open thread – October 20-21, 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.

{ 1,559 comments… read them below }

  1. Boo*

    My organisation is making staffing cuts of more than 33%. People are aware they are at risk, and details re posts will be confirmed before Christmas with redundancies being effective as of March 31 2018. My question is, what the hell do we do about the staff Christmas party? Have one? Not have one? I’m wondering whether to suggest to management that they take the Christmas party budget and divide it up between staff…it probably wouldn’t be much (£25 each, something like that) but better than nothing…what do you all think?

      1. SophieChotek*

        Yes I agree. I think that extra money would be more appreciated than a party – and yes, perhaps an extra day off (or the extra hours off that would be devoted to Xmas party) might also be appreciated more.

        1. Boo*

          Oo, this is an excellent idea, thanks both – the party normally starts mid afternoon in one of the meeting rooms (voluntary sector so we never normally book anywhere external) so giving people the afternoon off would be great!

    1. Anonymous Poster*

      Yeah I would skip it. It will come across as incredibly callous. Think of the optics:

      “Hey everyone, Merry Christmas! We thought it was more important to throw a party where you’ll be demoralized while trying to job search on the side, instead of trying to save as much of the staffing levels as we can.”

      I’d argue to your management that this is a major optics issue, and suggest that they try to cancel and give a small bonus or something instead. People will appreciate the cash.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        I agree that they should skip it, but I do want to push back on the idea that the Christmas party gets in the way of “saving as much of the staffing levels as we can.” Boo says the cost of the party is 25 pounds per person… that’s not saving anyone’s job.

        1. Anonymous Poster*

          You’re right, but it’s an optics issue, not an accounting problem. People will grumble that they’re cutting positions to throw a party, regardless of the accounting reality.

        2. Anxa*

          But $25 could save a lot for the employees. That $25 isn’t going to do much to boost morale at a party at this point, but other more direct employee appreciation efforts (cash, supplies to do job, an early dismissal time) could be better.

      2. Windchime*

        Yeah, callous is a good word. Old Job continues to lay people off (despite assurances that “this is the last round”) and wages were frozen; no raises for any reason this year. And yet the company had a party for upper management on a yacht with a band, dinner and drinks. For “bonding”. You can pretty much imagine how people are feeling about that.

    2. 2 Cents*

      Divide the money between the staff. At the very least, NO PARTY. I was at a company that did layoffs, and when they held the holiday party, it was like, “Are you not aware you just let half of my department go?”

      1. DDJ*

        Yeah, it can be really rough. Before our Christmas party last year was formally announced, a memo was sent out stating that the party had already been fully paid for (as the space required confirmations a full year in advance), which was why they were still having it.

        I thought it was smart that they answered the question so many people would have been asking: how can they justify a big party when a quarter of the staff has been let go in the last year?

        I don’t anticipate that there’s going to be any kind of party this year, since we’re going through round 2 of major cuts.

        1. Lindsay J*

          Yeah, if the place I was at had big staffing cuts and then a party at minimum I would want an email with an acknowledgement that the optics were terrible and an explanation as to why it was still happening, and an acknowledgement that they understood that most people would not be feeling holiday cheer and would instead be upset that they were losing their job or worried that they might be next on the chopping block.

          If those two things were shown to have been considered by management I would be okay with it happening. And especially if they made an effort to tone it down a bit from years past. If people like their jobs and their colleagues they might want the chance to socialize a bit, network, etc. Especially if the choices are “Prepaid deposits or budgeted party funds go to waste completely” vs “We do something for the employees.”

          If using the funds for cash or other bonuses and giving time off are possible then it definitely seems like the better choice though.

    3. k.k*

      I like the idea of dividing up the money for staff. It would be really demoralizing to see that my company was blowing cash on a party while saying they couldn’t afford to keep us. If there is some type of rule that the budgeted amount needs to be spent on actual items for the party or some other reason you can’t straight give them cash, they might be able to get around it by purchasing gift cards for everyone (something versatile like Visa gift cards).

      1. Boo*

        Thanks! Yes I was thinking maybe Amazon gift vouchers or something (we’re a charity so not sure what the rules would be around gifting the budget to staff, but if we can I think this would be nice).

      1. Boo*

        It’s ok, it hasn’t been booked yet! I was just wondering what alternatives I could suggest to management when it can’t be avoided any longer.

    4. De Minimis*

      We’re going through the same thing, we’re still having our regular plans.

      What helps in our case is that we’ve already told everyone what’s happening to them, several months [sometimes more] in advance. I think it would be hard to have a celebration if you still had a lot of uncertainty about the future.

      Also, the cost for our parties is fairly minimal since we’re a small organization. I think in our case morale would suffer even further were we to cancel it.

      1. Mirth & Merry*

        Ditto, like De Minimus said it’s a little different than your situation because our people are already gone, not living with the unknown. But we just did about 20% layoff (and about 30% last year) and morale is so low the Christmas party goes a long way to make the company (at least appear to) suck less.

    5. commonsense*

      A few years back they announced they were closing my entire site of about 150 people and slowly but surely laid off 95% of the staff. They remaining 5% were relocated. We not only had one holiday party but two. We also invited all the laid off employees. Now that was a party!

      1. Chaordic One*

        It seems more fair, that if you are going to have a party, you invite and include the people who were laid-off. I’m not sure if the laid-off employees would enjoy it, but I like the idea of inviting them just the same.

    6. Blue*

      I’d actually fall on the side of doing SOMETHING, but not a party. Maybe buy lunch for everyone in the office, every Friday in December. I mean, cash is always great, but I’d think that a low-key bonding event would be nice.

      1. Boo*

        Thanks! This is a really nice alternative to a party/if we can’t just share out the money we would otherwise have spent. Everyone in this office loves free food!

        1. Specialk9*

          I’d lean towards asking management to potluck in food. That way the employees get free food – unlike an actual potluck in which they all bring in food – and it’s clear you really are cutting costs, not being extravagant, but that you want to honor the employees for all they do.

          1. H.C.*

            Oh, my OldJob at a nonprofit did this when they had a bad year in fundraising (it was just after Great Recession); of course, a few grumbled that we didn’t get to have a catered, out of office party, but most of us appreciated management’s efforts for this (some of whom came in around 5 a.m. to get the breakfast prep started) and, of course, batting for our jobs and pay.

      2. H.C.*

        I’m also on the side of doing something, too; as mentioned earlier, the cost savings isn’t going to save a job – and it provides an opportunity for colleagues to say goodbye to one another (esp for those who collaborate regularly but don’t see one another day-to-day)

      3. Marmite*

        My office has gone for the low-key approach this year since the organisation just cut over 1/3 of staff. Usually there is a party held at an external venue. This year there’s festive food and (non-alcoholic) drinks in the office on two occasions (beginning of December and the day before the office closes for Xmas/New Year) with a ‘quiz of the year’ at one and a ‘Great British Bake Off’ treat tasting extravaganza for the other (we have an office bake club!).

      4. Anon Accountant*

        I think this would be nice. A lunch on a Friday afternoon and the rest of the afternoon off would be an alternative.

      1. Emily S.*

        Seconded. People at my company get VERY excited about gift cards, even just $25 for Amazon (which are sent to people who perform especially well on a specific job).

      2. Bagpuss*

        If this is in the UK, gift cards (or cash) would both be taxable, which makes it more complicated

    7. Jule*

      This happened at my previous place of employment. There was a subdued late afternoon party in a large conference room (so people did still take lunch beforehand if they wanted their personal hour, though there was still plenty of food at the event–though not so much that it would make anyone think “if ONLY you didn’t DO things like this BRENDA would still have her JOB”) and it was a good opportunity for the CEO to give a speech about the loss and about moving forward. It was handled really well on the whole.

    8. Jillociraptor*

      We have had this exact debate over and over. With layoffs generally, people have many different emotional reactions to the experience, so just keep in mind that no matter what you do, given the heightened emotional state, someone will be upset about it. There’s lots you can do to be sensitive and mitigate unnecessary bad feelings but you can’t make everyone happy.

      We have had some staff who feel that it’s very insensitive that the organization is throwing money at a party when they or their friends are losing their jobs. And we have had some staff who feel it’s really insensitive to eliminate all of the fun, communal things and traditions when they’re already under stress. What’s important is to be clear and direct about what’s happening. Maybe there’s the possibility of offering an option, knowing that some people will want the community experience and some might just want the money.

      It might also be good for management to just be real about the situation and ask what people think. They could tell the staff that they realize that the staffing cuts are really challenging, and they’re wondering how people are reacting to the Christmas party. They’ll probably hear varying perspectives, but it can be good for people to just see and hear that their leadership is taking their thoughts into consideration.

      1. Jake*

        This should win comment of the day.

        You can’t please everybody, and honestly, if I knew major layoffs were coming, and my morale was already low, I’d probably be upset that the Christmas party was still happening, and I’d probably be upset if it was cancelled. Low morale has a way of making everybody look at the negative side of things, so I think it is important to note that you should expect some negativity around this regardless of how you handle it.

      2. Blossom*

        +1. I’m actually really surprised at how strongly anti-party the sentiment has been in this thread. I must be weird (in fact, I know that I’m usually the most unruffled person in the office about stuff like this – but I certainly have other sensitive spots that aren’t shared by everyone, so I know I’m not an emotionless robot!).

        So for my weird self, for whatever it’s worth, I would be surprised and disappointed to see the party cancelled. It would feel like adding more negativity to a challenging time, and depriving employees of a treat. Personally I might even feel patronised if I was told it was being cancelled to spare my feelings – and a gift of £25 would not exactly help. (I appreciate this sum of money will mean more to those on more limited budgets, but on my middling-to-comfortable budget, and almost framed (if only by timing) as something between a Christmas bonus and redundancy compensation, it looks pretty derisory.)

        I do think (and this is my general opinion on office parties, but particularly in this case) that it should be an informal, non-mandatory event. I agree with the poster who said it should focus on making employees feel appreciated for the work they’ve done.

    9. ToledoShark*

      Could it be morphed into a ‘thanks for working so hard this year’ party or similar rather than a ‘yay Christmas’ affair? I think to blanket withdraw it would be a bit callous too, as they’re already having a cr*ppy time and now you’re taking the office party away too (remember: optics). Ideally if you can ask for their input on how to proceed that would be best.

    10. Thlayli*

      Any time I’ve worked somewhere there’s been layoffs around Christmas, the party has been cancelled. It’s generally seen as bad form to spend company money on a party when they could be spending it on postponing people’s departure. (And yes obviously £25 a head in a small department wouldn’t go far in postponing anyone’s departure, but it’s more about optics than anything else).
      You could let people know that they are allowed to organise their own voluntary party, so long as no one is pressured to attend or donate.

    11. Amy*

      £25 may not be a huge amount of money, but it’s enough that people will appreciate it. I think giving them the cash as an end-of-year gift would be a more welcome gesture than a party, under the circumstances; no one wants to party when a bunch of their colleagues have just been laid off.

    12. Anonymous Panda*

      I wouldn’t give the cash, as it is likely that they will lose a chunk of it to tax – something untaxable like time, especially in the run up to Christmas when people might have family commitments, could be a good alternative.

    13. Argh!*

      I would have mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s the last chance for the whole crew to get together for a good time. On the other hand, if everyone has been feeling competitive against everyone else, it would be awkward.

      No, I’m not ambivalent, on second thought. I love a party!

  2. Spiral Sharpie*

    I was laid off without notice last year a couple weeks after the election. In many ways, it was a relief as my workplace was toxic, my boss was an absolute nightmare, and I was miserable every single day. But it really was the *worst* possible time for that to happen. It’s been a rough year to say the least, and I’m still job-hunting with nothing much on the horizon.

    I just feel like I continue to struggle with separating my own situation from what’s happening in the country and the world. It’s hard enough to look for a job in the best of times. In the worst of times (now), it feels impossible to stay motivated and positive, to not get distracted by the daily onslaught of craziness, to not spend a lot of time worrying about where things are going or what might happen next (e.g. for a period of time I couldn’t stop worrying about whether I was going to lose my ACA health insurance), and to fight the urge to hide out and binge on Netflix rather than job-hunt.

    I’m hoping to hear about how other people are coping and tips for how to work/look for work in the midst of chaos. Thanks!

    1. Emma*

      When I was job searching, it was really helpful to have a schedule. Otherwise, I did a lot of TV watching/internet looking, which can be very anxiety producing. Obviously you need the internet to apply for jobs, but there are only so many job opportunities that arise per day.

      It was helpful to volunteer at various places, to get out of the house and stay busy. One of my volunteer opportunities also helped me build skills which I then used on my resume, which I think helped get me my current job. So sometimes, dual purpose. But at the very least, I found it super helpful to not be at home watching Court TV (Because apparently that’s what’s mostly on in the daytime– yuck).

      1. k.k*

        Volunteering is a great idea. It helps fill in that resume gap, and give you something to keep busy with. Plus, when you feel like the world is falling apart it can help to do something to give back.

        1. strawberries and raspberries*

          Plus you make really great relationships if you treat your volunteer work like a job. True story: I got hired at my organization after I volunteered with them for a year and the director of the program I was helping with handpicked me to apply for an open position.

      2. Ms. Mad Scientist*

        I did dog walking/cat sitting during my last unemployment stint. It didn’t pay a whole lot but it got me out of the house every day. My boss was very flexible and would pick up walks if I had an interview. And I got to meet some great dogs and cats.

      3. couch sweet potato*

        How did you enforce the schedule? I’m having trouble adhering to mine. I create a list of things I want to do but then I just… don’t… move…

    2. TSG*

      So before I found my current job, I was in an incredibly high-stress, low pay job at a failing company. I was super anxious and depressed all the time, I hardly had energy to do anything, let alone leave work, go home, open my computer back up and start writing cover letters. But I knew I had to get out of there.

      So I started by being pretty lazy about it tbh – I’d scroll through jobs and only submit to ones that didn’t require a cover letter so I just had to attach my resume. I posted my resume to job sites and connected with recruiters kind of just hoping jobs would come to me and I wouldn’t have to think about. I got an interview pretty early and put a lot of energy and effort into the interviews just to get turned down in the final round. It really threw my focus for a few days, wondering how I was supposed to keep doing this, going to multi-round interviews and taking time from work that I couldn’t afford to take, etc. It is a super draining process, especially when you’re in a bad head space!

      But on evenings or weekends where I felt a little burst of energy I’d sit down with a coffee and play some fun music and sit and apply to jobs and write my letters and put all my energy into it. I couldn’t do it as often as I should have, but I was able to do *something*, which made me feel a little better.

      My recruiter ended up connecting me to a job that I didn’t think sounded very good for me, but I interviewed and talked to them and it ended up seeming not too bad. I’ve been in the job for a couple months now and I really, really love it. And now that I’m in a better place and better paid and not stressing about all those other worries so often I’m a lot more motivated and productive.

      So my advice would be to try and do the bare minimum when you can, find jobs with basic applications, things that won’t require too much effort but can still help you feel like you’re accomplishing something. Then if you have some days that feel better than others take an hour or two and just really focus on doing well crafted, more involved applications. Try to network, meet with recruiters. If possible, try to see a counselor. Work on applications when you’re hanging out with friends or in some other kind of supportive environment. Just mostly try to remember that you don’t have to always be “on” if you don’t think you can be, but try to do at least a little bit and then do more when you have the headspace for it.

      1. Artemesia*

        Any sort of accomplishment lifts the spirits a little. During a similar stint, I made sure I had a to do list that includes lots of things I could do in half an hour or so. This can include housework; having pleasant surroundings and ‘getting something done’ is energizing. And for the job search itself try to identify small tasks that can be done and checked off. Just getting a few things accomplished even if it is laundry, a sparkling bathroom and a crockpot stewing just makes you feel like a productive person.

        Sign up for a couple of exercise or yoga classes a week. Where I am the park department has inexpensive classes. Of if that is not affordable, schedule exercise e.g. M-W-F go for a 3 miles walk before breakfast (if you have a friend who is up for that, even better)

        It take a long time to find a good job; my daughter was out for 2 years after her office closed when she was on maternity leave. She had a few offers but wisely didn’t jump at things that were clearly not going to work out well. She got a great job and quick promotions but that company folded. And then after another nearly year long search has a really good job that pays well and plays to her strengths. But a lot of long stretches and misery getting to this place.

        Recognizing that it is a slog, focusing on effective job search and building a life in the meantime that has its constant small rewards and a schedule of activity will help you live while in this suspended animation in your work life.

      2. Venus Supreme*

        I went from a horrific, toxic job to a not-so-great job and I’m terrified about falling back into the mindset I was in at ToxicJob. I think my problem was that I went into it with high expectations. I was wondering if you changed anything on your end that made you love your job — did you enter it with low expectations? Didn’t let small annoyances get to you? Made an effort to be happier than at your old job?

    3. a girl has no name*

      Ooo yikes! I am so sorry you are dealing with this. In time of chaos it helps me to create routines in my environment. I set goals and have a schedule for the day, even if I am not going to work. It seems crazy, but even showering and putting on something other than sweatpants seems to put me in a better mood. You can make a goal to apply for two jobs each day and give yourself a reward when you meet that goal. Also, self-care is so, so important. Make time for baths or exercise or meditation or a hobby you enjoy. Routines and self-care always seem to help me in chaotic times. Good luck! We are rooting for you.

      1. KAG*

        Routines really saved my life during the many years out of work because of my TBI. One book that really helped me develop healthy routines was ‘Sink Reflections’ by Martha Cilley (the “FlyLady”. She’s helped a lot of people- I highly recommend it!

    4. Anonymous Poster*

      I’m sorry about the rough things you’re going through. They are rough, and I don’t want to minimize it. Job searching isn’t any fun, and being without your income is really tough. I’m hoping that you’ll find something soon!

      As far as things at a higher level – I’d suggest instead focusing on the people and events local to you. While the tales of woe and crazy from the world are disheartening, let’s be honest: How does it affect you, personally, in your daily life? Does all of it really impact you?

      Of course, sometimes the answer is yes – like healthcare. But the vast majority doesn’t. It’s okay to care about these things, but you only have so much ‘care’ in the tank everyday, you know? Is it more important to allocate that ‘care’ toward your job search, or to events that don’t directly impact you and that you can’t do anything about?

      To help you preserve it, I’d also suggest turning off the news and stop checking the sites where you get the news. If it bleeds, it leads, after all.

      This is the same advice I give to anyone, really, even people that aren’t going through hard things but are getting spun up about things they can’t control. I used to be one of them – but I found volunteering at a local organization helps me focus on something I can impact and control. I can’t control Kim Jong Un, but I can help gather food for families struggling in my neighborhood. I can’t change Hollywood people committing sexual abuse, but I can invite my neighbor over for dinner and connect with them.

      I’m hoping you find something good soon.

      1. Jesca*

        I agree 100%. I am not job hunting, but I had found that the news lately is just too much. I allocate once a day to checking the news. I have removed all news organizations from my social media. I have also unfollowed anyone who continuously posts inflammatory posts. It has actually given me a lot more perspective and compassion while allowing me to focus on the things that actually do affect my day to day life.

        1. Queen of Cans & Jars*

          I’m exactly where you are. Too much news/political vitriol makes me feel anxious and helpless, so I’ve cut way back on media consumption.

        2. Specialk9*

          I’m not job hunting, but the stress of 2017 literally burned out my adrenal system. On doctor’s orders, I’m not allowed to read news sites anymore unless work related, and even then only skim, not fixate. I can’t really even do Facebook much.

          I listen to audiobooks from the library (Overdrive app, free with library card number), color in an awfully coloring book (Jenny Lawson put out an awesome one), read humor and cooking blogs. And I read AAM *a lot*. (Thanks Alison for not being about He Who Shall Not Be Named!)

      2. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah, I’m not Job hunting, but I try to limit my time on social media, and avoid too many news sites. I actively avoid reading the comments sections on news articles because people just frustrate me, and I skim quickly past friends who are really involved in discussing these things. Basically, you have to learn how to scroll quickly sometimes!

      3. Wanda Trossler*

        Thank you for this comment. Even though I KNOW all this, I really need a reminder and your words summed up perfectly what I needed to hear. I’ve saved them to read again when I’m having a bad day (hope that doesn’t sound weird).

    5. Pineapple Incident*

      I feel you. I wasn’t laid off last year, but was job searching and making little enough at ExJob that I was running out of time before I wouldn’t be able to pay my portion of rent without getting a second job.

      I found that getting organized with my job search made me feel empowered even if nothing was happening- like I was taking control of how I managed my search. I kept every email I ever received from an employer. I read AAM religiously and finally took a lot of the advice that I had processed but not fully implemented, like interview tips and revamping how I wrote cover letters (you know, I’m sure, how a lot of us are like “I’m already doing that!… I think I’m already doing that… maybe I’m not doing that after all..).

      My biggest single organizational thing was maintaining a Googledoc Excel sheet on every job I’d applied for, no matter what it was. I had fields for the company, position, when it was posted, when I applied, link for the posting, when (if ever) I heard back about the various stages of the position and when (if ever) phone screens, 1st and 2nd round interviews were held, and notes. Sometimes the notes were like “crazy interviewer, avoid forever, self-selected out 7/31/16” but they were still helpful. If I hadn’t heard from a job at all after 2 months, I wrote N/A in all of my contact-related fields and moved on. It was kind of a nice way to close the book on things.

      TL;DR- Sometimes it helps to take control of how you manage your search, in whatever small way you can. Good luck!

      1. Turquoisecow*

        That’s spreadsheet is a good idea. After a while you kind of lose track of whether you’ve applied for a job or not, whether you heard back or not. I didn’t feel like I had the mental energy to go that far, but I did move all my job related emails to a folder so I could easily locate the information if I was wondering.

      2. Emma*

        Yea, I did something similar. I also had a folder where I saved job descriptions, cover letters, and resumes (if they differed), since a lot of times if I got an interview I’d have trouble remembering exactly what the position was/what I sent them.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I do this!! I did it in 2012 and I’m doing it now. I color code it, too, with highlights. Bright yellow is In Progress (interviewing), light purple is No Reply, light brown is It Rejected Me, and light orange means I Rejected It or there was something weird or they decided not to fill the position.

        Since a lot of the low-level jobs around here tend to get reposted, it helps me keep track if they show up in listings and I’ve forgotten whether I applied already or not.

      4. GeneralKnowledge*

        +1 on the Google spreadsheet as the best job hunting organizational tool! I’ve been hunting for 3 months and it helps me keep track of the many things that go along with job hunting (interviewer names, times, org website, notes, etc.) but also keeps me accountable to actually submitting applications. I found that without it I would spend a lot of time hunting for jobs to apply to, bookmark them, and feel like I did the thing for that day and move on. This helped keep me honest about how many jobs I was actually applying to, and made it easy to set goals for each week/month. I haven’t landed a position yet, but this thing really keeps me sane amidst the awfulness that is the job hunt! Best of luck to you!

    6. SpiderLadyCEO*

      I feel you! I was in almost the exact same place, and honestly what helped me was having another friend who either worked from home or was job searching to come over and make a day of it. (Also met job searching friends in coffee shops and such around town. Having a job search buddy helps A LOT.)

      That way, I had company, it was less boring, we could proof read each other’s work, and then when everything was done we would make dinner together and watch a movie.

      I also tried to schedule something everyday – I would make plans to meet another unemployed friend for coffee, or yoga. We tried new things, and signed up for classes. I joined more social groups then I ever had before, just to get out of the house and meet people. These things made sure I had something bright and fun to look forward to and enjoy and gave me a framework to work around. Then, when I felt better about things, I was more able to get things done.

      (This isn’t directly related, but I also started glueing evidence of everything I did into my planner. Movie stubs, concert wrist bands – that way, when I look back on the year I am able to see the positive things I did, and I won’t just remember being on the couch – which to be fair I did a lot of.)

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I honestly am in the same boat–I lost my job two days after the election, and it was pretty fooking awful. I mean, I was already super upset and then oh, here ya go. Bye.

      I’ve just been doing the best I can. I was slowly becoming aware of my anxiety issues and how they were affecting my life over the last ten years or so, and how they contributed to me losing my job. So this year, I’ve tried to take steps to mitigate them (meditation and exercise) and it’s helped a lot. I can’t do any therapy because I have no money and no insurance. (Yeah, here comes a tax penalty on top of all of it. That should be fun. :P)

      And I’ve been working on my own projects as well (books). While still looking for a job. All I can do is keep plugging away. It is super hard to motivate myself when I have nothing else going on. I try to get out of the house as much as I can–having a weekly dharma group meeting helps, and tomorrow, I’m spending time with my nerd group on our last street cleanup before spring.

      I’ve been doing what I can to help–calling my reps about harmful legislative proposals, the protest when You-Know-Who came to town, and trying to raise money with the e-book for Puerto Rico. It makes me feel better about the situation to try and do something. Once in a while I have to step away from social media and the news, and that’s okay. I have to devote some time to self-care or nothing I do will be effective because I won’t be able to do it. You can choose to resist or not–some people cannot right now, and that’s okay. I will do it for you. :)

      All I can say is this: do what you have to do for you. Eat well and get plenty of sleep. Don’t sit home–find stuff to do, even if it’s only going for a walk. Go to the library. Visit with friends; don’t isolate yourself. For right now, things are still somewhat stable. I’ve been trying to proceed as though they’re going to stay that way.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Sing it from the mountain tops, EW. Yes to all this, OP.

        Cut way back on media, now is not the time to be surrounded by negativity. We can’t help our country if we are not on sure footing ourselves, get your own situation looking different, then worry about the country.

        Watch the isolation. It’s fine to take quiet time, it’s not fine to sit there alone week after week. Some people can connect with others once a week and that is enough. Other people need daily contact with people. Find out where you are at and build a plan.

        Quiet time. It’s not wrong to want quiet time, time where we just shut out the world. This quiet time can be restorative. Many people think it is escapism and it can be when used randomly. However, if you plan a quiet time each day, this is totally reasonable and totally healthy. Upping the stakes here, figure out how you can use your quiet time to grow you. Read, take a free online course, learn a new skill. The trick is to be deliberate about how you use your down time.

        Last. What you are talking about is powerlessness. And it’s pretty normal to feel powerless when unemployed, eh, even employed people are feeling pretty powerless right now. Think about ways you can take back your power. Start this process by thinking of things you can do. Suppose the first thing that pops into your mind is “I can glue that broke chair leg back into place.” Good, do that. Give it your best. When that is done look around and pick something else. This is how we take back our power that we have lost for whatever reason.

    8. Luna Lovegood*

      I love to make things – crochet, painting and drawing, sewing etc. – and being creative has got me through a lot of anxiety and uncertainty in the past. It helps to develop new skills and that feeling of accomplishment is awesome! You can get materials for that sort of thing pretty cheaply and it really gives you something to focus on.

      A few commentors have recommended volunteering, too, which I have also had great experiences with, having met some lovely people and picked up some useful skills.

    9. Rachel in NYC*

      I’ve been in your shoes. And agree with what everyone says about the importance about coming up with some sort of schedule. I’d suggest- apropos of your feelings about what’s currently going on- that you might feel better if you look for volunteer activities that both take advantage of your skill sets (and let you grow them) but that might make you feel that you were making difference in an area that matters to you.

      For example, I started volunteering with an organization that does work regarding election laws and election legislation- it gives me an opportunity to work on my writing skills and work on something that is deeply personal to me.

    10. Robbenmel*

      When I was out of work for a year, I was able to work some as an extra for movies and TV shows filming in our area. It didn’t pay a lot of bills, but it was fun and required very little in the way of brain power, which was a relief for me; you sit where they tell you until they tell you to move somewhere else. Just chat with other extras and people-watch…worked for me. I got to meet some pretty famous people, meet some cool not-famous people, and generally got myself out of the house a couple of times a month.

    11. AudreyParker*

      Thanks for asking this, and thanks to all the commenters – I’m in the same situation, it’s interesting to hear from other people. I don’t know anyone else who is (or has been!) unemployed, so it’s been really difficult to not feel a) like I’m the only one who doesn’t know the big secret to getting hired, and b) like what’s the point, when I’m probably losing my insurance and the apocalypse is imminent anyway ;) I’ve also been trying to crack down on what I perceive as my slacking by not letting myself go anywhere other than medical appointments, since I feel like it will look like I don’t take my situation seriously. So it’s helpful to hear about other people actually taking time to do things that might actually be enjoyable or non job-search related, and that being ok! I haven’t felt comfortable volunteering since my productivity level is so low I need all the time & energy I can get for the job hunt (for some reason, not finding any opportunities that might actually be skill-building as well). It’s definitely a daily struggle not to default to an X-Files binge, but just allowing for baby steps as making progress and dialing back my Twitter time has helped a bit, as has getting a bit more exercise outside on most days.

    12. Thlayli*

      It sounds like you are ab the verge of becoming depressed (or possibly already depressed). And still reading the news. My advice is to delete all your news apps, switch stations when news comes on tv or radio, avoid social media as much as you can and eg block news sites on FB – basically reduce your exposure to the news as much as possible.
      You will still hear any really important information through the grapevine. But you really don’t need and can’t afford to absorb all the misery in the world at the moment. Your mental health is more important.

  3. Wonderwall*

    I am administrative support for a department. I answer to the director and the dept representatives under that director. I help with all the reps except one, Joe, who had an assistant of his own. The assistant left recently and after much debate, they don’t want to fill that position. Instead they want me to assist Joe.

    Joe has been with the company for at least a decade and brings in more revenue than anyone else. Because of this, he is allowed to act however he wants, which means frequent yelling matches. He will often storm into the offices of other representatives to yell and curse if things aren’t going his way. His assistant told stories about how he would curse and yell at her too if something went wrong. She tried to take it up with the director but she was brushed off, again because of his standing in the company as the highest grossing earner.

    His last assistant had a pretty tough backbone and was able to handle him in her own. I am definitely not like that. I have never been the victim of his tantrums but I know me well enough that I can’t put up with that. And i know that I shouldn’t have to! I’m willing to give it a chance but if he acts up, I won’t be able to handle that on a regular basis. I don’t think the director would let me not assist him since the last assistant made complaints and nothing changed for her. Everyone knows what his deal is but won’t make him change because of his revenue.

    I’m now really anxious for the next few weeks to see what he’s like to work with. I’ll give it a shot but I left my last job after years of tolerating passive aggressiveness; I can’t handle active aggressiveness. How should I handle things if they go badly? My friends/family say I should be blunt with the director and tell her I’ll quit if they continue to force me to work with Joe. I think I’d rather stick it out until I can find a new job because to be critical of the top seller in the company probably wouldn’t go well for a reference. What do I say to interviewers if this is the reason I’m leaving (especially since this change comes after being here less than a year)? I really like my job actually, but I will not work with someone who is given free reign to throw verbal abuse at me.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      What do I say to interviewers if this is the reason I’m leaving (especially since this change comes after being here less than a year)? I really like my job actually, but I will not work with someone who is given free reign to throw verbal abuse at me.

      You could couch it as “not a good fit,” but that usually just leads to follow-up questions about what wasn’t a good fit. I know the conventional wisdom is that you shouldn’t badmouth a former employer. When I’ve interviewed candidates, though, I don’t mind them mentioning bad parts of their previous job, as long as they sound balanced about it. If you otherwise liked the company and/or job, you can say what you liked about it and that a change in management made you want to leave.

      1. Jadelyn*

        I remember doing a phone screen for a woman who was leaving a job she’d had for 6 years, and I asked what prompted her to search for a new job. She explained that after a few changes of management at her current employer, the culture and work environment had changed in ways that she found detrimental, so she was looking for a new environment where she could thrive again. She said it so graciously and calmly that it didn’t come off at all complain-y, there was genuine regret in her voice, and I absolutely didn’t hold it against her.

        I think the thing about badmouthing former employers is more about complaining and being super negative, like “I’m leaving because my boss is a jerk and I hate the new duties they’ve piled on me” versus “There was some restructuring and the nature of my job changed significantly from what I was actually hired to do, so I’m looking for work where I can focus on [whatever].”

        1. Amy*

          Very much this. “My work transitioned over time at (company), and I realized that the environment in my current area wasn’t a good fit for my work style” doesn’t come off as complaining. If they ask for detail about what wasn’t a good fit, you can focus on the positive by discussing what you’re looking for in a new workplace, e.g. “I work best in a collaborative atmosphere, so I’m impressed by your strong commitment to teamwork.”

          Someone with strong communication skills may read through the lines and interpret the combination as “I was forced to work with a bunch of rude, combative jerks, and I’m sick of it,” but if you’re phrasing it in a generally gracious, positive manner, most people won’t see that as a problem. The problem with complaining isn’t that you were in a bad situation; it’s that you think it’s appropriate to use an interview as a venting session, which reflects badly on your judgement.

    2. LKW*

      There is a technique that might help – I don’t know if your company culture would allow it but it’s called the Slam and Scream. You can find the book online. It boils down to when someone is being an ass – you walk into their office, close the door and then yell right back. You put them on notice that it doesn’t matter how they treat anyone else, but you are not going to stand for it. And then you help them as asked. If I recall correctly it was aimed at the admin staff in law firms – since lawyers are notoriously argumentative and hot tempered.

      It might get you fired though. For interviewers I think it fine to say that you left as the position was not a good fit.

      1. Fact & Fiction*

        Ironically, I became the favorite backup support for one of the most notoriously difficult partners in my large law firm when I covered for him for a few months precisely be sure i stood up for to for with him. I was also super competent at a lot of things other support staff members who covered for others were not. He was the kind who needed someone who could Get Shit Done without bugging him and able to take it when he got intense. He raised his voice to me ONCE and I firmly but professionally Shut That Down. He actually came back to apologize later and we got along great ever after. Down side: he’d try to chase me down to do stuff for him when his assistant was out even after I went back to my normal duties.

        Oh the stories K could tell about way worse attorneys…He just made people cry because he was intense and wanted stuff done. At least he wasn’t one of the throwers of things…

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It’s been an expensive lesson in life for me, but at least 90% of the time when we tell people to STOP, they generally do. We do not believe that our words have that much weight or power but reality is our words DO mean something to others.

          I know that you don’t like confrontation, OP, but this guy is confrontational. At some point there will probably be a confrontation.

          I remember one night decades ago, my husband was away. I heard a noise on the far side of the house.
          I realized I could hide and pray I was not discovered. But in my hiding spot I would be cornered (small area) and I would not be able to fight well. PLUS, I would be fighting on the intruder’s terms NOT mine, as I am stuck waiting for the intruder to find me in this tiny space.
          With that, I decided that I needed to set the terms for the confrontation. I picked up my handy baseball bat and proceeded out to search the house.

