open thread – January 5-6, 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.

{ 1,588 comments… read them below }


    I finally gave my notice today!!! It’s hard not to just run out the door laughing manically but I’m finally free!! I’ve only been here 7 months but it’s been absolute misery. I’ve drafted my Glassdoor review and am trying to shake off all the negativity before my next job. I, unknowingly at the time, lost out on some amazing opportunities to spend 40 hours a week bored out of my mind at the most unorganized, unprofessional hell hole and have probably set my career back a few years in the process.

    1. MilkMoon (UK)*


      I quit a job like that after five months last year – I actually saw the manager in the street at lunchtime today and he looked just as sour as ever! Like, bye Felicia!

    2. k.k*

      Congrats! And you know what they say about hindsight. We can all probably look back and see missed opportunities. So get that nonsense out of your head and focus 100% on the amazing feeling of knowing that you’re out of there and never have to think about that place again!

    3. KK*

      Congrats! Feels good, huh? I left an absolutely miserable job 2 years ago after 9 months of constant mental breakdowns and crying ugly tears after work. Happy for you!

    4. PB*

      Congratulations! My last day at my previous job was one of the best days in my life. I was walking down the street, carrying the remnants of a cake from my going-away party, beaming. I hope the last days at your job fly!

    5. Leah*

      congrats!!! I was also pretty pumped about leaving my last job. lots of people kept telling me the company would most likely beg me to come back once I left, since I was one of their best employees, but I just laughed them off. like I’d ever agree to come back! if they wanted to give me a promotion they should’ve done it way before I started dreading stepping into that office every single day. I was leaving the company and not looking back.

      good luck with future jobs! you’ll find something MUCH better real soon!

    6. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

      OMG – are you me? I’ve been in my current role about a year and I don’t have any offers yet, but your quote:

      “I, unknowingly at the time, lost out on some amazing opportunities to spend 40 hours a week bored out of my mind at the most unorganized, unprofessional hell hole and have probably set my career back a few years in the process.”

      This is my exact situation! I completely sold myself short by taking my current role (granted it was a huge step up in some ways, but in terms of career progress and responsibilitiy, major downgrade – I was aware it would be a half step down in terms of responsibility, but came with double the pay and I thought career growth potential, but it turned out to be about two steps backwards and has no career growth potential).

      Anyway, the fire has been lit under my ass. I’m actively searching now. And you give me hope – so thank you and congrats!!!

      If you don’t mind me asking – how did you explain why you were leaving? I think it’s a legit reason to be looking, but I’m struggling to articulate my reasons concisely and without saying “I made a mistake and the company mislead me on what the role would entail”. Which feels a little too close to badmouthing. Any advice on that front would be greatly appreciated!

      1. Justme*

        “I’m very concerned about the financial future of the company and I need more stability” always works well for me. In my case, it’s always been true when I’ve been job hunting. But regardless, if you have no faith in the management, or it’s horribly managed, the future of the company is , indeed, in question for you. When you use this reason, everyone nods sympathetically and the interview typically moves forward with no requests for clarification.

      2. pope suburban*

        Jutme’s suggestion is great. I went with something to the effect of “There is no room for growth with my current company, and I would like to keep developing professionally.” I worked for a really small business, so this was an easy thing to believe, and it wasn’t inherently negative- even though the place was an absolute hellhole in every respect. Having nowhere to go in a company isn’t an indictment, it’s just a sign of a mismatch in your goals and the company’s.

      3. Sonja*

        I’ve been going with “although I knew when I accepted the role that I would be travelling 50% of the time, the role has ended up being more than 80% travel.” Its sort of funny.. Everyone who works for this company seems to leave because of the travel, and yet travel is actually only one component of why I’ll be leaving. It’s just easier to say without badmouthing anyone then “they expect complete flexibility in all things from their employees, and are incredibly rigid in all matters on their end, plus the pay sucks and I’m being harassed and the work is dangerous and the hours are awful and they lied to me in the interview and… I suspect others have made the same wording choice.

        I’ll be gone soon. It’s going to be hard to bite my tongue when I quit, but I am looking forward to the challenge

    7. SebbyGrrl*

      Is anyone here working with VerbaLink?

      Would welcome any thoughts, insights, guidance for application documents.

      Also, I am a disabled veteran (for the purposes of this question/situation I cannot use the Chapter 31/VocRehab program but if you are aware of other VA programs I would welcome that info.)

      Desperately looking for working from home jobs/remote employment in admin., accounting or documentation, business writing.

      While not specifically a technical writer or editor, my skills lay in organizational documentation-procedure manuals/documents, reports, research, proposals, etc.

      I’ve been phishing, researching, looking but I have a feeling I don’t know where to look.

      I am using USA Jobs but, gah! Hard to find my niche there.

      Thank you!

      1. SebbyGrrl*

        …aaaannnnnd that posted to the wrong place – my word!

        Pages aren’t refreshing and I am addled with cold brain and other brain bugs today.

        Hope everyone has a lovely Friday and nicer weekend.

      2. Mananana*

        SebbyGrrl, USAJobs is definitely a challenge. I highly recommend Googling “Kathryn Troutman” and The Resume Place for the best advice on how to navigate that monstrosity. She’s the queen of federal resumes, and even if you don’t buy her book(s), she has several free resources on her website.

    8. Specialk9*

      I’m so pleased for you. Yay!

      But don’t mourn your lost opportunities too hard – sometimes life goes different than plan (in my life pretty much every time), and life comes back around.

    9. Fortitude Jones*

      Congrats! It wasn’t too long ago that I did the same thing (a little over a month), and it definitely feels good. Good luck on your new adventure.

    10. Former Employee*


      Once you are out of there and post your review, try not to look back at what might have been or how bad it was or how much time you wasted; look forward to your new job and advances that lie ahead.

    11. Solaire*

      Congratulations! I just did the same thing and feel very liberated.

      Do you have another job lined up?

    12. Tacos are Tasty*

      OMG did you work for my old workplace cause it sure sounds like it. It’s run by a Shane & Belinda, or as I prefer to call them, Silver Spoon & Coattails.

  2. Detective Amy Santiago*

    All right – so I mentioned in a few earlier open threads that I had a series of interviews in November/December and they decided to wait until after the holidays to make a decision.

    Should I email the recruiter today and follow up?

    1. Anony*

      I think it is too soon. If they said that they are not making decisions until after the holidays I would wait until at least half way though the month to follow up.

      1. Jascha*

        Agreed – it may be that they are starting the decision-making process after the holidays, which would mean they might need a week or two to actually get to the point of contacting potential new starters.

          1. Wendy Darling*

            Half of my office is still on vacation, the other half is digging itself out from under snowdrifts of emails, and I am trying to figure out why my computer is still terrible.

            In summary nothing useful appears to be happening this week.

      2. BadPlanning*

        Yeah, I have at least a couple coworkers who took this first week of Jan off as well. So they might not be back in the swing of this until mid next week.

      3. Snark*

        Yeah, I feel like most people are like “wait, what was I doing three weeks ago? Did I email that guy? What do” this week. I’d wait until at least next week.

      4. Madame X*

        I’m in the same position as you. I interviewed for a position in the second week of December and I was told in the interview that it would be early January before they send out any offers
        It was nice to hear from the recruiter earlier this week to let me know that most of the decision-makers were still out on vacation this week but that she would get back to me as soon as they got back in the office in a few days. So I’ve been patiently waiting but yeah it’s kind of hard to still be in the dark about what’s going on.

    2. Amber O.*

      I would say to give it at least another week. FWIW, at my company people are still using up carried-over vacation days through this week and those that are in the office are still getting caught up from time off during Christmas/New Years. The interviews we held in the beginning of December are still being discussed since so many people have been in and out of the office. Depending on the holiday calendar of the businesses you interviewed with, it could be a similar situation.

    3. Reba*

      I feel it’s still a little soon for that, though not inexcusably so.

      For example, my spouse’s office was closed between Xmas-New Year’s, and lots of folks also were off the day after NYD. So they really feel they’ve been “back” for 2 days! They definitely haven’t met about any of their candidates! A candidate did reach out on Wednesday and my spouse thought it was a bit strange.

      Good luck!

    4. WellRed*

      Yes, even if people are getting back to the office, there’s lot of digging out to do. If you are in a snowy area, that may also be literal digging out.

    5. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Yeah, no. This is not after the holidays. People are still catching up on stuff from the last two weeks. If you are anywhere with snow, people are delayed and behind. Wait a week.

    6. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Thank you all for the reality check! I am impatient, but I do not want to torpedo my chances by being “that guy”.

    7. Jadelyn*

      We’ve had some recruiting going through the holidays and from that perspective let me tell you, honestly, pretend that the last three weeks didn’t happen, because functionally, they didn’t. So assume your recruiter is NOW, where you figured they would be three weeks ago, and give them the extra few weeks to get back to pre-holiday levels of productivity and decision-making.

      I have an interview team of 6 people for a set of 3 interlinked roles, and we still haven’t managed to finish first round interviews even though the first couple candidates got interviewed in mid-December, because there were a ton of overlapping and staggered vacations that meant none of us were in the office at the same time through the rest of December and even this week. I’ve had to let candidates know it’s going to be a bit longer than our original timeline, because the holidays mucked everything up.

    8. michelenyc*

      I don’t know what industry you are in but I disagree. I think you should follow-up. I had 3 interviews in December, had 2 this week, and already have 3 scheduled for next week (one of them is a 2nd interview). The recruiters (total of 4) I have been working with all told me to reach back out the first week of January. I did all but 1 has gotten back to me. I am in fashion so things might work differently in your industry. Given how competitive it is right now for me; I could easily miss out on a great opportunity by waiting.

  3. Terri*

    For people working in offices that use hot-desking, and are either hourly (or are required to fill in timesheets), do you include the time you spend setting up your workspace etc. (and time spent putting everything away at the end of the day) as part of the time worked?

    We switched to the hot desking system recently, and while it probably takes me around 5 minutes at the start and end of each day, it does add up over time, and I was wondering about the usual protocol.

    1. Anony*

      You should ask your manager about that. I would say it should count, but it is a grey area. I remember the court case where Amazon workers wanted to be paid for the amount of time they had to wait to be screened before leaving work to make sure they weren’t stealing and the supreme court said that they did not have to be paid for that time, so what seems intuitive to me and what is legally required are definitely not the same thing.

      1. Observer*

        The Amazon case (which I think stinks, but that’s another issue) was different because the screening is not actually part of the job, so even though it was required by Amazon the court ruled that it’s like commuting to work. But setting up your actual workstation is like turning on your computer , and needs to be paid for. In fact, even putting on protective gear (unlike, say taking off your coat) is considered work activity that needs to be paid for.

        1. MoinMoin*

          Agreed. I worked for a call center that would log time once you logged in, but the computers took forever to boot up. I think they were taken to court over a time dispute and ended up changing the process, though I don’t know about the specifics of the case.

        2. NeverNicky*

          Interestingly, in a similar case in the UK with SportsDirect the screening time was considered work time – the employees (mostly long term temps or on zero hours contracts) couldn’t leave the building without the screen. It’s just one of the abusive work stunts Mike Ghastley (sorry Ashley) is fond of in the name of pile it high sell it cheap retailing.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Also agreed. I think setting up your actual workstation under a hot-desking arrangement would fall within paid time.

    2. TellMeNow*

      The moment I am at my desk, I am working. If hot desking means I have to set up my station -those are work responsibilities for which I am getting paid. And if work requires me to clear off my work station, then I’m doing that on company time.

    3. Chriama*

      It’s only 5 minutes, wrap it up into whatever takes you were doing immediately before or after and charge the time to that task. Setting up your workstation is absolutely work.

    4. Wendy Darling*

      I count the time I spend waiting for my godforsaken piece of crap work-issued laptop to decide it will in fact boot as working, because I am engaged in an activity I would 100% not be doing if I was not working. All the time I spend (daily) fighting with it because it’s crap also goes right onto my timesheet.

      I explicitly label those hours as laptop-fighting hours because my goal is to get a laptop that I do NOT have to spend 3+ hours a week fighting with, but in your case I’d just lump it in with whatever beginning/end of day stuff you do anyway (e.g. I spend the first 30 minutes of every day on inbox cleaning and putting stuff on my to-do list).

    5. snowbound*

      I usually count it – I tend to charge a bit of admin time every day so I include it in that but if it was mostly client work I would bill to the client.

    6. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      I can tell you that a previous employer was required by the DOL to issue back pay to employees because they were not being paid for the time it took for their computer system to turn on, so I’d assume you have to be paid for the time it takes you to set up your work space.

    7. only acting normal*

      My work has moved to super-hot-desking, in that you are supposed to move to whatever area suits a given task, potentially multiple times a day. I’d count it as work time every time I move; same as, for example, walking to a meeting room on the far side of the building and wrestling with the IT there at the start of a meeting.

      1. zora*

        ok 1. WHYYYY do they have to keep inventing more “things”??? Super-Hot-Desking? come on.

        and 2. This would drive me insane, I would feel so scattered if I had to move around all the time. Another thing to be grateful for today!

        1. only acting normal*

          It’s to fit more people into less space – i.e. not enough space for everyone to have their own desk –> let’s do hot-desking instead! Even less space? Try and encourage people to work anywhere but at a desk.
          Result, larks get in even earlier to bag a desk (think 6am, thanks to flexi-time), owls and anyone with a school run etc gets to perch somewhere with their laptop, or if they need specialist IT (big/dual screen for instance) they can turf someone off a suitably equipped desk.
          If people start desk-hogging (logging in then disappearing for most of the day) we’re supposed to self-police and turf them off… Now add in a British aversion to confrontation, compounded by STEM introversion tendencies*, and a high proportion on the autistic spectrum; basically imagine half the staff having anxiety attacks at the mere prospect of asking someone to move. It’s a perfect stress-storm. :(
          Some people do like it (or at least don’t dislike it). I am not one of those people.

          * How do you identify an extrovert engineer? They talk to other people’s shoes. ;)

      2. Optimistic Prime*

        This sounds incredibly disruptive. I don’t understand why anyone thinks this (or hot-desking, either) would contribute to the success of employees.

      3. copy run start*

        Well if they don’t even expect you to sit at a desk, what’s to stop you from working under the stairwell or from your car or the coffee shop down the road??

        It reminds me of trying to work on my laptop in college and constantly having to relocate due to weather or food restrictions or when I needed to charge. Misery!

        1. only acting normal*

          Nothing to stop you. The PTB sell it as flexibility (as opposed to disruption). The key bonus is being allowed to work from home whenever you want, the limitation being the kind of work you can do at home vs the kind that needs to be done in office (i.e. most of it).

    8. TheSkrink*

      I worked in a call center where we hot-desked, and the time you spent signing up for cubes, getting set up at the cube etc was counted as work time, as was closing out of the cube at the end of your shift.

    9. Justme*

      The company has decided to do business this way, therefore they’ve made setting up and tearing down your workspace a requirement of your job. I would absolutely count it towards your hours.

    10. Nacho*

      I’d ask your boss. My last two jobs didn’t have hot desking, but still allowed us to clock in up to 5 minutes early to get set up, so it’s certainly not an unreasonable request.

    11. Thlayli*

      I have always split tasks like this across all cost codes. So for example if I spend 1 hour a day doing admin and 3.5 hours each on two different projects, I would book 4 hours to each project.

      I would also include in my “admin” code time spent going to the loo, getting a cup of coffee, etc and at the end of the day just split it all out. I had a spreadsheet set up so I could just put in the current time and it would tell me how long it was since I last update it, I would then enter that figure in the row for the relevant cost code and it automatically goes back to zero. Then at the end of the day I had a really accurate amount of time spent on each code. But I’m a bit OCD like that – most people would just guess like “I spent half a day on this, 2 hours on that etc”.

    12. Tad03102*

      Do a Google search for the portal to Portal act. It deals with quite a few grey areas when it comes to determining when an employee should be paid.

      Since you are spending this time to benefit the employer (setting up your workspace) it should probably be paid.

      My employer actually requires us to punch in and out on a mobile device or by calling a telephone number because the time it takes for a computer to boot up is considered compensible time.

  4. Sunflower*

    I’m struggling with maintaining my mental sanity and confidence while I try to get out of my job.

    I wouldn’t call my work environment toxic but my team is the red headed step child of my dept. Resources and promotions are given out to other teams while we struggle and are told no on everything we ask for even if they help the business. It often feels like I need to defend my job being here even though I work more hours than anyone else. I know this is true because other people confirm that my team has always had a target on our back- before I even worked here. People tell me they trust me more than my boss but won’t complain about my boss to anyone. I’m still only told that I’m doing a ‘great job’ while nothing else materializes.

    My career has always been very important to me and I’ve always been a hard worker. I like my job day to day but it’s so hard to come in and know all the hard work I do is getting me nowhere here. It makes me want to proclaim anytime someone asks me to do something ‘Why would I put anything more than minimal effort into this’. This also makes me feel crappy about myself and start wondering if it’s my job that sucks or if it’s just me. I’m applying to jobs left and right(which is always a struggle since there is so much rejection with that that I know isn’t personal) but I’m not just trying to change jobs- I’m also relocating to another city so the stress(and fear!) of that is also on my shoulders.

    Work has always been a bright point for me so this is especially a struggle- esp since I don’t have a lot going on in my personal life. I already go to a therapist but my confidence is in the toilet.

    Has anyone dealt with something similar?

    1. Pickles*

      Yes. And I’ve also found that the best way to get through is to keep doing what you do as best you can, because that’s the fastest way to get out. YMMV, but it’s helped me look like a superstar and get recruited away from disaster environments. Good luck! Remember to keep breathing.

    2. Lil Fidget*

      I have definitely felt like my department was disfavored. And we probably were – we were programmatic (EG, spending money) while other more well liked departments were connected to fundraising. There was nothing to be done about it except cultivate a sense of teamwork within our department – we were very close knit – and mention it in the exit interview.

    3. Smithy*

      I was absolutely in your position literally just four months ago. To confirm all the bad things you likely already know – in that situation hard work and effort will not help and may even serve to hurt you at that place. Therefore make being at work as functional as possible. Do what needs to be done and do not get tricked into any periods of slight improvement. I found that when I was in that red headed team, it became so easy to be mentally tricked that things could improve.

      On top of that really take care of yourself outside of work. Get good sleep, eat well, do things that make you feel good – because work will not. Also, if there are others on your team also super aware of this – start over complimenting your teammates. They’re likely also suffering this – and if you can start internally cheerleading, that definitely feels better than nothing. Also it can replace internal team griping that may ultimately make you feel worse.

      I went through this for about a year and a half before I got a new job and left and also relocated (in addition to things just taking time, see that bit about “do not get tricked”). So I really do empathize – but all the self care you can do internally and externally is super critical.

      1. Specialk9*

        Great ideas with self care, complimenting coworkers, and putting limits to work. I found that in an impossible work situation we all complained nonstop, and it was corrosive. It a was a big lesson.

    4. Mrs. D*

      I know how you feel. I worked in the for-profit education industry for 5 years (and left because of a number of personal and professional reasons, but that’s another discussion). The company that owned the school I worked at had quarterly awards that each site could nominate employees for. The catch? Only the departments that helped with compliance and profit qualified. I was not in any of those departments, so while I was sometimes recognized one-on-one by my boss, a lot of what I did went unnoticed by the school and parent company as a whole. It was demoralizing. It made me feel like my work didn’t matter, even though the department I was in was crucial to the overall operations of the school.

      So what you’re feeling is, at least in my experience, normal. It’s not just you. I’m not sure what your therapist has recommended, but I found it helpful to list out a few things that I kick ass at, or note down a project or two that I know I was crucial in. “I completely organized the entire library collection! I helped that student get the contact he needed for X! I tutored that student that was struggling and finally understood Y concept!” The bonus? All of the things I listed could be tweaked to add on to my resume (and sometimes that helped me add things I had forgotten).

      What might also help is finding something outside of work that you like to do so that your work doesn’t becoming your one defining characteristic. It’s great to have a career as your priority and work hard, but it doesn’t have to be everything about you. Find a hobby: read, go birdwatching, build model rockets, start quilting, museum-hop, dance, anything that brings you joy. As you develop your likes outside of work, that may help you to feel more personal accomplishment and confidence, and can help develop more internal and external balance.

    5. Fenchurch*

      Here’s what I have done in the past. I keep track of the things I do well and am proud of. I have a folder on my desktop I labeled “TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!” It’s full of positive feedback emails, little notes of things I have accomplished, etc. It helps me when I’m feeling down to look at them and to feel proud of what I have done.

      It’s easy to forget how awesome you are when what you do isn’t fully appreciated. Give yourself a pat on the back and keep track of these things (they are great interview fodder as well).

      You don’t need others to set your self worth, and I know that’s easy to say from the outside, but know you are great regardless of recognition.

    6. Leah*

      Yes, I went through a similar situation at my old job. I worked as a first level support, and took calls + answered e-mails from either my own coworkers or clients, trying to fix and troubleshoot fairly simple hardware and software problems, and the part that I most liked about it was being able to talk and help and connect with people, and of course, seeing my beautiful, juicy numbers at the end of the month – I had an 80-82% first level resolution rate, as opposed to the average of 70-75% my coworkers had.

      I did such a good job my bosses loved me and pretty much every big IT manager and director in the company knew who I was, but because of that, they didn’t want me out of the support team. I was too good to be promoted, basically. While there I had two occasions where higher-ups privately hinted that I should start learning another language for a potential promotion that people were thinking of offering me, and after spending money out of my own pocket on a language course for an entire year and never hearing anything about it again, I gave up on the course. I was never formally approached about any sort of promotion. I never even got a raise for the three whole years I was there.

      After a while it was hard to be content about work knowing that the skills I was learning would only get me another job as first level support if I ever left the company, and it was awful to think that the company didn’t even care enough to make me more qualified at anything else. I got to a point where I felt like I’d learned as much as I could in that position, and because I was so good at it they didn’t want me to ever EVER grow out of it.

      I was at my worse when I was at that company. Depressed, unmotivated, unhappy. But in the end, I did the same thing you’re doing: I started job-searching. It felt awful to not get any responses for the first few weeks, but I kept insisting, knowing I’m more than good enough and that any other company would be lucky to have me, and how sucky it would be for my current company when I left. And even with the financial crisis my country’s going through, I eventually ended up landing a great job, which is where I am now. I got much better when I managed to convince myself that my days in that company, no matter what happened, were soon to be over. I didn’t know yet how long I was still going to work there, but I was actively moving on from it while still there, and that helped.

      So, my advice to you is: keep looking. Don’t give up. And leave work at work. When at home, disconnect yourself from it. If you need to vent, try not to dwell on it too much; vent a little, and then change gears, talk about your moving plans, fangirl about that movie you’re excited about, sit in the bathtub and sing along to your favorite album. Press the “fuck it” button. They don’t give a shit about you, then you absolutely should not give a shit about them outside work hours. Keep working as well as you can, don’t let your usual quality drop, but don’t push yourself too hard either – on busy days I’d go all day without getting off my desk, not even to go to the bathroom, just so we didn’t miss any calls, BAD LEAH.

      I hope you find another job soon, and that it ends up being easier staying in your current job while you don’t. Hang in there, Sunflower!

    7. Kate*

      Been there. It helped me to cultivate my out-of-work interests, to add a little balance to my life. Volunteering has been especially helpful. I now volunteer with a refugee non-profit in a capacity that uses my professional skills, and occasionally present to/speak with students through my college’s alumni association. I’m helping others, and I get to remember that my value as a professional isn’t limited to just this one job at this one point in time.

    8. Justme*

      Yes. I could have written this post about a month ago. Then they fired my boss. Now things have calmed down, everyone is getting along, and our new manager is finding ways to get us more integrated with other groups. I don’t really have much advice for you, other than this: if the problem is your boss and it looks like his/her days are numbered, you may want to hang in there and see what happens.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Your last paragraph is similar to what happened to me. I realized one day that work filled up my life, I had not too much going on other than work. I considered it a good life lesson to see this. We have to have different aspects to our lives because at any point one of the aspects could tank. As kids stuff is foisted on us, “Here’s your family, here’s your school/church/dance lessons/etc. But as adults that mostly vanishes unless we decide to create something new for ourselves.
      Right now, between your job and your job search you have a LOT on your plate. You might like to consider small activities that help you recharge. This could be anything, mediation, gym membership, joining a club, or whatever else hits you as being a good idea. Keep it small so that you actually do it. And pick strategically, pick something that actually has some meaning to you and to your life.

    10. Linyarri*

      I think you are on the right path. Do the best work you can and watch for opportunities (including job searches). I know it is frustrating to do a job when you know there will be no reward or support. For me working hard and keeping busy helped to keep my mind off the frustrations. Don’t give up, the good reputation you are building can pay off in the end.

      I’ve been stuck in dead end positions many times at my last job, but only twice here. The first time, the position I held was eliminated. I kept my head down and looked for something to do. I love Excel, so I would ask folks from my old department if they had Excel files I could look at and see if I can improve. Everyone here uses Excel heavily so there was always something I could do.

      About a year later folks figured out that my title belongs to a position that no longer exists. The VP of Ops moved me into a newly created team (with a raise) and loaned me out to Sales to fix their Excel reports. When the new team was eliminated, the Sales VP shifted me into the sales team (another raise).

      Once I automated all the sales reports and had nothing left to do, I touched bases with an old friend and started working with the excel files from her office. When a position opened up with that office I managed to pick that up with another raise. I wasn’t really a good fit for the job description but I knew their reports and had direct access to the databases. My current boss is much more aware of my needs and constantly gives me odd things to do from leadership & across the division. After a few years my workload was way above my pay and I received a huge promotion (25% inc).

    11. Samiratou*

      Is there any chance of it changing anytime soon?

      I had something kind of similar–I was put in charge of a foundational, yet largely invisible process with no resources and kept it together with duct tape & bailing wire until last year when TPTB realized that we’ve been sitting on a goldmine of data for approximately forever but treating it like shit and all of a sudden there was will to fix things. It was rather dispiriting for, like, 6 years but I had other things to keep me occupied and I knew my boss understood the importance of it, it just took time to get the people in charge of money to realize that just because it can’t be monetized directly (yet) that it’s not important and can’t help us dramatically improve retention & the bottom line. I’m now moving forward with my plans for world domination so it was worth it to stick it out.

      However, I knew that eventually people would come around so even if it was frustrating and dull at times I figured it would end, eventually.

      If your situation is not likely to ever change, though, that’s different. Can you focus more on the individual level? I could always at least take comfort in the fact that I could help individuals solve their problems and answer their questions (most of the time, anyway) while waiting for the big picture stuff to come around.

  5. Dibbly-Fresh*

    (If this isn’t okay for the work thread please let me know and I’ll post tomorrow instead).

    Going for a walk down memory lane at my parents’ place over the holiday season. I had a flip through some old Baby-sitters club (I can never remember where the dash and apostrophe are meant to go…) books.

    For people born in the late 80s/early 90s, you probably remember the tedious exposition that came with every book describing every member and their club roles. Re-reading that now I can’t help but think that these girls would ace any job interview they’d have – assuming they resist the urge to describe their friends’ appearance in minute details. They’d have a ton of experience in dealing with clients, handling admin (collecting dues etc.) and project management (how many outings/plays/carnivals/fund-raising events etc. have they organised at the tender age of 13?), and they’d probably have a scenario for every behavioural interview question out there.

    I wonder if they did a ‘reunion’ type books (say set 20 years after they finally graduate 8th grade) whether they’d still have them working in the area they picked out at 13 (Claudia an artist, Stacey something to do with maths, etc.). I think these books really skewed my perception of when people figure out their career path (13? I’m 33 now and only just starting to be sure). Ah, youth.

    1. selina kyle*

      I’m honestly surprised there hasn’t been a reboot/revival of the books with all the new “darker” “grittier” franchises – Riverdale, I think we’re getting a Scooby Doo movie in the next couple years. I used to love the books and I think a follow-up of like “here’s where they are now” could be fun. I’m sure some writers have posed the question on a website somewhere (it feels like a very Toast-type article).
      My favorite was always Stacey, but I do wonder if that’d change on a reread.

      1. Dovahkiin*

        I would 100% love a dark and gritty BSC reboot.
        Dawn 100% got really into burning man.
        Claudia & Stacey definitely share a loft space in NYC.
        After a long stint on the USA women’s softball team, Kristy is returning back to Stoneybrook to coach an elite club softball team…she runs into Mary Ann, recently widowed. Sparks fly….

        1. selina kyle*

          See, I always thought it would be Kristi and the “snotty” rich girl, Shannon, who lived near her step-dad, but I would be on board with what you suggested 100%. Stacey and Claudia definitely live in NYC, Mary Ann has a cute kid and teaches, Jessi dances somewhere and Mallory writes webcomics about the whole crew’s adventures as teens.

      2. Temperance*

        I think it would change! I always seriously hated Kristy. I wonder if I still would. There were some jock girls in my class that I hated, and I think I pushed that on Kristy. It also always think about how she got to live in a fancy house and could go to a fancy school because of her stepdad and she chose to wear a sweatsuit everywhere.

        I always thought Dawn was the coolest, but I was a total Mary Ann without her Logan.

      3. Amey*

        Did no one else read California Diaries, the genuine BSC ‘edgy’ spin off with Dawn in California? No? Just me then…

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I did! I loved Dawn, but I didn’t really love the spin off. But maybe it was an age thing? (i.e., maybe it was at the point that I grew out of the books?)

          1. Kelly L.*

            It was for me. I knew the spinoff happened, but by the time it happened, I’d outgrown the books.

            Just checked a list of them, and the last one I’m totally sure I read was Dawn’s Big Date. I remember her cutting weird holes in her clothes and stuff.

    2. Blue Anne*

      I remember that section of the books! I would always skip it.

      But yeah, I agree. It was great professional experience. I also liked how there was information and support for girls to set up real life Baby Sitters Clubs.

      1. Elizabeth H.*

        I just re-read this for I think the fourth time. It is so great!!! I wish she would do other series!

        (I also LOVE Riverdale. I started watching it on a whim while on a seven-hour flight coming back from Christmas last week, and I’m hooked.)

        1. Mephyle*

          My Riverdale-watching twin! I had never heard of Riverdale, but I started it on a trans-Pacific flight and watched the first 8 episodes, then finally fell asleep, which made for a weird transition from Asia to the Americas.

          1. Elizabeth H.*

            I only got 3 and 3/4 episodes in (I was flying from Ireland to Boston and didn’t start until half way through the flight). SO excited to watch the rest of it.

        2. Middle School Teacher*

          I love Riverdale!! The new episodes were on Thursday night for me, so it was a great setup for my weekend.

    3. Malibu Stacey*

      But how smart were they if they were in 8th grade for about 5 years (while I still read them) ;)

    4. Susie*

      I couldn’t get enough of the series when I was younger. Now that I’m an adult though, I sometimes wonder how insane/desperate these parents must be to trust a 13-year-old girl (and sometimes a 11-year-old) with their babies/toddlers. Was it really just a different time? In any case, I suspect the premise wouldn’t resonate with most kids born in this century.

      I don’t know if Kristy would necessarily be an athlete. I imagine she’d come out of the closet at this point though.

      1. selina kyle*

        FWIW I babysat (not for actual babies, but younger kids) at about 13 – I think it might be a small town thing? But also I love the general consensus that Kristy was/is gay. (I read somewhere that Ann M. Martin had a girlfriend!)

      2. brrrr*

        I don’t know – the Red Cross as far as I can tell still teaches their babysitting course to 11 year olds. My parents neighborhood is filled with kids I babysat for when I was 11-17 who started babysitting for the new babies that moved in when they were in the 11 to 13 range.
        Infants might be harder than a 5-6 year old but it’s fairly common at least in suburbs/quasi rural towns where there may not be a fleet of high school or college kids.

        1. Jadelyn*

          I’ve had the same thought – I babysat when I was 12 and 13 (quickly stopped because I learned I didn’t like being around small children, even for money), and I look back now and think, HOW in the world did people trust 12-year-old me with their children? WHY?

      3. Temperance*

        I wonder if it’s regional. I was watching little kids around age 13, so I don’t find that shocking.

      4. MI Dawn*

        I was babysitting my infant sister (5 years younger) and cousins (7, 8, 11 years younger) when I was 7 and up. I had a “summer job” babysitting an infant when I was 12 – the mom worked and the house was just up the street. Wasn’t at all uncommon when I was growing up in the midwest in the 1960s. Generally, these were all daytime, summer jobs for a few hours. Night-time sitting didn’t usually start until 14 or so, and you were usually home (driven by the father! Gasp! Alone in the car with a strange male!!) before midnight.

