open thread – August 10-11, 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.

{ 1,805 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Peaches

    Quick poll: do you say ‘bless you’ when your coworkers sneeze?

    This may sound trivial, but I’ve come to notice that none of my coworkers say ‘bless you’ when I, or anyone else sneezes. I always thought it was common courtesy, but perhaps not. I’ve worked here for almost three years and have always said ‘bless you’ when others sneeze, but now am wondering if I’m the weird one. For what it’s worth, all of my coworkers are nice, friendly people. They’re not jerks who are standoffish in addition to not saying ‘bless you’. I’m not totally outraged by them not saying it, by the way. I’m just genuinely curious what the expectation was!

    Reply
    1. Audiophile

      It’s a mixed bag in my office. Sometimes we’ll say it, but oftentimes it goes unnoticed.

      You’re not weird for saying it, but I also don’t think it’s weird not to say it. I’m in a 12 person department, I think that plays into it too.

      Reply
    2. Foreign Octopus

      I say it!

      Part of it’s because it was drummed into me as a child growing up, but another part is I watched the film Dogma with Alan Rickman and there was a scene where the lack of a bless you nearly got a woman killed and that’s just really stayed with me.

      Reply
      1. AngelicGamer the Visually Impaired Peep

        +1 to the Dogma reason for saying Bless You. One never knows when a former angel is going to show up and want to kill everyone who doesn’t have good manners. As well as other sins. Just don’t run. :D

        Reply
        1. Kathleen_A

          Me too!

          On a side note, I participated in a one-day workshop one time that consisted of people from a bunch of different companies – maybe 35 people or so – collected in this meeting room to learn about a specific topic. A few knew each other, but most of us were strangers to each other.

          But this weird dynamic emerged in which whenever anybody sneezed, at least 2-4 people would say “Bless you” or some variation. Every time. So if someone in row 1 sneezed, strangers in row 3 and row 5 would call out “Bless you!” or whatever. I mean, right in the middle of the presentation. It was so odd.

          Reply
        2. matcha123

          Same here! And the first time I said it at a new office, my coworker turned and asked how I knew German. And that’s how I learned that he grew up in Germany!

          Reply
      1. PhyllisB

        This reminds me of one time in my teens I had a cold or sinus infection (can’t remember which) and I kept sneezing. My grand-mother would say “God Bless You!!” with every sneeze. Finally she said, “GOD BLESS YOU!! FOR THE REST OF THE DAY!!” We all cracked up, and that became a family thing if anybody sneezed more than four times.

        Reply
      1. A person

        In my old office I hurt myself trying to hold in sneezes or ran down the hall because I couldn’t stand the string of a dozen bless you’s in our cube farm. I hated it when someone came to work sick; the sneezing didn’t disrupt my concentration but the loud bless you’s did, every time!

        Then they moved my cube to the row where two people with allergies added “excuse me” after every sneeze to the line of blessings. That was the beginning of the end for me at that job! It was not a good work culture fit in other ways either.

        Reply
    3. Xarcady

      People here in my small department, where we all sit in a row in our little cubicles, usually say “Gesundheit!” when someone sneezes. It’s a very inclusive company, and “Gesundheit” or “good health” doesn’t have the religious connotations that “Bless you!” has.

      But I wouldn’t be upset if no one said anything when I sneeze–probably people are concentrating hard on their work or have headphones on or something.

      Reply
      1. Jane

        I don’t say anything after someone sneezes exactly because of the religious connotation. I would much prefer it if no one said anything to me either after I sneeze. But people seem to think it is rude. And I say this as a religious person.

        Reply
        1. Ashley

          The religious thing is definitely a consideration. A non religious guy always said Gazuntite when someone sneezed and that seemed to work. It acknowledges but doesn’t have any religious trappings.

          Reply
        2. SJ

          I say it but don’t even see it having any religious connotation anymore. I think it’s become so ingrained in society that it has just lost that.

          Reply
          1. Specialk9

            I don’t believe in God, but do believe in having gratitude for having been blessed, and I believe in blessing others. For me, if I believe in no deity, who can bless us but us? So it kinda feels like a humanist duty, if that makes sense.