          Life is like this. Some times we know there is going to be a shit-storm and it’s just a matter of when and how. Just like that intruder was wrong to walk into my house, this “person” is wrong for yelling at people and treating them like dirt. Since you have no tolerance for this, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Tell the guy you will not be screamed at. You will help him as much as you can but you will not help him if screams/cusses at you/etc. Tell him before anything happens. Your bosses will not back you, but they won’t back you if he does abuse you, so this is more of the same thing. Again, nothing to lose and everything to gain.

          The intruder turned out to be my landlady. (wth?!) I had the baseball bat up in the air and realized at the last second it was her. We both screamed. I was shook to the core. As calmly as I could I said, “You need to call first.” She said, “I thought you guys weren’t home.” I repeated the one sentence I was capable of saying, “You need to call first.”

          She never, ever did that stunt again.
          We have to tell people NO.

          1. only acting normal*

            My 90+yr old great-grandmother heard an intruder one night, she went to the top of the stairs and yelled “Fergus! Wakeen! Get up! There’s someone downstairs!”
            Intruder left.
            She lived alone, but chose two names common for 20-somethings at the time. Canny woman.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              [adds to book of tricks]

              I should have been able to figure that out. That’s really good. In the 70s my father pretended to have a police tap on our line. That pretense worked and the dude with the death threats quit calling.

    3. The IT Manager*

      “Not good fit” is a terrible answer because you were a good fit for however long you worked there until Joe became your responsibility.

      I think you have to come up with a way to say that Joe was the problem. You don’t want to come across as fragile so you have to have a level of honesty about it.

      1. Anna*

        Yeah, I agree. It looks weird that you worked there for a significant period of time and then decided you weren’t a good fit. I think it would make more sense to say something about your job changing or the direction of the position was changing and you realized THAT wouldn’t be a good fit for your goals. Or similar.

      2. Been there*

        I agree with this. I think the OP could figure out a way to describe ‘Joe’ in a general way that would make it clear that he was ‘that guy’ – everyone in their organization has one and that when he became part of her core responsibilities she tried x, y, and z to work with him and ultimately the conflict was not resolvable. She would have counter that with examples of how she was successful with others and how she successfully handled normal workplace conflict.

        Bonus points if she could work in there somehow… “It was unfortunate for both myself and the others I supported successfully, however I understand the situation from the company’s point of view and their reluctance to rock the boat with their highest revenue producer. I wouldn’t have considered leaving if not for the conflict from this individual that was well outside of the realm of normal workplace conflict and interaction.”

      3. Mephyle*

        You were a good fit for a long time until your job changed so that you were now reporting to a person whose management style didn’t ___________________. (fill in the blank, suggestions welcome)

    4. OhNo*

      This might be a case for one of Alison’s scripts about the requirements of the job changing. I can’t seem to find an example right now, but it was something along the lines of, “I really enjoyed my position initially, but the needs of the business moved in a direction that wasn’t quite as good of a fit for me. I’m looking more for a position where I can do X.”

      That allows you to point out the parts that you liked, and covers why you stuck it out there for a while, and also gives you an opening to ask about specific things that you might have concerns about (like the personalities you’d be working with in any new job).

    5. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      “Changes in the job which were not a good fit for you”

      I’ve had to come up with something similar – I’m looking due too. Job is fine, coworkers are fine. New Mgr – not fine.

      1. Liane*

        “Changes in the job which were not a good fit for you”

        Yes, use this or something similar. Maybe, “The duties were changed.” IMO, “Supporting several reasonable people” is a very different Job Duty than “Supporting several reasonable people plus a Screaming Jerk whose bosses won’t make him behave professionally or fire him.”

    6. J*

      “I really enjoyed my job for the first year, but then the job responsibilities changed and were no longer a good fit for me.” or even “I really enjoyed my job for the first year, but then my work was expanded to include support for another department. Our work styles are not compatible, so I’m looking for a better fit.”

    7. Business Cat*

      Could you talk to one of the people that you currently report to? Let them know that what you have seen of Joe’s communication with past reports gives you pause for concern, and ask how they would like you to handle things in the event that he becomes verbally aggressive with you. Their reaction will tell you how you should probably proceed. Either they have a plan for dealing with his misbehavior and reassure you that you’ll have backup, or you’ll get some version of “try not to let it get to you.” You already know that it will *definitely* get to you (which is reasonable!), so let that inform your choice to stay or to look for other work.

      If it becomes a situation where you need to leave, I think you could explain it this way: “I really enjoyed my time at [Company], but there was a change in management that significantly altered my role as well as the culture of the office as a whole. Since I had reasonable assurance that the situation was unlikely to be resolved, I thought it was best to seek out an opportunity that was more in sync with my skillset and strengths.”

    8. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

      I’m so sorry – this situation sounds like it kind of sucks all around. All I can do is tell you how I handled an agressive screamer that I used to assist. Maybe it will help you prepare or give yourself some ideas for his (unfortunately most likely inevetiable) first tantrum directed at you.

      I just treated this guy like I would a 2 year old throwing a tantrum (particularly one that I’m not responsible for). I just let him scream it out. I stared at him with a blank face while he screamed. I didn’t try to interject or defend myself (at this point) and if asked a direct question I stuck solely to action oriented responses (I refused to engage in his tantrumy illogical train of thought). I thought of myself as a temporary robot. The most I would do was offer him vague apologies “I’m sorry about that. I will send you x” or “apologies, I will reprint those right now”. It seemed to make things worse briefly, but eventually he’d get it out of his system. After things cooled down sometimes I would email him an explanation or correct whatever he was mistaken about, but most of the time it was clear that he knew he was wrong or overreacting so I just let it be.

      Thing is, he actually stopped tantruming at me after two or three times and I became his favorite person to direct work to/interact with. My theory is that I didn’t give him the emotional reaction that he was looking for (he was upset/felt stupid so he wanted to reassert his power and make someone else feel that way instead), but by not reacting I denied him the response he was looking for.

      I’m sorry you’re in this situation. From what you wrote, it sounds like you will most likely need to move on. If you’re interviewing elsewhere I think it would be fine to say there was a shift in your responsibilities/coverage from when you interviewed, making the role no longer a good fit. I know you’re not supposed to bad mouth former employers, but I think being honest and factual is just not the end of the world. Something along the lines of “there was a change to the professionals that I cover, and I now support someone who has a temper and can be quite aggressive/hostile. Some people have very thick skins and do fine in that sort of environment, but I know myself well enough to know that it’s not the right fit for me.”. But then, who knows – take this last part with a grain of salt. I feel like sometimes we twist ourselves in knots trying to not “badmouth” our former employer, but like – there’s obviously a reason you’re leaving. Sometimes its hard to strike that balance between honesty and “not badmouthing”.

    9. Artemesia*

      One thing I have seen several times is that people put up with crap and then a new person comes in and doesn’t and it changes.

      I would first be job searching; get that resume in shape and begin making contacts.

      Second, I would step up and do good work for Joe.

      Then, the very first time he pulls this crap on you, I would stand up and say ‘I will not be spoken to like that. If you are verbally abusive I am not going to do your work.’ And then silence. And don’t do his work until he is polite to you.

      Is it a risk? Yes, which is why the job search is important. But sometimes what it takes for something to change is someone not putting up with abuse. ‘I don’t want to work for Joe’ is a different demand then ‘I will not do his work if he is verbally abusive and continues to create a hostile workplace.’ (I know that this is legally technically not the case but it is factually the case and many businesses are sensitive to this phrase. ) Be the person who does not tolerate abuse. If your boss tells you ‘that’s just the way Joe is’ tell her ‘well I don’t tolerate verbal abuse, that’s just the way I am.’

      ‘Verbal abuse’ and ‘hostile workplace’ are words to use not ‘yelling’ or ‘rudeness’. No one should have to put up with this. And practice these scenarios so it flows naturally when it happens. If you have those two sentences ready and have said them a dozen times, they will be easier to deliver the FIRST TIME he screams at you.

      I am betting they either get him his own assistant or he tones down with you. It is of course a risk of being fired, but it may be hard for them to fire someone who is clearly saying ‘I won’t be verbally abused.’ This is a very different moral stance than ‘I won’t work for Joe.’

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        Yes!! What Artemesia said. Despite what you’ve heard about Joe and his tantrums, continue to do your best work for him (just as you do for the others in your group). Then the First time he ever directs a tantrum at you (IF he does) you nip it in the bud right then and there. Then go directly to your manager and let her know what transpired and why.

      2. lulu*

        All of this. This is your chance to change it. You might still have to leave but it’s worth a shot.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        A friend just told an elderly parent this and a miracle has happened. Parent is on good behavior now with friend. But not with the rest of the family.

    10. anon for this*

      Is it a symptom of the overall culture, or is it just the one guy? If it’s just the one guy or if they want to fix the culture it can be addressed.

      My entire department has explicit permission to hang up on our yeller, and we’ve all done it. He’s a top performer but we can’t support him if he can’t communicate effectively. That message is being conveyed from our VP to his VP, down to his manager, and to him, plus through HR. It’s still frustrating but we’re starting to see results.

      If you’d want to stay if the yelling stops, ask your manager to help you problem solve. Don’t go into it with an ultimatum but ask for help addressing an issue you’re worried about. The tactics to solve it could be anything from hanging up the phone to your director physically interrupting the tantrums. If the director won’t help problem solve ramp up your job search. Everyone’s advice about just saying the job changed is spot on.

    11. Specialk9*

      Here’s a technique: before you see him, gather a cloak of calm and a backbone of steel. Then when he becomes verbally abusive, calmly and quietly say “Please do not talk to me like that.” And when he continues, “Please do not speak to me in this abusive manner.” Do not yell or get sucked into arguing.

      Make it so that if he complains about you, he’ll be using your term. It leads people to think, “yeah, he’s pretty abusive.” rather than “OP is in the wrong.”

    12. Natalie*

      As far as how to handle Joe’s screaming, which technique you think will work best for you – practice it! Find a friend who’s willing to yell some improvised work jazz and practice your chosen technique until it feels comfortable. It sounds silly but it really does help.

    13. msroboto*

      I have been dealing with a yeller for a bit.
      Technique one he starts to take something out on me I leave the room. In fact I could easily just drive away. I am a contractor and I will not be yelled at.
      I also walked out of a meeting when the same guy started yelling at another guy.
      And our new favorite. I was talking to a couple of people including the guy that keeps my schedule (which is good for me). He came in yelling and wanted me to help one of his people. It was about 4:30 person was leaving at 5:00. Guy that keeps schedule says she can do that tomorrow AM. Love him. You yell and expect results into the penalty box with you.
      After that all went down I said to him if you came in and nicely asked is it possible for you to help employee with xx she’s leaving in a half and hour and we need this done. How do you think that would have gone down compared to how it went down.
      He’s in his 70’s but he is learning that he can’t yell without consequences and those might be his priority is not my priority – thanks to the guy that manages my schedule!!!!. You can teach an old dog sometimes.

    14. Thlayli*

      It seems to me there’s a possible solution here, which is to come up with a plan with your managers support ahead of time for dealing with Joe and your manager to back you up when you follow through. There’s a number of steps:
      1 getting your own manager to acknowledge that this is a problem
      2 coming up with a plan for how you will react when Joe inevitably yells at you
      3 following through and
      4 (crucial step) your manager supporting you when you take the agreed action
      If I were in your situation I would go to my own line manager and have an honest conversation. Tell her “Sally told me that Joe used to yell and curse at her frequently. Im worried he will yell and curse at me too. I have a very different personality to Sally and I know myself well enough to know that I will not be able to work well under those circumstances. In fact I expect that if I’m subjected to the level of verbal abuse Sally was, I will probably end up spending a lot of time crying in the bathroom, which will obviously affect my ability to complete my work. I would like for you and I to come up with a plan ahead of time for how we can deal with it when Joe inevitably begins to verbally abuse me.”
      So you’ve laid the problem out pretty clearly and honestly. There are a few ways she might react;
      1 she could brush you off and act like Joes behaviour is NBD
      2 she could understand what you are saying but not really have any idea what to do about it
      3 she could acknowledge the issue and come up with some ideas to help solve it
      If it’s 3 then great, but if it’s 1 or 2 then I think you can react By saying something like:
      “One possible option is that when Joe begins to abuse me I can [insert behaviour here – I’ve put a list of possible responses below]. Or I could [response 2] or [response 3]. Can you please think about this issue and I’ll come back to talk to you in [give a set time like tomorrow or on friday] when you’ve had a chance to consider” then pretty much just walk away. Hopefully even if she has brushed you off she will actually think about it and engage when you return.
      List of possible ways you could respond:
      1 burst into tears and become incapable of doing anything for a couple of hours (you could include this as [response 3] if it’s an accurate reflection of your personality and if your boss genuinely doesn’t seem to recognise how big the problem is)
      2 stand up and walk away
      3 yell a specific phrase back to him as loud as you can e.g. “STOP YELLING AT ME” or if you think Joe might genuinely not realise how bad he is behaving you could try defusing the situation with humour and yell at the top of your voice “I CANT HEAR YOU SPEAK UP” or something
      4 sit completely silent and stone faced
      5 say something like “yes of course sir no problem right away I’ll fix it” to get rid of him and then go to your manager to explain why it’s not possible to fix and get your manager to deal with him
      6 call out for help and have someone come help you eg someone who sits near or your manager herself
      7 after he leaves file a complaint with HR
      You can probably come up with some other options and hopefully your manager will engage with you to help.
      If your manager refuses to acknowledge the issue or accept your solutions then you could try enlisting the help of one or more sympathetic colleagues. It sounds like you are good at your job and provide support to a lot of people so it’s in their interests that you continue to be able to do that. So they might be more willing to help come up with solutions.
      If no one is willing to help you come up with a plan then you will have to come up with a plan yourself. So pick whatever behaviour you think is best and email your boss (so you have a record) saying “as discussed earlier i am very concerned that Joe may verbally abuse me in the future, as I was told he verbally abused his last assistant. If he or anyone else begins to shout or curse at me I plan to [do x].”
      Then if you get in any trouble for doing x you have the email as proof that your manager knew ahead of time. If your manager tells you not to do x then ask what you should do instead. If she tells you to do something you can’t do like “just ignore him” or “stand up to him” then reply “I really don’t believe I can [do that]. Knowing his and my personalities I think any attempt on my behalf to ignore him will just end up with me bursting into tears (or whatever) which I really don’t want to do. What should I do in that situation?” All of this in writing.
      If your manager ignores you or insists on something that you think will not work, then just see how it pans out. When it inevitably happens try to do what you planned or what manager has instructed you to do and see what happens. If you end up reduced to tears and unable to work for the rest of the day then go back to your manager and point out that this is exactly what you worried would happen and the plan is not working. Depending on her response that’s the time to go to HR. So you can complain about both joe’s behaviour and your managers lack of support.
      Good luck

    15. Tabby Baltimore*

      I didn’t see this anywhere in the 35 comments that I read, but before you start working for Joe, I hope you will consider having a conversation with your direct supervisor about how to balance the work you do for the director, and the department representatives under that director, and Joe himself. I’d be asking things like “Well, since Joe brings in more revenue than anyone else, does that mean I need to make his requests my first priority? If not, how do you suggest I prioritize between the director’s/dept directors’ work and Joe’s work? And who will be making that priority list clear to Joe before I start working for him?” I don’t think your leadership has really thought through the consequences of allowing you to work for Joe; I don’t think it has yet occurred to them that Joe will almost certainly end up–for all intents and purposes–demanding ALL of your work hours to support just him, but he sounds to me exactly like the kind of guy who would do that. Asking this question of your supervisor should shake him/her up a little, and I hope s/he will come back to you with solid guidance, and be willing to be the person to tell Joe how much of your time he can expect to get. Please keep us posted. We are all rooting for you here.

    16. Bagpuss*

      Coming late to this, but I had a situation with a boss a bit like this – he would shout and scream (and if anyone responded in ind, he would then turn it around and accuse them of behaving inappropriately because they shouted!. It was not functional workplace)
      The first time it happened to me, I was really shaken and said to him ” can tell you’re upset. Can we talk about this a little later when you are calmer?” . It completely de-railed his tantrum – he stood there with his mouth open for a few minutes then walked out of the room.
      A variation on this may work – practice a calm face and make a conscious decision not to (visibly) react, either by showing you are upset, or by responding in kind. Ideally a kid of bored / slightly ‘WTF’ expression, and a response that makes clear that you’ll be happy to assist him once he is able to calm down and be clear about what he needs.
      I also agree abut raising it with your manager / HR and make a formal complaint about his abusive behaviour each and every time it happens.

  4. Nikki*

    In general how long do you wait to update your LInkedIn information when you start a new job?

    On the one hand I feel like I should indicate I’m no longer at my old job, but I’m also a bit wary of updating to the new job before probation period is over.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I updated immediately when I started my new job. I figured if it didn’t work out, I could always delete it.

      1. Specialk9*

        My current company, people can wait a year or more! It’s pretty odd. Honestly, I’d wait till out of probationary period.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I update immediately. Of course, most jobs I’ve taken haven’t had a probation period. When I start, I’ve really started.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I added the company and the position immediately. I still haven’t added a description 10 months later.

    4. Pineapple Incident*

      I think Alison’s previous advice on this was Day 1 at the new job, since you are actually there. It’s easy enough to change a position or delete one that if you were to leave during your probation period, you could just do that instead of maintaining your page with previous employment up top.

    5. Buu*

      I work in a non client facing role, so I tend to wait until I’ve passed my probation. My industry is unstable and I’ve heard several stories about projects getting cancelled and the new firm using the fact the employee is on probation to get rid of them. I don’t really want to update my profile and then have to change it.
      I think it’s a bit different if you’re client/ PR focused as people; as you need to network from the get-go.

    6. Ramona Flowers*

      Immediately, but I’ve also always passed probation periods and never thought of that as an issue until people mentioned it on here – then I finally got why some people don’t update so quickly.

    7. ThatLibTech*

      I would update it immediately. Don’t be like me and forget about it, and don’t realize it until a year down the road when someone sends you a little “Congrats on the 1 year anniversary!” notification, and you haven’t been there in four months …

    8. Is it Friday Yet?*

      I usually wait a couple of days or a week after I start. I don’t want it to look like updating my LinkedIn profile is at the top of my list of priorities.

      1. Rainbow Hair Chick*

        I would wait a few weeks just make sure you like this job. I think you can get a pretty good sense of whether or not its going to work out. Best of luck to you!!

    9. Close Bracket*

      Even if you are no longer at your current job after the probationary period, you have still left your last job. To update that part, you need to balance how long you are comfortable with that information being out of date with whether or not you are ok with people thinking you are out of work.

      You don’t say how long the probationary period is. In my field at my level, it’s typically 6 months. To me, that seems like an awfully long time to let people think I was still at my last job. If you are looking at 3 months, don’t worry about. People neglect their profiles all the time.

  5. always know the name of the game*

    Regular commenter using a different handle.

    I am dealing with a very frustrating situation at work and would love some advice/coping techniques. I have started a job search because I realize that this situation isn’t going to change, but until I find something, I need to figure out how best to manage.

    I work in a small office with only 4 other people. I like the work I do and the people I work with, but one of my coworkers (Chris) is driving me crazy. Our job requires serious attention to detail and Chris has none. Chris routinely sends out mass emails with typos or with very vague information. I am usually the person who answers the phones and frequently have to deal with phone calls from people saying “I got an email from Chris” that I know nothing about and doesn’t include enough information for me to know why Chris wanted them to call in.

    Here’s the issue: Chris is the partner of Pat, our boss. It’s not at all unusual in our corporate culture for couples to manage offices together. I know that Pat has some frustrations with Chris’s lack of attention to detail, but I also know that it’s highly unlikely Chris will leave this position.

    Any tips or tricks on how I can deal with Chris without losing my mind?

    1. Murphy*

      Can you ask to be copied on emails where Chris is asking people to call in? If there’s not enough information there for you, maybe you can find out the details before they call?

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      So you say the office has only 4 other people. Does Chris have a manager? Or is Pat (the boss) the direct boss of everyone?

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      I am usually the person who answers the phones and frequently have to deal with phone calls from people saying “I got an email from Chris” that I know nothing about and doesn’t include enough information for me to know why Chris wanted them to call in.

      Do you have the option of saying “I’m sorry, I don’t know, you’ll have to speak to Chris”?

      1. Happy Lurker*

        “I’m sorry, I don’t know, you’ll have to speak to Chris” – this and then take a deep breath. Clearly it is in your nature to help, but squash it. Just patch them through to Chris as quickly as possible.

          1. Happy Lurker*

            That stinks! So, you are stuck trying to get the information out of the person on the phone. That is super frustrating. My technique would be honesty with phone caller. “Can you send me that email, I wasn’t on it” or “I know nothing about it, please bring me up to speed”. I would guess that the lack of attention to detail is noticed by them as well. I would also guess that asking Chris to include you on emails may fall on deaf ears, but that could also be a good first step.
            For Chris…smile and nod. If they are a partner, they are not leaving and you may not (but you can try) be able to reprogram their MO.
            Put your time in, get your experience and know that you will not be there forever. Allow yourself time at the end of the day to decompress, if possible.
            Good luck!

    4. D.W.*

      Have you told Chris about the impact his emails are having on your workload (having to respond to people’s inquiries) and that in general his emails aren’t very helpful? If not, I’d start there by saying, “Hey Chris, I’ve been receiving some inquiries about the email you’re sending out. Is there a way we can work to add more salient information in there for the recipients?” There is probably a much better way to say that.

      But since you are the admin, maybe you can get permission to send emails out on his behalf from his email address, that way you can make sure all pertinent information is there and control what goes out. I used to do that for my boss when I was interning.

      1. always know the name of the game*

        I think I do need to have a conversation about sending the emails with more details. I may be able to work it so that I’m the one sending them out, but I’m not sure. It’s worth a shot!

    5. fposte*

      Is there somebody other than Chris who can handle these mass emails? If somebody–like you–created a template, would that help, and would Chris follow it rather than making up new language?

        1. Tabby Baltimore*

          You might even think about storing these templated messages in Chris’s own Mail Signatures section of his/her Outlook. He can name them whatever he wants, so perhaps that will help him/her remember what each one is for. When s/he makes a selection, and clicks to open them in the little window, s/he can copy/paste them directly into a blank email. Or, alternatively, just keep a blank template in the Drafts section. I hope “re-programming” Chris doesn’t get too painful.

    6. LKW*

      Bring Pat concrete examples of the issue and the result, as in for this email, I spent x hours fielding calls, correcting things, etc. and ask Pat to speak with Chris and perhaps work with the other three people in the office to review his work before it goes out to clients. Yes, it adds to your workload but a half hour review of an email may save 1 hour of fielding calls from customers.

    7. AnotherHRPro*

      I would transfer those calls to Chris (assuming there isn’t a reason you can’t). I understand that Chris is frustrating you, but only you can decide what bothers you. As have decided to leave and are actively looking for a job, I would focus on that. And each time I found Chris annoying, I would use that as a reminder that I need to send out another resume.

      Good luck with your job search!

    8. Artemesia*

      Any chance you can put through these calls to Chris or Pat? It doesn’t change until they feel the effect.

    9. anon for this*

      For the mental game on dealing with Chris – my therapist tells me I need to accept that some people aren’t logical and won’t change. She’s right and it’s going to take me years. I’m getting surprisingly good mileage out of repeating to myself “he can’t help it” when dealing with my Chris. It short circuits the frustration.

    10. As Close As Breakfast*

      I also work at a family-type business where the relationships range from sibling parental to spousal, and boy can it feel like tip toeing through a mine field sometimes. I’ve had occasion to deal with issues that have sprung up with one of the owners spouses, and have found it helpful to be emotionally detached. My suggestion is to approach Pat and state the facts of what is going on and then ask how Pat would like to you handle these situations. The key is to be as unemotional about it as possible and make only factual statements. So while you may want to say “people call in and I have no idea what to do because Chris sends ridiculously ineffective emails!” keep it straight to the point and try your hardest to keep any indication about how you feel about any of this out of it. Something more like “When I am fielding a call from a customer calling in, in response to an email from Chris, where I don’t have enough information to help them, how would you like me to handle that?” Just sort of lay the facts out there that Chris sends an email, people call in because of it, you don’t know enough about it to help efficiently… what would Pat like you to do? All of this runs the risk that Pat will sort of shrug it off and nothing will change, but sometimes it can lead to behind the scenes action that will make things easier for you. Good luck!

      1. always know the name of the game*

        This is really helpful. I think a combination of this and the suggestions above that I try to take on more of the responsibility for those mailings will help.

  6. Nervous Accountant*

    Is it normal to be asked a lot of questions about your company rather than your own skills & background?

    I went on an interview this week. I had a prep call w the recruiter the day before, so I was fully prepared. I just didn’t like it. I can’t place my finger on it but I m trying to trust my instincts here.

    1. The owner who I interviewed with started off asking a lot about my company. He wanted to know how their fee structure is, how they generate revenue, how much they charge clients etc. I was so thrown off by this. None of this was in the prep call, and I never had this at other interviews. He asked what sets my company apart from others…it felt like I was trying to sell my company to a potential client! It was like 75% company, 20% my background & experience.

    2. Benefits were discussed (he initiated and I just answered whatever he asked). PTO is great (goes up to 4 weeks) but insurance is only 25%. I’m not enthusiastic about that.

    3. He said that he’s gotten a few candidates with 10+ years of xperience from the recruiter, and they weren’t too great.

    4. The office was tiny and a lot of paper. I was told it’d be a small office (15-20) but this was even smaller than I anticipated. People seemed nice, the front desk/office manager was very nice, one guy let me in to the office, and OMGGGG THERE WAS A DOG (best part of the interview, no DAY, IMO). but it was still very small.

    I was told that he’s a super nice guy, very funny and nice and willing to teach, but all in all, the focus on my company and how they operate rather than my skills made me uncomfortable.

    The recruiter had instructed me to call him right after the interview, so I did. I told him I was unprepared about the company questions and that threw me off a lot for the rest of the interview since they were so unexpected. I also mentioned that it was smaller than I anticipated but the biggest deal breaker was the insurance–I told him I’d have to be offered at least $70k to take it.

    I’m dodging the recruiter but I have to get back to him. I don’t feel bad, at least I gave it a honest shot. I’m just super weirded out about the Qs about my company–is that normal?

    1. Blue Anne*

      That’s weird. It sounds like he was using the opportunity to find out information about a competitor?

      1. Beth Anne*

        That is what I was thinking. I’m like are you self-employed hiring a potential client or an employee? Seems like he’s trying to get inside info.

      2. Specialk9*

        So the interview was him asking you to divulge confidential proprietary information? (Skeptical head cock)

      3. Thlayli*

        Yeah he was using the interview as a way to do corporate espionage. Wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t even a job at all!

    2. AndersonDarling*

      If it was a second or third interview and they knew they wanted to hire you, they may take the opportunity to ask other questions. It may be a case where they wanted just preliminary information to understand if you worked in similar environments (company size/ structure stuff) and it may have run off the rails because the conversation was flowing so well.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        No this was the first one. And I just sent a note to the recruiter that I’m bowing out. Although I’m pretty sure it’s mutual so. At least I tried, no regrets!

    3. LKW*

      Agreed. In my company we have policy that these types of questions are verboten and if hired, a person can not use any methodology or business intelligence from prior employers. Small companies can be great – but they can also be really difficult if the culture is toxic. People can seem really nice, but that could be a show as everyone will be on their best behavior.

      If your spidey-sense is tingling… listen to it.

    4. Antilles*

      Not the way you’re describing it. Asking questions about your role in the overall company structure is absolutely reasonable, since titles are often hard to interpret from the outside and even within a given range, what you do can vary wildly. But what you’re talking about is ludicrous. I just don’t see any reasonable hiring-related use for knowing how OldJob charges clients or their revenue generation model.
      The only, only possible exception would be if he had some special out-of-the-ordinary model and wanted to use your OldJob as a point of comparison “So it sounds like you’ve had the usual dollars-per-hour structure, but here we have a fairly unique payment model where clients pay us by shipping raw iron ore which we transmute into gold, which is then sold on commodities markets. How do you feel your sales skills would fit in that model?” And even then, he should only be asking a couple lead-in questions to set up the topic, not spending “75% of the interview” on OldJob.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I think there’s a huge possibility that that was an element-trying to c how I fit in. But I was just taken aback by the “how do they make $$?” I HATE saying “I don’t know” in a work capacity but seriously, what the hell dows that have to do w me???

        1. AnotherHRPro*

          I don’t agree with the approach or the specific questions asked, but he could have been trying to assess your business acumen. The probes may have been to see how much you understood the industry and your current company. But it does sound a little sketchy. Although, sometime small companies do weird things when they are recruiting.

        2. Erin*

          Well…I’ve worked at software companies that are monthly recurring revenue ($X per month per client- think paying $9.99/mo for LinkedIn or whatever) and companies that do a license + maintenance (200k for a 3 year license + 10% annual maintenance).

          Public vs private companies are different too- quarter end is a BFD.

          It does impact lots of areas outside sales or finance- how you prioritize implementations, upgrades, client work, how you move mountains (all of you! Legal! Engineering! Marketing! Admin!) to get something in on Sept 30 vs Oct 1.

          So, depending on the department this role reports into, it could be insightful to know where a new employee is coming from in terms of understanding revenue impact of their work.

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        And from what I know, theirs was the typical small CPA firm where they bill clients. My current company follows a different model. I can understand curiosity but it was still weird to me.

      3. Jillociraptor*

        Yeah, as described this seems pretty sketchy. I often ask questions in this family to understand the scope and complexity of a candidate’s role and make sure we’re speaking the same language (e.g. what “business development” means to someone in a small shop versus a large shop will vary a lot). But it’s really weird to have these kinds of questions without a ton of follow up about what it means for your role and skills.

    5. michelenyc*

      I had an interview once that all the hiring manager asked me about what it was like working for giant shoe company in Beaverton, Oregon. If I had ever met Michael Jordan and if not what athlete’s have a I met. I think he asked me 2 questions about my work experience. It was annoying and thankfully it was years ago.

    6. Nervous Accountant*

      Thanks all. I just got off the phone with the recruiter after texting him that I’m not pursuing the opportunity. He asked why I felt that way so I talked about my concerns…mostly that he was way too in to what my company does.
      (while I’m struggling to even trust my instincts, it’s harder for me to even say “I don’t get a great gut feeling from this”).

      He’s really trying hard for me to pursue it, and kept talking up the company, that he’s a great mentor, prickly (my word) at first but super nice once u get to know him. I really don’t want to take more time off form my job to do a second or third meeting.

      I’m pretty reasonable to a fault, but I’m still skeptical about pursuing this.

      He said he’d get back to me whenever they hear back from the client.

    7. lulu*

      Did you answer those questions? because honestly it feels like confidential information you shouldn’t be sharing, and it would be perfectly reasonable to say so (I’m thinking of the questions of fee structure, etc.)

      1. M is for Mulder*

        Agreed. Even if I didn’t have a confidentiality agreement, I would nope out of these questions based on pure professionalism.

        1. Nervous Accountant*

          Oh my god yes I answered the questions! It didn’t even occur to me that it was confidential. This was info that could easily be googled. Crap now I’m worried!

          1. Rachel in NYC*

            As long as its publically available information its fine but if any of it isn’t or you think its borderline, I’d consider mentioning it to someone you trust at your current employer. Just a ‘as you know I’ve been interviewing places and in the middle of an interview I got asked some weird questions. At the time I just thought it was weird but afterwords it was pointed out that I may have unintentionally shared confidential information.’

            But really stop and think about your answers before you jump the gun.

    8. Nervous Accountant*

      Okay third update–recruiter got back to me with “great news!”. At this point I’m sure I dont want the job but he’s being pretty adamant. He’s a super nice guy and I dont’ want to lose him as a contact. oh goodness I don’t know what todo and im freaking out.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        First thing is to breathe. Then listen to what the recruiter has to say. It could be something totally unrelated. Or it could be something that fills in the gaps and all of this makes sense. Just go one step at a time.

      2. Lab Monkey*

        Your no counts.

        You already told the recruiter you’re taking yourself out of consideration. He can’t make you take the job. “Thanks, but as I said before, I’m no longer interested.”

    9. Chaordic One*

      I’ve run into situations like this, but my former employer was a very odd organization and I honestly think that most people didn’t really know how it operated or even just what they did, so I didn’t mind answering their questions. They seemed more motivated by idle curiosity than an attempt to steal valuable operations knowledge.

      If it was at a place that could be considered a direct competitor to your present employer, then, yeah, it was an improper question.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      I had a weird interview like that a few months back. The recruiter scheduled a call with this person they said was basically the company “main investor” who had a lot of say about how the company was run. Odd, as I was not interviewing for any kind of executive position (more like middle management).
      During the call, the investor guy asked much more about my CURRENT company, including profits, products and a host of other things I’m not even involved in, rather than my skills. It got very uncomfortable. At one point, I even said that finance was not my area of expertise, but the information was publicly available on our website. I felt like I was being milked for insider trading information or something.

      Needless to say, I didn’t get a callback for that job.

    11. redredrose*

      I know for a fact my company will interview sales guys regularly just to try to see what is going on in the market, and if they find a good one they might make an offer, but I’m not even sure there is a real position available. They were fishing for information about your current company, but there may or may not have been a position available a theirs.

  7. Does this count as ironic?*

    You would not believe what happened to me last weekend.

    The company I work for merged a few months ago with another company. There’s been some clashing at the executive level. We couldn’t figure out if our CEO was trying to get fired for a payout or something, because the interactions were soooo beyond professional norms.

    So I decide to stop by the office on Saturday. I had impulse purchased a little cactus that would be great for my office. Makes sense to just plop it on my desk quickly, right? Who wants to carry a cactus around for another 10 hours? I work in a busy downtown area and it’s a lot of time to take public transportation back out of the city to go to anyone’s home. I have a key to the office and we were right there…

    The whole group came up with me. And walked in on the CEO packing his desk.

    So. Awkward.

    1. karou*

      Something similar happened to me years ago. I was working late (7pm-ish) when HR brought in someone recently fired to pack up her desk. I left quickly and I think I managed to sneak out without them realizing I was there. I believe HR/management now pack up people’s desks and mail them their belongings now instead of bringing them back when they’ve been let go.