      5. Kelly L.*

        Different time. I babysat at 13 too. I had so much less freedom than they did, though. I think the other reason is that the books were aimed at slightly younger girls and the babysitters were supposed to be kind of glamorous and grown-up, maybe, but not so old as to be unrelatable? It’s like how the Sweet Valley High kids always seemed older than sixteen. 13-year-olds were supposed to read SVH and think “wow, high school is gonna be so rad!”

      6. Elizabeth H.*

        Yes, back in the day people definitely babysat at these young ages. My mom did when she was 11 and 12. I’m pretty sure she encouraged me to babysit when I was 12 or 13 or so (which was in 1999). And I knew people who babysat in eighth grade and definitely ages 14 and up.
        I also wonder if part of the reason this has changed is that it’s less common to have families with multiple kids ranging in age – when families were larger, kids would have more experience taking care of their younger siblings, needing to take responsibility for watching them etc.

      7. Mints*

        Hm, I’m 26 and babysat starting at 13. Ten years ago doesn’t seem like a different time, haha. I’m in a city in California so I’m not sure the “regional” guess makes sense either

      8. Jynna*

        Yeah, I started babysitting my two cousins who were probably 8 and 4 when I was 12. Eight hours a day, Monday through Friday, from when school let out in summer until the week of the county fair right before school started back up again. I made $100 a week.

      9. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        Our local hospital teaches a babysitting first aid course to 11-17 year olds. I was babysitting by age 13 for actual babies. I wouldn’t have let a 13 year old babysit my kids though. Although, I would totally recommend my 14 year old for kids not needing diapers changed.

      10. Amy S*

        So many people on here commenting that they babysat at that age and in hindsight wonder how/why parents were ok with that….but presumably everyone here that babysat as a 13 year old did ok and the babies being sat turned out fine, right? I don’t think it’s that crazy that a 13 year old would be in charge of watching kids. Not that you’re saying this at all, but it makes me think about all the people who say that kids today are not as responsible as we were when we were young…but then don’t necessarily want to give young people the opportunity to actually BE responsible. Again, NOT saying that’s what you said…just making an observation.

        1. Susie*

          Don’t get me wrong, at 13 I was in charge of my 5-year-old and 3-year-old cousins. Did they turn out fine? They’re still alive and not in any legal troubles, if that’s what one means by “fine.” Would I leave my own kids with my 13-year-old self for longer than two hours at a time? Not unless I was in some kind of emergency and had no other choice, and even then I would leave a lot of tips and call often.

          I think a lot of this goes back to the unfair pressure people put on teenage girls to be mature, responsible, and generally good role models for younger girls (i.e., How many people really would trust a 13-year-old boy with their babies). It’s fine to give kids the opportunity to be responsibility, but not if one sex is expected to be more responsible than the other even though they’re of the exact same age.

          1. Elizabeth H.*

            Hmm – it definitely wasn’t the norm but I knew several male classmates who babysat as teenagers. I acknowledge though that this tended to be high school age boys (14-16) or so.

        2. Specialk9*

          I babysat from 12 onward, but it was either “mother’s helpering” (parent home but busy – and yes this is making your point about sexism) or in a team with another 12/13 year old. We used to babysit, then clean the house (memorably, I got a call from the parent later: thanks for babysitting and cleaning up, but… Did you clean the inside of the oven?! Yes, yes we did, overachievers that we were.). When I was older (14?) I babysat solo.

          As a parent, 16 is the earliest I’m comfortable with, but really I prefer paying adult daycare teachers, who I know and they’re certified and experienced.

      11. Not So NewReader*

        I am not sure exactly what the differences were, probably a combination of things. Children were given substantial responsibility at young ages. I can remember my father said he had his first job at age 7. He helped deliver bread on Saturdays (1927). He also indicated that the “older kids” meaning his age, were expected to help watch and raise the younger kids.

        I saw a push back with my father and some people his age, when they decided that their kids were not going to have to go to work as young nor work as hard as they did. My father and some peers talked about “letting kids have an actual childhood”.

        My husband grew up in the 50s and he got a job delivering papers when he was old enough to be responsible on a bicycle. The difference between my husband’s experience and my father’s experience was that my husband was allowed to keep the money he earned, where as my father bought food for the family with his.

        No big scientific study here, just random observations of how different generations approach work and in turn develop work ethics in their kids. I kind of think about that fact that we have luxuries other generations did not have. One luxury they did not have was that they absolutely HAD (or believed they had to) to have their kids pitch in and start working ASAP.

        1. Thlayli*

          That’s still the reality in most parts of the world. Kids work. We are exceptionally lucky to live in developed countries.

          1. Specialk9*

            I’m in a developed country, and I started working outside the house at 12 – babysitting, housesitting, dogsitting. My brothers had lawn services. We all painted house numbers on curbs, and shoveled. I worked lots of hours too, and never really stopped working. I worked through university, and later worked nights and weekends at my apartment front desk on top of an office job.

            That said, I’ve lived in developing countries, and it’s a different need.

      12. Thlayli*

        I think it was a different time. I babysat when I was 14 lots but not sure about when I was 13. From 14 though I was definitely full on in charge babysitting for money (of up to 4 kids). Made a lot of cash that way.

      13. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I think it was a different time. I definitely “baby sat” my siblings from about the age of 9 on, and I babysat strangers beginning at the age of 14/15. (My parents wouldn’t let me babysit at a younger age, but 13 was pretty common.)

        I found most folks were ok with teenagers babysitting kids who were 4+ years old. 15 seemed to be the “lowest” age for babysitting babies/toddlers who were not related to you.

      14. OldMom*

        I baby sat at that age (in the 70s) and also occasionally used young babysitters at home when I was a mom in the 90s. In my experience, responsible young teens are more willing and easier to find to babysit. Once they hit 16 they are out driving, dating etc. and can get other jobs. My brother also babysat as a teen but only for boys. (I recall he got fired from a job for looking at the dad’s playboys…my attitude was how could you leave that stuff around (it was on their bathroom magazine rack) and expect a teenage boy not to check it out? I looked at them too but maybe I was more careful not to rumple the pages.)
        Now? You can find sitters on the internet and their rates are higher than I could have afforded. Long way from my 50 cents an hour back in ‘70. (Anyone remember what the BSC rates were?)

        1. Lany*

          Yeah, I babysat my cousins between 12 and 16, but when I turned 16, I was expected to get a “real job”.

    5. Kelly L.*

      Mary Anne was apparently the author’s self-insert, so the attention to detail in the series isn’t surprising in retrospect. ;)

    6. Mrs Kate*

      There is a podcast called the Babysitters’ Club-Club and it is amazing. Two 30-something literary guys reading the series and providing commentary. I think I’m on the 50th or so podcast.

      1. Feline Mind*

        I came here to say this! I loved the books and I can’t get enough of this podcast. I would also love to see some kind of reunion/reboot of this series as a Netflix series of them as adults or something. :) I’m a total Mary Anne.

      2. Amy S*

        I was just coming here to share this as well! Such a great podcast. It’s been a real trip down memory lane. Hilarious.

    7. KK*

      As a girl who was born in ’93, I read “Babysitter’s Little Sister”. It was the story of Karen, the 7-year-old younger stepsister of Kristy. Boy, did I love those books. :)

  6. Not a Real Giraffe*

    We are looking to hire a replacement for my boss, who left about two months ago. We’re a small team of four when fully staffed, but right now are only a team of two, and the work we do requires us to work very closely together, sometimes for long hours or several days at a time. Thus, it’s important that we like each other and get along in addition to being good at our individual jobs.

    Our interim boss and the Big Boss are heading the search for the replacement. None of the candidates’ resumes have been shared with the team, nor have we been involved in any of the interviews. Yesterday, I overheard them making reference calls for one of the candidates, which signals to me that they’ve identified their top candidate and are close to making an offer. I am flabbergasted that they’ve gotten this far in the interview process without including the team members that this person would be managing. (On top of that, none of the questions asked during the reference call seemed to focus at all on their ability or experience in managing a team, which makes up a good chunk of this person’s role.)

    Is this normal?

    I have a meeting today with my interim boss where I’m planning to ask for an update on the search and inquire about the team’s involvement in the interview process, but want to calibrate my expectations before doing so.

    1. straws*

      I think it’s common, although not a great approach. I don’t think it would be unreasonable to ask for an update and if you’ll get the meet the person/be involved. It’s possible that they’re just running through a process, and you’ll alert them to the idea that the team should be involved!

    2. Sunflower*

      This is what happened in the search for my boss. When I asked for updates, I was given very vague responses like ‘we really like this person’ or ‘we’re close to making an offer’. My team was not involved at all and my boss never met us either before- which I found odd. I also think my new boss has never managed a team before which I think was a huge flaw in our last manager.

      TBH I found it really weird but I didn’t have any control over the process. I would ask but don’t be surprised if the answer is ‘you’re not involved’

    3. Adele*

      This seems normal to me. When on an interview panel there are lots of legal and data protection sensitivities and in the UK at least SOP is not to discuss candidates until an apointment is made. Also normal that people senior to the interviewee positiin would make up.the panel. I have never come across a team being consulted about their potential manager.

    4. Sunny*

      Your boss is there to fulfill the desires/needs of the company, not to be liked by you. I think it makes perfect sense that subordinates don’t choose their own boss. If you like candidate B best, but the company wants to go with candidate A, there’s a reasonable worry that the relationship between current staff and A would get off to a poor start, because you’d be comparing A to B and finding A lacking. With no comparison, it’s more likely you’ll find A acceptable.

      1. AshK434*

        Eh, something about this comment rubs me the wrong way. I think the OP had a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why it makes sense for her team to be involved in the hiring process. In fact, lots of other teams involve teams in the hiring process because they know that having harmonious working relationships is important.

        1. Sunflower*

          Yea…I don’t think OP is expecting to be the final sayer in all things but I think how you vibe with the team is a huge part of taking a job. If someone found a candidate to be that unacceptable then they probably wouldn’t vibe with them regardless of if they met other candidates.

          1. BRR*

            I got the same feeling that the OP wasn’t saying they should be the decision makers. I think it’s common but not smart to not involve direct reports. Not only for the benefit of your current employees but if I was interviewing I would like to meet who I was supervising.

      2. Jadelyn*

        I don’t think anyone was suggesting that the team be the ones choosing, just that they be involved, even just being able to meet the candidates.

        I mean, we hired a temp assistant for my team last year, and even though she was “just” temp and “just” entry-level, we made a point of making sure she spent at least a couple minutes chatting with all six of us, on the logic that since her role supports the whole team, we need to involve the whole team, even though the final decision was my grandboss’s.

      3. Not a Real Giraffe*

        A couple things here: I recognize that the boss is there to fulfill a business purpose, but in order to do so, we have to work as a team to achieve a common goal. The people who are conducting the interviews are not experts in our area of the business, whereas the team knows the ins and outs of the work and are actually quite qualified to assess how this person could fulfill the needs/desires of the company.

        Secondly, I’m not asking to be a decision-maker, as others have already noted, just to be involved. I have to work very closely with this person every single day, I think it would make sense to ensure we are people that want to work with each other.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Your reasoning made sense to me, and I agree – it probably would have been better for you and your coworker to have sat in on the interviews to determine fit. I’d make that point to your grandboss, but then let it drop since they seem to be too far along in the process to do anything about it now. However, if their top choice(s) pass or they do end up hiring someone, but that person doesn’t end up working out for whatever reason, maybe grandboss will remember what you said and involve you and your teammate going forward.

        2. NacSacJack*

          It’s the expectation that the person get along with management, not necessarily existing staff, which is why when upper management changes, they often bring their own people in and move existing staff out.

    5. Trout 'Waver*

      Perfectly normal. A meet-and-greet with the short list is common, but I wouldn’t expect any more than that.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        Yeah, I’m a bit concerned that a meet ‘n’ greet (which is really all I’m asking for here) hasn’t been scheduled or brought up. I would think that the candidate would want to meet the team s/he may be supervising, if nothing else!

    6. AshK434*

      I think it’s pretty normal although ill advised. From my own personal experience, the jobs I’ve enjoyed most were the ones where I was able to meet my potential team during the interview process.

    7. Lil Fidget*

      So, so normal – and so, so frustrating!! I was also left off of a search committee for a person that I dotted-line supervise, which was super irritating. But it can be a power thing for higher ups, they want to place “their” person. Being the chooser in some workplaces is a privilege that is closely guarded.

    8. Seal*

      Normal or not, it’s incredibly stupid to not include the team at all in the hiring process. The team undoubtedly knows the most about the job itself and what they need from a manager. Not getting any feedback at all on candidates they’ll be working closely with is a recipe for disaster and very, very bad management on the part of the Big Boss. A good candidate would want to meet the people they’ll be supervising; that would be a huge red flag for me if I was interviewing for a job under those circumstances.

      I’d push back hard on this and if the interim boss doesn’t give you an update or explanation, starting looking for a new job ASAP. None of this bodes well for you or your team.

    9. always in email jail*

      In my experience, completely normal. I think our (government) hiring practices don’t even allow you to put a direct report on an interview panel. We occasionally bring them in for a quick meet and greet at the end of the interview, but they’re not looped into the process very heavily.

    10. Susan K*

      I have never been asked for input of any kind in selection of my manager (and I have seen over a dozen managers get hired), so I don’t think that’s unusual. As for the interview questions, it’s probably not good that none of them are about the skills that will be the most important for the role. It probably means the people conducting the interviews are not very good at it and may not hire the right person for the job. That, unfortunately, is also something I’ve seen. I applied for a management position in my department last year, and they asked a bunch of generic behavioral questions that really had little to do with the job. When it was my turn to ask questions, I asked what the top priorities would be for the position, and the hiring manager said things that closely aligned with my strengths, and yet he hadn’t asked a single question during the interview about what he said his top priorities were.

    11. Marcy*

      Totally normal, everywhere I’ve worked and everywhere I know of. Expecting to get involved would be really weird and out of touch in my experience.

      I’d be very careful about bringing it up. Actually, I wouldn’t bring it up at all, but since you seem set on doing so, just tread carefully.

    12. Little Twelvetoes*

      When my most recent supervisor was hired, my teammate and I got to meet the final two candidates – we gave them a mini-tour of the place and got to ask and answer questions informally. It was great! Both candidates would have been acceptable, but the higher ups took our opinion into account and hired our top choice. It has been a fantastic fit.

      We might have been allowed to more involved in the process, but one of us was actually in the running early on. That did not stop us from keeping it professional, though, because we are…professionals…

    13. Not a Real Giraffe*

      All these responses are so interesting to me! I’ve been involved in lots of hiring before — for peers, for junior team members, and for supervisors — and I’ve always seen the team involved in some way, even if it was just a quick meet ‘n’ greet. Whenever I’ve been interviewed, I’ve always met with the boss-to-be and the existing team members to make sure everyone affected in the hiring decision had been included and given an opportunity to weigh in (not to make a decision, of course, but to give feedback). Perhaps my history of experiences is actually rather unique!

    14. Sled dog mama*

      While I would not expect to be involved in choosing the new boss. If I was interviewing for the position I would expect to meet the team I’d be managing at the very least. This part strikes me as odd, when I’ve been in a position where a new person is being hired they always want to meet who they will be managing/working with. I personally think that the peer interview is hugely important for the candidate to decide how they would fit in the work place, this is were I got some of my most valuable information and often the information that made me say no.

    15. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

      Agree with the common sentiments expressed so far. It’s not terribly uncommon to not be involved in the interviewing of a boss role, but I do think it’s much better idea to have reportees involved in some way (even if just a quick meet and greet before the final offer) – not final say, but something that ability to express any legitimate concerns.

      However- I’m thinking of this from the candidate’s point of view… If you were considering taking on a role with an established team of reportees wouldn’t you want to meet the reportees before accepting the role? Admittedly, I’m not a manger. I’m just imagining that would be an important aspect of the job consideration for me – meeting the people I’d be directly managing before making a final decision.

    16. Anecdata*

      In my experience, it’s been 50/50 – but I definitely prefer when a team is involved! I think it eases the transition (I’ve seen teams derailed temporarily by being super nervous about a 100% unknown quantity coming in); gives the new manager more information about whether this is really the right /fit/ for them; and when I think back on new managers that didn’t last long (either left, didn’t pass the probationary period or were fired in less than a year)…. yep, most of them were hired without the potential team’s input.

    17. Coalea*

      In my experience, I’ve only ever had input in hiring people who worked for me, not people who I worked for. I think it would be good if the hiring committee solicited input from the team about what traits/skills they think are desirable in a manager, but I wouldn’t expect that they would share resumes or give the team a vote in the final decision.

    18. SCORM Hacker*

      I’m not sure it’s normal, but the same thing happened at OldJob. My teammate and Iweren’t included in even a cursory introduction before our manager started, but had to write our manager’s job description and onboarding plan because the hiring manager had no experience in our work or industry (our team did e-learning development, his team oversaw HRIS and benefits) . It left a pretty bad taste in our mouths to not be at least introduced to the candidates or get to ask a few questions. Even if it’s just for show, I think it goes pretty far in building good will for the team to feel like they are part of the hiring process. In our case, the manager they hired was awful, we felt totally no valued by our department, and we both quit within 6 months.

  7. shep*

    My manager, who is great, was recently promoted in our organization, and while I’m still reporting to her for the time being, it’s likely I’ll eventually be restructured into a new department with a new manager.

    But I really enjoy working with her, and I know her assistant position will likely be opening soon. I’m tempted to apply, but a few things give me pause:

    (1) It would be a lateral move for me, perhaps even a slight pay decrease if my organization weren’t willing to give me a true lateral transfer. (Unlikely, but something I need to consider.)

    (2) On the other hand, it would be a semi-significant RAISE for one of my coworkers, who I know is also very interested in the position. I also know she’d be great in the role, and it’s arguably more suited to her strengths than mine. (It’s much more people-oriented than my current role, and has elements of internal event planning, which I’ve done, but in limited capacity and for which have no great passion.)

    (3) And on yet ANOTHER hand (three hands, anyone??), as much as I enjoy certain aspects of my current position, I don’t feel like it’s the greatest fit for me either. I may very well be happier in the assistant position, despite my preconceptions of some of the job duties.

    (4) I’m also a little nervous to apply and then not get the position, just because I hate being the center of any sort of gossipy attention. Not getting the position wouldn’t really bother me, especially if my equally qualified coworker got it, but the idea of people discussing it as A Thing would definitely make me feel self-conscious and wondering if people take that rejection as a commentary on my current work. I’d keep my candidacy as secret as possible, but I’m sure knowledge that I applied would circulate somehow.

    Which is all to say that I know I shouldn’t limit my career opportunities just because someone else wants the same position, and/or because I’m afraid I might not get it, but all things considered, I’m not sure how to proceed. And if I do apply, should I let my coworker know I’m applying?

    Thoughts would be much appreciated!

    1. Snark*

      I think you should throw your hat in the ring, and I don’t think your coworker needs to know you’re doing it. Ultimately, you’re in it for you, and I don’t think you need to justify or explain either applying for it or why you didn’t get it, should that possibility transpire.

      1. shep*

        This is a great idea, and I would very much like to! The position is currently occupied, though, so I’d feel like I were talking about how I’m going to spend the inheritance money before I’d actually inherited anything. Which is a horrible analogy, but all my inadequately caffeinated brain could come up with this morning.

        However, it’s common–but not official–knowledge that the current assistant is likely to retire in a few months. I have no desire for her to leave because she’s wonderful, but I *do* want to have my bases covered when she does, and have a plan for whether or not I want to apply.

        1. NW Mossy*

          I was in a very similar situation about 4 years ago, where I wanted a role occupied by someone who was likely to retire in about a year’s time. Here’s how I handled it with my grandboss (the manager for the role I was interested in):

          “I know that Minerva has talked about possibly retiring, and I wanted to let you know that if she does, I’d like to be considered for the role. Do you have some suggestions for areas I can work on to be a strong candidate?”

          Minerva ended up announcing her retirement just a few weeks later on a much shorter timeframe that I expected – fully a year before the date the rumor mill was giving out. Because I spoke up when I did, I got fast-tracked and I don’t think they even interviewed anyone else. I got the job, and it was awesome. You can do this – go for it!

    2. WellRed*

      But it doesn’t sound like you even want the job. You list negatives, not positives and I wouldn’t recommend agreeing to a pay cut, regardless. Change is hard, but this might be the time to take a broader look around and ahead. Also, while it’s kind to consider your coworker, you need to focus on what you need.

      1. CatCat*

        I agree. It doesn’t sound like shep wants the particular position so much as to continue working for awesome manager.

        Shep, would you be happy with the position if awesome manager left?

        1. shep*

          A lot of what I do is predicated by my current manager, which is kind of why I’m freaking out about the thought of being restructured under someone else. It could be great; it could also be a nightmare. Also, the assistant position is much more structured, which is something my current role has much less of. I’d honestly like a little more structure. Might be totally worth doing some of the things I don’t really like.

        2. Elizabeth H.*

          I think it can be harder than you expect to go from less structure to more structure. I consider myself someone who does better with more structure but after being in a profession that was virtually 100% self-directed, I find the “structured” elements much harder to deal with. I’d hesitate to go from a position where you have more freedom of choice in how you plan your tasks/workday into someone more people and service oriented.

          I despise event planning though so I may be projecting my own interests into your job! I will say that event planning is a huge drag and you already know you’re not into it. It sounds like you might want to look at other jobs – it’s not a binary choice between assistant job or current job.

      2. shep*

        Yeah, I’m grappling with whether or not I want the position. I do know there are parts of it I wouldn’t really enjoy, but I also know there’s a lot of work involved I just don’t see. If it’s actually something like 80/20 in favor of things more suited to my tastes (and if my pay stayed the same), I think I’d be missing out by *not* applying, if that makes sense. As I say in my original post, while I like my current job, it’s not a perfect fit.

      3. Anony*

        That is what I was thinking. The impression I got was that you are considering it more because you dislike your current job not that you actually want this new job. You might want to consider a broader job search. Do not let your coworkers interest or fear of not getting the job prevent you from applying, but only apply if you actually want the job. If you just want to work with your old manager, you will likely end up unhappy. I think you should consider a broader job search. Try to figure out what you actually want in a job and apply outside your company. That way you can get a job you would enjoy doing while also avoiding the fear of coworker gossip.

    3. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

      (1) This would be a big factor for me, but even if they did offer it to you at a decrease, you still have room to negotiate.

      (2) Other applicants shouldn’t really factor into your decision to apply. If you were to be offered the position over your coworker even though as you say she has more strengths than you, it may be because they want the role to be changed and molded by your strengths. In other words, let the hiring manager decide who they want, don’t decide for them.

      (3) Be careful of preconceived ideas. As with any role there is always room for reinterpretation and reinvention of a position. In other words, you would have the opportunity to make the role yours.

      (4) And this is the tough one. What’s the saying “Fortune favors the bold”. Oh yeah, it’s scary putting your hat in the ring, and things may not work out for this position. But you know what, even if it doesn’t that doesn’t mean it’s a loss or waste. You will have the opportunity to put your best foot forward and sell your skills to higher ups in your organization. Maybe this job doesn’t happen, but now they know you are interested in growing. This is never a bad thing.

      I once was going after a promotion/job along with two other people that I shared an office with. No hiding the fact that we were all in the running. I did not have as much experience in the work as the other two, but I thought what the hell… let’s see what happens. Turns out that half way through the process the hiring manager had another person resign, so two open positions. He had to change directions because the 2nd person to resign had much different and harder to fill skill set. Guess who had that skill set :) He backfilled the original position with someone on his existing team, and offered me the other position. Truly a weird stroke of luck for me. All of this was going on while the 3 applicants were exchanging notes and keeping each other in the loop to all that was happening. I can honestly say that if there wasn’t the last minute change, I would have been disappointed but not embarrassed or genuinely happy for one of the other 2.

      So, in other words, go for it. My advice when it comes to careers (heh… it’s free right, so take it for what it’s worth!) Don’t limit yourself in your opportunities there are a lot of other people to do that. Your job is to expand your opportunities!

    4. Lady Anonymous*

      My dad always said that you can’t say no until they offer you the job. Go ahead and apply; doesn’t mean you have to take the job.

      1. shep*

        I think this is great advice, and I usually operate under this theory, but since this is an internal position, I’m concerned that I’d burn a bridge if I ended up getting an offer and then turned it down. Of course, I suppose I could mitigate that by opening a dialogue with my manager ahead of time.

    5. NW Mossy*

      I want to address point #4 from a different angle. I manage people, and I spend a lot of my time talking to other people managers. One of the things we talk about is who in our teams has expressed interest in other roles, who’s applying out, and what strengths and skills those employees have. It’s an important part of our work, because we’re always concerned with developing our people and having a strong pipeline for the future.

      I know this can be hard when you’re feeling self-conscious or unsure, but this kind of “gossipy attention” from managers is often what’s behind scenarios like Hello’s where a great role seems to just fall in your lap. Just expressing interest is enough to get your name in the discussion about future opportunities and can lead to you being approached about new roles before they’re formally announced. If your current boss is truly awesome and she thinks well of you, she’ll likely be a great advocate for you with her peers even if you don’t work together directly in the future.

    6. Anono-me*

      Why not just ask Awesome Manager to sit down with you to discuss possible internal career paths? She may suggest the possibly soon to be vacant assistant position or she may suggest some others. (It sounds to me like you work a a medium or larger sized organization and that you might have a lot more options than to stay where you are or to go after the assistant position if it opens up.)
      As far as your coworker who might want the assistant position, I think that there are several things to consider: One, she might want it, or she might really want your spot or she might want something else. Two, there is no guarantee that your coworker would get the job if you didn’t apply. If you decide you want the assistant position, I think that you should apply for it.
      If you decide to apply, I would suggest telling your coworker if you both are friend friends and if you get selected for a later round interview. You should also think about telling your friend if she asks you to be a reference. (And obviously you can’t be a reference for her if you apply.)

      Best of luck with whatever you decide.

    7. Anonymouse for this*

      It sounds like the main attraction of the job is continuing working for current manager? But what happens if she leaves – you’d be left doing assistant duties that you don’t particularly care for with a new boss.

  8. Bend & Snap*

    I posted awhile ago about getting ghosted after 11 interviews. I reached out the recruiter for feedback and she told me huh, someone was supposed to give me feedback, and they must have forgotten to tell me they filled the spots. Then I asked who to contact for feedback and she disappeared. The fun part is I have to work with these people on an event in a few months and I can’t imagine it won’t be awkward.

    I’m also in the running for an internal spot that I was pushed to interview for, and it looks like someone else is going to get that role instead. There were only two candidates. I don’t have the final word yet but it’s not looking good.

    How do people keep going when companies are so horrible to candidates? I am so freaking defeated right now.

    1. Reba*

      UGH. When you see them, try to let the awkwardness rest on them–they are the ones who behaved badly.

      Good luck with your search.

    2. KayEss*

      ELEVEN interviews? For the same position!? Forget awkward, I imagine working with people so unable to make and take responsibility for hiring decisions is going to be a nightmare. Sorry that happened to you–I’d suggest knocking ’em dead with your professionalism when it comes time to work with them.

      1. pat benetardis*

        I wonder, was that interviews with 11 different people on, like, 2 occasions, or 11 rounds of interviews?

        Even in 2 rounds, 11 people seems excessive.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          I barely have the fortitude to do one tech-sector interview day, which is typically 5-6 interviews with different people from, like, 9am to 2pm. I once flew to another city, did one of those, and had to hang out in a cafe until it was time to go to the airport for my 8pm flight, and I was so exhausted in the cafe that I almost started crying.

          I can’t imagine doing that TWICE for one company. It would have to be one hell of a job for me to not be like “actually, nope!”

    3. Shadow*

      Accept that most recruiters and hiring managers stay focused on the candidate they want and sort of lose interest in everyone else. Anyone who gives losing candidates a second thought is the exception and should be a pleasant surprise

    4. Biff*

      I’ll be honest, unless I needed that extra interview for unemployment, I would have walked after interview 5 — 11 is just ridiculous and wastes your time. It’s a strong clue that they don’t know what they are doing when hiring and a flag that they may not care. I’m so sorry it happened to you — it is very easy to feel like “oh, just one more” and then well, you get to freakin’ 11 and no contact.

      When I was out of work last year, I learned that the people who spent a lot of my time, interview-wise, were also wastes of my energy. I understand an interview might run a little over-long, that’s okay, but wanting me to come in 3-4 times to talk to different people, and blowing up my email and stuff like that — those people weren’t people I wanted to work for. I actually had to run away from one offer (it was enormous money) because they refused to believe I didn’t have a certain skillset. I mean, it was utterly ridiculous. Sorta like this: “So, you fly multi-engine aircraft. That’s great, that’s just what we need.” Me: “No ma’am, I’m a glider pilot.” Her: “Well, it’s the same thing.” Me: “No ma’am, there’s a about 1000 hours of training between me and what you need.” Her: “Well, you can definitely grow into it.” Me: “No ma’am, that’s illegal. FAA would have something to say about it.” For days.

      Trust me, if the interview is a hot mess, the company behind it is almost certain to be a complete dumpster fire.

    5. Bend & Snap*

      It’s actually a sister company to my current company which makes it sting more. The interviews were with stakeholders, peers, managers and went all the way up to the C-level. I got all the way through what they told me was the final round and then, nothing.

      So chapped about this and if/when I find out I didn’t get the internal job I’m going to cry and I NEVER cry. How do you keep your confidence out of the toilet?

      1. Little Twelvetoes*

        Go ahead and have a good cry. There’s nothing wrong with it. I do recommend doing it away from the office, of course.

        As to how to pick your confidence up – that’s a tough one. Remind yourself of all of your current awesomeness. Focus on those things you do best and take pleasure in them. Find some tools to help you boost one of your great skills, hone a weaker skill, or learn a new skill (just to prove to yourself that you can!). I had a tough time when I was rejected for a job a while back, but some of these things helped a little bit. I wish I had more ideas that could help.

        Hang in there!

      2. Lady By The Lake*

        Since they did 11 interviews, they were obviously very, very interested. Be warm and gracious and professional with them, as if none of this happened. Chances are that someone may pull you aside to explain, or (more likely) that they have no idea that the ball got dropped. If you got that far, chances are that another opportunity may come up. You will want to show by your warm and professional attitude that you are worth taking another look at.

      3. Wendy Darling*

        Honestly? I was job-searching for a year and the best strategy I found was to explicitly set aside time to mope. Any day I had an interview or got rejected from something I’d interviewed for I explicitly opted out of doing anything else job-searchy and just took the time to have feelings and do things that make me feel good (in my case it generally involves binge-watching Steven Universe and eating more pizza than is advisable). After that I had to shape up and resume adulting normally, but I gave myself one day to be a total slob.

      4. SebbyGrrl*

        A little cheerleading – in truth the only part of this that is truly all about you it whether or not YOU get a new position.

        So many other factors go into this as Alison and this site has shown us a lot of what goes on behind the curtain – and what doesn’t.

        Job hunting, especially when you really want or need the change can be some of life’s worst stuff – as you are experiencing.

        Give yourself time and room to mope, cry, be depressed and also lots of self care and self indulgence, a bit more pizza or sushi or wine or chocolate or what ever feels good.

        Self care is also reinforcing the good and the true. Even if you didn’t get chosen you are still an outstanding candidate because – reasons you know and can remind yourself of.

        Always always remember- when things feel bad our minds can really lie about how bad, or how we can’t change, can’t get what we want.

        What if you knew nothing would change, no matter what you did for a minimum of 2 years? What else might you do with yourself, your mind, your skills development, etc. if you knew no job change was possible?

        This internet friend says you are a sassy writer and a good fellow of this community and you sound like a smart, capable person any manager would want for their team.

        But all of that, all the positives may not produce change right now, so how do you live through the right now until what’s next arrives, with your self love and happiness intact?

    6. Jadelyn*

      Good lord. And here I thought my org was bad about over-interviewing – but I think our max has been 6 or 7, and that for an executive position. ELEVEN interviews? Why???

    7. Bad Candidate*

      Well, I don’t shop there any more. LOL Seriously I interviewed for a corporate position at a large nationwide drug store chain with initials. I had to drive out of state for it and they just disappeared on me. So yeah, I shop at their competitor now. Sure it’s not a big deal to them, but it makes me feel better.

