open thread – October 27-28, 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.

{ 1,752 comments… read them below }

  1. constipated accountant*

    How do you break up with a bad recruiter? Or is that a bad idea?

    I’m job searching and it seems to be an employee’s market for someone with my background and experience. One particular recruiter that I’ve worked with off and on for about 3 years, has been exceptionally unpleasant. I have continued to work with him though because he is at a very large recruiting firms and has presented me with some promising job opportunities. But he’s been so pushy on any job I show a slight interest in and I don’t feel like he’s listening to what I really want. I want to just end our professional relationship, and so far ignoring his calls and emails isn’t making them go away. Any tips on what to say exactly? Or is it a bad idea in case he has a job that maybe I actually want? There are plenty of other large recruiting firms that have also shown interest in me, and I don’t think cutting ties with this one is a bad idea, but I’m interested to hear everyone’s thoughts.

    1. neverjaunty*

      Unpleaaant, pushy recruiters are bad at their jobs. A jerk is far less likely to hear about good jobs to pass on to you. And you already know that he doesn’t have a fair sense of whether a job would be a good fit for you, he’s just pushing on you so he gets his cut. Not only should you drop him because he’s annoying, he just isn’t going to help you as much as a recruiter with soft skills.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Drop him.

      Just say “thanks for your help, but I don’t need any additional assistance.”

    3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

      This sounds a bit like trying to decide when to quit playing the slot machines at a casino. Yes, if I play one more game I might win the jackpot. But on the other hand I’ve already spent all the money I said I’d spend here.

      What are the odds that he will be the only one to hear about the one true perfect job for you? Probably pretty low, so I’d tell him that you’ve decided you don’t need his services and don’t feel guilty about it.

      1. Not Tom, just Petty*

        What’s that called? fallacy of sunken investment?
        Because, yeah, that’s what’s going on here.
        If he’s annoying you, who are paying for his services, imagine the effect he has on people who didn’t really ask for his help.

        1. constipated accountant*

          Good point, but to be clear, I am not paying for his services. He gets paid from clients by placing candidates.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              Yes, at least half the time that I run across the sunk cost fallacy it’s time and effort, no money involved.

    4. hbc*

      You could try something like “You’ve found me some good jobs and I’d like to keep working with you, but you’re going to have to listen when I say a job isn’t for me. No means no.” I’d say there’s at least a 50% chance he’ll drop you or you’ll still have to cut him off for continuing to be a jerk, but you lose nothing by giving him the boundaries of your working relationship. I’ve absolutely trained some people to know that their high pressure tactics have the opposite effect they’re intending.

    5. Mike C.*

      I’m really skeptical of the advice that goes around saying that you have to treat recruiters with kid gloves regardless of how terrible they are because “you might have to work with them in the future”. That sort of advice doesn’t cut it in plenty of other areas in the professional world, after all.

      If he’s going to suck at his job, then he needs to go. It’s just business after all.

    6. Adlib*

      Usually they leave me alone if I just tell them I’m not looking any more. That at least gets them to back off to very occasional check-in calls.

      1. constipated accountant*

        I’ve talked to a few people in his office and they seem pretty much the same. I’d rather just stick to different recruiting companies.

    7. Terri*

      I’m a consultant and run across a frightening amount of terrible recruiters, one of which I just decided to put a filter on (email and phone) because she was pretty clueless and without tact.

      Nevertheless, if you want to break up with this recruiter and he isn’t getting a clue, you can also call his agency and say that you’d like to be either assigned to another recruiter at the agency or that you’d like to be removed from the contact list.

      And, it’s in your best interest to be in contact with recruiters that you feel comfortable with. Remember, they’re making money off you. There’s no rule that you can’t work with several recruiters at a time.

    8. Gadfly*

      How about telling them “We’ve been working together for three years and we don’t seem to be a good fit. I’m going to try something different and work with someone else for a while. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll give you a call, but I need to do something new at this point.”

  2. Catalin*

    Taking a lunch break: normal, or not normal? Is it a 15, 30, hour long thing and does it always happen for you in your offices?

    1. Catalin*

      I ask because I’ve worked jobs where I was forced to take an hour lunch, a job where a thirty minute lunch break was built into our time (whether we took it or not), and then my current position where lunch is a protein bar while typing at my desk so I work 8 hours straight and go home. (Note, that’s my strong preference. I just don’t want/need a midday break and frankly things here don’t slow down.)

      1. Not Tom, just Petty*

        One of my sisters hates eating at work, like the break room or going out, it’s not relaxing to her. She doesn’t recharge or refresh. She would rather breakfast at home, work, go home and have dinner. So you are definitely not the only one.
        If you are working 9-5, a real 8 hours, it should be up to you. If you are scheduled 8-5 and it’s expected you take a 1 hour break (salary non-exempt) then it might be an issue with your company.

        1. Say what, now?*

          California for instance. If you are non-exempt and don’t take a lunch break it’s automatic overtime. This could land you in hot water with your employer when they suddenly see you costing them more. There was a case like this a few years ago where a woman was fired because she didn’t take a lunch and it was state-regulated.

      2. Been There, Done That*

        My state has laws regarding lunch breaks and I need a meal in the middle of the day. I usually leave the office; if I were at my desk “just eating” (i.e., doing nothing), my boss would expect me to work in between bites even though my lunch hour is unpaid.

    2. Murphy*

      There are many who eat at their desk, but breaks are not uncommon, particularly among the younger people. There are sometimes small groups in the break room, or outside if it’s seasonable. Sometimes people will go out to get something and then eat at their desk too. When people take breaks, they seem to be half hour or an hour, depending. On special occasions, people will go out and be gone longer.

    3. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

      Oh my god, YES!
      (It’s even mandated by law in my country!)

      I don’t take an hour every day but generally around 30-45 minutes at least.

    4. CatCat*

      Normal. Most people that take them here are 30-60 mins.

      Personally, I usually just eat at my desk, but I could go somewhere else if I wanted to. I prefer to take short walk breaks a few times per day rather than a longer lunch break in the middle.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’ve always been exempt except for a few retail jobs, so I don’t have a set or even mandatory lunch break. However, I have always taken a break to eat. I don’t usually leave my desk, but I rarely work while I’m eating. If I’m super busy, I might take only 10 minutes, or I might do 5 minutes of eating, 10 minutes of work, 5 more minutes eating. I sometimes eat if I’m listening in on a conference call.

      One thing I don’t do is turn people away because I’m eating. I might say, “I’ll get on that as soon as I finish this salad,” but generally I’m available.

    6. SCtoDC*

      Exempt and non-exempt staff are all given an hour for lunch. I’m exempt, and I try to step away from my desk for at least 30 minutes every day. I usually eat at my desk and then use my time to go for a walk to the Capitol. There are really busy days where I’m just not able to walk away, but those are pretty rare.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Lunch happens when I am hungry and not otherwise occupied. Usually at my desk. Sometimes I bring in food for the students and volunteers and we eat together. About once a semester I go off campus with a few peers.

    7. EddieSherbert*

      My office has a mix (we’re all salaried) – some people eat at their desk and don’t take a break, some people eat at their desk and workout over lunch, some people run out briefly, some do a full hour or more…

      I take about an hour (but I have a dog I have to go let out and give attention to!).

    8. Lil Fidget*

      Office job here. Our non-exempt workers are required to take a 30 minute lunch break. Most take it in the break room or run errands since they don’t want to be pulled into work stuff when they’re not paid for it (fair. I actually thing this system is stupid). Non-exempt workers like me usually eat lunch at their desk and work through it – are responsive to inquiries, emails, phone calls during this time. If I really need to clear my head I go out and get lunch, but have to use my judgement about how long I can reasonably be gone. If I was gone every day for an hour in the middle of the day it would really raise eyebrows here.

    9. KK*

      I take an hour lunch break every day. I’m required to do so. I’d rather take a 30 minute lunch break and leave 30 minutes earlier.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        I have always hated that system! I think it should be the employees choice if they want to work through lunch and leave earlier, or not. A mandatory lunch is kind of yick to me. Plus I always ended up getting sucked into something anyway, so it felt like just a way for them to pay me less.

        1. KK*

          I hate it too! There’s no reason for my booty to be in my chair from 4:00-4:30, when I could just take a shorter lunch and leave at 4:00 (and beat the traffic!)

        2. Here we go again*

          Some states do require a lunch break. In theory, I agree with you, but in practicality, I could see certain industries abusing non-mandatory lunch breaks.

        3. Nervous About This*

          The reason it’s mandatory is because if it isn’t, companies often expect workers not to take it, whether they want to or not. I know if it weren’t hard core mandatory, my job would not be providing lunch breaks at all. And if allowing a lunch break was mandatory, but taking it wasn’t, my managers would definitely look down on and give fewer hours to any employee who took lunch breaks. So the State put its foot down.

        4. Me Again*

          In my state, I can waive it with a form. One place I worked asked us to, but fed up every meal and snacks, so we were OK with it. It is a good system.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      Most of the office jobs I’ve had gave an hour unpaid lunch break. Retail, food, and factory work–a half hour. I’d rather have an hour. At OldExjob, I used my lunch breaks to write. My state does not have mandated breaks, so at Exjob I skipped lunch and just took a couple of breaks in the morning and afternoon so I could work 8:30-4:30 and avoid the worst of the rush hour traffic.

    11. LaurenB*

      Normal in my office. We have an onsite gym (it’s a college) and staff members are strongly encouraged to take part in lunchtime fitness activities. We get a half hour paid and a half-hour unpaid break, so most people just take an hour at lunch.

    12. TotesMaGoats*

      Depends on the day. Super busy-eating at my desk. Not so much-30-45 minutes with the lunch group in the office of the boss.

      Today? Hitting up the Greek Food and Culture Festival that I can see from my office window. SCORE!

    13. paul*

      ours is a default of an hour, and it’s pretty normal to take it. You can certainly move it around a bit or skip it sometimes, but you have to arrange for coverage.

    14. Mints*

      I’m in an office but most people are hourly so we need a half hour by law (California). Most people take an hour though and the leaving vs desk vs break room varies a lot

    15. Dawn*

      My company expects us to be here at least 8.5 hours, including a lunch break. I’m salary so whether I really take a lunch is up to me. I usually take about 45 minutes. I figure my colleagues all take smoke breaks, so I can have a slightly longer lunch.

    16. Tableau Wizard*

      I eat lunch at my desk and usually don’t count it against my 8 hours. So i’ll get in around 8, eat lunch around noon – usually eating while working or discussing work stuff with coworkers, lasting 15ish minutes, and then leave around 4.

      1. Tableau Wizard*

        Once or twice a month, we’ll decide to go offsite for lunch – usually for a special occassion or an exceptionally bad day that we need to overcome. If we go offsite, it does usually last about an hour, but I’m salaried so I don’t necessarily stay late that day. It’ll all even out by the end of the week.

    17. Jadelyn*

      Half an hour minimum, by law (I live in California). Many people take a full hour, and at my current employer they don’t particularly care whether you do 30 or 60 minutes, as long as you take it by the end of your 5th hour of work (again, CA law) and fully clock out when you take it, and for tellers as long as the teller line stays covered sufficiently, it’s up to you. I choose to take 30 minutes because I eat quick, and I’d rather sleep an extra 30 minutes in the morning and still get to go home at 5, so I work 8:30-5 instead of 8-5 or 8:30-5:30.

      1. pumpkin spice.*

        I work at a job that doesn’t have set hours – I work in a technical role at a huge global software company, we have unlimited untracked PTO that we manage on our own and we don’t have set hours we’re supposed to work, no one manages my time or tells me what to do but I have certain responsibilities that mean I rarely take breaks other than running to the bathroom, grabbing a coffee or snack to take back to my desk, or stretching my legs when I need to. We have a project load that should theoretically take 40 hrs a week but most of us work 50+. Lunch break is abnormal where I work because many of us are on calls/video meetings mid-day every day because our location is in the middle time zone between bay area colleagues and India colleagues. I make over 6 figures and have plenty of time off that should (in theory) balance out my long work days. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t – but the money makes up for it. Lots of different types of jobs out there, no need to be baffled by something that’s different than yours!

    18. Beatrice*

      I used to never take a lunch break – I’d just eat a granola bar or something at my desk. I preferred to work without stopping. About six months ago, I got a dog, and started running home at lunch to let him out and eat an actual meal. It’s become a part of my day that I look forward to.

      About once a month, someone schedules a meeting I can’t miss over the lunch hour (grr). Then, I often wind up skipping the meal (unless lunch is provided at the meeting, but it often isn’t, double grr), and just taking 20 minutes at some point in the middle of the day to run home and let the dog out.

    19. Interested Bystander*

      I take a lunch break about once every other week. If I work through lunch, it means less evening overtime, and I’m exempt, so it’s not even paid overtime.

    20. AdAgencyChick*

      It’s normal, but that doesn’t mean people respect it. Can’t count how many meeting requests I’ve declined because if I accepted, I’d have meetings booked from 12-3 and none of them provide food.

      Depending on how much political capital I have with the person whose meeting I’m declining, I’ll either tell them flat out it’s because I need to eat, or just say “I’m not free at that time” and offer other times that I am free.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Also, it’s sadly normal in my line of work for some people — especially those in account management — to put off eating until 4 or 5 PM because of meetings. No way, Jose. I eat lunch by 2 or your copy doesn’t get written.

    21. Lynn*

      There’s a half hour unpaid built into our schedule, but we can take up to an hour since in our position we largely manage our own time and don’t take other breaks during the day. I usually don’t take a lunch break when I’m working from home – just snack at my desk – and I use it to run errands, take a walk, or shop when I’m working from the office.

    22. Persephone Mulberry*

      In my office we have the choice of working an 8 hour day with no formal lunch break or 8.5 hours with 30 minutes unpaid. I opt for the shorter day and grab a bite as my workload allows.

      (My state mandates that employers offer a lunch break but does not mandate that they be taken.)

      1. Decima Dewey*

        The City of Philadelphia explicitly says that employees can’t skip lunch and then go home a half hour or 45 minutes early. You’re supposed to take a lunch, and if you don’t, it’s on you. Some managers won’t let staff leave the branch during the 15 minute breaks we’re allowed (one in the morning and one in the afternoon).

        1. Bibliovore*

          Ah yes. My first library position we weren’t permitted to leave the building except on lunch break. I was having grade-school flashbacks.

    23. SMT*

      In my office I have an hour – sometimes I take less to leave early (with permission), and sometimes it goes longer if a few of us go out to eat (including my boss – it’s a small office). We don’t really have a break room, although sometimes people will sit in the conference room to eat together. I typically eat at my desk and watch a show on Hulu and/or work on some personal projects. Sometimes I use 30 minutes or so to change and go for a run or do a core workout near my desk while the office is empty.

    24. Zip Silver*

      I don’t eat lunch (or breakfast for that matter) but don’t expect my staff to only eat one meal a day because I know I’m weird. I normally give them an hour, but they’re all non exempt hourly, so I really don’t care how long they take so long as their work’s done and they don’t go into OT.

      1. Zip Silver*

        *unpaid lunch break, btw
        There’s no state legal guidance on breaks, which gives them a little more flexibility

    25. BlueWolf*

      I’m salaried, non-exempt with a set start and end time. My day includes an hour lunch, so I usually eat and then go for a walk for the rest of the time. I suppose there are times I could work through lunch (and log the extra time on my timesheet), but I haven’t really needed to do that. I personally like the break during the day to refresh and de-stress. Others in my department are salaried, exempt and sometimes work through lunch or take a short lunch if they have a lot of work.

    26. hermit crab*

      Definitely not the norm in my office! Some people take an actual break and eat lunch in the kitchen on a regular basis, but it’s more popular to eat at your desk while working so you can bill the time (or, if you are actually taking a break, to at least look like you are working/be available for urgent messages). Plus we work with people across a bunch of time zones, so I often have conference calls scheduled across normal lunch break times.

      A few times a year, I’ll go out for a sit-down lunch with coworkers, but it’s a special occasion thing like on someone’s first day.

    27. KatyO*

      Depends on the position. Hourly reps in our office have to clock out for a while hour lunch. Those of us that are salaried? It’s kind of a free for all.

    28. peggy*

      It should be normal, but for me and my coworkers, we’re too busy. We grab a salad or sandwich somewhere or grab our own food from the fridge and eat at our desks, mute/turn off our cameras for phone or video calls so we can eat while in meetings, etc. I know it shouldn’t be like this but if I take 30 min to take a walk or run an errand or read a book, I feel GUILTY for being away from my desk. It’s stupid. I work at least 50-60 hrs a week and feel guilty for taking time to myself between the hours of 8-8. Dumb, and it’s only hurting myself. The company would NEVER want us to be this way, but it’s dept. culture. No one takes a real lunch.

    29. D.W.*

      I take an hour break every day. I don’t always eat. Most days I use it to run errands, take a walk to just get out, or just sit with the sun on my face.

      I eat at my desk.

    30. Anonymous Engineer*

      It’s pretty split where I work – I’m an onsite contractor at a manufacturing facility (but I have an office job, and I’m salaried/exempt). There’s a good mix between people who go out for lunch regularly (typically under an hour) and people who eat at their desks. I usually eat at my desk (and work while doing so) so I can work a shorter day and get my long commute over earlier. About once a week I go out to run errands or have a group lunch with people on my project team.

    31. Princess Carolyn*

      Short answer: normal.

      At most of my jobs, I’ve been expected to hang around from 8 to 5, regardless of my lunch situation. Usually that meant taking about an hour for lunch; sometimes it meant eating at my desk and clocking 9 hours instead of 8. Working through lunch and leaving an hour early has never really been a thing at my offices.

    32. Annie Moose*

      I’m salaried/exempt and nobody cares. Some people in my office take a daily one-hour lunch. Some people always work through their lunches. I think most people are like me–we sometimes take a break, sometimes don’t, depending on how we feel and how soon we want to leave that day. If I do take a break, I usually don’t go over a half-hour.

      Today, for example, I ate at my desk. It’s raining outside and I didn’t wanna go out!

    33. Red Reader*

      Our schedules are written to be 8.5 hours to allow for a 30 minute lunch. In practice, sometimes I don’t take any lunch and just work the whole 8.5 and sometimes I take an hour. It balances out and nobody. minds.

    34. I'd rather be blue*

      Normal and healthy! We get 30-90 minutes at my current place of work, though I seem to be the only one who leaves to eat regularly. I don’t like eating at my desk and I really need some midday sun, exercise, and fresh air. It’s actually a pet peeve of mine when people never take proper breaks, as I feel like it makes it easier for management to justify cutting into that time and other boundary violating stuff related to hours. I also feel like it makes our contractors and other hourly temporary staff feel awkward about taking their proper breaks if they don’t see senior staff doing the same.

      I couldn’t work at a place that didn’t value and protect some sort of lunch break. I get really hangry and my brain will take a break mid-afternoon whether I want it to or not. I also deal with health issues that get worse if I don’t make time to eat a healthy, properly timed meal, get fresh air, and move around a little bit. I firmly believe that a proper break where people disconnect from the office for a bit actually helps with productivity and morale. Also, honestly, some of the worst people I’ve worked with have been the ones who chain themselves to their desks all day and night without proper breaks or meals. That behaviour tends to go hand-in-hand with office martyrs and others with poor work/life balance and boundaries.

    35. WellRed*

      Slight tangent: I have a coworker who was one of only 3 non-exempt employees at her last job. The company didn’t allow those employees to leave the work premises. I can’t remember the reasoning. If they forgot a lunch, a manager would go pick it up for them. Needless to say, she leaves the office every single day for lunch here.

    36. NeverNicky*

      Hour unpaid here (UK). There’s a very positive lunch culture in my (small) org – if you don’t leave your desk, you get, “Aren’t you going out today?” from at least one person.

      I work remotely now and try to take an hour myself but it doesn’t always happen as the office based team do phone as they can’t see me eating!

      Exceptionally if I am on a roll writing I work through lunch but I will take off the time later.

    37. Jake*

      That is so dependent on the office. I’ve worked non-exempt where I had a mandatory unpaid 1 hour lunch, an exempt position where a 30 minute lunch was expected but never really attainable, an exempt position where a 1 hour lunch was expected but was commonly interrupted by fires to put out, and an exempt position where lunch was a fantasy.

    38. KMB213*

      This has really varied by office for me – in my current position, I’m exempt and can somewhat make my own hours, but our “open hours” are M-F 8:30 – 5:30. We’re allowed to arrive a bit late or leave a bit early, but if we arrive late, we’re expected to stay late and vice versa. You’d think that would mean an hour lunch break is built in to our days and, according to official policy, it is, but, if it very frowned upon to be gone for an entire hour at lunch, or even to spend time at one’s desk eating, but not doing work for an hour. I usually take a half hour break anyway each day, but sometimes just take an hour and ignore my coworkers’ negative reactions (my boss is rarely in the office to see what we do for lunch). If it meant I could leave early, my preference could be to work through lunch, or at least to only take 30 minutes.

      In my most recent past job, I was exempt for part of the time and nonexempt for the rest – we worked 9:00-5:30, with an hour lunch built in (so, 37.5 hour weeks). The culture in that office was quite different, though, and nearly everyone took an hour for lunch, either leaving or eating at their desk (there wasn’t much of a break room). Longer lunches were common, as well. We were also allowed to forego lunch and leave early/come in late on an occasional basis. It really was a wonderful place to work in terms of schedule flexibility. I really miss it!

    39. QuiteContrary*

      I get an unpaid hour, so I always take it. I like to get away from the desk and, on nice days, the office, and go for walks, or read in the park right behind my building. If the weather is bad, then I sit in the lobby and read. I don’t get paid for that hour, I ain’t going to work during it.

      Fortunately for me, my boss doesn’t care if I occasionally tack that unpaid hour at the end of the day to leave early for doc appointments. I recently had surgery and have had several doc appointments, and since I started a brand new job right before the surgery, I had no time off. So any time I take off, I take unpaid, so it really helps if I can ‘save” that lunch hour to the end of the day, coupled with appointments scheduled at 4 or 4:30. “It’s a huge no-no with HR,” she told me, “so don’t let anyone know, but I don’t care if you do it.” Once I get all these follow-ups out of the way, I’ll stop doing it. I need that midday break, just to get away from the computer.

    40. Red*

      I insist on a lunch break, but I have an hourly job where I literally run around a hospital all day. My other coworkers just take lunch in-between calls to deliver meds for reasons I will never understand (because they complain bitterly about it when interrupted), but I absolutely insist on a lunch break. It’s required by law *and* our union contract, for crying out loud! In our job, we are expected to have a 30 minute lunch (required) and two 15 minute breaks (if time permits), and that’s exactly what I do. So, it’s not normal in my department, but I do it anyway and no one gives me any side-eye because they know they are entitled to the same.

    41. kas*

      I have an hour lunch but I usually always leave the office during that hour. I usually eat at my desk and then run errands or just park somewhere and chill for the hour. I do skip my lunch sometimes if I’m super busy – I’d rather skip lunch and leave on time instead of taking a lunch and then working late.

    42. Lemon Zinger*

      My state does not mandate lunch breaks so there are days when I am too busy to take a lunch and am forced to work through it. Although my department has a lunch “policy,” it is not a rule so we are not guaranteed any breaks. I work around 50 hours per week right now.

      When I can, I ALWAYS take an hour lunch and get away from the office if I feel like I need to.

    43. nacho*

      All of my jobs I’ve had scheduled lunch/dinner breaks: 30 minutes when I worked 8 hours, and either an hour or two separate half hours when I worked 10 hours.

      These are call center jobs though, where everything’s scheduled. I don’t know how it works in more flexible offices.

    44. MissDisplaced*

      Ugh! My job now is 8-5 with a supposed 1 hour lunch.
      But I find 1 hour too long! I’d rather do 30 minutes and leave at 4:30.

    45. Audiophile*

      My office automatically deducts a one hour lunch from each work day. I usually take a half hour. More recently, my co-workers and I have been grabbing lunch nearby and eating together.

  3. Frustrated Optimist*

    Has anyone ever heard of the concept of “keyword stacking,” for use on LinkedIn? Dr. Karen Gurney has an extensive web site and book on the subject. She is saying that by putting these keywords into your LinkedIn profile, employers (recruiters) will come to you (as opposed to you having to apply for jobs with them).

    I admit that I have not delved fully into it, but I think that’s in part because I am picking up that this is some kind of gimmick. She also talks about the “hidden job market” etc.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t know. I have a certain keyword in my LinkedIn profile that attracted a recruiter, and I really wasn’t interested. I think attracting recruiters on LinkedIn could lead to good opportunities, but it could also lead to a lot of spam.

    2. neverjaunty*

      I wonder where her degrees are from? Her website doesn’t say.

      This sure sounds like a gimmick.

      1. SC in NC*

        She received a BA from Ohio University although her LinkedIn page does not include in what discipline or year. Her MBA and PhD were awarded by Cleveland University in 2004 and 2012, respectively. Not the most prestigious school but certainly not a diploma mill.

    3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

      Sounds like a gimmick to me. Sort of like the old advice to put all the keywords from the job ad in white text at the bottom of your resume so that you make it through the automated system to a human.

      1. Say what, now?*

        The phrasing brought that advice immediately to mind for me too. Imagine the embarrassment of being asked a pointed question about those keywords and then having to admit that you just thought it would get attention to your profile to include them.

    4. Sigrid*

      Gimmick. The “hidden job market”, insofar as it exists, is jobs that are offered to people in the hiring manager’s network and never opened up for general applications. “Accessing the hidden job market” is working your network. Any kind of “trick” that promises to short circuit normal hiring practices in ways other than working your network is, at best, a gimmick, and more often a scam.

    5. Adlib*

      I’ve noticed some people put keywords in their intro. Specifically, I’ve seen two people do a list of specialities which strikes me as odd. I think most messages I’ve gotten about jobs have been related to my current or previous job titles, but that’s about it.

    6. FormerRecruiter*

      I used to be a Corporate Recruiter for a large international engineering firm, and there is some truth to using keywords in your profile. I used LinkedIn Recruiter a lot to source candidates for my open positions. I would often use industry keywords to search profiles and those with the most matches came up at the top of the list. I’d reach out to those people first before moving further down the list.

      Most of the Recruiters in my industry use LinkedIn Recruiter to find candidates because it is a highly competitive market with a limited amount of talent. It really depends on the industry you are in.

    7. BlueWolf*

      Hmm, interesting concept. I’ve noticed since I started a new position that I have gotten recruiter messages pretty regularly on LinkedIn. My particular position in this industry is apparently really in-demand in my area, so just by virtue of having my job title and basic job description I show up in a lot of searches. I didn’t make a conscious effort to use keywords though.

    8. CAA*

      Well sure, if I’m searching a site like Indeed or LinkedIn to find people for a position I’m trying to fill, I use the required skills from the job description as search terms. It is more likely that I will find you if you have mentioned those same skills somewhere in your profile. Hopefully that is obvious.

      I’m pretty flexible too. Unless I’m looking for experience in a very specific software package, I’ll search multiple times with as many different keywords as I can think of. E.g. I can look for various combinations of RDBMS, Oracle, SQL, MySQL, database performance tuning, big data, Hadoop, etc. There’s no need to contort your achievements to get all of the possible words that a recruiter might use onto your profile, and there’s especially no need to create a gigantic list of words that are mostly synonyms.

    9. Story Nurse*

      I don’t know from LinkedIn, but when I was advertising my freelance editing services on the Editorial Freelancers Association directory, my profile was basically all keywords (genres and types of books I edited, types of editing I did) and I got a ton of business from it, enough that I almost never had to go out and look for clients. I also still get recruiter emails about medical writing even though I haven’t done it in years, probably because my LinkedIn page lists my medical writing and editing experience. So it definitely does work for certain fields where skilled workers are in high demand, but I can’t imagine it’s universally applicable.

    10. Mandy*

      I am not actually familiar with her work, but it strongly reminds me of my days in SEO related work and all the gimmicks people heard would work to influence your search engine rankings. Some of the ideas were legit, some were outdated and some were just flat out scammy.

    11. Frustrated Optimist*

      Thanks, everyone for the feedback. It’s interesting to read all the different perspectives. I have her book – it was a free download for Kindle, and I think I need to read a little further into it. As I was saying, I’d been a little put off by the gimmicky feel to it, but maybe there are some useful hints. Thanks again!

      1. Say what, now?*

        Wow, you have patience. I doubt I would have given the benefit of the doubt once I felt the gimmick vibes. But for your patience and BS-sifting you might be rewarded with a truth nugget.

        1. Frustrated Optimist*

          I have had an extremely frustrating job search experience for almost 2.5 years. (Thankfully, I am still employed.) At this point, I feel like I can leave no (reasonable) stone unturned, so that’s where the patience comes in.

    12. Anon anon anon*

      I have seen a hiring manager do keyword searches on LinkedIn, looking for people with certain skills. It wasn’t anything mysterious. Just looking for people with experience in a certain combination of things.

      I didn’t look up the person you mentioned, but it sounds scammy.

