, it usually takes a more nuanced approach.

          1. WhirlwindMonk*

            What purpose does “calling out the BS” serve if it doesn’t help the friend? If you don’t care about helping the friend, just bow out without explanation. If you care about helping the friend, seek the appropriate approach, whatever that is.

              1. Anna*

                I agree. There’s no reason to be so cautious with the friend, especially since bowing out and giving no explanation could lead to offense. Just be honest about it.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I don’t mean that last sentence in a snotty way, by the way! (I realized too late that it might sound that way.) I genuinely place a high premium on that, probably more than is normal.)

                1. Gandalf the Nude*

                  I’ve been accused of standing on principle to my own detriment, so I’m with you there. It’s just, for me, acting on principle necessarily means trying to help the other person. That goes double for someone who’s close enough to warrant a catch-up phone call, though that’s my own personal threshold.

      2. Thinking Outside the Boss*

        I was going to say #1 with more bite: “Hey, WTF!! You tried to set me up with a company scamming people and you gave them personal information about me. What’s up with that?!?”

    11. General Ginger*

      I vote 1. If your friend doesn’t know that this is a scam, he should. If he knows and willingly recommended it to you anyway, that’s a red flag in and of itself.

    12. Honeybee*

      I gave my answer above – #2 with a dash of #1 – but furthermore…why would your friend reveal that you were pregnant to her “manager”? That seems weirdly insensitive of her…I know, she’s not good with social cues, but still.

      None of this makes any sense. Most companies with the most sensitive of data will still tell you the general job duties over the phone; “generating revenue streams” doesn’t mean anything (so you help other companies make money? HOW?), and “we aren’t hiring for a job, we are hiring for candidates for our team” is so nonsensical I’m baffled that someone could say that with a straight face.

      1. azvlr*

        And if the friend is not good with social cues, perhaps they were duped as well. I’m not sure how much time has passed since graduating at age 18, but he may not have the life experience to recognize this for what it is. If that may be the case, you’d be doing him a favor by being up front about it.

    13. Arjay*

      How much marketing support does a company like Nike need from random people Ramon is “hiring”? Scam.

      1. Honeybee*

        Yeah, all of those companies have large in-house marketing arms. Not that they never contract third-party marketing services/firms, but those places would simply tell you they do marketing or market research, not “generating revenue streams.”

    14. Cheese Sticks and Pretzels*

      I agree, run away and run away fast. Of course they want you to come in for a face to face because they know it is harder for people to say no when they have them trapped in a room. I got suckered into sitting through an Amway presentation of all things a few weeks ago ugh.

      I did say NO :)

    15. Thinking out loud*

      I’m wondering if you would be creating (fake) reviews for products on Amazon and similar websites?

    16. Elizabeth West*

      $60-70K for a part-time online job? That right there should tell you it’s a huge scam. There are no jobs where you can do this.

      Run, run like the wind. If you feel like you have to tell your friend anything, just say you thought it over and it’s not for you.

    17. MindOverMoneyChick*

      I actually like Option 2 with maybe a little bit of option 1 thrown in. Once people are really invested in MLM it’s really hard to make them believe it’s not a scam (my clients come to my for money advice and trust me, but I still have a hard time getting them to believe me about MLMs). So while I get that it seems like it should be unnecessary to be so careful with a friend, I kind of think once MLMs involved all bets are off. Also FWIW most of my clients fade away on MLMs over time when they don’t see the results. Mind you, I’ve never had one Telly me they now thought it was a scam. They just became less involved over time.

    18. Anon Accountant*

      Option 1 please. Your friend genuinely may not know and appreciate the heads up in how Ramon is acting.

    19. Lily in NYC*

      I think your friend is well aware that this is some type of MLM and was trying to recruit you for commission. You don’t owe him anything other than “hey, thanks for the referral but the interviewer was pushy and asked shady questions and refused to tell me anything about the work so I’m not going to continue with the process”. And it’s almost impossible to talk sense into someone when they are in the MLM get-rich-quick fog. He’ll have to figure it out by failing. Congrats on your upcoming baby!

      1. Not So NewReader*


        Tell your friend what you want so he will better match you up, if he is going to help in your job search. Here’s what I would say:

        1) The employer has to identify themselves. I have to know the name of the company I am applying to, or it’s no go for me.
        2)The employer has to tell me some of the skills necessary to do the job. If they cannot list off skills, I have no way to know if it makes sense to keep talking.
        3) I am not interested in running my own business or investing my money in someone else’s business.

        Honestly, if your friend did this to you, he has probably done it to others and he is used to hearing the word NO.

    20. Casuan*

      Thank your friend for thinking of you & then tell your friend that you have no interest in the company because you don’t agree with the business model, part of which is not to give basic information over the phone & to be concerned only with how much money everyone could make. Don’t explain much more than that because your friend will have only heard “I don’t want to make qazillions of dollars” & he will be aghast at the thought that no one would want to make big money by working at home. If your friend broaches the concept again, be a broken record.
      caveat: This isn’t meant as rudeness to your friend. If you think your friend would be receptive to your reasons, then please do tell him!

      Tell Ramón that you aren’t interested & good-bye. When he presses or otherwise tries to ask you questions, refuse to engage. At all.
      “I’ve made my decision Have a good day, I’m hanging up now. Good-bye.”
      Ramón will probably forget your existence within 5 minutes, max. He wouldn’t give you the courtesy of giving context over the phone & he was willing to waste your time by not giving more specific answers to your very reasonable questions & by insisting you meet.
      Even clandestine services can give a relatively accurate description of a published job without divulging proprietary information.

      After you talk with both of these guys, vow to teach your child all that is good & how to deal with the bad. :)

    21. AMD*

      So, I went with #1, and sent a brief text saying “Hey, I don’t know if you stayed on the call for all of that, but that was a strange interview with a lot of red flags for a pyramid scheme kind of enterprise. Thanks for recommending me, but I don’t want to be involved any further.”

      He replied that he had been on the call for the entire interview, that Ramon was a good friend and trusted professional, that as a business lawyer my friend had done months of due diligence on the company before joining the team, that Ramon was testing my openness and teachablility, and that he didn’t understand how I could drop out with no information. I replied that there were a lot of red flags but I hope he is right and wished him the best.

      I think it won’t be an issue between us as friends if neither of us pushes it further, but now I find it equally plausible that he isn’t really just very naive about this, or that he has bought into whatever this company’s mission is and is knowingly recruiting for the scheme.

      Thank you guys for the advice!!!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        So your friend KNEW Ramon did not tell you anything of substance. How else would he know that you had no information.

        Eh, tell him you don’t like guessing games and you usually do not play.

      2. The Expendable Redshirt*

        (jaw drop of amazement)



        You’ve handled this with extreme professionalism and kindness. That is all

      3. AcademiaNut*

        “didn’t understand how I could drop out with no information”

        Because you asked for information several times, and they refused to give it to you.

        I’d guess that it’s actually a combination of the two. People who are naive but regard themselves as extremely smart can be particularly vulnerable to scams like this. And because he regards himself as so smart, it’s next thing to impossible to convince him that he might be wrong, even if he’s left broke and friendless as a direct consequence.

        And he was listening in on the conversation without telling you? That’s just plain rude.

        1. Lance*

          Yeah, this is very much the sound of someone who’s been sucked into this company(?)’s scheme. Shame that you couldn’t rely on him for a job lead, but good luck with any search, and especially with the coming child!

      4. ancolie*

        and that he didn’t understand how I could drop out with no information.

        Jesus. It’s like, “uh, the fact he refused to GIVE me information is the exact reason WHY I dropped out.”


  3. Queen B*

    How do I get my supervisor to go on medical leave, or some sort of personal leave?

    I have an interesting situation at work, and I’m not quite sure how to handle. My supervisor (let’s call her Barb), has been ill, and had several personal family issues going on for about a month now. She has had mono for almost 3 weeks now, and comes in to work tired and groggy each morning. She usually ends up leaving anywhere from 1-3 hours early each day, or taking a 3 hour lunch break to sleep in her car because she is so tired. Her productivity has significantly decreased because of this. On top of the mono, Barb found out a month ago that she has partial kidney failure, and her kidneys are only working at 35% capacity. She has missed 5 or 6 full days of work over the past month to attend doctor’s appointments for both her mono, and her kidney issues. She has also left unexpectedly many days to go home and rest, because she feels so awful. In addition to her illnesses, she also has a lot going on at home. She is in her upper 50’s, and has two adopted toddler girls, who she took on due to her nephew (who is the biological father of the girls) having serious drug problems. A few years back, Barb’s friend agreed to help raise the girls with Barb and moved in with her, but has recently backed out, leaving Barb on her own to raise two young children. It is clear that Barb is way over her head with her declining health, and rocky situation at home.

    I work in a small office, and my coworker and I both have work that depends on Barb getting things done first. We are having trouble keeping things rolling in a timely fashion for customers, due to Barb’s absences causing her to get behind on her work. My coworker has approached Barb multiple times to suggest that she take some time off work. It is clear that she is under major stress that is causing her work performance to severely decrease, affecting our company as a whole. However, Barb refuses. She claims that there is too much work to be done, and that she cannot bear to take extended time off. From my point of view, she has already taken so much unexpected time off, and when she is here, her performance has suffered, that I would rather have her take a formal leave at this point. That way, we can formally discuss reassigning her work between my coworker and I. To be clear, it wouldn’t even be a huge burden to reassign her work – my coworker and I are both familiar enough with the work she does, and would not be overly stressed out to take on her work in her absence. The problem is that since Barb is still coming into work and trying to complete all of her tasks, my coworker and I never know when we can expect things to get done so that we can do our part, or if there will be errors that we have to fix (there have been many as of late), before we continue our work. When we offer to help Barb, she refuses, and says she is there to work. Based on her situation, I think everyone would be better off if she took some sort of leave. Would it be out line for my coworker and I to go to Big Boss and suggest that she take some time off? To give you an idea of the power dynamics, our office is so small that everyone has a close working relationship, so Big Boss is someone that we interact with every day.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I think you can talk to Big Boss, you but you need to frame it less about Barb’s health and more on the work processes. Focus on how you’re having trouble keeping things rolling in a timely fashion for customers. Maybe suggest that it might be a good to bring on an extra person to help with things (because ultimately if Barb did take extended leave, you’d still be stuck with that work so you do need help).

      1. Queen B*

        I probably should have included this in my letter, but we actually recently added an additional team member, who will be doing a lot of the same work and my coworker and I. He just started on Monday, so he still has a lot to learn, but having him aboard should relieve some of the stresses once he gets acclimated with our system.

        1. LCL*

          Big Boss already knows. Otherwise the new person wouldn’t have been added. You can ask big boss for help with work flow, but you can’t make Barb take leave. The most you can do is let big boss know you are willing to work extra to help, for awhile.

          FWIW, I have seen employees do this when their personal life is imploding. They use the routine of work to help keep them sane. It falls to management to decide if the employee should take leave, and force them to if it is possible.

    2. A la peanut butter sandwiches*

      Yes, it would be out of line to go to Big Boss and suggest she take some time off. (And it’s kinda out of line to suggest to Barb that she needs to take some time off.) However, it’s not out of line to discuss how you are not able to complete your work in a timely manner due to delays in you getting the information you need. At that point it’s up to TPTB to determine how the workflow issue should be resolved.

    3. fposte*

      I wouldn’t. You guys are leapfrogging to what somebody should do rather than raising the problem, and that would be compounded by going over Barb’s head. She doesn’t have to take leave just because it would be easier for her co-workers. (It’s also not clear if Barb’s job would be legally protected during any leave, and she’s highly unlikely to get paid.)

      What you can do is go back to Barb and say hey, we’ve had some problems with inconsistency with workloads–is there a way we can regularize the workflow in areas A, B, and C? And we need more time with X, Y, and Z to get them proofed by the deadline.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        With two illnesses and twin toddlers she’s solely responsible for, I was thinking that Barb can’t afford to take leave!

    4. Luce21*

      Don’t go to your boss and suggest how Barb should change what she is doing. Instead, go to your boss and present the facts of the problem and ask how he would like you to handle it. Ex: With Barb coming and going due to her health issues, we never quite know when we need to step in and finish X, Y, and Z. We have the time to help cover her responsibilities while she is going through this tough time, but we need a more efficient way to delegate them in a timely manner. What do you suggest we do?

    5. MissDisplaced*

      I get what you’re saying in that it would be almost better if Barb took off 2-3 months and just got well.
      In many cases, this is a better overall situation to for a business and coworkers to cover than many constant half-days and unexpected health dramas. However, it’s really not your place to suggest or demand it, and frankly I am shocked that Big Boss has not brought up the issue with Barb by now as it sounds like she would qualify for FMLA if she truly needed it.
      But I agree that at this point all you can really do is talk to Big Boss about how he wants you to handle it when X, Y, Z needs to get done.

      1. Ashley*

        I would not go to anyone to suggest someone else take leave. As someone who worked with mono years ago, coming in late, long lunch naps, and going home early was the norm for about two months. Having kids at home and other health issues it might take longer.
        I would phrase the conversation with Barb about how you can help given all she has happening. Are there some projects you can do and she can review? Can you reasonably ask for more responsibility?
        While leave might be nice, the finicalial hit makes it often unrealistic, plus she may know she may need to down the road if the kidney issues get worse.

        1. AD*

          I would phrase the conversation with Barb about how you can help given all she has happening

          A lot of people are saying this, but from what Queen B said Barb is either not seeing the effect her performance is having on them or refuses to acknowledge it when Queen B has raised it (which she says she has several times).
          Just saying “talk to Barb” clearly isn’t enough. I agree that going straight to Big Boss may not be warranted yet, but Queen B you need to get a LOT more direct with Barb.

          1. fposte*

            If all that’s happening is people telling Barb that she needs to take leave, though, that’s not a discussion, and it’s not a good opener for one. I would try a discussion about the workload rather than a leave directive before I decided Barb wasn’t open to conversation.

    6. Jordan*

      If you and your co-worker can pick up the slack if Barb was not around, why not pick up the slack despite her being partially around? Explain that you know she is concerned about all the work that needs to be done, so you and co-worker would like to help share the burden. Barb can keep her pride about coming to work or her paycheck or whatever it is that she is getting out of coming into the office, and you and your co-worker can obtain authority to work around Barb’s issues.

      1. azvlr*

        If the work is coming to Barb’s inbox, they may not have access to it. If they work were reassigned, they would be able to take action.

    7. Old Lady*

      If she’s in her upper fifties she knows that anything that jeopardizes her employment could mean she would be out of the full time workforce for the rest of her life. Taking leave (without pay I presume?) would be a financial hardship. And to her, the odds of actually returning may seem very slim. You don’t know what it’s like for older workers.

      1. JulieBulie*

        I agree… Barb is probably afraid to go on leave. I am younger than Barb, but I’d be afraid too.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      If you guys already know how to do Barb’s job, why not have one or both of you assigned as her formal backup? If she fails to show for work, then you just do the parts that are needed today to keep the business running.

      The idea that work is held for “just in case” she is there to do it, boggles my brain. Route the work in such a manner that if she is there, she does it, otherwise someone else does it.

      My thinking is that if you present this to the boss as a work flow problem, you are waiting for her work, then you are saying what needs to be said without suggesting someone go without a paycheck. It’s up to the boss to figure out how long she is willing to roll with this situation. I have seen bosses roll for a long time. It depends on the employee sometimes.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        It seemed as though this is really the outcome what the office wanted… but Barb seemed to be rather clueless to it? Either she didn’t want to delegate or didn’t realize the impact her (unexpected) absences was having on the workflow. I got the sense the irritation was more around Barb being a bottleneck in the workflow because of the “unexpected” time off more so than Barb actually taking the time off? I also read this as though some sort of sick leave and/or vacation was available… but Barb didn’t want to take?

        There are those types of people who insist they are “fine” and will try to keep working until they drop and end up in the ER. Either this is truly through fear of taking time off (if the company culture is like that or it’s not available) or a misplaced sense the company cannot function without them for a few weeks (those types tend to never use up their paid vacation either).

        Either way, as Barb is the supervisor, it sounds like some poor planning for just such emergencies.
        Where I work we’ve had 2 people go out for chemo, one emergency and one planned. In both cases, their workload coverage was thought out and planned for, so there was little interruption and drama about how work was to proceed while they were out. They did come back, and a transition back in was also planned via them working at home for a few weeks. It can be done, but the parties have to be willing to work it out (assuming of course some type of leave is actually available).

    9. Thlayli*

      I am guessing most people will disagree, but if I was in your situation here’s what I would do.
      1 tell her that you have her back and you know she is going through a tough time. Tell her that you have no intention of trying to get her fired or forced to take unpaid leave and you just want to do everything you can to keep the work going without putting undue pressure on her.
      2 tell barb that you are going to start taking doing her work on the days she is off or goes home early, and that You will hand over to her each day she comes in and she should hand over back to you when she leaves in case she is not in the next day. If she protests again tell her that the work is not being done and it has to be done, and if she refuses to let you take it over then you will have no choice but to go to your manager

      It seems like your priority is to keep the work going and it doesn’t really affect you massively whether barb is in or out so long as the work is getting done.

      Mono has about a 3 month period as i recall. I had it in college and I used to come in about noon, go home at 4 and sleep through till the next morning. It really is that tiring, but it will go away. Toddlers also learn to sleep through the night eventually so that aspect of the tiredness will go away too. So I would see this as helping out someone in need for a few months until they are able to take on more of the load.

      If she by some miracle could get fully paid time off for 3 months then by all means tell her to take sick leave and to keep the childcare and sleep during the day. But if she would have to take unpaid leave then she will be penniless with no childcare and stick at home trying to look after 2 toddlers with severe illnesses. I don’t think anyone would cope with that very well so you will not be doing her any favours by suggesting that to her.

    10. This Daydreamer*

      How close are you? It sounds like someone needs to sit down with her and ask her if her job is worth dying for. Since she’s your supervisor, that may have to be a conversation she has with her doctor.

      If you and your coworker can start taking over her job when she’s not there, that might make her feel less like she HAS to work.

  4. WellRed*

    Related to yesterday’s letter, what do folks think about companies booking Air BnBs rather than hotel rooms? I’d prefer not to have to share living space with coworkers and there’s always the risk you find yourself sleeping in an open loft or what have you.

    1. Leatherwings*

      As long as there are private spaces for everyone, I don’t mind. I’ve booked Air BnB for my boss before traveling by himself.

    2. Nonnonnon*

      My company booked us in resort houses (not AirBnB but similar) and I was supposed to sleep in a twin trundle bed. I was kind of peeved. Ended up getting laid off immediately before the trip.

      1. ali*

        Oh, I wonder if we worked for the same company, as the exact same thing happened to me about 4 years ago.

    3. Annie Moose*

      Depends, I guess. Some coworkers got an AirBnB for a conference last month, but they were able to see pictures of the rooms before they got there, so there weren’t any surprises. As long as everybody knows what they’re getting into, I don’t see an issue.

    4. DCGirl*

      I think it’s just too easy for things to go wrong with them, whether it’s everyone sleeping in an open loft or the owner flaking out and leaving you stranded. With a hotel, you know exactly what you’re going to get and there’s recourse if something goes wrong (a hotel will walk you to another property, for example, if it’s overbooked).

      1. But you don't have an accent*

        For these reasons, my company actually put a blanket ban on AirBNB and other such housing options for business travel. There’s just too much that could go wrong, and they’d rather pay to have us in a hotel, which is a “known” quantity.

        That being said, my company also has some strict hotel requirements for employee safety, so I think there were a lot of factors that went into the decision.

    5. The OG Anonsie*

      I’m fine with it. In some cities you can get a studio apartment for cheaper than a hotel room in a central location, no sharing required.

    6. Lemon Zinger*

      If I was expected to do an extended stay somewhere (i.e. longer than a few days), I would love an AirBnB. But only if there were private rooms for each person. That said, I would still prefer a hotel suite (with a small functioning kitchen).

    7. k*

      If it’s for a single person I think it’s great, but I don’t like it for groups. Even if you can confirm that everyone will have a private room, more than likely there will be shared bathrooms. I can see people being pressured (whether overtly or implied) into saying they’re okay with that while really they’re not comfortable with it.

      Now, if budget is super tight and they only options are shared hotel rooms or Air BnB with private rooms and shared common spaces, then I’d vote for the AirBnb.

    8. LCL*

      Never. There aren’t enough ways to say no in the only language I speak to say no to this!

    9. AdAgencyChick*

      Mine won’t do it because they’re nonrefundable (right?). Clients can and do cancel travel at the last minute.

      1. zora*

        It depends, the hosts can determine their cancellation policy. I have booked rooms before that I was able to cancel the day before, but as it’s becoming more popular, I think less and less hosts are allowing cancellations.

      2. Natalie*

        Whether they’re refundable depends on the host’s policies, but there is some specific fee that’s always non-refundable.

    10. General Ginger*

      I guess it depends on the length of the trip. If it’s a longer stay, Air BnB would make sense, because of the “living in a furnished home with appliances” angle. For short trips, I’d rather a hotel.

    11. zora*

      I’m not totally against it, but would be really cautious about it.

      I used AirBnBs when traveling for just myself, in the city I was going to there were very few hotels within walking distance of where i was going for work every day, and I was able to get AirBNBs that was within a few blocks of the location, and had my own private room in an occupied apartment, for less than the cost of a hotel. Rather than a hotel several subway stops away that would have made my long days much longer and more stressful. Plus, my work at the time didn’t cover food expenses when traveling, so having access to a kitchen saved me tons of money by going to a grocery store and having breakfasts and dinners for the week.

      I think in some places they can be geographically more desirable depending on where you are going for work, so if I had an employer offer it to me as an option, I’d be interested in looking into it. I am fine sharing a living space as long as I have my own bedroom with a door. But if it was for a group from work all staying together, I would be way more cautious about the details than I would with a hotel. Making triple-sure that everyone had a private sleeping space, enough bathrooms to not cause a bottleneck, it was not too cramped for the number of people, etc.

    12. Antilles*

      I think it’s pretty ridiculous. Just strikes me as running some big potential risks for little to no benefit.
      On the downside, you’ve got all the potential issues DC Girl mentioned (flaky owners, bad sleeping arrangements, etc). Also, hotels are much more consistent; you basically know what to expect from a Holiday Inn anywhere from Alabama to Wyoming whereas an AirBnB you don’t *really* know what you’re getting yourself into until you show up on the day of.
      Then on the plus side of the ledger, I don’t see what exactly the benefit is. It might be a bit cheaper, but the cost savings from hotel to AirBnB is going to be negligible compared with the costs of everything else that goes into business travel (flight, per diem, lost productivity on the day of travel, etc). If your budget is so strained that the extra $50 a night for a decent hotel instead of AirBnB is going to make or break things, you should probably rethink the entire trip and figure if you can send fewer people / Skype it / make it fewer days / etc.

      1. CM*

        +1. As a lawyer, no way would I recommend my company use AirBnB and I would be concerned if I heard about us using it. Hotels operate legally, and have insurance and standard policies for dealing with issues. AirBnB, who knows what the hell is going on there. The owner could be renting it illegally, have hidden cameras installed, random people may have the keys, and so many other potential issues.

        1. Wheezy Weasel*

          Legal and insurance issues are my concern as well: I’m on company time but on a private person’s property. What if I get injured? The company will have to wrangle their own worker’s comp company, the homeowner’s insurance company (if it even covers commercial activity like AirBnB, which many don’t) and I’m likely going to use my own health insurance if these initial claims are denied by worker’s comp. Would your worker’s comp insurance try to deny the claim since it was an AirBnB?

          1. A Plain-Dealing Villain*

            Work comp doesn’t usually cover you while lodging. Home away from home principle means coverage stops the moment you step on the hotel property.

    13. Ann O. Nymous*

      I think if cost isn’t a factor, hotel rooms for business travel are the way to go. While I often find Airbnbs to be way cheaper than hotels, there’s a much higher risk of curve balls, like arriving and discovering you’re expected to bring your own TP (which has happened to me), the WiFi not working, the bathroom being grosser-looking that the pictures, etc. And speaking of bathrooms, in hotel rooms you get your own bathroom (unless your company makes you share, which always sucks), but in Airbnbs that’s definitely not a given.

      So unless you’re booking for a single person or you have a really tight academic/nonprofit budget, I would say Airbnb is a bad idea.

    14. Kaybee*

      Have done Air BnB in the past (same gender to a house), and will always choose hotel rooms if given a choice. There were three big issues: shared bathrooms, different temperature preferences and thin walls.

      The shared bathrooms SUCKED. We were four people to a bathroom. I have some health issues, and basically starved myself so that I wouldn’t need to urgently need the bathroom when it wasn’t available and so I wouldn’t stink it up when it was. So I was physically miserable the entire trip. No one explicitly planned this this, but showers order worked out to be hierarchical order because the lower-ranking folks felt uncomfortable saying “I should go first” when we were discussing who should get first dibs at the bathroom. This meant there was no hot water left for the most junior person, and at least one of the top folks wasn’t too great about cleaning her hair out of the drain. That’s just not something you need to know about your bosses.

      Temperature preference went the same way. The senior-ranking person basically decided what temperature we would keep the house at, which was way not comfortable for me.

      Adjoining bedrooms have thinner walls than (most) adjoining hotel rooms, which meant that we were exposed to each other’s snoring, bodily noises, “private” phone conversations, TV choices, etc.

      Never again, unless there really aren’t any other choices.

    15. writelhd*

      Based on the number of posts we get about this I suspect I’m in the minority here, or am just lucky enough to feel comfortable with all the coworkers I’d ever end up having to travel with like this, but I’m personally not bothered by sharing space. I’d share a hotel room with most of my same-gender coworkers and not be too bothered by it. (Sharing a room with someone of the opposite gender, would obviously be un-okay. ) I don’t think ending up an open loft kind of situation would be ideal, but honestly even if that happened to me I probably wouldn’t think too much about it. So, I don’t mind AirBNB over hotel. In general it can add more charm and give you options like a definite fridge to store your leftovers in that a hotel doesn’t always.

