open thread – September 8-9, 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 :)

{ 1,317 comments… read them below }

  1. new job advise*

    Background: I just started a new job where I leave at 4 PM. I’m an hourly employee. My boss is on his phone checking emails late at night/early in the morning.

    I got ownership of a project and twice now at the end of the day noticed a problem with our outside vendor. I send an email to the vendor ccing the boss, and it’s resolved by the time I come in in the morning, with time stamps of emails at midnight, 1 AM, and 730 AM. I feel that it’s a problem I share responsibility for causing (I could have prevented it by double checking, even though the vendor and I discussed it at our initial conversation).

    How do I word an email to boss and vendor? How do I prevent this happening in the future?

    I have a tendency to freeze when I’m not sure what to do, as well as avoid blame whether or not I deserve it, and I want to NOT do that here.

    1. Camellia*

      Where is the vendor located? We have vendors in Israel and India so the time zones are different. Could that be the case here?

      1. new job advise*

        Yes, the vendor is overseas. How do I deal with other people fixing my mistakes when I’m off work, when I can fix them as soon as I get in the office, but don’t get a chance to due to being offsite while everyone else is on their emails?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Hmm. Say “thanks”?
          I am hearing some panic here. Maybe it is assumed that you will have your turn at fixing their mistakes? So they are not worried about fixing yours because they know you will return the favor later.

        2. Bagpuss*

          has your boss said you should cc him?
          If not, why not just e-mail vendor and perhaps say in the mail “if you need to speak to me about this, I will be available between 8.30-4 EST “(or whatever your hours are) .

          If it is not resolved you can speak to your bosss when you are in the next day.

          1. Bagpuss*

            PS in the alternative, you could e-mail the vendor as above but then send a separate e-mail to your boss (if you can’t speak to then direct) to say “I’m aware of [issue] with [vendor]. I have e-mailed Vendor to address this and will of course follow up tomorrow, but just wanted to keep you in the loop.

            But I think speaking to Boss to check how he would like you to deal would also be sensible. It may be that he is happy that you work as a tag team and that he picks up stuff that happens when you are not in.

        3. Trout 'Waver*

          If your work is collaborative in nature, it may not be a big deal. Since you’re new at the job and your boss is reasonable (and it sounds like this is the case), it’s perfectly reasonable to ask your boss exactly what you posted here.

          1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

            If it’s just a “normal” issue (and not a crisis), I would just email the vendor. If you want to keep your boss in the loop, then just send him a separate email updating him on the status on the resolution.

        4. MillersSpring*

          You could state, either in your email to the vendor or afterward to your boss, “As the project owner, I’d prefer to address issues when I’m back to the office tomorrow. Please preserve that for me.”

    2. it_guy*

      I have been (and still am) in environments where the management philosophy was make any mistake (within reason) ONCE. The last thing my manager wants is someone to ask her is “What do you know about XX?”, and she has no answer and looks clueless. In this environment it’s much better to say “Hey boss, I screwed up and did XX, and to prevent it from happening again, I’m going to do YY”. That way they know what’s happening, why and when, and what will keep it from happening again.

      Now my boss can say when she is asked: “Why yes, we are on top of this and here’s how we are going to prevent it from happening again….” This makes the manager look like she is on top of everything and has it under control.

      I realize that I’ve been lucky and not every environment is that way, but if it is, you need to embrace it and take advantage of it. I’ve made some really stupid mistakes, and since I try my hardest not to make the same mistake again, I’ve learned a lot along the way.

    3. Fabulous*

      I’m not sure I understand what the problem is. That your boss and the vendor are working outside of normal business hours to fix the problem? In any case, are these emails something you can wait until the next morning to send?

    4. Argh!*

      Just ask the boss if the way you’ve been doing things is okay. If your boss is a bit of a micromanager, they won’t mind jumping in.

      Since you’re hourly and the boss is not, this is the most expedient way to provide excellent customer service. You should not do work after you clock out, and the boss apparently doesn’t want problems to go unsolved until the next day.

      Freezing when you don’t know what to do is a bigger problem. You need to have the kind of relationship with your boss that you can ask questions, and you need to have enough self-confidence to be able to handle the possibility of being wrong occasionally. If these seem like insurmountable challenges, you may want to try therapy.

    5. Gaia*

      As a manager, this is something I might do if I felt the issue needed urgent (out of hours) resolution. I would not expect my hourly staff to be working on something in the middle of the night. I wouldn’t consider it a burden they had put on me, just part of the job.

  2. anon for this*

    How soon is too soon to consider other internal positions at your organization when you’ve been approached about them?

    I was hired at my organization almost exactly 1 year ago in a support role with the understanding that I’d get to learn the organization better and figure out where I wanted to go career-wise within the organization (there are lots of different units and types of positions). It’s not a position my boss or I ever figured I’d be in long-term, and at my performance review a couple of months ago, she encouraged me to think about what I’d like to do next.

    I didn’t really consider even looking at other positions until maybe 1.5 years at the earliest. However, recently, a few colleagues from a different unit who I work with on a committee approached me about the possibility of joining their team. They really like the work I do and are eager to bring talent into their unit. There was an open position they asked me to apply for if I was interested; I ultimately decided I wasn’t interested in it, but they said they’d keep me in mind as positions open and let me know when something more up my alley becomes available. They took me on a tour of their unit this week and I was introduced to members of their team I hadn’t met yet. I also had a casual informational interview/chat with the head of the unit, who seemed on board with the idea of me joining their team.

    I’m a little glad the open position wasn’t what I was looking for because I didn’t know if applying for a new job internally after 1 year was too soon, even though they approached me – I wasn’t actively looking or applying. I get the feeling I can be open with my boss about this if I do see a position I like, but I don’t know exactly how long I should be waiting. I’m getting a little bored in my role for a number of reasons, but I don’t want to look too eager to start doing something else.

    It’s entirely possible this will become a moot point if nothing opens up in their unit for a while anyway, but I want to be ready in case something does open up soon that interests me. What do you all think?

    1. Jule*

      It sounds like if your boss brought this up in your performance review and your current position was designed not to be permanent, it’s not only not “too soon” but you actually should be doing it!

    2. Future Analyst*

      Eh, I wouldn’t be too worried about leaving for a new internal position a year into your time at the company, especially since your boss seems to be encouraging you to think beyond your current role. What exactly is your hesitation with changing roles? (Obviously not saying you should take the role that wasn’t right for you)

      1. anon for this*

        I guess I’m just hesitant because while my boss did encourage me to start thinking about what could be next, it seemed more like a “start thinking about it this year” thing and not an “apply the next role that interests you, even if it comes up soon” thing. I dunno, I just don’t want to make it seem like I deliberately misinterpreted her or whatever and took her word as a blessing to start applying to other roles immediately. I don’t want to seem presumptuous. “You told me to start thinking about it, so I got a new job in a different unit!” (Not that that would happen, since I’d talk to her about it.) I think I’m outgrowing my role, but a year feels fast regardless. I don’t know! I keep going back and forth on this.

    3. Sadsack*

      Your company may have rules about this. At my company, you have to watch 2 years, but there are exceptions made if your current manager agrees to let you go early. If something comes up again, you have to decide if you want to go for it and talk with your boss. In the meantime, maybe you should talk with your boss about opportunites for new projects or other work.

        1. bossy*

          Where I work, the rule is one year, but the *convention* is two years. I really think it’s OK to ask your boss about this specifically since you are already both in agreement that this is a short-term role for you.

    4. Susan K*

      I think one year is a pretty good rule of thumb. In the companies where I’ve worked, they actually have a policy saying that employees have to get their current manager’s permission to apply for internal job postings if they’ve been in their current position for less than a year. Some managers might take it personally if you start applying for transfers as soon as you can, but it looks like this is something you’ve already discussed with your manager and she is supportive of it, so you should be fine. You might want to ask her before you apply, though, just as a courtesy (because she’ll most likely be told once you apply).

    5. Trillion*

      If your company and/or department don’t have any specific time constraints regarding this I would say 1 year is a good rule of thumb.

      You may want to check with other HR or your employee handbook to see if there is anything in there about it. I know my company it can range 18 months to 3+years depending what departments are involved. You could also touch base with your colleagues informally and say something like “I’m excited to join your team should something suitable come up, but I’m worried about trying to leave my current role too soon. What is the normal duration that you’ve seen people remain in my current role before transferring?” I’d suggest talking to your manager who encouraged you to think about your next move and ask for clarification.

    6. miyeritari*

      if your boss told you to think about it, AND someone else thought you’d be a good fit to their team, it’s worth it at least to bring it up to your boss about what they think if this happens again.

      “Originally I had in my head that Junior Teapotter would be a good place to me for a year to two years, but one of the Spout Experts encouraged me to apply for a posistion on their team. How long do people usually stay Junior Teapotters, or do you think Spout Expert would be a good fit for me?”

      Or, if you have any friends with more seniority (maybe, even ones who have left your department and grew internally like it’s your goal to do so), you could ask them their opinion on it.

      1. Troutwaxer*

        Remember that you’re not going rogue or breaking any rules. You’ve been approached by another part of the organization and they are apparently very interested in having you join their team. Talking to your boss about the issue should not be a problem here.

        What might be a problem would be if you approached another team without your boss’s knowledge/permission, but unless your letter was unclear that’s not happening here. So talk to your boss, explain that another team approached you, and ask your boss whether you’d be violating any company policies by discussing things with the other team. The very worst thing you could do is fail to discuss the issue with your boss, who might be a very good ally if s/he thinks the other team is a good fit.

    7. LemonLyman*

      Do you have weekly or monthly check-ins? If so, this is a good thing to bring up at that time. Talk to her about how you’ve thought about her comment during the annual review about what is next for you. How you’re interested in pursuing experiences that help with your career development. (I like the word “experiences” because that could mean PDs, workshops, AND job opportunities.). Invite her in as a partner in your development. Good bosses want to help their people grow, not keep them suppressed, and she’s already expressed interest. Ideally, you’d have this conversation with your boss before you started networking with other departments, so as a professional courtesy, it would be best to bring this up before she hears about your meeting from the other department. There’s also a high likelihood she knows already. Most bosses don’t want it to look like they are poaching other manager’s people.

  3. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

    Hi all – anyone here get an executive MBA after many years in the workforce? I’m considering applying for the EMBA program at my institution, but would really like some input from those who have pursued this at roughly my career stage. My institution happens to have what I think is the most expensive program in the US, so it’s a significant investment, even with aid and tuition help.

    For anyone who pursued this degree with more than 10 or 15 years of work experience, please share your thoughts, did completing this program significantly impact your career? Did it open doors for you? Would you recommend it to someone else in a similar position? Do you need a clear idea of the type of job you’d like to pursue as a result, or did you find yourself drawn to areas you didn’t previously know much about?

    I have been in the workforce for 27 years now, and am starting to realize that even with my humanities MA (which despite being useless and prehistoric means something as I work in academia), I’m likely to spend my remaining almost 20 years working for lower and lower pay as I am gradually marginalized due to age, sex, and (probably, realistically) tech skills. I feel like I have to do something to offset that. Right now I am a program manager of a university research program, which I love, but I do not feel that this job has very long-term potential, and in any case, it’s as high as I can go here without something additional to offer.


    1. cat*

      I cannot speak to the actual question at hand, as I got my MBA after 6 years in the workforce and I did it full-time, albeit in a year-long program, rather than two years.

      That said, if you are looking at the most expensive program in the US, look hard at the program cost versus what you expect your pay increase to be as a result. I’m probably stating the obvious here, but don’t set yourself up for 20+ years of loan repayments that are more than your increased salary. By the time you’re ready to retire, you could still be paying loans.

      1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

        Hi cat – thanks! That’s exactly why I’m asking, the idea of continuing to pay the loans off until I am retired means it better be worth it, both in somewhat increased salary (I don’t need to make that much more since I don’t have kids or debt or too much in the way of expenses, knock wood) but also in terms of being better able to get and keep higher-level positions. A big worry for me is becoming disabled sometime between now and then, and living on disability while still paying off this loan might not be possible.

        1. Optimistic Prime*

          Well I think the question is – what do you want to do? Where do people who move on from being research program managers typically go? Or are you trying to move into a different career field altogether? Some careers can make the expensive MBA worth it and others won’t.

        2. C*

          Well, technically you can get the student loans discharged if you become disabled -as long as they are government loans – private loans have different rules.

    2. LadyB*

      I did my MBA through distance learning with the Open University (I’m in the UK) after 14 years in the workforce.
      I had just reached the point of being head of my functional area in a reasonable sized organisation, but the next step on the career ladder would have meant managing more than one function.
      I started with the idea that an MBA would give me professional credibility. What I found was that it gave me context and tools to do my role better, I gained confidence and the vocabulary to have conversations at a higher organisational level.
      At my next job, my grand boss said that he valued staff who did further development in their own time because it proved they were serious about their careers. While my career didn’t magically take a step change overnight when I got my hands on my certificate, I think it helped me get where I am today, which is not a bad place to be.
      An MBA on it’s own isn’t a magic bullet to a better career, but it can be fascinating, rewarding and change your career path.

      1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

        Thank you LadyB – that is very helpful as it sounds like what you gained is exactly what I’m after. I don’t expect this to be a magic bullet or instantly increase my salary/prospects, but I love the idea of learning the reasons why behind of a lot of the processes I’ve observed for so many years, and having a larger toolset for problem-solving. At a recent Open House, alums of the program I’m considering all mentioned their increased confidence, which is another aspect that is very appealing. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

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

      I work in an academic environment and those little letters after a name do mean a lot in terms of credibility and ability to move up (sometimes WAY too much). The EMBA after your name will be visible, but typically very few people will know where you got it and within a short time, it’ll be less and less important. I would recommend looking for reputable middle of the road alternatives to the expensive program. Do you only receive tuition help if you attend your own institution?

      1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

        Thank you – you’re right that the institution won’t matter so much to employers, I think what’s drawing me to this program over the lower-cost alternatives is the world-class faculty, and the diversity of concentrations. I only get tuition help if I am in-state, so there are a couple of other options. One is technology-focused, and the other is offered by a Christian institution, which I would like to steer clear of for personal reasons. I know religion probably wouldn’t make its way into the MBA curriculum but I am leery. The tech focus turns me off of the other option. Good food for thought though, thanks! As edj3 says below, I might look into out of state options given that even without tuition help, it still may be less expensive.

    4. edj3*

      My husband is almost finished earning his EMBA from Kansas State University. The program is nearly entirely virtual with one required visit to the campus in Manhattan, KS. The program is accredited and reasonably priced. You might check into that program along with the one you’re looking at.

      In my husband’s case, an MBA is very helpful for his industry so even though he started in his late 40s, it’s still been a good idea.

      1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

        Thanks – I will look into some out of state options as it is possible that even without tuition help, they may be less expensive and have better options than the other in-state programs. Glad to hear it is helping your husband!

    5. I should be studying*

      Instead of an MBA, what about an EDD in higher education administration? It’s a doctorate, so it should command more respect in academia than a master’s degree, and if you want to stay in higher ed, it would make you eligible for higher-level jobs.

      1. StudentAffairsProfessional*

        Agree – this is what I was going to say! I would pursue a PhD or an EDD before an MBA unless you are really sure an EMBA is going to advance your career and you can do it practically for free. Does your school have tuition reimbursement or tuition discounts? At least at my university, an MBA or EMBA wouldn’t be a big bonus for most higher ed jobs, unless they were jobs at our business school. Are you thinking about jobs in the private sector? Then an MBA/EMBA might be worth it. I wouldn’t take out loans though so late in my career, personally, unless it was necessary for my next step up professionally.

      2. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

        I hadn’t given an EDD much consideration because I worry that it wouldn’t be as portable if I moved to industry, but the truth is, I love my institution and would like to stay. Thank you both for this observation and I will actually look into that path to see what the real differences are. I only gave it a cursory examination but should really dig in before making this decision.

        1. Optimistic Prime*

          You’re right in that the Ed.D won’t be as portable. If you are 100% certain you are going to stay in higher education (or education in general), then the Ed.D might be viable, but if you’d like the flexibility to move into industry I’d do the MBA instead.

          I will also add that I work in a field that hires lots and lots of program managers, and very few of them have MBAs (or master’s degrees at all). Experience is the important criterion here.

    6. Feline Fine*

      A huge perk of an EMBA program, beyond the classroom learning, is the network that you form with your classmates. Have you spoken with the MBA admissions team at your school? Ask them about the types of industries, job titles, and the number of years of experience in a typical cohort.

      1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

        This is great advice, I will do that – I have been to an Open House for the program which was run by alums, and this was something they all brought up as a huge positive. Thanks!

    7. Ann Furthermore*

      I got my MBA about 9 years ago. My employer paid for it; or rather, they offered about $5200 per year in tuition assistance, so I took classes until I used up that allowance. I was able to do 3 classes per year, 2 paid for in full, and the last one used up the remainder and I paid the rest. There were 12 classes in the program, so had I gone full time, I could have finished it in 2 years, but I was too cheap to pay for it myself, so it took 4. I wasn’t doing it for any reason other than it was something I’d thought about doing over the years, and finally realized that in the amount of time I’d spent thinking about doing it, I could have just done it already. I’m glad I did. About a year after I finished, my company discontinued the tuition reimbursement benefit, and had I not gotten off my duff, I would have been kicking myself.

      I’m not sure how much it’s done for my career, but I do think there have been some intangible benefits — but like I said, I did it because it was just something I wanted to do, and I didn’t have any specific goal in mind. I attended Regis University, a very highly respected Jesuit school in my state (Colorado). I am about as anti-religion as one can get, and I can say that there was absolutely no religious influence at all in any of the classes in the program.

      I don’t know if all MBA programs do this, but the one I did was structured into 8 week blocks, and you took one course in each block. I really liked that format. You were able to get in, get out, and move on to the next class. The only drawback is that if you’re struggling, or need to change the way you’re doing something, 8 weeks isn’t that much time to course-correct. I never had any trouble, but I could see where it might be an issue. The other thing I liked is that it was completely online. You can do your assignments and classwork when it works for your schedule, and not have to deal with schlepping to the campus, finding a place to park, and getting to class. Also, the classroom message board lets everyone in the class have a voice, instead of the classroom discussion being dominated by 1 or 2 know-it-all windbags, which is what I experienced when I was an undergrad. Some people like the interaction and interpersonal contact of the classroom, but I was perfectly happy with the online format.

  4. Can I fire someone after Harvey?*

    We recently hired a new nanny, and I’m unsure how to handle terminating the relationship. We had moved to a new city 8 weeks ago, and the nanny started three weeks ago, with a week overlap with our previous nanny, as a “training” period. However, during what would have been her first week, Harvey was wreaking havoc on the city, and we didn’t need her. As such, this is the first week that she’s actually been alone with the kids, and it’s been Not Great. She seems much better suited for older kids (mine are 2 and almost 4) as she’s very hands off (even though she was much more hands on during her first week), seems to need a LOT of direction (which, I get, is sometimes how it goes when you’re new to a job, but that’s precisely why we had a week-long training period), and generally seems uncomfortable in our house. She doesn’t offer to help the kids with anything while we’re there, and while I am sympathetic to everyone needing to get to know one another, I need her to at least try to help the kids, b/c otherwise they won’t learn to trust her and rely on her. I’ve been mindful of trying to include her in things, but the kids are increasingly resisting having her do anything, and she just leaves the room, rather than try to engage with them.

    At this point, it just doesn’t feel like a good fit. She had glowing recommendations, but the kids she worked with previously were older (4-8), so I’m guessing that’s where some of the disconnect is happening. In any other situation, I would just call it, move on with another candidate, and pay her for an extra week. HOWEVER, she just lost her house and car in Harvey, so I feel like the ‘usual’ course of action is not applicable. She stayed with us during the week this week, since she didn’t have a car to get to us every morning, but during the weekends she is staying with her brother. She wouldn’t be out on the street if we terminated her, but I still don’t know how to proceed in a kind and conscientious manner, and I’m not certain how much of her actions this week are the result of her being preoccupied with her home (which is entirely understandable, but little kids do not have the capacity to take that into consideration). If this were an admin job, I would keep her on for a few months until she found her footing, but my kids are not being cared for properly, and that’s not something I can compromise on. Thoughts? I’m very torn on this…

    1. BigSigh*

      Have you asked her about what you’re seeing? Maybe she’s just overall in a weird place. Point out what you’d like to see her doing different and give it another week?

      1. k.k*

        I agree that you should talk to her. Explain what your expectations are and how that differs from what you’ve observed. Given the circumstance, she at least deserves a warning.

      2. Manders*

        I think this is a good idea. If she was hands-on during the first week when she could really focus on her job and then suddenly switched styles during the second week after she lost everything, I’d lean toward assuming she’s probably in a weird place right now. You don’t have to let this go on for months, but if she’s just a little spaced out and not dangerously distracted, I think a talk about what’s going on and another week or two of leeway would be kind.

    2. Consulting Qween*

      Is it possible that the loss of her home and car during the storm is affecting her ability to do her job? If so, I recommend talking with her first. Obviously if you don’t feel your kids are being looked after properly, you need to address that, but given what she’s going through I’d try a conversation first.

    3. Manager Mary*

      You can, but regardless of her personal situation, it’s pretty crappy to fire someone for doing a bad job if you haven’t bothered to tell them you think they’re doing a bad job. There’s nothing magical about nannies that enables them to read minds!

      Just sit her down and say “I’ve noticed that you seem reluctant to help the kids in the morning while we’re still home. What I’d like is for you to be actively involved, even when we’re home, so the kids learn to trust and rely on you. Also, I’d like to see more of the hands-on activities I observed during your training week–that’s so much more useful for kids this age than the less involved activities that older children might enjoy.” Or whatever it is you want to see more/less of.

      If things don’t improve, then consider termination. But it is pretty unlikely that she will spontaneously fix these issues if you don’t identify them as issues for her!

      1. Artemesia*

        With most jobs I agree. But this is a person who doesn’t seem to have the knack of dealing with young kids. And these young kids will be alone with her all day during a formative period of their lives. I think the bar for firing is much lower — just bad vibes are enough. But obviously in this situation some sort of transition is important. If you give her feedback and can observe for another couple weeks, maybe. but kids alone with someone you have bad vibes about? Urggh.

    4. Blue Anne*

      I could completely understand being in a super weird emotional place after what has happened to her, but the problems you’re describing don’t sound like “I’m broken up and off my game”, they sound like her just working in a different way than you want.

      I would mention your concerns to her, give it another week, and then move on if you don’t see any change. it’s still a business relationship, in the end.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        I second this. I kept a substandard nanny for far too long, at my spouses urging, because we both knew it was a 4 month position. 3.5 months of it were not good borderline bad. She just wasn’t what I wanted or needed. She was a nice person, just not a good match.
        OP don’t waste too much time here. Give her an opportunity for correction, but it seems like this is who she is.

    5. KarenT*

      I’d be very direct with her. Tell her what you’re observing, and tell her what you need. See what she says. Her performance might be related to stress/shock–I can’t imagine my job wouldn’t suffer if I lost my house and car, especially in such a terrible way.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      My knee-jerk response is to say don’t leave her alone with your kids. That is the kid in me talking. However, perhaps you can guide her along and see how that goes for a week. If that is not doable perhaps you can find someone else with older kids who would hire her. Or maybe your compromise is to give her a week’s severance pay.

      It could be that she is rattled by being homeless. Maybe she would like time to figure out her living situation. Once that is stabilized, she would have the available brain space and emotional energy to take care of kids.

    7. michelenyc*

      Normally I would say you should let her go but given the circumstances she may be really stressed out due to the loss of her home, etc. I think it would be worth sitting down with her talking through the issues.

    8. Laura*

      Sit down with her and say nicely “You were so hands-on with the kids during the first week, which is just what we were looking for. We were also really looking for someone who comes forward to help the kids with stuff rather than leaving it to us when we’re present. Sometimes I’ve actually seen you leave the room rather than engage with the kids. Has anything changed? I can totally understand that things are terrible for you right now – do you want to stop working for us to focus on getting your stuff together? Or are you maybe feeling that this isn’t a good fit? I know the previous kids you looked after were older.”

      Then you have given her tons of outs and if she still wants to stay she needs to sound really keen and you need to give her a list of non-negotiable and say you’ll meet again to discuss in a fortnight, say?

      Obviously I’m assuming you aren’t feeling the kids are physically at risk because she isn’t supervising them on the stairs or in the kitchen or tons of places, etc etc. Does that work?

      1. Can I fire someone after Harvey?*

        Thank you, this is helpful. I think it would be really helpful to name everything that’s happening, and give her the option to back out.

        1. Laura*

          Exactly – or buy in, and if she does the latter she’s effectively on notice that if she slides back to the previous semi-neglect you can call her on it and sack her politely and without guilt.

          So glad it was helpful, it’s a tricky situation all round!

    9. K*

      She’s been sleeping at her new employers house after a week on the job, has lost her home and car, and she’s uncomfortable. No kidding! Can you imagine any other job where you’d sleep where you work and it would feel okay? And I’m not surprised she’s not helping the kids when you’re home because you are her parents and she’s living there for now so when do her work hours start? Tell her starting at 8:30 or whenever that even if you’re home she should take over kid duties. If you don’t have the conversation with her, it’s not fair to expect her behavior to change.

      1. Can I fire someone after Harvey?*

        I am sympathetic to it being hard, I really am. She staying with us is because she wouldn’t be able to get to work otherwise, and I offered to let her stay so she wouldn’t lose her job. [We’re in a two bedroom, and she’s staying in our room while we’re bunking with the kids.] We have been very mindful of making sure she knows she’s off the clock at the end of the day (5:30), and not expecting or asking anything of her before 9. I agree that I can’t expect her to change what she’s doing unless I have a conversation, but I guess I’m not sure if it’s feasible to expect things to change on her end in the short time in which I need them to change.

        1. Optimistic Prime*

          ^In addition to what Elizabeth said, you also need to be realistic about the expectations you have for the time period in which you expect them to change, especially considering that she just lost her home and car. Think about if you were advised that you needed to change your processes at work in the midst of a traumatic experience and how much time you’d like to have. Obviously you don’t have to give her months and months, but waiting at least week or two to observe change sounds reasonable and fair.

      2. Jesca*

        I agree with this. I don’t think you are realizing how weird this situation is likely to seem to her. She may be trying to find ways to separate her work hours while staying with you. It is an awkward and awful situation. I wouldn’t even confrontational about it with her. Just state the obvious: Obviously conditions changed, and I have not addressed them appropriately. I would like you to begin work at XX time and will be set free at XX time.

    10. Sunshine Brite*

      What are some indicators that you have to know how she treats your kids when she’s alone with them? I’m not a nanny but would likely be more hands off when the parents are present without direction that it was an expectation.

      Her life is in complete upheaval. I’m sure in addition to her house and car and belongings; she lost her neighborhood. Probably some social supports who are leaving and not coming back or not sure if everyone is situated yet. It doesn’t sound like she has clear hours which can be difficult with a nanny situation, especially because she is living with you.

    11. Book Lover*

      You sound like a very caring person who is in a really difficult situation. I am having nanny issues myself, so I sympathize. That is enough by itself without adding natural disasters to the mix. With three years of experience with the nanny thing, I’d say it can just take time for everyone to settle down and understand expectations. Glowing references aren’t a guarantee, but do suggest that if you talk to her, she may have the ability to adjust the way she is caring for your kids. On the other hand, my last nanny just told me that it wasn’t a good fit – when you talk to her, she may say the same and you can move towards a parting of ways – maybe a couple of weeks notice while you find someone and giving her a bit of time to look for other opportunities also. Best of luck :(

    12. Just Doing My Job*

      So she lost her house and car in a hurricane, and then showed up for a new job the week after? I think she’s probably got a ton on her mind and may even be in a bit of shock still. Judging 1 week under these circumstances seems very premature and a tad out of touch.

    13. The Strand*

      I disagree with all the other comments, except the one suggesting you’re “out of touch”. Your words seem really disconnected from the reality of what we’re living through here. You seem more upset that your kids are inconvenienced than the way your employee’s life has been destroyed. You can’t “compromise” on your kids’ care. OK. So why didn’t you give the woman a few weeks to try and repair what’s left of her life, and reassure her that the job would be waiting for her? Ask your old nanny to come back for a few weeks.

      Everything you described as poor performance can be attributed to the fact that this woman lost her house. This woman lost her car. And that impact was doubled by the destruction of her neighborhood and nearby businesses. She is now dependent on her brother, and the kindness of her new employer, who is new to the city and doesn’t really get the magnitude of the disaster. She is looking down the abyss.

      She probably is a wonderful employee, but has just suffered an immense loss. I don’t know her, but I know my colleagues who have lost their homes and possessions, and several of them are legitimately suffering from PTSD.

      You indicated that you are in a new city, and moved here 8 weeks ago. That suggests to me that maybe you don’t really know that many people around you, and what you know of Harvey you either rode through as a bad rainstorm, or saw on television stuck in your home (which was not damaged; your employee lives in an area that was destroyed that is some distance away).

      Your words show an emotional distance from an experience that is very raw for literally thousands of people, including many of whom had no idea their homes could flood (e.g. people in Katy, Cinco Ranch, western Houston). Every person I’ve talked to is still in recovery mode. People aren’t at peak performance; would you be at peak performance, sleeping on a cot in someone else’s house or in the wreck of your house, wondering how you’re going to start over?

      1. Can I fire someone after Harvey?*

        Thank you for your comment. It’s possible that I am disconnected from the whole thing, but my concern is really not my kids being “inconvenienced,” it’s that both kids are suffering the trauma of losing our previous nanny (who had to move back to the city we previously lived in, and is unable to return as she has started a new position herself), and we’re trying to make sure they spend their days with someone who responds to them when they are upset. I’m not saying she has to do everything perfectly, “or else” – I’m just trying to make sure I don’t leave my kids with someone who cannot adequately respond to two little ones who are suffering their own loss. Again, it’s understandable that she cannot do that at this time, and perhaps the answer is that I stay home with them to help them cope, but then she would be out of a job regardless. I don’t think that things are as clear-cut as you present them, unfortunately.

        1. Flossie Bobbsey*

          I’m encouraged to read your response here, as I, too, thought your question out of touch on various levels. Given what you describe as trauma of losing their previous nanny, no wonder the kids are resisting this new person who they perceive to have replaced her. Given the new nanny’s own extremely fresh losses and complete upheaval, not to mention the fact that she’s staying in your personal bedroom, no wonder she seems uncomfortable in your home. Also, no two people ever do things the same way, no matter how many weeks of training you’d had the old nanny provide the new one.

        2. Optimistic Prime*

          Reading this comment also brings up another thing…perhaps your kids are resistant simply because they haven’t yet adjusted to having a new nanny, especially if they really loved the old one. I don’t have kids but I have taken care of and worked with lots of kids (ages 3-8 are my favorite), and I have personally witnessed kids refuse to engage with people when they are mad that the person they really want is gone (“I won’t talk to you because I’m mad mommy went on a date and now I’m throwing a tantrum, etc.”) I’ve also cared for some kids who just took a while to warm up to me. My response was to make sure that their needs were taken care of but give them some space to get used to the idea of being around me a lot. The first time I took care of one of my favorite kids, she barely talked to me for the first 2-3 hours we were together.

          Of course, you know your kids better than anyone – but consider whether this is the way they’re reacting to losing their beloved old nanny rather than a reaction to something the new nanny is doing wrong.

          Also, I’ve never been a nanny but I would assume that unless the parents have told me otherwise, while they are home they are in charge of kid stuff. So if you want her to help the kids while you are home, you should just ask her to do that.

        3. neverjaunty*

          You definitely need to stay focused on what is best for your children, and not on what is best for for the paid nanny.

          I’m more than a little taken aback at people who are scolding you, as if it’s a moral obligation for your toddlers to deal with a disinterested nanny because of her personal situation.

          1. New Bee*

            Agreed, for the record. Of course you should have compassion for her, but that doesn’t change your care needs and you aren’t solely responsible for her wellbeing. I’m sure there are folks who were about to be fired before Harvey–the storm may have pushed back those proceedings but I doubt people would say it should eliminate them altogether.

        4. All the Words*

          No advice on firing, others have covered that well. But as a former nanny, and on multiple occasions, the replacement for the first, long-time nanny, it sounds like there may be some unrealistic expectations for the way your kids and new nanny interact. It sounds like there are some bigger problems, but it’s not surprising if they are resistant to be with her, especially when you’re available. The first 2-3 weeks for kids at that age is rough, even for the best of nannies. I definitely think there is space for a conversation on what you’d like to change, but I’m not sure your kids response while you’re home is the best response. That change is traumatic, but the only way past it is to go through it. They’ll likely be that way with any nanny you bring in.

    14. Can I fire someone after Harvey?*

      Thanks all. Your comments have been really helpful. I think I assumed that a week of training would be enough, AND I think I may have underestimated how much losing one’s home and car would affect her ability to focus on the kids this week. I am personally someone who powers through trauma and unhappy things by keeping busy, and happily threw myself into work last week when I was stressing out about losing our home, but I understand that people react differently, and I’m likely an outlier, not the standard. I will be direct with her, and give clear instructions, and see how things progress.

