open thread – December 1-2, 2017

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

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

{ 1,373 comments… read them below }

  1. Lady Dedlock*

    Thank goodness for open thread! I got called in for an interview and could use some advice on how to proceed.

    About a week ago, I had a call with a recruiter that went well, but we seemed to have a mismatch on salary. He asked me what my target range was, I told him, and he said what’s budgeted for the position is 10-15K less than the bottom of my range. Since the salary he named was what I’m making in my current job, and I’d like an increase, I told him to keep me in mind for any future positions that seem like a match. He said he could also check to see if there’s any flexibility on the range for the position I applied for, and I said sure, okay.

    Fast-forward to yesterday, and I get an email saying they’d love to meet with me in person for the position I applied for. Nothing was mentioned about salary.

    Should I assume that since they’re calling me in, that they concluded they could increase the salary for the position? Should I ask the recruiter about it before I agree to come in, or would that make me seem too mercenary? I’m trying to keep my job search quiet, so I don’t want to take time off work to interview for a job that’s below my required range.

    1. Murphy*

      I would check in with the recruiter, if you can. It’s not worth it to waste anyone’s time if you know you wouldn’t accept what they’re offering.

    2. Barbara in Swampeast*

      Ask. You are not mercenary if you will not accept a lower salary. You will be saving them time and effort if you won’t go lower.

    3. BRR*

      I would not assume they could increase the salary. I would either reach out to the recruiter or if it was the hiring manager possibly research out and say that when you were speaking with the recruiter your salary ranges didn’t match up and you wanted to check before committing to an interview.

      1. CAT*

        I agree with the advice to ask the recruiter! You were clear about your expectations and needs for the role and, since they didn’t follow up with you (which could be an oversight or a sign they didn’t really listen to your original needs), there’s nothing wrong with asking.

    4. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Definitely find out beforehand. Admittedly I have had some horrible experiences with headhunters which makes me highly untrusting towards them. Having said that, get all the relevant info before committing to the interview.

    5. Mona Lisa*

      I’d send an e-mail back to the recruiter reminding her of your earlier discussion and asking if their decision to move forward means that a compromise salary has been reached. You can frame it as not wanting to waste their time if you can’t accept the salary they offered earlier so it seems less like you’re only looking out for your own interests. (Not that your interests aren’t important, but if you want to sound less mercenary, you’ll at least be phrasing it as a benefit to them instead of yourself.)

    6. Artemesia*

      I’d touch base with the recruiter. Most places can go higher if they want to hire someone — not everywhere but most places. But I would not interview if the salary range is firm.

      1. No Parking or Waiting*

        Please do! I love updates! And I’m really curious if recruiter did speak to them about salary and they assumed you knew, or if recruiter dropped the ball.

    7. EMM*

      This is eerie, because I came here to ask an almost identical question, down to the exact salary mismatch. I have a slightly different follow up question–I agreed to the interview partly because of the suggestion of flexibility with salary, and partly because I could really use the interview experience. Obviously there is the possibility that they won’t want to proceed with me, but if it goes well and it turns out that the salary is set, how do I gracefully withdraw myself from consideration? Do I need to explain that it is because of salary?

      1. S-Mart*

        You don’t have to give them any reason. A vague ‘I’ve decided this position isn’t in my interests at this time, but thank you for the consideration’ is perfectly sufficient.

        Personally I’d explain that it was the salary (if that was truly the only significant reason), but it’s in no way obligatory.

    8. Red lines with wine*

      I would ask! Just be nice about it and, if he can’t tell you, decline the interview. That’s what I would do. :)

    9. PB*

      I wouldn’t assume that. The recruiter could have easily forgotten your conversation, might not have passed on the information, or they might think they can talk you into taking the job, regardless. I would ask the recruiter. Asking about salary is not mercenary; it’s essential information. If they can’t budge on salary, they’d be wasting your time and their own.

    10. Lily in NYC*

      You don’t have to follow the same “etiquette” rules re asking about salaries when dealing with a recruiter. I would say something like: just to clarify, were you able to find out if there’s any flexibility regarding the salary?

    11. Lady Dedlock*

      Update: I spoke with the recruiter, and he said he presented me with the salary I requested, and they still wanted to bring me in. Keep your fingers crossed for me, AAM friends!

      1. Fact & Fiction*

        Hooray! Best of luck! I recently moved to a new, awesome job (sans recruiter) and they didn’t blink at my range, ultimately offering me a little bit above the top number I gave them. That’s a great sign they still want to bring you in, even knowing your range. Fingers crossed for you!

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        Fingers crossed it all works out! When I encountered a low base salary with the job I’m starting Monday, I told the recruiter it was $3k less than what I currently make. I asked for $4k over what I currently make, and the HR contact called me the day after the phone screen saying the hiring manager went up $5k thereby giving me $2k more than I made in my now ex job. I liked that she got me a definite number right off the bat – I would not have gone to the in-person interview without a firm number. I’d reach out to the recruiter before scheduling and ask to clarify what their new range is just so you can have peace of mind that they won’t get you there and then try to talk you down to their original range.

    12. Lady Dedlock*

      Update #2: The hiring manager got in touch and told me the salary is firm, as originally stated. I’m not sure if I should withdraw (because obviously I’d like to make more money) or meet with them (because I wouldn’t be making less money, or not much less, and maybe I’d like the job better).

      1. Fact & Fiction*

        Meh. They should have stated that up front since the recruiter told them your requirement. Do you have all the benefit info to compare whether it might be advantageous in other regards?

        1. Lady Dedlock*

          As far as benefits go, there are some pros and cons:

          – Health insurance would likely cost at least somewhat more. I have better out-of-network coverage at my current employer, which is important because I’m seeing a therapist, and very few therapists take insurance.
          – It’s in a better part of the city, and my commute would be 10-15 minutes shorter.
          – I’d receive 7 more vacation days than I’m getting now.
          – Tuition reimbursement policies are generous.

          1. Mrs. D*

            It sounds like the health insurance could be a big factor. You may want to do some quick calculations to figure out how much more you would have to pay out of pocket.

            A shorter commute is always nice and helps to reduce the overall stress from commuting (I know this from personal experience).

            More vacation is also nice. Is this compensated by reducing your sick time?

            Tuition reimbursement is a nice perk! But…is this something you would likely use? You don’t mention what your academic plans are (if you have any). Unless you’re in a degree program or plan to enroll in one, this may be something that you wouldn’t use, and this benefit wouldn’t really increase the value of you taking the position.

          2. Fortitude Jones*

            If you’d be making the same amount of money, but your health insurance would cost more, you’d actually end up making less in the long run. The extra vacation days and tuition reimbursement are nice if you can/will actually use them; however, if you need to stay at your same income level to meet the basic standard of living you’ve become accustomed to, I’d pass on this job.

      2. Em*

        Why would you take this job? Is your current environment toxic? Were you looking to make a move before? Does the new org offer advancement old org doesn’t?

        Is your current salary over inflated for market? What is market for the salary they are offering (vs your current salary)? Will you walk in on day 1 feeling underpaid for the role?

        I haven’t really seen anything explaining why you are so interested in a move. You could certainly interview for practice/to learn more about this org., but don’t start inventing reasons a paycut is OK if you didn’t have them before.

        1. Lady Dedlock*

          Part of it is that I’ve been working for the same organization for quite a while (coming up on 8 years), and there’s nowhere to move up. My boss is very passive in terms of offering opportunities for growth and professional development; I get next to no feedback. The organization is also currently going through a strategic planning phase, so there’s a sense of uncertainty about the future. Morale has been low and turnover relatively high lately.

          Part of it is that I work in higher ed, and went into higher ed specifically with the notion of getting a discounted master’s degree. I live in a competitive city where a master’s, apart from imparting knowledge and skills, seems to hold significant signaling value for employers. What I didn’t realize when I took my current job is that the only programs available to me would be at the university’s teacher’s college; I don’t want to go into education or a related field. The new job would be at another higher ed institution with a much broader range of programs available to professional staff. I looked up the hiring manager and her manager on LinkedIn, and both have received degrees from this institution while working, so it does seem like people actually use the tuition benefit.

          The final issue is that I currently have what I like to call a recession-era frankenjob. It’s at least two jobs mashed together. The variety of tasks is nice, but I feel like it makes it difficult to sell myself to employers because after 10 years in the workforce, I’m not sufficiently specialized. I’d be shifting to a role that’s more conventionally structured and that theoretically then has a clearer cut path to advancement.

          1. Jerry Vandesic*

            The challenge is that if you take this new job, you are essentially locked out of looking for a higher paying job for the next couple years. If you truly want to be making more money, you should focus on that goal and take yourself out of contention for this new job.

    13. Sam Foster*

      I would assume this a recruiter pushing a mismatched candidate for their own selfish needs. I don’t know if it’s a meeting numbers thing or they hope to get lucky thing but I see this a lot where we get a candidate through a recruiter and it is immediately clear the our expectations and the candidate’s are not at all aligned.

      1. Recruiter*

        I find it so interesting that so much shade is thrown at recruiters on this site, yet so many of you are willing to use them. Now, I am not a professional headhunter, just your average staffing agency recruiter, however this recruiter did their job. They presented a great candidate with clear expectations to the company, and the company was the one who dropped the ball. When people are your product, as they are for recruiters, there’s bound to be something that happens that is out of your control because of human nature. If your product is anything else, let’s say teapots, there are going to be errors made as well. I’m sure there are awful recruiters out there, but most are genuine and are not pushing people for their own selfish reasons. Unless that selfish reason is wanting someone to have a job they are happy in. There’s no shortage of candidates-everyone is replaceable and what makes a candidate way more valuable than skill of experience is a great attitude, work ethics, and adaptability. I wish the shade would go down on this site a bit because it’s an extremely valuable site that has helped me do my job better. I’m not in it for the money. After 4 years I am making $36k/yr…after my bonuses:)

  2. Bekx*

    Hi all – some new job transition questions for you!

    I just had a final interview with a company that would be a 40% raise and an increase in vacation. They told me that they will tell me late next week about the next step.

    1. At my current job, my boss asked me if I wanted a cell phone. I tried to hold off on having her order one, but she needed to know so I figured if she ordered the phone and I got the job, the company could use the phone elsewhere. Unfortunately, I was just asked to place an order for jackets, too, and the manager asking for it told me to order one for myself as well. These jackets are ~$80 a piece. I’m trying to hold off on ordering those, as well, but I probably can’t hold off until late next week. What should I do? Chances are no one else would wear these jackets (no one else in my small department is my size) I know it’s the cost of doing business, but well…I feel bad. At least the phone they can reuse, the jackets…probably not.

    2. My previous job was extremely toxic. When I interviewed for my current job, I remember feeling giddy and excited and wanting to work there. I….don’t feel that way with this new job. I’m excited about the pay, but the job itself might bore me. I probably won’t be there in 5 years, but I am extremely underpaid at my current job. Everyone seems nice, but the job itself seems like less responsibility and less variability than the one I currently have. I don’t know if this is a combination of nerves/the reality that I don’t NEED a new job, like I did last time, or what. Is this normal? Is it a red flag? Culturally, there were no warning signs about the job or company….it’s all just the job itself might bore me a little. It’s also in increase in responsibilties….I’ll go from being assigned work to do, to basically creating the work on my own (really, non-exempt to exempt in a lot of ways). I don’t know how to take this!

    3. Finally, I have two days of vacation left. I’m getting the sense that they would want me to start in January at the new place. Would it be wrong for me to take those 2 vacation days as I had planned? I’d be giving my company more than a 2 week notice, even with the holidays.

    1. fposte*

      1. Go ahead and order the jacket.
      2. That’s your call; it’s completely individual. You don’t have to feel all New Relationship Energy about a job prospect–lots of people don’t. But do you only want to leave for a job you feel that for? Because it would be okay to say that.
      3. You can take the vacation, but be aware if it’s planned during your notice period you might not be able to.

      1. Rex*

        Yeah, regarding your first question, you should proceed as if you’re not going anywhere. They could easily still decide not to hire you, their hiring decision could easily be delayed a few months especially with the holidays, you could decide it’s not worth it.

      2. Artemesia*

        And my standard for ‘excitement’ would be different if I were seriously underpaid and getting a 40% raise. You don’t want to go into a bad situation, but 40% and an okay situation is pretty attractive. Money makes your life better.

        1. Bekx*

          That’s exactly what I’m feeling. I don’t think this would be a bad situation…but I’m going from a huge company who has perks like a brand new office, company parties, giant bonuses to a very small company that has an old office and I’d be in a cubical farm. Everyone who has interviewed me has really stressed their culture and how they try very hard to be attractive to new employees and they are very flexible. My would be boss was very nice and I really, really liked her.

          But I’m comfortable here. And bored. And checked out. And my boss is having an affair with her boss and it’s AWKWARD and I’m being ignored. And underpaid.

          I think it’s just the nerves. I tend to focus on the small things that really don’t mean anything when I’m anxious. I’m hoping, at least, that it’s just nerves!

          1. Bess*

            It is totally find to downgrade in some areas for an upgrade in salary–particularly if you’re feeling underpaid. You might miss the nice building, etc., but if you know going in, I wouldn’t be too worried.

            I’ve had not-so-great jobs that still paid better than the previous one, that helped me build a more stable life, pay down debt, live by myself, build up savings, etc. Those are all good things that can make up for an older office, less exciting work, etc. I get anxious about this type of thing, too, but unless you have some bad vibes about the new place, it’s probably just transition anxiety.

          2. Anion*

            Sometimes the things we’re not excited about doing end up being the things we enjoy the most, at least for me. I wouldn’t take the lack of stomach-butterfly-excitement as any kind of bad sign; you could (and probably will) end up being very happy there. I took a job once as a stopgap just to get out of a job I disliked, and ended up loving the company and becoming a supervisor after about a year and a half. I still think of it as one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, and certainly the best “adult” office job I’ve ever had.

            It’s amazing the difference working with good, nice people can make, and the benefits of working for a company that cares about its employees and tries hard to make them happy can be huge.

          3. SignalLost*

            I would trade all those perks to not be dealing with a boss having an affair for reasons ranging to my moral code to professionalism, just saying.

            And on the pay front – if your current company is underpaying you but giving you giant bonuses … that’s preeeettty manipulative. My current company is explicitly stating that if we make X percent bonus it’s LIKE we got a $3/hr raise … but we didn’t get that raise, especially since it’s really easy to lose the bonus for circumstances more out of your control than in.

            1. Sandsong*

              Especially since more is withheld at the time when bonuses happen, as opposed to having more ‘cash’ in hand regularly from a raise.

          4. kittymommy*

            Have you looked at the benefits to see how they stack up? Vacay, sick leave, retirement. etc? The mention of large bonuses where you are at made me think of it?

            1. Bekx*

              I know the vacation starts a week more than what I currently have, and will go up another week after 2 years… much more than what I have.

              I’d be asking to check health insurance costs before I accept. I do know that bonuses are not guaranteed. At my current company I’m guaranteed 10% plus more depending on company profit….new company I’d really only be guaranteed a 3% bonus and it doesn’t sound like raises happen. 401(k) is much better than my current company.

    2. The Ginger Ginger*

      You say you don’t feel excited, but does it feel like you could continue to do the new job for a year to 18 months after you’ve settled in and learned the ropes? Is there room for advancement/a career trajectory from the role you interviewed for? Will there be the potential to take on additional/more interesting tasks as you acclimate to the position? In my experience, it’s pretty rare for a role to look exactly the same after 12-18 months as it did when you took it, it may evolve slightly or you may transition slightly based on what strengths you bring to the company.

      Also – it is super common after HAVING to find a new job to feel weird/different when you find the first new one post-escape job offer Suddenly you COULD have a new job, but you don’t have to – it feels really strange outside the panic and dread of escaping a toxic job. That huge sense of relief and escape isn’t there to tell you you’re making the “right” decision. It’s pretty easy to let doubts fill that space. Higher pay and more vacation time is nothing to sneeze at. If you think you could be reasonably happy/content in the new role for a couple years, I wouldn’t let worry hold you back necessarily or fall into the trap of thinking what’s familiar is actually better. And it may be there isn’t a RIGHT and WRONG choice here. 2 reasonably good companies with decent coworkers may just be a choice between 2 good options.

      Ask yourself this – if you DON’T take the new role, how much are you going to be wondering “what if” in 6 months time?

      1. Bekx*

        Thank you. I think you hit everything I’m feeling right on the head.

        That huge sense of relief and escape isn’t there to tell you you’re making the “right” decision.

        With my old job it was SUCH an obvious move. This….well…I could stay in my current role another year…but my performance will probably suffer.

        The new role…there really wouldn’t be much advancement, but I’m not someone who needs to climb the corporate ladder. I don’t necessarily want to be a manager, although I’m sure in a few years that may be something that I could do depending on the growth of my new department.

        If I stayed at my current role, even with the giant bonuses and tiny raises, in 5 years I wouldn’t make what the new role would be offering me now. I need the money. I picked up a second job just to pay some unexpected housing expenses. This would change my life. I think I know the right answer, I just needed someone to tell me that it’s okay to not be over the moon thrilled and ecstatic.

        1. The Ginger Ginger*

          I’ve done a bit of toxic job fleeing myself :)
          It’s definitely okay not to be thrilled. And it’s definitely okay to let money be the biggest motivator! If it doesn’t seem like a bad company and the people seem nice, pay becomes a HUGE decision maker. And that’s absolutely fine! We all work to get paid. And honestly, a second job can be exhausting. So you should also be considering all the time you’d get back if you could quit the second job and depend on your primary to support you. That is also no small thing.

        2. Marley*

          “This would change my life.”

          That and the affair affecting your morale?

          I really hope you get the offer. Good luck!

          1. Bekx*

            Affair is absolutely affecting my moral. When your grandboss only lets your boss go on company trips/training and not you, it sucks! Morally I have a HUGE problem with it. I’ve lost respect for boss and grandboss.

    3. Mananana*

      Regarding your concern about being bored? Since you get to create work on your own, that shouldn’t be an issue. Feeling bored? Create a new task for yourself!

      Don’t let fear create problems where none exist. Go forth and do good things. (And order the jacket in a medium — it will be easier to fit someone else.)

    4. Malibu Stacey*

      Order the jacket. If they were going to fire you/lay you off, they wouldn’t ask for the jacket back like they would a company phone or computer.

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        Wait, no, why would you offer to pay for a jacket that you have no reason to wear anymore? $80 is a lot of money for a jacket you cannot/do not want to wear (I assume it’s going to have some kind of company branding).

        Try to stall on ordering the jacket if you can. But if there’s no way for you to avoid it or delay without making things weird, but I don’t see why you would need to pay for it if you give notice in a few weeks.

      2. SignalLost*

        Nope. It’s a cost of doing business for the company. It’s not something the employee has to repay if they leave. Even if they were fired, they don’t have to repay it, and there is no point to feeling guilty about the purchase.

    5. Bekx*

      Thank you everyone for your responses! I appreciate the feedback. I think a lot of it is just nerves :)

    6. Big City Woman*

      You haven’t been offered the new job yet – correct? I would caution you not to hang all your hopes on it just yet. Order the phone and order the jacket. Those are business expenses for your current employer to worry about and they can write them off, but they are needed because you still work there.

      It sounds to me like you are suffering from feeling pangs of disloyalty to your current job. If so, let them pass. You might want to apply to other jobs, too, to see what else is out there and disengage from thoughts that it’s either one or the other.

  3. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

    I’ve got an interview soon for an internal post. My line manager would remain the same, and part of the role would be as their deputy. She will be on the panel, along with someone else I’ve worked with before and someone from the other dept I’d be working with. I work for a large govt body, so they’ve offered in internal and external (It was only internal and 2 people other than me applied). They now have enough people for a full day of interviews. I’m really stressing about it, as I *should* be the perfect candidate, I know her role/my prior experience aligns with the other depts. I get one well with everyone, I really want the job (It’d let me break out of just admin). However, I can’t shake the feeling that they don’t want me??? If I was as perfect as I think for the role, then why would they need to interview so many other people? Maybe they don’t think I’m right and just don’t want to tell me direct?
    Do I ask them if they don’t want me? Do I keep quiet and prepare my socks off? I’m so lost and I’m about to go into a tailspin!

    1. Anne of Green Gables*

      I wouldn’t assume they don’t want you! A lot of places have a minimum number of applicants they need to interview–I know I can’t just interview one person. They also may just want to be sure that you are the best for the job. I wouldn’t ask, as it could put them in an odd position and even if you feel concerned about it, I wouldn’t vocalize that to those you’d be interview with. I think preparing and knocking their socks off is a great strategy. Good luck!!

      1. Rat Racer*

        Totally 1000% agree! Plus, knowing that you went up against internal and external candidates to get the job validates you, and lets you know you earned the job, it wasn’t handed to you.

      2. SignalLost*

        And in government, it may get nuttier. The last time I did a government interview, they checked my references even though they never offered me the job and it took them over a month to reject me. Government often has really arcane rules around hiring.

    2. misspiggy*

      Employers usually want to see who’s out there, even if they have an excellent internal candidate. It protects them from accusations of stagnation or nepotism, and it makes sense to check whether internal people actually do compare well to the external population.

      Nevertheless you should have a huge advantage with your inside knowledge, so don’t worry.

    3. Amber O.*

      I would NOT ask them if they don’t want you- that’s going to come across as insecure and maybe a little paranoid. If they weren’t interested or didn’t think you were qualified, they wouldn’t be interviewing you. They probably want to interview a wide range of candidates, rather than limiting their options. It doesn’t reflect on you or your skills! Focus on preparing yourself and don’t worry about the rest.

    4. LibraryBee*

      Prepare your socks off! I work for the county government, and they are required by law to interview a specific % of qualified candidates. As far as I know it’s to avoid favoritism, nepotism, and giving an “equal” opportunity.
      Good luck!

    5. Adhyanon*

      I know that sometimes interviews are required depending on how the job is classified. Also, sometimes they’re held to provide institutional legitimacy to an internal candidate. It likely has nothing to do with your qualifications.

    6. Your Weird Uncle*

      Oh that’s so exciting for you – definitely prepare as you would on an any other interview. They wouldn’t interview you just out of kindness, so you’ve absolutely got a great chance here!

      I recently went through an internal interview (and got the job) when I was up against other candidates who had more direct management experience. I tried to focus on my experience in the department and was able to speak of ways I thought the department could improve, what was working, etc.

      I also highly, highly recommend Alison’s suggested question during the interview: ‘Are there any reservations you have about my fit for the position that I could try to address?’ I used that and was able to get some of their reservations (in my example, one of my good friends would be someone I would be expected to manage) out in the open and address how I would deal with it.

      Good luck!

    7. Footiepjs*

      This is city government, but when I was a library page, my supervisor told me that HR told her to interview 10 people if she could. These are short, 30 minute interviews, but still! So there’s probably a minimum there. You might be the person they have in mind, but they could have guidelines to follow.

      Definitely do not ask.

    8. Rusty Shackelford*

      Since it’s a government body, I’d be surprised if they DIDN’T interview at least three people!

    9. USSRian Jew Esq.*

      I work for govt (3 years) of an east coast state and I had to interview for a position in a department where I had already done their specific work, got briefly trained and everything. I had worked with this department for over a year and was basically a go-to liason between departments that also got stuff done (not admin). They still interviewed me. It was the Director and program manager interviewing me, the ones who assigned me the work they knew I had done before. So no, it’s not that they don’t want you, it’s that interviewing is the standard course of action! You didn’t ask for a promotion, you applied for a different position that was (I’m assuming) available for people outside the org to apply for. Fair is fair, everyone has to be treated equally.

    10. Mrs. D*

      I agree with the other comments recommending that you don’t ask if they want you. It would not be a professional way to put yourself forward here.

      I work in the public sector (public school district), so perhaps I can offer some perspective. What I’ve seen and experienced is that there is a definite hierarchy of candidates when a job is posted. Internal candidates are grouped into two areas: transfers, and applicants. The transfers would come into play only if someone with the same job title is applying for the position, i.e. someone working at another site that wants to move to the site where the job is located. If there are no transfers, then the other internal applicants are considered. And my understanding (which seems to be mirrored by other comments) is that they have to interview more than one person for the position. My feeling is that they do this so as not to open up accusations of “playing favorites,” but I could be wrong. So you may be the perfect candidate, but they have requirements they have to meet during the application process to ensure the process is “fair.”

      This is not something to get super-stressed over. Think about it this way: yes, you really want the new job, but if you don’t get it you’re no worse off. You still have a job that you can do (and do well), and there will likely be a future opportunity for you to grow into and continue to impress your boss(es) and colleagues. Good luck!

    11. Prudencep*

      My current role was advertised internally first and I applied. Then they decided to go external.. I was pretty devastated and started wondering what it meant for my future there. But I did get the job! It was a three-pronged reason it went external: 1. not enough appropriate internal candidates, 2. wanting to test the market because it had been a new position for about 2 years and they wanted a sense of where it was sitting, and 3. they wanted any internal candidate who got it to know that they didn’t JUST get it because they were internal.

      So it’s really hard to tell who or what they are looking for. If you don’t get it (and I really hope you do!), would they be open to giving you feedback?

    12. Sam Foster*

      Prepare, go through the process and be prepared not to be selected. Just because YOU think you are a perfect match doesn’t mean you match the “perfect version” the hiring people have in mind.

    13. Insufferable Bureaucrat*

      Totally agre with all the comments that it has to do with rigid hiring practices requiring a minimum number of candidates to be interviewed, not that they don’t want you. I work in city government and been involved in a lot of hiring. It’s actually very possible that you are the top candidate that they already know they want and the hiring panel is grumbling that hr is making them waste an entire day interviewing 10 other lesser candidate because it’s a policy.
      One piece of advice from my experience sitting on hiring panels with both internal and external candidates, including internal candidates I work with regularly: interview scoring is extremely structured, least where I work. We are required to evaluate you only on what you say in the interview and there is a set list of skills or “competencies” we have to look for in each question. So if I ask you to describe your experience and I’m looking for experience in teapot handle assembly you need to tell me that you have experience assembling teapot handles to get a good score on that question. Even if I directly supervise you assembling teapot handles every day you still have to explain that you know how to do it in your interview or else I have to assume you don’t. Is that incredibly stupid? Yes, yes it is. But it is. I’ve seen many internal candidates not move past the first round of interviews because they assumed we could rely on our prior knowledge of their skills during the interview process. Assume you’ve never met the interview panel before and you need to wow them just on the interview. As an internal candidate your experience WILL give you a leg up as long as you discuss it in your interview. Good luck!

  4. Murphy*

    I sent this in a few months ago, and it’s becoming relevant with the holidays coming up, so I’m going to ask it here. Short version: Do I need to explain that I don’t work on the weekends/holidays?

    I’m staff at a university in a nonacademic department. I interact frequently with professors, who work at all hours and can email me at any time. This is fine, as they’re mostly reasonable and don’t expect a response until the next morning. But sometimes they’re not reasonable. Someone emailed me after 5pm on the Friday before Labor Day weekend (so, after I’d left) telling me that something wasn’t working. I got another email from them on Labor Day, saying that it “still” wasn’t working and they seemed a bit annoyed. I’m salaried nonexempt, and I generally don’t check my email on the weekends unless there’s something big going on. I have to clock in to track my hours. Should I have to explain this? I feel like it’s obvious, though I understand that this isn’t how professors operate.

    1. Manders*

      It should be obvious, but you’re right that professors can lose track of the fact that everyone doesn’t keep their work schedule. Could you set an automated reply on your email that responds with a message about when you’ll be checking your email during the times you’re out of the office?

      1. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

        Yes, I’d second an auto reply with something saying when you’re back in. Or if you think people will read it you could put ‘Advance notice of leave’ in your signiture (for holiday) or something about your working hours. I work with a lot of people who do both, and it’s useful so if I email them and they won’t be in I can find someone else.

        1. Artemesia*

          Why not. if your role is IT then somebody should be on call for fixing whatever isn’t working. But if you are an admin and it is the copier or fax machine, well tough beans. Someone should be in charge of making sure it is working and filled with paper and toner on Friday afternoon; professors work weekends. But you are not ‘on call’ and shouldn’t have to be and I would have an out of office message you just put up Friday at 5 and take down Monday at arrival time since it has been an issue.

          1. Anonygoose*

            If no one else is working because it’s the weekend, I think that professors should figure out how to add paper and change toner on their own.

        2. LizB*

          Can you put that info in your signature? Just a quick “Work Hours: M-F 9-5” or whatever might help.

        3. Manders*

          Most email programs should have a way to automate it so it goes on by itself during certain hours.

          I grew up with professors, and trust me, there’s no magic way to phrase this request so that you can tell them just once and they’ll remember it. You have to automate it so they’ll get an instant reminder every single time. Especially when it’s grading time.

        4. SignalLost*

          I’ve seen that in both academia and the private sector. A good friend of mine is support staff for the university in our city and she sets an away message every weekend, updated if there’s a holiday or she’s on vacation. It’s actually a little maddening because she won’t switch her contact info for the associations we are both in to her personal email address, but I wind up emailing her work address more than I would like because of that. IOW, the problem is that she won’t use the right email address in the right context, leading to her not getting info in a timely fashion, not that I get an auto reply. The auto reply seems pretty courteous to me.

        5. Adlib*

          I work with a travel agent who puts up an away message every day because a lot of her work is time sensitive for corporate travelers. It’s helpful because I know when she’s at her desk or not, and I can manage expectations.

    2. The Ginger Ginger*

      Do you use an out of office on your email when you’re out? If you set up one of those with your work hours and when you can be expected to return to the office, and b) start returning/addressing emails, it may cut down on some of that. In my role, I need to put one on any time I’m out of the office (even just for the evening) as it directs clients to a 24 hour support hotline. I’ve noticed that it really cuts down on disgruntled responses when I provide the additional timeline details.

      1. The Ginger Ginger*

        Sorry that should say “If you set up one of those with * a) your work hours and when you can be expected to return to the office, and b) when you’ll start returning/addressing emails*

    3. Dee-Nice*

      My job is similar, and I’ve also received emails from people at odd times that had a tone of annoyance at my seeming slowness to respond. I might respond along the lines of, “Sorry for the slow response. I did not receive your email until after I returned from the long weekend,” and let them figure it out. I wouldn’t bother explaining any more to them unless they call you out directly.

    4. ArtK*

      First, and foremost, never respond during your time off. If the building is burning down, they can call the fire department just as easily as you can. Telling them that you don’t work weekends or holidays is not nearly as good as showing them that you don’t. If it’s really a problem for them, they can escalate and then you and your boss can discuss your working hours — or you can proactively discuss this with your boss.

      Unless it’s in your job description, you aren’t required to respond to the demands of unreasonable people. Just because they are upset, it doesn’t mean that you’re doing anything wrong.

      1. Cotton Balls*

        Just because they are upset, it doesn’t mean that you’re doing anything wrong

        The most perfect sentence every written and I really needed to hear (read) it today.

      2. No Parking or Waiting*

        Telling them that you don’t work weekends or holidays is not nearly as good as showing them that you don’t.
        So much this! It avoids the mixed message resulting from, “I read your email and will do X, but can’t do Y.”
        Leave no gray area.

    5. Q without U*

      No, you don’t need to explain it. You can start your reply email with something like ‘Hope you had a great weekend/holiday” and maybe they will get the hint, but faculty understand that people work regular hours and aren’t available 24/7. They may not like it, they may get annoyed, but unless you’re on call, that’s their problem, not yours.

      1. Yorick*

        Don’t start an email that way, it’s too passive and they won’t understand what you meant. Also, they didn’t enjoy their weekend because they had this problem that they thought you would be able to solve. Just explain that you couldn’t help them because you don’t work weekends and holidays. Using a signature with your work hours and an out-of-office message should help too.

      2. Lala*

        Faculty *should* understand, but it is amazing how many of them really do not. It’s more a matter of them being caught up in their own stuff than anything else. They usually get it with normal weekends, but staff often work holidays that faculty don’t (my professor spouse is effectively on vacation for a month between semesters while I’m still going in to work on campus for three weeks of that time b/c I’m staff, staff don’t get spring break, etc.), so it’s harder for them to keep track of which holidays you can expect someone to be around or not.

        Easiest solution to this is to set up an “out of office” message on holidays/long weekends. I wouldn’t bother with doing it every single weekend

    6. Laura*

      I think when you respond you can (nicely) say that you respond to requests during regular business hours, and that you’re sorry that off-hour support isn’t offered at this time (if it makes sense for your particular role, make it sound like an official department policy). Then, if you’re away for a standard working day, make sure you have your out-of -office on.

      1. Murphy*

        Oh, if I’m out during a working day, I definitely use out of office, but I don’t put one up every weekend (or on days when the university is closed, as was the case with labor day.)

        1. Artemesia*

          And you shouldn’t have to, but apparently you do. It is the solution to the problem you mention. Most people won’t have to because some jackass doesn’t expect support on the weekend from staff not so assigned; but your jackass does expect it, so this is the way to train him to understand that it isn’t happening.

        2. Someone else*

          Yeah, your choices are basically either: default to always have an out of office, even when it should be obvious, or when you do return, making sure that part of your response makes it clear that you didn’t respond sooner because it was the weekend and you don’t work weekends. If this is becoming a major problem, in that it happens every weekend or every holiday, I’d lean toward the OOO to be turned on whenever you’re not working, even though that shouldn’t be necessary. If it’s a thing that’s frequent enough that it stresses you but not frequent enough that it’d apply every weekend, or if you think it might read as odd or too aggressive to use the OOO that way, then just make sure every time you encounter someone who seemed pissed you didn’t fix something on a Saturday that you’re telling them why it didn’t get fixed on Saturday. It needn’t be adversarial when you do so, just matter of fact. If it’s consistently the same person and they still get huffy, then you know you have a them problem not a you problem.

    7. Sunflower*

      I don’t work at a university but I am also salaried, non-exempt and I work at a law firm where people work until all hours of the night. I really don’t think the majority of people know I’m not exempt and they just expect everyone to work 24/7 because they do. My old boss asked me to put on an OOO every day with her as the contact. It’s incredibly annoying and I find it ridiculous but I don’t really know what else to do. Lawyers aren’t able to keep track of who works when so the OOO leaves it up to them to decide how important the email is. (sorry if this isn’t applicable to you since I know universities operate differently)

    8. Ama*

      I was an academic admin for almost a decade, and in my experience there are always a handful of people who can’t quite get through their heads that admin staff generally work regular office hours and not weekends (an additional complication I learned is that many European universities apparently are open on Saturdays so some of the postdocs I worked with from those areas took a bit longer to adjust to the concept of staff weekends.. Most people I let figure this out on their own, but in situations like the one you describe, where someone tried to contact me multiple times before I returned to the office, I usually began my response with a polite “Apologies that you’ve been having trouble — our office is only open 9-5 weekdays so I’m just seeing this now, but I am [whatever the plan for assistance was].” The key is to phrase it so the apology is for the *problem* they’ve been having and not the delay in your response, but also sliding in there a polite aside that contacting you multiple times over the evening/weekend isn’t going to get them a response any faster.

      But it also helps to just remember that *they’re* the ones being unreasonable, you aren’t doing anything wrong. I once had a postdoc email me at 7 pm on a Saturday and then again at 8:30 am Monday morning wanting to know why she didn’t have an answer yet — and then called one of my colleagues at 9:10 am to ask *her* while complaining I wasn’t responding to her. Once I explained to the colleague the deal she just rolled her eyes and we both laughed.

      1. Jennifer*

        We’re very specifically not supposed to be working before 8 a.m. or whatever your official start time is (one of my coworkers got yelled at for it) or after 5 p.m.

