open thread – December 22-23, 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.

{ 1,148 comments… read them below }

  1. Snarkus Aurelius

    I have a problem that I’m convinced doesn’t have a solution, but I thought I’d try.

    My boss (government head) sucks in many ways, but here’s his biggest flaw: he has a clique of five people he listens to and no one else. If knowledge of something doesn’t penetrate those five people, boss sincerely believes that something doesn’t exist.

    I’m now in trouble for doing something I’ve been doing for two years. Something I told my boss I did on a regular basis. Repeatedly.

    I don’t feel bad or guilty. Just frustrated and unheard.

    It’s not only that. I’ve had conversations with my boss to prepare or inform him of things. He’ll nod and “uh huh” in all the right places and then five minutes later have no clue what’s going on. I don’t know what else to do aside from tattooing vital information on his head.

    This isn’t the first time this has happened. At my last job, my then-boss forgot I went on my honeymoon for two weeks. I was the recipient of many an angry email. What’s the point in having an office calendar if my boss doesn’t bother to check it to see if I’m in or out???

    I’m convinced that it’s a combination of being a woman in a male-dominated field and being utterly forgettable.

        1. LBG

          Some people do better on paper rather than being told verbally (me, if I read it, I remember it). My boss doesn’t always read/respond to emails, so I need to speak to him directly rather than email.

          1. Bex

            I try to always do both. Have the verbal conversation first, then send a follow up email saying something like, “Subject: Bex on Vacation June 1-7 Message: As we discussed at our check in, I’ll be taking vacation June 1-7. Also copying [relevant team members] so that we can plan for coverage while I’m out”

      1. Artemesia

        irrational jerkwads don’t take kindly to being shown emails proving them wrong. It can be helpful if things escalate but then only if there is an HR that controls firing.

        1. user42141

          This. I’m always amazed how many people recommend emails in this sort of situation.

          I’m a master of the email CYA, but it doesn’t matter since when a conflict arises the boss decides according to whom he likes more anyway than according to what really happened.

          1. LKW

            Or to resend demonstrating that just because a person doesn’t read their emails, doesn’t mean they weren’t sent. And resent. And sent again.

        2. Observer

          In government agencies, HR has more control – or at least has more power to act as a brake – than in private industry.

        3. Engineer Girl

          I always reply with “I’m confused? We taled about this on (date). Is there something I missed?” And I include the email documenting our original spoken conversation.
          By playing the confused card we can pretend this was a miscommunication and save face. It goes a long way for jerks.

      2. Higher Ed Database Dork

        Yeah that was my only solution with this type of problem boss. I also would keep a Word doc and document and timestamp decisions he made or stuff we talked about, so I could go, “On 10/31/15 you made this decision, is that still the direction you want to go?” or stuff like that. It helped somewhat. Unfortunately the best solution was to get a new job.

        I hear ya about being a woman and forgettable. I work in IT and this keeps happening to me by various staff and vendors I work with. My boss is awesome – he sticks up for me and we have no problems – but people keep forgetting to copy me on emails, or they’ll call my phone looking for my boss (I’m a developer, not his assistant), etc etc. I’m also the only woman on my team and some people have asked my coworkers questions about my projects. Coworkers are also awesome and will redirect people, but it get tiring.

        1. user42141

          The behavior you describe (not looking at you, etc.) was something I also experienced when working in a field that had to do with IT. It actually motivated me to switch into a more business-y field.

          I’m currently in business and guess what, when I meet with the senior guys I’m still the only woman in the room. (But yes, the environment is a bit better in this respect).

      3. Snarkus Aurelius

        Mostly email. Some face to face. Occasional voicemail because I don’t think he checks it.

        Once he sent me a nasty note complaining I didn’t tell him something, and he was literally replying to the email where I told him the thing he was supposed to know. (One of three emails I sent that morning!)

        Hence why I don’t feel bad.

        When confronted with evidence, my boss (like my last boss) ignore that and continue complaining of ignorance. “I never got that!” “You should have reminded me! Oh you did? I don’t recall that. You need to tell me these things!”

        And on and on.

        1. Jynna

          I used to work with a client who couldn’t remember anything. We’d tell him he agreed to something two weeks ago, and he’d said he didn’t. We’d then forward the email where he said, “This sounds great! Approved!” and he’s respond by saying he didn’t write that email.

          He drove more than one employee crazy, hence why I “used” to work with him.

          1. Ruffingit

            Sounds like you worked for Trump. LOL! Seriously though, that is some crazy making stuff, I can’t blame you for getting the heck out of dodge.

    1. Mel C

      You could try writing everything down, when you spoke and what you spoke about – or sending follow-up emails: “per our conversation,” or “here’s a recap of what we talked about.” Many, many years ago I worked with a boss that had similar issues, and I was convinced that he was experiencing some form of dementia (either early Alzheimer’s or something along those lines. Hey! It happens!). I’m sure it’s frustrating, but I wouldn’t assume your boss will read the calendar (or assume that he’ll remember anything at all, since he’s not). At least, later, you can say “remember the email I sent on DATE?” And produce said email if he forgets. Then it’s on him. Hope it gets better!

      1. Samata

        My “I forgot”-er is a co-worker, also female, so less frustrating than a boss, but I have found the “per our conversation” emails rather helpful follow up to our meetings. At the very least I can re-forward them when necessary.

        Note: I usually keep the email I sent in a CYA folder with her “Thank you” email and usually forward the whole trail because she can no longer pull the “I must have missed that one”.

    2. Foreign Octopus

      Is there a chance you can go to your boss’s boss with your concerns or would that put you in an awkward position?

      I suppose the best solution to your secondary problem about information retention could be to put it all down in an email just so that you’ve got the paper trail as well. For example:

      “Further to our previous/earlier conversation, here’s the relevant information…”

      As for the clique, I have no idea how to handle that.

    3. Dust Bunny

      How receptive is he in general, and have you told him you feel unheard? Can you point out to him directly that you’re having trouble getting through to him, and ask if there is another method of communication he prefers (I had a boss who was very verbal and never wrote anything down, nor would she absorb anything emailed to her. My coworker and I, however, were visual and couldn’t retain things Boss said to us, so we’d have to email them to ourselves so we wouldn’t forget)?

      I’d ask if you work for my dad, but he’s retired. He’s THE WORST listener, and he never thinks to check the calendar Mom keeps on the fridge. Some people just don’t take responsibility for retaining information (I would bet money his wife does this for him at home).

    4. MissGirl

      Build a relationship with the one of the five you think best of. Pick their brain about how to handle things and use them for important communication. You can’t force your boss to change; you have to work with the constraints you have.

    5. Purplesaurus

      he has a clique of five people he listens to and no one else

      My current boss does this to a degree. For her it’s an ageism thing (she is older and seems to listen only to her older employees). I have had to run things through that group of people before. It’s ridiculous, but it works.

    6. Future Analyst

      Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change. My usual inclination would have been to recommend CYA with emails, etc., but it looks like you’ve already attempted all the avenues. Thus, you have enough good data to indicate that if you continue working with him, this will continue happening. Sorry!

    7. Jadelyn

      CYA with email for sure, but tbh if it’s a recurring problem I would make a habit of printing out those emails (or memos, whatever way you prefer to document things) and literally leave them on the boss’s desk or keyboard or chair so he can’t avoid seeing it. He can still ignore it, but you’ve done your due diligence at that point. Beyond that, there may not be much else you can do – this kind of falls under “your boss sucks and isn’t going to change”.

    8. Anono-me

      I have found it helpful to regularly give my boss and assistant boss bullet point type updates about once a week and then follow up with detailed emails (I am still working on the spout crisis in Toledo with Kris, the handle problems in Boise with Pat, and now Dana in Springfield is having trouble with missing lids. I’ve emailed or cced you both the latest on each situation. )

      When I am out of the office, in addition to getting the leave approved by my boss; I do out of office messages on my phone and email, put a post it on my door and office mail box saying that I am gone for x days and to see my backup for urgent issues.

    9. Jules the Third

      Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change, but how much does it really affect you? Are there things that you can change that you control?
      – If he’s just complaining, train *yourself* to limit response. ‘Email, yesterday; do you need something now?’ Don’t waste your time doing the emotional work he’s requesting from you.
      – If he’s holding up your workflow with non-response, try bulleted list, printed, handed to him, and ask him for initial to show he’s read it. Weekly at least, more often if needed. Make him do an action (not just words) that shows he has reviewed your proposal / meeting purpose / information.
      – If he’s punishing you for it – bad reviews or writeups (‘in trouble’), take CYA emails to his boss and HR
      – Find a therapist and complain to them. Be heard somewhere, it will help you feel more confident and less frustrated in the moment.

      Yeah, women in male-dominated fields do have this happen often. The patriarchy isn’t crumbling anytime soon. It means more work for us, more crap to deal with. I’m sorry and wish I had a better answer.

      Of course, there’s always the nuclear option – print that list in VERY large font, with very small, one-syllable words, like a children’s book. But only do that if you’re ready to move to another position.

      1. lahallita

        I adore the bulleted list, to be initialed idea.

        Also, if Grandboss is more agreeable/present/competent, how do you feel a weekly-update email to (crappy) boss and Grandboss go?

  2. Fortitude Jones

    Question for all you Microsoft Word gurus out there: how do you ensure your headers and page numbers in your footers don’t repeat in a two-sided Word doc? I was able to successfully format a one-sided Word doc the other day by unlinking from the previous section and adding the appropriate page/section breaks, but the same steps I used before don’t appear to be working this time (and it’s possible I’m forgetting one in my pre-holiday brain shutdown).

    1. lisalee

      The easiest would be to go to the Header options and check “different odd/even pages.” On my Word 2010 it appears on the left side of the toolbar.

      1. Mockingjay

        This. Also, you can create custom Header and Footer styles if you need facing pages – Header Odd, Header Even.

      2. Fortitude Jones

        I did this, but it still messed up once I got to my sixth section :\

        What in the world am I doing wrong?! LOL

        1. Specialk9

          Did you check that you had a section break rather than page break? And look at the “link to previous” check box. It’s often one of those.

    2. OlympiasEpiriot

      Go to the Page Layout tab, then to Page Setup. In the Page Setup box, the third tab is Layout and there’s a section labeled Headers and footers with 2 check boxes. That should take care of it.

  3. Sunshine on a cloudy day

    Any advice for staying motivated in a job where you’re bored out of your mind and just completely over begging for more work (ideally substantive work)?

    I’ve been underemployed my entire career – fell in to admin work (not knocking it, I just don’t enjoy it/don’t find it stimulating/would prefer to be doing something more anlytically focused) because it was the only type of work that I could find that pays the bills and that I can do reasonably well. Climbed my way up to the point that I’m in a very cushy, well paid role – if you want to be a career admin this is the type of role and place you want to be.

    But I’m bored out of my mind and I feel like my brain is rotting away in my head. I’ve asked repeatedly for more work (casually “I have the capability to do more, please let me know if there is anything else I can help with”, directly “Is there anything else I can be doing – I have a lot of downtime” and even with specific tasks “Would it be ok if do X? I was responsible for X at my last job and there’s curently a 6 month backlog”), but I’m just blown off. Sometimes I just start doing things (like X in the example above), but then I get in trouble for “stepping on people’s toes” when my boss realizes that I’m doing x (sidenote: the rest of the team is incredibly greatful and appreciative when I do these things and confirms that I am doing them correctly).

    I’m at the point where I can’t keep asking for work – it’s demoralizing. I feel like a dog begging for scraps.

    So how do I stay motivated in this environment? I know the simple answer is – just do these basic, boring things perfectly – but that’s not how my brain works! The more bored I am, the more prone to error I am. Then I end up making stupid mistakes and I get so frustrated and angry and terrified that I’m about to be fired (bad job ptsd) that I make more mistakes. I do my best work when I’m engaged in the work and have a steady workload (or even just a little too much)

    My job history is not great – right on the precipice of being a job hopper, but I think if I can stay in this role for a full two years (been here 1 yr, 3 months) I’ll be ok. My job history is as follows: 1.5 yrs (promotion after 3 mos, laid off b/c company was sold), 1 yr (long term temp role), 1 yr (different industry, left b/c role was changing), 2 yrs (promotion after 1 yr, left bc dept I was promoted into was a toxic hellhole), current company. No gaps at all.

    Does anyone have any advice? I’ve been seeking treatment for ADHD – I’ve suspected that might be part of my motivation issue for awhile (I’ve had this situation play out in previous roles), but medication does not seem to be helping.

    1. Anony

      Have you only been asking your boss for more work to do? Maybe telling other people in the department that you have free time and are there any tasks they could use some help with might work. Then you can’t be accused of stepping on toes because they asked you to do the task.

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!

        When I was an exec assistant this is what I did. It is how I got into marketing. I didn’t have enough to do, so I started asking other people if they needed help. Ended up working the most with marketing and discovered a passion for it.

        1. Specialk9

          Me too. I was so bored as a receptionist temp I was teaching myself Morse code. I kept telling people with a big smile that I had plenty of time and would love to help them, and really it would help me too because I can learn some of what you do. I got to do A/P support, copying and collating (I was so green I didn’t know there was a button to get the machine to do that), some low level spreadsheets, etc. It gave me a head start in my next office job.

          Seconding Coursera. Many universities have free courses you can take online – is it Harvard that has hundreds?

          1. TL -

            Harvard, MIT, and Yale all have a number of courses online but I think MIT offers the most. (They are less practicality focused, so if you want something super relevant and skills-based, how good they are depends on your specific field. But if you want something as brain food, they have lots of great options.)

      2. Jules the Third

        Sounds like she asked others, started doing X, but when boss found out they said ‘stop it, you’re stepping on other people’s toes’.

        Is there any work you can do that looks like you’re busy but doesn’t enter other people’s domains? IE, do you have any interest in writing a book or articles? Would the company pay for any classes or even just authorize you to take a free class during work time? Project management, Advanced Excel, something that you think might be interesting but is tangentially connected to your assigned work?

    2. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)

      Ugh. I’m the same way–I hate having nothing to do. It sounds like they’re not interested in having you do more, so I’d focus on personal goals like learning new software or a new language or something else that still looks like work (so maybe you could read an ebook on your computer, but I wouldn’t bring in a paper book) that you can interrupt when you actually do get a little bit of work.

      1. Sunshine on a cloudy day

        Any advice on getting back to work or keeping motivated when you do get those little bits of work (if you’ve been in a similar situation)? I fall into this trap where I focus on personal stuff, but keep an eye out for little bits of work. If anything time sensitive comes in I take care of it right away, but if it’s not time sensitive I usually procrastinate. I’m not great at constantly switching back and forth between things (like thousands of tiny little things) so I prefer to let things collect and do them in batches. But I’m worried that might be making it look like I am too busy to do these tiny little things quickly.

        1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)

          I’m not great at that either, honestly. I’ve got ADHD too, actually, and it’s basically just a constant struggle between having zero attention span (so not wanting to do the same thing for a long period of time) but also having a hard time switching between tasks. You know your office best, but if people generally don’t seem to mind waiting for the little things you let stack up a bit, then I’d say you might be okay with continuing to let them stack up.

    3. Mel C

      If you’re bored – take classes! Coursera (and others) offers free online courses. They’ll try to get you to pay, but you can audit the courses. You’ll learn business-related stuff while staying “not-bored,” and if boss comes along and asks what you’re doing, you can say “I’m taking a course in ____.” While you’re taking the course, focus on taking lots of notes so that you stay busy and give your hands something to do. The courses might not apply directly to your job, but they can be broad enough that maybe they can, such as communication, business writing, and so on. I’d say, finish whatever you have to do for that day, then use up your time on these courses. That way, if anybody wonders if you’ve finished your job, you can honestly produce it. Good luck!

    4. Tuesday Next

      ”…the rest of the team is incredibly greatful and appreciative when I do these things and confirms that I am doing them correctly…” – this could be the key. Can the rest of the team not request help and ask that you get in involved? It seems to me that it would be a lot harder for your boss to say no in this case.

      In my (very personal) experience, admin and ADHD are a very poor match. You could look for a career counselor to help you identify transferable skills and move into a role that is a better fit for you.

        1. Jules the Third

          Jobs good for someone with ADHD, per google search results article : sales; medical work, from nursing to dr; teaching

          Things that require regular task switching. I’m actually surprised to hear admin and ADHD are a poor match; when I did it, I did a little bit of everything, from copier repairs to desktop publishing / editing.

          1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)

            When I was an admin I answered phones and did some courier-ing (definitely the highlight because I like driving). We didn’t get that many phone calls, and my most frequent errands were bank runs, but most of the banks were on my way home, so when I had to do them I’d usually just leave a little early.

            Oh! And once I had to type a letter to someone.

            I read a lot of news and webcomics at that job, and I hope to never work an admin job again because I (another ADHD-er) was so bored at this one.

          2. Matilda Jefferies

            I’m going to disagree on the task switching – or at least, I’m going to give the standard disclaimer that it’s not universally applicable. I have ADHD, and task switching is my kryptonite – it’s just about the hardest thing ever for me!

            What has actually worked for me – sort of – is that I have a job that requires both. I do lots of big-picture analytical stuff, and also a fair amount of repetitive detaily stuff (see my griping about it elsewhere in this thread!) So while I can’t necessarily task-switch *within* any given day, it’s pretty easy for me to do an analytical project one day, and then a bunch of micro-focus things the next.

    5. autophage

      Something that’s helped me when in similar positions has been to reframe how I’m looking at the work I’m doing. Not just “just do these basic, boring things perfectly” but to start seeking the edges of what I’m doing and looking for process improvements that go outside of the parts that are strictly “mine”. That can include things like asking the person before you or after you in a given workflow if they have any common impediments that you can assist with, or looking for opportunities to introduce standardization where previously there wasn’t any, or automating common tasks.

      This may end up taking the form of “asking your coworkers for work”, but the difference is that it’s more directed: not just “do you have anything you need help with?” but “I’ve noticed that [x] gets bogged down sometimes, would you like me to see if there’s anything I can do to reduce the tendency for that to happen?”

      Finally – good job on seeking ADHD treatment! That’s something I’ve struggled with, and it’s unfortunate that the very symptoms of ADHD make it difficult to get one’s ducks in a row in terms of treatment… but I can honestly say that it can *really* help.

    6. EA

      I use to have this problem.

      Assuming you cannot get more tasks from boss/coworkers. I would create a schedule of things to do at work. Learn a new skills at work (like code academy, puzzles, online tutorials of what you are interested in). Read books on your computer. Long read news article.

      Don’t beg for more work anymore. You have more than tried. I begged in my last job and it created this whole hellish dynamic if them telling me “yes, but excuse xyz, you need to do xyz first”, and then the goal posts kept moving. Not every job allows for advance/more work for support staff.

    7. Mints

      SAME. At least, very similar. I’ve had luck in improving/automating spreadsheets that nobody else uses. (Do you know VBA?) I also take Coursera classes. But honestly it’s part of the reason I’m a borderline job hopper too. I don’t plan to be bored forever

    8. Specialk9

      I found related ways to keep my brain engaged. Doing training to understand the business, even if it’s not related to my actual work. Listen to audiobooks. Read blogs on improving a hobby. Study or learn or find things to research.

    9. Epsilon Delta

      When I was in a similar situation I eventually gave up asking. Some things I did besides sitting there watching the minutes tick away: I made a fancy spreadsheet with macros and graphs to track my running, I tracked my calories on a fitness website (because, why not, it was something to do), I read a lot of Ask a Manager and Stack Overflow, I made manuals and documentation, and I had a clean inbox (I used the Inbox-Zero approach).

      1. Epsilon Delta

        Oh and not that I recommend this, but I complained constantly to my friends and family about how bored I was. This situation sucks and I’m sorry you have to deal with it!

    10. QualitativeOverQuantitative

      I’ve been in this position as well. I started asking people outside of my normal work circle, and I asked to help in specific ways/on specific projects. If I knew someone was working on a project that would involve data collection/organization I would ask to help with that specifically.

  4. WellRed

    I realize it’s the negative people, trolls and haters that do the bulk of online commenting, but it was so discouraging to see how many (including women) thought the woman who just quit her entertainment reporting job when she found out her male coworker made twice as much, was a big whiner, etc. We have so. far. to. go.

    1. Lady Phoenix

      Yay for Patriarchy. /sarcasm

      I feel that more older women or women in deeply patriarchal societies bulk at the idea of:
      A) Women being paid less than dudes
      B) Complaining about A
      C) Women working

      They are raised in a society that demands women be subservient and second class, and that rearing is hard to break.

      It is the same reason 60% of white women voted for Roy Moore, despite him being a child molester and rapist. /politics

      1. Foreign Octopus

        I was actually talking about ingrained/unconscious misogyny in women just the other day.

        It’s really disheartening to hear a woman come out with these statements. More so than if a man says it. I just get angry when a man says these things, but when it’s women, it feels like a huge disappointment.

        As for the breakdown of the Roy Moore voting demographic, apparently even being a child molester and rapist won’t be enough to stop some people voting for him. I was hugely impressed with the numbers from the black voters who swung it.

      2. Mike C.

        Be careful with that last statistic, there was a major divide between evangelical and non-evangelical voters. Something like 75-25 for one group and the reverse for the other.

        1. Loons with Gumption

          Mike, I normally love your comments and your strong progressive voice on here. But…this one really sounds like it’s trying to excuse white women with a bit of a “not all white women” argument. White women have a ton of work to do, and the more clearly we can face that, the better. 60% of white women were willing to vote for a child molester because he represented upholding white supremacy even more than the other candidate did. I think that’s far more important than which of those white women held evangelical christian beliefs and which didn’t.

          1. Jules the Third

            Yes, white *people* have a lot to work on for upholding racist Roy Moore .

            Holding white *women* particularly accountable for this, ie to a higher standard than white men, is actually misogynistic. The news stories have been leading with that, but it’s just another demonstration of the deep level of misogyny in our society and media.

            Intersectionality is hard. People choosing to be complicit in the structure of their own oppression because it makes them slightly less oppressed than someone else *sucks*. Blaming the people who are complicit deflects from the real problem: 70% of white voters in Alabama voted for Roy Moore, choosing not to believe the credible stories of six or more women.

          2. Specialk9

            Few things enrage me as much as Roy Moore. But that’s not how many voters saw it – they believed the last minute allegations to be a smear campaign with political motivations, and have bought into the brainwashing that liberals are actually evil, like going to hell evil. They (mostly) didn’t think they were voting for pedophilia and white supremacy, they thought they were being good Christians not swayed by a misinformation campaign. I disagree deeply and thoroughly, but am trying to be careful not to demonize the actual voters. (Say what you want about the leaders – they know what they’re doing.)

          3. Mike C.

            I’m not trying to excuse anyone here, I just think that if you’re going to talk about a tiny, non-random subset of a much larger population that it’s important to highlight any specific idiosyncrasies.

          1. Gaia

            It is because they didn’t believe them. If they had believed them it would have been a major issue. That they didn’t believe them is gross in and of itself but that’s the world as it is today. Let’s keep fighting to change that.

      3. Elizabeth West

        I was raised in that kind of atmosphere and I absolutely do NOT feel that way. But I do see how ingrained it is, because I watched other people swallow it whole. It’s very disheartening.

    2. Foreign Octopus

      I agree that it’s mainly those with negative opinions who feel the need to comment on subjects like this, and I hope it’s not representative of the people as a whole.

      I would be furious if I discovered I was being paid half of what my male coworker was making for the exact same job. Good on her for deciding that it wasn’t a situation she wanted to continue in. And good on the women who stick it out in an effort to change it from the inside.

      Still, like you said, the distance does seem a lot at times.

    3. Adlib

      Wow. That woman happens to be from my hometown, and I agree. In my opinion, if you don’t like something, and it won’t change, get out! I don’t get why that’s something people would put her down for.

      1. Sloane Kittering

        Yeah, she’s actually doing what those whiney boostrappers SAY they want people to do in those situations: leave to find another opportunity. She’s not suing or whatever they’re afraid women will do when we realize we’re mistreated. I guess they’re angry she’s complaining about it, but that’s a necessary service if you ask me. I respect that woman’s choices.

        1. Let's Sidebar

          So this. There seems to be no way to advocate for fair treatment of any demographic that will not be thoroughly criticized. You can’t even simply remove yourself from a situation where you are being treated unfairly like Catt Sadler did without being called ungrateful and having your talent and appearance (always appearance!) disparaged by strangers. It’s infuriating.

          1. Gaia

            Because when they have nothing else, they go after looks. After all, we woman are only good for being pretty little things for men to look at….

        2. Jadelyn

          EXACTLY!

          “There’s no need for laws around wages, gender discrimination, etc. because it’s a free job market and people can leave for a better-paying job.”
          *woman leaves a job that was paying her less than a male coworker to find a job that pays her better*
          “Wait no not like that!”

    4. OlympiasEpiriot

      I was shocked she left without another job to go to immediately — but, perhaps she does and we just don’t know about it. I would have preferred that both she and her cohost quit. I wish more men would do more than performative lipservice.

      1. Future Analyst

        Yes to this. I also wish more men would DO instead of talking theoretically about how they want their colleagues to be treated.

      2. ThursdaysGeek

        I was in a situation like that (new management and male co-workers got a nice raise for being male), and my two male co-workers told me it was time to find a new job. I asked if they wanted to work for a company that treated women like that. We all three left within a few weeks of each other.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Bravo for all of you. I hope the three of you explained it to the boss with pictures to help him understand.

    5. Temperance

      Seriously, I applauded her for it. Honestly, there will always be people who think women deserve scraps left behind by men. It sucks. The fact that we’re talking about it is a huge step forward, though.

    6. Millennial Lawyer

      Also the people that completely miss the point… for example saying things like : “so what, maybe they thought he provided more value. Not everything is sexism.” The problem is that men are considered having more value even when doing the same job!!! Urgh

      1. Sloane Kittering

        Several people also indicated that “there are lots of pretty women out there” or that her age or appearance are important to the job. Now it’s TV so grain of salt, but this is a pretty direct reflection on sexism in the workplace. There are lots of pretty men in the world, and they slowly get older and fatter too, but somehow we manage to stagger on and watch them anyway.

      2. Not So NewReader

        A woman can work many times harder to even be perceived as working. I have heard so many male bosses say, “Hire middle aged women, they work three times as hard as a man and they get more done.” I tried to explain, it’s not a choice. We HAVE to.

    7. KMB213

      This irritated me, too. Cat Sadler did exactly what the same trolls always say women *should* do. I often see commenters saying that women who find out they’re being paid less should do something about it instead of complaining. That’s what she did! She found a new job and quit the one where she was undervalued. (I understand this isn’t an option for all women, but it’s what the trolls often suggest.) It feels like women can’t win sometimes.

      1. Specialk9

        Well, yeah, that’s the point. It’s like ‘don’t riot in protest for your basic human rights.’
        ‘Ok, I’ll kneel.’
        ‘Kneeling is so disrespectful.’
        ‘Wait what? It’s *kneeling*.’
        ‘well yeah but you did it while black. I’m going to get you fired for your arrogant kneeling.’

        In other words, a situation designed to be impossible. My abusive ex used to design similar traps.

        1. Gaia

          This. It is designed so we literally cannot win. We complain and fight for improvement, we should have just shut up and left. We leave, we should have just stayed. We stay and work quietly for improvement, see – we’re fine with it so why do others care?

    8. Gaia

      Who in their right mind would stay? Who says “Well, I make have of what this other person makes but have the same job, title, responsibilities, qualifications, experience, education and background and they definitely aren’t willing to pay me the same soo….guess I’ll just stay and earn half of what I deserve”!? NO ONE, that’s who. I don’t even care how the genders shake out (although it is almost always a woman making less than a man), this is beyond what a reasonable person should ever tolerate.

  5. BittersweetCharity

    Terrible onboarding experience: Please share your stories.

    I need commiseration for the hellish first week on the new job.

    Thanks, AAM community!

    1. Fabulous

      At one temp job I worked, I was hired on a Thursday and told to arrive at 9am Monday morning. In short, they weren’t ready for me. I was to work reception at their small office, but the admin who was previously there (she worked in a different area and covered front desk intermittently) was still in the process of moving her computer out of the way. I had no computer, login, or badge for the first two days. Maybe I got my badge later the first day, but it wasn’t ready for hours. Everything in the office required badge access or a login, so literally all I could do is sit there and press the release lock button for the door. It was rough…

      1. Tuesday Next

        I have a similar story. I arrived at a new job. My line manager looked at me blankly and asked me what I was doing there. I (a little freaked out) said that it was my first day at the job that he (hiring manager) had hired me for.

        He looked panicky and said that they “weren’t ready for me”, that they had told the recruitment agency that they only wanted me to start a week later, and would I mind starting in a week?

        I said: absolutely I’d mind, my letter of appointment stated the 1st and I had no plan to lose a week’s salary, and that if the recruiter had in fact asked me to start a week later I would have said no. (I am not in the USA if anyone is wondering.)

        So they sent me home on a week of paid leave.

      2. AndersonDarling

        When I started Old Job, they took all the new hires on a tour of the campus and dropped the newbies off along the way. The first stop was my desk. I never got the tour. I never went into the other buildings on campus. I didn’t know where HR was or the security stations.
        Even after 2 years, I never found the cafeteria. I could have asked someone, but there’s a point when it is too embarrassing to ask.

        1. Ramona Flowers

          In one temp job I had to eat with the patients as the mean girls in the office told me that was the only canteen.

          It was a psychiatric hospital.

          There was another canteen for staff. That they chose not to inform me of.

          1. Former Inmate

            Really, it was a win for you. They sound like jerks, and patients are way more fun anyway. On the downside, there may have been better food available for staff, depending on the hospital, but probably not worth it.

    2. NicoleK

      The first day. The person “training” me in on our computer systems, applications, and software told me that she isn’t good at computers. And she was not lying.

    3. Mockingjay

      Early career story. I moved on from my first post-college job to a bigger company with more opportunities and pay bands.

      First day, I go through HR indoc and sign all the forms. Then new supervisor escorts me upstairs to new office, which I will be sharing with a senior coworker. Supervisor drops me off, I put my purse on the desk. Senior coworker looks at me, bangs her keyboard and signs off, tells me, “I’m quitting. Good luck; you’ll need it,” and stalks out the door. She had quit on the spot.

      It was 2 years of hell in that place. I finally got a transfer to another department, but I was hauled back for another 6 months to “help out” while they tried to find my replacement. No one wanted to work for this group.

      Once I got to finally stay in the other department, I spent 5 delightful years on a really good project.

      1. Bostonian

        Oooooh this reminds me of my own story. Not exactly the first day on the job, but rather my first day in a new department of the same company I had been at…

        There were 2 people in the department on that shift, and I was joining as the third person on the team. One of my new coworkers, Margaery, let’s say, was very pleasant and nice in all my previous, brief interactions with her. The other, Cersei, was a bit surly and sarcastic and kept to herself, but I didn’t think too much of it since I tend to be more reserved, too.

        About an hour into my first shift, I hear a screaming match, filled with name-calling, door slamming, profanity and everything. Margaery walked out on the spot because she couldn’t stand working with Cersei any more. Now I was left alone working with Cersei from that point on. I worked with her for 5 years in that department (luckily it was a growing department and a lot of other people joined), and I can absolutely see why Margaery would rather have no job than work with her.

    4. Ann O'Nemity

      I was hired to replace someone who was retiring and I was supposed to shadow him for two weeks. On my first day, he told me his house sold more quickly than expected and he wanted to leave for Florida so today would be his last day. He rush-trained me for three hours with a “let’s get it over with / I don’t care anymore” attitude. Then he left and I never saw him again. The company was just as shocked as I was and had no other training or onboarding planned.

      1. twig

        I worked with someone who went through something similar:

        My CoWorker (CW) was supposed to be trained by he predecessor who was retiring in two weeks. That person spent most of the two weeks going to various retirement luncheons and visiting folks (we’re a state university– which is like a small town — she was saying goodbye to people all over campus). So my predecessor got maybe one day of training and was left with a crummy manual for the system that she worked in (how to do what, but not the whys and wherefores etc)

        A few years later, I come along. My duties include backing up CW and taking on part of her work load. EVERYTIME I had a question about how to do something or why/when etc. her response would be: “I learned from the manual” or “I didn’t get any training and had to learn from the manual.” not actually helping me, just complaining about her own training/lack thereof.

        Then she got upset that I wasn’t doing the job to her standards and complained to my boss and her boss. Rather than Talking To Me or, I don’t know, giving me clearer directions…

    5. Morning Glory

      My very first temp job after I graduated, before I got a real full-time job. I showed up 20 minutes early and was immediately put to work by one person in a 4-person office. Another guy came in later, did not see me (or look for me at all – it was a very small office) and called the temp agency to complain that I was late.
      The temp agency called me to ask why I was late.
      The guy found me on the phone with the temp agency, got mad at me for taking a personal call, and did not believe me when I said I had been there the entire time. Even when the first person backed me up.
      It was only a 1-week position, so not temp to perm or anything, but I was so glad to be out of there by the end of it.

    6. BBBizAnalyst

      At last large financial behemoth toxic job, my terrible manager forgot to submit new hire tickets to IT thinking she could do it the day of. Because horrible financial behemoth was so big, there were several layers of bureaucracy before it could get done. I didn’t have a profile and couldn’t log into the network for two weeks. I was at my desk reading the employee manual daily, bored out of my mind with no training. It is no surprise I left that place as soon as my year mark was up.

