open thread – July 6-7, 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.

{ 1,584 comments… read them below }

  1. June

    I perform research as a component of my job, and would like to eventually be able to do any needed statistical analyses independently (rather than having to rely on our in-house statistician who often has many projects at once). In particular, does anyone have any recommended resources for learning how to perform multivariate analyses?

    1. epi

      I would really recommend taking a class. The basic methods you would probably want to use aren’t that hard, but it can take a while to wrap your head around them and it helps to understand some of the math– it will help you understand the connections between different statistical methods and choose appropriately. Plus, if you haven’t had much exposure to programming it is easier IMO to learn in a classroom environment. They’ll give you example code which can be extremely useful, and you’ll pick up the language better if you are given a project to apply it to. The good news is, if you choose your classes wisely you should only need a couple. For things more advanced than that, you will still want to kick the analysis to an actual statistician anyway.

      If you’re at a university or an organization with a relationship to a university, see if you can take a couple courses that way. I highly recommend intro biostatistics courses if you can access them– they are very geared towards people in other fields who will be doing applied statistics. Depending on your field, there may also be a “statistical methods for us” type class in the relevant department. Those can be a great choice because you will probably be learning in the statistical language/environment that is actually favored in your field. If you are looking to lighten the load on your statistician, do your own initial power and descriptive analyses, interpret what they send back to you, and generally be a bit more self-sufficient with the methods that many researchers in your field tend to do for themselves, biostats or “stats for us” are great choices.

      Finally, data science bootcamps are a thing now. I can’t speak to the quality of any of them! But many organizations that offer those do have one-off classes that are really tightly focused on getting you up and running with a given popular statistical method. This would be the fastest way, but likely the most expensive (no financial aid, not necessarily eligible for tuition reimbursement by your employer) and least tailored to researchers’ needs and preferred languages.

      1. Violet

        I’m going to second this, especially if your previous exposure to statistics is limited. Your local community college may offer a low-cost introductory statistics class (check in the psychology and/or political science departments for a non-calculus-based one). Many universities also offer certificates online that have statistics classes in them. If you grasp math pretty easily, then the MOOC route may work out well.

    2. periwinkle

      Check Udemy/Coursera/Udacity for courses on stats. Udemy has frequent sales – never pay full price there when they regularly offer “any course for $10” deals. Does anyone actually pay full price for Udemy? Hmm. But anyway… I would not have wanted to tackle multivariate analysis without a structured course and someone to point out what I’m doing wrong. MANOVA isn’t difficult but when you start getting into factor analysis, it’s very cool but challenging.

    3. Business Manager

      I took a stats class for grad school a year ago ish & our professor had us read the book Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data by Charles Wheelan which was helpful for big picture and interesting to boot. We also used an online learning thing that I now have completely forgotten. I’ve been doing a free course on sql on datacamp and I’m betting they’ll have some stuff on there around teaching statistics as well.

      1. Is pumpkin a vegetable?

        That sounds really interesting! I just ordered it from the library, thank you!

      2. Sally

        +1 for that book. I read it while I was taking a intro to stats class for grad school last semester, and it really helped reinforce what I was learning.

    4. Virginian

      See if a library near you subscribes to Lynda.com. Lynda may have video tutorials about multivariate analyses.

    5. JustaTech

      I’ve taken biostats (a subset of statistics for the life sciences) from Udemey, Udacity, Coursera, EdX and (as part of a master’s degree) Berkeley. I had a hard time with a lot of probability (statistics were easier), so I found taking several classes from different teachers was really helpful.

      I also keep my undergrad stats textbook on my desk for when I want to check on something. The help forums for whatever software you’re using (assuming it’s not Excel) can also be helpful to know when to use which type of analysis.

      Good luck!

    6. A tester, not a developer

      I agree with epi. My university offers a course called ‘Statistics for the Social Sciences’ that I’ve found to be really helpful over the years.

    7. frequent reader

      I don’t know how strong your stats background is, but definitely look into what you can get access to through your local library (mine has Lynda for sure) and what your employer might be willing to pay for.

      R is a very common statistical analysis software because it’s open source/free but it’s also got a bit steeper of a learning curve. That being said there are a lot of resources for using it online. The Knight Center is about to launch an intro class on R designed for Journalists so that might be something to look into?

      https://knightcenter.utexas.edu/blog/00-19845-learn-how-find-great-stories-data-register-now-free-online-course-intro-r-journalists

    8. grace

      What everyone else has said — make sure you modify according to your learning style. For example, I learn best by talking through things and then DOING them, so taking an online course for me without someone next to me wasn’t helpful.

      I personally use STATA, and I was horrible at SPSS — so don’t be afraid, if you can, to try out different softwares. They each have their own way of doing things, but one may resonate with you more.

      1. Violet

        Stata, in my opinion, is a perfect middle ground. It’s syntax (which is so much easier for intermediate to advanced users than SPSS’s GUI-based system) but the syntax is pretty simple and makes sense, so it’s easier to learn than SAS or R.

    9. Darcy

      Statistics with Microsoft Excel by Beverly Dretzke provides details about how to perform the operations in Excel, and high-level information about what the results mean and is a good starting point. I also found Naked Statistics to be helpful (and an easy read), and one other really good read that helps to explain why we use the different methods and what they mean is The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver.

    10. MichaelM

      Learn to use SAS statistical software. If is now GUI driven and is in every Fortune 500 company. A great skill for your resume. Licences are not cheap, but worth it.

      1. AshK413

        Don’t SAS licenses cost almost $10K? I would stick with R or Python since they’re just as popular (if not more so) and are free.

      2. Jerry Vandesic

        I am going to disagree with using SAS as a foundation for a career. I say that as someone who managed over 1000 SAS licenses at a previous company, and paid over $10M/year in license fees to SAS. That being said, SAS has lost much of it’s market impact over the past decade. I do have some people currently working for me who use SAS, but when looking for new hires I look primarily for people with Python and R. They are much more modern data analysis tools, and they will continue to eat away at SAS’s market influence. My only caveat to that statement would be if you work in a regulated industry (e.g., pharma) where government regulations carve out a preference for working in SAS; in that case you might want to stick to SAS, but understand that if you step out of that field you will not have the same foundation to rely upon.

      3. Violet

        Ehhh. Not all Fortune 500 companies use SAS. I learned how to use SAS in graduate school, and I now work at a Fortune 500 company doing statistical analysis and never use it. I use SPSS and R more frequently.

        Honestly, I don’t think it really matters what statistical program you start with. It’s kind of like a programming language in that sense – once you learn one, it’s far easier to learn a new one; it’s just figuring out how the syntax works (or the GUI).

      1. periwinkle

        Yes to Andy Field! I took multivariate statistics and we used his text on stats & SPSS, and I’ve also picked up his book on designing and reporting experiments. Field’s book is sometimes better at indexing his fun examples than stats terminology, but that’s a relatively minor quibble.

  2. Murphy

    2 years ago I joined a mentoring program through a professional organization. At our yearly conference, I met with my mentor + one of her colleagues and had a good conversation. I feel really bad about this, but I never followed up with her after the conference to say thanks for the conversation or anything. I kept meaning to do it…I have no good excuse, time just got away from me. She also never reached out to me, so I haven’t spoken to her since. The next year I didn’t attend the conference for personal reasons. I did attend this year’s conference a few months ago, and saw her across the room, but I was too embarrassed to say anything. (I am made of social anxiety.) I have no idea if she saw me.

    I was invited along with a bunch of other people to be a part of a committee through this organization. We haven’t had a teleconference yet, but we were assigned to different task teams. My former mentor is the lead on the team that I was assigned to. How do I navigate this situation? Should I reach out to her and apologize?

    1. LadyByTheLake

      I am not sure a true “apology” is in order, and certainly embarrassment is not called for. More of a “It’s so good to see you. I got so busy that I did not have a chance to circle back after our last conversation. I wanted to thank you for [Point out specific example of something helpful she said, if you can]. How have you been?”

    2. AnnStanSam

      If I were you, I wouldn’t apologize, but it might be nice to reach out and mention that you enjoyed your conversation a couple of years ago and look forward to working with her.

    3. Amber T

      I agree with LadyByTheLake and AnnStanSam – I wouldn’t really apologize, but reach out beforehand and thank her for the conversation, that you’ve thought about it or referenced it since, you’re eager to work with her again, etc.

    4. Naptime Enthusiast

      I don’t think you need to harp on the apology, you can say something along the lines of “I’m excited to work with you! I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to chat at the last convention”, and see how she replies. But I would definitely acknowledge your mentoring relationship in some way when you get started.

      I’ve had mentees through organizations that haven’t followed up afterwards, but when they have reached out much later I was happy to chat with them. I didn’t expect them to follow up though, especially those that are just out of school. Life happens.

    5. Deryn

      I don’t think I would apologize, but I would think that reaching out to reconnect a bit before you start working together again would help alleviate any awkwardness you feel (I say this as a fellow ball of social anxiety). You could definitely light-heartedly acknowledge that you haven’t talked in a long time. Maybe an email with something along the lines of, “I saw that I was assigned to your team – I’m really glad we’ll be working together again, and it made me realize we haven’t had a chance to catch up in a while! Last time we talked at [conference], your [comments/advice/whatever] about [topic] were really helpful with [whatever]. How has [project/committee/other thing she’s involved with] being going for you lately?” You’d obviously want to adjust the wording to take into account how close your relationship with her is and any details or industry specifics. It’s totally normal to lose touch with people! My preferred way to handle that is to just lightly acknowledge it without giving it too much weight (even if I internally feel ashamed or guilty about it) and go from there. She’ll probably be glad you reached out, and this way you can start off your work together on a cheerful note.

    6. Murphy

      Thanks everyone! This is helpful. I’ll think about wording to reach out before we start work but not necessarily apologize.

      1. The Curator

        As someone who had mentored through a professional organization, I am here to say. Don’t worry about it. On the other hand, I would be super pleased that you were appointed to the committee (fruits of my labor). I would be over the moon if you publicly acknowledged ( you know on the conference call or meeting during introductions, Good to hear The Curator and to be on this committee) how helpful the mentorship program was and even though I hadn’t heard from you in a while (life) how much my being there for you as a mentor informs your work/position.

        I am that person at conferences when someone says hey did you hear about Daria getting the prestigious appointment to the Teapot Science committee, I get to say why yes, as her Teapot Association Mentor, I am the one who suggested that she complete her degree at The Urban Lear Technological Institute and helped her get that Earl Grey Grant.

  3. MomToBe…Maybe

    TL;DR VERSION: After 5 years, Not So Great Job turned into Toxic Job and I quit, was out of work for 6 months, then started working part time. I don’t want to work anything more than part time with a short commute because we are planning to have kids within the next year or so. Husband is pressuring me to work a high-paying “city job” so he can quit his Kind of Crappy almost 6-figure salary job and change careers. The idea of working full time and caring for a child is making me nauseous, and not what we previously agreed upon (since we can financially afford for me to work less, but only if he stays at his current job). How do I get him to see that if I’m going to be the primary caregiver (which is what we previously agreed upon and I am literally thrilled about!!!), that I can’t be expected to work crazy long hours?

    VERSION WITH THE JUICY DETAILS

    I worked at Not So Great Job for about 6 years. My position changed in year 4 and I got stuck with Horrible Boss as I went into year 5. Not So Great Job turned into Toxic Job and I quit without anything lined up. I was out of work for 6 months, and now I’m working part time (receptionist/data entry type stuff).

    My husband isn’t particularly fond of his job, but he has no other employment background. Think like a being a security guard for 10 years and not wanting to do it anymore, but you’ve never having another job type (no retail, office work, food service, handy-man skills, etc.). If he were to change fields, he would most likely receive a drastic drop in pay.

    I’m pretty sure he still resents that I quit Toxic Job and he’s stuck at Kind of Crappy Job. I’ve tried to explain that at least he makes good money: 3 to 4 times as much as I do. I’ve also tried to explain that that in my case Horrible Boss was about 10 feet away from me for 8-10 hours a day/5 days a week. Because his job requires being in different rooms of Home Base, working in multiple buildings, and working 1st, 2nd, or 3rd shift, he can get away from Captain Doo-Doo Head, who usually works 1st or 2nd shift and stays in his office at Home Base.

    I see a glimmer in his eye when he talks about me getting a get a “city job” and “moving up the corporate ladder” (which I don’t want at all). I’m thinking he’s saying that so I can make more money and he’ll have more leeway in getting another (lower-paying) job. I get where he’s coming from, but he doesn’t understand how much a change like that would affect our hopefully soon-to-be-growing family. I know a “city job” expects that you work at least 8 hours a day plus an at least a 1-hour commute each way; it seems like I’d be “working” 12 hours a day at a minimum. If we’re going to have kids within the next year or so, I’m picturing being out of the house for 12 hours and then getting baby from daycare, play-time, feedings, cleaning the house, laundry, bath-time, bedtime – my head is spinning!

    When he works overnight shifts during the week, I don’t really see him for 2 to 3 days. I can’t imagine being at work all day and with baby all night, and not having any help for days at a time! I’ve mentioned how I’d much rather stay at home with baby than work and pay for childcare, or work part time or even work from home if I could, which he seemed to agree with, but I feel like he’s still hoping I’ll come around to the idea that me getting a full time job and using daycare wouldn’t be “that bad.” We will need to budget a little better, but we can financially afford for me to work less, but only if he stays at his current job or gets a job with the same salary.

    How do I get him to see that if I’m going to be the primary caregiver (which is what we previously agreed upon and I am literally thrilled about!!!), that I can’t be expected to work crazy long hours?

    1. ThatGirl

      Sooo I think there are a few things going on here. And I thought about rambling on for awhile, but I think it comes down to this:

      He’s allowed to not be happy with his job, and he should maybe look for a new one. That doesn’t mean /you/ need to get a new job. I think you guys need to have a long talk (maybe with the help of a counselor?) about how you both feel about your careers/job prospects, what he wants for himself, what he and you want for your family, and how that all meshes.

      1. GRA

        Second the counselor suggestion. This seems like a lot that the two of you need to work through – big life change choices! – and some professional guidance and a safe space to discuss it might be useful.

      2. MomToBe…Maybe

        I did mention couples counseling, but he basically said therapy is for neurotic losers who are willing to throw their money away to pay someone to sing Kumbaya with them or tell them to count to 10 when they get mad. I’d hate to turn this into a Big Thing, but I think I might have to. Any advice on that part?

        1. ThatGirl

          Go on your own, then. You guys clearly need better communication skills, and if he won’t go, at least you can get a start on building better skills for yourself.

          Honestly, that’s a super childish response, and would make me think twice about having kids with him.

            1. GRA

              Third for going on your own! Therapy is a wonderful thing IMO – it can give you the skills you need to help deal with specific problems, and it’s great to have time to talk to a neutral/non-judgmental party about problems (and usually actually get solutions to those problems).

            1. Saskia

              Sixth recommendation for going to therapy on your own.

              I think this is a relationship and communication problem first and foremost. I can’t emphasize strongly enough that these issues won’t go away without attention. Please seek some help for yourself.

              Don’t do what my sister did – her SO refused to go to counselling of any kind, and he ridiculed her for suggesting individual therapy. Sister didn’t seek therapy and instead conceded to SO whenever they reached an impasse. She’s now the mother of 2 young children, her original problems with SO have intensified, and she feels trapped and exhausted.

              I’m mentioning this because her SO was also dissatisfied with his job, resented the idea of paid work, yet didn’t take any significant steps to find something he could tolerate or enjoy. My sister retrained to find a higher-paying job and is now supporting the entire family for the foreseeable future. She didn’t want to work full time outside the home when planning life with children. But she felt so much pressure from SO that she didn’t get support for herself before making big life decisions. BTW, her SO is still not a happy person even though he is not working for money!

        2. MomToBe…Maybe

          I hope that doesn’t sound too awful! He’s a really sweet guy, but he’s not really into talking deeply about “feelings” as it tends to make him uncomfortable.

          1. Natalie

            It’s pretty hard to have a successful marriage without talking about feelings at some point. Especially during life transitions or other times that things are hard.

            My spouse was kind of guarded about his emotions as well, but we did a round of couples counseling while we were engaged to work on communication, and it seemed to help him understand that counseling isn’t about wallowing in your FEEEEEEEEELINGS or talking about your dreams or whatever. And it was a good goddamn thing, too, because by our first anniversary his health went completely to shit and both of our careers were disrupted. That work we did before marriage let us stay married, and now that things are stabilized we’re doing another round of counseling to build on it.

            Right now you’re worried about hypotheticals – a pay cut that may or may not happen, a baby that isn’t even a twinkle in anyone’s eye – but it seems like you have an actual problem in your marriage that you’re not addressing. I would focus on that. And don’t get pregnant.

            1. aebhel

              Yeah. I don’t really like talking about feelings. My spouse doesn’t like talking about feelings. But there’s a point at which you need to be able to have a conversation about how you want things to go without just sort of sending vague resentful vibes at your spouse and hoping they’ll read your mind.

              It doesn’t come easily to everyone, but it’s a skill that everyone NEEDS to have.

            2. Jersey's mom

              +1million. Do not get pregnant now. You both need resolution before bringing a baby into this situation.

            3. skunklet

              Yeah, my husband can be an absolute @$_hole (to me, to others, etc) but he apologizes and has always stated that if we need to, he WILL go to counselling, which is endearing as all get out for me and one of the reasons that we’re in it for the long haul. If he won’t go, go yourself.

              But yes, there’s issues here more than just a job…

          2. Naptime Enthusiast

            My sister in law’s Ex Husband felt the same way. There are many reasons why he is Ex Husband, but his refusal to have these difficult conversations, with or without a counselor, is one of the top reasons.

            I do understand there is still a stigma about going to a counselor, but it doesn’t need to just be about feelings. You have some difficult decisions to make and different opinions about how they should be handled, and having a mediator help you work through them is not a bad idea.

            1. GRA

              I know that there is still a stigma around therapy … which surprises me, because whenever I’m in a group of people and therapy comes up, it seems like EVERYONE is or has been to counseling.

          3. Daniela

            I think this is one of those situations where he doesn’t get to stay in his comfort zone. If you both want a child, then it’s time for him to open up and consider other points of view. I’m sure you can find a compromise if you talk it through calmly and sensibly. Good luck to you both!

          4. Artemesia

            He has pretty clearly expressed his feelings that he doesn’t want to be the pack mule in the marriage working long hours at a job he doesn’t like so you can work part time. This is a reasonable position to take. You want him to agree with you. This is not ‘better communication’ –he has communicated just fine.

            So the next step is to talk with him not about his ‘feelings’ which he has made quite clear but about alternative strategies for both of you having a satisfying life of work and family. Are you willing to lower your standard of living to continue to work part time? Does he have reasonable career change options. It isn’t going to be easier to manage all this once a child is in the mix. And day care is hellaexpensive.

            1. Jesca

              I think she gets that this is what he is saying. I think what she asking for is a way to talk it through with him, because she has valid points against what he is suggesting based on previous discussions of the future. You cannot really have kids if you are literally both gone all the time. You need to have that primary. Daycare centers will not keep your kid past 9 to 10 hours. So on and so forth. She understands what he is saying, she doesn’t know how to get through to him that most of what he is saying is not feasible. This is where communication is key, and it is exactly where he is actually not participating in it all.

              I recommend going to a therapist alone. If he is going to call you names if he knows, then make it secret (because that is kind of abusive if he does). In this way, as others have said, you will at least be able to find ways to make decisions for yourself and find solutions for yourself on how to navigate your marriage with your husband.

            2. DArcy

              He wants her to work full time with a long commute AND be the primary caregiver for their planned child. That is grossly unreasonable.

            3. Working Hypothesis

              He has communicated what he wants. So far, either she has been unable to communicate what she wants, or else she’s communicated it and he has refused to hear it (it’s unclear from the story which one it is). Either way, this is a good reason for her to get counseling to help her communicate what she wants to him.

              If the problem is that she hasn’t managed to communicate in the first place, that will help. If the problem is that he’s trying actively to avoid listening because he doesn’t like what she’s saying, then communication training will help her figure out what to say in response to that information. Either way, it’s useful.

              Momtobemaybe, I umpteenth the strong recommendation not to get pregnant until you two have worked out together a joint plan for your collective careers which will not leave either of you exhausted, miserable, and resentful of your spouse. That’s not a situation into which you want to bring a baby; it will be bad for the baby and make things much harder for both parents. Wait till you have figured out a plan which will let EACH of you do something with your careers which feels at least okay, and you’ve gotten started on implementing that plan.

              Right now, it sounds like both of you are looking at the career situation as a zero-sum game… “I need X to do Job They Don’t Want, so that I can avoid doing Job *I* Don’t Want.” That is not necessarily true, and to the extent that it may be partially true, it’s a bad situation into which to become parents. Work together to find ways you can *each* get what you want, at least to some degree, or else somebody’s going to simmer with resentment all the time, which is a terrible thing for a marriage.

              Maybe you can delay the baby for a while so he can make his career change and become established in a new field first. Maybe you can figure out something he can do within the field he’s in which he’d like better than his current job. Maybe you can figure out a job you can do which pays better than your current one but which is compatible with baby care. Maybe he can switch into a field which allows him to be home every evening, and then you don’t have a “primary caregiver,” but you both share the childcare, which allows you to both work full-time also. Maybe there’s something else altogether. I don’t know all the circumstances… you do and so does he, so you’re the ones who have to work on it.

              But the absolute first thing you have to do is to put baby plans on hold until you’ve resolved this. And the second thing you have to do is to stop looking at this as “you against me” and start thinking of it instead as “you and me against the problem.”

        3. BeenThere

          A competent counselor does not do those things, but thanks for the visual!

          Clearly, you aren’t on the same page anymore (if you ever were) and the only way to resolve it is through open and honest communication. Sometimes it helps to have a third party. If he won’t do that then you just have to get him to talk and you have to do the same. That you quit without another job lined up could be a bit of an issue for him, especially now that he wants to do something similar and you are nixing it. Maybe you could work a better paying full time job while you save money and move toward family building?? Maybe that would give him a chance to rebuild in another industry?

        4. Juli G.

          Honestly, in my experience, for two parent families, there is no Bigger Thing than division of duties. Turn it into a Big Thing now before there are real kids involved.

          1. Justme, The OG

            Agree. If it’s not taken care of now, one parent (usually the mom, because society sucks that way) takes on almost everything and then rightfully cannot take it any more.

          2. aebhel

            YES.

            This is not going to just blow over, and it’s something you guys need to be on the same page about BEFORE there are kids involved.

        5. neverjaunty

          1) It is already a Big Deal.

          2) You can’t make him see what he doesn’t want to see.

          From what you’re describing here, your husband doesn’t have a realistic understanding of how having kids will impact your career, and he doesn’t much care – he just wants you to take the burden of his crappy job off him AND manage the primary burden of caretaking.

          Also, he has a dumb and shitty attitude about therapy.

          I guess you could be very blunt with him? “It isn’t fair or reasonable for you to expect me to have a demanding job AND be the primarily caretaker for the children. And it isn’t fair for you to expect me to shoulder a heavy burden at a career path I don’t want because you dislike your job.”

        6. Lyka

          It’s your family and your family’s future (and your happiness/well-being and that of your husband’s). Those are all Big Things already, so finding a better way to deal with them is smart! Maybe hubbie can think of counseling in this situation as akin to seeing a financial planner. It’s someone who has objective insights into what family planning can look like in its various forms and someone with expertise coordinating communications between two parties with differing ideas. Plus, your husband may even get more of what he wants if you’re both willing to speak openly about your family/work dreams and fears. And, like a financial planner, a counselor isn’t someone you need to see every week for the rest of your lives! It’s someone who will help set you up with a plan for the future so you can both feel confident about starting your family from a place of security and honest partnership.

          And remember, you should try go into any counseling open minded about what the ultimate outcome could be. It shouldn’t be counseling for the sake of you achieving your perfect family balance while your husband continues forward in a situation he’s unhappy with. Maybe there’s a good compromise you’re missing, or a perspective neither of you have considered from the other’s point of view. A counselor can help bring that to the fore and hopefully clear up miscommunication and hurt feelings. Good luck to you!

        7. Pro Counceling

          At one point I would have said the same thing about couples counseling, but before my husband and I got married, our church required counseling. I actually saw some great benefits to it even though we were only required to attend the minimum sessions. However, you cannot make him go. I second seeking individual counseling. There is a lot going on and you both need to be on the same page BEFORE having children or things will only get worse. GL!

          1. New Job So Much Better

            Is it possible he really is indicating he’s not ready to have kids?

            1. Autumnheart

              Well, he’s certainly indicating it whether that was his primary motivation or not.

        8. LKW

          Well clearly he’s talking out of ignorance and not knowledge. Couples counseling is for people who are unable to communicate and continue to approach the same argument from the same perspective.

          So until he’s actually tried it -he really can’t provide adequate perspective. It’s like saying you don’t like pizza having never actually eaten pizza.

        9. Nita

          Oof, this is my husband to a tee. Right down to him hating his toxic job but refusing to leave that field if it means a drop in pay. And expecting me to really want career advancement for reasons which are a mystery to me, but make zero sense anyway when you have young kids. And not believing in counseling. It’s fun.

          What we did: I am still working (with kids). Like you say, it’s not really 8 hours. With the commute it’s really 10-11. I hate it with a burning passion, and the care the kids get is hit and miss. I don’t want to quit because I do feel for my husband – it would not be fair to leave him stuck in his job if things got really unbearable, and as long as I’m employed he knows he can walk away if needed. What I do want to do is go part-time. Sadly, it’s not really an option with my job, you’re either there or you’re not. But you can definitely look for something part-time, and/or with flexible hours. Since he’s making good money, you can take some time with the job search… but if he hates the job that much it doesn’t seem fair to make him the only breadwinner permanently.

          However. Since you’ve agreed you’ll be the primary caregiver, he needs to get a clue. It’s not really possible to be the primary caregiver and go for career advancement. This is where therapy might help sort things out, but since it’s not an option you’re probably stuck doing things the hard way. As in, explaining to him over and over why women who dash out of the office to pick up a sick child, and take unscheduled sick days, are not seen as promotion-ready. Shoving news articles about pregnancy discrimination and mommy-tracking at him. And maybe, occasionally asking how much of the kids’ sick time he’s willing to shoulder if he wants you to be out there polishing your career. I suppose he’ll either get it eventually, or realize that if he wants you to be Career Woman, he has to be Super Supportive Dad.

          Good luck.

        10. LSP

          Maybe if you tell him that you want to do counselling so that *you* can understand *him* better, that you are having trouble understanding his perspective, and you think having a 3rd party there might help.

          Also, it sounds like he *does* need to find a new job, with more regular hours, because otherwise, once you do have a baby, you will be single-parenting 2-3 days a week, and that sounds like something you really don’t want to do. If there isn’t some pressing need to start your family right now, I would wait, and both of you focus on your careers. Let him try for something new with a potentially lower salary, and you might even think about finding something that allows you the flexibility you’re looking for.

          Finally, as someone who has worked in the workforce development field for several years, maybe your husband should look into what kind of apprenticeships might be available near you. Apprenticeships offer wages while you learn a new occupation, and they are expanding into all sorts of industries from the traditional skilled trades, to IT to health care. No prior experience required!

          Sales pitch complete. Good luck!

        11. Girl friday

          Does this show up in other things? Each person should be able to have what they want without sacrifice from the other. Usually wanting someone else to change is the problem, so that’s not you.

          1. Annon for this

            I agree with counseling, but can I add one more thing?

            Life changes and the plans you make are around the current circumstances. I never planned to stay home, but having two kids close together and seeing the stress of the juggle with two”city” careers (and commutes) changed my mind. I went part-time for ten years and it was prefect for me. I never wanted to change.

            But, my husband’s industry went through massive change and he was laid off and there were no jobs. I went back to work full-time and I was not happy. Once you have kids, you do what you have to do to take care of them financially and emotionally.

            It is not easy to be the sole provider — a lot of responsibility is on those shoulders.

            This happened to lots of our friends and we all had to find new paths that were beyond the “plan”.

            Good luck.

        12. P

          Gottman method. Find a counsellor that follows it. Not as much kumbaya and more come and learn how to negotiate and compromise. Highly recommend. Our daughter just turned one and negotiating about work life balance and child care with help of a counselor has kept me from walking out the door with the kid in one hand and the cat in the other.

          1. Kj

            Seconded! Gottman or EFT for couples or nothing. Both are evidenced based and really useful.

            1. Kuododi

              Speaking as a therapist… I would certainly endorse both of those methods. I would also recommend Cognitive Behavioral or Solution Focused. Both are very goal directed. Im also putting in a big second, third and thousandth for not having a baby until these issues are resolved. I have worked with too many couples who thought a baby would fix their problems. Never worked….and the child always paid the price.

          2. SavannahMiranda

            This sounds really intriguing. Coming from someone who halfway already has the baby in his carrier and the cat boarded for the moving truck to come.

            Tell me more.

            1. Mananana

              Go to gottman.com and you can read more about hit theory on marriage and marriage counseling. His books are good, or if you can make it, I’d suggest a retreat or counseling. Another good resource is the book Divorce Recovery (along with the website, divorcebusting.com). It’s an action-based theory that doesn’t necessarily have to have the “buy in” of both spouses.

        13. watersquirrel

          ugh. This sounds like my husband (who I am trying to divorce). He lacks empathy and emotional connection and it REALLY came out once we had a child. Actually, that’s when things really started to go south because we weren’t on the same page about raising a kid at all, and the emotional disconnect was really defined. I’m sorry I don’t have any advice, I would try and work on this first though before having a kid. Good luck.

        14. SavannahMiranda

          *That’s* a helpful response.

          In that case, what impartial third party is he interested in helping referee this? (If he’s a sportsball guy, use sportsball metaphors.) Not so that one or the other of you ‘wins’ but so that a mutually beneficial outcome can be achieved. And ‘noone’ isn’t an answer.

          For instance, does he like and trust your dad, his FIL? Would he be open to hashing this out together in front of him and getting his input? Obvs your FIL might be biased towards you, or your FIL towards him, but you get the idea. (And I mention FILs because I’m getting the feeling he ‘hears’ input from men differently, but correct me if I’m wrong.)

          He doesn’t like counselors. Well alrighty then. Who does he like. Because this has to go somewhere.

      3. Secretary

        Yep he could find a new job that pays the same or better. Just like Alison says it’s easier to find a new job when you’re still employed!

      4. A Teacher

        I think, and this goes outside the scope of work, you need a real conversation. Babies and kids are hard. I would put that on hold until you are both on the same page. He’s allowed to change careers as you’re allowed to change careers. Until you both are on the same page though, throwing a baby into the mix will just add more to an already complicated dynamic

    2. JokeyJules

      it looks like time to have a very clear, direct conversation about wants, needs, and expectations coming from both of you. I see a lot of “seemed to agree” “rather” and that he is kind of playing along with plan “Blue” but hoping for plan “red”. This happens a lot in my own relationship when we are both trying to hard to try to be receptive to what the other wants… but might not really change our minds and just hope they other will go along with what we want.
      the time has come to have a real, direct conversation about what you both want vs what just will not work.
      i dont know about your personal health and other factors in having children, but maybe wait until this is sorted out completely. If that means putting it off 1 year until he is somewhat settled in a new career and you both are settled in a new financial situation, that might be best.
      or he will decide to stick it out and just look for better job prospects.
      good luck to you!

    3. Foreign Octopus

      It sounds like the two of you need to have another conversation about your expectations regarding family.

      I agree that it’s not fair for you to shoulder both the financial and the childcare burden if he does want to change career, but I also don’t think it’s fair that he should be trapped in a potentially toxic job. I’m not 100% sure but it sounds as though you don’t have children at the moment and I think this would be a good time to put a temporary halt on those plans whilst you talk things out – if possible. If you’re already expecting then that boat has definitely sailed.

      The most important thing here is just to communicate with your partner. Find out what he wants and then work together to find a compromise that works for both of you.

    4. TGIF

      Respectfully, you and hubby may want to consider counseling before making career/life decisions at this point. I think it’s important (very!) to agree on a plan that works for you both moving forward.

    5. Susan Sto Helit

      Honestly, I don’t think you need to get him to ‘see’ – it’s not a negotiation. If you don’t want to work a city job there’s no way he can force you to.

      I’d be tempted to call his bluff – if you’re working a city job, does that mean he’ll be staying home to be primary caregiver? You’re a partnership, so make it clear the options for childcare/running the house, from your point of view, are that either you do it or he does it. Which would he prefer?

      1. A tester, not a developer

        I think part of the issue is that OP wants to be the stay at home parent – so even if husband wants to be the caregiver, it’s not meeting her needs.

    6. Kelly White

      Is it possible to sit down and see what kind of lifestyle changes you guys could agree on making so that you are both more satisfied? Maybe you can change some things now, before you have a baby.
      I know my husband and I have talked about this- he has a good paying job, and he hates it- but the trade off is the house and extras that he wants, too. But, we both know (because we’ve talked about it) that we could/would have to make drastic changes if he ever gets fed up enough.

    7. Zeitbombe

      It sounds like you’d both like the role of working fewer hours and doing less stressful work in exchange for doing the childcare, while the other person did more earning and took on more work stress. I have the impression you “called it” first and are resentful that he is now thinking it looks appealing? I’m not sure of the best way forward (though counselling is a great suggestion), but is there a way you could split the childcare/work stress more evenly? You don’t want to earn the big money while shouldering the work stress–but neither does he. He isn’t obligated to do it either.

      1. Yvette

        But I get the impression from the LW that she would still be responsible for child care. “How do I get him to see that if I’m going to be the primary caregiver (which is what we previously agreed upon and I am literally thrilled about!!!),”

        1. anon1

          I’m not LW, but I think that interpretation really isn’t giving the husband any credit at all. It seems just as likely to me that his take is, basically, if the plan changes with respect to jobs then the plan has changed overall and the primary caregiver item gets revisited. They’re not talking about this very effectively (or at all, really, there’s a lot of hinting and interpretation), but my take here is that he’s asked for a change of plans and the LW has an obligation (which I don’t necessarily see LW taking up) to engage with him about how that would look.

          1. Zeitbombe

            That’s exactly how I was reading it; years ago, they figured OP would make sense as the primary SAHP and have never revisited the conversation. Would he like to take on more of the parenting? Does that change the equation for you? I agree it is unreasonable if he wants you to take on the money-earning/work stress AND the childcare, but maybe that’s not what he is picturing at all.

            1. Luna

              Yeah it sounds to me like he does want to take on more of the parenting (or possibly isn’t as set on becoming a parent right now as the OP is and wants to figure out his job change first) but the OP doesn’t want to give that up.

              1. Adlib

                I agree with your parenthetical. He told LW that daycare isn’t “that bad” so it sounds like maybe he is nervous/anxious/not ready about the whole situation in general.

                1. TL -

                  Being okay with putting your child in daycare doesn’t make you nervous/anxious/not ready to have a child.

                  He might be a lot more okay with not having a primary/SAHP than the OP is, which is the impression I’m getting, but they’re not talking about it. Also, OP, my guess is that your husband doesn’t have a clear picture of what parenting looks like – a lot of men don’t because society is not designed to impress upon them the expectations of parenting. You need to have conversations about what you want parenting your kid to look like, starting with daycare preferences (full-time, part-time, no-time) and parenting responsibility splits.

    8. LQ

      I definitely agree on the talk to a counselor and at the very very least talk to him. Things change. Your job got worse and you quit. His job might be worse to him than you see it as. He might get laid off. You might get laid off. He might want to be the primary caregiver now. You might want to move. He might. You might get an amazing job offer. He might. Other things you can’t even fathom right now might come into play. I think that you can’t just expect to hold someone to previous agreements even as things in your life change especially if they are not ok with them. And maybe he just needs to talk it out and come back around. But a counselor would be a strong help with all of that.

    9. Jessi

      The thing is you currently have two opposing wants/ needs.

      You want to stay home and parent your kids – valid
      He wants to not be miserable at his job – also valid

      At the moment you are looking at it from an either or perspective. Either he keeps this sucky job and is miserable, or you don’t get to have kids in the way you dreamed. Where you are now neither of you is going to feel great. I don’t want to be rude/mean/judgemental but do you really want your partner to stay at a job he hates – you would be trading what you want for your partners happiness……

      Instead of looking at it like this could you sit down and find some middle ground? There are other options
      -both of you find different jobs. You work more, he works a less paying job/career
      – Could you change your budget to accommodate lower wages? If this is really important to him maybe you downsize your accommodation? Become a one car family?
      – Is moving in the cards? Could you move somewhere cheaper?
      – Could partner look around and try and find a new job (I would advocate for this first) A new environment and new boss may be a path to a happier partner?
      – is partner aware of the cost of daycare?
      – If you are both able to work less/ part time you may eliminate the need for care? He takes the baby M, W, when he doesn’t work and you stay home T, TH, F?

      Hopefully you are able to see that there are lots of options that get you both what you want and both not be unhappy

      1. AMPG

        I agree with this – there are just SO many variables when it comes to balancing work and family, and you’re limiting yourselves to two options unnecessarily.

        The other thing I wanted to point out is that you seem to have the idea that you’ll be responsible for the bulk of childcare and housework regardless of how many hours you work, and I would suggest you unpack that a bit. It doesn’t have to be that way, but you both need to make an explicit agreement about the distribution of labor and be willing to reassess if whatever you first decide isn’t working.

        And also I agree with everyone else that counseling is in order, and if he won’t go with you, go alone.

      2. Clare

        Yeah, I hope this doesn’t sound too harsh because that’s not my intention, but while reading the original comment it was all about you and your vision of the future and how to make your husband see that you are right, and no consideration that his point of view might also be valid.

        And since it sounds like you aren’t even pregnant yet, there is still time for you to get a higher paying job now and give him the opportunity to switch jobs. That doesn’t mean you have to stay in that job after you have a baby.

      3. uranus wars

        I also agree with this. $$$ does not buy happiness, as many of us can likely attest, for either of you. And usually climbing the corporate ladders comes with a lot of missed family time.

        Neither of you want to be miserable at work – this is important. Neither of you wants to resent the other (I hope) – also important.

        As Jessi is saying – life is not black or white. What you and your husband need are better communication. you shouldn’t be looking at how to convince him to see things your way (nor he yours) – you should be finding ways to compromise and communication and build a plan that works for BOTH of you.