    9. AnotherJill*

      Not to excuse any bad behavior, but if the issue is one that affects students completing their work, the professor is likely getting tons of email from students which heightens their sense of urgency.

      Even if you don’t respond right away, a quick check of your email on the weekend can help let you plan for Monday, so that you can be more quickly responsive once back at work, which can help alleviate some of the frustrations.

      1. Murphy*

        It definitely wasn’t like that. The guy was doing some work for my office, so if anything, I was the one being inconvenienced by this thing not working, it was me.

        I get a lot of weird/unreasonable requests, so I don’t check email unless I’m prepared to do some work. Otherwise it causes me unnecessary stress to be worrying about it when I’m not working.

        1. AnotherJill*

          Sounds like your system works for you! I’m more the opposite, so when working was an incessant email checker.

    10. No Parking or Waiting*

      My company avoids this issue by blocking access to work email from anywhere other than our computers. We would have to remote access our desktop computer, which then creates a record of the person working. Which is what they want to avoid having non-exempt, salaried employees doing.
      It’s great. I didn’t get the email.

    11. it_guy*

      I would suggest an out of office rule that tells them because of the holiday, responses may be delayed until the start of the next business day.

    12. dear liza dear liza*

      The professors failure to plan during normal work hours does not constitute an emergency on your part.

      Whether you put an out-of-office message on your email depends, to me, on how often people get in a snit. If “sometimes” means just once in a while, eh, do nothing. If it’s happening at least once a month, consider the message, but it’s still not required.

    13. Samiratou*

      It might not hurt to check with your boss on his/her expectations for you outside of hours. Use this as an example, and ask if you’re expected to respond (and log your time) for these issues on weekends or if they have other advice. It’s a bit of a CYA in case the requesters go above your head and lets your boss know you’re getting these type of requests in case they want to address them separately.

    14. Bess*

      Oh, faculty. Refuse to have meetings before 11am, send emails all weekend!

      I think they really forget, and also there’s a lot of university staff who work lots of extra hours, especially when you go higher up the chain. So they might be used to some folks just kinda always being available.

      If there isn’t an expectation in your own job to be available 24/7, I don’t think you really need to worry about it. If it wasn’t someone I knew well or worked with often, I would respond to that email when I got back in and say “just getting back in, here’s the answer.”

      I’d maybe make an exception if it was a particularly warm relationship or they were really in a jam and clarified the urgency. Maybe.

    15. Lorelai Gilmore*

      Academics are a socially-dense bunch. I’d think even an auto-responder wouldn’t stop them from emailing you 3 days later. They just don’t seem to comprehend that kind of thing. I think even just mentioning it in a response once your back would be fine. I’m sure there is a better way to phrase it (without apologizing, because you don’t need to apologize, but I can’t ever seem to help myself)… “Sorry for the delay in response, I was out of the office for the holiday.”

  5. BRR*

    How do you feel appreciated and valued at work? I feel completely unappreciated and that nobody values what I do. I can’t quite put my finger on why because I’m told that I’m doing a great job and I know my contributions are important for what we do. This is both from my manager and other colleagues who use my work. I would love to hear from all of you about this.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Can you remember a time when you did feel appreciated? Why did you?
      Do you feel appreciated outside work? When and why?

    2. [insert witty user name here]*

      I do think this is going to be different for everyone, but I’ve felt most appreciated in a few ways: first, money. A good raise or a bonus is #1 for me. Barring that – second, flexibility. Being able to work from home 3 days/week and flexing my hours as needed is a HUGE perk for me. Third, opportunities. I was recently selected to represent my department at a corporate training. We were told the people selected for this were seen as future leaders of the company and all-around rockstars at their job. Even smaller opportunities, such as more interface with a customer or higher-level manager shows trust and confidence in my abilities.

      I’m interested to see what others have to say!

      1. Allypopx*

        Seconding flexibility. Knowing I can leave early/come in late without consequence because people trust me to get my work done. Managing my time without someone looking over my shoulder. Being allowed to take the occasional mental health day without getting grilled for it.

        I also appreciate the occasional “good job” or “thank you”. Those are nice.

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        All of the things you listed, as well as the occasional “good job” and “thank you” from management as mentioned by Allypopx, are how I feel appreciated in the workplace. I had that at my now ex company, and once that stuff stopped, I found a new job. If this new company doesn’t provide those things, well…

    3. Nita*

      Is it possible you’re not seeing the end result of your work? Do you get to see the finished “product,” or get any feedback from client?

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      PS I feel appreciated when I feel my opinion is valued and am trusted / given responsibility for things. I’m not so much about the words. Have you heard of the love languages? Is it possible you need something other than words?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, this is how I feel appreciated, too. Words are nice, but giving me more responsibility, trusting me enough to confide in me and ask my opinion. Stuff like that matters more to me.

      2. BRR*

        This might be part of it. My opinion doesn’t always feel valued. (This is often by a pain that nobody likes to work with but still).

    5. TCO*

      I’ve felt unvalued when I get nice enough feedback on my work but the work I’m doing doesn’t feel like a good match for me. For instance, when I find my tasks too easy or I don’t like doing them, the feedback feels empty because it’s not really showing appreciation for what I think my true talents are. It doesn’t feel like I’m being seen.

      I’d also look into the languages of appreciation/love languages if you’re not familiar with the concept. You might like being recognized in different ways than what you’re receiving. You might be able to ask for a different kind of recognition, but even if that’s not possible in your workplace you might feel better if you understand how to interpret the appreciation you do receive even if it’s not your chosen “language.”

    6. Alternative person*

      A few things

      -Being given responsibility
      -Getting credit for my input (rather than the end result produced by the client I’m supporting)
      -Being included in general conversations
      -Having my suggestions being discussed and sometimes accepted
      -Being approached by co-workers for help

      For me, it’s more than being told I’m doing a good job, I like to feel my input is understood and valued.

    7. Mediamaven*

      If you are being told that you do a great job then what demonstration of appreciation do you feel you aren’t receiving? Just curious – I have a manager who has a high level of responsibility and her need for constant cheers and accolades and exclamation points has left me completely drained so I’m a little sensitive.

    8. Ama*

      I do. And I think a big portion of it is my boss is very specific when she gives me praise (both privately and publicly) — and she makes sure to praise all facets of my work. For example, in the last couple of months she has very publicly thanked me for my handling of our most important 50 person in-person meeting that is essential to our operations, and internally thanked me for a detailed spreadsheet project that I created voluntarily (and which, though she really likes it, if I came to her and said “look I’ve got no time for this project this year” she would let me drop it).

      At a previous job I often only got praise (and even then, not often) for the really public facing portions of my work or the end result of a long-term project but phrased in such a way that it was clear the person praising didn’t really understand all the work involved. For example I was once thanked for “arranging the coffee” for a meeting, with no acknowledgement that I was actually the person who made and served the coffee — and had to come in early and leave late that day plus interrupt my normal work day several times to freshen things. And in the same week the massive amount of work hours I put into coordinating our annual report got completely ignored other than (“hey this looks good – you picked a good printer”).

    9. Solo*

      I feel appreciated and valued when:
      * I’m given opportunities to stretch and grow, especially projects that require me to learn new things, and formal training opportunities when appropriate
      * I am asked for my input on a decision or to assist in brainstorming/defining a project
      * I am informed about or given feedback on the resolution of a task/project (whether it was a task assigned to me, or that I assigned to someone else, or something that came up in an impromptu brainstorming session)
      * I get “FYI” communication that keeps me up-to-date on work/discussions that is distinct from but relevant to my core responsibilities
      * I see evidence that my base pay/benefits are in line with or above the market rate, based on my role and experience
      * I’m granted flexibility to do work my own way (e.g., working from home, flexing time for dr appts, pushing back on scope (& scope creep), etc)

      I feel devalued when:
      * I am given inadequate/inappropriate lead time on a meeting — e.g., coming in to the office at 8am to see that I missed a 7am meeting when I first received the invitation at 1am. (The three major time zones represented on my current project are each 8 hours off from each other, with a handful of stakeholders sprinkled across intermediate timezones.)
      * Someone in a position of relative power over me communicates an implicit or explicit expectation that I will have always-on availability.
      * … I’m faced with any kind of boundary-testing behavior in the workplace, really.
      * A coworker is paid more than I am, without obvious compensating factors like experience / increased responsibilities / higher performance etc

      I feel …conflicted when:
      * I’m praised publicly, especially if that praise feels hyperbolic or fundamentally different to how the praiser communicates with/to other members of the team

    10. Not So NewReader*

      A shot in the dark here: Do YOU appreciate and value what you do? This is something that comes from inside us and no amount of reassurance from others can really change that.

      One thing I noticed is the odd times I heard kudos. Clear a jam from a copier and I am a miracle worker. Do two months worth of work the size of Mount Everest and crickets. Some people have a knack for rewarding the small stuff with compliments and ignoring the big stuff. I caught myself kind of losing respect for those people who consistently did this as the years went by.

      After a bit, I started realizing that I had choices. I could look to others to find the value of my own work OR I could decide to focus on doing the job in a manner that I am proud of ME. This is beyond being able to sleep at night because of sticking to one’s values or ethics. This is the quiet knowing that I gave it my best today. What is nice about thinking this way, is that it includes the fact that some days are better than others. Some days I break everything I touch and I just want to crawl under a rock. Other days I am standing on the rock pumping my fist in the air, “Go ME!” It’s not possible to be a superstar everyday because machines break, cohorts blow off deadlines, things get lost in email land and so on. Too much of what we do is contingent on what is going on Over There Somewhere.

      You could try this, ask yourself, “Given my givens today, do I think I did my best that I could do?” If the answer is yes then you have had a successful day. You can appreciate and value what you have accomplished today.

      PS. Today I am breaking everything I touch. I give myself points for continuing on anyway.

      1. BRR*

        Interesting question. I do value what I do which is why I think I’m so frustrated. I’ve been job hunting since I’ve started here but unfortunately niche career.

      1. Let's Sidebar*

        Wow, I really disagree with this. The opportunities for professional growth and connections that I would not have access to without management assistance have always been a major benefit to me in my career.

    11. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I once worked at a place where management refused to acknowledge any efforts made by staff. (But we sure heard if anything ever went wrong!). My co-workers and I banded together and made sure that we acknowledged and appreciated each other frequently. It just seemed to mean more coming from someone who cared. We all still keep in touch, five years later.

    12. Jake*

      I feel reasonably appreciated I guess, but to be honest, feeling appreciated ooga pretty low on my priority list.

      I’m much more worried about my pay, benefits, workload, manager’s integrity, etc. Than whether I feel appreciated. I figure if any off those 4 are a major problem, no amount of appreciation is going to make up for it. If those 4 are in decent shape, then i can handle not feeling appreciated, unless people are actively going out of their way to make me feel that way i guess.

    13. breadrolls*

      The things that make me feel valued are pretty straightforward: monetary compensation and recognition of/support for my professional growth.

      I’m currently without a permanent manager, and the fact that my interim manager doesn’t understand my work at all–and doesn’t even care to know what I’m working on most of the time–makes me feel exhausted and unmotivated. His dismissiveness frankly makes me wonder if the organization wouldn’t be better off going to back to outsourcing all the work I currently do to a vendor.

      1. BRR*

        ^Part of this. Nobody really understands what I do. They understand the end product but not the how.

    14. MissDisplaced*

      Well, I sure knew I didn’t feel appreciated at my OldJob when my manager said they “Didn’t really need a digital marketing manager.”
      Apparently, he did *need* me 2 months after I left when he was contacting me about how to make website changes. I didn’t feel the need to help him.

    15. Prudencep*

      I find it awkward to receive direct compliments or thanks, especially in public, so I think it’s more things like:
      – having some flexibility where I need it
      – knowing I can call my boss or drop by her office any time I really need to
      – having a boss who comes down to our floor to talk to people and having a genuine interest in what we’re doing
      – being trusted to do things of my own accord
      – having someone come to be because my boss has suggested that I’m the one who can help with that
      – being delegated to
      – having my team members ask me for my advice either on how to do something, or on what I think of their approach

  6. Mona Lisa*

    Looking for suggestions of questions you would ask or have asked when interviewing for a job you’re already working.

    I’ve been in a special assignment for 3 months from another department at the same organization, and the permanent position for which my new office plans to hire me finally posted this week. We’re going through the formal HR process, and I expect to be called in for an interview next week. Usually I would ask questions about workplace environment, management styles, goals, etc., but since I’ve already been working here for a while, I don’t need them to answer those for me. I’ll probably ask what a successful first year would look like for the position, but I’m hoping people might have some ideas for other questions I should consider asking.

    Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions!

    1. Frozen Ginger*

      I don’t think it would hurt to ask if there are any differences between your current role and the role you’re interviewing for. You say they’re the same, but thee might still be differences between an assignment post and a permanent position. Maybe you’ll have more responsibility; maybe you’ll have more input on decisions. I don’t know, but like I said, can’t hurt to ask.

      1. Mona Lisa*

        I think I could find a way to ask something about whether they see the role growing or expanding beyond its current scope once I’m on permanently. I have ideas about how they’ll answer that, but maybe they’ll surprise me!

    2. OtterB*

      Successful first year is good. You might also ask them if they’ve had other people transition from special assignment to a permanent role and if there’s anything they can suggest about how to make the transition successful.

      1. Mona Lisa*

        It’s a brand new office with people coming over from another existing place. The special assignment was negotiated between my old college and the new central department since HR was dragging its feet. (The finalized position has been in their hands since June.) I’ll definitely ask about a successful first year!

    3. Prudencep*

      You could always ask what from their perspectives might be some of the challenges or the position, what they think is the most valuable skill someone would bring to the position, or if they have a key focus for what the role will need to do first? Good luck!

  7. Discombobulated Englishman*

    Thank to everyone last week who made suggestions on giving a presentation at an interview!

    I had 8 brief slides and was well inside the 5 minutes. Nerves got the best of me, but I got my main points across. If I get an offer they said they want to expedite the recruitment process and get someone in ASAP so fingers crossed- I find out on my birthday!!

  8. Overworked*

    My job requires 24/7 coverage, and I am scheduled to work Christmas Day this year. Since it’s a company holiday, only essential staff are working and everyone else gets the day off. Up until now, my department has had two people per shift working holidays, but now they have decided to cut back to one person per shift on holidays. We would normally have 6 people working dayshift on a Monday (our busiest day of the week), but on Christmas Day I’m expected to do all of the work single-handedly.

    My department is one of the few with extremely strict deadlines for the majority of our work, much of which is required every day or every shift. So, although we will have bare-bones staffing, we will have almost the same amount of work as we normally do on a fully-staffed day (maybe a little less just because we won’t get as many calls or requests from other departments as usual), and I am the one getting stuck with a ridiculous workload.

    I begged my manager to put just one more person on the schedule that day, even for a half-day, and his response was that we’re going to postpone most of the work until later in the week so people can have the day off to spend with their families. I sent him a list of all the work that’s scheduled for that day (35+ tasks) and asked which things can be postponed, and he replied with ONE task that can be postponed! And that one task is something that takes about 5 minutes, so it’s not going to help very much.

    Even though it’s almost a month away, I am absolutely dreading this day. I’m losing sleep over it. I’ve been in the horrible position of being expected to do the work of 4 or 5 people before, and I can’t stand the thought of going through it again — the 12 straight frantic hours without even having time to eat or go to the bathroom. I agree with my manager that nothing (except the one small thing) can feasibly be postponed until later in the week, so I can’t just blow it off. I’m non-exempt, so I can’t even stay late to finish everything. I’m known for being the hardest worker in the department, and I am very efficient, but I have a limit and this is too much.

    I don’t know what to do because I have asked my manager to schedule a second person and he said no (after discussing it with our director, who is notoriously tight-fisted about overtime), and I am being put in a situation where I am bound to fail. Should I keep asking in hopes of convincing my manager that this is impossible? Should I go over my director’s head and try to convince his boss that this is going to be a problem? Should I just resign myself to failing and having to face the consequences?

    1. NoMoreMrFixit*

      I’ve been in that type of situation before. I told my boss that I could accomplish x tasks out of a total of y and wanted their input on which specific tasks I should focus on. A reasonable manager will give you some feedback on priorities.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        I’d flip that a bit and make a proposal: “Given that I’ll be on my own on Christmas, here’s what I’m proposing to get done on Christmas Day. Based on my experience with these projects, this will take 8 hours, so if we want to move something else onto this list we will need to move something else off. Let me know if these are the right priorities or if we need to sit down and talk through any adjustments together. ”

        You could also offer a list of what you could get done with one additional person in the office.

        1. Frozen Ginger*

          This! Overworked already _asked_ what could be cut back and didn’t get a sufficient answer. Now’s the time to _tell_ boss what will get done.

          1. Overworked*

            The problem is that my manager is right that only the one thing can be postponed. I don’t know what to say I’m not going to do, because everything else on the list actually is important, which is why we usually schedule enough people on Mondays to do that much work.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              Yes, it’s an impossible situation. But you can’t do it all, right? (Like, literally — if it takes 5 people to do it all on a normal day, you couldn’t get it all done on your own even if you worked 18 hours, right?)

              So: Some things that have to get done won’t get done. That’s just the reality. You need your boss to be perfectly clear about what won’t get done so that she can own the repercussions of the choice to only schedule one person. And, perhaps, laying it out as starkly as I’m proposing will cause her to reconsider her scheduling.

              I’m assuming that the tasks you’re going to be juggling aren’t doing direct harm to living beings. Like, if you work at a doggie day care — the dogs need to be fed; it would be morally wrong not to feed them and there would be a different conversation to be had.

              But if it’s business process that needs to occur to make sure a vendor gets paid on time, and if it doesn’t it will trigger a $50,000 fine? That’s your boss’s problem, not yours.

            2. The Cosmic Avenger*

              This is likely to be a huge failure and a disaster…but not because of anything you did or did not do! It’s totally on management for not allocating enough time or labor hours for the things they want to get done.

              They are trying to manipulate you into working a ridiculous number of hours that day, and you should not fall for it. I agree with everyone who says to provide a ranked, prioritized list, and mark off the things you think you can realistically get done in 8 hours. If they tell you to add something, tell them something else will have to be removed in order to fit that into one shift. And make sure to send all this by email, so you have a record of having warned them that they WILL miss many of these deadlines if they don’t add man hours (either additional workers or additional shifts).

            3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              I should say that I’ve been in this position. I once was responsible for running an event with — and this is not a typo — 100,000 volunteers, with a staff of four (three salaried, one AmeriCorps).

              We had great systems in place to make most of it work well, but the week before the event itself? Some important things didn’t happen. They just couldn’t. We all worked 18 hour days, and I still didn’t even listen to all of my voicemails (I mean that literally; there were voicemails left the week before the event that I didn’t listen to until after the event had happened.)

              (Whenever I tell people this story they wonder how it was possible, so let me nip that thread in the bud by saying that we had hundreds of experienced volunteer leads who did the direct management of most of the volunteer projects. We recruited and trained those lead volunteers, many of whom had been involved with the event for over a decade, and they handled the day-to-day stuff.)

            4. Green bean*

              It sounds like you are saying that there are 34 must do tasks but you won’t be able to do all of them on your own. If you can estimate what you can get done and flag that these specific 20 tasks won’t happen, i find the specificity of that can be helpful to make it more real to your boss that these are the actual ramifications of his decision to only put one person on. And it sounds like you may need to do that anyway, if you can’t physically get it all done on your own.

            5. Jules the Third*

              You have to cut through the anxiety and ‘it’s all important!’ somehow, and since your boss isn’t helping, that ‘you’ means *you*.

              Here’s some possible rules for assessing the impact if things are not done:
              1) Will someone die? (real question, if you’re in, say, healthcare)
              2) Will someone go to jail?
              3) Does it stop a critical function, or just make it harder?
              4) How much time will someone else lose / have to spend dealing with this being missed? (Anything under 10 hours = lower priority)
              5) How long does it take? (if five tasks are equal importance, do them shortest first)
              6) Can any of it be time-shifted forward to Saturday or Sunday? Even just having someone set up templates so that all you have to do is push the button and copy/paste data (without having to update headers or the like) will help.

              Do hand your boss a list of ‘here’s the things that can get done in 8 hours. If you want to add anything, you have to take something off this list or come in and do it yourself.’ Perfect your bland, ‘sorry, I can’t bend the laws of space and time’ response. Let go of the stuff you can’t get done – maybe see Alison’s post on getting less ’emotionally invested’ from earlier this week.

              You may get the prioritization wrong, but that’s on your BOSS who isn’t helping you prioritize this into a smaller, manageable workload, and on your director who is not staffing correctly. And if this isn’t stuff where people will be dying or going to jail, it’s not important enough to drive yourself into a heart attack for it. $$s is just counters in a game, people are real, and matter. You matter.

              1. Overworked*

                Yeah, boss refuses to prioritize because he refuses to acknowledge that it’s not possible to get everything done. It is difficult to prioritize because it mainly boils down to checking to make sure everything is ok, and it usually is. If something’s not ok (which is highly unlikely, but the fact that it’s possible is why I’m required to check), it could be very serious and people could die and/or go to jail, but I wouldn’t know in advance which thing I check would be the problem.

                Another weird thing about the situation is that not only am I testing for problems, but I’m also testing the testing equipment. If I have to check the voltage on the widgets, first I have to test the voltage meter to make sure it’s reading correctly. Testing the voltage meter doesn’t seem all that important — and it’s not as important as actually checking the voltage — but it’s a requirement to test the voltage meter before using it. Even though checking the voltage is the important thing (and truly the higher priority), I can’t just go checking the voltage without first testing the voltage meter.

                But, you are right that even in a situation where everything is “top priority,” I can separate things that are a little higher or lower.

                1. Friday*

                  People could *actually* die?! Then you need to escalate over your crappy boss. Grandboss? Regulating body of authority? Licensing board? Anyone – just make it known, with a paper trail for yourself, that you are doing all in your power now to minimize impact of this Very Bad Idea and one person can NOT do it alone.

                  Also, job search. Sorry that you are in this position, OP, and I hope any future companies you work with appreciate how very dedicated you are. :(

              2. H.C.*

                I like the cascade list & recommendation (and appreciate the kind-of humor in #1 since I do work in healthcare)

              3. Samiratou*

                I would add “How much could/will the company lose if this doesn’t get done?” to the prioritization question, but it sounds like, from your response, Overworked, that that particular question might not be relevant.

    2. SarahKay*

      Can you update that list with how long each task takes? And if possible, get one of your colleagues to do the same so that you can show it’s not just you over-inflating the times.
      If you sent that back to your manager it might show just how impossible it will be to achieve everything in the single day.
      I’m sorry, you’re in a horrible situation and your company is definitely being unrealistic in its expectations.

    3. WG*

      Can you be more specific with your manager? Maybe provide the list of 35+ tasks noting that with only one person to handle what is normally done by 6 people, it will not be possible to do it all. Ask if the manager can prioritize those tasks for the day so that you know what order to work on things, understanding that it won’t all get done but that you want to put time toward the most important first.

    4. Anne of Green Gables*

      Can you ask for a prioritized list? It seems obvious that you won’t accomplish everything, and I think stating something like “I appreciate that *task* can be postponed, but that still leaves 30+ items that would normally be handled by 5 people. I’m only one person. I will get as much done as I can, obviously, but what tasks are the most essential, which are next, since the reality is that I will not accomplish everything.” Or similar wording that Alison frequently suggests.

      1. Overworked*

        Well, that was his version of a prioritized list. One thing is low priority and can be postponed, and everything else is top priority and absolutely must get done that day.

        1. Q*

          I think you need more than two categories here. Instead of juat “Can be postponed” and “Must be done” consider what you would normally do first thing. Put “Will blow up the building” stuff first, and then “Will set the entire left wing of the building on fire” next, etc.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          “absolutely must get done that day” – but the reality is, with only one person, that won’t happen. That’s not your fault nor your responsibility. Do what you can and do it well, and let the rest go. Let your boss know what you will be working on, and let him deal with the consequences. You’re stressing over someone else not doing their job: your boss by not allocating adequate resources.

    5. Artemesia*

      Give the boss the 35 tasks in priority order and indicate you will complete as many on the list as you can during the work day and the remainder will have to be done Tuesday.
      If he pushes back then perhaps escalate.

    6. Kristinemc*

      Everyone else has made good suggestions. You say that you can’t even stay late to finish everything – is it possible for you to stay late on Monday and take time off later in the week, since you will have more coverage then?

    7. Mr. Demeanor*

      I’m not trying to be snarky here-will any lives literally be lost if you”fail” to complete all the tasks that are supposed to be done during your 12 hour work shift on Christmas Day? Because that’s kind of the weight you seem to be putting on this. If no one is going to die, or at risk of dying, just plan to work the shift, making time to eat and use the bathroom, and getting done what you can. What isn’t done most likely will be caught up the next day or even the day after that. Your Manager, right or wrong, has given you an answer, move on from there and give yourself permission to stop stressing yourself out even more about it. If everything is going to crash and burn because all is not completed in one day (especially a day which is a Federal Holiday), your company has bigger problems than holiday staffing issues.

      1. KR*

        Yes – your management knows that the work requires more people than they are scheduling. As long as you make it clear (“Of course I won’t be able to do all 35 tasks, so I’m going to focus on these more critical tasks.”) the fault is on them and if they try to pin it on you, just remember your boss is unreasonable and remind them that you let them know exactly which work you would be focusing on.

      2. LCL*

        Mr Demeanor is right. If your work tasks are life threatening if not completed (I’m thinking hospital because you mentioned 12s but there are other professions with life threatening consequences if not completed) then go over your manager’s head. Otherwise, clock in, do your 12s including breaks, and go home at the end of the shift. Make your last task leaving an accurate list of tasks left undone.
        You said you are non exempt, so you can’t stay late. Is your company one of those that believes the earth will stop turning if they have to pay overtime? If that’s the case, that gives you the perfect justification to walk out at the end of your shift. Busting your ass to get everything done off the clock will only contribute further to the breakdown in your working conditions. Or in more modern language, that would normalize their bad behavior.

        1. Overworked*

          Yeah, my department is very cheap about overtime. They are pretending that they’re doing this to allow people to spend time with their families on Christmas, but I suspect that the real reason is because they don’t want to pay the 2.5x holiday pay for a second person. I know of at least two coworkers who would volunteer to work on Christmas for the extra pay, so I don’t buy management’s explanation that they’re trying to be family-friendly.

          As for the work itself, it’s highly unlikely that failing to do it would be life-threatening to anyone, but it is actually important — mainly, it is checking to make sure that there are no life-threatening problems, which normally there aren’t, but there’s a reason I’m required to check anyway.

      3. Overworked*

        This isn’t my actual job (for the sake of anonymity), but it’s of a similar nature: let’s say my job is inspecting airplanes before takeoff. If I don’t get the inspections done, it’s unlikely that anyone will actually die, since usually, everything on the inspection checks out fine, but there’s a reason the company is paying me to do these inspections — because it’s super important that if there’s actually a problem, I find it before takeoff. Plus, the FAA requires it, and even if there’s nothing wrong and the flights take off and land without a hitch, if I miss the inspection, we will be fined.

        1. Cristina in England*

          Maybe focus on the fines, noting that it is not possible to do all 35 inspections. You can do 18, but then 18x fines is probably a hell of a lot more than the overtime of one extra person.

        2. Caro in the UK*

          OK, in this case I think you really need to lay it on the line for your boss. Preferably with a paper trail, because as it currently stands, the work isn’t going to get done and you’re being set up to carry the can for it.

          I’d put together a email (which I’m sure someone can word far better than me!) explaining that what they are asking you to do is not physically possible. Outline what you expect WILL be able get done and list what you simply won’t have time to do. I’d probably be as specific as possible, e.g. “I am scheduled to complete 34 tasks, each of which takes one hour to complete, totalling 34 hours of work, in one 10 hour shift”.

          Then I’d list the consequences/fines etc. to the company for failing to complete those tasks which you won’t be able to complete. And then ask them “Given that it is not physically possible for this workload to be completed by one person in the time available, how would you like to proceed”. Don’t ask them what you should do. Ask them what THEY are going to do. Because this is their problem and they need to acknowledge that.

        3. Meh*

          If there is an actual safety issue then go to your boss and explain the consequences of things not getting done one more time (stressing that you as one person can NOT get it done) with an email for record and if he still blows you off, go above his head and explain that this is a safety issue that could lead to fines to his boss until you get to someone with some sanity. Good luck!

        4. As Close As Breakfast*

          Well, if it’s something like a regulated industry with an FAA-like governing body, would it maybe make sense to escalate this further than you have? Would this maybe be something that should be brought to HR? I mean, using your similar nature example, knowingly scheduling employees such that not all of the FAA required inspections can take place seems like it would be a pretty big effing deal. But having said that, it’s a big deal on your boss and their boss because they are making the staffing choice. Having email record of your concerns like has been suggested is great, but I’d almost want to take a further CYA approach to make sure the ‘big deal’ focus would be kept off of you not finishing the work and on them knowingly under staffing.

        5. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          I would email your boss (paper trail!) and say something to the effect of:

          “I am concerned about the schedule for Christmas Day and the task list that has already started accruing. The company is being setup for failure and fines with the current staffing level for Christmas Day. Of the 35 tasks already listed for completion on that day, X will result in fines if not completed. I can complete Y of the X tasks. It is impossible for 1 person to complete all of X. Bearing in mind that the uncompleted tasks will result in fines, and that it is impossible for 1 person to complete all of the tasks (especially if more get added), how do you want to move forward?”

          1. All Hail Queen Sally*

            Yes, I like being sure to point out the detrimental effect to the company rather than making it personal.

        6. oranges & lemons*

          Is there anyone besides your boss you could ask who is more likely to be reasonable about this? Because it sounds like the boss is in denial and being intentionally unhelpful.

          If not, I would lay it all on the line for the boss very clearly and in writing: I have to do X checks. By myself, I will only be able to do Y, and probably not very thoroughly because the situation is so stressful. There is no possible way for one person to do everything in one day.

          Given the potential seriousness of the situation, if at all tenable, I would personally consider saying flat-out that I refuse to do it. I wouldn’t want to handle the guilt if something went wrong on my watch and caused a disaster.

          1. oranges & lemons*

            Meant to add, this situation seems serious enough to me that I would risk going way above the boss’s head if necessary. The potential consequences here seem much worse than wrecking your relationship with your boss. I’d think higher-ups would be very concerned to know that this is being planned, unless the whole organization is massively disfunctional.

        7. Natalie*

          because it’s super important that if there’s actually a problem, I find it before takeoff.

          So, continuing with your metaphor, in the case of an airplane if it wasn’t inspected it won’t be allowed to fly. So really, not getting all the inspections done won’t kill anyone, it will just make them late. Does something like that happen in your industry, or do they just trust that you do the inspections without bothering to verify?

      4. Cotton Balls*

        I agree. It seems totally unreasonable to expect 1 person to do the job of 5 and expect everything to be done. I know it’s easy for me (us) to say, but if I was Overworked(OP), I would do what I could and take a lunch break and bathroom breaks. If they complain, I would say I told you that all the tasks could not be done by a single person, I asked for another person to work (even for a half day) *and* asked for you to postpone some of the tasks and you refused. I am a single person. I can only do so much.

      5. Fuzzy pickles*

        Overworked might be stressing because the unspoken result of failing is a disciplining or firing. This is what happens with toxic environments. :/

        It’s… unfortunate because you’re right that things may simply not be done… or even more unfortunately, she needs to do illegal, unpaid overtime to get it done.

        Not letting it bother you when you accept reality and your bosses consider it a failure when you do what is possible according to the law of physics is the right answer but I know I wouldn’t feel any better.

        Sorry, Overworked, I’m no help at all in this case.

    8. Dzhymm*

      Super-snark mode here:

      You have nearly a month to find a new job. Start interviewing now. If you get an offer between now and Christmas, wait until Christmas morning then send your boss a cheery message: “Merry Christmas! I Quit!” THEN see how he manages to get those 34 absolutely-critical, someone-will-die, can’t-be-put-off tasks done.

      (I’m reminded of the worker who quit because her boss wouldn’t give her two hours off to attend her graduation; once she quit, how *was* he able to cover that oh so important shift that he couldn’t spare her for?)

    9. Not So NewReader*

      This is not a healthy company. To me it sounds like a failing company. How’s your job search going?

      Your boss seems pretty detached from what is going on.
      You sound like you are well position for making yourself sick over this.
      My suggestion is to push back in a different way.

      From what I read here you are able to give a pretty good guess as to how long each task will take. Take the 34 remaining tasks and give them an estimated time. Total up your estimates. Make sure you use estimates that factor in unforeseens or worst case scenario. Okay so let’s say it totals up to 18 hours of work.

      Logically, this is ridiculous. You are being set up to fail. You can’t do 18 hours of work in 8 hours. You can see the absurdity here. Next, let go of your worry. Your boss has a huge problem. She failed to get enough coverage to get the work done. This looks like, “Boss, TPTB are going to be upset that we did not have enough coverage and the work is incomplete.I know that I will not be able to complete 18 hours work in 8 hours. I know we do not want me doing the illegal thing of working off the clock. That is not an option.” Here you are starting to rope the boss in to the problem by showing how this will become a bigger problem later FOR HER.

      The next step in logic here is that your boss, The Salaried Person, needs to come in and work 10 hours. That would total up to the 18 hours necessary to complete the work. Of course, you can’t say that out loud. All you can do is say,”There is 10 hours worth of work that is not covered by anyone.”

      Point of Desperation. Worst case scenario nothing happens and there you are by yourself on Christmas. Look down the list like you are looking at fires. Pick the biggest fires and work on them. These are the tasks tied to people who scream the loudest and bring on the most misery. Get the screamers out of the way. Next do the tasks with the biggest dollar value, the idea here is to keep the money rolling in for the company. Probably by then it will be time to go home or past time to go home. If not, then start doing some of the short, quick tasks to make it look like you did a lot more work. When they ask why 21 tasks are not done, tell them you ran your butt off to do the 14 that were done.

      The real problem here is that you are on a sinking ship. Christmas is one day. The attitude the company has goes 365 days and that attitude is not a long term plan.

    10. Adlib*

      If everything is absolutely *critical*, how in the world does management justify ONE person working that day? For redundancy alone, two should at least be there. I mean, what if someone gets hit by a bus? Then what? This is a serious question because that’s how unreasonable management is being if people could die and/or go to jail.

    11. HappySnoopy*

      Since this is safety critical and or legal requirements, I’d create a realistic priority/accomplishment list for boss because it is physically impossible for you to do 48 hours of work in one day (1 person doing work of 6 people on 8 hours day). Maybe try to focus on a couple of complete systems if most expensive/dangerous things. If you can add the hours it takes/fine incurred others mention, even better.

      “I plan to complete a-g.
      If there is still time, I will do as much as I can of h-p.
      Q-z will not get done and have to be offline/delayed until there’s resources to do required compliance.
      If you want me to shift any alphabet letters, let me know what you want removed from a-g to make room.

      And I agree with others, see if you can find a new job. This is not your failure, it is management. Good luck!

    12. Tabby Baltimore*

      I hope you will let us know whether you developed a mitigation (i.e., prioritization) strategy per some of the suggestions, and who you approached to talk to about it. Having to talk to someone in authority about a situation like this is *SO* hard, especially if you haven’t had to do it before. Please check back in between now and 25 Dec to let us know how you’re doing in the run-up to this. We will support you, whatever approach you decide to take.