    7. Emi.

      I had to attend a two-day “Welcome to the Teapot Agency Family” orientation, which was mostly fine and included free lunch.

      The terrible part was “Diversity Bingo.”

      Yes, we were given bingo cards with squares marked “a woman,” “a man,” “a person who has not graduated from college,” “a person of African-American descent,” “an LGBTQ person,” etc, and then instructed to mill around the room, find people who fit those descriptions to sign them. We basically all just went around saying “Here, I’ll see if I can sign something for you if you try to sign something for me,” because the alternative seemed to be saying “Hey, you ever been on welfare?” and “You look like you’re not from this country!” and “Any Jews around here?”

      Afterwards, they told us we were supposed to be interrogating our feelings of discomfort.

      1. KitKat

        Alison, maybe for one of your roundups of reader comments on a particular topic, you could do one on the worst diversity/cultural sensitivity training we’ve experienced.

        Though maybe it would just be too depressing :(

        1. Ramona Flowers

          I attended a ‘diversity awareness’ training session in which one of the case studies said something like: “Emma is married to another woman. Helen is religious.” Then asked how you would handle this situation.

          And for once in my life I thought of the right thing to say in the moment, put my hand up and said: I don’t understand this question. There isn’t a situation. Did you perhaps write ‘religious ’ when you meant to write ‘homophobic’?

      2. Violet Rose

        YIKES. We did a variation of that in Girl Scouts, but it was things like “born in another country” and… I forget, probably “has eaten octopus” and stuff like that. Random things that applied to a broad range of people and that made good “meet people” topics, not deeply personal and oft-stigmatised details!

        1. Athena

          That was our uni icebreaker at the start of each semester, and by third year we all knew enough people in the cohort to be able to write names down without getting up, occasionally yelling across the tutorial room to confirm points. “Hey, Steve, you were born in England, right?” “Yeah, that’s me.” “Sweet.”

      3. i2c2

        “Interrogating our feelings of discomfort” is such stellar icing on the awkwardness cake.
        I’d think it would be abundantly clear where the discomfort was coming from…

      4. Big Person

        College – same kind of deal – one question was “biggest person in the room” – Well, I was one of them, but Mike was bigger by far. Yeah, didn’t he feel good, and wasn’t the instructor responsible surprised when I told him I was appalled by that question, and a couple of others I don’t recall (it was a religious college too… I was gobsmacked.)

    8. QuakerBanker

      At the very first credit union that I worked at, new employees trained for a week at the corporate branch and then went to their permanent branches the following week. We were given keys to get into our branches during our training week. On my first day at my branch, I arrived and saw another car in the parking lot, so I assumed that another employee was there. I let myself into the branch. Well, turns out, nobody else was there. The alarm started going off, but I didn’t have a password to turn it off. The police and my new manager arrived at the same time. It was mortifying.

    9. Ange

      Arrived on my first day, was taken to my desk and told that the 9(!) boxes of audio typing were my work, and to get on with it. Didn’t even get shown where the bathroom was.

    10. Mazzy

      Fortune 500 company as a long term temp was the worst – no training whatsoever until the end of week one, no phone or computer until end of first day, no badge for a few days, no work until month two.

    11. MarianK

      I got a short term contract job doing clerical work and the staffer who was supposed to assign tasks to me and train me gave me a tiny trickle of work to do (less than an hour per day) for WEEKS. Staffers who would normally give clerical small tasks were afraid to because they had been told not to overwhelm me. Tasks I did were frequently kicked back to me and I was told I had done X incorrectly even if I had done X exactly the same way last week and had it go through just fine. There were some other things going on as well, like a new manager who genuinely had no idea what to do with me. I was determined to stay, though, as it was a foot in the door for an organization that doesn’t have a lot of turnover and rarely has job openings for the general public. Later, I figured the staffer in charge of me was hoping I would get bored and leave at the end of the contract instead of renewing. I cleaned the cubicle from top to bottom (it was grimy and jam-packed with boxes of old paperwork), and studied everything I could get my hands on. I hung in there and eventually got a permanent position – it was worth it for me, although it meant dealing with a seriously dysfunctional workplace for a while, and in other circumstances I would have left at the end of the contract. This may be a good time to assess the situation and see if the terrible onboarding is an example of what you should expect.

    12. Nervous Accountant

      Compared to what my company does now for new hires, mine was just bare bones and crap. Like being thrown in to shark filled waters when I just know how to paddle.

      It’s been 3 years and the company has grown like 3 times, so it’s better in that way. The new hire schedule is like 7 Days long w lots of meetings and webinars and stuff

      1. Ann O'Nemity

        Mine was similar. I received so little training it’s laughable (see above). Now I see my company doing elaborate onboarding for all new employees. 95% of me is happy that it’s improved so much; the remaining 5% is petty salt-in-the-wound envy.

        1. Specialk9

          I commend you for keeping it to 5%. The worst behavior seems to come from people who nurture that feeling!

    13. Lumen

      NewJob wanted me to start as soon as possible. Which was great, because I wanted out of my OldJob as soon as possible. When I got there, it was clear they didn’t really have any kind of training plan and didn’t know what to do with me. The two people on the team I was joining turned out to have massive issues with the supervisor, who had hired me, so they transferred all their angst and resentment for her onto me, including being pissed off that one of them had had to move desks to make room for me. They were openly cold and seemed exasperated when I tried to be friendly.

      The supervisor asked one of them to train me on a small, specific task (an absurdly easy one) and then, with her over my shoulder, set me to start working on it. The person who had trained me stood up and started freaking out that I wasn’t ready and shouldn’t be doing this. Worst of all? The supervisor backed down.

      I went home and felt like crying. Had I made a huge mistake? Even though OldJob was gaslighting and sexist and had no room for growth and underpaid me by thousands of dollars a year, had I jumped into a situation just as bad?

      Well: no.

      I am still at that job. Turns out those two people are just middle schoolers in adult bodies, and no one corrects or addresses it with them, so it isn’t likely to change. They aren’t always nasty to me, but when they’re in bad moods it’s like they look for a reason to find flaw in my work. Which they trained me to do. But they’re ridiculous, and over time I’ve learned that MANY people at NewJob see that and know it. They don’t take these two seriously, so I don’t, either. My supervisor, our group manager, and the department VP all regularly tell me what a great job I’m doing. Seniors in OTHER departments tell me what a great job I’m doing. I’m also finally paid well, can work from home when needed, have good benefits, and my supervisor is flexible and understanding about appointments and sick days.

      I am really sorry your first week has sucked. I hope it gets better for you, like it did for me.

    14. Ramona Flowers

      Accountancy firm. I was an office temp. When I arrived they put a copy of their client brochure in my tray and told me to familiarise myself with it (this will be important later).

      There were several older male staff who made sexist comments, which the other women giggled at. Awkward. And they kept calling things by the wrong name and expecting me to understand eg “Print the teapot spreadsheet” did not mean print a computer file – it meant find a physical document and either scan or photocopy it.

      I called the temp agency on the Friday and quit.

      The accountancy firm then complained to the temp agency that I had read a confidential client list. AS IN THE ONE THEY GAVE ME AND TOLD ME TO READ.

      (Happily I started a much better paid temp job the next Monday that I loved and stayed in for ages)

    15. Mimmy

      Not terrible, but I wasn’t too thrilled with the on boarding at my current job. I work at a state-run facility, so the overall orientation to the state department and my specific division was good, if not a bit overkill. However, orientation to my actual facility was, imho, lacking. Nine months in, and I still don’t feel like I have the “lay of the land”.

      Also, I’m an instructor with no prior instruction experience or training, which I made clear in my interview. The instructor I shadowed is more experienced but not really trained either, so I felt like I’ve been winging it all this time with somewhat mixed results. That seems to be the nature of state employment–seems like they bring in people with less than ideal credentials just to have a warm body. Maybe I’m just cynical.

    16. Kelly L.

      My interviewer really went to bat for me…and then got canned a few days later, so I had that funk of “the fired guy liked her” around me from the beginning. And I was also told I was being hired for the branch of the business that was 3 blocks from my house, but they actually hired me for the one across town.

    17. Mike C.

      Nothing new specific, I just hate that it’s takes weeks and months to hire someone, but on their first day you can even have the basic sh!t taken care of? Like computer accounts and what not?

      Come on.

      1. Ramona Flowers

        This is making me love my current job who had my logins ready, introductory catch-ups booked with people I needed to meet, and a selection of stationery ready for me on my desk. Also the first thing they did was show me the kettle and offer me tea. Before even showing me my desk. Which told me I’d found my people…

        1. Elizabeth West

          Exjob had a welcome kit in a branded tote bag that contained a stress ball (!?), a branded coffee cup, a stapler and tape dispenser (which I barely used in nearly four years–the office was mostly paperless), and a branded pen. I used the coffee cup as a penholder, since I had my own cup with a warmer, and left it behind when I got fired because who the f*ck wants a cup from the place that fired you?

          But so far, every job I’ve had has had my computer set up right away. I could at least sign in and configure everything the way I wanted, even if I didn’t have any actual work to do. Here’s hoping NextJob is the same way.

      2. Observer

        Sometimes the two are linked. It’s “We’ve taken sooo long to hire, that we need the new person to start RIGHT NOW. What do you mean that it’s going to take a few days to get everything set up?!”

      3. Bea W

        This happened all the time at my old job. People would be waiting 4-6 weeks for a freaking laptop even if the requisition was submitted weeks before starting. All of our work was done on the computer!

        I once ordered a privacy screen for an employee. It took 8 months to deliver it. When I asked for a rush on a replacement battery for someone’s laptop, it took 2 weeks. Back-up drives took 2 months. I cringed every time I had to order something controlled by IT. I’d check the WB Mason catalog first, but most of the computer related items were grayed out, and people were forced to order them through IT. What I learned later is that the items would actually ship within 48 hours from the vendor, and arrive promptly, but they were all routed to a central location rather than shipped directly to the employee. I routinely explained to people that anything ordered through that catalogue was shipped to Site B where it was then strapped to the back of a turtle for delivery to Site A, and if they needed it in less than 6 weeks to let me know so I could make a special request for a faster turtle.

      4. AMPG

        My old job once did an overhaul of our onboarding process once we realized that it actually took longer than two weeks to have everything in place for someone to start, which meant that we were expecting people to give a standard two weeks of notice to their old job, but wouldn’t actually be able to accommodate them for several days after that.

      5. Windchime

        No kidding. At a place I used to work, the manager would neglect to have a computer ready for new hires. Where the new hires were programmers. Who wouldn’t have had a computer, had the other devs not gone ahead and arranged for the computer to be installed. The manager would “forget”.

    18. Sled Dog Mama

      Not so bad compared to some.
      I was required to go to a two day “orientation”. I was the only exempt person in the group and 95% of the info pertained to non-exempt positions.
      HR also gave me conflicting, and all wrong info on PTO, when I got my first paycheck I was getting what my supervisor had said not either of the lower numbers HR had told me.

      1. Mimmy

        That’s how I felt at the orientations (three days worth!) for my current job – I’m what you would probably call a “perma-temp”. Much of the information seemed geared towards permanent staff; I think I was the only temp. I felt really out of place.

    19. Miss Nomer

      When I first started at this job, my first two days were spent kind of like usual, meeting people, etc. Then came The Wednesday From Hell.

      One of our higher ups who was usually remote was in, and I was introduced to him as having similar educational backgrounds. (Think something like biology in an office mostly full of journalists or something like that.) Just like that, I was on a project with him. I was excited, because he had achieved a designation in the field I really wanted to get into.

      It was a nightmare. He spent the first several hours ranting about being under appreciated, but “now that there are two of us, we can have a corner office in 45 days”. Never mind the fact that he essentially did have one; he just worked remotely. When we went for a “working lunch”, his card was declined *after* he argued with the waitress about the price of the meal. I covered it – not ideal since this is my first job out of college and I haven’t been paid, but whatever. It was awkward.

      That afternoon, we’re working away and he’s finally stopped ranting when another higher-up knocks and asks if he and two others can borrow a corner of the conference room for a “brief chat”. We shrugged and told him to go crazy. I don’t think we expected him to literally go crazy and pretend we weren’t there in order to use the conference room to rip the other two people a new one. I have never in my life been yelled at like that. The worst of it was, one of the people being yelled at was hired the same day as me, so it was his 3rd day.

      Honestly, by the end of The Wednesday From Hell, I felt mildly traumatized. Thankfully it calmed down significantly after that, but it was not a good start.

      What happened during your onboarding? Whatever it was, you have my support!

    20. Liz2

      Manager was on vacation my first week. Took three weeks to get a computer. I sat at an empty cube, being given no materials or reference points. Our team wasn’t assembled and manager wasn’t interested in anything. I brought a book to read. Team met occasionally and randomly, I was never given much of anything to do. The team was disbanded in a few months, I was reassigned to a new team led by a guy who thought you had to make a copy when you sent a fax. I was let go in a round of layoffs after 9 months from start day.

      First job out of college.

    21. periwinkle

      First day on the job, after attending the company-wide new employee orientation: Here’s your computer, here’s your big project, figure it out yourself because no one else has a clue. Oh, and your manager is off to a customer meeting for the entire next week and so is the only other person in your role in this department. Welcome aboard!

      You’d think an HR division would have some sort of onboarding, right?

      It actually worked out to be a great situation. I took the AAM “how to be a badass” advice to heart, proved my value, and am still in the same role enjoying a huge degree of autonomy.

    22. Rowan

      I once started a job for a software company where they were conducting a new experiment in onboarding. Instead of having the cohort of new employees go through a week of instructor-led training on their software, they had us all sit in a classroom and do the same material, but through self-paced online training. Very, very bad online training.

      So we all sat in a room for a week trying to help each other figure out what anything meant or how any of it worked, and also wondering why we had to be confined to this classroom if the training was online & self-paced.

      AND – they did this for *everyone*, even if you were, say, being hired into HR or Accounting and didn’t need to know how to program customizations for the software, much less have the background to understand any of the training. It was incredibly grueling and demoralizing.

    23. Detective Right-All-The-Time

      I showed up my first day at what would end up being a horrible job and found a beautiful brand new monitor and tower on my desk. Still in their boxes. They expected me to put it together myself. I was not hired into any sort of IT capacity.

      Thankfully I was young and pitiful so one of my new coworkers helped me out. Mostly because he didn’t want me to break anything.

      1. Curious Cat

        I like to imagine this is what it would be like to work at IKEA, forced to build your own desk/put together your equipment

    24. Jules the First

      I should have known that LastJob had no idea what to do with me when they called and asked if I’d be willing to take my start date as paid leave because they were “really busy”. That meant that my first actual day was a team workshop (awkward!). Then my boss kept telling me to duck out early because we weren’t busy…I think I had at least one paid day off a week that month, plus two or three days where I left two or three hours early. It got no better in January…

      In hindsight, I should have quit then and not waited until they laid me off in May.

      NewJob theoretically has an excellent onboarding…but I wouldn’t know as six months in I’ve yet to experience it. People keep saying things like “was that not covered in your orientation?” But they’re adorably disorganised, and it doesn’t happen to too many people, so I’ve forgiven them.

    25. Drama Mama

      First day working at a research study. They gave me two 4 inch thick binders of study protocol and told me I had to read them before the end of the day. Every page.

    26. Pink Cashmere

      At old job I knew within 20 minutes that I’d made the biggest mistake of my life. My line manager introduced me to the 8 colleagues who I’d shared an office with- some couldn’t even to bring themselves to look at me as they mumbled hello. 1 stared me down – it was bizarre. My line manager decided to show me around the building and as she did so she started to bitch one of the people I’d be working with, going on and on about how apparently hopeless she was. Then we bumped into a senior member of staff who ignored me completely as she complained to my boss that she’d just been into the office with my 8 new colleagues and had been universally ignored when she’d said hello. She kept going on and on about how rude they were. When we got back to my office my boss told them what the woman had said about them which caused 1 guy to pipe up “no one said hello because no one likes her!”. For the rest of the day I was just left with nothing to do. My boss sat behind me so I turned around to ask her a question only to catch her rolling her eyes! No one spoke to me all day and there was a really uncomfortable atmosphere.

      The following morning I walked in & said a bright and cheery hello to everyone. Not a single person responded or even looked up. No one said hello because they’d already decided they didn’t like me and three years of hell followed.

    27. That Would Be a Good Band Name

      I have two not-completely-awful but definitely not-great experiences. Current job: HR asked me if I could start on the Friday prior to the original Monday agreed upon date due to my boss having to go to our international office the week I was starting and he wanted to be there for my first day. So, I come in on Friday. HR has me fill out some paper work and gives me my ID badge, and then calls my boss over. We walk to the door to make sure my badge works, then introduced me to 3 or 4 people that we happen to walk past, and arrive at my shared office. He introduces me to my coworker, says she can answer any questions I have, and that was the last I saw of my boss for over a week. No emails, no calls, no contact at all beyond that 10 minutes in the morning of my first day. He’s very hands off, I still only speak to him maybe once a week and for not more than 5 minutes.

      The other wasn’t really onboarding, as I had been there for at least a couple of weeks. But something happened with my first paycheck at a previous employer where they mixed up the direct deposit info for my check and another new hire. I was in training all day and had no access to my pay stub or to check my deposit (this was before smartphones). My boss called to alert me because the deposit I received was at least 4 times what I should have received and there was much freaking out from some higher-ups that I hadn’t already reported that I was paid way too much. At least my boss was reasonable and knew there was no way I knew and was able to get people calmed down so it all worked out.

    28. Rusty Shackelford

      It’s not as bad as most of the ones above me, but I worked for Giant Soul-Sucking Retailer one summer while I was in college, and my onboarding consisted of two videos. One was about benefits, although I wasn’t eligible for benefits because I was a part-time employee. The other was about risk management, and it probably covered some other things as well, but the only thing I could ever remember about it was that if a customer slipped and fell, you were NOT NOT NOT supposed to say “I’m sorry,” because that was an admission of guilt and the lawyers would be all over it.

        1. Rusty Shackelford

          It is entirely possible that I did get it, but it was so traumatic I have blocked it from my memory…

    29. Crylo Ren

      Sorry to hear that!

      At one of my first jobs out of undergrad, the employer was ADAMANT that I start ASAP so I only gave 1 week notice to my previous job. Then, on my first day…there was no computer set up. There was no real onboarding program or materials to read or anything. My supervisor ended up getting me magazines *from the bathroom* (think: Vogue, Cosmo, whatever) and said I could just read those until 5:00 PM. I wasn’t allowed to have my phone out because it was a company that dealt with customer data security. It was hellish.

    30. ArtK

      Recently I started with a new company. They require a background check (first time in 40+ years of working), so I signed the paperwork. HR contacted me a few days later and said “Your background check came through just fine, except that they couldn’t verify your current address. Would you please send a utility bill, etc.?” A simple search of my name and the address will come up with multiple public records. I own the place, so it’s in the county recorder’s office which is open to anyone. It’s in my credit report, which they had access to. I did snark back at HR questioning the ability of the search firm they used. HR came back and said that “… others have had the exact same issue. They’re fine on everything else, so we’ll stick with them.” If the search firm gets that simple thing wrong, what else are they getting wrong? How can HR trust them at all?

    31. voluptuousfire

      I was due to start work as a receptionist in a medical office on Tuesday, Sept 11th, 2001. I live in NYC. Of course my start date got pushed up. Pretty much anyone in the office with medical training of some sort left to go to Manhattan to assist.

      Just the highlights:

      * Never actually filled out a W-2/I-9 or even knew what my pay rate was until I got my first paycheck, with taxes taken out. (Still not sure how they were able to get away with that)
      * Never actually had a set schedule. Was told to ask the office manager (also my manager) if I should come in the next day.
      * Had a horrible manager. She was afraid of confrontation and anytime she didn’t want to deal with something she didn’t like (which was often), she would be “in a meeting with the doctor.” I think she just hid.
      * In the end it didn’t work out (I wonder why?), and I ended up giving my notice to one of the medical assistants because after trying to get the OM on the phone for 5 days.

      This was over 3 weeks. This office ended up being a horror show and busted by one of the consumer reporters on the local news for having untrained medical staff take blood and do xrays. I kid you not.

    32. Not So NewReader

      So many places think onboarding is not important.
      Job 1. I think the boss had no clue about what his department did. I was told to shadow someone and that was it. Years later the boss was fired and I was still waiting for him to tell me what I would work on. (In real life, I just staked out an area and decided that I would work on all Xs.)

      Job2. Showed up the first day to find 3 coworkers. None of them greeted me. I greeted them. They began arguing among themselves as no one wanted to train me. The arguing went on for 45 minutes, meanwhile I still have my coat on because I can’t get past them to hang it up. Then I realized this is not a problem, I have my coat and I can just leave. A long time later I let the boss know what happened.

      Job3. No computer and here I am. It took a bit but finally I was assigned a computer, that was probably two weeks. Then the boss left on vacation for three weeks. My counterpart was new also. She told them she was familiar with computer work. I had to turn the computer on for her every day. I had to talk her through typing up a document in word… this is how you open Word…..

      I stayed at all these places and there were things about each place that I really liked. But the first few days took the determination of ten giants for me to get through it.

    33. Jules the Third

      Not a horror story, but boring and badly managed.
      1st job out of MBA school, they had at least 4 new people from my program in the same 2-week period. I never checked with the others, but I had no computer for a week. They printed out the documentation, so I read it. I sat and watched people do their work; a couple of people let me do some data entry while they watched me. Chatted and got to know people.

      Friday 11am-ish, boss says, ‘there’s really nothing more you can do until you get a computer, take the afternoon off’. So I went home and got married.

      It makes my wedding anniversaries REALLY EASY – work sends me a congratulatory email on every work anniversary, so I get a reminder five days before the wedding anniversary. I don’t actually remember my wedding *date* – early June sometime. 10th, maybe?

      Our first date happened April 6th, I remember that. That was actually what we commemorate.

    34. Pamalamadingding

      Hired as a clinic sec’y at a busy children’s specialty clinic. Person I replaced had left 9 months before. State job. Hiring process tedious (3 months from posting to decision, then 2 months to start date). Showed up to clinic after HR orientation. Boss was a mess–just received word her mother was dying, out of state. She bawled all day (understandably) and then left the state for 6 weeks to be with mom for her final days–I completely support that, but yikes–no desk manual, no direction, no computer privileges, (computer was monitored, so ANY site out of intranet was prohibited) no software training, any attempt to help at anything was spurned by mean girls afraid I was after their jobs–I just sat there for 6 weeks waiting for her to return. In my little 8 x 8 windowless pass thru office, just off the waiting room, listening to Despicable Me loop over and over and over and over and over on the patient tv….

    35. Julianne

      In my school district, new hires rarely get fully onboarded before the school year actually starts. The biggest problems are that you don’t usually get your first paycheck until the fourth week of school, and insurance can take until November to kick in, but there are also many little day to day problems that end up seeming almost as bad as not getting paid. Like how you have to enter your employee ID number to use the copy machines (so, no copies) and log into the student information systems (good luck getting your class list or access to IEPs), and even before HR gives you access to your district email account, they send you important emails with action steps required for your onboarding at that email account.

    36. Oops

      Formal HR stuff was fine, then I was sent to lunch with a peer. She spent the entire lunch complaining about how terrible the place and the people were and I went back to my desk and cried on the phone to my husband. It ended up being fine though–her complaints weren’t completely baseless, but it was all manageable once I got integrated.

    37. only acting normal

      My first day was the week after a fire gutted one office and left half the building smoke damaged. There was no IT and the person onboarding me was running round finding places for everyone else to work. They gave me a textbook to read and sent me home. We got our office back about 2 weeks later. It smelled slightly bacony for months.

    38. Ladybugger

      I got this.

      Got to new job, in New Job First Day dress, had to clean my disgustingly filthy office for two hours with Lysol wipes before I could even touch anything. No computer, no office supplies, no phone. Just totally empty except for what looked liek years of dirt. They gave me a choice of three filthy chairs that were all broken in some way, presenting it like this fabulous opportunity. Boss talked to me for like half an hour and then disappeared and left me there to…? There was a safe in the office people needed so coworkers came in and out all day while I sat there staring at a painting of white tigers and pretending to write notes in my notebook.

      I was also invited to a summer BBQ at lunch and happily got some food, my boss said hi and then disappeared to sit at a full table with her friends and ignored me. I stood around awkwardly as there were no other seats open, it was blazing hot and I don’t do well at introducing myself to strangers, and then went upstairs to eat in peace. Later she came upstairs to my office to reprimand me for missing the BBQ that was “for me”. In no way billed as for me and no one knew who I was.

      Then she went on vacation for four weeks. In the interim I moved mostly to my second office (I had one in a building a few blocks away for some reason – apparently I needed one in both buildings), which was at least clean. When she came back, I got reprimanded for spending all my time at the other office because I was supposed to split my time. She also yelled at me for starting a Teapots Plan (I was the Teapots Manager), because “who authorized me to do that”. She was also mad we didn’t have new hosting for the website, when I had zero details about it and neither did the tech guy. She started this whole conversation by snapping at me “I heard you’ve been talking bad about ThisTeapot Company.” I had indeed noted no one seemed to smile there, and she had spies.

      I left that day. They wouldn’t even let me get my stuff! They made me wait in the parking lot and have a box run out by the manager there. This was not some top secret Fortune 500 company.

      About a year later, I sent her an anonymous envelope full of glitter in the mail, when those become a popular thing on the internet for a hot minute. I would be lying if I said I regret it. To be honest I probably could have handled myself better in the face of all the ridiculousness but I was just so thrown by the whole experience.

    39. BJ

      I worked on a contract with a military installation, but there was a glitch in processing our clearances, so we couldn’t get ID’s for two months. Which meant we couldn’t even get on the installation to go to work and there was no way to work remotely.

    40. Mandela

      My first “real” job was a nightmare. I was new to the professional world and was eager to make a good impression so on the day I got the offer, I was expected to start training… 15 minutes later. I ignorantly agreed even though I should’ve immediately seen the signs for dysfunction. Also, I never even received full training and was still learning about my role the entire year and a half I unfortunately stayed.

    41. BittersweetCharity

      Wow, thank you for sharing your stories!

      I feel a world better knowing I’m far from alone when it comes to terrible welcomes from workplaces.

      Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    42. Phoenix Programmer

      Here is one that ultimately ended up being a place I stayed and enjoyed!

      The day before I started hr called and cut my salary $12,000. This resulted in me delaying starting actually while I negotiated getting that salary back. Which I did!

      Then on day 1 I was stuck in the hallway for 2 hours since there was a mix-up with who was supposed to pick me up.

      Did not have a computer for a week.

      Unknown to me several departments were against the creation of my job. They made year one hell until I won them over.

      My job was not defined until year two. I felt like a miserable failure.

      Things really picked up in year 2. By year 3 it’s my favorite job ever!

      The bosses are great it was just a chaotic time for me to start!

      1. BittersweetCharity

        You are incredibly persistent!

        Congratulations on not only surviving but truly thriving in an inhospitable environment.

    43. MLiz

      My first job out of grad school, my first day was a Friday, because that was the first of the month. I arrived at 9 am sharp, only the admin was there and looked at me and asked what I was doing there.
      I said I was the new RA and today was my first day and I was supposed to meet Mr. COO. Turned out Mr. COO was not there yet. Ok. Waited about an hour, got toured by the CEO’s assistant, but really it was a tiny company (in the office were 6 people plus me) until Mr. COO arrived. Mr. COO talked to me like 10 minutes, said he had a meeting. Other people arrived who were also in that meeting.
      That meeting lasted until 2 pm, and I was alone in the upstairs office in that time. No computer login credentials, nothing. So I sat on my hands. I ate some nuts, because no one told me how lunch worked.
      At 2 pm Mr. COO and everyone else comes in and then everyone elves basically vanishes. Mr. CEO says hello and vanishes to his office. Mr. COO goes to lunch with some others, doesn’t take me along. They return and I get my computer credentials (yay!). But then Mr. COO is busy, and he’s the only one who had even a partial familiarity with what my job would even be. At 5 pm he comes in and says he’s going home now and when I asked what I was to do he said I could go too.

      That was my first day. I was about to move to that city, where I knew approximately three people and where I had never wanted to go (I was desperate for work, I’d been unemployed for over a year at that point). I hadn’t moved YET, so I went to the station (I had just missed the train, of course with Mr. COO’s timing) crying the whole time, crying on the 4 h train ride home and telling my best friend via text that I hated it and never wanted to go back. They were NOT sympathetic.

      That’s when I learned that dream jobs really don’t exist.

      That job was a lot of learning on the fly and winging it and getting by on the seat of my pants. I was laid off a year later. By now the company doesn’t exist anymore.

    44. Almost Violet Miller

      Not horrible but not great either.
      I moved abroad from country A to country B for this specific job. The management was based in country C so I was flown there from B on my very first day for what they called induction week. It was already Wednesday.
      Turned out that my boss and the other manager I was supposed to work with are in country B on meetings and picking up my computer.
      I got to spend with them about 1.5 days that was enough for… nothing. So disorganised!

    45. Windchime

      My worst onboarding story is from a telemarketing job I had back in the early 1980’s. I couldn’t find a job and so I took an awful telemarketing job selling storm windows or screens or something. And it was a split shift; I would have to work 4 hours in the morning, leave for 8 hours, and then work 4 more hours in the evening. So I show up for the first day and am given a script and several phone book pages of people to call. There was also a brief explanation of how I was supposed to mark each number I called with different symbols indicating that I had reached someone, or left a message, or it was busy–whatever. Apparently someone on a different shift would go through my list and, based on my symbols, call people again.

      Well, apparently I marked it up wrong and people got multiple calls. So I got in trouble for that when I returned to the evening shift. After the chastising was over, I started calling again and called some poor woman who had obviously been crying. She hung up on me. I finished that shift but never went back (and never got paid). It was horrible.

    46. Cedrus Libani

      This wasn’t me, fortunately, but we had someone become a legend within an hour of arrival.

      The new guy was being shown around the building. There was a small room, about the size of a walk-in closet, packed with several million dollars’ worth of delicate electronics. There had once been a sink in this room, but it had been removed, leaving a pipe sticking out of the wall. Also, the room was kept dark, because light messed with the measurements…

      Yes, the new guy bumped into the pipe, snapping it right off. Suddenly, there was a geyser of water coming out of the wall, right in the middle of a confined space packed with electronics.

      The whole floor came running. We organized ourselves into bucket brigades – the water filled a standard desk-sized wastebasket every two seconds or so, we passed them down the line to the (overloaded) sinks, and to whatever other receptacles we could find. Any instrument light enough to move got put on a shelf; we made a makeshift dam around the rest, using coats, shirts, and rolls of TP. This went on for about fifteen minutes, until Facilities managed to shut off the water to the building. It was a spectacle.

      Obviously, new guy was never allowed to forget this. It wasn’t his fault, and there were no hard feelings, but still. What a first day. (Everything was left unplugged for a week to dry; the big boss was visibly sweating it the whole week, but in the end, the damage was minimal.)

    47. Bug Planet

      I once started a new job where they were VERY unprepared for me.

      My immediate supervisor wasn’t there when I arrived, I had no desk, no chair, no computer…nothing. They’d had four weeks to prepare. FOUR WEEKS.

      The first two weeks they gave me time-wasting tasks to do, because I already had a holiday booked and they thought it pointless to give me any real work until I came back. I didn’t get an induction until months into the job. They lied about several things I neglected to get in writing.

      In retrospect, there were a number of red flags before I took the job, and I should have gone with my gut. The environment really didn’t improve so I stuck it out for an acceptable amount of time and then noped out of there.

    48. Belle di Vedremo

      This is more unintentionally hilarious than horrible: took a holiday retail gig with a reasonably nice retailer. Watching one of the training videos, about kids clothing. Here’s the transition:
      “Remember we said that girls will be girls, well boys will be, too.”

      Still makes me laugh. Their intention was obvious, their follow through, well it’s given me a good story.

  6. Fortitude Jones

    Now for a non-question:

    So I’m now at the end of the third week of my new job. I want to thank Artemesis for assuring me before I started that I could be a successful proposal manager as long as I really pay attention to the RFP requirements and make a thorough table of compliance. I’m assisting one of the longer term PM’s here, and she raved about how well I did with the table (she barely fills one out anymore because she said she doesn’t find it very helpful), but she did use mine in drafting her next proposal due in just a few short weeks. My new boss has also complimented me on catching things in the RFP that she didn’t think someone new would get, so I think I’ll be okay in this job after all – I was really concerned not having any prior proposal writing experience would hurt me.

    I was also nervous that I’d get to this new job and would be walking into a team that was already close and would have trouble fitting in. Oddly enough, they all treat me like I’ve always been here. It doesn’t hurt that one of my direct teammates went to the same high school I did and graduated two years behind me (we never knew each other then), I have a similar background to my boss and have similar tastes in TV shows as her and the before mentioned colleague, I share a Starbucks and fashion obsession with another, a celiac diagnosis with another (yay, I’m no longer the only one with a weird disease!), an editorial and horror writing background with another, and a love of thrifting and consigning with another. I’m not totally in love yet – still exercising cautious optimism as it’s easy for people to be on their best behavior for the first couple of weeks of a new hire’s tenure – but so far, I like the environment I moved to.