        I also understand he might not be on board with counseling, but you two need some kind of plan of action to move forward before you make any big life decisions.

        1. uranus wars

          I should add that the missed family time is usually as emotionally hard on the person at home as it is on the person putting in the hours, at least in my experience.

      4. aebhel

        Right. This needs to be a partnership where you’re working together so you can have a life that’s satisfactory to both of you, not a hostage negotiation where one of you wins and the other one loses.

    10. Falling Diphthong

      Thirding the counselor, and do not have a baby right now. Get on the same page about money and work before you toss a new expensive person who doesn’t sleep into the mix.

      As a long-married person: Plans change. Priorities change. Marriage is promising to try and work on it as a team, not to never allow that (thing you used to want) is now (thing you don’t want).

      So it sounds like a couple of years ago you might have quit your job without talking to him to make plans first? Rather than get his “Look, you’re miserable, if you want to quit tomorrow I will back you” blessing which you held until you finally pulled the trigger, you figured on your own that because he earned more money you could just quit and he couldn’t? Whichever of those is true–quitting with his blessing or as a surprise–you’re giving yourself a flexibility that you turn around and deny him, and that’s really not fair. You also list “annoying coworker near oneself all the time” as the toxic thing about your job, and because he doesn’t have that exact problem he just can’t be as frustrated as you were? That’s not how annoying jobs work.

      1. Girl friday

        I agree. I would not get pregnant while working full-time if you want to be a stay at home mom.* Not easy to do without your salary if he is already unhappy working for the “Man/person” himself. Two people who do not want to work full-time are a recipe for disaster. Depending how much neither one of you wants to work, you could look into communes, coops, bartering, or even smaller-town living. (Honestly) Or separate and live apart briefly to have truly independent budgets. I think growing separately in order to grow together is always good.
        As soon as you get that big job, he will try to quit his, and you can’t say he didn’t warn you. But only you know for sure. I definitely would wait for further clarification but be ready for him not to wait. Make a list of what you can control. Good luck!
        *in this situation

    11. Aly_b

      Can you two try gaming out a couple of different scenarios together? Talk through what a typical day would look like if you got the city job – who is doing daycare drop off, at what time? Does the other person do pick up? What time are your partners shifts, and which of you is going to leave if the kid gets sick? What would your family income be and is that workable. Would it be workable if you made some lifestyle changes, and how would those impact your daily life. If he stays at this job, what does that all look like? If both of you have jobs somewhere in the middle for income, what does that look like?

      It sounds like you may not both get everything you want. The idea here is to get everyone on the same page about what these different choices actually look like *for both of you* and find a solution that is workable for everyone, or that at least is the best available option given everyone’s goals and desires. Keep in mind you both might have hard no’s in this – he may really feel he cannot stay in his job, you may feel you really cannot get that city job. That may mean you need to look for other solutions together that will make something work and be tenable for both of you. Good luck!

    12. RealistReally

      You’re imagining how hard it will be to work with a baby, and you don’t even have the baby yet. Babies take time to make – most people don’t fall pregnant immediately. So, maybe you need to get a full-time job for now, to take the pressure off while you work out with your husband what his career change looks like and how you can both make it work. Plus counseling to help you both communicate.

      1. A little compromise

        Yep. What if it takes you a year or more to get pregnant, plus add the time it takes for baby to get here (and you never know if you’ll even be able to have kids that way)… Why force your SO to work a job he doesn’t like while you only work part-time for all that time?

        Like lots of people have said, your options aren’t limited to 1) you sell your life to the corporate ladder so he gets his dream job vs. 2) him being miserable so you can work part time before you even have kids. Why can’t you take on more hours for now (different FT job or another PT job) so your husband can figure out his career situation… and you can reassess if and when kids come?

      2. Thlayli

        This. It’s fine to have a plan to work part-time long term so you can be the primary caregiver, but consider the following:
        1 it’s very hard to find good part-time jobs. everyone I know who went part time after having kids were full time first, and had proven themselves as valuable employees, then negotiated switching to part time work when coming back from maternity leave. I don’t know anyone who found a good part time job. Most jobs that start out as part time are on the lower paid side – like retail, part time office receptionist etc.
        2 it can take a lot longer than planned to Get pregnant, and then the baby takes 9 months to arrive. That’s a long time to be working part time while your husband stays in an unpleasant job, with no real reason to be doing so.
        3 as others have said, it’s not “either I get to be happy or he gets to be happy”. There is a whole range of options. It sounds like he agreed to the plan originally and now wants to change it, and it’s ok for you to be annoyed by that, but it’s also ok for him to change his mind, especially since the baby the original plan was for hasn’t even been conceived yet.

        Talk through your options and come up with a new plan that makes all (hopefully three) if you happy.

      3. aebhel

        I mean, don’t start trying to get pregnant on the expectation that it’s going to take years, either. I got pregnant with both of my kids the first month we started trying, so that’s also a possibility. Don’t start trying to conceive until you’re ready to have a kid.

        1. Thlayli

          That’s true. I’ve had unprotected sex 6 months in my life and been pregnant 4 times.

    13. Jadelyn

      It sounds like you guys are kind of talking past each other – you each have your understanding of what “we” are planning to do, and they don’t line up, so you’re both adding a margin of “well of course we *could* do it your way” while still hoping the other will come around to your way of thinking.

      Speaking from experience, this is not the sort of thing that spontaneously resolves itself. And the longer you let it go before you work through it, the harder it’s going to be when you get there, because you’ll have both spent that time building up the Dream Life in your head and it’s going to hurt more to have to let it go in order to rebuild a new Dream Life that actually works for both of you.

      All that is to say, get marriage counseling, yesterday. These are hard, life-changing conversations to have, and you really want someone experienced with them to help guide you guys through it.

      And…before you get into all this, make sure you’re super clear with yourself on where your NEEDS are versus your WANTS, and be very, very, very realistic with yourself about where the boundaries are between “a lifestyle that is not ideal but I’d be okay with it” and “a lifestyle that I would wind up resenting over time”, because that’s going to be a critical distinction that both of you need to make for yourselves before you can make any decisions that won’t turn toxic over the long haul.

      Lastly, I will just say, it may turn out that you guys can’t figure out a way forward that actually works for both of you (meaning, hits all of the genuine NEED items for both of you and passes the “I can actually be okay with this and not wind up resenting it later” test), and at that point you might have a very hard decision to make about the future of the relationship itself. You can love someone with all your heart, but sometimes what you each want from life is different enough that you can’t build a single life between the two that will make you both happy, and it’s not a failure of the relationship or of your love to say “I need XYZ from my life, and you need ABC, so it’s time for us to amicably part and find our own paths to those disparate things.”

      However it works out, I wish you both the best.

    14. Antilles

      The following phrases really make me wonder:
      Husband is pressuring me to work a high-paying “city job” so he can quit his Kind of Crappy almost 6-figure salary job and change careers. […] I was out of work for 6 months, and now I’m working part time (receptionist/data entry type stuff). […] he makes good money: 3 to 4 times as much as I do. […] I see a glimmer in his eye when he talks about me getting a get a “city job” and “moving up the corporate ladder” […] We will need to budget a little better, but we can financially afford for me to work less, but only if he stays at his current job or gets a job with the same salary. […]
      I don’t mean to be a complete ass here and I don’t expect you to give us details of your financial situation, but…I’m legitimately wondering if his ideas are even remotely feasible. The way you’re describing it just seems seriously iffy from a financial standpoint.
      1.) High paying “city jobs” don’t grow on trees in most industries. Especially since it seems like you’ve been out of the industry for a while, it’ll likely take some time to get that city job and certainly time to move up the corporate ladder.
      2.) You especially aren’t getting that kind of job or flying up the ladder working only 8 hours a day plus commute.
      3.) If he’s looking at a drastic drop in pay, it’s very questionable whether your job would make up for that.
      4.) Childcare is incredibly, absurdly, what the hell expensive. This is 100% not exaggerated: In many areas, a decent daycare seriously costs as much as renting a decent apartment. If you’re working part time, this is an enormous expense that you get to cut back on.

      1. BF50

        re: #4 – In my area, a decent daycare is more than my mortgage payment and more than the cost of sending a child to college.

        1. Thlayli

          Where I live if you have 2 kids under the age of 3 and both spouses work, the lower earning spouse needs to earn a minimum of €34,000 just to break even on the cost of full time childcare. You earn any less than that and you will actually be spending money to go to work, not earning money.

          1. Natalie

            I’m not sure if this is true where you live, but in the US at least there is usually a longterm negative effect on earnings that should also be taken into account. Depending on the amount of time out of the workforce and the career stage it can be significant.

            That said, it’s also fine for both parents to decide they want to work even though they are “losing money” on child care, if work is worth that cost to them. We’re always trading money for things we could be getting ourselves through labor, but I didn’t build my own house and I don’t farm my own food because it’s worth it to me to work to pay for those things instead.

            1. Antilles

              Agreed, it can be fine for both parents to decide to work even if it’s financially “losing money” to do so – maybe you really like your job, maybe you really value having time away from your kid rather than a 24-7 grind, maybe you enjoy the mental benefits of having a set schedule of having a set schedule, maybe you have long-term career goals that will stall out if you take 5 years off. These are all perfectly valid feelings to have and can make it worthwhile to work even if it’s theoretically a loss of money.
              The key though is to have that detailed conversation with yourself and then your spouse, so you really know where you stand. Based on the phrasing used in the original comment, I don’t know if her husband (or she herself) truly realizes just how crazy expensive day care is – I sure didn’t until I needed it!

            2. BF50

              The only thing that put us at the break even point for the first couple of years that we had 2 in daycare was health insurance. My husband is self employed so didn’t have insurance through work and buying it on the open market would have made us pay more for terrible coverage. My wages did not come close to covering the cost of childcare, but when you added in the cost of insurance we would pay if i was home, then it was definitely worth it.

              Even still, I wanted to work and would have likely worked even if we weren’t breaking even. Fortunately I have a better job now and they are older so it’s a bit less expensive.

            3. Thlayli

              That’s true. I know people who worked even though they didn’t even break even, because they didn’t want to lose their job and pension and they were willing to take the hit for a couple of years.

        2. Mallory

          I’m in a Boston suburb. A full time nanny is $35k+/year. And we pay for part time preschool (5k) for our oldest. Add in taxes and you’ve gotta be making north of 60k to break even with 2 kids. Daycare isn’t any cheaper- our infant was $2200/mo.

          Of course it isn’t all about breaking even. But childcare is so, so expensive!!

    15. Jessica

      Like everyone else has said, you need to have some big-picture conversations with your husband and both of you need to be willing to make some sacrifices. Your lives as parents can be almost anything you imagine it to be! But it might require totally re-working your current expectations. What if you moved to a lower COL area? What if you totally reshaped your budget to live on one lower income? (I know people who had a baby while living on a grad student stipend of $26,000/year and made it work.) Also, if you are thinking about trying for a baby within a year or so, you probably have at least two years before baby actually arrives. (My husband and I have been trying for six months now…)
      “How do I get him to see that if I’m going to be the primary caregiver that I can’t be expected to work crazy long hours?” I mean…it is not impossible for two parents to both have high-powered careers, so you can’t prove to him that it is impossible. But you can tell him that you don’t want to embark on a career that is going to take you out of the home full-time once you have children. Are there other ways that you can prepare financially to have children/allow your husband to pursue other jobs?
      Two blogger recommendations: Haley Stewart at Carrots for Michaelmas has an e-book about how she and her husband moved across the country and lived in a tiny apartment with 3 kids so that her husband could pursue an internship at an organic farm. On the flip side, Jen Fulwiler just published a book about how she was unsatisfied with her life as a SAHM and how she and her husband managed things so that she could have a career as an author (which required several years of unpaid work, surviving on her husband’s salary AND getting some childcare so she could have time to write). All of this to say, there are many many more options between one parent having a nearly-six-figure, long hours, high-powered career while the other stays at home/works a low-paying job. Explore those ideas with your husband!

    16. Jessie the First (or second)

      I have a bunch of thoughts, in no particular order:

      1. You are hoping to have kids at some point in the next year or two. Is there a reason you feel you can’t work full-time now, and then stop when the baby is born? There is no way to know how long it will take to get pregnant and carry to term (miscarriages are not uncommon). It could be a few years before you actually have a baby – I can see why your husband is resentful about you working part time now.
      2. I think it would be good to stop playing Whose Job Is More Toxic. He does not like his job and is not happy. It doesn’t have to be as bad as yours was – it is not a competition – for him to “deserve” the right to quit and change jobs or careers. If he is not happy in his line of work, then that is important to acknowledge. It’s also important to start actually brainstorming solutions.
      3. Not having help for days at a time when he works overnights would be exhausting, I agree! Having had (many) kids, I do want to mention that it will be exhausting even if you stay home with your child. His changing careers could end up being a boon for your family – perhaps he will be able to be present as a father to his child!
      4. Have you ever talked with him directly about what it means if you both work outside the house? That if you did that, you would *share* caregiving duties equally, and he would then be cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, etc., as much as you would? (Or is his and your idea honestly that if you both worked full time, he’d continue to do zero of this??)
      5. I see things like “I’m thinking he’s saying” and “he doesn’t understand” – you two are having some communication problems. I see your comment that he refuses counselors, but this is a Big Deal. If he won’t go, you go. Life gets harder as you go along, not easier, and you’re going to need some professional-grade help to navigate it if you are married to someone who doesn’t do difficult conversations AND with whom you have communication struggles.

      I do not mean any of this harshly. I totally get why you are resisting the idea of his career change. But that doesn’t mean he can’t change jobs. He gets to try to explore career satisfaction too. And it doesn’t have to come at the cost of what you want – but you both need help communicating better, so that you can start working out ideas and figuring out how to put this puzzle together. You seem to be talking at each other now rather than problem-solving together.

      1. BF50

        All of this. Your concerns are completely valid, but you seem to have lost sight of the fact that his concerns are also completely valid. You seem like you are digging your heels in, which is also kind of what is bothering you about your husband.

      2. ket

        Great comment, all around. You’re also making a few more assumptions about your job situation.
        1) All high-paying jobs you could have are in “the city” and necessarily full-time. This may not be true.
        2) Your nightmare scenario involves him staying in his job and working night shift and you in a 10-hrs-a-day position in “the city”. Wouldn’t the point of your higher-paying job be that he’d quit and do something else?

        Since this is the internet, I’d say something I’d say to my best friend but not to a casual acquaintance: it sounds like you’re living in the world of “should be” or “I think” rather than fully in the world of what is. You don’t want to even look at possible new jobs or allow your husband to change jobs because of a hypothetical that’s at least 9 months down the road, probably more. What is really holding you back? What is your real concern?

      3. SciDiver

        +100 to the competing for who has it worse. It’s an easy trap to fall into but only alienates you from each other and this is a problem you need to solve as a team. Going to counseling is just getting a coach to help you strategize and learn how to work together.

    17. Liane

      I really, really hate to say this, especially since I can’t figure out a soft way to say something you probably don’t want to hear–
      but you two should put your plans to have kids on hold until you get this sorted out. (Including staying on/restarting birth control.) This is clearly stressful and painful and it will be much worse if you two are already expecting and still not on the same page about it. I’m sorry.
      I also agree with what others have said that if he doesn’t like his job, he looks for another one. And, yes, the sorting out conversations, with or without a counselor, can include things like, “How do we make this work if I stay at the same job while you bring in less at a job that’s a better fit for you” and “Since you value a ‘City job’ more than I do, you should look for one and not insist I take one.”

    18. samiratou

      If he wants to find a new job, he needs to put the legwork into figuring out what that would take. Does he know what field he wants to move to? Does he know what skills he would have to have or develop to get there? How long it would take? How much it would cost?

      It’s fair that he wants a new job, but putting the onus on you to make that happen is not realistic or fair.

      If he did get a job that worked more standard hours, you wouldn’t necessarily have the overnight issues you have now, so it may make sense for you to keep your part time job allowing him to get a job that’s a better fit for him at a lower pay and still not have to shell out too much for daycare, etc. It depends. But y’all need to sit down and figure the details of how you can both be satisfied in your careers and have a kid and how to get there. Right now it looks like a lot of “but, you!”s which isn’t really sustainable.

    19. Jules the 3rd

      To get someone to an agreement that makes both people less unhappy, you really need to know your requirements and to be prepared to offer up something.

      You can take practical steps towards being in a place where you can compromise.
      1) Put together your family’s ‘Walk Away Fund’ – 1 year of living expenses
      2) Take on more hours for yourself, at least until you’re 3+mo pregnant – that $$ can go straight into the ‘Walk Away’.
      3) Dig deep into your budget and put $$s to your needs and your wants
      4) Talk to a career counselor about moves he might make and the financial implications, and see if there are options that would make him happier but that you can still afford.
      5) Consider talking to a financial planner about all this.

      Mr Jules and I tried to get pregnant for four years (little Jules is awesome, for sure!) – that’s a lot of time you could be putting away ‘Walk Away’ money at a local full-time job.
      Also, look *hard* at whether you can be satisfied with less house / yard. Your single biggest expense = your single biggest opportunity to save $$.

    20. Bea

      There is way too much going on here. You need a professional to help you two come to a compromise somewhere.

      It seems like both of you have your own idea of what will make you happy. The problem is these ideas clash drastically.

      Please don’t have kids yet. A lot of this sounds like you’re not a cohesive unit and the writing is on the wall. Both of you are thinking “me me me what makes me happy” and shrugging off the other person. I’m taken back by the fact he dealt with you taking a huge career turn and now you’re justifying him working a crappy job because at least it pays your bills. The selfishness makes my blood run cold.

      1. Wendy Anne

        I agree about the selfishness. The OP quit a crappy job and now refuses to work more than part time because at some point in the future, she wants to have a baby? Meanwhile, her husband is also working a crappy job that he can’t just quit like his wife did hers, because they won’t be able to afford their bills. The bills that no doubt have been piling up because the OP quit her job in the first place!

        1. Bea

          Yep. I think this is killing me because I would do anything possible and have sacrificed for my partner because he deserves to be happy professionally.

          I couldn’t start a family with someone who just wanted my financial contributions no matter how much of my soul I had to sell!

      2. Anon today

        Pretty much where I am on this–OP quit a job she hated, didn’t work for six months, and now works part-time, and this was/is all possible only because her husband works a job he hates. Now instead of working with him so he can have the same opportunity, she’s focused only on what she wants.

        I’m thinking counseling, not parenthood, is a good next step.

    21. Clever Alias

      1. Your current track is going to breed resentment from one or both of you.
      2. Multiply that current resentment x10000000 when you have kids, because raising. small. children. is. difficult. (to your point).
      3. Resentment kills marriages.

      Better to treat cancer before it spreads. Please seek counseling. No shame in it.

    22. NaoNao

      Go to a friends’ house with a baby. Preferably a small baby or toddler. Have him talk to the parents in a frank, low key way about the reality of caring for a child.

      This may come off as sexist, but sometimes men don’t believe it coming from their wives or GFs’ or quite frankly any woman. It’s like they *need* to hear it from another source before it becomes reality.

      The other thing too is all of this is speculation. Where are these amazing Corporate Jobs that pay 6 figures? Maybe make him a deal that if he can find jobs in your field that pay, you’ll interview for them.

      The thing is, you’re correct. You can’t raise a child the way you’d like and work a Power Job. I declined to have kids with the man I love for that reason. He’s a full time student, living off savings/investments, I’m the breadwinner. Since I would be the “food source” and mama, I was like…I can’t do it, hon. If he could have carried the child and given birth and been the primary caregiver–sure!

      Can you make a deal like you’ll get pregnant now, he works 3 more years, once Baby is 2, off to day care or preschool Baby goes, while you ease back into a City Job?

      1. ummmm

        Finding another dude to talk to him isn’t any sort of remedy for sexism; it’s simply pandering to sexism. I’m baffled as to why anyone would want to start a family with a guy so sexist that he can only listen to / take seriously other men.

      2. TL -

        I have no idea what field OP is in, but my field more than a few of my friends more than doubled their salary by moving into industry and it wasn’t hard to find a job at all. It could absolutely be a reality that OP is able to earn significantly more working in Corporate City. Some fields work like that, especially fields that are ‘hot’ right now.

    23. LilySparrow

      Seconding counseling.

      But I’d also point out that he’s just fantasizing, and there is no reason why you have to get upset about or negotiate with a fantasy.

      My husband is a big talker, and the first several years we were married he used to freak me out on the regular by talking about all kinds of huge, fantasy projects that there was no way we could afford, either in time, money, or space. Finally I figured out that until he started trying to write checks or schedule anything, it wasn’t real and I could just let him talk.

      He wants to change jobs? To what? Let him do the research and figure out what he could get and how much it would make. What’s going to happen to his pension or retirement account? What’s going to happen to his health insurance?

      He thinks you should get a “city job?” Let him do the research and see what the hours, pay, and commute would be like for your real-life skills and background.

      He thinks daycare wouldn’t be that bad? Let him find a few, and compare the costs to what you’d supposedly be making. Let him work out the logistics of drop-off and pick-up, and backup care, and what happens when he’s working overnight.

      And of course, he’ll need to figure out the tax impact of your salary, what to do about healthcare (a family plan), and the costs of your commute (mileage? parking? transit?)

      If he’s making 3-4 times what you were working full time, I seriously doubt you’d be in the black by this imaginary transition.

      But there’s no reason why you have to do any of this planning. He’s the one who wants it. Let him do the work and present a real plan with real numbers for you to consider. It’s not going to commit you to anything, and I’d bet he would lose enthusiasm as soon as it looks like work for him to do, instead of work for you to do.

      At least, that’s what it looks like in my house. Telling my husband we can discuss it when it’s an actual plan with dates and numbers has saved me years of agita over nothing, and now when he just wants to talk an idea through to get it out of his head, I can listen without getting bent out of shape.

      1. ket

        But that’s not fair to the husband, either. It sounds like our OP won’t even look for a full-time job *right now* because of a hypothetical future pregnancy. And I thought the point of him switching jobs is that then he wouldn’t be working overnight. Maybe he can do the pick-up and drop-off at daycare, with his new local job that doesn’t require 2nd/3rd shift. Maybe his new job would pay alright, as would hers. Say he’s earning $80k now and she’s earning 20k part-time, but could be earning 65k in a full-time position that wasn’t receptionist/data entry but instead used different skills. If he dropped to $50k, wasn’t overnight anymore, was happier, could do pickup and dropoff, and she could be at a 65k position with less than an hour commute each way, maybe that would be better for them than having a resentful husband stuck at a job he hates, trying to sleep during the day with a baby in the house and working overnight, because his wife refuses to work.

    24. HLHR

      If you’re wonder what it would look like, it’s:
      5:30 – Wake up. Get yourself put together, get baby up.
      7:00 – Drop baby off at daycare
      8:00 – 5:00 – Work
      6:00 – Pick up baby at daycare
      6:30 – Get home. Feed yourself and baby. Spend time together.
      By 8:00 – Get baby in bed.
      8-9:30 – Clean up, get ready for the next day, etc.
      9:30 – Bedtime

      I’ve been doing it for 6 years, and wouldn’t trade it for being a stay home mom. That said, it’s not for everyone. Also, daycare for 11 hours is expensive.

      You both need to be on the same page, and also be accepting that the situation today may need to change tomorrow. For example, I left a job for one further away (added an extra half hour to my commute) a couple years ago, and it meant shifting some things to my husband. We knew it was a better long term fit though, so we did it. What happens (for example) if your husband loses his job? How about when your kids are in school and you could work more hours?

        1. PhyllisB

          Or baby screams until midnight and wakes up at 3:30-4:00 for a feeding. Been there, done that, got the drawer-full of drool-stained t-shirts to prove it.

    25. MillersSpring

      You’re not even pregnant yet. Getting pregnant is not a guarantee. Go do what what makes sense for your life the way it is now today.

      1. dawbs

        I want to echo this.
        Listen to everyone else on the marriage stuff that needs to be solved pre-baby.

        But for job stuff right now, do what makes sense for job stuff right now.
        I’m the proud parent of a 7 year old…who, if things had gone as *planned* would probably be 13 right now. But they didn’t, there were a few years delay in solving some marriage stuff (so yes, I know that of which I speak) and a few years delay in some health stuff and a few years delay in infertility stuff.

        I would have cheated myself out of more than 5 years worth of *good* job experience and *GOOD* income if I would have taken a ‘mommy track’ job before I was momming. which would have meant that I probably wouldn’t have worked my way into a job that had good maternity leave, a boss willing to work around my childcare needs and pumping schedule, and who I had built several years of rapport with–so she could trust me to handle my stuff on my own time, before my kid showed up. Which would have made the mom/job balance so much harder.

        Make the choices for the life you have, while planning for the life you want–but don’t sell yourself short now.

    26. Lindsay Gee

      Along with what everyone else is saying about counselling etc….why doesn’t your husband actually job search and see what is out there first? If he were in a job he enjoyed, and making similar money- then the issue disappears right? And he wouldn’t necessarily need to switch industries (unless he wants that), he could theoretically find a job that isn’t with his crappy boss (this is all assuming that without his crappy boss, he would still enjoy his job).
      See what his job prospects would be. This seems like a super simple first step, that doesn’t require either of you to commit to anything. It’s seeing what’s out there, and if he gets an interview and job offer somewhere, hazzah! He gets out of his crappy job! Or maybe he sticks with the one he has…who knows?! But it’s an easy thing he can do so that you’re not planning your future with 10000000 unknown factors.

      1. ronda

        Well…. why didnt she start a job search and figure things out before quiting her job and being out of work for 6 months…. then going back part time?

        Also, did she talk with him and he agreed that it was a good idea for her to quit her job instead of staying while she found another (full-time?) job? I am guessing , no.

        that kind of thing can build up resentment when you think you are doing more than your fair share.

        a hypothetical future where you have more responsibility does not make up for the lack of equal “contribution” now. (& by “contribution” — I don’t mean just money)

        1. OhBehave

          OP left out that pertinent point – did hubby know she was thinking of quitting? Did he know how toxic her workplace was? If answering no to either of these – YIKES! I would be ticked off if my hubby quit. It doesn’t matter if I made 10x the money he did, you talk about these things first. He’s carrying the burden of hating his job but knowing if he up and quits, they will be left with little income. I feel he’s fantasizing about doing just what OP did.

          Getting pregnant now will NOT fix things. Don’t do it – even on accident.

        2. OhBehave

          OP left out that pertinent point – did hubby know she was thinking of quitting? Did he know how toxic her workplace was? If answering no to either of these – YIKES! I would be ticked off if my hubby quit. It doesn’t matter if I made 10x the money he did, you talk about these things first. He’s carrying the burden of hating his job but knowing if he up and quits, they will be left with little income. I feel he’s fantasizing about doing just what OP did.

          Getting pregnant now will NOT fix things. Don’t do it – even on accident.

    27. foolofgrace

      I’m late to the party, and there has been tons of good advice about therapy etc., but if you absolutely can’t do City Job with Baby (I know how hard that is, single mom here who got zero help from sperm donor), then Take It Off the Table. If you can’t do it, you can’t do it, end of discussion on that front, time to move the discussion on. And I echo the suggestions for therapy, you or couples. Frankly this guy makes me kind of mad. How many diapers is he committed to changing? Midnight feedings? etc. etc.

    28. Frankie

      Okay. You guys need some realistic conversations about 1) what you had previously agreed to and 2) what’s changed and what’s the new ideal for BOTH of you. You both deserve to be happy and that doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. (Also, it’s hard to tell from your letter, but is he really assuming you’d get a full time demanding job AND be the primary caregiver, while he can just work and not do that stuff? Because if so, that’s messed up and completely unsustainable).

      Then you need to do some research:
      1) Cost of day care in your area–how much would you both have to make to be able to afford it? For 1 kid? 2+? Price it all out. For us, the best we can find so far will be the cost of our mortgage just for one toddler (and we’ll have to fight tooth and nail for a spot there to boot). It just barely makes sense for my husband to keep his job but if we have two, he’d have to get a big raise to make it work.
      2) His career plan. You working an imaginary “city job” will not change his job prospects, so if he is set on leaving he should start doing the legwork of applying and interviewing, understanding salary ranges, etc. Is he using your getting some job as a delaying tactic? He should be making plans now if he’s that unhappy.
      3) These fancy “city jobs” you guys are imagining. What are they and what do they pay? How long would you have to work at one company to achieve this pay level? I’ve worked some of these “city jobs” and until you’ve got a long track record, for me the pay wasn’t all that spectacular.

      If he won’t see a therapist, maybe you both could still find a financial advisor and work through some of the tangles, here.

      But I think until you have some concrete numbers, or a job opportunity in his hand, it’s really a lot of imaginary problems. I wouldn’t start trying until you’ve started to work some of this out. If there’s resentments now they might explode when a baby comes along. Doing this work could be as important as any other preconception health plan.

      I would also not necessarily come up with just one plan that will work for you guys to raise a family. You both may get 12 months into parenthood and realize what you thought you wanted isn’t working anymore. It’s better to come up with multiple scenarios that might work. What if you actually missed work after a while? What if he decides he wants to be around the kids more? What if you guys want to move for schools or some family thing?

    29. Fulana del tal

      I don’t see the OP’s husband as selfish/sexist but extremely frustrated. He’s feeling trapped in toxic for him job with a spouse who refuses to work beyond part-time/short commute and now the OP wants to add kids. He’s never going to be able to afford to leave toxic job.

      Agreements aren’t set in stone. Just like you changed your mind regarding work, he can change his mind too.
      Don’t get pregnant and find a full time job.

    30. AcademiaNut

      I think the fundamental problem you’re facing right now is that the two options you’re looking at involve one of you being happy at the cost of the other’s happiness. And that’s poison to even a loving relationship.

      If you get what you want, you work part time and look after the baby, but your husband is stuck indefinitely in a job he dislikes. If he gets what he wants, he gets the chance to change to a job that doesn’t suck, but you end up with a demanding job and all the household stuff.

      And you both have valid points. You’re frustrated because he doesn’t understand just what a ‘city job’ will mean when you have a child and how much of a burden it will be. He’s frustrated because you quit your job due to unhappiness without anything lined up, but he’s expected to stay indefinitely in his unhappy job for the sake of the family.

      I would really, really, really strongly advise that you not have a baby until you work this out. Throw a baby into this, and you’ve got raging hormones, exhaustion, increased expenses, decreased time, and a lot fewer options.

      Things to think about – can you downscale your life so that you can both have jobs you’re happy with? Can you put off a baby, have you find full time work, and give him a chance to retrain for something? Can he find a different job in his current field? Could you move so that he can do that?

    31. Thursday Next

      Wow, Mom to Be, you got some great responses here! I wanted to say that marriage, IME, is a constantly evolving partnership, and it’s important to be able to communicate honestly with each other—and be willing to shift your position to accommodate and respect your partner’s needs. There may never be one single time when each of you is getting exactly what you want.

      For example, agreement you made about being primary caregiver shouldn’t be sacrosanct. It can be revisited as both your needs change.

      Again IMHO, the most crucial thing in parenting is making sure you’re both pulling for the same team. A shared sense of purpose and cooperation, of mutual investment and love, is absolutely necessary. This can only be accomplished through communication in which both sides are willing to compromise. Counseling can be a great resource in facilitating this essential dialogue.

    32. Thankful for AAM

      I know you are not even pregnant yet but when the poop hit the fan and our 16 year old son let us know he was feeling suicidal, my not so into talking about his feelings husband announced 1 week into what turned out to be a 4 year slog through teen psychiatry, that he was moving out. He had spent a whole week on this emotional problem and nothing was better yet and he could not take it.

      He did not move out, we did go to counseling, and our son is fine now. But a difficult situation was made much harder than it needed to be bc we had never addressed our issues. I don’t think you want to find out just how unemotionally available he is during a child related crisis.

    33. Buu

      It seems like neither of you want to be the main bread winner. How are his feelings on having a baby, has he expressed his desire to have one? If so has he mentioned taking care of it at all? or does he think that you can just get child care and no one has to watch the baby?

    34. Kanade

      Could you have a family member move in to take care of potential kids? A friend of mine got thru uni that way – her brother and his wife lived near to the uni, so she moved in with them and took care of the kids while doing online courses. The nuclear family is not at all the only way to go on this!

    35. Barbara

      His understanding of therapy is totally wrong. However you can still go to see the therapist on your own. I have been told that even when only one of the two goes to couple therapy it can help.
      You could also try NVC (Non-Violent Communication). It might sound less frightening to him.
      Working up to 12 hours a day while being the one doing all the childcare and cleaning will be not only impossible but also unfair. You aren’t a slave !

  4. Trying

    I shouldn’t be having a panic attack because my boss will be calling me to talk soon.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!

      Deep breaths! It may not be a bad thing – sometimes a call is just easier than email.

    2. Opting for the Sidelines

      Is this a random out of the blue phone call? If so, that usually does inspire panic attacks.

      Do you anticipate being reprimanded for anything? Again, this does inspire panic attacks.

      If it is just a normal call, with a non-toxic boss, then take a deep breath lasting for four counts, hold for four counts, blow out for four counts. Repeat until your heart slows down.

      And remember it is Friday. The weekend starts soon.

    3. Junior Dev

      Hugs. My response to “can we talk?” from my boss is still “I’m gonna get fired.” I hope the call goes well.

      1. Epsilon Delta

        Mine too! And it’s always “Hey Epsilon I am trying to do this thing and can you just show me where the file is?” (Boss works remote so he calls me for this sort of thing instead of walking over to my desk). I wish I could un-learn the “I’m getting fired” reaction, the best I’ve got is to just ignore it and pretend the reaction is not happening.

    4. MarsupialHop

      This call will be about 1 of 2 things: (1) something has already decided and the call is to inform you of the decision. (2) something is going to be decided and they need your input.

      Most Likely:
      It is probably a call about a change in the company/department’s direction.
      It is a call about a question for the process you use/department uses on some thing boss needs fast-tracked.

    5. StudentAffairsProfessional

      Don’t fret! When my boss does that, it usually means she wants to give me back story on a project or request she’s about to make that she doesn’t want to put in writing. Could be something juicy instead of something negative, haha!!!

  5. Headphones On

    How do you all feel about headphones – and especially podcasts and audiobooks – at work?

    A lot of my work requires organizing data, and is often monotonous and repetitive because my nonprofit doesn’t have the kind of technology that would allow me to automate the rote work. I’ve been dealing by listening to a lot of audiobooks at work.

    No one has called me out on this, per say, but my workplace is mostly a people-oriented space (think counseling, where the only people not usually with clients are on the phones or doing other admin work). The other IT people are more helpdesk, and I’m the only one doing reporting, coding, and other activities that have rare human interactions, so I’m the only one in my office with headphones on.

    Should I avoid podcasts and whatnot at work, or at least not call attention to them? Or should I learn to do this kind of work without headphones to better fit into the office culture? Or should I just treat it like a non-issue, because it really does help me get through the tedious but necessary parts of my job?

    (I’m trying this one last time, but it seems as though these aren’t being posted??? Sorry for duplicates, if they happen!)

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      I listen to podcasts, audio books, and/or music while I work. My office environment is pretty different from yours though – the positions here are largely processing and most people have earbuds/headphones while they work. As long as you are pausing and talking to people when they stop by/call you/otherwise need your input, I think you’re fine.

    2. Blue Anne

      A lot of my work involves organizing data too, and I’m constantly listening to audiobooks. I mentioned it to my boss and he thought it was super impressive that I could do both at once (uh, not really?) Days that I forget my earbuds, my productivity goes way down. If it’s the same for you I would definitely keep doing it.

      I just listen to them with one earbud in, and I have one of those in-line mic/clicker things so that I can pause it really quickly if someone starts talking to me.

      1. Headphones On

        This is me. When I forget my headphones, I get so easily distracted by everything else going on, and am nowhere near as productive as when I have them in. Glad to know I’m not the only one!

      2. SarahKay

        Agreed with all the above.
        Use ear buds rather than headphones (less obvious) and just one ear bud in, so you can still easily hear what’s happening around you.
        I tend to like music rather than audio books and I listen like this regularly. Because it’s just one fairly unobtrusive wire to one ear no-one even seems to notice until they’re half-way through asking me the question – at which point they notice because they can see me taking it out ;)

        1. Windchime

          Can I just say this to everyone who is just listening with one earbud in–please keep your volume down so that the rest of us don’t have to hear the constant “psst, tsssss, psssss” of talking through your dangling earbud. I have really sensitive hearing and it’s so annoying to have to listen to that while my coworker is working away happily with one bud in and one out.

        2. The Dread Pirate Buttercup

          You could also do a Bluetooth— it’s a little less offensive to those for whom headphones mean, “checked out.” (I think it’s a style thing, myself— count me in with the sort of people for whom “no headphones” means, “lower productivity.”)

    3. Murphy

      I listen to podcasts all day at work! I keep one headphone in and one open so that people know they can come up and talk to me. I also am at my desk alone most of the day and all of the desks around me are empty. As long as you’re receptive when people do need to talk to you, I think you’re ok.

      1. JokeyJules

        Same! 1 headphone in, one out. I like to think it sends the message that I’m not very interested in social conversations right now, but if you have a question or need something, I’m still available.

    4. There is a Life Outside the Library

      I think if your coworkers understand your job, which is mostly NOT public facing, they will understand. But if you feel like you need to explain it, go ahead. I do library cataloging and I could not do my job without music…and I have told colleagues as much.

    5. Valor

      For about a year, I worked for an office where everyone else was on the phone all the time as I organized data, and that is in fact where I started listening to podcasts. In that case, it helped me maintain confidentiality for the people around me, and I don’t think anyone minded, as long as it was clear that I didn’t mind being interrupted. (Although I did mind, because I hate being abruptly pulled out of data to talk to people, but that was unrelated to the podcasts.)

    6. Advancement ACE

      I agree with everyone saying that headphones are fine as long as you’re getting your work done and you’re able to respond to anyone who stops by your desk. I would caution against anything that plays via video, like a TED talk or something similar. Even if you’re not actively watching it, if someone sees a video playing on your screen they could get the wrong idea about your productivity.

      I wouldn’t even mention the headphones to anyone unless they bring it up themselves. And then you could just say that they help you focus on your work in an active workplace. You don’t need to tell anyone what you’re listening to.

      1. Antilles

        Agreed. I’d second the warning about videos – there’s a clear difference in how people perceive it if you just have headphones in versus “wait, is she watching TV on her phone?”.