      1. Willow Sunstar*

        I’ve not been through a hurricane, but I have been through a fire. That was extremely traumatic for me due to the fact it was started as a suicide by a housemate. So I do know what it’s like to lose literally everything and have to deal with your insurance company, etc. and have to depend on family for charity.

        Depending on whether she lost family/friends in Harvey, through moves or injuries, she may be in need of counseling. I would suggest being kind to her and see if she improves over the next couple of weeks.

      2. The Strand*

        More thoughts:

        1) I don’t think this is clear cut. This is a very intimate job you hired her for, asking someone to take care of your children, but in turn I believe it requires you to be sensitive to her, too. She is *not* the person you hired before Harvey. She will never be that person again. She is not going to snap back after a week; recovery at this level means months, years.

        That does not mean she’s not capable of living up to all the great things said about her. Just understand that the things that make a great nanny are the very things that are stressed now – her compassion, her attention to others. And, she’s super vulnerable, suddenly thrust into a position of being completely dependent on a new employer she barely knows, and who doesn’t know the lay of the land. To be kind and sensitive, you have to find ways of empathizing with her situation, and giving her some of her dignity back. That’s why I suggested asking if she’d like some time, with her job saved. Wouldn’t we advise the same if she had lost a spouse or parent? You could also actively help her, e.g. ask around about a place that gives her some privacy and structure back.

        2) Speaking of powering through trauma and unhappy things. I have a colleague who is fiercely independent, and spent the first days of the storm rescuing people and their pets with his son – at the time that the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore was doing his stand up reports in front of their flooded downtown. Then he went home. When it came to his house, as the flood waters receded, he suddenly shut down. Another coworker reached him by phone, and was extremely worried.

        That second coworker called up colleagues who had not evacuated, and as a group they started tearing down the damage in his house. Neighbors and strangers who didn’t even know him came around and started helping too. Now, even though he’s the kind of person who “powers through” and doesn’t admit weakness, that colleague was emotionally beaten by the storm – his friend who called him described it as a fugue state, which is why he got on the phone and started dialing every person he could think of. So throw “outlier”, “standard” out the window. People are going to surprise you in their resilience, and also in their difficulty coping. Frankly, all the workaholics I know have been unable to work at the same level. The important thing is to be sensitive, especially as a transplant.

  5. BigSigh*

    Question that I think I know the answer to, but am curious if anyone thinks I’m on the right track:

    Interesting dynamic in my office. A department director (Mary) is known to be a problem-causer (I am a director but for a different department). She foists the bulk of her work on her direct report, the department manager (Fergus). She holds up processes and causes drama, often resulting in missed deadlines. She literally doesn’t know how to do her job after 3 years. It’s pretty embarrassing. Our mutual boss knows this, hates her, but is too afraid of looking bad to fire her.

    In any case, any time Fergus takes a day off, Mary surprises a meeting on the Fergus’s direct report. So she is grand-boss to this assistant. She sits the assistant down and asks for an overview of every idea or program she and the Fergus are implementing. Mary then goes to her boss and presents them as her own ideas. Yeah, nice, right?

    Anyway, our boss knows Mary is stealing these ideas and a good percentage of the time Fergus has already privately presented them to Mary’s boss.

    So here’s the question—is there anything else anyone can do? Fergus gets so mad every time he returns to the office to find his ideas stolen, but I’ve told him there’s really nothing that can be done aside from rolling his eyes and making sure to present his ideas first. My boss knows they’re his ideas, so he technically gets credit. Mary is his boss, so it’s certainly not like he can tell her off for meeting with his assistant.

    It’s unfortunate because he is a very high performer. Fergus is doing his own work and his department director’s work, so we’d be in real trouble if he left. But if my boss knows Mary steals his ideas and hasn’t done anything about it in the last years, there’s no chance she’ll sudden say something. Is there any point in Fergus saying something to Mary directly? She would just make his job more difficult, as she would likely feel angry and victimized.

    It’s a tricky situation to go “above” my boss. The company was recently acquired and merged with another company, so my boss does have a new boss herself. They are not located in the same state though and I’m not sure these granular issues are things they’re interested in as we’re still attempting to merge much bigger processes like financials, etc. Perhaps when things are more settled?

    1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      What would happen if Fergus’ assistant told Mary “Oh you’ll have to discuss that with Fergus when he gets in. In fact, I don’t really have time to discuss today because I have X, Y, Z to complete. But I am sure Fergus will be happy to sit down with you when he is back!”

      Also, your boss sucks and needs to manage Mary. It will 100% be your boss’ fault if Fergus leaves because your boss refuses to do her job and manage Mary.

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        I would have a discussion with your boss, if you have the kind of relationship where you can (and honestly, if Fergus is that valuable, might do it even if you don’t have that kind of relationship). “We cannot afford to lose Fergus for this long list of reasons. It will be difficult to replace him because of this list of reasons. He will leave if Mary isn’t managed better. Something needs to be done about Mary.”

        1. BigSigh*

          That conversation has definitely been had. Hasn’t seemed to change anything. It’s gotten to the point when, in previous years, the department’s financial yearly plan needs to be put together, our boss does it herself because it’s so clear Mary doesn’t understand how to even begin.

          I reaaaaally like your idea about how to coach the assistant to respond. I may speak with her about that route, if she feels comfortable saying it.

          Thank you!

      2. Sadsack*

        It will probably be difficult for the employee to do that. I would not feel comfortable doing that if my VP came asking me questions with my boss out. I’d try to answer what I can and say I don’t know to what I could.

          1. Office drone*

            Same, and I have in a somewhat similar situation. That started the path to my boss being pushed out.

    2. Ama*

      “Too afraid of looking bad”? To whom, exactly? Sounds like the rest of your office would be happy to see her gone.

      1. BigSigh*

        We were acquired last year and, as usually happens, underwent a larger than normal amount of turnover as a lot of people jumped ship. New hires are a financial strain, and I think now our boss is just terrified of anyone leaving as a reflection of her.

        1. CatCat*

          So how’s she going to feel if Fergus quits? And in an exit interview, he points to all of Mary’s problems that have gone unchecked? That’s going to reflect pretty poorly.

        2. AW*

          Yeah, but in that case it isn’t any better for her if Fergus leaves instead of Mary. If anything it’s worse because Fergus is actually a good employee.

        3. Amber T*

          I mean, I’m preaching to the choir here, but if Fergus decides to leave, sure the direct reason would be because of Mary, but that’s indirectly grandboss’s fault. Who would she rather lose, the high performer who actually gets the work done, or the slacker and trouble maker that she doesn’t get along with? The ship is sinking and she needs to do something about it. Unfortunately, other than voicing your opinions (singing the praises of Fergus and voicing your frustrations with Mary), there isn’t much you can do :(

        4. Not So NewReader*

          There is a difference between people leaving under their own steam and firing people.
          People who leave on their own might or might not have issues with the boss.
          When someone is fired, that is because the boss took control of the situation.

          I think that if your boss shows logical reasons for firing Mary she might be okay, especially since Fergus can step right into Mary’s spot.

          The problem is with the vagueness of the word “They”.
          They will fire me.
          They will not understand.

          A good response is to ask who is (sic) THEY?

          Coach your boss to name actual names. So she names three people, Larry, Moe and Curly. Take each person and ask her what about each person makes her think that this person is gunning to axe her. Why would Larry want you fired? Why would Moe want you fired? etc.
          Point out to her that the plan she is using may be the thing that causes them to question her leadership. How will she handle it when they ask her why she cannot relieve someone of their job who is nothing but dead weight to the company.
          Remind her that the window of opportunity to fix this is limited. If the gem of an employee, Fergus, leaves then she has lost her plan to rebalance the group. This will mean an even larger problem.

          Sometimes situations are such that even mere mention of the situation can rattle people to their core. But if we open the conversation a second time or third time people can get used to talking about Difficult Subject and decide to actually talk with us. I’d like to encourage you to show your boss that firing is not the same as leaving. Removing non-performing employees is The Responsible thing to do. And in this setting here, happily, your boss has a built in solution because Fergus can take over.

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

          If Fergus and your boss are already doing Mary’s work, there doesn’t seem to be a need for a new hire…at least immediately. They just need to get Mary out of the way so others can have some peace. If Fergus could then move up as a result of her departure, it sounds like it would make the department more efficient better for morale. Then you could have any new hire be lower level and therefore less of a disruption and strain.

          Are there any other reasons why Mary is being protected? An acquisition seems to be a good time to cut some problem workers.

        6. This Daydreamer*

          She’s going to look bad if TPTB find out she’s covering for someone who is incompetent and taking credit for someone else’s ideas.

        7. Agatha31*

          Ugh. Run, Fergus, run! You can do better! He’s not dealing with one Mary – he’s dealing with *two*. *Two* people who can’t be bothered to do their job, and instead have decided to let him suffer the consequences of it – for THREE YEARS. Because what the heck was Mary’s boss doing the two years prior to the acquisition when Mary was, presumably, still Marying? Mary’s boss is punishing Fergus for being a hard working, talented employee and rewarding Mary for being … Mary. That’s a fantastic strategy, assuming the long-term goal here is to end up with an office full of Marys.

          I sympathize with Fergus a LOT here because I work for a boss that also just won’t deal with performance issues, even really, really blatantly bad ones where we’ve ended up with consequences that we were still dealing with *years* later. Even ones I’ve approached boss about multiple times with very solid reasons and evidence of the employee’s complete ineptitude and unsuitability for the position. Guess who ended up not only having to hold the bad employee’s hand for ridiculous amounts of the work day every day, and also *still* had to fix issues that *still* weren’t done right and *still* went out to the client wrong when the client came back to boss justifiably angry and wanting a fix *now*? Spending all that time on their work meant my own productivity and quality levels were also impacted severely, and yes, I literally felt like I was being punished for being the high performer. Thankfully, due to outside circumstances, not one of these highly unsuited employees has made it nearly three years at a time. It amazes me that Fergus has lasted this long with that kind of work atmosphere. I think I would have gone mad, and possibly tendered my resignation via throwing myself out the nearest window – closed or not – and running directly to the nearest employment agency.

          1. Chaordic One*

            Yes, run, Fergus!

            I’ve seen similar situations where Mary, knowing that she looks bad in comparison to Fergus, becomes ridiculously critical of Fergus and ends up firing him based on flimsy complaints, only to have the whole department crash and burn in his absence.

        8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I apologize for piling on, but your boss is going to look a lot worse once higher-ups realize what a disaster Mary is. Not terminating a person who is incompetent and misrepresents the work of others would make me think much worse of a manager than terminating that person.

        9. Observer*

          If you are already this involved, then what I said about this not being yours to handle is besides the point. So, say to your boss “you know how valuable Fergus is. We’re going to look REALLY bad if he walks out because of her.”

    3. miyeritari*

      Mary’s boss should do her job and fire Mary, and promote Fergus into Mary’s job. That way the people who are actually doing the work get paid for it, and Mary is out of here.

      Mary’s behavior is super crummy, but Mary’s boss knowing about it and not saying anything is catastrophic managing, especially if there aren’t extenuating circumstances to firing Mary (ie: she’s part of a union)

    4. Observer*

      This is not yours to handle – at least not directly. The one thing you can do is to support Fergus when HE goes to his great grand boss. And that’s what he needs to do. Sure, it’s tricky, but it’s the only option.

      You don’t want to lose him, I get that. But I were advising him, I would tell him to start looking elsewhere. So, perhaps suggest to him to talk to Great Grand Boss in a few months when things settle down, and promise to support him, as you see what’s happening and agree that it’s bad management.

      And, your colleague is an idiot.

  6. Anon Anon*

    Oh I don’t even know where to start. So, the good news first: I was officially offered (and accepted) a position at one of my dream companies and I’m really excited and it feels so surreal, though I expect the rosy tint to go away once I start working there.

    I’m waiting for the background check to complete (probably right around the time they want me to start) but I’m concerned it’ll show me as unemployed for the past year because I’ve been freelancing by selling designs through third parties and have done a couple temp. weekend jobs (think sites like Rover or Care) but not enough to file taxes. Basically, I don’t have any invoices, stubs, etc. to prove it and to make matters more difficult, I didn’t know how to answer one question on a tax form so I just said unemployed (they said if you were unsure, to just say yes and they’ll check). I’m certain the rest of my background is clean, but I don’t know how much weight they put into my past year as it really doesn’t have much to do with the job I accepted. I really want to tell everyone about this exciting job but I’m paranoid it’ll get yanked or something and now I’m anxiously waiting for the middle of next week to hear.

    That aside, if everything is a go, this will be my first time working as a contractor for a company (though I’ll be considered an employee with their recruiting agency). If I’m told I’ll be working onsite, I know they have a lot of perks for their employees (onsite gym, free snacks, etc.). Would I be allowed to partake in these or would that be considered a faux pas as a contractor?

    1. Future Analyst*

      Since I assume you didn’t lie during your interview and claim to be working full-time/whatever during the last year, I think the background check will be just fine.

      As for your last question: this varies on a company basis: some give their contractors access to anything and everything their regular employees have access to (minus medical, etc. benefits), and others have strict “NO CONTRACTORS ALLOWED IN THE GYM” stances. Just ask them!

      1. Anon Anon*

        Yeah, I didn’t lie (on resume I have it down as freelance/self-employed) and I did tell my recruiter when she asked for availability that it would be after a certain date because I had a temp job that weekend.

        And thanks, guess I’ll ask my recruiter or future boss when I start ^.^

    2. Argh!*

      I thought background checks were just to weed out felons. If you didn’t lie on your application, not having an employer for a year shouldn’t be part of that. It would only matter if you were in prison for embezzlement during that time!

      1. Anon Anon*

        True, and my record is spotless as you can get. I just got anxious when it says background checks employment history as well because there’d be no way to verify my freelancing.

    3. Camellia*

      Just ask! Unless you are the very first contractor they’ve ever had, this should be an easy question for them to answer, and it really does depend on the job. I’ve worked as a contractor as several companies and have seen differences. For example, if snacks, drinks, coffee, etc. are in common areas, they are generally there for everyone. On the other hand, department lunches or other company functions are usually for employees only.

      If the gym requires a scan card with a particular access, which many do because you have to have doctor’s permission to use the facility and you won’t be given access without it, again just ask. All they can do is say no, it’s for employees only.

      1. Anon Anon*

        Nah, this company regularly hires contractors. I don’t want to give too much away, but they’re in an industry where it’s common for as much as 50% of their staff to be contractors. Didn’t know about needing doctor’s permission first though, so definitely keep that in mind if I’m allowed.

    4. Can't Sit Still*

      Most places will let you know what you’re allowed to have/do as a contractor. If they don’t, ask, because sometimes they let you find out the hard way that you’re not supposed to do something.

      One place I worked didn’t allow contractors to eat any of their food and they definitely weren’t allowed in the gym. They also restricted where contractors could sit: Employees sat in front of the line, contractors sat behind the line, no exceptions. Work-related conversations only, no going to lunch or having coffee together. Contractors weren’t even supposed to talk to each other during the workday, much less to employees.

      Other places are the complete opposite, or at least, not nearly that bad. (If you end up in a place like the former, feel free to start searching for another job immediately. You’re a contractor, so it doesn’t “count” the same way a perm job does.)

      1. Anon Anon*

        Yeah, reviews are mixed about contractors at this place. Some feel they’re treated as second class citizens, others are ok with it, etc. But none directly mention what they can/can’t do. But definitely going to ask now if they have a rulebook on what I can and can’t do as a contractor.

  7. Kris*

    This has probably come up before, but I searched the archives and couldn’t find anything so I thought I’d ask here.
    I’ve been working in my current job for almost 4 months. When I accepted the position, it was because I Needed A Job Right Now, not because this is my dream workplace. It is in my target industry, but I barely make a living wage and I don’t love the work (my long-term goal is to shift to a different area of the same industry). This week, I found a job posting from my dream institution that I am qualified for and pays better than my current position. I know that dream jobs can turn out to be nightmares, but wouldn’t I be insane not to apply for it? Or does working here for only 4 months damage my application enough to not make it worthwhile. I would need to include this job on my application because it solidifies industry-specific experience, but I definitely don’t want my current employer to know I’m job-searching. People talk in professional organizations and while I really want the job, I don’t want a black mark on my record.

    1. BigSigh*

      Do it! Not ideal to leave quickly, but as long as you don’t do it all the darn time, it’s worth the chance.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Also, if you take into account Ama’s post below (new hire handing in her notice to take up a job she was interviewed for 6 months previously), the interview process could take a while.

        I have certainly come across people who only spent a few months at a job before moving elsewhere, so it is possible.

    2. Future Analyst*

      I don’t think there’s any harm in applying, unless your industry is very small and people at your current place would find out you’re applying, in which case I suggest you ride it out for a while longer.

    3. Fabulous*

      Agreed – I’d address your short stint at your current workplace in your cover letter too. You could say something like, “I realize I only just started at Llama Corp. recently; however, since the teapot field aligns much better with my experience and desired career path, I would hate to pass up the opportunity to throw my hat into the ring.”

      1. Rainbow Hair Chick*

        You can do this but I’m pretty sure that you can only do it once. Best of luck to you!!

        1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          Good point. I meant my comment in the context of the dream job, not a regular practice. Thanks for clarifying.

    4. Kindling*

      Putting my Alison hat on here. I think she’d really recommend you not include your current job on your resume (and I would too) but that you should apply.

      4 months is not long enough to solidify industry-specific experience. It just isn’t, unless you’re in some extremely unusual and specific circumstances. If there’s anyone in your industry you can get a second opinion on this from to find out if you’re really in those unusual circumstances, I’d do that, but I’d really caution you against putting too much importance on 4 months of work. The four month stint is much more likely to damage your chances than help them. A 4 month break in your work history really isn’t that bad.

      But otherwise, you should go for it, and just count on burning the bridges at your current employer. Be apologetic, but understand that they will be justifiably annoyed. Do not include them as references or on your resume in future if you get this new job.

  8. Christy*

    My favorite coworker just got a new job in a different division. I’m being transitioned most of her tasks, and informally, I’m also replacing her as my boss’s emotional support. Seriously, I’m really happy for her but MAN I hadn’t realized how much of her job is emotional labor. Luckily the emotional labor has helped her advance drastically so that will be a nice eventual perk.

    1. Argh!*

      Do you *have* to be emotional support for the boss? You’re a different person. You can have a different relationship.

      1. Christy*

        Honestly, doing the emotional labor serves her and will serve me because it gives you influence with the boss that others don’t have. Plus you end up with the high-profile assignments because he trusts you.

    2. A Nonny Mouse*

      You don’t have to do the emotional labor as well as the paid-for labor within the job description.

  9. dragonflyteapot*

    My male-dominated office wants to organize an office outing and the two proposals are go-karting and paintball. I am female and not interested in either. I feel like I should go just to remind them that there are women in the office, but I also just don’t want to. I suggested an alternative I’d be more interested in, but no one else seems interested. Should I just go?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Is it mandatory? And, if it’s not mandatory, do you feel it will hurt your standing at the company if you don’t go?

      1. dragonflyteapot*

        It’s not mandatory, and the only consequences I’m worried about are the “not being seen as a team player” thing – we don’t do many office outings at all, so it’s one of a few chances to be “social”.

        1. Argh!*

          There are men who don’t like those things, too. Paintball especially wigs me out — you are shooting at your coworkers! How can that be a good thing?

          And yes, you should go. Whether you participate is up to you, but you should show up. You’d be seriously outvoted if you proposed build-a-bear!

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              Yeah, I wouldn’t necessarily say paintball is a gendered thing (unlike a strip club), but in a male-dominated office, it’s difficult to say for sure. That said, whether the activity itself is gendered in any way or not, the fact that she’d be the lone woman (one of only a few women) sitting it out would certainly not help her on the “team player” front.

              1. blackcat*

                The only thing that codes paintball as male (to me) is that many paint ball places do not have proper protection gear for women (nothing that fits boobs). So sometimes women can’t even participate. I’d check with the facility to make sure they’re female friendly.

              2. MsChanandlerBong*

                It’s not a gendered thing, but it’s kind of an ableist thing, especially if anyone in the office has a non-obvious disability or chronic illness. I wouldn’t physically be capable of paintball or go-karts, and then I’d have the added embarrassment of being the one who always screws up everyone’s fun plans due to her medical issues.

    2. Manders*

      I’m a woman and I would love both those outings. I wouldn’t mention gender in your objections, because those aren’t really gendered activities, and you can’t really speak for all the women in your office.

      If there’s something else specific that bothers you about these–price, timing, not wanting to get hit with paintballs, whatever–mention that. Just don’t make it about gender and don’t presume all the women in your office would be equally unhappy with these activities.

      1. dragonflyteapot*

        of the six women in the office, I think one would love those outings. So while I know that they’re not gendered activities, there’s definitely a gender skew. I don’t really plan to object since it’s not mandatory; I’m just torn between wanting to skip out and feeling like I should go to be recognized as part of the office and not be seen as antisocial.

        1. Susan K*

          I would just treat it as a coincidence that most of the women aren’t interested (and add me to the list of women who think those things actually sound like fun). You can say that there are several people who don’t want to do those things, and suggest an alternative, but honestly, I would be pretty offended if another woman decided to speak for all the women and say that women wouldn’t want to do paintball or go-karting.

          1. Agatha31*

            Yyyyup. To have my name dragged in as “we shouldn’t do this activity because one entire gender doesn’t want to” would make me livid, particularly since I’ve already had to spend most of my life fighting off people who think that the gender I was dealt at birth somehow predetermines a LOT about me that is not true, and frequently offensive. I get where dragonflyteapot is coming from, but “we shouldn’t do those things because girls don’t like those things” is a super, super offensive way to approach it, and damaging to those of us who would, and who are already very tired, thankyouverymuch, of a lifetime of experience being excluded by guys who think that way and don’t even bother asking/deliberately exclude me because they don’t want my gender there, and being used by the women who think that way as an involuntary member of the argument against doing the activity in the first place. Also I’d be pissed if it worked and I was out an afternoon of fun goofing off because “oh you wouldn’t have gone anyway because you’re a girl.” That’d be a great way to get your ass paintball gunned on the way into work the next morning (by a completely different person with absolutely no connection to me, because I’m a girl, and I don’t like paintball. Oh what, are you looking at the paint all over my fingers? Yeah, that’s from my early-morning porcelain teacup painting hobby. I mean, I’m a woman! What would I know about paintball guns?)

            IMO if this is a one-off and most people are excited to go, it would be long-term not really helpful to try and change the whole trip. Why not ask if an alternate activity could be arranged by those of you who aren’t interested in the one activity? If you’re out of the office anyway, and if it’s a group thing, well it sounds like you’re not the only person not interested in going but who would like to participate in a group thing, so you could try running that by your boss – particularly if you do have other office members who are also interested in doing something else. Of course even then you may end up with one or two people who just aren’t interested in either, but if a couple of options are offered for the same day, it’s a great way to offer variety for anyone, of any gender, to at least have some choice in the matter other than “do x or do nothing”.

            If this group activity thing is going to be a regular activity, I think there’s plenty of value in lobbying for more variety just for the value of broadening one’s horizons – e.g. yes, if the only reason you don’t want to go is that you *don’t want to*, then do go paintballing or go karting this time, and – borrowing someone else’s idea – try a cooking class next time. There’s lots of value in this that doesn’t boil down to “gender predetermines what you think is fun”: you’re taking into consideration people who may have limitations (e.g. medical conditions, or even just something in their past that makes them nervous of physical contact/roughhousing) on physical activity, you’re broadening your own horizons by trying out things you wouldn’t normally do and offering the same opportunity to others in the office. Potential issues: no matter what you choose, there will be people not interested. There will be people who feel left out. There will probably also be people who don’t like group activities at all who’d like to just sit quietly in the office and do the work they agreed to get paid to do, thankyouverymuch.

      2. Future Analyst*

        +100. I wouldn’t bring gender into it. I would also love those activities (I’m a woman), and know several men who would not enjoy them.

        1. Thlayli*

          Yup don’t mention gender at all. I’m a woman and I love paintball and hate go-karting. I don’t think my gender has anything to do with it.

          That said I think if I were u I would push for go-karting as it’s 1 less painful and 2 easy enough to tag along and just watch which isn’t really an option with paintball

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I would like go-karting and hate paintball. And Thlayli makes a good point about watching if you don’t want to actually do it–that would still give you the opportunity to network before or after the activity. I assume there will be some socializing then. If I’m with people who are doing something physical I don’t want to do but I still want to hang out with them, I volunteer to be the fan in the stands. :)

          2. Antilles*

            The last part is a great point.
            Go-karting places usually have other stuff people do along with it (arcade games, skeeball, stuff like that), so there’s lots of unrelated social activity and options to sit around and chat with people. And even if everybody is karting, since the karts are open and the track runs right past the spectator area, you can still cheer and act like you’re part of the group.
            Paintball places however, are generally exclusively paintball in a big open field. So if you’re not actively playing, you might as well be on another planet.

    3. BigSigh*

      Ahhh, well I’m female and both sound awesome to me.

      Maybe just send out other options, but if one gets chosen, I don’t think it’s necessarily a gender thing.

      1. dragonflyteapot*

        I don’t think it’s a gender “thing”, per se, but I do think of it as a gender-skewed thing. Regardless, I don’t object to them planning it, I’m just debating whether or not to go. For some reason I’m bothered by the idea of an “office outing” where only one woman shows up, which is what would happen if all of the women decided based on our own interests (we work closely with each other and know each other well; only one of the six women is into this kind of thing).

        1. Bleeborp*

          Just go and encourage the other women to go, too. Go with an open mind (you might actually have fun) or plan to lightly participate and socialize in between the action. I’d guess a go kart place also has arcade games or skee ball or something else that you could entertain yourself with. Sure, it isn’t your ideal form of entertainment but like you said, just being present will look good. If you go and at least appear to try and have fun it will help prevent the (unfair, but likely) impression that all the women in the office are sticks in the mud.

        2. Blue Anne*

          I get what you’re saying, but I think you need to let go of the idea that gender has anything to do with it. Everyone has been invited to an activity regardless of their gender, and it’s an activity both men and women in the world enjoy and can participate in. Your particular group of female colleagues doesn’t happen to be into it. Correlation, not causation.

          If you think you should go because it would be good for professional development and colleague relationships, go.

        3. BigSigh*

          That would be unfortunate. Hey, if it’s clear that most women in the office aren’t going to go for the options, I think it’s worth pushing forward another option (gently). At least then there will be a broader range of options next time something is planned?

    4. Manager Mary*

      Uh I’m a woman and I love go-karting and paintball. Dislike whatever you want, but please don’t blame it on your genitals (or mine)! Sometimes everyone likes stuff you don’t like; sometimes no one likes the things you like. Only you can decide if your love of social time with your coworkers is greater than your hatred for their chosen activity.

      If I were you I would consider attending a go-kart event, but not paintball. At least in my area, most go-kart facilities also have food, arcade games, air hockey tables, TVs, etc. There would be plenty to do and plenty of ways to interact with your coworkers while they aren’t racing. But the local paintball places are pretty much just paintball and you’d be bored if you didn’t play. Of course YMMV depending on what your local facilities are like.

        1. Manager Mary*

          Unless one must use a penis to operate the paintball guns or go-karts, ain’t nothin’ gendered about it. But regardless of how dearly one wishes to cling to their tired gender norms, I’m just saying, OP is better off playing along or sitting out. If she gets this outing (which clearly most people in the office DO want to attend) shut down because it isn’t “girly” enough, the men will be pissed because they can’t go and the women will be pissed that they can’t go AND that OP took it upon herself to get them all labeled as whiny baby fun haters.

          1. Laura*

            Let her suggest a cooking class, without any use of a penis to stir the batter, and see how non-gendered the guys in the office think that activity is!

            1. Trillion*

              Uhm…. What? First you can totally stir a batter with the penis but it won’t get the lumps out well. Secondly I know plenty of men who would enjoy a cooking class unless it’s intentionally overly geared to women. Thirdly a cooking class would be an odd choice for a work outing.

              Let’s remove the genitiles for a minute and look at it like this; 80% (arbitrary number) of employees of company A are interested in the proposed event options. 20% are not. You will never find an event to please 100% of people unless you have a very uniform group of people. Unless this is the only company outing of the year don’t push back. Most of your coworkers want to go.

              I say go and don’t participate but see if you can be on the setup committee or keep score or something or don’t go and go to the next event.

              1. Lison*

                We had a buy out and there was a “getting to know the other side of the new organisation” get together. First night after the work was over we went to dinner and it was hard to chat to anyone who wasn’t beside you. Second night we went to a place where we all cooked a meal with lots of dishes with written instructions and the instructors overseeing but generally letting us get on with it and we all talked, moved between teams and generally bonded. It was great. And the best team building exercise I’ve been part of. So it can be teambuilding.

            2. Manager Mary*

              I think suggesting a cooking class for the next outing is a fine idea. Lots of men like to cook. My husband teaches cooking classes as a side hustle and there are always men in his classes.

              Again… hang on to those tired ol’ gender norms as long as you like, but a WHOLE bunch of us are over here in 2017 having a great time not worrying about whether it’s “girl” or “boy” thing to go to a work outing or prepare ourselves food.

              1. Laura*

                I love your sassy way of talking, Mary, you’re a firecracker! But I was asking about the guys in her office, not what your whole bunch feels like doing in 2017, though you sound enviably worry-free from any sort of gender-specific norms, which I’m sure you’re passing on to all the kids – shared toilets in schools, all kids allowed to wear skirts and makeup without any pushback from the adults, no worries with kids identifying any way they want, etc etc. Paradise and totally enviable, I couldn’t support you more. Good for you and your bunch!

                But I’d be interested to hear back from *her* on this, which was what I asked.

      1. Trillion*

        I agree. As a female myself both of those events sound like a lot of fun. But if you don’t want to do the activities at least push for go-karts because there will be plenty of time for socializing and networking between races. You never know some males in your office may not be into either but would be up for some hangout time with good food.

    5. CAA*

      My office did an offsite at a go-kart/laser tag place, two activities that don’t interest me. The main part of the day was work meetings, with lunch and dinner provided, and then the “fun”. I sucked it up and did the go-karting, but I told the CEO (after he asked, I didn’t seek him out) that I was passing on the laser tag because I just couldn’t see shooting at my colleagues, even with toy guns. I said it with a smile and a friendly tone of voice, and it was totally fine. I don’t think anyone else even noticed.

    6. Ghost Town*

      Maybe approach it more as “no everyone wants to do such physical activities with their co-workers” and/or “let’s consider activities that can accommodate a range of activity levels.”

    7. AnonGD*

      So my boss called a mandatory team meeting last year, everyone arrived, and then he announced that he’d planned a fun go-kart outing for the entire team that we were all leaving for… immediately. A solid 80% were excited and participated… but he seemed shocked that the other 20% or so (admittedly mostly women, including me) had NO desire to participate.

      There were enough of us that we just sort of gathered around a table and socialized while everyone else played. The one thing that helped a lot is that there was food and we were all at least able to eat and it felt less awkward to not play that way. If you don’t want to upset the apple cart with a whole new event, maybe just suggest that a meal be part of the festivities that way those that don’t want to play can still participate and be social?

      1. Trillion*

        I can see being annoyed at not having proper clothing but I am having a hard time wondering why people were so upset?

        Was this on your day off or caused you to miss other personal obligations?

        I’d be super psyched that my boss tried hard enough to plan a fun bonding event that might help work out aggressions and blow off some steam instead of yay… pizza again or woot… jeans day. Even if go-karting isn’t something I’d do on my own I’d try a lap or two and spend time having fun with coworkers.

        1. fposte*

          I don’t think she’s saying the people were deeply upset–she’s just using the colloquial phrase “upset the apple cart,” which means turning the thing over.

          1. Trillion*

            Well the fact that she capitalized no in her statement “NO desire” leads me to conclude she at least felt strongly against this and I’m curious as to why.

            Heck my office had a catered bbq even instead of the usual sandwiches and pizza but I don’t eat meat at all. I wasn’t upset and I appreciated that the employer was giving us quality food and taking the time and effort to get creative. So even though it’s not someone’s ideal I always wonder why some people feel so strongly that offices should please 100% of their staff. I’m not meaning it in an insulting way I just don’t see anything wrong with the boss for trying to get creative.

            1. Someone else*

              For me, these aren’t mutually exclusive. I can appreciate the thought from the company to do something a little less standard and still be upset if the thing they choose is one I have zero interest in. At least in my experience there’s an awkward sort of demand for appreciation with these things. Like if I’m not excited I’m rude. I don’t begrudge those who like the activity but if I don’t I’m not going to fake enthusiasm. They don’t need to please 100% of the staff, but they can’t then demand you be pleased.

    8. AshK434*

      I just want to point out that being a woman doesn’t automatically make you not like these sort of activities. I’m only pointing this out because of the following sentence: ” I feel like I should go just remind them that there are women in the office…”.
      I’m a woman and would love either of these activities. Don’t make this about gender. Just propose another idea.