    There is one problem, though, and that’s my grandboss. I’m not sure I like him – he’s already rubbed me the wrong way twice. The first time was when he asked my boss to ask me to travel with one of my teammates to one of our locations out of state a couple of weeks into me being here. I would have been fine with that any other time, but I no longer have insurance and won’t have any again until the first of the year. I told my manager that I have no problem traveling during this job, but I don’t feel comfortable doing it while uninsured, and she said she understood – it’s never mandatory for us to travel, it’s just encouraged so we can get a better feel for our field operations when writing about them come contract renewal time. She told grandboss I said no due to the lack of insurance, and for the rest of the week leading up to the trip, he kept making passive aggressive statements about how I was missing out on a great training opportunity and when I once again reminded him that I have no insurance, his response was, “You’re not going to get sick or injured out there.”

    Dude, you have zero way of knowing that. I come from the insurance field where I’ve personally seen people become injured or sick at work or just in their day-to-day lives when they had no personal insurance and were relying on our crappy commercial insurance to cover their medical expenses (which could take some time). I also saw that same issue on the property side as well. Because of this, I don’t do risk like that – if I did in fact defy the odds and got sick/injured, I’d have no money to pay for the bills out of pocket (a long-term chronic illness I didn’t realize I had caused me to blow through my HSA this year). Then I’d be forced to file a workers’ comp claim, which would increase their premiums. This was not a smart thing to suggest or say knowing my background.

    Then the next annoyance happened yesterday when I overheard him talking to some coworkers about how glad he was the tax reform bill passed. I’m a strong believer that you do not discuss politics, money, religion, and sex in mixed company – you have no idea whether your audience agrees with your ideological beliefs or not, and you could be putting people in an awkward situation they have no way out of. I heard one of my coworkers point out to him that while, yes, her tax bracket will be going down in the short term, in the long-term it will go back up. He then proceeded to dismiss her very accurate statement by insisting she pay close attention to her paychecks next year and tell him that she doesn’t like having more money in her pocket. She didn’t respond, and I was annoyed on her behalf because of course she’s not going to stand there and argue with grandboss about his short-sighted viewpoint. His director-level position makes it so that those lower than him on the org chart might not feel confident speaking up and out against him, and he should know better.

    I have a feeling I’m not going to like this guy at all, and that’s a shame because most everything else about the job is good (so far). I’m going to keep my eye on him and the things he does or says, and if I don’t like what I see, it’ll be on to the next.

    1. Sloane Kittering

      If I were you, I would *not* start keeping a list of reasons to dislike your grandboss. You have zero power in that scenario and it doesn’t benefit you at all. Agree the insurance thing is annoying but I’d try to let it roll off my back.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        I wasn’t talking about keeping a list of reasons to dislike anyone – what I meant was, keeping alert to anymore odd or offputing incidents so as to not be blindsided.

    2. Mel C

      In one ear and out the other. As long as your direct boss is a good one and understanding of your request to not travel (it seems like she was), don’t worry about what grandboss says – just smile and shrug. As for everything else he says that might rub you the wrong way, ditto! Put it out of your mind. Just think of it as: we’re all allowed a point of view and it’s fine for him to have (a wrong) one :-)

      Obviously, if he starts discussing OTHER points of view, like not liking a certain protected class of individuals, or making sexually graphic remarks, that’s a whole different animal. But having different political views is normal – just let it go.

        1. Foxtrot

          For a blog that has nothing to do with politics, why are we going down the road of discussing whose opinions are right or wrong? Especially on a question asking how to keep political discussions out of non political situations?

    3. Samata

      I’d say to let these things roll of your back – I agree that the talking politics and insurance thing are annoying. Especially since he wouldn’t let the insurance thing go…

      But if he had been spouting a political view you agreed with would you be as annoyed? And turning down a request from big boss to go to a recommended training (for whatever the reason) so early into a job can be a little alarming to some since so few people do it. I understand your reasons and don’t think you should have to risk anything to go, that is not what I am saying AT ALL.

      I guess all I’m really saying is if you let this guys’ quirks let you down when it sounds like you enjoy your job and he’s not making it hard for you to do your actual job it’s going to take up a lot of mental energy and end up ruining what sounds like an otherwise promising career move.

      I have to actively talk myself down from annoying co-workers at times, I get it’s not always easy. But my life and job are so much more enjoyable when I just acknowledge it and then throw it away.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        But if he had been spouting a political view you agreed with would you be as annoyed?

        Yes, because politics period is not an appropriate conversation for a workplace that doesn’t have anything to do with politics. And I think you misunderstood about the travel – it’s not mandatory, and most of the people on my team didn’t do it when they were new hires. That’s why my direct boss didn’t care (and I did end up going on a local site visit with one of my longer term teammates yesterday).

        1. Samata

          I didn’t say it was mandatory – I said it was recommended, which I got the impression from above. And I didn’t say his response was the right one, either, I just said it might have thrown him for a loop because people usually don’t say “no” to the big boss a few weeks in and he reacted poorly.

          And your reply to Mel C highlighting whim being wrong and your defensive comment back to me and Sloane makes me think you want vindication for disliking him & his political views, not advice on how to deal with him and still enjoy all the great aspects of a job you work hardly to get and seem to otherwise enjoy.

          1. Fortitude Jones

            No, I was merely pointing out that I thought there was a misunderstanding in what was gathered from what I wrote – there was nothing defensive in either of my responses, just correcting what I perceived to be a lack of clarity in the conversation. Have a nice day.

    4. MissGirl

      Your comment about being on to the next job is concerning. Nothing he’s done is really awful albeit annoying, and it’s common to work with people you really don’t like. I agree with Sloane. Don’t look for things that annoy you. Do your work well and pick your battles.

    5. Jules the First

      Welcome to proposal management – sounds like you’ll fit in just fine!

      As someone who has worked for a long line of absolutely bonkers bosses (from the whimsical to the physically abusive and just about everything in between), take it from me that you can cope with almost anything from your grandboss when your actual boss is good – and it sounds like yours is.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        She really is very sweet. And I’m heartened by the fact that everyone in the department loves her. Like, they all come to her for advice and they all tell me she’s a great mentor. I like her a lot – she reminds me of a few of my favorite former bosses.

  7. Anom

    Lately I’ve been daydreaming about getting laid off from my job so I can relax and pursue other things guilt-free. I’m talking to a career counsellor now and trying to focus on coming up with a proper exit strategy. But each day I think I edge closer to flaming out spectacularly. Anyone ever take a leave of absence from work to pursue something else? What did you do? Did you come back to your job afterwards? How did you find the overall experience.

    1. Foreign Octopus

      I didn’t so much as take a leave of absence as quit and book a ticket to Spain in one memorable afternoon after I reached the end of my tether, so I can’t speak to returning to work afterwards.

      However, I will tell you that I haven’t regretted my choice. It was very spontaneous. I had no back up plan. No real plans, but I am just so much happier and healthier now that I’m not working in a job that made me cry in the morning when I woke up. I’m not making as much money as I was before but my quality of life has improved.

      I now teach English as a Foreign Language (predominantly online) and I work fewer hours – about 20-25 a week – but I still earn more than enough to cover everything I need to and have fun on the side. It’s also allowed me to learn a foreign language (Spanish, since I’m in Spain) and focus on writing.

      I feel like a completely different person to who I was when I was working in my job in the UK. I don’t recognise that person and I really feel that the person I am now, today, is the person I’ve imagined myself being all along.

      So, I really recommend going for it.

      1. Anom

        I teach English now. I’ve thought of going somewhere (my passion is Italy but I’d settle for South Korea or Spain) and I’m actually thinking of taking a leave of absence this summer to do a summer camp somewhere in Europe. My biggest fear is obviously long term financial stability. How much do you manage to save each month, if you don’t mind me asking? And do you have a long term plan for affording things like kids and a house? Just venting some of the stuff that keeps me up at night.

        1. Foreign Octopus

          Hi! I don’t mind you asking at all.

          Right now, I’m not actually saving, but that’s only because I had an unexpected (and very large) vet’s bill that came up that I had to pay for. Normally, I could put away anywhere between €100-€200 a month depending on what I want to do in a month. I always save €100 when my cat doesn’t bleed me dry.

          As for long term planning, I don’t want children so I can scratch that off the list right away. I do, however, want a house with a garden at some point. This is a little more difficult because buying in Spain as a foreigner means shouldering a lot of extra costs. My long-term plan for this is to wait until I become a resident (after 5 years) or a citizen (after 10 years). I’m in no hurry though as I’m only 27 and it’s very, very typical for people in Spain to rent for the majority of their lives. They don’t have the same outlook towards house ownership that British and American people do.

          And regarding financial stability, it takes about two years to really feel comfortable with what you’re earning and finding your right footing. However, English teaching is an industry where you’re never going to be out of work. There is always, always someone who wants to learn English, particularly from a native speaker. I can get anywhere from between €20-€25 an hour for an in-person lesson, and they often pay cash in hand.

          I did know of one woman from the Netherlands who was paying €60 an hour for online Skype lessons before she found my brother who only charges her €20. She’s an outlying example but it gives you an idea of how far people are willing to go for English.

          I really recommend that, if you do this, you go somewhere you’re passionate about. You’ll enjoy it so much more if you’re in the right surroundings and Italy is amazing (but, then again, so is Spain).

          I hope this helped :)

    2. hopeful EMT

      I used to dream about being fired, even though I needed the paycheck to pay rent. I changed jobs, but after about 8 months the new job changed a bunch of policies and I was back to the “fine, fire me” attitude. Last summer my husband was offered a much better paying job, and I quit my job to go back to school to pursue my dream of joining EMS. I just finished school and still need to get certified and get a job, so I might be feeling differently about this decision 6 months down the road, but right now I feel like it’s one of the best things I ever did. I’m so much happier. I did some on the job training as part of school and loved it. I can’t wait to start in this new field. I never want to go back to what I used to do. And the best thing was my school was very part time, so I have had lots of time to just take care of me and love on my cats. It’s hard living off of one income, but I’m thankful I’ve had the chance to focus on me and what I want to do with my life.

      1. Anom

        That’s cool to hear you pursuing your dreams. I thought of going back to school but I don’t really know what I want to be doing. It’s only me so I don’t have another income, although if I needed to I could live pretty frugally and I’m still in the same city as my family (although moving back in is only slightly above living in my car). I know I need a change and I’d like that change to involve several months of unstructured free time. My issue is what comes after that.

    3. yup

      I had this happen to me 5+ years ago. I traveled, a lot… Moved to a new city where I knew 0 people (no job, just showed up) and just focused on myself. IT WAS AMAZING! I grew so much as an individual. I was terrified of what future employers would think of me, but for each person that judged me, there were multiple people who either respected me for it, did something similar or wish they had…. I have historically been a “Type A” personality and for the first time, I learned to live….

      Here is the deal… Money matters, a lot. I have always been a good saver and had close to $30k in the bank when I started, plus about $1,200/ month coming in through UI. I had no ongoing expenses and my parents were generous to keep me on their health insurance (I was under 26 at the time). Whatever time you plan to be out of work, double it and plan accordingly. However much money you think you will need during that time, double it and plan accordingly… Come up with a list of backup plans if you have $0 in the bank at the end of this journey. Can you borrow money from parents? Friends? Crash on someone’s couch? What about health insurance? Are you eligible to be on your parents? Do you need to research the marketplace? What other expenses will you have if you practice minimalism for 6 months? Cell phone? Car payment?

      Once you answer all of these questions, you can come up with a plan… Figure out what you want to do, how much it is going to cost and enjoy life.

      Good luck!

      1. Anom

        Thanks for talking about the money part. I have about 30k saved up, half of that is my emergency fund so it’s in cash. No stable income if I quit my job although I have taught English online for a while and could probably earn about $1000/month, plus $500 from a personal loan that is being repaid to me. I’m Canadian so no worries about health insurance if I stay in Canada, but hopefully I can get some travellers insurance for relatively cheap if I leave. I’m really interested in going to Italy although I don’t speak the language.

        How did you plan to go? Were you laid off (I’m assuming yes with the mention of UI)? What kind of work were you doing, and did you find another job in the same industry? And what did you focus on other than traveling? Did you do any online courses or side projects? Or was it mostly focusing on yourself.

        1. yup

          I was laid off… I was thinking about doing something like that for quite a few months anyway, and then… BAM, no job and I decided it was the world’s way of telling me it was time to go. Admittedly, I am not sure that I would have had the guts to actually quit a the time, but luckily, I didn’t need to.

          I lost my job around March and I didn’t actively start job searching until around August…. I was working in nonprofit – I got quite a few interviews within the nonprofit sector but ultimately changed fields. I started a new job in December that year.

          A lot of what I did was traveling. Go to Italy! You will meet so many English speakers, learn to communicate in languages you don’t speak and it will be so empowering. Also – there are TONS of Canadians traveling through Europe. I could not believe how much more relaxed Canadians are compared to Americans when it comes to travel and taking breaks. One day I was waiting for a shuttle to a hostel in Italy, there were 9 of us… Everyone was Canadian except me….

          The option for online classes wasn’t as prevalent as it is now. I found a lot of free courses through the library. I took a lot of business planning courses. I also volunteered a lot.

          Above all else, I learned to challenge what society expects of me and ask myself “Is this what I want out of life, or what someone else wants for me?”

          If you have around $30k saved up, it sounds like you are pretty financially savvy. I consider myself good with money, but I have definitely made random purchases that I regret. Not one of them has been related to something travel… NOT ONE….

          1. Specialk9

            “I could not believe how much more relaxed Canadians are compared to Americans when it comes to travel and taking breaks.”

            Funny how being paid to take lots and lots of leave translates to traveling more and being more relaxed. It almost seems like someone should do a study. :D

    4. Bea W

      I did this over the summer. My job was so toxic I decided it was best for my mental and physical health to just leave and take a break since I hadn’t yet found another job. I was also feeling unsure what I wanted to do with my career, stick with what I was doing or do something different.

      I went back to work at a new job in the same field a few months later. About 2 months in I figured out for myself that I don’t want to be where I am. I don’t want to be chained to a desk 40+ hours a week. I want time to pursue other interests, and possibly make a career change in the future or do half my current job (because it pays well) and half something else. I decided to work at my day job consulting part time so that I have income coming in while I figure it out. I have not made that transition yet, but am in the process of setting that up so that I can do it next year.

      I am really glad I took that time. I needed it in general, and it did show me that some of my health issues were work/lifestyle related and making the right changes could drastically improve my quality of life. Going back to work in a similar position after the break has been a very informative experience for me in terms of figuring out what I am going to do next and also in giving me a enough courage to take the risk of pursuing a life change.

    5. Traveling Teacher

      To comment on the money side of things: Please, please, please don’t undersell your hours. If you are a certified teacher, there’s no reason you should charge less than 30-40 euros an hour, at minimum. Once you become specialized in a tutoring sector, you can start increasing those fees, too. Don’t be fooled into taking less because you accept cash or because you believe you’ll make more if you don’t report it as income. Besides being illegal, it will stand in the way of being able to afford a house, have kids, etc. (Not that you’ve said anything of the kind yourself, but I’ve often had to correct incorrect assumptions about this, mostly from Americans who have moved to my country. I see that you’re Canadian, though, so hopefully this is all just old news to you! To all others interested in similar work, the following is both my personal experience and also what is required by the law of my country).

      I had my own tutoring business for a number of years and was able to prove my income when buying a house precisely because I had contracts–even for private clients, reported all income, and charged a good rate for my services. What you have to offer as a certified teacher is valuable, and there is plenty of room for you to charge decent rates, particularly if you are travelling to people’s homes (many European countries have a way to subsidize workers you bring to your own home; in mine, the private employer ends up getting back 50 percent of your fee as a tax break. But only if they can legally employ you, not when they undercut the social security system and pay you “on the black [market], as it’s called here).

      As far as children goes, I made enough money in each calendar year to be able to take a full, paid maternity leave and also get paid to “reduce” my hours in the three months leading up to childbirth. That’s a total of about 13,000 euros right there, all because I reported my income and paid my taxes. Plus, I receive a small, ongoing monthly stipend until my child is three. If I ever would have been unable to work because of long-term injury, I would have been able to claim that under the law and either receive disability status or retraining, all subsidized. Also, even if I had only made a very small amount (I believe less than 1,500 euros in the calendar year preceding the birth) I would still have been eligible for about half of what I received as the full payment. This, to me, far outweighs any perceived benefit of working illegally/not reporting all earned income.

      1. Specialk9

        What’s a full paid maternity leave in your world? I know someone who was back to work the same week, I took 3 months, my Canadian counterparts took a flippin year.

    6. Cedrus Libani

      I took a gap year after my PhD. I didn’t even really plan to; I was burned out, in no uncertain terms. But I got a chance to travel, and write, and read, and learn stuff that interested me. When the thought of applying for jobs in my field no longer made me want to hide under the bed, I put myself on the market.

      I was pretty surprised by how not-a-big-deal it was. Oh, you graduated a year ago? Yep, I went out and had my fun, now I’m back. I thought I’d get the third degree, but people accepted it basically without comment. Not sure it was just selection bias, either; there were definitely a few interviewers who hadn’t processed the dates until I pointed them out.

      If you’re going to do it, I would suggest having a plan. It’s amazing how life can expand to fill the days when you don’t plan. No regrets, exactly…but I definitely could’ve made better use of that time.

      (Disclaimer: I’ve got highly marketable skills, personal savings in the mid five figures, and a partner who could easily support us both if needed. Adjust your risk tolerance as necessary.)

  8. Fabulous

    I have the next 10 days off work. This includes holidays and the weekends, but it’s the longest time I’ve had off in a long time, so woohoo!

      1. Bostonian

        Ditto. I’m justifying my slack-off-ishness with the fact that I still have one unused vacation day…

    1. esra (also a Canadian)

      Ugh same. I have a list of things I want to get done, but also my sofa and Murder, She Wrote streaming exists soooooooo

      1. Atlantic Toast Conference

        Uh, random interjection here, but what service are you using to stream Murder She Wrote? I haven’t been able to get my fix since it left Netflix last year!

    2. Purplesaurus

      Me too! And I’m almost the only one in the office today, so even being at work right now is pretty nice.

    3. JD

      Me too! Only to find out I need to change my entire accounting system in my company I co-own before the new year. Insert angry face. Sigh, at least that is mindless work I can do in front of the tv.

    4. sheworkshardforthemoney

      Me too! For the first time in years I have 2 weeks off. It’s a university so I don’t have to think about work until 2018. :) First thing: Netflix and pajamas!

    5. periwinkle

      Our break started today! I got home from work yesterday, feeling energized enough to cross a bunch of to-do list items off. Will I keep up the momentum? Probably not. Since I had to use up a lot of vacation time for not-fun reasons, this is my first relaxation-oriented time off since the last winter break. I’m not inclined to spend this time vacuuming…

      (on the other hand, ugh, I really need to vacuum)

    6. Overeducated

      Me too! Today through Jan. 1. It’s the longest break I’ve had since starting my job a year and a half ago.

      Going to spend it on a merry go round of visiting four different homes of relatives though! Maybe next year if we’re both in new jobs like we’re hoping, we can plead “not much leave” and relax at home…

    7. Rainy

      I took off almost 2 weeks, starting yesterday, and promptly got sick. :( I’m on the sofa in jammies watching House Hunters while my fiance makes me spicy loco moco for lunch.

    8. Sparkly Librarian

      Me too! 11 days, even! This may be the first time in my working life that I’ve had a full week of vacation.

  9. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)

    Last month I emailed a former boss with a general social update and also asking him if he’d be willing to be a reference for me. No response. I’m going in to that ex-job sometime soon (it’s a nonprofit and we’re donating), and there’s a good chance that I’ll see ex-boss there. I don’t *think* he’s being a jerk to me because he always seemed to really like me and was happy for me when I left (for school)–maybe I somehow wound up in his spam folder? Is it okay to ask him again or mention my email or anything? If so, any scripts for what to say would be very much appreciated. I really really really need another reference.

      1. AshK434

        Read receipts are annoying and seem passive aggressive to me. I’m bad with scripts but if you see him when you go into the old job, I would casually mention your job hunt and then just ask if he’d be willing to act as a reference.

      2. Jadelyn

        Please don’t use a read receipt – that just screams “I don’t trust you and I think you’re ignoring me, so I’m trying to force you to respond and/or document that you didn’t respond.”

        Just mention it to him casually that you’re job searching and ask if he got your email directly – much cleaner and less passive-aggressive than using a read receipt.

    1. Adlib

      I think it would be fine to bring it up if you’re chatting with him already. People sometimes forget to answer emails, especially if they get busy. I don’t really have any scripts, but you could just ask him if he got the email if, as you said, it got lost. That way, the same question will bring it up in his mind if he did read it so he can let you know an answer one way or the other.

    2. Master Bean Counter

      You’re over thinking.
      “Hey old boss, I’m looking at some new positions, can I still count on you for a reference?”
      Then go on to catch up on other things.

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)

        No still–I left the job recently, and he’s never agreed to be a reference. (I suspect he would be happy to be a reference, but I didn’t ask him before I left and he never replied to my email.)

    3. Lumen

      Definitely ask! What’s the worst that could happen? He cringes awkwardly because he doesn’t want to give you a reference? (In which case: it was rude of him to ignore your email rather than just saying so.)

      That’s also probably UNLIKELY. So bring it up, and discover that he just lost it in his spam folder, or has been really busy, or isn’t sure what to write. Or… he didn’t notice the request for a reference amidst the social update.

  10. Sunflower

    I’ve been at my new job for 6 months. Everything is going well, my supervisors have trained me well and are very open when I have questions, and seem supportive for development. The issue is something I realized with higher ups at the holiday party and other social events. They are all sort of catty in a cruel way. They spent time gossiping at these events, and it is beyond normal work gossip. It is like, going after people for their appearance, including people below them. I assume they talk about about me this way if they talk about others this way. They are also weirdly adverse to anything ‘awkward’ and complain a lot of an interaction was awkward or event. (I think that life and work are just awkward and roll with it). I usually ignore and don’t add to the conversation. I’m not sure what to think about this, mostly because I like my job otherwise. When they are in work mode everything is fine, but I can’t help but wonder if this will negatively impact me. I think they are good managers but crappy people? What does everyone else think?

    1. Ann O'Nemity

      I think that sort of thing does end up impacting the work, even if it’s indirect. How in the world could employees feel valued and respected if they overhear management making fun of other employees?

      1. Specialk9

        Oh yeah. Every one of my good managers has treated people with respect. It’s really not possible to be fair or empowering without respect.

    2. Adlib

      This does not make them good managers either, to be honest. That’s seriously unprofessional no matter what. I’ve heard of managers doing this in situations I’ve seen, and it seriously cuts down on morale. So yes, I think it will eventually impact you if it hasn’t already. I mean, how can they hold opinions on others like that and then not let it affect their treatment of employees? Not okay.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Your supervisors are okay but the higher ups are not? I hope I am reading this right. Upper management needs to show stability and sure-footedness. I agree you may have a problem. Give it six more months, see how things develop. Watch who leaves, this might tell you a lot or it might tell you nothing.

      Just my belief based on what I have seen, I believe that good people can be crappy managers, but very seldom do crappy people become good managers. Managers have to have something at their core, a moral compass, a sense of purpose, or a sense of responsibility to the people below them. Scorning, ridiculing, and nitpicking are core symptoms that can leach over into how they manage people. If you haven’t got some kind of core guide in place, you cannot fake having that guide for very long. It seeps into your work and how you carry yourself at work.

    4. Marthooh

      Are the catty higher-ups mostly about the same age? Maybe they were all impressionable twenty-somethings back when “Awk-ward!” was the cool buzzword. And maybe they’ve never quite grown up.

    5. Engineer Girl

      Crappy people are always bad managers. You just haven’t annoyed them enough yet to be targeted by their malice.

  11. Matilda Jefferies

    Just wanted to send a shout-out to everyone whose work doesn’t slow down at this time of year. Emergency services, health care, transportation, retail, and anyone else who keeps us healthy and safe, or helps us get ready for the holidays. Thanks for all you do!

    1. Goya de la Mancha

      +1

      And to their families who celebrate the holidays different because of their schedules (maybe “Santa” comes on the 26th in their house).

    2. Mazzy

      Ha ha I’m in financial role and never have downtimes and I have lots of bored people in the office that I’m fighting off today. I don’t have time for chit chat! Just letting a huge report run now that’s my break

      1. Matilda Jefferies

        Yep, me too. My work involves bugging other people to do admin work – which means that most of them wait until it slows down for them at year end, and then it all gets dumped on my desk at the last possible minute!

        I always feel a bit sorry for myself as things heat up for me just as they’re cooling down for everyone else, but then I remember that there are people out there saving lives and such, who probably don’t feel a lot of sympathy for my paperwork. :)

      2. NW Mossy

        I manage a team of financial services analysts who are scrambling to do all those “have to post by the end of the calendar year!” activities, right as the requesters of said activities are heading out the door for the holidays. It’s definitely hard when work and personal busy seasons collide!

      3. knitcrazybooknut

        Yep, payroll over here. Year end can bite me. And everyone’s always saying, oh, it’ll slow down and you can take a break! HA HA HA FOREVER argh. So many system updates, new files for benefits starting 1/1, new rates to enter, audit reports, minimum wage changes. Plus holidays make for tight payroll deadlines.

        But I’m always thinking of EMTs, police officers, hospital employees, 9-1-1 dispatchers, and anyone else in danger of getting more injury than a paper cut. I appreciate them more than I can say.

    3. anon24

      And UPS, USPS, and Fedex employees, who work long hours to ensure that socially anxious people like me can get their Christmas shopping done without having to leave their homes! They are my heroes this holiday season!

      1. FedEx Holiday Widow

        As the (newish… this is our first holiday season together) spouse of FedEx Express employee, Christmas has taken on new meaning: really early starts, really late nights, long drives to meet my wife for her half hour lunch break that she finally manages to take 11 hours after her day began and much more patience for any package to arrive than ever before :)

        Please make sure your house numbers are visible in the dark and thank you for helping to keep my wife and all the delivery people employed!

  12. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

    Receptionists/admins/assistants/front desk people: What kind of things to you keep on hand for emergencies? Not necessarily life or death emergencies, but more like “Do you have deodorant back there? I forgot mine.”

    1. DivineMissL

      These are the things that I’m frequently asked for:
      Tylenol/Advil
      Small screwdrivers (flat and phillips) – you’d be surprised how frequently these are needed
      White glue and hot glue gun
      Emery board
      Safety pins
      Hand sanitizer/baby wipes
      Band-aids
      Hand cream
      Plastic forks

      1. CG

        Agree with the above, and would add pepto tabs for stomachaches and napkins/Kleenex.

        I would be a bit squicked out if someone asked me for deodorant…

        1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

          I bought spray deodorant for a wedding, brought it to work for my own personal use, but it has been handy for other people as well! Stick deodorant is not really shareable.

        2. Ann Furthermore

          LOL. A couple weeks ago I traveled to a client site to do some training for them, and on the first morning I realized I’d gotten away from home without any deodorant. The hotel did not have a gift shop, and I didn’t have time to try and find a CVS or something before I had to be at the office, so I had to risk it. Thankfully since it was December, and chilly, I made it through the day OK (although I did take a few extra bathroom breaks to run to the ladies room to give myself a sniff test).

          Anyway, the person I was working with there was showing me around, and stopped into the “market” on our way back up to her desk. It’s a secured area that’s basically a little convenience store with snacks, drinks, personal items, batteries, etc, with a self-checkout machine to pay for your items. We were chatting and she said she’d forgotten to put on deodorant one morning, and was so glad to be able to run down there and buy some. I was seriously considering grabbing some for myself, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it with the client right there. As soon as we were done for the day I high-tailed it to the drug store.

          OP, you could get some single-application deodorant wipes to keep in your emergency stash, and someday, you would probably be someone’s personal hero. It would be weird and gross to just have a community deodorant for people to use (OMG, the mental picture of that is making me laugh and recoil at the same time) but you could discreetly hand someone a deodorant wipe and direct them to the restroom.

          1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

            I didn’t even know deodorant wipes were a thing! Also didn’t know about Dust Bunny’s hand-sanitizer-as-deodorant life hack. Thank you for the tips!

          2. Specialk9

            Trick of the trade, hand sanitizer under your arms (on the skin or also on the clothes depending on level of smell). It kills the stink germs and most brands have mild scent. It isn’t antiperspirant but kills BO in the short run.

            Also keep an eye out for baking powder or baby powder.

            1. Marthooh

              Somebody (Phyllis Diller maybe?) once recommended sticking a bay leaf under each arm if you run out of deodorant. You’ll still smell, but like soup instead of sweat.

      2. Kimberlee, Esq.

        I would add nail clippers to the list! Additionally, scissors (for some reason, at my office, scissors are ALWAYS getting taken and we’re always short on them) and Sharpies. Oh, and a non-NSAID painkiller is good to have on hand; some people can’t take NSAIDS at all so some diversity of painkiller is nice. Also, some generic Claratin and/or Benedryl, for allergy sufferers. Floss, and if you’re feeling ambitious a spare (new, obvs) toothbrush and lil travel toothpaste. I keep paper plates on hand cause they get used up and some delivery places around here don’t include them on catering orders.

        Also, some ppl are balking at the idea of keeping deodorant, which I don’t understand at all. You can wipe it off! I have shared deo with co-workers and it was fine. I can understand if an individual doesn’t want to do that for themselves, but please don’t make that decision for others, some of us love having that emergency deo option! (plus, the first person who uses it will get to use it brand new, anyway).

        I have a friend who used to keep an emergency gin & tonic kit in her desk (some mini gin bottles with small tonic bottles and plastic cups). YMMV. :)

      3. nep

        I asked our office manager and another female colleague one day whether one of them had a panty liner or mini-pad. Office manager directed me to middle drawer on the right: Ziploc bag of all manner of feminine products — tampons, pads of all sizes…I think there was even a bottle of Midol in there.
        I always like to have a tweezers and eyeglass repair kit handy.

    2. Matilda Jefferies

      I think I would start by drawing a bright line between what’s part of your job and what isn’t. It’s too easy to get taken advantage of, if you’re the person who always has the ibuprofen and the bandages and the sewing kit to share!

      If you’re an EA, for example, and part of your job includes making sure that your boss is physically presentable for meetings and so on, then maybe a small sewing kit (with safety pins), a lint brush, and a Tide to Go pen or similar. Deodorant feels a bit personal for me, but YMMV depending on your job.

      But if you’re a receptionist, it’s probably more of a “nice to have” than a “need to have,” and you could stock only what you need for yourself. At my desk, I have deodorant (just for me!), toothbrush & toothpaste, some emergency tampons, ibuprofen, and a nail file. I will definitely give someone a tampon or some Advil if they need it, but I would bristle a bit at the suggestion that it’s expected of me. So I would really suggest you find out what the actual expectations are, and go from there. Good luck!

    3. Dust Bunny

      You can deodorize your pits in a pinch with hand sanitizer.

      Otherwise . . . I don’t. There are band-aids, tweezers, etc. in the first aid kits and my assistant duties don’t extend to personal grooming (exception: I give a woman a sanitary pad out of my personal stash because that’s pretty much the worst kind of being caught up short). I can direct you to the nearest grocery or drug store if you’re desperate. For the most part, though, all my stuff is office supplies, and even those are mostly on the supply shelves where anyone can get them.

      1. Dust Bunny

        Tools are also on the supply shelves. There are some utensils in the kitchenette or break room. We’re not supposed to use hand cream (handling antique documents). I *sometimes* have ibuprofen and will give you one if you’re an established coworker, but it’s out of my own purse, and if you keep asking I’ll tell you I’m out and you need to go buy your own.

    4. Fabulous

      A link in my necklace broke recently at work and couldn’t find a pair of needle nose pliers to fix it. So add that to your list too!

    5. Ann O'Nemity

      My company recently started putting hospitality baskets in the restrooms and it’s so awesome. I can’t imagine it costs much to stock these, but our employees have been really grateful.

        1. Ann O'Nemity

          The women’s restroom baskets have feminine products, hairspray, spray deodorant, hair ties and clips, body spray, lotion, and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting. I know the men’s room has baskets too but I’m not sure what’s in there.

    6. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

      Even though I don’t need them anymore, sanitary products. It’s surprising how often someone has an emergency and no stock on hand.

    7. Ann Furthermore

      Feminine hygiene items would be a lifesaver for someone who really needed them. Nothing like rooting around in your purse trying to find change for the machines in the ladies room and realizing you don’t have any! Been there. And tweezers.

    8. Morning Glory

      I am not sure whether you were thinking of this or not – but do not pay for any of this with your own money.

      Some extra supplies that I keep on hand that the organization pays for:
      -Tissues
      -Cough drops
      -Napkins/plasticware/paper cups
      -Small notepads
      -Extra staples
      -Post-it notes
      -Band-Aids/first aid kit

    9. Mary (in PA)

      All of these, plus cough drops and dental floss picks. I call it “The Drawer of Personal Emergency.”

    10. Cereal killer

      Dental floss. Always a nightmare when you are heading into a meeting with some thing stuck in your teeth and no way to get it out!

    11. DaniCalifornia

      A change of clothes in my car. Not my most expensive outfit, but a full change of office clothes (maybe something I don’t wear often) but a FULL change. In case of spills or rain or just a bad accident. Going home is feasible to me but if I can avoid it or sitting in some kind of wet clothes I will.

      Old towels. I don’t know how many times old towels have saved the day from accidentally flooding or a huge spill that paper towels just wont do it for. And a huge garbage bag to bag it up so it won’t keep the office or my trunk smelly.

