open thread – January 26-27, 2018

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.

{ 2,052 comments… read them below }

  1. Helpful*

    “Hot or Not”… for pets!

    I am building a website as a side business. It has a voting component for pet pictures, as well as a place for “pet battles” where you can decide if your pet is cutest, once and for all.

    What do you think? Would you use/visit this site? :D

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      No, but I don’t have pets.

      I’m unclear do you build websites as a side business or do you expect this website to be your side business? Because I’m not sure how pet hot or not would generate income.

      1. ContentWrangler*

        I assume there would be ads. If so OP, cute pets and pet battles sound awesome but if you use ads to generate revenue, make sure they aren’t intrusive or sketchy. I don’t care how adorable a puppy is, it won’t keep me on a sight where an ad with sound starts auto-playing.

        1. LSP*

          And Google Chrome just added an option to block all sites that automatically play music/videos upon opening, so anyone building new sites and looking for advertising revenue should be aware of that.

          OP – that doesn’t sound like a bad idea. It’s not really where I might spend my time, but I know a lot of people who would spend time there. Maybe you could even use it as a way to help advertise for pets in need of adoption. I have some friends who run a rescue organization for herding dogs, and always need people to foster/adopt. If you could tie your idea into something like that, you’d get access to the passionate following that come with these groups.

          1. Lindsay J*

            Yes. I kind of like the idea for adoptable pets more than just looking at other people’s pets.

            I’m not sure whether PetFinder or some other similar site has an open API or not where you could pull their pictures/bios from.

            Then people could rank pets if they just want to look at cute puppies and kitties, but could also connect with the shelter or rescue if they were interested in adopting that cute puppy.

            1. Lindsay J*

              Adding on to this answer: for me I would not really be interested in looking at pictures of other people’s animals. So if it were just personal uploads I probably wouldn’t be interested.

              But I do occasionally look at PetFinder even when I’m not really actively looking to adopt a pet. It kind of fulfills a fantasy component for me I guess – I can pretend I am going to adopt a dog and think about what it would be like to have it.

              And having the additional voting component would make it more interactive and make me possibly visit it more often than I do PetFinder or like my local shelter sites.

              I’m envisioning almost like a Tinder for pets, but without the duel matching part (the pet doesn’t have to match you, you just have to match the pet to be able to contact them regarding adoption if you want to. But you also don’t have to contact about adoption in you just want to rate or swipe left and right on pets for fun.)

        2. Hey Nonnie*

          I’ve also seen sites that run ads that hijack my browser, redirect (without action on my part) to some other website, and attempt to auto-download some sort of malware under the guise of “OMG YOU HAVE VIRUSES YOU MUST DOWNLOAD THIS TO SAVE YOURSELF!” Fluff sites / clickbait seem to be the worst offenders.

          This is why I run ad-block software. So, be aware of that too. The bad actors on the rest of the internet make me disinclined to even allow “unobtrusive ads,” because hey, the best way to avoid viruses is to avoid hijacker scare-ad popups to begin with.

          There’s a fluff site I occasionally visit that has started to run a nag banner at the bottom of every page demanding that I either turn off ad block or “buy an ad-free pass” here: https://contributor.google.com/v/beta

          That might be something that could work, but when I HAVE tried to visit without ad block, I got the aforementioned hijacker ads, which ensures that they’ll never get money off of me.

          All this to say, if you run ads, very carefully vet the ad network you partner with. If it runs ads that pose security risks, I doubt you’ll make that much more than not running ads at all.

            1. Hey Nonnie*

              Thanks for the link. At least it’s getting noticed. I’m sure it’s more complicated than this, but you’d think that the ad network companies would just refuse to run ads without having their own developers vet the code line-by-line first. Or establish a library of standard code for standardized, non-sketchy behaviors that advertisers were not allowed to deviate from.

            2. KB*

              I’ve actually been getting them when I visit this site on my phone quite a bit (and I do have avast on my phone and whatnot), so that explains how that’s happening! That must be very frustrating for you.

              1. Aunt Piddy*

                I get them on every browser I’ve tried to view AAM with! I installed a script blocker, but they still sneak through sometimes.

            3. anon4now*

              Alison- It’s happening on your site too, for many months now.
              I assumed it was intentional on your part actually, mostly as the sidebar ads/random product video ads have grown in intensity, as well as the “opinion” posts about various websites/products you’re being paid to sponsor.

              1. Me*

                Out of all the websites I frequent, AAM has the most ads and viruses. It’s been a problem for years.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                It’s not intentional. I’m talking to my ad network about it every single day to try to get it to stop. But as the article above shows, this is a widespread problem right now.

                But as for sponsored posts, I don’t do more of those now than before; it’s right about the same number it’s always been.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Oh — but here’s a new thing from my ad network (literally a minute ago): “Can you try asking people to try different browsers and report back of any continued issues?” So — if you’re getting mobile redirects and you’re willing to try to help us troubleshoot:
                  1. Clear your cache.
                  2. If the problems persist, try another browser, and then please let me know if you do or don’t have the same problem in the different browser.

                  Thank you!

              3. Lisa*

                Sortof related, but once my spouse got fooled by one of those ads which told him he had been infected with Malware and must call Apple immediately at (phone number)… and he did. And then gave them remote access to our computer. And then called me, at which point I was like “SHUT THE COMPUTER DOWN! UNPLUG THE ETHERNET CABLE FROM THE WALL! THEN UNPLUG THE ROUTER!” much to the amusement of all the 20 year old computer science students in the cubicles around me… I then proceeded to change every e-mail, credit card and banking password (from my work computer) within minutes.

                Nothing bad happened (yet – it’s been 3 years!) but I’ll never forget the terror, followed by hilarity, followed by a stern conversation about internet security and never calling a phone number straight from an add or e-mail (or anything, really, without calling me first). Still makes me chuckle, though.

            4. Lujessmin*

              I get those ALL THE TIME, especially when I visit my favorite forum site. I hate them with a passion.

        3. ADA temp*

          Does anyone have experience with requesting ADA accommodation when you’re working as a temp/contractor through an agency? Obviously an employer is required to make reasonable attempts to accommodate, but my legally-liable employer is a completely different entity from the client organization that would be the ones actually putting accommodations in place. I don’t work in my employers office (the agency), I work in the client’s office.

          Temp work is by its nature unstable, and I’ve been let go for truly ridiculous reasons before. (Basically amounting to “she got uppity,” including being let go just for asking the question if there was opportunity to be converted to direct hire eventually; and for attempting to negotiate in good faith when an offered conversion came with an $8K pay cut, an additional 10 hours of work per week, and zero benefits. In both cases I’d already been there proving my value for more than 6 months.)

          I’m not even sure how to approach this, or who to approach first, without taking a huge risk to my paycheck. If I try to tough it out until after I (hopefully) get converted to direct hire, that could mean 6 months or more of continuously increasing exhaustion. Adding to the problem is that while my health issues are (finally) legally considered a disability, socially they are considered invisible and/or not really real or serious, so I’d likely be dealing with the perception that I’m malingering. And the client not being my employer gives them a convenient way out of legal liability.

          Any ideas? Is there something I’m missing that confers the risk of liability on the client? When push comes to shove, I’ve never had success relying on “they seem like good / reasonable people here.”

          1. ADA temp*

            Okay, well, I posted that at the bottom of the page, no idea why it didn’t make its own thread…

          2. Someone else*

            I’d talk to your agent first; obviously any job you’re in is legally required to give anyone working on their site reasonable accommodations (that applies whether you’re there as an agency temp or an in-house hire, at least in the UK), but as you’ve pointed out, a lot of them like to weasel their way out of it, especially with temps. Your agent, on the other hand, has a reason to want you to keep working for them, because you’re the reason they make money- speak to them and see what they can come up with.

        4. Birdie*

          Not sure even that will generate that much revenue. I use adblock extensively and would for that site too.

      2. Helpful*

        Thanks for your feedback. Revenue would be generated through (discreet) ad display. I indicated I’m building it as a side business because it would be a pet project (ha) for fun and to make a few bucks.

        1. The Person from the Resume*

          Ha! As long as you don’t expect more than a few bucks in a year. I know people go to these type of sites, but you’re certainly not the first to build one and getting eyes on page is hard.

        2. Product person*

          Additional source of revenue is Amazon links (you can post a nice picture of a dog-related item, and if a visitor uses the link to go to Amazon to purchase anything — doesn’t have to be the same item — you earn money).

          I have a friend who blogs and gets $400+ a month from Amazon affiliate commissions. And it’s nicer than random ads.

    2. Apostrophina*

      I used to love Kittenwar.com (even though the voters failed to appreciate my guy!), so I probably would.

    3. Anono-me*

      I would love a nice website with cute baby animals and pets to share with toddlers. All too often, we go to look at baby animals and I think we are good, but then …. unpleasant stuff pops up.

      The ads would have to be kid friendly and not obnoxious.

        1. Helpful*

          That wouldn’t be the name— I just wanted to communicate the voting component in an understandable way. I like Triple Anon’s feedback re: keep it positive. That’d be my hope. Also, definitely kid-appropriate. I agree it’s a minefield out there.

    4. Triple Anon*

      I dunno. I think the “not” side of it could open a can of worms. Is there a way you could keep it positive and leave out “not”? For example, just vote for the cutest pet?

      I think “hot or not” would be a good idea for pet products. But then you’d have to moderate all the feedback on controversial products, which includes everything from oral flea control products to invisible fences.

      Animals are an emotional subject. People have strong opinions about a lot of things related to pets. If you’re building something that requires people’s thoughts and feelings about pets, be prepared to manage that. I’m sure there is a way to do it, but I’d devote some effort to coming up with a good strategy.

      I think it would be a fun site to use. I’m just concerned about the “people on the internet” side of it, which could be made worse by soliciting any kind of negativity… which isn’t necessarily bad. Just something to take into account.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yeah, I agree with Helpful and Triple Anon, with a theme like pets, you want to keep it positive, so like “Cute and Cuter” or “Cute and Cutest” still would let people feel like they’re being kind to the one not selected. Especially important if users submit their own pet photos, otherwise you might alienate those who don’t “win”.

      2. Basia, also a Fed*

        I agree. I cringed when I read your idea because the concept of telling someone their beloved is not cute seems so mean-spirited. I’ve read so much about how people take comments on the internet so personally. Why would anyone want to rank cuteness? Why can’t we agree that everyone’s pet is adorable?

    5. Not So NewReader*

      How about a section on heroic animals stories? Animals doing cool things to help people or other animals.
      There was a story in the news yesterday(?) about a dog signalling that there was a drowning man. These stories are so heart warming, it’s like candy for the brain.
      I think people would be attracted to good news.

    6. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

      I love it! I’m an animal person – some of my best work break/destressors involve cute animals (eg: I used to check in on a puppy cam whenever I was getting stressed or needed to rest my brain for a min or two, scrolling through Instagram searching for a random fun hashtag #corgigram is a good one, or my fav when I’m particularly stressed/frustrated with something – searching youtube for videos of “dogs in shoes”.)

      I would love to be able to swipe through/vote on some super cute pet pics under my desk anytime I need a quick brain rest.

    7. Secretary*

      This is really cool, and it seems like a website I would visit once, play around on it for a little while, and then never go on again. What would you be using to make sure people use it again? Because that’s where you’ll get you’ll get a wider audience.

    8. Frankie Bergstein*

      As long as I could mark all of the pets as “hot”, I’d be in.

      But they’re good dogs, Helpful!

    9. A Non E. Mouse*

      I agree with the others that “Hot or Not” isn’t quite right…maybe “Cute or Too Cute”?

      I love animal pictures so would totally just click next for hoooooouuuuurrrrrssss if this was set up in a friendly way.

      Also seconding Amazon Links to pet supplies. Especially wee little sweaters and pajamas for dogs because AAAWWWWWW.

      1. CM*

        I love Cute or Too Cute! And you could have cuteness rankings and people could send their friends to the site to vote for their pets. I think this is a great idea. I think the main challenge would be staying power — I could see it going viral and then everybody forgets about it in a week.

      2. RNL*

        I think it would perhaps be even more successful if the polls were silly and ridiculous…. “Most likely to become president” … “Looks most like a potato”…. “Most likely to win game a pool” or whatever. “Cute or cuter” is a bit boring and reductive.

        1. Triple Anon*

          I like this idea! It would keep people interested and get around the “not as cute” side of it.

    10. A Teacher*

      Can you work with local rescues to generate interest? I’m on the BOD for a local NFP foster based rescue and serve in the role as a Foster Home Coordinator and foster dogs. Any positive press and images are welcome for us. Something like a #WhiskerWednesday theme dedicated to rescue dogs or something like that?

    11. Bye Academia*

      I probably wouldn’t, because I wouldn’t want to be told my pets aren’t cute. I mean, my cat is 100% the cutest cat ever to exist and no one will tell me otherwise. Also, I get plenty of cute animals on twitter and instagram.

      I think the concept that strikes the right balance for me is something like the dog_rates twitter account, where they say something funny about the animal and then rate it 12/10 or whatever. And that account already exists.

      But maybe I’m in the minority. There’s tons of people who like to do tons of different things on the internet. You never know if your site could catch on until you try it.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        I love how dog rates is always a number greater than 10 out of 10. I don’t even notice the numbers, just the sweet ratings.

    12. Sarah Peterson*

      Since I already have a half dozen sites of cute animals that pop up in my Twitter feed, I would suggest you think really hard about your marketing and how you’re going to make this stand out. I don’t look for cute pet sites ever as they pop up in front of me on Facebook and Twitter constantly. It’s an overloaded market. I don’t think the contest thing is enough to set it apart.

    13. Lily in NYC*

      I find the idea to be really cute. Way better than that horrendous ‘Rate My Poop” site that was popular at the same time as Hot or Not…(I’m aging myself here).

    14. Irene Adler*

      I might visit to see if it is anything near to the now defunct site cuteoverload.com

      I miss cute animal pics.

    15. GigglyPuff*

      Like others have said I think you’d need to make it stand out better, because there were already place like CuteOverload, and news about animals there’s DoDo

    16. RML*

      I’d say for a new site entering the market now, you’d have to do something that makes you stand out for all of the other cute pet voting sites out there.

      I don’t currently follow any websites (mainly instagrams) for my cute animal fixes but thinking back to even 2005-2006, I probably followed a dozen cute animal ranking/voting sites. Helped me get through my boring job at the time.

      What would be different and exciting about yours? I’d think about that before you put the effort in because I don’t know you’d gain a following without something that sets you apart. :) Good luck!

      1. RML*

        quick google search for “cute pet vote” brought me to puppywar, petvote, kingpet, petwow, and 9,270,000 hits. Which is not to say yours is a bad idea – just that it needs to have something that those others don’t (or it needs to work better, or be easier to find, or go viral for some reason). Again – good luck! Hope you post it here if you end up creating it.

    17. Buffy*

      I’d be into seeing cute puppy pictures! But maybe try to skew it in a way so it’s not a “hot or not” thing. (I’d be all sad if my pup became a “not!”) But cute idea.

    18. Bowl of Oranges*

      Buzzfeed used to have an iOS called Cute or Not that was exactly this (not sure if it still works – it didn’t for me the last time I tried, so I deleted it). You swiped left or right on the picture (like Tinder). That was pretty much the whole app. I did use it when I needed to kill a few minutes or when I doing something else like watching tv.

      If I remember correctly when you submitted your animal, you only saw how many cute votes they got – you never saw the negatives.

      I do remember seeing a fair amount of pictures I’d seen before in other places (like professionally done pictures). I think these were pictures people just downloaded and submitted as their own pets rather than Buzzfeed adding them in.

  2. Lillian*

    I have a question. This is my first time posting here but I have read here for a while.

    The only job I have ever worked is as an assistant. I was hired by my boss when she was promoted to management. I was her assistant for 6.5 years. She worked her way up to an executive director position. On Tuesday she was fired and escorted out by security after admitting to sexual harassy behavior after emails were found and the company got sued. I was let go the same day. Not for doing anything wrong but because there was no job for me anymore. The company, the lawsuit, and the emails are clear I had nothing to do with it and no knowledge. The company says they will confirm my employment dates but that any reference can only be given by someone who was my boss and knows my work. My boss was fired and is being sued and I have no way to contact her. When she was getting escorted out she blamed me for selling her out even though I had no idea about any of it.

    I consulted a lawyer yesterday but the company didn’t do anything wrong. I started working there in the summer right after high school. I have never had another job before, I never went to school for anything and my boss was the only boss I ever had and the only person I worked closely with. I’m applying for unemployment but that is not a lot and won’t last forever. Going to school or taking classes is not an option for me for a number of reasons. My boss was always good to me. Her wife and her had me over for dinner a bunch of times. She never said anything if I was a bit late because of transit delays and when the weather was bad she let me leave early and would pay for a cab for me. I hate that I never saw the harassment but there are emails and no doubt it happened.

    How do I explain this when I look for another job? I have no other work history and no reference. I don’t know if I should bring up what happened with my boss because even though I didn’t do anything I am afraid of being blamed by association. No doubt word of the lawsuit will get around. Any tips that anyone has for my job search would be great, thanks!

      1. anyone out there but me*

        Yes, this… because it is the truth. Your boss was fired, and your position was no longer needed.

      2. ContentWrangler*

        Vague doesn’t seem like it would work because her position being eliminated wouldn’t explain why she has no references. I think OP will have to say something straightforward like: Unfortunately my position was eliminated when my boss was let go for inappropriate behavior.

        Then people should at least have an idea why OP has no references. Sorry, this happened to you, OP. Maybe there’s a coworker that could vouch for you?

        1. VioletEMT*

          I’d recommend trying to get a coworker to vouch for you and then offering that instead, after explaining that your old boss can’t give you a reference because she was let go for inappropriate behavior, causing your position to be eliminated. That way they have someone to talk to if they want.

    1. Future Analyst*

      Oh man, I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. I think this would be a scenario in which you can be honest about what happened, but in a succinct way (in an interview). “My boss was terminated for inappropriate conduct, and since my role was directly supporting hers, I was let go as well.” You don’t need to bring it up in a cover letter– you can limit that to the role you’re applying to, and what you hope to bring to it. As for the reference: are there any other people who worked with you that can at least vouch for you being reliable/not a monster? Again, if you get to the interview stage you can explain why you don’t have contact information for your former manager, but offering at least one or two other people’s contact info may help.

      1. Natalie*

        since my role was directly supporting hers, I was let go as well

        I would adjust this slightly to “since my role was directly supporting hers, it was eliminated”. I think you want to be super clear that the job was eliminated because it was no longer needed, not because you were at all involved in her downfall.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Yep that’s what I was thinking. She doesn’t want them to think she’s the one that was the victim of the misconduct or the whistleblower or whatever.

      2. Millennial Lawyer*

        I wouldn’t even mention inappropriate conduct. Just that “my boss was terminated, and since my role was directly supporting hers, it was eliminated.” If asked why you can’t get a reference from her maybe say “unfortunately she left on bad terms, but I can get confirmation of my employment dates from the company.”

        I’m curious to hear other ideas.

        1. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

          I like this approach a lot. I would also ask any co-workers (people that you interacted with regularly – they didn’t manage you, but they are familiar with what your work entailed and can speak to their experiences interacting with you in a professional setting) if they might be willing to act as a reference.

          I’d also try looking into temp work. That’s how I built up references after my first job out of school left me with no solid references (I reported them for illegally classifying me as an independent contractor – approached owners directly, not threateningly but was laid off within a couple of day – so I filed for unemployment and eventually won the claim, but it triggered an audit and the company folded shortly after – I’m sure there were other issues going on. So no one was happy with me – bosses or co-workers).

        2. CM*

          I think “bad terms” is perfect — it’s not as specific as “inappropriate conduct” but makes it clear why she’s not available as a reference.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I like this approach, too. I think minimizing the drama is the right opening salvo, and then slightly more information can be layered on as needed.

    2. EA*

      Dear god, I am sorry.

      Do you have any coworkers who you worked closely with? Especially if they had a director/manager title? I would consider asking them to bend the rules and give you a reference. I know ‘officially’ they are not suppose to, but often people feel bad and break the rules.

      How to explain it is way above my paygrade. Maybe other commenters have ideas.

      Why in the world would you boss think you sold her out? Does she not get all emails are usually on company servers?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is a good idea. I had a toxic boss who left for another branch a distance away from here. I was able to get other managers from other departments to agree to vouch for me. What you are looking for here is an understanding person who realizes you have a rock and a hard place going on and they are willing to help to help you out. (These folks do exist!)
        So while you did not work for these other people, perhaps they were in frequent contact with you in the course of your work day. And maybe they would be willing to speak to that, such as, “OP was always pleasant and always had my reports ready for me when I needed them.”

    3. Lillian*

      Thank you for the helpful replies everyone.

      Unfortunately as I said I have no reference and didn’t work for or closely with anyone else besides my boss.

      1. EA*

        I understand that, but you must have talked to other people/were observed by other people. They could at least verify you are not a psycho, and came to work, and seemed competent.

        1. Incantanto*

          So, I’ve had an 11% pay rise. Yay!
          However:
          This is the result of a promotion in August they didn’t increase my pay for because “we do pay adjustments in January”

          Jan is also the cost of living raise and inflation is at 3%. So actual promotion raise is 8% and 6 months into the role. I was hoping for min ten outside of col.

          I haven’t been officially told “here’s your raise.” My paycheck was just higher. So no chance to negotiate.

          Is it worth talking to my manager about it? I worry if I accept this one they’ll go with the whole “we gave you a raise last year” and theres no more promotions for at least two years.

          Unfortunately, my direct manager and grandmanager has no salary control. It was run by the CEO and he died around new year and I’m not even sure who to talk to. Help.

        2. MK*

          I doubt OP will find anyone at this company willing to offer a reference. And I am not sure what good a “I didn’t have much to do with her, but as far as I could tell she came to work and is not a psycho and seems competent” reference is.

          1. Wolfram alpha*

            EAs work with tons of people. I can tell you who is good or not in a heartbeat since I worked closely with several executives.

            OP definitely reach out to your former EAs frequent fliers to see about references.

      2. Observer*

        That stinks.

        You’re going to need to be honest, brief and factual. The scripts people have mentioned are your best bet.

      3. a-no*

        If you were there for 6.5 years did you get any raises on a regular schedule or have any written performance evaluations or anything like that?
        Is there any way you could get a combo of someone you spoke with regularly/worked near you who could vouch that you did show up and were friendly/personable (as more of a general reference not a professional one), a proven money trail and/or the HR employment dates? I think any combo of those with a very brief explanation I wouldn’t blame you.
        Then I’d wait until the reference stage and I would mention my boss did leave on bad terms with the company and as I didn’t work with anyone else closely this is what I could offer.

        Also the temp thing is a fantastic idea. You have the experience and you could get some work through them and build up a bit of a reputation. There are temp to perm positions that if you can snag one, you’d not need references as you prove your work to them to get the perm position.

        1. a-no*

          Oh, re-reading: if the lawsuit is likely going to get around in the field you are in – Is there anyway HR would be willing to confirm why you were let go / that you were not involved in anyway with your bosses misconduct? Being able to offer that to someone who knows why your boss was fired would likely change the perception of you

      4. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

        Were there are any assistants you interacted with regularly – admins to folks that your boss dealt with a lot, so you coordinated with their admins sometimes? The higher up the food chain the better for references, but even a peer would be better than nothing.

      5. boo*

        Okay, this might be crazy, but it sounds like you had a good relationship with your boss prior to her being escorted out for inappropriate conduct, even friendly enough that you hung out socially with her and her wife.

        Could you reach out to her, tell her you were shocked and blindsided by what happened (which you were), and ask if she will be a reference for you?

        I know that probably sounds bad, like you’re supporting her bad behavior or looking the other way, but she’s already been caught and fired-the consequences have happened.

        You have a history of doing good work for someone who was happy with your performance for over six years. You shouldn’t be punished for her sins, and that’s basically what’s happening. I know the morality on this is icky, but I’m a utilitarian: she’s already seen the consequences of her actions, and you need a job. You can cut her off when you have one and don’t need her reference anymore.

        Thoughts? Is this horrible, amoral advice? (If the commentariat says it is, listen to them, not me!)

        1. Anonymous Poster*

          I don’t think this is out of line, as long as the former manager has cooled off some and is no longer blaming Lillian for what happened. If she’s willing to give a reference, it would be ideal, though a bit… tainted given the circumstances of why she was fired.

        2. boo*

          Also, I’m sorry this is happening to you. Losing your own livelihood over someone else’s misdeeds is so unjust, and both your boss and your company owed it to you to do better.

        3. Thlayli*

          I don’t think this is a bad idea at all – it’s what I was going to suggest. Even if you don’t have a number you know where she lives as you’ve been to her house. So you could write her a letter to tell her you weren’t involved at all, what happened to you as a result of her actions, and ask her to be a reference.

        4. Detective Amy Santiago*

          How likely is it that word would have gotten around about what boss did? If there’s a 10% or less chance, then this might be okay. But it would probably be worse for her to have a reference from someone who did something awful and was fired for it than to not have one at all.

        5. Observer*

          The real problem here is that if people know why the boss was let go, they are not going to take anything she has to say in a positive light. So, not helpful.

      6. theletter*

        I once was able to provide a personal reference – the director of a choir that I had sung with for many years. Sometimes teachers work as well. church/spiritual leaders or volunteer work may also bear fruits.

    4. Kau*

      Why did you feel the need to mention that your boss is a woman and has a wife? Why is this even relevant?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        She’s mentioning that her boss is a woman because she’s using pronouns to refer to her, which is pretty normal. And she mentioned the wife in the context of explaining she’d been to their house for dinner. Please don’t nitpick language here like that.

        site rules

        (I’m removing the rest of the comments saying the same thing so that it doesn’t derail more than it already has.)

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        She just used pronouns to refer to people (and, I guess, said that her boss and her boss’ wife had her over for dinner).

    5. Anonymous Poster*

      I mean, if they directly ask, you can’t lie. But most people won’t, so I wouldn’t worry too much. You’re right that the big problem here is, though, that you have for all intents and purposes no real reference to give out after a decent amount of time at this workplace. It really sucks! I’d wonder, if I were hiring, why you can’t produce anyone that knew what you did and could speak to your abilities.

      Is there absolutely no one else you work with that could be a reference? Surely other people at your workplace are aware of the general scope of your work, that you were pleasant to interact with, and did a good job as an assistant. I’d offer up those folks if you can, because they should be able to really give a lot of insight that would be helpful.

