open thread – November 24-25, 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.

{ 841 comments… read them below }

  1. Luna Lovegood*

    Not exactly work-related, but I’m hoping that some of you may have some work-type advice.
    Does anyone have any tips for publicising a small, niche music group which started up fairly recently? I am trying to get more young people interested in British Folk Music, an area of our culture here in the UK with a very small following and a bit of an image problem. Having attended events all my life, I have built up quite a bit of knowledge of the subject that I want to share with others, and hopefully pass on some of my enthusiasm for this section of our country’s heritage. The group is open to 14-25 year olds and has had a fairly uneven attendance since I started it 6 months ago. I really need a regular group of at least eight people to make hiring the Village Hall viable.
    I have really only used Facebook and word-of-mouth for publicity so far, plus a small article in a local Folk Music magazine. I plan to do a bit of an ad campaign in the New Year, to take some posters round to high schools and put some ad in local free newspapers. We’re in a very rural area so finding people who are interested and able to travel to the Hall is quite tricky.
    Does anyone have any ideas?

    1. WellRed*

      My first thought us, that seems like a very wide age range but maybe that’s the nirm for this sort of thing? I know it’s for young people, but if I am 25, a group touting 14 year olds. At any rate, You’d have to tailor both messaging and outreach to ends of that spectrum

      1. Say what, now?*

        This was my first thought as well. The age range makes it unattractive. 14 year-olds may be intimidated by the older end of the range and any 25 year-olds may be concerned that it will become an unruly mess with the younger range in attendance. I would break it off 14-18 and 19-25 if I could and just do 2 separate groups. I think this would work better for content as well since the 14 year-olds are unlikely to have the same base knowledge as the 25 year-olds who may have been to a few more concerts or done more research/reading on the subject.

        1. JeanLouiseFinch*

          The folk music crowd is a pretty well-behaved bunch, and seeing younger people at concerts usually makes the older people more welcoming. A few years ago, I brought my college age daughter to a Steeleye Span concert and people seemed very happy to see someone younger in the crowd. It was only after that that I found out that a bunch of her friends really liked Steeleye Span as well.

          If I were looking to market this stuff in the US, I would target the Science Fiction and Fantasy crowd and the people that attend the various Renaissance Faires. It’s a fairly geeky demographic, but if we like something, we REALLY like it. The other target group might be members of various choirs, who seem to prefer folk music (I wonder why? Could it be that they don’t usually scream when they sing?)

      2. Luna Lovegood*

        It’s such a niche interest that I can’t really afford to have a smaller age range, but tailoring the ads is certainly a good idea, thanks.

    2. AK*

      Are there any local artists who you could work with? If they could give you a shoutout on their FB pages or at shows that might help direct people to you.

      1. Anon anon anon*

        And visual artists! Get a good logo and some art for the social media pages. Something that’s interesting and sends a message about what the group is about. Make stickers. Make patches. Go to Rent faires, etc (as someone else suggested). Connect with younger people who geek out on historical stuff. There are many!

    3. DC*

      To get the kids still in high school, put it on neighborhood listservs and groups. For college kids, there will be Facebook groups for the local school.

      1. Say what, now?*

        You could also contact the high school music department and see if they’d hang flyers in their hall for you.

    4. Lulubell*

      I’m not sure people 14-25 are spending a lot of time on FB or reading newspapers. I would try Instagram instead. With an ad budget, you can geo-target pretty specifically and also by likes, interests, etc. With no ad budget, you can still use hashtags and location to show up in searches. I’d also see if you can find anyone in the area in that age range (maybe already in your group?) who has a large local following on IG or Snapchat, and invite them to cover the events on their accounts. That will increase visibility and hopefully interest among their followers.

      1. Luna Lovegood*

        Instagram is a good idea. I think because I use Facebook a lot (I’m 23) I assumed everyone else is the same.

        1. teclatrans*

          This is purely anecdotal, but my 18-year old son and his age-mates wouldn’t be caught dead on FB, whereas I do see a couple of 23-year-old female relatives on there talking to friends. My sense is that foe younger folks, Instagram and Snapchat are much more the thing.

    5. HannahS*

      I really think you should somehow divide the 14-18 from the 19-25. If I was 14, I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking on a hobby populated by people that much older (and my parents wouldn’t have allowed it), and now that I’m 25, if I see something targeted to high school students, I wouldn’t go. I’ve taught kids that age, and while I certainly don’t mind being in a larger community together, I’m not interested in making them my social group, you know? The draw of any hobby is has to be at least partly social. Maybe divide and target “youth” vs “young adult” events. I know it’s a bit hard, because you have so few people. For the younger ones, could you do events in the high schools to draw interest? Like ask if you can do a presentation at an assembly or even in the library at lunchtime to introduce the music and history to the kids. A music teacher might enjoy having you in, as well.

      I agree that Instagram, posters in the high school, and Facebook (for the 20-25 crowd) is the way to go. I’ve never lived truly rurally, so I can’t speak to transportation exactly, but in the deep suburbs it’s also a problem. The only way to surmount it, I found, was to organize events that either were in places that people already were (like evening events at the university) or to arrange carpools. Oh, and food. For the out-of-highschool crowd, you ABSOLUTELY MUST provide something like pizza + some cookies and fruit. Seriously, often the deciding factor on “do I want to haul myself out to learn something that’s potentially exciting but is not my primary passion” is whether or not they’ll feed me.

      1. Luna Lovegood*

        Yes, it is a wide age range and I can see that it might put people off. However, the reality of the situation is that I can’t really afford to run two groups and I don’t want to deny some people the opportunity to come. Going into schools is a great idea, though, and I will certainly look at doing that. I think the transportation issues are going to have to be a balance of convenience/cost too but I have thought about moving to somewhere a little easier to get to.

        I’d love to provide pizza but it’s not something I can afford to do :(

        1. misspiggy*

          I’d focus on 18s to 25s; they’re more likely to have an interest in folk and you can link up with pubs and college venues that support folk music – pubs especially are crucial in hosting folk music open nights and giving venues for performance.

        2. Akcipitrokulo*

          Maybe target at places/design campaigns for that age group but don’t mention age range specifucally?

        3. Stellaaaaa*

          Unfortunately I think this is one of those things where if you can’t afford to do it right, you can’t afford to do it at all.

          I don’t know the specifics of the relevant laws in the UK, but in my local music community, it’s precisely the folk crowd that finds adult men going after teenage girls. Besides, if money is really an issue, you’d rather pay more for something that works out than save a bit of money but end up wasting it all on a bad plan.

          1. Luna Lovegood*

            Actually the UK folk world, in my experience, isn’t like that at all! Everyone I know is really friendly and encouraging to new performers. (Basically we’re a group of nerds who are more focused on the music than anything else)
            I am willing to spend a reasonable amount of money, but, unfortunately I do have a budget, and, as you say, I’d rather spend it on the right things. I am planning on looking into funding from local folky organisations so it may be a different story in future.

            1. Luna Lovegood*

              I think I really just wanted to do something for the music I love, and trying with a small budget is better than not trying at all.

            2. Astor*

              I just want to note that you’re planning on recruiting new people and so you should be thinking about how you’re going to handle it when an adult is interested in a teenager or vice-versa. Because you can be pretty sure it will happen anytime you have a gathering of 14-25 year olds, even if you’re not used to seeing it in the UK folk world.

            3. Stellaaaaa*

              It’s more musicians/artists in general. I won’t be tactful here: when you cobble together a group of bohemian-types who see the beautiful virtues of living a bit outside the norms of society, you’re inevitably going to attract people who have been forced out of functional society for valid reasons. Kind of how the lovely simplicity and ideals of the hippie movement disintegrated due largely to the men who touted “free love” but just wanted to have a lot of sex. This still happens. Go in with your eyes open or you risk not protecting your young female performers, which is a huge, huge problem in any arts community.

              I kind of understand that you want to share your interest with as many people as possible, but I think you really, really need to let go of your desire to share it with teenagers. It’s just not a good idea.

              1. HannahS*

                Yeah, that’s sort of what I was getting at. As a teenage girl, there is no way I would have felt comfortable having any kind of social outing with grown men, and there is absolutely no way my parents would have allowed me, at 14, to go to social events where there were 25 year old men.

                1. HannahS*

                  I really want to double down on separating the age groups. I hear that you have very few people, but you’re actually more likely to get a better turn out if you plan events centered around high school students, their interests, and forming a social group OR young adults, their interests, and forming a social group. But if you try to do both simultaneously, I think you’ll get a worse turn out for both groups. I have no idea (because we’re on the internet) how old you are, and if 14-25 is just generic continuum of “young people” to you. But I want to say, very loudly, that 14 year olds are children. I’m 25. I’m a grown woman. I’ve taught 14 year olds math. I am not interested in chatting socially with someone in high school. We are not social equals. I promise, I’m not an a**hole; I chat with kids in religious environments, at work, and in the context of mentorship. But if I’m invited to an event, a fascinating, riveting event centered around a topic that I adore and have been secretly waiting for someone to make accessible to me, if I see that it’s advertised to include 14 year olds, I’m not going. That tells me that the event is geared for high school students, not to me, like the way “family” events actually means that it’s for kids, but their parents might not be bored to tears. But I’m not the parent of a teenager, and I’m not interested in tagging along to events that are going to be geared at them.

            4. Elizabeth H.*

              From my interactions with people into folk music/folk culture, I feel like a lot of these responses are over thinking it and imagining a different kind of group than it is in reality. My guess is your group meetings are probably pretty low key and not really focused on socializing for its own sake. One thing I’m kind of curious about though is why it isn’t an all ages group? I feel like that sort of de-emphasizes any concern about the wide age range, though I understand your impetus to get more young people interested.
              Fwiw I’m 30 and I can’t imagine being deterred from going to a group for fellow enthusiasts of whatever, just because group was open to teenagers as well as young adults.
              In terms of food, you could take turns bringing snacks. That is cheaper and adds an environment of conviviality I think!

              1. SpiderLadyCEO*

                I really like the idea of it being all-ages too. 14-25 really is two different age groups, and if I’m at an event that says that age rage specifically, I’m going to assume I’m gonna end up being someone’s Mommy.

                But I LOVE all ages events! Then while I might be helping out the 13-year old, she might be helping the 72 year old, who might be helping me. This would widen the pool available to pull from, too. And then you might get the oral history of people who were there many years ago, along with new people coming in.

              2. Pommette!*

                Agreed, completely!

                If you are going to segregate people by age, grouping anyone from 14 to 25 into a single group is an odd and awkward way to do it. It suggests a poor understanding of the way young people interact together, and of what it means to be 14, or 25. Whether at 14, 19, or 25, I would have been reluctant to join such a group (“Why should I join a group with a bunch of adults, and what’s wrong with them that they want to hang out with kids?” or “Why should I join a group where I will be expected to babysit people who might still be in grade school?’).

                When age isn’t made into the group’s organizing principle, though, mixing 14, 25, and 60 year olds ceases to be odd. The assumption changes: people aren’t there because their age creates a meaningful commonality. They are there because of their shared interest; everyone has something to learn, and something to contribute.

                I don’t think that it’s any easier for a 14 and a 25 year old to relate to one another than it would be for a 14 year old and a 60 year old to relate to one another. 14 is young and 25 is young, but 14 is very, very different from 25. In my experience, at least, 14 is more different from 25 than 25 is from 60.

                If you are going to make this group one that is only open to the young, I would suggest stretching your parameters to include older young adults. Y0u could create a group that recruited 18-29 year olds, but was open to 14-17 year olds who showed serious interest and commitment. (And from what I remember of being 14, “this isn’t normally open to young people but we will make an exception for you and your friends since you are so mature and enthusiastic!” is a pretty good recruitment tactic).

          2. Luna Lovegood*

            Your comments have given me a lot to think about. I think I’ve come across very naively. I have looked into safeguarding and DBS checks (as far as I can make out, I’m not eligible for one) but I plan on getting some more information and will definitely think about age ranges. I really don’t want to give up on this but I will take these issues seriously. Thank you for the feedback, there are lots of folk events which are open to all and sundry so I am used to being in that sort of environment, but it’s good to see it from the outside.

    6. Iris Carpenter*

      Local newspapers are always desperate for content. If you can do a write-up with a couple of pictures for anything your group does and send it to whatever local press exists in your area, with a mention that new members are always welcome, they may well publish it. “Anything” could be you starting the group, playing at Christmas at an old people’s home etc.

      1. Luna Lovegood*

        I was thinking of doing something similar, I’ll look into it. Might raise the awareness of the group a bit.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      *sigh* :3 No ideas–I think everyone made good suggestions–but James Vincent McMorrow (he’s Irish) started as a folk artist. He’s now more R&B/alternative but his first album, Early in the Morning, is brilliant. <3 <3 <3

      I just had to throw that in there because I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE HIM. Yay for supporting local artists and this genre!

    8. LDN Layabout*

      I know someone’s already mentioned schools, but have you considered doing taster sessions at local ones, possibly as part of their PE class if you know someone who also does dancing? Could make it a more physical and letting off steam activity for people that age (apologies if that’s way off what you’d enjoy doing).

      1. Luna Lovegood*

        That’s a great idea, but I think it’s a little far off what I’m doing.
        I have volunteered in a primary school teaching Morris dancing, and it was great fun! The kids had some awesome ideas, too.

    9. Mae*

      Music group as in teaching them to play tunes? My experience is that it’s much more inspiring to play with people who are already enthusiastic folk musicians than try to form a group from scratch, so if you could seed the group with friendly musicians it might really help, even if they’re guests – but I do know people who’ve set up kind of folk orchestras from scratch, as well.

      I don’t know if private messaging works on here, but if you’re comfortable giving me a vague geographical area I might have more specific advice or possibly contacts.

      1. Luna Lovegood*

        We’re based in Suffolk. I’m aiming for a sort of casual session set-up, ie come along with a few tunes/songs and share with the group. I’ve also taught a few tunes so that we have something to play as a group. I’m getting a variety of experiences of folk – some are into it and know how sessions etc. work, some have a small amount of experience, and some have no experience at all.

    10. Isobel Priest*

      A lot of areas in the UK have local folk festivals or big ones. Contact the organiser of those and see if they are willing to advertise on their mailing list/facebook pages? Or ask any local ceilidh bands.

      Otherwise touring schools and noticeboards in local churches and village halls.

      1. Luna Lovegood*

        I do know the organisers of the local folk festival reasonably well. They’re very friendly so it’s worth a shot.

    11. Bagpuss*

      see whether local Guide / Scout groups are interested?
      There may even be a relevant badge they could work toward.

        1. Lynda*

          Ah, right, I’m also in the UK so I understand your geographical and transport issues.
          Off the top of my head: coffee shops, instrument and record shops, vintage stores, music teachers, church groups, theatre groups might all maybe be sources of publicity, venues and know potential members. Are there any sources of funding from local or national music charities?

    12. SignalLost*

      I know some parts of the U.K. have SCA groups – does your area? They, or another reenactment society, might be a good place to advertise.

    13. Ruth (UK)*

      Ash I got excited reading this. I’m a Morris dancer in my late 20s (since my teens, with multiple sides) and fiddle player (and I can punch out some tunes on a melodeon but I’m not great). Im a bit older than what you’re targeting. Anyway I noticed you say you’re Suffolk based. I’m in Norfolk.

      You could maybe out something in mardles (that’s going all online these days I hear). I also reckon you should get some leaflets on tables at sessions festivals this summer though I know that’s not an immediate solution. Folkeast is presumably local for you and you’ll get loads of Suffolk people at Ely Folk too.

      I know people have suggested splitting the age group up but I do think it’s hard enough to find anyone in that age range as it is. I don’t want to sound negative but I doubt you will have enough people to make it worth splitting.

      By the way, have you ever seen Young Miscellany perform? They’re an all-child Morris side and never seem to struggle for membership. They perform various styles of Morris, Molly and country dancing.

      Also, you mention travel to the hall… I do think if you can solve a transport issue for people you will get way more interest. People of the age range you want are likely going to really struggle if it’s a location that can only be reached by driving. I certainly wouldn’t be able to attend a regular event that required driving to get there unless I knew someone able to give me a regular lift.

      Also, the Morris census 2017 has recently been published and one of the sections gave answers on how sides most recruited and what means they found most successful. I realise you’re not Morris but the same recruiting techniques may work.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        Ps. Sorry for my various typos above, I’m using my phone which displays In a way that makes looking back and editing awkward.

        Below me, soz commented about reenactment communities. I’ve noticed the Essex(?) based side CHES often bring instruments to events and make music after the public have gone so I agree with that idea.

        Buu mentioned local music teachers. I doubt you’ll find box players that way as you don’t find many people taking formal lessons for Squeezeboxes etc – however you might find piano players interested in trying an accordion or other box and you might also find violin players interested in a bit of folk. I speak from personal experience on this one. I learned violin classically from lessons, which is what led me to a pub folk session when I was 16-18 which is what caused me to meet the Morris community (which led to more folk sessions).

        1. Luna Lovegood*

          Hi, fellow Morris dancer! I’m with Pretty Grim Border Morris.
          I actually had an article in the most recent Mardles called “The Time Passes Over so Cheerful and Gay….”
          I’ve heard of Young Miscellany but don’t think I’ve ever actually seen them. Thanks for the advice, I’ll have a look at those. Would love to get in touch with you as a local folky contact – not sure how to do that without giving my email to all and sundry on here!

          1. Ruth (UK)*

            If you’re Pretty Grim, I have almost certainly come across you then!!! I’m that one who shows up all the time in different kits… Foolkeast 2016 when I was with Golden Star and we got put with you lot every other spot ;). I’m that girl who also shows up with Fiddlesticks and Pedants’ Revolt! I’ve also seen you (probably) at Halesworth DOD. Last year I attended the Ceilidh in just my bloomers…

      2. Luna Lovegood*

        I am also a Morris dancer (Pretty Grim Border Morris)
        I actually had an article in the most recent (and last) Mardles entitled “The Time Passes Over so Cheerful and Gay…” if you’re a regular reader (couldn’t find it on the website but session is listed here under Tuesdays: )
        I’ve heard of young miscellany but have never actually come across them, might have to look on YouTube.
        I will have a look at music teachers and Morris Census. Thanks for the advice!
        PS Would love to get in touch with you as a local folky contact – details in link above.

    14. soz*

      There’s also a large re-enactment community in Suffolk. Have a look at some of those events as re-enacted are often into folk music. There are Facebook groups as well as forums and events.

      I know I’m making conclusions, but have you looked into your DBS check responsibilities?

      This may sound counterintuitive but the wider age range may be putting people off. Especially parents if you haven’t gone through the whole checking process to show that you’re safe

    15. Buu*

      Twitter and Instagram, don’t be tempted to pay for ads they very rarely work. Make sure you’re active and following relevant people locally e.g youth groups, musicians, any other arts projects in the area. If you make the accounts themselves useful it tends to draw people in and means that people will engage with the account even if they don’t plan to attend themselves. I’d def look at local music teachers as part of that they may have students looking for wider groups.

    16. Emma UK*

      I live near Broadstairs and it has a very busy folk week. Maybe you could organise a trip there and it might encourage more people to sign up. Local papers are often happy to give free attention to local groups too.

    17. accidental manager*

      Music teachers, guitar stores, stores selling used CDs – get to know them, see who plays and wants to come to a session (in the Irish-music community there’s a thing called “slow session” at which beginners are explicitly welcome to play along). Get musicians to make announcements at concerts. Consider alternating between a village-hall meetup and a pub meetup. And yes, if you can, arrange the schedule so that people can get home by bus.

      Be visible yourself as a young person and a – I’m assuming you’re female/femme because of your name? since that will immediately demonstrate that the group isn’t all for beardy old guys.

      As for welcoming teenagers, that might work better on a case-by-case basis, word of mouth to young musicians and music fans along with their parents. Start by aiming it at young adults, while managing the atmosphere to be inclusive, welcoming, and safe for those who are younger as well. I know that you’ve already had lots of comments about keeping teens safe from older adults who don’t have appropriate boundaries and you think it’s not necessary – but that’s not the only boundary that’s worth thinking about before it’s been tested. Look at anti-harrassment policies adopted recently by science-fiction conventions and other casually-organized social interest groups. Call out racist, sexist, and transsexist speech or behaviour right away. Speak up yourself when you think someone is being harrassed or hit on. Check that people have a way home.

    18. The future will be better*

      I know others have said this, but I want to reiterate that your age range is a problem. The average 19-25 year old is used to seeing music at a bar most likely, and isn’t going to be at all interested in going to something advertised to a 14 year old. And a 14 year old might not feel comfortable or not even be allowed to go to something with people in their 20s. You said you don’t have the resources for two groups, but perhaps you could somehow focus on one group or the other at times? Or start with one age range, and then expand when you’re able? It’s such a cool idea, I hope you figure it out!

    19. JadedDisneyCharacter*

      Hey – could you try creating a Meetup group? Also, how about approaching your local paper? x

    20. theletter*

      I’m in a small, niche music group myself here in the states – we don’t have students in our group, just grown-ups who love to sing and can make the time for it. We sing just for the joy of singing – occasionally one of our members will ask that we try to promote ourselves, but I think we’ve come to realize that what sells us best is our passion for song and history. People like to hear us! When we don’t make any pretense about it or try to push it, we sound great, we find opportunities to just share, and we get new members who like how easy going it is.

      What I remember as a musician in high school and college, though, is the amount of pressure I was under (especially in high school) to achieve something with my musicianship. It lightened up considerably in college, but by then I was also hearing about opportunities for professional auditions and competitions. I found that opportunities that are offered through larger organizations or the school itself are often the easiest to get involved with. Students can get class credit or extra-curricular engagement on a schedule that fits with their current school work and location. Even now, in my free-wheeling acapella choir, we’re part of a nationwide historical interest society that organizes local events for history nerds of all stripes, which means we have built-in gigs with built-in ego-boosting awards. Some might say that the joy of singing should be enough, but as a semi-professional musician, I get a lot of opportunities to sing for free, and I often turn them down because they just don’t seem interesting, fun, or have a nice sense of achievement about them.

      So my advice would be to take the group you have and start performing where you can, first of all. Try connecting to folk and history organizations within schools or groups that are already working with schools. Remember that you don’t have to have teenagers/college kids in your group to appeal to them. If you can get a good rapport with local schools, you could do class visits and help students work with the music in the way that works best for them.

  2. Discombobulated Englishman*

    Finally some GOOD NEWS in my floundering life- I have an interview lined up for an internship with a very well-known org. However, I need to give a five minute presentation about what I know about them and why I want the job- I’m at a loss of what to do.
    So far I’ve got a starter slide with my presentation aims, a slide with their vision and values, and have and the working title “So you’re contemplating hiring me” (and the sub title about how that is a great idea).I’ve been told to be less-robot in interviews but will dream up a more suitable title!
    I enjoy the visual parts of creating a PowerPoint but I’m at a loss on how to create something that is professional and gets the job done. I’d love any thoughts/comments/suggestions etc.

    1. Jeremy Stein*

      I suggest you avoid focusing on their vision and values. You risk getting them wrong or presenting them in an unfamiliar way that will turn off the interviewers. Use them to inform your presentation as to which of your qualities they’ll care about.

      If I was watching a presentation by a candidate, I’d probably be happy to see something about accomplishments you’ve had in the past and ideas of how you might apply those skills to potential projects in my organisation.

    2. Liz2*

      Let the ppt speak for itself. Answer three questions in your presentation- what value most resonates with your own life and give a personal work appropriate story why? what internship value brings to both sides of the table here? How has the company made big changes in the past and has said they are moving to change in the next five years?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Emphasizing this, which several people hit in different ways:
        1) What value most resonates with your own life
        2) Give a personal work appropriate story why

        Focus, and personalization. You don’t need to hit all six of their values–focus on one or two, and tie them to a real example of how this makes a difference.

    3. dear liza dear liza*

      For short, persuasive speeches, I like to use Monroe’s Motivated Sequence. You can google it for complete details, but in short, it’s a problem-solution structure:
      1. Attention- grab them with a hook.
      2. Problem- what problem/challenge does the organization have
      3. Solution- hire you to solve that problem/challenge
      4. Visualization- here’s why your solution is beneficial
      5. Call to action- so hire you!
      Best of luck. Five minutes goes fast, so practice lots.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        I’d personally be careful with this approach; it sounds very much like the “hire me!” tactics of a particular writer who advises job applicants to use this in their cover letter, and has – rightly, including here – been warned about as having high potential for backfiring, coming off as presumptuous/egotistical/etc.

        1. Dear liza dear liza*

          True. You need to flesh it out from the skeleton. Go for the spirit, not the letter of what I wrote. I didn’t mean you should use those words! Thanks for pointing out that my shorthand could be taken literally- and that would be bad.

    4. Seal*

      My best advice would be to practice, practice, practice and time yourself to make sure you absolutely, positively do NOT go over 5 minutes. Five minutes goes by very quickly when you’re doing a presentation; if nothing else, keeping it to the allotted 5 minutes demonstrates that you can follow instructions.

      As far as the presentation itself goes, make sure you are addressing the topic given; with only 5 minutes, you won’t have time to go off on tangents. Start with a title slide that includes the name of your presentation, your name and the date. Next slide – what you know about the company. Come up with a 1 minute overview about what YOU know about the company; even better if you can personalize it (e.g. I first learned about you because I use your products). Then no more than 2 additional slides that spell out why you want to work there. Since this is an internship, there’s nothing wrong with telling them you want to gain experience in your chosen field or I want to expand my skills in this particular area. End with a thank you slide.

      Again, because I can’t emphasize this strongly enough – DO NOT GO OVER YOUR ALLOTED TIME. From a hiring perspective, there’s nothing worse than watching a candidate ramble or drone on in their presentation, especially when they’ve been given a time limit.

      Good luck!

      1. Safetykats*

        Absolutely no more than 5 slides, and maybe fewer. Remember that your slides should just summarize your points – there are few things worse than having someone stand and read slides to you. A company I used to work for had a 5×5 guideline – no more than 5 bullet points per slide, no more than 5 words per bullet point. It’s a hard goal to achieve, but if you at least aim for it you should do well.

        I would focus on your most applicable experience, why you want to work for this company (might be related to core values, might also be related to the work you hope to do for them). I disagree with any pitch that implies you can somehow solve a problem they may have – unless your experience is somehow incredibly unique. Interns mostly don’t make earth-shaking contributions, and it might seem out-of-touch to say that you think you can. (If you are being hired for some amazing specialized skill go ahead and ignore that. An example – in graduate school, my sister worked with cutting-edge, high-tech lasers. She had a summer internship setting up such a laser for a national laboratory. Since she was one of a very few people in the world who had experience with these lasers, and since they had nobody at the lab who did, it would have been reasonable for her to talk about how she could do this unique thing for them.)

    5. DC*

      For slides: make sure they are dynamic, not text-heavy, and simple. For examples of great slides, TED speakers have some great ones. Remember that slides shouldn’t BE your presentation, they should just SUPPLEMENT your presentation.

    6. Artemesia*

      Think about a way to grab their attention. Could you have an anecdote about your experience with this company or its products? The first 30 seconds of a presentation needs to grab attention and intrigue. Mission statements rarely engage or intrigue. Don’t over think it. WHY do you want to work for this company? Why would that be interesting. Focus on that. Good luck. They don’t expect the rainbow so being personal and well organized will make you look great. Don’t overthink it. That will help you be natural and focused.

    7. Al Lo*

      Are you familiar with PechaKucha (pronounced p’CHAW k’CHAW)? It’s a specific format of presentation/event that originated in the design community in Japan.

      20 slides (images, specifically, for a PechaKucha) x 20 seconds – the powerpoint is on auto-advance, and there is no leeway to the timing. Could you work with something like that? 20×20 is a bit more than 5 minutes, but you could adjust the number and timing of slides, while still using the concept. Because there’s no futzing around with advancing the slides or opportunity to hang on one slide for too long, it forces the presentation to keep moving and the changing images keep it dynamic.

      At an event (in my city), the speakers are all given a specific one-word prompt, like “Rock” or “Home” or “Jam” or “Enemy” or whatever — and the artists will interpret it very differently from the scientists from the architects and so on.

      1. Artemesia*

        I am not sure I would use slides at all and certainly not 15 or 20 flying by in a few minutes. A gifted artist might create something wonderful in a format like this, but that alone would be a big challenge for an internship presentation. You would want them to like you, to see that you have done homework and know the organization and see how your skills would be enhanced and you could contribute.

    8. accidental manager*

      Personally, I would advise not to use projection slides at all for this kind of presentation. Talk without notes if you can, making eye contact with everyone, or talk with glances at point-form notes. It is unlikely that words or pictures or graphs on a screen would be more impressive than looking at an engaging confident speaker.

    9. theletter*

      I would go a very different direction with this – I think they want you to prove that you understand the organization and will be a loyal intern to them. All your slides should be about the company and use company terminology as much as possible. Prove that you are ready to hit the ground running because you already know the company’s fundamentals, instead of making the presentation all about you.

  3. Too Much, Too Soon*

    I was just promoted at work, and they gave me a small (10%) raise. I also have more bonus potential. Would it be unseemly to ask for a larger raise given the new responsibilities and increased workload that I now have?

      1. Too Much, Too Soon*

        I didn’t agree to it, they just told me I was promoted and I found out on my next paycheck.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      Nope. I would ask and put it just like that – the new responsibilities and workload is more than what the 10% raise allows for. The worst that can happen is they say no and explain why they believe the 10% is fair.

    2. CAA*

      How does the 10% compare to other annual raises you’ve gotten at this employer? If annual raises are around 2.5%, then this is not a small raise and you probably cannot negotiate for a lot more. However, if annual raises are in the 6% range, then 10% is not much and you might be able to negotiate for more.

      I think you can say “I was hoping for more like $x now that I’ve taken on the responsibility for y and z” either way, but the amount of x has to be tailored to the situation. (And this is one of those times when you actually have to give a number.)

        1. CAA*

          Yes, I understand that, but you need to compare the 10% promotion raise to the typical annual raise to know whether or not it’s substantial. OP said it’s a small raise. I am surprised that anyone thinks 10% is a small raise, so I suggested comparing to other raises he’s received to determine whether or not it really is small.

          1. Too Much, Too Soon*

            I call it small because in absolute terms it’s $1.15 more per hour, but percentage wise it does seem large given the responses here.

          2. Artemesia*

            Years ago I wanted to give a long time employee who had done amazingly important things for us but whose salary due to compression was way out of line a big bump. I practically had to promise my second born to get him 10% which was considered impossibly huge. It sounds huge to me, but my son is in a profession where he gets that a couple of times a year. So it really is contextual.

          3. Kit*

            10% is a small raise when you don’t make much. I was just promoted. Previously making $30500, offered $33000, going to ask for $35000 given the details of the job. Each bump is approximately $1/hr.

      1. Too Much, Too Soon*

        I haven’t even worked a year here yet, so I don’t know how it compares. There’s a corporate culture where nobody talks about what they make either, but I think other people in the same position have made more because they can raise families on what they earn. But factoring in bonuses maybe the company thinks 10% is appropriate for my seniority or position.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      Is 10% not a fairly generous raise? I hope you don’t mind my asking – I’m guessing this is field specific?

      1. Too Much, Too Soon*

        I don’t know. I was promoted from leasing agent to assistant property manager, and I kind of thought managers would make more. It’s my first job and my first raise so I don’t have anything to compare it to.

        1. CAA*

          “Manager” is a funny word in job titles, and it doesn’t always come with a big raise. In general, managers who have people reporting to them will earn more than managers of projects, properties, or things. Obviously there are exceptions to that, but at the entry level where you are in your career, that’s a decent rule of thumb.

          Also as an Assistant Property Manager, the “Assistant” part is actually more relevant to your wage than the “Manager” part of your title. You are making $12.65/hr (based on your comment above) and presumably you are assisting somebody, e.g. a Property Manager, a position whose starting wage might be in the $15 to $17/hr range (that’s just a gut feel based on your wage). As an assistant, you aren’t going to earn more than the person you assist. There also has to be room to give you intermediate raises between what you make now and what the position above you starts at. So the 10% you got with the promotion is probably about right.

          To confirm that, you can do some research. Find out what Assistant Property Managers and Property Managers in your area who work on similar properties earn. You can gather this info by looking at job postings online, searching the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, googling for salary surveys, etc. If you do find that you’re grossly underpaid, you can either bring that up with your boss or decide to take that new info and your experience and look for a job that would pay better.

          You can also take a look at the growth potential and turnover within your company and see how long it’s likely to take you to get the next promotion if you continue to excel at your current role. One good thing about entry level jobs and the improving economy is that a good employee may be able to move up the first two or three rungs of the ladder pretty quickly.

          1. no name this time*

            I used to work at a large retail shopping center management company. The general manager, property manager, made about $80k/year, and at larger centers that would have an assistant, they made about $40k-$50k.

            But that was for larger properties.

      2. Elizabeth H.*

        If it’s really $1.15 more per hour then it meant that Too Much, Too Soon was making $11.50 pre raise and $12.65 now. That’s a pretty low wage in general and when the numbers are so low already then $1.15 is not a big difference. It’s the difference between making $23,920 and $26,312 per year. (if 40 hr work week). However if the difference in bonus potential makes it more like a 22% increase over previous then that is like 29k and more meaningful of a bump up (assuming bonuses are regularly met I guess – I’m not familiar with that type of structure)

    4. Friday*

      Totally depends on the market value of your new role – do you know if you are over/underpaid with that 10% raise in relation to what other companies will pay for that role?

      1. Say what, now?*

        Yeah, I’d look into this before you try to get more. If you know that other people with similar experience (and I mean not only industry experience but also managerial experience) are making significantly more that’s one thing. However, you may find it’s within norms for your field.