      1. Antilles*

        That seems like a really iffy practice. There’s just so many things that could be problematic.
        >What happens if someone hoards a ton of stuff in their desk? Does HR spend time to sort it and try to figure out what’s “my stuff” versus “company paid-for stuff”? Or do they just ship everything and eat the UPS bill and possible costs of replacing stuff that’s actually owned by the company?
        >What happens if someone has Company Confidential documents like strategy plans or financial information mixed in with their belongings? Yes, yes, your policy states that all documents should be filed in accordance with blah blah blah, but you know that doesn’t actually happen.
        >What happens when someone claims that Personal Belonging X was at their desk but it wasn’t included?
        Heck, for that matter, what happens if something actually does go missing (either via theft or lost delivery)?
        >What happens if something is damaged or broken when you’re packing it up and mailing it?
        Escorting an employee to their desk and letting them pack it up (watched by an HR rep, of course) is an hour of awkwardness, but it just seems so much better from a risk management perspective.

        1. Brandy*

          I was let for from a job and before me a friend was, and she had some CDs and other stuff missing. I knew my time was coming and had just a little bit at my desk but my stapler and tape dispenser are mine, I put the free address labels on them. I was allowed to grab my stuff and grabbed that bit up and walked out. A job back, the company was doing lay offs, it eventually folded. And a co-worker told everyone that I took stuff that wasn’t mine, like the stapler and tape dispenser.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          When I got fired from OldJob, they said something about sending me my stuff, but I insisted they stand right there while I packed up every damn thing. The manager (not mine; she couldn’t be arsed to fire me in person) and the HR person were decent folks, but I was not going to risk losing something I wanted to keep, if they didn’t know it was mine or just decided not to bother packing it.

          Also, and I admit this was a little petty, I wanted them to feel the awkward as hard and as long as I could possibly make it. The manager helped me carry my stuff down to my car and gave me a hug and that was that.

          1. Emily S.*

            Goodness gracious. I think I would do the same thing — I’ve got a lot of photos, multiple plants, and tons of stuff, and I wouldn’t want it to be manhandled!

          2. Murphy*

            I wish I’d had the guts to do that. (And my manager did the same thing! She left the building early and had grandboss and the head of HR fire me.)

    2. kristin*

      Oh man, this is so awkward! I still cringe when I think about a slightly less weird situation. I’d stayed lateish at work (only maybe 30-40 minutes) and was on the phone withe a coworker who was walking through an issue with me when my then-manager walked up to me and told me to hang up the phone immediately. Turns out one of my co-workers was being let go and had just been told. They needed me out of the area so she could gather her stuff.

    3. Chaordic One*

      I once had a co-worker who was fired and not allowed to remove the personal items from her desk. They mailed her some of her things, but she didn’t get back everything. Most people would have let it go, but she ended up successfully suing her former employer in small claims court for something like $800.

  8. Murphy*

    I have a question about something one of my co-workers told me her manager said.

    My co-worker Jane suffered a bad head injury resulting in several weeks out of work, FMLA accommodations, etc. She’s doing better and has been back at work for a while. After returning to work, Jane felt she was still experiencing some cognitive deficits as a result of her injury and wanted to let her manager Lucinda know that she was still having some issues. Apparently Lucinda cut Jane off mid-sentence, saying she “didn’t want to know” what was going on “because I could use it against you.” Is this normal? I know Jane and I know that she can be an over-sharer, but I would think a manager would want to at least know her employee was having some difficulties. And I’m not sure what Lucinda meant by “I could use it against you.”

    1. Infinity Anon*

      Does the company have HR? Maybe she should find out if she can get official accommodations for it.

    2. Blue Anne*

      It sounds like she was concerned that if she knew about the medical issue, and disciplined Jane for poor performance or something, Jane could accuse her of discrimination?

      1. Anna*

        I think Lucinda was saying SHE could use it against Jane, not the other way around? It sounds to me like Lucinda was maybe trying to avoid an implicit bias situation if she knew too much about Jane’s ongoing issues.

    3. fposte*

      I think Lucinda either doesn’t understand the implications here or said the opposite of what she meant. She’s asking for trouble if she doesn’t get some clear protocols about how she’s going to handle Jane’s disability.

    4. Read2muchintoit*

      You know I could not read this question without picturing Lucinda and Jane standing in the vandalized dollhouse kitchen while they had this discussion. And Jane’s head injury was a nasty chip out of her wooden head!

    5. Same here*

      We had the same situation at our workplace – Arya was in a car accident and suffered a concussion. She was off for a week and has medical accommodations (private office instead of a cube, low lighting, blue light filter on her monitor) but she also feels like she’s experience cognitive defects. I know our HR offered her an altered work schedule, more time off if she needs it, etc. She’s had to fill out a a few forms and has kept both her manager and HR in the loop with no issues. We’re not in the US though.

    6. Been there*

      I can kind of see this. Although it seems a bit awkward. I don’t know how many times I’ve gently cut off an employee who is hell bent on giving me their medical details, ones that they should be sharing with HR. Although I tend to say things like “Before you go any further, you are not obligated to share this with me” “That’s ok, you don’t need to explain. You should contact HR to discuss the details and the process for leave if needed”

      I think what Lucinda was doing was saying that she didn’t want to know any of the details because if it was something that required ADA or any short term ‘fit for duty’ requirements, those details need to be handled by HR. If neither of those applied, then Lucinda wants to remain ‘in the dark’ so that she’s not influenced one way or another by Jane’s medical conditions. In other words she’s trying to stay neutral, albeit awkwardly.

      1. Rakket*

        Yeah, I was a manager at a company that had very VERY strict rules about who could know about employees’ health issues. If my employees mentioned anything beyond a mild cold I had to redirect them to HR. Realistically it was occasionally awkward but probably good? They tended to hire young managers and I don’t think most of us had the experience to handle potential FMLA or accommodations with any finesse.

    7. nacho*

      I was told once that I wasn’t allowed to tell my boss why I was calling out sick, just that I was sick. I can’t remember the reason, but it was something legal sounding.

  9. Non-Profit Know-Nothing*

    Anyone have good resources for professional development workshop design? Maybe specifically geared toward non-profits?

    Our nonprofit does some of its own research, and we want to share our learning with stakeholders…but we’re afraid we might secretly suck at it. We’ve got a pretty good grasp on basic adult education principles (don’t lecture at them, allow them to learn from peers in the room, etc.), but we think we’re falling short on providing really innovative/exciting/cool learning opportunities. What are the best practices for designing a one-day workshop curriculum? Who would know about this–organizations, consultants, etc?

    For context, say our organization works to support teapot makers in Texas. Part of our work involves learning about, say, the top 5 challenges teapot makers in the region are currently facing, and finding out what creative ways the most successful teapot makers have come up with to address these challenges. We want to share this information with other teapot makers via live, in-person workshops (usually about 30 attendees each) so they can better address their own challenges. We have virtual workshops, too, but we’re really focused on our brick-and-mortar offerings right now.

    What resources are out there to help our nonprofit design awesome workshops?? Also, cost for these resources is not an issue–we’ve got plenty of money to throw at this problem.

    1. cereal killer*

      Not a best practice. But you might want to check out They pair non-profits with experts in a variety of fields who volunteer. You can set up a projects but also 1 hour phone calls with experts who can talk you through some of your questions.

    2. zora*

      Most of the places I know are regional, so it depends on where you are located. But look for “Nonprofit Centers” and another search term you want is “Training for Trainers”. There are definitely places out there that teach educational design, etc.

      The one I know is CompassPoint Nonprofit Services in the SF Bay Area but like I said, there might be one in your geographical area that is better for you. Also look for a college near you that offers classes, Portland State University, for example, has a Nonprofit Institute that offers programs and courses for nonprofit professionals. And ask around the nonprofit networks in your area, too, to see if there are any particular organizations or individual consultants they have had a good experience with. There are definitely consultants out there who specialize in developing educational programs, but I don’t know any personally.

      Good luck!

    3. SL #2*

      We’ve worked with Global Learning Partners a few times and enjoyed their workshops. A lot of their stuff focuses on adult education theory but they’re very good at teaching innovative curriculum design as well.

    4. Sam Foster*

      Most people are terrible at interviewing and they generally receive almost no training on how to interview. My experience after decades in the field is that interviewing practices are about as effective as a roulette wheel.

  10. Not a Stark*

    A friend of my was recently complaining about how one of their new starters is turning out to be…completely incompetent. She works in a fairly competitive industry and rejected candidates get sent emails with the ‘we’ve had many high-quality applications’ line.

    It makes me wonder where the disconnect is between the hiring process and the work itself. My friend wasn’t involved in the hiring process herself, but surely the hiring committee would’ve assessed candidates according to their suitability for the role so how do they manage to fall so wide of the mark? Okay I know there’s no foolproof hiring method that would rule out bad hires, but this certainly isn’t the first time I’ve heard stories of people that just made me think…how did you get hired?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      How did this candidate look on paper? I’ve certainly seen my share of cases in which a candidate looks great on paper, takes a good game (interviews well)… and is just a total incompetent. May even mean well, but just can’t handle the work.

    2. LKW*

      Some people are really good at the schmoozing but not at the actual doing. They exaggerate on their resumes and then describe what OTHER people did on projects (or what they should have done). Or they say “I was responsible for…” without including “but didn’t actually do that and other people did the actual work.” When the rubber meets the road, they have no idea how to load balance a project plan, create a comprehensive on-line marketing strategy or whatever the job demands.

      1. Manders*

        Yes, I’ve known some people who were great at schmoozing their way into jobs and terrible at keeping them. One or two were probably outright lying about what they had done, but I think most of them genuinely thought they could do the work and didn’t realize how much handholding they’d really had on previous projects.

    3. Dotty*

      It depends what the hiring committee is asking/doing in the interview. My company asks a LOT of generic questions – it’s not hard for someone to rehearse answers to these and some people are just good at talking, some of those questions are fine but by themselves they don’t tell you whether someone will be good at the job. One time when I was hiring for a new analyst in my team I went off-script and asked several “what if” questions specifically relevant to our work to see how they’d handle scenarios my team have to handle in their everyday – it worked great to help me separate out the “good talkers” from the one who could perhaps best do the job but HR gave me a stern talking to after for not sticking to the pre-determined questions.

    4. Pineapple Incident*

      Recently my group was able to fire someone exactly like this. She had jazzed up her resume to make her past experience look more involved and more supervisory than it was, and she had way less ability to rely on systems than she’d indicated. She also turned out to be a major blamer, like every mistake she made was “well I did that because ‘so-and-so’ told me _____.” She’d lie and throw the people she managed under the bus; we were giving her the kind of feedback generally given to interns about how not to put off your coworkers and subordinates, which was not well-received.

      The problem during her interviews was that it was a busy time, and not coordinated well, so 2 of the major decision-makers only met her for a little while. Each of them said “if Dr. Whoever is fine with her, then so am I,” without realizing how big of an opportunity they missed to see her red flags. The team she was supposed to supervise met her, and said they found her style abrasive. Over the 3 months that she was here, every piece of feedback my office got about this hire included comments about her off-putting communication style and general rudeness.

      1. esra (also a Canadian)*

        Ugh, we’re going through that right now. We’re about to hire someone my VP loves but I have reservations about. See you in six months on this same topic, AAM commentariat.

    5. Anyway*

      Maybe he knows someone in the company.

      I’ve had an interview for a super competitive position today (one of the 2 most prestigious consulting companies in the world). In most consulting companies the decision whom to hire is – at least officially – taken based on several rounds of interviews, several tests and case studies candidates need to solve. Today, but also before that, during interviews I often encountered people who simply didn’t seem very bright, to use an euphemism.

      I’ve already experienced interviewers making mistakes in their case studies. I remember this one guy I tried to convince he solved the problem wrong (the answer was numerical, no space for discussions). I explained him why the solution was wrong. Still he spent several minutes stressing it was correct (then he admitted his mistake – I then got a rejection for “lacking maths skills”). Or, like today, interviewers that seem… Let’s say, not particularly bright… Who need plenty of explanation to understand a simple description of a situation.

      And no, I’m not saying so because I’m angry I haven’t been accepted. I’m already in the field.

    6. AnotherHRPro*

      Some people just interview well. And some hiring managers do not do a good job at asking probing and follow-up questions.

    7. Artemesia*

      This is why in hiring you really have to see work product and have candidates demonstrate their skills. We never hired a person where teaching was their primary role without viewing them teaching a class for us; we never hired a researcher without a research presentation on their work. (and most faculty types had to do both although the weighting was different depending on the role) Soft ware developers always screen for on the spot coding demonstrations. IN selecting for a leadership training programs among employees, we ran simulations of problem solving activities so we could identify people who could advance a group’s performance. It is easy to SAY what you ‘would do’, but harder to SHOW what you can do.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I was once involved in hiring for my replacement, and one of the finalists looked great on paper, and the other looked less great on paper. The one who looked good on paper could not find her way around an Excel spreadsheet, and spreadsheets were a huge part of the job. I didn’t even pose it as a skills test (though everything in an interview is always being observed). I just said “This is the sort of thing you would be doing” and then had her take my chair and walk through the steps. I was actually giving instructions, so it wasn’t about “Do you know how to do this exact task?” It was more like “Do you feel comfortable navigating around?” Even something as silly as selecting all the filled cells or all the filled cells in a column can tell you a lot about a person’s comfort with Excel.

    8. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hiring isn’t a perfect science, and way too few employers use exercises and simulations to actually see candidates in action. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been excited about a candidate, and then when I have them do a short simulation of the work they’d be doing on the job, they were … just not good. It’s crucial to test people out like that, and most employers still don’t.

      1. oranges & lemons*

        As a candidate, I also wish more employers would do this, since I’m much better at my actual job than I am at schmoozing.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Hell yeah. I got OldJob because I aced the editing test they sent. I did well on the interview too, thanks to copious amounts of reading AAM, but later my boss told me my test just blew everybody else’s out of the water.

          1. Rachel in NYC*

            I got CurrentJob because of my sample excel document…my boss told me that after I’d been in the position for maybe a year.

    9. Turquoisecow*

      Some people interview really well.

      A few years back a woman came in to interview for a mindless data entry role. The manager was so blown away by her competence that she felt the woman would be bored in the mindless data entry role, and recommended her for a job under my boss. This role involved data entry, but a lot less mindless, plenty of thinking on your feet type things. My boss was also blown away.

      She turned out to absolutely suck at the job. She asked the same questions over and over while never seeming to grasp the responses. Nuance was completely lost on her. She had to be practically hand held through almost every task, even a year or more later. Both bosses were completely confused.

    10. Clever Name*

      This happened to my team. We hired a guy to be our teapot identification expert, and over the course of the next 6 months or so, we realized he was not only not an expert, he couldn’t even identify teapots independently. The most reasonable explanation is that he flat-out lied about the nature and length of his experience. He was also condescending and defensive, and all around difficult to work with. He was put on a PIP and ultimately fired. And I heard through the rumor mill that his petition for unemployment was denied, which in our state is highly unusual (the courts typically rule in favor of workers). Our error was not checking references (I know).

    11. an apple a day*

      I was just thinking about this the other day- it’s almost the same issue you get in education, where learning isn’t always correlated to test-taking abilities. That’s how you end up with terrible situations where teachers aren’t allowed to deviate from test-prep year round in schools that are really scores-focused.

      As someone who is much better at doing a job than finding/interviewing for jobs… Well, it’s part of why I’m not in the field I got my Master’s in. Sigh.

    12. Sam Foster*

      Most people are terrible at interviewing and they generally receive almost no training on how to interview. My experience after decades in the field is that interviewing practices are about as effective as a roulette wheel.

    13. FTW*

      I work in one of those highly competitive industries, and we have a lot of great candidates, but there are mis-hires.

      Generally it is because there are issues that are difficult to pick up on in interviews. Some of the main issues that crop up include:
      – lack of receptiveness to feedback (this can come across in questions, but not always)
      – limited ability to figure out ambiguous problems by themselves
      – inability to identify and flag common sense issues in their work (e.g., your analysis shows a -50% profit margin on the product line over the past year. Yes, the calculations are correct, but did you consider questioning the data?)

  11. Tableau Wizard*

    Are there any great tools out there to help a group of facilitators share best practices, ask questions to each other, and get updates from their leaders?

    I’m helping organize a large training effort where 125 trainers will be training 18K staff over the next 6 months in groups of about 100.

    We’d like to have a place to share learning and best practices among the trainers/facilitators. Somewhere that they can ask questions and the leaders can provide answers. Something that’s secure but also easy to use and organized.

    Sharepoint has been suggested, but are there other good options out there? Any tips for sharepoint or pitfalls to avoid?

    1. LKW*

      I’ve seen Yammer used very well. Everyone is encouraged to register with a Yammer group and then the thread is monitored by a few key people. The challenge is when it gets repetitive and the same problems are being brought up over and over. That’s a sign that you need to update your training material and any associated job aids.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      Some time ago, one of the sponsored posts here was a competitor to SharePoint, with the claim it was easier to use and a lot cheaper. Alison only has sponsored posts that she has used, approves of, so that also could be an option. I’ll go see if I can find a link.

    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Wow, I’d love to hear more about this as it rolls out. I lead a training/facilitation team and would love to learn from this experience!

    4. Product person*

      If you can host a solution, is open source and can be installed for free. It’s a great e-learning environment I’ve been used for 15 years to do exactly what you say. You can have forums separated by topic where leaders can post updates, have a library of resources, and organize content in courses if you like. Very powerful and easy to configure. You can download it and install in your hosting service, and in the case of some hosting providers, even install automatically from the control panel like you can do with WordPress.

    5. justusingsomewords*

      Sharepoint is a standard toolset, and it’s certainly powerful. However, it has its pain points. It’s considered difficult to use and often not very user friendly. I actually work for a company that creates a variety of digital workspace tools, including an application to build Sharepoint pages in a drag-and-drop fashion, and it’s amazing to me that it’s not actually built into Sharepoint itself. It is very de facto standard in the industry if you don’t mind the learning curve or if you use an additional product (or products) to make that easier.

      Given the short time frame of the effort, you may want to consider using a combination of technologies. You could, for example, combine Slack (for communication) and Box (for file storage)..there’s an integration that allows them to talk to each other.

  12. TSG*

    So I know this blog has talked about for-profit colleges before and why they’re not great, hoping for some insight into if this situation is just, less than ideal, or potentially pretty bad –

    My SO decided to go back to school to get a different degree because his current career path was feeling really unfulfilling. He talked about it for about a year before he finally decided he couldn’t keep doing what he was doing. There were two schools in our area with the program he wanted to do, and one’s deadlines had already passed, so he applied to the other and got in.

    However, he mentioned to me this week that he found out it’s a for-profit college, though he didn’t seem to fully grasp what that meant. It’s not one of those big-name for profits or part of a chain, it sounds like a typical school and has a physical campus in our city and reputable professors, doesn’t seem to have anything shady about it online. And one of his mentors in the field is on the board at this school and recommended it to him in the first place. They boast high certification/job-placement rates for their students, though only a fraction of the people who start the program actually pass it…

    But, knowing what I know about for-profit schools and how they are perceived in the working world, I’m wondering if he’s pouring money (this also explains why this program was so much more than the other school’s) into a degree that’s not actually going to help him once he graduates. And of course, they don’t allow the transfer of credits so if he went to a new school he’d have to start all over when he’s already got one year done.

    So are all for-profits going to look bad to future employers? This is also a smaller program to get a quicker degree in the field so he can start working it sooner, but will eventually want to go back to school to get a more advanced degree to move up in the industry, and now I’m wondering if this will make it harder for him to seem credible when he applies to grad schools.

    I haven’t said anything to him about for-profit colleges because I don’t want to worry him unnecessarily, but wondering if this could be a bad situation for him that I should warn him about?

    1. Infinity Anon*

      It doesn’t sound like it would have the same stigma as the bigger ones. If it is actually a challenging curriculum and not just degrees (or certificates) for money, then it is probably fine. Can he look into other universities in the area and see if the credits can transfer? If other universities are willing to accept transfer credits that would say a lot and open up the possibility of getting the actual degree from another university if he is concerned.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      And one of his mentors in the field is on the board at this school and recommended it to him in the first place.

      I wouldn’t risk it. That’s years (or even just year) of his life he won’t get back… on top of the tuition or loans. There must be non-profit universities that offer the program he’s looking for, no?

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      Is he planning to stay in this area? It sounds like, at least locally, the school has the respect of employers. But who knows if that will transfer out of your area.

      Also, if the credits don’t transfer (I’m confused about your phrasing – it sounds like you’re saying the for-profit school doesn’t allow you to transfer those credits to other schools), it may not be accepted by graduate schools.

    4. fposte*

      It’s possible this is a for-profit that doesn’t have the local hiring stigma some others do; the way to find that out is to ask in the field where he’s trying to get hired (and ask somebody who *isn’t* associated with the school) what a degree from that place would do and how it stacked up against other degrees. It’s hard to say from here since we don’t know the school, the field, and the area, but the fact that it’s considerably more expensive is not a good sign.

      It almost certainly will make it harder for him to seem credible when he applies to grad schools.

      1. serenity*

        Also, many (not all, but many) for-profits are nationally accredited but lack regional accreditation. So if he wants to get an advanced degree after this one, it might be a significant deal-breaker for him.

        When I worked in admissions, there were a couple candidates apply to our graduate program we declined admission to because their undergraduate degree (BFA or BA) were from a nationally-accredited for-profit whose accreditation we did not recognize.

        1. fposte*

          Even regional accreditation isn’t always good enough–if it’s not a rigorous program for a master’s, for instance, the grad program may want them to get that school’s own master’s before proceeding to the PhD.

          Honestly, I wouldn’t spend money, let alone what sounds like a fairly significant amount of money, on a second bachelor’s degree without some clear indications from the local field that it’s a game changer, and I’d investigate its effects on grad school applications in the field as well if that was something I was thinking about down the road.

          1. serenity*

            Oh absolutely, I agree that the program’s real or perceived lack of rigor is tremendously important as well (and the higher cost should be considered too. There’s just little justification I can see for pursuing this path).

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, I was just elaborating on the height of the hurdle here. I don’t want to swear this won’t get him where he wants because there could well be local/field exceptions, but I’m pretty dubious.

    5. AndersonDarling*

      When I was looking at certificate programs, I called the employers I wanted to work for and asked how they felt about the program I was considering. They can tell you right away if it is legit.

    6. Pineapple Incident*

      Depending on the field he’s in/degree program, he should investigate whether the school’s program is accredited with the important associations in that field. For example, for public health, attending a Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)-accredited school is important.

      If that’s the case, perhaps this would outweigh the fact that the school is for-profit. I would still be wary of these programs- some of them are truly NOT up to par, despite their promising stats and PR to the contrary.

    7. OhNo*

      This might be a situation where asking around among your professional contacts (or his professional contacts) will give you a better idea of how this particular school is perceived in the community. I know there have been one or two local for-profit schools in my area that were actually pretty well regarded in particular fields, so that might be the case here as well.

      However, if going back to school for a graduate degree is the goal, it might be better to drop the for-profit one and just wait until the nonprofit opens up admissions again. Working in an academia-adjacent field, I know that so many admissions offices for grad schools really look down on for-profit degrees, so that could have a significant impact on his future plans. It really depends on how important the opportunity to get a higher degree someday is to him.

    8. Qestia*

      I’ve worked in higher ed my whole career (+15 years). The fact they don’t transfer credits sounds very shady – I’ve not heard of that before. If grad school is his ultimate goal, it’s unlikely this for profit degree would help with that.

      Even more important than whether an institution is for profit- it is regionally accredited? If not run, don’t walk away from it.

      Finally – if he already has an undergraduate degree and knows he wants to go to grad school- why doesn’t he just apply to grad school? It’s unlikely a second bachelors would help his grad school application even if the first is in a different field. If the grad program requires certain undergrad courses he’s better off taking those individual courses (even at a community college) than go for a whole new degree

      1. Natalie*

        Your last paragraph is the most important one. This just seems like a huge waste of money and time, absent some compelling reason to do a second bachelors. I just did all of the BA accounting coursework at my local university and if I had gone full time it would have taken maybe 3 semesters tops, rather than 4 years.

      2. Infinity Anon*

        The credits thing is weird. They don’t get to determine whether other schools will accept the credits unless they refuse to give transcripts. If no other school accepts those credits, it is a red flag.

    9. Artemesia*

      The most important thing is can they demonstrate job placement. Sometimes not great institutions still have good local reputations and connections to the workplace. I would want to really press on placement, on talking with recent graduates in the area and for how they connect grads with opportunities especially in the local market.

      If the place doesn’t have lots of resources and information on this — I’d be chary of spending my money.

    10. Elizabeth H.*

      “They boast high certification/job-placement rates for their students, though only a fraction of the people who start the program actually pass it…”

      That is the key part for me. Don’t do it. High attrition is an incredibly bad sign. It means that either it’s a bad program, it is too expensive and people stop being able to afford it, they don’t effectively support students, or something else bad. Also, you say it is expensive. Is it a second bachelor’s degree or a post-bac or some kind of certificate program? To be blunt I think it sounds like a very bad idea and should be avoided. If he really needs and wants more education in order to enter a new field, he should apply to an actual master’s or post-bac or whatever program at a not for profit school.

    11. poppunkcat*

      I work at a state university, and when we accept credits from nationally accredited schools, they are usually only accepted as electives. Has he looked into online programs? The school I work for, and many other regionally accredited schools offer online classes now and the diploma doesn’t make that distinction.

  13. D.W.*

    Two things:

    First, I really enjoy the camaraderie on AAM. I feel like there is a community of strong “acquaintances” here. I mean, Free Meerkats invited us to her 20th Anniversary in Las Vegas! Which I totally would attend if I were to be in the area.

    I have been reading AAM for a few years, and it has always been a great place to find workplace advice, but as I’ve been actively commenting, it has become a space where I celebrate, encourage, and commiserate with you all on various occasions (purchasing a home, weddings, anniversaries, promotions, new jobs, graduations, lost jobs, family strains, mental health check-ins, etc). This has become a great source of respite for a lot of people, and I really enjoy being part of this community.

    Recognizing that the commentariat runs the gamut on the spectrum of demographics, there are few spaces, on the internet and in “real” life, where you can find such a large, supportive community.

    Thanks for making AAM a great place to be!

    Second, does anyone know where I can find a 5″ or 6″ steel round dough cutter or mousse ring? I have been using a bowl to cut crust for turnovers and pasties, but I really want a tool for cutting dough, and I cannot find the appropriate size! I understand that it’s a unique size, but there has to be one out there somewhere.

    1. AnnaleighUK*

      I just asked Fiancé and he said ‘Search for Ateco dough cutters, they are lots of different sizes’. Being a chef I assume he knows! I accept no responsibility for if these suck, by the way! Good luck!

    2. Spooky*

      There are several tutorials online for making your own cookie cutters–I’m guessing dough cutters would be similar? It’s actually really easy to get the metal at a hardware store to make your own. If not, there are lots of etsy shops that make custom cookie cutters–you could probably get one of them to make you one!

    3. Emily S.*

      Fellow baker here! I’ve had good results with Ateco steel dough cutters – which I’ve purchased from Amazon, and also the cookware store Sur la Table. I use them in smaller sizes for scones. (I believe they’re also used by professional bakers/pastry chefs.)

      Here’s an Amazon link for a 6-inch round Ateco dough cutter, in stainless steel. From there, you can search for other sizes.

    4. Free Meerkats*

      I mean, Free Meerkats invited us to her 20th Anniversary in Las Vegas!

      His… ;-)

      It went well, had some friends who live here show up. She’s a professional photographer, so I handed her my camera and we got great shots. I’ll share after we get home and I can get them off the camera. The pastor who did the original wedding has retired, and the one who did the 10th renewal wasn’t in, so we got the “new” guy who’s only been there 14 years.

      Now just relaxing, eating too much, and hardly gambling at all.

  14. Should I call?*

    I got a call from an in-house recruiter on Tuesday morning about scheduling a phone interview, I missed it, but I called her back within an hour and left a voicemail. Still haven’t heard back. Should I check in again today? Part of me figures that isn’t too pushy, and I want to make sure I get a chance to have an interview scheduled, but I don’t want to look bad either.

      1. Should I call?*

        I decided to call (because I’ve had so many recruiters bail after I miss a phone call, it’s just like… eh, what the hell), and it went straight the voicemail so I left another message. At least now I can stop thinking about it! Nothing else to do but move on, it’ll work or it won’t.

  15. Not Today Satan*

    I’m a new manager and today I had a really tough conversation and I’m proud of how I handled it. I had found out that an employee (who has only been managed by me for a month, had someone good before that for a few months, but before that had basically not been managed at all for years) had been doing something unacceptable.

    Before our meeting, I studious read the How to Win Friends and Influence People wiki summary. I know it’s kinda cheesy but I actually find its principles to be really good. I also tend to be more of a “fire and brimstone” thing is right/this is wrong type of person, so it’s extra helpful for me.

    Anyway she came into the meeting ranting and raving about how there were all these reasons why she thought the management team didn’t respect her and the rest of the team. The reasons were not based in any sort of healthy thought- she basically found everything to evidence that she wasn’t respected. It annoyed me, and I did not find her behavior to be appropriate, but as an anxiety sufferer myself I thought I recognized anxiety as the root of most of it.

    So I fought my urge to defend myself, kept going back to the HTWF principles, and walked her through the reasons for why management does what we do. I assured her I wouldn’t hold what she has done in the past against her but shared my expectations for what she needs to do going forward.

    By the end she felt a lot better and I was proud of myself that I stuck to my principles/message without being combative.

    Just wanted to share a small victory!

    1. Meg*

      Congrats! I don’t even know you, but I’m proud of you — that sounds like a really difficult challenge that you handled so well!

    2. Liane*

      HTWF is a great resource. It probably sounds “cheesy” to us today because it was written in the 30s or 40s. My dad took the actual course and swore by it. He owned his own business and I have met few others who could get along so well with people of very diverse backgrounds.
      I have read it several times myself and need to reread it.

    3. Antilles*

      Before our meeting, I studious read the How to Win Friends and Influence People wiki summary. I know it’s kinda cheesy but I actually find its principles to be really good.
      If you don’t have the actual book, I’d highly recommend buying it and reading it. The examples he uses are dated (obviously), but the principles are timeless. Individuals can change; human beings don’t.
      Also, grats. Always celebrate the small victories; they’re what give you the confidence to win bigger victories later.

    4. Queen of Cans & Jars*

      Great work!! As difficult as those kinds of conversations can be, IME, they are ALWAYS worth it!!

    5. Happy Lurker*

      Congrats. We also had a situation this week where all of my AAM reading has really paid off. I was able to see a situation clearly. That was only possible because of this group. It was a situation of WTF? Reminiscent of some letters we have seen here.
      Before AAM I would have gone back and forth over the emotional terrain of it and probably made the wrong suggestion. I put my AAM hat on and was able to make an almost guilt free decision.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      This is an investment. It will take time, but someone will confide in her about blah, blah, blah and she will say, “Go talk to our boss. Boss will actually try to help you through this.”

      And then your rumor mill starts, but it is working FOR you. People know that you listen and you are a thinking person.
      Your efforts here will pay you back many times over. Well done on that.

  16. Bend & Snap*

    Last week I posted about interviewing guilt because I love my boss. And a bunch of commenters advised against staying at a job because of a boss.

    Today I say DING DING DING because my department reorganized this week and I have a new boss I don’t like and a new VP I’ve never met.

    So please wish me luck in this interview cycle!

  17. DepartmentReOrg*

    Does anyone have any advice about navigating this potentially tricky situation? I joined my current company about 18 months ago and haven’t been able to do the work I was hired to do despite being the only one here with expertise in my area. This has been because our two-person department has been structured such that I am helping my coworker with all of our department’s workload (they’ve been acting as team lead and pick and choose their assignments) rather than us focusing on our individual areas of expertise. Management realizes this is a problem and we are soon going to be given new titles and actual job descriptions dividing up our areas. I’m anticipating that my coworker is going to be upset by this as they have a strong interest in my work specialty but no degree in it and lack the experience/knowledge I have (and it shows). We have developed a warm, friendly rapport and I’m not sure how to handle this. We sit right by each other in an open air environment so if there is tension it’s going to be very awkward. Has anyone ever been in a similar situation? Any advice on pitfalls to avoid or how to ensure we continue to work well together?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I haven’t been in that exact situation, but I think you should be prepared for a lot of griping about management’s decision from your co-worker to you. You will then be in an awkward situation, because you agree with management’s decision, but your co-worker will probably feel you’re the only one who could potentially be a sympathetic ear. I would probably just listen and not necessarily commiserate but not shut it down either.

    2. OtterB*

      Can things be set up so your coworker has a chance to learn from you about the work specialty they are interested in? In a 2-person department, even if you each have your own specialty, I would think there would be a certain amount of cross-training for backup anyway.

      1. DepartmentReOrg*

        Yes, and that’s kind of happening already. Ever since I got here, my coworker does the work that is better suited for me to be doing and asks for my suggestions for improvement. They don’t seem to have improved at doing these things over time, though. It’s holding the company back, hence the need to change the structure. You’re right, though, we will absolutely still have to back each other up. I’m just nervous they’re going to feel like they’re being demoted although that’s not what’s happening. I know they were already feeling a little threatened by my arrival to the company and I’ve worked hard to develop a good relationship with them. Also, they are an overall lovely person, so I guess I feel…guilty(?) that they may not take it well.

        1. AnotherHRPro*

          You need to remember that you are not the one deciding work allocation here. Your manager is. Be nice and pleasant to your co-worker and if she complains to you I would recommend that she bring up her concerns with the manager.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            This. Hopefully management does a good job explaining this to your coworker. You can redirect her concerns to your boss. If things get too much you can tell your boss that CW is having issues with the change and ask the boss to help again.

            I’d caution you that maybe CW is perceived as not carrying their weight at all. While it is fine to have some concern, don’t get caught in a spot where you are defending the CW to your boss. Instead repeatedly redirect your cohort to discussing matters with the boss. If need be say something like, “I don’t rule the world, while I do understand your concerns there is nothing I can do to fix it. This is a conversation that is best to have with our boss.”