    9. Kelly*

      I wouldn’t assume they are excluding you because of gender. I LOVE go-karting and paintball. Sounds like you gave your proposal and they didnt like it. So don’t go to the event. Easy solve.

    10. Agent Diane*

      So this is an inclusion issue rather than an equality one, and it’s working against its own objectives if the aim is team building through social activity. There may be men who also feel excluded by the choices. So it’s not really building a team, is it?

      If it’s something you feel you need to do and you don’t actively hate, go along, hide your dislike and get the benefits. Then use the social capital from going to find out what other activities others like and propose two more inclusive ideas for the next team outing. You may never get something you love, but you can influence how inclusive it is in future.

    11. Liz2*

      Is it too late to suggest bowling? It’s an activity, but not an outdoors get sweaty exertion thing.

      I didn’t think about this when I was younger, but now I know so many older people have mobility issues and a lot of people are struggling with some everyday pain that isn’t noticeable in an office environment but makes physical stuff really a struggle. It just ruins the entire point of the “team building.”

      Another good one is- assembling bikes for charity.

    12. Mandy*

      Just a slightly different perspective on this–have you ever done either?

      The reason I ask is my department had a activity that was golf-based. I like miniature golf, but find anything else golf related boring. It wasn’t miniature golf and so I thought I wouldn’t like it or be interested.
      Turns out I had a blast! I scored terribly which I was totally expecting, but I had so much fun. I want to go to that place again.

      This may not apply in your situation if you have tried them and know you don’t enjoy them, but maybe push for the lesser of two evils? Is there one that doesn’t sound as bad to you?

    13. Ruh Roh, Raggy!*

      FWIW, I’m female. I used to work on a team where I was the only woman, and we played paintball *regularly* as a group. I was one of the more enthusiastic participants, bought my own gear and everything. I have some great memories of those days. The company even paid for the food for a few of these events, and as a team we built an elevated platform to use as a fort. (It didn’t hold up, but it was still fun to build it.)

      So, just adding to the pile on that no, paintball is not only for men.

      But everyone on that team was enthusiastic about it. I would like to think that if some of the team members weren’t excited, we’d have found additional ways to bond.

      1. Ruh Roh, Raggy!*

        Oh, I forgot – we did Go-Karts, too. I wasn’t so excited about that (primarily because I wasn’t any good at it), but I participated for the bonding aspect. We were a very close team.

        However – paintball does actually hurt. It hurt more the older I got, which is more or less why I stopped playing. I can get why it’s not everyone’s thing, and I can also imagine there are plenty of men who would feel like they “had” to play to maintain an image, even if they were uncomfortable with it.

  10. Loopy*

    Weather caused office closing: do you get paid? Not talking huge devastation but 1-2 days. Curious as to if there is a norm out there.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Are you an hourly, non-exempt employee? If so, you might not get paid, because it’s not technically a vacation or sick day… it’s just the office being closed. If you’re exempt, you’ll probably be paid.

      1. Loopy*

        I should clarify- I know our policy does not offer pay during office closings. We can work remotely if that’s possible for our position, use leave, or just be unpaid.

        I’m just curious is this is fairly normal for salaried employees.

        1. ThatGirl*

          That was standard for my last job – we had a huge blizzard in 2011 and the office was closed for two days; those of us who could work remotely were encouraged to, but PTO was also an option if you had it, otherwise it was an unpaid day off.

        2. A.N.O.N.*

          It’s my understanding that salaried, exempt employees cannot have their salary reduced if they worked at all that week (or something like that – can anyone else weigh in? Maybe it’s dependent on state?).

            1. Admin of Sys*

              That’s how it works for us. We’re exempt, but since there’s an option to take a day off w/out pay, you can voluntarily choose to do that, or use a paid time off day. But then we can all work remotely, assuming there’s still internet. I’m pretty sure the idea is that if you can’t work from home, you don’t have vacation left, and you don’t want to take the day w/out pay, then it’s your responsibility to travel until you can successfully work remotely.

            2. CAA*

              Yes, that’s my understanding too. If the company closes the office for less than a full work week, even if closure is mandated by the state, they cannot require exempt employees to use leave without pay on those days. They either have to give the pay for the closed days as a gift or they can require employees to use PTO.

              Not a weather related event, but we dealt with something similar during the last government shutdown when we got stop work orders on our contracts. The orders came mid-week, so people were required to use up their PTO (or borrow from future) for the Thursday/Friday of the first week. Then when the shutdown also ended in the middle of a week, we just did not restart work until the following Monday in order to avoid having the same thing happen again.

    2. k.k*

      The only time I’ve been paid for weather closings was when I was in a really small office (3 people), and the owner was pretty casual about time off.

    3. A.N.O.N.*

      If you’re exempt and you worked that week, your salary cannot be reduced.

      If you’re non-exempt, then you technically only have to be paid the hours you worked, so no. Some companies might still pay a non-exempt employee for the hours they were scheduled to work, but it’s not required.

    4. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      The way we handled at my old job was that salaried would be paid (they could work from home anyway) but hourly would not. However, if we were open part of the day and people got sent home (this was always snow related) then policy was to pay everyone for the rest of their shift.

    5. Sualah*

      I work for a big company, but if they make the call to close the building and send people home (for whatever reason–there was a fire in one of the buildings just recently), then yeah, we get paid. Some people have laptops and will be expected to work from home or alternate locations (depending on how long the closure is for). With other weather things (Harvey and Irma aftereffects come to mind), there’s also policy that if the building is open but you have a legitimate problem related to the weather/issue (child care, roads closed, etc), then you also get paid. You just have to get management/HR approval.

    6. Camellia*

      I work for a fantastic company in Florida and when the office is closed, if we are able to work remotely then we do, otherwise we can take it as administrative leave and still get paid. This is for both exempt and non-exempt.

      However, they do know how ‘reasonable’ the remote work may be. For example, we have to tell them our evacuation zone. So they know if we are in Zone A or B then we will probably not be available at certain times. And they decide special circumstances on a case by case basis, such as in my husband’s case we absolutely cannot be without electricity so we were allowed to evac early because they know I can work remotely and still be very productive.

    7. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

      Our company pays up to 3 days if we close a branch for extenuating circumstances and they cannot go to another location to work their regularly scheduled hours. For example: Houston – we closed our branch (obviously) and continued to pay those employees for 3 days because there are no other branches nearby for them to have transferred to. If we had not been able to re-open after those 3 days, we would have found a way for them to “work” so that they could continue to be paid in some way (work on professional development, work on compliance trainings, work on busy work from another department, etc.)

    8. DivineMissL*

      Government office here. If the governor closes the roads*, then we stay home and get paid. If the roads are open, we are supposed to come in BUT if we don’t feel we can get to work safely, or have to come in later in order to shovel out the car, etc., we can use vacation or personal time to get paid for all or part of the day. This is helpful when my son’s school has a late opening due to ice but I still have to go to work.

      *Often the governor will declare a state of emergency in order to mobilize emergency procedures, but that is a separate issue from recommending that people stay home so the snowplows can clear the roads vs. actually forbidding anyone from driving.

    9. Admin of Sys*

      Not at the current job, rarely at the previous one. Where I am now, if the university closes and specifically tells us not to come in, then we either work from home, burn a pto day, or take it as a day off w/out pay. At the previous university, that was the case 99% of the time, but it was possible for the university to close and grant an inclement weather day off, where exempt folks got paid normally. (hourly folks were still not paid, iirc.) However, at said university, they granted an inclement weather day only once in ~12 years.

      Previous corporate offices were similar to my current situation – they’d tell us we couldn’t come in, but if we wanted to get paid, we’d have to use a vacation day.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      This has only happened to me once–during the 2007 ice storm the weekend of January 12-14. My work was closed Monday following the storm and all hourly employees got paid for that day. It did not count against our vacation time. It was unavoidable–we had an inch-and-a-half of ice (yes, really) all over everything after three days of freezing rain, and nobody could go anywhere safely. Power was out almost all over town, too.

      I ended up being out the next day as well, because BossWife was supposed to be answering the phone and I left a ton of messages and nobody ever picked up or called me back! I was in another town; I had to evacuate to find shelter because everything in MyCity was full or had no power. But I didn’t get in trouble, since it was obvious I had tried to contact them. I did have to use a vacation day for that.

    11. Murphy*

      At my old employer I was hourly, working remotely was not an option. So no work, no pay.

      Currently I’m salaried (non-exempt). We are allowed to work remotely if we can, and then no time is lost. If we don’t, we can use leave, otherwise we have a certain amount of time (60-90 days) to make up the missed time. I believe our pay is docked if we don’t? But I always work remotely, and most people usually have leave to take, so I’m not positive about that part.

    12. Gaia*

      For my office, it really depends. Salaried employees are not required to use PTO for office closings.

      Hourly employees may have to use PTO but it depends on the scenario. If the office is closed before the work day starts, you have to use PTO. If the office is closed midday and you can work from home but choose not to, you have to use PTO, if you can work from home and choose to you just do that or if you can’t work from home you are paid for the remaining part of your day. However, if the office is closed for multiple days (it was a few years ago due to a safety issue involving weather) anyone who can work from home is expected to do so but if you cannot you will be paid your normal wages without having to use PTO.

    13. JanetM*

      My university will generally declare weather emergencies as “Unscheduled Administrative Closing,” and release most staff (exceptions for police, some maintenance, and some dorm / food workers) with pay.

      On the other hand, if the university doesn’t close but an employee can’t get to work safely (and we are encouraged to use our own best judgment) or has to arrive or leave early, then we are supposed to make it up or take vacation time. To the best of my knowledge, this applies to both exempt and non-exempt, but I could be wrong.

      Faculty are a whole different set of rules, and I’m not entirely certain what theirs are.

  11. Thinking about whether to be anonymous or not this time*

    This is something that happened with a coworker and related to work, but it feels more personal. I’m feeling emotional about something and would like some logic to talk me down.

    Backstory–Company reached out to me with an opportunity. I turned it down for reasons and referred another cw friend of mine. That cw used me as a reference, which I gave. CW left for new opportunity–better hours, less stressful work, benefits and way better pay than my job. Before he left, we talked about possibly bringing me on once he’s settled in. I was really enthusiastic about the opportunity.

    Once he left, he said he’d start hiring in 3 months. 3 months came, he says he’ll hire an intern.

    I mean…..logically he didn’t lie. I know jobs change, there’s budgets, etc. I AM NOT ENTITLED TO ANYTHING!!! I get that. But the few times we’ve talked since then, I just have this tiny nagging feeling and I feel like crap rest of the day.

    I know it was wrong of me to expect ANYTHING. I’m trying really hard to be logical and not emotional.

    I KNOW I am not entitled to anything but I can’t help feeling like I was used. That I helped someone, and now that person cant or wont’ help me. Maybe they never had the intention and just faked a friendship to get me to help. I’ll never know. I confided in a few trusted people and this was the consensus, that the person used me.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      You were offered this opportunity and passed it along to someone else. I think you need to let it go.

      1. Thinking about whether to be anonymous or not this time*

        Yes, you’re right. I know this doesn’t make me sound good at all, I need to let it go.

    2. Amtelope*

      I think it is a big leap from “can’t” to “won’t.” It seems most likely that he doesn’t have the budget to hire someone at your level, which is why he’s hiring an intern instead. I’m not sure how that’s “using you” — you would have referred your coworker for the job even if you hadn’t hoped to get anything in return, right?

      1. Thinking about whether to be anonymous or not this time*

        Yes, that makes a lot of sense. I liked the person (still do), so yes I wanted to help them out.

        Intellectually I know nothing bad happened, but I guess it will take more time to shake the crappy feeling.

    3. k.k*

      Next time you talk to him, I’d casually bring it up like “How’s the job going? Do you still plan on expanding the team down the line?” It’s possible he had every intention of bringing you in, but things changed, and he’s avoided telling you directly because people like avoiding awkward conversations.

    4. Sualah*

      No, you’re not entitled to anything (and you know that), but you wouldn’t have even been thinking about the possibilities if he hadn’t said he’d be hiring in 3 months. It was shady of him to phrase it that way. He should have said nothing about hiring in 3 months, or, at least acknowledged the change. He didn’t even have to address the indirect hint about at least giving you a shot, just say something like, “Wow, how things change in 3 months! I thought I was getting a team, but now I just have budget for an intern.”

    5. Thinking about whether to be anonymous or not this time*

      I’m ashamed for even feeling this way. I’m not entitled to anything, and I need to move on ASAP.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Respectfully suggesting “wrong road”.

        I see two parts to this story.
        Part 1 is obvious, you got shorted a job.

        Part 2 is less obvious. And this is the part where we don’t stand up for ourselves. The next thing that happens is we feel we have lost some of our own power.
        So. What would you like to do to take back your power in this situation?

        I’d advocate, for saying, “Hey, Bob, we had talked before about an opening. You know, I am still interested. How is that looking on your end?”
        If you feel uncomfortable you can build in an easy out for Bob. “Bob, you know we were talking about an opening for me a while ago. I have been looking around and before I decide to apply else where I was wondering if I should wait on your opening a bit longer. What do you think?”

        He may have forgotten. He maybe waiting for something better to open up for you. He may think that you are not interested anymore for some unknown reason.

        Sometimes we have to ask directly. And we don’t. Generally this is because we are afraid of the NO word. So decide how you will handle that NO if you hear it. “Okay, Bob. Thanks for being honest about that anyway, it is not always easy to tell people no. So I respect your honesty and I can now plan accordingly. I appreciate your time here.”

      2. Anion*

        Stop being “ashamed” for feeling that way. You can’t help your feelings. I’d feel the same way in your shoes. You helped someone out and thought they’d “pay it back” in a certain way; of course you feel kind of cheated about that.

        But you rightfully understand that such feelings aren’t helpful and are probably a bit unfair. I agree you should ask the person about it, as others have suggested. “Hey, were you still thinking of…?” and see what the response is. I bet it is a budgetary thing, and I bet once that’s explained your negative feelings will go away.

        Aside from that, though, stop beating yourself up for being disappointed that an expected opportunity hasn’t come through. Any normal person would feel disappointed. But you, yourself, are deciding not to let that feeling flower inside you anymore. (Tell yourself that) your friend is a good person who isn’t able to help you at the moment but hopefully will be later, and remind yourself that you’re pretty happy with your own job at the moment.

        It may take some time, but the feeling will fade.

    6. Jesca*

      They may have very well used you. Or, the company itself might have changed pace on its hiring. The fact that he says he will be hiring an intern kind of forces me to lean this way. They have decided to not offer perm positions right now.

      With that said though, if this was not just some network hook-up (more formal) and was in regards to an actual friendship, this person should be upfront with you about this. Also, if it was more of just a network thing, then they did not actually just use you unless they made very specific promises on getting you a job contingent on you providing them a reference. Even then, though, that is no reason to be providing references for someone in the first place. Depending on the nature of the relationship with this person, you could just ask. But honestly? I don’t think you need to take any of this so personally.

      1. Laura*

        I think you’re behaving really well in acknowledging that you’re not entitled to anything and being irrational, and there’s a piece missing here, because how have things changed so much for you that almost as soon as he got hired you were champing at the bit to move with him?

        I’m guessing that it’s not him you’re so cross with at all but yourself, and once you work out what was going on there, you’ll be able to move on (because one can’t move on without working this kind of this out!).

      2. Thinking about whether to be anonymous or not this time*

        That’s why I feel crappy for feeling this way, there were no specific promises. The person didn’t do anything wrong. I know I”m taking it too personally.

        1. Laura*

          It;s not the promises. It’s why you didn’t take the job in the first place and then pivoted so fast. I don’t mean to be at all harsh, but *that’s* the thing to figure out. Did he maybe take a risk you didn’t want to take? I’m purely guessing here.

    7. NaoNao*

      I think you might need to revisit the reasons you declined the job that later went to the CW. Were they on your side (ie, the commute, etc) or were they concerns about the job? If they were on your side, have the significantly changed, or are you just “grass is greener” with former coworker?

      Perhaps outright asking him politely and professionally would help, at least clearing the air.

      “Cyril, this may seem odd, but honestly it’s kind of nagging at me: I could have sworn you said you would be hiring full time regular employees after about 3 months in the role, and then it changed to interns. As just a personal favor to me, could you fill me in on what changed? I was really excited about the possibility of coming on board at XYZ org and understanding what changed will set my mind at ease.”

      Something like that, more formal or more casual as needed.

      I think this person would have to be a borderline criminal mastermind to fake a friendship knowing you would turn down a job and that he would for sure get hired—so many moving parts there! It’s just so unlikely.
      How did he “use” you? By using you as a reference? You turned down the job. If he found out about the opening at the same time, subtly one-upped you in the interview, then used you as a reference, that would be “using” you.

      As it appears to me, you weren’t interested in the job for whatever reason. You turned the opportunity over to him. At that point, there was still no guarantee of him getting hired, even with your assumedly-glowing rec. So ask yourself: is it helping me or hurting me to focus on feeling “used” or taken for a ride.

      I would refocus on finding a new job. It’s clear that it’s time. Get that resume polishes, get those rec’s in order, and start job searching. Doing something proactive often helps with circular, damaging thinking. Good luck!!

      1. Thinking about whether to be anonymous or not this time*

        Its a mix of both, grass is greener and it’s better pay & work. I turned it down mostly bc I had no reason to leave. Now I do.

        I have refocused my efforts. I got a rejection today, but I’m optimistic.

    8. Zip Zap*

      You didn’t mention why you turned it down. What has changed since then? Do any of those reasons still apply?

      It could be a bullet dodged sort of thing. But I would stop expecting this person to help you out, and stop worrying about what his intentions are. If you really want to work there, look for other opportunities, maybe something you can apply for directly that would be a good fit. Or reach out to the person who contacted you initially. Leave your ex-CW friend out of it.

      And if it’s not the one place where you really want to work, look elsewhere. Maybe you can find something better.

    9. Ramona Flowers*

      The people you confided in are not being helpful, however much you may happen to trust them. This isn’t really about opinion. None of you are mind readers – none of you can possibly know what’s actually happened here.

      You did turn down a job there though? That’s left me a bit confused. Is it possible you’re regretting that and maybe displacing your feelings onto this other scenario?

      1. Thinking about whether to be anonymous or not this time*

        I turned it down bc I wasn’t ready to leave my current company. Something (or some things) happened that changed my circumstances and now I’m looking to leave.

        I think that last part is it, I do regret turning it down bc it was something that came to me. Now, things changed here and I have to start looking. I know the time wasn’t right bc I didn’t want to leave then but it’s like… when I didnt’ want or need it it came to m,e now that I want/need it, I have to work super hard to get it.

    10. neverjaunty*

      You understand this makes it sounds more like you used Bob? That you passed on the opportunity to him with a reference to keep your foot in the door via making him owe you one?

      Definitely reach out to Bob and let him know you’d be interested in an opening. But if you’re seeing this as being used, acknowledge what you really mean is he reneged on your quid pro quo.

  12. Susan K*

    My department’s management sucks. I often get the sense that they hate us employees and relish any opportunity to put us in our place. The latest example of this is our department meeting that we have first thing every morning. We used to have it in a conference room in a building adjacent to our department’s office, until last year, when our management had our office completely remodeled to make space for a conference table. This required us to have smaller desks, which was a bummer, but the convenience of having our own conference room was some consolation.

    Today, our manager announced that, starting Monday, we’re moving our daily meetings back to the conference room in the other building. When I asked why, the manager said that there are too many distractions in our department conference room, citing examples of people getting up to pour a cup of coffee or microwave their breakfast in the middle of the meeting (the coffee maker, microwave, and refrigerator are right next to the conference table).

    I had no idea that management had a problem with this, and I bet nobody else did, either, but instead of, say, asking people not to get up to pour coffee or use the microwave during the meetings, they jumped straight to punitively moving the meetings back to an inconvenient location. That’ll show us! I’m not even one of the culprits, because I eat my breakfast at home and I don’t drink coffee, but I’m getting punished along with those who broke the rules they never knew about.

    1. Sadsack*

      Pouring coffee is one thing, but are you saying that people in the meeting got up from the meeting to use the microwave? That’s pretty rude, in my opinion. Anyway, yeah, they should have just been asked to not do that any more. I wonder why your manager handled it that way!

      1. Susan K*

        Hm, it’s never really bothered me when people use the microwave during the meeting. I don’t see why that would be more rude than pouring a cup of coffee. It does annoy me when people are playing with their cell phones and clearly not paying attention to the meeting, but as long as they are still listening while they start the microwave or pour coffee, I don’t personally have a problem with it. I think it’s reasonable for management not to want people getting up during the meeting, but if that’s what they want, they could just say so instead of punishing all of us.

        1. Gaia*

          Microwaves are loud and smelly. It would really irritate me if someone used a microwave during a meeting. It also irritates me when people play with phones.

          1. Liz2*

            But it’s weird that mgmt. wouldn’t just say “OK guys, meeting starts at 9, no phones or interruptions anymore.” I also hate meetings that start RIGHT at when I get in. Much better to give people at least a few minutes to settle and be focused. But if everyone did meetings efficiently…

    2. Argh!*

      The people at the top always know best! No solution that the lower-downs could propose could possibly be the best solution! Don’t complain. Don’t ask questions. Sit down, shut up, and comply.

      (Quoting from what I imagine my boss would say in that situation if being honest were an option)

      1. anon24*

        My old boss’s favorite thing to say “remember, you need this company way more than the company needs you” followed by “it’s my job as a manager to get the most out of you for the least money”.

        Kind of ironic that I quit my job to go to school and while we’re struggling going from 2 incomes to 1, we’re surviving, but 2 months later my job is still listed on Indeed and when I spoke to a co-worker a few weeks ago he said they were having a very hard time without someone in my position :)

        1. Laura*

          Wow, yes, opening the fridge, using the microwave and eating breakfast during a meeting are pretty bad. I’d be angrier with your co-workers than with management, frankly.

      2. Mazzy*

        I felt punished like this by a director that didn’t like me personally back in the day. One day she changes part of the approval processes for quite complicated changes from email to phone, so I had to spend hours per week calling and recalling other managers and when I finally got them it was “uh um I need to look at that in writing…..I don’t know…’s complicated…..uh I have to go into a meeting so yeah, I guess approve (complicated list of things)”. It was uselessly complicated, time consuming, and counterproductive. It would be like approving a contract over the phone I mean don’t people read them first?

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I hope this new meeting room does not have any windows, because you know, people might stare out the window during the meeting. /snark

      A meeting first thing every morning. I am having a tough time imagining what would be so important that everyone had to meet every morning. It sounds to me like people think the daily meetings are ridiculous and a total waste of time.

  13. Nervous Accountant*

    I had a call with a recruiter this morning. I’ve been talking to him off and on since June, and I referred a few ppl to him. I came across an opportunity through Glassdoor and I sent it to him, along with my resume and a short email that I fit the job description, I’d like to talk more about it etc.

    So we talked today and he said that the client is looking for someone with a bkgd in public accounting from a large CPA firm, looking to transition to a smaller company. Im in public accounting but this isn’t a CPA firm. I was a little disappointed, bc aside from the CPA firm part, I think I fit everything they wanted–I didn’t argue about it though. We just talked about my resume, recent events at work, and next steps. I think I handled the call well.

    I don’t know, should I have argued about this? made a stronger case that I’d fit the job description? Does it look bad on me that I just said “OK I understand”?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I think he’s a bad recruiter. If you match what they are looking for other than the CPA firm part, he should still present you.

  14. EddieSherbert*

    I’m on a small team of four (including my manager), and we don’t feel like our manager supports us or has our back. She lets us get blamed for her mistakes (which are minor but add up over time).

    For a personal example, I learned that my grandboss thinks I struggle with attention to detail, because I occasionally miss semi-important or useful information in the Teapot assembly instructions. Which he doesn’t catch until final product, so it’s a decent amount of unnecessary work to fix.

    But in reality, most of the time it’s my manager’s work. Manager rewrote something of mine, manager gave me the outline and I just had to make it look nice, or manager did the work and just asked me to post it (then everyone sees I posted it). This probably happens once every 4-6 weeks.

    And manager never owns up or says anything that they were involved. To me, yes, we discuss it. But to the group or her manager (my grandboss), no.
    And usually it’s bought up in a way that I don’t know how to address it AND let them know I didn’t do anything wrong (ex: department-wide email saying: Eddie, I caught this mistake, fix it).

    I finalllyyyyy talked with my two coworkers (manager’s other reports) and they say they run into the same thing all the time (and both have been around longer than me).

    How do we address this? Go to our manager as a group? All mention individually? Is this a “go to grandboss” thing?

    1. Amtelope*

      I think the most productive way to approach this would be to talk to your manager about what processes you could put in to place to prevent these errors from getting through: “Hey, Bob, several times the instructions have ended up containing errors, and that makes us look bad to Grandboss. Can we include a QA step where I check the instructions against (whatever documentation would let you catch the errors) and document that I’ve checked them? This should be the last step before this material leaves our group, so if you need to make last-minute changes, we should QA the document again.”

      1. EddieSherbert*

        The “QA/check over” is technically covered; she has me (and everyone else in department) send everything (emails, social media posts, documentation, etc.) to the whole team for review (mainly only she reviews it) before posting.

        It’s just in the QA step that mistakes sometimes get added!

        (the answer probably is I need to take more time for an in-depth re-review again after she reviews it, but goodness that’s frustrating!)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I had a grandboss who was fond of saying “crap rolls down hill”.

      If it were me I would launch a self-defense campaign with my immediate boss. “Peach, boss. I got blamed for X happening with Y report. Let’s build a plan so that mistake never happens again.”
      And I would do this for each mistake. Yeah, after about the tenth trip into the office I am getting to be a pain in the butt. I will say, it did make the boss think about dumping the garbage on me.
      Be sincere and come up with logical case-by-case solutions. What wears people down is the constant autopsies. “Great. Here comes NSNR again. We have to autopsy the last situation with Grandboss now. This is NOT fun.”
      It might take 6 months or longer to get through to the boss. Be sincere and be professional at all times. You can say things like, “I don’t want Grandboss thinking I am a bad employee. I must fix this.” Keep doing it over and over.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        Haha, this would probably be atleast as effective as trying to talk to her, if not more! I will definitely keep it in mine for our next “situation”.

  15. Ama*

    Well, my new hire of two weeks gave notice this morning. Apparently a job she interviewed with six months ago called to offer her 10K more than we’re paying her. We are both handling it professionally (thank goodness I have been reading AAM all this time — I had some scripts to fall back on when she told me) but it is super frustrating, especially as I am in the first week of my eight week busy period.


  16. PinkElephant*

    Do salary exempt employees have any protections when it comes to hours worked? Can an employer demand you work 12 days straight (12+hours each day) and fire you if you refuse because you need one day off? Can they demand you work 30hours straight right before a deadline or do I have protection if I say I need to go home and sleep despite an upcoming deadline?


    1. Emmie*

      I only know of protections for nurses, and truck drivers. I am admittedly not an expert on this. That’s a really crappy and unhealthy schedule at minimum.

    2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      I know some states have mandatory breaks for certain hours worked, but that varies state to state, and some have no protections for breaks at all.

    3. Construction Safety*

      In the US:
      No, not really.
      Yes / Yes.
      Yes / No.
      Your employer sucks and isn’t going to change.

    4. K.*

      I know a number of people, particularly in client-facing roles, who work bonkers hours when a client demands it. My ex is an ad exec and when I met him, he was coming off a 12-day-straight project; my accountant works basically constantly from Jan. 1 – April 15 (he owns a small firm with 15 accountants); trial lawyers are slammed before a big case. I think it just is what it is. Being asked to stay up for 30 hours is unacceptable and I’d quit over it, however.

    5. NaoNao*

      Sadly, there’s no legal protections for unreasonable or even unsafe hours. I think you can certainly bring it up in an exit interview, put it on Glassdoor (or even on your personal social media, if you feel like it won’t burn bridges) in a professional way “Company X required me to work the following shifts and when I declined to work 30 straight hours, I was fired.”
      I think unfortunately as a country (in the USA) we are moving towards a “work is everything and you are never off” model. Younger employees straight out of college often have a magic combo of tons of youthful energy, not terrific judgement about how much sleep they really need, and a strong need for a job, any job. Employers can then exploit this combo to their advantage. When they get worn out, toss and replace. Callous? Yeah, for sure.

    6. Gaia*

      Federally? No (except for truck drivers, but I don’t think they are salaried exempt and possibly nurses but I’m not sure if those are federal protections). Some states have maximum days-in-a-row laws but I don’t know of any laws about the number of hours worked in a row (like a 30 hour shift).

    7. Phoenix Programmer*

      Actually a protection that could work for you potentially is minimum wage. If your salary is low enough that your hourly wage for hours worked is effectively less than minimum that’s illegal.

  17. Be the Change*

    I have someone who is quite a low performer, and I know, of course, that the way to handle it is to document everything and evaluate accordingly. Aside from the ridiculous amount of time and mental energy this takes in a unionized environment, that could be spent on better things, how do I protect my…spirit, I guess? Sorry for putting it that way. What I mean is, it’s not great for my own well-being at work to always be thinking about someone, *and writing down*, “this is wrong, that was wrong, bitchbitchbitch.” How do I handle that?

    1. Susan K*

      I have a good friend who was a manager at a previous job (also in a union environment), and he often told me that this was the worst part of that job, because dealing with low performers was basically extra work on top of his normal workload. I guess all you can do is keep in mind that this is an important, albeit unpleasant, part of your job, and it will make your team better in the long run. Just out of curiosity, is your goal to terminate this employee or improve her performance?

      1. Be the Change*

        That’s an extremely good question. I don’t really want to terminate the person because I don’t think they’re employable elsewhere and I can seriously see a terrible outcome such as homelessness resulting. We may be re-organized and this position will in that case disappear; but the organization as a whole is large enough for reassignment. So I guess I’d like to improve their performance enough so that they would not be such a disaster in their next position.

        ….but, this has been going on for literally more than a decade, LOOOONG before I came into the picture. None of the person’s previous managers have been able to help them improve performance, and I know in at least one case there were accusations of unfairness and even civil rights violations in response to justified criticism.

        1. neverjaunty*

          It isn’t your job to fix this person’s life, and you shouldn’t be spiraling into What If anxiety territory about how they’ll be be homeless or whatever.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          You might just have to accept what you can’t do.

          You’re not willing to fire them. Multiple managers have tried and failed to improve their performance, over a period of more than a decade. Unless your management is generally terrible, at least some of those managers will have tried documenting and communicating with them. They lash out with accusations in response to reasonable criticism. And in your judgement, they’re incapable of acquiring or holding down a job at a reasonable level of performance.

          So I’m not sure what documenting and evaluating is likely to do, beside give you a headache. If they are unable or unwilling to change, and there are no real repercussions for their low performance, things aren’t going to change. The best thing might be to re-arrange duties so their incompetence has a minimal effect on the company and their fellow employees – give them make work, or stuff where it doesn’t matter if it’s not done, or done badly.

      1. Be the Change*

        My REAL job is to provide excellent educational materials and experiences to our clients. Every minute I spend documenting the person’s errors is a minute I am NOT spending on creating and delivering that education.

        (Of course the same could be said for time spent on AAM ;-) if I didn’t learn a lot from here that I can actually use and share with others.)

        At this point the person is the broken stair; we all step around them and have pretty much relegated them to unimportant, non-time sensitive stuff.

        1. Argh!*

          If supervision is part of your job description, then addressing performance issues is indeed part of your “real” job. It may not be your favorite part, but your employer has entrusted you with that responsibility and presumably your pay rate is based on that responsibility.

          Supervision does indeed take time when you do it right.

    2. Argh!*

      p.s. re: documentation

      You’re not supposed to keep a running list of grudges to spring on the employee at performance evaluation time. You’re supposed to be documenting all the ways that you have been trying to help the employee to perform at an acceptable level. The union rep will want to see evidence of progressive discipline. If you are the only one who knows that Fergus has been missing deadlines — and Fergus doesn’t know it’s a problem — all your list making is worthless.

      Documentation should include email followups of conversations about xyz, written warnings with Fergus’s initials or signature, a performance improvement plan, etc.

      1. Be the Change*

        Oh, groan. Yes, that’s all true, and I appreciate you laying it out like that. MORE time and energy…… But at least not a list of dings.

        1. Argh!*

          Your HR people can help you develop a plan. They know the union contract inside and out and have no doubt dealt with contested firings.

          When I worked in a union environment, I was able to overcome an objection by citing part of the union contract that the employee had violated. That contract is a two-way street, so it’s worth getting to know what it says.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Adding, you are basically showing the union how it discredits the union for the union to keep defending this person.
            Definitely read the agreement between the company and the union. Also get a hold of the union handbook, that tells the union member what their responsibilities are.
            I know you have a million other things to do. Once you have read this, you will know it and you will not have to trudge through it all again.

            Depending on your setting, you might be able to send out feelers by talking with a union rep. ” Ugh. I don’t know John, Fergus just is not working up to par no matter what I do or say.” You might be shocked at what the union rep says to that.

