open thread – October 6-7, 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.

{ 1,386 comments… read them below }

  1. Office Wonderings*

    I think five years of office jobs since I graduated college are starting to leave me a little stircrazy. As I commute to and from my job every day, I’ve been eyeballing all the trucks that pass me with company names on the side. AC repair, pest control, mobile communications, mail/package delivery, pet invisible fence installation.

    I think about a man I met from the UK who drove trucks, or a lorry as he said. He would drive for a year with a large salary, then travel for a year, then go back to the UK and repeat the cycle. I wish I could have that kind of life, but it doesn’t seem feasible for a young female like me. Last night I was even researching office managers and veterinary assistants of pet resorts/kennels/vet postings which seem to make more money than I do, plus animals! (Obviously I know these jobs aren’t playing with cute animals 24/7 but still…)

    I can’t tell if this is a post-college/quarter life crisis hitting me or if I really do want to make a drastic career change. I know office jobs are more sustainable in the long run, which is something my parents drilled into my head, that if I wasn’t pursuing a job for passion, then I should focus on sustainability. So part of me is worried that I’d be messing up a resume that’s a solid foundation of office work for the rest of my working life. But part of me is bored out of my mind and wanting something more hands on and engaging. Shouldn’t I do this now while I’m still young and could switch back to office work later in life (my aunt went from office work to teacher to back to office work, so it is possible)? I know the blog is mostly read by office workers (that’s the idea I get based on most of the office related questions anyway) so I’m curious to hear if anyone has been able to make that transition, or if I’m just a bored employee rambling off about the grass being greener elsewhere.

    1. Specialk9*

      Dog walking. I know someone who walked dogs, and then had so much business she had to hire 4-5 people last I checked. A guy near me doesn’t take clients, he’s booked, but he walks dogs so he can primary care for his baby. I pay $30/visit for my two dogs, and most dogs need 2-3 walks a day. You could build up experience, money, and reputation and do a doggie daycare/boarding facility. Check out major cities and how much dog daycare and boarding costs.

      1. Blue*

        Really? $30 per visit?! Suddenly my career choice seems remarkably poor. Are you in a very large city?

        1. Snark*

          Deduct health insurance premiums, taxes (including both sides of the employment tax), transportation/fuel, and insurance/bonding from that, and it starts to seem a little less lavish.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Plus, you’re just getting paid for the time you’re walking the dog. How many 30 minute walks could you reasonable schedule in a day? Like, 5, max? (Nobody needs their dog walked at 8am or 7pm; everyone wants you there in the same 11-2 time frame.)

            My high school job (bringing ponies to kids’ birthday parties) is still the best hourly rate I’ve ever made… except we only got paid for the hour we were at the party, not the time getting the pony ready, or driving to the party, or waiting for the party to start, etc. etc. etc. (Yep, we were paid under-the-table by a company with shady labor practices. But I did get to play with kids and ponies, and made more in one weekend day than my friends working retail did all week.)

          2. Manders*

            Yep, most people I know who had a dog walking or petsitting gig had at least one other source of income. It’s very, very difficult to make a living just dog walking; you need to live in or near a fairly dense and affluent area, you usually need a car to get between clients’ houses, you rarely have benefits, etc.

            There’s an app called Rover that connects dog walkers with clients, so that might be a way to try getting a few gigs, but it’s not quit-your-day-job money.

            1. Optimistic Prime*

              The only person I know who does dog-sitting as his only source of income is my own dog sitter, who I found and book through He is a stay at home dad who has a house with an acre of land and he watches 5-10+ dogs at the same time, so he’s running a full-on in-home dog day care as far as I’m concerned. He never travels for holidays – which is one of the reasons I patronize him consistently because he’s always available precisely when I (and most other dog owners who use sitters) would need him.

              And still, he’s pretty clear about the fact that his is the secondary income in the household.

          3. Blue*

            Fair enough. I’m sure it isn’t as lucrative as it sounds, but fuel costs around here would be negligible, and we have government health care. Not quitting my day job though!

        2. JonesyJustJonesy*

          I’m in DC and my dog walker charges about the same and has a minimum of 2 walks per week.

          $18 for 1 dog/$26 for 2 dogs/$30 for 3 dogs (30 min), $12 for 1 dog (15 minutes)

          Weekends and holidays extra.

      2. ali*

        Wow! Mine is only $15/visit for two dogs and she discounts that if she comes more than twice a week.

      3. Night Cheese*

        Yeah, a friend’s sister has a dogwalking business in Boston, and is doing really well for herself.

        1. Specialk9*

          The kennel we go to is only $50/day (the nearby boutique place with doggie massages costs $100/day, and they have lots of dogs at any given time. They are in a large big dog and a small dog room, and there is an outdoor space with climbing and chill space. They interview dogs for aggression to make sure they can handle it, and feed/medicate dogs. My dogs love it there. They need overnight staffing though.

    2. Blue Anne*

      I totally sympathize. It’s why I’m getting into real estate on the side. Eventually, it’ll be all I do, and I’ll have control over my own schedule. Or that’s the plan.

      I’m buying a powerwasher this weekend. I can’t wait to powerwash things! Way better than invoicing all day for $17/hour.

      1. persimmon*

        My landlord/former roommate did this! He started off as an accountant who bought a house in a cheap neighborhood instead of renting, and leased out all the rooms but his. Then he bought and rented out another house or two, then found an investor, hired a property manager… Four years later he has I think a few dozen properties and a whole little staff.

        1. Blue Anne*

          That’s pretty much how I’m doing it. :)

          I’m rehabbing my own house right now, so I can’t get a roommate, but I have five rental units and am closing on two more soon.

    3. HMM*

      It’s not one or the other, why not keep your office job, then volunteer elsewhere in your free time? The nice thing about vet offices and the like is that they typically have weekend hours.

      I went through the same thing you did when I was about 22-23. Went from a string of office jobs, then seriously considered extra schooling to become a nurse. But before investing the money and risk, I volunteered as a nurse’s aide in a hospital for 6 months, where I realized I enjoyed some parts of the job, but that other crucial parts of the job were not at all to my liking, so I didn’t ultimately pursue it. And I’m really happy about that decision!

      I was really fond of all or nothing thinking when I was younger, but it almost never has to be like that. There’s almost always a way to ease yourself into a decision. Good luck!

      1. memyselfandi*

        I agree with this suggestion. don’t worry about the fact that you are looking around and questioning your choices. I would be more concerned if you weren’t!

      2. Office Wonderings*

        Volunteering is definitely something I would do before taking a big leap. The trouble is just fitting it into my busy work schedule, which of course is one thing that leads to the thought of ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have to do Real Job and just did Volunteer Job full-time’. But yes, there are definitely volunteering opportunities at the places where I might be interested in career changing to that I would look into first. Thank you for the suggestion!

        1. Cercis*

          It was a problem I had. People would tell me “work to make money and then pursue your passion in your free time.” Except there was never any free time. With the commute and lunch break (couldn’t be changed) work took up 12.5 hours of my day – and that doesn’t include the time getting ready for work. Then I had kids and a husband. Weekends came around and I was just too exhausted to do much. Plus work was so toxic that I ended up depressed and had even less energy. I was lucky to get in one volunteer activity every few months and even then I sometimes had to cancel it for kid activities.

          1. Overeducated*

            Yeah. I feel the same way. My free time is basically 9:30-10:30 pm, which is not conducive to doing anything that takes energy and focus. I would rather not write off 40 hours a week!

      3. Moi*

        Check out the book “Designing Your Life.” It was helpful to me and I think it would be perfect for you! You do not need to do a 180-degree turn to get to a happy and fulfilled place. Start with a 15-degree turn and see how you feel . :-)

    4. Anonymous Poster*

      Plenty of people don’t find a ton of life fulfillment in their jobs. That’s okay!

      Sometimes I don’t either. I have other things that I find more interesting or fulfilling. I love history so I read a lot, I like piano and practice and volunteer with that, and volunteer with a local charity at least once a month.

      I also pursued an advanced degree to help me find a career more fulfilling. That might be another option – research something you’d like to do that is more engaging, and look at what it would take to get there.

    5. Manders*

      For what it’s worth, I’m 6 years out of college and feeling the same way. For me, the fantasies are about being in places with sunlight and plants, even though I have such a black thumb I’d kill every plant in a nursery and I know I’d be a lousy park ranger. I’ve also started daydreaming about jobs that give you passive income, like being a landlord, even though I know those involve huge legal and practical hassles.

      I don’t have any solutions, just commiseration. I think this is normal!

      1. Amber T*

        Yep, same here (5 years out for me). If you like video games at all… there’s a came called Stardew Valley where you start off as a corporate drone, clearly hating it, and you open a forgotten letter from your grandfather that magically holds the deed to a farm, so you up and quit everything to become a farmer. Now I hate the outdoors and can’t grow anything to save my life, but man did that game make me have fantasies about starting a farm. I even went as far as to look up farmland prices in random locations (apparently I can get a ton of acres in the middle of no where for the same price I paid for my too small condo). Obviously things in a video game are so much easier than in real life (I highly doubt anyone is willing to pay $50 for a single tomato), but still… the thought is nice.

        1. Office Wonderings*

          There’s a computer game that came out in the last year or two called Firewatch. It’s set during the 70s and is about a man who takes a summer job where he’s alone in a watchpost tower in the woods, keeping an eye out for fires, while he’s free to hike, camp, explore write, read, basically chill in nature and do whatever you want (actual plot does happen in the game, you’re not just kicking around the digital woods).

          Getting into this game, I was drooling over the idea of a summer spent in nature with tons of free time to do whatever I want AND be paid for it. Why can’t that still be a job today?!

          1. Corrupted by coffee*

            I loved fire watch! I found it so relaxing to wander around without a heads up display and just do whatever. Of course, it helped that I enjoyed the story. I found Kona had a similar tone somehow. After a few intense puzzlers, I’m looking for another game like this.

        2. Gingerblue*

          I adore Stardew Valley. If only my life had a soundtrack that cute, tiny adorable sheep, and a cave to hunt treasure in!

          Oh man, now I need to go play.

    6. Countess Chocula*

      What about an office-type job in a restaurant or retail setting? Before you cringe, hear me out. I worked for many years in various retail management jobs, eventually bookkeeping, then HR. I liked it because I still had professional duties, pay, and title–but sometimes it was all hands on deck to, say, unload a truck or help the sales team.

      Today I oversee a large HR department in a very corporate sort of setting. To this day, I still kind of miss the occasional breaks that would come from being able to do something away from the world of spreadsheets and PowerPoint for a moment. (Also, it was a good reminder of how hard those physical jobs were for the employees who did them all the time.)

      1. Adaline B.*

        Also Manufacturing! I’m in IT at a plant and not only is it never boring, I get to wear jeans all the time because I never know when I’ll have to be out in the plant. :)

      2. Beth Anne*

        I am actually a bookkeeper for a local restaurant. I didn’t think I’d like it but 2 years later I’m still here and LOVE IT. The pay is probably lower than elsewhere but it’s def. more interesting than a corporate job.

    7. Apollo Warbucks*

      I met a guy in Croatia who was an accountant in Australia and only left the country once before to go to New Zealand. He has spent the last three years tour guiding around Europe and has been to all but two countries in Europe, it’s tough work but he loves the life style and its been such a good experience for him.

      I’d say take a chance on something different if you get the opportunity to

    8. anna green*

      Go for it. If you are still young and are itching for a change, try something different. Be smart about it, do your research, etc. It may be that you just don’t want to do what you are doing and its not the office thats the problem. Or it could be that its just your specific office and not office work in general. Or it could be that you are built to do something that is not office related, but you’ll never know unless you try, and the longer you wait the harder it’ll be. Spend some time thinking about what you actually want to do, and dont just jump at the first thing you see. The other comment about volunteering first is a good idea. But really, your whole life is a long time to be bored.

    9. Amadeo*

      I switched tracks around 25, I started out as a CVT working in vet clinics but be aware that those kinds of jobs are extremely physical and sometimes very demanding emotionally too. I ended my last job in a vet clinic because I had an aggravated sacroiliac join issue and couldn’t lift much for a while. Boss didn’t like it, but had the sense to wait until it wasn’t much of an issue to ‘mutually part ways’. I went into graphic design and got a bachelors in that and have slowly transitioned to web over the past 8 or 9 years.

      You could see if a local clinic will allow shadowing (you can go in and see what it’s really like). You’d never lack for variety in a vet clinic, no doubt about that, but there are many more tearful goodbyes or exhausting, never-ending illnesses than there are the extreme joys of rubbing puppies awake during a c-section.

      1. Office Wonderings*

        Yeah, the emotional up’s and down’s is a big question mark for me wanting to do veterinary work, which is why I was looking at the pet resorts which seem surprisingly lucrative for the salaries that are posted. I’d definitely look into shadowing at the very least before I make a career jump.

    10. CheeryO*

      There’s a third option, which is office jobs with a major “field” component. I’m in the environmental industry on the regulatory side, and I can pretty much set my own schedule and be out in the field traveling to different project sites and facilities as often as I want. Just knowing that I’m not chained to my desk really helps make the office days bearable, even if I only end up going out a few times in a month. I still have days where I fantasize about becoming a park ranger or something, but it’s a pretty good gig.

      1. Office Wonderings*

        I did apply to several office jobs with outdoor components (including a large hiking organization, a local nature reserve/research center, environmental non-profit, etc) but didn’t luck out getting further with those jobs. I even wondered if it was because I didn’t have anything outdoors/environmental on my resume aside from volunteer gigs. I haven’t given up on something along these lines, I’m just finding them hard to come by and impossible to get into at the moment.

        1. CheeryO*

          Yeah, it’s not the easiest field to break into. Having volunteer experience is great, though! Definitely keep looking if it’s something you’re interested in.

          1. Clever Name*

            I’m in this industry too, but I have a science degree (and a master’s, as do most of my coworkers), so it’s not exactly simple to switch from say, HR, to this field. I’m not saying that this isn’t an option, but I am saying this option would require the op go to school.

      2. CheeryO*

        I guess I should clarify that I do the actual work outdoors, too – I’m not just traveling for meetings.

    11. hbc*

      Can you look for an office job at a teeny company that does…physical things? My manufacturing company isn’t even that small anymore (~45 people) but every single office person gets roped into physical things on occasion, and there are many more opportunities if you actually want to chip in. The smaller the company, the more it’s a feature that, say, you want to get trained on the forklift and fill in when the single warehouse person is out.

      But I would also say that an office manager of a vet clinic is still an office job, and will not look like a major deviation on a resume.

    12. Snark*

      Y’know, I’ve worked various “hands on” jobs like the ones you’ve mentioned – delivery driver, weed and pest control, dog walker/sitter, onsite tech support. And if you think they’re engaging, or wouldn’t bore you out of your mind, or that they provide equivalent pay, benefits, and growth potential as an office job….you’re probably a bored employee fantasizing about the grass being greener elsewhere. Because I found all of those jobs exhausting and boring, the benefits were poor to nonexistent, and they were professional dead ends with minimal growth potential past $22k.

      We all get a little bored, particularly right after college when you realize that there’s no next achievement to unlock. Find some engaging, hands-on hobbies that push different sensory, kinesthetic, and creative buttons than your office work does; mine is cooking, with the bonus that I get to do it every night. But don’t sabotage your own career.

      1. Moi*

        +1. The grass is soooo much greener elsewhere. If you’re not miserable in your job, it’s probably actually a pretty good job! ;-)

        I do think you should experiment while you are young. As soon as you have a family, your priorities will change, and a consistent, decent-paying office job will be very valuable. I’d rather be bored than over-stressed at my job any day, now that I have kids, but when I was in my 20s I would have felt differently and wanted more action and adventure.

        A side gig – be in a hobby, volunteering, or plans to start your own business – can fulfill the needs that your job isn’t fulfilling for you.

      2. Panda Bandit*

        Yep, these are the kinds of jobs where you can be run off your feet and absolutely bored at the same time.

    13. EnviroEducator*

      How old are you, and are you interested in working with national parks, or outdoor recreation in some capacity? If you’re in your early twenties still, check out AmeriCorps programs and the Student Conservation Association!

      1. The OG Anonsie*

        I would be somewhat wary of that. I did one of the environmental AmeriCorps programs and a number of other volunteers got hurt (because, you know, manual labor in parks) and were on the hook for the costs. As volunteers they weren’t eligible for worker’s comp, there’s no paid time away obviously and you have to work a certain number of hours to get your full stipend, and the health care plan provided was very flimsy. The stipend is low enough that everyone I worked with was on food stamps, so an unexpected medical bill is a big deal.

        I don’t know if they’ve changed it at all since I was there, I do know the program in general has been updated. But I would be careful about getting into it without having a big safety net.

        1. AC Alum*

          It varies by program; each state can have a couple different agencies administering slightly different programs. In my state, some AmeriCorps receive the small stipend ($1200/month) regardless of hours worked (with the expectation that they are working full time, it ends up being LESS than the federal minimum wage hourly). Some other programs are paid the state’s hourly minimum wage, which is around $10/hr. It’s worth looking into, just make sure you know the details of the specific program/position that you are applying for. You can end up doing some pretty cool stuff in the environmental positions that aren’t trail crews. Many positions also offer a $5800 education award after you serve 10.5 months, that can be applied to loans or any future education. I still need to use my award for something….

    14. Overeducated*

      Oh my goodness I am RIGHT THERE WITH YOU. I am having so much trouble figuring out what to do with my life because I am in my first full time office job and I really don’t want to sit in a sad cubicle doing paperwork for the next 40 years…but all the jobs I know of with more activity and variety either don’t pay enough, aren’t year round with benefits (outdoor ones in my field), or require insane hours and/or self employment (consulting) that are not compatible with little kids in day care. The two I know of with the right balance of professional level stability and activity away from a desk are really hard to get, geographically dispersed, and not necessarily compatible with dual career families (professor or curator). I have no idea what the answer is, honestly.

      1. Overeducated*

        PS for anyone who might take umbrage at the phrase “sad cubicle”…mine really is. No natural light gets to me.

    15. Horse Lover*

      I’ve been out of college 8 years and it’s still like this. But I’d go with the volunteering or hobby suggestions above. I know the reason why I didn’t go after some of my “dream” jobs was because like Snark said, the pay wouldn’t be enough to live off of, let alone pay student loans, there really was no ‘career’ potential, and only terrible to non existent benefits.

      I think we all start feeling this way trapped in our cubicle farms all day. That’s why my ultimate goal once I pay off the loans is to work part time in a “real job” and in a “dream job” the other part of the time. Seems like the best of both worlds to me. At least that’s what I’m holding onto right now anyway.

      1. Office Wonderings*

        I think I would be very happy to do part-time in a ‘real job’ and part-time in a ‘dream job’ but making two different part-time schedules work seemed impossible for everyone that I know who tried it. And two part-time gigs still leave you without benefits of PTO, insurance, etc. I haven’t taken it completely off the table but splitting between two part-time jobs seems daunting.

        1. Horse Lover*

          Oh, with the benefits, etc it all depends on the company. My company now provides benefits and PTO as long as you work a certain # of hours. I believe it is 30. You just don’t get as many PTO days as someone who works full time.

          My dream plan right now is that I would be turning a hobby into a job that would be me working for me and I would schedule it around the part time real job. But life never adheres to plans :)

        2. Windchime*

          I have a family member who works full-time at an animal shelter in a large city. She gets a very nice salary (around 70k) with benefits and works four ten-hour days a week plus overtime if she wants it. She used to drive around in a truck taking calls, but she found that she is actually happier working in the shelter. She gets to care for all kinds of animals every day (dogs and cats, but also reptiles, birds, rats and guinea pigs). Yes, there are sad times but it’s mostly really rewarding to care for homeless animals and match them up with their new families.

        3. Manuel*

          I volunteer at my local shelter. There are so many things shelters need and there is usually something for everyone! Personally, I help clean, socialize the animals, check donation boxes, wash/dry laundry, wash/dry dishes, run errands, transport animals to vet appointments, fundraisers and special events, and occasionally even help out in their spay/neuter/vaccination clinic. I have been volunteering there for years and it is still thrilling to add an animal’s name to the adopted board.

      2. Manders*

        This is also my long-term plan once I’m in a better place financially. I do have a hobby I’d like to turn into a job one day, but I’m trying to be realistic about keeping a second source of income around; usually people who’ve made it in my dream field don’t start making much money at it until they hit their 40s or 50s.

    16. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Oh, man, this feels familiar. When I was early in my career I felt much the same way… I remember resenting my parents for not providing me with opportunities to consider careers like carpentry. (I come from a classic middle-class story — both of my parents grew up poor and were the only members of their family to go to college or pursue white-collar work. Their expectations for my sister and I were clear — college, then stable, professional work.)

      I took rather… extreme action. I left my first-job-out-of-grad-school after four years, and spent a year living as a resident student at a Quaker retreat center (and cooking in the kitchen to partially pay my way; I covered the rest of my expenses through a scholarship, some savings, a couple thousand dollars of inheritance from a great aunt, and credit card debt). I hoped that I would leave the year with a clear, and new, sense of vocation. I did not, but nearly everything else about my life changed — including how I relate to my work, and that made all the difference.

      In the end, after I left, I needed a job and I was obviously most hireable in the field that I had education and experience. So I continue to work in (roughly) the same field.

      But, you know? Paths are long and winding. I’ve gotten clear about the story arc of my career, and I know what the threads are that draw together the work that I do best. It’s clear to me, and when I’m on the lookout for new opportunities it’s my job to make those threads clear to the people I want to hire me.

      I don’t have advice! Just commiseration and experience.

      1. Office Wonderings*

        I feel this so much! I too have had the same thoughts of ‘Why didn’t my family let me take some engineering/carpentry/hardware/etc classes’! I think it’s really impressive to have gone to a Quaker retreat, that sounds so fascinating (I did some overseas volunteering for a few months; that’s the furthest I’ve gone from my office jobs post-college). Thank you so much for sharing your story, I really appreciate hearing the experiences of others who have gone through similar things.

    17. TGIF*

      I have one friend who has forsaken all office work for a very obscure creative freelance job. She’s basically her own boss but she also has to be her own sales person too because she doesn’t get jobs, and therefore money, without marketing like crazy. She’s happy with her work but stresses on a constant basis about finances and where her next paycheck will come from. She’s keeping her head above water but she’s also getting paid very little for the work she does.

      My dream job would be a fiction writer but seeing her struggling with her freelance career, it’s not something I’m going to quit my day job to do. But I have been looking into technical writing and copy-editing as jobs. They’re still office work but it’s more in line than with my writing dreams than what I’m doing right now. And maybe it would allow me to transition to something else one day.

      I think feel like jobs are a venn diagram with sections for ‘what I enjoy doing’, ‘what I need to for a paycheck’, and ‘what I’m qualified to do’. Where all three sections meet is a very small section but it is out there.

    18. zora*

      Y’know, there are specific programs out there for young women who want to get into the trades. Do you like doing physical things? I have thought about it many times, but I have medical issues that I’m worried would make that difficult for me, so I haven’t gone through with it.

      But trades that are unionized are very sustainable, stable and well-paying! Plumbing, electrical, welding, solar power, all the green industries, etc there are tons of them! Look around your area for a ‘Women in the Trades’ program, most of them have some kind of initial orientation or open house where you can learn more about what the different options are before you have to commit to anything.

      I think you should really explore your options now, while you are young, to see if there is an option you might like better. As someone who feels stuck now that I am almost 40, I wish I’d been more proactive about looking around instead of just taking the jobs that fell in my lap.

      1. Office Wonderings*

        I actually did not know ‘Women in Trade’ programs were a thing. I’ll definitely look into that, thank you!

      2. Lissa*

        Yeah, I think it would be sad if you decided you couldn’t be a truck driver or similar just because you’re a young woman! (if you decide that’s not really for you for other reasons that makes sense but if you think you’d really like it I think you should look into it!)

    19. DevAssist*

      Even though I still have quite a bit of student loan debt, I’ve considered taking out another student loan so I can go through an esthetics program because becoming an esthetician has been really appealing to me for the past year and a half. I have a family member who works as one, and though it has been hard work to build a clientele, she now has envy-worthy flexibility in her schedule and she makes decent money!

    20. Meg*

      Can’t speak to the jumping back part, but my father was an office worker for 25 years before he was laid off. He went to being a long-distance trucker and he said he wishes he’d done it years ago. He was bored to death by the office life and loved never having to go to another meeting again.

      If you think that working in an office isn’t for you, explore what will make you more satisfied! I would hope you can always spin your experience for the positive should you wish to go back.

      1. zora*

        Oh, or most transit systems are unionized so being a transit bus driver or subway driver can be a really stable path with good pay and benefits, too! There’s a period of flexibility as you are training and kind of filling in when you are new, but drivers stick around for their entire careers because of the stability and great compensation.

    21. Bea W*

      Assume you’ll have to work at least until 65-70 years old. Plan accordingly. Can you do something you’re unhappy with that long, a minimum of 40 hours a week (plus commuting and generally arranging your life around it)? Some people can manage that, being content to see a job as a paycheck and a means to and end. Others (like me) need something more than just a paycheck.

      I do think it’s easier to switch gears when you are younger, and 5 years into a career seems like a drop in the bucket to me now that I’m nearly 20 years into mine, and at least another 20 to go.

      1. Office Wonderings*

        When you put it in terms of decades, it makes me want to jump up from my desk and run screaming down the hall and out the front door.

        This is actually a conversation I’ve had with my family and friends many times. There are many of my friends who are in jobs just to get a paycheck and then there are others who are doing things they truly enjoy. I thought I could be diligent in a job just for a paycheck but with each passing year, I feel that less and less.

        I do wonder if I’d be happier in a better setting; right now, I’m working for a company that is very much focused on profit and nothing else. Could I do office work better if I was working for a non-profit, or a university, or a library, or an organization focused less on money and more on quality or the like. It’s why I’m wondering how I’d do at that office manager job at a pet resort because there’s definitely sitting at a desk and computer stuff to do but I’d also have to help out with various things directly related to the animals and their owners.

        And it’s why I’m thinking of this now, with my 30’s still three years off, because I feel like I can still try different things (not that you can’t change tracks when you’re older, like my aunt did in my original post, but you definitely have more leeway when you’re younger).

        Thank you for your thoughts!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          You will be okay, don’t run screaming.

          I did a lot of physical jobs when I was younger. I got into my 40s and my finances tanked because of medical bills. I realized I will be working for the rest of my life. So realizing that I could not keep working like I was, I started looking for more sitting jobs. It’s okay to mix things up a bit. You might even find something that you could trade to office work later on if you need to.

          My best tidbit is to listen closely to the suggestions of people you know and respect. People who I have done volunteer work with and people who I have met through shared interests are the people who have helped the most in changing direction. Be sure to let those around you who you think highly of what you would like to do. Their inputs can be priceless.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          Setting can make a huge difference – all office jobs are not the same. You might be happier in a job where you’re working for a cause you believe in, or you have more variety in your duties, or a place that’s got a better work life balance, where you can leave at 5 and have a life outside of work.

          One other thing to consider – if you’ve been working in the same job for five years, this could easily be the longest stretch of doing the same thing in the same place you’ve ever had in your life. So part of it might be just being ready for something new. That something new could be a job – five years is a good length at an entry level office job – or it could be a new hobby, or saving and planning for some travel, or volunteering.

    22. Mo*

      No advice, but lots of commiseration! I posted a similar comment a couple months ago, and someone reminded me of this post: (if you’re looking for more job ideas). It’s interesting that there are quite a few of us in our mid-late twenties already tired of working an office job. Or maybe it is a quarter-life crisis and happens to twenty-somethings of every generation.

      I, myself, just got a new job, and there are a few meetings a week and an event once a month, so hopefully that will keep me from getting bored in the office. Like you, I’m hoping to volunteer more, now that I have a steady job, and figure out what will work best for me. Good luck!

    23. Em*

      It’s worth exploring what success would look like for you here! Do you want more variety in your day to day? Do you want more time literally outdoors? Do you want an office job with more field time?

      Variety in the day to day is the only thing I can speak to. You could consider volunteering, or you could consider working at startups where you can potentially wear many hats. Retail, restaurants, etc. are also good industries for this. Have you checked your company’s remoting policy, too? Working from home a few days a week might give you a change of surroundings more often.

    24. Dorothy Lawyer*

      My boyfriend drives a truck for a large, nationally-known company, works 9-6, drives just around the city. He has a college degree but doesn’t use it. He loves it, it pays well (as good or better than most paralegals), good benefits and generous overtime pay. And he’s home every night. Office jobs are overrated.

    25. Poppy Bossyboots*

      Go for the career change! It seems like hardly anyone pursues a straight career path anymore anyway. A few years of working other jobs shouldn’t ruin your chances of office work for life.

      For example, I have several friends who left reasonably secure but unfulfilling jobs to come teach in Asia, and they’re quite happy about it. One of them is now a professor at a Korean university (as am I) and the other teaches for a good private school and loves working with kids. The adjustment isn’t always easy, but teaching in general has the benefit of being a lot more engaging and varied than standard office work. Plus, you get to travel.

      And I don’t know about office jobs being more sustainable in the long run–I feel MUCH more secure as a freelancer. My whole paycheck isn’t based on how much one boss likes me, or how successful one company is. I have 5-8 different clients at any one time. If one of them goes out of business or decides to hire someone else, so what? I can always find another. But then again, I love the business and negotiations side of freelancing; it’s not for everyone. It certainly is “hands-on” though, in its own way!

    26. Linden*

      Go for it! The office experience can help you later if you turn whatever you decide to do into your own business someday, or even just in terms of being professional and helpful to the business you join. Lots of non-office jobs with relatively low education requirements pay great, especially if you stick with them and get those years of experience! I know someone who makes $300k/year as a trucker. You might want to try something in your spare time to start off (maybe take the odd jobs or vocational classes on your nights and/or weekends) to get a feel for what you want before you quit your day job.

      On the other hand, you may be able to find something more adventurous within your current field. I was lucky enough to land an office job after college that, after the first year or so, began to involve significant international travel, with site visits to lots of different types of locations- from landfills to beaches to schools. Later, in the summer between the first and second years of my masters degree, I did an internship at a 9-to-5 government office job. The last few weeks of the internship I teleworked and that was great- but during the part in which I was at the office in person, I felt like I was just waiting for the clock to run out, and I realized sitting in an office all day just wasn’t for me. I was way more productive when I could get a change of scenery. I now just finished interviewing for a position in a rugged, remote area that would involve significant travel that I think would be a better fit for me. So maybe you can seek out jobs within your field that are just a little more adventurous than the office work you’re doing now; particularly jobs in more remote/rural areas (if you have that flexibility), or involve field work or travel. Anything to get you out of the office.

      One last thing: there are some aptitude tests that supposedly measure certain “innate” abilities and if you don’t make regular use of those you’re really good at, you’ll feel frustrated. You may want to try one of these out before you decide on your career change, because there may be a specific aptitude that is not being utilized in your office work that would be important to use in your next job. (The Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation has the “original” test; from what I can tell, the Highlands Ability Battery is very similar, but all online. I also have come across online what looks like a much more affordable option from YouScience. Not sure how the quality compares; I’ve only taken the Highlands Ability Battery.)

    27. We have cookies*

      Is it the officce work, or is it the physical exhaustion? My secnd job looked like a jump up on paper – until I sat down, about six months into it, and added up all the costs properly. Once I looked at it, I realised it was in a ‘glamorous big city’ – but it was in an ugly urban desert area that had nothing to do within walking distance at lunch or in the evenings. It took me two hours each way, so four hours a day commuting, and cost me a lot each week in fares. Once I deducted fares and added in that commuting time to my actual working hours, I was at a lower pay rate than shop staff at my local corner shop (which I could walk to in two minutes). And I realised I didn’t like anything at the job enough to stay there at that point.

      I didn’t go into shopwork – but I did make a firm choice that I was going to prioritise a proper work-life balance with plenty of free time for me, my family and friends, even if it meant quitting and taking a pay cut at the next job.

  2. ZSD*

    October is domestic violence awareness month. AAM has had some great posts here in the past about how workplaces can be supportive of employees who are DV survivors, but I wanted to add one thing to the conversation.
    There are 22 jurisdictions (at least) with statutes ensuring that employees can use their paid sick time as “safe time” to seek legal help, social services, medical care, etc., related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. In some jurisdictions, safe time only works when the employee her/himself is the target, while others also allow it when employees’ loved ones are targeted.
    Safe time means that you can, for example, go to the courthouse to file a restraining order on your abuser without losing pay or getting fired – you can use your job-protected paid sick time.
    These laws (all of them, I believe) also have provisions preventing employers from asking for documentation/certification of the need for paid sick time when the employee is absent for less than three consecutive days. For normal sick time, that means that if you’re home sick for one day with a bad cold, your employer can’t make you get a doctor’s note to prove that you needed the time. In the restraining order example above, it means that if you don’t want to disclose your situation to your employer, you can just say, “I need to use my sick time tomorrow afternoon,” and they can’t ask you for certification.
    (I posted this last October, but some new jurisdictions have passed safe time laws, so I thought I’d post it again.)
    Jurisdictions with safe time provisions:

    Connecticut (subset of employees)
    Rhode Island (effective 2018?)
    Washington (state)

    Washington, DC
    Cook County, IL
    Montgomery County, MD

    San Francisco, CA
    San Diego, CA
    Santa Monica, CA
    Los Angeles, CA
    Chicago, IL
    Minneapolis, MN
    St. Paul, MN
    Philadelphia, PA
    Seattle, WA
    Tacoma, WA
    Spokane, WA

    Note that there may be others! These are just the ones I know about.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      My employer has a similar policy, and a really strong in-house DV policy, both for victims to seek help and for concerned colleagues to request outreach to someone they believe may be suffering DV. I don’t have any experience with how it works in practice, but just knowing that this has been thought of and a plan put in place makes me very happy.

    2. Specialk9*

      My company doesn’t advertise it, but they provide DV support by giving people a close parking spot and walk to the car at night, and posting a photo (out of sight) at the front desk of someone of concern who shouldn’t be allowed on site, and have panic buttons available. Nobody knows, not their managers or anyone. You wouldn’t know except by asking, so ask.

      1. Naptime Enthusiast*

        I’m interested to know why they do not advertise this, I think it’s a great policy.

        1. KellyK*

          Maybe it’s a privacy concern? If everybody knows that the super close parking spot and the escort out the door is DV support, then the rumor mill can start churning when Susie’s car is always in that spot, or Fred has someone walking him to his car.

          I do think it would be helpful to at least advertise that they support employees who are affected by DV or may be in the future, and here’s who to talk to.

          1. Naptime Enthusiast*

            Makes sense – I meant why they don’t advertise DV support at all. I read “nobody knows” as “nobody knows we do this”

    3. D.W.*

      Thank you for posting this. I don’t know if my employer has a policy on domestic violence protection, but I will sure ask HR now!

  3. Generic Administrator*

    I posted a few weeks ago about how I wanted to tell my boss how much I hate my job. You’ll be pleased to know that I took your advice and kept my mouth shut. I was in a pretty bad place that week due to their behaviour, but have had a good fortnight since then (although today almost pushed me over the edge when they almost killed me over the most trival thing, despite two apologies and offering to rectify it).

    Also- I have an interview next week! It is a bit of a stretch job but in the telephone interview they said the roles changed to be more admin-ey- so I feel like I have an even better chance. I know I shouldn’t count my blessings yet, but I’ve already drafted my glassdoor review…

    1. Fabulous*

      I had a job like this once! What I ended up doing on my “breaking point” day, after my boss said something that finally pushed me over the edge, I excused myself for a break and went down to my car and just screamed for about 5 minutes. Was tempted to just drive home, but I stayed and the rest of the day was actually a lot more bearable. Hopefully you can find something that works for you on those rough days! Good luck on your interview!!

