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.