            1. Argh!*

              The union isn’t “discredited” when it defends someone. That’s one of the things the union does. Employment lawyers are expensive, and people at the income level that unions typically represent can’t afford them.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Soul crushing prevention:

      1) This is finite, this documenting process. Even if it takes a couple of years, it’s still finite. You will not do this forever.

      2) You will work into this documenting stuff. You will get faster at it, you will learn what is worthwhile to document and what is not. And you will develop an easier to use system for documenting.

      3) As a boss you owe this to your team. I would tell myself, “This is not optional. The group absolutely needs me to do this.”

      4)Thinking about doing is often worse than actually doing it. It won’t be long and it will become a part of your day. Once you see it in action, you will realize that it does not consume your whole day.

      5)Use the lost time as motivation to keep you going. It’s not fair that you lose time on this when you could be doing real work. Whoa, wait. The actual truth. It’s not fair that this employee causes you so much trouble that you have to lose time from real work. Use your anger here to sharpen you, to help make you more thorough and more on target with effectively getting this employee to shape up or ship out.

      6) The concern that this employee will end up homeless is beyond the scope of your job. Hang on to this thought. Remember that your concern for his homelessness is something that you bring into this situation because you have concern for your fellow human being. But as an employee yourself if you are forced to chose between this person and the best interests of your employer, you have to chose the employer.
      This one is a tough one. I always think to myself we are each responsible for how our lives play out, and no one else is. It seems like a few bosses have tried to help this person, as this has been going on for a while. He has had plenty of time to change course and chose to refuse help and refuse to change course. One person is not going to be able to fix a problem that is this entrenched in another person. It will take a team of people helping him. If he wants help, that is.

      1. Academic Librarian*

        I had just this experience with a union employee.
        The stress of a PIP that last over a year and 1/2 was miserable.
        The documenting was a part time job
        Then there were the grievances (unfounded but the meetings and documenting for those was overwhelming)

        What worked…
        my mantra was “this too shall pass”
        HR reminded me often that there are people who would be a good fit for this job who were dying for this kind of rare position.
        That I was an excellent manager and supervisor as the evidence from previous experience and long time mentees who have continued contact with me over the years.

  18. Anon for Stress Relief*

    Thanks to everyone last week who reminded me about the importance of regular exercise and self care. I realized I’d been letting that slide due to the stress. I can’t do a workout during the work day, but I’ve started using my lunch hour to take a walk and it is really helping keep me from being a nervous wreck by the end of the day! I also started getting up half an hour earlier to have a nice slow breakfast, which puts me in a good state for the work day. Sometimes a few little changes are enough to make a big difference.

    1. SJ*

      Yes! I recently started working out regularly and I feel so much better. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve been rewatching The Office during my cardio :)

    2. Berry*

      If you’re on Twitter, I recommend checking out the bots @aloebud and @tinycarebot – they’re specifically designed for reminding you about self care. Aloebud is also working on a self care app that’s going to be released early next year (their kickstarter just ended)!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Very glad to hear this.
      My friend was having work and home problems so she took up walking at lunch. This was years ago. Now she runs every night after work and she has done a few 5ks. I can see the improvements in her and she says she is feeling much better. Not much in her situation has changed but her thinking is more pulled together and she feels stronger.

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      Until very recently, I would take a break in the morning and walk with my co-workers. I really miss that. But no-one wants to go outside lately. We wouldn’t be taking a walk, we’d be taking a smoke break. Exercise is good, breathing is even better. It will be nice when we can do both again.

  19. Minnie*

    You know how with jobs posted on LinkedIn, they’d have that counter that shows how many applicants a job has had – how accurate are those numbers?

    I’m assuming not everyone applies through LinkedIn, so that would be a minimum right? But sometimes similar job postings would have wildly different number of applicants and I don’t know why…

    Also, some of those postings would have a lot of applicants within the same day…which can be quite discouraging

    1. Mirth & Merry*

      Ha, I was just thinking about this yesterday, a job had only been posted for a few hours and already had 20+ applicants per LinkedIn. I suppose there is the whole “apply on LinkedIn” button which makes “applying” easy but probably sends some format of your LinkedIn profile so while the number was high I wondered if there were really that many *quality* apps. (I don’t even know if I could update my resume and write a targeted relevant cover letter in that short of time tbh.) I don’t know that this is helpful in any way just some randoms thoughts.

      1. A.M.Y*

        I think it just tracks how many times the button was clicked (for both “Apply on LinkedIn” and “Apply on company website”).

        1. Corporate Recruiter*

          It could be that the job was posted before and then “re-posted” so the applicants are still there but it was technically reposted 3 hours ago.

    2. CAA*

      For my postings it’s lower than the actual number of applicants I have. I can’t tell which ones came from LinkedIn though, so some people could see the job there and then search out our website and apply directly.

    3. bleh*

      I’ve definitely found jobs on LinkedIn and applied for them, but I’ve never applied directly on LinkedIn. I imagine a lot of others do the same thing so I have to think those numbers are low.

    4. miyeritari*

      I don’t do hiring, but if the “apply on linkedin” button is so easy, i’d look at that pile *after* the other options (like emailing me, or using some internal suggested system). maybe this is weird.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        the easy apply on LinkedIn button isn’t on all job postings so if its there, the company made a choice to include it

        1. Corporate Recruiter*

          Not necessarily true- it will be on all postings that don’t require you appy through the website. My company doesn’t have an ATS that people apply through so all job postings are automatically “Easy Apply”

  20. margarets*

    I’m posting for validation of a thing I’m about to do that some people in my life think is nuts. I’m going to withdraw my candidacy for a job because they want me to do a skills test before the interview.

    More info: The test will be 2 hours (plus my travel time, so more like 3.5), and analogous to a tech whiteboard interview in that they throw tasks at you and if you’re lucky you happened to have already memorized those particular things out of thousands of possibilities. So it’s very much NOT a test of skill or ability. On the job it would be normal to refer to resources to complete various tasks. You’d never be expected to work solely from memory for everything.

    My test score will determine whether I go on to an interview. I asked what versions of the software will be used on the test (that could be very important, depending on what is on the test) and the HR contact refused to say. I wouldn’t be surprised if the HR contact doesn’t know and doesn’t think it is relevant (because they don’t know the field).

    In all it’s adding up to a nasty-filling sandwich that I don’t want to eat. I think the true purpose of this test is to provide a rationale for short-listing candidates, which would be fine if it didn’t cost me 3 hours and there was some way I could prepare.

    Long story but I have been burned on such tests before. I think I was set up to fail on a couple. So my gut is screaming at me “Don’t put yourself through that again!”

    But of course I’ve got people saying I’m nuts and just go along with it and hope for the best, (and even weirdly believing that I really can just study up over a weekend for this), and discounting the emotional wear-and-tear of failing a test because you could only half-remember something from first-year uni.

    Job searching is the WORST.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      The fact that they won’t tell you what version of the software you will be tested on is a huge red flag. I think you’re making the right call.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      If I was in a position to refuse, I would. If they are doing the skills test before an interview, then they are being lazy about hiring and using the test to do their grunt work for them. If the skills test was after the interview, that would be different.

      1. the_scientist*

        Agree very hard with this. It’s pretty typical to include some sort of skills test or technical test/assignment in the interview process in my field. And sometimes, they totally suck– I once got one that had clearly been designed for an internal candidate with in-depth knowledge of a particular specialty (not a required area of knowledge in the job description). I nailed the interview portion, but bombed the technical assignment and left in tears; the hiring manager later told me that I hadn’t done too badly, actually, which was nice to hear.

        Anyway, I don’t think skills test or technical assignments are a red flag in and of themselves- but it’s bothersome that this is a) happening BEFORE an interview (as opposed to during or after); b) the recruiter can’t/won’t tell you what software you’ll be using and c) you have to make a separate trip JUST for this part of the process.

        1. margarets*

          Yeah, and one of my beefs with this is the whole “we’re not giving any clues about what will be on the test”, like the element of surprise adds to the selection process. At least on a uni exam, you know it will be on the course material. This is just “whatever we pluck from an extremely large body of knowledge”.

          And say they just told all the candidates what would be on the test, and the candidates went off and learned it and could do it on the test, or not – what would be wrong with that? Why is it preferable for the candidate to have learned it some other time?

          The whole thing is irrational.

      2. Annie Mouse*

        I think there are some occasions where skill tests first are a reasonable way to assess people. For instance, for my last job, they needed to know whether the applicants had high enough knowledge and skills to do the work required. But it was a short (about 20 minutes) practical assessment. It might just be to do with the culture of working in the UK instead of the US, but I would rather do it that way round than do the interview and then the test and find I passed the interview but failed to meet the requirements in the test.

    3. Manager Mary*

      How will the test be given? Will someone be there, watching you, or you just do it on a computer and hit “submit” when you’re done? If another human is there (or if you have any contact besides the HR person) I would show up and say “I hope this goes well! I did my best to prepare, but it’s hard to know what to brush up on when important details like which version the company uses are kept secret. I hope my resume clearly showed that I’m a fast learner and that, given proper time to learn the specifics of any software, I am more than capable of completing any task for this position.”

    4. Zip Zap*

      I think you’re making the right decision. My experience has been that a company’s hiring process tends to be roughly representative of what it will be like to work there. So if stuff sets off your alarm bells, you’re probably better off not wasting your time. Use that time to hunt for something better.

  21. Hedgehog*

    Anyone have any advice about transitioning into HR from an unrelated role? I have a lot of experience working with people and implementing programs, but no legal training or background in employment laws. I’d prefer not to go back to school and need to continue working full time, so internships aren’t really an option right now. I know I need experience, but I can’t figure out how to get it while working full time! Anyone have any advice about how they got their foot in the door and earned enough experience to make the switch?

    1. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

      Are you able to go in pretty entry-level? I was able to get an entry level role through a temp agency that turned perm. You can apply for HR Assistant or HR Associate roles – those are generally the roles that don’t require much HR specific experience, and are more about soft or transferable skills and attitude, but they may not pay much at that level.

    2. HMM*

      If you have experience with working with people and implementing programs, getting a job in HR should be… not easy, but not excessively hard either. I joined HR partly because it was a business role with little barrier to entry, education-wise.

      My background is general admin, customer service, and program development, and I found a job in HR without any additional training. I did have very minimal payroll experience, which probably helped, but it was more like data entry, not actual payroll processing experience.

      I don’t know how much of a pay cut you can take, but you may have to start from the bottom at a HR assistant job and work your way up. Or, if you’re very good at explaining your transferable skills, you could possibly come in at the level of HR coordinator/representative/specialist. I’ve found most junior HR jobs are all about attention to detail, the right attitude, streamlining processes, and excellent customer service/people skills. If you can show your skills in those, getting into HR shouldn’t be too bad.

      If you’ve been reading AAM for a long time, that will go a long way toward teaching you the more legal/compliance stuff (I have no other education in this except for having read AAM for a looooong time.) You can also just make a list of topics you know nothing about and research it on your own. That’s basically what I do on the job when I don’t know what the right answer will be.

      Good luck!

      1. HMM*

        Also, make sure you know why you want to go into HR and be able to articulate that clearly. When I interview interns and junior HR folks the ones who can only vaguely say that they like HR because they “like to talk to people” typically get a pass from me because it’s not clear to me that they really understand the realities of what HR does day-to-day and the business relationship between HR and the rest of the org. Of course, this is hard to know from the outside, but I want to know that you put in at least some research into the field.

    3. Queen of Cans & Jars*

      I was a teacher for 10 years, and honestly kind of lucked into my position in HR through networking. (Not sure if what field you’re coming from, but I draw on my teaching experience almost daily in my job.) It’s not a very good job (bad management, nonexistent benefits) but I’m hoping to leverage it into a better position. I’ve been here 2 years and am going for a 2nd interview at a better company next week (fingers crossed!!), and I honestly think that what got them to consider me was my cover letter, written with tips from AAM.

    4. A.N.O.N.*

      Agreed with Detective. You can also look for HR Coordinator roles.

      Upon graduating college, I got a non-HR job in the teapot industry. I then found an HR position at a teapot company. Finding an HR position in an industry I was already familiar with certainly helped me get that job (I’ve since left the teapot industry and now do HR elsewhere).

      When applying for HR jobs, I leveraged skills I acquired from my non-HR jobs and made sure to articulate exactly how they will become strengths in an HR department (a killer cover letter should do it). In my case, it was writing/editing/communications. Your experience with people/implementing programs, etc. is a good start. Although, keep in mind that entry level HR positions probably aren’t doing a whole lot of implementing programs – that’s work that higher level HR does (at least in the companies that I’ve experienced).

      Personally, I don’t think there’s any need for extra classes or internships. But the more research you can do to educate yourself, the better. SHRM is a great place to start (also has a great job board).

  22. RPCV*

    I’ve just finished two years in the Peace Corps. Pre-PC, I worked in the public sector and went to graduate school in something policy-ish. I’m casting a wide net in my job search, looking at both public and private sector opportunities. In the public sector, peace corps is well known and my two years and the work I did speaks for itself, especially because it’s directly related to public sector work (think public health and female empowerment). But I’m at a loss as to how to pitch it toward the private sector. Have any other RPCVs made the switch? How was your service viewed/how did you use it to get hired? If you’re on the other side, how do you view Peace Corps? How should I be spinning it? Thanks!

    1. RPCV*

      I should add, not looking to go back to school and totally turn around my career. If I transition into private sector, I’d probably go the PR/communications route. Unless someone has other ideas, I’m wide open to suggestions about what would be a good fit in the private sector for a returned Peace Corps volunteer!

      1. anna green*

        I didnt do PeaceCorps but I was in Americorps, and now work in the private sector, although I work in the field where I have a college degree, so that obviously helped. But when I put my service work on my resume, I try to use the same method as for other jobs and list accomplishments and bullet points that would be transferable. I’m not sure what you did, but I managed people in volunteer groups, and taught classes, and planned events, etc. I would focus on what tasks you completed that would be similar to the industry you are looking for that show leadership or organizations skills etc. For the private sector, the reason why you were doing what you were doing, isnt necessarily as important as what you actually accomplished.

      2. Samiratou*

        I was a health care-focused volunteer in Niger (2000-2002), and I highlighted the cross-cultural communication and leadership aspects of the job–organizing trainings, conducting trainings in multiple languages, working with other NGOs and host country nationals to execute projects in x and y that benefited z number of people, etc.

        I went in right after college (bachelor’s in Chemistry), so job hunting was a bit odd. I came in second on a job working on AIDS education with African immigrant communities (to someone who had more experience with immigrant communities vs. people in Africa), which was a bummer.

        In the end, I ended up in a temp job doing data entry QA, basically, for a company that hired me 3 months later and I’m still with today, but PC did help me get hired and the cross-cultural communication aspects saw me assigned to projects a bit outside what I would have seen based on age and experience at the time. And there are intangibles such as pretty much being able to roll with anything that are hard to communicate in and interview but serve you well whatever you end up doing. Good luck!

    2. Althea*

      Most people in the international development field, including for- and non-profits, know and appreciate PC experience.

      1. RPCV*

        Yes, I’m looking beyond development though, to places that might not be as familiar with it. Casting a very wide net!

    3. Lily Rowan*

      I think the worst-case scenario is hiring managers don’t consider it experience for “counting,” so if you need four years of experience to qualify for a position, two years of work + two years PC wouldn’t get you there. So if you’re open to that being the case, I think otherwise it would be neutral, assuming you’re looking outside of international development or related work and the people doing the hiring don’t know anything about Peace Corps.

    4. valc2323*

      Another RPCV here. While I did go the public-sector route where the experience is very well known and recognized, I still polished up a resume as though I were looking for private sector jobs when I finished my service, because I didn’t know where I was going to end up. Keep in mind this was more than ten years ago though…

      I highlighted a few big ones
      * cross cultural experience: demonstrated ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds on complex, long-term projects. In the interview: talk about how you integrated with your host community, learned to adapt your skills to meet their needs so that you could best serve them. If you are interviewing with companies who work in or near your country of service, this can be helpful too: you know how business models operate within that culture, intrinsically, and you can bring that expertise to bear when your company is trying to position itself in that market.
      * language skills: If you have one of the major world languages like French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, this will be very helpful. If you learned an indigenous language, it may come up again even if you don’t expect it to. I never thought I’d use my African indigenous language again… and then we had that little Ebola problem in 2015, and I spent six months on the ground in Guinea for my organization.
      * flexibility: depending on where you were, you may be used to rolling with the punches in a way that many people aren’t. No running water for a week? I can handle that. No electricity at all? I can handle that. None of my electronic devices work? What electronic devices? etc. PC brings with it a can-do attitude that employers value, so think of a couple of stories to tell during interviews that highlight how you were able to think your way out of a problem.

      Pitch yourself as having a variety of transferable skills, in addition to the above, like…
      * event planning and execution in a low resource environment
      * willingness to seek out information wherever you can find it, and apply to the situation at hand
      * endless patience, for example if you’ve ever spent all day waiting by the side of the road for a car to take you to the town 100mi away so you can go to the bank
      * being quick to learn new things and adapt to circumstances (or you would never have survived the beginning of your service, where you didn’t know the language or the culture)
      * see the value in unique experiences / joy of the moment – that endless wait for a car to go to the bank? a great chat with another woman waiting, who turned out to be both a great friend and someone you worked with to set up a microfinance project… etc.

      1. RPCV*

        This is great, thank you! I speak French from prior study but I now know two additional random African tribal languages. We never had running water of any kind at my site, so I’m definitely good at adapting.

  23. Lizcat Editor*

    I’m a freelance editor, seeking new clients. Does anyone who works freelance know if signing up for professional organizations such as The Society of Editing, Freelancers Union, or The Editorial Freelancers Association would be worth it? I mainly edit fiction, but am open to non-fiction work as well.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Florida*

      I know nothing about editing, but I was a freelancer in another field. If it is a field that has a local chapter of the society and they had monthly luncheons, then it would probably be worth it. You would go to the meetings and meet people. If it is that type of society, join a committee so you will be seen as a leader.

      If it is the type of society that has a facebook page, a monthly journal, and other such benefits, it probably won’t help in getting new clients. (I’m basing this on fields I know. I’m not familiar with these particular societies.)

    2. Anion*

      Are you a member of any writers’ forums or online groups? Know any writers on Facebook? Are any of your clients willing to recommend you online to their friends/groups?

      I used a friend/freelance editor for copyedits on a side project I self-published, and I know if she told me she was looking for clients I’d happily pass her name around to my writer pals–I wouldn’t think it was weird or an imposition to be asked or anything. So that might be something for you to try.

  24. LibbyG*

    Let’s laugh at ourselves. What is your pettiest workplace annoyance? I mean laughably petty.

    Here’s mine. We have some presentation materials in a zippered case. I’m firmly in the camp that says the two zippers should be together top dead center. When I go to open it and both zippers are over to one side, I go through a whole internal routine of GAH! Followed by “Get over it, LibbyG!”

    1. Ally A*

      We have a work room/storage room in our unit and whoever gets here first unlocks and opens the door and it stays open all day. I’m the only person who opens it all the way – it drives me crazy! Everyone else just opens it halfway so it’s blocking half the room. It’s the stupidest thing and I hate it so much.

    2. LizB*

      Our staff mailboxes go in alphabetical order, and the order gets adjusted whenever people leave or get hired, so often my mailbox will slightly shift in position. It used to be the bottom of one stack, then recently became the top of the next stack over. I haaaate when it moves, I’m still not used to the new location.

    3. Amadeo*

      Right now? I hate fluorescent lights and fortunately my office roomie does too, so we have the over head lights off, string lights on a couple of plastic trees and a floor lamp in addition to three windows that allow in a ton of natural light – if the blinds are open. It’s our one point of contention: I want the blinds open with the sunshine pouring in and he prefers them closed because he can see his monitors better with them closed.

      Fortunately we’ve worked it out so that the blinds on my side of the room are open, and the window behind him has the blinds closed, but if he’s gone for more than a day, I’ll open them all up, or if I’m gone for more than a day, he’ll close them all. LOL.

    4. Chocolate Teapot*

      When printing an email which has one of those “For the sake of the environment, think twice before printing” messages under the address block, it means the email is printed on 2 pages.

      1. Bleeborp*

        I don’t get a lot of emails like that but my mom does and it drives her crazy! First off, her employer is a promotional printing business so basically the whole business is wasting paper, this one email isn’t going to change that. Additionally, she’s older and reading on a computer screen isn’t her favorite so she’s going to print some of those emails regardless!

    5. Fabulous*

      When people don’t wipe off the mess of water they leave on the counter after washing their hands. Ick. I seem to ALWAYS leave the restroom with a wet spot on the front of my shirt/pants.

      1. Bleeborp*

        Yes! Always have a lovely wet spot on the front of my clothes if I don’t remember to maintain my distance from the counter!

        My related pet peeve is that we don’t have a staff bathroom. This building was only built 4 years ago and I have no idea why that wasn’t considered. I work at a college library and so I have to go use the facilities in the public bathrooms with the students and it’s just a little awkward, especially if stomach trouble arises (not to mention it’s a long walk and you are likely to be stopped by a student for help on your way!) I basically think it’s inhumane and yet no one else is bothered so I feel crazy. My old library (a public library) had 2 staff bathrooms, it was beautiful!

        1. Death Rides a Pale Volvo*

          We don’t have men’s rooms and ladies’ rooms on the same floor in my building. So I have to go down one floor to use the restroom. Drives me nuts. Can we just not make the bathrooms gender-neutral already?!?!?!?!?! JEEZUM CROW!

      2. SJ*

        My coworkers leave the TOILET SEAT wet. Both drops from the flush (it’s a strong flush and sends up spray) as well as urine. How can an adult not take two seconds to wipe up a wet toilet seat after using it? It’s so freaking disgusting. I accidentally sat on a seat drenched with urine yesterday (the bathroom was dark and I didn’t notice) and I wanted to vomit.

        1. So Anon for This*

          My building is a converted bookstore that should have had more conversion done. My pet peeve is that there is a bathroom in this building that, due to the HVAC placement, everyone can hear what you’re doing from outside. We try to warn everyone about it, but sometimes a visitor or new person will unknowningly use it. Otherwise, absolutely no one uses it. The kicker is, it’s positioned so everyone in my department has to walk by it in order to go to the other bathrooms!

        1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

          We used to have a woman who would floss in the bathroom after breakfast and lunch, which just squicked me right out.

          She’s gone now, so my remaining peeve is that the faucets are the push in kind that gradually let out water until the button is all the way up – I’m sure these were designed to save water, but ours run literally for somewhere between 2-3 minutes (not exaggerating). You also can’t ‘help’ the button come up, you just have to wait. I get such anxiety watching the water just run, it’s awful. Water is a precious resource!

          Facilities has been notified (probably a million times), their response is, that’s not broken and no one is going to fix it. So I’m always kind of enraged and anxious after using the restroom.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            Where else do you expect someone to floss?

            I have a dental implant and have to floss after every meal. Where would you suggest I do it?

    6. a girl has no name*

      I get way too annoyed when I see that the water cooler hasn’t been replaced by the person who used it last, and I have to do it. It takes me 2 minutes and I am perfectly capable, but I get so unreasonably irritated every time.

      1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

        I don’t know how people can use the last drop of anything and just… walk away. I don’t think I would be able to sleep at night. If I use the last square of toilet paper at 3 am you bet I’m flailing around like a blind cave bat in the cupboard replacing it, right then.

    7. A Person*

      My co-workers seem to think we have an infinite supply of paper. We don’t. Even with the reusing, we go through more paper than really needed.

      The reuse system is pretty simple, we have three baskets, A4, A3 and B4 for one sided sheets that can be reused for internal paperwork/scrap and a bin for staples/paper that can’t be reused (two sided/not to size/damaged etc.). My co-workers seem to think sorting is for losers and removing staples makes you a super loser.

      They also don’t seem to know how the ‘print two sides’ button on the copier works and as such will copy ten pages onto ten separate sheets when they could have made five double sided. The one for printing from computer I somewhat get, because you have to go into the properties menu but even that’s a few mouse clicks. (Our printing isn’t colour heavy most of the time so ink bleed is generally not an issue)

      Also, the unneccessary copying. For some reason quite a few co-workers have made copies of something when a list of page/reference numbers would have sufficed. Just. Why.

      I’m going to bed now.

      1. Bleeborp*

        Gotta say, I don’t want to go through all that to print. I don’t print much so when I do, I’d like to just print on some new paper and not have to worry about sorting and unstapling. Do you handle purchasing the paper and your budget is getting cut or do you mean “we” don’t have unlimited paper like the world shouldn’t be wasting trees?

        1. Jesca*

          Yeah I have to agree. Weird story though! I started here about 8 months ago, and like 2 months ago I got this weird email from a gmail account telling me I needed to use both sides of the paper to print! Haha I can count on one hand in those 6 months I had ever printed anything, and they were all under 3 pages! It was so bizarre! The anonymous email. The fact that I don’t regularly print. WTH? So of course, I SHOWED EVERYONE the email and we all laughed. Bet whoever that was won’t be doing that again!

          1. Dragonsnap*

            This is so hilarious! Was the email address like printing/paper related? Paperdoesntgrowontrees@gmail?

    8. CatCat*

      The organization does not supply facial tissues. Drives me nuts. It does supply paper towels. I go in the kitchen every day, get two paper towels, and tear them into four squares each and put them on my desk to use as tissues.

      1. Bleeborp*

        The tissue issue is real! Finally, we somehow finagled getting tissues (used to it was just the employees bringing in boxes and sharing) but not only do employees need tissues, we’re a library and students are steady asking for them!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Giant corp Exjob didn’t either–I bought my own. They did supply coffee, tea, and cocoa, though. Hm. But little OldExjob DID have tissues and we could get a box to put on our desk. Go figure!

      3. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

        Whoever purchases/stocks does not have respiratory allergies. I can always tell the homes of non-allergy sufferers, they ever have any tissues. There’s a box on about every surface in my house.

    9. Susan K*

      I hate it when people push stuff to the back of the shelf. I’m the shortest person in the department, and I can juuuust reach things on the second shelf of cabinets if they are at the front, but when people push things all the way to the back of the shelf, I have to get a step stool.

      Also, there are some readings that we have to take every day from four displays. Each display has three to six readings but only shows one at a time, so we have to scroll through the displays to get all the readings we need. I think it’s common courtesy to put the display back on reading #1 when you’re done, but a lot of people won’t take the 2 extra seconds to push the button when they’re done with their readings, and leave the display on #6 instead. I know it’s petty because it only takes me 2 seconds to put it on #1 when I start my readings, but it still annoys me every time!

      1. Fabulous*

        I have the same issue. I’m not terribly short, but at 5’4″ I can barely see above this one cabinet people like to store printouts that haven’t been picked up. I can’t tell when things are up there unless I stand on my tiptoes.

      2. Anon for this thread*

        YES! I am 5’2″ in my bare feet or flat shoes and oh my word. My high school intern this past summer, was at least 6 feet tall and I could not have gotten supplies for programs from out of the supply closet without him. He was a kind, respectful student, who never once laughed at my shortcoming (Pun intended).

    10. Grits McGee*

      My office is pot luck and bake off-crazy. We have at least one every two weeks going through December, and a couple that are scheduled within a day or two of each other. I swear to dog, if I get asked why I haven’t signed up for the “Cookie Classic” one more time this week….

    11. N.J.*

      My office mate checks the width of a table or column in Microsoft Word by grabbing a physical ruler and holding it up close to the computer screen to measure, instead of using the visual ruler in word or table properties or layout options etc. it doesn’t affect my workload or the documents I work on, so I shouldn’t care but the sheer ridiculousness of it drives me stark raving mad.

        1. N.J.*

          It’s become a running joke with my spouse. Every time it happens I text him to say the ruler is back.

      1. stuff*

        That’s not even accurate depending on your monitor, zoom settings and or view port!

        …I have this rage now too.

    12. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      Overuse of semicolons. Once I found an internal document that had a sentence that was like “Daenerys has three dragons; she rides one of them into battle sometimes; his name is Drogon.” It makes my eye twitch.

      1. Queen of Cans & Jars*

        Mine is ellipses. The president…of our company…thinks…they are used for…emphasis…

        1. anon for this one*

          I just went through training done by someone who used the word “ellipse” when she meant “ellipsis.” Multiple times.

        2. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*


          Let me also throw in the passive-aggressive ellipsis. Effective in conveying the awkward pause and rude for the same reason.

    13. Finman*

      When you finish microwaving something early, push the clear button. If you take the last cup of coffee, either turn off the machine (later in the morning) or start a new pot so the next person doesn’t waste 4-5 minutes waiting for it to brew.

      1. edj3*

        The time left on the microwave!! Huge pet peeve, it’s not like those seconds need to be SAVED. We have no microwave minutes shortage.

    14. Ghost Town*

      I overordered box lunches for an event and put the extras in the fridge designated for leftovers-that-coworkers-are-free-to-eat. Great!
      I grab one to eat the next day, and someone went in and grabbed just the side or just the cookie out of a couple boxes. Why?

      1. WellRed*

        It’s probably the same people who eat half the cookie or donut and put it back on the community plate.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        Because that’s all they wanted, and they didn’t want to toss a sandwich that someone else might eat? I mean, I understand why it’s frustrating when you expect a whole lunch and part of it is missing, but it looks like they were trying not to waste food.

    15. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      We use a clipboard to hold the sign-out sheet for records in a locked file cabinet. It is strategically placed centered between the two cabinets, right on top. These cabinets are in full view of any visitors so we try to not draw too much attention to them.

      The coworker I’m at BEC stage with always – ALWAYS – props the clipboard vertically between the two cabinets. It’s a bright blue flag waving at visitors, drawing their attention. It’s ridiculous and it sets me off every single time.

    16. Emma*

      Not mine… but I had a coworker that would get really upset when both sets of overheard lights weren’t on. That seems reasonable, right? Well the first set are the normal lights, where all the lights down the hallway are on except for two of them. I’m going to estimate it’s like 18 lights. The second set are just those two lights.

      Most people couldn’t tell when the two were off, but he could. For some reason the way they are wired you have to shut them all off to turn both sets on, so sometimes he’d come in mid-morning, shut the lights off, scaring everyone half to death because it’s pitch black without them, and then turning both sets on.

      Since it was 3 seconds of the work day it wasn’t enough to complain to anyone about but we all went from never noticing or caring about the lights to having a distinct opinion, ha!

      1. WellRed*

        We don’t always turn on the overhead lights in our office because the light in the morning is really pretty (from the windows). Without fail, we have one person, from a different office, who will ask “Are these lights off intentionally?” Every.Single.Time.

      2. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        I soooooo want to have the overhead lights off in my office. There is plenty of light from the window, but it’s just NOT DONE here. Drives me crazy.

    17. Crylo Ren*

      Not exactly workplace but grad school (business school) gripe. A professor for one of my classes will often play videos as part of his lecture. His computer is set to open all videos with VLC by default (evidenced by the icons). So all he has to do is double-click the video file and it will open in VLC.

      Instead he will right-click every video, click “Open with…”, peruse the list of programs for about a century and a half, and only then will he select VLC from that list. I know it’s only a couple extra clicks but it is excruciating to watch and I can feel my blood pressure increase every time he does it.

    18. H.C.*

      Weird security settings on my computer that won’t let me just drag & drop (or copy/cut & paste) files from my computer desktop to either my own folder in the network or the hard drive – forcing me to jury rig a system of emailing files to myself or saving them to Google Drive (apparently, I can save to my own folders when downloading attachments or from the browser.)


    19. Jesca*

      When I have to leave in the middle of the day for an appointment etc and someone takes my parking spot while I was gone. Like I KNOW it is not my parking spot, but damn it now I have to drive around finding an open somewhere else! Like those three extra minutes of searching are absolutely killing me! LOL

    20. Tris Prior*

      Someone at my work fills an entire large reusable bag with groceries and leaves it in the fridge at all times. It is already nearly impossible to find a tiny space to wedge my lunch bag which contains ONLY that day’s lunch, you know, like a normal person does – we’ve staffed up and a lot more people are trying to cram their lunches in there now. The office manager put a sign on the fridge telling that person to cut it out as the fridge is for daily lunch only (and, you know, maybe a few condiments, cream for coffee, etc. but not your entire week’s food). The sign ended up torn to shreds and left on the kitchen counter, I guess in protest? This person is STILL doing it.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Hmmm… we recently got an email reminder that the fridge on a particular floor is for your daily food needs, not to store a week’s worth of groceries. Do we work at the same place?

        1. Tris Prior*

          No email here, just a passive-aggressive note on the fridge. Good to know that it’s not just my workplace, though!

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          I am so glad someone gets it!

          I can get A4 writing pads in there if they’re quite soft, but if it’s a chunky booklet or spiral bound then forget it. This may eventually result in me killing someone…

    21. Elizabeth West*

      Microwave wars.

      At OldExjob, people would take their food out of the microwave before it ran out of time and then leave those last few seconds on it. So every time I came in to warm up my lunch, I had to clear it first. >_< And they never wiped up their mess in there, either.

      I thought I was through with the first one when I changed jobs, but noooooooooooo.

