open thread – August 18-19, 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 :)

{ 1,561 comments… read them below }

  1. Small but Fierce*

    I got a “soft offer” yesterday from a Fortune 500 company for exactly what I asked for, putting myself at a 20% increase. Since it was the top of their budget, I doubt I have much room for negotations. I’m talking to them later today to discuss the benefits they sent over yesterday, at which point I will verbally accept and initiate the background check process.

    1. Is this the call that I should attempt to negotiate? Or should I wait until I pass the background check with a written offer?

    2. Do I have room to negotiate other things (such as PTO, sign on bonus, etc.) when I’m already at the top of their budget? I’m fairly entry level.


      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Agreed. You should always feel free to negotiate, but it’s not always necessary to do so. Are you happy with the benefits package? When you say “fairly entry level”, how many years are we talking? Because I wouldn’t advise asking for a sign-on bonus unless you’re giving up something big at your current/last job.

        1. Small but Fierce*

          I wouldn’t be negotiating for salary, but I do need a lot of time off early into my time there. I posted about it below. I got my salary offer since the third party recruiter that worked between us negotiated on my behalf.

          I’m entry level with 2 years of experience.

          1. Mirth & Merry*

            I asked if I could start with one of my 3 weeks of PTO already banked and they agreed so there is hope. If you don’t ask the answer is always no so I say go for it!

            1. Small but Fierce*

              This was honestly what I’m hoping for. In addition to the wedding/honeymoon, I’m sure I’ll need some time off for appointments prior to the wedding. A week up front, no strings attached would be ideal.

              1. TootsNYC*

                Ask for that. I did, and got it. (Mine was unpaid, but…)

                Also, if you’re leaving anywhere else, you’re going to be giving up vacation you’ve accrued, so you can ask for that kind of time.

                Tell them you’ve already planned that time off, and if possible, tell them you’ve already gotten it approved.

                I think most new employers figure you’ve already planned vacation, they’re willing to honor it.

                And especially a wedding.

                Plus, for most employees, vacation is essentially cost-less to the company. Most of us, they don’t have to hire someone to fill in, and everybody just picks up the slack. Any “expenses” the company has related to your vacation are far more theoretical than something like a raise. It generally doesn’t come out of anybody’s actual budget line (unless you have to hire a substitute).

                My company gave me the unpaid leave AND hired a temp to fill in, and they probably saved money between the two budget lines.

          2. Trout 'Waver*

            Who’s paying the recruiter? If it’s the company, then the recruiter does not represent you.

            1. Small but Fierce*

              I’m unsure what you mean by this comment. All I meant was that I wasn’t involved in discussions about salary with the employer; all those details went straight from the recruiter to them. The company would be paying the recruiter.

            2. H.C.*

              Depending on the terms of the recruiter’s payout (i.e. if their payment amount is tied to Small’s starting salary), they may have some incentive in negotiating on behalf of Small but Fierce too.

              1. Small but Fierce*

                Yes, her commission is based off of what I make. She took my details and drafted an argument on my behalf.

              2. TootsNYC*

                plus, she doesn’t get paid at all (and may lose them as a client) if she doesn’t get them a really good candidate, so she has an incentive to work hard to recruit a good candidate.

          3. Artemesia*

            I think it is fine to negotiate for extra vacation this year for the wedding. Especially if there policy doesn’t let you take the time this early.

      2. SJ*

        This! My current job offered me $5k MORE than what I asked for, and my dad was like “Ask for another $5k! that! They clearly want you!” Instantly a hard no from me. Probably the only bad piece of job advice he’s ever given me.

        1. Small but Fierce*

          Yes, I will not even attempt to touch the salary as I’m thrilled with it! But I will be taking a two and a half week vacation for wedding/honeymoon, so some vacation time up front would be ideal.

          1. AnotherHRPro*

            It would be totally normal to negotiate access to time off earlier than their policy. And the person to discuss this with is generally the hiring manager (not HR/recruiter). Congrats!

        2. Gaia*

          I got the same advice from family when a job offered me nearly 50% more than what I told them I would require…and well above market pay for my region. There was no way I was going to negotiate that as it would have made me look really, really out of touch.

          For context, they offered me what they did because they had similarly experienced and skilled employees making that much already and wanted to ensure pay parity across market regions since my region is economically depressed.

        3. Your Weird Uncle*

          Yeah, the same thing happened to me lately too! I’m glad to see so many reassurances about it, because I was worried maybe I should have negotiated, but they caught me completely off guard by offering me $12k over what the minimum salary was, and $7k over what I was going to ask. I’m happy I didn’t bother – I’m more than happy!

          Congrats on the offer, OP, and your upcoming marriage!

            1. Small but Fierce*

              Thank you both for your congrats! :) If this offer came a few months later, I’d be over the moon. A little stressed about it right now given the timing.

        4. TootsNYC*

          yeah, once you’ve ASKED!

          I mean, if you had said to yourself, “I’ll take the job if they offer me $75,000,” and they offer you $80,000, you could say: That’s sort of high for the field, they must really want me, I’ll ask for another $5k.

          But if you’ve already said &75k, and they offer $80k, while it’s true that they’re saying, “we REALLY want you, we don’t want to chance losing you,” you’re going to look bad asking for even more.

    1. Small but Fierce*

      To elaborate: I’ve commented here before about this offer and my situation. I’m getting married and taking a two week honeymoon in a couple of months. The policy of the new company is that you can borrow up to 40 hours, but you have to pay it back by the end of the year (which I clearly wouldn’t be able to do in that time frame). I’d love to somehow get all or at least some of this time off paid, but I’m not sure how to go about it. Since they came in at the top of their budget, I don’t know if they’ll be flexible with anything else.

      My thought would be to ask for a week’s vacation up front and then borrow the other week, understanding that I wouldn’t be able to pay it all back in time. Does that seem reasonable?

      1. WellRed*

        Why can’t you pay it back? You are getting 20% more salary. Not saying don’t try for better, but that’s another way to look at it.

          1. Small but Fierce*

            My understanding is that you can pay with PTO days up until the end of the year, at which point they take the remaining balance out of your paycheck.

            While it is a 20% increase in base, it’s not actually nearly that much when you look into total comp. My health and commute costs are increasing exponentially as they’re virtually non-existent at my current job.

            1. Detective Amy Santiago*

              If it were me, I’d probably ask for one week unpaid and to borrow against the other week.

              1. BF50*

                This is what I would do. Or one week pre loaded and a second unpaid. Just don’t forget to mention the occasional day or half day before the wedding in your negotiations, otherwise it will seriously stress you out.

      2. TootsNYC*

        The wedding matters.

        And if it’s true, you can say: “While I’m happy with the salary and would really, really like to take this job, the vacation thing may be a deal breaker. It’s not just a yearly vacation–it’s a wedding and my honeymoon. If I have to wait and go job-hunting again in 8 months, I trust my skills and experience enough to believe that I’ll be successfully then. I don’t -have- to take this job if it doesn’t work in my life. But I would -love- to take this job, so I’m hoping we can make it work in my life.”

        Budget for salary doesn’t affect vacation time. Because vacation time may not cost them any actual cash.

    2. Audiophile*

      Do you want to negotiate? If the offer is acceptable and significant increase in your salary, why do you want to negotiate?

      I didn’t negotiate in my current role, though if I had more specific details on benefits, I think I would have.

      1. Small but Fierce*

        I was in a rush to post, so I didn’t elaborate like I should have. I’m happy with the salary. I’m curious if I have any standing to negotiate for vacation time up front since I will be getting married and going on a two week honeymoon in a couple of months.

        1. Lipsy Magoo*

          I think it’s common for people to come in with trips and other things that were planned prior to accepting the job. And asking for the time off, prior to starting is generally understood. But as far as I know people take this time unpaid if they wouldn’t have vacation time accrued by then.

          Like anything I guess you could ask but for me personally, I would be happy to get the high end, what I had asked for, and wouldn’t nickel and dime for a week’s vacation given the salary is good. I wouldn’t want to start my relationship with a new employer asking for too much, again just my .02.

          1. Small but Fierce*

            True, I didn’t actually negotiate initially but the third party recruiter we worked with did mention my vacation plans to them. I believe the offer is as high as it is since they understand that I am leaving 100+ hours of PTO on the table at my current job and I’ll be taking this time off unpaid with them. So perhaps it would be tone-deaf to ask for more of anything if that’s the case.

            1. Lipsy Magoo*

              So they may have already factored that PTO into the high end offer. You could always ask the recruiter their thoughts as they know this employer, see if anything like this has been done before and how it was received. It sounds to me like you really want to ask but you also mentioned they need someone right away. Giving you the time off and a high end offer may be very good from their standpoint. Good luck and congrats – this is a lot of good stuff happening :)

              1. TootsNYC*

                “Giving you the time off and a high end offer may be very good from their standpoint.”

                Yep! And in fact, that gives you leverage.
                They know they want you, and the cost you are asking is one-time* and doesn’t actually cost them cash.

                *I know people who have said, “I want to start with an extra week of vacation,” and that’s a “cost” that is ongoing, because the week never goes away; it becomes a baseline for every year after that.
                I think that would be a reasonable thing for you to ask for, actually, because I don’t think extra pay is true compensation for losing the time off. Time off is time off, and money doesn’t always make up for it.
                HOWEVER, since you do have this big event, you might want to forgo that one extra week in exchange for 3 of them this year that don’t set a baseline that will affect all years.

            2. TootsNYC*

              If these vacation plans are known to them, I would bet they are planning on accommodating them in some way.
              And so now you and they need to work out what that “way” is–unpaid leave? paid leave that you pay back? So they are probably expecting this to be part of the conversation.

              The pay-in-lieu-of-accrued-time isn’t really intended to offset the actual “already planned” vacation–especially a wedding and honeymoon.

        2. Infinity Anon*

          I would think that you could try to negotiate for the honeymoon, especially since it is a one time thing. You may need to accept that it will be unpaid, but asking doesn’t really hurt. I wouldn’t push too hard though.

          1. Jessi*

            Me too! When formally offered the job try ‘I’m thrilled to be formally offered the job and I would love to accept. I have my honeymoon planned for xdate to x date. I know I won’t have earned the holiday time by then, what can we do to cover this time?’ I personally would also add ‘I am happy to wait until after I come back to start, but think that you need someone to start earlier? I am happy to work with you to start sooner but it would be nice not to be penalised for my honeymoon’. Ask and see what they say

    3. yasmara*

      My company does not negotiate on benefits packages (including vacation). Is there anyone you know there that you could ask about that?

      1. Small but Fierce*

        The recruiter essentially knows as much as I do at this point. I have a call with HR in an hour, so I’ll just have to ask them about that directly.

      2. Infinity Anon*

        If they won’t negotiate on benefits, then that will be their response to the request. It would be odd for them to hold it against the OP for asking, so long as she accepts no for an answer.

    4. Lizard*

      If you are entry level, and you are already getting a 20% increase, and you’re at the top of their budget, I don’t think you have any room to negotiate (nor justification really). For Fortune 500s, you can rarely negotiate PTO, and I find that sign on bonuses are usually in place of additional comp as salary (except if you are relocating).

      1. Small but Fierce*

        As you suspected, they don’t negotiate benefits regardless of the role. So it looks like I will just borrow as much as I can pay back in that time period and take the rest unpaid.

        Thank you everyone for your feedback!

    5. AnotherNPRGeek*

      Whenever I switch companies, I always ask that the waiting period to enroll in Health Coverage (usually 90 days or so in my industry) be waived, since I will be losing my insurance when I leave my current job. The common response is that this is not contractually possible, but almost always is immediately followed by an offer to pick up the cost of my continuation coverage for my current policy. One employer actually paid the COBRA invoices direct to my previous job.

      1. Small but Fierce*

        That’s a good idea! I’m hopeful to squeeze in my annual appointments in these last couple of weeks while I’m still covered, but it’s certainly worth considering. Fortunately the waiting period for health insurance at this company is only a month, which is less than others I’ve seen.

      2. Windchime*

        I have negotiated this as well. Insurance didn’t start for 90 days, so I asked if they would reimburse me for COBRA and they did. I paid it up front and they cut me a check for the full amount. It’s a smart thing to negotiate if you can.

  2. Susan*

    Did I misstep here?

    I had a call scheduled with a recruiter on Monday at 5 PM. A last minute emergency with a client came up and wasn’t able to make it so around 5 minutes before, I emailed and asked if we can push it back a few minutes, and he responded that we can r/s for Thursday. Times were set and confirmed as of Th 9 AM. I blocked off my calendar and went outside to a quiet public place. after 5 minutes, I called and left a voicemail. at 1207, I sent an email. 10-15 minutes later, I get a response that he’s held up and will call me. I sent an email to acknowledge. At 1 PM (1 hour after our original time) I emailed asking if he has an estimate of when he’ll be able to call because I’m in an open office and need to get myself to a quiet place to talk.


    Did I go overboard?? I apologized many times for having to r/s on Monday which he never addressed. Did I just ruin my chances??

    1. Squeeble*

      No, you’re fine. I’ve had recruiters flake on our calls more than once, even after a reschedule. It’s frustrating!

    2. Professional People Person*

      I think you’re fine. I’m a recruiter and it’s not uncommon for people to have to reschedule an interview. He’s probably just very busy and hasn’t had a chance to reschedule your call. If you don’t hear from him in a few days send another note to follow up. I’d also suggest that you stop apologizing for the first reschedule, it’s not usually a big deal and you don’t need to draw any more attention to it. Good luck!

      1. voluptuousfire*

        You’re totally fine. Like Professional People Person said, it’s probably due to the recruiter being busy and not had a moment to reach back out.

        Try again early next week and if there’s no response after a business day or two, I think it’s safe to write them off.

  3. Nervous Accountant*

    So I just found out that my boss said “I think [NA] is stupid and I don’t care if she stays or leaves. If she’s not happy with this salary she can go”.

    So…ummmm yea…..¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Job search is in full force.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Yeah, its funny how just a little over a month ago I was so adamant in not leaving and now. Ugh.

        The reason why I said this year was better than past years was pretty much because the company has grown so there are more people, bigger office, and most imp I deal mostly with my manager (who’s also fed up with our boss) so he was kind of a shield.

        I mean I kinda realized I wasn’t her favorite person but I didn’t think it was THAT bad.

    1. Nervous Accountant*

      I’m trying really hard not to internalize this and affect my work for the amt of time I’m here.

      1. Lipsy Magoo*

        It’s hard but I would try to just smile and know, on the inside that it’s just a matter of time. Soon you’ll leave these jokers behind :) and keeping a good attitude in the meantime is something you do for you, so you can put your best energy into finding a new job.

        Good luck!

      2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        I was going to comment that this isn’t a value judgement about you as a person, you too just don’t click. But then I re-read where she called you stupid. That’s unnecessary.
        So my advice to you is keep it in perspective:
        She said you are stupid. You aren’t. She is bad boss bossing badly. Give it the same weight you give any “bad boss action” she does. She came unprepared to a meeting, she changed the project specs midway, she said we need X by Tuesday but client said Monday, there she goes again.

      3. Jaguar*

        If it helps, Nervous Accountant, I used to work for two terrible bosses and they would constantly insult people when they thought those people were out of earshot, or when they thought they were out of earshot. Eventually, I heard them complaining about me as well (“idiot,” “moron,” etc.). When I gave notice, they flipped out, telling me how hard it will be to replace me, begging me to stay with salary increases, begging me to extend my notice period, etc. They would do the same about the other people they insulted behind their backs as well when they inevitably gave notice. The reasons they did it were manifold and included being under stress (which they brought on themselves, so there’s no reason to feel sympathy for it), feeling out of control (again, their own fault, because the contributing factor to their lack of control was the high turnover brought on by their own mismanagement), and, of course, just being lousy people, in addition to even more reasons both too small to mention or that I’m unaware of.

        My point isn’t to ignore what you heard or not take it seriously – I think your enemies will often be more truthful to you than your friends – but to know that there are a lot of reasons beyond the fact of the matter that would lead people to say things like that. You should try to get out of that situation, but you should also try to step back and look at things as objectively and clear-headed as you can – be as truthful as you can about your worth, your failings, and your strengths. Once you feel that you’ve been as truthful and honest about that as you can be and there’s nothing in your conscience telling you you’re being unnecessarily harsh on yourself or ignoring your faults to present a better picture of yourself, you might find something awful said about you shrinks to almost nothing in the calculation of your self worth.

        1. Jaguar*

          Bletch. I should really re-read before I hit submit. The first sentence should read, “they would constantly insult people when those people were out of earshot, or when they thought they were out of earshot.”

          And as an added thought, when trying to lay out the facts to get a clear picture of the situation, also come up with all the reasons your boss might say that about you, both legitimate issues with your work and less legitimate issues with your boss (your boss being under stress, for instance). Once you have all the possible situations that would contribute to that comment, you can get to work figuring out what combination of factors is the most plausible.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        I want to say to her “Project much?”
        She privately thinks she herself is stupid and/or her boss tells her she is stupid.
        These things don’t happen in a vacuum. I know first hand, it’s really easy to want to sit and lick the wounds from something like this. I suggest looking up and looking around. How is everyone else making out with this boss?
        I had one boss scream at the top of her lungs in front of everyone, “Everyone here hates you.” I licked my wounds and then spoke with a few well-chosen people. Yep. She did that them also. It was not personal, it was a way of life for her.

        Bosses who say stuff like this reveal themselves to be not capable of managing people.
        PS. Whoever told you this did you NO favors, either.

          1. Nervous Accountant*

            Well no, the person who said this is someone I trust. I did ask them what was said and they were very hesitant but I persisted. I wish I hadn’t.

            1. tigerStripes*

              What a tough thing to deal with. At least, you know you’d be better off leaving. Knowledge is power sometimes. Good luck!

    2. k.k*

      WOW. Even if they thought that, to say it out loud to anyone is terrible. If that’s any indication of they or the company operates, I’m very glad you’re looking to get out.

    3. Lora*

      Wow. I’m sorry. I mean, even if she thinks you are dumb, it’s her job to either coach you or train you, and if that doesn’t work, change your job duties to something you can handle, direct you to transfer to a more appropriate opening if there is one, or let you go.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        We rise with our leadership and we sink with our leadership. Look at where the leader is going and realize this is where the employees will go also.

    4. Granny K*

      Try to look at this as an opportunity to find a better place to be while leaving a job with ZERO GUILT. You aren’t stupid. You deserve to be treated with respect in the workplace. Really.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s funny/odd how being called stupid can be more hurtful than being called a cuss word.
        I think it is easier to blow off a cuss word. “Oh, she called me an AH. At her age, why doesn’t she have a better vocabulary by now?”
        But being called stupid does not shake off as readily. And it has an even stronger negative power when someone in authority uses it.

        Remember it’s her job to help you develop into a valuable employee. In my book she is a Massive Fail by her own admission.

        1. nonymous*

          so here’s my 2cents.

          There are some people that I really respect. If they thought I was stupid, I would be hurt/sad. There are other people whom I don’t care about – for example the person living exactly on the opposite side of the globe; psychopath/sociopaths; certain elected officials, etc. If they thought that I was stupid/intellectually weak, it wouldn’t bother me.

          A boss who doesn’t know to be professional moves from the first category to the other. I’d also argue that someone who assesses another person as “stupid” when they are only seeing a small facet of another person’s life is incredibly ignorant, which is a synonym of stupid. ha!

        2. tigerStripes*

          Kids usually learn how to use “stupid” before they know the AH word – maybe the manager is reverting to childhood.

    5. De Minimis*

      It’s not you, it’s just the industry [I think you’re in public accounting, right?]. People in entry accountant positions gradually quit being profitable after their first year or so, so the longer someone stays, the less enthusiastic management [especially upper management] usually becomes about them staying on, unless they are moving to another level.

      I’m sure you’ll find something a lot better soon.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        That’s an interesting way to look at it. There’s a lot of high turnover here and a lot of people leave after the first year or so. The ones that stay do get promoted to team leader/mgmt. I got promoted as well, but I get paid peanuts compared to others. .

        1. De Minimis*

          First years have the widest profit margin between their bill rate and their pay, and they also tend to work a lot of billable hours. Even though they may eventually be promoted and be billed at a higher rate, my understanding is they never have that wide of a profit margin again. It probably is also because one someone gets to a higher level, they tend to acquire more duties beyond basic client work that don’t directly generate as much revenue.

          Granted, this is coming from a large firm perspective, but this is a big reason why the “up or out” mentality is so prevalent.

          1. Nervous Accountant*

            That’s interesting. We don’t bill our clients by the hour, they just pay for the services but I can see the parallel here.

    6. Jeff*

      I don’t think I would want to work for a boss who talked about me behind my back like that. NA, I doubt you are stupid. Do you have any further detail concerning a particular topic about which you could be better educated or informed? Was the boss referring to a particular aspect of your work duties or just your overall stupidity? You are not stupid.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        NA is a dedicated AAM reader. We can safely assume that NA is set on life-long learning in any way she can. This makes her verrry smart.

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        I have no idea. She’s very sweet and soft spoken to our faces but after a while I’ve been able to see through it. I wrote above that I haven’t had much interaction with her this year, and she wasn’t a part of my evaluation.

        Problem is, she’s still the “nicest” one I’ve had so far (yeah crazy!). I’m used to the bosses who screamed, berated, threw things, were physically violent (with objects, not people). Or just cold as hell. I used to think she was a “good” boss.

        I do like my current manager tho, he’s a genuinely nice person.

    7. Zip Silver*

      From your boss’s phrasing, it sounds like there’s some backstory here we’re missing. If your manager’s boss knows you’re thinking of leaving or staying, then you’ve already lost the war. I promise you they’re looking for a replacement, at least passively.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Nah, I wasn’t thinking of leaving at all and never mentioned it. In fact, I was very resistant to leaving until this happened. People are always leaving here any way so it’s not a big deal if someone leaves, and they’re always hiring.

        For context–this happened during evaluations.

        Backstory is that our company hired an in-house recruiter. She put an ad on a job website stating that our company is paying $65k for 3 yrs of experience…basically the position I and others have but we’re getting paid 40-50. Incoming support staff salary was $45k, whereas right now the current support staff salary is 30-40. So a lot of us thought that we would get huge bumps. That wasn’t the case, and some of us got way less than we were hoping for. Enough people were angry about it that they took the ad down and proactively explained to ppl during their 1-on-1 that this was a marketing technique they used and no one is getting that $$. Yea.

        During my eval, I got all 5s, and a promotion. and a 15% bump bringing me to $55k. I asked for 60, my mgr went back to our boss, and he came back quickly and said she refused.

        1. De Minimis*

          I remember when you’d decided to stay. I would leave too in your situation. How many years have you been there?

            1. De Minimis*

              I think you’d be a pretty desirable candidate, that is generally the sweet spot for leaving for an industry position.

              1. Nervous Accountant*

                I really hope so! I’m having bad luck with recruiters right now so just trying to figure out what to do!

        2. tigerStripes*

          “they took the ad down and proactively explained to ppl during their 1-on-1 that this was a marketing technique they used and no one is getting that $$.” if that’s true, this company has some serious ethics issues, in my opinion.

    8. Pineapple Incident*

      WOAH. Your boss sucks- that’s horribly unprofessional. Good luck to you in your search- I hope you find somewhere you’re valued.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      So I think your boss is stupid. I don’t care if (s)he stands upright or faceplants on the steps. If (s)he’s not happy with you then (s)he can stick a broomstick up (their) arse.

    10. AnonAcademic*

      I’m sorry you overheard that. I also work for a boss who will rant about how my work is unacceptable, my project is underperforming, the timelines I’ve laid out are too slow, etc. etc. and then will turn around and tell potential funders that my project is the most cutting edge thing in the field and they should give us more money to do things like it.

      I realized the criticism part fulfills an emotional need for him related to his desire for control and to externalize his own stress and shame. The bragging out of earshot thing is tactical to curry favor with outsiders and somewhat to reinflate his own ego. The truth of what he thinks probably is somewhere in the middle – but why he can’t just communicate honestly is a a question above my paygrade. He does this to everyone and one person asked him why he is so harsh and I guess he sees it as a sort of “aim for the moon and if you fail at least you’ll be among the stars” kind of thing. Nevermind that its demoralizing, emotionally abusive, and has contributed greatly to staff turnover.

      1. Ally*

        Oh, AnonAcademic, you have described my academic boss exactly, and why I am planning my exit from academia. I am sorry you are in this situation, but oddly comforted that it is not just me?

    11. Em*

      That’s unprofessional and unpleasant, it’s not a literal comment on what she thinks of your intelligence. That’s just a throwaway comment of unhappiness — more often heard among children, but I’ve heard plenty of adults use the word “stupid” when they meant they didn’t like the situation for whatever reason. And given the context — sounds like you are saying this happened after you asked for a bigger salary increase — then it’s like she said “she’s a yucky head and I don’t care if she leaves”. Just a generic insult because she’s displeased that you dared to stand up for yourself and ask for a better salary. I think you are totally right to start looking for something better — doesn’t sound like the particularly value any of their employees — but I’d try not to take it personally. Or at least see it as her comment on the situation of you asking for a salary bump. Which still isn’t a professional or appropriate response.

  4. Anon for this*

    My employer, a federally-owned corporation, has a horrible policy where any employee who calls in sick for more than four consecutive work days must furnish a doctor’s note not only to excuse the absence, but also to allow the employee to return to work.

    One of my coworkers, Jane, has chronic back problems, and a few weeks ago, she had a bad flare-up and was out for a whole week. She came back the next Monday with a doctor’s note, but the employer’s medical staff was not satisfied with her doctor’s note and would not allow her to return to work, I think because the doctor indicated that her back problems are ongoing and require further treatment.

    We have some physical requirements for our job (walking, climbing stairs, lifting/carrying equipment, etc.), and Jane previously had a doctor’s note saying that she can’t lift over 10 pounds, so I can understand that the employer won’t allow her to return to full duty, but they won’t even allow her to return on light duty such as paperwork. She was signed up for some specialized vendor training this week, and the employer would not even allow her to sit at a desk to attend this training. She says she feels well enough to come back to work, but the employer will not allow her to work without a doctor’s “all clear,” which she may never get because her back problems can’t be completely cured. She is in her mid 50s and not financially ready to retire yet.

    Is this legal? Cursory research tells me that it is legal for employers to require a doctor’s note to return to work, but I find it hard to believe that they can just refuse to allow her to work because she has chronic back problems. She has a lot of sick days and vacation saved up, but when she runs out, she will stop getting paid, and I’m assuming she will eventually be let go if she’s not allowed to return to work. Wouldn’t that effectively mean firing her for having a disability? They can’t do that, right? Don’t they have to at least try to make reasonable accommodations to let her keep her job?

    I don’t think Jane knows much about her employment rights, and I’d like to encourage her to fight for her job. My thinking is that she should start by going to HR to inform them that she is being discriminated against for her disability, and if they don’t step in and help, she should go to our agency’s Equal Employment Opportunity counselor. Is this a good approach, or is there something else she should do? Our department’s management really has no say in this; I know they would like to have her back (even on light duty), but they can’t overrule the medical staff.

      1. neverjaunty*

        In the US, lawyers who handle these kinds of cases work on contingency (meaning you don’t pay them; they front all the costs and are paid as a percentage of any eventual recovery). Jane should absolutely talk to a lawyer.

    1. OhNo*

      Has Jane asked about or set up disability accommodations yet? It sounds like that’s going to be the next step for her. From my understanding (IANAL), the job only has to offer reasonable accommodations and the ADA/disability protections only come into play once the employee explicitly says, “I have a disability”. A company won’t generally (or isn’t allowed? not sure) assume that a disability is in play unless the employee directly tells them so.

      So, Jane should probably talk to an employment lawyer to make sure she covers her bases, start the disability accommodation process (which may require input from said lawyer and maybe a doctor), and start looking into intermittent FMLA.

      For what it’s worth, as someone with a disability, your company is being a bunch of jerks. I understand the desire to avoid worker’s comp claims by keeping already injured people out of the office, but this is some next-level nonsense. I hope things work out for Jane!

      1. Anon for this*

        I’m not sure exactly what Jane has asked for at this point, but I know she has brought in a doctor’s note saying she can’t lift over 10 pounds, so does that count as asking for reasonable accommodation? I don’t think she really even wants any other accommodations. It’s the employer saying that they won’t let her work in her current medical condition, but they’re not offering any accommodations with which they will allow her to work.

        1. StrikingFalcon*

          Yes from what I know (not a lawyer) that should be considered a reasonable accommodation as long as that’s workable for the company without “undue hardship,” which it sounds like it is since there’s work she can do. As an example, my uncle was hired at a home improvement store, and they later tried to move him to the paint counter where he would be required to lift 25 lb paint buckets all day. Since they had other positions open that he could do, they were required to give him one of those. Had it been a paint store, where that was the only work available, I think it would have played out differently, but since there was plenty of work he could do, it was considered a reasonable accommodation.

        2. OhNo*

          I don’t think that counts as asking for accommodation (again, IANAL). Everywhere I’ve ever worked, requesting accommodation has involved an explicit conversation with my manager (and sometimes HR) where I say, “I have X disability and need Y accommodation. Do you need any documentation to make that happen?”
          (I use a wheelchair, so for me the answer thus far has universally been, “No, I think we can safely assume you’re on the level.”)

          But there are a lot of little loopholes in the law that might confuse the issue, so I think Jane’s first stop should be an employment lawyer, just to clarify if what she’s done so far satisfies the legal requirements for an accommodation request. It’s my impression that she needs to say (or even better, write) the words, “reasonable accommodation for a disability” just to cover her bases in case of future legal action, but that could be an overabundance of caution on my part.

          1. Observer*

            It DOES however signal that FMLA may be coming into pay here. And, interestingly enough, it’s apparently on the employer to pick up on that.

            By the way, the courts have also ruled that there is no need for a “magic phrase” for ADA to kick in. So, if someone comes in with a doctors note and asking for a specific accommodation, even if they do not use the words “ADA accommodation”, the employer may be put on notice.

          2. Natalie*

            Per the EEOC, a request for an accommodation does not have to be phrased in a particular form of legalese to count. A statement like “I have a back problem and can’t do that” should be treated like a request for an accomodation. (I’ll link to the guidance in another comment.

            1. Natalie*

              EEOC guidance:

              How must an individual request a reasonable accommodation?

              When an individual decides to request accommodation, the individual or his/her representative must let the employer know that s/he needs an adjustment or change at work for a reason related to a medical condition. To request accommodation, an individual may use “plain English” and need not mention the ADA or use the phrase “reasonable accommodation.”(19)

              Example A: An employee tells her supervisor, “I’m having trouble getting to work at my scheduled starting time because of medical treatments I’m undergoing.” This is a request for a reasonable accommodation.

              Example B: An employee tells his supervisor, “I need six weeks off to get treatment for a back problem.” This is a request for a reasonable accommodation.

              Example C: A new employee, who uses a wheelchair, informs the employer that her wheelchair cannot fit under the desk in her office. This is a request for reasonable accommodation.

              Example D: An employee tells his supervisor that he would like a new chair because his present one is uncomfortable. Although this is a request for a change at work, his statement is insufficient to put the employer on notice that he is requesting reasonable accommodation. He does not link his need for the new chair with a medical condition.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Have her get a copy of her job description. If the job requires walking, standing, lifting, etc. then she may have a tough road ahead of her.

          She needs to have a serious talk with her doc. Docs sometimes think they are being very helpful by saying something is long-term or on-going or whatever in order to get the employer to leave the patient alone. She should tell the doc that her problems are work are escalating because of this note and ask him if what he wrote is actually to be expected in her setting.

          A much simpler example, I had a hair-line fracture in my thumb. The doc said I needed to stay home for three days as I spent all day lifting 25 pounds or more. I told him NO. I guessed right on that one, my employer did not want to hear that my small break was a problem. The employer told me that in no uncertain terms. I was lucky to have the insight to tell the doc NO and I was also lucky to have the ability to limp through my day with this injury. Other settings are different.

          1. Natalie*

            Have her get a copy of her job description. If the job requires walking, standing, lifting, etc. then she may have a tough road ahead of her.

            This isn’t at all the case, necessarily. What precisely counts as an undue hardship is more about what’s possible for the employer and what is genuinely necessary for the job. The employer doesn’t get to circumvent that simply by adding tasks to a job description.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Well if the job description has been altered that brings on another layer of complexity.

    2. State govt employee*

      Yep, it’s rather standard to require a doctor’s note.

      Sounds like she should really have an ADA accommodation or be on intermittent FMLA.

    3. Kathenus*

      I’m in a field that requires a good deal of physical activity. When we have employees back after an injury such as this we sometimes require specific guidelines as to what the person can and can’t do. Light duty may or may not be appropriate for the situation, as I’ve seen cases with back problems where the person wasn’t supposed to sit for extended periods either. Plus light duty can mean a wide variety of different things. We’ve also provided these assessments through our internal safety department/workman’s comp provider at times as well, but I don’t think asking for this is unreasonable on the company’s part. However, if they’re just saying no without explanation or options, that’s not helpful either.