      Now, with that, there will be an inevitable question of, “Why aren’t you providing your manager as a reference?” Practice a quick and correct response, because the details of the situation aren’t related to you directly (that is, it’s not as though there was harassment against you and you quit immediately). It may even be alright to be honest, “My manager was fired for harassment and is not available as a reference. However, X and Y can speak to my work as they often interacted with us both…”

      It’s an awful situation and I’m really sorry you got caught up in the middle of it. How awful.

    6. Overeducated*

      I’m sorry, it’s so unfair that you’re suffering collateral damage as well as the people your boss harrassed. I don’t know enough to give advice but you have my sympathy and good wishes.

    7. MashaKasha*

      Maybe it’s because I’m not all there emotionally right now as a result of dealing with back pain for the last two months, but this comment made me literally tear up with real tears. WTH kind of a mess is our corporate world in, if someone can be kicked out on the street like that through absolutely no fault of their own, no references, and no place to go! What kind of inanimate cogs do our employers think we are!… I have no words. What does this even mean there’s no job for you anymore, they will need a new executive director won’t they?! Fng ridiculous. I am so sorry.

      To your question, “after my boss was let go, my position was eliminated” sounds like a good way to phrase it to me. Best of luck in your job search.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I agree, I felt really bad for you, OP. It sucks.

        You will get through this.

        Sometimes unforeseens happen. Such as another employer heard of the situation and they are willing to grant some leniency because you are able to describe what you did. (People who are lying cannot describe in detail what work they have done.)
        It could be that the next employer decides that your longevity at this job tells them everything they want to know. They are satisfied with just talking to you to fill in the rest of their blanks.
        You can also look at friends and family who you respect and ask them to keep an ear out for openings. You might get some consideration just based on the recommendation of someone who is established/respected at a company. In this case, you are looking for people you know are good at their jobs and have credibility with people inside the company.

        Good luck.
        Side note, I am really, really sorry that the boss you liked so well blew up like that on you. That stung. I am so sorry.

      2. Fish Microwaver*

        I agree too. The poor OP was thrown under the bus by the boss and the employer. Lillian, I am very sorry you are going through this and send good vibes for your job search and future career.

      3. Observer*

        I suspect that someone decided that the OP really WAS to blame – or would like to make it look that way to deflect attention from people who really might have responsibility. I mean what they are claiming about how references work is just nonsense.

    8. MashaKasha*

      Because she has a wife?

      Would you be leaving the same comment if the OP said “she and her husband had me over to dinner”? Why is this even relevant?

    9. The Person from the Resume*

      No need to attack the poster. She didn’t actual say that her boss was a woman, we all inferred that the pronouns used.

      She mentioned the wife in explaining how her boss was good to her and how they had such a very good relationship in the past that she had dinner at her house with her boss and her boss’s wife. Yes, she could have used partner or spouse but wife/husband is more informal and IMO more commonly used than partner or spouse.

      Lillian did nothing wrong inappropriate with this post and did nothing to paint all lesbians or women in a bad light.

    10. CatCat*

      Perhaps something like, “My boss was let go suddenly and I was subsequently laid off since there was no longer work for me.”

      For the references, this whole thing really sucks for you and I am sorry. You can explain, “My boss had been the only person I worked closely with and unfortunately, I don’t have contact information for her since she left [prior employer.] I can however, offer [XYZ].” Figuring out what XYZ is is the challenge. If there is anyone you were acquainted with at work or anyone you’ve done volunteer work with, you could do that. You may be in the pickle of having to use personal references, just people who know you but haven’t worked with you. Not at all ideal, but it happens.

      As for work, I would consider looking into temping through a temp agency. I did a lot of temping early in my working life and it was a great way to get work and build up a professional reputation. Best of luck to you!!

    11. Natalie*

      This really sucks! I’m sorry.

      One thing I would do is connect with some staffing/temp firms. A lot of firms seem to do both these days, so you might pick up some temp work for now or get interviews for temp to perm or direct hire positions. Recruiters can be really helpful when you have something odd or difficult in your history because they are a third party presenting you to the client and they can address issues more directly than is usually appropriate for a job candidate to do. They can help you brainstorm other reference options. And if you do any temp work, good reports from those companies will serve as a bit of a reference for you as well.

      Also, just in case you’re concerned, it’s usually acceptable to earn some money while you’re collecting unemployment. Over a certain amount will cause that week’s benefit payment to be reduced, but most (possibly all) states don’t reduce it 1-to-1, so you’ll still be a little ahead than if you had no work.

      1. TallTeapot*

        I second the idea about staffing firms. It sounds like you’re in a larger metropolitan area and those sorts fo places usually have very active staffing agencies. for admin assistant work, often time that is how some firms hire people for those kinds of jobs–not through employment ads, but by hiring temps. Good luck–what a difficult situation!

      2. AllIDoIsWin*

        I recommend temping as well; that way you can start working short term gigs with companies and possibly build up some references. Ask the temp agencies about that when you start – will you be able to use managers you work with as a reference or someone at the temp agency? Another idea is to volunteer at some non-profits – they often need help in administrative areas where funding doesn’t always pay for it and you can build up that reference list from them. Do you have any people in your life who have worked with you in other capacities that you may tap for character references (former co-workers, people you know from hobbies or affiliations you were a part of)? Good luck – that’s a rough spot to be in!

    12. Cajun2core*

      I have a feeling that one day hopefully soon, that your boss’s position will be replaced. Hopefully at that time, you can apply for your “old job” with the new person. I could be totally wrong about that. In any case, I would definitely keep an eye open for jobs at your previous employer. Granted you may not want to work there after the way they treated you, but it is better than nothing and while you are working there, you can still look for another job.

    13. Lillian*

      Thank you for the helpful replies :)

      As I said I didn’t work for anyone else and there is no one I worked closely with. I have no other references. I wish I did.

      The person who is replacing my boss already has an assistant. Everyone there who needs an assistant has long term ones. There is no spot for me there.

      I will see about temping as I have no other work and no volunteer experience. Thank you to everyone for the suggestions.

      1. Anonymous Poster*

        I understand that you didn’t work for anyone else. Who else in your office did you interact with occasionally in your role? Did you interact with a director, a VP, or another EA? All of these people could be your reference. These are all people that while they didn’t directly supervise you, know of your work because you intersected with them.

        I understand also that you didn’t work closely with these people, but honestly, any reference will be better than none. What about fellow EAs that you had to work with when coordinating things between different executives? What about your supervisor’s reports, who I’m guessing would talk with you upon occasion?

        The trick is that while you didn’t work closely with them, they’re your main resource to overcome the big problem of not having your manager as a reference. And if you can cobble together a bunch of them, that should help a lot. So think about the people you may have only reached out to once a week or every other week, or every month. Having to cobble together references from peers when your manager is marched out the door is better than having no references at all.

        Take some time and think about who these people are.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          This is very good advice. Just because HR said that you can only get a reference from your boss doesn’t mean it’s true. Sure, most employers prefer supervisory references, but in your situation, I would certainly understand a combination of verified dates and a colleague reference.

        2. Anonymous Poster*

          Also another avenue, if people at your past organization really don’t want to give out references, is think about people that have left in the past year or two who you occasionally interacted with. Past EAs, directors, VPs, people who reported to your manager, all these folks no longer are constrained by your past organization’s insistence on ‘no references’ and can speak to your work. Give them a call or grab a coffee with them, and ask them if they’d be willing to do this. I’d expect them to ask why not just get your manager, and then you can briefly explain the situation.

          Most people would be so sympathetic to your plight (and it really, really stinks) that they’ll do whatever they can to help you out, including acting as a reference and speaking to your work as they saw it, when you had to interact with them.

          Very few roles in any organization interact with solely one other individual! This would be very unusual; surely you had to coordinate things with other people.

          You’re more awesome than you’re giving yourself credit for!

      2. Koko*

        Who did your boss work closely with? I would think that as an EA you would have had extensive contact with those people when scheduling meetings, taking phone calls, etc. They should be able to vouch for your demeanor, professionalism, conscientiousness, etc.

      3. Christmas Carol*

        Did you have any particular vendors, clients, or agencies that you had developed strong on-going relationships with? The banker, the official at the government compliance office, the dispatcher at the freight company, the manager from the copy machine place, the events manager at the meeting site where you arranged the big week long company meeting, the editor who you worked with when your company published its new catalog, the web developer you helped finally get paid, a benefits manager you worked with when your company changed health insurance carriers

        1. Lillian*

          I was an assistant. I didn’t do any of this or deal with any of these people. I only worked closely with my boss. I thought by stating my title and saying I only worked closely with her it would have made things clear but in hindsught I guess I should have been more clear.

          1. Elizabeth H.*

            I think it’s just really difficult to imagine that you worked in an office with other people and there wasn’t anybody else besides your boss that you saw every day, spoke to, asked a question of or was asked a question by at least a few times a week. Because your office wasn’t just you and your boss, it sounds like, it’s easy to imagine that there are other people in the same building/office who knew who you were and what your job was. If you literally just saw your boss and ONLY your boss every single day that seems like a really unusual circumstance and that’s why people keep pressing about other people from the office. Like a receptionist that you walked by everyday or someone you explained how to make copies or explained to you how to make copies when you started, stuff like that. I think people are suggesting that there may be somebody like that in your office, not even necessarily somebody who you were in meetings with and sent e-mails back and forth with on a regular basis (although it’s also a little bit difficult to imagine that your boss was the only person who ever emailed you and whom you ever emailed) – it seems like other people at the company at least knew who you are – I think that is the level that commenters are referring to)

            Anyway, I am so sorry that you are in this situation. It sounds so awful and upsetting and I wish you all the best in finding another job.

    14. Secretary*

      A really short and to the point explanation is good. “My position was eliminated.” If you’re asked for more detail, or why you don’t have references, “My supervisor’s position was eliminated suddenly, and I have no way to contact her. That is actually why my position was eliminate, because I had no one left to assist!” (Bonus if you say this with a smile and a ‘what can you do?’ kind of demeanor. I doubt they will ask you more than this).

      For references:
      -Is there any jobs like food service, retail etc before your first professional job with references you can use? These are still managers which could help.
      -Do you do any volunteering or side hustles where you have reported to someone? I’ve used people in those capacities for references as well. Some types of volunteering job performance is not applicable, but sometimes it is.
      -Can you reach out one more time to someone at your old company about this? Not HR, but maybe your boss’s boss? At my old job, they by policy do not give out references if you call the main line, but my supervisor gave me her personal number to give as a reference if I needed one.
      -Could you talk to HR, and ask if there’s any records of performance reviews they can release to you? Or if they will give a reference or release records if you can provide them with a signed document with your permission?
      -Is there anyone, ANYONE at your old job that could give you a reference? Maybe clients? Co-workers? These are not ideal references but it’s better than nothing.

      1. Lillian*

        “I started working there in the summer right after high school. I have never had another job before”

        “The company says they will confirm my employment dates but that any reference can only be given by someone who was my boss and knows my work.”

        As I said I have never had another job and there is no one else I worked for or closely with.

        1. Secretary*

          Lillian, I’m sorry if I came off like I was ignoring key aspects of your predicament, I didn’t mean to come across like I wasn’t taking you at your word.
          Responding to the quotes you used:
          1. I mentioned retail/food service in case you worked while in high school. That counts and lots of people don’t realize that, but I’m glad you do.
          2. Just because a company says they can’t give you a reference doesn’t mean you can’t get one. A lot of people don’t realize they can ask people directly and not just through the company. You may also be able to negotiate what they say your reason for departure was.

          I read your original letter, please feel free to use any of it that actually applies and discount the rest as a stranger who doesn’t know your full situation and what you have/have not considered.

          1. Lindsay J*

            2. Just because a company says they can’t give you a reference doesn’t mean you can’t get one. A lot of people don’t realize they can ask people directly and not just through the company. You may also be able to negotiate what they say your reason for departure was.

            Agreed. A lot (almost all) of my previous jobs have had “no reference” policies, but I’ve been able to work around them by either contacting people who had left the company prior to me so they did not have to follow the company’s rules anymore, or by finding people willing to give direct contact info and give the reference, because, really, how is the company going to find out that they did it.

            Obviously Lillian’s situation sounds to be a little different since she says there isn’t anyone else she worked with closely.

            But in general, these policies can generally be worked around.

    15. DeeShyOne*

      I’m very sorry you’re going through this. I have been in your shoes and found it to be a fantastic learning opportunity. (admittedly after the fact, I didn’t have this clarity going through through it at the time)

      I agree with what Millennial Lawyer said:

      “I wouldn’t even mention inappropriate conduct. Just that “my boss was terminated, and since my role was directly supporting hers, it was eliminated.” If asked why you can’t get a reference from her maybe say “unfortunately she left on bad terms, but I can get confirmation of my employment dates from the company.”

      This confirms this is a touchy subject and based on that, even if you had a reference from your previous employer, their HR may advise against that due to the nature of the dismissal.

      This might be a good time to see if you can obtain a reference from a different source: former teacher/mentor, long time family friend, etc. Someone else who can verify your work ethic and experience.

      All the best and good luck!

    16. Wow*

      I feel really bad for Lillian.

      Alison asks that people be taken at their word. Lillian asked how to explain the no references thing when applying for other jobs.

      She CLEARLY posted that she has no other work experience. She CLEARLY posted that she has no one to ask for a reference. Yet instead of answering her question, people are asking her about other past jobs and/or telling her who else is reference possibility.

      That’s not what she asked and it is not helpful. I’m sorry you have been treated this way by the other commenters Lillian. It happens a lot here that people are not taken at their word despite Alison’s rule. I wish you well in your future endeavors.

        1. Lindsay J*

          And, because, honestly, going, “I don’t have any references at all for my entire working career” is going to disqualify you from many hiring processes, no matter how you frame it. So wordsmithing the absolute best sentence in the world may still not be helpful.

          So by trying to identify any other possibilities that may exist (like non-supervisors, former teachers, etc) , or identifying options to build new references (like volunteering or temp work) people are trying to help Lillian the best that they can.

          If the suggestions don’t work for Lillian, she is free to ignore them and free to use the suggestions that do work for her, as there have been several excellent suggestions for how she can explain it.

          And there is the possibility of the suggestions helping someone who is in a similar predicament but that isn’t the original poster. That’s part of the benefit of a public forum/thread.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I don’t think there is anything wrong with people suggesting some ‘out of the box’ type ideas for obtaining a reference. A lot of people assume that you can only use your direct supervisor and given the circumstances, that is not her only option.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          Yeah, I think a lot of people are wondering if there’s truly no one else, or if Lillian is taking the company’s HR at their word that people other than a supervisor aren’t allowed to provide references. There are a lot of restrictive company reference policies that are mostly ignored in practice, and since the OP doesn’t have a very wide range of work experience she may not realize she could ask others at the company for references even if they weren’t particularly close or if HR would frown on that person as an official reference.

          If she’s correct that she basically only ever interacted with her boss (which is pretty unusual for an EA, to be honest), then that really does suck and she has my sympathy.

          1. Thlayli*

            It wasn’t until I started frequenting this site that I even found out there are people who ask HR for an “official” reference. I’ve always just directly asked the person who I thought would give me the best reference. In this case, that’s clearly the boss. It’s irrelevant that she no longer works there. The only reason not to use the boss is
            A) if you can’t convince your boss you had nothing to do with it and she refuses to give you a reference
            Or
            B) if what she did becomes widely known in the industry to the extent she would be a bad reference.

          2. nonegiven*

            Usually you’d think at least there would be other direct reports and other boss’s EAs that you’d have at least email or phone contact for work purposes that could say something positive.

      2. YuliaC*

        I think it is very helpful when people suggest who else might be reference material. I certainly had found such suggestions helpful when I was in a similar situation to OP’s after the first layoff in my life. People relatively new to the wide working world may not realize that even someone as remote a client who saw you maybe twice in your life can still be a reference when nothing better is available. I would never think of that client of mine if someone didn’t point out to me that ANY good reference is better than none. Turned out the client was super happy and understanding, and gave me a glowing reference that helped a lot.

      3. Specialk9*

        This is a weird level of outrage on this poster’s behalf. Nobody is running through the streets chanting “liar liar”, they are doing the best they can with what they know. Some skimmed and missed a point, some saw and understood but were trying to go sideways and check if the panicked OP has thought of everything. But no need to attack people for trying to help a stranger.

      4. Lillian*

        Thank you Wow. I understand people were trying to be helpful but I am frustrated that like you said, people aren’t listening to what I am saying or answering my question. I know some people did and did try to help so I do appreciate that. Maybe in hindsight I should have been more clear about my job. When I said I was her assistant I thought it would be enough. I appreciate you standing up for me Wow and for saying what I was thinking.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          It is highly unusual that an assistant doesn’t ever interact with anyone else in the company. In fact, it’s probably not inaccurate to say that assistants are likely to interact with *more* people than the person they support because they are generally counted on to do a lot of interdepartmental communication.

          By suggesting that you consider alternative options within the company for a reference, we *were* trying to help you.

          And I can’t help but wonder what Alison would find if she compared the IP addresses for Wow and Lillian.

    17. Slartibartfast*

      The small business I worked at was bought out by someone who was….not a nice person. Being a small business, there’s nobody else to go to, management wise, for a reference. Officially, we’re not allowed to give one either. Unofficially, three of us agreed to be references for each other using our personal addresses and phone numbers. Not ideal, since we’re equals, but it’s all we’ve got.

      1. Anonymous Poster*

        This also is not super uncommon. Lots of businesses say that only HR can be a reference and management cannot give out references. Lots of managers at these places also continue to regularly give out references.

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          Yes. I make it a point to deliberately not know anything about my company’s “official” reference policy and because they haven’t told me (that or many, many other things about hiring & managing) then I’m pleasantly ignorant. “Oh, nobody ever told me the official policy” with a question mark on my face is my planned answer.

    18. JGray*

      I would not say that my boss was let go because of inappropriate conduct right away. Say your boss was let go and so your position was eliminated because you were her assistant. This would be said in an interview setting. When it comes time to check references than you can explain more but do not say anything that would get you involved in this situation any more than you already are. Without meaning too you might accidentally infer that you knew about what she was doing even though you didn’t know. You need to tread lightly with this one. With the lawsuit it will all come out but right now try to distance yourself as much as you can from the situation.

    19. Sled Dog Mama*

      Wow just wow. OP I wish I had something really helpful to offer but I don’t.
      The only thing I can think of that isn’t mentioned above is what about calling the old company and see if in addition to confirming dates of employment they will confirm that you are eligible for rehire. I don’t know that it would be a huge help but if your previous employer says yes we’d hire this person if they applied to me that says that as a company they had no issues and in a roundabout way says you have nothing to do with your boss being let go.

      1. Anonymous Poster*

        Yes, if for some reason the OP really cannot get any person as a reference, this would be your next best option.

        I’d really push back on not finding a reference though. Maybe even someone that’s left the organization in the past year or so, who’s not in fear of the company finding out about them giving out a reference, who can speak to you being pleasant to interact with or staying on top of your normal duties and doing a great job, would be an option.

    20. Trillion*

      Others have covered it well (“my position was eliminated”), I just want to chime with my old lady wisdom.

      I’m sensing a lot of anxiety, betrayal, and grief in your words. I went through something similar at your age (worked at a place right out of college for ~6 years, great boss, but position was eliminated so I was out of a job due to no fault of my own). At the time it was the end of the world for me. I was on unemployment for what felt like forever before getting hired at a temp agency (in reality “forever” was only two weeks!)

      All that to say: please know that you’re going to get through this. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the pain you’re feeling will eventually hurt less. You’re going to go on to some wonderful jobs (and perhaps no so wonderful ones).

      Good luck in your job hunt! I’m so sorry this happened to you.

      1. Specialk9*

        YES. Getting laid off is an intense emotional ride, like falling through ice on a winter pond, getting hauled out by your hair, then kicked by a donkey. It sucks. And you have to scramble and find money somehow, and act like it’s ok, and it all sucks more. Big internet hugs, if you’d like them.

    21. DeveloperDodo*

      This may or may not apply (I’m not in the US, so things may be different there), but I’ve always found that telling the truth (as horrid as may be) in a matter of fact tone works wonders. I work in a highly technical field, so saying it as if it’s a list of bullet points you’re reading off works.
      So a simple “My position was eliminated after my boss was let go for inappropriate behaviour” will work best. I doubt anybody is going to dig into that part of your employment too deeply after that.
      The company will verify that you worked there from X date until Y date, after you tell them what your job consisted of, they will have no reason to doubt you.

  3. KMB213*

    I am getting increasingly disheartened with my job search. I’ve been selective about applying only for jobs I’m qualified for (and not applying for jobs I’m obviously overqualified for). I’ve had two friends in HR and two friends who are hiring managers for similar types of positions look over my resume for content and formatting and one more look over it for spelling or grammatical errors. I always have at least one person look at my cover letters before I submit them. (I’ve had the aforementioned five friends look at a basic cover letter template I use – I’m sure to personalize it for each job and have someone look at the final product, but each cover is similar as I’m applying to very similar positions requiring basically the same skillset.) I’m not even getting interviews. I’m so frustrated because I don’t know what I could do differently. I’ve been applying to jobs for a little over a year – there have been months where I’ve taken a break and not done any applications, but I’d say I’ve averaged two a month. I haven’t been applying super aggressively because I’d hate to leave one job I really dislike for another job I really dislike, so I’ve been somewhat choosy. I’ve had maybe five phone screens in that time, with three that led to additional interviews (in one case, I was a finalist and was not selected, in one case I realized the job wasn’t for me and asked to be removed from consideration, and in the third case, I went in for one in-person interview and never heard back).
    To make things worse, my current job seems to get worse by the day. My boss frequently makes comments that make me uncomfortable, including talking about women’s bodies and using a homophobic slur. 1-2 times a week I’m unable to get lunch due to not having the time. I frequently (at least three times a week) have to stay hours late because my boss asks to have something done at the very end of the day. This would be bad enough on its own, but he naps in the middle of the day, which makes it more irritating, because, if he were to ask for these things in the afternoon, I could easily complete them. The reason I know my boss naps in the middle of the day? Our office recently moved to his house – not to a separate part of the house. He has a bedroom, but, other than that, the house is basically now an office that he lives in. He comes downstairs in his pajamas and, since he’s always here, talks to me (typically about things unrelated to work) when I’m trying to finish up for the day (an hour or two after I was supposed to leave). On top of all of that, my boss is not a clear communicator (and he has had this problem with employees in the past), but, when I ask for clarification, he talks down to me. He also vacillates between micromanaging me (requiring things as simple as an Excel search be done exactly his way when there’s more than one correct way to do it) and giving me no direction whatsoever. He interrupts me in meetings and will ask for my opinion only to completely ignore it. Often, my contributions in meetings go ignored, only to have a colleague be praised for the same idea.
    The job also requires a really long commute and doesn’t provide health insurance – two things I knew going in to it, but two more reasons I’d really like a new job.

    I don’t really have a question or anything, I just really needed to vent. And, if anyone has any suggestions about what I could do differently in my job search, I’m happy to hear them! I’d also love any suggestions for how to deal with working a job that’s making me miserable. I truly am trying to get out, but, for now, I need to survive in this job. (I have enough money saved to go 2-3 months without working, but I’d prefer not to!)

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      It sounds like maybe it’s time to get more aggressive! You’re applying infrequently, and while choosiness isn’t a bad trait, it sounds like the way you’ve been going at it no longer meshes with your goal for a timeline in getting out of your current situation. Your current job sounds awful!

      Without knowing more about your area and industry, it’s hard to say exactly what a job search timeframe should look like. It’s possible that you might have to consider taking on something that is slightly tangential to your desired career path in order to get yourself out of your current office-house of evil bees.

      1. KMB213*

        You’re probably right! My current job has gotten increasingly worse – at first, I wanted to look for something new, but it wasn’t that important to me that I leave, which is why I was only applying for things that were a really good fit. At this point, though, I’m definitely more motivated to leave than I was before.

        I have been at my current workplace 3.5 years and was at my previous workplace 7 years (my only two professional jobs), so, if I get a new job and it doesn’t work out, I guess it wouldn’t be too horrible to have one short term job on my resume. When I start applying that was also a concern – I didn’t want one two year stint followed by another relatively short stint if I got something new and it didn’t work out, but now that I’m nearing the four year mark, I guess this job hasn’t been a short stint.

      2. Overeducated*

        I agree, I think this sounds like a numbers game and so far the numbers are just small. If you increase the number of applications and your proportion of call backs stays the same, you will wind up with more options. Try adding in more stretch jobs or lateral but slightly different jobs, maybe? I know it’s really hard to do an aggressive job search while already working, especially when just getting through the day sounds so frustrating and draining, though.

        1. Hey Nonnie*

          Yes, and start applying for things that may not be a “perfect” fit on paper. If it’s an 80% fit, go for it. Often job postings are very pie-in-the-sky idealized versions of skillsets that do not exist in reality; and when you actually talk to them, there’s more flexibility in what they’re looking for than is implied by the ad. Sometimes they’ll put their “nice-to-haves” in the same list as their “must-haves.” Or maybe some of their must-haves are close enough to your skills that it’s an opportunity to grow, rather than a barrier to entry. Either way, let them decide if they want to talk to you further, rather than making that choice for them.

          Two applications a month isn’t very much. I’ve felt guilty for only doing two a week. There are times when new job listings are just that thin on the ground, but I generally try for 3-5 a week.

          1. Specialk9*

            They say that men apply with a 60% fit. Read up on that and start upping your numbers. It’s literally just a numbers game.

            Also, if at all possible, open up your geographic area. I applied for 2.5 years without luck, then looked around the country for cities I heard good things about, and that worked.

            A friend knew she wanted to be in NYC, and was able to couch surf and dog watch until she found a good job. (She was careful to be e a very good guest.)

            1. KMB213*

              Unfortunately, I’m pretty settled in my area – I own a home, my mother has a chronic illness and I help care for her (this has lessened recently now that my father is working significantly less in preparation for retirement, but she still relies on me), I have a long-term SO who can’t easily change jobs (basically, he was able to work his way into his position, but no other business would hire him to do it, at near his salary, without a college degree), etc. And, I like my area – I actually moved away for seven years but wound up back here because I love it so much!

              I will, however, expand my search a bit. Right now, the long drive is part of what I hate about my job, so I’ve only been looking closer to home. But, if I can find a job that’s as far as my current one (about a 50 minute drive each way), but better in every other way, it would definitely be a good change.

              Thanks for the suggestion!