    13. MillersSpring*

      Keyword stacking is ridiculous. Your LinkedIn profile should have well written descriptions of your responsibilities, achievements and skills. Use keywords naturally in those descriptions; a list of words and phrases tucked somewhere looks weird.

    14. Fact & Fiction*

      I start my new job tomorrow, returning to working as an SEO content writer for a large global company’s websites, and one of the books I’ve been reading to brush up on things is focused on Linkedin. The author does discuss making sure you use strong, relevant keywords that your clients (or recruiters) would sway for to find someone with your particular skill set. But like any GOOD online content writing, it must be relevant, natural, and gimmick-free.

  4. Jimbo*

    Anyone out there who work for temp agencies and recruiting firms? I have a question about submitting resumes in the recruiting agency’s online portal.

    What do you think of adding an additional page to a resume that details a short narrative about your strengths and specialties — similar to what a cover letter would serve in a traditional job application?

    All of the online portals for temp agencies and recruiting firms I’ve encountered ask for a resume only, which I’ve provided. But I am aware that my chronological style resume and recent jobs I’ve had might not fully highlight the types of jobs I can do, especially for temp and freelance work.

    For example, my resume is heavy on digital project management and web content management. Many of the temp and freelance positions are for web content editors, writers and print/web proofreaders. I am also willing to do support work for content migrations for ongoing web redesign projects. I’d love to get noticed for these as I’ve done these types of projects in the past and am willing to do them freelance.

    Any recruiters or temp agency staff out there willing to give some tips and feedback?

    1. Helpful*

      Could you add an objective-live statement at the top that highlights what you think they want to see? Or switch from a straight chronological resume to a “related experience” and “other experience” to highlight your strengths?

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      For temp assignments, the clients are typically looking for someone who already has the experience. In your situation, the easiest solution might be to send them two versions of your resume – one tailored for digital project mgmt and the other for web design projects. That way they can send whichever is most applicable to the position for review.

    3. TempRecruiter*

      Temp recruiter here – I tend to ignore cover letters, but I think a quick note on a separate page can be helpful. It probably depends on the agency you’re working with, but my agency does perm and temp staffing, so I love when there’s something indicating a candidate is looking specifically for temp work, especially if it’s maybe different than their resume (for example, an opera singer saying they are looking for temp receptionist work is more useful than just getting a resume for an opera singer with no idea what they’re looking for). I do also like the idea of 2 different versions of your resume, depending on the types of contract roles your targeting.

  5. Lauren*

    New job has a really well-stocked/organised stationery cupboard. I’m slightly obsessed with it.

    (Half the time I don’t actually need anything, I just…like looking at stationery. Well-meaning colleagues would come over and ask if I needed help finding something and I’d have to make something up. Awkward.)

    1. Rose*

      Just got our admin to start stocking my favorite erasable pen. I just love going into our supply cupboard and seeing all the neat bins of highlighters and Sharpies.

        1. JulieBulie*

          If you mean erasable pen (as opposed to erasable highlighter), I find that the black Eraser-Mate isn’t too bad. (The blue one doesn’t write as smoothly and doesn’t erase as well.)

        2. Rose*

          Oh yeah. Frixion. They’re not perfect, but they’re so much better than the ones I remember from school!

          (Though I find myself sometimes erasing not because my schedule changed, just because I didn’t like how I wrote it in my planner the first time.)

          1. Janelle*

            I have to write in pencil in my planner for this reason. Also because I am so OCD that if something changed I cannot handle it just being crossed out.

            1. It's-a-me*

              I love crossing things out, makes me feel like I’ve achieved something – even if the reality is that I made a mistake and wrote the same thing again on a separate line.

      1. Lilly Puddle*

        I second King Friday XIII’s question. Is it Frixion, or is there a better one out there? Someone else mentioned an Erasemate. Has anyone tried both and could give us a comparison?

        1. JulieBulie*

          Frixion is probably better, just because it’s much more recent, but I can’t say for sure myself. My only experience with Frixion was with the highlighters, and I didn’t like ’em, so didn’t try the pens.

    2. JulieBulie*

      Yeah. Some people like going to a museum to look at exhibits, or going to the zoo to look at animals. I like looking at office supplies. I wonder if there’s a market for office supply pr0n.

      1. King Friday XIII*

        There definitely is, especially if you’re into planners. There’s Etsy stores that sell all kinds of personalized printable layouts, folders and landing pages for binders, custom notebook covers…

        1. Rose*

          I’ve fallen hard for my Nomatic planner, which has time blocking and goal setting, and I actually have seen my numbers tick up at work in the six months I’ve been using it to manage my day. I’m a convert, but I sometimes wonder — is it unprofessional to have something so bright and colorful out on your desk? I’m not talking full-on Instagram layouts, but for instance, this week I have a sticker for pumpkin carving, a vampire for a Halloween party, and a dog bath sticker in between all my tasks for work.

          1. JulieBulie*

            I have a bunch of action figures and happy meal toys in my cube. They are bright and colorful. If you sat next to me, I’m pretty sure no one would notice your planner!

            It probably depends on where you work. But I would think more people would just say “Rose likes colorful stuff” and not think anything more of it.

            1. Rose*

              Hah! This is a good point: no one’s said anything about the Captain America Pop Funko on my desk, or the poster-size Matt Fraction Hawkeye comic … so yes, I’m probably good. :)

          2. Detective Amy Santiago*

            I don’t think there is anything inherently unprofessional about bright and colorful, but it probably depends on where you work. I’d think it might be a little inappropriate in like… IDK… a funeral home?

            I got the Sarah Scribbles planner. It’s amazing.

            1. Rose*

              I would love to have a thread of users here sharing 1) their planner set up and 2) what tips and tricks they used to stay organized. I assume the vast majority of AAM readers use Google or iCal or Exchange to manage their time, but there’s something deeply satisfying to me about plotting my week in pen and ink.

              1. King Friday XIII*

                You should bring it up on the weekend open thread! I’m a hardcore bullet journal guy myself and I love my fancy notebooks.

                1. Rose*

                  That might be a reason to stop by on a weekend! Usually I try very, very hard to disconnect from my devices when I leave the office on Friday so I can focus on my family, friends and dog.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

        I’m not sure if it’s updated all that often anymore, but check out diyplanner dot com. All kinds of amazing ideas on there the last time I looked.

    3. JD*

      Oh if only you could post a pic. I so love office/school supplies and organization. Mmm… Don’t even get me started on the smell of a new box of Crayons….not that I have any use from crayons anymore in life.

    4. Ninja*

      In that case, check out Bureau Direct – you can waste HOURS there looking at pen and inks (ask me how I know)!

      1. MissMaple*

        Oh dear, I know what I’ll be looking at snuggled up with my laptop this weekend! It’s a good thing I’m saving for a trip right now or this could be really dangerous for my newly organized work-at-home space :)

      2. Cristina in England*

        Ugh, the Bureau Direct website never works for me on iOS. I love Cult Pens though, and Jetpens.

    5. only acting normal*

      I am… jealous.
      Work has stationery cupboards, they were never fabulous, but recently they’ve cut way down on what is in them (money saving). Now there’s just a box of biros, a box of highlighters, some straggly elastic bands, generic sticky notes (yellow only), a few envelopes and some spiral bound reporters notebooks, plus a lot of empty shelf space. It’s really kind of depressing. :(

    6. Chaordic One*

      I can so relate. If the cupboard ever gets disorganized, I straighten everything and put it back in its place. I’ve been known to straighten shelves in stores when I’m shopping.

  6. Sunflower*

    How much do you tell your grandboss about your unhappiness at work esp.when you’re job hunting and there’s very little they could do to keep you? My grandboss has been here for a while and I really like her and trust her. My new boss started about 2 months ago. My grandboss would like to have a one-on-one check in to see how things have been going since my new boss started.

    Some things have come up that make me believe my new boss doesn’t trust me. I travel almost every week to a different office in a different city that I have asked to move to several times. Everyone thinks my job should be in this office, all my contacts are in the office but it’s been turned down for compensation reasons (higher cost of living). My boss said other people at the company think we are using work travel for personal reasons and she doesn’t want to give off any wrong ideas so to make it easier, we must now leave the office as soon as our work is done. Sometimes I work out of that office to the end of the day and grab dinner with a friend- i would never, ever charge things to the company that are not valid work charges. I am the only person who travels there this much and can’t help but take this personally and feel as if my integrity has been brought into question.

    This is really bothering me as I didn’t receive much information beyond the above. There are some other issues and the only thing at this point they could get me to do to stay is transfer me to this new city but I don’t think we would agree on salary. How do I bring this up in a way that doesn’t accuse or blame anyone? While I’m still here, I just want to feel like I don’t need to be watching my back and that my boss trusts me but at the same time, I hate giving up the one perk I feel I have at my job still.

    1. Lucky*

      Your Grandboss has asked for feedback, and you’re to the point where moving to other office is the only thing that will keep you in the job. I think you need to grab your chance and make your case to Grandboss. The timing is especially good, as she is probably working on finalizing her budget for the coming year, and could possibly find room for a cost-of-living increase for you.

    2. CatCat*

      I’m not sure I’m entirely following here.

      Is this right? You work in Office A, but travel often to Office B. You would prefer to work in Office B and requested it, but were turned down. Meanwhile, your boss has set up a rule that you need to leave Office B when your work is done (?) And then, what, I’m not sure (?) This is so other people don’t see you in the office longer than you should be in the office (?) (This is the part I am having a hard time following.) You only want to stay at the company if you can transfer to Office B.

      Assuming the above is the case, it seems the only wanting to stay if you can move to work in Office B is the main issue. I’m not sure what more there is to say here than stick with the facts. “As you know, I travel to Office B frequently for [X, Y, Z business reasons] and was disappointed that my request to transfer there was turned down. I’m also finding the new travel rules frustrating because they make me feel that that I am not trusted to manage my travel time appropriately. I have always handled my work travel professionally and I hope if there is an actual problem, it would be addressed so I can be made aware and correct it.”

    3. Enough*

      I would certainly bring up this “other people at the company think we are using work travel for personal reasons”. It seems a little odd that this has become an issue only since the new manager started. This could then lead to discussion about transferring you and certainly give the Grandboss something to think about with the new boss and how he handles subordinate relationship.

    4. Argh!*

      Ugh “Other people” or “some people” never get identified and sometimes I wonder if it’s really one person made a snide remark while standing next to my boss in the washroom washing their hands.

      Something on your boss’s side: perhaps she doesn’t know you well and thinks having you around 40 hours a week will cement the relationship (though she may think her current insecurity will be a permanent thing, which it wouldn’t if she’s not insane).

      Has she come with you on one of your trips? That could help her see that the relationships there are also important & get a feel for the work you do there.

      1. Say what, now?*

        Yeah, this would be ideal. She could see that you have a valid work schedule, compare your expenses with the receipts that you turn in (to see that you didn’t charge anything to the company that shouldn’t have been) and get some personal introductions to the coworkers that she hasn’t had a chance to establish relationships with. Of course, this may not fly because many companies are limiting travel to save money.

        Your best bet, though, would be to frame it as, “I think it would be beneficial to everyone if you accompanied me to X so that you can get a feel for the operations we’re assisting with and the people behind those operations.” You could even suggest this to Grandboss so that she can push for it if she likes the idea.

  7. Nervous Accountant*

    I just wanted to provide a quick update from last weeks interview (where the owner of the company was way more interested in my company than in me). So the recruiter contacted me and said that he spoke to the owner, and as some people here were guessing, it was more out of cuirosity than anything else. They want me for the next and final step which is to meet with the tax manager who works under the owner. I was busy this week with jury duty, so I haven’t gotten back to him, but at this time I’m pretty certain that I don’t want this job–I wouldn’t mind interviewing again but it feels like a total waste of time and unethical to do that. I’m also worried about losing the recruiter as a good contact to have.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I think all the questions specifically about the company we’re curiosity, not the whole interview. Still, from last weeks description, it doesn’t seem like a great fit, I wouldn’t bother with the second interview.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          Argh, WHY does autocorrect always change “were” to “we’re”? Is it really unaware that “were” is a legitimate word?? (And yes it autocorrected every instance in this post too)

    1. CatCat*

      I think it’s weird that the recruiter keeps pushing this when you’ve already turned it down. I’d be really miffed about that and that the owner of the company did a bad interview and only interviewed me for “curiosity.” Forget that noise. Why would it be a serious interview the second time? How is this recruiter a good contact if he’s not listening to what you want and pushing you at a company like this?

    2. Mephyle*

      I don’t see any particular reason to the owner’s story. Sure, it might have been curiosity, but if it was something more nefarious, can we expect that he would admit it? He might have been telling the truth, or he might not.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Just as employees have to make a good strong case to be hired, I think that employers have to make a good strong case for employees to join their firm.

      I think it would be fine to say that you did not get a sense of how you would fit in to that company, the culture and the direction.

      This is like the guy that asks a out and then spends the whole date asking about her best friend. This employer is more interested in your employer than he is interested in your application for employment.

  8. Rose*

    The letter this week from the nonprofit employee struggling to make ends meet (and thoughtful comments from Agatha_31 about how hard it is to break the cycle of poverty) has me thinking about a situation in my own office.

    I, too, work for a nonprofit that’s mission-driven. My pay, as a full-time employee with eight years of experience, is pretty decent (and the benefits are incredible). I was lucky enough to graduate from college without any debt, and I bought my house at just the right time, as the cost of housing has skyrocketed in our city in the past three years. I’m able to afford everything I need and most of what I want.

    Entry-level employees — especially part-timers and contractors trying to break into a niche industry — aren’t as lucky. (Oh, the days of making $23K a year, I don’t miss you.) Most of the people in these lower paid positions work service industry jobs to make ends meet. Recently, we hired a young woman who’d been doing contract work into a part-time position that will become full-time in 12-18 months. But in the meantime, she’s really struggling. There was a fire at her apartment earlier this month, and she’s currently couch surfing, crashing with a different friend every night, trying to save up enough for another security deposit, as it was her roommate that accidentally started the fire. She’s still producing quality work, but I can tell she’s stressed and exhausted, as anyone would be.

    I’m in a position to offer her a place to stay until she gets back on her feet, as I’m about to head out of town for a month-long vacation. I’m pretty sure she would accept, as our social circles overlap slightly — she waitressed with a very good friend of mine and now bartends at our favorite restaurant. I know the advice here is usually not to co-mingle work and housing, but given the circumstances, it feels very much like the right thing to do. Thoughts?

    1. Helpful*

      If it were me, I would ask her to house-sit while I’m gone. Good deed done, with an expectation of a deadline so she can’t overstay a welcome.

      1. FormerOP*

        Second this. A friend once asked me to housesit for her. I needed a place for about a weekend between living situations and she asked *me* do to *her* the favor of housesitting. It was kind, graceful and very helpful to me. I got a free place to stay without feeling like a charity case (and maybe she actually likes having a house sitter, I dunno.)

      2. EddieSherbert*


        This is definitely mingling (maybe in a way Alison wouldn’t recommend) but I’d feel the same way as you… if she seems like a decent trustworthy person having a tough time… I’d want to offer the same thing!

        There’s just the normal concerns about if she messes something up or owed you rent/utility money would that spill over into work?

        But housesitting seems like a decent compromise to me – there’s an expectation of “this isn’t your home so don’t make a crazy mess and move everything” with a deadline for how long she can stay.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think normal rules on boundaries can get suspended when someone is homeless from a fire! If you know her to be trustworthy and responsible, I think asking her to house-sit is a really nice idea.

          1. Rose*

            The only complication with house sitting — as that’s my instinct, too! — is that my partner is technically still going to be in town for the first week, albeit so busy hitting a production deadline on a podcast that she’s unlikely to be home much. (My partner, btw, thinks that we should absolutely invite her to stay with us, as we both what a privileged position we’re in to even be able to offer.) I’m thinking of saying, “Phoebe, we could really use a house sitter next month while we’re out of town. You’d be welcome to move into the guest room now, if that would be helpful.”

            1. Marzipan*

              Well, and also, that gives her a bit of run-in time prior to being the actual house-sitter, where she can learn the quirks of how stuff works in your house, when to put the bins out, what the goldfish’s feeding schedule is, whatever. So it’s practical, too.

            2. Southern Ladybug*

              I like this phrasing as well. And I agree that in this situation the blurring of boundaries are warranted! And house sitting does make it more time limited if needed.

              I wish her the best and hope the arrangement works out.

            3. Elizabeth H.*

              That sounds like the most perfect working. You are so lucky to be in this great position where you can help our your coworker AND have a housesitter you know and like! The feeling of being able to help someone out is so rewarding.
              If your coworker feels uncomfortable about staying in your house before the “housesitting” period officially begins (and it seems like she wouldn’t have much reason to feel uncomfortable, but who knows) she can easily say that she already has planned to stay with a friend for that period.

      3. MechanicalPencil*

        Exactly, and that way it feels like she’s doing you the favor and not the other way around. I don’t like accepting help from others (it’s actually a fault of mine). So if I felt like I was doing a service for you, I would feel better-ish about accepting.

        1. BenAdminGeek*

          Yes, I like this as well for the same reason. You are in a sense offering charity, but in a way that communicates that it’s for your mutual benefit. And then if she doesn’t want that burden, she has more ways to get out of it- “Oh, I’m too flighty for that”, etc.

      4. Artemesia*

        I’d ask her to housesit– and mention that you generally don’t like to mix business and social/home life but this seems like a win win — it would make you feel more comfortable having someone in your home for this month and would give her a month’s break from couch surfing. You are making an exception this one time. I would also be very explicit about the ‘rules’ e.g. guests, eating your food etc. I would pay the utilities and clear a couple of shelves in the refrigerator so she could store her own food.

        I had graduate students live in my home several times for 3 mos. Their only real obligation was caring for the cat — I paid utilities but they didn’t pay rent. One student was getting married in December and we were gone all fall, so it gave her free housing that month which worked out for her and gave us the security of having someone in the house. I was fine with guests for dinner or whatever but not big parties and never had any problems. I did lock our bedroom and put sensitive files and stuff there. I am sure they could have jiggered the crappy bedroom door lock but have no evidence they did. They had 3 other bedrooms to choose from and were free to use anything in the kitchen. The one thing I would do especially with a work subordinate is to secure personal papers of all sorts. They should be locked up. The other thing to secure is medications. And of course anything personal you wouldn’t want someone you work with to see.

        It would be a very kind thing to do.

        1. Rose*

          And I have a house sitter! I just offered, and coworker said yes. (She apparently burst into very quiet tears after I left the office down the hall where she works; another coworker who probably overheard our conversation let me know by IM.) I just hope this brings her a little bit of relief in an incredibly difficult time. I’m not that much older than her — about five years — and I just hope she knows it really does get better!

          1. fposte*

            Yay! How nice that you can do this for her. And I really like Artemesia’s guidelines (my experience of crossing the streams is also, unsurprisingly, academia).

          2. Southern Ladybug*

            My office is dusty….

            I’m glad you are able to do this kindness for her. And for her to be helping you, too. Win win!

          3. GG Two shoes*

            I totally just teared up from this. I had a house fire my senior year (that i found out about while I was in the hospital, no less) and the generosity of my friends and classmates really helped me get through. You are doing a very generous act, she won’t forget it. :)

          4. Red*

            I just wanted to say, as someone who couch-surfed for about 2 years following an incredibly difficult personal clusterfudge, that an offer like that (where she feels grateful but also useful, as opposed to a burden/charity case) is so incredibly wonderful and empowering, and you are the best kind of person for it.

            And yes, it always does get better. I’m in a much better place in my life now. She will be fine :)

    2. fposte*

      How unbendable you find that mixing work and housing rule is a personal decision. It’s true that the safest plan is just never, ever to do it, but I think most of our decisions aren’t just ruled by what’s the least risky thing, and that the risk can be pretty darn low. I have a friend who’s done this a few times, and it’s been fine.

      I think asking her to house-sit seems like a reasonable idea. I think you should be clear to yourself before you invite her on what you’ll do if she can’t afford a place when you return, and you should have a sufficient enough idea of her personality to assess the likelihood of her refusing to leave (she could have a claim as a tenant at that point) and the level of risk to anything you value in your house.

      1. Rose*

        My state has a lot of protections for landlords if the property is owner-occupied, so I’m not worried about her leaving. I think I just wanted reassurance that it’s OK to tangle things a bit, especially when the circumstances are exceptional, as they are here.

    3. Master Bean Counter*

      At an old office we all had planned summer vacations. It worked out really well as the summer intern we hired ended up not having a place to stay. She went from one house sitting gig to another. The stars aligned that summer.

    4. c.m.*

      before letting anyone into your house for a longer stay please consider the laws of when a guest can become a tenant. depending where you live, a person can establish residency at your home just by getting mail addressed to them at your address. check out your state’s law.

    5. Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way!*

      Agree with phrasing as “house sitting” and extending her the invite. It’s a very kind thing to do and THANK YOU for being so considerate.

    6. Morning Glory*

      This was really lovely of you to do. I’m glad it all worked out, it brightened my day to read about it.

    7. Agatha_31*

      I’ve been trying to figure out what to say for a few days about this, because there’s so much *to* say but I’m so moved I don’t even know where to begin. So I’ll just say that I teared up reading through this discussion, and I’m tearing up again reading it through again. Thank you so much for being so thoughtful, both in so generously deciding to share your home with this woman, and for considering her feelings when deciding how best to make that offer.

  9. Nervous Accountant*

    in non-work work news…we have a Halloween party at work today, pretty exciting! complete with a costumes contest. Can’t wait!

    How are you and your company celebrating Halloween (if you do and enjoy it)?

    1. PepperVL*

      We have a Halloween party at work today, complete with costume contest too! I’m Daphne Blake from Scooby Doo. What did you dress up as?

        1. PepperVL*

          Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, Frederick Jones, Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, and Scoobert “Scooby” Doo.

      1. MommaTRex*

        I wish I worked with you! I’m going as Velma Dinkley! I bought the perfect sweater at a thrift store years ago, and I finally found a skirt this year.

        1. PepperVL*

          That would be awesome! A friend and I went to Dragon Con as Daphne and Velma a few years ago. Someday, I want to get the whole Scooby gang together.

      2. SpiderLadyCEO*

        So fun! Best friend’s company is doing a big halloween thing, and his team is Scooby Doo. He’ll be Fred.

    2. Amber Rose*

      At my last company, we had a costume contest and tiny pumpkin decorating contest. You know, those little three or four inch pumpkins? That was fun.

      At my current job though, nobody really does anything, which is kind of a shame.

    3. Cordelia Vorkosigan*

      We’re also having an office costume contest this Halloween. I’m going as Hermione Granger. Should be fun!

    4. KTMGee*

      We’re having our Halloween party today too. My company gets pretty serious; decorations, food, costumes. Plus, people are encouraged to bring kids/families, so we end up with a lot of cute little visitors from 3pm on. Not for everyone, but alot of people do participate and really seem to like it!

    5. Rose*

      Coworkers with kids (we have A LOT in the 6 and younger set) are bringing them in on Tuesday. I’m really excited. I love Halloween. I always give spooky books to my niece and nephews, so for the office, I have a goody basket — little sacks of candy, Halloween toys, a few beginner reader books — so they can pick whatever they want.

    6. Ms. Mad Scientist*

      We are also having a party! I’m not doing a costume, but I made a graveyard cake. Sheet cake with green grass icing, gravestones are sugar cutout cookies with spray silver icing, and Oreo cookie crumbs for fresh dirt. I also added a couple plastic zombies, one emerging from the dirt.

    7. Lucky*

      My company is in the retail sector where Halloween is our best/biggest sales season, so we go big on Halloween. Every department comes up with a costume & decor theme, and there is judging and prizes for individual and group costumes & overall theme. We have a potluck lunch, also with judging and prizes. People bring in their kids for trick-or-treating in the afternoon and basically no work gets done. That’s just Halloween day – the week leading up is also full of little fun things. I’m not usually big on the holiday, but we do it pretty fun here.

    8. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

      We do lunch and a costume contest. Ours is on Tuesday. I love Halloween, so I really enjoy seeing people get dressed up in my office who I think of as really professional/serious/buttoned up. The best costume last year was a Ghostbuster (but she left the company before I could befriend her…drat).

    9. MuseumMusings*

      I love Halloween, so I made sure to have our Fall Potluck fall on the Monday before – I’m bringing in themed food (cookies that look like fingers, creepy deviled eggs, etc.) and hope that others will do so as well! We do usually dress up for Halloween day as well. I’m bringing in candy!

      I also have been slowly spookifying my desk since September – it’s covered in bats (my favorite animal) and pumpkins now.

    10. GG Two shoes*

      We host a community Trunk or Treat. Our building isn’t in the best part of town (we’ve been at this location for 60 years- it was different when the building was built) so it’s really appreciated by the families as they don’t get events like that often.
      We had almost 300 kids! It’s voluntary, but over half of our office participates. Including all of our management team and the company president. It’s a good thing for morale too.

    11. TotesMaGoats*

      On Tuesday, kids from the elementary school down the street get walked down to our campus (we are urban setting) to trick or treat in our offices. It’s adorable!! The students do stuff, from a university activities perspective, but otherwise pretty low key.

    12. zora*

      Our main office has a happy hour-type party with decorations, and a few people wear costumes.

      I am the admin for a satellite office and we only have a few people here. I’m in this weird position where people always say they want us to do more culture stuff here, but most of the time when I suggest specific activities, people roll their eyes or just say they are too busy to participate. I am still struggling to figure out what people really want. I think people really do want to do those things, but they are stuck in this “Ugh, I have so much work to do” complainy place, and that’s their first reaction to everything, even though that’s not necessarily how they feel.

      So, anyway, I’m trying to figure out if we should do something still, maybe something low key like bringing treats on Tuesday.

    13. JeanB in NC*

      I work for a school and we have a Halloween parade every year (they walk around the school grounds). It’s freaking adorable! Especially the little ones (we start at 18 months).

    14. Nanc*

      We’re in a small town that has a kid’s parade downtown from 3-6. The kiddos parade from the library and stop at all the merchants to trick or treat. If we don’t have any client calls the boss lets us go so we can watch the fun.

    15. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Cubicle decorating contest and on actual Halloween we are allowed to dress up as long as the costume is appropriate for a work environment (i.e. no sexy anything, nothing super controversial, or overtly violent/gory). Plus we get donuts and cider.

    16. Liane*

      I am working a seasonal gig at one of the big Halloween stores. We are allowed to wear some of the costumes/accessories (except wigs of course!) and even carry props. I may bring my prop lightsaber today. I don’t want to bring it on one of my longer shifts as I cannot let that out of my hand/sight since it is one of the fancy replicas you can spin or even spar with. (Let’s hear it for college kids who know how to do Mother’s Day right!)

    17. Red Reader*

      My team is fully remote, so this weekend/beginning of next week, anybody who wants to has been invited to send me pictures of them, their kids, their pets, their decorations, whatever Halloween-y they want, and I will put together a “virtual Halloween parade” in powerpoint to send around. Fun for those who want to participate, easy to ignore for those who don’t. (I did this for the first time last year, and it was pretty popular :) )

      1. zora*

        This is a great idea! We have started adding a lot of remote people, and the central office has not done a great job so far of adjusting culture stuff to include them, I’ll have to see if I can get this idea started next year! Thanks!

        1. Red Reader*

          I also do a “virtual pitch-in” the week before Thanksgiving, where everyone who wants to contributes their favorite holiday recipe and I compile them and send them out. Last year I got a killer stuffing recipe for my Thanksgiving feast out of it :) And it’s not too late to get that going for this year!

    18. Opalescent Tree Shark*

      Everyone in my department is going as decorator crabs! (Well everyone who wants to be decorator crabs, there are a few going as other things and a few not participating. We would never pressure anyone.) We set aside some break time for our entry level employees to make crab shells (even those that didn’t want to dress up were welcome to come help decorate or just socialize with those who are decorating).

      We also challenge all the other departments to a costume contest. Pictures are being taken on Tuesday with the volunteers serving as impartial judges on Wednesday and Thursday. The winning department gets an ugly trophy and a pie from Costco.

    19. Windchime*

      We had a mini-pumpkin decorating contest. Boss supplied a mini pumpkin to everyone and almost everyone participated. We have everything from pretty to weird to clever. So much fun! They will be judged by an impartial person this weekend and there will be a small prize on Monday. Loads of fun!

    20. Blue Anne*

      I might bring in some Halloween treats on Tuesday. It’s a filing deadline for us. Not a lot happens other than that, though.

    21. Lemon Zinger*

      We are not celebrating in any way, thank goodness! I prefer to keep work and holiday celebrations separate.

  10. JobHunter*

    Going Anon for this one.
    I work for a County agency and am interested in applying for a job in another agency. Should I send my application from my work email or personal one? Normally I would never send an application from work email, but since I’m already a County employee I wasn’t sure which was best.

    1. Teapot Librarian*

      I’m going to say your personal email, and not during the business day. Our ethical guidelines say “don’t use your public position for private gain” and this would arguably fall into that category.

    2. PepperVL*

      I think it depends on if transferring agencies would count as an internal move as its for the same government, or an external move. If its internal, go ahead and use your work email. If its external, I wouldn’t. (Though please note that even internal stuff may be a no no when employed by the government.)