    4. Evil HR Person-like Being*

      The employer *should* start the dialogue about accommodation, but it sure *can* be the employee. Remember, though, that the employer can say that the accommodation she needs isn’t reasonable. And, yes, they can require her to be able to return to full duty prior to letting her return to work at all, if there is no other reasonable accommodation. I’ve seen this in healthcare, for example, where a nurse’s assistant (CNA) would have to be able to lift a person with our without the use of a sling, but the minimums are quite high (being able to push and pull a minimum of 50 lbs., etc.). They can’t accommodate a maximum of 10 lbs. – that CNA is, in effect, asking for something that cannot be *reasonably* accommodated, as it is part of the essential duties of a CNA’s job. Some employers are able to assign a partner to help with the lifting, but – for example again – if that CNA has to visit someone at home, she’ll have to do it alone… you get the idea.

      You have to remember a couple of things when it comes to employers – and a lot of people tend to forget. This might seem illegal because it is unfair to the employee. However, the employer is the employer of her and of a bunch of other people. They don’t want to open themselves up to any kind of litigation – in this case, a worker’s comp filing. She can injure her back AGAIN during the course of work, and we already know there’s a high probability of that happening because of her chronic back problems…. and the employer would have to pay for it. That’s not fair to the other employees who work there who rely on the employer for their paychecks, bonuses, raises, benefits, etc.

      That said, HR is first when it comes to accommodations. They’re the gatekeepers of the rules that go along with the laws. After that talk, and whatever happens during it, comes the lawyer or the EEOC (or both). Chronic back problems in a job where the essential requirement is to lift, push, and pull a minimum weight don’t really mix, though – and never will. I would strongly suggest to your colleague/friend to look for something else to do, if that’s a possibility. Let’s suppose she wins an EEOC case (this one, in my experience, will not be something that the EEOC will pick up and will probably issue her a right-to-sue letter, which in the end *might* get her a couple thousand dollars at the most) she still needs to look for a different employer. And EEOC cases can take up to 24 months to resolve – sometimes more. What will she do until then?

      1. Anon for this*

        Thanks for all the information and advice… The maximum lifting capability of 10 pounds is definitely a reasonable accommodation, because the department has been accommodating this restriction for her and a couple of other people (off and on) for years. I have no idea what other restrictions her doctor may be recommending, but I don’t think Jane wants any other accommodations; she wants to return to work with her normal duties except for lifting over 10 pounds (which is not an essential duty).

        Pardon my ignorance, but if her back condition is pre-existing, doesn’t that mean the employer would not be liable for worker’s comp? I get that they don’t want to open themselves up to litigation, but it seems like this is at odds with protecting employees from disability discrimination. I mean, they couldn’t refuse to hire someone who uses a wheelchair just because they’re afraid they’d get sued if the person rolls too close to the stairs and falls down the stairs, right?

        Would it make any difference if this were a non-physical job? I think our department’s management would be willing to bring her back in a desk job capacity (especially if the only alternative is losing her completely), and in fact there is currently an opening in our department for a desk job. But I get the impression that the medical staff won’t even let her come in to work at a desk at this point. I think she would have trouble finding a job that suits her at another employer, because she has a very specific skill set that is valuable to my employer, but not to any other employer in the area.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Perhaps she needs to ask the doc if she should apply for permanent disability.

          First and foremost, employers have to work in a manner that prevents injuries, period. This means if a person has a pre-existing condition then perhaps they were never a fit for the job in the first place and it was a bad hire.
          In the staircase example, stairs usually have to be built according to certain specs. The layout is such that it’s reasonable to assume a person in a wheelchair would not be in the vicinity of the stairs because the ramp is off to the side and there is an adequate landing for turning the chair safely. Probably most employers would not even think of a wheelchair bound person getting tangled up in a staircase for any reason.
          Many places will accommodate someone who has a short term limitation. This means throwing the workload onto the remaining people. So employers are hesitant to make this a permanent accommodation in part, because it is likely that others may become injured from sharing too large a workload for too long a period.

          In short it’s not discrimination to require employees to have certain physical abilities in order to do a specific job. If they restructure her job and give her a different title so she can do other things that is what a nice company does. But they don’t have to if they can’t or if it is not within reason. (Think of it this way, it would be abusive to knowingly hire someone who cannot do the job and force them to do it.)

          If she has a documented disability she may be eligible for a retraining program. I am not sure how that works outside of my own state.

          1. Anon for this*

            I know her doctors think she should apply for permanent disability (she has mentioned that every time she goes to the doctor, they are amazed that she is still working), but she’d rather keep working. She’s been in this job for 10 years, and I’m not sure if she had the back problems before she started this job or not, but it’s only been the last few years that she’s had physical restrictions. We really don’t do a lot of heavy lifting, so it’s not very often that her restriction affects the job. It would be a pretty big accommodation to allow her to do only desk work (probably enough to cause “undue hardship” to the employer). She’s not asking for that, but it seems like the employer might not want her doing any physical work.

            I certainly understand that some jobs come with physical requirements, and it might simply be impossible to accommodate some disabilities in some jobs, but it kind of breaks my heart because she has given a decade of her life to this job and I think the employer should try harder to keep her around.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I have seen a lot of situations like this and concluded our systems suck. I am sorry this is happening to your friend. Every person is a valuable resource. Some day maybe our society will figure that out.

        2. Evil HR Person-like Being*

          The employer could make a case that the employee aggravated her pre-existing chronic condition, and a good lawyer would say this is new and has nothing to do with her previous condition and, and, and… the employer starts bleeding money trying to litigate. The employer might win, but they’ve already spent the money.

          I wonder what else is on that doctor’s note??? I’m not one to override doctors, but if there’s something on the note that Jane doesn’t want there, she could ask her doctor to write a new note. I mean, if it’s in the note, then the doctor feels that for Jane’s health, she should NOT do X, Y, and Z; and the doctor would so herself a disservice by not including Z at Jane’s request… but, Jane can try and ask.

          It would definitely make a big difference if nothing in the essential duties of a particular position stated that the employee must possess the capacity to lift a minimum amount of weight. Most desk jobs don’t have these minimums. The medical staff is being a little intransigent here, and may not know that it is the law of the land to accommodate for ADA purposes. She might have to circumvent them – I strongly recommend that she do that and go straight to HR. Do you have an HR department or HR-like person? Also, arm your friend with some information directly from the EEOC regarding ADA accommodations. The EEOC site is chock full of really good information for employees.

          1. Anon for this*

            Oh yes, it is a huge organization, so we have an HR department at our branch, and another HR department above them at the corporate office. That’s why I’m really surprised the medical staff is doing this; I would have expected such a large employer to be more sensitive to this kind of thing.

            I don’t know the details about the doctor’s note, but there was never a problem with the 10-pound lifting restriction. I suspect that the doctor is just not willing to sign something saying that Jane is cured and ready to return to work, probably because the doctor is afraid of getting sued!

    5. Observer*

      FMLA / ADA would come into play here – and it sounds like the employer is messing up BIG time.

      I agree with the others that a chat with HR is probably a first good step. Next EEOC and / or lawyer.

    6. ..Kat..*

      Before going ADA/FMLA/EEOC, what is her job? For instance, if she is an accountant, would her doctor be willing to write that she is cleared for her job as an accountant? Given that her boss and coworkers are already working around her not lifting more than 10 pounds, I would just ask the doctor to leave that off. This would allow her to work and would satisfy the nitpicking requirements.

  5. Work Wardrobe*

    Can anyone recommend good opaque tights for plus sizes? I’m in dire need for my fall work wardrobe…

    Most of them have super-constricting waistbands and narrow hips, even with the “Queen” designation. Help!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’ve had really good luck with Hue, which are sold at a bunch of places (I prefer to get them at a department store like Macy’s or Lord & Taylor). I wear a 14/16 and have several pairs that I’ve worn to the point that they fall apart because I find them pretty comfortable. They also tend to have great variety of patterns and colors. I’d recommend those if you haven’t tried them already.

          1. Chiming in for Clothes*

            Thirding Vera Wang! I get mine at Kohl’s – they’re affordable and super comfortable. I hate the waistband-choking of a lot of tights.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Hmm, I should check that out. I rarely go in there but I want to expand a little; I’ll wear dresses if I can wear tights (I hate going bare-legged) because I feel too nakey.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          14/16 are their L or XL, depending on your shape– I think they go up to 3X but don’t quote me on that.

      1. Jill*

        I love Hue as well, but they have a much more limited color selection for larger sizes than the smaller ones.

    2. Annoyamouse*

      I know this is the very basic response for plus-size women, but I’ve had really good luck with Lane Bryant’s Control Top. They’re fully opaque for me, and when I choose carefully with the size chart, I haven’t run into any too-tight-I-can’t-breathe or rolling-down-my-arse issues.

    3. LostRiverRanger*

      I love Commando brand. I am short and round (but with a small waist for ultimate waist band discomfort) and they are comfortable and *don’t* make me feel like a sausage. The waist design isn’t a band, per se. Expensive but they wear well and I also wash them (horrors) in the machine in a lingerie bag and they last multiple seasons (and I wear tights 3-4 days a week during our 9 months of winter)

      1. LostRiverRanger*

        And I also love Hue. Donna Karan’s were excellent for years as well. But waistband wise and comfort wise, I’m still most happy myself with Commando

    4. Orca*

      I know sockdreams dot com is great about putting measurements on their stuff (inches and pounds both) and testing with varieties of body types-I don’t have first hand experience with their plus sizing but have been super pleased with them when I’ve ordered stuff! Just went and clicked around a bit and I thought things specified opaque or not but that may have been reviews or just certain items.

      1. Cloud Nine Sandra*

        I have found their sizing to be pretty on target. They even have pictures of actual women who want wide calves or larger sizes wearing the tights.

    5. awkwardkaterpillar*

      I’ve had tights and legging from Torrid and I really like them. I haven’t tried their opaque tights but I find their stuff is cut really well for plus sizes (as they should be considering it’s a plus sized store but that doesn’t always happen…)

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I love Torrid leggings, but their tights are awful IMHO. They’re low riders and won’t stay up on me.

    6. Hmmmmm*

      I’m a huge fan of Berkshire tights. They’re opaque, breathable, and I have had great luck washing them in a washing machine inside one of those bag things. I get them from Lord and Taylor.

    7. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I get mine at Lane Bryant (size 18 – 20) and they’re really opaque and sturdy. I don’t know how many colors they come in, since I only look for black and dark gray myself. They may come in other, fun colors, but I haven’t paid any attention.

    8. Sled Dog Mama*

      Don’t know if this will work for you but after discovering maternity legging/tights, I will never go back to regular. The “waistband” is much more stretchy, because the waist band sits up around your ribcage it doesn’t leave that unsightly line around your middle and since they are made to sit up that high they don’t ride up into your crotch as badly

    9. Beth*

      I used to belong to a group of members of a plus-size clothing rental service, and many of them were fans of We Love Colors. Looking now, a lot of their stuff is more “fun” than businessy, but the women who wore them raved about them–I’m sure you could find some more neutral colors on the site!

    10. Bend & Snap*

      Berkshire! I get them off amazon, the sizing is spot on and the quality is great. I have better luck with the tights than the pantyhose as far as durability but I think that’s normal.

      Nordstrom brand also has plus size and they’re good. I got some really pretty nude ones and they were shredded before I got to work, but have had fine luck with black pantyhose and tights.

      1. Work Wardrobe*


        Sadly, I tried Nordie and they were gasp-inducing at the waist. I’m normally a 1X.

    11. Lala* has good quality tights/leggings, often with really cute designs. Also on, there’s a brand called Vivian’s Fashions that has plus size leggings that are designed for actual plus size hips/waists, though I do still go up one size. I’m normally a 26/28 or 4x in bottoms, so I know the struggle of things saying they’re plus size but then not actually fitting because the retailers just scaled up w/out taking into account the way things are distributed differently on larger bodies.

    12. Justme*

      Check out Sock Dreams. I’m not sure what their stock is like right now but they definitely carry those.

    13. NaoNao*

      We love colors is a site that specifically has tights in, you got it, colors! I believe they go up to a 2X or possibly higher, and they run large. Target’s plus sized tights were too large for me, even though I generally wear an XL or XXL in clothing, so that might work too.

    14. Cafe au Lait*

      Size 18 here, I love Spanx. They’re expensive, but by buying three pairs a year I’ve built a nice collection. What I love is that even the pairs I purchased years ago still look new.

    15. IvyGirl*

      Assets – made by SPANX, sold in Target. They’re great because they go up as high as you want them – like all the way up to underneath your bra. Half the price of SPANX tights. They also typically last for more than a year.

      I wear them under everything from about October – April, even pants and jeans, as another layer.

    16. JulieAnneCovet*

      I’m a big fan of We Love Colors for tights – they come in every color of the rainbow (even plus sizes), are reliably opaque, excellent customer service.

    17. Triplestep*

      I buy nothing at Walmart, but break my boycott once a year when I go in to stock up on George tights. Haven’t found anything as comfortable and low-priced anywhere, and paying more has been no guarantee of longer lasting tights.

    18. Former Retail Manager*

      Spanx brand……but not all versions. Specifically, I like the double sided version, one color on each side. And they’re virtually indestructible. I didn’t believe it until I ordered a pair for myself (black/charcoal). I’ve put these puppies through the ringer and even caught them on sharp metal objects. No snags, tears, runs, holes, nothing. They’re fabulous, but they are about $20 a pair.

    19. MissDisplaced*

      Strangely, I found at Walmart. Good price, lots of colors and thicknesses and came in “plus” size xl, 1x, 2x etc., which was nice. I think they were Hanes. I got for like $2-3 on end of season last year, but I’m sure they will be out again.
      Hue is also a good brand.

    20. General Ginger*

      I used to swear by We Love Colors when I wore tights — their tights go up to at least 4X, and are rugged enough to be machine-washable. Ignore the “fun” colors if they don’t work with your dress code — but their plain black, grey and navy are perfect.

    21. LavaLamp*

      You can also try thigh high stockings if you’re unable to find anything with a waist that fits. I don’t like things pinching my middle either, so that’s what I do.

    22. kitryan*

      Lands End – I am rather full in the hips/bottom/thigh region and average height and I’ve found them to work well in non-control top variety. I don’t like their sweater/texture/fleece tights though, they have narrower upper portions

    23. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I buy about 15 at a time of Forever 21’s plus-sized leggings. I live in them. They’re sooo comfy, and they come in a heather charcoal color which I love. They don’t last suuuuper long (hence why I buy like 10 at a time; they run out on the website all the time because they’re so popular) but they are dirt cheap, at I think $5.60 a pair, and will last a few months with regular wear. I stopped looking for other leggings once I found them!

  6. not so super-visor*

    I was on here a few weeks to give someone else encouragement when they had to fire/let someone go. It’s the part of my job that I dread the most. I’d really appreciate any positive vibes/mantras that anyone can send my way. I have to let another temp go, and I don’t think that he’ll take it well.
    He tries so hard that he literally shakes with frustration but after a month, he’s still struggling with basic concepts that we go over the first couple days (and claims that we’ve never gone over). My boss has already warned me that I spend too much time/effort trying to make “bad” temps work, but I feel like I owe them as much as I do our full-time employees. I’ve spent more time coaching him than any temp we’ve ever had.
    I’ve tried, he’s tried, but it’s just not going to work.

    1. YarnOwl*

      I’m sorry you have to do this! I can’t imagine having this as part of my job. It’s really kind of you to spend so much time helping them, and I know I would appreciate it if I were in the temp’s position. I hope it goes okay and that you don’t have to do it again anytime soon!

    2. dreams for plans*

      That is really kind of you to treat temps just as you would a full-time employee. Sending positive vibes- judging by your post, I feel like you know what to do it gently. Good luck!

    3. Your Weird Uncle*

      Positive vibes! You aren’t taking this lightly, which I’m sure your temp will at least be able to understand (later, perhaps). You sound like a great boss!

    4. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Here’s a good litmus test: if the position became full time, would you tap this guy for it or would you keep him there until you found a new employee?
      It’s not the right job for him. That is nobody’s fault. It sucks, but you can’t fix it. You need to tell the agency to send someone else.

      1. DDJ*

        Seconding this! And I think that “This is not the right job for you” is something to incorporate into your statements to him. It’s not a judgement thing, it’s a fit thing. And it’s not that the job is great and he sucks, it’s that the job is just not a good fit for him.

        Sending good vibes your way!

    5. SophieChotek*

      Good vibes! Hope you can get through what sounds like a difficult, but necessary, conversation. It sounds like you invest a lot in your employees to try to help them — like other’s have said, hopefully (someday, if not now), the temp will realize you truly wanted what was best for him — and that though he truly tried, it just was not a good match.

    6. spocklady*

      Ugh, good luck. That sounds awful. Poor him and poor you. I’m sure he’ll appreciate (later) how kind and patient you were with him through this whole thing, but ultimately effort only gets all of us so far.

    7. The Queen of Cans & Jars*

      Been there, done that. It sucks, but it’s a necessary evil some times. If he’s struggling as much as you say, it’ll probably be a relief to him (probably not something he’ll realize in the moment, but eventually). Good luck!

    8. Siberian*

      I had to fire a temp who wasn’t right for the job, and was able to do it in a way that preserved his dignity (thanks Alison!). I explained he didn’t have the right skill set and asked him about what his goals were for temping. He had skill set A, but had been sent to me by our central temp office claiming he had skill set B. And skill set A was an unusual one for temping (the guy had been a CEO). So I explained why it wasn’t working out, then asked why he’d joined the temp pool, learned that he thought he could launch a career in skill set A from the temp pool (nope!) and gave him advice on how to more successfully meet his career goals. Some of that might be appropriate in this case too.

    9. KR*

      You can be a reference to his effort to do the job correctly for future jobs maybe? Or if you have contacts for a role you think he would do well in you could reference those so he has job leads. Or you could refer him to training programs so maybe in the future he could improve and reapply?

    10. SarahKay*

      It’s not your fault! You’ve done the best you can (and good for you, treating temps as well as you do permanent heads!) but this guy just isn’t working out. Just be kind, and clear, when you tell him that it’s not working and you’re going to let him go. And if there are skills he does have, or things he is good at, let him know and suggest he discusses them with his agency with regards to future postings.
      Good luck!

    11. not so super-visor*

      Ugh… it’s done. He didn’t take it well (as expected) and made loud comments as I walked him out of the conference room, to his desk, out of the department, and out of the building about how I don’t offer enough training, he didn’t get any feedback, how was he supposed to know, how fast did we expect him to get this? Just very loud and repeated over-and-over again…. I remained fairly neutral during this except for a few “I understand that you’re upset.” I think that this is the most upset/bordering angry that I’ve been after letting a temp go. I think that his claims about lack of training and feedback when I spent so much time working with him. This is the same guy that I had to teach how to use copy-and-paste 4x!! I even got off of a conference call to show him.

      1. SarahKay*

        Glad you’ve got it over with, and sending you sympathy for his poor reaction. But that really sounds like you made the right decision, since it sounds like he won’t take any responsibility for himself.

  7. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    I have an interview on Monday for a job in my existing organization. It would be a considerable step up and very interesting work. The problem? I would be working with a person who never. stops. talking. I mean EVER! People run the other way when they see them coming. Any ideas how to handle this if I get the job?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Would you be working more closely with this person than other people would be? Or is this someone everyone needs to deal with in equal amounts time-wise?

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          And after the training? More closely or just the same as everyone else? If you’re dealing with this person as much as everyone else, chances are you will all have strategies to share with each other… or at least commiserate. If, however, you’ll work more closely with this person than anyone else, you may have an uphill battle in curtailing the non-stop chatter.

    2. State govt employee*

      Just tell them to stop talking. Tell them you are working and you don’t want to be distracted. If they continue, threaten to complain to your or their boss that they are interfering with your work.

      How does someone have the time to be this way? Will you have to pick up the slack?

    3. OhNo*

      How socially aware are they, do you know? If they’re not very good at picking up social cues, you’re not likely to make any dents in their interminable talk-a-thon, no matter what you try. In that case, your best bet would just be to tune them out however you can.

      If they do pick up on social cues, though, you can usually train people to associate certain actions with ‘They are not listening, guess I won’t bother to talk’. The trick is to pick your action (wearing headphones, looking at computer, etc.), then anytime they talk to you while you are doing that action you turn into a broken record of “I’m sorry, were you saying something?”, “Oh, were you talking to me?”, “Sorry, I was focused on [work thing], and I wasn’t listening. What were you saying?”

      It’s difficult, because you have to draw a hard line. You can never make so much as a neutral “mmhmm” noise while you are doing the action, and you always have to pretend you didn’t hear what they were saying, even if you were listening, even if it’s actually important or work-related. It’s worked for me on family members and coworkers, so it can be done with some people. But man, it is a lot of effort sometimes.

    4. Takver*

      I had this problem once. This guy would come and lean on the wall by my desk and ramble on. I would just tell him “I can’t talk now, I have to concentrate on this.” Then I would ignore him. I just treated him as if he weren’t there. He would ramble for a while, then go away. Now granted, I have a strong ability to tune out everything around me that not everyone has, but this worked for me.

    5. Cleo*

      I used to sit next to a constant talker – I started by interrupting them after a few minutes and saying “I’m enjoying talking with you but I need to work now” and then turning back to my desk.

      We developed a good rapport and on days I really needed to focus I’d tell him upfront that I needed my cone of silence. It worked because he was relatively self aware and knew he talked a lot.

      He also had a sense of humor about it. One time I came in, exchanged pleasantries and then he started into a story – I asked if this was going to be a long story (because I had work to do) and we heard a laugh snort from the other side of the cubical – and then we all laughed.

    6. A.N.O.N.*

      Make it clear that this is a “you” thing, like “I have this weird thing where I can’t focus on anything I’m doing if someone is talking loudly nearby” or “Since I’m new to this role, I really want to focus on my work and not spend so much time chatting”

    7. DDJ*

      Boundaries! I think that people let others get away with this type of behaviour because it can be mildly uncomfortable to say “I really need to get back to this thing I was working on, thanks for the chat!” Or “I’d love to keep this conversation going, but I do need to get back to x and y. Talk to you later!”

      I mean, that’s the first step, polite sort of stuff. If someone can’t respect those types of boundaries, then you need to escalate into slightly less soft responses. But I think these can be a good place to start! I also think that Cleo and A.N.O.N. have some excellent scripts!

  8. Sam Vega*

    I’m planning on going back to school in January to finish undergrad. I’m thinking of asking my supervisor whether it would be possible for me to go part-time. My current position is structured in such a way that it would be possible and I’ve been told by senior management that they’re looking at creating a new position that would probably begin around that time that I’d be particularly well-suited for. They’ve been hinting rather strongly over the past few months that they would like to see me in this role. I don’t know if they’re planning on this new role to be entirely different or if they’re planning on adding it to my (or someone else’s) current job duties.

    When should I start this discussion? I have a new supervisor, so I don’t know how well this request would be received. (I’m >99% certain that my past supervisor would have made this happen.) If it’s something they’re interested in doing, I want to give as much time as possible to plan the transition and not let anyone waste time on making plans that they’ll have to change either way, since if I can’t work PT, I’ll have to resign.

    However, I’m hyper-cautious by nature and don’t want to risk losing my job before I would otherwise have resigned…and that’s about 4 months from now. I’m sure this will be a case of ‘know your company’, which I really don’t anymore…there have been enormous changes in recent months, mostly not good.

    1. Becky*

      I’m not sure I can offer any advice on when to start that discussion, but I just wanted to say congrats on going back to finish your degree!

      1. Sam Vega*

        Thank you! I’m actually still waiting to hear back as to whether I’ve been accepted (and there’s no guarantee of that), but I have a hard time reining in my compulsion to plan.

    2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      I would start the discussion by saying you are interested in the position you are hearing discussed. Can we please meet and talk about the details of that, because I think it might be the right move for me.
      You don’t have to share your plans right now. Get all the info you can and come up with your proposal for going part time.

    3. It's me*

      Having been in a (somewhat) similar situation recently, my advice is to wait at least a couple of months before bringing this up. A couple of questions that might clarify the timing a little bit –
      – do you want to move into the new role if it is ultimately created, or would you prefer your current role?
      – any idea which role is more feasible as a part-time role?

      Also, I understand the impulse but I would not worry too much about them spending time making plans that ultimately have to be changed (that’s just life/business), as long as there is a reasonable time to create the new plan.

      1. Sam Vega*

        For the past several years, my job has been a hybrid of Function A and Function B, which are somewhat related but typically handled by different people (or departments). As a result of a large and ongoing reorg, Function A was recently dropped in favor of doubling my workload in Function B.

        I now have two departments (B1 and B2) to manage. Given a choice, I’d prefer dropping B2 and keep either B1 or transition to the new position (Function C). Depending on the details, C could be much better than B, and might actually be a lot more relevant to future career goals. It’s just too soon to tell for now.

    4. L*

      Congrats! I’m also going back to school in the fall and was able to work out an agreement to stay on part-time with my current employer. It can really depend on your supervisors and how flexible they might be. Most people will not hold it against you that you’re returning to school—it’s better than leaving for another job, in that it’s something that your coworkers and management can celebrate with you.

      If you have four months and you just got a new supervisor, I’d wait and just get a better feel for things. I told my manager with 1 1/2 months of lead time, which is a generous amount of time for notice and for working out possible part-time work. Just act like you would if you were going to keep working there, but if you are asked directly about role changes or offered the new position, that’s a great opportunity to have the conversation. You can frame it as wanting to give them plenty of time and info to plan, and wanting to share the good news.

      When you ask about part-time work, it’s helpful for them if you already have an idea of how many hours you might be interested in and what your availability would be. Obviously school is a long ways out, but even a ballpark of hours is helpful for them for planning and budgeting. If you don’t know yet, tell them when you think you’ll have a better idea. It’s a good idea to meet with HR after the announcement to talk about what’s possible on a practical level for part-time work and your benefits (if you’re not getting them through school). I wanted to make sure that I would still get my vacation days paid out if I downgraded to part-time, rather than quitting.

      For me, getting to a part-time agreement was a series of conversations about what I and the company needed, and everyone (including people I hardly work with!) has been very excited to see me heading back to school.

      1. Sam Vega*

        All of this makes sense, thank you! Are you going back to school for something related to your current job?

        One of my potential options might eventually relate to the company, but not at all to my current position. I guess I’m worried that it will look like I’m totally uninterested in what I’ve been doing for the last several years and that people might not be as excited for me as what you experienced.

  9. Nervous Accountant*

    Kind of a stupid Q but how do people screen for benefits such as health insurance when job searching? When I was searching I was only interested in getting hired, I didn’t even care about the salary. Now that I’m looking I’m not as desperate anymore (well…hopefully not)

    I think we have really good health insurance here. I pay about $500 a month in premiums (deducted from my paycheck) and medicine & visit co-pays. I have health issues so good health insurance is non-negotiable for me.

    On a broader note, how do you find out about any benefits at all (PTO etc?) About culture, environment, fit? What are the questions to ask? Do you just assume that big companies will offer great benefits? I have two vacations coming up in November & December, when do I bring those up? Am I supposed to wait until the offer to find out if they offer insurance and what kind of PTO? Do I mention it along w my desired salary?

    1. Anonymous Poster*

      These are such normal things to want to discuss with a potential employer!

      Standard timing advice applies, that you need to usually wait until the offer stage before bringing these things up. I agree that the timing stinks because it means going through the whole process before knowing whether you ever really wanted to bother with the place or not, but perhaps you know people in your industry that you can trust that also know whether such-and-such a company tends to have a good or bad policy about the things that are concerning you. For example, when I was looking once, I asked a friend that worked for a company I was considering what the general benefits package looked like so I knew what I was getting myself into. I also did a bit of research on glassdoor to figure out, about where a company would come in.

      It’s not a surefire thing and it’s all hearsay, so take it with a grain of salt.

      As for planned vacations, that also pops up during your negotiation phase. Otherwise it’s simply too early otherwise to talk about those things, unfortunately.

    2. Spills*

      For things like heath insurance, if they haven’t brought it up in the interview process, or if you’d like more detail, I usually ask to review both the insurance/benefits/PTO package and the employee handbook once I’ve received an offer.

      For things like culture/environment/fit, you should 100% be asking about that during the interviews. For things like upcoming vacations, I’d say wait until you have an offer, and then discuss with them. However, I’d approach it in a “I have a trip planned, but I’d understand if it won’t be possible for me to take the time off, as getting settled in the new job is my first priority.” I haven’t had an issue yet, as most companies understand that you’ve already scheduled and paid for these trips before you accepted the job with them. You’ll have to be OK with the possibility of taking them unpaid though.

    3. Fabulous*

      I’ve always had success (with bigger or public companies at least) finding the information on their website.

    4. Nervous Accountant*

      oh my god, so you have to go through the whole process before finding out about insurance? that’s insane!

      1. A.N.O.N.*

        If you consider it part of your overall compensation package, it makes a bit more sense. You wouldn’t negotiate salary until you have an offer, for example.

        That said, if it’s particularly important to you, you can try asking during an interview.

        1. zora*

          Well, sometimes a salary range is in the job posting, or they do give you some idea of their range before getting all the way to the offer stage.

          I actually think ideally that salary range AND the general outline of benefits should be part of the posting, especially as health care becomes a more and more urgent issue in the US.

      2. nonymous*

        For insurance, when they make an offer ask for the rate sheet summary that HR handed out to current employees during the last open enrollment. A lot of companies (even the big ones) only make that info available internally.

    5. ThatGirl*

      A lot of companies will offer you a benefits overview when you’re getting closer to the offer stage. It kinda depends, but I think you can definitely ask during, say, a second-round interview – “do you have an overview of benefits available?” or something like that. Vacation I might also bring up around the same time, but it can wait until the offer when you say “just so you know, I have pre-scheduled vacations, will that be an issue?”

      I recently got two offers and one company sent a whole wealth of insurance info along with it; the other one basically sent a form letter that said “we have health insurance.” guess which one I took.

    6. Hmmmmm*

      I always look up a company on Glassdoor to get an idea of the benefits are like before deciding if its worth your time at all to attend an interview with a company. I always check the salaries too, but those can be more subjective or dependent on the role. Health insurance and PTO tend to be roughly the same for most employees, so the information is pretty good. I also usually try to find the benefits page aimed towards current employees on company websites. You would be surprised how many companies have their on their internet portal, not intranet.

    7. Mirth & Merry*

      I wouldn’t bring it up in say a phone screen/first interview, I do think it is pretty safe to assume that there will be some type of benefits and the 2 weeks PTO for *most* companies. But just ask! If they bring up salary expectation etc. that is definitely a good time and it’s definitely not a secret! When I have done final interviews there was always a short session with HR and they went over all the benefits details and I think having those before the offer helped because it put salary in perspective.

      Here is one of AAM old articles that is in my bookmarks until I retire. I think #6 “What type of people tend to really thrive, and what type don’t do as well?” has saved me. And good luck!

    8. Susan*

      I’ve found most companies to be pretty forthcoming about their benefits, and sometimes even have info on their web sites. I mainly apply to large companies with pretty good benefits, though, so maybe companies with poor benefits try not to bring them up.

      The thing that drives me crazy is that they’ll give all this information about their health insurance, what is and isn’t covered, what percentage is covered for each plan, etc., but they don’t give any information about the cost of the premiums! So, ok, you offer a great plan that covers 90% of your costs and no copay, etc., but if the premiums cost $2000/month, that is actually a terrible plan. I have never been able to find out the cost of the premiums until I actually start the job and make my benefit elections.

    9. periwinkle*

      If the company you’re applying to has a careers webpage, they might also include an overview of what’s available and even a “what it’s like here” page. This will all be the rosy company-approved perspectives, but it’s information nevertheless.

      Glassdoor has expanded the crowdsourced info to include a tab on benefits. This is a good place to check to find out if the company with the “generous vacation time” actually allows you to take vacations or guilt trips you into staying chained to the desk…

    10. NotAnotherManager!*

      Our HR has a benefits info packet that they provide to anyone who’s receiving an offer, and there is also a high-level blurb on the careers portion of our website about the benefits offered. As someone else mentioned, benefits are part of comp, so it should be discussed as part of that negotiation once both of you decide that you want to move forward.

      I would not mention the vacations until you have an offer either. We negotiate vacations for incoming people all the time and can nearly always manage to accomodate them.

    11. Optimistic Prime*

      For benefits you do need to wait until the offer stage to ask the team, but at big companies you can often find these out by searching the net. Some companies actually have their full benefits listed on one of their careers websites – my company has a pretty comprehensive list on our Careers website. Also, at really big companies there are blog posts and Quora articles and Glassdoor posts that people have posted, and while they’re not always 100% accurate or up-t0-date, sometimes you can piece together the basics.

      One oblique way to get at it is to ask about work-life balance in your interviews – sometimes people will mention how the benefits (particularly vacation time) allow them to balance their work and life.

      But for culture I asked this at my interviews. I asked what the team’s culture was like explicitly, and how people interacted and worked together.

  10. Folklorist*

    ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST! Go do something terrible you’ve been dreading and come back here to brag about it! Suck it up, buttercup! :-P

    1. NotThatGardner*

      thanks, folklorist! i just responded to an email i’ve been avoiding because of the can of worms i’m worried it might open… and got my boss on board to help me if they do end up spilling open!

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve started researching the regulatory requirements for NBFIs (non-bank financial institutions): broker-dealers, pawn brokers, investment companies, etc. I’m in banking and it’s a “suggestion” from a regulatory agency. It seems as though we’re the only bank having to do this to this degree, so I’m not finding a lot of peer resources. On top of that, the regulatory and licensing requirements are so not fun to read. Plus, there’s no central listing of registered pawn brokers, which means asking these customers for a copy of their license (granted through the local PD) and having to get pushback from them and the branches that “other banks don’t do this!” I just want to cry. And eat.