      Nail clippers because I always break my nails. Lotion, some pain reliever, one quick makeup kit if needed (I normally don’t wear makeup to work but if I needed to meet a client unexpectedly)

  13. Mr. Demeanor

    This is just a very, very, very minor question that I would never bother Allison about but just wanted to put out there. Is it considered bad form not to put anything in the subject line when sending emails or does it just not really matter? More and more I am seeing emails from all levels of my organization where they are leaving it blank. When I respond I do populate it but that is partially for my own reference and partially because I hate not having anything in the subject line.

    Happy Holidays!

    1. Anony McAnonface

      I don’t know if it’s bad form or not, but it sounds like an organizational nightmare. Subject lines are great references and leaving them blank is strange. I’d populate them too.

    2. Roman Holiday

      I don’t think it’s a major faux pas, but it could definitely look unprofessional. My corporate email will prompt you to enter a subject if you try to leave it blank, and although you can bypass it, most people choose to enter a subject. The trend I’m seeing more and more of is people only using the subject line to communicate something simple (eg Donuts in the Kitchen, or Delivery at the front desk), which seems like a good time saver, as long as no one minds the informality (I certainly don’t).

    3. Adlib

      I know people (managers) in my company who write entire sentences in subject lines, so it’s pretty much the opposite of what you experience. Yes, I think emails should have subject lines even if people can’t think of what to put in there. You can always put SOMETHING there.

    4. Lynca

      I think it’s bad form and it drives me up a wall. Reference is the main reason why I find it important because if it doesn’t have a title how do I know which project this is about, what problem they’re telling me about, etc.

      I’ve read ones where I couldn’t gauge what was going on because I didn’t know what project it is. And that leads to more wasted time back and forth figuring it out. When a simple header of RE: Issue Y on Project X would have let me know where to look for the resolution when I got the first email!

    5. Tara

      I’ve not run into this, but it would annoy the crap out of me. It ruins any chance of threading emails. From most higher-ups I don’t expect a fully formed subject line, but even a word like “Update” or “New Budget” would be better than nothing. (Although of course I’d rather have more – e.g. “Project A New Budget 12222017.”)

      1. Ramona Flowers

        +1. I consider it very poor form.

        However if you use Outlook you can edit emails and add your own subject line!

    6. Kelly L.

      The only time I don’t is when the person already knows it’s coming and what it is. So if my boss goes “Hey, can you send me the XYZ spreadsheet real quick,” I might just send an email to him with the XYZ spreadsheet and nothing else. He already knows what’s in there. But I won’t do that if we didn’t literally just discuss it a few minutes ago.

      1. LQ

        Yeah, this is the only time I’ve used it/had it used on me and not been bothered.

        Otherwise if it’s just a quick thing our culture is more you just put what you want in the subject line, which…I’ve grown to be fine with.

        I don’t even have to open it if the request is short enough to fit into a subject of an email (and often it’s “call me” or “come help in x room!” or whatever so I’ll just do that rather than opening it and reading it).

    7. Shiara

      Your company is doing it wrong. It is well known that the correct subject line for all occasions is “help” with varied amounts of punctuation based on urgency.

      *glares at her inbox*

      More seriously though, I would consider it bad form to leave subject lines blank (or even just really generic), but it’s also not great to change the subject line with every reply although if the topic has drifted doing it once (and trimming the reply list) is helpful.

    8. KarenT

      I categorize it as a minor annoyance. I find it irksome, but at the end of the day doesn’t really matter.

    9. Ann O'Nemity

      I totally think it’s bad form to leave the subject line blank! It’s forgivable if it’s a once in a blue moon mistake on an internal email, but it’s a coaching moment if it happens frequently or on external emails.

    10. ArtK

      I have *never*, in a very long career, had someone send an e-mail without a subject line. If someone did it would be very startling. I use the subject line to prioritize things and, if I have to open the e-mail to figure out what it’s about, I’m going to put it at the back of the queue.

    11. LCL

      It’s considered unprofessional here because you are wasting someone else’s time. They have to open the email to figure out what it’s about.

    12. Kimberlee, Esq.

      I HATE THIS SO MUCH THE SUBJECT IS HOW YOU DECIDE IF YOU WANT TO READ THE EMAIL AND/OR HOW YOU ORGANIZE YOUR EMAIL THIS IS MONSTROUS

      1. Jillociraptor

        This was 100% my reaction! WHY WOULD YOU NOT PUT A SUBJECT!

        Occasionally, this happens when someone is shooting off a quick email from their phone. I get it if it’s something like that. But as a general practice? NOOOOOO.

    13. Jules the Third

      I… can’t imagine. I’ve seen one in the last year (100+ emails / day) that didn’t have a subject, and it was so jarring. (Fortune 100 tech company interacting primarily with fortune 500 vendors)

      Emails are your headlines, a chance to catch attention and get focus. Use this power wisely.

    14. nep

      For me subject lines are really important. Can be a big time-saver. I don’t know about bad form — but certainly not very efficient to go without.
      Something some of my colleagues do that is not a good idea: Using someone’s email to multiple people to send a mail to the same group, and not changing subject line. So I’ll get a mail that has a subject line of “Fwd: Sub needed 14 October 7pm” — but the body of the mail is about a sub needed for an entirely different date/time, or a different issue altogether.

    15. Chaordic One

      On the one hand, it certainly is bad form to leave it blank and it really is helpful to put something about what the content of the email is in the subject line. I find that emails with blank subject lines often get sent into the spam folder.

      OTOH, please DO NOT just write “URGENT” in the subject line. Very rarely are the contents of email actually urgent and you risk coming off like Chicken Little to whomever you’ve sent the email to.

  14. hermit crab

    Anyone want to share something good that happened at work this week?

    I’ll start: As happens from time to time, my colleague and I had an unpleasant interaction with a client (via phone). The client was downright nasty to us for no reason. (Stay with me, the story gets better.) Our senior manager was also on the call, and he totally had our back in the moment, and told us afterwards that we handled it well and shouldn’t have done anything differently. It felt really validating!

    1. Ms. Meow

      I’ve been in my job for over 2 years, but am just now feeling like I have my feet underneath me. I led a discussion in a meeting laying out our systems for higher-ups in the company that acquired my business unit. I was feeling pretty okay about how it went. One of my coworkers stopped by the next day and said “Holy cow! You did a great job yesterday! None of the rest of us could have done a better job! Way to go!” and high-fived me (he’s just that kind of guy). It made me feel really good because it’s proof that I do know what I’m talking about. Validation!

      1. hermit crab

        Awesome! Way to go, indeed! I personally think that the high-five is underutilized at work (between consenting high-fivers, of course).

    2. anon to brag a little

      That’s awesome! I love good manager stories, we hear too many crazy ones.

      Overall I’d say from a personal standpoint I’ve had a really crappy week BUT at work my boss announced their retirement and shared with the department staff that I am THE succession plan for taking over her role. I had no idea they were announcing it. I’ve had a few other random people from other departments comment on how much they enjoy working with me this week, too. I realized when it comes to career this is the first time I have felt respected, liked, empowered and like I am making an impact in a very long time (well, since Feb 2009 when I got laid off).

      So as long as I don’t get laid off like last time, I think I am in a really really good place for awhile!

    3. Nervous Accountant

      Nothing particularly stands out but I had a nice convo w my boss. I’m on good terms w my manager, so that itself is pretty nice.

    4. Mimmy

      Not sure if this counts, but one of my students told someone (in my presence) I was one of his favorite people.

    5. Free Meerkats

      We had our annual audit by the new state guy (I’ve been here for 26 years and we had the same regulator the whole time).

      It went great! We knew our stuff was in good shape, but had almost no interaction with the new guy in the last year, so he was an unknown. So we weren’t sure how the inspection would go.

    6. Curious Cat

      Had my very first performance review w/ my boss since starting my first job in June. I went in freaking out and worrying that she would nitpick everything I’d done and that they regretted hiring me…turns out I was just freaking myself out! Got great feedback and found that they love having me on the team as much as I love being there!! (also got a little raise, unexpected but much appreciated!) Sometimes a little validation that you’re doing OK is nice :)

    7. Teal Green

      One of my coworkers, Fergus, said something sexist in a meeting this week. Jane and I were the only female employees in the room and just kind of rolled our eyes at it and were prepared to just ignore it (very male-dominant industry) but I was pleasantly surprised that one of the senior employees, Wakeen, pushed back at the comment right there in the meeting. Wakeen also told me that he’s going to address the comment and a few other similar things he’s noticed directly with Fergus. We don’t want to go to HR if Wakeen telling Fergus to knock it off takes care of it but Wakeen volunteered that HR would be his next step if it continues.

      It means a lot to see dudes calling out other dudes on this type of behavior, especially when it’s not because of me or Jane having to point it out to someone.

    8. grace

      I – unexpectedly – got a raise yesterday. Unexpected because, despite a glowing review, I’ve only been here 7 months… :-) Merry Christmas to me!

    9. Ramona Flowers

      The CEO walked round the entire offices today handing out chocolates and personally wishing every single person a good holiday break. By name. Without sounding like a robot who’d said this to 30 people on my floor before he even reached my desk.

    10. Windchime

      I had a conversation with one of my favorite end users and she mentioned how much she loved our team, but that she particularly loves working with me because of reasons x, y, and z. It made me feel so good. I meant to mention it to my boss (because she also complimented my boss). I’ll try to remember to tell her next week because it’s so nice to hear a compliment for our entire team.

    11. Middle School Teacher

      We took our jr high (around 280 kids) on a field trip and they were GREAT. Absolutely zero problems with them. Considering it was the last day of school and the whole last week has been bonkers, I was so impressed with them. It made the last day really positive.

      1. ..Kat..

        I really admire teachers. I couldn’t handle a classroom full of kids! But, some of the most important people in my life have been teachers.

    12. The Grammarian

      My supervisor and colleagues told me this week that I was a very valuable member of the team. It made me feel good, especially since as a person with degrees in English, I’ve spent my life hearing about how useless my skills are. Knowing that I am valued at work is a great Christmas present! Plus, my husband was promoted this week, so he also knows he is valuable to his workplace!

  15. drpuma

    For Christmas this year, my (female) boss gave (female) me a bracelet that says TRUST THE JOURNEY. We are both relatively new to the company; she hit her year a month or so ago and I’ll hit my year next month. My (female) coworker in our department also got a bracelet with more generic platitudes (along the lines of LIVE LOVE LAUGH). My coworker and I agree that she gives our boss much more pushback than I do.
    Anybody else wondering if there is some kind of hidden message in their holiday gift from their boss?

      1. Adelyade83

        If there is a message your boss wants to send she should tell you not hide it in gifts. I would just enjoy the gift and take it at face value.

    1. Lady Jaina

      Those kind of “sayings” jewelry have been A Thing for a few years now in my area. I think they are silly and harmless. I am on the No Hidden Message side.

    2. Boredatwork

      I wouldn’t read too much into it. She probably put some thought into it but not in a mean-spirited kind of way. I think giving jewelry to a subordinate is oddly personal from a professional standpoint but I’m sure she meant it as a nice gesture.

    3. Pollygrammer

      A boss once gave me a mug that said “Do What You Love…Love What You Do.” I’m pretty sure she probably knew I wasn’t happy with the (horrible) job, and I’ve always wondered if she was A) mocking me or B) trying to hint that I should quit.

    4. periwinkle

      If it’s available as a framed print at Wayfair, it’s a generic encouraging platitude. Don’t read anything into it.

    5. Lissa

      I doubt there’s a hidden message, and if there *is*, a good chance you’re not going to correctly pick up on what it was. With a platitude this generic who knows what she might’ve meant, or what meaning she infused, so trying to figure out what it is is just as likely to backfire.

      To be honest, I can’t figure out what those would mean in relation to your comment about pushback!

    6. Not So NewReader

      If there is any hidden message at all, I think it’s a message of encouragement. You both got messages of encouragement, she did not want to give you guys the identical gift. Personally, I kind of like the message trust the journey. In my life quite a few things have not made sense initially. Later on, I was able to piece things together in a logical manner. There is a rhythm to life, a back and a forth. If today/this week is not so hot, maybe tomorrow or next week will be better.

  16. Murphy

    So a manager (not in my reporting line) just told me that the #2 in our office (the head of my sub-unit, and sort of my grandboss, who is also not here today) says that unofficially, we can all leave at 3pm. Which is great and I’m definitely not busy, but I have to clock in and clock out, so…I’m not sure how to handle that hours-wise…

    1. INeedANap

      I always wonder about this too! My boss, who is salaried, will occasionally offer for us to leave early, but the tone and context of the offer makes it seem like a “perk”. But I’m hourly, so I of course have to use my leave time.

      I think the idea is that if you want to leave early just for the heck of it, and if you’re willing to lose hours/use leave, you’re welcome to do so. Whereas on a normal workday, the assumption is you’re not leaving early just for the heck of it, but only when it’s necessary for an appointment or whatever.

    2. Dust Bunny

      My employer does this as a policy: The day before a major holiday is always a half-day for everyone who can be spared. But they also give us an official “gift of time” and it shows up on our timecards.

      Is your own manager approachable? I’d just go to her/him and ask if this is true and, if so, how to handle it.

      1. Murphy

        He’s also not in today, haha. A ton of people take off this week, or at least the later half of the week.

        I’m salaried, so they won’t dock my pay, but they could dock my leave time. And it feels wrong to leave at 3 and say that I stayed til my normal time.

        1. Specialk9

          Those unofficial things are tricky, because you’re left holding the bag if something goes down. I’ve had it at most of my jobs though, so it’s common. You might document that it’s an instruction from a manager, by emailing yourself the facts (today at the 12 pm staff meeting, X told everyone Y, also present were Z and Q and they did not object). But I wouldn’t worry too much.

    3. Mints

      I’d ask the person that told you what time they’re clocking out. It’s possible (likely) they’d gift you the two hours and you can clock out at your normal later time. I’m assuming a virtual timekeeping though where you can set it for a future time

      1. Murphy

        He’s exempt, so he doesn’t have to clock out. I can clock out with phone from anywhere, but it feels weird to leave and then clock out an hour or two later.

        1. Mints

          Oh, I’d probably do it anyway. Or maybe do it and send an email to one of the higher ups to feel less guilty? Maybe vague enough to keep the “unofficial” like “Wrapped up (thing). Merry Christmas!”

      1. Murphy

        Yes, he can also just approve my time at less than 40 hours, but since he’s not here, I’d have to email him to explain.

    4. Becky

      My job sends out an official announcement saying you can leave 2 hours early the day before the holiday. However, we don’t have a timeclock where we punch-in/punch-out and we are told to handle it by logging a regular 8 hours but leaving at your 6 hour mark.

    5. Murphy

      Haha, it’s almost 3. That manager and HR just made the rounds, so I asked and HR told me they’d clock me out. Woo!

    6. Windchime

      My manager usually lefts us work a 4-hour day on the Friday before a holiday weekend. It’s helpful that we also all work at home on Fridays, so that means we get to sleep in (no commute!) *and* log off early.

  17. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    I have a coworker who doesn’t wash her hands after using the bathroom! Just…yuck! Then again, she uses a mobility scooter and can only walk a bit- the sink is not low enough for her. Which is a problem.

    Grossness aside, she’s quite overweight and I don’t want other people to think, because of her, that fat = gross, or for her to reinforce the stereotype. Hand sanitizer, people!

    1. fposte

      I think the problem here isn’t what people might think of the overweight, it’s that you have somebody who can’t stand at a sink and your management hasn’t done anything about it. Can you point out to TPTB that there should be one bathroom with a wheelchair-level sink?

    2. Red Reader

      I am side-eyeing your judgement of this lady, who is unable *because of her disability* to use the restroom sink (and also OMG FAT which adds absolutely nothing to the rest of the “story”). Maybe she’s going back to her desk when she finishes and using hand sanitizer there to minimize the amount of time her scooter is taking up space in the bathroom.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer

        I see your point, but it’s honestly a worry because other people are judging and making fun of her. Separate issue. I might have unconscious bias, that’s always a consideration.

        1. Red Reader

          In that case, your personnel issue is less that your coworker is *unable because of her disability to use the restroom facilities appropriately* and more that your other coworkers are jerks. Your real work problem here is that apparently the ownership of your building/office is not ensuring that all staff have appropriate physical access to sinks they can use in the restrooms.

          However, your presentation of the issue as OMG SHE’S SO GROSS SHE DOESN’T WASH HER HANDS (because she can’t) AND DID I MENTION SHE’S FAT AND I THINK PEOPLE MAKE FUN OF HER BECAUSE SHE’S FAT AND GROSS (because she can’t access the sink because disability) SHOCK AND HAND-WRINGING is really not a good look for you.

        2. fposte

          Then tell the people judging her and making fun of her to stop that crap and to help you present the need for an accessible sink to management. The problem here isn’t the disabled person.

    3. HollyBo

      Was your question “Am I a jerk for judging my coworker for being fat but trying to make it seem like I’m actually concerned about bad stereotypes of fat people?”, the answer is “yes, yes you are”.

    4. Anony

      I don’t see why her weight is relevant. Your company should either be providing hand sanitizer or a handicapped accessible sink. The problem seems to be the company/building more than the coworker.

    5. Temperance

      There are a bunch of different issues at play here. Yes, it’s nasty to use the facilities and not wash your hands and/or sanitize. I don’t think most people are going to think “fat people don’t wash their hands”, but they’re going to think “Barb doesn’t wash her hands and that’s nasty”.

    6. Amtelope

      So, the huge problem here is that your work isn’t providing adequate accessible bathroom facilities for someone who’s disabled. Advocating for them to fix that would be a very good idea.

    7. Tell Me About It

      Hand sanitizer isn’t really a good option for after the bathroom because lots of gastrointestinal bugs aren’t killed by hand sanitizer. Also, if you have urine or stool on your hands, hand sanitizer won’t fix that. So, OP, I feel for you. That’s super gross. If she can stand to get on/off her scooter (which she just did, for the toilet) she can stand to wash her hands. And if she is using hand sanitizer, waiting until her desk is useless because she’s touched a bunch of stuff by that point.

      TLDR: people need to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after they use the restroom. Full stop.

  18. Maybe PT Library work?

    I work full time in the teapot industry, but for various reasons stumbled across two PT library positions — one as a Page and the other as a Library Clerk. I have no inclination of making either of those a FT pursuit; this would just be for extra money. However, since most of my resume is heavily geared towards teapotting with minimal skills overlap with library work (yes, some customer service skills, but generally I’m grossly overqualified for a job that only asks for a 16 yr old with a GED), how do I position myself for a job when I already work FT? Or do I even try knowing that I could only work nights/weekends?

    1. MaryPoppins

      Libraries would probably love someone who wants to work nights and weekends. Also, if they’re offering part time

      1. MaryPoppins

        Well that didn’t post right.

        Libraries would probably looove someone who wants to work nights and weekends. Also, lots of library people apply for part time hoping they can get full time. This library might appreciate that you actually want THIS job.

        Also, if it’s a public library, customer service is so much of the job. I managed a circulation department and hired a lot of part time students. I looked for resumes with customer service experience and a willingness to learn.

    2. Anony

      What do you have to lose by applying? Be upfront that you only want nights/weekends and don’t want to go full time. You may be exactly what they are looking for or those may be deal breakers. Only one way to find out.

    3. Dust Bunny

      Just apply. Those positions shouldn’t require a lot of library-specific background.

      (I work in a library. Before this, I was a veterinary assistant.)

    4. Maybe PT Library work?

      You all have valid points. I just feel off kilter since I work in something completely unrelated and interface with my screens most of the type and have conference calls in which I try to negotiate and explain to TPTB why this one spout is the best spout and their idea of a spout is really not a spout, it’s a horn.

    5. Tara

      If you’re up front with them that this is a side-gig for you, for those kind of positions I think they would be fine with it. Most librarians I’ve interviews with for positions like Shelver or Clerk just wanted me to be realistic about the limited hours/pay. If you let them know you’re ok with it, should be fine!

    6. circus peanuts

      What skills can you transfer from your industry? At my library, we like a variety of background and skills.

    7. Footiepjs

      When I was a page, I worked with someone who also did admin at the local university. She worked evenings and weekends and that’s the hardest to schedule sometimes.

      If I could make a living as a page, I would. Best job I had because it’s no stress and immediately satisfying. Emptying a cart is proof you accomplished something.

    8. barber's wife

      At the library where I work, the skills required for a page are basically be able to alphabetize and to lift a certain, relatively small, amount. Clerk only requires a high school diploma but you might face competition from people already in the system that know the policies. The only positions that require any kind of library experience are librarian positions.
      And Mary Poppins is right (above) we are always happy to get people that actually want the position and aren’t looking to move on and up right away.

    1. Higher Ed Database Dork

      Everything is fine! Life goes on. Stuff will get done, or it won’t, and that’s okay. Focus on resting and getting better!!!

    2. paul

      I had two family emergencies on non consecutive days this week and missed work unexpectedly; I’m giong to be paranoid for *months* about how it looked. I hear ya man, I’m repeating that same damn phrase.

    3. Montresaur

      Thank you for posting this; I needed to read it.

      My work schedule from Oct-Jan filled up unexpectedly, and while it’s been a good problem to have, the stress caught up with me this week and I got sick. Cue fret-fest about deadlines, perception of my reliability (I work remotely and don’t want to come across as making excuses), etc ad nauseum.

      It’s not forever, and it’s not my whole world. Life and careers will go on, and we’ll both be better off having taken care of our health. Hope you feel well soon!

    4. zora

      Me tooooo!!!! It has been so hard for me, every morning this week I went on autopilot and started getting ready for work before I remembered, “no, I’m not supposed to go in, I’m sick.” My boss and coworkers don’t want me there spreading my germs, my boss is super supportive of taking care of our health, and just asked me to contact people to help with things that had to be done this week. But still, it feels so weird to stay home, when I probably COULD make it to work if I really pushed myself. Years of working in jobs where staying home was not an option have really ingrained that in me.

      We are both supposed to stay home. Everything will be fine!!! ;)

      1. The Curator

        I’m trying to stay off of email and remember that all those deadlines are my own doing and that nobody really cares if there is a new posting on the new blog.

  19. Anom

    On another note, I’ve been thinking of getting into sales. Maybe software sales? I have no sales experience. Can I hear the good, bad and ugly from people who are in it now? My reasons for considering it are

    – I’m an extrovert and sales is supposedly a social job

    – the ability to travel and wine and dine clients on the company’s expense account

    – making commissions and controlling my own income

    – flexible schedule? I’d like to know this one. I’ve heard that sales people work crazy hours but what are they doing all that time? Is it researching new leads, or some sort of customer support? And does it depend on what you’re selling? I wouldn’t mind working crazy hours if I could take long vacations to get away from it all. Or is sales all “go go go” 365 days/year?

    1. Master Bean Counter

      I once had a software sales guy call me while he was on vacation in Norway. Because I needed a question answered and was on a deadline. So as far as I can tell, you’re never truly on vacation.

    2. Mints

      Just on the last question, flexible schedule – from what I’ve seen in construction/solar is that it depends a lot on the manager. There are some sales people who go on vacations to Europe for two weeks and the manager seemed prepped and could help answer questions, while there are other people who never really unplug and go on shorter/more local vacations. I think it’s both the manager working to ensure coverage for high performers, and the laidbackness of the sales rep letting someone take over completely.
      This is from someone in operations who works with sales reps laterally

    3. Fabulous

      I nearly got into mortgage sales years ago. Base pay was $56k guaranteed for 6 months or so while you got up and running, flexible hours and whatnot. What flexible hours in that role meant was you build your hours around your clients’ needs. Client needs to sign a paper at 10pm because he’s going out of town? Done! Client only has 6am meeting time available? Done! All your clients need to meet on Sunday and have absolutely no availability the rest of the week? Done! So, in reality it’s not so much flexible for YOU per se.

    4. AnonSales

      I did software sales for 3 years for a specialty industry. The software costs were between 20k for a small deployment to 1/4 Million. I had no previous sales experience. I was picked up to do this job because I had an in at the company and was a power user of the software (however, they added more software to my plate that I had to learn). I had 10 years in the niche industry to rely on for background knowledge and I was very familiar with the competitor software having used it for many years.
      I loved the social part of it – and I don’t really see myself as an extrovert. But, I really liked being out and about and seeing how different companies did things. I learned a ton getting to see so much variation.
      I did some travel. It was an international company so I did training in Europe. But most of my travel was to very boring places, just due to where the industry hubs were located. I did enjoy my expense account. My favorite was tickets to cool events- as long as I signed up and had a reasonable client to take, I could use the company suite at the sports/concert arena. I burned out pretty quick on travel because I had a family I didn’t love leaving behind. Luckily for me, the industry had a downturn and I didn’t have to do it much after the first 8 months.
      Flexible schedule – yes and no. I could work from home unless I had a client meeting. If I had a client meeting/sales demo – it didn’t feel flexible for emergencies. I think the only time I cancelled a client meeting was when my grandma died that morning and I left work to go be with my mom and help her. But it was flexible because I could say, “hey i can’t do next tuesday because i have an appointment, lets do Wednesday instead” and no one cared that the appointment was my kids school assembly or whatever. I don’t think I ever worked 40 full hours. when i wasn’t talking to clients, i was setting up my next appointments, researching companies, and some customer support for harder questions. I did stay very available to my blackberry to answer questions..even on vacations.
      The most stress for me was pressure from management to make more sales. I had sort of tapped my market already + the downturn when no one had money to buy.

      I wrote a book. Sorry. Hopefully it helps though.

    5. Bostonian

      My SO works in sales. It’s a retail environment, so there’s a physical product that people have to go to the store to buy (as opposed to acquiring clients to sell a service/software to), so keep that difference in mind. However, it is 100% commission-based salary, including bonuses for hitting certain milestones. People in the top 20% or so in sales are making 6 figures. Even people at the bottom are making at least $56k.

      I would say there’s more of a mental/emotional aspect of the job than you would think. You have to be really self-motivated and be able to handle negativity (partly from customers, but mostly from other sales people). There is a lot of stress over hitting sales goals (if you’re in the bottom, you’re on notice and could be let go; if you’re at the top, the sales managers expect a lot out of you).

      You’re right that there’s some work outside of working hours. It mostly entails emailing/calling customers when they have a question/issue OR meeting a customer in the store on a scheduled day off. It’s not required, but obviously the more you do this, the more business you have, and the more money you make. It also is a way to create a good business relationship with the customers so they’re likely to work with you again and/or refer their friends to you.

      I would say it’s not necessarily “go go go” 365 days/year, but there are patterns in busy times and you can plan your time off around that: making sure you put the time in when you know it will pay off and taking your vacations when you know it will be more slow. That’s where the flexibility comes in: you get to decide how much extra work you want to do and therefore can pretty much set your earnings.

    6. Let's Sidebar

      In my experience, my enjoyment of sales has been directly correlated to my sincere passion for the value of the product I am offering. To me, that is incredibly important. I love the social aspect of sales and connecting with clients to solve an actual existing need. Luckily I represent a product with a stellar reputation that I really believe is the best money can buy and I have no qualms about telling somebody when I think it may not be the match for their priorities. The passion makes it easy to work off hours and sort of be on call, as the thrill of the chase when you know it’s a perfect fit is pretty great. Response time (vs hours logged) is probably what leads to the idea of crazy hours because in so many cases being responsive increases your chances of landing a deal by A LOT. So yeah, maybe you could wait until Monday to respond, but if you really want to be successful you won’t.

  20. Ms. Meow

    I need guidance listing my job on my resume. My business unit was acquired by another company, but everything else is the same. It doesn’t make sense to list them separately because I’m still working on the same projects, and my accomplishments apply just as much now as they did before. I also want to keep the previous company on my resume for name recognition. Does it make sense to list it as:

    Tauntaun Keeper
    Dagobah Corporation (November 2017 – present)
    Previously with Hoth Industries (June 2014 – October 2017)
    * accomplishments
    * etc

    1. Sloane Kittering

      I’d say “Hoth Industries, acquired by Dagobah Industries” on line two, instead of Previously With, to make it clear that the org changed but you did not.

    2. lisalee

      I would say “formerly part of____” or “formerly a division of ____” instead of “previously with” because that makes me think you personally moved and not the division.

      1. Anony

        I would probably say “Dagobah Industries, formerly Hoth Industries” to put the focus on the current company name.

    3. CG

      I had similar and just did one listing (because I didn’t want to imply that my job itself changed):

      Dagobah Corporation, previously Hoth Industries (June 2014 – present)

  21. Sunshine Brite

    Such a stressful time of the year. My current line of work has a high risk of assault and regular verbal abuse and sometimes it just seems to add up. Haven’t been doing this long so I’m hoping not to burnout because we tend to snip at each other across job specialties sometimes when bad things happen

    1. Nines

      Is the risk assault of you by clients? I have had similar jobs and it can be really trying. Even when it’s usually really wonderful, a couple bad incidents can really weigh on employees. I know it’s easier send then done, but try and take care of yourself!

      1. Not So NewReader

        Any type of human service work seems to require excellent self care. These jobs can be very draining. Even with excellent self care it’s very difficult to stay in the job for a long period of time.

        If you are good at using humor, then you can try to look for times to put humor into a situation. My suggestion is to poke fun at something most people would laugh at such as a broken copier or printer. When in doubt do not crack the joke.

        You can also inject random acts of kindness. And you can get creative with that. Let’s say someone snips at you, perhaps you can see a path to ignore the tone of voice and be helpful, supportive anyway. This is random acts so it’s not a constant demand for kindness.

        If cohorts are being assaulted you can start the idea of using an informal buddy system, if you do not already have a buddy system in place. Be willing to back up others and ask them to do the same for you. This could be as basic as telephone check-ins if they are not on site. They miss their agreed call-in time you start pulling in more help. (I remember getting a reverse 911 call because the police officer outside of my work place was not answering their radio call. The 911 employee asked if I could see the officer and if the officer was still standing. The officer was still standing and engrossed in conversation.)

        On some days you may find it helpful to remind yourself that words are not punches to the gut, even if they feel like punches to the gut, words are not a physical attack. This one helped me to keep some situations in perspective.

        Last, if you feel the burnout starting it might be time to move along. Don’t wait until full blown burnout sets in, it is too hard to job hunt when there is nothing left of your mind/soul/heart.

  22. Teacher

    Question for those in preK-12 (especially private/independent schools) if you have a master’s degree or higher, do you include it on your email signature/business cards/whatever?

    1. Goya de la Mancha

      I’m not in the profession, but interact frequently with those who are. I have rarely ever seen it from teachers and most of the higher ups I’ve seen it from only happens when they have their doctorate.

    2. blackcat

      My experience is that I see PhD only (generally in the form of Dr. First Last) for teachers. School websites generally include everything (one of my former colleagues as an MA, MFA, PhD, and MAT. Dude was in grad school for like 12 years total. It’s comical to include them all, but the website shows them all).

      The exception is some people include specific licensure, eg special ed. I have seen counselors include degrees like MSW in their signatures, too and nurses include BSNs.

    3. Emalia

      I work at a public school and I don’t include my M.Ed in my signature. However, in certain situations, I’ll add it on to my signature. A master level classes are required for re certification in my state.

      In my last job at a education non-profit, I had it as part of my signature. I think I did it to signal I was an educator as opposed to a mba, which many people at my level were.

    4. Humble Schoolmarm

      Also very rare in my neck of the woods. I see in a little more often at the School Board level but still pretty uncommon.

    5. Llama Wrangler

      Never for most Masters unless they’re in counseling/social work, and someone is in a counseling-related role (and then only sometimes). Sometimes for PhDs and EdMs, but generally just for admin/leadership or people in non-profits (aka not teaching/staff roles in schools).

    6. Julianne

      I don’t. In my district, a Master’s is unofficially required for employment, and I think that contributes to a culture where teachers don’t list degrees in their email signatures. However, related service providers definitely do; for example, the speech-language pathologists who work with my students list their degrees and certifications, as do our social workers/counseling staff. My perception is that this is because degrees/specific certifications are more of a big deal in these fields, but that perception may not be accurate.

      1. WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot

        Agree. Even if it’s to point out that someone received a stellar performance review, it can still be awkward!

    1. Caro in the UK

      Yes! I’d be mortified if it was mine (good or bad) and I’d feel very awkward if it were a coworker’s

    2. Sam Foster

      Yes.

      Additionally, it sounds like the kind of thing that would be a violation of company policy.

      Regardless, terrible practice, morale crushing and just unfair to all involved.

  23. Sloane Kittering

    Ugh, I really need a pick me up this week. I found out I did *not* get an awesome new job that would have really changed my life (I would have been able to work from home, instead of being chained to my crappy cubicle in a fluorescent hell for 60 hours a week). We’re also down a staffperson at my current job, the person below me in seniority, which means all the admin minutiae is falling to me and my boss is dumping more and more stuff. It’s not his fault, it’s just bad timing but now I have a terrible attitude. I can’t believe at almost 35 with a masters degree I’m still literally tracking down and paying invoices instead of using my hard-won field specific knowledge.

    1. MaryPoppins

      I feel you on the I-Got-A-Master’s-Degree-For-This? Are you able to do any of your field-specific tasks or is that what you’re job searching for?

      1. Sloane Kittering

        I don’t have time to get to them because I’m stuck doing the tedious stuff that has to get done to keep the lights on. But I know it’s hurting me because it’s not the kind of work you get any credit for, and the more I’m seen as “Sloane, the one who knows how to generate that really tedious report” or “Sloane, the one who knows how to pay invoices” or “Sloane who knows the status of our subcontracts,” (all of which got dumped on me by my boss this week) the less people will think of me as a subject matter expert with great ideas.