      2. Headphones On

        Oh, yeah, I agree 100%! I’m actually a little annoyed that Spotify automatically starts music videos on some of my playlists now, because I find it distracting to see my phone flashing different colors. I don’t think I could possibly watch and listen and work at the same time!

    7. Turquoisecow

      I’ve mostly worked at offices where headphones were okay. I had one boss who thought they were unprofessional because he felt like I wasn’t focusing with them on (he was wrong), but thankfully I didn’t work with him for very long. Every other boss has been totally ok with it.

      If you’re uncertain about it, ask your direct supervisor for their opinion, but I would honestly just start working with them on and wait for someone to tell you not to.

    8. KR

      I listen to music, NPR, and podcasts all the time with headphones or out loud on my small Bluetooth speaker (I’m in a small office and work alone most of the time). My coworkers and I listen to podcasts together sometimes, meaning I’ll already be listening and they will join in. My work involves a lot of emailing and invoice processing and semi frequent phone calls but I would be Uber bored and unhappy working in silence. Manager encouraged me to get a Bluetooth speaker.

    9. twig

      Unless you hear differently – -keep doing what you’re doing. I had a job in grad school that was primarily data entry. I eventually figured out that I worked much more quickly and accurately if I was listening to audiobooks (this was in the wee early days of podcasts…) Every week I’d go to the library and check out enough hours of audiobooks to cover my work days and commute (20 hours of work and 10-15 hours of commute) it made my worklife (and commute) MUCH better. Also — I finally made it through a couple of Dickens Novels!

      I like the recommendation of leaving one earbud out — this signals availability if needed –and also you can maintain an awareness of what’s going on around you (again in case you are needed)

    10. Jim

      At the jobs I’ve worked at, most folks wouldn’t bat an eye (software development). If someone raises an issue, you can talk about blocking out other noise, or stop wearing them.

    11. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night

      There are only two things that bother me when my co-workers listen to music/podcasts:

      1. Listening at such a high volume that it’s impossible to get their attention unless you physically tap them on the shoulder.
      2. Laughing hysterically or singing aloud with whatever they’re listing to. Drives me up a while and then I can’t concentrate on my work.

      I will assume that you, OP are polite and don’t do either of those things, so podcast on unless someone says its a problem.

    12. LSP

      My work is normally running meetings and writing/editing work, so doesn’t often allow for listening to podcasts, etc., and I often find myself needing to wear headphones to have white noise playing in the background so I can better concentrate on what I’m doing.

      However, there are rare occasions when I am doing database work, and when I do that, I put in my ear buds and listen to podcasts and music without a thought. I have never seen anyone else in my office wearing headphones except when on Skype calls, but no one has ever batted an eye at me doing it. If they can concentrate on their work while hearing three other conversations happening around them, bully for them!

    13. Iris Eyes

      When I do tasks like that I have to listen to something with a plot line. Its like my brain needs something to chew on so I can stay on task. It may be better to use earbuds rather than headphones if you are OK with that, in that case its a little less noticeable. You could also try having just one ear plugged in so that you can still maintain auditor awareness of your environment.

    14. jukeboxx

      I’m actually annoyed I never thought of listening to audiobooks! I do listen to a lot of podcasts though, my fave right now is Stuff You Missed in History Class :)

    15. Thlayli

      It’s a total non-issue. I don’t even understand why you would think it’s an issue. Loads of people have headphones in when they are concentrating. Sometimes I put them on even when I’m not listening to music just to signal “I’m concentrating leave me alone”

  6. Spegasi

    Hey! My boyfriend is in an awkward situation with his degree being basically useless right now. Background: we live in Mexico, not the USA. He majored in petroleum engineering with allows for little wiggle room for doing anything outside of it . He graduated just as the market in his field went through a major crisis and two years later its barely recovering. He has held odd jobs here and there in the hopes that it will pick up soon but nothing close to what will help him build a CV. He has gone on interviews but no offers and even the job postings are slim. His degree over qualifies him from trainee programs (aimed at students about to graduate or recent graduates) and other types of jobs. He also racked up a lot of credit card debt and loan debt under the impression that the job market was so stable that he would have no problem getting a well payed job. At this point I guess the question is, what do you do when your degree is esentially useless and you need a job as soon as possible?

    1. AliceW

      Degrees are not useless. Unfortunately people limit themselves and think they are only qualified to do the one thing they studied. So many professional fields do not require a related degree at all (e.g. finance, sales, real estate). Many of these fields require that you study and obtain a license which can be done for very little money or none at all if you are willing to take an entry level job and work your way up. My sister graduated with an art degree and works in finance. She had no finance background at all and started as a temp and worked her way up to a global VP. Your boyfriend just needs to get his foot in the door and a good way to do that is to apply for temp work if that is available in Mexico where you live. Good luck.

      1. Jim

        And consider the intersection of roles – are there petroleum sales jobs with vendors, or wholesalers? What other things are interesting to him that by themselves have a lower barrier to entry (sales, support, etc), where having the degree would be a major benefit?

      2. BF50

        A finance degree is super helpful in finance, but I have known accountants and finance people with degrees in archeology, chemistry, polisci, psychology, and culinary arts.

        1. Bacon Pancakes

          My new favorite job title (someone called in on the radio): EMTD.
          English Major-Truck Driver

    2. Buckeye

      My husband also has a degree that is fairly niche and was probably not the wisest choice in hindsight. He’s currently working retail, which is far from the dream, but it helps keep us afloat financially while he works on an online program to get a more useful certifications in a lateral field to his original degree. I don’t know what options your boyfriend might have in relation to petroleum engineering, but securing a job that doesn’t necessarily require a degree at all might provide some stability to look at long term options.

    3. AnotherAlison

      I know several people I work with who graduated with petroleum engineering degrees in the 80s, during the previous oil boom. They ended up getting work as mechanical engineers instead. I also work with ChemEs who work as mechanicals. All the energy-related markets are very cyclical, and always have been, so this is not uncommon. I would say that I don’t think ME or ChemE hiring is extremely strong at the moment, but there are jobs to be had. Petroleum grads were making huge salaries straight out of school, so his expectations may need to be recalibrated to a “new grad” ME salary level.

    4. KR

      Can he move into renewables? I work in renewables and we have a lot of people who worked in fossil fuels or nuclear that switched over. Power generation is power generation and a lot of the same principals apply.

      Also, can he work in sales of parts relating to his field or in a support role for petroleum production/transport/ect? Maybe project planning or something. His engineering knowledge will help him a lot.

      1. Jersey's mom

        Check out utility corporations. They hire a lot of engineers. He may be able to get his foot in the door doing PE type work. Probably will need to start at entry level, but there is a market for engineers in nearly all energy fields.

    5. sweet potatoes

      Depending on the area of the country you live on, he could apply for engineering positions in maquiladoras. While most would request industrial engineers, the skills should be transferable enough that a case could be made for a wide variety of departments. Good luck!

    6. Middle School Teacher

      This would require more training, but I know a few petroleum engineers who are now high-level science teachers. Since they already have the degree, the B. Ed after-degree is only two years, not four, and they also start higher on the salary grid since they have more education. (Keep in mind this is in Canada, so I’m not sure if the US is similar.) Just a thought.

      1. Cat Herder

        If he’s a US citizen and wants to try teaching in the US, he should look into lateral entry. Lots of places are desperate for math and science teachers.

    7. same boat, different sails

      I have a degree in Chemical Engineering, minor in Petroleum Engineering so I have seen this from the inside too.
      If he has a Petroleum Engineering degree, most likely took several Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering classes.
      There are so many job postings that list under requirements simply: “Engineering degree” or “chemical engineering degree, or equivalent”. He has an engineering degree, and it is NOT useless. Many companies would hire for certain positions someone with ANY engineering degree. I would say chemical, civil, and mechanical would be his best bet.

    8. Thlayli

      He could do a conversion course. He’s an engineer already so an additional one-year program (or even possibly a shorter course) could turn him from a petroleum engineer into a different type of engineer.

    9. Sam Foster

      As others have stated, look for intersections where skills are applicable. I started off as a chemical engineer bounced in to optical coating and then environmental testing only to end up as a computer programmer. My ability to perform analysis and solve problems got me the job each time. I won’t pretend it was easy though, it was much harder for me to get where I wanted to be than if I had started off with a Comp. Sci. degree. Regardless, I’m still there doing the same work as others.

    10. Bacon Pancakes

      Do you want to stay in Mexico? Texas has a lotta oil rigs!
      I am not sure if that would be something you are even interested in, but I would think his defree would transfee.

      Wait, was his degree from Mexico or are you living there… sorry. It’s been a long day.

  7. Older Millennials Commiseration Thread

    It seems like every time I interview for a job, when I look later at who got it, it’s some 24 year old with two years experience + an internship. I’m 32. I have a hot mess of experience, because I graduated college in 2008. I changed career paths multiple times out of necessity (although there IS a common thread, and the past 5 years have been “stable”). I feel like hiring managers either view me as “flaky” or “overqualified” (I have received both as feedback—not the actual word flaky but that my experience is all over the place). But I’m not qualified for senior jobs because while I have 10 years experience, it’s not all in the same field…. Ugh.

    And don’t even get me started on ads that specifically ask for “3-5 years experience.”

    Anyway, older millennials commiserate here!

    1. ExcelJedi

      32 here, too, and I’ve been through QUITE a few different industries & 6-month jobs in the last decade.

      Do you have a good narrative for your experience and where you want to go? I’ve had a lot of success in framing my history as how I learned where I want to be, and showing that I’ve been more stable (same industry, though 3 jobs in 3 states) in the last 6 years or so. At my current job, I turned that into “and now I just want to be somewhere doing THIS thing in THIS industry for a long time) – which was absolutely true, and it worked.

      1. Older Millennials Commiseration Thread

        How do you write your cover letter–going backwards (like now I’m doing this, before I did that), or chronological? Someone recommended writing chronologically to better explain who I got from A to B to C, but my letter got sooo long.

        1. Natalie

          I don’t think your cover letter has to have any relationship with time, necessarily? You don’t want to be using it to walk through your resume (the resume should do that) but rather highlight specific things that are relevant to the job posting or your interest in it.

          1. schnauzerfan

            If you’ve covered your job history in your resume you don’t want to rehash everything in a cover letter. I see it more as emphasizing something that makes you a stronger candidate or explains something the hiring manager might be curious about.

            “Most of my work experience is in the tea cup painting field, but 2 years ago I did a llama bowl painting project that involved daily interaction with the beasts at Laughing Llama farms. The experience was a game changer for me. My part time job at, “Dancing with Llamas” came about as a result of that project, and I’m ready to take the next step and go full llama.”
            or
            “As you can see from my job history, I’ve lived in Paradise for several years and you may be wondering if I can adjust to life in Hades. I can say with certainty that I can. I spent half of my growing up years with my Aunt Satin in Purgatory and I just loved the changeable climate, the social life and the cries of the damned. Paradise is really rather bland and I’m eager to get back to a more vibrant community.”

            1. Bacon Pancakes

              “Go full Llama” will, from here-forth be my new catch-phrase.
              So basically you made this day a win.

        2. AnnStanSam

          My experience is varied, and I don’t tell a story in my cover letter beyond the two sentences ExcelJedi mentioned above. I say X and Y have taught me that I really value Z in a job, and then the majority of the letter is devoted to explaining why my skills (from various jobs, not necessarily chronological) make me a good fit for the job I’m applying for.

        3. ExcelJedi

          I don’t, really. My cover letter has a paragraph in it about how passionate I am about my industry, and a little bit about having experience increasingly in-line with the basic position. It’s definitely more focused on what I can bring to the company and where my ambitions within a new company would lie than explaining myself – any explanation comes off as incidental to *what I can do for them.*

          The most important part (IMHO) is 2-4 bullet points about specific projects that I’ve done exactly in-line with the position requirements. (The kind of things that may or may not be mentioned in my resume, but that I can expound upon in the CL.)

        4. Anon Older Millenial

          I recently incorporated a 3 line paragraph at the top of my resume essentially saying “Between Date and Date (a 2 year period, fyi) I worked primarily in client-facing positions outside of X industry; during this downtime I finished the requirements of my degree” and it seemed to go really well in the (albeit)one phone interview I had that asked me to explain. The person went “oh okay” and went on to ask about the applicable jobs I had included on my resume. Essentially I took non-career type jobs to pay the bills after being laid off from the job I left University for.

      2. gecko

        I think that’s a good call. This would be a great use of your cover letter, to describe that narrative, but your resume could back it up with the points you highlight from each job. Definitely a difficult writing task, but a lot of potential to get where you want.

        To start it off I’d come up with an elevator pitch narrative based on a big element of what you want to be doing. Customer service, communications, management, whatever, and then see what you can draw out of each job that reflects that.

      3. There is a Life Outside the Library

        Oh, yes my dude. Actually, I saw some article recently saying that older millennials saying that no one says “Hey, looking back we never made up for the fact that we didn’t hire anyone graduating in 2008- let’s fix that!” And it made total sense. In a life is totally unfair way, of course.

        1. ExcelJedi

          YES. I was lucky. A lot of my friends are still in the dead-end minimum wage jobs they got when they graduated college, or going back for second bachelor’s degrees or graduate degrees because they think it will make up for the fact that they have no experience that required a college degree in the last 10 years. It’s still really upsetting, and no one notices!

          1. aebhel

            Yep. I also graduated in 2008. I’m doing pretty good, but most of my cohort, uh, isn’t. It’s a noticeable difference even for people five years younger than us–twentysomethings with career-track jobs versus thirtysomethings with college degrees still working retail and food service.

            1. Violet

              Yes, I graduated in 2008 as well. I went to graduate school, but a lot of my friends who graduated around the same time took YEARS to recover. Then there are all these think pieces about how we’re not buying houses and having babies. ::side-eye::

              1. DArcy

                The situation is pretty similar to the “lost generation” in Japan a few decades ago, plus a heaping dose of personal abuse piled on millennials by older generations.

                1. Quickbeam

                  I’m a mid-boomer and I am too busy trying to wrangle myself a retirement to cast shade on any other generation. I will say this….without being any kind of jumbo brain, I easily worked my way through 2 degrees without a dollar of loans….primarily with on campus jobs. This was the 70s-80s. I have a tremendous respect and sympathy for millennials shouldering monster student debt. It’s just not fair. My nursing degree which cost 6K in the 1980s is now at 50k, tuition alone. Salaries did not go up 8 fold but tuition sure did.

      4. Cedrus Libani

        I was also a 2008 graduate, and my resume is…um, interesting. I was luckier than many, but it’s pretty clear that I spent years working odd jobs in the general orbit of my intended field, rather than taking the straight and narrow path. I worked a real, grown-up job in my field for seven months after graduation (then the economy ate it) – and then finally got another one, in 2018.

        It helps that I really was orbiting around my field with some degree of intention, and I can sell that narrative in an interview. (Why’d I take that job? Well, it was 2009 and I like sleeping indoors. But I took initiative in XYZ ways, and ended up responsible for ABC, and learned relevant skills PQR.) If you have a narrative, even one that required a stiff dose of hindsight to come up with, it really does seem to cut the head-scratching.

        In my cover letters, I also try to wave around what relevant experience I do have, so it doesn’t get lost – and the flip side of an unfocused resume is that I usually have SOMETHING to highlight.

    2. KatieKate

      Are you tailoring your resume for each job or leaving every job you’ve had on it? You might be better off having sections for “relevant experience” and “other experience” depending on the jobs, or really honing in on the transferable skills you learned in each.
      And I have no idea if I’m right, but I tend to look at “years of experience” as work in general. You have 10 years of workplace experience–you just need to sell it better.

      1. Commiserater

        I thought “years of experience” meant the number of years you’ve worked in the same exact position or the number of years you’ve used a specific skill set related to the job.

        So someone with 5 years of general office experience technically isn’t qualified for an accounting job that requires 5 years of experience.

        1. Older Millennials Commiseration Thread

          It really depends on the job. usually they specify whether it’s work experience in general or field/responsibility-related.

        2. KatieKate

          Fair–but most positions that want X years of a certain experience tend to ask it. Maybe it’s just my field (non profit) but jobs posting tend to be pretty general because aside from a few areas, we tend to be jills-of-all-trades.
          And even if a position specifies–say, 5 years of event planning experience–I feel comfortable fudging it with examples of the comparable experience I do have.

        3. Antilles

          It can really go either way.
          An accounting job asking for five years of experience almost certainly wants five years in accounting since they have specific technical needs; your five years working as an office manager in a lawyer’s office isn’t really relevant.
          On the flip side, a lawyer’s office looking for an office manager would probably be perfectly fine with someone who spent five years as an accountant – this demand for “five years’ experience” isn’t tied to a specific job skill as much as it’s a general reflection of the lawyer’s desire to have someone with experience in offices who knows how to resolve issues independently and juggle responsibilities.

    3. strawberries and raspberries

      Are you me? I changed fields in my mid-twenties and there is also a very subtle (if not totally obvious) thread that usually knocks people out when I tell them the connection. I think emphasizing the consistency of all your experiences and showing that you understand nuances of what’s required for the field you want can go a long way. (In one of my more successful recent interviews for a job I’ve never done, I said something like, “While I haven’t worked directly with this issue, I’ve worked with a lot of clients who also struggle with it, and in context of [what I do], my strategy has been..” They seemed ready to hire me, except they were offering 24-year-old with two years and an internship salary, which, absolutely not.)

    4. Discouraged Millennial

      I’m 27, so I kind of fall in the middle of the millennial age group. I never did an internship in my field during college for financial reasons, and when I graduated, I had a few interviews for jobs where my degree would be relevant, but I quickly gave up. Having no experience outside of school projects proved to be detrimental, and I even had an interviewer ask me why I wanted to get into marketing (my degree), and why wouldn’t I want to just stay in banking. (I worked full time as a bank teller throughout college.) I got discouraged, and now, all this time later, I still work at a credit union. I have moved up from teller, but I’m living paycheck to paycheck, and have still never used my stupid degree.

      1. Audiophile

        I almost took a job in banking. It’s never too late to change fields, if that’s what you really want to do. There are commonalities between banking and marketing. Also, depending on how large your bank is, look on the corporate side for marketing roles.

      2. Jadelyn

        Does your credit union have a marketing department? If they do, keep an eye out for openings. Sure it would be moving teams, but you’ve got the degree, and internal candidates are usually preferred anyway.

        1. Triplestep

          This is what I was going to suggest. I worked for a large bank HQ, and I was the only person on my team who had never worked in a branch. You would be really valuable to your company’s marketing department. You could even reach out to someone there and let them know what you want to do in Marketing so they know who you are should a position come up.

          1. Jadelyn

            This is also a good thing to note, and a selling point for getting involved beyond branch ops – I also work in a credit union, actually, in HR, and only one member of the HR team has ever worked in the branch ops side of things. And we rely on her ABSURDLY heavily to help translate “branch ops speak” for us. A manager comes to me and says, hey, my employee force-balanced and I want to have a coaching meeting with him about it, can you provide the write-up for him to sign? I’m going to have to start from “Wait, what the hell is force balancing?”

            Marketing is a bit different, but I can only imagine that having someone who’s got real boots-on-the-ground experience with members will have really valuable input on how best to reach the members with your marketing materials. What questions do they always ask? What products and services are they aware of and come to you about, vs the ones that you have to actively cross-sell because they’ve never heard that you do that particular type of loan or account before? That can help your marketing people identify areas to work on for their communications. Are the tchotchkes (how the hell is that spelled, anyway?) they give you to hand out at community events good quality, or junk that most people don’t even want? Marketing won’t necessarily know that because they’re not at the events interacting with people, but if you’re in branch ops, I’m sure you have the experience to know what you’re talking about.

            1. Jim

              I’m in software development for a credit union as well, and the members of my team with branch experience are incredibly valuable as well. For the OP, consider joining (or starting) a internal communications group as well, Marketing-ish, but employee focused.

            2. Bacon Pancakes

              I am pretty sure Force Balancing is what Yoda was trying to teach Luke on Degobah.

        2. Discouraged Millennial

          We do have a marketing department, but its one person, and she has been for a very long time. I doubt that she will be going anywhere any time soon. But, she knows that I have the marketing degree and has offered to include me in on projects when I’m not busy with my other work. I’m hoping that I can gain some experience that way.

          1. Jadelyn

            Take her up on that! Propose your own ideas for marketing outreach projects, based on your experience in the branch working directly with members. Who knows, you might be able to basically create a job for yourself if you can show evidence that you could bring enough benefit in expanding the marketing department’s ability to do efficient outreach to justify adding a second person to marketing.

    5. Emily S.

      Oh geez, I have no advice, but can commiserate. Like you, I graduated college in 2008, the worst possible time. I never got into the industry I was aiming for (journalism degree, and media is a really competitive, tough field). I did multiple unpaid internships before giving up. I’m an admin now, which is okay, but not what I ever imagined I’d be doing at this stage of my life!

      1. Not a journalist, Class of 2008

        I, too, am a 32-year-old 2008 graduate with a journalism degree! I jumped around a bunch of non-profits with varying degrees of dysfunction and had a pretty good gig in local government before I took a break two years ago to freelance and stay home with my kid. My longest stay at any one place was just over 2 years. Now I’m trying to get back into the workforce and feel like my background makes me look like a terrible gamble, when in reality I’ve maintained freelancing relationships with nearly every job I’ve left and would love nothing more than stability. I have an interview to be an EA next week through a networking connection and I’m actually really excited for. I feel like the recession permanently altered my career arc. I’ve made the best of it, but it does suck. It feels good to hear other people my age talk about this bc while I’m sure I could have made different decisions and been in a different place, I have gone through my career feeling fundamentally deficient.

        1. Class of '07

          Ditto on the nonprofits: I have close to 10 years’ experience at dysfunctional nonprofits whose dysfunction kept me from moving up to a level where I could move out. I now have a hodgepodge resume threaded along a highly specialized risk management/risk prevention skillset, which no one wants because nonprofits would rather save money and risk a lawsuit than pay to function under industry best practices.

          I have no idea what to do with my life now.

    6. Commiserater

      31 here.

      I’ve had four full time jobs in the last eight years. I left them for valid reasons (like getting laid off), but I must look like a job hopper.

      I have a master’s degree, which I will usually keep on my resume for a few months every time I start job hunting again because it’s more relevant than my bachelor’s degree, and I feel horrible that all the work and money I pored into it might have been for nothing, but then I remove it since it repels any interest.

      Though all my jobs have required skills in a, b and c, the jobs themselves don’t make any sort of coherent career path and they haven’t been good experiences. I haven’t been able to accomplish anything, haven’t gotten promotions, haven’t gained any valuable knowledge or skills. I feel like fresh college grads are more desirable than me because they have potential, while I just have a track record of sucking.

      In high school and college, teachers told me I’d do great in the working world. I really was good at school, but I feel like a failure now.

      1. Courageous cat

        31 as well, and also started working full-time 8 years ago – I don’t think that’s job hopping at all. An average stay of 2 years at each job (with I’m sure at least one job being more than that) seems fairly normal at this stage, *especially* with layoffs out of your control.

        I wouldn’t worry about it. I have 4 jobs on my resume too (though I’ve technically had more) and it’s never been an issue.

    7. Princess Furball

      I don’t know how many times this has happened. If it’s just a few I wouldn’t worry about it. Hiring is weird. Otherwise I have 2 thoughts:
      1) Are your salary expectations in line with the position? If you’re looking for a salary that reflects 10 years of work experience, but you really have 5 in the industry and the employer is willing to settle for 3, there might be a disconnect.
      2) One idea might be to remove irrelevant jobs from your resume and omit the year of graduation. Really focus your resume to be tailored to the job you’re applying for. If you’re asked I wouldn’t lie, but it’s common to leave off early/irrelevant jobs once you’ve built an established work history.
      3) Bonus thought: most people understand 2008 was a rough year for graduates. If you said to me as a hiring manager, “I graduated in 2008, which as you know was a tough time in the job market so I went to work as a Llama Wrangler. While it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing in Teapot Operations, my experience there helped me build project management skills (or improve my public speaking or whatever skill might be relevant) that I can bring to xyz (responsibilities in prospective role).”

      Good luck!

    8. Audiophile

      I’m also 32, majored in “communications” and when I graduated there were zero communications jobs. I bounced around a few different fields and fell into development in the nonprofit sector. I finally feel like I’m making some progress towards moving into the communications field and a real communications job.

      What helped in my case, was getting rid of all the non communications work history I had listed on my resume, even though that meant scrubbing a well known company from my resume.

      If your work history is more connected that may be a bit harder to do. I have received similar feedback in the past that my experience was too broad or unrelated to the role the company was looking to fill. I really started reviewing my resume more closely, took off jobs that from 2008-2015 (which ended up being 4 jobs, 3 of which were with the same employer). I think that cleared up some of the confusion and certainly stopped the feedback I was getting.

      Just some food for thought.

    9. k.k

      I’m 31 and seem to be stuck in a perpetual loop of entry level jobs. I had to take whatever I could get at first, and now that I know what field I want to be in I’m still expected to “start at the bottom” despite my 10 years of work experience. I wouldn’t mind doing the grunt work for experience, but I have a mortgage and can’t afford the grunt work pay. In interviews I do a good job of explaining how my 10 years of seemingly unrelated jobs have transferable skills, but I have a hard time getting in the door. I try using my cover letter to explain, but I feel like they take one look at my resume, don’t see the job titles they recognize, and that’s it.

      1. Older Millennials Commiseration Thread

        ” I had to take whatever I could get at first, and now that I know what field I want to be in I’m still expected to ‘start at the bottom’ despite my 10 years of work experience.” Ugh, YES! I’m in nonprofit and it seems particularly bad. You’d think that transitioning from say, homeless services to affordable housing is as big a shift as brain surgery to race-car driving.

      2. General Ginger

        I have no good advice for you, but wow, the “perpetual loop of entry level jobs” thing is extremely relatable.

    10. OhGee

      I’m 37, have been trying to leave my Toxic Job for the past year (I’ve been here nearly 4), and the last few jobs for which I’ve been a finalist but not The One have gone to either: a man under age 25 or an extremely accomplished woman over 50 (both of those were fundraising jobs for slightly different types of organizations, but I was a finalist for both). I absolutely do not understand the job market at all! All I can say is keep looking. “Overqualified” is a tough comment, but one you might be able to overcome by addressing it in a subtle way during interviews (or in your cover letter).

    11. BuffaLove

      I feel ya. I’m 28 and feeling pretty stable at this point, but a tiny part of me resents our more recent hires who were able to land great positions more or less right after graduation. I have another coworker who graduated college in 2008 and was underemployed for years and years until we hired her about a year and a half ago. I’ll echo some of the other comments and say that for her, things clicked because she was able to frame her years of lower-level, hands-on work as time spent learning the ins and outs of the business and figuring out that she wanted to be on the other side of the table, so to speak. Her soft skills are fantastic, and I know she really impressed everyone that she interviewed with.

      1. Older Millennials Commiseration Thread

        I know it’s not their fault but I definitely resent them too.

    12. Luna

      Ugh, I feel you. I graduated in 2006 so did get some work experience in before the recession hit- but, along with others my age, was part of the first round of layoffs in 2008. I was unemployed for a while, then finally got an offer and jumped on it. Ended up sucking, so I quit after a year and starting temping while I job searched. I got really lucky and landed in a great temp-to-perm job and ended up working at that company for 6 years. But once I was ready to move on it was near impossible to find another job. I spend the last 3 of the 6 years I worked there applying for other jobs, and was always told I was either overqualified, or they didn’t know what to make of my first 2-3 years of work experience because it didn’t fit neatly into a box. At one of the jobs I interviewed at I was meeting with an employee who was probably 23 or 24 years old (it was one of those places where I had to interview with every single person on the team) and she asked me why I had been at my job for so long- it REALLY pissed me off because I had only been there 5 years and had been promoted halfway through, so it’s not like I had no growth to show for my time there. Also, I liked that job! When I explained that I stayed because I liked the job, the people, and felt like I was still learning new things until recently she seemed so confused- as if the idea of staying at a job because you liked it was a totally foreign concept to her. I wanted to scream at her “because it was nice to finally have a few years of stability after years of dealing with layoffs, recessions, unemployment, and crappy under-employment!!” Ugh.

    13. Alli525

      You know, Some Dude on Some Comment Board a couple weeks ago started trying to mansplain why people in 2008 didn’t have it as bad as 2009 or 2010. I told him to sit down unless he graduated in 2008 (lol he was at least 20 years older than us).

      I too changed careers a lot, and ended up moving 800 miles away from home in the hopes that I could keep my head above water by temping until I found something permanent. The CEO at the job I took in 2012 looked at my resume and flat out asked me, “Do you even WANT a career, with all this hopping around you’ve done?” I’m glad he (and his favorite employee, my supervisor) took a chance on me because I was there for 4 years, worked my way up, and was the example most of the senior execs pointed to when they needed their admin to do something that I’d mastered previously. In the job I took after that one (my current job), I found out that my main competition for the job was, yes, about 5 years younger than me, but apparently my experience won out. You haven’t found the right match yet, that’s all.

      I don’t have a ton of advice, really, since you said you’ve already found your common thread… from here on out it just boils down to being convincing in your interviews that you know what your skills are and you know how those skills can benefit the interviewer.

      1. Older Millennials Commiseration Thread

        Ugh at both the 2009 vs 2008 comment and the CEO’s question! I’m glad that you’ve found a niche though.

    14. LuJessMin

      I’m a baby boomer, and I agree with you! I have 25+ years experience in oil and gas, have always received excellent or superiors, and was laid off through no fault of my own (as far as I know). But…I don’t have a college degree. And I’m 60. So why hire me when they can hire someone fresh out of college and pay them half of what I was making. Oh, well, I’m liking retirement better anyway.

    15. kab

      In 2008 (I was 23), I had already not graduated from college, and was working at a Chick Fil-A. That year, I started working as a legal assistant. I was able to use that experience to get a job at an e-discovery firm. It was a backwards step that was problematic for a couple of years, but now I’ve been here for 7 years and am in management, with a decent career trajectory and decent pay.

      1. Marion the Librarian

        I can relate to this thread so much! Graduated in 2008. After a year and half of cobbling together part-time work, I went into grad school in 2011. Came out the other side with no openings in my area (archiving), so I moved back into non-profit work, which I had experience from my time between undergrad and grad. I loved the work but got burnt out and after 3.5 years, moved across the country and landed a job using my MA in an archive. I’ve been at my current job for 2 years but finding I need more social interaction, so I’ve been casually looking at non-profit jobs again. Had a few interviews but they are all for entry-level positions and it bums me out because the work is not the challenge I’m looking for. I’m pretty good at tailoring my resume and cover letter, but I’ve had two instances in the past month where I applied for the higher level position (post-entry level development) and they want to interview me for the entry-level position. I might stay put at my current job for a little longer since there are some big changes. But I’m glad to know others have struggled with this when job hunting.

    16. Older Millennials Commiseration Thread

      I had been contemplating this for a while, but I finally decided to shave some years off my resume/age. I went to grad school after the economy crashed, in the same city I went to undergrad in. I had internships while in grad school. I removed my graduate school from my resume (it’s an academic degree and thus “useless” even though I’m an analyst everything I learned about analyzing things I learned there… anyway) and removed my graduation year from undergrad. So combined with the internship dates, it effectively looks like I graduated 5 years later than I did without removing too much experience.

      1. voluptuousfire

        I thought about doing that, but it would leave off the last job I had any stability at. Overall I can relate to this thread, despite being a very late GenXer.

    17. Lindsay J

      Commiseration here.

      It’s been a good year when I’ve only had one job.

      I’ve had three distinct “career paths”.

      Only in the last couple years have I made enough to sustain myself. And I still feel like I’m waiting for the other foot to drop – like somehow I don’t deserve this and it’s g0ing to suddenly be taken away from me and I’ll have to go back to doing retail for $8 an hour again.

      Coming up with a cohesive sort of narrative for your jobs helps. Mine is that I found that I liked doing “behind the scenes” work, where, my assistance to internal customers helps them to help our actual customers. And that I like working in an industry where we’re working to make a special day in someone’s life even more special.

      The narrative makes a disparate mess of jobs make more sense, and makes it seem like maybe I planned this (even though I definitely did not. I just sort of fell into my current industry).

      I feel like there are a couple people I graduated with that are super successful, and the rest of us barely have careers at all. (Or other trappings of adult life like homes, children, reliable cars, etc).

    18. AngelicGamer the Visually Impaired Peep

      Let’s see… graduated in 2008. After a few months of searching, I took a retail job (Borders) because I felt I needed to and I wanted some time between school and grad school. Worked that for 2 years, tried finding more work and couldn’t, along with my hours being shafted to two 8 hour days on the weekend when I was a full time employee. So I took a volunteer to possible paid job. That didn’t turn out because of the fact that I refuse to go to church as I am not religious – it was a job on the campaign of then Senator Obama. Did that until election day, started looking for work again. Couldn’t even get my foot in the door because all admin jobs that I could get a phone screen for wanted someone who would admin / personal assistant so you had to be able to drive. Or it was a bait and switch where they really wanted you to sell insurance. Gave up after a solid 3 years of looking, became a full time caretaker to my grandmother until she died five years ago, and am on SS / SSDI due to the rules for blind people. Now I’m trying to get published and that’s going to happen, damnit. Even if I have to self publish.

      However, I’m now trying to get a job again because I feel like a miserable flake mooch on my mom. I know I’m not. I pay rent, I do everything around the house, but the feelings are still there. I really don’t want to go back into retail at all. I’d love to do admin work but people want experience that I don’t have. Also, my retail job went out of business, so I have no references other than friends who have worked with me. Joy. Sorry for the rant/ dumping things out.

    19. Triple Anon

      I have the same problem. I’m slightly older than Millennial, but my experience is all over the place and my resume looks flaky. So I’ve worked on making a good impression in person. When I have time to network, it really pays off. When I don’t have time, woe is me. That’s where I am right now, but I keep feeling like things will turn around and get better.

    20. Jane

      I graduated in 2012, and have found it so hard to find a job period. I’m considered over qualified for a lot of jobs because of my degree, and have worked with two different employment agencies to find work – One did find me a job running a puppy day care (I had previous volunteer experience with animals), but that crashed and burned pretty quickly, then I tried running my own dog walking business but that didn’t really take off either and I realised I didn’t really want to work with animals even though I love them. Since then I’ve done tons of volunteer work, and was encouraged/pushed into doing post grad studies to try and work in a library (sadly that field in my country seems to be shedding jobs like crazy so there’s nothing going). Now I’m just depressed about the lack of employment. I know my patchy work history is affecting how I look and I have a disability as well which doesn’t help things. Sorry I’m just being a bummer here.

    21. I prefer the term “X-ennial”

      I graduated in 2007 with a degree in Biology and an emphasis in Wildlife Ecology but at 26 (it took me a while – and a two year ‘break’ from school to find my path). This is a career that requires a lot of specialization: darting deer is different from rocket netting ducks is different from kayaking for otter scat (poop). When I graduated, it was all about “seasonal jobs for the experience until you land a job with the state/Feds”. But most seasonal jobs require 3-5 years experience… that you are suposed to get through volunteering. It is no surprise that this field lacks diversity- it is heavily dominated by Boomer-WASPs.
      We were sung to bed at night with lullabies of these Boomers retiring and jobs abounding (I look back and eyeroll at the naïvety of this). Instead… when jobs are left for retirement, they are often eliminated. And with the current US administration, well….
      After graduation I took a fisheries job in Alaska for six months and then jumped into Grad School.
      I have been fortunate that I found my state gig (six and a half years!), but it took working three jobs at once and eight years of seasonal work. Constantly being on the job hunt is STRESSFUL! But a lot of the jobs are 6wks to 6 months and you might not find that out until after the position starts and funding gets cut!
      Meanwhile, colleges that offer Wildlife Biology degrees keep pumping graduates out of their impacted programs and there is simply no space for them.
      So yes, I feel ya!

    22. Millennial Woes

      Joining in the millennial commiseration!
      I had a part-time office job toward the end of college and by the time I graduated there was just no paid work to be found so I stayed with the office and eventually became the office manager right after I graduated due to more senior people leaving the company.

      I tried to find work in my field of study so I could leave the office but there just wasn’t anything there. I think I found two interviews for actual jobs (didn’t get them) and everything else was unpaid internships. And then the company where I was an office manager ended up folding like four months later due to the economy.

      I tried to grab freelance jobs related to my field of study to show that I was still committed, but those were slow coming and I still needed to like… eat… and buy toilet paper… I ended up losing my apartment and staying with friends. By that point I had given up and just took whatever I could find. For three years I worked retail, as a farm hand, I was a substitute teacher for 6 months, worked at summer camps, anything to make a buck. I tried to stick to teaching but that’s not where my degree was and there was no way I could afford to go back to school.

      Once the economy started to recover the only thing I had to fall back on was my office experience, because that was the last solid job I held. I never ended up getting into my field of study and now I’m working admin in finance. My employer even paid for me to take an intro college course to better understand the field, which I’m grateful for, but this isn’t what I wanted to do with my life.

      I’m stuck and I feel like there’s no recovering from it because I can’t change my work history, and if I take out everything that was short-term or unrelated to my field than I have zero work experience….

  8. sheila_cpa

    I could use some help letting go! Today is my last day at my job. I’ve trained my replacement to the best of my ability, I’ve left a bunch of notes, the necessary people (and only those people *g*) have my contact info…but I woke up at 3:30 this morning worrying about what I’d missed or not addressed well enough, and what mistakes of mine might come up and make me look bad after I leave, making life harder for my replacement and affecting my references. How do I stop worrying and love my non-employment?

    1. Namast'ay in Bed

      Congrats on leaving! It sounds like you’ve done what you can and then some. There’s always going to be a bit of a transition period, but life will go on. It’s sweet that you’re so concerned about your replacement, but after today that is literally not your job.

      Imagine if you got hit by a bus instead of quitting. Not to doubt your importance or skills, but the company would find a way to survive without you – the fact that you’ve trained a replacement and left notes, and even allowed for the option of people to contact you with questions means that they are left in a very good place.

      Now get through today and walk out without a care in the world, you’ve earned it! Congrats again and good luck with what’s next for you!

      1. Opting for the Sidelines

        Yep. Came here to say the same thing.