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      If I’m reading this correctly, you’ve had three in-person interviews out of roughly twenty-four applications? I don’t actually think that’s out of the norm in terms of application-to-interview ratios.

      Job searching is so frustrating, especially when you’re miserable in your current role. I have no suggestions, but sending you lots of positive vibes1

      1. KMB213*

        Yes, that is correct (now that I think about it more, I may have been looking for closer to 14 months than for a year, but it’s still roughly correct).

        I think I just found my current job and my previous job (my only two professional jobs) way too easily! In both instances, I applied to about five jobs, got at least phone screens at all of them, and got my offers after about two months of looking. I probably need to adjust my expectations!

        And, thanks for the positive vibes!

    3. JD SAHE*

      I hate to make up statistics, but I once read something to the effect that a woman will normally only apply for a job that you meet 80% of the job requirements, and a man will apply for a job that he meets 20%. Maybe start stretching your definition of “meets requirements” more. I’ve never held a job where all my duties – or sometimes even my most common duties – were in the description. Does the other stuff sound interesting, does it sound like something you CAN do? Is it something you’d like to be exposed to? APPLY. The worst thing that can happen is you get a rejection letter. You may discover an unknown passion, or a team that would be perfect.

      1. KMB213*

        Thanks for the advice! I have definitely applied to a few jobs that aren’t ideally what I’d like to do, but that I think I’m well-qualified for based on what I’ve done in the past. I will have to start expanding into jobs where I meet most, but not necessarily all of the qualifications.

      2. CatCat*

        Yes! Please apply for the roles you are perceiving as stretch roles! You will be no worse off for having applied!

        1. TGIF*

          I second this wholeheartedly! The job I’m in now is actually a stretch job that I nearly didn’t apply for. However, the people I met with liked me so much and thought I was a good fit that they changed some of the qualifications of the job slightly that the job was a great fit! And now that I’m in the job, I’m learning things that will one day allow me to fulfill all the original points of the qualifications they dropped.

          So definitely try for reach jobs! The worst that will happen is a rejection; the best might mean a job tweeked slightly so that they can hire you!

      3. Koko*

        Yes, definitely do this. The qualifications in a job ad are a “wish list” – individual items are almost always negotiable as long as the total package you bring to the table has value. I interview people *all the time* who don’t meet every item on the list, but who look like they shine enough in other areas.

        If you don’t have a skill but feel reasonably confident you could pick it up, apply. If you get an interview you can say, “I’ve never used Software X before, but I have used similar applications and have always found it easy to pick up new software,” or whatever equivalent.

        1. KMB213*

          Oh yeah, I wouldn’t mind working at a job I’m overqualified for if the pay is near what I make now (I can take about a $10,000 pay cut if I get health insurance, more than that, it would probably be difficult for me to pay my bills), I just know that, often people won’t interview or hire those they think are overqualified because they think (and are probably often right) that someone way overqualified will get bored and be looking to move on the next position quickly.

    4. TGIF*

      I totally feel you about how job searching can be so disheartening. Trust me, I’m there with you. It took me a year and a half of searching to get out of my crappy job and get to a place where I am so much happier and actually enjoy coming into work in the morning.

      If you don’t mind a suggestion, you need to be much more aggressive with you’re searching. Two applications a month is very, VERY small. I was averaging three to four applications every week and it still took a long time to get out. You can still be picky with where you end up. In fact, it’s better to send more apps out because, even if you just get one interview and never hear from them again, it gives you a feel of other positions and companies.

      I got an offer halfway through my long search and turned it down because I could tell the moment I stepped into the office for the interview that it was just as bad as where I currently was. And it was so empowering to turn it, rather than disheartening, because I was making the choice, rather than taking something out of desperation. So please, PLEASE up your applications or it will take you years to get out. I’d say at least one application a week but preferably more.

      1. KMB213*

        How did you find the time to apply for so many jobs? I work 60 hours a week at my primary job and 15 hours a week at my second job. Add a 1.5-2 hour daily commute and all of my other commitments in to the mix and, on top of not wanting to apply for jobs I won’t even be considered for, I have a lot of trouble finding time to even apply. I guess I need to get better at time management!

        1. Tiny Orchid*

          When I was job searching, the cadence I got into was:

          1) On my lunch break, look at job postings. Pick one job posting to apply to.
          2) After work and dinner, write cover letter and tweak resume.
          3) In the morning, before I left for work, review all the materials and submit.

          It sucked. It felt like all I did was apply for jobs. But it helped to have it broken down into 3 mini-tasks.

          1. KMB213*

            I like this idea, too! I’ll have to get up a bit earlier, but I think doing some of the work in the morning is a good idea!

        2. TGIF*

          Oh well, I certainly wasn’t doing hours like you are! Whoa, sorry, didn’t mean to push it, didn’t realize you were so booked up. When I was job searching, my job only a 40 hour a week job and, while I did have some other commitments, I still had plenty of time in the evenings and weekends to search and apply to jobs. Sorry that I so misunderstood your time restraints.

          Still, I really do think you need to apply more. Even with my high average, a lot of my applications went nowhere. If I sent out 20 applications in a month, I might have gotten three phone interviews and one in person interview. Many of my apps got rejections or simply went silent. Your ratio of apps to phone interviews already seems pretty high so imagine how many more opportunities you would have if you got some more job apps out.

          But maybe you do have to sacrifice some commitment to do more apps. I did turn down fun plans with family and friends because I’d slacked off on applications for a week or two and knew I needed to spend a weekend afternoon applying to openings. It sucked but it was certainly worth it in the end because I’m so much happier now than where I was.

          1. KMB213*

            Oh, I definitely didn’t make it clear that limited time was part of the reason I’ve limited my search!

            And you’re totally right – I likely won’t be able to fit in 3-4 applications a week, but I can at least double what I’m doing and shoot for one a week/four-five a month. It’s a good place to start!

        3. WellRed*

          Can you increase hours at part time job, quit the full time job and ramp up your job search? Can you push back against all the hours at the full time job? I mean, it’s easy for me to say this, but if you are leaving and the boss asks you to do one more thing, what would happen if you said you had a prior committment and it would have to wait until the next day.

          1. KMB213*

            Unfortunately, I can’t. If my primary job gets really bad, I can quit it and live off the part time job and my savings for a bit, but I’d really prefer not to.

            I have tried to push back on staying late, but it’s difficult to do with my current boss and in my current position. I will try to be more assertive moving forward, though.

        4. June*

          Health impact: Could you shorten your hours at your primary job? Maybe have your dr write a note that due to health problems, you can not work more than 40 hours a week. Could you use some of your sick leave to take a day off (cause really, this job is making you ill) and work on your job search? Or take extra sick time before or after a dr appt to work on your job search?
          Readers: I am not asking our poor letter writer to do something unethical but view the time off as taking care of her health.
          Lunch time: Could you job search on your lunch hour (you know, when Mr Nappy is sleeping?)? If you rather not job hunt at the office, maybe go to a library or coffee shop? You really should take your lunch hour since you are probably not getting paid to work that hour. I know that is hard to do but with practice, your “I deserve a lunch hour” muscle gets built up over time.
          Commute: If your commute is on public transportation, could you get a tablet or laptop to work on during the commute?
          Appreciation and support: You are in my prayers cause I know what this is like (too long of a story to share). It’s painful and soul crushing. Your boss does not appreciate your hard work and efforts but us readers know that you are awesome! Your next boss will be so grateful you were hired! hang in there as I can tell you, it gets better!

          1. KMB213*

            I desperately need to shorten the hours at my primary job (including taking my lunch), I am just not assertive enough. It’s also a very small business so, with some of this work, if I don’t do it, no one will. I know that’s not 100% my problem, but I feel like it will cause more stress. I have very limited PTO (10 days/year, to include sick and vacation, but I do get a few holidays on top of that).

            I probably shouldn’t have used the word “commute.” I drive. I have started listening to books on tape (usually for pleasure, not work-related) and that helps make the commute feel shorter! I don’t get any work done, but at least I feel like I’m getting some time back!

            Thanks for the support!

            1. Artemesia*

              Take lunch. Just do it. If Mr. Naphead whines, let him know you will get to this task after lunch. If he is napping all afternoon and you could get the job done if only he would give it to you earlier, then there is time to get it done. SO If a task is layed on you at 5 pm, tell the boss that you have an appointment this evening but will focus on this task first thing in the morning and get those tasks done during the regular work day. Do this matter of factly but firmly. Take some positive steps to not be abused. Yes there is some risk, but most bullies like this fold if met with calm firmness. And working yourself into exhaustion lessens your ability to get a decent job.

              Hope you can pull it off.

            2. Observer*

              Not only is it not 100% your problem, it is not 1% your problem. Or, to turn it around, it is 100% NOT your problem.

              As others suggested, start making after work appointments (even if it’s with your bed) and LEAVE.

      2. KMB213*

        I didn’t mean to sound flip – thank you for the advice! I do feel like I’m applying to nearly everything I see that I’m well-qualified, but not over-qualified for, but maybe I need to look other places.

    5. peachie*

      I’m sorry–that sounds like a stressful and frustrating place to be in. I don’t really have advice, but I’m sending good thoughts and hoping you get to move on from what sounds like a horrible job (homophobic slurs, really? we’re still doing that??).

      You may have already considered this, but do you work in an industry that employment agencies specialize in? My experience is that most employment agencies are bad to mediocre, but some are decent and some are great (particularly the “specialty” ones that focus on sectors like law, marketing, IT, etc). I got my current role through an agency, and they were good about talking through what I wanted to do and being an advocate on my behalf to the companies I was applying for.

      1. KMB213*

        My job function (primarily HR, a bit of administrative work earlier in my career) pretty much exists across all industries. I’d thought about working with an employment agency, but hadn’t taken the leap yet. I do have several acquaintances I met through an HR professionals networking group – I will check in and see if any of them has someone to recommend.

        1. Jadelyn*

          If you’re in HR, do you have a local SHRM chapter you could get in with? Do you have any certifications (PHR or SHRM-CP)? If you don’t, would you be interested in pursuing that (and financially able to)? Those could help boost your candidacy.

    6. Justin*

      You aren’t actually doing very poorly. For your number of applications, that’ s a good response.

      I’d just… apply more? I set myself quotas to hit when I was searching all through 2016. I had to apply for (x) jobs a week, and gave myself a break for holidays or if I had just had an interview, but not a long break. Eventually it worked out.

      1. KMB213*

        I will try giving myself a quota! I think I need to manage my time outside of work better, as well, and really make this a priority over nearly everything else.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          I also want to add that doing a slow, choosy job search is incredibly wearing! You feel like you’ve been looking for a year+ (because you have!), but at the same time, your number of applications is pretty small and your progress has actually been pretty good! All of which would feel more true if it had happened over 3 months, not 14. I have 100% been there.

          Good luck to you.

    7. Interested Bystander*

      I applied for over 200 jobs in about six months (located in 3 states because I was willing to relocate), (first half I was working 50/week and second half, I had been laid off) and I got roughly 25 interviews and two offers. I applied to positions that I believed I was at least 70 % qualified for, and a few that I was overqualified for. I wished I had held out for the second offer because it was almost 5K more and more fitting to my skills, but my advice would be to apply as much as possible, to anything that you roughly qualify for.

      1. KMB213*

        Thanks for the advice! I’m definitely getting the impression that I need to be much more aggressive. I will have to change around some things in my schedule and really prioritize this more.

    8. Jadelyn*

      Just looking at the numbers, if you’ve been searching for jobs for about a year, averaging 2 a month…that’s only 24 applications. Of those, 5 phone screens, 3 interviews, 1 where you were a finalist.

      Which means, you’ve got a 21% response rate overall (5 out of 24 resulted in some further contact) and a 12.5% interview rate (3 of 24 jobs interviewed you)/60% move-forward rate from phone screening to interview. Those are actually really solid numbers!

      So the solution may just be to get more aggressive. I mean, obviously don’t apply to anything you’d actually be unhappy to accept, but it might be time to lower your standards a teeny bit – be willing to compromise on some things, in order to get out of the awful environment you’re currently in. How’s your job history? If you’ve been at your current job for awhile, and your job history is solid (few or no short stays), it might be worth taking a less than ideal job for six months just to get you out of hell while you’re still looking for a job you genuinely want.

      1. KMB213*

        Yeah, I will need to apply more aggressively – I haven’t been particularly choosy, even, with applying for jobs that I think I wouldn’t 100% enjoy. Most of the jobs have been that! I’ve just been remiss to apply for positions that I don’t think I have a shot at. I will have to broaden my search in that way, though, and apply for listings where I meet 75%-80% of the qualifications.

        I’ve been at my current job for 3.5 years now and was at the last one for a little over 6.5 years (with one promotion at my current job and two at the previous one) and those have been my only two professional jobs, so I’m not too worried about looking like a job hopper if I’m only in my next position a short time.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I have no suggestions other than you’re probably going to have to step up the applications and take something less than optimal in order to get out of there. It sounds, frankly, like a flaming ball of suck.

  4. Lily*

    Wondering: how many readers here are outside the US? And if you don’t work in the US (or have worked abroad in the past), are there any pieces of advice here that you’re reasonably certain would /not/ be applicable outside the US?

    (I think most of the advice here is great and highly transferrable, however there have been a few instances where people have said ‘hang on, this wouldn’t fly in the UK/Europe/Asia etc. I’m in the UK myself but have only been here little over a year so not all that familiar with the norms, so it’s really helpful to have that kind of stuff pointed out.)

    1. Aleta*

      I’m also interested! I was a third culture kid, and I’m interested in moving back to Asia after grad school (specifically Japan, which I miss and I’m not one to miss places). I was old enough to be involved with things like opening bank accounts and buying appliances (did you know you can’t return things in Hong Kong?), but not job searching.

    2. Savannnah*

      Having worked in Asia and the US, I would say the biggest difference in SE Asia (and I’m generalizing) is that among your work peers, age is a big issue in terms of approachability. If someone is your work peer but much older than you, you would need to treat them with some deference when you are interacting with them which does not seem to be the case in the US. Also, if its an important meeting, there will be food in SE Asia. Even if it’s a 15 min important meeting.

      1. spinetingler*

        “Also, if its an important meeting, there will be food in SE Asia. ”

        That is also how I determine whether a meeting is important here. . .

    3. Perpetua*

      I’m in Eastern Europe and the first thing that comes to my mind is that post-interview thank you notes are not really done here.

      References are also not much of a thing over here. Reference letters are sometimes done, but most people don’t care much about those. It’s very rare that a potential employer contacts previous ones for references (it usually happens more if there’s a personal connection or the hiring manager knows someone at that employer).

      Also, you usually give a month’s notice, but that depends on the laws of the specific country as well.

      1. Almost Violet Miller*

        Eastern Europe here as well and I absolutely agree. I’d add that PTO and sick leave are regulated by law in a different way (at least in the countries I am familiar with) so many of the scenarios brought up in questions are very alien to my experiences.
        Most of the advice is transferable and can be used in situations I or my colleagues and friends encounter.

    4. Charlotte in HR*

      I’m in the UK and I’d say the overwhelming majority of general how-to-deal-with-bosses-and-colleagues advice is transferable to UK workplaces. The only area of advice which is hugely different is where it comes to employment law – we have vastly greater legal protection against being unreasonably dismissed from a job (including being bullied out of a job), and some quite different legislation relating to equality and discrimination.

      1. WorkingOnIt*

        We supposedly have this protection, but with the erosion of the Unions and the pay-to-play aspect of work tribunal – it’s not that accessible or equal anymore.

      2. Fisharenotfriends*

        I’m from Canada and it’s pretty much this as well, since a lot of our law was passed on from the brits.

        The lack of employment protection in the US is scary.

    5. Zahra*

      A lot of the “is this illegal?” questions actually result in “yes, this is illegal” in Canada.

      Otherwise, I’ve found that most of the rest of the advice applies.

      1. DDJ*

        I second this! It’s actually disheartening to read the question, and think “Yes! This is super illegal! There are protections in place for this,” but then to see the answer that in the US (or at least “in most states in the US”), “No, this isn’t illegal, you boss/company just sucks.”

        I also don’t think that thank-you notes after an interview are a thing here, but I don’t do a whole lot of hiring, so maybe I just haven’t personally seen it.

        1. UnabashedVixen*

          Yes, I’ve noticed this too! I’m in British Columbia, Canada, and many, many times, I’m like “yeah, that’s illegal,” only to find out from Allison it’s perfectly legal in the US! Canada doesn’t really do “at-will” employment, which seems to be a big difference with the US.

          I have sent thank you emails after interviews, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone sending a real thank-you card.

        2. EA in CA*

          As someone in Canada who does send thank you notes after an interview, I can attest that because it isn’t a popular thing there, it did give me extra notice in the last position I applied to and was offered. In that role, I took over HR and in my file, I saw copies of my thank you emails attached to my application with notes saying along the lines that it was appreciated, a nice touch, and added to my candidacy.

          I do a fair bit of recruiting now and even a quick thank you is appreciated.

          1. oranges & lemons*

            I’m also in Canada, but I think my industry might just be a little snarkier than most, or something. People seem a bit nonplussed when I send them a thank-you note.

    6. Ramona Flowers*

      UK person here! Lots of the advice is great but some of it definitely isn’t. (Thank-you notes after interviews, refusing to say why you were off sick…)

      1. Irishgal*

        You’re employer has no right to know why you are off sick as that is private data under DPA. There is just a culture/mistaken belief that they do.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          That has absolutely nothing to do with the DPA!

          It’s pretty normal here to ask why you were off in case you need support coming back. In my experience it is Not Done to not say why.

        2. Bagpuss*

          That’s not strictly correct.

          The DPA is all about how data is kept, how it is used etc. Also, it only applies to data held by organisations, not individual, so you telling (or not telling) your employer wouldn’t engage the DPA, although what your employer does with that information may, potentially do so. And the DPA (among other things) would also be relevant if your employer was asking a third party such as your GP, for information

          That said, your employer doesn’t have a right to that information, but they are entitled to make decisions about your employment based on the information available to them, including how you behave. So if you don’t want to say what was wrong, you can’t be forced to, but your employer is free to draw conclusions from that, and to draw inferences. (probably not relevant most of the time, but potentially important if you were to be off a lot, or had a pattern of sickness that appeared questionable)

      2. SarahKay*

        Another UK-person here, and I’d agree with Ramona Flowers.
        Also, a lot of the ‘Is it legal?’ questions where Alison says it is, would not be legal here.
        Finally, two weeks’ notice would be considered really short for any professional job I’ve come across – I’d expect to have to give at least a month, and my current contract requires me to give two months’ notice.

        1. Bagpuss*

          It does. Three months is standard in my industry, and I think 1 month is normal for most admin / support staff.

          The fact that it doesn’t seem to be standard to have (written) employment contracts in the US feels really weird to me, too.

          1. SkyePilot*

            The only time I’ve given my two week notice, they only let me stay on one week, which, honestly would probably have given me enough time to write up a transition document had not my access to every internal system been revoked the day I gave notice. Only found out later at HR exit interview that this was my boss being petty and not a standard practice…

    7. Julianne*

      I’m American but worked in southern Africa for several years. It’s very common to include your marital status and health status on your resume, and I’ve seen resumes that also included lines stating the applicant’s religion/church affiliation and number of children (although the latter two are definitely less common to include). References (which are usually letters provided by the applicant, although I work in a field in the US where reference letters are the norm) also tend to tell-not-show (“Fergus is a trustworthy person” as opposed to “Fergus did X [which demonstrates that he is trustworthy]), and getting a letter of reference from a notable person is more important than getting one from a person who knows the applicant well. (I ruffled a lot of feathers early on when I declined to write references for people I’d never met, until someone set me straight on that practice. It’s viewed as extremely rude to decline without some very obvious and outstanding reason, and not knowing the applicant isn’t a good enough reason.)

      For context, I worked in a local/regional public sector context, and my coworkers all were high school graduates or college-educated. My work also involved working with people in small private businesses and companies on a local/regional level. I don’t know if these practices were the same at larger companies or those based abroad or with a more international presence. My guess is that norms at those types of places might be more American/“Western”, but I’m not sure.

        1. Thlayli*

          I remember when it was common to put “Health: excellent” on your resume. This in theory would give you an advantage for physical jobs and it was so common that leaving it out was like saying “I have bad health and will take lots of time off sick/be unable to work” so everyone put it on.
          But now thankfully we have equality legislation so you can’t refuse to hire someone on the basis of health, so that practice has disappeared.

        2. Julianne*

          I honestly have no idea. My impression was that everyone just put “good” or even “excellent” even if those descriptors weren’t accurate. I’m also glad that it sounds like that’s going away, because I agree that it was very problematic!

      1. AMT*

        What is the purpose of a letter of recommendation if it’s not from someone who knows the candidate well? Why is that useful to the hiring manager?

        1. OhNo*

          Sounds like it would serve more as evidence of a social connection – not unlike having a friend of a friend pass your resume along to their HR department. I think we do something like it here in the US through networking, just not quite as formally. When I’ve been involved in hiring, it’s been more of an, “Oh, you know so-and-so?” conversation.

          1. Julianne*

            Yes, exactly. It demonstrated that the applicant had connections (even if those connections really had no bearing on the position), and was really more about an ingrained convention rather than providing the hiring manager with information about the applicant’s skills. Which I realize sounds strange outside of that context, but everyone I ever told about the “American” way of doing references was like, “That’s so rude, that would never happen here!

      1. Zahra*

        Hmmm, that hasn’t been my experience. Pretty much everything about work relationships seems applicable (i.e. how to have a conversation on X, how to apply, interview advice, etc.). On the other hand, FMLA, PTO, etc. really isn’t relevant to Canada.

        1. Monsters of Men*

          That’s what I mean :) Advice that has something along the lines of “In the States, [legislation] [rule] [social norm] etc.” sometimes is weirdly not the same here.

    8. WAnon*

      Having worked in both HK/Singapore and the US, I’d say there are more things that don’t fly in the US vs HK/Singapore. I definitely was asked about family expectations, whether my husband was employed, whether I expected to have children soon, and things like that in HK. This would obviously not fly in the States.

      I did find it interesting that there was more of an expectation to go through recruiters in HK – both roles I had there were through placements.

      There is also, I think, more of an expectation to work longer hours in Asia, especially if you’re in a role that occasionally interacts with the US. Asia is always the one that gets on late calls, not the US, but that may have been my particular firm.

    9. WorkingOnIt*

      From the UK – generally no such thing as a hiring manager – or at least not that term, and thank you letters are not a done thing here, I have a feeling they’d be considered kind of slimy over here. But then again it could also work in your favour, especially if you actually have something additional and relevant to say to the person, as it’s unusual.

      1. zora*

        “hiring manager” is just a term for the person who is making the decision to hire you, and is usually also going to be your direct manager when you are hired. How do you refer to that person in the UK? Or is the decision maker separate from your direct manager?

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          You know, someone else made a similar comment recently (maybe yesterday?). I wonder how wide-spread that misconception is.

          1. zora*

            I noticed that, too, and I agree. But since WorkingOnIt seems to not hear that term in the UK, I am super curious about how people refer to the people making the hiring decisions, then!

      2. Glacier*

        To clarify, a hiring manager isn’t a manager who is in charge of all hiring, but rather the manager who will be in charge of the open position, and is thus helping to hire for just that position.

        For example, if the open position is Teapot Quality Analyst, the Manager of Teapot Quality would be referred to as the “hiring manager.”

    10. ALadyfromBrazil*

      I’m from Brazil and here the work laws are quite different. For example:

      – maternity leave: 4 months in private business and 6 months in government jobs (if private aderes to a government program, then the employees get the 6 months too); there are 20 days for paternity leave too (for government jobs and government program, 5 days for private business); full paid (in private business, paid by social security).

      – vacation: 30 days per year, regardless of how many years you are at the same company or company policy. Teachers have 45 days of vacation per year, same amount for people who work operating x-ray machines.

      – sick leave: full paid in government jobs; in private business, 15 days paid by the company and after that, the leave is paid by social security BUT you must present a note from your doctor declaring how many days you need for recover and the type of disease by CID number (for 1 day or for 1 year). If you don’t want to disclose what kind of disease you have, there’s a CID number specific for that. Of course that, depending on your relationship with your manager/boss, you can get a day or two off for minor sickness or doctor appointment.

      We don’t use cover letters and references so frequently. I think its more for high paid jobs then entry and mid level jobs.

      If you want to work for government as public agencies, universities (we have a plenty of them), schools, etc., them you need to apply for an exame e get good grades on it. After 3 years in your job you get stability and only can be fired after an investigation process for any kind of misconduct.

      This is what I remember now. If anyone wants to know more, please tell me.

      p.s. I’m exercising my writing skills, so any correction is also welcome.

      1. Glacier*

        Your writing skills are great! My one correction would be for the sentence “I think its more for high paid jobs then entry and mid level jobs.”

        It should be “…jobs THAN entry…” since it is comparing two groups.

          1. Natalie*

            I know memory devices in another language are hard for me to remember, so if you aren’t a native English speaker this may be less than helpful. But just in case: “then” and “time” both have an E in the word, and “than” and “compare” both have an A.

            1. ALadyfromBrazil*

              Nice sugestion! Actually, they are useful for me. And they were useful for to learn the past tenses patterns :D

              Thank you!

        1. Dede*

          I’m from Brazil too and had no idea about it. I bet it’s because of the cesium accident we had.

          1. ALadyfromBrazil*

            Not actually. Its because of the risks involved in dealing with radiation. The understanding is that the worker needs more time without expose themselves to radiation.

            The cesium accident happened from a machine used to do radiation therapy in cancer patients. Its a different kind of radiation in x-rays.

    11. London Actuary*

      I’m in the UK (I’ve worked in SE Asia too) and something I’ve noticed a few times is how much stricter the US advice regarding alcohol is. At least in my industry, it’s very common to go to the pub together, get drunk together, and even turn up at work the next day hungover. Can’t speak for other areas of work in the UK though.

      Almost equal and opposite is the approach to cannabis here! I was really surprised at the response to the lady who reported her colleagues for smoking cannabis in the hotel room. I must admit that I would also have reported them.

    12. Polly*

      Bermuda here. I find legality here is UK-based but social and procedural work norms are primarily North American. There’s always a bit of that weird island quirk, however….