    3. extra anon today*

      Definitely do not use your work email! I work for a municipality and have been told in multiple ethics training sessions that this is a no no, even when applying internally. They will know you work for the county from your resume, and that’s enough.

    4. Footiepjs*

      As others have said, personal. If it’s an agency with the same county there will likely be a question that asks if you’re a current or former employee of the county so that information will be part of your application; not to mention it’s in your resume/work history.

    5. Joshua*

      Completely ignoring ethics and work email dynamics, but you should use your personal email just so you have a permanent record you control. If you end up leaving your current job you’ll lose access to that email account and you may be missing a crucial piece of correspondence a year down the road.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      You don’t want yourself in a position where someone can say you used county/government fund or resources for your own purposes.
      To be above reproach, definitely use your personal email. Happily, you can simply state that you already work in xyz and that would do the same job as showing a county agency email address.

  11. Murphy*

    I’m salaried nonexempt at at a state university. I’m a nursing mom. I have to clock in and clock out to keep track of my hours. I was chatting with some female co-workers (one who is younger with no kids, and one who is older and new to our organization). I mentioned that I don’t take lunch breaks anymore and I eat at my desk because pumping adds so much time to my day. They expressed surprise that I clock out to pump and suggested I talk to HR. I thought, of course I clock out to pump. It’s obviously not work time, why wouldn’t I clock out? Am I crazy? It’s about 45-50 minutes added on to my day, split into two, but that seems like a lot of nonwork time to get paid for.

    1. Normally A Lurker*

      I would talk to HR. At least at the company i currently work for, that’s paid time. I think your friends are right to have you ask.

      Worst case, they say no and you are where you started. Best case, they tell you yes, stop clocking out, and it’s 45 mins of pay that you get back per day.

    2. Sualah*

      I am hourly non-exempt and I absolutely did not clock out to pump, and neither do any of the coworkers I personally know who pumped. I kept up with my work, so maybe that’s why my boss didn’t say anything, but it did not even occur to me to clock out for that.

      1. Sualah*

        So you got me curious and I looked in our employee handbook and it says that to support nursing mothers, it considered as “break time” not “unpaid break time” (it is broken out very explicitly in our Meals and Breaks Period policy. It says you need to keep your manager in the loop for the frequency and duration of the breaks so business needs are covered, but that’s it. So I’d check into that, for sure.

        1. Murphy*

          Our documentation on the state HR website is not super helpful! It basically says that we should be entitled to the same paid breaks that anyone else is entitled to (but I can find no information on what, if any, paid breaks I am entitled to) and that if our time is in excess of that, we need to be allowed to use unpaid breaks.

          1. Sualah*

            Hmm, yeah, that’s not helpful. “Need to be allowed to use unpaid breaks” but that definitely doesn’t mean required to use unpaid breaks. Hopefully an actual person can help you out!

    3. SCtoDC*

      I would check-in with HR. For our non-exempt staff, they don’t have to count “breaks” that are under 20 or 25 minutes, so I would assume you don’t have to either.

      *I don’t think pumping counts as a break. It’s hard work!

        1. Murphy*

          I just assume that all government run organizations will allow me the bare minimum they are required to.

      1. fposte*

        Agree with the check with HR, but I don’t think how much work pumping is factors in here unless you’re giving the company the milk :-).

      2. Murphy*

        I know, right!

        I just assumed that since it wasn’t work, I had to clock out, just like any meal time or appointments, etc. I don’t think our HR rep is in today, but I’ll shoot her an email.

    4. Haley*

      You should definitely be contacting your HR to clarify the policy.

      There’s federal law on this – U.S. DOL website as a guideline, but depending on your state, there might be even more protection. An excerpt and link below:

      Does the break time have to be paid break time?
      ANSWER: Employers are not required under the FLSA to compensate nursing mothers for breaks taken for the purpose of expressing milk. However, where employers already provide compensated breaks, an employee who uses that break time to express milk must be compensated in the same way that other employees are compensated for break time. In addition, the FLSA’s general requirement that the employee must be completely relieved from duty or else the time must be compensated as work time applies. See Wage and Hour Division Fact Sheet #22, Hours Worked under the FLSA.

      1. Murphy*

        Yeah, my state’s website references “break time”, but I can’t find any info about what if any break time policy we have.

        Would be great if employers made this kind of information freely available instead of having to chase it down all the time.

        1. As Close As Breakfast*

          Try calling your local WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) office to see if they have information on legal requirements for your office if you can’t find it readily online. I briefly worked at a WIC office several years ago and they usually have a breastfeeding support office/group. They would likely know and/or have pamphlets or brochures with the laws for your area for the women in their program that were returning to work.

        2. MicroManagered*

          Have your googled “whatever university” and “breast milk” or “breast pump” or something? That’s how I find my employer’s (a state university) policies. It’s so much easier than the website!!

    5. Thlayli*

      Most jurisdictions actually have laws about what employers are required to do for nursing mothers. Look u the law before talking to HR.
      What is your job like? Is there any way you could continue to work while pumping? I had a hands free bra and a private office and I would just keep working while the pump did its thing. If you have a shared workspace there are nursing covers. Or you could combine lunch with pumping.

    6. MicroManagered*

      I work at a state university. I’m not HR but I work in an HR-adjacent department. I’d ask about this, but I’d probably start with your boss, maybe HR if you aren’t comfortable or think your boss is the type to apply rules to absurdity. I really think they’ll tell you not to clock out for this.

      You have a physical condition that requires some extra time and attention. Would you clock out for an extra-long restrooom visits or time to inject insulin or something? I think probably not. My employer is very liberal about accommodations like this….I think my boss would laugh at the notion of clocking out for something like this.

      Can’t hurt to ask.

  12. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

    (I’m the knitter from letter 2 in today’s short answers)

    And God, I just wanna go home and knit and not talk to anyone. I’ve worked 53 hours so far this week (and that is a lot for me, please no admonishments about how it’s not a lot compared to many others) including a 13-hour meeting yesterday, and a (so-far) 8 hour meeting today.

    I didn’t want to discuss anything, I just wanted to whine. haha ; )

    1. Teapot Librarian*

      Holy carp a thirteen hour meeting?? Not a thirteen hour day? I can’t even imagine how you are still even minimally functional. I hope you’re able to go home soon and knit and decompress!! (PS what are you knitting right now?)

      1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

        Nope, meeting…

        (I also have ADHD. God it’s been torture. But I guess it shows that my current medication regime is working – i wasn’t jumping around the room after 2 hours…!)

        1. Bibliovore*

          Oh, I so know what you are going through. I used to knit at least 3 hours a day between my subway commute and meetings. Once thing that may help. Learn calligraphy and take meeting notes in a nice hand.

        2. EddieSherbert*

          Okay, I DON’T have ADHD and I’d be jumping out of my skin after that long!

          I literally only fill my waterbottle up halfway so I have extra reasons to get up and move during the day to refill it. Haha.

      2. JD*

        This! I would be running in circles around the room screaming my head off. I can’t even sit for an hour without my body being in pain. This sounds like slow, painful torture to me.

        1. Some sort of management consultant*

          God, I know that feeling so well!!
          That’s one of the things that’s REALLY improved with ADHD medication.

          1. MommaTRex*

            Even on meds, I still find that I need to keep my hands busy. Hence, lots of doodles. Well, scribbling mostly. I can’t draw.

            1. Some sort of management consultant*

              We’ve been sitting 7 people (!!!) looking at a screen correcting wording, punctuation and formatting in a (admittedly very important) document.

              It’s basically my idea of hell.

          2. JD*

            I should say I cannot sit still for an hour do to being run over when i was younger. It physically kills me to sit still as it puts stress on some part of my body and hurts. Not due to lack of ability to pay attention…although I am not sure I could pay attention to ANYTHING for 13 straight hours.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Uggggggh that is way too much peopleing for me. I hope you can relax and knit this weekend and have some peace and quiet!

    3. Mike C.*

      No, 53 hours is a lot of time, regardless of industry.

      Also, how in the hell do you get anything done sitting in a meeting room for 8 to 13 hours? How does it not become like Lord of the Flies in there?

    4. Beancounter Eric*

      It’s not whining, it’s venting!! And you have every reason to do so.

      53 hours is a long week for anyone, and whomever plans your meetings needs to consider how low productivity falls when they run 8+hours.

      If I may ask, what are you knitting?

    5. RVA Cat*

      If they dare have those marathon meetings on Halloween – and they’re an office where people come in costume – you would be justified to come as Madame Defarge and knit while plotting their decapitations.

    6. Samiratou*

      53 hours plus a 13 hour meeting? How the heck do people find stuff to meet about for that long? (Let me guess, they don’t…). Seriously, as a fellow ADD sufferer, I’d put “let me knit in these interminably ridiculous meetings” in as an official accommodation.

        1. Beancounter Eric*

          You’ve got to be kidding….this is ridiculous.

          Questioning your career choice yet?? :-)

          If you imbibe, I’d suggest a Guinness once you are done. Actually, several may be in order at this point.

          Good luck!!

          1. Some sort of Management Consultant*

            I’ve had two beers and someone just found me a mini bottle of pink champagne… (!)

  13. Anonymous Educator*

    Yesterday, there was a letter about someone working in a non-profit worried about appearing to be in it just for the money.

    It reminded me of the 80s movie Gross Anatomy. In the film, Matt Modine’s character has to work during breaks at a hospital. His supervisor asks him “Dedicated or poor?” And his initial response is “Poor.” Later on, when Modine’s character goes back, his supervisor asks the question again, and Modine’s character responds “Dedicated,” at which point the supervisor walks away. Modine’s character follows up with “… and poor,” which makes the supervisor take him more seriously.

    Just curious as to what people’s fields or jobs are and whether they face that pressure to need the money and to be dedicated to the org or company’s mission.

    1. Me Again*

      I worked in community mental health and there was pressure to be both dedicated to the mission, but also embrace the low salary as somehow “purifying.” Of course 90% of my department was married to someone who made much more than we did. My boss even said to me once “Aren’t we lucky we have spouses that make money so we can do what we love?” I don’t think that is true. And I think it is terrible thing to say to a person with an MA and possible student debt who makes less than $35,000 a year in one of the craziest housing markets in the country. And who works 12+ hour days because the caseload is SO HIGH that you can’t get it done otherwise. No matter how much our spouses made, it was NOT an excuse for us to be paid so little. I don’t find low salaries purifying or morally correct. I did love that job. But it came with a heap of bull and I was not willing to deal with it for a low salary. Ugh. No wonder I quit.

      1. Artemesia*

        I am always fascinated by the idea that teachers, social workers, mental health workers etc should not be motivated by money and work for almost nothing but that CEOs can’t be attracted to those jobs unless they are paid 100 times what entry level workers are.

        1. Me Again*

          Well, they have real skills you see. The “skills” of direct line staff that went to graduate school and take CEUs every year aren’t real skills that need to be compensated of course. /s

      2. Rose*

        My colleagues in the first newsroom I worked in referred to their spouses as “patrons of journalism.” I wish community information gathering was a respected profession, but it’s not.

    2. EddieSherbert*

      Definitely a lot of hype for the company. We call it “drinking the company kool aid.” For example, “I can’t believe Fergus left, he seemed like he was really drinking the kool aid.”

      (my company is kind of known for paying less than average, but with above average benefits. I’d agree with this assessment.)

      1. Artemesia*

        I discovered in my last job that the ‘kool aid’ phrase was used a lot by younger workers and that most of them had no idea what its origins were. Was that just my little pond or has it become divorced from the horrifying meaning that originated it?

        1. Me Again*

          Most people my age (early 30s and younger) don’t seem to know. I know, but then, I like history and am fascinated by morbid things. And I know it wasn’t really Kool-aide at Jonestown, it was Flavor-Aid.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            I wasn’t around for the Jonestown stuff, but I did get real into Tales of the City in my early 20s, so I got really fascinated by everything happening in San Francisco in the 70s, which meant learning a lot about Jim Jones…

        2. The IT Manager*

          It has become completely divorced from its origins. Jonestown happened in 1978; I was 4. I know the origin but never think of it when I would say “drink the kool-aid” a very common phrase in the military. Jonestown is history for me not a horrifyingly real event that happened in my lifetime. And for many military members it’s happened before they were born.

          1. Anna*

            I’m the same age as you and I used to think the same way about the phrase, but then I watched a documentary about it, realized one of the few survivors are still alive and decided maybe I could say something else instead.

        3. Teapot Librarian*

          I only learned of its horrific origins a few years ago, and I’m at the tail end of Gen X.

        4. Elizabeth H.*

          I feel like I knew where the phrase originated from since I was old enough to learn about the history of Jonestown (although I remember being confused for a while if it actually referred to the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test type events). I’m 30. I know where it comes from, but I agree that it has become completely divorced from the meaning that originated it. It’s macabre but seems to me like it is a firm part of the colloquial lexicon. Imo Jonestown is poorly understood by many people of various ages.

        5. Rainy*

          I think a lot of people don’t know where the phrase came from or that it was motivated by a real event, especially younger people.

          I grew up in a cult and have a personal (some might say morbid) interest in American cults, so of course I know, but I don’t tend to assume that my knowledge base is universal.

        6. EddieSherbert*

          I had no idea and just had to google it – anddddd hopefully people are using it because they don’t know the origin, because turns out, that’s pretty awful. Oh dear.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve never, ever worked for dedication, except for my writing, which is at this point completely unpaid. I grew up middle class, but I’ve been poor my entire adult life. Part of this is because I have dyscalculia–I simply cannot get the jobs in the business field that pay a lot of money, as they involve extensive math (budgeting, payroll, data analysis, etc.). Only one time have I worked for a non-profit, and frankly, I don’t want to do that again.

      I read the letter, though not the comments, and I’m pretty much with that OP. You pay me and I will do the job to the best of my ability, but I’m not doing it because of any mission. It’s a job. It would be nice if I were paid to do all this damn writing and editing. Money is not a dirty word and people should be able to make a decent living.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        You pay me and I will do the job to the best of my ability, but I’m not doing it because of any mission

        I mean, it’s a business relationship. It’s not as if they’re going to pay you for not doing the work, so why would you do the work without getting paid?

        I’d honestly rather volunteer than get paid a pittance to be an “employee” who “believes in the mission.”

        1. justsomeone*

          Or worse – I ran into a situation recently where an organization was asking for volunteers to PAY to be part of a volunteer group.
          They wanted us to PAY THEM to volunteer our time.

          1. Planner Lady*

            This is actually quite common in cases where there is extensive training required to start volunteering, such as a crisis counselling line, or in cases where there are a lot of candidates but where the drop off rate can become very high, such as volunteering medical aid overseas.

            You’ll find that most organisations and agencies that require this have sound reasoning behind it.

    4. Queen of Cans & Jars*

      Oh my God, when I was a teacher, we were asked to make all kinds of sacrifices “for the children.” Like, you don’t want to come in early to be our morning crosswalk attendant? You really must not care that much about out the kids.

    5. MuseumPerson*

      In the museum field specifically, there’s a lot of pressure to be “passionate.” There’s some stigma around talking about salaries, unpaid internships, etc., because the benefits of working in a passion-driven field are supposed to outweigh the drawbacks of low pay. (There’s also an oversaturation of people with museum studies degrees, so the feeling is that if you complain about your pay, you’re easy to replace with someone who’ll be grateful for the job and not care about the check.)

      In my experience, conversations about pay and answering the questions the poster described the other day were kept pretty quiet and requests for raises were only very carefully addressed. I’ve also heard colleagues (generally the older ones, but not always) dismiss former coworkers who left to take new jobs as only taking the new position for the money, especially if that new position wasn’t in museums.

      There’s a great blog called Nonprofit AF that’s posted several times about paying nonprofit employees decent wages. He describes treating employees well as being just as important to the mission as anything else – how can you claim to be making the world a better place if the staff doing the work is struggling just as much as the people they’re trying to serve?

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        He describes treating employees well as being just as important to the mission as anything else – how can you claim to be making the world a better place if the staff doing the work is struggling just as much as the people they’re trying to serve?

        I fully agree. And I think the messaging around non-profit scrutiny needs to change, too. Employee salaries are not unnecessary overhead. They are a critical part of a non-profit’s operating at max efficiency, well, unless the CEO is being paid 20 times more than all the other employees…

      2. Lily Rowan*

        People who don’t understand that most of us are living off our salaries make me nuts! I’ve worked at nonprofits that gave lipservice to diversifying the field while only offering unpaid internships. Guess what that gets you? More upper-class people! Argh.

        And that just perpetuates the stereotype of young people living off their parents and women living off their husbands that makes people not respect the field overall!

      3. Buffy Summers*

        “He describes treating employees well as being just as important to the mission as anything else – how can you claim to be making the world a better place if the staff doing the work is struggling just as much as the people they’re trying to serve?”
        Wow you really hit the nail on the head for my workplace. We are a community action agency and more than half of our staff – our most important staff, the ones who actually work with the children on a day-to-day basis – are eligible for state benefits. We actually serve some of those staff with some of our programs for low-income families. It’s so sad, but we’re also heavily grant funded, so we have a very limited budget to work with. As much as we might want to, we can’t even come close to similar jobs in other places. Obviously we have a lot of turnover and it’s almost always for better money.
        It’s very demoralizing.

      4. Polaris*

        I have a degree in a related field – archives – which is also completely oversaturated, and after trying for several years without success to break into the industry (including several unpaid internships), I finally had to move to something unrelated in a completely different field in order to earn a paycheck that would allow me to actually live above the poverty line (barely; this city is expensive). The work I’m doing now is absolutely not something I’m enthusiastic about, but the work culture is decent, I get overtime pay if I need it, and the benefits are good.

      5. Footiepjs*

        That last paragraph tangentially reminds me a friend who worked for a labor union for a short stint that underpaid/overworked her and were really awful about accommodating her disability. I hate that sort of hypocrisy.

        Reminds me of Fight Against Slavery advertising for an unpaid internship.

    6. Jadelyn*

      I’m in HR at a social/economic-justice nonprofit CDFI. I’m both dedicated and poor, so to speak – my other half makes much better money than I do in a blue-collar skilled trade, thankfully, so we get by.

      There’s a lot of pressure at my org to hire people who aren’t “just in it for the money” and who are “mission-fit” for our cause, and our president always handwaves-off criticism of the salaries paid to lower-level staff and those of us pointing out that a lot of our CSRs are leaving for much better wages at for-profit banks by saying “If they leave for money reasons, then they weren’t the kind of mission-fit people we want anyway.” Which frankly makes me see red – it’s easy to say that when you’re making six figures, buddy, but when you have a choice between $13/hr at a credit union and $18/hr at a bank, and you’ve got rent to pay and kids to feed, it’s a no-brainer, and all it says about their commitment to the mission is that they won’t put the organization’s mission above their own literal survival and well-being. And if you’d blame them for doing that, you are a horrible person who shouldn’t be running an economic-justice organization.

      Ironically, many of our low-paid line staff who have kids qualify for state support programs for their kids. I kind of feel like if you talk a good game about helping people lift themselves out of poverty, but you pay poverty wages to your entry-level staff, many of whom come from the very communities we purport to be helping, you’re actively working against “the mission”.

    7. Mr. Rogers*

      I work in a field that’s notoriously high in prestige but low in pay, along with being nearly entirely based in one major expensive city. It is definitely expected that people work a lot of unpaid nights and weekends (though you can do a fair amount of that from home) on top of staying late at the office, and not complain about the money bc they’re in it for “love of the job.” One of my old bosses was bad in several ways, but on my first day he told me that because he knew the salary was not amazing, I should only work my actual hours and not stay late just to prove something. That meant a lot, especially with my hour long breaks!

      It means of course that my industry is also full of tons of people with inherited wealth, well off spouses, and little diversity. But nobody wants to pay more, so….

    8. A Teacher*

      High school teacher. We often get criticized for our pension (I don’t get social security) that we self fund and don’t have the option for a matching 403, amount of pay, and amount of hours. Reality: I have a full time job, coach, and work two part time jobs to make ends meet.

    9. Cedrus Libani*

      In my field (data science), there are two types of jobs – the ones where you’re helping cure cancer, and the ones where you’re helping people sell stuff. The latter pays easily twice as much, because people would rather be doing work where the mission makes them feel warm and fluffy. BUT. If you have a $100K job, moving to a $200K job honestly won’t change your life that much. Anyone using the “we pay you in good karma” line on someone who’s barely making ends meet…where’s the office hexer when you need them?

    10. AcademiaNut*

      Academia (STEM).

      There is definitely a strong “do it because you love it” attitude. But it’s also widely known that moving to industry will get you a lot more money. So being in it for the money would not be particularly logical.

      Generally, salaries once you get past grad school are sufficient to live on without privation. The only case I know of someone resorting to food banks involved a complicated international tax law situation which meant that they was supporting a family on ~40% less than the salary was supposed to be.

      Our particularly weakness is holding out for a permanent job, doing a series of two to five year limited term contracts, moving cities (or countries) every time you shift jobs, in the hopes that you’ll land a faculty or staff position.

    11. Maineiac*

      I survived almost entirely on “dedication” alone in my first seven years in higher education (although, I’m grateful for the education benefit which allowed me to earn a master’s degree almost debt-free). My position, which required a master’s degree, started me out at $33K! But, it turned out to be a luxury I could no longer afford. I jumped ship for a much higher salary and government job…which I have come to detest more than a year and a half later. I’ve learned I can’t work entirely for one (dedication) or the other (salary) and am trying to find a better balance.

  14. nonnynon*

    New York City’s minimum wage raises to $13 starting January 1, 2018.

    I currently work as a full time intern making slightly less than that. I’ll be leaving before 2018, but another intern will come and take my place, and there are several others on my team. Interns are hired as contractors through a temp agency, we get paid through a different system than full time staff. It’s a nonprofit, so budgets are tight.

    Should I give my manager a heads up about this wage change or not bring it up? I’m not sure if they know. Intern salaries have not changed in at least 5 years (a different issue, considering the cost of living increase in the last five years), so I’m not sure if they’re aware of this going into 2018. However, I’m worried: will this be taken as me being proactive (in the end, this doesn’t effect me) or will I be overstepping?

    1. Jule*

      If your manager is really attuned to this sort of thing and you have a rock-solid relationship, then maybe it’s worth asking her (not “telling” her) about whether they’ve heard about the new rules. It would also be reasonable to do it if you noticed a job listing with the old wage and could flag it for them as a correction. But I have to say, I think there’s a pretty strong chance that it’ll look like you were assuming they were ignorant or even malevolent, and I would not risk ending an internship on that sour note.

    2. KTMGee*

      I wouldn’t; it’s not your job to ensure they’re keeping abreast of wage laws. I’m sure someone in the organization (HR? Legal? Payroll?) knows that the raise is coming.

      1. KTMGee*

        I’d assume if you’re aware, they’re aware. Wouldn’t this be more a question for the temp agency that actually pays you, not the nonprofit you work for, anyways?

        1. nonnynon*

          We’re not hired through the temp agency, I guess it’s more of an external payroll company that they use for contractors that’s different than the external payroll company they use for full time staff. So we have no communication with them besides using their platform to submit time sheets.

          1. AMT27*

            That sounds like a PEO service. Even if your employer isn’t aware the payroll company CERTAINLY is, and wouldn’t let payroll continue going through if its less than minimum wage.

    3. EddieSherbert*

      Especially since it’s not affecting you (you won’t be there anymore), I don’t think there is a “casual” (AKA not weird) way to bring it up. I’d just not mention it.

    4. CoffeeLover*

      I really don’t think this is something to bring up unless your company is very small and dysfunctional. Companies generally don’t want to break the law and keep up to date on things relating to wage changes. If you have an HR department or an HR person, they would certainly be aware of it. But even anyone doing hiring should be aware. I think it would come off very strangely to tell them this as if they don’t know already know (because really they should know). If you really want to though, you could mention it in passing as a conversational piece like “it’s interesting were raising the min wage…” But there is a slight chance that this may come off as you bemoaning your low wage.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      It’s nice of you to think of it, but it’s not really your problem, especially since you won’t be there. I’m sure the payroll company is aware of the change. It’s their business to keep up with things like that.

    6. Jadelyn*

      If they’re at all competent, your HR already not only knows about it but has their plan ready for that, and have already been doing internal analysis work on the impact of raising any staff who are currently below that new wage threshold. Don’t worry about it – it’s their problem to deal with.

      1. Alice*

        If HR is dealing with the problem, how come they haven’t noticed that there have been no increases over five years? I mean, yes, a legal minimum wage requirement changing is different from normal inflation… but five years of no change does not strike me as “we’ve got it covered.”
        That said, nonnynon — just because they might not be doing their job doesn’t mean you have to do it for them. So no pressure to raise it if you don’t feel comfortable about it.
        Good luck after the internship!

        1. Observer*

          Who says they haven’t noticed? The fact that there have not been raises is not related to “didn’t notice.” Now, I don’t know the reason for the lack of raises – it could be anything from crummy attitudes at the top of the org to legitimate struggles to who knows what. But it’s not because someone cant’ tell that time is passing and wages haven’t moved.

        2. Jadelyn*

          Those…are not even a little bit related issues. Intern wages stagnating is an entirely different issue from a minimum wage increase. And unless you’re on the HR team, you don’t know what they have or haven’t done on the intern wage freeze – for all we know, they’ve hotly debated and argued it with senior leadership and gotten nowhere. “Having it covered” is more a compliance thing than a keeping-up-with-cost-of-living thing – there’s arguably nothing inherently wrong with keeping intern wages flat, although I’d tend to personally disagree with doing so – so even *if* they haven’t bothered to address intern wages over the last 5 years (which, again, we don’t know that they haven’t done so behind closed doors), that doesn’t give us even an iota of data on which to assume they wouldn’t be ready to deal with a legal minimum wage change.

          1. Alice*

            You’re completely right that they may well be ready to deal with a legal minimum wage change. “Might not be doing their job” allows for “might be doing their job” as well. Since I’m not on the HR team, I don’t know which is true.

            I don’t agree that they’re entirely different issues — I’d put them both in the bucket labeled “compensation for the lowest-paid people in the organization.”

            And I don’t think this changes my suggestion to nonnynon — don’t bring it up if you don’t feel comfortable. Nonnynon clearly has good intentions — if she said something, she’d be helping the organization (preventing them from being blindsided), and maybe future interns, but not herself. But there’s no obligation for Nonnynon to speak up.

            And anyway, Nonnynon, from Elle Kay’s useful perspective below, it sounds like they probably know already.

    7. Observer*

      Of course your npo is aware of the raises. They didn’t not raise the intern salaries because they don’t know what’s going on. You can be 100% sure of that. Whether your manager knows depends on the structure of the organization, but that’s a different question.

      Leave it. Whoever needs to know, knows. And trying to give your manager a “heads up” is likely to cause offense. I get that you believe that the place is managed by a bunch of clueless idiots who don’t pay attention to anything going on around them. But, showing that is not likely to go over well.

    8. Elle Kay*

      Hey- I’m the (entire) HR and Admin Dept for the small non profit I work for in NY. The state Dept of Labor has been regularly sending letters reminding us of the upcoming minimum wage changes in NY so unless your organization is completely incompetent then they already know.

  15. Reinhardt*

    IT people: if someone is browsing the internet with their personal device on the company network, but using a VPN to encrypt their traffic, how big of a red flag does that send up for you?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t care, but that’s just in my org. We just don’t have the time and energy to police that stuff, unless we believe the person may be up to something. Same thing with viewing browsing history or email logs. We don’t dig through that stuff unless there’s some kind of investigation.

      Better question, instead of asking general IT people, would be to ask the IT people at your company. Everyone here could say “I don’t care,” but if the people at your company care, that’s what’s going to affect you.

      1. Stop That Goat*

        This. We’re too busy to sit around and actively monitor that sort of stuff unless there’s a problem.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        VPN isn’t necessarily a cure-all for privacy concerns. You have to trust whomever is providing you the VPN service.

        1. Cloud Nine Sandra*

          Absolutely. But it’s a reason someone could be using VPN that isn’t porn or illegal activities, so not necessarily a red flag to worry about.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            Though, in theory, you aren’t necessarily entitled to privacy while at work using a work computer…

              1. Anonymous Educator*

                I still wouldn’t care what people do, but in theory you’re using company resources. I wouldn’t ban a VPN. I still don’t think people are entitled to privacy when using the company’s connectivity resources. Can you have privacy? Sure. Are you entitled to it at work? No.

                1. AWall*

                  They may be using a VPN for privacy/security for reasons other than keeping the company in the dark. Plenty of people use VPNs on their personal devices. It wouldn’t be a red flag for me at all unless there were other things causing concern.

    2. CAA*

      If personal devices are allowed on the network at all, then I’ve never cared what people do on them as long as they don’t suck up more than a reasonable share of the bandwidth and start impacting other people. It’s up to the employee’s manager to handle it if the use of a personal device is impacting the amount of work that gets done, or if the employee is doing something that is immoral, unethical or offensive.