        And to be honest 10% is a pretty significant raise most places. We get around 2% annually where I work.

      2. Bookworm*

        I agree with this. People seem to be bringing up their annual raises (for which, I agree, 10% would be large) but if this is a new job it makes sense that it comes with a different salary. It’s reasonable to get a sense of what’s normal for the industry and try to negotiate from there.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      What industry/role are you in? Everywhere I’ve been, 10% would be an amazing raise, not small at all.

    6. Old Jules*

      Organization tend to see promotional increase as a combined total of base + bonus increase. So while your promotional might be 10%, how many % is in the bonus potential increase? As you get further into management, more and more of your compensation mix will move into variable/bonus/incentive side of the equation.

      1. Too Much, Too Soon*

        That makes sense. With the bonus potential I think the increase is higher and more justified. I have to check my manual, but based off this first paycheck I think wages+ bonus it’s something like 22%. In which case I’ll probably not ask for more.

    7. Brontosaurus*

      10% is actually a pretty good raise.
      Combined with bonus potential, I think you’re being unreasonable-you need to look at your total comp package. Bonuses are often perf Romance based (yours) and many companies give higher bonuses and lower base raises in part to not punish someone for having a mediocre year (ie maybe you had family stuff that made a more difficult workload impossible etc). But sure it’s also better for the company (which is what other commenters will say).

      For context, I got a 25% bonus and a 4% raise this past year after falling in the top 10% of my peers.

    8. nacho*

      Depends on the kind of promotion. 10%’s all I got when I was promoted too, but that’s partially because it was recognized that this isn’t a huge step up responsibility-wise.

    9. Coywolf*

      Well 10% is a really good raise if he was being paid fairly to begin with. I would take other people’s suggestions to look into what other people in your area doing your work, for your current position and your previous one, are earning.

  4. Database Geek*

    Still job searching…. still waiting to hear back from two places, but I have a felling one is going to be a no … they indicated I’d hear something earlier this week OR they’d let me know if it would take until after Thanksgiving to decide? I have a feeling they may have just moved on with someone else.

    In other news i have an interview next week though I’m not sure about it the organization. They seem to have had some labor issues in one state and no longer operate there (I’m not sure about the details). Also … it’s the type of organization that deals with a specific disability and I realized after I applied they may be associated with an other organization that is strongly disliked by those with that disability…. I’m not even sure I’d want to work there so……. I have no clue. On the other hand turning down any interview opportunities is not a good thing at this point, right?

    1. Jimbo*

      I’d say go on the interview and treat it as practice at the very least.

      But do your due diligence and research the org’s press releases, policy positions and check their Wikipedia page for any controversial mentions. But practice on interviews can only be a good thing. Good luck!

    2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      If you are job searching, you really should take the interview. This is one of those times you will regret more in you don’t do something than if you do. I don’t think you will regret meeting and talking to people. And you can ask questions you have about their public image. I think with the nature of November/December holidays and end of year fiscal wrap ups, lots of companies will be putting a hold on hiring till after the new year, and those that are hiring will have people in and out. Things will be slow for job hunters. Come January you don’t want to start thinking you “gave up your only chance” and make a bad decision then.

    3. Bacon Pancakes*

      I wouldn’t say the other is definite “no”. With it being a holiday week, there may be things that happened that prevented them from giving you an answer. I wouldn’t stop the job search, but maybe the hiring manager was off Wed-Fri and the HR manager got the flu Tues so they just put the final decision on hold until next week. Good luck!!

  5. feelingwishywashy*

    Has anyone else ever regretted accepting a job offer? Or actually backed out of one after signing the offer letter?

    Background: I accepted an offer last week with a start date mid next month, and now I almost wish I hadn’t. It sounded great at the time, but then I got several calls earlier this week from a company I’d prefer to work for and I’m questioning last week’s decision. I get that a bird in the hand is better than one in the bush, but I currently have a job and have not given notice yet, so it’s not like the wolf would be howling at the door if the dream company didn’t end up making an offer.

    1. Sled dog mama*

      I had this happen to me sort of. Got an offer and let them know I had interviewed that day with another company who told me to expect an offer. They gave me a week before I had to respond I waited and waited on an offer from the second company finally signed the first offer ( I was looking due to my position being eliminated at old company). Next day the second company calls with an offer 30% higher than what I accepted ( and the market norm for experience/education) .
      I seriously considered backing out of the offer I had signed. Ultimately you are the only one who can decide what’s best for you. I have not regretted taking this offer for one day.

    2. NewJobWendy*

      No but people do change their minds and refuse job offers after already having accepted. It’s not uncommon but it will likely burn a bridge. Unless you signed something with actual contractual obligations, nothing stops you from saying “Changed my mind,not coming to work for you after all.”. But consider your reputation. Some industries and locations are smaller than others.

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      I’ve done it only once. I knew it would be a burned bridge, but I could not ignore the bad information I got about the company from two different sources the day after I accepted.

      The funny thing is, it didn’t end up being a completely burned bridge. When I talked to the (in-house) recruiter to rescind my acceptance, she sounded upset but not entirely surprised. And she ended up contacting me about a year later trying to hire me somewhere else that she had since moved to. So I guess I still have a solid rep with her, if likely not with management at the agency I turned down.

    4. Close Bracket*

      Those calls are just calls. Nothing means anything until you have an offer letter in your hand.

      Ask yourself this: if the other company hadn’t called, would you take the offer you had with no qualms?

  6. Blank*

    I may finally have secured another 6mo renewal on my contract, after eight weeks of grinding through approvals and HR taking two weeks to remember they were told to process the extension. But: done! I should see the official letter soon.

    Shout-out to other highly educated millennials in precarious employment – since I’ll have a job through to the summer, first round’s on me tonight.

    1. Overeducated*

      Cheers from another highly educated millennial in precarious employment! Glad the next step is proceeding.

    2. Soz*

      Yay! Well done you!

      I’m also a millennial in precarious employment – although annoyingly a week after being told I had a 12-month extension I was let go :( so looking for my next job! first round on me when I get the next one!

  7. DC*


    That interview went FANTASTIC. I walked out so excited about it. They called the next day to offer the job.

    And… Even with how awful the my current place is, I am leaning towards saying no and walking away.

    It’s a little terrifying.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Why are you leaning towards no?

      I’ve noticed this a lot on here actually: someone has an offer that they seem to want to take, but they hesitate due to fear of change and uncertainty.

      Ask yourself if you’d prefer the unknown or the if-only.

      1. Rick The Dev*

        Yeah, fear of change is a big one. I’ve felt that when I was about to change jobs before. Think back to all the things that made you start looking — that’s what’s helped me and I’m sure many others.

      2. DC*

        So, I’m leaning towards no due to the person I have been interacting with for the offer and negotiation: he was terribly sexist and the idea of working with him stresses me out. Among other red flags (thanks to this site for helping me know what to identify!), it took me from excited to a little bit of dread.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Is this person the actual hiring manager you’d be working for, or is it someone in HR? Because I would hesitate to not take a job due to the behavior of someone in an unrelated department who wouldn’t manage my day to day. And it’s possible the employer doesn’t even know this person behaves this way with job candidates, so I wouldn’t necessarily extrapolate from that that the company’s views are the same.

          However, if this guy is the hiring manager, then yeah – I’d walk too.

          1. DC*

            Well, that’s actually one of the red flags. He’s not the direct supervisor, and he’s not the HR person- he’s a different VP and I’m unclear why he’s part of the process. But it’s a small start-up team so I’ll be working with him regardless.

            So I’m torn because he isn’t the supervisor or hr, but would be a solid part of the day to day. And I am under no illusions to liking everyone wherever I end up, but to immediately have this happen is…not great.

            1. Say what, now?*

              Sexism in a startup is unlikely to be checked. They tend to be rife with these sorts of problems because there is no HR. I’d probably step away from it, but I tend to avoid startups as a general rule because they also tend to be horrible at respecting boundaries in general. (You may find a different one that is a unicorn in a pile of kicked horses, though. It’s not like they HAVE to be bad in this way.)

            2. Afiendishthingy*

              Definitely agree with WellRed and SWN. Small startup, sexist VP who makes you that uncomfortable during the interview process? Listen to your gut. There’s a difference between having a few coworkers you don’t like and working in a hostile work environment without the protections of a larger company.

        2. fposte*

          Will he be your manager? Is the money/commute/benefits better?

          It seems to me if your current job is awful and the new job may be better paid and have one awful guy that you don’t see much, it’s still worth moving. If you’re going to be working for the awful guy and it’s no more money, then it’s probably not. But if I were really miserable at my current job I’d be willing to leave for a mix of good and suck in a way I wouldn’t if I liked my current job. So what you do with a flag may be situational.

          1. DC*

            He wouldn’t be my direct manager, no, and the package/commute would be slightly worse in exchange for a slightly higher salary.

            But I will keep in mind that it’s situational, this is good advice, thank you.

            1. I get that*

              Sounds like a wash financially so it’s all about the environment. Is he worse than what you have now and could you stay at the new job for two years?

              1. DC*

                As much as my current places sucks, at least I know how to handle it and it’s a known quantity of suckage. While fear of change is a real thing (and I took time to evaluate things to make sure it wasn’t just that), the fact that I’m already seeking suckage makes me concerned. Hopefully validly.

            2. Elizabeth H.*

              If it’s basically a wash BUT the commute is worse and the benefits are worse I wouldn’t do it. Commute and benefits have the biggest influence on quality of life imo.

          2. neverjaunty*

            He’s a VP and it’s a small company. That makes it a lot worse than “this one guy in a different department”.

            1. fposte*

              I was using that as a hypothetical construct. The post about his being VP hadn’t gone up when I was making my comment.

    2. Close Bracket*

      Yay for the offer!

      You have to do what’s best. You can ask to have more conversations before accepting. Essentially, you would interview them.

  8. A little desperate*

    Full disclosure: I did send an email about this a few weeks ago but I have a meeting about this on Monday and can use all the advice I can get now!

    I’ve been offered a promotion with an insultingly low raise that would have my salary below the going rate for employees a rung or two below this position (not that I would be managing directly, just in terms of responsibilities, etc). I want the position but negotiating the raise is proving difficult, and I’ve gotten no feedback about why I shouldn’t receive the (industry standard, company appropriate) salary I’ve countered with. We’re so far apart that I’m having a hard time taking my bosses seriously when they talk about how perfect I am and can’t wait to have me in it.

    I know I could get the amount I’m asking for with an offer letter from a competitor, and my bosses know that I’m the type who would do it if I had to… I’m trying to come up with the best way to say “Look, you have all the information and understand why I’ve given you the number I have, please don’t make me bring you an offer letter for this reasonable salary,” or even decide if it’s worth staying if they’re serious about these super low offers

    1. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

      Stand your ground. Why should you take on *more* responsibility and headache for a lower-than-going-rate for lower-leve employees? That makes no sense to me.

      Say no, hold your ground, and make them pony up the $$. You deserve it!

    2. animaniactoo*

      This might be where you have to draw the hard line and say “I appreciate the offer and while it is work I am very interested in doing, I’m not interested in the position at the rate you’re offering.”

      And then don’t go get a competing offer to force them to pay you what you deserve, go get a competing offer at a place you’d actually like to work and accept it.

      1. fposte*

        Yup yup yup. Once you’ve got a competing offer you’re a flight risk anyway; might as well take flight.

      2. Elaine*

        Yes, the competing letter threat might be taken as a threat and I’m not sure it’s worth getting confrontational other than stating the above “I’m not interested in the position at the offered rate.”

    3. CAA*

      That sounds so frustrating! If I were you and could get an offer from a competitor, I’d just accept it and go work there. Your current employer is telling you that they don’t place the same value on your work that you do, so why do you want to keep working at a place that doesn’t value your contribution when you have someone else who will?

    4. Cheesesticks and Pretzels*

      Wow, do you work for my company? I am in the middle of somthing similar but still waiting for an offer (2 months + now). Was told they need to “justify” why I should receive the salary despite my years of working for the company, track record etc..

      Do you have recent payscale reports you can bring with you to show what the industry standard is? I also question if you are willing to go through the effort to get an offer letter from a competitor, why not just work for them? Maybe they will value you far more than your current employer.

    5. Fortitude Jones*

      I’m with the others who say go and get a competing offer and go work for the new company. Your company clearly doesn’t value you if they can’t even explain to you why they don’t believe your number is appropriate for your new responsibilities.

    6. neverjaunty*

      It’s not worth staying. They won’t even pay you the correct rate relative to other jobs in the same company, and won’t tell you why? Even if you get the raise, why fight this battle every time?

    7. CatCat*

      My last employer said that I had to get a competing offer to bring my salary up more in line with my level of skill and experience.

      So now I applies to other places and now work work elsewhere.

      I don’t know why anyone would think telling underpaid employees, “Go look for another job, and then maybe we’ll pay you more based on what they offer” is a good approach to take.

      1. CatCat*

        “So now I applies to other places and now work work elsewhere.”

        Yikes, should have been, “So I applied to other places and now work work elsewhere.”

      2. Emac*

        Wow, that’s as ridiculous as the recent letter whose company flat out told her they’d been underpaying her, after she tried to transfer and got stuck with two jobs (and going from underpaid to vastly underpaid and overworked!)

    8. Erin*

      Well, my angle is a bit different. Are they going to backfill your old role? Or are they planning to just add on more responsibility to your existing role?

      I’ve seen holding firm work well if the company is looking to hire, say, a director, and they offer you, a manager, the gig with the understanding that you’ll hire a manager. Worst case, you decline and they have to go shop the market.

      But if you’re a director already (or whatever), and they are giving you more work and making you, say, a senior director- but not giving you a new director undernyou, they might either (a) tell you to suck it up and this is your job now, and this is your salary, take it or leave it or (b) decide rather than pay you more, they can shop the market and get a more qualified senior director for the price you are asking. Not that they *could* but I have been in these very conversations (“why don’t we just bring in new talent?”).

  9. Rookie Manager*

    We’re recruiting! I’ve had 10 applicants in less than 48 hours and most are terrible. Their personal statement/cover letter says something like “See CV/linked In profile to see how I meet key criteria”. I want to send them back with the suggestion that they do that bit of work not me!

    One applicant that initially looked promising ended her CV with sections entitled Marriage, Children, Pets, Hobbies and Health. If only are online application system could automatically refer people here. *Sigh*

      1. neverjaunty*

        It’s an old one really – it’s one of those things that used to be thought appropriate to put on resume or CV along with marital status. I thought it went out with inviting the boss to dinner.

      2. Rookie Manager*

        “Excellent. Non Smoker.”

        I’ve never seen it before and I have to say, it made me giggle!

      3. Julianne*

        It’s common in some (non-US) places to include it, although in the non-US place I lived, I never encountered a CV that did not describe the individual’s health as “excellent,” even when that was maybe a bit of a stretch. I legitimately have no idea what people in poor health do there with their CVs.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I had to have a health check-up when I started a new job, and it was sight, hearing and blood pressure tests, done by the health service for a particular sector. Although somebody did joke that as long as you had a pulse, you would pass the check-up!

    1. HR Expat*

      I really struggle with reading CVs because of this. The biggest (work-related) thing I miss about moving overseas is the American resume format. It’s succinct and uses relevant information and is usually only 1-2 pages. I received a CV once that was 10 pages, included every school they attended and every job they held. That’s not including their personal interests, which included talking about their dog for a paragraph(!). Fast food jobs from 25 years ago are not relevant to your role as Teapot Financial Director. Ugh!

    2. Mazzy*

      This is how I felt the last time we were hiring. It was like putting up a Match profile, except if you had to run the Match profile by ten people first and get a budget for the boyfriend. I definitely expected more good application materials!

      1. Rookie Manager*

        I’m hopefully the next week will give me some quality responses. When I’m next in the market for a boyfriend maybe I should advertise it on LinkedIn?

      2. Afiendishthingy*

        Oh! We had one that really did look like she’d copied and pasted from a dating profile. It mentioned her height, eye color, and great smile.


    3. Afiendishthingy*

      We had one applicant whose resume included a list of weapons certifications. Like, assault rifles. We were hiring home-based direct support staff to work with children with developmental disabilities.


      1. Strike*

        Was it a “Rusty Shackleford”?

        that sounds like something Dale on King of the Hill would put down. haha

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

      Why oh why am I never competing with people who do this? I’m sure I don’t have the best resume ever but I’m sure it’s better than that!

    5. DDJ*

      Those non-experience/school sections are so weird. I’ve received multiple resumes that have a “Hobbies” section. Like…that’s cool dude, but I don’t particularly care what you like to do on the weekend?

      1. SusanIvanova*

        I got that advice in college. Just because college admissions wants to know that you’re a well-rounded individual, doesn’t mean your first job cares.

      2. new_one*

        You would be surprised. When applying for some high-paying jobs in Western Europe (think consulting, McKinsey & Co.) they actually explicitly ask you about your hobbies. And many sites will actually tell you to add this section.

        I hate the hobbies section myself, but I’ve been told plenty of times I should add it.

        1. AeroEngineer*

          Yep! I have been asked I think in every single interview here in Europe, if they had my CV or not in front of them, as well as it being brought up more as a “get to know you” type thing in a few of my US ones. For one major company it was actually a required question on their official interview sheets that they were required to ask, in two different interview rounds.

          I guess in Europe they care more about the work-life balance and this comes from that? I actually kind of like it as it breaks up the interview a bit.

          1. new_one*

            I don’t like the question. I think an employer should give you a job/ turn you down based on your skills and experience, not if your hobbies are impressive enough.

            But yes, in case of jobs I’ve applied for in Europe I’ve been very frequently asked about my hobbies. I had the impression the most prestigious companies wanted me to impress them since during job interviews my interviewers actually mentioned their hobbies and they were always hobbies to impress people (e.g. “I like motorcycling – I’ve just come back from a journey Portugal-Beijing” or “I run marathons, my last one was in Dehli”). It’s basically classism but classism that comes across as a friendly question.

            I was also asked this question when interviewing for my current position. My current boss used to work for one of the internet giants famous for blurring the line between work and free time, so I guess he couldn’t not have asked it.

    6. DDJ*

      Ooh…and I actually read a reference letter once from someone’s former manager that went into great detail about the fact that she worked so hard and was a single mother and sometimes brought her kids into work but they were great kids, and she obviously raised them well because they were s polite. She was just devoted to her kids and would do anything for them. And on. And on.

      Like…that was a letter that this person included with their own application. We didn’t solicit it. Why would you have a “professional” reference that spends 85% of the letter talking about your marital/family status? There were one or two lines that talked about her work in a full page letter. It was so weird.

  10. The Luidaeg*

    Question re: a staff member with increasing hearing issues.
    I have someone on my team (let’s call him Seamus) who has, over the years, been losing his hearing. I don’t feel like I can tell him, “Please go see your doctor and get hearing aids,” although my supervisor (who has hearing aids), made a comment to him recently about looking at hearing aids. I’m fine with her doing that because she’s known Seamus for years.
    Seamus still hasn’t (to my knowledge, at least) gone to the doctor and frequently, will say “What?” when people ask him questions or come talk to him. And, since we’re in a public library and he is on a public desk . . . well, this can cause issues. He’s a sweet guy, but I’m afraid some patrons may become impatient with him when they have to keep repeating themselves.
    Any thoughts on how I may encourage him, as his supervisor, to get his hearing checked and look into getting some hearing aids?

    1. AK*

      This is tough, my first thought would be that he hasn’t already done something about it because he can’t afford to, so any conversation about it could be difficult. I wish I had something more helpful to suggest, but good luck to both of you navigating the situation.

        1. The Luidaeg*

          Thanks! I had read this, but since in that situation, people were covering for the person with the hearing loss, it’s not quite the same. But, the other person who works with Seamus has told him she’s going to start keeping a list of how many times he says “What” to her to other people.

    2. WellRed*

      Well, his job requires him to interact with the public so you have more standing to say something even if it feels too personal (I am guessing that’s your hesitation). But it is kind if a performance issue. Otherwise, is there another position he can do that doesn’t interact with public?

    3. Liz2*

      As always, wisely, on AAM keep it tied to work and performance. “Seamus, you need to work on making sure you can work a front desk efficiently. If you can’t communicate easily, we can see about moving you to a back office position.” or something.

    4. Seal*

      As his manager, you need to speak up (no pun intended) if you think there’s something going on that’s affecting an employee’s job performance. You can absolutely tell him that you notice he regularly asks people to repeat themselves and ask what you can do to help. If he insists everything’s fine, start documenting how often it’s happening (if you’ve not done so already). Also, talk to both HR and your boss about this. They should be able to provide some direct as well.

    5. Intel Analyst Shell*

      It’s entirely possible he can’t afford them. My husband wears hearing aids and they’ve never been covered by any insurance we’ve ever had, not even partially. We bought him new ones in 2016 and it was $7500 for the pair. We have good credit so we were able to get a good short term loan and paid them off in a year. I work with quite a few people with bad hearing and they simply can’t afford to take on another monthly bill. Most of them are on a waiting list with Vocational Rehabilitation (voc rehab will cover hearing aids partially or fully, but the waiting list is long and you’re prioritized by severity of hearing loss).

        1. EasilyAmused*

          I was going to say the same. I have 2 family members with hearing aids and they cost thousands of dollars all out of pocket. It’s as though being able to communicate and not feel totally isolated from the world (or be able to keep your job!) is not a valid medical expense *smh*

    6. The Luidaeg*

      Thanks, everyone — good suggestions! I am not sure if it’s a cost-related issue, but it is affecting his work performance. Unfortunately, the way we’re structured, I don’t have anywhere else he can work off-desk. But, these suggestions have been helpful, so I’ll see what I may be able to do, going forward.

      At least, unlike another employee who retired some time ago, Seamus does not bellow at people “I can’t hear you. Speak up!!!”

      1. Maliey*

        If there is a cost issue, you might suggest Costco (or local equivalent) as an alternative. My father and grandfather got their hearing aids and supplies though them for years and were always happy with the price and service.

      2. Elaine*

        He may have a disability – being hard of hearing can be that – and you should look for ways to accommodate this disability rather than assuming he’s not taking steps out of neglect. Has Seamus been directly asked if he has problems hearing/told that this is affecting his work? Apologies if I didn’t scroll up properly and missed something.

    7. Big City Woman*

      It’s possible his hearing loss may be due to tinnitus, in which case hearing aids are not always advisable. If you have ringing in the ears (inside your head), adding hearing aids would only amplify the ringing. For some people, cross-directional hearing aids can work for tinnitus sufferers (amplifier in good ear, receiver in bad ear), but they are exorbitantly expensive. Also, unfortunately, audiology tests and hearing aids are often not covered by insurance for some reason.

    8. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      I would not tell him he needs hearing aids. You aren’t his doctor; you don’t know his medical status or the cause of the issues. You’ve made an (honestly pretty accurate but still) assumptive determination that he has hearing loss.

      I struggle at times with my hearing. Background noise and foreground noise are hard to differentiate. I can be on the phone and not be able to hear the person talking to me because colleagues are standing nearby having a conversation. I can be eye to eye with an individual and not be able to hear a single word they are saying because someone has music playing in a nearby room. My ENT says it is auditory ADHD – my brain simply cannot focus on one noise source but receives them all but I do not have an official diagnosis because it requires multiple trips to a psychiatrist and extensive testing for ADD/ADHD. I’ve developed tricks to help focus and tried to get around it by asking people to email me. But yes, I say, “what?” a lot in response to questions. I often give up after two or three requests for someone to repeat something. I’m sure it is frustrating and annoying to others, but it’s just as frustrating to me, if not more so, which makes it next to impossible to fix.

      If you do have concerns, you could address it by acknowledging it privately. “Seamus, I’ve noticed we’ve had to do a lot of repeating our statements and have had missed details in your work. If there is an issue with how requests are delivered to you, please let me know so we can accommodate you. If you need time off for a doctor’s visit, we can certainly work that out.” You aren’t requesting his medical information. You aren’t telling him what his health problems are. But you are acknowledging that something is impacting his work and you are looking for ways to minimize that.

      1. same*

        This is called Auditory Processing Disorder! It’s a thing many people with adhd, sensory processing disorders, and autism spectrum disorders can have (and a thing you can have as a stand-alone thing without any developmental stuff), but it’s not adhd in and of itself. Your ent misled you a little describing it that way – and also you definitely don’t need to see a psychiatrist and get an adhd dx to legitimize it. It might be significantly easier and less $$ to go see an audiologist or ent who knows what the actual dx is. Good luck, it’s a pain and I’ve never really figured out how to cope except being very patient with myself and my friends when I just can’t hear.

      2. The Ludaeig*

        Sorry to hear about what you’re experiencing — it sounds frustrating (to say the least). Thanks for letting me know about this, though — I wasn’t aware, and you’re right, that Seamus may not have hearing loss, but a hearing issue. I like how you phrased the approach with him, which I think I’ll try in the future. As I’ve said, he’s a sweet guy and has some other health issues, so I want to make sure I’m being sensitive.

  11. working thoughts*

    This is a bit weird: what do you do when your reports don’t have enough to do? It’s not their faulty, the industry has changed. They are clerical civil service positions so I can’t eliminate them. There is work to be done, but it is of a higher classification than where they are and although I’ve tried to get them reclassed (with higher salary) but it was not approved. They are great workers in what they do, but it just doesn’t fill a full-time workload anymore. I feel a bit stuck.

    1. Jaybeetee*

      Civil service? You might be able to get some of the staff reassigned somewhere, leaving the remainder of the workload to the others?

      Even if you couldn’t put through a full reclass, maybe get a few of them into acting positions?

      In my office, there’s a professional development program slowly creeping through the works, part of which would promote clerical staff into higher positions.

      Find training you can send them to?

      Talk to your own higher-ups about what you can do?

      Don’t just create busy-work for them, because they’ll know and resent it. This might be a self-solving problem, in that if everyone is sitting around bored all day, probably a few of them are looking for new jobs anyway.

    2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      How do they feel about this? Are they unhappy and bored? Are the concerned that even though it’s civil service, they may not have a job is there is no work to do?
      How does management feel about your staff positions?
      Is your management concerned that jobs might be eliminated or is management saying that’s the job now. Everyone is safe, so we will all continue as we are.

      1. working thoughts*

        I think the general feeling is that they’ll have these jobs until they retire, both from them and from management. I do think they are bored and unhappy, but they are also settled and afraid of change, leading to resistance even to small changes (which is frustrating to me).

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      Training or personal development if it’s short term? If longer term, may need to look at transfers… but traing & pd may make someone show an interest.

    4. smokey*

      Was the reclassification not approved because they lack skills for it- which they can work on- or will it probably never be approved no matter they do?

      1. Bibliovore*

        There could be a few things going on.
        They are lifers and do not want to do more even though their present work is lacking.
        Check the civil service manual. I did that and discovered that I was permitted to assign work to be 60 percent in the higher class without changing the their class.
        Yes, that seems unfair but no more unfair than receiving a wage for full time work that doesn’t exist. If the job formerly was twenty percent typing and filing catalog cards and we don’t do that anymore, the employee is being retrained to do copy cataloging. There was pushback as cataloging is at the higher level, yet the staff was capable of the work and there was no evidence that the work needed a higher level of skills. Most realized a job is better than no job.

  12. Augusta Sugarbean*

    I sent the below email to eleven different accounting firms/municipal finance departments asking for advice. Not a single one has replied. Any accountant-type people here who could shed some light – both on the certificates and on the email itself if there is something obviously wrong with it? Thank you!

    I am looking at taking some accounting classes at [local community college] and was hoping to get advice from someone in the industry.

    I have a bachelors degree in biology and over the past few years have taken additional classes in math, statistics, and economics. Looking at the Accelerated Accounting curriculum, I’m trying to find out if that would be enough to get my foot in the door in an accounting support role. The Accelerated Accounting classes include:

    Introduction to Accounting
    Payroll Accounting
    Principles of Accounting I
    Computer Accounting Applications
    Electives (probably Principles of Accounting II & Project Management)

    The program appears to be designed for people new to the work world and so also requires courses in Excel, Word, keyboarding, etc. I have worked as an administrative assistant and have many years of experience in those areas but it doesn’t sounds like I’d be able to get those classes waived or test out of them. I would like to know if a hiring manager would see the core classes as sufficient or would I need to show the full certificate to be a viable job candidate.

    I’d appreciate any input you could offer. If there are any other resources you feel would be helpful, I’d be grateful. Thank you and have a good day.

    1. AK*

      I don’t see anything wrong with the email itself other than the unsolicited sending of it. This seems more like a question for guidance counselors or professors at the community college, who might then be able to connect you with someone professionally to answer this for you. I wouldn’t expect to hear back from anyone who received it out of the blue with no connection to you.

      1. Mazzy*

        Yup, the email is fine, but there is too much social pressure within companies not to respond to random emails like this. Everyone will be looking for a legal liability or obligation where one may or probably doesn’t exist, and if one person takes it upon themselves to respond, and a higher up finds out, they might get in trouble. Or have to forward the response internally and have it critiqued. Yeah, not worth the effort to respond.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I wonder if it’s because the email is quite long and doesn’t quickly get to the point? I would be inclined to cut all the detail about classes etc and just ask if anyone there has time to talk to you about jobs doing x as you are studying y.

      I’m not from that field though.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Agreed. I think it would be better to lead with a simple question about whether they have the time/ability to answer a few questions for you, and then follow up with the details if you get a positive response. Bear in mind that a) we’re heading into tax season now, and b) their employer may regard the email as ‘personal’ rather than business communication and may have restrictions against personal email use at work.

    3. Friday*

      Hi Augusta,

      Check into how many accounting classes you need to get an AA degree – that’s usually the bare minimum that employers want to see for a bookkeeper.

      I wanted a career change about six years ago as well, so I took a ton of accounting classes and ended up sitting and passing the CPA exam, and now I work in finance (was in sales). I encourage you to look at all types of accounting and finance jobs to see what interests you most and what sort of requirements the employers have, then work toward that. Pay especially close attention in your current industry – that’s the great thing about accounting; it’s in all industries! So you’ll already have your foot in the door by knowing your current industry in a ____ (current role – sales? research? etc. etc.) capacity. Good luck!

    4. fposte*

      Agreeing with others that it’s not likely to be something people would answer out of the blue. It’s asking a stranger who hasn’t volunteered to help to assist with your homework.

      This is a situation where some networking could really be useful. Try your university alumni network to see if there are any accountants available for alumni contacts, and also just cast the net broadly among friends and family.

    5. Nervous Accountant*

      Depends. I don’t have an accounting degree (my degree is unrelated) but an Enrolled agent license. That’s what got me in the door at my company.

    6. NewJobWendy*

      So my background is similar to yours…I have a Master’s Degree and 10 years of professional experience split evenly between customer service and office management. Then I decided I wanted to be an accountant. You need the Associate’s degree. I had phone screen after phone screen where I was eliminated because I lacked an accounting degree. I am doing my Associates online through a community college. Tons of credits transferred in from my existing education, but yes, I had to take some basic Excel and math classes too. I have 5 classes left in my degree and did finally land an accounting job, so nothing stops you from searching while you’re in school, but my current accounting roles as accounts receivable doesn’t even rely on my accounting knowledge all that much and they were more interested in other skills. So the right fit is out there, but it took me almost a year.

      1. Natalie*

        For what it’s worth, it’s not necessarily true that you need the degree. I’m a senior in house accountant with no accounting degree, but I do have accounting experience and have taken accounting coursework.

    7. KL*

      As an accounting department hiring manager, I really look for the degree as one of my initial screening criteria, and usually require a bachelors degree even for the entry level positions. However I work for a large company so it’s going to be different in a small company where the entry level jobs can often be filled with just a certificate or Associates.
      For your specific situation because you have a 4 year degree in another field if you listed that degree as well as that your degree/certificate in Accounting was in progress you would likely at least get past our original screening and get to a phone screen (entry level roles).
      At that point it’s about culture fit as well as being bright and motivated.

    8. DDJ*

      If you’re still looking for input, I can tell you that I work an accounting-type job, and I got into it through working my way up. I started out in a very entry-level role, and when I got my current job, it was based on my work experience, not my education. But it was recommended that I take multiple accounting courses. Which I did, because I was reimbursed by my employer after passing them.

      There are definitely some finance/accounting roles that are going to require a certificate/diploma/degree, but certainly not all. Especially when you’re looking at more of a support role. So if it were me and I saw someone with a good deal of administrative experience AND some core accounting courses, that would be fine for the types of roles I hire for. My manager doesn’t even have an accounting designation (though a couple of my coworkers do).

  13. McWhadden*

    I have kind of a weird accidental gifting up dilemma at work where I’m the up.

    I work in a small department of a large organization and our department is seated near another much larger department. So, we end up chatting and low-key work socializing with that other department a lot. On Wednesday we got out early and a few women from the other department, myself, and the admin in my department (I am technically above her in a managerial role but I don’t do performance reviews or any direct oversight) went to lunch. Since we were off the clock we had a few cocktails.

    When the bill came I put my card in and one of the women took it out and said I wasn’t paying anything because it was my birthday lunch (my birthday just passed.) The women in the other department had planned that (although they didn’t tell me) but I don’t think my admin knew. Which was sweet of them but unnecessary and I protested to no avail.

    But then my admin was in the position of having to pay for part of my lunch as a birthday gift. Which is gifting up and I’m not sure in her budget (unlike everyone else there she is a single mom of four kids.) The bill wasn’t insane or anything but we did all have drinks on top of food.

    After my general objections were ignored I felt it would be more awkward in the moment to single her out as not having to pay for me. But I am wondering if I should give her just a “thank you for your work” card with a Visa gift card or something to make up for it.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      It’s wonderful that you’re aware of this and great that you were concerned.