            Reply
          2. all aboard the anon train

            But the origin has religious connotation, and I think if that makes some people uncomfortable, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s like saying Christmas doesn’t have a huge religious connotation anymore, so people shouldn’t feel uncomfortable celebrating it. When things trickle into society that are inspired by religion but become more mainstream than pious, it still doesn’t make it any less of a religious connotation.

            The word bless alone has a lot of religious connotations, and I don’t think anyone can argue otherwise.

            Reply
        3. AngelicGamer the Visually Impaired Peep

          Agnostic here – I say bless you because it sounds nicer to my ear, not for religious reasons.

          Reply
          1. Life is good

            I say “bless you”. Once, I said it to a co-worker and another, really pious coworker corrected me and said “No, GOD bless you”! I shot back, “No, just bless you”. I was feeling snarky that day.

            Reply
        4. matcha123

          I had a coworker from an Eastern European country specifically ask me to say ‘Bless you’ after she sneezed. I might have said ‘Gesundheit’ and she either didn’t hear or didn’t know what it was and motioned for me to say ‘bless you.’
          I’m more of a ‘gesundheit’ type, but if someone has a preference for ‘bless you’ I will say it.
          I say this as a totally unreligious person.

          Reply
      2. Heartlover1717

        I also usually say “Gesundheit!”, due to family tradition; it’s more of a reflex and courtesy – not too wrapped up in what it may mean to the hearer. Folks usually respond with “thank you” (if at all), and we go on with our day.

        Reply
          1. hermit crab

            Yes, that’s my go-to. My Colombian relatives say a super-long “saaaaaaaaa-luuuuuuuud” that I adore (and it doubles as a toast! an all-purpose word), but I use a shorter version when saying it myself. :)

            Reply
    4. Susan K

      Yes, in some cases. If they sneeze while I am having a conversation with them, I do, but I don’t go out of my way to bless everyone who sneezes. For example, if they’re working alone in a cubicle, or in the same room where I am but having a conversation with someone else, I don’t. And if someone else says it first, I don’t say it again.

      Reply
    5. Antilles

      Yes, people say “bless you”.
      Only exception are the couple people who sneeze a LOT (I’m one, my boss is another); each of us don’t always get a ‘bless you’, presumably because nobody wants to say it 11 times a day.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        This – once in awhile, yes. If my officemate is having a bad allergy day, I’m not going to say it for each one.

        Reply
        1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup

          At summer camp, we were told it was bad luck to bless the same person twice the same way in one sneezing fit, so there was a lot of “bless you! Gesundheit! Salud! Tag!”

          Eventually, we were told “don’t bless more than once at all, as you’re just embarrassing the person after the first, ‘Please don’t be dying.'”

          Reply
    6. Murphy

      If I’m with someone, yes. If I just overhear it (open office area) then no.

      I’m of the opinion that everyone should stop saying it, in general, but I recognize the social convention and the possibility of being seen as rude if you don’t say it.

      Reply
    7. mkt

      I only say it if I’m directly in vicinity of the person -like we’re in the same conversation, or they are near/in my cubicle. But if I’m at my desk and the person is more than a few desks away no I don’t.

      Reply
    8. Amber T

      One coworker will sneeze four times in a four – always, so I know to wait for that fourth sneeze. I won’t say “bless you” til that fourth sneeze. Once she only sneezed three times and was “offended” no one said bless you – we were all so shocked she didn’t sneeze a fourth time! (This is when we were open office and we were all joking about it. We also told her she needed to get her sh*t together when she sneezed a fifth time.)

      I once said “bless you” to a coworker and got caught in a 20 minute monologue about his sinuses and allergies. I no longer say “bless you” to him.

      A coworker once yelled “bless you” down the hallway at me while I was holding a hot cup of coffee. I didn’t manage to spill it on myself while sneezing, but his out of no where “BLESS YOU!” made me jump and I no longer had a full cup of coffee.

      I’ll usually say it if I hear it, but sneezes have become Typical Office Noises that I have learned to ignore (like the printer, various far away talking, footsteps), so unless you sneeze in my ear, I probably won’t hear it or acknowledge it.

      Reply
      1. stitchinthyme

        Heh…my husband tends to sneeze in twos, so I usually wait until after his second sneeze to say “bless you”. He used to joke that he could die between the first and second sneeze and it’d be my fault.

        As to the original question, sometimes people at my work say it and sometimes they don’t. Doesn’t matter to me either way.