    2. Argh!*

      Fantasizing what to say on has gotten me through many rough days! Hang in there!

  4. Maggie*

    First week at new job, I turn up wearing the same top as my manager.

    (We’re about the same age and it’s a fairly popular brand/style, but still…)

    At least I know I gauged the dress code right.

    1. NW Mossy*

      My boss and I own a couple of the same dresses, and joke that one day we’re going to have to do a “Who Wore It Better?” when we end up wearing them on the same day.

    2. Chaordic One*

      Halloween is coming up. Have you considered wearing a costume dressed as your boss? (Witch costumes don’t count.)

      1. Ian Mac Eochagáin*

        It’s like the time I came back from my summer hols to find that my boss and I now had exactly the same glasses.

      2. JustaTech*

        Once my whole group dressed up as former members of our group (who had left for bigger and better things). We even got their old badge photos from the security guy and made giant (81/2 x 11) badges to wear. Collectively we were “Ghosts of [group] Past”.

        It was a dark time.

      3. Aardvark*

        Several years ago, my team worked in an area with a bright and distinctive wall color. One day we all coincidentally wore shirts that were the same color as the wall. It was a great day.

    3. Hermione*

      My coworker and I used to plan a few annual events each year, and in our third year doing so, we came dressed nearly identically (down to the accessories) to three different events falling within a 1 month period. Same (unique-ish, not black or navy) colors, same silhouettes, same footwear – it looked like we picked a different uniform for each event. Our boss teased us endlessly about missing the memo.

      For the fourth event that year, I brought it up the day before and again we were both planning nearly the same thing, and both resolved to wear something else. The group-think was spooky.

    4. LKW*

      On a particularly intense and time consuming project the entire team came in wearing almost identical outfits. We had 7 people, four men and three women in black pants and either a red top or that chambray blue oxford color top. The eighth team member was in a red skirt (same shade red) with a black top. She was always a little fancy.

      We looked like a Gap ad.

      1. Kris*

        I’m a female attorney. Years ago I was involved in a jury trial that lasted several weeks. There were multiple parties and between all of these parties several lawyers were involved, including two other women. At the end of every court day we would discuss what colors we were wearing the next day so that we could make sure we didn’t inadvertently match!

        1. Woman of a Certain Age*

          Years ago I read that book, “Dress for Success,” like back in the 1970s. The author told about, among other things, being a consultant for people involved in court cases at the behest of their lawyers. He told of a case involving corporate malfeasance where several employees (apparently all men) were accused of embezzling and he was certain that one of the men was innocent, but they were all found guilty. He thinks it was because the innocent man was dressed just like the guilty ones and the jury just lumped them all together and in a case like that he would have advised the innocent man to dress more distinctively.

      2. Alice*

        On the day we were doing lay-offs/RIFS, the entire HR Team wore black (not on purpose). It was pretty ominus looking. I guess we were all “feeling” the same gloom.

    5. special snowflake*

      My old office was split on two floors – and everyone on my floor shopped at the same 5 places.
      We had multiple items that at least two people had, sometimes the same color, sometimes not. Coupled with the fact that we all wore pretty much the same color palate it was pretty funny.
      We had to coordinate outfit choices on staff photo days… and often threatened to come to board meetings in matching outfits
      It can be a lot of fun once you’re used to it – but it’s really jarring the first time it happens!

    6. MidwestRoads*

      I cringe a little when my boss wears his blue shirt/pinstripe pants and I wear my blue shirt/pinstripe skirt on the same day. I don’t think he notices that we “match” but I SURE DO.

      It could be that I’m hyper-attuned to similar outfits because on my former team at my former company, “Matching Moments” was a thing — and a dearly beloved thing at that!

    7. knitting fiend*

      There’s a shoe store around the corner from the library {a.k.a. easily visited at lunch}.
      Two of the library assistants and I have all bought the same {non-maintstream but very appropriate for our works} style of shoes in the same colors. It’s not at all unusual for all of us to be weearing them the same day…..

  5. Coffee Beans*

    Hi! I’d like to share something that happened to me recently and would appreciate people’s thoughts on it. After handing my three weeks’ notice to my boss, her boss asked me to come to his office. The conversation started off fine. He said he understood my desire to take on new opportunities and wished me well. Then he asked me, “Did anyone in the team know you were planning to leave?” I replied honestly and said, “No one but my references.” (I had asked two of my indirect managers.) He became visibly put off by this and said, “Oh? People gave you reference?” Because I was clueless and all, I asked whether that was an issue, and he basically said that employees shouldn’t help their fellow colleagues leave the company. He then told my boss about it, who got upset, stormed into one of the managers’ office (where a group of managers were chatting) and demanded to know “which one of you did it?!?!”

    In the end she cooled off, and no one got in trouble. My question is whether there was something I should have done differently? I’m just starting out in my career and these two indirect managers were honestly the only reasonable choices I had. They were both happy to be a reference for me, before and after the incident. However, should I have not asked them in the first place? Should I have lied and said no one knew?

    1. fposte*

      Asking them for references was fine; I’d not have directly answered his question. “I kept my plans pretty quiet, because you never know how things will turn out.” That’s your story and you’re sticking to it.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Yeah, I don’t think it was the greatest move to ‘out’ your references at your current job.

      2. Naptime Enthusiast*

        Agreed, I would not have mentioned that anyone at the company gave you a reference. But your boss’ reaction was out of line and paranoid regardless of what you said and probably would have come out in some way anyway.

      3. lulu*

        Exactly. Getting references from inside the company is like an open secret, everybody knows it’s happening, but you don’t discuss it out loud.

      4. Camellia*

        This is the best reply; love this script!

        Most companies for which I have worked forbid the giving of references, saying, at most, to verify dates of employment. But as lulu said below, if it is done you don’t talk about it.

    2. SometimesALurker*

      Your bosses crossed a line getting angry about this. And it’s not true that employees shouldn’t help colleagues leave the company — giving references is a normal thing to do under most circumstances! Maybe someone else has insight into a situation where that’s not true; perhaps it’s okay to have a rule against giving references, and that’s the case here? I don’t know whether lying would have helped you here, because it would be a fairly easy lie to get caught in. Maybe skirting the question by saying something like, “I kept my job search reasonably private” would have worked, but I don’t think that you should have known that the honest answer would cause such a problem.

    3. HR Recruiter*

      Perhaps your company has a policy that managers are not allowed to give references? Either way nothing wrong on your end. And storming in demanding information is a bit crazy.

    4. Infinity Anon*

      Your boss thinks you should be trapped at your current job forever? I can see why you would want to get out.

    5. WAnon*

      A lot of times, the employee contract will specify that you can’t inveigle existing employees away from your company – but that tends to be more if someone moves to another company and then lures you away from your current company. Acting as a reference certainly isn’t convincing you to leave the company. Your boss is being unreasonable but it is also not an uncommon viewpoint. I’d say just not mention it in the future, especially if you get the sense that your boss may not take it well.

    6. LKW*

      Everything you did is perfectly normal and reasonable. Your supervisor and boss are being ridiculous and it will make others significantly more likely to lie to them in the future. Congrats on your new job!

    7. Princess Carolyn*

      Well, I would have lied and said nobody knew, but that comes with risks of its own. Also, it’s 100% normal to ask current co-workers to be references. It would be pretty crappy for someone to refuse to be a reference just because they want you to stay at their company. You did nothing wrong, and neither did your indirect managers.

      Both bosses grossly mishandled this and their reactions are likely to discourage people from being forthcoming in the future. It also might make some people decide they want out of this company ASAP.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      While I do agree that your boss was totally inappropriate, I have seen this happen enough that I tend to keep references confidential. Some people cannot handle that information in an adult manner. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell until we are in the moment.
      Your boss did back down, so hopefully this will not be a problem for her in the future.

    9. ha2*

      You were fine asking them. In the employment world nowadays, everyone knows that people move on, it’s a bit awkward but not a red flag at all. Clearly you judged potential references well since they were fine with it.

      The boss was acting a bit inappropriate to ask. What business purpose does it serve to know if anyone knew? To judge loyalty?

      That said, given the inappropriate question, it would have been wise to avoid answering it, if you could. I love the “I kept it pretty quiet” answer. But at the end of the day, if your boss kept pressing, you can’t be expected to lie. If your boss is controlling and would retaliate, that’s on her, not you.

  6. Wakeen's Duck Club*

    An organization I support is hiring for a position that’s “right up my alley.” I think that this position could help with expanding the organization’s donor base, although that’s not mentioned in the job description.

    I recently gave a few dollars as part of their recent fundraising campaign about a month ago (before the job was posted). In my cover letter, do you think I should mention my recent donation in the context of expanding the organization’s donor base?

      1. fish feud*

        Agree, don’t do it. It also doesn’t speak at all to what you would bring to the job. Anyone with a few dollars to spare could have similarly donated to the campaign.

      1. Artemesia*

        And if you gave mega bucks, it looks like buying the job, and if you gave a modest contribution you look totally out of touch mentioning it.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Nope nope nope. But do talk about the motivation you had to support them, which is presumably also part of why you want to work there.

    2. Michael Rowe the Boat Ashore*

      The problem is that you don’t want to look like you’re buying the job, as a manner of speaking. That’s why I’d be reluctant to even *apply* to the job if it’s a small organization where they know their donors. In a larger organization with multiple departments? Sure, apply (if it’s not in the development/fundraising department), but don’t mention the donation.

    3. Susan K*

      No, don’t bring that up. It would be in poor taste, almost as if you were considering the donation to be a bribe to get a job or something. It would be especially odd if the donation was very small, like you think a $10 donation is going to get you a job.

    4. Naptime Enthusiast*

      Leave your personal donation out of it and instead focus on your interest in expanding the donor base in general, as well as the responsibilities actually in the job description.

    5. paul*

      Nope, all the nope, hell nope. I’ve heard our managers mention that in a bad way when applicants have done it.

    6. KellyK*

      I think a few dollars is pretty minor and you risk looking like you think you’re a big-shot important donor when you’re not.

      I have applied for volunteer positions where they wanted to know if you were a donor to the organization, so it might be something they consider a positive, but if they want to know specifically, they’ll ask.

    7. zora*

      I wouldn’t mention a specific donation, but as someone who has worked in nonprofits, in your cover letter you should definitely say you are a supporter of the organization in a more general way. That is normal to say in nonprofits, and it is something people look for in candidates. And you should talk about wanting to help expand the donor base, talk about how you have some ideas, or how previous experience gives you connections to X community which would be a great place to start finding donors, etc.

  7. Specialk9*

    Layoffs. Advice on living under threat of layoff, or why you chose to leave? Advice from when you were laid off, and lessons learned? Advice on how to manage anxiety specific to job insecurity?

    My company got bought out, and laid off a LOT of people but only in 1 dept. It feels like there’s an axe hanging over us. (I have a “layoff list of things to do and ask” in my wallet, thanks AAM.)

    Why stick it out? I have an amazing manager, and deeply value my independence to do my job, the work/hours flexibility, and daycare subsidy benefit. Why leave? I’m in a niche industry so job listings aren’t super common, and the anxiety about layoffs. I guess I just want to have a better idea of what to plan for, because I can make plans for specifics – but not for giant crushing cloud of anxiety.

      1. Specialk9*

        But what if I burn a bridge by applying at a place I might eventually want to work for, but not take a job now?

        Or should I job hunt and just take what I can get?

        1. K.*

          You know your industry better than I do, but I don’t think that would burn a bridge. Stuff happens, people have things come up. People turn down jobs every day.

          I said before that I didn’t see my team’s layoff coming, but if I had, I absolutely would have started searching.

        2. JulieBulie*

          In most industries, the hiring process is pretty slow, and it’s possible that by the time anyone even calls you for an interview, the layoff may already have occurred. So don’t worry about having to make that decision until and unless it actually occurs.

          For the time being, apply only to places that you’re pretty sure you’d like to work for. If you get an offer and it looks good, take it and don’t look back.

          Is the daycare subsidy benefit from the old company or the new one? If it’s from the old one, it will probably disappear next year or the year after when the new company’s benefits kick in.

          I get that you don’t want to give up a good thing if you don’t have to, but unfortunately that decision may eventually be made by your employer anyway.

    1. K.*

      I didn’t see my team’s layoff coming. If you do see yours coming, get your financial ducks in as much of a row as you can. Take stock. How much savings do you have? Where can you cut back your expenses? How much unemployment are you likely to get, and how long will it last?

    2. Meh*

      I’d start job hunting. I was in a similar situations with the “threat” of layoffs hanging over and the stress was so bad that I broke out in rashes and had trouble sleeping at night. But my boss and the flexibility were good so I wasn’t tempted to leave. But I still did some light job hunting, only applying to jobs that seemed like a good fit (since I was not quite desperate yet) and one of them came through. And after I switched jobs, I felt such relief that my skin and sleep got better within days. And my timing was good because I heard there was another string of layoffs not long after I left. The boss and the benefits at the new place are good too. So I’d say job hunt, and don’t let the current benefits stop you from getting out of there.

      1. Windchime*

        Yes, I agree. I would start looking. When my old company was bought out 18 months ago, they promised “no layoffs related to buyout for x years”. They started laying off like mad almost immediately. I left there about a year ago and there have been several more rounds since I left.

        It doesn’t hurt to look and its best to be prepared.

    3. Michael Rowe the Boat Ashore*

      If there aren’t many jobs in that field, can you look into opportunities to expand or hone your skills (like job training programs)?

      1. Specialk9*

        I can always switch to project management. I have a diverse skillset, but love/am good at/have top quals for my specific industry.

        I think I’m most worried about losing flexibility because I have chronic health issues and a toddler. My current boss doesn’t care about when I show up, or go to the doctor, or whatever – he cares about getting the job done. That’s sadly rare in bosses.

    4. Aunt Vixen*

      Start looking just in case. Having the sword hanging over your head is no fun, but it can be a little less uncomfortable if you know where the lifeboats are. And take care of yourself – it’s a genuinely stressful thing. When we had impending layoffs people were alternating between an all-in-this-together sort of fatalism and a kind of everyone-for-himself snappishness, folks were getting sick more often (I don’t mean “sick days” = interviews, I mean people’s health was really suffering), couldn’t eat, it was really awful. Self-care, man.

      Good luck.

    5. Emotionally Neutral*

      My SO regrets not doing more active job searching when he was in an organization plagued by frequent layoffs, thinking that the company would not eliminate anyone on his overworked, understaffed department. That created a scramble when the chopping block finally came for his team. Put out feelers, keep your networking profiles up-to-date, etc. so you’re not doing that in between crying spells in the hours after getting sent home with a box of your stuff.

      One kind of happy story about this approach: Another person on that team got laid off four days before he put in his notice to leave for a different company. He ended up having fun with the severance and time off between jobs.

    6. it_guy*

      I would definitely start looking for something new now. Just because you are in a niche industry a wonderful new ‘forever job’ may pop up on your radar that is even better than where you are now. Plus you will have the advantage of honing your interview skills. Pretend that they are just rehearsals for your perfect job!

      But don’t take the first offer that comes along just because you feel threatened.

    7. Ms. Meow*

      My company recently went through a merger. Right after they made the announcement, they laid off a bunch of people and did some restructuring. All of us were nervous we were going to be next, or else we had the possibility of mandatory relocation from the east coast to the midwest. A lot of good people left for other jobs. Some have had success, others not so much. After all was said and done, most of my business will retain their current positions and general work location.

      What I did was I recognized that this was an agonizing shitshow that I had no control over. I started putting my feelers out: updating my resume, scoping out job postings, and networking. My idea was that I would stay put unless I found an opportunity that was equal to or better than what I have now. If things had gone sideways, I was ready, and even though things are okay now my resume is up to date and my network connections have been refreshed.

      Keep your head up. It’s going to suck, but you’ll survive.

    8. Been_there*

      Hey, I was unfortunately part of a layoff from a company that went through a few over a few years during hardships.

      I would strongly recommend that you start saving cash and be sure you are in a good place financially so if it does come to that you are financially stable enough to find the next good opportunity, not just the next opportunity.

      Having that emergency fund could help your stress level

    9. Come On Eileen*

      One thing I did when layoffs were impending was to use all of my health care benefits – get annual physical, see my dentist, order contact lenses, etc. I wasn’t sure if or when my coverage might end so I kicked use into high gear (and was glad I did, since I was included in my company’s layoffs shortly thereafter).

      1. GG*

        that is EXCELLENT advice. something i forgot to do before my insurance was running out, and scrambled to do in the end. do it now, make all those appts as soon as you can get in!

    10. LKW*

      When people have a clear sense that they are being let go because the nature of the business model is changing and there is a clearly communicated transition period, people are more likely to commit to leaving on a good note. When someone is notified of a layoff and they are escorted out of the building that day – it leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

      At one company, they did layoffs over 15 months. It was awful. Later on we discussed that if they had staffing targets then we would have preferred that they just cut the staff in a short time and let us deal with it rather than having it hang over our heads. A lot of people left who wouldn’t have been laid off because they couldn’t deal with the uncertainty.

      At another company, I got my walking papers. But the company was really generous with their severance package so most people were ok and had a nice cushion. Most people got 3 – 6 months to prepare and transition. They provided job searching support too and allowed a lot of people to take whatever time they needed to go to interviews and look for other jobs.

    11. GG*

      I had over a year’s notice for my layoff. For the first 6 months, we just knew our team would be cut, didn’t know the dates/details. (We had a large European presence and they have different laws about layoff notification periods apparently, so they let the whole company know at once.) In January, I found out my last day was 8/31. I was allowed to leave whenever I wanted, but would forfeit my severance if I didn’t work through 8/31. Because I’d been there almost 10 years, I had nearly 6 months of full pay and benefits coming to me so I chose to wait it out. I spent the first few months panicking, then the last 3 months fully overhauling my resume, networking, seeing a career counselor, reading every job posting, and then as I got closer, I really stepped it up and started applying. I ended up getting the first job I applied for and only had a week off in between jobs, but I am still so happy I spent all of that time preparing. (And because I was earning a new salary and getting 100% of my former salary as severance at the same time, I was able to buy my house the following year with a much more sizable down payment than I’d have been able to save without my layoff.) I know they don’t all turn out that way, but I’d say if you get a good severance package and are happy at your job, don’t jump ship right away – but spend a LOT of time preparing!

      1. JustaTech*

        I had a coworker who knew she was going to get laid off, so she job hunted. One day she got a job offer for a great job with better pay. The very next day she was officially laid off. I could hear her coming out of her lay-off meeting two stories up, she was giggling so hard.
        She also bought a house with her severance.

      2. Moonlight Elantra*

        Yep! My severance money financed a second honeymoon a couple of years after my layoff, after I had a new job and we knew we wouldn’t need the money to get by on.

    12. JustaTech*

      That really sucks. My company had basically annual layoffs for about 3-4 years which was pretty stressful. In addition to all the really useful advice everyone here has offered, I’ll suggest this:
      This sucks, and it sucks a lot. Acknowledge that, and don’t let new management try to convince you it’s normal or OK. Be kind to yourself and your coworkers as much as you can, because looming layoffs can really gnaw at the edges of everything.
      Since it’s everyone at your company, try to maintain camaraderie. We used a lot of gallows humor.

      Good luck!

    13. ten-four*

      I was exactly where you are in 2008, only I was pregnant. The stay/go felt really similar: I’m in a niche industry doing exactly what I want to be doing, but we’ve gone through a fair number of layoffs since the acquisition. I wound up not job hunting and was laid off when my kiddo was 6 weeks old. In retrospect, I wish I’d networked more and more aggressively searched (even with the obvious hindrance of pregnancy to cope with). I wound up being un- or underemployed for several years.

      All of which is to say that uncertainty blows, and that the best thing you can do to manage the uncertainty is to take action: network and job search. You may or may not find a job worth leaving your current one over, but the fact that you’re taking action should actually relieve the free-floating anxiety as well as set you up to cope much more effectively should the layoff occur.

    14. HR Recruiter*

      I was in the same boat this year. First thing is to bump up your networking and looking. I let people know I was looking and may be loosing my job. but I was super picky though since I had a job and did not know if I would be part of the lays offs and if I was I’d get severance. When people called me with openings and it wasn’t something I was super into. I thanked them for thinking of me but let them know my job was not eliminated so I am staying where I am. No bridges burnt.

    15. Phoenix Programmer*

      I highly recommend taking charge and looking. I had a boss I really enjoyed and a job that I loved.

      But all of a sudden we got a new CFO. He created a team with the same job descriptions as our team and despite assurances to the contrary, the wiring on the wall was that our team was going to be eliminated.

      I applied for a promotion out of that department. I worried like you that I may be doing the wrong thing. I got the promotion.

      Two years later I am making 40% more than I was in that role and I am growing in a new role that will help me advance.

      That finance team on the other hand was dissolved. While everyone kept their jobs they were moved all around so the team was broken up. Most of the managers quit and they have gone through about 3 of them and currently have no manager. As staff quit they were not replaced so those left are over worked and burning out. Everyone over there is miserable and the departments awful output is harming their professional reputations.

      In short it is always best to take charge and have options. Even if you don’t get laid off the changes stemming from layoffs often drastically change the dynamics of your working conditions.

    16. mrs__peel*

      I was living anxiously under the threat of layoffs for most of last year– I kept my job, fortunately, but it was hugely stressful. I’m afraid my advice comes from doing basically everything wrong myself (in terms of my physical and mental health).

      I did NOT take care of myself properly when all that was happening. I’d strongly advise trying to get out for regular walks (or whatever kind of exercise you like), and keeping stress-eating to a minimum. (I had some major issues with the latter, and the election didn’t help much with that…)

      I didn’t do a great job of saving money beforehand, which would have eased my mind a great deal. (I’m trying to do better with that now). So careful budgeting and saving as much as possible may help you feel slightly more in control of things.

      I also spent a lot time holed up in my house alone, being depressed, when going out and seeing friends and family would have done a lot to improve my mental health. I’d advise trying to keep in regular contact with people and doing free/inexpensive things (e.g., cooking dinner at home, going for walks, watching Netflix, etc.)

    17. Malibu Stacey*

      If your company has laid off employees leave right away, start straightening up your desk/office, and slowly bringing home, tossing, or shredding the stuff you don’t need. That way if you do get laid off, you can just pack a small bag or box and be on your way, and don’t have to worry about going through all your drawers to make sure you don’t leave anything important behind.

    18. Bess*

      Lots of good advice here already. I had one situation involving a merger and large takeover, layoffs, and culture change, and I left eventually even though I’d bet my job was pretty safe…I’ve just always been a worrier with salary/paychecks and the risk was too much for me.

      In your case, where you have a lot to keep you there, I’d just focus on future-proofing yourself and gaining a sense of control–even just the feeling of control does a lot to keep anxiety at bay.

      I’d definitely second the advice to start saving as much as you can afford to keep in the bank (plus using any health benefits). I’d also start job hunting, if only for the sense of control. Hiring can take such a long time that putting feelers out now might not get results for 6 months anyway. If you do end up getting an offer, cross that bridge when you come to it.

      It sucks, but even really good places can become dismal after layoffs. People get scared or depressed, motivation can dip, and some good people will leave. So even if there’s lots of great stuff at this job, you may want to leave eventually anyway. You could consider a job search as a favor to your future self if this is what happens at your company.

      Not to sound negative! But particularly if you decide to stick it out I’d start shoring up finances and figuring out one or two contingencies–having even a couple of months of expenses might help reduce your anxiety about it and make sure you can make decisions from a stronger position.

    19. Elizabeth West*

      If you know it’s coming or suspect it might be, then yes, I’d start looking. That’s not a commitment–it’s a search. You’re not obligated to take anything at this point. You’re just seeing what’s out there. I can’t tell you if you should apply and interview right away; you’re the only one who knows the tone of what’s going on at your company, and when the best time will be to do that.

      I’d also cut back on expenses as much as you can, just in case.

    20. Witty Nickname*

      There are so many factors to consider, but I’ll tell you my experience. My company was bought out a few months ago. They came in and laid off almost the entire first 3 layers of leadership the first day. Since then, several hundred more people were laid off (all except one other person in my location from my former team are gone. My current team, that I was moved to a couple months before we were bought out, only lost a couple people). Some of my coworkers started searching immediately, that first day. Others took a wait & see approach. What we all did try to do was find out what the severance package would be, at least look at job boards and see what types of jobs were available, and get our resumes and cover letters updated.

      People who hadn’t been here very long were more seriously looking for jobs than those who had been here for several years. Severance is tied to how long you’ve been here, so that makes sense. I took a wait and see approach, because I’ve been here long enough to get several months of severance (and I live in an area where they are required to pay out PTO, and I have a TON built up). I also had a pretty srong suspicion that I had a good chance of not being laid off, but my husband was almost definitely going to be (I was right – but he maxed out the severance, so yay!), and wanted to keep as much stability for our family as I could. I’ve had a couple companies contact me, and have followed up on jobs that interested me, but I haven’t seriously been looking. I am now in a position that isn’t really where I want my career to be in the long term, but is going to get me some really good experience that will hopefully help me get to where I want to be (I was actually transitioning into the type of role I really want to be doing before we were bought out, so I don’t love that I’m being delayed in that, but this experience should actually set me up better for it, or for moving on to whatever my next role ends up being).

      Whether or not you should just take what you can get, if you do job hunt, depends on how long you’ve been at your company (are you one of the newest, and thus probably the most likely to be laid off from your team), can you get a sense of whether the new owners already have a lot of people doing your job (and is it something that team can absorb from your company pretty easily), creating too much duplication, etc. I had one coworker who had an offer in hand and was able to postpone her start until after she was notified of her layoff here – she was honest with her new company, saying she didn’t want to leave severance money on the table, and they agreed to postpone her start a couple weeks (she did have to set a date by which she would just walk away from the severance though, and be ok with that in her mind).

  8. Assistant in Distress*

    How much should I push back on a desk move?

    I am an assistant to a trio of directors, and have been here only a few months. They’re all in offices, and I’m in a row of cubicles outside their doors. Some recent moves have come up (people left and new people hired on). I thought I was safe but when the desk right in front of their offices opened up, the directors made me move. Now I literally just moved one cubicle down from where I was, maybe a dozen feet, but it makes a huge difference to my day.

    I’m now right next to a very busy conference room that is not at all sound proof. I can hear meetings going on like they’re happening in my cube. It is so incredibly distracting. My productivity has plummeted since moving because my focus is constantly shattered by the meetings. I can’t use noise canceling headphones because I need to hear my directors when they call out to me so I’m just stuck with this noise.

    I really want to ask to move but I’m not sure they’ll let me. When I said that I wasn’t thrilled with the move initially, they just said that I’d get used to the noise and they wanted me closer. It’s so frustrating because I’m only closer to them by a dozen feet than my last desk, where I couldn’t hear the conference room at all and could still work with them just fine. Another employee has been trying to move and the directors have apparently stopped him because we’re too busy to move anyone else. I’m hoping in a week or two, they will start shuffling people around and I can ask again but I’m worried they’ll say no. How can I make my case stronger? It’s such a small move that I don’t see why it’s a big deal to them when it is a big deal to me because I feel like I can’t function when meetings are happening; I’ve even been getting pounding headaches at my new desk. I’m tempted to be bluntly honest and say to them that I get nothing done when meetings are happening so wouldn’t it make more sense to move me where I can be productive for them and not be bothered by the meetings. ‘Help me to help you’ kind of thing since I’m no use to anyone unfocused and with constant headaches.

    1. Murphy*

      Can you frame it as “Now that I’ve given it a try, I really am finding that it’s disruptive for reasons x, y, z, and it makes it difficult for me to complete a, b, c….” Be specific about how it impacts your helping them. Make sure you really have given it a try though. I’m not sure how long you’ve been at the desk, but give it at least 2 weeks.

    2. Sadsack*

      Not sure about asking for another move because someone has to sit there eventually, right? Maybe asking if a white noise machine can be installed above the conference room would make more sense, especially if they ever plan to discuss anything sensitive or confidential in that room.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        The person sitting there could easily be someone who *can* use headphones, though. The poster doesn’t have that option because of the nature of their job.

        Hey Assistant in Distress – talk to *one* of your managers and give them numbers. Numbers equal actual money to managers. “I’m accomplishing 30% less because of the noise and interruptions.” If they ask you to validate that number, tell them “my focus is constantly shattered by the meetings”. If you can, come up with something specific like “planning business travel usually takes me less than 1 hour but during the last 2 weeks it’s taken me at least 2 hours each time”.

        Just keep telling them that you can’t do the good job that you want to do, and you find that distressing, because you *want* to help your bosses succeed. You’ve got the right idea, in that the message you want is not “I have trouble doing my job”, but rather “I have trouble giving you the assistance you need”.

        Good luck to you! Maybe get yourself some flowers for your desk, just because.

        1. Sadsack*

          All good points. However, I am still kind of surprised that the director’s don’t care that anyone in the vicinity of the nearest desk can hear everything being said in the room. You’d think they’d would want to prevent that.

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            So yes. I’ve worked in plenty of places where confidentiality was a real thing. I don’t get how people can have NO situational awareness about volume levels.

            Did you see the story last month about the Washington lawyers who didn’t keep their voices down? (Oh gaw, I just looked at the picture and they were sitting *outside*. Double-plus idjits.)

    3. fposte*

      It sounds like the issue is that you’re support staff for the people in the offices, and that they might have noticed a problem with the distance even if you didn’t. You can still bring it up, though.

      I would say that the couple of weeks you’d have to wait before bringing it up is probably a good interval for you anyway, because those are two weeks where you are going to try your utmost to develop focus that makes this new desk work and coach yourself out of paying attention to the conference room. If at the end of the time it’s still a problem (and your old desk is still open), I think it’s fine to go to your manager and say “I gave this a really good-faith effort and I understand that it’s useful to the directors to have me closer, but the distraction of the conference-room noise means I was actually more productive at my old desk. I’d like to move back. Is that possible, and what do I need to do to make that happen?”

      And be aware that the answer may simply be no, it’s not possible; think about what you want to do if that’s the case.

    4. FormerOP*

      Ask! There is a saying “you already have the no” that I find useful at times like this. Some folks need more noise or more quiet than others, you sound like you know yourself and your needs. A polite ask for a desk move seems completely reasonable. Just point out that it is too noisy for you, and ask for the move.

    5. AFineSpringDay*

      I’m about to move into what is our storage area – I’m losing my desk near everyone else because we need more space for a new boss. People are actually concerned I’ll be lonely, and I tell them they underestimate just how much I like being alone. So I feel your pain, that sounds unbearable.

      1. sunshyne84*

        Same. lol I’m in the old library and I love the solitude. I couldn’t stand the cubicle farm especially since I was right near the door and everyone was always looking over my shoulder.

      2. On Fire*

        Ha! I work in a storage area, too, and I *love* it. Everyone is afraid I’ll get lonely, but I do a lot of field work, so I’m rarely there anyway.

        I agree with the PP’s who said give it a couple of week, and then take your specific issues (disruptions, hard to hear on phone, whatever), and ask if it would be possible to either return to your previous desk or install soundproofing for the conference room.

    6. LCL*

      In your post you talk about the physical effects to you. But you have barely talked to your managers about this, except to mention feelings. They don’t care about your feelings, I doubt they have spent any more time thinking about this.
      When you meet with them, stick to concrete physical facts. Because this is a physical problem that has a physical solution. You did a great job of identifying these physical factors in your post. Tell them!
      ‘I can’t work well in my new cubicle because it is much noisier than my old cubicle.
      I know it’s only a move of 12 feet, but that puts me next to the conference room. I can hear every word that is said in the conference room. And noise cancelling headphones aren’t an option because I can’t do my job with them on.
      Because of the conference room noise, I get constant headaches. I never had them at my old cubicle. And my productivity has drastically dropped, because every time I hear something I lose my concentration. Between the constant headaches and the constant interruption, I can’t do the good job that I want to do.’

      My hearing was never exceptionally acute. When I was younger (premanagement days) and people would complain about background noise making their life harder, I thought they were just being high maintenance and making it up as an excuse to get out of something. Because I couldn’t hear it. You could have your bosses drop by your desk when meetings are in full cry, but the noise might not bother them like it bothers you.

    7. JulieBulie*

      If you can hear everything going on in the conference room, can you claim that you are hearing things that you probably aren’t supposed to hear? We have a cubicle that’s now used only for storage because the person sitting there was getting an earful of stuff… private conversations, verbal abuse, cunning plans, etc. in the adjacent conference room.

    8. Candy*

      Maybe you’ll have better luck asking to rearrange the cubicle walls instead, so you’re still close to them but have a bit of a noise buffer between you and the conference room.

      This isn’t a good diagram but if you’re in a three-wall cubicle, and the “door” is open towards the conference room, maybe you can move one wall 90 degrees moving the door to another side. Like this:

      CR ]

      CR | _ |

  9. intldevtprofesh*

    Happy Friday, everyone! I was wondering if AAMers have any thoughts about “Professional Masters” degrees, as opposed to conventional research-focused Master’s programs? The professional program is about practical knowledge, and the designation is slightly different- instead of M.Ed., you would receive a PME.

    I am managing an education project for a non-governmental organization and would really like to expand my knowledge of issues like learning assessment, curriculum, pedagogical methods, etc. Would employers recognize a PME as just as valuable as a conventional Masters?

    1. Angela's Back*

      I imagine the relative value of/preference for the two degrees would depend on the organization. So if you were in an NGO that primarily does policy work, I’d think the research focused master’s would be better, whereas if you’re in an organization that emphasizes front line support for teachers, the practical focused master’s might be preferable. I’m in a field (archives/records management) where the master’s is pretty much required and although the emphasis is on gaining the practical experience while you’re in school, in my program you could choose to do a final project or a final thesis, and what you want to do/where you want to end up definitely influences which of those people chose. Most people do the practicum because they want to have that big project to talk about in interview, whereas people who are wanting to go on to the PhD program are more likely to choose the thesis option. I would ask around in your field see what people who are doing what you do/manage what you do say.

      1. Grits McGee*

        Well hello there fellow archivist!

        I got a more academically-focused Public History degree over an MLIS or ALA-accredited archives degree. While I got a broader theoretical background that has at times come in handy, I do feel like I’m at a disadvantage when it comes to skill sets (esp cataloging and digital topics) compared to coworkers that came from more focused archives graduate programs. I’m also at a disadvantage when it comes to looking for jobs, as many institutions want degrees from ALA programs.

        intldevtprofesh, since you’re in education, I would look at job listings (especially if you’re paying for it yourself) to see what the field values more, especially since academics and the academia-adjacent can get a little sniffy about one variety of degree vs. another. You can always pad out the deficiencies of a degree program with one-off classes and programs.

        1. Angela's Back*

          Hey hey, go archives! And seconding the advice about looking at job postings, what people are actually hiring for is always useful information.

    2. OtterB*

      Hopefully others can speak to how it’s viewed in the education field. In many STEM fields, a Professional Masters degree is good for someone who will be working with researchers but not doing research herself – something like a lab manager or project manager role. It positions you as someone who understands the technical side of the field but also has management skills. And the wise researcher deeply values someone who supports her well. :-)

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’d go see what people are hiring for. Do you need a terminal degree? Is the PME considered terminal? What are the requirements for the kinds of jobs you want? Are there people hiring who can speak to you about what they would prefer?

      One reason I didn’t get an archives degree and instead got an MLIS is that archives degrees aren’t considered terminal, so most universities (which require people to have terminal degrees and are judged on how many have them when they go through accreditation) want the terminal degree. I found this out by asking lots of people in the field for their advice. Most people are willing to answer your questions if you just ask politely.

    4. ArtK*

      I’m in the process of completing a professional master’s degree. It’s an MS in Engineering Management. Since I’m reaching a point in my life where software developer jobs are going to much younger people, management is my route forward. Note, that this is designated as an MS so at that level isn’t distinguished from a more academic one. You have to look at the certification to pick up the difference.