      I’ve only ever been in the position of being on the bottom rung of the power pole in offices and I know that I would have been a little unhappy at having to buy lunch for my boss, even if I really liked my boss, particularly if I was a single mom with four kids (how on earth does she do it?).

      I think a Visa gift card would be a great idea. Since it’s coming up to the end of the year, you could say that you’ve been really happy with her work this year and you just want her to know how much you appreciate her.

      I’m sure she’ll be surprised and delighted by it.

    2. Liz2*

      I would address it directly actually. “Hey Marisa, sorry for the surprise lunch the other day. Here’s a gift card to make up for it, I really liked you being there and want make sure you know I won’t let that happen again.”

      Protest to no avail? You MAKE it an avail- just because they are too blind to recognize it’s rude to offer other people’s money, doesn’t mean you let it happen. You are the manager, you protect your person. “I really appreciate the thought, but this really needs to be on me and we can plan an outing later for my birthday ahead of time.”

      1. fposte*

        Yup, I agree. It’s understandable that it wasn’t easy to negotiate in the moment, but avoiding financial punishment of a junior staffer is more important than the feelings of the people who wanted to treat you.

      2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        I like this better than giving the gift card with no explanation. She will then be wondering, since it’s a new thing, is this because of the lunch? Are we doing gifts now?
        Just say exactly what Liz2 says with a gift card (instead of giving her the $10 cash or however much it was and making it seem you think she’s petty, repaying her down to the penny) and it will be a wow, yeah! moment that will bring you together more.

      3. McWhadden*

        If I say that’s the reason she will absolutely not accept it.

        If I had made a fuss in the moment it would have been perceived that it was because of her and even if I said otherwise it would be assumed it’s because she doesn’t have enough money.

        I don’t think humiliating her in the moment would have been helpful.

        1. Liz2*

          Well it isn’t because of her, it’s because you don’t let other people decide how money should be spent unilaterally. It’s not “making a fuss” it’s “shutting down other people making social mistakes.”

          If you know she’s that prickly to take a well intentioned correction as a slight, then mention it no more and just don’t let it happen again.

        2. fposte*

          I don’t see why it would be perceived to be about her, or why it would matter that much if it was–I’d rather my lower pay be perceived to be a problem than *not* perceived to be a problem. “No, but thanks for the thought!” It doesn’t have to be a fuss; just keep it short and breezy and hand the server the credit card.

        3. Dragonsnap*

          For what it’s worth, I get what you’re saying and agree. I have been the lower paid person in a similar scenario and drawing more attention to me after the initial attempt would have been embarrassing. Although that is with the major caveat that I could still pay rent, buy food, etc. so it wasn’t a huge burden. I think give the card but with a white lie about why, if you explicitly say it is to make up for lunch I think she will be uncomfortable accepting it.

      4. Say what, now?*

        I think this is a little harsh, Liz2. She didn’t let it happen idly, she tried to put the kibosh on it, but this was a rough situation. There is a real risk to inter-departmental relations if she were to make herself seem aloof or ungrateful, which was a very possible outcome if she’d pushed the envelope further. I think she’s doing the best she can by her person.
        I wouldn’t speak to the assistant directly because you risk embarrassing her by putting her on the spot to say something like “oh, no! It was your birthday and I was happy to contribute!” I’d just do the card and write it from the stance that it’s about your personal business ethics, not about her contribution.

        1. Steph*

          And the event has happened now, so we can’t really say “you should have done this…”, anyway. It’s done and we don’t always have the perfect answer in the moment in awkward situations.
          I think the Visa card is a lovely idea.
          I also wonder, though, if it could be quietly and privately brought up with the ring-leader of the lunch-buying colleagues? Not in a “my report doesn’t have a lot of money” way but a “I think we should be wary of putting our reports in the position of being pressured to gift up” way. Of course the colleagues menat no harm at all, they just didn’t consider the entire picture and this may be the best opportunity to present it to them for their future reference.

        2. A.N.O.N.*

          I think that’s a brilliant idea, Say what, now?.

          Give her the gift card and say that it’s because of your own personal issues with the idea of employees gifting up.

          This makes it about a weird quirk of yours, rather than about her. As you said, if you tried just giving it to her, she might refuse. But if you make it about your own moral principals, she should be more likely to accept.

          I disagree with giving it to her for her “good work” because you don’t want to set a precedent. She doesn’t directly report to you and it would be odd to single her out from all your other coworkers. Plus, it might send mixed signals to her for next year.

      5. Akcipitrokulo*

        I’d agree with this… and if worried about her refusing it, just put it in a nice card and don’t be there when she opens it.

  14. Chelsea*

    Any advice for letting your staff know that you have resigned? I’m the manager of a team that is already severely short staffed and over worked. I broke my ankle 7 months ago and can’t physically put in 70 hour weeks like I was, so I don’t think anyone will be surprised, but I am heartbroken to tell them. I resigned with my boss about a month ago, but wanted to wait to tell the staff as morale is already not great and we are very very busy during the holidays. I’ll be telling them about a month before I leave, any advice on how to tell them and how to field questions, etc. during my last month?

    1. CAA*

      Tell everyone in person, in a team meeting if you can manage it. If anyone is absent, call that person afterwards and let them hear it from you.

      Just say that you’ve resigned and when your last day will be. If you know what the company’s plans are for replacing you (posting your position internally, hiring from outside, whatever), give them that info as well. If annual reviews are coming up, tell them how you’ll be handling those or to whom you’ll be passing along your input. Offer to have one-on-ones with anyone who would like to discuss the transition in more detail.

  15. Nic*

    A few weeks ago I sent a text to a coworker (fellow night supervisor) reminding him that I was taking vacation that week, and he was covering. He replied “I got your vacation baby girl.” He had previously asked me for a hug, and called me “hottie”. This time I spoke up, told him I was not comfortable even with close friends using a term like that, and he’s been professional since.

    Yesterday I found out that he had obtained (from our records) the phone number of one of the employees on a different shift, and texted her at 2am, calling her “Mama” and saying that it wasn’t work related. She apparently went off on him and told him she was in a relationship. I do not know if she has gone to HR; I heard about this through her (day shift) supervisor.

    This is a male dominated workplace. There is one other female on night shift, and he is her direct supervisor. I’ve heard through general conversation that he spends a lot of time over at her desk. There are only three other women in the department (about 40 men, total). I’m worried for all of them.

    I wasn’t planning on going to HR before, because he has been appropriate since I talked to him, but this is seriously creepy. I was thinking about asking the other women if they’d received any unsolicited, non-work related texts from anyone at work, and to let me know if they do. Would that be overstepping? If the woman involved from day shift doesn’t want to go to HR, would it be wrong of me to go to them and mention that it has been more than just me, but the other person doesn’t want to come forward?

    I’m at a loss.

    1. AK*

      Gross. Take your experience to HR for sure. I don’t know how much you can report things for other people, but I would imagine that her own supervisor would have some weight behind sharing that with HR. If they told you, would they also report his actions for having a negative impact on that shift staff or going through their records?

      1. Nic*

        Her supervisor told me, I’m never on shift at the same time as she is. I can try to reach out for sure, though!

        1. Ann O.*

          What did her supervisor say? I am surprised that accessing an employee’s records for personal use like that isn’t an automatic firing or suspension, which makes me also surprised that the affected employee’s supervisor told you but not HR.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I wouldn’t ask any other women but I would approach the woman he did contact, tell her that you’ve had a similar experience with him and you’re planning on taking it to HR, would she consider doing the same?

      (Unfortunately, strength in numbers is better here.)

      I would be hesitant to tell HR that it has been more than just you without concrete facts but you can say you’ve heard rumors about his treatment of other women and that’s part of the reason you’re coming forward now to get it solved, just in case those rumors are true.

      If he’s getting these women’s numbers from the system then that is a really bad thing (as is everything else he’s doing). I think you’re in a position where you have the ability to stop him and you should do it, if you’re comfortable with that.

      Good luck and I’m sorry you have to deal with this.

    3. animaniactoo*

      I would go to HR and I would report the situation that made you uncomfortable with it, your handling, and the subsequent result. I would mention that I had heard this other unverified story in passing, and you would like there to be documentation of your incident in case someone else also has an issue with him. So that there is a record and appropriate steps can be taken if it becomes clear there is a problem with this particular employee.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        This 1,000x. I reported a professor in college (when the guys in your class are telling you they think the prof is sexist and shouldn’t have made the off color comment of the day it’s not good). I knew that it would be very obvious who made the report if it got back to him and it was at a point in my academic career and life where I could not have continued had I needed to retake or fight my grade in that class so I made it very clear that I was reporting because I wanted a record for others if this became a pattern for the professor and that I had heard from other students that he said inappropriate things in other classes.

        I should be clear all the students let this prof know we felt uncomfortable from some of his comments what I reported was inappropriate touching.

    4. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      I’m sorry this is happening to you and you are left to deal with it.
      I have no answer about what you should say to HR, only that I hope you do speak to HR.
      It makes me realize that when individuals write about things like this, they are not the only ones. He is trying it on everyone. And he will keep going until he is made to stop.
      Good luck.

    5. Engineer Girl*

      HR will be looking for any excuse to not deal with this. You’ll need strength in numbers.
      Yes, the guy backed off when you told him to knock it off. Include that in your statement. That said, he should never have said those things in the first place.
      I would coordinate with the other women to let them know they aren’t alone. They will be far more willing to come forward as a group than by themselves.
      I would absolutely ask the other women if they’ve received texts. Compare notes then go as a group. It’s been my personal experience that a man that hurts one woman will do it to most. I’m betting dollars to donuts that you’re not the only one.

    6. Girasol*

      I suggest that you go to HR and urge your coworkers to do likewise but don’t tell HR anything that you’ve heard from them. I found out long ago that when a group of peers says, “Yeah, something should be done! You go to HR! We’re behind you!” and I’ve done it on behalf of the whole group, HR came back to them with uncomfortable questions and they folded. “No, everything’s fine with me. I don’t know what she’s talking about.” If that happened in this situation it would not only damage your credibility but would likely put paid to you or them ever doing anything about this mess again.

    7. Afiendishthingy*

      Is the woman he texted at 2 am his peer, or is his position more senior? If it’s the latter, I think ethically you need to let HR know this is happening.

      1. Afiendishthingy*

        Also, was he only able to access the record with her phone number because he is a supervisor?

        1. Nic*

          He is a higher level than she is, and the only reason he had access is that he’s a supervisor. It’s really icky.

          1. Afiendishthingy*

            Ok. Let’s see if I remember my recent sexual harassment training for supervisors. I think that as a fellow supervisor who knows about Skeevopher’s actions, you have an obligation to report him. You should talk to NotHisMama and let her know that it needs to be reported. She can have some say in how that happens, but ultimately if NotHisMama doesn’t want to come forward you still need to report it, so tell her that. I know that totally sucks and that it obviously can’t remain totally confidential, but it would stay on a need to know basis, he would not be allowed to work on same shift as her during investigation, she (and you) would be legally protected from retaliation. At this point if your HR dept is any good they’re probably going to want to talk to other female employees about whether they’ve experienced any unwanted advances.

            Skeevopher’s texts to you are relevant in the context of his texts to NotHisMama, and they’re gross. But since he changed his behavior after you told him to stop, I think it could have ended there; the exchange with NotHisMama pushes it over the line into HR territory.

            I’d be interested to hear Alison’s take on this.

    8. Morticia*

      Am I the only one who’s thinking this guy has been watching way too much Criminal Minds and picturing himself as Shemar Moore? Reporting might be good, because otherwise, he might never stop until he finds his “Garcia”.

  16. papermess*

    What’s your personal best practice for tackling projects/tasks that you procrastinate because they are boring/rote/not your thing, etc? Do you do it first thing in the morning? Dedicate one day a week? Reward yourself with a coffee break? Set a timer? I haven’t found a solution that works for me.

    1. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

      All of the above! :)
      Seriously, the longer you put if off, the bigger and more awful it feels. For example, I *loathe* talking on the phone so I get those done first thing on the day I Have To Make Dreaded Phone Calls, and boom! they’re done! Anxiety and worry about them is done, and I can move on with me happier day.

    2. CAA*

      I block time on my calendar and just force myself to work on them. Usually I do it in the late afternoon because that’s the quietest part of my day due to time differences with colleagues and customers.

    3. Birch*

      Have you tried the Pomodoro technique? There’s a few free apps that are based on it–I use one called Clear Focus. You can set work periods and break periods–the idea is that you have something like 4-5 work periods of about 20 minutes with 5 minute breaks in between, then a longer 15 minute break (or whatever timing works for you). I’m an arousal procrastinator so I NEED deadlines, and knowing I have to get this email done in 20 minutes is a huge motivation for me! Plus then I can check my social media or fill up my coffee cup before moving on to the next task. I’m also obsessed with to-do lists. I love checking things off. If you make one main (small) goal for each Pomodoro work session, you get to check off so many things a day!

      I would also say, don’t lump all those tasks together because you’ll burn yourself out. Right now I have a MILLION things to do that I do not want to do, but I try to get a few of them done a day and don’t beat myself up about the rest of the stuff. Cognitively, it’s better to set small goals and mix up your routine so your brain is more alert–plus you’ll make fewer mistakes on the rote/boring tasks. (Trust me, I’m a neuroscientist.)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      All the above and sometimes I use the reward system. I have another task that I can’t wait to do because I know it will go well or can’t wait to see what it looks like when done, etc. So I do undesirable task first and then move on to the better task
      Other times I just look forward to getting the millstone off my neck.

      Some things have no ONE solution. This is because what works one day may or may not work the next day. I would encourage you to have several motivational devices that you use and run down the list until something works.
      I will say there have been days where I pictured myself being escorted out to my car because I failed to do X and I have lost my job because of it. Sometimes fear is the only thing that works.

    5. Emalia*

      I’m a serial task avoider. In my job, it’s easy to be because I can never be on top of everything. I’m always doing something. That said, when I intentionally avoid something I don’t want to do and I know it is important, I can be really hard on myself. I’ve had to be thoughtful on what I need to do to avoid doing this to myself.
      I second many of the above suggestions. I LOVE Pomodoro. If it is something I REALLY don’t want to do, I’ll just set the timer for 10 minutes (or shorter). I’ll also typically start the day with the projects that are more menial. I’m more alert then so focusing is easier. For projects I’m engaged with, it’s easier to focus even if I’m losing energy. I also make a list every morning of my priorities for the day. I’ll typically list a couple of non-preferred tasks and one enjoyable task. Once I get through the list, I can add more “fun” things to the daily task list. Moving from one task to the next on the list helps me avoid thinking about why I don’t want to do something. It is just the next thing on the list that needs to be done.
      I’ve also learned that sometimes I need to give myself a bit of a pep talk (corny, I know). I’ll remind myself how good it will feel when I’m done. Or I’ll find a way to make myself curious about some part of the project. Or I’ll remind myself why it needs to be done. Or I’ll remind myself that the more often I do it, the faster I’ll get.
      A lot of times, I’ll start listening to a podcast. I’ve noticed that I start working on something much more quickly because by focusing on the podcast, I’m not thinking about all the other things I’d rather be doing. Maybe you can find something that gets your mind off your feelings regarding the project.
      It will be helpful if you figure out why you’re avoiding a task. Is it going to take hours? Even if is rote, is it causing you stress because you want to make sure it’s perfect? Are you worried that doing something “not your thing” is going to get you stuck on a project in this area?

  17. Nicole*

    I’m at my first job out of college and it’s turning out to be a pretty dysfunctional toxic workplace (for example, a staff member was coming into work drunk in the mornings and when the person who works closest with the drunk complained she was punished for “not staying in her lane”. Also, my direct manager is in a group text with some of her reports where they complain about and make fun of other workers )

    I want out desperately, but this job was very hard won. How do a frame my wanting to leave so soon in a cover letter so I don’t look like a classic job hopper?

    1. AMD*

      I think Alison usually says you get one “freebie” short job on your resume, to account for poor fit, but you just need to make sure your next job is one you can stay at for an extended period (2+ years.) You don’t look like a job hopper until it becomes a pattern. Just make sure you really probe into the next position to make sure it’s a good fit before accepting.

    2. fposte*

      Leaving one job right out of college after eight months is not going to brand you a job hopper. Go ahead and start looking.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Agree. It’s a first job and you stuck around in this hellhole for eight months, bless you. Nobody is going to blink at the idea that you may be looking for a better fit or a job with more room to advance.

    3. Fortitude Jones*

      I don’t know if that’s something you would address directly in a cover letter – seems like something you’d discuss in an interview. Your cover letters should be about why you want the particular job you’re applying for, not why you want out of the one you currently have.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, yeah, I missed this. Don’t bring it up in the cover letter, and don’t even bring it up in the interview unless you’re asked.

    4. Seal*

      Certainly don’t address it in your cover letter, but expect people to ask why you want to leave your job in an interview. At that point, don’t address the dysfunction at your current job as the reason you’re leaving. When asked, you can tell people that you’re looking for new opportunities or something more in line with your long-term career goals or a position that allows you to build on your education. If you frame it that way, people will not look at you as a job hopper if you’re looking for another job less than a year out of college.

      1. o.b.*

        I agree with this in spirit, but a caveat—it can sometimes come off as (I have come off as) a little naïve saying you’re looking for growth or new opportunities when you’ve only had a job for 8 months. Everyone understands that sometimes you just have a shitty job, and if you’re tactful and not disparaging, I think it’s fine to say some aspects weren’t the right fit for you, but New Company seems great in those areas because a b c

      2. Natalie*

        Eep, no, I would not say this as you’ve only been at the job for 8 months. Especially since you’re a new grad.

        “Don’t bash your current employer” doesn’t mean you can only talk about puppies and rainbows. As long as you are mild and matter of fact, I think you’re better off saying it is not a good environment.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          Yeah, I agree. If someone 8 months out of school came to me and said she was looking for more opportunities and growth potential, I’d think, “welp, if I hire her I’ll get another six months out of her before she starts looking for ANOTHER promotion.”

          Whereas an employee who matter-of-factly says to me, “I found out my boss group-texts negative comments about my colleagues to other colleagues, and that’s not the kind of environment I want to be in,” would get a horrified gasp and “no wonder you want out!” from me.

          1. AdAgencyChick*

            BTW, the reason this would feel different to me than “badmouthing” a former employer: if a candidate comes to me and says, “my boss really sucks!” I can’t tell whether her boss actually sucks or she’s an awful employee who hates her reasonable boss. But a single, well-placed fact that is outrageously bad would make me think that for sure it’s the boss who’s dysfunctional.

    5. o.b.*

      From personal experience: 8 months is fine; don’t mention it in the cover letter, which should be focused on why you want the new job and why you’d be great at it; if necessary, while keeping the focus on the new job, in the interview you may delicately allude to the fact that you are leaving because your current job is f****ing bonkers (for example, “looking for a more defined role with less emphasis on completing additional work from home,” “this is within the typical turnover rate in this position” (my replacement lasted two months, HAH!), “looking for a team-oriented work environment,” “not the right cultural fit but I have learned x and y, and think I would flourish at New Company because…”); and do make sure your next job is the right fit for a few years, but don’t stress too much over finding the perfect fit that 100% aligns with your “dream career”, because it’s just one step in a long journey and eventually “right fit” will come to mean “literally anything else and it must be right now”

  18. Rick The Dev*

    Just want to kvetch about a really annoyingly persistent recruiting firm.

    I’m in tech, so I hear from a lot of recruiters. 90% of the time a polite “thanks but I’m not looking” is received well. Like 9% the other person tries to argue that I should do the interview at least. And 1% they’re totally crazy.

    A year ago this recruiter emailed me about the blockchain startups he’s working with. I said I wasn’t looking or interested in any of that. 3 other guys from his firm emailed me back with a bunch of Silicon Valley utopian hype babble like “no offense but I don’t think you know what you’re talking about, blockchain is eating the world and you’re missing a chance to author the future.” I didn’t reply because they weren’t going to listen.

    For a couple of weeks the one dude has been emailing me again, and I haven’t been replying. The other day the guy called me at work. I said “I’m not interested” and hung up. Two minutes later I got a really dumb and coy email from him saying “Hey Rick, I think we just got cut off – please call me back ASAP! :)”

    I shot an email back saying “My phone is only on at work to respond to personal emergencies. Calling me at work means that my boss may think I am looking when I’m not, putting my current employment in danger. Kindly remove me from your contacts because I will not be working with you or your agency in the future.”

    Not sure if I was too mean or not, but honestly with the way some of the tech recruiting firms work I would be shocked if that came back to bite me later.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      He called you at work?

      You were much more polite than I would have wanted to be. Your email was fine!

      1. Rick The Dev*

        Whatever you would’ve said and what I *wanted* to say were probably the same thing. :)

        And FWIW it wasn’t at my work number, but on my personal cell. Sometimes they call my office phone though. It usually goes…

        “Hi, is this Rick Smith?”
        “Who’s calling?”
        “I need to talk to Rick Smith.”
        “This is an office number, who are you?”
        “Is. This. Rick. Smith?”
        “Goodbye. *click*”

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I do that on my personal phone too. If a caller won’t identify themselves (ouch I hate that; my kingdom for a gender-neutral singular pronoun), nine times out of ten it’s bullshit.

    2. blackcat*

      I’d block the numbers on your personal phone and set up filters on your email so that you don’t receive emails from the worst firms.

    3. Engineer Girl*

      Email him and tell him:
      “Hello Seamus, We have now had multiple conversations where I have repeatedly told you I am not interested in the job opportunities you’ve offered. I will say it one last time – I am NOT interested. Never ever contact me again.”

      Then block him.

      Someone this agressive won’t have access to the better opportunities anyway.

    4. Akcipitrokulo*

      If he does it agqin, email someone higher in company explaining why you will not deal with anyone from their agency and advising others to do the same.

      1. Rick The Dev*

        Ha – NYC and SF tech recruiting is its own weird little world. Anything short of camping out in front of a prospect’s house would be considered go getter spirit.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          And in California it could be stalking. California has stricter stalking laws after several celebrities were threatened and in at least one case killed.

    5. ArtK*

      Not people trying to recruit me, but overly aggressive salespeople trying to sell me contract programmers or similar services. We’re not hiring and I hate unsolicited sales approaches so I ignore them. Some of them will e-mail me directly and via LinkedIn and then finally call. I am *not* nice when they call. Something on the order of “If someone ignores you three times, you should assume that they aren’t interested. Thanks to your obnoxious persistence, I wouldn’t work with you even if I *did* need your services.” [/grumpy]

      TL;DR I think you were far nicer than you needed to be. These people need to back off and stop the used-car-sales approaches.

    6. SusanIvanova*

      My entire team got laid off. Recruiters started circling like sharks. I told one of them, from a company that’s prestigious but totally not my thing, that I was “currently pursuing other options”. Got back “I believe you meant to say “I’m _not_ currently pursing other options.””

      No. I meant what I said, and even if you’d been a possibility, contradicting me like that would take you down a notch.

      1. Rick the Dev*

        Have you ever looked at what tech recruiters post on LinkedIn? So much stuff about how not dropping everything to talk to a recruiter cold calling you, or not taking an interview with their client, even if you’re not interested, is A Terrible Idea and hurts recruiters.

        It’s a completely different mentality than the average employee who’s fairly satisfied with their job and trying to get through the day. I…don’t get it at all.

  19. Clara Who?*

    I have a (mostly) happy question. I’ve been promoted to my first (assistant) management position! There won’t be too much responsibility at first—we have a fabulous management team who are going to be training me in—but does anyone have any general advice for me (I’m pretty young…think early 20s). How to be confident in my authority, common mistakes young managers make, etc. Advice would be very appreciated!

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      This may come off as advice from a crotchety old woman (which I am… I’m turning 50 on Tuesday), but if you have a tendency to “upspeak,” try to break that habit. I don’t think it’s so much a “kids today” thing as it is something women tend to do when they don’t feel confident or when they don’t want to come across as being too “aggressive” or “pushy.” I catch myself doing it sometimes, especially if I’m trying to soften an unpleasant or difficult message.

    2. AMD*

      1) You can’t be friends with your direct reports. You can be friendly, but you can’t be friends, and you have to prioritize the business. (Don’t be a jerk, obviously! But at the end of the day, your obligation is more towards the business than the employees.)

      2) Watch what you say. Your statements, complaints, and speculations now have the weight of authority behind them, and you may find stuff you say being taken way too seriously and out of context behind your back.

      3) Criticize in private, praise in public. A quick, breezy, genuine “Hey, thanks for that!” consistently makes a world of difference.

      4) Share the “why” behind plans and decisions when you can.

      5) Avoid anything that could look like favoritism.

      1. Seal*

        This is a great list! I would especially be mindful of the first point: you can’t be friends with your direct reports. I made that mistake at my first job right out of college and it haunted me for years. Then, when I tried to do a midstream course correction, it backfired on me spectacularly. Since there were other young managers in adjoining departments who also made the mistake of being friends with their direct reports, I wound up being the bad guy for trying to enforce boundaries and expecting people to show up and work. Had I done that from the beginning things would have been much better for everyone, especially me.

    3. Weekday Warrior*

      Congratulations! If you aren’t already aware, The Management Centre has a lot of great Tools on pretty much every aspect of managing. Alison has been involved with them and co-wrote the very excellent Managing to Change the World featured on their site.

      I was a very seasoned manager when I discovered these and wish I’d seen them sooner!

      Particularly for younger managers, I liked “the girl’s guide to being a boss”. Despite the cutesy title (and worse subtitle!), it has a lot of solid advice for young new managers of any gender.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Speak as if everyone in the world is listening.
      This does not mean be paranoid. This just means think about what you are saying at each moment. If it was repeated to someone else are you embarrassed or are you able to logically explain what you meant?

      Giving yourself this boundary will also help you to come across as a thinking person.

    5. HannahS*

      Giving people your own age and older instructions is intimidating. I’ve never managed, but I’ve had situations where I had to tell people what to do, and when it wasn’t directed to children, it felt really uncomfortable and I didn’t feel right about it. I think a lot of young women, in particular, feel that way, so one thing I’d think about is how do I want to phrase instructions to strike the balance between telling people what to do and not being a jerk? It reminds me of the difference between teachers who felt they had to win over the class to persuade us to listen to them, and teachers who showed up with expectations that they expected us to meet. You don’t need your employees permission to expect things of them, so it’s important not the speak as if you do. I’m not sure that I’m making sense, but for me that manifests in speech as using friendly language, but not any minimizing or frivolous language. So not “Hi all, not to stress you out, just a friendly reminder, I really really need those reports by 5pm,” but “Hi all, please remember to send me the reports by 5pm. If you run into any problems, let me know right away and I’m happy to help.” Or whatever, you get the idea.

      1. Birch*

        Yes, this. It’s such a hard habit to break but is so important. Set boundaries for yourself and others and keep them. If you stretch out your neck for everyone, eventually someone is going to come along and take advantage of that. You can be flexible without taking on everyone else’s problems (learning this the hard way). And don’t over-explain things. (Think: “If you’re not too busy, could we have a meeting together on Tuesday between 11 and 12.30, or Wednesday anytime between 10 and 1pm if that works better for you?”–change this to “Let’s meet Tuesday at 11. Please let me know if that time doesn’t work for you, thanks!”) I admit to being the worst about this. But people don’t want to read and think about all that, they just want to be able to say yes or no.

    6. Akcipitrokulo*

      Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Just because you’re a manager doesn’t mean that your higher ups expect you to handle everything. Thy know it’s a new.position for you. They expect questions.

    7. TardyTardis*

      Don’t tell someone something to do, and then forget, and ask, ‘Why the heck did you do that?’ later on. I reported to a younger person (to be fair, older people do it too) who had a lot going on and it resulted in emails to confirm *everything* on my part. She was upwardly mobile, I was not, so everything was my fault.

  20. Jimbo*

    I sent a set of applications the last week and a half prior to Thanksgiving. Many of these positions were a good fit for my skills and experience and I crafted cover letters customized to adhere closely to the job description and their requirements.

    I am hoping that if things go right, post-Thanksgiving week will, hopefully, be busy with me responding to phone screens and scheduling interviews. It would be a great Christmas gift to land a good job prior to the holidays!

    I am approaching month #4 of job searching while unemployed and acutely feeling the strain.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      A lot of those people may be on vacation for Thanksgiving week. They won’t see your applications until they get back in the office.
      Don’t be surprised if you get a delayed response.

      1. Rainbow Hair Chick*

        Ill be honest with you… I was laid off in late October a few years ago. It is really tough to get hired this time of year as most companies are watching year end budgets etc. I did hear back from lots places in early January and was working by early February. Don’t give up hope! It will happen!

  21. Amber Rose*

    Am I off base here? Please help me with a reality check.

    I have a desk job in a manufacturing firm. The company is BUSY right now. It’s ridiculous. I, however, slow down at year end. So I’m mostly doing make-work tasks.

    The other day my supervisor snapped that it was frustrating, and if I have nothing to do, I should offer my help. Since I had and was turned down, I asked who I should help.

    She said production.

    My job is the phones and paperwork. I’ve been clear since day one that I have no skill or desire to make anything. Am I off base in thinking that it’s unreasonable to ask me to do work I’ve never wanted and specifically said I shouldn’t do? I’ve been here almost three years and I’ve never touched so much as a wrench because I know it would end badly.

    It’s not my fault my work level isn’t dependent on how many orders we get. In summer I’m swamped while they do cleaning and stuff.

    1. AshK434*

      No, I don’t think you’re off base. You offered to assist in areas you have experience in and were turned down. I would think it would be a safety issue to have you helping out production if you have no skills in that area.

    2. animaniactoo*

      “I’m not sure I’m clear on what you were suggesting. What kind of help do you think I can offer to production?”

      If she says “pick up a wrench and use it” you can answer back and say “I am not mechanically inclined and if I were to do what you’re suggesting I would create more work for production trying to fix whatever I’ve done than I would be of help to them. I prefer to be busy and I have no problems helping anyone out, but it has to be work that’s within my skillset or near enough to learn it quickly and not creating more issues for the people I’m trying to help.”

      But… it’s possible there’s other work that production needs help with that she was thinking of which you *could* usefully do? If so, it would be good to know that. I mean, the answer might be “help fetch materials so they can continue to focus on painting/whatever”.

      1. Amber Rose*

        She said we need more sub-assemblies. And while I understand they don’t take any particular education to put together, and that we are out of a lot of them, I’m also aware that my attempts at doing so in the past were… not great. I don’t really have a feel for that kind of thing, so when I’m told “don’t tighten the bolts too much” I don’t know what too much is.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          In this case, I would remind my boss that I had tried in the past and I really have no mechanical aptitude what so ever. If I could I would make some suggestions to her. If there was a lot of shipping to be done maybe I could assist the shipper, provided they don’t need King Kong/Abominable Snowman just to lift the boxes.
          Perhaps you could help with inventory type work if the items are keep in some type of order and it makes sense.
          I would look around for tasks that are repetitive and the repeat comes up quick, such as sorting a box in search of defective bolts. Once you have a sample of a good component, you can hold the others up next to it to check the others.
          Orrr- here’s a thought. Maybe you can help the production manager with the clerical side of the work.

          Definitely point out to her how your unfamiliarity could be a company liability. For example, you would not want to drive a car that was in part put together by an employee who did not know how much to tighten the bolts.

          1. Amber Rose*

            The shipper was one of the people I asked. But she doesn’t have anything right now. All the other stuff is done or needs to be done by an engineer. It’s just the assembly stuff that needs extra hands, because a dude just quit.

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              If your plant is unionized, this might even be against the company contract, because it is taking work away from somebody who might get overtime for it.

              Also, this is ridiculous. When your office is busy, do they make the people in production come in and do office work?

        2. animaniactoo*

          This is a place where I would go back and say “I get that you think this thing isn’t too hard, but I’ve tried it and it’s that hard *for me*. If you had hired me to do it, you’d also have fired me. I understand there’s a need for more of them, and so that’s where your focus is right now, but can we look to see what else I can do that would be helpful all around? Is there work that the sub-assembly people normally have to do that involves more paperwork or something that I could take off their hands to free up more time for them to do the sub-assemblies?”

        3. ArtK*

          Use your time to find an operations consultant who can come in and look at their processes and determine why they are short on sub-assemblies. Sounds like the processes or resources are not optimized.

          That was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but it really is what your company should do. They shouldn’t be trying to recruit front office people into the manufacturing side. Heaven forfend that your shop floor is unionized and you pick up a wrench.

          1. Observer*

            In this case, the union would be RIGHT. Asking someone who is totally clueless to do something is stupid and just going to make things worse for everyone.

    3. Observer*

      Unreasonable doesn’t even start. What you should point out is that you do not the have the required skills. Trying to “help” when you have no clue is likely to seriously tick off production.

  22. BittersweetCharity*

    Should I take the job?

    Last week, I learned that a second round of layoffs is coming at my current job. I’ve only been there since May and already seen a department phased out and six people’s positions greatly reduced or eliminated. A board member mentioned another “huge hole” in the budget during a meeting Monday about something else. He noted the board was hosting an emergency meeting the next day to address it.

    I directly asked my supervisor directly after the meeting how bad the current deficit is and how it will affect the department. She looked squarely at me and said “We will need to cut our part-time staff person and do more with less.” This has left me seeking an escape route.

    Just an hour after this conversation, I had a first round interview with a “community chest” organization. The chest has more than $10 million in assets and a strong community presence but its most recent 990 tax forms show it ran a $2.7 million deficit last year (mostly because of turnover in grant writing and development positions). I have reviewed the previous five years’ worth of 990s and found last year to be an anomaly with other years ending with a revenue increase of between $4.5 million to $12.2 million.

    The interviewer and I spoke at length for 90 minutes, and he made a contingent verbal offer at the end. It would be a much higher-level position and pay more than my current role. I would likely be responsible for most of the development and have a great deal of autonomy.