    3. Clever Name*

      Honestly, your coworker’s reaction to a management decision made above your level is not yours to manage. I understand why it may be awkward, but any awkwardness would be on her and not on you. You have done nothing other than know things she does not.

    4. Shellesbelles*

      I just went through this and it did not go well. It didn’t help that there was an age divide (I’m significantly younger, but much more skilled in this specific area). We had a couple of really tense meetings with the higher ups that devolved into this coworker shouting at me and our bosses. She also sent a really unhinged email to everyone basically trashing me and saying that I was insubordinate. Now, she threatens to quit on a regular basis whenever she doesn’t get her way.

      We had previously developed a warm rapport, but that has cooled. She has tried to get chatty with me again, but honestly, after going through all of that, I don’t really want to engage. We also sit next to each other and it’s awkward most days. My advice would be to remain professional, protect yourself, and make sure that your bosses are on side. Make sure that the role divisions are crystal clear and make sure that this person understands that this isn’t up for debate – these are specific changes coming from management. If this coworker starts freaking out or venting, remain calm and empathetic. However, if it gets personal, feel free to shut that down. Best of luck! It’s really not easy.

    5. Tabby Baltimore*

      Possibly I’m misunderstanding the situation, but if you have been helping your co-worker not because she’s incompetent but because she’s overwhelmed with a lot more work than one person can reasonably handle, then after the reorganization occurs and you start doing more of the work you were hired to do, and less work for her, please consider whether it would be worthwhile to go to your shared manager and advocate getting an assistant for your co-worker to help her the way you used to. This might take some of the edge off her potential anger or anxiety about the new situation. Even if you’re unsuccessful, at least she’ll know you tried to help.

  18. PX*

    Positive work stories!
    I’ve been meaning to post this for a while, but after spending about a year job hunting and feeling pretty frustrated, I eventually ended up in a job that genuinely makes me excited. Great growth opportunities, good colleagues and a good manager. Its not all perfect (benefits arent great) but in the 18months I’ve been here my salary has gone up 20% and I’ve gotten a promotion, so overall I cant complain.

    So who else is feeling happy about their employer?

    1. Catalin*

      Actually, I’m super impressed with my employer right now. While doing Open Enrollment for insurance this week, I clicked on some links for ‘other support’ or something and discovered that my company has a lactation support program for moms returning to work. This is in addition to our 16 weeks of paid family leave. (We’re a multi-national company but this is happening in the US.) The support includes six months of telephone consultations with lactation experts, a choice of three (good) portable pumps, and a few other things related to counseling, adjusting, etc. All free to the employee/their partner.
      This isn’t something I’ll benefit from directly, but I’m pretty darn impressed that my company has it.

      1. Specialk9*

        Oh my gosh. My company gave 6 weeks paid maternity leave, and would hold your job for another 6 weeks unpaid (unless they didn’t hold your job), and has a lactation room as legally required. But 16 weeks?!
        And several pump options, and lactation consultants? Wow.

    2. OtterB*

      I’ve been with my employer, a small not-for-profit association, for 13 years. I like my work and my coworkers.

      This has been the medical year from hell for my family and between me and my husband I have burned through all my (generous) accumulated PTO and vacation time. I think I have reaccumulated about a day of PTO and two or three of vacation since the last crisis. Now the next one is upon me and I will be having surgery Nov 1. Recovery time uncertain. I emailed my boss a couple of days ago as this was shaping up to say that I didn’t have the time off but would like to continue to get paid and could we discuss options? Back in the office today, he just stuck his head in my door and said to take what I need and I can climb back out of the deficit as I earn more leave. And that I didn’t have to have paid it all back before I could take a real vacation, either. (We do have short-term disability insurance, but I think that only applies if I am completely unable to work for more than 2 weeks, and my best guess is that by around 2 weeks I am going to want to ease back in by at least reading email and doing a little work from home.)

    3. Integrity Snob*

      I really like my job and company too and got a similar pay increase! My bosses believe in me and trust me and I’ve got to start up and organize many great new tech projects! My only complaint is my ferociously incompetent “friend of people in high places” junior employee who won’t be going anywhere any time soon lol and that’s a normal complaint I think. I get so much freedom – love it!

    4. JN*

      I’d been job hunting for a bit over a year before accepting a new position at the beginning of this week. Higher pay and good benefits. My current job is sad to be losing me in a few weeks (and I’m a bit sad to be leaving), but I’m hopeful this new job will be a good thing.

    5. Anonnymus*

      I’m feeling fairly neutral at the moment about work (I’m halfway through the initial training period for a higher qualified role at the moment and chomping at the bit to be back doing my job again!) but I’ve been reflecting on an incident from a few months these last few weeks. One of the things it’s reminded me of is how good my company is at support in those situations. An immediate debrief on every occasion (I’ve been to these kind of incidents three times now), an offer of a referral for EAP, a follow up from a manager a few days later to check how I was doing (although that was manager dependent!). And then when I found the courage to mention to my trainer that I was struggling again, there was an immediate ‘ok, do you want to talk it through with me?’ and a referral to EAP. So I’m really impressed with that side of things at the moment.

    6. Anony McAnonface*

      I love my job and just had my contract extended! \o/ Great work, wonderful colleagues, easy commute. The pay isn’t great but I’m hopeful that will improve in the future.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        And I get to manage my own time and work in my own way which makes me happy.

        Plus my husband had a car accident this week and my manager was so kind and supportive. (He’s okay.)

    7. Delphine*

      I love my current employer. My hope is that I can be at this job for another four or five years (about to hit three). My worst nightmare is the company shutting down or getting let go or fired, because I don’t think I would ever find another place that has a great boss, great coworkers, in the industry I want to work in, with a good salary and great benefits.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      While my employer is average, my boss is extraordinary. I think I have mentioned before that one day I said “Something is wrong with my dog”. I never said what it was, she interrupted and said “Go home. Right now.” She was so pleased to hear that I got help for him that day.
      More importantly, we look for each with difficulty arises. While she is the expert, I can fill her gaps. Some days she walks in and the first thing I say is “I have been waiting to see you. i am so glad you are here.” Then there are days where it goes the opposite way and she is looking for me to come in. It is nice to a competent boss. It’s a luxury and a privilege to have a brilliant boss who is compassionate.

    9. Stellaaaaa*

      Part of my job involves working with little kids. Yesterday I brought a cupcake to a coworker. One of the kids saw the cupcake and started singing Happy Birthday. He thinks it’s a cupcake song.

    10. hermit crab*

      I have been at the same company for nine years (today is my nine-year workiversary!) and, while it’s far from perfect, overall I am satisfied. I have had managers that ranged from decent to life-changingly excellent; I have been given progressively greater responsibility; when I pointed out that I was being paid less than men in my same role I was (eventually) given a raise to rectify that; I am being encouraged to moonlight within the organization to do things that aren’t really my job but that fascinate me; and, while I have been feeling seriously burnt out recently, I am taking a 2+ week vacation next month (with another employee in our division, no less!), to which nobody has even batted an eye. And the work itself has always been interesting, if sometimes weird and stressful for no good reason. I am cool with this. And I think being cool with this might actually be more important than being happy with it? This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately, so thank you for bringing it up. :)

  19. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    What would your reaction be if, having not gotten a position you were extremely qualified for, and upon asking for feedback, you were told someone else got it because they were “more popular?”

      1. Future Analyst*

        Agreed. If popularity would dictate how work is assigned/who got promotions/raises, etc., you’d be frustrated down the line anyway. Frustrating for now, though!

    1. PieInTheBlueSky*

      My first reaction is that it was a very poorly worded way of saying that more members of the hiring committee preferred the other candidate.

      1. Bex*

        Same here. I would assume it was poor word choice, not some kind of statement on office-wide popularity.

    2. Beatrice*

      They actually used the term “more popular”? O.O

      I suppose, if the job involved a lot of consensus building or internal persuasion, that descriptor might have been a really poor way of explaining that the candidate they chose was better qualified to help them in that area, but wow, what a bad way to put it.

    3. hbc*

      I would guess that they meant that people had clicked better with the other candidate, that they seemed a better fit for the culture. Or that they meant the five people interviewing simply voted and you lost 2-3. I mean, it’s pretty unlikely they asked about how busy my social calendar is, whether I was bullied in school, or checked to see if I had enough Twitter followers, so the crappy definition of “popular” is probably not in play.

      And I would remind myself that if they really did sit around after my interview and were like, “Ugh, I just cannot imagine her sitting with us at the cool kids table”, then I’d be glad not to work there.

    4. Jaydee*

      I would definitely be upset. But is it possible that is just ridiculously poor wording and that “popular” really means “We had multiple people involved in making the hiring decisions. Everyone agreed you were very qualified, but more than half felt that Other Candidate was a better fit for the job.”?

    5. LKW*

      Is this an internal hire where the two of you already work there and are known to the interview committee? If that’s the case – that’s supremely idiotic and piss-poor management. You should look to move on to a different company.

      If you don’t work there – then I’d say it was a poorly phrased way of saying “The other candidate is a better cultural fit.”

      1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

        It is an internal decision, and there were only two people involved in the interview. It was to become a supervisor of people who were already peers.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          There’s a lot of context that matters. Could they be meaning that the other person gets along better with their peers?

          1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

            We both get along well with our peers. The other person is *friends* with most of our peers – I am more “work friendly.” I don’t tend to get into my private life at work.

            1. SophieChotek*

              In the end that might mean the other person will be a worse manager….but I guess no one thought about that scenario

        2. Undine*

          Ooh, in this case going for “popular” could really backfire. They may be thinking that since Wilhelmina is already popular, she will be well-received as a supervisor. But in fact, as a supervisor she will have to things that are in direct opposition to popularity. If she tries to stay popular, she won’t manage, and if she tries to manage, she won’t stay popular. So they might not be very good at hiring.

          However, I think for you, it’s best to remember it’s not personal. It’s really easy to get caught up in something like this and get bitter.

          1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

            Trying hard. This person is now *my* supervisor, even though I have 2 more years experience and a year’s seniority.

    6. AndersonDarling*

      It sounds like the individual is expressing their frustration at a ridiculous decision. If an unqualified candidate was chosen just because they were buddies with the managers involved, that sounds like the kind of snark response I would make. I wouldn’t protect a bad decision.

    7. Close Bracket*

      I was in a really similar situation. I wasn’t furious, exactly, but I took note of it, and it affected how I viewed the organization. Ultimately, organizations which tolerate bullsh!t tend to have a lot of bullsh!t, and I left.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Others have given you answers that use a higher road than I would probably use. My response would be to leave the job. I’d procure my next job first, though.

  20. Line Straddler*

    Anyone know about the Results Pyramid and have any great work stories to share?

    For those who don’t know, it’s about the relationship between our experiences, which form our beliefs, which them influence our actions, with impact our results. The idea is that if you want to impact results, you must first give your staff new experiences to change their beliefs.

    I’d love to hear how this model has worked for you.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m sure there’s some limited validity to that, but in my case, I’d call it bunk. If my employer tried to influence my beliefs, I’d be dusting off my résumé. What positively impacts my results is a work environment that gives me the resources to do my job and a manager who finds the right balance of being available to answer questions while also allowing me the autonomy to explore the best solutions. What would negatively impact my results would be an employer who says “We’re going to try to influence your beliefs, because we think that will result in better work from you.”

      1. Line Straddler*

        I think the idea is that you may have to change the way you define “beliefs”.
        They aren’t trying to influence your political/moral/religious/personally held beliefs. They are trying to influence a belief like “XYZ part of my work doesn’t matter for ABC reason so I end up letting it fall off my plate”.
        Sometimes all the reminders, training, screaming in the world can’t improve compliance with XYZ until people realize that there’s a reason other than ABC for why it actually is important.

        I like to think about closing the lid on the toilet seat. My dad never put the lid back down on the toilet seat because he simply couldn’t be bothered/my mom may not have cared/his mom may not have cared, or whatever. He finally changed his behavior when he had an experience where he himself fell in the toilet bowl in the middle of the night like the rest of us have probably done once. His experience taught him that it mattered more to put the lid down than to risk falling in the toilet, which ultimately changed his actions.

        Does that make more sense?

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      It sounds like garbage to me, to be honest. One new experience is going to be weighted against my entire lifetime of experiences and is not going to move the needle.

      Why not just tell your staff the results you expect and have a back-and-forth brainstorming session about whether those results are achievable? If so, ask them what resources are required and provide those resources.

    3. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

      This sounds like one of those things where the extent to which it is true overlaps with the extent to which it is pretty meaningless.

      For example, if you have a workplace where high performers aren’t rewarded and poor performers aren’t moved out, you could definitely draw this kind of line:

      Experience: My workplace doesn’t fire people or give raises based on performance
      Belief: It doesn’t matter how well or poorly *I* do, it won’t affect my job security or my pay
      Action: I am not going to put much effort into my work. Why bother? What’s in it for me?
      Result: Work suffers

      Change the experience, change the result? Okay:

      Experience: My boss gives better raises to good workers, and lets go of bad workers
      Belief: My personal output has a direct relationship with my job security and my income
      Action: I will work hard enough to meet or exceed expectations
      Result: Work improves

      Except… we already knew that incentivizing good performance is a good management practice. How does it benefit from being put in this framework? What new information does this structure give us about improving performance or results?

      It also seems really easy to incorrectly extend from “true but meaningless” to “untrue but seemingly meaningful”. “Experiences” and “beliefs” are fuzzy terms. Does it really matter if Sally genuinely *believes* that your widget is going to revolutionize the world, when your pay/commission structure is good enough that she’ll work hard to sell it to your customers? How many experiences are going to be foisted on her to get her to believe in the Widget the way you want her to? Is that really the best use of time and effort?

      I guess I can see some value in this as a way to break down what’s going wrong. Like, if the problem is that your workplace won’t fire slackers, then it’s not going to matter how many all-staff emails you send out admonishing people to do more work. They have no reason to start. In that context, sure, it makes sense to start thinking about what *you* can control, and what changes *you* have to make to start getting better work out of your staff. But for an already solid manager, in a mostly functioning workplace? I don’t see much benefit.

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      Sounds a bit intrusive and like some kind of stealth attempt to therapise people.

      Core beliefs are not something you should steam in trying to challenge if you are not trained to do that!

    5. Close Bracket*

      Well, if you as my manager want to change my belief that you are a shitty manager, then you will definitely have to change your actions and start using good management techniques, like meeting with me regularly (or ever) to see how my assignments are going and to review my goals. I’m pretty data driven, so if I saw my manager making positive changes, it would slowly change my opinion about them, and I might possibly stop looking for a new job on company time and maybe do better work.

      How has it worked for you?

    6. Not So NewReader*

      While I agree that our experiences do influence our beliefs, I also think there are not enough hours in the work week to cure everyone. I am a firm believer in learning by doing.
      I had a person who was afraid of a machine that heated up. I had heard the horror stories of the old models so I knew that she had concrete reason for her fear. We were using the new models which were 100 times safer. This story dragged on as she did avoidance behavior and I was concerned that I might not be able to help her overcome this and she would lose her job.
      Finally one day my boss said “Either she does this work with this Machine or she is fired.” Oh, crap. All because of fear. Well, you can’t cure fear by telling a person they will be fired if they don’t just “get over it”. Matter of fact, the next time they encounter a similar situation their fears will be even WORSE because of being fired.

      So I asked her if she would watch me run the Machine. It took everything she had, but she said yes. I was so grateful, silently. She literally stood behind me and peered over my shoulder. I explained the new tech and how this machine was better. Slowly she moved so she was standing beside me. I notice the change in body language and I set her up on a machine next to me. “Come on, we are going to try this together. I am going to do a sample and then it’s your turn.” She tried. And she found out she would be okay. This took 15 minutes, my job was crazy busy so this would be a like hours to some people.

      To other people in the group this level of hand-holding would be an insult and/or a waste of time. They were comfortable with the machines and successfully doing their jobs. They did cheer her on for facing her fear. She never forgot that day and how we handled it.

      All this experience was good for me. Years later I encountered a boss who had been burned by previous employees. I knew exactly how to help her to understand that things would be different now.

  21. Holly Flax*

    This week we had a candidate for one of our open positions show up to our offices in a suit to hand deliver their resume and cover letter one day after the position was posted. They have over 20 years of work experience but are nowhere near qualified for this position. I was in such shock that I just thanked them for their application and said we would be in touch in a couple of weeks if they were selected for interview. How should I respond if this happens again? I think this is really hampering their ability to find a job.

    1. Infinity Anon*

      You don’t really owe them advice and it doesn’t sound like they were super out of line. Dropping off the resume and then leaving, while not great, does not sound like it is the worst thing they could do so long as they are polite about it. And you never know how someone will respond to criticism. If you have a set way you want to receive the applications (online application system?) you could say “Actually, we only accept applications through (insert application process here). Once you submit your application there, we will be in touch in a couple of weeks if you are selected for an interview.”

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I think you were even generous in saying “we would be in touch in a couple of weeks if they were selected for interview.” The next time it happens, you should probably just say “Thanks,” and then put it in a pile.

    3. Spooky*

      I mean, if you really just want to drive home the point, you could always say, “I’m sorry, but we stopped accepting paper applications about a decade ago. You can apply via our online system.”

      But it’s not really your problem to tell him he’s not qualified. A simple “thank you” seems fine to me.

    4. OwnedByThCat*

      If someone did that to me I would let them know that in order to be considered they would need to apply through our website! I would definitely be caught off guard.

    5. Todd*

      I’m not quite sure what the issue there is. If a company posts a job with requirements and someone stops by to drop a resume and cover letter what’s the issue? I’ve seen this done lots of times. Now the person dropping their resume/cover letter needs to realize they aren’t there for an interview, they are merely dropping the paperwork off with a receptionist. It’s at the companies discretion whether the receptionist is going to call back to HR and say “Would you like to speak to this person”.
      Now if the person is unqualified…that’s another issue. Then you just don’t advance that person to the next round of evaluations.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        This is a good point *if* the ad didn’t give explicit instructions on how to apply.

      2. Holly Flax*

        The ad says email your resume and cover letter to our general hr email address. Oddly enough, I just noticed that they sent their resume and cover letter to that email address a couple of hours before dropping in. I guess it felt odd to me because we are a tech startup and I think most people in our industry would be turned off by this. Also, we do not have a receptionist so they were apparently aimlessly wandering around our office and they just so happened to ask our CEO to direct them to HR.

        1. JamieS*

          Not that odd. It sounds like he’s slightly north of springtime so considering that he was probably the email would be “lost”. Obviously not a great practice but not completely out there.

      3. periwinkle*

        A resume is NOT an application. Handing me a resume is not the same as completing the job application. Go fill out the application if you want to apply. If you’re not applying for a specific position but want to be kept in mind (and we absolutely searched our resume database when we had roles to fill), then send me a .pdf or .doc of your resume so I can import it into the resume database.

        Don’t assume that I will be delighted to set aside my other work to manually type your damn resume information into our database.

        That cover letter isn’t going to see the light of day, either, unless it’s attached to an application, which you didn’t fill out. Perhaps I will make a nice origami crane out of it. Or a frog, because I really need practice with that one. My cranes are flawless already.

        This grumble brought to you by someone who used to work in recruiting.

      4. Cobol*

        1) If you drop off a resume or doesn’t get into the system without somebody taking time out of their day to do it
        2) There may be more info asked for in the online application that isn’t outlined in a more broad job description.
        3) As Holly reveals below, many offices are not set up to have dropins.
        4) Doing something that is significantly out of the cultural norm indicates you may not get it.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If it happens again, explain that you don’t accept applications in person and they’d need to apply online. If they try to pitch you on themselves (which is often part of this approach), don’t indulge it out of a desire to be polite. Cut them off and say, “I’m sorry, I’m not able to talk, but if you apply online, we’ll be in touch about whether or not an interview makes sense.”

    7. Mockingjay*

      I am wondering if he was let go from a long-time position, so this is the first time he’s job searched in a while. He may simply not be aware how the job application process has changed.

      I had to coach Mr. Mockingjay on the new “norms” when he retired from government service and began looking for busy work. He held many quaint notions, along the lines of GUMPTION! Just show up! Call and Call some more! Send an email! Send another!

      As a contractor at the mercy of yearly task orders and expired funds, I have way more experience in the job hunt realm. I convinced him that Alison knows best. (Here’s your 2-page resume, upload with targeted cover letter to ATS, and WAIT.)

      1. Get a Haircut*

        *Fist bump* Well-meaning girlfriend, old-school retired military offers me similar advice. “No honey, that’s not really done anymore…”

  22. beanie beans*

    When an online application haves you fill in supervisor or manager names and contact info and asks “may we contact this employer/supervisor/manager?” would they typically follow reference protocol and inform you before they contact them? It seems a little different than references, but surely they wouldn’t call them before you made it very far in the process, right?

    I haven’t told my boss I’m looking, and a few of these online applications have me nervous he’ll get a call before I’ve given him a heads up. No place in the online forms to request notifying first…

    1. SophieChotek*

      Could you just say “no” — or do you just want a heads up first? I would probably err and say “no” and then if you get to the interview stage, if references-check come up amend your statement?

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      If the potential employer has any sense of business ethics, they will not contact your manager without your permission before getting to the reference-checking stage (at the reference-checking stage, they can do whatever they want). Unfortunately, if they have no sense of business ethics, you leaving your boss’s name off the form may not prevent them from contacting your current employer (at least the company), though.

    3. Pineapple Incident*

      In some application fields, there are comment or note sections at least somewhere, when you post your resume or when discussing past experience (sometimes I’ll use the job experience section if it’s one of those where you enter everything manually). In one of those, I have always put “please notify me prior to conducting reference checks with current supervisor” or something to that effect.

    4. DaniCalifornia*

      I would check No. It doesn’t look bad, most people know that most workers don’t advertise their job searches to their boss.

      I filled out one recently that stated at the bottom where I signed, that I was giving them permission to contact any of my references and jobs by submitting the application. I went back to a space where there was a line for my current position and added “My employer is not currently aware of my job search”

    5. beanie beans*

      Thanks everyone – I think I’ve got good options for how to handle this in the future!

      I think I’ve had a brain block that clicking “no” would somehow reflect poorly, but Sophie, you’re right, totally reasonable for a current position, and I can clarify later.

  23. Language Student*

    I started applying for jobs this week and had an interview today (which went well, I think). I’m finding it frustrating how many permanent, retail non-senior type positions require 1-2+ years experience in retail, though. Should I apply anyway and count my tutoring experience as “customer service” or just move on?

    1. Professional Shopper*

      You should apply! You can count anything where you’re interacting with the public as customer service experience. Tutoring would work–you’re dealing with people one-on-one and you have to clearly communicate. Anyone you tutored is a kind of customer, and use those experiences to answer questions like, “How have you handled a difficult customer?”

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      My HR tags my entry level positions with 1-3 years experience required. I really wish they didn’t, but they do. Apply anyway. Job postings are targeted at the perfect candidate, which doesn’t exist.

    3. kb*

      Definitely apply! As Personal Shopper said, highlight any role where you worked with people. Additionally, I found that when I had slim customer service experience, actually going into the store to drop off a resume and cover letter shortly after I had applied online helped me get jobs. I know that’s the opposite of everyone’s advice here and I agree with them for most all situations. In retail, though, demonstrating that you are a charismatic person who can make a good impression on strangers goes a long way, especially if your resume doesn’t have anything on it that would reflect that.

  24. Opalescent Tree Shark*

    I don’t need advice (the employee in question is already being transitioned out and her last day is a week from today), but I am wondering what all of you would do in the situation.

    I think one of the people in my department is racist, but nothing she does is blatantly racist. Let’s call her Jane. I am a supervisor in my department, but I am not Jane’s direct supervisor. Occasionally, though, when her supervisor is unavailable, I observe Jane’s programs (we are in informal education). The first time I observed something….off was a couple months ago, and I think it was one of the first times I had to observe this person. Jane was speaking to a white family when a black family approached her. Jane completely ignored the black family. Ideally in this situation, we want our educators to incorporate new people into the conversation, which is not always an easy skill. She did make any attempt to do this, she didn’t even say something like “I’ll be with you in a minute,” she just didn’t acknowledge their existence. The daughter in the black family even tried to incorporate herself into the conversation and Jane continued to ignore her. Typing this out, it seems definitely, obviously racist, but at the time I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. A lot of our educators struggle with how to continue a conversation when a new person approaches you in the middle of a conversation with someone else, but in all my observations, it’s never looked quite like this before. I coached her on how to incorporate new people and talked to her about the importance of including everyone, but I did not address the race thing with her directly. I did tell her supervisor what I observed and told her to keep an eye out for similar behavior. I hadn’t heard anything else about possibly racist behavior since then and since I am not her direct supervisor, I thought no more about it

    But then, last week, I wasn’t even directly observing her, but happened to be in the same space where she was educating and notice something again. (Ironically, that was also the day that she had The Talk with her supervisor and our department manager about other performance issues where thy collectively decided to transition her out.) This time, she was talking to a big group of people, including many teenagers. She was mostly giving direction and answering questions. Granted, the teenagers were a bit obnoxious that day, but no more than teenagers are any day. A black teenage boy asked Jane a question. The question he asked could have been taken as an obnoxious question, but he also just could have been genuinely curious. Jane completely ignored his question, but this time is was almost worse than when she ignored the black family. She didn’t talk to anyone else or pretend he didn’t exist. She stared straight at him, not saying a word. He repeated his question and she just continued to stare. I actually jumped in (literally walked in front of her) and answered his question and took over the program, telling her she could have a break and leave the space. I don’t know if she understood why I took over as I didn’t have a chance to talk to her afterwards.

    If you were her supervisor and you saw this behavior (and there weren’t other performance issues), what would you do? How do you tell someone that at the very least their behavior is coming off as racist even if they don’t mean it that way? Would asking a peer of hers who work more closely with her and is a POC if they had ever noticed any racist behavior from her be a good idea or the worst idea?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I want to say it almost doesn’t matter if she is being racist or not because what she is doing is providing poor customer service and a manager should absolutely be addressing that.

      (It obviously does matter if she’s being racist, but that is more difficult to ‘prove’ and coach for in a professional setting.)

      1. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah, regardless of *why* she’s doing it – racism, general rudeness, etc, it’s really bad customer service.

        Honestly, I’d probably need to see more evidence of these kinds of things – does she always ignore black students, or is she rude to others? Is she rude to everyone? Is there a pattern? – before I called it out as obviously racist. In this case, I’d definitely pull her aside and ask for an explanation, giving her the benefit of the doubt.

    2. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      I think you handled it well on the spot. I’m glad Jane is being transitioned out. Yikes.

      As for asking Jane’s POC peers and colleagues, I wouldn’t. I can understand why someone might want to, but it puts the colleagues on the spot, where they might feel they’ll face backlash for speaking candidly if it ever gets out that they said something, and asking only POC to take that on isn’t fair. I can see why you would want their opinions and observations about Jane’s behavior, but I don’t know whether there is an appropriate way to solicit those opinions. I think if you were to take action, you would have to go on your own observations about how she treats black constituents, which I think are more than enough.

      1. K.*

        Agreed – absolutely do not ask for feedback from colleagues of color. It’s going to put them in a very awkward unwinnable position. I speak from experience, as a Black woman who has been put on the spot like that.

        In general, if you have to ask if a behavior is racist, it’s a good idea to change the behavior.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Wait… that’s not blatantly racist? That seems blatantly racist to me.

      How do you tell someone that at the very least their behavior is coming off as racist even if they don’t mean it that way?

      Google intent vs. impact.

      1. Infinity Anon*

        There is a chance it is an unconscious bias. In which case bringing it to their attention could be helpful. You would not want to be accusatory since that is likely to lead to defensiveness (not a productive spot to work from ). Just mention the perception and that it could be unconscious. You could even suggest that your staff take an unconcious bias test online (privately of course, for their own information).

        1. Rachel in NYC*

          And its hard to know with only 2 instances over several months. It could be that she is just really bad at her job.

    4. NyaNya*

      I would have found her after the incident to ask her what happened. Not in an accusatory way, but just “Hey, I saw that the student asked you a question and instead of answering, you just stared at him even when he repeated the question. You didn’t seem to have an issue answering questions from the other students. What happened?” And hear her out. If she immediately excuses herself by saying, well the others were polite, that one was rude! You can explain that you heard the interaction and didn’t agree with her assessment, reference that you had previously seen a similar situation when another family approached her and she ignored them as well. Then remind her that her duties include keeping good interactions with all persons in the program. I don’t think going to others and asking if she seems racist is a good idea though, especially if you hadn’t addressed the basics of the interactions you witnessed with her first.

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        I like this response best- it gives her a chance to either respond and explain the situation or what she’s struggling with appropriately, or give her more rope to hang herself with. If you got an answer from her that confirmed your assumptions, then it would just further support her transition out. It’s a good thing she’s leaving!

      2. strawberries and raspberries*

        I was going to suggest this as well- if you use the word “racist,” people immediately go on the defensive and shut down. It could also be helpful to notice dog whistle racist language she might be using- like if you point out that she was nicer to other (white) guests and she’s like, “But they were so nice and clean and well-spoken!” then you might be like, “Wow, Jane, that’s not how we provide customer service here. Everyone gets treated the same way.”

      3. Thlayli*

        Yeah. Ask first. Both situations happened in circumstances in which there were other possible causes than racism – the first that she didn’t know how to include the second family or didn’t know she should, which you say is a problem many of your staff have, and the second that she interpreted the question as obnoxious so was intentionally not answering it, and you actually said yourself the question could have been meant obnoxiously.
        Without knowing the details I think it’s jumping to conclusions to assume it’s racism. Just two incidents over an extended period, her own manager never noticed any other possible racism even after you told the manager to keep an eye out, and in both cases there was a legitimate alternative explanation. It seems pretty weak to make a definite statement that it was racism.
        I think it’s possible she was being racist, but it’s also possible she wasn’t. If I were you I would have asked her a bit of a pointed question on the second incident – exactly like Nya Nya suggests. I think her answer might have given a bit more info.

    5. LKW*

      I agree that something is very off – and my assumption is that she is a racist or at least spewing racist micro-aggressions left and right. But it’s really easy to play these off as “Well I don’t like to interrupt a conversation” or “it was a rude question”. So you have to show a pattern of behavior to very clearly make the case. For me, I would want to see examples where the situation was similar but different. If a white family approached, would she have brought them into the conversation or would she ignore them as well? If a white student reiterated the question, would she answer it? If a white student brought up the same question on a different day, would she answer it?

      Still – she sounds awful.

      1. Observer*

        Yes, as a supervisor, I would most definitely want to document a pattern. Then you bring it up. It’s not useful to label the person – possibly not even the behavior. But you DO have to identify it. What I mean is that saying “your behavior is racist” is not likely to be helpful. But saying “I see a pattern of different behavior with x group and y group.” is potentially useful and definitely necessary.

    6. Integrity Snob*

      Having worked with an outspoken racist, at my predominantly single-race job at the time… it can really drag everyone down when this happens (I mean, if they care – my office didnt – it took her referring to someone’s hair as “slave braids” who was ACTUALLY black for them to care). But I digress… I’m glad she is transferred out and I hope does not have another job working with the public. I also hope her reputation sticks with her. Saying that though, I also agree with the poster who suggested asking why she ignored that student (while not bringing race in) to see what would have been said.

    7. c.m.*

      I don’t see how you can label a person racist from just two incidents that occurred a few months apart. was the boy the only black person in the group?
      also maybe she had a hard time incorporating new people in the conversation, and here it happened to be with a black family.
      I don’t see racism unless there is pattern beyond the two incidents.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        I think, given that we all live in work in a society that is systematically racist, that we can assume that racial bias permeates our actions. It’s healthy to start with that assumption and let that inform how we handle questions like this.

        1. c.m.*

          I disagree. You can judge a person on two incidents that occurred months a part. If you see a white Person rude to a black person, does that mean that the whit person is racist? the white person can be a rude person in general or maybe they had a bad day that is causing their behavior. You cannot jump to conclusions. If a person caught you acting, on two different occasions months apart, rudely would you want to be judged? There can a million reasons for one’s behavior. The poster only brought two examples with no more general context. the poster writes that between the two incidents (few months time) she didn’t hear about any racist behavior. maybe the poster caught her in a bad time…

          1. Delphine*

            How many incidents would you like before people are allowed to pass judgement? Three, four, six?

            Frankly, people of color make these judgments regularly. It’s how we protect ourselves. It depends on what I experience (and I have experienced exactly what the OP is describing), but two incidents is certainly enough for me to deeply mistrust a person. I will suspect you’re racist if your behavior leads me to believe you might be. I don’t have the privilege of pretending that all potentially racist people are just having a bad day or are truly, honestly good people.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Psychologists tend to say that if we see a behavior three times we have a pattern. I have used this rule of thumb a lot. On some things, like this example here, twice is more than enough for me. “This is the second time I saw you not answering a non-white person. What’s up.” Or depending on other circumstances, maybe I would just go straight to the boss with what I saw.

          2. Optimistic Prime*

            The OP didn’t say that she was definitively racist; she said she thought she MIGHT be racist and was using this as a starting point to investigate that suspicion. But…seriously, these two incidents both had a black person as the target. I don’t think it’s outside the realm of reasonableness to wonder if they might be racially motivated.

        2. Specialk9*

          Exactly. Especially in the US, racism is baked into the foundation of our nation and permeates our culture. Racism is clearly an evil that harms people, deeply, and warps society. But our thinking about racism is binary in a way that actually, paradoxically, prevents the problem from being resolved. ‘Good person = not racist’ doesn’t account for the fact that this is a common struggle, that’s worth struggling with. ‘I’m a good person with racist programming that I have to work to overcome’ is much more effective than ‘I’m a good person so I can’t be racist, la la la la I can’t hear you!’.

          1. TL -*

            Yes this. I generally strive to be a good person but I definitely have had a few very shame-filled moments on crowded trains where I realized that I felt uncomfortable because a tall black man dressed in jeans/T-shirt got on and stood next to me. I didn’t even realize I made those assumptions before that!
            I still don’t think I’m a bad person but I definitely spent some serious time shaming myself in my head and taking the time to counter my assumptions and being honest that I was having racist and hurtful reactions. It felt sucky to admit it to myself but I don’t think it made me the worst person ever, just one with some serious work to do.

  25. acting as a reference*

    I’m acting as a reference for someone and the hiring manager emailed me the questions. I hired this person as a freelancer, so I was responsible for her, but it wasn’t the same type of relationship as working with an employee of the company (no performance reviews, no career development, no working in teams, etc.). A lot of the questions are about those aspects. How do I answer those, or do I just write that they didn’t apply?