      1. Overworked*

        Thank you (and everyone else who replied)… I am really hoping that I will somehow be able to convince my manager to bring in a second person that day, which would still make for a busy day but be infinitely better than being expected to do it all when I know I can’t. What really annoys me about the situation is that on my last few performance reviews, there have been comments about how I “take on too much work” and “need to ask for help more.” Well, I take on too much work because my manager forces me into this kind of situation, and when I ask for help I don’t get any! (And I can’t prove it, but I have a feeling that this is a gender-specific comment because I don’t think they ever tell a man to “ask for help more.”)

    13. Nerak*

      Your boss sounds like a jerk. I’d call in sick at the last minute (fake a doctor’s note if you think he’ll ask for one) and when people complain, point out that you asked numerous times for someone else to work with you on that day and its your boss’s fault for not having coverage. He seemed to happy to let people have “time with their families” but threw you to wolves. Maybe he’ll have to come in and cover and then realize the impossible job he gave you.

  9. Maswaki*

    Hi Everyone,

    I have great news to share, I’ll try to keep it short and simple. Some background story here – I quit my job on August 11 with nothing lined up, the relationship with my boss became really strained after several episodes of what I felt was disrespectful treatment towards me and three coworkers. Do you recall the letter writer whose boss would text constantly then blow up?

    That letter writer’s situation was my nightmare as well until I quit, my boss did everything in that letter and more. In my case the boss cranked it up a notch or two by introducing an element of spiritual blackmail in her texts on the group. She would occasionally post bible passages/scriptures, asking the team to read, meditate on and pray along with said scriptures. She usually did this after an episode of condescending, rude and openly hostile chats/tantrums to either me or one of my co-workers.

    When I decided to leave I put in the required amount of notice in my resignation and used phrasing from AAM to keep the resignation brief and polite without going into details. My boss (the CEO/business owner) asked me to leave that same day and wrote things intended to hurt on my way out, some of what she wrote was true but most of it wasn’t. I lost it at that point and erupted like a volcano with all the resentment that had built up and was held in from her treatment. Prior to quitting, I was job searching without much success, I received 3 interview invitations but couldn’t make it to any of them because of work related travel.

    Now for my exciting news;
    Fast forward to September after I quit and got an e-copy of Alison’s book ‘How to Get a Job’ during the discount promo. I diligently read the book twice, highlighting portions that really struck a chord with me then putting into practice most of Alison’s advice.

    Between September 25 to November 30, I have been shortlisted for and invited to eight different job interviews. All thanks to you Alison, your book and all the great work you do on AAM. Heartfelt gratitude to the AAM community as well, for insightful/encouraging comments in the comments section.

    What makes me really excited about this is the fact that I live in Lagos, Nigeria (that’s West Africa) and Alison’s book/website, has proved to be extremely relevant in spite of the continent. Prior to getting Alison’s book an older friend of mine who does a bit of HR consulting argued with me, that the book wouldn’t be relevant to the Nigerian setting/environment.

    He was of the opinion that Alison’s blog/book would have significant relevance only in the United States where Alison is based (he checked out AAM after I raved about it) then proceeded to recommend an author from our country, whose work he thought would be more useful to me.

    That recommendation didn’t work well for me and I quickly told him, I’m buying Alison’s book regardless of what you say. I’m glad I did, because I’ve had uplifting results from just following about 60-80% of Alison’s advice and incorporating the wisdom of commenters into my job search.

    A quick summary on all 8 interviews below;
    1. For 2 interviews, I nicely requested a reschedule because I was out of town and couldn’t make it. I never heard back from the employers but I figured, hey if they can’t do you the courtesy of responding to your request with a yes or no, they are not the sort of employer you want to work with. After all you like to be treated with the same courtesy you extend to others, so bullet dodged there.
    2. On 2 other interviews, I politely self selected out of the hiring process when I realized a long commute of about 6 hours daily to and from work, would be involved when I factored in the distance and crazy traffic to be dealt with.
    3. With 1 other interview I also self selected out, because the pre-interview requirements didn’t sit well with me. The recruiter in this case wanted a bank statement, a utility bill to prove my residential address, a fee of $10 (which in my country’s currency is a significant sum of money you can put to good use) and other stuff before you even met with the employer. I thought this was crazy and didn’t bother to show. I have blacklisted that recruiter too.
    4. I’ve been to 2 out of 8 interviews, going as far as the final stage (a 3 stage interview in both cases) and I’m waiting to hear back from the employers.
    5. On the last interview, which held this Wednesday November 29, I was severely put off by the HR lady I decided on the spot I wasn’t going to move forward with her/her company. She seemed breezy and dismissive, acted like my presence was an interruption/distraction. Asked 2 questions only and actually said walk me through your resume I haven’t gone through it…………….I was like WTF??? I asked her you haven’t gone through my resume? While thinking, why invite me to an interview without taking the time to review my resume. The whole conversation lasted about 5 minutes, at the end she said this was just a chat to see if she will move me forward to next stage interviews. I thought to myself this is poor HR practice, a phone chat/interview to screen me, save me time and resources would have been ideal and more appropriate at this stage. Another employer blacklisted.

    I haven’t received any solid offers in writing yet, so I keep applying but from a place of confidence and the power of choice. There are not enough words that I can say to qualify how happy and thankful I am. Everyone makes AAM a fun and educative place to turn to. THANK YOU ALL

    Oh and by the way, I told my friend all things Alison (her book & blog) are indeed universally relevant, even on the Continent of Africa.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      It sounds to me like you are going to find something very soon! I’m glad you got out of your horrible work environment.

    2. Durham Rose*

      Hey best of luck to you! I first found Allison’s blog when I was living in Ethiopia, in general, it is relevant for wherever you are, and you can make cultural adjustments as needed.

    3. Jen RO*

      I think that most of us non-Americans reading the blog can attest to the fact that the core of the advice is universally applicable! Outside of some specific things about employment law and resume writing, Alison’s writing is entirely true in this corner of Eastern Europe.

    4. Femme d'Afrique*

      Hey sister! ;)

      And I agree with you: with a few minor adjustments, Alison’s advice translates very well, regardless of where one is located. This blog has been tremendously helpful and has made me look at hiring/interviewing and everything else from a whole new perspective. Glad I found it!

      1. Maswaki*

        Awww…….I appreciate the good wishes from all of you. @ Femme d’Afrique hey right back at you too, sister. You rightly assumed I was female. Did I give that away in my comment?

        1. Femme d'Afrique*

          You know what? I just re-read your post and no, you didn’t give it away. I guess I… guessed. Oops. Glad I was right though!

  10. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Just a reminder that if you had a letter answered here this year (meaning in a post, not in an open thread), please send me your update — ideally this weekend. December is going to be full of updates!

    (In fact, I have so many that *most* posts in December might be updates. I might just do the daily short-answer posts and fill all the other slots with updates, unless a chorus of people tell me you’d hate that.)

      1. Caledonia*

        I hate that too. Maybe a good compromise would be replacing posts with updates the week before Christmas /post Christmas?

    1. Cristina in England*

      I love updates (LOVE them) but I feel bad that people might not be getting their questions answered. Unless there is a downturn in questions at this time of year?

    2. Fact & Fiction*

      I’m fine with this, too. Love updates and short answers the most anyway, personally, and feel like Alison deserves to take it a little light that month if she has plenty update content to use anyway.

        1. Fact & Fiction*

          You certainly deserve it! I don’t comment as much as some of your regulars — but am trying to do more these days to contribute — but I’ve been a huge AAM fan for years and have learned so much from this site. Being a writer and content producer myself, I know how draining it can sometimes be and we all need creative recharges from time to time!

          Shoot…I have the opposite problem myself now. My fiction career has tanked so much while my content writing career has excelled that I’m struggling to get things going with even wanting to write novels again!

          Anyway, glad you treat yourself to a light December!!!

        2. Prudencep*

          I love updates and, like so many recommendations we see on this site, you need to do what’s right for you too! I can’t imagine how much time you put into this site, so whatever can give you a bit of a break sounds great!

    3. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I LOVE hearing the updates. I always wonder how things worked out for the letter writers.

      1. Broadcastlady*

        The updates are what hooked me on AAM. I read the entire update topic section. Yeah, I’m a nerd. Updates please!

  11. selina kyle*

    Running the dishwasher is the responsibility of a few of us at the end of the day. One of my coworkers will often just leave it without running it when she’s the last one in the office/the one locking up. The problem is, she shuts the dishwasher all the way so in the morning, it looks like it has run. A few of the dishes are clean enough (from being rinsed out, etc) that at least twice I’ve started to put things away before I noticed and had to put everything back in the dishwasher. Not only is it gross but then the next night, it’s almost always bordering on too full.
    The coworker is wonderful otherwise and it doesn’t happen often enough to make a huge deal but it really grinds my gears.
    (This morning I had put away about five glasses before I realized and so I’m a little peevish!)

      1. selina kyle*

        I’ve only been here since September and she’s senior to me so I haven’t been totally sure how to approach it. It’s also not on a regular enough basis that I think of it until it happens again.
        I would be willing to say something if you had any tips!

        1. Laura*

          Oh man, I’d be the worst and talking to someone about this kind of stuff! Are you friendly with her? If you’re the kind of person who can breezily say “Jane, can you put on the dishwasher when you’re the last one out? Thanks!” I’d go for that.

          Oh, if she’s the only other person in the office when you leave, you can casually remind her to put on the dishwasher when she goes.

          Strange that she closes it and doesn’t put it on. Maybe she doesn’t realize what the system is?

    1. Murphy*

      Do you have one of those dirty/clean indicators on the dishwasher? They don’t work if you forget to flip them, but it should tell you if it definitely hasn’t been run.

      1. selina kyle*

        We have a magnet, but in the few months I’ve been here, it has always been on its side between the two options – a Schrodinger’s magnet honestly.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          Maybe get one that has to be physically flipped over, dirty on one side and clean on the other?

          1. selina kyle*

            I just don’t think anyone would use it (aside from me, and even then I can’t guarantee I’d remember!) if they’re not already using the one we have.

            1. zora*

              But if she doesn’t use it, then it will actually work. So, you empty the dishwasher in the morning and flip it to “Dirty”.
              If she leaves without flipping it, it will still be on “Dirty” when you get in, right?
              And then you can run it.

              I think it would work if you use the sign as intended!

        2. Jerry Vandesic*

          If in doubt, run the dishwasher. In the morning, if the dishwasher is full and indicator is not clearly CLEAN, then run the dishwasher without even looking at the dishes.

    2. Artemesia*

      This is one where you are simply going to have to check carefully for clean/dirty before putting dishes away. check carefully and then run it if it hasn’t been run. Stupid, but it is the way to avoid unnecessary issues with a senior person. Not worth wasting an ounce of ‘chips’ on.

      1. selina kyle*

        That’s what I was thinking and it’s nice to have some vindication :)
        It’s frustrating but honestly getting a chance to whine about it here has helped!

      2. Idwafn*

        I agree, if you run it first thing in the morning it could start the discussion about why it’s running in the morning instead of the normal evening schedule.

    3. Sualah*

      I agree I wouldn’t waste “chips” on this, but one thing I might try is:
      1) Stealthily remove the old magnet that no one uses
      2) Stealthily replace it with a more obvious “Clean/Dirty” one, maybe a week later
      3) ONLY IF IT CAN BE DONE CASUALLY, mention that “Oh, look, there’s a new one, that’s so handy!” Not passive-aggressively, not like it’s a new wonder of the world, just like, “Oh, there’s a new coffeepot!” sort of tone.

    4. LCL*

      For home, I bought a thing called a dishwinkle. It’s a little plastic test tube with a clip. Clip it anywhere in the dishwasher it will fit and be seen. When the dishwasher runs, it fills with water. When anyone opens the dishwasher they can see instantly if the dishwasher has been run or not. When the dishwasher is emptied, empty the dishwinkle and put it back in the dishwasher. It takes longer to explain than to put in use.

      This system works for us because the update is done by the process of washing the dishes, it doesn’t require any intervention to flip a magnet sign or leave the door open or leave a note or whatever.

    5. Full Cup*

      My mom has a great trick for knowing if the dishes are clean or dirty. Always keep 1 mug right side up in the dishwasher. It just lives in the dishwasher. In the morning, if the mug is full of water then you know the dishes are clean. After putting the dishes away then empty the mug of water and put the mug back in the dishwasher. Now everyone knows the dishes are dirty. Everyone does need to remember to empty the mug of water when they put the dishes away, but this always seemed to work much better at my house growing up than the magnet on the outside.

      1. selina kyle*

        That is actually really clever. Cabinet space is an issue already so that would be a help thank you so much!

    6. Dawn*

      Why not just skip her entirely? If everyone knows she won’t turn it on, then the last person besides her turns it on. It sounds like it’s loaded throughout the day, so everyone just acts like she’s not even part of the equation. If it’s a noise issue for her then tough, it needs to be done and she won’t do it, so she can deal with it being on while she works.

      1. selina kyle*

        She runs it some of the time just not always – plus there’s a few higher ups who stay a bit after (while she’s still here) and we try to run it with all the dishes so no one has to handwash. Otherwise that’d work!

    7. Yorick*

      I think you could discuss it in a way that makes it about you, especially to ask people to use the magnet properly (this might also help remind her to run the dishwasher before she leaves): “I have a hard time telling if the dishes are dirty or clean, can we all be more vigilant about turning the magnet over after running the dishwasher at night?”

    8. All Hail Queen Sally*

      This was my job at a past office. I would run the dishwasher before I left then the late shift would put their dirty dishes in with all the clean ones. Then I would be accused of forgetting to run the dishwasher, when I knew I had. Grrrrrrr!

    9. Erin*

      I am the dishwasher at my office! The 2 other girls I work with somehow don’t know how to fill a sink & clean their own dishes.

      1. Artemesia*

        I would let every dish in the place stack up and keep a mug at my desk before I would do that. ARen’t you furious?

      2. Bleeborp*

        I am truly confused by people who use the work dishwasher or leave their dishes in the break room- I have dishes, I rinse them off and reuse them and eventually wash them at home as needed. I also happen to think that this kind of domestic stuff doesn’t belong at work- it creates a situation where a few people are washing everyone’s dishes and exerting whatever mental energy and physical energy that is required to maintain the system.

    10. oranges & lemons*

      Is it possible to set the dishwasher to run once everyone’s left? Mine has a delay function.

    11. Old Jules*

      My ex-boss use to write a post it note and post it on the dishwasher when she runs it so people knew when it last occurred. Mostly because the dishwasher has no external indicator that it’s running.

    12. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      Interesting problem. I’m having something similar with a newer co-worker. (She was here before but was just re-hired because of an increased workload.) When she leaves for the day she turns everything off even though she knows I need to use all the equipment for my shift. I didn’t realize this until I needed something in a rush and had to wait for the systems to get up to speed. It’s not accidental, it has happened every single day that I followed her shift. Now as soon as I come into work the first thing I do is set everything up again. It’s seems minor but it’s very irritating.

      1. HappySnoopy*

        Maybe she used to work a last shift or when things were slower or in a different role and thinks that’s [still] the protocol?

        It may be worth saying something to her or ask boss for general reminder that equipment should be remain powered on until end of teapot making third shift and turned back on at first teapot shift.

  12. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    How is it December already? I am baffled. On the one hand, I could swear it was just Halloween yesterday. On the other hand, we’ve been in RMD/tax season for 6 weeks and it feels like it’s been forever. My sense of time is destroyed.

    1. WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot*

      RMD season can give me such anxiety! Always worried there will be one client we forget!

    2. Athena*

      Re: “December already” – my brain, apparently in horror at how fast the year has gone, kept tripping me up yesterday with “it’s definitely June 2014” “brain, it really isn’t” “WELL IT SURE CAN’T BE DECEMBER 2017, THAT IS MADNESS”

  13. One of Santa’s elves*

    My company has a holiday shutdown where we close for the days between Christmas and the New Year; employees are required to use their PTO for these days. My department requires coverage (2-3 people) for the shutdown. Usually we have volunteers and no one is forced to come in when they would rather be off. Whoever works during that time will not need to use their PTO (of course.)

    Am I wrong in thinking there should be a greater reward for the employees who work during the shutdown? Time and a half, double time, or comp time?

    Before anyone says I have a sense of entitlement, I’m not working during the shutdown. I just think my coworkers should be rewarded for their effort.

    1. selina kyle*

      I’m torn because in a way they get to save their PTO, but those are also crappy days to work. I do think extra pay or maybe provided lunch would make it a little more palatable.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I mean, throwing lunch at three people for a week isn’t going to break the company’s back and would buy a lot of goodwill. I’d do that, if I were the manager.

      But I actually don’t think folks need extra compensation for that week. Everyone else is forced to use their PTO — even if they’d prefer to use it another week — so your colleagues are just… not using PTO.

      1. Lala*

        Lunch provided would be a really nice way to show that volunteering to work those days to provide coverage is appreciated. It’s the sort of thing I don’t think anyone would begrudge, and it should be easy enough to do.

    3. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

      Does local law say something about compensation? As my first job included working with people living abroad I was required to work all my holidays (Christmas Eve and New Years Eve too), so I was compensated with double pay for those days.

      1. Ella*

        Same. Unless the company is like, “You have to use your PTO for this, and we realize that that sucks, so we give you four weeks of PTO per year to try and balance things out.” But something tells me that they probably don’t do that.

    4. CAA*

      Do they get the actual holidays off, or do they have to work on Christmas and New Year’s Day? If they are just choosing to work from the 26th to the 29th of December, then I don’t think they should get anything extra. A lot of people want to work those days, because it’s so quiet and you can be so much more productive. If they are having to work on the two actual holidays, then I’d be more inclined to do something, but what to do depends on whether they’re exempt or not — an extra day of PTO of exempt, double-time if non-exempt. Also, if you’re having trouble getting volunteers, then that would be another reason to throw in a sweetener like an extra day of PTO.

      Of course they should never be put in a position where they’d lose their PTO, so if your company has a “use it or lose it” policy, then the ones who are volunteering to work the last week of the year should get priority on their requests to use their days earlier in the year, or else they should be allowed to carry them over to next year.

    5. CheeryO*

      I think getting to save the PTO is reward enough. I assume they’re pretty slow, easy days, since you have people actively volunteering to come in. I know I’d rather come in and work between Christmas and New Year’s and save my PTO for another time of year.

    6. Goya*

      I think a little extra pay would not be amiss…especially if you have a hard time finding volunteers. If there are several people who volunteer regularly though, it may be worth it enough to use the PTO days when they have stuff planned instead of now.

    7. Jake*

      I’d fight to work! Forcing me to take pto when my friends will be busy with family or working would feel very unfair and more like a punishment than anything else since i now can’t use those days when they’d be useful for me.

      I think there are enough folks in my situation that you don’t need to create any additional incentive.

    8. CanadianHR*

      We are shutting down our manufacturing facility from December 25th – 29th year, but a few people will have to work. We are giving them gift cards to thank them.

    9. Bacon Pancakes*

      Please tell me that no one is actually working on Christmas Day!!?? That person deserves at least double time.

    10. EasilyAmused*

      I worked in the movie industry at a well known company that had the policy to give everyone that week off fully paid but “subject to production needs”. Well, the show I was working on decided everyone had to work that week while the others in production gave their artists the time off. So those of us who had to work were being paid exactly the same as those who had the week off (actually, probably more since I was chronically underpaid during that career but that’s another subject). I was furious.

      I think as long as people are being paid fairly, it’s ok though, as someone else suggested, buying lunch for the people working would be a nice gesture.

  14. I'm A Little TeaPot*

    This week has been a rollercoaster. I’ve posted before about looking for a new job, and I found one and got through background, etc.

    Cliff notes of the issues with current job: manager is alternately micromanage-ey and unavailable when you need her, then when you do something perfectly reasonable, tells you that you should have checked with her first. Her written communication style reads as hypercritical and disapproving, even though I know she doesn’t intend it that way. Parts of my work require intense manager involvement/review, and she regularly doesn’t do this timely. By the time she gets around to it, it’s the last minute and becomes a frantic effort to make the changes. Then she tells you not to be so frantic (WTF? You made massive changes to the document half an hour before I have to present it to the VP! I gave the damn thing to you 2 days ago!). While this particular combination is annoying and frustrating for my coworkers, turns out that it’s toxic to me. While I like her as a person, as a manager she’s a disaster for me.

    Monday this week I gave notice at work. It was exhausting and somewhat emotional. (The smoke detector deciding to start chirping at 1am about low battery didn’t help with any of it.) I was honest about why I was leaving, and it seems some of the strain I’ve been under this year showed, which surprised me

    I’ve been assured by both my manager’s boss and grandboss (various flavors of director) that they will be doing coaching and other things to address the problems. The grand boss told me that he’d been planning to move around the manager assignments so it wasn’t so siloed, as well as moving some managerial tasks around to rebalance workloads. All of which is great and should really help next year, but I didn’t think it would be enough, fast enough, to fix me. He also told me that he would wait to start anything until after my last day “to avoid causing me any more stress”. Holy crap, what a day for my poker face to take a vacation! This guy is gruff, blunt, and bad with people’s emotions. I think I made an impression, and I really didn’t mean to.

    They didn’t really push to try to get me to stay, which is not the MO for them. I was told very specifically that if I ever want to return, I just have to say the word. It’s one thing for your employee to tell you that they’re getting more money or a promotion, and quite different for them to say they’re leaving because they feel un-trusted and incompetent due to the mgmt style on a near daily basis and are going to the exact same job but somewhere else. Especially when it’s one of your high performers who has performed very well under high pressure on multiple occasions. I got promoted earlier this year, and another director who I work with (but not in my reporting line) hinted that I had been on the promotion list for 2018. (For context, it usually takes 2-3 years to go between these levels.) So clearly, they think I’m good. What a pity my manager had to convey the opposite impression.

    The VP found out I resigned during a regular meeting of senior leadership, he is not happy. After all, he’s got a team of 12 losing 2 experienced staff in the space of 2 weeks (my coworker’s last day was yesterday, he’s just as good as I am though we have different strengths). This puts a major project in jeopardy, plus various other things I do.

    Tuesday, after a good night’s sleep (with no smoke detector chirping!), I talked to my manager and it went really well. I like her personally, it’s just the work stuff that is such a problem. We’re focusing on transitioning my work and me wrapping up what I can. I’ve got fingers in a lot of pies, so it’ll be complex even transitioning.

    Over lunch on Tuesday, the email went out that I was leaving. This is where it gets weird. The entire department is pissed I’m leaving. Like, staff, managers, directors, VP, everyone. Top to bottom, bottom to top. People from different states, other teams. All of them. I had all but one of the directors pull me into their office to try to get me to stay, the last one wasn’t in the office. Multiple managers/directors offered to put me on their teams. The manager I really like told me she feels bad she didn’t realize how bad it was (she’s in another state, and I haven’t really worked with her all year, why should she know?). I overheard a conversation between 2 mgrs about how they’re going to tell the business areas (I’m in internal audit), I wasn’t supposed to hear that one! Apparently half the damn company loves me, even the people I’ve been giving findings to left, right and center. The 2 directors on my team were out of town until Thursday for a conference.

    Very interestingly, everyone NOT in my department and all the staff level people with more than a year or 2 of experience seems to know WHY I’m leaving, without me saying anything. I just keep saying I need a change, and they’re like, “is it her?”

    And this is where I went off the rails.

    Tuesday night after I got home, I started getting really upset. In retrospect, I think I had a minor panic attack, hyperventilated some, and generally had a breakdown. With no one around, or having a clue what was happening. I honestly thought that mgmt knew I was unhappy, but they didn’t care. There have been several specific incidents this year that someone SHOULD have checked in with me, and they didn’t. And I talked to them a couple times, got short term help but no long term fix. It appears, based on everyone’s reaction to my leaving, that they really didn’t get it (willful blindness?), and I couldn’t process that contradiction. Tuesday night I got 2 hours sleep, then got up for work on Wednesday. I take a train to work, and I spent the whole train ride in crying.

    Clearly, when you’re crying and can’t stop, you should not go to work. Instead, in my very unstable state, I texted the manager that I like at work (used to report to her). She of course was im’ing the director, because I really am a high performer and if there’s a chance I’m going to change my mind and stay, they’re good with that. Remember, I’m crying uncontrollably on the train (that is my only excuse, I was NOT rational, I texted my sister too and don’t remember that). Once the train got in, I hid in the bathroom at the train station for a bit, then got the actually good idea to text a friend in a different department. There’s an underground route from the station to the building, so I got in the basement without really being seen. My friend met me downstairs in a secluded corner.

    Friend didn’t expect that I’d be in that state, but she really rose to the occasion. She got me calmed down, so instead of crying uncontrollably I was just a little teary. Much more manageable in public! Friend helped me text in that I was taking the day off, and looked up the train schedule for me. Basically, she took my phone, deleted what I’d written, wrote something much better and sent it, then grabbed the train schedule from me because I was really not functional. Then she told me to go home, eat something, and go to bed. Which I did, amazingly. When I woke up, my sister picked up the thread of helping put me back together (once she figured out what was going on), then sent me back to bed again.

    By Thursday I had recovered somewhat. Was still a little short of sleep, but I was calm. However, it really was a fragile calm, and some people that know me fairly well were able to guess something was wrong. But I held it together. Since I’d texted a member of management, I had to deal with that. Texted the manager again, basically “sorry, I didn’t handle a short night well at all. much better now after sleep.” And had to talk to the director (again!), reaffirming that yes, I’m leaving. Because if this job made me have a mental breakdown, I really need to leave. Believe me, I didn’t need that stress. But I managed ok.

    At this point, I’m being very careful to take care of myself. For whatever reason, I had a ton of stress crash down on me all at once causing me to completely lose it, and that has never happened before. I’m trying to make sure that I get enough sleep and eat enough (not easy, I lose my appetite when I’m highly stressed).

    One more week. I can manage that. Then I have a week off before the new job starts.

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      Sounds like you’ve definitely made the right decision in leaving. Best of luck, and be gentle with yourself.

    2. StrikingFalcon*

      Oof that’s rough. Panic attacks are the worst, especially when you’re not familiar enough with them to recognize what they when they first start. I’m glad you have a week off before you start the next job!

    3. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      Yeah, it’s been rough. I’m still quite fragile, and it’d be easy to push me completely off balance. I’m hanging in there though.

    4. Fact & Fiction*

      Oh dear. I feel for you! I had a near breakdown at a previous job and spent 24 hours unable to sleep or shut my panicked brain down. So glad I got out of that job. This is the right thing for you, it sounds like. Be gentle with yourself!

      I’m so glad your work friend and sister took such excellent care of you.

    5. Not a Morning Person*

      Another thought along with well wishes for you in your new organization!
      One of the recurring themes on AAM is that as long as an employee is doing the job and doing it well, managers don’t rock the boat. They just really don’t think about their employees in that way and assume that as long as the work is getting done and there’s no big drama, then they have other important things to attend to. Grand-bosses rarely see how the managers below them actually manage. They only see the results. And if you have been able to use your poker face, then you’ve been managing, maybe hanging on by a thread, but managing enough that the people who could have done something were not as aware of how difficult your situation was for you. And the longer those people have worked with your manager, the more they see her behavior as normal. The newer people see her more accurately as dysfunctional because they haven’t been around long enough to become jaded by her behavior.
      Perhaps some of your emotion is also coming from grief. Even though you know it is the right thing to do, it’s a change and you are wishing that things could have been different. You were/are respected by others at that organization, but until you were actually leaving, no one spoke up to say how much they valued you and your work. That won’t make up for your manager’s behavior and treatment of you. You need to get away and start fresh.
      And, of course, your lack of sleep made everything exponentially harder. Be gentle with yourself. And go and approach your new job with enthusiasm. It will work out!

      1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

        There’s a lot of truth here. I don’t REALLY want to leave, I have to. It’s best for me right now. I can’t come back from this, especially not after this week. And my leaving is truly going to hurt my coworkers, at least in the short term. I’m not worried about mgmt, they deserve some pain because they didn’t pay attention. But I am feeling guilty about my coworkers.

        I don’t think they realize yet how much they rely on me for certain things.

    6. Anon for this*

      You might consider visiting your doctor while you’re off, just to say that this happened and ask if it is appropriate to have a prescription for ativan or xanax if a panic attack ever happens again.

      Been there.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      Sometimes it’s like that when you don’t really *want to leave* but feel you have to leave a place you otherwise like due to poor management of other things. You can only stick it out for so long. Give yourself a break, and please TAKE SOME TIME OFF in-between your next job to decompress.

      1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

        I’ve got a week between jobs. And that’s exactly what it is. I don’t want to leave, I have to. This management style is really hurting me, and it’s one person.

    8. Windchime*

      The description of your breakdown nearly made me cry. That’s how I felt near the end of my employment with my old job. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t sleep, all I could do is cry and cry and cry. Like you, I had a sister to help take care of me until I could pull myself together.

      You are doing the right thing to leave. My job was similar in that they also didn’t care until I left, and only then was something done to correct the problem with the terrible manager.

      Take care. There are jobs with kind, caring, and sane management teams out there and I hope that you will have better luck with the next one.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Oh god, so very sorry.

      I had one job where I got sick in the process of leaving it also. I had a 9 week long migraine after I left. Nothing I took helped the headache. I finally decided that it was because of my thinking and emotions. I landed on the idea that I let the job mean too much to me. I was more invested in the job than my employer was invested in me. The headache dissipated as I moved on to the next thing in my life.
      This may or may not describe what you saw in your own setting, however my overall point is that in the near future you will feel a bit calmer than you have been. Use that calmer time to figure out what you would do differently going forward. I decided that I was too attached to the job and the place and I needed to watch that, not let it become a habit. The other thing I decided was that I needed to insist on more from employers and learn to insist/ask in appropriate ways. I would not give and give and give and allow myself to get totally drained.

      I hope your next place is a good one and a very different experience for you.

  15. Yep... it's me again*

    Does anyone have any suggestions for journals/ planners that are good for goal setting in both a personal AND professional capacity? I am trying to work on some self-development project for next year and would like something that functions as a step by step guide.

    1. Goya*

      I don’t know if this will work for you, but I’m a big fan of Microsoft OneNote. It’s not really a “planner” but allows a lot of self creation to set things up how you’d like. It has app and computer access, so I can use it on the my phone or when I’m at my desk. I have several “notebooks” created for different aspects of my life and find it super easy to organize my thoughts with.

    2. Rainy*

      I use a PassionPlanner and I think it’s great. There’s a bunch of goal mapping stuff in it, but on every week-by-week page there’s a spot for a professional and a personal checklist that I find EXTREMELY helpful.

      1. Montresaur*

        Whoa, thank you for Passion Planner. I had no idea this existed, and had been jerry-rigging something similar in a standard notebook. Fun, but a little inefficient for me. Shopping now!

    3. Curious Cat*

      Panda Planners are really quite incredible! A little bit pricey (in the $30 range), but very detailed and great for prioritizing. Have you also every considered creating a bullet journal? You can spend hours going down the bullet journal rabbit hole on Pinterest, but the beauty is getting to create a journal totally from scratch just the way you like it. They’re a little time consuming, but if you have the time available, definitely recommend!

    4. galfromaway*

      Bullet journal.
      You can set it up as you like, with whatever sections/functions you like. There are lots of FB groups you can look to for guidance and advice, and tons of stuff on Pinterest. Just don’t let all the info and ideas overwhelm you. A good friend of mine does one for personal, and one for professional, while others combine the two.

  16. Matilda Jefferies*

    I’m going to move the ADHD discussion over here from the other thread – if I remember correctly, there are quite a few people here who have it!

    I got a formal diagnosis and medication in September, and the meds have made a HUGE difference in my life. Particularly when it comes to work – now I can actually sit down at my desk, plan out my day, and do it! It’s really incredible how much I have been able to get done in the past three months, compared to the past three years at this job. I haven’t disclosed the diagnosis to my manager or colleague, but I’m hoping that they’ll see the difference in my increased productivity and attention to detail.

    Favourite resources, which I also mentioned in the other thread: ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life by Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau, and Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin.

    How’s everyone else doing? Managing, or not managing your ADD at work? What’s the best thing you have learned, or the thing you most want to learn?

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Out of curiosity, how much trouble has getting the meds consistently been for you? My understanding is that most (if not all) ADHD meds are schedule 2, with really strict controls on how they’re dispensed. Has that been complicated?

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        I’m in Canada, so it might be different here. But I’ve had no trouble at all. Both my GP and my specialist have been able to write the script, and I’ve just walked into the pharmacy and filled it. I think there was some sort of warning that the pharmacy might need to see ID, but they have never actually asked for it (possibly because it’s the same pharmacy I use all the time?)

      2. Judy (since 2010)*

        My son was on ADHD medications for a while. We had to have a paper script from his specialist. They would mail it for $2, but my retired mother in law lives pretty close to the doctor’s office and would drop it at the pharmacy for us. Always had to be a paper copy, no electronic or call in, no refills. Luckily our office had an internet portal, so I could request it in the evening. We needed at least 24 hour notice for the script, which had to be picked up between 9 & 4.

        When the medicine was picked up at the pharmacy, you had to show a driver’s license, but it was ok for anyone to pick it up, they just wanted records.

        Certainly not as easy as refilling my asthma medicines, but we made it work. I’m glad we are done with it, though.

    2. The Ginger Ginger*

      Can I ask a related question on this?
      I’ve suspected for a while that I may have adult ADD, but it has seemingly been getting worse in the last 12 months or so. Is that…a thing? Is it variable like that?

      And, how would I go about getting a diagnosis? Do I start by talking to my normal doctor, or would I need to see a therapist? I feel overwhelmed just thinking about, and it’s contributing to a serious case of inertia (i.e. I’m having trouble even starting the process). The research fatigue is real :/

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        Probably! I’m no expert (really, really not an expert – please talk to your doctor!), but I can say that mine definitely gets worse when I have other stressors going on in my life. Work, family, whatever – if all I were doing were sitting on a beach in Jamaica, I’m sure my ADD wouldn’t be a problem at all!

        And I totally get the “inertia leads to more problems leads to more inertia” cycle. It took me years to get to this point. My therapist was the one who first suggested the possibility, but she can’t make a diagnosis, so I had to go to my regular doctor and get a referral. I would do the same in your case – start by talking to your GP, and see where it takes you. Good luck. <3

      2. NLMC*

        I was diagnosed and started taking meds when I was 27 or 28. I started the convo with my primary care and he required me to see a counselor prior to giving me meds. It was life changing especially at work.
        I quite taking them when I was trying to get pregnant and never picked them back up once I quit breast feeding. I really miss them, but my dr always made me feel a bad about taking them as an adult. He continually said things like, well we don’t normally medicate adults and made me feel like I was just trying to pop pills. I honestly would rather not take them but they helped so much. I’m pregnant again and will hopefully get the nerve to ask again once I’m done BFing this child.

        1. Jules the Third*

          Please do – you deserve to function at your best.

          A close friend of mine is struggling with getting a prescription. She’s had one for several years, and now that she’s off, it’s a huge difference and not in a good way.

        2. The Ginger Ginger*

          Also – maybe find a different doctor? Because life is too short and health is too important to be seeing a doctor who a) belittles you b) discounts your account of your own systems and c) thinks adults don’t need add meds? That is absolutely a normal thing! It’s one thing if you don’t want to take them and ask for strategies to make that possible, but to dismiss your stated need like that? Rude doctor is rude. You shouldn’t have to nerve up to ask your own doctor to give you legitimate and needed medical treatment.

      3. Recently Diagnosed*

        Hi The Ginger Ginger. I just recently was diagnosed with adult ADD and have gotten medicine that helps tremendously. I was already seeing a therapist, who screened me and told me to approach my family doctor. The doctor didn’t even need the evaluation my therapist sent over. He asked me a few questions, felt out my situation, and I had the medicine that day. My husband had a harder time. He suffers from several different mental illnesses and due to this, he had to have a full diagnostic screening, which took longer to complete. However, both of us have had consistently easy times since the initial diagnosis staying treated.