    8. HR is Fun*

      I agree that 11 interviews means they were very, very interested in you. That’s a positive thing. But, I think you dodged a bullet by not getting chosen, because I think 11 interviews is a sign of something that’s not functioning well at their company. Too hard to make decisions, too many chefs in the kitchen. If you worked there, I bet every time you tried to get something done, it would take forever because either no one would make a decision or a million people would have to sign off on it.

      1. Fiddlesticks*

        This is so right. It’s a red flag I think.

        A colleague of mine went on a similar odyssey (not 11 interviews, I think only eight, which is still TERRIBLE), and only managed to last at the new gig 9 months before they came back, citing crippling dysfunction and inability to commit at the formerly new gig.

    9. lahallita*

      Speaking (typing) from recent experience, the only thing that will make you feel less deflated is time and getting a few more irons in the fire.

      I went through eight interviews and used 3 days of PTO only to have a conditional offer rescinded last year after the last person I spoke to couldn’t remember that my leave usage was so high because my Dad passed away and apparently they had concerns about timing. While staying vague they encouraged me to reapply in a year. I definitely cried.

      I keep reminding myself why it wasn’t a perfect fit and I wouldn’t want to work with people like that, but it still stings almost a year later when something horrible pops up at my current job that I shouldn’t have to clean up. Continuing to pursue training opportunities and applying for better roles have helped considerably though. I’ve been doing better of heeding Alison’s advice about not thinking about a new job until there is a firm offer in hand, but it’s tough not to visualize a new role after several rounds of interviews.

      Their loss! Next!

  9. Susan K*

    I work in an industrial facility, and the HVAC system for my work area is terrible. I’ve been there for 5 years, and in that time, at least once each winter the heat has been out and at least once each summer the air conditioning has been out. It almost always takes weeks to get it fixed.

    Some of the equipment my department uses is temperature-sensitive and can malfunction in extreme temperatures, so our managers always bring that up to try to make it a higher priority to get it fixed. I have heard them say, countless times, “I don’t care about the employees’ comfort; I care about the millions of dollars’ of temperature-sensitive equipment in there. If the HVAC doesn’t get fixed, the kilns won’t work, we won’t be able to glaze any teapots, and all of our orders will be late.” (The managers, incidentally, work in offices in a different building that rarely has HVAC problems.)

    While I appreciate the fact that they are trying to make a good case for getting the HVAC fixed, it always bothers me that they explicitly state that they don’t care about our comfort. I mean, yeah, I get that it’s a bigger deal to the company for production to grind to a halt than for us to be uncomfortable, but shouldn’t they ALSO be concerned about our comfort? Even if we weren’t working with temperature-sensitive equipment, shouldn’t they want to get our HVAC system fixed so that it can maintain a reasonably comfortable temperature? It doesn’t even have to be for the sake of being nice; I am willing to bet that people are going to be more productive and do better work when they’re not distracted by miserable working conditions.

    1. Reba*

      Yikes. Slightly different, but reminds me of when administrators try to praise teachers by exclaiming that they’re so passionate, they would do this job for free!!!!

      Is that supposed to make anyone feel valued?

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      If you can point to things that have a discrete dollar value, you make it real easy to justify the expense of upgrading the HVAC system.

      I hear the “I don’t care about employees’ comfort” as just added for emphasis. It’s a tacky way of saying it, but I wouldn’t read that much into it.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yeah, that’s the way I take it. “This isn’t a comfort thing, it’s a production thing.” I agree that it’s a bad way of saying it.

      2. Stishovite*

        I agree with Trout. Unless you know your managers are that callous, I would assume this is just them trying to use the most efficient method of convincing the Powers That Be of the importance of the HVAC.

        Still, very hard to hear, especially if you’re in this cold snap.

        1. Susan K*

          They actually are pretty callous. I sort of wonder if they would intentionally keep the place at miserable temperatures just to punish us if it weren’t for the expensive, temperature-sensitive equipment.

      3. Wendy Darling*

        If it was being said by someone who was generally good people, I would even read it as “I know YOU don’t care about employees’ comfort so that’s not even the basis of my argument”.

    3. LCL*

      When TPTB realized that multimillion dollar hard to replace with a minimum 6 months lead time pieces of equipment had been damaged by high temperatures, the building HVAC was finally modernized to include air conditioning. The building is a big concrete box without windows. It was OK to expect us to respond in temps that were 90 degrees, apparently. I live in a part of the world that often won’t have air conditioning in industrial/commercial buildings because it isn’t needed, according to the designers.

    4. jm*

      Your feelings are so justified. I mean, even if management didn’t care at all about employees’ comfort, they don’t have to say that out loud. It’s just ugly.

    5. Pearl*

      That is annoying. I have dealt with similar problems – I don’t work in an industrial environment, but our building is old. This year we discovered several offices/bathrooms were without heat because their heat was hooked up to a defunct boiler in an under-construction zone of our building.

      For several weeks I and other people were pestering our facilities board member about authorizing the charge to have extra electrical installed for industrial-strength space heaters. I kept bringing up that people needed to work in here and that the bathrooms were uncomfortable and they kept saying they’d ‘get to it.’

      They only did that when I said, “Okay, it’s now going to be below freezing and in the negatives. The construction team says they believe the bathroom pipes are going to freeze this weekend. How should we handle that?” And then, ta-da, space heaters.

      But I didn’t throw the offices out when I said that. I just emphasized the pipes. It’s legit to be bothered that they’re explicitly stating that, because it doesn’t actually matter even if they’re only doing it to convince the people on the other end of the line to deal with the heat faster. All you have to do is lead with the equipment issues.

    6. Observer*

      I’m going to agree with the others who are saying that they don’t actually mean that they don’t care about your comfort, but are trying to make a point that bean counter types can run with.

    7. Someone else*

      If it makes you feel any better, I would take that comment as a response to someone on the other end of the phone saying “so people are uncomfortable for a little while, they can deal with that”, and what you heard being the reply. I agree with others that it’s not the most tactful way of phrasing it, but the point wasn’t not caring about the humans, the point was that this issue is a major issue completely independent of its affect on the humans. Maybe internally change “I don’t care about” to “That’s not why this is a critical issue”?

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Kilns that don’t work also do not conveniently remove themselves from the property. OTH, employees that do not work usually remove themselves from the property. They are stuck with the kilns.

      I agree that sounds awful. I also know that many places are like this. Heat and AC are for the customers or the clients of a biz and NOT for the employees of the biz. I try to think of it as they have to say it that way because it is how they get leverage to be heard. But reality is I left each of those jobs.

  10. Berry*

    What are some good job interview questions specifically to ask recruiter? I have a list of questions for the hiring managers, stuff specific to the role, but what about an internal recruiter who knows the job description but not the nuances?

    So far I’ve asked about office culture and work/life balance. Are there other general questions that can be useful in a first round, usually phone screen?

    1. always in email jail*

      promotion potential, do they tend to promote from within, how frequently are people given raises

      1. Kate*

        Speaking as a recruiter, all of those are tricky to ask, especially in a phone screen. All of those indicate “I’m not interested in this particular job.” Someone who’s asking about how likely they are to get a different situation than the one we’re discussing (a promotion, a raise) is not an appealing option.

        There’s a way to phrase that so it comes across as enthusiasm about the company. Like, “I’m really excited about the position. I’m looking for a company I can be with for a long time. Can you tell me about professional development opportunities and growth within the company?” But even then, a phone screen’s not necessarily the best time to have that conversation.

    2. Malibu Stacey*

      I like to ask why the role is open and what employee retention looks like in the role, dept & organization.

    3. it_guy*

      Who do they measure success? How would you know if you were doing a good job? What is the key metric for the boss’s success?

    4. Kate*

      I always appreciate a softball “What do you like most about the company?” question. Recruiters like easy questions, too. :)

  11. BadPlanning*

    I work in a casual dress workplace. My coworker was wearing a shirt/tie this morning. I almost blurted out, “Where are you interviewing” but I stopped myself. Later I found out that he was attending a funeral. Whew, averted saying something totally thoughtless.

    1. Snark*

      It’s so nice when you successfully bop the awkward part of your brain with a newspaper before it takes a dump on the rug.

      1. MLiz*

        I will keep that image in my heart and try to use it daily for myself. (Because my brain does this.) Thank you, Snark.

          1. Happy Lurker*

            Thank you for sharing your creativity! It makes my day…today included.
            I am picturing a cross between the talking pug from MIB and the monkey from friends, pooping on my rug. Nice!

    2. Jascha*

      Whew! I envy people who have a better brain-to-mouth filter than mine, though I’m working on it. Our office is casual/smart-casual dress, but sometimes I just feel like wearing a sport coat or a tie because it’s fun. People always comment. But you’ve made me think – maybe for people in offices like ours, it’s worth “dressing up” occasionally for no reason, just so that it doesn’t look odd if one day you do want to go out for an interview or something similar…

      1. Anlyn*

        I managed to twice stop myself from blurting out something damaging (I won’t talk about the times I failed to stop). Once when my family and I were on a trip in Canada–my dad was driving and got pulled over by a cop, who said in a lovely thick accent “Where-aboots ya headin?”. I *almost* blurted out “say that again!”. I was 20ish at the time. *headdesk*

        To make this work-related again; the second time was when our department had new upper management, and they asked my manager at the time when he got into the office, and he replied “usually 9:00”. I juuuuuuuuuust stopped myself from saying “no you don’t, you come in at 11:00”.

        I’ve gotten much better at tact.

    3. Not the only one*

      Yes. I once saw my boss wearing something unusually formal that was also black and felt the urge to ask whose funeral it was. Luckily I kept my mouth shut because I later found out she was going to a wake after work. Why does my brain betray me this way?!

  12. MissMaple*

    I’m not sure how seriously to take layoff rumors. I’ve only been here a year and it seems like everything is in turmoil all the time, so I don’t know if this is just part of the disorganization or if I should be taking steps to start a new job hunt. I was only at my previous job for 1.25 years, so I was hoping to be here longer but I don’t want to get caught flat-footed. On the other hand, I don’t want to burn any references/opportunities if this isn’t real. Any suggestions on judging how concerned I should be?

    1. Natalie*

      It never hurts to look around a bit. If you find a job that sounds interesting, you can decline to apply, you can decline an interview, you can decline an offer.

      That said, I know for myself it’s hard to stay in both modes – that is, “stay at this job long term” mode *and* “look for a new job” mode. At my last company, there was a big complicated upheaval that was going to result in layoffs and the closure of the company eventually, it was just a question of whether it would be in a quarter or a year. My financial situation and my ability to find a job quickly once I did get laid off allowed me to just stay put until the layoff actually happened, and two weeks later I had started my next job. So if your personal circumstances + risk tolerance allow for it, there’s nothing wrong with deciding to just keep on trucking until you know something more concrete.

    2. Don't Blame Me*

      Oh man, this is such a tough situation. I can’t help but think of that letter where the manager told her team they would be laid off soon, they all scrambled to make other (frankly worse) arrangements, and then the layoffs never happened. I suppose the safest thing to do would be to make sure your resume is in great shape and try to save a little bit so that if you do get laid off, you won’t be in a financial crisis. Since you say “everything is in turmoil all the time” maybe it wouldn’t hurt to start casually job searching anyway?

        1. Don't Blame Me*

          I can’t find it now either! I don’t recall getting an update. I remember the gist of Alison’s answer was that it was a really crappy situation, but there was no real recourse the LW could take.

    3. M*

      I’ve been at my current job 2 years, and for almost a year now they’ve been going thru waves of laying a bunch of people off, sometimes randomly sometimes not. Some people laid off a year ago are still unemployed and struggling.

      Look out for yourself first. It’s easier to get another job while you are currently employed. I’m not saying apply to anything and everything, but if you see something that’s a good fit, apply with a clean conscience. If they ask why you’re searching after such a short time, just say you heard about this great opportunity at their company – turn it back to how excited you are by the position.

    4. Dovahkiin*

      I don’t know if you’re in the states or not, but keeping tabs on your state dept of labor’s WARN notice list will keep you informed at least.

    5. Jules the Third*

      Find someone who has been there forever and ask them about how layoffs go at that company, and how seriously they take it. You can also check how the industry as a whole is going – mine is commoditizing, my employer is moving out of the industry, I’ve got a timeline for my exit.

      On the other hand, it’s probably a good thing to have your resume’ updated. With 1.25 yrs at the last job, and 1 yr here, you could leave now and be ok with future employers *if* the next job lasts at least 3 years. So maybe put in an application at some dream job / company – if you don’t get it, at least you’re in practice, and if you do get it, you’ve side stepped the layoff concerns at this company.

    6. Marie*

      Speaking as someone who didn’t see a redundancy coming, even though there were signs (hindsight is 20:20), it never hurts to look around and be prepared.

      Decide for yourself that if a lay-off happens, or your job changes, do you (if possible) want to stay with that company? I love the company I work for and decided to move to a role I knew I wouldn’t enjoy as much as my old job. 4 months later I moved to a role I really enjoy.

      However, if you know what the market is like you can decide better what to do than me, I was blindsighted and just didn’t want to leave the area, company and my friends. Potentially if I had known about great opportunities in other places, my decision would have been different.

    7. Former Retail Manager*

      I’d definitely polish up the old resume and start putting in applications. If you can stay at the next job for 2.5 to 3 years, your resume shouldn’t really take a hit. And if you’re younger, then probably even less of a hit. And while I’m sure many will disagree with me, I believe that most rumors have some truth to them. As another commenter mentioned, if there is someone who has been around a while, ideally 5-10 years and has weathered the storm before, I’d ask them about prior layoffs/the current state of affairs. But regardless, a constant state of disorganization doesn’t sound great, so I’d be looking either way.

    8. Dzhymm*

      Try to read the tea leaves from what else is happening in the company. Oftentimes layoffs are preceded by other attempts at cost-cutting:

      One company I worked for subsidized the vending machines; everything was 25c. Then they took the subsidy away and things went to regular price. Three months later they laid off 30% of the company.

      Another place I contracted at used to buy dinner for employees that stayed late. Then they stopped that. Two months later they axed all the contractors and a few employees as well.

      At yet another company one year the company Christmas party was dinner at a local restaurant; the following year it was pizza in the break room. Nine months later the whole company shut down.

      When you see the company doing the business equivalent of looking for spare change in the seat cushions, it’s usually A Sign…

  13. Jascha*

    Can anyone help me with wording for a salary negotiation?

    I’m the editor of a magazine and run it nearly (not quite) single-handedly. I’ve effectively been doing the job since April, have held the title since September “on trial,” and, as of next week, will be receiving a new contract to formalize both the title and a new salary.

    I wanted two things out of the new contract: 1) to put in writing a given number of work-from-home days per month, and 2) more money. I asked for #1 during a catch-up meeting last week and was basically told that they wouldn’t do that for anyone. As to #2, in the same meeting, they told me what my new salary would be; there was no negotiation, and I’m not happy with it.

    (Reasons I’m not happy: it’s not a large pay rise for the increase in duties; I’ve done a stellar job with fewer resources than anyone else in my position and received praise accordingly; the number they’ve named was the entry-level salary for my position four years ago and is below not only what I’m worth, but also the current industry standard and the salaries of others with my title – although admittedly I’m the newest to receive it.)

    I didn’t feel like I had the opportunity to negotiate during the catch-up meeting, and the person giving me the information is not the person who has authority over either me or the contract. I’d like to negotiate for more money when I receive the paper contract early next week, but I’m not sure exactly what to say: how to explain why I didn’t speak up in the previous meeting, how to phrase what I’m asking for, and exactly what reasoning to provide.

    For context, I know I’m the lowest-paid editor (and actually likely receive less than at least one person with a lower title); I also know that the company is doing well and can afford to pay me more; and the company leadership is aware of how well I’m doing. I also know that they would have extreme difficulty if I were to leave – but I also can’t afford to leave, nor do I have counteroffers.

    Any recommendations are massively appreciated – thank you so much!

    1. Sunny*

      I would e-mail the person who does have the authority to negotiate salary now and ask to set up a call to discuss salary rather than waiting for the paper offer.

      1. Jascha*

        Thank you! I’ll have a meeting with them early next week anyway, so I don’t think I’ll need a call, but d’you think I should give them a heads-up on Monday morning that I will want to discuss it when I get it? I don’t want to sort of… overkill it, if you know what I mean.

    2. Reba*

      Set a meeting with the relevant person to talk about the contract. Tell them the things you said in this post in your third paragraph, with extra underlining on your accomplishments! And some of the things in the fifth, but phrased more palatably :) E.g. I think it makes sense to bring my pay in line with the other editors,’ especially in light of how much I have contributed (example).

      You don’t need to explain why you haven’t already said this stuff to the first meeting person, since it sounds like they weren’t the one to do it with.

      Good luck!

      1. Jascha*

        We’ll have a meeting early next week anyway to give me the new paper contract to sign. Nothing about it will have changed except for my title and salary number, so it won’t be a complex thing. Thank you for the advice, though – I’ll see if I can sort of draft up a little bullet-point speech to memorize…

    3. Snark*

      I don’t think you really need to explain why you didn’t speak up before; the person you were speaking to was not authorized to negotiate.

      “In my meeting with Jane last week, I was given to understand that the salary on offer for this position was $X. I would be more comfortable if we settled on $Y; that’d be commensurate with the new, more technically complex (or whatever) duties and additional responsibility that comes with this new position. It would also be more on par with the current industry standard salary for similar positions, especially for someone with my strong track record of high performance and efficiency in my current role.”

      1. Jascha*

        Good point. It’s a little more complicated because the person speaking to me was/is currently the person authorized to negotiate, but as of next week, he won’t be anymore.

        Thank you for the phrasing, though – I think that’s really good. And for the “commensurate with” bit, I can follow the other comment’s advice and try to outline why I deserve it. I’ll need to think and memorize hard. I’m not particularly good at speaking up for myself!

          1. Snark*

            In cooking and in negotiating, knowing when to stop adding stuff is as important as anything else.

            1. Jascha*

              I’m a decent cook, so I guess I should think about what NOT to say for this negotiation, too, lest I be tempted!

        1. Snark*

          Yeah, following “commensurate with” is sort of mad libs – complete as appropriate. And please, feel strong in speaking up for yourself, you’re worth it!

        2. Sled dog mama*

          Actually the fact that that person will no longer be authorized to negotiate is a perfect reason not to have brought it up. If you had you run the risk of just having to start over with the new person if you didn’t come to agreement before the person in the role changed

          1. Jascha*

            It makes sense. It’ll look a little sidestep-y (our organisation is slightly weird in that way), but the simple truth is that I need to talk about this with the people in control of it, and no one else. I also suspect the person I didn’t talk to about it will want to know why – so I’ll have to come up with a cautious way of phrasing it.

  14. Not the princess*

    I’m a woman with a not super common but obviously female first name and a last name that’s a common male first name. Let’s say Jasmine James. Sometimes when people skim their emails they don’t realize that James is my last name and will address me as James. I get that this happens sometimes and it doesn’t bother me. But I was starting to see a pattern in the emails that were addressed to me as James vs the ones addressed to me as Jasmine, so I did a little unofficial study over the past couple months. Here are the consistent things I observed:

    1. People who addressed me as James would often call me “sir” at some point in the email, but people who addressed me as Jasmine never called me “ma’am”.

    2. Jasmine would get lots of exclamation points, smiley faces, and overly-friendly language. James got none of these.

    3. People are very direct and to-the-point with James, but more meandering with Jasmine. For example:

    Hi James,

    Your idea to include Chemical X in Project Mojojojo is great and I think it would interact well with the sugar, spice, and everything nice. Looking forward to discussing the implementation process of Chemical X in the meeting on Tuesday.


    Hi Jasmine,

    Your idea to include Chemical X in Project Mojojojo is interesting and worth considering, but have you thought through how Chemical X would interact with the sugar, spice, and everything nice? The Professor is very particular about how prominent the inclusion of sugar is in his projects. Maybe including Chemical Y would work instead? We can discuss more in the meeting on Tuesday.

    I’m not trying to make any sort of point with this post, I just think it’s interesting how people interact with me differently when they assume I’m male vs female. Though I do think James gets more done since he is asked to explain things less often, so I don’t mind being him from time to time.

      1. Not the princess*

        I’m in a customer facing role and deal with maybe 50-75 customers per day. On a given day, maybe 10-15% of those customers are repeats. I’ve been observing my emails since early September but was off for holidays, so my rough guess is ~2,500-3,000 emails total, of which maybe 5% thought I was James.

    1. Don't Blame Me*

      Sounds like the story that circulated a while back where a male and female coworker decided to email clients as each other for a week or something, and the male coworker suddenly realized why it took his female coworker twice as long to complete a ticket (because when clients thought he was a woman, they suddenly questioned everything he said.) Very frustrating.

    2. RabbitRabbit*

      Some people (like me) have issues with using “ma’am” as it may sound overly-dowdy in tone. I wouldn’t, however, have used “sir” in a letter to a perceived male, so I get the annoyance.

      1. Miss Ma'am*

        Agreed about the dowdiness. I especially notice women who are not from the American South or don’t have much contact with members of the military sometimes get offended by being called “ma’am” – some people think it’s a rude jab at their age – whereas “sir” is generally more widely accepted as respectful. So, though I personally rather like being called “Ma’am” (it’s certainly better than “Miss”) I try not to use it with others unless I have a good sense they wouldn’t take offense.

        All of these findings are fascinating, though! Thanks for sharing them, Not The Princess.

    3. A. Ham*

      I have a similar situation! My first name is androgynous. My first contact with potential clients that i do not know is often via e-mail, but eventually I will talk to them over the phone as well. Not every time, but often enough to notice, people will completely change the way they communicate with me once they speak to me and realize I am not male. I often hear obvious surprise when i first talk to them over the phone and it just goes down hill from there. (all of a sudden it’s condescending tone and calling me “honey”. ugh it’s irritating.)
      Again, it is NOT everyone, but it does come from both men and women.

        1. A. Ham*

          YES! They’re embarrassed that they… what? treated me professional and normally in their original communication with me?
          How DARE I write e-mails that don’t reveal my gender. haha I’ll have to start finishing my e-mails with “P.S. I’m a chick”.

          1. Not the princess*

            Vaginally yours,

            I actually have a male coworker with a technically unisex but traditionally female name who adds “Mr.” to his signature, as in “Mr. Ashley Wilkes”.

            1. Turkletina*

              I have a gender-neutral name. I’ve thought of putting a title in front of my name in my email signature, but (a) I kind of like the respect I get when people think I’m a man, and (b) signing off as “Dr. Turk L. Tina” wouldn’t actually solve the problem.

    4. Maya Elena*

      Are you implying men criticize Jasmine but not James? Or they just write in a more emotive way? Who is guiltier of this, male or female senders?

      1. Not the princess*

        Male senders tend to be more critical of Jasmine than female senders. Female senders are more likely to smiley face and exclamation point at Jasmine but some male senders will sometimes send smiley faces as well.

    5. Product person*

      Such an interesting and valuable observation, Not the princess! I’m bookmarking your comment for future use. Thank you for sharing.

    6. nep*

      Fascinating — you should make an article out of this.
      I’ve got a friend who is quite often taken to be a man in emails because of a name that’s not familiar to many. I’d bet she’s seen similar.
      Thanks for this interesting post.

  15. Ramona Flowers*

    It’s my birthday next week so I’d like to hear your stories of birthday celebrations at work: the good, the bad and the awkward.

    (But please let’s skip the discussion about whether adults should care about celebrating their birthdays or they’re just for kids and people with kids. I had a childhood full of miserable birthdays and I can’t have children so those conversations are 0% fun for me. Thank you!)

    I’ll start with my old colleague Tahani. On being surprised with cake and gifts for a milestone birthday, Tahani covered her face with her hands and told us to all go away. Not rudely. She just sounded mortified, and completely serious, as she sort of waved people away.

    So, away they went. Tahani uncovered her face. And most people went far enough away that they didn’t hear her say “I didn’t mean it!” Turned out she didn’t really want people to leave. Oops. Wasn’t even genuine mortification – just a poorly judged attempt at seeming humble. Her immediate colleagues were still nearby, but it kind of ruined the moment.

    (Tahani definitely did not have social anxiety. As I recall she actually enjoyed being the centre of attention, but evidently thought she should pretend otherwise.)

    So I guess don’t use the words “go away” unless you actually mean them.

    On the flip side, one of the most moving letters I’ve ever seen on AAM was from a former foster kid who had cried at work after her colleagues unknowingly gave her her first ever birthday cake.

    1. selina kyle*

      Happy birthday Ramona! Your comments are among my favorites on this site, you have some awesome insight on a lot of situations :)

      Birthday celebration for me – at my previous job, I was the only direct report to my boss. She put up streamers in my corner of our shared office, covered my desk in balloons, and brought in a box of fancy cookies from a local bakery. It was awesome (she knew she was leaving at the end of the year, so it was also kind of a last hurrah) and made me really happy as a recent college grad who wasn’t going to be able to be with family for my birthday.
      It was a total happy surprise and it meant a lot that she went the extra mile. She was an amazing boss – clear & high expectations with an understanding that sometimes life happens, and we just got on well.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I second Selina Kyle and thank you for sharing about birthdays. I too had miserable childhood birthdays and no kids. I personally don’t “do” my birthday but enjoy celebrating others. sometimes we just take a colleague to lunch or have a little breakfast with coffee and donuts.I would hate to have birthday celebrations at my present job but enjoyed my old position where we would just to a little lunch potluck on peoples birthdays, no presents or cake.

    2. Anonymoose*

      I have a weird complex about my birthday (not my age, just my birthday) where I don’t like people knowing it. The only people who know it are my spouse, my remaining living parent, my siblings, and my best friend since childhood. That’s more than enough people knowing it for me and I don’t tell other people my birthday.

      At my current job I came into work on my birthday and my desk was covered in streamers and big Happy Birthday balloons, and there was a small cake on my desk. One of my coworkers decided to get someone from HR to tell them my birthday so they could decorate my desk. I’m a very private person and I guess this coworker wanted me to be more open and thought this would be the way? I was surprised, but not in a good way. I tried to be a good sport about it and quickly ate a piece of cake with my team, but I was embarrassed and couldn’t wait till my coworker left for the day so I could throw all the decorations away. Yes, I know, I’m a grinch.

      1. Reba*

        I too am a grinch about my birthday. It’s not a secret but I am weirded out by people making any kind of a deal out of it. (I know that it is I who is weird.)

        My spouse once worked at a place where you automatically got a paid day off on your birthday. For adults! I find that so bizarre! But at least you wouldn’t have to be around coworkers who want to celebrate you. :)

          1. OtterB*

            I also once worked at a place that had a “birthday holiday” every year, but you could take it any time in the month of your birthday with your supervisor’s approval of the exact day.

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          Ugh, so jealous :) When I was in high school and university I used to skip school on my birthday and go shopping (it’s in September). Now that I’m a grown-up I can’t. (Well, I can take a personal day, but I feel like it’s not worth $225 off my paycheque to spend more money.)

        1. Jadelyn*

          Eh…I think there’s a distinction in what’s okay to share between birth*day* and birth *date*. I would never share someone’s full DOB (and thus their age) with anyone outside of HR. But I’ve put together birthday calendars for the branch before (which action was sanctioned by both boss and grandboss) so that the party planning team could make sure to have all the names included in the monthly birthday celebration and nobody got forgotten or accidentally left out. One’s birthday is not generally *private* info in the same way that one’s DOB is.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            At OldExjob, one of the things I had to do was pass birthday cards (and work anniversary cards) around for signing and send out birthday emails. It was boring and most people didn’t care, so I tried to liven it up a bit with pictures of amazing cakes in the emails. There was one very unassuming person who privately came to me and said he did NOT want a fuss; please don’t send out his birthday. So I did not. I would just catch him in passing and whisper “Happy birthday” into his ear and he would whisper back, “Thanks.”

    3. Professor Ma'am*

      I’m a professor and I share a classroom with other instructors. The woman who teaches before me is a friend and knew it was my birthday so she wrote on the board “Happy Birthday Professor ::Name::!”.

      I didn’t see it when I walked in, so I went about getting myself ready for class. Students started to come in and one says “Is it your birthday?” and then another came in and said “Happy Birthday!”. I spent about 30 seconds in complete terror that they had social media stalked me. That’s when I turned around and saw the board!

      A few of the students decided they wanted to guess how old I was. My students are almost all males and I got a good chuckle out of the bunch of them who responded with “don’t do it! it’s a trap!”. They insisted and so first guess was a joke – 23, we all laughed. Second guess was legit – 27. I said “I’ll take it!” and ended the guessing game (It was my 32nd birthday).

    4. MilkMoon (UK)*

      I don’t have any work-Birthday stories for you I’m afraid but I too had a childhood (and very young adulthood) of miserable Birthdays, so yeah I chose to reclaim my Birthday a few years ago and I am big on it (same with Christmas). F-anyone who has a problem with an adult loving their Birthday tbh, why shouldn’t I celebrate myself?

      Have a lovely Birthday Ramona!

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I’m sorry you can relate. May all your future birthdays be wonderful. And Christmases too.

    5. Malibu Stacey*

      Many years ago I was a receptionist and I was dating my coworker. A woman showed up on his birthday with a bouquet of flowers and said they were for him. I told her that she could deliver them to directly to his office but she refused, so I had to do it. We were not exclusive but I was still Not Happy.

    6. Seal*

      Warning – this one is bad. Years ago I had a side gig as an assistant coach for a high school fine arts group. It so happened that my birthday fell during the season. And it also so happened that the coach I was assisting, unbeknownst to me, had a huge crush on me; I was not the SLIGHTEST bit interested in them. So the coach let it slip to the kids that my birthday was coming up. The kids arranged to have a cake and singing telegram delivered to the rehearsal that fell on my birthday. Embarrassing, but the kids loved it. After the rehearsal and cake, the coach “surprised” me with an intimate dinner, flowers, and a proclamation of their affection for me. I was absolutely mortified, but tried to let the coach down gently. Unfortunately, the coach did not take it well and took it out on me publicly throughout the rest of the season. I did as much as I could to shield the kids from the coach’s awful behavior and salvage the season, but thing got so bad the both the kids and their parents complained to the school district; I finally did so as well. Ultimately the coach was fired for unprofessional conduct in general, which included sexually harassing me. The kicker is that that coach found another coaching job in another school district and continued to coach for years, apparently (hopefully!) with no further incidents. All of this happened over 25 years ago, when sexual harassment incidents – even big ones – tended to get swept under the rug rather than addressed or conveyed to future employers.

      Needless to say, that incident permanently put me off celebrating birthdays at work – mine or anyone else’s.

    7. JustaCPA*

      For birthdays at my office, you bring in a treat on (or near your birthday if a weekend or holiday) and leave it in the break room for all to enjoy. The end. We’re kind of boring.

    8. Stishovite*

      Ug. At VeryOldJob, I had a stress-related breakdown (? I don’t know the official definition of a nervous breakdown, but I couldn’t stop crying for literally hours, and hid on the other side of the building). Once I got myself under control enough to face people again, I claimed a family emergency and went home. This was the day before a long holiday weekend.
      On the day I returned after the weekend, I found out my co-workers had planned a birthday party for me on that day I left early.
      They hauled out the stale cake from the fridge, and held it then. Awkward!

    9. clow*

      happy birthday! at my office I came in to big a big balloon, and since birthdays for the week are posted for everyone to see, I got a lot of happy birthdays via IM or in person.
      The Tahini story is actually pretty funny, the former foster kid one, wow, that is really moving, makes me appreciate all the birthday cakes I have had.

    10. Yams*

      I love celebrating my birthday too! But in the office it depends on my co-workers, this year I scheduled PTO on the day of, and meetings all through that week because the celebrations in this office are weird and awkward. I also tend to skip out on other’s birthdays (though I always pitch in for the cakes). I mean, it’s the usual stand in front of everyone for the awkward happy birthday song (with the guys from purchasing bringing in the cake almost at 6PM and making us all stay 15 minutes after our exit time), so it’s totally not my cup of tea. They did decorate my office with balloons though, which I appreciate since I have an irrational love of balloons.

      Last year, different company, I was part of a team of five and we went way overboard for birthdays. We had a little breakfast buffet with cookies and snacks, then we had a special lunch we ordered in, and took off together for happy hour. We also decorated each other’s cubicle with stuff we knew they liked and added small gifts of appreciation, we actually stayed late the day before to set everything up. We did that for all of our birthdays! I still go to the birthday happy hours! I love that team. Well, we kinda had to put a stop to it before I left because someone in a different team complained to the director about our birthday celebrations… because we did not do the same for the other team–with which we did not have any interactions with.