      In your case, an employer who would accept an M.Ed over a PME for the type of work you’re doing is far too focused on the degree name and not on the skills. Frankly, unless you’re being employed as a researcher, having the more academic emphasis isn’t really a plus — practical stuff is far more useful.

    5. Julianne*

      I’ve never heard of a PME before; I’m in education, but I’m a teacher (in the U.S.). Looking over some of the Google hits, all the PME descriptions sounded pretty similar to my M.Ed program, which was not a research-focused degree. I realize that doesn’t answer your actual question, but I just thought I’d offer the clarification that (at least in the U.S.), education master’s programs (MA or M.Ed) aren’t necessarily research oriented the same way other graduate degree programs are (though of course, there are those that do focus on research).

    6. Lady Kelvin*

      There are several schools in my field that offer Masters of Professional Science degrees (STEM, where you usually either get an MS with a thesis or a PhD) and they are considered a joke. Since the only places you can work with one is NGOs (in our specific field), you’ll get paid 30K if your lucky and have spent a fortune on a worthless master’s degree, because you can’t get a lab job in our field with it, you need a thesis-based MS. I work in a particularly low-paying STEM field, however, and so the difference between entry level BS pay and PhD level pay isn’t much. The PhD allows you to move up in your field, while the BS/MS has a very strong ceiling. I’d suggest asking people within your field how they are viewed, because it could be very field dependent. If someone asked me if I thought they should get one in my field I would tell them that it would only cause them lots of debt and hurt their professional reputation.

  10. Sassy AE*

    My yearly review is on Monday, pray for me. This past year has been up and down, which is kind of worrying. I’m not on a PIP or anything, but I don’t know if it’s the right time to ask for a raise.

    1. LKW*

      Prepare a review of your accomplishments and what you’d like to achieve in the next year. If you feel you deserve a raise based on merit, be prepared to discuss what you’ve done to earn the raise and what you bring to the company.

  11. Susan K*

    Several of my coworkers have really annoying habits — things that they do almost right but not quite, or low-priority things they just don’t do due to laziness. Any single one of these things is not a big deal, and most of them are not necessarily against any rules, but are just matters of common courtesy or common sense. I think I would look extremely petty if I complained about these things, but they happen over and over again, and they really add up, not only in time but in irritation.

    Part of the reason is that my job is shift work, which makes it easy for people to pass things off to the next person, but I take pride in my work and I don’t feel right passing something that I know is wrong to the next person, so I am always the one to fix things, even if they’ve gone uncorrected for 4 or 5 shifts. I know people do these things out of laziness, not because they’re too busy, because I see most of them surfing the internet for hours per day.

    I can’t really see myself going to my boss to complain that Fergus didn’t refill the stapler and Lucinda used the last of the dark chocolate chips and didn’t get another bag from the supply cabinet (oh yeah, another problem is that half the time, I don’t even know who did something, because it could have been anyone who worked the last 5 shifts), but is there a good way to address the pattern of multiple people doing many things half-assed?

    Here are some examples (there are many, many more, but I tried to stick with ones that don’t take much explanation):

    – The stapler runs out of staples, and instead of putting more staples in it, they will use a different stapler (even when there is a box of staples closer than the next-closest stapler).

    – They will fill out the last line on a form and not print another (blank) copy of the form. Or they will use the last page of a stack of forms and not print more.

    – They will add a page to a binder but are too lazy to open and close the binder rings, so they will just slip the new page between bound pages (this is especially fun when I pick up the binder and all the loose pages fall out).

    – There are some items that we need to rinse for an extended period of time before reusing them. People will put the items in the sink but not bother to turn on the water.

    – After the items are rinsed sufficiently, we have to inspect them (which takes less than 5 minutes), and if they are satisfactory, put them back on the shelf for reuse. We usually only have 1-3 items per shift to inspect, but most people are too lazy to do the inspections, so when I’m off for a couple of days, I will come back to find 10 items waiting to be inspected.

    – They will use the last of something and leave the container empty instead of going to the supply cabinet to get more.

    – Sometimes we have to run a calculation using a computer program to get a number to put on a form. Each calculation is saved by the program and can be retrieved later if needed. However, people are too lazy to type a description for the calculation (such as customer name, order number, etc.), so if we need to retrieve the calculation later, it is very difficult to figure out which calculation is the one we need.

    – When we make a handle, spout, or lid, we put it in a box and then put a sticker on the box with our initials and the date. The stickers are color-coded (red for milk chocolate, green for dark chocolate, blue for white chocolate) to make it easy to find the right type of chocolate, but some people can’t be bothered to use the correct stickers and just grab a sheet of whatever color is nearby and put that color on everything.

    – Certain types of documents are supposed to go in color-coded folders. The folders have pockets and prongs. It’s common sense that we’re supposed to punch holes in the documents and put them on the prongs, but this is too much trouble for some people so they just shove the documents in the pockets. Sometimes they can’t even be bothered to put the document in a folder and just clip it with a binder clip instead.

    1. Michelle*

      What would happen if you didn’t do these things? Would they continue to go undone?

      I understand your frustration. Many of my duties fall into the “office manager” category and it’s incredibly frustrating. Simple things like: paperclip your receipts to your credit card statement, don’t staple it because it has to be scanned or fill out your time sheet before X date at X time. Like you, many people just can’t be bothered to do it, yet they have ample time to surf the internet.

      If you can, just stop doing them. If/when someone complains, simply say “yes, that’s frustrating” and go on about your business. For me, it’s a cycle-I will tell them, they will do better and then they fall right back into the habit. If it wouldn’t hurt our company, I would stop doing them altogether, but I feel bad about holding up payroll for the whole company because someone couldn’t be bothered to fill out their time sheet.

      1. Specialk9*

        I was thinking “office manager” too.

        There’s also a tendency for people to figure things magically get done. Force yourself not to do any of these things for 2 months. It will pain you. But let them go, and let other people start doing these things.

      2. Susan K*

        Well, a lot of these things are inconvenient to me when I’m trying to do my job. It’s more convenient for me to put more staples in the nearby stapler than look around the room for another stapler that has staples in it… but it would really be nice if someone other than me could put more staples in the stapler so it’s not empty when I arrive. It’s easier for me to spend 20 seconds putting a document on the prongs of a folder than to have to pull the document out of the pocket every time I need to look at it… but it would really be nice if the person who printed it could have just put it on the prongs in the first place. If someone leaves a container of something I need empty, I have no choice but to go to the supply cabinet to get more… but I wish the person who used the last one would have the common courtesy to refill the container so it’s full for the next person who needs one.

    2. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      I think the key is this part of your sentence: “most of them are not necessarily against any rules”.

      Most of that is annoying, but it’s like living with bad roommates annoying. Nothing’s really going to change if you point it out, you’ll just be venting.

      I would push back on the box colors and the calculators because that impacts work. With the calculators, can you set the program to give a default date/time/user initials ID if they put nothing in? It would make it easier to track. With the box colors…hm. In theory you could put all the stickers away, but then the boxes would just be unlabeled. Maybe just a stash near the boxes? That one is for your peace of mind. You don’t have to do it, I’m just not seeing people changing. Maybe you could keep your own private stash so the mislabeled ones won’t bother you?

      Honestly, some of the stuff you are complaining about sounds similar to the admin letter earlier this week. If it’s not in your job description and no on else is doing it, let it drop, too. Otherwise you’ll spend a lot of time doing work that’s not your problem and has no impact on your bonuses/etc.

      1. Susan K*

        Does there really need to be a rule to put more staples in the stapler when it’s out of staples, or to open the binder rings and put the rings through the holes in the piece of paper? I consider that type of thing to be obviously common sense or common courtesy, and I figured that’s why there are no rules about them — because most reasonable people can figure out what they’re supposed to do in these situations.

        The calculation program does save the date and time for each calculation, but that’s not really much help because we typically do several calculations per day. If we do have to look up an old calculation, we have to try to figure out the approximate date and time it was done, and then open all of the calculations that were done around that time to try to guess which one was the one we need. In theory, we shouldn’t have to look up any old calculations because we’re supposed to enter the final result in a database (which is why most people don’t bother taking the extra 10 seconds to type in identifying information), but occasionally, people forget to enter the result in the database, and it’s often several days later when someone realizes the result is missing from the database, and that’s when we have to go back to the calculation archives.

        1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

          I’m speaking as a person who had a roommate leave dishes in the sink for 2+ weeks (when unemployed and at home >20 hours a day) and has a staff-stocked kitchen that 2 out of 12 people ever buy stuff for. I get where you are coming from, and it SHOULD be obvious. However, some people don’t notice, don’t care, or won’t change when you point it out anyway.

          So I would push back on the things that impact work in a demonstrable way (like you just described about the calculations) to your boss. And I’d use those examples. The others? Unfortunately, those are the people you work with. You can try it, but don’t be surprised when nothing changes.

          1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

            For clarity:

            The office reimburses for food/snacks–you just have to go and get them then file for the reimbursement paid out in <2 weeks. People just don't.

    3. Master Bean Counter*

      You need to go to your boss and explain that your work really needs everybody to follow basic standards, especially with the labeling. Sounds like you have management that just doesn’t pay close attention. Maybe you could document how much time you waste because things aren’t done right? That would get their attention.

    4. hbc*

      I think it’s okay to go to your manager and lead with, “Some of this stuff may be petty, and I’m okay even if you decide none of these things are worth addressing. But I think if even half the people did half the things I’ve got on my list, we’d see better productivity.”

      Put the items on your list in decreasing order of importance. (To be honest, when you lead with staplers, I was thinking you should just grumble and move on.) That calculation thing is a pretty big deal, and as a manager I would want to announce that people absolutely need to put identifying information in. I’d also want a chance to consider the colored stickers and decide whether the color coding is unnecessary (and just give one color sticker) or to start bugging the people whose initials are on the wrong color label.

      Then back off and let it be.

      1. lulu*

        Agree with this approach. And present it as a general thing, not against one person in particular, since it sounds like multiple people are doing it.

      2. nonegiven*

        Shouldn’t the needing inspection things be up pretty high, too? How many shifts left it undone while you were gone?

    5. LCL*

      This is always a challenge with shiftworkers. Things are left undone, or left for the next shift. The next shift sighs and fixes it and doesn’t say anything until someone is virtually homicidal with rage at jobs left undone. So they go in and shout at the manager about how Random is a lazy glassbowl and Brand is sleeping behind the boxes and how come you manager don’t do anything about this thing that we haven’t told you about before this?

      This falls on you to make a list of tasks. And the shortcuts people are taking and why they don’t work. Then talk to your manager and leave names out of it. Present it as too many things are getting dropped between shifts, and you are asking management to fix this communication problem because it seems like you are always finishing others’ work. Leave out all the value judgements, even though they are true.

      Management will have kind of an idea who the slackers are, but may not know to what extent. It sounds like what is really needed is someone with some authority on the other shifts, but this might not be possible. At minimum, management needs to get the word across to all shifts that, for example, completed packages must be labeled correctly and remind them what correct labeling is.

    6. LKW*

      It sounds like you work in a lab or other environment that has external oversight. Prioritize the issues in terms of impact and compliance. The stapler thing is annoying but no one who oversees your industry will write your organization up for empty staplers. However, mismanagement of files and processes can result in fines or worse. Discuss standards that would impact an inspection or audit of your workplace. Those are the ones on which to focus.

      Someone is in charge and someone is not laying out expectations. That’s the person to approach.

    7. Koko*

      I would be happy if my one colleague would stop marking every single email he sends me as Urgent/High Priority when it is never, ever either of those things.

    8. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      You know what? I just thought of something. Any people that get the “other duties” title for random stuff in your department? You could make up a general department list for daily/weekly checks of whatever is normally the problem and give that list to that person.

      We had this issue in the lab (onboarding issues with the new hires) and I ran the list by my supervisor and group before implementing. It cut down on 85-90% of the issues. Not sure if it’s an option for you.

  12. Farah*

    Someone on a social media webpage shared an article about interviewing. It advises that the point of the interview is to find out what the problems/shortfalls the company is facing (or potentially facing) and offer up solutions. This sounds a lot like the ‘pain letter’ strategy, but an in-person version. Am I right to think this is terrible advice and that interviewers are more likely to be put-off by this than be impressed?

    1. Specialk9*

      Eek. No! See yesterday’s article about know-it-alls!

      A different approach is to figure out some pain points and explain how your background enables you to come in, learn, and help problem solve. But coming in and shooting from the hip comes across as thinking they’re stupid, and that you’re arrogant, that you can know how to fix something without pausing to listen or learn about the big picture and details.

      1. Naptime Enthusiast*

        Also, “Pain letters” have been covered in past articles as a gimmicky cover letter method.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t know for certain that interviewers are more likely to be put off by this than impressed by it, but I will say interviewers who are impressed with “pain letter” strategies are not the people you want to work for.

    3. Sheik Yurbooti*

      While listening to the interviewer during the interview is important (duh) and you always want to highlight your skills and experience as it pertains to the position and company, you should never leave solving their ‘pain points’ to the interview process and answer on the fly.

      Always, always research the company ahead of time (especially if it’s public — harder if private but not impossible), the position, current and former employees, industry buzz, news stories, etc. before you go in and give it some thought as how you being hired would improve their company. Great if you can pivot to addressing pain points in person, but there is no guarantee the interview will go in that direction. I’m not sure if the interviewer would be put-off, but without previous research and knowledge of the role/company you are not going to come across as a viable candidate.

    4. Master Bean Counter*

      I tend to try to dig to find out what things the company is looking to improve or where they know they currently have shortfalls. Mostly because I’d like to gauge how much of a challenge I’m going to be walking into and if it’s something I’m capable of fixing or even interested in trying to fix. But I don’t offer up solutions. I will talk about how I’ve addressed a similar problem in the past, if it’s relevant.
      But to offer up solutions, that’s short sighted.

    5. hbc*

      Hasn’t a company usually told you their relevant problems and shortfalls when they post the ad? We have a problem in that we don’t have enough people to do these things we’ve listed, and to fill that shortfall we want someone who can do those things.

      I mean, bonus points if you hear their story and walk through their shop and are like, “Uh, I can do a cost analysis on the expense of OSHA citations and workers comp versus buying welding masks. I think you might find the masks are worth the investment.” But if you find something every time, most likely you’re either pointing out something everyone there knows or you’re just wrong.

    6. Yorick*

      Off topic but I have to tell someone that I hate the term “pain point.” Why can’t we just call them the employer’s needs?

        1. Specialk9*

          I think of “need” as straightforward things – staff, staplers, the everyday things of everyday work. “Pain point” in my mind is the big picture kind of thing that far fewer people consider – this industry has seen a fundamental shift with X, which creates these systemic problems. Referencing those systemic challenges, and explaining that you have a toolset for grappling with those challenges, seems like a good way to show you get what they are facing.

          1. Koko*

            Yes, to me being asked my pain points is, “What part of your job do you dutifully do because it’s the only way to accomplish your goals, but is a horrible/tedious/inefficient/error-riddled process that you wish were better?” Something that is already working, but only kinda-sorta-not well which makes it a painful part of my job.

      1. Purple snowdrop*

        Someone in a meeting earlier this week was using “stone in shoe” as a thing. I thought I misheard at first :-/

    7. Esme Squalor*

      I agree this is terrible advice, and likely to lead to well intentioned interviewees offering the kind of shallow suggestions that are filled with gaping issues due to an unfamiliarity with the company. They may even suggest things the company has considered, but dismissed for good reason. The odds that this will make the interviewee look bad are much, much higher than the odds they’ll end up impressing a potential employer.

    8. ArtK*

      “Hi! I’ve never worked for you, but I know what’s wrong with your company!” — Hmmmm… doesn’t sound to good.

      How about this: “Can you describe the kind of problem that I would be addressing in this role?” … “Ok, here’s how I might approach that problem…” That gets the same kind of information across — an idea of how you would approach the role — without being arrogant and off-putting.

    9. HR Recruiter*

      I’ve had an interviewee do something like this. It felt like a slap in the face. The gave a really basic solution to a problem. I was one of many managers/directors sitting in the room. Like really you don’t think any of us have thought of that before? Obviously we have already been that route.

      The only time this would work is if the employer was looking to add a position to solve a problem. For example years ago we were looking to add the position communications manager to develop our social media. So I would expect them to come into the interview with ideas of how to solve our problem of lack of social media.

    10. Working Rachel*

      Don’t do it. It’s super unlikely that you are going to correctly diagnose a company’s problems from the outside, especially in a way they haven’t already thought of. Much more helpful would be to give examples of how you’ve solved problems in a current or past job, or to ask intelligent questions once you get to the interview. (“I saw that you have a strong Facebook presence, but no Instagram. Is there a reason for that?”)

      My company has a lot of problems, and I want to hire people who will help fix them, but the solutions that someone would be likely to offer in a cover letter or even at the interview stage would either make me question their judgement (“You guys need a new building!” “Great, do you have 1.2 million dollars?”) or their understanding of our mission. It’s okay not to understand our very specific mission completely, but I want someone who’s interested in understanding it, not someone who’s going to start suggesting a bunch of stuff that’s not mission-appropriate straight off the bat and then possibly get offended if their suggestions aren’t taken.

  13. Not a Real Giraffe*

    Looking for opinions on interoffice IMing etiquette:

    I am of the opinion that if you do not have an existing relationship with someone, the best way to reach out to them with a work-related question is email or (if time-sensitive) a phone call, rather than an IM. An IM feels very urgent and invasive to me – mostly because the flashing notification on my screen makes it hard to ignore it, and also because it feels disrespectful of my time/priorities.

    I’d love to hear others’ perspectives on IM use at work!

    1. Snark*

      I kind of agree, but there’s no established etiquette around these things, and someone used to using IM for daily communication with colleagues might just default to that. And I don’t think they necessarily should be faulted for doing so.

    2. Murphy*

      Yeah, I agree. We don’t use IM that often, but it’s usually a “hey quick question” while in the middle of something kind of deal.

    3. HMM*

      That has never been the norm in any office I’ve worked in that used an IM service. It doesn’t really matter if you’ve met them or not, it’s there to facilitate faster conversations, or ease of getting answers to quick questions. Sometimes it easier to answer via a phone call or video conference if the answer is complex, but I don’t think it’s rude to reach out via IM .

    4. Monsters of Men*

      If you get a lot of emails, IM can just be the better way to go. When I worked at the front desk at a community centre, there were often 5 of us on a time. There were 18 community facilities with one email list. We would get about 120 emails a day regarding shift coverage/procedural changes/general questions (what would you do if…)

      An IM was the easiest way to be like “Hey, I talked to this customer yesterday about the thing he’s talking to you now..” or “go for your break” or other things.

      But if you work in a smaller office or aren’t customer focused, I think emails are the way to go. I know they’re also easier to document.

    5. EddieSherbert*

      If it’s something I can say/get across in about 2-3 sentences or less than a paragraph, I default to IM – even if I’ve basically never met the person. If it’s longer than that, I’ll shoot them an email.

      I work in a very casual office, if that matters.

    6. NW Mossy*

      One thing you can try is poking around in the settings for your IM application and seeing if you can tinker with how notifications appear. In mine, I have them set to appear in the most unobtrusive part of my screen and to flash only initially; after that, they just minimize to my task bar and wait until I address them.

      Also, feel free to tell those asking that you can’t answer them now but will later. I often get IMs when I’m in meetings (even though my status notes that), and a short “In a meeting – catch you later!” has always been received well.

    7. Sara*

      I use IM all the time, and actually prefer it to phone calls. I rarely call people -if I need something, I’ll send an email to them and an IM as a follow up later if they haven’t responded. Though I will say, I agree that its a little more urgent and attention getting, so I’m cautious with people I don’t know well. But with people that I know have a ton of emails and I just need ask a quick clarification question, I find it helps things not get backlogged.

    8. Purplesaurus*

      For someone I don’t have an existing relationship with, I prefer email > IM > phone call. I can at least ignore the message for a moment and save my work or finish my task. But using IM does not feel disrespectful/invasive to me.

    9. Naptime Enthusiast*

      In my workplace an IM from someone you don’t actually know comes after a few emails and is more of a mildly passive aggressive reminder to answer them.

    10. Admin of Sys*

      About half out office doesn’t have phones, so IM is considered the default if there’s something that’s time critical. But folks are also really good about marking themselves busy if they don’t want interrupted. That said, I probably wouldn’t chat my director w/out knowing he was okay with it – but I also wouldn’t call them. I find phone calls more invasive than IM alerts.

    11. Anony McAnonface*

      My office uses Slack for more casual contact. An email is important, Slack is just a heads up. But I think each office is different.

      1. Misquoted*

        I work remotely, so I can’t wander over to someone’s desk to ask a question. I use IM as the remote equivalent to wandering over. I try to start with “Hello! Do you have a minute or two?” just as I would if I’d wandered over to their desk. It’s a bit more invasive, as I can’t see if they are on the phone or talking to another person or eating their breakfast/lunch, but if they don’t answer after a while, I just email them rather than sending another IM.

    12. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Heh — it’s interesting how differently people experience different forms of communications technology. For me, a phone call is far more invasive than an IM.

      I tend to think of IMs as being useful for quick questions, checking to see if someone is available for a longer conversation, giving someone a heads up that more detailed information is coming by email and that they should look for it quickly, or casual relationship building.

      1. Koko*

        Yeah, these are my channel-choosing criteria as well:

        – IM/Slack is either for something quick and uncomplicated, or to call attention to an email that is running out of time to get a response and I’m concerned they may not have seen it.
        – Email for complex topics that need documentation but most decisions have already been made so you won’t need a ton of back-and-forth.
        – Phone or in-person meetings for projects where a lot of decisions are yet to be made and a conversation is needed.

        In any case I’ll choose the channel I use based on the above without regard for how well I know the person or how closely I work with them.

      2. EH*

        Same! I currently work for a tech company that doesn’t even have phones in the cubes, but my last few in-office gigs where I did have phones, we never used them. Email for long stuff, IM for quick stuff (and for people who don’t answer their email). And IMs almost always start with something like “ping?” or “do you have a sec?”

        My current manager really likes talking over Skype (so, like a phone call), but she always pings first on IM to ask if I can take a call. (I am not a fan, though. IM/email all the way!) An IM can be left unanswered for a sec while I finish something, but a phone call says STOP EVERYTHING AND ANSWER ME! Which: stressful.

    13. Claire*

      In my experience, some people really love to use and some people don’t. If you really don’t like it, you can always respond via call and mention that you prefer not to use the IM system. Although I would advise saying that it’s because you find the notifications distracting, not that it’s disrespectful; that’ll put them on the defense, and it’s kind of illogical – a ringing phone can also feel urgent and invasive.

    14. oranges & lemons*

      My personal hierarchy of communication invasiveness is email < IM < phone call < stopping by their desk < emailing their manager (if it is impossible to get hold of them otherwise). If I don't know the person well, I usually start at the bottom and escalate if I have to.

    15. LKW*

      Depends on the person, their level of seniority and their role in the organization. If they’re attached to my project I might reach out by IM first. If they are significantly more senior I might try email than a random “Hi – Wakeen said you might have answers to my questions which are….”

      I also look to see what their status is (free, in a meeting, etc. as a guide). If they’re always in meetings, I may start with email then bug them over IM because they’re not responding.

    16. Adaline B.*

      To me, phone calls are more urgent. We use IMs occasionally but I don’t think everyone’s adapted to Hangouts vs. Communicator because our IT has the default to not keep history, so it’s theoretically possible to IM someone as them never see it. -.-

    17. Not a Real Giraffe*

      It has been so interesting to read these responses! I find phone calls easier to ignore somehow. I have no problem hitting the decline button and letting it go to voicemail until I’m ready to deal with it, but something about the IM lurking on my screen taps into a level of distraction I cannot ignore.

      1. Koko*

        I normally don’t answer my phone. 99% of the calls I get are cold sales calls, I work on a digital team so everyone I work with uses email and IM to communicate, I don’t have a public-facing phone number, and my hearing on the phone is not great so I spend a lot of time asking people to repeat themselves and feeling embarrassed/annoying for doing so.

        But if it’s coming from an internal extension I feel obligated to answer because I assume it must be super-urgent if someone is calling. An IM stays on my screen until I answer it, but a phone call is this super ephemeral thing that is happening right now and goes away if I don’t pick up, so I assume when someone calls me it’s because they need to talk to me right now.

        (It appears I currently have 27 voicemails. I will never listen to them.)

    18. Susan K*

      Just my personal opinion, but I disagree. I find IM much less intrusive than a phone call, and as long as it’s something relatively quick/simple, I don’t mind using IM instead of e-mail. The only problem with IM is that my company doesn’t allow saving IM conversations (I could copy and paste it into something else if I wanted, but I can’t save the IM conversation itself), so I prefer e-mail if it’s something I might need to refer to later. If I really didn’t want people to IM me, I could just set my status to away/busy/invisible (although I’ve never had occasion to do that).

    19. clow*

      Sending IM’s in general is pretty normal for my office. I’ve never personally found it invasive when people IM me, usually people will apologize if the IM has been sitting there for a while.

    20. Bostonian*

      How invasive I rate interactions:
      1) in-person
      2) phone
      3) IM
      4) email

      Though the flashing IM is annoying, you could ignore it for a few minutes if you were busy. Everything above that on the list requires an immediate response.

      I agree that an email is the first line when contacting someone you don’t have an exiting relationship with.

    21. Emily*

      I use IM if it is something that could potentially turn into a conversation, and I use email if it is something that I feel they might want to refer to later.

      I often IM even if I know they aren’t even there, because I know they will come back later, so I don’t know about “IMs are urgent.” I IM lots of non-urgent stuff. I assume that if it isn’t a good time to respond to me, they will wait until later. Sometimes I even say, “Hey, this isn’t urgent, but I just wanted to tell you…..”

      I like getting IMs for stuff like that because then I don’t have to delete the emails.

      Honestly, in my office, if I didn’t know someone (but could find them on Slack), that means I probably SHOULD know them, and I’d just find them and introduce myself, but I think that might be office-culture specific.

  14. Junior Dev*

    So last week I had lunch with someone I know from the code school I attended in 2015. We talked about software and my experiences working in the industry and what it was like to work for his company. He ended up being really impressed by me, did an impromptu technical interview where he asked me how to do things on the command line in a test server, and told me to send him an email.

    Today I am having lunch with a hiring manager in a different department at his company. It seems like sort of an informal interview situation–I never officially applied to a job through their site and this guy I’m having lunch with tomorrow told me I should follow so officially but “that’s not necessary for us to get coffee.” Any advice on how to handle this situation? I’m going to treat it as much as possible like I’m interviewing for the specific job in his department I want, but it also seems quite a bit more informal than your average job interview situation. (I’m probably going to wear nice jeans and a blouse–slacks would be too dressy from what I know about this scene.)

    This is for a tech company on the West Coast for what it’s worth.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I would just roll with it. Even if the company itself doesn’t hire you, it sounds as if they like you and may be able to connect you with others who may be a good fit for you.

    2. Amy*

      I’d try to fill out their online application, just because that makes things easier on their hiring end. Definitely go with your gut on attire, tech firms tend to be more casual. Treat it as a formal interview, you don’t want to come off as a teacher’s pet type scenario where you assume you’ve got the job, even though it kinda sounds like you do? Sounds like this guy wants you hired and this might just be a formality with the hiring manager depending on how much sway the guy has, or if he’s lower in the chain of command it may have been just a referral.

      Good luck tomorrow!

      1. ChemMoose*

        I’d actually pass on doing this quite yet. I didn’t fill out the application until I had accepted an offer (after 3 interviews, etc.). Also, it usually keeps you from having to fill in ALL the information because at that point, they don’t want your history etc.

    3. Emma*

      My husband got a job by going to get lunch with some people from his now-company. It sounds like you’re handling it well– meet with him, with the realization that he’ll be evaluating you. You can fill out any necessary job applications later. I don’t think my husband had to. I think as they moved on in the process they asked him for his resume, maybe? But the hiring was mostly accomplished through informal conversation.

    4. Junior Dev*

      We had lunch, I thought it went well. It sounds like they are not immediately hiring for someone at my experience level but they might need to in a few months. He asked if I wanted to have an interview (!!!) even though it might not lead to an offer right away. So I’m going to apply through their site.

      It also sounds like there’s a different hiring manager there who wants to talk to me–it’s for a position that I have less experience in, but I have a sense of what they’re looking for and can do some research.

  15. Nina*

    Question: how far back does your resume go, and how many years have you been working?

    I’m thinking of taking some items off my resume – mostly short-term jobs I’d had before getting into my first proper ‘career’ job, but that would trim my work history from 10 years to 7. Is it better to have a longer work history or a shorter but more current-career-relevant history?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I have my resume divided into two sections: “Relevant Experience” where I list my “career” positions that showcase my increasing levels of responsibility and expertise in my particular area, and then “Other Experience” where I just list out the companies/titles/dates to explain any gaps in my work history.

      Keep in mind though that when most job postings list their work history requirements, they are typically referring to relevant work history. So even if you’ve been in the job force for 10 years, but you only have 5 years of relevant work, that’s likely to be what they care about.

      1. JulieBulie*

        This is exactly how I’ve done it.

        And honestly, 7 years is pretty good, and if the other three years are not relevant to your career, they don’t need to be seen at all. I keep my “Other Experience” section to show my versatility/range of industry experience, but I don’t know that it really adds much. If I didn’t have room for it on the page, I’d delete it without a thought.

      2. EmilyG*

        I have this too. “[Profession] Experience” and “Other Experience.” The last time I job searched was (eek) 15.5 years after graduating college, so the “Other Experience” just listed my self-explanatory job titles and no details to explain what I did between college and grad school (8 years, so I didn’t think I could just leave it out altogether). This works partly because there’s a pretty clear before/after grad school gap in my job history, so you wouldn’t have to page back and forth a lot to figure out what I was doing when.

        I just turned (more eek) 40, so next time I job search, I’d definitely ax that entire section and just have an “Experience” section starting with my first post-grad-school job.

    2. Elfie*

      Nina – I’m in the UK, so norms might be different, but FWIW, my CV goes all the way back to when I started work in 1999. However, my earlier jobs I only have one or two sentences about, whereas my more recent and relevant jobs I go into more detail. My non-professional stuff (that I did in high school and university) I leave off completely, it’s not relevant.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Also UK… I have 11 years in current field, so only list those usually under “recent work history”.

        Also most recent has most detail… The entry level ones have a couple of lines.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I go all the way back to my first full-time job (not directly after grad school but very shortly afterwards), because it helps to provide some context for employers, and I haven’t job-hopped all that much, so it’s not like my résumé is 3-4 pages for including everything.

      I don’t think there’s a blanket “You should do it this way” approach. In fact, if you have the mental energy for it, you may want to keep a master résumé that has all your experience, and then make a copy of it for each job you apply to and trim down items based on how it relates to the place you’re applying to.

    4. EddieSherbert*

      I think you can totally trim your resume down the way you’re thinking without worrying too much – it sounds like you just want to cut out the “oldest stuff” (which happens to be less relevant).

      If there aren’t gaps in employment, I don’t believe they’ll think anything of it.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        Related, I only have like 10 years of history to include and I haven’t moved around a tone – so I lay my resume out with “work experience” for related stuff and then “volunteer experience” because I volunteer in related fields.

        I.E. I’m in marketing, and I write the quarterly newsletter for a local non-profit and design their promo materials for events.

    5. Sara*

      Mine goes back ten years, but less detail on the older jobs. But I taught overseas for a year and I swear it gets me interviews (people love to ask about it), so I keep it on there and I have to keep the jobs that came after it :)

      1. Koko*

        Agree with this approach – I care most about recent history, but if there’s something from way back that is especially relevant to the position, it’s worth including so I know you’re “familiar with llama breeding but may be a bit rusty,” which is not as good as “Master Breeder” but will set you apart from “never seen a llama in person” candidates.

      2. Anonymousaurus Rex*

        I worked at the UN for a year in 2008-2009, and I’m not looking forward to it being time for that to drop off my resume. People always have questions about it!

    6. AdAgencyChick*

      Mine goes back the 14 years I’ve been in my current industry; I started working 3 years before that.

      Any jobs from more than 8 years back get VERY brief mentions, though.

    7. Koko*

      When I screen resumes there are primarily two things I’m looking for in work history:

      1) How long have you worked in this field and in what sort of roles?
      2) Do you have a stable work history, and if not, is it explained here or in cover letter?

      If you take off your out-of-field jobs but all your career jobs were back-to-back so you have 7 years of stable work history in our field, that’s pretty much all I need to know. I’m not really interested in work you did that many years ago that’s not related to the position we’re hiring for and I don’t really make any particular assumptions about what you were doing before the first job on your resume when it’s that far back – maybe you changed careers, maybe you were fresh out of college, maybe you took some time off – but regardless of the explanation you have the same 7-year track record in your current field, so it’s all the same to me.

      If taking out the non-career jobs leaves you with holes in your history, then I’d do what NARG suggests and put the other jobs in an “Other Experience” section that comes last and just has dates and titles.

  16. What Would You Do?*

    I posted a couple of weeks ago to get advice about leaving my current job at a bad time for a job that, while not a perfect fit, is a good next step for me. I want to thank you all for the advice and thought I’d give a quick update that I accepted the job offer and gave my notice this morning. It was very difficult, and I still feel guilty, as we are only 5 weeks out form our big event and someone else gave notice yesterday and her last day is the same as mine. So now they’re losing two employees (out of 7) right before our event. My boss took it as well as could be expected, but I still feel incredibly guilty. Hopefully it gradually passes and goes away once my two weeks are up. I couldn’t have done it without your advice and Alison’s advice from the archives! Now I just have to get through the next couple of weeks- I expect I’ll be pulling some overtime…

    1. Rainbow Hair Chick*

      Please don’t feel guilty. You have to do whats right for you. I wish you much success with your new position. Please keep us posted on how its going.

  17. Guy Incognito*

    I posted a few weeks ago about the company I work for no longer giving staff free Merkats

    Well we’ve just launched a Beauty and the Beast promotion and I came in to work this morning and found this on my desk:

    In other news I was in a different part of the building I haven’t been to before and saw these:

    They’re about 4ft / 120cm tall and really cool, (Its possible I’m planning a kidnapping as an office prank)

    1. oviraptor*

      My good friend and her kids and hubby are huge Disney fans! In college she worked at WDW and her second, part time fun jub is at a Disney Store. They have annual passes to WDW and have run in many, many Disney Runs at the Parks. Not sure if they are half or whole marathons (or something else). They have lots of medallions for completing the races. Oh! And for some they even dress up!

  18. Amadeo*

    I did this last Friday and decided to save it since it was so late in the day and work related. I decided I need to try something new and started paperwork for a little crafting business (supported by my FT job, oh boy). I have to admit, I am more anxious about it than excited, but I think worrying about stuff is in my genes. Anybody else do their own thing and have tips?

    1. oviraptor*

      No experience with running a crafting business, although in school I worked in a mom & pop craft store. What are you thinking of doing?

    2. Specialk9*

      My biggest recommendation is to keep your books religiously and online.

      Keep a Google doc (or such) with all your expenses, and all the purchases. I had a spreadsheet (transferred from a book I took to craft shows) of what I sold when, and taxes. (You can choose to go with a whole number and then pay taxes from there, but customers don’t usually blink at tax tacked on.)

      I filed taxes religiously, deducted part of my spare bedroom where I had a workbench set up (and had a picture of it in case of audit), and kept everything.

    3. Hope it's not too late for you to see this.*

      A friend of mine is a kind of expert in everything one needs to know about running a crafting business – she founded a kind of professional organizations for people in the crafting business call the Craft Industry Alliance. You might check it out. She thinks really hard about all the different aspects of the craft business from the individual crafter end of it.