  5. Sunflower*

    I posted last week about my company hiring for my boss’s job in a new city I wanted to move to and how I would talk to my director about it. Well today is my bosses last day and I found out that my director is most likely leaving in the next few months. She told my team assistant, who she is very close with, and she accidentally spat it out to me so not even her boss knows yet. This could end up not happening but…… Hopefully this gives me more leverage to negotiate my move? Talking to the director today(and keeping my mouth shut about this info)- wish me luck!

  6. BRR*

    My employer usually does raises/promotions once a year at the beginning of the year (with some exceptions). My manager mentioned a couple of times she was working on getting me a raise and promotion because of my performance and how my role sharply expanded right after I started. I didn’t receive one though and the only reason I got was that my manager said she can only make suggestions about raises, not decide them. She left for another position shortly after.

    Last week I asked my temporary manager who is the director of our department (and was my boss’ boss) for a raise. The response was basically, “I want to. You deserve it. You’ll definitely get one next year. I’ll need a little time to see what I can do and will provides updates (and he has).” I did make sure to ask if there were any steps I should take to make sure I got one next year and was told to just keep doing what I’ve been doing (which I’ve been doing for over a year already).

    If I’m told I won’t get one until next year my two questions are 1) Can I ask why I didn’t receive one earlier this year? 2) How do you handle being told you should be paid more for what you do and you need to keep doing it for a while before we can recognize it? I’ve been keeping an eye out for new jobs but it might take a long time to find one.

    1. The Rat-Catcher*

      1) Personally, I wouldn’t. If he’s keeping you updated and giving you a timeline, I’m not sure what going over the history would do to help.
      2) This sounds a lot like what I’m currently going through, but I work in government and my boss has been pretty transparent that the hold-up is pure bureaucracy. It’s extremely frustrating, but she is basically creating an upward career path for me where one did not previously exist (I’m an admin), and I’m moving up far more quickly than anyone I know of in this role, so I am trying to focus on that and be grateful. That may not apply to you at all, but it’s how I deal with my laughably low pay. I will probably follow up in a few months if things have not progressed, though. I have a reminder set in my calendar for three months from the date of the last conversation to follow up, and am giving myself permission to put it out of my mind until then.

    2. lemonjelly*

      1 – I understand the desire to know that information, but in most situations I probably wouldn’t ask unless you have a particularly good/candid relationship with your temporary manager/director.
      2 – My last two jobs both ended up being situations where I was performing above my title/pay. In the first case, I had an amazing manager who very much recognized that, told me he knew and was fighting to get me the promotion and related raise I deserved, but was never able to get through the bureaucracy to actually get it accomplished. In that case I do truly believe my manager was doing everything he could for me, we had a great working relationship but overall the culture there was very dysfunctional and there were multiple contributing problems. I ended up leaving for another company when I got to the point where I honestly didn’t believe it would ever happen for me at that job. Another coworker and I, who both reported to the same awesome manager, ended up leaving right at the same time for similar reasons (and actually to go to the same new company… small IT world sometimes). We were both pretty candid with our manager about why we were leaving and did keep in touch afterwards, and he said that because of why we left he was able to finally get promotions for a couple other people on the team who also desperately deserved it. It was really awesome to know that our leaving did still have a positive impact!
      My last job before this one was a situation where I knew I was performing above my “level”, my coworkers and team lead all knew it too, but we had a ridiculous manager. We had discussed pay between ourselves when we suspected that new hires external hires were being treated much better than internal promotions (which, yep, ended up being very true across the board, to the tune of an average difference of about $20k), so unless my coworkers were lying I know I was underpaid for what I was doing. I ended up leaving there too after deciding that while my coworkers were awesome I couldn’t deal with terrible manager anymore. When I called to tell him I was putting in my two weeks notice (after he failed to show up in the office for a couple weeks, preventing me from being able to give notice in person), he asked why I was leaving. I didn’t want to completely burn bridges, so didn’t tell him directly that it was because I couldn’t stand working with him any longer, but I did mention that being so underpaid was a pretty serious problem for me. This should not have been news to him, I had multiple conversations with him about what it would take to get promoted, etc, and he would agree I was already “checking all the boxes” but would never give any specific timelines or commit to anything in particular. But his reaction to me bringing it up when putting my notice? First he denied that I was underpaid, and then said “but you don’t even have it that bad, there are people on the team who make less than you!” So… yeah. Because I wasn’t getting THE MOST shafted I shouldn’t complain. Doh. There is a happy ending, the job I left for is the job I’m still in now, and I love the work and my coworkers and the pay and basically everything about it, even after over a year here.
      All that was basically a novel just to say that the way I handled it was to find a new job. I don’t know how helpful that is in the short term if you think a job search will end up taking a long time, but both times I’ve been in similar situations ended with me leaving. The first job I lasted a little over 3 years in that position (but 8 years with the company total), the second was just under 2 years. So I like to think I was reasonably patient, but finally just hit my limits.

      1. BRR*

        Thanks for your response! Especially with number 1. I guess I was on the fence if it was like asking for feedback and it’s clear now that it’s not. That sucks about the second job (and really both). I don’t plan on being here past when I vest in my retirement contributions anyways so at least I don’t feel tied to my position.

        1. John B Public*

          I might suggest doing the math on that- how much would you lose if you’re not fully vested, and factor that into how much additional you’d need to make in the remaining time to recoup that loss? If it’ll take a year, and vesting only nets you $5000, then as long as you’d get a pay bump of >$5000 you should look for and accept a different position.

    3. Analysis Paralysis*

      Q1) I wouldn’t ask this (at least not in this way). If warranted, you can ask “are there specific areas that I can improve, or any areas where I need a little more polish to make me stand out more as promotion material?”. This question goes beyond asking about steps you should take to get promoted; it allows your manager a forum to address any minor things that may be holding you back. (Not saying that there are any… it’s just one way to ask about lack of promotion, without actually asking).
      Also it’s possible that people can only be promoted if there is an existing, vacant higher position. Many companies structure each department’s composition based on business need — if the structure is 10 Peons & 2 Leads, then you may have to wait for 1 of the Lead roles to open up, or look for a vacant Lead role in another department.

      Q2) Lack of transparency can be hard to deal with, and probably why you want to ask Q1. Perhaps your company is having financial issues, doesn’t have budget for raises (uhg!), doesn’t have a process for giving raises (or it’s a crappy process), or other things that your manager can’t/won’t disclose. Who knows.

      In terms of how to handle… keep the communication lines open with your manager. If you don’t already have a regularly scheduled 1:1 with your boss, then schedule it. NOTE: talk to your boss first about why* you are scheduling a reoccurring meeting and agree to frequency of meetings. * It’s important to use 1:1’s to discuss more than just self-development items such as updates on progress towards raise/promotion, coaching you on what you did well / what you can do differently. 1:1’s are a time & place to show that you want to add value / contribute to / help the company such as: identify new things would you like to try your hand at / take on, ask what new initiatives that are coming up that you may be able to lead or assist with, etc.

      Basically, be a RockStar regardless of raises/promotions. Oh, and the current situation with raises/promotions/feedback might be a Yellow Flag, so you should continue to apply / interview for other jobs. You never know what other positions may be a good/bad fit until you go through the process. Worst-case scenario is you turn down offer(s) because you determine that the Grass Isn’t Greener, and you keep sticking things out / being a RockStar where you are right now (and you can still continue to look for other opportunities).

      Good luck!

    4. Security SemiPro*

      How do I handle being told I should be paid more and I need to just keep doing it?

      So far, I do that, and keep an eye on my fair market rate and keep weighing the pros and cons of this job vs. whats available in the rest of my industry. For me, its worked out to I like my management, they’ve given me every non money perk they could think of or I could ask for (I have a very flexible work schedule, all the work I want and none that I don’t, etc.) and so I’m staying put for the time being. I highly value flexibility and being able to choose my work, and don’t value money as much – I make enough to live on comfortably and beyond that… I’d rather have the choice assignments and control over my schedule.

      It wouldn’t be impossible to hire me away, but I’m very comfortable here.

      Can your manager offer you additional flexibility or perks that would help keep you comfortable, or are you really motivated strongly only by money?

      1. Wheezy Weasel*

        Sounds like you have a really good perspective on the ‘monetization’ of that flexibility and assignment choice, and that’s something that took me 5-10 years to understand! When evaluating a new job offer, most of that flexibility is either hidden or is only verbally promised. You could take a new job with promises of working remotely and choosing your projects only to have it yanked away.

        I’ve found it helpful to remind myself if this flexibility when I’m using it…if I’m at a coffee shop at 2:30 in the afternoon on my laptop, saying ‘my employer values me enough to give me this freedom’ in my head. Or when I get to solve someone’s problem on my own authority without having to ask for 3 boss’ permission, etc.

    5. Bess*

      About #2–this happened to me once, and it really was about processes/bureaucracy/job titles/budget and there wasn’t too much anyone could do about it–I had strong advocates as supervisors and it just wasn’t in the cards. It was tough, but I loved the job enough that I stuck it out for another year or two. I don’t think I could have done it forever, but it did pay off down the line in a much better role with a decent salary.

      But it was the best job I’d ever had, so I had a lot to keep me there in spite of knowing I was grossly underpaid. I think if it had continued 3 or more years it would have been time to move on, because I really wasn’t making enough to live on, and my morale would have really kept tanking. And it can be tough to have trust when you’re told they’d promote you if they could…sometimes it’s genuine, sometimes it’s hot air.

  7. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

    Good morning all,

    I debated posting this all week, and finally figured what the heck. Alison – if it’s not work enough, I can certainly repost tomorrow.

    So, my husband has had some drama at work recently related to a workplace bully who has created a hostile working environment, and my husband had a severe panic attack Saturday night (he was supposed to go on duty Sunday morning) and asked me to take him to the hospital to receive psychiatric care.

    I can go into more detail tomorrow if anyone cares to hear about the horrible experience we had, but here’s the very, very short version… We got to the ER around 11PM Saturday, and they informed us the on-call psychiatrist wouldn’t be in until Sunday morning. That’s fine. Well when he does show up, he tells us my husband does not meet the criteria for in-patient admission, but doesn’t discharge him yet. Hours and hours go by, and then the nurse tells us that the doctor does want him to be admitted. So we go round and round with the nurse and never did see that doctor again or speak to him ourselves. Ultimately, they let us sign an AMA waiver and we left.

    Here’s where the situation gets tricky. The most accessible hospital to our home is the one at which I currently work. I just started my job here 6 weeks ago. I feel very strongly that the actions of the psychiatrist had the potential to cause more harm to my husband than any harm he would have inflicted on himself or anyone else at the time we were discharged. Not only that, there were several policy violations on the part of the staff and they really failed to provide basic patient care, and as a whole, we (as in the hospital) missed several opportunities for excellent patient care that could have turned the whole experience around. At no time did I tell the nurses that I work here, because I wanted to see what our experience would be like without any preferential staff treatment.

    Now… finally to my question… I work in the same office as our CEO. I am normally the first person in our office every morning, and he’s the second to arrive. There are a multitude of ways that I tell him about our experience (email, note, in-person, etc.), but should I? My husband really wants someone at the hospital to address the poor experience with us.

    The CEO is an interim CEO for now, and we expect to hire a new one in 4-6 months. This guy is really committed to improving patient outcomes and satisfaction, improving our reputation in the community, and improving staff morale. He is very explicit about his open-door policy so I have no doubt that he’d be receptive to a conversation. I just worry that nobody will take me or my husband seriously because my husband is “the crazy one”, even though our concerns are legitimate, and I worry that it could somehow backfire on me and I’ll get in trouble, even though I have literally done nothing wrong.

    Any thoughts anyone?

    1. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Go through whatever formal process exists for filing a complaint first. Going straight to the CEO does sometimes work but as a last resort rather than the opening move.

      1. Red Reader*

        As someone who also works in a hospital, yes. Go through the standard complaint process. (Among other things, you may find that the doc in question isn’t actually an employee of your hospital, and the formal complaint process will get you in touch with the appropriate hierarchy who can work on his boss’s end.)

        1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

          I’ll eventually follow up to everyone’s comments but this is a quick nugget for thought… I know for a fact that the psych is a contractor, not an employee. He runs his own practice here in the same town as the hospital.

          1. Observer*

            Fundamentally, it doesn’t matter. Sure, it’s going to make a difference in how the hospital handles it internally. But, either way, it’s on the hospital to make sure that patients get treated appropriately. Besides, it’s not just the doctor who was at fault here, if I’m reading you correctly.

          2. Red Reader*

            Blerg. Either way, if they’re going to terminate their contract with him or otherwise reprimand him, they still have to have formal complaints filed through the standard process for documentation purposes.

      2. Alice*

        I really like this idea. You can plan to follow up with the CEO at the end of the process even if it does work — as in, you should know that the ombudsman did a great job when ….
        And if the process doesn’t work, that’s the time to bring in the CEO to make things right.
        Hope your husband is doing better

      3. k*

        I might give your direct boss (not sure if that’s the CEO or someone else) a heads up that you’re going through the formal process. They might appreciate just being aware of it in case someone brings it up to them, to avoid having a deer in the headlights moment.

    2. HisGirlFriday*

      I think you should. This is valuable information for him to have and he’s in the position to act on it.

      Nothing will change if nothing is ever said, and the CEO should be able to address the situation without mentioning you specifically.

      1. TL -*

        I would file a formal complaint and discuss it lightly with CEO – mention the trip, that you’ve filed a complaint, and answer any questions he has. I’d be willing to bet he’s very interested in this as a case study for patient care.

    3. Hlyssande*

      I would say to start with the regular formal complaint process that everyone has access to. But if they stonewall you there, brush you off, etc – then bring it up to the CEO, because failures in the complaint process are also failures in patient satisfaction.

      1. Newby*

        I agree. It provides more information about how deep the problem goes. It’s bad if patients are ignored in the ER. It’s worse if bringing that to the hospitals attention doesn’t do anything.

    4. Kimberly R*

      As someone who has worked in hospitals before, go through the formal complaint process. Send an email to the manager of the ER, fill out the patient satisfaction survey honestly, etc. There’s a huge emphasis on patient satisfaction these days because it ties in directly to reimbursement. They will want to know immediately and will take steps to address it with the staff. If you feel like you are getting the run around or that they aren’t taking it seriously, I do think you can go to your boss (don’t know if thats the CEO or not) and let them know about the whole thing.

      I don’t think anything will blow back on you, although anything is possible. I worked in the ER and we’ve had staff bring in family members for psychiatric reasons. No one ever thought less of the staff member (or the family member.)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Patient satisfaction is tied to reimbursement? Can you expand on that? Does reimbursement mean insurance? government funding? something else?
        Is this based on averaging out the answers on a survey or do they consider each person individually?

        1. This Daydreamer*

          If one hospital has consistently bad outcomes the insurance companies can send their customers elsewhere.

    5. Observer*

      If your hospital really looks at psychiatric patients that way, then the place is never going to be able to provide proper care. And, unless someone is messing with the records, the key items are going to be documented – ie your husband came in at 11:00 pm, there was no one on call to see him till the next morning (If he wasn’t available, then he wasn’t on call no matter what the label said), then he was seen by the doctor who neither admitted him nor discharged him, and you finally left several hours later AMA because you couldn’t get any resolution.

      Beyond that, YOU are not a psychiatric patient – you are the patient advocate that witnessed all of the problems. How does that impugn your credibility.

      As for getting into trouble – if that’s a legitimate concern, you need to start looking for a new job and report your org. That would be problematic on SOOOOO many fronts. But, is it really a problem or is this an expression of your issues around your husbands problem or something else entirely?

      1. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

        I think I might just be caught up in my head in terms of thinking it will blow back on me. At my previous job, my boss knew about my husband’s mental health issues and alcoholism, but I’m not yet at a point where I’m prepared to share that where I am now, not because I’m ashamed or anything, but it’s just really personal. I’m struggling a lot with the be discreet/oversharing boundary, so the fact that this incident was in my workplace is just messing with my head.

        My new boss has actually been pretty great so far. We had a joint appointment with his psychologist yesterday and I didn’t tell her it was with the psychologist, just that he had a doctor appointment and I needed to be there and she checked in with me this morning to make sure everything was okay, so that was nice.

    6. Chriama*

      I would say file a formal complaint and also tell your CEO. This would be a problem no matter who had experienced it. What if the next person is someone more vulnerable and real harm is done? The fact that you have an ear to the CEO means you have *more* responsibility, rather than less, to raise issues. Raise it via the official way so it can be addressed officially, and so it sticks for future non-employee patients. But also let him know you raised it, and why, so that he can look into it and also ensure that the formal complaint process is working as it should.

      1. Zathras*

        This – you don’t want the complaint to get escalated to him with your name on it and have that be the first time he’s heard about it. So file the complaint in the official way and just say “FYI this happened, I’m definitely not asking you to bypass the official process in any way, I just wanted to make you aware of it so it isn’t a surprise if it does eventually land on your desk.”

    7. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

      Thanks for the comments everyone! It seems silly now to even question my own judgment because I am probably the most reserved person when it comes to self-advocacy. I tend to give people far more chances to make things right than they probably deserve.

      SO… the survey has not even come in yet. I think what I’ll do, based on the feedback that I’ve gotten, is wait a few more days to see if it comes, and if it hasn’t come by May 22, perhaps, which is 2 weeks since the visit, I’ll go ahead and request to meet with the CEO or even just send him a letter via snail mail from my husband.

      Thanks everyone!

      PS – Hubby was fine once he recovered from the panic attack. :-)

      1. JulieBulie*

        Glad hubby is fine!
        My instinct says that if you have a good relationship with the CEO, talk to him now and tell him what you’re going to put on the survey and why.

      2. Tatiana (RN)*

        Psych patients are excluded from HCAHPS surveys, so you probably won’t get one. I would suggest you go through the regular complaints procedure, and do it right away.

    8. ..Kat..*

      Ask to speak to the Patient Advocate for the hospital. Please give specific examples. Best of luck!

  8. LiteralGirl*

    I have a resume question.

    I stayed at home with my kids for ten years, and have been back working for 6 ½ years for the same large organization I had left. When I left I was in an analyst type position and when I returned I ended up taking an administrative assistant position to get my foot back in to the organization. I’ve since moved up and at my current boss’s request am applying to a senior analyst position on the same team. My question is this: at what point should I remove the job I left 16 years ago from my resume? I only have 6+ years back in the work force and I’m concerned that it looks strange to only have that experience on there; on the other hand, it looks wonky to have such old work experience included.

    Anyone have any advice regarding this? Thanks!

    1. Aunt Margie at Work*

      If you include the job from 16 years ago, there will be a gap.
      If you don’t include, your work history begins less than 7 years ago.
      In both cases you will be asked why you chose to get at job at that point.
      When you begin to explain that you had worked but left for your family, you will say that you were at the same company and were happy to be able to step back in. I think this makes it worthwhile to include it because it makes a good story.

    2. Pwyll*

      As an internal hire, I would absolutely include it. The bulk of your content should be focused on your most recent work experience, and the bullets under your older position should really be focused on relevant skills and top-line key successes, accomplishments, lessons learned, etc.

      As an external hire, this would depend on the job you’re applying for. Resumes don’t need to be a comprehensive listing of all of your positions, but you would definitely want to highlight the relevant skills you learned as an analyst in your previous position. The point is to make sure the focus is on the skills you learned there and still have, and not on the tasks you performed so long ago.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think it looks strange to have the gap in there. I would leave in the first stint there and just explain in your cover letter what your situation was. It is not uncommon for people to stay home with their kids and then try (and, in your case, succeed) to get back into the workforce.

    4. Emily*

      A very large portion of people have gaps in their resumes of one kind or another. As long as you can explain it – and do this in a very confident way – you should be fine.

      Just remember all Alison’s tips about interviewing. Also, remember how important eye contact and good posture are. Body language speaks volumes.

      For more info on body language, check out Amy Cuddy’s TED talk from several years back. Great information and it’s only 20 minutes.

  9. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    Does anyone have good advice for changing how you sound over the phone? Listening to recordings of myself, my default “customer service voice” comes across very young-sounding, and when I’m talking to older, wealthy clients about their investments, that’s a decided disadvantage for me. Trying to pitch my voice lower leaves me with a sore throat well before the end of the day. Are there any other ways you’ve had success with to sound more mature without taking on a lot of extra vocal strain?

    1. Parenthetically*

      I think vowel placement is just as important as pitch. A higher-pitched voice that’s nasally or in the back of the throat sounds really babyish, but a voice at the same pitch where the vowels are mid-mouth or toward the front of the mouth sounds less young. I’m sitting here practicing at my desk and I can consciously “move” the sound around my head — I do have a few years of vocal training under my belt, though.

      If that makes sense to you, or you can look up videos and mimic some stuff, I think that can make a difference. It might be worth a short consult with a voice teacher who can help with vowel placement.

      Oh, vocal fry too! If you’re dropping your pitch and adding a bunch of fry, your voice is going to be SOOOORE in an hour. A voice teacher can teach you how to sit in your “chest voice” without straining your throat.

      1. epilo*

        Another suggestion might be to check if your health insurance would cover meeting with a voice therapist. I found out mine did and decided to do some preventative work (I’m a singer, and was afraid of the possibility that I had been doing low-key damage to my vocal cords over the years). The therapist I worked with gave me a ton of tips to ease wear on my vocal cords and help increase my vocal endurance, and taught me exercises to practice at home to help as well.

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        I took voice lessons so I know I’m not using vocal fry, but I’m a natural soprano so going low is still tiring. My vowels are also pretty far forward, but I think it’s contributing to me sounding a bit squeaky with the phone’s interference.

        1. Hellanon*

          I also (consciously) drop into a more formal register when it’s a professional conversation – careful enunciation, punctuation, using constructions that are more “written English” than spoken English. I’m also conscious of over-hedging my speech – I’m polite, but try try to be fairly straightforward rather than using the “I wonder if I could ask you to do me a favor if it’s not too much trouble” thing that some folks do and that minimizes the impact of one’s words/puts one into a subordinate position. (My voice on the phone tends toward the smoky, late-night female DJ/phone sex professional, so I also have to be careful!)

      3. College Career Counselor*

        Or a speech-language pathologist who specializes in articulation/pitch, etc.!

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      I get asked all the time to “speak with your parents”. I know I sound young. Try talking slower. That might help.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think your voice has to sound lower to sound serious or older. Physically there will be limitations to how low your voice can go. But you could try other tricks like speaking more slowly, changing your diction, making sure not to engage in too much uptalk.

      1. TL -*

        Yeah for my professional voice, I only drop a quarter of an octave or so, but I level out my voice a *lot* – not monotone, but everything is in a very close range. I also keep the volume low but even, speak slowly and measured, and pause thoughtfully to give me time to compose my thoughts.
        “Oh, yeah, that’s a super important factor!” would turn to “hmm….. yes, that’s a really important consideration.”

    4. Pwyll*

      I also sound very young on the phone. One thing that helped me that I learned a billion years ago from call center work: try to match the tempo and tenor of the person you’re talking to, without changing the pitch of your voice. Slower talkers tend to feel more comfortable with people who also speak slowly, and vice-versa with fast talkers. The comfort level tends to make people more receptive to what they’re hearing for some reason, and can make you sound more knowledgeable because you’re more relatable.

      Old political boss used to do fundraising calls where she would radically change her demeanor based on the caller. It always surprised me how a complete shift in the speed of the conversation made people relax, and donate.

      1. Merci Dee*

        Heh heh heh . . . funny you should mention the difference between people who speak quickly and those who speak slowly.

        I live in the deep south, and as you might expect, we’re of the slow-talking variety around here. So I was thrown for a bit when the large, centralized customer support centers first started to rear their heads. It always seemed that I was connected in with a call center somewhere up north, or in the mid-west, where the CSRs appeared to be in a constant speed-talking contest with each other. Conversations with the reps typically sounded like this to me:

        “And how . . . eraldjf ei woierh ambi aiwe . . . account . . . alidh aih hiw akjaihg . . . additional charges . . . ahiweh alkdlkajd . . . anything else I can help you with today?”

        Blink . . . blink, blink. Pardon?

        I finally got on a service call with one guy who was super sweet, but I couldn’t understand the first word coming out of his mouth because it was just so fast. I apologized profusely for breaking into his spiel, but I told him that I just couldn’t keep up with him. He laughed when I told him that I’m from a place where we listen a lot slower than he was talking. He was great — made a point of slowing down for me, took care of everything I needed, and followed up with me in a few days to make sure all my issues had been resolved.

        So, yeah. I’ve definitely experienced this in the past. But people have always been receptive to making an effort to slow down a bit when I’ve asked for it (politely, of course, because my mama would ring my southern bell if I were ever rude to anyone. :) )

        1. Sylvia*

          I’ve been there, too. :) I had a series of calls with someone in NYC. She slowed down while I sped up and enjoyed the lack of small talk.

    5. Jessesgirl72*

      I’m a natural soprano too, but my speaking voice is medium.

      To me, the difference in my Professional Phone Voice is more about depth and tone, than pitch. Like if you were singing- round vowels, breath support and sound from your diaphragm- not through your nose (since you think you “squeak”) and yes, slow down.

    6. Be the Change*

      Nothing useful to add, but my phone voice accent is really different from my in person voice. In person my accent is NPR Reporter. On the phone, it’s Blue Ridge Honey! Apparently people loooove this.

      1. PattS*

        NPR Reporter accent! Love it! I’ve been asked if I’ve done any “professional” phone work….guess I have the smoky, late-night female DJ/phone sex professional accent.

    7. Clinical Social Worker*

      Teddy Roosevelt had a high pitched voice. He’s a “man’s man” kind of badass dude. I think focusing on diction will help but I also think that a tone and attitude will matter the most.

    8. Ashie*

      I’d worry more about making sure your language and tone are polished and professional. I think what you say and how you say it is more important than the actual sound your voice makes.

    9. FD*

      I have a lot of experience with this!

      First of all, there’s a technique to speaking with a lower voice without vocal strain. It’s sort of hard to explain how to do it, but you want to speak from the diaphragm, rather than up in the top of your chest. Try forcing yourself to sit up straight, and think “Calm.” Those tend to help you speak in a lower pitch without strain, and also helps you slow down a bit.