    Also, how do you all answer questions asking whether the person you’re acting as a reference for needed improvement or where their areas of weakness were? I’ve never been a reference before and I don’t really have anything negative to say about their work, and I obviously don’t think I should make something up, but the questions make me feel like I should have something to say? They’re very direct – “What areas did they need additional assistance? / What areas needed to improve? / Was improvement received after a review was delivered? / What was their weakest work quality?”

    1. fposte*

      If they don’t apply, just write they don’t apply. Pretty much the same for the improvement questions–if there was no area for improvement, you don’t need to write one. I’ve also said things like “I saw great growth in xxx” to indicate it wasn’t their strongest area but it also wasn’t one that was going to be a fixed flaw.

    2. Soupmonger*

      Explain in the reference how you know the person, that they weren’t an employee. And if you didn’t experience any areas of weakness while working with them, just say that. Be honest, and if you can’t answer questions, tell them so and your reasons.

  26. eUGH*

    I didn’t get the job. I reminded myself constantly that I probably wouldn’t get it, but dang I interviewed well (best interview ever).

    Toxic job is still toxic, but I’m learning to make the most of it (by doing work I am not remotely qualified to do). However they seem to be expecting my to travel and suggested I should replace my clunker with a car on finance (since I can’t afford a new one)- NOPE NOT HAPPENING.

    1. Specialk9*

      Oh man I’m so sorry to hear that.

      Any chance you can find a small treat this weekend? Kick autumn leaves and breathe deeply while staring up at trees, even? (Obv depends on hemisphere – find a local equivalent.) Something to pamper your soul.

      If they suggest financing a car, I’d act super enthusiastic about *them* taking on that business expense. :D

  27. POed*

    My boss is the moodiest SOB I’ve ever known and I’m losing patience dealing with it.

    When things are good they’re really good but when he’s in a bad mood it’s a nightmare: micromanaging, snark and attitude. None of my co-workers get the brunt like I do and if I didn’t like them and the work I’d be gone already. I’m also the only woman and the youngest on the team, but am a consistent top performer.

    I guess I should dust off the resume because I don’t think this is going to change.

    1. JadedDisneyCharacter*

      Sorry you are going through this. I experienced similar in my last role from a temp boss while mine was on maternity leave.

      My advice would be to dust of the resume and move on if it doesn’t improve.

    2. Emily S.*

      It really sounds like this is not going to change, because we’re talking about this man’s own issues/personality.

      IMHO, it is time to start a job search.

  28. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

    Two weeks ago I had an initial interview that went well and my fingers have been itching to ask the person for an update, but I’m not going to do it, because the messaging I got was clearly “we’re interested, but we’re in the very early stages of initial interviews so it might take a couple weeks to get back to you, and we look forward to being in touch when we have an update.” I know they’re getting slammed with applications and I know it might be a while before I hear back, if I ever do. I want to know one way or another whether I’ll be advancing to the next stage of interviews, but I also know patience is a virtue. The ball is in their court and I need to respect their process.


    1. Nanc*

      Do not read this reply if you don’t want a double ear worm . . .
      It’s not helpful, but I read your second to last second to last sentence just as Aretha Franklin’s Respect came up on my iTunes and as I know this iTunes mix, very well, the next song will be Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ The Waiting [is the Hardest Part]. Again, not helpful but freaky coincidence!

    2. Close Bracket*

      I’m in the same position. Today is the last day I am going to keep thinking about it, and then I assume I am no longer in the running and think about other things. Next week is a job fair at my department, so that should help get my mind off it.

  29. Moneygrubber*

    I’m an hourly employee at a for-profit company somewhat related to healthcare, and we’re a major sponsor of a local charity event this Saturday. Nobody told me explicitly that I’m required to attend, but the feeling I’ve gotten was that I’m required to go — and I don’t know of anyone in the office who’s not attending. This is the kind of place where multiple people noticed I didn’t attend the company’s “family fun day” on a weekend and mentioned it the next day.

    I don’t really mind attending this event on Saturday, but I intend to put those hours on my timesheet so I can be paid — and they’ll be paid at time and a half, since I’m already working over 40 hours during the normal work week. Is that going to come off as shady or out of step with the culture?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      If they want you to work the event, then you should be paid for your time. If you’re simply attending, then I think that would likely be out of step with the notion of a charity event.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Not only this (which I agree with), but also, giving yourself overtime hours without clearing it with a supervisor sounds like something that could be very out of step as well.

        1. Moneygrubber*

          That’s a good point about the overtime, but my manager is generally not picky about a few hours of OT here and there because our workload is pretty heavy lately. It’s not uncommon for me to turn in timesheets with ~5 hours of OT, which she approves without question.

          As for the event, I think I’ll probably be asked to do at least some setting up or tearing down or “working the booth” or whatever, in addition to completing the main event (think walk, run, race, march, etc.) — but I’m not sure. It will eat up at least three or four hours of my Saturday morning. I have to wear a company shirt and everything.

    2. Pineapple Incident*

      Ask! In a reasonable organization, they’ll have to recognize that requiring your time outside of work for an hourly position is a no-go, and runs afoul of the law. If you’re really required to be there, they should absolutely pay you-and if they won’t, you should suddenly have important plans and/or will be out of the state.

      1. Moneygrubber*

        You’re right. In the past, my co-workers have told me the annual Christmas party is “basically required,” and while they don’t put those exact hours on their timesheets, they find a way to work the equivalent into their timesheets during the week. As you might guess, this place isn’t the world’s most reasonable environment — but I do know that our HR department is careful not to run afoul of the law.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Please ask your boss if this is paid time or pure volunteer time. Then decide accordingly.

    4. Thlayli*

      Have you asked your manager if you are supposed to come? Voluntarily showing up without being asked and then demanding overtime is way out of line. Either you’re there working which should he agreed in advance or you’re there volunteering for which you shouldn’t be paid. Contact your manager before showing up.

  30. paul*

    So…this happened earlier this week and I’m still sort of hacked off about it.

    backstory: I’m a formerly serious powerlifter, and I’m trying to get back into the game. And I’m trying to cut down about 45 lbs of weight I put on after having kids and a major pair of injuries (not lifting related).

    On Monday, I stopped by Walmart on the way to work and got some protein powder and protein bars to keep at the office–the powder is 140 calories/30g protein, the bars (Thinkthin brand–tasty!) are 230 calories and 20-21 grams protein depending on flavor. Figured they’d help me stay away from the pure sugar snacky stuff that’s always around and help me hit my macros easier. I also got some Advil Cold & Sinus to keep at my desk because hay fever sucks.

    I put the powder and bars on the hutch on my desk.

    We have a meeting here and my bosses boss comes into my office for unrelated stuff and sees the protein powder and pointedly reminds me that our policy prohibits the use of banned substances including steroids.

    I remained about as calm as I could when I pointed out that protein is *not* exogenous testosterone and that WalMart isn’t in the habit of selling contraband on store shelves, and that being interested in losing weight doesn’t mean I’m using gear any more than listening to grunge (which she likes) means she smokes pot. But I’m afraid she took it kind of badly.

    1. Dotty*

      Yeah she was being really offensive so I see why you’d be annoyed. That was a pretty good comeback on the spot too.

      1. paul*

        I’m just nervous because now my grandboss is mad at me :/ And apparently thinks I use steroids (which…if they were legal and affordable I would but they’re neither and jail time isn’t worth a better squat).

        But I don’t know how I should have addressed it better or how I should moving forward.

        1. Dotty*

          You could mention to grandboss – “I think I may have come across a bit blunt the other day – and I’m sorry if that’s the case. I must admit I was caught off-guard to have someone seemingly insinuate I’d take illegal substances, at all, but much less in the workplace.”

          And then yes if people comment again, shrug it off as “it’s just a protein bar but thanks” as others have commented but I think your response was understandable

        2. The OG Anonsie*

          I don’t know, but I get the feeling from your boss’s reaction to seeing something as benign as protein powder that she (and potentially grandboss) are not super reasonable or easy to deal with in general. You can’t un-whack whacky people in my experience.

          If they mention it again you could say, seriously, that protein powder is literally powdered protein and you’re not sure why they keep bringing up steroids at all.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Having faced parallel stuff, what I have done is brought the product into the boss’ office and let her read the label. Granted you could be adding stuff to the product but anyone could be doing this. The point for her to know is that YOU aren’t.
          Tell her you feel bad about your quick comeback the other day. And you are concerned that she thinks you use steroids illegally. You wanted to reopen the conversation to make sure she understood that you are not using illegal drugs. Then go on to say, “I brought the product(s) in for you to take a closer look at the ingredients list. I like my job and I don’t want anything to be a cause of tension or concern. I prefer to keep things transparent so we are all clear on what is going on.”

          I have found that this approach usually ends the questioning. I think in part because I was the one who reopened the conversation, I did not wait for accusations to fly around.

    2. Emi.*

      Oh golly, that’s obnoxious. I think a casual “Oh, don’t worry, it’s just protein!” would have gone over better, but unless she’s pretty touchy it’s probably not going to be a big deal. Good luck with your return to lifting, btw! I just started ~two weeks ago and I’m having a ton of fun.

    3. EmilyAnn*

      So someone who knows nothing about supplements, tried to lecture you on thinkthin bars as steroids? This all depends on the size of her ego. Can she understand that she misunderstood something and made horrible implications about you? Her taking it badly is not your problem. If you think you can raise it again and say you felt defensive because she made an accusation about you and smooth the waters that might help.

    4. Jaydee*

      Yeah, I think you could have left it at “Ummm, it’s protein powder, not steroids. Pretty sure Walmart doesn’t sell contraband on store shelves” without getting into the comparison to her taste in grunge music.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        Especially since if the boss does smoke pot (which is a pretty good chance tbf), you just made the point opposite of what you intended.

        1. paul*

          I…damn. Damn. I hadn’t thought of that. She comes across as a straight edge, but you never can tell.

          1. Emily S.*

            Isn’t that right! There have been times over the years when I’ve been shocked to see an otherwise straight-laced person smoking pot (or whatever). In one case, it was a manager – and we were at work. Oy.

    5. Trout 'Waver*

      I’d be tempted to double down on the ridiculousness.

      “Don’t worry, I only take horse steroids so I stay on the right side of the law. But I appreciate your concern!”

      1. paul*

        Fun fact: back when when I was actually competitive, lots of the guys that used did use steroids normally used for livestock. I have no idea what the controls are on the stuff–do you just find a greedy rancher or can you legit buy it at feed store?? And how do you dose it for humans, we’re biologically different?

        Not meant for human consumption but arguably less risky than home brewed I guess? IIRC tren (used for cattle) was the most popular but it’s been a while.

        1. another Liz*

          In veterinary medicine, we use a lot of drugs manufactured for human use, but dosages vary by species. There’s sifnificant research and testing involved in determining those dosages. Getting accurate, safe dosage information on using an animal drug in humans…well, that’s going to be a problem.

          1. another Liz*

            And yes, you CAN just walk into a feed store and buy quite a few things a layperson would expect to need a prescription for. Antibiotics being sold this way are a huge ethical debate in the industry currently.

    6. Catalin*

      I don’t know, that whole scene seems pretty charged to me. It’s pretty strange that she immediately jumped to the steroid place, but some people have/do mix substances in the protein powder so it’s not COMPLETELY off the wall. I agree it was rude to effectively accuse you of being a druggy, but I’m reading your reply to her as being rather defensive and potentially (dependent on relationships and tone) rude.
      This is your grandboss, so jumping straight to, “Just because I use protein to lose weight doesn’t mean I’m a druggie. You’re a fan of grudge and that doesn’t make you a pot-user!” seems less than professionally polite. If it were a coworker, sure, that’s fine.
      Just for consideration.

      1. Chriama*

        Yeah. I also felt that, while the initial comment from the grand boss was kind of rude (why would you assume that I’m both doing something illegal *and* bringing it out at work), your response was wayyyy aggressive and defensive. You could have been direct without being snarky, and that cost you the professional high ground in my book.

        1. The OG Anonsie*

          I get the feeling (and correct me if I’m wrong, paul) that boss is regularly weirdly invasive in a judgmental way and paul is primed to be defensive in general.

          Which doesn’t make it better, but is useful context for figuring out what to do next.

          1. paul*

            My grand-boss is pretty new–been here a few months. I only know she likes grunge because she mentioned it when she met us all after being hired. I’m honestly still kind of getting a feel for her. She’s definitely more involved in day to day stuff than the last one but that isn’t necessarily bad by default. I’ve got to be honest; so far I’ve had a very hard time reading her in general.

            Honestly was pretty floored by the whole thing. We’ll have to see how it plays out. I’ll keep Dotty’s suggestion in my back pocket if it comes up again…but I’m still floored that someone would equate protein and steroids.

            Oh well, not here too much longer anyway.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              There are lots of people out there who do not know this stuff. I’d give her a pass this time, just for my own sanity. The pass is not for her, it’s for me so I can move on.

    7. Clever Name*

      Maybe this is because I live in the west in a state with legalized weed, and most folks have a libertarian attitude towards what people do in the privacy of their own home that isn’t harming anyone else, but I’m having a heckuva time figuring out why your employer would care if you’re using steroids. Would it negatively impact your work (‘roid rage??). Are you a baseball player? I’m so confused.

      1. TL -*

        If my employee was bringing an illegal substance into work, I would care. Steriods for muscles mass are illegal; the boss’s reasoning was flawed but her conclusion of “Not allowed at work” is not.

    8. Close Bracket*

      I think that was exactly the answer she deserved, and while I appreciate your bind, you are kind of my hero right now.

    9. periwinkle*

      Wait, is that why I get so angry after eating ThinkThin oatmeal?

      Your boss’s boss is a doofus. No one has ever looked oddly at my protein powders, although to be fair I use Syntax Nectar iced tea powder and people probably just assume it’s Crystal Light. (if you like iced tea and can use whey protein isolate, this stuff is the best)

      1. Paul*

        I’m ordering some of that from Amazon now to try! Thanks for the heads up.

        Frankly the stuff I bought turned otu to to taste *horrible* so I’m trying a few other ones out to try to find something with a good mix of macros, taste, and cost.

    10. Thlayli*

      I actually thought those jars of protein were some borderline legal pseudo drug like a legal type of steroid for years. My friend thought so too. I think it’s a pretty common belief actually. It wasn’t till I met my Husband who lifts weights that I found out it’s just protein in powder form. Sounds like she had a similar belief.

  31. internal transferer*

    Just wanted to throw this out there for advice:

    I applied for an internal position with my company about 4 weeks ago and haven’t heard anything since. I received the generic “Thanks for applying” auto email and that’s it. I was just wondering if I should reach out to the hiring manager with a quick email saying, “hey I applied, haven’t heard anything, is this still open?” The problem is we a huge company and how fast something moves really depends on people hiring. Some departments move really fast, other departments are like turtles in molasses. Do your companies move on internal hires any faster than external?
    The position would be a lateral move for me pay wise, although it is in a different department, like accounting to hr.

    1. C.*

      Do you know anyone in that department well enough that you feel comfortable asking how long their hiring process usually takes? It might be worth asking, although not about your specific application, just “I haven’t heard anything but don’t want to bug them with a follow up if they usually take X amount of time to respond to applicants.”

      1. internal transferer*

        I know someone who used to be in the department and emailed her to ask. Unfortunately I don’t know anyone currently there.

    2. Red Reader*

      We’re glacial. The last time I had a transition, I interviewed in August 2015 and got the call in mid-January 2016. So I haven’t been directing any brain cycles toward the position I interviewed for this August, hah. I figure either they’ll call me about it eventually, or I’ll see in the newsletter that someone else was hired for it.

  32. Taba*

    In my office we have frosted class partitions around the tops of our cube walls. One of my coworkers,who is not on my team but sits near me, has put up a bloody hands and what looks like a gunshot wound decals on his partition as Halloween decoration. With the recent mass shootings I feel this is both tone-deaf and inappropriate in a work environment. Am I over reacting mentioning this to my manager? Two notes, we do not have an HR rep at our location and we do not decorate the office for Halloween. Oh! and his cube is on the aisle of a main walkway so many people will see this.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Are you comfortable mentioning it to him directly? “Fergus, I think your decorations are inappropriate for a professional environment.”

      1. Taba*

        No, he’s not known for his professionalism. He’s the “it’s a joke, can’t you take a joke” kind of guy. I’ve had to ask him in the past to turn his fan so that it doesn’t blow directly on me and that did not go well.

        1. paul*

          “The only joke is your lack of decorum”…is what I’d think really loudly but probably wouldn’t say.

          I’m a fan of gory decorations and the like *at home* or in haunted houses but not at the damn office. Some people have no discernment. A silly skeleton or grinning pumpkin is one thing (though I still do an internal eye roll when my coworkers put them up) but anything that’s really violent just isn’t something Id’ want at work

        2. Nanc*

          Yeah, if my response to the “it’s a joke” think is to always say “I don’t get it. Would you explain the humor?” But I’m obnoxious that way. Can you just drop HR an anonymous note?

          1. Marthooh*

            “Yes, Fergus, I do understand that you find it amusing. I’m trying to tell you that other people may not.”

            In a patient tone of voice.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      We have the same kind of partitions and if I was sharing that wall, then I’d put paper over my side to cover it up. If it was pumpkin and ghost jellies then I’d be all about it. Gun shots cross the line.

    3. LCL*

      If this is just bothering you because of the tackiness of it all, and you don’t have personal reasons for wanting it gone, just ignore it and let him demonstrate how clueless he is. It sounds like many people in the company will see it, he will hear about it from management sooner or later. I try not to engage with the ‘can’t you take a joke people’ unless I am prepared to fight, your judgement on this is sound. My advice would be different if you believe there is anyone in your office who has experienced gun violence or been in the military or law enforcement.

      1. Specialk9*

        You think that when dozens of people including babies were gunned down 2 weeks ago and that’s been all over the news… That graphic violence as decoration at work is too sensitive?

        Oh, sorry, you aren’t being serious. Sorry, got me!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I am biased. I have done this, I mentioned it to the boss and the stuff got taken down. Pretty much all you have to do is say, “is this the message we want people to see?”

  33. C.*

    A negotiation-ish question! Next fall, I will be starting work as a first year associate at the firm where I worked as support staff before law school. Due to parking constraints, staff and new attorneys park in a lot across the street. Once a space opens up in the main garage (semi-attached to the building where the firm is located), an attorney will move over there. I hate the across the street lot, so, so much. It’s part of a 4 way stop but no one realizes that the garage is one of the stops, plus drivers in this city are weirdly cool with running stop signs. Everyone has almost been in an accident there at least once. The semi-attached garage’s exit is on another street, so the awful intersection is avoidable.

    Normally it takes 6 months to a year for attorneys to move to the other garage, and attorneys are put on a list based on seniority. There will be another associate starting same time as me, and I’m worried that because he’s ahead of me alphabetically, he will also be ahead of me on the parking space list. Would it be out of line to ask the office manager who maintains the list to put me ahead of him, since I parked in that other lot for three years when I was support staff? Just writing this feels petty and makes me want to tell myself to suck it up, but at the same time, I am already dreading having to park over there after having been reacquainted with the lot last summer. (FWIW, I know one attorney who did this after she left the firm for a few years and then returned, so it’s not impossible, but she had also been practicing for 10+ years versus my 0.)

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I wouldn’t specifically ask to be put ahead of the other associate, but I would ask “do my years of service as support staff count toward seniority for the garage list?”

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        Seconded- this is way better. If it turns out your entire time applies, or could apply in the parking situation, then you could jump more people on the wait list than just the person starting with you.

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        I hate to say it, but attorneys are going to put zero value on time spent as support staff when it comes to seniority. In fact, it would come off as naive to ask imho. I think this is a suck-it-up and deal situation, unfortunately.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          But the office manager is not an attorney, and the office manager is the one who keeps the list. All other things being equal, the office manager may decide that C’s service counts.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            In C.’s position, I’d be much more concerned about whether the other attorneys perceived it as fair than if the list keeper did.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Eh, it’s just as fair as going in alphabetical order. {shrugs} I assume that whatever rules the attorneys have for giving people access to this garage, the office manager has them and will follow them.

    2. LCL*

      I would ask whoever in charge of this how they handle two persons who started on the same date. The solution is really easy-make sure you each have a different calendar date start. From my perspective as someone whose last name is on the bottom half of the English alphabet, this is worth making sure the rules are clear from the start, and going to war if the perk ends up being assigned by alphabetical order.

      I’m still sore about being removed from a class in junior high school because it was overenrolled, and I had been the first one registered because different parts of the alphabet were on a rotating list of who would register first, and I was finally first! It was my turn! And I got something I wanted following their rules! And the administrations’ solution was to ignore the order of registration, and remove us by choosing 3 people from the start of the alphabet, and 3 people from the end, and called it fair because the A-F group were also affected. Even though this go-round they registered last, and all removed should have been the first part of the alphabet.

  34. Rogue*

    Hey everyone I need some help with wording an email. I have to take a certification for my industry. I’ve applied, but one requirements is that all of my previous employers respond to the certifying party’s request for employment verification. I emailed everyone before sending in my app and received responses as to who to have the request sent to. All but one company has complied. I can’t move forward until this company responds. Meaning I’ve paid hundreds of dollars, can even take the exam, but the organization will refuse to certify me without this company’s response. I’ve followed up via phone, supposedly the person was out of the office and the staff would leave a message. I sent an email afterwards, but got no response. I’m going to send another email, please help me word it. I don’t want to come off rudely but if I don’t get this cert, I can’t continue working and will be out the money I paid to apply.

    1. Reba*

      How long has it been since you reached out, and how soon is the deadline? Those things impact how urgent the tone of the followup email is.

      I’d write,
      “Hi Aberforth, I’m following up on the request for work verification for Fancy Certification. I know you were away, but I wanted to touch base since this is an important step for my required certification, and the deadline is _____. Will you be able to respond today–or if there is someone else who should be handling this, please let me know and I’ll contact them. Thank you! All the best, Rogue”

      You might also call the office again and ask if there is another person who could handle the request. Good luck!

    2. Pineapple Incident*

      I think you can keep it very simple, firm but short. I would look up multiple POCs at ExCompany, including HR if there’s a department/office/rep. If you have a way to mark it urgent, maybe do that as well? Good luck- this sounds annoying!

      “To whom it may concern,

      Per my email on (date you sent the first prodding email), I am requesting an employment verification response to (name of certifying organization). For context, I worked in (X position) with (Y manager/Z team) from (Date) to (Date). The (name of certifying organization) has required this by (firm end date very near in the future, even if picked by you) prior to fulfilling other criteria associated with my certification application.

      Please reach out to me if there are any issues fulfilling this request, or if there is a specific point of contact I should rope in to do so. Thank you in advance for your help!”

    3. Fabulous*

      I would say something like:

      “Afternoon Aberforth,

      I’m following up on the email I sent to you on 10/1/17 regarding the required work verification for my certification in Fancy Thing. Your verification is the only one that’s still outstanding. The absolute latest due date for work verifications to be submitted to Fancy Thing, Inc. is November 1st, otherwise my Fancy Thing Certification will be denied.

      You should have received a verification request from Fancy Thing, Inc. around mid-September. I realize you may have been out of the office at that time, so please let me know ASAP if you did not receive it.

      I appreciate your quick response. Thank you for attending to this matter!


    4. Rogue*

      Thanks everyone! You’ve all been extremely helpful. To answer some questions, the testing date range is in December so this has to be completed by then at the latest, but I can’t even schedule the test without them completing the verification, so the sooner the better. It’s a small company, so when I initially contacted them to ask who to handle this, I sent the email to each of the 4 people there (its family owned and operated except us field employees). When I called, I explained what was needed, etc and they said yup this person handles that. It’s been about 2, going on 3 weeks since the last time I touched base.

      1. Rachel in NYC*

        If you have the time (or know someone you trust and would be willing to), I’d consider calling the office and set up a time for someone to pick up the employment verification. First call (or email but I find that if you are getting no response to email calling can be best), “Hi, Fergus, I’ve emailed previously about this certification that is required that CertificationOrg sent you in September. Can I stop by Friday to pick it up?” (A date gives them something to correct rather then say no- theoretically) Follow-up email (cc:ing whoever said they’d handle), “Fergus, thank for speaking with me earlier. I look forward to picking up the employment certification from SmallCompany from you on Friday. I’ll see you at the office at 3pm. Thanks, again.”

        And if this is a form that they are filling out, find out if the certifying organization will provide you with a copy of whatever SmallCompany needs to fill out so that it can be brought when you show up so if it hasn’t been completed- it can be completed in that moment. (It’s elaborate but this is how I get signed documents for my office sometimes.)

        1. Rogue*

          Unfortunately, certifying org will not allow that. They will email it only to a rep of the company with a company email address. We are not allowed to have access to the form. Additionally, neither company is in the state I’m currently working and it would be a 15+ hr drive. But thank you for your input! Much appreciated that you took the time to comment.

    5. Specialk9*

      Ugh, that’s the worst. Is it going to a general email box, or someone specific? Either way, CALL. Be charming and ask for help. No attitude in your voice at all! (In fact plaster a big smile on your face – sounds goofy but it makes a difference.)

      1. Rogue*

        It’s going to a specific person’s email. I’ve included the rest of the 3 person staff. Unfortunately, the person that needs to fill the form out, doesn’t answer phones, but if I don’t get a response, I’ll try calling again. Maybe I can sweet talk someone into helping. (This shouldn’t be this difficult. Lol)

    6. Drew*

      How do they handle a situation where a previous employer has gone out of business? If I had to fill this sort of thing out, I would be seriously SOL; one prior company is defunct (that’s why I don’t still work there) and another job literally has no one still there who worked with me; I’m not even sure whom I could ask for verification or if their records go back that far.

      1. Rogue*

        I actually had this happen. I called to find out what to do, since they require X number of verifiable years experience to take the exam and employment verification can only be sent to someone with a company email address. I offered to supply tax documentation showing I worked for the company for the time I said I did and could provide documentation showing I did the work I said I did. The certifying org said they would not accept that and basically too bad, so sad if I couldn’t give them an email address for someone at the company (I explained out of business). I ended up having to find another project and work it to make up the time.

  35. Penny*

    Anyone going to the SHRM conference in San Francisco next week? It’s my first one so I’ve been reading tips from this site to get the most out of it. I really hope to get some useful info and not a bunch of sales pitches. Open to any tips/advice and hearing from any other attendees.

  36. Rookie Manager*

    We work in a small office. Some of my team use an aerosol air freshener which makes me cough and my eyes water. Is it unreasonable to ban it forever?

    1. beanie beans*

      I think it’s totally reasonable to ask them not to use it because you have strong reaction to it. A lot of air fresheners have pretty nasty chemicals in them.

    2. a girl has no name*

      Could you mention that it causes a negative reaction for you and work together to come up with another solution-maybe one that plugs into an outlet? Outright bans can rub people the wrong way, but if you give them a say, they might be totally fine to switching to a different air freshener.

    3. Anono-me*

      Is is not unreasonable to ban people spraying stuff close to you that makes you ill.

      However, people are spraying the stuff for a reason. You might want to check to see if there’s an underlying cause of the bad smell, such as a dead rat (Danicalifornia).

      Also, the banning of air freshener A, might go over better if you can get your company to provide alternate air freshening products.

    4. NoMoreMrFixit*

      nope not unreasonable at all. I’m allergic to many of those concoctions so we don’t have them at all in the house. I found politely explaining there was a legitimate health issue was enough for sane folks to cooperate.

    5. Rookie Manager*

      Thanks everyone, given the size of the office thwy have all seen/heard my reaction to it. They also heard my not very professional ‘I need to leave the building. Never use that again’ as I fled!

      The plug in ones are even more toxic and have made me throw up before. There is no underlying bad smell it was purchased with office funds when I was not there to stop them. I think today’s spray was to cover up food smells. The whole thing made me really cross.

      Now I’ve calmed down I think I’ll bring it up at the team meeting, while I’m the only staff member so strongly affected it would be terrible if our clients were affected by the noxious fumes.

    6. Specialk9*

      Ask them very nicely, try to find a nice smelling alternative (I am allergic to so many fragrances, but *pure* essential oils rarely set me off)… and then steal the bad air freshener. :D

  37. Lipsy Magoo*

    Does your company have any creative ways that they handle cell phone usage for employees that don’t have offices and need to use the phone?

    We are doing some space planning and on a recent client visit it seems our team saw a number of small phones booth type of spaces, that weren’t scheduled or reserved, that employees can use at any time to make a personal call. I assume to avoid people going outside or being in hallways and bathrooms on their phones. Not using these spaces excessively of course, but when needed to make a doctor’s appointment and such.

    Any other ideas out there? Thanks in advance.

    1. TiffIf*

      My office has some small booth type things. I think they are actually meant for client calls that you don’t want to take at your cubicle, but I do know people use them for that type of personal call too. I’ve never used the booths because I usually use a small conference room that’s closer to my desk for a personal call (there’s like 5 small conference rooms within range closer than the booths, generally at least one will be empty). Most other people in my department do the same.

  38. gingerbird*

    So my mother once gave me slime work advice that still bugs me to this day. A few years ago when I was starting my first “professional” job, my mother sat me down and lectured me about the importance of dressing properly at work. One of these things though was that dressing professionalu consisted of wearing panty hose *underneath* slacks/pants. (Preferably with control top.) Not spanx or trouser socks, which I could understand with some people, but full pantyhose.

    This always confused me. I usually wear pants instead of skirts/dresses to work because my office is too cold and I find putting on hose a pain. To me, wearing hose with pants defeats the purpose of pants in general.

    Is this a common thing thats expected of women in the workplace? My industry can be formal, but this seems like overkill.

      1. Specialk9*

        The closest thing to this is that women who grew up in the 50s expect pantyhose with skirts… which nowadays is pretty much out the window except in the most formal of industries (I think law and banking, though I just hung out with a bunch of bankers and only saw 1 pair of pantyhose). I wear tights when it gets cold, but hose? Pshaw. And I loooooove to dress nicely.

        OP, your mom is old fashioned and out of touch – but likely trying to help you. Thank her kindly for the advice and change the subject.

    1. Arielle*

      Apart from the fact that no, this is not expected, if you’re wearing it under pants, how would anyone know if you were wearing pantyhose or not?

    2. Myrin*

      Count me in on the being confused. Unless your job involves disrobing, how would anyone ever know if you’re wearing pantyhose underneath your trousers or not?

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      You’re right, that is slime work advice. ;-)

      No, this isn’t common or expected. If you’re cold, or you get pantylines, or you find your pants hang better if you were pantyhose underneath, then by all means go ahead and do it. But no one is going to expect it.

    4. C.*

      I don’t know if they’re still doing it, but back in 2007 the education department at my college was telling female students to do this when sitting in on classes (not even student teaching, just practicum observation!). Since this is now only the second time I’ve heard this, it’s definitely not common, but probably one of those weird minority views that has a few very passionate defenders.

    5. fposte*

      Maybe it’s a safety thing; in case of a power outage, we need to provide static electricity sparks in the dark.

    6. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Wouldn’t the pants stick to the panty hose because of static? I can’t think of a single reason why you should comply with this advice.

    7. Manders*

      That’s very weird and not expected at all. I’m not even sure why anyone would know what you’ve got on under your pants.

      I think what she might have been trying to suggest was wearing something with a control top? But control tops aren’t really as common these days, and people who want one usually wear a camisole under a blouse, not pantyhose.

    8. Delynn*

      This is honestly crazy advice to me rather than simply old fashioned. As others noted, how will anyone know what you’re wearing under pants.

      But your mother’s reference to control top may point to the point she’s really trying to make.

    9. AndersonDarling*

      It’s old school. Back in the day, women wore panty hose under everything. Miss Manners even states that women should wear hose with open toed shoes- which seems ridiculous, why would I have a seam running across my toes? It’s an open toe shoe, the idea is to see my toes.

      1. EmilyG*

        I thought that’s what “sandalfoot” pantyhose were for. Of course, those get more runs.

        I’m old enough that I’ve worn pantyhose under pants before, either for the pre-Spanx Spanx effect or because I was wearing shoes that would give me blisters if I wore them alone but couldn’t be worn with socks. (I guess there are knee-high hose for that, but I never owned any.) It all feels silly now that I’m typing this out and definitely not de rigueur.

      2. The OG Anonsie*

        You get the sheer toe kind and/or pull the leg on such that the seam is under your foot. That’s what my family used to have me to, heh.

    10. July*

      This is a thing that people who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s thought was a wonderful revolution of the 1970s and 80s. Women at midcentury wore girdles. Women in the 1970s often swapped those girdles for the rather less pinchy control-top pantyhose, even under pants.

      But women in the 21st century? We’re just wearing spanx if we feel like it.

    11. beanie beans*

      I threw away all of my years of pantyhose several years ago. I figured if any future job required me to wear pantyhose, it wasn’t a job I wanted.

    12. Pineapple Incident*

      My mom gave me the same crap advice! I haven’t run into any scenario where someone’s commented or noticed my lack of pantyhose (I hate them, even with skirts), but apparently my mom’s boss would refuse to hire someone if she’d shown up to an interview without wearing pantyhose, even with pants. I liked my mom’s boss, but I consider it a sort of mark on her character that she’d be so sexist (there’s nothing about men’s fashion in interviews that my mom could recall her boss pointing out in a similar manner).

      1. Emma*

        I’m curious how the boss was able to tell, if they were wearing pants. They also make trouser socks that look very much like pantyhouse.

        1. CubicleShroom#1004*

          If you are wearing open toe shoes, or the top of your foot shows from your shoes, someone who is looking can tell if you weren’t wearing panty hose.

          I don’t think the sheer knee high panty hose like socks didn’t come out until the late 1970s and they were $$$.

          Think how some people think it’s horrible to wear no bra, when the woman is a size DD and wearing shear shirt. That was how wearing no panty hose was looked at in the work place 1960-1980s.

          I had to wear nursing whites with @#$%÷= panty hoses. I wore white slacks and nursing shoes. The male RNs got away with white ankle socks. I could not.

          My sister is still required to wear panty hose and closed toe shoes at her work place. No business casual there.

          Believe me…way back when, a micromanaging boss would check if you wore panty hose or not. I was written up twice for “being out of uniform”. The nursing supervisor was a lunatic, but panty hose was part of the hospital dress code (early 1980s).