    22. Queen of Cans & Jars*

      I have a coworker who does not send attachments, just shares files from Office online, which means to get them on my computer, I have to click the link, select open in Excel, and THEN save the file to my computer! Probably takes all of an extra minute over dragging & dropping, but man it frustrates the hell out of me.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        In fairness, that means you’re getting the most up to date version of the file.

        But I sympathise. I hate when someone emails me a link to a file.

    23. ResearchGal*

      Great topic!

      My direct report cannot remember – or doesn’t believe me when I tell her – that UPS drop boxes can be used to ship almost anything that has a UPS shipping label. We frequently have to ship small boxes or envelopes with pre-paid UPS label, and she always makes a big deal of telling me that she needs to take extra time at lunch or before/after work to walk to the UPS store to drop off the packages. When I remind her that she can just drop them in the dropbox located in our office lobby, she looks at me like I’m crazy and asks “Oh really? Are you sure?” YES I AM SURE!!

    24. Can't Sit Still*

      We have, or should have, a fleet of carts. Dozens of carts, mostly used for catering, but also other stuff. Periodically, they vanish, never to be seen again, usually right when you need one. It doesn’t matter if they are labeled, or engraved, or marked in any way, they completely disappear from the face of the earth. I don’t even care who anymore, I just want to know why.

      Where do they go? Do people take them home? Is there a cart thief who has dozens of them stashed in a storage unit somewhere? They’re not exactly small. No one has ever found a stash of errant carts anywhere on campus. Maybe we have a small black hole somewhere?

      1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

        Different environment (retail: grocery store), similar problem. Each department gets a certain number of carts, but they always go missing and end up in odd places. Or a department *coughMEAT&SEAFOODcough* hoards them. Sharing is caring, guys.

    25. This Daydreamer*

      There’s a chair mat under the desk where I work, and I keep rolling the chair off the edge of it, making it hard to pull up to the desk. I have to keep sliding it further out so I don’t roll off but the damn thing keeps moving back. Since it’s a shared desk I can’t just toss the stupid thing into the dumpster.

    26. Gaia*

      I cannot stand it when people leave glasses of water on their desk overnight. I have no idea why it upsets me. We have plenty of glasses, there is never a shortage and it isn’t “dirty.” Coffee cups do not bother me. Glasses. Of water.

    27. crookedfinger*

      We have nametags that fit over the top of the cubicle wall and are easy to slide back and forth. At least once a week, someone will come over to chat and slide it one way or another. Sometimes they do it when they’re talking to someone else but just leaning on my cube wall. Like…who goes to someone else’s personal space and rearranges it without asking?

    28. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      I am an admin but I also manage the front desk. People always stop by to chat once in a while, most of the time I don’t mind. But one co-worker in particular ALWAYS moved my name plate and tilted it outward, which makes no sense because the people that enter the area come in the other way. I got up once while she was here and moved it back the other way. Finally, when she did it again, I said….”Gaaaahhhh, that drives me CRAZY, don’t do that!” She’s my friend so she chuckled at me, but didn’t do it again!

    29. Buffy Summers*

      My predecessor is in her 70’s and has been working here for 50 years. She likes to do things “old school” – filing in binders, printing out emails, etc.
      The thing that really bites my butt, though is that mo-fracking typewriter. There’s really no need to use a typewriter at all anymore and so when I hear those stupid keys clickety-clacking away my vision turns red.

    30. CrazyEngineerGirl*

      People not replacing items in the bathroom has driven me to the edge or sanity! If you use the last of the toilet paper? Reach over 1 foot and get a new roll out of the drawer and put it on the holder. If you take the last roll out of the drawer? Walk downstairs to the supply room and grab an armload to fill the drawer back up. If you use the last of the hand towels? Grab a new roll and replace it. If you use the last of the soap? Reach under the freaking sink and get the giant bottle of soap and FILL UP THE DAMN SOAP DISPENSER!

    31. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      This is ridiculously petty. We have several spreadsheets here that have a simple add formula. Think “=A1+B1”. Whoever did these originally put “=+A1+B1”. That first plus sign is unnecessary and irks me. I’ve been quietly taking them out every time I see one.

    32. Purple snowdrop*

      This is hilarious. Please can we do it every week?!

      This isn’t mine but is amazing. There are two sets of toilets on the floor I’m on, one on each side. Apparently there’s someone on my floor that gets really angry whenever anyone from the other side of the floor uses the toilets near him. I don’t know who and I don’t know why, but I want to so that I can say look, sometimes my Fitbit tells me I’m not walking enough and if I walk to the other side of the floor it’s appeased. If I walk to the nearby one, it’s not!

    33. Rovannen*

      New Person comes in. She’s in charge of some client files we all have to share (physical files, lol). We had the files sorted by cohort, then alpha. New Person decides all client files must be alpha regardless of cohort. Fine, I can deal with that, extra hour to sort through and collect the cohort when they move on. Unfortunately, New Person’s system is to alphabetize by first letter only. If I had a couple of hours, I could fix it, but it wouldn’t last.

    34. char*

      We track our time on spreadsheets that take in the times we worked on something and converts it into the number of hours worked per project. I log the time I work to the nearest five minutes. Inevitably, my time on every project every month ends up being something like 20.16666667 or 70.58333333 or some other absurd number of decimal places. It looks so messy and I hate it. Sometimes I stay five or ten minutes late just so I can bring the time on a project up to the nearest quarter of an hour.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Could you change your excel format settings so it only shows you two decimal places? Or none?

    35. Drew*

      We have a little wire basket above our bizhub for people’s printouts, faxes, copies, etc. that were left on the machine so that we don’t end up with a huge stack of paper clogging the “out” tray.

      Some people in my office put junk faxes in this basket (life insurance offers, suggestions of “very reasonably priced” industry directories we could be listed in, random other spam) instead of just recycling them like God intended. “Well,” they will argue, “I wasn’t sure if this offer for printer toner was legitimate.” No, it’s not, because we have a contract, so TRASH THE SPAM FAX.

      The fact that we need the wire basket at all because people just — forget? — that they’ve made a printout is its own peeve, but I can see printing something and getting distracted before you have a chance to pick it up. OK, fine. Don’t file spam!

      1. Drew*

        Ooh, and one specific to yesterday: I passed along a request from an out-of-house staff member to locate some project docs on a project I haven’t been working on. (We’ve recently shuffled teams and my coworker needed some old files from before she was on my team.) I specifically told the person I sent this to, “Please send the information back to Jane.” She sent it to me. I forwarded to Jane, copied Esmerelda, and said, “Esmerelda sent this along. You can contact her directly with questions.”

        Jane emails Esmerelda and copies me. Fine. Esmerelda replies to ME and does NOT copy Jane. Not fine. And this happens two more times. The last time, I replied to both of them and said, “This is not my project and I don’t have time to keep forwarding messages. Please talk TO EACH OTHER and, if you think I need to know, let me know what the FINAL outcome was. No need to reply.”

        So, of course, Esmerelda stopped by my desk to interrupt my work and say she was sorry for interrupting my work. GAAAAH.

    36. bunanza*

      Oh, man.

      We have a lot of different forms that we keep on the desk. Each one has a battered, old original that is scribbled on with highlighter. My coworker wants the originals to be at the front of the stack, which makes zero sense to me. So, every time I use the forms (daily) I put the original at the back of the stack, and 80% of the time it’s at the front again when I need it next. It is so petty, but it drives me up a wall.

    37. Loz*

      Leaving dirty dishes, cups, cutlery etc. in the sink rather than in the dishwasher or on the counter top.

  25. Stephanie*

    Hi everyone! Checking in–I was posting sporadically since I was trying to limit my browsing during work hours.

    Internship went mostly well–had a good experience. Wanted to share the good news that they offered me a full-time position! Still trying to figure out whether to take it or not (just wading into on-campus recruitment now).

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Way to go!
      Is my misunderstanding or are you progressing quickly here? It seems like you are moving right along.

  26. Naptime Enthusiast*

    I received a title and responsibility promotion at work a few weeks ago, and with that came the responsibility of being a technical mentor to two new hires, both recent college grads. We all share the same manager, but I am responsible for assigning work to them and reviewing it. They’re both very sharp and easy to work with, I got very lucky!

    One of them is someone I’ve known for years. We went to the same school for undergrad and were part of the same student org (I was a senior, she was a freshman). She also was a summer intern on our team last year before going back to grad school. My manager and our team know that we are friendly and have known each other for years, this is normal in our department. My problem is I find myself getting annoyed with her much more easily than our other new hire. Part of it is having higher expectations of her, seeing as she has her master’s degree and she has worked on our team before. However, it’s also because I am just not the most patient person, and I’m actively trying to work on that while transitioning to this new level of responsibility. Any advice?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I would test each annoyance by asking myself if New Hire number 2 did this, how would I react? If check you reaction level across the board by comparing like this on a regular basis then gradually you can get yourself to react in a neutral, factual manner. Another good way to frame it is to say, “What do I expect of everyone in my group?”

  27. Amy*

    Anyone have advice for dealing with “optional-but-really-mandatory” office party funds?

    Background: I’m in graduate school, I split my time between two campuses. The majority of people on each campus work only on that one. Our lab is a weird situation so we split time. The one campus has a aggressive in email but friendly in person admin (always emails in all caps). That campus has a “Hungry Puppy” fund where every month everyone pays $5 dollars and then that money goes toward snacks for parties, birthday cards etc. The monthly email always reads “FEED THE PUPPY.” or “THE PUPPY IS HUNGRY” and I think its just absurd. My boss doesn’t let us attend their parties and most of the time I am not on that campus when they happen. Is this type of party funding normal? I wish we’d just stick to whatever we could afford in the budget and not do the rest. The over the top cutesy hungry puppy bothers me too, but maybe I’m just grumpy.

    1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      If you aren’t included in what the money is funding I would most definitely not be contributing

    2. Simone R*

      This is how we fund birthday cakes in our lab (minus the happy puppy emails). The puppy emails sound annoying but also not unlike other emails I’ve seen from admins wrangling scientists. Is the email getting send to a lab listserv or individual addresses? If it’s send to a listserv I think you can just ignore it, or if it’s sent to individual addresses I think noting you don’t participate and ask to be taken off is ok. We don’t ask visiting researchers to contribute if they’re not going to be getting the benefit!

    3. Not a regular.*

      I don’t carry cash except on very rare occasions, makes it easy to “unfortunately not be able to give this month”…. every month :)

    4. LizB*

      Definitely don’t contribute money to parties you’re not even allowed to attend! If I were you, I’d set up an email rule for messages from that admin that contain the word “puppy” so they skip my inbox and end up in a separate folder, where I never look at them/delete them all periodically.

    5. Sadsack*

      The emails sound awfully annoying! Since you rarely attend the parties anyway, I would blissfully ignore the emails. If asked in person, you can kindly remind the admin that you never really get a chance to attend any parties, so…

    6. katamia*

      OMG I love puppies but would find that so incredibly annoying. The “everyone chips in a bit” sounds pretty normal to me (and even sending out email reminders), but UGH to the puppy theme.

    7. Birdbrain*

      I would be really annoyed by those emails and I agree that you should feel free to ignore them. If your email program allows, maybe you can set up a rule so that they automatically get sent to your deleted items or another folder.

      (I would be extra annoyed because I would see FEED THE PUPPY emails and for a brief moment would be delighted that there was a dog in the office that I could pet. And then sad, puppy-less reality would ensue.)

    8. Seal*

      If you work for a public university this might be illegal or at the very least against university policy. I work for a large public university and mandating that staff or faculty members donate money to anything is absolutely not allowed. In fact, the department I inherited had a similar, much-hated policy in place that I immediately axed for that very reason. I still don’t know how their former supervisor got away with it.

  28. Manders*

    Ok, so I put my foot in my mouth in the world’s most embarassing way last week.

    My boss was talking about a previous company he’d founded, a lead generation site for people looking to buy expensive teapots. I had happened to turn down a job at a teapot lead gen company several years before, and we got to talking about it, because he knows everyone local in that space. I talked about how the Glassdoor reviews were really bad, and the guy who gave me the job offer was trying to illegally pay me as a contractor while treating me as an employee, and when I walked into the office it was mostly empty and dark with way more computers than people, and the hiring manager didn’t even test me on the skills I claimed to have. Then I remembered the company’s name.

    It. Was. His. Company. The one he founded. The one his wife still works at.

    YIKES. He was really gracious about it, and explained that people in that office travelled frequently and the bad Glassdoor reviews were from years before I worked there, but I was MORTIFIED. I didn’t get any whiff of shadiness about pay or disgruntled former employees at his current company, and the hiring process was run completely differently, so it never even occurred to me there could have been a connection.

  29. Buffy Summers*

    I just found out about a job opening at my brother-in-law’s company. I interviewed there for this same job a few years ago but didn’t get it. I think I have better experience now and am in a much better position to apply than I was at the time. I can submit an application through the state Workforce Connection site and it looks like it’s going to go through an application system.
    Should I go ahead and do that or should I give my resume to my brother-in-law and have him pass it on?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Apply through the system and then ask your BIL to pass along your resume to the hiring manager letting them know that you already applied.

    2. Buffy Summers*

      Upon further research, what I thought was an application system, was a recruiting firm. I’ve never dealt with a recruiter before. Now I’m even more unsure. Does the advice change since it’s a recruiting firm or is it the same?

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Hmm, I would ask your BIL to ask the hiring manager what the best course of action is.

        “My SIL, Buffy, has exp with x, y, and z and would be a great fit for the position. Would you like me to pass along her resume or have her contact the recruiting firm?”

  30. Emilia*

    Advice on how to turn off the ‘dream job’ mindset?

    (I have an interview next week that’s way too good a match on paper, and I’m worried I’m too invested already and don’t want to get hung up on it!)

    1. PB*

      A few years ago, I was interviewing for my “dream job.” At the time, I was in a contract position that was about to run out, with no hope for renewal. The timing was perfect, and I wanted it soooo much!

      Being a reasonable person, of course, I was applying for other jobs, too. 3 weeks before my on-site interview at Dream Job, I got another offer. Deciding whether to take it or not was agony. I needed a job, and this was a decent one, but I was interviewing for my DREAM JOB! After reflection, I decided to back out of the interview for Dream Job and take the offer I definitely had. I couldn’t afford to be out of work, so I couldn’t take the gamble.

      I know the person who got Dream Job. She’s had a terrible time there. They keep changing her job, piling on new requirements and responsibilities, and not giving raises to reflect it. I’ve talked to other people who work there. The place sounds like an HR nightmare. They’ve also gone through system changes I would have hated.

      Turns out, my “dream job” would have really been awful. In hindsight, pulling out of the process was 100% the right thing to do.

      All this to say, dream jobs often aren’t. You just never know what’s going to happen, or what a place is really like until you work there. I’ve heard other stories like mine, though more often they’re of the “I got my ‘dream job’ and it was awful”-type.

    2. Can't Sit Still*

      I was hired to do what I thought was my dream job. I was so focused on the dream job aspect that I ignored all the red flags slapping me in the face. Everyone was so excited for me when I got the job! I was so happy!

      Two days in, I realized that I had made a terrible mistake. One month in, I was fantasizing about driving my car into a barrier wall every day during my commute. It got really, really bad, and it took months to get out of there. Don’t brush off warning signs just because it’s your dream job.

      That said, I was really excited about my current job during the interview process, and I still love my job six months after I started. It’s not what I would have described as my dream job a year ago, but it is a good fit and I enjoy my work.

    3. Emmie*

      I’ve framed it as an “idolized job” or “company I’ve idolized.” It resets my mind to what it truly is . . . something I’ve built up in my mind.

    4. Zip Zap*

      The thing about dream jobs is that they’re often (but not always) lots of other people’s dream job too. This can lead to certain kinds of dysfunction during the hiring process and while working there. If you’re applying for a job or company with any kind of cool factor, it would be wise to be aware of this and kind of screen for it. Try to get a sense of how fairly they treat people and if the people seem down to earth and realistic about things.

      Another thing to keep in mind is that some companies are good at looking good on paper. That doesn’t always mean it’ll be a good place to work. It might just mean that they have an especially strong marketing team or have invested heavily there. Do they have the substance to back it up? Think of some questions you could ask them to parse out reality vs appearance.

  31. Folklorist*

    This is your Too-Hurried-to-Come-Up-With-Something-Witty ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!!! Go and do something you’ve been putting off and then come back here an brag about it!

    I’m finishing up some torturous transcription. Blergh.

    1. annamouse*

      I made a doctor appointment, which isn’t exactly work but finding time to fit in with work was a thing.

      1. Victoria, Please*

        Oh, me too, except it was pedicure, haircut, etc., before our first major event of the school year next week. I treat myself 2x per year before our big events….but I *hate* making those appointments, my lord.

    2. Lady Alys*

      Decluttering – two armloads of empty cardboard boxes taken to the recycling bin and a no-longer-used-but-still-in-good-condition animal carrier in my vehicle awaiting delivery to the local no-kill shelter.

  32. Annie*

    I don’t have offers yet, but I’m considering two different jobs: One is less exciting, but pays well and is the next obvious career move. The other is really exciting, but probably pays about the same and will end up being like 70 hours a week, sometimes late into the night, and a much worse commute. I’m having a hard time figuring out what I would do if I got offers from both!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Maybe don’t decide unless you get offers from both? And if you do, that may put you in a better position to negotiate (with the latter perhaps some work-from-home days, perhaps, or professional development opportunities?).

      1. Annie*

        That makes sense. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here. I hate job searching! If I get one job, is there a graceful way to tell the other company, without it sounding like I’m giving them an ultimatum?

    2. Amy*

      I’d take the first offer. You can always use the non 70 hour week time to build in excitement (do one of the cheap flights searches for “everywhere” and pick one at random, learn a new hobby, join a social organization, etc). Commutes a huge factor for me too, it feels like wasted time and makes me stressed out when I get home.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      I’d consider what you would like to have with your non-work time. Do you have a family? Do you want to vacation? Would you like to write a book, learn a new skill, take classes? Then I’d stick with the less exciting job and give yourself time to work on non-work projects.
      But if you don’t have any plans then devote yourself to the exciting, lots of commitment job. Things may change in a few years, and at that point you may want to move on to a slower position but you will have had a wild ride!

      1. Annie*

        Thank you!! I really appreciate that–I hadn’t thought about it that way! I would like to vacation, but I don’t mind it being in weekend chunks.

  33. GPL*

    How would you screen for ‘dramatic’ workplaces/teams?

    I started a new job a while back and it’s mostly good but my team (and I think the department as a whole) love drama, there’s always something going on (not always major but being reacted to like they are) and always gossip about it.

    It’s just not my style of working and I don’t want to be drawn in to it really. I am not planning to leave imminently but have no idea how to tell from interviews whether another team would be the same.

    1. Fabulous*

      Maybe you could ask during the interview how they handle workplace gossip? Their answer may shed light on how it’s viewed and you could infer from there whether it’s a problem.

        1. Drew*

          “Do the people here mostly keep to themselves when they aren’t teamed on a project, or is there a lot of discussion and idea-swapping about what everyone is doing?”

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            That may not get the intel you really want. We do a lot of discussing and idea swapping but no drama.

            You could ask how the team gets on.

    2. Phoenix Programmer*

      Oh tough one. The most dramatic teams I have worked on have always asked stupid weird questions. We are doing a Starbucks run-what do you order? Or most recently how many sweaters do you own? There is also usually at least one curmudgeon who doesn’t engage when you are being introduced to the team.

  34. Nervous Accountant*

    I’m having issues trusting a coworker/support. He’s a nice guy, and I feel super awful, but…..I can’t trust him with too much work anymore.

    I assign him work and train him but I’m not responsible for disciplinary action >>> my mgr is, and he’s pretty frustrated about this situation too bc he’s getting the heat from our boss (who he reports to and does the “dirty work” for).

    This happened last week but basically, we found out that the cw missed making payroll tax payments for 8 months, resulting in a boatload of penalties for the client, which my company is 100% taking responsibility for (and rightfully so). I sat down with him to look through the software just to see if there’s any room for error, that i’ts ambiguous and he didnt’ know…..but he’s been trained. and the software very plainly says that the payments will not be made.

    Other senior coworkers stuck up for him saying that he wasn’t trained properly, and its a tricky process, but….my manager and I very very very strongly strongly disagree. One month, or one filing I understand. But 8 months worth is unexcusable! I feel AWFUL for this guy. he was very contrite and apologetic about the whole thing. But….I don’t know. I’m worried for him but at the same time, I can’t give him much else to do except simple phone calls.

    Meanwhile, myself and other s get written up, or threatened to be written up, for far less errors that have no financial penalty, but nothing is happening to him.. I feel like my boss didn’t recommend a write up because she wants to somehow pin the blame on me and my manager that he made this mistake when it’s really not our fault whatsoever.

    1. Merci Dee*

      Oh, my gah. I read the part about not paying payroll taxes for 8 months, and got a sick feeling in my stomach. The HR department here where I work is responsible for running payroll and generating the tax numbers, but my boss and I (in the Accounting department) are responsible for making the payroll tax deposits on time. We don’t have to hound HR to get the information to us on time (anymore . . . . ), and we always make sure to drop whatever else we’re doing to take care of that deposit. Our fiduciary responsibility to deposit the employees’ tax funds timely takes precedence over any other work we have going.

      I’m sorry that you’re having to deal with the fall-out from your co-worker’s mistake. And, I have to be honest, I don’t blame you for feeling like you can’t give him any other assignments right now. As you said, it would be different if it were one payment that he missed — you could give him another chance with that. But 8 months’s worth of ignoring software notices that the taxes won’t get paid . . . . . no. I don’t know how he could come back from that.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Yeah, I mean I made a few smallish mistakes in the beginning when I started payroll, but 8 months is a huge issue IMO.

        As much as I like him personally, it also has an element of politics to it? Like others get worse consequences for less errors, but nothing is happening to him. No write up,not even a serious warning or converstaion. It feels like my boss wants to pin this on us for letting it get this far which is totally unfair.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Then if the boss is pinning it on you and others that means you can leverage that. “If I am going to be blamed for X then I need to implement Y so that I see what is going on and I know that the work is correct.”
          It could be that you take X away from him entirely. It could be that everything he does has to be reviewed. Remember you are not punishing him, it’s that since you are held accountable you need to know every single thing that is happening.

          To me, 8 months of the same error says that no one spot checks his work at all.

          Additionally, he went through training and at some point he agreed he understood what to do. So I would speak to him about that. “You cannot say you understand when you don’t understand. You are in a position of trust, you are being trusted to do the work accurately. This means you must say when you do not understand.” These employees that just agree for the sake of agreeing are the scariest. What I have done in the past is have them do one example, I review then they get the green light to do more. But, again, I step in after they have done a few and review the work a second time. If I find errors in that spot check then I review everything they have done. Of course the employee feels tortured, but I remain calm and carry expectations of professional level work.

  35. OG Anon*

    I wrote in a few weeks ago about my boss being paranoid about me getting pregnant and leaving, and as a short but shocking update – she recently announced SHE is leaving! Still processing what this means for me in terms of my job and the culture of my team.

  36. Velvet Goldberg*

    I’m going to do a no no and totally post a question I sent to Alison literally 15 minutes ago (or near enough). Mostly because I think it would be good for me to get different perspectives. The not-so-short version is: Last month I was in a meeting with a coworker and she was sitting next to me. She said something that I didn’t quite catch. When I asked, “what?,” she said “Forget it, you never hear what I say.” Then proceeded to mock me by saying I always ask “what? what? what? what?” Someone overheard her and asked what we were talking about. At which point she said I was hard of hearing and I replied she was making fun of me. Afterwards I just avoided her / avoided talking to her. I’m not hard of hearing that I’m aware of, but I’m older, so it’s possible my hearing isn’t as great as it used to be. This out-of-nowhere weird aggression about things I can’t change has happened before and after. I don’t think this is a big deal, in that really it has no impact on my work, and I’m not necessarily interested in saving the “relationship,” but I do want to maintain a decent working environment with someone I deal with every day and would love some insight.

    1. Thlayli*

      It depends. How is she otherwise. It could be either 1 she is a total jerk or 2 she was trying to be funny and it came out wrong. You’d need to analyse it in the context of her ongoing behaviour

      1. Velvet Goldberg*

        Honestly, it was a little of both. I think she was trying to be funny (and I have no problem laughing at myself), but she was also genuinely annoyed that I didn’t hear her. So much so that she never told me what she initially said.

    2. Manager Mary*

      Are you sure you don’t have a hearing issue or an auditory processing disorder? Like, went to a doctor and was tested and they, the medical professional, confirmed it? Because I had this same fight with my husband, and when he asked his coworkers, he was STUNNED to find out it was a well-known fact that he was hard of hearing. He had no idea that people often had to repeat themselves around him, because he couldn’t hear them the first time they said/asked something.

      Your coworker was acting like a jerk, and you don’t have to put up with being made fun of. But that doesn’t mean she’s wrong about your hearing.

      1. Velvet Goldberg*

        I haven’t had my hearing checked in YEARS. So, it’s absolutely possible that I have some hearing loss or an issue. I’m in my 40s, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that things are starting to get old and creaky. But, I don’t have an issue with her commenting on the hearing moreso that she literally treated it as though my bad hearing was a problem for her. If I do have a hearing problem, that’s incredibly insensitive (I would almost say bordering on offensive) and if I don’t (and maybe she mumbles, I have no idea) then just mentioning the issue would make me more aware of it and try to figure out how to resolve it. Now, I really just want nothing to do with her.

        1. Manager Mary*

          That’s fair. She was definitely acting unprofessionally. If it comes up again, I would say “you’ve mentioned previously that I don’t always hear you. Could you try speaking more loudly and clearly when we talk? Unfortunately you’re the only person who has this problem, so I’m not sure what else I can do to remedy this.”

          Or just tell her to solve this problem by only communicating with you via email from now on, and then say “what?” to anything else she ever says to you verbally. ;)

      2. Laura*

        “Brienne, either I’m a bit deaf or you mumble. If I’m a bit deaf and you’re making fun of me – well, we both know that’s pretty bad for someone to do in a work environment, so I’m sure that’s not what’s happening! So please speak more clearly so we can communicate well.”

        Then yes, get your hearing tested.

    3. Friday*

      She’s definitely a jerk; next time she does it, call her out that mocking you is unprofessional and you do not want her to do it any more. Preferably around other people, so she really squirms.

      But about your hearing – please get it checked out. You deserve to hear properly just like all of us who wear glasses/contacts deserve to see properly.

    4. NaoNao*

      Her teasing was a bit rude, but to avoid future instances, perhaps just adding a simple “I’m sorry, I missed that, could you repeat that?” might help soften the aggravation on her/others’ part. To my mother’s generation (she was raised in the South, in the 50’s) saying only “What?” indicates almost anger or angry disbelief or a kind of “Speak UP, so and so!” tone. I was taught to say “Pardon me?” or “Pardon?” (a softer version) if I didn’t catch it, or “I’m sorry, I missed that” and “What?” only if caught off guard. That’s totally Elderly Lady with White Gloves on protocol, so feel free to ignore, as needed!

      1. JeanB in NC*

        I definitely use “pardon me” if I didn’t hear something. I think it’s clearer that way. “What” can mean anything from “I didn’t hear you” to “oh my god, what did you just say?!”.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, the nuns would back hand us for saying “what?” I remember sitting for over an hour with a mouthful of blood because I said “what?” instead of pardon me or I’m sorry.
        I think a modern version of the Elderly Lady with White Gloves, would be “say again?” or “I didn’t catch that.”

        1. Laura*

          That is HILARIOUS as in posh British culture “What?” is the only acceptable thing to say. “Pardon” is so middle-class. I am so sorry they hit you, though.

    5. WellRed*

      Well, she was a total jerk but I have worked with that coworker who was always asking “what?” “What?” What?” It’s super annoying.

      1. Velvet Goldberg*

        I was teased as a kid for always trying to involve myself in conversations, so I’m sensitive to not asking “what?” to try and incorporate myself into a conversation. This wasn’t what bothered her. It was literally the fact that I didn’t hear her.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      “you never hear what I say”

      Little phrase, big clue. Perhaps she thinks you hear other people but you selectively do not hear her. In other words, she does not believe you have a hearing problem but rather she believes that you have a problem with her.

      I think what I would do is go back in on that conversation. “Bobbi, I am going to make more of an effort to make sure I am listening to you. I understood you to say that you feel I do not, so I will work on that. However, going forward, mocking people for having a disability will get you in legal hot water in the work place. So I am assuming that what happened the other day was a one time thing and will never happen again.”

      1. Velvet Goldberg*

        I agree. After it happened I did think she felt I heard others while not hearing her… perhaps purposefully. I don’t think I have. We sit near each other, we both frequently wear headphones, there is a barrier between our areas, that muffles sound. And to be honest, since this was the first time she mentioned the issue, I honestly can’t examine whether those might be the cause or if it’s a physical issue. I don’t plan on revisiting the conversation, because again, I don’t want to make this a bigger issue than it is. I will now be aware of it and if she calls me on it again, I really do think I’m just going to have to tell her that she’ll need to talk louder when speaking with me, instead of being a jerk about it.

    7. CrazyEngineerGirl*

      I’m the coworker always saying ‘what?’ But i’m completely deaf in one ear. So I know I have hearing issues and often don’t catch what people have said, or I have to ask them to repeat themselves because I’m pretty sure they didn’t say whatever completely ridiculous thing I think I hear, or even watch people’s mouths to help make out what they are saying. I know all of this, and it would completely annoy me if a coworker was rude like this. If you know I ‘never hear what you say’, make sure you have my attention and speak up! In my experience, most people that have teased or mocked me, have been pretty contrite and ashamed as soon as I say I actually am deaf in one ear.

  37. Cobalt*

    I have a good problem: I don’t use enough vacation time.

    My employer offers 15 vacation days, 5 sick days, and 5 “flex” days (basically an extra vacation bank that, unlike the main vacation bank, doesn’t roll over from year to year). The office also closes between Christmas and New Year’s Day. I usually take a week here and there to see family and friends, take off religious holidays, etc., but the time accrues faster than I use it and after several years with the company, I’ve reached the cap on how much vacation I can have available at a time.

    Company culture is that it’s common for people to take off a week or two at a time as long as it doesn’t impact deadlines, so that’s not an obstacle. The main obstacle for me is that I have a heavy workload, so I feel odd about asking for time off if I don’t actually have a reason for it. But this is a benefit that I need to use.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I feel odd about asking for time off if I don’t actually have a reason for it.

      I know a lot of people with this problem (unfortunately, I’ve never had it), but I think the best way to do it is to just say “Hey, I’m getting close to my accrual limit for vacation time, so I’d like to take some time off. I’ve already got a good handle on X, Y, and Z projects.”

      Companies limit vacation day accruals to limit payouts when employees leave, but I would like to think they also limit accruals so employees actually take vacations!

    2. Backroads*

      Is this feeling from your or your superiors? I’m a friggin’ teacher and we get chided if we don’t use up most of our PTO (my free-spirited principal is just shy of driving cross-country in a hippy van).

      I agree, a quick demonstration that Projects XYZ are comfortable should assure everyone.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        Where do you teach? I would love to work there! At my school, we are actively discouraged from taking time off, even when seriously ill. I want to work with your principal!

    3. Argh!*

      If your problem is that you need to be *doing* something all the time, how about taking a week off to work on a charity project, like Habitat for Humanity?

    4. The IT Manager*

      Take one Friday (or other day) off a month in addition to regularly scheduled holidays and longer vacations. Make every 3 day weekend a four day weekend. Take 4 Fridays/days off in December (once a week before Christmas) to do your holiday shopping during the work week.

      I like Fridays because I don’t have any regularly scheduled meetings on that day and I’m happy to be off at the end of the week. And it quiet with other people also off so i don’t come back to as many emails or work.

    5. Drew*

      I often plan week-long or two-week-long trips months in advance so that they can get on the company calendar and people know not to schedule me for project deadlines during that time. (I’ll also often try to have one or two working days on the trip, either days where I’m visiting partner companies or just “hole up at Starbucks and catch up on things” sessions.)

      Invariably, I come back from those trips fresher and ready to jump onto the next projects, whatever they are. And knowing well in advance when my trips are also helps me to organize my workload, including finding project coverage weeks in advance if it looks like it will be needed.

      (This is the first year in a while when I haven’t had one of those long trips scheduled; I’ve taken several long weekends but a full-on week’s vacation, nope. And I’m definitely feeling it.)

  38. lab rat*

    Is testing a new employee to see if they steal an okay thing to do?

    Background: I work in a highly regulated field (think along the lines of: narcotics testing in a lab or a pharmacy or a job that involves handling large amounts of cash) with a TON of fraud/theft. Every other day you turn on the news and another business in my industry has a new controversy. I work alone but am being offered a part-time assistant; however, I would ultimately be responsible for anything that happens (much along the lines of a Police Chief getting fired if a police officer is involved in a huge scandal). SOMETIMES, not often, we get items that are mislabeled (so it would say “15 xanax pills” when it should say “17 xanax pills”). Theft occurs in my industry regardless, but in my experience the easiest thing to steal would be those 2 extra pills (because there’s no paper trail to prove the theft occurred). If a theft does occur, it has to be reported to the state, to regulators … I would be fired, and an extensive audit would need to be performed for the previous x number of months. It would be a huge pain in the butt.