      Second, try to avoid ending on a rising inflection. Women are especially prone to this (it’s a socialized behavior, I think), and it makes you sound uncertain. If you don’t know what I mean by rising infliction, say these out loud:

      The table is set.
      The table is set?

      You should hear how your pitch rises at the end of the second one. It’s commonly used to indicate a question, but when you use it at the end of statements, it makes you sound both younger and more uncertain.

      Third, make a conscious effort to slow down. Leave a brief pause between sentences, sort of like a beat or two. It lets what you’ve said sink in, and makes you sound more certain. For an easy example of this, watch how Obama delivers a speech. (Most high ranking politicians do this, but he’s a good example of it.)

      It will take practice and feel unnatural at first, but in time, it’ll really make you sound more confident and mature on the phone.

    10. Zathras*

      It’s funny, I’m definitely not a natural soprano, more of a very low mezzo (though I’m not a singer except in the shower, so who knows what untrained heights and depths there are). I realized a while back that my customer service/professional voice is MUCH higher pitched than my normal speaking voice, which is kind of a problem in a male-dominated industry.

      It doesn’t help that I have hearing issues that dramatically increase the gap between how my voice sounds to me and how it sounds to everyone else.

      A side question – do singing/voice lessons help with that sort of thing? I’ve kind of secretly always wanted to learn how to sing properly.

      1. theletter*

        “A side question – do singing/voice lessons help with that sort of thing? I’ve kind of secretly always wanted to learn how to sing properly.”

        Absolutely – call your local university or music school for quality private lessons or even group lessons. I believe that everyone can sing, they just need to find the right teacher to free their voice. Plus, your heart will thank you when you’re 80 for the breathing exercises.

        1. Zathras*

          Thanks! I agree with you that everyone (or at least, most people) could learn to sing – I’m guessing like any instrument 90% is just being willing to try, and if it sounds awful try something different, until you hit on something that works.

          I live in a place where you can throw a rock in any direction and hit a university, so I’ll have to check out my options. The professionally useful side effect would be getting more control over my speaking voice. Practicing speaking on its own has zero appeal to me but practicing singing sounds fun.

      2. JanetM*

        In fact, if you don’t mind working with someone who might be quite a bit younger than you, often students will be available to give lessons. I learned this when a friend took a music pedagogy class and asked if I wanted to be one of her practicum students.

    11. theletter*

      I would listen to broadcast reporters from serious news organizations (such as NPR or PBS). I’ve noticed that even the young ones usually add a bit of a continuing song to their sentences to make them sound informed, and it helps them create a story out of a set of facts. Compare that to early Mark Zuckerberg interviews where he hits the same note at the end of almost every sentence (it’s called a verbal uptick, and often vocal fry is often a symptom of the effort to avoid it.)

      Voice lessons, yoga with a lot of breathing exercises, or a good workout can also help you gain more resonance in your voice. Remember that for most people, the longer the day and the more stress involved, the higher their voice gets.

      You might also try developing a voice that is a separate character from you ‘customer service’ voice (your ‘sound financial investment advisor voice?) For many people, when they are attempting to offer service or help over the phone, their voice gets higher and softer by default. Remember that you’re not walking them through setting up their wireless router, you’re reporting back to them on research you are doing because they paid you to do it. You get to be the knowledgeable one who steers them away from the next big ponzi scheme.

    12. Merci Dee*

      My voice also comes across as sounding younger on the phone, and it used to bother me, too. Easiest thing that I found to counteract that was to know my subject matter.

      I think that hesitancy was the thing that caused the most problems with my higher tones — that the combination of a higher voice and nervousness about making the call in the first place made me sound less knowledgeable and authoritative. So I started reviewing notes, documents, cases, etc., before I would make my phone calls. And, yes, I even drew up a small list of topics that I needed to cover in the conversation. So when I’d get on the phone with a vendor or whoever, I’d be prepared for what I needed to say. The nervousness would go away, and I could focus on the message that I needed to deliver. At that point, the pitch of my voice really didn’t matter. The vendors that I talked with were confident that I knew what I was talking about, and they were more inclined to deal with me in a more straight-forward manner.

      Once you move past worrying about your pitch, then (as Tess says in “Working Girl”) “you hit ’em with your smarts.”

    13. Anxa*

      You probably already know this trick if you’ve done voice training, but for anyone following: I have some success with dropping my shoulders down. Also, I make sure to warm my voice up with a few phrases.

    14. This Daydreamer*

      Have you gotten bad feedback from your clients or boss? I hear recordings of my voice and I sound like a robot impersonating a six-year-old, but I have been told many times that I have a fantastic phone presence. I think just about everyone hates the way they sound in a recording.

  10. Forrest*

    I was contacted by a recruiter for a position that I’m interested in exploring more. I am happy where I am but we lost a large grant so every day is pressure to raise money. At times, I feel like I’m not ready for this pressure or that it’s worth it. Again, I love what I do, I love my org’s mission, it’s an opportunity for growth but sometimes it doesn’t feel right to me. So I’m interested in the position form that stand point. It’s also for an org that focuses on a cause that is very personal to me. I don’t believe the position would be a step down because I’ll be reporting to the National Director. So I’ll be running my area and supervising people but still have someone who really knows what they’re doing guiding me. I’m not actively looking because it’s not at that point yet but I think this position is worth a conversation.

    However, can I ask about the salary range before proceeding further? I think there was a post on here that said I can since they reached out to me but I couldn’t find it.

    FYI I’ve been at my current position for 8 months but it’s my only short term stay in my almost 10 year career. I’m currently the director of my department but it’s a very small nonprofit and this new one is huge and has experienced major growth in the last year or so. I don’t think this position would be a step down though the title would imply it is. (Assistant Director opposed to my current title of Director.) The grant was lost before I came on board.

    1. Chriama*

      Anytime someone contacts you, you have the standing to ask for salary. They initiated the contact, why should you invest any time in it just to find that you’re wildly apart? Be polite but say something like “I wasn’t currently looking but the position you mentioned does interest me. Before we invest too much time in this process, can you let me know the salary for this position so I can see if we’re in the same ballpark?”

      1. Chriama*

        Ooh, thought of this as I was hitting reply – you might get some pushback from the recruiter. Just be firm “I don’t expect to commit you to a single number here and now. But I am happily employed, and I can’t spare the time to go through this process just to find out the salary is untenable.”

    2. Exec Recruiter*

      You can and should ask the salary range. If possible, do some research first on Glassdoor or through the org’s 990s to give yourself a ballpark sense of what the range might be before that conversation. It’s possible that the recruiter will try to get you to say a number first. DO NOT share what you currently make (in some places it’s now illegal to ask this!). If pressed, you can say that to make this move you’d be looking for something around $X, but of course you’d have to see the full package with benefits and so on before really making up your mind about any offer.

      1. 90% Snark by Weight*

        +100 on not saying a number first. I typically say something like:

        “My current compensation is based on my current responsibilities. Given that a new position would have different responsibilities I feel like we’d be comparing Apples to Oranges if we used my current salary as a data point.”

        Or “I don’t want to waste your time if we’re not in the same salary ballpark, so what range are we talking about.”

  11. Rapunzel*

    Has anyone had lecturers/professors who were just…clearly not interested in their students or teaching in general?

    I’m in a postgrad program at the moment at a fairly prestigious institution (not Ivy, but pretty well-known because for some reason it’s popular with TV writers), and there’s a really strong vibe of that with some of my current professors. They’re very well-respected in their fields, but give off this vibe like we as students should just be grateful to be taught by someone of their brilliance (regardless of the fact that people who make excellent researchers aren’t necessarily the best teachers).

    A lot of the time it’s like teaching is just an afterthought (the lecture notes/slides are atrocious, full of spelling errors, one of which even had the name of the subject wrong!) to their academic pursuits. The impatience they display when people ask for clarification – sure, this is probably basic knowledge to you by now, and you’ve forgotten how confusing it was the first time you had to learn it (or maybe you were so brilliant even then you didn’t feel it was difficult at all), but when a majority of the class are confused, that’s indication you’re not doing a good job!

    To a certain extent, I get it. I enjoy research but one reason I’m hesitant to get into that field is that I’m not keen on teaching. So yeah, it’s probably the least favourite part of their job. But still, it /is/ a part of their job! One that affects a lot of people and probably causes a lot of stress!

    Anyway, just needed to rant a little bit. I doubt they’re going to change the way they do things given how ingrained it seems to be.

    1. gwal*

      yup. academia’s incentives, especially for those who work w/ grad students, are completely ridiculous. teaching becomes a distant last priority…you are not alone!

    2. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Yes, seen that more than a few times. Especially with long-serving profs teaching intro level classes. A given prof may be a brilliant researcher but that does not automatically translate into being a competent or even willing teacher. Sadly there are egos as large and flammable as the Hindenburg in academia and there are definitely profs who see students as far beneath them. Goes with the territory.

      On the flip side I’ve had profs who were amazing teachers and I could sit there and listen to them recite the alphabet and still learn something new!

      Disclosure – I worked in post secondary institutions for 20+ years in IT. Taught part time myself and took literally dozens of courses.

    3. Rebecca*

      Academia is the worst! Sorry you’re being neglected. I decided not to pursue a PhD in large part because I was super neglected in my master’s program.

    4. Uncivil Engineer*

      I, unfortunately, have had this experience with professors who were probably brilliant but could not get their point across to the class. One had handouts he’d clearly been using for decades (they were handwritten in cursive, copied slightly askew so some words were cut off, and had the lavender color of an old copy machine) and another would mumble and face the white board for most of the class. I did not learn much from them.

    5. Aunt Margie at Work*

      It’s not unique to academia. You will find that in all professions. It’s hard when the person is in a supervisory/leadership role. My best suggestion is to use this experience as an object lesson. Imagine if you were in a workplace (even as a professor or instructor yourself) and your boss had professional ennui. How would you work with it? How would you work around it. Where would it hurt your career? How could it help you?

    6. Tuxedo Cat*

      It’s common enough. Most faculty are not trained to teach. If they are tenured, they can’t really lose their jobs either.

      Part of the issue is that tenure-track jobs are seen as the ultimate prize, so many people go after them without thinking about alternative jobs that still involve research.

    7. Alice*

      There are lots of faculty like that. You can’t get them out or get them to improve. What you can do is look for the invested teachers — ask other students, maybe ask the institution’s teaching and learning center if any of the faculty in your department work with them — and try to develop 1:1 mentoring relationships with the bad teachers, instead of teacher-student relationships that they obviously don’t value. Good luck….

    8. Red Reader*

      oh, god yes. I had two ostensibly graduate-level health finance and economics classes, both taught by the same instructor, where the grade for the course was based on 10 25-question multiple choice quizzes, each with five opportunities to retake, but each retake was the same questions in the same order, and while the correct answers were not provided after each take, the wrong ones were indicated – and each question only had four answer choices. So someone who really wanted to could, without even opening the textbook, complete the entire class with 100% scores.

      AND he opened all ten quizzes on day 1. I had A’s in both courses (I limited myself to only one retake per quiz without looking at the identified outcome answers :P But I read the chapters and I’ve worked in healthcare finance for over ten years ) by the end of the first day of the respective semesters.

    9. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      The issue with a lot of academics is that teaching is a) required, but not particularly helpful to actually retaining their job or building their careers, b) something they’re expected to do with absolutely zero training on pedagogy or even best practices, and c) difficult for them because academia attracts a lot of people who are very comfortable with research and scholarship but are very bad at normal workplace interactions, politics, and dealing productively with other people.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        This is all SO true -especially, the lack of any sort of pedagogical education for faculty.

        I’d also add that, you are at a large institution. They are called research colleges for a reason. They empathize faculty research over teaching. Teaching colleges tend to use teaching reviews as part of the tenure process, though still want research.

    10. Trout 'Waver*

      These days, professors’ primary job is writing grants to get get money to fund their research. Everything else is an afterthought.

    11. Emily*

      Yes. When I was an undergrad I saw this a lot, particularly with TAs and younger teachers. It was so frustrating, because I really was engaged and wanted to get as much as I could from each class. (College is so expensive, for crying out loud.)

    12. Anon for current purposes*

      Or when they leave HW grading to grad TAs with “use your judgment” interpretations and no strict rubric, and the TA grades you differently on HW than the prof does on tests…

      Nope, you’re not alone, which is why I’m grateful I went to a “teaching university” for grad school. Even though there weren’t any research jobs to supplement income… :(

      Oh well. Tradeoffs.

      But yeah, it really sucks when you run into a professor like that. Some of my friends had a math prof who wrote a few things n the board and didn’t say anything for long stretches of time, because it wasn’t his area of research, he wasn’t interested, and this was something he had to do that wasn’t research and took away from research.

      And you’re right. They probably won’t change. Coming from an academic family, I think part of the reason is that efforts to reform academia are seen as (and by and large, are) efforts by deep pockets to turn universities into a Dilbertian hellhole. Which isn’t to say that universities shouldn’t prepare students for real-world career paths – they oughta, and if they aren’t then they’re really zarked in the head. But there’s a better way to do it than bringing in a bunch of guys in suits to spew the latest buzzwords and make you follow insane business plans dreamt up by a Windows XP-executed simulation of Catbert.

      Sorry that this turned into a long rant; my family history compels me to write about academia in an academic manner.

      1. Anon for current purposes*

        Which is not to say that there are no good professors. I’ve had some, and the really good ones are *really good.* The problem, as someone pointed out above, is that teaching is not their primary job.

        I’m sure OP is aware of the following, but I wanted to mention this for those outside academia:

        I had to watch my Dad spend about 2-3 months straight working on funding applications, because otherwise there wouldn’t be enough money to pay his grad students a living wage. And this was on top of running daily experiments, fixing equipment when shit happened, and teaching. And the acceptance rate for funding requests is really low. In fact, the month before he died, he found out that he got *zero* funding for the following year. That’s even with leveraging connections in his network.

        IIRC Germany has universities for teaching (and some research) and institutes (purely for research). I think a system like this would be really good system, at least for STEM. I don’t know how to fix things outside STEM, and that depends on just what we want the humanities to do, among other things.

        1. SQL Coder Cat*

          I just want to say that your Dad sounds like an awesome professor (living wage for grad students). When I went to graduate school (way back in 1995 for comparison purposes) I got a monthly stipend of $425. $390 of that went to renting a one bedroom apartment (with electric included, thankfully).

          It’s been a while, but ramen still tastes like poverty to me.

          1. Anon for current purposes*

            Thanks. He was a real mensch. He couldn’t pay the highest wages (and a few of his students worked as tutors on the side at one point to make ends meet), and he was restricted by university policy, but he did what he could.

            BTW cool username!

      2. Honeybee*

        Mmpf, I don’t know. I think a lot of academics have a very wary stance towards corporate business practices, but not every highly successful business person is a stuffed suit spewing meaningless buzzwords. Sometimes business plans work, and sometimes planning for impact or a slightly faster speed are good things. I think some of the resistance honestly comes from ignorance – most academics have never really worked outside of academia – and from an unwillingness to change a system that, by definition, has mostly worked for them.

    13. Curious Anon*

      Not really, but I went to a college rather than a university. I would recommend it for undergrad for most people. The focus tends to be on teaching over research, so you have much more approachable and engaged faculty.

    14. Ash (the other one)*

      This is exactly why I am not a professor and instead just do research. I know I would be a horrible teacher….

    15. Jessesgirl72*

      Teaching is a real gift/skill. Some people can be the most brilliant and talented in their field, and still be a lousy teacher.

      Plus all the focus/prestige comes from research and publications- the teaching has come a distant last in priorities for decades.

    16. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Uf, I had that for undergrad. One of my professors “taught” by spending ~20min showing us picture-heavy powerpoint slides and just reading the captions on them, then sending us off. The classes were supposed to be 75min long. This was a religion class! Then she expected us to write long essays for our midterms and finals, based on the crappy powerpoints and a 100+ item vocab list that was the “study guide.”

    17. strawberries and raspberries*

      I feel your pain. I have to write a final paper that I’ve been putting off tonight, due tomorrow, for a professor who refused to give us an outline because “in year two of social work school you should already know how to write a paper” and, when we asked for clarification about how she would be evaluating the papers, blamed “[her] own transference” but still didn’t give us any hints.

    18. Pescadero*

      “A lot of the time it’s like teaching is just an afterthought”

      At a research university – it is.

      Faculty get ahead by publishing and bringing in grants, not by being good teachers. Being a good teacher is often antithetical to those things.

      Generally, being a really good teacher is a way to stagnate your career and limit advancement at research universities.

    19. Anxa*

      To be fair to your instructors, teaching IS probably an afterthought. Whether it’s because there aren’t enough research positions outside of academia for those that don’t care about teaching or because teaching doesn’t pay their bills, so to speak (sure, the school gets money from tuition, but professor’s can’t teach their way into job security).

      Every hour spent prepping a lecture is an hour not spent on grant writing, publishing, and keeping a lab running. And it’s not just their job on the line: if the lab goes under, a whole lot of people lose their jobs and stipends. Some tenured faculty members are kind of jerky and have earned the stereotypes, but a lot of them (and the TT and non TT faculty) are just pulled in all sorts of directions and are working 70+ hours a week.

      Community colleges have instructors that focus more on teaching, but very few of them of them have institutional support they need to thrive (80% at my school are adjuncts, and I highly doubt that all of them wish to be).

      The lack of respect higher ed has for teaching, whether it’s community colleges fighting unions for adjuncts while paying administrative staff benefits with full-time wages or research universities using grad programs as cash cows for research is pretty messed up. It’s so bad that my SO, an aspiring researcher (who looves research and teaching and isn’t quite a superstar but pretty great at both) is worried that picking up a side gig teaching may dilute his application for academic positions after his postdoc. Even if his research doesn’t take a hit, it may make him look less serious as a scientist.

      The best thing I could suggest is that when you DO get an instructor that is putting in a lot of effort or has a natural talent, let them know! Ask if student evaluations are helpful. You’re not an undergraduate, but maybe you could do your part to subtly change the culture of academia. They are marketing to students and their perception is that students don’t care as much about whether their faculty makes a living wage/have offices/can focus on their students than about living amenities on campus. Flashy research projects and big-name journal publications and celebrity researchers may garner more graduate student interest than mentorship and institutional support (which, to be fair to grad students, can be hard to judge until you’re there). Websites are being redesigned as recruitment tools first, navigable information centers second.

    20. Bess*

      It’s the academic machine (particularly the university one) that creates these situations. The prof may be particularly bad, but as others have mentioned, academics are expected to put in 70+ hour work weeks researching, writing, PUBLISHING everything they can, going to conferences, possibly applying for their own funding, advising & mentoring students, taking a turn chairing the department, reviewing graduate applications, participating in search committees, …and then oh yeah, teach this large lecture class of 120 btw.

      And at prestigious places or in particular disciplines some tenured profs are making bank, but the majority are underpaid for the amount of specialized & demanding work they’re expected to do, particularly as fewer and fewer tenured positions are available and the bulk of teachers are hired as lecturers, instructors and adjuncts. My aunt has worked for over a decade as an associate professor, teaching 4-5 classes per semester, and lives in a low cost area and can barely afford to heat her house in the winter–and she’s a very frugal woman.

      And it’s typical for there to be no coherent pedagogical perspective and limited training in teaching for grad assistants, instructors, adjuncts, or tenured professors. So you get a subject matter expert who is very brilliant and skilled at research and analytical writing and one discipline or craft, but often very little formal training in teaching, AND who may have 45 minutes to throw slides together for lecture in the morning because they had to edit that peer-reviewed essay by 11pm that night and then answer 8 emails from students who missed class asking when that project is due again and the department meeting is the next morning…oh and their kid just threw up.

      None of which is to exactly excuse laziness on the part of a prof, or to justify a lack of skill or commitment. When I was teaching at the college level I really tried to prioritize my students and I invested a ton of time into each class…but I also had little training and little advice, and tended to teach to my own type a lot…and I was going a little nuts trying to keep up with the monstrous workload. Also…teaching kids who are fresh out of high school can be pretty rough in terms of classroom dynamics. One problem student can make a whole semester really suck.

    21. Honeybee*

      Absolutely. I went to graduate school at an Ivy and the professors there were mostly like that. Many of them acted as if we students should be grateful that they were gracing us with their presence but also felt like their job was to simply show up and lecture the material at us and it was OUR jobs to try to understand it, no matter how poorly they delivered the information. I knew plenty of professors who refused to have office hours by anything other than “by appointment” or who only had one or two regular office hours a week. Teaching was definitely an afterthought, and there was definitely impatience with students they felt asked too many questions (or the “wrong” questions).

      To be somewhat fair, the professors at my institution were on “soft” money and they had to raise 80% of their own salaries through grants. They were also straight-up told by the administration that they would be rewarded for their research only, not their teaching skills or prowess. There was the idea that if you were a good teacher – god forbid an award-winning teacher – that you were spending too much time developing your teaching skills and should be spending more on research. I remember my PI warning me about that when I was taking on TA assignments; I like teaching and I’m good at it but my advisor told me that there was a ‘danger’ in spending too much time on teaching.

  12. MissMaple*

    Question for the others who are government contractors! I started my first government contract job at the beginning of January, having joined for a very specific project that was a great match to my skills. The project was cancelled at the end of April with closeout money through the end of June. Last week, I found out the company I actually work for also lost the contract to support the office I work in. We’re being given reassurances that the new contract company will likely pick up everyone, but I’m particularly nervous since the work I’m doing now, while key to the office I work in, is not an area I’m particularly skilled or experienced in. What has been everyone’s experience with being picked up by new contractors? Should I be polishing my resume?

    A bit more info if relevant, I’m good at what I do, but it’s fairly specific and can take a while to find a position that is a good match (took about a year to find this one). Since the project was eliminated, the work in my office will be related and pretty interesting, but different than what I like best and am experienced in. Basically, I can do the job that asked of me now, but I wouldn’t have taken this job as it is.

    1. GeorgiaB*

      I’ve been in government contracting for 7 years now. Badge flipping is really common, to the point that we actually use it as a selling point in our proposals (we’ll bring on the staff you’re already used to from the company we’re trying to unseat). However, since you’re not tied to a specific project at this point, I would recommend polishing your resume and seeing what else is out there. Also, my personal experience is that if you’re planning to be in government contracting long-term, there will be a lot of times where you may end up on a project that doesn’t align with your expertise or interests. It’s rare to be on the same project for more than a few years (and sometimes even significantly less than that) and if you don’t jump contractors everytime they change, you will end up on a lot of projects that you wouldn’t have normally chosen.

      1. MissMaple*

        Thank you so much! This is just the type of information I was looking for. I was have a hard time finding someone to ask my questions to who both had experience and was removed enough from the situation to be neutral.

    2. IT_Guy*

      As a former government contractor, I can tell you that a lot of contracts have specific verbiage of the amount of people who will be ‘flipped’ over to the new contract. This is a very standard practice and while I was contracting, I was with 2 different companies and they kept the same pay and benefits.

    3. caligirl*

      Current contractor here. Badge flipping is indeed very common but I personally wouldn’t rely on it. What about your current employer – are they letting you go due to lack of work or are they trying to place you in another position with another customer? Whether your company is or is not trying to place you in another position, be very proactive with reaching out to everyone you possibly can, make sure your resume is up the minute current and keep doing excellent work. Oh, and be prepared to interview at all times (keep an interview outfit in the car, that type of thing). I have been on both the management side of placing and laying off people and it really depends on so many factors there isn’t a ‘typical’ answer, I’m sorry to say! Prep as best you can and good luck!! Let us know what happens.

      1. MissMaple*

        Thanks for the tips! My current employer gave us a feel-good type speech when they found out they didn’t get the renewal. They said they do have other contracts and some openings, but were also pretty clear that they expected the new contractor to take a good number of folks. The manager in charge of my contract just keeps coming by and telling me not to panic and to keep my head down :) Unfortunately, since I haven’t been here very long I’m not sure who/how to reach out in a productive way, especially since a lot of us are in the same boat.

  13. Batshua*

    I had the WORST performance review of my LIFE. It basically boiled down to “You’re not fired or on progressive discipline, but you suck at your job and I want you to suck less but I don’t know how to help you suck less so please tell me how to help you suck less”. I got a written summary and I looked at the feedback. There was zero positive feedback and none of the feedback was SMART. Very little of it was specific or achievable, even. There was a union rep with me and he basically said that if I came in early for two weeks, probably everything would blow over.

    It’s good to know that I’m not alone on Planet Ridiculous. Having the rep tell me that there was nothing to worry about was really comforting, because dangit, I am GOOD at my job. I might not be a perfect employee, but I take my job seriously and I give a d*mn. I’ve been doing a LOT better with timeliness, but I honestly don’t know if it’s going to stick. I just have to keep trying, you know?

    1. Hlyssande*

      Wow, that’s terrible. I’m so sorry you had to sit through that. Even though you know it’s BS, that would be absolutely devastating to me. :(

      Glad the rep was able to give you a reality check about how ridiculous it was. Your boss sucks for giving you such vague, unhelpful feedback.

    2. Paperback Writer*

      I’m sorry, that’s a super frustrating situation. I’ve been on the wrong end of a vengeful boss and a horrible review. I was told I was unsatisfactory in every aspect. Though perhaps not surprisingly, no one actually ever said I was so terrible until the review. So for a year they just kept their mouths shut while I was such an awful employee. (Interesting management style). Anyway. Similar to your case, the feedback I received was so vague and non-measurable that it was almost impossible to figure out what I could do to improve. So, what I did was use the categories and tried to build off of those. I got a F in communication, so I offered to take a writing class on clear communications and a toastmaster’s class for speaking. I got an F in decision making, so I “started” sending emails with suggestions or recommendations for handling (I already did this, but I made the suggestions more apparent).

      I can’t say whether any of this would have helped. In the end, they stalled my offers to take classes and I ended up leaving about 3 months later for a better job. My takeaway is that sometimes things don’t fit no matter how hard you try and if this manager isn’t able to tell you how you can improve then they’re not a very good manager and I’m not sure it’s worthwhile to stay somewhere / with someone who can’t help you improve/grow.

    3. Emily*

      I’m sorry too. I do think you should take the rep’s advice, and trying coming in ~30 minutes early for a couple weeks.