    3. EmilyG*

      I think VPNs have become more common for lots of reasons in the past few years, for example, the bills allowing ISPs to sell your browsing history. I have VPNs on all my personal devices that turn on by default, just to keep Comcast from knowing what I’m shopping for. I don’t see the VPN as an issue per se.

      If the person is spending scads of time on a personal device, doing presumably personal tasks… that’s something else.

      1. FD*

        Yeah, exactly. I have one on my work PC because I sometimes have to work on unsecured WiFi networks, and I don’t always bother to turn it off when I’m actually at work.

    4. Thegs*

      No one gets to use their personal device on our network :)

      But it really depends on the rules. We block the common proxy/VPN ports here because usually people use them to bypass the firewall. If we see someone constantly dinging a known proxy we would immediately suspect them of either willingly trying to bypass the firewall (against our ToU) or of having a virus trying to be sneaky, both of which gets them kicked off the network.

  16. Database Geek*

    Another week of job searching – two phone screens this week. In the one earlier this morning they didn’t give me a chance to ask any questions (or I missed the opening to ask if I could ask? I’m not really sure) so I’m not sure if that’s a bad sign or not. Oh well. Also still waiting to hear back from a place I interviewed with last week (it’s still early yet so we’ll see).

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I wouldn’t take that as a bad sign necessarily. Sometimes people are just bad interviewers, and they don’t know they need to allow time for questions at the end.

      1. Database Geek*

        Yeah it sounds like this is possible too – either way I’m going to not worry about it any more. No point in obsessing over the fact that I didn’t ask any questions when it really is true she didn’t give me a chance to.

    2. k.k*

      It’s possible that they just use phone interviews to screen out people who are widely wrong for the job (don’t have a required qualification, out of budget salary range, etc.), and didn’t want to get too in-depth.

      1. Database Geek*

        That’s a good point. It did feel like she was only interested in gathering information to discuss with the rest of her group. We’ll have to see how it goes from here!

    3. Sherm*

      The first time I interviewed someone, I completely forgot to give an opportunity to ask questions. I would not be alarmed as long as you are not sensing other concerns.

  17. Bend & Snap*

    Okay, my work saga continues! To recap:
    Got demoted after merger along with thousands of others as part of job leveling
    My team got cut in half and my role shrank because now everyone is uber specialized

    Didn’t get promoted because of budget
    So 5 1/2 years after starting I technically am at the same level I started at despite spending 3 years in a management role
    Applied for a new job after lack of promotion
    Am deep into that interview process

    Last week:
    My entire team reorganized and I report to someone new that I don’t like much and a VP I’ve never met
    Head of my org talked to me about a high-profile project because I’ve been quiet and also talked about a new role for me in a different area

    This week:
    Talked to the hiring manager for the new role
    Made it to the final interview round for the job at the other company

    Now I’m just feeling really antsy and hoping I get this job because I’m so bitter about the way things have shaken out I don’t think I can be happy where I am anymore

    Any advice on soldiering through?

    1. JulieBulie*

      Concentrate on whatever’s in front of you, and try not to ruminate. I don’t mean “try not to think about it,” but “try to delay thinking about it.”

      Take it day by day and hour by hour… “I’m going to focus on what I’m doing now, and I can think about that other thing later.” And keep saying that, again and again, so that “later” doesn’t come until you actually have something to react to.

      Also, do something fun when you have a chance. Force yourself if you have to. Go see a movie, or look at office supplies. Whatever floats your boat. Some people (myself included) instinctively try to avoid fun when they’re miserable, but it’s better not to reinforce that instinct.

    2. King Friday XIII*

      Sounds like you might finally be seeing lights at the end of the tunnel, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. I hope you get it!

  18. Arils*

    What is the most BS/ridiculous rumor you’ve heard about yourself at work?

    On the silly side: I have a co-worker who truly believes I am some high roller, VIP for all things business travel related (hotel, flights, rental car, etc.) and she gets mad about my or anyone else’s “upgrades”. The truth is, I just ask! And I’ve told her this.

    On the serious side: One female manager has implied that I have “special relationships” with 2 other male managers and that’s the reason I was promoted. I mean, being the top performer for the last three years and specifically learning new skills on my own time so I could get that job had nothing to do with it…Bahahaha! Insert massive eye roll here. The three of them are in the same office 400 miles away, so yeah…special relationship my ass.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      One time I had students who hated me (when I was a young teacher) and wrote on my evaluation that I should teach standard English stuff and not “radical” things like Thoreau. I couldn’t even.

      1. Lore*

        I wish I could remember the exact phrasing but when I was in grad school I had a student write that I taught too many works by women, minorities, gay people, and others. (So, humans, then?) The student was a woman of color, and the syllabus began with Shakespeare.

        1. Portia*

          At a parent-teacher conference yesterday, I had a parent complain that I teach too much “literature” by Muslims, and why don’t I teach more Catholic literature? (It’s a Catholic school.) I pointed out that a) sophomore year is world literature, so yes, we read Middle Eastern authors b) we want to broaden, not narrow, students’ perspectives of the world, and c) I had just, that day, taught a Catholic author.

          Usually it’s not too hard being a non-religious teacher at a religious school, but parent-teacher conferences always stress me out!

    2. Malibu Stacey*

      At a former job, I was an admin in 200 person dept. The reporting structure was employee -> supervisor -> manager -> director -> AVP, except me who reported directly to the AVP along with the directors and few consultants. A lot of people were afraid to be friendly with me because they thought I would report everything they said to my boss.

    3. Me Again*

      Everyone thought I was pregnant when I got a bunch of migraines, cause my migraines make me puke. My boss eventually asked me straight out if I was pregnant. I was engaged at the time and she basically said I was likely to be pregnant because I was living with my fiance before marriage….

    4. RedBlueGreenYellow*

      At my last job, I got a new manager who thought that I was effectively a shadow manager, doing her job behind her back. She said she was hearing that my coworkers were “still” reporting to me (they never reported to me at any time—I have never been a manager.) Apparently, she thought (or someone was telling her) that when my coworkers and I had work-related conversations, they were actually reporting to me, and I was assigning them work. I even got an extra-special performance review hit based on the perception that I was undermining my manager and trying to take over her job.
      It was really satisfying to leave that pit of despair.

    5. Bend & Snap*

      The only rumor I’ve ever heard about myself at work is that I was pregnant. I was. Sooo ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    6. HR Lady*

      In my first job someone hated the very bones of me. She left, voluntarily, and then put in a tribunal claim that she had been pushed out by the hiring of me, and I had only got the job because I was sleeping with the boss.

      Readers, I was not sleeping with the boss. I had to write out a statement for the tribunal panel that I was not, in fact, sleeping with the boss, and had never done such a thing. I got to that job via a really, really unusual method and this company had a terrible reputation for the ownerbosses (they were brothers) having affairs with female employees but I was not one of them. Fortunately she decided to drop the case as otherwise I would have had to be a witness at the tribunal, which I really didn’t want to do.

      This did kick start my interest in employment law which led indirectly to my current career in HR, so thanks, Awful Lady!

    7. Catroina*

      I once found out that our main office (which was in a another country, actually on a different continent even) had a bunch of rumors floating around that I was having an affair with someone in our warehouse. I was 40 at the time and he was 22. The reality is that he was dating someone age appropriate on my team. I have no idea how that mutated into an affair with newish-mom in a not very attractive place in my life. I absolutely rolled on the floor laughing when I heard it.

    8. Mints*

      This was from a child when I worked summer camp but it’s one of my favorite things:
      “Is it true there’s a hot tub in the teacher’s lounge?”

      1. GG Two shoes*

        Oh man, camp was just a CRAZY rumor mill. It’s was like a giant game of telephone. All the kids thought all the counselors were dating each other. They were about half right. haha

      2. Julianne*

        Not about me, but I remember rumors when I was young that one of the elementary schools I attended had a secret pool under the gym floor, and my current 5th graders are certain there’s a secret pool on the roof of our school. What’s with kids and aquatic rumors?

        1. nonegiven*

          There is a small town where my nieces and nephew went to school. They actually had a pool under the lunchroom. The floor opened but it wasn’t a secret. The youngest has grandchildren, now, so who knows if it’s still there.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      Not a rumor exactly, but a sales guy’s wife at OldExjob was very threatened by any women who worked with him. My supervisor, Angelina, had warned me, “Hey, Lavender will probably not be very friendly to you when she comes in to see her Won-Won, because she thinks you’ll be after her husband.”

      Well she wasn’t, at least on the phone–but after she met me, she thawed and became quite friendly. Angelina was very pretty. So I guess I wasn’t?!

    10. JD*

      Oh you are going to like this one. I was called into HR with my manager. My desk (large cube walls about 5 ft.) had a filing cabinet on the back side of it, so I can’t see the filing cabinet and no one at the cabinet can see me. Again, keep in mind that my whole cube has three of these walls, open to my back.

      Apparently a coworker complained that I was sitting at my desk typing, so my back to the open part, and was spreading my legs to show the guy filing up my skirt. Now first, logistically this is not even possible. He is filing on the other side of a 5ft. wall. Second, what??? I was the youngest woman in an office of mostly women and there were about 5 men. This guy was younger as well and we would chat now and again. Frankly he probably found me attractive but he was younger than me even, I had no interest.

      So HR bring me in and tells me all this. My jaw drops and I flat out confused. I think I said “what? huh? Who? (in reference to who I was flashing) How?

      HR and my boss pretty immediately said “ok ya that sounds unfounded no worries”. HR calls me into her office later in the day to apologize up and down. She says she cannot believe she even brought it up with me because now thinking it makes zero sense.

      I dealt many times with these older coworkers causing issues with me speaking to a single man in the office, work related or not. Rumors constantly flew that I was sleeping with any man I spoke to. I literally showed a guy in the office how to make a graph in excel and his boss yelled at him for talking to me. Because a young man and woman could not possibly be doing, ya know, work!! Once he showed them the insanely impressive budget he made with all the beautiful graphics his boss put her tail between her legs and acknowledged my amazing skills in the budget meeting with the whole board as she was so impressed. (No idea why this was such an impressive skill but apparently no one else knew how to do it). Finally made people realize that they needed to shut their mouths.

      Mind you another female employee who was a bit older than me was having a full on affair, often in his office, with the CFO and his wife found out and come and confronted her. But ya, I was the problem.

    11. hbc*

      I guess it wasn’t quite a rumor, but: my husband arranged for his sabbatical to be in the same country as my company’s headquarters, so we didn’t have to split up the family or have me take 6 months off of work. My colleague/boss (not a lot of clear structure there) kept referring to it as my “boondoggle,” like continuously joking/not-joking that this was some vacation I was arranging at the company’s expense. They didn’t pay for jack, I worked like a dog covering one time zone and then being available for the other (offset by six hours), and got a ton done for the company because I was the only person to ever spend significant time in both locations.

      I think it was all projection, given how he would go off “to work” at his lake house just about every Friday during the summer and have nothing to show for it, but it still was extremely annoying.

      1. Clever Name*

        Yeah, I had a boss who would assume that when you were working from home you weren’t actually working. Because when HE was “working from home” he was just goofing around.

    12. JeanB in NC*

      Well, at one job, the entire place *knew* I was having an affair with a guy I worked with, who was sometimes my supervisor (winter duties were different). Although I guess that wasn’t completely ridiculous because we were having a pretty heavy-duty emotional affair. (We didn’t use that term all those years ago, but effectively that’s what was happening.)

    13. Blue_eyes*

      When I was a counselor at sleep away camp in college one of the other counselors started a rumor that I was a lesbian because I hugged her once. Turned out she was bi and aggressively in the closet, so I guess she was projecting. (Obviously there’s nothing wrong with being lesbian, but I’m not, and it was a weird rumor to start based on non-existent evidence).

    14. Seal*

      My first job out of college was in an academic library. It was fine for the first few years, but due to a reorg things went downhill very quickly. At one point I wound up “co-supervising” our part-time student employees with another guy after our departments were merged. He was a lazy slob who didn’t do his job well and wanted to be everyone’s friend; I was always the bad guy because I expected the people we were paying to work to actually, you know, WORK.

      Despite the fact we were both supposed to be supervising the students, in reality we each had a few students that reported directly to us. His students generally worked at computers during their shifts with their headphones on; I never talked to them or gave them any direction. One day, this guy came up to me in a huff and accused me of being verbally abusive to his students and strongly implied that it was racially motivated. He claimed one of his students – again, someone I NEVER interacted with and rarely saw – said that I had yelled at her and called her names. I was furious and appalled; I’ve never yelled at any of my employees and certainly don’t call them names. Fortunately, he quickly backed down when I asked for specific details as to what was said and when; since it never happened, he couldn’t provide any.

      As it turned out, another one of our coworkers had it in for me and was constantly badmouthing me to the student employees when I wasn’t around. From what I could gather, she had made some false comment about me that was further misinterpreted and then all hell broke loose. Unfortunately, what coworker continued to make life miserable for me in any way she could; due to the ridiculous org structure there was no supervisor on site to address such issues and our various off-site supervisors didn’t want to get involved. An ugly situation all around.

    15. Infinity Anon*

      Some of my coworkers thought I was dating another coworker because his girlfriend and I had the same name. and he had started dating her around when I was hired.

    16. Dance fever*

      When I was in my 30s, the support staff were constantly speculating that I was pregnant. I switched from coffee to water in the afternoon- pregnant. Mentioned in passing that I needed to buy new pants- pregnant. Had a doctor’s appointment- pregnant.

      They were all very curious as to how I was married and yet child-free.
      For the record- 0 pregnancies. Now that I’m almost 50, I assume they no longer think such things.

    17. Orca*

      When I was working retail, a coworker would CONSISTENTLY start the rumor I was going to be assistant manager. Which…wouldn’t be a bad thing? except he told it in a “better plan your escape, she’s gonna make your life hell!” way. I have no management aspirations and this place definitely didn’t pay management enough to be worth it to me. I had transferred from another store, and actually did my job, so made this guy look bad and this was his…revenge?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I had a boss do this to me, also. She told my crew-to-be that I was going to make their lives hell. I am not sure how this benefited the company. Anyway, you needed a chainsaw to cut the tension for the first few weeks. It was so weird, like being on another planet. I decided that all I needed to know was that I was going to do my best and eventually they would figure that out.
        I lost a few people. These were the judgy people who decided that I was evil personified and there was no fix for this situation. I did not cry when these folks left because their work was lousy anyway.
        Finally a dam broke and the crew decided that I was not evil, I was actually okay and the tension went down to normal work issues.

    18. LizB*

      One time an 8th grader tried to start a rumor that I was dating one of the other teachers because we happened to wear purple shirts on the same day. I found it hilarious (and it didn’t spread at all, because even 8th graders know when something is just patently ridiculous).

      1. Julianne*

        One of my students a few years back started a rumor (not maliciously, I don’t think) that our grade level’s two instructional aides were dating each other. They countered by starting a rumor that they were cousins. I wrote in both of their evaluations that they were creative problem solvers.

    19. SQL Coder Cat*

      Oh, I have a silly one (to me, anyway)! I got asked how long I’d been going out with RuPaul. We’d been carpooling to work because his car broke down and he couldn’t afford to get it fixed right away. It was hysterical to me because anyone who’d ever spoken to RuPaul was aware that he was very, very gay, so I was most definitely Not His Type.

    20. JerseyGirl*

      A guy on my team spread a rumour that I was sleeping with a much older manager. No truth in it whatsoever. It was really awkward as our roles involved working together a lot and travelling to off site meetings together and, once he’d planted the seed, I could feel co-workers looking at us and wondering.

    21. Spider*

      I’m a staff person at an academic library, although I have my MLIS. When I was was first hired, I worked in a department with four people — the two librarians were very friendly to me and the two staff people were not. One of the staff people has a lot of personal and mental issues, and she’s not friendly to anyone. The other staff person was rude to me in my interview for the position, when she didn’t know me from Adam, and continued to be rude to me when I worked there (never acknowledging me or my attempts at conversation, not responding even to my “Hello” or “Good morning,” letting doors shut on me when I was walking right behind her, etc.), but since this had started since the moment we met, I figured she must be incredibly shy or unusually socially awkward or something, since she couldn’t have any personal reason to dislike me.

      Well, no. Months later, I learned through the grapevine that this person didn’t want me to be hired in her department as staff because I have my MLIS and thought I would try to take her job (which…I would never do in the first place and indeed *cannot* do, because we’re unionized and it’s literally impossible to do this), and that she was going around telling people that I’m a snob who only talks to ~the librarians~.

      I mean, yes, I was only talking to the librarians in my department, because they were the only people who would talk to *me*! The two staff people ignored me at best and were openly rude and hostile at worst. What do you expect, lady? Secondly, I could not give less of a shit about what degrees people have or what their titles are, and I always try to be friendly and polite to everyone I meet in the course of my day (even — especially — these two people, because I don’t like conflict). It was almost kind of funny, since if she had ever had an actual conversation with me, she would have known I’m not like that.

      (She was so offputtingly impolite in the job interview I had with her and the others — not looking at me once when she spoke, not acknowledging my hand for a handshake, saying nothing to me at the end but just leaving the room — that I wouldn’t have taken the job if I hadn’t been desperate, because she gave me such a bad impression of the workplace. I’m still here, though I work in another department now, and she still doesn’t talk to me.)

    22. Someone else*

      A couple of people apparently though I was secretly in the CIA because I have zero social media presence.

    23. Not So NewReader*

      Apparently, I was a narc.
      Some people went down behind the buildings furthermost out and smoked pot. I had to go down there one time looking for something and I noticed people standing around with joints. I said nothing. I have no idea what happened but I soon learned I had narc’ed on them.

      Shrug. I had not reported them, but I thought if they are going to tell everyone I did, then I might as well start. The whole thing became moot, because, surprise!, I never saw anyone smoking pot after that. That was okay by me. I don’t care if a person smokes pot. I hate it when people do it on company time and put me in that bad spot where I really should say something but I would rather not.

    24. Julie Noted*

      At my first job, as a teenager in retail, we had to submit times we were available to be rostered on each month. I said that I was available from 11am on Sundays but not before, because I attended mass with my family. Every time I’d be rostered on for opening shift on Sundays, so I’d have to go back to the roster manager and ask for the shifts to be moved. Colleagues who asked for the mornings off to play sport seemed to have their requests acknowledged with much less hassle. So the boss decided that I must be Jehovah’s Witness, to have such extremely strict behaviour as attending a Sunday service regularly.

      As a postgrad student I worked in a lab. I didn’t bring up religion at work but it was not a secret to people who knew me well that I was a practising Catholic. So word got around that I was a creationist (no!!), which resulted in someone refusing to accept me into their research program and someone else loudly accusing ‘people like me’ of destroying science, in front of the faculty.

      Needless to say, I live in an area where religious practice by young people is considered an aberration.

  19. Marketing Mom*

    I have to work closely with someone that is the new Director of a new company division. We have the same boss and he loves her. I hate her. She’s much younger than me and drop dead gorgeous but this isn’t jealousy about that, it’s everything about her. She has to show everyone up and wears a short or tight dress and huge heels everyday even though our dress code is a level below casual. She loves finding and correcting mistakes and nit picks everything I send her (she’ll notice an extra space and mention it). She doesn’t socialize with anyone and walks around like everyone is beneath her. She only flirts with a few select guys. She’s manipulated her situation to be much better than everyone else (better hours, private office, work from home). She can’t agree with or be happy with anything. Everything is “why can’t we do it this way,” she’s never satisfied. None of the other girls like her but like me very much. I’ve tried to complain to our boss (he is also the granboss) but he just says she’s from a more professional, harder-working environment. How can I convince him she doesn’t fit our culture?

    1. Bend & Snap*

      I don’t think you can. If she doesn’t report to you, and it doesn’t sound like she does, you don’t have any sway here. And honestly the issues sound more like BEC than actual work issues. Sorry :(

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      She was brought in as a director? Sounds to me like… she’s acting like a director. An extra space is a typo; she should mention that. She doesn’t socialize, which could be because she’s trying to establish her position. She *negotiated* better hours and working from home (I would be kicking myself for not doing the same, and I’d admire her for it), and she’s a director so she probably should get her own office. She wants things to be done differently, probably because she was brought in to “shake things up” or make certain changes. I don’t think you’re going to get any buy-in from your boss about this. Out of curiosity, are you and she both directors? Is she senior to you?

      As for the way she dresses, your complaints sound really petty to me. That’s the type of thing you roll your eyes at privately and go on about your business.

      1. Marketing Mom*

        I’m the Marketing Director. I was hired with another title but complained when she was hired as a Director and is a lot younger. I think they just hired her because of how she looks.

        1. Bend & Snap*

          Oh dear. I think you really have to just let all this go. It doesn’t matter and saying these words out loud to anyone at work, including your boss, isn’t going to reflect well on you.

        2. Jadelyn*

          “She’s younger than me and beautiful, but I’m not jealous about that” but then your first complaint is about her clothing choices and then you go on to say “They just hired her for her looks.” Like. You are outright contradicting yourself.

          If you have complaints about her as a manager, that’s legit, but “they just hired her for her looks” is sexist crap. It may or may not be rooted in jealousy, and only you can say that for sure, but either way it’s still sexist and gross and definitely a “you problem” to work on rather than a “her problem” to complain to anyone else about.

        3. Observer*

          You complained when they hired her? Because she is younger than you?!

          If you want to retain a shred of credibility you need to shut up and do stellar work for at least six months before you make another peep about her. And then think VERY carefully about what you say. Here is the thing. Most of the complaints you mentioned originally are NOT about her work. And the rest come down to things you don’t like because they are not good for you, not about her work quality or anything like that.

          It’s clear that your complaints don’t come from a place of looking at her work and its quality, but the fact that she is young and pretty. Well, guess what? Young and pretty doesn’t mean incompetent. And your focus on that is, at best, a very ugly work, and at worst will get you into a fair amount of trouble.

          1. Marketing Mom*

            No because she was hired with a Director title. I got my title changed from Administrator to Director.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              I think you really need to slow your roll here. You complained about something that’s not necessarily unjust, but you got what you asked for. It would not look professional to keep complaining that this new hire got things you want that you didn’t ask for before she got there. I’m assuming you would like to work from home occasionally and you would like your own office; she didn’t get those things AT you, she got them because she knows how to advocate for herself. If I were you, I’d take a deep breath and pay attention to her. Maybe you’ll find out she really is the devil, but maybe you’ll also learn some tips on how to get ahead in your field/environment.

            2. Observer*

              So you complained that someone got a Director title, because the fact that she is younger and prettier than you “proves” that she shouldn’t have gotten it. @AvosnLady Barksdale is right. You are not going to look very professional if you keep this up.

        4. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

          Everything you’ve written belies your insistence that you’re not jealous. Reconsider very carefully whether you have anything to say to grandboss about her that doesn’t reflect very badly on you.

      2. strawberries and raspberries*

        Yeah, if it isn’t actually about that, there was no reason to bring it up at all. I’m not here for this sexism.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Well, for starters, you need to express your concerns in a way that doesn’t come across as high-school level petty rivalry. Who cares if the other “girls” like you better, or she’s pretty? Is her criticism of your work genuinely wrong? Is she harsh to you or other women but lenient with male employees about the same thing? Is her personality causing problems with work being done efficiently and correctly? Do you have concrete, specific criticisms, other than vague “she doesn’t fit the culture”?

      Because right now you’re coming across as making this personal and petty, and your boss is not going to listen to serious concerns.

      1. Marketing Mom*

        She’s a very harsh know-it-all and and we’re a very laid back culture. I felt really supported in this position until she came and started red-penning all my work. She’s pretty combative with everyone like she has to get her way.

        1. Cordelia Vorkosigan*

          Errors in your work should be corrected, though. That’s not her being harsh, that’s her doing her job.

          1. Infinity Anon*

            Is it possible your boss felt the culture was too laid back and hired her to change things up?

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You’ve got to ruthlessly cull through your complaints about her, figure out what specifically is impacting your work, and get rid of all the rest. Right now it’s coming across as really petty and sexist because of all the comments on her age, her looks, how she dresses…. Get rid of all of that or you won’t have any credibility (complaining about that stuff is also really bad for women, by the way), and focus exclusively on how it’s impacting your work.

        3. 2 Cents*

          Because she actually pushes back? I think you’re more threatened than you realize, Marketing Mom. Time to take a self-inventory. Plus, it sounds like you really, really hate change. Especially when that change has better proofreading skills than you do.

          1. Jaguar*

            Noticing a double-space is hardly proof of better proofreading skills. That’s like hitting a single note better than a professional singer one time and claiming you’re a better singer.

            1. Lehigh*

              I would assume that was just one example. If that is the only time she has ever corrected the OP’s work I wouldn’t expect it to register, let alone draw this kind of ire.

    4. JulieBulie*

      “She only flirts with a few select guys”
      What on earth are you trying to say? She isn’t flirting with enough people??

        1. Lehigh*

          You may be correct, but coupled with your other complaints (she’s younger than you yet was made Director first, she doesn’t dress the way you would prefer, she’s pretty, etc.) if I were your boss I wouldn’t give much credence to your assessment of her social skills or her motivations.

          It sounds like you don’t like her for a bunch of really awful reasons. Maybe she doesn’t fit in with the “girls” but she’s a grown woman and she’s doing her job (including pointing out mistakes). I would also note that if he says she’s from a “harder working” and “more professional” environment, he might be cluing you in that he considers her to represent a culture he would prefer for the office.

        2. Oryx*

          So, there’s a lot to unpack here but I’m going to be honest: based on everything else you’ve typed here, you strike me as a very unreliable narrator when it comes to this woman so it’s hard to take your complaint regarding her flirting seriously.

        3. neverjaunty*

          And your boss, who is signaling you very clearly that he has no problem with her working style.

          You’ve also managed to shoot yourself in the foot here on several levels. You complained about your title simply because they hired someone younger than you – and this was well before you knew anything about her. And if you went to your boss with the attitude you’re broaching here, you basically told him not to take your concerns seriously because they’re petty and inappropriate.

    5. Observer*

      You can’t, and you need to stop trying.

      You also need to stop policing her behavior. It’s really none of your business what she wears, or who she flirts with (as long as it’s not your SO nor someone in her direct reporting line.)

      The boss actually told you something very, very valuable – he thinks people maybe don’t work hard enough even though they are in the office. Also, apparently she came in with credentials that impressed the higher ups, and managed to negotiate a better package. That’s not “manipulative”. That’s doing what women are told to do – although this is a PERFECT example of the cost women pay when they do.

      If you want a better package, you have two choices. Either figure out what it will take to move up within your organization, or figure out what it will take to find a better job elsewhere.

    6. JamieS*

      So basically you don’t have a problem with how she looks but take issue with how she presents herself (attire), you and apparently the other women don’t like her but are upset she doesn’t socialize with you, and she negotiated some extra perks that you’re jealous of (seems like you’re implying she used her looks to get those perks but that could just be me).

      The correcting you over minor stuff and the complaining are plausibly legitimate issues but it would depend on your work.

      Regardless it seems like you’re letting your personal dislike color your opinion of her work habits. Would you be this upset over someone correcting you or making suggestions if you didn’t personally dislike them?

    7. Argh!*

      Calling adult women “girls” is a bad sign, for starters.

      Whether someone is a “fit” for the culture depends on their work ethic, not their clothing choices. There’s a line between calling someone a “bad fit” and being prejudiced against someone based on something that has nothing to do with the job.

    8. Maya Elena*

      I wouldn’t say you suffer from sexism, but you do have a case of resentment.

      I do think at least a modulated version of what you say is true: she probably knows she is attractive and she knows how to be congenial (ie lightly flirty), particularly with people who aren’t hostile to her for on the start.

      However, they probably wouldn’t like her half as much if she wasn’t also reasonably competent. And you aren’t doing yourself any favors with management by criticising her. So suck it up, admire her as a work of the Creator’s art, and make fewer typos.

    9. CheeryO*

      Boiling it down to the perceived culture fit issue, how do you know that her style doesn’t reflect a new direction that your company is consciously pursuing? Maybe “more professional, harder-working environment” was a bit of a pointed remark. The only thing I would even dream of commenting on to your boss would be some of the perks that she negotiated for, and that would be to try to make a case for the same thing for yourself, only be after a significant amount of time with excellent work and zero complaints about the new director.

      1. Marketing Mom*

        She’s been here almost a year and the culture is the same. No new direction whatsoever. She’s still outdressing everyone and has not made any friends. She’s still uptight and complaining.

          1. Marketing Mom*

            Our culture is VERY casual, think “roll out of bed.” Even the owners wear shorts and never wear suits. She wears a dress and very high heels. I know you’re all going to say she is just dressing professionally but her body does not make it look like that. She looks like a stripper with big boobs.

            1. Sunshine Brite*

              Wow. That’s quite inappropriate to compare her to a stripper and comment on her chest size because she wears a dress and heels.

            2. SCtoDC*

              This comment is gross and incredibly inappropriate. Women tearing down other women gets us nowhere.