    Would it be ethical for me to “test” my new employee by purposely mislabeling some items, to see if they take advantage of theft opportunity?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve been involved in trying to catch internal thieves at a couple of workplaces, and we usually don’t test them. If we believe they’re stealing, we usually put in some cameras and try to catch them in the act. Or, better yet, already have the security cameras in place beforehand.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Agreed. We make sure new hires know that there are cameras in the building and that they know what happens if something goes missing. And we may say what has happened to people who were caught stealing- turned over to authorities and fired. Anyone who even considers stealing knows not to try it.

    2. Manders*

      That’s… not a good idea. For one, unless people get greedy in the first few weeks, it’s totally possible that your new employee would act ethically for the first few weeks or months and then start stealing once they know the office well enough to think they can get away with it. You’d only be lulling yourself into a false sense of security.

      Plus, if your test actually catches this employee stealing, then you still have to go through the whole onerous process, PLUS you would have to explain to auditors why you deliberately mislabelled items. That’s not a great look.

      It seems like your industry has built kind of a weird system in which a fairly low-level employee’s misconduct can take down their boss, even if their boss has no idea what’s happening. How do other supervisors handle it? Is there some kind of QA or spot-checking process they use?

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I had a boss put an extra $5 in the drawer to see if I would steal it. My respect for that boss when down the tubes and that is because she showed me she had no respect for me.

      In the end, when I cashed out the draw I left a note. “Boss, the drawer is $5 over. This is unusual, as I usually am on target. Since you stopped in and I saw you open the drawer, I wondered if you might have any idea on what happened here.”
      And that was the end of that.

    4. Observer*

      Unethical, a huge waste of time and resources, and highly likely to backfire on you, if things don’t go well.

      Put cameras in place, and review the footage on a regular basis. Make sure your assistant knows about it.

  39. Communication skills Anon*

    I got written up at work for a few different things but one of them was communication–I was told I come off as “abrasive and condescending.” (I think men in the office get away with worse, but I doubt pointing that out will help me keep my job.) One of the things they did was send me a communication skills course online.

    I’m dreading it. Especially if my project manager (who is coordinating all this) asks me what I thought about it or what I plan to do about it. I’m scared.

    Has anyone had an experience like this before? How did it go?

    1. AccountingIsFun*

      I had a similar issue at a place I worked at. The issue was definitely a gendered one. The women who were assertive were labeled as abrasive and condescending, but the men were just assertive. It was a problematic work place for many different reasons. The training that they gave the women focused on being assertive – which was exactly what we were being asked to go to training for. Basically we were doing what the training suggested we do, just not in a gender appropriate way. I gave up on the culture and left since it was obviously a place that women were not able to succeed because of these and other issues.

      1. Communication skills Anon*

        My dad sent me a long email about how to present my opinions so people will listen. But it’s pretty clear they don’t want to hear my opinions, so that advice is the opposite of helpful.

        That said…I know there are times when I’ve been rude and I truly do want to learn how to reign it in if I can. But I’m scared this training will either be humiliating, or like you said, will give advice that is the opposite of what I need to stay employed here.

        1. OtterB*

          An online class seems less likely to be humiliating than an in-person one might be. On the other hand, it may be less likely to be helpful. I would try to keep an open mind about the skills course and see what you can find in it that makes sense to you and seem applicable. It’s true these things are often gendered, but since it’s also true that there are things you know you want to change, see what you learn. You can’t have an answer to what you think about it or what you plan to do about it until you’ve been through it.

    2. Argh!*

      Yes! My boss has gotten complaints – all from men – and she takes their side in every case. I have pointed this out to her and she is perfect of course, so she disagrees that sexism could have a role in her assessment.

      The women I work with use waffle-words and introduce everything with phrases like “It seems to me….” I’m more direct and apparently this is wrong. I have been mentally rehearsing using the kind of waffle words I eliminated from my vocabulary years ago. Also, I try to “know my place” and only interrupt other women – never a man. It seems to be helping.

      The Harvard Business Review has written several pieces on this kind of thing. One recent article on performance management showed that women are more likely to be written up for communication style. I’d love to think we are beyond implicit bias in the workplace, but apparently we’re not.

        1. Argh!*

          Because they won’t shut themselves up, repeat themselves, keep talking after making their point just to hear their own voice… I don’t interrupt until they’ve gone on too long.

          We have limited time in meetings, and some people will monopolize them if not cut off. Sadly, our “leaders” are not fearless and they won’t cut off the ramblers.

    3. Zip Zap*

      Yeah… I’ve also gotten weird feedback at work.

      I would gently push back. Act concerned, but ask for examples of times when you’ve come across this way. Then express your confusion because other people act the same way and aren’t being sent to training. Ask for clarification about what the issue is. Or, if that’s not an option, I really feel for you. I’ve been through similar stuff and it sucks.

    4. margarets*

      “abrasive and condescending.”

      Which is the complainer’s code for “I’m insecure and her confidence intimidates me so it’s her fault I feel bad and she is terrible and I’m telling on her”.

    5. Close Bracket*

      Been there. I refused to do anything different for reasons, but that decision was specific to that workplace and that manager, and would have no bearing on your particular situation. Let me validate that this *is* gendered, but let me warn you that pointing that out will not help. You have to play their stupid game while internally seething. I am really sorry. :-(

  40. Disenchanted parakeet*

    One more week of my internship left, and tbh I feel like the only thing I’ve really learned is that…this is not the line of work I want to go into long term.

    (I still want to stay in the same field, but definitely not this type of company, if that makes sense…)


    1. Velvet Goldberg*

      That’s actually a really useful thing to learn. I know you feel it doesn’t build your skill or add to your wheelhouse, but it provides a very important piece of your career puzzle and will help you avoid a potential mistake later. Run with it!

    2. Ghost Town*

      I know that’s frustrating, but it is still an incredibly valuable thing to know as early as possible.

    3. Bad Candidate*

      But that’s really valuable information to know, really! Some people take years to learn that.

  41. CatCat*

    I’ve decided to apply for an appointment to serve on a local government board. The process takes about 3 months. I’m not particularly “politically connected” in the city, but I am well-versed in the subject area in the purview of the particular board so we’ll see.

  42. not so super-visor*

    My director just pulled me into the office to tell me that the company will soon be announcing a paperless policy impacting the entire company (about 300 people at this location alone). I have a lot of direct reports in my department who have been with the company 10-20 years and are very stuck in their ways. I have a feeling that this policy won’t go over too well with these folks as they claim that they need to print off emails/documents to help them remember things. I plan on recommending OneNote and Notepad as ways of keeping vital notes that they need to follow up on. Personally, I also tend to use the calendar option in Outlook to make appointments on things that I need to follow up on. What are some other tools/tips that I can give to them to help ease into this transition?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      If they really want to write something down, give them a small white board and some erasable markers.

    2. katamia*

      Email reminders. I have a ton of reminders programmed, stuff like “Send invoice to X company” and “cancel trial subscription by Y date” and stuff like that. It helps me so much.

      Also seconding the whiteboard for stuff like work checklists–if I’m proofreading something, I can’t be switching back and forth between what I’m proofing and what I need to be checking for. I need to have them both available to me at the same time. If there’s a similar procedure that they need to follow that, for whatever reason, they haven’t internalized, they can write the steps on the whiteboard and leave them there as a reminder.

      Alternatively, if there are a few pieces of paper they will consistently need (like a checklist, depending on what their jobs are), maybe you could have them print it out and keep a copy in their purse/wallet before the policy officially goes into effect.

      I do sympathize with them–I’m mostly paperless in my own life, but a lot of people (including me) just don’t absorb information as well when it’s on a screen as they do when it’s actually on paper.

    3. Argh!*

      Using print-to-pdf as a way of preserving documents, and then keeping the currently needed ones on the desktop. That’s relatively analogous to their way of doing things and may ease them into it.

      My boss has papers all over her office, and replies more quickly to my printed documents than to my emails. I think she would have a stroke if that policy were implemented here!

      1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

        Be certain that your desktop is backed up! My company only backs up a certain location on the computer, and it is NOT the desktop. Any document saved to the desktop or location other than the designated folder will be lost.

    4. Friday*

      Does everyone have laptops? If so, start asking them to bring their laptops to meetings all the time. They can still take paper notes too (that’s what I do) but they will probably find that it’s easier for everyone to reference the same doc, have access to databases to answer in-the-moment questions, etc. etc.

        1. Friday*

          Depends, I guess – I’ve worked at paperless companies before and it always meant, don’t print out the thing and distribute it or use it as a record. It never referred to one’s own handwritten notes.

          1. Cristina in England*

            Writing something by hand increases retention compared to typing it, though, so I hope that notepads with handwritten notes wouldn’t be frowned upon.

    5. Fabulous*

      This sounds like a horrible policy. Sometimes I need a piece of paper in front of me. Writing things down helps me to remember better, not to mention it gives my eyes a rest from the computer screen. While I understand the thought behind the policy, I don’t know how they can realistically implement it.

      As for the emails, what helps me is to have my inbox impeccably organized. All my “to do’s” are in my inbox, with items flagged if I need to take action, and categories used if I am waiting to hear back or need to follow up. Anything that’s not a to-do gets filtered into a plethora of different folders depending on the subject or sender of the email. I also set up a ton of rules for incoming emails so that only the most important emails reach my inbox; all non-urgent notifications go directly to my folders.

    6. Chaordic One*

      At Dysfunctional Teapots, Ltd. the move to a paperless office involved a new and very buggy computer system with a whole bunch of problems that hurt productivity. Then there were the additional problems the paperless office added to that. It also occurred at a time when we had a very successful marketing campaign , orders were up but we didn’t have any additional people to process them.

      We previously mailed blank forms to our clients and the clients returned the completed forms to us by mail, fax, or sometimes by email (which was not secure). The move to a paperless involved having clients download and print out forms, fill out those forms, sign them, and then scan and upload those completed and signed forms back into our computer through a secure website. (Some of it had clients filling out forms directly online, but not very much.) We saved a ton of money by not printing out forms ourselves and by not mailing them to clients.

      Most (but not all) of our clients were good about downloading, printing out, and filling out and signing the forms. But they continued to return the completed forms by mail, fax or email and my department was tasked with the additional step of having to scan the completed forms back into the computer system. It was an extra step and took additional time we really didn’t have. Mailed forms were still retained and kept in hardcopy files which still had to be filed. Management was completely oblivious and unsympathetic about this and just kept ragging on the team about us not being productive. The team became stressed and burnt out and the filing backed up. Then I was fired for being resistant to change.

      Don’t expect increases in productivity. If anything it will probably make extra work for your team. (Having to look stuff up online and not having it in front of you.) If the staff in your department don’t already have more than one computer monitor, you might consider getting them. (Ideally they would tab back and forth between screens, but realistically it is more likely they would want to have several screens open at once and they will want to see them all at the same time.) You might also consider hiring an extra staff member, or bringing in a temp for a while (like a couple of months) until people get used to it.

    7. Observer*

      Notepad is probably a very, very bad idea. You can’t do anything with it, really, unless you have an ideal filing system.

      If people are all using the full MSOffice suite, OneNote is an excellent idea. So is Evernote.

      Ask your boss what tools are being provided? Is there a document management system in place? If people don’t have OneNote, would the company be willing to buy it or something like the business version of Evernote (which is nice because of some collaboration features and the like).

      If they don’t want to pay, there is a free version of Evernote which might work for people too. Also, if your work uses GSuite, Keep is pretty nice. If you don’t care if people are using business supplied tools, then people can use Google Keep if they have their own Google account.

      1. Anon7415*

        When I began telecommuting in my company (the tradeoff – no more physical desk, but we can reserve a hoteling station anywhere in the company), I had to get rid of all my papers and binders. OneNote and Keep are saviors…I use Keep to track my hoteling reservations and OneNote has replaced the numerous binders of yellowing paper and dog-eared sticky notes I used to have.

    8. Observer*

      Another thing – if there is room, second monitors could make things TONS easier for people. This way they can have all of the document replacements for their papers on one monitor, and all the work they are doing related to that on the other monitor.

  43. TheJobHunt*

    I’ve been job hunting in a new country and I recently encountered online tests. I applied for a job and was sent an easy logic test. I then spoke with an internal recruiter at the firm who said she would take me to the next step and sent me 3 more online tests. These tests were a lot harder. Actually really hard. The biggest issue was that I only had about 1min per question which barely gave me enough time to understand the question, review the material, and sometimes do some calculations. Long story short I think I did well on 2 tests but poorly on 1. I found the whole thing frustrating though. I’ve never had these tests for any of the positions I’ve applied to in my home country. I’ve never heard of friends that have either. I found the whole thing pretty frustrating because I don’t really understand what they’re trying to evaluate. I will never be in a work situation where I need to evaluate a bunch of tables in 60sec to answer some question. Are they testing for your ability to act under stress? I have experience working in stressful, time crunch environments so wouldn’t that be a better indicator of my abilities. It feels like an arbitrary cut off that doesn’t actually say anything about your ability to perform in a real scenario (like when companies ask for a min GPA). For what it’s worth, these were more like general aptitude tests than anything relating to the actual job. It kind of left a bad taste in my mouth for this company’s recruiting practices. Has anyone else encountered These? What has been your experience?
    From the recruitment side, have you found them useful in evaluating candidates?

    1. Susan K*

      I’ve never encountered online skills tests, but I did once apply for a job that gave a series of general aptitude tests immediately before the interview. They were a lot like what you described — sets of questions based on a table, diagram, or scenario, with little time to answer. I was told that most people don’t even get through all the questions within the allotted time. Luckily for me, I happen to be very good at this type of test, and not only did I finish all of them, but I only missed one question out of all the tests (I think there were 3 or 4 of them). I thought that this would give me a leg up on the competition, but it turned out that they only recorded “pass” or “fail” and the tests were administered by HR, so the hiring manager didn’t even see my actual scores. Anyone who failed just wouldn’t get an interview. I have no idea if these are at all useful for evaluating candidates, but I do work in a technical field, so I can see them maybe having some merit in weeding out people who aren’t good at reading data.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        The worst part of this test was that if you didn’t answer the QUESTION in time, you got it wrong automatically. Having a set time for the entire test would have been much, much better. I kept having to glance at the time and couldn’t focus as a result. I missed a bunch of questions because I lost tract of the last few seconds.

        I get the weeding out bit, but well, I’m not a new grad. I hoped I was past this kind of stuff since I have experience and references that can speak to my real abilities and not my perceived ones.

    2. Yams*

      I have encountered these before, also outside the US, and they have all been terrible. I’m pretty good at that kind of test but even so I struggled to even finish a few of them, so I’m not surprised I haven’t even been called back for interviews with any company that uses them.
      Personally, the personality tests drive me crazy, for some weird reason I cannot stop getting inconclusive results. I’ve actually missed out on a few good opportunities because of this problem.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        I’m happy (and sorry) you feel my pain. For what it’s worth, I “failed” a personality test too. It was the only other time I had a test like this when applying. Now that I think of it, that company is from this region of the world, so maybe that explains it. I basically blacklisted that company because I was so peeved at the thought of failing a personality test at an employer that promotes a “diverse” work culture…. I’m not jaded >.>

        1. Yams*

          Right? I had to check I wasn’t hallucinating when the HR person called me to tell me that I was no longer a candidate because my personality evaluation had come with inconclusive results not one, but three times (they offered to let me re-take the tests, at 45 minutes each I was seriously annoyed by the end).
          I’m in Mexico, and some of my friends in recruiting (I’m in sales) have mentioned that these kind of IQ and personality tests are really in vogue right now. I seriously hope they go away forever, they are the worst.
          With the IQ-like tests I get where they are coming from though, in my little corner of the world it’s not uncommon to have people with college degrees have little to no reading, writing or mathematical abilities so they want to screen for basic competence. As for the personality tests, I have no idea what purpose they could serve. They might as well get a tarot card reader for all the good they do. My story has a happy ending though, a couple months after this whole debacle a different company offered me a position with a huge raise on the spot, so yay me!

      1. CoffeeLover*

        General knowledge. There was one reading comprehension (about random topics), one pattern recognition and one numerical (tables and basic calculations).

    3. extra anon*

      A mentor of mine very strongly recommended we use one of these tests in our hiring process, so we did. It was very much a quick paced general intelligence type test and when we purchased the license, they also showed us the optimal range for the position we’re hiring for (since there is not only risk of someone being unable to learn the job but also of someone finding it so unstimulating that they want to leave immediately). We ended up hiring someone who scored borderline on the low end of the system. While we ended up with fairly strong employee based on other skills (personality, drive, communication skills, etc), the employee is slower than average to learn new things and a fairly deliberate worker. I think there’s a reason these tests are timed and in a job where there is a lot to do that is feasible to get done in a 40 hour work week for a fast worker/quick learner, but possibly not for someone who takes more time, they can be valuable.

      That said, we ignored the results and it’s working out OK, but having those results made it easier to understand the tradeoffs we made. I’m sure there are positions and fields where it would be inappropriate (or where someone has enough of background of accomplishments that it wouldn’t make sense), but there are also times when that does tell you something relevant.

      1. Mephyle*

        If these tests are properly interpreted, they’re not like exams at school on material learned where a good student should get it all right. They are designed for everyone to complete them imperfectly (like a video game where you invariably die).
        Because of this, basically everyone will feel like they ‘failed’. What counts is your score relative to others, not relative to completing the entire test.
        On the other hand, that may or may not be relevant to your potential performance in the job.

    4. KAG*

      I took one of these tests for a position in Australia – I was told it should be a piece of cake for me. So I sat down at my computer in my PJs one morning and figured I’d just start the day by crossing this “piece of cake” off my to-do list.

      For those of you familiar with the GMAT, this 45-minute assessment consisted exclusively of those quantitative questions that pose a problem and then give you options like “A”, “A and B but not C”, “All of the above”, “None of the above”.

      (For those of you not familiar with the GMAT, you should not attempt them without at least a cup of coffee, a good night’s sleep, and a healthy appreciation of what you are about to confront).

      I just found it bizarre at the time; thinking back now, though, I would at least have expected them to use multiple question formats.

  44. LizB*

    This week has been a roller coaster – started out not so great (super obnoxious email from a parent of one of my students at my part-time job) but has gotten so much better (super great meeting yesterday for my full-time job where I got basically everything I want from our partner organization… plus the obnoxious parent eventually came around). Looking forward to a relaxing weekend!

  45. FDCA In Canada*

    As I’ve mentioned, my employer is opting to let my contract expire next week without hiring anyone into my position. Instead, my manager is farming out my work to be spread out among the four other employees for whom I provide an additional service–so basically what happens it that when they have a teapot in need of solder, they give it to me and I solder it, and now instead of me doing that as my full-time job (plus about seven additional tasks), they’ll all be doing it themselves, which presents a significant workload increase for them. The feedback so far has been awful–everyone is upset with this–and I’m a little frustrated that my full-time job is being seen as so inconsequential that everyone else can do it in their spare time. (Which is nonexistent!)

    So on the plus side I have another interview next week, but this is all very disheartening. But at least I’m not the only one frustrated!

  46. Backroads*

    Religion in the workplace: how fussy is too fussy? I am a teacher at a school where one of the subtle little things we do is encourage college culture. One manifestation of this is Friday teachers can wear college shirts. However, some staff and parents of students have expressed discomfort with shirts from religion-associated colleges and universities. No one is really sure how to deal with (though administration is talking about it). Some people say it’s flat-out inappropriate, others say those uncomfortable will have to get over it. But, this is a public school. So, keep out the religion-associated school t-shirts or embrace diversity of community?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Embrace. That’s the school the teacher actually went to. And I’m assuming it’s just the name of the school and not some motto or phrase attached, too?

    2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      I feel like a religion-associated college is different than the religion itself. Plenty of people who root for Notre Dame aren’t catholic, or even religious. I think banning college t shirts because the college is associated with a religion is going a bit far.

    3. LizB*

      When you say “religion-associated,” are you talking like Notre Dame or like Bob Jones University? I think people are being too fussy either way, because like Anonymous Education said, these are the colleges the teachers actually went to! But if it’s the latter type of religion-associated, I can kind of sympathize; if I knew my colleague had gone to a university that was famously unwelcoming to, for example, LGBTQ people, I would definitely wonder if they shared the university’s views and if that would impact their treatment of me as a queer person or our LGBTQ students.

      1. katamia*

        Yeah, there’s a huge different between a “secular” religious (I know, I know) college like Notre Dame or Georgetown and Bob Jones. If it’s only the former, then I think people need to suck it up. But, as a non-Christian, non-straight woman, I’d definitely feel at least a little uncomfortable if I found out a coworker or teacher of my hypothetical nonexistent child had gone to Bob Jones.

      2. Susan K*

        If the teacher did attend Bob Jones or a similar college, wearing or not wearing a shirt from the college wouldn’t change the fact that he or she attended it. And it’s not usually a secret — at my high school, the faculty directory and web site listed each teacher’s degree(s), including the name of the college(s). If there is a concern about a teacher having attended a college known for being unwelcoming to specific groups, that is something the school’s administration should look into before hiring the teacher.

    4. CoffeeLover*

      Honestly, I find the whole thing a little strange. There are other ways to encourage a “college culture” without promoting particular schools. I think it’s inappropriate to promote a specific college to students regardless of it’s religious affiliation although religious affiliation is particularly bad. The reason I think it’s bad is because teachers play a special role when it comes to educating students. They should play an impartial role and frankly, knowing my teacher went to a religious college would impact the way I viewed them. How would a gay student for example, feel about talking to a teacher that went to a university that has a reputation for condemning homosexuality? But going beyond the religion thing, what if most teachers wore shirts from expensive, ivy league schools? Would that alienate students that can’t afford those tuitions? Teachers should be able to sit down to discuss college options with students without the student feeling like their teacher is biased from the start.

      The way to solve this is to stop promoting particular colleges in this way.

      1. Backroads*

        This t-shirt thing is actually pretty common in the education field. There are a couple of programs schools can even buy into and t-shirts (and even more common, individual classrooms “adopting” a college). I guess I”ve seen it for the past decade pretty much everywhere. I haven’t heard of any real backfires from it or pressure to attend a certain college, but I might just research that now to see if there are any cases. (And, for the record, my school is an elementary school, if that makes a difference.)

        I actually wore a Harvard shirt I found on Etsy last Friday, even though I attended BYU-Idaho. It’s pretty common for teachers to wear whatever college shirt they fancy regardless of alumni status.

        1. CoffeeLover*

          I’m not American so maybe that’s where the confusion comes for me. This is not a practice in my country and I’ve actually never even seen a teacher wear an obvious brandname let alone a university shirt. I guess you can ignore my comment as it doesn’t seem relevant to the US environment. It would be considered weird for a teacher to endorse a college in this way where I’m from.

          1. CoffeeLover*

            Also, I learned something today. The only religiously associated colleges in my country are well… SUPER religious. It would give me huge pause to learn someone went to one. Only very um… conservative people tend to go to those, and most are going to become pastors. I had no idea there were “religious” colleges in the US that were just essentially regularly colleges.

      2. Snark*

        I think you’re overthinking this and radically overestimating how much it means that, say, a teacher is wearing a Gonzaga or Notre Dame or Naropa sweatshirt on Friday, or whatever. Most religious colleges are pretty ecumenical and liberal, even with their religious underpinnings, and most are welcoming to students of other faiths. There’s a few universities that I can think of that would be problematic in this way, like Bob Jones or Liberty, in that they are explicitly and publicly extremely fundamentalist and are known for exclusionary attitudes towards religious and sexual minorities. Otherwise, I think you’re ascribing way more power to a particular college name than they really possess.

        The benefits of students, especially those from lower income backgrounds and other challenges, getting exposed to the idea of going to college, from people who went to college, far outweighs the notional and hypothetical alienation one might feel from seeing that their teacher went to Baylor or Rutgers, feel me?

          1. Snark*

            And it does work. There are even benefits to just making students aware that, like, there are lots of colleges out there, and that colleges have names, and here are some. My wife used to teach at a really low-income school, and students from those backgrounds have NOBODY to even tell them about colleges because nobody they know actually went to a residential, four-year degree-granting, traditional university. How else are you going to normalize the idea of going to college? I grew up hearing about Harvard and Dartmouth and DU and CU and Stanford and so on because people in my family and social group actually went off to those places and came to barbecues wearing shirts and got degrees from them.

            1. Temperance*

              This exactly describes the problem with exposing these kids to Liberty or Bob Jones. They don’t know colleges and haven’t had exposure, so they aren’t going to be able to understand that these are not quality institutions. It’s not Dartmouth vs. Brown or something like that.

              I was a poor kid and the first in my extended family to go to a 4-year college. I went to Penn State and was proud to do so, but if someone told me about LIberty, I might have considered it, not knowing that it has a bad reputation. It’s doing a huge disservice to these kids.

        1. Snark*

          And more:

          “Would that alienate students that can’t afford those tuitions?”

          Dunno. Maybe. Probably not, honestly. But being patronized alienates nearly everybody, so why are you suggesting they’re so fragile that they can’t tolerate knowing their math teacher went to an ivy league?

          “Teachers should be able to sit down to discuss college options with students without the student feeling like their teacher is biased from the start.”

          I’m sorry, but this is…..totally off base. Why would that bias matter? If they are biased towards their alma mater, that’s a GOOD thing! A lot of kids have nobody in their lives who went to college, or if they did, maybe it was an online program or a night class. Someone in their lives who can enthusiastically describe their experience attending their alma mater is a positive thing. And I’d wager most teachers, no matter how much they like their alma mater, are not going to be like “NOOO YOU MUST GO TO HARVARD DO IT NOW.” C’mon.

          1. Temperance*

            There’s a difference between loving your school and potentially tricking a student who honestly doesn’t know any better into attending a crap school like Liberty. I love Penn State, am so proud of my school, and I regularly talk to kids with my background (poor, no access to adults with degrees besides our teachers) about it. The difference, though, is that we have an alumni network 500k+ strong, our degrees mean something, and we are generally successful as a group.

            If someone described their experience at Liberty as positively, I’d question their judgment and whether they’re proselytizing to children.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              You beat me to it. I’m specifically thinking of some of the bible colleges around here. I think one is a ministry school, so that doesn’t really count, since it’s specifically training clergy.

              One of the biggest has this on their Criminal Justice program page: “The Criminal Justice program also prepares students to apply their Christian worldview to the realities of our culture and its many challenges.” Mmmmmmmmmmmkay.

              The other big one has this in their Biology department page: “[School] is home to the [name] Center for the Integration of Science and Christian Faith, which is intentionally focused on equipping students to study the history and philosophy of science, Biblical hermeneutics, and the integration of science and faith. Faculty encourage discussion of ethical issues that arise in the world of science and challenge students to use their Christian faith as the basis for approaching all issues.”

              It makes my eye twitch, especially the second one.

          2. Backroads*

            I’d imagine saving that sort of MUST GO enthusiasm for a relative. Not a student.

            My school is very low-income. Many kids and families are oblivious to the concept of college. I agree, the risk of offending someone with whatever school for whatever reason probably doesn’t hold a candle to the benefit of teaching kids about higher education.

          1. Kinsley M.*

            Quite honestly, I’ve never even heard of these schools until this thread. And I know I can’t be the only one. OP can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think we’re more talking along the lines of Notre Dame, Georgetown, and Boston College. We can agree that parents need to chill about being offended by the Fighting Irish and at the same time say Bob Jones is inappropriate.

          2. Observer*

            Even assuming that these are the colleges in question, so what? Wearing a college tee shirt is not “tricking” anyone into going. And, given that there are many tee shirts being worn, any kid who is college material is going to realize that there are multiple options and ask about the differences.

            Now, if a teacher or adviser misleads a kid whether by omission (eg leaving out the fact that the school has strict religious requirements) or by commission (eg lying abut the school’s ranking), that’s a whole different issue. But that would be true regardless of the school. And there are PLENTY of garbage schools out there. And, if a teacher did that, that should be a firing offense, not because it’s a religious school, but because you mislead a kid making a major decision.

    5. Sualah*

      That sounds way too fussy to me. I can’t even see why that is an issue, honestly. No shirts from Brandeis University, from Brigham Young University, from Notre Dame?

    6. Snark*

      You know, I’m an atheist, I’m liberal as hell, I’m committed to secular Enlightenment ideals….but this just strikes me as overthinking things to the point of lunacy. Universities – not to mention academia and most of science – are rooted in an explicitly religious background. Many of the greatest scientists and naturalists in the world were English vicars. Churches have supported, founded, and funded universities since universities were invented. It’s kind of silly to pretend otherwise, and there’s a lot of truly excellent universities with religious backgrounds.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I agree with you Snark, I consider myself pretty liberal in most regards, but not allowing teachers to wear their alma mater bc it might alienate a student is kind of saying that students are so fragile and such special snoflakes that htey cannot handle it.

        This is just so much overreaching.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Well… Georgetown is a school with a religious affiliation, so would it be inappropriate to wear a “Go Hoyas” shirt? A school shirt on its own doesn’t seem like a hill to die on. I’m a member of a religious minority. If I saw someone wearing a shirt from Bob Jones University or Liberty University, I might assume they went there but nothing more. I went to a university with a strong religious connection that isn’t actually affiliated with that religion in an official sense (no required religion classes, for example), and if someone objected to me wearing it, I would be really confused. There’s also the fact that a ton of schools are affiliated with a religion or founded by members of a religion but aren’t thought of as “religious”. See my note about Georgetown, but also, say, Haverford or Wesleyan.

      So maybe I need more details here. What are they specifically objecting to?

      1. Backroads*

        I don’t know for sure, but if I had to guess, it’s likely the BYU shirts. It’s Utah, we have a handful of teachers who attended BYU. It’s how it goes.

        But we also have some strong anti-Mormon sentiments in the school community (a few on staff I know of, but they’re generally professional and great teachers). I sometimes get the feeling it stems from that and banning “all religious universities” makes it look better.

        1. Princess Carolyn*

          I’ve heard the relationship between Mormons and non-Mormons can be tense out west, but it seems weird to pretend BYU isn’t a thing in Utah. I can see why some BYU grads might personally decide they don’t want to rep BYU at work, but asking your employees not to indicate they went to a religious college seems weird.

          1. Snark*

            And even if some people don’t like BYU, in Utah, that’s a pretty strong option if you’re staying in-state for college and you’re a Mormon.

        2. CAA*

          Ah I see now. At first I thought it was because the science teachers were wearing shirts from schools that espouse creationism; or that teachers were advertising University of Phoenix; or something like that.

          I think it would be reasonable to say that the colleges and universities represented should be accredited, but that’s as far as it should go. BYU would be fine under this rule.

    8. Sadsack*

      I don’t understand why they should be kept out. I graduated from a Catholic university and I am in no way personally affiliated with any religion. I also support total separation of religion and pretty much everything else. I received a good education and, even though some religious studies was a requirement, I found the courses interesting and not that religion was being forced upon me.

    9. Princess Carolyn*

      Sounds way too fussy. All you’re saying by wearing a school’s T-shirt is that you like the school. You’re not forcing anything on anyone. There are some colleges where the culture of that campus might lead me to make some unflattering assumptions about someone wearing their T-shirt — but even then it would be like “Hmm, I wonder if Mr. Green is homophobic …” And that’s not even totally fair of me.

      I grew up in a fairly liberal leaning town and the teachers who attended religious colleges still wore their T-shirts or used their logo’d Post-Its and what have you. It was never a problem.

    10. Manager Mary*

      If your school wants to promote college, then they have to allow all college shirts. It is not illegal to operate as a religious university and it would be discriminatory to allow some to be represented and not others. Frankly, I doubt that your parents/admins even know the religious status of many universities. I went to a private university that is affiliated with the Presbyterian church and the only difference between it and the local state school was the size and the price tag. There was no religious aspect to the education or culture whatsoever. The vast majority of people, including many of the students, have no idea it has that affiliation.

      It sounds nice to say “well we won’t allow shirts from Religious Nutjob University because of their views on ____” but they are better off allowing all college shirts or no college shirts. If they ban one shirt for a religious or political reason, they better have first educated themselves on the religious and political stances and backgrounds of every university in the country, and be prepared to explain to district admins why your individual site has taken it upon themselves to determine which universities are acceptable for presenting to children and which are not.

    11. Student*

      Have you asked any basic follow-up questions about why it makes them uncomfortable?

      I feel like there’s a world of difference between “That specific school’s leader has stated repeatedly that I and people I love are evil, will burn in hell, and deserve to be run out of the country,” and “I’m uncomfortable with that specific religion.”

      If they come back with the first one, I think that you shouldn’t ban the teacher from wearing the shirt, but should perhaps have a mediated discussion where the teacher and concerned student sit down and talk it out. Maybe the teacher isn’t fully aware of how the school has targeted and alienated their students. Maybe the student isn’t aware that the school (possibly) hasn’t always held that position, and could benefit from hearing about the teacher’s own beliefs on the subject or hearing about the good personal experiences that make the teacher fond of the school. Communication is likely to inspire empathy in both directions (or will bring out something serious from one party that you can confront more directly).