      I come to my job early every day because it’s really nice having a quiet, calm office to start the day in.

      1. Batshua*

        Allegedly, if I’m there early, they will make me work, unpaid. Yes, I know this is illegal. Yes, I have told the union. So far no response.

        I might come in early and just NOT go to my workstation until it’s time to actually start my shift.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          If you come in early for two weeks it will blow over? Did I miss something? How does coming in early for two weeks fix everything? I’m genuinely curious. Did your review say you’re late quite often?

          1. BRR*

            I was wondering the same thing. In addition to Dawn’s thoughts, does your union rep think it will show you’re putting in effort with more time in the office?

    4. The Rat-Catcher*

      It sounds from your post like maybe you have a problem being on time for work? (No judgment here – I do too.) So, my theory (which makes a lot of assumptions, like that you’re not in a customer-facing coverage role or don’t have meetings that start at the beginning of your workday, so if I’m wrong, let me know) is that your supervisor and/or company are sticklers for being on time, but they can’t figure out WHY your being late is exactly a problem because you’re still performing well. Thus the non-specific feedback and the lack of disciplinary action.

    5. Taylor Swift*

      It’s great that you’re doing a lot better with timeliness, but does that mean you’re on time or just less late? It sucks that they’re sticklers about this one issue if you’re otherwise doing great work, but it sounds like there is an actionable step you can take here.

  14. Hlyssande*

    So glad it’s Friday. It’s been a week since I strained my SI joint (again) and I definitely came back to the office too early (Tuesday), but I was going absolutely stir-crazy at home. Part of coming back too early meant that I’ve gotten a ridiculous amount of questions about the cane I’m having to walk with for balance and pain relief. I was so embarrassed the first day and pretty much tried to hide (walked the back way to my desk, even), but despite the questions my colleagues have all been very sympathetic.

    I was honestly surprised at the positive reaction. As one of the younger people in the office, I expected some kind of grumbling about being too young to need a cane. Even the normally-uptight great grandboss was super nice about it when he noticed the cane leaning against my desk.

    So despite being in some pretty wicked pain I’ve had a fairly good week. Ready to be done with it, though.

    Happy Friday!

    1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      I also have trouble with my SI joint. Not enough to need a cane but I have to be really careful about how and where I sit. All I can say is good luck with it.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Yay for good week, boo for pain! I hope it’s better soon.

      Don’t be embarrassed about the cane–it’s meant to help you right now. I used the scooter at Walmart and also my granddad’s cane when I had a DVT. I got some funny looks with the scooter (I was early 30s and not obese, so I didn’t look like I needed it), but I didn’t care–I wasn’t supposed to be on my feet and it was none of their business. Your coworkers sound nice and understanding.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Man, people will give you the stink-eye if you are obese and using a scooter, though. I needed one of those for basically every shopping trip for ~3 years because of a foot injury, and the looks of disgust people would give me were horrible. Folks, it’s not my weight, I fell down the frickin’ stairs!

    3. KR*

      I get what you mean about questions. I have a bit of tendinitis in both wrists, so at ExJob (which was at a grocery store, so a lot of lifting, handling, and working with your hands) I would wear a brace on whichever wrist hurt more. The amount of questions I got was ridiculous – we work at a grocery store! Half of the people who are here more than 20 hours a week have tendinitis and have to wear a brace of some kind! Come on!

  15. Discordia Angel Jones*

    AAM readership please help me with a dilemma!

    As you may have gathered from my previous comments this week, I am looking for a new job.

    I have an interview (my first one!) on Thursday next week. I’ll need to leave work at 3 to get there on time.

    My current employers don’t *technically* know I am looking, but I have had a conversation with my boss about salary and how unsustainable it is for me to have the same salary. His response was “well we would pay you more but we literally can’t right now. I understand if you need to look around.”

    What do I say when I ask to leave early on Thursday? In the past when I’ve had Dr appointments etc I haven’t been able to say “I need to leave work early as I have an appointment” I have had to specify what appointment it is.

    I was planning to ask on Monday when the appointment has been confirmed, and I was thinking of just saying I have an appointment on Thursday and will need to leave work at 3pm to get there. If pressed, what should I say to them about what appointment I am going to?

    1. Leatherwings*

      I’d just say you have an eye doctor appointment if you have to specify, honestly. Or something else specific.

    2. Namast'ay In Bed*

      Could you say something along the lines of “it’s a personal matter and I’d rather not discuss”?

    3. Ayla K*

      Dentist is my go-to. It won’t be weird if it’s a one-time thing, but dental work can often require follow-up appointments, so it won’t be strange if you have to take more time off later for other interviews. (Start complaining about a weird feeling in your teeth today!)

    4. Aunt Margie at Work*

      I don’t think you should, simply because you have an appointment and they should respect that.

    5. Lemon Zinger*

      They should not press you for information. If they do, they suck.

      Just say you have to go to the eye doctor or something. It’s really none of their business.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      Dentist is a good go-to. But if you can pre-schedule, I often take vacation day.

    7. Discordia Angel Jones*

      Thanks for your responses!

      I should clarify that my bosses are not reasonable people, and like to throw objects when they get angry and/or scream and shout (see yesterday’s thread about overreactions!), so it’s safe to assume that they don’t do simple things like respect employees’ appointments or even respond to vacation requests without taking either three weeks to do so or coming and screaming at you about how dare you take vacation before begrudgingly allowing it.

      Dentist or doctor are possibilities, and at least so far they haven’t requested proof of them! Mind you, I do *actually* have to go to the doctor within the next few weeks, so maybe dentist is a better idea for this!

      1. costume teapot*

        Dentist. I’m sure my job thought I was interviewing when I had ten dental appointments last year, but literally they were actual dental appointments! (I had 10 cavities filled and 4 teeth pulled so….it was a rough year.)

    8. Construction Safety*

      Tell em you’re having an anal polyp removed & ask if they want to see a picture.
      OK, not really, just firmly/politely say that it’s personal.

    9. Ashley*

      I have to have some tests done. Allude to female issues if dealing with males as that usually makes them squirm and be quite. (And it makes me giggle watching some insert their foot in their mouth.)

    10. Natalie*

      Eye doctor or dentist work well, as others have said, or tests, follow up, meeting a contractor at your home, or driving your spouse home from a procedure where they get anesthesia. These are all actual things I’ve been out of work for the last month or two.

      Good luck GTFOing out of that place. It sounds terrible!

    11. kittymommy*

      This probably won’t help you but I had a job once that a (male) co worker kept asking me this and he wouldn’t let it go. I finally said loudly and in front of others that since he was so eager to know that I had to go get my annual pap smear, and was that okay with him. I doubt think he looked at new the next few days. He damn sure never asked again.

  16. DropTheDatabase*

    I had an awesome 3 month review at my new job, and my boss is really supportive of my desire to become a database administrator! He said he is going to work to get me moved into an actual DBA position. We also talked about doing courses and certifications. I decided to start with SQL Server since I am most familiar with that. So lovely commentors…what courses and/or certs do you recommend for a SQL Server DBA? I’m guessing just go to Microsoft’s website and pick out whatever they have there? Is there a better method? Thanks!

    1. Annie Moose*

      Do you have Pluralsight access? I’ve never done their database courses, but they have some great courses in other areas, so I imagine their SQL stuff would be good as well.

    2. Melody Pond*

      Oo – I’m interested to see what responses you get to this. I’m also really interested in database administration.

    3. RT*

      Gratz! My friend wants to do something similar and his boss suggested which has been amazing for my friend. The courses are short and easy to digest and my friend does them towards the end of his workday so it’s not inconvenient. Good luck!

    4. dba*

      Combo Oracle + SQL DBA here – I’ve been in the business for ten years. What I’ve found is certifications really mean nothing. It’s nice to have them on your resume, but experience is what we look for when hiring. If your company is going to pay for them – great! But I think your best bet is to get your hands dirty – install database software on your laptop, get experience installing, querying, backing up and restoring, looking at performance and doing basic tasks. There are a ton of places that offer various levels of training – if your company will pay for them, search the microsoft site for ones near you (there is a way to do this, I don’t recall off hand). When I was starting out with Oracle, I read the documentation (seriously). It’s incredibly valuable to know what processes do what, what memory structures do what, and how the database interacts with the OS.

      The best advice I can give is to know what you’re getting into and what has worked for me is a willingness to learn, flexibility, and where to find information on my own when I don’t have what I need. I have not balked from learning new technologies and it has greatly helped me be not only a better DBA but a valuable resource. Also be aware that being a DBA is stressful at times, and your job will follow you home. You will have nights working at 3AM for patching/upgrades/etc. Make sure you find a company that respects your time, has a solid on call rotation, flexible working arrangements (meaning you can work from home or the office), and provides comp time for the nights when you do work.

      Hope that helps!

      1. DropTheDatabase*

        Thank you! I think a combo DBA is where I’m ultimately headed, as we mainly take care of Oracle, SQL Server, and MySQL here. I expressed an interest in all + everything and we have need for that, so my boss is thrilled that I want to take on a lot of that work. And I’m thrilled that I will actually get that hands-on experience as well – I agree with you that it the hands-on experience will be the most valuable. I’ll take certs if they’re offered but my last job offered certs but no real experience, so it got me nowhere.

        I’ve been doing a lot of shadowing with our lead Oracle DBA so I think I know what I’m getting into. :)

        1. dba*

          It has served me very well over the years :) It looks better on your resume (I think anyways) and a lot of companies have multiple technologies nowadays anyway. I would also get used to using linux + command line and maybe dabbling in oracle OEM if you’ll be supporting oracle. Shell scripting is a plus too. If your company could spare you a playground linux vm server that would definitely help in getting your feet wet and I wouldn’t hesitate to request that. Most do so it really shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s nice to have a place you can run whatever you want with no consequences :)

          Oh and ALWAYS check what database you’re in BEFORE you run any sort of damaging code ;)

    5. Max*

      The MSFT site is the place to start. The 70-461 is probably the place you want to start and work towards the MCSA from there. For what its worth, in my part of the tech industry experience is worth much more than any certification. None of the SQL Devs I work with have any sort of certification.

      1. DropTheDatabase*

        Thank you! Yeah I’m not too concerned about certs other than if my dept wants to pay for them (which they will), then I’ll take it, but otherwise I want to get hands-on experience. And I am now in a job that will actually let me do that.

  17. Pregnant and Panicking*

    I’m newly pregnant and it’s ruining my working life.

    Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but sometimes it certainly feels like the truth. I’ve been suffering awful, round-the-clock morning sickness, and it’s starting to interfere with my work (I’m having trouble focusing in meetings, I had to take a sick day during an important event, I have less patience for interruptions than I used to, etc.). My role is the most client-facing in the whole organization, so I can’t even hibernate in my office.

    So far, I’ve been able to control my (inevitably bad) attitude, but it’s getting harder and harder. I’ve also only used one sick day so far, and I’m nine weeks along. A few key people in my office know–my manager (who’s also the Big Boss for the whole org) and the HR manager–and they have been unbelievably supportive and have told me they are glad to provide any accommodations that I need. However, I don’t want to share the news with anyone else for an admittedly vain reason–I’m about to receive the first ever promotion in the history of the organization. It’s been a long time coming, and I’d like to have FIFTEEN SECONDS in the spotlight for something I actually have accomplished (getting a major promotion) before people start focusing on something that took absolutely no work on my part whatsoever (getting pregnant).

    I guess what I’m really looking for is a way to realign my attitude. I just feel this whole situation is…unfair? I don’t like that something totally out of my control is affecting my work, and I hate that my colleagues may think I’ve suddenly become lazy/frazzled/incompetent for no reason. On the other hand, I don’t want to receive special treatment just because I’m the pregnant person…ugh.

    Who has a useful mantra/a good way to frame this to get me through this upsetting time?? (Also, if anyone’s got good tips for coping with morning sickness at the office, lay ’em on me!)

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I’m doing well with Preggie Pop Drops for the morning sickness, but you might want to ask your doc for recommendations.

      Your moods should settle down soon. And your colleagues might very well have an idea what’s going on, even if you hadn’t told them (I’m in my late 30s – I can’t suffer any ailment without people assuming I’m pregnant)

      1. the_scientist*

        Perhaps this is creepy from an internet stranger, but I’ve seen your comments mentioning wanting to start a family soon, so I’m thrilled (as thrilled as an internet stranger can be anyway) to hear this! Congratulations and best wishes for a healthy pregnancy and eventual tiny human :)

      2. Busytrap*

        Agreed on going to your doc — there are meds for morning sickness. They make you tired, but they were an lifesaver for me (multiple episodes of vomiting a day, just felt like I had the constant flu — totally get the awful beginning symptoms! Multiple times a day I was stopping mid-sentence because I couldn’t keep my train of thought. I felt like a space cadet.). Took them until I was 16 weeks, and then finally (!) the all-day sickness went away, and now I can manage with crackers and Preppie Pops like a normal person.

      3. ElaineCorbenic*

        I second the preggie pop drops! They are really, really, really helpful! Also keeping a small snack at your desk if you can. I always have a small bag of cheerios or goldfish to help combat the sickness. Unfortunately, I’m still super sick at 28 weeks… so it doesn’t always go away but your doctor/midwife can help with good solutions. Zofran is a lifesaver for me.

        I’ve started writing everything down and not leaving anything up to my usually excellent memory. That helped me with the frazzled feeling.

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      Congratulations on your promotion!
      If you’re finding yourself more irritable, that could be the hormones too.
      Just a couple more weeks to week 12, and things should get a lot better.
      Can you invent a minor vague illness that you can tell people about to give a reason for changes in your performance?

      1. OldMom*

        Seconding this. It always helps me to think of temporary health issues as finite. You can tough it out another three weeks… perhaps plan to take the twelfth week off to give yourself a break to look forward to. (You could also think of it as sleep deprivation which it may be…at that stage I was sleeping 12-14 hours a day.) If you really want to find a silver lining, think of it as emotional communication practice for parenting e.g. Counting to ten before you say things when you’re exhausted and irritable.

    3. Sled dog mama*

      Congratulation on your promotion!

      I found real ginger candy and motion sickness bands to be a huge help with the morning sickness. Also a dietitian I work with suggested a minor increase in sodium in the diet (we’re talking an extra pinch a day) on the theory that your body is expanding your blood volume and needs the sodium for the extra plasma which help tremendously.

        1. Honeybee*

          Real ginger ale – Hansen’s brand, specifically – is my go-to when I’m sick. So much sugar, but it’s kind of worth it.

    4. Aunt Margie at Work*

      Your self-awareness will be your savior. You know it’s the physical, the vomiting, the hormones that are affecting you, so you don’t have to let it beat you down.
      and you know what? “this whole situation seems…unfair.”
      It is. It is unfair. It’s not immature, petty, bitter, or wrong to feel that way. You can be mad and frustrated at the situation.
      As for the mantra, I googled a story my dad told me in junior high and found this on Wikipedia. Use it in good health – and in bad:
      “It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.”

      1. Pregnant and Panicking*

        I love this! And thank you also for the affirmation that it’s okay to find this totally unfair. I think something that’s compounding my frustration is that my husband also will get a super cute baby at the end of this process, but somehow HE GETS TO GO TO WORK FOR THE NEXT SEVEN MONTHS AND PERFORM AT HIS NORMAL EXCELLENT LEVEL and for some reason I am getting punished just because I happen to be the one with ovaries. Of course I know that, duh, obviously this is the traditional way of things, but I just don’t like it! *foot stomp foot stomp, mild temper tantrum* So I appreciate the permission to feel this way, honestly.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Oh, I am totally there with you. We get to deal with all of this, and the men just get to show up for the making and the aftermath of having a cute baby. All that AND the patriarchy. Nahhh

        2. Parenthetically*

          Have the tantrum! I find it so helpful just to give myself an hour or an afternoon to throw my hissy fit, so I can move on!

        3. Aunt Margie at Work*

          I wasn’t sure if you’d hit on that yet, so I didn’t want to bring it up, but yeah, he’s going to get the same “congratulations.” He’s a great guy. He did everything you needed. He supported you every step of the way…but he didn’t puke for weeks at time. And it’s just not fair. But there it is.

    5. Anonymoosetracks*

      Just got back from maternity leave, after having been where you are about a year ago. Talk very seriously with your OB/midwife about options for treating the morning sickness. Diclegis was a lifesaver for me. (A couple of thoughts, sorry if you know all this already: there’s no generic so it can be very expensive depending on your prescription drug coverage; you can make your own out of Unisom and Vitamin B6 pills but that didn’t work for me because it wasn’t slow-release; it doesn’t work for everyone and Zofran is a decent back-up option but has more side effects. Diclegis is Category A for pregnancy- the safest class of medication there is- better tested than many foodstuffs!) My first trimester involved a 2-week federal trial (I am an attorney) and successfully interviewing for a new and awesome job. It also involved a couple of weeks where I could eat nothing but nachos without gagging. For me, at least, the only way to feel better emotionally was to feel better physically, and it took medication to do that. I did not disclose my pregnancy to anyone at work due to the aforementioned job application, and despite the crushing morning sickness no one really guessed, except maybe the folks I was eating lunch with every day who might have started to think my nacho thing was weird, but if they did they were polite and never said anything.

      Congratulations! This whole pregnancy and parenting thing is an amazingly cool journey despite the crappy parts- I am still in awe most of the time.

      1. Pregnant and Panicking*

        I am ALL OVER that Unisom and B6 and it…might be helping? Believe me, I am super pro-anything that will help me drag my lifeless body into work.

        Your story is giving me major hope, though. If you can manage a federal trial (!!!) and job interviews, surely I can hang on to the status quo here for another few weeks!

        1. Anonymoosetracks*

          Oh, so, if you want to try the actual Diclegis rather than the homemade version, your OB may have samples they can give you- I got about a week’s supply free in sample packs from mine. Magic. Good luck!

        2. Episkey*

          Made same comment below, pretty much. I do have great medical insurance through my husband and my Rx co-pay for the Diclegis is $35. Totally worth it.

      2. Busytrap*

        Ah – thank you! This is what I took: Diclegis.

        [[sorry, I’m all over this thread. I clearly have opinions.]]

    6. Aunt Vixen*

      I got a pound bag of ginger drops from Amazon when my morning sickness hit and they did seem to help. Looking back at my past orders I appear to have paid about $15 for them, which in retrospect seems like kind of a lot. (But I have quite a lot left over, so if you’re interested and Alison can find a way to hook us up, I’d be happy to send you some.)

      Congratulations on your promotion! And good luck with the baby.

    7. Sames*

      It’s totally the hormones… I’m 5 weeks in and it’s like a roller coaster some days. I’m trying to work slower and more carefully and doing all I can to get good rest at night (still a crapshoot) and/or stealing naptime at lunch or in the early evening. It makes a huge difference in my mood the next day when I’m rested. I haven’t had much nausea yet (that’s more a 6w-11w thing for me) but low sodium V8 juice has been great in the mornings to gently balance my blood sugar and provide electrolytes and energy.

      As far as how to deal with coworker attention on your pregnancy, basically the vast majority of them will probably take their cues from you, once you announce it. If you want to chat about your baby all the time, then you’ll find coworkers who love to do so with you. If you’d rather not get into symptoms, details about the nursery, etc. then just politely halt those lines of conversation when eager coworkers go there. You may have to do that multiple times for some people, but all but the truly dense will eventually get it.

      Many congratulations to you on your upcoming promotion btw! And best of luck in the rest of your pregnancy.

    8. Shamy*

      I’m a dietitian as well as a mom. I second ginger candy/capsules. Real ginger ale is good to sip on as well, the kind made from fresh ginger. Peppermint can be soothing as well either in tea form or in aromatic oils. I’m not sure if it still exists, but when pregnant with my first son, I was a dance instructor and used something called a morning sickness stick which was basically a blend of essential oils that I would smell and it sometimes helped (this may work better for people not spinning and whhirling around).

      Depending on your condition, eating several smaller snacks a day, making sure to get enough protein. Adequate protein can improve sickness symptoms. Maybe keep peanut butter and saltines around as a snack. Last but not least, don’t shy away from asking for medication if you are really miserable. So many women suffer needlessly.

      I’m betting you are doing a better job than you think in terms of your interactions, but if anyone has noticed, they likely won’t say anything and will understand once you announce. Congrats on your promotion. Wishing you a healthy pregnancy and continued success at work.

    9. Anon today...and tomorrow*

      Congrats on the promotion!!!

      At a previous job a woman I worked with used to take her lunch in her car and get a nap in. She said it was important for her because she felt awful and it was the only way she felt human again. She did it for months before she announced her pregnancy and nobody even noticed.

    10. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      Oh wow. Flashbacks to 14 years ago. Eat often, seems counter intuitive, but I had to eat tiny amounts way more often and high protein seemed to be better than not. Your doc can you a prescription for anti-nausea meds, but I’d only go that route if it becomes unbearable. They made me so tired that it no longer mattered that I wasn’t throwing up but you may not react that way. Morning sickness never went away for me, it did let up in the second trimester, so just a few more weeks and you’ll (hopefully) get some relief.

      I remember being SO mad that I wasn’t my usual reliable self. Just so, so upset. I kept wanting to scream “I’m not really like this!” Also, later on, I had a tough time dealing with the extra time off that you naturally need when you have a kid. I love my kids and of course I want to be there to take care of them, but having no control over being able to go in to work when they are sick just drives me crazy. I only mention this now to let you know your not alone if you find yourself feeling the same way.

      I just remind myself that none of these stages last for long. It will seem like years sometimes when you are going through it, but everything really only lasts a few weeks or months. It’s a good reminder for all things having to do with parenting.

      1. Pregnant and Panicking*

        This is me all over. My reputation is for being hyper-reliable, and so every little detail I miss while I concentrate on not barfing on clients’ shoes seems to be thrown into major focus…although I’m really probably the only one who notices. But like you say, I want to carry a sign that says, “Please forgive any temporary lapses in capability, it is not me but rather this tiny, adorable parasite.”

    11. Ciscononymous*

      For the work side of things, writing things down helped for me. Things that I used to keep track of in my head with no trouble, I suddenly found escaping me. Writing helped me to pick up trains of thought that had derailed due to sickness/hormones/whatever. A lot of my “cheat sheets” for my job were developed during my pregnancy and are still helpful now, 10 months post-partum.
      The loss of patience hit me too. I got up and left one particularly bad meeting, but I don’t recommend that! Don’t feel like you have to respond to everything in the moment. Give yourself as much time as you need to calm down and re-frame the current situation in your mind.

    12. krysb*

      We had a woman react to pregnancy so bad she had to leave the company (voluntarily) until after she had her kid. Everyone who worked here are the time still shudders when they recall her pregnancy and are glad she decided to stop after that one child.

    13. Security SemiPro*

      It is unfair. Your feelings are valid and real.

      I ended up having to tell my manager waaaaay sooner than I wanted to because by 5 weeks in my “morning sickness” was a freaking demon and my doctor wanted me to work from home for 4 days a week. Even with only coming in 1 day a week I managed to throw up in what feels like every bathroom in the building and several of the exterior trash cans. I had weeks where my goal was to avoid getting hospitalized for dehydration. That said, I didn’t tell my colleagues for a long time after that – just I was dealing with a medical issue that was under a doctor’s care and I hoped would resolve soon.

      Get your promotion, celebrate it, if you need some accommodation, take it without specifying that its for pregnancy. Handle the effects of your current stress like you would any other outside of work thing that impacts your work – apologize to the people it hits worst, explain that you’re dealing with a medical thing and could they please handle this client meeting/not wear that perfume/understand if you step out for a moment. Do the prep work so that if you are unexpectedly away, someone can step in for you/reschedule for you easily. Do the prep work so that your thoughts and strategies are written down where you will be when you need them, so that if you’re tired/flaky/pissed you can still carry on without missing a beat.

      My doc wouldn’t give me drugs before 12 weeks, but after I could take anti emetics, the world got a little more stable. I could go into the office more, I stopped losing weight, etc. I had bad morning sickness the whole way through, but the drugs helped. Talk to your doc and see what they suggest.

      You can do this. And its temporary.

    14. Anonorama*

      I’m 13 weeks pregnant so I can sympathize. Talk to your dr about your morning sickness. I got a scrip for mine and it was literally life changing. My first 8 weeks were a lot like yours and my work life has been so much better since I medicated away the constant nausea. Also, are you eating enough? Even with the drugs, if I’m not eating every 3 hours, I feel like dying.

    15. Episkey*

      Ask for a Diclegis Rx. It’s a medication that was developed specifically for morning sickness and my doctor reassured me it is 100% safe and literally said, “Don’t be a hero. Just take it.”

      It has so-so efficacy for really severe morning sickness, but I do think it helped me and took some of the edge off. I still take it at night because it also helps you sleep and I’m 14 weeks along.

  18. Bork*

    I received an email (and a few more replies) in “Yoda” this morning from a complete stranger while we worked on a coding issue. I was not amused. It isn’t even May 4th!

    At least this is better than the time I had a real jerk of a guy respond to my colleagues and I in binary, bahaha.

  19. Federal hiring question*

    Federal hiring question, sorry if this is long! Last fall I exchanged a few emails with a federal hiring manager regarding my application for a job that HR had said I was unqualified. Long story short, after an email to HR that he was cc’d on, the reason was basically that I didn’t use the buzzwords in my application. The hiring manager said I’d make the referral list on a previous job in his office, so clearly I was qualified according to a different HR person (but not selected for the position). And he encouraged me to apply to a future position, and told me to contact him if I didn’t see the posting, or if I had questions, but then the hiring freeze came along.

    Anyway, the position was just posted, and I’ve tailored my USAJobs resume to the application (read: added buzzwords everywhere. It looks stupid to me, but whatever it takes to get past HR).

    My question is whether to contact him or not and let him know that I’m applying for this position? Normally I would not think to contact him, but he did seem encouraging to me to apply again to his office, and my thinking is that it might remind him about me. Does it matter, since it appears that the hiring managers only see the applications that are referred by HR? Or should I just put the application in and do nothing, which is what I would normally do.

    1. gwal*

      contact the hiring manager. it’s true, the buzzwords will likely help and your resume will only get through if you’re deemed adequately qualified on the application-specific terms/KSAs, but it could be useful to maintain that connection in the future.