        Leaving is hard. It does cause anxiety. You are leaving something that you know and know well for a future that is full of unknown! Alison wrote a great post on the anxiety of quitting back in May. It was more about the anxiety of giving notice but I think some of the advice may resonate. Just search “quitting” here at AAM and it will pop up.

        BTW, by tomorrow morning, once you have physically left, I think you will feel a lot, a lot differently. This is what everyone was telling me (I just left my old job a few weeks ago) and they were very, very right.

    2. Sarah Peterson

      You’ve done so much more than most people do and that is a credit to you. When I left my last job, I reminded them they could now blame me for everything that went wrong for at least a year or until they hired a new person to blame. I’m sure they are thrilled with all the training and documentation they did and happy for you that you are on to a new phase in your life, so please enjoy it!

    3. Girl from the North Country

      Well, you said that the necessary people have your contact info, so trust that if something was horribly wrong (the type of thing you worry would affect your references), they would reach out to you and ask for your help. Honestly, the fact that you even left your contact info behind puts you in good standing with them already. Not to mention that you seem to have put in a lot of effort into ensuring a smooth transition, which is really all an employer can ask for when someone leaves. Sounds like you’re all good to me!! ENJOY YOUR FREEDOM!!

    4. BadWolf

      For someone who’s willing/good at actually reading directions — you’ve probably provided more than average. Good job!

      For someone who needs their hand held, no amount of documentation is going to help them. So you did what you could.

      1. Mockingjay

        For someone who needs their hand held, no amount of documentation is going to help them.

        I am putting this on a plaque.

    5. AdminX2

      Are you putting any energy yet into planning this new time and new adventure? If all you’re doing is focusing on this, then it makes sense this is happening.

      Second, if they really need something, it’s not problem- they just hire you as a consultant for $150 an hour.

    6. KR

      I think it helps to know that you will probably forget something and there will probably be a point where your replacement might curse under their breath about something you did or didn’t do but that is inevitable and you did the best you could. You can’t go back now.

    7. Courageous cat

      That’s always my biggest fear when leaving a job, is that they will find out I did something wrong at some point and will hate me forever and never talk to me or give me a reference again.

      This has never happened, even once when a former boss *did* find out something very wrong I did – and we’re still friends! One way to mitigate that feeling is to just keep in touch occasionally with former bosses/coworkers/etc and ask them how everything is going and so on. It will take any guessing out of it.

  9. Washi

    This seems like something that might have come up before, but isn’t jumping out from the archives: what is a write-up? I’ve never worked anywhere that used them, but I keep seeing them mentioned here. When does one get a write up? What is written and where does it go? Are there usually other consequences, or is it like getting sent to the principal’s office, where the main consequence is embarrassment and the feeling of “getting in trouble”?

    1. BlueWolf

      I’ve never had one, and I’m sure it varies by company (if they actually use them), but my understanding is that it’s basically a written warning that goes in your employment file and if you get a certain number that it can lead to consequences such as suspension, termination, etc.

    2. Murphy

      My understanding is that it’s formal documentation of an issue/behavior. It can be a precursor to letting someone go. (Not that everyone who gets a write-up will be let go, but that it can be used to demonstrate a recurring issue when letting someone go.)

      1. strawberries and raspberries

        Yeah, at my org you get written up for the first time after a persistent pattern of whatever the poor behavior is (and have probably received many verbal warnings). The write-up contains a short “how we’re going to address this problem” and offers a chance for a second and then a final write-up before it moves to a corrective action plan. Usually one write-up is enough to stop the problem before it escalates to corrective action plan.

      2. Former Retail Manager

        Correct. How many write-ups, what they’re for, and how frequently they’re doled out really depends on your industry. In retail, they were utilized as documentation to begin the process of letting someone go when all efforts to correct an issue with them verbally and via “coaching” (God I hate that word) had been unsuccessful. My mother used to work for a company in which all supervisors were required to write you up for even minor infractions…..3 write-ups = termination. More than 3 days off work without a doctors note = write-up / More than 5 mins late returning from break or lunch = write-up. It really depends. Most jobs I’ve seen/know of that use them, tend to be lower-paying, hourly jobs that require butts in seats. Write-ups at a professional job is usually a wake-up call to get it together ASAP or start looking elsewhere. If you’re getting a write-up in a professional environment, you are probably on someone’s radar.

      3. Existentialista

        At my employer, it’s used as the second step of a disciplinary process. If there’s a performance issue or behavior that needs to be addressed, the warnings go from “verbal” to “written” to “final”, followed by termination.

    3. CAA

      It’s a letter or form that’s put in your personnel file. Sometimes the employee has to sign it, sometimes they don’t. Some companies have a policy of firing after a certain number of writeups. Sometimes it’s just there to be a record that future managers or HR can refer to so that they know whether what they’re seeing is a pattern or not.

    4. Hellanon

      In my company, a “write up” is documentation for the employee’s file that you-the-supervisor have had a conversation concerning an area of performance. For example, I included a mention about her work quality needing to improve in my assistant’s first review; two months later, no improvement had happened despite frequent (informal but pointed) conversations, so I put her on a PIP. The documentation for that included the issue and the plan, and a timeline, and she was asked to sign it as acknowledgement that the consequences could include termination if she couldn’t get it together. She couldn’t, and I terminated her employment at the end of the PIP. But having the documentation gave me a framework for working with her & allowed me to be sure termination was not a surprise, and allowed me to work with HR throughout the process to ensure that it was fair.

    5. NaoNao

      Generally they’re used in lower level jobs like retail or food service, or call centers. Occasionally you’ll see them in “office jobs” but not often, which might be why they’re not mentioned very much here.

      A “write up” is a formal written documentation of a negative event or pattern. It usually goes into a personnel file—either online or in a physical drawer/file somewhere.

      Generally, something like “Employee was 17 minutes late to work for their scheduled shift on Tuesday, March 04, 2009, after being told that any further tardiness would result in a write up. Employee acknowledges the tardy. Any further tardiness after this write up will result in a final warning, and could result in a termination.”

      As others have pointed out, it’s often the first step towards being fired, but occasionally people can turn it around. Sometimes it’s a “technical thing” like you the employee made a judgement call but management disagrees and you have to accept a write up.

      I got a written warning for losing my work laptop on a train (I left it behind in a moment of absent mindedness) and it’s considered a “Code of Conduct violation” since we’re expected to keep track of and protect company property.

      So it affected my review and bonus slightly, and for about a year afterwards I was extra careful not to make any other serious mistakes.

      Other than that, I haven’t had a “write up” in years!

  10. Promotion Limbo

    I started at my current employer a couple years ago. My role turned out to be significantly more expansive that what was described but I managed to exceed expectations. I was told by my manager, without asking, that she was working on a promotion and a raise. This would really only align my title and salary to the scope of my role. It’s been months now and I’ve tried asking for a timeline but I hear back soon or I asked Jane who said yes but now I need to ask Fergus.

    I would normally assume it’s not going to happen and I know that’s the best thing to do but my manager semi-frequently brings it up without me asking. I did eventually get a raise but the promotion means a lot to me. Would I be ok to ask (professionally) what the hold up is? Again, I know I should just move on mentally but I get very worked up about this and due to a variety of reasons will be stuck at this job for awhile.

    Thank you in advance for your help!

    1. Jessi

      I think so?

      Next time your manager brings it up say something like “hey you’ve been mentioning this promotion for x months/ weeks now. I am really keen/ interested in getting this. Do you have any idea what the timeline is for this?”

      1. Promotion Limbo

        That’s how I’ve handled things and I hear back something like “soon.” I want to ask something more along the lines of what’s the hold up or even is there something I’m not getting. I seem to have lost the ability to ask those questions with professional wording though.

        1. Lora

          Heh, this is like when someone asks me “how much Material X do we need for Process Y” and I stare at them blankly for a minute and then say, “uh, a buttload?” because I do not have literally every chemical process in the entire world memorized. Eventually my boss, who sits next to me, asked if “a buttload” is actually just five. It doesn’t matter five what (teaspoons, kg, L, metric tons), it’s five.

          How much do you need? Five.
          When will the thing arrive? Soon.

        2. Alli525

          “Can you provide a little more clarity on the timeline? I’m working on my budget for next year/trying to plan a vacation/want to adopt a dog and it would be very helpful to have as much information as I can.” Or something along those lines – just a gentle reminder that life decisions can’t be put on hold indefinitely.

        3. Existentialista

          I would also add “Is there anything I can put together to help you make the case?”
          Headcount and salary level decisions are often made by HR or at levels way above one’s manager, so they might need some more support and documentation to convince the powers that be.

    2. AdminX2

      I know this exact Q is in the AMA archives so do look. It may help to write down exactly what your expectations are and have them compared to your hired expectations. Next one on one or review period, ask to go through them and where they think your career progression should go. Reiterate you love what you do but know it’s time to re-label the role to better align with its activities.

    3. Justme, The OG

      Promotion limbo fistbump! My boss did the same thing. I know where mine is in the process, I work in academia (state university) so there are a million hoops to jump through. It doesn’t make it any easier, though.

    4. Jerry Vandesic

      They have already indicated that your promotion is not a priority for them. Maybe not in so many words, but you need to listen to what they are saying by their actions. Take this as valuable feedback about how they value you, and use it as motivation to look around for a new job. Find a job with the salary and title you are looking for, and move on.

      1. GM

        Exactly! I’m in the same situation and couldn’t agree more. THey’ve asked me to wait, which I’m willing to for a max of 6 months, then I’m going to start searching seriously. Right now its just a half-hearted effort (both at work and at the job-search!)

  11. Anon for This

    This is just venting more than anything, but we have this customer at work who smells really bad. Like really, really bad. She comes in at least twice a week, and her visits are never short. She isn’t one to just do what she needs to do and leave. I get the feeling that she doesn’t have a lot of friends or people in her life, and she likes to visit everyone, telling us all about what’s new in her life. Currently, she is sitting outside my office chatting with another employee about her week, and the smell is overbearing. I think I might go camp out in the bathroom for a little bit just to get away from the smell.

    1. SallyF

      I can definitely commiserate!
      When I worked in a bank there was a customer who always smelled like a combination of mildew and old, stale fried onions. To top it off, she liked to stand at the counter, lingering, long after the transaction was complete, and talk about Jesus and how I (or any teller assisting her) needed saving.

      1. Anon for This

        Definitely body odor and maybe lack of bathing? Oddly enough, I like the smell of patchouli. Lol.

        1. Anonymosity

          I do too, but it’s not a substitute for a shower. I’m looking at you, random hippie-ish person I had to stand behind in line, one day long ago. >_<

    2. TGIF!

      I worked as an optician for several years a while back, there was one time when an older lady came in and as a coworker was helping her they noticed that there were ants…..falling out of her hair…. onto the work counter.

        1. Daphne

          Yep, my jaw has silently fallen to the floor. And I work retail so have seen my fair share of the “great unwashed”.

    3. Chaordic One

      This brings back memories of two of my old high school business teachers. They were both in their 50s and seemed ancient to me then. They both wore a ton of perfume and you could smell them coming down the hallways, long before you ever saw either one of them. They both dressed well and looked clean, but I kind of wonder if maybe they didn’t bathe regularly and tried to cover it up with perfume. If so, it didn’t work, and I think it made things worse.

    4. Catalin

      Strongly recommend a Febreeze small rooms thingy, the type that sit on desks/bathroom sinks and continuously release. I have both a smelly smoker neighbor at work and a sensitivity to smells, this thing is a lifesaver.

      1. The Good Boss

        It sounds like you have a smelly situation to solve! I also have a sensitivity to smells and multiple sclerosis, and unfortunately Febreze literally makes me sick — disoriented, nauseous, and faint. There are some awesome alternatives which can be found by doing a Google search for: non-toxic air fresheners

    5. Annon too

      I trained to be a hairdresser. There was this mother and daughter, we used to call them the Duo. Who did not believe in bathing too much, but especially would not wash their hair. They only came to the beauty school to have their hair washed, every six weeks.
      They had a build up of crud on their scalp and hair. I would scrub with my nails until the teachers would make me stop. Honestly, I was trying to find their scalp. The crud resembled feta cheese. To this day, I can only eat a limited forkful of feta cheese.

    6. Zona the Great

      Oh no! I was in Target once in my early 20s and I guess a woman one aisle over had just vacated my aisle. Her perfume was that very iconic Old Lady Smell that is somehow still being produced. This woman had to have bathed in it. I loudly exclaimed, “oh my god, that is literally the worst perfume I have ever smelled!” and the woman actually came around the corner and confronted me telling me I was speaking about her and her perfume. I just said, “I’m sorry, I had no idea anyone was around though that odor is incredibly offensive to me” and she walked away. Oops!

    7. As Close As Breakfast

      I had once had a job for a government social services program. For a while I worked at the front desk checking in clients. The front desk and reception area were shared with another government social services program and the place was almost always hopping. For reasons (types of services, etc.) many MANY of the people who came in had hygiene issues. On more than one occasion, a body odor would be so bad I would be violently fighting off my gag reflex. I couldn’t leave the desk unattended under any circumstances so my options were limited. The only thing, seriously the ONLY thing, that worked for me was to keep a jar of Vicks VapoRub at my desk. If it got bad, I’d duck under my desk (so as not to offend any clients) and slather that stuff all over my upper lip and lower nose. Like, I’d rub some up into my nostrils sometimes. Infinitely better than throwing up at the desk. If someone asks about it because they notice the shiny, just say you’re a bit congested and it works great to open you up, worked for me!

  12. Lunch Meat

    If people comment on my clothes at work, is it tacky or unprofessional to tell them I got it from a thrift store?

    1. Higher Ed Database Dork

      No, I see nothing tacky or unprofessional about getting your clothes at a thrift store. Lots of people love thrifting and might find it interesting. Most people don’t care where clothes come from.

    2. Envy Adams

      I would say no! Although I am in the UK so cultural norms may be different here. Me and a colleague recently had a conversation about how both of our entire outfits came second hand from eBay, and how much we love shopping on there :)

    3. KL

      I hope not. I have a few coworkers that comment on what I wear and I usually say say it’s second hand. Granted, one of my coworkers like to comment on how many clothes I own and then how she can’t find clothes her size at consignment/poshmark/thredup/thrift. I just smile and go about my day.

      It’s also helped my find fellow thrifters at work. To me, thrifting a fun topic and it’s a good way to get to know some of the other people I spend so much time with everyday.

    4. fromscratch

      I’m always rather proud of my thrift store finds! Especially if they are garnering comments.

    5. Susan Sto Helit

      Sustainable clothing is increasingly a thing (check out TRAID in the UK, for example) so no, not in the least. You can find some really cool clothing in thrift stores.

    6. SallyF

      No way, thrifting is pretty mainstream.
      I was going to link to Maclemore’s Thrift Shop video but then I realized that might offend some people. :-)

    7. pleaset

      Depends on the culture. My partner is from China and grew up quite poor.

      And she finds the concept of used clothes quite strange – to her new is always better. Talking about buying in a thrift store is not something she thinks would be good. If you were confessing it to a friend “I got a deal, can you believe how nice this is” she might think it’s OK. But otherwise, for someone making OK money the perception would be “WTF”? I don’t think she’s alone in this perception.

      1. Triplestep

        Yup, this.

        Where I live (small city) I would hear “cool!” Where I work (small town) I’d be met with a sneer and a stare and the person thinking “yuck” and “why?”

      2. Lora

        Yeah, this. I like to mess with people who are all about the fashion though: I get a LOT of hand-me-downs from more fashionable friends.

        It’s definitely the cool thing to do in the city.

    8. twig

      I say no! I’m always proud of the deals I get (I found these shoes for $5 at AwesomeStore!)

      I will say that at one point I worked at a high end housing development (the “cheap” houses in the development were $300k)– my coworkers would look at me weird/not respond with enthusiasm when I’d tell them what a deal I got on something. I did not fit in well there socially — but I was there for 4 years and one of the last to get laid off when the housing bubble burst.

      All that to say — it’s not tacky or unprofessional at all.

    9. LKW

      When it comes to this question there are two types of people: Those who tell you how much they spent and those who tell you how little they spent. If you are the latter group and tell someone in the former group, they will see it as tacky. If you tell someone in the latter group they will want to know your secrets and they will tell you the great bargains they got as well.

      You just need to know your audience.

    10. PizzaDog

      No way!

      In my experience, when the answer to ‘where’d you get that?’ is a thrift store or even TJ Maxx, the answer to that is ‘oh, I wish I had the patience to find something that nice there.’

    11. samiratou

      Definitely not. At least in MN, where it’s a badge of honor to announce how “lowly” the origins are of the garment you’ve been complimented on.

      Particularly if it’s a nicer brand–then you pretty much have to mention that you got it on sale or at a thrift store (assuming you did, of course).

    12. Former Retail Manager

      I think it depends on your workplace culture. If it’s a law firm, bank, or other super conservative place, I might just say “thanks.” Or maybe add that you got a great deal on it. If you work someplace more creative/less judgmental, then I’d totally tell them it’s one of your awesome thrift finds. I personally enjoy thrifting even though I never find much. I’d love some good store recommendations from a co-worker.

    13. Chaordic One

      It kind of depends on who you are dealing with. Personally, if you were to have told me this, you would have my admiration because I (and many others) think that finding nice clothes at a thrift store is a sign of industriousness and virtuous thrift. (Saying you bought them at a thrift store is kind of a “humble brag,” but not a particularly bad thing.)

      However, every once in a while, you’ll run into a certain kind of snob who will look down on you because you buy your clothes at thrift stores (or discount stores like Target and Walmart). If I know that a certain person is a snob, I don’t say anything. Or if I don’t know the person well enough to know what they might be thinking, I would also not say anything.

    14. Jennifer Thneed

      It is tacky to respond to “I like your shirt” with “Thanks, I got it at Department Store”? If that’s okay, then mentioning the thrift store *should* be fine. But we all know some people have Opinions.

      For me, I save the “where I got it” for people actually asking where I got something. Maybe I’m odd that way? I like to just accept a compliment with “Thank you!” and leave it at that unless asked further.

      1. EditGirl

        I agree on saving the info on where you got it for people who ask. A lot of people probably just don’t care.

    15. Bea

      Not at all. They like your style and if they suddenly judge that you’re good at scoring them second hand, they’re dumb. Nothing wrong with thrifting when you’re looking good!

    16. Urdnot Bakara

      If you’re worried about how “thrift store” might come across (which sucks but I get it), maybe you could say you bought them secondhand?

    17. Delta Delta

      In my geographic area, people generally love the thrift stores. The managers of the thrift stores around my area are pretty picky about what they put out for sale, so people know if they go there they’re going to get things in decent condition. It’s very common for people to say something like, “like this jacket? Got it for $6 at ThriftyWorld!” This usually gets high-fives.

    18. rosie

      I am a big Poshmark fiend and love to show off my finds (I just bought a pair of Everlane heels from there for 30% off and I am SO PUMPED) but I do agree it may depend on the industry. You could always say you bought it on vacation or from “a boutique”!

    19. nep

      If people ask where an item of clothing is from (and sometimes even when they just compliment it without asking), yes, I’ll say it’s from a thrift store, including–usually the case for me–thredUP.

    20. Kuododi

      I don’t see why it should be a problem. I don’t shop at thrift stores personally but it’s not bc Ive got a beef with the concept. I just haven’t found a thrift store in my area which caters to my size. (Petite length, plus size). I am a power shopper otherwise and am happy to tell anyone who expressed an interest in what I’m wearing where I found the latest sale. If someone else wants to get their boxers in a bunch bc I mentioned a good sale then it’s their problem not mine.

  13. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

    Quick note on the current case: met with my attorney. I cannot say anything about the case. Let my last words on it be: my plan is kick ass, take names and bury the bodies. I have the number one employment attorney in Florida handling this for me. I will NOT go down without a righteous fight. These jerks are going to pay for their ignorance.

    In the July 4th open thread, someone expressed an interest in hearing about how I learned to go scorched earth. That happened back on ’08, when I was approached by the FTC for assistance taking down my employer. Here is that nasty tale. (Sorry for the length!)
    *******************************************
    In 2008, I worked for about 2 months for a mortgage mitigation company. They would step in and help out with your mortgage company if you were behind in payments. They’d get it so you could keep your home with modified payments for a period of time. They charged upwards of $1,000 for this service. The service they provided was a service the homeowner could have undertaken for themselves, had they known. I was hired to be the Executive Assistant to one of the presidents of the company. A fat, sweaty guy who always smelled bad. But I was paid well.

    Day in and day out I handled calls from consumers who were losing their homes. “Your company said you’d save my home and I’m standing on the courthouse steps watching them auction my home!” I don’t remember how many calls like that I handled. I started pressuring the president “Look, you can’t avoid these calls. You need to handle this situation!” And he would do nothing.

    One Monday, and I no longer recall how this came up, he and I were talking and I revealed that I had been LAPD for 5 years right out of college. The next day I was fired. (Interesting, huh?).

    This is where it gets kind of scary. On Wednesday, I received a call on my (listed in my mom’s name) cell phone. It was an attorney with the FTC. She identified herself and stated she knew I was the Executive Assistant to the president. She told me the FTC was investigating my employer and I had a choice to make. If I chose to continue to have my employer’s back (which I really never did), they would add me to the list. It would not end well for me. Or, if I chose to cooperate with the FTC, my life wouldn’t change at all and I’d be doing the right thing. I informed her that I had been fired the day before and asked if there was some paper I needed to sign to cooperate? If so send it along, and I’ll FedEx it back to you. (What was kind of scary was how they found me….my cell phone is listed in my parents’ name and—at the time—wasn’t associated with my name anywhere so how in the world did they find me? Yeah, it’s the government. If they want to find you, they will.)

    That was Wednesday, on Thursday my boyfriend (who also worked there, in sales) came home announcing that he, too, had been fired. He called the FTC and was added to their witness list. On Friday, my best friend (who also worked there) and the office manager for the company were fired (because we were all friends…..). I gave them both the number for the attorney for the FTC. We all became cooperating witnesses and retained an attorney to protect our interests. He mostly sat around and played the guitar in the corner while we chatted with the FTC’s attorneys.

    The FTC kept us in the loop as to what was going on. The following week, they told us they were going to be going in and closing the company down. They told us the day ahead of time. So we took our lawn chairs and parked them in the parking lot and watched the Department of Justice, FTC and Bureau of ATF swoop in, take every stick of everything out of that office (even the pictures off the walls and the plants that were leased from some company!), escorted our former coworkers out after searching their bags, etc., then we saw the president come out. In handcuffs. He was taken away and everyone else was allowed to leave on their own.

    I didn’t know at the time that they had coordinated this and had taken down the other four “presidents” of the company at the same exact time. It was a massive take down. Coordinated closure of five offices in four different states.

    These jokers had cost thousands of people millions of dollars in home losses. They made promises they never intended to keep. People lost their homes and I felt guilty about it.

    So all four of us cooperated with the FTC. Our attorney stayed in touch and told us when they were doing things like calling in the Department of Labor, IRS (we were all 1099 employees), any and every federal agency that might have any interest in anything this company was doing. At one point, we were under police guard for four days when the FTC ran into a dead end tracing some of the capital. All four of us in my little two bedroom duplex for four days. We drank a lot. Police escorts to the market, gas station, you name it. My landlord threatened to evict me.

    The whole thing ended two years later with them pleading out. The FTC won because of course they did. For my direct boss, the Federal Court’s sentencing document was 84 pages long and he was fined $14.8 million. I read every page of the sentencing document. It is so strict and is lifetime (kinda like probation, I guess). Basically, he has to account for every penny of income, they will check on him and if he has any new big expenditures he’d better be able to provide proof of its providence. If he ever basically utters the word “mortgage” again in his life, he will go to jail (probably not literally, but it was written so strictly that it seemed to me if he was discussing mortgage terms over the back fence with his neighbor he would get in trouble). I checked the court documents about a month ago and they are all still paying off their fines. I think the total in fines for all five presidents was around $85 million.
    *******************************************
    I do want to note here…….this case gave me the basic knowledge. It is only by reading this wonderful blog (love ya, Alison!) and participating in the legaladvice subreddit that I have gleaned as much knowledge as I have. It is only through the contributions of each of you that I know what my rights are and y’all get my curiosity piqued. You drive me to do more research and really learn what can and can’t happen, and what to do when it all goes bad. If I didn’t know about the AAM community (and I’ve been reading for 3-4 years before posting) I just don’t know if I would have had the courage to follow this current one through. I’ve learned so much here. Knowing that I’m not the only person who gives a crap about ethics and compliance has made it easier for me to tackle this. So this is not just me, I am only the figurehead for this fight. You are all the warriors making this current fight possible for me. So I share this one with all of you…..

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        I promised I would and I always keep my promises! :)

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      I used to work in credit card servicing and dealt with a lot of shady companies like that one. This was such a satisfying read, thank you for sharing!

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        I hope you’ve seen the other threads with the rest of the story about my current issues!

        BTW, I’ve always loved your screen name!

    2. The Cosmic Avenger

      Wow! While I’m sorry for what you went through there and with the President at your last employer, I hope you can nail him and his wife to the wall as thoroughly as this former employer was taken down! I’m rooting for you!

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        Thanks, Cosmic! My goal is to take the current one down as the former one was taken down.

        It’s important to have goals in life.

    3. CatCat

      Dang. Sorry you went through all this (and are now having to repeat something similar!) Great storytelling though.

      I hope you’ll update us on the outcome of the current situation if/when you can in the future. I am sure everyone here is rooting for you!!!

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        I’ll do my best, Catcat! Y’all have been so supportive, I need to find some way to keep you folks in the loop!

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        Thank you. Visually it was very satisfying. I loved watching him get what he deserved.

    4. Detective Amy Santiago

      Sending good vibes for your current fight! I hope you’ll come back and update us once you’re able.

      Also, all I can say about that other story is…. daaaaaaaaaaamn.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        Thanks for the vibes! All the good karma/vibes/thoughts are welcome and appreciated!

        The employer in 08 was a skeezebag and he got what he deserved. Slimy bastige.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        Yeah, pretty much! :)

    5. Not So NewReader

      [Cues up marching bands and fireworks]

      Well done. The scope of the situation was so large, I can guess that your actions probably saved someone I care about or someone in their lives. And for that I thank you. May you receive back 100 fold of what you put out there.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        Thousands of people, all over the country. If that company affected the family of ANYONE on this blog, please please accept my deepest, heartfelt apologies. Not the whole company was corrupt. Some of us fought the good fight.

    6. periwinkle

      “So we took our lawn chairs and parked them in the parking lot”

      So. Utterly. Epic.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        It really was. And it’s not like they were the only tenants in the building. Alllll the other residents of the building were out there, watching.

        1. As Close As Breakfast

          In my head you guys are all wearing big sunglasses and giant sun hats and drinking beers. You have a stocked cooler and maybe some light snacks. And then there is a hardy cheer and much glass clinking when the president was brought out in handcuffs!

          And just maybe he noticed you guys and muttered something like “And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids!”

          1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

            You. I like you. When I write my book, I think I shall use the setting you have provided. Visually, it is quite appealing!

      2. Thursday Next

        My favorite part of the story.

        Good for you, and your fired friends, OP. We need people like all of you.

        1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

          We really messed with them. When the boss came out, in cuffs, he was just keeping his head down and not looking anywhere at anyone. I’m pretty sure he knew we were there though. :) It’s rare that I get the chance to really step up to the plate. I’m having fun!

          1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

            We clapped and whistled. We had tons of fun with it. My boyfriend wanted to do a picnic in the parking lot. Fried chicken, salads, wine/beer, etc. The feds said NO. So we satisfied ourselves with cigarettes and applause.

            1. Thursday Next

              There is a certain insouciance to cigarettes and applause, as compared to an all-out tailgate party. I like it.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        Actually, we wanted to take pics but couldn’t because of the federal agents. We satisfied ourselves with applauding and whistling.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        Gosh it would have to be published anonymously!

        1. Totally Minnie

          Change the names and a handful of details and have it published as fiction. :)

          1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

            Interesting thought. I like the way you think! Do you happen to have a newsletter I can subscribe to? :)

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        I’m just trying to do the right thing. Sometimes I feel like I’m fighting solo and then I come here and receive tons of awesome support.

    7. Middle School Teacher

      Holy crap. HOLY CRAP. That is amazing.

      (Also, what are the odds you ended up working for two places with compliance violations? That should be your new job. Get jobs with shady companies, get them shut down. Hero of The Working People should be on your business cards.)

      1. Birdbrain

        That should be your new job. Get jobs with shady companies, get them shut down. Hero of The Working People should be on your business cards.

        Yeah, this recap (and the previous post about the current situation) made me feel like I was reading a superhero’s origin story. Epic.

        1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

          I’m starting to feel like I am the origin of a superhero! Maybe I have finally found my calling: encouraging the little guy to stand up for themselves when they see something that is wrong. I wish more people had the courage and guts and strength to stand up for themselves. Me? I’m not gonna be pushed around.

      2. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        Surprisingly, here in Florida it seems to be more common than in other states. At the company in 08, I really didn’t know what was going on, just that I was getting too many phone calls from people who were losing their homes and my boss didn’t seem to care. I was completely shocked when the FTC called me.

        In the present case, I knew what they were doing was wrong (I’m older and wiser now and have the knowledge of this blog and the legaladvice subreddit). I tried for 2 1/2 months to get them in compliance but got push back every single time. I really really like my freedom and am not going down for anyone. Well, maybe my parents but that’s it.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        Thanks Anne! I really do appreciate the support.

    8. Jersey's mom

      YOU are the warrior who went to battle. We’re just the behind the line troops who give you and others like you the information and emotional support to carry on the good fight. Keep on!

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        Well, I’m fighting these fights for all of us and the support and encouragement from y’all means the world to me (especially since my parents are incredibly disappointed in me right now…..they’re way too old school to understand).

        1. Saskia

          Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome, I hope you are able to shake off your parents’ disappointment.

          You are heroic and your actions have saved people’s lives. Thank you.

          Your parents are trying to impose their own values system on you and that’s ludicrous & sad for them.

          If only more people in the world had the integrity and courage you have shown!

          1. TDestroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

            Thanks Saskia. It’s difficult with my parents. They’re all I’ve got–no boyfriend, and making friends is difficult for me–and I have to sort of mute this topic around them. I’m hoping for a somewhat significant settlement so I can kick them down some $$ and show them that it does pay to do the right thing, more more so than doing the wrong thing.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        You got that right! They went down in a blaze of glory (which was mine).

    9. Alli525

      I usually don’t read the open threads, but I was skimming through today, and your story above compelled me to sift through all the other recent OTs to read your full account. All I have to say is “WHOA” … and also that I hope you post all the details once you settle and your lawyer gives you the ok. It’s such a rollercoaster AND you’re very good at telling the story.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        Thanks Alli! I hope I can get the green light once this is all over to share everything that happens from yesterday forward. Most of the deets have been shared here, albeit scaled down significantly, but the basics are there–also the best parts are there. It was a rollercoaster: up down and all around “These are your duties; no they’re not; yes they are; no they’re not.” I swear Rod Serling was going to show up any time.

    10. Spice for this

      Thanks for the update.
      WOW! It is a great story. And good for you for caring about ethics and compliance.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        Thanks, Spice. This started out as a fight for my employee rights (keeping my duties) but turned into a compliance battle. The company thought, for me, it was all about my duties. It wasn’t. I used to be a police officer. I take the law very, very seriously and if I tell you you’re breaking the law, I feel it is incumbent on you to ascertain whether or not that is correct. These jokers just didn’t care. They thought they were above the law.

        They are learning differently.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        Your comment is enough of an upvote for me! :)

    11. Tabby Baltimore

      I realize that you probably won’t be there to see the feds cart all the business’ property out the door, followed by the president and his wife, but if I were observing this play out, I know I would personally find it very hard, *right* before the federal officer puts the president into the car, NOT to say “Oh, by the way, you know that hole in the sand you put your head in? The feds took that, too.” Your mission is clear, you cause is just. Good luck!

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        Oh that would be so Satisfying! I’m pretty sure, if he wasn’t handcuffed, he would try to hit me. He wanted to the other day but found some self control. Oh how I would love to do this. (Kinda like the movie Cadillac Man, at the end when Robin Williams finally tells Tom Robbins he didn’t sleep with his wife. “whaaaaaat!!?!?!”

        Thanks for the support. I’m truly very grateful.

  14. Super stressed

    I’m starting a new job in DC soon, and will be commuting via metro most of the time. I know a lot of people wear sneakers during their commute and change into more office appropriate shoes once they get in the office. I don’t actually know how the logistics of this work, though…Do people keep designated office shoes at their desk, or carry them in their bags? Do you change in the lobby, or in a bathroom, or at your desk?
    Should I NOT plan on wearing sneakers on my first day to avoid any awkwardness about the above?

    1. Bumblebee

      I have a privateish cubicle and change at my desk. If you opt not to do the sneakers thing, I do recommend flats for the metro though; navigating the sometimes narrow platforms and sometimes very tall escalators (depending on your lines/stops) in the middle of rush hour traffic is crazy stressful if you are new to the area and unfamiliar with your route. Adding heels on top of that would be terrible.

      1. BeenThere

        I still keep shoes in a desk drawer even though i drive to work now. I used to Metro in DC and couldn’t bring myself to wear tennis shoes, but I did wear cute and very walkable flats in and then changed at my desk in the morning. If you don’t have a designated desk or a locker where you can secure them, you can also carry an extra bag with your shoes. That’s what a lot of those people on the Metro are doing… laptop in one bag, wallet and shoes in another!

    2. Atlantic Toast Conference

      Every woman I know in DC has a stash of office shoes under her desk or in a drawer :) I always changed at my desk.

    3. Namast'ay in Bed

      I commute into the office in sneakers, and then I change into my work shoes at my desk. I tend to take my work shoes home with me every day (I commute with a backpack), but I’ve seen people in my office with PILES of shoes under their desks that they leave there full time.

      On my first day, before I knew where my desk was going to be or when they’d actually take me to it, I changed into my work shoes in the lobby.

      Good luck with the new job!

    4. BlueWolf

      I really only wear different shoes on my commute if it’s winter and I’m wearing boots. In that case, I’ll bring my work shoes and change at my desk. Mostly I just prefer to buy professional shoes that are comfortable enough for commuting (I really can’t wear heels at all). If you prefer to wear heels though then more power to you. Depending on the size of the office, I would say wear more comfortable shoes the first day because they may have you walking around touring the office and you may not even go to your desk the first day.

    5. Leena Wants Cake

      Your shoe changing and storage situation is going to depend on your office culture and logistical set-up. A few offices are stuffy enough that you’ll want to carry the shoes with you and change outside (on a park-bench or similar) before walking in. In most places I’m familiar with, folks change discreetly at their desks (keeping the extra shoes in a desk drawer). Currently my office is so casual that no one cares and I just wear my sneakers all day unless there is a special meeting. I would definitely recommend wearing nice shoes in on your first day (but carrying the sneakers with you) and watching for clues from your fellow employees.

    6. Zeitbombe

      On your first day, bring the work shoes in a bag and change in the lobby before you go in. Once you have a spot, keep a stash of work shoes at your desk. I walk or Metro into work and I have pants, shirts and shoes in drawers and under my desk for days I sweat through my clothes on the walk in :)

      1. BeenThere

        I got caught in a torrential downpour at lunch one day and I was very thankful for my full change of clothing stash in the office!!

    7. Damn it, Hardison!

      I change shoes at my desk when I arrive, and see others do the same. I generally bring my shoes for the day, but I do leave them as well (in a desk drawer). For your first day, where you might be in orientation all day or otherwise not really at your desk, I’d wear my work shoes to work instead of sneakers if you can. After the first day you should have a better idea what would be the easiest thing for you to do.

    8. Ali G

      When I metroed I had “commuting shoes” and “office shoes.” The office shoes lived at work in a drawer. My commuting shoes were ballet flats, rain boots, snow boots and sometimes flip flops.
      For your first day I would wear something you can easily put in your bag for your commute and change your shoes quickly in the lobby or bathroom before you head to your office. You really don’t want to be commuting in heels.

    9. CatCat

      I keep a couple pairs of heels stashed in my desk drawer at work and just change them at my desk when I get to work. If I have to work out of the office (and still take public transit), I wear black slacks, black trouser socks, and comfortable black loafers. Would that be an option your first day so you have comfortable shoes that are nicer than sneakers until you get the lay of the land?

    10. Happy Friday

      I also work in DC and commute in sneakers. I change at my desk where I have a large drawer dedicated to work shoes. I keep each pair in a cheap shoe bag so they don’t get scuffed in the drawer. I just change at my desk. I work in a fairly formal office, and everyone changes their shoes at their desk. Even if your commute doesn’t involve a ton of walking, your shoes will take a beating so it’s worth having dedicated commuting shoes.

    11. Falling Diphthong

      I would avoid sneakers on the first day since you can’t just walk to your new desk, change shoes, and then “start the day.” You might not even meet your new desk until midday if they start with HR and general orientation.

      Once you have obtained a desk, it’s normal to change there–either to the pair of shoes you keep in your bottom drawer, or to the pair you brought in your large bag, depending on your number of pairs of work shoes and fashion sense. (I think I just left a pair of flats in my bottom drawer.)

    12. AvonLady Barksdale

      I usually brought shoes in a tote bag and kept them in my office; after a while, you don’t need the space in your tote for the shoes. This was in NYC. One caveat, though: I once had a Monday morning presentation in Long Island, and as I was getting dressed, I realized that the shoes I wanted to wear were… in my office. From that point on, I kept a couple of pairs behind in my apartment, though I did switch out from time to time. I had a lot of shoes when I lived in New York.

    13. epi

      I do this sometimes.

      I keep a pair or two of shoes that go with almost anything (but that I don’t usually want to wear on the weekend) at my desk. Anything else, I bring with me that day. It’s a good idea to do this with any bulky or awkward shoes– like high heels or boots– that would be annoying to carry every day. If you plan to wear other shoes a certain day, just decide based on comfort/bulkiness/weather if you want to wear them for your commute or not. IME it’s generally fine to change shoes at your desk. Everyone will have to do it on rainy days and in the winter, so it won’t be some taboo grooming activity.

      I wouldn’t wear sneakers the first day. Wear your nicest flats or something. You never know what orientation type things could start immediately. Plus a lot of your shoe decisions will come down to the specifics of your commute: how long will you usually stand and wait? will you usually get a seat or have to stand on the train? You can’t know that yet so it’s better to be ready for anything.