          1. Thlayli*

            How could you tell a knee-high or ankle- high from a full length pair just by looking at someone’s feet?

            OP maybe your mum just meant to wear sheer socks rather than full length up to your waist ones.

            Either way this is not the norm nowadays. I normally wear black cotton socks, but on days I need luck I wear stripy socks.

    13. LKW*

      NOPE. Not expected. Professional dress for women has changed significantly in the past 20 years. I know very few women who wear pantyhose at all, even with skirts. I’m talking Sr. Executive level. During the winter some may wear tights, but very few wear pantyhose at all. In fact, pantyhose are viewed as very unfashionable and very behind the times.

      Under pants it makes absolutely no sense unless you’re working in a very cold office and need another layer for warmth and wear tights.

      1. Can't Sit Still*

        You have to look really closely, so it’s a pretty gross thing to do, honestly. (It’s the way the fabric lays on nylon vs bare skin. It’s hard to describe, but it’s recognizable if you’re looking. Closely. Uncomfortably closely. Ick.)

        1. CubicleShroom#1004*

          Now there are panty hose type knee highs, but back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, you just looked at the ankle or top of the foot that wasn’t covered by shoe. I was not allowed to wear socks, so pretty easy to see.

          I had a supervisor who would ask you to pull your pant leg up to see “if you were out of uniform”.

          Good times…NOT.

    14. She who wears pants with trouser socks*

      I’m curious, have you ever asked your mom why this is so important to her? And why “control top” pantyhose?

      She who wears pants with trouser socks

    15. The OG Anonsie*

      This is a Thing from the vein of weird and controlling “proper ladies do all this crazy crap and if you don’t do crazy crap then you’re somehow being lewd and lascivious” workplace advice, which AFAIK emerged during the big moves of women into the workplace as a subtle backlash. My mom had similar Things as she came of age in the thick of that, as did my college major’s career advisor.

      It also might be regional, because my mom is southern but my career advisor was… not, I’m not sure where she was from though. Their advice was similar in level of bizarreness but opposite in spirit. Think “a lady always wears lipstick” vs “makeup is too sexy and is verboten in the workplace.”

    16. JD*

      My grandma still and always has done this. It must be a generational thing. I wear tights, with skirts, just for fashion purposes but you wont get me into a pair of hose to save my life….well, maybe during some bedroom activities ha.

    17. Delphine*

      I would have asked your mom why, if pantyhose under pants are a part of dressing professionally, do we not see men putting pantyhose on under their slacks?

    18. kb*

      I’m pretty sure you can safely put this aside in the “antiquated advice that doesn’t apply” category. Pantyhose, especially those with control areas, prevent jiggling of the butt and thigh, which was simultaneously considered unattractive and too alluring. You have to be looking pretty closely to tell, which apparently people back in the day were. Hopefully nobody is looking that intently today, but if they are, most people would agree that is their problem.

      1. Thlayli*

        Oh! That actually makes sense. Preventing your milkshake from bringing all the boys to the yard may have been quite important back in the day if you wanted to be taken seriously.
        Not really important now though in most places you can have a wobbly bottom and still be taken seriously as a professional.

    19. M is for Mulder*

      Among my many questions, the one that rises to the top is: does this assume that every woman NEEDS control top pantyhose? Because I was quite thin in my twenties and thirties. (I’m not now.)

    20. Not So NewReader*

      Is your mother about 90 years old? Mine would say this and if she were still alive she would be about 90.

      Look around and copy what the people around you are doing. If you see every. single. woman wearing pantyhose under her slacks then copy that. I am betting that you won’t find many if you find anyone at all.

      Her advice worked in her day. Things have changed.

      I haven’t worn pantyhose under slacks in probably 20 years. I hate putting them on, too.

    21. MissDisplaced*

      It’s very OLD SCHOOL.
      I’ve heard of some women doing this though. I think the basic idea is that the panty hose gave one a smooth look under dress slacks and/or provided a lining of sorts under light colored slacks or wool itchy type pants. Could be it was also to have lining for the shoes instead of knee-hi’s?

      While see-though pants or panty lines are still not appropriate, I think more modern alternatives such a Spanks are now the norm. Same goes with high heels! Flats are perfectly proper in most (almost all) workplaces.

  39. DJ*

    Can a dress paired with leggings be business casual? I’m thinking of a dress that would otherwise be considered okay. I *hate* pantyhose, but would like to wear some dresses. And with the weather getting colder, I’d prefer something more substantial that pantyhose.

    Also, any tips for dressing business casual while pregnant would be appreciated!

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I frequently wear tights or leggings under my skirts and dresses and haven’t ever had anyone say anything about it.

    2. Murphy*

      I think leggings are fine.

      I wore a lot of empire waist style blouses and maternity dress pants when I was pregnant. I kept wearing nonmaternity cardigans in the spring, since I didn’t button them anyway. My office is cold, so I only had one maternity dress, but you could easily do that as well.

    3. Tea Fish*

      I think leggings are a little on the casual side, especially if you can see the ankle– but if you’ve got ankle boots or boots in general and they’re not particularly distinguishable from tights/pantyhose, it’s not bad. Also, opaque & all one color block leggings are better than ones with patterns or textures.

      My coworker was pregnant while dressing business casual/conservative, and she was able to pick up a few pairs of pants that have sort of a “yoga top”– very loose, stretchy, comfy, while being pressed and sharp business pants from the hips down. I’m not sure what brand they were, but they definitely exist! Paired with a niceish blouse of any stripe, and she looked very sharp.

    4. Emi.*

      I think leggings *or* tights would be fine, with the caveat that the leggings-socks boundary can look more casual than just tights descending into your shoes. If you’re wearing booties that cover it up, I don’t think it matters, but with pumps I’d stick to fleece tights if your office is more business than casual. (My office is more casual than business, and my pregnant coworker wore leggings with tunics and no one cared.)

      1. Elizabeth H.*

        I agree, curious as to why tights weren’t proposed as an option rather than immediately jumping to leggings. The only reason I would wear leggings rather than tights under a dress would be if the dress were on the edge of being short, or if it wasn’t SO cold and I wanted to wear open toed shoes. I agree leggings under a dress, except in rare circumstances, is a much more casual look than dress/tights.

    5. Rusty Shackelford*

      I hope so, because I do it. Although, I have to say, many dresses that look fine without leggings would look weird with them – have you considered warm tights, maybe even fleece-lined tights?

      I mostly stuck to tunic-length tops and leggings when pregnant, but I had a few dresses. I had a summer baby, so cold temps weren’t an issue.

      1. JD*

        Oh can we talk about fleece lined tights. I so love them. I wish i didn’t live in miserable So Cal where it has been 99 degrees.

        1. DDJ*

          They’re awesome. They’re so comfy it’s like wearing PJs at work, which is a bonus. If not for fleece-lined tights, I wouldn’t be able to wear dresses for most of the winter. But I live in Calgary so they’re not really an uncommon thing here!

    6. strawberries and raspberries*

      Doing it right now. Looks fine. My only caveat is that sometimes Lycra leggings can be a little clingy, so you might find yourself pulling your dress away from yourself as you walk, depending on the fabric.

    7. Specialk9*

      Absolutely dress + leggings is business casual! Especially with boots, which in turn keep you warmer. Ankle boots to calf high to knee high, all good.

      I’m a big fan of Ebay for pregnancy stuff. Super cheap and perfect for that short stretch of time.

      I love wrap dresses and wrap blouses for pregnancy. They can go outward, then cinch back in after the baby, so no special maternity anything needed.

      Another trick – for dressing in general but especially as the baby bump pulls your front hem up – you can layer skirts under dresses for extra coverage and/or a pop of color. Just match the shape – an A line dress would need a flare skirt, a sheath dress would need a pencil skirt.

      I bought one pair of black maternity trousers from Gap that are amazing, and wish I had bought more now that my size has been discontinued. I still wear those pants all the time – super comfy but look so sharp.

  40. Meg*

    So I have a great problem: I work for a company and in an industry that many people are trying to break into, and I’m hiring someone for the first time. While we were initially worried about the depth of our candidate pool, our top four candidates are all really strong — strong enough that I honestly wish I could hire them all! I can’t, of course, and I’m already dreading writing the rejection emails. If you were in the candidates’ shoes, is there anything a hiring manager could tell you that would ease the pain a bit? I honestly thought they were all great and capable of doing this job well and am looking for language that would genuinely convey that. Everyone here always has such great insight, thanks in advance!

    1. Bec*

      Unless you’re going to refer them to a similar job, I doubt you could ease the pain because the end result is the same. If you tell them how great they were they’re likely to hear “you’re good, but not good enough”.

      If you have time to give feedback then that might be useful but it sounds like you don’t really have advice on how they can improve. Maybe suggestions on where else to look, potential openings, or tips on how to break into the industry if not with this particular job?

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I think emphasizing that you happened to have several very strong candidates, and strongly encouraging them to apply to any future openings at your organization, would help get that point across.

    3. Opalescent Tree Shark*

      I’ve had an employer tell me before that if they had had two open positions, they would have definitely hired me, which made me feel good.

      I had a more recent situation where the hiring manager told me that I would have been perfect for the role, but the person who got it has worked for the company longer, which made me want to punch someone. But that was different in that it was an internal position, and I know the person who got the job .

    4. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      I would like to hear that I was a top candidate in a group of very strong candidates. It still stings when you don’t get it, but knowing that the competition was very strong makes it easier for me.

    5. Trout 'Waver*

      If you mean it sincerely, you could ask if you could hold onto their resumes and contact info in case you have future openings.

      1. A.N.O.N.*

        “We had a particularly strong pool of candidates and unfortunately we will not be able to offer you the position. However, we all thought you were great and I strongly encourage you to reach out to me directly if/when a similar position opens up.” Or, if you’re willing, let them know you’ll reach out to them if/when a similar position opens up. But only if you really think you would do that.

        1. Drew*

          I’ve sent something similar in the past. “We received a number of applications and yours was one of the best. Choosing among several equally qualified candidates was extremely difficult, and I am sorry to say that you were not selected. I plan to retain your resume and hope that you will allow me to contact you if a similar position should open up in the future.”

    6. The New Wanderer*

      I just got a rejection email that was personal to me (vs. canned) and it amounted to “You impressed us but we’re looking for more X experience for this specific role. We’d like to keep you in mind for possible future positions. Best of luck!”

      I felt it was just the right tone, but I did know it was a stretch (because I don’t have direct X experience, just transferable skills) so it didn’t hurt much in general. I also have seen the past comments that some people will argue if you give them a reason like “more X experience” but it was helpful to me to have that specificity, if only because I agreed with that rationale.

      I agree with the suggestions to mention that all the finalists were excellent candidates.

  41. shep*

    When an internal candidate applies for an opening, but you know they’re totally unsuited to the position, what’s the etiquette for handling said applicant? I’ve heard internal applicants at many workplaces are usually granted interviews as a courtesy, but what’s your experience?

    This is likely something that’s going to unfold at my partner’s workplace. It’s a very small company, and one person in particular is probably going to apply for the new opening. This person has had several performance and interpersonal/insubordination issues crop up, but likely feels entitled to the position because she already works in the office, and it would be a slight pay increase. I think giving her an interview would make sense if she just had a few performance issues, but some of the behavior she’s shown in the office is too combative and disruptive to warrant even that, I think. I feel like it would essentially be rewarding bad behavior, i.e., “you can act like this and still be at least nominally considered for a promotion”.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Does the company require that applicants disclose to their current managers that they’re applying for an internal transfer before they do it? If so, the employee’s manager should tell her, “You’re welcome to apply, but I’m going to have to be honest with Fergus Hiringmanager about X, Y, and Z issues you’re working on.”

      And then let the hiring manager make the call on whether she wants to bother interviewing this person. I wouldn’t!

    2. Murphy*

      I think courtesy interviews waste people’s time. But with an internal candidate, it might be nice to talk to them and let them know why they’re not getting an interview/what they could do to be considered in the future.

    3. fposte*

      I generally don’t worry about the moral hazard component; an interview isn’t a reward. However, it sounds to me like this person should have been terminated already, so I’m wondering what her manager is up to. Certainly if she applies the manager needs to be ready to have a direct conversation with her about why her performance not only doesn’t make her candidate for promotion, it’s actively endangering her job. This isn’t a boilerplate rejection situation.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      I feel like it would essentially be rewarding bad behavior, i.e., “you can act like this and still be at least nominally considered for a promotion”.

      Conversely, it could also say “We value our current employees, and if you apply for a job that you’re qualified for, you will, at a minimum, get an interview.” Which I don’t think is a bad thing to say, especially since it’s likely to be followed with “but if you aren’t qualified, or if you behave badly, you’re not getting the job.”

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      I think the appropriate thing to do would be for the hiring manager to have a private talk with the applicant and tell her that they’re considering other candidates for the position. If she were a great worker otherwise but just not well-suited for this position, I’d probably worry about couching it diplomatically or trying to give her other ways to grow professionally, but if she already has several performance issues, including insubordination, the best-case scenario would be her getting frustrated at not even being considered for the position, and then quitting.

    6. Dotty*

      I had this crop up a few months back – a guy from another team applied to a higher role in my team. Normally we always interview internal candidates but I knew this guy would be a ‘no’ because of interpersonal and performance issues in his current job. I didn’t grant him an interview but I did set up a meeting – I thanked him for his application but told him that I couldn’t progress it while he still needed to prove himself in his existing role – I gave him some feedback about what I’d be looking for in the future that he could take or leave but I didn’t waste his time (or mine) with a courtesy interview

    7. Morning Glory*

      From the other side of this, I had applied for a 3-month secondment in another department through a specific program via HR. After a month of silence, the hiring managers asked to ‘get coffee and chat’ – during the chat they told me they were under the impression I was not eligible for the secondment* but still wanted to talk to me in vague terms about my interests and my qualifications, as they would in a courtesy interview.

      I would have much preferred an email letting me know I did not get it. No need to talk about my interests no need to pull me away from my work on a busy day – just a short note letting me know. A courtesy interview feels like a nice gesture, but it’s really an unkind thing to do.

      *This was incorrect. I’d noted the program and HR’s approval in my initial application email, and cover letter. I also clarified this in the meeting, and it appeared to make zero difference to them.

    8. Opalescent Tree Shark*

      I don’t think they should be granted an interview. I recently applied for two internal positions that were both a step up (one in my department and one outside of my department). I was actually super concerned that my interview or the one in my department was just a courtesy interview. I didn’t want to waste my time and energy if I wasn’t actually going to be seriously considered. I ended up talking to the hiring manager about it (who used to be my direct manager and who I have a strong report with), and she assured me that it wasn’t a courtesy. My anxiety stemmed not from performance issues though, it came form being the youngest person they are interviewing and impostor syndrome.

      But my point is, as an applicant, I think it is far kinder to be upfront with people that to waste their time with a courtesy interview.

    9. Princess Carolyn*

      Ideally, her manager or some other appropriate person would explain that they’re declining to interview her because of performance issues A, B, and C. If they would consider hiring her for an internal position in the future when she’s resolved those issues, that would be a helpful thing to share. If they really don’t see her advancing in this company because of A, B, and C, it would be a kindness to tell her that, too.

      Interviewing her as a courtesy sends the wrong message, but declining to interview her without any explanation doesn’t send the right message either. A lot of people (and especially the kind of person you might describe as “entitled”) will interpret the snub as office politics or an issue of qualifications; it’s unlikely she’d attribute it to her performance issues.

  42. DaniCalifornia*

    My awesome job has turned toxic over the last year, and now it is *literally* toxic. We recently had a rat issue in our AC/attic vents. We caught another dead one and it smelled bad so pest control came out to remove it. He mentioned that we had birds in the attic and that’s how the rats were getting in. He also said there is bird poop all over the attic, insulation, vents, etc and we are breathing that in when the AC kicks on. My boss is denying we have a bird problem and said we didn’t have one until we had a rat problem. The birds have been nesting in our historic building ever since I came here. The city has even mentioned to us before that it’s a problem and we could be cited. My boss just doesn’t want to spend the money. I just thought my allergies were worse since I work in a building over 125 years old.

    I thought I was done with this job before but now I truly am.

    1. DaniCalifornia*

      Also, anyone aware of OSHA laws or have any suggestions where to go from here. I work in TX. I am thinking of looking up city laws first and reaching out anonymously to them. We are a small office (10 or less employees)

      1. Grits McGee*

        Not an expert, but starting at the city level is probably your best bet. They’ll be the most knowledgeable about the regulations in your particular area (esp if there are exceptions for historic buildings), and may be more responsive than enforcement at the state or federal level.

        1. LCL*

          Yeah, start with whatever city agency said it was a problem and that there could be citations involved. And if your boss is that cheap, realize he may try to assign you all to clean it up. There are companies that specialize in this kind of cleanup, don’t let him pass it off to you.

        2. Anon Accountant*

          I’d start with the city too. And right after that OSHA.

          I’d think there’s be certain “protocol” for cleanup of the birds and rats. Such as specific procedures and requirements for ventilation replacements or such.

          And how horrifying and gross.

          1. Artemesia*

            This is a huge risk for toxoplasmosis and other bird borne disease that can be pretty serious. Needs to be taken care of for everyone’s health.

          2. DaniCalifornia*

            There is no way in hell I would clean that up. We manage a commercial property that had a pigeon problem and it is extremely toxic not to mention expensive to clean it up ($4K!!)

            1. TL -*

              In terms of business and building management, $4K really isn’t that much money, even in TX. Especially for a commercial property. If your boss/business is balking at numbers like that, I’m not sure their expectations are realistic, which could impact how they handle the rat/bird situation.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      He mentioned that we had birds in the attic and that’s how the rats were getting in.

      I’m picturing the birds physically bringing the rats and now I’m kind of horrified.

      1. DaniCalifornia*

        Lol thank you for that. I think I’ve yelled and cried about this job 10 times this week (in private) but not much laughter has been had. Esp since my awesome coworker is leaving. But this made me laugh at my desk.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          Just bring in some snakes to take care of the rats.

          Then a mongoose to take care of the snakes.

          I have no idea how to handle a mongoose infestation, though.

  43. Lalaith*

    I’d like to hear from my fellow web developers out there. I’m currently job hunting, and there are a few things I’ve been asked by recruiters/hiring people that I’m not sure what to do with.

    1) Some of them ask me what industry I prefer to work in. I guess I don’t have enough experience to answer this, because I don’t know why it should matter. Are there big differences in the type of work a web dev does between industries?

    2) Some have asked me for a portfolio. Is it common for developers to have a portfolio? I can understand a designer having one, but I just don’t know how to convey my work on development projects in that way.

    1. Michaela*

      Re: 2. yes, it’s very common. If your stuff is on GitHub or Bitbucket, a link to that might suffice; but having a portfolio repo is a good idea — code samples, the comps you were given (Sketch or psd files, the style guide, whatever), whatever you legally can show people.

      1. Lalaith*

        I don’t have any of that any more, though – I was laid off at the end of July, and we had an internal code repository. I honestly never thought this was something I’d need for projects completed for my employer (and I don’t know what they would allow to be shared outside the company).

        1. Michaela*

          Do you have anything from open-source work, your own playing with tools, a college class? Because it is totally normal for people to want to see your code; a lot of places will put you through a code challenge but will also request samples so they know what you do in a production environment.

    2. Specialk9*

      My husband made an online portfolio. He made some code that pulled publicly available information and mapped it in a way that is useful. It explained which tools and methods he used. He did it specifically for job hunting, to show his skillset.

  44. Audiophile*

    There are a ton of changes happening in my department and I’m pretty unsettled by it all.

    We had two new people start this week and their arrival was announced just one day before.

    In a week, our department head is leaving. The search hasn’t really started to replace this person.

    Potentially, there may be another staffing addition in the near future, who I may eventually report to.

    I’m trying to go with the flow but unsure of how stable my job may be after all. The company itself is stable though, which is good.

    I will say, if things do not work out, I am confident I can get a really good reference from this job and not a lukewarm one like with previous places.

    1. Mallows*

      I’d be edgy too. Our CEO is retiring early this year after a major operations change and I think a lot of people are trying to decide how much to read into it.
      Glad you can unquestionably get a good reference though!

  45. SophieChotek*

    I have been re-reading the old letters about references.
    So in many ways, most of the work that makes me most qualified for jobs for which I am currently seeking, is my current job. (But for obvious reasons I do not want to put my current supervisor as my reference.) But my remaining references mostly know me from a) really old jobs 7-10 years ago or b) jobs that are not particularly aligned with jobs I am applying for (like my manager at the coffee shop where I pick up the odd shift but I am applying to be the assistant administration coordinator or the assistant donor program associate)…

    Any suggestions? Or will employers understand that?

    1. Jimbo*

      Do you have references from your current job that are not your supervisor? I’ve used former colleagues (usually more senior folks outside my immediate department who know my work) as references even though they did not supervise me in cases when I could not give my direct supervisor as the reference. Another idea is if you had done volunteer work or belong to a networking/professional organization or association of peers in your field for a number of years. Perhaps senior folks in that group who know you well and can speak to your knowledge and experience in the field might be good sources of references.

  46. Potatoe*

    My current company was recently acquired by another company– my old boss was retiring. Though it’s meant learning a bunch of new processes, rules, and programs, I’m happy to still be here and happy to still have a job doing mostly the same stuff. The leadership at the new company seems pretty solid.

    The thing is, my old boss and his partner, who was the office manager, deliberately collected a bunch of money from clients right before the merger, sticking the new company with a load of work and no payment for that work. Understandably, a lot of the clients were upset by this, and some of them voided checks and reversed credit card charges as a result, which also upset my old boss & his partner, because they felt very much entitled to that money. They’ve been reaching out to me, asking me to contact those clients and ask them to un-reverse charges, send new checks, and also to collect payment due from old bills. To a point, I’ve assisted them, especially if it was legitimately related to ongoing cases, while we were right in the middle of the whole merger business, but it’s been a few months now and I…. don’t want to call up clients anymore to request money on behalf of my old boss, who did something fairly crappy to them. I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t sit too well with my new bosses either.

    But on the other hand these are the people who will be providing my references for my last few years of work, and they’ve been alternating promising/denying an overdue bonus check that was supposed to come in a few months back. I don’t want to piss them of either, and if at all possible, I’d love to be able to persuade them to send over my bonus. Any recommendations, advice, scripts for gently turning down requests to make more calls, etc. would be welcome.

    1. WellRed*

      I don’t know that I have advice, but you are contacting the clients for your old boss who did something kinda…shady? If they didn’t deliver the work, why do they have the right to any money? And your new bosses don’t know you are doing this? Is your old boss retired? It’s been several months of this? I feel like if I were one of your new bosses and knew you were contacting the (my now) clients on behalf of old boss especially for money, this would not make me happy. Like, firing level not happy. Also, I think you can kiss that bonus goodbye. What incentive to pay it do they have now? Alison has had many letter writers ask how to gracefully stop doing work for their old companies. Something along the lines of, “I am sorry, I am no longer able to help with that.”

      1. Potatoe*

        It’s kind of complicated but basically my old boss felt that under the terms he negotiated in the merger, he’d get to keep everything he could collect prior to the Official Merge, whether or not he’d done the work, and the new company would just pick it all up where he left off. (I believe in his mind, anything he wasn’t able to cajole the clients into paying immediately would be going to the new firm, so it “”evened out.””) New boss isn’t thrilled about this, but ultimately didn’t want to kick up a fuss since this in theory is a amiable handover and old boss is dying of a terminal illness.

        You’re right though, in that the more I type the shadier it sounds. So far I’ve only done it for matters where this whole arrangement was agreed upon by old and new bosses (“Alright, I guess that money will go to old boss and we’ll eat the costs and get it done.”) so I’ve considered it part of finalizing things for the merger, but we’re a bit past that point now and it probably will be best just to extricate myself.

    2. Specialk9*

      You need to run this situation past the new management, not the old. That’s how mergers work. This sounds shady bordering on illegal. You do not want to be the one holding the bag on this one. You can do it innocently, asking advice for how to do one specific thing, but telling them the relevant other stuff, particularly that X instructed you to do these actions.

    3. Bagpuss*

      I think you need to speak to new boss. Show them the e-mails or messages you’re getting and ask them how they would like you to proceed.

      It seems a really weird way to do things – I would normally expect the new company to do all of the work and take any payment, and that the company might then make a further payment to Old Boss if one was due under the terms of the merger.

      In terms of references, wouldn’t New Boss be the person doing that, if/when you move on?>

      So far as the bonus is concerned, I think you can treat that as a totally separate issue and remind Old Boss about his promises, but unless you have something in writing I’d be surprised if you get it.

  47. Felicity*

    My position recently shifted to being mainly communications focused. I have *some* experience/background in this area but I’m finding it stressful given the audience and impact of the work I’m doing. I definitely have some imposter syndrome. Also social media really stresses me out given how many stories there are about tweets blowing up into a sh*t storm.

    Any tips or resources would be much appreciated around the following:

    – managing social media accounts
    – social media metrics and goal setting
    – growing social media accounts
    – writing publications like annual reports
    – writing and ghost writing op-eds and other pieces for press
    – pitching stories/articles
    – writing for web
    – how to build strong websites in terms of user experience

    Writing that out makes me realize how much I’m really doing now in comms work!!

    1. Meg*

      Buffer is a social media management company (that I’m not affiliated with at all, just to clarify), but they also do a lot of content marketing on their blog (Google “Buffer blog”) that has tons of helpful social media tips about building and engaging with your audience. I believe they have a podcast, as well. Good luck!

    2. J.*

      HubSpot also has a great marketing blog with tips and advice about pretty much everything you’ve listed here. Good luck!

    3. SophieChotek*

      Spin Sucks is a blog I follow that discusses many of these topics, as does Social Media Marketer

    4. Jimbo*

      Hi there I am a web and comms guy as well! You didn’t mention what sector you worked in but in my field (nonprofits) there are a lot of online communities devoted to tactics, strategies, knowledge sharing, for web, social media and digital communications. Here is one of my favorites: another I would recommend is

    5. Felicity*

      Thank you all! This is really helpful- couldn’t say what industry without outing myself on here. Really appreciate everyone’s thoughts!

  48. Database Geek*

    Another week of job searching has come and gone… Had an interview yesterday (but they’re at the beginning of their search so who knows) and then finally heard back from one place I had had a second interview with saying they were going with someone else. I would like a job please! I suppose I should at least be grateful that I’m getting phone screens and interviews – so one of these someone is going to say yes, right?

    1. Jimbo*

      I hear you! I am on the same boat and my recent experiences with a good number of phone screens, 2nd interviews only to not get the job is similar to what you described. My savings is slowly shrinking and I could use a job soon!

  49. Librarian Ish*

    What do you do when someone does something kind of sketchy, but the person who they did it to doesn’t want to make waves?

    We’ve been moving offices this week, so there’s been a ton of activity getting desks rearranged, bookcases moved, etc. Although we streamlined it as much as possible, moving all the furniture fell on our maintenance. It was a lot all at once, but definitely within the realm of normal requests.

    One person was pretty grumbly about it, but I figured it was the usual complaining about your job and even though it was a little uncomfortable for me, I felt pretty comfortable making jokes but still getting the furniture moved.

    One person in particular though made a coworker really uncomfortable. She was asking for a particular table to be moved in there – she’s got some medical concerns so she needed a table at a particular height. When she tried to explain this to the person he “jokingly” said “I don’t need you to hear what I’m going to say to her”, and “pretended” to get the other movers to leave the room and started to shut the door.

    She relayed this to me the next day and I expressed that I was horrified by it and that she should consider talking to our dean. I told her that this guy has a habit of crossing boundaries a little bit (putting his hand on your back without asking permission, for example) but that “joke” went way too far and that she has a right to be upset by it. She shrugged it off and I don’t think she’s going to tell anyone else.

    What’s my responsibility here? I don’t want to violate her privacy by talking with the dean, but I don’t know how else I can point out this guy’s problematic behavior without someone knowing that story.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I think you should respect her choice, but you can also encourage her to document anything else that happens, in case she does later want to come forward and say something officially.

    2. Specialk9*

      Wait so what happened? She needed furniture and he got the movers to leave without helping her? Or he shut *himself* in with her after saying he was going to be inappropriate?

      And yeah, I know EXACTLY that person (in my experience a guy, but humans will human) who creeps on people but hides behind ‘joking’. That person is testing the waters for getting away with worse. Ignoring that kind of creep emboldens them.

      1. Librarian Ish*

        He acted like he was going to shut himself in with her, by making the comment that he didn’t want the movers hearing what he was going to say to her in there and pushing the movers out/starting to shut the door.

        1. Thlayli*

          I still don’t understand. Was the problem that he refused to give her the table? Or was the problem that he made remarks that he thinks of as flirty/funny and you think of as harassment?
          If it’s the former then offer to help your colleague with acquiring the desk she needs, and advise her she can report him for refusing to do his job.
          If it’s the latter then it’s not your opinion that matters it’s hers. You may have been horrified and offended if he said something like that to you, but that doesn’t mean everyone has to feel the same way. If someone say that to me I’d probably laugh and make a joke back. if your colleague is not upset by it then she’s not obligated to report it. If she was upset but is afraid to report it then offer to help her report it. It’s how SHE feels about it that’s important, not his you think she should feel.

  50. PM-NYC*

    Bit of a job search vent with a couple questions.

    So the job search continues. I’m getting increasingly dejected over the fact that I’ve had pretty much zero positive response from jobs I’ve applied to. I had one temp agency get back to me with what turned out to be a part time job with an hourly rate so low I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills.

    Following Alison’s advice that if you’re not getting any responses it’s because of your materials, I’m trying to tweak my cover letters and possibly my resume. I went to a free resume/cover letter critique service, but he gave me a lot of advice which is pretty much the opposite of what I’ve heard here. He talked about keywords, and thinks I should add both a summary section, and a core skills section to the top of my resume, so that hiring managers can quickly scan it rather than have to read the whole resume. I’m pretty sure that is terrible advice right?

    I’m open to editing my resume, it’s just frustrating when you’re looking for a position in a field that apparently the average resume critique person doesn’t have a good grasp of (or maybe that’s uncharitable of me, it just seemed like he didn’t really know what I was aiming for.)

    Alison, I know you talked about maybe opening up a round of resume critiques in the near future, any chance that’s still a possibility?

    Any other advice from folks here is welcome, I’m just really frustrated and finding it really hard to stay positive each day.

    1. shep*

      The critique suggestions do seem to go opposite the grain of the advice Alison gives. I’m also so sorry you’re going through this rough patch with job searching. I had a similar search a few years ago that was largely fruitless.

      I don’t know if this is helpful at all, but in hindsight, I see why I had trouble. There were some things I couldn’t control, and some things I could’ve done differently (but it was brutal, regardless):

      -Poor job market (beyond my control)
      -Very new to workforce (beyond my control)
      -Recently graduated with my master’s degree (should’ve taken it off of my resume for most applications)
      -Applying for jobs in my field that typically have [unpaid and unspoken] internship pre-requisites (should’ve applied sparingly/not expected results)
      -Applying for highly competitive jobs only slightly related to my field (should’ve applied sparingly/not expected results)
      -Applying for hourly jobs at chain coffee shops, etc., as a last-ditch effort to at least supplement my income (should’ve left one or both my degrees off my resume)
      -Registering with temp agencies/recruiters poorly suited to my skills/field (should’ve not bothered and/or not relied on results so heavily; couldn’t find temp agencies/recruiters that focused on my skills)

      I wish I’d been more proactive about trying to find positions that fit my qualifications that weren’t so (1) inaccessible because I couldn’t afford to intern, or (2) required a ton of industry experience already. I’m still honestly kind of at a loss as to how I could’ve honed that search, but I think I’d be slightly more savvy at finding those ways now.

      Again, this is probably not that helpful, but I totally commiserate, and I wish you the best of luck. It will get better.

      1. PM-NYC*

        Thanks, I’ll have to think about what things I can do differently. I think one of my issues is that when I did a cross country move two years ago I had a ridiculously easy job search, so I think this time around I came in with rose-colored glasses. I really need to let go of the idea that just because it was easy last time doesn’t mean it’ll be easy this time around.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There’s nothing wrong with a summary section but he sounds generally bad — free resume critique services usually are.

      I’m not sure yet re: an upcoming resume review offer. If I do it, I’ll announce here ahead of time so people have advance notice!

  51. BookCocoon*

    So I thought my new supervisor was a little insecure because from the moment she arrived (this is 8 months ago now) she’s seemed threatened by me in a weird way, like anytime I tried to help her out by giving her information about the organization she would immediately and aggressively disagree with me. She also refuses to admit when something is her fault and is hesitant to seek out information that would make her look like she doesn’t know what’s going on, so instead she is just always ordering me to do things that I’m already doing. I checked in periodically with our director (her supervisor) to get advice and be like, “This is just weird and you should know about it.” Anyway this all culminated in having to sit down with our director and do a mediation between us, which included her giving me 10 minutes of feedback about things she has never mentioned ever. (She is my SUPERVISOR and has never given me ANY feedback.) I thought I was going to feel attacked and defensive but hearing things from her perspective makes me realize just how genuinely screwed up she is and I feel really sad for her. Like she must have serious, serious self-esteem issues and insecurity. She talked about situations where she told me to do something and I said, in genuine confusion, “Oh, I actually already do that. Was there something I should be doing differently?” except in her version I cut her off and said, “I already do that” in a tone like she was a complete moron. I also quoted her things she had said to me and she did NOT believe me that she’d ever said them even though some of them were literally written down in emails. We’re supposed to be each coming up with an action plan for what we will do differently and I’m struggling with how to even put it together because her version of what I should do is like “Don’t make fun of her” even though I’ve never made fun of her ever. So I’m trying to write things like “Speak in a kind and patient way.” It honestly just makes feel sad that the inside of her head is such a scary place for her that it’s twisting things said in a neutral or friendly way into a cruel and mocking tone in which I apparently convey what an idiot she is.

    I was already looking for a new job, but this just confirmed that things aren’t going to get better unless she gets some serious therapy.

    1. Mandy*

      I don’t know if this applies in particular to Supervisor, but I run into this with some friends of mine who have various degrees of depression and social anxiety, I sometimes don’t know how to handle the cognitive distortion that comes along with it. It can make interacting with them difficult sometimes.