        Reply
        1. Imprudence

          My great aunt used to say, “once for a wish, twice for a kiss, three for a letter, four for something better”. I sneeze in twos, and will often say ‘two for a kiss’ afterwards at home. But not at work.

          Reply
        2. topscallop

          LOL my husband also sneezes twice in a row, every time, and when we’re around people who don’t know this I look like a jerk for not saying “bless you” until he’s done.

          Reply
          1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup

            They’ve apparently found the genetic code for “how many default sneezes.” Science is loopy!

            Reply
    9. Amber Rose

      I don’t go out of my way to, but if someone’s nearby in line of sight I will. Other people around here seem to have the same idea.

      Reply
    10. Natalie

      I don’t, but I’m willing to accept I’m an outlier on this. For whatever reason it wasn’t drummed into me as a kid, and as an adult I started thinking about how weird it is to comment on sneezes specifically, out of all bodily functions.

      Reply
          1. Positive Reframer

            It has triggered brain hemorrhages and heart attacks. People have broken ribs and backs, hemorrhoids and hernias are a thing too.

            Reply
            1. Natalie

              That… seems like a reach, honestly. We’re talking about people at least a couple of hundred years ago that hadn’t yet figured out they should wash their hands before surgery, but somehow detected an extremely rare connection between sneezes and heart attacks? In multiple cultures and language groups, at that.

              Reply
              1. Magenta Sky

                It’s rare, but yeah, it happens. A quick search on Google for “can sneezing kill you” produces about two million results. Most common injuries are burst blood vessels, eye damage, ruptured disks in the spine, cracked ribs.

                Suppressing sneezes can cause hearing loss, vertigo, injury to the diaphragm, and in extreme cases, brain hemorrhage.

                But it is pretty rare.

                Reply
              2. Thlayli

                Ive Heard that people say it because in the Past there was always a good chance someone could die from a bad cold, so saying bless you was asking God to heal them or to let them into heaven if they died.

                Reply
              3. Mr McGregor's Gardener

                I heard it was because sneezing was one of the first symptoms of the Plague/Black Death, so if you were sneezing a lot, you were going to need all the blessings you could get!

                Reply
              1. Jennifer Thneed

                I injured a rib from laughing too hard, too long, while watching TWO Margeret Cho concert videos. Took months to heal. It hurt when I laughed, and I like to laugh!

                Reply
            2. SJ

              I believe it’s holding a sneeze in that can cause those things. I DO know you can blow a lung by holding in a sneeze. It isn’t common at all but can happen.

              Reply
            3. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)

              Sneezing hasn’t killed me, but once I sneezed in such a way that I pulled a back muscle and was in major pain for several days. I’ve aggravated a neck injury a few times by sneezing.

              To answer the main question in the post, I say “bless you” when my coworkers sneeze, because I feel antisocial somehow when I don’t… but I think it’s an absolutely absurd practice.

              Reply
        1. Adele

          I believe the practice of saying “Bless you” after a sneeze developed from an ancient belief that the soul leaves the body when sneezing. I don’t remember if the “God bless you” is a fare-thee-well or a call-back-to earth to the sneezer.

          Reply
        2. Decima Dewey

          Depends on how you sneeze. If you’re the type that has a short “choo”, like a cat, that’s one thing. If you’re the type where the sneeze takes forever to come out, is loud enough to startle people clear across the room, and sends your head down toward your desk, it’s another. I’m the second type of sneezer.

          Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        I’m usually on board with “X is a social ritual, not literal, so just do X”–like saying “How are you?” “Fine” even if your deep emotional state isn’t fine. For some reason with this one it strikes me as weird, like if we don’t actually believe your soul flies out of your body we don’t need to stuff it back with a “bless you.” If someone is sneezing from allergies, punctuating each one with “Health!” isn’t actually going to help. Neither does “I hope you get well soon” obviously, but that’s deployed rarely and specifically, for more serious cases of clear illness or injury.

        I think this might derive from my time overseas, when personal accidents triggered a phrase that translates as ‘Sweetly, white person!’ As with telling someone ‘Careful’ after they bash their head into something and are staggering around in pain, it is unhelpful.

        So I don’t often say it, but I won’t pretend that I can logically back that up.