    Now, my question is should I accept the position with the community chest even though it had a bad year and is experiencing some staff turnover?

    1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

      I think so. You’ve done your due diligence: it seems like they generally manage their finances fine and there’s a reasonable explanation for last year’s figures.

      It’s also a promotion, raise, and boost to your career potential.

      …Why *wouldn’t* you?

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      Find out why the turnover is so high, what their goals are for the year in development, and what will happen to your position if you aren’t able to meet said goals for whatever reason before saying yes.

      1. BittersweetCharity*

        Fortitude Jones:

        Thanks for the suggestions. I have a second interview next week with the team and plan on asking those very questions.

        In particular, I want to know what the goals are for the remaining 6 months of this fiscal year. How many grants and fundraisers do they want to host? What are the chest’s areas of focus and how much collaboration will take place.

        Again, I appreciate your comment.

        1. neverjaunty*

          It’s great that you’re doing your due diligence and asking thoughtful questions! This will impress any decent employer.

          1. BittersweetCharity*


            Thanks for the kind words.

            I am looking to leave my current unstable position for something I can stay with for a couple of years. Also, I am seeking a stretch position that will challenge me to grow my writing and strategic skills. So many of my recent jobs have either been directly at or below my mid-career skill level.

            Still, I want to look closely before committing to taking on a role with the community chest.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, this.
        Find out what they anticipate for next year. How will they overcome this short fall?

        An over-simplified example: I think of my father with two 100 acre lots. You know the funny thing about owning property, it’s always worth more on paper. When you go to liquidate it, sometimes you get good money for and sometimes you don’t. My father had a retirement income, so he could not sustain these properties and had to let go of one. Key: He HAD to let go. Beggars can’t be Choosers. He got just over 10k for his share of the one lot.
        Clearly, just because someone has assets does not mean that they have money. They must have an annual income stream to support the assets. If they don’t have that stream of money coming in then they need a very strong plan to get that stream flowing again or they have to start ditching the assets.

        Now. One more wrinkle. Some of the most toxic places I have worked are places that are struggling to make ends meet. At best, the place can have a lot of angry/nervous people snipping at each other. Be absolutely sure you understand what your role is here, how you will be expected to pitch in for this crisis.

        1. BittersweetCharity*

          Not So NewReader:

          Thanks for this perspective. I can only glean so much from reviewing the 990 tax forms, so this is definitely something to keep in mind.

          What I am most concerned about is expectation of bringing in a specific amount of money within the next 6 months and what happens if that goal is not met? Also, who holds the institutional knowledge in the organization with so many new people joining?

          The old regime left around the same time the CEO resigned after 5 years and a progression of growth. He had come under fire for a comment about program support that angered some of the biggest donors in the community and announced his decision to leave a few months later. With him, the development director left for a role with a similar organization and many other people retired, moved out of state or out of country, and some started their own businesses. I know this through extensive LinkedIn and Facebook searches of staff for the past few years.

          Over the last 5 months or so, the organization has hired many experienced fundraisers tied to the community the chest serves. My would-be supervisor has nearly 15 years of experience, particularly in fundraising and program supports (the kind that got the previous CEO into trouble). I am both curious and cautious about meeting the team for the second interview and seeing how well we fit together.

          Any further advice or suggestions are appreciated. Thanks!

          1. Not So NewReader*

            You have this really well researched. If you are impressed or at least have some faith in the new people this might be okay.
            It seems that the biggest donors kept them in the black. I wonder what their chances are of getting these big donors back. I assume we are talking a handful of people with big donations, in order to replace them with regular people they would need to find hundreds of donors.
            Now you are going to be in charge of development. I guess my last thought would be as I sat there at the second interview do *I* think I can have some success with this job? Is the company working with me or are they throwing up constant hurdles that I can’t possibly jump?

          2. TardyTardis*

            If you don’t bring in the money, you’ll be gone. My brother-in-law found that out when he was hired to coordinate volunteers, and oh by the way, here’s your quota. After six months, he had lots of volunteers but didn’t meet the dollars, and he was let go. Your charity may be different, however.

  23. Orange Fizz*

    Does anyone have stories of name-related fiascos during interviewing/job searching/etc.? I (female) share a very uncommon first name with a male famous for his sexiness and a last name with a company that sells male underwear (among other things). So if you search my name, you get one picture of me and then about a dozen pages of suggestively-posed male underwear models. There’s nothing I can really do about it, and people don’t usually think twice about it once they meet me…but I’d be interested to hear what stories other people have.

    1. Anony McAnonface*

      My name gets a dominatrix who specializes in spanking so…That said, I have the John Smith of names and no one expects to be able to google me.

    2. Friday*

      There’s a triathlete with my name but sadly, nobody’s ever mixed us up. She has amazing race times too.

      1. Overeducated*

        Haha, I was having trouble trying to think of any possible combination *except* Idris Klein (my awareness of sexy celebrities and men’s underwear both being very limited).

      2. Orange Fizz*

        My name is not Idris Jockey, although the mental image I now have of walking up to an interviewer, shaking their hand, and saying, “Hi, I’m Idris Jockey, nice to meet you” is making me laugh.

    3. CAA*

      I have a unique first/last name combination. If you google my full name, you get my LinkedIn profile, my Facebook page, sites offering to do background searches for a fee, and hundreds of pages that mention a town in France (like the way Stratford-upon-Avon would come up for anyone named Stratford). As long as nobody in the little French town does anything too embarrassing, I’m o.k. with these results.

      1. Talvi*

        I’m in much the same boat – if you google my full name, you pull up 4 pages of google results, that are either 1) actually me (e.g. work-related blog posts, events I was on the committee for, etc.), 2) a friend’s history blog (from some photo credits), or 3) pages that happen to have both my first and last name on the page but not together (my given name is actually more commonly a surname).

        Which means that a) I have a great deal of control over what shows up for my name, and b) it’s pretty much all on me if anything horrible/embarrassing shows up for my name.

        1. Afiendishthingy*

          Same here, Talvi. Super uncommon first name, uncommon last name, so anything embarrassing or incriminating is actually me.

    4. blackcat*

      My professional online identity is First Middle Last and my personal online identity is just First Last.

      There are hundreds of First Lasts out there. You cannot find me by googling First Last unless you also add something else about me.

      Among the Firsts Lasts out there are….
      Several reporters (one of them is even First MiddleInitial Last)
      The president of a nudist group with a large internet presence
      Several models & actors
      A sex blogger

      The main plus of my approach is that if you google First Middle Last, you find me and a long dead relative by my same name. There has never been any confusion.

    5. KR*

      I do but its my own fault. I made a serious effort to clear up my Google results a few years ago so all the juvenile things I posted and accounts I made when I was a teen didn’t pop up. I cleared it for everything except obits, my LinkedIn, and school honor roles…. But also the police report from the time I got arrested for weed possession. My criminal record has no arrest listed on it, I pass background checks no problem, and I never actually was charged for anything but they can’t redact my name from the police report so it comes up on the first page since I don’t have any other results. Ooof.

    6. Overeducated*

      My best friend wanted to change her name when she got married. Upon Googling, she learned that there’s a porn actress who goes by that name, which worried her as she would soon be job searching. After some deliberation she changed her name anyway but always uses her middle initial.

    7. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I have an unusual name combination that apparently someone is using as an erotica writing name. Now if you search my name you get a bunch of BDSM type stories. Its great!

      But yeah, most people figure Im not the writer and can piece together who I am from the more”normal” stuff online under my name. But what can you do but laugh about it :)

      On the other hand my sister was deliberately named for a company my mom always liked the name of, in our hometown. Not many people know it, but this company makes feminine sanitary products,among other items. She has a great name, but folks find it amusing to find out she was named after two factories (the other makes church lighting)

    8. Turkletina*

      I have a uncommon first and last names, and I was on a television game show a few years ago. When you Google me, most of the results are pictures of me with the host of said game show. For some reason, I’m never prepared to answer questions about the game show experience when they come up in interviews.

    9. King Friday XIII*

      I used to share the same name as a recurring character in a soap opera-type show. All you’d get googling me was articles about the show, it was great.

    10. Close Bracket*

      There is a professor at my alma mater who shares a name with a porn star. If you search for her name, well, I think you can guess.

    11. Jemima Bond*

      I work for the government and as such would rather not have google lead people to actual me – I’m not on linked in either for the same reason. Therefore I am grateful to a small but rather classy and expensive business which is eponymous and takes up the first few pages of google by having the same name as me.

  24. B*

    I am here to vent a little. I have been a government contractor for 15 years in roughly the same position. They are converting my job to GS and the job announcement was for current government employees and veterans only. So I couldn’t even apply for the position I currently hold. I heard, unofficially, from one of the raters that none of the applicants is really qualified but the boss is going to take the best of the it rather then fight to have it reannounced and open to the public. I will have to train this person and it is depressing me already.

    1. Sue No-Name*

      Much sympathy! The current state of affairs with agency-specific hiring freezes in place but not codified anywhere public is super frustrating.

    1. Kj*

      One time, at my old job, as a team-building exercise, we had to go around and list our hobbies. One of my co-worker’s hobbies was “Waiting around to pick up my daughter from dance class.” Another’s was “watching Law and Order.” A third’s was “drinking” (yes, really- the kicker is he was a chemical dependency counselor!) Yeah. I was the odd one out with my hobbies of gaming and writing and running and making art. I did not belong on that team and they made sure I knew it. So glad I quit that place.

      1. Observer*

        This could actually have been people who were either trying to make a certain impression or who didn’t want to share what their real hobbies are. It’s the kind of thing that gets advised when people are trying to figure out how to get out of sharing personal information.

        1. Kj*

          Trust me, that was not it. These are the same co-workers who would talk in detail about their spouses/marriage/pregnancy/sex livess. They just lacked hobbies.

  25. Fortitude Jones*

    I need advice from other proposal managers. I’ll be starting a proposal management position the first week of December, but have no experience writing to RFPs. How do you determine what’s important to put in the table of compliance? How do you manage your time and deadlines along with others within your organization? How do you motivate or incentivize others to meet deadlines when you don’t have hiring and firing authority? What other information do you think someone new to this role should know?

    1. Ella Fitz*

      Your company should have standards in terms of minimum compliance, that wouldn’t worry me.

      Send out twice as many RFPs as you think you need. I routinely get back 3/10 and ridiculous stuff like that.

      Just be really on top of people about deadlines (give adequate warning, please!) but see above you need to send out way more than you think you need.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        As to your second point, I believe they said we send out around 150 RFPs a year (I’m on a team of 8), so we should be good. As to the first, they mentioned compliance in the interviews, but didn’t really go too deeply into specifics about what all that entailed (or maybe I’m forgetting because it was weeks ago). Thanks for the advice!

    2. Artemesia*

      You get ahold of the last 5 RFPs that the company did and look at them and view them as a structure to build your work on. There is no doubt a lot of company boilerplate you can lift directly or adapt. Most RFPs have a lot of stuff about capacity that can be re-used or adapted easily with only the very specific details of the project unique.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        That’s a good idea – they do use boilerplate language, though my team handles renewal business and more customized proposals, but reading the last RFPs that were accepted could give me an idea about the style and tone clients respond to. Thanks!

    3. Brontosaurus*

      Wait so you will be in charge of writing RFPs to send out or lead the responses to RFPs for your company? It seems a little odd to me if you’ve never responded to an RFP but are going to be a proposal manager. In that case, you have a lot to learn based on the questions you ask (compliance is critical, and if you don’t know how to make a compliance matrix, you need to understand that ASAP.) I wish I had advice on what resources are out there but everything I have is internal to my company. I learned by doing-have probably led a half dozen responses in the past few years and worked on dozens of proposal teams. And I’m still learning!

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Wait so you will be in charge of writing RFPs to send out or lead the responses to RFPs for your company?

        It’s both. They figure that since I’m a writer and have done various other types of technical and business writing they can train me on how to respond to RFPs and lead projects, especially since I’m one of eight proposal managers. One of the hiring managers started out at this company in my position (no prior experience), and he didn’t even have a writing background – he’s been with the company for 16 years. So they’re confident I can pick it up after starting me off with some smaller proposals and regular training sessions with upper management.

        1. Artemesia*

          My daughter went from 0 to 80 MPH on writing RFPs and within the first year had a very high rate of success. It isn’t rocket science and as a good writer you can do it; there are issues in every field but that is why you look at successful previous work and you really really pay attention to the requirements in the RFP in your first try.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Thanks – I figured as much, I’m just dealing with new job jitters. I want to be overprepared so I’m not underprepared, if that makes any sense. The fact that I have very little room for mistakes in my current role (claims adjusters have to be detail-oriented, especially in my particular niche that deals with banks) makes me think I can definitely get that part of the job down. Plus, I manage people now (third party vendors like engineers and field adjusters), but I at least have hire/fire authority in my current job – and I fire people regularly for failing to meet the very tight deadlines my division has. It’ll be interesting for me to learn how to manage people without having that ability, but keeping within those same time constraints in this new job.

  26. Ella Fitz*

    What’s your advice for a coworker that doesn’t show up for meetings? I’m in a completely remote environment (my whole team is) and my closest peer frequently doesn’t come to our scheduled Skype sessions, for reasons like she has to go to the gym (to be fair, since we are remote we typically meet outside of her 9-5).

    It doesn’t really bother me since I’m on top of my work, but her region theoretically suffers for it (I’ve been around longer – six months more and I’m better trained). I told my boss because she asked why we weren’t working more closely together. I’ve since started reporting on the meetings she misses to my boss at her request, but my boss gets weirdly defensive of my coworker to me. I don’t feel like I should have to manage when my colleague shows up for meetings, but I do want to be promoted soon and I don’t feel like this reflects well on me.

    Any ideas?

    1. animaniactoo*

      How often are the scheduled Skype sessions, how many people are attending, and what would it take for some of those sessions to be within (or closer to) her 9-5 hours?

      1. Ella Fitz*

        Once a week, just the two of us. In the last 3 months, she’s missed 50%+ of them. We’re 13 hours apart so there’s not really a good time.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I don’t quite get the part about meeting outside her work hours – are you in different time zones? Have you tried asking her what times would work?

      1. Ella Fitz*

        Yep, we’re 13 hours apart. This is her preferred time, but if I leave it up to her to schedule the meetings, they don’t ever happen.

          1. Ella Fitz*

            They’re weekly – every Wednesday or whatever. So yes, she knows they’re happening. I’ve even tried scheduling them right before our department-wide weekly meeting and that hasn’t helped. It wouldn’t bother me (she’s free to manage her own time) except my boss is on MY case about why we aren’t collaborating as much as we could/should.

          2. Ella Fitz*

            Yep, they’re weekly at the same time 8:00 Wednesday’s or whatever. I’ve even tried scheduling them before our department-wide weekly meetings and that hasn’t helped. I don’t mind (she can manage her own time) except my boss is on MY case about why we aren’t collaborating as much as we could/should.

            (Also sorry if this posts twice, wonky internet).

            1. Not So NewReader*

              You guys are 13 hours offset from each other? yikes. I think this is a bad pairing, you guys should each be paired up with someone who is closer to your respective time zones.

              As far as your boss, I would try to remain with a flat/matter of fact
              tone of voice. “I emailed her and she agreed to x time to meet. I was online ready to go, I waited 45 minutes she did not come online to meet with me. How would you like me to proceed when this happens?”
              If you think it’s appropriate invite the boss to join the two of you so the boss can see first hand what is going on. We cannot make other people do anything.

              Running at the same time you could email her and say, “The boss is asking me why we don’t collaborate more, what do you want me to say?”
              I am wondering if the boss is hounding you because she does not answer the boss either.

            2. animaniactoo*

              Some variations on things to try:

              1) Take a step back from the idea of “Skype Meeting” as the primary method of collaboration. Toss the ball over to her court: “Boss has been pretty clear to me that she’d like us to be working more closely together. It looks like the weekly Skype Meetings aren’t really working for you. Is there an alternative you’d like to suggest?”

              Listen with an open mind and see if what she suggest (if she comes up with something) is something you can work with. At least be willing to try even if you’re pretty sure it’s going to be a monumental failure.

              2) Discuss the purpose of the meetings with her more closely, the need for immediate brainstorming, reminding, etc. Touchbase, check-ins, updates that give more info to work with, etc. Ahead of the next meeting, send an e-mail with a suggested agenda for the meeting “Blah Region Numbers, Ideas for New Outreach,”, etc. Ask if there’s anything she’d like to cover? It may be that she’s skipping a lot of these meetings because she doesn’t see a need for them or have any idea what would be discussed.

              3) Don’t assume that just because she knows when the meeting is scheduled, that she’s prioritizing it and setting time aside for it. Send her an e-mail a day or so before “Just confirming that you’ll be available for our Weds meeting. If not please let me know if Thurs at 4 pm your time would work for you”. Right now if she missed the meeting, there are literally zero issues for her. If she has to rejuggle her schedule to fit in the missed meeting somewhere else either the other place might work better for her or she might be more committed to showing up for the usual time in order not to disrupt the rest of her schedule.

              If none of that works, you can push back on your boss and say “Listen, I don’t know what the rest of her schedule is, but there are limits to how much I can try to accommodate her without seriously disrupting myself. I understand you’d like me to work more closely with her and I’m open to doing that. Here’s what I’ve tried. What else would you suggest that I can do?”

              1. Ella Fitz*

                Thanks guys these suggestions are super helpful! I think we could definitely be more creative about how we’re working it.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Ok, I’m confused that your boss both expects you to manage your co-worker showing up and is “weirdly defensive” when you explain what’s going on. Can you ask your boss what the issue is? “Boss, I feel a little stuck here because you’re unhappy that Gymnillicent and I aren’t collaborating more, but when I’ve explained why I haven’t been able to touch base with her you’ve reacted negatively. What would you like me to do differently?” (Said in a curious and interested tone, of course)

      I bet Boss knows your co-worker is blowing off meetings and is blaming you because it’s easier than managing her.

  27. Foreign Octopus*

    I actually got to put AAM into practice this week, and I was thrilled!

    My friend has been having an issue with a company that she works for as a llama instructor (she’s on a contract and has to pay her taxes and social security etc herself so all she gets from them is just her paycheck, nothing else). They were demanding more and more of her time for things such as mandatory monthly lunches to exchange llama instructing techniques. They wanted a picture of her, and a profile of her on their website. All of this was demanded more than asked and she didn’t want to do it for a number of reasons but one of them being it would really mess up her tax status to be treated like an employee in this manner (we’re in Europe).

    She was complaining to me about it, saying how this guy just wasn’t getting the message and, knowing what I do from AAM, the first thing I asked her was whether she had actually told this person no. She showed me the messages and she had never said no outright. She said she wasn’t available, then she was busy, and then again that she just couldn’t find the time etc. I suggested that she write back a clear no and lo and behold! Problem solved.

    Thanks again, AAM.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Alison, don’t tease us! You have an update for the Percival of Percivals?

        Were we extra good this year?

        I’m so happy!

        1. Rainbow Hair Chick*

          Thank you so much Alison! I just wanted to make sure I hadn’t missed. This was such an impossible situation for the OP. I’m hoping for a happy update on this one.

  28. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    Ugghh. I was hoping today would be a slow day at work with the holiday and people out shopping, but we’ve been in queue solidly since about 9:30. It’s not awful but definitely not what I was hoping for :(

  29. Anon for This*

    Hey, all. I’m dealing with a particular person who we’ll call Elhokar. Elhokar is not exactly my subordinate but I do have some authority and work closely with this direct manager. Discipline matters with him would likely involve me and the direct manager.

    We have a recurring issue with Elhokar. He becomes convinced that others are wronging him (e.g. taking leads away from him, deliberately ignoring his calls), even when we can show proof that those things aren’t happening. He then becomes resentful and passive aggressive. He’s recently sent a rude passive-aggressive message to my direct subordinate, Shallan.

    This is now a discipline problem, but I’m not sure how to address it, exactly. Just focusing on the specific issue of the message misses the larger picture of the way that his resentment hurts morale. But since he feels that he’s being wronged and we’re ignoring it, it’s also difficult to have a bigger conversation without running up against the things he thinks are going on.

    1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

      Frame it in terms of his actual behaviours to other people?

      He’ll reply with all his grievances, but that will allow you to make it clear that if he feels aggrieved there are procedures in place to bring them to management attention: none of that is an excuse for treating colleagues the way he’s treating them.

      1. Anon for This*

        I like this, in terms of pointing out that we’ve discussed how he can bring problems to his attention.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Honestly, it sounds like you’re reaching a point with him where you’re going to have to acknowledge to yourself that any conversation you have with him will be viewed through a lens of paranoia, and let the consequences for that fall as they may. Normally, I’m a solid advocate of the rule that communication isn’t effective unless you take the listener’s mindset into account, but that only goes so far, and with someone who is committed to misinterpreting everything around him, there’s only so far you can bend your message.

      1. Anon for This*

        You’re probably right. I think part of my frustration is that it’s difficult to deal with someone who seems so determined to view the world through this lens, and I feel like there should be a way to convince him to stop it.

          1. Anon for This*

            I think you’re right. We’ve had a conversation before, but not in terms of “This must stop or you won’t be working here” so that should be the next step.

          1. Anon for This*

            Thanks. My sister’s been pestering me to finish my re-listen of Words of Radiance so I can read Oathbringer, so it’s top of mind right now.

            1. copy run start*

              I have no advice, but came here for the Stormlight Archive reference too! I am rereading in eager anticipation of Oathbringer… though at the rate I’m going Oathbringer will have collected dust for a while before I get to it…

        1. neverjaunty*

          Ther should be, but there isn’t. Blaming everyone else means he never has to blame himself, and justifies his acting out rather than behaving appropriately. That’s an emotional need you can’t logic him out of. (And that’s why he gets snotty when you present him of proof that he’s wrong; it’s not about objective reality.)

          Honestly, this is not someone you can fix, and this attitude is toxic in any workplace.

    3. fposte*

      “We’ve shown you proof that those things aren’t true, Elkohar, and you’re being treated fairly and in a way that you’re going to continue to be treated in future. I understand that that may not have helped your frustration, and if you can identify a problem that hasn’t been discussed, we’re open to hearing it. No matter what, though, we expect you to treat your colleagues civilly and professionally in conversation and in emails, and you’ve been having problems with that. Can you commit to improvement in that area?”

      1. Anon for This*

        Thanks, I like this script a lot. I’ve been struggling to figure out how we can basically say, “Enough is enough” in the larger picture.

    4. Kj*

      Do you have an EAP? If so, I’d suggest to him that he use it to figure out why he thinks everyone is out to get him. I would say that he is really making it hard for you to manage him and that you would like him to figure out what is going on and fix it, but that if this continues, you will have to institute disciple. Don’t force him to use the EAP, but strongly suggest it could help.

    5. Artemesia*

      Since this is a pattern this is a matter for progressive discipline. His manager should sit down and discuss this as a pattern that is unacceptable in the workplace. It isn’t about the latest incident, it is the pattern. He should get clear feedback that this is not consistent with being an employee here. The next time it occurs he should be put on a pip or fired depending on where you are and how serious it is. And security should be made aware of him. People who are ‘wronged’ and resentful are the ones who come back with a gun.

  30. Soon To Be Grad*

    I have a question and anyone can answer, I’m just looking for advice from people with more experience than me! I graduate this spring and it’s terrifying largely because if I don’t get a job immediately after graduation I’ll be thrust back into an abusive home environment that’s really dangerous to me. My goal is to get a job and move to a new city as soon as possible (the day of/after graduation preferred) and I know in order to do this I need to plan. My question is when is too early to start job hunting? Is January too early? March too late? I’m at a disadvantage from my peers because I don’t know what field I want to work in and I’m being told by everyone that my degree is largely useless (English literature) and while I disagree and see the value not everybody does. I’d really love to hear anyone’s feedback on when the right time is to start job searching, because I’m desperate.

    1. Ella Fitz*

      Now is a good time to start searching. Fields like consulting have already finished recruiting, but with English you should be fine. If you’re not sure what you want to do, have you thought about Teach for America or AmeriCorps? If you get into those you’re pretty much guaranteed a placement.

      I might also recommend looking into TEFL programs or working holiday visas (assuming you’re American, check out Ireland and Australia; France and Spain both have national teaching programs for English teachers as well).

      If the goal is to just get out the door into a job, a working with a placement program might be the way to go!

    2. Dr Wizard, PhD*

      I have a degree in English lit. Start in January. Pick cities you have contacts in and pursue aggressively. Don’t limit yourself purely to research/writing roles; your clear priority is to establish yourself in a place, you can refine your career later.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      First of all, don’t panic.

      (Easier said than done, I know.)

      I think the thing that you should do is spend a good month (December) having a look at the types of jobs that interest you. English Literature is a great degree. It’s analytical, thoughtful, and produces good graduates because you know how to write and research.

      The link above contains some ideas of possible career paths. They are UK based but they’re just to start your imagination.

      Once you’ve narrowed your choices down, reach out to people. Ask them for informational interviews, pick their brains about their jobs to see if you’ll enjoy them (and don’t forget to send thank you notes afterwards).

      Once you’ve done that, start researching companies in your target city that does the type of work you’re interested in. Then start applying. The application process always takes longer than people think it will and as long as you’re clear that you are a graduate, there’ll be no surprises about your start date if you’re fortunate enough to get a job as soon as you hope.

      In the meantime, if you haven’t already, get a part-time job. I know you’re studying at the moment and that’s important but given what you wrote about your home environment, it’ll be worth having a job so that when you do graduate, you can increase your hours. I worked at McDonald’s during university and I was able to go from Bristol – Southampton – Bordeaux (France) – Bristol because they allow for the transfer of employees as long as there is an open position at the desired store. This might be useful for you because you could transfer to your target city and get away from your home environment.

      Please try not to panic. I understand how terrifying this is. I remember what it was like when I graduated and I had a nice home environment.

      Check out Alison’s book, take a few deep breaths, and hit 2018 with your best self and I know that you’ll do great.

      Good luck and let us know how it goes.

      1. KR*

        I second getting a part time job now if you don’t already have one. If you’re US based at least, most apartments want to see a sizeable security deposit and the first couple of months rent. If you don’t have a job already they want to see you have savings and you’re not stupid with your money. They also want to see that you have credit most likely. You’ll also need cash for the moving out basics (mattress/blanket, work clothes, kitchen utensils/pots and pans, food/toiletries to survive, cleaning stuff, ect). If you’ve already got this stuff squared away – good job! If not, you still have time. The goal is to save up the security deposit (hardest part really) so you can GTFO of the abusive situation first and worry about the other stuff later. Good luck.

        1. Anna Held*

          This is a great point! Make sure you have a credit card for your credit score.

          My reply is below, out of sequence — comment queues, how do they work? :)

        2. Elizabeth H.*

          If you have to up and move to a new city, you can avoid a ton of those costs by looking just for a sublet (with roommates) for the first few months you’re there. The subtlet will be furnished and equipped, cheaper than anything else you could find short notice (no deposit!) and you’ll have several months to save up for a security deposit and get to know the city and be better equipped to find a GOOD place to live.

    4. Fortitude Jones*

      I’d start looking now to be honest since job searches can take longer than we think – I’ve been looking since January off and on, but didn’t get an offer until the first full week of November (!), and that’s with me already having a job. I’d also look into applying for training programs in fields like finance and insurance. They don’t sound glamorous, but they usually pay well, and some of them will even house you while you work for them (my soon-to-be former company does this for out of state trainees and they put them up in super swanky downtown apartments).

    5. Artemesia*

      Many big companies do their recruiting for the year for new grads in the fall of the senior year; this certainly includes consulting companies, but can also include large corporations. I would be talking with your career office about time frames for companies that might hire in your field. You need a strategy for possible employers and while college career offices often are very weak on resume advice etc they also set up interviews and can give advice about who is interviewing.

      It sounds like moving to another state would make a lot of sense so I would be asking about entry level work in cities far from where you are.

    6. Brontosaurus*

      You are already a bit behind-I already hired all our 2018 grads to start next summer, and already hired all our interns for next summer. You need to get moving ASAP. Now there are plenty of companies who recruit in spring too but it’s really important that you aren’t actively looking now and engaging with your career center for guidance.

      1. Elizabeth H.*

        Eh, I’ve never worked in a field where people get “recruited” like that at specific times of year. Lots of industries don’t work that way.

    7. Emac*

      You could also think about temp agencies, especially if you have any office experience/skills. It might also give you the chance to check out a few different industries in your chosen city and help you network.

    8. Pearly Girl*

      I had a thought, take it with a grain of salt.

      What if you explored being a live-in nanny/manny, for a family in your general geo area (close enough for interviews) but an hour or so away (to escape notice by family)? I admit I know little about how nanny agencies work, but I would think that a certain kind of family would want someone educated, well-read and able to encourage their children to learn.

      Plus, you’d have your living situation sorted/paid for, and you could spend time determining where you see yourself in future.

      I wish you best of luck!

    9. Charlotte Collins*

      Fellow English Lit graduate here. Start job hunting right away, but if you’re just trying to land on your feet, keep your options open. I worked in retail the year between finishing undergrad and going to grad school. When I left academia, my degree wasn’t in high demand, but a year at a call center led to better things in the company (and some great stories!).

      Now that companies are realizing how much their voice needs to be consistent and that writing/editing/proofreading are learned skills and not just something anyone can do, you might find more options than you would have in the past. But I think an English degree is a really good foundation for a lot of careers. Because we learned so much about analysis and critical thinking. :)

  31. anon for this*

    I have an interview this Monday! I’m just curious to hear how much time everyone spends preparing for an interview, on average? I tend to somewhat obsessively prepare for it whenever I have a spare moment, which sometimes adds up to a lot of time–probably excessive, but it makes me less nervous. I also like to find out as much as I can about the location and the people I’m likely to meet.

    1. DC*

      I do this too! It makes me go on feeling more confident and helps me assert myself more. For the last one, I think I spent at least am hour and change a day before hand.

    2. Second Lunch*

      I’m also obsessive, probably to a fault. I get bad interview jitters, so I like to be as prepared as possible, which means writing down a list of potential interview questions and scenarios, the taking roughly 8 hours (over two evenings) to memorize answers.

      1. Anna Held*

        If it calms you down and makes you feel prepared, it’s not excessive! You just need a bit more time than others might. Better too much than too little. As Louis Pasteur said, chance favors the prepared mind.

    3. KR*

      I’ve found that a lot of the time I don’t have a lot of time to prepare for interviews or I didn’t know enough about what to expect to prepare adequately – but these are typically low level positions as I’m early in my work career. When I do have a chance to prepare I have luck taking the day before to research the company and similar roles in other companies, industry news that may affect my role, and spending some time laying my outfit out and putting it on to make sure I’ll be comfortable in it. I also like taking some time to groom myself and tidy up my car/bag/ect so I feel ready the day of and more calm and put together. Mostly, I just try to take it easy the day of and read a lot about what I’m applying for, review my resume and work experience so it’s fresh in my mind, and put myself at ease and try to calm myself down so I’m at my best the day of.

    4. Jimbo*

      I spend quite a bit of time preparing since my field is online communications. To give you an idea here is my usual checklist of what I consider doing my due diligence in preparing for an interview.

      The Org
      – read their website, especially their About Us page and their Mission/Vision statement
      – read their Annual report, particularly the Financial section to get an idea of the financial health of the organization
      – Check them out in Charity Navigator and their Form 990 to get further insight into their financial health (this si for nonprofits)
      – Check out a few of their recent press releases and policy statements to get an idea of their stances on political or adovcacy related topics. Make sure there aren’t any red flags that indicate a fundamental disagreement with your own values
      – If the name of the hiring manager and other direct supervisor is known, check them out in LInkedIn and get familiar with their job history and role in the org
      – Check out the org’s profile in Glassdoor and see if there are any consistent patterns of negative reviews

      The Job
      – Check out their website and do a click through of the first two levels of their navigation, Get a feel for how they structured their website, the content, and what tyeps of content are static and which are dynamic
      – Check out their social media accounts and see what tactics and content they highlight. See what level of engagement they get from users, and what level of engagement they do in interacting with users, retweeting, likes, etc.
      – Re-read the job description to mak esure I understand the job and its parameters fully

      I would say at least two hours or more of prep time is normal for me for each interview

    5. Close Bracket*

      I don’t really prep that much specifically for the interview. I stare at my resume pretty much every day, so I just do a quick perusal and keep a copy on hand in case of under-pressure brain farts (the first interview is always a phone interview). I read through the company webpages before applying and again if I am contacted for an interview, and again, I keep those open for quick refreshers. So basically, since I have done the homework, and it’s an open book test, I only need a quick review.

  32. Maya Elena*

    Wanted to know opinions on this.
    Recently, a coworker got “doxxed”: copies of some extensive Reddit posts (under a user name not associated with their real name or employer) got sent to his boss and teammates (I got this email too). The posts contained oblique details that did match him in a general way (a landmark in our city, an issue particular to his industry, etc.) but no obvious identifying statements (nothing like “I work for Teapots Inc. And the suck”).

    The posts were “men’s-rights” type on one of “those” types of forums; mostly he was giving advice based on his own functional marriage and career to other guys, although in mildly non-PC terms. (References to “crazy”women, references to evolutionary psychology, etc.).

    I don’t know the details of his discussion with HR, but he promptly left his job. I guess he was fired or encouraged to resign immediately. The guy was competent, quiet, reliable, and prompt, didn’t socialize much at work, helped newer people (men and women), including me.

    This dismissal really shook me up. I don’t think the guy deserved to be fired; he didn’t even say anything that bad (most of the objectionable stuff was in the comments) – nothing violent, abusive, or demeaning of women as a class. It wasn’t even political. I think whoever dug up his real identity did a gross and underhanded thing.