        1. Yams*

          Happy birthday! I hope you have an amazing birthday!

          Yeap! We were pretty angry, we weren’t even allowed to buy cakes to bring at the office! We had to start bringing it the day before/after and call it a “friendship cake” instead of a birthday cake. I mean, we still had our happy hours and gave each other small presents very furtively, but we were very annoyed both at the other department and the director who gave the order. It really wasn’t our fault the people in the other teams basically hated each other and never celebrated.

          Honestly, the insane reaction the director and the other department had was about 10% of why I left that job.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            “We don’t buy each other cake so you can’t either!”

            I dread to think how bad the other 90% must have been.

    11. zora*

      So I guess don’t use the words “go away” unless you actually mean them.

      Ha! good lesson.

      We have a very small satellite office, but it’s definitely part of the company culture to celebrate birthdays. They are highlighted on the internal newsletter and weekly calendars, and there is $ set aside in our office budgets. Most offices do the once a month party in the breakroom with catered food/decorations for everyone with a birthday that month.

      But because we have such a small office, I ask people what they would prefer for their birthdays, also to accommodate food issues. So, I make a ‘banner’ on the glass wall over the birthday-person’s desk and blow up a couple of balloons in the morning. And then we have ranged from having some cupcakes quickly and then going back to our desks, to getting some snacks and a bottle of wine and having a short happy hour after 5, to ordering in coffee/food from a fancy coffee place in the morning. Depending on what the birthday person likes. We keep it pretty low key, but everyone here works really hard, so it’s nice to have a few minutes to chat and eat something yummy before we go back to work.

      Oh yeah, and since I’m the admin who arranges all these things, I was planning to get something delivered on my birthday, but my coworkers surprised me with brownies in the morning, which was super sweet! They didn’t want me to have to organize my own birthday, which I don’t mind, but was very thoughtful of them!

        1. zora*

          I know!! I was basically assuming that would happen which wouldn’t have bothered me, but it was definitely added icing on the cake to have them think of me first.

    12. Buffy*

      At an old job, I came in one day to find a donut on my desk. Just on a napkin, sitting in front of my computer. I was kind of confused and asked around like “Anyone leave a donut by accident on my desk?” I finally got to my boss and asked her and she said, “It’s for your birthday!”

      “…Oh? It’s….not my birthday today actually.”
      “Yes, it is!”
      “No….it’s not.”
      “Yes, it is! I wrote it down!”

      It went on a few more times. I just mumbled thank you and left her office. So yeah, probably the most awkward birthday celebration I’ve ever had at work.

        1. Buffy*

          It was exactly one month later actually so I was understanding of the mistake. (It only got weird when she insisted several times that *I* was wrong about my birth date!)

          1. Lynca*

            Proper response: Well I was the one there so I should know.

            And I have actually stated that to someone that was adamant my birthday was a different date. It actually caused them to stop and think about what they were doing so it worked out.

          2. OtterB*

            I once had a colleague whose office birthday celebration was the wrong month/day because she was Canadian and had written down her birthdate years before in the day/month instead of month/day format, so we celebrated on something like July 2 (7/2) instead of February 7 (2/7).

            1. Buffy*

              Haha now that’s an understandable mistake! My boss (who you could probably guess, was pretty terrible overall) then ignored my birthday the next month? It didn’t really bother me but I thought it was odd since I was pretty clear in correcting her at the time. She probably thought I was still mistaken about my birthdate.

    13. Too Witches*

      I work at a small startup that has recently merged with an older (but originally even smaller) company that I used to freelance with, and the older company was big into doing a collection for every full-time staff member’s birthday. Old Company had a max of 7 staff and they used to ask for €5 and get a little gift card and some flowers; it wasn’t amazing, partly because they would also gift up (ugh, I’ve already refused), but fine.
      NOW, the company has almost doubled in staff, and for some completely indiscernable reason the collection has gone up to €10 per person per birthday! On top of everything, I work part-time, so suffice it to say I’m a massive grinch about this situation. Unfortunately I didn’t catch it before my birthday rolled around and ended up with 50 bucks worth of gift cards, flowers and a bunch of chocolates languishing in my desk, so now I feel obligated to pay something back, even though they’re only getting half because I only make half. We have four birthdays coming up in January, so that’s going to be rough on my budget. I’ve already notified the organizers that I would like a card and some flowers and nothing more for my birthday next year. Isn’t that more than enough??! They can even get cake to share if they’re feeling generous, but that is an insane amount of money to me.

      Anyway, happy birthday Ramona! As we say in German, let yourself be spoiled on today of all days!

    14. Ingray*

      How about when my former boss wanted to take me out to lunch for my birthday, but then said she couldn’t because she was too busy. (Fine with me, honestly. I’d rather not have to interact with my boss on my lunch break. But for some reason she decided that meant it would be awkward for me to be a part of her birthday celebration. Apparently the whole rest of management team going out for lunch but not inviting me is less awkward.
      My former boss didn’t have the best social skills.

      1. amy l*

        I was at Old Job for five years. When my birthday came around, Old Boss would send an email along the lines of. “Happy Birthday! I need to take you to lunch to celebrate!” . And she never did. Every. Year.

    15. Lemon Zinger*

      I don’t like to celebrate my birthday (never have). Last year my colleagues knew my birthday because we are Facebook friends and they were perplexed as to why I didn’t want to celebrate. I had unexpectedly lost a relative just a week before and couldn’t discuss it at work because I knew I would break down, so I was just very tense and kept repeating “I don’t like to celebrate my birthday” over and over again.

    16. Elizabeth H.*

      My nicest work birthday in 2013 was when I was working in an office with four other people including our director, we were pretty close and I liked everyone, and our director was about to transfer to a new position and we had a moderate restructuring and were going to move our office upstairs so it was a little bit of an “end of an era” thing. We got takeout sushi for lunch, all sat down around the center meeting table to eat, and had cupcakes (I think) also. It was so nice! Prior to an earlier restructuring, people would have cheap champagne at lunch in the office for birthdays which was fun. One of my coworkers had a birthday just after mine and she didn’t like a fuss or recognition or anything but I brought her flowers for it for the 2 years we worked together which she really appreciated.
      At my current job, people get a cake and all stand around awkwardly in the conference room eating cake and making conversation for 20 minutes which is not really my idea of a great time. Nobody did this for my birthday which was great. This past year, a new-er coworker who I mentored a bit when she started wrote me a lovely card and took me out to lunch (I protested but in the end I thought it was more gracious to let her pay; I told her I’d take her out to lunch next time we went) which was very sweet and enjoyable.

    17. Perse's Mom*

      I took my birthday off from work one year, back when I was working part time and therefore had no PTO. One of my full-time coworkers called me because she was worried about me (no PTO = taking a day off = income loss, so yes, I did show up if I was anything but deathly ill). Upon discovering I was fine, it was just my birthday, she proceeded to gather the rest of the department cubicle farm together around her cubicle to sing Happy Birthday to me over the phone.

      Granted this was only like 6 people and we all sat together every day and knew each other relatively well, but still… so embarrassing!

    18. Science!*

      In my old lab we celebrated everyones birthdays with cake. There were only 8-12 of us at any given time so it wasn’t too hard and we all liked it. But my boss would always have us sing Happy Birthday, and since he was an actual good singer (sang in a choir on his off days) he would attempt to harmonize. The rest of us…average at best. So the harmony with off key singing made for a weird combo.

      I still miss the birthday celebrations but my current lab has too many people to do it effectively.

    19. Anonymous Jane*

      I once semi-joked to an old boss that I probably would be calling out on my birthday, since people tended to die that day. (Seriously. My grandmother died of cancer on my 15th birthday, and my stepmother died of a heart attack on my 23rd birthday.)

      Boss was very weird about this, probably thinking it was an extremely odd attempt to get a vacation day. I ended up having to go to Legacy dot com and actually show her the obits to prove myself and make the weirdness go away.

      She later grew to appreciate my black sense of humor. The following year, she gave me a cupcake with a candle in it, and told me to have a happy “nobody died” day.

    20. Bad Candidate*

      At OldJob nothing on our team was every done for birthdays. I’d get an email from my boss, but that was it. At CurrentJob I was kind of excited because I quickly learned that they pass around a card for everyone to sign and you bring in treats for the office to share. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s something. So for six months I’ve been signing birthday cards, get well cards, etc. for everyone else. Last month was my birthday. And nothing. I got no card at all. They’d forgotten. (And yes, they knew, it’s on the list that everyone gets) I was already feeling like this job was not a good fit and alienated from the rest of the team, that just cemented it. Worse, a few days later the boss sent around a Christmas card to be sent to someone who doesn’t even work here any more and left well before I started.

      1. only acting normal*

        Yeah, that sucks.
        My old job did similar, on a pay-it-forward type arrangement: you bought a card for the person with the birthday after yours (helpfully on a list) and passed it round for signing. Except when I started there was already someone there with the same birthday as me, and I was added before them on the list. The person before me (us) on the list didn’t re-check it. So my birthday-mate got two cards (one from me, one from the person before me on the list), and I got none.

        It was also that job where while circulating a birthday card, I approached one relatively new guy and the woman sat opposite him got a horrified look on her face.
        She stage whispered “He doesn’t sign birthday cards!! He’s a Jehovah’s Witness!!”
        I just said “Oh sorry,” and took the card to the next person (because… really, no big deal to me! Noted for future reference – Wakeen doesn’t do birthdays). He was happy I didn’t make a production of it. But she thought it was some major incident. :D

    21. a*

      I don’t really celebrate my birthday in general, and I refuse to do it at work. I take the day off to make it clear. In general, though, your section brings in food for the whole building to share around your birthday. I told everyone from the start that I didn’t have a birthday and wouldn’t be celebrating. Ever. One year, we were having some personnel issues in my section, and our rather inept director counseled (the first step before discipline) one of my coworkers because she didn’t bring in anything for my birthday. Even though I don’t celebrate it. And I wasn’t even at work.

    22. Jadelyn*

      This past year, my team got me flowers and a cake, and gathered the branch (about 25 people in all) to surprise me in the breakroom. But, because one of my close coworkers knows I struggle with social anxiety, she realized it could be hard for me to be suddenly in the spotlight without being prepared for it, so she secretly told me about it ahead of time. I pretended to be surprised – pretty well, apparently, as no one questioned it! – but it was genuinely helpful to have the warning, and I thought it was very considerate of her to handle it the way she did.

    23. Elizabeth West*

      My coworker at Exjob found out my 50th birthday was coming up and I had to work that day. When I came in, she had plastered my cube with the Grim Reaper and sprinkled colorful “50” confetti everywhere.

      Um, thanks?

      I wasn’t too upset because she also made me an angel food cake, my favorite.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Death and confetti. And there I was thinking those things didn’t tend to appear together.

    24. urban teacher*

      My birthday is September 11 and I feel weird about celebrating on the actual date. I’ve managed to avoid telling most schools I work at because it’s so close to the start of school.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        That sounds really difficult. I have a close friend whose birthday is on 7/7 (London terrorism attack that killed the siege of someone we know) which is similarly tricky.

      2. Merci Dee*

        My mom’s birthday, as well as one of my nephew’s, is on September 11. Random people who weren’t even included in my conversation have totally chewed me out over the years when they catch snippets of talk and hear “celebration” and “September 11” in the same sentence. I stare at them through their rant, right up until they get to the inevitable question — “what in the world could you possibly have to celebrate on September 11?” I invariably answer with, “my mom’s birthday, mostly.” Tends to bring the conversation to a crashing halt. I’m not sure what kind of answer they’re looking for, but they seem to be unprepared for the one they get.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          On one September 11 the world stood still. To me, babies born on the 11th are little reminders that life will go on, different, but still on-going. FWIW, babies born on the 11th have a special meaning build right in to their lives at the start. Not all of us have that gift of an obvious purpose for our lives, some of us have to wait or some of us have to search for it.

        2. SAHM*

          I got chewed out on FB by my sister bc my son’s birthday is September 11 and I apparently posted something “insensitive” when I was just sharing about his (2nd?3rd? He’s 8 now so I can’t recall exactly which one it was) birthday. It was especially weird since her closest connection to it was “a friend of a friend’s relative was in 9/11”.

        3. Lissa*

          Damn, WTF is with people! I really think in general there’s no good reason to interrupt and berate a stranger based on what you *think* they are saying. Too good a chance you’ll be wrong. I’ve had similar things happen when I’m talking about a Dungeons and Dragons game I’m playing in or something, and also had a friend tell me about someone interrupting two women talking about “Indians” to yell at them about incorrect language…nope, they were talking about people from India.

          I hope your answer brings them up short enough they’ll think before deciding to try to have a Facebook-worthy “clap back” of a stranger again.

    25. Leah*

      at my current job, at my less-than-ten-people office, the coworker responsible for managing and spending the office’s junk food monthly budget brings cakes to people’s birthdays.

      …but, for some reason, she doesn’t bring cake for everyone’s birthdays, which, is at the very least, a little awkward. I think we had cake for only three of my coworkers last year, even though our HR representative pinned everyone’s birthdays on the whiteboard. yikes.

    26. Merci Dee*

      The company where I work now tried an experiment, several years ago, with providing birthday cakes for the employees. For the production area, which has almost a thousand employees, they would purchase a single massive sheet cake every month to celebrate everyone who had birthdays in that month. For the smaller support departments, they would buy a regular-sized cake for the birthday employee. Naturally, the cake would get shared among the members of the department. It was a really kind gesture, but birthday cake just about every month got old after a while. Not to mention, the company was spending tons of money on this, because we have three separate buildings on our campus, and they were buying the massive sheet cakes for each building — 36 of those a year, besides all the regular cakes for those in independent departments. I think they did this for about 2 years before management decided to end the practice. Even though cake is generally great, we weren’t sad when they stopped bring them around every few weeks.

    27. Wendy Darling*

      Happy birthday! May you get only the workplace birthday celebrations you want.

      Not a birthday party, but a baby shower: At a previous job I had a coworker who really, REALLY wanted us to be the kind of office that had big parties for life milestones. We were more of a “everyone sign this card” kind of office.

      So in an attempt to be the change she wanted to see in the world, my coworker planned a surprise baby shower for her manager when she happened to find out his wife was expecting. This was not something he was super open with around the office but people knew because he would have to skip out on meetings to go to appointments. She sent out invitations and got specially made cupcakes and balloons and decorated a conference room.

      Unfortunately since it was a surprise the guest of honor didn’t know about it and decided to take off the day of the surprise party because his pregnant wife was feeling poorly. Coworker. Was. Furious.

      1. Rock Prof*

        I missed my office shower because I went into labor (it was exactly 3 weeks before my due date). It wasn’t a secret shower though.

    28. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

      Me and my husband run a small outreach for people in my community who are experiencing homelessness and poverty (we give out toiletries and personal care items) in our spare time. I never talk about it at work or anything, but one of my coworkers at my old job found out about it, and for my birthday, she and a few other coworkers went in together and made a monetary donation to the outreach. I was so surprised, and so appreciative of the gesture. I consider it to be one of the best birthday gifts that I have ever received!

    29. SL #2*

      Happy early birthday! Your comments are always ones that I stop to read when I don’t have time to go through the whole post. I hope you have a marvelous day and year.

      At my current job, we go out for a birthday lunch on/around the day; my other coworker and I have birthdays 2 weeks apart, so we’ve combined our celebration. There’s always a gift from our ED and then another gift that the team pools in for… and there’s usually a light-hearted birthday prank. I don’t want to describe them fully because they’re related to inside jokes and would make me very easily identifiable, but it’s in good fun, not destructive or physically/emotionally harmful, and we all have lots of fun laughing about it after.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I am so touched and humbled by people saying they appreciate my comments. It means a great deal to me, thank you!

    30. Middle School Teacher*

      We’re doing something new this year. We’ll get an email from the assistant principal saying “there will be pie (or cake, or whatever) in the staffroom to celebrate the Jan-Feb birthdays! Come by at lunch to wish people a happy birthday!” And there’s no obligation to go. I always go because I like free food, but if you’re someone who doesn’t like a fuss on their birthday, you don’t have to go at all. It’s nice, to have a little treat every couple of months.

      The AP is super thoughtful and tries to get kind of themed foods, so for the fall birthdays we had pie (apple and pumpkin), for winter we had Christmas desserts, etc.

    31. Bagpuss*

      Happy Birthday for next week, Ramona!

      We are normally quite low-key. We’re a small office and what we do is that the birthday person brings cake or treats if they want to,but if someone doesn’t want to participate, they don’t have to.

      We did push to boat out a bit for one employee – she was one of our more junior employees and was turning 21, so we all put a bit into a kitty and gave her a surprise party at lunch time, with cake, nibbles and (alcohol free) fizz.

      Our newest employee had a birthday just before Christmas. It happened to be the first birthday since he started, and some of his colleagues were teasing him, claiming that he was expected to provide way more than started with them telling him he had to bring cake, jelly and ice-cream, then that he should bring bacon sandwiches for breakfast, then that he should bring those for breakfast and cook us all a 3 course lunch (using our kitchen equipment, which consists of an elderly microwave, and a kettle)
      He retaliated by bringing in frazzles (bacon flavoured crisps) plus 3 different kinds of cake which he stated were to be eaten as starter, main and dessert.
      We pointed out he forgot the wine pairings to go with them…

    32. FoodieNinja*

      My birthday is close to Christmas, and after starting a new job I was informed by a manager (not my boss) that the office would celebrate my birthday the way her family celebrated her brother’s December birthday – by doing it on a completely random other day in the year. I wasn’t asked how I felt about this (spoiler: not a fan, at all). I tolerated it for a few years, because I was junior and don’t like to make waves, until one year I came in late, sat at my desk, and then was chastised by this manager for being late to my birthday party (which was being held during the weekly staff meeting). I went in, was presented with a cake in a flavor I don’t like, and glared at for not immediately eating some. I had come in late because I was having dental work done, and it hadn’t crossed my mind to schedule it around my December birthday, which was being celebrated in early September.

      At another job, I had a coworker/friend who was not into sweets. His birthday was coming up, and his boss asked me what he might like. I said cheese and crackers. She insisted you have to have cake on your birthday, and brought in a half-sheet cake (weighing 7 pounds) that was coincidentally in the colors of the team that was crushing his favorite hockey team in the playoffs that week. To add insult to injury, he had to take the extra cake home.

    33. NDR*

      At a former job, the week we started we filled out a form that asked things like favorite treat/candy, lunch, etc. We’d have a monthly birthday lunch featuring all birthdays for that month. Each celebrant got a little gift/goodie chosen from the first day form and the meal/cake was also coordinated around preferences. It was all super low key and never mandatory.

    34. Lurky McLurkerson*

      Happy, happy birthday Ramona!

      My old lab used to have a birthday club and those who wished to participate in 3 different departments would write their name, birthday, and what treat they’d like on a slip of paper and everyone would choose a name out of a bag during our Christmas party. So starting in January whoever’s name you chose you’d bring in whatever treat they requested enough to share with the birthday club participants! It’d didn’t even have to be sweet as we’ve had people bring in savory or lunch items before. But if you did bring in sweets, like I’ve requested donuts or particular type of pie, we also had a store of ice cream/frozen yogurts that people would replenish with each birthday we celebrated. There was also a stash of all kinds of birthday decorations so whoever was in charge of bringing in the treat would setup before we sang happy birthday.

      That was definitely one of the only good things about my old job ;)

        1. SebbyGrrl*

          Happy Almost Ramona!

          15th-ing appreciation for your voice and wit in the community.

          And thank you for this thread, fun and good ideas.

          Mine is in a couple weeks (52 and rocking it, thankyouverymuch!).

          For what ever reason, my particular thing in life is not great bdays, celebrating at work never really improved it.

          And I’m a ‘let me do my work, no one pays me to eat cake, there’s AP to run’ person.

          But I default to Jim Gaffigan’s motto, any excuse to eat cake should be viewed as an opportunity, because cake. I might not love that guy from facilities, but I’ll smile and eat cake in his honor.

          Congrats and enjoy!

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            I’m sorry you’re in the not great birthday club, fellow January person. Happy almost birthday and I hope it’s a good one this time!

    35. Don't Blame Me*

      I’m not sure I’ve ever been at a job where they celebrated birthdays, but my birthday is ALSO next week! Happy Birthday, Ramona Flowers! January babies FTW!

    36. copy run start*

      Well, someone once told me you should take your birthday off because it’s bound to be the crappiest day of the year if you spend it at work. True to form, the next birthday I had at work was filled with miserable customers and drudgery, so I take it off every year I can. Usually I try to turn it into a long weekend. My birthday is in the fall, so it’s usually a good time of year to visit attractions. (All the kids are in school, everyone’s saving vacation for the holidays and the weather is still semi-decent.)

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I’ve taken my birthday off. I normally do a tricky thing on that day of the week on a rota basis and if I go to work and don’t do it my brain, like, short-circuits. So I figured I might as well have a day off and sleep in.

    37. Lissa*

      Never worked a job that celebrates birthdays, but my birthday is usually either right before, on or after my last day of work before summer vacation so it’s like a little present to me! I just buy myself some extra cake in the cafeteria and giggle quietly to myself.

    38. Basically Useless*

      Everyone gets a birthday card and a coupon for a free drink at the in-house coffee place.

      I work night audit and get nothing. The rest of the front desk buy cakes, etc. I get nothing. Yeah, one year I brought in cupcakes to share with my fellow graveyard employees then gave the remainders to my overnight security. He was all “I already ate one” but agreed to take them when I suggested his gaming group would love them.

  16. extra anon today*

    I got a job offer this morning contingent on a (very thorough) background check with fingerprinting and interviews with people I know. They said the PD conducts the check and it takes 12 weeks! I’ve never committed a crime, or not paid my taxes, or done anything really bad/illegal (I’ve had one speeding ticket). I’ve never been fired from a job, though I did leave one without notice (but I was still in my probationary period, so I didn’t have an obligation to). However, I have been hospitalized for mental illness twice. I’m not sure what kind of things they are looking for? Will these hospitalizations potentially put me out of the running? Will my parents’ legal infractions be held against me? I also had a job that I was only in for a month that I left off of my resume, will they find this a red flag?

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      I wouldn’t worry about it. The stuff they care about they already asked. If you were honest on your interviews, you likely have nothing to worry about. If you made a mistake or misspoke in your interview, you should clarify now rather wait for them to find out.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      That sounds intense! I think it might depend on what kind of work you’d be doing on whether or not those things will matter.

      The interviews with people you know part makes me think there might be some kind of security clearance involved?

    3. Natalie*

      Were you ordered to be hospitalized by a judge? If not, I’m not sure how they would find out. Checking yourself into a psychiatric facility is going to be private information just like any other medical care. (And even if you were ordered to be hospitalized it might still be sealed.)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        In general to anyone who is reading with interest/concern about someone, Even if a psych eval is ordered and completed, that would be a sealed part of the case. While military and perhaps police agencies might be aware of it for employment purposes that part should be sealed to everyone else. A check with the court involved would be appropriate if someone is concerned about this issue. Sealing laws are complex.

    4. Sandra*

      I work in a field where background checks such as what you describe are mandatory. The legal issues of family members would not be a concern at all. However, leaving any last job off a resume would be more than a red flag, it would result in automatic disqualification from the job and the candidate being put on a “never hire” list. The same would be true for the hospitalization if it was not disclosed and kept hidden. No exceptions. Sorry if that’s not what you wanted to hear!

      1. Natalie*

        Don’t people typically fill out a job history form for background checks, rather than using the resume? Every job I’ve ever had has assumed a resume is incomplete.

        Just curious, how do you find out that people have been hospitalized, and what they were hospitalized for?

        1. Sandra*

          I apologize. Sorry. English is not my mother language. We have section which every single job has to be listed. Like a resume but has to be complete. That was my fault.

          I can’t say about things like hospitalization.

          1. Natalie*

            Oh, that makes more sense then! And itt sounds like you might not be in the US so you would presumably have different privacy laws around medical info.

            1. Sandra*

              I am American. We don’t hack into medical records or stuff like that but the background check process is very in-depth

      2. Not Today Satan*

        Off a resume, really? or do you mean on one of those forms where you sign that everything is complete and true?

    5. Jules the Third*

      They may also look at your financial records – a bankruptcy or low credit score can impact some job offers, especially ones with security clearance requirements.

      *Usually* medical history isn’t part of the concern. A friend of mine went through something like this with the State Dept, I got asked about their attitude towards America (vs other countries), illegal drug activity. Nothing about her family / parents. I *think* your parents’ legal infractions would not be a concern, nor would the job you left off your resume’. If that comes up, just say you didn’t have a chance to develop relevant experience or accomplishments.

    6. Shadow*

      Hard to tell. If it’s government/govt contractor or law enforcement I would be worried most about the job you left off. Ghosting doesn’t reflect well on your professionalism and leaving off a job might lead them to believe you can’t be trusted.

    7. Nichelle*

      I wish you luck OP. Unfortunately if it was my company / industry not disclosing your entire work history (even a job that was only one month) would lead to disqualification. Same for the hospitalization if it was not disclosed and kept hidden. If these were discovered after hiring it would result in firing with a security escorting you out on the spot.

        1. Shadow*

          Pretty easy when the background check involves interviews with acquaintances. Might lead an investigator to question mental fitness.

          1. Natalie*

            Those types of background checks are pretty rare, and you’re assuming that the acquaintances know about a hospitalization and would mention it. Doesn’t sound that easy or common to me.

              1. Natalie*

                Fair enough, although I still think it’s a leap to assume that people are going to randomly mention your hospitalization for a work-related background check. I wouldn’t – someone’s medical history isn’t relevant to their job. And if medical and mental health history was an explicit part of the check the OP would have presumably been asked about it.

        2. Kuododi*

          Thanks to privacy laws, the only way one of would find out if there had been a hospitalization or other medical care is if it were outright disclosed and a formal release of information signed to provide the potential employer access to medical records. Frankly IMHO unless there is an issue of needing to discuss accommodation, my medical history is not anyone’s business except my healthcare providers, DH and myself unless I choose to act differently. I am only speaking for privacy laws in the US. Hope this helps!

            1. Kuododi*

              Woops again… actually had it right the first time…need more coffee!!!! And maybe chocolate!!!!

    8. also anon for this*

      I am being honest because you asked: your speeding ticket or anything legal re: parents wouldn’t matter at all. The hospitalizing would depend on the circumstances of it (was it voluntary or not) and if you were up front about it and the reasoning. If it was voluntary and you were, than it would not be an issue. If it was involuntary it would depend on the circumstances. If you did not mention it and we found out on our own it would be an issue. The leaving the job off your history would mean we wouldn’t move ahead with your candidacy. I hope this is not the case for the job you applied for and my fingers are crossed for you.

    9. Natalie*

      Since a couple of people have mentioned leaving the short job off your job history, just to clarify: a resume and a job history are different things. When you say you left the 1 month job off your resume, do you mean the nice 1-2 page marketing document that highlights specific aspects of your career? If so, it would be a very unusual industry that expected that document to include every job you’ve every had.

      If you left the 1 month job off of the background history information form, that is a problem as those forms are supposed to be exhaustive. In that case, I would contact them as soon as possible and say you left it off by mistake, as that is better than them finding a job that you didn’t disclose.

      1. extra anon today*

        Yes, there is a separate place in the BG check paperwork for listing employers. They want all my history for ten years, so I have temp and part time gigs as well that are not on my resume that I will now include on this paperwork, so I’m not really worried about this part anymore. Thank you.

    10. Anonfornow*

      I have experience in the background check industry, and I can assure you that almost NO screenings will find your hospitalization issues. Also, the FCRA strictly forbids using things like mental health (a protected disability) as a reason for not hiring someone. Many many people leave jobs off of resumes, and if the job was substantial, most companies will call you to reconcile that missing information. There are exceptions and workaround to a lot of these rules, but they require a lot of knowledge of how your potential employer runs their checks. In my experience, the VAST majority of employers, including very high profile, high paying positions, would not care to see that information even if it was found. You’re likely just fine.

      1. Shadow*

        Depends on how in depth the interviews are. If they’re like personal reference checks a two most jobs you’re right, but if it’s interviews conducted by an investigator for security clearnance type jobs those are far more in depth. Generally those types of investigators are looking for character, credibility, ethics, and honesty and issues in those areas can be a huge deal.

    11. Susan K*

      You probably don’t have anything to worry about. A standard background check will involve checking for arrests, possibly a credit check, and possibly verifying previous employment. What else they are looking for depends on what type of job this is. The fact that they are interviewing people you know might mean that they will be looking deeper than a standard background check.

      – The speeding ticket will not be an issue (if it were, they would have a hard time hiring anyone).

      – Leaving the job without notice will probably not be an issue. Another commenter used the term “ghosting” but my read of your question is not that you “ghosted” but that you quit on the spot instead of giving advance notice, and that your employer didn’t have a problem with that because you were in a probationary period.

      – The hospitalizations may or may not be an issue, depending on the circumstances and the job. If these were voluntary hospitalizations, it is unlikely that they will even find out. Background checks do not normally include medical records, and if they did, you would have to provide explicit permission for your records to be released. If you were involuntarily hospitalized by law enforcement, they may find a record of that. However, if they are going to care about something like that, they probably would have asked you about it on the application.

      – Your parents’ legal infractions will not be held against you.

      – Leaving a short-term job off your resume will almost certainly be fine. You are not required or expected to include every job you’ve ever had on your resume. However, if they asked you to list every job you’ve ever had (or every job in the last X years) on the application and you left it off, that could be a problem. When they look at your employment history, they are usually more concerned about making sure you actually had every job you said you had.

      – Pretty much the only thing that is an automatic failure on a background check is being caught in a lie. If the background check turns up anything that directly contradicts a statement you made on the application or in the interview, you’re done. If they didn’t ask about it, though, they will probably either not care or give you a chance to explain.

      1. Former Retail Manager*

        My comment disappeared into thin air, but says mostly the same as Susan K. The only thing I’d add is regarding the parent’s infractions. If a family member has a felony for a white collar crime, such as embezzlement, and you are being hired for a position requiring access to funds/accounting info/fiduciary duties, etc. it would be relevant. As long as you have disclosed it or disclose it when they ask you, then I think you should be okay. Also, if you haven’t already disclosed it, they may never know. To my knowledge, the family member would have to provide explicit permission for their own background to be checked by the hiring agency. Perhaps if this is a super high level federal job, it may be different. Also, part of this process is typically an interview with you, after they have gathered all of the info they deem necessary, where you will be offered an opportunity to address/provide more info about anything they find “concerning” or just want more info about.

        My source: Current federal employee. I went through a similar background check, but mine was performed by an independent third party contractor, not a police department. Good luck! Try not to stress.

    12. Former Retail Manager*

      I am a federal employee and our background checks are similar. I can assure you that they likely won’t find out about the job you left off your resume. As for your parent’s legal infractions… either a felon? If so, do those felonies relate to what you may be doing. For example, a job in accounting or with access to funds, and mom served time for embezzlement?

      As for the mental illness, that really depends on the nature of the job to which you are applying. If the job is considered law enforcement, then yes, it matters. If you’re going to be a clerical employee or something like that, then probably not. Also, while health records are typically confidential, the nature of the background check they’re performing tells me that they may be able to get that information. I don’t know that for sure though.

      Part of the investigation is also typically an interview with you, in which they will give you an opportunity to explain/address anything they uncovered for which they need additional facts or deem to be “concerning.” Above all, be completely honest. If you were hospitalized for depression that is now well controlled with medication and therapy, tell them that, point blank.

      Good luck!!!

    13. Not So NewReader*

      If I had to guess, based on what you say here you are probably fine.
      I have no idea why these checks take so long, unless the company hired it out and there is a waiting list that the vendor must drill down through.
      A criminal background check comes from the national database. Your parents infractions will not be on your record NOR should those infractions be on THEIR record. The database is concerned about misdemeanors and felonies. Infractions are very tame by comparison and no one cares. Your speeding ticket should not come up on the record either. From the sounds of it your record will show “No information found”. Which is a good thing.

      I hope this story helps a little. My husband volunteered to talk to someone regarding a friend of his for the purpose of a background check. It took the checker forever to call, we almost forgot that hubby had known about it. Finally the checker called. The questions were not hard, nor probing. The “toughest” question the checker asked was, “Do you trust this person?” Wisely, my husband answered, “He has a key to our house.” With that the checker said, “I’m good here. Thank you. Have a good night.”

