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!

      1. Future Analyst*

        +1. If taking on more/more interesting work isn’t an option, use the time to learn other stuff.

    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*