    13. Thlayli*

      I’m in EU and have lived and worked in three EU countries. Most of the rules over here are the same from country to country with small differences. Some things that have really shocked me from this site are:
      1 there’s no legal requirement for paid leave. Here we are legally entitled to 4 weeks paid leave (pro-Rata for part time or hourly workers) and if you have holiday hours remaining when you leave they get paid in your last paycheque
      2 employers are the one who pay unemployment, and people can be refused unemployment if the employer has a good reason for firing them. Over here unemployment is paid from social security fund (called different things in different countries but that’s basically what it is). All employees have to pay social security and when they are unemployed they automatically get benefit from this fund regardless of the reason they are let go. If they voluntarily resign they may have to wait a specified amount of time (where I live now the first 2 weeks I think are unpaid if you voluntarily resign). Also there is a limit to the amount of time you get unemployment (here it’s 9 months) and after that you have to apply for social welfare (which is means tested.)
      3 lots of companies are exempt from providing basis employer rights. That’s just weird.
      4 it’s normal for women to only have a few short weeks off after birth. That’s basically where we were a generation ago, so hopefully in a couple of decades you might have actual maternity leave.
      5 at-will employment. It’s weird. Over here you need a reason to fire someone, you can’t just say “I don’t like you, you’re fired”. You have to follow process like giving someone warnings and chances to improve. You can only be fired outright for specific things listed in your contract (e.g. Stealing or sexual harassment). You can also fire someone for business reasons like if you are letting people go, but again you have to follow due process and have a reason for selecting the people you select.

      Also a lot of specific language just isn’t used between countries – some phrases that are used in America just aren’t used in the U.K. at all for example. So you’d have to “translate” a lot of the wording.

      1. Thlayli*

        Also I just found out downthread that it’s normal in America for there not to be a toilet brush beside the toilet. So if yo get the toilet dirty you are just expected to leave it dirty. Yuck. Over here most toilets in workplaces have brushes beside them and you are generally expected to leave it as you found it. However, I have on occasion had to share toilets with men… and many men do NOT follow this rule … one of the reasons I detest sharing toilets with men (that and wet seats – gross)

        1. TL -*

          In NZ, there’s also the toilet brush (and the nice passive aggressive note asking people to use the toilet brush.)
          I can’t say I’ve noted as the toilets were any cleaner in NZ than in my workplaces in America -they got cleaned every day by janitors in the States and flushed frequently that it was rare to see any sort of marks.

      2. Lindsay J*

        For #2, it varies by the state here.

        However, unemployment is not paid directly by the employer to the employee.

        It’s paid to the employee by the state’s unemployment office. The unemployment office gets the money from the company via unemployment insurance the companies pay. The amount of unemployment insurance a company pays is dependent on several factors – how many unemployment claims have been paid against them is one of the factors.

        Again, it depends on the state what qualifies or disqualifies you for unemployement. However, the company does not get to make the decision unilaterally.

        When you lose your job you file for unemployment (you don’t get benefits automatically – you have to apply to be considered). If your company doesn’t contest your unemployement claim, you get benefits. If the company does contest your unemployment claim, then there is a hearing and the company has to present evidence that you lost your job for a disqualifying reason (and you would present evidence you had that you were not to counter that).

        Disqualifying reasons depend on the state. Generally, quitting your job means you won’t get unemployment. However, in some states, if it’s determined that a reasonable person that wanted to work would quit, then you might be able to. In most states if you are fired for gross misconduct – punching someone, theft, harassment, etc – you won’t get unemployment. In some states if you were fired for poor job performance you will be able to collect unemployment. In some you will not. In pretty much all states if you were laid off you will be able to collect unemployment.

        Usually how much money you get from unemployment is based on your wages from a certain time period before your layoff. You usually can collect for at least 6 months. Again, varies by state.

        And you usually need to be able to prove that your are ready, willing, and able to work during the period that you are collecting unemployment. This sometimes consists of going to classes set up by the unemployment office or state workforce commission, sometimes by showing that you have made so many job contacts per week, etc.

        1. Thlayli*

          That sounds a lot better than what I had thought! We also have to prove we are ready and willing to work, which sometimes means going to courses, or presenting evidence of interviews attended.

    14. Em Too*

      UK and government/large company here. Most seems pretty relevant but the PTO/FMLA/vacation approach is really different. Sick leave is very generous (full pay for several weeks then half pay for months for us, though legal min is about £90pw) but is only if you personally have a health problem or illness. Vacation is completely separate. Which means that people who’ve been ill/injured get a vacation too.

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

      There are not such things as non-competes, cover letters or thank you notes. The latter would make you look like a creep, and your CV would go right away to the reject pile.
      There are a minimum Healthcare coverage and vacation/annual leave (and special leave) specified by law. It may vary depending on the employer or Union (if there’s any).

    16. Hey Nonnie*

      Semi-related and highly theoretical (probably fantasyland) tangent: is anyone somewhat familiar with general immigration rules for people seeking employment in the UK/Ireland, EU, or Canada? I assume that any country will have rules in place that amount to “why hire a foreigner when we have perfectly good citizens here,” but I wondered about how high the bar is to prove your uniqueness as a worker. Do you need to have a job and a sponsoring employer before moving, or can you move first and then look for work? What if you’re self-employed and can basically work from anywhere? What if you lose your job or can’t find enough work after the move? Are basic social / employment protections different for non-citizen expats?

      1. Bagpuss*

        For the UK there are different types of working visa, and the criteria vary (so for instance, the rules are different if you work for a multi-national company and are moving, than if you are coming to work as an au pair . I think that normally you have to have a job lined up and your employer has to ‘sponsor’ you. There are entrepreneurs visas for people starting businesses.
        Employment rights are the same. Entitlement to social security / benefits are different than for UK citizens. I think most visa have conditions which mean you aren’t eligible for some (most?) benefits, and you pay a surcharge when you immigrate which then entitles you to use NHS services.

      2. Thlayli*

        The rules are different for different countries. There’s usually pretty clear information on the internet though. I think where I live you need a job with a minimum of €30,000 to qualify for a visa and the employer is the one who applies for the visa not the applicant. But I’m not sure.
        If you are from an EU country or entitled by parentage to an EU passport you can move freely between countries and work without a visa. I know people who’s parents or grandparents are EU citizens who applied for and got EU passports and then came here to work.

    17. bluesboy*

      I’m in Italy and 99% of things relating to managing people are perfectly relevant here because…well, people are people! But anything contractual is a mile off!

      Every industry basically has a national contract, and that has to be followed by the company. So my wife, a teacher, will always have 34 days holiday per year. I’m in finance, I get 22. No negotiating, that’s how it is. Notice periods, trial periods, all pre-decided.

      I remember too how shocked I was when I read ‘two weeks notice’ on this site. My last job required 4 months…

    18. Book Lover*

      I am in the US, but in the medical field. We’d be expected to give at least 3-4 months notice, given how far ahead patients are scheduled, and that wouldn’t really be an issue, as getting privileges typically takes that long after you get a new job anyhow. I am only mentioning that because several people are commenting on the two weeks notice being standard and that really massively depends on what job you have.

      1. TL -*

        Yeah, I’ve worked in academia and academia labs in hospitals and two weeks’ notice is alright for some positions but I’ve generally given several months – I think 7 was the most? – as have most of my coworkers.
        But you announce your intentions for your next move pretty publicly, and usually your boss will help you find a good position. I know people who have loosely announced up to a year ahead.

    19. Rebeck*

      I’m in Australia. I worked for a few years in law firms and have since had 10+ years in libraries across local government, public education and universities.

      A one-page resume seems ridiculously short. Leaving any job post-University off seems completely wrong to me, because then you’ll have a gap that needs explaining.

      A significant proportion of jobs here have selection criteria that must be answered in the application. These are short-answer questions that should usually take up to a page each to answer. This is standard in many, many fields.

      Thank you notes just seem a bit try-hard, but calling before application with questions is really common.

      The only place I’ve ever heard the term ‘hiring manager’ is here. Addressing something to ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ would seem so odd.

      Phone interviews are not something I’ve come across. Nor are interviews where you meet possible colleagues or tour the workspace (except in my most recent experience) – in local government we weren’t even allowed to know who had applied for jobs rather than getting to meet anyone up for the job of our new manager!

      All the usual healthcare, PTO, workplace relations laws etc caveats.

      1. Aussie academic*

        Fellow aussie here, and as my name suggests, most of my experience is with universities.

        I agree with Rebeck that thank you notes are really not done here, and I don’t think they’d go down well. And a one page resume sounds almost ridiculous in terms of how short it is, although I only see CVs here, not resumes (but that may be the nature of academia). I have come across phone interviews, but only when a candidate is not local, rather than as a screen before an in-person interview, although that may be done for other kinds of jobs. Oh, and I can’t see anyone writing ‘dear hiring manager’ in a cover letter – I think ‘to whom it may concern’ is more used here if you don’t know the hiring manager’s name.

        A few other differences I’ve noticed is it’s pretty common for people to take 6 months/ 1 year maternity leave; it’s generally acceptable to take a long block of holidays (we generally get 4 weeks/year and I usually take it all at once – it takes so long to travel from Australia to Europe or the US that we like to travel for a longer period and make it worthwhile); the legal arrangements are closer to the UK/Canada than the US for most workplace issues.

        And to add to Rebek’s comment re selection criteria, this is something that’s often ignored by international applicants to their detriment, perhaps because it’s not common elsewhere. I’m currently reviewing applications for an entry level research job and have 96 applications. About half are from international applicants and many (perhaps most) of these have not addressed the selection criteria. I feel sorry for these applicants because they won’t even be considered, even though some of them seem from their CVs to have extensive experience (and the application materials are very clear about the need to address the selection criteria).

        On the whole though, I find many of the issues and the advice offered here applies very well.

        1. Chipu*

          Fellow Aussie here, and I just wanted to comment on selection criteria. I think it’s largely a public service thing- in my experience, I was never asked for selection criteria in the private sector, but have had to complete them every time I applied for a public service job. I am currently on a hiring panel for a public service job and there are very prescriptive rules for candidate selection, which is one of the reasons the SC are used.

        2. Prof Wrangler*

          American academic CVs can also be several pages long. You’re expected to list all your publications, board positions, and so on. I work for an American academic organization with international membership, and the CVs I’ve seen from different countries seem fairly similar in that respect.

          American schools hiring admin/support staff go for the one-page resume. Australian schools might be the same, I’m not sure.

      2. Random Thought*

        Regarding selection criteria – I work in local government in the US, and it’s not uncommon for jobs to have “Supplemental Questions” as part of the online application, which must be filled out in order to submit. I haven’t come across this with private companies in my area, and not sure what the practice is in other states!

    20. Fieldpoppy*

      Im in Canada (Ontario) and, as a consultant, work in a variety of settings, mostly healthcare and education. I think most of the advice about interactions and relational expectations applies equally. There are big cultural differences around expectations for time off, though — and I heard this in both Allison’s advice and the comments on it. We expect and value significant parental leave in Canada — we think it’s a common good. In Ontario you can take up to 18 months off, variously supported by Employment Insurance (not great money but something), and top ups from employers (more generous in public sector unionized environments) and it’s taken for granted that the vast majority of people will take most or all of their parental leave. Similarly, we generally assume that you SHOULD take all of your vacation time, and that a week at a time isn’t enough. We have a notion that you are a better employee when you go away sometimes ;-).

      The other major difference is that while benefits are a nice perk here, they are not the deal-breaker they can be in the US. Our health benefits are to fill in the 30 percent of the health system that isn’t funded (dental, prescriptions for adults, eyeglasses, physiotherapy, etc), not to keep you from going bankrupt if you get sick.

      And because we hold a certain common good about these things, we TEND (not absolutely, but tend) to be more sanguine about higher taxes to fund these things we value.

    21. Felicia*

      I’m in Canada and it’s really just the workplace law stuff and anything to do with the health care system that doesn’t apply. I skip posts /comments that mention that

    22. tamarack and fireweed*

      I’m in the US now, but spent most of my working life in France and the UK (and most of my studies in Germany). The differences are what you’d expect. For example, a situation like Lillian’s above, where an assistant is terminated with no notice just because their boss was fired would be completely illegal even I think in the UK (where employment protections are very roughly somewhere between France/Germany and the US). There are of course differences between the European countries. In France, you want to be terminated rather than go on your own because you wouldn’t qualify for unemployment right away if you decide to leave. In Germany there’s more of a stigma about being fired. There are also different attitudes about salary confidentiality. Health insurance is not a significant factor in keeping/seeking employment (for a vast majority), and everyone has an entitlement to paid leave.

      More subtly, the social aspect of larger differences between, say, a minimum-wage worker and a college-educated office employee, or between the 20th and the 80th percentile in the income distribution, makes for somewhat different relations across the social space.

      What’s widely applicable is the whole how-to-deal-with-bosses-and-colleagues aspect, interviewing and recruiting, ethical dilemmas.

    23. Julie Noted*

      Australian. The things that have stood out the most to me:

      * Thankyou notes. Weird.

      * Multiple rounds of winnowing down candidates in the recruitment process (phone screen, two or more interviews). Never experienced it myself or know of friends who have except for very senior roles at large companies or working in the military or counter-intelligence fields.

      * Everything to do with leave, both legal rights and cultural norms. Have plenty, it rolls over, it’s normal to use it in big chunks. (I myself have had 3 five week holidays and one 9 week holiday in my 12 year career in this industry, because I prefer to batch it up than take shorter periods more often).

      * Firing/ “letting someone go”. Except in small business or casual workers, unfair dismissal laws apply.

      * Hostile environment is what it sounds like, not a narrow legal term related to “protected class”. WHS laws cover mental health and emotional wellbeing, so if your workplace environment damages those through belligerence or negligence the business is potentially on the hook. It’s not acceptable to treat *anyone* like shit.

      * From the serious to the light: any time someone refers to lunch as a particular time I think “man, that’s early”.

      * Back to serious. Starbucks is not good coffee and neither is what is produced by those pod machines. My local economy is fueled on coffee, from the CEO to the tradie, so trust me that this is important.

      * I will never have anything to share on the snow day discussions.

        1. Julie Noted*

          No, but we do have a thing where if it’s extremely hot weather and your workplace has no cooling (or the cooling system isn’t working properly) you can get sent home on full pay. If you work outside there are analogous arrangements to ensure the workforce doesn’t get brain damage from heat stroke.

      1. Julie Noted*

        A couple of other things I forgot:

        * Paid internships for uni students. Not a thing until recently, outside specific professions where the course has a practical component. Now starting to crop up a little, but far from common. In my experience in a business that brings on interns, they’re more socioeconomically privileged than the average student, so more connections for those who need them least hooray.

        * unpaid internships. Illegal.

        * being a union member does not protect you from discipline or firing, and it doesn’t advance your promotion chances.

    24. MissDisplaced*

      I LOVE this thread! And I hope Alison makes it a regular topic.
      Some of this I was aware of having worked for a small but global company (such as working to a contract, time off in Europe, etc.) but I think more American employees need to learn about the benefits and protections non-US workers receive. US employees often feel so powerless (and are powerless) working under a skewed system they are conditioned (ie. brainwashed) into believing that their being screwed-over by wealthy companies somehow helps the economy (as in having pitiful vacation time or healthcare/maternity benefits, or being fired on a whim helps the economy by giving businesses more money to hire more people overall).
      I know it’s been said sometimes in the threads on here ‘what good does it do for non-US people to comment about the lack of vacation time and/or protections issues when it doesn’t offer the US employee any useful advice (because they can’t change it), but it does! Knowledge is power.
      Because you can’t fix a BROKEN employment system if you don’t know the system itself is broken!

    25. Akcipitrokulo*

      In UK…

      Thank you letters aren’t a thing for interviews. It would be really weird and feel inappropriate to send one, and receiving one, to me, would put candidate in the gimicky category like using flowery paper or green ink.

      Horrified a lot of the time a out the lack of protection employees have. “At will” employment is terrifying!!! After probation, you must have a reason to terminate someone, either for conduct or redundancy, whixh has its own rules (hiwever… these are being eroded… main thing is that you may technically have these rights but companies aren’t held to a lot of them until youve been there two years.)

      And most people don’t have a contract? I’d assume no employment contract = dodgy boss that’s doing something they don’t want taxman to know about!

      Also how little maternity leave you get in US makes me sad…

      Questions about health insurance as a benefit aren’t relevant, and make me thankful for Nye Bevan over and over again!

      “Dear Hiring Manager” sounds rude to my ear, but may be a personal thing.

      But how to talk to people… how to deal with issues sensitively… how to stay professional and deal with issues honestly… this is pretty universal.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        ooh! forgot data protection! There have been a few places where “can I/they do X?” and the answer is “yes” where my reaction is “No! That’s a breach of DPA!”

        (DPA = Data Protection Act… here it’s mostly that you cannot use someone’s data without their consent for a purpose for which it wasn’t intended, and remember specifically a question about “can I see my references/interview notes?”…. the answer was no, but here it’s a definite of course you can… it’s one of your DPA rights to see all data held about you (witha very few, limited exceptions).

    26. Tuesday Next*

      Love this thread!

      I’m in South Africa. The advice on office etiquette, dealing with a difficult colleague or manager, and general “how to behave” / interpersonal stuff is mostly very useful. I’ve learnt a lot from Alison on how to approach difficult situations.

      Our labour laws are vastly different. Employees have substantial protection and most people have a contract (or should have one, but very small companies might try to flout that). People don’t just get fired. There is no at-will employment. I’m horrified by how easily people can lose their jobs in the US, through no fault of their own.

      We have minimum legislated personal and sick leave days. Much more generous than the US. Your company cannot take personal leave days away if you don’t use them. Your sick leave is only for when you personally are sick. Notice periods are typically one calendar month. I usually try to give more, 5-6 weeks if possible. In a recent job I had to give 2 months.

      Thank you notes and cover letters are not really a thing. I have more recently started writing a quick thank you email (because of AAM) but I’ve never written a cover letter. I’ve also never had anyone phone my references. In fact I’m hardly ever asked for references. But in my industry people will check LinkedIn to see who you know, and get feedback on you that way (without your knowledge).

      Sometimes there are discussions / perspectives on AAM that are odd for me. For example, the conversation about whether it was okay to provide a second (kosher) kitchen and who should have access to it. Here, most people would consider it reasonable, a practical solution, and not get all het up about it. As long as other groups had the same access (e.g. Halaal kitchen, or a Halaal section in the canteen). We seem to be more pragmatic that way. Also different is what would be considered sexual harassment. The US seems to be much more strict when considering what would be sexual harassment. A crass joke here might get a laugh, a raised eyebrow or a request to tone it down, but it wouldn’t result in a sexual harassment charge.

      Something that always fascinates me is the office potluck. That is definitely not a thing here. I’ve also never worked anywhere where people brought Crockpots to the office, decorated their cubicle for the holidays or were allowed to bring their pets to work.

      So yeah, many many cultural differences.

    27. Miaw*

      What I have noticed is that USA does not have legally mandatory maternity leave, sick leave and annual leave. Even ‘less developed countries’ than USA have all that… not having mandatory maternity leave is just so absolutely bizzare…

    28. DeveloperDodo*

      I am in the Netherlands, and while most of the interpersonal advice is applicable, the legal side is far different.
      -Salaried employees (indefinite time contracts) cannot be fired unless for a very good reason, and unless the employee agrees, which almost always happens, it needs to go to the “canton” judge (or a lower court)
      -Vacation days, we get 20 paid vacation days by law, and most companies add 5 on top of that, weekends never count towards this (unless your working days are weekends).
      -Sick days, no limit on sick days, it is not legal to request a doctor’s note, any sickness that lasts less than 2 weeks must be handled normally, longer than that, you get into one hell of a bureaucratic hole
      -You can’t fire someone who’s on sick leave

      There are some tradeoffs though:
      -Taxes are through the roof (30% income tax is not unusual, and not only for the higher incomes)
      -Salary is a lot less than the US.
      -A lot of bureaucratic oversight.

  5. Gifts Ahoy*

    I work with a team that often sends gifts to clients. Not just thank you’s for projects but also ‘check in’ gifts or personal gifts for engagements, weddings, births, etc. I often help with arraigning gifts. Lately my coworkers who I am helping have been asking for more thoughtful gifts, without giving me any guidance. Typically we send flowers, bottles of wine, and food gift baskets as gifts which always seem well received. But my coworkers want things that are more interesting, more engaging. I’m stumped as to what else we could give.

    Anyone have any advice or plugs for corporate gifts given or received that were more exciting than typical food, flowers, or liquor? Thanks!

    1. KMB213*

      A lot of our clients aren’t in our area, so we give them local gifts from our town, region, or state.

      For example, we’ll give a gift basket with a candle from the store just down the street from us, some chocolate buckeye candies, etc.

      It’s not hugely personalized based on the recipient, but they go over well.

      1. Manders*

        This is my go-to technique for finding a thoughtful gift for someone when I don’t know much about their personal preferences. Some gift basket companies like Harry & David even have options from different regions, so you can send someone a regional gift without having to run around to a bunch of different stores assembling it yourself.

        I’m generally a fan of sending consumable gifts to clients rather than objects that might get thrown out or clutter up their work area.

        1. WAnon*

          Yes! Consumables are the best because it’s also likely an easily shareable object for the entire clients’ office. Localized options, like chocolate, specialized nuts, or other non-alcoholic options are my recommendations of choice.
          One great idea for new births that I particularly liked at an old company was a baby onesie version of the company’s slogan/logo/pithy saying. This company had a well-known tagline, and they printed up onesies with this and packaged it with a standard baby cap and flowers for births. I feel that this may not work for general gifts (like fleeces or other materials) but is particularly great for babies since they grow out of it so quickly and need so many changes of clothing regularly that it stands a chance of being used.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            My friends with kids tell me that it’s also difficult to have too many receiving blankets, and I imagine you could order customized ones somewhere. I’d get neutral colors like lavender, green, or yellow, but those could also work well.

            1. It's Business Time*

              We order baby blankets from Pottery Barn with the initials embroidered on it as well. These are always well recieved

              1. AnonEMoose*

                Those sound really cute!

                If you decide to look into onesies, I remember something one friend mentioned. As part of my baby gift to her, I gave her a package of onesies that fastened with zippers. She said she ended up loving them, because they were easier to fasten on a squirming baby than the ones with snaps. So, maybe zippers or velcro would be good to look at.

          2. Kyrielle*

            If you do this, I’d suggest a 3-6 month size. Or at least 0-3. Some babies are out of the “newborn” size *really fast* (in fact, neither of mine were ever able to wear it at all).

      2. ContentWrangler*

        This is dependent on how well you know your clients/what industry you’re in but my dad is in an industry where he gets a lot of client gifts and while the food is always appreciated, he really enjoys the ones that are tailored to his hobbies. He’s really into golf and skiing so clients sometimes give branded gear. His industry also requires a lot of formal business wear so he’s gotten gift cards to nice stores, even one gift card for a nice sunglasses brand from a client in California which I though was fun.

      3. peachie*

        We do that, too! In the past we’ve found high quality coffee table-type photo books of our region, and they seemed to go over well.

    2. LCL*

      Tell your coworkers the gifts will continue to be flowers, wine, and food unless THEY have other suggestions. (I work for the government, I once was given a handful of hard candy as a thank you from an appreciative customer.)

      1. Gifts Ahoy*

        Some of the guilty parties are my supervisors who just keep say ‘But I want to send something more’ with no other thoughts so I don’t know how much I can push back…

        1. AMPG*

          Can you ask them to clarify “more”? Bigger? More expensive? More exclusive? Each of those options would result in a different gift.

          1. zora*

            I agree, ask them to give you a few minutes to talk through it, because you aren’t sure what they want. And another question in addition to AMPG’s: More personalized?? If they want it more personalized, say you need them to tell you more about this person. Do you know her well? What is her family like, what are her interests? Does she have pets? Etc, you can ask for more “help” figuring this out without it sounding like push back.

        2. OhBehave*

          You’re not being confrontational here, you want to help. They aren’t helping much by vaguely saying they want more. Ask if they have something specific in mind; something the recipient would really love. As another said, continue as you are until they can give you some specifics. I would also critically look at what you are sending. Are you using the same thing repeatedly? I’ve made gift baskets for a neurology practice. I found a chocolate mold of a brain and had chocolate brains made to include in the basket. Weird but they were so thrilled that it was personalized to their profession.

    3. SoCalHR*

      What about personalized gifts? Like business card holders/leather portfolios with names on them or monogrammed pens, etc. Shari’s Berries are also nice but more in the same vein of what you’ve been doing. If you know the recipients on a more personal level then think about those things (sports teams, cooking supplies etc). Hope the helps :)

      1. AnonEMoose*

        I love nice pens that are comfortable to hold and write well. You could also look at the sherpa pen cover. It’s basically a metal pen in which you can insert a pen of your choice, and I know you can get them customized. I have one, and I find it really well balanced and comfortable to hold. Not a gift in itself, but could be easily included as part of a gift.

        Someone I used to work with would get food gifts around the holidays fairly often, and she’d always share them out among the staff. It was always a big hit. Especially the Harry and David Moose Munch – we’d practically fight over that stuff.

    4. Andy*

      There are some really great gifts on the amazon hand-made artisan style site. If you know ANYTHING about the person you should be able to find something that reflects an element of them and therefore be more personal. So for example get people to tell you if they mentioned a movie or book and include a funco pop figurine with the gift basket that reminds them of that and shows you were listening. Strap a Mindy Kaling Barbie to the bottle of wine if you know they’re taking their kid to see Wrinkle in Time. They like the Dodgers? Get a Didgers pennant and wrap the bottle of wine in it.
      Just think about who they are and reflect it back to them. Show them you care by showing them you were listening when they talk.

    5. QualitativeOverQuantitative*

      For engagement/wedding/baby gifts I’ve had good luck Googling the person’s name, wedding/baby registry. I would just buy something off of that. You know they will love and appreciate the gift since they picked it out themselves and it is more personal than a gift basket.

    6. Anna Sun*

      One thing that’s very popular for my clients are tickets to the game of a favorite sports team or event, as well as concert tickets. Also, gift certificates to a well-regarded or favorite restaurant of the client.

    7. Lefty*

      At a previous employer, we had very positive feedback from more personalized gift sets but we still centered around food or fun themes.

      Here are some that I remember packaging: Coffee: 2 pounds (1 regular, 1 decaf) of locally ground coffee, a French press, company logo mugs, coffee flavored balms, coffee syrups. Movies: gift cards to a local cinema, gourmet popcorn seasonings, boxes of “movie” candy (even though I mentioned that one cannot take the candy into a theater!), all delivered in a fun logo popcorn bucket. Ball games: a guidebook to visiting our city, a few ballcaps for our local teams, tickets to a game (they sold generic tickets to use for any game at any time, a big $ saver for us), company logo seat cushions. Our president was also quite a personality, so sometimes we’d send a “Flat Stanley” version of him with the ball game with a note to “Send a picture of the President with you at the game and you’ll get a discount on a future order!” I’d imagine that now it could even be “tag us with #hashtag on social media to show us your photos from the game for a future discount”.