            3. Myrin*

              I’m not even gonna touch how inappropriate those comments on her outfits are but I do want to say that even with regards to that, you’re not really making sense? Because if I hear that someone is “outdressing everyone” in a very casual environment, I picture that as them wearing ironed suits with a tie or something similar (which we actually had a letter about in the past!) when everyone else is wearing jeans and t-shirts. I’d assume that a very “laid back” office environment is actually the one where you can indeed wear short dresses and high heels without it being inappropriate.

            4. Lehigh*

              The selling point of a casual environment is you can wear whatever the hell you want. Why are you policing your coworkers’ clothing??

              1. strawberries and raspberries*

                Your director’s clothing, no less. If I found out that someone on my team was this full of contempt for me because I have large breasts and didn’t dress in goddamn pajamas for work every day, I can’t say I wouldn’t actually relish canning their ass.

                1. MLiz*

                  (Semi-off topic, how do you deal with button down blouses with said large chest? Because I sure should like to dress up more but button downs really give me issues and I’d love someone to weight in? (Yes, I should probably wear more dresses but there are other complications there.))

                2. Rainy*

                  Fashion tape if you aren’t confident with sewing. If you are, buy a card of clear plastic snaps and invisibly sew them in between the buttons that tend to gap.

                  Source: learnt to sew as a child, have very large breasts.

                3. MLiz*

                  I knew I should have learned to sew when I was younger.

                  Maybe I will make a project of it yet.

                  THANK YOU, I will try to put this advice to good use when work is getting less crazy again.

                4. dawbs*

                  If you can’t sew, good tailoring has been something I’ve found to be a lot cheaper than I’d ever have imagined.
                  (I have limited skill, limited time, and sometimes, it’s not worth risking a $50 item being wrecked by me when ‘my tailor’ can fix it for like $10 and she’s awesome)

              2. Troutwaxer*

                “Why are you policing your coworkers’ clothing??”

                Probably because she wants the office to continue being casual. Starting there, the threat to the way of life the OP enjoys is understandable, but the OP is phrasing her issues with the most sexist, mean-girls phrasing possible. So I’m going to try to unpack this in a non-sexist fashion:

                1.) OP likes the casual environment, and doesn’t want to play the “Who looks best in heels and a suit game” which is both expansive, and likely to end up with (young) winners and (older) losers. Essentially the new Director has introduced a new form of office politics where she has all the advantages – and she’s playing to male preferences and prejudices while she does so.

                2.) If I understand what I read, OP and the other woman are both directors and constantly correcting typos – she “marked down” for two spaces? WTF? – is a dick move meant to establish dominance, (unless the OP’s writings are going to production for use outside the office, in which case they do need to be perfect.)

                3.) The “flirts with some of the male employees” is actually threatening. It sounds like the office had previously been one where “flirting with male employees” didn’t happen, which brings the office interactions down a notch. And note the complaint: “…she does not have a rapport with anyone except for 3 guys and it’s just flirting.”

                4.) “She doesn’t socialize with anyone and walks around like everyone is beneath her.” Do I really have to explain to everyone why this is a problem? What we’re seeing is a new Director with poor social skills, no ability to show leadership without being haughty and imperious, and poor ability to interact with the other women at the company.

                The real problem with this round of advice-giving is that the OP didn’t phrase her complaints very politely. After reading everything above, I do have to believe that the OP is part of the problem, but mainly because she phrases things like a mean girl looking for a fight with another mean girl – and if she hadn’t done that we’d probably be giving much different advice.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  1: It’s not inherently “introducing a new kind of office politics” for someone to dress the way they like to dress for work. Nobody has asked OP to start dressing up and competing. And “playing to male preferences and prejudices”? Really? That’s a hell of a reach at best, and considering that OP is the definition of an unreliable narrator about this other women (I mean, she said she “looks like a stripper with big boobs”, come on, that’s not exactly the way someone who’s speaking objectively and rationally about a situation goes about criticizing a coworker’s appearance), I really wouldn’t rush to accept her interpretation that the coworker is dressing that way *for men’s approval*. Women are entirely capable of preferring to wear dresses and heels for a whole constellation of other reasons, and to reduce that to “playing to male preferences and prejudices” is super sexist.

                  2: I’m not sure where you’re getting “marked down” out of the OP? She said this coworker *noticed* and *mentioned* a small typo. Which, sure, is maybe not all that necessary, but maybe it just means she’s the conscientious type who notices everything like that. And since the OP is in marketing, I’d bet that their communications probably are going to external consumers of one sort or another, so the so-called “nitpicking” may be entirely justified.

                  3: Again, unreliable narrator. We only have OP’s word that this woman is “flirting” with 3 male employees. There are people who will read any friendly interaction between a man and a woman as flirting, and considering the nature of many of the OP’s complaints, I feel like it’s entirely possible that the new director is slow to establish professional rapport in general but has done so with a few people, and because of her jealousy OP is seeing it through a particular, sexualized lens, and misreading it as “flirting”.

                  4: Again (again), unreliable narrator. “Walks around like everyone is beneath her” is completely a subjective reading, and could mean nothing more than that she’s a hard worker who prefers to focus on her work and doesn’t do a lot of at-work socializing. Especially when the boss described her as coming from a “more professional and hard-working environment”, it sounds to me like OP’s office is not only laid back in dress, but they sound like they do a lot of socializing at work, and this new employee doesn’t do that because at her previous company people were expected to work more than socialize. Which OP is misconstruing as her thinking “everyone is beneath her”.

                  I just feel like you’re minimizing the nature of OP’s complaints as just being “not polite enough”, when the substance of the complaints themselves are really inappropriate – commenting on her body, for example – and sexist. Maybe there are legitimate problems with OP’s coworker not being a great culture fit, but at this point there’s no way for us to sift through the jealousy, sexism, and petty resentments to figure out if there’s anything legit in there to be worth complaining about or working on.

                2. Troutwaxer*

                  I definitely agree that the OP is part of the problem, and I agree that the OP should generally “up her game” as an employee, but I thought it was worthwhile to flense the sexism and general ugliness away from her complaints and explore what was really going on without the “mean girl” language. Sometimes when people get angry they speak from their worst selves, but that doesn’t mean the problem isn’t real.

                3. JamieS*

                  No I don’t care she phrased things like a mean girl. I looked at OP’s complaints on their own merit and determined they were petty.

                  1. One person isn’t going to change the culture. There has to be a large shift involving multiple people and if that happens that’s just evidence of many people wanting the shift. Regardless unless it’s put in the dress code, OP isn’t obligated to wear a dress just because other women do. Also assuming this woman dresses that way to play up to male preferences is extremely sexist. Women do have fashion senses that don’t revolve around what heterosexual males find attractive.

                  2. Her username is ‘Marketing Mom’s so it seems likely people outside the org will see her work. Regardless if part of the Director’s job is to proofread OP’s work then she’s just doing her job. If not then she probably has too much time on her hands

                  3. So what? This woman isn’t allowed to “flirt” with men she finds attractive because OP is threatened by it? Having a workplace where people sometimes flirt (assuming it’s mutual, not egregious, and there’s no funny business) isn’t a big deal. Coworkers date all the time. I also have doubts it’s actually flirting but that’s mainly because OP has shown herself to be an incredibly unreliable source.

                  4. This may actually be a problem. However given OP’s previous comments I seriously doubt how accurate her account is. Also if OP is representative of other coworkers the issue may be them freezing the new Director out rather than her having poor social skills.

                4. neverjaunty*

                  “the threat to the way of life the OP enjoys is understandable”

                  But there isn’t a “threat”, and that’s not what the OP is saying. She’s not complaining that the dress code got tightened up, or that grandboss is ordering them to adopt a less casual dress style. The complaints started before the director started, when the OP found out a younger woman was being hired to a senior position.

            5. MLiz*

              Okay. I will not comment on how your tone is really not appropriate, because Alison and others have done it.

              So she dresses up in comparison to others. Why does it bother you? I mean, sure everyone is very casual at your workplace, but unless you have a written dresscode that says “no formal wear allowed”, then I really don’t see the point. Maybe that’s her “work uniform” and she wants/needs this for work mode. Maybe she derives confidence from the way she dresses. Maybe she has a huge inferiority complex and that gives her the kick she needs to go to the office in the morning. Maybe it makes her feel good. Maybe she plain likes dressing up.

              I don’t see how that is any skin off your nose as long as it stays within the realm of appropriateness.

            6. Jadelyn*

              Do you hear yourself talk? You are specifically commenting on HER BODY. Not just her clothes, but the body underneath those clothes and how it supposedly makes those clothes look. Which is something she has very limited control over! And not something ANYONE in a professional environment should be judging someone else based on! How do you still think this is a justified line of complaint?

            7. Rocky the Lemur*

              Going to address another part of this comment.

              Culture change takes YEARS, and it’s hardly an expectation in any organization that I’ve worked in that one new employee would result in (let alone be expected) to shift culture. And never in less than a year.

              Also roll-out-of-bed casual isn’t actually appealing to some people, so that alone may be something your leadership hopes to change. I personally would be turned off by an organization where people dressed “below casual” (is this the new term for slob?). It may be good for you, but is it possible that is part of what they are trying to change. And just because the bosses don’t follow along by picking up their game doesn’t mean they don’t want it to happen.

              1. JamieS*

                Yeah I’d hate that kind of culture. I literally wear the first clean shirt I see in the morning, choose my hairstyle based on what will take me no more than 5 minutes to do, and wear zero makeup excepting special circumstances. Yet even I wouldn’t show up to work wearing what sounds like basically pajamas.

                I mean come on Marketing Mom essentially said someone who dresses like a “stripper” dresses more professionally than everyone else. What must they be wearing?!

                1. Rocky the Lemur*

                  I had to laugh because I, too, choose ‘clean today’ as my style, no makeup … but yes, I’m my minds eye I see people wearing stained sweatpants and then this poor woman who is “done up” and making effort.

        1. Oryx*

          I really have no idea what her clothes have to do with anything. And, make no mistake, I work in a very, very casual environment. Like, our internal recruiter wears flip flops and shorts during summer, even when he was interviews that day. Our C-suite managers wear jeans. Most people wear jeans.

          So if my one colleague, who is a director as it happens, wants to wear pencil skirts, nice blouses, and high heels every day, what do I care? Her desire to wear that doesn’t mean I have to start. If that’s what makes her comfortable and confident to do her job I don’t understand the issue.

    10. Jessie the First (or second)*

      This whole comment, and your follow up posts, are sexist and gross.

      Sexist: calling her good negotiation skills manipulating.
      Sexist: complaining about how she wears heels and talking about how her body looks in her clothes.
      Sexist: calling her professional boundaries (she isn’t socializing enough with everyone, according to you) being uptight.
      Sexist: referring to grown women as “girls.”
      Given all this, I’m also going to call your claim that she flirts with a few men sexist, because you seem like an unreliable narrator here, and there are people who seem to feel that friendliness = flirtation if this regular friendliness is being performed by a woman who is attractive.

      Please reconsider how you are viewing women in the workplace.

      In addition, her corrections and edits to your work? You call yourself “marketing mom.” If you are in marketing, you *need* to be nit-picky. A typo, an extra space – these matter and mistakes need to be fixed. Sounds as if she is doing her job and being thorough.

    11. Nerdling*

      You can’t, don’t, and shouldn’t. For your own sake. Seriously. Please don’t if you want to keep this job.

      Everyone else has got the rampant misogyny you’ve got going and need to take the time to unpack, so I’m just going to focus on encouraging you not to keep at your boss about the other Director. You’re going to absolutely destroy your credibility at this company if you don’t take several steps back, and that could (and should, if you don’t stop pushing this line of thinking) result in you getting fired.

    12. OperaArt*

      Do you understand how you are coming across here? When I ignore the judgemental language, to me you are describing a polished, professional, confident woman, possibly with training in continuous process improvement, who is doing her work . You need to step back—there’s no way you can have a conversation with your boss that isn’t going to make you look bad.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      I have read down through all the comments and wow.
      Okay here is where this is at, if you cannot find ways to get along with her then you have just lost your job. By “lost your job” I mean you will end up seeking work else where because the situation is hopeless for you. This person has gotten under your skin and is festering there. You cannot find one thing likable about her. Think about this. Did you ever work with someone who could not find anything likable about you? It sucked, right?
      You don’t have to like her but you do have to work with her.
      So rock your job. Knock it out of the ball park. Go back to square one and make sure you are at YOUR best in your work.

      If this answer here is not resonating with you, it could very well be that now is the time to begin your job search. The few times I have had people really annoy me at work I ended up leaving the job. So lesson learned. People will annoy us, it is best to start asap figuring out ways to let go of that annoyance or we end up between a rock and a hard place.

  20. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

    I posted a couple of weeks ago about interviewing internally. I have found out that it’s between me and one other external candidate who was brought in for a group interview. I am not having a group interview because I already know the team. The hiring manager (who is also my current manager) told me all of this, so this is direct info. Then he said, “I don’t plan to make a decision this week, so don’t panic if you haven’t heard anything by Friday (today).” I was originally told by HR that a decision would be made by LAST Friday. I guess I just figured since I was internal and this reported to my own manager that it would be a little faster to get an answer and this is just a vent at how slow the hiring process can be.

    1. Samiratou*

      I feel your pain. I interviewed with my boss for a manager position over 3 weeks ago now. He said he had planned to have it hired by end of the month, but I’ve heard nothing. I’m going by the usual advice to assume I’m not getting it, but it’s disappointing and hard.

      Particularly since my husband is unemployed and was hospitalized earlier this month (he’s fine, but $$$ we can’t afford) and with a kid’s birthday and holidays coming up the extra income would be super awesome.

      Best of luck to you–I hope they make the decision soon and you get the job!

  21. Normally A Lurker*

    Ok, I’m a long term temp in a desk I love. They cannot hire me (for reasons I think I believe?)

    I’ve been here for a little over a year, and recently asked for a raise. It’s now been a month and they keep telling me “they’ll get back to me” about the raise.

    How do I handle this?

    If they aren’t going to hire me, I need the raise. If they aren’t going to give me the raise, I need to leave.

    So far, the raise process has been going through my temp company.

    Do I ask my direct manager about it? Or the woman in charge of all the admins on my floor? Or keep asking my temp company? Just find a new gig?


    1. La Revancha*

      Ask your temp company. They are the ones who pay you and the company pays them.

      and I would find a new gig. I was hired as a temp after I moved to a new city and told it was temp to hire. Shortly after I was hired I realized that I was a temp because my boss couldn’t get approval for a new full time position for whatever reason. 5 months later, still a temp, so I applied to a full time position with the company. My old boss went through 3-4 more temps, then 2 years later finally got approval for the position.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Your temp company would have to set that up because in order to give you a pay raise, they will need to raise the amount they are charging the company.

      Tell them “I need to know by X (give them at least 48 hours, if not a full week) if this raise is going through. If not, I need to begin a job search.” That should work.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        Not always. Temp agencies will try to pass along costs, but aren’t always necessarily successful. I’ve gotten temps on my team raises in the past that weren’t passed along to our business.

    3. Cloud Nine Sandra*

      Start looking for new work. Unless you know who at your office is in charge of the temp budget, your temp agency is probably the best bet. (I successfully negotiated myself a raise as a temp, but my temp agency is so very hands off, that was the method that made the most sense.)

      I bet you’ll find a position you love where you can get a raise after a year.

  22. KK*

    Hi all,

    Juicy stuff today! (Sorry, I know this is long, but please bear with me because this is CRAZY stuff!)
    Just thought I’d provide yet another update. I’ve written in the previous two weeks on the open thread. Two weeks ago, I wrote about being uncomfortable providing my boss with documentation in order to get my supervisor fired (even though she is indeed horrible). Last week, I wrote about how the unthinkable happened, and my BOSS ended up getting fired, after being the General Manager of our 25-person branch for 18 years. At that time, I didn’t have any details about why he was fired. Now I do…

    Essentially, we are a teapot refinishing business, and May-August are extremely busy months for our salespeople. We dominate the industry in teapot refinishing business in our city, so our 6 sales reps are completely overworked every summer. The reps, for years, have wanted to turn down jobs on account that they were working every day of the week, and losing out on valuable family time. However, my boss basically wouldn’t allow them to decline jobs. Instead, he offered to help the reps refinish all their customers’ teapots with them so it would take less time….if they paid him 30-50% of their commission (depending on how big of a refinishing job it was). Our sales reps’ only source of income is commission, while my boss probably made at least $300k/year. Also, a huge expectation of Boss’s job under his normal income is to help the reps refinish teapots. It was completely unethical for him to take cuts of reps’ income in addition to his salary (he was basically stealing money from his own employees, in my opinion.) The reps all questioned whether Boss requiring them to give a cut of their commission to him had been approved by our corporate office. Boss assured them it had (it hadn’t, obviously), but that they should “keep it under wraps, because our branch got special approval for it that other branches hadn’t gotten.” (we have about 30 branches nationwide). Anyway, this had been going on for TEN YEARS without anyone blowing the whistle on him, even though the reps’ still speculated whether boss was “allowed” to do this. The reason our reps went along with it for so long is that their yearly bonuses determined strictly based on their yearly sales bonuses. My boss had convinced them that they’d get much bigger year-end bonuses if they took all the refinishing jobs they could, because their large bonuses would “more than make up the cut that [boss] was taking from each job.” And of course, it was helping boss out to require our reps to enlist his help and take the jobs, because HIS bonus was determined by the whole branch’s sale numbers (pretty good gig for him, huh? Bigger bonus and earning commission as a GM!)

    Oh, and here’s another kicker…boss was requiring the reps to pay him “his cut” in CASH, so uh…tax evasion! One rep said that he thought he’d paid boss into SIX FIGURES over the past 10 years (!) Anyway, I’m not sure if my company is going to press charges or not. I’m just still floored by the whole situation. Boss definitely had a way of talking people into doing things, and making people think that he was always looking out for your best interest. I’m sure everyone is wondering how it possibly took ten years for someone to go to corporate which resulted in his firing, but if you knew Boss…it’s not that shocking.

    Side note: The morning boss was fired, corporate called him to have a meeting at our office. Boss, thinking the meeting was to discuss firing my supervisor, said “no, I’m hungry, let’s meet at Waffle House instead.” So…he was fired at Waffle House. Then, they proceeded to take his keys to his truck (company vehicle), and called him a driver to take Boss home from Waffle House.

      1. KK*

        Hahaha yes, it’s my favorite part of the whole thing. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall at Waffle House. Like…did they fire him after he ate his meal? Before the meal even came? Before he even ordered? I would love to know!

        1. Sigrid*

          Did they deliver the news when he had just put a really big bite of waffle in his mouth?? That is what I am imagining and it is GLORIOUS.

        2. Corky's wife Bonnie*

          Holy crap, that’s awesome! Reminds me of the scene in Jerry Maguire where they took him to a restaurant to fire him so he wouldn’t make a scene.

      1. KK*

        She’s…still crappy. We’ve had some managers from our corporate office in and out this past week, and of course she’s on her best behavior when they’re here. When they’re not, she’s just as terrible – showing up hours later (in a time where she’s really needed now that boss is gone!), leaving early, not replying to important emails, not sharing relevant information with employees, berating employees, etc.

        The managers at corporate say they’re “still keeping an eye on her”, but I don’t know what to believe at this point considering I was led to believe she’d be fired months ago!

        1. Observer*

          Well, now you know that NOTHING your boss said is reliable, so who knows.

          What I would do is make a package of everything you gave your boss and send it to HR, with a note that given what happened to your boss, you realized that it’s possible he was holding back significant details.

      1. KK*

        Haha I honestly still feel like it’s someone else’s drama. I never would have imagined something like this would have happened at MY place of work. I think it’s a story I’ll still be telling friends 20 years from now.

    1. SnarkyLibrarian*

      Your update is amazing! What a crazy story, I can’t believe your boss got away with that for Ten. Years. And the Waffle House bit is just sweet sweet icing on the cake.

      1. Kathenus*

        I think you’ve hit upon gold! This could be the next Hamilton. Ask A Manager, The Musical – what an amazing concept. Now I’ll be wasting lots of time today trying to think of the other acts.

          1. Jean (just Jean)*

            Drop feather-shaped confetti from the ceiling for the finale. (Real feathers will float rather than fall.)
            Then make it a running gag for the rest of the show: every so often, “quack” sounds from offstage and another “feather” falls from above.

        1. LizB*

          My Boss Sucks (And Isn’t Going To Change) – a mournful ballad, with at least three reprises before the character decides to move on

        2. Kathenus*

          A reoccurring song that happens throughout the play – “No, it’s not illegal, just stupid”

        3. Anon attorney*

          How Long (I Need To Know) – a stirring torch song about that no good hiring manager who hasn’t got back to you yet.

      2. aglaia761*

        I just want to make sure that gold spray painted naked Barbies are included in some shape or form. Maybe as audience giveaways.

    2. CatCat*


      “Anyway, I’m not sure if my company is going to press charges or not.”

      I mean… I get why the company wouldn’t want to get itself slogged into a criminal matter, but good luck keeping past or current sales reps from alerting authorities.

      1. KK*

        I really hope they do, honestly.

        It’s rather odd though (but shows me how Boss had warped their minds), some of them act SAD that he’s gone, despite him essentially stealing their money. He was really, really good with customers and knowledgeable of the energy, which I get, but come on…he’s a sleaze!

    3. Chriama*

      That is a pretty huge revelation. But honestly I’m kind of not surprised. The way he was handling your supervisor issue was pretty unethical to begin with, although back then you were still under the impression that he was on your side and just maybe not as proactive as you wanted him to be. I know hindsight is 20/20 but it really doesn’t surprise me that someone who would knowingly put you in that position would also screw other people over for his own benefit.

      1. KK*

        I totally agree with you. He always acted “buddy buddy” with me, so I think it was easy for me to ignore the fact that he could be conniving and sneaky about a lot of things.

    4. This Daydreamer*

      Woah. You said juicy and certainly delivered.

      Am I the only one who thinks that agreeing to hold the meeting at Waffle House was a deliberately not-nice thing to do? The image of him being fired mid-bite is amazing, along with having to get a ride back to the workplace. It would have been much kinder to make it a five minute meeting in the office.

      But this guy had been pulling this scam for ten freaking years. I really can’t blame the higher ups.

      1. KK*

        I had the same thought at first; why wouldn’t they just say, “no, we need to meet at the office.”? But then like you, I reasoned that by that point, they’d probably just lost all respect for him and didn’t care if the Waffle House firing would potentially be mortifying for him.

      2. JamieS*

        Might just be me but I actually think it’s kinder to be fired at Waffle House than the office. I know I’d rather be canned away from the office then pick my stuff up later when nobody’s there (or have it shipped) instead of fired at the office and doing the Walk of Shame with everyone watching.

    5. Triangle Pose*

      THANK YOU for sharing this, I am totally shocked by this saga.

      I have to ask, how did the reps fall for this for TEN YEARS, did they never talk to the reps in the other regions and figure out from the other reps that it is part of Boss’s regular job to help them with refinishing and that Boss cannot take a cut of their commissions??? Every sales organization I’ve ever worked with had sales retreats or SOME gathering every year where all the sales folks get together to disseminate information like this. It definitely would have come out…

  23. Em*

    There’s no break room at my work, so I eat my lunch in my cube. My coworker said, “I can hear you *chewing*” over the wall the other day as I was finishing up chips. What is the norm around chewing sounds at lunchtime? Should I only eat extremely soft foods at work?

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Some people are very neurotic about the sound of chewing, chips particularly (also apples and carrots) – it’s called misophonia, we had a whole debate about it this week on the thread and I’ll post the link in my next comment. Personally, I think this needs to be their thing to manage, not yours. Chew as quietly as you can of course but suggest they look into ear plugs or taking a walk when you’re eating, maybe? But others may have more insights from the perspective of the person who gets annoyed.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Agreed. Be considerate, obviously — don’t chew with your mouth open, pay attention to whether you’re an abnormally loud chewer, etc. — but you’re allowed to eat. You don’t have to adjust your diet for your cube neighbor’s aural preferences.

      2. Iris Eyes*

        Don’t forget about celery, which also has a weirdly specific smell. There was a patron at a library I worked at who would come in and eat multiple stocks of celery, every day. I don’t have misophonia but that was annoying.

    2. Queen of the File*

      Do others eat at their desks? Is your mouth closed? I have an open-mouth chewer across from me and I admit the mouth sounds get pretty distracting. Otherwise I think as long as your mouth is closed and it’s not like, crunching all day… maybe your coworker should consider earphones.

      1. Em*

        Everyone eats at their desks and I’m definitely a closed-mouth chewer. Maybe my ears aren’t as sensitive, but I can’t hear them eating, ever.

        1. JamieS*

          If everyone eats at their desk has this coworker complained to others about their chewing or just you? If it’s several others it sounds like he’s just oversensitive to the sound of chewing. Otherwise I’d consider the possibility you actually do chew unusually loud.

      2. Infinity Anon*

        It’s distracting. My dad chews with his mouth open and it drives me crazy, but he is unable to breath through his nose so it isn’t really his fault. I couldn’t eat with my mouth closed as a child until my tonsils were removed. I would get yelled at about it and was genuinely confused about how everyone else could eat and breath at the same time.

    3. Sarah*

      I put my space heater fan on while I eat to cover any sounds, just in case. Not that everyone should have to, but if it’s an issue with your coworker, maybe something to think about.

    4. Holly Flax*

      This is not your problem, especially at lunch time. I shared an office with a coworker who made heinous chewing, lip smacking and slurping noises when he ate and I never called him out on it. I dealt with it by putting on my headphones to drown out the noise. If you were constantly snacking on loud foods throughout the day, then she would be a bit more justified in speaking out, but a bag of chips at lunch is perfectly acceptable imo.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        that’s true, there is a bit of a side-eye here for the employee who nom nom noms all day on crunchy foods. It’s not really fair but we’re all at the tyranny of the open office, trying not to kill each other, doing the best we can. If you can eat something quieter for snack, especially if you snack more than once a day, I think that is a kindness that may boost your karma.

      2. Thlayli*

        If you are eating with your mouth closed then it’s her problem to deal with not yours. Tell her to listen to music.
        On another note, I’m now wondering if my sister has this misophonia thing. The number of times she has told me I’m eating too loud is ridiculous. Noone else ever says anything and I’m eating with my mouth closed so I don’t see how I can be any quieter.

    5. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      Well, no. I mean, it’s good to observe general eating etiquette, but even closed-mouth chewing sometimes makes noise, that’s just how it is. And you have to eat.

      I have misophonia and it’s completely awful to have such a reaction to something so mundane. But I see it as my problem to deal with. I have headphones, I can get up and take a walk, I can take deep breaths and focus on inner stillness. I just don’t think it’s on anyone else to manage my sound environment for me, whether I can control my inner reaction or not. Your coworker was in the wrong, IMO.

      It can’t be fun to eat while wondering whether your coworker is seething at you, so, sorry you have to deal with that. But if you get snapped at again, feel free to suggest headphones. They work splendidly for me.

    6. Nerdling*

      No, you’re good. Your coworker just needs to do like I do and grab some headphones. The sound of other people chewing, if it’s all I can hear, makes me outrageously angry and nauseated for no good reason, so when my coworkers are eating at their desks, I tune into YouTube and let them eat in peace because I know my reaction is unreasonable.

  24. Postdoc*

    I got a postdoc position!! I have been getting so nervous because it seemed like I was not getting any serious responses to my inquiries, but a lab that interviewed me a couple months ago and then told me that they weren’t ready to hire on their initial time frame reached out to offer me the job! The main thing that has kept me sane was taking Alison’s advice to send out applications and go to the interviews and then move on instead of dwelling on whether they were going to ever get back to me. I had thought that the lab had given me a “soft no”. Turns out that they actually were just busy.

  25. Morning Glory*

    I was recently in the running for a position that went to the reference check stage two weeks ago. At this point, I think I did not get the position, and am moving on with my job search.

    This is the first time I’ve ever had a job contact my references without getting the job, so I am not sure what’s the best practice for communicating to them I am continuing my job search, and may ask them to be a reference for another position in the future? Or should I not say anything now, and wait until I get to the reference stage again before reaching out, since that may not be for several months.

    I feel awkward enough about this that I’ve been putting off applying to new positions, which I know is ridiculous – but I don’t want to annoy my contacts by asking them to be a reference for me too often.

    1. Weekday Warrior*

      I’m on the opposite side of this right now. I’m dying to know if the person I provided a reference for got the job. I’m fighting the temptation to ask her if there’s news because she’s either at the confidential stage of finalizing her acceptance or she hasn’t heard anything one way or another. I do expect her to drop me a quick email once she has some news to share. Hope your news will be good!

      1. Morning Glory*

        That’s really helpful, to know you expect an update either way from your referee – thank you!

    2. Infinity Anon*

      Ask when it is relevant again. Since you haven’t heard back at all there is still a chance you will get the job and it is just a slow process. Keep applying and reach out when another employer asks for your references. It is a normal part of the process.

    3. C*

      If you turn out to not get the job based on the reference check, you should evaluate if one of your references needs to be replaced.

      1. Morning Glory*

        That’s a valid warning and I appreciate it – but I got the sense throughout the entire recruitment process that I was a backup candidate, from certain things they said. I think at least two of us went to the reference stage.