        It doesn’t help that I used to have that less-senior position and was promoted out of it, so I’ll never shake that association in people’s minds. I’ve been job searching HARD and really thought this opportunity was going to be my ticket out of here. Now I’m stuck in ladyadmin hell for at least another few months.

        1. MaryPoppins

          Ooh yeah, moving into a more senior role at the same place can be tough. You never seem to fully shake the previous work/role and some people don’t take you as seriously. Good luck in your search, I hope it’s not too much longer!

  24. AnonAndOn

    Weekly unemployment support thread. How is your job search going? Need or want advice? Just want to vent?

    I called the temp agencies I’m with to check in for the week and they had nothing for me. I’m surprised there were no holiday fill-in jobs. In regard to the interview I had last week for a temp-to-perm job I was told that they may go with an internal candidate but they had no solid news and probably won’t know anything until after the new year.

    I applied to a couple more jobs this week, one of them being a federal government job. I realize that their hiring process takes forever, but they can be quick to reject (I’ve received rejections for some federal jobs two weeks after I applied to them).

    My financial setbacks due to unemployment are getting worse and I’m trying to keep a cool head, but it is hard. I nearly broke down yesterday. **I do not want advice and just wanted to post an update.**

    1. HollyBo

      I feel you – no advice coming from me because I have been in your shoes and it just plain sucks. I will tell you I was unemployed for 10 months and am over 50, which made me a real attractive candidate, let me tell ya! I *did* get a job though. It’s not perfect but no job is and I am managing its imperfections. It *will* happen for you too!

    2. atexit8

      I knew that this time of the year is slow for a job hunt.

      Of course, I cut down expenses like only having basic cable and the slowest internet speed with Comcast.
      Things like that.

      1. AnonAndOn

        I’ve cut expenses and continue to cut expenses. I had to surrender a pet (that was hard), I discontinued my Netflix account, I hardly go out anywhere and have become a near hermit. It’s rough.

        1. Anony McAnonface

          The hermiting part of unemployment is so rough. I don’t have anything useful to add, just that I’m sorry you’re in this position and I hope you find something awesome in the new year.

          1. AnonAndOn

            Thanks. I wasn’t a huge social butterfly when I was employed, but I did get out and do things. I miss having a life.

        2. Adlib

          Oh gosh, I’m so sorry about your pet. I’m hoping a new job will allow you to get it back or to give a new one some love. Best wishes for a new job in the new year!

          1. AnonAndOn

            Thanks. I did it a year ago (I’ve been out of consistent work for that long) and it still hurts. She’s now long with another home. I don’t plan on getting another pet. The risk of losing another one is just too hard.

    3. Sloane Kittering

      Aw I feel you. I think it’ll be better in January – people just aren’t willing to make decisions after the holidays.

    4. Anony McAnonface

      I just got told that my contract is not being renewed due to departmental restructuring and after 4 days of crying at home, I’m trying not to depression spiral at the thought of having to start job searching again. I’m giving myself until the new year to wallow and have my holiday and then I’ll start the horrorshow of job applications again. Mostly because there are no job postings right now, but also because I want to wallow damnit.

      1. Emalia

        I was laid off right before Thanksgiving last year–the timing is totally the worst. Tons of posting popped up after the New Year. Hopefully you find the same.

    5. The New Wanderer

      Rejected after a preliminary interview, which is okay (I think my many hesitations about the job came across).

      Ghosted by another company after they said they wanted to consider me for Y position after rejecting me for X. That one hurts my pride because I was really excited about the company and they had previously been really good at communicating, but whatever, I know it’s not personal.

      Waiting to hear back on yet another application from last week, but due to the timing I’m not expecting anything to happen until after the holidays.

      The company whose offer I had to decline last month due to external conflicts may have some openings early next year and since the timing will be better, maybe one of those will work out. In hindsight I probably shouldn’t have declined but the circumstances were really lousy.

      1. AnonAndOn

        I hope things look up for you after the holidays too! Sorry to hear about the ghosting from that one job.

    6. nep

      Thanks for sharing, AnonAndOn.
      I keep going back and forth between ‘I’ve got to just take absolutely anything I can get’ and ‘I’ve stuck it out for a long time — I’ve got to work in the field I care about and where my skills lie.’ Meanwhile continue to seek and apply.
      Good luck, all.

      1. AnonAndOn

        Yep, that’s me, more or less. Anything is better than nothing but I’d rather get something in line with what I’m doing and that brings me a sense of stability.

        Good luck to you too, nep.

    7. Elizabeth West

      I am almost out of money and not getting responses from even crap jobs and I do not know what I’m going to do. Temporary retail is out because those jobs will go away in a matter of weeks. Temp agencies have not had anything. I need a damn miracle.

      1. nep

        Ouf — same here. I don’t believe in miracles…but yeah, I need something along those lines. Meanwhile, hard work and perseverance…Still part of me just wants to give up.
        Best of luck and keep us posted.

      2. atexit8

        Unless you still are receiving unemployment, some money in is better than no money in.

        Someone I know started at HomeGoods before the holidays.

        I am ready to hit the ground running Jan. 2 , 2018!

    8. Chaordic One

      Two weeks ago I came down with a terrible cold and I’ve been trying to recover ever since, so nothing is happening at all on the job seeking front. Then, as if that weren’t bad enough, my elderly father was admitted to the hospital with a nasty infection and possibly heart problems. Even though I’m not over my cold, I drove home to spend time with him in the hospital. I haven’t even finished Christmas shopping. Right not I’m just going to have to focus on other things beside the job search and besides Christmas.

  25. This feels silly

    I talk in my sleep. According to my spouse, I have recently progressed from incomprehensible mutterings to coherent statements (including singing!). He said the other night that I told him in my sleep thay I was not going to do [work thing] and that he should do it. (We don’t work together or in the same field.)

    This has made me kind of paranoid because my work often deals with confidential information. I’m really worried that I am going to breach confidence in my sleep! Ahhhhh! It hasn’t happened, but I didn’t sleep well last night worrying about it.

    If it happened, I’d tell my supervisor even though I’d be mortified. I don’t really know what to do to proactively avoid it. Sleeping apart isn’t an option. I would feel bad asking my spouse to wear earplugs. I’m thinking of buying a mouth guard in the hopes that it will help shut me up. Any other ideas?

    1. Murphy

      As long as you don’t have a spouse like in that one letter from recently, I think you’ll be OK.

      My husband says all sorts of weird stuff when he’s asleep/sleepy. I can’t even remember it in the mornings sometimes and it usually makes no sense.

    2. overcaffeinatedandqueer

      Do you trust your spouse? I don’t think it’s a big deal to accidentally or otherwise share information with them, if you aren’t insider trading or revealing personal or ID information.

      Recently had a case where (product) EXPLODES near stoves or over-released in cooking. Like hell I wasn’t going to tell my family to stop using (product!)

    3. k.k

      I’ve been a sleep talker sometimes. I do wear a mouth guard for dental reasons, and it does muffle anything you’d say. I have heard that sleep talking is often caused by stress and not getting enough sleep, so maybe try getting some more sleep? Also apparently avoiding snacking and alcohol before bed can help reduce it. If there has been a significant change in the way you sleep talk and it keeps up, it might be worth it to talk to your doctor in case it’s a sign of a more serious sleep disorder.

    4. LCL

      Remind your husband that your work things are confidential and to not repeat whatever you say to anyone else. Or to you. Tell him to drop it. Don’t tell your supervisor, that’s TMI.

      1. Specialk9

        I sleep talk like crazy, and have had very confidential-info positions. But sleep talking is just not coherent enough, usually, for you to need to worry.

        For instance, I often dream about the milk truck delivery when I’m emergency covering the loading dock on a weekend – how to unload it, where the heck to store it all, etc. I don’t work at a loading dock, have never even seen a milk truck (I’m assuming that’s when a thing), and it’s utterly bizarre.

        Or I think my spouse is a space ship captain, who’s either plotting against me or spying on me.

        When I do talk about normal things, it makes no sense. I wouldn’t worry too much about it!

    5. DivineMissL

      I’m confused – do you think your spouse is going to call your boss about some random thing you said in your sleep? Are we talking nuclear codes or something?
      I come from a long line of sleepwalkers/talkers – your spouse is not even in your line of work and your words are meaningless to him/her. Don’t worry about it.

    6. This feels silly

      Let me clarify that I work in a licensed, regulated profession of which confidentiality is a key component of my professional obligations (like, I can be disciplined for violating these obligations). I think it would have a professional ethical obligation to disclose a breach. This is not about me not trusting my spouse.

      I guess I can call the regulating entity’s ethics hotline.

      1. Chameleon

        Tell your spouse that if you tell him confidential information in your sleep you could be disciplined. I will bet anything that you will suddenly stop talking in your sleep.

      2. Jules the First

        I think sometimes there’s a loophole for your spouse…and I’m fairly sure you can’t be censured for something you said when you were not consciously in control (ditto for silly things you say under anasthetic).

        If it makes you feel better, I once scared the crap out of my sister by reciting poetry from Lord of the Rings in my sleep…in Mordorian.

      3. Shiara

        I don’t think you’re wrong to be concerned about this or to take it seriously. I do think calling the ethics hotline would be a good idea, as they’re likely best positioned to offer reassurance if in fact this isn’t something you need to be unduly concerned about, or else to offer suggestions that might not have occurred to you.

        You may want to bring it up with your doctor first. Especially if the coherence/relevance of your sleep talking is a recent change, it’s possible that there’s a cause. Or if you’re especially stressed out right now for some reason, that may be triggering it and developing some relaxation rituals before bed or something might help.

    7. Anony

      Well you can talk to your doctor to see if there is something you can do to sleep better/deeper. Also, mention your concern to your spouse! He likely thinks that this is a funny quirk and doesn’t realize the anxiety it is causing you. If you ask he will almost certainly agree to not repeat anything you say in your sleep (and I agree with previous posters that you are unlikely to actually say something confidential that makes sense out of context).

    8. Ghost Town

      Was the work thing an actual thing? My husband sometimes talks in his sleep, and when it isn’t incomprehensible muttering, it is still nonsensical sentences. Best of luck!

    9. CCF

      I heard a story years ago about someone who applied for a job at an intelligence organization. During the background interviews, an ex-partner said that they talked in their sleep. Apparently, that was enough for a red flag.

      Talking in your sleep can be a sign of another sleep disorder. If you are worried, you may want to get a sleep test or something like that to see if there’s another issue going on that the sleep talking is just a symptom of. My partner talks in their sleep too, and it ranges from imcomprehensible to coherent regularly.

      1. Super Secret Squirre

        Maaaaybe, the intel side can be a bit twitchier, but as someone who has been through that process, that sounds like urban legend.

      2. Her Grace

        When my husband got a federal job at a super-sekret facility, *I* had to get a security clearance in case he talked in his sleep.

    10. CG

      Don’t panic! This may have been a one-off thing.

      Also, telling him a general thing about something that probably occupied a lot of waking brain space is probably not the same as confidential info, which seems more likely to be a specific fact.

    11. Adlib

      This reminds me of the thread here recently where people were talking about sleepwalking. Not long after, my husband ended up sleepwalking. (He used the bathroom and didn’t quite hit the target – that’s how I knew.) I was terrified it would get worse or happen again, but it was all due to stress/fatigue. He hasn’t done it again. He also talks in his sleep occasionally, but it doesn’t make any sense at all.

      I agree with the advice so far. Mouth guards work, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much as long as you let your spouse know to keep it to himself if anything should slip out.

    12. Not So NewReader

      Ask your husband to nudge you when you sleep talk.
      Try to catch yourself sleep talking and change your body position when you do.

      Your worry about breaching confidentiality in your sleep is probably adding to the worry that causes the sleep talking. Look around. How many different ways can you find to reduce your worry load.

      Years ago, I realized I was snoring. I am normally a side sleeper, so I made myself sleep with my hand beside my mouth in effort to catch myself snoring more often.

    13. Sam Foster

      Sleep talking can be a symptom of a larger problem. If you can, talk to a sleep specialist and possibly have a sleep study done.

  26. MaryPoppins

    I’ve been reading through the archives searching for something on job fit. I started a new job about a month ago and I already feel…a little bored? I feel guilty since most people feel overwhelmed or unsure so awhile at their new positions. I don’t have the longest job history but it’s just not what I thought it would be? This job is basically me looking at a screen in a cubicle for 8 hours a day and it hurts my eyes/wrists/back. My training has been sporadic and I’ve mostly been working independently. My trainer says I’m doing “amazing.” I wish there was more variety.

    What are my options here? I feel awful about looking for something new so soon. I know if I stick it out for a few years I could move to a different department. I’m trying to focus on the positives: great hours, good pay, good benefits, having a job at all but it’s hard.

    1. Anony

      How is your job history prior to this? If it is good you can probably leave this job off your resume if you leave. Are you ok burning this bridge?

      1. MaryPoppins

        It’s okay, but not great. I’ve stayed at jobs for about 2 years a piece and I’ve had 3 full time positions.

    2. Sparky

      I think it takes a minimum of 3 months to feel comfortable in a new job and a full year to understand the ins and outs of it. It’s possible that you are being given a gentle start before things get busy. How busy do your coworkers seem? Are they as bored as you? Re: eyes wrist back hurting stuff. There are definitely things you can do to mitigate discomfort from looking at screens all day (taking 5 minute breaks wearing screen glare glasses) adding a lower shelf to place mice and keyboards on etc. It’s also possible that you are in a boring entry level position that will stay boring but could potentially lead to good things down the road. A good rule of thumb if you’re not sure how you feel about a new job is that most company’s usually use a 3 month probation period to assess you, you should use a 3 month period to assess them.

      1. MaryPoppins

        They seem busy enough (not stressed, it’s a library, there’s not really a busy season or anything) but their tasks also seem pretty repetitive. I came from 2 jobs where I was rotating between customer service, supervising and training, and doing computer work. Now I just have computer work that I’m apparently picking up on really quickly. The person in this role before me retired and had never worked in a library before. My trainer said she expected to have to help me more but that I’m picking things up really quickly. The tasks I have not yet been trained on are really just a different form of the same work (resolving errors in a database, it’s just the type of error that changes).

        It seems like they oversold the “variety” part when I talked about that in the interviews.

    3. Sloane Kittering

      This is always tough to know when you start out – is it me, is it this job, is it the field? If you’re midcareer and have a lot of options, you could choose to pursue a switch – or if you’re brand new and you’re sure this isn’t your field and you want to try something where you’re standing or working physically or out in the field (note that these jobs often pay less for more effort than a cushy office job, but YMMV). If you’re starting out and this is your first job (and the salary/benefits are decent), I *highly* recommend sticking with it for at least a year. You will probably adjust to the new schedule – I know it was tough for me in the beginning to get used to sitting at a desk all day every week day, and most jobs aren’t constantly being presented with fun challenging new opportunities, but I got used it. (I also started taking a lunchtime walk).

      As for not being occupied, well, the company has decided it’s worth it to pay you full time (presumably) to have you on-call, and if there’s nothing you’re needed for in a given minute it’s okay to surf the web or take a class or work on a novel or whatever. Most office jobs are the same, and some are worse in terms of being toxic or crappy.

      1. MaryPoppins

        I’m fairly early career but this area of my field may not be for me. I’ve had a couple fulltime positions since graduating and I’ve stayed about 2 years in each. Both those jobs were more varied: customer service, computer work, planning projects, supervising and training. This is just so repetitive.

        I definitely don’t want to pass up a good job, the culture is great so far, no crazy bosses or coworkers. I’ve started walk breaks! They have been really helpful for relieving screen headaches.

        1. Sloane Kittering

          I guess some of your comments made me think you don’t want an office job – which is totally fine! Some people plan their whole careers to ensure they don’t have to have an office job, it’s not for everybody! But I wanted to flag for you that even if you switch jobs, as long as your in an office you’re going to have some of these issues. So it’d be a shame to leave an otherwise good one.

          1. MaryPoppins

            That’s a good point, I definitely wouldn’t want to jump ship for another job that has the same qualities. It’s a good job, I don’t want to make it out like I think it’s terrible I just think it may not be for me. I’m trying to find something that’s a little more hands-on so hopefully this mistake won’t reflect badly on me. And, if I can’t find anything right away, at least it’s stable and a decent place to work.

            1. Specialk9

              Also, you need to get ergonomic adjustments to your workplace stat! Aching wrists and back will turn into carpal tunnel and back problems. So ask for an ergonomic expert to review your setup, if your company has that. If not, Google.

              Get a split slanted keyboard, sideways mouse, prop up your monitor so it’s eye height. Look at the angle of your elbow when working, and research how to fix it by desk setup. Look at your chair height and how you’re sitting.

              Start doing daily basic back exercises (eg stretch your hamstring with standing long slow toe-reaches; on your back with knees raised and spine pressed to the floor, slowly raise/lower one knee then the other). Tightness in your legs and hips pull the back e muscles out of whack so stretch.

  27. barber's wife

    Just wanted to update everyone on a question I posted in the open thread a few months back.
    My husband’s shop classifies him as an independent contractor and he only makes a percentage of sales (not a salary). The owner was trying to make them work a lot of hours where there was very little business, so they were barely making anything but he wasn’t paying them to be there and got a cut of whatever sales they did make.
    People here pointed out that if the owner is classifying them as contractors they have to be able to make their own hours. Since they all found this out they have successfully pushed back on being there when there is no business. The boss gave up on making them be there (in a downtown business district) on Saturday evening and they generally just feel more empowered to leave when business seems over for the day.
    So thanks to everyone who comments here! Happy Holidays!!

  28. fposte

    So I was researching stuff about the new tax legislation, and there’s something interesting (and that I don’t think would have to be a political discussion) that I haven’t seen much coverage of: it includes a tax credit for employers who pay their employees during FMLA. It’s only partial, but I don’t think there was any at all before; it would be nice if this smoothed FMLA a bit for people who need it.

    1. Higher Ed Database Dork

      That’s interesting. By “pay,” does that mean pay other than PTO? Because my employer “pays” me during FMLA but it’s coming out of my PTO bank – once that’s used up, I’d have to go on unpaid leave.

        1. Phoenix Programmer

          If it does then the credit doesn’t do anything but shift the burden of FMLA to tax payers. I would call different if it was a credit for employers who paid employees on FMLA without requiring PTO use.

  29. Folklorist

    Hello! It’s your “GAAAAAAHHHHHH-IT’S-THE-LAST-DAY-BEFORE-THE-HOLIDAYS” ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST! I know you have lots of little things hanging on, so get them done and come back here and brag about them!

    I’m doing ALL THE THINGS that I’ve pout off due to job burnout and mild sickness over the past couple of weeks before I get 10 glorious days off! Now to write two articles, edit some mind-numbing junk, and enter some awards competitions….

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      I grew up in Ashland, but my family has moved further down the valley, because housing costs are so high there. Still, it’s a beautiful area, and the theater is excellent.

    2. Mallows

      I would have applied for that in a hot second when I lived in the Rogue Valley 10 years ago. One of my friends out there always gets us box seats for a show when I come visit.

  30. Mimmy

    Quick resume question:

    A career advisor at one of my alma maters suggested that I leave the dates of earned degrees off of my resume because she saw that I got my Bachelors in 1995; she was concerned about potential age discrimination (I’m in my 40s). Since the Bachelors, I’ve earned a Masters (2007) and an Advanced Certificate (2016). Do employers really not care when you earned specific credentials? (I am aware that I will have to provide that info on a job application).

    1. Red Reader

      Nah, the year doesn’t need to be on there for most things. I’m sure there might be field-specific exceptions for like… a professional certification or something? But for education/degrees, outside of possibly academia, I wouldn’t find it necessary to have the year on my resume. (That said, I do, because I don’t have any reason not to – I’m currently in grad school while working, so I have the anticipated date of completion on there.)

    2. Anomonon

      I put only the finish date of my last degree. That did make me seem younger than I am to employers, and I have some evidence that it helped get me in the door. Whether they want all the finish dates depends on the employer. I now have a government job, and they required all the dates on everything including high school.

    3. Llama Wrangler

      What do people think about the opposite scenario? People tend to think I’m younger than I am, and I’ve felt like having the year I completed my BA is helpful for them (“oh, she’s been working for 10+ years in this field”).

    4. KaG

      I left off my undergrad date after (I think) a comment I read on AAM (undergrad 2000, masters 2015). The first interview I had with that resume, the interviewer asked me what year I graduated college. Sigh.

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego

        I don’t really understand this as a convention, either. I mean, I’m in my 40s but I think it would look strange not to have the year I graduated on my CV. But perhaps I should try leaving it off and see if anything changes.

  31. Freaking Out

    Five years ago, I left a toxic job with an abusive boss. When I worked for Dolores, I was crying at work on a weekly basis. She’d already been reported to HR multiple times with limited results, so it felt like my only option was to leave. I took a $5000 pay cut to leave that job and join my current organization. I’ve been here for 5 years and have received 3 promotions in that time.

    Dolores left our old organization not long after I did. This week, I started hearing some industry gossip that her current job is not going well and she’s talking about applying for similar positions at different organizations. My current organization just posted a job opening at the same level as Dolores’s current job, and the person who gets selected for this position will be my direct supervisor.

    I’m terrified that Dolores will apply to be my new boss. I have no evidence that she will, but even the thought of having to report to her again makes me feel like I might hyperventilate. The way our organization is set up, I won’t know if she’s applied unless they hire her, and by that time it will be too late.

    I feel like I should bring this to someone’s attention. My grandboss and I haven’t worked together for long and we don’t have very much history together, but I’ve worked closely with our HR manager in the past. I want to set an appointment with HR, but I don’t know what I should say and what I should leave out. So much of this is speculation, and I don’t want her to think I’m hysterical or overreacting.

    How do I do this? What are some scripts you guys might use if you were in my place? Help me, AAM community, you’re my only hope.

    1. fposte

      I think this has even come up in a post, so it’s not that freak an occurrence. I would meet with HR to say “This is a bit of a stretch, but I think a former supervisor of mine might apply for one of our open positions, and I wanted to alert you that she was extremely problematic to work with in the following ways: X, Y, Z. I don’t think I’d be able to work with her again and I also don’t think she’d be good for Teapots Inc. I know it’s not my decision, but I wanted to register my viewpoint now so as not to risk waiting until it’s too late.”

      1. Pollygrammer

        This is a good script! If you feel like it’s going to raise eyebrows and you want to be more subtle, you could say something like ““This is a bit of a stretch, but I think a former supervisor of mine might apply for one of our open positions. Is there any way I could get a heads-up if that’s the case?” They will probably ask you why and you can delicately express your hesitation about working with her and your reasons.

        Are direct subordinates not involved in the hiring/interview process at all at your job? That seems like a big risk to me.

    2. Sloane Kittering

      I would get in with HR to see if she actually does apply before freaking out too much about it. No sense in worrying yourself sick about something that may not even materialize. Sidenote: any chance that you could apply for this job yourself? That’s one way to stop her from getting it! :D Or even if she is hired, maybe you can go back to the old company now that she’s not there!

    1. Higher Ed Database Dork

      Why can’t I ever get a vlookup to work in Excel? I’m a friggin’ database developer and I can’t ever get a vlookup to work correctly. Thank you! :)

      1. hiptobesquared

        It’s important to make sure the data table you’re pulling from is – in fact – vertical. HLOOKUP is the exact same thing but for horizontal tables.

        I love VLOOKUP, so this is a great question!

        =VLOOKUP(The value you want look up, the range of your data table, where the lookup field is in in relation to the value you are using to look it up, FALSE)

        Note: The count to the lookup value includes the value you’re using to look it up, so if your’e searching for the price of gasoline and the value you’re using to look it up is “Regular” in column A and the price is in column B, your count is 2.

        I know that’s clear as mud but hopefully helps!

      2. Adlib

        Make sure your columns/cells aren’t formatted as “text”. That sometimes happens, and it’s not always the first thing people check! Your table array also has to be set up from left to right (example – you’re looking up data in column A to pull from column B, not vice versa).

        Also, maybe use TRIM to get extra spaces out of data so that doesn’t throw it off.

        I troubleshoot VLOOKUP a lot!

        1. Higher Ed Database Dork

          Most of the time, my data is in text form. Is there a way around that, or can I just not use lookups? Our work study has used vlookup on text data so I figured there has to be a way, like when he is doing table compare reports when a new patch bundle comes out. So he’s comparing table names.

          1. That Would Be a Good Band Name

            To compare, I usually use an if formula. I might not be understanding exactly what you are doing, but let’s say I have data (all text) in column A and it should be the same as a new list. I’ll put the new list in column B and then in column C, I put if(A:A=B:B, “”,”CHECK”). Then I drag that down the column and if it’s blank it’s a match and if not it puts the word check in column C.

            I use vlookup all the time for text, so it can definitely be done. It’s possible that there are spaces at the end of your text or something else that isn’t letting it work.

            1. Higher Ed Database Dork

              This sounds more like what I am trying to do, so I will check into extra characters/spaces next time I run it. Thanks!

    2. Foreign Octopus

      My HP laptop is running slowly. I’ve had it for about a year and it used to be quick off the mark. I’m just wondering if it’s a normal ageing thing or there’s something I can do to speed it up again.

      Thanks!

      1. hiptobesquared

        Being vague here, but some of the things I do are to see what you have running at startup, clear out temp files, and possibly increase your RAM – especially if you only have 2 or 4 GB. RAM is inexpensive and can be ungraded pretty easily.

        Of course there are program specific things, but no, after a year, I wouldn’t expect it to be super slow.

      2. TiffIf

        Also, I know a lot of people who about every 6 months will save anything (file wise) to an external drive and then just wipe and reinstall the OS. You’ll have to reinstall a lot of programs after, depending on what you do or need, but you can start back from base.

    3. Tara

      Not sure if a “computer” question, but do you know which program would be good for a total newbie to talk to an API? I’ve only got a vague idea of how to write/aggregate requests, but I’m not sure how to mess around with it because I don’t know which platform to use. (Bonus if it’s browser based?)

      1. hiptobesquared

        Ooh I’m so sorry but this is not an area where I know enough to help. Great question though! Maybe someone else will be able to assist.

        1. Tara

          Yes. I downloaded Postman but apparently I don’t know enough to use it? If anyone has good links for beginners, I’d appreciate that too.

          1. Tau

            Hmm. No links, unfortunately, but to me it sounds like what you might need to look into isn’t how to play with an API but the fundamentals of how HTTP works – requests, responses, headers, what the verbs are and what they generally do, maybe some basics of REST, etc. Because I think Postman is pretty straightforward if you have a good handle on those things, and they’re important to know if you’re going to be working with APIs.

            Oh, another tip that may be helpful – in most browsers, you can check what’s actually happening in terms of network calls when you browse to a page and load it via using developer tools, inspecting individual requests and the responses they got. You may even be able to copy specific requests to Postman so that you can fiddle with parts of it and see how it changes the response. (I do this in Chrome via “copy as cURL” and then importing in Postman, not sure if there’s an easier way).

      2. Cassandra

        APIs are usually meant for someone to write programming code against. There often isn’t a readymade platform for interactions.

        Now, “often” doesn’t mean “always,” so I might spend some time with a search engine and the terms “web application” “webapp” or “GUI.”

        Another possibility, if the API is what’s called “RESTful,” is that you can interact with it by messing around with URLs in your browser. If this is a possibility, there should be documentation for it. (“Should” doesn’t always mean “is,” unfortunately.)

        Hope this helps.

      3. The Grammarian

        Does the company that wrote their API have documentation with notes on what values/commands to use to get certain info back? I used Postman in the past.

    4. ThursdaysGeek

      I have an Excel VBA program that worked fine in October and now when it runs, it kills Excel completely. It’s loading a bunch of file names into an array, and then going through one by one and parsing out some data from each file. It has error handling, because the array is bigger than the number of files. The error handling seems to have quit working. It’s dying in an area that worked, with nothing changed (except time and Excel updates).

      I’m working on a workaround. The number of files will vary, so I think an additional ‘if the file name is not empty, do the rest of this stuff’ will work. But why did the error handling quit working!?

      1. Windchime

        I am a programmer who has done a little bit of VBA (but mostly other stuff). I would look for a file name that has some kind of a special character in it or something. If it was working fine and now all the sudden crashes, that tells me that perhaps you’ve got an error that the error handling subs aren’t able to handle. I don’t remember enough of VBA to know how to tell you exactly how to do this, but I would try a very generic try/catch inside your main sub to see if you can dump out the error. Another thing to try is to put in a break point and then step through the code as it runs to try to understand where it’s crashing. That should help make it more clear where you need to beef up your error handling.

    5. TiffIf

      I am not fond of the growing amount of data harvested in various operating systems for corporate data collection and so I’ve been leaning towards putting a Linux distro my next home computer. However, the last time I put Linux (Lubuntu) on a machine I ran into all sorts of hardware compatibility issues (it was a cheap netbook that could barely run the Windows XP it natively came with so that might have been part of the problem).

      I know my way around an OS better than most, but I am by no means an expert and I am pretty much a newbie when it comes to Linux. Would it be a better idea to just buy something that comes with it already and therefore has all the hardware compatibility figured out? The problem there is there are a lot fewer options for pre-loaded Linux machines.

      Just, any advice in general here would be appreciated.

      1. Cassandra

        Shortcut might be to narrow down to some model numbers for machines you’re interested in, then search them with “Linux” and see which ones have results?

  32. Ramona Flowers

    You guys, I won an award at work! My grandboss / head of programme nominated me. I got it on Wednesday and I’m still in shock.

    After years of toxic jobs and terrible managers and stressful self-employment I finally work somewhere decent where I feel valued and happy.

    And I’m not just saying that because I’ve been at my grandboss’s home-mulled wine.

  33. Long time lurker

    To those who have gotten data analyst or data scientist jobs without a computer science degree.

    I’m learning technical skills, mainly Python and SQL, and I’ve decided that I really want to pursue this. But I don’t have any work experience with these languages and I don’t have coursework for them either. I’m thinking about putting some projects online but I’m worried about it since I haven’t been formally trained to make coding presentable. I’m concerned that showcasing any projects may backfire and betray my inexperience. I should mention that I do have a STEM degree but it doesn’t have much to do with computers.

    So I ask the readers of AAM, how did you get into data analysis and data science?

    1. Loki

      I know someone with a BA in a non-computer science field who got his first DB job by claiming to know SQL when they knew nothing about it, spent the weekend cramming it for a skills test, and somehow got the job. They’ve gone on to have jobs in several prominent companies.

      I’m not an expert, but different companies can have different standards for exactly how they want their code to look anyway, so even if yours were neat, it may need to change a bit to match their standards. As long as anything you’re showcasing works like it’s supposed to, I think it would be fine.

    2. Higher Ed Database Dork

      Database developer with an English BA here! I got into data analysis via working as a support tech for our school’s learning management system. I knew the application really well, and started to understand the data side of it. Schools are desperate for data about how their students are using the LMS, so I became the go-to person for retrieving and analyzing this data. I asked lots of questions, did some training courses online, watched a lot of videos. Eventually I got more and more work in the data analysis and reporting arena, and then I started getting into more DBA and development type work, because I saw a need in my department for it. Eventually my dept went another direction, but I got a new job in a different dept as a developer for a data warehouse.

      I learned all my SQL and other skills on the job. What I played up in interviews was my institutional knowledge, my critical thinking skills, and my adaptability. Good employers recognize that programming skills can be taught…but the more intangible things are difficult to teach. So I would just keep learning and practicing as much as you can, look for opportunities in your current job, and also highlight your STEM degree and soft skills to potential employers. I’m thinking you know how to research and write because of STEM, correct? That is a huge asset for data analysis.

      I can’t speak anything to data science because I think that’s very heavy into math and I’m terrible at math. But I think you can do it! Good luck!

    3. sg

      i think putting projects online is a great idea! you can learn *a lot* from reading other people’s blogs in terms of thought process, coding standards, etc. i think blogging is just such a great way to demonstrate not only coding skills, but also how you think through a problem (the most important part of being a good data analyst job, imo!)

      i’m an R user, not python, so the blogs I like reflect that, but I’d take a look at these:
      * https://juliasilge.com/
      * http://varianceexplained.org/ (especially topical post — http://varianceexplained.org/r/start-blog/ )
      * http://www.masalmon.eu/

      If you’re not on twitter, there’s a *huge* data analysis/science community on there, both for R and python.

      btw: i think coming from a STEM field, or any non comp-sci field in general, is a great way to get into data analysis — you likely have experience working through problems in the context of whatever you studied, and domain knowledge (and knowing how to work through domain-specific problems) is so important in doing analysis! i come from a Statistics background, which had a tiny bit of programming, and a tiny bit of domain-level stuff, but not a ton of either ;)

    4. Overeducated

      I have 3 different friends with grad degrees in other science and social science fields who did “boot camps” (some the short weekend variety, some longer) and pretty much immediately got data science jobs after. I am not sure if it was connections, learning the right lingo, or just showing they were serious enough to put money down but it made a pretty instant difference, even for the scientists whose previous research basically *was* data science.

    5. JJJJShabado

      I agree with sg above about transferable skills. I program in SAS. I was a math major with a minor in computer science. When I interviewed, I knew nothing about SAS except for a little reading I had done. After I interviewed, I got access to SAS and did some examples and sent them in, so I’m a proponent of showing work. The best experience you are going to get is doing things. As for making code presentable, what you think it should be is correct. Should have comments, should be easy to read. I would not say there is a definitive style on code.