    3. Lynca*

      Not managing my ADHD well at all. I was diagnosed as a child. I don’t take meds but I’m getting to the point that once I’m through my pregnancy, I need to talk to my doctor about it if it doesn’t improve. I’m usually pretty on top of things but I struggling more now with feeling overwhelmed by basic tasks, then when I was a kid. Not sure how much of it is pregnancy related so I’m letting discussions of it go until later so I can better assess it.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        Oh, wow – it’s like a perfect storm of things working to take away your executive function and focus. I hope things get better once the baby is born! When are you due?

        1. Lynca*

          I didn’t mention it but the conference we have been planning has been a default second unpaid job on top of our actual jobs and I hope that’s more of the source of the problem. Which should be over in a week. So that’s why I want to take a wait and see approach. It may get much better in 2 weeks. I’m hoping that is the case.

          The baby is due in June. And work is just so happy and supportive about it.

      2. peachie*

        Meds aren’t for everyone, of course, but I do think you should consider them. This is just my experience, but I could not get my life in order AT ALL, despite nearly constant effort, until I started taking medication regularly about a year or two ago.

    4. peachie*

      Oh boy, ADHD in an office environment is a doozy.

      I have so many thoughts about this, but one of the most important is identify your sources of guilt and anxiety, and plan ways to prevent them. Anecdotally, this is a big thing with ADHD folks–something goes wrong or gets missed because we’re disorganized and forgetful, and this turns into a horrible guilt spiral where the thing never gets done because doing the thing will remind other people that you haven’t done the thing yet. (Just me?)

      Some examples:
      I felt a lot of guilt about not answering emails on time and constantly having voicemail to check, so I established a “no email in the box” rule for the end of the day.

      I frequently missed deadlines for recurring but irregular (ex, not on the same day) projects, so I set up a double reminder system to keep that from happening. (One of the reminders I use the most is the Outlook “delay delivery” function–if something needs action but not right now, I immediately forward it to myself and set it to be delivered the day it needs to be done at a time when I’ll be at my desk.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        the thing never gets done because doing the thing will remind other people that you haven’t done the thing yet. (Just me?)

        Woah, you just described like half of my working life. Definitely not just you!

    5. Polaris*

      I’m getting tested for ADHD in January. I have anxiety and depression, as well, so I’m worried that even if diagnosed I won’t be able to take medication to improve it – they often don’t play well together. But I’d like to know if my various attention/memory issues have some root cause behind them.

      1. peachie*

        Necessary caveat that I’m only speaking from personal experience, but I have been able to take both in all sorts of combinations and have been taking pretty high doses of both for about two years. It’s worth looking into! Honestly, in a lot of ways, the ADHD meds helped me manage my depression much better than the antidepressants did.

      2. Recently Diagnosed*

        Hi Polaris. My husband suffers from severe depression and anxiety, both social and general. He was placed on Ritalin for his ADHD, and it has helped literally every aspect of his mental health. With his focus improved, he has fewer triggers for his anxiety and depression. The medication CAN interact poorly, but please know that this is not a guarantee and, like all medication, may take a little tinkering with types and dosages, which you’ll know if you are on medication for depression already. Good luck, and improvement is on the horizon!!

        1. JaneB*

          I’m in the UK and both my GP and the therapist I see privately for my anxiety & depression say that adult ADD doesn’t exist.

          From reading here & researching further, I’m about 95% sure I have it – and it co- occurs with high anxiety. So I don’t know what to do now (although I am reading the recommended books…)

          1. thecheapshot*

            I don’t know if you’re getting notifications from comments but just in case – UK adult here going through the process of getting diagnosed with ADHD very much right now and I don’t have a childhood diagnosis.

            You need your GP to refer you to the secondary mental health team in your area. They will have ADHD specialists who can evaluate you. It’s super difficult because of mental health funding being slashed – your GP is likely to not want to refer you because of the money so you have to be either lucky like me to get a GP whose pet interest is adult ADHD or go private. I’m also a bit ahead of the game as I have a current misdiagnosis which although wrong, does get me a referral quickly when I need one.

            Biggest tip I can give you (if you can’t afford to go private or can’t change NHS GP) is melt down in your GP’s office. Not pretty and not dignified but mental health funding in the UK at the moment is in such a state that unless you present psychotic or suicidal or on the edge of a nervous breakdown, they’re going to give you SSRIs, 6 weeks of DBT and a pat on the head. Anything approaching high functioning is basically ignored.

            Write down a big list of why you think you have it, read that list out through tears and basically refuse to leave until they refer you. Say you can’t cope, that it’s affecting work and relationships. It’s horrible and tough and if you’re anything like me, you’re going to feel like you’re making a massive fuss over nothing and you’re a fraud but you are not – you have legitimate concerns and deserve to live a complete life free of symptoms.

            Good luck!

            1. Wanna-Alp*

              Alternative: try a different GP at your practice. See if a different one will help you. My (UK) GP does believe it exists, although he did mention it was difficult to get referrals/diagnosis for.

      3. Matilda Jefferies*

        Yep, thirded. My doctor said that lots of people can actually go off their antidepressants altogether, once the ADHD is under control. I’ve been on antidepressants for a couple of years now, but the ADHD meds have made a big difference even on top of that.

        She also said something interesting about anxiety. Apparently anxiety itself is a stimulant, which lights up whatever centres in our brain are missing due to the ADHD. In other words, we actually create anxiety as a way of soothing the ADHD, by providing the extra stimulation we need! It’s wild. So once the ADHD is under control, we don’t need the extra stimulation, and can stop winding ourselves up with those thoughts of “Everything in the world is wrong and it’s all my fault!”

        Brains, amirite? Fascinating stuff.

        1. SRB*

          Woah. This explains my anxiety and why I keep finding, almost searching for, things to be anxious about.

          I have been told by therapists (who don’t have prescribing ability) that I am a textbook case of inattentive type ADHD. I’m going in next week for a referral to someone who can say whether or not medication would be helpful, because I have all sorts of really great coping mechanisms I’ve developed with my therapist that just. Aren’t. Working. Lately. I have reminder alarms to do things, borderline ocd tendencies to put things in the same places so I dont lose them, pomodoro timers to keep me on tasks, I shut down my email and buried my shortcuts to Chrome and IE, installed chrome apps that nuke my internet browser if I spend more than 10 minutes goofing off…

          And somehow I’m still making comments on AAM during work hours. Curse you braaaaaain!!!

      4. Chaordic One*

        One thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of people with ADHD learn to manage their symptoms by self-medicating with tobacco or alcohol or drugs or something else. Counseling in combination with prescription meds to replace whatever they were self-medicating with almost always helps.

    6. SRB*

      I have a window open w those books on amazon and I am going to order them (provided I don’t forget!!!) I’m not sure if I’m just more aware of it lately, more fed up with it, or if my ADHD is actually worse lately.

      Ive got a lot of strategies I’ve developed with my therapist, which help like 35% but not 100%.
      – even with friends, if I say “I’ll do X”, I pull up my note pad on my phone and write it in. This has reduced my number of forgotten promised from 80% to like 50%
      – if I’m in a restaurant with TVs, I position myself facing away from any tv. If there is no such spot, I make a note to never go back. This has reduced my “zone out and stare at TVs while having a romantic conversation w my husband” incidents from 100% of restaurant dinners to like 40%
      – “keys, check, cell phone, check, wallet, check, ok now I can leave”. I’ve only locked myself out of the house and had to climb in the back window once this year!!’
      – Stayfocused Google chrome extension. I’ve used “the nuclear option” every day this week. I still find some way to get distracted from my work though.

      Does anyone have strategies for finding lost items… that you share with a non ADHD person? My keys have two rings: car keys and house keys. Sometimes my husband borrows the car keys (we only have one) and I inevitably ALAWYS lose one or the other when this happens. I can’t exactly impose my same rigid “always keep keys together and always put them on the hook” rule with him.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        I think you can impose that rule on him, actually! I’m assuming he knows that you have ADHD, so it’s perfectly reasonable to explain to him that this is a strategy you need to use.

        The Kolberg & Nadeau book has three sections for each type of organizational challenge – things you can do yourself, things your family can help you with, and things that professionals should help you with. They’re pretty clear that we need help in all kinds of ways, and this is one really obvious example of that. If you need the car keys on the hook, and he’s the one holding the car keys, he needs to help you by putting them away where you need them.

        1. SRB*

          So I had forgotten about buying the books because I had to drive home but then was in the middle of feeding the kitties when I decided to check my phone and now I’m glad I did because I definitely will buy this book.

          Anyways I’ll ask. I guess I just feel bad asking him to do it every time when even I don’t always remember to do it. (Sometimes the kitties are just so friendly when I walk in the door and I just put everything on the floor to pet them!) :3

  17. Q*

    Yesterday was the first time I was the only person on my team in the office….I have by far the lowest sneiority here (five months, when the next lowest person on my team of three has been here seven years doing this job).

    I kinda…loved it? We were a little too busy for one person, but I think I handled things pretty well in their absence, and the autonomy and ability to make my own decisions (within reasons) about what of our many priorities to do and in what order, was fun. Being that busy was fun (since few things were critical). Having people come to me and feeling valuable for the first time was fun.

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      Me too, I love being alone in the office. I sometimes still have the feeling of a little kid who is home alone without her parents, but mostly it makes me feel like “Hey, I’m an adult, and other adults trust me to do adulty things!”

      1. Q*

        Hah, the department was actually full (the department is made of about three or four teams, of which mine is definitely one of the smaller ones). It was just my two teammates who were out.

        But yeah, it was really nice to know I was trusted to handle things while everyone was gone. and I think I did a pretty decent job!

        Of course, team lead is back today (the other person is still out), so there was only so much pressure, of course.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      I love being alone in the office! I was the only person last week in an area that seats about 30 people so I decided to do a cartwheel in our bullpen. Thank god I was alone because it was not my best idea and I fell over in slow motion and looked really ridiculous.

      1. Q*

        Everyone kept asking me how it felt to be the only Teapot Tester. Not sure how to say “I love it!” without sounding like I don’t like the other two Teapot Testers. But I got to delegate my own work, and got to try out some things that the more senior ones usually take care of without even looping me in about them.

    3. Goya*

      I love my alone days in the office. Because it’s generally scheduled in advance, they are slow days. I feel like I get so much more done and feel like I can make a more personal connection with the few people who come in that day.

    4. Dawn*

      I had a boss that was an alcoholic, and my only coworker was his best friend and also an alcoholic, I loved the days that they’d both be too hungover to come to work. I would get so much done! It was also a perk that they drank at the bar that I worked nights at and my boss hated leaving his BMW there so he’d have me take it home instead of my Hyundai. At the end of my day I’d go pick him up and he’d take me to my car/ second job. Loved that job! The company ultimately dissolved, but it was an excellent 5 years for me.

    5. BA*

      The first time me and other newbie got left in the office all day, the last more senior teapot tester kept asking “are you sure you’re ok” and insisted on giving us 3 different phone numbers. He stopped when I told him he was like a parent leaving a baby with a babysitter the first time. (Not offended, just embarrassed)

      The other newbie and I had been teapot testers for about 4 years a piece, we were experienced, just new to the office.

      1. Q*

        Senior Teapot Tester sent me an email yesterday morning checking in on me and CCing our manager, which prompted HIM to check on me.

        But I was doing fine!

        (But I have only been here five months, and it was the first time I was the only Teapot Tester)

    6. Annie Moose*

      At OldJob, I (the least senior person by a few years) was basically the only person on my team who didn’t take Fridays off, so I was frequently the only person around on Fridays. It was lovely! We had a rotating responsibility to monitor our team inbox, so I’d take over responsibility from whoever’s week it was for the day, if anything major came in, and so on. There usually wasn’t much happening, but still, it felt nice to be like, I am the team today, I’m representing us.

  18. Cafe au Lait*

    I’m out on maternity leave and checked the rolling meeting notes document yesterday to stay in the loop. All the ideas I’d put in motion before I left have changed trajectory from what I envisioned. The individuals handling these projects are capable, smart and life will be fine. At the same time, mentally I’m yelling “BUT MY IDEAS!!!”

    1. Goya*


      I too have a hard time of letting go of my work, even though it’s off to individuals who will do fine…just not MY way ;)

  19. Fortitude Jones*

    Today’s my last day at work! So happy to start my new job Monday. However, I must admit, I’m going to miss my colleague’s – they almost made me cry this morning. One of the manager’s took me to Starbucks and let me buy whatever drink I wanted on him (this is important because he loathes Starbucks with a passion and refuses to spend money there, but he knows how much I love it, so he decided to treat me on my last day). My team’s about to take me to lunch at my favorite restaurant, which isn’t cheap (thanks, corporate cards!). And one of my coworkers gave me the sweetest going away speech that nearly brought me to tears. I’m going to miss these fools, LOL. I will not, however, miss our agents or our insureds or their crazy ass customers. I am soooo happy to be getting away from them.

    The SVP of our corporate office sent me a sweet email last week telling me I’m always welcome to come back – ha! He probably didn’t find out about my exit interview answers yet, lol. I almost feel guilty about ripping them a new one…almost.

  20. anon for today*

    I’ve got an interview outfit question. I’m a women interviewing at a place that from what I can tell is business casual (it’s a state branch of a large national nonprofit). I have very limited time, very few things in my closet that currently fit, and budget wise- well I’m job hunting for a reason. I have a black pencil skirt and several nice blouses, and was hoping to get a blazer to go with it. The only blazer I have been able to find is black, but the blacks don’t match. Which would be better: the non matching black blazer, or ditching it for a button up and nice cardigan?

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        I agree, don’t wear mismatched blacks. The cardigan and nice blouse should be fine. Good luck on your interview!

    1. Anon Marketer*

      You can also wear a dress if you have one and wear the blazer over that, which helps solve some of the mis-matched black problems (so long as the dress isn’t navy blue).

      But if you’re forced in between the two, choose the cardigan.

      Good luck! :)

      1. peachie*

        This is what I would do! Then again, I’m such a blazer person, even on my off days–cardigans are totally appropriate, and if that seems more “you,” that’s what you should do.

      2. anon for today*

        I had the dress idea, and while I don’t own one I was willing to buy if I could find something affordable. But the stores seem to have stashed all their business appropriate clothes away in favor of holiday-wear. So many sparkles.

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      I wear mismatched blacks in my business casual office, but wear another black shirt underneath the blazer that’s slightly off from the color of the jacket and the pants so it’s clear it’s intentional. However, in an interview situation, it may look like you were going for a buttoned up suit look, and then the non-matching thing just looks strange. So yes, go with a cardigan so as not to make your interviewers think you’re not polished because your colors aren’t an exact match.

      1. Q*

        I agree; mismatched blacks in a business casual outfit isn’t that bad, but in an interview it would call attention to itself and make it very obvious they didn’t come together.

    3. SarahKay*

      Sorry, no advice about non-matching blazer vs cardigan (would want to see each before advising…) but what about local charity shops (thrift stores in the US?) for an outfit? Whatever you decide, though, good luck for the interview!

    4. Emac*

      I agree that the cardigan should be fine. The last interview I went on was for a non-profit that was business casual. I also didn’t have a suit for various reason and ended up wearing a nice skirt and sweater. I got the job.

    5. Rusty Shackelford*

      Agree with the cardigan. Is the blazer something you own, or something you were going to buy? If you already have the blazer, and if you don’t get this job, you might start looking for a skirt to go with the black blazer – grey, or a subtle pattern (herringbone, houndstooth, etc.).

    6. ThursdayNext*

      Of course I don’t know your area or your exact budget, but have you looked at thrift shops? I’ve seen more ‘botique’ thrift shops where the clothes are more expensive (like $16 instead of $8) but the employees have selected for quality, and the one near me always has a good collection of business clothes, including many women’s blazers.
      Have you looked at J. Crew Factory or H&M? Their sizes are limited if you’re plus sized, but they do have blazers for ~$50 or less, so you could find a grey or tan blazer, or a non-black pencil skirt. Nordstroms Rack is more of a hit or miss but I think they always carry come Calvin Klein women’s business wear and have actual clearance items, including blazers, from Nordstroms brands.

    7. Annie Moose*

      Yeah, I definitely agree that a nice cardigan is perfectly dressy. For real world anecdata, at my work, we generally wear suits (we’re state contractors, so we have to look nice for our customers), but a lot of women will sub out a cardigan, and it’s totally fine.

      FWIW I totally wear a mismatched black blazer and black pants to work all the time (they’re not that far off from each other)–I just wouldn’t do it to an interview.

    8. Pat Benetardis*

      If you can afford to, I would keep the blazer and change the bottoms. The blazer is what people will see mostly while you are sitting. If you can afford to, change the skirt to a charcoal grey skirt or pants (from somewhere like target or TK Max) so you don’t have to worry about mismatched blacks.

  21. Ramona Flowers*

    Inspired by a conversation I had earlier this week: what’s the weirdest, most ridiculous or just plain naive request you’ve ever had to work for free or provide free work product?

    I was just remembering how a university several hours away, with no prior connection to me, asked me to come and speak on a topic I had once covered in an op-ed article. I would have needed to spend time preparing the talk and it would have involved an overnight stay. The person who contacted me (a grad student, I think) said they couldn’t pay me beyond travel expenses but I would get to join them in their formal dining room where everyone wears formal dress (which I presumably needed to provide myself). They seemed to think this was somehow a selling point. It was not.

    I simply said no, I can’t do that for no pay. But perhaps I should have told them how ridiculous the formal dinner part was…

    1. Anon Marketer*

      A quote directly from my mom:

      “Can you create a website for my yoga instructor? She can’t pay, but she can give me free yoga lessons.”

      I declined.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        You didn’t want to be paid in vicarious yoga lessons? But you can totally pay the bills with those!

    2. selina kyle*

      I got a call from someone who claimed that the university was accredited but our school (one of the largest facets of the university) wasn’t. He was very upset and wanted me to “prove” that we were accredited because he didn’t believe our website. I transferred him to someone higher ranking than me, but I still am not sure what he was hoping to get from the whole experience.

      1. Artemesia*

        If it is a professional program then it needs separate accreditation, but if it is part of the undergraduate program of an accredited university then it is ‘accredited’. Weird.

        1. selina kyle*

          Oh – I’m not talking a program. It is a whole school (think a school of business at a large university). More, our website details that we are accredited so he was just very confused.

    3. NoMoreMrFixit*

      In my younger days I was an organist. I was asked to play for a funeral. Instead of paying me they wanted to invite me to the reception afterwards for the free food. Fortunately the minister politely explained the policy was to pay me the going rate.

      1. Artemesia*

        The church where my daughter was married had a set menu of prices for organist, the person who locks, cleans, unlocks etc the church for events as well as a basic fee for the space which was gratis as I recall for members. I think churches really need to do that to make it clear for everyone.

        1. NoMoreMrFixit*

          We did have set prices. Some folks just didn’t think they should have to pay the fee. Wasn’t the only time someone pulled a stunt like that. Looking back I think part of it was the fact that I was in my teens so some people felt justified in not paying a kid.

    4. CAA*

      My brother-in-law wanted me to create “a database” for his business. What he really wanted to do was keep track of the equipment he owns and leases out; how much each item is earning for him; how much he spends on repairs; etc. So basically an entire inventory control and accounting system for a small business. I told him I’d be glad to spend a few hours helping him set up Quick Books.

    5. Landlocked Thalassophile*

      Someone once offered me their entire stock of handmade cards from their failed Etsy store. Claimed they were worth $1200 “wholesale” but could be worth 2-3X times that retail. When I pointed out she was closing her Etsy store because she was making enough to cover the Etsy fees, she said “But maybe YOU would have better luck selling them!”
      Yeah, I love the idea of working twice for cash…

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I did something for free for a [relative] to get a resume item, but then they ended up not using it (not their fault) and have since left the job. They’d still give me a reference and have a different last name so nobody would know the connection but I probably won’t do that ever again. Pay me or GTFO.

    7. JamieS*

      Not really weird but more annoying. When I was a college freshman I worked as a seasonal tax preparer at a national tax prep chain. Fast forward to the next year and the branch I worked at changed ownership. As expected the new owner called and asked me to come in for an interview. I go to the interview and before I’ve even sat down I was immediately told that they weren’t going to hire me back for another season because they don’t hire college students but they would be willing to do an internship with me so I can ‘learn the ropes’ and ‘see how the magic happens’.

      Not wanting to burn a bridge I asked what the internship would entail and if it was going to be paid. Short answer is no it wouldn’t be paid and I’d be doing the same thing as last year (preparing returns unsupervised). So I responded “so basically you want me to do for free what I got paid to do last year with no additional training or development to make it even remotely worth it to me?” Then got up and left.

      In hindsight probably wasn’t the most professional response but in the moment I was proud of myself for not telling her to find another sucker. Actually I’m still proud of my restraint there.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Wow. That reminds me of the episode of The League of Gentlemen where the evil unemployment coach won’t let someone go to a job interview – because they need to attend a compulsory seminar on getting a job interview.

        I’m glad you told them where to go!

        1. esra*

          Funnily enough (?), a few years ago I had a very angry rep from the unemployment office call up demanding to know why I couldn’t attend a similar compulsory seminar. I said… because it’s the first day of my new job. I submitted that information on my report form.

          WELL!! If I kept that up, I would not be able to continue receiving benefits and I had better put it on my report form*!!

          *Which I had already submitted. She was very mad and my laugh probably didn’t help.

    8. Malibu Stacey*

      Not me, but my close friend works at an org that puts on CLEs for attorneys. Someone wandered in to the office one day & started chatting with the receptionist & basically asked how he could set himself up to put on CLEs. Not like, are you hiring, but can you can explain in detail how I can set myself up as your competitor?

    9. JD*

      This kid wanted us to give him a $1900 race suit for $300 because “that’s all I have”. We are not a retail store but do sell some of the racing items for our racing clients which he was not.

      I also saw something on FB the other day about a product and a woman replied “I can’t afford this, do you give donations for people who cannot afford”. Her profile pic is of her with an iPhone X in Ray Bans in front of a Mercedes. Such an eye roll.

      People really think they deserve free stuff just “because” they want it to be free.

    10. Fenchurch*

      A good friend of mine took my brother’s senior pictures for pretty cheap. My mother asked her if she could “photoshop out the wrinkles on his shirt” and also “make his hair look smoother”.

      I felt pretty ashamed to be related to her. My younger sister decided to basically give him a “Jimmy Neutron” look using microsoft paint to mock

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

      A guy I’d been dating for all of about 3 weeks enthusiastically let me know that I “could” create invitations, t-shirts and a banner for his family’s upcoming reunion (it was apparently a big family and a big event). He didn’t ask me to do it — he simply stated it like he was giving me permission. Apparently I “could” also create business cards for him for his hobby/side business. Maybe I could, but I didn’t.

    12. Ama*

      When I worked at a graduate department that focused on ancient history and archaeology we got some really bizarre phone calls:
      – The actual Hollywood producer who’d call about once every six months, demanding to be put through to our director because he wanted to produce a movie about archaeologists and thought there was no way we wouldn’t be falling all over ourselves to help him (I looked him up on IMDB and had done some B movies). He was incredibly rude and my director told me the first time he had no interest in speaking with him, but since this dude wasn’t going to take a no from a lowly receptionist I had to keep pretending to pass on the messages.

      – The woman who called because she was writing a mystery novel on “the ancient world” and wanted to speak to a professor to do research. When I asked what time period and area of the world she was interested in (because that’s how our faculty were organized) she just kept repeating, “you know, the ancient world!” I actually don’t remember how I got her off the phone.

      -The woman who called us on behalf of her expat friends living in Cairo who had found some kind of artifact in their basement and wanted someone to evaluate it without alerting the Egyptian officials (which, by the way, is super duper illegal in Egypt and if any of our professors had done it and been found out our entire institution could have been banned from ever doing any further fieldwork in the country).

      -The person who called us because they had proof that there had been a massive pyramid in the middle of the United States years before Ancient Egypt and wanted to speak to someone about excavating it. That one, thankfully, was easy because we didn’t actually study ancient history of the Americas in our department. After I told the person that they cheerfully said they’d call [another institution in another state, unaffliated with us], then, and asked me if I could transfer them.

      I don’t get anything nearly that interesting at my current job, although partly because I don’t have to talk to the general public nearly as often. (My coworkers in the fundraising department get a lot of people who seem to think “offering to throw a fundraiser” and “expecting a nonprofit org to throw a fancy party at their house free of charge” are the same thing.)

    13. Broadcastlady*

      Radio business. Get asked weekly to come do remote broadcasts for free. The going rate in our market is $250 per hour for the station fee, and $50 per hour for talent (me). Nope.

    14. Welkikitty*

      I teach AutoCAD and other specialized engineering design programs to high school and college students. I recently had a parent of a high school student contact me and ask to meet with me. The student was making a high B in the class, so it was really kind of odd, but hey, gotta honor the parent requests.

      The mother comes in with a bunch of magazines and asks me if I can design some custom bathroom cabinets for her client because she “just started” an interior design business and needs plans for the “handyman” who was going to build them. I told her I do freelance work, but I charge $75/hr for design work. She told me that “this would be a great favor” and that she couldn’t pay me because she was “just starting out” but promised me some “exposure” and “credit” with her client.

      I declined, and then she yelled at me that she “pays my salary as a taxpayer” (it’s a public high school) and that she “was friends with (the superintendent) so I just better help her.” I told her no and thanked her for coming in.

    15. Me*

      This is actually pretty common in academia. Giving invited talks is an honor and they pay for your travel

    16. Broadcastlady*

      Judging things. I work in radio and get asked at least a few times a month to judge a cake contest, random parade, chili cook-off, etc. Usually on a Saturday afternoon and never with pay. I’m never available.

  22. Anon Marketer*

    I have a “problem” of looking younger than I am. I’m almost 30, but coupled with my young face and eager to please personality, I can get “parented” by older, but well-meaning co-workers (usually told I’m reminded of their kids). It was cute at first, but at this point, it’s getting annoying, from “I hope you’ll eat more for lunch,” from getting compared directly to their high school-aged kids, and it often leads to the impression I can’t be taken seriously.

    I’ve casually waved it off like, “Oh, don’t mom me, I’m almost 30, you know, haha,” but it does raise some concerns on how this can affect my professional status going forward.


    1. Laura*

      I’d make liberal use of the phrase “That’s an odd thing to say to a co-worker.” Also, don’t say “almost thirty”, it doesn’t matter what age you are if you’re their colleague and if they’re older being 29 would still sound really young.

      Good luck!

    2. La Revancha*

      I have had similar situations happen. I also look young and am 30. Here are some examples of what my older coworkers have said and what I responded with:

      Them – “Since our CEO is coming into town next week, make sure you dress accordingly”
      Me – “Yes of course, I’ve already thought about this. Thank you for the reminder though!”

      Them – “Make sure you update X document or save X document”
      Me – “I’ve already done so. Thanks!”

      Them – “You should probably take notes about things that happened while John is on vacation (John = my boss)”
      Me – “I started that yesterday. Great minds think alike!”

      1. Mints*

        I do this with my actual mom haha
        “Remember to pack [thing]”
        “I will!”

        “Make sure to bring a sweater tonight”

        1. La Revancha*

          LOL I do it with my dad.

          “Watch your dog when you have the door open! he will run out fast.”
          – yes dad I’m aware of what my dog does I’ve had him for 11 years.

          “Stay close to Eugene (boyfriend) when you travel or you’ll get kidnapped and sold into sex slavery!” (yes he says this every time I go out of the country”
          – yes dad, I’m aware and not going to do anything to put myself in harms way like going to a night club at 4 am with strangers.

    3. Artemesia*

      I’d reflect on how you project professionalism. If eager to please means acts like an enthusiastic kid or puppy then stop that. Also look at dress. When you are young dressing a little more professionally and being a little more no nonsense is helpful — and no ‘haha’ when noting that you don’t need parenting.

      1. Kj*

        Yes, this. I was young for my office at my last job, but I rarely got talked down to or mommed, because I was VERY careful to be professional and dress slightly more professionally than co-workers (I could have worn jeans every day, but I usually chose a nice knit dress and tights, which was a step-above everyone else’s dress in terms of professionalism). I also made a real effort to relate to others on an adult level and talk about things that are considered more adult, such as retirement and stocks. Sounds silly, but it worked well with co-workers.

    4. CCF*

      I had this issue briefly at a new job when I was 25. Half of the people on my team had kids older than me. I had a hard time at first figuring out if people talked to me like that because of the parenting default, or just because they knew I was 25 and new to the company. But eventually I put a stop to it by talking to people in a way that their children never would. I was assertive and serious with everything. Comments that seemed like parenting were answered in tones that made clear I was not amused. Eventually people got the point that I was an equal and it worked out well.

      1. Mints*

        Oh this is my current job. The things that seem most helpful when it’s happening (comments on how un/healthy my lunch is) is just polite blandness. Like “I like it” and let the awkward silence go. If they’re just chatty, they’ll be trained out of it, and talking to me about other subjects is more friendly

    5. Someone else*

      I’ve got no advice for you other than to say I get the same thing, and was once mistaken for a high school intern when I was 27. So, you’re not alone? At 32 I got a “do you graduate soon, honey?” but that was a receptionist somewhere I did not work.

    6. AnnaleighUK*

      I get this but it’s usually with clients, my colleagues initially thought I was much younger than I am (36) but they treat me fine. Clients, on the other hand… I went to see one last week who asked me ‘so when is the safety inspector getting here?’ and I said ‘I am the safety inspector’. His surprise was far too obvious. I have a young face, it sucks. I tend to just make sure that I always wear makeup and a sharp suit, and act extremely professionally. But then we get clients calling to say how ‘very capable the young Scottish girl is’ and ‘she’s going to go far’. Okay then.

  23. fposte*

    Setting aside the politics, that interview with Washington Post reporter Stephanie McCrummen and the ostensible source who was really from Project Veritas offers a great communication model for management. McCrummen has a sympathetic tone and posture and yet never, ever responds to the attempts at forced teaming or emotional bids for derailment. Managers struggling with what to do in difficult situations with staff who try to bring irrelevant stuff or emotional defenses should watch this video.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I was so, so impressed with her. Her long silences. Her strategic “hmms” and “ohs?” and “yeahs…” Really skillful.

      1. fposte*

        I kept thinking of how often I’ve seen people posting here with stuff like “It feels rude not to respond” or “It feels rude to ignore.” Watch this woman retain a kind manner and talk about exactly what she wants to, no more, no less.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Oh, I’m glad you wrote this, I felt the same way! She was masterful and you could see the other woman getting more and more nervous as she realized the jig was up.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Yes! She did the classic “I’m just going to let you dig your own hole” tactic, I loved it!

    3. nep*

      A fantastic model and lesson. I’ll listen to this again and again. Such professionalism, smarts, and skill.

  24. Nervous Accountant*

    Y’all I’m so. Blah. I lost my chances to a mid year raise that I didn’t even know was on the table. Kicking myself now bc a little white lie could have prevented that from happening. I’m trying to find solace in the fact that I won’t be given what’s not meant for me. But. I’m just so frustrated. I feel like I do a great job but my boss (not my Mgr) can find one tiny thing and uses that to argue against paying me fairly. It feels like the goal posts keep moving further and further.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t think you should have lied to get a raise, though. Even if you don’t have an ethical problem with it, it puts you at risk of losing the job entirely. So I think maybe this saved you from yourself :-). Hopefully you’ll get it next time.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I guess. It would have just been a small white lie, nothing earth shattering or violation of ethics or harm anyone. It just pisses me off that I can do 99% things right but she finds a non issue issue and uses that against me.

        1. Emi.*

          Well, apparently it’s an actual-issue to her, so she would presumably be righteously pissed if you’d lied about it.

          Also, lying–especially in order to get “what’s not meant for [you]”–is an ethical issue in and of itself and lots of people will hold it against you, even if the subject doesn’t matter to them.

    2. Beancounter Eric*

      I had a boss several years ago who, when we were conducting my annual review, remarked when he came to “Integrity” that for Accountants, there is one and only one acceptable score – perfect.

      Lying, of any degree, is incompatible with integrity – ” a small white lie, nothing earth shattering or violation of ethics or harm anyone”… is an ethical breach. In this case, you didn’t tell the “small white lie”….but it sounds like you will in the future if it gets you ahead.

      You “feel” like you do a great job – well, from the looks of things, your reviewer doesn’t agree. And what you consider a “tiny thing” may, in fact, be pivotal in the success or failure of your enterprise.

      Word of advice – “I will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do” goes a long way.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        The thing I would have been lying about was not related to integrity, at least i don’t c it that way.. Ok so i had a lot of appts on my calendar to reach out to clients. We’re always encouraged to reach out to our clients. My boss thought they were fake appts so I could block my calendar. I told her many were actual appts, but some were reminders for myself to reach out. I could have said that they were ALL real appts.

        I get that lying itself would have been lacking integrity, but i don’t see how trying to carve out time during my work day to reach out to clients is dishonest in and of itself. I’m busy enough throughout day, I’m not going to work 66 hours a week when it’s not tax season.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hmmm, so I disagree that that would have been a white lie. It would have been a lie of substance; you would have been misrepresenting your schedule and your work plans (and to some extent your work results, since it would look like you’d connected with people you hadn’t actually connected with) to your boss. That’s actually a really big deal for truthfulness and integrity — if I found out someone lied to me about that exact thing, I’d actually be thinking about firing them. So I think you should be glad you told the truth, and not feel bad about it!

            1. Nervous Accountant*

              Agh wish I could edit comments. Hard to type on phone too much. I didn’t think of it that way and that’s an interesting way to look at it. But I’m not sure I agree with it. We’re told to reach out to everyone–I’m making an effort to do so. I have a professional license—i wouldn’t have that if I was lacking in ethics or integrity.

              1. Artemesia*

                That is a non sequitur. There are thousands of people with professional licenses who lack integrity. You can carve out time on the calendar for outreach without listing specific clients with whom you have appointments.

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        I don’t disagree at all with what you & everyone else is saying. I just don’t think my situation was an ethical violation. I realize now that my initial post may have been vague.

        1. Judy (since 2010)*

          Does your email system allow you to mark items free time? I have a number of reminder appointments that I mark as free time, so they notify me, but I move them around if I get a meeting request.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Backing this up a bit, I am having trouble understanding why you did not know there was a possibility for a raise. Why didn’t your boss let you know that?
      Additionally, I am not getting what is wrong here. You had stuff calendarized. The boss asked you about it and you answered truthfully. Then she dinged you for it. Did she give you any clue what she felt you should have done?

      The way this reads to me is, “My boss won’t give me a raise because I did not fill out my calendar the way she wanted me to. However, I had no idea how she wanted me to fill out my calendar before this conversation.”
      You didn’t read her mind so no raise-that-you-didn’t-know-about for you.

      I hope I am misreading this. If not, this boss is super unprofessional. The problem with bosses who move the goal posts is that they encourage lying/deceit as people try to run toward the ever-moving goal posts.

      I can understand the reaction that lying brings on firing. I have also seen so many bosses who do not go by this rule, preferring to keep the employee and watch them squirm as they make the employee as miserable as possible. I hope I am wrong here, but it seems that your actual problem is that your boss can’t manage people.

  25. Can I say something?*

    I am a receptionist, and as such, I deal with all the ingoing and outgoing mail for my company, which is fairly substantial. On average I send out 80 – 120 invoices, plus 20+ checks. We also send out the larger envelopes often and I can get anywhere from 2 – 30 of those (every Friday I have at least 20).