      If they come back with the latter, the complainer is in the wrong. Being exposed to a shirt from a different religion is a pretty low bar, and we expect religious tolerance. Let them be uncomfortable. We expect students to be able to disagree politely with the religion of their teachers. The teacher shouldn’t have to totally hide their faith to make the student comfortable. The teacher has a very important duty not to use their job (in public schools, at least) to proselytize to the student, but wearing a shirt with a religious college on it is not an effort to convert a student.

      1. paul*


        there’s a huge gap between “the teacher is proselytizing” and “the teacher wore a shirt of a school they went to that’s affiliated with a church I’m not part of.”

      2. LizB*

        Whoa, I would NOT recommend having a student have that discussion with a teacher unless the student themselves suggests it. The power differential between teacher and student is too huge, and you could put the student in a position of feeling pressured to out themselves. Admin should be having the discussion with the teacher.

      3. Temperance*

        It’s not about “being exposed to a shirt from a different religion”, but a child with limited access to college information and college-educated adults being potentially tricked into thinking that Liberty University is a decent school and might provide them with a good future. I think that’s a huge problem, as someone who grew up in a low-income family with no close relatives who attended college.

        1. Backroads*

          Yes, but in a culture where this is pretty common from kindergarten through highschool, what are they odds a student is going to primarily be exposed to Bob Jones University t-shirts and nothing else?

        2. Student*

          I grew up in a situation like that.

          High school students applying to colleges do not put that much stock in what shirt their teacher is wearing, nor on where their teacher went to college, nor on where their teacher thinks they should go to college.

          My teachers, in my crappy low-income area, didn’t know jack-squat about what made a college good or bad. At best, some of them could advise you on whether the local community college had good classes in their specialty area. At worst, they’d tell you how the local state school they went to was a great party school, with easy access sex, drugs, and alcohol. They also had no interest in trying to convince us to even go to college, let alone to go to a specific college. They expected many of us to not go to college, and some of us to go to the local community college.

          Having one teacher who’s a scam-university fan is not the student’s biggest problem in life, by far, in terms of college access. It’s not even on the list. There will be plenty of chances for the student to get other opinions, and plenty of other scams they’ll need to watch out for, if they are to successfully escape their environs to a better future. They’re more likely to get hooked at the scam-university when they look into college funding. Defend them there, where it matters.

          Scam universities suck. Barring teachers from wearing their shirts is not an effective counter-measure or even likely to have any impact whatsoever.

        3. Anion*

          If a teacher, who is currently employed as a teacher at the school the student is attending, went to Liberty University, then clearly at least one person (the teacher) did in fact get a decent education there which provided said teacher with a good future.

          I’m not advocating for Liberty University (of which I’ve never heard), I’m just saying, you can’t say a college is utter garbage which provides its graduates with nothing while at the same time saying a teacher at a decent school might be a graduate of that college.

          Additionally, if a student can be “tricked” into attending a particular school, that’s the problem of that student and his or her parents; it’s not up to random strangers to decide no student should be allowed to hear about a school in case they decide they want to go there without having done any research beyond “I saw it on a shirt.”

    12. paul*

      I’m religious-ish but hard core on separating the state from religion. That said, you’re really overthinking this. Wearing the shirt of a college that happens to be affiliated with a denomination isn’t shoving a religion in someone’s face.

    13. Temperance*

      I honestly think that it depends. I would not be okay with teachers and staff advertising Oral Roberts, Liberty, or Bob Jones – schools that are barely accredited, if at all, lack credibility outside their religious bubble, and prey upon low-income/low information students to pay the bills.

      I think “Diversity of Community” is great when the message uplifts quality institutions. Like, I wouldn’t be put off by a BYU shirt even though I dislike their politics, because it’s a quality school.

      1. Emi.*

        But how would this translate into a policy that didn’t either depend on someone’s personal opinions/gut/biases or go way into the weeds trying to determine what counts as a “quality” school?

        1. Temperance*

          Easy – you only allow schools that have received accreditation to be advertised. I think protecting vulnerable children from potentially screwing up their lives is more important than the feelings of adults.

          1. Emi.*

            Ah, okay. I was focusing on your “lack credibility outside their religious bubble” but accreditation makes sense.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              To me also, and no for-profits, as Temperance says below. College is so expensive that it should be a crime to push a kid toward a school that will do nothing to benefit them.

        2. Temperance*

          You can also ban for-profit schools, which prey upon the poor and the exact population that this school is supposed to be helping.

          I also question the hiring practices of this place if they’re letting people with lesser degrees influence these kids.

    14. Observer*

      Either ban ALL the tee shirts, or allow all of them.

      If nothing else, banning tee shirts from only religious colleges opens you to religious discrimination charges.

  47. isthislegal*

    Someone in my social network posted about seeking an unpaid intern. Can anyone tell me if this sounds like a legal unpaid internship?

    “looking for a marketing intern to help [startup] grow [the app]. The role will be very dynamic, and your tasks might include: writing blog posts, reaching out to popular bloggers, putting up flyers, doing competitor research, helping create social media content, etc.
    There may be an opportunity to join the team in a permanent capacity if you add a lot of value to the team. The internship is part time, unpaid, and will be about 10-15 hours per week. The hours are flexible and much of the work can be done remotely.”

    1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      Unpaid internships have to be through the university of the student so they get college credit I thought.

      1. isthislegal*

        maybe that’s what they’re doing. I found some links with 6 criteria for unpaid internships, and I’m skeptical that this fits otherwise.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That’s not a legal requirement. The legal requirement is that if it’s a for-profit business, it can’t be unpaid unless the *net* benefit is to the worker, not the company. So the worker has to be getting *more* out of it than the company does. So, for instance, an internship that was very heavy on training might qualify.

        Some of the DOL’s criteria for unpaid internships are:

        * The internship is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment.
        * The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern
        * The intern does not displace regular employees but instead works under close supervision of existing staff
        * The employer providing the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion, its operations may actually be impeded.

        This one doesn’t sound like it’s legal, assuming that it’s for a for-profit business (nonprofits, though, are allowed to use volunteers).

        That said, illegal unpaid internships are super common and plenty of people decide to do them because it’s worth it to them to get the experience. Shady of the employer, not shady of the interns.

  48. AnonyMs.*

    Going anonymous for this one. Three months ago, a man (Stephen) was hired in a position analogous to mine. He has extensive experience in our industry but not in this specific area; let’s say he designed teapots but we do teapot sales.

    So far, he’s been fine. It’s a tough role with a steep learning curve. I find him kind of awkward and a little odd, but that’s ok. However, as we have started to collaborate more, it’s become clear that he has very little experience with basic Office software. It’s clear that he’s used Word but his knowledge of Excel and PowerPoint is limited, and it’s starting to affect the work we have to do together. We had a session the other day that should have been quick, but because Stephen had trouble with things like page layout and saving over files, it took way longer. I kept getting too far ahead because we had to wait for Stephen to catch up. Today he asked me to help him find a file that’s pretty simple to locate on our server with some searching. He doesn’t seem to know how to rename files or that we have standard nomenclature for files.

    Maybe he’s just not resourceful. But I find this frustrating. We’re not new to the working world; he and I are both in our 40s, and we’re on the executive team of a firm that works almost exclusively in these programs. He doesn’t report to me, but is there anything I can say or do? He also hasn’t approached me to ask for advice or an Excel refresher or anything like that. We have to start working on more and more projects together, and I fear getting delayed by his lack of facility with these programs, and I certainly don’t want to become the office teacher.

    1. Alex*

      Could you send him an online tutorial or easy training on the tools he is having trouble with. It doesn’t have to be passive aggressive, just something like, “hey you might find this useful”.

    2. Nanc*

      To be fair, if he’s never had to use certain software tools in his job before, there’s going to be a learning curve. That said, you shouldn’t have to teach/tutor him. It’s fine to suggest he get some formal training. There are plenty of online classes and heck, Microsoft’s tutorials are pretty good. If he’s never worked where he’s had to access a shared drive that’s another learning curve. If he won’t do it, it’s fine to bring it to your manager’s attention as it’s impacting your work. If you can offer specifics as to where he needs training it may help build the case. The other (and probably less appealing) option is to ID where he needs training and train him while he creates SOPs so he has a reference.

      If you haven’t told him directly this is a problem he probably has no idea how frustrated you are (or he may not care). Good luck.

      1. AnonyMs.*

        That’s what’s so strange– he HAS to have used these before. Probably not to an expert level, but my feeling about Office is that if you know one of them, you should be able to figure out the others after a fashion. Basic things like saving and opening files. I think I’ll see what happens after our next session and try to gently ask how much he used Excel and PowerPoint in his last gig.

        1. OtterB*

          Did coming to your organization by any chance switch him from a Mac to a PC or vice versa? I had trouble with basics for a while after making that move, and I’m generally pretty tech competent.

    3. Chaordic One*

      Is there any way you could download and print out some cheat sheets with short cuts from the internet for him? I’ve seen similar sheets for sale in office supply and book stores from time to time. If not, maybe you could type something up for him? (Yeah, I know it’s a PITA, but if it will make your job a little easier by having him do the work himself then it will be worth it in the long run.)

    4. Tabby Baltimore*

      I can see this happening in a situation where someone was unemployed, or underemployed, for a very long time before taking this job. He may have been away from the applications for so long that he’s forgotten a lot. Is that possible?

  49. NaoNao*

    Good news! I finally connected with the recruiter for Dream Job/Company and aced the phone screen. I’ve got my hiring manager phone interview in a couple hours. I’m a little nervous, but they are expressing a lot of excitement and interest from their end, so I feel pretty solid going into it.

    Wish me luck!!! This job, if offered and accepted would mean major changes for me, both in good ways and some “moving on” ways (relocation, moving from family members, etc) so I’ve got a touch of mixed feelings, but overall it’s an amazing company with a terrific mission, one that I *really* want to be part of, so….yeah, fingers crossed!!

    Also funnily enough I got a nicely worded “thanks but no” form letter to a different phone screen interview I had last week as well (right before the short answer question about form letters!). It’s fine, I was “meh” about the job and whiffed the first question out of the gate and had to do a fluff and fold as I call it (the “best answer you can give on the spot, pivot question to something you do know”) ( Question was: “How much do you know about our company?” I mean, they’re the parent company for a Kable Co. What is there to know? No offense to them, but they were very low-profile!) so, not surprised.

  50. Allison*

    Yesterday we realized there was no send-off party planned for a departing colleague, and we needed to change that. Apparently the woman who usually handles those things was out, so a woman in our department said “that’s okay, the girls will figure something out! Won’t we, ladies? Yeah, us girls will do it.”

    Volunteer yourself if you must, ask me privately if you need help, I’m not against adding an extra set of hands, but I really bristled at the idea that all the women in the department will totally handle a traditionally female task. I don’t know the first thing about office party planning, it’s not in my wheelhouse and I actively resist doing office housework, because I don’t want to be taken advantage of or pegged as a secretary when I’m not in any sort of administrative position.

    If I were a guy and someone said, in a meeting, “oh Allison will help with the party planning, won’t you Allison” I could have chucked and gone “yeaaah no, I don’t plan parties” and people would just laugh and laugh because of course I wouldn’t actually be expected to do that stuff, or know how to do it, but because I’m a woman, I’m great at throwing parties and I just loooove to do it.

    Again, I don’t necessarily mind helping, but I hate being expected to handle administrative, traditionally female office work just because I’m a woman.

    1. Laura*

      I totally agree – do you have to do this? Are there a couple of very party-keen guys in the office you could suggest to her with a smile?

    2. Lucky*

      I’m right there with you, Allison. I do not volunteer for “party planning committee” work, I don’t organize the lunch order and I don’t take meeting minutes.

      1. Allison*

        I do try to take my own notes in meetings, but they’re for my benefit, and if nothing that pertains to my work is mentioned, I often write little to nothing. I’m dreading the day someone asks me to send my notes to the team, or just asks me for a copy of what I wrote down, because they’ll be disappointed and I’ll be embarassed.

        And woe to anyone who asks me to make coffee. I don’t drink coffee, so I don’t actually know how to use a coffee maker.

    3. MechanicalPencil*

      I’m not a party planner. I will help out behind the scenes, but it’s not my gig. I had a similar situation where I was asked to attend a meeting as a SME. Somehow it was assumed I would take notes. I said no, PM is here and it’s his project. I considered making it A Thing, but I was nice.

    4. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m right there with you on the annoyance at being volunteered for tasks like this. It’s the phrasing that gets me “us girls will do it.”

      Firstly, I’m a woman, not a girl.

      Secondly, I don’t know the first thing about planning a party. My idea of a party is locking the door on the world and rocking out with a book and my cat.

      And thirdly, I hate being just expected to fulfill “female-type” office work or general housework to be honest.

      So yeah, I sympathise hugely with this.

      Maybe pull the woman aside and tell her that you’d appreciate not being volunteered for things because of (insert whatever you want here).

      1. Allison*

        Right? I stopped being a girl ten years ago!

        I could gain some party planning skills by helping out, picking up this or that, setting things up, placing an order if someone tells me what exactly to get, but I need to get a sense of what actually needs to get done before I be trusted to plan it myself.

        Also, I am 100% done living with male roommates who nothing and expect me to run the house. It was especially aggravating when the guy moaned and groaned about “female” tasks, yet insisted on doing every “man” task even if I wanted to do it myself, and did not understand why it was important that I put together my own furniture and shovel out my own car – he just looked at me, all hurt and confused, wondering why I didn’t want help. Yet when I’d go on a cleaning spree, where was he? Oh yeah, sitting on his ass playing video games.

        So basically yeah, I’m done being expected to do all the “women’s work” just because I’m a woman. Gendered division of labor is garbage! Pure garbage!

    5. a girl has no name*

      That would irk me to no end. I would pull her aside and mention that party planning isn’t your forte, so you’re going to bow out. That’s what I would do. It’s better for the office if I don’t try to plan a party.

    6. CrazyEngineerGirl*

      I would pull her aside and ask in a that confused way (where you actually aren’t confused and are just trying to make a point) why she had volunteered me / all the women in the department. I would make a point of letting her know that not only do I not have party planning skills but I also do not want to develop these skills at work. This is a really annoying position she’s put you in, tbh. As a fellow woman that tries to stay away from traditionally female office ‘housekeeping’ tasks, I feel your annoyance and pain!

    7. Anion*

      Well, did you say, “Yeaaah no, I don’t plan parties,” when this woman volunteered you? If not, why?

  51. Ms_JD*

    Background: I’m a young (25) female Practice Assistant in a BigLaw firm. I have been here for less than a year (I started in December) and this is not my first job. Something happened today that really bothered me. For context, every time we print out things for personal use, we should charge to our personal number. If that personal number is used, you get an invoice every month of what you owe. I just moved to a new apartment, so I printed out a lot of last minute lease documents that I charged to my personal number. Last week, I received my invoice.

    I got a little confused by the wording on the invoice since it looked like I owed much more than what I originally accounted for while printing out these documents. It basically looked like double – like I thought I owed $10 but the invoice said $20. So naturally, I contacted the Accounting dept. and asked about it. The head of the department (worth noting that she is a female) explained that I don’t owe anything, and the numbers are just printed oddly on the invoice.

    So I left it at that. In comes her accounting associate an hour later – he goes up to my cubicle, hands me some unrelated documents, then asks (within earshot of many attorneys): Did you understand what Kelly (the boss) said?” Me: “Yes thanks! I think the invoice was just worded oddly.” BUT THEN he goes on to explain it again anyway and THEN asks (after his explanation) “so…why did you think this was so confusing? What did you not understand?” Me: “I’m not, Kelly already cleared everything. It just looked confusing initially” and then he says “BUT HONEY, it says right here that the balance is zero” which really bothered me. First – don’t call me honey. Second, I already said I got it several times, your boss already explained this (and copied you), and you don’t need to go around explaining my personal finances within earshot of several attorneys that I support. Some things are meant to be private or at leats subtle.

    It really bothered me because a few people in this office call me ‘honey’ and also like to ‘overexplain’ things to me even after I confirm that I have understood. Sometimes those people overlap. Is it my gender? My age (I do look young)? My newness? I’m new, but not that new and certainly not the NEWEST person here. It always leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

    1. FormerOP*

      Ugh that stuff sucks. For the “honey” thing, you can definitely push back. If it helps, frame it in your head as if you are correcting someone who is using a nickname that you don’t like, e.g. “oh, please call me Firstname, thanks.” It might take some of the tension out of the situation. If you can, practice with a friend so you know how your tone comes off. I am not saying this is just or right, but we want to get you what you want without eating up any goodwill. For the over-explaining, ugh you have my sympathies. If it is possible, after you have heard the explanation can you quickly summarize what the person has said as a a response? This one of those “active listening techniques, I know. My husband speaks English as his second language and I have noticed he does this quite often and I think it does help his interlocutors who don’t know him well understand that yes, he gets what they are saying. Eventually people learn that Mr. FormerOP understands them fully and they don’t have to slow down or talk to him like a child.

    2. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      Yes, it is your gender.
      Yes, it is your age.

      Call it when you see it. If anyone calls you honey, correct them. “My name is Jane, not honey.” And this jerk? I would have gone right back to his boss and asked what just happened and why he felt the need to attempt to berate you in front of the entire office for something that wasn’t his business.

    3. Naruto*

      Junior partner (male, if it matters) here at a small plaintiff class action firm, but I have friends in big law and a variety of place.

      So, yes. It’s your age and your gender. Probably especially your gender, in fact. I don’t think it’s because you’re new, especially, although that could be a small factor.

      As you know you’re in a tough position. If you don’t shut that down, people think it’s okay to keep doing it. If you do shut it down, you don’t get along well with others and have an attitude problem. I don’t really have any advice, but this sucks, and I’m sorry.

    4. a girl has no name*

      Yes, it is your age and gender. I’ve dealt with this before. I am 27 and female and the number of times I have been called “kiddo” or something similar isn’t even funny. I get’s frustrating and makes you feel small and undervalued. When I asked something similar to your question in an open thread not long ago, the advice that really helped was “I prefer to be called Daenerys.” (said with a smile) You don’t owe them that smile, but it made me feel better about saying it.

      Also, I’m sorry people can be patronizing and rude. Laugh internally at how foolish they are. You’ll show them.

    5. CrazyEngineerGirl*

      In my perfect world I would respond:

      “Ha! You know what you could actually explain to me? Rather than redundantly explaining this THING I’ve repeatedly told you I already understand? You could explain to me how in the world you think it’s appropriate to call me honey.”

      ***Maintain Piercing Stare***

    6. Mephyle*

      Acct. Ass. needed something explained to him that he found really, really hard to understand; namely that you were fine, not confused at all. Maybe he needed it womansplained to him.

  52. Kately*

    It’s my last day at my job of over 9 years! Next Monday I am moving to a more formal workplace (they have a dress code, which is something I haven’t had since I worked in the service industry) with a full HR team and an actual, thorough onboarding process. Does anyone have some general or specific tips on new job jitters, upping your professional level, or things you’d wished you’d done when you first started?

  53. Lady Glitter Sparkle*

    Help me chime in on this and settle an debate. I was let go from my job during the month of May and during my exit interview with one of the business partners, he told me the reason it wasn’t working out is because he said, I quote “I think you are better off in a corporate world than a small-business firm.” Pretty much indicating that I am a good performer but I am not meeting their expectations. My husband thinks I should bring this up in future job interviews if they were to ask “Why did you leave your last job?”. I tell him, no because it portrays a negative picture of my work. What do you guys think?
    Oh, just to add: I was out of work for a month and I was able to find a job so everything is good now. :)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Do you know WHY he thought that? Whatever the why is, that’s where your answer would need to come from. But you can’t just say that without being able to explain it.

      1. Lady Glitter Sparkle*

        He explained that my skills was structured and routine. He indicated that when it came to my skills, as soon as someone would hand me something, I would do Step 1, 2, 3 and 4. Then repeat. He said I wasn’t initiative enough also is what he told me.

    2. hbc*

      I’m usually hiring the other direction (big to small), and it’s a great reason to have for leaving. If you prefer Big Company red tape to Mom & Pop winging it, that’s a selling point for a hiring manager who needs people to follow procedures. You can still make clear that you can do your tasks well in either case, but that culture-wise, you fit better and have fewer frustrations when there’s a larger team and structure around you.

      1. Lady Glitter Sparkle*

        That makes a whole lot of sense there especially culture-wise fit. The new job I am right now is a corporate company and I seem to be fitting in well.

    3. katamia*

      Unless you can provide objective details to support what he said, I’m with you, although not for the same reason–I just don’t think his criticism makes a whole lot of sense unless there’s something objective behind it. And given how much even workplaces of similar sizes can vary, I doubt it. My sense (as someone who doesn’t know him) is that he just has opinions that Corporate Cultures Are Like This And Small Businesses Are Like That, and you didn’t fit into his small business mold for whatever reason.

  54. Mike C.*

    What the heck, I’m already seeing reports of employers in FL requiring people to come into work today. Why aren’t there laws against this sort of thing?

    1. Manders*

      Yeah, I’ve been following the news and some Reddit threads, and it’s just awful.

      I think there actually are some laws covering this, especially if you’re in an evacuation zone. The problem is that the people most likely to be affected by this don’t know their rights, or don’t believe anyone will enforce those rights, or know it’s illegal but can’t afford to lose their jobs.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Yeah, and even if you legally can’t be fired for evacuating you can be next on the chopping block when there are layoffs or have your hours cut or what have you. Whether it’s legal or not, a lot of people are living paycheck to paycheck and don’t have the resources to wait around and see what happens with a labor claim of some kind.

      2. Mike C.*

        Yeah, the one thread I saw talked about the owners being from upstate New York and didn’t think Irma was all that big of a deal and christ, why aren’t these employers being outed for out of touch monsters they are? If nothing else, news agencies are screaming for Irma related content.

          1. Snark*

            It’s a hurricane with 185mph winds that’s the size of friggin’ Ohio. Nobody’s unaware, they’re just heartless assholes.

          2. PB*

            No kidding! Wasn’t Harvey enough of a reminder that hurricanes are dangerous? Never mind the footage we’re already getting from Irma! I don’t understand why anyone is having trouble understanding this.

              1. Anion*

                I worked in a call center for a major credit card company in Boca Raton for a while–we were a branch of a much larger company headquartered in Delaware. They forced us to come to work during a hurricane (literally, although they did finally let us leave early), but if there was an inch of snow on the ground in DE, those sites were closed. It was one of many things I hated about that company (coupled with the condescending, “Delaware covered for us during the hurricane,” remarks we got for months afterward. Yes, Delaware covered for us for two hours during a frigging hurricane–we cover for them at least twice a month for several days on end because it’s cloudy there or something).

                That company was a nightmare for a number of reasons, but that was definitely one of them.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I don’t either, especially if any of the employers are from Florida. Irma is twice the size of Andrew and that was the worst storm that state has ever seen. If they experienced that at all, they should frigging know better. If they didn’t, then they should still frigging know better.

          3. Manders*

            Years ago, I worked in a shady call center on the west coast. I was given a list of New York numbers to call–the day after Hurricane Sandy. There was no procedure in the call center that would allow me to switch lists, use my discretion and not call somebody, or even notify my manager that there was an issue with my list. So all day, I had to bother people who were waiting by the phone for calls from their relatives or insurance companies.

            Some offices are just not set up to allow the people who are actually on the ground to raise objections.

          4. Not So NewReader*

            I have talked with a couple people in Florida and they think it will be okay so they are staying in place. Granted their areas have not been told to evacuate yet.

    2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      This is the kind of shit I talk about when people say “why didn’t more people evacuate?” Because they couldn’t because their company’s are big jerks.

      1. Snark*

        I know some folks who evacuated for Harvey. They’re going on $3000 in total evacuation-related expenses at this point, including large animal boarding.

        1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          Exactly! My brother lives in Miami Beach. He doesn’t have a car or a license. Or extra money. He is trying to bum rides out of the evacuation zone. This is why people don’t evacuate – they can’t afford it

    3. PB*

      A friend of a friend in Houston was also required to work during Hugo. This was an office job, not a hospital or something crucial. They could easily have closed. The friend eventually said “screw it” and left before things got too terrible.

    4. anon24*

      My old job was for a global corporation and their official natural disaster policy was “in a natural disaster all employees are expected to be at work. If your family or home is in danger it is expected you still come to work”.

      Granted, when we had a huge snowstorm they allowed us to all take an unpaid day (how generous) but we were all expected to be in the next morning despite the fact that the roads were still unplowed.

      1. Mike C.*

        That’s terrible. My employer has a major site in SC and they’ve already closed it down, cancelled all travel there and implemented their numerous bad weather plans to lock down the site.

        1. ForeverAnon*

          The owner of my company closed down our FL office yesterday afternoon but is giving them some discretion on when to reopen. Some of my coworkers are really petty though and still complain about my predecessor who couldn’t make it to work because she was in one of the areas directly affected by Sandy.

          1. LadyKelvin*

            My former (Miami) employer closed Wednesday until indefinitely and told all the students and staff that they were bolting/boarding the doors on Thursday and everyone had better be out of Miami by then. They will give 48 hours notice before they open again. Part of their caution is that its a university and part of it is because um its a serious hurricane and they don’t want people to die. I’m supposed to be going back for a meeting in November and I’m hoping that things will be put together enough to do so by then.

            1. Anion*

              Yeah, I’m really shocked. I lived in S FL for a dozen years, and the only place I ever worked that didn’t shut down during a hurricane–or at least have some kind of shutdown plan, as in, you could volunteer to stay for extra pay but if you didn’t want to you didn’t have to–was the credit card company.

      2. This Daydreamer*

        That’s ridiculous. I work in a place that MUST be staffed 24/7 but we would work together to make that happen. We only absolutely need one person on staff at any given time which gives us quite a bit of flexibility.

        For a global corporation to not be able to have one office closed in an emergency? Nonsense. If they had a heart to share amongst the lot they’d be actively helping their employees.

    5. Murphy*

      I know someone who was traveling to FL on business this week and her employer wouldn’t let her try to fly back early to get out of there.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think the names of these employers should be published on the internet. That seems fair. They obviously think they are being fair.

      1. Observer*

        Well, the silver lining on that one is that it’s probably going to cost the employer a pretty penny. If your acquaintance hasn’t gotten out of there, her boss is paying for a few extra hotel days.

  55. Junior Dev*

    Has anyone ever designed and recorded a video course before? I’m going to be pitching to a company that does technical training materials soon and I’m wondering 1) how to structure my pitch 2) tips on organizing the course 3) if there’s any pitfalls or advice I should know about before I start.

    1. NaoNao*

      Sure have! It’s one of my key duties currently.
      My tips:
      Organize your content into an outline first
      Storyboard the video if possible, it really helps. Storyboard details like where the light source will be, transitions, dialogue, etc
      Break your content into small bites—smaller than you think! Like, 5 minutes or so per topic.
      Write objectives and make sure they are very clear and actionable: “By the end of this lesson, you’ll be able to X, Y, and Z, recall and state the principles of blah, and complete x test.”
      Use screen shot recording software, rather than you as a talking head.
      Use some music in the background; keep special effects to a minimum
      Think about the delivery method: will it be a stand alone video in an LMS or a series in YouTube
      A pinch of creativity is usually enough. One standout creative idea per topic. So, you can make it have a funny intro, a cool concept, a memorable character, or dazzling visuals. Not all four, that’s too much.
      Show rather than tell if possible. Use still shots with arrows, plus signs, or other indicators rather than reading off a list of bullet points.

      Good luck!!!

  56. Sadie Doyle*

    One of my friends told me that she got a resume from a prospective intern that had a tropical print background, had [future career name]-in-training listed as a title after the applicant’s name, and included an “inspirational quote” from a 1990s teen movie.

    I never get interesting resumes :(

      1. Snark*

        I’m imagining a bunch of women in lab coats and goggles piling out of a limo into a a gay bar screaming WOO at the top of their lungs, and it’s SUCH A GOOD MENTAL IMAGE

        1. Floundering Mander*

          I did call myself a “Mistress of Arts” for a while after I got my MA, mostly because the dominatrix imagery amused me.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      This is my favourite applicant story I’ve seen on here recently.

      My favourite interviewer one was the pink Halloween bunny…

  57. Anon sometimes*

    How do you deal with someone you can’t stand (and triggers some pretty painful memories) coming to work at a company with you. (No direct work, ~50 people) — My boss who’s high in the company (VP) said they can try help with anything if I can think of something that would help. Does anyone have an coping ideas/ anything I should ask for?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Make sure your workspaces are situated so that you don’t have casual encounters regularly? You shouldn’t have to walk past them to go to the bathroom or the breakroom or anything and vice versa.

  58. Shark Whisperer*

    Does anyone have any advice about an employee frequently calling in sick when you have suspicious (but no concrete evidence) that they weren’t actually sick? We have an employee that has called out sick three days in the past two weeks. The three days were not in a row and conveniently matched up with shifts she had tried to get covered but wasn’t able to find coverage for. We have a policy for all our part-timers that they are responsible for their shifts, once assigned, and they are responsible for finding coverage if they no longer want that shift, with the obvious exception being when they are sick. We did have a conversation with this employee this morning about the situation and we were very clear that we don’t want this pattern to continue, but we didn’t talk specifically about consequences (I currently have no boss or grandboss and would likely need to wait until grandboss gets back from maternity leave on the 18th before imposing any serious consequences such as firing).

    But here’s the thing, this employee also has a shift tomorrow for which she has asked for coverage and wasn’t able to find coverage. What do we do if she calls out sick again tomorrow? Do we ask for a doctors note? Does that rise to the level of firing? I am all for people taking time off when they need it, but we can’t rely on this employee of she calls out every time she makes other plans or doesn’t want to come to work.

    1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      If she calls out again tomorrow can you take her off the schedule until your grandboss gets back and you can discuss discipline? Basically an unpaid suspension as a consequence?

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Talk to her and name what you’re seeing. “You ended up taking sick days for three separate days that you’d originally asked to have off and couldn’t get coverage for. What’s going on?” That alone may make her a lot less likely to repeat it.

    3. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      She’s called out sick 3 times in two weeks, all on shifts she couldn’t get covered. I’d definitely follow Alison’s advice and bring her in today to name her actions for her. And if she calls out for tomorrow, take her off the schedule until boss returns. Boss may say 10 days no schedule is punishment and warning enough. Next time it happens, she will be fired. She doesn’t have to prove she was actually ill; it’s at-will employment and she’s calling in sick too often.

  59. LondonKnitter*

    I’m trying to work out how to deal with my head of department – long story short, he is known institutionally for being a complete nightmare to work with, as he’d rather be an academic, not a HoD – we’re a heritage organisation so that’s not an option, though we are the research department. One standout bit of behaviour is standing too close to you at your desk, stating an issue and then staring at you with wide eyed confusion until you volunteer to sort it out for him out of sheer frustration. These aren’t delegatable duties but core parts of his job, like arranging conferences and handling the high level finance details.

    At the moment I’m dealing with a family member being in intensive care, which has warranted two sudden dashes home due to worsening conditions. (He’s hopefully on the mend now, though of course you can never really tell) Anyway, I’m stressed and lacking my usual tolerance for HoD’s nonsense. My usual tactic to the above offloading is to play the newbie card and ask a series of basic questions until he actually comes out and says what he’s after, at which point I can cheerfully clarify that I’m prohibited from doing anything at that high level (which is true). I’ve perfected my tone for this at other jobs and my line manager has OK’d this as a tactic.

    Over the past couple of week’s he been significantly worse, both at this and everything else. He’s started talking to me and my intern in incredibly patronising tones and I’m almost at the end of my tether. My line manager is aware of my personal circumstances and has said he can get HoD to back off due to these, but I don’t want to weaponise a family member’s illness like that, and I’m not making a big deal at work until I actually get the potential bad news.

    Has anyone dealt with a higher up like this before? Should I just take deep breaths and deal or has someone got a magic spell that will help?

    1. Manders*

      I think you should take your line manager up on his offer. I know it’s really easy to convince yourself that since *you’re* not the one suffering from medical emergencies, you don’t need any special consideration. But it’s totally legitimate to ask for a little extra care and understanding right now.

      It might also be a good idea to develop some stock phrases you can repeat whenever this guy starts doing his I-expect-you-to-read-my-mind-and-do-my-job routine. Keep repeating them enough, and eventually, he’ll learn that coming to you isn’t going to fix anything for him.

      1. Laura*

        Yes, this. “Oh no!” “Oh dear.” “Wow”. Head on one side. Big confused eyes right back at him. Feel that frustration and turn it right back on him. Keep breathing. He will either go away or move to asking directly, then you say the line that your manager’s already given you – not cheerfully, but with your head still tilted and with a ‘what a shame but yeah NO’ tone . He’s sensing your weakness. Stop being weak. It is brilliant practice for people trying to take the piss and, given that you already have authorisation to decline, it will work.

    2. Janice in Accounting*

      I think I would just stare right back with a pleasant, slightly confused look and possibly a head-tilt. Silence can be an effective weapon.