    14. Former Retail Manager

      Once you get your desk, I’d keep a couple pairs in your desk and just wear sneakers or flats in every day. I drive, but I choose to drive in flip flops so as not to mess up my heels and I keep a couple pairs in my desk. If your new jobs dress code doesn’t require heels and you don’t feel they’re needed, I might try to wear dressy ankle pants and nice flats on the first day. Besides your commute, I’m sure there will be plenty of walking as they give you a tour/orientation, meet different people, get your cubicle set up, etc.

    15. Alli525

      I work in NYC… I usually wear Toms or boat shoes or sandals on the commute (I still cringe at the many 80s movies with women in nylons and white sneakers… not a good look) and change once I get in. When I worked in fashion I had the majority of my shoe collection at my desk, but now that I’ve left that industry, I just keep one or two pairs, and my purse/tote is large enough to accommodate a pair if I want something different.

      My office now, though, is casual enough that I usually just stay in the Toms or sandals.

      1. Triplestep

        The 1980 NYC Transit Strike gave birth to the “white tennis shoe + nylon” look, and it became the uniform for the rest of the 80s. (I was in high school at the time, and only had 15 blocks to walk to school, but my mother adopted this look.) It’s a look that is associated with the period just like big hair and shoulder pads, but today’s trend of changing shoes at work can be traced directly back this strike. It changed commuting habits for many people (men and women) and normalized changing shoes at work.

    16. Argh!

      I used to live in DC and kept a few pairs of shoes in the office. One lesson I learned the hard way: Don’t keep near-identical pumps that are 1/2-inch different in heel height. I wore one from each pair one day! Duh!

    17. Marley

      I don’t buy shoes to wear to work that I wouldn’t feel comfortable walking a mile in, basically. I don’t own heels.

      I realize some offices are so dressy that wouldn’t work, but this has worked for me at three different downtown DC non-profits.

    18. Violet

      Most people I knew who did this in New York kept the pair in their bag and changed at their desks. I do know a few people who kept one or two pairs at their desk.

    19. ManderGimlet

      I do this and do both: carry shoes with me and I have a few pair of slip ons I keep at my desk in case I wear uncomfortable heels or something like that. I just change at my desk, I work in a cubicle farm setting and most people’s cubes are their own little homes away from home. No one has ever said anything or made any indication that they cared.

  15. Amnada R.

    Removed. Please stop posting fake scenarios here and wasting people’s time. (This is from someone who has been doing this regularly.)

    1. Mediamaven

      Agreed with this. I hope this poor man gets some sort of counseling to help relieve him of feeling this responsibility but it seems that this is what he needs for right now. This is just a very sad story.

    2. Martine

      The employees paid by the hour and can only do work at their desks. There are plenty of jobs (like a call center or customer support) where leaving your desk means that the work falls to others because you aren’t there to do your share. The company and boss are not wrong for wanting the employees to work if they are on the clock and being paid. They aren’t penalized for using the bathroom and they get a lunch break so it’s not unreasonable to expect them to work the rest of the time. I can get where the OP is coming from. I would be upset if I was having to do extra work because my coworker left his desk when we aren’t supposed to do so.

      1. Wondering

        +1. I was thinking something along the line of a call centre when I read OP’s post.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago

      A very high percentage of couples who lose children under any circumstance end up divorcing so I’m not sure why you would side eye this coworker. It’s also perfectly reasonable that she would be charged with/convicted of negligence. Accidents are never intentional. That is why they are called accidents.

      1. Neuro Nerd

        There are several dozen similar deaths every year in the USA, and there is very little consistency about how they are handled from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

      2. Not So NewReader

        Yes, grief has some profound effects including divorce and life threatening health issues. There is a connection to some people’s early demise because of a loss of loved ones. I am not talking about just suicide, some people end up with serious heart problems and other issues. Additionally, one person’s passing can cause family members to end relationships with each other.
        In my own family, 4 parents each lost an adult child. With in two years of the adult child’s passing the 4 parents were dead. This is how powerful grief is. Likewise divorce is not unusual at all.

        I would not be surprised to find the forgetful parent telling the other parent, “I am not good enough for you. You need to go find someone who is.” So this is a possibility also.

      3. Falling Diphthong

        Yeah, losing a child is one of the greatest predictors of divorce. And that’s for couples where neither had any fault in the death.

    4. Foreign Octopus

      Hey-up. Let’s leave this here, I think.

      We don’t know the ins and outs of that’s relationship. From the outside, it’s easy to judge but we have absolutely no idea of the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.

    5. Detective Amy Santiago

      +1

      And don’t ever EVER make any whiff of a comment denigrating this man’s habit to anyone you work with or you run the risk of becoming the office pariah.

    6. Lisa

      Yes. Life isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that he gets to leave for 10 minutes and it’s not fair that his child died. One of those is more significant than the other. You will look petty and immature if you ask your boss to step in, especially as he is not concerned about it, for good reason. Sorry to be harsh, but this is something to be empathetic about, not to complain about.

    7. pleaset

      THIS.

      I hope the person the OP is talking about is getting or got some kind of counseling or therapy.

    8. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      Very well said!

      If your boss is so strict about desk times that 10-15 minutes, once a day, is that noticeable… your coworker isn’t the problem, your boss is.

      1. Marie B.

        It’s not really fair to put this on the boss. In some fields, like dispatching or working in a call center, being at your desk all the time is necessary. It sounds like they are allowed to take washroom breaks without getting in trouble and they get a 30 minute lunch break too so they do get to eat and leave their desks. Automatically assuming the boss is a tyrant is wrong because we don’t know what kind field the OP works in.

    9. pleaset

      It’s not at all odd to divorce someone in those circumstances – the person killed a child. Even with the best of intentions, it’s hard to put that aside enough to want to live with that person.

      And without knowing the circumstances, while I can’t say whether or not prosecution was appropriate, I certainly feel that in some cases it is. A child died. People have to take serious responsibility for that, and that includes the law looking into it. Even if it was not intentional, it could well have been negligent.

    10. Jadelyn

      It being an accident doesn’t automatically relieve the anger, grief, blame, etc. that are all very natural things for someone who has suffered the awful tragedy of losing a child that, accidentally or not, was caused by another person. In that circumstance, would you really try to tell them they’re expected to just somehow deal with those feelings in order to stay in the relationship? Why? It’s probably the kinder thing to leave than to stay and have that resentment simmering under everything for years. Human emotions are messy, messy things and they don’t always include things like forgiveness and reconciliation when you’re dealing with this kind of a situation. Why judge someone for being human and having emotions?

      Now the courts, on the other hand, that one I’ll join you in side-eyeing. But then, our legal system is an overzealous mess in all the wrong situations and then doesn’t give a crap when they should, so…what else can we expect? The DA probably needed to boost their numbers for the year or something. (Sorry, I am super biased on this, having had someone close to me get swept up in a “the DA is making an example of this one” situation on an event they were only very peripherally involved with, which ruined their life for years over something that we were told by various investigators wouldn’t even be prosecution-worthy normally. So I would not be at all surprised to hear that something similar was at play on this.)

    11. Jadelyn

      That’s what I was thinking. If it’s an OCD or anxiety or PTSD thing because of the mental health effects of the tragedy, it might actually be a formal accommodation that he is allowed to take a few minutes and go do that so that he is able to be productive the rest of the day.

    12. Ask a Manager Post author

      Also, apologies for removing the replies people took the time to write. My assumption is that leaving them would give this person whatever it is that they’re seeking with this behavior.

  16. Flinty

    The kosher thing brought up something else I’ve run into: our office of ~20 has periodic trainings where lunch is provided. The last couple times, it’s been sandwiches where there’s a huge variety of tasty-looking meats, and the vegetarian option has been a “wrap” that consists solely of tortilla, lettuce, and cucumber, and no condiments provided besides mustard. It is neither tasty nor filling. There are 3-4 of us who are vegetarian and we are not thrilled by this, but we don’t want to be the special snowflake vegetarians who complain about the food. Is it worth saying anything/presenting some other places we could get lunch, or should I just make sure to have extra food handy on those days?

    1. BlueWolf

      I would say since there are 3-4 of you, you should bring it up as a group and just ask if it’s possible to have a different vegetarian option. If the person ordering is not vegetarian, they may not be as tuned-in to what you would like to eat.

      1. Falling Diphthong

        Yeah, I would assume good intent from the person ordering the food, who doesn’t realize that the only vegetarian option is ridiculous. (Seriously, catering place, it is not this hard to make an acceptable vegetarian sandwich.)

    2. Namast'ay in Bed

      I absolutely think it’s worth saying something! Especially since it’s 3-4 people in a 20 person office, that’s a big enough percentage to warrant speaking up.

    3. AnnStanSam

      Do you have a good relationship with the person ordering the food? If so, I’d be comfortable saying something like “At the last couple of trainings, Cathy and I have noticed that the vegetarian wraps are really just lettuce wrapped in a tortilla. We appreciate that there’s a vegetarian option, but this really isn’t enough food for a full-day event. Would it be possible to get something more filling next time?”

    4. Not Today Satan

      OMG, yes. The Bird Food Wrap from Hell. It’s at every frigin work function.

      I finally complained and got my employer to include some capreses as well.

      1. Falling Diphthong

        I still recall going to a Mexican place and ordering the veggie taco, which turned out to be cold tortillas with raw sliced mushrooms and lettuce. A cuisine built on corns, beans, and squash, and that was all this restaurant could think of when they heard they needed something vegetarian on the menu.

        1. Anonymosity

          A lot of refried beans have lard in them so they’re not suitable for vegetarians. This is probably why, though it’s not hard to figure out how to manage a decent veggie entree. :P

        2. Bea

          Taco Bell is a vegetarians fast food paradise, I can’t believe a real restaurant can’t pull it off!

          I’m in the land of veggie and vegan chooses, I’m grateful AF and I’m not either one. I just hate limited choices when both are such popular dietary setups.

        3. TL -

          I grew up where Tex-Mex was developed and it’s not really a vegetarian-friendly cuisine (if you care about eating lard) and definitely not a vegan friendly cuisine. (Though it is distinct from Mexican cuisine).

          I agree groups should find places with good vegetarian options if they’re including vegetarians, but it’s not on the owners of a restaurant to provide good vegetarian options, especially if they’re working in a cuisine that doesn’t have a historical concept of vegetarianism.

    5. Bumblebee

      If you know where the food is being ordered from, could you do a quick check to see if there are other vegetarian options, and suggest a more filling one instead?

      I used to be the person who did the ordering for years, and disagree with the other commenter that this needs to be A Thing by approaching the person as a group, unless the first quick request does not go well.

    6. Natalie

      Oh my god, just speak up about it! I don’t even think it matter that there’s a group of you or whether or not you have a good relationship with the person who orders the food. This is, like, the mildest request ever and the person who orders the food will probably laugh about how terrible the wrap is.

    7. Jadelyn

      I have to ask – I’m vehemently not vegetarian and have no idea what kind of veggie-based alternatives to sandwich filling there would be, so I’m curious. What would a *good* vegetarian option for a sandwich-type lunch look like?

      1. Natalie

        In my experience, either cheese or some kind of bean-based spread or patty, depending on whether or not they’re trying to cover the vegan base in the same sandwich.

        1. Guacamole Bob

          Yeah, mostly cheese (caprese sandwiches tend to be among the better options), but I’ve also seen corporate lunch style catering with hummus, falafel, or black bean/tex-mex style wraps. Avocado or guacamole is another common way to make a veggie sandwich more filling. Sweet potatoes show up sometimes, too, and are more filling than lettuce and tomato.

          Portobello mushrooms are popular with caterers, though I don’t tend to care for them – I’ve eaten a lot of mediocre wraps with things portobellos and tomatoes, roasted red peppers, roasted artichokes, etc. (I like the ingredients on their own, but soggy tortillas and bad vinaigrette are de rigeur for these things.) They may not be the most filling thing ever, but it’s much better than what OP describes.

          I’d honestly prefer a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to a lot of the bad veggie wraps out there, but I get why that’s not usually an option.

          Or you could skip the sandwiches and wraps and get something like a salad based around black beans, lentils, wild rice, quinoa, etc.

          1. Natalie

            I’ve never understood the mushroom thing. They don’t provide much by way or calories or protein, which is the thing you’re trying to replace when you leave out the meat.

            1. AnnStanSam

              Someone, somewhere read that mushrooms are “umami” and now we must have them as the only vegetarian option for all time.

              1. Natalie

                Here I was just assuming it was because portabellas are vaguely burger shaped, so they don’t have to revise anything. Just unplug “hamburger” and plug in “giant mushroom”.

                1. Guacamole Bob

                  A couple of times I’ve had particular types of mushrooms breaded and fried that were absolutely delicious and also the closest thing to chicken I’ve eaten in years. But I agree with you about the ubiquity of the roasted/grilled portabella in place of a burger.

                  A decent veggie burger is not that hard to make, people!

                2. Falling Diphthong

                  They’re like tofu–lovely in a dish that plays to their strengths, but a slab where you expect a hamburger is just going to be disappointing.

                3. Washi

                  Ugh yes, I’m not super picky, but I also do not appreciate the unseasoned mushroom slabs that sometimes appear on vegetarian food.

                4. Jadelyn

                  I think you’re right. Roughly a similar size/shape, which means you can just swap one out for the other without disrupting anything else. Even though that means you’ve just significantly altered the actual nutrient balance of the meal. That’s not going to be a problem, is it? /sarcasm

      2. Falling Diphthong

        Hummus is no longer exotic, and it and its bean paste cousins make tasty vegan sandwiches. (I have yellow lentil hummus with Indian seasoning in my fridge right now, from my local grocery store.)

        Cheese with tomato and cucumber for the vegetarians who eat dairy, and either cheese or hummus plus roast vegetables (peppers, onions, eggplant) if you want to go a little fancier.

      3. AnnStanSam

        As a vegetarian, I appreciate basically anything with protein. Cheese, tofu, beans and their derivatives (hummus, etc.). My personal favorite is roasted vegetables with goat cheese.

        1. Falling Diphthong

          This was a telling challenge on Top Chef once–it was a vegan challenge, judged by a longtime vegan. (I want to say Natalie Portman?) And the winner was the bacon-tattooed chef who gave up meat for Lent every year, and so made sure to produce something filling with some protein.

        2. Guacamole Bob

          I’ve eaten enough bad catered lunches that I’m willing to go for a pick-two of protein, fat, and fiber. Just make sure there are enough macronutrients that I don’t have to eat cookies for lunch and crash from the sugar an hour into the afternoon session. Toss in some olives? Great! Actually hearty whole grain bread? Excellent. Artichokes? At least there’s some fiber there so I will feel like I’ve eaten real food.

          A white flour tortilla with lettuce, tomato, carrots, cucumber, and bean sprouts? Only counts as a meal if you’re a rabbit.

          But agreed, protein is best.

      4. Applesauced

        Cheese and beans are good building blocks for vegetarian sandwiches.

        My husband is vegetarian/vegan-curious and recently I’ve been making sandwiches with olive tapanade, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, greens, and some “chickpea-of-the-sea” salad (faux tune salad – it’s chickpeas and mayo) on a roll. It’s super yummy!

      5. Corky's Wife Bonnie

        The place we get our sandwiches from has a great veggie wrap. I’m a meat eater and still love it. It has spinach, tomato, cucumber, shredded carrots, grilled squash, hot sauce, blue cheese, etc. I’m sure if people were vegan they would use hummus instead of cheese. It’s yummy!!

      6. Ann Perkins

        Another option I haven’t seen mentioned yet would be an egg salad sandwich.

      7. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

        I used to be vegetarian, and I’d make sandwiches out of things like hummous, sprouts, other kinds of beans (I used to make a black bean hummous-like spread, for instance), grilled or baked tofu, cheese, olives, marinated or pickled vegetables like artichokes or sun-dried tomatoes, avocado, pesto, falafel, cold potatoes/sweet potatoes, chutney, nut butters, various kinds of salad leaves, and sometimes vegetarian fake meat products.

    8. Guacamole Bob

      I’d definitely say something. For one-off events I wouldn’t bother, but it sounds like this is something that happens regularly. I’d second the suggestion to offer to look at the menu and help choose something more suitable, or offering other options if you know of other restaurants that do a similar level of catering nearby.

      Do they at least get a dessert tray so you can get enough calories to continue to function? I think I’d be unable to pay attention to work after eating such a skimpy lunch.

    9. Ask a Manager Post author

      Frame it as being about sufficient nutrition — as in, “we need vegetarian lunch options that will provide sufficient nutrition, which lettuce and tomato on their own don’t do.” And then suggest some options that you’d like, since whoever is doing the ordering clearly needs some guidance.

    10. Flinty

      Thank you everyone! I work for a nonprofit that is not destitute but still tends towards the “make do without” shoestring budget attitude, so I was hesitant to speak up about something potentially seen as frivolous. Thank you for the validation that tortilla and lettuce is not lunch!

      1. Jadelyn

        If it’s “frivolous” to get the vegetarians something other than rabbit food for lunch, it’s frivolous to get the meat-eaters lunch too. Since they obviously are on board with providing lunch in general, it’s not at all frivolous to expect that they would feed you *adequately* even with dietary restrictions.

    11. Observer

      I think that if you can provide some decent options to the person who is doing the ordering, that would be fine. Especially if it’s not too expensive, and a place that’s reasonably easy to deal with.

    12. Jules the 3rd

      um, yeah, bring it up. How hard is it to add edamame and corn, or sweet potatoes, or hummus and sprouts, or grill some mushrooms? I could see not wanting to do plain avocado slices, but vegan guac is an easily available thing!

      1. Jennifer Thneed

        So, this is really funny. There are SO many different styles of guacamole (because different regions of Mexico) and I guess some of them are not vegan? (Certainly not any that have mayo in them.) Anyway, guacamole usually is vegan. My personal fave recipe involves 4 ingrediants: avo, garlic, salt, lemon juice. Oh, and I’ve got ripe avos downstairs. Mmmm, guac with lunch for me.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

          Guacamole with mayo in it? I have never heard of this.

          I rarely make guacamole these days, because it’s hard to get good avocados in England. But I used to use some variation on avocado with lime juice, dried chiles, salt, garlic, onion, sometimes a splash of tequila, usually cooking the garlic and onion first (they give me indigestion raw).

        2. TL -

          Sour cream is generally what’s put in dairy-based guac, not mayo.

          It is creamy and delicious and now I want some :)

    13. Jennifer Thneed

      Sounds to me like you’re saying “vegetarian” and someone is hearing “vegan”. Tell them you want cheese! Tell them you want mayo! (They’re not giving you mayo because it usually has eggs.)

      1. Observer

        I’m with Guacamole Bob. It’s not as easy to feed a vegan, but you REALLY don’t have to go this far. Look at all of the suggestions in the thread for tons of ideas – most of which are not exotic or expensive.

    14. Thlayli

      Ugh. I’m not a vegetarian but u absolutely detest that “just makenthe meat wrap but leave out the meat” attitude to vegetarian options. How hard is it to google vegetarian menus ffs.

      Definitely say something. “Man cannot live on bread alone… you need some protein!”

  17. Embarrassed and Ashamed

    I’m worried that I’ve trashed my reputation with my manager. I got a new manager late last year. This was a welcome addition as this place is pretty toxic and my previous manager as well as some colleagues are awful at their jobs. At first my manager seemed on top of things and ready to start implementing improvements. I brought up some issues that needed to be addressed (a couple of coworkers are not doing their jobs well and it was significantly affecting my job not to mention how it was impacting things overall). While I initially mentioned these things professionally, they weren’t addressed or fixed and when I had to follow up about ongoing problems I didn’t always maintain a professional demeanor. Nothing egregious but definitely not the AAM way.

    I’m horribly embarrassed and ashamed about this. I know better but stress and frustration got the better of me. I’m worried this killed my reputation with my manager. He hasn’t said anything (he’s not a clear or direct communicator) but our working relationship feels like it has declined. I’ve apologized for being unprofessional and have improved how I talk about these issues when he proactively checks up on them but I’m worried the damage is done. Is there anything else I should do? Just continue on in a professional manner?

    1. Girl from the North Country

      I would say yes, just continue on in a very professional manner (not only with him, but everyone), and always be on top of your work. You already apologized, and it’s good that you’re trying to be better going forward. That’s really all you can do, and hopefully in time he will come to see it as a one-off lapse in judgment from an otherwise stellar employee.

    2. CAA

      You’ve already apologized, so let it go and behave in a professional way from now on and let the relationship with your manager evolve and improve in its own time. Continuing to bring it up or apologize again so he has to keep reassuring you about it just makes you seem like a high maintenance employee.

    3. LGC

      I mean, think about it like this: you’re still there so you’re not THAT bad off with him.

      More to the point, you’ve done all you can do. NO ONE always acts in an AAM-approved way, not even Alison. (Definitely not me, I’ll tell you that much.) If your boss is judging you still, that’s something he needs to sort out. Just keep on doing what you’ve been doing.

  18. Ask a Manager Post author

    This is my periodic reminder: Do you have a problem that you’d like to talk to me about on the phone, to work through in real time? The catch — you’d be on an episode of the AAM podcast. If you’re up for it, send a description of your problem to me at podcast@askamanager.org.

    1. Foreign Octopus

      How are you enjoying the podcasts, Alison? Are you finding them fun and a nice break from answering letters in the traditional manner?

      I know I enjoy the podcasts once a week. I stick it on when I’m cooking dinner :)

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I’m really liking them! The more I do, the more comfortable I am with the format, and I think/hope it’s making for better shows. I really, really like that the format allows me to get feedback on the advice in real time so that I can adjust it to better target what will work for the person and their situation. I recorded one last night where the person said something like, “yeah, that advice would work in most situations but it won’t in this one because ____” and I was able to adjust it to work for her, even though what we ended up on wasn’t what I would have figured was the optimal solution before we hashed it out. So that part of it is really cool! And hopefully for listeners, it’s interesting to listen to that process.

        1. Foreign Octopus

          I love listening to the process for the exact reason you stated!

          I remember the one with the woman who wanted to scale back on the amount of time she was spending with a colleague who expected her to have lunch with him every day. It was really interesting to listen to you speak to her and hear what she’s already implemented.

    2. Anonymosity

      Is it bad that I wish I had a work problem, just so I could talk to Alison on the phone? :)

      1. Jadelyn

        I’m with you – I started flipping through my mental rolodex of Work Problems to see if anything was bad enough to warrant volunteering for this, lol.

  19. Spay-C

    For those who have worked under someone who was very high up in a company (President, Vice President, CEO, whatever): Was the job any different than a normal job?

    I applied for a job recently that I thought sounded like a great fit for me until I did a phone screening and found out the position works under the vice president. If they had mentioned that in the job ad, I wouldn’t have applied. Working under the vice president seems like a… big job? Like, only someone who’s super awesome and talented and good looking and important themselves could do it. I’m not exactly polished (the dressiest stuff I have is business casual, I wear ponytails to keep my hair in check, and I don’t wear makeup despite lacking a nice face). I don’t have an impressive job history or any special talents or skills. I assume the job would have more pressure and stress and much higher expectations. The job seems way beyond something I could handle now just because of the vice president thing.

    Don’t know if I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill or what.

    1. Ladyb

      With respect, I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill. If you meet the requirements then go for it. The fact that it would be reporting to a ‘high up’ shouldn’t stop you. I’m C-suite and I’d be horrified to learn that people are being put off applying because of my job title/rank. What’s important to me is that you can do the job.

      That said, I can see that there are some companies where the corporate environment might skew towards more formal/polished. I’m thinking legal firms and similar, but you’d be able to screen those out if needed.

    2. I'm Not Phyllis

      Yes and no. I work for a CEO directly, and mostly it’s just a regular job like anyone else has. The only thing that is a little trickier is that its a bit higher in terms of visibility – you may interact with VIPs more and have to worry about your boss’s reputation a bit more (although I guess that’s something people should always be concerned with?). But in terms of the job itself – like every job it has a specific set of priorities. At least this has been my experience.

      1. Spay-C

        Even though people I work with seem to think I’m very friendly and kind and helpful, I am socially awkward and socially anxious. I can see myself saying something stupid in front of VIPs. I’ve never thought about it before, but guess I very much prefer being invisible.

    3. whistle

      I think you can ask about dress code expectations, etc., in an interview. If they are expecting a more formal look, and that’s not something you’re interested in, you can bow out at that point. Otherwise, the rest of your concerns sound a bit like imposter syndrome. If they decide to hire you, they are saying that you are “super awesome and talented”! :)

      (I report directly to the CEO, and your description of your appearance and dress pretty much exactly matches mine.)

      1. Spay-C

        Asking about dress code if I actually get to the interview stage is a good idea. (Or maybe I wouldn’t need to–if I wear business casual with a ponytail and no makeup to the interview, presumably they would take that into account when considering if I’d be a good fit?)

    4. Ali G

      Is it a small or big company? You just made me realize that every job I’ve ever had I’ve reported directly to the CEO or a VP. I’ve also worked at exclusively “small” organizations. It can be stressful because often you are supporting someone very busy – but it can be fascinating. I really enjoyed the learning about things like how to run a company, budgeting, and other stuff that my education didn’t really cover. So, if you have the qualifications, there is nothing wrong with learning more about it and seeing if you could be a good fit.

    5. Everdene

      This may just be down to reporting lines. My hierarchy is only 4 people tall, my grandboss is the Chief Exec. Yet, one of my peers has a hierarchy of 6 or 7 people. The great thing about reporting to a Director is that I am learning so much and have access to people much further in their career. If I had know initially I would have been a bit daunted but this is great for me.

      What do you have to lose?

      (Also while I can brush up will when needed today I’m in flip flops, no makeup and a ponytail.)

    6. Elle

      Agree with everybody else: If you can fulfill the requirements, go for it! What’s the worst they can say? (hint: “We have filled the position with someone else”.)

    7. zora

      I agree with a lot of the above comments, and I wanted to add: all executives are different! Some like to do a lot of things for themselves, so you end up having a pretty standard Admin Assistant job. Others like to delegate more (or have terrible tech/admin skills) and so you are more of a high-level Executive Assistant and have to do a lot more high-level work. I wouldn’t write this off yet, I’d go to the interview and find out more!

      I am an executive assistant, and my boss is pretty high up in the company now, but the high level organizational stuff, she does herself. I do a lot of scheduling/managing her calendar, booking travel, doing small admin tasks for her. But I’m not really involved in budgets or structural decisions, like, ever. And I definitely try to dress nicer if we have clients coming by, but we are a pretty casual office, so nice pants/flowy top and cardigan are perfectly acceptable. And I don’t wear makeup at work anymore. She doesn’t care what I look like, just that I help her be productive.

      On a big picture level, I feel like you are really selling yourself short! Most of the people supporting executives, or even executives themselves, are just normal people, too! They just happened to have learned about the things involved in running a business. Some of them aren’t even good at their jobs! If they are interested in you, there’s no reason to take yourself out of the running without even getting more information about the job.

      1. Spay-C

        I steer clear of admin assistant type jobs because I’d be horrible at those. This job was actually for something else that I wouldn’t have expected to report to a VP (I assumed the role was in a team of people with the same and complementary roles).

        I’ve always been a low level worker and never interacted with anyone “high up” aside from asking for approval on things over certain dollar amounts, so I guess I have a very skewed view of what executives and the people supporting them are like (I never would have described them as “normal people,” haha :P). I’m feel like I’m an outcast in big businesses even though that’s the only kind of place I’ve been able to get jobs.

    8. Chaordic One

      It’s one of those things that is going to vary depending on who you are working for and the office culture. When I worked as a high-level executive assistant, the big thing that seemed difficult to me was that I was privy to a lot of confidential information and I really would have liked to have gossiped about it with some of my coworkers. (But I didn’t.)

      Also, I had to come in early and stay late a bit more often than in my previous job. I was being paid quite a bit more, though, so it didn’t bother me. I also, on occasion had to do some menial things like get coffee for my boss and visiting corporate guests, or take the company car to be washed and gassed-up. Again, it didn’t bother me. Getting coffee seemed more like a matter of being hospitable to our guests than doing a menial thing. But these things would bother some people.

      1. Spay-C

        One thing I’m good at is keeping information confidential! :) I’m a quiet and private person, so while I’ll talk enough to be friendly, I tend to not spread information about myself or my work except on a need-to-know basis. (Like, I was auditing a coworker’s work last year and found a bunch of big mistakes. Never told anyone except the person who wanted the audit results even though I’m sure my teammates would have loved to know because said coworker was very gossipy and condescending anytime someone else made a small mistake.)

    9. Bea

      I only work under the top dogs. Ownership and CEO. It’s not a big deal, you can’t let their “power” intimidate you. They are hiring someone to help them out in some way.

      I get why it’s scary going in but they’re a bunch of people who are just normal people with a lot of responsibility.

      I treat mine like they’re just a regular manager. I don’t have time for hierarchy bullsht!

    10. Bea

      And I should say I’m wearing a Disney princess tshirt, jeans and ponytail. You’re going to be fine. We are not glamorous unless you’re working in an industry that cares about that crap.

      Working for these people gave me much more power to expand my career. When you earn the trust of people with their networking, you have a lot of places to go.

      Granted this industry, these people are also readily engaged with all employees. So they’re having BBQs and all that jazz with us as well.

      1. Spay-C

        You wear a Disney princess t-shirt, jeans and ponytail to work under a “top dog”?!?!?! I’m jealous!

        It’s a good point that it would be a good career move. Aside from networking, being able to put “[achieved impressive thing] for VP” on my resume and being able to list a VP as a reference would be nice!

        1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

          I reported directly to the president and CEO (if you’ve been following my sags, you know they weren’t very presidential or CEO like). Every day, I wore skinny jeans, sandals and a casual top, Friday’s I wore t-shirts. Some days I pulled my (waist length) hair back in a ponytail, some days I let it fly free….and it would fly!

          They’re all different…..

          I say go for it! Give yourself some credit that you ARE awesome.

    11. LilySparrow

      I think you’re psyching yourself out unnecessarily. Depending on the corporate structure, VP may just translate to “head of department” or even “head of subdivision.” I’ve worked in places that had dozens of VPs.

      I did a stint as EA to the chief legal officer for North America of an international finance company. My boss was a direct report to the international CLO, and more or less lateral to the regional CEO. She had vice-presidents reporting to her.

      I was 26 and it was my first non-temp job in a corporate environment. I wore minimal makeup, and had to buy some “nice” office clothes with my first paycheck. I swapped through two skirt suits, two pairs of slacks, and a bunch of shells for my whole first year.

      My hair was rarely “done,” but I would often twist it up and clip it to pass for an updo. Sometimes I showed up with no makeup and my hair still wet. (So did my boss). I only needed to be especially polished on certain occasions, which were scheduled in advance. Honestly, in a job like that you want to be nearly invisible. You’re not on display – you just need to fit in with the general office decor: not conspicuously sloppy or conspicuously fancy.

      Duties-wise it was more about scheduling and managing my boss’s correspondence than the general admin I was used to. But all it really needed was common sense, a professional demeanor on the phone, determination to (politely but persistently) get her what she wanted, and the ability to tell people “no” on her behalf.

      I don’t know whether the job you’re looking at is admin or a specific skill set, but if you like the basic job description, go for it! The boss’s title matters a lot less than their management ability and the company culture. Just be good at what you do – that’s all the polish you need.

      1. Spay-C

        I didn’t realize places could have multiple VPs. It’s a fairly big business (several hundred employees), so maybe they do have multiple VPs!

    12. Spay-C

      Thank you for all the replies! They’ve made me realize that I have some unrealistic ideas about higher ups and the people that work for them, and maybe I could still be a good fit for the job (or other jobs that work under higher ups). I’ll keep an open mind and see how far I get in the interview process. (I’ve only done a phone screening, so I haven’t even made it that far yet.)

    13. no more CEOs

      Uh, it was different for me because the CEO was a lying, racist, sexist politician who hid it well in front of the board, but not in front of everyone he had more power over, so he basically had carte blanche to behave however he wanted. I was miserable until I left.

  20. Formerly Frustrated Optimist

    This is a note I have dreamed about writing on the Friday open thread: After three years of intensive job searching, and 146 applications, I was finally offered a position last week.

    For any of you who remember me from previous comments, the good news was that I did have a job – but I was beginning to see that the organization was on shaky ground, and, worse, I was being marginalized in pointed ways.

    So when I say I sent out 146 applications, I mean applications where you go through the lengthy online process; write an expertly-worded cover letter; and tailor your resume. (In other words, I was not using a job search web site where you basically click to have your resume sent to a job posting).

    The main problem, I think, was that the field I am in is … well, “competitive,” may not be the right word, but “closed.” For mid-career positions, you either have to know someone, or have worked your way up from an entry-level job to a mid-career position.

    I also ran into many situations where – after I saw who they did hire – I realized I’d been interviewed as a filler candidate. (Again, see previous comments with my username, without the “Formerly.”)

    But finally, finally, finally, a company recognized my talent and told me I was their top candidate. The work is exactly what I had hoped to be doing. There were some trade-offs, though: The commute will be double (though under an hour, one way) and I am having to take a not-insignificant pay cut. However, the manager was so impressed with me that she shared that I would be on track for a promotion in a year or less. Best of all, this company is part of a much larger organization, with definitely room to grow overall.

    As far as suggestions, well, I don’t even know. I think one suggestion is that networking should be an organic process, developing alongside your career. I did not have much of a network in place, so during my search, I tried meeting people, talking about the field, and asking them to keep me in mind if there were to be an opening. Lots of people were nice enough, but it never led to any concrete leads.

    Ultimately, it came down to persistence; increasing my geographic search radius; and being willing to take a step back to move forward. You might say that the job I accepted is a diamond in the rough. I also had to think realistically about what would happen if I lost my current job: I would be forced to take a “survival job” in a field that I hate, for far, far less pay.

    I hope my story might give others hope. If you have any questions about what I found did or did not end up being helpful, I will do my best to answer.

    1. Ali G

      Wow! Congratulations. I am kind of where you were. I do have a decent network, but unfortunately I want to change fields so they can only help me so much. Like you I am taking a step (or 2) back to move forward in the long run.
      I’m glad it finally worked out for you!

    2. LKW

      Congrats! Under an hour commute – totally doable. Subscribe to some podcasts and use your local library’s audio books!

    3. nep

      Wow–thanks for this. Congratulations on the offer.
      I salute your hard work and persistence.

  21. Girl from the North Country

    One of my coworkers frequently complains that we don’t get paid enough compared to others in our industry. I’m curious about this, since I feel like I’m making a pretty good salary, but I want to know what her idea of “low pay” is. I wish I could ask her how much she makes, but (the usual awkwardness of that question aside), I’m worried that it WILL be low, and then I’ll have to disclose my higher salary to her and things will be weird. Is there a delicate way to approach this subject?

    1. fposte

      Sure. “What’s the standard you’d expect in our industry?” Ask about the number she’s hoping for rather than the number she has.

    2. Murphy

      Can you ask what she thinks you should get paid based on research into market rates? You can find out what she thinks is acceptable, which will give you a better idea of where her salary lies.

    3. Judy (since 2010)

      I’d do some research online to understand what the pay for your industry & location would be first.

    4. LKW

      I’d also recommend that you consider the whole package. Insurance, PTO, flex time, etc. Some companies pay more in salary but fewer perks.

  22. Cancer Crush Anon

    Hi all,
    Just wanted to give everyone my last update since it’s been a few months:

    – I started my new job and everything is going well. I miss a lot of my former coworkers and the general comradely immensely, but I am meeting people here too. I was in a meeting and the CEO walked in extremely casually and put his hand on the woman presenting’s shoulder and I immediately bristled. It’s something I’ll have to retrain my mind. This is a MASSIVE company, so the fact that the CEO walked into a meeting was a Cool Big Deal. It’s so funny how perspectives can change based on your experiences.

    – I can’t remember if I said this before, but my leaving my last job was incredibly dramatic and sudden…and surprisingly unrelated to The Reason why I left. I left after 4 days notice instead of 10. My friends who still work there said it was the talk of the entire company. Whoops. Basically, they tried to claim my separate bucket of personal time that I used for my dad’s cancer was vacation so they could avoid paying me out my vacation. This was my boss and her boss, not HR. Needless to say, HR apologized immensely the next week after everything I have been through.

    – My new city is also exciting. There’s lots to do and we haven’t even explored a bit due to handling things back home and just general busyness. I love living with my S.O., and all is well on that front.

    Therefore, today is going to be my last update under this username. I will go back to my default username, and hopefully with have no more crazy drama with ANYONE at any company to ever report on here.

    1. Namast'ay in Bed

      Congratulations! I’m so happy to hear that you’re in a better place. Good luck with everything!

  23. Scared of Working Again

    I’m anxious to get a job (currently unemployed), but also terrified of getting a job.

    You see, the previous three jobs I had all turned out to be horrible places where I was so miserable and stressed out that it affected my health. I couldn’t even relax at home because the fact that I’d have to go back to work was always looming. My previous jobs were all jobs where it was the first thing offered to me and I had to take it (took Job #1 because I needed a job after graduating, then took Job #2 because I was desperate to leave Job #1, then took Job #3 because I was desperate to leave Job #2). The jobs didn’t give me any desirable skills or experience so I’m not a good job candidate, and I know when I’m offered another job that will be the only job offer I’ll have—I won’t have a choice again. I feel like that guarantees the next job will be horrible too since that’s been my past experience.

    I’ve never had a vacation before (my previous jobs either didn’t have PTO or only offered a week off, which I needed to save for emergencies), so it’s been really nice to just be home and have time for hobbies and family. Though I’m anxious about not being employed, it’s not anywhere as stressful as being at a horrible job. I really don’t want to go back to work.

    1. Inspector Spacetime

      So, it seems you’ve had an unusual experience and some extraordinarily bad luck. I’ve worked at five separate places, and loved four of them. I didn’t like the fifth, but all things considered it actually wasn’t that bad. Not every job is terrible, and just because your previous jobs were doesn’t mean your next one will be.

      You should maybe consider if there are any commonalities between these jobs that caused you to hate them. Is it the work you’ve been doing? The industry? The hours? The people? Whatever the problem is, is it possible to figure this out in the interview stage before you accept the position?

      What stands out for me is that you’ve always leaped at the first job offered, regardless of red flags. That’s understandable, especially when you are in a toxic job, but now I think you should take the time to make sure your next job will not be completely miserable. You DO have a choice whether to take your next job offer or not. Obviously, you need to keep in mind your finances, but picky job searching is better for your finances than not job searching at all.