    8. AMT*

      Etsy is great for stuff like this. Tons of handmade (and often personalizable) gifts that you can’t get in a typical gift shop.

    9. Kate*

      For baby presents, my husband’s office sent over a gift basket from Elegant Baby. The quality and presentation were very good. We still use the blanket over two years later. If you can personalize it with the baby’s name, even better.

      If you know the person’s alma mater, a baby jersey is often a big hit. (I do jerseys for both boy and girl babies– not jerseys for boys and cheerleader outfits for girls.) Even if they’re not a huge sports fan, a baby in their school’s jersey is just really cute. Get size 3-6 months so the baby can grow into it.

      For engagements/weddings, a silver picture frame is always welcome. More personal, but still generic enough for a corporate gift.

    10. Student*

      I think knowing your audience is key here. Embrace your field.

      I’m in a nerdy, technical, sometimes mechanical field. Corporate swag people have bragged about getting:

      Branded tools that are field-specific. These don’t need to be expensive tools. Key-chain screwdrivers, small tools that make specific connectors easier to fasten/unfasten, key-chain tape measures, magnifying glasses, etc. Can’t go wrong with a pocket knife or a multi-tool (don’t give these if they have to travel through an airport after receiving them, though).

      Weirdo food items that aren’t a food basket. Corporate-branded hot sauce seems popular. Corporate-branded candy is borderline (keep it small please!). Embrace the silliness aspect. Might be able to do a colored food salt or other condiment.

      Shirts with interesting corporate logos on them, and/or field-specific jokes. People love these things. If you make it a work-acceptable shirt, maybe a polo, they’ll probably wear it to work and do some free advertising for you. Please, please consider size options and gender-specific clothing cuts – as a small nerd woman, I wish I could wear more of these but they’re largely XL-sized, male-cut tents on me. My husband’s shirt wardrobe is heavily biased toward corporate and conference swag shirts.

      Backpacks. They don’t have to be the greatest of material to get used for a year or two. Messenger bag is a good alternative – nice to take to the gym or carry a laptop through the airport. People love the heck out of these.

      Corporate-labeled umbrellas. Obviously take location into account. Got these at a conference once and they were a huge hit. Make sure they’re the smaller kind, for easy transport.

      Lanyards, corporate color and a discrete logo. Good for fields where people need to wear IDs.

      Please, please, though – no mugs. No hand towels. No kitchen utensils, unless it very directly relates to your field. Small is good, cheap is good, colorful is good, durable is good. Fragile is bad, large is bad, things nobody needs or everyone already has are bad. Things people burn through are good.

      1. Basia, also a Fed*

        Just be careful with the corporate branded items. I work for the federal government and can’t use any of these items where anyone can see me, for the very concern about advertising that Student mentions above. I’ve given away so many golf shirts, t-shirts, water bottles, etc.

        1. Random Thought*

          +1. I work in government procurement and can’t accept anything worth more than $5. Reading through these gift ideas makes me think I’m in the wrong field! =)

    11. Jennifer Thneed*

      Ask them for a suggestion and don’t let them get away with brushing you off. Ask them what feels good to *them* to receive as a gift. Ask them what “more thoughtful” looks like. None of this “If you think of something let me know” — follow them to their office and sit down with them.

      Also — why are they asking this? Have you asked them why they think the flowers/wine/food gifts are no longer acceptable? (Note: not asking here what *you* think. Asking what *they* think, and to find out, you’ll have to ask them. You might be surprised by what you hear.)

      Your coworkers are the ones who deal with the clients, right? Your job is supporting the co-worker in getting the gift to the client. Is making the decisions also your job? I suspect not. Do you have any kind of catalog of corporate gifts to look at, for ideas? Hand them over to the people who want changes. (If no, find the websites. So many websites.)

      Basically, don’t *let* them give you no guidance. “You can even be explicit: I don’t know what counts as “more thoughtful”, so they’ll keep getting Llama Arrangements until you give me another idea.” (To me, this is a lot like what happens in volunteer organizations: people have great ideas but expect other people to implement them. I’ve been in more than one group that put the kibosh on anyone making any suggestion unless they were willing to be in charge of the suggested thing.)

    12. Kuododi*

      Where I am we have two different companies which specialize in local artisan stoneware which can be personalized for an event or person themselves. (It’s extremely identifying…so if you want to contact me privately I’ll be happy to give you the information!!!)

    13. The Senior Wrangler*

      Does you’re region have any food specialities/anything it’s famous for? It may not be personal to the client but it’s a bit more interesting.

    14. Wolfram alpha*

      One of our prospective vendors sent us all yetis! It’s awesome. The yetis also have their logo on the side so I think about that vendor every day o drink from the cup.

    15. Seattle Writer Gal*

      Bean box! Fresh roasted coffee sampler box. Since I work in Seattle, we send these out all the time as a “taste of Home” to our national clients. You can do a $20 single box w/3-4 different sample bags from local roasters or monthly subscription. Bean box.com

  6. Savannnah*

    I’m moving to the west coast from NYC for my husband’s job and will be leaving my academic hospital job that I’ve had the last 4 years. My job is mostly hands on and I do a lot of teaching. My manager has known I’m leaving for 6 months now and my replacement and I will have 2 weeks overlap so I can at least point her in the right direction. My manager asked me if I would like to continue on as a contractor until I get a full time job in Portland and I’m very interested in pursuing this as the job market in Portland for my area is quite small and it could take me a year or so to find the right position. I’ve never been a contactor before and while we’ve talked about some of the work he wants from me, mostly manuscripts, curriculum and a policy overhaul we’ve talked about but never did, I’m not sure how much more to ask for in terms of an hourly rate (I’m at $45 right now, plus all the full time benefits) or if there are any other things I should note or ask about before signing on. I also am wondering if it’s appropriate to include in the contract a budget to travel to academic conferences- which my manager usually sees as investments in his employees. I currently have 2 workshops and 2 posters that have been accepted at conferences in May and June, although I wouldn’t be able to afford the cost of attending myself. I’m just unclear what to ask for although I feel like I’m in a good position because the new hire for my job is going to need a lot of training so I’m hoping I can negotiate the conferences.

      1. Savannnah*

        Right now no one else has the expertise to run the workshops so I’m hoping he will send me but its very odd to think of your academic work as your companies work product- even though I’ll keep it on my CV- so we’ll see.

    1. MLB*

      Contractors generally make a lot more than an FTE, so I would do some research for your area and position to try and get an idea of what to ask for in terms of an hourly rate. I know when I was a contractor a while back, I saw one of my “receipts” on someone’s desk and the company was paying double my hourly rate to the recruitment firm. I’m not sure about the conferences though – since you’re basically out the door and would only be helping out for a limited time, they may not want to invest the money because you’d be taking your knowledge elsewhere. Similar to companies that pay for your education – they will generally expect you to stay for a specific period of time or you’re responsible for the money they gave you for classes.

    2. Nearly a Fed*

      There are a number of calculators online (search 1099 to W2 salary) that can help you estimate how much you should be charging per hour to make the equivalent take home pay. You need to account for the costs of providing your own benefits (health insurance and any retirement contributions your employer provides) and paying the fully amount of employment taxes – employers usually pay half of the FICA tax (and there might be another employment tax I’m forgetting) but now you will be responsible for all of it. I switched from a W2 employee to a 1099 contractor due to a move also, and I accounted for everything I possibly could in calculating an hourly rate. I would also include not just travel to academic conferences, but any other travel they might request of you, e.g., back to hospital for meetings, events, etc.

      With some help from a good tax accountant (there are some really great things you can do with retirement savings when you’re self employed), the switch from W2 to 1099 was actually a big financial boost for me and helped me increase my overall salary when I came back as a W2 4 years later. Good luck!

      1. Savannnah*

        I’d love to hear more about the retirement savings accounts- I can’t get a good answer from my office about what to do them or just their status when I leave. I looked up FICA and its an additional 7.65% so i’ll add that to my new pay rate along with taking a look at these calculators.

        1. Natalie*

          If you have an retirement account sponsored by your workplace (like a 401K) that account moves with you. You can leave it in the account where it is, or roll it over to the fund manager of your choice. You should receive documentation from the administrator in the mail that walks you through your different options. (There’s a reasonable chance the people in your HR office don’t really know anything or are unsure, because most companies outsource all of the administration to an investment firm.)

          If you want to keep making contributions to the account you have to roll it into an IRA. If you roll it into another 401K account you will still keep all of your growth and can change your investment options and such, but you can no longer contribute to it.

          1. Nearly a Fed*

            Agree with this. I rolled mine out and have a financial planner that manages mine. As a 1099 contractor, I was considered self-employed and able to contribute to what’s called a SIMPLE IRA. I believe max contributions were based on gross income. I was able to contribute more than the max 401k limits and that helped relieve some of the tax burden. You really need an accountant to help with this stuff though.

        2. Hey Nonnie*

          The general rule of thumb I’ve read for figuring out your tax burden when self-employed is to figure that 30% of your gross income will go to income taxes. Remember that you’re not just paying the employer’s part of the tax (self-employment tax), but you will STILL be paying the employee’s part too, at whatever tax bracket you fall in. If you currently pay (for example) 15% of your AGI in income tax as a W2 employee, you will still need to pay that on top of self-employment tax as a 1099. It’s not just FICA, you pay the employer’s part of tax on all the standard withholdings, AND state/local income tax. 30% should adequately cover all of your income tax in most situations, and may be a little bit of overkill in some — although with the US tax changes who knows what business deductions will be allowed anymore, so anticipate you may have a higher taxable income next year. Also, don’t forget you will have to make quarterly estimated payments to the IRS and your state revenue department; there are penalties for owing too much when you file your tax return.

          As for business trips, I’d start with a conversation about expectations for those. If they say they want you to go, you can then explain that you would need those expenses covered by the client, and see if they’re willing to agree to that. It’s not unusual to expense business costs in this way as a contractor. You would just add it to your invoice on top of your hourly earnings, as a separate line-item. Or else the company makes the arrangements themselves and pays for them directly.

    3. Re-Searcher*

      The amount you charge will depend on your credentials and your previous job description, but I’ll share my own experience as someone new to this, too! I am at an Ivy-league academic hospital as doctoral-level junior research faculty and was told that my consultancy rates should start at around $150 per hour (or $1,200 per day) with the average consultancy rates of around $1,700, per university policy. I do healthcare programmatic/evaluation consulting, data collection analysis, presenting, training, report writing as part of my consultation gigs. I realize that this might seem a little steep (it did to me! But no one has batted an eye) given what was shared upthread, but might give you a ball park. I agree that it should be at least $70 per hour or more, given that they aren’t responsible for paying your fringe on top of that. Do you know any other consultants that do the kind of work you do for your organization, or could you ask around about consultants to contact? That would be helpful, and I’ve found that many people are willing to share that kind of information, given that I’ve been respectful and I’m just starting out. I’d be interested in what you decide!

      1. Savannnah*

        Thanks for your help on this! One of the challenges is that we are a small academic hospital and there are very few employees who transition to contractor and very few contractors hired by our hospital network (besides for construction projects etc) Currently no one else does the work I do at the hospital, employee or contractor, thus the need for me stay on after I move. I’ll probably start negotiations at 80$ and see where I get. My director doesn’t make more than $75 an hour and while *I* know there’s a difference, I’m not sure he’ll get that.

        1. Anony*

          Can you ask HR how much your benefits cost the company? I know that my company gives us that number which can help you to advocate for increasing your pay since you won’t have benefits.

        2. Nearly a Fed*

          I recommend going in with a breakdown of all of the expenses you will have to take on as a contractor. Since there isn’t a lot of experience with this, it is likely that they just don’t know and seeing the numbers could help them agree to what you’re asking for. I was lucky because my manager when I transitioned to a contractor was very diligent and cared about being fair, so he actually did all of the breakdowns for me. I was making roughly $44/hr with full health benefits and 7% retirement contributions. They gave me $75/hr when I first transitioned and then after I received my phD I bumped my rate to $90/hr.

  7. peachie*

    I found out yesterday that there’s a serious chance I’ll get a job offer in the near future! I did not expect this and am still in shock. The job is data science/analytics at an elite university and I did not think I even had a chance. My background is in theater and while the role I’ve been in for the past few years does involve some data work, my primary function is membership management and conference planning. I’m self-taught in data science/SQL and have no formal IT education or training. I’m both excited and terrified at the prospect of switching to a technical role.

    If I do get the job, it will also involve moving about five hours away from where I am. I wasn’t planning on moving (or even looking for a new job), so I’m overwhelmed at the thought of dealing with all the logistics of relocating.

    I’m also starting to feel panicky about leaving a city I really like to move to one I don’t know much about. As soon as it hit me that I might get an offer (and I will accept the offer; this is an unbelivable opportunity), I suddenly felt much more attached to Current City than I’ve ever felt before. I was (and am) sad at the thought of leaving and am questioning whether moving would be a mistake. Then again, I think I always get this way about moving, even moving within the same city; that feeling has never lasted. I don’t have any concrete attachment to Current City (I don’t have kids or family in the area, I don’t own property, and my partner is currently between jobs). I keep reminding myself that I wouldn’t be stuck in New City forever. I’d certainly want to put in a few years at the job, but if I still missed Current City, I could move back–and the job in New City would open many doors and allow me to work in pretty much any location I wanted.

    I’d love to hear any advice or thoughts from people who have made a switch like this. Particularly:

    1) Has anyone switched from non-IT to IT? What was that like? Did you do any formal training or education before switching, or was it all self-taught/on-the-job?

    2) For those who have relocated for a job–especially in cases where you weren’t planning on moving at all or weren’t aiming for the city you ended up in–what was that like? Did you feel the same kind of moving/Did I make a mistake? anxiety that I’m feeling? Did that feeling go away?

    1. It's all Fun and Dev*

      I moved across the country for a job this past summer. I also had that unexpected attachment to my old city once I knew I’d be moving, despite the fact that wanting to leave that city was part of what sparked my job search in the first place! I think it’s human nature to get a bit spooked by sudden, massive change.

      My advice is to make sure you’re vetting the area as much as the job itself. I work for a large university (though not in IT), and while I love the work I do and my immediate team, I’ve found that the massive bureaucracy and interpersonal politics make the culture here such that I really don’t fit in. I also didn’t know much about the area we’d be moving to – I knew the general size and had driven through town once, but I didn’t do enough to understand the culture and economy here. If I had, I never would have taken this job – it’s incredibly unwelcoming to newcomers, geographically isolated, and there is no career path for my partner here.

      All that to say: Do your research beforehand, make sure you visit in person, and try to keep your eyes open to both the good and bad of moving there. It’s normal to feel panic and the sudden sense of “am I making a huge mistake??”, so don’t read too much into those feelings. And, like you said, even if you ended up in a bad fit you’re not doomed to stay there forever – taking on a new challenge will (hopefully) set you up for greater strides in your career down the line. Even though I’ve been here less than a year, I’ve started to put out resumes and am getting a ton of responses, for amazing jobs I never would have been considered for a year ago.

      Good luck!

      1. peachie*

        Thank you for sharing what your experience was! I am afraid I’ll be disappointed by the area (based on nothing but anxiety), but for better or worse, I did just accept a job offer… The good thing is that it’s a moderate-sized city (I’m more of a city person), I’ve been to it before (though not extensively), and it’s in the northeast, which automatically makes it relatively close to a number of other cities. I’m just crossing my fingers real hard and hoping it all works out.

        I think you’re right that the fear-panic is probably coming from the idea of making a huge change when I wasn’t planning to rather than the details of that change. Mostly, I was totally, completely shocked that I got an offer. I wasn’t trying to waste anyone’s time by applying, but throughout the process, I just thought, I’m not the kind of person who can get a job like this in a place like that. Like, this is a place I wanted to go for my undergrad degree that I knew I could never get into, so this is truly mind-blowing.

        1. It's all Fun and Dev*

          Congratulations!! It’s always incredibly validating to get that offer when you thought you’d get laughed out of the interview :) My situation is pretty unique, mostly because I didn’t realize what a HUGE change it would be to move from a large west coast city to a tiny northeastern town… my bad. But, I learned a lot and now I have a much better idea of what I’m looking for (and what I’m NOT looking for) in my next job/town.

          You’re going to do amazing in your new role, and regardless of whether THIS is the perfect forever job, you’ll come out stronger and better on the other side. Good luck with your move!

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I kind of did that, although it was an internal move. I started noticing issues with web pages and databases, and the one IT guy who could fix them (this was back in the 90s, he had built them all himself) was swamped, so I offered to take care of the easy stuff, like text corrections or minor updates to an existing web page, or correcting database entries. Eventually, I started figuring out how to do more, and when I didn’t know how to do something I’d ask that IT guy, which he was more than happy to do since once I knew how to do it he would never have to worry about doing it himself again!

      Even now that I’m what most would consider an IT professional, I work a lot with people who know more than I do, and most of them are happy to explain stuff, especially if it means they can spend their time on more complicated problems because I’m fixing the (for them) “simple” ones.

      I did take some web courses (more like structured YouTube tutorials, they were static presentations broken up into chapters that you could watch at your own pace) and attended conferences on our platform (and now my coworkers are encouraging me to present at those), but I didn’t really have any formal instructions.

      1. peachie*

        Yes, same here! I’m impatient and like figuring out how to do things myself if at all possible–I’m still the only person in my office who can write SQL and that’s entirely because I was frustrated with the very limited tools we had available.

        I’m sure I’m going to be working with people much, much smarter and more knowledgeable than me. I did get a sense from the interviews that it’s a small team and everyone is very supportive of one another and always happy to help when learning new skills. I do think I need that.

        I’m also doing those kinds of web courses–it’s helpful, though I really think I learn better actually doing things without being told how. I’m lucky in that my mother works in exactly this field; she helped me with setting up a database and has been giving me “assignments” of reports and I have to figure out how to do them. Doing that has made SUCH a difference in my skills and abilities, especially since I’d run up against the limit of what I could do with SQL at my current role about a year ago.

    3. ZSD*

      My husband switched from academia to something IT-adjacent – writing web content for a university site. His skills are mostly self-taught; once he got invited to interview, he checked out several books on web content writing from the library, and by the time he started, he was a near-expert in web content theory. He’s learned the more techy things on-the-job. I think he enjoys his current position.

      Yes, I think anxiety over moving to a new city is perfectly normal. The good news is that you have a partner coming with you, which will help a lot. The other thing I’ve always told myself when making big moves is, “You can always move back.” I hope this move works out well for you, but if after a year you decide you dislike your new city, well, then, you can move back. You’ll be out several thousand dollars for moving expenses, but that’s a comparatively small amount to invest in a risk that could lead to increased long-term happiness.

      1. peachie*

        Yes, I’m so glad to have my partner with me. We’ll get to figure out the new city together. And it does make me feel so much better to know that I’m not going to be stuck there forever if I don’t want to be. In fact, I think this job will open up a lot of possibilities, location- and job-wise, that I never would have had otherwise, and I’m grateful for that.

    4. Not a Real Giraffe*

      For #2, I moved away from a city I loved and thought I’d live in forever to a city that I always thought of as “fine,” but not somewhere I’d want to live. As soon as I made the decision to move, I developed serious preemptive nostalgia and questioned my decision nonstop.

      So I made a list of all my favorite things to do, see, and eat in my current city and made sure to experience them all one last time (or for the first time), and then I made a list of cool/exciting things to do, see, and eat in my new city so that I could a) get excited about being there and b) quickly find reasons to love or reasons to be attached to New City. It worked for me!

      Good luck with the offer and eventual move!

      1. peachie*

        “Preemptive nostalgia”–that is the perfect way to put it! I get this like crazy. I remember feeling this way so strongly when I was moving from a truly shitty apartment to a beautiful, very-close-by house. It doesn’t always make any sense!

    5. Ainomiaka*

      For #2, I do think fear of change can make things seem scarier than they are. Like, you mention feeling attached to your city only after you think about this offer. I would really say think about how much is fear of change, how much is real.

      1. peachie*

        I think you’re right. I do think it’s mostly fear of change–which is odd, as I think I’m a very adaptive person and tend to handle change well.

    6. peachie*

      Update: I GOT THE JOB. Just got an email! Formal offer will probably be early next week, so I haven’t accepted yet, but… oh my god!

      1. peachie*

        Update update: Just got and accepted a formal offer. The offer was so much better than expected. I’m in shock.

        1. Jules the Third*

          And that right there is the impact of moving from non-IT to IT.

          The good thing is: In IT, they care what you can do, not how you learned it. Pick up the industry specific certifications if you can, make sure you identify and work on your gaps (I still struggle with SQL joins), but otherwise, just keep doing what you’re doing.

          1. peachie*

            I’m so glad to hear this. I know there’s a lot to learn but I’m excited to learn it. I’m going to be picking up a well-respected certification my first few weeks on the job, and I’m hoping those sorts of education-but-not-a-degree things will keep me up to speed.

          2. Liz*

            That’s right, HR tends to care more about certification than IT. IT folks just want to know if you can do it!

      2. nep*

        Wow — Congratulations. May you thrive in your new digs and new position. We’ll be looking forward to updates.

    7. AndersonDarling*

      I moved from secretary to Data Scientist. It started with a few reports here and there, then redesigning the database for more efficiency, then implementing a new reporting system, learning code, building web scrubbers…everything was self taught in the beginning, but then I started online programs at WGU to get BS and MS in the field. It was a good combination because I knew there were more data possibilities, but I didn’t have the network or formal knowledge to keep going, then the WGU program filled in the holes.

      1. peachie*

        This sounds so much like my path! I kinda just fell into it–mostly because I wanted to find more accurate/efficient ways to do things–and found that I really, really love that kind of stuff. I’m excited to move on to this, even though it’s very different from what I’ve done in the past.

    8. GriefBacon*

      I went from customer service and HR positions to database administration (with unexpected database development). I had absolutely no formal training — I lucked into my weirdly entry-level position because I was a great fit for the organization and my boss could tell I had the right instincts. So everything I know was learned on the job. I do wish I had some sort of technical education (I always joke about how I ended up working with numbers despite never taking math after high school…but seriously. I never even took statistics). If I stay in the field, I will likely look into an online certificate/grad program to supplement my certificates, just for my own piece of mind.

      1. peachie*

        Haha, I’ve been telling people who know about this job search, “If they hire me, it’s DEFINITELY going to be a ‘…but she has a great personality'” scenario. :)

    9. Dawn*

      For #2, my husband and I moved from Cool Smallish Town In The South to the DC suburbs with a little bit less than three week turn around time from the day he signed his job offer to the day we got keys to our rental. It was a whirlwind, and at first I really did not mesh with DC at all! It was too big, too many people, too much traffic, not enough nature!

      However, after a year or so of settling in we started exploring, and now 8 years later I LOVE living in the DC area and have no plans to move anytime soon. I always thought I would hate the “big city” and now I’m finding that I love it (except the traffic but oh well, what can you do?)

      1. peachie*

        Haha, my situation is going to be about the opposite. I’m not moving to a tiny or southern town, but I AM moving from DC. I really, really like it here, especially living in DC proper. I’m gonna miss it. :( But I think someday I might come back.

        1. Paige Turner*

          Good luck! I moved away from DC and I didn’t like it, but that was mostly because of job issues and the particular place that we moved to. We moved back and I don’t regret taking the opportunity to try something else because if I’d stayed, I would have kept wondering if would like it better elsewhere. I think the key is to know that you can always move back someday if you decide to, but that once you get to your new city, to start your “friend networking” right away. DC has a big culture of people being open to making new friends because people move in and out so often, and if your new city has relatively fewer transplants, you may have to make more of an effort to make friends (through hobby groups, through work, through friends of friends) than you’re used to.

    10. EnglishMajorinIT*

      I was an English/Creative Writing major in college and got hired to be a project coordinator for an IT consulting firm. It involved a massive amount of writing (I joke that I wrote the equivalent of 15 novels worth of meeting minutes in the first year alone), which is why they were interested in hiring me. I didn’t know anything about government contracting or IT, and learned everything on the job. I’m now a business requirements analyst for a major financial firm.

      If you’ve been able to teach yourself data science and SQL, you should probably be fine. If you didn’t mislead your interviewer about your background, they know what they’re getting into and will probably expect to train you on the job.

      Good luck!

      1. peachie*

        It’s so good to know that “creative” types can move successfully into these roles! I know that both people in my personal and professional life (and definitely interviewers) are really confused about how I got from A to B, but I do think that data science is a surprisingly creative field. It’s all just puzzles you have to solve, and puzzles are very creative!

    11. Specialk9*

      #2 – oh yeah totally. I have the ability to sail blithely through interviews, oh yeah of course I can do that, but as soon as it’s accepted, I PANIC.

      So here’s the thing – your brain sounds like it’s ok with the situation, it’s your feelings and change-averse lizard brain that’s not ok with it. So be gentle with yourself, talk it through with friends if that helps you, get exercise and stretch to reduce that clenched feeling in your stomach, and above all get sleep.

      I had to make a major move several times – most notably to another country that had a surprise requirement for $3k in savings in order to work there, and I was a broke recent grad.

      The most recent move was so good for me. People warned me about quirks of people in the city, and my experience has been so opposite. I also married someone I met here. :D

    12. TL -*

      on 2- yup. When I moved to Boston (in the middle of the winter and I implore you to try to time it otherwise if your prestigious university is located there) I cried every day for a week – it was dark and cold and weird and I didn’t like.

      But it grew on me and I’m seriously considering moving back there when I moved back to the States – I actually ended up really loving Boston about two years after I’d moved there.

    13. Windchime*

      I switched from non-IT to IT about 16 years ago. I wasn’t self-taught, though–I had a few programming classes from community college under my belt. The classes were all in C++, and I never used that language again once I started working. I learned all my SQL on the job and now it’s my favorite thing and what I’m the best at. Changing to my first IT job was really scary; everyone else seemed like “real” programmers and I was nervous and intimidated. But it all worked out OK and I’m still in IT.

      I also changed cities, but it wasn’t the same as what you are doing. I was employed in IT already and I moved to a different city, but I knew a lot of the people at my new job so I wasn’t coming in cold to a brand-new situation with people I didn’t know.