    6. Arils

      It might not be exactly what you’re looking for, but I am a DA with my state. I have one of those fru-fru degrees. I started with the department in another capacity aligned with my master’s degree and when an opportunity presented itself to move to IS/DA I applied. The IT manager was always impressed with my work ethic and was also known to teach everyone in his department. I also took Python and SQL classes before applying to this job to show my willingness to learn. In my job now I barely use SQL. It is truly a lot of data analysis, figuring out why they are having issues sending data, and reaching out to/assisting clients.

      I’d look for “non-competitive jobs” i.e. public jobs that do not pay as well as private jobs. The programmer/IS jobs with our state depart are vacant forever sometimes because the pay is good but not competitive. Start in the public sector, gain experience and skills, move to private.

    7. Julie Noted

      I came up in data analysis with an advanced science degree but not even high school classes in computer science. Now I’m a senior manager of data analysts and hire them all the time. I don’t think I’ve ever hired someone with computer science qualifications – if I did, they had something else too, and the computers part didn’t stand out in my mind.

      What you need to be a good data scientist/analyst is scientific/analytical thinking, MUCH more than coding skills. I’ve hired plenty of junior staff whose coding experience extended to introductory SAS, SPSS or R from a psych/stats/eco class, and even some whose most advantage computer skill was solid Excel. We train them on the job. On the other hand, I’ve rejected lots of candidates with coding experience who can’t demonstrate critical thinking, the ability to form a testable hypothesis, or appreciation of the real world context or application of data problems.

      Managing staff, the ones I have the most problems with tend to be those whose focus is exclusively on code, not context. Staff whose development plan centres on improving communication skills to translate data into meaningful information, but who refuse to spend training effort on anything other than the next language certification.

      If you want to get into data analysis, show me that you know how to use data to answer questions, to uncover and solve problems. Then I’ll be a lot more interested in you than in the person with just a list of programs on their resume.

  34. paul

    Our staff bathrooms are in a part of the building that isn’t heated (because the offices there are not occupied). Usually it’s no big, but it was single digits outside this AM; I’m frankly amazed the water in the toilets didn’t’ freeze. Wondering if I should push for an oil filled space heater in each of the bathrooms?

    1. fposte

      I bet you’d be the people’s hero, especially the sitting people’s hero. Is the sink water also unheated?

    2. Corky's wife Bonnie

      You’ll have to go to your facility manager and/or building owner for that. Many buildings have certain codes that would prohibit space heaters.

    3. WellRed

      Maybe mention your concern that the pipes could freeze. Which is a pain to deal with. Plus, then you’d have no plumbing. Which means no work (I would think) if there are no facilities.

      1. anon24

        Which means no work (I would think) if there are no facilities.

        My last job had the external sewage tank freeze and blow out of the ground the first week of January last year. It took 4 months to get fixed because the township would not issue a permit to allow the tank to be replaced. We did not get any time off work. We got to use portable bathrooms that they placed in a garage. It was horrible.

    4. Anony

      It might be better to push for them to turn the heat on in that part of the building, at least at a low level. It can’t be good for the pipes to get that cold.

      1. paul

        I’m not sure how the heating/cooling/plumbing in this building works. We take up about 1/3 of this story, and the building company heats this part of it, but the bathrooms are kind of in the center of the story, and the heat int he rest of of it’s off. The floor below is fully occupied and heated. I’d guesstimate the temp in that part of the building in the low 40s maybe? so I don’t think the pipes are in danger but it’s certainly not comfortable in office clothes!

        1. Anony

          Maybe you can point out that the bathrooms should be considered an “occupied” part of the building since you are expected to use them, unless there are other bathrooms you could use that are heated.

    5. paul

      Well, that didn’t take long….got a response that fire code prohibits them :/ not even sure if that’s true or not. Blech.

    6. DaniCalifornia

      I feel you on this. I work in a building built in late 1800s. Our bathrooms are freezing. Even when it got to 72 yesterday the whole place stays cold for days.

  35. Tess McGill

    I started a new job in February this year and the firm does annual reviews for everyone once a year, regardless of when you were hired. I have truly worked my a** off this year, coming in early every single day, only sick for two days and only taking four days off in the last 10+ months (I get 10 days combined leave the first year, 15 days next year). I answer to two little bosses and one big boss. The big boss is amazing. Truly a phenomenal person to work for/with day in and day out. The work is non-stop, constantly challenging and I am really happy. I also moved house this month and in the last 60 days he’s given me liberal leave to meet with the home inspector, contractors, packers and movers and attend closing, all without charging me leave. He even gave me an amazing house warming gift. We just received our annual reviews. I received a raise five times the amount I was hoping for and a bonus over three times the amount I was hoping for. I am over-the-moon happy and I just wanted to give a shout-out to Alison. It was here that I found all the advice for cover letters, resumes and interview questions/answers/skills when I was job hunting in January. Thanks Alison, and thanks as well to the entire AAM community. I have learned so much from this group and I just wanted to share. I hope everyone has a very happy holiday spent with friends and family and a wonderful new year!

  36. extra anon today

    I finally went to HR about my supervisor never speaking to me and not assigning me enough work to do. I told her about how he doesn’t understand my capabilities and continues to give me work that’s years below my experience level. I mentioned that I have no regular (daily/weekly) responsibilities, so that when I have no assignments from him, I have nothing to fall back on. I also told her that he did not do any training or onboarding for me (I’ve only been here 6 months). She was receptive and nice but got really hung up on the lack of onboarding. Apparently the city has a pretty straightforward template for onboarding that includes 30, 60 and 90 day work plans and expectations. I was literally sat at a desk, told to look through the shared directories and forgotten about for two full weeks before I got an assignment. My boss and I have never had a meeting or a conversation. He sends everything through email even though he sits 6 feet away from me. It is so strange! She didn’t want to talk about that though. HR was only interested in the lack of onboarding, which isn’t my problem right now, so that was frustrating. She said she would meet with my boss and grandboss “soon” but it’s been two weeks. *grump*

    1. Rusty Shackelford

      Sounds like she picked the thing that was easiest to address. It’s hard to quantify “you need to give your employee some work.” It’s a lot easier to note that a checkbox hasn’t been checked.

    2. Purplesaurus

      It’s terrible to feel like you’ve been left hanging. But it’s possible HR already met with your bosses and you just don’t know about it yet.

      Is there anyone else in the office that reports to your boss? Could you ask them about the situation?

  37. Bend & Snap

    Why am I getting ghosted after 10+ interviews, in final rounds?

    For the third time this year I just wrapped up 11 interviews all the way up to the C-level over a period of months, and…nothing.

    The interviewers are always responsive when I follow up as far as giving me an update but never follow up when they say they will. So clearly they’re not going to hire me, but why string me along and take my time over a period of months?

    So, so, so frustrated. I have had millions of interviews this year and no job offers because interviewers disappear after the final round.

    1. BadPlanning

      Perhaps everyone went on vacation for the year — or enough people did and no one left a to-do to contact Bend & Snap.

    2. fposte

      I’m sorry, B&S. That’s frustrating. I think you’ve just got a field where they’re really bad at sending rejections. I don’t think that changes the outcome–it’s no job either way–but it makes the experience that much more bruising.

  38. CCF

    Not a question, but a bananas situation.

    Sam and Diane are divorced from each other and work in different departments at my company. Sam went to Diane’s house to pick up their kid(s). While over there he got in an argument with Diane’s boyfriend, Frasier. Frasier is a police officer. The argument escalated. At some point later on, Frasier shot Sam. There’s been no discipline for Frasier. Diane came back to work and apparently didn’t mention a word of this. Sam’s department found out what happened and has basically declared war against Diane’s department, even though they are in no way related.

    I am not on either team. But let’s just say the gossip has spread through the office and everyone is aware when people from Sam and Diane’s respective departments are in the same room or potentially might be. I have no idea how things will cool down.

    1. LCL

      The vast majority of the time domestic drama should be left out of the workplace. This is one of those exceptions. My suggestions are vague because I don’t know your org structure, but this does need management’s attention.

      Someone needs to explain to Sam and Diane’s manager, and the manager above them, what happened. Those managers have to talk to each other and figure out what to tell their groups and remind them they have to work together. Also to talk to Sam and Diane individually to see if either has safety concerns being around the other, and if they are both able to work in the same place. There might even be restraining orders involved.

    2. Foreign Octopus

      What the frick-frack?

      Frasier shot Sam?!

      I feel like there should be a disciplinary action somewhere in there. If he was off-duty, why was he carrying a gun? And how badly does a conversation have to escalate where shooting someone seems like a good idea?

      (Gun culture confuses me.)

      I suppose I can understand Sam’s department’s reaction but I reckon they need to be reminded it’s a place of work, not a courthouse where judgement can be passed.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      Whoa. WHOA. Is Sam ok or going to be ok?

      I think everyone at work needs to mind their business and act professionally, but to be honest, I would have a really hard time with that at first. I would give everyone a week to cool off (unless, of course, they need each other to do their work), but after that, I would expect people to act like civilized adults in the office. And if I were the head of either department, I would sit them all down and say as much.

      1. CCF

        There have been a lot of rumors and I don’t know what Sam’s condition is. Whatever the truth is, he apparently has not returned to work. I occasionally work with someone in his department, but don’t know them well enough to ask about this.

        One of my coworkers witnessed two people arguing about it. As she put it, one person yelling “How could you keep working with Diane after this?!” There’s a weird tension, I think, knowing that these people could run into each other in common areas and an argument could break out. I can only imagine how awkward it would be for anyone else.

        1. fposte

          I think management, especially Sam’s management, really needs to take an active role here, because that is problematic behavior in its own right and needs to be clearly identified as such.

        2. Mints

          I think it’s likely that friends of each are like “Well sure Sam/Diane/Frasier could have handled it better but the other guy made it worse” and the other person is like “No, the other guy acted way worse” and having an official acknowledgement might help. But that’s bonkers, and management has a LOT to do

        3. Lissa

          Man, regardless of what else people think, it seems really messed up to be blaming Diane because of what her husband did. If anything I’d be terrified *for* her, having a boyfriend who will *shoot* someone because they “had an argument.” (or like…for any reason, but you know.) Considering the statistics on that type of thing, that is not not not a good situation.

          Do…people think everyone in Diane”s department should quit or refuse to work with her because of this? That doesn’t really make any sense to me.

    4. Not So NewReader

      Management needs to step in with a firm hand. Since Sam’s department seems to be initiating the disruption that would probably be the best place to start.

      The last time I saw a love triangle blow up, everyone left the company. That seemed to be the only remedy.

      1. LCL

        The way I read it, Frazier doesn’t work with Sam and Diane. Frazier is a cop who works for the police department, which is not S and Ds and OPs workplace. No doubt There will be trouble for Frazier, but cops are government and nothing happens fast in government.

      2. Thlayli

        In the good ol US of A cops shoot people ALL THE TIME without being disciplined for it. In my country a newspaper once did a special article about child shootings in the US – apparently something like 13 children a day are killed in shootings. So they picked an average day the previous year and followed up on the stories of the 13 kids. They were all very sad but one stuck out in my mind because there was such a total lack of government response.

        A bunch of black kids were in a shop and one of them got shot dead by the security guard who said they were shoplifting. The other kids said they weren’t shoplifting. Case closed, no discipline no trial no one gave a crap. The security guards statement that the kid was shoplifting was apparently enough to justify the death of a child without any other evidence whatsoever. The security guard was an off-duty white cop who had previously shot and killed his ex-wife, which he also got away with.

        This is apparently a perfectly normal occurance in the land of the free. I thank my lucky stars every day I wasn’t born in America.

  39. Qwertyuiop

    I have been at my new job for 4 months and I work with another woman, “Patty”. My background is in library science, but my current position is in another field but I deal with records. Patty keeps asking about why I didn’t chose to work in a library, why I left my old job, etc. Once when I was talking about a job posting that went to an internal candidate, Patty point blank asked if I had applied for the job. (I didn’t!)

    Patty and I talk about previous jobs that we had and when I talk about a library job, Patty will ask , “Was it a temp job?” I said, “No, it was part-time.” Then she said, “Oh, they didn’t want to take you on full-time?”

    I don’t know whether she doesn’t want to work with me or what her deal is, but it’s getting annoying and I feel bad. When she talks about job searching, I almost want to ask if she’s trying to get rid of me, but I know I shouldn’t.

    Am I overreacting? Should anything be said or done about this?

    1. BadPlanning

      I think some people think unless you’re working “in your field” then you’ve either failed or gone off track. Even though, it is probably more common for people start with one “field” in mind and take a meandering path to somewhere new.

      Or sometimes people just get hung up thinking there’s some juicy drama llama story when it’s really quite boring.

    2. fposte

      She sounds like she might just be a natterer; do you know if she natters similarly to other people given the chance?

      I wouldn’t take it personally, but I know comments that really aren’t personal can still hit some personal tender spots. I actually think a humorous “Oh, Patty, you’re not trying to get rid of me, are you?” would be an amiable and apt response.

    3. Anony

      It sounds very annoying. I think the best thing to do is not discuss past jobs with her. If she tries to bring it up, change the subject or tell her that you would rather not discuss it.

    4. Not So NewReader

      “Patty, every day we have to talk about my old job or job hunting. What’s up? Why are we doing this?”

      OR

      “Patty, almost every day you ask me about my old job or job hunting. I was thinking maybe we could find other things to talk about.”

  40. gala apple

    I’ve been casually searching for jobs for a while now, and almost everything I see that I’m interested in requires a masters and pays 60% of what I make now. What is with these unrealistic expectations that employers have? Or are they not unrealistic, and I’m just out of touch with hiring?

    1. Teal Green

      It does seem like there are a lot of employers with unrealistic expectations. I laughed out loud at one job listing linkedin recommended to me recently – required a masters and minimum 4 years experience with a fairly high level of responsibility, listed as “entry-level.” Lol wut

    2. krysb

      What kills me is that the labor market has tightened over the past couple of years. This isn’t like 10 years ago or five years ago where there were a lot of skilled workers searching for work, making the job market benefit employers, but they’re still treating it like it is. It’s ridiculous. I’m probably going to start job seriously job searching sometime next year. What will you think will happen if I laugh at an employer that tries to underpay me in this market?

  41. MommaCat

    How do I stay motivated after I’ve turned in notice? I work at a school (not a teacher), and I’ve informed them that this is my last year so they can work on hiring the next person. I have some massive projects coming up that I have to work on during winter break, and I’m just not. Motivated. At. All. Any tips?

    1. BadPlanning

      When I’m hit with a big “no movitation,” I usually break things down into a bunch of steps. Then I tell myself, do Step 1 and then we’ll take a break. Or let’s skip ahead and do more interesting Thing 5 and then we’ll come back to the others. Usually this will get me going and I can do Step 1-3 and then take a break, etc.

      1. Artemesia

        In the same vein, I will when stuck pick something that I know is easy and fairly quick and just do it, so I can knock something off. When I was stuck writing years ago on something complicated, I knocked off a quick two page ‘how to’ article for a professional journal — not a refereed important piece, but something. sometimes just reinforcing yourself with little accomplishments can get you there.

        BF Skinner wrote every morning and would reward himself with an afternoon listening to music. Figure out what little reward you can give yourself for getting some odious task off your desk. Most of us can pound for half an hour with a pellet at the end. It’s all rats all the way down.

    2. Not So NewReader

      After giving notice it’s easy to feel like we no longer work “for” the company/organization. Why not frame it as you work for yourself? For the rest of this job, you will do things that look great on a resume or make for good discussion at a job interview.

      1. Marthooh

        Or think of it as working to earn a great reference. Even if you don’t need one now, you may in a few years.

    3. Cobalt

      Oof that’s hard. I would try to focus on doing things for your resume and job references. You will still be there for long enough that you could tank your reputation if you can’t at least keep up with your previous productivity.

  42. rosiebyanyothername

    I have a question for any AAM readers who work in education. I’m a new grad in an office job, so this is a little out of my wheelhouse, but I’m wondering: many of my also-new-grad friends are working in education, either as teachers or in City Year and similar programs. Some of these friends have been posting on social media about their students, including pictures and videos of the kids they teach. Usually it’s framed in a “I’m so proud of my students, look at what they’re doing!” context, but am I wrong in thinking this could be ethically questionable? I find it hard to believe every parent signed off on their kid’s teacher posting pictures of them on their personal social media pages. Or is social media engagement part of being a teacher now?

    1. Veronica

      I work in an education-adjacent field, and I’d say most teachers know exactly which kids don’t have waivers on file. When I’ve done social media at school events, it’s usually the classroom teachers who pull me aside and say, “Hey, you can’t take pictures of Kid C.” Especially in schools where City Year, Teach For America, etc. operate, it’s pretty standard practice to try to get 100 percent participation in media waivers, or as close to it as possible.

    2. Foreign Octopus

      I would say no.

      I worked as an ESL teacher with kids last year where the rules are slacker but, even then, social media pictures with the kids? Definitely a no-no.

      I suspect (and this is pure conjecture) that the easy acceptance of social media as a lifestyle has made it so some people just don’t think about the consequences of posting pictures with their students. I doubt it’s malicious, I just think that no one is thinking through the process.

    3. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)

      I’m not aware of specific laws on that, but based off of ethics, yeah, I think it’s often a bit questionable. I have a lot of teacher friends who post about their students, but they won’t post pictures. It’ll just be funny quotes like “Student 1: blah. Student 2: blah.” and a lot of “I love my students!” which I think are okay.

      That said, it’s also possible that certain schools do include some sort of social media consent form for parents to sign and that parents might be aware of what’s being posted (although my instinct is that they’re probably not). If the kids are high-school age, I’d let it go, tbh, because those kids are generally old enough to have their own social media profiles and might actually be encouraging the posting, but if your friends are teaching middle or elementary school, that’s much iffier. Depending on how your friends would take the feedback, it might be something to raise with them if they’re teaching younger grades.

      1. rosiebyanyothername

        Yeah, I think I may approach my friend who seems to be doing it the most often w/ elementary-age kids (agree that high schoolers are less of a big deal). This is on my friend’s personal pages, not any sort of account managed by the school. When I was a camp counselor in high school I had to adhere to a very strict “no campers on social media” rule, so I assumed the standard was the same for schools.

    4. Emmie

      This is not okay at all. I know a handful of teacher do this, but they shouldn’t. It is a FERPA violation IMO. This might also present safety issues for some kids – like foster kids or a kids who were crime victims. It may be okay to post pics where they are not personally identifiable- such as pictures of the backs of heads, blurring out faces, or of their hands / feet, or simply of projects with no names.

      1. Natalie

        It’s not necessarily a FERPA violation if they have written permission from the parents. There’s no way you’d know that from the outside.

        1. Emmie

          True. I wonder how well the school informs its teachers on the status of student’s FERPA waivers. I’m also not sure that signing a FERPA waiver allows teachers to post information / pictures on their personal accounts. That posting is probably beyond the scope of the waiver.

          1. Julianne

            My thought is that regardless of any specific regulations, posting stuff about specific kids (especially photos, but even anything identifiable) is not a great idea. It’s not rational, but as an experienced and certified classroom teacher, I’d have less patience for something like this coming from my City Year (I do work with CY and other AmeriCorps programs and am a National Service alum myself) than from another teacher.

          2. Thursday Next

            Yep, the waivers we’re asked to sign are for permission for the school to use photos. Not for individual teachers on their personal accounts. I don’t post pics of my kids on my own social media pages, so I’d be livid if a teacher did. And I’d make my anger known to the administration. (It’d be any parent’s right to do so, but we have specific privacy issues including ones relating to disabilities.)

            1. Thlayli

              Yes, any waivers are for the schools official pics not the teachers personal accounts. And like you I didn’t sign coz I don’t put pics of my kids online either. My cousin used to live with a guy who worked in online child protection and she didn’t tell me scary details but she did tell me plastering pics of your kids all over the Internet puts them at risk. The internet barely knows my kids exist and I want to keep it that way.

    5. Mimmy

      I work with adult students with a specific disability – while I haven’t been told specifically, I’m pretty sure posting pictures of our students would be considered a no-no. Now, if the agency itself posted pictures to its public pages, I think it’s okay to share that.

      Long story short, your friends may want to check with their employers to make sure this doesn’t violate any ethics policies.

    6. HannahS

      From my own friends that are teachers, I’d say that a few of the ones in private schools do put pictures and videos up, or funny conversations with names removed, but those in public schools never put one single thing. I think it’s pretty bad, ethically, unless all there are waivers for all of them.

    7. Humble Schoolmarm

      It kind of is where I am. We’re encouraged by our school board to tweet about special learning activities with a specific hash tag. We send a media waver home and know which parents haven’t signed and most of us try to stick to shots that avoid as many faces as possible. It would be considered a problem to single out a student or say anything negative, but “Humble Schoolmarm’s class learned about llama feeding today!” with a picture of Fergus Jr and Jane Jr’s backs would be very normal. (I’m not in the US, though)

      1. Teach

        Teacher here: I have different social media for different purposes. My Facebook is me, family, pets. I might occasionally post something about school that is very generic and positive i.e. “Happiness is students bringing you books to borrow from their personal libraries so that you can discuss them together!” Insta is mostly cat and recipe photos, LOL. My Twitter account is all school related – any student photos are kids with releases, 100% positive, and 100% aligned with a school goal – celebrating positive behaviors, sharing learning activities, tweeting quotes or learnings from professional reading or conferences I’m attending, re-tweeting links to articles related to my speciality, etc. This is really encouraged by our district and different buildings have hashtags that teachers are encouraged to use. The district has a central office person who manages district-level social media and retweets teachers hourly. They also employ high school social media interns who learn marketing and messaging.
        Honestly, Twitter helped me land my current job, which is an amazing fit. I cultivated a professional network, created a “brand” for my classroom and program, and showed evidence of professional learning. By the time I was in an interview with principals, they had a good idea of who I was and how I taught.

    8. Middle School Teacher

      My school would fire teachers for that. Not only is it a huge FOIPP violation, it’s extremely unprofessional. Our local union would be involved and the teacher would lose their certificate (which means no more teaching, anywhere).

    9. Thlayli

      Pretty sure that would be outright illegal in my country. And it’s unethical no matter where you are. At my kids Christmas carol concert parents weren’t even allowed take photos. We take child protection seriously.

    10. Artemesia

      I have worked in an institution for the developmentally disabled 50 years ago and even then there were strict privacy rules much like HIPAA today. I think it is totally inappropriate for someone to post pictures of kids they teach on line and am surprised there isn’t a rule about this made clear.

      I sometimes volunteer in an organization that provides free winter coats, hats, gloves, scarves and polartek to kids in the public schools in need. It is a great charity — the kids get to pick out their own stuff and the coats are as varied as the options in any store, so they don’t look like they have ‘charity coats.’ I see volunteers sometimes post these pictures of happy kids and their coats and have this same reaction.

  43. Free Meerkats

    I work for a municipality under a union contract, so we have no merit raises or annual bonuses. And it’s annual evaluation time. Even though there’s no money in the equation, it galls me that the highest rating possible is “Satisfactory.”

    I’m the highest performing, most knowledgeable person in our work group, I’m nationally known as an authority in our field, and I’m regularly headhunted; but I’m “Satisfactory.” My boss knows my value to the City, his boss knows, and I believe her boss has some inkling.

    No idea why it’s this way, but it is.

    I know, I’m whinging for no real reason. But it’s that kind of day.

    Merry Christmas, all!

    1. LCL

      Whinge away. It may help to put yourself in my shoes. I have to write those evaluations, in fact I have been working on them this week. I have to write them, even though I know they are meaningless-they don’t affect compensation or work assignments. I hate the process as much as you do. If it makes you feel any better, know that I know who the people are that work at your level, and those that perform at the Spiccoli level.
      Merry Christmas.

    2. Drama Mama

      Yep. I know the feeling. My company uses a 1-5 scale, but managers are not allowed to give 5s and they can only give each employee two 4s per year. Because (as they explained in a company wide email a few years ago when word of this policy leaked) “we need to leave room for improvement!”
      God forbid they actually TELL people who are doing a good job that they are valued!
      So basically, our managers are not allowed to tell us we are anything but mediocre. Good thing I work my butt off. I happen to really enjoy my job, so I don’t need external motivation to do it well, but I am sure it’s demoralizing and unmotivating for lots of people.

    3. Uncivil Engineer

      I’m a government worker, too, and our evaluations have no effect on our pay either. We don’t even have ratings on our evaluations anymore. You either get a regular evaluation or you’re on a PIP. Those are the only two options.

  44. Veronica

    I just want to express gratitude for understanding bosses. I found out today I have to have foot surgery (not unexpected, but I wasn’t expecting it to be scheduled for next week). I’m one of the only people on the schedule to work, eeeek! My grandboss took it in stride, just asked what days I needed off and told me not to worry about coverage, she’d take care of it. She also swung by my desk ten minutes ago to let me know she’d already arranged for me to be able to park closer to the building during my recovery. It was on my to do list, but it was so nice to just have it taken care of!

  45. Mimmy

    Separate question: Assistance with career decision-making – career coach vs. informational interviews

    As you’ve probably seen, I’ve been really struggling with making decisions about my career. The career advisor I mentioned in my other question above gave me an extensive list of internet resources. Those are very helpful, but I still feel a need to sit down with someone to help me talk out my ideas and concerns.

    I know career coaching and counseling can be hit-or-miss from what I’ve seen here, but they seem more qualified to help you talk through ideas, consider skills and personality traits, etc. On the other hand, talking with an actual professional in the areas can also be very helpful since you can ask more specific questions.

    So what do you guys think?

    1. Mimmy

      I should clarify: I am working at the moment, but the setting and even the duties aren’t a great fit despite positive feedback. I’ve always seen this job as a stepping stone only, but I’m chomping at the bits to get a general plan in place before I lose my mind or get roped into something I’m uncomfortable with.

    2. Overeducated

      I think the question is what you want to get out of it. “How should I think about job searching and career planning as a process” = career coach. “How can I find out what path is right for me by learning about actual jobs” = informational interviews. In my experience career coaches are more “know thyself” types who help you think through your own preferences and set goals for next steps. If you want to find out about whether a particular job or industry could be right for you, and learn more about it, then you want informational interviews with people in that field. Maybe both if you want both! I think a coach will encourage informational interviews anyway….

      I am a pretty introspective person and a big reader and planner, so I don’t find career coaching very helpful, but I like informational interviews because they go deeper than the “people in this field do x” level of information you can find easily online. And you can *ask* people things like “what should my next step be?” And “what positions are realistic to aim for at my career stage?” and get concrete ideas.

    3. alannaofdoom

      I have never worked “officially” with a career coach, but when I was laid off earlier this year a mentor of mine (who is a career coach professionally) spent a few hours on the phone with me talking through options and figuring out what particular jobs interested me and would be a good fit for my skills, and giving me feedback on how to present myself effectively in my resume and interviews. Because I wanted to stay in my field and I’d been something of a generalist, I didn’t do many informational interviews because I already had a good working knowledge of various roles and whether they’d work for me or not.

      So I think you summed it up very well – a career coach will be more focused on developing *your* skills and goals, whereas informational interviews will be more focused on getting specific answers. If you know exactly what you want to do and just need to find out what steps will get you there, informational interviews would probably be more useful (and maybe a coach to help you polish up your presentation if you think you’d benefit). If you’re not sure where you want to aim, working with a coach would yield better results than sitting down for informational interviews and trying to figure out “am I suited for your job?”

    4. Not So NewReader

      The little bit I have seen with career coaching, you need to find someone familiar with your arena who works with people around your rate of pay. Using myself as an example, it would be totally useless for me to go to a person who helps people making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. This would be like looking for a Ford at a BMW dealership. Fords are fine, but BMW dealers are not focused on selling Fords.
      So you find out what arenas they work in and what level of placements they work with.

  46. queen b

    Hey AAM readers,

    I recently had an interview for a job and I asked what the manager liked most about her team. She said that they “were all Christian, and had good morals.” Is this weird? I’m honestly very off put that she would mention it and is making me reconsider the job offer… I am wondering if I should inform the recruiter as well.

    1. Foreign Octopus

      Red flag to me.

      This would put me off 100%. I’d let the recruiter know just as a “hey, so, this thing happened.”

    2. JD

      This is very odd. I would not want to take the job personally. I worked for a company once that did not advertise as very religious but turned out being so. They were so very preachy about it I couldn’t take it….and I am Catholic!

      It is really not the appropriate answer to that question with some small exceptions.

    3. fposte

      Eeeyikes. I’m also guessing that if they’re big enough to have teams they’re big enough to be covered by EEOC law, and that if it had been a religious institution you’d have mentioned that fact. So eeyikes x 2.

    4. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)

      Yeesh. Yes, please do inform the recruiter so that said recruiter doesn’t waste the time of people who don’t fit her “standards.” I wouldn’t be surprised if a non-Christian or a member of a Christian sect she didn’t like (or someone of the same sect who just was okay with something she wasn’t) would have a very rough time there (if they were even hired–it sounds like there could already be some hiring discrimination there).

      1. The New Wanderer

        Agree with letting the recruiter know. That’s a highly inappropriate thing for a manager to say.

    5. Temperance

      Gross. I am kind of one of Those People, so I would have made a snarky comment about how I probably wouldn’t be a good fit, since I don’t believe that Christians are the only people with “good morals”. And yes, I would air quote that ish.

    6. Ann Furthermore

      Run away. Quickly. Run like the wind.

      Although I’m laughing to myself picturing my atheist husband at a Christmas party with this bunch…

    7. HannahS

      Yeah, it’s weird. Don’t work there. If you don’t fall in line by being Christian and having whatever they agree are “good morals” you’re going to be very uncomfortable.

    8. Ramona Flowers

      RUN AWAY NOW!

      I mean I happen to be a Christian and would still run a mile from a flag this big and red.

    9. SC Anonibrarian

      in a perfect world i’d thank her for being open about it, tell her i was a satanist, and withdraw my application. in reality i’m too conflict-averse for that so i’d just say thanks but no thanks.
      ugh.

    10. nep

      Oh, man. That would put me off for sure. I would not continue to pursue that one. Completely personal / individual choice, for sure, though.

    11. Not So NewReader

      Speaking as a church going person myself they call it “A Practicing Christian” for a reason. None of us are perfect.
      Yeah, I would step back from this one. We all put our pants on one leg at a time.

    12. AJ

      LOL! This is the interview equivalent of “Name one positive quality you respect about each other” A: His kids.

    13. Artemesia

      In my experience when that is considered a big plus you are in for rigid, moralistic and discriminatory behavior. Every person I have hired whose reference stressed his ‘high morals and good character’ has been a rigid difficult prig.

    14. Christian Apologist

      This certainly sounds like a “red flag” to me. The thing that really bothers me is that, in my humble experience, people who place such a great emphasis on being a “Christian” tend to be the most un-Christian in their actual behavior. They’re the kind of people who give Christians a bad name.

      When I hear people talking about being “Christian” it’s like code for “I’m a douchebag (but hey, it’s O.K. because God will forgive me.)

  47. Not So Super-visor

    My promotion went through! As of Christmas Day (due to our pay periods), I’ll be a manager. I guess I’ll have to come up with new punny handle to use for commenting.

  48. She's Leaving Home

    I’m a (female) young professional just a few years out of college. I’ve lucked out and landed an amazing job (with help from AAM!) with a quickly growing communications firm. We are moving into a huge new office space next month, and I get my own office! My boss is encouraging us to decorate our spaces, but I’m struggling to figure out what I want to put up! As a young woman, I’m cautious of anything that will strike clients as too young, cutesy, or unserious. (Not that those are bad attributes! Just not what I want to put forward in the office.) Any advice on places to look for cool but professional office decor?

    1. Emmie

      You can always watch your bosses to see what they put up. Corporette, a blog, has office tips for a conservative office. Heavenly has some blogs with office decor. You may have more relaxed rules b/c of your field, but congrats and good luck!

    2. TCO

      I’d go for lamps, plants, framed art, maybe a comfortable chair or a bookshelf in the corner if you have space. Ikea would be a good starting point if you live near one; they have a good selection of modern designs at reasonable prices.

      I think you can make your art and furnishings reflect your interests and style while avoiding a “young” vibe. Aim for a semi-consistent color scheme (bold, muted, or black and white, for instance). Use boxes, organizers, etc. as a way to add style while containing clutter. Since you’re concerned about looking youngish, keep personal photos and the like limited–it’s okay to have a family/pet photo or two, but don’t line your desk with seven photos of your friends. Use frames or wrapped canvas art (again, Ikea would be a good starting point) rather than taping unframed items directly to your wall. One way I like to decorate is to use photos I’ve taken while traveling (of scenes, not people). It’s a way to have items that feel personal to me while still looking professional.

      It’s also okay to take your time decorating; in the meantime you can see how your coworkers are decorating and take cues from that. Workplace culture around office decor varies a lot–some offices welcome Christmas-type lights and concert posters, others will be more formal, some will tend towards a lot of personal items and others will keep things more neutral. Congrats on your new job!

    3. Temperance

      So I went in the total opposite direction of you and my office is full of Funkos (including a beautiful new Rey!). That being said, a funky calendar is fine, photos of your pets/partner/friends are fine, etc.

    4. Not So NewReader

      When in doubt less is more. Start by picking a couple well chosen things. If you can get creative find things tangent to the company’s work. If the company is old, old maybe a couple of pieces of antique advertising for the company?

      For me, my preference is to get all the furniture in place first, then decorate around the furniture. This means I don’t end up with a large picture right where I have to put the bookcase, because there is no other place to put a bookcase that size.