      It might also be worth talking about your situation with somebody, maybe a therapist. I’m probably projecting, but your mindset reminds me of when I was trying to job search with depression. Apologies for the long comment. Good luck!

    2. StellaBella

      I completely understand this. I have had similar experiences with toxic work situations and am currently in university full time, looking for work to start again in October. However in your case, I think you did some work, so you must have some skills you can capitalise on, right? Also – what helped me is that I saw a counsellor for 6 months and while it was costly, it helped to learn how to cope with my anxiety, with toxic situations, and how to frame things differently. I hope you can find a new, better, kinder group of people to work with and that your anxiety goes away too after a better experience. Good luck!

    3. That's Not My Job

      No suggestions, just commiseration. My first job was with a verbally abusive boss/owner but I was 13 and getting paid under the table so I didn’t know any better. My second job was pretty great the first summer, the college age kids accepted little 16 year old me and trained me in place of our rather absent boss. I made the mistake of going back a second summer where I was bullied and ultimately undermined to my boss to the point where I was getting yelled at daily for things like watching TV instead of doing my job (in a room notably absent a TV *shrug*). Those were the two jobs my dad was so proud of procuring for me. Thanks Dad.
      In college I wandered into a jobs fair and rather accidentally got talked into applying for a position way out of my comfort zone or field. It was my first experience with a kind, competent, and professional boss. I discovered I enjoyed the work and after graduation I got a job in the same field. It’s been good to me but I’m starting to think of going back into the field I studied for or at least getting a better paying job. I wish I could tell you that, having experienced two pretty great work environments, I’m not scared of getting a job anymore. I am though, and all I can say is I wish you more courage than I have.

    4. Bea

      My SO had a string of jobs that left him stressed as well and sucked. Imagine my horror when I brought him into a job I had that I had good success and love for. Only to have the ship shift directions and it sucked.

      However this has a happy ending. We’re both in jobs we love. No more hidden crazypants lurking.

      So I know you’re scared and I don’t want to minimise your fears. But I’ve seen it work out. I believe in self filled prophesies, please dig down deep and be optimistic. Sell yourself as someone who wants to develop skills and a great work history despite your setbacks. You can do it!!!

  24. strawberries and raspberries

    Finally, the open thread. I found out yesterday that I didn’t get the job I was waiting on pins and needles for (after two great interviews, a thoroughly positive reference check, and some inside intel that everyone was pulling for me). I have a long relationship with the organization as a (way above and beyond) volunteer, and my colleague who would have been my supervisor told me that ultimately it came down to another candidate who had just a little more directly applicable experience than I did, but that the entire hiring committee was really impressed by me and she would absolutely keep me in mind for future opportunities. And of course I was grateful and appreciative and tried to put it in “You’ll always get the thing you need even if you don’t get the thing you want” perspective, but it’s still so disappointing. Most of all because I was so sure I was going to get this job that I halted my job search (stupid, I know) and now I have to start over. Last night it was easier to be positive. Now that I’m sitting at work at my current job that I’m miserable in, it stings a lot harder. I don’t want to lose motivation to look for something else, and my fantasy of roller-skating out of here while flipping everyone off doesn’t seem as helpful now that I don’t actually have another job lined up. I’m just glad it’s Friday.

    1. GRA

      I’m so sorry :( I found out this week that I didn’t get a job I was so excited about (it was almost a five month process between applying, interviews, etc.). I feel your pain and am sending internet hugs!!

  25. GradStudent

    I apologize if this isn’t the place for this/feel free to delete my comment if this is inappropriate … I am thinking about trying to get into freelance writing, specifically article and copywriting. I am currently a PhD student in the social sciences and have published several articles as the first author, and I have published creative pieces in some mid-tier literary publications as well (those rarely pay, unfortunately). I’ve written website copy for free/fun for friends in the past, e.g., the bio for a musician friend’s website. My question is: what is the best way to get started??? I don’t know that I have a specific topic “niche.” I’ve explored Upwork and similar freelance sites and I’m hesitant to get into the gig space because it seems to take advantage of workers, though I’ve also heard of good experiences? I’d prefer to build relationships with a few people/potential clients in my city (large city in the Midwest), but I really have no idea where to begin. It had occurred to me to just go to young-professional type meetups to meet people and put my name out there as a writer, but I’m not sure if there’s a more streamlined way.

    1. Gloucesterina

      I can sympathize with the desire to get off the academic track! I’m unfamiliar with the ins and outs of freelancing or freelancing writing as a profession, but I’d tend to imagine that it’s important to start accumulating paid publications in order to build the portfolio you’d need in order to market yourself to prospective clients. I’m sure others here will have experience and more concrete ideas to share with you. Good luck!

    2. Gloucesterina

      Do you know the Versatile PhD site? It has a section on writing and editing that also has a Q&A on freelance writing specifically. From your post, it sounds a bit like you are actually wary of freelancing (amplified job precarity and all) so the site may have good info to help you explore writing roles in different contexts.

      1. GradStudent

        Thanks for the recommendation! I’m actually not interested in leaving academia (my PhD will be in clinical psychology, which allows me to be a little more applied anyway), I just really enjoy writing for non-academic audiences, and it would be nice to pad my stipend a little bit :). But as a millenial I have many friends who have done freelancing/gig work in a way that really devalued their time and I’m not interested in that … I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where I don’t desperately need work.

        1. Gloucesterina

          That’s awesome–being able to write for different audiences is such a useful skill wherever your career takes you. Another thought – this probably varies a lot by institution and discipline, but you might also see if your university or field has any web venues for grad students to write for a wider audience. For instance, my university has an official grad student blog that students can apply to write for; I also know historians who write for sites like Nursing Clio that draw on academic research to speak to the public.

          1. Gloucesterina

            I should add that I don’t think these types of venues would pay, or pay much if anything, but they might be good for building up the portfolio!

    3. Bumblebee

      One of your top advantages will likely be your background – can you research and translate scholarly concepts in the social sciences to a mainstream audience? Pubs like Smithsonian Mag, Citylab, and JSTOR Daily will pay freelancers who can do that (among others. Check out http://whopayswriters.com/#/results). Once you have a few non-creative publications, you can leverage that to do more freelancing; I know many freelancers set up a personal website to give a brief description of their background, and a list of their publications and refer potential clients there.

      Rates are generally pretty low for freelance writers on Upwork and the like – it would probably take a bit before you could command a higher rate there.

    4. ContentWrangler

      Have you looked into any staffing agencies in your area who target creative fields? I’ve used a couple different staffing agencies to find freelance work (I have a full-time writing job, I just also like to keep an eye out for things to diversify my portfolio/make some extra cash). The staffing agency I liked best actually had me come in for an “interview” where we went over my experience and work interests. Now I’m in their system and if they have a job posting that fits my resume, I get an email.

    5. LilySparrow

      Constant Content is one article clearinghouse that is always looking for contributors – some on specific teams with assignments, and some “on spec” to sell. They are advertising at 10 cents a word, which is decent for the type of work. With your specialized background, you could probably do better than average.

      In my experience, the exhausting part of freelancing is looking for clients. It’s always better to get a long-term or recurring contract — or several — rather than doing one-offs and having to hunt for another opportunity. You can run job searches on Google, Linkedin, and writing-focused sites like freelancewriting.com. Look for “Content Writer”. A lot of industry blogs need a certain amount of articles per week, and are looking for either in-house or contract writers. If you have 3-4 samples and can write a decent cover letter, that’s all you need to start applying.

  26. SophieChotek

    Dress Code –

    If this is more for Sat, I apologise and will re-post later.

    Have to go to work function – represent my company at cocktail reception and banquet (where industry awards will be given.) The organization that is hosting the entire dinner/banquet said in a mass email that it is “casual” and not as “formal” as a traditional banquet, but I looked at the photos online and they looked pretty formal to me. (But I also dress very casually at my job, as it is not client-facing, and I also dress casually in my free time also.)

    Anyway – I have a black dress picked out. About knee-length. My question is: what is fashionable right now? Sheers (hosiery) or not? Or is it just a personal preference? I read up online, the advice seems somewhat mixed….

    Thanks!

    1. Higher Ed Database Dork

      I think a black dress without hose is fine, with maybe some more casual dressy shoes (not like super high, shiny heels, but a lower block heel). Disclaimer: I’m in Texas and detest hosiery so I’m a little biased there.

      Can’t really go wrong with a black knee-length dress, though I would say stick to more dressy/structured fabrics and cuts – like not a swingy modal trapeze dress, but more like a shift dress. I’d go more for timeless/classic than fashionable, which will fit in easily with however the dress code manifests.

    2. TechServLib

      No hosiery. Add a sparkly accessory if you’re worried about not looking formal enough.

    3. Washi

      What is fashionable: no pantyhose
      What is safe in a conservative environment: pantyhose

      Can’t tell from your post how conservative or casual the banquet is, but as a younger person, I tend to dress on the more conservative side for functions like that. I think pantyhose is stupid and I think a lot of men won’t even notice, but there are a surprising number of women over maybe 50 who seem to consider bare legs with a dress to be one step away from nudity.

      1. Mockingjay

        I am over 50 and loathe pantyhose. I live in a very warm, humid area on the Southeast coast. Nobody I know wears hosiery from March through November, even for formal events.

        (I’m okay with colored tights during our brief winter; these come in fun colors and look great with boots.)

        1. Washi

          Maybe I’ve just ended up in a bit of a conservative bubble, since I’m on the mid-Atlantic coast and just last week someone (external, not a coworker) took a look at my bare legs and muttered audibly to herself “I’ll never get used to how people are going around only half-dressed these days.” :)

          1. Zona the Great

            How passive of her! Also, what a terrible thing to say. Hosiery was most certainly created by a man :-)

            1. Thursday Next

              It was probably different when stockings were made of silk—these synthetic materials are much less comfortable.

    4. Cookie Monster

      No hosiery – sheer tights would be fine in the winter, but that’s not really seasonally appropriate anymore, unless you’re in a different hemisphere. Thank goodness dress norms have evolved enough to where woman are not expected to wear hosiery with dresses in all seasons. I would just wear it with black heels, or if you wanted to be fun, use your shoes to add a pop of color.

    5. Emily S.

      Personal preference. I wear stockings on the rare occasions when I wear a skirt, just because I think it looks nicer. So I feel more confident.

      1. Sled dog mama

        I wear stockings (or hose) with skirts for a purely practical reason. It keeps my thighs from rubbing which irritates me.

        1. epi

          You might like a product like a body glide– goes on like a deodorant and reduces friction (you could even use deodorant if you can’t find these other products). Gold Bond makes one, or you can find similar products in athletic stores/sections. There are also lotions that do something similar, e.g. one from Anthony that turns into a powder when it dries. It’s great on hot days since it soaks up sweat and reduces friction, and you don’t have to wear anything extra at all. The lotion-to-powder products can leave powder marks if you’re not careful but IME they are pretty easy to avoid.

          That Anthony lotion made walking to and from meetings all day, in a dress, on an incredibly muggy Chicago summer day, pretty bearable. Or at a minimum, not gross.

          1. Allie J

            Or Cake Satin Sugar Hair & Body powder! Can be used on your legs to reduce friction or as dry shampoo! It’s the best. Got me through several hot and muggy DC summers wearing dresses :)

    6. epi

      I wouldn’t wear hose unless you have some reason to, like you have some really attractive ones picked out or you expect to be cold or something.

      IMO hose aren’t fashionable or unfashionable, they are simply optional. They look odd and old-fashioned when it looks like you think they are required– e.g. wearing them on a very hot day, with a casual dress, or wearing heavy ones that don’t match your skin tone.

      1. Ashley

        If you are normally cold wear them. Otherwise I would skip it. The fancy things I have been to in a normally casual environment it has been a non issue.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale

      Lately I’ve been wearing footless black tights (pretty opaque ones) with wedges, for any dress that hits me above the knee. I like the look, plus I feel more comfortable. So that’s an option too.

    8. LKW

      No hose. Make sure you have moisturized legs. They have lotions with a teeny bit of shimmer or since it’s summer, bronzer. But test it – some have a lot of shimmer/color and won’t be appropriate.

      1. SophieChotek

        Although I read she wears “sheers” and prefer some brand that costs like $60 a pair.
        But, yes, I agree, if she doesn’t wear them…the rest of us don’t need to either! =)

      2. Anon today

        Ummm, actually she does, nude tights (pantyhose)…it’s a big requirement for the job, so to speak. The Duchess of Sussex has also started wearing them since her marriage.

      3. The Good Boss

        She does wear pantyhose, and so do I because I’m older and have multicolored legs (veins).

  27. Susan Sto Helit

    I’ve been dealing with some external creatives who are just unbearably difficult to work with. I’m stuck with them until the project is done, but they’re driving me nuts.

    Both are considerably older than me, and male (I’m female). Having delivered their side of the project six weeks late, forcing me to manage the rest on a considerably reduced time frame, they’ve been rude and obstructive ever since. (Note: this is not just my own opinion; my [male] manager was copied in on a tiny sample of their communications and was almost incandescent with rage. I could only laugh and tell him I had dozens more of them).

    A typical email from me will greet them politely, before providing a clear list of amendments I need/questions I need them to answer. I’ll be responded to every time with a slew of single-line emails (no greeting or sign-off, naturally) every time another thought comes to them – almost always an objection, or a complaint, or a nitpick about another topic. Generally they will reply and then get into an extended debate between them about one single element of the email, ignoring all other points/questions and forcing me to chase over and over again (example: a two-sentence email I sent one of them, one sentence of which was a question, received a nitpicked argument against the substance of my first point, and ignored the question entirely).

    The language they use is almost always brusque and rude, and shows no regard whatsoever for my own time and the amount of time and energy I’m spending trying to pry what I need out of them. It’s constant complaints and objections, but never a single solution offered either. It’s just exhausting. I’m so glad it’s the weekend.

    1. Elle

      So sorry you’re dealing with this. Can you at least be sure going forward that this dual jackassery will never, ever, be hired again? And perhaps add that sentiment to a “Goodbye” email when your project has been completed and signed off on?

      Even if you cannot, it’s good sometimes to fantasize such things!

    2. AnonGD

      Good lord, that sounds like a ball of fun… so I’m a creative, albeit young and female. If I’m going back and forth over email too much with a client I will just pick up the phone and settle all the changes needed there to make sure I’m clear on what is actually going on to cause so many revisions (and send summary emails if a paper trail is needed). If you haven’t already I would try that. Don’t give them the space to cause confusion over email and try to cut off communication between drafts beyond that unless they literally can’t proceed without clarification.

      I do believe you that these guys are a major PITA, but also, six weeks late is insane in my world. Cut your losses with these two for future projects… but make sure that you’re doing everything in your power to keep future projects on track. Not saying I’m perfect, I’ve done my fair share of over-promising but it is pretty rare that a project that delayed is a totally one-sided affair. It’s helpful to make an honest assessment of the project outside of “those guys sucked,” otherwise you might unintentionally carry that ill-will into future interactions with creatives (ask me how I know lol)

      1. Susan Sto Helit

        One of them lost a close family member a month or so before deadline, which does explain some (though not all) of the delay from their end, and did merit some sensitivity from us in terms of how soon and how firmly we started pushing for delivery. I do think it’s time to start building bonus clauses for timely delivery into contracts though.

  28. ThatGirl

    I sympathized somewhat with the LW earlier this week whose husband got super cranky every time he had to job search.

    My husband has been at the same job for 7 years now, and he’s good at it, and he likes the environment (small university, he’s an LPC) but the pay is low and stagnant (in fact he took a paycut last year) and the administration is dysfunctional. The problem is there aren’t a lot of these jobs out there, despite there being a decent amount of colleges and universities out there, and he’s bad at networking, not to mention not terribly motivated to job search. Things are just bad enough to make him unhappy but just good enough to keep him from doing anything about it. Combine that with cyclical depression.

    The good news is he doesn’t really take it out on me, but I definitely get frustrated sometimes by his lack of motivation.

    1. There is a Life Outside the Library

      Yeeeahhh, I kinda felt that one too. My husband has been with his job for 10 years (it sounds like a relationship?) and I recently moved for a new job. He was/is fine with looking for a new job, but has been off the market for SO long that I think it’s just kinda hitting him that the job search is not easy. I feel bad and feel like I’m the one putting him through it. Blahh.

    2. Jennifer

      I have similar issues. I’m not terribly motivated to job search when all I see are the same few crap jobs offered over and over again that I don’t want to do and/or am not qualified for.

      1. The New Wanderer

        I’m the out of work spouse and it does suck. I’m doing what I can but i see the same jobs posted that I am qualified for, have applied to, and hear nothing. Like, I could have been working there for six months and been completely up to speed by now but please do keep waiting for that 20-something unicorn who you think can do it all for half my salary expectations.

        The worst is that one of the job sites just posted a job that sounds great for me… and on the company website, the application cycle ended in January of this year. I know for a fact it was never posted earlier and I haven’t changed my search criteria. Wtf?

        1. Working Hypothesis

          Is it possible that deadline is a typo or got left in by mistake from a previous post or something? I’d try applying anyway, if it is physically possible to do so (i.e. unless the website issue means that you can’t click through the the application or something), just on the chance that this is something as simple as a posting error.

  29. Matilda Jefferies

    Quick question for PhD students and other researchers:

    I’m not on the REB at my organization, but I do review research proposals, and occasionally have some email conversations directly with the researchers. What’s the social convention for ending these conversations, once I have everything I need and am sending the proposal back to the REB? Is it appropriate to say “Best of luck with your research,” or similar?

    1. fposte

      I honestly can’t even remember what people have said. Your signoff sounds fine, or “Let me know if you need anything else.” Anything short of “You suck and I hope your project goes down in flames” is probably fine.

      1. Matilda Jefferies

        Ha! I would be lying if I told you I had never had that thought…fortunately I’ve also never put it in an email!

    2. Princess of Pure Reason

      I’m an IRB associate chair and I think “Best of luck” would probably be fine. What should be avoided is any language that might imply any kind of endorsement/approval of the research. Even though you know you’re not on the REB and not be part of the group issuing the determinations, you don’t want the researchers reading anything into your communications and extrapolating even an implication of a determination. I’ve seen it happen where a researcher/staff reads something as an approval or endorsement and then the official determination is different – and they come back with “But so-and-so said it was okay!” even when that’s not what so-and-so meant or said at all. But “Best of luck” is pretty neutral and generic and I’d say neutrality is key.

      1. Matilda Jefferies

        I’m definitely going for neutral, and also “I can’t answer any more of your questions from this point.” So I’m looking for something polite but final. Thanks for the confirmation!

    3. epi

      I have been in this position– I was the contact for a board that had to review research proposals before the IRB and determine that the part we would be doing was safe and practical. Think representing a lab, and we would have to say we have the resources to do the tests in the protocol and the tests are appropriate. When I inherited that job, we were seen as really hard to work with, so I was also trying to be extra pleasant and responsive to fix that.

      I would not wish people luck. If the protocol is well-designed– or even if it has some issues but the researchers behave professionally about making the needed revisions– then eventual approval is not exactly a crapshoot. I usually signed off the same as I would in any other situation: telling them the next step I or they would take and signing “Thank you” or “Best”. If appropriate, I might add that they should feel free to reach back out once the study was beginning, if they needed help setting up the procedures that our department would be doing.

      1. Matilda Jefferies

        Thanks! I definitely want to be pleasant and responsive, and also to firmly close the conversation at the point that I’m sending that email. I do often say just “thanks,” but that was feeling too curt, so I’ve been looking for a way of acknowledging the project they’re about to do.

        1. TL -

          You can also try a version of, “You’re good to move on to Next Step, but if you run into any issues, please let me know. Best, Matilda”

  30. kracken

    I either need a dose of reality or some sense that I can achieve this.

    I really don’t want to work full-time. I’m exhausted all the time and I can’t do any of the activities I enjoy because I either have to work or rest up for work. I also kind of don’t see the point. I’m busting my ass but I’ll never make enough money to buy a house, retire, or send a kid to college. I just find myself wondering why I’m working so hard and sacrificing so much now when it seems like I’ll never benefit from it the way I might have in another time.

    So I would like to work 32 hours a week. I have a lot of friends who work 32 hour weeks after previously working 40 hour weeks and they have all said it is the best thing that could have happened to them. They do better at their jobs and have time to actually live their lives. The thing is, they all work in food service or retail, and don’t make nearly as much money as I do and do not have benefits. And that’s the thing- I want to work 32 hours a week, make the same amount of money I do now ($45,000/year) and have health insurance.

    Is this unrealistic of me to expect? I am a legal assistant/paralegal. I’m still early in my career and recognize I probably don’t have the experience to be making demands like this just yet, but maybe when I’ve got 3-5 years of experience? I’m willing to wait and take my time on a job search, and while staying in the legal field seems like the path of least resistance I’m more than willing to go outside that industry if it gets me where I want to be. Or do I just need to suck it up, deal with these 40 hour weeks, and hope that someday I make enough money for it all to be worthwhile?

    1. Alternative Person

      Being in a position to work fewer hours is what I’m currently working towards for various reasons but it’s required me to take on more work in the short-medium term because reliability is the key factor in getting contracts, and I’ve had to shell out more money than I really want to think about getting on-paper qualifications to match my experience (which I’d have had to do sooner or later anyway). Hopefully, in a year or two, I’ll be able to work a core of 25-30 hours for more money than I make now (for 35-40 hours work) and pick up other jobs as and when I want.

      I think it might be worth doing some research into what you can reasonably expect in and around your field over what amount of time and then decide accordingly. There might be a parallel field you can switch to that offers the conditions you want or it might be a matter of getting certain certifications that will make that range possible.

    2. whistle

      I think it will be very hard to find a 32 hour a week job period (let alone with benefits and the pay you are expecting). I don’t think it should be this way, but that’s the reality. (I read an interview with Kurt Vonnegut once where he described his writing routine that consisted of 35 hours a week of work. He stated that no one should work more than 35 hours a week, and that has stuck with me and I agree with it. I still work 42-45 hours a week, though, because that’s how it is.)

      I actually think your best bet is to get in with a smallish/family business full time and excel in the position for a couple of years. Then propose that they drop you down to 32 hours, which they might go for because you are doing great work and smallish businesses have the flexibility to work these types of things out. I know this is a long game and not a very satisfying answer.

      ( I am assuming you are in the US)

    3. Jessi

      I think it is a bit unrealistic to work 32 and still make the same amount of money…… You’d only be doing 80% of the work, so why would your employer still pay you for 100% of the job? Could you move somewhere cheaper so your money will go further and you will feel like you are achieving something?

      One way to jump around this could be to wait for your next promotion/ pay rise and then bring up the option of working 32 hours as that may help mitigate some of the loss of wage? Look for a new position that only needs 32 hours per week? Could you shuffle your schedule around in such a way that you have more time? (half your lunch break, work extra each day and take a short friday)

      I guess you could become a contractor? then you would set your own hours and only work 32 of them – that won’t help with the health insurance thing though.

    4. Lucky

      Do you want your 32 hours to be a 4-day work week, or do you want to work 5 shorter days? If the former, you may want to see if your current employer will let you switch to 4 10-hour days. Yes, those days will be longer, but the extra day off can mean you feel fully able to disconnect from work for most of the weekend.

      If 5 shorter days, you may want to approach your current employer and ask if they are willing to let you go part-time. You should expect a pay cut, but if you can show that you work efficiently (and if you can be flexible on your start/end times) that cut may not be a full 20%. Or, look for a new position that pays better, then indiciate you want part-time in your cover letter (or in interviews – check the archives as I’m sure that Alison has dealt with this).

      1. Salad

        If 10-hour days seem too long you could also propose 4 9-hour days (Mon-Thur), and every other Friday off. The Fridays you work would be 8-hour days for a total of 80 hours over 2 weeks. I do this (just work through my lunch hour) and LOVE it.

        1. nonegiven

          DH’s work does this. They count noon Friday to noon Friday as their working week to make it legal, (they hope.) Everyone loves it but I think they could go back to 8 hour days if they didn’t. They’re paid once a month, so it doesn’t really affect the paychecks.

    5. Xarcady

      Another option might be to find work that you can do for 40 hours a week that doesn’t leave you exhausted.

      That doesn’t give you more time to do the things you want to, I’ll admit, but when you do have the time, you would be able to do what you wanted to do.

    6. Wanna Be PT

      Your best bet is probably to work your way up until your salary is 20% higher than it is now, then you may be able to take a 20% cut in both time and pay. So you’d be back to making $45k but working 4 days a week (or the equivalent divided up however your employer agrees.)

      Lifestyle inflation is a real, big thing though so I would automatically save any raises so you continue to live on the same amount of money.

      Look around for companies that seem flexible with time and make a move now if needed. You will likely need time to prove yourself to a new employer before you make a big ask like this.

      (It shouldn’t be a big ask and I wish that the US was more accepting of part time work as a valid life choice, but the reality is just not there right now.)

      Benefits are a whole different question – it can be done but again, you’ll have to negotiate. You may need to pay a higher percentage of the costs yourself. Or explore your options in the marketplace (if you dip below full time hours you might be eligible for more options) and factor any increased costs into your decision about how high your salary needs to be before it can be cut to match your desired hours.

      1. Bagpuss

        I think this is what it comes down to. You can work to get a higher wage, save the difference so you don’t get used to having the higher income, then request a reduction in hours.

        Alternatively you can look at your financial options to see whether you could afford to take a pay cut now, and work shorter hours but accept that it means earning less.

        You could also consider whether there is anything you could do to boost your income any hobby you can monetise, so if you do cut your hours you could make back some of the lost income from other sources, in ways you might find less stressful. (but I’d be surprised if your could close the gap this way, it would probably need to be part of a bigger plan involving cutting your outgoings as well

    7. neverjaunty

      It’s not unrealistic; you will need to be careful about what area of law and firm you are at (it IS unrealistic if you were working in civil litigation, for example).

      1. kracken

        lol that is exactly the area of law I’m working in. I figured I would need to leave that behind if I want a more part-time schedule which is fine, I’m not in love with civil litigation and have wanted to explore other areas for some time. Any thoughts on what areas of law I should be targeting instead? The only one I’m 100% opposed to is family law.

        1. neverjaunty

          What about corporate practices (not on the litigation side) or estates and trusts? Any area of that that isn’t trial-focused would probably fit.

          1. CTT

            It can be unrealistic for corporate as well, depending on what sort of work it is. Transactions consistently close at the end of the month, and from my experience of being a corporate paralegal, having a non-attorney around full time is essential for a closing.

    8. Neuro Nerd

      You might consider looking for work with a solo practice or small firm where they don’t produce enough work for a full-time LA/paralegal. (My wife works at one such place, and they recently hired a paralegal who wanted part-time work so she could spend more time with her small child.)

      It can actually be quite difficult for small practices to find and keep LAs, since most people want full-time positions! The pay may not be what you’re looking for initially, but if you stick around and become indispensable, it could work out, or you could find that the pay drop is worth the improvement in your quality of life.

      Alternatively, you could consider fulltime work in a less intense environment. A difference in stress levels can make those 40 hours a week a lot less exhausting.

      1. LilySparrow

        As an ex-legal secretary, I agree that you should look at the type of firm and the type of law.

        Solo practitioners and small partnerships usually offer more flexibility in hours. But the pay and benefits are generally lower as well, unless you get into a very shiny boutique practice with a nice rich clientele.

        If you are in litigation, domestic relations/family law, or bankruptcy/foreclosure, get out. The stress levels are awful, and they churn clients so there’s always just one massive deadline after another. The best jobs I ever had were in corporate & tax, trusts & estates, and commercial real estate — there’s a bit of a crunch at year-end or if there’s a big deal closing, but the attorneys usually bill at a much cushier rate. That means a more manageable client load, long lead times, and a very predictable work process.

        The co-workers tend to be much more chill, also. Tax attorneys are more like CPA’s in temperament. Litigators tend to be drama queens.

    9. The Vulture

      I make that much, have very good health insurance and benefits (including significant additional PTO), and work a 35 hour work week – which is the norm for us/what is generally offered to staff here. But I am aware it is somewhat rare/not the norm. If you are exempt/hourly than you can reduce your hours down to 28/week for that much less of your per hour rate, keeping all the benefits and whatnot.

      So I’d say 35 at least is doable, though you’ll likely have to prioritize that in your search. This is a government agency. We do have legal-type positions and presumably paralegal positions as well. We list the hours and pay on our website with the job posting.

    10. Jules the 3rd

      So, 40hrs / week shouldn’t leave you exhausted all the time. In addition to the other tips here, make sure you visit your doctor and have a full workup, including:
      – Thyroid
      – Vitamin D
      – Maybe sleep apnea screening

      It would really suck a lot to drop hours / wage and *still* be tired.

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser

        +1. I had sleep apnea and anemia (at different times). Once I got those items, and my nutrition under control (I was coping with being tired by eating too much sugar and caffeine, which just exacerbated the problem)… it got better. And I got treated for depression and went through therapy. Life changing. It wasn’t the hours (I work more now, but love using my brain). It was everything else.

    11. Epsilon Delta

      I feel you so much on this one. I started out working at an office job about 25-30 hours per week right out of college and it really was the perfect amount for me, except that I could barely make ends meet. I did that for two years. I now work the standard 40+ hours a week and it’s tough. It seriously took at least a year to adjust physically (like I always felt antsy, hard to sit still that long, and I was wiped out after an 8 hour day). Now I am more or less used to it. You don’t say how long you’ve been working full time, but if it has been less than a year maybe see how you feel after a year or so has passed. You could also explore moving your start/end times to be earlier or later. Working 9-5 feels like a longer day to me than working 8-4. If working from home is an option you might try that. A bonus is that you can use your normal commute time to take care of some errands/quick chores, and then they are not looming over you when you get home that night (examples – do the dishes, sweep the floor, run to the post office).

      I don’t say all this to discourage you (because I totally share your sentiment that 40 hours a week is too much), but to give you options until you can find that 32-hour per week job. I will caution you to expect a lower salary, and probably a less prestigious or less senior role once you find that job though.

      One more thought. I know that my friends in healthcare have a lot more flexibility in their hours — both total number of hours worked, and also which shifts/days they work, but there always seem to be weekend hours required. They make around that $45,000 per year you mention, and they have benefits if they work 32+ hours per week. Something to consider if you don’t mind changing fields, but I know healthcare is not for everyone.

    12. Bea

      Wow, I’m not sure why you’re not feeling like you will be able to retire or create a college fund on that salary. Unless you’re in one of those high cost living locations where housing is over a thousand for a small studio. You’re in an industry that should have an IRA setup at least. I see why you’re frustrated.

      I agree that it’s possibly a medical issue. I’ve never known anyone without a labor intensive job or crazy hours to be exhausted after 40hrs. I think if it’s not physical, you may need to think about therapy to work through the exhaustion. Depression can cause that kind of physical drain on us.

    13. A Username For This Site

      So you’re working 40 hours, but how long is your workday (door-to-door)?

      I’ve had jobs where, 40 hours + commute is exhausting once you factor in prep for work plus commute plus work plus return commute plus unpacking and repacking for work the next day. You say you’re working 40 hours a week, but you have 10 or 11 hours a day spent on work or work-adjacent tasks because you’re constantly rushing to the next “thing” to be ready for work.

      Evaluate how you’re spending your work-adjacent time, you might be working a lot more than you realize.

    14. Whatsinaname

      It sounds like you’re already not earning enough money to sustain a reasonable middle class standard of living despite a high demand job. Why would you reduce your income even further by reducing your hours? Because it sounds that some of your feelings toward working full time are being driven by the fact that you’re not earning enough money to compensate for the misery of working. Therefore, reducing your hours to earn even less than before, might not be the solution. I have always hated working. I hate it so much that I decided the only thing that would compensate me for that would be to make as much money as possible and get the best benefits that I can get. That has worked pretty well for me. Because the reality is, we all need money to live, we need health insurance, retirement benefits, etc. My advice is to look more long term at where it is you’re trying to go versus finding a short term solution to your misery. Maybe you’re in the wrong career field, maybe it’s your current employer. But it doesn’t really sound like reducing your hours is what’s going to give you what you really need in the long term. Action have consequences, and while you’re still young you’re probably not thinking about retirement and the effect of a reduced income down the line. So, my bottom line advice is to step back and examine what is really causing your unhappiness and address the root cause versus using a band aid approach. And good luck.

    15. Thlayli

      The only 2 ways I can think of are:
      1 stick with the 40 hour weeks and move up till you reach a salary of ~ 56k, then drop to 4 days a week for 45k.
      2 drop to 4 days a week now for ~36k, then work your way up till you are earning 45k for 4 days a week.

      Either way, you will have to be good enough to convince your boss that you are worth keeping on for only 4 days a week.

    16. Violet

      Have you considered nursing as a career? Nurses typically work more than 32 hours a week, but they can work fewer days – many hospital nurses work 4 10-hour shifts a week, so they are off 3 days. And honestly, as a nurse you can work as many or as few hours as you want if you do PRN (as needed; they make more money hourly but do not receive benefits). A nurse’s average hourly wage is around $30, which is over $45,000 if you work 32 hours a week, 50 weeks a year. But in some cities nurses can make a lot more than that.

      If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you can get a nursing degree with 14-18 months of additional schooling in an accelerated BSN program (once you complete the prerequisites).

      Of course…you have to like nursing.

    17. ManderGimlet

      I am (and have been) in the exact same position you are in and it’s very difficult depending on your field. If you are able to let go of your 32 hours happening between Monday and Friday and during daytime hours, you have a much likelier chance of getting more flexible scheduling. Medical jobs (nursing, xray tech, etc) tend to have very flexible schedules and may be worth going for a certification if it means long-term freedom over your time.

    18. Kate Daniels

      I could’ve written this comment! This work week was great with Wednesday off and I wish it were this way every week. My dream would be able to drop to 80% (and I’d be completely willing to take the 20% pay cut), but I’m working toward loan forgiveness with the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which requires full-time work to remain eligible. So, sadly, my dose of reality is the fact that I won’t be able to do this for the next nine years.

    19. ..Kat..

      Can you cut the time you spend doing other things? Job with a shorter commute? Pay someone to clean your home?

  31. Dotty

    Does anyone have any tips on maintaining successful friendships at work – I’m a senior manager, friends with a supervisor (Alice) in a completely separate department. Recently she’s shared some concerning things about her manager, Bill. She’s shared with me as a friend, when we’ve gone on lunch – but I equally can’t ignore what she’s shared. That’s a separate minefield! But I need to reinsert some kind of boundaries into our friendship but is a “no work talk ever” realistic?

    1. Lumen

      I’d just talk to Alice and let her know that general work talk is fine, but if you hear something concerning, you will need to _____ [whatever the appropriate action is for you to take]. It gives her a heads up; she needs to be the one in control of what she chooses to tell you, but it’s fair to let her know what you may need to do with certain information so she can make that choice.

      It’s also okay (I believe) to gently interrupt someone with a “I’m sorry; I’m not comfortable hearing this about Bill because [reasons]. Can we change the subject?”

      It depends a lot on what she’s sharing with you. Is it conduct that needs to be reported to HR or will it just make you look at Bill differently?

  32. amethyst

    Ethics of resigning when your boss is about to return from holiday? Timing-wise I need to do it ASAP… but I don’t want to be That Person.

    1. Graciosa

      The most important rule is that you provide adequate professional notice (2 week minimum). You don’t need to apologize for that. Reasonable managers understand that Stuff Happens, and sometimes while we’re on vacation. Part of the reason we’re paid more is to compensate for the different nature of the job.

      That said, you can look at other options your manager has put in place during her absence. I once had an employee provide notice to my manager while I was out on vacation, which was absolutely fine. The tone was definitely “Graciosa is on vacation and I’m not sure I should disturb her for this, but I wanted to provide appropriate notice to the company,” and my boss just matter-of-factly took care of the things I would have had to do (notify HR, put in a replacement req, etc.).

      I can also see going directly to HR – or calling the boss on vacation. Or sending an email and copying either or both of the potential alternates, with proper apologies in the email for her being on vacation. I would have been fine with any of the above, but you know your boss’ preferences best and probably have an idea of her relationship with her boss.

      If you do something reasonable to get notice in promptly, you don’t have to apologize for it. I presume you did not set out to get another job just for the pleasure of having an excuse to ring your boss while she’s out (and even if you did, no one will ever know unless you say so!).

      Accepting notice is just a normal part of her job – get over the guilt.

    2. CAA

      If you can, wait until your boss returns and then give 2 weeks notice (assuming you are in the U.S. and don’t have other contractual requirements). If waiting would mean giving less than 2 weeks, then you either call your boss while she’s on vacation, send her an email if you know she’ll see it, or tender your resignation to the person who is above her in the hierarchy or HR. It depends on your relationship with your boss and how you think she’d want to hear it. You can apologize for the poor timing but don’t wait to communicate if that means you’ll be giving less than 2 weeks notice.

    3. Rey

      I think when you tell your boss depends on their personality. Some managers will want to know ASAP while other managers will want an uninterrupted vacation. I assume that the timing is ASAP because you have another offer, so if you don’t email your boss now, schedule a time on their first day back in the office so that you can let them know. This doesn’t have to be long, and if their schedule is exceptionally packed, keep it as short as possible to notify them, and establish a time to meet again to review a list of your current projects and how you will transition them. I would soften it using language like, “I know this isn’t the best timing as you’re just back from holiday” to acknowledge the inconvenience without saying “I’m sorry” or offering to extend your timeline. Remember that employees coming and going is part of doing business so you should stay firm with whatever YOUR desired timeline is, especially if your next job has already set a start date. And give your boss time/space to take in that information. Just because they don’t immediately congratulate you on your new position doesn’t mean that they’re upset, just that they’re adjusting and considering their next steps.

      1. amethyst

        Thanks for the tips everyone! I’ve put in a meeting request with my boss for the first day she’s back. I think face-to-face would work better for us.

  33. Mikasa Ackerman

    I just graduated with my B.S in Accounting in May. I did not have a job lined up like everyone else, so I’m still looking. I sent in my CPA exam application to the CBA, and I am about to buy a review course. I hope I can make myself more marketable. ($3,000 for all this *cries*)
    Does anyone have any tips when it comes to the CPA exam and looking for work? I’m so worried I won’t meet the experience requirement. Do you think the CPA exam was worth it? How did you network to get in with a firm?
    P.S. Thank you to those who gave advice on my anxiety in school when I thought I wouldn’t even make it to graduation. I did it!