    14. Intel Analyst Shell*

      Fingerprints will ONLY return arrests. They will not return traffic citations, being civilly committed, something your parents did, etc. I work in law enforcement and manage the retained fingerprint application system for our employees (we retain these prints until employment is terminated but yours will most likely not be). Your hospitalization for mental illness could show up if it was an involuntary commitment (i.e. the police responded) but if not I don’t think they’d be able to find. I would suggest cleaning up or making any social media you have private, it’s probably the first place I start my background checks after fingerprints.

    15. Student*

      Just don’t lie. You’ll likely be asked to fill out a separate questionnaire for the background check that covers things like job history. On that, include your full job history, following the form instructions (would be typical for it to instruct you to leave off jobs from more than X years ago, or less than Y duration).

      Your resume us a marketing document, not an autobiography, so the difference won’t raise red flags. If they ask about it, just answer – you had a job, but since it was brief/unrelated to this job you applied for, you left it off your resume to make room for more relevant info.

      The mental illness thing is likely something they’ll ask about. Just answer honestly. They may want contact info for the main treating doctor if it’s recent, and you might be asked to sign a document allowing your medical info to be handed to the investigators. That stuff won’t go to your co-workers or boss, it’ll go to the background investigators who are usually bound by a set of rules (should be provided to you in that document you’re asked to sign).

      It’s almost always not a deal-breaker to have a mental illness in a background check. It’d be an issue if you lied about it. It’d be an issue if your former doctor thought you posed a serious ongoing public risk – which is not an issue with most mental illnesses, nor an issue with mental illnesses that are well-controlled with medication and/or therapy. If you’re schizophrenic, that’s fine – if you’re schizophrenic and refuse to treat it, though, that’s likely to get you rejected.

    16. Kuododi*

      I have had background checks run on me repeatedly. I am in the US and it is SOP if one is applying to work in any capacity with children. (volunteer or paid staff). What I was told was that the check would look into my criminal background to see if there was anything which would lead to my being considered a safety risk dealing with kids. (Worst offense I have is the occasional speeding ticket!) When I worked on contract with the military and was going to be helping with some summer camps for military kids I was fingerprinted and investigated. Noone ever looked into questions involving medical/mental health history and frankly I have never heard of family members being investigated in the course of a background check. (Routine disclaimer….my experience is the mental health field in SE USA. I don’t pretend to have all the answers to all industry practice and I certainly don’t presume to speak for policies outside of USA.). Hope this helps. Best wishes!

    17. Jerry Vandesic*

      Some great advice above about the thoroughness of the background checks.

      But my advice is a bit different: keep looking for a new job while the background check is happening. Twelve weeks is a long time. You might find something better, or (in the worst case), if you fail the background check you aren’t back starting from square one. On the other hand, if the background check goes well and you haven’t found a better job, then you are all set; no foul.

      Also, if you have a current job, do not give notice until the background check is complete and your offer becomes unconditional. If that means your new employer would have to wait a bit longer for you to start, then they have to wait a bit longer.

  17. Kendall*

    This is probably not a big deal, but I wanted to get a second opinion on whether it’s worth bringing up.
    We recently got a new general manager, who is my boss. While he’s made it clear that he values me, thinks I’m a great employee, etc. he does something that really bothers me. He tells me how to perform really obvious tasks on the computer as if I don’t already know them. For example:

    “Hey, can you copy and paste that link into an email and send it to me? To paste it, you can use CTRL + V.”
    “If you double click between those columns in excel, it’ll expand any columns that aren’t wide enough.”
    “Can you sort this list alphabetically for me? To do that, you can click the filter in the column and choose the A to Z option.”

    It drives me nuts! Most of the things he tells me I’ve known since I was in middle school or high school. Additionally, I took many business computer classes in college in which I learned how to do things much more challenging than the things he tells me how to do. Is there a way to tell him that he doesn’t need to instruct me how to perform simple tasks on the computer without sounding snobby, or should I just let it go? For context, I’m a 24 y.o. woman, and he’s a man in his early 50s.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      I think I’d try to reply right in the moment in a puzzled or joking way. Next time he does it, laugh as if startled and say, “you know that I know how to use internet shortcuts, right?” in a light way. Try not to sound hostile or annoyed.

    2. yup*

      There are so many people that do not know the basics of Excel or keyboard shortcuts that he probably thinks he is being helpful. I would just say, “Hey, I’ve actually taken a lot of Excel and computer classes and can perform quite a few tasks with it. I’ll let you know if I need help, but you can assume I know how to do everything I need in this role, unless I tell you otherwise. Thanks again for the assistance, but I am good!”

    3. Anita-ita*

      mansplaining! Or maybe he’s new to learning them and wants to let everyone else know how to do it (maybe he thinks its a new thing?)

      If someone does this to me, I always tell them I know how to do that. Or you could always say something like, “oh yea that shortcut is great! been using it for years”

      “Excel does so much cool stuff, glad I learned that short cut in middle school”

      “Yes, I know how to sort alphabetically using that shortcut.”

    4. Myrin*

      Is this happening in writing or verbally?
      Verbally, I’d say you can just say in the moment and with a friendly tone that you already know that – do that often enough and he’ll probably get it on his own.
      In writing, you can probably do that once but I think it would sound somewhat awkward to basically end every email with some sort of “btw I already knew that” – in that case, it might be better to say something about the overall situation like “You probably don’t realise it but you keep telling me how to do tasks that I’ve actually known about for a really long time. It’s very kind of you but please don’t feel like you have to tell me such things – even if I don’t know, I know where to look it up” or something similar.

      1. Kendall*

        It’s happening verbally. I’m always hesitant to push back at work, or say anything that might mildly offend someone, so it’s hard for me to say something. Obviously, a friendly tone like you mentioned though would soften the message.

    5. Murphy*

      OMG, that would annoy the crap out of me. I’d probably just say something like, “Yup! I’m familiar with Excel, I got it!”

    6. Ama*

      It sounds to me like either he’s previously had reports that need extra help or he’s still trying to figure out the line between providing helpful info and micromanaging when delegating (this is something I’ve struggled with as a new manager). You could maybe say something like “You really don’t need to type up all those extra instructions when you ask me to do things — I’m pretty good with computers and if there’s anything I can’t figure out on my own I’ll definitely let you know.” Make it seem more like you’re trying to save HIM extra work rather than letting on that it’s driving you crazy.

      1. Kendall*

        He actually transferred from a nearby branch of our company, and I happen to know that the individual at THAT branch who is in my role, was previously a warehouse worker who worked his way up (not to say that warehouse workers can’t have excel/computer knowledge, but it’s somewhat likely that that’s the case), so I think you may be onto something!

        The manager’s comments are usually verbal, though, so it’d probably have to be something I say in the moment next time he makes a comment!

        1. Tabby Baltimore*

          I think you’ve found your answer here (the former warehouse worker) but you might also ask him whether he has young-ish children at home. I know I developed a habit of over-explaining instructions, b/c as the kids got older, they’d say “Mom, I *know* how to do this!” And I’d apologize, and say something like “I’m sorry, I didn’t know you knew.” So, yeah, I’m with everyone else who’s suggesting you let your boss know in the kindest way possible that he doesn’t have to use time to provide a how-to along with the directive. My kids let me know pretty directly: “Mom, you don’t have to explain everything; just tell me what you want, and I’ll do it!”

    7. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

      I’d ask him why he’s giving you the 101 instructions.

      There a lot of reasons he could be doing this. From past incompetent employees to a need to be micromanaging and overbearing. Chance are he either is doing it out of habit (for some reason) or he doesn’t realize he’s doing it.

      Either way, his answer will clue you in to what you are working with.

      1. Anony*

        Yeah, I would just ask why he is explaining basic computer instructions. Either it took him a while to learn these things or he worked with someone previously who needed these instructions. Once he is clued in to the fact that you know this stuff he should stop or at least back off some. It might be a hard habit to break depending on how long he has done it.

    8. JennyAnn*

      I offer a random tip back, like it’s an exchange of trivia.
      “To paste it, you can use CTRL + V.”
      “Yes, and CTRL+Z is an Undo shortcut. Aren’t they lifesavers?”
      The important thing is to say it in a genuinely good-natured tone – don’t let it sound sarcastic or snappy (even if it’s irritating, which I know can be difficult). My last couple of jobs I’ve been in the significantly younger age range of a lot of my coworkers/supervisors, and I have a fairly cutesy personality (I’ll admit to it), so I get a lot of comments like this.

      1. Kendall*

        I like that idea! Thanks! I, too, am significantly younger than all of my coworkers, so I struggle to pushback/say anything that could mildly offend someone.

    9. Kendall*

      I should mention, I do feel like this is partially my fault. When he first started here, he asked me how comfortable I was with excel (although he makes obvious comments on things outside excel, too) on a 1-5 scale. I was about to say “at least a 4”, but he jumped in before I could say anything and said “5 being you’re a programmer.” I immediately thought, well, no, I’m not a programmer, so instead I said “well, I don’t know how to program, but I feel like I’m pretty competent in Excel” which was possibly an undersell that’s causing all of his comments now.

      1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

        I hate those questions, but I ask them myself in interviews. The spread of knowledge for Excel is huge.

        I use a 1-10 scale; 1- I’ve never heard of Excel and 10- I designed the program for Microsoft.

        Once someone gives me a number I’ll throw out a few questions and ask them what their favorite tool in the program is. If someone says vlookup or pivot tables I know they are pretty comfortable, visual basic and macros and they are fairly advanced, if they look at me with a deer in headlights look I’ll know I have a newbie on my hands.

        Based on your comment, here I’d just work it into a conversation with him that based on his tips it sounds like you undersold your competency and let him know that you are comfortable with Excel and are well versed in the functionality he’s describing, but if there’s something you don’t know you’ll either google or ask.

        1. Anony*

          Especially since you don’t know what you don’t know! I used to think I was great with excel and then I discovered macros and realized just how much excel can do. I have started responding with “It depends. What do you need me to do in excel?”

          1. KK*

            Totally agree! I knew I wouldn’t be expected to do anything super challenging in Excel, so I should have just made it clear that he could be confident in my abilities despite saying, “5 being a programmer.” Haha.

    10. Lucky*

      Really depends on your relationship with your boss. Mine is pretty friendly/joke-y, and we’re much closer in age. Yesterday he asked me what physical address we use for operations in a foreign country and I told him something like “I think we use our law firm’s address in X city, but Wakeen could tell you for sure.” Then he asked “can you send me that address?” and I replied “do you mean, can I Google Law Firm + City?” He said “oh, yeah” and walked away sheepishly.

    11. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      I have explained how to do every single example you listed to one coworker or another during the year I’ve worked here because they legit didn’t know. And these are all people who have been working jobs using computers for 20+ years. It’s entirely possible that he’s used to working with people that seriously don’t know these basic things. I’d be comfortable telling him that I know the basic stuff and that you’ll ask if you don’t know how to use the program to do something that he’s asking.

    12. Middle School Teacher*

      I think part of it is as other people said, he’s used to working with people who don’t know what they’re doing. I wonder if another part of it is to show you that he does know what he’s doing? Like, he doesn’t want you to think that he’s excel-inept because he’s older?

      1. Kendall*

        “Like, he doesn’t want you to think that he’s excel-inept because he’s older?”

        I do suspect this could be part of it. Our old GM (who the new GM knows) was around his age and COMPLETELY inept in excel, and really anything computer related (ex: he had no idea you could select only a certain page or range of pages to print in a 1,000 page document, and ended up printing the whole thing.)

    13. Not So NewReader*

      This is one of those things that if you see it once or twice, speak right up.

      If your relationship is basically friendly, then I would say something like “I am into the environmental stuff, you know, saving energy and whatnot. I am good with copy/paste and numerous other computer tricks, so it really is okay if you do not explain them. This would free up time/energy for other stuff, too. I promise I will ask if there is something I am not clear on.”

    14. Jessica Fletcher*

      I had kind of a similar dynamic with my older boss for a while when I first started my job (not with technological stuff, but just in general). I did what a lot of people here suggested and worked on replying with things like, “Yup, I got this!” and “Yeah, that’s what I was thinking, too,” in a friendly and upbeat tone of voice. I think that, along with us getting to know each other a little better and him realizing that I am competent and will ask if I have questions, made a difference.

      It did drive me crazy at first! So the other thing I worked on was trying to reframe it in my mind. Like your boss, my boss was clear that he valued me and thought I was doing a great job. So I knew it wasn’t that he didn’t think I was capable, and that helped. I told myself that he just wanted to help me succeed and was offering helpful tips to make my job easier. When he did things like tell me to drive safely on my commute home (in clear weather, on non-busy roads), I would reply, “You too!” and remind myself that I would rather have a boss who cares about my personal safety than not. There are still occasionally times when I sometimes have to take a deep breath before replying, but things are overall much better.

  18. Work from home tips?*

    I’m about to start working from home at least one day a week, and I was wondering what tips the commentariat had in order to stay productive. I’m concerned I’ll be working and see a shiny object and… Fire away!

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Don’t work in your jammies. Get up, shower, get dressed, and ready for the work day. When I work at home I’ll still wear comfy clothes like leggings or yoga pants (because, hey, that’s one of the benefits), but I still go thru my morning routine (minus makeup) and prepare to start working.

      I’ve had to get up a couple of times for a call at 5AM or some other ungodly hour, and for those, and a few times, I’ve started working after they were done, and then the next thing I knew it was noon and I was still in PJ’s.

      1. MissMaple*

        Yeah, I agree. I definitely have to go through my morning routine, even if I pare it way down to work from home (no makeup, hair to air dry, comfy close) to feel like I’m ready to start work. Then I make sure my work area is set up in a way that isn’t ambiguous. I don’t sit in the same place set up the same way unless I’m working. Even if you don’t have an office, I was able to use my kitchen table successfully by getting a special chair pad and sitting facing a different way than I do when sitting at the table in non-work mode. Enjoy :)

      2. Wendy Darling*

        I dress for work with the exception of shoes: I work from home in slippers. But I still get up and brush my teeth and do my hair and dress like I’m going out into the world because it puts me in the right headspace.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      Meant to add that when I go through the routine of preparing for the work day, I feel more focused and I’m more productive.

    3. [insert witty user name here]*

      Make sure you have a quiet, dedicated space for work. Sit at an actual desk and, if possible and available to you, use an extra monitor and a real keyboard and mouse. Make it as close to your set up at your work desk as possible. Don’t leave the TV or music on in the background (unless that would be similar to your office setup). Don’t leave any chores to do around the house from the night before (oh, I’ll clean up these dishes tomorrow on a break!) until you get used to working from home and know you can keep it to a short 5-10 min break and DEFINITELY don’t leave any fun stuff lying around!

      1. [insert witty user name here]*

        Also – make yourself a task list in the office the day before you work from home with several concrete tasks. That way, you can check your productivity until you get more in the swing of working from home.

        Make sure if you live with anyone, they will not be distracting you (exceptions: the occasional dog belly rub or cat snuggle. Best work from home benefit EVER!)

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          And if you do have a cat, you may need to employ the following strategy:

          Take out some papers. Pretend to read them. Wait until your cat lies on them. Then get out your actual work materials…

          1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

            Hah… I once got busted because of my cat. He had a super loud purr and I’d never been questioned about it. One day I was on a call and one of the guys said ‘hey, what’s that rumbling sound? Does anyone else hear it?’ My boss laughed and said ‘Oh, that’s probably Ello’s cat I think she’s working from home today’. They both laughed and the first guy asked how big the cat was and if that was a normal sound that he was making :)

            1. Work from home tips?*

              This is my fear! One of my dogs gets uppity if ignored and will “talk” to me. Given Murphy, it will likely happen when I have a Meeting and not just a meeting.

              1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

                Well I can only tell you to make sure you’re on mute if you yell at him. Gather round kiddies, super duper embarrassing story time!

                I was on a call with about 10 other people and I had a new puppy at home. I went to join the call, but before I did, I noted that puppy and cats (3) were all quietly snoozing on the porch. I go into the office and start the call. About 15 min in all hell breaks loose on the porch. The cats have the puppy cornered, she’s crying and barking, the cats are hissing and growling, in other words mayhem.

                The porch was an add on so the office windows actually open to the porch, so I put myself on mute and start yelling at all of them through the window trying to get the cats away from the puppy. Only, my mute button didn’t work. So here I am swearing and yelling to all of my coworkers, who are laughing hysterically and trying to figure out what on earth is happening. OMG I wanted to curl up and die!

                Luckily this wasn’t a Meeting(TM) but just a meeting, however there were some high level people on it. It was never brought up to me again (Thank goodness!) So.. if it does happen, my advice is to drop from the meeting, deal with your dog, and then claim technical glitch when you rejoin!

                Oh, and NEVER TRUST THE MUTE BUTTON, IT LIES!!!

                1. Ramona Flowers*

                  Oh now this is funny. I think I’ve told these stories on here before but while working from home as a journalist I did phone interviews…

                  – with a Canadian politician while walking around with a catnip mouse on a stick as playing was insisted upon (I was recording the call)

                  – with someone from the OED while holding a bag of cat poo as I had to empty the litter tray RIGHT THEN to prevent my kneecap being shredded

              2. LAI*

                Yes! My dog is needy and will bark at everything. I rarely have to skype in from home but when I do, I give him a bone and close him in another room until it’s over.

            2. copy run start*

              My cat will be passed out in another room until the phone rings…. then it’s MEOW MEOW MEOW to the world! If allowed he’ll get in my lap and nuzzle the bottom of the phone where the speaker is. I have to make sure he’s in another room with the door shut to take work calls at home.

              Once a client called me direct (not how it’s supposed to work in my case) with an issue and I assumed unknown number = scam call, so I answered without putting him up. Had to interrupt the troubleshooting to put the cat away because he started to howl for attention in the background. Absolutely mortifying.

          2. All the Words*

            Why have I never thought of this? Many attempts at grading student papers get thwarted by a cuddly cat claiming them as her own.

            1. Ramona Flowers*

              I also have to have two chairs at my desk, because the one I’m using will be stolen any time I get up.

            2. Windchime*

              I solved the cat problem by making a little bed for him right on the desk next to my keyboard. It’s just a folded piece of fleece with a sheet of tissue paper over it, but he loves it and it keeps him from walking over my keyboard. He still demands to sit on my lap periodically, but he will settle down on the tissue-paper-bed eventually.

          3. Amber T*

            I bring two sets of pens and notebooks home. I take the first set out, doodle on notebook 1, then innocently place them down next to me. Pens get chased and notebook gets sat on/chewed on. Real pens and notebook comes out for real work. (This works about 50% of the time.)

      2. Emmie*

        I second the chores comment, and the dedicated space. I work exclusively from home. I must have all of my chores done the night before otherwise I am tempted to do them. I also have a dedicated location to do work. If you work from home more often, I recommend getting an ergonomic set up – but it is not necessary for one day per week. One of my biggest current challenge is turning work off for the day. I did not have that problem when I worked from home only one day per week.

    4. Anony*

      I find it most helpful to plot out what I need to get done that day. I am not hourly, so if I write down the goals then I can make up the work if I get distracted in the middle of the day. For me, sometimes this means I don’t really get started until noon and work until 8, but that is ok because the work got done.

    5. Summer Sun*

      Don’t advertise your WFH ability to friends/extended family, and manage the expectations of the other members of your household. Being at home during the day doesn’t mean I can play phone tag with the repairman for my brother, or let my mom have her signature-required packages shipped to my house since “I’m just sitting there anyway”. My husband knows that I attend meetings via Skype, and if he happens to be home, he cannot play music or TV in the house during that time.

      I learned this the hard way. My husband was home sick, and extremely tired and cranky. He started blasting a profane stand-up comedy special while I was on a conference call with my professor. I had to frantically mute the phone and scream at him to turn it off, as people cackled on the line. I’m just glad it was school and not work!

      1. Emmie*

        Hahah! I agree about advertising the WFH status to others. I’ve occasionally been asked to pick up someone’s kids from school (I cannot), or pestered because I did not have dinner ready for a former fiance (hello, I am working!)

      2. Former Retail Manager*

        OMG YES!! My household is multi-generational and includes my 72 year old mother who thinks that working from home means I can chit chat with her throughout the day, take long lunches and go to the mall in the middle of the day. Ummmm, NO! And then my daughter gets home from school before my workday is over and wants to chat about her day/homework/etc. I’m glad companies offer it, but it’s not for everyone. Despite my best efforts at managing expectations, I have opted to simply go into the office and basically forget about working from home for this and other reasons.

    6. Ramona Flowers*

      Keep an eye on the time as it’s easy to get hyper focused and forget to eat or take breaks. And no TV during work time!

    7. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

      My advice is a little counter intuitive. When I first started working from home I found that I felt guilty for doing things like eating lunch, getting up from my laptop, or logging off on time.

      I was worried that people would think I’m slacking if I didn’t answer an IM or email immediately. The day that I finally figured it out was when I was starving and didn’t have anything to eat in my house. I was going to just ignore it because I felt guilty walking a couple of blocks to grab a quick bite. I thought… this is stupid if I were in the office I would run out to grab lunch, why would it be different here.

      Also echo what others have said, get showered and dressed, observe normal start and stop times, I don’t use a desk, but I have a ‘work setup’ that includes a large monitor, keyboard, etc. and a space that is private and not shared with people doing other activities. I used to keep the tv on for background, but now have more calls so it’s easier to keep it off (same with music).

      I have a love/hate relationship with working from home. I love the flexibility, but sometimes hate that it’s not quite setup as well my office.

    8. Samata*

      I echo what others have said about getting up and getting dressed and ready – even if it’s just into comfy clothes that aren’t PJ’s.
      I kept the TV on in the background with a show I didn’t care about at a low volume or talk radio. It actually helped my focus because there were voices and not stunned silence in the background – similar to work now. (that could vary on how you are set up at work though)

      Also, because I have a more flexible schedule I’ve found other things that helped were getting up early, checking email, taking a break to make my coffee and have breakfast and then starting my day. I also made myself go outside to at least get the mail mid-day so I’d get some fresh air and out of the house a bit.

      Good luck working from home – it can be great if you get a good pattern/routine down!

    9. Lady By The Lake*

      What everyone else has said, except — I sometimes find that without the background ambient noise of phones ringing or other people talking in the office, I get antsy. I often play NPR or music very softly just to give myself some quient background sounds. Keeps me focused.

    10. NeverNicky*

      I can only echo everybody else. Getting dressed is key (although I sometimes do an hour in jimjams if my partner has been dithering and hogging the bathroom).
      Plan your day – and put in lunch breaks, tea breaks and don’t be afraid to take them (voicemail on!)
      Don’t feel you need to be more productive than in the office and strain for that – the extra productivity will come
      If you can, work the hours that suit you best – be that an early start, two sessions with a long lunch, burning the midnight oil
      Don’t do chores unless it’s in your scheduled breaks (and stop when your break is up!)
      Don’t have social media, WhatsApp etc open apart from breaks (I wish I could stick to this but social media is part of my job!)

    11. Former Retail Manager*

      Maybe not so much a productivity tip, but basically be honest with yourself regarding your productivity or lack thereof. I can’t tell if this is your first ever WFH gig or just your first time with this employer. I know so many people love it and swear they’re productive. I’m not one of them. I am HORRIBLE. Brief repetitive tasks are fine, but anything requiring in-depth analysis and work just doesn’t happen when I’m at home. I need that separation. I now work at home a few times a year. My position has the option to work at home full-time if one so desired. If you realize that you’ve done everything you can and just aren’t productive, be honest with yourself. I’ve just known so many people who aren’t honest with themselves and it has eventually come back to bite them in one form or another.

    12. Windchime*

      Wow, everyone else is so disciplined about getting up and dressed. I should probably try that. I work from home one day a week and I love it. I usually start the day on the couch in my pajamas while I’m drinking tea. After an hour or two, I get dressed and change to the computer in my (home) office area. That computer has dual monitors and a better setup. The nature of my job means it’s OK to step away occasionally so I usually do laundry on WFH day. My boss does ask that, when we step away, we put a brief notice on Skype (“brb 5 mins” or “lunch, back around 1pm” is enough).

      I would say I’m more productive on my WFH day because the interruptions are fewer. I can get into the deep-focus state more easily. Sometimes I turn on music but mostly I like it quiet.

  19. BF*

    I work in a niche field that is slowly going away due to Federal budget cuts. I have done a lot of project management but all the jobs seem to want experience managing in their field. Any advice on how to present my resume to a wider audience?

    1. MissMaple*

      I’d start by looking at the keyword they use in the postings and seeing how you can address them with your own experience. For example, you may not have done X in the field, but you’ve done similar in your field, so make sure it’s worded similarly in your resume so the person reading can see the similarity. I’d also make sure to write a strong cover letter where you can really dig into why your experience is applicable. Good luck!

    2. Aly_b*

      I’m currently trying to hire a project manager from one of several niche fields adjacent to mine so there definitely are people who want this, if it helps at all. I would emphasize industry experience and general familiarity with particular types of project team roles, technical terminology, etc,

  20. Lil Fidget*

    Urgh, it has been SO HARD for me this week not to resign, although I don’t have anything lined up yet (I’ve been searching for months and came really close a few times, which is only adding to my sense of senioritis). I really think it might be better for me and the company for me to quit at this point – after five years I’ve completely lost my enthusiasm for the work , and I’m worried my bad attitude will be noticed. I’m even having trouble motivating myself to job search because everything just seems like more hard work and misery. However, I’m aware that this would be a stupid thing to do – quit with nothing lined up, what would I do for insurance, what if I didn’t find something for a lot longer than I anticipate. I am afraid my boss will pull me aside to ask about my changed attitude and it will all come spilling out. (And before anyone suggests a vacation, I just got back from a week off over the holidays!).

    1. Hildegard Von Bingen*

      When you get to the point you’re at on the job, a vacation probably won’t help, because you know you’ll have to return to something you really don’t like.

      Keep looking for another job. Be relentless about it. Make that your job – finding another job. The fact that you came really close a couple of times is a great sign! So keep looking. If you need help getting motivated, maybe see a counselor. It helps to be able to talk about your feelings – but NOT with your boss, if your feelings are negative and you don’t see a way forward to resolving your work issues and staying in place.

      You need to separate emotionally from the job and start focusing on your own needs and how to get them met. At this point, do your job adequately and put your energy into moving on. You sound as if you’re mired in a sense of helplessness. But you’re not helpless. Find someone to talk to about this, someone outside of work. And KEEP LOOKING!

      Best wishes. Please hang in there. You can do it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Work for your resume as opposed to working for your company.
      This means try to work in such a manner that you can add things to your resume or you do things that you can share with an interviewer. So instead of begrudging task X, tell yourself, “Oh this might be interview material. I will see if I can streamline/simplify/coordinate/whatever task X so that how I handled it will look great on an interview or resume.” Stop working for the company and work for your own betterment.

      1. SebbyGrrl*

        Building on No So News input.

        When I was at job I had to stay in where I could not improve the situation I focused on tiny things days to day.

        I got a good parking space today, winning!

        I worked on being extra kind to others and noticing that that made me feel better, gave me energy and dexterity to jump back to work I couldn’t succeed at and coworkers who…weren’t good for me.

        That’s when I found AAM and ready it daily revived me, at least it wasn’t only me!

        I thank myself for little things like eating well, getting out of the house, being on time (good job, You!) thanking the computer for not freezing, being grateful someone’s email was kind, just noticing all the teeny good stuff and calling it to my own attention.

        These may sound small and silly but small patches of brightness saved me, kept me moving a few more paces beyond where I thought I could get on any given day.

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        Work for your resume as opposed to working for your company.

        This is the only thing that kept me sane when I was stuck working at Evil Law Firm. I volunteered to do just about everything in that place so I could have a wide breadth of experience to put on my resume. To them, it looked like I cared about my job and the firm (I didn’t), and to the next place that ended up hiring me, it made me look like a rockstar. I ended up getting a new job with the latter company making about 31% more than what I was making at Evil Law Firm – if I had let my negative experience with that place dictate my work ethic, I never would have been hired into something better.

  21. Pierre*

    Hi there, I’m about to take on the greatest challenege of my career!

    I became a project manager 5 years ago after 10 years as a software developer, all within the same company. I built my project team from scratch by “stealing” some developers from other teams and recruiting others joining the company.

    Five weeks ago, I have accepted a project manager job in a different company. This job is in a different industry and comes with a huge salary increase. This position became available because the programme manager left the company, and the project manager took his role. I will therefore replace this project manager, who is the person I will report to.

    Do you have any advice about project manager joining a company and having to lead an existing team? As I have built my current team from the scratch and at a slow pace over the years, this is something I find daunting so I want to be sure it all goes smoothly right from the beginning.

    For example, I was thinking about bringing a box of biscuits on my starting day, leaving it on my desk and invite people via email to come help themselves so that we can introduce each other and have a chat. Or arranging a one-on-one meeting with all the people in my team so as to find out about their skills, experience, aspirations, pet peeves, etc. Are those good or bad ideas?

    Many thanks in advance for your wisdom and advice!

    1. Shesellsseashells*

      Admin assistants. They know everything. Learn all their names, and say hello to everyone.
      And if you can, offer ‘stretch assignments’ .

      1. Amber O.*

        Ditto to this. Admins can definitely make integration into the new office easier, and they know the ins & outs of the office better than anyone else since they typically have a wide scope of support.

    2. Undine*

      For me, the box of biscuits is off-putting. It emphasizes the care-taking, parenting aspect of the role over the professional one. The one-on-one might be good, but don’t ask directly about their pet peeves, especially since you don’t know who the square pegs are and you don’t want to imply you’ll fix things that are unfixable. Not coming in the first day and saying, “From now on we’re going to use AgileScrumWaterfallKanban with pictures of pigs and chickens on everyone’s desk” is a plus. Of course change happens, but it doesn’t have to happen the first minute.

      I don’t think it’s all that different from getting to know people as an engineer, only with a higher-level focus.

    3. Media Monkey*

      listen a lot (more than you talk) and hold off on imposing your way of doing things before hearing and understanding why they do things the way they do. then i’d suggest speaking to them individually to find out concerns/ needs/ ambitions etc.

      good luck!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Keep your word. Even if you do X and it tanks, go back to the person and say you did it but it did not work out. Keep your word about everything.

    5. copy run start*

      Scratch the food, comes off wrong to me. (Reminds me of a certain disliked VP from an old job of mine who would go to branch offices and sit in the break room with a platter, then send an email telling us to come down and visit them.) Instead of trying to get people to come to you, why not make it a point to go to them? Ensure you’ve spoken with all of your team members by the end of your first 1-2 days, but do the in-depth one-on-ones in a few weeks when you’ve broken the ice with them.

      1. serena*

        I agree with this! I been through starts with several new managers, and there was only one who scheduled one-on-ones. He was by far the best. People were a little nervous about the meetings, since he scheduled them even with people who reported to him on a secondary basis (i.e. he managed their managers). He asked what we did and what we thought could help us do our jobs better. I am sure it helped give him the lay of the land, and it made everyone else feel more comfortable talking with him. He just send calendar appointments to everyone for 20-30 minute blocks. If your environment is more casual, you could invite people to have coffee or a beer off site. Honestly, I would suspect that these one-on-ones would be the best use of your time in the first week or so on the job.

  22. Foreign Octopus*

    Has anyone used Skrill before? I’m using it for the first time this month because PayPal still hasn’t verified my account. I’m a bit nervous about it and wonder if any of us have previous experience with it.

    1. Turkletina*

      I don’t have an account, but my company does use it to pay people (for casual, usually one-off tasks). It’s reputable and works in basically the same way as PayPal. The fee to withdraw to a bank account is pretty steep, though. It’s a flat fee, so you’re best off making one big withdrawal when you need the cash instead of withdrawing every time money comes in.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Thank you.

        I was worried about its reputability because I’m only familiar with PayPal. It’s comforting to know that your company uses it.

  23. Morning Glory*

    Suggested language on how to gently tell someone to stop sending so many requests?

    Our team went down an admin, and those of us remaining divided the list of people she supported until a new person is hired. One manager who is new to my list has always been notoriously high-maintenance and rude, sending requests for little things that most staff members do themselves. Our org has defined expectations for the level of support each title gets, but she ignores this.