  19. Katherine*

    At what point do you stop your job search?

    I started job-hunting back in August, and kept at it (intermittently) when I got interviewed and while reference checks were being made. Now I’ve just started my new job…should I stop? Or should I keep going until I’ve passed my probation?

    1. Generic Administrator*

      I think that it might be worth keeping an eye out in case things don’t work out during your probation for whatever reason.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I started a new job in July and generally stopped looking then – unless you’re not sure about staying in your new job, I think you can at least cut way back. I guess the question is, unless you’re unsure about the fit, what’s the benefit to continuing to look? With limited exception (truly bad fit, mostly) there’s not much benefit to job-hopping so quickly; it’s usually recommended that you stick it out at a new job for a year or two at least.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s not typical to continue looking once you’ve accepted a job, let alone once you’ve started one. Unless you have some reason to think you’re going to leave that job soon, I would stop. (If I found out a newly hired employee was still interviewing, I would be very concerned.)

      1. Shadow*

        Except when you think probation it sort of makes sense to keep your options open doesn’t it?……at least until you’re reasonably sure it’s going to work out for both of you. Because isn’t that the point of probation-a sort of trial basis

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          I’ve never job search when I’ve been on probation and I don’t know anybody else has either.

        2. JamieS*

          Yeah probation is a time for both employee and employer to evaluate if it’s a good fit but I don’t think that means continuing to job search unless the employee determines it’s not working out.

          That is the job search should be over unless there’s an actual reason to search such as deciding this isn’t the right job or realizing termination is imminent.

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Probationary periods, at least in the U.S., aren’t really a trial basis in that sense. They just mean that if the employer decides it’s not working out, they’re not binding themselves to using the whole progressive discipline policy they have in place for people who have been there longer.

    4. Lucky*

      I’ve kept my Indeed and Linked in job-search emails going since I started current job, just to see what’s out there. I don’t always read them – really depends on how BEC I am with my problem coworker on that particular day.

  20. ThatGirl*

    Here’s my annoyance/problem for the week.

    I started a new job in July and used LinkedIn fairly extensively along with other online tools, and posted publicly there when I started. Now people seem to be using my new job as an excuse to not just network (which I would be fine with) but weasel their way into doing business with my new company. I’ve gotten so many emails, straight to my personal work inbox, about marketing companies, social media related services, blah blah blah, plus staffing agencies who think I can now hire one of their candidates. And a lot of times they don’t stop at one; I’ve gotten several triple-replies that are just shy of an a-hole on Tinder who won’t take no for an answer. (“Are these not getting through? Why aren’t you replying?!”)

    I am not in marketing, I am not in a hiring position, I have no interest in passing random companies I have no connection to along to the “right person,” I am still pretty new here, I don’t know these people who are emailing me out of the blue, and it’s all just very irritating.

    How would YOU handle it?

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      I’d say ignore it and treat it like spam, basically. You have no obligation to spend your work time responding to unsolicited requests with someone you have no working relationship with.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Reply once: “Please remove me from your mailing list.”
      Then right-click their email address and select Block Sender/Junk Mail.

      You’re allowed to set communication boundaries so you can concentrate on actual work.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’ve been ignoring any first or second-round requests, for the record. I have responded twice to two third-round guys in a fit of oh my god can’t you take silence for an answer. (I didn’t say that, but I thought it.) But yes, thank you for validating my irritation. :)

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      Ugh, this is totally A Thing. “Did you receive my earlier email? When would be a good time to connect?” Never, you persistent clods!

      Ignore. Put filters on your inbox. Any sort of response will only feed the beast.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’m so glad it’s not just me. As I said above, I have responded twice in a fit of pique (politely, but firmly) and gotten no more responses, but from here on out, straight to the trash!

      2. ArtK*

        I get this frequently. E-mail from someone’s assistant, which I ignore. A second e-mail from the salesperson, which also gets ignored. Finally a call from the salesman which gets some version of “I didn’t reply the first two times — please learn to take a hint,” expressed in varying language depending on my mood.

        The “would Tuesday at 9:00AM be ok for a call?” thing *reallly* cheeses me off — I haven’t even said I’m interested and you want a call? Sorry buddy, no.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          Yeah, I feel like there’s some salesperson school that tells people to act like you’ve already gotten agreement to HAVE a phone call, it’s just a question of when.

          The problem is that if this tactic has even a 1% success rate, people will continue to do it. With email marketing, just getting 5% of recipients to open your email is often considered a high success rate.

          (ThatGirl and others, keep that in mind — despite how their emails are worded, they EXPECT that 90% or more of people they email are not going to respond. So you don’t need to feel the least bit guilty about being in the 90%!)

          1. KK*

            Actually I think they really do teach people that, unfortunately.

            I once worked somewhere where I had to cold call 400+ people and obtained 4 appointments = big success for my bosses.

            I hated it so much and myself for doing it…

    4. ArtK*

      I ignore all of the business solicitations. If someone tries to connect and they look like they’re offering a service that I don’t need, I just ignore them. For instance, I’ve had several connection attempts from people who manage offshore development services. I don’t use those services, for a lot of reasons, so I have no reason to connect in the first place. If someone I’m already connected to tries to sell me, I’ll give them a “thanks but no thanks.” These are the equivalent of cold calls and I don’t take those either. If I need a service, I’ll go looking for one.

  21. DaniCalifornia*

    Would you tell your boss why you are leaving your job if you’re extremely unhappy? Short story: our workplace went from a small happy family to a toxic place. There’s something going on with our owner (never here, won’t communicate, bad moods they take out on us, unfair layoffs.) I have a coworker, Morgan, from hell who won’t do work. Morgan was hired by my supervisor Taylor (Morgan’s parent) and neither Taylor nor the owner will address the issues that Morgan has. Whenever I find a new job I plan to give 2 weeks notice, even if its in the busy season. I used to think I’d be here until I finish school and switch careers. This used to be a tight knit group but the last year has been unbearable. It’s just that bad that I can’t stay here 1 minute longer than I have to. I know the owner will be surprised if I left, especially since my awesome coworker Alex is leaving in a month.

    So, would you just say the standard “Oh this job fell into my lap and I couldn’t pass it up!” (which isn’t true because I’m probably going for a lateral move in administration.) or “Honestly, this has been a bad work environment and I don’t want to be here anymore.” If I tell the owner the truth, I don’t even know how to phrase it professionally/nicely. He could double my salary and I wouldn’t stay here, that’s how bad it’s gotten.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d go for the former over the latter. If it’s that toxic, they aren’t going to be open to legitimate constructive criticism.

    2. Southernbelle*

      Your boss’s (the owner’s) behavior is already over the line. Either they know and don’t care, or they don’t know, and are they going to listen to you? They know Morgan has problems, and won’t fix it. I’d think hard about what you hope to gain by venting. You would certainly feel better, but you’re unlikely to effect change. If you want to burn the bridge behind you, go ahead! But if you ever need them again -for a reference, to verify employment, anything – you’ll be setting that on fire. Personally, I’d pass on the venting-to-ex-boss and vent elsewhere. (This sounds SUPER frustrating and I get it! I would also want to unload my feelings… but I don’t think it’s the best idea.)

      1. DaniCalifornia*

        This is good advice. I didn’t want to vent but I didn’t know if there was a one liner I could say. I just know that the owner would ask ‘Where are you going and why?’ I feel like if I give the first answer it’ll be easy to see how fake it is. I’m an admin, going to another same admin job isn’t really an opportunity I couldn’t pass up so I was unsure of that language to even use with. When I thought I was staying until I finished school, it would be easy to say “Well I graduated and am leaving because I’m switching careers.”

        I think either way I leave I will be burning bridges. The owner isn’t keen on people he doesn’t believe are loyal. And he doesn’t give references either way. I have coworkers and professionals I work with who will give me references though.

        1. Southernbelle*

          Well, I’d make my one-liner a polite evasion then. ;) “I’m looking for new opportunities in Chocolate Rice Sculpture.” “I was ready for a change.” Or, if you don’t even need them to verify employment (in which case!! Save your first and last pay stubs forever and be sure to explain in advance before your previous employers get called) “I found it so difficult to work with Morgan that I preferred to move on. I wish you all the best!”

    3. JulieBulie*

      If you had an HR department you could explain during the exit interview, but since that seems not to be the case, it’s best just to say something polite. Whatever is going on with the owner, it sounds as though the concerns of the worker bees are not a big priority, so there’s nothing to be gained by bringing it up.

    4. LKW*

      If you want to burn the bridge, go for it but know that’s what you’re doing.

      You could potentially say that the environment has changed and you don’t feel like it’s a good fit for you anymore. But I wouldn’t go farther than that. It is unlikely that anything you say will have a lasting impact on the office culture.

    5. ArtK*

      It’s always worthwhile asking yourself “what do I want to get out of this situation?” Would telling the boss off (even politely) make a difference in your life? In the life of anyone still working there? Probably not. I’d let it go and give some generic response.

    6. Astor*

      In case either of these help:
      * Given that there have been layoffs, I’d probably say something like “I’ve loved working here for x, y, and z reasons, but it felt like it was time for me to move on”.
      * If I felt like giving more information, maybe something like “in the last year, the atmosphere and communication has really changed, and it felt like it was time for me to move on.”

  22. Patricia*

    Do you list your entire employment history on LinkedIn?

    I know the advice here is generally that you don’t need to put every single job you’ve ever had (better not to in fact) on a resume, but since online profiles don’t have a ‘page limit’ as such, is it still worth trimming down, or is it not really worth the bother?

    1. Snark*

      Not worth the bother. I list the positions relevant to my current career track which I’ve held since grad school. Beyond that, they’re mostly irrelevant.

    2. JulieBulie*

      I’ve listed every “professional” job I’ve ever had. Not the root beer stand, cafeteria, Woolworth’s, etc. jobs.

    3. Beatrice*

      There’s no ‘page limit’, but a person reading it does have an attention limit, so it makes sense to pare it down to what is actually relevant to your career path. I still list all the jobs related to my current field, but the early-career ones that are a far cry from what I’m doing now just have a brief line or two on accomplishments. I removed a job I had right after college that is completely unrelated to everything else. You can’t necessarily tailor it to specific jobs the way you can a resume, though, so you’ll probably have more bullet points under your most relevant jobs.

    4. Specialk9*

      I do. I’ve had several mini-careers and cool international experiences along the way, and sometimes that’s the thing that gets a hiring manager interested. It’s all in there.

    5. Phoenix Programmer*

      My only caption on the not putting most everything is that there are definitely rigid employers out there who calculate salary as a function of years.

  23. Murphy*

    tl;dr My boss doesn’t like to tell people no, even when the answer should be no.

    I’m non-faculty staff at a university, but the “people” in question here are faculty. Without going into specifics, my job is very deadline based. When people want something from our office, or want to participate in something, I need it a) by the deadline and b) to be complete. We had a submission due yesterday and several people sent additional attachments after the deadline that my boss forwarded me to add. So I had to convert files to PDF, combine PDFs, and reupload their submission. I don’t think this should be my job, and I think if someone doesn’t have all of their materials before the deadline, then we shouldn’t enable them. We rejected one submission because it blatantly ignored one of the requirements, and now the professor is complaining because he put a lot of work into his submission, and he didn’t read the requirements, and he deserves to be able to edit and resubmit it. No, he really doesn’t. If he can’t read the requirements (which were quite clear), then I don’t think he should get to resubmit it, but my boss is letting him. It’s my boss’s call, and I will do what he says, but can I push him to tell people no sometimes? And yes, deadlines are a hill I am willing to die on, given the nature of my job.

    He once told me that I was “treating faculty like children” when someone was late with a thing that I was expecting and I send them an email along the lines of”Hey, your X is late, please send it to by noon, or we will have to move on without you.” But he’s doing the same exact thing by allowing all of these exceptions to the deadline.

    1. fposte*

      The thing is, at most universities, the job of the staff is to support, directly or indirectly, the work of the faculty. Therefore what you’re describing being asked to do seems within the realm of acceptable to me. Where it becomes unacceptable is if it loses something on the other end, like if it means you miss a final deadline for getting copy to the printer for a publication and then fall way behind your target release date. But if it’s just that there’s a lot of handholding and the deadlines aren’t always honored, that to me is pretty much par for the academic course.

      That doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with how your boss is handling things. “Treating faculty like children” seems a weird summary and isn’t usefully actionable feedback; if he meant “We don’t move on without faculty and shouldn’t suggest we do” he should have said that. But the overall deadlines/coddling thing seems within parameters to me.

      1. Murphy*

        Thanks. I wasn’t clear in the example where I quoted my boss. He was saying in that case that I should have just moved on without them. (The real problem in that kind of situation is that people drop out without telling me, which is definitely unavoidable.) Whereas now, I think he’s babying them.

        I agree that we’re here to support the faculty, and I should probably be a little less rigid than I am. I’m working on it! But I do feel like if they’re trying to get something from us (e.g. money) then it’s their responsibility to get us the needed materials completely and on time. The deadline becomes meaningless if we let people just ignore it.

        1. fposte*

          The deadline isn’t meaningless; it just doesn’t meet the technical definition of “deadline.” It’s not unreasonable of you to try to make it mean that, but it will end in tears and despair for you, so I’d encourage you not to. Deadlines in academia are the sign that the border collie will leap into action, not that the gate will be closed. The deadline means that some sheep will move smartly through the gate of their own accord, so it absolutely had a purpose there; it will never mean that there are no stragglers who need firm herding.

    2. Simone R*

      In my experience, academia as a whole is pretty lax with deadlines. There are some grant deadlines that really matter, but other than that there are plenty that no one really cares about. I’m sorry to say you may be fighting a losing battle trying to enforce these deadlines if similar ones aren’t strict in other areas.

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      Sounds a bit like advertising. You tell the clients “we need your comments by X” and they routinely blow past those dates. But…they’re the clients, and they pay our salaries, so whenever possible we have to try to accommodate them. Just like, as fposte says above, your job as non-faculty is to support the faculty, so sometimes you have to take crap from them. Their primary job function is not to meet your deadlines; it’s to teach and do research (just like my clients have many more aspects to their jobs than just giving us feedback on the projects we work on). You are not likely to have a ton of success trying to train them to do things your way.

      What you can do to help yourself is to go to your boss and lay out the issues you’re having and figure out how to resolve them in the way that involves the least tearing out of your hair. (And it sounds like based on your response below that he already does have a preferred solution for at least one of your issues, which is to move on without someone who misses a deadline, rather than reminding them.) “Boss, I’ve been getting a lot of submissions lately that don’t conform to our guidelines. What should I do when that happens?” There are probably lots of other answers besides “reject their submission,” but you won’t know until you brainstorm with your boss about it (or just hear what your boss prefers that you do). Of course, if the answer requires that you put in overtime cleaning up the mess, you can push back on that (“I won’t be able to do that unless I can take something else off my plate” is a good place to start).

      1. Moll Cutpurse*

        In terms of this (as someone who is also support staff in a University where we deal with faculty submission of materials on deadlines) we have had a multi-year challenge of enforcing deadlines more and more. It is an INCREDIBLY slow process and there will constantly be faculty who “haven’t applied in a few years and weren’t aware of these deadlines” or tell us to our face that we are nothing more than a bureaucratic hurdle to real reasearch and scholarship… etc.
        The one thing that has helped is a slow escalation of enforcing deadlines (think annually “ratcheting up” the language we use when it comes to approving late submissions) as well as ensuring we have the support of the authorities between us and the researchers – i.e. the deans and department heads. To submit late to us requires approval from the higherups which means their faculties can track repeat offenders and there seems to be an increased level of accountability when the tsk-tsk-ing comes from the people that faculty interact with more frequently?

    4. Ghost Town*

      If there’s something on the other side of the deadline (like you need all these document for a report for the dean or a big grant app/report that your department is doing), I think you have space to push back for hard (or at least harder) deadlines (like an informal final, absolute deadline). I’ve found that faculty, in particular don’t think about the time and process behind what you are doing to complete, finalize, and review the documents, that it does take time to resize, reformat, etc and that while it may be a quick effort for this one document, it is never just one document and they add up.

      Sometimes, this lack of concept for the reality of time and work behind document finalization extends to the supervisors who just assume that since it isn’t a problem for them that it isn’t a time-sucking hole of despair for you. Some respond well when the process of what happens when someone submits incorrect and/or late documentation.

      Like a lot of things, until it negatively impact the tardy faculty members or your supervisor, there’s no impetus for either of them to change.

    5. Hermione*

      Similar to what fposte and Simone R are saying, academia on the whole tends to be really lax on deadlines except with regards to grants, accreditation, and a few registrar matters (catalog publishing dates, for example), and when it comes to internal matters (getting things to the admin, especially), many faculty don’t even bother to read instructions.

      I agree that it can be majorly frustrating, but I think you need to read between the lines a bit with what your boss is telling you. If he says to accept documents even if it means extra work for you, it means that reformatting PDFs is a part of your job. He’s making value judgments on the time/effort that you would spend fixing things vs the cost of pushing back against faculty. I think you need to reframe your thinking a bit here – verbally or not, he’s saying that exceptions and this sort of occasional formatting ARE a part of your job.

      That said, when I supported an academic department, I gave a fake deadline for nearly all internal matters, especially those for which I needed to combine for a deliverable to central admin. I acted in all ways (instructions, reminder e-mails, etc.) as though the fake deadline was real, and then when faculty asked for extensions, I let them have until the real deadline (while making it seem like it wasn’t ideal). I also made submission instructions as easy as possible – they were most used to Word docs, so forward me those via e-mail, and then I would export to PDF and combine everything at once myself. I don’t know if there was a better way to do it, but because of the fake deadlines, my frustrations went down quite a bit and my deliverables were almost always on-time.

      Good luck!

    6. Dr. Doll*

      Depending upon what your office is and the services it provides, it is *very* reasonable to ask faculty to meet the deadlines and standards for completeness that are in your policies and calendars. For example, if they want to apply for a grant and all materials must be in your office 5 business days before the grant is due, there’s a reason for that — so you CAN have a buffer time for getting signatures, materials, etc. I wish our research office would enforce their 5-day deadline, it would make our grants so much more successful than our current practice of allowing people to finish a nanosecond before the submit button needs to be clicked.

      Your job is to support the faculty the best you possibly can, and if the office’s policies and deadlines are reasonable and productive, then I think your boss needs to support YOU. Sounds like you are doing a good job of reminding, cajoling, and helping.

      I do love fposte’s analogy of the border collie. Argh, so true.

    7. AnonAcademic*

      I work in academic research and this tension plays out in every department I’ve worked in. The thing is that most faculty have little to no training or aptitude in the administrative aspects of the job (grant preparation etc.) and to add to that, every conference, funding agency, or journal we submit to has a slightly different system! Keeping track of all the rules can be maddening if not impossible while also teaching and doing research. I really rely on our grants administrator to let me know the most crucial deadlines and clarify expectations, but sometimes there are miscommunications and last minute scrambling ensues. I would say that maybe 1/3 or 1/4 of my grants involve a last minute panic because so and so filled out the old version of a form and is now on sabbatical on the moon (or whatever). I’m sorry it happens so often but for me and many others, we are barely keeping our heads above water with the demands of the job and the first thing that goes for me is attention to fine detail. It’s very frustrating and definitely something I didn’t understand when I was research staff chasing people down for signatures and not getting why they were all so scattershot.

  24. Jubilance*

    So I interviewed last week for an internal role. Interview went great (and thanks to AAM community for helping me figure out what to wear).

    Got the call a little bit ago – I did NOT get the job. They gave it to an internal contractor. When I interviewed, they made it seem like the contractors (there were 3 PT contractors) weren’t interested in becoming FT employees. Now I feel like they just interviewed me to fulfill the diversity requirement :-(

    I initially interviewed because my relationship with my manager was terrible, but it’s gotten a bit better. I don’t want to be in this role though, so it’s back to looking for a new role.

    1. Snark*

      I think that take both oversells and undersells your candidacy and it’s not going to be a productive conviction to nurture.

        1. Snark*

          Your feelings aren’t immutably graven into your psyche. You can feel this way, which is making you feel resentful and put-upon and angry. Or you can feel disappointed that it didn’t work out, but remind yourself that you’re not privy to the decision-making process. You will in all likelihood never know whether you were interviewed to satisfy a diversity requirement or whether you were just a candidate they thought was strong enough to interview but ultimately went with someone else. I personally find that that line of thinking is more productive.

          I’m not telling you how to feel about this, but one way to feel about this is a lot more constructive and optimistic than the other.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Snark, I don’t know your skin color or much of anything about you, but understand that it can be very hard for women, POC and other minorities to gauge whether they’re being discriminated against; it’s not that anyone wants to see racism or sexism or homophobia everywhere, but they ARE pervasive forces. We have no way of knowing why the decision was made, but lecturing someone else on their feelings and dismissing the possibility that she’s right is frustrating.

            1. Snark*

              I’m not dismissing the possibility that she’s right; as someone also occasionally subject to discrimination, I wouldn’t dare. But what does dwelling on that possibility get her? What headspace does it put her in? How does it affect how she feels in her current position? What keeps you moving forward with your head held high?

          2. fposte*

            I get that you mean well, Snark, but that response isn’t well tuned to the post here. (And if you’ve never read Deborah Tannen’s You Just Don’t Understand, have a look–you’ll find it really interesting.)

            1. Snark*

              I don’t mean to be aggressive, but I’m finding the responses here frustrating and baffling. What response, in a context that’s explicitly all about constructive, actionable advice, would be well tuned?

              1. fposte*

                I like constructive and actionable advice, but I don’t think that that’s entirely what we’re devoted to here; there’s room for non-actionable support as well. And that means being alert to what kinds of things people do and don’t find supportive, even if they’re different from what would be useful to you in the same situation. Since you’ve asked, I presume you don’t mind some specific parsing: “it’s not going to be a productive conviction to nurture” is a negative statement about a possibility that wasn’t even presented–a fleeting feeling is very different from nurturing a conviction, and “nurturing” suggests external application rather than a justifiable belief. And since Jubilance has been posting here for years and is a reliably thoughtful and productive person in her life and career, it seemed an animadversion that was particularly ill-matched to the person.

                I don’t want to take this too far down the rabbit hole, but I do find writing and its impact a fascinating subject so it’s hard for me to resist. But writing for clarity and writing for the impact you want aren’t necessarily the same task, and the audience matters even more for the second than for the first.

          3. Yorick*

            I agree, Snark. Unless there was something they did that made it seem like a token diversity interview, we shouldn’t assume that it was. We always think we will get the job and then get crushed, but we have to remind ourselves that they always interview multiple candidates and we don’t know about them or about the hiring manager’s ultimate needs.

            We can feel the way you feel, or we can control our feelings to some degree through healthy thought processes.

            1. Emma*

              But it’s also fair to realize that discrimination/tokenism may be at play. It’s not fair to manage Jubilance’s feelings on this. She’s obviously not giving up– in her comment, she literally said that she’s looking for a new role.

              It’s fine for her to acknowledge reality, and that it sucks. And I’m sure it’s frustrating to have random internet commenters explain how it’s probably not discrimination, when they weren’t in the interview.

                1. Emma*

                  Yorick said: “Unless there was something they did that made it seem like a token diversity interview, we shouldn’t assume that it was. “

      1. LKW*

        That blows. I’m sorry. You could be right in your assessment of the situation. You have a better idea of how your company works with regard to talking the diversity talk versus walking the diversity walk. If that’s the case, they should have been up front with everyone. It is possible that something changed between when they talked to you and when they made their decision. Still, it sucks.

    2. fposte*

      Sorry, Jubilance; that sucks, especially with the contractor thing. Will you be able to be satisfied in your current job or does this mean it might be time to start looking more widely?

      1. Jubilance*

        I’m going to continue to look for an internal role. I do not want to stay in my current role, because I don’t want to completely leave my company. I have some contacts in other areas of the company that I’m interested in.

    3. NaoNao*

      Well, try not to tell a negative story unless you know it’s true.
      The PT people could have changed their mind based on some specifics of the job (such as salary or benefits, etc), or they could have misunderstood the PT people’s preferences.
      Or tbh you could have misread the comments about the PT people.
      I *totally* get the let-down, a job I felt in my *bones* was going to happen didn’t, and I was left hurt and confused.
      Best of luck with search.

        1. Anonacrip*

          I thought how you word it was fine Snark, as a minority myself I tire of hearing others blame their own differences for things like not getting a job when it is perfectly feasible that they just weren’t suited for the position or someone else was a better candidate.

    4. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      Another reason you might have missed out not suggested below–they could have gotten the contractors for less money.

      That sucks you didn’t get it. Put it behind you and move on to better and greater–are you looking at maybe interviewing outside now?

    5. HR Recruiter*

      Are you able to ask for feedback of why the other person was chosen? Perhaps to get a better feel of why they interviewed you? I know how frustrating it can be to feel like you wasted your time interviewing. In college a higher up came to me with this big speech about how he wanted me to apply for a supervisor position and he’d make sure I got an interview….After my interview and hours of prepping he told me he just needed one more person to meet their quote of interviewing at least 3 people before HR would let them make a decision…But I ended up using it in my favor. I knew what questions they asked. The next time I was interviewed as “one of the ppl to meet their quota” I totally blew them away and got the job over the person they were planning on giving it to.

    6. Specialk9*

      That’s disappointing, I’m sorry to hear it.

      Agreed admit keeping looking. A frustrating relationship can ebb and flow, but it’s full frustrating. It’s worth looking for a manager who you click with and thinks you’re hot potatoes.

      (Not sure why hot potatoes just became my metaphor for assume. Let’s assume there’s butter.)

        1. Specialk9*

          Swype fail!

          That’s disappointing, I’m sorry to hear it.

          Agreed about keeping looking. A frustrating relationship can ebb and flow, but it’s still frustrating. It’s worth looking for a manager who you click with and thinks you’re hot potatoes.

          (Not sure why hot potatoes just became my metaphor for awesome. Let’s assume there’s butter on the potatoes.)

  25. Nisie*

    Question- when you undergo committee interviews and no thank you cards are exchanged, is it okay to only send thank you notes to a few people? I know who in the room of 6 were with the department I interviewed for, but there are three people I just remember first names.

    1. Elfie*

      I’m amazed that people actually send thank you cards! I have never done so, and I’ve managed to get 7 jobs in my career so far! Of course, maybe this is location or industry-specific (IT in the UK) and maybe I’ve lost out on other jobs because I haven’t done this – but I literally don’t know anyone who does, or who has ever mentioned it.

        1. Elfie*

          Phew! I was beginning to think I was really rude, and somehow didn’t know something that ‘everybody knows’! Glad to know it’s not just me!

          1. Isobel*

            No, I’d never heard of the thank you note thing till I started reading AAM. It’s not the norm in the UK.

        2. Ruth (UK)*

          Omg this finally explains my confusion! I’ve generally thought aam gives good advice across the board since I started following it around 2014 but I have always been confused by the thank you note idea as no one else I know has ever even heard of doing it! I’ve never sent one (or known anyone who has) but always wondered if I should be…

        1. Call Me Crazy*

          I always sent them, and usually get the job, tho must admit they are not high-end positions. Most of the people I interviewed with thanked me and say it’s the first one they’ve ever received.

      1. fposte*

        Either we’re talking about something I haven’t heard of in the U.S. either or things are getting a little mixed up. In my experience, thank you *cards* aren’t a thing in the U.S. either, and I thought Nisie meant “no business cards are exchanged” and just typed “thank you” instead of “business.”

        Thank-you followups do seem to be a U.S. thing, but we haven’t gotten to the point of Hallmarking them up.

          1. fposte*

            No problem! I just assumed business cards but then the thank-you card notion took on a life of its own :-).

        1. Specialk9*

          I sent thank you cards for every interview I’ve been on.
          (US) Email right away, then follow up with mailing an actual brief note. Most candidates don’t do it, so it stands out in a good way.

          For one job, I had to jump right back on a plane and didn’t want anything getting lost or forgotten, so ducked into the bathroom, wrote out some cards quickly, and dropped them off at reception. Every person mentioned it, impressed, when I started, so I think it helped me get the job.

          1. Specialk9*

            I wrote the cards on the vanity part of the sink, not in the toilet stalls. Just clarifying.

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        Us thing… I’d never heard of it before reading aam and a lot of managers I know would have reacted with “OK… that one was a bit weird… they just sent me a thank you note!?!?”

        Whereas it’s rude in Us not to from what I gather.

  26. Anon for this*

    Niche questions for electrical engineers in utilities/facilities!

    How can an electrical engineer working on a less technical side of the high voltage utility industry prepare to transition to facilities electrical engineering (lighting, fire protection, control systems, UPS, etc.)? What technical skills and knowledge are important? What are some go-to resources I can use to educate myself in these areas? Lastly, which PE license discipline is most relevant to this? I’m eligible to take the Power exam, but not sure if it would help.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      On the facilities side, if you are looking at major employers like hospitals, universities, or other companies that have campus level footprints, they would be happy to hire you right now and train you for the transition. They want people with experience and the can invest in classes and get you the certifications to work in their environments.

      1. LCL*

        Totally right! Electric utility work is considered the golden ticket. The assumption is if you get high voltage that you understand all the rest. Look around in your city at who the big contractors are and start talking to them. While the big campuses will use in house staff for hands on maintenance, they generally contract out all of the design work. Take one of the electrical crafts people to lunch and ask them which contractors they know about and who is good.

      2. Anon for this*

        Wow, really? This is good news. Even if I have next to zero AutoCad experience and no knowledge of NEC? Not to sound dubious, just self-conscious over not having these skills despite my field. :)

  27. Mazzy*

    This sounds like a first world problem, but I am frustrated from being under-titled and not knowing what my level at my job is supposed to be because of that. It actually creates real issues, because I make my own projects (not as exciting as it sounds as they are based on ad hoc business needs), and I don’t know what level I am supposed to be making decisions at on them. Then I get a project or one arises that should be handled by a Director and I do it successfully, and no one says anything, but then they get their feathers ruffled when I don’t do other things that are at a higher level because I honestly don’t think they are part of role. Then other folks with higher-level job titles step into my area and make high level decisions, and then when I point out that they should have based the decision on more information, the response is, “you should be managing that.” Ok, so if a VP steps into my area to make a VP decision, how am I supposed to know I am above him, but only in this situation?

    1. Jillociraptor*

      Do you have a job description? I wonder if it would be helpful to revisit it with your manager to clarify expectations.

      In my organization, you can also request a classification review from HR at any time, which basically means asking that they confirm that your title band is appropriate to the work you are doing. I’m not sure what your organizational structure is, but if you have multiple VPs I suspect your organization is complex enough that it likely has some kind of job classification scheme. It might be helpful to look at the titles above and below yours in the scheme to see if that helps hone in on what level of authority you’re expected to have.

    2. Anion*

      Can I just say–and this isn’t intended as any kind of slight against you, Mazzy–I HATE this “first world problems” thing? Just because you live in a first-world country doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to have dreams, goals, or hopes, and it doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to feel disappointment, irritation, or sadness when things don’t go as you’d wished them to go. It doesn’t mean your problems don’t matter or that you’re not allowed to be confused or upset about them because you have a roof over your head. This expectation that we all remind ourselves twenty-four hours a day that it could be worse, or that we should cover ourselves in sackcloth and ashes for daring to complain about an actual issue we’re actually dealing with, is annoying, and calling something a “first world problem” is so dismissive and belittling. Like you and your feelings don’t matter because you can afford coffee and take-out. You DO matter, your problems DO matter, your feelings DO matter, and you are entitled to mention them and ask about them without someone insulting you and implying that you’re shallow for thinking about a problem that affects your everyday life instead of spending all of your time worrying about Big Problems that no one person will ever solve.

      This sounds to me like something you should ask your manager about. Like, “I’ve been hesitant to make these kinds of exec-level decisions (or handling these exec-level tasks, whichever/whatever the correct thing is) because I don’t want to overstep, but it seems there’s an expectation that I should do so. Can you clarify that for me?”

      And when it comes to higher-ups making decisions that turn out to be incorrect, I suspect what they’re looking for is you to either A) present more info when asking for the decision; or B) tell them immediately what the problem with that decision is. I mean, obviously I don’t know for sure since I don’t know your job, and I’m sure others will have more useful input on that, but that’s my guess. (It’s also possible that what they want is for you to make the problem go away, so their decision “works.”) Again, this sounds to me like the kind of thing that someone above you should be clarifying for you, though.

      I hope that’s at least somewhat helpful!

      1. Camellia*

        “first world problems”
        +100000000 This grates on my nerves too! Thanks for expressing this.

  28. Justin*

    I work in a gov’t adjacent job where, essentially, my team is tasked with professional development for gov’t employees (though we are technically employees of a public university).

    When we finish designing a new course, we have to present it to the directors of said gov’t agency for their feedback. Yesterday was the first time that a course I designed was presented to directors, and they had plenty of constructive criticism, but they really liked it.

    My wife and dad are very, uh, “only celebrate if it’s truly a momentous occasion/act like you’ve been there before.” But I wanted to share it here because, with my various impostor syndrome issues that they can’t really relate to (which not everyone can), it was an affirming moment.

    1. Susan K*

      Congratulations and good job! This might be a bigger deal than it looks, because it means that you’ve figured out something new and it will pave the way towards more success. It’s definitely worth celebrating!

    2. Been there*

      Sorry.. but screw that. Celebrate all the victories! Now that doesn’t mean sparklers and champagne for everything, but a well placed ‘woohoo look at me and what I did’ is a good thing.

    3. Specialk9*

      I’d have a long conversation about what my wife needs to do to make me feel supported. That’s not cool. “Honey, get back to me when you do something impressive” would not fly with me! Your dad, whatever, my parents are gifted at saying the exact opposite of what I want to hear, but your partner should cheer on your wins.

    4. LKW*

      Pat yourself on the back. Get yourself a little reward. Maybe one day such a success will feel like “BTDT” but for now… good job!

    5. Cassandra*

      As someone who’s done a lot of course design, I say CELEBRATE!

      I sure do. The main curriculum committee where I am is notorious for requiring several rounds of syllabus revisions. Someday I will get one through them on the first try, but that day is not this…

    6. kittymommy*

      Late to the game, but YAY!!!!!!!!!
      seriously, good for you and you should definitely celebrate and be proud.

    7. ..Kat..*

      Congratulations. I believe in celebrating all sizes of accomplishments. Sometimes, I just celebrate because it is a day of the week ending in ‘y’!

  29. Jimbo*

    Job-hunting as a parent of a small child. I am am seeking advice and tips on how to ask about policies such as flexible start/end times, expected amount of work hours per day/week, telecommuting during the interview process.

    My situation: my child goes to after care after school. After care closes at 6 PM. For most jobs I am applying for, the one-way commute is 30-45 minutes to the after care center. Therefore, I cannot accept a job that will require me to routinely stay at the office beyond 5:00-5:30 PM. Also, there are multiple days in the school calendar where the school is closed or there is early dismissal. Not to mention the usual times when children get sick and need to be picked up at short notice. I need a job to be accommodating of these things in time flexibility, telecommuting and a culture where a crazy amount of work hours is not expected.

    Should I just be upfront? Or is it wiser to be subtle, and to try and find out about these things indirectly by asking questions that allude to work culture without getting specific? Some companies explicitly say these information on their websites. Most companies do not.

    I am getting interviews and am waiting at least until the second interview before I ask about these things. My natural communication style is to be direct and upfront, especially about things which are deal-breakers for me.

    But I am getting confused and thrown off my game by advice I’ve read and heard which say it is taboo to talk directly about and ask questions on work-life balance in the job interview process and which advise people to wait until an offer is secured before asking. That seems to me too late. I don’t even know if I truly want the job unless I know they can accommodate my family schedule.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ack, this is a question you sent to me two days ago and which I’d started writing an answer to. I’ll delete it from my queue, but please don’t do that here (per the note at the top of the page).