    1. BeenThere

      The CPA is an honored credential and will open many doors for you! I can’t give you any tips on taking it, other than to prepare prepare prepare! But you will never regret it once you have it!

    2. imanaccountant

      CPA Here – it’s been more years since I’ve taken the exams than I’d like to admit….

      1) work experience: I would apply for any job that has a 1-3 years experience range. Some of this will be market dependent, mine is super competitive for candidates, so employers will basically take what they can get.
      2) Where to apply: I would apply mid-size local/regional firms, and any corporate posting you come across. Just make sure your supervisor is a CPA, otherwise you can’t get certified.
      3) Resume: Change it to say “CPA eligible” this way as you pass parts of the exam, you can talk about that in an interview.
      4) Exam: This test is not hard, it just contains an inhuman amount of information, it’s just a numbers game of how much time you can dedicate to drilling multiple choice questions.
      5) Was it worth it – yes absolutely, all of the higher paying jobs require a CPA. I’m happily settled into my career and making 6 figures, a salary I would never be able to command without my CPA. I’m under 30.

      1. Mikasa Ackerman

        Thank you so much for the advice! The exam bullet point makes me feel better. I have two internships. One at a small tax firm (mom and pop) and one at a bank in the compliance department. I was at both for 4 months each, so I don’t have a year. I’m worried it’s not enough, but I’m trying to make it sound good.

    3. Former Retail Manager

      The CPA is well worth it. Definitely do it and don’t be discouraged if you fail a section or 2 (or 4)….just study some more and try again. As for experience, this really depends on what you want to do. If you don’t already have a job, I am assuming that you are not interested in Big 4. If you want to get some experience and work while studying, and money is not super important, I’d suggest trying to start with a smaller firm. They pay less, but there is also less stress, they tend not to mind that you don’t already have your CPA, and you can often get some pretty good mentoring/one-on-one help (occasionally) from someone with decades of experience. You mention being worried about not making it to graduation, so I am assuming that your GPA is not a 4.0. Again, small firms don’t tend to care too much about this. Also, don’t rule out Government positions or corporate. Best of luck! You can do it! And congrats on graduation!

      1. Mikasa Ackerman

        I wasn’t interested in Big 4 at first, but now I feel it would be one of the best ways to meet the 1-year experience requirement. It would cover everything I need. But I truly would like to work for the government, preferably the city. That was always my goal. I graduated with a 3.896. It used to be 3.93, until audit class. I was so scared I would fail that class. Good idea to look at smaller firms while studying. I’m looking at temp agencies, like Accountempts, too. Thank you for the motivation! You pumped me up! I feel like Rocky when he’s training haha

    4. MissCPA

      Congrats! I took an internship even though I hadn’t wanted to and then was offered a full-time job afterwards at a large firm (not Big4 but close) and they paid for my review course. I used Becker and it definitely over-prepared me for the exam. As for where to apply, I’d recommend a more local or regional CPA firm to get some experience in public as, IMO, it’s the best place to launch your career. After 5 years in public I made a fantastic switch to private and actually got a raise in doing so. I was lucky that my job allowed me to study at work if I had nothing else to do, but I managed to pass a couple sections while working full-time, so it is totally do-able. I was very nervous for my first test, but it was not really as bad as I had planned for. Just do all your homework and take a practice exam and you will do just fine! Congrats!!!!

      1. Mikasa Ackerman

        I wish I knew about Big 4 and internships when I was at community college. It wasn’t till I transferred that everyone was talking about it. It’s so cool that you got a full-time offer! Thank you for the advice to keep looking in public. Everyone says Big 4 is the only way to go, but I just want to meet that experience requirement. It would stink to pay thousands for the exam and then not get the right experience. Thank you for the great advice!

        1. imanaccountant

          If this helps your decision making process – Big4 offers a 5K bonus for passing your exams.

    5. ronda

      I took the exam shortly after college and took a review course before. I found it helpful in motivating me to do all the studying and practice stuff. But if you are a person who likes to do self-study that might work better for you.

      I did work in industry instead of for a CPA firm, so when I finally applied for the license (I think maybe it required 7 yrs of industry experience in my state) my bosses had changed and I actually had to get a different manager in the department to sign off for me. He gave me a little bit of trouble about it, but knew me enough to agree to do it after I talked to him for a while.

      So being at a CPA firm is probably going to be the easiest way to get the license going. — but there is not just the big 4 — the small firms would be able to do it in the shorter timeframe too.

      Once you have the licence…. the continuing professional education requirements kick-in. I did finally give up my license cause I didnt do the education requirement and the job I do now does not require the CPA

  34. HKM

    I have just been assigned to a new project. On my previous one, I had three direct reports, and we did a great job together. Unfortunately, I cannot take any of them to my new project, and my new report has been assigned to it for a while.
    This new report seems great, but she keeps asking me if I’ve done things and requesting information from me – like we’ve swapped roles. I know I’m new to the project and I’m not asking for deference but how do I address this?

    I also have a bit of imposter syndrome – my bosses told me they wanted me on this new project becauae of how well my last one did but I just feel completely out of my depth and like I’m about to let the company down at any moment. It might be that I’m unsure and overwhelmed so she’s just doing what she’s used to.

    1. K VonSchmidt

      HKM, you can do this! As your bosses said, you did a great job before. As far as your new report, maybe set the tone by setting boundaries. So say you’re only open to take questions at a meeting time that you schedule. This way you’re controlling the setting and delivery. Run it like a project meeting, and push back if it’s something your report can do.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Maybe the two of you can just talk a little bit about stuff you have done, that way you will each have a better foundation to talk to each other. It sounds like she is not sure of your background and does not want to be an assuming jerk about things.

    3. Bex

      Are your report’s tasks dependent on things from your workstream? Or is she asking for info so that she can do her work? I don’t really see anything there that needs to be addressed, unless her requests are rude or somehow egregious

  35. Time to get that arranged marriage my parents want

    I am tired of job postings not listing a salary range, and as of yesterday have decided to not apply for any jobs like that.

    On a related note, I got a callback for a job interview yesterday – after doing a bit of research, it seems that it’s highly unlikely that this job will pay enough. My minimum is 30k – jobs similar to this one pay 25K or less for entry level. Should I cancel the interview? I want to ask directly how much the salary would be right now, but I know that’s a no-no. On the other hand, I don’t want to waste time preparing for an interview that probably won’t go anywhere.

    1. straws

      If you’re willing to forego the interview if the salary isn’t enough, then it may be worth asking up front even though it’s not the norm. Maybe instead of asking them for their range, which could be taken the wrong way, you could say that you’re looking for a range around $30k and does that fit with what they envision for this role?

      1. Time to get that arranged marriage my parents want

        That’s a great way to phrase it, thanks!

      2. BF50

        This is what I did during my last job hunt. I said it wasn’t worth missing work to interview unless the pay was in the range of $X. I was offered $X+$3k.

        Doing that does limit your negotiation abilities later in the process. If you said you were looking for a range of $30k, it’s a lot harder to ask for $35k, so you need to have done your research and be comfortable that you are not undervaluing yourself.

    2. Ali G

      Man if I didn’t apply to any jobs that had no posted salary I would have nothing to apply to! I think I’ve seen maybe 3? Typically the ones that do list ranges are too low for me, anyway.
      It’s so annoying, especially because I get interest and then as soon as salary comes up is like radio silence.
      One thing I really don’t understand is how employers think they can pay someone like $30k a year in one of the most expensive areas of the country in 2018. When I was just coming out of grad school in 2003 I was making $40k at entry level. So, all things being equal, an entry level position similar to mine in 2003 should be paying at least $55k. It’s super annoying to apply, get a phone interview and then find out they only want to pay less than I was making 15 years ago.

      1. Anonymosity

        Tell me about it. If I can’t make enough to save up, I can’t move to a place with more/better jobs–but nothing pays enough here for me to save up. And then I job search where I want to go, but they’re not paying much better. How does anyone live, even with roommates? Which I am too old for, btw.

    3. MissGirl

      The vast majority of job postings don’t list salary range. The previous interviews I’ve went on a range was brought up in the first contact. By not applying, you’re only hurting yourself and could be losing out on a great opportunity. Sounds like you’re entry level and at the stage you really don’t have the clout to push back on this.

      It’s frustrating and they should list it but that’s the way it is. At least apply and then perhaps ask if there’s a range in the interview stage.

      1. Time to get that arranged marriage my parents want

        It just seems like a lost cause because only once so far has the employer brought up salary up front. The other times, they try to pull a “what salary range are you looking for” during the interview, and subsequently end up ghosting me when I tell them my minimum. I would rather not go through the stress of prepping for an interview when my experience so far tells me that it’s not worth it.

        1. MissGirl

          That’s interviewing. There’s no getting around it. Both sides will have to go through part of the process until either gets to a ‘no’. Both sides expend time. Every interview is “worth it” if you look at it from the standpoint of practice and gaining experience. The more you do this, the less stressful each will become.

          I get how frustrating it is, but until you’re higher level you don’t have the clout to push back on this. I’m ten years in, and I still have to go through the same process.

    4. OperaArt

      In California, a new rule went into effect this year: “An employer, upon reasonable request, shall provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant applying for employment.”
      I don’t know if you’re here, but if you are, this might be useful to you.
      Also, as part of the same law potential employers may not ask about your previous salaries.

  36. Woah Nelly

    Removed. Please stop wasting people’s time here. (This is from someone who keeps submitting fake scenarios.)

    1. Ali G

      I second actual phobia therapy, if it hasn’t been done already. Phobias are different than just anxiety issues. There are people out there trained to work through a phobia and help you deal with it. I saw a phobia therapist when I suddenly developed crippling anxiety while flying, and I had to fly a lot for my job. I’m not fixed, but I am able to fly now without having a total meltdown.

    2. Woah Nelly

      We deal with clients and vendors and customers so the hours are set and we can’t adjust or flex them because we need to be available to provide support. We all have to start and leave at the same time, even the managers. The company is not eligible for FMLA and I asked about getting time off but it would be unpaid and I can’t afford to do it. Our cubes are not the kind that can have doors. Two of the walls are about 5 feet high and the other two are 2.5/3 feet. The walls are made of fabric. I can’t see the dog or the person with the dog because of the cube walls already. I asked my boss about the vacation time thing but my boss doesn’t manage him and doesn’t know when he is off. She said she can’t tell me anything about his work schedule because I wanted to take my PTO after him for that reason but she couldn’t tell me anything. I appreciate that you answered and tried to help.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      Just to clarify — if the allergies rose to ADA-protection, they’d be protected too; someone else’s accommodations wouldn’t trump them just because their condition was more serious. The company would be required to enter into an interactive process with both people to find a solution.

      1. Susan Sto Helit

        Yes, I worded it poorly. My assumption was that while all reasonable efforts would be made to make accommodation, getting rid of the dog would just not be something that would be on the table – because for the co-worker, that’s not reasonable. I may be entirely wrong about that though!

        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          That was my assumption as well, but I suppose it’s a moot point since it was a fake scenario. Some people have too much time on their hands.

  37. straws

    Thoughts on hiring in a tiny company with less diversity than desired? We’re 15 people, and while we’ve rarely been an all white company, we typically only have 1 or 2 minorities on staff (right now there is 1). We’d like to increase diversity, but we also don’t want to reject our top candidates just because they’re white and the 2nd choice isn’t. We’ve run into this a few times over the past few years: we attract a diverse candidate set and have a good mix for interviews, but the top candidate is always significantly better and not a minority. How can we balance out being fair while still increasing diversity when this happens?

    1. Time to get that arranged marriage my parents want

      I don’t mean to be…I don’t know, but as a person of color looking for jobs for the first time, 3 out of 5 of my interview callbacks so far have been other people of color – and it’s not like I’m applying in particularly diverse areas. Leaving anecdotes aside, studies show that people with ‘ethnic names’ are less likely to get callbacks.

      What I’m trying to say is, it’s really unlikely that your top candidates all happen to be white. Unconcious biases always affect the hiring process.

      1. Arielle

        This. If the applicants are diverse but the “best” candidate is always white, I would encourage the OP to evaluate how they’re defining “significantly better” and whether biases might play into how they’re defining a good candidate.

        1. Leena Wants Cake

          This is a great point. A lot of the usual markers of candidate “quality” (schools attended, prior jobs and internships held, cultural “fit”, etc. are those that routinely privilege white (and sometimes, male) candidates over people of color who might be just as capable of performing the same job. Maybe find alternate methods to assess the qualities that you need in a good candidate?

        2. Violet

          I came to say the same thing. You may need to broaden your definition of what “best” or “top qualities” are, particularly if your field is a white-dominated one that historically has trouble attracting minorities.

      2. straws

        This is definitely what I’m afraid of, but I’m not entirely certain how to address it. The top candidate isn’t always white, but that’s frequently the case. I can’t vouch for every hiring process we’ve had, but the past few times this has occurred, I do feel like the top candidate was the better option due to specific skills we were looking for or something that was said in the interview. The last hire we had was not white, but prior to that our top candidate was a minority and our 2nd choice was white. However, during the final interview our top choice stated that she was only going to be around for another year or less and would need to move on. 2nd choice was a very close 2nd, so that was the decision. The time before that our top candidate was far and away better than everyone else who applied in education, experience, performed amazing on the skills test, interviewed well, etc.

        I can’t shake the feel that there IS some bias somewhere, but I guess I’m struggling with how to pinpoint it? For the record, I don’t participate in every hiring process, but I do oversee the process so I’m able to review everything that’s going on and can intervene if necessary.

        1. Time to get that arranged marriage my parents want

          A good way to help alleviate the problem is to have someone remove the names and addresses from the tops of resumes before sending them to the hiring manager.

          Also, maybe hiring managers should be given some training on what constitutes a top candidate. For example, are you viewing someone with a degree from Howard or Morehouse as less qualified compared to someone with a degree from a predominantly white ‘elite’ school? Are you viewing someone who does relevant work in your city’s Hispanic community center as less qualified than someone who does the same work elsewhere?

          1. straws

            I’ve been looking into ways to remove names/addresses. We use an online collection system for resumes, so it’s frequently in digital pdf format and stored in a location where all of the hiring team can access. This thread already has me starting down a path of figuring out how to “game” that system though, so I’m hoping I can come up with something that will work for everyone by the next time we hire!

            We don’t weigh education very heavily, so that has probably helped us, and if anything community work is seen as a positive for everyone that’s been on our hiring teams lately, regardless of what kind. But, these are definitely things to look out for, so they’re added to my list.

        2. Ann O.

          I’m not sure there is clear bias if the top candidate for 2 out of the 3 of your last hires have been PoC.

          I don’t want to give you absolution and say to stop thinking about this because you absolutely should continue thinking about this, but is it possible your staffing issues are a legacy of starting as a non-diverse small company? If so, that may take time to significantly address unless you’re planning a growth spurt… how much turnover can there be in a 15 person company?

          And a bit of a tangent, but if you’re not already doing this, I’d encourage you to also look at retention rates. The wording in your original post suggests change in who those 1-2 PoC on staff have been. Are you losing your PoC hires at a faster rate than your non-PoC hires? If so, there may be issues with company culture that you can address on that front.

          1. straws

            These are some really good points. Our company was started by a group of (non-diverse) friends, and initially there was a lot of referrals and friends coming on board. Mostly due to low pay. Now that we’re able to pay at a more decent rate, we do have some catching up to do. Hopefully having a diverse pool of top candidates is a sign that we’re going in the right direction.

            You’re correct that we don’t have a lot of turnover. When we do, it’s at low-t0-mid levels and generally because of the difficulty of moving up at a small company. We’re very open about this, so it’s almost always on good terms and with a lot of well wishes. I don’t think that there’s a faster “leave rate” with our PoC hires, but I’m going to take a fresh look at some of the retention stats. I do think that we’re pretty lucky with our current staff in the company culture area. While there’s broad range of political beliefs, I’ve never seen or heard anything that indicates racist beliefs or leanings from anyone.

            1. Violet

              I’m a woman of color who works in tech. Retention isn’t all about overt racist or discriminatory beliefs, though; it’s about a culture and feeling of belongingness vs. one where you feel ostracized or like an outsider. It’s a VERY difficult thing to see/think about/feel if you aren’t a person of color, so I don’t blame you at all. It can be things like:

              -At least initially, wondering what my coworkers think/how they will react of my natural hair (or also, getting endless questions about it)
              -Maintaining my ‘code’ of standard English and living in fear of accidentally slipping into vernacular English, and/or wondering what coworkers will think if I do
              -Being the only person of color in the room every. single. time. (including many of the industry events and networking mixers and such that I go to). Being highly visible is stressful!
              -When race is discussed in the room, having everyone swivel around to look at me
              -Going to a karaoke morale event and feeling oddly left out because I don’t know much of the music they are singing, and they don’t know any of my favorites
              -Looking up and noticing that there aren’t (m)any role models for me in the senior levels of my company (not even just not a woman of color, which I don’t expect, but even many women. Or people of color. At all.)
              -In my city, having to look really hard to find a community of people who share my culture

              None of these are overtly racist or even racist at all; they’re byproducts of being the only one or one of a very few, but they are stressful and wear on you over time. I love my job and my city and even I have had thoughts about leaving because of the sense of isolation I often have being the only woman of color.

              That’s how you could potentially have a cultural issue that affects retention while still having a really excellent staff. A place has to be deliberately inclusive, not just avoid being exclusive.

              1. straws

                Your whole post outlines one of the biggest struggles that we do and/or will have. Obviously it’s important to make sure that we’re not being unconsciously biased somehow. But even if I can confirm that we’re not and improve how we advertise ourselves, we’re still a tiny company of mostly white people. Short of a major growth spurt (which, while nice, isn’t expected) or replacing half of the company, any person of color that we hire has to overcome what you’ve outlined. So even though we’re a very welcoming & open company and I want to make sure that comes across in any job postings, every candidate is still going to walk into most of the interviews to sit down with white interviewers. So that’s one of the hurdles that I’ll need to address.

                On the bright side, gender equality hasn’t been an issue for us. At times women have outnumbered men, and our senior staff is equally weighted across gender and age. So we at least don’t have the “old white men club” vibe going on.

        3. Thlayli

          It sounds like the sample size is tiny – with only 2 or 3 hires, the fact that the person who eventually ended up being hired was always white is not statistically significant – you would need a much larger number of hires to have evidence of implicit bias. I’m Assuming your American? Consider this: 62% of the population of America is white, so if you just randomly pulled names out of a hat containing the names of every American, there’s a 24% chance the first three you pull out would all be white (0.62 x 0.62 x 0.62). Since you mention education, you are probably looking at degree-educated people. Sadly, the gap in educational achievement between white and non-whites is huge in the states. I couldn’t find exact numbers but it’s fair to say that pulling names out of a hat containing all the degree-educated Americans, there’s a pretty high chance you’d get 2-3 white people in a row.

          Which is all to say, the racism is endemic. It’s not the fault of your hiring practices. It’s the fault of history and society. You shouldn’t assume your hiring practices are racist just because you happen to have had 2-3 white hires in a row. Especially since you say the best person for one of the jobs was non-white but essentially took themselves out of the running by telling you they were going to leave shortly.

          All you can do is continue to try to attract diverse candidates, and stay vigilant against unconscious bias. I believe in America It is currently illegal to intentionally hire a non-white person above a white person, if the white person is more qualified. “affirmative action”
          like that was legal Once upon s time but isn’t now.

          1. straws

            These are valid points. I don’t necessarily think there’s racism at play in our hiring practices, but I do want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to be inclusive. I think Ann O. hit the core of the issue above. We have a legacy that we need to overcome, and I don’t want to leave it to chance that we successfully overcome it. Without a major growth spurt, that will be more difficult, but there are some great ideas from people to do just what you said: attract diverse candidate and stay vigilant against bias. Those are things that I can do, and having some new angles, ideas, and tools to apply is very exciting!

          2. Violet

            Respectfully, some of what you’re saying is true, but the meat of it is a often a cop-out reply that large companies in non-diverse industries use to explain/excuse their hiring practices.

            It’s true that there are systemic issues that contribute to disparities in hiring (college education being one), but it’s not true that all of those issues are systemic and that there’s nothing individual companies can do to counteract that, other than vaguely ‘trying to attract more diverse candidates.’

            Even that needs some unpacking – what, exactly, are companies doing to attract more diverse candidates? I worked with a company once on this issue and found that they were making a lot of assumptions that their minority candidates had the exact same needs and goals as their non-minority candidates, and that was actually preventing them from hiring and retaining minority candidates. Other companies aren’t really doing much besides maybe editing the pictures on their website.

            Staying vigilant against unconscious bias also goes deep. Lots of people have already commented on this broadly – that may mean revising your definition if “qualified” or “qualifications,” or making sure that all of the people in your hiring chain are thinking broadly.

    2. Washi

      I obviously don’t know much about your company, but some thoughts:

      1. Do you use any kind of hiring exercise for top candidates, or just interviews? People have an unconscious tendency to gravitate toward people like themselves, and sometimes with just interviews, you can end up liking a candidate based on that, even though another candidate might have similar technical ability.
      2. Do your job requirements in the ad line up with what the job actually requires? (classic example is requiring a BA when the degree isn’t that important.)
      3. Is the language itself in your job posting maybe turning off applicants? (I know you say you have a diverse pool, but it sounds like it needs to be even less skewed white) See: https://business.linkedinDOTcom/talent-solutions/blog/job-descriptions/2018/5-must-dos-for-writing-inclusive-job-descriptions
      4. Are you putting a lot of weight on referrals? White people tend to have predominantly white networks, and that will continue to skew your hiring if you are overly reliant on referrals.

      1. straws

        This article is great, thank you! We do use exercises, rarely include education as a requirement, and referrals are accepted but not weighted heavily. The latter was a prior practice that we dropped years ago, which I think has helped us in many ways.

        1. Cat Herder

          Can you work to bring in more POC candidates? Where are you posting the job ad? For instance, if you have an entry level position, are you sending it to career centers at nearby HBCUs? Have you reached out to these career centers to offer internships or externships? possibilities are professional organizations for POC, for example, Society of Black Engineers.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      If you’re noticing this as a pattern, it might be worth considering if there’s some bias going into your assessment of candidates. Is your (white) #1 choice really always that much better than your (non-white) #2 choice? Sure, it’s possible, but the more times that’s the pattern coming out of your hiring process, the more suspect it is.

    4. Admin of Sys

      (I’m operating under the assumption that you’ve done your best to compensate for internal biases and such)
      Any person you think of hiring has more traits than just the specific skill set you are looking for. If you are hiring a technical expert in, idk, sql database work, but the best skilled person doesn’t have the communication skills you are looking for, you might pick someone who is not quite as good at the dba bits but seems to have a better chance at explaining their needs to programmers. Similarly, if you might pick a project manager that is gregarious and outgoing because that fits your company culture best. As such, if you value diversity and the ideas and advantages that a diverse work culture brings, that’s just as important of a factor to consider as specific skills.

      1. straws

        This is a really good way of thinking about it. I think I struggled a bit with making race a quality, even though it was positive. Re-framing it to have diversity as a company value that we’re striving toward is a better angle to approach it from. It also works well for phrasing company goals.

    5. Lucky

      A few things I heard at a conference for diversity in legal hiring recently (and that some of the replies below/above have noted):

      If you aren’t getting enough diversity in candidates, you can reach out to professional or student organizations for POC and have them list your job on their job boards.
      When reviewing resumes, don’t give so much credit to internships, especially if you’re in a field where these are low or non-paid. Do give credit (esp. for new graduates/younger candidates) for prior work experience outside of your field.
      If your pool is large enough, make sure you have at least 2 candidates who are POC in your interview group. Some study (don’t have the citation) showed that if there is only 1 “diverse” candidate among white men/women, that candidate will not get chosen. If there are 2, 1 has a better chance. (Not just statistically, but I don’t recall the details).
      Use some white-out tape and cover the names on the resumes/cover letters before you review/send them to the committee for review.

      1. Jack Be Nimble

        +1 for reaching out to professional/student orgs for POC!

        I’d also ask how visible the non-white people are in your org. I am white, but I’m sure it can feel really alienating to go into a professional setting where it seems like you’d be the only person of color there. Comparing sexuality to race is apples to oranges, but as a queer person, I know I gravitate more toward organizations that seem to have other queer folks! Nobody wants to feel like the token minority.

      2. straws

        This is great. We’re located near a university, and while we advertise many jobs on the student job boards, I’ll have to see what other organizations are available to reach out to directly.

        We use an online system to gather resumes that is accessible to anyone on the hiring team, but I already have some ideas to “game” the online system and potentially reduce any bias from names.

      3. Violet

        +1 for reaching out to professional/student organizations for people of color. Since you say that you’re nearby a university, you might even go a step further than just listing the jobs and have someone from your company speak to a student group there or host a mixer for the students to come and visit your company and meet your coworkers.

        Those connections tend to run deep, and once you’ve got a few students who belonged to those orgs at least connected to you, they can often refer others.

    6. pleaset

      Don’t rely on word or mouth or your existing networks to recruit – that will perpetuate the problem. Instead, reach out more aggressively to sources with more minorities.

      Also, what TTGTAMPW said – check for unconscious biases.

      1. straws

        Thankfully, relying on referrals was done away with a while ago. There are some great suggestions for where to reach out to on this thread, so I’m excited to branch out when we have our next recruitment effort.

    7. straws

      My day just exploded, but there’s some amazing feedback here. Some of it we’re already doing, which is extremely encouraging, and I’m excited to go through the rest and make a list to apply to our next hiring process. Thank you to all who responded!

    8. Tea, please

      When I was doing a lot of hiring and needed to hire a diverse staff because we were serving a diverse population, I had to rethink my expectations and see the experience of someone who is non-white (and for some industries–not male) as its own value add. I remember when the iPad came out, there were a lot of jokes that if a woman was on the team, it wouldn’t have had that name. Or when there is a racist graphic tee produced by a clothing company. Working with a diverse group of people, I’m constantly happily surprised about hearing about the different ways people think about things or solutions presented because of the different backgrounds. When you are surrounded by people who come from similar socio-economic, racial, ethnic, ability, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc backgrounds–it becomes an echo chamber that reinforces the idea of one common, valid experience as opposed to respecting the range of life experiences.

      I wonder if there was a way that you could ask interview questions to get at this. You are probably are already asking about problem solving skills. But there is a next step–like if there is something unique you bring to the table and how that helps you solve problems or gives you a different perspective (give an example of this). This needs to be a question asked of everyone and not in a way that it is clearly pointed at minority candidates.

      1. straws

        I love these question ideas. They could start some really interesting discussions across the board.

    9. Jennifer Thneed

      The single biggest thing: where are you advertising your positions? If you’re just doing “the usual”, perhaps do unusual things?

      There are professional associations for many professions, right? And there are also Black professional associations, Latinx professional associations, Indian professional associations, etc. Ditto Chambers of Commerce, and fraternal organizations. Try reaching out to those in your area or state, for (a) advertising platforms, like maybe their newsletters, and (b) advice on recruiting.

      Good luck, from a middle-aged white lady who dislikes working in all-white environments

      1. medium of ballpoint

        And you can also emphasize in your posting that diversity is a value, minorities are welcome to apply, etc. I’m a POC and language like that can sway me if I’m on the fence about submitting an application.

        1. straws

          This is really helpful to hear. Despite some of our appearances, we’re a very open and accepting group of people. Working that into our job postings could have a number of positive effects on the candidates we receive.

    10. Chaordic One

      Think about the different roles that your employer has and the kind of people who traditionally fill them. While it is very common for top management jobs to be filled with older white men, what about the lower-level clerical jobs? Sometimes it can shake things up and be a good thing to hire some older white men for those kinds of jobs.

    11. Triple Anon

      I would place more emphasis on the candidates’ current skills and less on where they went to school and what jobs they held in the past. So that means their portfolio, skills-related interview questions, and maybe including an activity in the interview, or having them answer some questions along with their application (“You notice X bug. What are the most likely causes and what would you do to fix it?” for example).

      Another thought. From what I’ve seen, white males are more likely to exaggerate their skills whereas everyone else tends to be more humble. Obviously it’s hard to tell on an individual basis, but that’s something to consider when you’re looking at resumes.

    12. Anon today

      Is race/color the only metric you’re using for diversity? If so, consider broadening your goals. Are you comfortable with your gender ratio? What’s the age span (youngest employee vs. oldest) in your company? Do most of you come from the same or similar colleges or universities? Other things to consider are peoples’ background–class, region/country of origin, etc.

      All of these things contribute to a diverse group of workers, and can make your company a more open place to work.

  38. Small but Fierce

    I just left my second job of only 9 months to follow my old manager to a promotion to a completely new function with our parent company. While it’s considered an internal move, I know the duration doesn’t look great.

    On top of that, I just found out that my husband is up for two major promotions, either of which would take him out of state. If this happens, I will have barely been at this company a year. My first job was only a year and 10 months.

    Do I already look like a job hopper? I know there’s some wiggle room since I’m young, but I’m concerned that I might have started my job history on a bad foot. Also, any advice for trying to convince my manager to let me work remotely if the time comes? Thanks!

    1. LadyByTheLake

      Movement within an organization isn’t regarded as job-hopping, it is regarded as progress.

    2. HA2

      A transition within the same company doesn’t make you look like a job hopper. When making a resume, list them both under ParentCompany, with bullet points for the different functions.

      1. Small but Fierce

        Thanks all! I think part of my concern is that the new function is completely different. Marketing to vendor management. If we move as early as I think, I’ll only have been in this new role for a few months. I’d love to work remotely, but I’m so new to this function that I doubt it would work.

        So basically I’d be with company A for 1.75 years and company B for only a year before looking for a new role.

        1. Jules the 3rd

          According AAM, it’s the *third* short-term job that would make you look like a hopper. So for your next position, work hard to find someplace you can stay with for at least three years.

          Most roles ‘settle in’ within six months – ask if you can work remotely, and if you or they think you need a little more time to get everything down, maybe you could stay behind for a month or so.

          1. Small but Fierce

            Unfortunately, I’m currently in my third job. I explained it below. That said, I will definitely stay in the role if they let me.

    3. Evil HR Person

      The best way is to put it like this on your resume (format as you wish):
      – Llama Groomers, Inc. (parent company of Llama Buddies) – August 2017 to Present
      – Llama Buddies – January 2015 to August 2017
      Then, you can mention in the cover letter that while you were working with Llama Buddies, the parent company offered you an exciting position, etc.

      1. Small but Fierce

        I think I may have explained this poorly. I’m on my third job in less than 3 years. Unfortunately, company A is not affiliated with company B. Also, it’s not a clear promotion on paper, but it was a job grade increase. So it currently looks like this:

        Company B – Corporate
        Vendor Management Specialist
        July 2018 to Present

        Company B – Subsidiary
        Marketing Specialist
        September 2017 – Juky 2018

        Company A
        Marketing Coordinator
        December 2015 – September 2017

  39. Overworked and Underpaid

    I share an office with a coworker. They are about the same level as I am, but in a different department so it doesn’t exactly equate. I’ve noticed they use the word “seen” incorrectly pretty much every time they are describing something that they saw happen (such as, “I seen him come into the office” instead of “I saw him come into the office”). Although it’s been annoying, I haven’t mentioned anything about their grammar because it typically happens in personal conversations.

    However, they recently were reading out an email they were going to send to the chair of our board of directors (so that I could provide feedback) and started out with “I just seen this email.” I didn’t correct them because I didn’t want to seem superior (and because I used to correct them a lot on things when they first started so I’m trying to hold back).

    Should this be something I point out in the future?

    1. fposte

      I think that’s an occasion where you can. It’s a communication with the higher ups and it’s in advance of its actually being sent. “I noticed a glitch in the second sentence, where it says ‘I seen’ but I think it should be ‘I have seen.’ Just in case you want a quick tweak before it goes out.”

      1. Not So NewReader

        I agree. My boss and I read each other’s stuff often. We have an on-going conversation of “did I miss anything, does this sound clear?”. Perhaps you can work into a back and forth thing. If you don’t trust him to proof read maybe you can trust him to see if the writing sounds logical and say if most people would be able to follow along.
        In my mind, if someone asks me to read something they want me to catch their mistakes for them. It’s a compliment and a position of trust. “Don’t let me make a jerk of myself.” If people don’t want that type of help they usually say so very quickly. Then I’d ask, “So why am I reading this?”

    2. BlueWolf

      Oh man, the “I seen” has always made me cringe. I agree with fposte that it is definitely something you should mention if they are specifically asking for your feedback on a professional email.

    3. fromscratch

      Grammarly is a really great tool for this sort of thing. It is free and will offer spellcheck and grammar check on anything typed in a web browser. Maybe drop it into the conversation – as in, “I tried it this thing and loved it, thought I would share!”

    4. whistle

      If you are asked to proofread, I would fix it, but otherwise I would leave it alone. This is likely part of this person’s native dialect (and therefore correct to them) and will be very hard for them to change consistently unless it’s something they really want to do.

      1. Margery

        Because they asked you to provide feedback I really think in this case you should have corrected them.

    5. Lupin Lady

      Be aware that in certain areas (think: rural) “seen” instead of “saw” seems to be socially-accepted, even by seemingly intelligent people. I’m a transplant into these rural areas, and it bothers me, but just please be aware of the dialect differences. Although I’ve never seen it written… Maybe you can politely point it out in the form of asking?

      1. Annie Moose

        Dialect and intelligence have literally nothing to do with each other. The fact that you speak a particular dialect of English does not inherently make you smarter than people who speak a different dialect of English.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

        What Annie Moose said, but also it’s not exclusive to rural America. I have a couple of English colleagues who use this construction along with “us” instead of “me”, “were” instead of “was”, and a couple of other ones that I can’t recall just now. (In fact now that I think of it, I wonder if the American dialect got it from the English regional usage?)

        I wouldn’t correct it in speech, but in the case where they are writing something I would have said something.

    6. Annie Moose

      That’s not wrong, it’s just dialectal. In formal writing, it’s not used, so in that context I think it’d be appropriate to bring it up, but when someone is speaking or writing informally, that’s just the way they speak. It’s not ungrammatical, it’s just a different dialect.

    7. Everdene

      “I seen” always irritates my ears but I have struck a deal with myself; I’ll not correct spoken grammar (especially if it correct in that dialect but not standard English) but I will for written communication – especially if asked to proof!

      1. Anonymosity

        Same. Even if it makes me want to cringe.
        If asked about it, I explain that written is usually more formal for the purpose of clear communication, since you don’t get nonverbal cues like expression, tone, etc. from it.

    8. nep

      If they are asking for feedback, certainly fine to point that out. I think it’s showing respect for the person, particularly since they were asking for feedback. (Perhaps they were thinking of content or tone, but I don’t think it’s at all out of line to point out a grammar mistake.)

    9. Cat Herder

      If they ask you to check it or listen to it, then yes, definitely correct it.
      If they don’t ask, use one of the gentle suggestions below. If they get offended or upset, don’t correct in the future unless asked.

      Our office sends out tons of communication, formal and informal. Some of my colleagues are better at grammar, word choice, punctuation, and tone than others. My grand boss asked me once to eyeball everything formal, but they neglected to let the rest of the staff know. Wow, did I get an earful from a couple of colleagues! Some of it people who just get offended easily, some of it from people using their dialect. Not even saying that grand boss had instructed me to proofread made any difference. Grand boss never got around to following up, so now I wait til I’m asked. Even when cringey work goes out…

  40. Ms. Meow

    TL;DR: is it ever too late to reach out to new networking contacts?

    About 2 months ago I went to a networking event for one of the professional organizations I’m in. I met some really great people and received some business cards then promptly misplaced them. I was cleaning out my desk this week, and I found them! Would it be too late to send out emails saying it was great to meet them and I’d like to connect? Should I let them know why it took me so long or does that make me look as flaky as I feel?

    1. CatCat

      Definitely not too late. You do not need to say that you misplaced the cards. Just send an email and keep it short and simple. “Dear Person, We met a couple months ago at [professional event]. It was great to meet you and other professionals in our field. I am [whatever it is your goal is in making the connection]. Would you be available for [lunch/coffee/phone call] in the next few weeks?”

    2. Admin of Sys

      I wouldn’t admit to /losing/ the business cards per se, and I wouldn’t format the message exactly the same way as you would have if the response had been closer to the initial meeting, but I don’t think you need to abandon the connection. I’d just phrase it something like ‘I recently came across your business card again and was reminded of the great conversation we had about x’.

  41. Melting I'm melting

    I have an interview next week. My question is: do I go full interview outfit in this heat and arrive limp, sweaty and gross? Or do I wear a business casual, more heat appropriate outfit and turn up without sweat running down my face? It’s with a recruiter who already told me they don’t have a position that matches me currently, but who might have a spot in the future so I don’t want to totally tank my chances.

    1. Higher Ed Database Dork

      I think I’d go for a coordinated slacks and blazer look and then just carry the blazer around, so basically nice slacks and a button down or blouse. A meeting with a recruiter seems a little more informal than a meeting with a hiring manager, but you can always put the blazer on later if you need to.

    2. Amber Rose

      Can you layer? Like, wear a light shirt and carry your jacket, then put it on before you go in for the interview?

      1. Melting I'm melting

        I’d rather not since I’m dealing with multiple mass transit changes so if I’m carrying something it’s going to get messed up especially if I’m already carrying a larger bag than normal for my resume and stuff. I’d wear a dress but I don’t have any that are appropriate and I’m plus size so the options for finding some are limited too.

    3. Ali G

      I think if it’s just a recruiter then you don’t need to go full suit. How about a suit skirt or pencil skirt, with a nice blouse (not sleeveless)?

    4. Ann

      When I interviewed in the heat a few summers ago I did suit skirt + coordinating sweater. The sweater was the same size as the skirt, so it looked unified, but didn’t wrinkle as easily (I took it off while traveling to the interview) and was more breathable while I was wearing it than a suit jacket would have been.

      I kept baby wipes, deodorant, and makeup in my briefcase, so I could touch up if needed and kept my hair up, because the humidity makes it frizz like crazy.

    5. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

      So I know that I look absolutely ridiculous, but I’ve started carrying around a little handheld rechargeable fan. Like not the paper/cloth kinds – like with a blade that blows cool air. If you go to amazon and search “hand held fan” you’ll see what I’m talking about. It is the best $15 I’ve spent. Then I just found this other one that actually hangs around your neck and blows the air directly up at your neck and face.