    5. Artemesia

      I would get art posters or prints from a local museum and put those up. Pick something you love — obviously avoid anything that might be offensive, but you wouldn’t do that anyway. Art is often a good conversation piece and it is pleasant to work with things you like to look at.

  49. Thursday Next

    Interview attire question. I’m currently a grad student in a STEM field and I have an on-campus interview for a post-doc position next month. So, I’m getting flown out to the university to give a research talk and meet with a bunch of people there. The university is located in the northern US, where winter high temperatures might be in the single digits (F). I have an interview outfit, but is it ok to wear a LL Bean winter coat, instead of a pea coat? I have a pea coat, but it’s more for “the high today is 30F” not “today’s high temp is 0F”. Since I’m flying there and it’s a 2 night visit I’m not going to bring both winter coats. Or, because it’s academia will no one really care?

    1. Rusty Shackelford

      It’s academia *and* it’s in the north. Everybody else is probably going to be wearing a “real” winter coat too.

      1. Corky's wife Bonnie

        Exactly. As long as your interview attire is professional, your outerwear shouldn’t matter.

    2. Science!

      I’m in academia (Post-doc) in STEM in the northeast. We will not care, wear your warm coat. In fact at my institution, we would prefer you wear safe and comfortable shoes as well since it can be dangerous to walk on icy sidewalks.

      Actually I live in LLBean land, so if you wore that coat I’d happily comment on it and point out the outlet store down the street.

      1. Thursday Next

        Thanks. Yeah, I’ll be wearing black, insulated ankle boots with a good tread so I should be safe enough on the shoe front. (I grew up in a similarly cold area so I was always taught to have the appropriate clothes to be comfortable for an hour outside, because a tow truck can take a while to come even in a city and trains can be delayed).

    3. TCO

      As a northerner, I can assure you that function trumps form here in the winter! No one will blink twice if you’re wearing a parka; they will probably be wearing them too, especially in a field like academia. This is especially true if you’re coming from a warmer climate and they know that–they’ll be sympathetic. Since you’ll likely be walking around campus, it’s also totally fine to wear boots, a hat, scarf, mittens, or whatever else you need outside. We all understand that it’s a matter of survival!

    4. Yup

      Totally fine! Someone I know who teaches at UChicago once told me it would even be fine to turn up in snowboots. I did – though changed into normal shoes indoors. If anything, the SC be impressed that you adapted to local conditions.

      Good luck!

    5. Ann Furthermore

      Yeah, no one will care how it looks, and a coat/jacket that doesn’t look warm enough may spark conversation as well. I was recently in Boston and one evening when leaving the office, the woman I was working with on the client side looked at the light jacket I’d brought with me and said, “That’s not a pretty light jacket — are you going to be warm enough?” I told her that the temperature in Denver (where I live) was about what it was in Boston, so I had thought the jacket would be OK, but then realized when I got there that because there’s so much more moisture in the air from the ocean, it felt much colder outside, which I hadn’t considered.

    6. Thursday Next

      Thanks everyone for the reassurance! I grew up in a a similarly cold area so I have all the appropriate outerwear, and I’ll be wearing insulated black ankle boots with a good tread, I was just a little worried about the coat as formality in academia (especially as a woman in a male dominated field) can be a fought topic.

    7. Cassandra

      Speaking as a Frozen North denizen, yes, please wear that winter coat! It shows good judgment, and means your interviewers won’t be worried sick about you.

    8. Thursday Next

      Hey, are you new to posting? Because this has been my user name for a bit. Just want to avoid confusion!

      1. Thursday Next

        I meant new to posting on this site with this name. I tend to rush when I’m typing on mobile devices—sorry if I seemed brusque! =)

  50. Kat

    I have a really anxiety-causing problem. I am the senior member of a team (a team lead). M manager is above me and below me are my team colleagues (at present I am the only one in my role on my team). This week my colleague contacted me to say she feels like there’s a problem between her and my manager, and it’s causing her extreme stress. She’s pregnant, so has been worried about the effect on her health plus work. She felt she couldn’t say ‘anything right’ and there was tension. She essentially wanted me to broach this with our manager (she works at home so perhaps also an element of this has come into play). As we are friends as well as colleagues, and as I try to do the best for my team, I said yes. Awkward extra part: the three of us used to be ‘best work friends’ until my manager became my manager and now of course she can’t do that any more, and my colleague went to work from home. So it’s become a different dynamic and things have had to change to adapt. I think it’s been hard for us all in different ways.

    So I went to my manager to tell her this after I’d weighed up what to say. It was INCREDIBLY awkward for me as I like them both and as I say we were all friends before, went out for dinner, etc. My manager didn’t blame me for being the messenger but she was obviously taken aback and didn’t have a clue this was how my colleague felt. She was clearly upset and after our meeting left the room for a while. My colleague wants to meet in the new year to sort things out, and she asked me to be there too to make it less daunting. I agreed, and my manager said that’s fine with her but not to do it if it’ll cause me anxiety. Which it will, but I mean, I feel I have to as my colleague asked and I know them both. It’s a small team and I want to help them both if I can.

    My question/issue is that I don’t know exactly what to do in this ‘mediator’ role. I’m my manager’s direct report and I’m senior to my colleague (although she used to be senior to me, oddly!) so I can’t really *do* anything, but I am happy to be a third person. I just don’t know how to approach it? Do I just sit there and hope it all goes fine, or am I supposed to help things along and act as a chairperson? I have no idea and I don’t think it’s anything any of us are used to. I’m used to helping colleagues and juniors but have no experience in actual people management except a management qualification. I’m mature and professional so I hope that’ll come through, but… I’m so unsure. I feel I gave my manager this to worry about over Xmas but I had to tell her. Ugh. I suppose I could *not* go to the meeting, but my colleague knows me well and I don’t know if she’d be OK with someone else there who isn’t that familiar with us all.

    1. LCL

      Whew. Take a step back. This whole circle of feelings made my head hurt and I’m not sure I understand it all. I wouldn’t go to the meeting. You have done your part in raising your friend’s concerns to your manager. I understand your misgivings; mediators are supposed to be neutral. Your colleague reports to you and you both report to the manager, so you aren’t a neutral person.

      If you really want to help your friend/coworker, find some time to meet with her and identify specific examples of what has got her so stressed. Help her sort out the real from the smoke. Then she will be better prepared for the meeting.

      1. Kat

        I don’t really have any feelings except just general concern that I’m not doing the right thing. I mean, obviously I want the situation resolved, but ultimately I know it’s between them. I didn’t put across clearly enough about the team organisation, sorry: we both report to the manager directly, it’s just that I am a more senior member of the team. So my colleague isn’t my direct report, but I am a rung up the ladder from her. She said she didn’t feel good about bringing it up with the manager and I guess that is why she asked me. I was worried about her stress levels with the pregnancy especially being a factor. I probably should have said no and told her to do it herself, but I have a ‘people pleaser’ streak and also she’s my friend.

        I think you’re right and I should say I’m not going to the meeting. It’s not till January so I can give it some thought, but yeah, I think this is the only way we can all be professional about it.

        1. Anony

          Don’t go to the meeting. It sounds like it should be a one on one meeting between the two of them. Why is a mediator necessary at all? If there should be a mediator, then HR should be brought in, not you.

          1. Pollygrammer

            This. I understand your sympathies, but there’s no way you come out of this with better relationships than you started.

          2. Kat

            We don’t have HR because we’re too small, so that’s not an option for us. It wasn’t said exactly that I’d be mediating but I just didn’t know how else I could categorise it. I think if I do go I’ll just be observing, but then there seems little point in going at all. I’ll maybe speak to my manager when we’re back at work.

    2. fposte

      In most situations, I really think people should talk to their bosses on their own; I think your team member should have done that directly with your boss, and I think she should meet with the boss without you. I don’t think it gets you much to pull out now, but I think the reason why you’re trying to figure out your role in the meeting is that you don’t really have a role in the meeting. (I also think this is running a high risk of falling into a friendship model that’s not going to carry well to work.) I would tell your team member that you’re there to support her but that you’ll be expecting her to carry the water of raising and discussing the issues with your boss. If there’s a situation where it could be useful for you to clarify or bring your own knowledge, that’s fine, but otherwise I’d stay in the background, and if your team member wants to bring you in more strongly encourage her to handle it herself.

      1. Kat

        Yes, that makes sense. I was a bit caught in the middle, really. My manager has been really good at stepping back from friendships since she got promoted (I miss her, but I get it!) and it might be that my colleague is finding it hard to adapt to this new relationship and thinks there’s tension when really my manager is just doing her job and being less ‘friendly’.

        I agree she should have raised it directly. She had talked about going to someone else if I didn’t feel OK with it, so partly I wanted to ensure she didn’t put someone else in that position. I feel I’m old enough and senior enough to deal with this awkwardness, if nothing else. But I might reconsider going to the meeting.

        1. Anony

          I don’t think mentioning the problem to your boss was wrong. There was an issue that she wasn’t aware of and now she knows. But from here out, I think adding another person raises the stakes instead of lowering them. It makes it into a BIG DEAL and implies that your coworker feels the need to be protected from her boss, which doesn’t sound like what is going on here.

          1. Pollygrammer

            Especially because it sounds like you haven’t been witness to ANY evidence of their dynamic being a problem, you’ve just been told about it.

            1. Kat

              I have seen one exchange that was super awkward and took me by surprise. I was copied in on a message that was just not a great conversation. I think it might have been this that was the trigger for my colleague speaking to me (it was the day after that she contacted me). But other than that, as my colleague works from home, I don’t get to see or hear what they say to each other.

          2. Kat

            I don’t think she needs to be protected either. But when she asked I was a bit surprised, and I was like ‘yeah sure, whatever you need!’ because I wanted her to be reassured.

            1. lychee

              > I wanted her to be reassured.

              But why? You really need to step back from mixing up being a senior colleague and a friend.

              1. Kat

                Because she is my friend. I’m not responsible for her work or her professional development. In this situation I realise I can’t be neutral, and that’s fine, but I still care about her as a friend (which is indeed why I have to not be at the meeting). Plus, I didn’t really know what to do or how to react when she did say it. This has never happened to me before.

        2. Reba

          I think your first paragraph here makes a lot of sense (adjustment to the friendship). Have you suggested that to the working from home colleague?

          If I were you I would try to gently disentangle myself from this situation altogether. Colleague’s relationship with Boss is her own. Don’t do the meeting, be supportive but boring/not engaging if Colleague talks to you about it.

          If nothing drastic has happened between colleague and manager (doesn’t sound like it from your description) I really can’t see why Colleague is seeking an intermediary–you sortof make sense as a mutual friend, but somebody, anybody else? I think you can offer your support and encouragement to your colleague but don’t make this into more of a big fraught deal than it needs to be (which I feel your participation as a referee? mediator? cheerleader? would do). Good luck! You sound like a kind and conscientious coworker.

          1. Kat

            Thanks, I try my best! I tend to put others before myself (not in a ‘I’m so selfless’ way, in a way that means I don’t take good care of my own needs) and so I probably did that here a bit too. I think I will try to get out of this meeting. I’m glad I posted here because I can’t speak to anyone else at work about it and it’s been hard to see clearly what to do.

            I met my colleague for a coffee recently (nothing to do with this, she’s just nearby and we’re friends) and she did indicate that she was finding it hard to get used to having our mutual friend as her new manager. I found it hard too for a while until I came to terms with it, but then I see my manager every day whereas my colleague doesn’t often come to the office. It must be isolating for her.

            1. Not So NewReader

              I hope you smile in that knowing kind of way. It’s these types of situations that taught me to know where my lines are and to clearly state my boundaries. It was not without discomfort and worry. Ironically it was BECAUSE of the extra discomfort and worry that I started drawing boundaries.

              While you sort where your lines are, hang on to the fact that you CAN say, “Would you give me a day to think about your request and I will call you back tomorrow?” This helps to avoid the automatic YES that seems to fall out of our mouths. You have bought yourself some time to ask a few questions of yourself:

              Do I need to be involved here?
              Can I contribute anything to the process?
              What, if anything am I actually willing to do here?

              I think you have nailed the problem because she has less personal interaction she does not see how things have changed for you, her and your boss. It’s pretty normal to grieve a friendship that seems to have slipped away. OTH, being a boss is a very important relationship in life. It’s our bosses who make sure we have food on our tables and a roof over our heads. So that boss-employee relationship has to take precedence over any friendship. We all have to eat and have shelter.
              You can also point out that it is a loving/friendship gesture to put the friendship to one side for the time being and make sure that the person keeps rocking their job so their basic needs at home are met.

              1. Kat

                It has been a weird few months because of the change in dynamics, definitely. The other woman who is at the same level as me in the team is currently on maternity leave, so I’ve had that professional loss as well to deal with as I pretty much have been the only support for my manager in her new role, too. I’ve definitely been sad about losing my friend, even though I am happy for her, especially as a couple of other friends moved away this year too, and I don’t have a massive social circle.

                I think the people-pleasing streak in me took over in this instance, plus the fact I honestly didn’t know what I was supposed to do, so went with my instinct. At least now I know for next time and can try to extricate myself from this upcoming meeting.

  51. Master Bean Counter

    Asking for a friend…
    How bad does it look it you shoo your boss out of your office while reaching for your airborne after he tells you that he caught what ever has taken out your coworker for two days? Take into consideration that the coworker is back and coughing so loud that people in the next country can hear?
    Also does it help things if you send out a very detailed email in hopes of avoiding having to sit in a meeting with both of them?

    1. JD

      Eh assuming boss isn’t a stuffy one with no sense of humor it is fine. I have a pretty friendly relationship with my boss and I have more than once handed him a piece of gum when he was reading over my shoulder. ha

    2. paul

      I’ve done it and don’t care what it looks like.

      I get sick enough from my kids, I don’t need it from my boss!

    3. fposte

      Is this a planned meeting or are you trying to forestall a meeting that seems to be hovering on the horizon? I think it’s A-OK to email in hope of forestalling the latter; the former will depend on your relationship with your boss.

      1. Master Bean Counter

        Thankfully the boss has a great sense of humor. And the email was an attempt to actually cancel the reschedule of a meeting that was supposed to happen this afternoon. But we’re all going home at noon and the issue needed to be addressed anyway. And the email worked, mostly because boss doesn’t want to be in a meeting with coworker either at this point.

      1. fposte

        I think MBC meant “very detailed on the subject matter of the meeting,” not “very detailed about her dislike of rhinovirus.”

        1. Master Bean Counter

          Exactly. It was basically just showing the leg work and explaining the reasoning behind the numbers. Which is exactly what would have been done in the meeting anyway. Why we have to have a meeting on this issue every month is a whole other subject.

  52. Boredatwork

    TLDR: My co-worker keeps talking about his vasectomy – HELP

    I have a co-worker and I’m at a loss as to how to react to a situation:

    He had a very personal medical procedure done and keeps talking about it. I’m female, he’s male and the procedure involves reproductive choices. We are pretty good “co-worker” friends but guys I just can’t handle this. How do I respond?!

    The last interaction we had was after I avoided him for an entire week after the procedure was “completed”. He wanted to discuss how he was “doing” and I literally had to hide my stifled laughter. He’s extremely sensitive, and I’m worried I damaged our work relationship by laughing but come on! I don’t want to discuss my co-workers balls, I just don’t. I also have a rather dark sense of humor, and personally find this life choice (and decision to broadcast it) hilarious.

    I can’t use Allison’s standard, you’re making me uncomfortable, because he would be DEEPLY offended. We work closely together and I rely on having a solid collaborative relationship to do my job effectively. I’ll see him again after the holidays. What you I say?!

    1. Anony McAnonface

      “I know it’s my own weird quirk, Brad, but I make it a habit not to discuss my coworker’s genitals. I know it’s hard to believe that in this the year of our lord 2018 I don’t want to talk about your balls, but I’m old-fashioned like that.”

      (I don’t actually recommend saying this)

      1. SC Anonibrarian

        i totally feel like if he’s broadcasting his ‘snip’ to the world then that is a PERFECT thing to say.

    2. JD

      How could there even be that much to talk about? He had it done, iced it down and now here we are. Even if it was a non testicle related procedure I wouldn’t want to hear this much about it.

      1. Boredatwork

        You have no idea – he wanted to talk about it before, at a lot. I thought that if I gave it a week he’d let it die but he keeps bringing it up. Now I’ve straight up laughter at him.

    3. Amtelope

      Can you say “Dude, TMI”? Or “Wow, I should probably not be hearing the details of this”? (I would be tempted to say “Please don’t tell me about your balls,” but I realize that isn’t the response you’re looking for.)

      1. Boredatwork

        I’ve tried to just steer the conversation away from it, but it’s all he’s wanted to talk about for a month. I also work in an office where we “share” a lot of stuff.

        My main problem is, I laughed at someone who is very sensitive about something most men would keep very private.

    4. Mr. Demeanor

      Is it making you uncomfortable? If it is, anyone who is a friend, work or otherwise, should respect that. If they can’t, then your relationship very well might change but you have a right to set boundaries and limits.

      Here’s what I’d do. If he brings up the subject you wait until he pauses, be silent for a few seconds, and then change the subject to something entirely different. If he tries to bring it back up – you can say “I’m sorry, I just don’t want to discuss this topic. Can we please move on from this?” Repeat as necessary.

    5. Red Reader

      Hopefully he just won’t bring it up again after the holidays? But if he does, maybe a frank “Look, dude, I think you’re awesome and we work really well together, and part of the reason for that is that we have conversational boundaries, and I’d like it if one of those conversational boundaries was to not discuss our individual sex lives or decisions pertaining to same. It’s not you, I’m glad you’re happy with your decision, but your pants are an area where I cannot be your discussion buddy.”

      1. Boredatwork

        This is literally the exact thing I want to say, but I’m worried I’ll hurt his feelings. But I think I just have to suck it up and say I’m not comfortable discussing his sex life.

          1. Boredatwork

            Honestly who knows, I would imagine he’s thinking about what I said and stewing over it. I have apparently “hurt his feelings before”.

            If I didn’t have to work extremely closely with him I’d worry less, but I laughed at a sensitive coworker because he was discussing a ridiculous topic.

    6. JoAnna

      if he brings it up — “I’m super squeamish about medical details so I’d really rather not discuss this. Thanks for understanding!” And change the subject.

      Or, “Wow, that’s a lot more personal than I’m really comfortable discussing with you. Let’s talk about X instead.”

      1. Boredatwork

        That was the reason for my inappropriate laughter. It’s just so personal. I’ll try being more direct.

    7. Anony

      Well, hopefully he will be healed enough after the holidays that he won’t bring it up again. If he does then you probably have to let it be awkward. Which can you deal with more: listening to him talk about it or offending him by telling him to stop. Because I think that those are your choices. Personally, I would let him feel offended.

    8. Interviewer

      If you can’t say something for fear of offending him, and changing the subject doesn’t work, I’d take it straight to HR – especially if he’s talking to other people about it, too. Insisting on talking about your genitals at work is just straight up nonsense.

      1. Boredatwork

        This would be a huge overavtion in my industry. Other than wanting to talk about it he’s been respectfully vague. He’s been no more graphic than the woman I work with who had a C-Section.

    9. Lissa

      Focus on the fact that you don’t want to hear *medical* details, rather than the fact that it’s reproductive in nature, is my advice, even if that’s not true. If you make it about “you’re talking about your sex life” he’s likely to be extremely abashed and embarrassed, which you say you want to avoid doing (if you didn’t care then sure go the “stop talking about your balls” way!)

      Some people, even me until recently, would not realize there’s a difference between saying “I just had my gallbladder out” and “I had a vasectomy” for squick level for some people, because for some of us, there isn’t! (then again I tell my friends I’m hoping to get spayed soon, so you know, different strokes. And no I would NOT do this at work!)

      Being squicked by medical stuff is less likely to make him feel like he has done something wrong (and to forestall the “well he should feel like that” some people might think, Boredatwork specifically says she does not want to offend him.)

      1. Not So NewReader

        This is what I would do. “Sorry, I can’t get into talking about any surgeries. I get an upset stomach when I try.”

        I have a friend who does not get it when I say stuff like this, so I repeat the exact same set of words while he continues talking. Sometimes I repeat it three or four times before he hears me. “NO, I really mean it and I am asking you to respect that.” Only my tone of voice is more like a statement than a question.

    10. Temperance

      lol so I might have said something like “STOP TALKING ABOUT YOUR DONG, FRANCIS” but I wouldn’t even know what to do.

      1. Chaordic One

        This reminds me of a certain mail co-worker who had a certain body part pierced and who kept wanting to show it it to me.

        No, Fergus, I do not want to see your piercing. If you like it, fine, but I don’t want to see it! No! No! No!

  53. Sour Grapes (for this)?

    So, I’m trying not to be annoyed by this and could use some tough love! My boss got all the other employees at my level (senior managers) personal gifts worth about $500. He did not get me a gift at all – because he took me to an expensive dinner a couple weeks go.

    Dinner with the boss is…really not a treat. I mean, the restaurant was lovely and I do appreciate him being generous in taking me, but it was a required business event (taking time away from my family that evening and requiring me to spend personal funds on extra child care hours) during which the conversation was entirely work-related. Meals with the boss are incredibly stressful because he has all sorts of weird food issues, that involve micromanaging what other people are eating and being extremely judgmental if anyone has bread, wants dessert, etc. I get through these events by reminding myself it isn’t a personal discretionary meal that’s supposed to be fun, it’s a work performance activity with particular behavioral expectations. And that’s fine, work is full of those types of obligations – but it isn’t a “gift,” regardless of the cost of the food and drink being served.

    I should just get over it, right? My boss otherwise is great, very supportive and an excellent mentor; I guess I’m just feeling a little underappreciated and left out.

    1. WellRed

      Did he specifically say that’s why he didn’t get you a gift? That totally sucks, but also, yes, you will have to get over it because there is really nothing you can do that I can think of.

      1. Sour Grapes (for this)?

        Yes, he said the dinner was my gift. (He actually said [details changed of course] “I wasn’t going to get you a separate gift because I took you to dinner at the FancyPants Inn last week, but I was thinking of getting Arya, Sansa and Bran a platinum tea cozy – what do you think?” But the dinner wasn’t even paid by him personally, it was paid (or at least reimbursed).

        Oh well, I will get over it. I don’t need a platinum tea cozy, even if I would have enjoyed having one and appreciated the thought, and at least I got face-time with the boss which is valuable even if the surrounding food issues were stressful.

        1. Pollygrammer

          He doesn’t sound like the most rational guy. I would be annoyed, but I wouldn’t get my feelings hurt.

        2. Bostonian

          Ugh. His reasoning is a load of crap, but maybe he’s worried about optics? (He gives you a gift AND takes you out to an expensive dinner, and everyone else *just* gets expensive gift) I don’t agree with that assessment at all, but I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt here.

        3. Thlayli

          It sounds like he thinks the dinner is the BETTER gift. He’s wrong of course, but maybe it will help you feel better if you remember he gave you what he thought was the best gift coz he thinks you’re so awesome.

        4. Artemesia

          ‘I thought that was a business dinner.’ But beyond that nothing to be done and yeah I’d be pissed too.

    2. Goya de la Mancha

      You should get over it, but mostly because there’s nothing that can be done. I think your feelings on the matter are spot on.

    3. Sloane Kittering

      Yeah blergh but hopefully the fact that he only took you out for one on one networking, out of everyone at your level, means that he really wants to invest in your career? A one time gift is far less valuable than personal assistance in your development, nominating you for a raise or promotion, etc?

      1. Sour Grapes (for this)?

        Yes, that’s a great way of looking at it. I know he is starting to view me as a right-hand person, even if the other senior managers are technically at the same level as me. His time is very valuable and he invested that in me. Thanks for the change in perspective! I feel much better thinking of it that way.

        1. Reba

          I agree with SK! It does sound like your boss is a bit of a clod when it comes to gift giving, but at the same time (at least in his logic) he is singling you out for something valuable.

  54. Madam Anon

    I’m nearing the end of my 2nd month in my new job at a nonprofit and my boss/management team is driving me batty.

    I don’t know how to be a good Executive Admin when our staff:

    A. Doesn’t answer email for days, then rushes around in a panic at an impending meeting and getting things together.

    B. Management has so many meetings that it’s virtually impossible to get direction on what to do or move forward, particularly since I don’t attend those meetings.

    C. My boss is gone for a large chunk of the day, then wants to talk shop and plan things the last hour I’m here. (Meaning nothing gets planned)

    D. My boss is not computer savvy at all. Frustrating when she gets on me technology wise for something out of my control.

    I would love some ideas on how to combat this, but mainly just venting.

    Happy Holidays to all!

    1. fposte

      Well, that sounds like a fun start! Some random thoughts in case the venting isn’t enough on its own:

      A) accept that’s the org norm and plan around it

      B) identify some key meetings and ask if you can sit in

      C) set aside the last hour of the day as planning time for the next and come with an agenda

      D) swear silently and blame the software out loud

  55. ab15

    Hey all,
    Wondering how to thank the president of my company for our christmas bonuses. They were pretty low, but my direct boss wants us all to send him an email thanking him and cc her on it – any generic language I could use would be appreciated!!

    1. Sloane Kittering

      This seems weird to me, by the way – very feudal. But I’d go for something vague, like, Dear Boss, happy holidays to you and your family (even better if you know his religion). I wanted to express my appreciation for the end of year bonus, it really makes a difference to us. All the best, ab15

  56. Nervous Accountant

    Guys I’m all over the place rn

    -my title changed to supervisor of bla bla bla so….yay?

    -I’m reviewing returns, no more tax preparation for next season :(

    -I have a coworker who can be pretty annoying (Annoying Cw or AC for short). But I have another coworker who’s just an obnoxious prick (Obnoxious Coworker or OC) and he was hating on AC/AC’s’s lifestyle, but AC got OC as Secret Santa. I told him to just not get him anything bc he’s an ass, but maybe I should have MMOB

    -My last day before going on vacation. I’m happy to be on vacation but I will really miss some of my coworkers while I’m gone, but yay vacation! I’ve been coming in early to get everything out of the way and make sure nothing happens while I’m gone. I have a better team this year who can help handle if anything happens (unlike last year). Fingers crossed!

    -It’s our last day before xmas break and we did a secret santa. I also got gifts for a few other people–got in to the spirit at the last minute. I think I went overboard with my gift but it was worth it!

    -my mgr gave me a gift, that was pretty awesome. My secret Santa got me a lovely gift.

    -my coworker is wearing a sweater with cats wearing a Santa hat and the sweater lights up. I love it so much.

    Merry Christmas & happy holidays everyone!

      1. Nervous Accountant

        She told me it’s available at Walmart, I can’t do anything on my computer but I can try to find a link on my phone

  57. Decima Dewey

    I have been an acting branch manager since mid-July. And HR keeps sending stuff regarding my branch to the previous branch manager. Then, instead of putting the documents in interoffice mail or emailing me that she’s doing so, previous branch manager insists on phoning me. What she calls about is never urgent, and some of her questions indicate she’s not reading emails from others (she didn’t know Achsah, who used to work at this branch, was returning to University City branch. This was mentioned in the most recent Staff on the Move email).

    For the present, I have to take the calls. She’ll have input on my performance review. Once I’ve had that review, I plan to tell my staff to not put the calls through to me and take a message.

  58. Danae

    So I posted a little bit ago about having a contract job that I love, but also having an opportunity for an FTE job that I’d take a 20% pay cut for but that would be much more stable going forward.

    Well, I’m still in the running for the FTE position…but I just got a -really- nice raise on the contract job. I’m now in “this is too much money to walk away from” territory, and if the contract lasts for the next year (which it is very likely to) I will be in a really good financial place at the beginning of 2019.

    And I do love the job I’m doing, and both the company I work for and the contracting agency…and what I’m doing now is serious resume building stuff. So unless the offer from the folks with the FTE job offer me scads of cash, I’m going to stick with the contract position.

    It feels weird, but it also feels right, and I think I have a real chance at a full time position here eventually. And in the meantime, I’m going to pay off all this debt and get my finances back in order.

  59. Ruth (UK)

    I started my new job 3 weeks ago and I think it’s going ok but it’s all very confusing! I’m in an admin role at a university and I am feeling a little overwhelmed by everything at the moment. I realise I can’t go into a new job and just know how to do everything but in the moment(s) I just spend a lot of time feeling a bit stupid.

    On the upside, I have generally had good feedback so far. Though I’m also having a little bit of what I suppose is ‘impostor syndrome’ as everyone seems convinced I am really good at using excel. I would say I know the most basic usage of excel but nothing above that.

    Anyway, I’m feeling a little ‘homesick’ for my old job even though this one is better in many ways (more pay, more holiday, more interesting, more opportunity to advance, etc). I suppose I just miss feeling like I knew what I was doing, and the familiarity etc. But my old boss was a minor jerk (nothing compared to a lot of posts here but generally disliked and not very pleasant) and so far my new boss seems the opposite of him. I know 3 weeks is a short amount of time to judge, but I’ve got the strong impression that others in the department see her as highly competent and she seems generally well-liked etc.

    I also underestimated how tired I’d be from being in a new job – I guess it takes a lot of effort to be somewhere totally new/different. However, as mentioned earlier in this post, I have notably more leave than I got before, and that includes the whole uni being shut (paid) from now until 2nd January.

    I’ve also so far managed to successful navigate a departmental holiday gathering-thing and an xmas meal without anything dreadful happening, which is always good.

    1. Sloane Kittering

      There’s always a wistfullness when you go from being the confident Big Fish in the Small Pond to the reverse, but in six months you’ll be just as confident and comfortable in your new duties and you’ll all those other perks to boot. Hang in there! Also: some folks are just terrible at excel (or word, or outlook). It can be correlated with age. You are indeed a wizard to them, so just accept it.

      1. Ruth (UK)

        Obviously I’m familiar with the big fish/small pond analogy but for some reason just now, it seems more specifically a perfect description I guess.

        I went from a small company (10 people) with this set up: director, manager, senior admin, 7 other admins (of which I was one). The only role I could have realistically progressed into was senior admin, but the current one was unlikely to leave any time in the next decade or so. The hierarchy was linear as there was only us.

        Now I’m in a university with multiple departments and there are admin staff, academic staff, tech people, maintenance people, students (of which there are undergrads, and post grads and so on), and an HR department and so on and so on.

        So yeah, it feels like I’ve been scooped out of a pond where I guess I was the same size fish as most of the others, with a couple bigger ones about, and been dumped in an ocean filled not just with fish, but all sorts of other creatures too!

    2. Ramona Flowers

      The end of one job and the beginning of another are always going to feel different. And yes, it is hugely tiring starting a new job! Hang in there!

  60. AvonLady Barksdale

    Because it’s around the holidays and there’s a lot to reflect on, I have to share a good office story.

    Earlier this week, I was hit by a car while crossing the street. I am fine (bruised and achey, and my meds are starting to give me a low-grade headache, but otherwise fine) and my dog is fine. But I am very grateful for my job right now. It has its issues and its moments, but when I came into work later that morning, everyone was super concerned and supportive (I had emailed one co-worker who spread the news, which was basically, “Holy s**t, AvonLady got hit by a car!”). I was a little flaky for a couple of days, but that was ok. And more than that, my company provides excellent benefits; I met my insurance deductible when I injured my knee, so I won’t have any out of pocket expenses.

    My boyfriend and his friend’s all thought I was crazy for even going in that afternoon, but I needed to get back to normal and I needed to show all of these supportive people that I was, indeed, doing ok. After the last, hellish place I worked, this is such a lovely change.

    1. Corky's wife Bonnie

      Wow, glad you are okay! I’m sure your co-workers would have been understanding if you took the rest of the day off though, heck, I would have! Take care of yourself.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        I took most of the next day off, and what work I did do, I did from home. It was the right move, since the day after was MUCH worse than the day of! Also, I forgot to mention that I got to the office just in time for a free (and excellent) lunch. :)

        1. Purplesaurus

          That’s usually how it goes, for me anyway (day after being worse). I’m glad you’re on the mend and that your workplace is supportive. It’s sad that the latter isn’t always a given.

        2. Not So NewReader

          Shock is a very good pain killer. The fact that you started feeling the pain kind of telegraphs that you are working through the shock.

          I remember falling off a motorcycle at 60 mph. I had NO pain for at least 12 hours. Then the pain came…sigh.
          I am glad that this was not worse than it could have been, but I am sorry and upset to hear this happened to you.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      Also, I just realize that I put an apostrophe in “friend’s” and I’m kicking myself and maybe I’m not as “better” as I thought…

      1. Sloane Kittering

        It makes me sad to think that we live in a country where people’s whole lives can be thrown into disarray by a minor accident like this, if their jobs are NOT kind and caring (such as by offering leave, or medical insurance, or medical insurance that isn’t crap).

    3. anon for this one

      Aw, I’m glad you’re okay (and so is the pupper). I’m feeling kind of the opposite right now about anyone here giving a rat’s patoot, and it really does make a huge difference.

    4. AnotherAlison

      Glad you are okay, but I am somewhat obsessed with brain injuries right now, so be sure your noggin is okay, even if you feel fine! A woman I work with got a concussion in a sports accident, didn’t tell anyone, but acted like a total spaz for months. It would have been so much better for her (health and work rep) to have taken the time off and recovered.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        Thanks! I’m ok. I lack attention to detail on a good day, and the adrenaline and stress have made things a little worse than usual. I also have effed up sinuses and eustachian tubes, so more Flonase will help the headache. I already have a follow-up appointment where I will make sure they triple-check my head (which I didn’t hit when I fell– though I know that’s not necessarily an indicator that I didn’t do any trauma).