    What do you all think? Where does the line get drawn around fireable social media activity?

    1. fposte*

      From the way you’ve framed it, I’d agree, and I’m kind of surprised he was let go or at least pushed to the edge based on this report.

    2. blackcat*

      Maybe there was more? I can see someone going onto Reddit and finding the *other* stuff he posted after getting that email.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Yeah, I think that’s likely what happened – that particular post probably didn’t do it, but whatever else he was posting probably did.

        1. Observer*

          I HOPE that’s what happened, because what Maya Elena described simply doesn’t add up. But even so, I’m pretty much in agreement that the doxxing was still not a good thing.

      2. Maya Elena*

        I don’t know that anyone had time to dig – this happened in the space of a couple of days.
        But it would still be pretty underhanded to go reading someone’s entire Reddit history just to find something objectionable.

    3. neverjaunty*

      “Mostly”? I’d guess that an occasional reference to a jerk ex wasn’t what got him fired.

      I agree it’s kind of a shitty thing to send posts to an employer in this manner.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I would assume something was said in a private meeting that tipped the scales. Think of it this way, people do not go digging for dirt on someone if nothing is going on. So yes, on the surface this sucks but there may be more to the story and the thing the company is doing correctly is NOT telling anyone what else is going on.

      If this does not ease your concern, and I don’t blame you if it doesn’t, then just silently keep watch. See if other people get fired or reprimanded for situations that seem unfair. My wise friend was fond of looking for patterns. You see the same thing three times then that means you have a pattern. When you have a pattern you start building an action plan for yourself. If you see two more cohorts unfairly reprimanded/fired then do what you have to do to protect your income. This could mean chatting with your boss about your own job security or it could mean you decide to job hunt or take a part time job somewhere.

    5. Mazzy*

      I’ve seen those type of posts since I read things on all sides of the “political” spectrum and I’ve never really seen one that was objectionable, and I see many getting blown out of proportion or attributing a few negative comments on the comment sections to ideas that are not actually in the articles, so I think firing someone for this is a huge no-no. I also don’t get why someone would “dox” someone for this. I remember looking up “Men’s Rights” things because I remember thinking “what do they discuss?” and it was pretty middle-of-the-road type stuff – suicide, veteran’s rights.

      1. Ange*

        There is some really nasty stuff that gets posted under the heading of “men’s rights” – you obviously found some of the less extreme stuff, but it’s possible this person posted towards the other end of the spectrum. There’s a nasty area where MRA/PUA and incel communities overlap and that’s the sort of thing that could easily get people fired.

      2. Maya Elena*

        That might be what happened. I once read a critique of a blog post based on a quote the author cited and was arguing against….

    6. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Something I think you might want to focus on is this statement — “I don’t know the details of his discussion with HR.” It’s entirely possible that your company overreacted to stuff that was, as you’ve described, really pretty minor in the long run, but it’s equally possible that there’s a major piece of context that you’re not privy to, and my general feeling is that this is not something you want to spend a lot of time and energy on, because if those extra details do exist, you’re most likely never going to encounter them.

    7. Umvue*

      Is it possible that HR knew stuff about this guy that you don’t, in terms of how he’s interacted with women at work?

      I’m not a huge fan of doxing in general, and I agree with fposte that firing on this basis alone is a bit surprising — which is why I wonder if there’s more to the story.

    8. Ann O.*

      Unfortunately, right now the line is at the discretion of the individual employee. This is a double-edged sword that has cut both ways in practice, and I think as a society we’re just plugging our ears and closing our eyes rather than dealing with creating coherent, humane policies about what type of off-line behavior should affect the workplace environment.

      But I agree with others that you don’t have all the information and the firing may relate to a broader context or other activities/comments that you don’t know about. Or it may not. There doesn’t seem like a great way for you to know.

    9. Close Bracket*

      It sounds to me as though there must have been more going on, and the outed posts were just the final straw.

    10. Maya Elena*

      Thanks for the responses.
      Nothing new to report, but wanted to respond as well.

      You are probably right that our collectivr jobs aren’t in jeopardy.

      I doubt anyone did any extensive digging or unearthed a substantial sordid history for the guy, because the whole incident unfolded over a couple of days. (This occurred a little over a week ago, but I missed Friday thread then.)

      Whatever issues the guy had, he appeared a stand-up guy who hadn’t manifested problems with women in the workplace, managers or teammates, me included.

      I assumed he was fired because the boss called him into his office and I saw an HR person hanging out the office waiting for them, and next day he was gone. For all I know though, maybe they laid into him and he just quit or in anger.

      I don’t think I’ll ever learn the full details (unless the doxee posts it online :p), but I will keep an eye out in case the “doxxer” came from the ranks of my coworkers peeking over people’s shoulders, or in case management discovers my controversial AAM posts.

      1. neverjaunty*

        “Appeared” being the issue.

        Maybe he was, indeed, walked out the door for no good reason. Maybe, though, his professional demeanor at work didn’t match his other behavior.

  33. NewBoss5000*

    Does anyone have suggestions for how to deal with a very sensitive, insecure employee? This employee, “Sally,” has worked for this organization for about 15 years, and does her assigned work very well. But until I began managing her in January, Sally worked closely with (and for a short time was supervised by) “Lucy,” a woman in our department who was (to say the least) difficult to work with and has since retired. Lucy would get angry and upset if she was criticized at all, and would also be angry/upset if any decision was made without her input (including decisions made by our boss, who is really bad at confrontation). I think working with Lucy for so long made Sally afraid to take on anything new and to make any decisions without confirming them with her boss. I’m trying to coach her to be more independent, and to not be afraid to try new things.

    I’ve asked Sally and a coworker to help me with a project, and on Tuesday I met with them for two hours for a workshop about the project. This is a bit of a stretch for her, but related to another of her responsibilities. Every time I paused to see if they had any questions, Sally expressed her worry that she wouldn’t be able to do this, that she didn’t know enough about the project to contribute, and that she was afraid that she wouldn’t do it right. Keep in mind this was the introduction to the project–I was just going over the basics, and I told them as we started that we would be taking this slowly. I said that this was a sort of “pilot project,” and that if it didn’t work out, we would just do something else. But she still seemed very uncomfortable, to the point that the other person in the meeting commented on it later.

    I have tried my best over the past several months to make sure everyone understands that I’m not going to get mad at them for making an honest mistake. But I think Sally is so used to Lucy’s micromanagement and bad temper that she’s afraid. This came up earlier during our midpoint review meeting (my organization is establishing a new appraisal system that requires multiple meetings per year). Sally felt that my written appraisal of her was very negative and she was afraid that it would endanger her job. I showed the appraisal to my boss and to HR to make sure I hadn’t inadvertently written it to be negative (because that wasn’t my intention) and they agreed with me that it wasn’t negative at all. In the appraisal I thanked her for her hard work and professionalism, and praised her willingness to take on new tasks since Sally is no longer here. My constructive criticism was that I wanted her to work on being more confident in her own good judgment, and that I would help her with that.

    I myself am a sensitive person sometimes, and can get upset about criticism although I am better at managing my feelings than I used to be. But I have no idea how to deal with Sally. I suspect that this is Lucy’s influence at work. Lucy would get very upset at any sort of criticism, although she reacted by lashing out at whomever she blamed. If I sent a staff-wide email about an issue, which I try to do only if I have no idea which individual to address, Lucy would immediately react as though she assumed I was talking about her (even if I wasn’t) and rush to defend herself, loudly and vehemently. Sally, fortunately, does not do that. What she does, instead, is repeatedly apologize, try to explain herself, interrupt me when I’m telling her “It’s okay. It’s fine,” etc. I end up spending 5-10 minutes trying to ease her mind over something that should have taken 30 seconds to discuss.

    This is exhausting. I used to think she was one of my strongest employees, but now I see this issue. How do I try to coach her toward progress when she can’t take any criticism whatsoever without overreacting?

    1. fposte*

      Gather up Alison’s posts about feedback, giving it, and getting it, and address the specific behaviors. I get that if you like her and like her work you want to focus on making her no longer feel the emotional need to do this (and I think you may be processing some of your own feelings about Lucy in here too), but I think you’ll get a lot farther if you kindly point out what it is you want her to stop doing. On the second question-that-was-a-request-for-reassurance, you can say “Sally, really, as I said, you’ll be fine. Let’s meet later to talk about your concerns; please keep the group time here for process questions only.” In one on ones, “Sally, I need to make better use of our time; last time we derailed into reassuring you rather than getting the work done. I’d like to see you work on two things: limiting apologies to two per meeting at most, and not interrupting me. Can you do that?” And if she does interrupt you, don’t go with her–say “Stop!” flatly and loudly while she’s talking, and if she can’t stop herself end the meeting.

      The thing is, reassurance-seeking isn’t something that usually gets solved by reassuring people enough; in fact, it’s usually the reverse, so I’d keep the reassurance to whatever level you’d offer any employee but I wouldn’t just hand it over whenever Lucy wanted it. And it may not have been Lucy who sent Sally down this road, but even if it was your job here isn’t to fix Lucy’s damage; it’s to manage the Sally you’ve got.

        1. fposte*

          I think it’s fine to point her to an EAP if one is there or even to suggest talking to a doctor over the high level of distress, but I don’t think her boss should suggest specific modalities; it’s too likely to sound prescriptive.

      1. CAA*

        Yes, fposte’s ideas are great. If you have a supportive and helpful HR person, I’d also loop them in, partly to see if they have other suggestions for handling it, and partly so they’re not blindsided if Sally goes to them later.

        It can definitely be exhausting to manage someone with this kind of drama. I wish you the best.

      2. NewBoss5000*

        Thank you for those suggestions for phrasing; I’ve been trying to find a way to say these things without exacerbating the situation.

      3. Elizabeth H.*

        Yes! Your last paragraph is so true. I’m dating someone who has some major anxiety issues and I do this to him, if he gets into a spiral about whatever instead of reassuring him something will be ok I try to show him or get him to come to the conclusion that it actually doesn’t matter in the big (or small or medium usually!) scheme of things. He says this is way better than previous attempts from people he’s close to to just reassure/try to calm him down. It works especially well to do the thinking through the worst case scenario situation especially when it gets silly/absurd and then it’s funny which is relaxing. Not that you can mirror that exactly in the workplace, but focusing on the big picture overall and keeping things in perspective may apply.

    2. neverjaunty*

      Bring the problem out in the open. “I understand that Lucy was at times pretty critical and supervised your work a lot more aggressively than I do, and it’s going to take you some time to adjust. However, I’d like you to work on…” (checking in less, refraining from making self-deprecating comments, etc)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I agree. Sally is a wounded employee and really only time is going to ease that.

        I took over a group of people who had been treated unfairly. It took about a year for them to exhale. Even then you could still see the worry once in a while.

        You can say things like “I know you used to have to do x or put up with y, that is over. It’s not coming back.”

        She dumps a box of paper clips on the floor. Bend down and help her pick them up and tell a story about how you dumped a box of rubber bands last week. (This will probably blow her mind, but pretend not to notice.)
        Chat once in a while, give her glimpses in to your personality and your way of thinking. Never underestimate the power of a seemingly benign story. I’d tell stories of Silly Thing my dog did and land on, “I couldn’t get mad at him, he was just too cute in all this.” It’s a benign story but it’s telling the employee something about you and about how you handle things. The more insight people have to a new boss the more apt they are to relax somewhat.

        1. Kathenus*

          Second this. I also took over two work teams that had been with a very domineering and at times cruel manager who had been there for decades. When I was hired, PTSD was used routinely to refer to the state some of them were in. It took a good 1-1 1/2 years for them to really settle in and begin to trust that things were different. So agree to be proactive in trying to address specific behaviors for improvement, but really echo Not So NewReader’s comment that time will be needed.

        2. NewBoss5000*

          That’s a good idea! And since I am in fact a terrible klutz sometimes I won’t even have to make anything up. :)

      2. NewBoss5000*

        Thanks! I tried to do that during her appraisal, but I sometimes think she has a sort of “Stockholm Syndrome” thing going on about Lucy, because they worked together so long. She didn’t seem to feel Lucy was that critical of her. But I’d observed their interactions for nearly 7 years and had discussed it with my boss and with our HR rep, and they all saw the dynamic as well. I’m going to keep trying, though!

    3. Artemesia*

      I would treat it as a behavior and bad habit that needs to stop now. One careful explanation that you understand her past micromanaging boss led to some bad habits, that constantly demanding reassurance rather than getting the job done is not acceptable, that you will give her feedback when she needs to modify her work but that you will not hold her hand and spend valuable productive time providing tea and sympathy should be enough. then insist that time not be spent this way. treat it as a habit she needs to change not a sign that she is a poor baby boo who has to be coddled because she is broken. I’ll bet if you are consistent, she will get past this.

  34. Courtney*

    Question for those in education – bonus points if you teach high school! I just received my student teaching placement, which I’m so excited about! But I’m curious – what would you say is the difference between just an okay/good student teacher and a great one? I think I’m off to a good start since the interview went really well and I was prompt in sending a thank you email, but obviously that part of pretty simple as opposed to the actual teaching/lesson planning/grading/classroom management and all that. Book recommendations would be good too! Trying to soak in a ton of advice to do the best I possibly can. I’ll be teaching 12th grade British lit and 9th grade ELA.

    1. HannahS*

      Ooh, ok, well I’m not a high school teacher, but I was once a high school student with strong opinions on student teachers and I’ve recently worked with kids that age. Of the student teachers I remember, the only thing I can remember that left me distinctly unimpressed was over-enthusiasm. It was a fairly common pitfall. There was a lot of “OK GUYS!! We’re going to talk about TOMMY DOUGLAS today! He was REAL HERO in Canadian history!! He’s SUCH a role mode and overcame REAL CHALLENGES to become the GREAT MAN that we’re going to LEARN about TODAY!!” Aggressive perkiness just doesn’t work with teenagers; high school students are old enough to want to be spoken to like small adults. Other than that, I think the distinction between a great student teacher and an average one is just the quality of the teaching and classroom management; not much different from a regular teacher!

      1. Courtney*

        A big part of the reason I want to work with teens is because the way you talk to and interact with them is more similar to adults – the little kid teacher voice is definitely not my thing, so I don’t anticipate that being an issue, haha! But yeah, good to note.

    2. blackcat*

      Listen to the more experienced teachers A LOT and use any prep periods to go observe a range of teachers. It was a lot of work, but during my student teaching I sat in on classes with probably 15 different teachers. Some in my subject area, some not. It was HUGELY helpful–I learned all sorts of tricks that I wouldn’t have picked up from my mentor teacher (he was great, but a 40 year old former football playing man. I was a 21 year old petite woman. We needed different classroom management techniques).

      I basically soaked up all of the advice I could, took tons of notes, and accepted I was going to botch teaching some. That’s part of the deal.

      Also, sometimes kids throw you under the bus to their parents. There were a few complaints that kids were getting bad grades because “the student teacher doesn’t know how to teach.” My cooperating teacher shot that down–the kids who had bad grades had earned them, and he made it clear to the parents. Accept that this isn’t personal, it’s teens being teens.

    3. Jax*

      Elementary school band teacher here. Take initiative! Ask for things you can do to help. Don’t wait to be told what to do – pretty soon you will be in a classroom of your own with your own students and no one will be there to tell you how to run things. Take cues from your cooperating teacher – meaning, don’t undermine them, and follow their classroom management routine. I make my student interns observe for a week before I let them jump in, or I give them very specific things to do: “Can you watch so and so and make sure they are doing XYZ?” Be organized – write lesson plans for everything you are going to teach in the beginning. Eventually you won’t need to, but it’s important to be able to think through your lessons in advance, see where the pitfalls are, and make sure you are accomplishing your stated goals. Plus, when you get your first job and get observed, you need to know how to put together a coherent lesson and lesson plan. Always overplan – make sure you have more than you think you need to fill a class period – and have a back up plan, especially if your lessons use technology. Be professional, especially since you are (presumably) only a few years older than the students you will be teaching. This means to dress nicer than usual, always make sure you are on your best behavior with your language and formality with the students. Ask questions. Be open to feedback and criticism – probably the most important thing. Teaching is such a great profession even though it is incredibly challenging sometimes. Best of luck to you!

    4. CA Teacher*

      Congratulations! I teach 9th and 10th grade but have taught 12th too. I have a few pieces of advice for you: 1) if you’re still relatively young, understand that the students are going to try to push you. Don’t be a dictator but stand your ground if it is warranted. If it is not warranted, be reasonable, it will make the students respect you more. My classroom management teacher had 2 rules: Be consistent, and don’t let anyone back you into a corner. When I was in my early 20s with a class full of 18 year olds, it was incredibly important to choose your battles, or else you would lose the kids. 2) Allow yourself to have a personality. Students these days want to get to know you. If you are too uptight and professional, they aren’t going to feel the connection with you and won’t want to learn from you. You can’t always get them to buy into the course, but if you can get them to buy into you, you may be able to make headway. 3) If you have any say in the curriculum, try to ensure that they literature they read is not all by white men. The students react positively to culturally responsive teaching. 4) Grade promptly, if possible (she says with 3 week old essays to grade). They appreciate quick feedback/ it gives them less room to complain if their grade isn’t what they think it should be.

      Feel free to ask any follow up questions, I love this sort of thing! I’m excited for you :)

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Re: #2 – yes, yes, yes!! The teachers I learned the most from, and whom I remember most fondly, were the ones who were, to be blunt, weirder than a summer day is long. The English teacher who proudly wore a scarlet A pinned to her dress while we were reading The Scarlet Letter, because her husband is a pastor and she loved joking about leading him into temptation. The US History teacher who taught us about the Revivalism in the early 1800s by holding a He-man action figure and bellowing the entirety of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” at us. (Okay, maybe he’s not a good one to emulate, he also humped a map of Canada and demonstrated “Cuba drawn into the bosom of communism” by smashing a kid’s face against his sweaty chest. He was extra special. Point is I remember this all 15 years later!!)

    5. New Bee*

      Former 9-12th teacher here, currently a VP/instructional coach:
      -Avoid power struggles. Kids will push your boundaries a lot, especially before you build your reputation, and you should stand firm without trying to win–in many cases a firm but private correction will be more effective than a public callout.
      -Write your management moves into your lesson plans, e.g., the directions you’ll give, behaviors you’ll narrate, when you’ll need an attention-getter. Novice teachers overestimate the clarity/frequency of directions, which leads to punishing kids for “not following directions” that were never given.
      -Learn about the demographics of the school, student body, and neighborhood. This is one of my biggest hiring look-fors–I can teach content, but lack of cultural competence is a dealbreaker. I’ve always worked in urban, Title 1 schools, but it’s just as important to understand in middle- and upper-class schools.
      -When things go wrong, focus on what is in your control to improve. It’s easy to blame the students/district/system, but you have the most control over the quality of your teaching, and being able to receive and act on feedback is a critical teacher skill.

      Book recs: lots of people swear by Doug Lemov for management, and the work of Gloria Ladson-Billings, Beverly Tatum, and Zaretta Hammond are great resources for building cultural competence.

    6. Middle School Teacher*

      I have two student teachers right now, so I can contribute something. I don’t know how placements are done where you are, but ours here do a short placement for 5 weeks, and then a long one for 9 weeks. I usually take the shorter-term student teachers, for a few reasons. But this is what I like to see:

      – observant. You don’t necessarily have to do everything I do, but I do expect you to maintain my routines. (I use a recipe card box and index cards to track kids with no homework; one ST I had came to school the next day with her own box and cards.)

      – shows initiative, but to a point. You’re a professional and I expect you to use professional judgement, but I need to be looped in. (One ST emailed a parent, on the advice of another teacher, regarding missing work. This was ok on its own, but she didn’t tell me, so I was blindsided by that parent a few days later when she caught me in the hall. That was awful.)

      – school culture: you supervise in the hall, you’re willing to do things like go on field trips, help referee. You chat with other teachers, you stay professional in speech and actions.

      – with-it-ness. I guess the best way I can define this is, you pay attention, you solve problems, and you ask what to do if you really don’t know. You follow up with absent students, you help them solve problems (one of mine ian doing a group project. There was an issue with two groups. She listened to them, made some suggestions, and when the kids weren’t receptive, she told them they had until Monday to resolve the problem, or she would, and they might not like her solution.) I heard it was dealt with this afternoon, by the kids.

      – it sounds silly, but please be prepared. New teachers often get stuck with the terrible schedule with stuff like health and extra gym and the classes no one else has room for in their own schedules. It might not be your specialty, but you still have to do a good job. (I’ve seen too many “this isn’t my real class” teachers who kind of phone it in. That’s terrible for everyone.)

      – look professional. I know student teachers are generally broke but you need to look like a teacher, especially if you’re doing high school. I’m guessing you’re still fairly young (I looked like a high school student until I was 25. And I’m really short.) You really don’t want to look like your students’ peer, or they will treat you like one.

      – go above and beyond in planning. I always ask mine to plan one of my ELA units (it’s the one I hate teaching the most) and my ST from last year designed an amazing unit. He did so well in his five weeks with me that we brought him own as a sub when he graduated, then we hired him on.

      My goal in the short term placement is to get through all the little cultural school things that no university teaches but that every teacher pretty much knows. I always tell my STs that it’s like driving a car: think of all the things you do automatically now, that you really had to focus on when you first started driving. Eventually you’ll just do them. If I can get you developing those habits in your short-term placement, you can spend the long-term focusing on your unit planning and teaching.

      Otherwise, I agree with other commenters. Don’t be over-enthusiastic, be genuine (but set boundaries — in HS you’ll be really close in age to your students, and some kids see it as a challenge. One of the grade 11 boys in my student teaching time wrote me poetry — he didn’t need think 17 and 22 was that big an age gap. It was weird and gross and I felt icky). Get your marking done efficiently (in ELA, a week turnaround is usually reasonable). Show you want to be there. Kids and staff can tell when you don’t.

      Good luck!!!

      1. Junior Dev*

        Can you take an online course? It could be on something relevant to your job or on something you find personally interesting. Check out Udemy, Kahn Academy, MIT Open Courseware.

    7. Maya Elena*

      My mom was raving about a student teacher in her school who went aboce and beyond. In particular, this girl learned a new software being rolled out in their department and taught it to everyone.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        Last year mine did a presentation to the WHOLE STAFF about an initiative for us to put in place to celebrate aboriginal cultures. He had been there for about three days at that point. I was so proud of him! (And that’s yet another reason why we hired him.)

  35. Intel Analyst Shell*

    Short rant that gets me nagged if I say it out loud to anyone I know — I’m 3 weeks into my 12 week maternity leave and I have nothing to do… except for keep a newborn alive but that doesn’t count. Baby sleeps for 3 hours, is awake for 1-2 hours, repeat; I’m out of things to clean and organize. My job is in the law enforcement field so I can’t do anything from home due to the strict security protocols (and FMLA rules but I love my job so that wouldn’t stop me from sneaking in some work if I could). I can only practice ‘finding’ Facebook strangers so many times.

    1. Cristina in England*

      I remember those days well. Podcasts were my best friend. Do you like social interaction or find it draining? If you like it you could look for local baby groups. They exist so parents can get drink and a snack and talk to other parents. If the thought of that itself is exhausting, then podcasts. Or take your baby for a walk with you every day, or a drive?

    2. Durham Rose*

      Try out a dog borrowing service if there is one in your town, take a doggie for a walk! Or take the kiddo our for a walk, it’s great for both of you! I think it saved my sanity when I was home with the little one. I second podcasts as well. Baby will be awake for longer soon enough, and you’ll miss these quiet days!

    3. Junior Dev*

      Can you take an online course? It could be on something relevant to your job or on something you find personally interesting. Check out Udemy, Kahn Academy, MIT Open Courseware, Coursera.

    4. Clever Name*

      I found a meetup group for local moms and went on play dates. If you’re breastfeeding, going to la leche league meeting provides baby-friendly social interaction. I also was pretty bored while my son was an infant, so you’re certainly not alone.

  36. AdeTree*

    I am looking for success stories on getting coworkers to stop commenting on eating habits. My situation: I do not eat much for breakfast, although I do drink lots of coffee in the morning. I have several coworkers who are obsessed with how bad this is and talk about it all the time. They even told my intern about it and tried to get her to convince me to change. I am extoled about the merits of breakfast (yes, I am aware that it is the most important meal of the day) and evils of caffeine constantly. Also, if I do choose eat something in the morning, I get responses like, “Whoa, so we’re eating breakfast today, huh!” I’m not that sensitive about food/diet talk, and it’s super common in our culture, but what I really hate is feeling monitored. First, I tried ignoring or deflecting. Now I am directly asking people to stop, but it’s like it’s beyond their control. I told one woman, “Please do not comment on what I eat.” She laughed it off, even when I followed up by saying I was being serious (more laughter), and the next day, she made another comment about a sandwich I was eating. AAM community, any tried and true strategies on getting this to STOP?

    1. Cristina in England*

      Ugh, sympathies. I usually turn into an asshole at that point, especially to the dieting food voyeurs. I guess you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice your deadpan delivery of “please don’t comment on what I eat”

    2. Intel Analyst Shell*

      I had a wonderfully snarky co-worker who dealt with this problem. She fixed it by commenting on the rough calorie content of what Jane was eating. “Oh, a chicken biscuit for breakfast, that’s like 450 calories right?”, and then she’d giggle like they had just shared a really good joke. This probably wouldn’t work in every office though. ;)

      1. Queen of Cans & Jars*

        I just recently had a conversation with someone whose mother-in-law has turned into the food police. I suggested that she do some research into the “evils” of whatever her food of choice is (because unless you eat strictly fruits and vegetables, there’s something bad to be said about WHATEVER food you choose to put in your body), and then offer those bits of knowledge in the same “concerned” tone the MIL was offering her suggestions in.

        1. Queen of Cans & Jars*

          (because unless you eat strictly fruits and vegetables, there’s something bad to be said about WHATEVER food you choose to put in your body)

          Ha, OK, scratch that, because it just occurred to me that vegans get the “OMG, WHAT ABOUT THE PROTEIN!!!” lecture.

      2. Emma*

        Respond in kind by being creepily invasive about their own habits! I used to work with an ex-nurse, and one day she pointed to a client who’d been in the building all morning and said “That lady’s been to the toilet three times in the last two hours. I was a nurse, you learn to notice these things.”

        I never felt entirely comfortable going to the bathroom while I was on shift with that coworker again, which would be great revenge against the Breakfast Police.

    3. Colette*

      Have you tried ignoring it? I.e. complete silence, no visible reaction, just continuing on as if they weren’t there/didn’t say anything

      1. Friday*

        Or stare them down with a raised eyebrow and let the silence (hopefully) make them feel awkward. Then if you’re feeling charitable, pointedly change the subject.

    4. neverjaunty*

      The broken record method. “Please do not comment on what I eat.” Every time, no matter what they say.

      If you’re comfortable escalating, you can push back on them a little. “Septicemia, I’ve told you I’m not interested in comments on my eating habits. Why are you having trouble resisting the urge to keep talking about it?” In a very concerned tone, like you’re worried something is wrong with her.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreeing with neverjaunty. Turn the tables. “Coworker, I am getting concerned about your obsession with my diet. Every day you comment and I have asked you several times to stop. Yet the problem still occurs. Why are you unable to stop with the comments?”

        The next day, “There you go again with more comments. Why are you not able to stop?”

        The next day, “Hmm. More diet comments. We discussed this, remember? I am growing more and more concerned about your unusual fascination here. Have you thought about why it is that you cannot stop when asked to stop?”

        1. WellRed*

          This. Along with a helping of, “if I dont eat, you comment. If I do eat, you comment? I am very confused.”

      2. The New Wanderer*

        Since you’ve already gone with “Please stop” to no avail, I’d also go with a heavy sigh after every food comment. After all, it’s boring to hear the same topic over and over again, so why not show that.

        FWIW, I don’t eat breakfast either but do eat lunch earlier than most people. My sleep/wake cycle may have adjusted to earlier mornings but my metabolism is still stuck in night-owl mode, and I will go into excruciating details about circadian rhythms etc if anyone has an unnecessary comment about my food habits. Fortunately people have long since stopped bugging me about it.

    5. Lissa*

      I feel your pain as another non-breakfast eater. If I had a dollar for every smarmy “breakfast is the most important meal of the daaaay”, well. I started telling people that was just a slogan made up to sell cereal.

      1. Artemesia*

        Why do they know what you have for breakfast? In 45 years in the workforce no one ever had any idea whether I had bacon and eggs or a smoothie or nothing at all. What has triggered all this interest?

    6. food*

      Sometimes asking back “why do you ask?” is helpful. Presumably they’ll say something like “we’re concerned for your health” and you can say something like “my health is fine, thank you for your concern”. But this turning the question back on them also puts the awkwardness back where it belongs and hopefully this will encourage them to stop asking.

    7. Temperance*

      I love coffee, and when people say I drink too much, I drink even more. I don’t see why anyone gets to comment on what adults do with their bodies.

    8. Ange*

      No strategies, sadly, but I work with people like this too. Constant comments on me drinking Dr Pepper, but other people’s 8 cups of tea are unremarked upon. And I’m constantly being told that I should eat differently – but I feel my diet is ok. Sandwiches are not inherently unhealthy just because you prefer salad!

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

      “Caffeine is evil, you say?”


      “Just like me.”

      *stares at them over rim of coffee mug*

    10. Big City Woman*

      Can’t you just say you ate your breakfast at home, before work? Why do they assume that you can only eat while there? Surely, not everyone who works there eats their breakfasts only at work.

      1. Enya*

        That’s a good idea, to tell them you ate at home. You shouldn’t have to, but if it gets them off your back…. We have a woman at work who doesn’t eat breakfast or lunch, and drinks about 10 cups of coffee a day. I think each of us expressed surprise once (I realize now it was none of our business and we shouldn’t have said anything), but that’s it. It would never occur to any of us to harass her about it. Why are some people such jerks?

      2. NorCalPM*

        That was my thought, too. I always eat breakfast at home before leaving for work. Even if I didn’t, I’d tell the person that. Yeah, I’d lie, and I’d be fine with it. It shuts down the nonsense, and it doesn’t hurt anyone. I’m a great believer in social lying for that reason when the topic is really nobody’s business and I don’t want to engage in a prolonged debate with a person who’s clearly irrational on a particular topic.

  37. Anna Held*

    Put a line in your cover letter, e.g. “I am available in May 2018, pending graduation from USC with a degree in X.” (I added the degree bit because I assume it’s relevant to your job search; adapt as needed.) It’s a natural end date people will understand, and work with — they want you to have graduated. Be sure to make it clear on your resume when you graduate, too. If they know, they can work with it.

    It is a bit early for a basic desk job, though as Ella pointed out, it really depends on what you’re doing — some jobs need that application time. And you absolutely should be working on your resume, research your field, practice interviews, and whatever else now! It can take months to find something, so the sooner you start, the better. Just don’t worry about “stretch” jobs that say “hiring immediately”. Apply judiciously now; ramp up in January; kick it up again end of March, if you haven’t already found something. Hiring can take a long time at some places, so more time is better than less.

    Good luck! And congratulations on graduation, and congratulations on getting out of a terrible environment! Those are both major achievements, and you’ve managed them. You’re also starting your job search right — early, and reading AAM — which puts you ahead of your peers. That will help a lot! This is a great resource. Come back and ask field- or location-specific questions and we’ll be happy to help.

  38. Junior Dev*

    I had a fourth interview on Monday. It was very intense, it took from noon to 6 pm (there was a sample work component) I won’t find out until next week at the soonest if I have the job…I know it’s kind of a ridiculous interview process but I think this company would be great for me.

    1. Afiendishthingy*

      Phew! Thinking good thoughts for you! I’ve also been involved in an extensive interview process for a role I really want— 30-40 minutes phone interview with owner, then 2 lengthy phone/Skype interviews with others currently in the role I’m applying for — that was all within a few days of them receiving my application materials. Then three weeks of radio silence and me trying my very best to follow AAM advice and move on. Then email from owner with “sorry, I was out of town for two weeks, can you come in to meet us [sometime in next 72 hours]?” Then three hours at their office interviewing, observing, meeting people, giving on-the-spot mini-presentations. Then submitted written work samples and references and that was a couple weeks ago. Sounds like probably a couple more weeks minimum before they’re ready to decide/make offers.

      I freaking hate waiting.

        1. Junior Dev*

          Yeah, that’s pretty intense and probably not a skill they need to actually be testing you on.

          All the interviews I’ve had for this position have made sense in that they’ve involved the company learning something useful about me, but IMO they’ve required too much unpaid labor on my part.

          1. Afiendishthingy*

            It’s a trainer position (actually doing train-the-trainer). So it did make sense. But definitely a little intimidating!

  39. Former lurker*

    I’ve got an interview on Thursday for a senior management position in the dept I’ve worked my way up through over the past 12 years. (I’m currently lower management level.) The Department Head is on the panel, and I’ve heard on the grapevine she really liked candidates to ask a good question at the end of the interview. I’ve worked here so long, and regularly worked directly with people at that level, that I genuinely can’t think of a decent question to ask that doesn’t sound like I’ve not been paying attention the past few years! How do internal applicants deal with this??!

    1. Becky*

      Ask her what her views on the company culture are, and if there’s anything she’d like to see changed.

      1. Mazzy*

        This is a good one, the probing questions are going to have to be about understanding THEM and their priorities and attitudes and not the company or work.

      2. Former lurker*

        Thank you, she regularly tells us all about her views on culture and the direction of travel, but your saying this has reminded me I need to reference this is my interview answers too, haha. x

    2. Jerry Vandesic*

      Ask questions about how you will succeed in this role. Even though you know about this role, you need to understand how your work in this role will be judged.