      1. Jimbo*

        Yikes! Sorry! I thought that this had been passed over and OK to post on the open forum. My apologies for jumping the gun! I was anxious because I have a couple of upcoming interviews next week.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Just to be clear, it was from two days ago. It’s fine to repost something here if it’s been a couple of weeks, like it says up top. Two days, no; I will almost never answer anything that quickly. (I don’t mean to belabor this, but it means I end up doing work I then can’t use.) Anyway, hopefully people will respond here.

          1. Admin Coaching*

            I think you could still use this work — I have to assume that the vast majority of your readers don’t dig into the open threads, and this is content that could be relevant and useful to a wider audience!

            (You obviously don’t need my advice on running your blog. I just hate to see you lose this work, and I don’t think it’s necessary.)

            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              Uh, that was me. I tend to use the “name” field as a subject line in the open threads, but it does cause me to do things like this. Whoops.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              In theory I could, but I like to use questions that haven’t already had an audience here, since I get so many more questions than I have time to answer. Due to volume, only about 10% of the questions I receive these days get answered, so I try to avoid “double-dipping.” (That said, if I’m being honest, some of it is the principle of clearly stated instructions being ignored. Which is not a very compelling reason, I realize.)

              1. Muriel Heslop*

                As a teacher, I think the reason of “ignored my instructions” is incredibly compelling. It compels more of my life than I would like.

                1. Jimbo*

                  My apologies. It was not a case of ignoring her instructions on purpose. It was a case of not hearing back after a couple of days, assuming my questions have been passed over, and high anxiety levels because I had multiple job interviews the last week and have scheduled a couple more next week. It was truly being absent minded and mentally high strung on my part. Again, my apologies to AAM.

          2. Nisie*

            I’d love to see the answer. Once I had kids, I found it was harder to be a parent than it was to work two jobs.

        2. Snark*

          From the top of this page:

          “* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue.”

        3. PLT*

          Jimbo, I definitely empathize with you. Anxiety tends to warp reality and create a sense of urgency. You explained your reasons adequately and apologized. I know that when I have had many things go wrong in a span of a few weeks, I don’t really expect anything to work out; if I were in your shoes during such a time, I would not expect an advice columnist to pick my question out of the hundreds they probably receive in a day and I would start seeking answers elsewhere. This is all to say – please don’t beat yourself up about this misstep (in case you are) because you don’t deserve to be continually reprimanded like a child, even by yourself. I am glad the folks here have provided some useful responses. Good luck with navigating this issue in interviews!

          1. Mouse*

            Agreed, PLT. I was a little surprised by the response here, to be honest. Especially since as far as I’m aware, there’s no set amount of time that Alison has given for a waiting period before posting in the open thread. When the issue is relevant to your immediate future and can’t wait until the next open thread, I totally understand getting anxious and posting it here. We’re usually kinder to people dealing with anxiety-inducing situations here. Good luck, Jimbo!

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Just to be clear, at the top of the page, in the intro to the post, I ask people not to post questions here that they’ve submitted recently. I’m not trying to belabor this, I promise! Just wanted to clarify that. I totally understand anxiety leading people to jump the gun though. I may have overreacted to the “I didn’t think you were going to answer it” thing, since I’ve had a bunch of people lately nudge me on their questions like two or three days after submitting them and so I’m prone to being irritated by strange timeline expectations right now.

    2. anna green*

      Ugh, I’m in the same boat and this part of it sucks. I think it will depend on how big of a dealbreaker it is and how unique of a request it is. In my current job I work from home some times because its 1+ hour commute, so that was discussed in my initial interview, because it was an absolute dealbreaker. I actually just got a job offer! And I have the same thing, where I need to leave by 5pm to pick up my kids, and I didn’t say anything until they offered me the job, because I feel like asking to leave at 5pm is not so crazy. One interview a while back I asked about work/life balance (kids being sick) specifically in the first interview, and I could tell they were put off by it, which is dumb, but there you go. For what you are asking about, I would wait. Those are pretty normal things that most parents deal with. Unless your field is one where that stuff is typically not dealt with.

      1. Jimbo*

        I am curious what the response was when you asked them after the offer. Were they put off? Were they understanding? Also, when you asked, were you direct and explicit or were you more subtle and indirect? Thanks

    3. Helpful*

      I think you can ask some slant questions in the interview about culture to get a feel for it. Since you feel very strongly about it, you may be okay with bombing the interview by being direct!

      As a side note, you may need to get a babysitter to pick up the kid and bring him/her home in the evenings, and some babysitters to cover holidays, etc., especially while building up equity at your new job.

      1. Jimbo*

        One tactic I am thinking about using is to not raise the issues at all in the face to face interviews. Wait until I have had a second interview. If I come out of the second interview feeling good, to email the HR afterwards and ask directly about policies on telecommuting, flex hours, and any literature the company may have on employee benefits. The question on expected daily/weekly work hours I can ask in a third interview (if I get that far) to the hiring manager face to face or via email if an offer were extended by that point. Any folks think this can work?

        1. Meg*

          This could work, but keep in mind that at many places (especially large companies), the answer could vary widely from department to department. Working from home is commonly accepted in my department, for example, but HR certainly doesn’t know the specifics of that. So the details might be very different than what HR gives you.

          I personally am not put off by it at all — I did a first-round interview this week in which the woman asked at the end about our philosophy and policies on work-life balance, and I was happy to answer on behalf of our department. But I’m not all hiring managers. ;) And especially if this is a dealbreaker for you, I would just recommend bringing it up.

          One thing I would recommend: in almost all scenarios in which you could be awarded telecommuting, flexible start/end times, etc., your manager would want to see a pattern of demonstrated performance first. So I would make sure that your question about life/balance conveys an understanding of that, and that you’re not demanding 100% flexibility on the first day.

          1. Jimbo*

            Thank you! I like how the person you interviewed asked in terms of the company’s philosophy and policies on work-life balance. I think I will use that. Perhaps ask it to the HR and also to ask it to the hiring manager/department head of the department I am applying to. Perhaps this can naturally segue into expectations of work hours, telecommuting, flex time in the conversation.

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      Anything you can do to find a current employee who has no interest in the hiring process and ask THEM about it is good. I realize it’s not always easy to do this (my industry is small and everyone knows each other, whereas I know lots of people in other industries regularly find jobs through blind ads) but it’s invaluable if you can make it happen.

    5. Inspector Spacetime*

      If it’s a deal breaker then you shouldn’t wait until after they’ve extended their offer. You should be up front with it. I think the second interview is a good time for it.

    6. Friday*

      This is a common but tough thing to navigate. First, what’s the standard in your industry? Is it regular 40-hr weeks or is it lots of OT? Or OT only in certain times of the year? Second, are you in this solo or do you have a partner who shares the responsibilities? My story: when my husband took a 1+ hour commute job each way early last year, I was able to take over all dropoffs and pickups because my workplace was flexible and understood. I was already a high performer who had no trouble completing work in the regular 40 hours. And I had a laptop so I could work from home those few times it was critical (and when my kid was sick or school was closed for whatever reason). When I took a new job also 1+ hour away later last year, husband did pickups and I did dropoffs, as it’s usually easier in a new job to get a set start time but not as much a set end time (at least in the beginning when you’re trying to figure out the working culture). Husband also coordinated most of our move to this area, transferring daughter to her new school close by, etc. Because he had more flexibility at his established job by that point.

      As for how to get a feel for this in the interview, ask about the workplace culture and hours (probably in the 2nd+ interview though, not necessarily the first). Especially if you’re a single parent and have no back-up to manage pick-ups. Good luck!

      1. Jimbo*

        Thanks! I work in nonprofits in the DC Metro area so the standard is usually a 40 hour workweek. There are many exceptions to that, however, and I’ve known nonprofits whose cultures are more demanding as far as weekly and daily work hours. In addition to nonprofits I am also targeting (and getting interviews) with contractors who serve the Federal government. These are completely unfamiliar territory for me and I don’t know much about work cultures in for profit Federal contractors other than what I read in Glassdoor.

        I am married and my wife and I tag team on childcare duties and picking up/dropping off. My worry is if I am not explicit about my requirements, that I run the risk of being in a position of accepting or rejecting a job that I don’t know much about aspects that can affect my family life in a major way.

        I agree on waiting until the 2nd interview at least to raise these issues. But getting stuck on how to communicate these needs — be direct and upfront or be subtle and indirect?

        1. Helpful*

          I think you can be direct but not rude or presumptuous. “Can you tell me about what a typical week looks like, in regards to hours?” Or more direct: “How family-friendly would you say your office is?”

          1. Muriel Heslop*

            I think these are great questions. I was going to suggest asking about family-friendliness and see if you can get a feel for how many employees have children, if any. My husband and I have tag-teamed over the last 7 years and I went back to teaching last year just to get back on my kids’ school calendar. Even, then it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. Good luck!

            1. Jimbo*

              Thanks both! I like the questions on asking about “family friendliness” and if any other staff have young children. These provide plenty of info if the org or company are accommodating to these needs

        2. Friday*

          I’d probably be direct – because A. it’s a dealbreaker for me if they are all kinds of busy and inflexible, and B. I’ve been fortunate in my career to be leaving good companies to work for other good companies at a higher level. I would probably have to think very differently about it if I were out of work and didn’t have as much flexibility to walk away from potential jobs.

          As a hiring manager in the past, I was never put off by it either. In fact I was proud to answer the question because my team had a very consistent 40-hr week even in the busy time and we all took pride in our efficiency and ability to get the job done in that time period.

          1. Jimbo*

            Thanks! It is good to hear directly from hiring managers who don’t consider it a negative if a person asks about work-life balance. In recent weeks when I have been interviewing I’ve read plenty of advice which pretty much says asking about work life balance is taboo and even using that phrase to an interviewer can have negative connotations. I also had a negative response in an informational networking situation where I asked someone in a field I wanted to enter about expected work hours in their job. I got chastised pretty strongly for bringing up the issue! All this affected my thinking of how I should approach these questions in my upcoming interviews.

            1. zora*

              Well, just be aware, it COULD be a negative for some hiring managers/organizations. You have to do a cost-benefit for yourself, how much of a deal breaker is this for you? If you are in a secure situation right now and you don’t desperately need these jobs, then be super upfront about it! And if you get a horror-story response where they freak out, well they just told you something about themselves and you now know for sure you don’t want to work there.

              You can reframe it in your head, that by asking directly about these things in the second interview, it’s the quickest way for you to decide if you are interested in a job at this place or not.

              1. Jimbo*

                Thanks! It is a big risk to be upfront but I am realizing I may not have a choice. My family circumstances are what they are and no matter what, I can’t fit myself into a job or organization that is unable to be flexible about these things. Much better on both sides to identify earlier if it is a mutual fit rather than go through interviews all the way to an offer and find out only at that stage that it isn’t going to work out. Or worse, accepting an offer and realizing in my first week in a new job that it is not workable at all, quitting this new position and burning that bridge, and having to start the job hunt all over again.

                1. zora*

                  Totally. It’s not that it’s more of a risk, but it might take you longer to find the place that will fit with your life, you might have to look at some more places before you find it. But yes, this is the most important thing to you right now, and it’s better to get that sorted out earlier in the process than waste everyone’s time! Don’t feel guilty about prioritizing this for you in your job search!! I think you will find something, being aware of people’s family obligations is becoming more and more common these days. Good Luck!

    7. Specialk9*

      Yes!! This is a big concern for me too! I posted previously about being worried about layoffs, and losing flexibility is a big issue. I worry about this exact issue too, thanks for asking it.

  30. Database Geek*

    So I’m currently job searching – have had a few interviews which were good. Had some ones that were frustrating but perhaps not actually as bad as some of the ones in that “bad interviewers” post I found on this site! Just general poor communication and the like. I’m actually waiting to hear back from the most recent one but I’m not really expecting good news. I feel like I was cheated on that one because there were supposed to be two people doing the interview but one was busy – I am not sure how annoyed I should be with that.

    1. NaoNao*

      Well, I wouldn’t take it personally.
      Sometimes it’s actually harder to connect with two people, so it may not be a bad thing.
      When it comes to interviews, companies very, very rarely think about your needs or your situation. If someone got pulled into a last minute on-fire project or what have you, the interview will be right off their radar.
      I *might* follow up and say “I really enjoyed meeting you! Would you like to schedule an additional interview with Mr. So and So, since he wasn’t able to attend on Wednesday?” that’s only if you feel like you would have knocked it out of the park with the missing party, and the interview otherwise went well.

      1. Database Geek*

        Thank you – I’m trying not to take it personally but it’s hard! On the other hand I’m learning how many annoying things people can do at interviews! I like your idea about following up! But I’ve already sent a “thank you for the interview” note so maybe it’s best to keep it in mind if something similar happens again and I can modify the thank you note.

    2. Specialk9*

      That’s pretty common – hiring managers want input from others, but it’s pulling people from daily tasks, and sometimes there are fires to put out. I wouldn’t take this one personally, even though it feels like it’s kinda personal.

    1. fposte*

      She dialed back her presence and went through some life stuff; she has popped in to tell us that she’s fine occasionally, but hasn’t returned to full participation. I miss her too.

      1. Myrin*

        I do, too. :(
        On that note, has anyone heard of LBK lately? I know that he was crazy busy for a time last year or so but then came back to regularly commenting and now I only see him around once in a while. It’s weird how AAM feels like a bar sometimes.

        1. fposte*

          He posted in the earlier thread this morning–I noticed he’d been around less, too.

          On a not completely unrelated note, the new Firefox will not freaking autofill my forms no matter what I do to the privacy settings, so if I end up posting without my avatar that’s why.

        2. LBK*

          I’m here! In the midst of another round of the crazy project that was occupying my time last year plus an additional huge project on top of that, and to cap it off they upped our internet filters at work so it’s tougher for me to comment now. But I am around, just not getting as far into the comments as I used to.

          1. Myrin*

            Oh yay! And of course, right after I posted the above comment, I saw yours on today’s latest post – funny how that works sometimes and glad to hear you’re okay! Best wishes for your big projects!

  31. Roscoe*

    This question is specifically for people in sales or working on base + commission. When you are looking at a new jobs, and discussing compensation, what is the best way to do that? I know that they can’t guarantee you a certain salary your first year, outside of your base. So do you say, “I was making X last year and I’d like to make around there my first year”? Or is it more about what your base is going to be? Any tips would be appreciated.

    1. Rainbow Hair Chick*

      You could also ask what a new person typically makes in a year and also ask what a senior person typically makes in a year. That’s not an unfair question. I asked that when interviewing for my current job. So far Im surpassing what they told I’d make.

  32. TGIF*

    I’m at my job for 3 months now and I’ve been called into meetings for either missing folders/folders being
    moved around on the shared drive, another time for missing data in Excel. The head boss likes to point
    fingers and will ask you, “Did you do this?” Then he named other people who might do it and no one did.
    It turns out that it was someone from his team (!) moving the files. I just hate the fact that they zeroed in
    on me and my department. My boss says he’s also sick of it, but it still is upsetting.

  33. Monsters of Men*

    I am taking over the position for someone who is going back to her home country for a visit. The visit is meant to last six weeks, and she has only been with the company for two months. I have been training under her for two weeks now, her last day is next Tuesday.

    Well – it turns out they’re firing her. They haven’t told her until Tuesday, because they don’t want her to withhold information from me, but the boss is annoyed she is taking a long vacation after such minimal time on the job. The boss is a lawyer so I know he’s not running into any of the contracted vacation time issues that some people would be thinking of.

    I feel so scummy. I wish I had known, because it’s going to be harsh for her to realize she’s passed off all her tips and tricks to a fresh grad and she won’t even have a job coming out of it.

    1. Snark*

      Not to be excessively harsh, but……if she expected to have a job coming off a six-week absence when she’s only been with the company for eight weeks, she needed a little reality check anyway.

      I mean, it sucks that they approved the absence and then started to fire her, because it would have been more aboveboard to say “You’ve only been with the company for two months. We can’t have you gone for so long so soon. It would not work for us to keep you on if you do choose to go forward with this trip.” But that’s between your boss and her, not between you and her.

      And at my employer, new employees don’t even start accumulating PTO for three months. So there’s that.

      1. zora*

        But we don’t know what happened at all!! What if she brought this up at the offer stage, that this trip was already planned, and they said it would be fine. And then were pissed off behind her back?? That is entirely likely and that is pretty scummy of the company.

        1. DC*

          Yeah, that was my thought about this process- something that long was likely planned very far in advance, and if she’s only been there two months, it could have been planned while she was at her old job.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I hope there are other reasons to fire her, because unless they told her that losing her job would be a consequence of taking the trip, firing her for taking a vacation is pretty crappy. I mean, I get that they’re annoyed, but did they approve the vacation? Did they tell her it would be a bad idea? You likely don’t know the details, but this just sounds mean. Not illegal, for sure, but mean.

      1. Monsters of Men*

        The difficulty I think is what we do runs in 30 day cycles. So some cycles are ongoing while she’s gone, and some will start, and some will end. It’s very hard to leave for 6 weeks – in fact, I told him when I was interviewing I would be gone for a week, and now I have to pull overtime to make sure all my “cycles” are caught up while I’m gone.

        He seems otherwise reasonably fair… I just feel so bad. I am sure he told her, because the receptionist mentioned that it seems like she is being purposely obtuse about it.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Well, if this was discussed with her, then Snark is right– she gets what she gets. Sounds harsh, sure, but starting a new job and then leaving for such a long period shortly thereafter is not a good look.

        2. Snark*

          There’s really nothing to feel bad about, except as a sympathetic, “oh, that sucks for you” kind of thing. But she’s apparently making an informed choice. That’s on her.

      2. Amadeo*

        Yeah. On one hand, I can agree that a six week absence after having only been on the job for 2 months is not a good thing to do, I’m hoping that she was at least warned that this would cost her.

    3. Sadsack*

      That really sucks for her. This makes things awkward for you, but it isn’t your fault. Did they not know when they hired her? If not, why did they approve it?

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Yeah, this is weird. If she had this trip planned, it should have been disclosed before she was hired and if it was a problem, should have been addressed at that time. If she planned it after starting the job, why didn’t they tell her when she requested the time that she couldn’t take that much after such a short tenure?

          1. The OG Anonsie*

            I can’t really tell whether they really said no and she just blithely did it anyway, or said okay but were fidgety about it and expected her to take the negativity around the approval as a hint to decline it. Or that she already had the trip booked before starting the job and they still hired her but pressured her to cancel the trip and are upset that she didn’t. The former is one thing and the latter ones are entirely another.

            I wonder because I have actually seen people get vacation approved and then be penalized for it in various ways because, despite approving it, management still didn’t like it and expected them to just not do it no matter what. Which is nuts on the part of management– if it’s a problem then don’t approve it, and if it’s not then don’t penalize people.

  34. Promotions?*

    I manage a team of 5 full time Llama Herders. This year I was able to secure small promotions for 2 of them to Senior Llama Herders. These two are high performers who have sought out leadership opportunities and I am excited to promote them. They will have added responsibilities as well as becoming direct supervisors for 1 part time Llama Herder each. My question is, how do I deliver this news to the rest of the team? Obviously I will talk to the 2 I am promoting separately as well as the part time staff who will be reporting to them, but I’m not sure about the other 3 full time staff. Do I let them know in a team meeting or should I pull them aside separately? One of them has been with our organization the same amount of time as the two who are being promoted but is not a high performer and has never expressed interest in increased responsibilities but as we have never had Senior Llama Herders before I don’t know if she’ll be bothered by this change. Is pulling her aside separately making a bigger deal out of this than it should be? Or does it allow a more nuanced conversation that I should be having? Keep in mind she is not a terrible performer, just not excellent and not showing any leadership on the team in spite of her tenure.

    1. Snark*

      Team meeting. Light and breezy. “Hey, llama wranglers, we’ve got news. We’re creating two new Senior Llama Herder positions and promoting Llarry and Llinda. Their role will include X, Y, and Z. Congrats, camelid comrades! If anybody has any questions, let me know. ”

      If you approach this as a fraught, heavy topic that people are going to feel bad about, that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You don’t have to apologize or justify not promoting someone who doesn’t show any inclination to leadership.

        1. Snark*

          There’s an old Far Side comic where a llama wife is yelling “Llook out, Lloyd! It’s the llandlord!” at her llama husband. 8 year old me died.

          1. Specialk9*

            I’ve been waaaaaaay more please that I should be to have learned from fposte how to pronounce Welsh ll’s (kinda like “Thshpoon” from Mystery Men). I’ve been muttering “Llewellyn. Llewellyn.” to myself in the car, and now suddenly want to go to Wales.

            Thanks fposte!

            (And Far Side amused my 8 year old self excessively too.)

    2. This Daydreamer*

      I think I would just send an email to the whole team congratulating the two who are getting promotions.

    3. Troutwaxer*

      Have a little celebration. Bring coffee and donuts. Don’t spend more than 20-30, but make it a happy thing.

  35. Nervous Accountant*

    Posting from my phone so plz xcuse the typos
    Things have been stagnant for a while. I had an interview which didn’t work out, and I have one coming up. I decided to hold off on looking bc its getting too close to year end. I commit myself to 1 more tax season (if this upcoming one doesnt work out).
    The fury and anger I had just a few months ago….gone. Mostly bc I never talk to my boss (the one who called me stupid) and I deal with my manager (great terms).

    Until today. So I had to do a training w new hires. My partner was out so someone else stepped in. During the training he made an offhand comment–my boss said “well NA doesn’t know anything”

    I’ve done this training 5-6 times. My mgr and boss think (or I thought she thought that) I was capable of this.

    And now that I”ve decided to stay upt for another season, it just feelsl ike a fire I have to swallow.

    1. N.J.*

      Leave. Keep doing interviews. Leave. I’ve seen you post about the insults, the performance concerns, the overwork, the stress, the disrespect, going through hell to get a raise. Keep doing interviews. If you get an offer and decide you don’t want to take it and want to stay another cycle, fine. But in case I didn’t make my opinion clear: leave…leave…leave. You are worth respect and dignity and your workplace doesn’t sound like it offers that.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Yeah, apparently she said this to the coworker so that he would be convinced to go on the training bc she thinks he needs to take a bigger role in training. So geeeee why not throw NA under the bus and make her seem incompetent.

        And add insult to injury, one of them popped in during a diff training and said “hey guys, pay attn to her, she’s one of the best accountants here.” Everyone picked up on the sarcasm and even asked me “y does everyone pick on u here.” FML

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Time to move on, NA. Basic respect is not in place. If we stay too long in a place like this we forget what basic respect looks like.

  36. De Minimis*


    So, as I mentioned last week, we were turned down for a major grant, and this week they let us know the plan going forward. Basically, layoffs next year, and those that remain will be worked to the bone [and many will probably have to take reductions in their work, like moving down to 80% time, 50% time, etc.] The whole nature of the organization [a nonprofit that distributes federal money to educational institutions] will be changed, and my boss told me probably in five years we’ll only have maybe a quarter of the staff we have now.

    I was kind of cagey about telling my plans to my boss, but I did admit to him that I was looking at a particular other job, but I want to tell him that I’m going to be actively looking and would only remain if I absolutely couldn’t find a job anywhere else. It’s hard to know what to do, I know they are going to make plans based on what they think we’re all going to do. I’d hate to have them think I’m absolutely staying, decide to cut other people, only to find out that I’m leaving as soon as I can—but I also don’t want them to lay me off in case I do have trouble finding something else.

    My feeling is the people laid off will probably be better off than the ones who stay. I don’t see how the organization can continue once their last large active grant ends. Just a bad situation. We’ve been around a few decades, and have weathered similar storms before, but I think this one may be the final nail in the coffin.

    It’s bad too because there are at least a few people who have been here less than year who were hired in anticipation that there would be no funding issues. I think most of them may be okay because they were part of the active grant that still has a few years remaining, but who knows what will be decided. At least the organization going to be transparent–they said they’re letting everyone know what’s happening to them over the next few weeks, even though none of the actual job actions will take place until next year.

    I was planning on leaving anyway [don’t really like the job that much] but I know a lot of other people have really thought they were going to be here until retirement. Just a sad situation.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      If your boss doesn’t realize that you’ll be actively looking for a new job, he would have to be extremely naive. They’ve told people that there will be massive layoffs in the near future, reduction in hours, and serious overworking of those who are lucky enough not to be laid off (likely to be followed by future layoffs). Your boss has also pretty much told you the organization is dying.

      And you’re right, volunteering to be laid off is not a wise move, unless you know you can support yourself through extended unemployment. Your coworkers have basically the same information you do, and should also have the sense to start actively looking for a new job, before the current one disappears. Apply for jobs, give your notice when you get one, and do your best to forward good opportunities or recommend competent coworkers when you do get a new job.

  37. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

    I’m interviewing next week for an internal promotion. It would be a bit of a stretch, but I’ve been partially doing the job since the person left last November. It reports to my current manager and I was encouraged to apply by 4 people in our department. I also have to interview with HR, just like the external candidates. If anyone has any advice on interviewing internally, I’ll take it. In other companies when I applied for internal jobs, it was always a move to new people that I hadn’t worked with. I’m kind of at a loss with interviewing with my own boss – he already knows my work!

    1. medium of ballpoint*

      I don’t have any helpful advice, but I’m always on the lookout for a good band name so I wanted to send some good vibes to someone with a rad username!

    2. RabbitRabbit*

      Been there done that! I think it’ll be like a standard interview but a little more intense – you have no wiggle room on overpromoting your achievements, etc., because the manager already knows you. Be prepared to talk very candidly about your performance in the past, how you have excelled in the partial-performance of that job, what you’ve improved, what you know you need to learn, etc.

    3. Meg*

      Recipient of an internal promotion here! Internal candidates often have an advantage over external candidates (all other things being equal) because of the amount of institutional knowledge that you have — you’re a known quantity, and you’ve already gone through at least some of the learning curve that faces anyone in a new position. So I would definitely lean on that in your answers, especially if a high amount of institutional knowledge is important in your role/industry. Talk about how you could hit the ground running, how you’ve already been working on project x and y, how you would go about learning the rest of what you need to know, and how you’re excited to further develop those projects and move into that work full-time.

      But definitely don’t relax about it! Dress up, prepare just like you would for a regular interview, and send your follow-up thank yous. Good luck!!

      1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        I was definitely planning to dress for an interview but I don’t think I would have thought to do the thank yous for an internal spot. Good idea!

    4. Shark Whisperer*

      I had an internal interview with my own boss recently and it was really great. It was actually really nice that she already knew my work because I didn’t have to spend time explaining background for my examples. Also, for a couple of examples I used, my boss knew the results I got, but not how I got them. I ended up talking more about small achievements that my boss was less exposed to than big achievements, but I don’t think that was a bad thing.

  38. She doesn't work*

    I work with a team of three people, two of whom are half time. One of these people doesn’t seem to do any work. The full time person is constantly covering for her, finishing up her tasks (it’s an education program that’s split out into full time gets certain years and this half time gets other years, and the good half time is in charge of a specific slightly separate portfolio). I’m an admin, so they’re above me in hierarchy though I report to someone else. I just… I’m so exhausted with chasing her down for information, only to find out the FT has taken it over to finish it off. I don’t feel like it would be appropriate for me to raise it with her manager (who is covering for someone else’s leave until summer) but I’m so heckin tired of it, I’m at a BEC stage with her.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Is this actually your problem or the FT person’s?

      It seems like the bit that’s actually your problem is not who’s doing what work, but them not telling you / giving you info?

    2. Snark*

      I think you can raise it with her manager in a side-door kind of way. “I’ve been having problems getting information from Jane, and I frequently end up discovering that Fergus has just finished up for her without my knowing. Do you have any insights into how I might work with her better to get that information quickly?”

      And Boss will be like, “Whaaaaaaaat say that part about Fergus finishing up for her again.”

  39. Antilles*

    Thought about this based on this morning’s post:
    I’ve always wondered whether we’d start to see a movement away from handshakes as a default form of greeting. People are a lot more aware of their health than they used to be and a lot of companies (particularly in trendy areas) seem to be significantly more concerned with fitness and employee wellness than ever before. And that’s not even getting into the grossness – we could legitimately do a whole thread on studies about “Did you know that (surprisingly large percentage) of Americans don’t wash their hands after (something)”.
    But I can probably count on my fingers the number of times I’ve met someone who refused to shake hands and I’ve never even heard of any sort of ‘anti-shake’ movement. Is this a custom just so ingrained that we’re stuck with it, regardless of the health/grossness issues?

        1. Specialk9*

          In Spain, at least socially, everybody does 3 cheek air kisses. It feels glamorous, and it’s impressive when even 12 year old boys do it with aplomb, but takes *forever*.

          Not sure in business what the convention is.

    1. Manders*

      It seems goofy, but I’ve been to some conferences where the organizers tried to encourage fist bumping instead of handshaking. That way you’re only touching someone’s knuckles, and you’re less likely to be spreading germs. I don’t know if it’s going to catch on.

      Bowing or nodding is another alternative, but I don’t know if it’s used at all outside of east Asia, and convincing Americans to bow to each other would definitely be an uphill battle.

    2. Admin of Sys*

      Having worked for a Public Health organization, I’ll say no one tended to /offer/ handshakes, which I think is the key difference. If someone reaches out to shake your hand, it’s assumed that (unless sick or injured) the polite thing is to shake their hand. But if folks stop sticking their hand out, no one seems to feel awkward skipping that part of the ‘meet and greet’. We just exchange nods and such.

      1. JustaTech*

        I’ve had people try to shake my hand when I was wearing gloves in the lab. I just waved, but part of me felt like “Are you nuts?”

    3. LKW*

      Very ingrained although hugging does seem to be increasing (to my dismay). I was just at a conference and the standard greeting for someone you worked with at a former project or who went to a new company was a hug, but when introduced to someone for the first time – handshake.

      Although I like the idea of fist bumping – I think that being introduced to a number of people would feel too much like “One potato, two potato”

    4. HannahS*

      I really hope so. I was in elementary school in an area hit hard by SARS, and there was a whole public health campaign to get people to stop shaking hands. I’m in my mid-twenties, and I find that my peers and I largely don’t shake hands, but the divisions are along geographical/cultural/ethnic lines. People from large, multicultural urban centers tend to shake hands less. People from rural environments tend to more. Also, men do more than women.

    5. ..Kat..*

      As a nurse in a pediatric intensive care unit, I frequently say “infection control high five ” and hold my fist up for a fist bump. I am going to do this more as we approach cold and flu season.

  40. Anon for this*

    My department has hired its first person of color in at least 5 years, and she starts in two weeks. My coworkers seem excited, in a good way, about the department becoming slightly more diverse, but I’m starting to worry that they are a little too focused on that and might say something well-meaning but inappropriate. Such as, I don’t know, “Nice to meet you! I had a black friend in college. Hey, do you know him — Joe Schmoe?”

    I’m nobody’s boss, so I don’t have any authority over my coworkers, but I’m wondering what I should do in the event that somebody says something like this in front of me. I don’t want to be the PC police or anything, but I don’t want the new hire to be scared away or made uncomfortable. Maybe I’m worrying over nothing (there are employees of color in other departments and I haven’t seen or heard anyone in my department having issues with them), but I’d like to be prepared just in case.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      No specific advice, but as a minority, can I tell you how squicky it is that your co-workers are excited simply because this person is a PoC? (I think you get that, so I’m reiterating, but still). Like, if I were coming on board and someone was all, “Ooh, yay, our very first Jew!” and I found out about that? Man, I would run so far away, so fast. In your position, one thing to do is do your very best to remember that your new co-worker is a person. She might be nice, rude, loud, quiet, confident, nervous, etc. Don’t assume that she’ll react in certain ways or that some things will offend her (or that they won’t). If someone does say to you today, “Oh, I can’t wait for X to start on Monday! Our first minority!”, then I would probably tell them that such a sentiment is awfully strange.

      1. Anon for this*

        Yeah, it makes me cringe that they are commenting so much on her race, but at the same time, I don’t want to criticize them for looking at diversity as a positive thing. Nobody (except the manager who interviewed her) really knows much about her yet; we only know her name and previous employer and title, and people looked her up on Facebook and saw her photos. I’m hoping they know enough not to make comments on her race when she gets here, but the fact that they are talking about it so much now has me worried.

      2. I'm Not Phyllis*

        Yes to all of this. And as someone who is not a PoC, I can tell you that I too would run far and fast.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I think you should be prepared to say things like “Wow” and “You just said that out loud.” Get ready with some eye rolls and such.

      1. medium of ballpoint*

        Seconded. And since you seem pretty aware of things, make sure you’re communicating you’re a good person to chat with/vent to. It’s always to find that first person you with whom you don’t have to be on guard.

        (Unrelated, but this made me realize that similar excitement from other POCs doesn’t bother. I guess because it feels like we’re in it together that response has a different vibe. Good old in group/out group!)

      2. Jillociraptor*

        I see this a little differently. If the colleagues are saying these sorts of things with knowledge that they are offensive, I think this response is spot on. People who are trying to stir the pot should get this kind of response.

        However, it sounds like OP’s coworkers are speaking from a place of ignorance. If OP actually wants to help create a more inclusive and equitable space, she actually has to do the work of talking to colleagues so they understand the problem. This approach just teaches people that talking about race is bad, without equipping them with skills to actually assess how their behavior and choices are contributing to a workplace that’s some degree of hostile to certain identities. This will require multiple conversations, and probably some degree of managing White Feelings, but it’s the only way to do the work.

        1. Anon for this*

          I’m not sure I’m the right person to have these conversations because I’m not in a position of authority. I’d be fine with a casual, “Hey, you might not know this, but…” type of conversation, though. If I hear somebody say something inappropriate, would it be better to say something right then (in front of the new employee), or wait until I can talk to the person in private?

          1. Jillociraptor*

            I would think about this less as a performance issue and more as a being a good person issue, though. If you are in proximity to injustice I think you have an obligation to address it.

            I would actually do both, but it definitely takes a lot of feeling out. In the case you described in your original post, in the moment I would say something with a good-natured but not joking tone like, “I’m sure Jane doesn’t know all other Black people. Anyway, better get back to work.”

            Then, I’d follow up with the coworker with something like, “Hey, I wanted to follow up on what I said earlier. You might not realize this but when you suggest that someone knows everyone with their same identity, it can come across as though you view them all as a monolithic block. I know you don’t feel that way or want Jane to feel that way, so I wanted to mention it to you.”

            It’s a lot to navigate because you also don’t want to come across as Jane’s White Savior. There are definitely times when people make offensive comments about identities that I have when I just wish others would let them slide because I don’t have the energy to teach Antisemitism 101 or Feminism 101 that day. You won’t do it perfectly every time, but it’s important to do.

      3. LKW*

        It’s hard when your not in a position to provide guidance.

        Not your job to be the white angel. Not the employees responsibility to teach the others how to not be offensive. Maybe you can recommend some diversity training. People are more than their pigmentation, their religion, their gender or their disability.

        1. Anon for this*

          We’ve had diversity training! Last year, every employee had to attend a mandatory full-day diversity class. I think it’s possible that this is part of the reason for some of the comments — the training had a lot of information about the benefits of a diverse workforce. The training on how to treat people was mainly about how not to create a hostile work environment (such as not using slurs, not being mean to people because they’re a different race/religion/gender/age/sexual orientation, not making negative comments about specific groups, etc.), but I can imagine someone thinking it’s ok to say positive things about someone’s race.

          I feel like it could be condescending to the new employee if I act like I’m trying to “come to her rescue” but I’d hate to see people scare her away by making the kind of comments to/in front of her that they’ve been making to each other. Plus, I’d be embarrassed on behalf of the department!

    3. Jillociraptor*

      Frankly, even in places where people don’t get giddy about hiring a person of color (eeeepppp) these kinds of microagressions are common. It’s great that you notice them and want to help stop them.