      1. TL -*

        You can’t do this with bosses but with my friends, I say, “That may be what you heard, but that is not what I said. I said X and I meant X,” and then I basically respond to anything with, “Okay, but I said X and I meant X,” and a subject change. I feel I very much have the right to be annoyed when someone is constantly attributing words or intentions to me that I never had; it’s really insulting to me, honestly, especially since I’m a direct person and people generally know where they stand with me.

        A misunderstanding gets an apology (sometimes I come off wrong or misunderstand something!) but someone saying, “You didn’t want to go to the movies with me so you clearly hate my taste in movies/hate me!” gets the above response.

    2. Rookie Manager*

      I had a manager like this, hate to be the bearer of bad news but ultimately the solution was to quit. One complaint she had was that when we had a long email convo I would reduce the greeting/closing in later emails and that was really sharp and rude. So Every. Single. Email. had to start ‘Hi Manager’ and end ‘Kind regards RM’. Yet she told me with glee once how she used to say stuff to her b-i-l that the words were kind but the tone was evil. She hid applications for training/pay reviews for me, lied about me to other team member and accussed me of bullying her.

      In the end I quit to fix my mental health. My advice till you escape is back up every thing by email, be ridiculously polite, never make jokes, try to avoid private conversations, always make your own notes in 121s etc. Good luck and sorry you’re going through this.

      1. Windchime*

        Yeah, quitting was my solution too. The boss I worked for was very psychologically twisted or something. She would target someone for elimination and from that point on, there was nothing her victim could do. It was horrifying to watch, and even more horrifying when I became the subject of her focus. The last straw was when she wrote a numbered list of items for me to do and said that #1 was the top priority (makes sense, yes?). The timeline was tight but I got it done with hours to spare. She then claimed that #1 was never the top priority; why on earth would I think it *was*? (Um, maybe because it was at the top of a list with a “#1” by it and you said it was?)

        There is no way to win against that, especially when upper management turns a blind eye. Leaving was very scary but it was the best decision ever. For me; YMMV.

  52. Meyla*

    If everyone else at your company is jumping ship, is that a sign that you should too?
    My company has struggled since our acquisition by 3-letter-Fortune-1oo-company less than 2 years ago. My team was 29 people at the beginning of this year, and as of Monday we will be down to 15 (9 layoffs, 5 quits). We are so stressed working 10 hour days during the week and 5 hour days on weekends. Perks we had last year have been cut this year. My pre-acquisition coworkers hate the changes that parent company put in place and I know they’re all looking for new jobs. The tension between execs is practically tangible. That being said, my coworkers are much more upset over it than I am. I came onto the team a month after the acquisition, so it’s been kinda crazy the whole time I’ve been here. I don’t love the situation, but it’s better than my last job so maybe I’m a little jaded. If everyone else is jumping ship, should I be doing so also? Am I crazy for wanting to ride it out a bit longer before making a decision? I almost see this as an opportunity for me become more senior and valuable…

    I’m also a little biased because I HATE interviewing and meeting new people and learning new company cultures, and I’d like to avoid that process for as long as possible. I feel like I got very lucky with this job because I enjoy my coworkers and I fit in very well. I don’t think I’d find as good of a culture fit again.

    1. JN*

      Only you can judge whether or not to stick it out at this company or follow the lead of these coworkers you like and look for a new job. Yes, it could be a red-flag type of situation that so many people who have been working there for (apparently) quite some time have started jumping ship in the past couple years. Clearly they’re comparing the company post-acquisition to what it was pre-acquisition and are deciding that they don’t like where things are going with the loss of benefits, long hours, changes, etc. So it could just be that the new company culture doesn’t suit these longtime employees, but does suit you. In that case, staying put would make sense. But it could also be that this company really is messed up and your past toxic job might not be letting you see clearly just how bad things are or could become at this new company because, as you said “it’s better than my last job”. Which doesn’t mean that things here are good. Just not as bad as what you came out of.

      If it were me (and I’m also someone who hates the job search/interview process), having a team of 15 people trying to do the work that it used to take 30 people to do, working 10 hour days (~60 hours a week?), plus losing benefits/perks…heck, yeah, I’d be full-speed looking for a new job. But that’s me, not you.

    2. Stellaaaaa*

      What are your thoughts on the parent company? To be honest, I’d say that things at your current business don’t look good. But do you have a goal of being absorbed into the larger corporation and being dropped somewhere new eventually? If not, I’d start looking for something new. Your current position doesn’t seem stable.

  53. Lolly Scrambler*

    Posting to say I got a job offer this week and thanks everyone on here for advice and Alison for her book which helped so much. If anyone is really, really struggling with nerves I recommend not only the book but beta blockers (in consultation with your doctor). I had had 20 interviews before getting a prescription but only a few afterwards as I could finally think clearly and not panic at every question I hadn’t prepared for although I had also prepared for a lot of questions. I thought I would never get a job but now that I have I hope everyone else who thinks it is hopeless can take some hope.

    1. LO*

      I suffered from this very same problem. I was such a wreck going into interviews, I would physically shake and stammer at questions. I finally took some natural meds to help me relax and have been doing much better.

      It took me so long to realize that my anxiety was getting in my way and I wish I had thought about this so much sooner!

      1. Lolly Scrambler*

        Glad you solved it in the end! I wish someone had told me there were solutions for the anxiety too.

    2. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      So interesting to hear about the beta blockers! I want to ask my doctor about them for anxiety related sweating which also happens during work presentations or meetings with new people. Did you bring this up with your doctor yourself or did they recommend them? I want to ask but I don’t know if it’s weird to show up at the doctor looking to try a specific group of medication.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Not weird. I used beta blockers for stage fright. I spoke to my doctor and told her that my psychologist had recommended them. You can always say to your doctor that you get stage fright during presentations and you’re interested in trying beta blockers. Your doc might disagree, but it’s not a weird conversation to have.

      2. Lolly Scrambler*

        I mentioned it to my doctor after a friend tried them. I wouldn’t normally ask to try a specific medication but using AvonLady Barksdale’s wording should help make it less weird.

  54. PieInTheBlueSky*

    Have you ever had someone join your organization whose previous workplace was a toxic environment? Did they have patterns of behavior or thinking that they picked up from the toxic workplace that did not fit in your (non toxic) organization? Maybe they adopted these habits because it was the only way they could survive, or maybe they thought that’s how all workplaces were like.

    Was this person able to adapt to your organization and unlearn these habits? How long did it take?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I actually joined my current organization after leaving a toxic one. I was at the toxic place for only a short time, though, so I don’t think their toxic ways seeped into my work approaches. If you’re encountering someone who’s still suffering from PTSD or just carrying on ways from habit, I think it’s okay to point it out to them explicitly and say “You don’t have to do it that way. Try this.”

    2. AndersonDarling*

      The key is if they know they came from a toxic workplace. If they know it was a toxic workplace then they are probably grateful to get out and start fresh. If they don’t recognize it was toxic, then they are probably just a jerk to the core and will stay that way.

    3. Kate*

      Me! Me!

      I came from an extremely toxic workplace to my current one.

      One of the things I did early on was speak to my boss and (close) colleagues and said something to the effect of “I’m coming g from a very toxic workplace and sometimes my Norma might be messed up. If you see me reacting weirdly to something you’ve asked of me, could you raise it with me first? I might need to recalibrate.”

      Obviously that won’t work in every office, but it worked well in mine. And for the most part, I haven’t had huge flare ups of bad workplace behaviour- minus my obvious anxiety over my first performance review since toxic workplace. I’m still cringing a bit over that.

    4. Safe Now*

      That’s me, too – a LONG stretch at a toxic place, and now about six months into a healthy organization. I definitely have some mixed up behavior and thinking that I’m still working through. My boss knows, and she helps by naming the behavior and the thinking when she sees it. She’s also diligent about being neutral and calm with me on all feedback so that it doesn’t feel like the toxic behavior I dealt with for so long.
      I’ve made good progress, and I’m starting to feel something closer to healthy. Be patient, be kind. Where possible, explain how things *do* work in your organization so that it’s easier for the person to see that it’s safe.

    5. clow*

      Yep, I came from an extremely toxic workplace. It was so toxic that during my interview, the supervisor told me he doesn’t need to know why I am leaving, he has heard too many horror stories about the place. I did normalize being afraid and anxious all the time, it hasn’t completely gone, but general reassurance from my manager helps. My understanding is that the amount of time it takes to get over a toxic place and stop relying on survival methods depends a lot on how long you were in the toxic place.

    6. TL -*

      Ugh, I worked in a toxic place where the boss had left a department because of its toxicity but had done nothing in his new department to squash toxicity, so a lot of the behaviours came over.

      but after I left, it took a couple of months to recalibrate. But I was in a really wonderful workplace and I kept on noting all the positive things in my head, which helped.

    7. Writelhd*

      I have a co-worker who worked under me in a training rotation and told me stuff about his old workplace that sounded really toxic. He got promoted to a permanent position after the training rotation because one opened up and he does show a lot of promise. His new position involves feeling a lot of squeeze between competing interests and sometimes departments, not to the level of unhealthy or toxic, but my role feels that squeeze too so I get it. I have noticed he says a lot of “I’m not trying to…(offend, upset, accuse, insert similar word) you” as a preface to things he doesn’t need to because a) the thing is not offensive or hurtful or accusatory and b) the people he’s saying it too aren’t acting like it is. So I have made the connection it might come from a past workplace culture. I’m not his boss anymore but I still work closely with him so I will try to say something to him about it next time it happens.

  55. Former Student*

    After a lot of soul searching, I realized I wanted to pursue medicine. Unfortunately, I need to go back to school to get the prerequisites and have been applying to programs. One of my former professors has written recommendations for me and I really want to thank her as she has written about 10 recommendations. I have been out of school for three years and when I was a student she really advocated for me to win a departmental honor. Any thoughts? Ideas?

    1. Blue Anne*

      Personally, I would hand write a very nice thank you note.

      My mom, who is a recovering academic, would probably send a coffee sampler along with the nice thank you note. :)

    2. Emi.*

      Write her a nice, sincere, thorough letter expressing your gratitude, and then keep in touch when you’re in school so she can see all the places you’ll go!

      1. JaneB*

        Yeah, as an academic who writes a LOT of references for students, I would LOVE to hear from them every year or so about how they’re doing… sometimes I meet one at a conference in our field and they remember me and it totally makes my week to feel I contributed to their life positively


    There is a temp job that I’ve been up for through various placement agencies. Same company, same role. I got an email from a recruiter on Wednesday about it and I replied as soon as I saw. Then left a phone message and a follow up email (yesterday). Haven’t heard back at all. Very frustrated, as this is the third time I’ve been sent info about this opening.

    1. Jules the First*

      If one placement agency has already put you up for it, the others are wasting their time if they put you up for it as well. Accept that this job is not coming to you and move on. (Sorry, that sounds harsh, but I know how hard it is to be super excited about something and not have the employer feel the same way)

    2. Bananka*

      In my industry, it is a big no-no to apply for the same job through multiple recruiters. Once you apply through a recruiter, they would pass your resume along to the company and if you don’t hear back, it means they are not interested. If another recruiter reaches out to you about the same position, you can only let them know you already applied through someone else. Otherwise multiple recruiters will end up sending the same candidate’s resume to the company and it is not a good look for the candidate at all. Not sure if that’s the case with your applications, but sometimes you just never hear back.

      1. Bananka*

        Just wanted to add that recruiters work independently and don’t know the candidates that are coming from other recruiters. When they reach out about a job, it means they think you would be a good fit and have no idea if you applied before unless you tell them. It makes them look bad too, because the company can potentially say why are you sending me this resume that we already looked at.

  57. How to adult*

    You are all such a amazing lovely community! I’m wondering if folks would be comfortable sharing some of their weekly routines?

    This is work-related as I feel like work takes up my whole life even though I work regular hours … I can’t figure out how to stay on top of other things in my life. I seem to manage doing one thing well outside of work, but how do I expand that? For example if I am exercising my house is a disaster. If I’m doing well with cooking then I’m not exercising. If I’m spending time on my hobbies then I’m not eating well. …

    What does a typical day/week look like for you in terms of scheduling life and work?

    1. Jaydee*

      I have finally sort of accepted this and follow two principles: rotation and “good enough.”

      Rotation: last week I didn’t exercise and ate terribly, but I got plenty of sleep and the house is really clean; this week I am focusing on eating better and exercising more, but the sink is full of dishes and there is an entire small dog worth of fur balls rolling across the living room floor.

      Good enough: Ideally I would exercise for 30-60 minutes 5 times a week, but it’s good enough if I go for a 15-20 minute walk at lunch a couple times. Ideally I would complete a whole list of chores every week so the house is always clean. It’s good enough if the dishwasher gets loaded and run most mornings before work, the bed gets made, laundry is put away before it gets wrinkled, and I vacuum often enough to avoid major tumbleweeds.

    2. Princess Carolyn*

      Well, you may never strike a perfect balance, so my first tip is to accept that you’ll always be doing better in some areas than in others.

      That said, I rely a lot on scheduling time for stuff. On Saturday mornings, I block out an hour to work on my side projects. Thursdays, I block out time for the gym (also, lunch hour workouts are a great idea if you can make it work). As I type this, I’m realizing I should probably block out time this weekend to clean my house. The calendar prompts usually motivate me enough to at least do some of the stuff I’m supposed to be doing.

      I also block off time each week to plan for the next week: When will I buy groceries (also, consider ordering groceries for pick-up to save time)? When will I work out? When will I do laundry? I look for opportunities to double up on things, like “Do laundry while watching the game Thursday night” or “Pick up prescription on your way to the grocery store.”

    3. Elizabeth H.*

      I too would like to have a better schedule in terms of work/not at work!
      For example, today: woke up at 7:45am or so, talked/engaged in getting ready for work activities with the guy I’m dating who was sleeping over, went into the kitchen and chatted with roommate & cooked bok choy w/garlic and ginger to eat for lunch (this is exceptionally rare that I cook in the morning), left on my bike to go to work (~15 minute bike ride), got into work at 10am, am at work, after work I’m going to bike to yoga (~35 minute bike ride) from 5:45-7:15pm, go home and shower, meet my visiting brother & parents for dinner close to my apartment.

      In a typical week:
      -wake up in time to be late-ish to work, pack or grab something very uncomplicated for lunch. Some days I go out to buy salad for lunch
      -bike to work (15 minutes)
      -work, usually I don’t take a break but I would like to switch to taking a lunch break and working more focused-ly the rest of the time rather than intermittently screwing around mid day (I’m salaried). I usually get there late and want to work through lunch to make it up.
      -if I’m staying late, stay until 6 or 630 or so working. One to two days a week I leave at 5pm so I can go to yoga at 5:45pm. I used to go a LOT MORE and would like to resume.
      -Go home, play with cat, sometimes stop by grocery store. shower, read something (eg newspaper), sometimes the guy I’m dating comes over. This is also when I will eat (I don’t cook a lot, it’s usually something very easy to prepare like frozen vegetables/cereal/takeout/pizza which is fine with me), do chores like take trash or recycle out.
      -Tuesday nights I go over to my friends’ regular hang out night and. I usually do the same Fridays or Saturdays. Once or twice a month or so I meet up with a friend for dinner on a week day after work at about 6-6:30pm.

      I mostly do “activities” on the weekends, like big cleaning projects, going to the library, pet sitting, organizing my files, visiting my parents, or whatever. I don’t have a lot of hobbies but I’m ok with it as it is. Looking at this spelled out my life seems kind of boring! I’m 30 and live in a fantastic, diverse, vibrant urban area with two roommates. After a lot of recent “place in the universe” turmoil I feel like I finally have time to just relax, hang out with friends a lot, not do much, so I have been definitely taking it easy this past few months which has worked out great for me. But as I kind of recover from said turmoil, I’d like to spend more time in dedicated pursuits like focusing on yoga and related physical & spiritual pasttimes, spending time by myself.

    4. How to adult*

      Your comments are all kinda confirming what I’ve been thinking! Either pick 1-2 things to excel at or be okay with things being good enough or not at all…

      Elizabeth H. your comment really resonated with me as our situations are very similar. I’m trying to figure out if I could make better use of my mornings but this would require becoming a morning person!

  58. Talia*

    For all the classified-work people: If someone proclaims to me that they have enemies because of their classified job, may I assume they are full of it or is that a thing that actually happens? (I mean, don’t y’all have rules about saying things like that to people you don’t know that well?)

        1. The New Wanderer*

          Kinda guessing but are they the type of person who has “enemies” everywhere? The claim + insistence makes it sound like they feel like they have enemies and pinning it on work seems convenient.

          Because the only reason I can think of to cause enemies due to the classified job is if they talked about their classified job outside of work, which is Not Done by people in classified jobs.

    1. The IT Manager*

      They’re full of it is a really safe assumption. A lot of classified work is surpringly boring.

      Someone who actually had enemies from their super secret spy/military/assasin job wouldn’t take about it because it’s classified.

    2. Marillenbaum*

      Sometimes–but generally people who are bringing it up to people without a clearance are either full of it or joking.

    3. Thlayli*

      I know a few people who have classified jobs and the only ones that talk about it like that are full of themselves.
      That said, there almost certainly are people who have enemies because of classified stuff they do. I just can’t imagine them telling random people about it. I can imagine if I was one of those people having a conversation like that with a close friend or family member or a partner, but not with a casual acquaintance or a date.

    4. Anonymunicipal*

      Not sure what you mean by classified exactly; I’m not allowed to talk about the details of my job with anyone, but I don’t work for a federal agency by any means. That said, two of my colleagues and I have all had our cars keyed while parked in the employee ramp (they scratched a full word across my passenger door, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t accidental). Also, I don’t patronize any businesses or services in my jurisdiction anymore. It is just easier to go to the next town over where people don’t know me and I don’t know them. We’re also encouraged not to identify ourselves as municipal employees off-duty (no bumper stickers on cars, no wearing uniforms off-duty for any reason, refer all off-duty questions or requests for service(s) directly to on-duty staff, etc…) That being said, I haven’t really told anyone about these things unless they want to work for my employer and they specifically ask what kind of risks/disadvangages come with the job. I guess it depends on why they were telling you?

      1. Anonymunicipal*

        I should have clarified – I don’t think anyone thinks of me or my colleagues as enemies (nor we them), but probably felt wronged by the municipality itself. Mostly in a ‘you can’t make everyone happy,’ kind of way when you are talking about balancing the needs and wants of millions of people. These few instances when people acted out are the exception, rather than the rule.

  59. Amber Rose*

    I remembered my question this week!

    So, seriously nobody knows what I do all day (including me sometimes). In an effort to help my supervisor out, she requested that I send her an email on Mondays laying out what I’m working on.

    But um. I really don’t know how to do this? Back when I was swamped, as I usually am for summer, it was easy. But for the rest of the year, I kind of just make it up as I go. A pretty decent chunk of my time when we’re busy is sales, but that’s not predictable. The other chunk is requests from other departments, which also varies and comes up suddenly. Because it’s like that, some weeks I plan nothing, and just clean/organize a lot Monday morning and wait for stuff to land on my lap, since it always does. I did come up with a number of things I wanted to do to put in my email this Monday, but I did basically none of them because other stuff came up. But I can’t just send her an email that says, “I got nothing” and I don’t feel like I can send an email that says, “I got none of that stuff done so it’s still on my list.”

    I could mention the things that came up but I worry that I seem flaky that way. The list I sent on Monday had a lot of small random things on it. The list of stuff I got done has maybe three or four previously unmentioned items on it.

    I partly find this whole process frustrating because I guess my manager considers me management level, and the reason nobody knows what I do is because I’m self contained, so why am I reporting to anyone anyway? It’s like they don’t trust that I’m actually working even though I give an update in the weekly staff meeting, write out multi-page quarterly reports for management, and I’m literally involved in everyone’s business and doing work for everyone all the time.

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      Instead of planning it for the week ahead, can you write it for what you did the week previous? My manager and I share a OneNote list that gets updated with things I need to work on/am waiting for/have completed, and each week a new note gets added, so she can see for the past year (every year a new file starts) what I’ve worked on. She says it makes it much easier on her when it comes time for annual review and when we meet for status updates and so forth.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I can ask her if that will work instead. But some weeks I feel like I get nothing done. I spend a lot of time just reading and researching. I’m still working, it’s just that I still have a lot to learn.

        1. Opalescent Tree Shark*

          Well, when you report what you did to your boss, just make sure you have a line about what you’re researching and how it applies to your job. So instead of say “spent 40 hours reading and researching,” you would say “spent x hours researching melting points of various kinds of chocolates to help teapot department with chocolate teapot task, y hours researching camelids to improve llama grooming processes for llama husbandry department, and z hour researching rice cooking best practices to improve my rice sculpting skills.”

          It might make you feel like you’ve done more and help your boss understand what you do if you break it down like that.

    2. Princess Carolyn*

      I think it makes sense to lay out how much of your time you predict you’ll spend on sales and requests from other departments, even if you can’t give specifics. Then explain the other things you’ll be working on as time allows, and make it clear what’s low-priority and what’s not. Basically, make it clear up-front what you’ll be prioritizing.

      It may also be helpful to send a Friday email (are you already doing that? I can’t tell) detailing how you actually spent your time. Something like “I handled [x variable] sales and [y variable] requests from others, and then [whatever other things you accomplished].” That’s going to sound a lot better than “I got nothing on my list done” because you already put the unpredictable stuff on your list.

      I can definitely relate to feeling like your value/productivity is being questioned; a lot of my positions have been self-contained with a lot of ad hoc duties. It helps to intentionally reframe it in your mind as an opportunity to demonstrate how valuable you are.

    3. Undine*

      Could you come up with some boilerplate for the things that will come up? Like “Ongoing availability for triage and support on an as-needed basis for the LLama, Teapot, and Rice Sculpture departments. Typical tasks include deployment of emergency groomers, melted chocolate remediation, and brainstorming about rice-sculpture shipping containers.”

      1. Undine*

        Ah, just saw your note about not getting much done. “Ongoing research into grooming best practices and cutting-edge tools for chocolate remediation.”

    4. Specialk9*

      It sounds like your boss is asking for a prediction of the week, but what she wants is insight into what you actually do. (Which is a reasonable management expectation of you, even though it can chafe when you’re a go getter who is self driven – but my manager often chimes in with big picture company stuff or potential interpersonal landmines, or that perfect simple question that makes me go, hunh, I should do/have done X. So useful and reasonable. But even if not useful to me, still something managers need.)

      Ask if you can do a weekly one-on-one check-in with her, and provide a weekly status report. (So basically the weekly verbal report-out you already do, but likely longer and more in depth.) I have this on my schedule every week, though with both of us being super busy it realistically happens every 2-3 weeks. I go through ny calendar, sent mail, and notes and write it all up, especially highlighting decision points for manager/input or advice needed. Then you can just use the weekly reports, aggregated and slightly tweaked for the quarterly multi page reports. You’re already doing this work, it just changes the timing and adds in a weekly 1:1 check in.

      1. Specialk9*

        Also, I get the feeling that you feel like this manager request is a sign of distrust of you, implying you’re dishonest. But if you can step out of your shoes for a moment and pretend to be your manager, it’s likely this has nothing to do with you and everything to do with her. She’s worried about sounding stupid when her boss asks detailed questions about what her team is doing, or she read a management book that said one must do XYZ, or she’s still trying to learn the business but doesn’t want to admit that. There is often a lot churning away underneath, and framing it as her needing kind hand-holding to help her is going to serve you better, in your unconscious tone and body language, than feeling aggrieved will. Reframing is one of the single most powerful life tools, I’ve found.

  60. AnonforThis*

    Does anyone have advice on how to deal with a supervisor not trusting you?

    First thing first- I don’t know where the distrust is coming from. For some reason, my supervisor just does.not.believe. me when I give estimates for when I’m going to finish projects or how many hours a particular task will take. I don’t know why- I’ve never missed a deadline, I’m actually ahead of schedule with my major responsibilities, I’ve never had any major quality issues with my work. It’s even gotten to the point where she’s giving the impression that she is assuming that I’m not doing my job, period. (Eg- I’ll say that I can take on a side project b/c I’m ahead of schedule on main project, then she’ll reply, ‘Well you know, you can’t just sit and do nothing if you finish early.” …..? )

    I think part of it might be that she’s not supervising my biggest project, so she doesn’t really know what I do day-to-day, but other than volunteering to update her weekly/monthly (or heck, daily), I don’t know how to impart that information. (She has a ton of stuff she’s doing on her own, so I don’t know that adding another thing for her to read would be welcome anyway.) We rarely have one-on-one’s- if I didn’t initiate meetings to ask her about work stuff, the only time we’d speak is my annual performance review.

    Does anyone have a non-accusatory script that I can use to figure out what on earth is going on?

    1. Rae*

      What is her work style? Do you see her interact with her manager and how does that usually play out? Is your workspace near hers? How much can you observe of what she thinks “work” looks like?

      I am introverted, quiet, and prefer to be left alone to do work for hours at a time. and when I was in a support position for a manager she accused me outright of not working, because she expected me to come hang out with her in her office like my other coworker, chat, shout back and forth between offices, and spend lots of times being very loudly “busy” like she was. She literally did not notice anything outside of her whirlwind of activity. To her, it didn’t seem like I was doing anything because I was quiet and kept to myself.

      Is there anything you can observe about your style that would give her the mistaken impression you’re not working? Like has she walked in on you on a personal phone call more than once? Has she caught you on ebay during a break? Or looked for you after you happened to step out to get the mail or run a work errand?

      If the frequent updates over email don’t work, would she prefer you to show up in person at her office for five minutes each day? What about texts or phone calls? Ideally, she would tell you how she wants you to keep her in the loop and work with you in a way that will help you be as productive as possible, but you might have to do that for her in this case.

    2. Thlayli*

      It sounds like maybe she thinks you are giving yourself too much time to do things. You’ve said you never miss a deadline so maybe she thinks your deadlines aren’t challenging enough and you’re building in more than enough time to do the work.

    3. Specialk9*

      I’m not sure you can win with someone who treats a competent worker who meets deadlines as a slacker. Sorry. The best solution for a crappy manager is a new manager.

  61. regular commenter - anon for this post*

    My company is “harmonizing” benefits and is changing the PTO structure. I expected to accrue 24 days of PTO in 2018 and now will only accrue 20. I’m quite displeased, and so are a lot of folks in the company. Not sure what their goal was, but the end result is going to be a lot of attrition.

    1. JN*

      I don’t blame you for being upset at loosing almost a week of vacation time that you’d been expecting to get. But at least the company is letting you all know in plenty of time (unless people have already booked travel arrangments in anticipation of that time 0ff–which really sucks even more if they did). I’m sure the company POV is that it wasn’t fair to the employees in some departments to be getting less PTO time than people in other departments (but then it would have been nice of them to bring everyone up to the same level rather than taking away from some people). I’m about to change jobs from a place that just did one pot PTO for vacation/sick to a new place that has the two types separate. I’m officially getting 4 more total days, but it won’t exactly feel like it since I don’t usually get sick and so probably won’t be utilizing the sick time the way I would vacation time.

    2. WellRed*

      Just when I think I’ve heard all the corporate double speak bs a new one comes along. “Harmonizing benefits.” Really?! Bet some bean counter is proud of themselves for finding a softer way to say we are cutting your benefits.

    3. Specialk9*

      Yeah, every time HR talks about how benefits are changing to be so much better for employees, it’s usually really much better for the company.

  62. A Person*

    It’s my job’s Halloween party tomorrow and sweet Cthulu I don’t wanna. (I work at a school, this is par for the course and paid where I am). I’m going to be game because I can’t not be but I’d so much rather determine if I really need to buy a new computer tomorrow and not wrangle kids in costumes.

    1. Emily S.*

      Would it help to tell yourself you can manage this, and it’s not going to last forever? And leave at the earliest moment you can.

      Also – maybe think of a fun reward for yourself for making it through, once it’s all over.

      1. A Person*

        I’m planning a nice dinner and TV when I’m done, it’s just that it’s such a microcosm of all the problems work has and I’m so tired because of work and work adjacent reasons that I just want to hide in my bed.

  63. De Minimis*

    I posted in the old thread, but I found out what’s going to happen to my job. I will be laid off the year after next, but the big issue is that my salary will be cut nearly in half this coming summer. So my goal is to find a new job by that time. My boss said he tried to advocate for me and I guess that was the compromise. We’re losing a lot of other staff over 2018, and the first layoffs will begin early next year. I live in a high cost of living area, and though I’m the second income in my household that is still too great a cut to bear. It is twice what I’d initially told my boss I could tolerate.

    Everyone was notified this week about their own personal situation. Due to my job, I was informed about all the changes throughout the organization. They eventually will go public with everything, at least as far as layoffs. I don’t know if they’ll tell people about salary reductions for those who remain.

    What really bothers me is that not everyone is having to undergo salary cuts, and what really rubs me the wrong way is that only a few of the upper level people are having salary cuts at all, while their direct reports are having their salaries cut almost in half or are being laid off altogether. I just think that everyone should have to make some kind of sacrifice. I know that some of the managers will have to take on the work of those who are leaving, but that goes for those of us who are having our salaries cut as well, so why should they get to continue at the same salary while the rest of us struggle?

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      What really bothers me is that not everyone is having to undergo salary cuts, and what really rubs me the wrong way is that only a few of the upper level people are having salary cuts at all, while their direct reports are having their salaries cut almost in half or are being laid off altogether.

      You’re right, that sucks. :-(

    2. CatCat*

      Ugh, this is awful. I don’t know how they can avoid telling people about the salary reductions. It will be a massive problem if people just unexpectedly get 50% of their pay on payday.

      I think they can expect a mass exodus before salary cuts kick in, which may be what they are hoping for. (Especially if this is somewhere where vacation time accrued has to be paid out… even if not, I think a lot of people will be “sick” if given short notice so they can at least get a couple days off at their pre-cut pay.)

      1. De Minimis*

        They’ve told each individual about his/her own salary reduction, but I don’t know if they’re going public about what other people are doing [especially upper level people.]

        My feeling is most people who are facing cuts like mine will probably try and leave before they take effect. My question is, right now when people are laid off, they get a month’s severance. If you have your salary cut and then are laid off [as I will be], will your severance be a month of the old salary or a month of the reduced salary?

        It’s demoralizing, even though I won’t be working the same amount of hours I’ll be taking home less money than I was before I went back to school to change careers. And I’m sure they’ll try to get me to work more…

        A bad situation all around. We’re a nonprofit and have been around for a few decades, but this is most likely the beginning of the end of us.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The reason is that they care more about making sure they retain the higher level people. Those jobs are harder to fill and the impact can be worse if they’re vacant/in transition. They’re willing to cut pay at lower levels because they know that if people leave over it, they can replace them with a similar skill level (or a good enough skill level) pretty easily.

      That sucks when you’re one of the lower level people, but it’s not necessarily an outrageous way to do it, from a purely practical standpoint.

    4. JN*

      That sucks. At a past job, we had a new director come in a few months after the old one left (the assistant ‘ran’ things during the gap). New director did a total financial audit and discovered a major financial crisis that none of us had known anything about. Total purchasing freeze implemented immediately. Board wanted new director to cut at least one part time position and one full time position (mine). But director didn’t want to start swinging the axe immediately (which I appreciated) and talked them into a ‘compromise’ of reducing the hours of most of the part timers a bit, and making my position halftime instead of full. Which of course meant I lost my healthcare benefits. Applied for unemployment to try and make up some of the shortfall but only ended up receiving it for a week or two before the director came through on the promise to give me back a few hours if possible—and those hours meant I was making just enough to no longer qualify for unemployment help. I was graduating around that time, so they’d known I was likely to start job hunting, but those cuts made it a “must job hunt” instead of “want to job hunt”.

      1. De Minimis*

        They’re really trying to be as kind as they can…they’re making sure everyone stays long enough to be at least partially vested in the retirement plan [we had some new hires earlier this year who are going to be here exactly a year]
        and setting the termination date to where they won’t get immediately dropped from health insurance.

        And of course the kindness of letting people know what’s going to happen months in advance instead of just doing the Stalinist “sudden disappearance” method of layoffs.

  64. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I have a good job that is completely underutilizing me. This is expected, I just have way more downtime than I’d like, and during that downtime, the wheels keep turning and my thinking gets very negative. Some days I barely leave my office and my “get-up-and-go” goes down the tubes. I’m working hard on identifying ways to get out of these ruts, and one thing I realized recently is that I’m missing the “acting” element of a job. This will sound weird, but bear with me– I was very successful at a long-term job I held in NYC at a huge, well-known company. I wasn’t a major executive, but I had a growing role and enjoyed going to work most days. I realize now that part of that joy involved getting up, getting dressed in my “she-works-in-the-big-city” costume, putting on makeup, taking the train, and seeing various people throughout my day. I had to put on my “work look” and my “work face”, and as a natural performer, this added an extra boost to my day. (For the record, I am kind of introverted, so it helped to put on a persona as I went about my day.) It wasn’t perfect, but there were a lot of factors in that environment that kept me going.

    Now I’m in a small, uber-casual office (I am wearing yoga pants and sneakers today because I have a bad knee injury; shorts and t-shirts are typical attire here) in the ‘burbs with a 20-minute car commute. I wear way less makeup than I used to, and I have a closet full of business casual work wear. The “glamour” is gone, and with it, so goes a lot of my motivation to be a self-starter, put myself “out there”, insist on more challenging work, etc. So in an effort to combat this, I ordered new makeup and I have vowed to start incorporating nicer clothes into my work wardrobe (today notwithstanding, please take pity on the injured!). Does this kind of thing happen to anyone else? Any tips?

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I haven’t got any tips, but I can relate.

      I moved to a new job earlier this year and it’s a really nice functional work place but the pace is so slow I find myself not knowing what to do with myself most days the work load and the lead times are so much easier than at my last place. For some reason I find myself missing the buzz and stress (as well as the dysfunction! but that might be Stockholm syndrome) I got used to it to and it motivated me to jump on problems and turn work around quickly. Now I’m just felling really flat and meh about coming to work.

    2. Kate Lathrop*

      I know just what you mean about the ‘work look’ and persona! My office goes in cycles and right now I’m in the slow time. I’ve got stuff to do just not motivated. and it’s a smaller more laid back office. I find that leaving the house with makeup and a good lip look (I go for a nice red) and my ‘#bosswoman’ attitude goes a long way to keeping my attitude up. I’ve also put together a selection of 8-10 outfits (and took photographs) so for mornings when I can’t brain I can pull one of the outfits together and that helps my attitude.