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          It started to stand out to me when I worked in an office where people started to say “thank you” after a “bless you”. And then I heard at least one person say “you’re welcome”, and it just seemed so odd that we needed a three-line dialogue after an involuntary noise.

          Reply
        2. Specialk9

          “personal accidents triggered a phrase that translates as ‘Sweetly, white person!’”

          I’m so curious. Would you be willing to share more? That’s such an odd phrase! Did people only say it to white people, or was ‘white person’ a compliment for everyone, like the pinnacle of human existence?

          Reply
          1. Falling Diphthong

            “Doucement” is French for sweetly. “White person” was in a local slang (for a country with very few white people, especially outside of the capital), and somewhat between calling someone “tall person” (descriptive) and “dude” (you there).

            Reply
            1. Dwight

              I think there’s a little lost in translation… “doucement” usually means “slowly/carefully/gently/smoothly”. I think they meant “careful, white person”. Or maybe it’s from an entire different dialect that would say something like that.

              Reply
      2. Hrovitnir

        Yeah, I am the kind of person that says please and thank you almost to a fault, but was not raised with saying “bless you” so it feels weird. As an adult probably a bit more than half the people around me do it, so it can feel rude not to, but it’s also very unnatural and feels forced to me. I have been trying to teach myself to say “gesundheit” for the same reason as some others here; I really do not enjoy reciting anything with heavy Christian overtones.

        Reply
    11. PB

      I do, unless someone else says it, first. On rare occasion, I hear someone say “Gesundheit,” but “Bless you” seems much more common.

      Reply
    12. Lentils

      My coworker friend started saying “blessings!” awhile back and now most of us say either that or bless you when we notice somebody sneezes. I work with headphones on though so sometimes I just don’t notice lol.

      Reply
    13. Lemon Sherbet

      I don’t say it because I think it’s kind of silly (and the religious aspect). If I sneeze in a way that’s disruptive, like during a meeting or whatever, I will say “Excuse me” afterwards, the same as I would do for a coughing fit or a rogue burp. No one says “Bless you” after someone coughs or belches or farts, which as far as I’m concerned, could let your soul escape just as much as a sneeze.

      Reply
      1. formerSGartist

        LOL… Agnostic here, couldn’t agree more! I dislike this ‘non-optional social convention’ so much that I’ve found a way to stifle sneezes (press tongue hard against roof of mouth) so I won’t have to endure hearing it. I also pretend that I’m distracted/concentrating whenever anyone near me sneezes. The only time I cave is if someone is sitting next to me.

        Reply
    14. louise

      I wish sneezes were as politely ignored as loud bathroom body noises are in public restrooms. It’s just part of something we all do. If someone needs a tissue after a particularly rough sneeze, I politely and silently offer one if I’m nearby, but otherwise, I wish we would all pretend they are invisible.

      Reply
    15. ScotKat

      I have a colleague who blesses *every time* and I cannot stand it. I don’t want to be blessed and I don’t want people to keep drawing attention to the fact I sneeze. I sneeze a lot, and it soon becomes ridiculous to keep hearing ‘bless you’. I wish I could never hear it again, to be honest.

      Reply
        1. ScotKat

          Oh I really hate it! Why does anyone care if I’m sneezing? And then you get the people who comment on it, like ‘oh, do you have a cold?’. No, do you never just sneeze? Then I feel I have to explain why I have a normal bodily function. Now I’m quite short with those people, because it’s been years and I can’t take it any more… haha.

          Reply
          1. Lumen

            Or the people who think that me sneezing more than once in a row is a personality trait that is suitable for conversation fodder. No one in this current job, thankfully, but plenty other places have made a ‘thing’ out of ‘how much’ I sneeze.

            Ugh.

            Reply
        2. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant

          I thought I was, too! A social ritual that basically boils down to “You did something potentially embarrassing AND I SAW!” is not one that I like.

          I recently had a professor who would make a huge deal out of people sneezing, and it was just so annoying.

          Reply
    16. Lumen

      Everyone who sneezes in my general vicinity gets a chorus of ‘bless you’ or ‘god bless you’. And when I say ‘chorus’ please don’t think I mean a chipper round of it. It’s a bland, perfunctory, sometimes even whiny-sounding thing.