      Congratulations on your almost-certain new gig!

    14. Akcipitrokulo*

      I got into IT from non-IT as a subject matter expert. I found it was fairly easy, with mostly on the job learning from colleagues, but I have done courses since. They knew I wasn’t from IT background – that’s really OK because they want the skills you HAVE and can show you the rest as needed.

    15. Green Goose*

      About six months after undergrad I moved to South Korea to teach English. I knew I was going but the visa process was taking a really long time because I was waiting for my university to send my diploma, which took months. When my diploma arrived everything moved super quick and I was on a flight within a week or so and even though I was really excited, I was going on my own and I knew no one in the entire country and my emotions were really heightened for the three days leading up to it, and the first day or so that I was there.

      Every good thing (big or small – someone was nice a grocery store) that happened felt like a sign that I had made the right decision, and every small thing I had a much more intense reaction to. That first night when I was in a hotel I had a moment where I was like, “what did I do?!” But that definitely faded. I was really proactive, so I got involved with a lot of stuff outside of work and I kept myself busy. I looked up events that involved other people around my age who were also new to the city because other new people are more open to making friends.

      Good luck!

    16. Liz*

      Congratulations!

      Most of the people I know in IT were self-taught. (I’ve actually worked with a very talented software developer who also has a degree in theatre and runs his own theatre company on the side!) I worked unofficially in IT for about 5 years, then moved more officially over. I learned all my SQL on the job, also in higher ed. It’s only in the past couple of years that I’ve received “official” training in anything (including working on an online Data Science certificate).

      IME, that makes you a better prospect for them. You understand how users think, how they use (or expect to use) the programs that generate the data you’re looking at, and aren’t corralled by technical expertise that says “It must be done this way”. In short, I believe it makes you a more flexible candidate. Don’t doubt yourself!

  8. D.W.*

    How do I proceed?

    I wrote a month ago about making a career transition into Teapot recruitment. I have a potential opportunity to transfer to the Teapot Recruitment department at my current organization under the guidance of the Teapot Recruitment Director, as they are planning to hire for a new position.

    Before the Christmas holiday, the director gave me an advance copy of the job description (position has not been posted), and told me that they would speak to their boss, Fergus, to see if I was eligible to apply as I lack the required experience. The director said they would tell Fergus they are committed to training me and that they felt I might have a good shot because of my tenure with the organization.

    It’s been a month and due to Teapot Recruitment Director’s busy schedule, I have not heard from them as to what Fergus said about my eligibility, or even if they’ve had a chance to speak with Fergus.

    How and when do I breach this topic with Teapot Recruitment Director? I worry that it has fallen off of their radar due to their busy schedule, but I don’t want to seem overly eager — though I am.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Why not just say/email, “I know you are busy but it has been a bit since we talked about Job. I wanted you to know I am still interested and if there is anything I can do to help my application along, I am most willing to work on that.”

      Or more simply,
      “I wanted to touch base with you to be sure you know I am still interested in Job. I know you are busy but I did not want us to totally lose sight of this conversation we had earlier. I thought I would check in to see where things are at.”

    2. Samata*

      I agree with @Not So NewReader. Just shoot a quick email saying you hadn’t heard anything in a while and wanted to be sure there was nothing else they needed on your end. A simple sentence won’t seem annoying, it is probably just not on everyone else’s mind as much as it is on yours is all!

  9. Future Analyst*

    Following up on my comment from last week: is there anything to be gained from letting a manager know that her intermittent micromanagement (answering emails I should be answering, being a bottleneck for long-term but urgent items, sometimes creating the sense that I should be running everything by her) is not necessary and/or not something I would want to continue working under? I’m a big believer in communicating your grievances with a spouse or partner before you decide on divorce/a breakup, and I can’t tell if this is similar. I’ve worked with her for over a year now, and I truly don’t know if she knows how she’s coming across and/or how she would take it if I gave her feedback.

    If the answer is yes, should it be a phone conversation (we work in different offices), or would email work? I get that tone can be tough to decipher in email, but I work in a cube farm and wouldn’t want others to hear me giving her the feedback.

  10. Anon here again*

    I’m new to my job (3 months) in a newly created position. I work with one other woman, “Joan.” Joan is twice my age and sort of the “office mother”. Joan is training me and while she isn’t my boss, she is senior to me. Joan is nice and we talk and get along for the most part- other times it seems like she doesn’t like me as much. She runs hot and cold, so it depends. She is also an instigator and likes to clown around.

    Other departments work well together or they seem too, but with Joan I feel like I am by myself. There was an issue with missing files on a shared drive and Joan told the director repeatedly that it wasn’t her. “It wasn’t me! I didn’t do it!” even though I was sitting right next to her. It wasn’t a “we” situation. Then they looked at me and said because I was new, I must have done it. I didn’t and they later caught the person who did do it, but it still feels like there is no trust.

    Any time I leave my area or am not by my desk, Joan comes over to talk to her friends. She will then leave when I come back to my desk. She literally runs away when she sees me. I don’t get it- no one else there does that. I don’t know if she/they are talking about me or she doesn’t want to be seen talking, but it’s annoying and obnoxious.

    I don’t need Joan to defend me or take the blame for me, but she always talks about “having each other’s back” and yet, I don’t think she follows what she preaches.

    She’s been by herself for 7 years, so I understand that she may be used to being alone and who knows? Maybe she doesn’t want me there, but I’m there.

    I just wish there was more camaraderie instead of clique-y, petty behavior.

    Is this a deal breaker for the job? Am I overreacting?

    1. ContentWrangler*

      I wouldn’t say it’s a deal breaker for the job by any means. But I also wouldn’t accuse you of overreacting. It sucks to feel like you have to worry about someone throwing you under the bus if an issue comes up. The worst part of your letter to me is that the director at first seems to have gone along with Joan’s blaming you for the shared drive issue.

      I think all you can do is keep doing your best possible work and ignoring any petty behavior from Joan. You’re still pretty new to the job so it might take a little longer for you to find your “work-friend” group. Maybe look for opportunities to get to know the people in other departments better?

      1. Anony*

        It is one to those things that can be a deal breaker for one person but not for another. I would take a wait and see approach for now. The new person does tend to be blamed for new issues on things like a share drive because it is easy to make mistakes when you are unfamiliar with something so that might not happen again. If possible, wait until you have been there a year and re-evaluate. You might find that everything has worked out or you might decide to start looking for a new job.

    2. LKW*

      I wouldn’t consider it a deal breaker. Nonetheless, it sounds like she’s a bit threatened by you or she’s just immature. Even though a person may be 20 years older, they may behave like they are an insecure 13 year old.

      Don’t let it get you down and keep smiling and being really nice. When she runs away, just say “Talk to you later Joan” and then smile innocently at your co-workers.

    3. Millennial Lawyer*

      I think this is a situation where you just have to stay strong and be the best you that you can be and concentrate on high performance. You’ve only been there three months so you DO need to prove you’re trustworthy/good at your job still – even though you know you are! I have a feeling that once you have more of a track record, that will show, and you will have more credibility if/when issues come about. For now, just smile and be gracious and keep your head high.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Eh. Every time I’d see her scurrying back to her desk, I might say, “Joan, no need to run away on my account! You can visit with me, too.”

      IF, this is a big IF, I caught her talking about me then I would say, “Joan. Just tell me to my face. I want to do a good job. If I am doing something wrong, tell me. I will fix it. It’s not a big deal. There is no need to tell other people who cannot fix what I am doing wrong. Just tell me to my face.”
      I would only say this if I was 200% certain that I had caught her talking about me.

      While she is dark and shadowy, you can be light and open.

    5. fposte*

      Is it possible that you and Joan are just too in each other’s pockets? It sounds like there are other people at the workplace but the only one who really figures in your landscape is Joan. Can you find other people to hang out with and just let Joan be Joan without it mattering so much?

    6. BananaStand*

      Yea, that would be a deal breaker for me. It sucks and I’m going through it to. People literally never make eye contact with me when we’re talking as a group so I constantly feel like an interloper (amongst other issues). It sucks which is why I’m leaving. You spend 35+ hours with coworkers you should at least be able to tolerate them.

    7. Jules the Third*

      Co workers do not have to be your friends. It does help if they are reliable, dependable and professional.

      From your post, the only solid thing you have is that she got defensive when something went wrong. Well, now you know that’s a possibility – that means don’t tell her personal things, don’t trust her deeply, don’t expect her to ‘have your back’ and *don’t* *ever* let her pull you into covering for any mistakes she makes. Do differentiate yourself by handling any mistakes *you* make professionally: owning it, and suggesting fixes.

      The ‘leaving when you show up’ – maybe she’s worried you’ll think she’s not working. Maybe she’s allergic to your shampoo. Maybe she’s gossiping. You don’t know, you can’t know, and unless it directly affects your work, you have the option of *not caring*.

      Give it time, and don’t get invested in office personalities and politics.

      1. Specialk9*

        There’s totally a lady at work I avoid because I’m allergic to her perfume! I don’t think this is what’s happening here, but it is a great example of other explanations for behavior.

    8. JustShutUpAlready*

      I don’t think the situation is a deal breaker yet, but it is hurtful, and I completely understand where you’re coming from. I am definitely an outsider in my small office’s clique. The women decided early on I was not one of them, one reason being that I am older. Given that they are rude, unprofessional and spend more time engaged in loud chatter than doing their jobs, I don’t want to be part of that tribe, anyway. If Joan’s friends are anything like her, trust me: You don’t want to in their tribe, either. As other commenters have suggested – be professional and exceed expectations in your job. Be nice to Joan, but you don’t have to go out of your way. It is disappointing to have to put up with her behavior, which is likely borne out of jealousy. If her behavior gets truly out of line, start documenting (and not on the shared drive)! But give this job your best shot. Try to stay for at least six months, and at best, a year. Things will probably look much better for you after you have acquired more experience. Good luck!

  11. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    I’m kind of reeling today.

    Found out that I’m getting a new manager. That part doesn’t bother me as it’s happened before. Except that it’s the 4th new manager I’ve had in a little over 5 years. Not to mention this is the 3rd management shakeup in less than a year. Two of which are well under six months.

    I asked a trusted coworker about this because I noticed him carrying out a lot of boxes (someone above me in the hierarchy, but who I do not even remotely report to). He’s always been honest with me so I figured he’d either tell me what was going on or tell me SOMETHING was going on but it was above my paygrade.

    Hoo boy. He told me. This was all handled so poorly. Something SMELLS. Two new positions were eliminated. A former employee is coming back and pushing my current (soon to be former) manager out. I know it’s all political, but it just feels so slimy and underhanded and wrong.

    1. Future Analyst*

      Sorry! :( Constantly changing managers is the worst, and that level of changeover feels very fragile.

        1. K.*

          I had 4 bosses in 3 years at a previous employer. It was awful. Boss 1 hired me and quit about six months after that for a better opportunity. Boss 2 was HIS boss, who served as our interim boss while they looked to replace him. Boss 3 was brought in and worked there for about a year and quit; she hated the company. Boss 4 became our boss after the first of two restructurings. The second resulted in our team being eliminated. Oh, and Boss 2 was fired during Boss 3’s tenure and there was no announcement – she just wasn’t there one day, and we had to hear about it through the rumor mill. It was such a mess.

    2. Observer*

      It sounds like you may want to start job searching. There seems to be a significant set of issues there that could easily have a bad impact on your job.

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        Yes and no.

        The environment could, but the shuffling of people won’t impact my position. I have a manager because I have to report to someone, but I am basically my own department. All of my managers thus far have made it perfectly clear they don’t understand what I do and have no interest in learning (I always offer to explain or show because I’ve no idea how you can effectively manage someone when you have NO IDEA what it is they do…). However, at every review, they make it blatantly obvious that they know what I do is important.

        Nevertheless, this whole thing squicks me out. I was planning on looking for a new job anyway. But this certainly helps.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          Just as a general thing, please document what you do so you’ll feel like you *can* leave. (Also, you could share it with a manager and say, “This is what I think my job entails — do you agree?”)

        2. Observer*

          What happens if someone decides that your position is not that important?

          What if you get stuck with a manager who doesn’t understand what you do, and therefore tries to impose inappropriate rules on you? That kind of thing happens all the time.

          But, what I was really getting at is that what you describe sounds like there may be fundamental problems that may have a negative impact on the company as a whole or the division that your work relates to.

    3. Emma*

      I had 5 different bosses in a span of about 3 years in my current job. The dust has finally settled and I’ve had the same boss-manager combo for almost two years now. My main word of caution is to make sure that you’re being fairly compensated along the way, should you decide to stay, and be prepared to leave if your managers are dragging their feet on that for whatever reason.

      I’m in a somewhat ridiculous situation at work right now where I might be getting a salary adjustment because a new person is getting hired to work alongside me and that person, who will be junior to me, will likely get paid more than I do now. I’m glad it’s going to be corrected but it’s frustrating because with each new manager I got at the time there was a lot of “well I don’t know enough about what you do” over and over again.

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        The upside (?) the pay increases and all are handled out of our corporate office and are done separately from our reviews so I’m not overly concerned about that here.

        I’m mostly tired of them throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. We’re the biggest company in the industry. And we’re the biggest office…we should act like it.

  12. Jenny*

    Last summer I did an internship at a consulting firm. Towards the end of that internship (and around the time a lot of people in my graduating year were looking for full-time positions) a friend of mine who was interning at a rival firm was called in for an interview. Later on she told me that they didn’t really want to interview her for a job, but rather use it as a means of getting info on the rival.

    Am I right to think this was a really icky thing for them to do? Maybe it’s common practice among consulting firms (?) but it was one of the reasons I decided against applying for a full-time position there in the future.

    1. Jule*

      It wouldn’t be good, but I’d take your friend’s perspective with a grain of salt. It’s far more likely that they decided to ask questions while they had the chance than that they actually saw her resume, rubbed their hands together like evil villains, and plotted to bring her in just to mine her for information. Not great behavior from those individuals, but not necessarily indicative of a vile company-wide culture issue. And…it probably feels better for your friend to convince herself that not getting the job had nothing to do with her. But that would be a bad thing to base your decisions on.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        I wanted to say that too. Your friend’s explanation sounds unlikely and is the perspective of someone who didn’t get a job.

        1. I Didn’t Kill Kenny*

          I interned for Polaroid in the 80s. Got a 45 min lecture on NOT discussing anything Work related outside the office. Repetitive, repeated lecture. Sales numbers, film usage rates, you name it. Kodak was not their friend!

          Apparently corporate espionage was alive and well in the camera business!

    2. ContentWrangler*

      If that’s true, that’s definitely an “icky” thing to do. Particularly since it would be targeting someone new to the field just starting out who wouldn’t necessarily feel they could just shut down intrusive questions. But I will admit I’m curious as to what they asked. Asking for a certain amount of info about how you did your previous job is normal, and surely an intern couldn’t know that many trade secrets. So, I guess it comes down to how accurate you think your friend’s perspective of the experience is.

    3. Millennial Lawyer*

      What has your experience been like? If you already had doubts, then you should be comfortable with your decision not to apply there. If you loved your internship and would have otherwise applied, I see no reason why you shouldn’t have – your friends experience may or may not be accurate. I don’t know your friend, but it sounds like something someone would say if they didn’t get the job and were upset about it or trying to badmouth your company, for whatever person reasons she had to do that. Unless there are specific questions they asked that make it very obvious what they were trying to do, of course. Basically, your decision should be about your own experiences MAINLY, and then considering how credible you find your friend’s experience.

      1. Jenny*

        Nope definitely didn’t love that internship – it wasn’t terrible for the three months that it lasted, but wasn’t a place I’d like to stay long term. From the conversations I’d had with other people who were working there the place lacked forward planning strategy (so no one really had a clear career path), and you can easily get pigeonholed with very little opportunity to diversify skills etc. Very few people stay longer than a year (the longest serving person there had being there 2 years).

        So yeah…my friend’s comments were only a part of my decision, it probably wasn’t swaying that way anyway though.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Ask your friend to elaborate on why she believes this. Listen carefully to the explanation.

      If she says, “Oh, it’s a hunch. Just my ESP working.” Then maybe there was an actual problem OR maybe NOT. There’s no way to nail that down.

      But if her explanation runs a little deeper, then, yeah, I would consider that incident in making a decision about applying. A little deeper explanation might sound like, they interviewed three other people who interned at Rival Co. also. An explanation like this would make me pause.

      1. Jenny*

        It was more that they didn’t ask about ~her~ experience/skills at all, but rather about the practices of the other company etc. Obviously I wasn’t there to hear the exact details, but it didn’t sound like a typical interview.

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

      I can’t imagine that an intern level employee would have too much information that a rival company would want (or wouldn’t already know from better sources, if that is really what they are up to). So I imagine 2 scenarios: 1) they were asking mundane stuff about what she did in her previous experience and what sort of skills she picked up at her internship = totally normal interview questions, and she is interpreting that as “getting info on the rival”; or 2) they are asking questions to test if she is the type of employee who either readily gives out confidential information, or can be trusted to know and keep certain information confidential.

    6. Rilara*

      I doubt this was the case. The work you get as an intern is just not high level enough to provide any helpful information about another company’s secrets. Even if this was a non traditional internship for people who have been out of college for a while, temporary workers are just not given that much information about any company.

      Don’t listen to your friend in this. It definitely would be a messed up thing to do if it’s true, but neither of you are at a point in your career where this would be a smart tactic for a company to pursue to get their rival’s secrets. Don’t worry about it and don’t let it stop you from working at the company if you want.

    7. Thlayli*

      I used to work as a consultant and I’ve been on at least 2 interviews that I’m certain were just attempts to get info and they never had any interest in giving me the job. In fact I don’t believe there ever was a job. For one of those interviews, one of the guys who interviewed me, was interviewed at my company the following week and was keen to work on a particular bid, and I believe got my boss to discuss the bid with him. He never came to work for us and his team bid in for the same job and was directly competing with us for it. It definitely happens.

      1. Jenny*

        Interesting. I’m surprised that many people here gave the benefit of the doubt to the company, hopefully that means that even if it does happen it’s relatively rare.

        1. Millennial Lawyer*

          I think people are just giving benefit of the doubt based on the info you gave and not knowing your friend – it totally is possible though!

        2. Thlayli*

          To be fair, the other commenters have a point that the amount of info an intern would have wouldn’t really make that type of corporate espionage worth it. But I wasn’t particularly high up either – I think I was “senior engineeer” at that time (that’s only step 2 on the ladder – consultants are great for giving you titles it makes you sound good to clients haha).

    8. FTW*

      There is so much jumping between then big firms that there is not much intel to gain.

      It also shouldn’t have been clear what client the intern was working on during their summer. If there was, that was a mistake on the intern’s part.

      1. Thlayli*

        Why would that be a mistake? It’s normal to put the jobs and clients on your resume as a consultant. When I was a consultant I was required to add every job I worked on to my official resume for them to send out as part of bids, and in 6 years I think I had one job that was listed as “confidential client”. All the others were listed: project title, client, my role in project, brief description of work I did.

  13. Introverted Introvert*

    What is the etiquette in an open office environment regarding conversations? The people right next to me are really funny and since I sit so close, I often overhear their conversations. I sometimes laugh, but then they stop talking. I don’t want them to think I’m intruding, but it’s really some funny stuff. They have a very dry sense of humour and it’s very amusing.

    I’m a little shy, so is it considered rude/intrusive if I do laugh? Or should I try and not say anything? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    1. dr_silverware*

      I’d say either you join their conversation–make eye contact, contribute a bit, maybe even stand up–OR you pretend absolutely like you are hearing none of what they’re saying. It’s similar to living in a big city like New York–you can’t get physical privacy, since there are so many people around, but you can absolutely get social privacy by ignoring people who are having private conversations, by not staring at someone running to the store in their PJs, and by expecting everyone else will give you the same courtesy.

    2. Jady*

      Depends on the office culture. In my office, that’s totally normal and fine to do.

      If you don’t know these people and haven’t actually talked to them, that might strike a little odd. You should try interacting with them some, making friends, get involved in the conversation instead of just listening.

      This exact scenario could be an ice-breaker, though. If they look at you odd again, just say “Sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt, but you guys are so funny I can’t help myself!” And at that point if you can, comment on or contribute to the conversation. “I can’t believe someone would do that!”, for example.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      You can laugh if you overhear obviously, but the done thing in my experience is not to actually join the conversation (e.g. turning chair round, speaking) unless invited.

      1. Cajun2core*

        Ditto. I have been in this situation, and I have been written up for “joining in conversations in which I was not invited.” even though I was being helpful.

    4. MLB*

      Since you’re shy, you may be against this but when I used to work in a larger office with a cubicle farm, I always told people if they were speaking loud enough for me to hear them, I was going to provide my 2 cents or interject. There are ways for people to have a private conversation in a large office space, and if they’re annoyed that you giggle if you hear something funny that’s on them, not you.

    5. Eye of Sauron*

      If you find yourself laughing, you can just “Sorry, not trying to listen in, but that last bit broke through my concentration.”

      I think the to do is to initiate some conversation with one or both of them (at a point when they are not talking to each other). That way you’ll be more likely to be able to join the conversations as they happen.

      You can also go with the direct approach if you are feeling weird about it and put it out there
      “Hey Bob, I got to feeling awkward the other day and thought I’d mention it… most of the time I’m in my own little world with my teapot spreadsheets, every once in while when I come up for air I actually notice that I’m in an office with people talking around me… Hopefully I don’t come across as a nosy nelly during those times… speaking of which… now that I realize it I meant to get a cup of coffee about an hour ago need anything while I’m in the kitchen” , says Introverted Introvert in a breezy manner.

    6. Cyclatrol*

      I think that the approaches described by Eye of Sauron are very strong. And, based on experience, it might be that one or more of the talking people are inwardly hoping to draw you into the conversation. I’d think of it as an opportunity: witty people who can speak well and who have a good sense of humor are the people I would want to get to know better anyhow.

      In the unlikely event that the ‘talkers’ come back with something unfriendly like “That was a private conversation”, you may or may not wish to remind them that no, it isn’t private, not if they’re in an open office and speaking loudly enough to be overheard. And no, you are under no obligation to don headphones whenever you hear a “private conversation”. But I’m just being a pessimist: I’ll bet they’ll be a-okay with you.

      I despise open offices, though. I used to sit 10ft away from an ‘meeting space’ that had no doors, just divider panels that didn’t reach the ceiling. Posting signs about “Please be quiet” didn’t work. Some spirited conversations hit 70dB (I had a sound pressure meter I brought in from home; you can buy one for $20 at Amazon).

      I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, but I eventually learned to have fun with it. For instance, someone in the meeting would say “so you heard about the upcoming layoffs in [redacted]?” and someone else would respond “yeah, I hear they’re scheduled for [redacted]” and so on and so forth. When the meeting was breaking up, I’d pop my head in and say “so – layoffs coming soon in [redacted], huh?”

  14. Princess Daisy*

    Good jobs for people with traveling spouses?

    My husband is considering being a traveling PA in a few month upon graduating. He would make a good income, but I still want to contribute. What jobs can I work remotely?

    1. Anita-ita*

      There are tons of remote work websites that list a variety of them under different areas of work (marketing, tech, support, etc.). Also finding a company that you know has virtual positions. I know Medtronic (medical devices) and JLL (brokerage) offer them. Also glassdoor.com and indeed.com have options to search remote jobs. It takes a lot of searching but just google around and search the job sites and you’ll find a lot.

    2. LAI*

      What field are you in? My friend does online customer support for a big educational company, and works from home. She can do her job from anywhere with an internet connection.

      1. Princess Daisy*

        My degree is in finance/accounting. I’ve done AP/AR and customer service in the past, but am currently in a sales support role.

        1. Natalie*

          I have no idea what the requirements are or even if they are remote jobs, but I believe a lot of the cloud accounting stuff has some accounting professionals on staff for customer service. There’s the tax ones (H&R Block, TurboTax, etc) and bookkeeping software (Quickbooks, Freshbooks, etc). Might be worth looking into.

      2. Librarian-ish*

        Sorry to butt in on this conversation but do you know if this is education like K-12 or university level? I’d love to have a job where I can work remotely but I only have experience in college level education.

        1. Ree*

          If you’ve worked in higher ed, check out Western Governors University – WGU
          They have offices in Salt Lake City, but most of their teachers and student mentors work remotely. Generally they want Masters or Doctorate degrees, but they have 30+ job listings last I checked.
          This coming from a WGU student :)

    3. It's all Fun and Dev*

      I don’t have any ideas but I’m curious what other people suggest. How much is he traveling, and do you want to work remotely to be able to travel with him, or to be able to work from home and not go into an office (for childcare reasons, for example)?

      1. Princess Daisy*

        Ideally, I would be travelling with him. As a traveling PA, he would be able to pick and choose different assignments in different cities, anywhere from a few days to a few months (for example, filling in for a PA on maternity leave). For that reason, I wouldn’t really have the ability to work in an office, since we wouldn’t be in any one place for more than a few months. So, any sort of paid work I could do from my laptop no matter where I’m at would be preferred.

  15. Namast'ay in Bed*

    I started a new job this week and it’s going great! I’m a contractor to start with the chance to go permanent. It works a bit differently than how normal contractors go – I’m salaried and there is no set end date, you just act as a normal employee until at some point that they decide they do or don’t want you, which could maybe fall in the 4-8 weeks range. I’ll try and suss out more information from others who went through this (it’s how a lot of people started here), but for the moment I’m going to sit back, work hard, and enjoy how awesome it feels to go from the insanity of agency life to the relative laid-backness that is inhouse.
    My real question is this: would it be weird to bring in some personal items for my desk? Nothing too crazy, just some small things like my own mug or a pretty pen cup, a calendar or pictures of my dog/loved ones. This all falls well within how others decorate, I just wasn’t sure if it was weird since I’m not a permanent employee. I don’t want to appear naive about the current non-permanence of my role, but I also would enjoy some small personal touches while I’m here, even if it ends up only being for a month or two.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I don’t think it’s weird to bring in your own mug and a few other things – I wouldn’t settle in too much, but a few personal items should be fine. I was a contractor for awhile, and after a week or so I started bringing in a few small things like a mug.

  16. Susan K*

    I’ve been assigned as the team lead on a project for the first time. It’s exciting but also kind of overwhelming! I’ve never even been involved in a project like this, let alone run one from the ground up, and I feel like I may be in over my head. I have a general goal, a budget, and a soft due date ~8 months from now (but my manager said that can be extended if necessary). The project involves using technology to improve efficiency and reduce costs associated with paperwork and recordkeeping.