      1. Federal hiring question*

        Yes, the HR determination was pretty annoying. The announcement asked for “hot herbal beverage container management” experience, and I have 14 years of “teapot management” experience. I just didn’t use the words “hot beverage.” It amazes me that anyone gets through HR.

    2. Grits McGee*

      Yes, let him know you applied. That way if there are issues with the cert (ie, you’re not on it and you should be), he can address them with HR before the cert closes and everyone’s hands are tied. Good luck!

    3. Former Retail Manager*

      Let him know that you applied. Although I am not a manager, it is my understanding (as a Federal employee) that if a manager has a specific name of a candidate, they can go through channels to find out what is going on with your application. Doesn’t seem to really be any downside to reaching out. Best of luck!

    4. Federal hiring question*

      Thanks for the answers everyone! I’ll definitely email him now. I still will put this job out of my mind after that, because even though I think I fit this position well with my qualifications, and my experience is exactly what they want (just in a different government system), I know there will be tons of candidates. I don’t have any problem with HR or the hiring manager saying there were more qualified candidates, I’ll just be annoyed if HR says again that I’m not qualified at all!

  20. MuseumChick*

    So, I’ve been at my job for just over six months now. There are a lot of things I like about but I’m noticing something I’m not sure how to push back on.

    Twice now my manager has asked me to take over projects from people with a lot more seniority/higher rank than me. The first time after a lot of back and forth I managed to push back enough where he went to the person and take the project from them to hand over to me. The second time happened just this week and I was unsuccessful in pushing back.

    Call me crazy but I feel like these people’s managers should be the ones removing the projects, handing them to my manager, who then hands it to me. So how can I push back? What scripts should I use?

    1. Bex*

      From the way you’re talking, if sounds like these projects might be actual physical things so I don’t know if my experience is relevant. But when I take over a project, I usually work directly with the other person on the handover. That allows me to get details and ask questions that their manager likely wouldn’t know. Honestly I don’t see any reason the managers would need to be involved in the handover, they only really need to agree on who should be doing the work.

      1. MuseumChick*

        No they are not physical things. My thing is basically my boss wants me to be the one going to people who far outrank me (think the CFO) and getting a project away from them.

    2. Aunt Margie at Work*

      I’m reading it with a perspective I’ve learned from reading AAM. Your manager is unhappy with the way current, senior employees are progressing and he wants you to do the work instead. He does not want to tell the employees they are doing a bad job or that he is unhappy with their work. He is letting you manage the situation.
      If he were content with their work, but thought it was something your could or should do, he wouldn’t be hiding behind you.
      I’m not going to presume to be Alison and tell you what to do, but I am going to suggest you view it this way as one possibility and determine what kind of conversation you can have with your boss about why he’s asking you to essentially reassign (not just take over) projects.

      1. Ashley*

        My fallback on this is when I go to the other person is, Boss asked me to do X. And then if they give push back suggest they talk directly to Boss and give Boss a heads up of the conversation.

      2. Taylor Swift*

        I disagree and I think you’re reading too much into it. I don’t think we know why the manager wants the projects reassigned and it’s a stretch to say he’s trying to avoid managing poor performance by getting MuseumChick to do it instead.

    3. Purplesaurus*

      It feels bad to have a project taken away, and that’s probably what they’re responding to more than you personally. It might help if you approach it one of two (or both!) ways: you are doing them a favor by taking on the work and/or you need experiencing dealing with whatever the project is. I suck at scripts, but that’s the direction I would take.

      1. Rosamond*

        I think this would work fine: “Hey, boss asked me to take over Project XYZ. Did he talk to you about that yet?….No? Do you want to talk to him about it first?”

        1. KR*

          This – this isn’t you saying, “Senior Person, I need to take over this project from you.”. You’re saying, “Senior Person, Boss asked me to take over this project from you. If you have any questions about it, he should be able to provide you with more information. What’s the current status and can you forward me any important emails?”

    4. Taylor Swift*

      I don’t think you should push back. That’s obviously not the way your manager wants it handled. For whatever reason, it sounds like that’s not the kind of thing he wants or needs to be spending his time doing. I think you should be working on how to politely and assertively tell the people who are senior to you that Manager says you’re to be taking care of X project now.

    5. Thlayli*

      I may be misunderstanding here but it sounds like you’re saying:
      1 in the past your manager asked you to take over a project and go to the person managing it, and do the handover directly with them. You refused and the manager did a handover from them and then a handover to you.
      2 your manager has again asked you to take over a project and asked you to go do a handover with the person managing it and you refused and this time the manager has refused to do a double handover and insists you do i yourself.
      3 it’s not clear whether the original managers were informed in advance that you were being assigned their projects. It’s not clear how they feel about it.

      If I have misunderstood please correct me and ignore the advice below. If I have understood correctly then the advice I have would be:
      1 it is totally normal to do a direct handover from project manager to project manager. It is literally part of your job to get the relevant info from the original project manager. Having your manager as a go-between is extremely inefficient so your manager is absolutely correct that you should be getting the info directly from them.
      2 it is unusual but not unheard of for you to be the one to inform the previous manager that you are taking over their project. in most cases they would be told in advance so they have time to prepare a handover. It is unusual enough that it makes me wonder if there is some misunderstanding. Have you assumed that the other person doesn’t know in advance you will be taking over their project? Do you know for a fact that is the case?

      Even if it is the case then informing the other person of the handover is a job that the manager can delegate to you.

      It also seems like you may be worried they won’t want to give you their project or something? I think that’s unlikely, most likely they will be over the moon to have it off their desk.

      What I would do is split it into two separate tasks. 1 inform the previous manager that you have been assignend to take over their project, and deal with any misunderstandings about that. 2 do the actual project handover only after everyone is on the same page.

      The actual handover itself shouldn’t be too difficult once everyone is in agreement about what is happening. It’s just the “inform someone higher up that I am taking their work from them” but that is daunting.

      What I would do is email the old manager and cc your boss and say
      “Hi, Boss has asked me to take over your teapot crack repair project. When would be a good time for you to meet up to do tha handover?”

      If they were completely unaware of this then they will most likely pick up the phone and ring boss straight away to ask about it.

      If an email just gets ignored then after a day or two pick up the phone or go to their office and knock on the door and repeat the same thing. If they push back make it clear that you are just doing what boss is asking and if they have any issues with it then they need to take hat up with boss. But put it more politely than that.

      Once all that is all sorted out then the old manager will be aware they have to hand over to you and they should do so in a professional way even if they aren’t happy about it.

      However, I think it’s most likely their response will be “oh thank heavens! I’ve had no time to do anything on that, it’s great boss has found someone to do it for me”.

      Good luck.

  21. Gandalf the Nude*

    I hope this isn’t terribly off-topic for this thread, but I just started playing Dungeons and Dragons and learning about the deities in its pantheons. I’m pretty sure there are other D&D players in this community, and I want to know why not a one of you has mentioned the Merchant’s Friend, the goddess of commerce and the accumulation of wealth through free and fair trade.

    Her name is Waukeen.

    1. Aunt Margie at Work*

      on the other hand, the goddess of altruism and acts of charity is named JoAHquin

    2. EvilQueenRegina*

      On the show Riverdale, Kevin was dating a guy named Joaquin. Every time that character appeared on screen I kept thinking Wakeen.

    3. Red Reader*

      One of the side-story bad guys in Sense8 is Joaquin, and I grin like a madwoman every time he gets cursed out or beat up. “Take that, Wakeen!”

    4. katamia*

      LOL. I grew up playing Baldur’s Gate and similar games, and before I knew the Wakeen/Joaquin story, I just assumed it was a D&D reference.

      1. Gandalf the Nude*

        This is amazing. When I read about her yesterday, I briefly wondered if she was a recent addition by one of our commentors.

        1. katamia*

          Well, it makes sense–commerce and employment aren’t the exact same thing, but there’s a lot of overlap there. :)

          1. Gandalf the Nude*

            That’s entirely why I thought that, haha. It just lined up too perfectly.

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Look, I’m a cleric of Pelor, I’m not about to go talking up a competitor, yanno?

    6. Lightly-chewed Jimmy*

      I started in Basic D&D, then went on to the DM’s homebrew 2nd ed – no Waukeen :)

  22. Rebecca*

    Do you have baby showers in your office? For everyone, or just moms? I hate workplace milestone celebrations, but I think it’s weird that we only celebrate these for women, and not men. My coworker is pregnant, and my boss suggested having a baby shower for her with everyone all together, then for the men to leave after a little bit. This is Not Okay, right?

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      I’m boycotting these kinds of celebrations until we have them for expectant fathers/grooms too.

      1. AwkwardKaterpillar*

        We actually do at my office. I think it’s the only semi progressive thing we do in the whole organization.

        1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

          I had a baby shower thrown for me by my co-workers when I was pregnant with my first born. It was coordinated by a man. He was a new dad and was so excited to share his new dad experience and cool gadget recommendations. I got the best diaper bag that I never would have picked for myself. It was ugly but dang, that thing was like the MacGyver of diaper bags.

    2. Namast'ay In Bed*

      I think having a (small) baby shower at work is fine, but the whole “men need to leave” part is suuuper weird.

      1. Annie Moose*

        I agree, that’s so weird. We had baby showers at OldJob too, but both men and women were invited (and stayed the whole time).

        1. Rebecca*

          As a queer woman with a nonbinary partner, I sometimes I wonder if my reactions to these things are too far out of the zeitgeist. I suppose not!

    3. fposte*

      I’m keen to know what the women will be doing that the men can’t stay for. Is it a coven?

    4. Emi.*

      That’s weird. The only reason I can think of for having the men leave is so you can play weird games like “guess how fat she is in squares of toilet paper,” which you really shouldn’t do at work.

      My office had a joint shower for the man and the woman who were having babies, and it was fun! Literally just cake, presents, and “How are you/your wife feeling? What does the nursery look like? Do you have names picked out?”

      1. Parenthetically*

        Coed showers are way more fun IMO than those 60s Betty Draper throwback women-only showers. Like, I’m not having an enema and scopolamine and forceps, so can I also skip the pink frills and the cutesy games and the ladies sitting around sipping punch?

        1. Electric Hedgehog*

          So, I was just skimming the comments and read this one without context. It was horrifying… like why would it be ok to use all those things with all the ladies in a locker room type ladies shower? Thank you.

    5. Michelle*

      IMO, no it’s not okay to ask the men to leave. We have had quite a few baby showers at work and the men seem to enjoy them as much as the women. If the woman chooses to open presents during the shower, the men usually grab another plate of munchies to eat and make appropriate “cute” noises like everyone else. Suggesting the menfolk leave is…sexist.

      1. paul*

        that’s how we do it the rare times it happened. Hell I had a baby shower at my work with our first –got some diapers and we had brownies and chips. 10/10, would do again if one of my coworkers was pregnant/had pregnant wife

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Agreed — in fact, when we had one for my boss at OldJob, I think some of the men who were fathers had more fun than the women who weren’t — and gave more useful/better gifts!

      3. Anxa*

        I would also argue that if things are going to get just that … feminine where the men may feel uncomfortable or out of their element, there’s a good chance the women will, too.

        I’m boy no means a tomboy and I deeply value female-only/female-dominant spaces and rituals, but it can very easily go into overkill and forced femininity really easily. Triply so in a work environment.

    6. Delta Delta*

      I have only ever attended 2 workplace showers. One for a man, and one for a woman. The one for a man was in my first job out of college and I remember thinking, “what a great idea! the baby is his baby too!” That thought quickly shifted to, “cake!” Long story short: celebrate both parents, and yum – cake.

      Why would the men leave after a while? That’s a puzzler.

    7. Aunt Margie at Work*

      I missed the word baby in your first sentence, so I’m still kind of freaked out.
      But no, single gender is BS. We had baby showers for two of the men in my department. We invited there wives. It was fun. Also, I call BS on men being automatically OFF the list and women automatically on. Like Alison says, opt in versus opt out of these things.

    8. Unlucky Bear*

      My work threw me a baby shower last year and our lone male colleague definitely was invited.

      Conversely, my husband’s office threw him a surprise baby shower. The theme was “A Jedi is Born.” He was delighted.

    9. kavm*

      We do have (small) showers in our office, and we absolutely have them for the fathers. In fact, since I’ve been here there have been 3 men who’ve had kids, and no women. And we’ve done showers for all 3 of them.

      It’s definitely Not Okay to kick out the men. What a stupid suggestion!

    10. AwkwardKaterpillar*

      Yeah not okay. First, separating activity by genders is no good. Second – why would your boss assume the women were more interested than the men? I have negative interest in baby showers and babies in general, and there are men that are the opposite. Push back.

      1. Sami*

        Agree. I’m a woman and definitely not a fan of showers (baby or bridal). I’d go to say “Hi. Congratulations!” And grab some food (cake!) and leave as soon as humanly possible.

    11. General Ginger*

      Unfortunately that’s how it’s done at my office. I think it’s gross, but I’m the only one here that does.

    12. Can't Sit Still*

      Baby showers for every baby at my job! If it’s the employee’s spouse who is pregnant, we arrange it so they can attend, too. It’s cake and presents, why do the men need to leave? What on earth is your boss planning?

    13. ByLetters*

      So far I’ve only seen them held for females at my office place, which I don’t like — to be honest I feel a little bit awkward about celebrating them in the office in general (the one currently being planned is for a manager above me, and that brings in the whole ‘buying gifts for managers’ awkwardness).

      But now that I think about it, I REALLY don’t like that it’s only for the females — and even here, I think expecting the men to leave the “party” would be considered horrifying. Even “showers” are literally just an excuse to bring in treats with a slight suggestion of gifts. No games, no jokes, not even decorations.

    14. Lauren*

      We used to do one for everyone, and even made the first time fathers do a quiz on disney characters! We usually collected money, then designated a shopper to buy stuff, gift wrappers, couple bakers who wanted to make food, and then a decorating team. We are all super involved and just sent an email around with the roles needed, including the distraction person. We once made the owner take a guy out for his annual review at the restaurant downstairs so we could set up as he almost never left the office. We’ve invited the mom-to-be as well too, in one case she was a distraction with lunch out and they came back to the shower. It makes the guys feel like they won’t be looked down upon for needing a flex schedule too if you make it just like any shower for a mom-to-be. Not just a awkward, hey here is a gift card, but cake, presents, games, decorations, and elaborate distractions to keep it a surprise.

    15. Purplesaurus*

      I’d likely approach this in a panicked state, saying, “If we’re doing something the men need to leave the room for then I’m not likely going to be comfortable staying either. Maybe whatever it is shouldn’t be happening at all if that’s the case!”

    16. AliceBD*

      We do baby showers for anyone who is expecting a baby, regardless of gender. And everyone who works with the expectant parent is invited to attend and stay the entire time. I think our way is he reasonable way to handle it in an office.

    17. Lucy Richardson*

      Everywhere I’ve worked we’ve done both baby and wedding showers for everyone, with everyone who works with the guest of honor invited, and consisting entirely of cake and presents – no games.

    18. Rosamond*

      I’m glad to say everywhere I’ve worked has done baby showers for every parent who wanted one, and everyone was invited, regardless of gender. The suggestion of segregating them by gender would not have been received well, at all.

    19. RabbitRabbit*

      We have wedding/baby showers for anyone in my department, and they’re co-ed as well. Kicking the men out is uncool.

    20. Shelly*

      We have them for both genders at our office, but only with permission of the future parent. But we also celebrate weddings and such. I think it might be because we’re a religious college, so we tend to be pretty family oriented.

      Also, asking the men to leave is very much NOT OKAY.

    21. Nervous Accountant*

      Kicking the men out is SOOOO WEIRD!

      I’ve been here for a few years now and so far, the shower was only thrown for 2 women who were expecting at the same time. My current manager had a baby last year, so we all pitched in and bought him some gifts and a card but it wasn’t a shower per se. I don’t know what will happen when (IF, hopefully WHEN) it’s my turn but I cannot fathom ANYONE here saying only women or something (plus it’s majority guys here so that’s super weird to exclude them)

    22. Cassie*

      We’ve had baby showers a few times at my workplace – twice was for the new mom (it was the same person, for her first and second kid) and once was for the new dad. I only attended once so I’m not entirely sure how it was handled but everyone was invited to attend. There were some games but not gendered at all – like baby-themed bingo.

      I definitely don’t think the men should be excluded (either entirely or partially). There have been questions before about work social events (like showers) – if it’s at work, it’s not a traditional shower where only women are invited or only close friends are invited. It’s more like a work party with a specific theme (e.g. a soon-to-be born baby).

  23. Disappointed*

    In a bit of a pickle. I accepted a counter offer from my company to move into a new role. My acceptance was conditional based on improved salary and performance review after a specified period of time. I found out almost immediately HR could not offer quite as high salary as I wanted, but was willing to compromise. In the last few days, I found out they were also unwilling to put language about the performance review into my contract either. We’re currently negotiating.

    Looked at objectively, my career has improved leaps and bounds at this company. Personally, though, it’s been a lot of confusion and frustration and my trust has been eroded. When I found out about this, my immediate reaction was maybe I can call the other company and see if they’d still have me.

    I don’t think this happened due to any malice on the company’s part and the hiring manager is doing his best to make me feel comfortable, however my excitement has vanished.

    What are other people’s thoughts reading this?

    1. fposte*

      That this is one of the many downsides of counteroffers. Once you’re disenchanted enough with a place to consider leaving, it’s hard for them to truly win your heart back once you get past the thrill of realizing it’s worth it to them to fight for you. (I’m not familiar with negotiating for a performance review–is that a common thing, and how does that work?)

      1. H.C.*

        I think the performance review part is for another pay bump, contingent on satisfactory (or better) performance X months into the job (thus the review), but it’s more typical for new hire situations than for counteroffers.

      2. Disappointed*

        That sums it up well. Having the feeling that they would fight to keep me made me feel much better about the situation and now it feels more like they tricked me into staying, though I’m sure it wasn’t the intent.

        The reason I negotiated a performance review within a specific period was they told me they were sure they could bump me up a pay grade in a short amount of time depending on performance, so I asked for that in writing. Definitely non-standard, considering the fuss they’re putting up.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      If I’m reading this correctly, I think you did everything right except maybe not waiting for it to be in writing before you turned down the other job.

      In other words, is this what happened?
      1. You got an offer from another company.
      2. Your current company counter-offered.
      3. You said “I’ll take the counter offer under these conditions.”
      4. They said “Sure” but didn’t put the conditions in writing.
      5. You had already turned down the offer from the other company.

      If that’s the case, it’s going to be tough to salvage at this point. You could try to reach out to the other company to see if they’ll still take you, but I think it’s going to make you look wishy-washy to both companies. In the future (I don’t know if you’ll ever run into this situation again), I would just not take the counter offer, but if you did, the best thing to do would be to say “That sounds good. If you can get that to me in writing by tomorrow, I can let the other company know I won’t be accepting their offer.” Too late for that probably, though.

      1. Disappointed*

        I actually got it in writing – just not in my official contract. That’s what makes this whole thing doubly unfair.

        Agree with all other assessments! I wish I had taken the other offer, but I was concerned about relocating.

          1. Disappointed*

            Thanks for responding Alison.

            That might be the case. I suppose what I’m struggling with is whether to try and make the most of it and stay or just cut my losses.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I’d try to figure out what’s behind their resistance. Is it just “our contracts are standardized and altering yours to include this would be a huge logistical nightmare”? Or are you sensing that they’re not so committed to the promises they made? If it’s the first and you have it in writing anyway, that would concern me less than the second.

  24. Bad Candidate*

    We moved into a new building this week and I have new neighbors. I’ve discovered that one of my neighbors, Catelyn, shakes her leg up and down for most of the day. It’s causing vibrations to the point that my monitor is shaking and the feel of it through the floor is making me nauseous. I know it’s her because she’s out today and there’s no shaking. Another coworker went into Catelyn’s cube, sat down and shook her leg, and sure enough, same outcome. So… what do I do? I like Catelyn, she’s nice, but this shaking thing is driving me nuts. I’m sure she doesn’t know she’s doing it and can’t likely control it. I don’t think they can move me and anyone else that moves here would have the same problem.

    1. Leatherwings*

      This drives me nuts too. In my last workplace my neighbor did it allll day. I think you have to be straightforward with her though “Catelyn, I’m sure you don’t know this but when you shake your leg it makes a lot of noise and causes vibrations all the way through my space. Can you cut down on that please?”

    2. MissMaple*

      I think the best path forward is just to let her know. My husband does this sort of thing, but he’ll definitely stop if someone points it out, particularly if it’s causing serious issues like making things wobble. She just might switch to something like pen-clicking or gum snapping which are my husband’s other go-tos though, which he’ll also stop if brought to his attention.

      1. Liane*

        My husband does it too. In HIS case, there a reason in his medical history, but he can stop if you ask. (Although it will happen again.) So even if you know/think this might be behind it, try just talking to her as if it were anything else.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, my husband did this, too. It was a heart issue. And yes, he stopped if you asked.

    3. JLK in the ATX*

      Hi! I’m a leg shaker, too. It’s a completely absent-minded thing to do and we don’t often know that we do it. It’s part of our thinking process, nerves or what not. Please tell us that we do it. We don’t want to be annoying or disruptive. However, we should be more cognizant of our annoying habit and take strides to avoid contact with shared spaces or find althernatives to our fidgeting.

      Nip it in the bud. Just say, “Hi. You might not know that your shaking leg habit sends waves into my office (you can’t speak about others unless you survey them). It’s hard for me to concentrate when you do it. Can you please stop.’ No fancy words, attempts at humor or appeasement. It would be the same for gum smackers, snorters, loud laughers, perfumer wearers and farters. We all share spaces and we all have to figure out how to make them work for us.

      1. Bagworm*

        As another leg shaker, totally agreed! Please just ask. We often don’t know if/how much it shakes others’ area and/or don’t even realize we’re doing it.

    4. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      She can control it. Ask her to. This is one of those things like humming or whistling (my habit) or whispering to oneself that people have to learn to control when they’re in the office.

      1. Undine*

        I have a condition where I sometimes shake quite violently (Like, it would be impossible for me to work and shake at the same time). And yes, I can control it — for a little while. But controlling it is exhausting and makes it worse when it breaks through and starts up again. There are physical conditions that cause different levels of movement or tremors. It doesn’t sound like this is the problem with this coworker, but talk to the person, don’t make assumptions like “she can control it.”

      2. curmudgeon*

        um.. she might not be able to control it.
        I can’t. I have to keep moving or my legs seize up and I can’t get up. I’m constantly shifting around, shaking legs, whatever. I’m sorry if it bothers you but I really like to be able to get up without falling down.

    5. Lauren*

      I have restless leg syndrome, and I shake my legs without thinking about it. My cube mate just tells me and I can stop it, but its an ongoing process. You prob can’t get her to change the behavior if it is a physical need to move her legs like with RLS.

      Ask to move.

    6. Kama'aina Kitty*

      Try using shock absorbing materials under her foot/chair, under your monitor, anywhere that’s shaking. Something like a yoga mat or an anti-fatigue floor mat or the rubbery kind of shelf liner.

    7. Cassie*

      Ask her if she can stop. Even if she can’t stop completely (e.g. medical condition), maybe she can reduce the impact or frequency?

      I say this like it’s the easiest thing to ask. I wouldn’t have the guts to ask and would just seethe in my cubicle til the end of time. But really, it shouldn’t be that difficult. When I was in the 8th grade, the kid in front of me turned around and asked if I could stop kicking his chair. I knew I had been swinging my legs back and forth, but didn’t realize I was making contact.

      If an 8th grader can ask, we all should be able to :)

  25. Ayla K*

    I was looking through the archives and couldn’t find the right answer. My office seems to be VERY focused on dieting and weight. It took me 11 years but I’m really happy with the way I look and feel – I’m not at my skinniest, but I am for sure at my healthiest. But people love to talk about the latest crash diet they’re on and bemoan how they have to deny themselves certain foods or whatever, and that’s a lifestyle that doesn’t speak to me at all. I eat what I want within reason and I don’t brag about it, but I don’t want to hear about the guilty feelings, the so-called “bad foods” tempting them around the office, and how tired and fatigued they are from skipping meals.

    How can I nicely say, “please don’t talk to me about your diet”? This is usually with supervisors and managers above me.

    1. NaoNao*

      Maybe make it super boring to talk to you about dieting, etc?
      Like “mmm…” and then politely drift off and go back to your desk?
      Or you could perhaps just change the subject—latest movie and tv shows, a fun trip you had, etc. So “Oh, hmm. Sounds rough. Speaking of food, I went to a food truck bonanza this weekend and saw a great band. Do you like live music?”
      As a last resort, you could spearhead a “healthy bodies” type campaign where it’s more about focus on healthy choices than dieting and all that.

      1. Anonymous for this Post*

        Seconded to make it super boring. Don’t really comment on the diet, just make noises like “mmm” and change the subject. If they are even slightly aware, they’ll realize you don’t want to talk about their diet.

        A few years back, I did a mean thing regarding food. Quite a few of the people in my cubeland were on a diet that involved eating a lot of broccoli and they talked about it constantly. If you weren’t on the broccoli diet, they would stare at your food and ask questions about it, how it was prepared, what was the calorie count, etc. I was so sick of it. So one Friday I went to the bakery super early and got two of the nicest cakes they had- a three layer red velvet cake and a three layer chocolate ganache cake. I hid them in my cube and right before the broccoli crowd went to lunch started I went in and put them out with a sign that said “please help yourself”. I heated my lunch, cut a slice of each cake and sat down to enjoy myself. I watched as they came in, saw the cakes and froze for a second. As the prepared their broccoli they just keep staring at the cakes. As I started to eat my slices, they stared at me. I finally said “Why don’t you just have a slice? Moderation is the key”. I finished and left. By the end of the lunches (around 1:30), both of the cakes were gone. Broccoli crowd quit talking about diets around me after that.

        I am slightly ashamed of doing that, but only slightly. I know dieting and getting healthy can be hard, but if I had to listen to another few days of broccoli talk, I would have lost my mind.

      2. k*

        I think the avoid and deflect path is your best option. If you don’t engage in the conversation eventually they might get the hit and stop talking about it.