      You said shorts and T shirts are usual attire for the office you’re in now; maybe go with a preppy feel with bermuda shorts, button down shirts (or a nice structured T shirt) and adorable flats or low heeled shoes? Then khakis or nice jeans for winter? Think of it as a wardrobe for your new work persona. I am picturing leopard print or embossed croc mules, flats or low chunky block heels. Then solid color bermuda shorts with a white or cream shirt or blouse. Mix it up with plaid shorts for Fridays and pull a color from the shorts for your shirt.

      I know for me when my outside reflects what I want my inside to be, I’m much more confident. I used that A LOT when job hunting. Good luck!

    3. Specialk9*

      Totally! I get what you mean, completely, including about being an introvert and putting on that confident persona and getting an emotional bounce from it.

      People at my ‘casual’ dresscode work can show up in jeans and lots do (though management doesn’t, except Fridays). I don’t wear jeans almost ever – I dress from the polished side of ‘business’ to quirky business casual (eg a nice knee length dress with a quirky print). I am going for a look that says I’m a manager, with a bit of flair.

      I know I can’t work from home because I get too sad about not having fashion opportunities, and not seeing people. I love to dress up for work! (Though the occasional sweat pant at home day is delightful too.)

  65. Princess Carolyn*

    I work part-time for a company I love, doing work that’s in my field. My supervisors have said good things about my performance. I’ve applied for a few full-time gigs with this company, but haven’t been as successful as I hoped. Can someone help me figure out what’s up here?

    Job 1: In the same division I’m currently working for, doing something I’m qualified to do, but there are likely plenty of applicants with my skills or better. No interview. Weirdly, this position is still listed on the careers page months later, which is unusual for this company. I have access to the intranet so I know that nobody has been hired in this role.

    Job 2: In a different division than the one I’m currently working for, doing basically exactly what I do now for the other division. No interview. Kinda miffed, but I’m not crazy about this particular division anyway. I don’t think they’ve filled this position yet either, but it’s no longer listed.

    Job 3: A stretch job in a different division doing something higher-level than what I do for them now. Got a phone interview! It went well but they decided not to move forward with me because they wanted someone with more management experience, which doesn’t surprise me at all given how senior the position is. The person I interviewed with said they’d recommend my name to the person in charge of hiring similar positions in my current division — which is the same person who would be hiring for Job 1, where I never heard back.

    So I emailed the hiring manager in my division to ask if they were still hiring for that position and ask if I could access some of the internal best practice guides for that type of work so I could learn more. It’s been a week or two with no answer. This person has been in Slack and is definitely around, but it’s not clear if they’re ignoring my email or forgot about it or just haven’t gotten to it yet. (In general, people here are quite responsive, so it’s odd to go weeks without an answer.)

    Should I take a hint and give up on trying to work here full-time? I’m worried that I’m embarrassing myself and looking clueless.

    1. JN*

      I think Alison would probably say to accept silence as a “no” and move on to other options. Could be that you might get a pleasant surprise in hearing back on Job 1, but just as likely/more likely not. Since you’re looking to move up within the same company, I wonder if your current supervisors have to/get to weigh in on you being considered for other positions. You say you’ve gotten good feedback on your performance in your current role–is it possible that your supervisor doesn’t want to lose you to another department and is passively or overtly letting it be known to others that you aren’t to be poached?

    2. Specialk9*

      The most likely thing is that the silence means they are actively turning you down. But, I mean, what do you have to lose from politely asking various managers with whom you work, directly and indirectly, for feedback? Something like:

      “I would like your advice on specific skills I can work on, to help me advance at this company, or more broadly in this field. I really enjoy this job and company, and have gotten good feedback, but am struggling in my search to get a full-time position. I’m wondering if there is something specific that I can improve – either building specific skills or fixing a problem in my work or communication style. I recognize that the latter can be awkward to say directly to someone’s face, so please believe me that it would be a great kindness if you know of something, because if I know I can work on it. I promise not to argue or be defensive, I will just listen and then repeat back what I heard to make sure I understood correctly what you said.”

      And then, importantly, do exactly that. Listen with a serene face and thankful attitude, and repeat back their description with absolutely no commentary or shading from you. (So hard!) Then thank them for the help, and process the feelings and then thoughts elsewhere. Later check with people who know you well – is this something I do in other contexts? Research how to fix it, or come up with 3 concrete strategies. (You can tell the manager your strategies verbally; I wouldn’t email it to them, as then it can look like PIP documentation.)

      And what about applying elsewhere? This isn’t the only company. Sometimes it just takes a ‘click’ with a manager to go from seen as a meh performer to a rockstar.

  66. Anonymous Educator*

    I’ve often heard (especially in light of the most recent news cycle) that if you’re being sexually harassed and report it to HR, HR will be on the side of the company and try to protect it from liability instead of protecting you as an employee.

    I get that. I get the incentives. The company comes first, not the employee.

    That said, why does “protecting the company” mean covering up harassment (and thus protecting the harasser) and putting the harassee on the outs (or even retaliating against the employee)? Wouldn’t limiting liability involve documenting the actions of the accused and then, if the accusations appear to have merit, firing the harasser in order to protect the company?

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, that’s what I mean. Exactly! Of course, I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think someone can rightfully sue a company just because she was sexually harassed at work if the company did something about the harassment as soon as they knew about it. I do, however, think there are good grounds for a lawsuit if the company repeatedly showed it turned a blind eye to harassment. Unfortunately, just because there are grounds for a suit doesn’t mean the suit always ends well for the plaintiff (see Ellen Pao, Anita Hill, etc.)…

    1. Specialk9*

      I think you’re misinterpreting the idea of HR protecting the company. HR has heavy incentives to protect the company from lawsuit, so they will take sexual harassment accusations seriously. (Ideally – dysfunction and toxic messed up situations exist.) But HR is not there to protect *you* so people who expect HR to take care of them (ie most of us initially) are naive. HR is not a guidance counselor, teacher, therapist, mediator, or university RA – all of those are ‘caring for’ rules, but HR is more along the lines of legal compliance. I think that’s the point of those warnings about HR’s mindset.

      But absolutely, HR should care about sexual harassment – it can have huge financial, legal, and reputational impacts.

  67. Venus Supreme*

    What a WEEK. My manager and my big boss had to have a sit-down meeting with me because of something I said last week prior. Last week, outside of office hours my manager was trying to install a filing cabinet in my cubicle and it didn’t fit. She left it wedged under the desk and didn’t put back anything she moved and left my rug bunched up in a corner. I felt like this was really disrespectful, especially when I asked her what happened to my cubicle she replied with, “Oh, I got distracted. It’s a low priority.” When I saw her again I said, “Y’know, this really upset me. This is my personal space and I would have appreciated a text or something so I know what I’m walking into.” And she exploded. She said, “Are you kidding me right now? Seriously? Don’t you even know what else is going on?” And I said, “No, I don’t. Can we talk about this?” She said no, and she stormed off.

    So this meeting, with our big boss happened a week later after this incident. They wanted to know what this comment meant, and I referenced previous confrontations I had with my manager: There are three associates (including me) working under her and she is very obviously closer with the two than she is with me. She told me she sees my one associate as her “second daughter” and “like her assistant.” I brought this up again that this is problematic because important, work-related information comes out during her casual, personal conversations and it doesn’t trickle down to me. I keep asking for weekly meetings and it’s not consistent.

    Know what they blamed these miscommunications on? My headphones. They said I’m not connecting with my coworkers because of my headphones. They said it’s a “two-way street” to connect, and I need to make myself available to… what, eavesdrop?

    My work requires a lot of concentration, and the company moved from having offices with locking doors to open-concept cubicles. I can hear everything. I ostensibly need these headphones to do my job. Whenever someone needs my attention I promptly remove them. I also wear the big, over-the-head headphones so people easily know when I have them on. I also have misophonia, so it’s either I work with my headphones on or I spiral into a panic attack because the person in the cubicle next to me is scraping his aluminum foil on the desk and the girl on the other side of me is singing to herself. I explained this all, and they said I then need to find another way to “connect” with everyone. What bugs me, though, is that I don’t care about being best friends with these people. What my issue is, is that I’m not getting important information conveyed to me and it’s affecting my work and how others are perceving how well I do my job.

    My manager also had a mental list of everything I’ve done wrong in the past 6 weeks, and this meeting was the first time I heard about all of this. Despite me being thrown off-guard with this confrontation, I had enough wits about me to ask her why she didn’t tell me as soon as I made these perceived errors. She said it’s because she needed time to “cool down” and collect her thoughts. I told her the errors went on as long as they did because she didn’t tell me as soon as they happened, and I can’t correct myself on things I don’t know are wrong. BTW, I’m sure the only reason the big boss was there because my manager doesn’t have a spine. Board members call her the “hand-wringer.” My manager also suggested I should be staying late to work and coming in on weekends to finish work… but there is no issue about me working to finish tasks on time. I feel like the culture here thinks time spent = quality of work. I don’t even know what I would do for work on a Saturday… clean my cubicle?

    Some days my higher-ups make me think I’m overreacting, and other days I feel like they’re backwards.

    I’m in my 20s. No kids. I’ve been here for a year and a half. I’m ready to move out-of-state and work for more reasonable people. I like the work I’m doing, it’s just these people. Thoughts?

    1. Cheese Sticks and Pretzels*

      It is obviously not a good fit for you and if it were me, I would be looking to work elsewhere.

      1. Venus Supreme*

        I’m definitely looking elsewhere. I’m trying to make the time between now and my next job as painless as possible :-\

      1. Venus Supreme*

        It’s very… incesctuous here. Lots of one-night-stands between co-workers, a couple kids as a result of that, and those kids have their own cubicles as both parents work here and this is cheaper than daycare. I’m not super down with blurring your private matters with your business matters, and I’m not super down with kids fighting and breaking the company’s things, and of course I didn’t realize this when I interviewed. I’m trying to figure out how I can get a good sense of the culture fit in future interviews.

        1. Rookie Manager*

          Wow! I’ve nothing to offer but wow! Kids having their own cubicle would be weird enough without it being because of all the company one night stands.

    2. Effie, who is herself, and is moving forward without self judgement*

      Yes, get out. Just reading this made my skin crawl. You deserve an environment where you are respected!

      Good luck.

    3. Specialk9*

      You need to leave. This is a terrible manager who stores up grievances to ambush you in front of grandboss rather than to tell you for continual improvement, refuses to meet with you regularly, blows up emotionally at you after using very dismissive and belittling language to you, needles you (yes it’s on purpose) about how much she likes your co-workers and dislikes you, and complains about appearance of work over completing work. I’m guessing you have gotten accustomed to the pot heating up around you, and are checking in to check that the water is actually hot. Yep, hot water / toxic manager. You have to get out. She’ll find ways to destroy your professional reputation and get you fired anyway. Transfer internally if you can. Get another job elsewhere.

  68. Emi.*

    I got stuck on the holiday party planning committee. We’re supposed to meet for an hour every week until mid-December. Please someone kill me.

    1. Emily S.*

      Even if you’re in a huge company, this sounds like planning overkill.

      Sorry! But hey, at least there is an end date. Just think, two months from now (given the party will be in mid-Dec.?) it will be over and done. Meanwhile, maybe suggest an ugly sweater competition. You know, for laughs. ;)

  69. Language Student*

    My class assistant won’t listen to my instractions. Help?

    Basically, there’s a new volunteer tutor who sits in on my class and does one-on-one work with one of my students. He occasionally helps out with explanations in class, which is fine as long as it’s relevant, but he tends to go off topic. When that happens, I cut in and say “we’ll learn more about that later in the year, so don’t worry too much now” to get us back on topic and I continue teaching. Problem is, when he does the one-on-one sessions, he asks me for approval of the content and then focuses on the content I’ve asked him not to focus too much on, because we haven’t covered it yet. I’m not sure how to talk to him about it, but it’s a problem since the student misses half the normal class time and doesn’t get the chance to catch up/work on his weaknesses. What should I do? I want to talk to the tutor about this, but what should I say?

    1. fposte*

      Sounds like Volunteer Tutor has a focus problem. How are you finding out what he’s focused on in the tutoring–is there a report? What about setting out more specifics about time on the priority areas–“Spelling and grammar–at least 30 min.; sentence construction–at least 30 min.” and ask him to report how long was actually spent as well as whether the topics got addressed?

      1. Language Student*

        Typically, he’ll casually tell me what he focused on after class has finished – we’re pretty informal and low key, so setting times is tricky – but I could definitely be more specific about priority areas. So far I’ve mostly been saying “we’re not actually set to cover that for a couple of months – could you focus on y instead?” and it might sound more like a suggestion than a direction. Thanks!

    2. FormerOP*

      If you are in second language education, have you heard of Tea with BVP? Google it, it won’t help you with your specific problem BUT I personally found my students are so much happier (and can communicate more) after I started using comprehensible input over legacy methods. I know this is not an answer to your question, but I do believe that it is a good resource. Feel free to roll your eyes and ignore my evangelizing.

      1. Language Student*

        I haven’t heard of it, but that looks really useful! I’m a volunteer and don’t have much training or education in ESOL, so I’m always looking for new methods and resources. Thank you!

  70. LO*

    After what felt like an eternity of losing patience at slow interviewing processes, candidate ghosting by managers, and WAY too many resume re-writes…I got a new job. :-)

    The interviews for where I’m going were the best I’ve ever performed at. It is the first time in my life where I felt like interviewing was an actual conversations and assessments of my skills and attitude (and vice versa to the employer) instead of some kind of weird performance where I was never actually myself and too afraid to ask tough questions.

    Alison, thank you so much for this site and your interview guides. I read them religiously (even memorized certain parts!) and your advice helped me realize interviewing is a two way street and not where the candidate has no say THANK YOU!

  71. Former lurker*

    My company has a policy whereby staff aren’t allowed to give references for past or current employees; all reference requests have to go to HR who send out a generic template response giving very little detail (basically job title, length of service, attendance…)
    I’ve been here for over 10 years in a few positions, and now job-hunting externally for the first time since then. I got too comfortable, and now I’m feeling out of my depth in the job market, and overthinking everything. Mainly, though, I don’t know what to do about references when I eventually get asked – I can only give my current employer, then anything else work-related would be around 11 years old, with people I’ve lost touch with. How do I approach this?!

    1. EmilyAnn*

      Do you work regularly with people outside the company? Vendors, clients, anything like that? Are you in any professional associations?

      1. Former lurker*

        I’m ashamed to say I haven’t put the effort into networking with professional contacts over the years as I should have done, so I only know people to say hi to at events and share small talk with. In terms of clients, that’s a possibility – is that something people do? I’ve never thought about that before…. hmmmmmmm…. thanks, I’ll have a think on this!

    2. CatCat*

      Has anyone left the company that can serve as a reference? Any sense of whether this policy is actually enforced/followed?

    3. A.N.O.N.*

      This is a fairly common HR policy. They idea behind it is that HR doesn’t want managers either giving a negative reference about an employee and be potentially sued by the employee for slander or giving a great recommendation for a not-so-great employee and being sued by the employee’s new company for false information.

      That said, it’s a policy that is very, very commonly broken. Managers know that employees need references from them. If you’re comfortable approaching your manager for a reference, I wouldn’t let this get in the way. Often job offers are made contingent on references, so that would be the point where you could approach your current manager. If you really don’t feel comfortable approaching your manager, you could also ask a trusted coworker with whom you work closely and who could vouch for your work.

    4. Sam Foster*

      First, be open and honest with prospective employers that many of your references will have to follow internal HR policy. Second, like others have said: Do you have contacts that no longer work there that you could trust? Volunteer groups? Industry trade associations?

  72. EmilyAnn*

    I work for the government and had reached out to a couple of people to let them know I was looking for a new job. One responded quickly and basically offered me a job in a week. Unlike most government jobs the hiring is going to be quick. It was interesting work so I accepted and should be starting next month. Another called after I accepted and told me he was basically going to do everything in his power to get an open position in his organization for me. It’s in a dream location and the work sounds wonderful. Hiring is going to take forever. I anticipate months, even if I’m selected. So I’m pulling my freebie in this situation and I’m going to take the new job and start in good faith, while working on the other process and hoping I get hired. I could spend as little as 90-120 days in the new job. I think if it all works out and I have to explain myself, the new job will be upset, but they will completely understand why I would take the other one. If dream location doesn’t work out, I’m excited about the possibilities of the first job and will leave it to “whatever will be will be”. Such a great “problem” to have!

  73. Jenn*

    Anyone have great tips for scheduling entry-level staff?

    I’ve taken on a radically new role in a new organization and I’m struggling a bit with how best to communicate with staff around scheduling.

    We use Schedule Base and until now it was done on a very ad hoc basis, sometimes a night or two before the shifts themselves. I’m looking for what’s helped you get your scheduling super under control with clear lines of communication, ways to make it better for staff and management, and ways you’ve kept people engaged. I’ve now gotten three weeks ahead, but we do have a lot of moving targets if people get sick.

    Right now we have people who tend to show up without having checked the schedule; a lot of our staff are fairly young adults and don’t seem to check email or text. People’s hours are not all that regular as our staffing needs fluctuate. The good news is that they are generally showing up for more hours than they are scheduled for; the bad news is they’re wasting their own time.

    1. LCL*

      Start with some concrete deadlines that you will follow and expect them to follow. Specifically, how many days is each schedule for-week, two week, month? If you are not doing it by pay period, start. We post ours for two full pay periods, and it is always ready on the third Thursday on the schedule. Hopefully your pay periods are the same length each time, so all of your deadlines will repeat on the same weekday/point in the schedule. This makes the calendar more or less irrelevant, it is your job to reconcile the schedule vs the calendar by date. If your pay periods are always a specific date, like 1st and 15th of the month, your job is much harder but still doable.

      Next, decide what your preferred method of notifying people is, and stick to it. If you are the scheduler you have the power to decide this. Talk it over with the employees first, to figure out what will work best, but the ultimate decision is up to you. We produce a written schedule and give everyone a copy. If they have questions they call me. It sound like your business requires short notice of shifts-talk to the group and standardize your callout procedures. Part of standardization is keeping a record of your callouts, otherwise at minimum you will be accused of unfair treatment, at worst setting the grounds for a discrimination lawsuit.

      You can’t do much about the sick calls except standardize your procedure so it is very clear what the employees are supposed to do. Our unit policy is that the person (or spouse or family member, whatever) has to call in to someone in management BY PHONE. We won’t accept texts or emails for sick leave calls.

  74. Chewy Mints*

    I interviewed at an organization yesterday and I am uncertain on how to interpret some of the things I noticed during the interview, and would appreciate an outside perspective. The company called me today to invite me over again as they want to extend me a job offer and want to discuss the details in person, so no written offer.

    Here are a few examples of my observations during the interview:
    – the CEO mentioned that the position has been hard to fill as some people don’t do well in the high-stress type of environment (its a financial company),and he believes its a generational thing because people my age (millennials) are more sensitive and don’t do well under pressure.
    – all the executive and management positions are occupied by men, and all associate positions are women. The room is divided in two, so the ladies (as they refer to the staff) are in on side, and the men on the other.
    – one of the executives is the CEO’s son, and he refers to him as “Dad”
    – there are no employee handbooks, guides, or manuals of any sort to guide onboarding staff. They mentioned they are too busy and have not been able to prepare those things, though the company has been on the market for over 30 years.
    – they expect someone to be hands-on and own the work with an entrepreneurial spirit, but they could not explain how training would be provided. On of the executives mentioned that his hands are too full and he can’t be holding anybody else’s hand. But if they don’t have their processes documented, how is one supposed to learn?
    – it seems like this company is making a lot of money, but the office is sort of run down. It gave me the feeling that everybody there works to bring the big bucks in, but the minimum is put into place to create a nice and welcoming environment.
    – the hiring manager (who is a new hire) was very quite; the CEO and his son took over the interview for most part
    – there is no HR
    – the interview was so intense and high pressure that I forgot to ask about salary range. I stayed there for 40 minutes and felt drained afterwards.

    If you can give me some perspective and feedback on how I can approach this offer, please chime in and leave a comment!

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Personally, I’d be approaching the offer by running the other way. This office sounds sexist, ageist, high-stress, disorganized, and dysfunctional.

    2. TCO*

      I agree with the others–the only “approach” is to stay far away unless you’re currently unemployed and desperate. They are doing you the favor of openly advertising how dysfunctional they are.

    3. Just Tea For Me, Thanks*

      It comes across as red flags to me. If you can, keep looking for another position! Best of luck to you!

    4. miyeritari*

      Do not join this company unless:

      – You have a serious, ongoing medical issue you need insurance for, that will not be made worse by a high-stress, toxic enviroment
      – It’s this or you will starve
      – It’s this or you will become homeless

    5. Chewy Mints*

      Thank you all for the feedback. I am currently employed, in a job that is not in my field. I have a horrendous commute, plus some other annoyances. This new offer is much closer to home and offer a more flexible schedule, but given my initial impressions and the feedback you gave me, I think is best to hang in there and keep looking. Also, I forgot to mention that the CEO’s son was the one who called me to offer the job, not the hiring manager.

    6. Mephyle*

      Better an employer that has no idea how dysfunctional they are, so they are completely open about it, than an employer who hides their dysfunction to get you in there under false pretenses.
      You’ve been handed the gift of seeing who they are, and a pretty good idea of what it would be like to work for them: take it and run away, far and fast.

    7. Elizabeth West*


      Seriously, I got to the third thing and was saying OUT LOUD, “No no no no no no noooooooooooooo.” If you think the interview drained you, imagine spending 40-50 hours a week there. Don’t do it!

    8. CS Rep by Day, Writer by Night*

      I’d beat my 5K personal best running time getting away from that place.

    9. Sam Foster*

      Echoing the run don’t walk sentiment. Unless you are on the verge of destitution this sounds horrible and soul killing.

    10. Cobol*

      Going to give a contrarian answer. I would run, and see you are too, which is good since just the interview drained you. But……

      This could be a good job for somebody else. It’s a small family run business. Some people love not having process and being able to just do what they think of as right.
      The flags.
      1) sexism. Ugh.
      2) The office furniture. How bad is it? Do they make money, or do they just say they make money? I’ve noticed even small gumption companies still patsy least competitively. Small companies that are barely hanging on don’t.

      One thing, and I’m thinking you are a few years out of school, I’ve worked with and for fortune 500 companies where you are expected to figure it out on your own with no meaningful training. You may not be ready for that, or you may not be capable of that. I’d try to figure that out in the next 2-3 years. If the later either stay put at one company, or look to a more recommended industry lime big finance (corporate not sales), healthcare, some nonprofit, or government.

      1. Chewy Mints*

        Thanks, I really appreciate the different point of view. The office looks like it’s from the 70’s. That’s not the problem, but there are visible damages on the ceilings and walls. No decor, just plain beige walls and cubicles where the ladies work.
        In my current job, I’m in a type of contract that after 4 years of employment I will get kicked-out, regardless of performance or if the project is still going on. I have one year left on my contract, and cannot stay even if another department wants to hire me. So I have one year to find a new job.
        I like your point about the work style. I am very curious and try to do things myself, but I like to have a point of reference and some basic understanding of the office, clients, projects. That’s what they couldn’t explain to me. So I think I’m getting uncomfortable with the sense of being thrown to the wolves and not have support from the team. That, and the fact that the CEO and his son seems to go over the hiring manager a lot. It’s a family business, so this might indeed be the nature of the beast.
        They wanted to discuss the details of the offer in person, but I asked for something in writing first. Should be getting it tomorrow; let’s see.

        1. Mephyle*

          We’ll be watching this space: please update, especially if there are some ‘interesting’ developments.

    11. Chewy Mints*

      A quick update. They sent me a standard employment contract, not an offer. They are offering what I bring home now after taxes, but no insurance. And half of pto. So that would be a major cut. It’s been a thought week at work and I’m so tempted to just leave, but I know I would be shooting myself in the foot to be impulsive about this. I’m not happy or excited about my current situation or this offer, so back to the drawing board. Thank you all!

  75. Integrity Snob*

    Ex-coworker finally let go (laid off for cost apparently) after we had an EEOC case where the primary complaint was racism, and the coworker admitted to it (and was still kept on staff for an addition year) AND worked in an area of HR.

    We will call her Grace… she applied with one resume, and when looking for a job while employed a few years ago updated her LinkedIn and resume (which she asked me to take a look at) with fabricated titles. For example, Grace had her own business with her partner for several years which overlapped a lot of employment because it was something small similar to running an Etsy shop for soap. She changed her title from Owner to Director of Teapot Engagement and used it to cover an employment gap (maternity). Grace also changed her title from what she was, Senior Teapot Engagement Coordinator to Director of Teapot Co. Human Resources.

    I only know this because Grace passed along a resume to a coworker I am friends with and she was asking for advice on how to respond. I feel obligated to let any company that may hire her know about her past, but I was only a junior employee to her. It’s also none of my business. People like this get their due, right? I don’t know why I’m so angry about this but I think it is unfair in an area of expertise that that takes a while to cultivate that people “cut to the front of the line”.

    1. nacho*

      I’d love to tell you that this will all be found out and she’l never be hired by anyone and spend the rest of her life asking people if they want fries with that, but there’s a decent chance that she won’t, or at the very least that a couple of the companies she applies for won’t find out about it.

      Yeah, it’s unfair, but so are a lot of things, and if you got angry about all of them then you’d never be happy. Just give it up and remember that it doesn’t affect you.

    2. Specialk9*

      The racism thing is a serious problem, but tweaking titles (since those to me sound like they’re in the same vein, and often internal titles don’t match external conventions) and using a side gig to smooth over a gap in employment, don’t seem to rise to the level of ‘anger’ and praying for the universe to punish her. It sounds like you’re legitimately mad about the racism, but the others sound like b eating crackers. I’d let it go mentally.

  76. The OG Anonsie*

    So let’s confess: what things do you do that make you the terrible or annoying coworker? Do you file your nails at your desk or mouth breathe or forget to reply to emails until people ask you many times or what?

      1. Opalescent Tree Shark*

        Same! (I also very occasionally steal people’s cream for my coffee, but only when I’m desperate)

    1. Allison*

      Sometimes I forget to hit “reply all.” My boss sends me emails and loops in another manager in the department so he’s informed of what’s going on with the project, but sometimes I only reply to her and he comes by my desk with a face full of panic going “did you get Jane’s email???” “yeah, sorry, forgot to include you in the reply.” “Can you forward me what you sent her?” (I only said “okay” or “yeah, I’ll get right on that” but whatever), “sure.” Then he stays in my cube, hovering behind me while I forward him the email, then goes “great, thanks” and leaves.

      And I sneeze loudly. Most days I don’t sneeze that much, as long as I’m good about taking my Claritin every day, but when I do sneeze it’s a powerful force and people say “bless you” in a super annoyed, “I’m just saying this because I have to but you’re pissing me off” tone.

      1. The OG Anonsie*

        My dad absolutely screams when he sneezes, and I guess it’s just what happens and he can’t help it but it does immediately annoy the crap out of me in a way that knowing it’s involuntary cannot remedy. But because he’s my dad and I’m not at work, instead of “bless you” I usually say “STOP YELLING”

        1. afiendishthingy*

          Oh man I had a scream-sneezer coworker for awhile. I know she wasn’t CONSCIOUSLY trying to scream but it is possible to stop doing that

        2. Allison*

          Oh man, I hate the scream-sneezes.

          When I talk about the loud sneezes, people always mention that some people add vocals to their sneezes and that’s what’s making them loud. I swear I’m not yelling or screaming or saying “aaah-choo” when I sneeze, it’s just a loud of air coming out at once.

      2. Emily S.*

        Related to loud sneezing, a colleague with a nearby office has a frequent and very loud COUGH. This is a deep, serious cough – and it continues throughout the day. The noise echoes through our whole front office.

        Luckily, it’s mostly seasonal, so it doesn’t happen all year, but geez.

      3. Chaordic One*

        OTOH, when I was in school we had an annoying teacher who was terminally lady-like. She had the most bizarrely delicate sneezes that I find it hard to believe that they were even real. It was like she was pretending to sneeze in an exaggerated lady-like southern belle style.

        1. Windchime*

          I used to work with someone who would painfully stifle her sneezes so that they barely happened at all. It literally sounded like she was trying to force the entire sneeze through her nose.

    2. Midwest Red Sox Fan*

      I’m a cube talker. To myself. Especially when I’m trying to figure out a particularly sticky problem.

    3. paul*

      I talk to myself and tend to jump if startled while I’m engrossed in something (I’ve actually bruised my shins this way).

      I also sneeze a lot. I take meds for allergies but they just ameliorate it, they don’t eliminate it. That’s the one that makes me feel the worst because I know it’s damn annoying but I also really can’t help it…and it isn’t like I can call in for hayfever all summer long. It can also make it hard to know if it’s just allergies or if I’m actually sick.

      1. Allison*

        I was sneezing yesterday and a coworker said “everyone’s sick this week . . .” I wasn’t sick! If I’d been sick I would have been out, that’s why we have sick days!

        1. paul*

          question: how can you always *tell*? I’ve had what I thought was allergies turn out to be an actual infection…seems like at least once a year. It always makes me mad.

          1. Emily S.*

            I had that happen last year, in spring. First I had hay fever for more than a month (runny nose, sneeze, cough etc.). Then, it turned into a bad sinus infection – and I realized I was sick when I noticed that I felt weak, and my symptoms had changed/worsened. When I went to a clinic, they said that sometimes, you can be more susceptible to infection if you’re already having issues, like from allergies. Luckily, with the sinus infection, antibiotics worked great – and I went back to just dealing with allergies.

          2. Allison*

            They say mucus is an indicator. Clear is fine, but green could signal an issue. I’ve been ignoring my green boogers though because I don’t seem to have other symptoms. If you have a fever or bad sinus pressure, then you should definitely see a doctor.

      2. Specialk9*

        Have you ever seen the 2nd episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun? They’re aliens in human form, and all of them get sick for the first time. They sneeze, and are startled and then do this hysterical kind of reaction.

    4. KatieKate*

      I’m a ranter. I”m getting better at noticing it and cutting myself off, but I can go on and on about traffic, weather, etc.

    5. Amber Rose*

      I talk to myself when I’m stressed. I also, in recent months, have caught myself just generally making noises. Like loud sighs when I sit down, or “wahhh” when I’m busy and rushing around. And tapping my nails/fingers on the desk.

      I don’t feel overmuch guilt though because my neighbor on my right is at least 1000 times more annoying, and the lunchroom with the foozball table is to my left. :|

    6. SQL Coder Cat*

      When I’m really into my work, I sing along with the music in my headphones. We are in a semi-open office plan and my co-workers tease me about it quite a bit- but they also ask me for artists/song titles, so it must not be too bad I hope?

    7. Margali*

      I send emails, but if I run into the person 10 minutes later in the break room, sometimes I’ll try to get an in-person answer.

    8. Tris Prior*

      I have allergies and at this time of year, even with meds, I am going to be blowing my nose, sneezing, and coughing sometimes. I hate being That Person and I try to do all the above as quietly as possible but I’m sure I’m annoying people. Haven’t yet found a med that completely gets rid of all symptoms.

    9. Princess Carolyn*

      Definitely guilty of coming over to ask for one thing and wasting 15 minutes chatting. Also prone to negativity if I’m not careful.

    10. Natalie*

      I listen to podcasts or music roughly 100% of the time, so I’m sure I make random noises that I’m unaware of. I’ve definitely had to turn a podcast off because I was laughing too much and I was sure it would be annoying if anyone overheard me.

      I also type super loud.

    11. Can't Sit Still*

      I fidget with my footrest when I’m stressed. Thump! Thump! Thump! I try to push it out of the way so I won’t be tempted, but I usually don’t notice until I’ve done it a couple of times.

    12. Elizabeth H.*

      I used to walk around my office barefoot a lot. I don’t here bc it’s more . . . open to the building? I don’t know but I would like to. I also get up and down a lot. I sit with my side/back to a service window (someone else, who staffs the window, sits in front of it, it’s not me staffing it. Our office is an open-feel rectangular space and my desk is in the upper right corner facing the wall, and the service window is on the lower left corner, on the other end of the wall my back is toward) and I jump startle a lot when someone comes to address me which I think is probably annoying to them. I can’t help it! Last time one of my coworkers suggested that I turn my desk around so that I wouldn’t be sitting with my back to the door, but I prefer it this way so much more because whoever comes to the services window is out of my line of sight and I can ignore it.

    13. DDJ*

      I’m a whistler. I’ll find myself do it when I’m walking down the hallway or in the stairwells. I don’t whistle while I’m sitting at my desk, it’s just a walking thing. I do it when I walk down the street, too. When I notice I’m doing it I’ll cut it out, but a lot of the time I don’t realize it’s happening.

      My inlaws poke a bit of fun at me for it. No one at work has ever said anything.

      I also type really loudly. I’m a fast typer, but I learned to type mostly on an older typewriter and I also play the piano, so my fingers don’t hit the keys delicately. I realize that if I’m drafting a really long email, it’s probably really obnoxious to anyone who can hear me (thankfully I’m in an office now so I’m hoping it’s not so hard on my coworkers!).

    14. Elizabeth West*

      –I talk to myself sometimes–it’s a habit from talking through dialogue, so I tend to talk through tasks. I try not to.

      –I chat. Too much. Also trying to mitigate this.

      –I complain. Ditto.

      –If there’s a pen around, I will click it.

    15. De Minimis*

      I probably loiter around other people’s desks too much. I try to not to socialize more than once or so per day and worry that I bother people but they are too polite to tell me.
      I like visiting with my coworkers on the other floor but worry that I’m the person that they want to avoid. I am pretty isolated in my department [people rarely talk, and I have in common with the people on the other floor.]

    16. Canadian Natasha*

      Oh I know this one bugs people:
      I leave my bowl used for oatmeal in the break room sink to soak for part or most of the day. (Break is not long enough to eat and clean so I wait to wash it til the next break I’m in that room)

    17. Thlayli*

      What’s wrong with filing your nails at your desk? I do that. My coworker is always borrowing my nail file.

  77. anon1*

    Reported a sexual predator in my office to a senior official that I trust. Feeling nervous but know that it was the right thing to do. Thank you to everyone from Wednesday’s security guard post for giving me the courage to do it.

    1. Effie, who is herself, and is moving forward without self judgement*

      Keep breathing through the nervousness! So glad you went for it.