      The most neutral way I’ve found to address these kinds of things is a “Hey, you might not know this, but…” tone to really briefly explain the issue.

      Some people, no matter how friendly you are when you point it out, will not be able to accept that their well-intentioned comment could be offensive when coming from a different perspective, so you also have to be prepared to have some uncomfortable conversations. If you’re able to avoid calling people out to feel self-righteous, which it definitely doesn’t sound like you’re planning to do, you can rest assured that if people have a bad reaction, it’s not you, it’s their sensitivity.

  41. Keladry of Mindelan*

    My boyfriend is currently job searching, and has been for awhile. It’s super annoying to go to an interview and find out that the job is 1)part time 2)involves frequent travel for a week at a time 3)is actually a contract position that would expire in a few months. None of those things were advertised in the job posting. All of which would have been very useful to know ahead of time.

    So that was our disappointing Wednesday. Hopefully his interview next Friday at a different company goes better.

    1. Chaordic One*

      I think that sometimes employers are deliberately vague in the job description details when the job includes things that are probably going to be considered negatives by prospective employees. It wastes everybody’s time and it sucks. I suppose that sometimes an prospective employee will be “roped in” because he or she was desperate or maybe just gullible.

      1. Keladry of Mindelan*

        Yeah, it’s really annoying. If they were honest in the ad, they may actually have found someone for whom that job would have been a perfect fit. As it stands, everyone’s time was wasted, including the interviewers.

    2. WAnon*

      I’m just leaving this to squee over your username since I just reread through the whole of the series (and all the Tortall series!).
      Also – Numair book is coming out soon!

      1. Keladry of Mindelan*

        Thank you! I’m so incredibly excited about more Tortall books. I’m still fangirling over the fact that Tamora Pierce signed my copies of Squire and Lady Knight at the Washington DC Smithsonian Book Festival a few years back.

        1. krysb*

          Her Trickster’s Choice and Trickster’s Queen are two of my favorite books. I would totally squee if I got them signed.

        2. Specialk9*

          I read Terrier (Beka), and wanted to like it but Decidedly Didn’t. I liked Daughter of the Lioness series though. What do you recommend?

          1. Keladry of Mindelan*

            As my username might imply, the Protector of the Small quartet is my favorite. Out of all of TP’s heroines, Keladry always felt the most real and relatable to me. In her Circle of Magic universe, may favorite book is The Will of the Empress. It’s a later one in the series, but I think it actually can stand on its own if you haven’t read any of the previous books. A quick googling of the previous books and characters might help, but it’s still great even if you haven’t read the previous 2 quartets.

            1. Specialk9*

              Thanks! I actually started First Test, now I went back and looked at it. I kept getting mad that they were being so sexist to her, giving barriers the boys didn’t have. It felt too close to 2017 to be good escapism. But it sounds like it’s worth pushing through that. Thanks!

        3. Fact & Fiction*

          I was lucky enough to meet Tamora a couple years again when she was Guest of Honor at my local SFF convention. I’m pretty much an unknown as an author and she was just lovely. I need to reread all her books again and catch up on the ones I’ve not read yet.

  42. Master Bean Counter*

    Bullet dodged this week!
    I have the opportunity to go to a training 20 minutes from the central California coast next month. Given where this is located it’s going to be a 8 hour road trip each way. The thought of being in car for 8 hours for two days with my sports obsessed coworker sounds only slightly more appealing than having my fingernails ripped off one by one.
    So I hit it early and decided to make a deal, I’ll get paid gas and actual expenses for the business days on the trip, but I can go up two days early with my husband and enjoy a couple of days at the beach before the training.

  43. Elfie*

    Okay, I need some advice and help. I am doing line management for the first time ever (been working for nearly 20 years – I guess I’m a late developer!), and gosh it’s hard! I have a graduate on a 5-month placement, and I have to come up with stuff for her to do. She’s very bright, but not technical, and she’s not going to be doing the job that I do (she’s a Llama Birthing Co-Ordinator, whilst I’m a Llama Birthing Instruments Technical Specialist, for example). I’ve got a project for her to run, but it’s not as far along as I’d have liked, so there’s not much for her to do just yet. She’s three weeks into her placement, and I’m worried that she’s getting bored and I’m not supporting her to achieve her objectives fast enough. She’s asked other people for work to do, and I’m worried that I’m failing in my line management objectives (part of my development objectives for this year). What can I do differently? I’ve asked my line manager for anything she might be able to do, as well as my colleague, but because most of our tasks are technical, it’s not like we can really delegate our tasks to her. Any advice?

      1. Elfie*

        A possibility – I’ve had her shadow me in some meetings, and she’s going to shadow an existing Llama Birthing Co-Ordinator for a day – but I want to give her something meaty and interesting to get stuck into, not just busywork. I guess it doesn’t help that she’s a grad, and this is her first professional role, as well as it being my first experience of line management – we’re both just figuring it out as we go along. I’ll have a think about whether there’s anyone else she could shadow that might help her out.

  44. Katiedid*

    Here’s a broad question: what is “leadership?” My office (as I think many do) looks to identify “leaders.” The problem is that I don’t think we know what that means and it seems to be defaulting to “this person is the loudest and pushiest in meetings” or “they’re the youngest in a department of people who are much, much older” which apparently I’m alone in thinking is not probably the best examples of “leadership,” although the second group could be (and often are) leadership material, just that that isn’t a qualification in and of itself.

    Any thoughts from the collective on what you would consider leadership qualities and how those can be identified? Maybe the problem is trying to identify “leadership potential” as an inherently inborn set of traits that can only be expanded on and not taught outright?

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Leadership to me means people who put the interests of the team/mission ahead of their own. I’m not an out-in-front leader. I like to quietly lead in the background – giving my people opportunities, encouraging them, training them, etc.

      1. Specialk9*

        Leaders paint a vision for direction, clear obstacles, and shine spotlights of glory around them (not on themselves).

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I identify leaders as individuals who will take initiative to solve problems, are respectful of their peers, and generally work toward making to organization and employees perform better.
      But it seems like these leadership hunts just pull out people who can write the best essay of why they are great, which usually includes shallow examples of volunteer work and inflation of work duties. Sigh.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Oh, and leaders take responsibility of their work and the work of their direct reports. That’s so important!

        1. Nico M*

          Seems to me based on above leadership isn’t innate, it’s a product of the organisations reward system.

    3. NW Mossy*

      In my company, one of the things we look for to assess leadership potential is identifying the people others turn to for advice. It’s partially about the person having the expertise to answer the question, but also about how approachable and collaborative that person is and their willingness to help someone else succeed. Experts that people don’t seek out generally have some more work to do before they’re ready for leadership – they might need to work on smoothing out an abrasive manner or pushing themselves to speak up more.

      Another key element is to look for people who are strong connectors – people who recognize that they don’t know an answer, but can think through who in the company would know and has the relationships to bring the questioner and the one with the answer together. Leadership is about what you can accomplish in conjunction with others much more than it is about what you can do alone, so people who demonstrate aptitude in pulling together the right minds to solve a challenge are often worth developing for leadership.

      1. Katiedid*

        This is such a good thought! I completely agree about the idea that leadership is not being the know-it-all, but rather the person who knows what they don’t know and how to tap the expertise of themselves and others to get the best result.

        I think this is piece that I believe we’re ignoring – and admittedly also the piece that can be hardest to identify, especially in new employees. I’m certainly not discounting the importance of expertise in and of itself, but it’s also an acceptance that you aren’t the only person with expertise and being able to bring all the pieces together to get the end result. We’ve accepted as an organization in theory that the current model of the workplace is no longer the “command and control” manager, but judging by some of the people we’ve identified as having “leader written all over them,” I don’t know that we’ve actually internalized it.

    4. Trout 'Waver*

      Leadership is a skill like any other. Some people have a natural proclivity, but just about anyone can be taught.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      There are formal leaders and informal leaders. A formal leader has a title. An informal leader is someone whose opinion matters for whatever reason. In your example, their opinion matters because they yell the loudest.

      Entire books have been written on what it takes to make a leader. Try thinking about it this way: If you took out the word leader and put in auto repair tech, it gets a bit easier to see.
      Not everyone is born with gift of grasping complex technical things.
      Of those who are, not all them want to work on complex technical things.
      Dwindling down even more, of those who remain some may find auto tech beyond their scope.
      And finally, some people cannot learn some of the new and higher technology.

      I think it goes in a similar vein for leaders. But no it cannot be taught to everyone. And we see it here, many of the bosses who can’t learn.

  45. Qprinter*

    Need strengthening and bucking up. Was informed verbally by my boss on Tuesday morning that it wasn’t working out and they would be ending my employment here at the end of the month. He didn’t have answers to my questions about terms (COBRA, etc.) but did know that I would be asked to officially resign. He’s pressed me again (in writing) for my resignation letter by next Tuesday, even though I’ve seen nothing in writing about my layoff/termination or there’s been nothing written down about the terms they’re offering.. He’s said he’d like to eliminate my position and bring in two people (higher level and an admin), so that could technically be a change in status/elimination of position. I’m not resigning because I’m not waiving my right to unemployment, and not going to tell potential future employers that I resigned without anything lined up. Any advice on how to stay firm or phrases to use in the conversations?

    1. EddieSherbert*

      Oof, I don’t have any advice but wanted to say that sucks, I’m sorry!

      I think you’re taking the right track holding firm though; it sounds like they are handling it strangely.

    2. Sadsack*

      If he is eliminating your position, why are you expected to resign? I don’t think I would resign.

      1. Sadsack*

        Maybe you should go to HR to ask about the severance, cobra, etc. And make sure they understand that you are not resigning.

        1. Qprinter*

          I’ve heard NOTHING from HR. I emailed Wednesday afternoon and haven’t heard back since then. I’m going to see how today’s conversation with the boss goes and then follow up with a written note to HR reiterating that I am not resigning.

          1. EddieSherbert*

            Can you call or speak to someone in-person in HR? In my experience, that tends to get a prompter reply.
            And it gives you a point person you can follow up with (versus various people who can claim this is the first they’ve heard). Okay, Joe in HR knows the issue and is looking into it? Thanks Joe. Talk to you soon Joe. We’ll touch base on Monday, right, Joe?

            1. The OG Anonsie*

              Do this, and also look into what the local laws are for you with unemployment. Where I live, being required to resign is still considered termination on the part of the employer and is treated the same, but I imagine you’d have to be able to document that correctly.

      2. Rainbow Hair Chick*

        Exactly what Sadsack says!! If they are eliminating your position then they should lay you off to get unemployment. Please talk to someone at your local unemployment office and see if they can do this (I dont think they can) And if they are eliminating your position please ask for a letter of reference.

    3. NaoNao*

      Yeah, don’t sign anything like a resignation.
      Maybe tell him “I don’t actually want to resign, as that will negatively impact my future. I hope you understand.”

    4. Stop That Goat*

      I have to agree that I don’t think I’d resign. It’s too much of a risk and for what exactly? Maybe some “I’m under the impression that my position is being eliminated. Resigning isn’t an option at this point so how should we proceed?”

      Good luck!

    5. JulieBulie*

      HELL NO do not resign. If they want to get rid of you, they can take the responsibility for the decision.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Yes! It really sounds like they’re trying to dodge the unemployment benefits, and you can’t be forced to go along with that!

    6. Specialk9*

      I’m so sorry this is happening to you!!

      They’re being dodgy. No you’re not resigning, you’re being laid off.

      Document the conversation in an email to your boss, bcc’ed to.your personal email: “Per our conversation X date that you are eliminating my position in order to replace my position with two other positions, I am requesting the name of an HR rep with whom I can discuss terms. Thank you.”

      Put it in writing what he said verbally, and make it clear that his phrasing was layoff/position elimination, rather than firing. But without forcing him to get defensive and start slinging mud at you.

    7. Natalie*

      I agree you should definitely not resign, especially since they are apparently eliminating the position. Don’t let them pretend it’s the same thing as getting fired, because it’s not. Plus it’s easier to explain and easier for unemployment, as you said. Maybe if they gave you a redonkulous severance package (like, 6 months + salary) but definitely not without it.

      Just for your information, COBRA kicks in at any time that you lose eligibility for your group health coverage, no matter the reason. You can wait up to 60 days to elect for COBRA and up to 45 days after that to make the first payment, and once you do it’s retroactive to the day you lost coverage. So there’s a bit of a COBRA float you can play with if you’re overall healthy but concerned about accidents, etc. Also, you won’t be penalized on your taxes for not having coverage for a short gap between jobs, so don’t worry about that either.

    8. Mike C.*

      Wait, he pressed you for a letter of resignation? Make sure you keep a copy of that for the labor boar!

  46. OkayDokay*

    Does anyone have advice on how to say you’d like to stay with a company, but in a different position? Recently moved to an area and took a temp job in a similar department to my previous job. The expectation was that I’d continue to look for a permanent job in the meantime, but I got lazy/busy and haven’t been nearly as diligent in my job search as I should have been over the summer. So, now my temp job is looking to make me permanent and I’m conflicted. I like the company and my department well enough, but the work is much more simple than my last job (which didn’t bother me as a temp position, but I don’t think it’d change appreciably as perm). There are some other positions with the company I’d be interested in, but I don’t know how to approach it with my manager. Even though we’d spoken vaguely about the possibility of internal promotions, getting a foot in the door with the company, etc, when I was hired, I haven’t really mentioned it since.
    On another note, I feel like if I’m offered perm I need to take it, but I’m mad at myself for being lazy. I feel like this move (spouse-related, but we’re now here for the long haul) has me starting over again and 7 years out of college I’m not really getting into a career and starting to fall behind. This job seems… below my abilities? And compensated thusly. Between moves for the spouse and a layoff, I’m not really progressing. This feels like one of those “lean in” opportunities my mom keeps bringing up, but I don’t know if it makes sense to take a job I can get not knowing how long it would be until I get something more in line with what I want, or if it’s too likely I’ll end up burning a bridge.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Do they post job openings anywhere?
      I think if I could find a list of their internal openings I would start applying for the ones that seem reasonable to apply to.
      In other words instead of waiting for them to tell me, or me asking approval, I would hunt down the information then notify my boss that I am interested in applying for x or y opening.

  47. Pocketofsunshine*

    Wondering what your workplaces expect in terms of energy and workload? I’ve been in the same organization since college and I’m beginning to realize our culture expects 100-150% output all the time (overtime is frowned upon, but most people do it to hit the 150% level).

    Wondering if there are places that encourage giving 70-80% daily and then kick up to 90-100% for important or urgent issues as a reasonable way to maintain work/life balance? I’m so tired (probably burned out) from years of giving it my all every single day. If I scale back to 80% I get feedback like “that’s all you are working on??” But I can’t seem to maintain the 100% effort/quality without being exhausted all the time and my personal life is being negatively effected because I don’t have the energy to tackle any of my pet projects or hobbies (it’s all I can do to keep my house clean and myself fed outside of work some weeks). Trying to figure out if this is normal or if my workplace does expect too much.

    Curious what your experiences are! Also particularly interested to hear from any managers about what your expectations are of your staff.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Sure. There’s a bunch of us hanging out here instead of working, right? ;)
      Generally speaking, unless the work comes slamming in, there’s no particular need for me to be working at 100%. As long as work gets done when it needs to.

      1. Susan K*

        Well, I never use the internet for non-work purposes while I’m on the clock. I work rotating shifts and today’s my day off.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          And I read before and after work.

          In answer to the question, I think my work expects me to be human? Sometimes it’s intensely busy and sometimes not.

    2. rosiebyanyothername*

      My office recently got a talk about how we shouldn’t call it “work-life balance,” but “work-life integration”… which sounds like we should be expected to always work late and answer emails on weekends. Ugh.

    3. Elfie*

      Well, I’m usually running at about 80% capacity, which ramps up to maybe 110% if I’m really busy, but that only happens just before a major deadline, of which there are probably 1 or 2 a year. I’ve always been in this position where everyone else around me seems super busy and I’m just … not. I did ask my manager if I was lazy or they were inefficient (or manufacturing work to seem important) – I didn’t say it just like that, but that was the gist. I got told they suspected it was the latter, so I’m not going to get too worried about it. But I reckon it’s highly industry-specific. I work in IT on projects, so the nature of the work is going to be variable anyway.

    4. Chaordic One*

      My experiences are similar to yours. I find I always start out a new job and it might go well for a couple of years and then, over time, the job description changes. The volume of work goes up and additional tasks get added into the mix and additional steps get added into the existing tasks. I don’t know what to tell you, but I sure can relate to the situation.

    5. Susan K*

      Oh wow, this hits really close to home because my workplace is the same way. I feel like I am constantly being pushed to the limit. If I kick it up once for something urgent or important, management sees that I can work at that pace and then expects me to do that all the time. I am so exhausted that I spend my days off recovering from work and I never have any energy to do the things I want to (or should) do.

      I look at it like running a marathon (not that I am a runner, haha! I certainly don’t have the energy for that). Marathon runners don’t sprint the whole 26 miles. You can’t expect them to run at their 100-yard dash pace for the whole marathon. And I don’t think management should expect people to work at their top speed all of the time, either.

      What’s really frustrating to me is that some of my coworkers, I think, have figured out that they’re better off never giving 100%. If the most they ever give is 80%, that’s all management expects from them. I guess I’m just stupid enough to push myself harder when it’s important, but then management thinks I can handle that much all the time.

    6. Specialk9*

      Yup. Lots of jobs that have reasonable work balance. Find a new company, that sounds cult-y and like questionable labor practices.

    7. Wheezy Weasel*

      Worked mostly in higher ed, so the usual caveat of a somewhat alternative universe may apply. I think it starts with how you set expectations when you first start a job and stick to the output level that you can reasonably sustain. Most companies are never going to explicitly tell you to work 80% and kick it into high gear when necessary. I’ve shot for 75-80% effort on most days with brief spurts for important projects, but frequently check in with the boss to say ‘this isn’t going to get done unless we lose these two other tasks, extend the timeline, or hire more people’. In a relatively sane environment, your workload gets adjusted accordingly. If everyone at the company works at 150% capacity and you are the outlier, it’s harder to manage and it might affect you negatively, but in my experience, individual managers are willing to keep someone onboard that can adequately manage their workload even if the rest of the team doesn’t.

      I read an interesting article about how overworking might signal the wrong thing to employers as well (please excuse the clickbait-style headline including the word Millenials)

  48. Juxtapose is Just a Pose*

    What’s the best way to ask to step out to network?

    I work for Org A, and my friend at Company B has invited me over to come meet her team, which I’m really excited about because her team is exactly the kind of place I’d love to work… in a couple years, because I like where I’m at currently. I’m hoping I can time it so that I can plausibly say I’m stepping out to get lunch with a friend, but what if I can’t? Do I just say an appointment?

    1. Susan K*

      How long do you expect it to take to “meet her team”? If it’s quick enough that you can do it over your lunch break (or if your company is flexible enough to let you take a long lunch and make it up by staying late), I think it’s fine to say you’re going out to meet a friend for lunch. If it’s going to take a few hours out of your work day, though, maybe consider using PTO. For example, if you have a week of vacation coming up, can you go to meet your friend’s team during that week? Or could you use a half-day of vacation to leave at lunch, go meet the team, and use the rest of the day for errands or something? I know it’s common to use the “appointment” excuse for an interview, but I think this is different because it’s not time-sensitive like an interview.

  49. Anonny*

    What should a man wear for an interview for a seasonal cashiering job at a major retailer specializing in outdoor equipment and apparel?

    I was thinking slacks, a buttoned shirt, no tie, and a corduroy jacket. Something like this:

    Or this (not the same material, but a similar color):

    Thoughts? Ideas?

    1. Amber Rose*

      A nice collared shirt and black or dark blue pants with a belt is standard for that kind of position. The jacket is a bit too formal, in my opinion.

    2. TCO*

      If you’re interviewing for a seasonal cashiering job at the same Seattle-based major outdoor retailer I used to work at, then just slacks and a button-down would be plenty formal. A lot of interviewees will probably wear jeans, but I don’t see any harm in going one step up from that to show that you’re serious and professional. The outdoor industry is very casual, though, so a jacket would be overdressing for a cashier job.

      I really enjoyed my side gig at said retailer and worked there off and on for years. While a lot of the enjoyment is obviously based on store-level management and culture, it’s a good company to work for. Good luck!

      1. I heart Recreational Equipment*

        Heya! I work at a flagship store of that Seattle-based major outdoor retailer! I started seasonally several years ago and have continued part-time ever since! And I agree that slacks and a button-down shirt should be fine. I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what I wore.
        Best of luck! If we’re talking about the same company–it’s an AWESOME company to work for! If not… it’s a fun industry and I’m sure you’ll enjoy whichever store it is!

  50. qwertyuiop*

    I want to take some classes in either HTML/XML class or maybe a SQL class, but I’m not sure which class would be most beneficial. I’m in library science and I do have knowledge of HTML and took some basic web design classes, but it’s been a while. Any thoughts?

    1. Amadeo*

      What, specifically is your goal with the classes? Are you just wanting to make web pages or are you going to want to do development/programming or are you just exploring ideas?

      1. Admin of Sys*

        2nding Amedo’s comment – what do you want to do with the knowledge you pick up? If it’s just a ‘get more technical experience’ sort of thing, and you’re not starting to build towards a particular skill set, I’d suggest the sql. Having a good grounding in database structure and such is broadly useful in library sciences, imo. But if you specifically want to get into coding webpages, go for the xml/html.

      2. AnotherLibrarian*

        I agree with Amadeo. What do you want to do when this is all over? I think it really depends on what you want to do with the skill. They are very different skills. Also, consider if one class is going to teach you enough to really be beneficial, or would it be better to learn to use a specific program like ArchivesSpace or ContentDM. (All my examples come from archives, but there are other programs out there for other fields.)

    2. Meg*

      If you think you’d ever be interested in doing other data work, I would recommend SQL. It’s a good foundation that’s applicable to a lot of different programs. In our hiring for data positions, we often use SQL as an indicator of sorts — “well, if they know SQL, they’ll be able to pick up X and Y.”

    3. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      What do you want to do with it when you are done?

      Also, free classes or online. There are a few good ones for SQL if I remember correctly. I got a cheap book for the new HTML.

    4. Cassandra*

      Suggestions based on your possible career leanings:

      Public service (reference, instruction, etc): Information architecture, UX/usability, basic SEO, basic responsive design (like, know what it is and why it matters), project management — aside from minor page tweaks (which you can do already with the HTML you have), the major work tasks will be UX- and project-management-related, not so much bits-on-the-wire.

      Actual web development: The above, plus CSS and the basics of a web-friendly programming language (Javascript, PHP, or Ruby, probably). Maybe a CSS framework (such as Bootstrap), just to figure out how they work. Maybe get acquainted with a web CMS or two (WordPress and Drupal are common).

      Cataloging/metadata/other tech services: XML and SQL, since so many tech services jobs these days are hybrid (MARC plus whatever else). If you can learn some linked data (RDF), do it. Be aware that “XML” is a portmanteau (in the Humpty Dumpty sense) for many XML-based metadata languages; get a handle on Dublin Core (any serialization, doesn’t matter that much) and MODS at minimum.

      Digitization or digital preservation: XML and SQL. You will use them both! Linked data a plus here as well.

      I’ll try to check in if you have follow-up questions.

  51. Jake*

    Just found out 2 hours ago that today I get to work 6am to 1am and then Saturday 9am to 5pm.

    I’m in a bad mood.

    1. Construction Safety*

      Srsly? A 19h our shift? And only 8 hours off between shifts?

      I hope it’s $$ worth it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        In NY that is legal for non-exempt also. It’s a “back to back”. Companies do not care if it takes you two hours to get home in a snow storm and then two hours to get back therefore you had four actual hours at home.

        then they wonder why health care costs go up. grr.

        1. Jake*

          Yeah, the legality isn’t in question in my situation, just the sanity.

          Surely they realize that having me work 2 19+ hour shifts a week for 3 weeks (on top of the rest of the week being 10-12 hour shifts) is the perfect way to get me to quit?

    2. Jake*

      Plus, didn’t mention I had plans to go see a friend on Saturday that is in Dental School and I haven’t seen in 3 months. Probably won’t see him for another 3 months now.

      I’ve been in this career 6 years now, and I just can’t find an employer that doesn’t run you into the ground. In the 13 calendar days ending at 11:59 on Saturday night I will have worked over 145 hours. Might be time to figure out a new career path.

      1. Jake*

        Construction Superintendent. Wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t Exempt, and I knew about this earlier than than 2 hours into the shift!

  52. rosiebyanyothername*

    I am fairly new to the workforce, in my first “real” job post-graduation. I want to work in the arts, and all my previous experience had been in nonprofits. I had a pretty long and grueling job search my senior year. I interviewed at many non-profits and arts-related companies, but the only position I had been offered was an unpaid internship. Then, right before graduation, I was offered a position at a for-profit company that was kind of tangentially related to the arts, but it was full-time and actually paid me in money instead of a “lunch stipend,” so I rescinded the internship offer and took the for-profit job. Now, sixth months later, I can’t shake the feeling that I made a huge mistake. Purely on the basis of money and convenience, the for-profit company is fine. The company’s objectives are in line with my interests, but the company culture is messing with my head and making me feel awful. I’m starting to feel I completely sabotaged my career by picking this job over something that, while unpaid, would have been a foot in the door to a field I actually want to work in.

    I know I’m not going to be at this job forever and I know your first job usually sucks, but it’s just hard for me to feel any purpose with my work at this company. While we work with people in the art world, I get basically no opportunities to network and build those connections for later. In my internships, I was working with young students and people who shared my weird nerdy interests in art and culture. I work with very demanding wealthy people at this company–which, granted, I would have been doing at that internship too (it was in a gallery), but I’m not building up any connections in the field. My coworkers are not passionate about their work either and it kind of all trickles down. At this job I sit in a cube and wait for the phone to ring. Management here is also kind of icky. I’ve only been at this company six months and I’m already feeling incredibly burnt out and like my work is completely pointless–I feel like I’m putting nothing good or productive into the world through this work. I’ve tried to look for arts-related positions that are only on the weekends, like being a museum docent, but so far I’ve basically found nothing that would allow me to continue working this other job full-time.

    Am I just being a whiny millennial? A salary is a salary, but I want to feel purposeful in my work.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Time to bump up your after work stuff. Can’t network on company time? See if there’s any volunteer opportunities that might connect you with people. Or look into the job you want and set up informational meetings, see if you can figure out if there’s extra classes you can be taking or other things you can be doing to improve your odds. Or just find a hobby that provides some fulfillment.

      While your first job isn’t supposed to suck, exactly, it’s pretty normal to feel a little let down. You’re on the lowest rung of a ladder. Try and take a long term view of things. If you can stick it out for at least a year* here, and put in the work, you’ll start climbing that ladder.

      *I know that a year is short and it’s not a magic number, but you’re allowed some wiggle room since you’re new to the workforce. The problem with six months is that it’s almost not long enough to be considered finished training. You want your first job to be worth listing on your resume, and if you can build rapport with your supervisor and get a good reference, even better.

      1. EddieSherbert*


        My first job out of school was similar – sort of related to what I wanted to do but not really getting me experience that would obviously set me up to move into the “right” field. So, first of all, because I was nervous about that, I want to say it DID help me far more than I expected with securing my next job.

        And I also really jumped into volunteering in my field. There are some great sites out there for volunteering in all kinds of fields – remote and local stuff.

        I included “Work Experience” and “Volunteer Experience” sections on my resume, which put both right in front of any interviewers.

      2. rosiebyanyothername*

        My plan is to stick it out for a year… I’m planning to go to grad school and relocate this time next year after my boyfriend graduates. Thankfully I do really get along with my supervisor and most of my immediate coworkers, so I don’t I’ll have too bad a reputation when I’m off to my next position and need references. Volunteering is definitely something I want to get into, maybe taking some online courses too.

        1. zora*

          There’s also this thing they are calling “Social Impact” or “Social Enterprise” now that a lot more for-profits are getting into because of all the millennials in the workforce that feel like you do!

          Look around and check it out. A lot of new companies/startups are in the Social Enterprise space, where they are targeting social issues (including the arts) but with plans to make a profit, not be a nonprofit. And I just signed up for a panel on “Social Impact in Tech” hosted by a tech company, which I am attending partly to network and see what kinds of jobs are out there (as someone coming from nonprofits who is ready to ‘sell out’).

          There are lots of “Young professionals” groups focused on this area, and even some virtual groups out there you can join just online.

    2. Helpful*

      We often don’t feel purposeful at our first jobs. However, it’s not the problem with the job; purpose isn’t going to be handed to you in an entry-level job. It’s your job to find the purpose and dignity in what you do. Figure out the opportunities that you may have as a result of this job. Save up your money so you can take a pay cut to get the next job (if necessary). Look for ways you can beef up your resume for the next job you want. Change your perspective about this, so that you don’t waste the things you can do today to set you up for a better job tomorrow. Good luck to you.

      1. JulieBulie*

        It was a good three or four years before I felt “purposeful.” (And then I was practically begging for mercy!)

        Look for opportunities in this job, and look for the next job. It’ll happen.

  53. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I got my first recruiter reaching out to me on LinkedIn this week. I’m not actively looking for a job, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to talk to her and find out more about the position she was looking to fill. She said that the hiring manager was likely going to want to meet with me next week.

    If it works out, it would be a nice salary bump from where I am right now (I took a huge paycut when I switched jobs for reasons). The only thing I’m not crazy about is the location and increasing my commute. Any advice on potentially negotiating for a part time work from home schedule?

  54. AFineSpringDay*

    My colleagues and I are a bit bummed, our senior colleague thew his hat in the ring to be our new manager, and didn’t get the job. Most of the people on the committee wanted him to have it, but the Big Cheese over-ruled it, saying he wanted to “shake things up”. Funny how they want things “shaken” and then expect the exact same level of smoothness as before. Our new boss seems good on paper, but has never stayed anywhere for longer than 3 years, which for her age and our industry is a bit weird, so we’ll see how this shakes out.

  55. Definitely NOT a T-Rex*

    Within the next year, I’m seriously considering leaving my job so that I can complete full-time training that will (hopefully) allow me to pivot into a related career. Specifically, I’m looking into completing a UX bootcamp.

    The prospects look good: the training will be focused on helping me build a portfolio of real work experience (rather than hypothetical classroom exercises), the training will be shorter (a few months) but more intense, and past students who have completed the training seem to almost always be able to get jobs (sometimes before they’ve even completed the training). There’s no way I can do this and keep my current job at the same time (relocation, for one thing).

    As you can imagine, though, I’m pretty scared! If I do this and don’t end up getting a job right away, how do I explain the gap to employers? Especially if it looks like I won’t be able to make the transition and need to go back to work in my old industry to make ends meet? Does anyone have any experience or tips with this kind of strange situation?

    1. Tabby Baltimore*

      Are we talking “UX” as in “unexploded ordnance”? If I were you, then, yes, I *would* be scared! Seriously, though, I think one way to handle your concerns might be to ask about the bootcamp graduates’ job placement rates after completing the course. I realize this post will go into moderation, so you may never see it, but for those who are curious about “How do I ask about placement rates?” this URL to St. Olaf College (I have no connection to this institution) provides a screen full of data that you can use to help you form nuanced questions, like “What percentage of the camp’s graduates go into private sector jobs? Non-profit jobs? Government?” and “What were the top 10 employers for the most recent graduating class?” and “What percentage of graduates got full-time employment after graduating? What percentage got part-time work? What was the range of hours for part-time work?” and “What was the average beginning salary for FT work? For PT work?” Unfortunately, a lot of this data is probably going to be self-reported from the camp’s graduates (assuming the bootcamp even collects it), so might be suspect from the beginning. I would think that a camp that is legit, though, would be collecting this data from its graduates and encouraging them to be honest, as a way to improve the camp’s offerings and raise its profile and credibility in its local business community. Placement rates, cost and location would all be deciding factors for me, but you are a different person. Best of luck. Please let us know how you made your decision, and what you decided to do.

    2. Reba*

      Is the bootcamp in the city where you want to job search? The relocating is the thing that seems to be adding risk to this plan, to my view. Is the bootcamp well-known or prestigious enough to make relocating worth it?

      Not direct experience, but a buddy of mine did transition into UX design from being an artist-professor. He was already handy with code but not in ways that were particularly relevant (like physical computing), so he did a bootcamp of some kind. Sorry, I don’t know the name of the program. He is still happily employed!

      Good luck!

  56. AMT*

    This question is for the healthcare professionals/social workers/therapists/etc. out there, particularly in NYC. Is it normal for healthcare environments to be so rigid? I’ve had a tough time transitioning from nonprofits to to a hospital setting. Previous work environments (even 0ther union shops) have been so much more flexible on things like time and leave. In my current hospital workplace and my last one, though, it’s an automatic reprimand if you clock in a minute late or use too many sick days in a given period. Things like bereavement leave, flex time (nonexistent), and comp time are handled in a way that strikes me as needlessly micromanaging, even when being flexible wouldn’t affect the day-to-day-work, or would actually improve coverage. Vacation days are doled out using a rigid, nonsensical system that has nothing to do with actual coverage needed in a particular area. They pay little attention to actual work performance. The union has been helpful with the policies that break contract rules, but can’t do much about things that aren’t in the contract — which adds to the whole rigidity thing.

    Anyone work in a more flexible healthcare environment? A hospital with sane policies? I would love to put in a year here and find a better facility, but I’m worried it’s like this everywhere. The pay is good but the administration is terrible. I’m a licensed professionals with a graduate degree and my (very skilled, high-performing) coworkers and I are constantly being treated like 16-year-old snack stand employees.

    1. anon for this*

      In my experience, hospitals are pretty rigid across the board. If you’re looking for something closer to the nonprofit world, I’d look at college counseling centers, but your pay will take a hit. Good luck!

      1. AMT*

        That’s exactly what I’m worried about, sadly! I could pretty easily get a job at an outpatient clinic (and have had several offers in the last year or so), but I’d take a $15-20k hit and lose the union benefits. For $20k a year, I might as well drown my culture fit sorrows in margaritas on vacation somewhere nice.

    2. Landlocked Thalassophile*

      Yes, hospitals do tend to be very rigid. The same policies apply across the board, from the dishwashers in the cafeteria to the pharmacist to the security officers to the nurses. It can get very frustrating! I don’t do direct patient care at all, and every five years I have to attend a full day seminar on how to safely move a patient from a bed to a wheelchair without hurting my back. Been employed there 15 years and have yet to even go into a patient room in the course of my job, much less have to move a patient. But ALL employees have to take that training.
      And I think it would not go over well if there were tiered systems with different policies, where some employees got away with clocking in late and others did not. Maybe it doesn’t affect the day-to-day in YOUR department, but in others it probably does.
      The super close attention to detail and everything-must-be-charted-because-lawsuits culture of heath care probably contributes, too.

      1. AMT*

        Yeah, I realize that a lot of this is due to safety and legal stuff. With time off, my concern was more with the fact that vacation day rules aren’t responsive to actual coverage. Social workers *used* to be able to coordinate their days off with the other staff in their individual units so that no one got too swamped. Then a senior social worker complained that some junior social worker in a totally different unit got a day that she wanted. Now there’s a rule that no more than 3 social worker in the entire hospital can be off at the same time. This means that, technically, my entire unit could take a week off if no other social workers wanted the days — even though it would throw everything into chaos because no one has the training to cover our unit — but God forbid I want to take a day off at the same time as someone in a totally different part of the hospital. Basically, none of the higher-ups like flexibility — there’s got to be some “rule” about every little thing because management doesn’t want to manage.

    3. The OG Anonsie*

      This has always been my experience in hospitals, and it’s why I decided to change careers and get the entire hell away from them.