        So I don’ think it’s a red flag yet but it’s definitely something to consider if I make it to the reference stage again and don’t get it (and, I haven’t even officially not gotten this one yet).

        1. nonegiven*

          They may even be waiting for the other candidate to accept or decline, or to actually start work.

  26. Monstersof-Men*

    I just took a week off for a trip in Mexico. I came back and caught up on everything within a day and am now back to my normal routine. I want to ask for another week off in December — even though we get Christmas off, my birthday is at the beginning of December and my partner and I are going to drive the California coast.

    My boss was reluctant to let me go on this vacation because he was worried I wouldn’t keep on top of things — but I managed to successfully! How should I approach my next vacation? I would appreciate some scripts.

    PS Vacation time is not an issue as this is a front-line healthcare profession job so I can get coverage to get time off.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Hmm. It feels like a bit much to me (1 week in late October, 1 week in early December, whatever time you get off at Christmas), but it depends so much on the context (how much vacation do folks usually take? how long have you been at your employer? what is your reputation? etc.).

      1. Monstersof-Men*

        I didn’t expect to get this position, so these vacations were pre-planned when I was working shift work for the municipal government, as I was just a clerk and could be gone without a care. I would have never planned it like this had I known I was going to get this job!

        1. KMB213*

          FWIW, I don’t think that’s a ton of time off, as long as this isn’t a busy time for your company.

          However, I always ask for time for any pre-planned trips off during the offer stage, and I definitely ask more than a month in advance (if possible). I understand that you waited so you could show your boss that you could quickly catch up after a trip, but is there a reason you didn’t mention the December trip during the offer stage?

    2. La Revancha*

      I agree with Victoria’s comment. Ideally, you would have mentioned this to your employer sooner to get approval. What about just taking a couple of days off vs a whole week?

      I’m an avid traveler as well and always stagger out my vacations. I just spent 2 weeks in Portugal (I was off 11 business days) and I would not feel comfortable asking for more than 2 days off probably until February or March (I do plan on taking 3 days off at the end of March).

      Also, it never hurts to ask. I don’t think there is a right way to persuade your employer, just depends on the relationship you have with them and how lenient they are.

    3. La Revancha*

      Oops, one more comment. When I approach my boss with vacations that are pre-planned – always phrase it was “I was thinking about taking these days off for x, do you think that would be possible?” so they don’t feel blindsided or pressured into saying yes.

    4. Mints*

      It’s a pet peeve of mine when people (bosses/employers) are stingy with vacation time. Like maybe it’s more or less convenient do a day at a time or a whole two weeks, so that’s a fair consideration. But it’s a perk you earned so you get to use it!
      I’m not helpful I’m just commiserating

      1. La Revancha*

        I agree, I think my main point is the person who posted the question just returned from vacation and already wants to take another week in a month. Ideally, you mention these things in advance especially if they are pre-planned.

    5. Kathenus*

      I agree with La Revancha about presenting it as a request, see if it’s possible, versus an expectation. But other than that, my personal opinion is you just ask. Don’t play into your boss’s issue on this by censoring your behavior and not asking to use your benefit. That said, also don’t visibly react negatively if it’s turned down.

      In my industry we are coverage based, so only a certain number of people can be off at a time. I never have a problem at all with people asking, we approve when we can, decline when we can’t accommodate it. It’s not personal, just part of the job to administer time off requests and scheduling.

    6. Dealtwiththis*

      I personally don’t think this is too much. My last vacation was in March and was just a couple of days tacked on to a business trip. I’m about to take a week at the beginning of November, two weeks off for Christmas (because I will lose vacation days if I don’t!) and then a week off again in January. Those months are slow times for my position and if I didn’t take the vacation now, I wouldn’t be able to fit something in again until June. So, I think it’s a know your office deal and your work load.

      When approaching your boss, I would make sure to mention that you are being thoughtful of busy times and losing vacation days if those things are true.

  27. Lil Fidget*

    Gosh I needed this today. My newest colleague is quitting, and I’m having Too Many Feelings about it. As Alison says, people quit jobs, it’s not personal. But I spent a lot of time training this employee, and she left after only eight months. She didn’t even give two week’s notice. That time was all wasted! And now, all her work is going to fall 100% on my shoulders until we replace her … and the cycle continues.

    My boss is WAY too nice IMO – he paid for a “goodbye lunch” and I’m sure will give her a great reference, and I’m the only one who is hacked and having a lot of feelings. It’s been hard for me to even be pleasant with her and wish her well. I’m also just feeling like this must be my fault – like, did I do a bad job training and working with her, is that why she started job searching? Should I have done something differently? How can I keep this from happening again?

    I need to let it go. Today is her last day and I hope she hasn’t been able to tell that I’m so hacked.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      It’s probably not your fault; something may have fallen into her lap, or maybe she did just take this job to fill in a gap, or any one of a dozen other reasons. But I’d definitely visit with the boss about the workload and see what needs to be priority, or if there are some things you can delegate in the meantime (leaving the feelings out of it, as much as possible).

      If this is a recurring pattern, I’d guess either their hiring practices aren’t that great, or your boss isn’t that great. Maybe time to look around and see what’s out there?

    2. Blue*

      What your boss is doing doesn’t seem unreasonable. If goodbye lunches are standard, she should get one. And if she did a good job, she should get a good reference.

      Can you do an exit interview with her? Or have someone else do it, since you seem a bit close to the situation.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Yeah sadly HR does do an exit interview, but I won’t get to hear anything from it – I’m not her supervisor, I’m just the person above her (so like I’m a project lead and she’s a project associate on my project, but doesn’t report to me). I think I just wasted too much time training her so that’s why I feel put out. Next time, I’ll let someone else show the new person the ropes and not feel like that’s my role. I think it should slightly ding your reference to not even stay one year and not give standard notice! I’d be tempted to say something more like, “oh, we only had dear abileen such a short time it’s hard for me to really comment on her performance, but on the whole she seemed to be learning her tasks pretty well in the time she was here.” Then again, I’m still having Feelings. Maybe in a few months I’ll be over it and would be able to just say what she did while she was here.

        1. JamieS*

          The notice thing is an issue but are you sure she didn’t give notice to her boss earlier and/or didn’t have a very compelling reason for not giving notice that would make it understandable? Depending on context I might mention she left the company in a lurch but I probably wouldn’t change my evaluation of her work over it. If she actually completed work you can point to I’d feel like I were lying by omission if I led the reference checker to believe she was just learning the ropes and hadn’t made any sort of real contribution yet.

    3. This Daydreamer*

      She got a higher paying job. Her husband has been relocated to Nome, Alaska. Her parents thought your boss was a heathen and told her that she’d be disowned if she didn’t quit. Her commute took her past her ex’s sister’s hairdresser’s workplace and it was too painful. She hated the plant on your desk and quit before she felt compelled to throw it through the window. Who knows? Maybe she’s just a flake.

      If she had a problem with you she should have told you or your boss, so that’s totally on her. Was she doing a good job? If so, then you must have trained her well. This is totally not your fault. But I agree that it sucks. You finally got some help with the workload and she couldn’t even stay for a freaking year. I hope you get a fantastic replacement soon.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Thank you! She definitely got a higher paying job offer. But like, I feel like she must have been job searching. We’re not at the level in our career (neither of us!) where job offers just fall into your lap. And she was pretty well paid here with full benefits – but I will tell myself she just really needed more money and that was why she was looking. So that I can sleep at night :P

        1. nonegiven*

          Maybe she had only just applied before she got your employer’s offer and her new employer had a really long hiring process.

    4. Tassie Tiger*

      I’ve had similar experiences–people leaving after I put a lot into training them. Here’s what I tell myself, “It’s not wasted time. I got practice training. I learned some new ways to communicate. And I’ll train the next person even better.” It helps a bit.

  28. Meyla*

    Last week I posted about being unsure whether to jump ship when all of my coworkers are or are planning to. It’s been an up-and-down week. We had a meeting with our new COO where he told us that processes are going to change, management is going to change, and we are going to get more support than we have been getting. I think I know specifically which “management” he’s talking about, and I would welcome that change. He took responsibility for a lot of our problems and apologized, which is way more than anyone else has done since I’ve worked here.
    However, now our department heads are fighting openly in the common workspace. I mean arguing loudly about us while we’re sitting within earshot trying to work. One of those managers has told his team not to help my team anymore since my manager had a disagreement with him. It’s baffling to me how these grown men can act so juvenile. I thought we were all on the same side here…

    Anyway, so I haven’t made any progress in deciding whether or not to start looking for a new job. I respond to all LinkedIn messages from recruiters with “Please ask me again in February”.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      ehhhh I’d start now since that doesn’t sound super stable. Looking doesn’t mean you have to leave.

      I’ve taken every appropriate interview for the last 2 years and haven’t found the right fit. I’m not actively job searching but I still take the calls. It’s a good checkpoint for evaluating how things are going in my current role and whether something better is coming along.

    2. Artemesia*

      I’d have started the job search yesterday. You don’t have to take a new job but the process of getting organized and searching is sooooo drawn out that when thinks are going badly you want to hit the ground running.

    3. Infinity Anon*

      You loose nothing by looking. Right now is a good time to look because you can afford to be picky and if things go bad you will know what jobs are out there and already have an updated resume.

    4. Observer*

      Start looking TODAY, not in February. You can always turn something down. The COO may have the best intentions, and may even be eventually successful in turning things around. But what you are describing is so dysfunctional that it may take more time that you should devote, and if that turns out to be the case the further ahead you are with your job search, the better off you are.

      1. Meyla*

        Since everyone’s kinda feeling the same way, I’ll say that the reason why I don’t want to look right this second is because we get retirement matching lump-sum at the end of the year, and I don’t want to miss out on that. I suspect in January my team will be even smaller than it is now. I don’t really want to interview now and tell an employer “I can’t work for you until January, is that cool?”

        Or maybe that’s not unusual?

        1. Bend & Snap*

          That’s two months away. Many interview processes take that long. Get going! :)

          If you get an offer sooner you can always either try to negotiate a later start time or the value of your pending bonus as a signing bonus.

        2. Chaordic One*

          I’ll never forget being fired from my last job (on the day before the profit-sharing bonuses were paid out).

  29. Berry*

    Does your office provide coffee?

    I’ve worked at two places so far: a small family owned business that had a Keurig that was gross but did the job and a medium-sized “hip” company with a bunch of perks including good coffee.

    I’ve heard of some really big companies (including IBM and Viacom) that don’t have any coffee at all in their office, and was wondering what the spread was like!

    1. Morning Glory*

      My office has coffee, tea, and hot chocolate – plus a couple latte/cappuccino machines. I would find it a questionable business decision for a company not to have caffeine on-site for its employees.

    2. T3k*

      Company I’ve been at for 6 weeks has both coffee machines downstairs (not a Keurig but almost industrial type thing). They also have a mini coffee place in a nearby building, but I don’t know if they have to pay for those as I don’t drink coffee.

    3. eUGH*

      We seem to only stick to the large jars of Nescafe or tea. Last job had cordials, get good coffee (regular and decaf) when it was on sale at the local supermarket, and cordial and hot chocolate powder in the winter.

    4. lineby*

      I am intrigued to see what the answers are to this!
      I have worked for 2 non-profits. The first switched from not providing coffee or tea, to getting a terrible coffee machine that everyone hated and getting rid of all the hot water machines so you couldn’t use anything else. They did start providing tea bags as well though.
      My current company provides tea bags and instant coffee which I only drink when I am completely desperate. I’m in the UK so providing tea is more important than coffee really!

      1. Pat Benetardis*

        I used to work at a Fortune 500 company, you would definitely recognize the name. We had Flavia machines (like a fancier Keurig). One day we came in and they all had slots for quarters. Yup, we had to pay for coffee. I started hoarding quarters. And the effect it had was that in nice weather we would leave the compound in the afternoon and walk to a coffee shop nearby. Minimum of 25 minutes spent. So they lost in productivity more than they made in charging for the coffee. It just baffled my mind – don’t they want employees wide awake and focused?

    5. extra anon today*

      I’ve always worked in government (federal and local level) and neither have been allowed by law to provide food or beverages at tax payers’ expense unless it is a “special occasion,”

      1. LCL*

        Me too. The persons with bigger pockets or a more generous heart buy the coffee. I provide the keurig cups, someone else buys the bulk bagged coffee and powdered creamer and sugar. We have a donation box up for the little cups of cream, but that isn’t working well-massive consumption with minimal contribution. The only thing the company provides is cups.

      2. Hrovitnir*

        I generally don’t comment on this when it comes up, but I find this approach (US government jobs being this tight because !!taxes!!) super depressing. :/

    6. Malibu Stacey*

      The only office where I worked that didn’t provide was when I worked for a city department – there was actually an ordinance on the books that they could not provide food & beverages for employees. Everything from office coffee & bottled water to holiday and retirement parties was employee paid. It kind stunk but the benefits at that job were amazing.

    7. It's all Fun and Dev*

      I’ve worked in three different jobs, and it’s been different at each. One was a small family owned business, and they provided excellent local coffee and premium tea (one of the managers would send an assistant to Whole Foods every few weeks to stock up on whatever flavors people wanted). Then I moved to a tiny private college, where my staff kitchen was on the president’s floor. We also had coffee and tea, but just the bare bones. Now I’m at a huge public university and our budget allows for Folger’s coffee and powdered creamer, nothing else. Folks pitch in a few cents here and there to buy special creamers or whatever, but I prefer mine black.

      What I’ve been most interested in is the variance in kitchen set up. At my first job, we had basically a full kitchen – coffee maker, hot water kettle, microwave, toaster over, dishwasher, and full sets of dishes (plates, bowels, cups, cutlery, cutting boards, you name it). Second job was also a mostly full kitchen, but the dishes were brought in by individuals (people would go to Goodwill to get 10 forks for $1 when we were running low). Now, there’s a microwave and an industrial coffee maker, and that’s it. There’s usually disposable plates/cutlery left over from events or whatever, but it was a real change from what I was used to!

    8. Bend & Snap*

      i work for a F50 and we have free coffee, tea, hot chocolate and water, vending machines everywhere, a coffee shop where we get discounted fancy coffee, food and other kinds of drinks, as well as a cafeteria where healthy food is subsidized and there’s cheap coffee out of carafes.

    9. Fishsticks*

      I’m working a small law firm, but we share space with a massive international firm and I can get anything from the kitchen. It has a Keurig and a coffee maker with coffee, hot chocolate, and tea options as well as a vending machine for snacks. (When I leave I’m desperately going to miss this)

    10. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      My OldJob provided coffee, nothing special, just pots of regular coffee or decaf. This place has a keurig and a regular coffee pot but it’s a small charge ($0.25) per cup for the regular and I think keurig is only if you bring in your own.

    11. IBM-Anon*

      I work for IBM, and we have coffee here (and sodas and red bull and tea and all kinds of snacks). Our office is not the “IBM HQ” but we have 100 employees in this office. I’ve been to one other IBM office and they also had coffee, though I haven’t been to the giant corporate offices so maybe that’s the difference.

    12. zora*

      My current company is a PR firm and they provide coffee and tea in all the offices. Some offices even provide snacks (but there’s some drama about that right now).

      I worked for a couple of nonprofits that did not provide coffee or anything, and one that didn’t even have a coffee maker on the premises. I brought in my own small french press and coffee for myself, since that saved me a lot of money, of course then a couple of coworkers started wanting to “borrow” my coffee, which turned into really frequent, because they were rude and there were some culture problems there. I’m still annoyed about that one.

      I worked for another large national nonprofit that did provide coffee, but worked very hard to find the best tasting cheapest option they could. I was fine with it, but lots of coworkers didn’t like it and brought in their own coffee anyway. (The Bay Area has lots of coffee snobs ;o) )

    13. ThatGirl*

      We have pod machines (not Keurig) with a variety of coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Plus creamer and sugar. It’s way better than my last job, actually.

    14. Portia*

      My school has a big coffee pot in the break room, and a supply of Folgers, powdered creamer, etc. I’m not a coffee snob, but our athletic director usually starts the first pot, because he gets there earliest, and he has a somewhat dictatorial preference for extremely weak coffee. Like, he posted directions for coffee-water ratios above the coffee maker and gets mad if the coffee is stronger than that. It’s, like, one teaspoon of grounds per cup water.
      So I bring my coffee from home in my huge thermos, because I cannot be enthusiastic about teaching English to 15-year-olds at 7:30
      in the morning without a serious caffeine buzz.

      1. Die Forelle*

        See, that weak coffee preference makes no sense! I’m the first one in at my school and I make the coffee pretty strong. People who want it weaker cut it with some hot water (we have a dispenser in the same room as the coffee). You can’t strengthen weak coffee after the fact!

    15. Elizabeth West*

      Yes, all the offices I’ve worked in had coffee. It wasn’t necessarily GOOD coffee. Both OldExjob and Exjob also provided cocoa mix and Exjob also had tea (Swiss Miss and Lipton, respectively). I brought my own tea because I have my favorites but availed myself of the cocoa occasionally.

      Exjob Boss and Bosswife take a vacation in Hawaii every year–they have a vacation share with friends. One year, they brought back Kona coffee and put some in the break room for everybody. That was SOOO GOOOOOOOOD. I used to joke that the vendor coffee we usually had tasted like someone had dipped a brown Sharpie in hot water.

    16. hbc*

      My company makes coffee machines specifically targeted for offices, so yes. :) We’ve got all our models on display, though it seems like no one can remember to clean the one that has fresh milk as frequently as it’s needed, so I avoid that one unless customers are coming in.

    17. Jubilance*

      I work at HQ for a major retailer. We have a Starbucks in the building lobby and we get our corporate discount applied, just like in stores. On my floor, we have a Keurig but it’s the individual’s responsibility to bring their own pods – sugar is provided but not cream. We also will have coffee & snacks provided for big dept-wide meetings.

    18. justsomeone*

      My company has a fancy grind-the-beans-on-demand coffee maker for an office of around 80 people. (HQ of a retail org so the company is actually bigger.)
      We also have hot water taps, free tea, free snacks, free soda and have recently started stocking fizzy water.

      1. zora*

        So jealous! My boyfriend used to work at a place that had multiple pots of nice coffee made every day, plus a full, high end espresso machine totally free for everyone’s use. That is my absolute dream.

    19. Gwen*

      We have coffee (brewed in a big industrial maker but with packets from two local roasters) and a selection of tea bags. People sometimes bring in cocoa or hot cider packets and leave them in the kitchen for communal use.

    20. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Old Job just allowed you to bring in your own pot if you wanted to. That changed when we did a SERIOUS remodel of the building. Nothing like that was allowed anywhere in the offices. We did have a Starbucks-lite in the building as well as the cafeteria where you could get freshly brewed coffee (really good stuff actually and the food there was phenomenal) but you had to pay for it.
      Current Job has free coffee, tea, and a hot chocolate/cappuccino machine (similar to the gas station type).

    21. Orca*

      I work at an industrial yard of a large company and we have coffee machines. This yard switched from one major company to another in March and the person who’s now monitoring the coffee ordering doesn’t drink it herself so now it’s like pulling teeth to get some for my building, and I constantly get told we drink too much of it…but it’s provided.

    22. Adlib*

      We have a traditional filter coffee pot. Our other office in town has a Flavia which makes hot chocolate, different kinds of coffee, tea, and lattes. If it weren’t on the other side of town, I’d work there. (I’m remote corporate so it doesn’t matter where I work.)

    23. Die Forelle*

      I work in an administrative capacity at a private school, and am the coffee purchaser (using school budget money) and usually the coffee maker. We are very particular about our coffee – we use Starbucks House Blend grounds and I make it strong. A couple people cut it with hot water if they find it too strong, but I think most of my coworkers like it as-is. I also stock half and half, 1% milk, and sugar.

    24. This Daydreamer*

      The shelter where I work provides coffee. For the residents.

      I really don’t mind. I can’t drink coffee and I’ve lost track of how many women arrive with nothing more than what they’re wearing. The most recent one was the other day. There is flavored water, a Brita pitcher, and some junk food I can pick from.

      1. This Daydreamer*

        I just realized that came across as holier than thou. It’s just that I knew we had a shoestring budget when I came in and that we rely on donations. And it’s hard to whine about how terrible my life is when I deal with people who have had to flee for their lives and have nothing.

    25. Sam Yao*

      I work for a small branch office of a medium size law firm based in a major city. We have a Keurig. As you say, it’s kind of gross but it does the job. I prefer tea, but the firm only provides Lipton, so I bring my own chai, green tea, what have you. The firm provides sugar and sweeteners, but I buy half and half and keep it in the fridge with the understanding that it’s for general use, because I can’t stand the little Coffeemate containers they give us.

    26. It's Business Time*

      We have a Kurig and have different pods based on what people want, coffee – light, medium, dark roasts, decaf, various teas including green teas, hot chocolate. We have snacks and cookies, and fruits. Sodas and flavored waters in the fridge

    27. Lemon Zinger*

      I work at a large university. My department only provides us with a water filter (hot and cold), a fridge, and a microwave… and the microwave and fridge were donated by employees.

    28. Thlayli*

      We can buy subsidised coffee in the canteen for 60c a cup and we also have a kettle in my building and you can bring in your own. Some coworkers clubbed together to buy a coffee machine which everyone is allowed use but you have to pay for your own pods.

    29. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

      Yikes – I’ve never worked anywhere (and my early experience is fairly varied – hip startup, family-owned real estate, german bank) and I’ve never worked anywhere that did not at least provide a grungy coffee machine, and basic supplies (creamer, sugar, etc.).

      Nowadays – I would not accept a job that did not provide coffee, drinks/juices/sodas and some sort of snack options. It’s such a money-saver for me. However these are all completely standard in my industry. It would be a very bad sign not to provide this. Totally do get it in the non-profit/gov world.

    30. Steph B*

      My new job (been here about a month) has what I like to call the ‘trying-to-be-fancy Keurig’ — there are little pouches that you put into a machine to make coffee or espresso or tea. I don’t find it any different than a Keurig. They also have free Coke / Diet Coke and La Croix. My sisters are supremely jealous of the La Croix. The Diet Coke has been clutch some days when I need some caffeine that is not coffee in the afternoons.

      At my previous job (small biotech start up), they had a Keurig, and the job before that (clinical contract research organization) we had a Starbucks coffee machine.

    31. Clever Name*

      Small (70 people) consulting firm, food coffee, plus a myriad of snacks are company-provided.

    32. Windchime*

      My previous workplaces have all provided free coffee. Some also provided tea, hot chocolate, cider, etc. My current employer doesn’t provide even basic coffee. I am a tea drinker so I’m fine with that, and we do have a couple of hot water dispensers in our tiny kitchenette. Also, we have ice dispensers in the break room fridges and, believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve ever had that. Other places had an ice bin, but people would reach in and grab ice with their hands, yuck.

    33. crookedfinger*

      Yes. 2 kinds of coffee, numerous tea varieties, hot chocolate and apple cider (powders).

      This is in corporate America, in case that matters.

    34. Eve*

      My small office has a keurig with the coffee/tea provided as well as lunch once a week and a variety of snacks at all times (bagels/eggs/chips/nuts).

      My last job provided nothing but as were broke so we understood. The job before that though we had lots of snacks and a keurig. I was a temp there and my first day they made sure they ordered the caffeine free tea I liked (I don’t drink coffee) and I thought that was really nice and welcoming.

    35. Lab Monkey*

      IBM definitely has coffee in at least the location I’ve been to (I ran blood drives for a while, I’ve been to most big companies in the area), but it was paid. You could get a cheap cup of drip in the cafeteria or they had a mini coffee shop! Drip coffee and tea were free after 2.

      1. Lab Monkey*

        Also to be fair, we were always in a relatively public part of the campus. I’d be surprised if the other buildings didn’t have little free coffee stations.

    36. Hrovitnir*

      Oo. I would be quite offended not to get free coffee (and at least hot chocolate for a caffeine-free option, preferably black tea for tea drinkers.) I’m not fussy, but I want *something*!

      Bearing in mind that drip coffee machines aren’t much of a thing in NZ, this is my experience (that is super identifying, but whatever):
      -Pizza place. No, but I’ve just realised I see that as an exception.
      -Supermarket. Instant coffee.
      -Small architect’s office. Professional espresso machine.
      -Big box store. Instant.
      -Post office. Instant.
      -SPCA. Instant.
      -Very small factory/warehouse. Plunger coffee we were allowed one jug of a day, and instant.
      -Vet clinic. Instant.
      -Academic lab (as student). Instant.
      -Academic lab in Sweden (as student). Coffee machine – those all-in-one machines that aren’t proper espresso.

  30. Snark*

    So someone suggested that an Ask Snark thread would be hilarious for open thread this week. Do you find Alison to be insufficiently salty? Do you want questionable advice delivered with great certitude? Do you for some reason need to consult on work-related matters with a grumpy environmental scientist who hasn’t yet had his coffee? Do you employ drama llamas or cantankerous camelids? ASK ME ANYTHING

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Dear Snark:

      I have zero desire to do anything remotely productive today. What should I do?

      1. Snark*

        One thing you should definitely not do is knock off at noon and go drink a refreshing adult beverage in a corner of a quiet pub with a book. NO YOU SHOULD NOT DO THAT.

        1. Snark*

          Also, I recommend against hanging out in open thread all day. That’s a bad idea. I would definitely not do that.

          (lol im totally doing that)

    2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

      Dear Snark,

      On my last project the supervisor had a big fit and yelled at some other contractors who were doing us a favour by helping out that they were all incompetent and so badly trained that they didn’t know how to cope with an unsafe working condition. The other company actually has a better reputation than the one I was working for, but that’s beside the point. As luck would have it that was on Friday, and I caught the flu over the weekend and missed the last week of the job and have never seen him again except when I went to go pick up my stuff.

      Should I have written to the boss to complain about his behaviour? He’s well known for his awful temper but this was the worst incident I experienced. I’ve avoided going back to work for them ever since.

      1. Snark*

        Oof. This is one of the awkward aspects of being a contractor. My approach would probably be to let it go and never work for him again. If you do feel like sending him a note, I might suggest something light and breezy along the lines of

        “Dear Yelling Bad Man,

        I wasn’t able to circle back with you as I was out sick on what might have been my last day working with you, but I wanted to express my concern that the giant pit full of hyenas could be taken as a violation of workplace safety standards and might be exposing you to some liability if a contractor were to fall in and be messily devoured. Easily overlooked, I know! But we could have some legal trouble if that’s not resolved.

        I appreciate the opportunity to work with you and encourage you to get in touch with future needs as they come up!

        Miss Pantalones”

    3. JulieBulie*

      I’m working at home today so I can get some work done, away from distractions. But my neighbor is outside blaring the stereo from her garage and I can totally hear it. Why does she do this? It’s cold, why is she even outside? And the work I need to do is so boring that it makes my eyes bleed. Help. Where is that pub you mentioned?

      1. Snark*

        I suggest putting some speakers on the windowsill and blasting Satanic death metal. The subtle touch is often best; after all, you do have to live next to each other for the foreseeable future.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Hahaha, I did this once when I lived downtown in Santa Cruz. Someone had a very loud car radio on in the street outside my building one day. I have a vinyl record of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony that has an actual volume warning on it, so I put my stereo speaker in the open window and blasted Ludwig van until they gave up and left. :D

          1. Snark*

            If we’re going classical, I think one of the recordings of the 1812 Overture that has actual cannons would be pretty rad too.

          2. Christmas Carol*

            My Stereo Wars go to’s are either an oldie vinyl compilation from my Big 10 College’s marching band, or bagpipes.

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

          I had an annoying guy who lived in the dorm next to me when I was an undergrad. I made a cassette that had nothing but “The Ballad of the Green Berets” on it over and over, and I would start that playing, turn it up just loudly enough that I knew he could hear it, and then I’d go out for coffee.

        3. NoMoreMrFixit*

          I once lent my best friend a CD of bagpipe music. He used to be a DJ in his younger years and had a very good set of speakers. He placed them against the wall so the annoying fools next door got a couple hours of a few hundred watts of the 48th Highlanders.

          The neighbours kept the volume down after that and he couldn’t stop smirking when he returned my CD.

        4. NeverNicky*

          My parents – after a sleepless night due to noisy neighbours – put on repeat at full volume an album of the Massed Pipes and Drums of the Royal Scots Regiments. And then went out.

          I’m surprised their house was still standing when they returned…

    4. Janine Willcall*

      Dear Snark,
      Part of my job is working with an extremely incompetent department. They don’t pass along information I need, they can’t delegate effectively, they won’t Google basic info, they take credit for work I’ve done, and they’re annoying as people. How do I cope without incurring liver damage?

      1. Snark*

        Have you considered acquiring a small, durable, lightweight table to keep in your office for flipping purposes? Mine has served me well.

        1. Janine Willcall*

          …just realizing that I absolutely would buy a tiny, desktop-sized table for flipping. Must find!

          1. Myrin*

            The tiny table can also be placed on your regular table functioning as an elevated standing workstation if that’s something you’re interested in!