    My supervisor has already sent an email around letting everyone know that our bandwidth is limited until we hire a replacement. I am a non-exempt employee and our org has no budget for overtime, so this is really important to fulfil my responsibilities to the other people I support. Privately, my supervisor also told me to push back on unreasonable requests – which I have so far, on a one-by-one basis, like a request to review and sign a contract for her. Instead of saying ‘no’ twenty times a day, I would like to send an email about the pattern, and basically ask her to stop sending the requests in the first place. I was thinking of sending a note like the below, while cc-ing my supervisor.

    Does anyone have any suggestions to improve the language? This person is senior to both me and my supervisor, so I don’t want to alienate her.

    “Hi X,

    I wanted to send a quick note to manage expectations about the level of support I can provide, along with my other duties. I am happy to help with X and Y in a pinch, but this is not a standard part of my responsibilities, and I cannot handle these requests along with providing support for everyone else. This is particularly true until we replace Arya, as we have less admin bandwidth across the board. I would like to ask that you handle these tasks on your own rather than send them to me, unless extenuating circumstances make that impossible.

    Do you think this sounds reasonable? Please let me know if you have any concerns or about this, and we can discuss potential solutions.


    Morning Glory

    1. BadPlanning*

      Can you make it more straightforward? I feel like a busy senior person will sort of skim over and forget it.

      “Due to staffing changes, currently I can only help out with X or Y if it’s an emergency. The majority of requests will need to be prioritized through Boss. This will unfortunately continue until Ayra is replaced.”

      1. brrrr*

        I would also suggest referring her to the official policy.
        “Per the expectations for support laid out here I cannot provide support beyond x, y, and z. Any changes to that would need to be prioritized by Boss.”

        This also gives you something to point when manager is angrily complaining about not getting the support they’re used to.

      2. Morning Glory*

        I hear what you’re saying on length, and that’s a good point – I can try to shorten it. Issues are – there is no Boss to prioritize my work, and this is going to be a permanent change.

        Arya should have been pushing back on these requests all along, and now I am supporting a person who thinks it’s ok to request these things because Arya never protested (leading to performance problems for Arya). That’s one reason why I added in the padding language, but you are right that straightforward may be better.

        1. Snark*

          Then in which case, it gets even simpler. “Unfortunately, Boss has directed me not to provide support for X and Y, as limited administrative support bandwidth will make it impossible for us to assist with self-service tasks moving forward. Thanks for your understanding.”

          1. Morning Glory*

            I like that language, and it’s very matter-of-fact, but I want to clarify that my supervisor is also far junior to this manager – not an authority source that she would respect.

            1. Natalie*

              I might phrase it using the passive voice a bit more, then, and not allude to it being a change. “I’m afraid out department does not provide support for X and Y, as limited administrative support bandwidth makes it impossible for us to assist with self-service tasks.”

            2. Snark*

              That’s okay – junior or not, this is why Boss is your boss, and it’s 100% OK to let her deal with it. “I understand this is important to you, but I’ve been specifically directed not to provide support for self-service tasks, so you’ll have to contact Boss to determine how we’re going to prioritize this. Thanks!”

              And if Boss needs to run it further up the chain because she’s getting flak, she can and will.

              Also, always refer to X and Y as self-service tasks. It just underlines that she’s actually expected to do this herself, and that they are so defined by the org.

            3. Snark*

              Also….the thing is, she’s accustomed to browbeating people until they just do the Thing for them because it’s less of a hassle than dealing with her attitude, so you’re going to need to hammer on this repeatedly. Just keep blandly replying that you’ve been directed not to provide support for self-service tasks due to limited admin availability.

            4. Rusty Shackelford*

              my supervisor is also far junior to this manager – not an authority source that she would respect.

              But you’re not saying “You have to do this because my boss says so.” You’re saying “I have to do this because my boss says so.” It’s not your responsibility to negotiate with this manager.

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yep. One of the most useful things I learned in a business writing class is to not tell people that you want to tell them something (I want to send a note, I have to ask). Just tell them.

        Also, your note is unnecessarily apologetic, as if you were asking for something you didn’t really have the right to ask for. Your supervisor has already told this manager that these requests aren’t appropriate. All you need to do is send a reminder of what X has already been told to do.

    2. Reba*

      In this letter, you are implying that the reason for turning down her requests is because you are short staffed–suggesting that when you replace Arya you will take them again. (I know you also say “standard part of responsibilities,” but that’s the main impression I’m left with.) It’s like you’re asking her to wait, not to fundamentally reform how she uses your time. Just something to think about. Good luck!

    3. Snark*

      Too long. Use the military’s BLUF approach: bottom line up front.

      “Hi X,

      Unfortunately, Boss has directed me to treat X and Y as self-service tasks except in emergencies due to limited administrative support bandwidth, as they are not tasks I typically support. If extenuating circumstances apply, please contact her so we can determine priority. Thanks!”

      1. Snark*

        More better: “Unfortunately, Boss has directed me not to provide support for X and Y, as limited administrative support bandwidth will make it impossible for us to assist with self-service tasks moving forward. Thanks for your understanding.”

        If she wants to demand you do it anyway, refer her to Boss.

        1. Beatrice*

          Also – respond slowly, and use language that clearly ends the conversation, and then stop responding after one or two pushbacks. You don’t have time to do this work for her, and you also don’t have time to provide instantaneous rejections to support requests or engage in endless arguments over whether you should support it.

      2. Happy Lurker*

        Don’t even mention the emergencies…or everything will be one. I had a someone we had to do this with and everything was an emergency after she was told not to bother me with minor things! If it is an emergency, then they can contact your boss and ask you to do the task.
        X&Y are self service tasks that admin can no longer perform. Please see boss for further questions or concerns.
        Good Luck!

    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      This sounds like a conversation that should be had in person, rather than by email (you could follow up with an email summarizing your discussion and reiterating the support you can provide).

      1. Snark*

        Oooh, I disagree. In person, it’s much easier to get browbeaten and talked over. Email all the way.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Yes, it’s harder to have this conversation in person. But it still needs to be done; any potentially sensitive/critical/etc. conversation needs to at least start in person. I know I’d be pretty taken aback if someone junior to me sent me an email laying down the law (and copying her manager) without ever talking with me.

          (And in this case, it’s not clear that Morning Glory or her boss actually have the final say in what kind of support folks get; there’s a policy that hasn’t been followed, and the person making too many requests is senior to both Morning Glory and her boss.)

          The conversation needn’t be drawn out. Morning Glory could use the same scripts everyone is offering here, and can follow up by email.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            But that conversation doesn’t require Morning Glory. She’s not a junior person “laying down the law.” She’s a junior person saying “this is what I’ve been told to do by my boss,” which implies that if you want her to do something else, you need to work it out with her boss.

          2. Morning Glory*

            Hi Victoria,

            This is a helpful perspective, thank you. An in-person meeting for this specific person is not a good option, but I am trying to avoid the appearance of laying down the law.

            What would make this more palatable for you via email – if I did not cc my supervisor?

            For context, I would not be sending this email out of the blue – my supervisor already sent around an email, and I have declined individual requests already.

    5. The Ginger Ginger*

      In addition to all the other comments, I would also add – If there is a list or policy already in place for what tasks can be sent to you, and it’s in writing somewhere, attach it or link to it at the end of your email. You can say something along the lines of:

      “If you have any questions on what I’m able to assist with, see the attached (or below) documentation. I’m happy to help where I can.”

      Be clear and sound pleasantly helpful without actually agreeing to help on anything outside the tasks you’re allowed to perform.

    6. MissGirl*

      Get rid of “Do you think this sounds reasonable?” It introduces the opportunity for her to argue and it doesn’t matter if it’s reasonable to her.

  24. GG Two shoes*

    Interesting thing happened to me this week.

    In October, I applied for a job. I passed the phone interview and had a in-person interview that I thought went really well. Fast forward a few weeks and I got the rejection letter. I mentally moved on and didn’t think anything about it. Two days ago, I got an email from the hiring manager saying that her and the manager really liked me and wanted to know if I would be interested in any other positions there!

    This hasn’t happened to me before, but it’s good to know that my radar wasn’t way off. I thought we clicked really well in the interview so I’m glad I get another shot!

    Here’s to a interesting start to 2018!

    1. Hildegard Von Bingen*

      First, congratulations on moving on rather than stewing about the initial rejection and tearing yourself to pieces wondering what you did wrong.

      Secondly, it’s obvious you did everything right. So congratulations on two things: getting your initial impression that things went well validated, and getting a second opportunity for a new, and hopefully great, job. Good luck!

      If you’ve read AAM for any length of time, you probably know that this kind of call-back sometimes happens after an initial rejection. So it’s not all that out of the ordinary. You must have made one hell of a good impression.

      1. GG Two shoes*

        Oh, thank you so much for the sweet reply! Both the hiring manager and the person who would have been my manager did say that my cover letter was the best they had ever seen. I took a gamble with it- they would either love it or hate it but they liked it! I got so much inspiration from AAM these last few months. The community here is invaluable.

        Thanks again! I really appreciate being able to share this news with someone!

  25. Anon for this*

    I have an awful and awkward situation right now that I’m struggling to wrap my head around. We have a disgruntled ex-employee who was let go. His work had issues, he was informed and given multiple chances to improve, and ultimately we couldn’t afford to fund his improvement efforts any longer after zero improvement. Based on his actions before, during, and after being let go, his mental stability is questionable and he fully blames everyone but himself for his termination. A few months after being let go, he sent a “hate email” to one of the 2 managers involved in his termination. This seemed to be triggered by his interview at another company we’re affiliated with, where he spent a good amount of time bad-mouthing our company. We ignored this incident, hoping to not add fuel, and moved on. Recently (an additional few months later), we believe he sent a 2nd hate email to the other manager. The 2nd email wasn’t from his personal email, but an unknown address that used an alias. Based on some minor googling, I have pretty convincing evidence that it’s him. These emails are awful, attack the individuals personally, and include death wishes (although not actual threats). We don’t know what the trigger for this one is.

    What would you do with this situation? So far, we’ve set up all emails from these addresses to filter, so the intended recipients don’t see any additional hate mail. We’ve reported the accounts that sent them. We’ve spoken with the managers who received them, who both understand that we’ll support them however we can. Is there anything we’re missing?

    1. Manders*

      Does your building have security? If it does, it’s a good idea to talk to them about this person and make sure they can’t get into your office. If it doesn’t, now’s a good time to come up with a plan for how to handle things if that person shows up unannounced.

      I think you’re doing the right thing by filtering the email messages and not responding to them. It’s a good idea to save them somewhere, just in case you need a paper trail. You could talk with the police, but I’m not sure whether death wishes (but not threats) will actually trigger any kind of action on law enforcement’s part.

    2. BadPlanning*

      I think I’d review general security policies. If you have security, do they have a photo/description of this person? Do employees know they can get an escort to the car (if they can)? Are all security lights (and other safety/security things) in good repair? Review the polices on who can be let in the buildling where (especially if you have badge access area).

    3. MechanicalPencil*

      If you haven’t already, I would certainly document everything and keep electronic and paper copies of the emails in case any of this escalates to the point of needing police involvement. Also, alert your building’s security and ensure that these managers have feel safe walking to/from their cars. This is definitely a scary place to me in, and I’m very sorry this is happening.

    4. Anon for this*

      There’s no security for our offices or the building. Just locked doors in evenings and on weekends. I’m not sure what we would do if he showed up in person, or what we even could do. It’s unlikely that anyone who works here would let him in, but maybe it would be good to make an announcement to assure that. I wouldn’t want to alarm anyone, but it’s an alarming situation. He’s more of the words and not actions type, but he also seems very fixated on us being the cause of his current unemployment. We’ve tossed around the idea of connecting with the police anyway. I guess the worst thing they could do is tell us that they can’t do anything, right? So we’d be no worse off.

      1. Jules the Third*

        Yes, connect with the police just in case, and notify your employees not to let ‘ex-employees’ in. Ask the women in your company what they consider safe or unsafe about your company premises and consider how you can improve. For example, can you ask the police to drive through your work parking lot around closing time once or twice a week? Consider hiring a part-time security person for 2 – 3 hrs around closing time to patrol the lot / manage the front door?

        My experience has been that the parking lot is the area with the most hazard from disgruntled ex’s, but that’s anecdote not statistic. Googling ‘workplace safety disgruntled’ came up with a Fisher Phillips page that recommends hiring a security consultant group to check your office (along with keycard access, a security guard, and cameras). Asking female employees is the cheap version of identifying issues – women are usually very aware of their vulnerabilities.

        1. Natalie*

          I think a general warning about not letting ex-employees in is fine, but given this specific person’s behavior I think you need to mention his name specifically.

          1. Anon for this*

            I agree. Most of our ex-employees left on positive terms, so it would be odd to announce that they shouldn’t be let in if they stop by. I do think our parking lot is well lit and it’s very close to the building, so it’s not a far walk by any means.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Yep, this is what an old job would do when someone wasn’t to be allowed into the secure area. They would send an email only to the receptionists and the admins who covered their lunches. It only happened a couple of times during my tenure, although in one case, they had police standing by in the parking lot the day they fired the guy. 0_0

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      Document everything, to the point of reaching out to law enforcement if necessary. At my last company, one person reached out to HR after hearing another employee threaten to bring a gun to work. They contacted the police, and then disabled his badge. Keep a paper trail in case you need it later.

      This is part of a bigger, important conversation about what to do about people who make threats or behave erratically online. There have been so many examples recently of people committing crimes, and then later, finding out that multiple agencies were aware of the person’s instability, or had been contacted by people who’d been the recipients of online threats. Many law enforcement agencies don’t have the bandwidth to follow up on all the tips of this nature they get.

      There was an officer shooting in Denver on New Year’s Eve (about 5 miles from where I live). 5 cops were shot, including 1 who was killed, by a man who opened fire on them after some sort of altercation with his roommate. The local police, the police where he used to live, the law school he used to attend — they were all aware that he was unstable and potentially dangerous, and yet this happened anyway.

    6. PM-NYC*

      I would recommend reading the workplace violence chapter of “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin DeBecker. I don’t want to try to summarize and accidentally oversimplify his advice, but I think it would be helpful to read.

      One thing is that I would periodically check the filter these email messages are going to, to see if the language escalates in further emails. Does he come across as hopeless? Does he talk about violence or owning weapons? Do the frequency & intensity of emails increase to a point of obsession?

      Agree with others about contacting the police. I would also implement an active shooter procedure & be open with employees if possible. Basically use this situation to be thoughtful about security measures which will be great to have in place even if this guy doesn’t prove to be dangerous.

      1. Anon for this*

        The emails are set up to filter to an account monitored by the person who handles our network security. Thankfully there have only been the 2 emails so far. They are short and extremely cruel, but he doesn’t discuss himself and the words are very targeted for the recipient. I’ll check out the book. I’ve meant to, since it’s brought up here so frequently anyway.

        We do discuss security on occasion, so hopefully this will at least trigger some thoughtful discussion. We’re a pretty small company (under 30 employees), and we rent a small office that we don’t have a lot of control over. We do have one employee who was on good terms with the ex-employee before he left, and I’ve wondered if they’re still in touch. However, if they are and the current employee is aware of this behavior but never reported it, I’m not sure I’d trust anything he decided to share with us.

        1. PM-NYC*

          Gotcha, hopefully those emails were the last of it and he’ll lose interest. Would the company you rent office space from be willing to beef up building security? I know that might be a hard sell though.

        2. ..Kat..*

          I think the targets of his emails should know about any subsequent emails. I don’t agree with keeping these potential emails from them. They have a right to know if the emails continue.

          1. WWF*

            Keeping the targets of the emails in the dark as to the timing and nature of potential threats is paternalistic and leaves them vulnerable. Your company should keep them informed so they can take whatever steps they think necessary.

          2. Anon for this*

            They’ll be informed if anything else comes through. The content is very cruel and mean spirited though. The goal is to prevent them from having to read these awful things.

            1. ..Kat..*

              they are adults. I think they should be the ones to decide whether or not to read the emails.

              1. Anon for this*

                And they can. After an email is received, they will be notified with the content summarized and they can decide if they want to read it. In the case of the 2nd email that was sent, the recipient was so upset by the preview text that she simply forwarded it to IT to check for viruses. I read it and made sure there wasn’t anything she needed to know, and she has refused the read the rest. It got much worse after the preview text.

    7. The Ginger Ginger*

      If he DOES show up, I think you need to let team members know to immediately alert management and call the police. It would at least be trespassing on his part, and given the previous (and ongoing, because he doesn’t seem to be letting this go) threats, a call to 911 is warranted. My main concern is that you say you don’t know what you would do if he did show up, so you need to have a plan for that for sure. You may not need it, but it’s better than not having one and finding you need it when he’s standing in reception.

  26. DC*

    So, I’ve had someone send me a posting for a position they are hiring for because they’d like me to apply/strongly want me in the position. I’m trying to decide what to do:

    1. It’s nearly 10k+ under what I strongly prefer to be making post-graduation.
    2. It would mean staying at the university, so 25%underpaid based on market value.

    3. She’s my favorite professor, and a role model and mentor. Learning from her would be huge.
    4. It’s at most a 2 year posting.


    1. Lil Fidget*

      The big question to me is opportunity cost. Do you have a sense of what your realistic ability is to get another job that would be better? If you think there’s a very good chance you can get a higher paying job that will still give you opportunity to learn, that’s what you’d be missing out on by taking this.

    2. Undine*

      Talk to her and find out more. If you’re relationship is really good you can bring up some of those concerns and ask her what she thinks the long-term would be.

    3. Pepsquad*

      1) You might prefer to be making more, but that doesn’t mean you will. Have you been applying/looking so that you have an idea of whether you willl make what you’d prefer?
      – is there a very strong liklihood that you’d get this job and that after two years it could lead to bigger/better things? Or do you stand a good chance in the general job market right now?

      2) If you would like this woman to be a mentor – wouldn’t it be better to speak to her directly about this? Rather than work two years at a job, that pays less than you’d like. You don’t mention what you’d do or whether you like the role itself. You could first ask if you could speak to her about the role, and how you might learn from her if you’d apply as that would be your main reason for applying.

      I think there are a number of things to weigh up:

      -Firstly will you enjoy the job itself and does it meet your career trajectory? Will you actually get the opportunity to learn from the professor to make this job worth it – or does it have other merits on it’s own?
      -Do you need to work with this woman to learn from her? It seems an extreme way to go about things.
      With having a connection with both the person who passed along the job and the professor it seems like you could have some informal discussions to see whether the job would be worth the potential 10k pay cut, and you could see whether you could create an informal connection/mentorship relationship from this instead.
      -Also I think you need to look around and see what the competition is

      There’s also the real possibility that you might not get the job after you apply, in which case looking around at other roles and speaking with the professor seem important.

      Basically I think you’d need to investigate this one!

    4. Temperance*

      What is your degree program in/what are your career goals? Will this job put you in line with them?

      If you can stay out of the pink ghetto as a recent grad, I highly recommend it.

    5. That’ll happen*

      I’d also compare benefits offered at your university to those of companies you may want to work for (if that information is available). Typically academia makes up (a bit) for lower salaries with better benefits – more vacation time, half days on fridays in the summer, really good health insurance, etc. This is all assuming that you are in the US.

      Also does your professor have contacts in industry that would be able to help you find a new position when this one ends? This might be a great networking opportunity as well.

      I say apply for the position but apply for others at the same time – don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Once you have more information, both about this uni job and other opportunities, you’ll be able to make a more informed position.

  27. Manders*

    People in fields where effort and skilled work put in doesn’t always equal results you get out, how do you keep your eyes on the prize when nothing you do seems to be affecting the end results?

    I’m in SEO, a field of marketing where you can see no tangible results for a long time and then your traffic may start climbing (or even spiking) months after you complete a great project. I’ve been in this job for over 6 months now, and I know I’ve improved tremendously at what I’m doing, but most of my job right now is just plugging away and waiting for that work to pay off. My boss is confident that we’re doing the right thing and I’m doing a great job, but coming in every day and watching the traffic continue on this plateau is really frustrating!

    1. SebbyGrrl*

      Are there other metrics?

      Your Boss’s confidence is one good one.

      Is there a tool(s) you aren’t using/could create that might show you other trends, data that are other measure’s of success.

      Seems like this could be comparative to a sales person who doesn’t sell a lot but their relationships with their clients are invaluable to the company.

      Also SEO is kinda notorious for this so give yourself some credit and go looking for ways you are already succeeding that you may not see or have a measure for.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      “when nothing you do seems to be affecting the end results”

      So you’re maintaining your current position and not slipping down the ranks? That’s not nothing!

  28. Seeking Permanent Employment*

    Early last year, I decided to change industries and was able to get a temp job in my new field. My contract is almost up, and I am job hunting again. What is the best way to make it clear in my application materials that I was a temp so that it’s not held against me that I was only at this job for nine months? Also, my original contract was supposed to be two and a half months and I was extended for good performance, but couldn’t be extended longer due to rules about how long the agency is allowed to hire temps, should I mention that in my cover letter or wait until the interview to bring that up?

    1. Red Reader*

      March 2017 to January 2018
      Combing Specialist, Llama Groomers, Inc (contracted through Camelids Agency)

    2. Amber O.*

      I’ve had to list temp/contractor work on my resume and have always used something like this:
      March 2017-January 2018
      Teapot Inspector – Drinkware Temp Agency, providing temporary contracting services for Smith Teapots, Inc.

    3. Fabulous*

      I usually will add “Temporary Contract” next to the position name, and then have used the first bullet point to expand “Completed 12-month temporary employment contract via with Llama Herding, Inc.”

    4. Nacho*

      Put “temp” next to your job title in your resume. It’s a commonly recognized practice for exactly what you want to do.

      I wouldn’t go as far as to list the temp agency, because that’s not nearly as important as who you worked for.

      1. AnonAndOn*

        I’ve heard that one should list the temp agency when listing it on a resume because the agency is the employer and not the company.

        1. Seeking Permanent Employment*

          What if said temp agency is known for hiring disabled people? I have an invisible illness and would prefer to avoid disclosing this before I get an offer if possible.

    5. Product person*

      What Amber said, or something like this:

      Mar-Oct 2017 (Temporary 3-month contract extended to 9 months)
      Teapot Inspector – Hot Tea Inc via Drinkware Temp Agency

  29. Grits McGee*

    Hey, fellow archivists- How seriously would you take crowd-sourced digital transcription/metadata projects on a resume? (Ex- Smithsonian’s Digital Transcription Projects)

    I’m already employed as an archivist, but I exclusively deal with paper and there’s a real demand in the field for people with digital experience. Unfortunately, I can’t take a second job to get the experience (current job prohibits). It looks like most non-internship volunteer opportunities don’t have a lot of quality control, which makes me wonder how meaningful it would be on a resume.

    1. Goosepimple*

      As you say, it’s tricky because of the lack of oversight or someone who could speak directly to the quality of your work. Definitely better than nothing, and might be a small boost for a role that didn’t demand a ton of previous experience with digital resources. Since you seem to be ok with volunteer projects to address the experience gap–would it be worth approaching some smaller archives/museums/etc. to ask if you could assist them with a digital project? They’d be getting help from someone with archival skills and you’d get a reference?

      NOTE-On resume, do be sure to note the number of hours and/or transcribed documents completed.

    2. former archivist*

      If it’s crowd-sourced work, it’s not really equivalent to professional experience, unless the crowd in question is only made up of certain professionals. In a previous job, I worked at an archive where I did some transcription, so technically, it can be considered a duty that archivists do. I would treat it as volunteer work at best, if you already have a section like that on your resume. Or you could mention in your cover letter that you have participated in online transcription projects for the Smithsonian. I no longer work as an archivist, but I would recommend web, database, or programming experience if you can get it. Online tutorials or just tinkering around can be a good start. I worked on digital projects and metadata. I found knowing how to use Access and Excel were extremely helpful. So were creating simple batch files and using the command line prompt. I also did some website maintenance. HTML or CSS or even WordPress are good to have some familiarity with. Good luck. I know it can be frustrating feeling trapped without the experience you need to move on.

    3. lisalee*

      I’m not sure if just a general crowdsourcing project where anyone can log on for awhile and do it would bump a resume much for me. I would try to look for something that has at least an application process, preferably a position title of some sort (X Project Volunteer, etc), etc.

    4. Dan Crawford*

      There is totally a demand for digital archives, speaking as someone who has been looking for a repository specialist. I’m not sure I would read much into participating in a crowd-sourced metadata project unless you organized or oversaw others in some way, or implemented/documented some kind of procedure. I would recommend subscribing to the code4lib listserv so you can see what kinds of digital projects are going on.

  30. Anon for this*

    I could use some advice on a tricky situation. I’m planning to move to a different state in a few months and will most likely be leaving my current job at the same time (it’s possible they’ll allow me to work remotely for a while after I move). I’ve been wanting to move on from this job for a while (I’ve been in my current position for four years and been in my industry for eight) and am excited for a change, but there are a couple of issues I’m going to be running up against very soon:

    1. I have a great relationship with the head of my department (who was formerly my direct manager but got promoted) and she has been advocating for me to get a promotion for the last year, but no positions have been open during that time. I feel bad knowing that I no longer intend to stay with the company while she’s looking for opportunities for me to grow and advance.

    2. This is only my second professional position, and my former company was acquired by my current company last year. This means that almost all of my managers from my last job are now working with me again. This makes the pickings pretty slim as far as my reference pool (my first job out of college was at a coffee shop).

    So in light of this stuff I’m wondering if I should tell my department head that I’m planning to move on, both so that she can start looking at other candidates for an eventual promotion, and so that I can ask her to be a reference in my upcoming job search. She’s been a mentor to me and has always been great about giving me opportunities so I want to be honest with her but I worry that it might cause problems. Managers: what would you want me to do if I was your report?

    1. Reba*

      re: Feeling bad, remember that as great as your manager is, she is doing her job by looking for promotions and opportunities for you to grow. I mean, she’s also doing it because she likes your work, but it’s not a personal favor.

    2. Jules the Third*

      Don’t tell her specific plans. Do feel free to mention that you have a timeline for new opportunities, but keep it very very vague (eg, in the next few years). Things change.

      Do get all your work documented so that when you do tell her, you can say, ‘I’d like to keep working remotely for x, but if not, here’s the projects I’ve got, their status, and how to do the next steps / get to the end goal.’ That ‘get to the end goal’ planning will help you with current job anyway.

    3. LAI*

      No need to feel guilty about your manager, or to tell her anything until you know for sure. It’s not like she’s really going out on a limb for you or anything, she’s just doing the normal work of being a manager.

      Regarding your reference pool, I had the same situation (first job out of college, stayed for 8 years). Are there people who you’ve worked with in other offices who could speak to your work? Or even people who know your work ability from other contexts? When I left, I was able to use a former boss who had since moved on as my main reference, plus a recent supervisor from a graduate internship, and the director of another office that occasionally coordinated work with my office.

  31. Stishovite*

    I’m re-joining the job market after trying to start my own business. So I’ve been self-employed for the last 7 years.
    What do I do about references? Especially when my best potential reference has since retired, and I haven’t been able to track down contact information for him?
    I do have other references, but this is the 2nd time I’ve tried to re-enter the market (I’ve been doing gig jobs in the meantime, and those don’t really provide good references), and I’m a bit reluctant to got back to those references with the implicit failure to find a job the last time I hit the job boards hard.

    1. Stishovite*

      I should add that the start-up business was in no way related to the jobs I’m applying for, so clients and the like for the start up business aren’t really appropriate for commenting on the skills I would be using in a new job.

      1. Jules the Third*

        The start-up clients can talk to your work ethics and personality, which is actually really important. Skills are from prior job tasks, references are for ‘is this person easy to work with and manage’.

    2. JustaCPA*

      I hear you loud and clear. I was in exactly this same position except it had been almost 20 years since I had a “boss” I did eventually manage to track him down but he had retired, moved out of state etc.

      I ended up getting a job due to my Linkedin profile and an interview but in general my focus was to target my personal connections (I didnt bother with my clients as my self employed industry was completely different then my new one – think teapot maker to CPA)

      There is no easy way to be honest. My next step was going to be doing some season work in my industry in order to get more current references in accounting which is very possible in my industry but I dont know if its at all possible in yours? Also, target your schools alumni – most schools these days have alumni facebook groups if not their own forums and job seeking/job hiring boards.

  32. Aleta*

    So I’ve been in the service industry for a while, but just got laid off and took the opportunity to do temping/temp-to-hire instead since being on my feet all day was just way too rough on my body. I just got a very nice receptionist position I’m excited about (good pay at a good company, very hands off, “if you finish all your work it’s fine if you discreetly read an ebook on the computer as long as you drop it as soon as someone needs something and honestly we’d rather you did that because trying to find extra work for the bored receptionist has been a problem in the past”). And it very much sounds like it’ll be a lot less stressful than at a restaurant – customers might be stressed, but they won’t be verbally abusive, and the overall volume is less than the places I’ve worked.

    But I wanted to ask if there’s anything you think someone doing office work for the first time, particularly transitioning from the service industry? Also any good blogs for business casual looks for women? A friend the same size as me (TINY) who also works in a business casual office is taking me thrifting for clothes but the more inspiration the better because I have a grand two shirts and one pair of slacks.

    1. Reba*

      Extrapetite is a fab blog. A lot of her looks are business appropriate, and she talks not only about petite styles but about how to shop for garments that can be altered well for petite needs.

      Good luck with your new job!

    2. Don't Blame Me*

      Sorry, I don’t have any advice but I just wanted to say that I’m so jealous of your job. I’ve tried to break into office work a few times because I know I’d be great at it, but I don’t have much relevant experience and can never seem to get an interview. Good luck!

      1. Aleta*

        Try temp-to-hire if you’re able? I also have zero office experience except for being an Excel and Access tutor in the past, but they were able to place me quickly and it’s a good way to prove yourself without the company having to make a big commitment.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      As far as wardrobe, I’d go to Penny’s when they have a sale on their Worthington line and get some skirts/pants. The last time I went I got 2 skirts and 2 pants for about $60…and they wash up so easy.
      As far as transitioning from service to office, my husband did the same thing and he had a hard time with language and …how shall I put it…teasing. You may not be coming from the same environments, but he was in places where people teased each other and everyone constantly jabbed (insulted) one another. Although he knew that wasn’t appropriate for the office, it was tough finding the right way to communicate. In restaurants, gentile jabbing was a way to build relationships and trust and that does not fly in other settings!

      1. Aleta*

        Haha, my restaurant was actually very much like that, but I’m bad at that sort of thing and never participated (and everyone was cool with it because everyone there is lovely), so no worries on that! I totally wouldn’t have thought of that though, and it’ll probably be weird to not have that as a backdrop.

    4. Colette*

      My advice: spend some time learning the programs on your computer (which probably include the Office suite) in your downtime and, if possible, using them to do work. This sounds like a good opportunity to get skills that will give you new options for your next job.

      1. Aleta*

        I’m actually very proficient in office software! It’s the reason I was able to get hired so quickly (like, less than a week). I actually tutored Excel and Access in college. No worries there.

      2. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

        This is great advice. There are quite a few sites that offer free to almost free ‘classes’ for applications like Word, Excel, and others.

        The ones I’ve investigated and used for my team are conducive to being started and stopped as needed so as not to get in the way of other work.

    5. Cookie D'oh*

      Some blogs I like:

      You Look Fab
      Wardrobe Oxygen
      Putting Me Together
      Jo Lynne Shane
      Corporette (skews a bit more dressy, but you can search through the archives)

    6. N.J.*

      Corporette and The Work Edit (Capitol Hill Style) are my goto workwear blogs. They can get s bit pricey with the clothes they display but both make decent attempts at lower budget looks too. Extra Petite might be useful to look at too, since you indicated you are tiny.

    7. RabbitRabbit*

      It’s a little more formal and higher-priced usually, but Corporette has a “Frugal Friday” weekly call-out of a good-priced item. They also have a link in their right-hand sidebar to their business casual guidelines, which has a lot of great tips on clothing fit and ideas for pieces to pick up.

    8. Natalie*

      This may or may not be an issue for you, I just mention it because it was an issue for my ex when he went from the kitchen to an office: in general, in a restaurant or whatever there’s a set of tasks that need to be completed every day before that day can end, and there’s little to no spillover to the next day. Offices can be completely different, with projects stretching over weeks/months/years and little to nothing that must be completed every day. It’s just a different way of organizing work and can take some time to adjust to.

    9. Bobstinacy*

      I went the other way with my career (5 years doing IT support and doing administrative tasks to culinary school and beyond).