    4. Book Lover*

      Generally, I need to arrange time off about 4-6 months in advance, and there are limits to how many people can be off at a time. If I am sick, I call out, but too many sick days result in needing to see occupational medicine to figure out why that is happening. There is no flex time, and comp time is not relevant to my particular practice. Healthcare environments are typically set up with the needs of the patients being the priority, rather than flexibility for workers. So, in other words, other than the clocking in, what you are finding seems pretty standard.

  57. CBH*

    Hi All
    I graduated college 15+ years ago. A family friend offered me a side job when I graduated. “Jake” was not the most organized person. This job involved me helping out a few times a month organizing his office and also working in the business which was indirectly related to my field. Even now years later, even though I’ve outgrown the job it was some nice pocket money on the side. Despite Jake having the reputation of getting his money’s worth, he always treated me professionally. He’s someone you want to keep on your toes. I don’t want to say watch your back but Jake’s opinion is business is business, friends are friends. Jake is good friends with my parents and has been extremely helpful to me and my husband with contacts and business questions.

    Jake recently retired and sold his business. A few of his clients asked me to help them out while searching for a new representative. Jake agreed to mentor me on the areas of the business I was not familiar with. We had a “disagreement” about my last paycheck from Jake since I was his employee one day and had my own business the next. I asked other mentors about this situation hypothetically and their responses were 50/50. It became a situation of you say potaTOE, I say poTAHto. I took the hit financially given that all Jake has done for my family and the fact that I still needed Jake’s mentoring and business advice in the future. I felt like I was (pardon my language) screwed in the deal and lost a lot of money because of it, but it is what it is.

    Before you ask we had nothing in writing during this transition. I always viewed this as a side job helping a friend and it took a while for me realize that I actually am “the boss” now
    So year end is approaching. I would like to get my contacts a small something. My husband and I originally planned on getting Jake a gift certificate to a resturaunt he likes, but now I’m not so sure. On one hand, in my opinion, I lost hundreds of dollars. On the other Jake is a family friend who has been a wealth of information to me now and in the future. If I had to go outside of Jake for opinions, it would of cost me thousands of dollars. What you everyone else do.

    1. Anion*

      I’d give a really nice gift, and a letter thanking Jake for all he’d taught me and done for me. I know money is important, but it isn’t everything, and it sounds like there was a genuine disagreement/misunderstanding, not like Jake thought at the end there, “Ah, this is my chance to screw CBH! FINALLY!”

      He’s done a ton for you, by your own admission, opened doors for you that you might never have been able to open yourself, and now you have your own business. He’s mentored you for years. IMO you should focus on that and let one misunderstanding go, even if it cost you some money (which I understand the importance of, trust me, we don’t have anywhere near a lot of money ourselves…but I still think some things are more important).

      JMO, of course.

      1. CBH*

        I do think I am going to go for the gift certificate. Part of me was asking on AAM was to make sure I was doing the right thing despite it all. I don’t deny anything you say. Money is not everything and I am trying to build a business (my second one!). I agree that I owe A LOT to Jake. I guess I was just hurt when it all happened, as such a situation never crossed my mind. I’m also looking at it as a learning experience and it has helped me in figuring out future guidelines for both my businesses and my husband.

        Anion thank you for your reply and getting back to me.

        1. Anion*

          Oh, I can totally, totally understand you being hurt! I’m sorry I didn’t mention it in my reply. I’d be hurt, too, maybe even feeling a bit betrayed; I imagine it feels like he didn’t value you as much as you thought/hoped or as much as you valued him, even, and I get the sense that he was something of a mentor/father-type figure so that can be especially painful (forgive me if I’m wrong/misreading your post). But you said Jake is one of those, “Money and business are money and business; friendship and feelings are something entirely different,” types of people–the types of people who can completely separate their emotions from their finances, and put “business first” no matter what. I’ve known people like that myself, and they’re absolutely shocked when you mention that to some people money means more than that.

          I suspect he sees what happened as purely a business issue that has no bearing on your relationship with him at all. If I were you I’d try very hard to look at it the same way–not because any other way is wrong or you’re wrong to feel the way you do, but because I try to focus on the positive for my own well-being, and feel better myself when I’m able to do so (which is not all the time, heh, but I do try).

          If Jake didn’t care about you he wouldn’t have kept you around and taught you so much. That’s where I’d put my focus.

    2. TCO*

      Is there any kind of charitable donation (even, for instance, to a scholarship fund for your industry org) that Jake would find meaningful? If you donated in his name as your gift, maybe you’d feel a little better about spending the money. (This wouldn’t work for everyone–don’t do it if you know it would rub Jake the wrong way.)

      1. CBH*

        To be honest Jake supports a lot of charities dear to his heart. In addition Jake is involved in a lot of organizations and many charities where his participation is more than a monetary donation. For example he is on the board for an international charity helping the US and abroad. On his own dime he donates to this cause and is constantly having to physically go places to put out fires and reorganize things for the charity…. and that’s just 1 charity. He has other businesses where he is a silent partner, other charities and clubs/ organizations that peak his interests.

        Part of why I was going to do the resturaunt gift certificate is that he is a man that even in retirement both him and his wife never slow down. He mentioned a few weeks ago that it’s been a while since they had a nice leisurely meal.

        I do want to point out after rereading my post. I’m not angry at Jake, I just was so shocked by the situation and how it was handled. Financially it’s a lesson in life and as Anion said it truly was a misunderstanding.

        1. Specialk9*

          Are you sure you’re not angry at Jake? I would be. It sounds like you may at least be hurt by Jake’s actions. I only ask because my sister tends not to let herself have feelings, especially in business, but then gets ambushed suddenly. Emotions just are, and it seems like Jake is simultaneously a decent person who’s helped you, and someone who was callous about your losing money because of him. So if you have feelings, that’s ok.

          To the question, should you buy him a gift. Yes. That’s separate from the feeling question, that’s good business.

          1. CBH*

            You nailed it exactly. I’m hurt but not angry at Jake. Looking at the bigger picture I realize it’s just a lesson in the normal course of business. Yes I do plan on getting a gift for all he has done for me.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Right on. I have a friend who helps me with my house. Some days I felt he made out a little too well money wise on a project. then there were other days where I know for a fact that I underpaid him.

              Looking at this as an ongoing story will really help you. I felt that my friend had to have some wins also or else what is the point of him helping me? He can’t underprice everything. If he does he will probably stop helping me. If I look at any given situation I will have questions/concerns. If I look at the overall and the many problems he has fixed, I am not worried in the least.

  58. PinkElephant*

    How much overtime should I work after giving my two weeks notice?

    I recently gave my two weeks notice at a company where we work about 60-80 hours for 7 months out of the year. We are currently in this busy time and I recently gave my two weeks notice.

    During these last two weeks I am still working 10-11 hrs a day (50-55 hours a week), but my employer keeps pressuring me to also come in on the 2 weekends I have left. I’ve been working about 65 hours for about 6 weeks and want to go back to a “normal” work schedule so I can start my new job refreshed. My manager asked me to work until the 15th (a Sunday). I explained my first day is the 16th and I need to make my last day the 12th so I can recharge before starting my new job. I do feel bad about leaving at this time, but the reason we work so many hours during this time is because of poor management. I am doing the best I can without working weekends as I need time to recharge and don’t want to start my new job mentally exhausted. Should I still come in on the weekends? I don’t want to have a bad reference from them. I’ve heard talk around the office that they are bringing it up to other coworkers. My other coworkers have advised me not to come in on the weekend because management here takes advantage of the employees. They do not work as much as we do.

    Thanks and sorry for the long rant!

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      HOLD FIRM AND DO NOT GIVE REASONS. Practice your best Miss Manners-style “that will not be possible.”

      If you give reasons, your boss will try to argue you out of them. The unspoken reason of “what are you going to do, fire me?” is more than enough.

      This sort of thing happens in advertising — not all the time, but enough. It’s obnoxious. I think you probably need to work more than 4o hours a week till the end so that your boss can’t say “she totally checked out her last two weeks” when asked for a reference down the line. But I would say 50 hours, not 65, and certainly not weekends.

      It’s probably too late now, but in your shoes I’d have negotiated a start date of a week later with the new job. Not so you could work the weekend for your current place, but so you can take a detox week in between.

      1. PinkElephant*

        Yes that was my plan, but they took about a week to clear the background/drug test and I was advised not to give notice until everything clears. That would have put my start date about 5 weeks after the initial interview (4 weeks after the offer). For future reference, is this okay?

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          Yes, absolutely! You can say you’d like to start 3 weeks from the date you give notice and I can’t imagine most hiring managers would bat an eyelash.

        2. Susan K*

          Yes, that’s very normal! My background check and drug test results took a lot longer than they originally said, so I asked to push back my start date by two weeks and they were totally fine with it. There might be cases where the new job is in a hurry for you to start, but it shouldn’t hurt to ask.

      2. Snark*

        All of this. You are not obligated to work ridiculous overtime or weekend days in your notice period.

    2. LCL*

      How much overtime do you want to work? In your post you say basically none. And you already have another job lined up.
      If the answer is none, just say ‘sorry I can’t’. Be prepared for them to tell you if you feel that way to just go now. I had a job do that to me once, I had been hired to start my other job in 2 weeks. So I said OK bye and enjoyed my two weeks vacation at Christmas. It was glorious.

      1. PinkElephant*

        I am working about 55 hours still, so still quite a bit. I’m also salary so I don’t get paid extra. I am working to complete all the work that has already been assigned to me, but they want to assign more work.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          Keep the convo to “these three things are what I can accomplish in my remaining time.” If someone wants to add another project to your plate, “Okay, which of X, Y, and Z should I drop in order to do that?” If you get a “You need to do all of it,” you can say, “I’ll do as much as I can, and I plan to prioritize it in the order of X, Y, Z, then A. But I can’t promise I’ll have all of it finished before I leave.”

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      You need to raise your elegant eyebrows, say ‘Oh, I can’t deal with that,’ and not only don’t work weekends, but quit working unpaid overtime. What are they going to do? You have the power to push back and get some rest for your new job. Yay for the new job!

    4. Student*

      None. You work overtime (assuming exempt) to impress a boss or get things done so that you can earn promotions and the like, and eventually earn more money. You won’t be working there any more, so there is no reason for you to put in extra effort, to go above and beyond. You won’t ever get more money from them. It won’t improve your references from them. No reasonable person will expect you to do it, though some will ask because they want to guilt as much work out of you as possible.

      If non-exempt, then work as many overtime hours as you want to earn more money.

      1. zora*

        Yeah, and if they are pissed, what is their bad reference going to be? “She refused to come in weekends and work extra overtime at the end of her notice period.” That sounds insane, and any reasonable new employer is going to dismiss them as crazypants.

    5. Specialk9*

      None. Work 40 hour weeks, no weekends. Them giving you extra work after you give notice is, well, obviously effective, but it’s brass balls territory. Don’t reward it.

  59. Seal*

    Question for the collective. I recently applied for a job that would essentially be a lateral transfer and have a phone interview coming up. As I work in a relatively small niche in my profession, I’m fairly confident that not many people applied and that I have a good chance of moving forward in the interview process. However, this same organization just posted an administrative position that is more in line with my career goals and would be a step up for me; the position I have the phone interview for would report to the administrative position. Based on the job description, I have the experience and qualifications necessary to be a good candidate the administrative position as well. So I’m trying to decide how to proceed. Should I apply for this new position and withdraw my application from the original position? Proceed with the phone interview and go from there? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Rainbow Hair Chick*

      I would proceed with the phone interview for sure. I’d also apply for the job you actually want too. It shows you have a great interest in working for the company. I’d mention in the phone interview that you have also applied for “X” position too as it fits your skill set as well.

      1. clow*

        I second this. I have actually done this before and was interviewed for both positions. I ended up being asked by HR which I would prefer because both departments were interested in extending an offer. Good luck!

  60. Just Wondering*

    Can you be a judge without being a lawyer in the US? Would you just run for a judge seat?

    1. MoinMoin*

      I believe it depends on the local/state regulations, and some may require that you still have a law degree. I think it’s really too varied across the US to give a general answer, but certainly someone more knowledgeable will speak up if I’m incorrect.

    2. chickadee*

      It varies highly by state, and if it is allowed, it is typically for low level magisterial-type positions (Montana’s Justices of the Peace that hear misdemeanor criminal cases, for example, or the judges of the former Philadelphia Traffic Court). Offhand, I know there are some in Texas and New York as well. Typically there is some kind of training or certification required, but it’s in the neighborhood of hours rather than years of study.

      Most states don’t have elections for judges either, only 20 elect trial-level judges and only 8 of those elect appellate-level judges.

      1. Just Wondering*

        Cool, thanks for the info! I recall the last time I voted that I had to pick or approve judges??? I’ll look into it more as I might definitely be wrong. I live in a large County in a populous state, so all our judges have been lawyers for a minimum of 20 years it seems.

        1. Anon for this*

          I live in West Virginia. Candidates need to have practiced the law for ten years or so and meet a few other residency requirements, but they are elected by average everyday voters. The elections even used to be partisan, they changed to non-partusan in 2025 or so. Thus us for Supreme Court and circuit court judges. For magistrate style judges there are elections as well, with the qualifications bar being much lower. So there are definitely states where judges are elected, though the requirements on bring a lawyer vary.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      In NY local level judges do not have to have a law degree. And many do not. I think county level and up have more stringent requirements.

  61. Friday Night*

    Not a comment – just a vent. I had a gong show of a day-long interview this week. I feel like it went as badly as it possibly could have given that I was prepared and that no one actually had it out for me

    For starters they offered me an interview but only gave me 4-10 days lead time and they asked me to prepare 2 x 1 hour presentations as part of the process. The presentations are normal for my field, but as a result we usually get at least a month of notice.

    Day of the interview, the chair of the search committee was unexpectedly absent – the chair was a mile away waiting for a phone repair. I ended up starting my 1st presentation 1/2 an hour late when we realized he wasn’t going to make it, and they recorded it so he could watch it later. I did have a lovely interview/discussion with a man who is a big name in my field who kept me company until the chair showed up. All of my other interview panels went well but when it came time for my second presentation – a chunk of it was taken up with the chair arguing with one of my other interviewers about how to ask me questions. Then after the presentation as we walked to dinner, the two of them proceeded to yell at each other as they walked behind the main group – not quite out of ear shot.

    Now, neither of these people would actually be my boss if I worked there, but they would be senior… and man I’ve just realized that I met maybe 30 people during my interview, and the only woman I met was the administrative assistant.

    1. A girl has no name*

      Get out, get out now! Clearly they don’t have their stuff together (haven’t even decided how to interview before starting), don’t conform to industry norms (tiny window to prepare for those presentations), and are probably a toxic work environment (two senior staff members yelling at each other in public, in front of a potential new employer). The other stuff could be overlooked if the job/benefits/location/etc is otherwise excellent and you really want it…but those two yelling at each other is something I wouldn’t overlook as I doubt it was a one-time thing and will probably make your life miserable.

    2. medium of ballpoint*

      Listen to your instincts! If people can’t keep themselves together for the single day they’re interacting with you, that doesn’t bode well for what it’ll be like to work there day to day.

      (Relatedly, I think I posted here once about how it would be so nice to be able to walk away from a long interview like this. I’ve had some pretty ridiculous interviews and it’s so demoralizing knowing at hour two that you’d rather work for Satan himself than take this job, but you still have 8+ hours to go. Oof.)

    3. consultant*

      Is it consulting?

      I just finished looking for a job and had maybe 10 interviews with consulting companies in the process. Met about 30 consultants. Two of them were women (as my would-be peers, not bosses).

      The field is full of sexism unfortunately.

      1. Friday Night*

        Being the principle investigator of a lab – so academics, but it’s a pretty technical sub-specialty.

  62. Anon For This Of Course*

    I have a crush on my boss, which is bad enough. The kicker? We’re both women, and both in straight relationships. I know it’s terrible, but I can’t stop thinking about her. Any advice for how to get my brain to cut it out, or thoughts from folks who have gone through something similar before would be welcomed. Thanks, all.

    1. Elfie*

      I’m a woman, and I’ve only ever had one work crush that was also on a woman (fortunately not my boss!). I treated it like I treated all my crushes – great for fantasy fodder, but only because it is fantasy. I’ve been involved with someone I worked with before, and it didn’t end particularly well, so although I might fantasise about them, I definitely wouldn’t want to take it into reality territory. Most of my crushes don’t last all that long (some have lasted months, one lasted the entire time I spent at a job). If you’re in a relationship and you’re generally happy with your relationship (so the crush isn’t signifying anything that’s wrong, which can sometimes be the case), I’d just ride it out. Enjoy the fantasy in your own time, but try extra hard not to bring it into the office in any way. But that’s only my opinion.

      1. EddieSherbert*


        I also recommend you do NOT friend/follow her on various social media (it’s too easy to start watching them a bit too closely). I had a long-lasting crush on a coworker I didn’t see very often and we were briefly FB friends and I was a bit too interested in their life, haha, whoops.

        Bonus: Captain Awkward is a good advice resource of awkward-feelings. I don’t know if this exact thing has come up, but she has a lot “getting over people” and “treat/forgive yourself” tips!

        1. Valkyrie*

          +1000 for the CA recommendation; I think there was a letter about this relatively recently!

    2. medium of ballpoint*

      One thing I’d recommend is talking to friends about this and getting support, particularly if you’re in a relationship. Something similar is happening to Coworker Friend and I know she feels better knowing that we’re looped in and can help her be accountable and ensure her work behavior is appropriate.

      I’d also encourage you not to pick up these thoughts and play with them every time they occur. “Yup, okay, there’s that thought about Boss again. Let’s get my focus back on what I was doing” is a helpful strategy. The more you engage with these thoughts the more weight they carry in your own mind, the more they crowd out other thoughts, and the more they start to feel like they’re taking over everything and turning this into A Very Big Deal. Identify the thought, let it go, and get back to what you were doing.

      Good luck!

      1. Specialk9*

        Oh gosh no, don’t tell friends you have a crush on your boss! Ack! No, that will get out so fast.

        2 people can keep a secret, so long as 1 on them is dead.

        1. Natalie*

          I think non-coworker friends would be fine / low risk. I mean, isn’t that part of the reason we have friends, so we don’t have to go through everything alone?

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Are you sure it’s a crush in the romantic sense or do you just really admire her?

      1. Anion*

        Yes. I often liken forming a new friendship or work relationship with someone to falling in love–you have those moments of excitement when you find out new things about a person, you look forward to seeing them, you hope for their attention, you think about them and what you’ll say when you see them, you wonder if they like you as much as you like them, you want to know if they think about you, you admire them in many ways…you start wanting to spend more and more time with them and they become increasingly important.

        Those feelings are often romantic-feeling in nature or similar to romantic feelings, but not necessarily sexual (although they can easily be confused). It’s very easy for a person to mistake their “Gosh, Becky is so great, I wonder if she likes me, too?” for feeling romantic about Becky.

        (Lol, I once chased away a new friend by saying I thought forming a new friendship was like falling in love; she apparently thought I was coming on to her.)

        Of course, that being said, straight people do sometimes form crushes on same-sex people that are distinct romantic crushes, too. It happens. It’s not a big deal. We can’t control who we’re attracted to, even if it’s someone we normally wouldn’t be.

        1. Specialk9*

          I mean, yeah, but you’re not straight then. (Most of us aren’t.) I find the Kinsey Scale useful – all gay, all straight, and several shades of in between. Though it’s a simplification of complexity too.

          1. Fiennes*

            I don’t know that I agree a same-sex crush makes you “not straight.” It’s possible for crushes to feel romantic but not sexual; it’s also possible to feel theoretical attraction that wouldn’t carry over into the real world.

            Tl;dr – let’s just let everyone define their own preferences.

    4. Stop That Goat*

      Unfortunately, if it is a crush, I’m not sure there’s much you can do but ride it out. It will pass with some time.

        1. Stop That Goat*

          It’s tough! I had a (thankfully) short lived crush on the straight married guy that I had to share an office with. I didn’t have the boss dynamic involved but I had to be around him every day, all day. It was REALLY distracting.

          1. Specialk9*

            I often get crushes on bosses I really admire. It’s no big deal, you just watch your language and body language, and hold the metaphorical reins on yourself just a touch tighter than usual.

  63. A girl has no name*

    I’ve been very frustrated lately with my job search because I feel like I no longer have any good options for references. I have one good reference I trust from a long-term job, but it has been several years since I worked with them. My other two main references are more recent, but even though they’ve happily agreed to serve as references, I get this feeling that they aren’t portraying me in a light that matches what I’ve put on my resume because I have pretty good reason to think that they and their staff have taken credit for some of my work since I left. This leaves me in a lurch, because without those two as references I only have a few options and they are just part-time customer service jobs that have nothing to do with my field. They are good for talking about my character and work ethic, but it just looks like I am hiding something if I don’t provide references from those recent positions that are directly related to what I am applying for.

    1. Dovahkiin*

      Have you felt like you had the job after the final interview only to lose it after the reference checks?

      It might help to give your references your resume and just say something like “Thank you so much for agreeing to be a reference. I’ve attached my updated resume and I’m sure that Job X will be looking for things like A, B, and C from you.”

      1. Definitely NOT a T-Rex*

        I like this.

        Also, as much as this would suck (though I do not know your industry norms), it may be worth considering freelance/short-term/contract opportunities if you try Dovahkiin’s suggestion and still aren’t getting anywhere. Someone close to me had sent out ~400 applications before landing his first great job. Before that his most successful job search story was landing a one-year contract, but through that experience he was able to impress the people he worked with and they, in turn, were able to serve as positive, fresher, and more relevant references for him. Two applications after switching up who his references were, he landed that great job.

        Good luck!

    2. Melody Pond*

      Sorry, I know this is off-topic, but I happen to be watching season 6 of Game of Thrones right now, and I just had to say how much I love your handle and how much delight I experienced upon seeing it. :)

  64. Chilladelphia215*

    LinkedIn: in some cases, can it hurt more than it helps?

    I have experience in two different fields (human resources, and social services). I am hesitant to create a LinkedIn profile because I feel it may undermine my attempt to market myself as a good fit for each field. Currently, I’m unemployed, so my focus is on getting a job ASAP. My preference is social services, but I am also open to human resource assistant positions as well since I have experience in this area (the basic office administration side of human resources. Unfortunately, I do not have experience as an HR specialist). Whenever I apply for a human resources job, I carefully craft my resume to downplay my experience in social services and focus on my qualifications for human resources – and vice versa, for when I’m applying for social service positions. Since most hiring managers want to know where I can see myself in 5 years, I BS my way into saying “I’d really like to grow in X role and stay in the field of {human resources or social services}.” I am worried that if I create a LinkedIn profile, it will make me seem like too much of a dabbler. After all, I don’t want to make it sound like I am open to a job in social services OR human resources, since that contradicts what I am telling hiring managers. Does anyone have advice for how to handle this, if I do decide to create a LinkedIn profile? Or is it better off that I just avoid LinkedIn entirely given my situation?

    1. JulieBulie*

      I have a friend who created two different LinkedIn profiles for a similar reason. (You can put the URL of the one you prefer on your resume.) I’m not sure if this is logistically straightforward or even if it does any good, but it is one way of getting around the problem if the LinkedIn profile you have doesn’t say what you want it to say to some people.

      However, since you apparently don’t have a linkedin profile yet and have been getting along just fine without one, you really don’t need to create one for this job search.

    2. consultant*

      I was in a similar situation to yours and had the impression my profile on linkedin was actually undermining my chances. If I were you I wouldn’t create one for now.

      I currently have one, since my profile got clearer now and I know in what direction I want to go, but I still avoid adding details that can limit my flexibility when job searching.

  65. WannabeProf*

    Any advice on applying to faculty positions at a university, when you don’t have any formal teaching experience yet?

    My plan was to apply to adjunct at a local community college first, after I finished my master’s, but a position is currently open at my undergraduate uni in the exact field I want to teach. I want to go ahead and apply, in the hopes that maybe my education and publishing credits might make them consider me. I know it’s a long-shot, but I don’t want this opportunity to pass, without me at least trying.

    So, advice, tips, anything, about moving to academia?

    I do currently work in higher ed, but on the staff side — advising — so I do work with students on a daily basis, but not as a professor.

    1. Helpful*

      It’s a long shot, since there is such a glut of Master’s and Ph.D. students w/o tenure track jobs. Perhaps apply to local community colleges to try to get some teaching experience under your belt.

    2. deesse877*

      First, what you need to be able to do to adjunct is hit the ground running. Could you write a whole semester’s syllabus (and possibly choose textbooks) for the classes they have available within a matter of hours? Could you plan two weeks’ worth of classes, including many non-lecture in-class activities that clearly fulfill defined educational goals, without asking for advice? If yes, you are employable as an adjunct. This is true even if you know for a fact that they will require you to use a preset curriculum, because what it’s about is keeping all the wheels turning smoothly. Relatedly, advising would probably not strike some adjunct-hirers as relevant experience, because it’s not about imparting mastery of skills or information.

      Second, I was recently tangentially involved with hiring in an academic department, and I was frankly shocked at how poor most applications completed by people holding Masters’ degrees were. Academic applications are really, really different from regular ones (which you almost certainly know already) but it seemed apparent that most people in that pool did not achieve a full understanding of the conventions if they hadn’t done a Ph.D. To be clear, I mean basic things like including all required materials, not including random stuff, and writing the cover letter in an appropriate voice. I can’t know for certain, but it looked like a lot of people thought mandatory things were optional, and/or that creativity and personality (and guilt trips!) were good. Nope.

      Finally, don’t be an adjunct at all unless you are in a field where you are able to command a living wage, or plan to do it merely as a hobby or form of professional service. It is definitely NOT a path to permanent employment in most institutions.

      1. WannabeProf*

        Yes, I’ve been doing a lot of research on academic applications, especially the academic CV, which I’m learning is vastly different from a resume.

        Your thoughts are very helpful, thanks!

      2. Artemesia*

        I agree. Being an adjunct is likely to hurt chances for permanent employment but then permanent college faculty jobs usually go to PhDs of whom there are way too many. I am surprised any college is even considering masters degree applicants for faculty positions. (with the exceptions of MFAs in the arts or MBAs in business and even in those fields doctorates are becoming important.)

      3. Traveling Teacher*

        +1000 for all of this! As a former adjunct, you have to be willing to get by with a minimum of hand-holding and a lot of creativity. For many of my former positions, I was simply given a short, bullet point list of things that should be addressed during the semester. No budget for textbooks, I had to come up with materials myself. (These were not US positions!) I ran things by my boss and other colleagues to get a sense of whether or not I was going in the right direction, but that was about it. I did have a truly excellent boss who went to bat for us, but she didn’t have a lot of power, compared to the other, independently funded scientific departments…

        They were really fun classes to teach, but they were also the most exhausting jobs I’ve ever had, and I started to develop a couple of serious health issues as a result. When I worked out the hourly salary, I was basically making 4 euros/hour with no hope of a raise (we were only paid for 30mins prep time per class per week, which is…laughable, at best). If I would have stayed in longer, I could have probably made it into an 8-12 euro an hour job because I would not have been writing all curriculum, lessons, and tests from scratch…but even at that point, as an MFA, you’re still probably better off getting a job as a barista and using your free time to write the next great novel, teaching just one class/semester to keep your hand in! ;)

    3. HigherEdPhD*

      Is this position in the U.S.? If so, most faculty job postings have minimum degree requirements that are listed on the posting. You currently have a bachelor’s degree, which is the U.S. wouldn’t qualify you to hold a faculty position at most four-year degree granting institutions. For most faculty positions you will need the terminal degree in your field, if the master’s degree is that degree (e.g. MFA) and you are scheduled to graduate in May, you can apply for the position. If the terminal degree is a PhD, then you should not waste your time applying as you are woefully under qualified.

      Staff advising and faculty work are two entirely different fields. While there are many transferrable skills, you will need to highlight how you can be an effective faculty member with your background.

      If the position is outside the U.S., ignore my comments!

    4. GT*

      There’s no harm in applying. A lot of these jobs are about connections, once everyone has reached the bare minimum in qualifications. Can you reach out to someone in the department where you want to teach to talk with them informally?

    5. AnonAcademic*

      Others have addressed the qualification issue, but I have a different question: how do you know you want to teach undergraduates if you’ve never done it before? I’ve done it a lot, and am quite good at it, but it is EXHAUSTING and I couldn’t do it full time. I’ve mentored people who have the same experience with research – it sounds great till they’re doing it and then they realize they hate the day to day responsibilities. If I were on a search committee it would take some serious convincing to hire someone green because they think they’ll like it. Also most faculty jobs require a teaching statement that is basically your teaching style and philosophy. It’s a really hard thing to with experience, never mind speculatively.

      That said, the worst thing that happens is you are turned down for lack of experience, so if you have the time to invest in prepping your materials it’s up to you if that opportunity cost is worth it.

  66. PM-NYC*

    Any tips for staying focused & motivated while job searching?

    I was laid off in August from a job that was not a good fit but I’ve been finding it hard to be diligent with the job search now that my days have no structure.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Would changing physical location help? Deciding, for example, that a coffee shop is now your workplace (your work being “Find a job”) instead of being at home on your couch or bed “finding a job”? Sometimes compartmentalizing can help: from 8am to noon, I’m going to go to the coffee shop and do only job-search-related things. After noon, I’m going to go home and do leisurely things.

    2. Murphy*

      The last time I was job searching, I scheduled specific days/times for myself to do it. I agree with AE that a change of location along with this could help.

    3. PM-NYC*

      These are good suggestions, thanks! I think part of the issue is I feel like I have to spend 8 hours a day, every day, job searching, which maybe isn’t realistic.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        Maybe at first. But once you’re on to the stage where you’re only looking at new, relevant postings, there are some serious diminishing returns after the first hour you put in each day job hunting.

    4. Linden*

      I have been applying to jobs for about a year now (though I was a full-time student through May, so it’s only been about 4 months of no structure). I have five tips, based on what worked for me (so feel free to take them if they’re helpful and leave them if they’re not):

      1) break down your job applications into smaller tasks that you can complete in one sitting. For example, print off a checklist of tasks in which you have “thoroughly read job description, highlighting keywords to use in my application,” “adjust resume to job description,” “draft cover letter,” “revise cover letter,” “revise resume,” and “submit application online” as separate items. In my experience, I can’t complete an entire application in one sitting, so approaching that one big item on the to-do list is overwhelming. It also helps you feel more successful because even if you don’t get everything done on the to-do list, you can at least see progress, and that sense of progress can usually fuel more progress, since (in my experience) getting demoralized is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome in the job search.

      2) On that note, I would recommend adding some non-job-search-related items to your check list, and make them a habit (that is, make them the same items every day). The reason being that looking for a job can make you feel like crap, and if you’re like most people, it takes a huge amount of time and effort before you see any results, and I honestly don’t think humans (much less other animals) were made to be motivated that way. So I think you need something else to feel good about yourself for, something where you can see progress. I think this can be anything that is important to you, and where progress will make you feel good about yourself.

      In my case, the things I added to my checklist in addition to “apply to a job” were “write down three gratitudes,” “do something kind for someone else,” “read a chapter in the Bible,” “pray for at least three people other than myself,” and “exercise,” based on aspects of myself I wanted to work on. I made a short version of this list with just the tasks, and a version with blanks to fill in each day (like a blank to write down the type of exercise I did, the chapter I read, the position/organization I applied to, the things I was grateful for, etc.). This sort of simulated a worksheet and made it feel more worklike. I also liked that I could look back and see what I had accomplished. (It may seem silly, but the feelings of failure that tend to accompany unemployment can be debilitating, and I think anything to combat that helps.) Also, as you may have noticed, these are things that are free, get me out of my own head a bit, and are generally designed to put me in a positive mindset. You might not need this yet, but after a year of job searching, I definitely did! It’s rough out there.

      3) Make an appointment to see someone (job-related). A career counselor or coach (if your alma mater still offers this service to you, or for hire if you think it would be helpful), a recruiter, networking leads (informational interviews), whatever. This brings in an element of the structure having a job- a place to be at a certain time, someone to interact with professionally, getting dressed professionally, preparing for a meeting, following up, etc.- at the same time that it moves you forward in your job search.

      4) As others mentioned, a change of scenery! I love the outdoors, so I went to gardens and the grounds of historic houses (on days and times that entry was free) to work on my applications. It’s something I could never have done while employed, so I felt like I was really taking advantage of the situation while at the same increasing my productivity. It felt great to work in a beautiful environment. It was also helpful to have a break from internet distractions for a few hours. It also adds an element of structure once again- getting up, showering, getting dressed, and getting somewhere at a certain time.

      5) Assign one day each week to be your day off from the job search and stick to it-absolutely no working on the job search that day, not even a little. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but it helped me a lot. I made Sunday my day of rest and on Mondays I always felt so refreshed and ready to jump back in, and it also helped me to gain some perspective, better evaluate what I was doing, and just see things more clearly in general.

      Unemployment can be extremely demoralizing. Don’t get discouraged. Good luck!

      1. Traveling Teacher*

        Such great ideas! I love your worksheet and will be passing that idea on to an unemployed friend who is searching for ways to get more structure into her days.

        One thing I did while temporarily unemployed (every summer basically, due to short-term contracts :/) was to spend just a half hour per day working towards a personal project. For me, that was writing, but it could be anything that you enjoy that produces a result. It made me feel less guilt for taking time “off” from the job search to give it a start/stop time, and it was also a small, achievable goal!

  67. More anonymous than usual*

    So my boss has lately been in “you get a raise” mode, and I’ve gotten many unsolicited raises in the last few years (which I’m grateful for, believe me). Now I’m at the top of the range for my title, and boss wants to lobby to get me a new title, so I can get a higher range.

    The only issue (small issue, I know) is that boss wants my new title to be Teapot Data Analyst, which is a respectable title that does command some money, but it’s absolutely not at all what I do. I’m more like Teapot Engineer (also a respectable title that can command some money). I showed boss several people’s LinkedIn profiles with Teapot Data Analyst and others with Teapot Engineer and said I believe the latter fits more what I do, but I think boss is still going to go ahead and try to change my title to Teapot Data Analyst.

    Has anyone else had this happen to them? I don’t think it’s the end of the world (or my career), just odd.

    1. TCO*

      This is where the difference between “official title in the HR system” and “working title” can help you. Alison has some great posts on how to handle this on LinkedIn and resumes. It’s pretty common and could help make sure that the outside world still has an accurate understanding of what you do. It’s possible that your boss might even be okay with you continuing to use the Engineer title in your e-mail signature, etc. if their main goal is to get you into a new pay bracket and they don’t really care about the titles.

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      Unless you’re an in industry where titles really matter, like academia or law, it might be moot. In my field, Associate Technician and Senior Staff Scientist III could be doing the exact same work at different companies. In my field, hiring managers understand that and ignore titles almost completely, unless they’re familiar with how titles work at a particular company.

    3. More anonymous than usual*

      Thanks for the comments. I don’t think it’ll hurt my career if I ever look for another job (not planning to leave any time soon). Some of the stuff I do is niche enough that future employers would be looking for those keywords in the description and not the title. I just find it odd, that’s all.

  68. AdAgencyChick*

    Saying a great big “Bye, Felicia” to our awful account executive, who was fired earlier this week. I feel bad for her as a person, since she’s a single parent. But she was making all our lives miserable and I’m so relieved not to have to work with her any more.

  69. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    An update!

    I’ve posted a couple of times (possibly anonymously? But now I’m done worrying about that.) about shenanigans with a promised promotion over the past year. (Short background: last summer I was recruited internally for a new role, which was a significant promotion and included a 30% raise. I took the job but the raise and title adjustment never came. I asked to be moved back to my old job, and over this summer I was waiting for formal offers from both my old boss and current boss so I could decide between them.)