    On top of the mail the company sends out, every once in a while people will come by with something personal to ask me to drop in the mailbox, which I normally don’t mind. It’s not every day, and it’s only a few additional envelopes so it doesn’t make a difference. And people are always nice about it and check that it’s ok. The issue I am having is with these envelopes one particular colleague always brings. They are only slightly larger than a regular envelope (think the larger envelopes folded in half) and they are never heavy, but whatever she is putting in them makes them very bulky and awkwardly shaped, so they always make it difficult to easily balance them with everything else I take to the mailbox. I am assuming they are personal items, because they have pre-printed Ebay labels with her personal address on them, but she’s never said anything, just drops them in the outbox. (I can also safely assume it’s unlikely we’d sell our products on Ebay because while we could conceivably get rid of small quantities of discontinued items, we generally only sell wholesale to retailers). She brings these to me about twice a week I think, sometimes more.

    So I don’t know how, or even if I should ask this woman if I am sending out her personal mail. If it is business related then it’s fine because that’s the job, but if it is personal, I would kind prefer if she at least considers bringing it to the mailbox herself. The box isn’t far, and while she can take a minute to run out and drop it, I need to keep the desk constantly covered so I can only take it on my lunch break or on my way home unless someone stops their work to cover for me.

    Complicating things is that I like her – she’s very personable and is one of the few people who will chat occasionally while most people forget I am here once they pass me in the morning. She is also one of the few people I can call to cover the desk the few times I need a break beyond my set lunch period (which is about twice a month. I can usually do good with just that one break) so I don’t want to upset her.

    So is there a way I can subtly ask her if this actually is work related or personal, and suggest she take some of them to the box herself? Or would I be better off just sucking it up and continuing to balance these things precariously?

    1. fposte*

      Uh–I think she’s having you work for her eBay business for free and she needs to knock that off immediately. “Sorry, Jane, I can’t do the mailings for your eBay stuff anymore on the office clock.”

    2. EmilyAnn*

      I feel like there is work mail, personal mail, and side-hustle mail. If I sell things as side -hustle then I shouldn’t be using my company resources to do so. If I need to send a bill and the receptionist doesn’t mind, then that’s different. Can you talk to her directly or talk to a manager about this? I think a simple “I’m sorry, but the stuff you give me is hard to balance with regular mail, so I can’t take it anymore” should be good enough.

      1. Can I say something?*

        The problem is that I don’t KNOW it’s a side hustle, I am just assuming it is. So if I am wrong then I would be telling her I can’t do something that I really should be doing

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Are these labels pre-paid or is she using company resources for shipping? We recently fired someone for his side-hustle selling rare sneakers (because he was using our computers and other resources even after being warned).

          1. Can I say something?*

            They are pre-paid. I think the only company resource she uses besides me would be the postage scale and maybe a single sheet of paper and a little tape for each of these.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              Thanks for clarifying. I would think about telling her that her packages add too much bulk and that you’d really appreciate if she brings them to the box herself going forward. There’s no way an ebay return address is work-related.

              1. Infinity Anon*

                I agree. I think it is relatively non-confrontational to tell her that while you do not mind occasionally carrying down envelopes for your coworker, you cannot easily carry the bulky ebay envelops down to the mailbox.

      2. Artemesia*

        This. the occasional personal letter fine; all the Christmas cards, not fine; side hustle absolutely not fine and a conflict of interest.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Could you get a box or bag to put the mail in? Technically she shouldn’t have you drop off her EBay sales. But seems like you have a good relationship and you are going to the mailbox anyway. Maybe just find a better way to carry all the mail?

      1. CAA*

        Yes, this is what I recommend as well. Don’t make any extra trips for her, but if it’s occasional stuff that’s not heavy, and you’re going anyway, just find a better way to schlep it there.

      2. Can I say something?*

        I have used a bag in the past but found it’s awkward to hold the mailbox open and reach into the bag, but going back to this might be my best bet.

      3. Anion*

        Yes, given that this woman covers the phones for her, and goes out of her way to treat OP as a person and not an invisible servant, I’d just figure it’s quid pro quo, and not bring it up–but get a bag, as you suggested. It seems the issue is that the mail is oddly shaped and not the fact that OP is being asked to drop off the mail at all, so deal with that. Whether it’s a side hustle or not really doesn’t matter; I’m not a fan of keeping track of stuff like that in general (which isn’t to say anyone here is being miserly or anything).

        If you want to say something, though, I’d mention specifically the size/shape of the envelopes and the bag you have to handle them. Like, “Hey, Jane? I was wondering about the envelopes you use. I don’t mind dropping them in the post for you at all–I’m happy to do it–but sometimes the size and shape makes them difficult to stack with the rest of the mail. Would you mind dropping those envelopes in this tote for me, instead of putting them with the rest of the outgoings? That just makes it easier for me to carry them.”

        That makes the very subtle point that this is an effort for you while making it clear that you don’t have a problem with doing it. It also invites her to maybe reconsider how she handles those things. But I dunno, my instinct is to not say anything about it given that she does stuff for you, too (not saying the things are equal, just that she’s not all take, if you know what I mean), and hopefully she’s a good enough person that she realizes that even though you’re going to mail stuff anyway it’s still a favor and she should remember that.


        1. Can I say something?*

          That might work. Honesty, it occurred to me that when I have had an excessive amount of mail, or a lot of my own packages to carry along with the mail, about an hour or so before I get off I occasionally ask her to cover for a few minutes while I run the mail down (so I don’t have to carry that AND all my junk). It might work to make a practice of having her cover and run it down before I get off on all the days that she brings me these things “since they are so awkward.” It would have the benefit of showing her just how often it is too.

    4. Malibu Stacey*

      I’ve been a receptionist and unfortunately, you sometimes do have to say, “It’s not possible to bring non-Teapots Inc to the mailbox anymore.” (with your supervisor’s okay, of course). It seems like there’s *always* someone who abuses it.

    5. S.I. Newhouse*

      Since she is one of the few at your company who treats you like a person, I’d try to tread gently here.
      My thought is this: Since she has already shown willingness to cover phones for you, maybe you could ask her if on a day you’re scheduled off/out sick, she would be willing take the mail down for you at the end of the day? If she actually does the task herself once, that might drive home the fact that hey, there’s a lot more mail to carry downstairs than she thought, and not to take your service for granted in the future.

  26. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I think I’m going to have a Skype interview next week for a possible new position.

    Best tips/etiquette/etc for a Skype interview?

    1. Anon Marketer*

      Treat it like an in-person interview.

      – Wear nice clothes.
      – Log into Skype early.
      – Make sure you have a good internet connection/webcam/space to set up (and clean your space, too!)
      – Silence all messaging programs/your phone. Do nothing but the interview.
      – Wait for them to call you, don’t initiate the call early.
      – Wear headphones/headset—call clarity is better and it won’t pick up the noise from your computer programs.
      – Speak clearly and look at the screen when speaking.

        1. Lia*

          And pets. My ex neglected to close the cats out of his office during a Skype call and they ran across the room behind him, and then paused to tussle with each other, complete with loud yowls.

          Also, try to be at a desk or table, not sitting on a couch. Your posture will be better and you’ll look more professional.

          1. Epsilon Delta*

            Ok so I clearly have never hired anyone, but watching someone’s cats play in the background would be like +100. Even if there were angry cat-yowls. Then I would know that it’s a kindred spirit.

        2. CatCat*

          Hahaha! I’m reminded of the video interview on the news where the guy being interviewed is in his home office and then one young child pops into the room in the background followed by a baby sibling in a baby walker. He tries to press on and mom eventually frantically ducks into the room to round up kids.

          It’s one of the best things I have ever seen. I will find it and share a link.

      1. Kara Zor-El*

        This is all great advice. However, I would add that you should try to look at the camera instead of the screen when you’re speaking. This will give the person on the other side the feeling that you’re making eye contact instead of looking down.

            1. Fact & Fiction*

              Interviewer: “Um…why are you looking at me like I’m a delectable piece of ?”

              Interviewee: “Oh…No reason.”

            2. Fact & Fiction*

              Oops I messed that up with brackets.

              Interviewer: “Um…why are you looking at me like I’m a delectable piece of *insert favorite food here*?”

              Interviewee: “Oh…No reason.” *continues staring at Thor and smacks lips*

      2. CatCat*

        Make sure you have good lighting too. Sometimes the videos can look dim in my experience.

        Do a practice Skype call with a friend or relative so you catch any technical/sound/visual issues that need to be corrected.

        Check if there is a back up phone number you can call in case there are any issues with the internet on the day of the interview.

      3. S.I. Newhouse*

        Agree with every point here, and I just want to emphasize doing a test Skype call before the interview, ideally with another Skype user. Skype sometimes is tricky to make work even when you normally have a strong internet connection otherwise. Make sure you’re totally comfortable with how it works before the interview. I’ve only had one Skype interview, and it was besieged with glitches (they couldn’t see me for a period of time, then I couldn’t see them) because I didn’t practice using the software beforehand. I didn’t get the job (fortunately I probably wouldn’t have wanted it anyway).

    2. Buffy*

      Also if you can, prop your laptop up on books or something so the camera is level with your face instead of looking up at you. And make sure, at least most of the time (even though it feels so awkward), to look into the camera when you are speaking rather than at the person’s face on the screen.

    3. Kathenus*

      This might be too late, but one thing I don’t think I’ve seen yet is to check out what your background is so that it looks OK to the people on the other end. One time I was doing a Skype interview in my bedroom because of my pets in the rest of the house, and made sure to set it up so there was a nice picture on the wall behind me versus my dresser or something. Good luck!

    4. Former Borders Refugee*

      The staffing manager at my legal staffing firm told us about a Skype interview she had with a dude who wasn’t wearing a shirt. (It was a short interview.)

      So… wear a shirt, for starters.

  27. Ghost Town*

    More just to vent and could really use some perspective to cool my frustration: my successor in my old position was offered a salary so much higher than I made.

    I moved positions in May and they (finally) hired my replacement, who started in November. They redesigned the position to formalize things I was already doing in that position and gave it a dual reporting structure. New person has the same level of education I had when I started, similar levels of higher education experience as I did when I started, but is a military veteran (position works with this military students). New person is also a man and I am not.

    The rational side of me knows that new person negotiated, which I did not b/c I was so young and it was 2009 so I felt happy to be offered a job w/actual benefits and related to my area of study. Rational me also knows that a new hire will always be offered more than a continuing employee.

    I had to move out to move up, not only to a different department, but to a different school at the university. New person’s salary is over 133% of what I made. It feels like a slap in the face b/c I did significant work to professionalize the position (not just disciplinary expertise, but actual work in student affairs, including publishing and presenting at conferences on related topics) and did a little bit of everything. I also did significant work to try to get the position reclassified to more accurately reflect the realities of the position (and you know, write a job description since HR apparently lost it). Yearly raises varied from 0.5%-1.5% b/c the administrative unit constantly begged poverty (and then we saw higher level hiring bonanzas). My last year, I actually took home less money each month b/c of the increase in parking pass and health insurance costs.

    I’ve mostly let it go, but a tiny part of me is bitter about the entire situation (but not mad at new person – they did their thing and good on them).

    1. Artemesia*

      This is the way of the world. Don’t waste energy on it, but think about how it can inform how you negotiate in the future. A common problem in most offices is salary compression where new salaries continue to rise while raises are low, so that someone working there 5 years may be making the same or even less than the new hire with the same new hire qualifications you had. It is why often people have to change jobs to be paid fairly.

    2. Mazzy*

      Ugh I had the same thing but both women. They also decided to lower requirements to attract fresh young talent, which made me feel doubly screwed – why did I have to wait and meet stringent expectations years before? Now someone with much less experience is the “same level” as me at that past job.

    3. persimmon*

      One way to think about it is that this new person is actually more experienced than you were initially. He has an extra X years of professional experience in the military, which is likely to command more salary, especially since it’s relevant to the position. It sounds like the real problem was not the initial salary you got, but more the refusal to give reasonable and deserved raises.

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

        I agree with this as well. I could be misunderstanding, but if your former position worked with military students, being a veteran really would add significantly to his ability to understand and help them in ways you couldn’t.

    4. Bess*

      I hate that. Once an old job had to hire TWO people to replace me, and they both got decent salaries approaching a mid-level professional level, while I had done all my work at a low low entry-level rate and much lower job title. And after I left they were like “wow Bess isn’t easy to replace!” Forget actually, you know, paying me a decent rate to begin with.

    5. JR*

      That sounds frustrating! One additional angle to consider – 2009 is long enough ago to consider the impact of inflation. I just looked at a couple of inflation calculators, and it looks like inflation accounts for about half the difference (as in, $100 in 2009 = about $115 today).

  28. Super Nintendo Chalmers*

    Question for creatives: I’m approaching my one-year mark at work and I want to ask for a title change.

    I work at a museum. I was hired as a Preparator (the people who install/deinstall, pack, store, & clean the art), but they hired me specifically because I have a lot of design experience and the Exhibition Designer desperately needed help with his crazy workload. In the year I’ve been there, I’ve been taking on more and more design tasks, while still doing a lot of Preparator stuff. Additionally, all the curators know I’m a designer, and have been coming to me with their own tasks, like making short documentaries for their exhibitions, etc.

    My question is, what title should I ask for? I don’t want to ask for Assistant Exhibition Designer because I don’t want my boss to feel like I’m stepping on his toes, or angling for his job (he’s been in this position for 35 years, he should retire but, as this is the non-profit world, he never will). I have a really good working relationship with him and I don’t want to compromise that. I also don’t want to ask for Graphic Designer, because that really doesn’t encompass all the things I do (including video editing, exhibition design, typesetting, a whole range of preparator stuff, and, yes graphic design).

    Additional question: I also really need a raise, I’m super underpaid and it’s affecting my morale, especially because my male coworker who only does Preparator stuff and NO design stuff gets paid more than I do. What’s an appropriate percentage to ask for after only one year?


    1. Jules the Third*

      1) Don’t ask for a raise based on a ‘appropriate % to ask for’, base it on the market rate for the work you’re doing. Your position has changed, and you need to highlight that to your mgmt. Since you know another Prepator’s pay rate at your museum, that could be the base, then add on to it because you’re doing design work. Maybe start thinking with something like “Male Prepator’s salary + 10%”, be happy with +5% and ok with +3%, but I don’t have your knowledge of your workload; the % of time you spend on design work could move those %s up or down. I’m assuming that design work pays about 20% more than prepatory work, and that you’re spending 40% of your time on it (20% * 40% = 8%, ask high).

      Make sure you document the design work – how often you’ve done it, how many people you’ve helped, how many hours you’re spending on the design work, any feedback from the curators.
      2) Title – maybe Assistant Designer, since you’re doing design work for multiple groups, not just exhibits. Check for other possible titles.

      1. Super Nintendo Chalmers*

        The worst part of this is my position HASN’T changed – they hired me with all of us knowing I’d be doing this design work, I just didn’t know how (or that I even could or should) advocate for a higher pay for myself when I was hired. I’ve learned a lot by reading this blog, but I still haven’t put any of its advice in motion. Thank you for your response.

        1. The Curator*

          Assistant Curator is a good job title and doesn’t indicate that you are gunning for your bosses job. It just means that you are doing all the things you need to to help all facets of the department succeed.

          1. Super Nintendo Chalmers*

            HA! I am definitely not an assistant curator, and that requires a PhD that I don’t have

  29. peachie*

    I’m having a frustrating week. My department (of 2) is getting a ton of heat for a slight dip in renewal rates; the dip is due to financial reasons beyond our control (we have no influence in the price of membership dues, which hike significantly every year). Every day, we’re being snapped at to do more and to fix it, but we’re already doing all we can. Plus, our department is already understaffed and under-resourced–we have to do a lot of stuff ourselves that other departments have support for–so we don’t have the time or the money to do “more.” (I’m not saying we’re perfect, but I’m relatively confident that neither of us dropped the ball or made a mistake that would affect our numbers.)

    I get where the anxiety from my grandboss is coming from–I don’t like the numbers, either!–but the blame seems misplaced and it’s really wearing me down. My director put it well–she said it seems that every other C-level takes care of and goes to bat for their staff, but ours just throws us under the bus so much we might as well set up camp.

    1. No Parking or Waiting*

      This is one of the times I’d say “document.” Write a proposal that explains the difference you see between last year’s numbers and your current numbers. Write what the people you call are telling you and what you feel the reasons they aren’t renewing are. Make a list of suggestions, like discounts, added perks, targeting a more specific or a broader group.
      I think you’re dealing with a horrible person and an inept manager, but don’t let that hold you down. Force manager to: 1) treat you like a professional; 2) manage.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I’d make a really pretty graph that shows the correlation between the increase in membership dues and dip in renewal rates. Make the graph so clear that a three year old could see the problem. Give a copy to your director and ask her if she would like to pass that around for discussion.

  30. hiptobesquare*

    So, I might (based on my boyfriends job) be moving across the country. In a perfect world, I would get a job with the ability to work remotely so I can return home for the month of July and the 1st week of Aug. for a project here (outside of work hours).

    I know it’s a lot and I don’t want to be difficult but is this possible to discuss once an offer had been made? How? For what it’s worth I will not be going until I also have a job, but I’m not terribly worried about actually finding one.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      If it’s something you will have to do regardless of getting a job, then of course you should bring it up at the offer stage. Unfortunately, I think it’s a pretty huge ask that most people won’t consider unless you are an extremely stellar candidate. Then again, it also depends on your industry – I assume that it would be much more likely to do if you work in IT or another field where lots of people telecommute. Good luck!

      1. hiptobesquared*

        It’s not a dealbreaker, just… something I hope to do. I do work in IT so telecommuting isn’t a crazy idea – and I would only ask if they made it clear that telecommuting was on the table.

        I am also half debating freelancing which of course totally solves the issue, but that remains to be seen.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Then I say go for it since you work in IT – it’s such a common thing in that field that I doubt anyone would blink twice.

          1. hiptobesquared*

            Thank you so much. You’ve made me feel so much better. Honestly, this is my only sticking point for the entire move.

    2. Ellen Ripley*

      FYI, is a good source for telecommuting jobs if you’re looking for one – it’s a subscription site but all the leads they have are legit, not sketchy stuff.

  31. Rick The Dev*

    Maybe a slightly off-topic question, but here goes.

    I’m an organizer of a programming meetup. At our meetups, we get a lot of people looking for jobs or technical help. I’m happy to provide them with advice at the actual meetup, because that’s why I run it.

    The problem is occasionally someone will ask me for my email or phone number, so they can keep asking me for help with programming or getting a job. There’s no need for this since we use to organize the meetups, and they have a messaging feature.

    But, a lot of computer types aren’t great at reading social cues, and I’m bad at saying “no”. Last meetup, we had someone who got very insistent on me giving them my email so I could keep helping them fix their computer. I tried to deflect them to using the Meetup site, but they got upset and insisted they needed my email because they would forget the site and they weren’t comfortable using it. This isn’t the first time this has happened, either. Asking them to leave would’ve been overkill in this situation but how should I handle this in the future?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      You need to use your words and say no even though you feel you are bad at it. I recommend you practise by yourself at home.

      No, that’s not possible.
      I don’t give out my email.
      I’m not able to share that.

      Any awkwardness is not your problem!

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I’d think up a phrase you can use with everyone: something like: I keep my email separate from this email group as a rule, so please contact me through the meetup site. If they persist, just smile nicely and say “sorry, I’ve learned the hard way to keep my email separate and I don’t make exceptions, I’m sure you understand”. And then don’t budge! The person asking is being pushy and it’s ok to set boundaries (easier said than done, I know!). An alternative is to create an additional gmail account and give that one out instead.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              I like to be friendlier than that and try not to make people feel bad for asking a simple request.

              1. NaoNao*

                The bad part isn’t the simple request. It’s the badgering after you’ve said no. It’s no longer a simple request. It’s an imposition and a boundary violation.

                I used to work in the public library system and (I hope this isn’t an insensitive use of the word) “selective deafness” was my best friend.

                I would decline the request with professional politeness the first, say, 2 times.
                The next 47 I would be unable to hear them for some weird reason! I would just give a vague smile and shrug and then toddle off to another area of the library and hide.

                You can soften the blow with another option, and if they argue back, then give the “mom answer”.

                “I really need your personal email, though.”
                “Mm, I’m sorry but I keep that personal. You know how it is. But you can email me through the Meetup site!”
                “I won’t remember that!”
                “Better write it down then! Here’s a pen!” (super cheerful grade school teacher tone)
                “I need your email, pleeeeeese”
                (selective deafness)……
                …walk away casually, get busy with something else.

                *side note, can you get cards with the meetup address or contact information printed on them to hand out?

                1. Rick The Dev*

                  I’m new to this, actually. It’s an existing org and I volunteered to help about 6 months ago.

                  There are a few people who regularly home in on me and then just constantly ask very trivial questions that they know the answers to. Like:

                  Guy: “How do I change the terminal background color?”
                  Me: “Click there.”
                  Guy: “But I don’t like that color!”
                  Me: “Then click ‘customize’. Which is right there.”
                  Guy: “I don’t see it.”
                  Me: “Down there.” [while pointing]
                  Guy: “I don’t want to, is there a simpler way?”

                  I guess because I’m friendly, or young, or less assertive. I think that I should take a more direct approach to it, because I do have authority here, but I don’t know how to. Also don’t want to call someone out or kick them out in front of everyone – that would look bad.

                  Don’t get me wrong, I like helping people out with programming. I like learning from other people. I dislike it when someone interrupts something else I’m doing (a conversation, working on my own stuff, etc.) and starts talking at me or demanding my attention.

          1. Yorick*

            “My system is to have messages from Meetup contacts come through Meetup, so please communicate with me there.”

    2. Nita*

      That’s a very nice thing you’re doing! I was a Meetup organizer once and it’s an exhausting, thankless thing. About your question – maybe keep saying: “I’m sorry, it’s my policy not to give out personal contact information, but I do check Meetup messages regularly.” It’s very very common in some industries to just not give out your personal info because of the potential for being swamped with calls/messages, or possibly even harassed (let’s say it’s one of those jobs where clients tend to get upset about two weeks’ worth of work not being turned around in two hours).

      Also… programmers that are not comfortable using a computer? I’m having a little trouble picturing that. Maybe they’re newbies, but if that’s not the case they’re probably exaggerating so they can push you to give them your contact info.

      1. Rick The Dev*

        We get a lot of people who are just starting, and if they’ve been on Windows they might’ve installed a Linux distribution and not have their bearings with it yet. That kind of stuff is fairly frequent.

        People who’re comfortable in their current jobs don’t usually come out to these types of things, unless they’re friends with the regulars. And we have a lot of those. I’m glad that I have a few close friends from this group of people. They’re really nice.

    3. LizB*

      “I don’t give out my email or phone number. You can contact me through Meetup, or just come to the next actual meetup.” Repeat as necessary. If you’re feeling extra kind, you could make a mini-handout with instructions on how to use the Meetup messaging system and bring them to your meetups to give out. But really, these people aren’t bad at reading social cues — they’re just rude. They understand you’re saying no, they problem is they don’t want to accept it as an answer. Stand firm, and see if you can get any of your regular attendees to back you up; a well-placed “Dude, Rick doesn’t give out his contact information. His meetup already provides us with free tech support once a month, which is really nice of him, and it’s pretty rude to insist he does that 24/7.” could be helpful.

    4. Super Nintendo Chalmers*

      There’s no need to say the word “No” here. Just say, “Oh, you can contact me on!” and change the subject. If they insist, just repeat it: “I prefer to stick to”

      1. Rick The Dev*

        I repeated that a couple of times, but this person just insisted they weren’t comfortable with using the Meetup site and that they would forget it. Honestly he was kind of visibly upset, which weirded me out and put me on the defensive.

        I guess what I should’ve said was something like “I understand, but I want to keep it to And if you’re asking me to help you out, please stick with that.” And if they kept pushing, THEN I should’ve asked him to leave.

        TBH I’ve had some weird interactions as an organizer. Once someone found my phone number on LinkedIn and started texting me asking for help to find a job.

        I need to put my foot down about this kind of thing, but I’m worried about swinging too far in the opposite direction and people’s reactions, as I’m a public face of this meetup.

    5. No Parking or Waiting*

      Asking them to leave would’ve been overkill in this situation but how should I handle this in the future?
      But making them aware that they will be asked to leave if they don’t stop badgering people for anything (like going for coffee after or getting free computer help) is important.
      These are the same people that weasel free stuff out of everyone. It’s not always someone being bad at reading social cues, it’s that victory favors the bold.
      Just like he knows he’s badgering you for help, but hey, free help is free help. He does not care if you like him, if you think he is rude, if you think he’s the worst person on earth as long as his computer gets fixed, for free.

      This is the same person who will walk to the front of the return line because he only has one thing. And make a fuss until the clerk takes him. He knows it’s wrong, but it works.

      1. Rick The Dev*

        I’m reluctant to assume that people coming to our meetups are doing so in bad faith. From my experience running this, there’s a lot of people who are great people but just happen to be a little socially deaf or somehow eccentric. And on a personal note, I don’t let myself assume that because it starts to leak out into my interactions with people, and as a public face of this organization I have to be conscious of that.

        The difficulty lies in balancing that and having a spine.

        I feel like what I should’ve said was “I don’t do that. If you’re asking me for help you’re going to have to be OK with that.” and then should’ve said “You’re weirding me out. Please leave.”

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I think you need to start using a preemptive strike.
      Lay out some basic rules for the group. One of the rules is questions are only handled at meetings or through the site, no one uses their private email for anything.
      Offer opportunities to review the site and how to use it as a group. This could be done by saying “after our meeting anyone who is interested can stay for a review of how to use our site to ask questions. Since questions will only be answered through the meetings or on the site, this review is a valuable thing.”

      When you know something is a recurring problem, it’s best to just make an upfront statement about it BEFORE you get nagged. Then that puts you in a sweet spot of saying, “Like I said in my intro we do not use our private emails here. Your choices are [insert what you want options you want them to chose from to participate in the group.]

  32. Fearful LW*

    Hi all,

    I am a long time reader, first time needing advice. I am an office manager at a toxic workplace of less than 20 people. The reason it is toxic is because of my manager, who is truly terrible and awful. It’s a long story, but I have absolutely no recourse against her.

    For a lot of good reasons I am going to be moving away, with no job lined up, to a place too far for me to still work at this job. My office is slow to move and I am worried that they will ask me to stay on part time for months to help find and train my replacement. This is what my predecessor, who moved to a different department at the same company did, and I can’t afford to do it.

    I am concerned that not staying on part time will create ill-will, especially because I am the office manager. They manage without me for vacations, and my predecessor is still at the same location, but I am worried they will be furious with me for leaving.

    Part of my worry is because of the recent reference check question, and how much emphasis commenters placed on one bad recent reference. My manager is a terrible human being, and I know, for a fact, that she will tell any reference checkers things that are not true about me. I don’t think she will tell them I am a drug addict, like what happened to a previous LW, but that she will make me out to be pretty lousy, and not someone worth hiring.

    Since I have been in the position for more than 2 years, I really have to list it on my resume. I have a coworker who would be a reference I think, but often companies say they want you to list your boss. I also have a copy of my latest review, which will be only a few months old when I leave, if all goes according to plan. My review, thanks to my boss’s “beat you down, then apologize” policy is pretty honest, and therefore good. My concern though is that they will want to talk to my boss herself.

    I guess my question is twofold.

    How should I handle it if they want me to stay on part-time?

    What should I do when I apply to places that will want to talk to my boss and get a reference from her?

    I hope this is clear and not too revealing. This place has me so worn down I am a little terrified to write in, even anonymously, for help.

    Thank you!

    1. Artemesia*

      1. ‘That won’t be possible; I won’t be available after my two week notice period is up.’

      2. ‘My last manager was very angry that I left and wanted me to continue to work part time after leaving which was not possible; I am sure that will color the kind of reference she will give. I worked previously at the Llama Co-op and Jane Tuttlesworth was my manager and can speak to the quality of my work and my dedication.’

      1. No Parking or Waiting*

        Or instead of this, you could say, nope. That’s it exactly. Honestly. Practice saying these points until you are comfortable.

    2. Wheezy Weasel*

      There is nothing you can control about your former colleagues feeling ‘furious’ about you leaving. It’s their problem to manage. Had they wished for you to stay working for the company, part time or otherwise, they’d have been treating you right in the first place. It sounds like they’ll be furious at the situation, at your boss, or just expressing their own frustration at a convenient target. Silently repeat to yourself that it’s not personal and it’s not a reflection on your quality of work. You’ve done all that you can and you’re not going to subject yourself to working part time. Then when the question comes up, exactly as Artemsia said, short and to the point “It won’t be possible, I won’t be available after my two week notice is up”.

      Regarding the reference, I know that there is a wide variety of opinions on AAM regarding references and bosses, but it’s not universally true that a new job will speak with your toxic boss. You may have lax hiring managers and it never comes up, or they may speak to your former colleagues and managers and not reach out at all. The last three jobs I’ve had have never followed up with my boss at all.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Don’t worry. You have the best reason of all, you actually ARE moving. Give them a professionally reasonable notice and don’t look back. They are your employer, they don’t OWN you.

      “I’m sorry but I am relocating to a different (city, state, etc.) and it would make too far of a commute for me to stay on until you find a replacement. I will of course tie-up any loose ends before I leave and try to make this transition as smooth as possible.”

      As Alison says, this kind of thing happens all the time. They can be furious all they want, but people move, quit, retire, and sometimes even die. It’s part of doing business to find other employees to fill roles.

      1. nonegiven*

        Don’t even say a commute would be too long, that would make it possible. Just say you are moving out of the area.

  33. Coworker Woes*

    Coworker (a peer) is, to put it bluntly, terribly. She’s been here almost 5 years and shifts around to different teams because no one knows what to do with her, but no one will get rid of her. There are 5 of us with the same position within our department and she’s the only one who literally can’t do the job.
    It’s become clear that no one is going to do anything about her performance issues. My boss has tried extra training, etc and we don’t know what else to do with her.
    I know this is not going to change, but it’s aggravating now that she’s on my team to have some work taken off my plate and delegated to her, only to have to completely re-do it again when I get it back.
    And it brings out the control freak in me because I’d rather just do it myself in the first place, rather than spending the extra time to review the work and fix it to be the way it’s supposed to be.
    My boss wants to make recommendations to upper management to give her a different role that plays to her strengths (zero ambiguity situations, etc) but it seems like that won’t happen.
    Advice on how to deal?

    1. No Parking or Waiting*

      When you get back work that you have to redo, can you take it to your boss and ask for direction?
      “I don’t feel this is usable in it’s current state. To make it usable, I think I have to redo from (state earliest part, like pulling original data). How would you like me to re do and what should I pass on to my coworkers so that I have the time to do this?”
      Then wait for an answer.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Stop redoing her work. I don’t know if that is possible, but really think about this. See if you can pass her work back to her and let the bottlenecking start.
      At this point you no longer have a coworker problem, you have an upper management problem.
      Find ways to stop protecting them,TPTB, from their own foolishness.

      1. Kathenus*

        100% agree with this, stop covering for her. As long as you and the other coworkers keep doing the work again so that it’s up to standard, management has no motivation whatsoever to fix the situation.

  34. New Job New Move*

    I’ve been reading AAM for 4-5 years, but have seldom commented. However, I just wanted to say that this week I officially accepted a new job (after a 3 month interview process). The advice and community here were very helpful as I navigated the various interview stages. I’m very excited for my new position and I’m preparing for a cross-state move to Atlanta in January! Any advice on moving to a new city for a job?

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Congrats on your new job! I moved for a job and I can’t really think of anything too helpful except to really try to get an idea of the different areas of Atlanta before you choose a new place to live. And start packing before you think you need to because it always takes longer than you expect. If you don’t know anyone in Atlanta, think about joining some “” groups in topics that interest you.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I’ve done it several times. In two instances, the company I would be working for paid for a scouting/apt hunting trip, which helped a lot since I was unfamiliar with the areas and had few local friends/contacts. (these were coast-to-coast moves in the US)

      If that’s not an option, I’d recommend doing as much searching online as you can and make a short list of housing options that sound promising. Arrive a few weeks early to get settled and manage any household moves in case of delays with getting a place to live or delivery of the household stuff.

      One thing I wish I’d done more of was check traffic levels and rush hour issues – I managed to skirt the worst of it at my last job, but very easily could have ended up with a miserable commute.

      If it’s cross-state, you won’t have to worry about a brand new climate and the warddrobe changes that might require!

  35. Anon for this*

    How many follow-ups do you have to do before it becomes insane?

    I had to go in for surgery last week. It was an emergency and, though the timing was not ideal, it was absolutely necessary. I can’t believe I have to justify my surgery in this way, but this just goes to show how awful work is being about this. I did everything I could to make sure things would run smoothly while I was out recovering. I scheduled my mountain of tasks, met with everyone who needed to contribute, sent several follow-up emails, and did face-to-face check-ins on my last day in. I wrote out a list of everything that was scheduled to happen for my bosses and let them know how each task was being accomplished while I was gone (i.e. scheduled ahead of time, coworker is going to do x and then send, etc.). I thought, I guess mistakenly, that I had done enough to make sure that these tasks got done.

    Look, I know it’s a busy time at work and there’s lots going on for everyone, but I’m being thrown under the bus. People are seriously asking why I couldn’t edit something while high on painkillers, or why I couldn’t provide feedback while I was in surgery. I’m being blamed for missing deadlines that weren’t even mine to miss. I’ve now become the office scapegoat for everything that hasn’t gone right for the past few weeks and I’m so sick of it. I’m not the manager of my department, but the manager I do have is completely incompetent and disengaged, so I guess their job is now my job too? I guess the things that logically went awry because of lack of information from the top are my fault too? I’m being shamed in front of outside collaborators for my “failures.” I even had some people make light of/make fun of my swelling and stitches, including laughing when one popped. I left work in tears yesterday. I worked so hard to make sure that everything would be on track. I can’t believe I have to say this, but it’s not my fault that I needed emergency surgery. Is there anything I could’ve done to make sure that things went smoother? I just have a really hard time believing that this is all my fault and that their behaviour in this situation is okay.

    1. SarahKay*

      Wow. Your co-workers are truly horrible people. I was reading in horrified disbelief even *before* I got to the bit where someone laughed (WTF?!?) at your stitch popping.

      There is nothing more you could have done to make sure things went more smoothly. This is absolutely *not* your fault, and their behaviours are so far outside okay it’s just absurd. I don’t know if you have a useful HR department – if so I would certainly suggest making a complaint about the mockery of your swelling and stitches. If not – start job-searching now, because this is appalling.

      Oh, and for context – two years ago I needed an outpatient surgery to the back of my head leaving me with a shaved patch and stitches. No-one, but no-one laughed at me, the most I got was comments along the lines of “Gosh, SarahKay, that looks sore, are you sure you’re okay to be back at work?” My work was covered on the day I was out and my manger was amazed to see me back at my desk the next day (I felt fine, so why not) and triple-checked with me that I really felt well enough to be back and encouraged me to make it a short day. As far as I’m concerned this is what office behaviour *should* look like. Your workplace is horrible, and I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through all that.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        All of this. Your coworkers are disgusting people, and you need to start considering all of your options.

    2. Murphy*

      Um, no. You’re fine. Your office is horrible.

      This is not nearly that bad, but I held multiple meetings with two of my co-workers and left a document with clear instructions while I was in maternity leave (“If someone emails you asking X, check for that HERE…”) And my boss had to call me while I was on leave to find out the status of something that would have taken two seconds for someone else to look up if they’d bothered to check my instructions.