    3. LCL*

      Ahead of you this time. I cleaned my desk on Wednesday (it took hours) and decided that I would count it as my anti-procrastination task. (I make notes as I work, usually have to refer back to the notes, then never throw them away. I don’t have months’ backlog of jobs stacked up on my desk.)

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I have to clean the house, but that will take several hours, and I have to do laundry when I do it, and I have to go out first, so I will do it after that.

      Right now I will go check job listings (GROAN).

    5. H.C.*

      Filing all the mileage reimbursement forms for the week (had 2 evening events & 2 off-site morning meetings)

    6. Shortie*

      Urgh, I just put on a load of laundry. May not sound so terrible in the scheme of things, but I thought it was absolutely horrific. :-) Okay, now on to the real anti-procrastination task. Strength training and treadmill!

    7. DDJ*

      Thank you! I ended up getting my consolidated report finished, sent out a bunch of emails that needed to get done, updated a bunch of spreadsheets, and submitted a benefits claim that I’ve been too lazy to get done. Hurray!

  11. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Ha, got in early!

    I have been working for five weeks at my legal contract job paying over twice my usual rate, and I keep telling myself not to get too comfortable with the increased money, because it’s only for now and my IbR for loans also went up this year.

    But it’s hard! I really like not making lunches any more because I go out, or getting coffee more than the once a week I previously did. I like not having to be “careful” and maybe wait to buy a coffee or gas or go out somewhere until after a paycheck drops.

    I’m still saving some, but how does one be careful when variable income goes (way) up, while still enjoying oneself?

    1. Emmie*

      Allow yourself these initial indulgences. You haven’t had them for a while. After you’ve had a few months of this, it might be easier to occasionally indulge. You have my IBR sympathies. Congratulations!

    2. neverjaunty*

      Enjoy what you’re doing now! Small indulgences (like a coffee or a sandwich) aren’t going to kill you if you have good financial habits.

    3. ReanaZ*

      Set up your payroll deductions to give yourself only a partial ‘raise’ into your bank account and auto-deposit the rest into savings you don’t look at regularly. Can’t spend what you don’t see!

      1. OhNo*

        ^ This! That is my number one trick for keeping myself to a budget, regardless of the reason. Put the money somewhere else, where I can’t see it or get to it easily, and it might as well not exist.

        You can (and should!) give yourself a little extra to enjoy those indulgences while you’re able, but you can both budget and indulge as long as you plan for it.

      2. Ashley*

        Yes! Give yourself a small buffer but try to live on the old as much as possible so you don’t have major problems next year.
        Treat yourself but set a limit. (Pre-paid gift cards have helped me with the coffee runs.)

        1. nonymous*

          I think prepaid cards would also quell the “I’d better indulge while I can!” feeling.

          Say HighPayingJob allows for a budget of $30/week in coffee & treats while still savings. If overcaffeinatedandqueer buys the cards every week while at this pay rate, and doesn’t use them all she will still be able to use the balance even after downshifting to lower pay. There’s nothing wrong with small indulgences within budget. full stop. no guilt!

    4. Morning Glory*

      Instead of stressing over small luxuries. why not set a savings goal each month, and set a goal for paying extra on any debt each month? Choose amounts that will give you a bit of wiggle room for indulgences, and as long as you meet your goals, don’t feel guilty about buying lunch or coffee sometimes.

    5. Sualah*

      When I finally got a big raise and got to a more “comfortable” place, I figured out how much I needed per paycheck and I have my direct deposit split into my checking and savings, and the same amount always goes into my checking and any extra goes right into savings. (Even if it’s just a little bit extra, like working one hour of overtime.) This is based on my net pay, so all my 401k and all that are already taken out.

      Example numbers: Say that my net pay with base, no OT, working 40 hours/week is $1286.19. Say that I generally need about $1100/week and I am able to pay all my bills and have a few indulgences (like if I made $1100 net, the water would be right at my head, but not over). So $1100 into checking and $186.19 into savings. And when I have some extra pay, say $1463.12 net, $363.12 goes into savings that week. If I go over my $1100 and I pull from savings, that’s not the end of the world, but I know to watch it and I know to bring some lunches next week (or whatever).

      For me, using this method I started with putting about $66/paycheck into savings and now it’s over $500 as my salary has increased. But when I had braces and my FSA payment increased, there was a time it went from something like $170 into savings to just under $100. But I didn’t feel that as much because I was budgeting on my “base” of the example $1100. (And also, I didn’t have to make braces payments out of my net pay, which helped.)

      I don’t know if this makes any sense, but maybe it was helpful. I hope you can find a system that works for you!

    6. Your Weird Uncle*

      I’m in the same boat! One thing that I do, which helps put my mind at ease, is through a subscription to YNAB (although you could totally do this yourself, you just have to be pretty disciplined). I make sure that I have my bills budgeted ahead of time, so, for instance, now that I’m switching jobs and not quite sure when my next paycheck is going to drop, I know that at least I can cover my car payment, student loan, etc. through October. Then any extra money I will either put toward another payment coming up in November, or a few indulgences, or a mixture of both. I find it helps me stay on track without either being completely miserly or worrying that I’m not going to have my bills covered.

      1. spocklady*

        I want to second YNAB — I’ve found it to be so so helpful. I don’t worry vaguely anymore that “I’m not saving enough” because I have some concrete things I have savings goals for (and, as @Your Weird Uncle says, I’m budgeted out a ways in advance, so next month is already covered. Which took some time to get to but it’s great).

        So now, it’s easier for me to stop having feeeelings about my money (oh my god I used to have so many feelings) and be a little more objective and think about it as choices. Like, ok, I just got a paycheck in; once I’ve covered what I need to cover, how much extra do I want to put towards Goal X, and how much do I want to put into, like, restaurants or clothes or books or whatever? Then if I’m getting close to my arbitrary budget limit, I get to re-evaluate.

        Anyway. Clearly I am a super nerd about budgeting, but you might try giving it a shot!

    7. State govt employee*

      Can you have a set amount automatically transferred from checking to savings every paycheck date?

    8. Leena Wants Cake*

      If you do want to treat yourself during a “fat” time, but also don’t want to feel deprived during a “lean” time, use the extra money toward something that will continue to benefit you months down the road. If coffee is your luxury, maybe get a nicer coffee maker or coffee flask (to inspire yourself to bring your own–both now and in the future) or stock up on k-cups in exciting flavors to use at the office. Nice pens/stationary, stockpiled snacks (assuming you have enough self control to eat them all at once), or monthly delivery service subscription of your choice can all cheer you up down the road. Or get a few nice items of winter clothing that you’ll enjoy breaking out many months from now. You’ll get the thrill of the purchase now (while you can afford it), but be able to enjoy it even if the money dries up.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        That makes sense! I am going to buy a fitness tracker with mindfulness exercises, first, as the lasting thing. Take away some worry during lean times!

      2. spocklady*

        OOoohhh, that’s a great idea!

        FWIW, even though I just gushed above about YNAB, I did used to do the “auto-deposit x of my paycheck into savings I don’t look at often” and that worked pretty well too. Good luck!

    9. Not So NewReader*

      You could stash some small bills away at home. For example, I put my change and ones in a jar. On leaner weeks I have a couple bucks to get a coffee or two.

      Self-deprivation does not work. In some cases it causes irrational spending if there is a sudden pool of money available. Find ways to put treats into your week. You could consider making a batch of cookies at home to take to work with you.
      I fill glass water bottles from my filtered water system at home so I do not buy bottled water when I am out. This frees up funds to get a treat once in a while. Sometimes you can make shifts and gain wiggle room that way.

      Oddly setting long term goals can help off-set the need for something immediate. If you know that you are saving for X and in Y time frame you will be able to get X, then it might be easier to drink that coffee from home than go buy one.

      For myself, no single strategy works. I need several and I need to rotate through them.
      And I also like to watch how emotions play into my purchasing decisions. “Damn. I have had a rough day. I SO deserve this coffee/pizza/whatever.” Reality is that there are other things I can chose to help ease my rough day.
      For years, I loved buying my lunch out. Then I did the math. I could make my own lunch at home for 66% less cost per day. And this idea motivated me for quite a while. After a bit, my health issues motivated me to watch my eating choices. And I had to plan ahead for random cravings. This one finally cured me of eating in restaurants a lot.

      Where I am at now: There is a freedom to not having to make a lunch. But this freedom is a sneak thief. It can chew up extra cash and it can encourage bad eating habits which impact health later on. In my life the freedom from making lunches at home was an illusion. It wasn’t freedom.

    10. Cloud Nine Sandra*

      I keep a budget, one that I did myself on Excel because I heart excel. Started off by listing all my bills, including voluntary donations or subscription boxes or the like. Doctors appts, if you have those regularly. Prescription medication. Make a row marked savings as well. Also any regular dependable grooming: eyebrow wax or hair cut. That’s my vertical axis. Across the top I list my payday and what each check should be. (I don’t have PTO, so my check varies depending on holidays, etc.) At the bottom I see what I’ll have leftover after each pay period’s bills. Mine currently goes out to March 2018. Once you see what’s left over after your absolutely must pay, you can better decide what to do with it. Put some in savings. Put some in the splurge at Amazon category. Put some in the eating out category. I am not in the realm of having yay increased paychecks, so this helps me not overspend. But planning ahead will let you see if certain bills go up, how much you might need in reserve to eat twice a week.

    11. attornaut*

      For me, the easiest thing is to give myself permission to do something X days a week. So if I bring in lunch from home Monday-Thursday during the week, I’ve earned a Friday lunch takeout guilt-free. If one of those days I get takeout, I lose my Friday lunch treat.

    12. Random Thoughts*

      I kind of split the difference with my lunches. I make really excellent lunches on Sunday afternoons and spend more than I previously did but nowhere near as much as buying lunch daily. Today, I’m marinating duck, that I’ll be slow roasting later to shred and wrap in rice paper rolls with salad and chutney. It makes me look forward to my packed lunch each day, rather than think “I’ll go eat my peanut butter sandwich again”.

      Where I work I’d spend $10 to $15/day on lunches and I decided I’d rather do something else with that money. Maybe there’s better prices where you are and my suggestion wouldn’t help but I thought I’d throw it out there.

  12. Berry*

    My friend just started a new job (first week) and is still learning the software and getting up to speed, however she finds while she’s done for the day by 5-6pm, everyone else in her office is pulling 12 hours days, which she didn’t expect. She’s been finding that she’s been sticking around for an extra hour or two doing nothing just to seem like she’s not leaving way earlier than anyone else, but doesn’t know how to politely leave at the end of her workday.

    (For context, this isn’t something she expected in the interview, and from what it seems this is new since the guy she was hired to replace left, and hopefully it’ll speed up as they hire new people to cover the amount of work.)

    I remember seeing a question a little while back about how to figure out what time is appropriate to leave at the end of the day when starting a new job, but couldn’t find it. Anyone else know what I’m talking about, or have any advice I can pass on?

    1. k8*

      my dad’s advice has always been to make sure you’re at least leaving after your boss . . . which hasn’t actually always been applicable for me at least, but might be a place to start?

      1. jmm*

        Yikes, I think this might need to be filed under well-intentioned but bad advice. Or maybe I have always just worked for workaholics – but my boss routinely stays until 7-8 p.m. and comes in at 6-7 a.m., and she’d have to triple my salary to get me to do that.

        1. k8*

          Yeah, in my current industry people are pretty respectful of normal working hours and having a healthy work/life balance, so it made sense when i was starting out to help me get a gauge of what was expected of me– but in the past when I was an assistant to a high-powered ad exec who left the office at god knows when, it certainly didn’t make much sense at all.

      2. SarahKay*

        My boss used to worry when I did that! Her feeling was that she’s the boss, she’s paid to suck it up and work the bad hours when needed, while I was not paid for that and should not do it. I mean, there were crazy weeks when we both had to do long hours, but for sure she didn’t expect, want, or like, me to do longer hours than she did.

      3. Kristina*

        Noooo! I mean, it depends on your boss I guess but I manage a team of five and I get nervous if I see anyone consistently staying later than me, since I already stay later than most people at our office. Obviously there are exceptions but my general philosophy (which I inherited from a previous manager) is, I’m ok if it’s me burning the midnight oil but I don’t want to put that on my team. Again it depends, but if I had an employee who consistently stayed later than me I might worry that they have too much on their plate and are in danger of burning out.

    2. Evil HR Person-like Being*

      Does she have a concrete start-and-stop time, like from an offer letter? She should leave when her work is done, and since she’s new, her work right now is learning (which isn’t really *done* ever!). Eventually, when she becomes part of the projects that everyone else is working on, she’ll have to pull those 12-hour days, so she should enjoy the early days that being a newbie afford her. But if she feels awkward about it, she should say to her boss: “I’m feeling awkward leaving at 6pm while everyone else is still working, but I don’t have anything else to do after that time.” Her boss will probably help her with the awkwardness OR give her more work!

    3. Siberian*

      My experience is that in new jobs, you aren’t busy at first. You’re not fully trained so you’re not doing all the duties you’ll do when you get up to speed. So however she decides to handle it, she should keep in mind that her current situation is temporary.

      The other thing I’ll add is that my friend always says “begin as you mean to go on.” If your friend is not the kind of person who is willing to hang around pointlessly, or work unpaid extra time, then she might consider setting that standard up front. It all depends on the climate where she is. I was very clear about the time I left one of my early jobs—they paid me for 16 hours/week, I had a tiny baby at home, and at 2 pm I left. Period. I budged only for emergencies (and then did so cheerfully). That was fine when I was an admin in a low-stress environment. Won’t fly everywhere.

  13. Annoyamouse*

    So there is a woman in my office who is super nice and decent at her job, and as my office is growing in size, some of her duties shifted and she’s now been moved into my corridor. And she has the. world’s. loudest. laugh. It’s big and loud, and while it’s fine when we’re socializing, she’s now in my hall and it irritates me at least two to five times a day, because we’re a casual yet high-achieving department and all friendly, and laughing is normal and the camaraderie around here is a great perk of the job.

    I don’t want to do anything about it, but I’m hoping other people might want to commiserate with me about the little things that drive you just a bit crazy about the people you work with. Not big things, but small: the song that your office mate gets stuck in your head once a month, or the way your colleague signs his e-mails, or whatever.

    1. Pearly Girl*

      Oh hells yeah.

      We have a high giggler who roams the halls.

      And we have a Whale Yawner. Think about that for a minute. Long, mournful yawns with sound effects.

      1. General Ginger*

        Oh, no, I think I might be a Whale Yawner. I hope I’m not your Whale Yawner, though!

    2. annamouse*

      oh, yeah, we have a loud laugher who sits near me too. Nice person, and I’m glad she’s happy, but sometimes the noise does… grate.

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      Oh my freaking god, I’m with you. There’s someone in my office who has the worst horse laugh ever. He’s not on my team, but because we’re an open office I hear him all. the. time.

      Solidarity, sister (brother?).

    4. Susan*

      Oh, yeah, I feel for you. I’ve had a couple of coworkers with really loud, annoying, frequent laughs, and it really gets on my nerves after a while!

      Other annoying coworkers:
      -The guy who says “literally” in almost every sentence that comes out of his mouth, even when there would not be any question as to whether he means it literally (“It literally just started raining.” “If you want to print this, you can literally just hit control-P.”)
      -The woman who loves to rearrange/reorganize/move stuff around for no real benefit, so the rest of us can never find supplies.

      1. I prefer tea*

        I work at a church and the choir room is directly below my office. A guy comes in once a week to practice his solos. He sings loudly, and with great passion…and little respect for the key. He is so flat, it’s like nails on a chalkboard.

        It’s not a joyful noise.

      2. The Queen of Cans & Jars*

        Do you work with Chris Traeger? :D I was totally hearing that with his inflection.

    5. stephistication1*

      I had a woman that sat across from me that sucked ice ALL DAY LONG. Was happy when she retired.

    6. Mononymous*

      In my last office it was the scream-sneezer! She must have had allergies because she’d sneeze every single day at least once or twice, and it was always preceded by a super-loud, sudden AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH that nearly made me jump out of my chair each time.

      1. Susan*

        I once had a coworker with incredibly loud, weird-sounding sneezes. He always sneezed three times in a row, followed by a loud yelling/grunting noise. It was honestly kind of frightening.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I had a coworker like that but he would sneeze five times. UNNRRRG UNNRRG UNNRRG UNNRRG UNNRRG!

          If he stopped at four, all you had to do was wait–there was always another one.

        2. jpchatham*

          I’ve never heard of anyone else who does multiple sneezes! It’s good to know I’m not alone! It’s always multiples of three for me – usually just 3, but if there’s a lot of pollen in the air it’ll be 6 or even 9. 15 is my record (it gets hard to breathe after a while; I don’t recommend it).

          I don’t think I’m particularly obnoxious about it though. I definitely don’t yell at the end.

        3. Nic*

          I’ve gone through various sneeze patterns in my life. For a long time if it was more than 2 in a row I’d get sick, and then for a while it was 3 every. single. time.

          My mom sneezes in primes. It’s really funny when she hits the 8th sneeze, because she knows it’s going to be 11. I don’t think she’s gone past that.

      2. Kristen*

        Lol, I hope that’s not me. I sneeze at least a few times a day and don’t hold back. My sneezes are very satisfying.

    7. WellRed*

      We used to gave a giggler who’d ocassionally shriek. As one co worker put it on a particularly bad day: “my ears are bleeding.” I also have a very vocal sneezer (literally amd loudly would AaaaaCHOOOO!) I finally asked her to be more mindful of that. It worked!

      1. nonymous*

        I wonder if a lot of these sneeze-noise issues could be addressed by covering their mouth/nose? ya know? not just for preventing the spread of germs!

    8. Sualah*

      I sat next to a whistler. OMG. Nicest guy in the world–he invited me, and I went, to his wedding–but sometimes I couldn’t stand it.

      I had vented about this to my sister once and she made all the right noises, “Oh, yes, must be awful” but a couple years later she sat close to a whistler and was like, “OMG now I know, I didn’t take you very seriously before!”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I had another coworker who whistled but he did it really well and very quietly, like under his breath, and he would also sing and make up funny words to songs. You never knew what he would come out with. He made me laugh so much.

    9. Squeeble*

      Oh, yeah. My coworker’s desk phone ringtone is just a man’s voice asking “Are you there?…Are you there?” The thing is, it sounds almost EXACTLY like my coworker’s voice, so at first I thought he was just saying it himself. He thinks it’s hilarious.

    10. Rookie Manager*

      One of my team ALWAYS writes ‘were’ as ‘where’. It drives me round the bend. It wouldn’t be so bad if she wasn’t the proof-reader for half the team and didn’t dream of becoming a teacher. She also hates full stops, or I presume she does because they never appear at the end of a paragraph (mid para sentances are normally puntuated).

      1. nonymous*

        That makes me remember, my mom used to refer to full stops as “foot stops”. Because the dot sticks out to the bottom right, like a little foot at the end of your sentence.

    11. Hellanon*

      One of my office mates (not part of my work group, but in an office in our area) is the King of LOUD. His speaking voice is loud, his laugh is louder, and even through a closed door you can hear him. Nice guy, but jeez…. no volume switch.

      1. SarahKay*

        Oh, I have that, although in this case it’s the person in the next desk over. He works mostly with remote teams, so has a lot of calls and does them all in a very clear, carrying voice.
        Mostly I can ignore them but sometimes…Grrr!

    12. Lora*

      The people who do not respect the Headphones Rule. People, I have bright blue headphones. You can SEE them. That means don’t bug me, because I am busy.

      I hate open offices.

    13. Alice Ulf*

      I love my boss, but she has such an obnoxious ringtone on her personal cell and she invariably forgets to turn the volume down at the office. I’ll just be working steadily in silence and then suddenly, at full volume:


      1. spocklady*

        Oh my god.

        That must be awful, but I almost did a spit take on my screen picturing that. How is she not totally mortified? How…what?

        I had a text notification that I was…pretty sure was starting to annoy my office mate, so I got a new one and let her know (yeah, it was past “starting to” I’m pretty sure from the look she gave me) but also I started just putting my phone on vibrate when I walked into the building. Because she was lovely and I didn’t want her to stab me.

        Seriously. What is your boss thinking?

      2. The Queen of Cans & Jars*

        Someone in my office had a text notification that was a duck quacking. Funny the first couple of times and then drove everyone crazy, including our ultra-mild-mannered GM, who eventually sent an email out demanding that whoever had the god-awful ring tone needed to turn it off or change it immediately.

      3. OhNo*

        Oh, man. I have been guilty of this on occasion in the past (to a lesser degree, I hope). I usually have my ringer on silent, but in the rare event it’s on I always accidentally leave it really loud. The only plus is that my ringtone sounds like crickets, so instead of music, it’s SUDDENLY BUGS CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        Oh God, that’s awful!

        Bullyboss at OldExjob had the sting song “Roxanne” as his ringtone for a while. So we’d be sitting there and suddenly, “Roooooooooooooooooooxaaanne! You don’t have to put on the red light!” would happen. For a good twenty minutes after that, the sales guys would look at each other and quietly go, “rooooooxaanne!” and then laugh their butts off.

        Another coworker at Exjob had “Kung Fu Fighting”–a song where the mere mention of the title will get it stuck in my head, a dog barking, and a crazy man’s laugh as her ringtones (clearly assigned to different people). Top volume, of course.

      5. Chicago Recruiter*

        I like that song *slinks away*… but as a ringtone I can see how that would be annoying. There is an otherwise delightful lady who works in my department whose ringtone is the theme from a popular sitcom and the text tone is a main characters catchphrase and it goes off All. Day. Long.

    14. YarnOwl*

      Last Halloween, one of the people who sits in my vicinity , changed their ringtone to the slasher music from Psycho, and they never changed it back. This person also happens to be one of those kinds of people who just lets their phone ring and ring and ring and ring, so a few times a week we hear the slasher music going through the office and just have to listen to it for a minute until it stops ringing! It might not seem like a lot, but it drives me bananas!!!

      1. JustaTech*

        I have a coworker who had the “whistle song” from Kill Bill as his ring tone, and would often leave his phone at his desk when he was in the lab. Eventually I freaked me out enough times I had to ask him to switch it (which he did very graciously).

      2. EasilyAmused*

        At PreviousJob, we would hear the breathy tones from Friday the 13th every time co-worker got a text. Eeh eeh eeh ehh Aah aah aah aah. throughout the

    15. Gloria Burgle*

      We have a person that will sneeze about 20 times in a row every few hours. And of course it’s not a quiet muffled sneeze. I want to leave some allergy medicine on their desk. :p

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

      When I first started at my university, the provost’s EA (whose office was 20 feet from mine) had a big whooping high-pitched laugh — Whaaaaaaa hahahahahah whaaaaaaa hahahahahah. It was cartoonish with a big whooping wind up. I just had to go to the break room and have some tea when she got started.

      I share an office with a very loud sneezer. Since he doesn’t sneeze top often, it’s not that bad to me, but others on the floor have complained. About every 10th sneeze though is SUPER loud and echo-y and gives me an adrenaline rush from the shock.

      Years ago I shared an open office space with a hummer/whistler/tapper/singer. Nice guy but he seriously couldn’t stop making noise. I joked that he had musical Tourette’s and his wife completely agreed with me. Over time I just got used to it so it became like white noise.

    17. Princess Carolyn*

      The woman two cubicles down from me has the loudest phone voice. And of course she spends a lot of her day on the phone, often talking to people who are in potentially noisy places. I can hear her every word, even through my noise-canceling headphones. She’s perfectly nice and just doing her job, but some days it drives me nuts.

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        I can relate. in my office we have a guy who talks EXTREMELY LOUD!! Almost to the point of screaming.

        1. Windchime*

          We have this guy in our office, too. He doesn’t ever seem to sit at his own desk; instead, he either rolls a chair over or stands in someone else’s cube and hollers at them. Not necessarily work-related; he is an expert on many topics (I now know more than I ever needed to know about solar eclipses). And he talks so Urgently! Everything he says! Is URGENT! Because he is an EXPERT!

      2. zora*

        We have two really loud phone talkers. And work in very small shared offices. One of my coworkers has tried to talk to them about it, but one of the Loud Talkers got super emotional and was tearing up, so coworker refuses to bring it up again.

        It’s so funny to me because their normal voices are totally normal, but as soon as they pick up the phone the volume goes way up. But, my work is super easy so I’m able to just laugh about it, my poor coworker has a lot of heavy concentration-required work, and it drives her insane.

    18. LCL*

      The way one of my coworkers will explain something to a coworker, that I just explained. It’s not mansplaining though, he does this with everything anyone tells him. it’s like it hasn’t happened unless he said it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I had a boss like this. He had to explain everything three times, and if you stopped him at all, even to say “Thanks, I got it,” so you could leave, he would get mad.

    19. Allie Oops*

      I have a Sailor Sneezer. His vocalization during the sneeze sounds…much like a word for feces.

    20. spocklady*

      Ugh. Good luck.

      I currently sit next to a very nice person who has some unusual vocal mannerisms. It has taken me a few months to get used to it. I’m most of the way there now, I think.

      1. Windchime*

        I used to work with a guy who I am pretty sure had a form of Tourette’s. He had a lot of vocal tics, and one was that he would make a “p-kew” sound, like little kids make when they are pretending to shoot with their fingers. He would do it over and over again till it nearly drove me mad. But it seemed to be something that he truly could not control.

    21. Gee Gee*

      The Finger Snapper walked behind me at the exact moment I started reading this. Apparently this guy needs an internal metronome to remember how to walk, because all GD day he goes around snapping in the exact rhythm of his footsteps. I kind of want to tape his hands to see if he falls down.

      1. SarahKay*

        Oh, gosh, so much this. There are two or three people who will walk the length of our office (about 40 feet) snapping their fingers. On good days I want to tape their fingers together. On bad days, my feelings are more about snapping their fingers off…

    22. Detective Amy Santiago*

      At old job (a cube farm), there was someone at the other end of my row for a while who was the loudest typer I have ever heard. Like, I cannot even replicate how loud she banged the keyboard without hurting my fingers.

      1. spocklady*

        Apparently there are quiet typers and aggressive typers. I’m in the second category (I know, I’m sorry, it’s just…really hard to even notice I’m doing it most of the time); my old office mate told me she used to call people like us “angry typers.”

        I sound like a terrible person to work next to (I am a loud-ish, often multiple, sneezer, no vocalizations that I know of though; also I crack my knuckles a lot) but same old office mate literally just messaged me yesterday that she missed me. Out of the blue. So I must have some redeeming qualities!

    23. only acting normal*

      I hate full open plan…
      *Three* super loud sneezers, two of whom sit right by me.
      *Two* super loud telephone talkers, who sit across the pseudo-corridor but I can still hear every word.
      I fear I’m the one with the loud laugh (small children stare at me when I laugh, adults are usually too polite) – sorry world.
      One colleague will throw things to get my attention if I have headphones on. >:(
      Desk-meetings – not quick fly-by questions, but sitting down for 4 fricking hours and talking through work on the screen. GET A ROOM!
      I have a colleague who sits on another quieter floor, and keeps trying to get me to move to sit at the free desk next to him, but… he’s a terrible fidget – as in jingling the coins in his pocket, or opening and closing the metal clasp on his watch all. the. time. *click-click click-click click-click* AARGH!

    24. Aealias*

      I AM the annoying coworker. I have the world’s loudest hiccups. I don’t know why. Muffling them is often impossible, and it’s genuinely painful to try. The uninitiated have taken me for a scream of horror or a barking dog. Luckily, I get them very rarely, and usually only one or two at a time. Unluckily, their rarity means when the DO happen, there’s always one person around who’s never heard them before, and jumps out of their skin.

      1. Nic*

        I don’t know what it is about CurrentJob, but I’ve had hiccups so often since I’ve been here. They’re not terribly loud, but they’ll go on for hours.

        I just know all my coworks are probably either pitying me or wishing me harm by the time they go away. I have not found a successful remedy.

    25. B. Mech*

      My sweet, enthusiastic coworker is a skin picker. Makes me feel queasy and anxious seeing her claw at her scabby upper arms

      1. Rainbow Hair Chick*

        I worked with a girl who would whine when she needed something eg Wakeeeeennnnn? I finally pulled her aside and told her to use her Big Girl Voice when she needed something.

    26. I'd rather be blue*

      Yep, I am another one of those “open office” drones. The woman next to me has what I can only describe as “weeping voice.” She constantly sounds like she’s about to burst into tears or have a massive anxiety attack. She’s on the phone constantly and often describes her health issues in a loud, detailed manner. She also slams things around and reacts loudly to everything. Total office dementor.

      Also, the open office is next to our rehearsal space, which we rent out. Highlights from that include:
      – Loud wubbing experimental electronic music…all day.
      – Shouting auditions, from the sounds of it.
      – Christmas carols for 3 months.
      – Drumming…just drumming.

      Headphones are a must.

      1. Rainbow Hair Chick*

        Just remembered one more in cubicle farm! We had a lady who would sigh loudly EVERY time her phone rang. She worked in a call centre as customer service so this happened a lot.

        1. Can I let it go to voicemail?*

          Haha! I worked in a customer service call center and HATED IT. I wonder how often I sighed when my phone rang…

    27. Chaordic One*

      In my previous job there were couple of people like this. One was a strikingly attractive young woman with long dark hair who had this bizarre laugh that sort of like Mortimer Snerd. Then there was the department head, an odd looking middle-aged man who laughed like Goofy.

    28. Amelia*

      I had a coworker at a previous job who was…memorable. She would burp relatively quietly, but audibly, through the entire day. Through any conversation you had with her. Through meetings. While just sitting at her desk. I counted once when we were in a meeting together and she burped 9 times a minute. I am sure she had a health issue, but it was just awful to have to listen to–it made me feel kind of queasy.

  14. Anonymous Max*

    What is a kind, helpful way to guide co-workers I don’t manage to do their own tasks? A loosely related question came up a day or so ago on how to direct your reports to look for information before asking, and it made me think of asking you all for help.

    I am a program manager for a research program – I support the program’s director and work on programmatic activities like HR, budgeting, events, seminars, and resources for program affiliates. I also manage one direct report who is the office manager in our off-campus location.

    My boss, the director, is the PI on two new large grants, and there are two new(ish) study coordinator/project managers overseeing these studies. Both are great, smart and productive, but relatively new to the field. They do have prior experience in their roles but it is not extensive.

    I have been helping orient them to areas within the larger research center, getting them in contact with the accountants and grant managers and other people who support us. However, the impression they get from these interactions is that it is my job to interface with the center support staff on their behalf.

    They are emailing me to ask questions that should be directed to the center support staff about the studies they manage, like, “Did such and such invoice get paid?” They know that I don’t have access to this level of financial information, so this question is actually, “Can you contact the accountant whose name and email I already have to ask this question on my behalf?”

    I gently re-direct and let them know who to contact (again), but it isn’t seeming to take, because I am still getting a lot of these requests, and I feel like the perception on their part is that I am being obstructive.

    A point of confusion may be that I am the person they go through to submit personal reimbursements, so I will email the accountants for programmatic expenses they incur (software, travel, etc.). I’m responsible for our program budget, determine the funds that will be used for purchases, and am the first level of approval for these expenses, so this is really my job. Managing invoices and other tasks for their studies is their responsibility as project managers/study coordinators.

    I don’t manage these folks, and this is complicated by the fact that they also work for my boss, who is extremely hands-off and non-confrontational and won’t help me with this. So I’m on my own. Our institution doesn’t provide any training for these roles so while they both do have some previous experience I thought would inform their grasp of their responsibilities, I don’t know how things were done and I can’t really expect them to intuit the boundaries here. And it shouldn’t fall to me to explain the differences in our roles, but I’m happy to do it if I can find a way that doesn’t seem presumptuous or condescending.

    What is your advice for how to handle this? Sending an email delineating what I’m responsible for and what they’re responsible for seems obnoxious, but I can’t think of another way to do this. Have a meeting? I need help with wording that is empathetic but doesn’t throw my boss or my institution generally under the bus.

    I should say that I am happy to step in and help with their roles when they genuinely need it, like in case of a higher-level need (like they need an alternate account when grant funds haven’t hit yet), or to organize the 50-person quarterly study calls (which have to be based on my busy boss’ calendar). But most of the requests I’m receiving are squarely within their abilities and are in fact their responsibility as project managers for these studies. I think it’s just easier to ask me, and they continue to do it even though I have been re-directing them for a while now.

    Any advice welcome!

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      You have to address the pattern, not just individual occurrences. This is harder because you’re not their manager and you can’t make them stop the requests, but you can address the pattern (I’d recommend doing so in person, not in an email, and then sending an email recap so that they have it for reference). Then it’s in their head that they need to look elsewhere for X, Y, and Z. If they don’t, you can reply back with, “As we talked about, this is a Lucinda request.”

    2. Hmmmmm*

      I usually pull a “am I passive aggressive or am I genuinely confused, the world will never know” move and email back something to the effect of “Hi Becky, I am confused by your email. Are you having difficulty contacting Greg directly?”

    3. WellRed*

      If your institution doesn’t provide training (!?) How has onboarding new people worked in the past?