    3. LondonKnitter*

      Thanks, folks! I’m going to speak to my line manager and get him to use his discretion on reigning HoD in (tricky as that’s his boss but manageable). While I’d prefer HoD to need to adjust his behaviour because it’s the professional thing to do he has worked here for nearly 20 years so it’s a faint hope.

      I think the out-Bambiing will be awkward (I’m so very British sometimes) but should work. I also think if I start visually pushing back it should encourage colleagues to do so too – I did manage to get a fairly junior person to push back against paying for a dinner for speakers (bill expected to be over £300, would be expensed and given back ASAP) instead of HoD who earns massively more than she does and therefore can be without that money for a few days. So there’s proof it can work…

      1. Laura*

        London, I’m half-British too which is why I suggested the “Oh dear” and “Oh no”. I’m getting a v strong sense that this guy is totally pushable. Do please see this as a huge learning opportunity for you and your colleagues – once you all master the neutral push-back you’ll be able to use it in all sorts of ways!

  60. Anony McAnonface*

    I need a script because I am overthinking this and I’m going to work myself up into a real state if I don’t “Get it right.”

    I was an intern, now I’m on a three-month contract. I love this job. I love the company. I love my colleagues. I never want to leave. When two of the three months are up I want to send my boss an email asking him about the possibility of getting another contract. I’m giving him a month because a) the HR wheels turn slowly here and b) he has a lot of other priorities to worry about so I want to give him lots of time.

    We’re pretty informal, he’s very approachable, but I just can’t come up with my own script asking him if I can stay on.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Stay informal and say more or less all of this. “Hey Boss, I’ve really enjoyed working here and I was wondering if there’s any option to extend my contract?”

      Alternatively, ask about permanent openings you could try for.

      1. Jessi*

        Hi Boss, I’m in month 2 of 3 on my contract and need to think about my next move. I’m loving working here and would love to extend. Is that is an option?

  61. Julia Gulia*

    Latest battle of wills: the lighting status of the ladies’ room.

    Some employees turn off the lights when leaving the room, trying to save money and energy. (A valid endeavor, of course.) Unfortunately, the HVAC system in the restrooms is tied into the light switch for some insane reason, so all ventilation stops when the switch is flicked…turning it into a fetid poo swamp.

    Repeated maintenance tickets are ignored due to budget. Sigh.

    1. Belle*

      Leave the lights on and chip in to plant a tree somewhere. I would say put a little sign saying “the lights are tied to the fan. Please leave them on!”

    2. Manager Mary*

      Piece of tape over the switch and a sign that says “This switch operates the HVAC. DO NOT TOUCH!”

    3. E*

      We have a little note taped below the light switch in the bathroom here that politely asks that everyone leave the light on during business hours, for the same reason. The amount saved on power is not worth the smell.

    4. Precisely*

      The lights in our bathroom are on a motion detector. Some people persist in turning them off anyway, leading to a very confusing few seconds in the darkness as you wait for them to turn on. I think the habits people build at home etc. mean that autopilot takes over in these cases making it hard to adjust behavior in different circumstances.

  62. Agonizing over Job Offers*

    An old co-worker approached me about coming to work for him, doing the same job I do now. This would be great because I like the substance of my job, but find my current boss hard to work with. The problem is, I work in a small field where reputation and connections really matter, and I’ve been at my current job for only 9 months.

    Given that I’ve never left a job after less than a year, would jumping ship now make sense, or do I look like a flight risk? And am I putting myself at risk for retaliation from my current boss if I leave?

    1. fposte*

      Bosses don’t generally retaliate against departing employees; is there something about yours to make you think this is likely?

      I don’t think 9 months in isolation is a dealbreaker–the question is how long you plan to stay at this new job and how long those prior stays are–you say that they weren’t for less than a year, but if your history is 18 months, 18 months, 9 months, 18 months, I’m not going to hire you for a three-year project.

  63. Callalily*

    I think I am looking for some perspective here…

    I’ve been working in the accounting field for 3 years since graduating college. I’ve been studying part time to get a university degree (should graduate 2019), and I’ve been working for 3.25 years (1.75 years bookkeeping with a small business and 1.5 working with a 3 person public accounting firm).

    I am interested in pursing my CPA designation once I graduate and for that I need a certain amount of work experience at an eligible firm – there is only 1 of those in town and it isn’t my employer! I’ve been reviewing their openings online but everything seems to be slightly above my experience level.

    Last month during my annual review I noticed my boss wrote my position as “Staff Accountant” even though the job ad was “Accounting Clerk”. After some research I discovered “Staff Accountant” truly summarized my role better than the clerk and I updated my LinkedIn to reflect this.

    Within a week a recruiter reached out to me for this other local firm. I had to decline because the role was way above my experience level (which really he should’ve known from glancing at my profile, it wasn’t misleading). He wanted to chat more about other possibilities but I forgot to get back to him.

    Then yesterday I got a LinkedIn message from a partner at this firm saying she saw my profile and was assuming I was on my way to be a CPA. She mentioned that they do have positions for local students and said she’d be open to chatting with me.

    I put off getting back to her until this morning when I realized this was my chance to possibly slip in at entry level. I gave her a brief note saying that I had about 2 years of classes left and then I’d start working towards my CPA. I closed saying I was certainly interested in speaking to her about possible opportunities. I forgot to express appreciation for her reaching out but didn’t want to message her back after 9am and possibly reveal I was using work time to message her, I’m hoping that doesn’t backfire on me, I know she read it right at 9am.

    I’m very anxious about this… this is a national firm that can open a lot of doors in the future, they’d be saving me from a toxic job that I could be stuck in for years. I am scared that her reaching out wasn’t genuine, or maybe she isn’t interested anymore, or maybe my response wasn’t good/fast enough, or this could be some dinky part-time gig or just a summer contract that isn’t worth giving up a full-time job.

    I just don’t know. Yesterday I was so uplifted thinking that people were actually looking at me and wanted to possibly hire me… I know it is unreasonable to expect a partner to have immedaitely responded (especially when I didn’t) but it just makes me so doubtful.

    1. Callalily*

      I just heard back and this is a real thing… she said they’d be interested in discussing the possibility of full-time employment or a recurring summer contract position depending on if I was a full-time or part-time student. I couldn’t help myself and replied right away, despite being the middle of the workday.

      I have such a good feeling about this but I am scared about getting too excited in case it doesn’t lead anywhere… she just mentioned talking about the possibility, there may not even be a solid opening or maybe she has a busload of people she is discussing this possibility with.

      But I still can’t believe that a partner took time out of her day to say that they have an interest in me. Things like that don’t happen to people like me… people like me send out hundreds of resumes and hear nothing back.

      I can’t help but having a stupid grin on my face… after responding I had to hide in the copy room to pace around quickly to collect myself.

      I don’t really know whether or not to tell my family. They’d all be so proud of me for having a national firm reaching out to me but I worry about what happens if I get rejected or maybe there isn’t a real position open…

      1. Fabulous*

        I wouldn’t worry about replying during the work day. Plenty of people have notifications on their phone when they get personal emails or have their email open during the day. I don’t think it would reflect poorly on you at all.

  64. MLiz*

    News on my smoking new office mate. (Not smoking hot, he smokes.)

    He must have noticed I always opened the window when I came in and said, “Do you not like my perfume?” He wears a strong aftershave and he wears a lot of it, but this I can deal with. The smoking…. So it was time to fess up to that. I told him, “If I couldn’t have dealt with it after a few weeks I would have spoken up.” His comment was, “But it was several hours ago!”

    What can I say, I’m sensitive.

    Anyway. Situation is ongoing (he hasn’t stopped of course, I wouldn’t ask him to), we’ll see how it develops.

      1. MLiz*

        Because you can’t tell someone not to smoke if they do it outside. It’s a (mostly) accepted addiction that is legal to pursue, so I can’t very well ask him not to do it, especially when he’s jonesing for a smoke.

        I’m sensitive to it, maybe more than the average person, so that makes it more my problem than his and primarily my problem to deal with. At least that’s how I feel, whether it’s right or not is another matter.

        1. Naruto*

          Wait, okay, you can’t make him stop — but did you tell him that you can’t stand the smell of the cigarette smoke that’s clinging to him, or not? If not, you should.

          1. fposte*

            Well, she can stand the smell, as she’s said. I think it’s okay for her to say she’d like to mitigate it, though, and I would bring possible solutions and ask if he has any to suggest as well.

            1. Laura*

              Goodness yes, he knows he stinks, hence the “perfume” comment! He’s trying to manipulate you, Liz. He knows, he’s diminishing it, time to say you can’t stand it and be strong as this guy isn’t interested in solutions.

              1. MLiz*

                Well, cigarette smell is giving me headaches and sometimes triggers my migraines. But I decided to go give it another week or two, so that when I speak to him (and possibly my manager) I can at least say I tried to get used to it but the situation is not improving (I brought some essential oils that I can stand to mask the smell). This will be especially getting worse once we can’t open the windows anymore the whole day long.

                That is my whole rationale for not speaking up at once, as I have only been in this job a few months myself, I don’t want to make a huge fuss over it.

        2. Anion*

          Speaking as a smoker:

          First, thank you for recognizing that he’s permitted to use a legal product, and not making snarky comments about his “disgusting” habit.

          Second, while I can only speak for sure for myself, I would be very eager to help mitigate any problems you might be having about smelling smoke on my person. Maybe say something to him like, “{Name}, I totally recognize that you like to smoke, and would never ask you to stop, but I am really sensitive to the smell of it even hours later, as you’ve seen. Do you think there’s anything we could try? Like, I’ll buy a bottle of Febreeze and you could try using it, or something? Maybe you could leave your jacket inside when you go out for a smoke?”

          I smoke outside, and found that when I put on another layer before going out and then took that layer off when I came in, nobody smelled smoke on me because it didn’t really hit my “inner” clothing layers. So having him leave his jacket inside, or put on a different smoking-only jacket when he goes out which is then stored outside of the room, or something, might help. This is literally where the idea of the “smoking jacket” came from. Your officemate might be amenable to trying something like it, especially if you make clear that you want to work with him on it, not just order him to do a bunch of extra stuff.

          1. MLiz*

            Thanks for your comment! It’s not a habit I would ever endorse, but I very strongly feel about live and let live. I hate it when people comment that at over 30 and being voluntarily single and childless is weird and one day I will have a kid, so I very much think people are entitled to making their own choices about their body, their health and their life in general (as long as everything stays safe, sane, consensual, in the bounds of the law etc).

            I’ve thought about the smoking jacket, the problem is that we have to take our clothes into the office with us. I’ll consider asking him if maybe he can leave his in the car once he was one (he doesn’t right now but apparently is on the process of buying one), in the meantime I’ve simply stopped hanging my jackets in the same closet as his.

            But your comment is very much appreciated, also perspective wise, so I will work with this in the coming days.

            1. Anion*

              Thanks, I hope it helps! (And I am also very much a live-and-let-live-r!)

              The thing is, we honestly don’t realize we smell like smoke–we don’t walk around smugly pleased that we’re making everyone smell it. I’ll never forget on one of the occasions when I quit, a friend went outside for her break to smoke and I was stunned by how strongly the smell clung to her when she came back inside; we really don’t smell it and I had never noticed it when I smoked. So IMO as long as you’re friendly and not judgy about it, any decent person is going to try to work with you on it.

              I’ve heard Febreze works pretty well. Washing your hands after a smoke helps, too. And I wonder if you could find one of those air-cleaning fans, an inexpensive one, that might help mitigate any smokey smell that does remain?

              I’ve just done a little Googling and found that there’s a product called “Ozium” that is apparently excellent at eliminating odors, particularly smoke. So that might be worth looking into, as well. (There are lots of tips online about eliminating smoke odors, btw; maybe you and officemate can have a little fun hunting for the best ones?)

              Best of luck to you, I really hope you can find a solution that works!

    1. Jstar*

      You’re not sensitive. I hate the smell of cigarette smoke and it clings to clothes and furniture for hours. I am not sure I would even be able to work in close confines with a smoker. Fortunately, I live in California where barely anyone smokes and it is now basically illegal to smoke anywhere in public.

  65. Gently Whispering Into the Void*

    I turned down a job offer from a sibling organization just over two months ago- not the right position, not the right time. My office is very open and supportive about new opportunities, so I mentioned to a couple of close friends and supervisors the offer and my decision. The folks I spoke with understood my choice, and we all went on with our lives.

    Until August, that is, when two colleagues dropped by to ask when my last day was. And then two more the the following day. Every single day for the last month, people have been coming into my office and inquiring about something that isn’t/never was happening. People have announced their intention to take over my desk when I leave, and to place dibs on my office supplies.

    These enquiries started as a friendly check-in, but have escalated rapidly and show no signs of stopping. Nobody will tell me who is sharing this incorrect information, and I’m not sure how to proceed anymore. My fuse is short, and I’m just exhausted with it. Does anyone have any tips for how I should proceed?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I think my first conversation would be with my supervisor to make sure that s/he knows I am not going anywhere and ask if they have any idea why people seem to think I am.

    2. Amber Rose*

      A lit sign by your desk in glitter glue that says “I’m Not Leaving!” maybe?

      Just kidding. Maybe ask the people you correct to quietly mention it to people around them that you aren’t leaving, or to correct the person who told them.

  66. Amber Rose*

    Happy news! Husband and I used Alison’s interview guide to practice for an interview where he was honestly really not qualified for the job per the posted requirements, and he got the job! He was told he interviews really well. ;)

    And as a heart warming tale: some time after husband started his job, he made a really serious mistake, which he was written up for, and his boss pretty much put the manacles on him after, limiting his freedom to do stuff. Because this interview was in the same organization, she was called as a reference and apparently gave him a pretty awful one and they pulled up all the documentation about it. They called him in for a second interview to address her comments, and he was able to explain things, and they made him an offer at the end of that interview.

    So you can screw up, and you can recover if you can explain what you’ve done to fix it. It happens! I think it helped that during the first interview, he straight up told them about the write up. Taking ownership of errors is pretty important.

    When the new job starts is up in the air for good reasons, but the offer letter will be out today and his raise is HUGE.

    Now it’s my turn to find a way out… *sigh*

  67. FormerOP*

    Hi all, I was hoping that the commentariat could weigh in on something that I have been struggling with in my professional life: balancing “pushiness” and being polite/considerate/pleasant. I’ve always heard things like “you need to follow up with people at least three times,” etc. When I have been on the receiving end of a request that I am happy to do, I also admit that sometimes I need the requester to follow up with me to get the thing done. But I really do struggle with the feeling that I am being annoying/inconsiderate/off-putting when I am in the position of asking for something.
    Does anyone have a litmus test they use for pushy vs. getting what you want and still being a polite person? Has anyone overcome similar feelings in their work life? Obviously there might be industry norms that vary, but I’m keeping this pretty vague. FWIW I am a woman in field that skews female. Thanks for your thoughts!

    1. The Pretty One*

      I do a couple of things. I follow up nicely: hey, I know you’re quite busy, but did you have a moment to look at this? I also gauge their reaction. If they seem OK with it, I keep at it. If they seem irritable, I try to get to the root of it and explain why I need whatever it is that I’m requesting.

    2. Thlayli*

      Following. I also have been told I’m “nagging” and “hassling” when I ask if a project is still on track. It seems like my old workplace had very different Norms around this and I’m struggling to figure out what’s a good balance here.

    3. katamia*

      Oh, man. I struggle with this a lot, but not for the same reason. I HATE getting multiple followups from people, especially before I’ve had time to actually act on it. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a job where people would have to follow me up, so I hope I wouldn’t let it affect things, but if it happened a lot, I suspect I’d get annoyed every time I got an email from someone who over-followed up. So I tend to UNDER-follow up because I hate it so much and don’t understand how other people couldn’t (child of obsessively naggy helicopter parent here who would often tell me to do things multiple times before I even had the chance to do it after being told the first time).

      Some things that help me feel better about “nagging” (in quotes because I’m not sure it’s objectively nagging) people:
      -Giving a time frame/sense of urgency in my first email so the receiver knows whether I can wait two weeks or whether I need it NOW NOW NOW.
      -Waiting until, theoretically, someone actually has had time to do the work before sending another followup email.
      -When possible, using their preferred communication method. If Fergus never checks his emails and Wakeen always lets his phone go to voice mail, then I need to be emailing Wakeen and calling Fergus.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Can you sort out who actually needs the follow up prompts? If I tell you I will email you on Monday we can go all week without additional conversation and you will have my email on Monday.
      If someone is not replying to you, you can send them a reminder email and label it as a reminder. That seems to work most of the time in my setting.
      For the most part if someone considers you annoying for asking them to do their jobs, then that is on them. You aren’t asking for you personally. You are asking on behalf of your company or your department. With some people we have to let them be annoyed because that is their normal thing.

      In most places, I have been able to sort out who are the workers and who are the slackers. I just avoided the slackers as often as possible. Where I had choices I went to the person who I knew would respond. I do think it’s a function of time, once an employee becomes known as a hard worker people seem to respond more reliably over all. This takes time, though.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I think this is a good idea. Bearing in mind I will do what I say I am going to do and you will exasperate me if you remind me. I think you could frame it better as checking in, not reminding.

  68. Detective Amy Santiago*

    What is your ‘dream job’?

    I’m not really sure what mine is, but it would involve playing with spreadsheets and working from home with no pants.

    1. Mirth & Merry*

      Part time barista and part time professor! Super realistic I know :)
      I worked customer service through high school/college and I really do love it, there is something very satisfying about serving, but I also love my super technical challenging engineering job and need that mental workout but I miss out on interacting with people (or at least not the same few people every day). This is my imaginary “dream job” where I get to do customer service but still get my math and science fix.

      I suppose being an engineer at a contracting firm with several clients/projects is probably a more realistic career path but who says no to free coffee :D

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I want to find healthcare fraud. I’d love to audit all the CMS/Insurance data and find fraudulent doctors and clinics. To me, that would be a party job.
      And Indiana Jones. I want his job.

    3. Amber Rose*

      I had it once, sort of. I had a job searching through old land titles information years ago that was literally the best job I’ve ever had, hands down, in terms of enjoyment of my actual work. I got to spend my time around super old documents and microfiche machines, and never talk to anyone, it was amazing. It paid minimum wage however, so I was reluctantly forced to walk away. That same job paying a real wage would be my dream job.

      It gives me some small satisfaction that I was the best at doing the work they ever had. I had a minimum one week turn around even for complicated requests. After I left, I heard from people that requests were taking months.

    4. NaoNao*

      Writing imaginative little stories about the original owner of vintage clothing. (I already do that on my etsy store, but the pay is zero dollars right now, heh)

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Organizing things for people! Paperwork, computer files, closets, kitchen cabinets, you name it.

    6. Fabulous*

      Oddly enough I just applied for this exact job – as a supplement to my full-time job, this one is part-time telecommuting with flex hours. Now if only it’d pay the bills!

    7. Annie Mouse*

      Other than a successful author, I pretty much do mine already, and I’m getting a step closer to it on Monday!
      Emergency Medicine is fantastic, and an amazing job. It does have its negatives, but I can’t think of a job that doesn’t. The rewards (not the money but the satisfaction of a call that goes well) are worth it.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Best-selling author who doesn’t have to have a day job!
      Other than that, I’d like to edit and write documentation all day with no public interaction and no admin duties, no front desk subbing. Just me and headphones and my *digital* papers. Meetings and coworker interactions are okay. Food days too. :)

      Or a zookeeper who takes care of baby animals like tigers and monkeys and capybaras and foxes and wallabies and otters. That would be awesome also. But you have to have a degree to be a zookeeper. I don’t want to go back to school again.

    9. Arty Fact*

      Museum curator.

      The sad thing? I’ve turned down that position twice (first due to family circumstances changing so i couldn’t move, second because it literally didn’t pay enough to cover expenses), and it is the kind of job you generally have to move for, but I’m less mobile than I used to be.

    10. Ramona Flowers*

      The job I actually have.

      I wanted a job that involved writing, research, listening, advice, helping people, knowing stuff and being a go-to person for that, with nice people, a cause I care about, freedom to manage my own time, and no hotdesking or paperless nonsense.

      But in another life I’d love to be Cirque de Soleil’s in-house therapist.

    11. Mimmy*

      My dream job keeps vacillating between a) working in the disability services office of a college or university and b) advising on or writing about the Americans with Disabilities Act (U.S. disability rights law).

      In terms of duties, my dream list includes: creating / maintaining a resource library, writing and/or reviewing grant proposals and evaluating programs for accessibility.

  69. FreelanceTeapotMaker*

    Have you ever returned to a job you were laid off from?

    Very much a hypothetical situation at this point, but I was laid off (along with a large percentage of my coworkers) a few months ago and kept on as a very part time freelance contractor. Company is being bought by another company and there’s talk of doing some hiring and building the staff back up. I’ve been full time freelancing and I’m fairly satisfied with my current lot, but I liked my old job and going back to a regular 9 to 5 is somewhat appealing.

    The idea of going back feels weird, though. I’m not sure why.

    So has anyone ever been through this process? Was it weird? Did you feel like you could push for a better salary or benefits coming back? Or was it more like starting out all over again? How do you address it on your resume?

    1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      Not quite the same situation, but my husband was laid off in July one year. We had just bought a new house (as in signed the final freaking papers the morning they laid him off) and he’s been working since he got his first job delivering newspapers when he was 12, so he decided to take a few months off before searching for an ideal job rather than whatever he can get. We had hefty savings and knew we could go about a year before things got tight, so I encouraged it. And then his jerk-off old company called him up in December to ask if he wanted to come back as an independent contractor for busy season (tax season). They paid him essentially the same salary, but all the benefits were in cash, so his overtime was wayyyy better than in past years and he didn’t have to come in every weekend. And then he got his ideal job in Mid-March and left the company in a crunch the final 4 weeks of tax season. It was awesome.

      As the spouse, I thought it was bizarre. It’s something I never would have done. But he could not care less about that aspect of it – until after he had his new job and realized how bitter he really was (about the timing, not that he got laid off. They KNEW we were making a huge purchase because they had to confirm info to the mortgage company, the lay-off was internal politics related, and the manager who laid him off waited until the group of partners who liked him were out on vacation before she rallied a few partners to support her and fire my husband before the others returned. She was fired, no severance, upon their return, but they felt they couldn’t rescind hubby’s lay-off because it had already been announced to not just the firm but my husband’s clients.)

      Will the new owner change the name of the company? That would be one way to address it on the resume. But if you feel weird or don’t feel comfortable going back, don’t. Don’t force yourself. You can find another 9-5 job with a different company and likely have better salary/benefits. If you do decide to go back, definitely get that salary increase or benefits increase.

    2. Piano Girl*

      I was laid off twice by the same company. The first time was several years ago after I had been there for about a year. Right after I was laid off, the rest of the employees were required to take a 25% pay cut. One of my managers resigned, and I was asked to come back after two weeks off. I went back at my original pay, and eventually the other employees were restored to their original salaries.
      Last March I was laid off again, with a sizeable severance package. If I was asked back, I would need a raise and a promotion (something that I had been discussing with my manager before I was cut loose). There have now been additional layoffs, including part of the management team.
      I wish the best for my former co-workers, but wonder what the future holds for them.

  70. Snark*

    Man, it’s kind of nice to have a short week for the holiday, but damned if it doesn’t feel just as long as a regular one, and I’ve been kind of off balance and off track all week.

    1. Footiepjs*

      I much prefer Friday 3 day weekends to Monday 3 day weekends. I find that I start the week at normal pace and then surprise! no work/school Friday. Tues-Fri really does feel like an entire week. It’s not as fun.

  71. RedBlueGreenYellow*

    I have a serious foot injury, and am about to be fitted for a support boot. Do I wear the boot to my next job interview, or do I wear dress shoes and limp? (The doctor is okay with me removing the boot for an interview.)

    1. Manders*

      Use the boot! Support boots are pretty clearly medical devices, no reasonable interviewer would be put off by it. And if your interviewer does have a weird reaction to the boot, do you really want to work for that company anyway?

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Boot! I wore a boot once to an interview, and it was a nice ice-breaker. It also explained why I was wearing flats with my dress (heels are not required, imo, but the flats would have been an unusual choice with that outfit). Limping is worse– it requires more explanation, may do more damage in the long run, and slows you down.

  72. Anon for Team's Privacy*

    We have an admin we hired recently. On paper, this person was very good—had a lot of great experience, interviewed well. Good references.

    One of the biggest problems with this person is that there are massive gaps in their tech knowledge. For example, they had no idea that you could just drag and select multiple documents, and sometimes they think tabs/windows ‘disappear’ when they’re just minimized. This is leading to me spending way more time teaching basic tasks than I should be, and I think it’s leading to a general slowdown in their workflow.

    I want to give this person a chance to improve, but I’m not sure how to structure the conversation, and I’m not sure how practical it even is. For example, how do I set clear expectations for what improvement looks like?

    1. Morning Glory*

      Could you find a free online course on computer skills and have her do that as an intensive primer? Or, if you have interns in the office, have an intern sit down for a half-day to train her?

      1. Anon for Team's Privacy*

        Small business, we’re the whole operational team. Online course isn’t a bad idea, if I could find one that fits.

  73. Anonymous Educator*

    Question about minimum wage. Bear with me, as I’m not an economist and didn’t major in economics.

    One of the arguments I’ve heard against a higher minimum wage is that it would hurt small businesses that can’t afford to pay their workers more, but couldn’t that be taken care of with some kind of exemption? I mean, details of what the exemption looks like exactly would have to be worked out. But what’s wrong with an exemption?

    In other words, could you say something like “The minimum wage is US$15, but it can be lower if your highest paid employee/owner/investor makes no more than 1.5 times your lowest-paid worker.” Again, details could vary depending on what people think makes sense, but it just seems silly to penalize a small business owner who can’t afford to pay a higher minimum wage while barely making minimum wage herself while not allowing minimum wage workers at a large corporation an extra $1/hour because shareholders and CEOs want to make extra billions in profits.

    Am I missing something fundamental here? Again, not details but the general principle of an exemption.

    1. FD*

      There are several states that have that exemption. In MN, the minimum wage is $7.75 if the company makes less than $500,000 in annual revenue, and $9.50 if it’s above it. Most small businesses don’t try to use the exemption because there are plenty of other entry level jobs in our area paying more. That said, I work in a field with mostly small business owners. The problem, from their POV is less the increase and more the size of the increase and timing.

      For example, people are trying to increase minimum wage to $15 in our area. That’s a more than 50% increase. Now, to be frank, a big business can usually absorb that kind of shock, but small businesses will necessarily have to increase prices to cover that. And when you’re a small business already competing with big businesses who have more marketing dollars to push the same products, and then you have to increase your costs, that can be difficult to absorb because the fear is that you’ll deal with decreased demand in the short term and substantially increased cost.

      I know there’s a lot of argument about whether that’s true or not, and I have no idea myself. But that’s the fear.

      I do think a phased rollout would be more practical and would probably make things easier for everyone. I think the reason it hasn’t been done is that there’s always a fear (real or imagined) that if you try to do a phased increase, it’ll get repealed by a political opponent later on.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Thanks for your awesome response! Glad to hear there are states using an exemption. It’s also interesting to see a lot more nuance in your comment than I’ve seen… frankly, anywhere else (sadly).

        Most small businesses don’t try to use the exemption because there are plenty of other entry level jobs in our area paying more.

        This is definitely an important consideration. If your minimum is lower than other people’s minimums, it’s hard to be competitive in hiring. I guess I was thinking of all the “This poor small business had to close because of the higher minimum wage” stories I kept reading in San Francisco after a recent planned increase.

      2. Natalie*

        Assuming you’re talking about the Minneapolis $15 increase, it’s worth noting that it does phase in over 6 years.

        1. FD*

          I’m talking about another area of MN in this case, but it’s good to hear that’s how they’re doing that in Minneapolis! I would think $1/hr/year is a plausible rate of change.

    2. Manders*

      I actually live in a city where small businesses did have an exemption: we’re rolling toward a $15 minimum wage, but the rollout for small businesses was slower so they had more time to catch up.

      It definitely did not hurt small businesses, except for a few that were already teetering on the edge because they were poorly managed or selling an inferior product. The majority of those small businesses were selling some kind of not-necessity item or service (restaurants, clothing boutiques, hobby shops, spas, etc), and the fact that the city’s low-income workers suddenly had extra spending money was hugely beneficial to them. So I’m very much for raising the minimum wage.

      My issue with your proposal is that there are a whole lot of abusable loopholes and possible unintended consequences. Companies could switch to a franchise model and claim that all the workers in their stores aren’t really their employees. They could try to classify every low-wage employee as a contractor, worsening the whole gig economy situation we’re already dealing with. They could find other ways to compensate the top brass with stock options and bonuses that are exempt from the law. Big companies that have to use the higher minimum wage could fire their own departments and hire a bunch of small companies or independent contractors to do the same work for less money. Big companies could cycle through temps who aren’t technically their employees. Big companies could try to classify as many people as possible as exempt, paying them a low wage for long hours that would work out to less than minimum wage. Basically, it’s a cool idea in theory, but it would be a nightmare to roll out and enforce and I seriously doubt it would happen in this political climate. I think raising the minimum wage across the board and increasing taxes on the top 0.1% is easier than further complicating labor laws.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        My issue with your proposal is that there are a whole lot of abusable loopholes and possible unintended consequences.

        Certainly, but I think that’s more an issue of implementation than an argument against the general concept. I mean, right now big companies are already abusing legal loopholes to avoid paying taxes. I’m sure whatever you do, they’ll find ways around it!

        1. InternWrangler*

          I think that an exemption could also make it harder for small businesses to compete for talented employees. If they are not paying a comparable wage, they will find it harder to compete for good employees. Another nuance to consider.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            Well, they don’t have to use the exemption. The exemption would be more for “We need to do this or we’ll go out of business” and less “Let’s just pay people less because we can… even though it means we won’t be able to compete for talent.”

    3. Ann O.*

      FWIW, to date studies have not found that raising the minimum wage actually hurts small businesses or employees. There is perpetual fearmongering because businesses don’t want to do it. But the data isn’t supporting it. There is a single study on Seattle’s that claims to have found a reduction in hours for low-income workers, but it used non-standard methodology and had (at least in summary) pretty inconsistent results (overall employment remained high with no appreciable dip and jobs at a higher-than-minimum wage increased). Other studies found no negative effect.

      Also, all minimum wages that I know of are phased in to give businesses time to adjust. If that wasn’t done, I’m sure there would be a lot more businesses that struggled to adjust.

      1. FD*

        That’s probably true. But when politicians talk about raising minimum wage to $15/hour and don’t bother to talk about details, it does scare the crap out of small businesses. When you tell any business person that their costs are going to go up by 50%, that makes them nervous. After all, you’re talking about a guaranteed cost increase, and a theoretical revenue increase.

        I’m not saying you’re wrong about the outcome! But if someone told you your rent was definitely going to increase by 50%, but your income would probably increase too, it’d make you nervous, right?

        Unfortunately, this discussion tends to be pretty adversarial–mostly IMO for political reasons. In the political spectrum, one side benefits from being seen to be sticking it to big business, while the other benefits from being seen to protect the establishment. This means that the finer details often get lost in the media shuffle, and people on the opposite side of any given argument are likely to stop listening and dig in their heels.

    4. Oscar Martinez*

      I have mixed feelings about exemptions… I just don’t think it’s fair that employees have to subsidize small business operations with their human capital.
      This doesn’t mean I’m not pro-small business! I wish government would subsidize small businesses and help them meet min wage requirements, is all :)

  74. Student*

    This week, I got told by my internal project manager Sven that I’m not “nice” enough to a project collaborator, Frank, from a different business.

    I told Frank his results, in a report that is supposed to go to the client very soon, were wrong. I was even trying to be polite and gave him a face-saving out when I said it. Frank’s results were really, really wrong and it’s easy to demonstrate factually that they are wrong – think along the lines of 2+2=5. Frank himself admitted they were wrong, and that he didn’t review them at all before sending them to us – he counted on his computer program to generate correct results automatically.

    His computer program has been generating similarly wrong results for over a year. I’ve spent most of the last year on this project trying to “nicely” get Frank to make corrections to his program. Frank refuses to make any changes I request, basically ignoring me and refusing to communicate with me. For the last year. The corrections I’m asking for are factual, not matters of opinion – he’s not multiplying by the right terms, he’s not using the correct data set, etc. I’m not arguing about ~1% quibbles, either; his results are off by anywhere from 2x up to a factor of 200x.

    To top that off, during this project, Frank once called me a stripper. No provocation to it; he was just being rude because he thought he could get away with it (or maybe some weird attempt to flirt with me?). Yes, Sven knows about this, all of it.

    But Sven thinks I’m not “nice” enough to Frank.

    I’m just venting here, because it wouldn’t be “nice” to pummel Frank or Sven.

      1. Student*

        Oh, Sven is leaving in 3 weeks for an offsite promotion, so not much point in that.

        Leaving me to try to get a new project manager up to speed. Leaving me to deal with the fallout if Frank sends his incorrect report in to the client over my objections.

      1. Laura