      I’ve found that if I have keep my face and neck cool(er/ish) it helps with me get through my commute (underground subway platforms when it’s 90+ degrees outside are unbearable!) without turning into a complete sweaty mess.

    6. ..Kat..

      I vote for heat appropriate, more business casual outfit. I think you will look more professional not being all hot and sweaty in a full interview outfit.

    7. Cat Herder

      In the past I’ve worn what you might call a summer suit. Light weight minimally wrinkling trousers and jacket with a lightweight shell or a sleeveless darted shirt. If you’re on public transit I’d take a towel to put on the seat. Take a hat or sun visor too if you’re going to be out in the sun walking from the bus stop to the office. And carry a small pack of wet wipes. Good for a quick clean up if your pits get sweaty!

  42. PM anon

    So, there’s some extreme unbalance at my job. We work in project management. I currently have 130 projects. The average in the department is 50. Some of my team members have less than 20. My team has 400 projects and the other two teams have a combined total of 200.

    The women on my team consistently get more work than the men, along with being asked to help train people and help out when others are “slammed” with less projects, and when we bring up how it’s unfair that we do double or triple the work of other people, we’re told we’re being brash, nagging, and over-reacting. My manager loves to boast about how hardworking and great his team is, but he never helps us out when we’re slammed, and any concerns go in one ear and out the other, or he focuses on the wrong issue (he’s concerned about sending emails to the client instead of getting us resources to start the project and make sure it meets the timeline).

    I’m so burnt out, and this issue has been going on and raised to management for the entire four years I’ve been here. The people who have 15 or 20 projects say they’re “at capacity” and are the type who constantly ask for help, but never offer it in return. This is seriously impacting my life, and I really, really want to quit but I can’t quit without a new job lined up and I’ve been trying for two years to find a new job.

    How do you all deal with unequal workloads in the workplace, especially when you’ll get called out for dropping your status quo or not helping people?

    1. Jessi

      get a new job?

      Be really, really firm about not taking on anything more? Be like the people with 20 projects and be a broken record “While I’d love to help my plate is full.” “I have 130 projects, and no time. Ask Bob’s team” “I could take this project on but I would need to transition 10 projects to OtherTeam in order to have the time and space, let me know if thats what I should do”.

      Alison says if balls are never dropped then management is never going to fix the situation. So that is one option. However, if it has been brought up time after time and nothing is being done then I would suggest that its time to move on – its not going to change

      1. PM anon

        I would love a new job, but I’ve been searching hard for two years and nothing. It’s frustrating. A lot of recruiters ghosting me or getting to the final round and then never hearing back. I honestly can’t take another year or two of searching while staying in this job.

    2. Sunny

      Geez, I’m sorry you’re dealing with all of that.

      Is it possible to be more direct? If you are swamped with a ton of projects and one of the people with 15/20 projects asks for help, can you just tell them that “Sorry, I wish I could help but I’m at capacity right now so it’s not possible at the moment.” If you have to, maybe throw in: “Sorry, I wish I could help but I’m working on X projects and I’m at capacity right now so it’s not possible at the moment.”, with X being 130 projects or etc. This may deter them from bothering you again, especially if they know that you know they only have 15-20 projects.
      Can you do something similar when asked to take on new projects? “Sorry, I have X projects right now and I don’t feel comfortable taking on anything else at this moment, but I appreciate the opportunity.”

      You said that in your office “you’ll get called out for dropping your status quo or not helping people”… but maybe you’ll just have to take that and respond back truthfully. If someone calls you out, “You’re right, I have always done my best to go above and beyond when helping others and I’m still going to put 110% into my work, but I’ve decided what’s best for myself as a professional to avoid burning out and for my health is to take on less projects/work when I already have a ton on my plate.” If they are calling out someone with 130 projects for not taking on another or helping them when they have 15 and constantly need assistance, it seems like they don’t have a leg to stand on.

      I hope you can reduce your workload soon. That sounds incredibly overwhelming.

    3. A person

      You said you are being asked to train people and help out, and are getting a negative reaction when you say it’s not fair. Are you saying yes?

      Just say no when you are asked to take on more. Your plate is already full. Don’t say yes to the extra work in the first place.

      I’ve had this problem as a PM too. The women do more because they are more likely to say yes when asked to help out.

      The only solution that worked for me is to be like the people who are “at capacity” and say no. I got a lot of pushback of course. It’s hard at first when you’re a person who likes to be helpful, but it gets easier over time.

      1. A person

        Also wanted to add – some managers assume if you say yes, you must have the bandwidth to take it on. Otherwise you’d say no of course! Just like those other PMs do!

        Those PMs who do 25% of the work that you do still have jobs, don’t they?

      2. PM anon

        I have said no and that I don’t have bandwidth. I’m told to do it anyway because I should be a team player. I’ve been called “difficult to work with” when I say no or stand my ground. It’s truly exhausting and a lose/lose situation.

        1. Lora

          Then tell them “if you put this on my plate, it will be in line behind Projects A – ZZ. Hope that timeline works for you.”

          Do you have any kind of group meetings? That would be a good time to review who has what projects and how many and also their value to the company, just going around the room to give a brief update on projects.

          “Chaddington Silverspoon the IVth, why don’t you tell the group about what you’re working on?”
          “I have the Thoroughbred project, which is currently at 60% of its $3M budget.”
          “Well done, Chaddington! PM anon, how are your projects?”
          “The $50M hydroelectric plant is 12 months into execution with turbines to start factory acceptance next week. The $200M defense department project 897624560X has a kickoff meeting planned for July 10th, with initial approvals to purchase anticipated August 1st. The $30M SuperFund site remediation project is 90% complete and we are planning a punchlist review for September pending analytical results. We’ve submitted the proposal for the $120M microfluidics plant RFP and expect a response by end of third quarter this year.”
          (Chaddington’s head explodes)

          1. PM anon

            We have weekly group meetings and also a shared document where you can see who is working on what and what their numbers look like. I’ve given up speaking in them because the last time I asked if there was a way to reshuffle the workloads and maybe even out the project numbers so I wasn’t so overwhelmed, I got written up for “upsetting people”. This has happened to the other women on my team who also have high workloads (and the problem isn’t just men with low workloads, it’s a lot of other women too, it’s just that the top PMs who are asked to help and do more work are all women, so a lot of people use the “hysterical, overreacting women” excuse when we get angry).

            1. LCL

              Ask whoever runs the group meetings if you can give a short 5 minute rundown at the beginning on everyone’s stats. (I don’t know the size of your company, obviously this isn’t so easy if there’s 100 people doing the same job.) Do it under the guise of presenting something interesting about the numbers. I do this for my group, the difference is they don’t have any choice in their assignments it’s all based on a master schedule, and they still get really competitive about who is doing the most work. Don’t ask to reassign workload, or tell them that you are overwhelmed. That would be the best way, but you tried and it’s not working. The reason to do this in a meeting forum is so that others get used to talking about the assignments and the inequity, and you may gain some allies this way. It should go without saying that your manager should, never mind, every suggestion I have is violent and inappropriate for this column.

              And the next time someone tells you to your face that you are ‘brash, nagging, and overreacting’, tell them ‘whatever. We’re not discussing my personality, we’re discussing everyone’s work assignments.’ Personal attacks in those circumstances are always about distraction; drag them back on topic.

        2. A person

          I think they’re taking heavy advantage of the fact that you care what they call you. I’d rather be called “difficult to work with” than work myself to death or have a nervous breakdown, personally.

          I stopped caring the day I was frantically juggling six different things at the same minute and my manager came down the hall: I heard my male counterpart turn off his baseball game, put away his nail clippers, and tell our manager he couldn’t possibly take anything else on because he was on deadline for his one project.

          I do like the suggestions in this thread about taking something off your list (or reprioritizing to a much, much lower priority) for every new thing that gets put on it. It’s airtight logic. But it sounds like you work for people who try to emotionally manipulate you by personally attacking your work ethic if you don’t do what they want, so your mileage may vary.

    4. neverjaunty

      Push back. Brash? Nagging? What bullshit, sexist language. Don’t take the bait. They aren’t going to fire you – then they’d have to give your projects to Chad and Ryan.

      1) stop helping people who don’t help back
      2) “this isn’t about ‘nagging’; this is about an uneven workload and assignment of tasks.”

    5. Super stressed

      I don’t have any advice, but I’m in awe – I’m a PM too, but it must be in a wildly different industry because 20 projects is the max that people tend to have, and there is a breed of project manager adjacent to me that only have 1 or MAYBE 2 because their projects are so large. I can’t imagine 130 projects in any context.

    6. Elle

      “Sure. I will take on your project. But please note that it is #131 on my priority list. If you need it sooner than that, I suggest you take it to ________.”

      Also, have you made it Your Manager’s problem to manage? As in “Sure. I will do this project. Which of the ones I am currently doing would you like me to drop/hold/delay?”

    7. Jules the 3rd

      “Team player? Of course I am, that’s how I got the first 100 projects. After that, it stops looking like ‘team’. If you want those projects to get the time they need, assign them to someone else.”
      (make sure you use ‘sensing’ terms like looking or sounding; ‘feeling’ will undermine the message (misogyny sucks, but is real))

    8. OldJules

      I not so recently called it out. I was ready to leave the team and organization that I like because of work assignments. I told my leader who had a negative view of my work (she thinks I’m ADD when in actuality, I’m slammed with urgent works and my projects slides). This is despite having a one on one with her regularly and she knows my worklist.

      I literally said, “I need to be able to say ‘No’ to you with regards to work assignment. My co-workers has taught me that it’s ok to say no. I will be saying that more frequently now. I want you to know that when I say no, its because I am at capacity and I want to be able to produce the best quality output for my clients.”

      Had she not completely stop sending every little thing my way, I would look for a new job. Because I get stuff done, I get sent a lot of work. My perception that I cannot say no to work assignment is wrong. I’m saying no now and that has become a game changer. If my co-workers can say no with no penalty (especially men), why would I say yes to every single thing? It’s a lesson that took many years for me to learn.

    9. Ann O.

      Is there any additional compensation that you get for being a high performer with a much higher workload? Is there a difference in difficulty/time commitment between the 15-20 projects and your 130?

      If the answer to these is no, then I think the main option available to you (in addition to the job hunting you’ve been doing) is to stop caring about being called a nag, not a team player, over reacting, etc. You’re already not liked or respected or your manager would listen to you. It is highly likely there is sexism going on. So your #1 priority needs to be protecting yourself. Hold your line; do the work that you can. It doesn’t have to be abrasive, but it can be firm. Save up in case this results in you being fired, although it seems unlikely that your team can afford to fire you. But your mental health is suffering, and that’s probably part of why you’re struggling to find work.

      Also, if you and the other affected women aren’t banding together and pushing back as a group, try to arrange that. Not in group meetings when there are other agenda items and the low-producing co-workers are present, but as a group in a special meeting just with your manager. I can actually see your manager’s point that a group meeting would feel like an inappropriate setting for this because you’re calling out your co-workers publicly. That would be upsetting and isn’t exactly your place as a peer to do. But set up a time as a group, take the numbers, practice redirecting away from comments about personality and to the numbers.

      The other thing that I can’t tell from your post or comment is whether you’ve escalated above your manager. If not, again band together as a group and escalate, carrying the hard numbers. It is horrible business policy to stress your hardworkers to protect your low workers. Your manager is clearly the problem, but maybe someone above your manager can champion you all.

    10. pcake

      If you have paperwork showing that the women are all doing that much more than the men and maybe emails that use words like “brash” and “nagging”, perhaps a lawyer or the labor board might be of assistance? The company won’t like you for it, but they don’t seem to fond of you now.

  43. August

    Hello everyone! I’m currently job searching, and I have three quick questions that I would love to hear some input on:
    1) Is the job application process for state government the same as federal (i.e. long and detailed resume rather than one page)?

    2) A contact of mine recommended me for a position with a government contractor without my knowledge. When I checked the description, I saw that the position required management experience, which I don’t have. I expect that I’ll be weeded out during the pre-screening. However, I saw that the same contractor is hiring for another position in a different city that I would be qualified for. Would it be appropriate to put myself forward for that position?

    3) Do you address a cover letter to the contact person (“send your materials to Ms. Smith at…”) or the person the position reports to (the Director Communications, for example)?

    Thank you!

    1. Robyn (from Oregon)

      I can only speak to your first question, and I’m sure it differs by state, but applying for a job with the state government here does use one of those application systems that takes you page by page through all the information they want, including supplemental questions. Lots of people do include their entire work histories, though there’s no requirement to include a summer job flipping burgers or other work that’s not really relevant to the position you’re seeking. The good thing is that usually the job postings are much clearer than USAjobs, for example.

    2. bureaucat

      Career state bureaucrat, here:
      1) I have always used my one-page resume for state jobs. There is also a multi-page online application in my state.
      2) yes
      3) I’ve always done To Whom it May Concern for State jobs, since you never know who’s doing the reading (and there will be multiple layers of screening- first department HR, then the team hiring)

    3. Cat Herder

      Print out each page of that multi page online application— if there isn’t a system where you login once and it saves your answers for every other state govt job you apply to, you’re going to be typing those same answers over and over. You might even copy paste into a Word doc and then just copy paste with each subsequent application.
      And good luck w your job search :)

    4. Bacon Pancakes

      1) The State Agency I work for has a lengthy multi-page application that you can download as pdf and save. Most positions also request a resume.
      2) It can’t hurt.
      3) An easy work-around is to address to “The Hiring Committee”. At my state agency you typically send your application materials to HR in HQ at The Capitol but that HR person doesn’t have any hand in the hiring process other than verifying that the exam qualifications were valid.

  44. Legally 1L

    I’m an assistant at a big law firm in NYC. I’ve worked here for about 2 years but now I am moving on to law school. This law firm is very prestigious and mostly only takes attorneys that come from big name ivy schools. The law school I’m going to is a good local school, but nowhere close to “top ranked”. People already know that I’m leaving and which school I’m going to.
    I would like to keep in touch with the attorneys I’ve worked with here but am not sure where to start. I have good rapport with most, if not all, of them but it’s not like I’m going off to receive a “Harvard Education” and people know it. I’ve built a pretty good reputation here, and everyone knows me as an efficient and competent worker. If ever given a chance to work here over the summer, I would definitely do it. People here are friendly but I’m aware that there are other “powers that be” which determine who will be recruited and who will not. Most people say “keep in touch” or “let me know if you have questions about school” and some have joked “maybe you’ll come back next summer!” but it’s hard to know how much they actually mean any of things. It’s also hard to follow up on such things anyway. What’s a good move here? I know this firm is an important network, but I hardly feel worthy of their time and don’t want to look like a brown-noser before I even know how well I’ll do at school.

    1. LadyByTheLake

      Law is ALL about who you know, and I am sure that people who are telling you to keep in touch mean it. Don’t expect to get a job with this firm, instead think of these folks as resources. Check in every six months or so, tell them how you are doing, ask simple questions (lawyers — and I am one — LOVE answering questions).

      1. Legally 1L

        What’s a good way to leave this firm that cements my relationship with them? I am here for about a week before leaving.
        Is it really impossible to get a job at this firm, even as a summer associate?

        1. Another Lawyer

          I think simply stopping to say goodbye to people you’ve worked with is a good way to leave on a good note. Say something simple like “it’s been great working with you” and let them know what you’re doing.

          I don’t think you should assume it’s impossible to get a summer associate position at your firm, and you should certainly try, if that’s the type of firm you want to end up in. But, as you’ve probably seen, it’s very competitive and while you might get a boost from having worked there previously it doesn’t guarantee you a spot.

          (FWIW, I know people who worked as paralegals in top firms in NYC, went to non-Ivy law schools, and then ended up as attorneys at those same firms. However I also know people who went to non-Ivy law schools and ended up at top firms with which they had no prior relationship. And I know people who have been completely shut out of biglaw.)

          And +1 to LadyByTheLake. Lawyers do like answering questions and helping each other out, so keep in touch as much as you can.

      2. Thursday Next

        Mr. Next (my DH) wishes to say: Dear Legally 1L: congrats on getting into law school and making the leap! I sincerely hope you enjoy law school. It wasn’t always easy, but I found it fun! As background, I am a partner at a midsize firm in a major city (practicing about 15 years now), and started as an associate at one of the major NYC firms where a “Harvard education” was common. Here is some advice, which you can take or leave as you wish.

        (1) The world of law is large. If you’ve only worked at that one firm, you’ll be amazed to see how much law, and how many different types of law, get done outside those big elite firms. There is room for people to do all sorts of things, from all sorts of places. The people you worked with at the elite firm make up a tiny percentage of What Lawyers Do. If you don’t end up back there, that’s OK; there’s a lot out there.

        (2) Don’t sell yourself short! The elite firms (and elite public interest shops) aren’t just looking for Harvard. They’re also looking for superstars from the “lower-ranked” schools. Law Review or top 5 at a “lower” school will get you a lot of offers and opportunities, both at “elite” places as well as others. Work hard and (more importantly) thoughtfully, and you may do better than you think.

        (2a) (Even if you don’t, that’s OK! Obviously it’s better to do better in law school. But half your class will be below average in grades. You can make your name in other ways: a clinic that gives you hands-on experience, a judicial internship that leads to a judge’s recommendation, a corporate internship where you make friends, etc. Even if you aren’t thrilled with your grades, don’t be discouraged! A couple of years out, your grades won’t matter that much.)

        (3) As another commenter said, knowing people is key. If people know you, and your work ethic, and think highly of you, that will get you in the door for an interview where a person equally ranked at a “lower” school won’t get in. No guarantees of course! But definitely keep in touch with the people you know. Even if they don’t have a spot for you in that firm, they’ll know lots of folks at other firms, and a personal recommendation goes a long way. (For example, someone might not have the academic credentials to get into my old “elite” firm, but I stay in close touch with my friends there, and if they call me to recommend someone for a job at my firm, I take it seriously.).

        (4) Keep in touch with those people for advice, if nothing else. Law school gets very insular – lots of law students talking to law students, the blind leading the blind. (Apologies for the generalization, but remember, I’m a former law student myself.). Getting advice on How To Get A Job After Law School is not so good from law students, and much better from real practicing lawyers. The associates at your firm can give you good advice. And be honest with them! You can say, “I have a B-minus at [low-ranked school] , so maybe I won’t be a strong candidate to come back for [elite firm], but you know, I really want to work in environmental law — do you have advice for me? Anyone you know who would be willing to speak with me?” Keep working that network! Which leads me to…

        (5) Spend lots of time with your classmates. Yes, law school is serious and you should work hard. But the people you go to school with will be interesting and fun and, in 10, 15, and 20 years, likely form the backbone of your support network. You will all be working with each other, and recommending each other. Make friends for life! It’s both more enjoyable, and better for your career.

        Sorry this was long, but in general: congrats, good luck, definitely keep in touch with EVERYONE you meet, and best wishes for success and happiness!

    2. CTT

      I have had a similar trajectory as you – started out as a paralegal, currently studying for the bar, although in a much smaller market than NYC (where like 1/3 of the firm went to the same state school I’m at), so take this with a grain of salt.

      First, I do think that they mean it when they say to stay in touch, although if the attorneys you work with are anything like the ones I’ve worked with, actually getting them to respond to non-work-related emails may be a crapshoot. That’s why calling may be a better bet (since you know them) and if you’re not already close with the other assistants, get their contact info now. If it’s not totally counter to your office’s culture, you might want to CC the attorney’s assistant when you send them a “Do you have time for a call/can we meet for coffee?” email (again, depends on your firm’s culture – we were very big on cc’ing at mine).

      Second, you may have to work outside of the usual hiring system if you want to work there over the summer. Firms generally only do on-campus interviews at certain schools, and if your firm is very Ivy-centric, they’re probably not coming to your school to do interviews. If there’s someone you feel comfortable asking, I’d go ahead and ask now if they 1) hire 1Ls for the summer and 2) when they do that hiring. Some firms put that info on their website, and some don’t, so it’ll be good to go ahead and calendar that so you can go submit your cover letter and resume on time.

      Third, even if you get to school and fall in love with an area your firm doesn’t specialize in, or you want to go into government, or in house, etc., still stay in touch! If it’s a big firm, then someone will have a spouse/child/friend who works in the area you’re interested in and that they can hook you up with.

      Finally, good luck with law school! It’s an exciting time, and you’re really well-placed since you’ve already had a real job. People have probably already told you this, but it’s true: treat school like a job, come in at 8, leave at 5, and you’ll do great. (Also, selfishly, I’m glad you posted this because it flashed me back to when I was about to start law school and how excited I was, and since I’m in the bar doldrums, I needed that reminder)

  45. fromscratch

    Any tips for dealing with a truly obnoxious coworker who also has big emotional/insecurity issues? I work at a small startup (10 employees total) and have been dealing with a very strange coworker since she started a month after me earlier this year.

    She is LOUD. Makes weird noises, does weird voices, shouts, sings, plays music or sound effects on her phone, talks at a very high volume on all phone calls, wants to celebrate every minor task accomplished. Think: Jean Ralphio and Mona Lisa from Parks and Rec wrapped up in one person in an open plan office where none of the walls go all the way to the ceiling. Basically no consideration for the fact that there are 9 other people trying to do work in this office.

    But if the rest of us try to have a conversation, or crack a window to let in fresh air – she complains that we are being too loud and disturbing her.

    She will interrupt work, private conversations, meetings, etc to ask random questions that are either not work-related or could be easily looked up on our internal websites. And rather than go to slack, IM, or email – they always have to be in-person verbal conversations.

    In any interaction, if we don’t acknowledge her or respond in a way she finds acceptable, she gets on IM and trash talks that person to others in the office. When management isn’t here, it’s an out-loud stream of consciousness rant about how much she hates our company, our product, our strategies, etc. Any response that isn’t overwhelmingly positive is interpreted as us hating her and then she swings into a sulking tantrumy mood.

    Any thoughts?

    1. LizB

      This person sounds exhausting. I don’t really have a lot of solutions, but wow. Has management been alerted to these problems (especially the ones that occur when they’re not around)? Can you and your not-obnoxious coworkers band together to make sure that if Jane Ralphio starts smack-talking one of you over IM, nobody will respond?

      1. fromscratch

        Management knows and is going to start coaching but we all know it will be a long slow road to progress if there even is any. We all had a group lunch when the obnoxious one was out last week and realized that we were all suffering similarly. It was great to realize we were all in this together.

    2. Natalie

      I think Alison’s article from earlier this week about the coworker that did favors and then acted out because people weren’t sufficiently grateful would be helpful here. You can either stand up to her and deal with her having tantrums and trying to talk shit to other people, or you can continue to ignore it. But I don’t think you get to have both.

    3. Jessi

      Ask her to keep it down every time she gets loud. Ask her to email every time she interrupts.

      Ask to meet with someone in management and then walk them in quietly and let them overhear her on a loud rant?

      Go to your manager explain that you are having trouble and ask for ‘guidance’ with how to move forwards?

    4. Jack Be Nimble

      It sounds like her expectations are completely out of whack. If she were a reasonable (but inexperienced) person, setting boundaries and modeling appropriate behavior would help clue her in to professional norms, but I don’t think she’ll pick up on anything but the most direct messaging. And I don’t think she’d respond graciously to direct messaging.

      I think your best bet is to bring her behavior to the attention of your managers. It’s important to do so in a very business-focused way so you don’t seem like you’re gossiping or looking to get her into trouble (backing from coworkers would be helpful, but again, you need to make sure that it doesn’t come across as clique-y or mean-spirited).

      Honestly, this sounds like it’s going to resolve itself. Unless she performs at a super high level or management is really motivated to keep her, she’ll probably quit or be fired before long.

      Be glad she’s not your relative or in your social circle!

      1. Anonymosity

        LOL this made me giggle, but I really feel for the OP. I can’t imagine working with either Saperstein.

  46. Amber Rose

    It’s that time of the year again: competency records. I have to go through and rate my skills on a thousand different things, most of which I don’t do, and then go through it with my supervisor, who has no idea what I do or if I’m good at it so will more or less just agree with whatever I wrote. None of these things are reviewed by management or affect my employment in any way, so it’s kind of like doing a whole employee review on my own, on both sides, to no purpose.

    Can you tell how excited I am?

    Anyways, here’s a dumb question: How do I rate myself from 1 to 5 on changing lightbulbs/emptying garbages/cleaning floors etc. if I never do those things, but presumably could. 1 is “I am utterly incompetent” and 5 is “I am an expert that people defer to for troubleshooting and problem solving.”

    1. fromscratch

      Is it a skill rating or an “I do this in my job” rating? I used to do this in salesforce’s skills matrix and it was always “things I could actually accomplish if asked” and not related to my actual position. Ex: I have graphic design experience but never had to do that for work. Still rated it a 5 b/c I know how to do it.

      1. Amber Rose

        Well, it’s a competency record for the quality team to track our ability to do work. Theoretically I’m supposed to rate my actual skill at each task. Most of them are N/A and that’s fine, but I feel ridiculous putting N/A for taking out the garbage.

        1. Susan Sto Helit

          It’s a stupid thing to be on a competency form. Just imagine the outcomes. “Amber Rose says she’s level 5 competency at taking out garbage, so let’s make her the Taking Out The Garbage lead.”

          1. Amber Rose

            I know, right? This whole process is ridiculous. I can rate myself pretty reliably on any of the tasks in my actual job, but you either can or can’t take out the garbage. It’s not really a scalable task.

            Maybe I can look up what I put down last time and just put that. :/

    2. Not So NewReader

      Side step it and use the N/A option. Your justification would be “Although I can do these things, it’s not a part of my routines here.”

  47. LizB

    Today’s my last day in my current role! I’m moving within my organization to a totally new department and a role with more responsibility (or at least very different responsibility). Currently cleaning out my desk and wondering how I accumulated so much stuff.

  48. Bacon Pancakes

    My co-worker has this habit of talking “around” me rather than talking “to” me. Rather than say “Bacon Pancakes, will you be out in the north pasture llama wrangling tomorrow? I need to fix the gate” he will go to my boss (or anyone who will listen) and very loudly proclaim “Well, I don’t know if ANYONE is going to be WRANGLING LLAMAS in the NORTH PASTURE TOMORROW but I need to fix the gate” and then long pause while he and my boss stare at me to see my response (my boss can look into my office from his).
    I have been trying to ignore it because dude, if you want to know what I am doing, just ask. It gets predictably awkward while they wait for a response and I just keep doing whatever I was working on until my boss says “Bacon Pancakes?” I look up, smile and ask “yes?” and my boss makes my co-worker repeat his question to me directly.
    I am pretty sure my co-worker knows it bugs me that he won’t just address me directly. How do I, a) address this in the moment that talking around me to get a reaction isn’t working and, b) enlist my boss to help stop this and encourage my co-worker to address me directly if he needs to know my work plans.
    I am not the only person he does this to, he also addresses our office manager (…the only other woman who is employed in our office full-time…) in this way and I know it bothers her as well. Although he is more likely to walk up to her desk and wait for her to acknowledge him (clearing throat, coughing, drumming fingers on her desk) while she is working (on the phone, placing an order, whatever). Like he won’t just say her name and ask her for a stamp, he will just stand there coughing waiting for her to look at him. AWWWWWKKKKWARD!

    1. fposte

      It sounds to me like this is a pretty ingrained thing with him, and I think you’ll have better luck with redefining it in your mind than with changing him. But have you ever asked him, with curiosity rather than vexation, why he does this? “Fergus, that thing where you asked the room instead of me whether somebody could do that when what you wanted is for me to do that–why do you do that instead of asking me directly?” That might startle him into giving some really useful perspective.

      I think it’s possible to take it to the boss but I’d consider the workplace dynamic carefully before doing so. If you’re friendly with your boss, I’d probably start with a similar question–“That thing where Fergus asks you instead of asking me directly–do you know what’s up with that? And I see him do the same thing to Lavinia–is it only to the women? It’s kind of annoying and I’d love to redirect him, especially if it’s a gendered thing. Any suggestions for that?”

    2. LizB

      That is such weird behavior. Have you directly asked him to stop doing this/pointed out the pattern of behavior? “Fergus, if you have a question about my work schedule, can you please ask me directly about it? There’s no need to make Boss the middleman, we can just communicate with each other.” And to your boss: “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Fergus often seems to ask you questions about my work plans when he could easily just ask me, since I’m right there! It seems like it would be so much easier if he came to me directly. Do you think you could ask him to change that habit?”

    3. Murphy

      I would also ignore it until someone addressed me directly, but that doesn’t seem to be working. Maybe next time just point it out?

      Them: “Well, I don’t know if ANYONE is going to be WRANGLING LLAMAS in the NORTH PASTURE TOMORROW but I need to fix the gate.”
      You: “You could ask!” *friendly bright smile*

      1. Lehigh

        Oh, man.

        Them: “Well, I don’t know if ANYONE is going to be WRANGLING LLAMAS in the NORTH PASTURE TOMORROW but I need to fix the gate.”
        You: *stand up, walk to the door, lean into the boss’s office* Hey guys, I’m so sorry but I couldn’t help overhearing. Can I make a suggestion? Maybe if you want to know if someone is going to be in the North Pasture you should ask that person. Just a thought. I’ll be in my office if you need me.
        *walk back to your own desk, return to work*

        Do not do this if your boss is also a jerk.

    4. The Ginger Ginger

      Wait, wait. Does he ONLY do this to women in the office? What the heck? He goes to your male boss instead of coming to you? Does he ever do this kind of thing to the men who work there? That’s….ugh.

      I think you can certainly try to raise it with your boss. “I’ve noticed Fergus seems to always come to talk to you when he actually has a question on my schedule/status of my project/etc. Would you mind just redirecting him to me with those kind of questions? There’s no reason for him to have to filter everything through you, and it honestly feels a bit strange to have you acting as some kind of mediator in what should be a normal business conversation.” And if boss doesn’t say yes, ask him WHY he won’t just send him to you. If you have a good relationship with your boss, you could even ask him if he finds the behavior as perplexing as you do, and ask for this in terms of – hey, let’s see if we can change his behavior by working together on this.

      I think the key either way is to not sound frustrated or angry, but just honestly perplexed.

      And in the example you gave above. You can totally say something in the moment in that same non-angry tone. Once he repeats his question to you instead of your boss, can you just say, “Yes, I’ll be in that pasture tomorrow. You know, you can come ask me that sort of thing directly. I don’t mind.”

      1. Free Meerkats

        AS he only does this to women, you might want to point this out to the boss. And depending on the boss, enlist him to react thusly the next time it happens:

        “Well, I don’t know if ANYONE is going to be WRANGLING LLAMAS in the NORTH PASTURE TOMORROW but I need to fix the gate”. Boss just says nothing, you say nothing. Let the awkward silence hang in the air and see what happens next. I’d almost bet money he will repeat it, louder. Then the boss, rather than saying, “Bacon Pancakes?”, can tell him to find out rather than the announcement to the world.

    5. Bacon Pancakes

      Thanks everyone for taking the time to provide some suggestions. I don’t know if anyone will make it back around, but I appreciate the outside perspective.
      I know this behavior frustrates my boss also. He and I do have a good relationship, and this is not an isolated instance of (what I consider to be) disrespectful passive-aggressive behavior towards me. My boss has been privy to most of the outbursts… as in he once yelled at my boss that he doesn’t think I deserve a job during a ‘closed door’ session (our walls are pretty thin). There is a lengthy backstory involved which revolves around a lot of pent-up resentment about my position that came with this otherwise relatively pleasant job.
      I do feel that this behavior is an engendered matter. There is one other woman in our office (diversity for the win!!) who works seasonally, and this is a common behavior towards us all.
      If called out directly, his defense would likely be that he shares an office with the other men who work in the field while I have my own office, so he doesn’t need to search them out to have a conversation. But my office shares a wall with his, so it isn’t like he has to walk two buildings away to find out.
      The best course of action I think I have is to speak to my boss and see if we can figure out a way to redirect this behavior with some of the scripts that y’all suggested.
      Thanks again for giving me some insight.

  49. San Diego

    Tl;dr Should I have told a direct report I could see her underwear line and that her outfits might look like pajamas?

    I had an employee who, when she started with us, wore what I would have perceived as pajamas but she clearly did not see them as pajamas. Think a t-shirt with a print on it and matching soft pants, along with a matching pair of fashion eye glasses (ie no lenses). She is from another country but had lived in the US for years. Her pajama-ish bottoms were thin and showed an underwear line.

    My office has absolutely zero dress code and is culturally very casual. People regularly walk around without shoes on because they think it’s more comfortable. So there is absolutely no standard of professional dress to hold employees to. Someone else’s direct report would wear shirts that bared her stomach in the past and no one said anything.

    I was not sure it would be appropriate to talk with my employee given that no one else was being held to any kind of visual standard. She ended up changing her style on her own. Should I have talked to her about it?

    1. Time to get that arranged marriage my parents want

      If the office was this casual, I think you were right to not bring it up with your report. You would have to be really specific about what wasn’t appropriate about her outfit (which is uncomfortable), and she would definitely have felt like she was being treated unfairly.

      1. Graciosa

        I’m open to arguments that this office is so casual that visible underwear doesn’t cross the line, but I really disagree that the manager’s level of comfort is relevant to the decision about whether or not to address it if it is an issue. That is part of the job.

        I’m inclined to think it was an issue even in that environment because the individual changed her style without prompting. Sometimes people do start to get a sense that maybe it wasn’t a good choice on their part and self-correct. It’s lovely when it happens – but I’m not inclined to let the manager off the hook, because saying something is actually our job.

        I probably sound really harsh / direct about this, but it’s a critical shift in thinking that you need to be a good manager. I hope readers can picture me saying this firmly, but with kindness. ;-)

        1. Time to get that arranged marriage my parents want

          Hmm you’ve convinced me :) I still think OP was right not to bring it up in this particular case. If an office doesn’t require people to wear shoes, a panty line is hardly a concern – and you could argue that it would be crossing a professional line to imply that the report should be wearing a thong.

        2. Jules the 3rd

          enh – I don’t count underwear *lines* in the same class as visible underwear (eg, thongs above low riding jeans).

          In a casual office with no dress code where someone had a bare stomach with no managerial comment or pushback, lines visible on soft pants are not comment-worthy.

          1. Saskia

            I agree with Jules. Visible underwear lines are not a dress code violation at any of my conservative workplaces and I think it would be problematic to comment about them.

            People who present as women are more highly policed wrt their visible underwear lines. To me it’s a remnant of very sexist practices at workplaces from the past. I guess you could bring it up if you were prepared to also have a word with every dude whose underwear lines were visible.

    2. Susan Sto Helit

      I don’t think so. There are very, very few situations in which you can reasonably have a conversation with an employee about their underwear, and I don’t think this qualifies.

      Aren’t humans funny about underwear, though? It’s so weird when I actually make myself think about it properly…why does it matter if someone can see the line of my underwear? They know I’m wearing it anyway, right? Having confirmation of that shouldn’t be in any way scandalous. And yet I still seek out that ‘invisible seam’ underwear.

      1. KayEss

        Humans are definitely funny about underwear. When I was a freshman in college, I received an email from a classmate’s girlfriend who ordered me to keep away from him, while at the same time insisting that she was only trying to help poor little me by explaining how having my underwear line show made me look like an [insert misogynist slur here] trying to attract attention to myself and tempt otherwise good boys. I don’t think I could have picked her boyfriend out of a lineup. Even at the least secure I’ve ever been in my life, I found it hilarious.

    3. Murphy

      If there was really no standard for anyone, I think you did the right thing not bringing it up.

    4. Graciosa

      Yes.

      The reason is that part of your job as a manager is to do your best for your employees, regardless of your personal feelings. That means having much tougher conversations than telling someone that their underwear is too visible for even a very casual office.

      You note that “someone else’s” direct report wore something you thought might be an issue, and “no one” said anything. It isn’t everyone’s job – it’s that person’s manager. In this case, that’s you – and you also ducked the issue and decided not to have a difficult conversation. Apologies for the harsh tone, but this is something that is really important to be clear on as a manager – your comfort in doing something that is part of your job needs to be pretty irrelevant.

      You OWE your employees your best guidance. That includes – for those who want to get promoted, or get more high profile assignments, or whatever – information about what might be holding them back. It is not only fair to tell someone that visible underwear may be impacting how they are perceived in the environment, it is necessary. How would you feel if you found out years later that you never moved up because of something you could – and would – have easily adjusted? Don’t do this to members of your team.

      A couple final thoughts. First, do keep in mind that you need to be aware of how your own personal preferences relate to the culture around you. Second, with that awareness, you do not have to accept the lowest common denominator as the standard for your team as long as you are not imposing your preferences inappropriately.

      Let me translate those rules a little more practically with an example.

      I once had a boss who told us explicitly what her dress code was for our team and why. It was a higher standard than the company culture, but we were a new function and she wanted us to appear to be highly professional to increase our credibility while others were forming their first impression of ours. It was not only a fair request, is was a smart move on her part. Teams, like individuals, can have a brand – she made ours intentional.

      On the other hand, she did not impose any personal views in an inappropriate way – meaning the standard applied equally regardless of gender (no requirement for women to wear skirts and heels while men wore trousers and flat shoes), religion (no rules regarding facial hair – or regular hair – or the lack or quantity thereof, for example), etc.

      You don’t have to apologize for having a slightly higher standard (and really, no visible underwear is not extraordinarily out there) for people who want to move up or simply for your team – unless you fail to communicate it clearly and directly, which would be a major failure.

      Best wishes –

      1. Saskia

        Graciosa I think San Diego is referring to visible underwear lines, not visible underwear. These are different things.

    5. post-it

      Can you please clarify “underwear line”? I’m totally on board with letting someone know that their outfit falls short of adequately professional (like in this case, the type of pants aren’t cutting it), but unless you mean underwear visible outside of clothing (not just a shadow/line across the rear end) then you should probably let that be. “VPL” is tolerated to different extents by different individuals and it’s really not your place to police this very minor characteristic.

      1. medium of ballpoint

        Yeah, I can’t see VPL as inappropriate, and it baffles me that is a thing that bothers people. Most people have way more important things to worry about than the precise math of underwear + bottoms that won’t give them VPL. If she’s dressed too casually it’s fine to bring that up, but fussing about how her underwear lays against her bum is ridiculous.