    3. LCL*

      None of it was your fault, and their behavior is not OK. Really, you shouldn’t have to explain at all. If you feel like engaging them use my favorite technique for dealing with the clueless which is to repeat their questions and suggestions back to them, and ask them to explain. Like, ‘should I edit a document when I am swacked on painkillers?’ “are you suggesting I should have had the doctor stop the surgery so I could answer work questions? How would that work?’ ‘Please explain why my swelling and stitches are funny to you, because I am not seeing any humor in this’.

      But you shouldn’t have to explain, the more direct route is the better choice in this case. “I had emergency surgery, I handled things the best I could given the circumstances.” Repeat every time someone starts blaming you.

    4. Mints*

      Oh god that’s so terrible. I hope you’re job hunting, and I hope people in your personal life were kind

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Holy crap. Even BullyBoss at OldExjob didn’t say a damn word when I had to be out because of gallbladder surgery. Your coworkers are the WORST. Their behavior is not in the least okay.

    6. Fuzzy pickles*

      It’s not okay. I went through a less nasty version of what you’re describing where I broke my foot and my useless animal of a co-worker made callous jokes about me, to me in a meeting with other co-workers.

      It’s not okay. It’s not your fault. And you should leave first chance you get.

    7. This Daydreamer*

      I’m blown away by how much you were capable of doing. I, just, seriously, what is wrong with these people? Did they need you to draw a map to the printer, order coffee and lunch for the whole office, make sure someone ordered enough sticky notes, create a laminated poster explaining how to use Google, and make individual wake up calls every morning for each member of the team? It’s going to take less than three hours for that place to go to hell in a handbasket when you make your escape. You had EMERGENCY SURGERY. If it had been me, I would probably remember to tell them I was having the surgery and wish them luck while I was gone.

    8. Kathenus*

      Agree with all of yesterday’s comments on this. If you happen to check back today and see this, you might want to consider putting together an email to your manager and to your grandboss or whoever is appropriate at a higher level. Describe all of the preparations you made for people to have the information needed before your surgery so there’s a written record of all the steps you took to help the organization be prepared to cover while you were out. Then, if you’re comfortable doing so, mention that since returning you are getting negative feedback from many levels about things that didn’t get done when you were not there and were not responsible for them. This may not change anything, but it will at least generate a paper trail documenting the steps you took and the unfair negative consequences you’re now enduring. I’m sorry you work with jerks.

    9. Anion*

      Jesus. What a bunch of inhumans you work with.

      There is NOTHING more that you could have done, and IMO these people are the lowest sort of scum for doing this to you. This was NOT your fault. (FFS, when I had to have emergency surgery, my husband’s work basically told him to come back when he was ready/I was feeling better and didn’t say another word about work he was missing or anything; they didn’t even ask when he might be back until I’d been home from the hospital for about a week, which means three weeks after the surgery, and they let him work a shortened schedule for almost a month after he did return–and they weren’t exactly the most caring workplace in the world, either, but there are some things that are more important. [I mention this to hopefully help demonstrate that the problem is the evil ficks you work for/with, not you, and that NO, their behavior is NOT okay.])

      Especially when you’re not even the manager! And they blame YOU instead of the incompetent tool who should have been the one making sure your work was covered etc.? I’m so furious on your behalf right now that I’m having a very hard time not just going off on a name-calling tirade.

      Please start looking for another job as soon as you feel able to. You do NOT deserve this, at all. And in the meantime, maybe it would help a little to think of this as a sociological experiment about what happens when you put a bunch of hideous semi-humans in one office together? And when they’re awful, pretend you’re writing a report on your experiment, something like, “The crab-people failed yet again to mimic normal human empathy and emotion in a situation where domestic pets would have at least sensed the need for both. It’s clear this project will not be a success world-wide, and we must start on developing Crab-People Mark II for further testing.”

      I don’t know. I’m honestly having a hard time thinking of any way to mitigate this, I’m so shocked and angry.

      NOT your fault.

      NOT okay.

      Please take care of yourself and ignore them as much as you can, because you don’t need stress when you’re trying to recover.

  36. Stella*

    Hi all. I’ve just this week started a new job. The team of 6 will be going for christmas lunch next week- they have already booked me a place. The thing is the resturant is quite expensive and I can’t really afford it so I don’t know what to do. My last wage from my previous job barely covered my rent (1 of my 2 reasons for leaving was the low pay) and I won’t get paid from new job until the end of December. I’m completely torn because I feel bad if I don’t attend the very first work socialising opportunity but also can’t afford it! Any advice?

    PS Congrats Alison on the book!

    1. peachie*

      Are you sure the company isn’t covering it? Many organizations set aside a small budget for this kind of thing.

      1. Stella*

        Nope, we have to pay for everything, it’s just for our team as opposed to the rest of our department.

    2. Artemesia*

      “I have just started and haven’t received a paycheck yet, I just can’t afford to do this. Why don’t I cover the phones and I’ll join in next year.” Then don’t let co-workers pay for you. “that is so sweet of you but it would make me feel like I was taking advantage; I’m happy to stay back this time and I hope I can join you for an event soon.”

    3. StrikingFalcon*

      Don’t feel bad. Just politely decline and let them know that it’s not because you don’t want to get to know them.

      It sounds like you expect you would be able to do this sort of thing in the future, so a possible script: “I’m sorry, I would really love to go, but [since I just changed jobs things are tight for me right now/it’s not in my budget right now], so I just can’t make it work this time. Let me know next time there’s a lunch outing though!”

  37. Folklorist*

    This is your, “Hi-it’s-been-a-while” ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!!! Go and do something you’re putting off and come back and brag about it!

    I’m going to fill out some travel expense forms. Ugh.

    1. Achieving new levels of tiredness*

      Finally finished a big step in my thesis work! I’m a little worried about this next meeting with my advisor since I’m still not where I need to be with my work, but I am proud that I got this chunk of it done.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Compiling the very long list of action items from a multi-day meeting with our customer; then executing said actions…

      (This week was exhausting. I want a nap. )

  38. Opalescent Tree Shark*

    I don’t know if I am looking for advice or just want to freak out to people who will understand.

    I reached out to my old grandboss a couple weeks ago to chat about my career path, as I am feeling about ready to move on from my current job. She and I had a great relationship and she knows approximately everyone in my industry, so I knew she would be able to give me guidance. Well, I didn’t expect it to turn out the way it did. We emailed back in forth a couple of times and then asked if she could call me last night. She told me that she had just accepted a new job (C-Level I think) on the other side of the country and they are looking for a new associate director and would I be interested. The job sounded like the perfect next step for me career wise, but I am not sure about moving to that state, but I said I would be interested. She told me to expect a call from the director and he called me literally 20 minutes later! I was definitely not prepared, but he was very nice and offered to connect with me on LinkedIn so I could ask him any questions I had about the position. He sent me a LinkedIn message an hour later that included a link to apply for the position.

    I have never been in this position before! I am used to desperately searching for jobs and hoping I can get one that pays me a living wage and has benefits. I’ve never been sought after before and I don’t know how to handle it. Most of the questions I have for him are things that I would typically ask in an interview. Is it ok to ask them now even though I haven’t even applied yet?

    1. Tableau Wizard*

      I’d pick one or two to open up the conversation about what exactly the job is. Don’t go into all the specifics of “What would someone need to be successful in this role?” or “What is the benefits package like?”. But he probably wants you to ask about the job, or he wouldn’t have connected with you.

      Also – yay! Did you submit your application yet?

      1. Opalescent Tree Shark*

        I have not. It’s all happening so quickly and I want to write a nice cover letter. I am also not entirely sure what tack to take with the cover letter. I guess focus mostly on why I would excel in the role and not about why I want to work for this particular organization?

        1. Tableau Wizard*

          I’m certainly not the cover letter expert, but I think you could include both why you’d excel as well as why you’d be excited to work for that organization specifically.

          I would recommend trying to match their pace as much as you can. If they’re moving quickly reaching out to you, you don’t want them to wait while you add the last 2% to your cover letter.

  39. Jimbo*

    Question for folks who work in membership associations. Are you a member of a society for association professionals such as ASAE? Do you pay out of pocket for membership or do you have your employer pay your membership? I took a look at the membership for these groups and they range from over $150 up to $325 for an individual membership. Do you find the price worth it? I intend to use membership primarily for networking and to become active in their online community of practitioners, specifically for people with my skillset (technology and digital) and also for the resource library.
    I am unemployed at the moment so will need to pay out of pocket for a 1 year membership. I’ve never joined a professional society for the association world before. I am targeting jobs in associations and want to maximize networking opportunities with people in that field. Trying to decide if the investment of up to $325 is worth it.

    1. peachie*

      I’m not but a few people in my organization are. I think my organization pays for it, but I’m not sure. If they do, I would consider joining–membership-based associations are such a different beast, and I think the access to the online community + the conference discounts might be worth it. I’d be curious to hear others’ thoughts, though.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I can’t tell if you only want to hear from employees of associations or just people who are in them – am in the latter group and my employer pays for a group membership for my team.

      Lots of associations will have a lower joining fee for people who are unemployed so you should ask about that.

      1. Jimbo*

        Thanks! I just called ASAE and they didn’t have a lower-priced membership fee for unemployed folks. It will be $325 for them. Just to clarify, I want to join a group like ASAE because it is the “association for associations” and the networking opportunities in my mind seems to be the best way to develop a network quickly and get active with communities of practice with folks who already work in the association world.

    3. Goya*

      Our company pays for a few memberships, but not all. If it’s a company/business related group, they’ll pay or at least chip in, but if it’s more of a networking/personal thing, you’re on your own.

    4. Overeducated*

      I am currently a member of 3 professional associations because I have a funding source for two and the annual meetings are in my city this year. The third has a low rate for early career professionals ($45) that I can pay out of pocket. I really don’t think they’re worth paying for every year without work funding, the only benefit worth the $$ is going to the annual meetings but those have additional financial and time costs and are not always possible. Getting the quarterly publiactions is not worth hundreds of dollars.

  40. Hopeful Data Geek*

    I’m so excited about something and I can’t really share it with anyone in my actual life.

    I started a new job in April – something that seemed perfect – a super short commute, exactly what I wanted to do, a department with a good growth path. Things hit the fan when a new leader was hired about 2 weeks after I was. My job was dramatically different within 3 months and moral has hit an all-time low on what used to be a super engaged team.

    Along the way, I’ve made a name for myself and made some valuable connections. There’s someone in the organization who’s starting a huge initiative that would make great use of some of my skills and he has written a position for me to transfer into his group. It’s a pretty great feeling to have proven my value so quickly and have people go out of their way for me like this.

    I’ve got to wait out a few more months before I can transfer, but i’ve got a light at the end of the tunnel. yay!

  41. CCF*

    Someone who sits near me has had 11 medical emergencies over the last few months. (Yes, we’re counting.) Each time is the same routine: they collapse at their desk, their coworker calls 911, EMTs arrive to assist, the person is taken out to an ambulance, and then they return 30-60 minutes later to continue their workday like it’s no big deal. The next 10-15 minutes are sort of like a social event for them and their team. “We’re so glad you’re back. Are you feeling ok now? Haha, I can’t believe that happened again.” And the person seems to enjoy the attention.

    It’s super awkward for everyone else. But since it’s a medical thing, nobody pipes up about it being awkward. Here’s what I’m wondering: is there anything that can be said about this without coming across as wildly inappropriate?

    1. Coworker Woes*

      What?! It’s really bizarre that this person comes back within an hour if they’re taken away in an ambulance. Maybe the supervisor can tell the person to take the rest of the day off and rest, then it wouldn’t be such a weird thing the next morning?

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            I realised I’m bristling at this because I have narcolepsy and used to collapse a lot. I would have been pretty upset if someone kept count as to how often it happened. I think I need to walk away from this conversation as I’m sounding too judgemental but please, stop and remember that this isn’t happening to you.

              1. Kj*

                I suspect it is awkward because everyone is freaking out because of the collapse, 911, ambulance and then it is like nothing happened and the co-worker is back. I’d be pretty concerned and very anxious when the next collapse might occur! I would also be worried that the co-worker might die at work or be really seriously hurt next time. I think some conditions, like narcolepsy, would not give me that reaction, but I would want to know why I shouldn’t be freaking out- yet you can’t ask because then you are prying into their medical status. It would be very hard for co-workers in this situation. The person collapsing is obviously the most impacted, but presumably he/she has the best info about what is going on and if it is really dangerous. I would also question my boss lets them (or worse, makes them) return to work the same day they were taken away by 911- I would be worried about unreasonable expectations by management and about management’s judgment.

                1. Ramona Flowers*

                  None of that means someone else needs to treat it as an awkward experience they are having. You can, but it’s not objectively so.

                2. CCF*

                  Yes, exactly. They’re stretchered out to a waiting ambulance and then they’re back within an hour like “Huh, just one of those things.” It’s raised a few eyebrows around the office. And most of us know what the condition is because we’ve heard EMTs talk about it. It’s not uncommon and most people with it don’t need emergency assistance for it every other week or so. This may be a worse case than others, though.

                  Also, this person’s manager is at a different location. I am sure they are alerted when it happens, but I do not believe they have ever been here for it. So that may play a role too.

                3. Kj*

                  Maybe awkward is the wrong word- I would not find this situation awkward, but worrying. This is pretty concerning on the face of it- maybe the other person is impacted by a simple condition and the collapse is NBD, but loss of consciousness is medically concerning on its face- which we all know, since 911 was called. They should not harass the collapsing co-worker about it, but should seek help from management about how to address this. If nothing else, I would be very worried when working with the co-worker- what if we had to drive somewhere together? What if her job involves something where collapsing could put her at risk? I realize this is not the OP’s problem to solve, but this impacts the OP.

            1. Who cares?*

              Do u need an ambulance every time? Doesn’t this cost money in the US? It does in my country.

        1. Coworker Woes*

          Well that’s fair, but maybe there’s a reason they feel like they have to return to work as fast as they can?
          It just seems unusual to me that they would return to work an hour after collapsing and getting medical attention.
          Guess it’s not really for the OP to solve or feel awkward about, though.

      1. CCF*

        Their manager is not at this location. I’m sure they are alerted when it happens, but I do not believe they have ever been here when it’s happened.

        1. fposte*

          Can you clarify what the problem is you’re trying to solve here? If it’s just that it’s awkward, I think that the team’s response deals with it pretty well, and that you can just decide it’s not awkward on your own.

    2. Bad Candidate*

      I don’t know, but I had a coworker that was kind of like that, but she wouldn’t come back. In fact she would be out for a month or so, usually right before a large project started. It happened several times. I honestly think she did it for the attention but also to get out of doing any hard work.

    3. fposte*

      I get that’s a weird thing to sit near, but what would you by trying to make happen by saying something? It sounds like she’s got something that regularly requires emergency attention and that her team has developed a routine around it. It seems like it’s a pretty compassionate and sane routine in a difficult circumstance. Is it disrupting your work to a point that you need to talk to a manager? Then I’d talk to the manager but not to the sick person.

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      What is it you think could be said?

      You could be talking about a colleague of mine, except they have epilepsy and we all know not to call an ambulance unless the seizure continues beyond a certain amount of time.

      What is it you think could be said or done? It’s not your business to know why this is happening. I’m sure if they were bogus callouts they would have been blacklisted or something. Their private medical information isn’t yours to know.

      And please, don’t assume they enjoy it. They might be laughing off the fact that they fall awkward. Or maybe they do. But that’s not really any of your business.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        Thank you 10000000% percent for posting this. Not to derail but I have epilepsy and my coworkers know the exact same thing. I laugh it off to ease their discomfort and to ease some of my tension also. It’s anything but enjoyable.

        Private medical information should definitely be kept confidential. Thank you so much for posting this response.

      2. CCF*

        I have no idea what could be said or done. That’s why I am throwing the question out there.

        I know what their condition is because I’ve overhead the EMTs talking about it. It’s easily manageable. The person just seems to not be doing a great job with it.

        1. fposte*

          Well, it’s likely it’s not that easily manageable for her, because she’s not managing it.

          You’re free to privately think that she’s bad at diabetes or whatever and to be annoyed by her, but you’re not giving any reason for this to be an actionable work situation. The disruption seems minor, and the manager knows.

          1. Kj*

            At my work, EMTs coming is not minor- we have a procedure to assign someone to greet them, direct them to the right location and give over emergency info on the person who is ill. It isn’t an all day thing, but due to the nature of my work, we also have to write incident reports when this sort of thing happens. It takes time and is disruptive. EMTs are for pretty extreme circumstances and I get anxious when I see them- I can easily see the office as a whole being upset about this.

            1. Kj*

              I’m going to add that this is not the person who collapses fault in any way- but it is human to be anxious about people collapsing and many people have had hard experiences when EMTs were called so it might bring up trauma for others as well. We can have compassion for the person collapsing and for the co-workers impacted by it at the same time. And I think co-workers have the right to talk to their manager and say that they are very concerned and would like re-assurance that the collapsing person is OK and maybe a procedure about what to do when this happens again. They don’t have a right to private medical info BUT if someone is likely to faint at work, I want to know what I should do about it if I find them on the floor! I mean, of course call 911, but from a work perspective what documentation is needed?

              1. fposte*

                If that’s the issue for you than you ask your manager what’s needed. That doesn’t seem to be the OP’s issue, though.

            2. Ramona Flowers*

              “I can easily see the office as a whole being upset about this.“

              I would urge you to stop projecting your own feelings into everyone else. I’m sure ambulances have been called for my colleague a few times and it would never occur to me to think everyone else might be upset by that and not just upset for them. You know it’s not life threatening as you know what the drill is already, right? And it sounds like people right near them do know what to do. Unless you are personally the one writing the incident report I don’t think you do need all these details.

              From what you’ve said it sounds like the ambulance may be bringing up personal trauma for you. If that is the case I urge you to talk to someone, eg an EAP, as that sounds difficult. But it is not objectively distressing for the entire office.

              1. Kj*

                Right now, you are accusing me of projecting feelings on to others- but you are doing the same, assuming everyone is easy-breezy about this. I want you to understand I don’t think everyone is distressed by this- but some surely are, just like some do not care. Why do you have such as investment in everyone saying “oh, well, just another day for collapsing co-worker! No need to worry this happened in the past! No concern about it happening in the future! She’ll be fine!” And maybe she will be. But she might not be. And it is fair for people to care about her and be impacted by this. Both can be true. I’ve REPEATEDLY SAID that OP should not bother the co-worker about this, but might need to consult her manager with her concerns.

                And I’m not saying I need details. I’m not the OP. But I see the concerns with a co-worker collapsing on the regular. Sorry if that is offensive to you.

            3. fposte*

              But the OP’s concern is with the response when the person comes back; I wasn’t clear if she thought 10 minutes was so much as to be disruptive or not enough.

              1. CCF*

                No, my concern is with the whole situation. When it happened last week, one EMT walked in and asked a coworker if they knew if the person had taken their medication recently because the last times that same EMT was here it turned out they hadn’t. Yet I can’t really drop by their desk and say, “Hey, take your med today.” I’m not their doctor or their mother. The attention party afterward is just icing on top.

                1. Ramona Flowers*

                  EMTs ask whoever is there because they need information in a hurry.

                  I really think you need to try to disengage.

                2. fposte*

                  Right, but you’re still not saying what you want to have happen (beyond the understandable wish that it would all go away). Do you want the manager to provide guidelines for you and/or your co-workers in these situations? Then bring that up to the manager. Do you find the response to her return disruptive to your work? Then ask your manager for some help on remove yourself from the area or putting on headphones. Do you want the co-worker to take her medication or behave differently so the EMTs don’t come in the first place? That’s out of your reach and you have to let that go (unless you’re really close, which it doesn’t sound like you are).

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          Unless you are their doctor you are not qualified to judge how well they are or should be managing it.

          What is your definition of easily manageable?

          There isn’t anything you can or should do about this situation. You are not their manager. It is not your problem.

        3. Not a Real Giraffe*

          Here’s the thing, I get where you are coming from. You coworker presumably has the ability to control a medical condition that disrupts your office regularly, but doesn’t. So you’re annoyed whenever it happens because maybe it doesn’t actually have to be happening. It’s awkward for you because it’s not how you would be handling the situation if you were your coworker.

          But you’re not your coworker. You don’t know why your coworker isn’t handling it the way you would, but there’s probably a reason for it. It’s easy to pass judgement in this situation, but I encourage you not to. Maybe you coworker likes the attention, but probably not. It’s expensive to be taken somewhere via ambulance once, muchless regularly. It’s probably completely mortifying to your coworker to have become “that” person in the office. Please, please try to replace your feelings of awkwardness with understanding and compassion.

          1. nonegiven*

            If they return 30-60 minutes later, are they even being transported? Could they have been checked out in the ambulance and possibly treated, refused transport, and then gone back to work? Every hospital ER visit I’ve been along for took way longer than that, without any collapse or loss of consciousness.

      1. fposte*

        I’m not sure it makes a difference to the response. Even if your coworker is Fakey McMalinger, there’s no value and a lot of downside in a coworker’s interrogating the situation.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I kind of want to know this too because I couldn’t tell if the OP was insinuating that the guy is faking.

      2. CCF*

        It seems genuine. This person is sort of pale anyway, but they look ghost-white when this happens. I don’t really know how one would fake that.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Then you need to let it go. I don’t understand what you expect this person to do. This is definitely an MYOB situation.

          1. CCF*

            I expect this person to not die at work. But they seem confident that passing out biweekly will not be detrimental to their health, so I guess I shouldn’t care.

    5. Traveling Teacher*

      Wow, that’s truly strange… Is it possible that calling 911 is overreacting? Maybe there’s something that can be done in-office instead? I sometimes faint because of a non-life-threatening medical issue. (Once in front of a roomful of children!) It looks frightening, but it’s actually no big deal. My school was legally obligated to call emergency services, and I assume it’s the same here, but it sounds like it could start to get embarrassing for this person if they’ve got something similar to me that doesn’t need emergency assistance.

      1. fposte*

        I don’t think even a manager can appropriately tell somebody they shouldn’t call an ambulance if they want to, though, and certainly a co-worker shouldn’t go anywhere near that.

    6. Sunshine Brite*

      I think that you could ask your manager for HR to work with the person to come up with a safety plan related to these incidents and if 911 is the recommended and their wishes then continue with that.

      1. WellRed*

        I like this. I also don’t understand why people are so upset with the person asking the question. Collapsing regularly at work, to the point of needing an ambulance is pretty unusual. I can see where that’s distracting and/or upsetting for coworkers.
        I say this as someone with a serious medical condition.

        1. As Close As Breakfast*

          I don’t understand it either. I get that there are different perspectives, but one of them is surely that this is a dramatic and distracting thing to have happen at work even once! I say this as someone that doesn’t have a medical condition that could cause this type of event and does not currently/has not in the past worked with a coworker experiencing these type frequent medical events.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          I reacted badly to the question because of the counting and the judging of whether someone else’s medical condition should be easier to manage.

          The counting is bad and needs to stop.

    7. Yorick*

      You shouldn’t do anything about the coworker, but maybe you can talk to your manager about ways to minimize how distracting this is for you.

    8. BA*

      We had someone at my last office who did something similar. A few people had posted instructions on what to do WHEN (not if) Fergus collapsed. This really helped everything because while it was still an emergency (and we called EMTs) no one really panicked and we knew we were handling things the way Fergus wanted us to. That could be a way to present it to your boss, making sure the person is taken care of how they want to be.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Speaking as a person who has assisted with many seizures, heart attacks etc., I think it is very normal to want a set plan in place for what to do and what is expected from everyone working in the area of ANY injured or unconscious person. It is fine to ask, “If I see an injured or unconscious person, what are my responsibilities as far as the company is concerned?”
      Perhaps your boss needs to have someone designed to do first aid training and be the contact or go-to first aid person when someone (ANYone) is injured or unconscious.
      A report should be filed every time an event happens. If an ambulance is called that should be part of the record.

      I have to say, I have caught people faking medical events. Not often. My guess is that 99% of the time the event is real. But there are a few who will fake it.
      The only consoling thing I ever came up with is, “It’s their life. They can do as they see best. Eventually fakers get found out and there is fall out when that happens.”

      If you honestly believe this person is doing it to seek attention (highly, highly UNLIKELY but not impossible) then why not go the opposite way. When the person seems to be doing okay and working along THEN give the person the most of your attention. Reward the positive.

      So you may have an obligation to report that they have passed out again or having other difficulties. Do what the company and your own ethics demand of you. But put in your best effort to have positive interactions during ordinary times.

      I want to be super-super clear here. You are walking a very fine line. We don’t know what it is we don’t know. And sometimes we are commanded to give of ourselves and our time in ways that we do not understand and we never will understand. There have been times where all I could say is, “Do I absolutely need to understand why I must do X Thing?” And the answer is: No, I don’t, it’s just up to me to do what seems necessary to do.

  42. Frustrated grad applicant*

    Vented here about two weeks ago and I want to vent again. In my early 30s, applying for PhD programs. This has been a hard semester, I’ve sacrificed a lot to make the applications good, and it is *so stinkin’ hard* to be turning in all the application with the chaotic tax code stuff going on in the background. Just Wednesday I went from turning in one application to calling my senators and pleading with their voice mail to not tax tuition remission for graduate students (and generally, not vote for the tax code anyway). I just feel so discouraged that I spent all this time on applications, that I said No to lots of other things that were important and good (family stuff, health/personal stuff, teaching stuff) to do this, and now it may all be for naught. Aaaaaargh.

    Okay, end rant.

    1. Artemesia*

      The major reason for this is to inconvenience and hurt smart people like you who just think you are so hot and getting a PhD and all. At least that is how it feels to me, as the money is not huge (except for the students who are to be burdened) I think it is appropriate to feel enraged but I would expect any help to come from the university which will have to figure out a way to pay students to cover the taxes if they are to have programs. The people writing a tax bill to help billionaires and destroy social security don’t care about you.

      1. Frustrated grad applicant*

        I’ll get to the part where I look to the university for help later. Right now I’m just. so. angry. about this. I get that they don’t care about me, but it doesn’t mean that I’m not upset.

      2. Yorick*

        Unfortunately, I don’t think universities will find a way around this, at least not most of them. Already, a lot of PhD students have wealthy families who can contribute to their finances, and this law will just make those the only ones who can pursue graduate school. It’s really unfortunate.

        Frustrated grad applicant, besides calling your senators, there’s nothing for you to do right now. Just continue applying. If this part of the tax code passes, you can decide then whether you should pursue graduate school or change your plans.

        1. Student*

          I think there are lots of programs that will step in and help as much as they can, if for no other reason than because it’s much cheaper than the alternative. Grad students are extremely cheap labor, relative to their skill sets, and they allow professors to bring in large government grants to the university. The willingness of the university to step in will likely be proportional to the “going rate” of similar labor, so it’ll be discipline-specific.

          You have to realize what an amazing deal universities get on grad labor. In STEM disciplines, they are easily getting $75k – $90k workers (with virtually no legal liabilities since it doesn’t count as “work” under the law, no payroll taxes, no retirement benefits, low overhead costs) for the low price of $20k per year salary. If they have to up that to $25k per year to cover the extra tax liability, they are still getting a grad deal on labor, and they’d be fools to walk away from it. They’ll lay off post-docs (normal employees at ~$50k salary per year, similar potential “real” salary range of $75k-$90k in STEM) well before they reduce grad student numbers.

          There’s also the loan industry. I suspect this is a special-interest hand-out to them. You, too, can take out a grad student loan specifically to pay the tax liability on your tuition waiver! Hurrah!

          The potential tax rule change for grad students is extremely cruel, even if universities step up to pay it. I know I would’ve struggled mightily with it in my grad school days.

          1. Yorick*

            I don’t think they’ll lose graduate students. There will be a smaller number of applicants who can’t afford to be taxed on the tuition waiver, so the cohorts will be made up of wealthier students.

            I’m sure there will be some universities or other institutions who try to minimize the damage in order to maintain some diversity in graduate student populations. But I’m not sure that it will be most universities or enough to really help.

            I agree the rule change is awful. I was barely able to afford grad school anyway, and this would have made it impossible for me.

            1. Student*

              It’s possible things have changed dramatically since I went to grad school, but: when I went, there weren’t a bunch of already-wealthy people applying and losing out to other students. They’re already accepting all such people. They’re accepting a pretty large percentage of people who apply. I’m sure this is not the case at a handful of elite universities, but it was generally true that there was more demand across the country for grad students than supply. They are an incredible deal on labor, and most of them could make more in the short term by applying elsewhere. I’d expect this shortage of grad students is exacerbated by the high employment rate in the US at the moment. It’s not, broadly, like undergrad programs, where there are tons of applicants for every open position.

              At my university, when I was in grad school, there were multiple years where my grad program accepted all applicants. When they rejected applicants, it was more about serious concerns about their ability to complete the program. They arguably accepted many students with low chances of completing the program that would’ve lost out if there were more qualified applicants in the pool.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You have so much sympathy from me. My partner is a doctoral student right now. We’re lucky because he only has 1.5 years left, he goes to a state university and he’s established residency. He said last night that he hopes he gets enough in grants next year to cover the tax burden, but that’s a pretty rough hope. I feel terrible for all the first- and second-years in his program. My fingers are crossed hard for you!

    3. SolidarityforGradStudents*

      I am totally with you on this. If I also see one more person posting about lazy millennials getting useless PhDs I’m gonna just scream.

      My husband would be slammed by this (fortunately, he’s defending in June) as would his colleagues. My husband’s research and field is literally an engineering discipline that goes into Navy designs and saves thousands and thousands of sailor’s lives. He says they’re going to completely cripple engineering research in this country.

  43. Turkletina*

    Next week, I’m giving a 15-minute presentation to a bunch of high schoolers as part of a Careers in Computer Science week. These are students at a specialized math and science high school, and I’m doing the presentation in part because I’m an alumna who got a PhD in humanities and now works in the tech industry. My work isn’t really “computer science” in the narrow sense — I’m not a software developer or anything like that. My job is half project management and half data manipulation.

    Has anyone given a presentation like this before? Any tips on pitching a short presentation to (a) high school students or (b) people who might be inclined to question the usefulness of a humanities background in a tech career?

    1. Ghost Town*

      My job is to recruit liberal arts and sciences majors to specialized master’s degrees, including information systems, so I have a bit of experience in the why humanities is relevant to a tech career, albeit to a college crowd. My email should be linked in my username if you want to chat off-AAM.

      Very generally speaking, diversity of background means a diversity of perspective. When working on teams to confront bus/tech problems, being able to assess the issue from multiple perspectives helps the team to come up with new and innovative solutions that a purely business or tech team may not have seen. Also, a lot of those “soft skills,” like writing, crafting a persuasive argument, ability to research, and communication skills that can be harder to quantify make these students valuable team members.

    2. Pineapple Incident*

      I imagine that a lot of these kids haven’t thought about their futures all that much. I know plenty of people who went to the math and science high school who learned cool skills there but ended up following a totally unrelated career path. I think you’ve got a real opportunity here to open up their minds beyond the traditional “you know computers, you should code for software development!” track since you do something different. Maybe you can speak to your role and others that use data science, programming and other tech-related skills that aren’t strictly limited to those things.

    3. Artemesia*

      Can you start with an anecdote from your work that vividly shows how your background adds value to this field?

    4. AnotherJill*

      I’ve got degrees in Psychology and Computer Science. Before that I was an X-Ray Technician and former art major.

      I’ve given similar talks and did a sort of how I decided what I wanted to be talk – I talked about what things drew me to computer science/technology and what I found interesting about what I did. I also talked about how it’s okay to change your mind and take some time to decide what really interests you.

    5. OtterB*

      My work involves statistics about doctorates and career paths in computer science. We often distinguish between core “computer science” and the larger field of “computing” which includes many interdisciplinary approaches. The tack I would take with students like this is that careers in computing are much broader than just coding. If they like core computer science and want to write compilers and operating systems, great! But if their strongest interests lie elsewhere, then computer science is a useful adjunct to almost anything these days.

      On average (not, of course, true for all individuals) women and members of underrepresented groups are more interested in work that connects with other people and lets them apply technical knowledge to serving their communities. Which means that giving these students a broader view of the field can help keep them in it.

      1. Tessera Member 042 (formerly GTA)*

        Echoing OtterB here that it would be good to emphasize that computing careers take all sorts of skills, from the scientific and computational to the design & humanities! In my experience as a high school teacher, students don’t often know specific careers within a larger field, nor what a job really “looks like” on a day to day basis, so those might be things to talk about.

    6. Mints*

      When I was in high school, I liked hearing about how people made their choices, more than the details of the work. I also liked hearing about what they liked about their job, but not the real duties
      “I wanted a stable job” “I wanted to make the most money” “I liked being creative but still wanted an office job” “I like traveling and talking to people”

      (Actually, what stuck with me was the person who talked about how she started out with something boring to pay the bills, then you wiggle in that job to what you’re good at, and keep wiggling, until you end up doing exactly what you want to do. Alison says something similar in the “What can you not stop doing?” post)

    7. Gloucesterina*

      Turkletina, what a cool opportunity! Maybe if you want to introduce some interaction, you could open by asking what students think a computer science or technology job involves (if you like this basic idea, you can also tell them you’ll wait until at least 3 hands are up to invite them to share their thoughts, so that you’re sure to get a few responses on the table). Based on what the students come up with, you can affirm or contrast what your role is like.

      I also wonder if the students will know what doing a Phd (in any field) is like, so if you can describe that process a bit that could be really engaging as part of narrating your career story, especially for students who may be the first in their families to attend college.

  44. GG Two shoes*

    I’m kind of bummed this week. I applied at a company and had a phone interview and a in-person 2 ½ hour interview a week later. I was told I had one of the best coverletters they had ever seen (both the hiring manager and the manager told me separately) and I felt like I really clicked with the manager. She even said that she could see me for another position at the company as well. She encouraged me to follow-up as they are in a huge growth period and hiring a lot right now.
    I sent emails to both after the interview as a thank you and per the advice from here, waited two weeks, this Monday (two weeks after in-person interview and after the holiday) to follow up. I haven’t heard anything. I’m getting discouraged, and I know I need to temper my expectations, not take it personally, understand that things get behind, etc. but I’m losing steam.

    Just wanted to vent. Any words of wisedom?

    1. Jadelyn*

      As you know, hiring takes several times as long as people think it does from the candidate side of things.

      Especially during the holidays – they might want you to do a second interview with someone else who’s on vacation. They might need to debrief with someone about your interview, who’s on vacation right now. They might need an approval to move forward and haven’t been able to pin down the Very Busy Executive long enough to get a yes or no out of them (I can’t tell you how many times that’s been a problem for me).

      And it’s not just the holidays – it’s year-end, which in a lot of companies and for a lot of functions is an enormously busy time.

      I’m supporting a recruiting process that’s been put on the back burner for a couple weeks, and I had to let the candidates know that. The reason for the hold? It’s for the commercial lending team, and they just got a couple of very deadline-intensive projects laid on them so they’re focused on that right now rather than hiring. Stuff like that happens all the time in hiring.

      I know it’s less than pleasant to hear, but you just gotta be patient. I tell my friends who are job searching, take whatever timeline they give you for when you should hear back, and double it – at least. Maybe triple it, during the holidays.

      1. GG Two shoes*

        You are right, of course. It was moving very quickly, but I’m just afraid they didn’t like me nearly as much as I liked them. I’m really afraid I sort of, “read the room” incorrectly. It’s a very desirable company and its a newly created position right up my alley, I’m just losing confidence. I’m trying to just keep my head down and keep focusing on my current work. I’m in a very fortunate position that the only real reason I’m looking at all is because I’m truly looking for a new challenge.