      What does the hiring manager think accomplishments in the first year should look like in order to get a good review?

      Where will someone in this role be in five years?

      How does the hiring manager see this role growing over the next few years?

    3. Product person*

      Something in the lines of “what results would you expect to see from the person you hire for this position over the next 90 days and after a year on the job?” would be appropriate. Even though you’ve been working there for years, it doesn’t mean you know how your boss defines success for the role moving forward.

  40. Annie Mouse*

    I’m absolutely over the moon, passed my theory paper for this year, and all of my mock exams. Got the comment ‘faultless’ for one of them which made my day!! Just need to repeat it next week :)

  41. Baffled*

    This past week when HR phone screened an applicant for an associate level position, he stated that his salary expectation was “2.5 times what the secretary makes.” Has anyone ever encountered that kind of response or way of thinking about salaries?

    Some context for the applicant: graduated from college in the late 80s, grew up in Eastern Europe, has worked in the US west coast and both Eastern and Western Europe.

    Some cultural context for the company: We are in a major city on the US west coast. Nobody at the company has the title of Secretary. The position does delegate some work to employees at the Coordinator level, but does not have a dedicated assistant.

    1. CAA*

      Nope, that’s definitely an unusual way of thinking about it, especially in a world where Secretary is a no longer a common title. My Mom was a secretary and had an Executive Secretary title by the end of her career, but she retired around 2000, and the work she did is commonly done by an Executive Assistant today.

      I guess if he expected that this role came with a private secretary and it doesn’t, it’s better that you know that now than waste any more time on him.

    2. Afiendishthingy*

      Never heard anyone frame salary this way but it is a definite deal breaker. This is someone who thinks he is superior to admins by 250%. He would be an INSUFFERABLE coworker, possibly to the point of being a liability.

    3. Someone else*

      This person sounds like a delusional jerk. Their worth is dependent on their role and what they bring to it, not relative to any other non-existent position.

    4. Observer*

      I think that would not be a deal breaker for me, but it would be a BIG RED FLAG and I would be looking at this guy with a magnifying glass.

  42. Nervous Accountant*

    Can I just rant about a “you must be a special kind of stupid” email that I received? Why would you email me 4x even after receiving my out of office message that I’m out? And then say “I know ur away but I need this right now”. And then refuse to contact my team members who’s contact info is RIGHT.BLEEPING.THERE. SMDH

    And not to mention someone in my company had the nerve to say that we sit around and do nothing.

    Btw I’m on vacation. Day 1 I was wishing I was back at work but I realized I miss the ppl & socialization…not the actual work. Smh

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Oh my gosh. Do they think your out of office reply is something you yourself are manually sending?!

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        If I wasn’t scared of getting fired or I was more charming & charismatic I’d call them when I returned and say exactly that.

    2. Buu*

      Urch does it have read receipts because if you’re opening your mail and they see this…they’ll know you’re reading it and can be bothered.

    1. fposte*

      Heh. I thought “I wonder if Alison would want to answer this–it’s pretty column-worthy.” I’ll copy and save my answer in case it seems apt for a repost.

  43. Candi*

    Our family had Thanksgiving dinner at Black Angus because (looong story.)

    Three things:

    The stations when the servers tap in orders and run cards had a “Keep up the good job!” message. Not as good as a raise, but rather nice.

    The other two… my stepMum had a long career as a registered nurse, and spent a lot of time in public health, oworking for the state. She shared two interview stories where the applicant was less than stellar.

    First applicant, outfit disaster: BRIGHT green leggings/tights with a diamond pattern. Orange plaid skirt. Hot pink top. Yes, the office was low-end business casual*, but as previously discussed on this site, “casual” has limits -especially for an interview!

    * To me, high-end BC is a couple steps below a suit.

    The other one, a few years later and a few hundred miles thataway, Mum was working as a public health nurse for an agency that taught abusive parents healthier patterns and behaviors where their kids were concerned. (I should’ve asked if court orders were sometimes involved.)

    So applicants are supposed to have a cursory prescreen to pick up on anything that might disqualify them. Well…

    This applicant comes in. Mum and her supervisor are interviewing her. “Why do you want this (specific) job” comes up.

    Well, applicant starts in about how she admires the work and is passionate about helping abusive parents learn better behavior and how she wants to be a public health nurse because they were so helpful when she was an abusive parent-

    You read that right.

    The people working in this agency were. not. allowed. to have records of any kind of abuse. Stating it like that in front of the two interviewers put in on the record as far as the agency’s rules were concerned.

    Turned out the person doing screening had phoned a few checks in, especially for people who “looked okay”. (Whatever that meant.) All Mum would say about the woman’s record itself is it was very easy to find on an actual check, and she didn’t say anything about the woman’s credentials or how she may have obtained them.

    I was thinking this woman really needed someone to teach her to do more than basic research about various workplaces if she’s going to work in the health field -patient-facing is likely right out. And I really hope she never fell back into old harmful patterns -for everyone’s sake.

  44. Rainbow Hair Chick*

    How do I get out my company holiday pot luck? I have a giant list of food allergies that are quite complex. I’m new to the company so this is my first Holiday season with them and I don’t want to seem like I’m being a Grinch. Help with any scripts would be appreciated. I will definitely contribute to the pot luck but don’t want to eat anything for fear of a trip to the ER… Please help!

    1. fposte*

      Contribute and eat with your colleagues only from the dish you brought. Depending on how bad your allergies are you may find you can grab one more item (cheese? soda from the bottle?), but in general people don’t spend a lot of time scrutinizing the individual plates of pot-luckers.

    2. animaniactoo*

      Also if anybody does say anything, just self-commiserate in a fairly matter of fact way “Oh, it all looks so good. I would really love to try more but unfortunately I have so many food allergies it’s hard for me to be sure what’s safe unless I’ve made it myself. I wouldn’t want to freak anyone out by needing an ER trip!” and be sort of upbeat and cheerful about it after an initial grimace so that it’s clear that this is an over and dusted thing for you. Regretful but not a big deal and moving back on.

    3. Anna Held*

      Why not just tell them? Despite the plentiful stories of food weirdness on here, most people understand. Or won’t even notice. Grab some of your own food and some chips.

      1. Rainbow Hair Chick*

        Thanks all!! I feel better now! I love the line ” I wouldn’t want to freak anyone out by needing an ER trip” Ill use that one for sure.

  45. fposte*

    The hell? She’s upset that somebody is using the toilet for its intended purpose, and instead of doing her job she’s hanging out by the bathroom trying to catch people at–using the bathroom?

    I don’t know what kind of work atmosphere you’re in, but I’d strongly consider raising this with a boss. “Lucinda seems focused on this in a way that’s becoming really intrusive; I don’t think it’s good for office morale for people to be scrutinized on what they’re doing in the bathroom.” If you had a few more miles on you, I’d recommend telling Lucinda that it’s a toilet, you shit in it all the time and so do other people in the office, and that you lied to her before “for shits and giggles.”

    If there’s another layer to this beyond basic bodily functions stuff–if you’re having to take a long time in the bathroom that raises questions about doing something not bathroom-related in there, say–it’s worth considering looping your boss in on that so it’s clear that you have a medical condition and sometimes you need a little more time. But it just sounds like you have a colleague who apparently is alarmed by defecation, and I doubt there are many people on her side in trying to ban it.

  46. Not Today Satan*

    It seems to be the norm for employers to start employees at relatively meager PTO that increases throughout their tenure. But, this doesn’t really make sense with the new professional norms—it being very common for people to switch jobs at mature points in their career. I know that negotiating for PTO is always an option, but does anyone think this general policy might eventually change? I don’t want to be 45 and having to beg and negotiate for 3 weeks of vacation…..

    1. fposte*

      Unfortunately, unless it starts making companies non-competitive in attracting candidates, I don’t think it’s likely to change. I think a lot of it is about rewarding company tenure, so unless an applicant has enough clout to negotiate for more when you’re coming in as a senior they don’t have any particular reason to give it to them.

    2. Old Jules*

      That is my pet peeve. Do make sure to mention it to people you interview with so they can channel your feedback to the appropriate people who makes the policy.

    3. Fact & Fiction*

      Unfortunately, this 41-year-old recently tried and failed to negotiate having awesome New Job match the third week of vacation I just earned from Old Job. They declined to match but are granting no me one week for the last term months of this year.

      It’s the second time I’ve lost my third week of vacay – I was 1 year from earning my fourth week the first time. I honestly feel extremely frustrated that companies are so unwilling to match vacation time for employees who are at this level of their career. We SHOULD not have to go back to entry-level amounts of vacations when we have so much to offer our new companies.

      I decided it was worth it the me to lose it again this time, but it really makes me frustrated considering we American workers get so little vacation time and companies often make it impossible to stay in the same place for a lifetime (by not paying internal applicants the same increases they would external, etc.). I definitely recommend trying to negotiate like I did but also being prepared to have it often declined.

  47. Anon-a-cross*

    So my wonderful job is coming to a close mid next year, looks like my bosses role is being removed and as such not much need for me. This is fine (lots of notice, Boss really upfront about it) except that I have a big family trip organized for the first couple of months of 2019.

    So now rather than working two years and having a nice solid job on my CV I’ll only have 1.5 years and 6 months of temping. Assuming of course i can find enough temp work to get me through to early 2019 :/ sigh

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Well, you don’t have to wait until your job ends to start a search!

      I’d start looking immediately and if you find something good, take it even if it’s earlier than your current job would like to release you.

      1. Candi*

        And as often mentioned on here, it can take a while to find a job -even with things looking up generally, specifics can be sticky.

        And if it gets close, just remember all the wonderful advice on here about negotiating time off when you discuss accepting the offer.

  48. Anon for this*

    How do you work out when it’s time to tell your boss about health issues you’ve been having, if they don’t require immediate accommodations, and they’re affecting you at work but in ways that you are able to handle yourself?

    I’m lucky to work remotely and have a decent amount of control over my schedule and workload so I have been able to accommodate the fact that some days I can barely see straight and take longer to do the same work. At the same time, it has affected me in some ways that my boss is bound to have noticed. A lot of metrics are kept on us, and I imagine that my efficiency won’t be great this year (since I’ve been sacrificing it to keep up quality). I’ve also forgotten a couple of low-priority, non-client-related deadlines until I was reminded. I’m improving my system for keeping track of stuff that I need to do since my memory isn’t as reliable anymore, but there’s not much I can do to keep some of my metrics from being affected (but more to the point of moving me from above average to average, nothing I’d be fired for).

    I’ve been wondering if I should say something. My friends have unanimously told me to say nothing at all, but I feel like being a totally remote employee is a pretty unique situation that might have different rules, plus my division of my employer is pretty kind and understanding with employees and I’m not concerned about them using it against me. I don’t want to overshare and be unprofessional, or create suspicion that I won’t be reliable in the future. At the same time, I have a positive and trusting relationship with my boss and her boss that I want to keep, and I feel like it would definitely come across better if I disclosed this proactively than only after I was approached with concerns about performance or received a lower rating on my annual review than last year. And since I work remotely, I could technically be drunk at my desk, doing another job simultaneously, or something like that and my bosses would never see – I think I would at least be curious about the cause of a change in performance for a remote employee under my management.

    I don’t have immediate plans to say anything, but it’s been on my mind, especially with performance reviews coming up. Is it really a bad idea to ever say anything when ADA or being fired for bad performance are not on the table? How do you know when you have more to gain by disclosing than not disclosing?

    1. Ella Fitz*

      I’m in a similar situation (remote work, positive bosses, etc.) and I would say something. My team over shares a bit, so that might be coloring my opinion but I don’t think it needs to be a big thing. Next time you have a 1:1 with your boss just say “Hey Lucinda, I wanted to give you a heads up I’m dealing with X right now. It shouldn’t affect my work and I don’t need accommodations, but I did want to give you a heads up what’s going on.”

      With remote work, it’s harder to work in casual, water cooler stuff (assuming this is something that you would have shared like that).

      Unfortunately, most of us spend most of our waking hours at work, but life does exist outside of it. Just like I might tell my boss that my baseball team won its championship game this weekend, it’s fine to tell people the less awesome things that are going on right now as well.

    2. CAA*

      As a manager who has some remote employees, I would want to know. I care about the people on my teams and I want to be helpful and provide whatever accommodations I can so that they can do their best work. Even though you don’t need accommodations now, I definitely think it will come across better if you bring it up first than if you have to use it to answer questions about why your job performance is declining.

    3. animaniactoo*

      I would say something to the effect of “Hey, I just wanted to give you a head’s up about this. I know you’ll notice that my numbers are down somewhat recently. I’m dealing with some health issues that aren’t something I need to take time off of work for, but do mean that I’ve had to figure out some new work practices to make sure that I am on top of everything. It seems to be working better lately but I wanted to make sure that you know I’m aware of it and working to improve the places that have been issues this year.”

      1. Candi*

        I find this both hilarious and amazing. You’ve distilled multiple instances of AAM advice into a beautiful little nugget. :) I like the phrasing too.

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      My answer to this is basically: when not telling is causing you stress AND you feel confident they’ll be understanding. But in my situation the British equivalent of the ADA did apply, in that the things I disclosed were related to something that would be classed as a disability. I told them I was experiencing x issue and was currently doing y to help myself but might some day need z accommodation.

      I have a record of the discussion in writing from my manager: what I said were the issues and what we had agreed about accommodations I might need if x became more of a problem. It was a weight off my mind actually.

  49. The Other Dawn*

    This isn’t work-related for me, but it would be for someone who works in real estate. (Feel free to tell me to re-post tomorrow if it’s not appropriate!)

    My sister, as a result of the money from the sale of my parents’ house, closed on a mobile home last week. She owns it outright, but has to pay a lot rental fee to the park. Given her well-established pattern of getting and losing jobs, and not really paying bills, my other sisters and I know that after a few months it’s quite likely she won’t be able to (or more likely, make an effort to) pay the monthly rental fee. Does anyone know what happens in that case? Do they make her take her home and move it (since it’s a mobile home, it can be done)? Put a lien on the house? Something else?

    1. Temperance*

      The consequences of nonpayment for lot fees will be in her lease. But generally speaking, it’s very likely that they’d put a lien on her trailer if she doesn’t pay the fees.

    2. periwinkle*

      I was actually curious about mobile lot leases (after reading a fascinating book called “Diners, Bowling Alleys, and Trailer Parks”) so I had done a bit of Googling. It depends on the lease agreement for the lot. I skimmed through one sample lease in which the lot owner could put a lien on certain types of tenant property (things like TVs and laptops); if the rent is unpaid for a certain amount of time, the lot owner had the right to come in and take identified property as rent payment.

      That wasn’t typical, though – generally, non-payment of lot rent = eviction.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yeah, I get the eviction thing BUT she owns the mobile home and not the lot–that’s what is tripping us up. I’m guessing she would be forced to sell it? It’s not our problem, actually, but my sisters and I are just curious because we know her history. I could ask her, but I feel like that’s basically telling her outright that we know she can’t or isn’t going to pay and it’s just a matter of time before she’s out on her butt. I mean, it’s true, but I don’t want to say that to her!

        I’m thinking because she owns the home it would be a lien as Temperance said.

        1. Chaordic One*

          I was recently watching a news show where they ran a segment on a trailer court and the people who lived there. The owner of the trailer court owned several trailer houses that he rented out and he acquired those trailer houses by first placing liens on them for nonpayment of rent, then foreclosing on them. It seems to me like it would be fairly easy for someone to lose their trailer house if they fell behind in paying their lot rent.

    3. FD*

      Depends on the lease.

      Mobile homes are…well, mobile! In theory, you can move a mobile home from one location to another (though it’s expensive). Unless her lease has something that states that if she doesn’t pay the rent, they can put a lien on her home, it’s most likely that she’d be evicted. In that case, the mobile home would likely be considered personal property that she had to remove within a certain period (i.e. by having a company come and move it to a new trailer park).

      1. Chaordic One*

        This conversation reminds me of that episode of “Two and a Half Men” where Berta’s sister, Daisy, comes to stay with Berta because someone stole her trailer house. Charlie hires Berta and Daisy to cater a party for his mother. Conflict inevitably follows which leads Berta to say, “Well, excuse me for trying to help my poor homeless baby sister!”

        Retorted Daisy, “I’m not homeless! I have a home! I just don’t know where it’s parked!”

  50. Lissa*

    Trying to decide whether to move jobs…stressful! I currently work a job I love, but it’s contract and the hours are not consistent, i.e. I have months where I’m working as many hours as I want to and months when I am scraping by. It has evened out decently and I’m a good saver. It also feels like a *ton* of money because I had worked at barely above minimum wage till now. Still, I don’t think it’s sustainable long term.

    I recently found out there’s going to be an opportunity doing the same job I do now in a different environment. Apparently they are really looking for people with my skillset, and my coworker (who does both my job and the other job) gave me a business card for someone who is apparently VERY interested in me, and wants my resume. I am thinking of giving it a shot. This would be much more regular work, a pay cut hourly though with benefits/vacation/sick time (which I have never had in my life).

    The downside is that I know I won’t like that environment as much as the job I do now. Because new opportunity would only be 30 hours a week, I could still do some more part time work at my contract position like my coworker does, which would hopefully keep me from getting totally frustrated…

    Anyway, kind of a brain babble because I didn’t think I’d have an opportunity like this kind of walk up to me!

    1. NorCalPM*

      It sounds as if you’ve thought this out in terms of the relevant variables relative to your needs. Give it a shot would be my advice. And remember that there’s no guarantee you’ll get that job. If you do get an offer, negotiate to ensure you strike the best possible deal for yourself, which may include enough time to also do some of your current contract work, if that’s still what you want after nailing down the terms (pay, hours, benefits, schedule, remote vs. onsite work) of the new job. You’re in the driver’s seat. Take advantage of that! And good luck.

  51. Mazzy*

    I’ve worked through a bunch of resentments and regrets this year pertaining to my career. I don’t know if others have ever felt this way, but I started to spend way too much emotional energy focused on why certain people had risen the ranks earlier when they were lazy, or didn’t understand the industry as well as I did, or what have you. I realized I needed to come to terms with how some of these HR decisions are made in a particular time and place without full information or a complete view of what the future will bring. I also realized that people might be envious of me for having my role. And at the end of the day, my benefits and salary are good. I need to learn to stop comparing myself to other people, especially when I’m only looking at the top 10% of employees. I’m happier in my job when I just focus on me, my projects, and what I want to be doing. If I’m absorbed in a project and stay late, that is my choice. I am doing what I am good at and happy doing. I don’t need recognition for every little thing and I don’t need my lazy coworker to be doing the same hours as me to prove a point. Sometimes I just need to appreciate having a 401K and not having to work holidays!

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      I felt this way, but what I did was channel my resentment into my job search. Now I’m starting a new job in December with a title bump, pay bump, and better benefits. If my current company wasn’t going to recognize and reward all of the hard work and accomplishments I was bringing to the table, I would find someone who would. I’m going to keep that mentality going forward.

  52. Jascha*

    My workplace used to be great – but it has changed a lot. I’m wondering if you guys can help give me some perspective on which aspects of it are “normal” (whatever that means) and which are dysfunctional or toxic. I’ve got a new contract to negotiate in January, and I want to start figuring out what changes would be reasonable requests.

    Here are some examples of the weirdness:
    * My colleagues and I were all told upon hiring that we could work from home when we needed to (in our industry, that’s easy, and most of our supervisors work from home entirely). Now they are reluctant to allow us to do it – even when coming into the office costs both us and the company time and money.
    * The company higher-ups do a lot of checking up on where we are, even though they have a calendar and notification system for when we’re working from home or away on business or holidays. This is new, and they haven’t said that there are any issues or given any reasons for checking up so often all of a sudden.
    * There is almost no communication at the company. We find out about tasks or events in which we are involved when someone either calendars them or asks us where deliverables (that we haven’t been told to produce) are.
    * There is what seems like favouritism between departments (one valued higher than the others; another receiving far less respect than any other) and people (some being praised and pushed to higher status because of personality rather than merit – and yes, at least in some cases, we are able to verify that it isn’t based on merit we don’t see).
    * The company pays well below market rate to non-sales positions (sales receive commissions and bonuses, but no other department receives bonuses). There are no cost-of-living pay rises, merit pay rises are not offered and must be requested, and when an agreement to raise pay is reached, the company or supervisor responsible “forgets” about it and the recipient has to undergo an awkward struggle to have it recognised. (Additionally, one colleague overheard the higher-ups complaining about how much another colleague was costing them, because she had recently been given a promotion that came with a – still under market rate – pay rise.)
    * There have been some strange ways of handling promotions and performance improvement. One of us was given a promotion in September, but told it was a “trial period” until January and not given a pay rise, benefits, privileges, or staff support in line with the title. However…
    * Another of us was placed on performance improvement, but the objectives weren’t made clear to the people in charge of the company – it was unilaterally done by one director. That person involved his union, who stated clearly that there was a fairly conclusive legal case against that director, because many of the objectives were unreasonable or prevented him from doing his job, and they were unfairly administered.
    * The person “on trial” for the promotion was likely also handled unilaterally by this person, who was the only point of contact. It’s possible the other supervisors and higher-ups are unaware of this “trial period.” We don’t know.

    Does this sound like workplace toxicity, or just the usual niggles that everyone faces, or is this the overblown complaining of a group of workers who aren’t getting what they think they deserve?

    1. WellRed*

      A noxious, bubbling stew of toxicity. The monitoring. The lack of communication. The “promotion” trial period. Those 3 stood out. The other things suck but seem a litlle more common to me.

      1. Jascha*

        Thank you for letting me know! We thought those things were strange, too, especially a five-month “trial” period, but we hadn’t enough context to be sure.

      1. Jascha*

        Thank you. It’s good to have a reality check, and even better to know we aren’t totally off-base!

    2. Jaguar*

      Toxic is a strong word. To me, it means an environment or behaviour or whatever that will do lasting damage to anyone that comes in contact. So, in terms of workplaces, things like abusive behaviour from superiors or a culture of workplace bullying would be toxic. This sounds more like dysfunctional. Lots of places are like that. It sounds like a crappy place to work, but I wouldn’t call it toxic.

      1. Jascha*

        Fair enough. I don’t think I’d necessarily say “lasting damage,” although things like mis-applied performance objectives and strange “trial periods” can’t be good for the careers of the people dealing with those. (The other issues probably less so.) Still, at least we know it’s noticeably dysfunctional, rather than just our department complaining about things that are normal in the workplace.

  53. Not So NewReader*

    Library people. Is there freeware available for libraries to use for their budgets and bookkeeping or is my thinking too wishful/imaginative?

    1. BunnyWatsonToo*

      TechSoup has software for libraries at incredibly reasonable prices. My library purchased Quickbooks from them.

  54. Mina*

    It’s definitely time for me to leave my current job – the work has become dull to me to the point that I find my frustration with it seeping into other parts of my life, and I’ve been here almost 3 years and see no opportunities for growth or change. I also think I want to switch to a different field. This will be my second full time job out of college.

    The problem is that I have no idea what field I want to go into. I have some vague ideas of positions that might interest me, but none of the skills or experience that most job postings specify. My current title is Teapot Researcher, and I thought I might be interested in a Coffee Pot Researcher position instead, but the vast majority of postings I’ve seen are after a skill set and technical knowledge that I just don’t possess. There are lots of things that I think I’d be capable of learning on the job, but in this case, my degree is in English and the Coffee Pot Researcher postings are asking for knowledge of coding and statistical programs. It’s just not going to happen unless I take a class, and I don’t know if I’m dedicated enough to the idea of this field to commit to that. Most of the other jobs that I’ve found that interest me either ask for similarly specific skills or pay significantly less than my current job does (and I’m already barely making ends meet).

    I know that part of this is in my own head, because I admittedly have a defeatist attitude toward job searching (i.e. I tell myself that I shouldn’t bother applying for jobs that I don’t qualify for because there must be hundreds of qualified applicants) that probably stems from my last job search being an enormous struggle. I’m certainly not expecting anyone here to tell me what to do with my life, but I would love to hear experiences from anyone who’s successfully switched fields. How did you decide that you wanted to do something different? How did you sell yourself?

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      Well, I just recently switched fields myself from insurance to the transportation industry in a business development/sales capacity (I’ll be a proposal manager). I’ve never worked in sales, never worked with RFPs, and my prior transportation experience is in the trucking industry, which is not the industry I’ll be entering.

      However, I have a BA in journalism, and proposal managers need to be strong writers. Apparently, my cover letter was so good, the director of the department brought me in and I was hired on the strength of that letter and my in person interviews with him and the hiring managers. If I were you, I would focus on your cover letter – make a strong case for transferable skills. Some places may not bite (I had so many rejections), but it just takes one yes, one person to take a chance on you if you can paint a clear picture of how your current skills can be utilized in the new role.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I switched from journalism to working for a charity (non-profit). I had to make a change as I was totally burned out and making myself ill. It was a gradual change as I did do some retraining and continued running my freelance business while taking on part-time work that kind of bridged the two fields and also volunteering. There were a couple of years where I didn’t exactly have much money or really any free time, but I didn’t have to pack things in so closely.

      I’d been a journalist for about a decade and wrongly believed I had zero transferrable skills. It helped to look at a really wide range of job postings – some I thought I could maybe do, some really wildly varied and random – and starting to think about how my skills might match what they asked for. I found it much easier to spot potential transferrable skills when I had concrete examples of what I might transfer them to.

      It also helped to think about what I wanted to do with my time! Like, what tasks I actually liked and disliked.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        It also helped to think about what I wanted to do with my time!

        This is important. I hate talking on the phone, that’s the worst part of my current job (having to talk to outside parties), so I made sure to only apply for jobs that didn’t have a strong external customer service component. I also thought about what my favorite parts of my current job are (e.g. writing, coordinating the work of others, research), and I applied for jobs in fields that capitalize on those things.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Yep. I think a lot of the time people think of the field and title but not the little things that make up the day to day.

    3. Theodoric of York*

      Definitely second all the comments so far.

      Another possibility is to find a company that makes both teapots and coffee pots. Being in a place that does both will allow you a close-up view of coffee pot design. Enter as a teapot researcher, and then “migrate” your job towards coffee pots, if you decide you want to.

  55. Elizabeth West*

    Does anybody know if Glassdoor or other job boards renew listings that have been up for a certain period of time? It showed the one I interviewed for on 11/8, and then it showed it again with a shorter posting period, like this:

    JARVIS Training Assistant – Stark Industries (22 days ago)
    JARVIS Training Assistant – Stark Industries (16 days ago)

    The hiring manager told me they would let people know the next week, but he also said he had two internal candidates and one more external applicant to interview. Plus he was a tiny bit late coming out and joked, “See, I need an assistant to keep me on schedule.” It also took a month from interview to offer at Exjob and there is a holiday on now.

    I just wondered if the posting renewal was automatic or if they did it because “Eh, we didn’t find anyone who was worth a crap.” :\

    1. The New Wanderer*

      I believe the job postings can be both automatically renewed as well as indications that the job position will remain open until someone has accepted an offer. Almost every job I’ve applied to in the past 3 months is still listed (or reposted) on Glassdoor or LinkedIn. In one case it’s because they’re doing rolling acceptances for multiple openings under that job title (usually there are different req numbers but those aren’t always easy to find/may not be listed). In another it’s because the application period is still open and I was on the early side.

      It’s disheartening but common and not directly associated with “didn’t find any applicants good enough.”

    2. anon24*

      I once applied for a job on indeed. The general manager ran 2 branches so he had me interview first on a Tuesday with the person who ran the branch when he wasn’t there. First interview went good, person told me I like you, I’ll have him call you today or tomorrow and set up an interview time for this Thursday. Next day I get the automatic email from indeed with all the new job postings, and the job I interviewed for was reposted. I couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong. Then about half an hour later general manager called me to schedule the second interview, and I got the job (he didn’t even ask me any questions during that interview, just said other person likes you so I’m offering you the job I just needed to meet you first).

      1. WellRed*

        It can be startling to see a moose in an unexpected area. Also kinda cool. I speak from experience ; ).

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Taking pictures?

      Once in a while we get a moose or a bear wandering around in our towns. It’s kinda cool.

    2. Mephyle*

      And… I’m off to the news page to find out more.

      Wow! Airport incursion, helicopter police chase and more!

  56. Lazy Cat*

    I just need to vent. My boss is terrible at scheduling (we email her every week with corrections). Literally every schedule email says “tell me if you see problems.” We work Tues to Sat, but “get” a Sat off each month and work a Mon in exchange. I wasn’t assigned a Sat off in December, and when I asked about it, assuming it was a mistake like usual, I overheard comments implying I was trying to get “even more” time off this month…even though we all get the same Sat holidays for Christmas, and she sent me some confusing email implying my Sat “off” is one where we’re closed for the holiday, even though that’s never been the case for other Sat holidays or other years.

    I don’t mind the lack of Saturday off (if she had mentioned it in advance that scheduling wouldn’t allow it, or if she hadn’t immediately assumed that I was trying to game the system), but that combined with the fact that we aren’t short staffed on any Saturday, plus the fact that *she* gets two Saturdays off PLUS the holiday Saturdays has me in a fury.

    For lots of reasons, this is “your boss won’t change”, and I am applying, but oof, she hadn’t made me this mad in ages. Thanks for listening!

  57. Fresh Faced*

    I’m living in retail hell this Black Friday weekend (tomorrows shift ends at 8pm!) But I’ve just been asked to do a second phone interview for a studio I really want to work in. I’m praying I get this job, and that if I do I’ll know it before Christmas.

  58. Part-time Professor*

    I am an adjunct professor at a community college and this fall took on an additional part-time position “coordinating” a mentor program to assist students to come into compliance with new state-wide policy regarding core math and English requirements. There are 17 mentors in the program that I had no hand in selecting and hiring, and a job description was not written until after they and I were hired (I was sent an email by a VP and asked to come in to interview for the position and hired on the spot). These mentors are all adjunct, part-time faculty who received only a two-hour training that was not sufficient for what they are being asked to do. The program, I came to learn, was not really thought out prior to implementation, but rather an idea they are implementing based on a goals time-line. As you can imagine, this is not going well, not at all. I have tried to diligently bridge the gap between what these 17 people need to do and the training they were given by creating a virtual office with printed instructions and information to make the job easier to do correctly and making myself available for one-on-one training and answer questions by phone and email at all hours and evenings and weekends. Still, the various departments involved (IT, admissions, etc.) are just as confused and scrambling to make things happen and it seems I am expected to “manage” things when I have no authority, very little information, was not given a clear or accurate “big picture” about the project, and it changes as it develops and is implemented day to day. Recently I made a mistake ( I thought the 17 mentors were supposed to use a computerized form for a task they were not supposed to use it for) but other than creating confusion and wasting some time, it didn’t break anything or cost any money. Around this same time, I had sent an email to my “supervisor” and asked about some issues with information about students in different computer systems not being the same and explaining the problems this was creating for the 17 mentors (this was based on what their complaints to me). Since that time, I have ceased to be included on email chain discussions as before, my supposed supervisor is a bit more detached in her interactions with me, and I was told they are “reassessing” how the program should look for next semester. They are holding a meeting with the 17 mentors to get feedback but I am not invited to that meeting, and I am having a separate meeting with my supervisor and her supervisor at which I was asked to talk about how I see the program going forward. I feel like this is a set-up for being let go. I am afraid to go into this meeting with my real ideas as it may be interpreted as me pointing out how badly this program was put together and managed from the beginning, because it will have to include undoing some of the things that have happened thus far. On the other hand, I am afraid if I don’t come up with something to save the sinking ship, I will be asked to step away. Thoughts?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Not in academics. But for this type of setting where everything is going wrong, I tend to use the approach of, “I am here to help.” I try to find out where the boss’ major concerns are. This is a good strategy because a boss loaded up with worry is not going to listen to my worry. Find ways to lighten the boss’ load. The annoying part here is that the boss will worry about a trash can fire and meanwhile the whole back end of the building is ablaze. Take care of the trash can fire to get the boss to focus on what is really going on.

      Sometimes I find out that the boss knew right along x was a bad plan and is not surprised I am having difficulty. What happens next is I get more range so I can deal with stuff.

      Worst case scenario the boss says “What do you think is wrong here?” I pick the top two things that if fixed would be of the most benefit to the effort. When the boss says, almost sneeringly, what about problem C?” I remain calm and say, “Yes, I was thinking about that too. If you are interested, I think we could do step 1, 2 and 3 to get a handle on Problem C.”

      It sounds like you have your suggestions well thought out, this is a bonus. The next step is just to remain calm and matter of fact. The boss is the leader, we are there to help as much as we can and keeping this in mind will help.

      1. Part-time Professor*

        Thanks for the suggestions – good reminder that making things easier for her can make them easier for me as well.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Annnd a good boss reciprocates this, she is concerned about making things easier for you because she knows if it’s easier for you then you will be an even better employee and she will be a better boss. Hopefully you have a boss who gets this.

  59. Savannnah*

    My husband and I are relocating to Portland for his job in February and I am job searching from NY. Through my work connections I got an interview with a Dean of a university out there. I had it 3 weeks ago and while it was great and we really connected on some professional and personal levels, I wasn’t there for any particular job posting so it was a weird interview. I followed up the next day with my CV and a thanks and haven’t heard anything since. It was good to hear her ideas for what she could use me for and what other job leads I could look into at the university and in the area but she gave me some mixed messages on if she was interested in finding me a position with her school. I asked her if they were accredited through a specific body and she said no, but that she hoped I would be around to celebrate with them when they did. I also am pretty sure I was there to scare some of her leadership team because they were not happy to seem me there so I’m not sure what my follow up should be. She did mention seeing me again after the new year and wanted to talk more about my research but it seems much more nebulous 3 weeks later. Any ideas?