  61. Incognito

    My new job turns out to be not so great for me. Part of it is still suffering from burnout and not being fully recovered from the toxic environment I left, and part of it is a difficult GrandBoss. The commute is also awful, which I did not expect because I live only 4 miles away. I like the company. I like my other co-workers. I’m disappointed it’s not working out.

    I told myself I’d stick it out for a year, but I think the best thing to do for my health regardless of any other issues is to cut my working hours down below 30. The best way I can do that and support myself is through contracting. Luckily, this is a huge thing in my field since short term project needs fluctuate so much. It’s easy to do through an agency, and pays extremely well.

    I thought about trying to cut my hours down in my current job, but the person who runs the show doesn’t understand my role, the regulatory requirements for the project, and has been doing things that are my job and totally out of her wheelhouse. She thinks she knows what she’s doing, but it’s completely wrong and most of what I’ve been doing is a lot rework, education around my function, and education around non-negotiable regulatory requirements.

    The problem is she is convinced she knows it all and refuses to believe anything contrary to whatever vision is already in her head, even when presented with documented proof. She responds to that by sending out irrelevant information she found on a google search claiming it proves she is right and we can do it her way, but if I have any documentation that says otherwise please send it to her. So I stop what I’m doing to address the issue.

    This is EXACTLY what I did not want to be doing in a new job! One of the reasons I left my old job was to get away from something very similar.

    Hoping 2018 is a better year for me! I am looking forward to working reduced hours next year. If my next job isn’t so great, the fact that is it less hours and temporary will at least make it palatable.

  62. AnnaleighUK

    Just dropping in to say a Merry Christmas to everyone and I hope you have a much more constructive last day at work before the break than my office did. I tied up some projects but the majority of the day was devoted to making structurally sound gingerbread skyscrapers.

    In other work news, I found out today that my department director has hired three people to start in January that we initially rejected when we interviewed them earlier this year. But apparently they’ve been in and interviewed again just with him, and he’s hired them, sooo my department is getting a new staff member in the new year. I don’t mind, we are busy and could use an extra person but I’m sure there were reasons we rejected these people first time round so I wonder why he decided to hire them after another interview…

    Anyway, I’m off to catch a flight this evening to visit my parents for the holiday, so I shan’t even think about that till January. Merry Christmas AAM commenters!

    1. Ramona Flowers

      Well that sounds pretty constructive to me. Now the gingerbread people can enjoy high rise living. Plus it sounds fun. Sweet, edible fun…

      We spent this afternoon drinking my boss’s home mulled wine, naming members of 90s boy bands, and believing my line manager when she told us Dick van Dyke had a near death experience at sea and claimed to have been rescued by porpoises. We figured she was finding the wine extra potent until she produced actual news articles about it.

      Merry Christmas!

  63. Cloud Nine Sandra

    O M G my contract might be becoming permanent. Which I was told was not possible when I was hired, but I guess I managed to make a good case last time I asked about it happening in the future. OMG benefits. I might go to the dentist. I won’t work on MLK day but I still might get paid! It’s been so long! (Possibly. Probably? Keeping expectations tiny though all signs to point to yes.)

  64. AndersonDarling

    This is a good time of year to remind myself that my work isn’t that bad. Sometimes I get hung up on little things and make them big things, but then I remember all the wacky/wild/horrific letters that are written to AAM and I remember that I have a pretty darn good job. Happy Holidays!

  65. Anonynonynon

    So, accepted a new job in beginning of November in government. It’s not a good fit at all. Out of the blue, my previous employer contacted me about a promotion, 10% raise and some fixes to issues that I’d reported during my exit interview.

    I’m likely to accept the position at my last employer. That being said, is two weeks notice still pretty customary? I’m still in the ‘shadowing’ phase so I have nothing to transition, nobody to train and no projects. Most of my time is spent sitting around waiting for something to happen to learn. Would it be outrageous to give two weeks but offer to end the employment immediately? It doesn’t make any sense to teach me anything else during the two week period but I don’t want to burn the possibility of future employment completely by just leaving.

    Thoughts?

      1. Sloane Kittering

        Alison answered this exact question about someone who wanted to leave in the training period, and I believe she said this was an exception to the usual rule because it doesn’t make sense for them to continue training you if you’re leaving. Can’t find the question now of course.

    1. Teal Green

      I was in basically this position at one point. I had more work than it sounds like you do but I was still in training. My previous employer contacted me about coming back, same position but a new title, substantial raise, and some fixes to issues. I gave new employer two weeks notice but when I talked to my manager told him that I would understand if they would rather I left sooner. Surprisingly they did have me work my notice period. Just be aware that leaving at this point is likely to hurt your chances of future employment with that employer, though maybe government is different enough from private employers that it won’t.

  66. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

    Does anyone have a feel good year end work story? I started a new job in the fall. It was supposed to be part-time but because of staff shortages I became full-time almost immediately. I loved the job and worked extra hours without complaint. The best thing of all was that I was rewarded. I received a year end bonus, a raise and a lovely thank you card from the higher-ups. The bonus was nice but even nicer was the acknowledgement that my hard work was appreciated and didn’t go un-noticed.

    1. anon24

      My favorite end of year work story.

      As a teen I worked at a small business staffed mostly by other teens/college students and older retired guys. The economy crash really hit them hard, they were barely keeping the doors open, and since we were all part time employees, we didn’t get bonuses or anything at Christmas. I liked my job and had a reputation for being one of the harder workers (not boasting, it’s relevant). One year at Christmas, the owner came in and handed out Christmas cards. I assumed it was just a generic card, and didn’t open mine right away because I was busy. At the end of my shift, I offered to drive home another employee who didn’t have a license. We got into my car and he noticed I hadn’t opened my card and told me to open it because he had gotten a hundred dollar bill as a Christmas gift from the owner. I opened my card and $250 fell out onto my lap. I’ll never forget that moment. It was dead silence in my car as we both just stared at the money, which was a huge amount for both of us. My co-worker finally found his voice and congratulated me, and I managed to get him home before I started crying. I felt so appreciated.

    2. Pollygrammer

      This isn’t much of a story, but ~I~ feel good about it–I’ve started enjoying my job! After about 9 months of vacillating between “meh” and “I’m going to get up from this desk, walk out and never come back!”

      But I’ve gotten used to it! I realized that all the deeply eccentric habits my boss has have stopped driving me crazy and started making me laugh. I’ve learned how to handle her (well…manipulate–but only in harmless ways!) pretty effectively. There are plenty of other people my boss drives crazy, one who’s quit because of her, and I feel very accomplished in finally figuring out how to work with her and even feel entertained by her crazy, stressed-out and aggressive rants. Once you’ve been able to switch someone in your head from “awful” to “hilariously ridiculous” things get SO much easier.

      I’m not really dedicated or emotionally invested and I’m not going to be staying for more than another year, but I feel more adaptable than I’ve ever been in my life and I’m thrilled about it.

    3. KarenK

      I do! My change of title (from program coordinator to program manager), which I thought was going to end up being largely symbolic, comes with a $12,000 raise, plus, my merit raise is being calculated on my new salary! This will affect all the people who do the same job I do, and is the result of my grandboss’ efforts over the past three years. Yay!

  67. Theresa

    How do you pull back from “caring” so much at work? I’m starting to become really frustrated with my boss an my position, but I am probably only going to be here for maybe a year and a half… and I need to just let myself pull back and care less about everything I do here. Can this be done? Does this even make sense?

    1. Lumen

      Find something outside of work and put a lot of your energy into it. It can be dating, team sports, learning an instrument, writing a novel, joining a club to argue about philosophy, get into running. Just: find stuff to care about that has nothing to do with work.

      When you are AT work and need to focus on work but not be so emotionally invested, take a break. Even for just a few minutes, literally step away from your desk, take a breath, and pull yourself back. This is hard to explain, but the way someone said it to me when I was feeling the same way was: give them LESS of yourself. Reserve yourself for yourself.

      Mini mantras: “This is not my future.”
      “I can get this done without caring so much.”
      “Good thing I only have to put up with that a few more months.” (it can be ‘a few more months’ for a long time)

      1. Sloane Kittering

        For me it’s also “I’m being paid good money to deal with these frustrations in a pleasant way.” If it wasn’t annoying, they wouldn’t have to pay me.

    2. Windchime

      After a hellish couple of years at my old job that ended in a fiery crash (metaphorically), I came to realize that work doesn’t really matter that much. For me, the important thing in life is relationships with friends and family. I’ve decided to make that my focus. I have landed in a really good job with really nice people, but I am decidedly less invested in the potential drama that most jobs have. Guy who sits next to me and never works, just talks all day? Not my problem; that’s why I have noise-canceling headphones. Crappy commute? Time to pull out my kindle or nap. Boring work? Oh well. I’m getting paid to do it while sitting in a comfortable chair and a flexible schedule. And at the end of the day, spending time with family and loved ones is what it’s all about (for me).

      So that’s how I pulled back. I just decided to focus on the “real” part of my life, which is my kids and my siblings and my friends. The other stuff is just things that happen during the day so I can have money to afford to support myself.

  68. hopeful EMT

    Tuesday I graduated from EMT school. I’m still not a certified EMT until I hopefully pass the National Exams (2 tests) in January, but I’m so happy that I made it through school. I quit my job to go to this school, even though it’s only an evening class. I wouldn’t have had time to make it from my job to school. I was going to take a part time job instead, but my husband asked me to just focus on school (yay for him! he’s worked so hard to make this happen for me). I put my heart and soul into this class, because I’ve wanted to go into EMS for so long, even though it’s long hours and very low pay. It paid off, because I won the Academic Achievement Award for the best grade in the class!

    Then I had a job interview on Wednesday, with the EMS company that partners with my college to offer the class. I was told I was interviewing with one person, but it ended up being someone else… who happened to be present at graduation when I won my award, and who I had a nice conversation with after the ceremony (completely oblivious that he would be my interviewer). I honestly don’t know how well my interview went, because I don’t interview well. I was mortified because I had spent last weekend visiting family for Christmas, and they have a very dry house, which led to my throat becoming super irritated. By the time Wednesday came around I was completely hoarse, and couldn’t say much more than one sentence at a time. I had so much more I wanted to say, but couldn’t get it out. I did explain why I sounded like I was dying. I also had to do some testing with them, and it seemed to go really well. The person who tested me happened to be the person who tested me for part of my final exam at school. He let me skip some steps because he was already satisfied I was competent in those areas after seeing me perform them at school. Yay!

    I want to work for this company so badly. I did my field training with them and just fell in love. Pay sucks, but the benefits are way better than any other job I’ve held. They said I’ll hear from them in a couple weeks, but even if they choose to offer me the job I still have to get certified. Here’s hoping! I’ve been so miserable with all the jobs I’ve worked before, and I want so badly for things to get better!

    1. nep

      Wow, nice work. Congratulations on your accomplishments. Fingers crossed.
      Always appreciative of what EMS and all first-responders do, day in and day out. Thank you.

    2. ..Kat..

      Good luck. Becoming a certified EMT was a first step for me in moving from one field into health care. I loved the work I did as an EMT , and eventually segued into nursing (much better paying). But, the time I spent in EMS was both rewarding and valuable.

  69. Wannabe Disney Princess

    So. I came in to a box of candy on my desk this morning. It’s my dad’s (who died two years ago this month) favorite. In fact, he bought himself a box the night he died. So I have an abnormally strong reaction.

    I don’t know what to do with them. I’ve moved it out of my line of my site because it was upsetting me. Two people have put theirs in the lunchroom. I thought about doing the same…but I feel kind of guilty doing that. Which is stupid, I know. It’s an extremely kind gesture and I’m very grateful for the thought.

    1. STG

      If you aren’t comfortable putting them in the breakroom, I’d probably look for a way to discretely dispose of them personally. If I stashed them out of sight, I’d be worried that I’d forget about them completely….until I found them again and it caused an emotional reaction again.

    2. Lumen

      Don’t feel guilty! I doubt the box has your name on it, identifying who put theirs in the lunchroom. It’s unlikely anyone will confront you about a box of candy, and if someone does ask (maybe they are worried they gave you something you’re allergic to and want to do better next year), you can just breeze it off: “Oh, I’m just trying not to overdo it on sweets this time of year, so I thought it’d be better to have it off my desk, right in front of me! Thank you so much though, that was very kind and I was wondering who brought it in!”

    3. Sloane Kittering

      Go out and find somebody to give it to, and tell yourself it’s honoring your father’s sense of charity?

    4. fposte

      I give you full permission to quietly stuff it in the garbage if that solves your problem. You appreciate the point of the gift; it doesn’t have to be consumed by a human to fulfill it.

    5. Artemesia

      Anyone you can regift to? I’d give it to a homeless guy on the corner before throwing it away — or the doorman, or the garage guy, or the mail carrier, or someone who might like it.

      Sorry that a kind gesture touched a nerve — sometimes the universe does not properly align.

      1. Her Grace

        Yes, this.

        The very thing that brought you grief could be a source of joy to someone else. The mere fact you made someone else happy might ease your own pain. Go ahead and give it to someone who need a little brightness in their day.

    6. Not So NewReader

      When someone gives us a gift, it is ours to do what we wish with the gift. They have let go of it, it is no longer theirs. If we wish to toss it in the garbage, then we can do just that.

      I think the bigger issue is the grief you are feeling. Perhaps go home and light a candle in your dad’s memory. Or make a donation to charity. Or go visit one of his friends if you know that person would be THRILLED to see you. Whatever you think of that makes sense to you.

      I don’t think we ever stop missing our parents. While that longing may change, it may become less intense or it may stop interrupting our ability to function, the sorrow remains. It’s important to acknowledge to ourselves, “Yep. I am always going to miss this person.”

  70. Goya de la Mancha

    Applied for a job posting that closed earlier this week. Not my ideal job or anything, but from what I can tell in my research it would be a significant pay raise for me (they did not give a salary range in the posting). I’m assuming that because of the holidays, they probably won’t do much with the applications until after the new year – but still makes me anxious that I haven’t heard anything outside the “We received your application/resume” email. Is it normal for things to be put off during the holiday season when it comes to hiring?

    1. Lumen

      I think it depends on the company, but I’d guess that’s all it is. Maybe they’re gathering resumes during the break and plan on hitting hiring hard when they get back. Take some deep breaths and keep applying to other jobs. Think of it this way: if they snooze, they lose! You’re a catch!

  71. Tea Fish

    Sometime in the next 3-5 years, I’d like to take a year off from working, just living off my savings and doing whatever. I’m not worried about this from a financial perspective, but I am a little concerned about how it will look on my resume in the long run– like I should have some legitimate “reason” to not work for a little while, instead of “Well, I can and I want to.” I live in the US, and I feel like the work culture here is very much “if you can work, you should be working,” and the concept of taking time off just to take time off is seen as alien and like some sort of personal moral failing.

    Down the line, what would be the best way to explain this to potential employers? Should I come up with some kind of culturally acceptable excuse? One of the reasons I want to take a year off is to spend some of that time with aging and ailing family members, but that’s far from the biggest reason and it feels a little skeevy to present it as such, but it’s also not untrue. I also don’t really want people making assumptions about my marital and family status as a result of my time away, but don’t know if there’s any way to really prevent that.

    1. Sloane Kittering

      You could start your own contracting company or nonprofit during this time, maybe. Even if it’s just a small company or an etsy page. Even if it’s not successful at all, I’d think you could pitch a pretty sympathetic version of the truth in which you pursued your dream of starting a small business and now you’re ready to return to the real world.

      1. Tea Fish

        I actually am planning on opening a small etsy store and pursuing that as a source of revenue, though I’m not really planning on making it a full time thing or even expecting to make a lot of bank from it. That does sound like a good pitch though, if I wanted to play up the sympathy end of things.

    2. Red Reader

      I took a year and a half off and did pretty much that – saved up enough money to live on for the year, bolstered by a small unexpected inheritance, and moved across the country (from a high COL area in the PNW to a much lower COL area in the midwest, closer to where I was born) and stayed completely unemployed for a year and had a minimum wage part-time “get me out of the house” type job for another six months before returning to my career field. Nobody even batted an eyelash. Like, the recruiter for my returning-to-the-career job didn’t even ask about the lapse. I did a lot of traveling during my year, both domestically and a six-week trip around Europe, which was one of my best experiences of my life.

      But I also don’t think there’s anything *wrong* per se with saying something like, “I had the opportunity to not work for a little while and instead focus on traveling, helping some family members and working on personal projects,” even if it’s not necessarily 100% true.

      1. Sloane Kittering

        I don’t mean to seem rude here, but are you by any chance a male? I just hear such a different account from my female friends who cut back to take care of children / grandparents for even just a few years, when they try to return the workplace. Even though their skills are hardly expired, they just can’t get back in the door. I hope I’m not offending you to ask.

        1. Reba

          Yeah, unfortunately I think if you are a woman some people will assume you had a kid. Which may or may not matter.

          That’s another reason to have your narrative set: pursuing personal projects and travel goals [or whatever]!

          I hope it works out and you have a great time.

          1. Sloane Kittering

            Yaay! I do think it helps to be able to talk about what you left to DO … and moms/caregivers are handicapped by the convention that it’s not great to talk about family stuff or children in the workplace.

            1. Red Reader

              It’s probably worth noting that I *do* work in an extremely female-heavy industry – I’m in health care administration, and literally 90% of my reports and the next four (at least) levels of management above me are all women. So gender may have been relevant in my experience, admittedly.

      2. Tea Fish

        Oh good, it’s really reassuring to hear that job recruiters didn’t mind or care about the gap. I also really want to take that time to travel, but was afraid that it would sound just too frivolous.

    3. yup

      I posted something similar up above… DO IT…. It may take you longer to find another job, but you will not be forever unemployable.

      When you are ready to come back into the job market, be honest… “I realized that I had a lot of personal goals and dreams to work on, so I decided to save money, take a year off and just focus on myself with X, Y and Z projects.” For every person/ potential employer that judges, you will find one that respects you, envies you and wishes they had done the same thing.

      The key is that you are doing **SOMETHING**… Travel, taking care of people, taking classes, etc….

      Good luck!

    4. Pollygrammer

      I might say “I got the opportunity to [travel/whatever] and I couldn’t pass it up!” not “I could and I wanted to.” If there’s any kind of education or training you’re going to pursue, that’s helpful too.

      It is very sad that our culture makes this sort of thing weird, but it does, particularly in certain fields.

  72. DogPerson

    Advice for things to do while unemployed? I’m an EA; the last company I worked for folded. Things have been slow with the holidays. The recruiters told me Nov/Dec is hard to get a job.

    I tried working for a restaurant, but ended up getting fired from that after a month. I’m still recovering from the emotional stress of being there.

    I’d like to do something productive. It’s hard when I can’t spend money on literally anything.

    Advice???

    1. k.k

      Have you tried volunteering? It’s something to keep you busy, you can put it on your resume to help fill in the unemployment gap, and depending on what you do you might pick up a valuable skill. Plus, having a more open schedule is great when looking to volunteer. I’ve tried volunteering places before and found that all the weekend opportunities filled up fast, but there was always plenty open to choose from during the weekdays. Guessing from your username, you might enjoy volunteering at an animal shelter. Spending a few hours taking care of some cute dogs could be a nice stress relief.

      1. DogPerson

        That’s a good idea. It takes like a month to go through the whole orientation process though, and I was hoping I’d have a job before I’d be certified to volunteer. It’s hard to sign up for something that feels like betting against yourself.

    2. Goya de la Mancha

      Volunteering was my go to just to keep me on some sort of schedule. Also, I’m extremely introverted, so it forced me to interact with people instead of sitting at home and becoming more reclusive. I ended up volunteering in the office of a non-profit for a few months. It’s crazy how much networking was available that way (customers/patrons/board members/other volunteers/etc.). I didn’t get my current job based off that networking, but I feel confident enough to say something would have eventually popped up.

    3. Tea Fish

      Are you looking for cheap things to do that will help bolster a job search or cheap and fun things to do to pass the time and help keep you sharp and engaged with life while you go on your job search?

      For the former, are there any free CE courses or lunch-and-learn sessions being offered nearby that you can take advantage of? I’m thinking this because I used to work in a (non accounting) office that would offer free seminars and CE credits to various professionals (CPAs, EAs, LIAs) in order to build up relationships with them. And it worked, in that our firm got to network with these professionals and build up referral and business relationships with some of them.

      If the latter, I really recommend getting into podcasts if you haven’t already. A lot of them are free to listen to– for example, the entire catalog at Maximum Fun– and run the gamut from pure entertainment, purely educational, and every combination and every topic possible, really.

      1. DogPerson

        I’ve never heard of those courses before. I’ll look into them. I want to get out of the house more. Thanks!

    4. The New Wanderer

      Look for super cheap deals on classes – exercise classes in particular usually run really good deals in January or have cheap introductory rates. A few months ago I paid $20 for a month of unlimited yoga classes and while I only made it to five of them, it was a nice break in the day.

      I never had luck with volunteering, so I usually put my energies into making stuff at home. There are tutorial videos on literally everything you could want to make, along with blogs etc. Refashioning and upcycling are pretty cost effective hobbies if you like crafting.

  73. santa baby

    i had my first year-end review at this job last night (I’ve been here since April) and apparently a)my direct supervisor had no idea how much money I make until about two weeks ago, b) he would have offered me $15-25k less if he was negotiating with me (which…yeah, I wouldn’t have taken the job in that case), and c) I make too much money to get a raise this year. He told me all of this while chucking and “congratulating” me on my “negotiation skills.” I just….don’t even know how i feel? I was planning on leaving at the one year mark anyway so I guess it’s not a big deal, but it was just kind of a bizarre conversation, lol.

    1. Sloane Kittering

      Meh, let this roll of your back like water from a duck. He may just be saying this because he doesn’t want to have you ask for a raise. There are also some positions that may legitimately not be worth more than X to the company whether you do them great or not, but too bad for him if he disagrees with your salary. Laugh all the way to the bank and leave in a year. Don’t contemplate staying a moment longer though because he’s basically admitting he’ll never give you a raise – very good information for you to know! I wish my company would be so transparent. They *pretend* they’ll give me a raise some day, if I’m very, very good.

    2. Pollygrammer

      Ugh, that is incredibly obnoxious. What a ridiculous, pointless little bit of ego-puffing on his part.

    3. Not So NewReader

      I would assume that I was making almost as much money as him and chalk the remarks up to his shock over that.

  74. Rikki Tikki Tarantula

    I am a full-time freelancer, and I do all my business via email, working with Word files, etc. I have a PO Box mostly because it seems odd to have invoices and business cards that don’t have any kind of snail mail information (also, I had one client that preferred to send a check for payment) and I don’t like handing out my home address. However, it seems a waste of money because I never get mail to that PO box. Would it look hinky or unprofessional to only have phone/email contact info and get rid of the PO box?

    1. santa baby

      i don’t think so? all the freelancers I’ve worked with are only online– but I work in tech, so it might be more common to have a physical address in other fields?

    2. Ramona Flowers

      Where do you live? Is there any legal or regulatory requirement?

      Here in the UK, for example, you are required (by HMRC which I guess is our equivalent of the IRS) to include a postal address on invoices.

  75. Argh!

    Do any of you work in a merit-only pay system? I’ve read up on it and I’m demoralized due to non-merit discretionary raises while over 80% get merit raises (state agency with sunshine law so pay is public knowledge). That other 80% do stupid or mediocre things all the time, produce less than I do, and have less experience in the field. I’ve read up on this and it’s apparently normal to feel the way I do but it’s still frustrating. I asked my boss for specifics on what I could do to raise my rating and she said there’s no objective criteria for subjective categories, i.e., if I don’t like you there’s nothing you can do about it.

    If you’ve never seen this video, it sums up my feelings perfectly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meiU6TxysCg

  76. Science!

    This is a really minor thing, so much so that I’ve been tempted to write in every friday for weeks and always said, “eh not that big a deal.” But I thought I’d finally get some opinions.

    I’m a nursing mom, so at work I pump twice a day. I carry all my supplies in a nondescript black bag. To get to the pumping room I look like I’m heading out the main door to the parking lot. Also my work has really flexible hours, and there are a bunch of people who work the 7-3 shift voluntarily (I am not one of them).

    When I go for my 3pm pumping session, frequently I will pass people in the hallway who will say something like: “Oh heading home? Have a nice day!” I usually reply, “Oh I’ll be right back, not leaving yet!” but it feel awkward since I’m carrying a bag that looks like I’m heading out for the day. I don’t want to make things more weird by talking about going to pump, but want to give some indication that I’m not leaving.

    Part of why I’m asking is that my boss is one of the people who I frequently see in the hallway and I’m feeling sensitive (for long complicated reasons) to being seen as leaving work early since I don’t get in until 8:30 most days.

    1. Sloane Kittering

      If it’s one person, I might make sure to poke my head in later in the afternoon to get some face time. Or if its your boss I might explicitly name this to them. Otherwise, is there any kind of bag that would look more internal? What if it was in a plastic bag or purse or a tote bag – just for the walk to the pumping room. Or something that looked more like a briefcase or a laptop bag? Something about the bag you’re using now seems to be suggesting to people that it’s a ‘leaving for the day’ situation.

      1. Science!

        My bosses office is right next door, so he does usually see me later in the day. I was hoping that now that it’s winter, it’s clearer that I’m not leaving since I don’t have my coat but I’m still getting a few comments, so I guess I should be more direct that I’m not leaving the building.

    2. Murphy

      I feel the same way when I do that. (We have a room in the office that I can use, but if it’s taken, the officially designated pumping rooms are in other buildings, so I’m even wearing a coat!) I’d probably just do the same thing you’re doing.

      But if anyone asks, just say you’re pumping like it’s no big deal. I find it more awkward to dance around it to just be straightforward.

      1. Science!

        I’ve mentioned going to pump to a couple people. Maybe a quick breezy “off to pump!” will do the trick.

    3. Anony

      Is it possible to shift your pumping time? They probably assume you are leaving because it is exactly the time when other people do leave. They would be less likely to make that assumption at 2 or 4. However, I don’t think you should worry about it too much. You aren’t leaving and if you want to make sure your boss knows that, you can find some reason to see/talk to/email him later about a work thing so that you know that he knows you are still working.

      1. Science!

        I might be able to shift it now. When I first came back there were a lot of pumping mothers, and there’s only one room so you have to sign up for a time. 3pm was the only available time in the afternoon. I think a bunch of people stopped recently because the schedule is a lot more open. 2pm might be a better time for me anyway.

    4. Lcsa99

      Any way you could drop the bag in the room when you come in in the morning (or leave it after the first session) so you’re heading there empty handed at 3, and just carry it back to your desk when you’re done?

    5. Friday

      Eh, not a big deal overall… I remember that happened a lot with my first kid and I expect it again when #2 is here. In a regular 8-5 workday, I pump at 9/12/3 and when someone says the old “heading out?” on my 3pm pump, I just say nope, I’ll be here until 5. And leave them standing there confused, hehe. They always figure it out sooner or later. Your boss should already know that you pump though, right?

  77. Saturn

    I have a question for the environmentally conscientious readers. I am the lucky office member who gets to sit across from the kitchen. One of my coworkers turns the light off in the kitchen every time she leaves. Since we are an office of 40 it is inevitable that someone will arrive in the kitchen two minutes later and have to turn the light on. My question is – which uses LESS electicity – leaving the light on or turning it on and off?

    1. fposte

      It depends on the kind of bulb (and turning them on and off also wears out some kinds of bulb, so it’s not just the power used in turning them on, it’s the shortening of its lifespan). The guideline I’m seeing says turn off incandescents and halogens when you go, but don’t bother to turn off CFLs and LEDs if they’ll be back on in under 15 minutes. No guideline is offered for the old non-compact fluorescents, but I recall them as being particularly vulnerable to wear from multiple cycles and think they’re probably in the “leave on under 15 minutes” category as well. Of course, individual fixtures will also vary from this.

      1. Natalie

        For tube fluorescents, the failure point is more often the ballast, which regulates the amount of current that flows through the lamp itself. There are various types of ballasts, but generally speaking the electricity used to charge them is only a few seconds worth of lighting time. Of greater concern is the number of uses you can reasonably expect out of each ballast (for example, 100,000 on/off cycles). So you get into complicated equations of the production and disposal of the ballasts. Plus, in some states including my own, only licensed electricians can change the ballasts so you would have to factor in the transportation costs for a specialist.

        1. LCL

          Thanks for the link. I wasn’t able to find the particular episode, but the description made me laugh. Myth busters hooked what they called an inductive current loop up to an oscilloscope to get current measurements of individual lamps. Much more dramatic than necessary.

      1. Bostonian

        Yes, I believe the Mythbusters calculated that in order for the electricity savings to be greater keeping the lights on than turning them off, you would have to leave and come back in less than 1 second.

        1. Mints

          My link is in moderation but here’s a highlight, the amount of energy it takes to turn on versus already on:
          Incandescent: 0.36 seconds
          CFL: 0.015 seconds
          Halogen: .51 seconds
          LED: 1.28 seconds
          Fluorescent: 23.3 seconds
          Even though you said fluorescent, worst case, it’s still better than a couple minutes

        1. Ramona Flowers

          In fact I’ve just checked and we use 220 kWh of energy per quarter. The average for our area is about four times that!

          Turn those lights off, people.

  78. sheep jump death match

    I just want to express my general frustration that my work is having our THIRD holiday party today. THIRD. The cynical part of me thinks they scheduled this one today to make sure no one took the day off. Grumble grumble grumble.

    1. Jules the First

      We did too, but they had it at noon, served champagne, and gave everyone the afternoon off, paid (but people who didn’t come in this morning still need to use PTO for the whole day). Any chance yours might be planning something similar?

    2. Lcsa99

      My husband had to attend 4 (all for different departments he’s attached to). And one they even stuck on to a meeting to a meeting. Some offices just go overboard.

  79. Temperance

    I came in today fully planning on getting work done, but was instead greeted with coquitos, mimosas, and delicious snacks. What a wonderful problem to have! ;)

      1. Temperance

        It was my first time having one, and it’s a new favorite! My colleague’s family is from Puerto Rico, and she used her family recipe.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          I have a MASSIVE bottle that I made two weeks ago. My first coquito. We’re taking it with us to the beach. I was also introduced to this fabulous elixir by a work colleague; I barely worked with that guy and I have very fond memories of him.

  80. LizB

    I had to have my first real negative performance conversation with a direct report yesterday. I think I did pretty well at being clear and calm, and my team member definitely understood what the problem was and what I need from them going forward, but aaaaugh it was hard. It doesn’t help that the original complaint was from a client who is a total glassbowl and phrased their (valid) concerns in the most obnoxious way possible, so I was already cranky from dealing with them. Not my favorite part of managing…

    1. NW Mossy

      Oh, relaying legitimate-but-badly-phrased feedback is HARD.

      I actually just had a similar conversation with one of my directs, who my peer managers perceive as “not helpful to [their] teams,” with a tone of judging her personally for being snotty. It’s definitely true – she can come off that way sometimes. That said, I see pretty clearly that the trigger for those “sometimes” is a combination of frequent interruptions in the face of pressing priorities.

      As a result, the feedback I’m giving is not to smile more, but instead to work on recognizing that it’s normal to have reasonable boundaries and to explicitly ask others to respect them. We talked about things like saying “Hey, in the middle of something, catch you in 20?”, using the DND feature on her IM when she needs to focus, and generally making it clear that she’s willing to help, just not in an on-call type of way. Empowering her to have more control over the ebb and flow of her job will ultimately make it much easier for her to have the emotional bandwidth to be warm and friendly towards those “quick questions.”

    2. Argh!

      Good for you! Yes, it’s hard, and it’s also (part of) why you get paid more than your report.

      Employees appreciate honest feedback, even if it’s hard to hear. At least they know where they stand. The opposite is too common — supervisors who let things go or are afraid of confrontation. And even worse – not saying anything then throwing out zingers in the performance evaluation!

  81. PolarBearGirl

    Looking for some resources on grammar/proofreading for someone who reports to me.

    Here’s the set-up: I am in charge of advancement/outreach for a nonprofit. We hired on a fantastic marketing person, and she brings a ton to our operation. However, grammar, punctuation, etc. are not her strong suit, which is an issue because she is in charge of many of our outward facing social items and because (aside from wanting to look polished in this area) we work in a field where the public expects a very high standard from us on these things.

    One of the reasons we were able to hire her was that my org realized I could not keep all those tasks AND raise all our money, so I would like to avoid making her run every little post by me first. She is totally open to coaching and correction and says to just let her know how to improve. However, I think it’s punitive/not helpful to print out things and note corrections in red after the fact. Even though she freely says she knows this is not a strong suit, I don’t want this to become an area where she feels torn down rather than supported in efforts to improve.

    Do folks have grammar books or sites that would be good regular reads for her? I adore my CMS and would read it for fun at the drop of a hat, but that doesn’t seem the way to go. Should I just do up a style cheat sheet with some of the more basic items I think she should watch for? All suggestions most welcome!

    1. AnonAndOn

      “The Elements of Style” is a good one. I used it at a previous job and ended up buying a copy for myself.

    2. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)

      As a former professional editor who used to work at a place with an incredibly complex/nitpicky house style, yes, do up a style sheet/check list. Heck, maybe even do up several and give her one, let her internalize that, then give he