    I am picking my own team, but I don’t even know how many people should be on the team (I’m thinking probably three or four). I have a feeling that not many people will be jumping at the opportunity to join my team because it will just mean more work for them. Would I be better off deciding who I want on the team and approaching them individually, or sending out an e-mail to everyone asking who is interested? There are some people in the department who are more desirable as team members, but I’d really like to have people who are interested and want to be there.

    Also, can anybody recommend any good resources for organizing a project like this? I have a general idea of what to do and maybe I could muddle through it on my own, but I haven’t had any training on leading a team and I would feel better if I could refer to some kind of step-by-step guide. And I would be grateful for any other advice on running a project. I think this project could make or break my career, so the stakes are high for me.

    1. DCompliance*

      Have you ever heard of the MOCHA model for project management? It may give you a baseline to start assigning roles.

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      Don’t send out an e-mail asking who is interested. You should be deciding what resources you need and acquiring those resources. If you don’t know what resources you need, you should make figuring out what you need your first task.

      Also, if the project is implementing a specific commercial product or system, the salespeople who sold you the product would likely be good resources for giving you a rundown on what to expect during implementation.

      1. Susan K*

        Thanks for the advice… My department is comprised of teapot makers and teapot designers, and the project will affect the teapot makers more. I am a teapot maker and know very little about the teapot designers’ role in paperwork and recordkeeping, so I know I need at least one teapot designer, and probably two other teapot makers. Among each group (makers and designers) skillsets are pretty similar, so there’s not really one specific person who will fill the need. There is one teapot maker who was at the top of my list because she’s a top performer, smart and hardworking, and when I asked if she was interested her answer was literally, “I don’t care.” That was disappointing because she was my best hope and she seems ambivalent at best, so I started to think I might be better off with someone who is not as strong a performer but more interested and enthusiastic about the project, but I’m not sure who would be.

        The project does involve a specific product, and part of the reason I am team lead for this is because I am the department expert on this product. I’ve had a lot of training on it and already done a lot of work with it that will be relevant to this project, but this product itself does not have everything we need, so part of the project is finding other product(s) that we can use for the things the first product can’t handle.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          It sounds like you need to get political buy-in. Can you go to the Makers’ manager and ask who makes sense for the role on your team? You gotta come correct, though. Know how much time it will take, have deadlines set, and know what specific skills or inputs you need.

          I’ll second what Eye of Sauron is saying below. All good advice. You have a budget already, which is good. Does that budget allow for ear-marking some of the funds for your own training?

          1. Susan K*

            No, the department has a separate budget for training, and I suspect my manager won’t go for sending me to project management training. I have already had a lot of training on software that is a big part of this project, and I am pretty sure my manager thinks I should be capable of tackling this project without any additional training. Although it seems like a big project to me, it’s small potatoes compared to most projects at this company.

            I also want to limit myself in how much I ask management for help, because I don’t want to seem as though I need my hand held, so I want to save my questions for when I really need them. They want me to form my own team, so I think, at the very least, I should have a tentative list of who I want for my team before I ask.

    3. Eye of Sauron*

      Any chance you can get into a project management basics training class (I’m not suggesting a full PMP certification, but you should be able to find an Intro or basics class? This sounds like a pretty big project to cut your teeth on right out of the gate. I’d also be looking on amazon for books to read to give you a framework for your project.

      But to get you started here’s what I would do:
      >Find a project plan template and start filling it out. It will give you an idea of where and how to start. Think of your plan as someone sitting across a table from you asking questions. You will not have all the answers when you first sit down with it, so don’t worry if you have to start with “To Be Determined” It walks you through, scope, team, communication, implementation, and other basic functions of the plan. It can be as in depth or superficial as you need it to be. If I were you I’d start high level and add detail as you go. You should start out by answering the question “What is the problem this project is going to solve?” To really answer this question, you will need to do the next suggestion.

      > You should also be ‘interviewing’ the sponsors of your project. The sponsors will have the vision (hopefully) that they would like to see. Right now your scope is huge… speaking with your sponsors will help you figure out where to focus your efforts. Maybe it’s accounting that is the biggest pain point, or customer service. Basically you need to find the person or people that authorized this project and find out what they have in mind. Then you can start to drill down to find out who should be on your team.

      >As for establishing a team, I like the RACI model. You look around your organization and answer the question, “Does this role/function have Responsibility, are they Accountable, should they be Consulted, or just Informed” Generally speaking anyone in the Responsible category will be on your team.

      In other words, you have some homework to do before you pull together a team. Start with some discovery first and what you learn will help you identify the resources you need.

      1. Susan K*

        Thanks for the advice… I can look into a project management class, but I don’t think that’s going to be a possibility. Do you recommend any specific books, or a good project plan template?

        I do have a pretty good idea of the vision for the project, and a big part of it is something I’ve already been working on, just not as an official project, so I am not starting completely from scratch here. My manager (the sponsor of the project) has given me a pretty good idea of what he has in mind, although he is kind of disorganized and just throws out random thoughts as they come to him rather than giving me any kind of organized list.

        1. Witty Nickname*

          My advice is to start big and then break things down. What are your project objectives? What are the main deliverables you need to meet those objectives? How are you going to complete those deliverables?

          I build a table in word or powerpoint for this – I find it’s easy to modify and accessible to my stakeholders as I review the project scope with them. I have a column for strategic objectives, then one for key deliverables, and 3 for tasks. (I use a modified version of PMI’s program definition template, but I’m not seeing it in a google search. You could also search for a work breakdown structure template).

          Make sure you interview your stakeholders too – find out what objectives they have, what do they expect to be able to do once this project is complete, is there any specific functionality they expect to have, etc. All of these things should fit into your template somewhere.

          The rule of thumb for the table is as you move to the right, you have at least 2 rows connecting to each row to the left. So if you have a strategic objective, you must have at least 2 key deliverables that connect to it, and at least 2 tasks that connect to each deliverable, etc. You can have more than 2 rows, but you must have at least 2. I use 3 tasks columns so I can break tasks down into their specific actions/components, but you can use more or fewer if needed (once I get to the point where I can’t break a task down into at least 2 things anymore, I stop. There’s no rule that says you have to use all three columns. You should use at least 1 task column though).

          Once you’ve arranged everything, go through your template from left to right and ask yourself “how” after each column. (for example, if your strategic objective is “increase revenue for Chocolate Teapots Inc. by 20% in the next 4 years,” one key deliverable could be “set up a tea of the month club”, with a task of “build member website” which has a task of “design member dashboard.”) Then go back through the template from right to left, asking “why” after each column (e.g., “Design member dashboard. Why? To Build a member website. Why? So we can set up the tea of the month club. Why? To increase the revenue…”).

          Move things around if you need to. Add in anything you think is missing (the “how” and “why” questions really help with this part). Once you are done, you’ve got your project scope and a lot of your requirements. You can identify the skills you will need on your project team so you can get project resources.

          Does your company like to use a specific project management methodology or framework (waterfall/PMP, Scrum, etc)? If not, maybe read a bit about the different approaches to decide what you think will work better for your/your team. I was a PMP who worked exclusively on the creative side then got thrown into a technical PM role in a Scrum environment when my company was acquired last year, so I’ve been working on learning as much as I can. I took an online class on Scrum that gave a decent overview of it, and then read the scrum guide on scrum.org, took a bunch of practice exams on other sites (the open assessment on scrum.org does not prepare you for their exam – the assessments on mplaza were the ones that ended up being the most helpful, but they aren’t free) and then paid to take the PSM exam. (You don’t have to take the exam, but the practice exams were really helpful for me in understanding how Scrum works. I took the exam because there have been a lot of layoffs due to the acquisition. The PSM is not as well-known as the CSM certification, but it’s at least something for my resume, and I didn’t have to take a $1000 in-person class to get it).

          1. Susan K*

            Thanks — that’s very helpful! As far as I know, my company doesn’t use a specific project management methodology, or at least, if they do, they don’t expect it for this project.

  17. Marsha marsha marsha*

    I’m new to the job and to office culture, but is it always so catty? People seem to be overly concerned with how others are and if someone is upset or angry. At my office, they are overly observant and if you aren’t smiling or look happy, they think something is wrong. I have the type of face that always looks like I’m scowling or upset, but it’s just my face! I know that this is a general reaction, but these folks seem overly sensitive/observant about things.

    They can be social and funny too, but it just seems like they fret over the little things too much. I wish the concentration was more on the work and less on the petty stuff. Any thoughts?

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      No, office workers are not always so catty.

      This is an impossible one to answer. People are people. Sometimes one or two people can influence office culture. Sometimes its the whole group. Sounds like your office doesn’t have a great dynamic. The one thing I might recommend is come up with something quick to say when they comments on your facial expressions and keep saying it. Maybe it could train people that you just always have RBF.

      1. fposte*

        I really like your point that sometimes this is in reaction to one person; I think that happens a lot more than people realize.

      2. nonegiven*

        Practice an angry scowl in the mirror, make sure it looks obviously worse than your RBF.

        “You don’t like my face? Why would you need to tell me that? Wow!”

        Turn back to work, relax face.

    2. Natalie*

      I usually have this same problem when I’m new someplace and my personal preference is to be super nonchalant and cheerful about it. I don’t come out and say it, but my internal attitude is “you are the one being weird about this, but don’t worry, you’ll get over it.”

    3. Millennial Lawyer*

      Every office culture is different. I work in an office where everyone is very professional and kind and helpful. I used to work in an office that was full of miserable people yelling all the time.

    4. Lissa*

      I had this problem when I worked in restaurant/food service, to be honest! Everyone was constantly talking about how they hate “drama”, but assuming other people were upset and storming around based off assumptions. It seriously drove me batty especially because the main participants in this never seemed to realize it, and would blame everyone else.

    5. YarnOwl*

      In my experience, there are usually at least some people like this in every office, but depending on the overall office culture they may or may not have an effect on how everyone else feels and acts.

      I work in an office with a couple of people who are like this, but because overall it’s a very professional and kind office, that kind of behavior is mostly ignored by everyone else. So it all depends!

    6. Specialk9*

      I make a habit of always having my Game Face on in the hallways and public areas at work. Going to the bathroom, lunch, to a meeting? Game Face.

      That involves standing straight (imagine pulling a string on top your head, until everything is tall and in line), walking confidently and a touch briskly, and putting on a very small smile and warming my eyes slightly.

      Ironically, it’s a variation on my outdoors ‘don’t get mugged’ face (stand tall, look alert, walk confidently – I grew up in a dangerous city).

      It takes a bit to practice, and then is second nature. The great thing is that our bodies react massively to smiles and frowns – putting on a small smile is a powerful way to feel happier. So it’s an outward facing move that changes your inside. Powerful.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      It just varies with the culture & people of that particular workplace.
      I would say no, it’s NOT the norm in general, but given the regular posts on this blog, it does seem to happen frequently at a lot of workplaces.
      As far as your particular workplace and people fretting over whether or not people ‘look happy’ I’d say that’s an annoying one, but fairly benign one. If someone comments on it, I’d just be inclined to jokingly say: “Yes, this just so happens to be my resting bitch face, even thought I’m not at all unhappy or upset about anything.” and maybe follow up with, “You know a surprising large number of people also have resting bitch faces when they’re concentrating on their work, so perhaps you’re fretting over this study of resting bitch faces a little too much?”
      But I’m a bit of a snark.

  18. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Recruiters/Talent Acquisition/People who do hiring

    Give me some suggestions on great ways to attract talent that I might be missing! With the unemployment rate so low, there are less people looking and it’s getting harder to fill positions.

    1. artgirl*

      Make sure postings have an actual number listed for salary, rather than “competitive” or “aligned with market” so that people know you mean it when you use those adjectives. I think not knowing a real number can kind of increase the activation energy for any particular job application.

      1. GriefBacon*

        Additionally, if your salaries are on the lower side (or even just not on the higher side) for your area but you offer benefits that can make the salaries more palatable — be it cheap health insurance, flexible schedules, great holidays/PTO, tuition/professional development benefits, pet-friendly office, etc, etc — make sure you’re mentioning those in job postings!

    2. Natalie*

      Most employers seem to think of this as a last resort, but raising salaries and/or benefits is a pretty direct option.

      And if appropriate, really examine the job requirements you have to see if they are actually “need to have” or “nice to have”. Sometimes managers get a bit stuck on having a specific degree, even for a mid-career professional, or years of experience with a specific piece of software when most people will get comfortable with new software quickly, or even criminal records when they’re not actually relevant to the job or were a long time ago. [Only a little bit relevant, NYT had a feature last weekend on employers in Wisconsin that have started hiring people that are still imprisoned. Not through a BS prison-labor program where they make a quarter or whatever, but at real wages and with the option to get a job at the same employer after they get out. It was neat.]

      1. Specialk9*

        A side jink on that topic, I now exclusively buy Dave’s Killer Bread, bc it’s healthy and gives people with criminal records jobs that don’t force them deeper into crime.

        1. Windchime*

          Yes, this and it’s amazingly delicious bread. I bought a loaf of something else the other day and it tasted like sawdust in comparison.

        2. Chaordic One*

          And most of Dave’s Killer Bread products do NOT contain soy!

          One of the few breads that do not and a big plus for those of us with food allergies to soy.

    3. weathersprite*

      +1000 for adding salary info

      If there is anything remotely arduous about your application process (e.g.: you need an account in our system! or rebuild your entire resume in our specialized application!) see if you can find another way to do it. I’m much more likely to apply for a job if I can easily just send in a cover letter and resume.

      Also: if you know any people who are working in a similar position, ask them what they think of the vacancy you are posting. What about it looks appealing/unappealing?

      1. Leela*

        oh HUGE yes to making your application process easier. Nothing turns off a candidate like turning in their resume, then basically having to re-enter their resume by hand, item by item, in a specialized system. I don’t doubt that it makes recruiting worlds easier (and as someone who did recruiting, it does), but if your candidates have options at all they’ll pass on this unless your company is wildly competitive. Amazon, Microsoft, etc, can get away with application processes like that because people will want to work their for the wages, prestige, resume boosting, whatever. A lesser-known place with nothing selling it automatically is wiping themselves off of the radar for strong candidates who don’t need to put up with it.

    4. Leela*

      Question about how you’re reaching out to people! I used to work in hiring and my manager would always insist that I send out the vaguest of vague e-mails like “hot coding job in YOUR AREA! contact me to hear more!” despite my constant protests that at best I’ll hear nothing back from anyone unless they’re desperate (meaning the hiring manager probably won’t touch them) or I get very snarky e-mails back from candidates about what a terrible recruiter I am and this is why everyone hates recruiters.

      When you reach out to people, does it sound like a canned e-mail? Even if it’s not, does it read that way? As a recruiter working in a tech hotbed, I also got loads of e-mails from people trying to hire me as the bigger local companies were constantly looking for recruiters. I never responded to e-mails like this, it takes interest for me to put in the work to respond, and if I have nothing in the e-mail to interest me, it’s not going to happen.

      The salary advice I’m a little torn on, depending on whether you’re recruiting in-house or for an agency. As much as I understand and agree that salary information is a huge determining factor in whether I’d care about a job or not, and that it feels like you’re getting inappropriately baited when you don’t have that as a candidate, it can cause a lot of problems. For one, in my experience at an agency, a job doesn’t “pay” anything. They have a ridiculously broad range (like 80-130K) sometimes, and … how do you post that? If you post it as is, it looks like that company doesn’t have their stuff together at all. Or they’ll ONLY see 130K and feel super super cheated when they’re offered 85K because they “could have” gotten 130 but they never would have because that number basically exists as something you can use if you find someone very overqualified but they’re the best candidate out of the pool. You can also run into a lot of problems (as I did, often) by say, a job needing a C++ developer with about 5 years of experience. So I find someone with 5 years of dev experience, they list C++ on their resume. I call them, they tell me that they’ve been a C++ dev for 5 years, all sounds good, I discuss salary with them and set up an interview. Then it turns out that they sort of did a LITTLE C++ at their job for over 5 years, but they’re really not at the needed level but could get there so they get a lower offer and suddenly I’m a liar who purposely told them the wrong salary just to get them in (???).

      Or I recruiter two people to work admin at a local tech company, same role with multiple openings. One was far more qualified than the other, so she paid more by us. When the two discussed salary, I get a a furious call from the other one that I’d lowballed her and pocketed the money because the job “paid” more than I said. There was no extra money to pocket; the company didn’t pay the agency the same amount for both of them because again, one was FAR. MORE. QUALIFIED.

      1. It's all Fun and Dev*

        As a candidate, I hate the broad range too – I think my current job posted a range of like 43k-78k, and I got brought in at 44k. Obviously they have a range in mind of where they’ll start a new employee, why can’t they just post that?

        1. Anony*

          As a candidate I would prefer to see the range for the average candidate who fits the requirements posted. Then you could add that a higher salary is available for candidates with XYZ additional expertise or education.

    5. Clever Name*

      List a salary range for posting (and make it actually competitive!). If you have an unusual benefit that would impact someone’s finances, list it. For example, my company pays 100% of the employee insurance premium. You read that right. The company pays for it all, and it’s worth at least $3000 annually.

    6. Thlayli*

      Make it easy to apply! Post a salary range and if the salary is dependant on experience give an idea of where in the range someone with x experience would lie. Make it clear what the job is and how many hours a week, and if there’s travel. List benefits. In short, make it easy to figure out if applying is worth their time, and make it easy to apply.
      And the most obvious one of all – pay well and offer good benefits, and good cabdidates will apply.

      1. Thlayli*

        And as someone else said upthread, make it clear which experience is a deal breaker and which is a nice to have. Particularly important for attracting women, as most women apparently will not apply unless they meet all the requirements in the ad, whereas most men will apply if they only meet some of the requirements.

    7. Kate*

      Do you mind sharing the field or what types of jobs you’re looking to fill? I have plenty of ideas, but they’re going to vary wildly depending on what you’re hiring for.

    8. EA in CA*

      We found that adding bits about our culture, what it was like working at our offices, some of the events we do and listing out many of the perks and benefits that are included got more qualified applicants than using our previous method. We also utilized networking functions at local colleges and universities to get our company’s name out to prospective new graduates. We are big on promoting internally as much as we can, so many of our open positions are prefect for new or newer to the field applicants.

    9. Jennifer Thneed*

      If you can, try applying at your company for something, just to see what the outsider’s experience is like. You might be surprised — it might be really offputting.

      (My personal un-faves: (1) systems that take in my resume and then (wrongly) parse everything into their fields, and then graciously allow me to fix it all; (2) systems that expect me to retype all the info that my resume has into their fields.)

    10. sometimeswhy*

      Reach out to alumni associations and/or professional fraternities at nearby universities with programs applicable to the positions you’re recruiting for.

      I stumbled into that strategy after I realized that several positions in a row had a LOT of applicants from the same specialized degree program at the same university. Someone with a connection to my org was independently forwarding our recruitments around their listserv. We ended up with some really great candidates (and hires) from those and now I’m looking for more from other universities to reach out to.

  19. Miki*

    How do you feel about advice saying you should hand-write your resume/cover letter to show that you’re /really/ invested in a certain role? (i.e. send the original copy of your hand-written document, not a photocopy of your resume).

    On the one hand…sure you can be sure it’s not from a mass-send sort of exercise, but on the other…it really doesn’t add much value to what the candidate is trying to communicate with regard to their skills or experience etc. (Unless I guess if penmanship is a really important part of the job.)

    1. NJ Anon*

      I honestly have never heard this. As a hiring manager, it would come off really strange and would keep me from considering the applicant.

    2. Aunt Vixen*

      In the United States? Don’t do it.

      I vaguely remember being taught that in – the UK? France? Europe in general? I said my memory was vague – business correspondence was better handwritten than typed, which is counterintuitive to Americans, but that was a long time ago and may no longer be true (if it ever was). In the US it is not. Don’t do it. :-)

      1. PX*

        In (Western) Europe, can confirm this is not true at any place I’ve ever lived in or worked, I’ve also never heard of it!

      2. SarahKay*

        I *think* it was true in the UK about 30 years ago. I have vague memories of my Mum hand-writing an application form in her best writing. But that was before computers were wide-spread and many people wouldn’t have had access to a type-writer at home.
        Now – NO, don’t do it!

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Yeah, I think this would come off as unpolished and weird. This falls under the heading of ‘gimmick’ — and remember that really wanting the job is a whole lot less important than actually being good at the job.

    4. Susan K*

      Nooooo! This would come across as really weird and probably get your resume thrown in the trash. It would make them wonder if you don’t know how to use a computer or something. It would also be a real inconvenience to the company, because most places want electronic versions of these things.

      1. Natalie*

        And such a waste of time! You could probably write three cover letters in the time it takes you to handwrite your resume.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Nearly choked on my coffee with that one. Now I’m picturing shrines to the God of Gumption, jobseekers leaving copies of their resume and lighting votives.

    5. Observer*

      Hard no!

      Do any of the people who give this advice actually have jobs that they had to apply to in this century? Or even in the last quarter of the last century!

      This is the kind of thing that WILL get your resume put into the rejects pile, no matter how good you otherwise look on paper. At *BEST* it is inconvenient for the prospective employer and does NOTHING to indicate your enthusiasm or eagerness for the job.

      1. Jadelyn*

        I honestly don’t think they know a damn thing about – or care about – people getting jobs. I think they’re generally freelancers trying to sell articles, and they figure the way to do that is to Stand Out, no matter if it makes them look ludicrous to anyone who actually knows how job searching works.

    6. Jadelyn*

      Oh…my…no. No, I would Not Recommend that. That’s some either extremely gimmicky or extremely old-fashioned advice. Or both. It’ll make it harder to process – I don’t care how good your penmanship is, it’s still less simple to read scans of handwritten text than it is to just read text typed on the damn computer in the first place – and it’ll stick out in a weird/bad way.

    7. Porygon-Z*

      Sounds super gimmicky to me, so I wouldn’t put any stock in it, at least if you want to be hired by a reasonable employer. I’m trying to envision what a handwritten resume I wrote would look like and my mental image isn’t pretty.

    8. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      PLEASE don’t do this. Your resume will be word docs or pdf, and printed on normal printer paper when needed. If you do anything else, you’re going to get your application tossed. Whoever gave you that advice should not be listened to, ever.

    9. Laura H*

      Only thing I can see this being very loosely practical for is DRAFTING the documents. I find comfort in working from something I’ve handwritten for my non work hobby, as sometimes it gives a chance to catch mistakes and reword things- but even with that loosely practical purpose, it’s a step you really don’t need to add…plus having the stuff automatically aligned is a godsend.

    10. zora*

      It also creates EXTRA WORK for the people receiving your resume, if they have to scan it to get it uploaded into their internal hiring system. Generally people don’t want to hire someone who is creating extra work for them, before. even. getting. the. job.

    11. JamieS*

      Unless someone is applying to be part of a carpel tunnel research project I can’t see there being any benefit

        1. Lora*

          If I received a CV written in calligraphy, it better be sealed with sealing wax, delivered by either bird or be-wigged footman, and also I would treasure it forever even if it had no relevant experience. I wouldn’t HIRE the person, I would just find it hilarious enough to get everyone to come look at it before hiring someone else.

    12. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I know you got lots of answers to this, but I want to chime in and say that I would not get the impression that someone was “really invested in a certain role” if they sent handwritten documents. I would assume they had no computer/technical skills and, in this day and age, that would likely knock them out of the running for any position I was trying to fill.

    13. Traveling Teacher*

      This used to be a big thing in France, but it is *not* a thing anymore!

      Cursive writing is still a huge deal in French schools, and university-level students still turn in their work handwritten if it’s not explicitly specified that it’s not supposed to be typed. They say that it’s to prove that they took the assignment seriously (and also that printing is expensive), but I think that for a majority it’s a case of subverting a dying cultural norm to their own ends. Namely, plagiarism!

    14. Chaordic One*

      I’ve heard of this and I’ve even seen it in practice. It’s a bad idea.

      Very few people have decent handwriting, and even if you do, you have to figure that your application is going to be read by people who aren’t going to look at it very closely at first. You want to make sure that it is easy to read, so a copy of a clearly written, well-formatted resume prepared with a word processor is what is you want.

      Also, it should be pretty easy to tweak a resume to appeal to a specific job that you might be applying for and then print it out. I pretty much tailor each resume to the specific job that I’m applying for, so almost every one is one-of-a-kind and its really not that big of a deal.

  20. ThatGirl*

    There’s no nice way to correct a co-worker on small mistakes, is there?

    She keeps saying things *to customers* that are a little wrong, like calling Instagram “a blog”, calling the @ symbol an “ampersand sign” while giving out an email address, or mangling a URL as “www dot info @ teapots dot com” which … no.

    She’s usually on the phone saying these things so I don’t really want to be obnoxious. But she sits right in front of me so I can’t help but hear them.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Pull her aside sometime when she’s not on the phone and say something like “Hey, I’ve noticed you giving out our website as [insert mangled mishmash of url and email address], but that’s not quite right. It should be [correct url]. Just wanted to let you know so our customers don’t get confused!”

    2. Snark*

      The instagram and @ symbol issues are small enough that I’d let them fly. The url mangling has the potential to really confuse someone, though, so I think it’s worth mentioning to her in a light, breezy kind of way.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Right, I was picturing someone who wasn’t tech-savvy typing in “info&website.com” and being really confused.

          So far they’ve all been one-offs, but I appreciate the ideas and scripts if I keep noticing it.

    3. ContentWrangler*

      If you think these issues are causing customer confusion, then you should probably bring it up. I think you can still be nice about it. Just catch her privately and explain you’ve noticed a couple things that she is accidentally saying wrong. Maybe if you could make a joke or light comment about how hard it can be to keep new social media/internet stuff straight?

    4. Millennial Lawyer*

      Since this is to customers, and about the business, this warrants saying something – in a LIGHT tone. “Hey, I noticed you said X and I just wanted to let you know X, since we don’t want to accidentally confuse the customer!” If she reacts poorly to your suggestion, it might be worth mentioning to your manager and asking how to handle it.

      1. ThatGirl*

        My manager sits right behind me, so unless I did it while she wasn’t at her desk, she’d likely hear. I don’t think she heard CW say those slightly-off things, though.

        Anyway – I appreciate the input. I’ll have to work on my “friendly” tone, I can sound a bit overexplainy at times.

        1. Yorick*

          Don’t worry about the manager overhearing, unless you think she’d overreact. It’s a small mistake and it should be pretty easy to correct, so it shouldn’t get her in any trouble or anything.