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

      I’m not sure if it’s the case at this university, but at mine, we have a hiring freeze for the last 2 months of the calendar year (except for essential positions) which means nothing new gets posted, and nothing open gets filled. The fact that she wants to see you after the new year may mean she anticipates a position opening, but isn’t at liberty to discuss it now. I wouldn’t give up hope, but keep looking for other options.

  60. qwerty*

    I work with one other person, “Elise”. Elise is slightly senior to me in terms of work and has been training me. She is also about 30 years older than me as well. Elise is nice, but she loves to gossip.

    Just recently Elise said that she was talking to another manager about something and how “Qwerty and I thought that…”

    I was shocked! I didn’t want Elise to tell the manager anything! I wasn’t even there when they had that conversation, nor do I want Elise putting words in my mouth or dragging me into anything.

    I’m pretty quiet and reserved, which doesn’t help, but it really upsets me. I don’t want to get into trouble for something and am sick of Elise dragging me into this.

    Should I just be quiet around her or really watch what I say?

    Am I overeacting or should I say something to Elise?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I think you could start reacting in the moment. “Why would you say that? We didn’t talk about that. You don’t need to speak for me.” You want to be polite but also convey that this won’t work with you.

  61. Ramona Flowers*

    A colleague and I co-present a training course that comes with slides written before our time. Currently we aren’t able to change these, but I am making a case for revamping the presentation because there are too many slides with too much information on them that we are expected to basically read out and I feel frustrated and kneecapped as a speaker.

    Generally I don’t mind public speaking and I think I’m reasonably good at it. I always know my material but I don’t exactly rehearse what I’m going to say – I speak really openly and spontaneously, use storytelling and get great feedback on presentations I’ve put together myself. Here, I am getting bored and am probably boring my audience – and I don’t think you should ever just read from slides.

    However, I’m 90% sure my manager wrote the existing training, and she hasn’t seemed at all receptive to any gentle suggestions that perhaps we could rethink this – and they have been very gentle I hasten to add.

    As a result I am dreading the occasions when I have to do this training, and frustrated because it could be so much better.

    1. K-Ann*

      Ooooh, been here. It’s never fun to have to tell a superior that something they created needs re-work, but it becomes so much more difficult if they’re not receptive.

      Do you collect feedback from attendees at the end of the sessions? Perhaps having everyone fill out a feedback form, where the questions have evaluators rate the speaker and the presentation/material separately, you’ll be able to provide some data to support your suggestion (assuming your attendees are on the same page you are).

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        We do collect feedback, but it tends to be fairly minimal – we only have a set form to work with.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      Ugh, this is so frustrating.

      I agree with you. People who just read straight from the slides are wasting everyone’s time. Why create a PowerPoint that gives all the information? I was always taught that the presentation should have enough information to cover the key elements and then the speaker fills in the rest.

      I actually had a lecturer at university who would put all the information on slides and read it out to us. He would get very annoyed when we weren’t taking notes although there was no point. The information was uploaded to the university’s intranet. By the end of the first term, I think only one or two stalwarts were attending the lectures. The rest of us took an extra two hours in bed and read the slides with a cup of coffee later that day.

      Fingers crossed that you can get your manager to see sense.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Thanks! We have some info in notes on the slides and we have handouts so it’s not like anyone needs to have so much on the slides. They’re not bad, just over full!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Your gentle suggestions may be so gentle that she does not even realize it’s a suggestion.

      Or she may think that you want her to rewrite it and she does not have the bandwidth to do that.

      I would be tempted to consider grouping the slides according to subtopic then printing out handouts. Let the people read each group then talk about the over-arching concepts, the most important thing, which ever makes sense. Ask for questions and move to the next subtopic group.

      OR You could ask the boss to attend a presentation so she can see for herself if this is how she wants her material presented.
      OR You might try reworking one section and show her. Explain what you have done and why. Then ask her if she would like you to continue reworking the presentation. You might be able to say that you find presentations need periodic review for purposes of updating, adding in FAQs and so on. Talk about what you have done with your own presentations instead of talking about what you want to do to hers.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Thanks so much for this. I think you are right that it might seem like I want her to rewrite it – which had not occurred to me before.

    4. Horizons*

      Do you have any evaluation or assessment data? If not, can you put some in place? If the students aren’t getting what they need, or are unsatisfied, that’s the best ammunition for change.

    5. Artemesia*

      I rarely used slides to convey information when I taught. I would use them to structure the flow of the topic or to structure activities. If you are stuck with the slides, think about how you can structure the class so that these are background or information for discussion or activities. Once this is working well, you might talk about ‘adapting the slide deck to work with the discussion points and activities we are using in class.’

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Thanks all!

        I think some of my frustration has come from being hired for a job where being an effective trainer was in the criteria and then not being able to be as effective as I want to. I can’t take all the advice here for various reasons but it’s all hugely appreciated.

        1. Anna Held*

          Do you have to read exactly what’s in the slide, though? If you can say the same information with different word choice, intonation, examples, etc., it won’t feel the same to the audience — it’ll reaffirm the info, not repeat it. If you have to read it, maybe stop and ask for people’s own experiences with the topic. Breaking up the reading will help too.

          But yeah, I’d try rewriting a couple slides and saying “Do you mind if I try this? Of course we’ll still use the original script, but this suits X better.”

          Also, you could try the font size argument. I like the rule of thumb that your smallest font size should be the age of your oldest participant. If you deal with the elderly, you’re golden!

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            Don’t have to use the exact wording but it’s all on there and can only be reworded by so much. Unfortunately I can’t just rewrite it for various reasons but thanks all!

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

            I was thinking this. Do you have to say what’s on the slides, or can you just talk more freely about the topic and basically ignore the existing ones except as cues?

            I hate it when speakers read the slides. Makes some sense when they are reading a relevant quote, I suppose, but some people take it to extremes. One time I sat through a presentation where the speaker had some quotes etc AND HE READ OUT THE CITATIONS, INCLUDING THE PAGE NUMBERS!! I was completely flabbergasted. Half his speaking time was taken up with saying “Notable Author, A Really Fascinating Paper 2016, pages 334 to 335” over and over.

  62. qwertyuiop*

    I work with one other person, “Elise”. Elise is slightly senior to me in terms of work and has been training me. She is also about 30 years older than me as well. Elise is nice, but she loves to gossip.

    Our boss and others make fun of the fact that Elise constantly says, “We” and how she “drags” them into things.

    Just recently Elise said that she was talking to another manager about something and how “Qwerty and I thought that…”

    I was shocked! I didn’t want Elise to tell the manager anything! I wasn’t even there when they had that conversation, nor do I want Elise putting words in my mouth or dragging me into anything.

    I’m pretty quiet and reserved, which doesn’t help, but it really upsets me. I don’t want to get into trouble for something and am sick of Elise dragging me into this.

    Should I just be quiet around her or really watch what I say?

    Am I overeacting or should I say something to Elise?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      People repeat what we say. And we never know when they will repeat us. This is a good thing to keep in mind at all times.
      With Elise, I would speak to her as if I were speaking to a boss. Not that she is my boss, but she is a parrot. I would not say anything to her that I would not say to a boss.

      Also, you can say, “Please do not speak for me. If I want to talk something over with the boss I will.” Don’t expect this to work, as this seems to be her habit and she sees no point in changing. So your primary plan will be to pretend everything you say goes to the boss when you are speaking with her.

      I could be mistaken but this is probably a person who does not believe that she can say something and she will be respected/listened to about the matter. That is why she needs to take someone with her when she opens a topic.

      I had a coworker like this a while ago. You get used to it. I had other coworkers who would share the laugh with me as we talked about it. “Oh don’t say x to Jane. She will go to the boss with it and she will make it into 100 times what was actually said.”
      As you are saying here, the coworker was basically nice and she did do her work. We all knew this is how it was and we just watched what we said.

    2. Artemesia*

      This is a dangerous co-worker. You should not only be careful about what you say but also when it is the right moment with the boss, let her know that Elise doesn’t speak for you as in ‘I know Elise sometimes tries to imply that I (or we all) agree with her when she is trying to make a point, but she doesn’t speak for me. I will talk to you directly if I have issues I want to bring up.’ This kind of person can really damage you if you have an inept boss. I have had to untangle a mess or two when someone used my name to push something that either I didn’t support or that I had heard the boss say ‘no’ on and thus was not going to push further on. You can look really tone deaf if you appear to be part of a group complaint when you are not.

  63. esra*

    Our ceo is giving a “big” mystery announcement at the holiday party.

    Why. Why, ceos. Why do you love stressful, secret announcements?

    1. Zathras*

      Aargh, I hate this kind of thing too – I hope your CEO has enough common sense not to announce bad news at the holiday party. Fingers crossed it is something awesome (“Everyone is getting huge bonuses!”) or at worst benign (“We are getting new carpet!”). Then you can all laugh over the holiday treats about how worried you were when it turned out to be about the carpet.

    2. Theodoric of York*

      It’s all about power, and being seen to have power. Your CEO knows something you don’t! And s/he wants you to know that s/he knows!

  64. nep*

    Related to the current flood of sexual harassment cases in the news — I wonder what has happened in situations where someone was facing sexual harassment in the workplace *amid* all this attention to the issue. Did the news/visibility cause a change in the offender’s behaviour? Anyone have any direct experience with this or heard of any such situations?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I can’t go into specifics but I know of a situation where the accused has already lost their jobs. The charges are from a long time ago and not workplace related. Accused just bought home and has a new baby. I have no idea how this will land, but if the person is correctly accused I hope they throw the book at him. If he’s unfairly accused his life is basically over- financially, employment-wise etc.

      Which brings me to something that really bothers me. If this sexual harassment stuff occurred just with a random person in the public arena then the guilty party MIGHT get labeled as a sex offender and be on the registry. (Depending on the extend of the action, the severity of the crime they are charged with and how the plea deal goes.) It bothers me that in some cases what is called harassment in the workplace is actually a crime in society.

    2. Maya Elena*

      I haven’t, but it bothers me because a lot of them (not all) are so long ago and quite minor, comparatively speaking. It’s hard for me to get as outraged at a guy jerking off in front of someone or propositioning them as at date rape or molesting young athletes.

      It doesn’t square for me that the public outrage is the same for all of these allegations, regardless of severity.

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

        Yeah I tend to agree. I don’t want to diminish anyone’s experiences, and I can say “me too” as well, but the things that have happened to me were so trivial in the grand scheme of things that I don’t want to make a fuss about them because it risks diminishing someone who suffered real harm.

        I’m also uncomfortable with the level of outrage expressed by some people. It feels like well meaning people are being manipulated into upholding stereotypes that will ultimately undermine their own positions. But I don’t want to derail this to much so I’ll leave it there.

      2. nep*

        Could you elaborate a bit? No snark here — I genuinely want to understand your point. When you say public outrage, do you mean treatment of these issues in the media? How do you think this should be addressed? Each time a sexual harassment incident came to light, people would make some kind of disclaimer like ‘While these acts are not as grave as child molestation or date rape…’ ? I want to understand how you think things could be handled / addressed better.

      3. Observer*

        In theory, I agree with you. But you are overlooking some real issues. To take, say Harvey Weinstein – this was repeated and clearly unwanted. So, no he’s not a serial rapist, but he is a serial abuser. Al Franken presents another set of issues. His non-apology “apology” is offensive and speaks to his current attitude. So does the fact that he originally said “That was supposed to be funny.” with no trace of understanding of how outrageous his behavior was. Combined with the fact that he thought it was ok to do this in front of a camera and other people – and that he was perfectly happy to grope a sleeping woman and shows no real remorse I’m frankly not so sure that this is only “long ago” and I wouldn’t be surprised of he’s done worse.

        Is this true of EVERY story? No. But let’s not be too quick to brush stuff off as “not as serious” and long ago.

  65. Fake old Converse shoes*

    Some people asked a couple of questions about the people in this office two weeks ago, so I answer here:

    * Do they appreciate having jobs? Considering their constant bragging, most of them come from rich families. Once or twice I overheard someone mentioning “my chauffeur”. I wonder if there is someone among them that never used public transport.

    * Where is their boss? No idea. I’ve seen them talking to people in the upper floors of the building that seem to be higher ups. We were never told what are they supposed to do, and they ignore our reason to be here as well.

    *Is this your office? No! This is the client’s office. We’re quiet people. I miss them lots. Seriously.

  66. IstayorIgo*

    Looking for some advice, I work for a place that was bought by another place. I loved the culture of the original place, and the culture of the new place is not heathy, and includes some toxic people who verbally abuse others, and just get slaps on the wrist (for years). HR has no intention of doing anything about them, I’ve complained many times, as have others.
    Others in the new company are obstructionist. I’m in management and I have a team that I absolutely love and they work their behinds off for me, they are the best! However I spend a ton of time playing “mama bear” to protect them from these toxic people and I’m tired of having to play that role, I’m a diplomat by nature so being a “freedom fighter” protecting the team and fighting to preserve the old culture is wearing me out. Plus I don’t feel that work should be like this in the first place! The old place wasn’t like that even the slightest (I have worked here all together nearly a decade).
    My boss just wants to fit in and keep his job, this is his dream job (to be with this sort of company), so he bends over to anything anyone asks of him whether it’s good or not. He knows I’m unhappy and my team is unhappy, but keeps telling me we get to make the new culture what we want as we are a new company now, but I know the other people in the new company don’t think they are the problem, they think we are the problem. All the while he’s also using me to fight the battles so he doesn’t have to.
    To top it all off I work 60-80 hours a week (for the last two years now) and I’m just really burnt out and tired, it’s impacting my health more and more. My husband and child are resentful that they never see me anymore and my husband feels like a single dad, and his own career is taking second place.

    My dilemma is that a large 3 year long project is coming up in a couple of months, it would be an incredible resume builder. It will take me out of my main job about 80%. I’ll have a backfill but will still be expected support my team 20% or so. My team is really worried about me not being there to fight for them anymore, I expect some will leave once I move over into this other spot.
    I’m thinking of dropping down to an 80% schedule to get out of my main function completely. I’m sure they will agree to it just to keep me as I’m the only one in the company who knows how many critical things work.
    But I’m wondering if it’s more healthy to leave completely? This project won’t remove the culture issues, and it won’t reduce my interaction with the toxic people.
    It may even increase it.
    I’m so burnt out yet emotionally responsible for these people who depend on me that I feel like I can’t make a rational decision any longer, I’m also afraid I’m too burnt out to do any good at a new company so maybe need to take a few months off to recover….

    Any thoughts would be helpful!

    1. Zathras*

      It doesn’t sound to me like you owe your current company much (quite the reverse). How badly do you need the resume builder? Is it really going to be the awesome project you envision, in your burned-out state and at a company you have to fight all the time, or are you evaluating it as if you would be getting to do it at your old company?

      Three years is a really long time to be burned out, overworked, and frustrated. Personally I’d probably look for a new job.

      1. IstayorIgo*

        Zathras, you’re right it’s a long time to be like this- I don’t necessarily need the resume builder, it’s just something unique and would allow me to work with a couple people I really like, but you’re right I’m looking at it through the lens of the old company culture and not the new one.
        I think looking at it like that, that maybe the new job route is best. Thanks for your time.

        1. Zathras*

          It can be really hard to to readjust your perception when a work environment (or really any environment) that you liked takes a turn for the worse. Good luck!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Oh I think I would be done here.
      However, in the interim, you can start to teach your people how to advocate for themselves and how to do some things they are not doing now.
      This prepares them for whatever you decide you will do for yourself.

      1. IstayorIgo*

        This is great advice, thank you. The team really is the main concern I have so teaching them to fight will help.

    3. SAHM*

      I feel like my husband could have written this, word for word, except we’re hanging on for a few more years bc his sign on bonus (with new company) is stock that vests x years from now. Thank you for sharing. I wish you luck in your job search!

  67. Not awesome*

    What’s the least actionable feedback you’ve ever received?

    I once worked at a very toxic job and had a ridiculous title (think, “Guardian of Awesomeness”). Manager once said, “You’re terrible! It’s like you don’t even know what Awesomeness is!!?!”


    1. PlantLady*

      Back in the dark ages, I worked at a department store (Mervyn’s…does anybody remember them?) in the cash/business office. We were behind a wall with two little windows where customers could walk up to pay their store credit card bill, get something gift-wrapped, etc. We really couldn’t see anyone through these windows until they were basically standing right in front of us. If we leaned over the counter, we could sort of see into the card/gift wrap area, but we couldn’t see any further than the card display closest to our area.

      I once got marked down on my annual review because while I was “very good with the customers at the window” and “greeted them promptly” the store policy was that we were to greet any customer who came within 20 feet of us. Idiots, I can’t _see_ anyone until they’re in my window! What am I supposed to do, shout “Welcome to Mervyn’s, what can I help you with?” randomly, on the off chance there might be someone in the area I can’t see?

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

        I used to love that place!

        I got put on notice once at a glasses shop I worked in for not making enough sales and not trying hard enough to be friendly with customers. Absolutely nobody ever walked in there on most days, as it was in the quiet end of a dying shopping mall and the big “anchor” store next to it had closed. (It might actually have been Mervyn’s, come to think of it!). The shop was run down and there was zero advertising, so nobody knew we were there.

    2. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      “I don’t know my role”….. when referring to me trying to do something that is literally in the written job description. (I’m giving notice Monday!)

    3. Hnl123*

      My ‘supervisor’, who doesn’t actually oversee my work, just had a more senior title gave me this feedback. “You’re too confident. You clearly know your work, you come to meetings well prepared, and you have a lot of knowledge. It’s making others feel bad about themselves.” Like…. wtf? What am I supposed to do? Come to meetings more unprepared?

      I couldn’t understand why the priority was to punish me by giving me low marks instead of requiring to raise the bar on everyone else. Ugh

    4. Charlotte Collins*

      I was once told that my attitude wasn’t as good as it could be. (Nobody’s was at the time, because of very stressful changes happening in the organization.) But apparently, it was a problem for me alone. So, my manager actually suggested that I see a doctor about going on medication.

      While I applaud people who realize that they have mental health issues that require medication, I am not one of them. So, “Charlotte’s not in a great mood despite budget and staff cuts and dealing with people who don’t respect her. Let’s drug her up!” is a solution?

      This is the same place that had a goal of “dazzling customer service.” What does that even mean? We were processing government benefits! Nobody wants dazzling from that! They want quick, competent, and polite customer service.

  68. Zathras*

    Does anyone have good tips on how to handle it when a male colleague won’t shake hands with you (a woman) in a meeting for cultural/religious reasons, and also does absolutely no work to help smooth over the interaction?

    A few months ago my team (I’m the only woman) met with a guy from a satellite office in a country where men traditionally don’t touch women they aren’t related to. The meeting was at our company headquarters, which is the US office where I work. Visitor dude shook hands with the men who walked into the room with me, then turned his back to me without acknowledging me at all and sat down. My boss noticed that I’d been skipped over and introduced me, at which point the visitor dude turned back to me and I held out my hand automatically. We had the most limp fish handshake I have ever encountered (his hand was 100% limp, no grip at all) where he was literally cringing, not making eye contact, and pulling/turning away as if being forced to touch something unspeakably disgusting.

    What would you have said/done? Is there any way to professionally call this out when the other person is more senior? I’m less upset that he wasn’t willing to shake hands than with the fact that he expected me to just silently accommodate what in the US is incredibly rude behavior. I would have been OK with it if he’d simply said something along the lines of, “Sorry, I prefer not to shake hands with women.” I might have my private opinions about that, but it gives me the social cue to withdraw my hand and say “Sure, nice to meet you” and we can all move on.

    I’m not particularly likely to attend more in-person meetings with this specific guy, but our office in his country is pretty big, so I could encounter this again. I’m not very confrontational or good at on the spot reactions, so a professional but pointed script I can keep in my back pocket would really help.

    1. Friday*

      WOW how rude of him. What did your boss think of his behavior? Did the dude interact with you at all on a professional level after that?

      1. Zathras*

        I don’t think my boss noticed how painfully awful the handshake was, from where he was standing he didn’t have a good view of the other guy’s face or body language. I didn’t bring it up to him later because it was my first week at a new job. If it happened now I would probably would bring it up at a 1:1 and say something like “What are the company expectations around this, and how would you like me to handle it in future?”

        Hard to answer the second question – I was so new I had very little to contribute at the meeting. Visitor guy did not know this when I walked in, though, and someone in my role would normally be an active participant in that meeting. I didn’t really work with this guy again – there were a few other calls with him but for unrelated reasons those fell to another person on the team, and ultimately the potential collaboration between our teams was put on hold.

        1. Artemesia*

          Someone needs to counsel this jerk about how to deal with a diverse workplace. For example, he could work out some sort of non touching acknowledgement so he is bowing or nodding or whatever and saying ‘pleased to meet you’ or ‘look forward to working with you’ without having to shake. It would be slightly awkward the first time, but then you would know but most importantly he would be acknowledging the introduction.

          You aren’t the one who can counsel him, but perhaps you could indicate to your manager that this needs to happen so he doesn’t embarrass the company with female clients or insult other women co-workers.

    2. Bobstinacy*

      Yeah that’s just rude. I’ve been introduced to a lot of Muslim men who don’t touch women that they’re not related to and most held a hand over their heart and did a small bow instead of shaking my hand. Still a respectful greeting, which is the opposite of what happened to you.

      For future non-jerky dudes, maybe look into what that culture does when being introduced to the opposite sex, that way if you feel it might come up you can give the ‘approved’ greeting before it becomes an issue.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I had a cultural training in the workplace session today, and the importance of knowing cultural differences came up. The trainer showed the old HSBC adverts which are funny but give real examples. (They are on Youtube if you want to look for them)

        What seems odd in this case is that nobody had thought handshaking could be an issue. Presumably there are other people in the satellite office who also would not touch women they did not know?

        1. Zathras*

          I watched some of the ads, those are pretty funny! I liked the one where they keep feeding larger and larger fish to the poor British guy who doesn’t know he should leave some food on his plate.

          My company does a lot of formal training for new hires but it’s very technically focused – there was a video at one point about not accepting bribes. I think I have an email somewhere asking for feedback about it, if the link is still good maybe I can suggest that they do a video covering thinks like meeting etiquette in the different offices we have around the world.

    3. HannahS*

      I don’t really know what you can do, but I think if people are uncomfortable shaking men’s hands or women’s hands, they have to have a rule for themselves not to shake anyone’s hands. In my fantasy world, you and I are confident enough to pull the guy aside afterwards and say, “It’s really disrespectful to shake everyone’s hands but mine. You should greet everyone in the room in the same way. So if you cannot touch women, then you should not be shaking hands with men.” But in reality I doubt I’d have myself together enough to do that. Ideally, the higher ups can coach this kind of thing.

      1. Anna Held*

        Why not still talk to your boss? Or HR, just to ask if they have cross-cultural tips or training? If there’s a big office in that country, you’re right, it will come up again. But it likely has already with others, and there’s a way it’s normally dealt with.

        1. HannahS*

          Yeah, that’s a good idea. She could definitely ask her boss to discuss it with this guy’s boss or ask HR.

          1. HannahS*

            And to be clear, I think that cross-cultural tips for things like this shouldn’t be “The women in this office should understand that So-and-So is religiously forbidden to touch women and thus he will be shaking hands with all the men and not with the women.” It should be “Because So-and-So is religiously forbidden from touching women, he will nod politely at each person.” I’ve participated in communities where men and women don’t touch, and it can send a pretty clear message of “All the men get a standard business greeting, but you, a woman, get something *alternative* which is not a standard business greeting, because you’re a woman.” It’s not a good way of making women in the workplace feel welcomed and respected. The onus is on the people who won’t do the standard business greeting (i.e. won’t handshake) to treat male and female coworkers in the same way. To do otherwise is sexist, in the most basic, literal sense sense of the word.

            1. Zathras*

              I’m hesitant to go to my boss about this incident now, months afterward, but if we schedule another meeting with someone from that office, that would be a good opportunity. I could chat with him before that and and say “That reminds me, last time we met with someone from X office, this happened, how should I handle that if it happens again?”

              You’ve touched on what bothers me about the “wait to see if he offers his hand” approach – expecting me to do all the work of anticipating doesn’t demonstrate respect for me and my position as an equal. That said, particularly with someone who is more senior to me (as this guy was) it’s probably prudent to take the hint in the moment if he acknowledges me with a different polite gesture.

              I work in tech in a field where women are very underrepresented, so it’s somewhat important not to allow men to ignore me.

              1. Theodoric of York*

                Really interesting question! I think that the rude act was not acknowledging your presence. That should not be acceptable. Your question about how to handle this in the future is very reasonable. At the very least, your boss will be looking for any repetition of the behavior.

                Perhaps a good middle ground is a head nod with a slight bow. If he turns his back on that, people will notice. I hear you about avoiding hugs. I’ve never been in that situation at work, but I’ve got
                relatives …

    4. nep*

      Having lived in communities where some men won’t shake hands with a colleague/acquaintance, I am now used to watching to see whether a man extends a hand. If he doesn’t, I’ll nod and sometimes put my hands together — a gesture common in those communities.
      In my view, part of working with a diverse population is respecting this. But, of course, the man who chooses not to shake a woman’s hand must nod or make some similar polite gesture and acknowledge her — not making a huge deal of it, just making a polite gesture and greeting.

      1. Zathras*

        Yeah, I think sensitivity to diversity has to flow both ways – I’m not interested in forcing anyone to shake my hand, but I need the guy to acknowledge me and be polite, even if that wouldn’t be necessary in his culture, because it’s necessary in mine!

        In social situations I’m much more willing to follow other people’s cues re: greetings – I don’t even particularly like handshakes, it’s just that at work they are a currency of respect among engineers. Most of the time in social settings I wait to see what the other person does. Although I do proactively offer my hand when the other person is a guy who is clearly hesitating between a handshake and a hug, if I don’t want a hug. (That happens more with goodbyes than hellos, though.)

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

          This seems more about him pointedly ignoring you than the handshake. If he’s from a culture where women are routinely ignored then someone really needs to counsel him on that. It’s one thing to not want to touch you, it’s quite another to ignore you. At least your boss noticed, so he might have some ideas for how to make it smoother next time.

          1. Zathras*

            Yes, you’re right, it’s mostly about being ignored, and that’s what made the whole thing so rude. If he hadn’t initially ignored me and we’d just had the super awkward handshake, I would assume he tried his best to observe local custom and was just bad at hiding the fact that he was really uncomfortable.

    5. Observer*

      I think that bringing it up when a meeting with people from that office, or a new office you haven’t met before would be a good move. Be clear – the issue wasn’t that he wouldn’t shake your hand, but that he ignored you altogether to start with. That’s ridiculous. And his behavior once your boss kind of pushed it was also kind of ridiculous. If this is really an issue for you, you just SAY something, no? That’s what I would have been tempted to say to him. Or rather what I would have been tempted when replaying the scene in my mind, because I think that in the moment I would be too stunned to react.

  69. Someone else*

    This might seem like a weird question, but could someone explain networking to me? I understand it at a very high level, but basically just what I’ve inferred from context or reading things here, but I don’t really “get” it. Pretend I’m a space alien completely unfamiliar with Earth norms and give me that version of “what is networking and how/why does one do it?”

    1. Sue No-Name*

      Honestly I would love this as well! The expectations seem kind of catch-22-ish:

      -stay in touch with networking contacts whether you currently want something from them or not (so as not to look greedy/clueless when you do want something)
      -BUT don’t be so frequent in your reaching out as to be annoying

      -come to networking events well-informed about the areas of your contacts’ expertise and with the ability to ask intelligent questions
      -BUT don’t take up their time by emailing questions in advance or later

      -create a wide network of people at a variety of levels
      -BUT don’t try to build relationships randomly
      -AND don’t try to build relationships at a company where you know they’re hiring for a specific position that you’d like to be considered for

    2. Zathras*

      Despite what a lot of bad job search advice implies, it’s not about aggressively pursuing connections with everyone who crosses your path. It’s about creating space in your life for genuine connections to happen and recognizing and cultivating them when they do. You make a small occasional effort to keep in touch with the people you connected with – and it might be because their work is really fascinating, or their career followed a path you’d like yours to take someday, or just because you met them in a professional context and liked them.

      It’s the sort of thing some people do naturally without thinking much about it, but the rest of us have to learn to do it. It doesn’t have to be fake just because it is learned – it’s not about faking interest in people who bore you, it’s about creating a habit of taking opportunities to keep those connections open. So maybe you work with llamas for a living but you come across some interesting research in hippo training and ask that really nice hippo trainer you sat next to at the Large Animal Training conference about it. Next week she sends you a cool article about a new branch of llama psychology. It’s kind of like how you read a funny meme about Star Wars and send it to your friend the Star Wars nerd, even if Star Wars isn’t really your thing.

      As with personal friends, you can’t only pay attention when you need something. If you only call up a friend when you need emotional support, but never meet up with them just to hang out, the friendship won’t last. In the same way you can’t only do networking when you need a job.

      Disclaimer: I’m not particularly good at this (and I’m correspondingly bad at keeping in touch with friends I don’t see regularly). But, I’m trying to get better at it.

  70. FormerBurnOut*

    Hey all!

    So, question on phrasing while looking for a job. My new job has, unfortunately, changed health benefits to the point where if I’m unlucky I’ll have to pay a month’s salary in deductibles before insurance will kick in. So, looking for new work. I’m trying to figure out how to phrase why I’m leaving the current position so quickly while not sounding super-sick in interviews. Right now I’ve got this: “When I was offered the position one of the selling points was the comprehensive benefits package. Unfortunately, since then, the company has decided to scale back on multiple benefits significantly, so I’m exploring my other options.”

    Sound ok?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I think you’re over-explaining a bit. How about something like: unfortunately the package changed and was no longer competitive.

      I’m sorry you’re going through this.

      1. FormerBurnOut*

        Thanks! I’ll keep it short.

        It is what it is–fortunately I’m still mobile so it’s not a crisis.

    2. Big City Woman*

      How long have you been at your new job?

      I think that, in keeping with the idea that we always want to get across what we can do for an employer rather than what they can do for us, I wouldn’t stress that it’s their benefit package that is disappointing for you. I would keep it simple by saying something like the position is now different than what they offered and you want to find something more in line with what you were hoping for.

      1. Zathras*

        I agree with being vague but the interviewer may ask follow up questions, so you don’t want to imply the job duties changed if they didn’t. You can say something like “Shortly after I started, they drastically scaled back my compensation package” which doesn’t specify whether it was your pay, your health benefits, your bonus structure, your 401K, or some combination. No reasonable interviewer should hold that against you – anyone who expects you to pretend you don’t work for money,

        1. Zathras*

          Oops, posted before finishing the last sentence – anyone who expects you to pretend you don’t work for money, you probably don’t want to work for.

      2. FormerBurnOut*

        I’ve been at the new place less than six months. I figured since it was such a short time it would probably come up in the interview and I wanted to be prepared.

  71. Detective Green's Rolex*

    I work in higher ed, specifically within a department that handles a high volume of phone calls, emails and applications (i.e 10’s of 1000’s)

    We are becoming more customer focused thinking of trying to improve customer service. What would this look like to you? We deal with people worldwide and sometimes culturally people expect the unrealistic (like getting in despite poor grades) or demand to be offered a place or for you to respond to an email right now (having only just received it).

    1. ArtK*

      Did you leave off the proposal?

      In any case, unreasonable expectations are unreasonable — there’s nothing that you can do to prevent people from having them. You can lay out time-lines and entry requirements all you want but they are special and deserve special treatment. The best thing to do is to make sure that things are well document everywhere. “If you e-mail us we will respond within 24 hours.” “You must have three courses in llama husbandry to apply for a Master’s in llama farm management.” Be clear in your responses to unreasonable requests, but be unwavering. “I’m sorry, but you cannot apply to the teapot painting major with a GPA of 1.5 in art.”

      Ignore the impatient ones. Just because someone is upset, it doesn’t mean that you have done anything wrong. As above, make sure that you have a clear internal policy (so that the whiner can’t get you in trouble with management) and stick to it.

    2. Anna Held*

      Once upon a time, I was one of those customer service people!

      Have a reasonable turnaround time, and be up front about how long things will take. Practice with your people scripts or give them language for stock responses. Let them know when to escalate to a manager, or if not, how to end a call. Then have their back.

      We got — over and over, from all nationalities — “It’s been MONTHS and I haven’t heard a thing!” We had the application date of three weeks in the computer, would remind them of that, then hear, “Oh, yeah, I guess that’s right.” It would seem like months, not be months. It takes time, and as long as you’re transparent about that at all stages, it’ll be fine. Just put it in big font on the application, the website, the vm message, and anywhere else you can find!

      As for foreign students, they might have different expectations, but I didn’t find dealing with them any different from anyone else. If you can, have an expert on hand who knows the ins and outs of the different schools and systems, so if you need something very special from a particular school, that’s communicated. They’ll need to get used to our norms soon enough if they come!

      Polite but firm, and knowledgeable. That’s all you can do.

    3. Daria Grace*

      One of the stressful things about dealing with higher ed applications is it often feels like you’re throwing your application into a black hole. If you’re not already, send confirmation emails with clear next steps and timeframes whenever people submit parts of their application.

      It might be worthwhile creating some resources for common problems. For example, one of people with poor grades might detail foundation programs or alternative ways they could qualify for entry in future years. This may help people feel a little more in control and less likely to lash out at your staff

  72. Blah*

    Taking a break from the Black Friday chaos right now to marvel at what just went down. My store has regular store employees, and then three departments contracted out to external companies. Contractors have seperate schedules from store employees. The contractors who work with my department have a notoriously terrible manager.