        I think what is holding me back is that they still have the start date listed as January 8th. To me, that means that would really need to have a decision by mid-December. I know I’m not out of the running yet, but in a few weeks, if I hear nothing, I suppose I should just move on.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          You are overthinking things! This is the time of year when everything slows down. A mid-Dec. decision isn’t necessary for a Jan 8 start date. I’d wait another week and then follow up with your contact. They might still be interviewing candidates. Our hiring process is painfully long takes at least two months before we make a decision (but we do at least two interview rounds).

          1. GG Two shoes*

            I’m sure I am over thinking things. In the last year, I’m been a final candidate a few times and haven’t gotten the job so I am feeling a little… disappointed I guess. Not to mention that nearly every one of my friends have changed jobs recently and haven’t had a hard time doing it. I just need to remember: 1. we are in different fields 2. I’m director-level and thus it’s a little more competitive.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              Oh, I get it – I think we all “overthink” in these situations. And remember that being the final candidate several times means you are doing something right. It’s so much harder at the director level. I hope you get the job!

            2. Anion*

              Best of luck to you! Please keep us posted if you can.

              And I know that at pretty much every place I or (especially) my husband has worked, they tend to put off decisions or actions until after the holidays and the end of the year. It’s possible they listed a Jan 8 starting date just to indicate it would be after the new year, but actually mean that’s when they’ll be making the decision or something like that, too.

              I’m crossing my fingers for you. :-)

    2. Bess*

      Two weeks, especially with a holiday, and especially nearing Christmas and New Year’s, is really no time at all for hiring. November and December seem to really melt away when everyone starts taking vacations, big projects come due, yearly budgets are sometimes being hashed out, and people and their families start to get SIIIIIIIICK.

      I’d do the “file it away” thing and try to treat it like a success that you’ve gotten as far as you have, if that helps keep some wind in your sails. Because it is a success!

  45. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

    About a year ago our company introduced a new compliance process, hiring a team of 12 admins to handle case management. It was a huge undertaking that took a lot of time for our customers to get used to, but it eventually proved to increwase compliance greatlt and became a selling point for the business. Then a few months ago we were tasked by corporate to trim and non-revenue generating processes, and this one was one of the big ones because the costs were all out of pocket. Without even notifying the customers that a change was in the air, they laid off the entire department and called the customers to basically say “We’re not doing this anymore, and if you want the benefits of the process you’ll have to take it on internally.

    Needless to say the customers have uniformly balked and threatened to take their business elsewhere, so management backtracked and said that they’d give the customers along lead time before ending the process after all, so they can investigate if they have the resources on their end to take the process over (which is what us customer-facing folks recommended and were summarily dismissed). The only problem is that everyone who did that process is gone now, and we’re in a hiring freeze so we can’t get them back. So we’re just kind of…not doing it, even though we;ve told the customers it’s business as usual for now. It’s a house of cards and I’m just wanting for the whole thing to collapse, which based on the volume should be Jan-Feb sometime.

    1. Jadelyn*

      …and this is the problem with being focused on “revenue-generating” vs “non-revenue-generating” processes/roles/functions/departments. A department doesn’t have to directly produce revenue to have value. UGH, it drives me up a wall when short-sighted/dollar-signs-focused people devalue the contributions of support teams that bring other kinds of value to the business.

      Like HR. HR is generally not seen as revenue-producing. But good HR keeps your ass out of legal trouble, helps you find and hire the right people, supports training (whether in-house or by liaising with training vendors), manages employee benefits to keep people happy…

      Or I.T. I.T. doesn’t directly bring in revenue for most orgs, but think about how much better your revenue-producing teams work when they can rely on their tech to run smoothly and don’t have to take time to troubleshoot their own issues or fix the printers.


      Sorry. I just…this kind of thing is infuriating. You have my sympathies, and hopefully the blowback when it does collapse hits the higher-ups right in the face and snaps them out of their BS.

      1. NoodleMara*

        I feel you especially right now. Most of the hourly workers were laid off for our slow season, which normally isn’t done but it hasn’t been a great sales year. But those hourly workers were decently busy all winter doing maintenence and teapot storage cleaning and clay sampling. So now all the salary support folks get to do that. :))))

        I’m job searching now because it’s ridiculous.

    2. Pineapple Incident*

      Ugh that sucks.. I’m sorry your company decided this was something that needed trimming from your operations, considering the boost in compliance and that it probably did save money that might have been spent resolving issues related to that process. All I can really offer is commiseration- my old company used to do crap like this all the time, and I work for the federal government now so the issues there go without saying.

      1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

        We were acquired last year by a Fortune 500 company and this is the sort of thing we’ve been tasked with by them so that they *don’t* close our doors. It sucks.

    3. Jerry Vandesic*

      Applying a bit of cynicism, if any of the customers are US government entities, file a whistle-blower lawsuit against the company for fraud. They are claiming to provide a service that they are in fact not providing.

  46. Bad Candidate*

    I know Alison has said before that you can leave short term jobs off a resume, but at what point should it be on a resume?

    1. Allypopx*

      I have a short term canvassing job on my resume because a) those jobs are always short term b) my stint was less short term than some and c) I think it shows I can work well in an environment known to be crappy and stressful. Can you justify your job like that? Were you there more than 6 months a year? If either of those is a yes, maybe include it. But ultimately it’s up to you.

      I also have this in an “other experience” section of my resume that’s more compressed and doesn’t go into a lot of detail

  47. Cuddles Chatterji*

    Should I ask my manager if I can move to another cubicle due to excessive coughing noise, and if so, how should I frame it?

    My current location is next to a person who constantly clears their throat, coughs, and blows their nose and has done so for the better part of the past 2 years. I suspect this is due to health/medical reasons, but it still drives me insane to the point where every sound this person makes disrupts my attention. I know misophonia is a thing, and I’ve tried earplugs and headphones, but I can’t use those all day long. It’s gotten so bad that I really resent this person, even the way they proverbially “eat crackers”.

    The alternative location could be more noisy due to foot traffic, printer usage, and more talkative people, but would be far away from the coughing person and improve my currently “meh” job satisfaction. There’s other issues around my job satisfaction, and I’m not sure I’ll be in this position 2 years or even one year from now. But this small change would hopefully help make that time more palatable.

    1. CAA*

      If the place you’d move to is empty and there’s no other reason why you need to sit where you are right now (e.g. proximity to colleagues or managers you work with regularly), then I think it’s fine to ask. I’ve occasionally had people ask to move to a different spot, and if it’s possible I’d always do it. It’s a totally free thing that improves an employee’s job satisfaction.

      Your manager might have to notify facilities or ask HR, and if the spot “belongs” to another team, she might have to talk to their manager to find out their plans for it. For these reasons it might not be an instant yes, and it might in the end be a no, but it’s not likely that it would hurt anything to just ask about it.

    2. zora*

      Is there a harm in asking? I think it depends on your manager and your capital with your manager. If you think they would be open to considering it, and they are reasonable and will say no if they have a good reason to say no, then I would go ahead and ask.

      However, I would focus it more on the place you want to move TO, rather than talking about your coworker. I would say something like, “Would it be possible for me to move to X desk? I feel like it would make me more comfortable and it would be easier for me to do my Y tasks that require concentration. I understand if there are reasons that’s not doable, but I just thought I’d ask, since I think it would make my days a lot smoother.”

      But, if you think your manager would not be reasonable about this question, you really need to think through the trade offs. How much political capital are you burning, do you need that for more important things, how bad would it be if your manager retaliated, etc.

      1. GG Two shoes*

        This exactly. A new(ish) person in our company asked to be moved to a different desk/area after about a year mostly because he didn’t like his (senior) co-workers chewing habits. He was granted the move, but it was really seen unfavorably by people. He moved away from his department and it really looked like favoritism and “the squeaky wheel gets the oil” that he was granted the move. It was his first job after college and that combined with other things, made folks side-eye him a lot. It wasn’t long after that he moved on from the company even though he was in-line for to take the senior’s job in less than a couple years.
        Be really careful about how it could be precieved.

        1. Cuddles Chatterji*

          The vacancy is adjacent to someone else in my department. That being said, I do see how some people might get to wondering why I would want to switch locations after so long in one spot.

          1. zora*

            That’s a good thing to think about but don’t overdo it. If it’s just a matter of a few people being like ‘hmm’, then I wouldn’t worry about.

      2. Cuddles Chatterji*

        I’ve been in this job and cubicle for over 5 years. My now-boss was in the cubicle on the other side of the cougher before he got his current position about 6 months ago and moved into an office. Now that I think about that, Boss already might be aware of–and possibly even sympathetic to–some of the ambient noise issues. Hmmm. Thanks for the suggested phrasing.

  48. Red*

    LESS THAN A MONTH UNTIL YHE END OF THE SEMESTER!!! I can’t wait to finish studying and working all the time and actually see my friends again.

    Anyone else here in college and excited to see the light at the end of the textbook?

    1. Pineapple Incident*

      I just turned in my thesis paper for my Masters degree with my advisor’s recommended (and thankfully very minimal) edits, and will present on the 11th. The light is nice and getting so close!

      Congratulations on almost reaching the finish line for your degree!!

      1. Red*

        Lol, im not even close to finishing my degree, im just trying not to even think of spring semester at this point!

        1. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

          Someone renamed our Whatsapp group “Class of 2039”. Still laughing.

    2. Frustrated with Job Seeking*

      My niece is. She’s actually counting the HOURS until the end of the semester. She’s a 2nd year nursing student and seems to always have her books open doing homework.

    3. selina kyle*

      Not me, but several close friends are finishing up school soon and I’m excited for them and you! It’s almost there, you got it.

    4. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

      I have one exam and two finals looming. I need to sleep, like, a month or two. And loose at least a some of the weight I put on this year.

    5. Red Reader*

      Yuuuup. My last everything for this semester is two weeks from today, and then there’s only one semester between me and two masters degrees.

    6. AnotherJill*

      I retired from teaching last spring. I am ECSTATIC not to be getting ready to give and grade final exams and projects. I’m actually going to have time to enjoy getting ready for Christmas for the first time in years.

    7. Crafty*

      I teach at the college level and I have two weeks left and I am SO READY. I think a lot of professors get this way with the fall quarter/semester, too!

    8. Urban teacher*

      Grad school also. In fact avoiding writing a policy memo by reading AAM. Next semester will be my last. I’m excited because Monday I meet with a resume writer. I’m switching careers and have no idea about how to talk about what I can give to a company.

  49. pmc*

    During my performance review this year, my boss told me that due to the pay band for my position, the max salary increase I could expect moving forward would be 1% (that is also the increase I got this year) because I negotiated a higher salary before I started. We started talking about a potential title change since my current one doesn’t really represent what I do – thus potentially increasing my pay band – or getting approval for tuition reimbursement. Then he was fired two weeks later.

    The COO reached out and said she’d be happy to continue talking about both of those options or I could talk to my supervisor who is now my new boss, but I’m kind of at a loss. My lack of salary increase would be worth it to me if I could get an MBA, and I have started researching local business schools. How should I bring this up with my new boss? What questions should I ask, and what should my tone be?

    1. CAA*

      During a one-on-one, say something like “Before he left, I had been talking with ex-manager about the next steps in my career here. We had been mulling over having me move into the x role so I’d have a title that more accurately reflects my actual work, or working on setting up a tuition reimbursement plan. I know he’d talked to COO about this, and I think I’d like to pursue the tuition reimbursement option. Can you follow up with COO and get that started, or would you like me to do it?”

      Probably your new manager is already aware of this past conversation. If he had to step in after your ex-manager was fired, it’s pretty normal for someone to sit down with him and go over the status of each person he’s now managing. Since your COO reached out to you, this is clearly something that upper management was aware of, so it’s highly likely they mentioned it to your new manager during the transition.

      1. pmc*

        That script is exactly what I need. Thank you!

        Now to tell her I want an MBA rather than the MPA she suggested…

        1. M*

          Perhaps you should suggest how much more valuable you’d be to multiple departments with a more generalized MBA graduate degree rather than one with a narrower focus like an MPA.

  50. HappySong*

    Has anybody ever transitioned into a career in HR from a different field? I’m a project manager but have been realizing over the last few months that I ultimately want to move into HR. Unfortunately although I think I have some related skills, it’s not even close to what I went to school for, and since I just started a new job fairly recently it’s not the time to be making big moves. If I manage this transition, it would be a process over the next several years. Luckily the company I work at is big on professional development and management training, so I can try to brainstorm some goals to tackle over the next year that might put me in a better position to pursue HR down the line.

    Has anyone ever made a similar move? Any wisdom to share?

    1. Amber Rose*

      I am also curious about the answers to this so I’m piggybacking a bit, but do you mind if I ask you a question? What makes you want to move into HR?

      I’m trying to get out of my current role but I don’t know to what, and so I’m curious what makes other people want to switch to new fields.

      1. HappySong*

        I’ve been thinking about it as a vague possibility for a while for a number of reasons. I’ve worked with some great HR people who developed programs I found really exciting, like leadership training, recruiting programs, philanthropy, etc. I’ve done some hiring before so that aspect is also really interesting to me. But beyond that, I’m nerdy about things like workplace culture trends, employment laws and understanding the grey area between what employers can and can’t do, so it’s something I want to explore more and help other people understand. It also helps that I’ve worked in a handful of “cool” startups that had no HR structure — it really opens your eyes to how important that work is when no one is doing it!

        To be super honest, it’s cheesy but I actually had a mini-epiphany about it a few days ago. I’ve been communicating with an amazing HR rep for a company I used to work for. She’s investigating a harassment complaint against someone I used to work with, so she reached out to me for some info. When she explained the investigation process, it sounded stressful and intense but still something I really wanted to get involved in doing. So that seemed like a good test: if finding out about one of the most difficult, high-pressure tasks someone has do in their job doesn’t deter you from wanting it, it’s hopefully a good sign.

        1. Amber Rose*

          Thanks so much for the detailed response!
          I currently work in a somewhat similar field in that it requires a lot of training development and investigation and stuff, so maybe I should look more into this.

    2. Amy*

      I transitioned into HR by helping the HR manager whenever I could. I had been working as an Administrator when she asked if I could help her out with some projects. My boss agreed, as long as it didn’t interfere with my work. About 6 months later, a recruiter position opened up internally, I applied and got the job. My boss was very supportive and he knew that I was interested in HR. If possible, see if you can help out in your HR dept. I’ve also had several HR friends that came up through the ranks of Staffing offices. Also, if you can, join your local SHRM group. Good luck!

  51. Jadelyn*

    Send good vibes my way, please – I’ve been promised that I’ll hear today about the job reclassification/salary adjustment that has been “in the works” most of this year. Would love advice on negotiating on a promotion/raise offered at a current employer – it’s not like a job offer where I could walk away, because I’m going to take the promotion anyway, but I’d like to make sure the pay is fair.

    Because I’ve been horribly underpaid pretty much the whole time I’ve been working here. Market comp for this area would run $60k-70k for my new role (which I’ve actually been *in* and doing for this whole year already), we’re a nonprofit so I think it’ll probably be in the $50-55k range instead, which is fine given that I’m currently making $37k (while the temp admin we hired to help take admin stuff off my plate so I could focus on the new specialist stuff I’m doing is making over $40k haha isn’t that a laugh) – but with the track record of the organization using my “inexperience” as a reason to underpay me, I’m not at all sure the offer will be fair, even though I’ve now got 4 years of overall experience, 1 in the specialist area, I got my degree earlier this year, and got a professional certification last year.

    So, any advice on negotiating a raise offer at your existing job would be great. Thanks!

    1. CAA*

      When they give you your new title, ask what salary they were thinking about for this role (assuming they haven’t already mentioned it). Then you say “I know the market rate in this area for someone with my experience is a minimum of $60K. Is there any way we could get closer to that?” Then be quiet and wait for them to respond. Resist the temptation to jump in and negotiate against yourself.

      Best of luck!

      1. Jadelyn*

        I just talked to my VP – no decision today, we’re being told Tuesday or Wednesday. ARGH!! But it’s been confirmed that when I do get my raise, it’ll be retroactive to the start of this year since that’s when I was actually in this role. So there’s that much at least. I asked if we knew what the salary range was going to be yet, he said no. But I really like that wording, so I will keep it tucked in my pocket for the follow-up discussion next week. Thank you!

        1. Denise in Las Vegas*

          Remember the “and then be quiet”!
          It’s chess. Make your move and then wait for the other side.
          Good luck! :-)

  52. Pineapple Incident*

    Short version: Any advice on how to manage when you feel like you’re doing 2 jobs?

    Long version: I’m doing extra work because the groups I support have various staff shortages. In short, the extra work is in an area that I hate- i.e. I normally review these packages but putting them together (what I’m doing in addition to my regular work) is tedious, requires lots of communication with outside entities that don’t understand our required documentation, and loads of waiting for people to respond to requests for info/signatures/etc. I am sometimes spending so much time on these extra duties that I’m eating into time on projects I like much more (process improvement for my office and the like, as well as my *actual* job). I’m still able to get everything done, but I feel like I’m burning out and it’s starting to make me want to leave.

    I haven’t yet been here a year and before this, wanted to stay for at least another year in my position because though this is not my desired field, the office culture is great and they’re very interested in professional development. This extra duty isn’t going to be shifted to someone else for at least several months, perhaps longer. I’m actually meeting with my boss today for our weekly 1:1, and I’m planning on asking for a raise considering I’m doing all of these extra things, working on other new projects, and my contract renewal is in January.

  53. Frustrated with Job Seeking*

    How do you stay motivated/keep going when your job search seems fruitless and never ending? I’ve gotten interviews and received good feedback when I’ve followed up but there was a more qualified candidate, they promoted internally, etc.

    I’ve had my resume reviewed, read this website’s resume and job search advice and happily use it. How do you stay positive and keep going when job searching gets you down?

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

      I wish I knew. I’ve been looking for a job since January and I feel absolutely awful and like a giant failure at life. I have even been turned down for volunteer positions. I had one interview and one rejection letter and all the rest I didn’t even get a response to.

      All I’ve really managed to do is just keep searching and applying for things, and going back on antidepressants. I’m not hopeful right now though.

      1. Anion*

        Here’s hoping for better things for both of you soon. I’m so sorry you’re having a hard time.

    2. Bad Candidate*

      I’m sorry, I have similar issues. Really the only thing that’s helped me is antidepressants. :\ Just keep swimming.

    3. nep*

      I hear you. Sorry you’re having to face this.
      Of course it’s no consolation (because there’s still no job)…but I will say the fact that you’re getting interviews must mean that your presentation — and more importantly the content and what you’ve got to offer — are strong.
      It can feel downright debilitating, being passed over time and again. It sure has a way of killing the motivation to keep up those applications, resumes, and cover letters. But bottom line is you’ve got to do it. I know you know that.
      I’ve been looking for months and the furthest I’ve gotten — in one single case — is an email requesting references. (Didn’t end up going any further. References were not contacted.) I will say that I feel a hell of a lot worse about my job search when I’m not exercising regularly, drinking a lot of water, and eating healthy foods. It helps me immensely to handle the really down moments that come. They still come, but I am better at facing them when I feel healthy and fit. It’s just one outlet — you might have others. Something that makes you feel good about you and feel stronger in the face of this challenge.
      Wishing you all the best. It will happen. Please keep us posted.

  54. HK*

    Weird question here.
    I’m an executive assistant at a non-profit. Last year for my birthday, my bosses got me a gift card. This year, one boss remembered to wish me happy birthday on the day of (I took the day off), and the other was out on PTO but didn’t say anything until he was back in the office. I did not receive a gift this year.
    Is this something I should be weirded out about? (They’re both busy people and don’t remember things well.)

    1. fposte*

      I’d check against the standard of the office in general. However, in my experience actual gifts are an outlier, and I really wouldn’t expect a boss who was out on my birthday to remember it when he came back; I’m impressed that somebody reached out to you on the day when you were out. So unless everybody else working there always gets a gift card or just plain card, I’d assume you got a little extra attention when you were new but that it’s not a big birthday place.

    2. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      Nah. Since they did both wish you a happy birthday, I’d assume the stars just didn’t align. It was kind of them to get you a gift last year, but it doesn’t sound like a deliberate slight that they didn’t this year. Unless you’ve noticed other things going on, I wouldn’t stress about it.

      And happy (belated) birthday!

    3. HK*

      Thanks guys. This is partially my anxiety brain, and also comparing to last year/the other EA in the office.

  55. SandrineSmiles (France) At Work*

    Well, that new job I’ve had since the end of September is so different from my previous big job I’m still not used to it.

    1) I get told how valued I am
    2) I get complimented on things that still make me blush (my ego is thankful though)
    3) Most coworkers are extremely friendly.

    It got “so bad” (yes really) that my body had a small breakdown two weeks ago. So much tension before, so much pressure from supervisors, and many things just went poof and my body had defenses down and wooshhhhhh I had to be off work for a few days. My doctor said that after what I’d been through at my previous job, she wasn’t surprised and she just said I needed to rest a bit.

    I think I managed to get through this episode thanks to AAM and the memories I have of people sending in letters about being traumatized by a job and not knowing how to handle a nicer boss in the next job or something. I’m so happy.

    (I went back and had to be off again for a few days because of getting 7 teeth pulled but yeah) I am so thankful to be at peace at work now. I’m “only” a receptionist, and the biggest annoyance is having to field telemarketers, but really, if it weren’t for the location that is a liiiiitle annoying, I’d stay here forever.

    So yeah, this is a silly happy rambling from someone who, FINALLY, is just HAPPY at work *_* .

    (Maybe the fact that I have a computer and some internet for down times is an added bonus… yeah, maybe haha)

    1. CAA*

      I’m so happy for you! I’ve been reading your posts here for a few years, and it’s so wonderful to see one that feels like you were smiling when you wrote it.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      I’m SO thrilled to hear this! It sounds like your new position is an awesome fit, Sandrine! One weird thing that I’ve noticed is how, even though they are stressful, crises can at least be cathartic because there’s an outlet for all the built up tension. It takes some time to adjust to just not building the tension, but in the meantime, it’s a whole different kind of stress that you can’t release. It will take some time to adjust, but it sounds like you are in a really good place.

  56. Namast'ay in Bed*

    This happened to me at my last job, and I’m wondering if you guys would have handled it different or maybe what to do if this happens again.

    I’ve always worked best when I have an on-site manager. I’m not saying I need my hand held or that I need someone glaring over my shoulder to be productive (I don’t, I hate micromanaging), but I’ve always found myself happier and more successful when my manager was a quick walk away, or that I just had the opportunity to interact with them in person. So I was concerned when about a year ago my manager told me that the team was growing and as such, I was going to be transferred to another manager, one who works on the opposite side of the country. I worked great with this person and liked them personally, but I expressed that I was concerned about having a remote manager (in a completely different time zone), citing that in my past experiences, this didn’t work out too well for me. My manager essentially hand-waved my concerns away, telling me it would be fine, that my and the team’s communication tools/skills were great, and that I would barely notice the change. Well, it didn’t go great, things got significantly worse for me and I left the organization within a year.

    I’m wracking my brain for what I could have done differently – this marked the second time that things are going great, I get switched from an on-site manager to a remote one, things get worse, and then I leave the organization a year later (technically the first time I was laid off, but I was desperately trying to leave anyway and who knows maybe they would have chosen someone else had things not changed), so I feel like I can strongly say that remote mangers are not good for me.

    There is also a chance I have had bad managers that weren’t equipped to handle remote management, and a good manager would change that, but is there anything I could have done differently? If I find myself in this position again, is there anything else I can do besides maybe start job searching?

    1. SarahKay*

      I have a remote manger, and I’m not wild about it either. One thing I found that helps is to schedule weekly meetings with them, even if just for 15 minutes. My Outlook meeting request is framed as “Just a very quick informal weekly catch up for any questions or problems with the [sitename] site”.
      It gives me (and my manager) a chance to bring up any of the little problems that you don’t mind raising when you bump into someone at the coffee machine, but don’t quite feel is worth calling them when they might be busy. It also usually generates a couple of minutes of friendly chat which helps us get to know each other, and, for me at least, makes me feel more comfortable about approaching them when I need to.
      I’m sorry things worked out so badly for you.

    2. Havarti*

      When you say things got worse, can you cite some examples? Like you couldn’t move forward on something because they didn’t communicate in a timely fashion or was your brain going “My boss isn’t here, lets stare at cat videos all day long! Wheeee!” Were your coworkers slacking off? We kinda need to understand how it went wrong in order to determine if there was something you could have done differently.

    3. DDJ*

      I would recommend talking to your remote manager about the kinds of things you need. Whatever that may be. Is it the ability to call up your boss every now and then to chat? Or for your boss to call you up a few times a week just to see how things are going? Do you want a weekly meeting?

      Without knowing details of how things “didn’t go great,” and then “got significantly worse,” it’s hard to say what you could have done. The bottom line is that remote managing is becoming a lot more common. My first ever leadership position involved remote employees, which was a huge adjustment for me, as well as for my employees. Regular check-ins didn’t work all that well, but assuring my employees that they could call me any time seemed to really help. It’s more like ‘just stopping by’ than scheduling formal calls or meetings. And actually being available and proving that they could do that was important. It was rare that I ever missed a call from an employee (although we have one of those programs that lets people see when you’re at your desk).

      I mean, a good manager is a good manager. You could have an on-site manager who sucks, or a remote manager who sucks. And maybe that’s what it was, in your case. Maybe your new manager just sucked, and would have sucked equally had they been on-site.

      For example, if you had an on-site manager who was on the road a lot, or in meetings constantly, and very difficult to actually pin down, you’d be no better off, if what you’re looking for is impromptu connection.

      The unfortunate thing is that usually, these types of decisions (changing reporting structure) take a lot of work to implement, so it’s very unlikely that anything can be changed once it’s put into place. Unless work suffers across the board and the higher-ups realize that maybe the change wasn’t a good one. Did your coworkers seem impacted to a similar degree? If you’re wondering if there’s anything you could do or say to change someone’s mind about reporting structure? Probably not. If you wanted to stay with the organization, you might look for other positions that DO report to an on-site manager. But there’s no guarantee it won’t change, if you’re in an organization that makes those types of changes.

      In my organization, there is a LOT of remote management. It’s just the nature of the business. So it might be something to research the next time you’re job-hunting. Or you might want to think about questions you could ask in an interview that might help you figure out if it’s a possibility.

  57. Elizabeth*

    I’ve gotten the impression from Alison and commenters here (and my own experience) that “contracts” aren’t the norm in the U.S. for full-time (salaried, exempt) employees. But some tech industry colleagues and I are discussing this, and apparently I’m an outlier.

    (Side note: an offer letter isn’t a legal contract, is it?)

    1. fposte*

      Are you an outlier in your opinion or in your contract status? You’re right that simply getting an offer letter does not mean you have a contract; what a letter actually binds an employer or employee to is best left to a lawyer in the relevant state who’s seen the document.

      1. Elizabeth*

        4 people have contracts, two (including me) don’t, and most of the other people in the conversation thought contracts were fairly normal.

        1. CAA*

          These people are working in the U.S. for American companies? No, contracts are not normal, and I’m surprised you found 3 people who have them.

          Especially in tech, there’s a thing where a company contracts with another company to provide temporary workers. Those temporary workers are often called “contractors”, but the workers have not signed a contract. Typically they are ordinary at-will employees of the staffing company and they can be let go at any time, just like any employee of the company they’re “contracting” at.

          Similarly, I worked for a government contractor and would sometimes talk about “our contract”, but I wasn’t personally a party to that contract. It was between the government and my employer.

          These people could also be working as individual contractors, but if that’s the case, they would not be considered full-time salaried exempt workers. There are laws about how much of their work the employer controls, and they can’t receive a salary, just the payments that are specified in the contract itself.

        1. zora*

          Well there are some sectors that more commonly use ‘Contractors’ who do have a contract, because they are a more limited worker than a full employee. I have heard of this in tech, though I don’t know any one specifically who has one. But at my friend’s startup, there is apparently one person who was hired as a contractor to work on a specific project, so he has a ‘contract’ for that project, what it will entail, what the deliverables are, the time period and how much he is paid. I believe my company (a PR company) has a few contractors as well who also work on short term projects, but they don’t come into our offices, they work on their own and on their own schedules.

          But the same company has many other people who are hired on as full time employees who don’t have a contract, and are at will employees.

    2. nonegiven*

      My nephew started working for company A. After many years, they switched things around and he was working for company B on the company A contract. Now he’s working for company C on the company A contract. Mind, he’s in the same location and on the same team and has been promoted to lead over the years. The name on his paycheck changed twice. He’s always been a W2 employee and the contract is between the companies, but technically he’s a contractor for company A.

  58. Adhyanon*

    Any federal contractors or civil servants who can advise? I’ve noticed quite a few around these parts. I’m a federal contractor, but I get my healthcare benefits through my spouse. We got a new company based in a different state when the contract changed over a couple of years ago.

    This year I have a direct report who does get their benefits through the contract. The premiums are least double! what a similar plan would cost on our State of California insurance exchange, even without subsidies. Daphne, my report, makes enough that she doesn’t qualify for subsidies. But, the company won’t let her take her Health & Welfare allotment (almost $9000/year) in cash, they insist it has to go for their health insurance ($8500/year in premiums for an individual, $23,000/year for family of 4) or go into a 401K. They consider the H&W, which she’s required to receive under the contract the “employer’s share” of her healthcare.

    The only thing we’ve come up with is to put the $ into her 401K and buy through the exchange. It just seems so crazy that their healthcare plans, which are equivalent to the lowest cost plan in our state are priced like the highest cost plan. Any advice? Are they allowed to hold back the Health & Welfare if she opts out of the healthcare they offer? Is there anything we can do about how insanely overpriced their costs are?

    1. CAA*

      It doesn’t really matter that you’re a government contractor in this case. The government isn’t going to step in and make them give her the money. Most companies don’t let employees who are opting out of their health insurance take the payment in cash. There are a few that do (I worked at one very small company that did), but it’s not common.

      Her best option is probably to put the money in her 401K and then buy insurance on the individual market instead of through CoveredCA. In CA, it’s a little bit cheaper to buy directly from the insurer than to buy on the exchange, and if she knows she makes too much to get an ACA premium credit or cost sharing she could save a small amount that way.

      She could also look at the affordability rules for ACA. I’m not familiar with the details, but there’s some provision that if employer coverage would cost more than x% of your income … something. (Sorry, I don’t know exactly what help the unaffordability clause gets you.) If she’s putting that money in her 401K, then it may not count as part of her income for the affordability test, so she might meet this requirement.

    2. goverment contractor*

      I’m a federal contractor. To directly answer your questions:
      The contract company is required to pay the H&W, but they have some flexibility in how they pay it. Putting it into a 401k is a legal option, and if that’s what the company offers, the employee can’t really do anything about that.
      No, there is nothing the employee can do about the healthcare costs. These are set by the company in conjunction with their insurance broker. They are not in any way tied to Government rate.

      I know those aren’t satisfying answers :(. I’d be happy to try to answer any other questions you have in this area.

      1. goverment contractor*

        Wow, I do know how “government” is spelled, despite evidence to the contrary…

        1. Adhyanon*

          Thanks. I pretty much figured there wasn’t much that could be done. We looked at the hardship category but the company says that the Health and Welfare $ are the employer share. The owner’s wife does the HR and she’s in way over her head.

          I’ll pass on the info about looking at companies directly. That may get the cost low enough to be tolerable. I don’t think she has a lot left over every month – paying post tax dollars for insurance won’t help.

  59. breadandbutterfly*

    I have been working at a temp job for the past few weeks. The people are great, but the work is somewhat dull and I’m full of anxiety because they decided to hire two temps to cover a position normally staffed by one person. My co-temp is wonderful, but she is skilled at Tea Pot Design while I’m skilled at Tea Pot Boxing. The company needs more Tea Pot Design and has very little Boxing to do. Consequently, I feel like I’m making a bad impression because there is so little to do. It doesn’t help that their approach to Boxing is different than mine (making it difficult for me to feel like I’m doing a good job) and somewhat entry-level. Normally, I’d be fine with this, but they told me during the interview it would only be a small percentage of my day. Instead, it’s what I do all. Day.

    Also, one of the Specialists is being promoted and there are hints that her position could be filled with Co-Temp or me.

    I am feeling anxious because 1) Due to Co-Temp’s Design skills, she is being asked to do more work than me; 2) I feel like I’m making a Really Terrible Impression because there’s so little for me to do; 3) Co-Temp met with Specialist and Director yesterday and I thought they were offering her the full-time position; 4) Specialist asked Co-Temp to “walk with her,” thus making me feel like the discussion was all about how little I’m doing.

    I know this is silly/ridiculous, but I have so much anxiety about long-term job stability because my position is seen as disposable. Every boss I’ve had has told me my job is on the line not due to bad work, but because clients cannot afford my company’s services. I’m working on leaving the industry but, in the meantime, does anyone have tips on how to calm down? Does anyone else have experience feeling like they’re making a bad impression because their skills just aren’t needed? Any tips re: temping in general?

    1. HappySnoopy*

      As long as it’s within the bounds if your temping contract (And it sounds like it’s ok if only part of your job duties were to be teapot boxing) see what you can volunteer to do to assist that pushes your strengths and skills.

      Are these hints just gossip or indication by teapot supervisor? If the latter, ask what you can do to show your interest and make yourself a strong candidate. If the former just keep doing your job to the best of your ability.

      Just hang in there.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      For me the only thing that would help me to calm down would be to increase my activity on my action plan to get to a better job. You have been told your job is in danger. So being anxious makes a bit of sense. Take action that matches how anxious you feel.

  60. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

    I got my raise! It’s more than I requested, so now I’ll be slightly underpaid instead of grossly underpaid. I told my manager of the spoiled, noisy, childish people at the client’s office, and he’ll try once again to get us moved to a quiet area away from them. He also told me that their manager has no way to discipline them or get them fire for misconduct (this week they organized a WoW tournament, which takes place… on company time, with company computers) since all of them are well connected or nepotism hires.

  61. Teapot Librarian*

    tl;dr: What can I do to change my employee’s impression that I don’t support him?

    This week my issue is with a different employee. And I could use advice, am not just venting. One of my employees works on teapot tracking. He works a lot with teapot creators, who are based in other organizations. Those teapot creators sometimes need to get a teapot back, and my employee helps if the creator has trouble with the online system. He is diligent and committed to providing good customer service, but is pretty inflexible and not great at problem solving.
    Enter teapot creator Janice. Janice has been asking for teapots back for about two years now. She needs help EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. My employee has explained the process to her every time, but every time she needs another teapot, she has trouble again. When she isn’t satisfied by my employee’s response, she emails me and copies her boss.
    Janice is taking up a disproportional amount of all of our time. I do think that my employee could probably explain things better to Janice, but I also think that Janice needs to get through her thick skull (sorry for the annoyance) that she needs to know what shipment of teapots holds the teapot she’s looking for.
    This happened again earlier this week. I responded to everyone on the email–my employee, Janice, Janice’s direct supervisor, and the director of Janice’s office–suggesting that we have a meeting to all sit down in a room and figure out some solutions. I did say in my email that “…and Janice hasn’t been satisfied by our assistance” but did NOT say “…and we haven’t provided satisfactory assistance.” I say that because here’s the issue (wow it took me a long time to get here): my employee came to my office and told me that 1. he thinks a meeting will be a waste of time, and 2. he thinks that my scheduling a meeting means that I don’t support him. I emphasized that I DO support him and that my desire to solve this problem is so that he doesn’t have to deal with it anymore, but he just kept repeating that he doesn’t feel like I support him. (Also he repeated at least 10 times that he thinks a meeting won’t do any good.) What can I do to change my employee’s impression that I don’t support him? It’s true that he’s not my best employee and I think there are things he could do better, and he might get that vibe from me–though I hope he doesn’t–but what he does, he does accurately and conscientiously and with a strong work ethic.