        If you want to be more direct, you can try something like, “Sounds rough. Diets aren’t really my thing, so I can’t relate. But if it works for you that’s cool.” And then change the subject or walk away.

      3. Beatrice*

        Oh man, excessive diet talk is prevalent in my family and it’s the worst. It’s also something that I feel like we should actively discourage in the workplace because a lot of people find even casual diet talk really upsetting, and I feel like diet talk is almost always directed at women. But I also think it’s something that people talk about because they’re looking for reassurance and social connection, and that’s understandable. What works for me typically is a subtle subject change like NaoNao suggested. Maybe they say “I can’t have any more muffins, I need to be good”, and you could respond with something like, “Oh, my dad made great muffins for my kid’s birthday party the other day. I can’t believe she’s already seven!”.

    2. Jaydee*

      If you’re specifically dealing with people trying to talk to you about their diets, I think you can just be polite but straightforward and try to redirect back to work topics. “Oh, I’m actually not that interested in dieting and weight loss. But I did have a question about the new teapot thickness guidelines….” I think it can be harder if they aren’t talking *to* you about their diets are but talking *near* you or just infusing the office culture with diet and weight loss talk. But even then you can gently call them out on it and redirect back to work. And if you find you need an excuse, the (maybe imaginary) cousin/college roommate/friend recovering from an eating disorder might provide that. “Actually, I have a cousin who struggled for years with an eating disorder, so I really try to stay away from discussions of diet and weight loss since you just never know if others are in that same boat.”

    3. Observer*

      Blame your doctor ;)

      “My doctor thinks I’m at a healthy weight and thinks I’m better off not discussing dieting.”

    4. Borgette*

      I’m in the same boat! I work for a hospital system. As a perk they offer a weight reduction/management program which leads to a lot of diet/body talk in the workplace.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      “Weight and diet are only two aspects of good health. There are many other aspects. I use a broad picture focus myself.”

  26. Stranger than fiction*

    Happy Friday everyone,
    Would you interview with this company again if you were in this situation?
    My SO is miserable at the small software company he works at, is surrounded by inexperienced people and is underpaid.
    About four years ago, he interviewed with a large multinational corporation in an industry he has tons experience in and the posted salary range was inline with what he should be making. He got all the way through the process and on the last interview, the hiring manager made him a verbal offer and said so and so in HR would be getting in touch with the details. They never did. He waited a few weeks and emailed the HR lady and she never replied. He moved on to current job.
    Two years ago, same company contacted him again and he had a phone interview with one of the same women he interviewed with in person the last time. She was loudly eating and slurping her food and barely paying attention the entire call, and it didn’t go any further.
    Yesterday, a recruiter with this same company contacted him again! I said he should be candid with this recruiter about what happened before.
    What do y’all think? Is it worth it to give them a third chance?

    1. fposte*

      I don’t think the second one matters that much–he didn’t make it past a phone screen, and that happens. The first, however, is a concern to me; while I don’t swim in the corporate and recruiting world, I think it’s worth raising the point that as far as he knows he’s still waiting to onboard for the job they offered him in 2012.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Ha! Now that would certainly bring a bit of levity to the conversation.

    2. katamia*

      I wouldn’t, but due to the first incident. The second one doesn’t reflect well, either, but it’s personal rather than indicative of possible disorganization within the company.

    3. Thinking out loud*

      Is it the same recruiter? If not, I’d politely decline. If so, I’d move forward without mentioning what happened with the previous recruiter. If you happen to get the job, I’d wait six months or so and then mention it to a manager in HR, but you are unlikely to get anywhere by mentioning to a new recruiter that you had a bad experience with a previous recruiter. (Background: I worked at a multinational company for ~12 years.)

      1. Thinking out loud*

        Dang it, I said it backwards. If it’s the same recruiter, I would decline the interview. If it’s a different recruiter, I’d move forward. Sorry!

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Different recruiter and he did end up mentioning politely what happened before. The guy apologized and asked for their names, which he has at home and will give over the weekend. He thinks the original hiring manager guy is gone, but is worried chewy lady may have been promoted to that guy’s role. Should be interesting!

  27. NaoNao*

    The two year itch:
    Throughout my professional career (I’m a late bloomer, retail until about age 30, so my career is only 8 years old at this point) I’ve had a pattern: get a good job, do great, challenging work, get kudos and have fun, then slowly get “itchy feet”, and wind up looking for something new at the 2 year mark.
    I’m in the best paying job of my career so far, and I have a ton of creative control, which is very important to me. I’m able to build lots of key skills for my field, and I love my coworkers and boss.
    But…my GrandBoss and a coworker have left recently, and their empty desks/offices are kind of getting to me!
    I’m in a huge, multi-national corp that has a rep for keeping its people for-ever (a coworker recently celebrated 40 years!!) and I’m in a bit of a “golden handcuffs” position–the perks are great.
    Anyone have advice for this two year itch? Anyone experience this as well?

    1. Jaydee*

      Can you satisfy the itch at your current workplace or in a way that isn’t work-related? For example, is there a project you could take on at work or an opportunity to learn a new skill or work with a different team on something? Is there a big change you could make in another area of your life (redecorate your home, take up a new hobby, adopt a dog, learn a language, plan a big trip, etc.?)

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Sounds like me! I love my new jobs for about the first 1-2 years BUT THEN SOMETHING CHANGES.
      This time, it was both a corporate sale and several new bosses (5 in 3 years) + a office relocation. I really like my job (salary-work-people) and don’t really want to leave… but I HATE the new office location & new office layout (open office and I’m stuck right in the middle out in the open). I. Just. Can’t.

      I think you have to ask yourself what you actually dislike and is it a deal-breaker? Is it just the uncertainty of not having a GrandBoss? That doesn’t seem like a huge issue to me, unless you get a BAD new GrandBoss.
      Are you just bored? Why not apply for a higher up position within the company?

      I get it, being a grass-is-greener person myself, but unless you truly have a specific and actionable reason (money, commute, bad boss, etc.) that makes current work situation untenable I think I would sick it out.

    3. Qestia*

      I’m the same way and I hate that about me. I’m in a great job- I like the people and the work I do, the pay and benefits are the best ever. But it’s in a business area I haven’t worked in before and I’m not sure I’m interested in our business. But I like what I do for the business so why can’t I just deal?

    4. writelhd*

      I think I know certain people who are more naturally inclined to “the itch” than others, and it can come out in many ways. At it’s heart, is it about the fact that, no matter what you’re doing, it always means there’ something ELSE you AREN’T doing, and that causes feelings of regret? I’m a little like this but I have some friends who are worse, though for us the regret is about having a “real” job that pays bills for adult things like permanence vs traveling around the world working minimum wage jobs just to be somewhere cool and adventure in the spare time. I’ve done both, and miss one when I’m doing the other, but, am kinda stuck in the “real job” path now and am learning to find ways to satisfy the travel itch with spending money on travel, and hobbies etc. Some friends still can’t seem to decide which one they want, so do a lot of switching, and also spend a lot of time unhappy.

      I guess if this feels like you then realize that to some degree one will always feel this way, because it’s a natural bias to make what you don’t have seem more important than what you do. Even in the day to day grind you have to feel all the emotions every single time, no shortcuts. Some things–like people you like to work with leaving–are sad and can make the regret stuff come up again mores trongly, but ultimately is more likely to be a temporary sadness.

    5. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’ve had the same problem. What got me through it was finding a new challenge at my current job. Maybe there’s something you can take on that’ll be new and different?

    6. Security SemiPro*

      I used to be you!

      And in some ways still am, but my current company has room for me to take on a new big challenge whenever I’m ready/antsy, so I’ve been here for ages longer than I’d expected, and I’m starting to plan to stay here for …ever, maybe?

      You like the perks, you like the company, yes? What usually happens to me, about every 12-20 months, is that I either finish something big or I feel like I’ve finally gotten on top of a big project/workflow/theme to the point where I’m efficient at the work – still learning new things, still have full days, but I’m on top of things and don’t have space to do much more. What my current job/management/company does that previous places have not is that they work to pull things I’m done with off my plate so that I can put something else new and big on it. Sometimes its an entirely new role. Sometimes its a large new responsibility. Sometimes its a problem that needs to be solved. Its always something that adds chaos and challenge and feels overwhelming at first .

      I will say that if you can stick through the 2 year hump and find your next big challenge after “learn the job and make it yours”, really cool things start happening. I’m finding that “learn the company and make it yours” and “learn the industry and make it yours” are exhilarating in ways that I never would have guess when I was taking on a new job in a new company every couple of years.

    7. Anxa*

      If you want to stay, can you find something outside of work to satisfy the itch? Something relevant to your field? Is there a way you can volunteer your time or skills that would would scratch it?

    8. Bess*

      Might be worth it to challenge yourself to stay in spite of the itch for a given amount of time, just to see what happens. I hugely sympathize with this and think it can sometimes be important to stay put a little longer, just to get yourself past it and figure out what’s driving it. I like a lot of variety and enjoy change (to a degree), and in the past have also had not-so-great jobs that had some big deal-breakers–so I’d jump into change after about 1.5-2 years of the same thing.

      It didn’t always dawn on me how much I was draining my energy by changing jobs, until I finally happened to stay at the same company for 4 years (different roles, though, so might not quite count). And I’m starting to see how much knowledge you can accumulate simply by being in the same company for a while…you learn people, you learn politics, you build a ton of context, you build a reputation, all of which becomes a huge asset.

      Might be interesting to make it a thing to NOT move, just as an experiment.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I had a similar pattern.

      Several things to consider, because usually with stuff like this it is happening for more than one reason, that is why you can’t just shake it off.

      1) How are your personal life goals? Do you have some? Are they written down? Have you outlined the steps to get there? Life is the point and job is just a means of transportation through life. If we make our jobs our top focus we can become restless and dissatisfied in very short order. Because all of life is not answered in the work place. Look at your life. What changes do you want in place five years from now? Or any time period from now? I stayed at a job for over ten years because of personal goals that took a lot of time to finish. It also “helped” that the economy tanked in the middle of all that, it encouraged me to keep going at my job.

      2) Conflating learning a new job with learning new things. Maybe your actual need is to learn new things on the personal side of your life. How about doing a college course or something else? Here they offer pottery classes and blacksmithing classes. Sounds interesting to me.

      3) Aiming too low. Maybe you just need a job that offers more diversity or taps your skills harder than this one. Maybe you are taking jobs that you privately know fall short of your best abilities.

      4) Wrong type of job. Maybe you have been sitting a desk for eight years and where you really need to be is out in the forest as a forest ranger. I had a physical restlessness about me. If I had to sit at a desk, I would die. Finally I aged enough and exhausted myself enough so that I can sit at a desk. But that took almost 30 years.

      5) Change in expectations. I have come to think of work as a discipline. It takes self-discipline to keep showing up, knowing full well what I am showing up FOR. This is a form of strength. Just like building strong muscles it takes effort/determination to keep showing up for the same old thing everyday. Life goals can come in handy, “Three more paychecks and I can get a new car! Then I can pick my next life goal and start that!” Looking at work in things from a fresh perspective helps. I challenged myself to find ways to make the same old dull routine more interesting. In the process of doing that, I found liked troubleshooting. Give me a difficult problem, I can amuse myself for a few hours by trying to figure it out. Other times I challenged myself to find ways to streamline work or to help a coworker have a better day, I made up random challenges like this just to keep my mind from growing dull.

      Bottomline: I’d like to encourage you that this is happening for more than one reason. If you were truly dissatisfied with the job, then changing jobs could have resolved that dissatisfaction. However, since it did not it could be that your job changing is actually a costume/disguise for something else which is the real cause of your restlessness. And it COULD be that real cause has nothing to do with employment.

    10. Honeybee*

      I get the two-year itch pretty much everywhere I am. I’m a sensation-seeker; I love the shiny and new, and the two year mark is just about the time the newness fully wears off and I become part of the establishment. I’m actually almost there with my current job and I’m actually the most content I’ve ever been at this point in, but I can feel myself being – not bored, but not nearly as excited as I was when I started.

      For me it’s reinventing myself and trying to push myself to take on new projects and new roles. With my current job, that’s relatively easy, and I can challenge myself with the way I choose to execute a project or by taking on side projects that will help the business in some way. I’ve also had to talk myself into recognizing that re-organizations and some churn with coworkers is normal. (Something that bummed me out is our team lost a lot of great people not long after I was here. Many of them stayed within the company, but they moved to different teams within the company.)

  28. Trying (and failing) to have it all*

    I’m feeling rather overwhelmed. I’m a new mother — my daughter just turned 4 months this week — and a marketing manager for a small company with outsized goals. I took 6 weeks of disability, 4 weeks of part-time work from home, 4 weeks of full-time (2 days in office, 3 days home split with the husband who did 2 days home and 3 days at his office), and have been back full-time in the office for a couple weeks. I’m grateful my company was flexible but I feel way too integral to this machine, and I shouldn’t be. I like that I’m needed, but marketing functions nearly STOPPED while I was out, so I *had* to come back at 6 weeks or else risk my job not existing anymore. It meant I had to sign up for a ridiculous expensive daycare because they were the only ones with openings on such short notice. I love the daycare, but the financial aspect is putting real pressure on me as breadwinner to bring in more.

    I’ve been interviewing for other jobs. It’s been challenging. I’m the type of person people make exceptions for, and I always have been. I’ve had jobs offered to me on the spot. I’ve had jobs created for me, when I interviewed for an internship. I’m not saying this to brag, but saying this to set up how devastating this normal round of job searching has been for me: 2 companies have said no after an in-person, 1 company said no after a phone screen, 2 have left me hanging after a phone screen, and one is trying to schedule me for an in-person but is apparently fine with taking 1-2 weeks to do so despite knowing I’m talking to other people.

    I’m not expecting to be handed a job, I’m just struggling with this rejection rate (which at my level feels very personal, and it is: I have a proven record of getting it done and done well, so it’s down to personality fit) and finding identity as a working mother and trying so hard to keep it together in my current dysfunctional role.

    I guess what I’m asking is…

    Anyone have any advice for a new working mother on how to balance home, work, and career?

    1. Moira*

      I think it takes time! You haven’t been back that long and you’re adjusting to a huge life change. I wonder if that makes the job search success feel more fraught for you since there’s so much new stuff in your life? The first couple months after I returned to work, everything was sort of nuts as I worked out the new normal. Workwise, are you set on leaving, or is it possible to make yourself less integral/delegate some responsibilities? Practically re: balance — this is when we started getting groceries delivered. Having fewer chores like that to do was a huge help.

      1. Trying (and failing) to have it all*

        You’re right, I think, that since everything is changing and I have so little control over so much of it, it feels like the one thing I *should* have control over — namely, my job — being out of control is just too much. I only realized in hindsight how out of it I was for the first few weeks after it had been a month or two longer, so I can imagine with no real difficulty that I’ll be looking back on this period and wondering if I was insane.

        I am pretty set on leaving. This company has a definite, short runway and its current product will not, I believe, meet the performance demands the business needs of it. That would mean I’ll be out of a job regardless of how I feel about it by end of this year, early next. Regardless, there’s not much I can do to lessen my role as there are no peers or near-peers who can handle it. Part is just the consequence of being a small company with outsized goals, in that everyone is stretched. The second part is that the company undervalues marketing until it doesn’t have it (see: maternity leave, where I had to cut it short because they needed a certain number of new users and nothing they were doing was bringing any in) and there’s only me and one very junior associate handling all of it. We can and we have handled it, but it’s disgruntling to be so important and so undervalued at the same time.

        Good tip on the grocery delivery! I forget the perks of living in a major metro sometime.

    2. DuendeReal*

      Have you considered delaying job-searching a little while, or taking something else off your plate? Job-searching is nearly a full-time job in and of itself, and although I’m not a parent, I found it really challenging to juggle my current job with my job search last year. Can’t imagine how stressful it would be to be working, have a new baby, *and* be intensively job-searching. Also, don’t beat yourself up for not getting any offers yet…it’s normal for the process to take months, sometimes years. Be kind to yourself — this would be a tough situation for anyone, and you’re doing the best you can.

      1. Trying (and failing) to have it all*

        I went into this a little in my reply to Moira above, but the job situation needs resolving sooner rather than later. You aren’t kidding about it being a full-time job itself, though. I was really stressing out the week I had multiple phone screens, an in person, and a phone interview on TOP of being back at work full-time again!

        Thank you for the reminder about accepting that I’m human. :) If you can’t tell, I’ve been high achieving my whole life and it’s killing me that I’m hitting a wall where my “enough” isn’t “good enough” anymore.

    3. animaniactoo*

      Right now it sounds like you might need to consider options it doesn’t sound like you are. You put the daycare in place because it was all that was available, and while you love it/them, is it possible to continue to look for less expensive but still good and reliable childcare?

      Is it possible to change up your job so that you can do one day less of day care and would that make a difference in the day care cost? What about husband’s options on that front?

      1. Trying (and failing) to have it all*

        The trouble with the expensive daycare is it’s run like a private school. As such, we’re on the hook for a year of tuition which we pay on a monthly basis. Were we to pull out, we’d have to pay a portion of the remaining balance we owe. We do actually have a back up option that has an opening, but the opening isn’t until the end of August, our break fee with our current school would be close to $7k, and it would take until early 2018 for the savings to balance out the costs of moving.

        Unfortunately the part-time options for care aren’t appreciably cheaper. We have discussed husband becoming house husband but, ultimately, his sanity (and mine) depend on him working. I’m also the one bringing home 70% of our income so I definitely can’t leave work.

        In case it helps shape the picture, we’re in the SF Bay Area. Rents are high, daycare costs are high AND care is hard to secure, jobs are plentiful and pay well but also extremely demanding, etc.

        1. animaniactoo*

          I would take a harder look at moving to the other day care IF you feel that it really would suit your needs. 6-7 months break even on something that you’re probably going to be using for at least 3 years is a decent setup.

          And if it really made sense, it would lessen a lot of the stress on you in your job search not just to find another job, but to find another job with a particular price tag attached.

    4. Another Mom*

      I think your name says it all – sometimes it feels like we’re set up to fail when we try to have it all! I also just came back (to a disaster) after maternity leave, have my baby in daycare that is too expensive and am overworked and underappreciated in a career I loved previously. The only thing that’s helped me (while I search for new jobs …) is to focus 100% on being at work when I’m at work and focus 100% on being at home when I’m at home. I don’t check email outside of my work hours, but I’m also not constantly calling the daycare to check up on the baby while I’m at work. Before I made that commitment to myself, I felt like I was never doing my best at work or at home, which made me feel even worse! So I’d suggest drawing that boundary between “work” and “home” with a super thick black Sharpie. Good luck to you!!

      1. Trying (and failing) to have it all*

        That’s really good advice, and I think I need to take a hard look at it because the first thing that came to mind was “I would, but.” I had to stop myself there and recognize that’s not healthy – as you say, splitting energy like that makes everything less effective.

        Thank you – and good luck to you, too!

    5. SemiRetired*

      it sounds like your job search is more in the normal range this time and it stresses you out because you haven’t experienced it before. It may help to frame it in your head as normal, similar to AAM advice to let it go after the interview rather than perseverate on the possibilities. Have you ever really looked for a job before or have they mostly found you? It may be that a majority of rejections is standard when you are actively looking.

      1. Trying (and failing) to have it all*

        You’re right, it’s definitely stressful because it’s new to me. It’s a control thing, mostly, I imagine: I’ve gotten where I am because I am VERY good at taking control, and I really hate it when I’m not in control, and so much is out of my hands at this stage. The job search should have been and historically was something I had a great deal of control over, and that’s been wrested away from me at this critical point as well.

        I do regularly get contacted by recruiters rather than doing blind applications, and I have a mix of those this time around. Nothing in particular about this round has changed except that 1) I am in a more senior role, which comes down to whiffy subjective stuff over job ability; 2) I have this new kidthing and I’m sure my sleep deprivation is not doing my interview skills any favors.

        Thank you for the perspective check!

    6. Thinking out loud*

      This might be a long reply – I have lots of thoughts on this topic. My background, for what it’s worth: I have a four year old son. When he was born, I took five months off, and then we got a nanny. When he was about a year old, the nanny moved to another state and my husband chose to stay home with our son. I’m 25 weeks pregnant with a new baby, and I expect that my husband will continue to stay home with her. I did make more than my husband when he quit his job, but I would guess that it was more like a 55/45 or 60/40 split.

      My first thought is that entry-level jobs tend to be easier to get, where mid-level career jobs tend to be more difficult. So my guess is that you’re still awesome but you’re seeing a higher rejection rate that’s totally normal at this point in your career and feeling like it reflects on you – my guess is that it doesn’t. So please be patient if you’re really attached to getting a new job.

      Do you have the money to make the expensive child care work until you can transfer to something cheaper? (I think you said above that you have another option coming available in August, which really isn’t that long from now.) If your husband actively wants to stay home and that seems like an option that would help (or at least not hurt) from a financial standpoint, I’d recommend that you consider it – there are tons of great things about having a parent at home. But it’s REALLY HARD to be the stay at home parent, too, and if he doesn’t want to, I’d strongly encourage against having him do it. My guess is he’d end up miserable.

      Next – it feels like you don’t really want a new job at all. It sounds to me as if you are concerned about being able to afford the expensive day care because you had to go back to your job sooner than you were planning. Can you talk with your boss and see if working from home 3 or 4 days a week would be acceptable until August?

      In general, you will find that it’s REALLY HARD to compare yourself to the worker you were pre-mom and also compare yourself to the other moms you meet, many of whom (in my experience) are stay at home moms. You WILL believe that you’re bad at BOTH jobs (and maybe as a wife sometimes, too). Try not to let this stuff get to you – when you were splitting your time between two things (being a wife and a worker), you were good at both. Now you’re purposefully trying to do more – be kind to yourself. I try really hard to schedule my day and then focus on one thing – I get up early and go to work and try to focus on work while I’m there. When I’m hanging out with my son, I try to focus on him without checking work e-mails or reading the news on my phone (physically putting the phone somewhere else in the house helps with this), and after my son is in bed, I try to do chores and hang out with my husband.

    7. Emmie*

      Your bar for job changing is very high. I mean this very very kindly…. its – as you probably know – not realistic to find a job that meets your needs so quickly, and I am sorry. You’re at a place in your life where personality fit and other benefits are far more important than when you were earlier in your career. And it takes time to find the right fit. If your search has gone on some time without hits, it may make sense to revisit your resume. It might also help if you set a goal for yourself like “I’m going to apply for the four most interesting jobs I see this week and that’s it. I’ll knock my resume and cover letter out of the park the best I can.” At this point in your career, it sounds like you value more than a paycheck. It will come.
      I won’t pretend to know what it’s like to have a new baby and to be the breadwinner. It sounds like you have a few things with maximum stress and changes happening now. Whenever I go through those periods, it helps to have a few things on auto pilot like go-to work outfits, similar dinners. Maybe too revist all of your responsibilities with your husband. Figure out what a realistic division of responsibilities are. I’m a high achiever and tend to take on a lot of responsibilities. You might have those tendencies too. What can he do more of? If this applies to you: you probably do a lot of things very well …. accept that some things might be average. That’s totally fine. I’m still working on this. I call myself an average cook. It helps me lower my standards for cooking. I’m really rooting for you though all of this change / life evolution. You seem accepting about your job, and that’s super special.

  29. Excel Geek*

    I am hiring an entry level financial analyst and I need them to come in at a minimum excel skill level. Non-negotiable is being able to do vlookups and pivot tables as it is impossible to function without them in my department.
    I have devised a very simple test for candidates to take which involves both and should take under 5 minutes if you know what you’re doing.
    Is there anything I need to be concerned about with administering this as the last part of their interview? From a legal perspective or something else I may be missing? I have a slew of candidates coming in next week.

    1. Emily*

      There’s a company called IBM Kenexa that creates an Excel test for job candidates. I’ve taken it in the past for a temp position. Looking at that might help ensure that your test includes all the categories/areas of Excel you want the person to understand.

      You can Google their test and watch a sample on YouTube, it’s called Kenexa Prove It Tutorial.

      1. tiny temping teapot*

        The downside to Kenexa is that every temp agency I’ve applied to and a few of the jobs use it. I’ve taken it enough times it’s not so much a great gauge of my Excel skills but how well I know Kenexa. Some of your applicants might be the same.

        Also, if I recall the test correctly, there’s only one vlookup question, so your test might be better. (I do great on Kenexa, vlookup is my huge weakness on excel.)

        1. Excel Geek*

          So googling Kenexa Prove It Test Excel brought up a bunch of people providing answers to the test- and interestingly can’t find a site where I could actually buy (I assume I have to buy) the test. That said, I have no budget for buying a test anyway.
          I am pretty confident the test I made up will show me if my candidate has the excel skills I need, but do I open myself up to any liability using it?

        2. AMT*

          My wife took one of those while applying to a job and it scored her wrong because she used keyboard shortcuts (or didn’t use them? I remember it being something ridiculous). This was during an easy task she obviously knew how to do. I’ve seen similar stories on the internet. If OP can do it in person with a real Excel spreadsheet, that would probably be best.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I’ll second the recommendation for Prove It testing. The full Excel test includes vlookups and pivot tables.

    3. Ciscononymous*

      I think legally the only thing you might want to do is let candidates know that the test is coming in advance and to let you know if they need accommodations in order to take it.

      1. Excel Geek*

        Thanks! The recruiter let them know the test was coming, but good call about the accommodations!

    4. finman*

      I did one that included a handful of tasks that measured their level of excel competence for my financial analyst. It sealed the deal on one of the employees (every single thing I asked them to do was in their google search history). The person I hired was able to get through 85% of what I had asked.

  30. Kiki*

    People with multiple jobs– how do you balance the workload while still getting enough sleep?

    Due to a medical issue, my husband has had to stop working for the time being. My full time job’s income is not enough to provide for us both during this time, so I took on two part time positions. One I can do from home and just have to submit the work by the deadline, but the other is specific shifts on nights and weekends. I’ve been working these jobs for 3 months and I can tell my lack of sleep is impacting my work at my full time job. I’m groggy all the time and it’s hard to focus.