    5. zora*

      Dear Snark,

      My boss is one of those people who is always trying to do too much in a limited amount of time. No matter what I do to get her to do things ahead of time, she is ALWAYS sending me requests for time consuming tasks at about 4:55 pm on a Friday, or asking me to book 12 different phone calls in one week when there aren’t enough hours in the day. I cannot bend space-time to make these things possible. What do I do???

      1. Snark*

        I’ve always wanted to skip gaily out of the building after one of those emails, singing “Nope, nope, nopity-nope, nope nope nope nopity-nope!” Maybe try that and report back?

        Seriously, though, these people are the worst. I’ve actually had some luck managing up with stuff like this. Like, at 2:00 or so, pop into their office and say, “Hey, I’ve got plans this evening and would not be able to stay after 5pm. Do you have any taskers for me that I could wrap up before then?” And then if they send the request at 4:55, say, “Sorry, as I mentioned earlier, I can’t stay late tonight, but I’ll get on this first thing Monday morning.”

        However, that’s kind of dependent on her being a fundamentally reasonable person who understands that people go do fun things and drink to forget her on Friday evening. If she thinks it’s reasonable to crack the whip on a Friday night, then beats me.

        1. zora*

          I like the singing idea, I’ll see how the rest of the building reacts and report back! ;o)

          She’s usually on the road or not physically in the office when she sends those requests, so the email earlier in the day reminding her I have to leave has no effect.

          I don’t usually stay after 5 to do these things, because I am hourly, but just the pile of requests coming in when I’m trying to leave stresses me out! And then I find myself worrying about them on my way home. :( That’s probably just my problem and I need to let it go, but I was wondering if you had some science-ey tips about changing the laws of physics that I didn’t learn in my Liberal Arts education :o)

          1. Snark*

            Sorry. I’m Dr. Snark, not Dr. Strange. But I can give you my personal absolution from worrying about these things for a second after you leave. My guess is she probably just sends them off as she gets them, without thinking of the time.

    6. Teapot Librarian*

      My big project for the afternoon is writing performance reviews. If you recall my Hoarder Employee, I’m starting with his, and he has an exceedingly inflated opinion of his performance. This is my first time ever writing performance reviews. Any advice?

      1. Snark*

        Has he already submitted a self-evaluation? I like to indulge myself in snarky annotations in the margins just to get it out of my system. Seriously, it does help, because you can write “holy shit, do you just send in your evil twin every day or what,” laugh at yourself, and then be civil when gently telling him there’s a disparity between his assessment and yours.

        The big issue is going to be dealing with the “no, I’m at Exceeds Expectations in all categories, nuh-uhhhh” pushback in the moment, and that’s where lots of specifics and documentation come in. And, of course, Alison’s scripts for dealing with pushback to feedback.

    7. As Close As Breakfast*

      Dear Snark,
      Somehow I am always, ALWAYS, the person changing the toilet paper roll in the bathroom on our floor. And replenishing the backup toilet paper supply in the drawer. And putting in a new paper towel roll. And filling the soap dispenser. At least one of my coworkers constantly (and I can’t help but believe maliciously) uses the last square and walks away leaving empty cardboard rolls on the dispensers. THEY ARE MONSTERS WHAT DO I DO???

      1. Snark*

        Just stop doing it. Bring your own TP for a while (bring flushable wet wipes and revel in the luxury!), use your own little travel bottle of soap, and laugh quietly to yourself when someone has to text for help. There is a dignity in consequences.

        There’s no dignity in duck-walking to another bathroom or having someone throw a roll through the door for you, but eh.

      2. Beancounter Eric*

        Don’t change it….take your own bog roll, and leave the w$#*$&@#s to their own devices.

        And yes, there be monsters….

    8. AnonForThisOne*

      Dear Snark,

      My manager wants my department and our sister department to work more closely together, including cross-training and helping out in each others areas. I don’t want to do this. If I wanted to work in the sister department, I would have applied for a job there. How can I get her to let me do the job I was hired for?

      1. Snark*

        “Boss, you had mentioned that I should teach Dweezil how to pet llamas this afternoon, but Pinky, Oscar, and Rufina haven’t gotten ear scratches since last week and they’re getting cranky. What should I treat as my top priority? Are you sure? Pinky tried to bite someone earlier.”

    9. zora*

      I’ll add the issue I mentioned in the Halloween thread above.

      Dear Snark,
      I am the admin for a small satellite office (6 people) of a larger company. Everyone in this smaller office has mentioned multiple times that they want more culture and social stuff here at the office. But EVERY time I suggest something, I get eyerolls about that idea or lots of whining about how they don’t have time because they have so much work to do. But then I hear more the next day about how we should have more social stuff. What exactly am I supposed to be concluding from this conflicting information?

      1. Snark*

        I actually think you could call ’em on it in the moment. “Well, you guys really advocate for more social events at the office, but when I suggest specifics, you respond really negatively. What’s up with that?”

        1. Snark*

          Fundamentally, the problem is they’re in a complaint loop. “Bluh so much work so busy omg” is their default response. Gotta break the loop, either when they complain they’re busy or when they complain about no social stuff, I think.

    10. Iris Eyes*

      I have internal email correspondence from someone that has a lime green background with bubbles. Can you explain this?

      1. Camellia*

        No one can explain this. Just close the email and delete it. When they ask you about it tell them you are color blind and couldn’t see it.

        1. Iris Eyes*

          That shade of green does make me feel a bit ill, coupled with the bubbles its like I’m drowning in toxic sludge or something.

    11. MissMaple*

      Dear Snark-

      I’ve been trying to get someone’s sign-off on a document for 1.5 months. I’ve emailed, called, and done step by step screen captures on how to manage a sign-off. I’ve sicced other people on them. What should I do next? Singing telegram? Personalized balloon?

      Yours Truly,

      1. Snark*

        “Guys, you can put on your big boy underoos, display gumption, and plan a party your owndamnselves. No strippers, no keg stands, no party bus, but otherwise, the world is your oyster! But really, no strippers. KTHX.”

  31. FormerOP*

    Poll- email or phone? What is your industry and if you don’t mind, what’s your age? Add in situations if you would like.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I majorly prefer email. To me, phone offers very few advantages. If I could just do away with phones altogether I would.

      Email: You don’t expect me to respond immediately even if I respond quickly, so it doesn’t interrupt what I’m doing. I can be thoughtful about how I respond instead of having to think off the top of my head. I have a written record of what I said to you and what you said to me.

      For things that can’t be discussed on email, I’d honestly rather have an in-person meeting than talk over the phone. I can read facial expressions and body language. I don’t have to worry about reception issues or any weird technology interferences with the phone call. And you can clearly see when you walk in the door whether I’m busy or not. Even better if you don’t just walk in, but we have a scheduled meeting instead.

      I’d love to hear why people like the using the phone, though. They must have reasons.

      1. Agile Phalanges*

        Ooh, good point about in-person being preferable to phone, when possible. I currently work in a tiny office of only three people including myself, have a few production people out back, so of course all communications between us are in person. But then all other communication with outside contacts is remote, of course. So phone it is, no possibility for in-person convos.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’m an email person, but to answer your question about why some people like using the phone, it’s because (a) it can feel quicker or actually be quicker to get an answer, either because it’s immediate (and they want an answer right now) or because there’s a bunch of back and forth on details that need to happen or the situation is complicated to explain, or (b) they place a high premium on relationship-building that for them happens in real-time conversations where you can hear the other person’s voice.

        This group is going to be 99% email, I’d bet — as blog commenters, it’s heavily skewed in that direction.

        1. Myrin*

          The back-and-forth is the reason for why I really love the phone in some situations.

          I run into this most often with my doctoral advisor, where I need to ask him a bunch of questions which are dependent on his answer to the question before that (so I can’t just ask them all at once). That would result in something like ten emails back and forth, often causing some delay to the start of the actual work being done because neither of us is at our computer all day, and with answers only consisting of one line – it’s infinitely easier to clear it all up in a two-minute phone call.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            I’d rather avoid back-and-forth by talking in person than talking on the phone. Obviously, sometimes the phone can’t be avoided (long-distance employees or contractors, for example), but that’s a compromise, not an ideal.

            1. Myrin*

              Totally with you there – my preferred method in all areas of life is actually a face-to-face talk but I’m often just too far away. I’m not going to take a two-hour train ride just so that I can talk to someone for two minutes when a phone call gets the same results.

        2. Blue_eyes*

          This. I use email a lot and like it for all the reasons Anonymous Educator stated, but sometimes phone is the best. Like Alison said, when you need an immediate answer or have a lot of back and forth phone can be valuable.

          When I need to contact a company about something, speaking with someone on the phone gives me more confidence in their answers and usually gets a faster response than emailing a general info email address that may or may not be monitored. There are also things that I do not want to put in writing in which case phone is necessary.

      3. zora*

        My boss actually prefers the phone, so I’ll jump in to give you a perspective. She is an executive of the company, and she’s a little bit older and not as comfortable with technology. But also, she gets a billion emails and doesn’t really have a system for keeping track of them, so she misses emails all the time and can never find something she’s looking for.

        One thing she does constantly as the big ideas kind of boss, is when someone sends out a draft of a key document by email, she will want to get on the phone to just ‘talk through’ her edits, which is often because she doesn’t have specific word edits, but more thoughts and ideas about direction, or about framing, etc.

        She also often prefers phone because I think she finds it easier to talk through her thoughts in the moment. Her day is often just back to back phone calls with all the account folks working on specific projects, while the VPs who report to her mostly share documents or written thoughts and prefer email. But everyone is okay with her preferring the phone because she is the big boss. So, it kind of works, I think.

      4. Elizabeth H.*

        If it’s a binary choice, I probably prefer email but I am not really phone-averse like many others.

        One advantage of the phone that I haven’t seen anyone mention, that I suspect could resonate with many email-favorers, is that on the phone you can just get the thing over with immediately instead of having it hang over your head. It’s true that an email might not interrupt you like a phone call might, but I end up seeing the email notification anyway and it creates a brief moment of distraction that somehow activates the procrastination/mild anxiety/triaging-tasks-mode in my brain, and even though I would usually dismiss it and go back to what I’m doing, those brief moments of alertness can add up to feelings of stress, whereas a phone call or an in-person meeting usually ends with a greater feeling of resolution. I consider myself a pretty effective and organized person, but I definitely have the procrastination gene. Email really plays into that and exacerbates that type of tendency – I know I’m projecting my own experience, but I have a suspicion that there are a number of other people who dislike the phone so much because it doesn’t really let you procrastinate or avoid something as well as email. (There are certain types of inquiries I get that I really dread having to address, and I am kind of fifty-fifty on whether it’s better phone or email because of the long-term benefit of getting it over versus the short-term benefit of being able to put it off.)

        Imo, someone leaving a voice mail is the worst of both worlds! :P

        1. Elizabeth H.*

          Oh also, I’m 30 but I’m kind of a Luddite-by-choice about many things. I work in academic administration, and our culture is pretty email-centric. My 1st job was in retail at a bookstore, so I’m very comfortable talking to many different people, talking to strangers on the phone, etc. I don’t have phone anxiety! I also like talking on the phone to friends/family significant others, although many of my peers never do this.

    2. Snark*

      Email, almost every time. Environmental consulting, 34. Unless it’s super critical, almost everybody uses email.

    3. T3k*

      Late 20s here. Emails, all the way. I hate talking on the phone and it wears me out (introvert here). Unfortunately I couldn’t get away from phones in my previous jobs because I was basically doing customer service. However, where I am now (a tech company), there’s not a phone in sight (unless you count people’s cells) because everyone communicates using emails and chat systems. I freaking love it.

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I work for a temp agency and surprisingly, we get a really good response via text message.

    5. Turkletina*

      I work from home and my entire team is distributed, so phone isn’t really an option for me. I’m 30 and in technology, for what it’s worth.

    6. paul*

      Email if I can; I like paper trails damnit. So do our auditors. I spent an hour on the phone yesterday explaining that yes, some of the people and community non-profits I deal with *don’t use email* so I can’t communicate with them via email (and that I’m not refusing to work with abortion providers, there just aren’t any in the region).

    7. Murphy*

      If it’s a quick clarifying question, I don’t mind when people call me. Email is fine too. For anything involved or complicated, I prefer having it in writing, so I can go over all the details and take my time answering. Also that way I’m not forced to interrupt whatever I’m doing and research someone’s inquiry. I will almost always send email unless I really need an answer right now. If I need to have a lot of back and forth, I prefer the phone and will sometimes schedule these phone calls.

      I’m in my 30s and I’m non-faculty university staff. The people who contact me with questions are often but not always faculty.

    8. Agile Phalanges*

      VASTLY prefer e-mail, prefer it (or other text-based methods, for non-work things) for many reasons, but there is a time and a place for phones. Benefits of e-mail is you’re not interrupting the person you’re calling (or they’re not interrupting you), you can take time to formulate what you want to say, I’m better with visual information than aural and will internalize it much better, having a written record of what was said or agreed to, having that record be searchable later on, and probably many more.

      Benefits to phone including being able to hash out details. After about three e-mails in a chain without actually accomplishing anything, I usually give up and pick up the phone. Is easier for setting a date and time between people with busy schedules, hashing out who’s going to do what from a long-ish list (followed up in writing though), etc.

      I’m in a blue-collar manufacturing environment, though I work in the office, and I’m 40.

    9. Jadelyn*

      Email for the love of god. Phone only in emergencies. HR, credit union, and I’m 32.

      Mind you, I’m a wee bit heavy on email versus the rest of my org, and it’s a tug-of-war my manager and I have every now and again, because she is a “phone for everything, email only if you need an explicit paper trail for something” type – she’s in her 60s – so we wind up compromising, I call people more often than I would otherwise, and she doesn’t fuss at me about using the phone unless there’s a real reason to.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      Email, so I have 1) documentation, 2) instructions, and 3) don’t have to deal with it immediately if it’s not urgent. I’m 52. I prefer email to phone in most situations, but sometimes phone gets it done quicker.

    11. Infinity Anon*

      Email unless it is an emergency. If it is complicated, set up a time for a phone call by email.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        This. I don’t mind talking on the phone, but not cold calling or being cold called. Give me a heads up by IM or email and ask me to call or if it’s a good time for them to call and that works great. (Early 40s, engineer)

        Most of the senior people in my office (50+ yrs) would always suggest calling first rather than emailing if they were advising me on contacting someone, because it was both faster and more personal, that was the implication I got.

    12. Holly Flax*

      This is weird I know, but I’m 50/50. HR Manager, mid-20’s.

      I do not like when people stop by my office or call me for small, simple things that they could just as easily ask me to do over email because then I feel pressured to drop everything to do that thing then and now, or write it down and hope I don’t forget. I get especially annoyed when I email the person a clarifying question and they call or drop by to answer it. WHY??

      On the other hand, email can be wildly inefficient at solving complicated issues. Just today I spent 45 minutes on the phone with our payroll company unpacking an issue with our payroll system after realizing it would probably take weeks to resolve via email and we solved the problem. If I have a lot of questions or if someone has a lot of questions for me related to the same thing, calls or meetings are nice because it is easy to get caught up in the answer to one question and ignore the others in an email. I also prefer phone and in-person conversations for HR issues, but I think that goes without saying.

    13. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I’m an accountant and I find that some of the more technical conversations I need to have with non-accountants work better over the phone with a preliminary email sent as sort of a guide.
      I work in the transportation industry (specifically trucking) and most of these conversations are with operations people such as terminal managers.

    14. Anonymous Engineer*


      32, engineer for a design firm. Email provides written documentation for CYA purposes, for reference at a later date, etc.

    15. Adlib*

      Email or IM. Our company is on Skype, and to be honest, I’m annoyed if people just straight up call me without IM-ing me to ask if I have time first (whether I’m marked as “available” or not). Most people do, but there are a few repeat offenders who do not, and they annoy me.

      Industry – AEC
      Age – 30s

    16. zora*

      Timely example: I just stepped away from my desk and came back to a voicemail about a meeting confirmation I had just sent. The voicemail: “Is this for an in-person meeting or a phone call? Please call me back.”

      ……………… really????

    17. Spelliste*

      Email usually, but I’m happy to set up a quick call to discuss things. But please don’t call out of the blue if it’s not an emergency! I’m usually in the middle of something and it stresses me out and leaves me feeling unprepared to address the topic/question because my head’s still in the previous task. Scheduling it or at least confirming via email/IM that it’s a good time makes all the difference.

      Financial services (operations), 32. Public facing program manager.

    18. Havarti*

      Email. Research. Mid-30s. Paper trail. Or CYA! Also, I have trouble hearing sometimes and not being able to see a person’s face makes judging their tone of voice harder. I’ll do phone when I don’t want a paper trail or something is sufficiently complicated, it would take too long to write out. Also I hate phone because you can’t control the conversation. Like my boss insisted we call a client back so I did. We sorted out the issue, she started some small talk and then launched into a political rant complete with bible quotes. I was beyond stunned.

    19. LtBroccoli*

      Email, email, email.

      It provides a trail so I can prove what was said in case of dispute, I can think through what I need to say first, and it doesn’t interrupt anyone. Plus, when I inevitably forget what I/they said, I can look it up later.

      43, banking.

    20. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

      I’m in my late twenties, and email is my preference. I don’t mind making phone calls, but if MY phone rings, that’s a sign that something has gone horribly wrong and needs to be fixed RIGHT NOW. I used to have major phone anxiety, but then I took a job answering incoming calls all day for three years, and it got better and easier over time.

    21. Solo*

      Phone (or in person) for relationship building or meetings. Email for traceability, to-dos, and infodumps. IM or in person for “quick question, just need to clarify this to move on.”

      Late 20s, software engineer in the manufacturing sector. I work in an office where (almost) all of the members of my permanent team also work, but I also work with ad hoc project teams that involve remote colleagues and contractors who are anywhere from +2 to +16 hours off from my timezone.

    22. Someone else*

      Email. IT. 30s.
      For the most part when people need something from me or I need it from them, it’s going to be complex enough that a single phone call talking it through will help no one. Almost always there will be either screenshots involved or multiple steps etc. Either I’m going to need to refer to what they said later or they’re going to need to refer to what I said later, 90% of the time. If we have a phone call, we’re going to end up taking copious notes on the discussion that the person talking could’ve just sent in the first place and then it’d already be in writing.

      Also, other than pre-planned phone meetings, a phone call says “drop everything now and interact with me” and an email let’s you time it yourself.

    23. Mimmy*

      I prefer email but am fine with the phone if it’s with someone I know well (though most of my non-email communication is face-to-face).

      44, keyboarding instructor for blind & visually impaired adults

    24. nep*

      Prefer email, but definitely phone if I need immediate answers or confirmation of something. A nonprofit community organisation. Middle aged.

    25. Erin*

      34, product management/software

      I prefer email for things that (a) require a very thoughtful response (b) are not urgent or (c) should be documented in writing (commitments!).

      I use the phone(or stopping by, whichever is more feasible) for talking through “hey can you explain xyz ” type questions or when I’m asking for something I don’t feel like explaining /begging for over. And also, when I want to give the person a heads up about an email. “Jane, I’m about to fire off an email to client Y explaining the delay in elephant tuxedos. Is there anything I need to know? What can I tell her the new dates are?”

      “Jane, I just got an email from our CEO and he is livid about the delay in elephant tuxedos. Let’s talk trough a response before I send one…”

    26. crookedfinger*

      Email. Real estate, I’m 34.

      I have a bit of phone PTSD, but mostly I just prefer emails because I can 1. Revisit the information later 2. Spend time coming up with the best reply 3. Add it to my to-do list very easily 4. Retain the information more easily (I have a hard time remembering things I only hear) 5. “well, actually” people when they try to claim something that doesn’t jive with past conversations (“I NEVER told you to change X” “Hmm, well that’s odd. I have an email here from February 2nd where you told me to change that.” “…okay, I guess I did…”) —- which has also come in handy a lot of times when a weird one-off situation happens and then happens again in the future when I can no longer remember the specifics of the original problem. Just so much better than phone calls.

    27. MilkMoon (UK)*

      Email! I would throw my work phone out the window if I could (and my personal phone when supposed friends call instead of texting >___> )

      Early thirties, introvert and misanthrope.

      I actually work in customer service (phones and email) and while I’m very good on the phone I much prefer email queries, due both to the hating people and the feeling better able to articulate myself in writing.

    28. onyxzinnia*

      Email, email, email. It’s enormously helpful to have a historical record of the back and forth conversation rather than relying on my memory on what direction we decided to take on a particular project. I have been asked on multiple occasions “so what did we decide on this same project last year?”, with email, I can tell them in about 5 minutes. It also allows me the opportunity to lay out my thoughts clearly and thoughtfully.

      My next preferred method of communication is in person, especially if it’s sensitive information, an interpersonal conflict or team project brainstorming/ideation.

      Phones are the devil. If someone is calling me at work, 99% of the time it is a sales call I’m not interested in taking. My only exception is for existing vendors who need an immediate answer to make our deadlines.

      I’m 32 and I work in marketing for a tech company so that may skewer things a bit.

    29. Hrovitnir*

      Emaaaaaaail. It can be really fast! It can be left to wait if it’s not urgent! You can be far clearer! You can check back later and be sure of what you’re doing/what you said! <3 <3 <3

      Phone is good for: very short communications where it'll be more efficient, odd subjects that are lengthier in text, and people who just… don't communicate well by email (sigh).

      For the above, assuming close enough proximity I'd generally prefer to skip right over phone and go see them in person.

      Age: 32.

  32. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

    Can we talk more about writing personal statements and responding to person specifications, especially in the UK job market? We started talking about it the other day (link below) but I have some other questions.

    Is it okay to combine similar essential criteria into one heading and paragraph? For instance, “excellent writing skills” and “experience writing professional reports”. I would be inclined to have a single heading of perhaps “writing skills and experience” and write about both at once, maybe even using the report writing as an example of writing skills.

    If the application has a separate area for a “why do you want to work here” statement, should you skip any introductory statements and simply start the personal statement with the first criterion?

    For foreign qualifications, where the lines between academic departments don’t quite match those in the UK, should I explain the difference? In my case, archaeology is part of anthropology in the US but they are very separate departments in the UK, so my US degrees are in anthropology. Do I need to explain that or is it okay to assume that whoever is reading the application will know?

    What kind of examples would be good for the more vague criteria, such as “broad understanding of subject X” or “willing to learn”? Should I say that the fact that I’ve slogged through three degrees demonstrates a willingness to learn? Should I add a section to my CV that lists all the short continuing professional development courses I’ve done over the years?

    1. Dotty*

      Yes combine similar skills – in the past I’ve taken the job spec, combined the similar skills/requirements like you mentioned and then used them as sub-headings with a summary/short example of how your experience meets. I also really like when applicants for my team do this. Also like it when applicants start and/or finish with a few sentences on why they want to work for the company (amazing how many people just submit a generic statement)

    2. AeroEngineer*

      There are so many ways to set up education per country (how departments are split up etc), that I would definitely mention something about the degree name. Don’t assume the person will know, unless perhaps they spent some time studying or working in that system. A very short clarification would make sure there would be no issue.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      I’ve combined them before. Did it in the application for my current job. But what you need to do is list both criteria word for word to make it clear you’re answering both in one. I did it like this:

      Great knowledge of llama medicine
      Experience of llama healthcare
      Explanation here

      Otherwise someone may skim and think you skipped one of those points.

    4. Amey*

      I agree with Ramona Flowers, you can absolutely write about them both together but list both as they’re written on the person spec or they might well get missed. When we’re reviewing applications, we literally have a score card with all of the essential and desirable criteria listed on it and we score each applicant against it.

      If your degree is relevant to the job I’d make sure that you really understand the equivalencies and I’d explain it. If it’s not particularly relevant to the job, however, and the main requirement is that you have a degree then I wouldn’t worry about it. (e.g. If you’re applying for a departmental administrator job at my university, it won’t matter whether your degree is in archaeology or anthropology, if you’re applying to be an archaeology lecturer obviously it will.)

    5. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

      Thanks all! This is very helpful and I’m annoyed that I haven’t figured any of this stuff out earlier.

      FWIW I’m looking at heritage consultant jobs, so it probably depends on the company as to whether or not they know that anthropology = archaeology in the US. Companies that primarily do archaeology probably will, but I’m not so sure about engineering and planning firms. Is just saying “please note that archaeology is considered a sub-field of anthropology in the US”or similar sufficient?

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        They’re not always so separate in the UK. It’s not uncommon to see degrees in archaeology and anthropology.

        I’m a little confused by your additional note. If your degrees say they’re in anthropology, and then you randomly mention archaeology, it’s not clear that what you actually studied was archaeology and that’s why you’re mentioning it.

        If I’ve understood right, I think you’d be better off putting something like:

        Actual degree title (archaeology studied within school of anthropology)

        Willingness to learn: no, you shouldn’t claim studying at university is proof of this. Mentioning your learning and development, and times when you’ve demonstrated a willingness to learn at work, would be better.

        Add your CPD courses if they’re relevant to the job you’re applying for.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

          My US degrees (BA and MA) are technically from the Anthropology department, but my PhD is in Archaeology. But I studied archaeology in all of them, if that makes sense.

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        They’re not always so separate in the UK. It’s not uncommon to see degrees in archaeology and anthropology.

        I’m a little confused by your additional note. If your degrees say they’re in anthropology, and then you randomly mention archaeology, it’s not clear that what you actually studied was archaeology and that’s why you’re mentioning it.

        If I’ve understood right, I think you’d be better off putting something like:

        Actual degree title (archaeology studied within school of anthropology)

        Willingness to learn: no, you shouldn’t claim studying at university is proof of this. Mentioning your learning and development, and times when you’ve demonstrated a willingness to learn at work, would be better.

        Add your CPD courses if they’re relevant to the job you’re applying for.

        Just had a quick look at the original thread. I always do these with each item in the spec in bold and then a paragraph of prose explaining how I meet it.

  33. SNS*

    We’re having our Halloween “party” this afternoon (a trivia game, but mostly a reason to slack off on a Friday afternoon) and a surprising amount of my coworkers dressed up considering this was the first time we’re doing anything for Halloween. But the best costumes definitely go to my boss and coworker who both came in wearing those giant inflatable dinosaur costumes.

    Anyone else doing anything for Halloween? Or have any good dressing up at the office stories?

    1. Snark*

      One time I had to visit a field site that was located at 11,000 feet on an alpine ridge. In late October. Predictably, I was dressed for a 9-mile hike in snow with 60mph winds and 30 degree temperatures, which is to say, I looked like I was preparing for an Everest summit attempt, complete with glacier goggles and crampons.

      Then I brought the malfunctioning data logger back to my lab, and the department Halloween party was in full swing. Everyone was like, wooo, Snark, rad costume, and I’m like….wait what? Oh.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

        The best Halloween was when I went to the party wearing my field clothes, complete with mud. Easiest archaeologist costume ever.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

            Meh. He’s one of those flashy profs who show up when the BBC is filming but couldn’t actually dig his way out of a wet paper bag and has no idea how to do the paperwork.

              1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

                LOL in my world we wear hard hats and high vis vests! Though I am keen to get one of the hard hats shaped like a cowboy hat. I don’t think I’d be allowed to wear it in the UK though.

    2. KK*

      Not doing anything at the office, but my husband and I are going to a costume party hosted by one of my husband’s grad school friends tonight. We’re going as TJ & Spinelli from Recess!

    3. Tris Prior*

      At one place I worked, a middle-aged male co-worker came in dressed like a baby. A FEMALE baby. That was fairly disturbing.

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      I read a good one on here about an interview conducted in costumes – including a giant pink bunny I think!

    5. Adlib*

      Well, last night a coworker (and friend) invited me to a Halloween party on a brew bike with her bunco group. We had the BEST time! I dressed as the grim reaper. Big black robe with a black veil over the face. My favorite thing was just standing around quietly with it up. Scared one lady to death just by standing near her!

    6. This Daydreamer*

      We’ll have a party. I’m not scheduled that day but may show up anyway. I LOVE Halloween more than any other holiday.

    7. Hashtag Petty*

      We don’t do anything at my current office, but Halloween was big at my last office. I was thrilled to see today that a former coworker posted an incredibly unflattering picture of my last boss (who was horrible) looking like an actual rat.

  34. Tea Time Anonymous*

    So I have an interesting problem. I started working at one of my dream companies not quite 2 months ago. Everything’s been great but I don’t know what to do about this situation. The company takes part in an entertainment industry (let’s say playing with tea sets) and they encourage employees to play during their free time, including at work. Problem is, I feel like my boss walks on me 3/4ths of the time playing because I’ll be waiting to hear from him for an hour, still nothing, so I start playing and then he walks in 5 mins. later to see me playing. Is there anyway to mitigate this?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Wait, but the company encourages you to play during your free time, so why is there anything to mitigate?

      1. Tea Time Anonymous*

        I guess it’s more because I feel like outwardly it looks like I’m not working or don’t have much to do.

    2. JulieBulie*

      OK, so play… but don’t play when you are waiting for him, because that’s the one time when your boss is likely to come looking for you.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

        What they said. It’s the same principle that says that your dinner will arrive the moment you decide to go to the restroom at the restaurant.