    1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      I get the difference between Janice not being satisfied with the assistance and the assistance not being satisfactory, but I think a lot of people won’t, and he definitely might be one of those people.

      Any chance you can think of a way to redirect Janice elsewhere, since she’s probably not going to learn at this point? (Or she already knows but likes having other people explain it/do it for her if there’s a “doing it for her” component there.) Do you have a supervisor who you could clue in about Janice’s behavior? Any chance you can write down the procedure and, instead of having him explain it to her, tell him to consistently point her toward the written procedure?

      I’m not sure how scheduling a meeting would make him think you don’t support him, but tbh I’d probably think it was a waste of time too. Maybe he thinks it’s going to be a disciplinary meeting?

      1. Teapot Librarian*

        Unfortunately, my employee is the only person in our 30,000-employee umbrella organization who does what he does, and Janice is the only person in her office who requests teapots. The outcome that I’m hoping for is that Janice gets put on a PIP, but I feel like her supervisors need to hear what she’s being told in order for them to see that it’s her fault and not my employee’s fault that we can’t get her teapots for her, in order for her supervisors to see the problem.
        (My employee HAS written down the procedure and sent it to her. It hasn’t helped. Le sigh.)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The other employee has no way of knowing that this is a move to get Janice on PIP. He thinks that this is a move where you are going to tell him how woefully inadequate he is, and he has failed Janice.

          I would not even invite this guy to Janice’s meeting. If you are satisfied with his work that is enough. You can present copies of his answers and you can show how Janice is asking the same questions over and over all day long. He does not need to be in the meeting for that.

    2. fposte*

      It seems like Janice is pretty small potatoes in the course of his job in reality–does he feel you’re not behind him generally? And what does “behind him” mean here–does he think you think it’s his fault, or does he want you to tell the other place this is totally Janice’s fault and to quit it right now? I mean, it’s clear he’s unhappy with the phraseology; I think you’re right that what you said wasn’t throwing him under the bus, but that would require some pretty fine parsing to get to, so I can see why if he’s already frustrated he didn’t do that parsing. But I also think you need to be clear that a meeting is the next step when dealing with a situation like this because it’s procedure and because it’s important for institutional relations, which will need to be maintained whether Janice goes up in a cloud of smoke tomorrow or works there until 2100.

      Given some things you’ve said about hoarding employee and now this one, I’m wondering if you might find it useful to try to let go of the emotional side of your employees a little bit–in both cases, you’re talking a lot about managing emotions in ways that I think can’t be managed and wouldn’t be priorities even if they could. It’s okay for him to be unhappy with you way you handled this, so long as you’re clear and fair about it.

      (I’m also casting about desperately for what the teapots are standing in for here–I don’t deal with anything that fits this model!)

      1. Teapot Librarian*

        Let go of emotions? What is this “letting go” of which you speak? ;-)
        Thank you for the language of “important for institutional relations”–I’ll have to keep that in mind for any additional conversation about WHY/what’s the purpose of the meeting.
        And I don’t know what my employee wants beyond not having to repeatedly deal with Janice having the same problem. I probably should have asked him. I’ll have to have that conversation with him. I wonder if that lack of communication is the source of his feeling that I don’t support him. (The lack of communication is a serious failing of mine as a manager, but I can see how he would take it personally.)

    3. SilverRadicand*

      I think, your employee is not expecting an amicable solution to be possible and that him being at the meeting is going to expose him on the “firing line”(there are three folks from the “side” that has repeatedly been unsatisfied with his work.
      I’m not a huge fan of the line “…and Janice hasn’t been satisfied with our assistance” because it isn’t clear (you feel your office has been going above and beyond for her, but it could also be read that you feel your office hasn’t been doing satisfactory work). That may be playing into your employee’s hesitance regarding the meeting.
      But overall, I think the big thing is take the lead and support him in the meeting. Try to avoid a result that puts blame or additional work on him. Maybe writing up a “instruction sheet” of sorts might help? Ask him before the meeting (even if he doesn’t think the meeting will work) what he thinks needs to happen and what might be some potential solutions. You say problem-solving isn’t his strong point, so I’m not sure how much that will get you in terms of actual solutions, but being involved in the problem solving (in a safe way) will hopefully help.

      1. Teapot Librarian*

        He *has* written instructions. Having them hasn’t helped Janice :-(
        I appreciate the suggestion to ask him what he wants to happen at the meeting and what he thinks some solutions might be.

    4. TCO*

      If I were your employee, and had been putting up with this for two years without seeing any improvement, I, too, would be skeptical that a meeting will fix anything. I’d be annoyed that this is taking up time I need to use for other work (work he may see as more “real,” urgent, and/or important) and I’d be worried that the meeting will make me look bad and/or result in more work being created for me. If your employee kept repeating that he doesn’t think this meeting will do any good, maybe that’s his real concern more than “you don’t support me.” And in that lower state of frustration and anxiety, really, what reason does he have to believe that something will change because of this meeting? Nothing’s changed for years.

      In our best state, we can see why this meeting might help. But your employee is not in his best state when it comes to Janice. He is frustrated and tired. I’d outline to him what he should expect the meeting to be like, what solutions you will be pushing for in the meeting (with an emphasis on the fact that you will not allow this to make for work for him), and talk about what you’ll do next if the meeting doesn’t help. Someone who likes structure and hates gray areas will benefit from concrete information and a step-by-step plan. He’s probably never attended a meeting like this and doesn’t know what to expect.

      1. Teapot Librarian*

        Thanks, this is really helpful to read. I like the idea to discuss with him beforehand what to expect the meeting to be like.

        1. Anion*

          I wonder if, in addition to asking him what he’d like to see happen at the meeting, it might be helpful to share with him what outcome you’re hoping for?

          Maybe you could say, “I wanted to talk some more about this meeting, and why I feel it’s necessary. I know Janice can be very difficult to deal with, and my hope here is that by doing this, we can show Janice’s managers just how hard you have worked to satisfy and help her, and how much of your efforts have gone unrewarded (or “how little effect your hard work has actually had on her/how much of your hard work she has ignored,” something to that effect). I’m hoping that we can make it clear to them that the issue here is Janice’s inability to handle her assignment, and not a failing on your part. With that in mind, can you think of some good examples we can use as illustrations?”

          In other words, you’re making clear to Fergus that the meeting is specifically to *defend* him and ask Janice’s manager to step in and deal with *her,* and you’re showing that you value his work and input by asking him to contribute to the meeting’s talking points. You’re asking him for back-up, basically, thus demonstrating that you consider his work and his thoughts valuable, and sharing with him what your goals are, thus demonstrating your trust in him. (Obviously you don’t have to–and may not want to, for a variety of reasons–specifically tell him that you want Janice’s mgr to put her on a PIP, but still, at least he fully understands what your goal is.)

          You may not want or be able to do this for a variety of reasons (I don’t know your workplace, obviously), but I thought I’d throw it out there. If he sees the two of you united in one goal, he will probably be less likely to suspect he’s going to be thrown under the bus in the meeting, and will probably stop pushing back on the idea of having a meeting at all.

          I hope that helps!

          1. Anion*

            (I know you said you told him that “[your] desire is to solve this problem so he doesn’t have to deal with it anymore,” but I suspect that sounds to him like it’s still going to be a meeting where he’s expected to shoulder some blame or take on more work or whatever. So I think maybe rephrasing it as, “My desire is to show Janice’s managers how much of a pain she is [not in those exact words, of course] and get them to do something about it,” might put his mind at ease and show him that you really DO support him.)

            1. Teapot Librarian*

              Not sure if you’re going to see this, but thank you for these “scripts.” I think this is going to help.

        2. Anecdata*

          I’m an American who works outside the US; and at first I didn’t understand what people even meant by “contracts”! So, when my non-US colleagues have a contract what they mean is that they’ve signed on for a defined period of time (usually 1-year increments) – and within that time, they can’t quit (without legal/financial repercussions). At the same time, the employer cannot fire them or lay them off, without serious, in-depth documentation of something like committing an actual crime, and VERY generous severance (like, we have paid people out for the entire year/rest of their contract, if they are truly toxic). Is that what you have?

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Just my opinion but this needs to be a private conversation between you and Janice’s boss. Explain to the boss that no other creator has as many problems as Janice does and unfortunately you are not able to provide this level of help. Cite example of repeated questions and problems and it would be good if you had numbers to back it up.

      April’s teapot: 10 calls, 15 emails
      August’s teapot: 12 calls 18 emails

      Compared to average creators who might have 3 calls and 2 emails.

      Then go over the questions.
      She asks questions A, B and C each time. In April she asked question A three times, question B five times and question C twice.
      She repeated questions A, B and C in August.
      Then you point out that other creators rarely ask the same question twice.

      I see what you are saying about your employee being less than ideal. One of the rules of thumb I have used is “What would I say if I had a superstar?” Compare that to what I want to say now. What I would aim for is creating a guideline that would be permanently in place and used across the board. “Here is the level of service we are able to provide…..”

      Your employee needs you to set boundaries. Janice has run amok for too long. FWIW, I think this is a private matter just between you and Janice’s boss.

      As an aside, he is probably curt with Janice as a device to limit her constant contact.

      1. Teapot Librarian*

        Thanks for these suggestions. I want this meeting to be everyone involved since part of the problem is that there is a lot of “telephone” going on. I hear what my employee tells me and what Janice tells me, Janice’s boss hears what Janice tells him, Janice’s grandboss hears what Janice’s boss tells her, I hear what Janice’s grandboss tells me.

  62. Broadcastlady*

    Open Thread Update: Two weeks ago I wrote that my very junior co-worker was asking the same questions over and over again after we’d covered them, and often was calling me when I was off work (our hours overlap only a little). Snark gave me some excellent advice, as did others, and I have used it.

    First, I have stopped answering after (my) hours calls. He usually then texts, and if it something that genuinely needs addressing, I call back. If not, I ignore it until the next day. I also set his phone number on the “Do Not Disturb” setting on my phone, which has helped tremendously! I see the calls when I check my phone, instead of feeling constantly interrupted. Second, I have found he isn’t a good note taker, but I am a writer by nature (and partially by profession), so the info I feel sure he’s going to ask me repeated questions about, I write the instructions out in detail. I mean DETAIL. Then when he asks me the same questions, I say “It’s in the notes I gave you.” or “Did you check your notes? The answer is in the notes.” Rinse and repeat as needed. I’m happy to report that he has nearly stopped calling ME. He isn’t there yet, but he’s almost stopped. Remember me mentioning that my boss is rarely in the office and couldn’t understand why this was a problem for me? Well, the co-worker has started to call him now, and, surprise, surprise, the boss gets it a little more. All in all, it’s getting much better. Thank you to all for the advice, especially Snark.

  63. Applesauced*

    Question about internal moves/transferring offices within a company:
    (It’s one large company with multiple offices. Overall, there’s overlap in some clients, resources, and occasionally shared staff, but each office has it’s own projects and operating budget.)
    Do you talk to your home office about the possibility of transferring or do you find and apply to a position in the new office first?
    Do you apply through the regular way (online form), or approach someone at the new office directly?
    Can you ask your boss at the current office to put in a good world for you at the new office?
    Since it’s internal, the “don’t use your work email to job hunt” rule is moot, right? Would it be weird to book a room at current office (during office hours) to interview by Skype with the new one?

    1. CAA*

      I only did this once, and it was a big multi-national corporation.

      First, talk to your current manager about your desire to transfer and whether it’s to get into a different role or to a different location. She is going to find out as soon as you apply, and it’s a lot better if this info comes from you first. If there’s a deadline and you’re definitely moving to a different city to follow a spouse or whatever, also tell her that. If you have a good relationship, you can ask her if she knows anyone at that office and if she could help you get in touch with a hiring manager there. Even if she doesn’t know anyone there, she’s going to be called as a reference, so you don’t need to ask her to put in a good word.

      Once you’ve looped in your manager, then search for and apply for positions in the usual way, even if she’s also working on your behalf. Use your internal email address. You can book a room to skype with the new office.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Agreeing with all of this. I transferred within my now ex company three times over the course of four years, and the last two times I did everything noted above (the first time I was in a training program that was intended to place me in a permanent role in another division, so I didn’t have to do anything).

  64. DC*

    Hopefully my last update in this job saga:

    The friend who had connected me to the CEO told me he deserved to know, so I needed to call him. I called him to turn down the offer, and let him know why, and didn’t been get past turning it down.

    His response was “I didn’t know we offered.” This sexist VP had just gone rogue, basically. So chalk that up as another red flag.

    The rest of the conversation was the best one I could have asked for: he wants to remain connected and get to work for me. I think I dodged a bullet and came out on top!

      1. DC*

        We’ve been chatting in past open threads. I’ve been in a shitty job, got an interview, and got offered the job the next day- which then turned into some solid red flags and a sexist VP I was interacting with. Folks offered advice on the handling-the-offer-with-the-sexist-VP last week.

  65. CleverGirl*

    WHAT DOES IT MEAN?! I applied for a job at a large company. I have been logging into the application portal periodically checking on my application’s status. For a long time it said “HM Review” but 2 days ago it changed to “Interview Stage.” But I haven’t been contacted for an interview. I *did* however get the following email:

    “Dear Clever Girl,

    Req ID: [CENSORED]
    Job Title: [CENSORED]

    [Company] participates in the U.S. Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program, which allows [Company] to claim tax credits when it hires employees who are identified as members of certain groups.

    [Company]’s Employment Tax Department invites you to participate in the WOTC program. Participation is entirely voluntary and will not benefit or disadvantage you during the interview process in any way. Moreover, completion of the form will not have any impact on your personal income tax returns. The information will be used solely for purposes of claiming a tax credit for [Company] and will not be shared with Human Resources or included in your employment application or interview materials.

    To participate in the WOTC program click the following link to access the Work Opportunity Tax Credit page Click here

    Email any tax credit questions to EmploymentTaxcredits@[Company].com.

    Thank you,
    [Company] Talent Acquisition Team”

    Does this mean I should expect to get an interview? Was it a mistake? What does it all meannnnn?!?!?!

    1. CAA*

      It means that somebody read your application and didn’t reject it immediately. They may want to interview you, or they may have put you in a pool of people they’re thinking about phone screening and will either move you on to an actual screen or reject you later. This is one of the weaknesses with ATS systems that candidates can see. They usually don’t have a good way to tag the “maybes” so managers have to use the existing statuses that don’t always mirror the actual hiring process that company or department uses.

      The ATS probably sends out the WOTC form automatically when your application status moves to interview, whether or not you ever get an interview. The people who use the ATS may not know that. Fill it out if you wish, but the people who are hiring won’t know if you filled it out or not and it won’t affect whether you get an interview or get the job if you do.

  66. Blank Space*

    How do I explain a gap of about 6 months (and counting) in my work history, when truthfully the reasons for it are that I moved 3 times (one was out of state); my dog got sick; I was fortunate enough that I didn’t need to get paid during that time because of free housing; but mostly I burned out on work and was completely unmotivated to even apply for any jobs?

    1. Sualah*

      Honestly, to me, the relocation sounds like a good enough excuse. Maybe throw in something about finding a good fit with your next position. “Relocating and making sure I apply for jobs that I think are an excellent fit” seems very valid to me.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Just say you knew you’d be making multiple moves during that time period and didn’t want to job job.

    3. CAA*

      “I took a short sabbatical because I needed some time to relocate and take care of some family issues that are now resolved.”

  67. Amber Rose*

    The cough medicine I took last night affected me very badly and kept me up all night. My face is still kind of numb, I’m shaky and I’m dizzy/have vertigo. It’s exactly like being hungover. I wish I wasn’t at work today, but I told some people I’d be at a bar last night, and given that I look hungover today, it would be too suspicious to go home. :(

    I was at the bar, but only because it was rented out for a prize draw event thing I won entry to in a radio contest. There was no alcohol and I was only there for an hour or so.

    How the heck do I get through this day feeling like this.

    1. LCL*

      For me, drinking hot water and nibbling on carbs including sweets (crackers, popcorn, cookies, etc) helps those feelings. When you are ready have a light meal.
      When you feel better, talk to the pharmacist about the cough medicine and try to figure out what you reacted to in it. A lot of cough medicines have multiple ingredients and you may not be sensitive to all of them. I’m guessing you had something with Sudafed but maybe not.
      I’m sorry you are feeling bad.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh, that’s what Zyrtec (for allergies) and Nyquil (if I don’t have enough time to sleep it off) do to me. It sucks. I drink lots of water and coffee if I get too draggy later in the day, or tea.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I’m drinking as much water as I can stand.

        Cough medicine doesn’t always do this to me, it only seems to do it when I’ve been sick for a while without taking anything. Like, the more work it has to do to relieve the cold symptoms, the more hungover I feel. There’s no science in that, it’s just how it seems to work for me. :/

  68. Valentina*

    I want to ask for a raise. The issue is, I suspect I’m already pretty well paid compared to my coworkers. I was recruited from abroad and they gave me a good starting salary. I’ve been here 3 years and have gotten cost of living increases since. I’ve taken on a lot of responsibility and I’ve grown a lot in my role. But anytime I think about asking for a raise I get the uncomfortable feeling I’m being greedy because I’m already well compensated. At the same time, I’m a young woman in finance (6 years experience total, I’m 29) and I don’t want to fall into the trap of never advocating for myself. Anyone have any advice? I go back and forth between feel like it would be asking too much and feeling like I’m not asking enough!

    1. anyone out there but me*

      Here’s my advice:

      1. Go in with at least 3 solid reasons why you are deserving of a raise. These reasons should be based on how you have benefited the company.

      2. Be prepared to be told no. Be ready to deal with that, either by negotiating further, negotiating a discussion about it at a later time, or accepting no as a final answer.

      3. If you are thinking you will leave if you don’t get a raise, be prepared to follow through.

      Good luck!

    2. CM*

      Ask! If you’re in finance they shouldn’t be shocked that you’re trying to negotiate. Is there any way you can get more information about other people’s salaries in your company or industry? That could both make you feel more comfortable about asking, and give you some data to strengthen your case.

    3. Let's Sidebar*

      This may be obvious, but since you didn’t mention it I will ask; What is your pay comparative to market compensation with your experience level? If you are well compensated compared to that (as opposed to your coworkers), that would be useful information to know. Also, if you feel close enough to any coworkers in your position to broach what for some (silly) reason is a delicate topic, discuss what you make with one another so you can use it internally as a gauge.
      Good luck!

  69. Sualah*

    An update on my job situation from an open thread a few weeks ago, where I wasn’t sure if I should accept an internal transfer (if offered) due to pregnancy. (Because we can take 4 months leave, and is that a good look to take it when being fairly new, and because my current position is great, and I have no complaints, and I can do this job with my eyes closed–or on very little sleep, which will be the bigger issue with an infant at home. ;P)

    Well, in the interview (I would be working in a different state from my manager, so it was over the phone), I modified some verbiage from Alison about feeling out low-stress roles and was upfront that I didn’t want to be presumptuous, but I have a baby due in the spring and I will take 4 months off since that is our company benefit. I said that in the past, I’ve worked jobs with 50-60 hour weeks, and that I simply wasn’t looking for that at this time. That I wanted to consider all aspects of the role and make sure that it’s a great fit for both of us.

    The hiring manager, S, was really great, she said that she definitely understood that, that her expectation and experience is that the role would be a fairly standard 40 hours, and she appreciated the question. I probably could have asked the same sort of question about work/life balance and flexibility without bring the pregnancy into it, but since I’d only be working for S about 4 months before being gone for 4 months, I figured it was worth it to bring up as well.

    My current manager, M, was very supportive when I told her that she’d be getting contacted about a reference, but she did say that if she could get her grandboss to agree, she’d like to promote me to the next level with a raise effective immediately. There would be no change to my job duties, but I’d be getting more and have a better title. I said I would accept that and not accept the new job offer if that happened.

    So I was just waiting to see who would give me more money, basically. Which, again, is a very fortunate and exciting position to be in. But…long story short (too late), there was a twist.

    On a Thursday morning, we got news that about 1/3 of our entire department was being laid off company wide. I was not one of the impacted employees, though. So mid-morning, hear that three coworkers on my team are being let go in 60 days. Shortly after, M called me to say with the layoffs, she could not offer me a raise and promotion and to congratulate me on the offer and told me I should take it. I’m like, “Uh…what?” Because no one had reached out to me yet! She apologized but said that S had told her that S would be offering me the position, and M had agreed to the two week transition period.

    I heard nothing else all afternoon. I didn’t get a call until early evening my time (the recruiter was based on the west coast) to let me know I should expect an offer letter the next day, Friday. Which of course I did not get until Monday. And the new role was going to be a lateral move, with no increase in pay at all. Sigh. I knew it would be lateral and I knew the pay scale when I applied, but I had been hoping for a token $1000 annual increase or something.

    Still, with the layoffs, I was happy to accept and I start my new position Monday.

    1. CAA*

      Sorry the new job didn’t come with a raise. If it helps, you might think of it as your move is saving one colleague’s job in M’s department. If you hadn’t been about to leave, she’d have had to lay off 4 instead of 3.

      1. Sualah*

        Yeah, that is true! :) Because I hadn’t accepted (because I hadn’t been offered) the new job when they had to announce the layoffs, they did have to do go with layoffs as previously planned (because I could have decided to stay, even without the raise and promotion). However, since I did accept and the transfer process was started, they’re going to be able to pull back someone. I can’t say if it will be one of the people I know personally on M’s team, but someone in the 1/3 that was laid off will get their job back, and that’s always a good thing.

  70. Auburn*

    I’m curious how other people manage stress when they have a lot of customer service aspects to their job. I’m a program director at a nonprofit working in a healthcare related field. We have “clients” not really customers in the traditional sense, but a lot of similarities to a customer service field in many ways. I’m upper management and get all the escalations, complaints, drama etc. I just often feel like I literally get beaten up on all day. We have extremely limited resources so we have very, very little wiggle room. It’s very demoralizing feeling like someone, either the staff I supervise or the clients I serve are always being shortchanged. I’m feeling beaten up by it all this week.

  71. peanutbutter*

    I have a coworker who keeps adding filler comments and jokes during the meeting, and it drives me nuts. During the beginning of meetings, he’ll go beyond the usual “Hellos” and make an extended pun joke. I’d be ok with this, but during heavy agendas, he’ll just have to add a silly comment and derail the conversation. He also goes way overboard in thanking people for every single thing. For example, a part of our process is handing off work for testing – it’s a normal thing and really business as usual – and he’ll go into a long thank you about the work being completed and even shouting huzzah.

    1. AnonAndOn*

      I wonder if an awkward pause after one of his random comments then continuing on as usual would help.

      Guy: “Hello! Not too long after that I’ll be saying ‘goodbye’!”
      (awkward pause from the group)
      Person leading meeting: “Anyway. Moving along…”

      And who is leading these meetings? I feel that the meeting leader should say, “Joe, we need to keep the meeting moving” or something in those lines.

  72. Anonymousaurus Rex*

    Should I tell my boss if I apply for another job at my company? I feel like she’s likely to find out, even though the position I’d be applying for is in another part of our Fortune 500 company. The job isn’t a perfect fit and is a reach for me, but the reason I’m so interested is that it is a remote position (as well as a promotion) and my partner is in the process of applying for grad school, so that could mean a move for us, depending on where she gets in. I don’t want to tip off my boss too early that I’m job searching, and the reality is if my partner gets into a program in our state I might not have to switch jobs at all. I’m only considering applying for this position now as remote prospects I’m qualified for at my company are few and far between. I’d rather stay at my company, as I’ve only been in my position just shy of 2 years, but I do want to advance. I’m just not sure whether I should tip off my boss about my unsure plans.

    My boss tends to take things really personally, especially departures on her team, so I don’t want her to start treating me differently if she knows I’m considering a job change. Then again, if I can fully explain the context and she gets it’s nothing against her as a manager, maybe she could help support a move? I just can’t decide what to do!

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I would check if there’s an official policy on when to tell them. You might be required to.

    2. CAA*

      See my answer to Applesauced above. It’s highly likely that your boss will find out as soon as you apply, especially if you’re in a large company with sophisticated applicant tracking software. You do not want her to find out by getting an email from HR or a phone call from the hiring manager; so either tell her yourself or wait until your plans are firm before applying for new jobs.

  73. MsChanandlerBong*

    I would love some advice on doing a better job screening people for writing positions. Background: I work for a company that produces content for other companies. We write everything from product descriptions to category pages to website copy. Currently, we ask writers to send a resume and cover letter. Someone reviews those materials and then decides if the writer should move on to the next phase, which is a writing test. The test is designed to assess writing ability as well as the ability to follow directions. Good writing is important, but I would argue that following directions is even more important for us, as some of our clients have VERY specific requirements (the meta title must be no more than 40 characters, the first sentence must have exactly 12 words, that sort of thing). If the writing sample is good and adheres to the instructions, we bring the writer on board and offer a three-assignment trial period. During that period, editors give extensive feedback to help the writer get up to speed on in-house style, formatting guidelines, and client-specific conventions. If the writer passes the trial period, we keep him/her on board.

    However, we have had to fire 10 people in the last 10 days due to everything from plagiarism to submitting assignments that did not conform to the directions in the slightest. We ARE doing assessments, but they are obviously not working as intended. Any suggestions?

    1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      Do your assignments include specific requirements like ensuring the first sentence has 12 words or similar ones? If not, adding them might help you winnow people out earlier.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Absolutely. We have extensive training materials. IMO, they are *too* extensive, but I have no control over them. I was hired as a freelancer before I came on board as a manager, and it took me two months to get up the nerve to start writing because everything seemed so daunting. Plus, we give feedback on every task. So if I see a task from Joe Smith that doesn’t have the right number of characters in the title, I leave a note when I approve it: “Hi Joe. Thanks for taking on this task. Good job on the content. Please remember that you must write no more than 20 characters in the title field for this client.” So even if they missed it in the training/style guide, we give direct feedback/reminders. It’s just so frustrating.

        1. Yorick*

          I would word that feedback differently:

          Joe, thanks for taking on this task. The content is great, but some revisions are necessary. 1. Client has asked for the title field to be no more than 20 characters. 2. Client has asked for the first sentence to have exactly 12 words. To speed up the process, please remember you can check [location] for all the client’s instructions for the assignment.

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            I would word it differently, too, but I recently got told that I shouldn’t “talk to writers like I am God,” so I’ve had to start being more flowery/less direct. (Talking like God = telling a writer “Please do not use X as a source, as it is prohibited by the client.”)

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          Are you sending it back and making them revise it to the right length? If not – time to start?

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      Been there. Expect to keep having to fire some people. I have no idea why it’s so hard to find writers who will follow requirements like these but it isn’t just you.

    3. Toodie*

      This summer we hired a new tech writer but had to let him go, too. Our hiring process started with resume, cover letter and writing samples. Applicants who made it past that review were brought in for interviews, and then we hired.
      The dude we hired had the best writing samples by far: clean, clear, simple language, all the things we were looking for. But his writing on the job wasn’t even close to that level. Next time, our process will include an in-house writing test. And that’s one thing I was going to ask: is your writing test done during an interview, or do you send materials to the applicants and have them complete the tests in private? I can’t help but think that we were buffaloed by someone who’d gotten an awful lot of “help” with his writing samples.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        They’re independent contractors who work off-site, so everything is done online. However, it is a timed test (one hour), so unless the writer happened to be at home with their spouse or a friend, it would be hard to get too much help because they wouldn’t know what the prompt was until they clicked the assessment link and the clock started ticking.

    4. Yorick*

      Try an in-house writing test that includes some of those instructions, so you can see how well they follow directions.

  74. NaoNao*

    Interview/red flag question.
    This may be for nothing as I may not get a follow up (it’s a bit of a stretch post) but…

    I got a recruitment call from a headhunter yesterday. The posted position is in the high almost 6 figures and is a hybrid of my current job and previous work I’ve done—dialed up a couple notches. So far so good.

    The first thing out of the recruiter’s mouth after the pleasantries is…(summarized)

    “We need someone who can handle construction workers, who use blue language, and not be offended.” He then followed it up with a reference to “all the allegations lately” and I was like (mentally) “So you’re pretty much saying I’ll be harassed?!?!”

    I *believe* what he may have been trying to say (a charitable interpretation) is that he needs someone down to earth and who doesn’t confused “blue” or off color language and jokes and a certain….earthy…atmosphere with actual harassment and a hostile work environment.

    That actually *is* me, I work in a very male dominated environment and with blue-collar, hands-on, manual labor guys (and it’s 99% male in the field) as clients and I have had zero issues. Sure, I’ve heard things that made me wince internally on occasion, but I’ve never been deeply offended. Yet!

    The job sounds super exciting and interesting and I *am* interested in it, and Company was voted best Co. in my state and doesn’t have negative Glassdoor notes, and nothing else was “flaggy” about the pre-screen but eeeeeeekkkkk that’s a flag.

    Any thoughts? Similar situations?

    1. Anon for this*

      WHAT?! That would be a giant nope for me. This is actually really scary and I would be running away from there so fast. I also might be complaining about the recruiter to his boss if I could.

    2. AnotherJill*

      He may have just been saying (in a ham-handed way) that due to all the resent publicity about harassment they wanted to be sure that they found someone not easily offended. I wouldn’t turn down an interview, but would keep my spidey sense turned on.

    3. SilverRadicand*

      I think ask for clarification on that statement. Hoepfully he is meaning the allegations in the news and such and not actually at that company. If you are fine with that kind of environment, then more power to you.

      However, I do want to point out that if the “earthy” atmosphere you are referring to includes racial, sexual, jokes, statements etc on the regular, then that is a hostile work environment and/or sexual harassment. Intent does not need to be there. Also, by choosing to work in that sort of environment will help continue to normalize those behaviors and may be doing a disservice to others who follow your footsteps.

      1. NaoNao*

        Absolutely agree. I’m a feminist and firmly on the “I believe women” side. I tend to think this was his roundabout way of making sure that I have a strong personality and am comfortable with swear words and can differentiate between f-bombs and a hostile work environment.

        If/when I make it to the Hiring Manager interview, you can believe I’ll be asking what he meant by that!

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

      Maybe you could be very blunt with him and say that you don’t have a problem with off color language and questionable jokes, but you expect to be treated as a colleague and that people will keep their hands to themselves?

      I’ve worked in similar environments, and while I am not bothered by that sort of thing I am also clear about the boundaries. A crude joke in the abstract is one thing; insulting me with gendered terms, touching, implying that sexual favors are expected is quite another. If they are asking whether you can deal with an environment that isn’t very refined then I’d assume that they can take very blunt questions.

    5. CheeryO*

      I think it’s really gross that he mentioned “all the allegations” in an interview setting, but I would interpret it charitably as well, as long as you didn’t sense any other weirdness. I’m a female engineer in the wastewater field (I’ve also done construction inspections), and a very small minority of people love to make a big deal out of it. “Hope you can handle dirty jokes!” is right up there with “Wow, steel-toed boots!” and “Are you sure you don’t mind getting dirty?” In reality, most of the guys are extremely respectful and are probably even a little more careful with what they say around me than they need to be.

      Side note, one of my favorite work experiences was when I was doing an inspection at a wastewater treatment plant and the operator realized that he was sitting next to a naked lady calendar while we were talking. Best “oh shit!” look I’ve ever seen, especially since he desperately needed me to help him put pressure on the municipality to increase his operating budget.

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

        Ha, I understand that very well! Yes of course I’m prepared to be filthy at the end of the day and I will be wearing exactly the same standard of PPE as the men, thanks… *eyeroll*

  75. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

    Didn’t get the internship I applied for a few weeks ago. I wasn’t super interested in it and don’t actually care much, but I’m really frustrated with how hard it is to find a job here (admittedly with harsh visa restrictions). For library work, the career center is steering me toward volunteering, which in theory I wouldn’t have a problem with, but it’s one thing to volunteer when you also have a job and another thing when you’d basically be paying to work (Tube rides ain’t free :P) and have no income coming in at all. And with my schedule and visa restrictions, I’m seeing basically next to no non-library work I can do. I’m not about to be homeless or anything, just cranky and feeling unsupported.

  76. Question for Allison*

    I hope this counts as a work question since its a question about Allison’s work.

    Allison I’ve noticed that some of the questions you answer get many more comments than others. I wonder if you are ever surprised by which questions get the most comments/responses from readers or by what those responses are?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Sometimes, yes! I used to think I was pretty good at predicting it, but in the last couple of years, I’ve found myself surprised more often. The most extreme example of something I didn’t see coming was the reaction to the bird phobia post — in retrospect, I have no idea how.

  77. mollsbot*

    Happy Friday all!!

    I work front desk at a doctor’s office, and I’ve really gotten to know some of the patients over the last few years. I’m moving onward and upward, my last day is next Friday.

    My question is: Would it be weird if I wrote a little letter for my colleagues to give patients that ask about me after I’m gone? Something saying that I enjoyed my time here, and if they want to get in touch with me they can send me an email.


    1. Ramona Flowers*

      It’s a lovely idea, but I wouldn’t offer to share your email. My boundaryometer is flashing red at that. Why not have one copy of the letter that can go on a noticeboard?

      1. mollsbot*

        That’s a great idea! There are certain patients that I would not mind having my email, but you’re right, not everyone should have access to that (my rose colored glasses for my patients skewed my thinking for a second! lol). I can just advise my colleagues that if someone asked how they can get a hold of me to use their best judgement or just shoot me a text asking first.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I firmly recommend having them text you first. A coworker once gave my phone number to someone she thought I might like without asking me, and it turned out to be a very strange guy who gave me the heebie-jeebies. So no.

        2. Ellen Ripley*

          Or just ask them to collect the patient’s email with a promise to pass it on to you, and then you can decide later whether you want to be in touch and reveal your email to them.

  78. rosiebyanyothername*

    I know there’s been quite a few letters about this topic, but I have a food allergy and managing it at the office has been a little stressful. I usually avoid eating at after-work events because it’s a severe allergy and my office is not close to a hospital. Sometimes my office tries to make me pick a restaurant, and I do my best to call ahead, but sometimes I just don’t feel comfortable with anything on the menu, and when a reaction means 4-6 hours in the hospital and a scary bill afterwards, I just don’t want to risk it. I’m always very direct that I do not want anyone planning around my allergy or feeling they cannot run XYZ event because of me, I don’t want to be a burden, I’m fine with just being there and having a beer, I’ll bring food from home, etc etc etc, but to no avail. Sometimes I just skip these events because I’m not in the mood to field “wait, why aren’t you eating?” questions all night. But I still want to socialize with my coworkers! I just can’t shake the feeling everyone sees me as a burden with this stuff. Advice?

    1. Epsilon Delta*

      What kind of event is it? The after-work socializing events I’ve been to have all been happy-hour type things, but it sounds like you guys are maybe sitting down and having a meal together? It sounds like you already tried the obvious workarounds (have a drink instead of food, bring your own food), so I’m curious why they are so fixated on you eating the food that’s served.

      1. rosiebyanyothername*

        They’re usually a round of drinks with appetizers, or receptions with finger foods. Some staff members aren’t drinkers and I guess they don’t want people drinking on empty stomachs. I work in an office of “food pushers”–at these events, or just around the office in general, lots of colleagues love to get people to eat. When I turn down food or say “I don’t think I can eat that,” I often get pushback or “well, it’s PROBABLY okay, just taste it” comments. I’ve dealt with food pushers a lot, it’s kind of just a fact of life, but I always worry that people think I’m cold or rude for turning stuff down, even when I explain my allergy! I might try using an Alison change-the-subject “this is so boring, let’s talk about something else” strategy going forward, but I also don’t want to dismiss my own health just to make other people feel comfortable. Ugh!