    Any advice on how to not let my quality of work suffer during this time?

    1. animaniactoo*

      What can you let slide in your personal life? Particularly something that feels more like a chore than a joy? Is there a balance where your husband can pick up more home life stuff for now?

      Currently my husband can’t work (really more like looking for work is an issue in his current condition) due to medical issues, and I haven’t done laundry or dishes in months. It helps a lot.

    2. Trying (and failing) to have it all*

      I find it helpful to be very, very clear about tasks and priorities. In that way, I’m able to identify areas that aren’t mission critical and, in times of stress, let those pass in favor of performing well on the items that ARE mission critical.

      I’m currently in the gauntlet for testing this (see my comment in this thread about it, but new mom, full-time job, job searching all at once) but it has helped me remove the emotion from being exhausted in the past.

    3. krysb*

      When I worked a heavy workload with multiple jobs, I worked at my job Monday – Friday, 4pm – midnight, in retail Wednesday – Friday, 8am – 2pm and Saturday & Sunday 3pm – midnight, and a third job Monday & Tuesday 9am – 2pm. Added to this was a long commute. I slept from around 2am until 7am.

      When my workload was lighter with multiple jobs, I worked my job Monday – Friday 8am to 4pm, in retail during weekdays from 6pm to 11pm and random hours on weekends. I was usually in bed around midnight-ish and woke up at around 5am because of the commutes.

      This is why I alarms do not wake me up anymore.

    4. Candy*

      I work two jobs (one fulltime 8 hrs/day 5 days/week and one on-call) and the best way to keep my sanity is that I only accept 4-hour shifts from my on-call work. Working that sixth or seventh day in a row is much easier if it’s just a quick 10-2pm shift and I still have the rest of my day to relax, see friends, do errands, etc. If the hours of your work-from-home job are flexible, maybe try working at it for just four hours at a time before taking a break for the day so you’re not doing a full 8 hours every day?

  31. BadPlanning*

    Last year, my job implemented a new review/goal system. I was reviewing my goals with my manager and there were a couple points where he commented, “Make this thing look more like teapots” when I previously had it looking like teapots and had changed it on previous comments to look like saucers.

    Fortunately, he’s the type of manager where I can just say, “Oh, I changed it based on your previous comments. I thought this is what you wanted” and he’s a good sport about it. Like, “Oh, well, I guess I meant teapots with some saucers, but not only saucers.”

    1. JulieBulie*

      I HATE that!!!!!

      “This should be red”
      “Make this blue”
      “Why is this blue? It should be red”

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I repeat back to them what they are saying. “So you are saying make this look like saucers, right?”
      Then when they tell me to make it look like teapots, I say, “I even double checked when you said saucers. Remember, I repeated it back to you so I could be sure to have it right. Now I am worried that I have accidentally wasted the company’s time on saucers.”

      I find it very discouraging to work this way. It makes me feel like my effort was a waste.

  32. Roseberriesmaybe*

    I asked a friend of mine, “Esme”, from my old job (retail) to informally recommend/ put in a good word for my partner at the job. My partner is currently working in retail and the hours/pay at my old job are better than what he’s getting now, so that’s why I asked Esme. I think Esme is offended?? I said she didn’t have to do it if she was uncomfortable with it, but she hasn’t texted me back to say yes or no. She hasn’t met my partner before (because of the sh1tty hours I mentioned…) but she knows of him, we’re in frequent contact anyway, and this is the first favour I’ve asked of her. What should I say to her? I didn’t mean to offend her if that is indeed what I did

    1. Sadsack*

      How can she put in a good word for someone she doesn’t know and has never worked with? What exactly would she say about him? She is probably wondering this herself. I’d just let this go. I wouldn’t be too worried about if she is offended or not. I wouldn’t be offended, just confused as to what I might be expected to say. Don’t ask again and don’t apologize, just let it go.

    2. fposte*

      Well, you don’t know if she’s offended or not, but I don’t think it’s fair to ask somebody to recommend a person they’ve never met; that would be her putting her professional reputation on the line for him, so she’s not likely to want to risk that with an unknown quantity. I would send her a text saying “Sorry, I realize I put you in a bad position there since you don’t know Bob. Please forget I asked.”

      And even if she feels like she could say no, it can be uncomfortable just to be asked. I wouldn’t do it unless I was pretty sure the person would be comfortable with it–which pretty much means people your partner knows well enough to ask himself.

    3. roseberriesmaybe*

      I should clarify that it is a thing that frequently happened in my old job when they are looking for temporary staff for the summer months, people mentioning that their sister/friend/friend’s mother’s niece was applying. If I thought it was going to jeopardise Esme’s position or standing in any way, I would not have asked her! I do see how the question might have made it uncomfortable for her to refuse to me though

      1. Honeybee*

        I don’t think it matters. I mean, it depends on the job, but if I said to my manager or a team member hiring someone “Hey, my friend’s husband is applying to the Teapot Maker position,” their next question is going to be “Oh, what do you know about them? Experience, credentials, are they a good fit for the job?” If my response is “Oh, I don’t know them at all, I just wanted to mention it,” my teammate is at best going to think I’m kind of strange. Connections and networking really only works if you personally know/have met the person.

        I have even mentioned people I didn’t know all that well but who I have met and at least talked to in person – from the standpoint of “I don’t know this person’s work style or ethic, but their qualifications seem to match the role we’re looking for and they seemed to be a normal/lovely human being.” But I can’t imagine simply mentioning someone I had never even met and that carrying any sort of weight in the process.

    4. Ciscononymous*

      I agree that the discomfort probably stems from not having met him. She can’t speak to his work ethic, reliability or really anything else that a manager would want to know, and so she might be worried about getting asked these follow-up questions and having to say, “Oh, I don’t actually know Mr. Roseberries…”
      I mentioned at my first job that my sister was going to apply there and the first thing they asked was “Does she work as well as you do?” Definitely put me on the spot.

  33. Raise Reservations*

    I have a performance review next week which I am both excited an nervous about. I’ve taken on a lot of new projects, and excelled so I am expecting it to go well. Since my role has expanded so rapidly over the past year, I’m planning on asking for a pretty substantial raise, about 20%. I’ve done research into similar jobs and what they pay and this is actually the lower end of the market rate, and even though I know I deserve this salary range I still feel a little crazy for asking. Am I crazy? I’ve read a lot of the articles here about negotiating salary, and I know I have the results to back it up, but I’m a little worried about looking out of touch. Does anyone have any advice, or success stories to share in negotiating large raises?

    1. IT_Guy*

      The amount that you are wanting is more in the line of what _could_ be offered in a promotion. Most companies don’t do that large of raises.

      Good luck though!

    2. Rosamond*

      If your job has really changed so much that it’s a different and more senior role, I’d say you could try, but know that 20% is the high end of what’s likely. If your performance is great and you’ve taken on additional responsibilities, but you’re still doing essentially the same job, then 20% is probably out of the range – 10% would be high.

    3. Workitywork*

      I successfully negotiated a 20% raise. It was after covering for my boss for a month and going over the tasks I had accomplished. She was like, is there anything else? I said, yeah I’m being paid incredibly undermarket. I asked for a 30% raise. She said she’d see what she could do, but that she had never seen raises that high although I deserved it. It took months of research and rewriting my job description to match what I actually do. I had been a high performer for a year and a half before that.

  34. costume teapot*

    How long is too long to work in a tangentially related field? (As in, what I’m doing now is fully a part of my intended career path in which I have a degree and license, but my career path is not fully what I am doing now.)

  35. JustaTech*

    How many times can you reach out to a potential networking contact? Someone you don’t know directly but you’ve been connected to by a mutual acquaintance? Is it only once, or if they don’t get back to you can you give it a month or two and try again?

    1. costume teapot*

      I’d follow up once if they don’t answer and then drop it. Sometimes emails get hectic and it’s OK to reach out and say “Hey, wanted to make sure this didn’t slip by you but if you’re too busy I understand.”

  36. Anon, obvs.*

    How do you screw your attention to the sticking place, and keep doing good, conscientious, detail-oriented work when your heart’s not in it, but you’re too close to burn-out to have the energy for a job search?

    1. Emi.*

      I find it helpful to schedule breaks into my day, and get tea and do something else for a bit. Maybe breathing exercises? I’m sorry, that sucks.

    2. animaniactoo*

      Figure out how you can reward yourself for powering through. Is it a dedicated block of guilty-pleasure tv watching this weekend? Is it making plans to meet up with someone? Is it an extra cookie? What can you give yourself in return?

      Also, examine your work process – is there a way that you can change it up to build in some breather breaks as small rewards and then being able to pick back up with renewed focus? Is it worthwhile to tackle a harder task first while you’re fresh, and then it won’t feel so onerous to go ahead and complete an easier task after?

      1. Anon, obvs.*

        I’m probably taking too many breaks. I’ll admit it’s hard to tear myself away from the news feed these days. I’m definitely distracted, and that’s contributing to small, stupid errors. But when I shut down the distractions, I’m left with… THIS is what I’m doing with my life!? On the other hand, we have damned fine health insurance, so…

        1. animaniactoo*

          Tell me if this sounds crazy: You pick up a cause or goal outside of work and start to actively work on that a half hour a day/one day a week/whatever works. And can then see the job and the mundane work as the thing that funds your ability to do the other?

          1. Anon, obvs.*

            Great suggestion. It’s true, when I’ve had a big creative project going outside of work, it’s been easier to roll with the punches. Time to dust off the old novel?

            1. SwitchyWitchy*

              I now picture you as that guy from Rick and Morty, the guy in the lighthouse in the Purge episode.

              “as long as you listen to my tale.”

    3. NaoNao*

      Any way to focus on the people you’ll be helping with your work, even if it’s just colleagues?
      Another tip I find helpful is to make to-do lists, even very small ones. Checking off lists feels great.
      If you can listen to music, save new/favorite playlists for the work or the hardest tasks.
      Give yourself rewards—small food treats, browsing a fave site, a quick walk outdoors in the sun, a chat with a fave colleague.

      1. Anon, obvs.*

        Yeah, when I’m helping a colleague, I’m THERE. Right now my manager is someone who… leaves me to come up with my own motivations. But (as is her right) points out any errors.

    4. OtterB*

      I’ve been having ongoing problems with focus/procastination issues.The Pomodoro technique seems to be working well for me. You set a timer and work intensively for some amount of time (the classic is 20 minutes – I find that’s too short for me but 30 to 40 is usually about right) and then take a short break. (I use that to stretch, maybe go get a glass of water, check personal email or something else online.) Then start in on the next work/break cycle. There’s something about knowing that I’m working for a set, not too long, amount of time that focuses me on getting as much done in that time as I can.

    5. Beancounter Eric*

      A good cup of tea to start.

      Do you have some leave available? Take a break, get away from work, and don’t even think about the place, finding new job, etc. Get out of town if the situation permits.

      I also second the other comments.

      1. Anon, obvs.*

        I’ve been joking that I need 2 months in a monastery. Yesterday, actually, I took a first step and did a 4 hour “silent retreat.” It was WONDERFUL. More more more.

    6. writelhd*

      Sometimes it’s just time to cash in the vacation hours and go somewhere fun and cool. That dosen’t solve the long term but it can really help.

    7. curmudgeon*

      me too.
      I start a task, get a phone call and have to do something else. On my way to do that, something else is thrown my way that I have to deal with that moment, and then the phone rings again and I have to take care of that (my job involves answering the phones so I can’t ignore it). Then as I’m starting to do the thing I started doing at the beginning of my day, something else has to be dealt with and I still can’t get back to the one thing I needed to do today.
      Then in my review I get blasted for time management failure & lack of efficiency & failure to get projects to other departments in a timely manner. At one point I was assigned to do 3 different things in literally 3 different places all at the same time. Any time I’ve pointed out this problem, I’m told that I need to get it done.

      No wonder I’m contemplating a nervous breakdown…..

  37. MLiz*

    I would like to have some input/opinions on job hopping.

    My situation is thus, I’ve been freelancing all through university and have been keeping it up until now; it’s very low key, but it keeps me in contact with people and it keeps up a skillset that’s useful (my CV reflects over a decade of this). I also had a contract when and where I got my PhD, it is however very obvious that the PhD is connected to the position, and also super common in my field (almost 4 years).

    I was recently laid off due to extreme downsizing, and I was in that position (my first after grad school) less than a year. My CV reflects that it was a layoff.

    While I can afford to be unemployed (in my field) for a little while, I’d rather keep the time to a minimum, maybe a month or two. The problem is that the market isn’t really offering what I want right now, and even though I’m working with a recruiter, the offers are, especially location and money wise, not what I want. Fall/winter is a better time to look for a job in what I do because of budgetary reasons.

    Now my question, would it look very bad, in a job-hoppy sort of sense, to take a position relatively quickly but keep looking for something in a location and salary bracket that is better for me? I don’t want to scare any potential employers off by such short stays in positions, but I also don’t want to be stuck where I’m unhappy. Or should I bite the bullet and take a position for 2 years and bide my time? I already turned down one place for a second interview because the first round was 2 h of stress questions (ONLY stress questions, starting with tearing apart my CV from the time I was in secondary school!) and the first thing out of anyone’s mouth about the position was “we work a lot”; I made it through a very rough PhD that gave me anxiety and PTSD-like symptoms, and while I’m aware that every job on that level has a stressful component, I don’t need to go into this wide-eyed stupid.

    (Every job I take includes a move, since I don’t want to move house completely due to expenses so often, I’d probably try to find something furnished and sublet my current apartment.)

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      You mentioned that you were freelancing you got laid off at some point, but it’s a bit unclear to me what your job history looks like right now. There’s nothing wrong with job-hopping if you do it once.

      In other words, does it look like this?
      4 years doing some contract work related to PhD
      1 year at whatever job you’re about to get that you’ll leave for something better

      If so, I wouldn’t stress about it, as long as the job you leave the 1-year job for you end up staying at for at least 3 years.

      1. MLiz*

        Work history looks like this:

        10 years freelancing
        4 years PhD contract work
        <1 year Job (laid off)

        searching now (still doing freelancing to be able to pay what doesn't come from the emergency fund, but rent+food is no issue for a little while) and this is the one I'd leave for something better. My worry is the <1 year and then whatever job I'll get.

        Thanks for your input :)

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Honestly, that doesn’t look bad at all. You get one free pass (the <1 year job you got laid off from) on your résumé, so as long as you stay at your next job for 3+ years, you should be good going forward.

          1. Natalie*

            IMO they’ve used zero of their free passes. “Job hopping” isn’t any short tenure regardless of context – it’s a pattern of voluntarily leaving long term gigs after a short period of time. Leaving through no fault of one’s own (layoff, company closed) and jobs that were meant to be short term don’t count.

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              Whether something “counts” or not is up to the hiring manager, not necessarily logic. Many hiring managers bring their own unconscious biases and prejudices into play in selecting résumés, whether what their judgments make sense or not.

              Leaving through no fault of your own shouldn’t be any reflection on you as a candidate, but it often can be.

              And, yes, it’s a free pass if it’s only once and not a pattern—that was my point. If you have three consecutive jobs that were all one-year stints, many employers aren’t going to care whether those were layoffs or voluntary departures.

              1. MLiz*

                Hm yes, I do see your point.

                I will take it into account for sure, I’ll need to see what I can do. Very common is also to be the maternity replacement (usually 1 year here), but they can’t always keep you on. Of course it would be weird to have a string of this with different companies in different locations, especially since it usually takes a good while to get a good overview.

                This layoff is so annoying.

              2. Natalie*

                I don’t think it’s common to hold layoffs against people, even if you do have several in a row. That said, this may be field dependent – I know a lot of people in fields where layoffs are routine, so it would be literally impossible to hold it against a candidate.

                Regardless, even if it’s possible that a hiring manager will hold a layoff against a person, I don’t think it’s a useful thing to worry about since it’s 100% out of the employee’s control.

                1. MLiz*

                  It’s not necessarily routine in my field, but IF it happens, then it happens big and there’s absolutely nothing anyone can do about it. It’s uncommon enough that I will be asked about it in interviews for sure, but I’m not in a position to know what was the reason and who did what wrong to cause this or what have you.

    2. Natalie*

      I think it depends on whether or not the immediate position is in your field or not.

      If you take an out-of-field job (retail, warehouse, temping, whatever), you probably don’t need to explain why you are still looking for something in your field. Most people will understand you took WhateverJob to pay the bills. (Even if you don’t strictly need it to pay the bills, they’ll just assume that’s why.)

      It’s far less understandable if you’re thinking of taking the first Teapots job you get offered and then continuing to look for a better Teapots job. “This job is fine but kind of blah so I’m not giving it a chance” it not a very compelling reason to keep your job search active and will make you look flighty and not terribly reliable to the next employer. Usually when people look immediately or soon after taking a job, it’s becaue of something a bit more extreme than “I can do better”.

      1. MLiz*

        Yes, this is precisely what I’m a bit worried about. The point is, I don’t want to (semi-)permanently move to the other end of the country for family reasons, and at a way below market salary to boot – which is basically the only stuff on the market now in regards to Teapot jobs.

        Thanks for your input, I will definitely take it into consideration before deciding anything.

        1. Natalie*

          In your original question you said “I also don’t want to be stuck where I’m unhappy.” Can you elaborate a little more on where you’d be stuck? I can’t tell if you’re worried about having a job you don’t like, living in a location you don’t like, or having an undermarket salary – or some combination of the above.

          1. MLiz*

            Mostly some combination of the above, but I’m mostly concerned about location to be honest. (The relative job-I-might-hate thing is a holdover from PhD times, which was a world of misery.)

            Location is a huge thing for me though, as I have an ageing parent and a partner I don’t live with, and honestly don’t want to be stuck 5 h or more away for the week, only to have to travel until late Friday night and then leave at some point Sunday afternoon, especially not for several years. I can’t uproot either of them right now for various health and work reasons. Also I was miserable in the city LayoffJob was in, and there I could shuffle my hours so I could be home twice a week (and the weekend), so I know location is a huge factor for me.

            Salary is a concern but a lesser one, since I live very small and can afford to be paid under market for a couple more years if I have to. Sure, getting market value would be nice, but it is a lesser requirement.

  38. LadyofShalott*

    I am 24 weeks pregnant and starting to get serious about whether or not I’ll return to work after my baby is born. The company I work for offers six weeks of paid leave which is standard for our industry. My husband will get 12 weeks paid leave from his company because they rock. Lol.

    My issue is this: my manager has been subtly trying to find out if I am coming back to work after having the baby. I’m honestly not sure what I’m going to do but have been leaning towards coming back because I like my job. However, my company has a new owner and his changes will very negatively change my work life balance. I’m now leaning towards not coming back but haven’t made up my mind.

    My parents have said that I need to tell my manager that I’m changing my mind about coming back to work. My partner and I don’t think that is a good idea but they have been so vehement that I’m starting to doubt myself.

    1. animaniactoo*

      You don’t say a word until you have a definitive answer to the question. If they tell you they have a deadline by which they need an answer, then your time for figuring out the answer is over and you have to pick a side.

      But otherwise – no. Not a word. The strong likelihood is that decisions will be made that will cut off options for you that you are still trying to leave open for yourself while you figure it out. You don’t want to start that process until you know for sure what you want to do.

      1. animaniactoo*

        However, you CAN raise concerns now about how the new owner’s changes will affect the work/life balance and the difficulties that you might have dealing with them and seeing if there are accommodations that could be made, if not permanently then for some period after you return to work, to see if staying is feasible, etc.

        So you’d be broaching it as a conversation about your issues with their changes rather than the change in your life.

    2. Trying (and failing) to have it all*


      Do not count yourself out before you’re out. You are not ready to commit to a change, so don’t commit to a change. I would consider this exactly the same as a job search: you don’t know if you’re going to get that job (stay at home mom), so your office really doesn’t need to know about it before you decide.

    3. Alice*

      Congratulations! I’d tell the truth as it is now —
      Q Are you going to come back?
      A I am planning to come back.
      If your plans change later, they change. Right now, you are planning to come back.

      1. k*

        This this and this. If you change your mind later and they accuse you of lying or ask why you said you were coming back: “At the time I was planning on returning. Since then circumstances have changed and I’ve decided that I will not be returning following my maternity leave. I’ll be available until X date. Here are my ideas on a transition plan…”

    4. Biff*

      I think your parents are wrong. I think it’s perfectly normal to say “well, right now, I think the default plan is to return to work after maternity leave.” Because it is your default plan. Plans can change.

    5. Liane*

      Congratulations on the baby!
      I recall reading a question like that a few weeks ago, for a woman close to her due date, but not sure if it was a recent one or something I ma across in the archives. Either way, try the site search.
      As best I remember, her advice included not saying anything until you were absolutely sure you wouldn’t return, no matter what.
      She also suggested not doing so before the delivery. Certainly not if your insurance is tied to your job and you couldn’t afford COBRA or get on your husband’s coverage. (Not in insurance or benefits, so no idea if spouse voluntarily leaving a job is one of those circumstances where you can change coverage outside of open enrollment.)
      But there’s another important reason. People change their minds about lots of Big Things. There are women who have been **certain** all through pregnancy, maybe even their entire adult life, that they wouldn’t return to work after having a baby–but find within months/weeks that it doesn’t work for them for whatever reason. Conversely, some women realize after the birth that they want/need to stay home. So wait and see how it goes after you have the baby, and not *right* after. Give it time.

      1. Natalie*

        A spouse losing coverage eligibility for any reason is a qualifying event, even if it’s voluntarily leaving a job.

      2. Colette*

        Totally agree. I have a friend who was going to stay home and homeschool her kids – until her first one was born. She found it really tough and went back to work as soon as she could.

    6. HisGirlFriday*

      As Alison has said here previously, parents are banned from giving job advice.

      You do not need to tell your manager anything until you are ready. You may change your mind between now and then. You may change your mind several times between now and then.

      When I was pregnant (last year), I started out convinced I wasn’t coming back to work, then I was sure I was going to want to come back. I went out on maternity leave, had my daughter, and was convinced I could never go back to work EVER because OMG BABY BABY BABY. After a few weeks, I was ready to go back to work because I missed what I do. Toward the end of my maternity leave, I wasn’t ready to go back (but I did), and I’m glad I did.

      When you know for 100% certain what you’re doing, THAT’S when you tell your boss. Not before.

  39. The Sports Reporters*

    TL;DR – How would you deal with possible sexism from people outside your industry?

    Background: My husband works full-time at a radio station as the sports director while I work there part time as a sports producer. (Fancy term of me being the one back at the studio operating the broadcast board while he’s out in the field doing play-by-play for HS sports) In the past year and a half, I’ve been going out either more with him to help cover larger events, such as state meets, or out by myself to cover something because “things” are happening at the same time at several different sites.

    Two things have happened in the past three months, one last night, that now makes me question whether I’m dealing with some sexism. I was along for the state wrestling meet a couple of months ago, and was taking pictures matside to post on the station’s website and use in social media. I’m only using my phone (no budget for a fancy camera) but I have a credential around my neck, and I’m knelt down by the mat farthest from the media entrance. In the middle of the match, an official pokes me in the shoulder, hard, just about where you would perform the Vulcan neck pinch/grip. I look up and start hearing him ask if I had a credential. Slightly incredulous, I held up my badge, and he replies “Oh, sorry. Didn’t see it.”

    Now, just last night, both the husband and I were at a state qualifying track meet. A new twist this year is now the radio station has sponsors for a daily video package showing area competitors at the state track meet. I’ll be the one shooting video, but it’s been a few years, so I was out practicing with the camera. No credentials, the ticket takers just waved us through for this meet. I’m on the infield, standing next to the husband, camera in hand, and once again I’m approached by a school official, asking if I’m a mom. (As in, mom of competitor) *sigh* No, I’m media. This actually upset my husband. “Did he ask the guy with the [Insert local HS] t-shirt on if he was a dad?” (Said t-shirt guy had a long-lensed camera, so he probably looked more official)

    So if something like this happens again, and my brain actually registers it as slightly sexist, do I say something in the moment to that person? Let an official know? Roll my eyes once again to people not understanding I’m a female that not only “gets” sports, but also “gets” sports broadcasting?

    1. Alice*

      It sounds frustrating. But it sounds like the assumption might be “this person without professional camera equipment is probably not a journalist” (instead of “this person who is a woman is probably not a journalist”).

      Now, the official poking you — I’d have a big problem with that. Whether someone’s a journalist or not, there’s no reason to poke people!

      1. Chaordic One*

        It’s the Vulcan neck grip in the first scenario that I think is sexist. I can’t believe he’d grab a man like that.

    2. Emi.*

      I don’t think you really have anything reportable-as-sexism, unless the same official questions you repeatedly and not any of the men. But you could go to a higher-up official and say that their people keep treating you like a parent when you’re media, so they should implement some kind of “don’t Vulcan-neck-poke the photographer” training. (Actually, they shouldn’t Vulcan-neck-poke the mothers, either, so you should probably point that out too.)

      If you want to be left alone, could you get t-shirts that say “WTPT Teapots Broadcasting” in big letters, or something?

      1. The Sports Reporters*

        I do have a polo, but only one. (Didn’t wear it last night because of being at other part time job earlier that day. Plus, at the time, I was wearing a jacket)

        Pokey guy got me day 2 of the wrestling meet, and I believe I wore the polo day 1. (The meet is held far enough out of town that we stay in a hotel, so no laundry) I’m wary to ask for another/more because we’re looking to change jobs very soon.

        I know the official last night was trying to do his job, and I’m sure they’ve had their fair share of parents try to get where they shouldn’t be…believe me. Probably the combination of me just wanting to roll my eyes, plus my husband’s reaction tainted my view.

        1. Wheezy Weasel*

          Armband credential holders might be useful. I see these on airport baggage handlers and photogs at major sporting events, and they should be visible without the security team having to visually search around people’s front/waist area. As someone that had that job in the past, it’s difficult to do this discreetly and even more difficult to challenge people to visually display their credentials when their outfit might be obscuring it, or they have camera gear on their neck that interferes with the creds.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Meh… No, not specifically I don’t think. Regarding the camera/mom thing, I’d have to think this actually happens all the time and they’re used to having to remove parents from the field (plus as you said other guy had professional camera). Poking official, no, that is not cool to poke people, but I don’t really read it as being overly sexist.
      I think what might help you is to keep your press pass highly visible somewhere like a hat, lanyard, etc. and yes, perhaps have a more professional equipment setup other than a phone. Even a normal camera with a tripod carries more weight because you will then generally be questioned BEFORE you enter. Also, I think as you do this more, the officials might get to know who you are and you will be questioned less often.