      There’s a lot of skills that can be translated to offices; setting up and implementing systems, organizing information, interacting with customers, communicating effectively with coworkers and management, and of course working under stress.

      Did you work front of house or back? FOH will have more crossover than BOH but even then there’s skills that can be translated to admin work.

    10. ..Kat..*

      Consignment stores in the “rich people “ part of town can have great buys. Do you know how to sew? Or get a good tailor. Quality clothing that is not overly trendy will last you a long time. Also, don’t buy too much until you know what the office normal dress is for your position.

      And, most importantly, congratulations!

    11. DDJ*

      Once you’ve gotten a feel for things, if you like it, speak up! Particularly when your boss asks you how things are going. When I asked a recent temp worker how things were going (in a regular check-in) he said “I was excited to come on with the company, and the team you have here is wonderful. Things have been going well so far!” It made an impact on me.

      If the opportunity comes up to extend the contract or offer a position, I already know that the temp is excited about the company and gets along with the team (I did ask my employees what they thought, and he got rave reviews). That puts him in a pretty good position.

  33. paul*

    how far in advance should you start job hunting if you can’t start for a few months? We’re here until my wife graduates in May…really can’t relocate until then. I know where we’re moving to for her work and schooling, would it be good/bad/indifferent to start looking there?

    It’s complicated by the fact that I’m likely (not 100% but pretty likely) going to be the trailing spouse so we may only be there 2-3 years, depending. So I’m not sure how much I should prioritize growth opportunities vs getting a paycheck ASAP (and hopefully an OK one) once we move.

    1. Jules the Third*

      January is a fine time to start looking for May opportunities. A lot of companies hire around then. Don’t sweat the ‘growth opportunities vs getting a paycheck’ too much, look for a balance.

  34. KayEss*

    Just a vent: I’m in a position where I know, technically, who my boss is, but I’m not sure HE knows that. The director resigned without plans for replacement and my direct manager is being laid off (but without an exit date on the books yet… yeah), and the next person in the chain of command is the VP of a tangentially-related area that we got rolled into under a recent re-org. He has no idea what our department does (well, did), even in terms of what services the remaining three of us are still providing to the organization, and presides over an extremely dysfunctional department that has always been actively antagonistic to us and our work. I’m seriously considering resigning without having something else lined up if I wind up officially in their org chart without the buffer of my manager and the director between us… I don’t think my mental health can’t take it. I have 1.95 feet out the door already, anyway.

    I’m supposed to show up for an organization-wide meeting on Tuesday to smile and nod and pretend everything is fine while the president bloviates and outright lies about how far in the red we are for six hours, and I’m not sure I can stomach it.

    1. KayEss*

      Update: one of my last two coworkers quit without notice this afternoon, taking a position that let her start immediately, because of the uncertainty around what is going to happen to us. I get to take on half her duties, with my (about-to-be-laid-off) manager taking the other half. Wheeeeeeeeee.

      Can they please just can me already so I can collect unemployment while job-searching full time?

    2. WellRed*

      If they are laying people off, why do you think they lying about being in the red? This sounds like you need to get out ASAP!

      1. KayEss*

        Oh, I mean he’ll stand on stage for an hour and tell us all that we’re only in 25% much debt as we actually are and everything will be fine, we can pull through, etc. I don’t know if things are truly as bad as the rumors flying around, but they’re definitely worse than the official statements… but he doesn’t care about long-term health or success, just getting another entry for his resume and a golden parachute. I’ll be absolutely shocked if this place isn’t closed within five years.

        I’m definitely getting out, it just feels harder when I come home every day so demoralized.

  35. Deer In The Office*

    Going slightly anonymous for this one since it’ll be easy to identify the work place if there’s any coworkers who read this.

    Came back into the office Tuesday and heard lots of murmuring:
    “How’d it get through the double pane window?”
    “Someone would have heard it. Had to happen when people weren’t around.”
    “When did this happen?”
    “Imagine if nobody had been in on Saturday, he’d be waiting for us this morning.”

    (At this point, I’m thinking someone homeless broke in because it’s been -20 and colder wind-chill lately.)

    “The bullet damaged a few pieces of equipment. You can even see the hole in the wall!”

    (Well….THAT seems an extreme reaction to someone homeless…)

    Finally, I grabbed someone and asked what happened. Sometime over the weekend, a deer broke in. Shattered the double pane window, ripped off an antler, and broke its leg. We had a few people working on Saturday. Thankfully, one of them had to print something off in that department. Otherwise, nobody would have known until Tuesday! I saw pictures of where the deer broke in. Looks like a crime scene. It’s all we’ve talked about all week.

    1. Reba*

      Poor deer. That happened in a building at my university once. I was also amazed the young guy was able to do it.

      1. Deer In The Office*

        The cop who did it was a hunter. The few witnesses who were there said it was as humane as possible.

    2. AshK434*

      Is the deer okay? Did your colleagues call animal control or some other assistance to help that poor thing out?

      1. Summer Sun*

        Once a leg is broken, they almost always put them down.

        Source: living in the boonies and hitting deer with my car pretty much yearly.

  36. Emi.*

    Awg, one of my colleagues has asked me to edit his report. I think he thinks it’s basically done and just wants a quick sweep for typos he missed, but it’s … not. It’s awkward and stilted and frequently unclear. The most awkward and unclear paragraph details, as far as I can tell, a semi-complicated way to avoid using a totally standard and statistical technique automated in any statistical software package. Some parts vary wildly in formality, even within sentences. Other parts just have to be read three times to be understood. And when I give him these notes he will probably say “Oh, I didn’t need that much detail.”

    Narrator: “He did need that much detail.”

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Hmm, TBH I wouldn’t put your time into helping this colleague unless you have a good reason, like it would affect your job if his report goes over badly. That’s time you could spend advancing your own career instead of boosting someone who didn’t ask for your help and by your own admission probably wouldn’t appreciate it.

      1. Shiara*

        I agree. If he’s just expecting you to sweep for typos, I’d sweep for typos, and then maybe say something like “You may want to consider revising for consistency in formality, and I found the point of paragraph X unclear.” and then leave it at that. This is assuming it’s his report, with his name on it, and you don’t have any formal authority or responsibility to make sure his reports are high quality.

    2. Undine*

      If he’s said that before, you could just say, “I’ve looked at this, and I don’t have time for this after all. If it was my report, I would revise it extensively before I sent it out, and helping you with that is much larger in scope than I thought. However, from previous interactions (example here), I think that’s not what you’re looking for anyway.”

      If he continues to push — spelling mistakes only! — you say, I’m not a proofreader, I’m a Llama Report Specialist, and after so many years (or whatever), I can’t put that aside when I review a Llama Report.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This happened to me recently. I kind of had to let it go and send corrections for typos only and point out where some specific wording might be awkward. It’s a tough thing to do, especially if you like to write, but let his report stand as his report.

    4. Summer Sun*

      I ask what level of editing people want, because I was burned several times. It stinks to put time and effort in when it isn’t appreciated.

      In the future, you could say “What level of corrections are you looking for, on a scale from Urban Dictionary to OED?”

      1. SebbyGrrl*


        Or I sometimes remind people, I am an organizer, accountant who loves words and values well directed written materials.

        Given that, are you asking me to only check typos or do you want feedback of the structure, flow and content?

        This usually solves things upfront.

        Or “Do you want my edits or my expertise?”

        If I have done this out front and the requestor tries to back peddle when I give them the edits “Your audience is X, they know Y if you don’t tie X to Y they will make this inference/deduction.”

        Other times when I know someone isn’t a great written presenter I ask how they have framed their report/document/presentation, do you know your audience, does this document answer a purpose, is it the correct purpose for this meeting/project, etc.

        I try to address structure and reasoning, flow of thought.

        If the requestor is wishy washy to any of this “I’m probably not the right person to help you on this one.”

    5. NW Mossy*

      Oof, I’ve got the same thing sitting in my inbox right now. The PM on a project I’m supporting has sent around her guides to the team for review, and her written communication is very similar. Trying to reshape her work into something usable for anyone else is really more time than I want to put on this, but at least she takes edits well.

    6. nep*

      Agree with others — sounds like it would be best to say you could look it over for typos but that it needs substantive editing and he should contact someone for that if he so chooses.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Why not just tell him to read it out loud to himself, make as many corrections as he can THEN, you will look at it for him.

      This is that preemptive strike against “I didn’t need that much detail.” You don’t need this much work, and you can show him that through your refusal to edit anything that he considers less than his best-best effort.

      My boss and I will read for each other. I would say that on average we find maybe one mistake. That’s it. Because we do not give each other work that we have not been over with a fine tooth comb.

  37. Eva*

    So disappointed we won’t be getting an update to the letter about Jan and John and the Stoma bag. I really wanted one for that letter.

    1. Goya de la Mancha*

      wait what did I miss? Like we won’t get one EVER or just in the near future?!
      I NEED an update for that letter!

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I had to go check. The LW felt she’d been attacked in the comments and said she wouldn’t be responding, or even reading comments at all in the future, though she’s a regular AAM reader.

        This is why we can’t have nice things.

        1. Temperance*

          I thought that most of the comments on that letter were fairly tame? That’s a bummer. I mean, most of us thought Jan was a monster and LW was in over her head with a ridiculous situation … which, I mean, any of us would have been.

          1. Girasol*

            Pls share our apologies. Surely most of us if not all of us meant no offense. Sometimes a quick text comment sounds more short tempered than it was meant to be.

          2. Observer*

            I’m with Girasol. I see from the responses to that comment that some of what I said could be taken as an attack, although I totally didn’t mean it as such.

        2. PB*

          Oh, that’s too bad. I remember a lot of comments about Jan being awful, but I don’t remember anyone attacking the LW.

          1. Lil Fidget*

            I will say, having written a letter once, it’s a very odd experience to read the comments when they’re about you. People are just a lot more brusque and absolute than you feel in the moment, and it can feel like a criticism even if its NOT. (And as a fairly frequent commenter, I do the exact same thing). I didn’t read that one so I don’t know if there was piling on but it’s a vulnerable place to be.

            1. PB*

              I can see that. I wonder if it maybe came across as even more harsh for a post like this, where people had such a strong reaction.

              1. Lil Fidget*

                Yeah mine was totally neutral and boring and I didn’t even feel that strongly about it (more just curious as the etiquette) and I still felt that way! So I can’t imagine an emotionally charged one.

              1. Ramona Flowers*

                I felt fine when my own letter was answered but I’m still very angry for the person who was afraid to tell their parents they weren’t going home for xmas and had a bunch of internet strangers telling them to ‘grow a pair ’. Like it didn’t take strength and guts to survive their childhood. I am still angry about that one.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              This can happen in person also. People’s decisiveness can make us feel “less than” very quickly.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I don’t either, although I didn’t read everything. I think it can be hard to write in and feel like people don’t understand all the nuances of your situation are making judgements based on incorrect assumptions, even if those judgments aren’t super harsh. And especially when there are 900 comments or whatever that post got. It’s the nature of having people comment, but I get why it can be a little overwhelming and sometimes frustrating.

            1. merteuil*

              One possible issue is that sometimes (especially with the short-answer posts) some questions are very long (especially when reading on a phone). I often find myself skimming or not even reading the question and just skipping to the answer. Case in point: today’s question about expensing travel is five long-ish paragraphs. Alison, have you ever thought of editing them?

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I edit for clarity, but I don’t usually remove entire sentences/paragraphs. It’s an interesting point though; maybe I should! I’ve traditionally been hesitant to do it because I figure whatever I take out will then turn out to be relevant in some way that I didn’t predict. But yeah, at least with the short-answer posts, maybe I should consider it sometimes!

                1. WellRed*

                  I always assume editing for length would take too much of your time. But, many times I find myself thinking, this writer keeps saying the same thing over and over, just with different words.

                2. Ramona Flowers*

                  I think this is risky as you might miss out something that’s important to the letter writer.

                3. Huxley*

                  Please don’t do this if you don’t need to. I have never found the length here prohibitive. If I want to read something, I read it! Maybe I’m weird but I think it’s weird to ‘skip over’

            2. Troutwaxer*

              Maybe the short version of the commenting rules should read, “Please be kind, stay on-topic, don’t repeat points everyone else has already made, and follow the site’s commenting rules.”

            1. Big Person*

              Yes. I felt they were piling on her for her comment about not being able to address John’s behaviour towards Jan when I don’t think she meant it the way most people took it. I think she just phrased it badly. I don’t think she was looking to have John in trouble for treating Jan poorly after what she did, but rather that his behaviour was rather benign towards her in light of what she did to him.

              1. Lissa*

                Yup. I have to say I often feel the “tone” of the comments towards OPs in similar situations can get very harsh when taken all together. There is a LOT of “You NEED to do this immediately” and implications or outright statements that the OP is a bad manager or even bad person for not reacting strongly enough the way the commenters want. And/or they take one line in the thing then go pretty far in criticizing what they think was meant. And like…I think a one on one conversation with some of these criticisms might be OK but to see it repeated over and over again is not nice.

                I stopped reading the comments on that letter because I felt so badly for the OP so I am not at all surprised at her reaction.

                1. Windchime*

                  I stopped reading the comments on that one, too. Mostly because it became clear after several hundred comments that hardly anyone was reading the comments before commenting, so it felt like the same thing was being said over and over and over. I can understand how the letter-writer felt piled upon. I’ve been a “team lead”, and there really was very little authority. My job was basically coordinating the workflow for my team, and doing some time-card tasks. That’s it. No ability to hire, fire, discipline or anything else like that. So when people started being outraged that the OP was doing nothing, it was frustrating for me.

                  I really wish people would read the comments before they start commenting, because I think that would really cut down on the pile-on effect when they see that their point has already been made several times and there is no need to make it again.

        3. Murphy*

          That’s a shame! I didn’t think it looked like she was being attacked at all, but I have been trying to work while dealing with a sick baby, so I may have missed something.

          1. bibliovore*

            Sometime the comments assume things not in evidence. I did stop reading those comments because of the pile-on criticizing the OP for not contacting the Director who was on leave as no one actually had the authority to discipline or fire Jan for her outrageous behavior.

            OP was erring on the conservative side as she did not have the authority.
            Piling on was not helpful.
            The helpful answer would have been. Yes, this behavior is so out of the norm and so offensive please contact the person who has authority immediately, here is the language to do so, and yes, reach out to the injured party and say what action that you have taken.

            I hope we hear for OP because G-d forbid any of us are ever in this sort of position at work.

        4. Wow*

          These are just a sample of the comments left for the OP. I can see why they are upset. Some of them are not nice, and some tell her to overstep her authority (which would risk her job). She was also attacked for giving a complete picture of what happened. People mistook her giving all the details as being against John:

          OP, stop wringing your hands. Get with HR, get with your boss, get with the goddamned CEO, and stand up for John and basic decency.

          you need to be thinking in terms of “how do I let people with decisionmaking power know this happened so we protect the company from this Costco-size sack of banana crackers” not “I cannot discipline her because I am but a team lead, what do?”

          There comes a time in every team lead, manager, or supervisor’s working life where they have to know when to shunt the rules off to the side and exercise their own judgement.

          ALSO: there are times when you should exceed your authority if your boss is unavailable. This, along with physical assault, is one of those times.

          You don’t need “authority” to refuse to work with someone who treats you like garbage.

          Jan should be fired, so treat her time now as if she is…back his decision to do that regardless of his or your authority to do so.

          No, my dear/dude, you do not need to be worrying right now about whether John has the authority to refuse to work with her

          Try to suspend or fire Jan. Jan has proven that she is not someone you would want working on your team, and this isn’t a one-off event of bad judgment: She has repeatedly shown bad judgment through her continuing actions here. Try to feel as little guilt as you can

          I’d go so far as to argue that it’s essential to do this if you aspire to become a manager in the future. Managing is about the “hard power” of firing/discipline to some degree, but the true managing work often gets done via the “soft power” of influence through discussion

    2. This Daydreamer*

      I’m hoping she sees the supportive comments on her update and takes them to heart. I can understand why she feels overwhelmed – there was a lot of negativity in the comments, even though 99% of it was aimed at Jan.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I definitely noticed the 1%, though it seemed like most of it resulted from being unclear about what the OP was actually able to do–for John, and to Jan.

        I still hope she comes back and tells us Jan has been strapped to a rocket and shot into the sun, and that John got a massive raise because his work is so good.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Thank you for the idea and image of strapping one’s troubles to a rocket and then firing it. (insert cartoon facial expression: a grin with many teeth.) It makes me feel so peaceful* to imagine this scenario with a wide variety of difficult circumstances, people, and objects. Bonus: It’s so outlandish an idea that it’s clearly a fantasy, so no guilt whatsoever! Yes, this is definitely a keeper. The (imaginary) sky is going to look like the Fourth of July around my head.

          * As the rocket goes whoosh I can feel the load lift from my shoulders.

  38. Blue Anne*

    What are everyone’s professional goals for 2018?

    I want to stabilize my property business, and get moved up to Staff Accountant at my day job.

    1. Manders*

      My biggest professional goal for the year is getting better at balancing work and life stress. I burned out hard last year, mostly due to life stresses that weren’t really in my control, but being in a place where I knew my concentration and memory weren’t up to snuff was really scary. I already know 2018’s going to be stressful and I’m trying to plan ahead for that.

      I’d also like to keep improving at what I do, and to finally see some big results (which aren’t totally in my control at this point, so that’s not really something I can set as a goal).

    2. stitchinthyme*

      Am I the only one whose answer to this question is “I want to stay right where I am”? I’m an introvert and chose my particular career (software development) in part because it does not require me to have a lot of interaction with other people. I have never aspired to management, I make a pretty good living already, and I don’t need to make obscene amounts of money. I like to learn new things and solve new problems, but I can (and do) do that in my current position. And I work to live, not the other way around — I like my job, but it’s not my passion; it’s the thing that enables me to pursue the activities I truly want to do.

      1. anyone out there but me*

        Is it bad that I don’t have any? At all?

        I just want to continue working as I am, earn my paycheck and live my life.

      2. Blue Anne*

        There’s nothing wrong with that at all. I’d love to get to a place where I want to stay right where I am!

    3. Alex*

      I will be relocating/leaving my current job in a few months when my partner finishes grad school. So my main professional goal is to find something new that is interesting, challenging, or at least flexible to allow me to pursue my non-work related interests. If I can’t find a job right away, I imagine volunteering or pursuing some online learning opportunities.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I would like to complete my dossier to go up early for promotion to Full.
        I would like to have an endowed chair within the next five years.
        I would like to complete and submit a book manuscript in 2018.

        oh, and still have a work life balance. Here is to a healthier, happier 2018.

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

      Last year I went from grossly to slightly underpaid. This year I would love to get a competitive salary, if I don’t get a better paid job.

    5. SilverRadicand*

      I want to get promoted to Project Manager. I want to start doing electronic signatures.

    6. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      Finish grad school and get a job in my new field. Confident on the first one, less so on the second one. :P

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I want to take charge of custom projects and really spruce up standard ones. Unfortunately, some of the plans we made at the end of the year that would allow me to do exactly that kind of fell through the cracks for reasons out of our control. So I want to make sure I stay motivated and excited about implementing some of my ideas.

    8. Middle School Teacher*

      I am on the negotiating committee for our cba so my goal is to get the best deal I can for our people without letting the negotiation process turn me into the Hulk. I’m hoping it will be better this time, because last time we were starting from scratch, and one of the people on the other side was so odious and hard to deal with that I was so stressed and angry all the time. So my goal is also to be as calm and non-Hulk smash through the process.

    9. Underpaid Bookkeeper*

      I want to make a living wage salary. Last year I only made $15k which I think is just gross considering I have a college degree. I had asked for a $4/hour raise over the summer and they only gave me $2/hour. I haven’t decided what route I want to take.

      I can’t decide if I want to go get a full time job at a big company with benefits and everything. I have a feeling to do that I’ll have to endure a 3 hour commute (round trip). Or if I want to try and pursue my own business and take on my own bookkeeping clients, do quickbooks training, etc. I feel like to make enough money to live that is the way to go plus I get the benefits of a flex schedule as I’d like to have a baby in the next year or so. I don’t have any benefits now so it’s not like I’ll miss those.

    10. nep*

      Land some freelance / contract work in a field I’m looking to re-enter after a few years away; re-establish myself as a consultant in said field and get steady work.

    11. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      Find out what my job actually is and if I want to do it. My company was acquired at year end and now we are part of a much bigger company umbrella (I’m fine with the merger itself, needed to happen). My job, however, is completely TBD. I’m the only one of me who does what I do in the old world order, and basically just a team of me. Company that bought us has 4 of me and boss of all the me’s. I’ve been unofficially told by current boss, who will soon be former boss as she got a bigger role, that I have a role in the new world order. But no one will tell me what it is (same thing I do now and join the existing team of me’s, or something completely different, which is viable, because I have specific experience and they are doing the thing company-wide which requires specific experience). My possible new VP level boss kept walking by my desk this week and saying “hi”. But literally nothing else after “hi”. He must know SOMETHING, but no one will tell me anything. I even jokingly said to an executive assistant “I wish I could move desks, the vent above mine has me freezing all week”, and she said “Well, YOU can pretty much move anywhere you want”. What? What does that even mean? Who knows anything and why are they being so WEIRD? *head explodes*.

    12. Fortitude Jones*

      My professional goals for the year are to become adequate with InDesign and the Word templates my company uses for our proposal projects. I have extensive Word experience making e-books and doing the layout for print books, but these templates act wonky and I need to figure out how to fix them to save everyone’s sanity (my coworkers who have been here for years still have issues getting the templates to always act right).

      I also want to improve my writing ability, mainly learning how to write to sell since I’m essentially on a sales team.

      Finally, I want to go back to indie publishing this year. I haven’t published anything since 2014 because I got sidetracked by making fast bonus money at my previous employer. Now that I’m in a job where I’ll be writing all day every day and doing little else, I hope it inspires me to get my butt in gear so I can release two more novels and maybe a couple of short story collections/novellas.

    13. SebbyGrrl*

      As my post elsewhere today discusses.

      I want to find remote/from home work.

      That pays what I’m worth (currently way under that).

      Ideally in a writing capacity but I can do almost anything except work more than 1 day in an organized office/work place. (Disabled veteran working through complicated PTSD, AAM helps me SO much but still not ready/able to be anywhere on a schedule and ‘the public’ isn’t a place I can do great work right now).

      1. Someone else*

        One thing I encourage you to incorporate into your search: work from home does not always = flex schedule. I’m not sure if your statement about “being anywhere on a schedule” only applies to literally going somewhere else, and not when you’re at home, but if the schedule bit applies even to working from home, it’s important to note that you’re both looking for remote work and a flex schedule. My company (and others we work with) have many remote workers, but office hours are still office hours and people are expected to be working during that timeframe on workdays, with occasional exceptions for specific meetings or projects.

      2. Natasha*

        Hey this is a few days late, but I’ve read before that there are federal programs that encourage hiring disabled persons and/or veterans for government agencies and companies who contract with government. I’m sorry I don’t have more details, but hopefully you know where to look for info like this? Maybe VA? Good luck.

    14. Hildegard Vonbingen*

      Learn more, both OTJ and through independent study. Spend less. Save more (I’m a saver anyway, putting away about 30% of my net each year, but I could do better).

      This isn’t strictly a professional goal, but it’s related: Learn more about investing so I do better than get a measly 1.75 percent at Ally Bank on a no-penalty 11-month CD. Yeah, that’s better than I was getting at my credit union, but I’ve been putting off getting into things like equities, etf’s, index funds, etc. with my own money, and it’s time to turn that around.

      I’m waiting for a market correction, which is inevitable given the market’s current frothy condition, and then I’ll take some “piss-away” money and start to buy and sell individual stocks, etf’s and/or index funds just to get my feet wet, take my lumps, learn the ropes (including the tax ramifications of gains/losses in different investment vehicles), and then go bigger. So much to learn! I’m not looking to get rich, just to ensure that my capital gets a better return that it does now.

      The stock market scares the living daylights out of me because it seems like gambling, and I am NOT a gambler. But I know I can do better than what I’m doing now in terms of ROI. It’s getting over the initial trepidation (it’s emotional, and it’s strong) coupled with my relative ignorance/lack of experience that are the big stumbling blocks. I’ve done well with real estate, so this is the next big hurdle for me.

    15. Mimmy*

      My goal is to move up and out of my current state government job. This March marks one year there and I have so many decisions that I really need to start making because my job is technically classified as a temp position (I call it “perma-temp”), which makes me ineligible for the benefits afforded to permanent state employees. My husband has a good job so we’re fine in terms of income and health benefits, but I’d like something that will allow me to grow, and I don’t think it’s going to happen in this current situation.

      My other goal is to make a decision about my career focus and what sort of professional development or educational resources I will need.

      In short: My goal is to break out of this cycle of indecision and start gaining some forward momentum.

  39. Incantanto*

    Off on my first business trip later this month. Any general advice for business trips? Especially being the most junior.

    Also, its sweden in January so any tips for warm smart dress for women?
    I also realised when I travel I normally use a hiking backpack as luggage. Would this look bad?

    On another note my company is currently in a very odd mood as our CEO passed away recently. Any advice on dealing with funerals for bosses, or being an englishwoman at a sikh funeral?

    1. always in email jail*

      If it’s a conference: Bring a scarf/wrap in your bag, the rooms are always freezing. And bring a portable battery pack to charge your cell phone so you’re not searching for somewhere to plug it in halfway through the day. Don’t forget business cards (maybe invest in a nice business card case if you’d like to)

    2. Natalie*

      If you have the means to pick up a hard-sided wheely suitcase, I probably would. Since you’re the most junior and this is your first business trip it’s not a huge deal if you can’t afford it or whatever, but generally speaking it does seem more advisable to not have your luggage stand out.

    3. SL #2*

      I travel a lot for work, both for conferences and for our own programs. Any way you could replace the hiking backpack with a small carry-on suitcase? It honestly looks more professional, especially if you’ll be traveling with a group of coworkers more senior to you, and it’s easier to keep your nice work clothing wrinkle-free that way.

      I do agree with email jail above me: portable battery packs and wraps/scarves are always useful in any sort of meeting room, whether or not it’s a conference. I’ve never been to Sweden, but I imagine it to be cold and snowy everywhere during the winter, so I’d suggest a nice sweater and slacks with some minimal jewelry, or a sweater dress with fleece-lined tights while indoors, and if the weather is awful, everyone else in your group is also going to be bundling into heavy winter jackets and snow boots while outdoors, so you won’t look weird for doing so, honestly.

      If you’re taking a flight, any chance you could be seated away from your coworkers? Not by a ton, but maybe a row ahead or behind. I find work trips to be a lot less stressful if I have that hour or two to recharge by myself instead of talking shop, or even socially, with coworkers.

      1. zora*

        I agree with getting a rolly suitcase. And if you don’t have the $$ to buy one, ask around for one you can borrow. I would totally lend you mine if you were my friend. It will look better and be much easier to deal with than a hiking backpack.

        1. Incantanto*

          I’ll get luggage searching this weekend then. I can afford it but I’m just so used to the convenience of backpacks.

    4. Struck By Lightning*

      I agree with everything already said regarding getting a real carry-on type suitcase, bringing things for layers, business cards, etc.

      Depending on what your company’s reimbursement/travel voucher policies are, I would strongly recommend adding some type of re-sealable envelope or pouch for your receipts. There is nothing worse than trying to figure out how to get a duplicate receipt that was somehow lost after the fact! (Not sure if this is true in private industry; in government your life will become hell for the foreseeable future if you manage to lose that $3 parking receipt that was put on your government charge card!)

      1. Incantanto*

        I don’t have a card yet. Or actually business cards: probably won’t need them as junior on client meeting rather than a conference. What level do companies usually provide them.

        Yeah, receipts make sense. Hopefully won’t need too many. Hoping for a chance to escape and explore stockholm by myself but I don’t think we have time.
        Suitcase it is then. Probably should have one but hiking bags are so good. Shows I am still at the hostel life stage :D

        1. zora*

          We automatically provide business cards to everyone starting at entry-level. Even as a junior staffer it’s possible someone might ask you for your card for some reason. If your company doesn’t normally give them to junior level, then I guess it’s no big deal, but I would ask if you haven’t already just to be sure. It does make you look more mature and professional if you can offer a card if someone asks.

        2. SL #2*

          We get business cards for all employees (I’m the one who orders them!) but I’ve honestly maybe used like 10 in my box of 250 over the last year.

    5. Grad Student*

      I agree a suitcase probably looks better depending on your field, but oh man hiking backpacks are the best for travel! So much easier to carry than pretty much anything else (as that’s what they’re designed for…), and then you don’t have to worry about dropping off your luggage while you go sightseeing or whatever.

      1. Incantanto*

        I know, right? Mine can be heavily packed and be hold luggage or lightly packed and be cabin bags, is easy to carry around, doesn’t have shit wheels that break.

        Unfortunately my field, whilst not hugely stuffy is probably not relaxed enough.

      2. Grumpy*

        Backpacks seem to be more common than rolley bags now (informal observation, stuck for many hours in airports) but rolley bags are still more professional. Sorry. I would also lend you mine.
        I use an envelope to stuff receipts in, and then write on the outside the amounts of tips and the like. I’ve also used TSA liquid bags for this.
        Earplugs can be a godsend for noisy hotels or flights. I carry a small blanket for planes and hotels (I like it when I watch tv in the rooms), but that’s me.
        Make sure you don’t set off the prescreen alarms or cause security delays in front if your coworkers (they’ll never forget) and be respectful if you do.
        Having a half-respectable looking “comfy outfit” can be useful in case you wander off to the ice machine and bump into a coworker.
        That’s all I’ve got. I’m sort of jealous, sounds like a great place to visit.

    6. SebbyGrrl*

      As appropriate to the situation:

      Go online and do a bit of research before departure. Know the hotel, is your favorite coffee available? What’s near by? Is it Ubers or cabs or public transport or?

      If easy get money exchanged before you travel. I always respect the person who is ready to tip or otherwise has the correct money handy when no one else does, also avoids the work of trying to do it there (EVEN IF EVERYTHING WILL BE ON CREDIT CARDS).

      Get a city map in advance.

      Know some local language and terms, hello, thank you, please, your’e welcome, where is the bathroom…

      :) Watch some great Scandi Murder dramas on Netflix! the original Swedish Wallender, (haha Fortitude), Annkia Benzingten, Dept. Q

    7. Iain*

      Sweden is a big place. Are you going to Kiruna or Malmö? Are you coming from another part of Sweden, or from Florida.

      Mid country it can be negative teens cold. It’s a dry cold though, so or does not feel bad out of the wind.

      Sweden is shockingly casual, so nice jeans ate probably more useful than a suit.

  40. Girasol*

    I’m a candidate for a six-year capital campaign director role at a nonporofit. I’m also planning to get pregnant and take maternity leave within the next two years.

    Is there an expectation with multi year campaign roles that employees won’t take leaves of this type, since they can theoretically be planned more than a medical crisis?

    1. Lil Fidget*

      No! Repeat after Sheryl Sandberg: Don’t leave before you leave. Not to wish you ill, but it could take you a lot longer than you thought to get pregnant and you will have cheated yourself out of what could have been a great role.

    2. always in email jail*

      That is absolutely not an expectation, people know that people get pregnant and that life events happen within a 6 year time span. You could just as easily be taking FMLA for an ill parent, etc. A lot of life can happen in 6 years.
      And yes, planning is one thing, but pregnancy doesn’t usually follow the plan. I got pregnant with my first while on the pill, so thought I could “plan” my second and leaned out a bit while trying. I regret it, because it took a year to get pregnant, and of course I had leaned back in in a big way by the time I got the positive. Just go on as normal and if it happens, it happens, and they’ll adapt.

    3. zora*

      Nope!! Especially at the higher level. As the campaign director, it would totally be reasonable that you would create the plan at the beginning, and if/when your maternity leave comes up, you would delegate parts of the plan to people to fill in while you are out. But everyone is still following your plan.

      I guess the exception would be if it’s a super tiny nonprofit where you are literally the only paid employee. But even in that case, I was hired as an interim program manager for 6 months for my friend when she went on maternity leave in a situation like that. So, it’s still possible to come up with a coverage plan. I would agree, don’t leave before you leave, and go for it!

    4. Bluebell*

      A three month maternity leave is nothing in the overall six year campaign. As someone who has been part of 3 very different multi year campaigns, I say go for it. If you get the position just plan very well and maybe keep you eye out for potential short term development consultants who might step in when your maternity leave happens. good luck!