      1. Anonymous Max*

        We are a small, relatively new program within our larger center. Up till now we have hired more experienced people, so they had to learn how to do their work within our center, but already have a good grasp of what their work is. So they would ask the questions of who to contact, but would do the work themselves. Onboarding is always a little hairy though. Why is there no training? Great question. My bet is $$.

    4. Ama*

      Oof, yeah I’ve worked on both sides of academic research admin (started at a university, I’m now at a granting organization) and I’ve dealt with a lot of this, particularly with new coordinators. I suspect you are right that since they know you can either give them the answer or tell them who can help them they just now default to you.

      One thing I used to do when I was dealing with similar situations is make some “cheat sheets” or checklists that spelled out who to contact for what responsibilities or what information they’d need to have ready if they needed my assistance (the latter only if it was a task I was actually supposed to be doing). That way when new coordinators/postdocs came on I could hand them the sheets, and if they came to me asking a question that needed to be redirected, I politely reminded them that the info they needed was on the sheet *without* telling them what the info was. That made it no longer more efficient to ask me, because all I was doing was telling them to look at the info they already had. It’s a little more work upfront to make the cheat sheets the first time, but the end result was worth it.

      1. Anonymous Max*

        This is a great idea. And I could frame it as, “since these questions come up frequently, I thought this might come in handy…” And it might even lead into a conversation about who does what. I had been thinking along the lines of an email but just an informal conversation seems a lot less of an overreach. I make cheat sheets for other things (travel reimbursements, oh man) and they do save lots of time. Thanks!

    5. Alice*

      I think you’ve made a very thoughtful analysis of the situation when you say “I can’t really expect them to intuit the boundaries.”
      Why shouldn’t it fall to you to explain the different in roles? Obviously, in practice, since your boss won’t do it, you need to. But I think that training/on-boarding doesn’t have to be done by the boss.
      It’s only condescending if it’s framed as “I can’t believe you don’t know this!” — and you don’t sound like you’d take that approach.
      The only potential problem I see is that if you wait too much longer, that might introduce some awkwardness — “I can’t believe Max didn’t tell me this earlier… I wonder if there’s something else that’s annoying him that he hasn’t mentioned?”
      So, go for it — email, cheat sheet, with or without a meeting. It’ll be good for you, them, and your boss to have everyone on the same page.
      Good luck! (But honestly I don’t think you need any — I’m sure the outcome will be positive.)

      1. Anonymous Max*

        Thank you! It shouldn’t fall to me because we are technically peers. If I was hired somewhere and a random co-worker started telling me what was and wasn’t my job, I wouldn’t be thrilled, even if it was a person I relied on for institutional knowledge. It just feels presumptuous. It should be coming from the actual manager, but it won’t, so therein lies my dilemma. I agree with you that I need to form a plan soon. This is very helpful!

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Wherever did you get this idea?

          I often give this kind of info to peers and would feel obstructive if I knowingly withheld it.

        2. CrazyEngineerGirl*

          But you’re not really telling them what is and isn’t their job, at least you don’t have to frame/think of it that way. You can just lay out that what they are (frequently) asking you to do, is not YOUR job.

    6. fposte*

      I would have a meeting, and I would create a reference document. I’d go with “We all have a lot on our plates, so it’s helpful to be clear what the expectations are for support and responsibility.” If they try to make you handle the comms after that, I’d nicely but openly ask them why.

      (For people who asked about training: I don’t think there’s anything like that at my state university, and I don’t think we’re unusual. It’s all from experience.)

      1. Anonymous Max*

        This is a good idea. I am struggling some with what I would say in a meeting, because when I start thinking about how to frame it, I very quickly start finding myself thinking things like, “management tasks for your study are your responsibility as project managers” and it sounds condescending and ridiculous. I know I need to keep it factual, but the facts seem pretty self-explanatory to me. Is it project-related? It’s yours. Is it programmatic? It’s mine. I want to keep the ‘duh’ tone out of my voice/demeanor. I really like these people and I don’t want to come off as any bigger of a jerk than I absolutely have to.

        1. fposte*

          If it makes you feel better, avoid pronouns. “Here’s what the program manager handles; here’s what project coordinators handle.”

      2. Not So NewReader*

        This works.
        And OP, there is nothing wrong with creating that chart.
        And you can present it as, “for your convenience you can call these folks directly”. Then show why it is helpful to them, “You don’t have to wait for my answer” or “The relay system doubles your wait time” or “Asking directly means you get the exact question answered, NOT what I think your question might be”.

        There is nothing insulting about telling people to directly contact someone. I prefer it personally. I hate using go-betweens. Usually my question gets misunderstood, or lost. And sometimes the answer causes me to have even more questions. noooo. Please don’t make me do this. Let me talk to the person myself.

        Go ahead and make that chart. Tell them if they aren’t sure who to call they can call you and ask. I think just doing this much will cut your calls substantially.

    7. Rainy, not-PI*

      I was program manager *and* PI for a very large grant program until a few months ago, and because of some complexities about how our program worked, I was the “single point of contact” on our side.

      I just forwarded emails to the people they needed to go to, without comment. If this isn’t in your job description, though, I think in the future maybe less hands-on “training” and more “here’s the contact list” might serve you well. Since you are past that point with these two people, try the “clueless or passive-aggressive” approach listed above for a month, and if that doesn’t yield any results, you’re going to have to go talk to the PI and tell her “You have to talk to your project managers, they email me constantly about things that aren’t my job and it’s interfering with my ability to actually do my job.” A single line email from the PI is going to mean more than a million emails from you. It’s frustrating but there it is. I can’t tell you how often one of my researchers and one of my admin staff would be fighting for weeks over something, and when I finally found out and would send a single email saying nothing different than my admin had been saying, the researcher would back down immediately–and usually thank me for correcting their misunderstanding!

      1. Anonymous Max*

        Ha! I can totally see this. I think another part of the problem is that the PI himself directs them to me as a matter of course because I am his right hand (“Ask Max about that,” “Max will know who to contact,” etc.). He assumes that they know their job and will just ask me for the info and do it. I have the ability to email “as” my PI (as you mention, I get a much better response!), but it would be so out of character for him to give any actual detail or direction, they’d see through that immediately if I tried to direct them via email puppetry.

        And he himself will never talk to them about this, it just isn’t his thing and he doesn’t have time. I know if I ask, he’ll make it worse by pulling me in to tell them myself and I feel that will be super awkward. It does have the merit of being PI-sanctioned, so maybe that is a valid route if I can’t stop it by more subtle means.

        I absolutely will adopt this approach for future hires.

        1. Rainy, not-PI*

          I feel immense sympathy for you–the appeal to irrelevant authority at headquarters is kind of my least favourite thing ever, partially because it works and shouldn’t. I hope that a harder line while onboarding will help in future.

          If it’s any comfort, I think this happens a lot, so it’s almost certainly nothing you’ve been doing wrong.

        2. TL -*

          Can you ask him if you can draft a clarification email for him to read over and send? Say that it should have been included in the onboarding process but got overlooked.

  15. JustaTech*

    Need a reality check!
    Short version: Should I bother to apply to jobs where I will have to click a radio button that says I don’t have the experience and schooling the job wants? Will anyone even read my carefully crafted cover letter?

    Long version: I recently got a Master’s in Teapots. I really want to be a Teapot inspector with the city. I have seen several jobs come up (and applied for them) for Teapot Inspector that require 2 years experience (don’t have) or X course-hours in Teapot Inspection and X course-hours in Teapot statistics. I’ve got some course-hours in those, but not as many as the job wants, even if I count undergrad classes. (The application asks you to name each course, so I can’t fudge, or as my SO suggested, lie.)

    So far I’ve next-day rejections, which makes me think that no human is seeing my application or cover letter or anything. Is it not worth continuing to apply?

    1. Generic Administrator*

      I wouldn’t bother- our recruitment system just automatically rejects you and we just ignore anyone who goes into the no pile (and don’t even respond, our recruitment system is a joke but I digress…).

    2. Fabulous*

      If they don’t require a class list and only ask for experience, I’d fudge and click Yes. Then in whatever area lets you explain, let them know you have a Master’s in the area and XX years of transferable experience. That way you at least know your resume has had eyes on it…

    3. AndersonDarling*

      I’ve had applications that will throw you out of the ap as soon as you click the wrong radio button. But…there were discussions about answering the spirit of the question rather than the verbiage of the question. So if the question asks for 2 years experience in say, building maintenance, and you have 1 year maintenance plus 1/2 year mechanics plus 1/2 year construction then it is OK to answer yes.

      1. JustaTech*

        This is a career change for me, so while I’ve got (I think) a lot of transferable skills, I don’t have years at this specific thing.

        Dang. It’s so frustrating, like they only want people who went to a specific Master’s program or something.

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I’d say it depends on how specific the question is regarding the experience.

      For example – I posted a job recently that requires experience with a very specific version of software. If you answered no to that question, I wouldn’t review your materials. On the flip side, if it’s asking for something a little more abstract, I think it’s okay to give a broader answer.

    5. Undine*

      This might be a case for seeing if anyone you know on LinkedIn is at that company. Someone I worked for 15 years ago recently asked me for a referral via LinkedIn so he could bypass the online application. In his case, he had all the qualifications, but he’s at a high level (much higher than me), and so didn’t want to go through the cattle call. So someone might be happy to forward you on, even if they don’t know the hiring manager themselves.

    6. Zip Zap*

      Could you contact someone who works there and ask about it? That’s what I would do. I’d write them a letter summarizing what qualications you do and don’t have, making it clear that you would really like to become a Teapot Inspector, and ask what they would recommend. They might say you should take some additional classes first or something like that. But it could give you an advantage later on if you apply and they remember you.

  16. alice*

    I have a question for anyone in the UK.

    What’s with personal statements on CVs? Is this a thing? How important is it? In the US it’s considered really gimmicky and a waste of space, but I’ve heard they are necessary on a CV. Can someone shed some light?

    1. LucyUK*

      I don’t really rate them when I’m hiring, personally. It’s hard for candidates to have a good idea of what the role entails at the CV stage of the process, so their statements tend to talk about some vision they have that isn’t actually super aligned with the job. Also, they often fall foul of telling rather than showing – people pack them with a bunch of self-selected qualities and that means nothing unless they can demonstrate them to me in other ways as well as tell me.

      They’re also another bit of text on your CV, so if you’re not a strong writer (and I think it’s incredibly hard to write a good one of these even if you are a strong writer), you’ve given me more reasons to reject you by including a statement than I would have had otherwise.

      I can’t remember seeing one of these that didn’t come across as cheesy or lame to some degree, so I’d probably avoid including one unless it’s a norm in your industry or you’ve got something really compelling to say (and even then I’d rather see that in your cover letter ideally).

    2. Caro in the UK*

      I don’t think they’re useful either. Most places will ask for a cover letter or supporting statement as well as a CV, so all of the stuff that people are putting in personal statements can go in there instead (if it’s relevant, obviously!) And I’ve never seen one that’s actually been useful; they’re too short to convey anything really insightful, and take up space on a CV which could be used for expanding your accomplishments and achievements in each of your previous roles.

    3. Heth*

      When I was job hunting about 7 years ago my godmother (who worked in HR) looked over my CV and recommended I add one, which I did, although I never really liked it, felt it was a waste of space if I was also submitting a cover letter and cheesy. I scaled it right back as soon as I felt I could and wasn’t ignoring advice of someone who had given up time to help me!
      When I was recruiting (generally for people just out of school/uni) I would read it but never found it very informative, again I would far rather see a well written cover letter.
      My more recent jobs have all required application forms rather than CV’s though so my information isn’t that up-to-date. When I next look I don’t plan to add one.

    4. Rookie Manager*

      I’ve been shorlisting today and I hate them. They all sound cocky or smarmy or contrived. Hate them.

    5. London Engineer*

      I didn’t use one on my cv for my job right now but to be fair it was my first job post-graduation so not a huge amount of experience. I do have a short summary paragraph though – not sure if that’s the same thing?

    6. PX*

      Applied for and got a job in the UK without one. Good cover letter and strong CV are all you need.

    7. AnnaUK*

      I agree with what everyone else has said! They’re generally lame or sound arrogant but some of them do give me a giggle when shortlisting. I’ve always gone with a fairly bland cv accompanied by a cover letter explaining how interested I am in the role and why I’d be a good fit.

    8. SarahKay*

      Last time I was looking (ten years ago, so YMMV) I used one, on the advice of a CV writing book. All the agencies took the personal statement off my CV when they sent it out to employers. From that, I came to the conclusion to stop doing it, and I wouldn’t do it now.

  17. IsobelDeBrujah*

    Should I tell my boss that I’ve started taking antidepressants?

    As a result of a usually annoying trick of biology, they hit me right away I mean like inside four hours. Which is great. I think I’m doing well. But then I thought I was doing well before and WOW I was NOT. Part of me thinks it is a wise idea to let her know just in case I start acting erratically. Part of me thinks it is a bad idea because the danger exists that every bad day could be attributed to off meds or needing adjustment. Has anyone dealt with this dilemma?

    1. Anonymous Poster*

      Sadly there is still a lot of stigma attached to mental illness/disorders requiring treatment, and you’re a much better judge of your management than I am to know if that would apply in this situation.

      I’d suggest some vaguer verbiage though, since there’s no need to get into all the details. Frankly, it’s none of their business, and not to sound harsh but a good manager doesn’t really care about the details of your medical situation past, “how does this affect your ability to do the job we hired you for and how can we accommodate you?” I think a good way to approach the subject if you suspect that you are seeing changes in your behavior or actions, and are concerned that your supervisor will notice, is saying something like these suggestions:

      “I’ve started on a new medication and I think some of its side effects are affecting my behavior. I wanted to give you a heads up in case you notice anything out of the norm that we’re still working through all the kinks.”

      “I’m feeling self conscious about my behavior, and wanted to let you know that I’m starting a new medication that I think is affecting me. It’s nothing serious, and we’re working to get things where they need to be.”

      I mean, as far as every bad day being attributed to medications… I don’t know how that can be mitigated. It’s not like anyone needs to know the details, and plenty of medications for all sorts of conditions have mood altering side effects. This is nothing new, and there’s no need to explain anything. You simply are handling a medical issue, some of the side effects may affect your behavior, and you’re letting your supervisor know that to help head off any future awkward conversations and help them know something that may affect you professionally. That’s all, really.

      1. Purple snowdrop*

        I’ve done this in the past, just called it medication without saying anything about it being antidepressants. In my current job I might tell my line manager but if I started somewhere new I’d just fudge it.

    2. Resignation Question*

      I never disclosed that information. There’s way too much stigma, I think, and I didn’t want to bias my manager. If it ever becomes an issue, bring it up then as an explanation…but I wouldn’t bring it up preemptively.

      1. Allypopx*

        This, yes. Have it prepared (and I think Anonymous Poster offers some really good options) but unless you KNOW your boss will react well to it, don’t risk it. That does, ultimately, come down to your relationship with your boss, but if you’re doing better you don’t want a red letter attached to you unfairly moving forward.

        Also congratulations.

    3. CR*

      I would only disclose if the adjustment period was causing problems (when I started taking them they made me really tired for a few weeks).

      1. Beatrice*

        And then you can always say that you’ve started a new medication for a medical issue, and you’re dealing with some side effects. There’s no need to disclose the kind of medication or what it’s for.

    4. Argh!*

      You never know what someone’s attitude toward mental illness is until you find out the hard way. If you feel you have to say something, you could say “my doctor is trying out a new medicine for me so my energy level may be up and down for a couple of weeks until it’s sorted out.”

      I would never tell my boss something like that because I know from a coworker that she is unsympathetic and anti-medication. He’s left for greener pastures, and I think her treatment of him was a big part of it.

    5. L*

      You can mention that you’re adjusting to a new medication, but, echoing Anonymous Poster, I wouldn’t go into more detail.

      As far as “acting erratically,” I’ve taken many different kinds of antidepressants and just want to say you don’t need to go to/stay at work if you don’t feel yourself. Be patient and take it easy for the first couple weeks. Sometimes switching or starting takes more out of you than you think! If you need them, this is an absolutely appropriate use of sick days! Also, I’m so glad you found something that is helping you.

    6. Lora*

      I wouldn’t. People are weird about it.

      You will start wondering why horrible people who lose their temper all the time don’t just get themselves some Lexapro or buproprion and chill the heck out, though. I do realize that being an a-hole is not a mental illness, so I don’t say it out loud, but damn I’ve been tempted.

    7. YarnOwl*

      I started a medication a few months ago that can have physical/mental side effects, and I just gave me team members a really casual heads up. I said something to the effect of, “Just so you guys know, I’m on a new medication that might make me irritable or a little spacey sometimes, so forgive me if I forget something! I’ll try to be more vigilant with my to-do list and writing things down, but if I forget something just let me know.”

      I said it in a super casual way so people knew what was up, but that didn’t create like, a serious or dramatic conversation. I think something similar could work for you. Good luck with your new meds!

    8. fposte*

      I generally wouldn’t advise telling a boss about a medical situation when there’s nothing actionable to request–there’s just no gain for you in it. If you can figure out that you have a specific request for her to do something, that’s another matter, but right now it sounds like you really don’t–you’re just thinking about potential situations.

    9. NoodleMara*

      I started anxiety meds about a month ago and while I haven’t mentioned it to my coworders or boss, I’ve been keeping a written track of all behaviors or actions that are different than before so I can adjust as needed. So for instance, mine make me very very tired a lot more than normal. I’ve been tracking how often I notice this and I’m making sure to get more sleep, more general downtime, etc as needed.

      Granted I’m also job hunting right now, so there’s different circumstances but above comments are definitely good!

    10. only acting normal*

      I wouldn’t. There’s no real reason to assume you’ll “start acting erratically”, there are so many possible side effects to anti-depressants you could get any or none of them.
      The only reason you need to disclose anything medical is if you need an accommodation of some kind – like working from home as Junior Dev asks about in another thread here. Even then you can be vague unless you feel your boss will be understanding about your particular condition.

    11. DDJ*

      You’ve gotten some really excellent advice below, and I don’t have a lot to add on that front. BUT I wanted to thank you for posting this question, because I’m finally at a point (I think) that I feel like I might see about starting antidepressants. Of course (I’m sure you’ve been through this), I keep telling myself I really shouldn’t; either because it’s not so bad, or because I feel like I don’t deserve to feel better, or because I’ve suffered from depression for so long that I honestly don’t know who I’ll be if it’s not there anymore.

      And I’m really glad to hear you’re feeling better!

    12. Windchime*

      I don’t recommend it unless you truly know that you can trust your boss. I thought I could trust my previous boss, but I could see the change on his face when I told him I had been suffering from anxiety. His face literally closed off and that was the beginning of the end of that job for me. It was as if I had painted a target on my back.

  18. Anon for this*

    The place where I work is pretty big, and I’m trying to organize my specific team to deal with one or two specific problems (not form a union, just deal more directly with things that are troubling us since the current system sucks). Thing is, I recently learned that the managers where I work are apparently trained to sniff out organizing, and will immediately fire anyone they suspect of trying to form a union. I’m not letting this stop me, but I’m now more scared as I’m doing this work. If I am found out and given the boot, what recourse would I have?

    P.S. I don’t want this to become a thread about whether organizing is right or not, my politics are what they are. I just want to know what my options would be if I were fired for organizing.

    1. Argh!*

      You should probably consult with an employment lawyer. There are “right-to-work” laws in many states that specifically protect union-busting employers. If you’re in one of those states you won’t have much recourse. There are some federal laws on the books, but your case sounds murky.

      1. Susan*

        IANAL, but I’m fairly sure you can’t legally be fired for organizing even in right-to-work states. Right-to-work laws just mean that you cannot be required to join a union for your job. I will reply with a link to some information from the National Labor Relations Board.

            1. Susan*

              If it’s about improving their working conditions, it’s still protected even if they are not trying to form a union. From the “Rights We Protect” page on the NLRB web site:

              “The National Labor Relations Board protects the rights of most private-sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve their wages and working conditions… The law forbids employers from interfering with employees in the exercise of rights to form, join or assist a labor organization for collective bargaining, or from working together to improve terms and conditions of employment.”

        1. Natalie*

          One important clarification: you can never be required to join a union in the US. Closed shops have been illegal since the 40s.

          In a non-RTW state, if you work at a unionized business but aren’t a member, you can be required to pay an agency fee, which is a percentage of normal dues representing whatever organizing benefited all workers regardless of membership. In an RTW state, agency fees are not allowed, so it potentially introduces a free-rider problem, where people can benefit from the union without paying in at all.

          1. Jill*

            You are confusing union shops with closed shops. Closed shops, where employers could only hire existing union members, are illegal. Union shops, where employees are required to join the union after being hired, are still legal in many states. Agency shops, where employees can be required to pay union dues but are not required to join the union, are also legal in many states.

    2. SM*

      (I am not a lawyer!) That sounds like one of the few “is this illegal?” questions where the answer is definitely yes. Please check out the Department of Labor’s website (or google “right to organize”). Even informal organization should be protected, and you can file a complaint with the DOL if they retaliate.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I am not a lawyer and this is not an answer in regards to law.

      I had an interesting discussion with some local union leaders at one point. They said that anyone who tries to organize ends up jobless. 100% of the time.

      It took years to play out but of the people I have seen try to organize, they have, indeed, ended up jobless.

      My new rule of thumb became “If problems are so bad, that I start thinking organizing is the answer then I just need to find a new job because that is probably where all this is going anyway.”

      I don’t know what your problems are. Perhaps you can just pull in a couple people and go as a group. I would favor this response as opposed to pulling in a larger group of employees.
      Perhaps you can just make suggestions for changes and in the course of applying these suggestions other problems would clear up. I have used this strategy effectively.

      My punchline is that you can look for protections under the law, actually find them and end up in new levels of hell anyway. Try everything else that you can think of first.

      1. Susan*

        Yes, that is true. One of the realizations I’ve had over the years is that employers can generally do whatever they want, as long as they’re not stupid enough to admit they’re breaking the law. They’re not firing you because you’re trying to form a union; they’re firing you because you were repeatedly late. See, they documented that you were 2 minutes late, 3 times this year. What do you mean, other employees are late more often than that? They don’t have any record of other employees being late (because they only record tardiness for people they’re looking to fire).

        It looks like this person’s managers might actually be stupid enough to admit they’re firing people for organizing, though. Maybe they don’t even know it’s illegal.

        1. Observer*

          Actually, in the kind of situation that you mention, the employer would probably be in trouble if there a good lawyer involved. If others (including former employees) are willing to testify that other people actually DID come in late then the employer is on the hook.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            A good lawyer, lots of out of pocket expense and if you win you get to go back to a company that totally hates you. You could end up getting into something that consumes every waking hour. Please think about how important this is to you.

      2. Anon for this*

        That’s the thing, it would be much easier for me to try and address this in other ways, but I want to put my democratic socialist politics into practice and try to model a healthy example of a slightly more democratic workplace. The problem we’re having is one that is a PITA for workers and management alike, but the bandaid solution that leadership has chosen is one of the worst options for us as workers. I think coming together as a team to tell leadership “This is how we feel and how it’s affecting us, let’s try something else” could be very powerful.

        1. Anon for this*

          Basically I have an eye toward long-term improvement of conditions here, but I would prefer to make those improvements while keeping my job.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          But companies aren’t democracies. There are other places to put your politics in to practice.
          If you attempt to organize you must be prepared to lose your job and it would be wrong of me not to say that on the basis of what I have seen and learned.

        3. Observer*

          NSNR is right about two things. One is that companies are not democracies.

          More to the point is the fact that you could definitely lose your job. Totally not legal, but from what you say either your company does not care or does not know. And, while going after them could get you a nice settlement, it’s not likely to be easy.

    4. Observer*

      NLRB – if what you heard is true, what management is doing is flat out illegal.

      In the meantime, document your head off. Both what you are doing in terms of your work and every.single.good review or compliment you get, and in terms of your organizing and the problems you are trying to resolve.

  19. awkwardkaterpillar*

    I am trying to transition from the private sector into higher ed. I will be starting graduate school this fall, and have applied for a position at the university in a department that is related to both the position I am in now, and what I will be going to school for. (Think private finance applying for a position as a financial specialist in the office of the program I’m starting).
    1. I’m not familiar with the timeframes on higher ed hiring. I submitted my application on 7/26 and it is still in a acknowledged but pending status – is this normal for higher ed or is something possibly off?
    2. Will being an incoming student hinder my prospects?
    3. Are there any other hiring differences that would greatly impact this process that it would be good to be aware of?

    1. Good luck!*

      1- Totally normal. It could be a while. When you hear people say things move slowly in academia, they ain’t lyin’!
      2- There is a huge wall between finance/admin and academic departments. It won’t help or hinder you unless your classes/research mean that you won’t be available during hours they need you to work.
      3- If your prior job dealt with things in black and white, be ready for a shock. In higher ed, everything is softly suggested and nothing is mandated. In my private sector life, if corporate rolled out a program, you supported it. If your boss asked you to do something, you did it. Not so much in academia. It’s weird.

    2. hepcat*

      1. Very normal. Hiring takes a lot longer in higher ed than other filedss.
      2. Is your grad program full time? That may be a hindrance, if you’re competiting with candidates who are able to give the job their full attention. Ideally you’d find a job in higher ed, then start grad school with a year or so experience under your belt, both for the tuition remission benefits and having your feet under you.
      3. You might be more likely to be interviewed by committee than in other jobs.

      1. awkwardkaterpillar*

        It is a full time program, but the classes are all in the evening (at the earliest I would need to leave at like 4:30 instead of 5).

    3. JaneB*

      Very normal – hiring is s…l…o…w at most universities, plus it’s the end of summer so many people are fitting in leave or gearing up for the massive new influx, so things do get delayed

    4. TotesMaGoats*

      Been in higher ed 15 years, currently assistant dean…
      1. Higher ed is slow. It just is.
      2. It’s possible. It depends on the position but they probably don’t want a current student to have access to some current student info. Like money owed or grades. Now role level access might solve that problem but it’s possibly an issue.
      3. I assume that you’ll get some tuition remission because you work there, please don’t mention that in the interview. Talk about how the role aligns with your professional goals. But “I applied because you’ll pay for my graduate degree” has always rubbed me the wrong way in interviews.

    5. Emma*

      1. Higher ed hiring takes a long time. For example, I’m on a hiring committee, and a position was posted in late June. We notified people they were selected for phone interviews mid-July. We held on-campus interviews early August, and then extended offers early/mid August. And this was a search that felt like it was going fairly quickly!

      2. Your availability will be the biggest hurdle, potentially, unless you’re interviewing for a position that has a flexible schedule or is marketed to students.

      3. Sometimes interviews take a half or full day (or longer, for an upper level position).

    6. SJ*

      Higher ed hiring can take a looooong time, particularly over the summer (when decision-makers are on vacation) and around the holidays. At my last job, I applied for a job in late May and didn’t start until late August. I’ve received rejection notices about jobs 5-6 months later.

      I can’t imagine being an incoming student would hinder your prospects – if anything, it’ll probably help them, if you’re studying something in the department you’d like to work in. Shows your enthusiasm and interest in the role, etc.

      1. awkwardkaterpillar*

        This (and all the other confirmations on the slower time frame) helps a lot.

        I do have a connection to the director of recruitment at the university through a mutual friend. I asked her if she would (if she felt appropriate) just drop a good work about me, which she said she would so hopefully that is not something that would hinder my prospects. (I would hope networking would not blow back ever but I tend to assume the worst.)

    7. Rainy, not-PI*

      1. Very normal. Higher ed hiring timelines are lengthy.

      2. Maybe, maybe not. It’s going to depend on class schedules and employment types and a lot of other things.

      3. Higher ed is really great in a lot of ways and also can be very frustrating, and it’s mainly going to depend on your particular department or office or program whether it’s the best work environment you’ve ever had or so toxic it’s unbearable. My current department is literally the most supportive and fantastic environment you can possibly imagine, positive, understanding, student-focused, absolutely wonderful. Some of my friends in higher ed (across 3+ countries) work in equally great environments, and some of them work in pits of toxic emotional sludge. It’s pretty obvious from the start which is which though, usually.

      150% agree that mentioning tuition benefit is going to kill, or at least severely injure, your chances. I was on the search committee where an applicant we passed through based on experience said “I’m just here because this position is in [state employee pension plan]”. It sounds *bad*.

      1. awkwardkaterpillar*

        I have no intention of mentioning anything about tuition benefits, this is a job that I’m sincerely interested in so hopefully I made that come across in my coverletter and can if I get an interview as well. thanks for the other insight as well!

    8. awkwardkaterpillar*

      So, I just looked online and they reposted the position – the opening had closed at the end of July. My application still says ‘acknowledged’. Which would make me think I’m not out of the running they just want more applicants? I’d think if they are reposting they must have at least reviewed what they have received.

      1. Rainy, not-PI*

        Yeah, it’s possible that they didn’t get sufficient applicants, or sufficient qualified applicants, to make a pool. Would you feel comfortable writing to the contact on the ad and asking where they’re at in the process?

        1. awkwardkaterpillar*

          Absolutely – I just don’t want to be a pest. I know the standard rule is to kind of leave them alone, but given that the status has been stagnant I also would hate if there really was something wrong and I didn’t follow up.

          I know I’m getting too invested in this – it would just logistically work out perfect since it’s in the field I’m going into and the building is like a block away from where all my classes will be instead of clear across the city.

          1. Rainy, not-PI*

            It’s okay to feel however you feel as long as you don’t call the HR contact person’s phone 60 times between now and 5pm :)

            Other people might have more informed advice, but I think an email to the contact person wouldn’t be taken amiss.

  20. Doug Judy*

    I’m meeting with my potential new boss for coffee Tuesday morning. I’ve been in talks with his consulting firm since April, and I think he may be making me an offer. That or he’s going to tell me I’m not what they’re looking for. Everything has been really positive, I’ve met other members of the group and a few other consulting firms they collaborate with. I have no reason not to be hopeful but I’m so nervous!!!

    1. Nutella Jar*

      It sounds like there’s going to be positive news! He’s investing time in you if he’s taking you for coffee.

  21. Nutella Jar*

    I got a job!

    The pay isn’t that great, but there’s room to grow, and they have in writing when it’s subject to change. I’ll be working in a different industry than when I was working at my father’s dysfunctional business, and the job is something I’ll enjoy. I was worried I wouldn’t get anything since I left my father’s business without anything lined up, but that wasn’t the case.

    1. Observer*

      That’s great!

      It’s really good that you are in a different industry. It’s going to be much easier to keep separated from them.

  22. Woman in a man's world*

    In light of the question earlier this week it seems appropriate that this would come up this week. I work in a male dominated profession. I’m used to being the only woman on a team. About six months ago I started a new. I now work on a team with 4-6 men (depends on the project people rotate around so the team isn’t really fixed). It’s totally normal to get together outside work with families for dinner (all but one person, Carter, is married and most have kids). The thing that I’m struggling with is that my co-workers get together without families sometimes too and I’m never included, I should be clear it’s not all of them at once but 2 or 3. I’m not sure what actually bothers me, the fact that they are getting together outside work without me, that they are telling me about it or what exactly.
    The most recent example was that Fergus and I were talking the other day and he just launches into telling me about how much fun he and Carter had at the microbrew festival over the weekend and how he ended up sleeping on Carter’s couch because there was no way he would have made it home safely.
    This is really bothering me more than it should but I can’t get past feeling excluded. Clearly it’s a me issue, but it seems odd that I would go hang out with my male coworkers at a beer festival or for drinks without my spouse or their spouses. It’s not that I don’t share the same interests outside work, in fact my husband and I wanted to go to the beer festival but had a family commitment we couldn’t miss. I just can’t see myself participating without my spouse there but I don’t want to be that person who is always bring my spouse along, which is extra complicated by the fact that hubby and I share a lot of interests.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I just can’t see myself participating without my spouse there but I don’t want to be that person who is always bring my spouse along, which is extra complicated by the fact that hubby and I share a lot of interests.

      Any chance they’re actually picking up on this vibe and so aren’t sure whether to invite you to non-spouse get-togethers?

      1. Woman in a man's world*

        I could see that but it’s not like they were inviting me then stopped, they never invited me in the first place, so it feels more like being excluded than not being included because of something they picked up on.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Hm. Would it be weird to insert a “That sounds like a blast. Invite me next time”? You wouldn’t have to say that multiple times but just once to get a real gauge.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I’m in a field with similar demographics. It’s a huge problem because women miss out on forming those close relationships with male peers. In my particular company, a lot of promotions are granted based on relationships rather than opening jobs for everyone to apply for, so women definitely miss out and no men see the problem!

      I’m a married woman, and I will go to lunch with just me and one male coworker, or I’ll go to happy hours with the men, or even a baseball game if we have a few vendor tickets. I think it’s fine. However, I would not go hang out with a male coworker on the weekend at a non-work event. I would with everyone’s spouses or families, but I wouldn’t have that type of 1-on-1 friendship. I’m fine with the guys having it with each other, and if it naturally worked out with someone, I’m not against it, but it never has in 17 years. I don’t think you can police the mens’ relationships with each other to make it more fair to women, but there are other policy options that can help mitigate this.