    4. Ashley*

      I find company branded clothing / jackets help. When you do have credentials you could have them on your back when you are going in for photos maybe to be overly obvious.

    5. Princess Carolyn*

      I’ve worked a bit in sports journalism and my call is this: You’re probably dealing with inadvertent sexism. These folks have a preconceived notion about what a sports journalist looks like, and you don’t match it. But if they’re not giving you any guff when they realize you are media, you probably need to let it go. Your feelings are still valid, but I don’t think the situation is actionable until you’ve had trouble with the same person more than once, or until you get some blowback even after making it apparent that you’re media.

      I suspect you’re not the only journalist using an iPhone these days, but there really isn’t much to distinguish you from a parent when you don’t have fancy equipment (though I swear some parents have nicer cameras than media now!).

      I also take issue with the poking, though. wtf

    6. Student*

      What different outcome do you want from these encounters?

      If you are looking to counter the sexism, explaining calmly that you are a member of the media is the best thing you can do. It’s a polite but very clear message; it avoids setting them up to be defensive (so they might accept the new information instead of rejecting it) and allows you to do your job effectively.

      If you want to vent by telling them they are jerks and you resent the sexist assumptions baked into their questions, that’s your right, but I personally doubt that will (1) make the questioners re-evaluate their outlook (2) actually make you feel better to get off your chest. I think you’re probably better off grumbling about it to your husband and other colleagues and friends to vent effectively, or tell it as a funny story to others later if it makes good material. You are risking blow-back for very little gain by being more confrontational when the incident isn’t actually impeding your job; you can’t control or predict how the other person is going to respond and I think most responses you get will not make you feel better. By all means, get louder and meaner if someone undermines you or actually tries to remove you, though, where there is a clear reward for the risks of unpredictable public responses.

    7. KR*

      I’ve often found that women in low-budget media are treated like this. I used to oversee public access and government TV channels. Often I was asked if this were a school project, if I was doing this for fun, if I was an employee or if this was a club, ect – with a camera crew reporting to me, uniforms, reasonably expensive camcorders, tripods, and various audio equipment that the average Jane wouldn’t have hanging around her house. People wouldn’t treat me with the same level of professionalism and courtesy that they would treat me boss. It was frustrating. I would keep it polite and breezy -“No, I’m a member of the media.” “Actually, I’m here with [Radio Station] covering the match.” but ice them out a little – don’t answer a lot of questions, don’t feel obligated to prove that you’re a member of the media, don’t say “It’s okay.” if they apologize, and quickly return back to what you’re doing when they bother you. That usually worked for me to convey that they kind of p!ssed me off without being rude or confrontational.

    8. Thlayli*

      honestly i think it’s “fancy camera-ism” rather than sexism. If I saw someone taking photos with a phone I would assume they were a spectator /parent not a reporter. And if I saw someone taking photos with a fancy camera right up close to the ring I would assume they were a reporter. Gender wouldn’t come into it at all.

      The badge probably wasn’t visible in the angle you were at beside the ring so you probably did just look like a spectator out of bounds. That doesn’t excuse the guy being violent to you without even asking you if you had permission, but I don’t see any reason to assume he would have been less violent to someone who looked like a male spectator who was out of bounds.

      Exact same thing on the infield – the official was assuming you were a spectator out of bounds and assuming the guy with the professional camera was a professional.

      If you are looking for scripts to use I would tend towards “my company is too cheap to pay for a professional camera so I just look like an over eager spectator but what can you do *roll eyes*”, rather than bringing sexism into it.

      1. Thlayli*

        And I second the idea of getting a cheap over vest with company name emblazoned on it.

  40. not really a lurker anymore*

    My spouse resigned on Monday. The big boss and the grandboss were talking so he walked in, closed the door and resigned. 2+ hours later, he left the room agreeing to stay. The first 30 minutes or so, my spouse was steadfast in “My last day will be X” and they switched gears. Started talking about problems, concerns, issues, etc. After 90 minutes of that, they reached a deal where my spouse is staying. New job title, big salary boost and a bigger retention bonus.

    My spouse is convinced that the company will not eliminate him, fire him or replace him. I’m not so sure myself.

    What signs should we be watching for/may be apparent about this relationship going south?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I think it’s hard to say given what information we have. What happened in those 90 minutes? What was the agreement?

      That said, in general, Alison advises (and I and many others agree with her) that it’s generally not a good idea to accept a counter-offer, precisely because of the concerns you brought up. Even if they fight to keep him now, they may not fight to keep him if they’re looking to do layoffs at some point or if someone else comes up who may be a good candidate for the position, because they knew at some point he was willing to leave. That may not seem fair, but that’s likely the truth.

      1. not really a lurker anymore*

        It’s a smallish company, under 100 people. He’s the only person currently employed there capable of doing what he does. Replacing him would not be easy, cheap or something they would be able to do quietly/without him being aware. He’s also a long term employee; due to a variety of circumstances, him resigning (or being fired/laid off) would probably start a quiet job search/exodus.

        The conversation covered a LOT. From what he told me, they discussed and resolved a lot of his concerns and problems. The agreement was in writing. The big boss took notes and circled back to review some of the topics they covered. He feels heard and valued. And yeah, the question of “why didn’t you do this before we got to this point?” came up and was addressed to his satisfaction.

        He’s positive the company will not show him the door. I think he’s safe for a minimum of 18 months, due to the current projects he’s working on now and a few in the pipeline.

    2. Cookie*

      If you felt ready to move on, that means you should listen to your intuition and move on. Moreover, all those things they gave him (title, raise, etc.), why didn’t they give those prior to threatening to quit? Is this the only way they’ll ever fix problems, if someone threatens to quit. It’s time for him to move on.

    3. Book Lover*

      Was he resigning because he had accepted another job offer? Did he blow up his reputation with another company?

      I guess the question is whether this is a company where promotions always come through threatening to leave and it has worked out fine for others, or whether they are using this as a temporizing measure while they look for someone to replace him. He’d be the best person to know the answer to that, I think?

      Also, if he really wants to leave, he can just email them and say that he felt uncomfortable with the pressure in person, but on consideration, he is leaving and his last day is –.

  41. Your Weird Uncle*

    I have a coworker who is constantly trying to take over my job. She inherited the title ‘teapot manager’ when our predecessor left, as she (the predecessor) was doing both teapot design and teapot sales. So when I came on board, I was specifically hired for the sales portion while the coworker trying to take over my job, who was an internal hire, retained the ‘teapot manager’ title, but strictly took over the teapot design portion. So, we are both doing equal and mostly separate jobs, but she retained the (informal) manager title. She doesn’t manage people, she manages the process of teapot design.

    I find myself pushing back on her about once a month, asking her directly to stop doing my work. I’ve worked with our manager, who has spoken to her about it. When this happens, she holds back for a while and then something else comes up and I find myself having to have this conversation with her all over again. To make matters worse, she’s been in various roles around the department and people will email or call her directly (I think they think she’s the go-to as her title has the word ‘manager’ in it), and instead of diverting people to me she will either answer questions which relate directly to my job or just pass the information along to me. I’ve asked her MULTIPLE times to direct people to me, and the next time it comes up, it happens again. I’m at my wit’s end! It’s getting to the BEC stage and I’m finding it more difficult to control my temper every time it happens. I want to be a team player and work together, but it’s really difficult when I feel like I’m constantly being undermined. Any advice?

      1. Your Weird Uncle*

        Yes! Although that was when I started, which was about a year and a half ago. I think my folks forget or can’t be bothered to get it right, and her not redirecting them to me only just muddles things. We are very slow to change.

        External folks don’t help either. For instance, she was contacted by an external vendor who has worked with me many, many times in the past. I am pretty sure he looked up our directory and saw, ‘Oh, Teapot Manager, yes, I’ll go with her’. I saw absolute red when she passed his message along to me (both because he should have known to contact me, and also because I suspect she relishes being the one to ‘pass along’ work and advice about how to do my own job). I did ask him to contact me for all teapot sales issues in future, but I simply can’t proactively reach out to every single person who might get in touch with her instead, unfortunately. :(

        I am going to speak to our departmental manager to ask about a title change – I don’t want to downgrade her title, but I’d like us both to have titles that speak more clearly to what roles we each have. I’m not sure how well that’s going to go over.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      One thing I have found helpful is to say, “We have talked about X. You said no more X. And now X is happening again. Why.”

      Sometimes people respond to this conversation, where they would not respond to anything else.

  42. Orange*

    Should I take 2 demanding jobs over the summer for the experience?

    I’m in the summer between my junior and senior year of undergrad. Just finished up my first (unpaid) internship, and they’ve offered to hire me as an independent contractor if the budget allows for it. I’ve also been offered an on-campus summer job. I’m wondering if I should take both, if possible?

    The contracting with my internship company will allow me to work on highly publicly visible projects and expand on the work I’ve already done, which I think I’ll enjoy. It’ll also make for an impressive resume piece, to say that my unpaid internship ended so well they decided to pay me to keep working. I think it also shows initiative, because it requires real investment in the work I’ve done to keep going.

    The on-campus job is just for the summer, but they said they’d keep me longer if they like me. It would pay a third of what the contracting job would, but I’d have the opportunity to network with an entirely new group of people and get experience in a new office. The work would be good technical experience, but would also be repetitive and less creative.

    Assuming internship people have it in the budget to contract me, I wouldn’t start for at least a month, so if I took both jobs, they’d overlap for only about 2 months, because summer campus job starts immediately. Pros: I’d get lots of experience & money. Cons: I would be working 50+ hours a week, have no true summer vacation, and be absolutely exhausted, just like I was this past semester between school and interning.

    Thoughts? I told the summer campus job people I’d get back to them by Tuesday, which is when I think I’ll know for sure if there’s enough money to contract me at my internship.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I wouldn’t. I would take one of the jobs, but not both. Your semester was exhausting and stressful, and who’s to say your next semester won’t be as well? Give yourself a little break over the summer so that you can come back to your studies with energy and focus.

    2. EmilyG*

      I find that periods of exhausting effort usually have big payoffs, but I know that’s not for everyone.

      Do these jobs have schedules that overlap at all? Would the bosses reasonably assume that you only have the job at their organization? You don’t want to accept both and then find that you’re making excuses about your availability and inconveniencing either employer in a way they didn’t expect.

    3. Lissa*

      I would personally do it, but I think this is about your tolerance for 50+ hour workweeks especially during what you thought would be a summer vacation. You know yourself best and if you think your work would suffer at either/both jobs, then it’s probably not a good idea. But for a short term thing there are some major pros, so I would go for it.

    4. 1 Year Out*

      Don’t do both, especially right before your senior year. Senior year is so stressful and important, you don’t want to go into it already burned out. I would stick with the job at your internship for the reasons you listed above, it will look great on your resume and produce a great reference when you go job searching.
      I can speak from experience this will burn you out. In the summer between my freshman and sophomore years i worked as a waitress, and a early morning stock person at a big box store in addition to taking 2 classes at my community college. I was constantly exhausted from the crazy schedule and had a hard time at the start of my sophomore year. If you can get by on the money from the internship job, stick with it. Good luck!

    5. CrazyEngineerGirl*

      I probably wouldn’t do it. But I’d likely want to do the internship and not the campus job because it sounds like more relevant work, but since you don’t know if they have money to hire you yet that may not be feasible.

      Tbh, the BIGGEST reason I wouldn’t do it? This is your last summer vacation. Seriously. Once you’re done with school and are working full time, that’s it. You’ll never get a summer vacation like a school summer vacation ever again. I miss them so very, very much.

    6. justsomeone*

      Take the paid, off campus contract. Don’t do both. I worked crazy hours my final summer before graduation and I regret it immensely. It’s your last opportunity to enjoy a semi-open summer before you jump headlong into the working world where (unless you work somewhere INCREDIBLY flexible) you’ll never get summers off again. (It doesn’t sound like you’re going to be a teacher.)

      Enjoy that freedom and flexibility while you have it. There are plenty of years ahead of you for 50+hr weeks.

    7. Soon-to-be former student*

      First off, congratulations on impressing both of these opportunities–it sounds like you really have it together. I hope that maybe I can contribute because I was recently in somewhat of a similar situation throughout undergrad (I’m now about to graduate and go to a full-time job, which is hopefully where you’ll be in a year. With what you’ve said here, it sounds like you’re doing exactly what you need to do for that!).

      When I was trying to balance stuff like this, I tried to consider:
      (1) Can I fit both of these on my resume? If I take one off, which would it be?
      (2) How could I sell each of these in an interview?

      With your situation specifically, how helpful do you think the on-campus networking would be? Can you use some of the projects at the internship for a portfolio? From what you’ve said here, the internship sounds more valuable both in the short-term (money, interesting work) and the long-term.

      The time consideration is big too. I had some weeks where I did nothing but school, work, and sleep–and they were exhausting and unsustainable. If you’re having misgivings about doing both, you might want to listen to your gut. You know your boundaries. And like a lot of others are saying, this is your last break! It sounds like you’re exhausted already, so it might be a good idea to give yourself some time to heal. It’s great that you’re investing in your future, but it’s good to invest in your health too.

      I bowed out of additional commitments that I was reasonably sure wouldn’t add a whole lot to my resume or that I realized likely would’ve been bumped off the resume anyway. It sounds like you’ll still have plenty to talk about in interviews without having to do both opportunities.

  43. Miss Mack*

    I have 2 issues here.
    First, there’s a huge noise issue I need help with. I’m a marketing writer and would prefer quiet but know that’s not likely to happen in office. I have headphones but my surrounding cube-mates are LOUD! I’m talking noise cancelling headphones, I still hear them clearly. When it’s just social talking, I have no problem asking them to keep it down. However, they’re all sales aka need to be talking on the phone for their jobs. How can I ask them to keep a quieter tone when it’s work related?
    Second, there’s a woman trying to be my work mother. I know Allison’s written about this but there are a lot of younger women in my office who have accepted and validated this woman as such, making it uncomfortable when I tell her that behavior is weird. I have a mother and I love her dearly; I don’t need a mom at work. How can I tell her to cut it out without her “daughters” retaliating? Unrelated, the whole dynamic of it just creeps me out! Are you not adult enough to take care of yourself at work?!

    1. Allison*

      As much as I agree that office mothering is weird and crosses most people’s boundaries, in this case enough young women appreciate it, vocally criticizing it isn’t a good move. Instead, make it clear that you don’t like it and would like her to stop doing it to you. I’m not sure what exactly she’s doing, but something like “I appreciate the concern, but I’m all set, thanks” might work, or “why would you say/do that? we’re both adults here” might be needed.

      1. Miss Mack*

        She is very interested in my personal life, like why aren’t I dating? My lunch doesn’t look healthy today, and odd things like that. I know for a fact she has a biological daughter at home so maybe it’s just a hard habit to kick. I guess my problem is more with her “daughters” than her. I will say I’m fine, don’t worry about me thanks though, etc. But then one of the “daughters” will will make a comment how I’m always rude to this woman. The rest of the day will then have passive-aggressive sighs or comments. I’m a private person, I just don’t want to share that at work

        1. fposte*

          “I like Jane just fine. I’m sure if she has a concern she’ll raise it with me directly; I trust her to be honest, and I hope you do too.”

        2. Allison*

          Ah, that’s rough! I hate the idea that being “polite” so super maternal women means letting them mother all over us even if we really don’t want or like it at all.

          Honestly, I might quit, that sounds like a sucky environment.

        3. Liane*

          I’d be very tempted to just call out the “daughters” on a few things. “Malificent, why are you giving me those unprofessional tween-girl sighs and snarks? We’re professionals, after all. Did you not receive my TPS reports or do you need something else for Project Cersei? Or is something I am doing keeping you from completing your work?”

          1. Miss Mack*

            That is really helpful! Thanks. I don’t want to ruffle feathers but it’s getting to be too much. I’m here to work, not be mothered.

    2. zora*

      For the noise, I don’t think you can ask them to be quieter, sorry :o\ But a couple of thoughts:

      – Can you ask about moving/reconfiguring? If there’s a way to reorganize so that you are on the end, or the farthest corner, just to get some space rather than being completely surrounded, that would help a little.

      – I’ve been looking into headphones and noise-cancelling headphones aren’t actually designed to deal with voices, just constant sounds like airplane engine noise. Try looking for “noise-isolating” headphones, which have sound baffling in them to block out more noise. And then try white noise or other similar sound in the headphones. I have much better sound blocking when I’m listening to “meditation music” which is slow, calming music with white noise included, usually waves or rain.

      – an actual white noise machine? Can you ask for one? If you move a little farther away into a corner and have a white noise machine behind you, that might take the edge off the voices.

      – sound baffling? I’m in a totally open office but we have these small, 5 foot tall dividers that we got super cheap from an office furniture warehouse. I can picture 5-6 foot dividers with sound baffling on both sides, and arranging them around your desk/behind you, so that you have an extra layer between you and their voices.

      That’s all I got, except lots of sympathy and commiseration because I sit right behind my boss and she is on the phone all the time and I can’t ask her to be quiet. So, I’m just maxing out every tactic I can think of.

  44. JustaTech*

    I’ve got a semi-spontaneous networking event tonight and I’d like the commentariat’s opinion on business cards:
    What’s better: my work business cards that have an old title and defunct mailing address, or nothing?
    Would home-printed cards have been better?
    (Obviously professionally printed cards would be best.)

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      Why have a mailing address at all? And an old title? Don’t use those.

      Get some cards with your personal email address and phone number, and just your name.

  45. Jessen*

    Would there be any chanc of getting a mobile site sometime? I like to check askamanager at work, but it’s blocked on our work network. And a lot of the ads on the desktop site really don’t work on mobile – they take forever to load, and the one at the bottom of the page basically takes up the whole screen and is difficult to close without clicking on it by accident.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There is a mobile site! You should be seeing ads in a different place (throughout the posts rather than in a right-hand sidebar) and a vertical menu at the top.

    2. paul*

      Alison; I have a windows phone and it emphatically doesn’t work right on edge. It does on my android tablet at home though.

      1. Honeybee*

        To be fair, that could be Edge’s fault on the Windows phone and not the website’s. Or some combination of both the site and Edge. I work in a position that requires me to do user testing with Edge quite frequently and it doesn’t work with a lot of sites.

  46. Allison*

    I sit near a chronic complainer, and she’s driving me nuts. Every day she whines, out loud to no one in particular, about how cold she is, how tired she is, how hungry she is, how much work she has to do, how many meetings she has, how difficult people are being, how she’s just gotta get through the day, it’s so quiet in here, and did she mention she was tired? She’s so tired! Any time it’s raining, she has to complain about that too, of course.

    Look, I get that work isn’t all sunshine and rainbows – we’re all tired, and many of us ladies are getting cold as we get closer to summer and the A/C keeps getting turned up. I get that her job can be stressful, people really can be difficult, and she does get overwhelmed, so the occasional complaint isn’t exactly a sin, but I don’t think anyone wants to hear the steady stream of negativity coming from her cube all day.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      Are you me? Because I sit next to a chronic complainer too!

      Don’t give her any attention. I do not respond to my coworker’s random complaints. If she does complain directly to me (i.e. “I’m so thirsty!” when we are offsite), I say “You need to be prepared when you leave the office. Get a reusable water bottle.”

      Treat her like a child. If her negativity impacts your ability to do your work or starts affecting your other coworkers, say something to your boss. I lasted three months with my chronic complainer before I HAD to email my boss about it. The entire office atmosphere was brought down because of her negativity.

    2. Rebecca*

      I share an office with complainers. It doesn’t matter what it is, they complain. Earbuds and podcasts. That’s all I have. Perhaps go to your manager, and tell him or her that the next time seats are going to be rearranged, you’d like a fresh space? That’s what I’m going to do.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      An old colleague of mine once shut one of these up with: “Oh dear. It really happens to you, doesn’t it.”

  47. Paperback Writer*

    So… recently one of my colleagues was promoted and is now managing our department (new boss) while our former manager became director with more responsibilities (grand boss). Technically, we all report to the new boss with a dotted line to the grand boss. I get assignments from both and there have been times when one doesn’t know what the other has tasked me with. I’m not worried about getting overloaded, I’m comfortable with telling them what’s on my plate… but I’m having trouble figuring out whether I need to notify one when the other is working with me on something or whether it’s the responsibility of the two of them to discuss what’s going on in the department. I’ll give an example. I’m working on a project with the grand boss and recently a report surfaced that was related to it. Grand boss sent it to me and we were working on responding to it. Then a few hours later New boss received the report and forwarded it to me, asking me if I knew about it. I let her know that the Grand boss had sent it to me and that we were working on it and what the latest update was. But my question is should I have forwarded this information to my new boss sooner? I’m just a touch uncomfortable with this new dynamic and worry that there’s going to come a time when I get stuck in the middle for failing to notify one about something the other had me do.

    1. OtterB*

      I’d ask boss and grandboss directly about this one. It sounds like it’s not an entrenched dysfunction, just a loose ends with a new working relationship. Say you don’t want to waste their time with unnecessary emails but you also don’t want confusion, and how do they think the 3-way communication ought to work?

      1. JulieBulie*

        This is a good idea. I had a similar (not identical) situation for a while, and it was turning into a goat rodeo. In a moment of frustration, I wrote an email explaining that I just couldn’t continue with things in that manner. (I am not recommending this desperate-sounding wording!) To my surprise, they both agreed, realizing that they were also frustrating themselves. The grandboss agreed to communicate better with the boss, and let the boss do the majority of the bossing. And not boss his grandreports unless there was some special case.

  48. kavm*

    I am currently searching for a new job, I’ve been in my current position for almost 3 years and it is my first real job. So what do I do about references? I wouldn’t want to list my current supervisor (he’s great, but I don’t want to deal with any awkwardness) but I don’t really have anyone else to provide a reference except for jobs that I feel are unrelated (summer retail) or too far in the past (I could list my supervisor from an internship but that was 4 years ago – is that too long ago?). I haven’t been called for interviews yet so this may be premature but I want to be prepared if/when I need to provide references.

    1. Lillian Styx*

      I have this same problem. I am using people who have since left the company as references. None of them were direct managers, but I was subordinate enough to them that I’m hoping it’s good enough for now.

    2. Bagworm*

      I don’t think four years ago is too old at all. I also think that it’s ok to use supervisors from unrelated fields. They can still speak to a lot about the type of employee you are.

  49. Sandy*

    SO I mentioned this situation in this morning’s comments, but I am thinking now that I could use some advice.

    I changed jobs last year, and it has been wonderful. The work is pretty good, but the boss and my colleagues were GREAT. Everybody got along very well, there’s a real diversity of perspectives and healthy debate, a really respectful and professional atmosphere.

    …and then my boss left. It was kind of unexpected- they have a background in a niche field, and jobs don’t come up at that level very often- but kind of not, since they had been around for quite a while.

    The new boss is… not great. Some part of that may just be the growing pains associated with settling into a new position in a new organization, some part of it (if I am being honest) is probably just a lack of personality “gel”.

    If it were just the boss, I think I could easily suck it up and just accept the change. But the new boss has brought in a contingent of his own staff from outside the organization. They make up 50% of the team now, and it has done some really weird things to the group dynamic.

    For example, they all come from the same academic background (same program, same university, and everything) and are openly critical of anyone who doesn’t (in one case, one of them openly questioned why two of the other colleagues were “ever hired in the first place” since they don’t share that background). Even though they have each been on the job less than a month, meetings get taken over by their comments (not usually questions) from their previous position with the new boss. And they go and hang out in the new boss’ office, doors closed, while the “old” team is left outside, wondering what theya re missing out on.

    It has really messed the office dynamic, and several of the “old” etam have been wondering whether the writing is on the wall and they should start trying to move on. Has anybody ever seen a dynamic like this work itself out *without* a mass exodus? Is it worth sticking around to see if it will pass, or should I also start looking to jump?

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Sorry to say that the last time I was in this situation, the boss clearly was looking to replace as many of the old team as possible. She didn’t actually fire anyone, but she made us all feel REALLY uncomfortable, trashed our performance, and we all felt that the axe would drop at any minute. Six of her staff of eight (including me) quit within six months.

      I’d at least start looking for new options. Perhaps start by calling up your old boss, since she was awesome?

    2. JulieBulie*

      True story:

      A company I worked for 20 years ago demoted our director and brought in someone new. (This company had bought us a few years prior and had no previous experience in software development, but they had a lot of opinions as to how we should be doing it.) They told this woman that we were a problem team and her job was to turn us around.

      This woman brought in a bunch of contract programmers that she had known from elsewhere. She treated us, the longtime employees, like a bunch of delinquents. She delivered many speeches about how we should stop being so complacent and yadda yadda yadda.

      The project wasn’t going well. Her consultant friends didn’t know anything about our industry, our users, or our products. Over time, this new director finally came to understand that we actually hadn’t been doing anything wrong, and the company’s expectations weren’t realistic.

      But that realization came too late. She was fired, and her contractors were let go as well. A lot of the employees, including me, quit in frustration because we couldn’t stand it any more.

      The project eventually got done, under the leadership of our original director.

      This won’t necessarily happen to you… but you never know.

      1. JulieBulie*

        Oh but to answer your question – yeah, there was a mass exodus. None of us regretted leaving. My new job was better, and when our old director was put back in charge, she paid me a king’s ransom to work on the manuals as a side-job.

        Incidentally, she got tired of dealing with executive managers and eventually moved on as well.

    3. Chaordic One*

      Yeah, it’s time to move on. In my experience they brought in a new boss from a different department that was tangentially related to what we did, but she really didn’t have an idea of what we did. We spent a lot of time educating her and explaining why we did things a certain way. And explaining and explaining. She was not a quick study and was determined to reinvent the wheel. Things did not end well.

      Jump from the sinking ship while you have the chance and before they throw you overboard without a life preserver.