    3. nonegiven*

      Any chance he has a camera set up, waiting for you to start playing?

      Test it, next time start playing right away and see if he shows up any more quickly.

  35. PM by Day Knitter by Night*

    So I work in a data center – open cubicle areas – with about 180 people. Signs went up this week that our desk trash would no longer be picked up, and that we’d be responsible for emptying it ourselves. That’s a new one on me. It’s not a big deal but it just strikes me as kind of a cheesy way to (presumably) save a few bucks. And also kind of weird. Anyone else subject to bizarre cost savings measures?

    1. Queen of the File*

      We have that here. I’m in favour of operating reasonably cheaply, but it always felt kind of inefficient that we now had to carry our own trash and recycling half a city block to the waste centre on the other side of the building. I mentioned this to someone shortly after the change was made and they looked at me like I must have grown up with a gold toilet in my house. I dunno! I guess cube-side pickup must be expensive?

    2. extra anon today*

      I worked for a small city (100k people) where they got rid of ALL janitorial staff for anyone not in city hall as a cost saving measure during the recession. We had to not only take out our own trash (including the break room and bathrooms) but mop /vacuum our own floors, clean the windows, clean the kitchen, pick up litter on the grounds, sort the recycling, the list goes on. I didn’t mind it because it would be nice to take a break from working and do some basic cleaning but it sure seemed odd that they were paying the director $40/hr to mop!

      1. Bibliovore*

        We had something similar at our office. I sent a note asking about how workers who cannot carry their trash across to the central location were to be accommodated. Our trash is picked up once a week in our department.

      2. LAI*

        I thought the same thing! The public university where I work cut janitorial services a few years ago due to budget issues. Every time I am sweeping the floor, I think “do they know how much they are paying me to do this?”

    3. SacherTorte*

      It could be that people are abusing their garbage cans and that the cleaning company/staff have brought up enough concerns that management is handling it by putting the responsibility back on the employees.

      I used to help my mom clean offices when I was a teen and this scenario played out at a few of them. You’d be amazed/horrified at the things people leave in the garbage cans right next to their desks.

        1. SacherTorte*

          Bodily waste is way more common than you would hope, as well as things that technically are garbage but are above the pay grade of an office cleaner to handle. I’ve seen everything from feces (presumably adult, as well as diapers that are unwrapped and loose) vomit and coughed up mucus (still wet! on the lip where maybe you don’t notice and it gets on you!), beard trimmings, rotten food (dumped loose), used condoms, dead mice from traps in the office…

          A lot of the offices that she worked for had cost cutting rules in effect like only replacing most garbage bags once a week, many just used a bare bin (kitchen and bathroom are sometimes exempt) so as the cleaner you occasionally have to literally handle the garbage. Then if there are no bags what do you do with the desecrated waste basket? Put it back dirty? Handwash them?

          On the plus side, between that job and working at an animal shelter there’s very little that most work places can do to gross me out. After I reached into a paper recycling bin at the tender age of 15 and accidentally put my hand in a diaper that some baby nuked from orbit my definition of a bad day shifted dramatically.

    4. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      The last place I worked had about the same number of cubes and they went one further. They took away the trash cans from cubes because they didn’t trust people to empty them. They were replaced with larger trash cans at the beginning of each cube row. They claimed it was to save the cleaning staff (which had just been reduced) time.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Same at my last company – our regular sized cube trash cans were replaced by pencil-holder sized trash “cups” to use at our desks, and those were to be emptied (by us) into larger bins near the doors.

        But I do think the savings (if any) were used up by the recycling and composting program, so in theory it was a good trade. In practice, the number of people who did not understand how to properly compost or recycle, despite charts explaining what goes where… pretty sure all of the bins ended up in landfill due to cross contamination.

        1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

          It would be an improvement if we got little cups for rubbish. We have to improvise. Rubbish is collected from a central area (we have to take it down there, and separate the recycling), which is also where the printers are, so it can get crowded – which doesn’t stop ignorant idiots stopping there for a chat!
          We also get “cleaned” once a week – in practise this means a semi dirty cloth is wiped over whatever bits of the desk are clear, with keyboards and phones and personal effects unceremoniously shoved out of the way.
          Which is an improvement on my previous office. One of my colleagues had some ornamental turtles on her desk, and would frequently find them in a “turtle sutra” by one of the cleaners. Ick.

    5. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      My mid-sized nonprofit doesn’t pick up trash from cubes — in fact, they don’t provide trash bins for cubes and offices (instead, we have teeny-tiny contains for trash — like, the size of 1.5 cans of soda — that we’re supposed to use to collect trash and then bring it to the communal trash containers in the kitchenette/etc. when it’s full).

      It’s a part of our LEED certification; they discovered that by eliminating trash cans it reduced the overall amount of waste created at our building. Ok, fine. The downside is that there’s a literal pile of trash in the kitchen on Friday afternoons when everyone carries their personal trash to the communal trash container at the end of the week. (Oh, and lots of us bought larger trash bins for our cubes. They still don’t get picked up, but at least we don’t have to empty them as frequently as the little soda can sized containers.)

      Recycling is picked up daily from cubes, so there’s no cost savings in terms of janitorial support.

    6. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Last 2 places I worked were like this. Place #1 only had recycling bins at your desk and current doesn’t want you eating at your desk so no garbage can.

      1. PepperVL*

        Are you also never supposed to blow your nose at your desk, break a pen at your desk, etc.? I don’t put food trash in my cubicle trash can because the owner’s dog wanders the office sometimes, but I still use my trash can.

    7. KarenK*

      TPTB issued an edict that we had to bring our office trash to a central location, not particularly far away, just a bit down the hall. After either forgetting it or deciding to wait a few times, I noticed that someone was getting my trash again. Didn’t last long.

    8. Chaordic One*

      I recently moved away from a state where a lot of well-to-do (mostly corporate) donors had donated millions of dollars for new buildings in the state university system. New buildings. It sounds great. What could go wrong?

      Well, no one came up with any money for additional janitorial staff or for gardeners to tend the grounds surrounding these new buildings. The state is in recession and reluctant to pass any new taxes to pay for additional janitors. So the existing janitorial staff is doing the same amount of work spread over more buildings so really things aren’t getting done with the regularity that they should be.

  36. Bibliovore*

    We are in the middle of a “engagement survey” I wish I could pinpoint why it is so annoying. My department is always scoring super engaged. Nothing changes for the ones that aren’t engaged. They are not going to get more money, better hours, or more interesting work. We all want more staff. Not going to happen. Part-time staff wants full time jobs and benefits. Not going to happen. None of this is news but we pay a consultant firm big money to survey and compile results. Before it was strength training. Thoughts on this sort of thing?

    1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

      Why do they bother if nothing can realistically change? I had a somewhat similar exercise once, where we had to fill out these evaluation forms and create a plan for future training but it was a fixed term contract and everyone knew that only some of us would get extensions. It seemed kind of silly to make us go through it, but I guess maybe it helped them decide who to extend.

    2. Kathenus*

      I may be in a minority, but I think they can be useful if they are designed well and management is truly using them to try to foster positive change – and is committed to using the information to try to improve. One thing that might help, and I don’t think this is done enough in these kind of surveys, is to have verbiage for some of the questions on how to improve along the lines of ‘within current resources’. This way people are directed to try to focus on more realistic changes versus things like more staff, a new office, etc.

    3. NoMoreMrFixit*

      I’ve heard it referred to as management theatre. Give the illusion of doing something constructive without having to actually commit to anything. I’ve worked in places that would engage in these sort of exercises periodically but they were nothing more than a mirage and it was business as normal soon afterwards.

      Yes I worked in some pretty dysfunctional places. No wonder I’ve become cynical in my old age. :-)

  37. Stop That Goat*

    So, don’t need any help but today is my last day at my current employer before I move on to a lead position at a higher level and new branch of government. I’m pretty excited and I think the interview and cover letter advice on here had a large part to do with it. Thanks AAM (and community)!

  38. CoffeeLover*

    I’m getting some bad vibes from one place where I’m interviewing and I want to see what you guys think. I usually feel good after an interview, but something just feels off here…. its hard to say for sure though because its more vibes than anything serious.

    The company is a big global retailer and is the #1 place new grads want to work in the country. I’m not a new grad (a few years out) and I’m not from this country so I don’t have the same starry eyed look at the company.

    The things that make me pause:
    1) They’re super (SUPER) focused on culture. I had an hour long interview just talking about fit, which is important, but some questions rubbed me the wrong way because they were trying too hard to dig into my personality. Plus, an hour describing my personality (and only personality) with an HR person seems excessive. The reason this is a concern is because I’ve found in the past that companies that focus too much on culture do so because they have other, bigger problem (ie politics and poor management) that they’re glossing over. One glass door review confirmed as much (not that I want to base everything on that.)

    2) Speaking of glossing things over with “good” culture: I’ve heard the salary is way below market. While I’m not super concerned about salary, I think this reflects badly on how they value their people.

    3) In 2 hours of interviews I didn’t get the chance to ask a single question. It makes me feel like they don’t treat the hiring process as a two-way street and don’t respect candidates as having options. The interviews were basically one question after another, so I didn’t get to know the people interviewing me at all and it didn’t feel like a conversation. Not to mention that I’ve yet to interview with someone I would actually work with (and I’m almost at the final stage).

    4) They have a lot of people working for the firm that have only ever worked there. This is because they hire new grads a lot and promote quickly from within. While this might sound good, I’ve worked in this environment before and it usually meant a lot of inexperienced managers that are set in their ways. And people that don’t know what is and isn’t acceptable from an employer.

    I’m actually interviewing for 2 different roles at this company and I also got bad vibes from the other interview. That was only a phone screen though so I couldn’t exactly pinpoint where the vibes came from. Still 2/2 bad vibes isn’t something I should ignore right? Thoughts?

    1. Stop That Goat*

      I’m personally a proponent of following your gut instinct. The fact that you haven’t been able to ask questions or actually meet/talk to anyone from the team does seem off. Add on the salary issue on top of it and I’d think it was a serious red flag. I’d guess that since they hire a lot of new grads, they are able to lowball the salary pretty easily.

      1. Awkwardest Turtle*

        Yesss follow gut instincts. I had a bad gut feeling about one of my current bosses when I interviewed with him. Nothing I could even put my finger on, just a vibe. Turns out he was a jerk. Luckily I’ve outlasted him and I have much better bosses now.

      2. CatCat*

        I agree with this. The whole thing has been a time suck for you and only bad vibes have come from it.

        I mean, you could keep going if you have time for it, but you could also set the parameters for it, especially if you don’t really care if it stops now. You don’t have to keep jumping through hoops if you don’t want to. You can say if there are hoops you will jump through. If you get another callback, you can ask for more info. “Will I be meeting with the person who will be my supervisor?” “Before we continue, I want to make sure we’re in the same ballpark on the salary for this position. I’m looking for $X-$Y depending on benefits. Given this range, does it make sense for us to keep talking?”

        If you don’t like the answers to these types of questions or find they act cagey or annoyed, “Thank you for your time, but I’m going to withdraw from considerations for the position.”

        1. CoffeeLover*

          Thank you for all the input! Its nice to hear I’m not way off base here. I also tend to trust my gut as it’s served me well in the past. I do have the time (and I suppose can view it as practice if nothing else), so if I hear back I think I’ll go in for the final interview and ask some hard questions. Overall though, I’m definitely leaning towards no for this one. If I were a new grad, this would sound like an amazing opportunity. But frankly I’ve grown from then and don’t jump at the chance to drink the company koolaid.

    2. JulieBulie*

      I agree with Stop That Goat’s assessment. I wouldn’t say that the reddish flags are deal-breakers, but they’re not good either. This retailer is taking advantage of the fact that people want to work there.

      If you think it would still be a good thing to have on your resume, you can work there while continuing to look for something better.

    3. Mints*

      The first screens have been with HR, and you haven’t met with potential managers? I’d keep in the running until you meet the manager but keep aware of the flags you want to ask about

    4. Mockingjay*


      Toxic ExJob was like this. (Link to previous open thread provided in reply.)

      How much time did you spend discussing the actual work involved? Did THEY have a clear understanding of what it should be? The latter was the biggest problem at Toxic ExJob. The company had won a contract with a big government agency and were hopelessly inexperienced in the work. They thought the culture would compensate. Nope.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        I read your previous post and yikes! The 1.5hr HR interview you had sounds like mine! I think it was one of the most exhausting interviews I ever had.

    5. This Daydreamer*

      Follow your instincts. The fact that you couldn’t ask any questions but they wanted to know everything about you seems really off kilter. It feels like they’re assuming that they’re such an amazingly awesome company that OF COURSE you’ll want to work there, so why would you want to ask silly questions about work/life balance or benefits?

    6. Lemon Zinger*

      I worked for a company like that (possibly the company you are describing). It was horrible. Listen to your gut and stay away!

    7. Windchime*

      If this is the big, giant company in Seattle, they have a reputation of being kind of a sweatshop. Might be OK if you’re just getting out of university, but it’s not someplace I even applied to when I was looking last year. I’m more interested in stability and reasonable work/life balance, and that giant retailer probably isn’t the place to get it. Proceed, but proceed with caution.

      1. one_more*

        This actually was my first thought too. I actually interviewed with them in Europe but my experience was similar to what is described here.

          1. one_more*

            Oh :) If it is what I think it is (there are not so many well-known Scandinavian retailers, are there?) then I’m a bit surprised. The company from Seattle is known for being like this, but the Scandinavian retailer isn’t as far as I know.

            1. CoffeeLover*

              I’m not concerned about worklife balance – these guys are known to have that under conteocontrol

            2. CoffeeLover*

              I’m not concerned about worklife balance – these guys are known to have that under control. I’m more concerned about poor management and not valuing employees (under paying, ignoring input, not rewarding based on personal performamce, etc.)

    8. Marthooh*

      #1 place new grads want to work? Bad news. They can get their choice of employees and then mistreat them because they’re too inexperienced to know better.

      Run away as fast as you can, shouting “It’s a cookbook! It’s a cookbook!”

      1. CoffeeLover*

        Haha yep. My first “real” job was at one of these firms that heavily targets new
        grads. It was not a good environment and has made me really question any place that thinks having the majority of staff be inexperienced is a good idea.

  39. Lolly Scrambler*

    How long has it taken you to get a contract after your informal offer and did it arrive via email or snail mail? It’s only been 10 days since I got the job but I am very impatient to quit the job I have. Also are you supposed to say something to your boss before you have something formal or can it wait until it’s official?

      1. Amey*

        I work at a UK university and I remember it took ages for my contract to come through. I didn’t have anything in writing before then and I don’t think they quite understood that I wanted that before handing in my notice (!!) I don’t think it would be a problem at all to get in touch with your new employer to check the timeline. I think I probably went back to the head of the hiring committee who was the person who called to offer me the job and that would be totally fine to do at my university.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I just accepted a new job at a US university. I got the verbal off on the 12th and the written offer on the 23rd. The written offer was pending a background check, which I was confident that I would pass, but I did not tell my current boss until I had the offer in writing. So long as you are still able to give two weeks’ notice from date of acceptance of the written offer, my cautious self would go that route.

      1. Murphy*

        Yeah, if there’s a background check, it can take a while. I always wait for a written offer before providing notice.

        1. Lolly Scrambler*

          Thanks Not a Real Giraffe and Murphy. I am waiting for the written offer just wish it would hurry up!

  40. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

    How can I address the office winker? I need scripts to politely tell him that winking at the women in the office (because I’m pretty sure he doesn’t wink at any of the men) is not an office appropriate greeting. He’s such a nice guy, but every time he says good morning and winks at me, I try not to outwardly flinch.
    Or is this not a big deal? Or should I just tell him that *I* feel uncomfortable with his winking and not get into how he greets the men in the office vs. the women?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Send him some screenshots of people’s Twitter reactions to Woody Allen’s remarks on Harvey Weinstein.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Are you his direct supervisor? If so, then it should be a pretty straight forward conversation.

      If not, can you ask his direct supervisor to mention how inappropriate it is?

    3. A.N.O.N.*

      Similar issue.

      One particular custodian winks every time I see him. I referred to him once as “the one who winks” and my male boss had no idea who I was talking about. My female coworker knew instantly.

      Personally, I’m ok flinching internally, rolling my eyes, and letting it go. It’s not a big enough offense that I think warrants saying anything – but that’s because I see him once, maybe a twice, a week and in passing only. You may feel differently if you have more contact with him. Perhaps a casual “Hey, what’s with the winking?” next time you see him as an indicator that it’s a Slightly Weird Thing will be enough to get him to stop.

    4. strawberries and raspberries*

      EW. No, it is a big deal. I think you can frame it like, “I don’t know if you’re aware, but winking can come across as flirtatious, so if you can help it please try not to wink at your coworkers.”

      I’ll never forget at my last site when we were doing a recruitment event and I was eating a sandwich at my desk (because I was still working on something while I ate) and this candidate walked by me and said, “Enjoy that!” in this drippy flirtatious voice and winked. SO GROSS. I obviously told the Account Manager doing the screening, who later told me that the guy winked at him afterwards also.

    5. FD*

      Are you his supervisor? If you aren’t, then I think you’d be better off just sticking with asking you not to wink at you. He’ll likely use some variant on “You’re too uptight” or “Can’t a man greet a pretty lady?” so be prepared for that. Captain Awkward has some good scripts to field that on this morning’s post.

    6. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

      Thanks all! He’s my coworker, so I’ll go with the confused/concerned, but pointed questions about his winking at me specifically.

    7. Camellia*

      You, making Concerned Face: “Oh my gosh!!! Are you okay??? Do you have something in your eye??? No??? Are you sure??!!??”

      Him: [whatever, doesn’t really matter what he says to justify/explain]

      You, shaking head, now with Frowny-but-still-somewhat-concerned Face: “Well, that was weird! I thought for sure you had some kind of eye problem it was soooo twitchy!!! Goodness!”

      Then promptly and smoothly walk away, continuing with shaking head.

      Repeat as needed.

    8. Cabinet Door Builder*

      I’ve worked most of my life in areas that are male heavy. Truly, it’s probably a habit, and I’ve always just addressed things like this as habits.

      “You know, you probably don’t realize you’re doing this, but every morning when you say hello you wink at me. I realize it’s probably just a lifetime habit and means nothing to you, but can you stop? It just comes across in a way I’m sure you don’t intend. Can you change it to a habit of not winking? I’ll remind you if you forget.”

      This has worked me me multiple times. In some cases it was sexism, but by treating it in this light, I’ve educated the offender and stopped the problem. It also usually takes a reminder or two, but once he knows you’re serious, he’ll stop.

  41. Panhandling*

    I had an interesting panhandling experience this morning. I’m walking to work, minding my own business, when a guy asks “do you know about any jobs that are hiring?” Sorry guy, no. But good luck.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      If it happens again, can you refer him to the state career center or something?

      I was walking (for exercise) one day and some dude in a car pulled up beside me to ask if I had a cigarette. DO I LOOK LIKE I AM SMOKING RIGHT NOW

      1. people really do that*

        ha! Would smoking while exercising be better or worse than my neighbor’s habit of eating chips and drinking Dr Pepper on his 2+ mile walks?

        1. dawbs*

          Once upon a time, I ate 1/4 of a bag of marshmallows while riding an exercise bike.
          Sorry/notsorry/I totally shouldn’t admit that.

  42. MechanicalPencil*

    Just wanted to give a shout out to all the HR people actually are able to take steps to help employees (or try to). Thanks for caring and doing all you can to help.

  43. Typhon Worker Bee*

    It’s my last day in my current job today! It’s my first time ever leaving a job I like that has funding to keep me. Even though I’m confident I’m making the right move and I’m excited to start my new job on Wednesday, I have a bit of an “ohhhh, what have I done?” feeling about leaving a job where I enjoy (most of) the work, know how to do it without too much angst, and really like the people I work with. (I moved here after having a job where I liked the people but didn’t enjoy the work, to one where I enjoyed the work but had no people (very isolated desk and role), so I’m extra appreciative of having a job where I like both, and it’s tough to leave!)

    1. Stop That Goat*

      I understand! I was pleased with my job but was ready to move up the ladder and today is my last day. I have very little complaints about my current position and I went back and forth a lot before I accepted the new one. It may take a bit but if you are confident you are making the move, I’m sure the anxiety will ease up. At least I hope so!

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I’m right there with you this week! I just gave notice to a job that I have nothing against, and I will be very sad to leave some of my colleagues. I always find that as soon as I give notice, I immediately gain rose-colored glasses about my current work environment. It’s like preemptive nostalgia.

      I think it’s helpful to reframe it as being able to walk away with good memories before anything sours, and keep in mind that there was a reason you accepted a new job in the first place!

    3. JN*

      Me three. I’m one week into my 3 week notice period to leave my current job for a similar one in the same metro area that will pay me more. Low salary here (and knowing it wouldn’t change) was why I searched (still like my boss, coworkers, duties, etc.). I’ll be doing some of the same kinds of things and a few new things as well, but I am feeling a bit of wistfulness and nerves about leaving a known quantity for the unknown (and finding a new place to live at the same time). And dealing with an insurance company about an accident I was in that was caused by one of their drivers (one who didn’t report the accident to them in the week and a half between when it happened and when I called them and reported it).

    4. Typhon Worker Bee*

      Good to know I’m not alone :)

      I’ve had kind of a crazy week jam-packed with extra meetings (everyone seemed to suddenly realise I’m leaving all at once, even though I gave six weeks notice), so it’s not been fun, which is helping in a strange way!

          1. Typhon Worker Bee*

            Yes, I have (I contributed some money to the kickstarter campaign), and I agree. It’s hard to tell the difference between Sayer and Ocean, for starters. I think I need to wait until the season ends, then listen to the whole thing all the way through, instead of one episode every two weeks. I re-listened to the whole series before this new season started, and it did seem to help!

  44. A.N.O.N.*

    (Regarding NYC’s new salary history law)

    So starting Tuesday, we’re not allowed to ask candidates their salary history (including benefits). That said, if a candidate voluntarily and without prompting discloses their salary history, we’re allowed to consider that information and also to verify it.

    A) I am assuming this means we are only able to verify the information a candidate tells us regarding their salary history. (Example: if they tell us about a specific benefit they receive at their current company, we are only allowed to verify that particular benefit at that company, and no other benefits.) Is this correct? No communication I’ve seen has explicitly stated this – it always uses the plural and all-encompassing “salary history” – but it’s what makes sense.

    B) While I understand the need to allow employers to consider salary history if volunteered, doesn’t this pave the way for some sketchy practices? My mind is already envisioning tons of scenarios where this gets twisted, from candidates thinking that disclosing more information will endear them to companies, to companies that never explicitly prompt candidates but has candidates “volunteer” the information. Thoughts?

    1. FormerOP*

      Yeah, I am a little skeptical about the efficacy of these types of laws (I think in a healthy way.) There is just so much potential for humans to find ways around these restrictions, and potential for unintended consequences. I can imagine that there are situations where people will get low-balled on salary because the new employer will ASSUME that a woman (for example) is getting paid less at her current job, and just continue to offer a low salary. I agree with your point B that some folks will decide it is worth it to disclose salary, which again seems like a case of unintended consequences.

      1. Natalie*

        Isn’t this true of any labor law, though? There are people skirting minimum wage, mandatory overtime, tax withholding, etc. I don’t think it’s a compelling reason to not have those regulations.

    2. Alice*

      Why would you want to verify their past benefits? I mean, whether they got benefit X or not at their last job, they’re asking for it now. And you have to decide if you want to provide it, whether or not company Y provided it. How does one thing affect the other?

      1. A.N.O.N.*

        This isn’t tied to a specific situation – just trying to discuss the law.

        Benefits can be a huge part of one’s compensation plan. The “verifying” part isn’t really the key here- it’s the being able to consider it when making an offer. If you’re applying for a job, you might not ask for a specific benefit, but if you (voluntarily) told a company that you were receiving $X annually with 1 week of vacation and no 401(k), and the company you’re applying to offers 5 weeks of vacation and a 10% match, then they may offer a smaller increase. Not saying that’s good practice (it’s not!), but it happens.

        1. Alice*

          I’m sure it does happen…. I suppose the only thing one can do is try to stay on the alert for patterns of certain groups of people getting lower compensation (or worse benefits packages).
          I hope that your organization allows you to discuss the range that’s associated with the position early in the process, so that you and candidates can cut things off early when your range and the candidates’ ranges are far apart. Good luck!

        2. Epsilon Delta*

          I can kind of see where you’re coming from here, but my feeling is (having never hired someone), either the position is worth $X that the candidate is asking for, or it’s not. The fact that they came up with $X because they added old salary plus benefits (vs they just want $X and aren’t considering benefits) doesn’t really change anything on your end right?

          I guess I could see verifying it if they are trying to negotiate vacation time, but most other benefits like health insurance aren’t negotiable. Again I come back to, my feeling is, the job is worth a certain amount to you, why does that change based on the candidate’s previous job?

  45. Karen*

    How do you handle feedback that you strongly disagree with? I mean in the sense that it’s hard for you to understand how someone could even come to the conclusion that you need to improve on something. We recently had a leadership change and the new leader says I need to improve in area X. But this was something I saw as a real strength of mine and it was something my previous leader praised me for (and he was generally a very honest person) and that I’ve been praised by other areas of the company that I’ve worked with. When I asked for examples, this person said that she’d heard it from “multiple areas” that I needed improvement, but wouldn’t get more specific than that. When I mentioned that I’d heard otherwise, she said that sometimes people won’t be completely honest with you in an attempt to spare your feelings. But I kind of feel like my previous leader isn’t the type to spare my feelings and the feedback was actually on my performance assessment.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I would probably follow up again and ask for specific examples, not to protest and say “Hey, I’m actually good at this!” but more in the vein of “I can work on this better if I know exactly what I’m working on.”

    2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

      Yikes. I guess I’d try to get them to tell me at least what “areas” this feedback came from. I would not be surprised they were from different areas of their own head. Failing that, is there anyone in those other areas that you could ask for informal feedback?

    3. Gandalf the Nude*

      It would suck, but it’s possible that she’s right. So I think I would start by covering that base and going to some of the people who have praised me before and ask for their feedback again, explaining that New Leader said she’d heard from multiple people that it was something I needed to improve. I’d be explicit that I would welcome any suggestions and not to worry about hurting my feelings. I would probably also do the same with folks I’d worked with in area X that hadn’t praised me. It’s possible that even if X is an area of strength for you that there’s still room for improvement, which would be good to know!

      If that reinforced my perception of X as a strength, though, I’d either roll on and ignore New Leader’s comment (probably privately thinking she’s sort of a doof) or circle back to her to push back, depending on my sense of what she wanted. That second part would probably be something like “I thought about what you said about improving in area X and actually asked folks for their honest feedback. But no one suggested any areas for improvement. I’m a little stuck here. Could you be more specific about what you’ve heard or from whom?” She might then give you something concrete to work with, but I suspect she’ll continue with her vagaries, in which case see: ignore and privately think she’s a doof.

    4. LCL*

      Having been in this exact situation before, I would say the new leader wants you to do this task her way instead of your way. Or you are really good at your job and she is seeing you as a threat. Or possibly both.
      ‘ Multiple areas’ or ‘multiple people’ are the adult equivalent of ‘everybody sez’ and are generally cover up double speak for ‘this is what I think’.

    5. princess carolyn*

      I suggest pushing back on the lack of specific information. If it’s a legit critique, your new leader should be able to come up with a couple of examples of times you came up short in this area. If it’s a bogus critique, a decent leader/manager will realize that when they discover they have no specific information.

      Do you have records of past performance evaluations that praise you for your skills in X? If so, pull those out and see if you can make sense of the situation. It’s possible the leader is saying “X” when they really mean “Y,” or that you’re fantastic at one aspect of X but they want you to be better at a different aspect.

      Finally, is this the sort of thing you can quantify at all? Push to set some kind of goal in this area, something more measurable than “Be better at X.” That way you’ll know how your future performance stacks up against this current criticism.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      “What would you like that I am not doing? I will gladly adjust as soon as I know where to adjust.”

      I have also been known to use the “tire them out” approach, especially when I have strong reason to believe the complaint is bogus. “Okay, so you don’t have anything that you can put your finger on. Can we come back to this on a different day? I would like us to take some incubation time and figure out how I can better help our department. Is Friday a good day to come back to this?”

      General approach, show sincere concern, use a sincere tone of voice. Get specifics of how I can improve. If nothing is forthcoming then I nail down a date to meet again and discuss it further.

      In some cases, they forget the appointment and don’t show up. I ask to reschedule with saying, “I like my job and it’s important to me to do a good job that is of value to the company.” Just my experience, but good bosses are impressed and bad bosses are ticked that I keep following up. Good bosses will sit down with me and bad bosses will say “oh never mind”.

  46. Question for Employment Lawyers!*

    Any advice/thoughts for someone considering a career switch to employment law?

    Currently doing HR but more and more thinking that I’d really like the law side of it. That said, I’m not sure about the work-life balance… I’m more of a work-to-live than a live-to-work type.