    We were open on Thanksgiving, and these contractors were scheduled to work till Midnight then scheduled to come in for the Black Friday shift at 6AM. This is actually illegal in our city. You must have 8 hours between shifts unless you work a split. The contractors tried to talk to their manager, who basically told them to shut it and do as they’re told because you don’t get to complain about Black Friday or holiday schedules. Then she preceded to take yesterday and today off.

    Our store HR rep is on the phones right now trying to figure out who to speak to to get this woman fired.

    1. caledonia*

      If they fire her then at least this tale has a happy ending.

      How horrible for those poor contractors.

      1. Elaine*

        Exactly – it seems that contractors are usually tenuously employed based on the whims of their clients and any complaining can result in instant termination. :-/

    2. animaniactoo*

      I sincerely hope your store HR rep knows how to handle this to talk UP the contractors and how hard they work and that you guys the store are having an issue with how they are being managed by this particular person, not the workers themselves.

      But if it works, I imagine that other than the overtime, that would be the best “bonus” they could get from this week/weekend…

  73. Kristen*

    To Graphic Design People (I think there are at least a few of you here):

    I’m asking this for my 20-year-old sister who is looking to begin an associates program in graphic design/web design next fall. After doing a little research on the subject, it seems that an associates degree may not be enough and a bachelors is highly recommended. My sister isn’t very interested in going to school for a bachelors, but will she be left with no job prospects if she only receives an associates degree? Also, in general, is graphic design a decent field to get into? I worry it may be oversaturated with few people being successful. Graphic design is the first thing my sister has been excited about and hasn’t been interested in much else that seems realistic.

    Signed, a worried older sister, who just wants her sister to have an awesome career in something

    1. animaniactoo*

      Highly recommended but not strictly necessasry. To be perfectly honest, Graphic Design is still one of the few spaces that you can apprentice your way into if you pick up enough to be useful first/learn quickly enough on the job. She should be aware that she’s going to end up doing a lot of scut work to start off with and it’s going to be awhile before she gets the awesome creative jobs – and she may always be at execution vs awesome creative level. But that scut work will help her hone her skills so that she can really effectively work when she’s in charge of more of the creative side. Or it will make her really effective at the execution side and there is no substitute for somebody who can be efficient at execution. There is a solid living for her on that side of the line if she’s up for it.

    2. Daria Grace*

      It’s possible some companies will care, but from what I know of my friends experience in related fields the lack of a degree is not a deal breaker. Employers often tend to most care about what you can do and don’t so much care about how you learned to do it.

      My brother works in a tech field and cautions people to think very carefully before engaging in a full length degree because technology moves so fast that what you learn in first year is often superseded by the time you graduate.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      I’ve worked in graphic design for 20+ years and have my M.A. in communications and routinely hire/work with designers of all types.

      Graphic/Web Design is still one of the few fields you can get into with a specialized Associates degree. What counts the most is your skills/experience and having a portfolio to back that up. Entry-level, she should be able to get a job with the Associates degree and begin working in the field.

      However, that being said, NOT having a Bachelor’s degree could eventually hold her back from career advancement into management OR from being offered better jobs at government and/or other top companies that care about degrees in order to be considered. Some designers eventually care about those things (I did!) but there are plenty I know who don’t, and are content to keep designing or eventually start their own company. But certainly, she need not decide this now if the A.A. offers her a path to get working more quickly. And even if she should want to advance later, I would suggest a degree in marketing or communications and not art. I love art, but a business-focused degree is what counts with most companies, especially the marketing degree (which is why you are designing).

      Is graphic design a decent field to get into? Yes and no. LOL!
      I love it and I think creativity and problem solving are still much needed. But to be honest, there are a lot of managers who don’t value it much and/or believe “anyone” can do it (visit for some fun). Not true! But that is the perception unfortunately. It is also true that technology has made it easier and easier for anyone to call themselves a designer, so the respect level is not what it used to be for these roles, and that can be frustrating. Designers are usually managed by non-creative marketing types within companies (unless you work at an agency) and that if why I say it’s good to have an understanding of marketing principals in addition to the creative skills. The Internet and Mobile have sparked great demand for design, so the job outlook should be pretty good overall in coming years. It is competitive, but there is also quite a lot of work, especially in large metro areas.
      Salaries vary of course, I’d say about $20k for very entry-level and on up to about $50k for seasoned professionals. Some do make more, but then you’d be looking at more advanced degrees or unique skills or fame (it’s possible) or moving into a management role. Also, as with everything “gig-economy” a LOT of these roles have become contract and that might require investment in computer&software. Overall in my career, I’ve found design skills are good to have. It’s given me an edge and seen as a “bonus” that I can design. Many times it’s a fallback during periods of unemployment when I freelance or want to earn extra income.

      Basically, your little sister should be able to take care of herself with this career! But she should also go into it knowing it’s not all fun artsy-stuff, and it still takes something of a business sensibility to really make a go of it.

  74. Bingo*

    I have been a people leader before, but became a first-time department manager about 4 months ago. My former peer has now become my subordinate (we were both Supervisors prior to that). We had a positive relationship when we were peers, but she did not take the news of my promotion well, and the subsequent adjustment period has been rocky. For example, she has flat out refused to provide me with updates on her work, declined to meet with me for one-on-ones, etc. I was lenient with her, probably too lenient, because I wanted to respect that she was dealing with change which is difficult for anybody, let alone change that she was quite upset with. But I’m now in a position of needing to take a firmer stance with her. Her attitude has improved in general, but there are performance and behavioural concerns, and they’re substantial enough that our Director and VP are taking notice. In addition, this employee does not and never has taken feedback well. Notes on this can be found in her performance reviews dating since her hire several years ago. Additionally, I am 15 years younger than her, and some of the feedback I need to provide (such as “visibly pouting mid-meeting in front of the entire team, including your subordinates, because somebody respectfully disagreed with you, is not acceptable”) is awkward territory to venture. Worst of all, her previous manager did not manage, which the former manager freely admits. So this employee will be going from zero management and coaching, to now reporting into a former peer, where said former peer was initially lenient but will be transitioning to a more assertive management style.

    Help! How do I make this transition effectively? Has anybody else found themselves in a similar position?

    1. Horizons*

      I went from peer to manager. It’s rough even if you don’t have a challenging report, as you described. I would look for ways to frame your discussions as ways to help her succeed, and how she can contribute to the team. You need to build a manager-y relationship with her, not just come down with a list of things she’s doing wrong. I would first normalize one-on-one meetings. AMA’s scripts like, “Going forward, I need to meet with you and get updates from you regularly. What do you need to commit to that?” can be helpful. Maybe there’s something going on you need to know about. Set up Meetings so they are conversations, not just feedback from you. Ask her how she prefers to receive feedback; I have one person who likes it in writing ahead of time so she can process it before we meet.

      So basically, I would work on creating a positive working relationship. That will make addressing behavioral issues easier and more effective.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      Well, if she’s had issues taking feedback for YEARS, that’s not a good sign!

      The first time she bristles at constructive criticism from you, I’d add on to that conversation that you need her to be able to accept feedback in a constructive, non-defensive way. It’s okay for her to disagree with you, but she’s allowed to make her point ONCE and, if overruled, needs to go back to doing her job as you’ve asked her to do it — cordially and, if not with a smile on her face, certainly not with a pout.

  75. KatieKate*

    Hope people are still here!

    Someone from an organization reached out to me a few years ago about a job. We spoke, and I wasn’t ready to leave, so we left it alone. Now the position is available again, and I want it. I want to reach out to the person I originally spoke to as a “hey, remember me?” but I’m not sure how to phrase it. I know their resumes go to an outside recruiting firm, so I want to be able to bypass that step if possible. Thanks!

    1. Bingo*

      I would recommend reaching out to that person through the same medium you connected initially (LinkedIn if LinedIn, email if by email, etc.). Let them know that you see the job you spoke about previously is open again, that your circumstances have changed and you’re interested in the opportunity, and that you would like to speak with them to discuss further. If it has been some time, remind them who you are and when you last spoke to avoid the potentially awkward situation of them not recalling who you are. Hopefully they’ll meet with you and/or accept your application, but they may insist you apply through the 3rd party anyway depending on what kind of search agreement they have established.

    2. CML*

      Yes, reach out to your connection but no, don’t expect to bypass a step. I understand wanting to connect with the person that previously reached out to you and I think you can still do it and let them know exactly as you stated here – you weren’t ready to leave but the position is reopened and you’re now at a point at which it’s a great opportunity. However, wanting to bypass their recruiting firm is not a good approach. The company has a recruiting process for a reason and when people try to get exceptions made for them, it can make paint the applicant in a poor light. It’s one thing if your connection is able to help flag your resume so it would stay at the top of the pool, it’s another to expect to bypass their process. In my past experience, applicants expecting exceptions send red flags, even if you’re well-intentioned. Maybe it’s the norm for the industry or this particular organization to have exceptions made, in which case, reach out to your connection and try to bypass the recruiting firm.

  76. Big City Woman*

    I’d like some feedback from those of you who either have a resume that has a lot of varied experience in unrelated fields, or are a hiring manger who has encountered resumes like this.

    I’ve always had a lot of interests and my background has skipped around a lot in terms of industries/job types. I now want to do something different again but, although I know my skills are transferable and I’m smart enough to learn and excel in this industry, I am wondering how to tie it to the positions I’ve held before, and whether or not this particular industry would be amenable to someone with experience that isn’t very related.

    Background: from admin/exec assistant to video production to media archiving to market research to retail management. On my resume, I’ve tried to highlight the administrative and customer service skills/accomplishments in each position. Goal now is to find a manager position (front desk or departmental) in a hotel in my city to gain experience eventually travel around the US to pick up seasonal contract work in resort areas.

    What do you all think? Any ideas on how best to strategize my job search?

    1. Jennie*

      If you want to work in a hotel, you might want to try Banquets. It’s hard work with ridiculous hours, but if you want to take 2-3 months off at a time, you can. The pay is really good, especially in urban areas.

      1. Big City Woman*

        You mean banquet manager? I’m 56 and would like to think my waitress days are behind me.

        I’m not looking for seasonal or short-term work just yet, and I prefer a supervisory role.. I want to have at least a year of hospitality experience to gain knowledge and save up enough to buy a car. Hopefully then it will look better when I apply for jobs in other places that are seasonal

    2. Grief Bacon*

      So I used to work in staffing for a resort/recreation-adjacent hospitality company that primary offered seasonal positions — which is sounds like is the type of thing you’re looking to move towards. (And I myself have a widely varied work/industry history, so totally get where you’re coming from!)

      How soon are you hoping to transition to seasonal work? If it’s relatively soon, I would recommend just applying everywhere that interests you (depending, obviously, on what type of season you’re hoping to focus on). You may not be able to start as a seasonal manager, but it’s pretty easy to work your way up the ladder once you’re in the job. I have a friend who went from entry-level front desk clerk (with some customer service and hospitality experience, but no front desk or management experience) to front desk manager in less than 2 years. But, a lot of times, management jobs are really just lucky timing — seasonal companies will generally re-hire their management back from season to season, so even if the jobs are technically posted, they’re only really open if the previous manager decides not to come back. I always recommend that people who want to do seasonal work try to stick with the same 2 or 3 companies/locations a year — ideally one company where you can transfer throughout the country depending on the seasons — because it looks less job-hoppy once you decide to leave seasonal work and you’re better able to build the connections needed to advance.

      1. Big City Woman*

        Oh, this is good info – thank you! My thought was to gain experience here (NYC) for at least a year. Living in NYC, I don’t have a car, so I need some time to save up for a vehicle too. Then, hopefully, I’s apply for seasonal resort work and take off! I am thinking summer in one place, winter in another, travel in between – and yes, hopefully find places where I fit in and it all clicks for me to want to go back each year, at least for one of those seasons.

      2. Big City Woman*

        Oh, and also – do you think I’m on the right track by emphasizing my administrative and customer service skills/experience on my resume, or is there some other direction I should take?

  77. college anon*

    I’m currently typing up a class eval for a health class that – among other problems- asked us our BMI and then whether it was “normal, above normal or below normal.” Disability keeps me firmly in the “below normal” camp, and despite doctors telling me my weight really isn’t a big deal body shaming still happens and thus a few minor-ish body insecurities. Answering that I’m “below normal” really does nothing to help with that – I can’t imagine if I’d been through more serious bullying or if I were in recovery for an eating disorder.

    I really strongly didn’t want to disclose as much information about my body as I did (how much I weigh, what I eat, how much I exercise, and — in order to justify myself and explain why my weight/exercise behaviors don’t meet the norm of what’s considered healthy — my disability), but I felt like I had no choice since it was part of a graded assignment. I doubt I’m not the first student who’s felt this way. So I’m telling them that. Still slightly afraid that the professor will be able to tell it’s me, but oh well.

    1. Big City Woman*

      Input dummy numbers. You don’t have to use your own, do you? I would think it’s the concept/calculation they want to be sure you understand.

    2. Daria Grace*

      Just make something up. Please do speak up on why this is a problem, ether now or on your end of semester evaluations. There is so many people for whom this exercise is very unwise

    3. No Name Yet*

      YIKES, that’s terrible. I would absolutely put something in the evaluation. However, also be aware that in some schools, the department will only see the #s and not the free response answer. So depending on how you feel about this all, you may want to consider also telling someone else in the department.

  78. Kerr*

    TL;DR: Is it my workplace, or does this apply to all design/communications jobs?

    Trying to figure out if this is a workplace issue that extends to most jobs in this field (or any field), or it’s just me. I think it’s a bit of both, but I’m trying to get a handle on whether work IS playing a major role in this.

    I feel like I’m burning out, but I actually like my work? I know I have anxiety issues that have been exacerbated in the past year, and I’m having trouble getting to bed and getting to work on time. I’m running a sleep deficit on the regular. I’m trying to take steps to address those underlying issues, but on a daily basis, I really just…don’t want to go to work? Even though I’m fine with most aspects of the work itself.

    My workplace seems to move from one time-crunched crisis to another, especially during busy periods. My primary job is the last step in our communications process, which means that if the steps ahead of me are finished late – and 90% of the time they are – it’s MY project time that gets crunched, because we have a hard deadline for the client. (I’d love to knock out a great project and fine-tune details, but if you need something NOW NOW NOW, yeah, there are going to be some rough edges.)

    For context, I’m hourly and don’t work a lot of OT, but many of my coworkers in other roles are salaried and seem to work extended hours and be constantly scrambling. Management isn’t great about keeping workloads or client expectations manageable. (They have good intentions but fall down in the implementation.) I’d be wary of getting a salaried role here, let’s put it that way. But I feel like a wimp for having trouble with my standard 40.

    This constant-crisis thing has been a sticking point for a couple of years now. (Along with some other issues, mostly minor.) But is this standard, for the most part?

    1. animaniactoo*

      Yes and no. There are several companies that operate like this. I used to work for one, and I had serious issues saying “no” because ultimately I knew it was the client who would suffer. Therefore, I ultimately took the only road I could. I said one big “No” and went job hunting.

    2. Daria Grace*

      I don’t know if I would go as far as to stay it’s standard but lurching from one urgent deadline to another seems quite common.

      This may not work depending on exactly what it is you do, but if the people before you are running late, would getting draft/partially completed versions on their work ahead of time so at least you have a better idea what’s involved and can start sketching out your part help? Has someone spoken to them about the impact of running late? They may genuinely not realise they are causing major problems for others?

      Don’t feel like a wimp for struggling with the standard 40. One of the downsides is it takes away the key problem solving tool of being able to allocate more time to something which does add to the difficulty.

      1. Kerr*

        Unfortunately, it’s the clients who hold things up the most, not my colleagues. (There are workload issues, but no one is slacking.) If the client won’t decide whether they want dark or milk chocolate teapots, I can make the teapot mold, but can’t pour the chocolate. But the client still needs the teapots in time for Christmas gifts, and management expects this. Not literally, but you get the idea.

        Client eccentricities are A Thing everywhere, and I’m new to this position, so I’m wondering how much of this is management handling vs. the standard when dealing with clients.

        1. Theodoric of York*

          I have some limited experience in this area. I used to be the liaison between clients and our internal software department. Clients wanted new capabilities and, of course, they wanted them right away. I found that getting good lead time estimates from the SW group, telling the customer, and not bowing to pressure, eventually caused the customers to adjust.
          If you can talk to the customer directly, you can manage their expectations and establish yourself as a trusted supplier. They will (hopefully) adjust so that product arrives on time.

  79. AnonymousCrank*

    I’ve been job-hunting for a little while in order to get out of a career rut, and I have a question regarding how much info I should disclose when asked about my education history:

    I completed about 1.5 years of a two-year college program, but ended up quitting before getting my diploma due to a major mental-health crisis.

    This program is totally unrelated to my current line of work, so in most cases i’ve just been leaving it off my resume altogether, but I recently applied for a position where these two very different fields intersect (think of going to school to become a teapot designer, then applying for a job as a buyer for a teapot parts supplier).

    So my question is: if asked about why I didn’t finish my diploma, how would I respond to an interviewer if the reason i quit school was related to mental illness? Or is it unlikely they would even ask about it?

    1. Daria Grace*

      I wouldn’t say it was mental illness as unfortunately there’s stigma around that. You could say something like “I needed to take a break due to some health issues that are now resolved”.

      Alternatively, can you take night or online classes for the last few credits so you can say it’s in progress?

    2. Grief Bacon*

      I have 75% of a second B.A. completed, and I always put it on my resume. I’ve never once been asked why it says “in progress.” I occasionally get asked about the course of study, because it’s not once you see everyday, but no one’s ever asked about it being incomplete. In fact, I bring it up frequently, as it relates to the type of work I do now much more so than my original degree, but no one’s ever asked why it’s unfinished.

      So, unless a degree is a requirement for the job, I’d wager that you won’t be asked about it. But if you are, “health issues prevented me from completing it” is a perfectly acceptable response.

      1. AnonymousCrank*

        Yeah I’m thinking if it comes up, i’ll just say “health issues”…i’m not planning on going back to finish the course and get my diploma, as it’s been over a decade since I was at school and in that industry.

    3. HannahS*

      I’m with everyone else, I think you can just say, “I had a health crisis and couldn’t complete the program” or if you want to be even more vague, “There was a major health crisis in my family, and I couldn’t complete the program” (you are, after all, a part of your own family).

  80. I'm A Little TeaPot*

    I passed the background check, my start date is 12/18. I’ll be giving 2 weeks notice on Monday! And I’ll have a week between jobs. So happy about this – mgr’s attitude is really dragging me down. Really need to get out of there.

    1. Wrench Turner*

      Stay polite, professional, and show up every day as if it was your first. Because you know there’s squat they can do about you as you go out the door. Kill them with kindness, and if they don’t like it, what’s the worst they can do?

      1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

        Oh I will. Best thing is, my leaving is really going to hurt them. They will have a very hard time replacing me in the short term. It would have been soooo much easier for the rest of the management team to step in and address some of the issues with 1 manager than it’ll be for them to replace my knowledge.

  81. Overeducated*

    Still waiting on the firm offer (me) and interview results (spouse) for the jobs in different cities. It’s been over a month since my verbal offer and 3 weeks since his interview. This is a little torturous, especially as I would need to start by Jan. 2 to be eligible for certain benefits after 1 year instead of 2.

    Relatives at Thanksgiving seem much more excited about his prospects than mine, not sure whether it’s a sexism thing or a his career being more linear and prestigious thing or just that I play down my own stuff too much. They are sending him job listings in tiny towns hours away from cities where I could get a job or commute from, too. Jobs + marriage + families: so many combinations of frustration.

  82. Grits McGee*

    So as part of my office’s employee morale group, I’ve found myself in the position of providing feedback to upper management about why turnover is so high. I can think of about dozen factors off the top of my head that most of my coworkers agree with, some of which are inherent to being in government (the only way to get a pay increase is to get a new job), some of which are a direct result of management decisions (if all of your job ads are internal only, of course you’re going to increase turnover), and some of which are the case in workplaces everywhere (almost no one is spending 15 years in their fist college job, it’s not a problem specific to our org).

    There’s also some more pointed feedback- Our org doesn’t pay low level staff enough to live off of in our high COL area; we hire PhDs to essentially do nothing but stare at a wall for 40 hours a week; upper management has been fighting for the past 2 years to narrow the flexibility of our work schedules, cut our time for lunch in half, and restrict how we can use leave; crackdowns on policies and procedures gives staff the impression we can’t be trusted to do our own jobs.

    If you were my managers, how would you want to be presented this kind of feedback? I really want to make sure that they get the full depth and breadth, but not make it sound like a unending list of grievances (and therefore easily ignored).

    In the past, the solution for any discontent has been “Well, just throw a pizza party at them,” or “Make Grits & Co. organize a potluck.” I’d really like to move us beyond food-based morale boosters.

    1. Elaine*

      Maybe keep it to a few most salient points, e.g.: perceived limited room for advancement, limited work life balance, mismatch between employee skill level and workload.

      I know the fed government is supposed to have embraced telework for employee retention and other reasons. I don’t know why orgs fight those findings and statistics. Speaking of, an actual survey might be helpful, if you can pull it off, so you just point at the statistics and let them speak for yourself. Good luck – sounds tough.

  83. Wrench Turner*

    My day job is with a Really Big Corp that prides itself on training its workers. I graduated from its apprenticeship program some months ago after 6 months working with a great Old Boss and several very experienced technicians. Now at a new branch, I’m the least experienced, least trained tech, but I seem to be doing the vast, vast majority of the training for the next Apprentice. I’ve asked New Boss for additional specific, advanced training to help with problems Apprentice and I keep finding but I keep getting blown off. When I ask why *I’m* doing most of the training work I’m told (in mincing words) it’s because I’m the ‘most professional and he likes how I do things.’ There’s gossip that the other techs are slackers or incompetent but I haven’t seen evidence in the field – morale is low and most of the gossip is between/about techs that don’t like each other. I try to stay out of it and just get the work done.

    The situation is annoying as heck but I’m not sure how to address this without getting another pat on the head. Any suggestions? I’m biding my time before actively searching for a new job but my resume is out there and I’m leaving my options open.

    1. Seespotbitejane*

      No suggestions, but from what you’ve written here it seems like your boss is having you do the training because you’re not involved in the backbiting the other techs are doing. They want somebody doing the training who won’t poison the apprentice against half the staff.

      1. Wrench Turner*

        Too late for that, I hear him echo a lot of gossip about the other techs. I just keep repeating that I’ve no reason to distrust or doubt anyone here, so let’s get to it.

  84. Snazzy Hat*

    The good news: My s.o. has gone from strongly considering to actually planning on taking classes for CNC machining, which would be a career change and allegedly in high demand in our area.

    The kinda-good news: It’s gonna cost money, yet we can afford it. He mentioned the cost while on the phone with his parents yesterday, but I don’t know if their response was, “oh, well if you need any assistance…”

    The scary news: The class schedule would cut into his work schedule, and frankly I doubt his workplace would be cool with him starting his shift an hour or two later than everyone else. Which then makes me worry he’ll have to get a different part-time job or just quit altogether. Now the acceptable thing is, we’ve been in crappy economic situations and can live through them. (Hell, I was unemployed without unemployment income for almost all of 2016.) The unacceptable thing is, I can envision my s.o. going through the burnout of being in class for seven hours followed by work for eight hours followed by sleeping for six hours.

    I don’t know if I’m writing this to get it off my chest, or I’m looking for “I’ve been there” or “I love being a CNC machinist”, or I’m seeking advice to give to my s.o. on how to tell his supervisors he’s taking classes and can’t be at work until late o’clock. (At least I learned enough from AAM to know he can’t ask for permission; he has to tell them he’s going to take a class which will cause a schedule conflict and he would like to discuss a way to accommodate that.)

    1. Wrench Turner*

      Been there, and training/transitioning in a career is super scary as heck. I told (didn’t ask) my boss I was going to start taking classes 3 days a week and my work needed to be done by X time so I could get there. I said I would be happy to come in earlier and maybe Saturdays if needed and prep stuff after and, and… the boss didn’t care. I was just a minion and way, way overthinking it.

      As to burnout, yes. It was hard. It was real hard. When I was really struggling I reminded myself it was only temporary and it was toward a bigger, better goal which would serve me real well in the long run. I have a very patient and supportive spouse that made it a little easier just by being there.

      The community college that I was at has good relationship with companies in the area and they actively recruited from the training classes. Going in to the trades – in your case CNC manufacturing – is a smart move. The work is hard, but the jobs are there. Join a union if you can. Good luck. Be brave. Stay focused. YOU CAN DO IT.

  85. Underpaid Bookeeper*

    I have a job interview Tuesday and I’m scared. I haven’t interviewed in 2.5 years and I hate change but I’m tired of being underpaid. But I love my fringe benefits where I currently work like making my own hours and getting off whenever I need to for dr appointments and vacations. I just get so torn on what to do.

    1. MissGirl*

      An interview is not a decision. You are only interviewing to gain more information, which will make the decision easier.

      1. Underpaid Bookkeeper*

        Yeah I think that is the hard part. From what I can find online it’s hard to figure out what the company does and what exactly I’ll be doing, who I’ll be working with, benefits, etc. My husband keeps telling me if I don’t like what they say I can always turn the job down and stay put.

        I get torn at this being a bad time of year to change jobs. I have a friend that is about to have a baby that I need to go out of town to visit sometime between now and January. And I just feel that may look bad to a new employer but I guess we will see what they say.

        1. Theodoric of York*

          Second MissGirl’s comment. An interview is no kind of commitment. You can use it to get your questions answered. Also: a previously scheduled absence should be no problem if you mention it before you get hired. This is a fairly common occurrence. If the new company can’t handle it, it’s likely you wouldn’t want to work there.

          At the very least, you can consider this to be practice; shake the rust off those interviewing skills.

        2. Buu*

          If it’s a decent new place then they’ll ask if you have any holiday booked or you can mention it at point of hire.

  86. NerdyCanuck*

    Gah, I was told on Sunday that an offer letter should be coming my way over email and I still haven’t received it… There’s no way to get them to speed that up, is there?

    1. Elaine*

      Not really. I’ve found that if you ping in a week or so, they might make apologies as to why. But most of mine have happened pretty speedily.

    2. H.C.*

      I would follow up if nothing comes by the end of this coming week; they may have been too crunched for time this past week (esp if the org gets Black Friday off too), and some folks may have taken extra time off too – all of which can stall up the offer process.

  87. Asian j*

    Talking about office pranks, there’s a coworker that’s on the receiving end of it. Someone has been leaving notes that says “I LOVE YOU!!!” And other variations of it on her car. Tried to check cctv but nothing comes up.

    Why would people ever think this is okay?

  88. Meredith*

    I’m looking at jobs in my field that pay significantly more than my job. I used to think those were out of the question… but now I’m realizing the only difference between those jobs and ones like mine is the mindset. People with those jobs don’t have more experience than me. They’re not “better” at their work. I just have to know I deserve that pay rate and not accept any less.

    Anyone else made a similar jump?

    1. Wrench Turner*

      Make the jump but be sure you’ve got facts and figures to reinforce your landing. Make sure your resume and experience actually reflect that you’re qualified to do the thing. Also learn all you can about the job to be sure you really can do it! Make sure there’s not some 7th level wizard meetings you don’t know about, etc.

      Then jump. The only surefire way to not achieve this is to not try.

  89. nacho*

    I live in a city with an exceptionally high cost of living, which means exceptionally high paychecks (that still aren’t high enough in my case). Are there any resources that would help me find standard industry salaries just for my area?


      1. Elaine*

        +1 – though I find that the salary ranges listed are large, and what you are paid will depend a lot on the market in your area (get hired during a federal hiring freeze, like me, get underpaid…)

  90. Elaine*

    Hi Fellow AAM Groupies! I’ve new to my city, having had to move for family reasons, and a fairly experience professional (15+ years in my field). I was unemployed for some time after moving and then got hired as a federal contractor (first time) at an agency whose mission I really am excited about supporting.

    The first few moths were great. Then my (the fed client’s) division director left and a colleague at the same level as me on the org chart –but a fed–was put in place as our team lead, though not supervisory.

    Things were ok for a few weeks until in one team meeting she yelled at me when I was drafting PPT slides, grabbed my laptop, and reassigned the slide creation tasks to a person very junior to me (2-3 years experience). People were horrified. The next day she screamed at another person on the team for including me in work that I was hired to perform.

    Since then she’s frozen me out of all team meetings, etc. and doesn’t assign me work or respond to my emails. I had been keeping my contractor manager apprised, but only using stark terms, e.g. “work place bullying, abusive behavior, etc.” One day later the HR person from my contracting company called and directed me to come in to HQ and basically said, “I hear there are problems and there are always two sides to the story – to be transparent, this may not work out.”

    Help! HR people – what do I say, what do I not say – how do I protect myself if I can at this point? My mgr and VP up to this point had said they’d have my back and bring my treatment, and that of others, up the chain to the very top be addressed. Now the HR person seemed to insinuate this all was my fault.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      If your contracting gig works like contracting gigs at my agency, your best option is to get reassigned by the company to another position with the client. Unfortunately the reality is that you’re the hired help – it doesn’t really matter how right you are versus how wrong she is – she’s the client. Unless her behavior toward you is discriminatory in an EEO sense, there’s not a whole lot the agency can do for you. And your HR department isn’t going to bring both you and her in for a discussion – it’s your company’s HR department. Your best bet might be asking if there’s another position you can get reassigned to.

      You should also keep in mind that there is some work that HAS to be performed by government personnel, not contractors. I inherited a team once where the previous leader blurred those lines a lot and I had to reinstate some pretty clear boundaries. The contractors were unhappy about it, but there are legal issues at play sometimes. So while it’s completely unprofessional for her to yell at you or act immaturely, she may be in the right in reassigning your work to government people.

      1. Elaine*

        Understood all of that. I applied for another position with the client (I work well with every other client person). I do have a hidden disability and have repeatedly requested the telework that everyone else of the group of 60+ are allowed, and the request has been ignored for over 3 months. It’s not the she’s reassigned work that’s inherently governmental – she just excludes me from any and all meetings and doesn’t not look, speak, or interact with me, including emails. The COR on our team says that the work I had been assigned was absolutely not inherently governmental. The person charged with supervising me is not my technical monitor as she is not supervisory and is unable to be. I’ve never had work assigned by my technical monitor, or any meetings.

        However, when the contractor/my employer HR called me, it did not seem good. She stated that there “are always two sides” etc. etc. There have been no complaints, and frequent praise, regarding my performance. So I guess I feel like a reported harassment and potential discrimination to my manager and now I’m about to be fired. :-/

  91. Ann O.*

    Late night job happiness if anyone’s still reading: I am leaving my job with my manager who I suspect is not actually good at managing. She seemed very surprised despite us having had multiple jobs about my unhappiness.

    I am trying very hard to work with one of my co-workers to leave everyone set up for a successful transition, and my manager is making this very difficult. Because she doesn’t seem to understand my role or skills. Still. After over a year of managing me (during which I did detailed weekly reports, had detailed one-on-ones, and constantly raised issues/concerns).

    I know it’s silly to let this get to me since I’m leaving and this is all just a reminder of why I’m leaving, but it means I spent most of this past week dealing with my manager instead of doing the actual very important work I need to be doing.

    I also set up a meeting with my manager’s manager to debrief. One of my weaknesses is tactful, effective presentation of information, so I’m trying to think of how best I can convey the challenges introduced by my manager’s bad management without coming across like I’m just trashing my manager.

    1. Theodoric of York*

      Maybe send a written report to your manager’s manager (MM). That way, you can choose your words carefully, and the MM can come back to you with specific questions.

      Also, if the transition is being made difficult, that’s on your manager. You make a good faith effort, and once you’re gone, it’s all on her.

      I’ve found, as I go from job to job, that it takes about 2 weeks at a new job for the most urgent tasks at the old job to fade from my mind.

      Caveat: I have never managed anyone.

    2. Zathras*

      I’m still reading! You can soften this kind of complaint by pointing out things your manager did well or even just where she had good intentions, before adding the complaint. Examples: “Jane was always approachable, but it as frustrating that she rarely followed through after I raised a problem with her and she agreed to take action.” “Jane’s years of experience in X meant she sometimes gave great advice when we ran into a technical problem, but she was often too quick to dismiss the suggestions of less experienced team members without considering the technical merit of their ideas.” “Jane works hard to juggle a lot of competing priorities but she isn’t great about rescheduling internal meetings if she can’t make it, even when the meeting can’t proceed without her.” Give specific examples in each case.

      That said – only do this if you really trust your manager’s manager to handle this with discretion and tact! You absolutely do not owe your current job honest feedback if you even remotely suspect they will punish you for it with an undeserved bad reference.

      I left a manager earlier this year who is the model for my example sentences – ultimately a nice person but a really terrible manager. I declined an exit interview because I knew the higher ups didn’t want to hear it.

      1. Ann O.*


        I will not be the first to raise issues with my manager, so I think the higher ups will be interested. I do not believe I will be punished, and I have an alternative references who, frankly, will be better references for this job as they actually understand what I do/why my role exists.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      I think as long as you hand over your work projects, you’ve done right by them. You may not be able to get the manager issues across and that’s okay – but you could perhaps ask for an exit interview?

  92. Seespotbitejane*

    I’m in the midst of a job hunt and a friend/former supervisor got me an interview with a company that shares office space with the company where his sister works. It’s a tenuous connection. I had one interview that went well and they told me they wanted to bring me back for a second interview but that they were hitting a busy time and that they weren’t sure when they’d schedule the next round. I sent a thank you email a few days later and got a reply that was mostly an apology that things at the office were still super busy. I figured I’d move on with my job hunt and if they call me, they call me. But my friend followed up with me the next week and asked if I’d contacted the my interviewer again. I said I didn’t want to be a pest but he urged me to email her again. He’s