  41. Tableau Wizard*

    There’s a chance that my husband gets a job that moves us back to my home metro area. I’m super excited but I’m trying to not get my hopes up.

    My question is this: I think that my role could be one that is remote. It’s fairly uncommon for our organization though not unheard of and there’s actually a member of my small team who moved across the country and is now remote. I’m wondering how could I approach my bosses and make my case for why I could do my job remotely. Anyone had success doing this? or totally failed at it?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Not very helpful, but I know other open threads have talked about this a little. Perhaps if you use the site search?

  42. Nearly a Fed*

    Well, I finally received the final offer from HR for my position. They met me about halfway on salary – moving me up to a step 4 instead of the requested step 7 (roughly 6% less than what I’m currently making). I was trying to compare my current salary to the lower COL schedule to justify the step, but they compared my current to the position locality COL schedule, which is higher (I’ll be hired as a local employee and then transferred to be a remote employee so that my current city will be my permanent duty station after three months). So, the 6% difference in salary is really the difference in COL adjustment between my official office locality and the locality where I live. They gave me three years of creditable service toward leave, instead of the requested nine, which bumps me up to 20 days/yr plus federal holidays (10) and sick leave (10). I’ll move up to the next level after 12 years instead of 15.

    All in all, I’m just relieved to finally get hired into a fed spot, and I think it’s about the best I could have hoped for. It’s not unusual for contractors to take a cut when they transition over, so this is not too bad. Anyway, I just wanted to provide this forum some information on the (a?) federal hiring process from an applicant’s point of view – I think a lot of folks assume you can’t negotiate anything, but there is a little wiggle room.

    1. MissMaple*

      Thanks for all the information, I think it’s definitely helpful for people making the transition. I actually got a slight raise when I first became a fed, but now am back as a contractor. It will be interesting to see what happens if I ever end up going back to being a civil servant.

      1. Nearly a Fed*

        Yeah, another contractor that I manage went through the hiring process at the same time. He ended up with a slight raise too because the step 1 salary for the grade level he applied for was higher than his currently salary, so, that definitely worked out for him. But I’ve also heard of people taking $10-20K/yr decreases.

  43. KatieKate*


    Do to low turn out, an event that I’ve been planning is probably going to be cancelled. The timing right after the holidays just didn’t work for enough people. I am almost relieved (it was going to be a lot of work for very little reward), but I can’t show it because my boss it pretty upset. It’s just not good all around here today. Hope y’alls days are going better!

    1. WellRed*

      But, you could stem some if the $ hit by cancelling rather than pushing forward? I wish my company would pull the plug when this happens but hubris.

  44. Super Anon*

    So I have been undergoing infertility treatments. It sucks but it is what it is. At the same time I’m getting to the point where I’m pretty desperate to find another job, as the atmosphere where I work now is steadily becoming more toxic. In my field, it can take months (even years) to find a position, so i want to start looking now. Can anyone share stories of changing jobs when pregnant? Or share what to red flags to look out for in this situation? I am concerned about not qualifying for FLMA, etc., but at the same time as I can’t really control when or even if I get pregnant, and I’m afraid of putting my life on hold for another few years while I finish up my current set of treatments (which will be my last for the time being).

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Agree, don’t put your life on hold while you wait, it only makes you feel worse about the situation. Just be careful of the insurance implications.

    2. always in email jail*

      Don’t put your life on hold, start looking.
      Plus, with the way the universe works, you’ll probably get pregnant right when you switch jobs :) :) (sorry, joking from previous experience).
      If you aren’t pregnant when you get a new job, don’t bring it up until you start the job. If you find yourself pregnant, don’t disclose until they’ve given you an offer. Some places will let you do “leave without pay” even if you don’t qualify for FMLA (you just have to be comfortable with verbal assurance that they aren’t going to replace you) and some will only give you Short Term Disability. I’ve seen it work both ways for people.

      1. Super Anon*

        I would definitely need leave. My biggest concern is avoiding employers/potential bosses who would be pissed at me wanting 12 weeks off. And I’m not sure how to identify those red flags.

        1. Natalie*

          Worry about that when you’re a bit closer to an offer. You’re putting a couple of carts before your horses here. :)

          1. Super Anon*

            As I apply for things it’s good to know to look out for, and I will have limited options as I’m in a niche area. I’ve been on this journey for 7 years, so I’m very aware of how dim my prognosis is, and yet I’m the breadwinner and so I can’t afford to go without a paycheck and/or make a poor decision foe next employer. So, however, dim my chances are, I need to be aware of what to look for as I apply and interview.

            1. Natalie*

              I don’t think there are tons of red flags apparent before an interview, though, so you at least have to get to that point, and decide you want the job, and get offered the job, and have it happen at a bad time with regard to your fertility treatments. That’s just a lot of variables to try and eliminate now.

    3. Machelle*

      I recently got a new job and 2 days after I started I found out that I was 7 weeks pregnant and we had been trying for awhile. I had actually got to the point that I was just going to work on my career and not even worry about it for awhile. So when we found out I was excited and nervous just because I didn’t know how to tell my boss after 6 interviews, waiting about a month to start that hey I was pregnant. So when I told him I told him that exactly that I love this job and that this will not effect my work but that I’m pregnant. I also told him I was scared to tell him because I had just started. He said that was amazing and that this changes nothing about your job. The company i work for is very family oriented. So don’t let looking for a job stop you. I wish you luck on your treatments and hope everything works out! oh and the FMLA: each company has different plans my company offers 70% pay the first 6 weeks as long as you have worked there for certain period which here is 6 monthsand then short term after that. They will hold your job for a certain period as well. Each company is diffrent

    4. Mrs Kate*

      Have you looked into purchasing your own short term disability plan prior to getting pregnant? Whether it’s worth it may depend on your health and income and spousal support but FYI.

  45. No Longer Freaking Out*

    I commented in the open thread a couple of weeks ago about an abusive former supervisor who might be applying for an open position in my current organization. I took some of the suggestions the commenters here gave me and I called my HR Rep. I told her I couldn’t know for certain whether Dolores would apply for this job, but I wanted HR to have some background information just in case. I gave the broad strokes of this woman’s bad behavior as a manager, and it didn’t take long at all for HR to reach the appropriate level of horrified. I feel pretty confident now that even if Dolores does apply, I’m safe from having to report to her again.

    Thanks to everyone who replied and helped me get my head into the right place.

    One suggestion I have for anyone who might have to have a conversation like this in the future: Write it out ahead of time. I didn’t read my statement verbatim from what I had written, but the fact that I wrote it down and edited and organized my thoughts made me a lot more confident right out of the gate.

    1. Samata*

      I remember your post and am glad you decided to go ahead and talk to HR…and even happier that HR listened to you.

      Writing out thoughts is a good reminder. I need to do that more before any hard conversations.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I remember this. Glad HR listened to you!
      I’ve been dreading accidentally applying to something where a couple of previously shitty bosses might be. Ugh, please no.

  46. Jeannie Nitro*

    I’m not sure if this is a question or just venting, since it’s pretty minor and I’m pretty sure the answer is “none of my business” BUT

    The Project Manager for our team [PM] sits downstairs and will often call our phones to ask us about progress rather than walk upstairs. This in and of itself is fine, but this running joke has started where the PM, instead of calling the dude who sits next to me [Ned] , will call the woman who sits next to him [Kelsey]. When she sees it’s PM calling, Kelsey will answer her phone with “Hi, this is Ned’s office!”, talk to PM for a bit, and then transfer the call to Ned’s phone.

    Some relevant information: everyone at my company is pretty young, and Ned and Kelsey are both 23-24ish. PM, Kelsey, and Ned have a fun, friendly relationship, so the whole thing is just basically an ongoing joke, especially because we have table-like desks in an open office, so Kelsey is transferring the call to a phone literally a meter away from her at the same table. Kelsey is not on our team, so there is no situation in which PM would call Ned & have him transfer to Kelsey in return, so it’s always one-sided.

    What bugs me is I feel like this interaction plays into the stereotype of women always ending up as somebody’s secretary, whether that’s part of their job description or not. Kelsey taught herself how to use the phone system just to facilitate this joke, as we don’t get very many calls and nobody else knows how to transfer calls. She even transferred the call to Ned’s cell phone when he was working from home one time. Ned is nice enough, but generally sort of cheerfully clueless, and seems like the kind of guy who rolls through life never noticing or thinking about things like emotional labor or gender disparities or stuff like that, and I don’t really like encouraging him to think of women as helpful people who volunteer to be his secretary, even as a joke.

    Is there any way to go about bringing this up? I don’t really want to disrupt their fun or be a wet blanket or come off as the serious grouchy old feminist (I’m not old, but I’m one of the oldest on the team), and it’s not disruptive to my own personal work, but I feel like there should be a way to point out the dynamics of this? I don’t know, what do you guys think?

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      If Kelsey is fine with it, and there’s no broader pattern, who cares? Not everything is a microaggression.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Agreed. This is not a hill to die on, especially since it’s not your hill at all, Jeannie.

    2. Lil Fidget*

      Nah, leave it – it’s not a good thing for you to spend your capital on. If it was something putting YOU in a secretary type role I’d cash my chits on that, but just something some other woman is doing that you think makes her look bad, nah. Not likely to be appreciated.

    3. Goya de la Mancha*

      Perception is so weird. My first thought about Kelsey was “good golly woman, mind your own business!”

    4. Victoria, Please*

      Oh, ick. You’re right that it’s none of your business as it’s not affecting your work. But I’m right there with you that it’s perpetuating a problem. Unfortunately not one that you can really do anything about at the moment.

      If Kelsey ever does decide to stop playing, you can be supportive then. Hopefully she’ll be laughing with some friends one evening and describe this, and someone will say “WTF, Kelsey, make Ned answer his own damn phone.”

    5. Emilitron*

      I can see why Kelsey’s script bothers you, but my real question is, why the heck is PM calling Kelsey if K is not on their team? You say they talk for a few minutes, so sounds like they actually need to talk with K, and they do that, and it’s just that Ned is always next on the list. The real solution here is for PM to actually call Ned if they need to talk with him. In any case I wouldn’t fault Kelsey for making a joke out of it – even though I agree that K is setting herself up to sound like an underling so the joke’s on her, she’s not the one who needs to change behavior. (and maybe she actually started this as a backhanded way to suggesting that PM needs to actually call Ned instead of her, except that it totally went over PM’s head?)

      In my mind, the two possible approaches would be
      1. ask PM if they realize they’re treating K badly by not calling Ned directly
      2. ask Kelsey if she started the whole schtick as a sarcastic jab to get PM to stop – “because it sure would annoy the heck out of me if PM were asking me to answer Ned’s phone”. i.e. you’re giving her your perspective, as well as your permission to be annoyed by it, but not requiring that she see it the same way.

      But agreeing with other replies, it’s not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, and it’s not really your business, so if it were me I’d just keep my mouth shut unless the opportunity to say something comes up. (but worthwhile to figure out what that opportunity would look like and what you’d say)

      1. Jeannie Nitro*

        I don’t really know how it started tbh. You’re right that the issue would solve itself if PM just called Ned in the first place, but she (PM) is friends with Kelsey too – whenever she does come upstairs instead of calling, she’ll sit and chat with both Kelsey and Ned. So it seems like she’s using calling Kelsey first in order to have a friendly chat with her before getting down to business with Ned, like she would if she had just walked upstairs? I don’t know, the whole thing is kind of silly to me, and I know it’s basically just an inside joke between the three of them, but it rubs me the wrong way is all.

        I have joked that when PM needs to talk to me she should call Ned’s phone so he can transfer it to me . . . but since he hasn’t learned how to transfer stuff, that’s about as far as it went.

  47. Interim ED problems*

    I’m the interim ED at a nonprofit with 15 staff members. When I first got the job a few months ago, I noticed there were some big red operational flags: employees coming to work whenever they felt like it and scrolling through facebook all day, not taking any accountability for achieving their strategic goals or aligning their day to day work with our strategic plan.

    When I brought these concerns to the board with my recommendation to tighten operations and let go of 3 severely under-performing employees, they encouraged that I tighten operations but insisted that I work with the under-performing employees on performance improvement plans instead of terminating them, with the understanding that once a permanent ED was hired, she could make a decision based on their progress on their PIP.

    Now a month later, we’re hemorrhaging quality employees and board members. 2 of the board members with the closest ties to the organization have left as well as our high funtioning office manager who left for a better title/wages/job. All that’s left are employees who don’t have the motivation or initiative to work on our strategic plan and mission and 3 board members who are checked out. Employees are defensive and some are outright hostile to aligning their performance to measurable goals and objectives.

    I have tried to hire new employees, but the hiring market for our type of nonprofit is tough in our city. There are lots of progressive organizations that compete with us for quality workers and our wages are low, despite great benefits. Furthermore the ED search was scrapped and stalled, and will resume in a month. I don’t know if I can last that long. Can this nonprofit be turned around?

    1. Super Anon*

      From my perspective, not without a major restructuring. Board members shouldn’t have any say on staffing decisions. It doesn’t matter if you are the interim ED or not. Salaries and staffing are and should the purview of the ED and the relevant supervisory staff, not the role of the board.

      To me it sounds like you would be better off by firing some people and then increasing salaries so that you can more effectively compete with the other nonprofits in your area. I know many nonprofits claim to have great benefits, I know I worked for a nonprofit who argued that the benefits made up for the lower salaries, but what they didn’t realize is that their “great benefits package” was the industry standard.

      1. Super Anon*

        I did want to add that it sounds like the board have really made it impossible for you to do your job in any meaningful way. And it will make it that much more challenging to find someone permanent to take on that role. Any chance you’ll want the role permanently?

        1. Interim ED problems*

          I am considering applying for the role.
          Clarification: I asked the board for their recommendation on terminating under-performing employees and they gave me one. I think their insistence on a PIP was to justify termination. Maybe it was my mistake for not setting a deadline on the PIPs?

          The suggestion to terminate and use the savings to increase salaries is a good one, thank you.

          1. Super Anon*

            A deadline is a must with a PIP. I think for long-term employees (especially in poorly functioning non-profits) a PIP with no deadline wouldn’t be taken seriously.

            Although honestly, once you fire one person people start to get that you are serious.

          2. SilverRadicand*

            Deadlines are definitely important and useful, but not necessary to firing. When you put someone on a PIP, the expectation is that there should be significant improvement quick (though it might take a bit to get fully get to the PIP-set level of performance). If it’s been a month and the employees on PIP haven’t even made progress, I’d say go ahead and terminate. As Super Anon says, the PIP’s might not be getting taken seriously, but I’ll bet after the first employee gets fired the rest of the employees will take notice.
            At a minimum, I would do a follow-up on the PIPs letting the employees know that the are not on track to meet their performance goals set by the PIP and that if they don’t improve by X date, termination WILL happen.

            Take all this with a grain of salt though. I don’t work at a non-profit or deal with boards.

    2. Lil Fidget*

      Oh dear, it sounds like it’s your role that needs to be turned around! They can’t keep you on as an ED without giving you the authority of the ED – that sounds like setting you up to fail. I hope you’re also job searching!

    3. I'm Not Phyllis*

      The board shouldn’t have this kind of control over staffing … have they asked for this since you’re in an interim role? Or is this the norm for them? Since they have given you this feedback, I think you have to follow their request, but you could provide them with a follow-up and add your concerns.
      I think it can be turned around … but it depends on the leadership – both the ED and the Board. The Board needs to allow the ED to manage (that’s what the ED is there for!). If they’re constantly overstepping into operations it can be difficult … the ED has to take a strong stand but it can still be done.

      1. Interim ED problems*

        I gave the wrong impression. I asked the board for a recommendation and they gave me one, but it’s on me to hire and fire.

        At this point the board is made up of rubber stampers. They would agree with anything I put in front of them, but I don’t know how to salvage this.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I would look for a new job.

          You’ve lost all your high quality employees and an excellent office manager, the employees you’re left with have attitude and competence issues, and you are having trouble hiring new employees due to a combination of low pay, better opportunities at other jobs, and the fact that your non-profit is in a state of leaderless chaos.

          At this point, changing things is going to either be a multi-year long, painful process where you have to fight for every bit of progress, or a case of burning things down to the ground, re-forming the non-profit from scratch, and starting over with a fresh slate (all new employees, higher salaries, possibly a new board, and maybe even a new name).

  48. Annie Moose*

    I need some advice on how to have a better attitude about people that you dislike for no good reason.

    So, I have a coworker, Wakeen, who I just don’t like that much. The main issue, I think, is that he holds particular political/social/etc. views that I used to hold, but no longer do. Normally, I think I’m pretty OK with handling people with differing views from me, but it’s… different when the views in question are ones that you yourself used to hold. I know this is such a pretentious thing to say, but a part of me is like, “You’ve grown beyond such ideas, which means you’re better/more mature/more right/whatever.” Intellectually I know I’m not better than Wakeen. I know I’m not smarter than him. I’m not even necessarily more right than him. I just happen to have gone through some experiences that radically reshaped my thinking on certain topics.

    But no matter how much I tell myself this, I can’t stop that awful little voice in the back of my head that tells me these things anyway. I don’t think it’s come out in our interactions, I’ve worked very hard to be friendly and joke with him the same as we all do on my team, but any time he speaks up (not just on social topics, but even technical work-related ones!) I find myself inclined to dismiss his ideas out of hand and come up with reasons to avoid talking about anything in-depth with him.

    Does anyone have strategies on how to better handle this?? It’s really bothering me that I can’t just let it go.

    (for the record, I’m not talking about racism/sexism/etc., it’s much lower stakes stuff than that. Wakeen isn’t a bad person, he just holds views that I now believe to be flawed/missing the bigger picture/etc. Think, like, differences of opinion on economic systems and religious views)

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Can you focus on identifying things you like about Wakeen? Maybe try to find three things every day that you appreciate or respect or admire, even if it’s like, those are nice shoes.

      1. N.J.*

        I’m going to piggyback off of your advice. I worked at a place for a little over a year with several people with whom I differed politically, personality wise and even morally in some cases. It took a relentless focus on positivity to make it through the day pleasantly with these folks. It is draining, but it can be done. For example, for one particularly challenging coworker, I focused on the fact that he was the most reliable to be paired with on a shift (he didn’t shirk job duties and honestly tried to do a good job) and was very good at motivating lower level employees. With many I focused on the things we had in common socially —hobbies, talking about our families, vacation plans etc. With some, you can focus on picking their brains about their area of expertise, work based or personal hobby based, and remind yourself to appreciate their level of mastery, their knowledge base and any willingness to help they may have. We have all had some sort of activity or life situation that we have needed to force ourselves to warm up to, at least to some degree. For some of the frustrations, Alison’s advice on this blog for more outrageous work environments can be useful in this context—pretend you are an anthropologist observing an alien culture. Find amusement in the idiosyncrasies and foibles.

        To get very real here for a moment, the strategies I talked about above kept me reasonably sane and pleasant to interact with in a workplace with a boss who said people who aren’t Christians and don’t like prayer should leave the U.S., a direct coworker who constantly verbally sexually harassed me and others, and at an organization that was dedicated to a political cause which I actually generally disapprove of, though not fully. I worked there because I needed the money, but I’m relatively confident that to this day the assholes I worked with thought I liked them reasonably well and was neutral on the political issue and appreciated their passion, intelligence and expertise. You can’t do it forever, but if your coworker isn’t a complete monster you’d be surprised what you can tolerate and what you can learn to appreciate.

    2. Temperance*

      I don’t think you have to have in-depth political conversations or religious conversations with colleagues. Are his ideas otherwise good?

      There are many people that I disagree with and like otherwise. They all have actually thought about their positions, though, and can explain why they believe X or Y. People who are not intelligent-seeming and don’t do any research, and just parrot what they’ve heard are a pet peeve of mine, but I can’t imagine why a colleague would feel the need to talk about religion and politics at work.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Well, he doesn’t usually talk in-depth about this stuff, really. But like anybody, sometimes his personal views do come up in his approach to certain topics and comments he makes. (for example, mentioning books he happens to be reading) That’s why it’s a weird place for me to be. Wakeen isn’t actually doing anything wrong–the wrong is on me for getting irrationally annoyed with his personal views.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      Did you know it’s really REALLY common and normal to feel like this about views or habits you’ve moved past. It’s not horrendously unreasonable of you – just part of being human.

      I remember asking my supervisor (the reflective/clinical kind not my line manager) what to do about a colleague whose conversations were driving me crackers. His answer: sometimes in life, when you are irritated by someone at work even though you know you need to get along with them, it really just helps to imagine tearing their head off.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Yes, the strongest zealots are people who once had the habit and kicked it. The people I know who have lost a lot of weight are the worst fat-shamers, people who used to smoke are rabidly anti-smoking, and I noted that the lady who was so opposed to porn on yesterday’s thread was someone who used to enjoy it but quit it. I notice it myself when I’m trying to cut back on something (junk food, alcohol), I have to kind of mentally demonize it in order to be successful. I think when you get into that mindset it’s harder to be moderate even once the crisis is past.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Privately, wish him well. Do this daily perhaps several times a day. The idea is to wear down the old thought pattern of how big a jerk he is. In order to get rid of negative thoughts they need to be replaced with something else. So wish him well when you catch yourself with a negative thought. If you are having a really bad time of it go through and wish his family well, wish his neighbors well, wish his kindergarten teacher well. Keep going, fill up that brain space with well wishes.

      Many times, after a while of wishing someone well, we can find it a bit harder to be so critical of them. This is not an instant solution, it will take time.

  49. Rilara*

    Is it odd to apply to internships in 2 different cities at the same company? I’m a grad student applying to summer internships, and I’ve done it in the past, but didn’t think to ask if this is considered acceptable until now!

    The internships in each city are identical, they just happen to be in different offices of the company. It’s for engineering as well if the field matters. I know that applying for multiple completely different positions in one company looks odd, but I’m not sure if that standard applies for student internships. Thanks in advance!

    1. CAN_NewGrad*

      Not the same field (accounting), but it’s pretty standard to do this because a lot of people apply to their hometown location as well as the location they go to school in since they’re both equally feasible. In fact, most firms allow you to do it in one application since it’s so common.

    1. Victoria, Please*

      I get hummingbirds at my office window. Your view definitely beats mine though!

      I love that no two days are quite the same. Never bored.

      1. zora*

        I got to watch a hummingbird building a nest in the tree outside my office window at a previous job. It was definitely the (only good) best thing about that job.

        At my current job I love that my boss is smart and supportive and treats us all like adults and says thank you to me a lot. And I love the perks of “agency life” like the occasional free booze and nice meals. Had very little of those in the nonprofit world, so I’m enjoying them while I have them.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        God, you’re so lucky. On the third floor at Exjob, we got huge arachnids that spun these giant cocoon nests right up against the window, where the window cleaners couldn’t really reach. As in, you could see inside them. It was so groooooooooooooss!

    2. Amber Rose*

      My coworkers. They’re just the greatest people on the planet. One day when I leave, I will probably actually cry.

    3. Cookie D'oh*

      Flexibility. I work 8-5ish, but it’s not a big deal if I need to leave early or come in late. I can take a long lunch if I need to run errands. I can work from home as needed.

      The company switched over to unlimited vacation time a couple years ago. People are allowed to take vacation without feeling guilty.

      There’s definitely some annoyances about the day to day work, but it’s not enough for me too look elsewhere. I’ve been here 17 years and it would be an adjustment to work in a more rigid environment.

    4. Laura*

      Never the same day, and I love being part of people’s special moments… helping find the right teapot for the occasion.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      We are first in line off the steam heat system. The office is at least 90 degrees on these cold days. It’s almost as good as a wood stove. Almost.

    6. Windchime*

      First of all, the people. I have a great manager who is kind and friendly, but also runs a tight ship and has clear expectations. My teammates are mature, reasonable people who are skilled at their jobs and really productive. We walk to Starbucks together and it’s just really congenial.

      Also, the building. Years ago, it was my dream to work in a big downtown building and now I am. We are surrounded by large windows and have a view out to a busy, pretty street. Right now, the trees are all filled with white lights for the holidays and it’s so pretty. We can often hear seagulls making their seagull noise and are just a few blocks from the waterfront.

  50. stitchinthyme*

    TL;DR: Good idea or bad idea to sell your boss a car?

    So I happened to be chatting with my boss about cars, and mentioned that my husband has been wanting to get rid of my 1999 Honda CR-V and get an all-electric, while I’ve been resisting (the CR-V is paid for, runs fine, has relatively low mileage for a car that age, and hardly ever gets used since we mostly carpool to work in our other car). My boss said his son will be driving in a few months and he expressed interest in possibly buying it. He took it for a test drive and I told him he’s more than welcome to take it overnight, get it checked over by a mechanic, whatever. (Meanwhile, my husband is ecstatic at this news, although I did tell him there was no guarantee, and wants to go start test-driving electrics.)

    My coworker says it’s a bad idea to sell a car to a boss; I mentioned this to Boss and he said, “Oh, I realize that at this age and this price [the blue-book value], it will be as-is, and I expect it to need some work.” So I don’t think there will be a problem, especially if we get it looked at first so there are no surprises.

    Is my coworker right? Should I back away from this, or take an easy opportunity to get an old car off my hands for more than I could likely trade it in for?

    1. Snark*

      So, I sold a car to a coworker a few years ago – seemed like a reasonable, pleasant fellow, and paid me a fair price for an older car. Fast forward six months, and he’s sending me multiparagraph emails demanding that I cover half the cost of replacing the transmission, which his daughter had trashed in some way he was evasive about. Your mileage may vary, but I generally try not to get into financial transactions totaling more that the cost of a few lattes with coworkers.

    2. Amber Rose*

      I’d say it’s fine as long as boss isn’t paying it off in installments. Power imbalances would make chasing down unpaid money really miserable for you. But if you get paid up front and the paperwork is in order, I don’t see a problem with it.

      1. stitchinthyme*

        I’d assume he’d just pay me all at once. While I have no idea how much he makes, I’m assuming it’s more than I do since he’s my boss, and I could afford to pay the blue-book value in one lump sum.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      It comes down to the individual. If your boss is level headed and you believe they won’t come back to you with issues, then it should be OK. It would be different if you were selling an old clunker that will need repair which would have the potential of buyer remorse, but this is a CRV and you said it has been reliable. And it will be the kid driving it, not the boss.
      We’ve had car sales in my office that came down the line, CEO sold to staff, and up the line from staff to managers. So far no issues.

      1. stitchinthyme*

        Yeah, I don’t think my boss is the type to do what Amber Rose talks about in her response above. He seems very well aware that due to the age of the car and the fact that it will be a new driver operating it (and it’s a stick, so even more room for error there!), stuff might break. And he specifically mentioned the phrase “as is” when we were talking about it.

    4. always in email jail*

      I absolutely would not do this. Too much potential for mixing personal business and business business

    5. Dawn*

      Find a general vehicle sale contract, with wording that states “as-is”, and you sign it at the time of payment. Not a big deal if your boss is usually a sane person.

        1. Epsilon Delta*

          YES always! I sold my car to someone (not a coworker or friend) and they got a parking ticket before they registered it in their name. So the ticket came to me. I was able to go to the police station with the bill of sale and they happily destroyed the parking ticket with my name and reprinted it with his name and address. Seriously always do the bill of sale.

    6. This Daydreamer*

      It probably will be okay, but if it goes bad it can go really bad. Since he’s already test driven the car I’m leaning towards going for it, since letting him drive it pretty much tells him he can buy it, but watch out for any bad signs.

    7. Struck By Lightning*

      Incredibly, incredibly bad idea.

      Even assuming nothing goes wrong with the car after you sell it and both of you are perfectly happy with the deal forever and ever…you STILL open yourselves up for perceived favoritism down the line. “Oh, boss let Stitchinthyme work from home because she gave him such a good deal on that car last year” “Oh, Stitchinthyme always gets the good projects because she gave boss a good deal, not because she does better work”. It doesn’t matter if it’s true, what matters is the perception.

      Or the flip side, the car needs expensive repairs, boss doesn’t blame you but you feel guilty so you don’t feel like you can say no when your boss asks you to come in on your day off, or take a less desirable schedule, or whatever.

      But honestly, used cars are a nightmare to sell to someone you know in general…something almost ALWAYS goes wrong with them because cars need to be repaired. Case in point, I bought my parents’ old civic which had perfect maintenance and all highway mileage…2 months later it needed $2k in repairs. My parents are wonderful and paid for the repairs, but do you really want to have that situation with your boss?

    8. The Ginger Ginger*

      If you go for it, I’d get a super basic sales-y contract (can you tell I’m not a lawyer?) in place that absolves you of any future responsibility for repair or anything, and stating that it’s being sold for blue book price. That way there’s no question of anything looping back to you, and if some coworker later tries to play the favoritism card for the “good deal” you gave him, you can give the perfectly reasonable response that you didn’t set the price, blue book did.

    9. Blue Eagle*

      Something similar happened with a co-worker and it was a nightmare. Sometimes cars have mechanical problems that don’t show themselves to the seller, but if it happens within a year or two the buyer can feel like they were taken. Not your fault, of course, but if it is your boss, then you get the blowback. My recommendation is “don’t sell a used car to your boss”.

    10. Former Retail Manager*

      BAD IDEA!! DON’T DO IT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!! Sorry…but I feel strongly. :)

      There’s is really no upside to this transaction (other than the obvious cash from the sale) and many potential downsides. Even if this isn’t your career, and maybe just a part-time job, it isn’t worth it. People seem to have some very wildly unrealistic expectations regarding used vehicles purchased from people they know. Do a private party sale using, Offer Up, 5 miles, or one of the many other reliable apps out there. I assure you, you’ll find a buyer for a 99 CRV, probably relatively quickly.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      My rule of thumb on many things is “If I have to ask about it, then probably I should not do it.” I have not seen this go well. I’d vote no on this one.

    12. Hildegard Vonbingen*

      I would not do it. When it comes to financial transactions, I look at it in terms of risks vs. rewards. If you can sell the car to somebody else at the same price, you’re home free (if you have a good sales contract). There’s no risk, because your contract is bullet-proof and if you sell to someone unreasonable, you can shut them down fast with no repercussions.

      Same scenario, but with boss or co-worker. Same bullet-proof contract. But the buyer becomes unreasonable. You’re stuck dealing with their nonsense, and you could face career repercussions (yes, even if your boss/co-worker buyer is being totally unreasonable and doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on). So there’s a downside risk.

      Why take that risk, assuming you can get just as good a price from somebody else you can totally walk away from if they become unreasonable? Like I said – I wouldn’t do it.

  51. Amber Rose*

    So, my province has an updated Employment Standards Code, with some very exciting and much needed changes. Like, you don’t have to be employed for a year to qualify for maternity leave, just until you’re out of the 90 day probation. You also get stat pay even if you’ve worked less than 30 days. I learned this by weird coincidence (I was actually looking up fatality reports). So I spent most of yesterday frantically updating documents, since I guess nobody else around here knew about it either, which is a problem for payroll. I guess it’s good I’m here?

    Friday question: I know you’re supposed to keep negativity down and not complain about work at work, but can I complain about the building? Because it took us months to get the front steps fixed last year and they’re already crumbling apart, and one of the back doors is so horribly busted the door guy just shrugged and said it was unfixable. It’s very frustrating, and it’s hard to keep that out of my voice when I’m warning people not to fall on the broken stairs, or open the door. Upper management is fed up too, but it’s hard to get fixes through the condo board for the building.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      The advice against complaining is about fruitless, repeated complaints when you’re not proactively addressing the problem. Those sound like legitimate issues to bring up and address!

      1. Amber Rose*

        The problem is, I can’t address them. The door won’t be fixed, and the stairs might be fixed in August if we’re lucky. And will probably fall apart next winter. :/

    2. I'm Not Phyllis*

      I think a lot of the employers here are surprised by the changes to the ESA (though I’m not sure how? It’s been in the media for months!).

      I think you should definitely complain about issues like this – obviously only to the right people and not to the visitors you’re warning not to fall down the stairs. These are safety issues.

    3. The Ginger Ginger*

      Is there a way to play on legality when requesting the repairs from the condo board? That repair sounds like basic/safety-related issues that should be covered in any half way decent rental contract. Maybe a letter from a lawyer would get things a-movin’?

      1. The Ginger Ginger*

        As in, steps that would cause an injury and a door that can’t open (FIRE HAZARD, anyone?) are just asking for a lawsuit if something goes wrong.

        1. Amber Rose