    3. Shiara*

      You have my sympathy. I’ll admit that I haven’t quite figured out how to navigate this myself, although I’ve had some success with initiating geeky movie outings/game nights where spouses are welcome but it’s less an obvious family dinner bring everyone to sit down thing. That has yet to really segue into them initiating invitations to me sans husband, but since husband and I share so many interests and he’s hit it off pretty well with my coworkers it’d feel a bit weird to ditch him for these anyway…

      At least my current team invites me out to lunch with them on the regular. Unlike previous team, where I assumed the standing weekly lunch thing several of them had with a couple guys from other teams was due to them all having gone to college together. Up until the next new guy joined our team and was invited to join them his second day there. It shouldn’t have felt like a big deal, but it was just one of several instances where it was like I wasn’t thought of as part of the group despite bonding one on one with certain people. If a movie outing was discussed with me as part of the conversation, I was immediately invited. But if I wasn’t there when it was planned, no one thought to tell me until they were raving about it afterwards. Whereas other coworkers would be sought out to invite along.

      (Husband and I both work at different tech companies, which sometimes results in a somewhat inverted problem for me. When we get together with husband’s (almost entirely male) coworkers and their spouses (who are almost entirely not in tech), there’s a distinct tendency to split up into male coworkers talking about a mix of work/other tech/engineering adjacent topics, and the wives talking about how boring those topics are. This is largely due to one person in particular (who is also the one who likes to introduce us to the restaurant staff as “Oh, they’re the engineers and we’re their wives”))

      Anyway, all that rambling to say that I’m sorry and you’re not alone in feeling that awkward excluded feeling, even though no one’s really doing anything wrong. It’s just frustrating that they don’t think to invite you to things like that. And it just kind of adds to the faint feeling of awkwardness that occasionally descends when you’re trying to hang out as someone who is visibly the odd one out. And my husband is my best friend and we have a lot in common, and it doesn’t always seem like my coworkers’ spouses share my interests the way my husband does or even the way some of my coworkers do, which just makes it… weirder.

      1. blackcat*

        “Oh, they’re the engineers and we’re their wives”

        I HATE that dynamic. My husband now works at an engineering firm, and besides a friendship that pre-existed the coworking relationship, all of his male coworkers are either single or have spouses who are well outside STEM. And in the pre-existing friendship (all of 4 of us went to college together), the wife simply refuses to attend events because of the dynamic of wives bonding over not wanting to hear anything “technical.” Male friend has warned my husband that female friend’s lack of attendance appears to hurt him with hire ups, which is gross, and my husband may suffer the same fate.

        On the flip side, all of my colleagues get along great with my husband! He fits right in!

    4. Sadsack*

      It sounds to me like some of these get-togethers among the guys are just friends getting together. I once worked in an department that was majority women and some of us became friends outside of work and would get together nights or weekends occasionally. It never occurred to us that we should ask any of the guys along just to include the entire group, much like it was never all of the department women. It was only two or three of us out of 20 people getting together. We were getting together as friends. There were a couple of other small groups of women who had friendships outside of work that did not include me, and I was okay with that.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is what I have figured, too. I tested the situation. If a couple women hung out together and did not invite me, would I be upset? Since it’s not all of them, I felt I had to grant them a pass.

        This stuff can eat at you, if you let it. So it is good that you are asking here rather than letting it fester. I am not sure what would work for you, but my overall suggestion is to find some general guidelines that you use as go-tos. One guideline could be, “Well it was a couple of them and not all of them.” It would be more clear cut if you were the only one not invited.

    5. kbeers0su*

      It could be the timing. Depending on how long the others have worked together, they may just know each other better and have established relationships outside of work. I think as you get to know them, let them know what you’re into, and you may find yourself invited. For instance, with the beerfest. When coworker was telling you about it, I would have mentioned that you had really wanted to go, but had another commitment. So now they know you have that in common. So the next time it comes up, you’re more likely to get the invite. And, just like with my kid, I also encourage you to make plans with them. Bring up something that you’re thinking about doing/going to and see if anyone is interested. It may just take some time to get there since you’re new.

    6. Rusty Shackelford*

      It sounds like these guys are getting together as friends, not as coworkers. Which explains why they think it’s not a big deal to tell you about it, because it’s not a work thing. It’s a friend thing, where the friends also happen to work together.

    7. who?*

      It sounds to me like these two coworkers are very good friends outside of work. You are still fairly new so it does make sense that you are not as close with them. Also, you weren’t the only person excluded, since out of a 7 person group only two went to the beer festival together.

      In the moment you could have casually said something like “oh I’m so jealous, I had wanted to go to the beer festival too, but we had a commitment with my husband’s family” or something similar to signal to them that you have similar interests and would like to be friendly outside of work.

      I think it would be different if the whole group minus spouses had gone to the festival without you, but since it was only two people it just seems like they are possibly the only ones who are actually close friends outside of work.

      1. Woman in a man's world*

        I guess I wasn’t totally clear, it’s not that two specific coworkers are getting together regularly, it’s that various combinations of the 7 will get together in groups of 2 or 3. I don’t think I’d be bothered (as much) if it was always the same 2 or 3 but with it not always being the same ones it feels more exclusionary

        1. SarahKay*

          I’m not sure I have any useful advice, but I do think I’d be bothered too in your shoes. So if nothing else, I can offer moral support in that I don’t think you’re being unreasonably upset and I do think they are (however unwittingly) excluding you somewhat. I’m just sorry I don’t have any fixes :(

    8. Zip Zap*

      Could you invite them to do something? Something that you’d all enjoy?

      If your spouse gets along with them, it might not be a big deal whether or not he’s included. You could try both and go with whatever seems to work best.

  23. Anonny For This*

    We had a tragedy happen at work very recently. My coworker caused an accident on our property that ended in the death of a child. I’m trying to keep this vague because the news coverage has been extensive and vile towards him. He is a kind, hard-working, nice, friendly person. Our mood in the office has been so somber for both families involved. He is being painted as a villain in the media and it breaks my heart.

    I’m not sure when he will return, but I imagine he feels as though we all hate him. Does anyone have any advice on how to make sure he knows that we support him on his return? Is there anything we should do now? Food tray for his family? Do I act like nothing happened when I interact with him? Do I tell him I’m sorry that he is going through a difficult time?

    Before I get jumped on, of course I feel terrible for the family that lost a child. Having sympathy for one person involved does not mean I can’t have sympathy for another. My question is about my coworker though, and I ask that we focus on that and not on the tragedy that occurred. It was something that could have happened to any one of us, regardless of what the news is “reporting”.

    1. Emmie*

      My heart goes out to both families. Maybe reach out to him, let him know what you said here, that you’re sorry he’s going through a hard time, and he has no obligation to return your call / message. Gosh, there really is no right way to address this.

    2. President Porpoise*

      Are you sure that he’ll be back? I don’t know about you, but I could see him voluntarily leaving or being fired. I which case, helping him network and providing a good reference (and making sure he knows you will) would go a long way.

      1. Anonny For This*

        The owner will not fire him. He is a long time employee and this 100000% was an accident. I think he will be working remotely for a time. I could see him voluntarily leave, but I don’t know how you would get another job when a google search of your name comes up with the news stories.

    3. neverjaunty*

      I think an expression of sympathy that he is going through a tough time is fine. That’s plenty to let him know you don’t hate him without dragging it up or making it a big issue.

    4. Manders*

      Oh my goodness, what a horrible thing all around.

      I think your food tray idea is a good one. Giving someone a meal is an easy way to say “hey, I care about you” in almost every culture, and it’s practical too, because someone under that much stress is probably not paying much attention to life necessities like grocery shopping.

      Other than that, treat him normally unless you see him crying or looking very upset, in which case I think it’s ok to ask him if there’s anything he needs.

    5. LostRiverRanger*

      I am very sorry for you and your organization, your co worker, and of course the child’s family. This is a very tough thing.

      I worked in healthcare where people were directly or indirectly responsible for events that contributed to deaths. It’s important to reach out to him, to offer support. You might find some guidance around “second victim” syndrome that can guide you more about how to interact with him. Second victims are, essentially, those who succumb to guilt and blame after these events (in healthcare, we see suicide, addiction and career changes). It sounds like you are already in the right space – this is a tragedy for all involved, being heartbroken for him and wanting to support him does not mean value his pain and grief *more* than the family’s pain.

      I’ve also faced events reported in the media, and it’s really tough for an entire organization. The stories are inherently incomplete.

      You might consider caring/supporting all of you in your workplace, as this can be really hard for everyone. There are some good case studies and strategies in healthcare (and other industries) in how to respond to and address errors and accidents internally and externally. Talking about it internally is important (caveat: this is where leadership needs to consult with their legal team, but that doesn’t mean they can’t acknowledge the event and the grief/loss felt by your team – pending litigation does not *need* to mean silence). I am NOT a lawyer – I’m only speaking from the perspective of an incident investigator. Talking about the event also reduces speculation and gossip and soothes the people who are distressed and who may be susceptible to media inquiries, in my experience.

      Good luck. This will leave a scar, but I’m glad you are already thinking about how to heal.

      1. Anonny For This*

        Thank you so much. This is extremely valuable information. I will pass the “Second victim” syndrome info over to his team, since they’re really the ones who are struggling with how to behave right now.

        Not that I trusted the media much before, but this really is eye-opening to see how statements and facts get extremely skewed when there’s only speculation and rumor to go off of. Makes me wonder about a lot of news stories that I follow.

        1. Observer*

          This is a common refrain about trusting the media. I think I’ve heard this from every person I know who has dealt with a situation covered by the media.

    6. WellRed*

      I think it would ne nice to reach out. He’s probably feeling a bit isolated along with everything else.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Please accept my sympathy.

      I have to be vague here.
      A while ago a friend accidently hit and killed another person. It went wildly public and the funeral was INCREDIBLE. Which I am glad for the deceased’s family that they had so much support. It was an accident and the deceased was a young adult who was doing his job.

      I went to see my friend.
      OP, I could have cried for the outpouring of support my friend received.
      The boss when to Friend’s house and sat down for a talk. “Take all the time you need, you will be paid. We totally get that this was an accident and we realize that this could happen to anyone of us at any time.”
      Friends of the deceased came to the house. “We understand this was an accident. We do not hold any blame toward you. We wish the best for you.”
      People gave Friend money knowing that he could not possibly be working because he would be so distraught. They also brought food over and played with the dog. (When members of the household are sad they are less apt to remember to play with the dog.)
      It was a month before Friend returned to work. Heck, it took time for the shakes to stop.
      Friend is doing better now, but their life has been totally and forever changed. It’s important to recognize that things are never the same afterward. But that is not the same as saying your coworker will never smile or laugh again. In time they will.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Oh no, that’s terrible. :'(

      I think it would be okay to send a note and the food tray is a nice idea. Maybe other coworkers could pitch in for it.

      When he returns, let him know you’re glad to have him back. Then act like everything is normal–it will be hard, because everybody is thinking about it. You don’t have to refer to the accident, but if he wants to talk about it (he might not be able to if there is litigation involved), offer to listen if you’re able.

    9. Puckter Grumble*

      That’s horrible for both families. I cannot imagine being on either side of this. Accidents are terrible, unavoidable events that can be inflicted upon or caused by anyone.

      I definitely don’t think you should pretend nothing happened. You don’t have to struggle to find the “right” words to say. Sometimes there are none. Even if you give him a pat on the shoulder with a gentle “I’ve been thinking of you, I really hope you’re doing OK” – that kind of support goes a long way. He must be feeling tremendous guilt and shame. Just make a small gesture so he knows there are people who support him and empathise with his terrible situation.

    10. ..Kat..*

      I recommend reaching out to him now, while he is not in the office. Because he is at home, he is possibly horribly isolated, imagining everyone hates him and being despondent. If you can do this as a group (or more than just you), all the better. Send a fruit basket and include a note that says you are thinking about him, hope he is doing well, and look forward to seeing him back at work. The guilt that goes with causing the death of a child, no matter how accidental, is horrific.

  24. Language Student*

    I asked a little while ago about advice on improving teaching skills as a language student and volunteer ESL tutor. Not really an update because I was almost done for the term then, but when doing feedback my students said that the best thing about last term was the teacher (me!!!). They also said that my activities are well-balanced for different skills, which I was really trying to balance properly. I’m thrilled! I can’t wait to start next term and hopefully keep improving. Thanks to everyone who gave advice before, I can’t wait to put it into practice!

  25. KatieKate*

    Been at a job that I love for a year… but something really cool just popped up at a company. I have plans to speak with one of the managers I know there about it next week, but I’m worried something might make its way over to my current boss. Fingers crossed!

  26. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    The podcast Stuff Mom Never Told You did a great show recently on coming out as LGBTQ at work, what it means and how one decides.

    Who here is out or not at work? How did people react?

    I’m out about being queer, but not about being nonbinary- I think a switch to “they”, especially when I still look very cis due to me, er, assets, would make me stand out too much. Lawyers can be very traditional’

    1. Language Student*

      I’m out (cis lesbian here) to coworkers. I’m kind of out to students (ESL volunteer, we teach adults) – I have some of them on Facebook, and I’m out on Facebook so I’m kind of out by proxy, but I don’t discuss my personal life around students and wouldn’t be obviously in a relationship at our social events. If I’m with my girlfriend in town and I see a student, I’ll be more or less obviously in a relationship based on how well I know the student and how I think they’d react.

      It just wasn’t an issue with my coworkers, which was really nice. It felt absolutely normal – I can talk about my girlfriend the way straight people talk about their partners. Other tutors have shown support for the singular “they”, which is awesome too. With students, it doesn’t come up much – I don’t bring my relationship up and neither do they. I actively avoid the topic with some students who I know have homophobic views, because I don’t want them to be uncomfortable around me, and I just don’t want to deal with that.

    2. Theo*

      I’m casually out as queer — the way I get read by many people and who I’m married to can make me look straight, but I am Very Not and neither is my spouse — and selectively out as nonbinary. One coworker knows, and I let my new boss know at my first check-in with them; it seemed like an important set-up in case I decided to move forward with being more open about it, changing my name, or changing my pronouns. I already present the way I prefer, and everyone is very chill about it. The queer thing is a non-issue!

    3. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

      I was out at my last job, which was fine because there were a bunch of us and the culture was very accepting. This new job? Absolutely not. The rumor mill churns non-stop here, and I’ve overheard some very disparaging comments about trans people. This is not a group of people I trust with anything personal. But this isn’t my “forever” job, so I’m biding my time until I can move on.
      On a happier note though: I recently heard through the grape vine that the latest rumor about me is that I write Supernatural fan fiction! Hysterical (and also plausible, but not true).

    4. Rainy, not-PI*

      I’m out at work. As a cis woman in a relationship with a cis man, if I didn’t say anything people would assume I’m straight, and I hate that. :) In my workplace it’s emphatically not a thing. At this point in my life I don’t think I’d voluntarily work somewhere where it *was* a thing, but I’m fortunate and privileged enough to be able to draw those lines for myself. If I worked somewhere where it wouldn’t be safe to be out, I probably wouldn’t be, and I don’t judge anyone for taking whatever steps are necessary to be safe.

      In my case, being out empowered someone who came on a year after me to also be out in the office, and I’m really happy about that because it clearly makes my coworker very happy to be able to share the same kind of information about their life that the rest of the office shares without having to censor themselves or remember to switch pronouns.

    5. KR*

      Bisexual cis woman here who is married & monogomas to a cis heterosexual man. I don’t see a need to be “out” since I’m married and not dating anymore (and yes, I know it’s a priveledge to be able to not have to come out anymore). In the past I have brought it up really casually as in, “Oh, my ex-girlfriend used to really like chocolate rice sculptures!” Or “Oh I dated a woman once who went to the Univeristy of Teapots – it’s such a great school!” If they have a big huge reaction to the fact that I go both ways, screw them. I’m gay af

    6. Anon Currently*

      I only came out as bi at my last job because we were doing some sensitivity training and I was getting irritated by the people who were aggressively sorting me into the non-LGBTQ camp. It was like they expected everyone to immediately disclose their orientation, and anyone who didn’t was assumed straight. (Maybe there was some sort of meta-lesson in there, but it was not very sensitive sensitivity-training.)

      My coworkers were very understanding and supportive (higher ed in New England), except for the one supervisor who’d been touting himself as The Most Open-Minded, which was kind of funny.

      I generally keep my bi-ness to myself, since I’ve been with my partner for many years and most people assume I’m straight. It’s definitely a privilege to be able to do so, and I recognize that, but I’ve found that I get more pushback from LGBTQ folk and people like the above supervisor, who seem to think it’s all the way gay or nothing. It’s just not worth the hassle at work.

    7. Grumplepuss*

      Not out. Cis-ish, androgynous, bi. Also married to a Cis hetero man. Not out because it’s probably not safe where I live, plus there is the bi invisibility thing. It is very obvious that I am androgynous but I think others just attribute that to the fact that I am a tough-as-hell Amazon personality-wise. I’m sorry I don’t have any advice for you but please know I’m in your corner and hope that all goes well for you whether you decide to be out or not. I also love reading your comments.

    8. char*

      I’m a gay trans guy. I’m out as being gay/queer in general, and it’s been fine. No one has really said anything about it at all.

      However, I’m mostly not open about being trans. A few of the managers know due to issues that arose that I had to discuss with them, but other than that, I’m stealth. I doubt anyone here would be openly bigoted… but I have a feeling a lot of people would say well-meaning-but-clueless things, and I just can’t deal with that!

    9. Lab Monkey*

      I tried? at my last couple of jobs. I’m queer and nonbinary, and use singular they – getting called “she” makes my skin crawl and my dysphoria sky high. I’m in the bay area, so very few people were obviously bad about the queer part, but I couldn’t get my pronouns to stick (even with my queer, trans competent coworkers). HR laughed at me and “decided” a gender for me when I refused to answer male or female on some paperwork. They also refused to help in any way with trans sensitivity stuff. It was a bad place.

  27. Bookfish*

    I’m likely going to accept a new job offer today. I’m suffering from some imposter syndrome because I can’t believe they think I’m the right person for the job. It’s a newly created position that comes with a big pay increase…as well as a big step up in terms of responsibility. I’d also need to move to another state and they want me to start in three weeks. Eek! But I do think it’s what I’m supposed to do. I’m just really scared that I won’t be up for it.

    If anyone has advice on how to deal with imposter syndrome as you’re going into a new job, I’d appreciate it. But my real question is how do I announce it to my current coworkers? It’s rare to have everybody in the office at once, but email feels so impersonal, and obviously that means some people find out before others and there may be hurt feelings. How have others handled it?

    1. miyeritari*

      I wouldn’t disclose that you feel this way until you’re sure your coworkers won’t hold it against you in some weird way. (Ie: “I like Jane but she’s kind of a downer about herself and it gets me down too.”) You might want to make some friends and see if you can sniff out if anyone has similar feelings or understands where you’re coming from. (You don’t disclose this in your post, but generally as a woman I find that this is something I connect with on other women – that might be a place to start.)

      In the meantime, I’d try to combat your imposter feeling symptoms.

      The way I usually do this is that I put how crappy I feel about my work/performance to the side and ONLY review the feedback I get from external sources, and then i try to just REALLY lean on that no matter how awful my inner gremlin is going at me. For example, even though in my head I might be saying “Jesus christ, this is the worst teapot anyone has ever made, how could they POSSIBLY want me to make teapots, I’m sure they’re going to look at this and ‘go what an AWFUL teapot’ i’m going to be fired!!”

      I try to only pay attention to external feedback: “okay, well the LAST time i showed off a teapot, no one had bad feedback, in fact one person said ‘wow, nice teapot!’ and on my yearly review, my boss said I make amazing teapots.”

      I also try to remember my crummy imposter feedback doesn’t actually matter. Someone else decided I was good for this job, it’s way more important that THEY care, not me.”

      I hope this helps. Imposter syndrome is SO tough. Ugh. Good luck on your new posistion! You’re going to do amazing.

      1. KMB213*

        I think Bookfish is asking us how she should let her current coworkers know about her new position, not how to announce her impostor syndrome.

        Assuming I’m interpreting correctly, Bookfish, I would tell your manager in person, first, then those you work closest with. Depending on the size of your office, you could tell all of the people who are there in person, then send off a quick e-mail so everyone finds out at the same time. I understand that this feels impersonal, but, assuming you will see all of your coworkers at least once before you leave, you’ll be able to do personal goodbyes, as well.

        Good luck with the new job! The company believes you’re the best candidate for a reason, so I’m sure you’ll rock it!

    2. who?*

      Do you mean you want to announce to your coworkers that you have imposter syndrome? I would strongly advise against doing that.

      1. Bookfish*

        Sorry for the misunderstanding. I appreciate the insight about imposter syndrome, miyeritari. I’ll definitely need to copy all that down. And thanks KMB213. I was able to do what you suggested to the extent I could (my manager is remote) and I think it went ok.

  28. AdAgencyChick*

    When you interview someone, how long do you typically interview them for?

    Our recruiting department schedules us for half-hour interviews per person (a candidate is usually required to meet with the hiring manager, the hiring manager’s boss or head of the department, and maybe one or two people in related departments who would be peers).

    I don’t think you can learn that much about someone in only half an hour. I mean, sure, sometimes they will wave red flags in my face in the first ten minutes, and then I end the interview when I’m supposed to. But usually I want 45 minutes to an hour to get more of a sense of somebody.

    On the other hand, we are asking people to take time out of their workday, they have to meet 2-4 people at a time, and I want to be respectful of that.

    Just curious what people find the ideal amount of time is in various industries.

    1. alice*

      I’ve never had a successful interview (as the candidate or the interviewer) that was shorter than 45 minutes. I find even 30 minutes too rushed and not enough time to establish a familiar relationship – for lack of a better term – with the other person. With interviews that are an hour in length, there’s plenty of time for in-depth questions and the candidate’s questions at the end. This is just my experience though.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Usually 30 minutes to an hour, depending. If I’m one of a long line of people to interview someone, I could get only 30 minutes, but if I’m one of the people who’d be working most directly with the candidate, it’s usually closer to 45 minutes or an hour (or even longer).

    3. Kathenus*

      My interviews usually consist of 30 minutes with HR, one hour with me and my two managers, 30-45 minutes with the members of the team(s) they’ll be joining (with no managers present), and then a quick follow up with me at the end to answer any additional questions. Plus some time on their own to tour our facility (we are open to the public) if they are external candidates. If it’s hiring for a manager position, we also add one hour with two of my peers, per a policy from our VP.

      Even though it’s a long day, I think having the candidate meet different people at different levels helps them better understand the culture and the position, and helps us get a better cross-section of feedback to help find the best fit.

    4. Jady*

      HR used to schedule us for 90 minutes per person interviewing them. We pushed to get it to 45 minutes. To me, even 45 seems too long.

      But I’m in software dev. It’s pretty easy to quickly determine if the person is qualified for the job. Everything else is about cultural fits.

    5. Natalie*

      I don’t think I’ve ever had a decent job interview that’s been shorter than an hour, but that’s one hour with one person or group of people. If I was your recruiting department, I’d be trying to combine some of those interviews, or with the peers just have them sit in on the main interview.

    6. NotAnotherManager!*

      Depends on the position. For entry-level staff, I have a pretty well-defined set of skills/traits I’m looking for and really only need 30 minutes to describe the position/organization, ask questions about the desired skills, and make sure I’ve answered their questions. I have the option to push to 45-60 minutes, if needed. For more complex positions, I usually ask for an hour but have an arrangement with HR to cut short any interviews that clearly aren’t going anywhere (, guy who gave one-word answers to open-ended questions, girl who spent the interview time telling me how she really didn’t want to do the things the job entailed).

    7. Optimistic Prime*

      I work in tech. We have all-day interview loops. Each interview is about an hour (the lunch one is an hour and a half), and people can have anywhere from 3-6 interviews in a normal day depending on level and team.

      A half an hour is not long enough IMO.

  29. Nicotene*

    I have an initial phone interview for one job at the beginning of next week, and an in-person interview for a different job at the end of the week. I should know more soon, but right now I think the second job sounds like a better career move (of course). They’re almost a month behind the first job in making their decision so I’m afraid I’ll end up with a solid offer from job 1, the less-preferred, and not know the disposition of job 2. Happens all the time, but so frustrating!

  30. Berry*

    Second question, for myself!

    I went to a networking event yesterday and met a few people, made some LinkedIn connections, however I realized that I would feel weird connecting these people to jobs I might know because I don’t know them at all beyond a 10 minute conversation and what their field is. I don’t want to somehow end up responsible for a recommendation that turns out to be a terrible hire because I didn’t actually know them. I want to keep meeting people (job hunt starting again soon!) but is it just a fact of life that networking is 95% people that you might never interact with again and 5% potentially useful connections?

    1. Jillociraptor*

      I think that ratio is probably right, but there are some benefits even to being connected to the 95%. I’ve definitely had further-flung contacts just send me a position description they saw that might be a fit with my skills, or share that a position is going to be available, or pass on a conference or other opportunity that might be beneficial. None of that came with any personal recommendations or access for me, but it did densify my grapevine in helpful ways.

      1. Optimistic Prime*

        And sometimes some people in the 95% know someone *else* who becomes useful to you later.

    2. A.N.O.N.*

      I imagine if your company was hiring and someone you met at a networking event told you they were interested in the position, you wouldn’t have an issue forwarding their resume to HR or the hiring manager. You could include a note that said that you don’t know them personally, but know they are interested in the job. The fact that you passed it on means their resume will at least get looked at, rather than if they apply through the generic channel.

      Same would go for you. People won’t be able to personally vouch for you, but they can ensure that your application materials are at least looked at by the right people.

      1. Optimistic Prime*

        That’s how I do it. I frequently meet people at networking events who could potentially be good fits for positions on our team, so I pass on their resume with a note clarifying where I met them and noting that I have never worked with them personally but they could be a good fit and they seem interested.

  31. On the Way Out*

    I’ve just accepted a new position and given notice at my current job. My boss took the news better than I expected. What’s surprising to me is that she seems to have no idea of why I’m leaving. She thinks it’s because I’m returning to the field I worked in before this one–which is true. However, the main reason is because she’s highly unprofessional.

    During my first few months here, my boss was verbally abusive on an almost daily basis. That tapered off as I gained a better handle on my responsibilities, and she eventually acknowledged that she had “misjudged me.”

    Aside from that, my boss has behaved questionably in a number of ways, towards some of my coworkers as well as myself. For example, she routinely criticizes her employees during staff meeting, both to their faces and when they’re absent. On our high school intern’s first day, our boss asked her for advice on her teenage son’s behavioral problems. And her rules for what does and does not qualify for overtime pay are inconsistent. Several times I’ve worked additional hours, only to be told the next week that those weren’t eligible and I needed to leave early to erase the time debt–which put me behind on other projects.

    I wish there were someone with whom I could be honest about all of this. Yet my boss is where she is because she’s well-connected. She’s well-liked by her boss, who’s housed in another building and sees very little of the daily workings of our department. Moreover, my current boss has connections with several high-level people in the department I’m moving to, and I’m concerned that saying something now could negatively affect me in the future.

    Any advice?

    1. neverjaunty*

      1) Let her believe the lie.

      2) Talk (quietly) to an attorney about how to recover the overtime wages she’s stolen from you.

      1. Samata*

        I agree with both of your suggestions, but is there a way to do 2 without harming relationship with current boss since it sounds like On the Way Out is actually working for the same company? I know retaliation isn’t permitted, but just curious.

        1. neverjaunty*

          That’s what the attorney can explain – what options are available and the pros and cons.

    2. This isn't a hill worth dying on*

      I would let sleeping dogs lie because you seem to be on an even keel with her at the moment, she has form for badmouthing people, and she’s well connected with people you will work with. Leave on as positive note as you can so she feels positive when she thinks/speaks of you. It doesn’t look like you have a lot to gain from being honest, and potentially something to lose if she talks to her contacts about you in an unkind way.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Most of the time, if I am leaving because of a bad boss I tell myself that speaking up now is too little and too late.

      Never underestimate the power to taking your skills, ability and knowledge with you when you leave. A good employee leaves a big hole and everyone knows it.

  32. mrs. barber*

    I asking a question on behalf of my husband. He is a barber and the shop he works in is owned by a man who is also a barber but doesn’t actually take clients any more. He is rarely at the shop.
    My husband is paid a percentage of sales on services. He doesn’t recieve a salary and files taxes as an independent contractor.
    The shop is located in a downtown business district that is significantly quieter on the weekends. In spite of this, the owner decided about a year ago to open on Saturdays from 10-6 as well as Monday-Friday. The barbers were willing to give it a shot since Saturday hours are normal in their industry. Unfortunately after a year of trying they are all fed up with lack of business. They regularly have hour-long lulls just sitting around waiting for a client to come in. Obviously they are not making any money during these down times. They have let the owner know that they’re unhappy with the way it’s going but for the owner there is really no downside to being open since he gets a percentage of their sales and is not having to pay them to sit around. He will not budge, not even to compromise on closing at 4 instead of 6. Are the barbers powerless in this situation? Does anyone have a script of something they could say to the owner to help convince him these Saturday shifts are a waste of their time?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Legally, the owner doesn’t get to set hours for independent contractors. Contractors get to set their own times, and employees are told when to work. But I can’t help you too much with verbiage to explain this to the owner. The best suggestion I have is to collectively tell the owner that all the contractors realized that they are not making any money on the weekends and they decided not to work them anymore. Frequently, people will accept it if they are told the decision instead of asking permission.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Yeah, I think going to the owner as a group might be effective. He might decide to fire any individual complainers, but he can’t let his whole team go at once.

      2. mrs. barber*

        Independent contractor may not be the correct term. He definitely has to show up when scheduled if he want to keep his job.

        1. Nicotene*

          If he must show up at certain hours, he must be paid for those hours. There’s something really shady going on. As the others say, a key definition of a contractor is that they set their own hours and can choose not to work at certain times. But everybody has to be paid for times they have to work.

        2. Natalie*

          I think what AndersonDarling is saying is that in order to be *correctly* classified as an independent contractor, he should be setting his own hours. Does he receive a 1099 or W2 at the end of the year?

          1. mrs. barber*

            I just confirmed with him that he gets a 1099 so it seems like his boss may be doing some contradictory things.

            1. Zip Zap*

              Yes. If you’re improperly classified, you can sue your employer for the wages and anything else they owe you (benefits, cost of materials). Look up the definition of employee versus independent contractor. Maybe they could present this to the boss and point out that he needs to pay them or let them set their own hours.

    2. Anon in IL*

      There are tests for classifying a worker as an employee vs an independent contractor. One is the ability to set your own hours. Boss may be running afoul of the law if he is insisting on Saturday hours.

        1. mrs. barber*

          Yes, that definitely makes it sound like he’s not technically independent. Perhaps I was mistaken about the way he files taxes. (Should probably make sure we’ve been doing it right! Haha)
          Thanks for the link!

          1. Hibiscus*

            No, it’s his boss who gets hit with the tax burden because he’s treating them as employees but paying them as contractors. The barbershop owner is due for some stiff penalties from the IRS.

    3. Former Hairdresser*

      The independent contractor points others have discussed is a good point. I also suggest:
      – Discussing this as a group
      – Suggesting rotating Saturdays if barbers are willing
      – Looking at the total shop sales for the day. Given the workload and commission, how much is the owner actually making? It might make sense to approach it from a logical sense: we have 4 barber’s working who cut 28 people – with a 50% split and product commissions, the owner makes $X but we guess he spends $Y on electricity, etc… Does that profit justify being open on Saturdays for the owner?
      – There is strength in masses. If they all push back and refuse to work, the owner is in a hard spot. It would be difficult (but not impossible) to fire everyone.
      – Or tell him “hey, none of us are making enough money to justify working on Saturdays. If you want that, what are you doing to advertise the shop to increase business / make it worth our while?”
      It’s not unreasonable for that location to have minimal or no staff on Saturdays (depending on the customer load.) It’s also rare for stylists / barbers to be closed on Saturdays; however, downtown businesses are an exception. It’s pretty common to have unreasonable managers or owners in this industry. Your husband may wish to put out feelers for other shops if he can bring a book of business. In the meantime, I recommend that he collect his own customer records. (The records might be property of the barber shop, and he might not be able to take them with him.) He might also consider starting his own business in a place like Sola Salon Studios, a place where he can set up his own shop with low overhead. Some of my friends have had a lot of success there, but it does come with a location change (that may impact his business), and other responsibilities like bookkeeping, marketing, taxes, ordering, etc…. It sounds like he, and his coworkers have a difficult situation now. I hope it changes for the better.

      1. Former Hairdresser*

        He can also put out feelers for other shops even if he doesn’t have a book of transferable business.

          1. mrs. barber*

            He has been keeping feelers out but higher-end barbershops are still somewhat rare around here. (He’s def a barber, not a cosmo.)

    4. mrs. barber*

      Sounds like the next step is researching whether they fit the definition of indie contractor or not. If so, they can use that as ammunition for a group meeting.
      Just to answer some random questions, I doubt the owner’s overhead is very high as the shop is in a large building that’s basically always open and “on”, though I haven’t seen his bills.
      My husband is relatively new to the profession so I don’t think he’s ready to strike out on his own yet and I’m not sure the barbers are a cohesive enough group that they would ever move together. (It’s like a lot of workplaces, some people are more useful than others. Haha.)

    5. KarenT*

      At a minimum, can they cut down the number of people there on Saturdays? It sounds like all 4 are sitting around doing nothing. I know it’s not a full solution, but it seems pretty reasonable for there to only be 2 there on Saturdays, and then they can alternate weekends instead of working every one.