    In early September, I got the offers. One from my current boss, with the promotion I was promised a year ago, and one from my old boss, who had created a new role to bring me back to my original team but offer (close to) the raise/promotion I was getting in the new department.

    I took the offer from my old boss! It goes into effect on Monday. I’m so excited — both by the recognition and money, but also by the opportunities that now exist in my old department. I’m sad to leave behind the work I started over the past year, but in the end I’m glad to be back doing the work that I originally came to this organization to do.

    (Also, the foster dog who has been ruining my life gets adopted today, so hurrah! It will be a weekend of celebration.)

  70. librarylady*

    I recently completed an application that required me to manually input my work history and to answer two questions specific to the job (~500 words each), among the other usual application sections, but did not ask for a resume or cover letter.

    I took this as a welcome reprieve from applications where I feel like I am providing the same information twice as a formality, but am now wondering if I should have submitted a resume and cover letter in their “supplemental documents” section, even though it was not required or mentioned. Thoughts?

    1. Chaordic One*

      Yes, I think you should have probably submitted a cover letter and resume in the “supplemental documents” section, but PLEASE don’t beat yourself up about it. The cover letter and resume provide a little extra something in your favor, but they’re not the be all, end all.

      I’ve gotten to the point that I just copy and paste the same information from my resume into the application where it calls for job description information, so I don’t think that repeating that information in a resume should make a big difference. Since you say that the application called for you to provide written responses to questions, your responses should demonstrate that you can write reasonably well (which is one of the main points of providing a cover letter).

      I hope you get an interview now. If so, you can tell us about it.

  71. NaoNao*

    I didn’t get it :(
    I’m pretty crushed, but this job would have been a relo, meaning I would have to be in an LDR for almost a year waiting for my dude to join.
    The team decided to go with someone who had a more technical background, which kind of raised a lot of fears for me.
    In the last couple years, I’ve made it to the final round in 2 prestigious, “stretch” jobs in global “glamour” companies, and both times, I got de-selected due to a missing puzzle piece of a technical background (ie, data science degree or extensive experience, engineering, math or comp sci degree or experience).
    This is a little bit frustrating because I’m not actually doing work in those fields, I’m an Instructional Designer, meaning I have to understand the material well enough to work with it, but I don’t have to teach it or be a SME in it.
    I’m now getting worried that I’ve reached a ceiling on my career path because my specialty is customer care and sales/collections/retention and in class training and to be frank, the salaries and positions for those opportunities are lower than what I’m comfortable with at this point, 8 years into my career.
    I *could* get a mini MA (a ‘nano’ degree) in data science, although my boss was like “You’d really have to sell me on it, as it’s not directly related to your current work”) for free at Current Job, but honestly….I’d have to break myself to gain the “technical background” these places seek and I simply don’t have the natural aptitude I would need to truly succeed. I’m not an engineer, scientist, coder, or IT specialist, or aeronautics person while we’re at it. I don’t specialize in Data Science or Analysis, and I have very limited experience in one small niche area of technical engineering stuff.
    I’m verge of panic here because I feel I’ve pigeonholed myself into a dying field or at best, a limited field in terms of growth, jobs, and salaries.

    1. stej*

      What about Technical Product/Program Manager roles? Those straddle very nicely between the SMEs (technical folk) and customer communications. There are obliquely technical roles which wouldn’t require a DS degree or quantitative MS/PhD, and if they do at these “glamour” companies, you might consider the role at a slightly lower tier or start-up.

    2. px*

      I would also say it’s likely to be the fact that it’s glamour companies. Smaller companies are more likely to look at what you can/have achieved than a missing degree. I would say keep trying and good luck!

  72. NotAMagicMindReader*

    I started in my first office job in late April of this year. At first, it was great – I didn’t have to deal with customers/the public anymore, I didn’t have to wear a horribly ill-fitting and unflattering uniform anymore, I would finally be treated like an adult instead of a stupid child! Now, almost six months in, I really hate my job.

    I do time and attendance for an entertainment venue – scheduling employees, making sure their hours are in the computer, writing them up, etc. I dislike write-ups because it makes the employees angry with me and less likely to cooperate with what I need from them. I dislike scheduling as I need my boss’s approval, which sometimes takes as much as two days on a schedule that needs to be sent out in one day or less. I dislike having to personally ensure that everybody’s times are in the computer, as I get blamed when employees forget their swipe card and don’t email me, or when swipes go to the wrong day and don’t get corrected in time, or when they come in three hours early and nobody told me to adjust the scheduling so they could get paid for that entire time.

    Most of all, though, my bosses only give me approximately half of the information I need to complete a task, then get upset with me for not doing the parts of the task I wasn’t told about. I do everything I’m told to the best of my ability, but I’m not magic or a mind-reader! My schedule also winds up being in this pile; my boss who does the schedule frequently forgets about creating it or sends me a temporary file that expires by the time I attempt to access it, then never remembers to print me a copy or send me a permanent file!

    She also forgets or confuses about half of what we talk about – for next week, we agreed that, while there are no events, I should come in on Thursday and Friday for practical purposes. She emailed me that instead of Wednesday (???) and Friday, it’s now Monday and Friday just in case a rarely-occurring problem comes up that needs fixed, which only requires thirty seconds of work that she could do herself without having to stretch the budget and pay me for sitting around twiddling my thumbs. Thursday would be more practical – there are regularly-occurring, necessary things to do on Thursday, and if I don’t do them on Thursday, it creates problems and extra work for Friday.

    I don’t know what to do. Our busy season starts in three weeks, and I can’t leave until that’s over without royally screwing my bosses and definitely burning bridges. I have no experience relevant to any other office-based field. The company that owns the venue where I work also owns the venue where my mother works, so we technically work for the same company, and she sort of got me the job; it might reflect badly on her for me to leave so soon, so she regularly suggests that I apply to internal job openings so I can stay under the company umbrella.

    I just want to survive our two-month-long busy season with my sanity intact, then get the hell out of Dodge. Any advice on any of this would be massively helpful.

    1. Specialk9*

      That sounds really hard. I’ve never had such an awful office job. So you’re six months in. Yeah, look now, and take it if you get another job. They’re not paying you enough to deal with that kind of stress.

    2. Linden*

      Although this job might not be ideal, it offers a lot of opportunities for learning how to deal with people (aka developing your interpersonal and communications skills); I would look at it from that perspective. Those skills will be useful in any job you have in the future. I think each of these issues is very common in some version or another, albeit maybe not all at once or to the same extent- managers only give part of the information you need to do your job; employees get mad at you for enforcing the rules; you agree on one thing with your manager and then they seem to have amnesia about it a few days later. Here are my specific suggestions on each issue, though if I were you, I would think of it as an opportunity for some trial-and-error, a challenge to see how you can effect behavior-change in other people. 1) Say something to your manager like, “it really helps me to do my job when I know X, Y, and Z.” Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions for clarification when they’re giving you orders.
      2) I think here you just have to be firm, calmly and clearly stating to your co-workers that that’s the policy and it is your job to enforce it (or whatever). You might also try to be pro-active about it, giving the whole group a reminder about it at the beginning of the week or periodically, or asking your manager to highlight the importance of this the next time they talk to the group (or in an email to the group), if you don’t feel like you have that authority.
      3) After you talk to your manager, send a follow-up email saying something along the lines of “I just wanted to summarize what we discussed today [for reference/so I don’t forget/to make sure I have the details right]:” and summarize the key points of what you discussed (such as, “we agreed that it would be most practical for me to come in on Thursdays, because there are more regularly occurring, necessary things for me to do on Thursdays.”)

  73. FriendofaTG*

    Last year, on one of the open thread days, I brought up the issue of transgender people and when a job application asks for other names you’ve used (and more specifically in the context of when an employer would not need to know the name for any practical purpose by virtue of the age of transition/name change).

    A couple of months ago I had a talk via e-mail with the California DFEH on this subject, and here’s what they said (paraphrased): An employer can ask for other names you’ve used for a pragmatic purpose like to contact a reference/former employer, verify your credentials, check your criminal history, etc. They cannot ask for example out of curiosity or as an “honesty test” (at least when discrimination is at stake with disclosing a former name).

    This basically means that if the employer would truly have no practical reason to know your former name (e.g. all of your degrees/diplomas are under and all former employers asked for on your application know you by your current name, you have no criminal history whatsoever under your old name, etc.) then an employer cannot use such an omission as an excuse to discriminate against you. However, if withholding the former name prevents the employer from being made aware of information that would be a (legally) material factor in the employment decision, then they can not hire/fire you as they would with anyone else whose background check was compromised by not disclosing all the names that relevant records were under (even if the concealment wasn’t intentional). Unfortunately, for most transgender people who transitioned much past entering adulthood, they will not be able to completely satisfy the “no practical reason to know” requirement – but for the small but growing group who transition as children or teenagers and get their names legally changed before they establish any background-check-relevant records what Alison said at the link below would apply to them as well.

    This would of course directly apply only in California, but I imagine it’d be similar in most other states where gender identity is legally protected (and it’s being tested in the courts as to whether the federal law applies to transgender discrimination or not). Obviously it wouldn’t apply either in special cases like security clearances where questions that usual employers should not ask can legally appear.

    Just thought I’d share what I was informed of here.

    1. FriendofaTG*

      One more disclaimer: IANAL, but rather as my posting name suggests I just know of someone who is transgender and have tried to seek out information on various TG-related subjects on their behalf.

      1. FriendofaTG*

        If you don’t know what that abbreviation is, “I am not a lawyer” is what it stands for.

        1. JulieBulie*

          Sometimes people say “I am NAL” instead. It still may require explanation once in a while, but does not cause the double-take that IANAL sometimes does.

    2. FriendofaTG*

      I also thought I’d touch on what I mean by “when discrimination is at stake with disclosing a former name”: Since the issue here is discrimination when a former name itself is indicative of a protected status, it is unclear or not whether that guidance would still apply in cases like a last name associated with an ex or other family member you don’t like, you didn’t like what your parents named you, etc. and you omit the name just because you prefer to leave it behind (in contrast for example to a transgender person trying to keep the fact they’ve changed gender private if possible* or someone whose birth name is negatively suggestive of their race/religion/ethnicity/etc. and who changed it to avoid such discrimination). *Likewise a transgender person who is out by choice to their perspective employer may be an “exception to an exception” since there is no issue there of avoiding an unwanted outing, but rather merely not bringing up an old name with an unwanted association.

    3. FriendofaTG*

      Another ambiguity I didn’t catch until now: with “can not hire/fire you” the “not” goes with “hire” and not as “cannot” (meaning that you CAN be treated adversely in such a case).

    4. Specialk9*

      Good info. Here’s to a future where discrimination against trans and genderqueer people is a non issue.

  74. Admin Coaching*

    One of the admins that I work with needs coaching on small things that I’d hoped would be self-explanatory. For example: when entering new clients into the database, I need her to make an educated guess about whether an email address is a “work” email address or “home” email address – if the email address we have for Monica who works at Balthazar is, you should enter that in the “work email” field, not the “home email” field.

    I’m not sure how to coach her about this. I can talk with her about each issue, but the overall problem is that I need her to make smart, well-informed choices about her work, and not need to be told how to handle every little detail.

    Important context: She is an experienced admin, although only a few months into her time with my organization. Her boss is an administrative supervisor, but she supports a number of different programs and works directly with the program staff for those areas. I’m program staff for one of the areas she supports. Our relationship is as peers; we’re not at all in the same hierarchy.

    Advice? Are my expectations reasonable? What conversation do I need to have with her?

    1. Specialk9*

      Make a list of endings that are usually personal vs professional. Someone who gets it wouldn’t need more than a 3-sec explanation. Someone who doesn’t get it would need a chart.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Is the issue not getting how to classify emails as work or home, or just not getting that you care about the categories being right?

    2. Her Grace*

      Sounds like she has issues recognising patterns. She may have a learning disability that prevents her from intuiting this.

      A few well-asked questions might help you get to the bottom of why she had issues with something you think is common sense: “I noticed you have issues with telling the difference between work and personal email addresses. Are you familiar with how domain names work?”

      This could be a case of her simply not knowing that certain things are governed by patterns and needs to be shown once how they work. Or there could be something deeper going on, including a learning disability, that makes it difficult for her to grasp what you think is something simple. If so, you might just have to give her example-by-example coaching.

  75. Dovahkiin*

    Question on Nonprofits:
    I’m a new board member and co-chair to a nonprofit that’s almost 20 years old. There have been some quirks that to me are red flags but I’d like to know if these ring alarms for anyone who works in the nonprofit industry (I come from private sector tech).

    1) Many of the budgets I’ve seen are simply copied from other organizations without any thought or effort to make sure that the budget actually works for our finances, income, and location. (The nonprofit is working with a consultant who provides these from the other nonprofits she consults with.)

    2) The accountant struggles to provide numbers and budgets for our events and simply says “I can make the numbers say whatever you want.” I think she genuinely thinks this is helpful, but I what I really want to know is “What is the budget pool for X, and can we afford Y?”

    3) They’re generally ok with the grey area of labor practices – classifying people as contractors when they qualify as temporary hires. They have a lawyer they consult with who has advised “Yes, this is an audit risk (but the org is small enough that it probably won’t be audited), and yes, this description should X because of reasons 1, 2, and 3 so this seems like a misclassification of an employee.” This doesn’t make anyone blink and they’re pretty content to keep on keeping on.

    4) There are basic logistical issues that are business as usual for them, like buying food for 100 people and booking an event space for 100 people but inviting 19,000 people (and not capping reservations). Again, they’re pretty unphased by this. Is this normal?

    These would be huge red flags in my professional world, but I’m wondering where I should set the bar for the nonprofit sector, where it seems (again, I’m new to this), that everyone kind of plays more fast and loose/seat of their pants.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      #1 is a sign of serious incompetence.

      #2 If she means “I’ll make a budget that doesn’t reflect reality,” that’s a huge problem. But maybe she just means “the budget should reflect your priorities; let me know how you want to allocate money and I’ll draw up a budget that does that.” That’s how budgets should work, so that would be normal.

      #3 should be rare but isn’t.

      #4 is a sign of pretty major incompetence and isn’t normal.

      1. Dovahkiin*

        Thank you so much for replying! For #2 – it’s more like, when planning an event to celebrate successful lobbying for new legislation, I ask “What discretionary money do we have left that’s not allocated to programs in Q4?” and she says “I can make the numbers say whatever you want.”

        When I ask to see the budget for 2017 to find the answer for myself, she just says, “I can make it anything you want.”

        I went around her and asked some of the program managers straight-up, “How much money do you have to run your program?” and they just say that they get it from the accountant.

        It worries me that we might not able to prove to funders how we’re spending their money, particularly for grants for specific programs and initiatives. Plus when we have unexpected expenses (events, stuff for programs), I want to know if we’re taking money from a surplus, from other programs, from our 2018 budget, from operations, etc.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Those are all bad practices for the nonprofit sector, too (except, maybe, inviting 19,000 to get 100 — they could very well know their list well enough to know that that ratio isn’t as intense as it sounds).

      The key question for you is how (and, it sounds like, if) they are protecting their board. Do they have directors & officers insurance? As a board member, you are (legally) responsible for the financial obligations of the organization; if they don’t have insurance to protect you I would get off the board, even if you want to stay involved to try to help them improve their practices.

      One note: Nonprofits are as diverse as businesses. Some are expertly managed and effective. Others are passion projects run by folks who are highly skilled at their mission work, but don’t know how to operate an organization (much like many small businesses started by entrepreneurs). Some are just crappy and should go out of business. You know better than we do which category yours is in!

      1. Dovahkiin*

        This is super helpful. I don’t know if they have insurance, but I am adding this to our next meeting asap. (Yikes! Genuinely didn’t know this was a thing – I’ve only served on a government board before this that was more advisory).

        Thanks so much for this advice.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Not trying to be scary, but make this a top priority to check on board member insurance.

        I have been serving on boards for 11 years now. I would not work on this board. They are not fiscally responsible in any way shape or form.

        You comment below that this is kind of scary, yeah. I would definitely be scared. You guys get audited and it is going to rain in your life.

      3. Dovahkiin*

        Thanks again – I just wanted to update you. I stepped down from the co-chair position but stayed on the board. I had a long talk with a mentor (who advocated that I step down from the board altogether) and realized that there are a lot of ways I can take an active role in this organization without taking on the risk of being a signatory (this was my compromise. I do love this organization). I’m just not comfortable with so much organizational insouciance towards budgeting/finances and changing it would be a huge cultural shift. They do a lot of good for my community, and I hope to amplify that work in a role with lower stakes.

    3. Cloud Nine Sandra*

      Oh no, no. No. The non-profit I worked for had many problems but they always took labor laws seriously, never played games with taxes, prepared their own budgets and no one ever said “I can make the numbers work however you want.” Not everyone in the non-profit plays fast and loose, I would frankly say not most.

      1. Dovahkiin*

        Thanks so much for your reply.

        I apologize for throwing the nonprofit sector under the bus with my fast and loose comment, that was a really poor generalization on my part. There are tons of great organizations out there, and it looks like mine is more on the disorganized side. Looks like there’s a lot of work to be done.

        They have a great mission and I’ve loved volunteering from them, but now that I’m board member and I have a window into the finance and operations side…it’s pretty scary.

  76. Laura*

    So I have a question.

    Upon a position opening (after the holidays- 4 months from now at the earliest) at the location in my hometown, I intend to attempt a transfer.

    I already work for the company-still have to go in for an interview.

    My question is how do I dress up my usual work wear (blouse and a skirt/ slacks, black shoes) for that interview if/ when it comes? Or do I even need to?

    1. Sagan's Mommy*

      If I were you, I would dress as you would for an external interview, because it would show that you were serious about the position.

    2. Nanc*

      If you’re worried about being in obvious interview clothes, start upping your wardrobe now. Wear a blazer or jacket more often, more tailored trousers, carry a briefcase/folio/whatever you might carry to the interview. Bonus: you’ll get used to moving in those clothes!

      If that’s not feasible, Murphy’s suggestion of just having a blazer or jacket in your car and putting it on just before the interview works well.

  77. Anon for this*

    I have a question about a job that had a sorry end and how to address that. A couple of years ago, a (now former) friend started a company, and asked me to deal with the administrative and operations side- invoicing and payroll, that kind of thing. There were… cash flow problems, and he wasn’t the most stable person (I should have listened to my instincts but I was also desperate at the time), and I eventually walked away after he drained the company account for his drug problem, it was clear that there was no fixing any of the problems.

    I was with the company for just under a year, and there’s about six months where that was my only job. What is the best way to address that period without sounding like I’m just trashing a former employer?

    1. Amber Rose*

      “I took a few months to assist a friend with his company, however it didn’t succeed.”

      Maybe? It’s pretty normal for new companies to fail, so I don’t think anyone will find that too concerning. You don’t have to bring up WHY it failed.

      1. Anon for this*

        It’s entirely possible that I’ve been over thinking the whole thing. (That’s my go-to for a weakness on the “Strength and weakness” question.)

      2. Snark*

        Yeah. Most startups fail. I think “I was with a startup that didn’t succeed,” is about all you need to say about this.

      1. Manders*

        I think this is the way to go. People understand that startups can fail for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with an individual employee’s work. It might be difficult if they want a reference from the ex-friend, but if they worked with clients there may be other people available to give references.

    2. Specialk9*

      It was a startup that closed shop. I think I’ve seen notations on resumes like “Company X (Closed 2017)”. Don’t go into any of those details about drugs, friends, etc. Not relevant, and too dramatic – keep it dry and boring at this stage, except maybe the interesting new skills you learned as a result of startup understaffing and having to cover other tasks.

  78. De Minimis*

    I could definitely use people’s advice about this right now!

    I went through this during the last recession, but it was different because I was a super poor fit for the job and had been trying to leave since I got there. I ended up being fired and not laid off. This time it’s different.

    I keep thinking about the idea of how it’s easier to find a job when you have a job….so I’m starting to apply to stuff. I’m in a way better position as far as what would happen if I was laid off compared to others here, but I still find myself having early-waking anxiety in the middle of the night.

    1. De Minimis*

      Sorry, this was in response to the thread above about living under potential layoffs…don’t know why it got kicked to the bottom as a new thread.

  79. Qwerty*

    This week’s letter about the boss that internet surfed all day brought to mind my own workday internet surfing habits. When I’m trying to discreetly waste time on the internet, I usually go to AAM, mostly because of the content, but also because of the simple formatting of the site that makes it more conspicuous when coworkers walk by. I never look at sites like Facebook during the workday because the formatting of the website is too recognizable. What sites do y’all like to go to when wasting time? And are your preferences also shaped by the formatting of the site?

    1. Specialk9*

      News, yes. (Though I just can’t these days.)

      Health, yes. (Like food & exercise tracking sites, symptom look-up, recipes)

      *Facebook, no way.
      *Personal life advice columns, no.
      *Shopping, no.
      *Fashion, no.

      All of these should be done on your off time, OR on your phone (on breaks or discreetly; and don’t use the company WiFi; and either don’t Facebook friend anyone at work or lock down privacy settings so they don’t see anything you post in the day. People get fired for Facebook posting at work, even if they do it on a bathroom or lunch break.)

      Real estate or restaurants, only very occasionally.

      1. Specialk9*

        Oh, I should say that I’m more worried about keywords or URLs tripping a company monitoring software, than about people seeing what I’m doing as they walk by. (I have a privacy screen.)

        You might try reading articles in text only. Check out BareSite, TinyRead, and TextMirror.

  80. ForeignAcademic*

    A colleague just asked for advice about a particularly awkward situation. I remembered that there was an excellent AAM question about it a while back, so I did a quick web search.

    Alison, can I just apologize for potentially giving employees of the search engine company and/or any international security services who are spying on me the wrong idea about you? Because, without thinking about what I was typing, the first thing I entered into Google was “alison green body odor”.

    I hope you’ll understand that I meant this search in only the most complimentary and non-odiferous way.

      1. Friday Night*

        Man, I’ve used that twice as a template for talking to summer students with that particular problem since the article came out

        1. Captain whiskers*

          You are better than I am, I always chickened out about having the conversation (mainly because the smelly person wasn’t a report of mine and so it would have been odd).

    1. Emma*

      Haha! I just did this a week ago myself. A friend of a friend has a particularly bad smelling coworker and I was like “I have just the thing for you!” and took to google with that exact query.

    2. Drew*

      I have only had to have that conversation with a direct report once, fortunately; this employee split time between a warehouse and the office, and in the afternoons after a morning packing boxes, he was pretty ripe.

      It turned out that he was anosmic and truly didn’t know he was smelly. I suggested that he might want to buy a stronger antiperspirant and make sure to apply it every morning, and that maybe a second deodorant or antiperspirant kept in his car wouldn’t be a bad idea for a “touch up” when he was done in the warehouse for the day. It was an awkward conversation but a necessary one, and fortunately the employee took it in stride and the problem more or less went away, with only the occasional “hey, you might want to run to your car for a second” reminder needed.

      Now, how to tell your boss that HE needs to pay more attention to his axillary hygiene?

  81. peachie*

    Ugh, folks. Ugh. It’s already been a long week and I started my day with an surprise conference call that turned unexpectedly confrontational and uncomfortable. My department of two (boss and I) runs a collection of groups for professionals in various, specific niches. It’s popular, low-cost to run (read: they won’t let us hire anyone else to help), revenue-generating, and has been going strong for over a decade. Recently, we went through the higher-ups and the board to change the name and mission statement of one group, which had evolved a bit from its original intent.

    Our call was supposed to be a 15-minute quick meeting with the woman who makes most of our flyers to discuss making one for the “new name” launch. I got on the call 1 minute late and was immediately in the middle of an attack on our program as a whole. Not only did the flyer-woman refuse to help us out, the tenor of the whole conversation was “I don’t get how this is adding any value to our organization and I don’t see why it exists.” It was all very hostile and unexpected and it’s put me in a weird funk.

    I dunno, our department is under-resourced and that’s frustrating, but I can live with it as long as I feel like I’m being respected otherwise. But today, as I sit here trying to learn InDesign and make this damn flyer myself, I don’t feel that way at all.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      Ugh, that’s irritating. I’m sorry your colleague chose to be unhelpful!

      I’m sure you’re doing great with InDesign, but Canva is a web-based tool for design that is super user friendly and makes some good looking stuff. You might take a look at that too — much gentler learning curve!

      1. fposte*

        Even Microsoft Word has gotten pretty good for flyers–we’ve moved stuff off of InDesign and onto it.

      2. zora*

        My other trick is to use an old InDesign flyer from a previous thing where I only have to change the text, but everything else can stay exactly the same.

  82. Political Career Changer*

    I’m hoping for some advice on talking about political volunteering while applying for jobs.

    For the past couple of years I’ve become an active member of a political party, helping out with canvassing, delivering leaflets, etc. Earlier this year I stood unsuccessfully as a candidate in our local elections, and have also been elected to a leadership role within the local party. All this has meant I’ve gained a lot more knowledge about how local government works, how public services are administered (and where they fall down!), and experience in things like running formal meetings and managing volunteers, none of which I could get in my actual job which is very commercial.

    I’m now looking to change careers, hopefully into the non-profit sector, and I think this knowledge and experience will be helpful – but I’ve always been reluctant to mix work and politics and I’m not sure how to frame it. Should I put everything on my CV/covering letter? Should I leave it off but then use it for examples in interviews? Should I continue to keep a work/politics divide and leave it out completely?

    For context, I’m not in the US. In my area my party used to do very well but in recent years support has dropped off quite a bit and we came third in the election in which I was one of the candidates. Some people are upset about the role we played in a referendum a few years ago, and my main worry is that I’ll alienate someone from the other side. On the other hand, would I want to work with someone who felt so strongly about it they would allow it to affect a hiring decision?

    1. Specialk9*

      Ooh good question! I was taught never to mix work and politics, but those are impressive skillsets. If you don’t get an answer here by the weekend, email Alison, that might make a good column.

  83. Wendy Darling*

    Does anyone know anything about how non-compete agreements are enforced in Washington state?

    The good news is I’ve been offered a job in my field!

    The bad news is that it’s a six-month contract with the possibility of extension or permanent employment but no guarantee… and they want me to sign a 12-month non-compete that would require me to notify them if I intend to work for a competitor and let them decide whether that would be a problem.

    I work in Tea Recognition and this company does a broad range of work on various Tea Recognition topics and provides Tea Recognition services to anyone who doesn’t want to roll their own Tea Recognition system. Interpreted broadly, this non-compete could prevent me from working in my field *at all* for 12 months if they decide not to renew my contract, since EVERYONE who does Tea Recognition is either a client or competitor of this company.

    Not taking this job is not really a viable option, unfortunately, as I’ve been out of work for an extended period and other than this nonsense it is a great opportunity.

    1. Claire*

      You could talk to people in the industry to find out if this is standard practice, but if you’re looking for actual legal advice, you need to talk to a lawyer

    2. Natalie*

      A lawyer is definitely a good idea, but in the mean time you might take a look at your state AG’s website – many states have actual legislation or case law that regulates non-competes. Speaking generally – just because something is in a contract doesn’t mean it’s legal or enforceable.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        My understanding, having asked a bunch of people in the same/similar fields, is that no one bothers trying to enforce them under the director/VP level unless you are actively trying to take company secrets to a competitor in a super obvious way, and also that because I’m a contractor it’s frowned upon even HARDER because if I was so damned important they should have hired me properly.

        I ended up doing the same thing I did at my last job, which is to sign it and resolve to pay a lawyer if I leave and it becomes an issue, because it almost never seems to become an issue.

    3. Managing to get by*

      I live and work in Washington (and am NOT an attorney, but have had to sign non-competes at many companies). My understanding is that non-competes here can have repercussions for working with clients of the company you just left, but cannot restrict you from working in the industry. They also have to have a time frame, I believe 2 years may be the limit because I’ve never seen one longer than 2 years. Additionally, I have heard that they are difficult to enforce, in that the company you left needs to show significant harm from your activities.

      One company I worked for was bought by an out of state company, and we were required to sign a non-compete with the acquiring company. They had restrictive non-competes that did not allow us to work in the same industry within 250 miles of any of the company’s offices for 5 years after termination of employment. A couple weeks after the non-competes were distributed they were replaced by agreements that were more like our old agreements – cannot work for clients of the company for 2 years. Word was spread around that the original non-competes were legal in the state where the company’s home office was located, but not in Washington State, and that one of the execs involved his attorney and ended up getting them all revised.

      Again, I’m not an attorney, and this is all third-hand, but I’ve never seen anything tougher than a 2 year limit on working for the same clients as the company you just left. I’ve also never seen a company able to enforce a non-compete, even when someone left and took most of their clients with them.

  84. JustaTech*

    I want to send a huge thank you, shout out and a hundred million blessings to everyone who helped me with my Excel problem last week, especially Excel Hellion, Friday, Jane B, Jean (just Jean), paul, XL Nerd, Beancounter Eric, Five after Midnight, leah, nonegiven, That Would Be a Good Band Name, Student, Elizabeth West and Mmm Hmm.

    We had a good long talk about it at work on Monday, discovered that every computer-based system is going to do the same thing because of the way computers work at the most basic level, and decided as a group how to address it. It was a conversation we needed to have.

    So again, thank you all! You saved my butt, you saved my sanity, and you helped foster an important conversation about data. You are all awesome!

    1. paul*

      sounds like it goes beyond just Excel then? Glad y’all are recognizing it and discussing it. Do you think any professional online communities or journals or email list for your field would have ideas?

      1. JustaTech*

        Well, the computer program going “I will keep *all* the figures after the decimal point!” is pretty universal as far as I could tell (it’s not just Excel, it’s Jmp and therefore probably SAS and STATA and R and who knows maybe MiniTab and Prism and GraphPad).
        And the truth is that most of the time no one cares about significant figures, or they don’t end up actually mattering, so it’s fine.
        The meeting was more of a heads-up than a deep technical conversation. And honestly I don’t know that anyone else in the field cares. (Or they only care when they lose a Mars lander.)

        1. Southernbelle*

          My favorite Mars mishap remains that one time Lockheed Martin used IMPERIAL UNITS (!@#$!%!!) and NASA… didn’t (Mars Orbiter, 1999). Did they really lose one from rounding errors too?!?!

    2. Susan K*

      I didn’t read last week’s open thread, so I had to go back and see what your question was :). I’m kind of sad I missed it because I love Excel and I’m always happy to help people with it when I can. I’m glad there were other people reading who could help you!

  85. Cloud Nine Sandra*

    Listening to coworker who always complains about hating the job bonding with new guy about how new guy had a horrible boss here at the company. So basically “these people suck,” and “I agree, here’s how my boss sucked!” I just don’t think there’s a lot of value in that kind of bonding. (done venting)

  86. Fabulous*

    I went from having 60-80% free* time at work to about 10%. I’ve been in conference calls almost constantly from 10am-5pm all week. It’s been… interesting… trying to get my other work done!

  87. JokersandRogues*

    Hi, I’ve never asked a question before, but I’m kinda nervously waffling.

    I work in reporting in a financial services company.
    We had a re-org about three months ago, and (on purpose) management has not really clarified to the lines of business how that played out, and in fact hasn’t been clear with us. However, as a result, I was told that my manager wasn’t really my manager anymore. This was a bit of a relief as he and I do not , mmm, communicate well? Or just never really got to any kind of connection. I don’t have to be best friends or even friends with a manager, but you need some sort of working together ability. In 20 years, I’ve never had this complete absence of whatever that is. In any case, he isn’t my manager (still listed as officially but any issues go to someone else.) He’s been working on a project to work on certain systems and improve them. I agree with the aims of that and understand the purpose, but don’t quite see how my specific project(s) will fit into it and anytime I try and bring that up, he just kinda hand-waves and says it’s simple etc.

    So, anyway, last week, I was wrapping up for the afternoon. Everyone else had left for a department happy hour. He was headed out but stopped by my cube. He proceeded to inform me, a little sneeringly I felt, that obviously I should be doing more work for his projects, and that my stuff should easily fit into it, and that overseas contractors could easily do my job especially since it was an unimportant (he did actually say unimportant). And then added he was just concerned for me, since with the reorg, so much had gone to overseas.
    I was taken aback but just said I understood his redos were important but that I was concerned about how my projects would fit into it etc.
    He left. I was pretty upset and couldn’t handle going to the Happy Hour, and now I’ve been avoiding him as much as possible. i also Rage-pinged the recruiter I’ve been working with since the reorg happened just because everything has been so uncertain.

    I’m trying to think how to even bring this up with my actual boss (who ex-manager also reports to). I mean the sneery thing is just my judgment/word against his and how do I ask for reassurance? I’m inclined to think I just keep my head down and ignore this but….I don’t know. I felt attacked and am not sure how to deal with it.
    Note: if it’s relevant, my projects are used daily by a member of the Executive Suite (EVP) and several Senior Vice Presidents.

    Thanks. Sorry so long.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      I think it might be helpful to ask your current boss to walk through your projects and where you’re spending your time, with the intent of continuing to clarify things after the re-org. Starting here means that you can confirm that you’re prioritizing correctly, and that you are spending the time and energy you should be on Old Boss’s projects. Hopefully this will reassure you that you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing and that your work is valuable.

      I’m torn on how to address Old Boss’s tone with your current manager. What, specifically, is the outcome that you’re hoping to achieve? Is there something specific you want your current boss to do? If you need reassurance that your old boss is a jerk, I’m glad to give that to you right now with a high degree of certainty!

      One possible angle would be to follow up on the prioritization conversation with something like, “Thanks for clarifying this. One of the reasons I was asking was because I’ve had a bunch of difficult interactions with Old Boss about these projects and it seems like he has some different assumptions about how I should be spending my time. Do you have any advice for how I should respond?” I think a good manager would read between the lines on that one, but you might eventually have to circle back to explain if it’s becoming a pattern and a problem.

      As for actually responding to your old boss, I realize you didn’t ask this question, but it sounds like he’s dealing with his own issues of feeling like his projects aren’t important and might be taking that out on you. It might be a good situation for practicing a few standard “non-responses.” Things like, “Huh, that’s an odd thing to say.” Or “Hmm, that’s not my understanding.” Followed by neutral silence.

      1. JokersandRogues*

        Thank you for responding. Yes, I’m sure ex boss has been feeling out of place for a lot of reasons many of which aren’t his fault. I think I’m just resentful he picked me to take this out on. I’m not really sure how I would want true boss to respond, which is probably why I’ve been waffling. Not sure what can be said. However, it’s a good point that I can at least clarify my priorities.

        1. Specialk9*

          Your boss was deliberately trying to make you feel bad. He’s a jerk. So now you know that this person with whom you don’t click and to whom you don’t report is also an unprofessional jerk. He’s revealed himself. As much as possible, turn your inner feelings for him into petrified wood – he doesn’t get to upset you or take up your inner real estate.

          You can have a conversation with your new manager and share specific concerns, but be clear what you want to get out of it. Sometimes it’s helpful to tell a boss that this person is kind of a jerk (not in those words, but by asking questions about why OldBoss would say this, how should that inform my behavior) so they can dismiss any undermining that OldBoss is doing. (Which if he would do this to your face, you know he’s doing worse behind your back.)

    2. JulieBulie*

      In 1991, some sneery asshole told me that my profession would be obsoleted by computers within five years. Well, I’m still in that profession, thanks. And he lost his job less than a year later.

      I don’t know what is wrong with your sneery ex-boss, but it has way more to do with him than it does with you. And you are probably not the only person he’s been sneery with; in fact, could that even be part of why he no longer has any direct reports? Sounds like he’s miffed that he doesn’t get to boss you around any more.

      It is probably not necessary or helpful to mention this to your boss, but that depends on what kind of relationship you have. If you have questions about wht the sneery fellow told you, you can bring it up within that context. (There is no need to mention the sneery tone; I think his words speak for themselves.)