          1. ThatGirl*

            I meant to say – I don’t think she’d care in the slightest, she’d want me to say something if we were giving out bad info. Just noting that I wouldn’t so much need to mention it to her as she’d overhear me in the first place.

        2. Millennial Lawyer*

          You’re being very thoughtful about how to broach this with your coworker so I think you should be fine! Good luck!

          1. Specialk9*

            I have had coworkers for whom being corrected would have been a big problem. Like Cold War at work problem. You might go to the manager instead.

  21. Murphy*

    I’m nursing, and there’s a small room in my office that I can use for pumping. It’s not reservable, but it’s usually available when I want it (and I have other less convenient options when it’s not). There’s a big glass window on the door, but it’s been covered with contact paper, so you can see if the light is on, but you can’t really see in the room. There’s also a sign on the door that says “Room in use. Do not disturb.”

    Yesterday I was pumping and looking at my phone, when I looked up to see a women I didn’t recognize outside the room pressing herself against the glass. Now she looked like she was trying to listen into the room rather than look into the room, but it made me really uncomfortable. I didn’t say or do anything in the moment because I was kind of shocked. I always make sure I lock the door when I’m in there, so I wasn’t in danger of getting walked in on, but is this something I should tell anyone about? I don’t know who it was, and I’m not sure what anyone could do, but considering what I was doing in there, it really wasn’t cool.

    1. Thursday Next*

      Yikes! That is very unsettling. The only thing I can think of is that this woman was trying to find a private space for something herself, and wondering if this room could suit, or that she was leaning against the door for balance while adjusting a shoe or something. Either way, though, it shouldn’t happen. Is there a sign on the door identifying it as a lactation room? Is it used for other purposes? A very clear pair of signs: “Private Lactation Room” and “In Use—Do Not Knock or Disturb” might help.

      1. Murphy*

        It is used for other purposes (and we do have “designated lactation rooms”, they’re just in other buildings). It’s a really small room, two chairs, an end table, and a phone. We have an open office area, so I think people use it for phone calls/conference calls sometimes.

        I also had someone else knock on the door the other day, but they didn’t appear to be trying to look/listen in the room. I’ve been using it for months without incident!

    2. essEss*

      It sounds like she wanted to use the room and was trying to verify if someone was actually in there so that she didn’t end up asking someone to unlock the room (expecting to find it vacant) and then finding out you were actually in there.

    3. Millennial Lawyer*

      So, the charitable interpretation of this would be that this person was just trying to check whether the room truly was occupied/if a phone call was going on in there/some other reason. Perhaps sometimes the door is closed even when the room is not in use, so they were just double checking.

      If this seems like more than just that from your instinct, maybe a reminder email about respecting privacy of people using the room and just assume it is occupied if the door is closed. I would probably wait until this happens again, though since I feel like the most likely reason was confusion about whether the room was taken.

    4. [insert witty user name here]*

      How long was she pressed against the glass (that you noticed)? If it was a short time (15-20 seconds or less), she probably was either trying to verify that the room was in use or trying to figure out what the sound was. The first time I walked by a room where someone was pumping (and didn’t know it was a designated pumping room), I heard the sound faintly and, not being familiar with it, paused to try to figure out where it was coming from and what it was. So fingers crossed that’s all it was. If it happens again or she stays there for a long time, I could call out “this room is occupied!” and I bet she’d scurry away.

    5. Murphy*

      Thanks, everyone. I might just be overreacting. She might not have realized how visible she was from the inside (since she was right up against the glass).

    6. J.B.*

      If she doesn’t know what the room is used for, could she have been trying to place the “wee-ahh” sound? It’s pretty weird. I’m sorry – that must be frustrating. But probably good to put the word out in nearby offices so people can know.

    7. Thlayli*

      She probably was trying to figure out if it was actually in use or not – if you were on your own then you wouldn’t have been making much noise, so she was listening to try to figure out if it was occupied or not without trying the door.
      Sure it was a bit of a weird way to do it, but hardly merits reporting unless it happens again.

      1. Anony*

        That’s what I was thinking, especially since it is not exclusively a lactation room. Did she even know it is sometimes used as a lactation room? She might have been confused about why it was so quiet and the room in use sign was on the door.

    8. Airkewl Pwaroe*

      Is there any way to get a calendar for this room, treating it as a bookable conference room? We did this at my last company where three women (myself included) were all pumping at the same time, and it really cut down on the awkward knocking (followed by the awkward half shout of, “Occupied!” into a high traffic hallway).

  22. Ask a Manager* Post author

    FYI to anyone who didn’t see it yesterday: In the comments on yesterday’s post about working from home with pets, demands were made for a post with photos of pets taking over people’s work space. If you want to send in a photo for said upcoming post, send it to me at alison@askamanager.org. (The photo should be not just of your pet, but should show the workspace with the pet in it. Feel free to include any explanatory caption you’d like included.) Deadline for sending in is Monday.

    1. Earthwalker*

      If only I could submit a sound. Working at home worked so well except for the rare occasions that my husband would make a quick trip to the hardware store. Then and only then the cat would come into the downstairs nook that served as my office and shout, “OH, NOOooooo! He’s GONE and we’re all aloOOOOOoone! I think we’re going to STARVE and DIEeeee all alooOOOOone here! OOOOHHHH!” He would usually do this from a stair step just beyond my reach while I was speaking on a conference call. After awhile my husband would return and the cat would go back to being quiet upstairs and act like it never happened.

    2. Airkewl Pwaroe*

      What about pets in a non-work-from-home space? What if, in years past, you brought your dog into a biology lab for Take Your Dog To Work Day, and have him photographed next to test tubes? Asking for a friend.

  23. Lynn*

    At what point do you classify a workplace as being ‘toxic’?
    The term seems to crop up quite often (which is probably to be expected, given the nature of this website), but I don’t think it’s been defined. What is the distinction between a workplace that’s simply unpleasant (boring/underpaid/poor benefits etc.?) to being actually /toxic/?

    1. dr_silverware*

      My impression is, it’s just the effect on you. To extend the metaphor, is it poisoning your mood during the workday and beyond the workday? Is it affecting how you live your life, your mental health? Someone with a boring job may not find it toxic, they may like to have time to switch off and just do data entry; someone else with that same job may be desperately seeking stimulation, asking their boss for more work and not getting it, coming home tired and miserable and energy-less, dreading going to a gray day at work. So that person is in a toxic job, where the first person who’s ok with the job would look at their colleague like, “what’s the problem? It’s a relaxing day and a stressless job!”

      1. Specialk9*

        I don’t think boring plays into toxic at all! Being undermined, having ugly power trips and routine unkindness, volatility, and no way to win – those are toxic.

    2. NW Mossy*

      I’d define “toxic” as an environment where professional behavior is neither expected nor encouraged, leading people to try to resolve problems in ways that are destructive long-term. The specific nature of the toxicity varies a lot, but at bottom, it’s a place where generally accepted professional norms aren’t part of the culture.

    3. Enough*

      Toxic is not about the basics of work we all experiences at one time or another (what you listed). It’s about the behavior of the people. How they talk and behave and treat others.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yeah, I think of it as if co-workers were creating deadly radiation with their actions or words. Like the workplace is actually poisoning you with bullying, negativity, or corruption.

    4. NoMoreMrFixit*

      When the petty politics and games actively get in the way of doing the job then your workplace is toxic. Coworkers going for lunch without you is rude but not really toxic. Hoarding information you need to do your job gets into toxic territory. Actively sabotaging or erasing your work is definitely there. Likewise for management doing the same. On the personal side, when your health is impacted it’s time to run away. Getting sick all the time is a warning sign.

      I’ve worked in places with people who were merely rude and I generally ignored them. Toxic places hurt you and leave long term effects. Unfortunately I’ve learned this from experience.

      1. JustShutUpAlready*

        Me too, NoMoreMrFixit. Toxic workplaces can definitely impact your health. I had so much stress and pain stored up inside me at one gruesome job that the day after I announced my resignation, I became so ill I had to be hospitalized. I still get belly flops when I recall that employment experience. I hope you are doing much better.

    5. Millennial Lawyer*

      I think it’s a holistic interpretation – it’s more than just specific *incidents* but that literally you cannot bear the environment as a whole

    6. Frustrated Optimist*

      For me, “toxic” means that you dread going to work, but not simply because of a high workload, or even demanding, unattainable requirements.

      “Toxic” is feeling wholly unsupported by management. “Toxic” is being humiliated in either subtle or overt ways. “Toxic” is knowing that the organization does not value you, and will not be helping you grow as an employee.

    7. AMPG*

      I tend to think of a “toxic” workplace as one where the management is such that the employees can’t effectively do the work they were hired to do. This could be due to any number of reasons – contradicting policies, petty interpersonal conflicts, extreme micromanagement, etc. – but the effect is that the company doesn’t operate at full capacity as a result.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Toxic workplaces can cause physical and emotional symptoms.

      With boredom my biggest problem is staying awake, staying focused. With toxic workplaces, I never worry about staying awake, I have too many other things to keep track of and watch out for.

      Think of the difference between these two activities:
      1) Dusting and vacuuming your house.
      2) Your house is totally engulfed in flames and you are trying to put the fire out with a garden hose.

    9. Newlywed*

      To me, toxic is when 1) I’ve identified the issues and tried my best to adapt and change what I can + 2) when I’ve reached the point that what I cannot change is so unbearable that it’s time to leave.

      Be advised that if it’s a leadership issue (upper leadership and management is poor) you’re unlikely to be successful at trying to change anything.

    10. Louise*

      For me a big sign is how systemic the bad behavior is—are people who treat others poorly being protected, is cutthroat culture encouraged from the top, does management turn a blind eye to things like favoritism. I think it’s less about individual unpleasant experiences and more about a culture that allows/encourages/fosters emotionally or mentally damaging behavior, if that makes sense?

    11. Earthwalker*

      Good question! I’ve always wondered how to tell the difference between being a good normal employee in a toxic workplace and being a drama queen in a good normal workplace. Wouldn’t the employee’s own internal narrative be the same in both cases? How can you be sure you know when it’s time to toughen up and deal and when it’s time to update your resume?

    12. Triple Anon*

      When it affects my health outside of work.

      When the level of dysfunction is borderline illegal or clearly illegal (harassment, discrimination, not paying people fairly, dangerous conditions, etc). Or just so extreme that most people would consider it unethical. Bonus points for this being bad enough that work isn’t really being done, or that it’s damaging your career.

    13. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I have had several jobs in the past that I used to call toxic. Upon reflection, I now think that only one was truly toxic and the others were more dysfunctional. While all were unpleasant and stressful, the one I still think of as toxic contained a degree of “meanness” that was absent in the others. The management targeted employees just because they could. The stress made us all feel sick and although I have been gone for several years, I am now suffering from medical issues that my doctor thinks are related.

    14. SeekingBetter*

      I consider my workplace toxic. My boss (also my manager) frequently doesn’t respond to my emails, cancels 1-on-1 meetings constantly, and even didn’t let me and another coworker know she will be out of the office all of next week. We only found out from her assistant when the assistant told us yesterday. Because of her unresponsiveness, it’s impacting my job. On top of all of that, my boss sent an email to my coworkers and I telling us that we’ll have to let her know about PTO or modifying our schedules two weeks in advance, but only if she feels like approving it for us. *Sigh*

    15. MissDissplaced*

      I think “toxic” is when the level of a bad job rises to being actively hostile: such as personal attacks, bullying, yelling, harassment (sexual or other), retaliation, and other bad behaviors that are ongoing and consistent.
      Consistency is a key factor for classifying a workplace as toxic, and usually this is experienced by multiple employees. However, it could be possible that only one employee may experience the toxicity being directed at them.

  24. Bobbi*

    Choose your own adventure novel!!

    I’ve talked about this here a few times, but I accepted a FT position after freelancing for a long time and it was the wrong decision. Not an awful office but just SOOOO not the right fit, career or culture or work style wise, for me.

    I am moving back to freelancing by June but I’m prepared to leave earlier. My department is INCREDIBLY slammed and my higher up (not my manager) is moving to another position so things are only getting worse. I think they would do what it takes to keep me on for as long as possible, but of course you never know. I’m managing part of a large event in early May and don’t think it would be kind to leave before then, and don’t think they would want me to.

    My office is very contractor friendly and a lot of former employees move on to contracting roles. I would totally be willing to do this PT.

    I also adore my manager and don’t want to make him sad.

    Would it be best to:

    A) tell him soonish, saying I can stick around as long as he wants (until June latest) and help train a new employee or anything they need and then, if they want, move to a contracting role. This would make me feel best because I would have a clear end date and would feel like I’m being helpful and not leaving everyone in the fire toilet.

    B) wait until the event is complete, giving him a month or so of warning.

    C) give my abrupt 2 weeks when it is time.

    1. Sherm*

      I agree with “B”. Unless you are in an unusual field where it is typical to give extended notice, it could come back to bite you in various ways (including their letting you go on the spot, well before you were ready to return to freelancing). Also, do you have a glimpse of how the former employees/current contractors handled their own transition?

  25. Morning Glory*

    Sorry in advance for the long post, but I could really use some outside perspectives on this.

    Three years ago, I accepted a job on Teapot Innovation, a new team led by Robert, a VIP at Prestigious Organization. The job had an admin sounding name, but it promised to have a lot of opportunities for higher level work and professional growth, plus great benefits. I was 24, this was in my field, it seemed like a great opportunity. I turned down a promotion at OldJob to move to Prestigious Organization.

    Two years ago, Robert decided on a refocus for Teapot Innovation, which led to the team being laid off or quitting. Robert liked my performance, and kept me on, but my job ended up much more admin. I learned most people at this org with my title are secretaries with no hope of upward growth. Robert planned to rebuild Teapot Innovation, at which point I would be able to go back to the work I wanted to do.

    I’ve been miserable as an admin, and the way admins are treated here has impacted my self-esteem. I am job searching, but not a lot of luck with anything non-admin because of this. My sole non-admin work has been a newsletter I pitched to create during my first year that goes to about 100 people. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but people like it, and it has my name attached to it.

    Robert finally hired Cersei as a new person on Teapot Innovation with a title much higher than mine and suggested to me that I work with her on online teapots. Cersei did not see how I could contribute, and declined my help; she has never shown any interest in me beyond admin work.

    About one month ago, Robert told me he wants me to refocus my newsletter, and positioned it as an opportunity for me to expand my project and do more non-admin work. He told me to think of a few people I’d like to be involved. I suggested Cersei because it would have looked weird to Robert to omit her, but also because I wanted her to see me work in a non-admin function.
    It has been a nightmare.

    She thinks she is the lead on this project and I am supporting her, despite knowing I created the newsletter and have handled it for over two years. She insulted its quality, said she never reads it, and when analytics showed exceptionally high engagement, implied that there was a flaw in the tracking. She presented it at the department meeting without telling me, and barely mentioned my involvement. She’s done work I had suggested I take on, also without telling me. She also keeps positioning my contributions as ‘help.’ When I do X and Y, she thanks me for ‘helping them do X and Y.’ She even changed the name for the sender of the newsletter from mine to Robert without telling me. I rehearsed all last weekend to address it with her in a meeting this week, but couldn’t go through with it. I was worried she’d think I was delusional to think my role on this project was anything other than admin support.

    Robert is miles above me, and not my supervisor; this project is a tiny speck on his radar. He is always travelling, and would not be impressed if I went to him about Cersei not playing nicely.
    I waited for so long for Teapot Innovation to be rebuilt, and now that this is happening, instead of going back to the work I liked, I lost the only project I had left. don’t know what to do, beyond doubling down on my job search. Anyone have any advice on how to move forward from this?

    1. Millennial Lawyer*

      I think you actually do have grounds to address this. In hindsight, I don’t think you had to involve Cersei, but since you did, the focus should be solving this. First, I would talk directly with Cersei. I would just say that you talked about it with Robert and he wanted the newsletter to be an opportunity for you to have more non-admin work, and that you would like to have your name on it and be a leader on working on it. I would not complain about things she has done already, but more of a conversation of how you’d like to increase your involvement going forward and you have Robert’s backing on that.

      If she’s unreasonable about this, and says she does not want you to be involved for any reason, you absolutely have grounds to escalate it because it was a directive FROM Robert. It wouldn’t be a waste of his time to hear that someone he hired is not following his directive.

      I wouldn’t go to Robert without discussing it with Cersei first because that is probably what he’d tell you to do.

    2. CatCat*

      I’d be really focused here on what the biggest deal is here: “She thinks she is the lead on this project…”

      Either you’re wrong about you being the lead, or she is wrong about her being the lead. That is what needs to be clarified here. If you both think that you are the lead and are not able to agree on this topic, that’s something for the next person higher up to deal with (is it Robert?) and could probably be dealt with expeditiously since presumably Robert knows who he meant to be lead on the project.

      This is not about going to him about “Cersei not playing nicely” because if she is lead, she’s not really out of line here. This is about making sure everyone is on the same page about roles.

      It’s definitely worth bringing up with Cersei first. “Cersei, my understanding is that Robert has made me the lead on this project, but is your understanding different?” I mean, does she even know what Robert told you?

      1. Millennial Lawyer*

        I completely agree with this. I stand by my advice above but the first step would be to clarify what you were directed to do.

        1. CatCat*

          I agree with you! Maybe more like, “Cersei, Robert directed me to lead this project. Is your understanding different?”

      2. Morning Glory*

        So, to clarify, Robert wanted us to be collaborators working together (there are a couple of other people who are less involved). That, to me, means, that I may not get the final say on a decision, but that we discuss it together, and she does not make decisions unilaterally without bothering to tell me. It also means that she accepts my contributions as they are instead of minimizing them with ‘helper’ language. That’s a less diplomatic gist of the script I’d rehearsed last weekend, but did not actually have the courage to say.

        I am certain that my role is not supposed to be to provide admin support to her on this project. And, she’s been pretty insulting and unkind so I think she would be out of line even if that is what she thinks.
        CatCat, based on your last to last line, I am curious if maybe I am too close to the situation – do you think her behavior would be ok if she were actually the project lead, knowing that this had been my project for two years? The part I wrote about insulting the original, implying the analytics showing high engagement were wrong, etc.

        1. CatCat*

          If she were in charge, I do think you are taking things pretty personally. She doesn’t need to check in with you about presentations, what she is working on, how she credits you, or make unilateral decisions about whose name is the sender. It’s snotty to insult the quality to your face, but I don’t know what she actually said here. If she is lead and says the quality is low and the data flawed on how it is tracked, that’s not out of line for saying those things. Whether you would want to put up with how she is vs. moving on is the only question, really. Having worked for snotty people who hog credit, I feel you on the frustration, but it’s not really for you to fix as a subordinate.

          But you’re NOT a subordinate here. You’re co-leads on this project. That is something you can address. “Cersei, Robert directed us to collaborate on this project, but you’ve been making unilateral decisions on presentations, assignments, and changes to the newsletter. This has not been a collaboration, so going forward, here is what I need so we can operate as we’ve been directed: [things you need to get this back on track as a collaboration]. Does this make sense?” Hear her out and work on getting on the same page on the process. Email her documentation of what you agree to. If you can’t agree, or she thinks she is lead, then you may have to escalate.

          For the “helper” language, you can call that out in the moment in a breezy way, “Oh, I didn’t just help do X and Y, I actually did X and Y.” Whether it is worth policing this language… eh, that’s for you to decide.

          If she insults the newsletter again, that you can also call out in the moment, calmly. “What do you mean by that?/Why do you say that?/I don’t agree with your opinion.”

          You’ve got to screw your courage to the sticking place to address this though as she clearly is acting like she is in charge (and maybe thinks she is!) What’s holding you back here?

          1. Morning Glory*

            Yeah, I think you’re right on both counts. None of these things would be a big deal on a project I was providing support on, and I have to force myself to raise the issue with her. It’s just quite intimidating to do that with someone so senior to me, but it’s pretty necessary.
            Thanks CatCat and Millennial Lawyer both for your insights, I appreciate them.

        2. Specialist*

          You’ve been in this situation far too long. You should have that conversation with her, and you should have a conversation with Robert about getting out of the admin position. I thought you went there to work in teapot design and you’ve been kept in an admin position for years?!? Do you see yourself getting to do the work you want in this organization? It sounds to me that Cereci will keep you as an admin forever. I think the biggest conversation would be with Robert on why you haven’t been given the job you moved for.

          1. Morning Glory*

            Yeah, that’s really close to what happened. The job was more supposed to be a junior teapot designer, which did include some admin work, but plenty of project work as well – and that’s what it was for the first year.

            The VP who hired me and told me all this during the interviews was laid off with everyone else, and it’s challenging to raise a complaint about my job when I’ve seen so many people leave involuntarily. I have discussed all of these concerns with my new direct supervisor (neither Robert nor Cersei) but she does not have a lot of power to advocate for me.

            I am scared to bring this up with Robert, and partly it’s because this job has been a tremendous blow to my confidence. Writing this all out, I feel like focusing on my job search is probably my best opportunity.

  26. Potter*

    One of my co-workers gave her notice recently. I feel a weird kind of sadness about. I say ‘weird’ because I’m not close to her at all beyond small talk in the hallway or the (very) occasional group lunches, but she’s very efficient at her job and is a pleasant person in general. We don’t have anything in common and I’m not keen on connecting outside of work, yet I think I’d miss having her around.

    (It’s sort of similar to the way I felt about some of my classmates back at school…nice to hang around in the classroom dynamic, nothing in common outside of school, so unlikely to be BFFs after graduation – nor interested in getting touch again – but still get nostalgic about old times occasionally).

    1. Delphine*

      I always get sad when someone leaves. Part of it is because I respect and admire them and will legitimately miss them, and part of it is because their existence is part of my day-to-day environment. They leave and that means change and adjustments and things not being like they used to, and that’s a bit sad too.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      This is a nice time to send someone a note! I’m sure she’d really appreciate just a quick email saying you’ll miss her.

    3. Midwest Red Sox Fan*

      I call this feeling “HappySad.” Happy for them that they are moving on to something new, sad for me because I’ll miss them a bit.

  27. High Heels*

    Hi Everyone,

    Long-time reader, first time commenter here. I would appreciate your take on my work situation. I started a new job January 8 at an Insurance Firm as a Personal Assistant to one of the Executive Directors. So far it has been a frustrating and stressful experience for me.

    My on boarding was done in 3 hours by the former PA (who left last October) It was rushed and very unsatisfactory. I have continued to reach out to him for guidance and clarity on major work processes. The on-boarding was arranged at my own instance with no input or assistance from Human Resources.

    I was forced to take work home my very first week on the job. I didn’t get much sleep/rest that whole week, because an end of year sales report had to be ready for the boss’ presentation at a companywide meeting for Saturday. I have a legal background, I enjoy reading, writing and communicating and said so during my interview for this job.

    My work is 100% excel based, with little to no writing involved except when I write emails. A major responsibility of this role is collating and calculating the sales record of all company staff (over 150 staff) then presenting figures to all staff…………it gets extremely frustrating at this point.

    Long story short, I am a lawyer basically doing accounting work and feeling like a sales clerk calculating other people’s sales records, which I do not like. Some co-workers I need to often work with to carry out my responsibilities, are already giving attitude and proving to be difficult to work with. Being the new girl I am trying to keep my head down, be pleasant, do my work and not react to the negativity but I swear it’s both unsettling and upsetting.

    How long does it take to really recognize that a job is not a good fit? I feel like this one isn’t a good fit given my strong dislike for the nature of the work and other factors. Two close friends I’ve vented to, say I should give it more time, I’m still new on the job, things could get better.

    One said, to hold on until I find something new……. If I’m not feeling the current job, which is sound logic because there are bills to pay, but for each day I get up for work I don’t feel good. I can’t even articulate that feeling but it’s akin to your soul dying a bit within you.

    I am at a point in my life where I want to eliminate negativity as much as possible and positively make the most of my life in all areas/aspects. Can anyone relate?

    Has anyone ever been here? What did you do? How do I handle myself and this whole situation without self-sabotaging?

    When I am ready to leave (which will be sooner rather than later) I would like to be honest and say the job is not a good fit for me. Is there a script I can use to candidly articulate things without coming across as flaky and flighty?

    My sister generally thinks this of me – that when the going gets tough I bail (she’s not aware of my current work situation) but I worry that if I do quit this job in less than 6 months are opinion may be right after all.

    1. Joielle*

      I think for me it would depend on what you were told the role would be when you were applying and interviewing. Did you know it would be largely a data-driven role, or did the position description make it sound like there would be more substantive writing and analysis? If the role is significantly different than what was represented in the position description or job ad, I’d probably bring it up with your supervisor. You could ask something like “During my interview, we had talked about me doing tasks like X and Y, which I was particularly interested in. Could we talk about me taking on more of those tasks as part of my regular work?”

      I obviously don’t know anything about your specific situation aside from what you’ve written, but I wonder if there could be a bit of mismatch between your expectations and the actual role. You mentioned that the title is “Personal Assistant,” but that you’re also a lawyer (?). I wouldn’t ordinarily expect to use legal skills in a PA role. It sounds like you feel like the tasks are beneath you somewhat, but as a PA I think you do have to sometimes take on administrative tasks that aren’t the most exciting. If the role was misrepresented to you, I think you should talk it out with your supervisor, but if not, maybe being a PA is just not a career that you’ll enjoy.

      1. teclatrans*

        But I wouldn’t expect a PA position to be entirely based around preparing spreadsheets and presenting data, either, so I wouldn’t rule out the field entirely.

        You say you told them you enjoy writing and communicating in that first interview, do you mean that they said this was part of the role and you emphasized your enjoyment of and skill with those aspects? Or were they vague about what the job requires, and did you think that stating your preferences would either help shape the job or maybe give them the understanding that they shouldn’t offer you the position unless it fit your strengths?

        I think that if the job is entirely based on a type if work you dislike, and if you feel like your communications skills are being neglected and you are frustrated by it, then you should embrace that knowledge and get out of dodge. If you haven’t been at this job long, you could quit and leave it off your resume. If it has taught you something — the types of responsibilities you hate or which need to be only minor aspects of a job; the types of responsibilities that really are necessary for you to feel competent and derive some satisfaction; the need to be crystal clear on the job duties — then this won’t be a waste.

        If you wanted to try sticking it out and the job is not what you thought it would be, I would suggest going to your manager and raising the concern, maybe it’s a seasonal thing, maybe they need to train you so that you can do some other tasks but have been slammed or just putting it off, etc.