    6. No, please*

      I was a stylist for 12 years. If the owner makes a schedule that your husband is required to keep then he is an employee. He should be paid hourly, receive overtime pay after 40 hrs per pay period and be allowed to keep all tips. Standard W-2. If your husband is buying any shop supplies beyond his personal tools like shears, clippers and guards, combs and brushes etc., he should get reimbursed or stop doing it. This a real problem in that industry. It’s disturbing. Beyond contacting your local equivalent to DOL he can contact the state board of cosmetology for advice.

      1. mrs. barber*

        Thanks for the info, No Please. The boss does make the schedule and my husband does buy his own supplies and then writes them off and his tax return. (He gets a 1099 tax doc.)

    7. mrs. barber*

      Thanks, everyone! I was expecting to hear the standard “negotiate as a team” advice so this is a pleasant surprise. If it turns out he has been doing something shady…that’s pretty good leverage!

      1. No, please*

        Sorry I’m so late. Unfortunately that “negotiate as a team” advice will not work here, I suspect. A lot of people think they can pay on a commission while treating employees like sub-contractors for tax purposes. This simply isn’t the case. And if commission doesn’t meet or exceed minimum wage then the employer must pay minimum wage according to labor laws. The end.
        These are the reasons I went to work for corporate beauty supplies before having my kid and staying home. I spent all that time in school, passed my state boards, pursued on-going ed., just to deal with this crap. I did fare better as a booth renter. Maybe he could look into renting a space in a well-established salon/barber shop? He would be fully self-employed. In my experience, a real barber could do quite well in this setting.

  33. Caroline*

    Since the subject of makeup comes up every now and then:

    For people who wear makeup to work, how much of it do you wear, and how long does it take for you to apply? Also, if you don’t work in an office, what kind of work setting are you in?

    I find makeup application extremely time consuming (even the very basics, but I’m not all that experienced with it…)

    1. awkwardkaterpillar*

      I wear a pretty full face of makeup (foundation, powder, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara). I would say it probably only takes me about 10 minutes at the very most. I pretty much do the same thing every day and it’s like a muscle memory thing at this point. Is there a particular thing that seems to slow you down?

      1. Caroline*

        Eye makeup of any kind really slow me down, I have no idea how people manage to do that so quickly.

    2. Hannah G.*

      I wear a little blush, “eyebrow mascara,” and mascara. It takes less than 3 minutes to do my makeup and I usually do it in the car. I prefer a more natural look. I work in a typical office setting but in a laid back city.

    3. alice*

      I work in an office and put very little effort in (but I look professional). Just some light foundation and eyeliner; it takes me about five minutes. There are a lot of women here who wear no makeup and some who wear more than I do, but it’s a relaxed environment and no one seems to care either way.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I just do eyeliner and sometimes lipstick. But I really focus on my skin quality so I spend time at night with face creams and scrubs and I’ll get facials. So I don’t spend time putting on makeup, but I spend the time on overall skin maintenance.

    4. strawberries and raspberries*

      Make-up application can be a pain. Sometimes I’ll do a full face when the mood strikes, but usually I’ll do at least one of the following:
      -Tinted moisturizer (instead of foundation)
      -Multisticks or other convertible products (Bite makes really nice multisticks, as does Nars)

      These products save some time and usually the application isn’t as precise.

    5. FDCA In Canada*

      I wear makeup daily. I’m both in the office and in the community dealing with local businesses on a daily basis and occasionally see clients. The office is business casual.

      I’ve been wearing makeup just about daily for over a decade, so I have my look down pat and can do it in under 5 minutes. I brush and fill in my brows with powder to define them, then do a nude eyeshadow look (3-4 different colours blended from the Urban Decay Naked palette), then light eyeliner (occasionally in fun colours, but usually dark), then two coats of mascara and a light BB cream on my skin. It sounds like a lot, but I don’t “look” like I have on a full face, because I rarely wear anything on my lips and usually even then it’s a tinted chapstick.

      It did take me a while to get up to doing everything quickly, though! It’s only easy and quick now thanks to practice.

    6. Fabulous*

      I usually just do some concealer if the dark circles are noticeable or if I’ve got a spot, a light powder all over for shine control, blush, and mascara. I also will use my blush as eyeshadow. Usually just takes me a couple minutes in the morning.

    7. Dankar*

      Blush, highlighter, eyeshadow/liner. If I’m really invested in doing my eyeshadow, it can take up to 20 minutes, but I’d say I usually average around 10.

      I work in higher ed at a women’s college, so a lot of people here don’t wear any makeup. I would say I probably do the most in my department. (Which was shocking when I started, since it’s so low-maintenance!)

    8. Murphy*

      It takes me between 5 and 10 minutes to put makeup on.

      I wear foundation (with primer) and powder, eyeshadow and eyeliner. I sometimes use lipgloss, but I’ll usually apply it later because I’ll just wear it off eating or drinking coffee.

    9. Jule*

      Foundation, sometimes with primer and/or concealer
      Quick swipe of pencil eyeliner + eyebrow pencil
      Lip balm

      I haven’t timed it but it must take less than three minutes. I have had skin issues in the past so looking in the mirror and seeing smoother skin makes the whole day go by easier, and defining my eyes helps too.

    10. Delphine*

      I generally hate makeup and often go without, but for work I wear a bit of foundation, blush, and a sheer lipstick. It takes me less than five minutes to get it all on.

    11. WellRed*

      Bb cream instead of foundation, eyeliner, mascara, ocassionally a bit of neutralish eye shadow. Natural but polished 5 minutes or less.

    12. Aunt Vixen*

      I do a dusting of face powder, a little eyeliner top and bottom (and then I smooth my brows down with the smudging end of my kohl pencil, which darkens them just a bit), and a lip stain that I have to put a balm on after it dries. The whole thing probably takes three to five minutes and I do it between finishing my OJ and getting my kid in the stroller and out the door to day care. If I skip the powder I’m down to one or two minutes probably. I can also be persuaded to skip the lipstick. I don’t really like leaving the house without eyeliner, though; I’ve reached a point where I feel like I look like I don’t feel well if I have no face on at all.

    13. Squeeble*

      These days I do a little eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick (sometimes with lip liner). Occasionally I wear foundation and powder if I feel like I need some extra smoothing out of my skin tone. In all it probably takes 3 minutes. It took a lot longer before I found an acne medication that works for me :)

    14. Aunt Vixen*

      I do a dusting of face powder, a little eyeliner (and then smooth down my eyebrows with the smudger end of my kohl pencil, which also darkens them just a bit), and a lip stain that I have to put a balm on after it dries. The whole thing takes about three minutes and I do it between finishing my OJ and getting my kid in the stroller and out the door to day care. If I skipped the powder I’d be down to about one or two minutes. I could also be persuaded to skip the lipstick, but I don’t really like leaving the house without eyeliner – I’ve reached the point where I feel like I look like I don’t feel well if I go out without any face on at all.

      (apologies if this ends up posted twice. first response may have gone to moderation, but I can’t think why it would, so it may have just got et.)

    15. ThatGirl*

      I do, but not much – I wear mineral powder foundation, so I start with a powder primer, then the base, apply concealer as needed, then finishing dust. Add mascara. It’s mostly just dusting powder over my face, so it takes maybe 5 minutes max. I work at a large consumer products company in a casual work environment, but that’s just my normal everyday “feeling polished” makeup anyway.

    16. Claire (Scotland)*

      For work, I usually wear eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, brow powder, foundation, concealer, powder, blusher and lipstick. It takes about ten minutes to do my full face, as I’m only using neutrals and keeping it pretty simple.

    17. Mona Lisa*

      It depends on the day for me. During the summer since I walk/bike to work, I wear very little or no make-up to my job since it’s so hot and humid. My go-to is a CC cream (Urban Decay One and Done), sometimes some concealer, blush, and mascara. This takes me less than 5 minutes. In the winter or on days when I have meetings, I might throw in some eye shadow and lipstick, but this usually doesn’t take more than another 5 minutes.

      I’ve had this routine or something similar for 15+ years now, which might contribute to the short time frame. It’s only recently now that my adult acne (ugh) is under control that I’m feeling more comfortable forgoing make-up entirely. Something else that helps is that I pick a routine and stick with it; if I feel like experimenting with new eye shadow colors or techniques, I try those out on the weekend and then incorporate them into my daily look once I’m more comfortable with the process.

    18. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Takes me about 5 minutes. I do liquid foundation, concealer if needed, eyeliner, powder, lip gloss. I used to wear mascara and eyeshadow every day and that only added a little extra time. I work in a VERY casual but professional office and I came from another casual office where I dropped the eyeshadow and mascara after about 6 months. I keep things very basic and don’t change colors of eyeliner and lipstick very often. When I worked in retail last year I rarely even bothered with the lip gloss.

      I use a cosmetic sponge to apply my foundation and a brush to apply powder. One thing to note is that I’ve been wearing makeup since I was 11, so I’ve had over 25 years of practice. When I do makeup to go out, it still takes me less than 10 minutes to do my face. My hair is another story.

    19. Emi.*

      I wear CC cream, eyeshadow, and mascara. It takes me ~5 minutes, maybe 10, depending on how much I’m chatting with my husband while I’d doing it. I’m planning to add blush, because just the CC cream makes me look a little washed out.

    20. Dana Cardinal*

      It takes me 5 minutes to apply my makeup for work, maybe 10 if I decide to try something fancy. But I’ve been wearing makeup for half my life now, so I’m fairly experienced at it. I’m in an office job, with a dress code solidly on the “business” end of business casual. Usually I wear concealer, foundation, neutral eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara. Sometimes I fill in my eyebrows, but not often. Occasionally I’ll wear liquid eyeliner instead of pencil, and that will take a few more minutes. I also carry lipstick and sometimes wear it.
      At this point, I have it down to a ritual, and the only real variety comes from the colors of eyeshadow I use.

      1. Dana Cardinal*

        Forgot to mention – I’ve been contouring lately because I have a young-looking face (I’m often mistaken for a teenager) and it makes me look a tad older to have my cheekbones defined.

        1. LemonTime*

          I want in on this too! From the video I just watched it doesn’t seem too bad. Also: oh, so that’s what those little brushes are for. Huh. Thanks for the tip!

    21. Perpetua*

      I put on BB cream (mostly under my eyes and on the cheeks), a bit of pressed powder, black eyeliner (it usually takes me less than a minute for both eyes, I’m so used to it by now), mascara and some blush.

      All in all, it takes me around 5 minutes, maybe 7-10 if I’m being really slow with it or on the days when the eyeliner just won’t cooperate and I can’t seem to get a decent line even after spending 10+ Q-tips on removing the troublesome parts. Those days are rare, but they do happen. :D

      I think it’s important to find what works for you, maybe experiment a bit. It can be of great help if you have someone close to you who is enough into makeup to share good knowledge, help you choose and give you some recommendations, but not too much into it so they push the latest trends on you or make you feel like you NEED to do EVERYTHING. Once you find a look (or several) you like, it can be much easier to try and speed up a specific part of the routine.

    22. Myrin*

      My goodness, I’m doing much less than most other commenters and yet I’m taking the longest yet? When I wear makeup, I only wear mascara and eyeshadow but it takes me about 15 minutes. I’m taking a wild guess here that the fact that I will never be apply to apply mascara smudge-free is a significant part of those fifteen minues. I always look like a weird panda after my first round of mascara and then I have to remove the black all around my eyes and then I put on eyeshadow but for some reason it always lands very visibly on my lashes and then I have to – carefully, lest I become Panda 2.0! – put on another half-round of mascara so that it looks normal. I know why I’ve been going bare-faced lately.

      1. Talvi*

        I’m in this boat, to0! I just do eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick, but it’ll still take me 15-20 minutes! Part of the problem is I never used to wear makeup (then I discovered how much I like wearing red lipstick, and started wearing eyeliner to balance it out a little) so I’m still getting used to it, part is that I’m very nearsighted so applying eye makeup involves a hand mirror and some awkward contortions, part is my love of dark lipstick (which means the lip line has to be just so or it’s very noticeable)…

      2. medium of ballpoint*

        I have pretty watery eyes and can be prone to the panda look. I’m not sure if this’ll help, but here’s what I do: I look for mascara formulas that are drier (the Clump Crusher that comes in the green tube is great for this, can’t remember the brand at the moment) and I’ll often buy a mascara before I need it, open it once, and let it dry out a little before I use it regularly. I avoid mascara on my lower lashes and usually curl my eyelashes before putting on mascara and lightly again after it’s dried. Those things seem to help me. I still get a little smudging as the day wears, but it’s not terrible.

        1. Rainy, not-PI*

          Try a primer–if you go to sephora they’ll get you samples of a few mascara primers that you can then apply with a spoolie or an old, washed, mascara wand.

          My mascara doesn’t move anymore, ever, and I have *terrible* allergies! :)

        2. Myrin*

          Oh, I don’t get any smudging during the day at all, it’s really just when I apply it. And I’ve been doing this for fifteen years and it’s always been like that – I guess it’s part that I have pretty long upper lashes and part that I can’t be bothered to try and change anything about the way I apply it. And I don’t mind the clean-up, I have a very good liquid for it and 15 minutes isn’t a HUGE!1!! amount of time, but I was wondering about the difference.

      3. Rainy, not-PI*

        Dry mascara formula (Clinique has a good one) and MASCARA PRIMER FIRST, I like smashbox.

        Best order in my experience is: eyeshadow, eyeliner, clean up any shadow fall out with a makeup wipe, rest of face, curl eyelashes, mascara primer, mascara. If you miss with the mascara, a cotton swab pressed into the wipe to pick up some wipe liquid and then dabbed at the spots will lift them.

        1. Rainy, not-PI*

          Oh and I never put mascara on my lower lashes. I have almond-shaped eyes so that works for me really well, but if you have more round or deepset eyes your mileage may vary.

        2. Myrin*

          Well, I definitely can’t do eyeshadow first because then The Panda happens and I will have to remove half of it again when I get rid of the smudges. (I feel like I might have worded this in a way that could be misunderstood – I don’t have any smudge problems during the day, I just dab the brush all over my face while applying mascara. It has nothing to do with the consistency or make-up (ha!) of the mascara and everything with my long lashes and swiping-hands-technique.) And that’s all just way too much effort for me, honestly. I use mascara – eyeshadow – mascara and that’s already quite enough for me – I’m so lazy, I can’t be bothered to do more.

          1. Rainy, not-PI*

            Haha okay, no worries. :) Although I wonder if a bigger handle on the wand would give you more control?

    23. k8*

      i don’t wear makeup on a regular basis, especially in the heat. I work in influencer marketing, which means that my office IS generally very image-conscious– but since I’m a programmer and am not client-facing at all, it doesn’t really matter for me.

      when i do wear makeup, a basic look takes 15 minutes maximum. but honestly, that’s fifteen minutes that could be spent sleeping, so it usually doesn’t happen . . .

      1. Nicotene*

        Yeah plus one. I don’t wear makeup except for one product that is to make me look less shiny. It’s like a foundation powder (?). I swipe it over my face right after I finish my hair and then I’m out the door. Time, five seconds. (I do have a different one for summer than winter, since I’m tanner in the summer). I get away with this by never having worn makeup at this job, so everybody is accustomed to my regular face. Also it’s kind of a granola-y office, most women don’t wear much here.

        1. Annie Moose*

          Sounds kinda like me. I use a concealer (for red spots and dark circles under my eyes) and powder foundation. If I’m having a particularly good skin day, I might skip the concealer (or not wear makeup altogether). I know I’m fairly lucky in that my skin usually looks OK anyway.

          I’m a programmer who works mostly with guys, so I guess I fulfill the stereotype of the female nerd who doesn’t care what she looks like! I’m not client-facing and I don’t enjoy putting on make-up, so why put myself through that? Also, I’m always running late and don’t have time to do more anyway.

          (honestly, make-up intimidates me a bit. I can handle “cover up spots” and “even out skin tone”, but when it comes to coordinating eyeshadow color or whatever, I’m totally lost)

    24. Rusty Shackelford*

      I work in an office, and I have pretty bad skin (possibly undiagnosed rosacea) so I wear a full face: foundation/primer, blush, eye shadow, eyebrow color, eyeliner, mascara/primer. It usually takes about 20 minutes, but I can do it in 10 if I have to.

    25. Iris Eyes*

      Depending on the day and how much time I have before I need to be at my desk:
      Usually I try for lip stick/gloss and eyeliner+mascara, that makes me look like I did something (2 ish minutes)
      If I have some more time or more issues I use foundation (a more sheer coverage keeps you from needing blush or all that contouring stuff) and eye shadow as well (5 minutes or so total?)
      This is usually done in my car, sometimes I get started while driving (yes yes I know ) but more often in my parking spot.
      Top tip:color is everything, the less dramatic and more natural /flattering your colors are the less you have to worry about getting it “just right”

    26. jmm*

      My makeup is light but covers up redness and makes me feel more polished. I just clean my face, apply moisturizer with sunscreen, then a tinted moisturizer (Almay smart shade anti-aging) that covers well, then groom my brows with an old toothbrush, then apply mascara and lip gloss. This all takes about 5 minutes.

    27. R2D2*

      My routine is similar to others who have commented!
      * Eyeliner, Mascara, Mineral Powder, Blush (Winter) or Bronzer (Summer)
      * 5-10 Minutes
      * I work at a bank in the US.

    28. Bye Academia*

      I have been pretty anti-makeup my whole life, but have recently started exploring it. It took me a long time to settle the tension between feeling like one is supposed to wear it (and have a knee jerk reaction against societal pressure) and using it for self-expression/fun. But since I haven’t been wearing it for years like everyone else my age, it also takes me forever and I am still not used to how it feels on my face.

      So for work, I stick with minimal steps that make me look more groomed and awake. For me, this means eyebrow gel to tame my old man eyebrows, curling my eyelashes, and undereye concealer. It takes me probably 3-5 minutes.

      1. Nicotene*

        I sympathize with this tension. To me, makeup always felt kind of sexualized, since I mostly wore it only on dates where I was trying to appear attractive to men. Since I’m not trying to attract men at work it always seemed odd to me to wear it [I totally recognize that this is a me-issue and not at all how other people feel about makeup; I’ve always struggled with looking “attractive” when not trying to literally attract people.

    29. Neosmom*

      I do not wear make up. I stopped many (10?) years ago and am very fortunate that I do not need it to minimize scarring or other blemished on my face. My primary reason for stopping was I do not like the idea that human female beauty in “Western” culture is epitomized by how women look in the midst of “ultimate pleasure”.

    30. ginger ale for all*

      I wear BB cream or a high SPF sunblock, mascara, and lip gloss or sheer lipstick most days. Sometimes I add eyeliner or a bit of blush. A while back, a post was made on the open topic Sunday about dyeing your eyelashes/eyebrows and I have been doing that and it is a minor miracle for me. I have rosacea and as long as my cheeks are toned down, I am happy with the less is more routine.

      1. ginger ale for all*

        I forgot the other part of the question – it takes me about 8 minutes from washing my face to the end. I work in a library. If I am in a rush, I just get the SPF on and go. I keep lip balms and glosses at my desk for touch ups. I also wear glasses with peacock blue frames so I don’t feel as if I need to go ‘all out’ since I already have ‘jewelry’ for my face.

    31. KR*

      It takes me 10 minutes to apply makeup usually. Usually a little less, maybe more if I’m trying for foundation or winged eyeliner. I usually wear a little eyeliner or mascara (I don’t put on eyeliner if I’m in a rush because of how easy it is to mess it up), but I almost always wear eyeshadow – a darker color in the crease and a lighter color on the lid. Just to give my eyes some definition. I keep my lipstick in my purse so it’s usually a spur of the moment decision whether I want to wear lipstick and often happens at work. I work in a remote office and don’t have to dress fancy at all but I do this even when I’m dressing up for work (visits, work travel, ect). Sometimes I have to go on site or do physical work and it’s very hot where I live, so I usually have to wear setting spray so I don’t sweat it off and I don’t wear dark colors on those days since it’s more noticeable when the makeup runs.

    32. Purplesaurus*

      < 5 min on days that I wear it.
      – SPF Primer
      – Under eye concealer
      – Mascara
      – Brow gel

    33. Rainy, not-PI*

      I’m very femme presenting, and I wear a full face daily. It takes me 20-30 minutes to do hair and makeup in the mornings unless I straighten my hair (which I don’t do that often–I have a lot of hair).

      On an average day I wear: moisturizer, liquid foundation, blush, bronzer, 2 kinds of highlighter, powder, full eye shadow (2-4 shades depending on look), liner, mascara, brow colour, and usually lip colour or a tinted lip balm. I worked up to this. I spent several years wearing mineral foundation, eyeshadow, liner, mascara, and finishing powder only, which took me–ha ha sigh–about the same amount of time to put on that my full face does now. (I got better at it.)

      A lot of it is just practice, and finding the products and application tools and techniques that work for you. If I’m really in a hurry I can do my makeup in under 10 minutes, but I’m usually not in that kind of hurry.

    34. EmilyG*

      I’d guess I spent about 7 minutes (more than 5, less than 10!) on makeup that I think makes me look more polished (=less young). I work in an office whose formality is all over the place.

      I wear a matte SPF 45 sunscreen every day. Then different concealers on my lids and under eyes. Light foundation. Blush. Brow powder. Eyeliner pencil.

      I don’t think it looks very “done up” because I only wear lipstick/eyeshadow/mascara for special occasions at night. I’m nearsighted and only started wearing makeup routinely a few years ago, and it definitely took me longer at first. I listen to NPR while getting ready so it doesn’t feel like a huge waste of time.

      1. Rainy, not-PI*

        I can’t hear anything about politics while getting ready or I end up going super heavy on the blush and bronzer. I call it “AngryBlush” like “Oh, sorry, I read Twitter while I was doing my makeup and ended up with AngryBlush today”.

    35. Shellesbelles*

      I don’t always wear makeup to work, but my office is very casual and not public-facing except for special events.

      Makeup application for me takes between 10 – 30 minutes, depending on what I’m doing, but these are the things I find make the most difference for my face:

      – Filling in my eyebrows.
      – Eyeliner (though not underneath the eyes).
      – BB cream or a sheer bit of foundation.
      – Soft, pink lipstick or gloss.

      If I go full face, I tend to go for a modernized pinup look, as that’s what works best with my retro features. Also, I love playing around with a bright or vampy lipstick, which is acceptable at my current office, but may not be other places.

    36. Portia*

      I wear foundation, mascara, eyebrow pencil, blush, and lip stain/balm. I’ve been doing basically the same makeup since I was about 21, so it’s totally routine now. It takes me about 5-8 minutes, I’d guess, except on mornings when my allergies are bad and I sneeze and smear mascara everywhere. :/ I’m a teacher.

    37. Beckie*

      I work in a business casual office environment, and there is a wide range of how “dressy” people are with their outfits, and how much makeup the women wear. I’m somewhere in the middle on both counts.

      I almost always do eyes (eyeliner and mascara, usually eyeshadow) and lips (lip liner, lipstick, lip gloss), because I think it helps define my face better. That takes me about 2-3 minutes in the morning.

      If I am working at an event or have a major meeting, I will add the rest of my face (undereye concealer, foundation powder, blush). It only adds about another 2-3 more minutes to the process, but I don’t love the full-makeup look on myself so I don’t do it every day.

    38. Cloud Nine Sandra*

      About ten minutes ish, but it can go faster. Some kind of primer/foundation then powder for the face. Eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow for the eyes. Lipstick. Then I use setting spray for the face and I’m good to go. Some of that time is me deciding between which eyeliner, which eye shadow, which lipstick.

    39. Annie Mouse*

      I’ve only recently started wearing anything more than a smudge of concealer to hide the black rings under my eyes! I wear moisturiser, primer, foundation and then the concealer now, just to take the edge off my paleness :) It takes 5 mins max and I only use a very little bit of everything. I work on ambulances in pre-hospital emergency care and I actually find that amazingly, the vast majority stays on all day, even in unfavourable conditions. Occasionally, I add a little bit of lipstick in a subtle colour, if I remember it!!
      I’m with you on the makeup being time consuming, that’s the main reason it’s taken me so long to start using it.

    40. Elizabeth West*

      I wear concealer, a little bit of foundation to even out skin tone, shadow, mascara and a bit of liner, and lipstick. It takes me about ten minutes to put it on in the morning, depending on how many zits I have to cover up, LOL.

      It takes practice to be able to do it fast, but I don’t do very elaborate eye makeup, either. If you want to wear it regularly, you can find a tutorial for everyday looks you like and practice on weekends.

    41. Chaordic One*

      Because I wear glasses I usually do not bother with mascara. I moisturize, use a powder for shine control, a bit of concealer and then just a bit of lip gloss. Occasionally I’ll use a lipstick and bit of blush. It usually takes me about 5 minutes, or maybe 10 minutes tops when I’m trying to make an extra good impression.

    42. Optimistic Prime*

      I don’t usually wear makeup to work. Only if I feel like putting some on in the morning. When I do, I wear a CC cream, setting powder, some brow powder/pencil, eyeshadow (1-3 colors), eyeliner, mascara, blush, and a lip gloss or lipstick. It takes me about 10-15 minutes to put together. But it took me a while to get it down to that…when I first started using makeup and was experimenting with what looked good on my face, it took me like 30+ minutes.

  34. Near the Border*

    Does anyone in the US work in one state and live in another? How does that work with taxes, etc? I’m thinking about looking for a job in Toledo, OH when living in Michigan. I’ll most likely be moving closer to the border within the next year or two to be closer to my husband’s work. I really don’t care where I work and my husband wants to retire where he’s at, so it makes sense to cut down his drive time if we can! Just wondering about the logistics of cross-state employment :) Thanks!

    1. Lady Jay*

      I do some remote work, and because I don’t actually leave my home state, I only have to file state taxes for my home state. I’m earning the money in my state, even though the job is based in a separate state. However, when I was reading up on this the first time I filed taxes for my remote work, it seemed to me that if I actually worked in another state, I would need to file income taxes for both my home state & the state I was working in.

    2. JR*

      For the most part, you only pay state taxes in the state where you live. Just make sure when you start the job to talk to whoever handles payroll to make sure they take out taxes for MI and not OH. It’s generally not a big deal. I live in the DC area, and pretty much all employers are used to paying state taxes for VA, MD, and/or DC depending on where an employee lives.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I believe that Virginia, Maryland, and DC have reciprocity agreements that allow residents of one state to be exempt from paying state tax in another. If the states don’t have a reciprocity agreement, it’s possible you have to pay both. (For instance, Virginia doesn’t have reciprocity with Tennessee. Tennessee doesn’t have a state income tax for employment, and Tennessee residents working in Virginia have to pay non-resident state taxes to Virginia. Virginia residents working in TN have to pay Virginia taxes, which their employer may or may not withhold/pay for them.)

        Short answer: Check the Ohio and Michigan departments of taxation pages to see whether or not they have reciprocity agreements.

    3. Margaret*

      Accountant here – as a general rule, your income is taxable where you live, and also taxable where you work if that’s different. If both states try to claim your income, they each have different rules about how to handle it – ultimately you only pay taxes to one state!
      On the west coast, you generally file the nonresident (where you work but don’t live) state return, pay the tax to them, and then file your resident state and calculate the tax including on your salary, but then take a credit because you paid tax on the some income to another states. (And some states have agreements to do the reverse.) On the east coast, I don’t deal with it often but my understanding is that a lot of states have agreements so that even if you’re working in one states, if you live in another state they’ll just treat you as working there, or vice versa. (Since the states are smaller and commuting from one state to another is more common.)
      Ultimately, you need to know what state will tax you, and have withholding accordingly. Talk to HR/payroll – they should know how it should work, and it’s their responsibility to get correct, in most ways (and things like unemployment tax have similar rules setup). But I’d recommend you verify that it ends up happening correctly so you’re not surprised at tax time! (Worst case scenario is you file, pay tax to a state that you didn’t have withholding on, and wait for a refund from a state you had withholding on but don’t owe tax to. Annoying, to a degree depending on cash flow flexibility.)

    4. Gwen Stefani-Shelton*

      I did a very long time ago. I do remember having to file in both states but I no longer remember any of the specifics about how it went. I just e-filed and didn’t have to do anything special. I think I got refunds from one state and then paid a very low amount (like less than $50) to the other state but I don’t know if that would be typical of that situation.

    5. Aunt Vixen*

      Get ready for a raft of responses from folks in the DC area. :-)

      I believe many states have arrangements with their neighboring states to accommodate people who live and work on opposite sides of state lines. If you work in Maryland, you can be exempt from withholding Maryland state tax if you live in DC, Virginia, West Virginia, or Pennsylvania (and maybe also Delaware? I can’t remember). But you do have to arrange to have the state tax withheld for the state where you do live. (Ask me how I found out that doesn’t happen automatically.) If you work in DC, there are great odds that you live in either Maryland or Virginia, so the W4 makes it easy to have the tax withheld in the correct state. I would assume that Ohio has some such reciprocal deal set up with Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, where you demonstrate that you lived in Ohio for 0% of the tax year so your state taxes should go to the state where you live instead of the state where you earned your money – but have a good look at your state return form instructions to be sure.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Oh, god, and this reminds me that you should CHECK YOUR PAYS TUBS REGULARLY to ensure someone hasn’t biffed your taxes if you’re somewhere that there are multiple residency options. My husband works in Maryland for a DC-based company, and they randomly decided to move his state taxation — first to New York (where we have never lived or worked) and then to Maryland (where we also do not live). It was a mess to figure out, his withholding for the year was never sorted out or explained to our satisfaction, and it did have an impact on our taxes for the months they hadn’t withheld properly.

    6. SophieChotek*

      I work in one state (remotely) for a company that has its HQ in another state. I only pay taxes for the state in which I live.

    7. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      I live in Indiana, but work in Kentucky. I only have to file a KY tax return if KY taxes are withheld, in order to have them returned to me. I file my IN tax return as normal, and report any KY tax paid and get “credit” towards taxes that are owed in IN. Thankfully, it’s super easy for me because my employer just withholds IN taxes from my check so I don’t have to deal with the filing in KY at all.

      A quick google tells me that MI/OH have a similar reciprocal agreement.

    8. Master Bean Counter*

      I used to do this. I lives in Missouri and worked in Kansas. I’d file non-resident in Kansas, get all of my income tax back form them. Then I’d file in Missouri and turn over most of the money I got back from Kansas. With the new tax software I imagine that multiple state filings and coordinating between the returns is much easier these days.

    9. Other Duties as Assigned*

      A humorous aside—
      At OldJob, one fellow employee worked at one of our satellite offices in our state, but lived across the border in the next state. He found that gasoline was quite a bit cheaper where he lived (balanced somewhat by higher auto registration fees), but beer was much cheaper in our state because the beer tax was last raised sometime in the 1960s. Result: he always bought gas in his home state and made sure to buy beer on our side of the border.

      A win-win!

    10. edj3*

      I live in Kansas and work in Missouri. I file in both states (generally owe a bit to one and get about the same amount back from the other). I’m also required to pay Kansas City city tax (IIRC it’s 1% of my income), which is supposed to pay for the wear and tear I impose on KC city streets. That part is a total joke, since the roads absolutely suck.

    11. A Non E. Mouse*

      I live in one state and work in another; you’ll need to be sure about laws specific to each state your dealing with, but here’s how mine works:

      1) Work State: my employer takes taxes out for both states plus one locality (CITY INCOME TAXES CHAP MY ASS…ahem). I usually get a tiny refund from Work State (like, $200 or less) during return season.

      A bonus function of this is I have a library card in Work State, because I pay taxes here. :) It’s a bonus library system!

      2) Home State then gives me a credit for the amount I paid in taxes to Work State, via a specific form I have to fill out each year. This credit, plus the meager amount that was withheld for Home State on my paychecks, usually gets me to a Net Zero owe/refund across both states – I usually get owe a tiny amount to Home State.

      The first year was weird, but I am able to do my taxes myself so not that bad.

    12. Otter box*

      When I lived in Maryland but worked in DC, I paid Maryland income tax and was exempt from DC tax. However, both my parents live in Washington state and work in Oregon, and they both pay Oregon income tax because Washington doesn’t have an income tax. It’s really going to vary based on the laws where you live.

  35. Lady Jay*

    I’ve been waiting all week for a chance to vent!

    I’m currently enrolled in an online graduate certificate program (based on the West Coast) for further training in my field. It is a reliable and worthwhile certificate. So far, the classes have been fairly good: not life-changing, a little busy work, but I’ve had supportive instructors and I have learned some good things.

    But NOW. I am finishing the fourth and final course and the instructor is just TERRIBLE. I don’t want to go into details on a public site, but suffice it to say, he doesn’t respond to emails in a helpful way, tends to “spring” assignments on students at the last minute in a way that makes it hard to get done, and is generally not very good at making students feel positive and supportive. I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback from other instructors in this course, and all of a sudden I feel as though I’m the problem student. :(

    1. SophieChotek*

      From you write, you have a problem professor/instructor. A pop quiz is one thing, last minute assingments is totally something else. Hope you get through this.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      You need to contact the dean’s office or department office or advising office. And make sure you do the end of course evaluation. If students don’t tell us about these things, how on earth are we to know!!

      1. Rainy, not-PI*


        I think in your situation I’d first talk to the program manager for your certificate. If I got no love there, I’d talk to the professor in question’s head of department, and escalate to the dean as needed.

      2. Lady Jay*

        Waiting for the course evaluation to be sent. Hasn’t come yet. It’s a very small department & I still have to get through an internship, so I don’t want to blow up my reputation completely. I do think it’s a first-time issue – a little Googling suggests that the teacher just joined the program.

        1. Wheezy Weasel*

          I think if you frame your concerns appropriately, it won’t impact your reputation. For instance, you could say ‘As a working student, I need to plan my coursework and study time availability several weeks in advance because I /travel quite a bit for work/care for a sick relative/am on-call for work/work off-hours. When Professor X requires assignments during the term that were not disclosed on the syllabus, I don’t have enough time to work on them to produce the quality that is required. In the future, disclosing these assignments at the start of class will help future students perform well’. You’re stating why it affects you and what you’d like to have done differently.

          I support faculty for a living and this comes up quite a bit: many of them aren’t really in touch with how regimented graduate students need to keep their personal lives, and a last-minute work trip can cause people to fail classes because of the cascading schedule conflicts.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I had an online course where we all felt buried. The course required several hundred pages of reading each night. No one could keep up. The discussion section online fell silent a week or so into the course as everyone struggled just to get through the readings.
            Finally one brave soul spoke up. “I am here to learn but I cannot learn if I cannot complete the readings.” And she went on from there in a well expressed manner like what Wheezy shows above here.
            She said this in the online discussion area.

            The prof did not realize we were struggling so much. He failed to correctly estimate how long it would take a newbie to cover this jargon laden material.
            He adjusted the readings for the course.
            Online discussions improved.

            The next hurdle that came up was we were not getting our tests back. We needed to see his responses before we got too deep into the next section as each section built on the previous section. So back to a comment in the online discussion area. Again, well stated, showing reasons why it was in the prof’s best interest to let us know how we did.

            The course involved a LOT of writing I think the prof was overwhelmed by the amount of material we gave him back.

    3. Jessi*

      Talk to the person in charge of the course?

      I would point out that you have paid money for it and some of the point of online courses is that people can work at the same time but that the lack of organisation is making this hard. Ask what can be done and I would include that you found instructors 1-3 excellent

  36. red_one*

    Oh man, thank goodness it’s Friday open thread! I just had an awkward work situation come up this morning!

    I interviewed someone for a very hard to fill role and they seem great, and as long as all their background check and references come back clean I’d like to hire them. Only problem is that when they were in for their interview, one of my coworkers saw him and turns out they are a recent ex, and apparently the breakup was pretty bad (my coworker looked like they’d seen a ghost!). Our company is very close knit, both personally and literally (we work in a small space), so they wouldn’t be working directly together, but would see each other in the same environment a lot.

    I’ve had a really hard time filling this position, so I’m hesitant to write someone off due to interpersonal drama! Help!

    1. neverjaunty*

      “Interpersonal drama” = people being able to get along day to day, which is as important as technical skills. People aren’t robots and it isn’t necessary “drama” if they have personal clashes.

      By bad breakup, is this a situation where someone behaved badly? Or just relatively fresh?

      1. red_one*

        I don’t mean to belittle anyone with the phrase “interpersonal drama”, I just wasn’t sure how best to phrase.

        I think it’s relatively fresh and a situation where they really liked each other, but couldn’t make it work. I was thinking if I hire the ex, I could have a sit down with my coworker to give them a heads up, but I’m not sure there is any good way to handle this!

        1. purple wombat*

          Is there a reason why you can’t ask the coworker about whether or not they’d be comfortable with the ex working there? I know I would initially be surprised if an ex of mine showed up to interview at my employer, but wouldn’t really care much about working with them if someone asked about my reaction afterward.

        2. neverjaunty*

          I don’t think you can discount this just because you really want to fill the position. Hire in haste, repent at leisure, etc. And you probably wouldn’t want your existing worker to start job hunting.

          Why not sit down with them and have an open-minded talk about whether it would be difficult if you hired the ex? Maybe the initial reaction was just surprise and things are okay now. Maybe the reason for the breakup was very serious. But “hey I just hired your ex, that’s cool with you, right?” is probably the least good option.

          1. purple wombat*

            Absolutely- If it wasn’t clear from my previous comment, I would recommend having the conversation with your co-worker BEFORE hiring this person.

          2. Rainy, not-PI*

            Yes. I mean, maybe it was just “oh god, recent ex” surprise, but the breakup might have involved more serious stuff, either violence or behaviour bad enough that your current employee wouldn’t be able to work around the person.

            Talking to your current employee is going to be the best way to find out.

    2. Takver*

      Talk to your co-worker. It’s possible they will be able to handle a professional interaction without drama.

    3. Undine*

      There’s a remote chance the interviewee is stalking the co-worker, so I would definitely talk to the co-worker, and try to give them a way to let you know if they don’t feel safe.

  37. Resignation Question*

    A while back I posted in one of these threads (don’t remember what my name was) about a friend who had started a new job that was turning out to be pretty toxic. He didn’t have the basic tools he needed to do his work, the job was generally not what he’d been led to believe during the interview, he was isolated from the rest of his teammates, there was a lot of overtime work, management wasn’t great, etc….he’s been there for about two months now and things have not really improved.

    His old job actually ended up hunting him down and giving him an offer to return, with a salary bump equal to what he earns now. My friend is thinking of resigning, but isn’t sure what to say. He doesn’t want to burn this bridge, and it’s already a tricky situation because he’s leaving so quickly. Granted, this is an office with a high turnover rate, but two months isn’t a long time… What can he say when he resigns to help ease the transition?

    Another question is, should he be open about returning to his old job if they want to know where he’s going? What’s the best way to phrase that so it doesn’t sound like, “I hate this job so much I’d rather return to the job I left”?

    1. Hmmmmm*

      This would be a much more difficult question if he didn’t have another offer. A short term employment really only hurts you when job hunting. It is easy to leave something like that off a resume. “I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse” sounds straight out of the godfather, but also is a good reason to leave a job. Even if he runs into some of his current coworkers down the line, they are unlikely to remember him, negatively or positively. If they do remember, they are unlikely to remember exactly how short it was or may even assume it was a temporary position all along.

    2. Natalie*

      He really doesn’t need to make a big deal about this – “the job isn’t a good fit, and my old employer has made me an offer to return” is all he needs to say, along with providing the amount of notice that’s typical for his field/level. If he’s dealing with a reasonable boss, it will probably affect his reputation a bit but not to bridge burning levels. If he’s not dealing with reasonable people, it doesn’t really matter what he does as they will likely have an unreasonable reaction to most anything.

    3. Chaordic One*

      I wouldn’t say anything about the old employer making an offer. Just leave it with it not being a good fit.

  38. Beth Anne*

    Does anyone know anything about how ziprecruiter sorts resumes? I applied for a job a few months ago and in a fb group I saw a guy post how he just hired someone using the site and loved how it sorted the like 100+ resumes. I responded that I applied for the job but didn’t hear and he went on how well I wasn’t sorted into his “interview” pile re the site. So how the heck do you make sure you are getting sorted properly?

  39. Backpacker seeking adventure*

    Hello! In a few years I would like to quit my job and take a 3 month backpacking trip. Has anyone done this before, and if so, did you find it hard to enter the workforce when you returned?

    1. Fishsticks*

      I have no advice, but this is something I desperately want to do in two years, but also am worried about returning to the work force!

      1. Hannah G.*

        I would like to think *most* employers would be receptive especially if you have a lot of experience in a particular field but I know that it’s not the “American” way of living which is work till you die. haha. I suppose it also depends on who you know in your industry as well. Either way I will probably just say fuck it and do it one day! I have a calendar appointment to start planning in 2 years and then take off in 3 :)

      1. Backpacker seeking adventure*

        You just have to do it! Only live once :) My belief is that work will always be there. Still nerve wracking though!

    2. o.b.*

      Speaking as someone who hires people occasionally—I wouldn’t have any opinion other than “that’s f—ing awesome.” I’d be a little envious, even. It wouldn’t hurt your chances unless you somehow, in leaving your last job, burnt that bridge… If you have a good reference from your last job, I don’t see why this would be to your detriment.

      Emotionally difficult to get back into ‘work’ mode? Maybe.

      1. Backpacker seeking adventure*

        So good to know! Definitely wouldn’t plan on burning any bridges. Thankfully my current boss is very very well known and respected in my industry so I would like to think I could get my job back or he would help me get another one.

        1. o.b.*

          Oh, awesome! If you did find yourself searching instead of returning to your current position, and are worried about the optics of a 3 month gap on your resume, just slip a short explanation into the first few paragraphs of your cover letter somewhere.

    3. jmm*

      Have you thought about talking with your current employer about taking a sabbatical? I would wait until maybe 9 months out before your trip, but who knows – they could value you enough to let you take 3 months off, unpaid, and then come back.

      I say this because we’re in a big transition period at work, and I’ve told my boss that I need a 9-month schedule (similar to a teacher’s schedule) to better care for my kids. We work in education, so it’s not unheard of, but she has actually approved my transition to a 187-day work year, instead of the 260 days I currently work. I’m beyond excited and hope to plan some really cool trips with my kids and husband.

      1. Backpacker seeking adventure*

        Yes I’ve considered asking my boss and probably will when the time comes! I do think he will be receptive however I’m his assistant so I’m not sure what he will think. There is a plus side since him and I get along really well so I think he would let me come back if we found a good temp.

        That’s awesome your boss is letting you have a 9 month schedule!! we all need more bosses like that :)

    4. Actuarial Octagon*

      I did this! Through SE Asia for just over 3 months. When I gave notice my manager actually asked if I would be interested in returning to the company when I was back. She couldn’t technically promise me the job, but I reached out to her about 3 weeks before my return and we talked through the new position and I accepted.

      Obviously, your situation may be different, but if you like the company you work for it may be worth broaching the subject. Also, in later jobs when I explain the small gap in employment people are amazingly supportive. Best of luck!

      1. Backpacker seeking adventure*

        Sooooooo awesome!!! I hope my boss would let me come back. We will see :) Hope you had a fantastic adventure!

    5. A.N.O.N.*

      I have a good friend who took 6 months off to hike the Appalachian trail. After the hike, she was going to move to a different state, and was hoping she could return to the same/similar job in the company’s offices in that state.

      When she resigned, they told her they couldn’t promise a job in the other state. There were no hard feelings about her leaving, though.

      After the hike and the move, her company didn’t actually have any openings in that state, and she had a bit of rough time finding a new job – not because of the hiking, but because it’s just a tough job market out there, and she wasn’t really able to start the job search until after the hike.

      I think if you’re able to get a new job lined up before you go on your hike thats starts 3 months later, that’s the best option. Otherwise, be prepared to start a new job search from scratch when you finish.

    6. llamateapot*

      I did this. Not for 3 months, but close. DO NOT do this without a job offer. I thought I’d easily find a new job after I came back because I was working at a pretty big and prestigious company. But no – I ended up being unemployed for close to a year and I went to grad school instead. I don’t regret going to grad school (it gave me some of the best years of my life) but I was naive to think I could easily re-enter the workforce after my long trip.

      If you’re really looking for a break, start looking for a new job now and when you have an offer in hand, negotiate your start date. Ask to start after your big trip.

    7. AdAgencyChick*

      I think it 100% depends on your field and your level of seniority.

      I wouldn’t chance it myself, since I am fairly senior and job openings at my level don’t happen often. On the other hand, more junior copywriters can find work with a snap of the fingers, and having been out of the workforce for 3 months wouldn’t matter a bit. In fact, I know someone who quit to move to the West Coast for several months, then backpack around Europe. When he returned to the States, he had been out of work for 6 or 7 months and had no trouble finding his pick of jobs.

    8. Jessi*

      I’m going to do this in 2019! All through SE Asia. Can’t wait.

      However, I am a nanny and will have no trouble finding a new position, or temping until the right long term position pops up.

      The idea to ask for a sabbatical is a good idea. I would potentially start looking for a new position before you are back though

  40. Dr. Johnny Fever*

    So I got laid off this week and didn’t see it coming. Philosophically I get it but it doesn’t make it hurt any less.

    I did receive a generous severance. Any suggestions on how to spend my time with job searching. I haven’t hunted for a job in 20 years – all my time is with the same company. Any ideas on how to position myself?

    1. Mazzy*

      In addition to all the standard advice I’d say, and this is my pet peeve when I hire, if you’re going to be applying to jobs at the same or a lower level or appear to be at a lower level because your title may have been inflated, somehow address that in your cover letter. And highlight specific duties and accomplishments that tie into what job you’re applying for. I get so many “generalist” resumes and cover letters that I don’t know what to do with especially when the person did one year of this and five of that and three of another thing and then can’t even write one sentence explaining what they WANT to be doing. Then I don’t know if the person is applying because they are applying to everything or applying because they loved the ad

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        Sorry about your layoff. I’ve been there. Just like you, I kind of didn’t see it coming. I was laid off after almost 20 years. I would say, get your bearings. Come to terms with what happened. Then start pounding the pavement. Maybe take some courses (something I didn’t do when I was laid off, but probably should have). If you can find some volunteer work, do that–it will look good on your resume.

        1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          This is good advice. I plan to take a 2 week vacation with my newfound freedom, then begin work on materials that will be relevant later, as well as volunteer. I don’t know how long the search may take, so I talked things over with my therapist and am putting together a game plan to keep me sane.

    2. fposte*

      No advice beyond “read the archives,” but I’m sorry about your layoff, Dr. I was looking at old posts the other day and thinking of you.

  41. Generic Administrator*

    So, two months ago I started a job and since then have discovered that it has pretty much all of the hallmarks of a toxic company (nepotism, abhorrent conduct, poor to nonexistent processes for everything…), Jobs are hard to come by in my area so I’ve started to job hunt already.

    Is there anyway to honestly convey to interviews that I’m looking for a more professional work environment or should I just go with the standard “I’m interested in your opportunity” answer when applying/interviewing?

    1. Emily*

      Describing negative aspects of your current place is better done by stating positive things you are looking for. Look for reasons you are excited to work at THAT company, rather than focusing on reasons you want to leave your current one.

    2. Underpaid Bookkeeper*

      That is so hard! That is one of my biggest fears in looking for work is my current environment is awesome but I’m so good at my job I can do it in 25 hours and the pay is lower than I’d like..but I don’t want to work in a bad environment.

    3. Natalie*

      Assuming you’re leaving this job off your resume, I’d still be prepared to address it in case it comes up that you are currently working at a new job. You will need to be able to say something professional that specifically explains why you’re leaving after two months, since that’s unusual. Something like “the job isn’t a good fit” or “the job is significantly different than it was described” aren’t “badmouthing” your employer.

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        When you interview, instead of talking about the negative aspects of your current company, speak about the things you are looking for in a new job. So when asked “Why do you want to leave your current job?”, you can say because you are looking to utilize some particular skillset that isn’t being utilized in your current position. or something to that effect. But as much as you’d probably want to, don’t badmouth your current workplace.

  42. Batshua*

    I have a release date!

    My first day at my new job is August 28. I am DEFINITELY getting Rosh Hashanah off!

    And I’m going to pick up new skills and responsibilities, even if I don’t get a bump in title or pay, so my resume should look pretty awesome after I’ve been there a while.

    Now I have a few months to start figuring out what kind of GS-7 jobs I qualify for that aren’t lead clerk. (Lead clerks go to lots of horrible meetings about new policies they are powerless to change. That doesn’t sound like it’s worth the extra income to me.)

    1. Teapot Librarian*

      Baruch hashem! I was just thinking of you the other day and wondering if you had an update. I’m glad it’s a good one.

  43. Tathren*

    I’m looking for ways to tell my boss “You need to hire an IT person” when I’ve told him those exact words and he’s still trying to push major IT issues on me.

    Basically we need to overhaul our entire computer system. It’s outdated, it doesn’t work for us, it’s in danger of completely crashing on a near-daily basis… It’s pretty bad. I have what I would consider to be an “average” knowledge of computers, but which unfortunately is leaps and bounds ahead of what my boss knows. In his mind I’m the de facto IT person for the company and I absolutely not equipped for this at all. I can help him download attachments from his email, I can’t completely upgrade our entire computer system!

    I’ve told my boss this. I’ve told him “You need to hire an actual IT expert to help with this.” I’ve told him I can’t do the work because I don’t know how. I told him I have no suggestions for how to fix the current system and that he needs to hire someone to take care of this. Nothing works and my boss keeps telling me to “think of ideas and we’ll revisit this later.”

    I don’t know how to be more explicit about the fact that I cannot do what he’s asking me to do. Any suggestions for getting my boss to realize that he’s asking the impossible from me or resources I can give him to show that we need to hire an actual IT person would be greatly appreciated.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I don’t have any suggestions, but can greatly empathize with you. I was in exactly the same position several years ago and it was SO frustrating. All this IT crap was on top of my daily job, which was basically Jill-of-all-Trades. I was constantly stressed and wanted to just run away. The only difference is that our company was close to closing for a long time, so it was a matter of money, and not a boss who wouldn’t listen. If we had the money and didn’t close, we would have outsourced an overhaul.

      Actually, is it possible to have a company come in and give you a proposal to do everything that needs to be done for the upgrade, as well as pricing for ongoing support (prices, hours required, etc.)? Maybe if he sees it all in black and white he’ll get it.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      Your boss is probably thinking only of the cost of hiring someone else to do it. I suggest making him aware of the costs of NOT having someone else do it.
      * “We could spend $30,000 on the wrong system, because I have no idea what I’m doing.”
      * “Did you hear about what happened when Business X had a security breach? They had to spend a million dollars fixing that! I’m scared I don’t know enough about security to prevent something like that from happening.”

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Unfortunately, all of the stuff you’ve already told him is what I would suggest. Sounds as if he just doesn’t want to listen to reason. My worry is more that he’ll insist you do it (this thing you’re totally unqualified to do) and then blame you when things go wrong (even though you’re not an IT expert). If there is a magic bullet for this attitude, I’d love to hear it, too.

      1. Lora*

        Yeah, you’ve done what I would do. I mean, you could look for a suitable consultant and tell him, here’s my idea: call this person. Sometimes they will do that and sometimes you just wait for things to fail catastrophically and then they’ll be willing to invest the time and the effort – after they see the real risk for themselves.

        The whole “three styles of learning” thing has been disproved, and it turns out lots of people retain more information learned from experience than by didactic methods, so…yeah, people just gotta learn the hard way sometimes.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      If you were going to sway him by words alone, it would have already happened. It’s going to take consequences.

    5. Oops*

      Would it perhaps help if you researched and located an appropriate IT person / service? You might even see if you could get a free consult to get a sense of recommended steps / costs. Then you can present that to your boss “I’ve been thinking of ideas and here’s who I’ve found who I think can help us.”

      1. KR*

        This is a good idea. “I’m sorry Percival, but this is major work that I don’t know how to do and I’m not qualified to do. Here’s a quote from a company to do the work. ” Don’t even try to do it yourself and save the emails in which you tell him and he awknolages that he doesn’t want to handle his information the right way.

    6. diaphanous*

      Try to think of your self less as the project implementer and more as the project manager. Decide exactly what needs to be done (new servers? new laptops? new software? integrated phone/voicemail?). Research companies and go out for bids. Bring the proposals to your boss. He’s asking you to think of ideas, bring him ideas! Just don’t promise to do the work yourself.

      1. diaphanous*

        One idea would be to research the type of IT training/certification program you would need to do the work yourself and then work up a quote that includes those costs and timelines (in addition to the time to actually do the upgrade, and hardware/software costs). Bring that along with the bids from other vendors. Hopefully the risks, costs, and timeline associated with training you to do the work are infeasible.

        I do this kind of thing frequently in my job: scope, price, write justifications, address risks, expected payback, etc. But I rarely, if ever, do the work myself.

      2. Ashley*

        This should help. Also try to find a one or two man show that may not come up online. This works for our smallish company and my boss knows the cost is I might not get my issue fixed for a few hours but much cheaper so worth it for us.

    7. Observer*

      “We need an IT consultant for these complex projects.”

      Your boss doesn’t seem to be open to hiring another employee. But perhaps by limiting it in this way, it would help.

      Also, point out to him that he wouldn’t expect someone who has read a few legal blogs to take the place of his lawyer, so why is he expecting this in IT? Of course, if he DOES take that tack with his legal stuff, you have a bigger problem.

  44. A Person*

    Two of my co-workers have been off this week and woah. I knew some stuff was going on but WOW. I spent so much time this week knot untangling it has been ridiculous.

    My manager basically admitted he uses me as a problem solver. Especially with one of the holidaying staff, if she can’t handle something it often gets punted to me because she’s cheaper to pay. The other one just doesn’t invest time in the foundations but gets away with it because he otherwise does a functional job. I am sick and tired of both of them and some other staff because I often end up having to be *that* person and end up coming off like the bad guy because hardly anyone else does due-dilligence on the foundational stuff.

    Just. Urgh.

    I’m going to a festival this weekend. I am going to enjoy it and forget about work.

  45. Emily*

    How do you deal with coworkers who don’t care about doing their work correctly?

    I work on a team where we all cover for each other for vacations/sick days or whatever. One colleague in particular always does things incorrectly. It is annoying when he is covering and does your work incorrectly, but it is actually more frustrating, I find, when I go in to cover his work, and find loads of mistakes. Consistency is a HUGE deal in my work, and so I find I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. I either continue his (incorrect) ways, or I make corrections, but those corrections will be inconsistent with the rest of his work, because it is all done wrong.

    Taking this to my boss would mean throwing him under the bus. He is the most senior person in the group, besides my boss, so there is a good chance one day he will be my boss as well. When I gently try to ask him about “hey, why do you do this this way?” I basically get the answer “because I don’t give a ***t”

    Any advice? I am at my wits end with this guy. My other coworkers have also mentioned the same issues with him, although very diplomatically as we are not a gossipy kind of group.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Stop caring about whether he likes the way you cover HIS work. He doesn’t care whether you like how he covers yours!

      1. neverjaunty*

        Exactly. And it is NOT “throwing him under the bus” to point out to your boss that he is 1) doing poor work 2) that you have to fix 3) because he doesn’t care.

        “Throwing him under the bus” would be, both of you screwed up and you dumped the blame on him to protect yourself.

        I assure you if the situation were reversed he wouldn’t spend a second hesitating to complaint to the boss.

      2. Emily*

        That is a good point! Except that it isn’t really so much that I care how he feels, but that while it is wrong to do the work X way that he is doing it, it is ALSO wrong to change how something is being done. If I do it the right way one time, all of the rest of his work is not going to match, because he won’t change how he does it, and not having consistency is a big no-no.

        But you’re right that maybe I shouldn’t worry about it so much. Clearly he is not worried about it.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Then maybe that’s a decision your boss needs to make. “I can do this the way Fergus already does it, or I can do it the way I’ve been told to do it, but it won’t be consistent. Which do you prefer?”

          1. Zathras*

            This is also a good way to inform your boss about what Fergus is doing without feeling like you’re going out of your way to get him in trouble.

    2. A Person*

      I agree with the above. Go to your boss, because this guy will almost certainly get worse if he gets promoted.

      That said, what has worked for me is making a checklist of what I expect, which usually gets something reasonably close to what I would have done (more than either telling them/leaving notes does) and generally doesn’t require a lot of fixing when it gets back to me. It is though dependent on having the time and willingness to invest in making this stuff and probably wouldn’t work on your guy- but it might give you a trail you could present to your boss.

    3. kbeers0su*

      Oh, I would absolutely go to the boss. Especially if you think there is some possibility that this person may become your boss in the future- do you really want to be in that situation??

    4. Temporarily Anonymous*

      Hi Emily, I have no advice but I can commiserate! Just this week I had to give direction to a coworker who was covering my usual duties while I was working on another temporary assignment. They asked how to do a particular task that had recently changed its process (we had been specifically ordered by mgmt to do it the new way). I explained the new way and they said oh they don’t know how to do that* so they’ll just do it the old wrong way and see what happens. Cue head-desk banging.

      *Admittedly the new process sucks and makes a two step process into a more wasteful four step process but that wasn’t the reason; my coworker just didn’t want to have to learn anything new. And my boss is also extremely conflict averse so I have no recourse that I can think of when they underperform *while representing me*. Btw it was a basic office skill that they didn’t know that involved equipment that has existed since the late 90s/early 2000s.

      I’ll be watching the responses to see what advice you get!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        If someone insists on doing it the wrong way, sometimes I can say, “Then leave it for me to do. If you do it that way then it will have to be redone later. So just leave it and I will do it.” This does not fit all situations though.

        Other times I have found in roads with “If you do it X way then Y will happen.” This works if Y is a big deal or a scary deal.

  46. Does your lunch stink?*

    My company has adopted a flexible workplace floor plan (drop in space, state of the art technology, standing desks, cafe etc.) and it is really futuristic. The issue (for some) is that some of the employees consume traditionally ethnic food and the aroma at lunch is bothersome to many. I can’t smell it for some reason or it just doesn’t bother me but folks are really starting to grumble. I understand that at lunch, it is REALLY bad so much so that I have overheard people discussing options for making formal complaints.

    What are your thoughts on this situation? My thought is maybe requiring them to eat in the designated cafe seating area vs their desk. Issue is, folks would complain that they have stunk up that area too.

    What do we do?

    1. special snowflake*

      Tell the complainers to get over it.
      That’s a bit glib but to be honest it’s what needs to be said. If someone has a medical reason they can’t be around a specific smell (which I find hard to believe but I’m not an MD) then ban that specific item.
      But otherwise tell the complainers that they may not mean to sound xenophobic and mean but that is how they are behaving. Unless the office plans to dictate that everyone can eat garden salad with no dressing or pbj for lunch someone will always be upset. Food has scents – that’s life

    2. LCL*

      There is an eating area, with adequate microwave and fridge? Time for a no eating at the desk rule. Yes, that includes the people who have to eat lightly all day. They can go to the kitchen to eat their stringcheese and almonds.

    3. KR*

      Can a fan be turned on and a window be opened during lunch? You don’t even have to mention the traditional food it could be under the pretext of “there are a lot of food smells flying around during lunch so let’s get some fresh air in here when everyone is eating”. I mean, for all we know the traditional food eaters are bothered by the smell of the not traditional food.

    4. Over educated*

      Places are just going to get stunk up, especially in buildings where you can’t open windows and turn on fans because it’s all hermetically sealed and air conditioned. I don’t know if your cafe has space for everyone or BYO facilities like a microwave, or if it’s more of a “buy food here” counter type place, but whether you can make everyone eat there depends on those questions. If there isn’t a space to go eat food, then…yeah, smells are gonna happen.

      My office is moving to a temporary space where there is nowhere near enough space in the kitchen for more than a couple people to eat, and where we’re all in cubicles in one big semi-open office. There’s going to be a lot of eating at desks, which I personally hate, and nowhere close by to go out. I eat a lot of reheated Indian food, and I know from previous threads here that a lot of people consider that a particularly smelly “traditional cuisine”…but I’m certainly not going to stop cooking what I prefer to eat *at home* or expand my grocery budget and the time I spend on food prep to bring cold food because we have to eat at our desks to save the company money. There are limits to what you can ask of people. Asking their food not to smell when they otherwise have no control over the environment is kind of around that limit.

    5. Observer*

      If you have a decent eating place with adequate space and people are not de facto penalized for leaving their desk for lunch, you can mandate that anything that can be smelled more than x feet away (stay away from whether something smells bad!) should be eaten in the cafe area. And if anyone complains about the smell in the cafe, tell them to cut it out.

    6. Djuna*

      We have a no hot food at desks policy that works pretty well. The logic was that smells from hot food linger for longer. If your meal/snack isn’t hot, you can eat at your desk. If it’s hot, eat it in the cafeteria.

      Because the rule is easy to remember (and was enforced when it was introduced, is covered in onboarding, etc.), everyone follows it.

      If people want to complain of the cafeteria smelling of food…well, that can happen too (fish in the microwave, etc.), but at least it’s confined to that space. If the aroma bleeds out into common work areas, then maybe your company needs to look into installing extractor fans to help prevent that.

    7. Candy*

      I think management should require food be eaten in a designated area. It’s the best solution for all kinds of reasons (smells, mice, cleaning, etc)

      I have a coworker who eats microwave meals every day that are just pasta or something similar and they still stink. I don’t know what you mean by ethnic foods, but there are a lot of everyday “non-ethnic” meals that smell too so it would be best to contain all food to one area where food smells are to be expected.

  47. Frustrated Wife*

    My husband has been out of work for over a year. He’s only had 1 job in his entire life (he’s late 30s). He worked at the front desk of his families hotel. His family sold the hotel last year.

    He is so scared of getting a job he hasn’t made much progress. He even went as far as telling me how when you work for someone that isn’t family you have to save every nickel and dime you make and not spend money b/c you could get fired at any time. I told him that 90% of people work for other peoples for YEARS and never have any issues.

    Like money isn’t really the issue here it’s the fact that he has no self confidence and thinks he’s going to fail/get fired from a job before he even starts. And I work all day and when I come home he always wants to do something and doesn’t understand why I am tired and want to do nothing.

    I just don’t know what to do anymore or how to encourage him to get out of the house and feel somewhat productive. We live in a small town so jobs are harder to find to begin with as I’m looking for a new job too and there’s not much out there. I’m trying to be patient with him but it’s getting harder and harder. :(

    1. Summerisle*

      It must be hard for him to be looking for a new position when he’s only ever known one, and only ever worked for family – especially since he’s picked up some negative ideas about all non-family employers being very unstable etc.
      Does he have any connections who could put him forward for roles? He might feel more secure going for jobs where a friend/relative works already, so he knows he’s not walking into something completely blind.

      1. Frustrated Wife*

        Yeah that is probably the best scenario. I will have him reach out to people he knows maybe they can help him out.

    2. Batshua*

      Could he go with a mix of volunteer work (to show he’s doing something) and getting some therapy? It sounds like he has enough concerns that his fear needs to be handled before he can really think about getting a job, but if he was volunteering, he’d at least be doing something so that when folks interview him, he can say he was doing stuff.

    3. neverjaunty*

      This is not a work problem, this is a husband problem. It sounds like he may have anxiety and admiring issues he needs to work on with a good therapist, and he definitely needs to pull his head out of his butt about his failure to understand “I am tired because I worked all day”.

      1. CR*


        He needs to get over himself and get some help. Not working for a YEAR is childish and unacceptable.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I would caution that being unemployed while actively looking for a job for a year (esp. in a recession) is not childish or unacceptable – but not looking for a job at all might be.

          1. CR*

            I’ve been out of work before – I agree that’s not childish. Childish is being a married man in his late 30s who is too scared to look for work, or work for someone who’s not mom and dad.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Seriously. It could be that he is immature. It could also be that he has genuine issues that can be resolved with professional help.

    4. Delphine*

      Therapy! This is something he needs to talk about with a professional, and soon. His anxiety is real, but he’s anxious about things that you can’t predict or change, and getting hung up on them to the point of paralysis isn’t helpful. Working through that anxiety is step one, and it’ll hopefully allow him to get past these hold ups and start searching.

    5. Alice*

      You know when you really have to save every nickel and dime?

      When you’re not working at all.

      OK, seriously, this sounds like a complex issue — not a lot of local opportunities, experience that may or may not translate well, and maybe anxiety as other have suggested. I will keep my fingers crossed for you.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OP, you can say that in the unusual case that an employer does lay him off then he will just go look for another job. That is what all of us are doing.
        Maybe you can get him a copy of Alison’s book and/or encourage him to read here.

    6. Princess Carolyn*

      Oof, that’s tough. My husband has also had some unemployment issues in the past and has really low confidence. It’s not exactly the same situation, but I’ve definitely had those days where I come home exhausted from work and have no patience for him being afraid to try.

      Is counseling at option for y’all? His anxiety surrounding work may not be something he can solve without professional help. I might also suggest trying to get him to take some baby steps toward employment, if that’s possible. Can he work the front desk at a different hotel? Can he work part-time?

    7. Natalie*

      I agree this sounds like he is struggling at a level that is above your pay grade. If counseling is an option for him that would be the best.

      I have a couple of thoughts/questions for you, from a similar position (my husband is not “career oriented” and is currently not working. He probably won’t be working full time again until next summer due to some health & school stuff.)

      The first thing I would do is check in with yourself, and be realistic. How do you feel about this, generally? Aside from the logistics (money, chores) does it bother you on some fundamental level that he doesn’t have a job, or could you be okay with a SAH spouse? How many more months or years do you think you can stand things if they stay exactly the way they are now? Can you communicate these thoughts to your spouse and have a reasonable exchange of feelings or does he shut down or get defensive? Is there someone outside of your marriage that you can talk to about this, that’s good at being a sympathetic ear without gossiping or dictating to you what to do? (At some points during my husband’s struggles with his career I was spiraling about the possible outcomes, but he wasn’t a good audience for those feelings unless I wanted him to be even more anxious. That’s not to say I never told him, just that we had one conversation where I expressed some fears and then if they cropped up later I vented them to someone else.)

      Secondly, if you two haven’t done this already you should figure out how to make things easier assuming this will be a long term situation. IMO that means he needs to be taking on the bulk of household tasks if he isn’t already, and probably the bulk of whatever “belt tightening” labor needs to be done. I am a big fan of something I read on Captain Awkward about each partner getting a roughly equal amount of leisure time, because it takes all the various adult responsibilities into account, not just paying work. Also, you can’t be his sole outlet for his social energy. He needs to cultivate some relationships with other people so that when you’ve had a long day, he can call up Joe and do something with Joe instead.

    8. Observer*

      I’d say: Therapy for him, couples counseling for you and he takes over all house-keeping.

      His fear of getting a job is not due to not having worked a “normal” job. Let’s face it, he knows plenty of people who have NOT been fired from every job they’ve had with no warning. In fact, from what you say, you are one of those people! So, something else is going on, and a therapist is probably the best person to help him tackle this.

      You’re describing an fairly significant disconnect between the two of you. A good counselor could help you get a bit closer to the same page.

      Marriage is a partnership. When both of you are engaged in income generation for your family, then you also share the household work. But when one person is handling the entire burden of income, the other one should handle the household stuff, unless there is a specific reason not to.

    9. Nanook of the North*

      I’m sorry; that sounds miserable for both of you.

      Have the two of you sat down to talk about managing your budget (if he believes that “you have to save every nickel and dime you make and not spend money because you could get fired at any time” is helping you save every nickel and dime you make for the two of you?), and longer range the ramifications for you as a team if he doesn’t work? Is he managing the household while he’s not working – cleaning, groceries, meals, laundry, yard, etc etc? And, is getting fired worse than not working at all?

      Has he gone back to the hotel to see if they’re hiring? He knows the facility well, now that the new owners have had time to establish themselves they might be thrilled to have someone in who has a history there. Small towns are tough, and that’s an existing connection if he can be willing.

      Is there a volunteer organization in easy reach that you both support where you could volunteer together once or twice a month? It would be a way to get him out and feeling useful, and might provide a bridge for him to be willing to help there more often than you could be there too. He might meet more people, and lean on you a bit less for his social time, too.

      Would couples counseling be helpful? I’m guessing he thinks his fear is normal, so not something to take to individual therapy, but this is clearly impacting your relationship. Maybe look at plans as if he doesn’t change (doesn’t work, stays afraid, is frustrated that you’re not fresh and ready to play after a full day’s work, etc) and suggest some conversations about moving into your future together with an outside party.

      Good luck to both of you.

    10. Detective Amy Santiago*

      See if you can convince him to sign up with some temp agencies. It might be easier for him to get used to working for non-family in shorter assignments that have a clear start and end date.

  48. annamouse*

    I got in an argument with a friend yesterday about whether using the question: “which order do you wash your hair and body when you shower” as a way to test someone’s ability to gauge order of operations stuff in a job interview was a good idea. I found myself getting increasingly pissed off that he (a man in tech) didn’t see this as potentially fraught, embarrassing, and icky until I was nearly blue in the face from explaining. He eventually apologized and said he got it. Do you think this is as potentially gross as I do, or am I just super sensitive because of so much other sexist, ableist garbage lately?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I don’t even get how it relates to order of operations, since it has absolutely nothing to do with tech. I would think a tech-related question would be the way to go. I don’t see it as icky, just stupid.

    2. JaneB*

      Yup, I agree with you that this is a really dodgy question – so much potential to upset, offend or just squick out a candidate…

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      Huh, what? This is an actual interview question? Even if it weren’t inappropriate, what useful information does it give you?!

      1. annamouse*

        i’m pretty sure he hadn’t used it yet, and won’t be using it, but he said it’s a way to judge how people think about what things need to come before others and why. I can even see it, like you won’t use conditioner before shampoo or whatnot. It just seemed like a dangerously bad thing to ask when there’s so many non-fraught ways to get at the same thing.

        1. Sadsack*

          It is just a stupid question and it’s going to have interviewees wondering what is up with this guy and your company. If he wants to ask questions like that they should relate to the actual work.

        2. Observer*

          He’s trying too hard to be cutesy and indirect. It’s a dumb and inappropriate question, quite aside from any possible sexism (or other ism.)

          The reality is that a question would never get him what he wants. I mean if I wash my hair first, then my toes then the rest of my body, what does that tell you? If it don’t mention my toes what does that tell you? If I wash my body first and then my hair what does that tell you? The answer to all three questions is absolutely NOTHING. Because in none of these cases does it make a difference to the over all issue (which is getting clean).

          The ONLY way that you are going to learn anything about “order of operations” in such a scenario is if you insist that people go to a gross level of detail. And even then, you might get more information about people’s hygiene than anyone wants and STILL not find out anything. I mean if I give you a break down that I wet my hair, then pour some shampoo, lather it up, rinse it out then put on conditioner, what are you going to find out? That I use conditioner and that I probably have the level of sequencing ability of a 5 year old who has taken a reasonable number of baths in their life. Again, that’s just not useful.

          You might want to point out to him that he’s likely to turn off good candidates who have other options. I mean, if someone asked me a question like that in an interview, I’d avoid that job unless I had no good options.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Putting TWO tasks into correct order is not particularly challenging because, uh, it’s just the two tasks.

            Now if it were ten tasks OR several emergencies running concurrently then that might be a more interesting question.

            Maybe your best counterpoint would be if he asks the question the applicant may think he is not very bright and they might get up and leave in the middle of the interview.

            As a woman, I would tell a male interviewer, “I am not going to discuss my hygiene habits with a stranger. However, I will give an example of how I would instruct a small child in learning how to bathe.” And grin to myself as I talk to him like he is a small child.

            1. annamouse*


              I am pretty sure my friend was just “thinking aloud” and would not have used the question, but it bugged me that it didn’t occur to him how uncomfortable asking about showering/hygiene could be given the power imbalance in a job interview.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I am with you on this.
                Boy, I really hope he did not really think using it was a good idea.

    4. CR*

      I have to admit I’m curious about the answer even though it’s ridiculous (I wash body last to remove any shampoo/conditioner residue that can cause bacne).

    5. MechanicalPencil*

      At that point, I would not respond well in the interview and have no interest in working for the company. If you want to know order of operations, find a different question that’s actually related to the field.

    6. FDCA In Canada*

      What a pointless question on top of the inappropriate nature. Maybe they wash their hair first and then their body to wash off conditioner residue. Maybe they wash their body first and then their hair to give themselves time to rinse off the soap. Maybe they don’t shower at all, but exclusively take baths. I cannot imagine an interview where it would be appropriate to start discussing this!

    7. Becky*

      I am with you on this being on the inappropriate side and if the goal is to test people’s ability to gauge order of operations it isn’t a terribly good question. (There is no One Right Way to bathe…)

      Maybe prompt him with some other options for more appropriate questions that work better to achieve the goal?

      I don’t know, ask people how they make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and why they do it in that order or that way.

    8. Emily*

      If someone asked me this in an interview I would run screaming from that workplace. SO icky.

      You do not talk about things you do when you are naked in a job interview!

    9. Merida Ann*

      Whaaaat? That is so creepy! And such a useless and bizarre question, anyway! Even if it wasn’t about showering – let’s say he was asking whether you put your left or right shoe on first instead – what’s the “correct” answer? Does he just want them to *have* an answer without thinking about it? It’s not like he would know if they “messed up” and said right when they really put their left on first.

      But, yes, this is a majorly creepy thing to ask about. Nothing during an interview should be making you think about being undressed and in the shower. Nothing. What the heck?

      1. Argh!*

        You can ask a person the order of tasks involved in driving a car. That would give insight about whether they can order tasks, but won’t have a creepiness factor.

        In fact, there are probably a million questions better than that one! Yech!

        1. Nea*

          Or setting up a form of travel. Travel is great for order of priority, and you might get a little insight into the person’s character (what travel they like to do) without anyone going near the idea of “so tell me, little girl, what you do when you’re undressed and alone.”

    10. Argh!*

      This is a creepy question. Anything involving bodies is creepy. Some people just won’t or can’t understand another person’s point of view if it isn’t identical to their own. Just say “It’s wrong to talk about bodies in a work environment. Period.”

    11. SQL Coder Cat*

      No, this is totally inappropriate. Any discussion of activities where you would be naked, even in a non-sexual activity, have no place in the workplace- or worse, in an interview, where the person might feel they have to answer despite the inappropriateness!

    12. Emi.*

      I think it’s weird and rude, but I don’t think it’s as bad as all that. How is it sexist or ableist? If they were asking it to women in a “haha let’s think about you naked” way, that would be gross, but it doesn’t sound like they are. This does not rise above the level of “very uncomfortable” to me.

      1. Nea*

        There’s absolutely no way for a woman to hear that question and not also hear “haha let’s think about you naked.” Or for her to be waiting for it to be followed up with “It was just a joke!”

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I’m a woman and I didn’t hear that at all. I don’t think it’s a good question, but I don’t feel or understand the disgust.

        2. Woman*

          I’m a woman and if an interviewer asked me that question, I’d think he’s just trying to visualize me showering for his own sexual fantasies.

      2. Observer*

        I don’t especially think it’s sexist either. But it’s SUPER weird, completely rude and has a major creepiness factor because it crosses the line of private space – and gaslights into the bargain. I mean claiming that this is really a WORK question that’s better at getting at work related information than the million other questions you could ask it just mind boggling.

      3. Margali*

        Dumb question, and totally inappropriate for anyone to ask a candidate. If I didn’t walk right out of the interview, I would definitely withdraw myself from consideration afterward. No way do I want to work for someone who lets me know they are thinking about me in the shower.

      4. LCL*

        It will come across as pervy, even if that is not the intent. I am a woman who ignores a lot of stuff and frequently thinks people are being too sensitive and has said so. This question wouldn’t frighten me, but I would think the questioner was a POS and it would probably derail the interview.

      5. annamouse*

        It’s ableist because what if the person doesn’t have hair (or is wearing a wig because of chemo or allopecia), what if they shower weirdly because of a hidden health problem (like a stoma), stuff like that shouldn’t be a part of a job interview.

    13. Nea*

      No, it’s gross. If I was asked that out of the blue, especially by a guy, my automatic answer would be “I am not going to answer a question about what I do when I’m naked. I must have massively misread the job description if this has anything to do with the work.”

      There was a time once when my credit card was trying to offer a new feature, but they had to offer it only to adults. Couldn’t tell you how many conversations started and ended with “Are you 18?” “That is massively creepy and I am not going to talk to anyone who starts a conversation that way.” *hangup* One of them finally went off script and started with “I am calling from [company] and…” and I told him to give an earful to the people who didn’t write the sales script to start that way.

    14. Anonymous Poster*

      I don’t understand what useful information that could get you about ordering operations in an operational environment.

      Why don’t you just present a scenario you all encounter on a somewhat regular basis and have the candidate talk you through that? It gives you good, directly applicable information instead of some weird tea-reading time where you can over analyze why does this candidate wash their hair first, is it because of silly reason 1, 2, or 3…

    15. Nanook of the North*

      One does not discuss one’s body parts, especially “private parts” at work. Full stop.
      You are not being super sensitive.

    16. HannahS*

      That is disgustingly creepy. If I was in an interview and a man asked my that I’d be 100% sure that he was a total creep trying to picture me naked. I’m just…it’s just unbelievable.

      Also, on a less this-is-so-sexist-wtf note, the order depends on your hair type, your skin type, what kinds of products you use, and your washing methods. What kind of expert does he think he is, that he knows how a person should wash their hair?

    17. LCL*

      God, I missed the most important point of your post. You kept after him until he actually got it and apologized. Way to go!

  49. Cruciatus*

    My large employer is switching from Highmark Blue Shield to Aetna and CVS Caremark. I’ve always had Highmark insurance so I don’t really know anything different but so far has seemed fine for me. Does anyone have only delightful things to say about Aetna or CVS Caremark? I’m hoping this change won’t be a big deal but am interested in anyone’s stories (good or bad) about using Aetna or differences you’ve experienced if your employer switched from one to the other.

    1. Batshua*

      CVS Caremark handles my medication (I have FEP Blue for insurance), and it’s pretty good! Mail order meds are $15 for the cheap ones and $80 for the expensive ones (90 day supplies). For anything REALLY cheap (generic thyroid hormone, for example), I go to my local pharmacy instead and it gets covered by FEP Blue for usually less than $1. I’ve never had Aetna, so I can’t say anything about them.

    2. CM*

      We had Aetna, now we have Blue Cross Blue Shield, I have noticed very little difference other than copay amounts and slightly different things being covered on each plan.

    3. fposte*

      I’m too new to Aetna to comment, but I’ve had *excellent* experiences with Caremark. Not in, like, talking to them, because I’ve never had to, but wow, do they cover my prescriptions.

      1. fposte*

        It sounds like I may have a different arrangement than Batshua upthread–I always go to my local pharmacy, but it’s Caremark, not Aetna, that covers my prescriptions there.

  50. Manders*

    Question: when is is appropriate to volunteer a skill you’ve developed professionally to help out a club you’re a part of?

    I’ve been practicing with a karate club that meets at a community center. The guy who runs it has mentioned several times that the club used to be a lot larger, and he’s disappointed that so few people are interested in karate now. I’m pretty sure I know the reason behind the drop-off in new members, though: the club has no web presence at all, and the community center that runs it hasn’t really made any effort at all to make sure it shows up on “karate in City” web searches. I only heard about it because my partner knew the local parks & rec website well enough to go searching through their very badly-made page to find class information.

    When would it be appropriate to offer to make the class a webpage, add it to Google Maps, etc? It really wouldn’t take much time at all, and I wouldn’t want money in exchange, but I definitely should get permission before going ahead.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Any time is fine, probably. I think I’d only been part of my martial arts club for a couple weeks when I ended up running our online marketing. It started with a simple Craigslist ad (which still pulls most of our new members) and moved on to flyers and stuff. We do a lot of volunteering as well, doing demos for local community events and stuff. Something to consider. Especially since doing stuff in front of a crowd is good experience for students.

      I mean yeah, ask first. Maybe the dude running it will want to look at stuff before it goes live. But it’s not like I had any particular training to do this stuff so I don’t see why you couldn’t at least offer your real skills.

      1. Manders*

        Thanks! Some of what I would do involves setting up accounts for a website and Google properties that would be tied to an email address, so I’d want to make sure the sensei not only knows what’s going on but has access to everything that belongs to the club. I’ll suggest it the next time he brings up the decline in membership.

        The neighborhood it’s in isn’t very flyer-friendly, but Craigslist is a good idea. Demos might be harder to put together but I’ll see what I can suggest.

        1. Amber Rose*

          Demos are hard to put together. We plan them a year in advance. Bringing stuff like that up would definitely be a long term planning kind of suggestion, if your sensei is open to that kind of thing. Craigslist and simple website are a good, easy start. :D

          Also, does karate have a governing organization? Our club is sort of part of the Canadian Kendo Federation (we’re almost but not quite entirely unlike kendo), and they send out emails and stuff on our behalf letting people around the country know when we have events, and we’re listed on their website.

          1. Manders*

            Oh hey, I used to do kendo! If you’re from BC, we might have some acquaintances in common–I was in the PNW federation and met some Canadians at tournaments.

            There are various karate federations, but this is an unusual Okinawan style and I’m pretty sure that most of the high-ranking folks aren’t in America. I’m used to having everything controlled by a board like the local kendo federation, everything is so much more laid back in this club that I’m unsure about etiquette.

            1. Amber Rose*

              I’m an Albertan. We don’t do kendo, but two of the 5-ish arts we do are governed by the CKF. Which is why I asked about organizations, since even though we don’t really have anything to do with kendo and almost nobody practices our arts, the CKF still kind of runs things.

              We have relatively close ties with local aikido and western sword art clubs, and numbers are down all over. Probably due partly to the economy. We’d tossed around the idea of organizing our own martial arts convention of sorts for all the different groups, but the effort involved is sort of intimidating.

              1. Manders*

                I was just talking about this with my husband, actually–we both started doing kendo around the time it was having something of a moment in American and Japanese TV and movies, and I think a lot of sword arts are suffering from the fact that media attention has died down.

                MMA is also totally dominating the market now–those clubs are often actual businesses, so they have way more time and money to throw at marketing. My city even started taxing all martial arts-related businesses at a higher rate, even the really obscure ones like historical fencing groups, just to make more money off of MMA.

                I work in marketing, so this has been on my mind lately. My friends who still do kendo have been working hard to keep clubs running at local colleges and community centers, but you’re right, numbers are down all over the place.

    2. volunteer coordinator in NoVA*

      I think if he mentions it again, it’s a good time to offer wanting to volunteer to help. I would recommend sitting down with him, offering up some solutions that you’ve thought of and figuring out what makes the most sense. He may not feel comfortable with certain platforms so it’s good to make sure you are both on the same page. I would be mindful of how much time you want to invest upfront and then for maintenance and communicate that so you don’t feel taken advantage of and he feels like he’s getting his needs met. You’ll also want to make sure to have a way to track all the things you set up as there is nothing worse than having to try and figure out original emails and passwords when a volunteer leaves.

      1. Manders*

        Good idea. I was going to suggest WordPress since it’s cheap and it’s what I’m used to, but I know a lot of people find it frustrating. I’m also hoping to be practicing for a while, but there’s a chance I might leave the country for a year or two in the future, so I definitely want to make sure I’m not setting up a page that will end up inaccessible with the wrong information on it.

  51. Allypopx*

    I gave my notice! It’s a long notice period, but I’m leaving in December so I can start school full time in the spring. My boss took it really well and he’s excited for me. I’m telling my reports and some choice colleagues today, as the transition will be in the planning stages soon.

    I’m relieved/excited/terrified. I’ve been here five years. I feel like so many possibilities are open to me now.

  52. TV Researcher*

    I originally wrote this for an open thread a few weeks ago, and though it was posted rather late in the day, I got some good advice. Unfortunately, I’m still finding work rather difficult so I’m reposting with some edits for more good advice. I hope that’s okay.

    This has been an incredibly difficult few weeks at work. One of my co-workers/legit outside of work friend passed away last month at the way too early age of 35. She’d been fighting cancer for two years and while her prognosis was never good, her passing happened quite suddenly.

    To make matters slightly worse, I’m also battling cancer, though I have a much more positive prognosis. After going on leave for 5 weeks after major surgery, I’m now in treatment which for me means chemo week (where I work from home aside from chemo day) and then I’m back in the office for two weeks before chemo week happens again (though at slightly shorter hours – think 9-4:30/5 instead of 8:30-6 (or often times 7). And interspersed with that is radiation, though that generally just means that I miss a few hours in the morning. This will be my life until mid-October.

    My problem is that even on my better days, concentrating on work was incredibly difficult and since my friend’s passing, it’s even more difficult (her now empty office is across from mine). And I’m not sure how to fix it, aside from time. But, in the meantime, work still has to get done. The other issue is that at 4pm, it’s like a fog comes down over me and makes cognitive thinking more difficult, so everything takes more time. Again, not anyone’s fault, it is what it is.

    I should also add that work has been great in letting me a) work from home (something that’s generally frowned upon) during chemo weeks and b) work those slightly modified hours, though those hours seem to be stretching themselves, so most of this week I’ve been leaving after 7pm, which is not supposed to happen. And it’s not just me who is working a lot, as the department is stretched rather thin, but I’m the only one who has to deal with the constant exhaustion, which is not my office’s fault, but still a fact of life.

    1. fposte*

      Wow, that is a tough patch; I’m sorry for your loss. I don’t think this is a situation where there’s something to fix–it’s about accepting that you won’t do be able to do what you want to at work and that’s okay.

    2. Soupspoon McGee*

      If you can, ask for reduced hours, say 30/week instead of 40, or whatever you can manage. If you’re in the US, FMLA and your state’s version of MLA may apply, so your doctor can certify the maximum workload allowable for you.

      Keep in mind that if your department is stretched thin, it’s a workload issue. It’s not YOUR fault that there isn’t enough coverage, and it’s not your responsibility to wear yourself out trying to fix it. Take care of yourself so you can heal and do the best job you can in a reasonable amount of time.

    3. Fact & Fiction*

      First, please be gentle with yourself. Both from a grief standpoint and a your-body-is-in-warrior-mode-to-kick-cancer’s-ass standpoint. This means you should engage in a lot of self-care and you may need to employ some strategies you normally wouldn’t to make the most of your time at work. I second taking full advantage of any FMLA or ADA accommodations you require. If your office is undestsffed, that is not your problem and they need to get it together. You probably need extra rest right now so make sure they let you get it. Staying till 7 on a regular basis right now seems unacceptable to me.

      Use checklists and task lists if you don’t already. Try breaking larger tasks up into small groups of tasks and rewarding yourself with a short break each time you complete a group. Do not hesitate to ask friends/family to help make your life easier with non-work things when possible. Think how much you would be willing to help others if roles were reversed and don’t feel guilty!

      My family lost several close relatives each year for several years so I know how tough it can be to function at work during such times. Do take care of yourself! You deserve as much time to grieve and heal as you need, so don’t feel bad if you have to let some things in your life slide for a bit.

      Oh! One more tip. Schedule your more difficult tasks for earlier in the day and reserve easier items you can autopilot through for when your brain fog kicks in. Best wishes!

  53. Amber Rose*

    Construction to move all the doors three feet left has completed (and screwed me up, I keep walking into door frames). Now they want to pull the cubes out and rotate them, which I’m all for, but the walls are not that easy to move and I’d have to disconnect my computer and everything while this is being done. Probably a day to a day and a half of work. I’m not sure what I will be able to do in that time. I’d offer to help but my boss doesn’t even let me carry light boxes around without a cart. What do office workers do without any office stuff to work with?

    As a silly aside, I was nervous about coming back to work this week because I dyed my hair violet, but aside from one comment on how I look good with purple hair, nobody has even seemed to notice. Hint hint nudge nudge to all the workplaces that don’t allow alternative hair colors.

    1. Annie Moose*

      Aw man, I love purple hair. At OldJob, which was significantly more uptight than NewJob, my grandboss dyed her hair dark brown with a purple tinge to it, so you could really only see the purple when the light caught it right. She looked so fabulous! I wish I was anywhere near brave enough to do it, although my mother would have a heart attack and die if she saw me. :P

      1. Amber Rose*

        It’s only temporary anyway. I was told it would last five or so washes, so a week or two at most. It’s fun to look a little different.

    2. MechanicalPencil*

      It’s amazing how much you get used to where something has Always Been. Until it isn’t. And I have no idea what to suggest — can you set up in a conference room temporarily?

      I SO want to change my hair color to something alternative. But everyone here is quite conservative. I’m tempted to regardless, consequences being whatever they are. I’m generally hiding in my cube anyway.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I might be able to scrounge up an old laptop and take over the training room for a bit. But I’d be losing most of my programs. *sigh*

        I mean, it doesn’t hurt to ask about the hair thing. My husband works for the government at a hospital (super conservative environment), and when he asked if he could dye his hair blue he was told it was fine. Worse comes to worse, Head and Shoulders strips dye right out of hair like whoah.

        1. kitryan*

          That’s good to know about Head and Shoulders. My hair’s the longest it’s been for a while now, so I bleached most of the bottom 4 inches and overdyed it bright (non natural) red (the rest is still dark brown). The goal was to have the color kind of thread through the middle third and then dominate the lower third of the hair.
          If I twist it up in a clip then the red bit is mostly hidden, so I did that for the first few days to kind of dip my toes in the water.
          I didn’t know how it would go over, but one of the senior folks has a blue underlayer of hair and I figured I’d just cut most of the dyed section off if it turned out to be a problem, since I’m going to cut off at least 3 inches this year at some point.
          But no one’s given me any grief about it yet- and I love it! It makes me feel like a college kid again.
          Biggest surprise was that my parents kind of liked it!

  54. ScoutFinch*

    I live and work in a state that has no state income tax.

    If I were to take a job working remotely for an organization that operates solely in a state (probably NC) that DOES have a state income tax, will I be paying state income tax?

    TIA for any feedback. I know it may not be a simple answer.

    1. Emi.*

      I was a State A resident and earned money while I was at school in State B, and I had to pay taxes in both states (although A subtracted the amount I’d paid B from the amount I owed them). But I think it depends on the individual states.

    2. Joshua*

      I would talk with a tax professional about the particular job and state before accepting any job if you’re concerned about income taxes. But, if you search on Google for “non resident tax North Carolina” you can find that North Carolina considers anyone residing in another state and earning income from North Carolina sources a “nonresident,” and that nonresidents are subject to tax on any income earned from North Carolina sources.

      I’m not an expert though, so I would recommend talking with one.

      1. KR*

        Massachusetts does a similar thing, father in law lives in NH but works in MA. He has to pay MA taxes on his income.

    3. Otter box*

      I said this in an earlier thread too, but basically it varies. I don’t know about NC, but if you live in WA (no income tax) and work in OR (yes income tax), you pay OR taxes despite being a non-resident.

  55. sheila*

    So I just wanted to say… I read a comment here a few days ago that suggested squeezing your butt as hard as possible as a way to stop oncoming tears at work. I’m not going into details as to why, but I just had an opportunity to try it out and holy crap, it worked!

    My other go-to is to look up with your eyes towards the ceiling and rapidly blink. Anyone else have tricks?

    1. k.k*

      I’m an easy crier. Rapid blinking is my best way to stop the tears, and then the old “there’s something in my eye” trick works great to cover for any that made their way out. Works well together because if someone noticed you blinking a lot it gives a reason.

    2. CR*

      I will absolutely try this. I cry easily especially when I’m frustrated which is happening a lot at work lately, and is really embarrassing.

    3. FDCA In Canada*

      Mental math works. Going through the times tables or trying to multiply two large numbers together or long divide them will distract your brain enough to relax for a minute and stop the tears.

    4. Amber Rose*

      YMMV, but tuck your thumb into your palm and squeeze. I use to control nausea mostly, but it actually works with any strong desire my body has to do something.

      I also picture kittens in my head. I find if I think of something funny or cute, the urge to cry fades a lot. Which is good, because I’m a faucet. The waterworks go on for every little thing with me.

    5. Delphine*

      This is a weird question, but as an easy crier…do you mean pinching your own butt, or clenching?

      1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

        I had the same question, but I’m going to assume clenching the muscles rather than grabbing your cheeks and pinching (which, for comedic visual sake, might stop tears right there!).

      2. Gwen Stefani-Shelton*

        I thought the same thing – “How can you squeeze your butt without anyone noticing??” Clenching it makes a lot more sense.

    6. jmm*

      Sipping a drink. I had to interact with someone I care about for the last time recently, was feeling super emotional, and this worked like a charm.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Squishing my big toe down REALLY hard in my shoe helps. It also helped when I was nervous before any kind of presentation or a figure skating performance. I mean, pushing it down until it hurts. But YMMV–sometimes that can set you off.

  56. dreams for plans*

    How do you find networking events? I’m applying to jobs (I’ve applied to over 130) and I’ve had about 10 interviews. I’ve reached out to recruiters on LinkedIn but, as I’ve been freelancing for 4 years and recently moved, I think I need to build my “people who actually have met me” network.

    How do you network? Any tips/advice appreciated!

    1. KMB213*

      Your local chamber of commerce is a good place to start! They often hold events that are open to non-members.

      If you’re under 40, many cities have a lot of young professional networking groups/opportunities. Some are more effective than others, as you’ll likely be meeting a lot of other people who are looking for work or at the beginning of their careers, but I’ve been in some that had a decent number of mid-career professionals in the 35-40 age range. (I just Googled “City Name Young Professionals” to find said groups.)

      I’ve tried MeetUp, as well, but didn’t have any luck. The professional meetups seem to be flooded with people involved with MLM companies, but YMMV.

  57. Rincat*

    I’m a little bummed today because I found out my top bosses (I work in the IT division of a large state university) have decided not to reopen our BI analyst position. I vacated this position when I got promoted recently, so I’m thrilled to have the promotion, but disappointed because 1) I’ll have to keep doing BI analyst stuff until we can get it reopened and 2) One of my former coworkers in another dept was really excited about applying for it. I think she’d be great, and I’ve already recommended her to my bosses, and she’s desperate to get out of her current position. So now I will have to disappoint her as well with this news at some point.

    We both knew this could happen but it just sucks. Maybe next year they can get it reopened. Their reasons for doing so are legit, so I’m not mad about that or anything, but it just sucks. I am thankful that I got my promotion though.

  58. SuperAnon*

    While I was out on leave, there were a few incidents with an area that I manage. I’ll just say that it’s a competitive process. As a result, people have been paying more attention, and we’ve been tweaking the process. Ultimately a good thing. The topic area was an agenda item for one of the monthly advisory boards. My boss and I went over the tweaks, which people seemed fine with, but then they started complaining about all of this other stuff. The main complaint was the lack of transparency about how the process works, which is easily fixed, but apparently there’s the perception that there’s favoritism in the process, which makes people reluctant to take part.

    …and there is. Not every time and not in the way that they think, but there totally is. I’ve seen it. Sometimes there’s not a clear winner, so they (my boss or above, I have no say in the decision) will just pick who they like. Sometimes there is a clear winner and they will still pick who they like. Sometimes the winner has been chosen before the competition even takes place (which I hate more than anything, not just because it’s unethical, but because I’m doing a bunch of work for no reason). I know that there’s definitely some wiggle room, and those in charge should get some say in how the organization uses its resources, but it’s made me uncomfortable for a while. We’re having another meeting to discuss this, so how do I navigate this and allay people’s fears when they’re partially true?

  59. Lost in Webform Design*

    I have a question for any IT people or “near IT” people here: I’m a customer service manager in a small financial services company. Our customers mostly interact with us online, on platforms that either we ourselves have designed and coded or which have been built for us by former contractors. In recent years, one of my tasks has been to design and test new forms and webpages for the customers to use as well as redesigning existing ones as needed.

    We have a great team doing this: Joey writes the code for the customer facing pages, Chandler writes the code for the internal databases that handle the data the customers put in, I do most of the designing, writing, and testing, and Rachel manages us all and does some testing as well. Although we all get along really well, we often have communication problems, with some of us having understood the plans differently from the others and work being wasted when a lot of code has to be rewritten. This is very frustrating! We are also often under a lot of time pressure from other tasks or from changes in the regulatory framework which force us to change our forms and webpages quickly.

    I want to learn to be more systematic in the designing of these projects and be able to communicate the plans more clearly, so that we have fewer misunderstandings and are more efficient as a team. Last year I did a short course on service design that inspired me to make mock ups of the plans, which Joey and Chandler did find useful. I’d love to read a book or do a course that could help me become better at what I do, if only I knew what it’s actually called! Courses I’ve looked up on Coursera or local open universities (I’m in Europe) seem to deal more with either managing big IT projects, rather than small, partly overlapping and iterative projects like ours, or on the actual coding side, which isn’t what I need to learn. Joey and Chandler also can’t really name what my role is, or suggest further reading.

    Any ideas from the commentariat?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Maybe you need some project management software? Or just a better communication platform (something like Slack)?

    2. Tableau Wizard*

      Have you looked into the Agile method for software development? I’m not an expert or a coder, but my understanding is that it would help with things like this.

    3. PieInTheBlueSky*

      Sounds like you wear multiple hats…here’s a few roles you could look up and see how they fit you:
      UI/UX Designer (User Interface / User Experience)
      Content Developer
      Web Portal Administrator
      Technical Writer
      Project Management

    4. Becky*

      I work as a quality assurance analyst which sounds like it would cover at least some of what you do.

      Generally on my team it is the project managers who create mockups and set criteria for new features/changes to our software. I usually review those criteria and ask questions about things they may have missed or scenarios they hadn’t thought of etc. I spend more time in our applications than they do and know how our clients use it and what customizations they have that may interact with the changes better than they do.

      I also work very closely with the developers as they do the coding–answering any questions they have about how something is supposed to act. Once it is on our Test environment (we have a DTAP setup for our environments) I test it and log any defects for the developers to fix.

      There will always be miscommunication but it might help if you create a standard list of questions to ask and things to test.

      Also, mockups are a great place to start, but not usually comprehensive.
      I don’t know what type of product you work on but here is an example:
      You are adding a new field to a page for clients to answer.
      The mockup can show where in the page the field displays and what the styling looks like and perhaps what type of field it is (dropdown, text field, radio button, checkbox, etc)
      But further acceptance criteria ought to be included:
      *When this field is filled in what is done with the information? What field does is correspond to in the database? How is this information used? Does it trigger something else in the application to happen?
      *If it is a dropdown what are all the options in the dropdown?
      *If it is a text field are there any restrictions on it? For example is it numbers only or letters only, or alphanumeric with or without special characters? Is there a specific length of characters you can enter? (eg a field asking for a quantity will only accept numbers and possibly be limited to 2 or 3 digits)
      *Does this field always display for the clients or is it triggered by something the client does in another field or does it display based on a setting in a client profile (eg the field only displays if the client address is in X country)
      *If the field is not filled in does it trigger any sort of error? what is the text of the error?
      *How should something work if this field is not filled in–this is particularly looking at backwards compatibility, so a new field which has never been filled in for previous orders should not break previous orders.

      For more information look for things like “writing user stories” or “creating effective acceptance criteria”.

      These terms are used in agile development so check out some courses on agile processes if you can. It may not be directly applicable if you don’t follow agile methods, but anything around creating user stories and acceptance criteria should get you going in the right direction.

    5. Apollo Warbucks*

      Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is best practice IT service management and covers service strategy and design as well as change management, support and continual service improvement.

      There a few project management and process improvement methodologies you might be able to look into to see what would work best for you.

      Agile / Waterfall / Prince 2 / Six sigma / lean

  60. NaoNao*