      I absolutely detest it. LOL

      I generally don’t like people commenting on my involuntary bodily functions anyway, but knowing that I’m going to hear half a dozen “bleeeess yoooou”s every time I sneeze drives me up the wall. I actually try to suppress sneezes sometimes. And I don’t comment on other people’s sneezes (for all I know this means my coworkers think I’m a horrible jerk, but no one’s seemed upset when I don’t join the chorus).

      It’s not something worth bringing up or being rude about, since it’s just a pet peeve and it IS considered courteous, but… can we trade offices?

      Reply
    17. NotaPirate

      I had a coworker ask me politely to stop saying it to them. They have bad allergies and sneeze a lot and found the bless you’s disruptive.

      Reply
    18. Daughter of Ada and Grace

      Someone will usually say either “Bless you” or “Gesundheit” when someone sneezes around here. (The difference is mostly in how many of your ancestors immigrated here from Germany in the 19th century.)

      Reply
    19. gecko

      In my office, if you overhear someone sneeze from across cubes, you don’t say “Bless you.” I like it that way; with cubes or (god forbid) an open office, the illusion of privacy is a very thin veil. It kinda breaks it when someone reminds you, “yeah, I can hear everything.”

      Reply
    20. ThisIsMyNewUserName

      YES – my reason is kinda weird… I mean, I do it because it’s nice and the proper thing to do, but …
      There’s a scene in the movie “Dogma” where Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are smiting all these horrible corporate people, and leaves one lady who has actually led a pretty good life. Except Matt goes “But you didn’t say ‘God bless you’ when I sneezed!” and Ben has to stop him from smiting her, as well.

      So I always say “God bless you”, just in case, and so that Matt Damon won’t smite me and Alanis Morisette will let me into heaven.

      Reply
    21. Lissa

      I don’t, because I am fighting against this social convention, lol. Not really but kind of…when I sneeze I often will sneeze 9 or 10 times, and it drives me crazy when people will keep saying it to me during. Just let me have my allergy attack in peace! I realize that I am the unusual one, but I don’t really get why we say it.

      Reply
      1. College Career Counselor

        Agreed with others that I don’t say “(God) bless you” for the religious connotations, but I will throw in a gesundheit if I’m with someone who sneezes. Overheard sneezes from down the hall may or may not get an acknowledgement (mine or anyone else’s). I generally sneeze once or twice at most (not a serial sneezer), but I can understand how someone who has an allergy attack would find it off-putting to have someone blessing them multiple times, esp. while they are still going.

        Weird story: recently, I sneezed while I was IN THE PROCESS OF SNEEZING ALREADY. I thought my head was going to explode.

        Reply
    22. LadyByTheLake

      I say “Gesundheit” if I’m right next to the person and it’s a single sneeze. If they have a cold or allergies I’m not going to say it every time, and I’m not going to say it unless I’m right there. That said, it is usually in a murmur, not enough to interrupt the flow.

      Reply
      1. bunniferous

        I live in the South and you say bless you because that is what is expected….but just wanted to note for the nonreligious, God is not the only one who can bless someone. People can bless each other (with a meaning of providing them with something good or desirable, not necessarily invoking the Lord into it.) In other words, just wanting something good for the other person.

        Or you can say nothing if that is your preference. Social conventions are weird, but they are what they are.

        Reply
    23. Positive Reframer

      Recently I sustained a back injury while sneezing, apparently its a pretty dangerous activity. I try to say it when I hear it, but as long as someone does, not everybody need to IMO.

      Reply
    24. C Average

      I always say “bless you.” I have ever since the first time (of many times) I watched the film “Singles” back in the ’90s. There’s a key plot point involving the saying and not saying of “bless you” post-sneeze, and it’s always stuck with me.

      I loved that film so very much. I still occasionally listen to the soundtrack on road trips. It’s like a time machine.

      Reply
    25. Goya de la Mancha

      Since two of us in our office have bad allergies and sneeze a lot, it generally goes unnoticed. It’s not weird to say it, it just would get to be a little much if our office said it after one of us sneezed multiple times per hour/day.

      Reply
    26. Elisabeth

      I think it’s a cultural context thing. I’m in the Bible Belt and most of my from the Bible Belt with Christian or other Christian adjacent backgrounds say it. It’s not the same for my co-workers from different background or even just different parts of the U.S. I do think because of location even people from different backgrounds expect to hear it and just say thank you.

      It’s literally a knee-jerk reaction for me even though I’m not and have never been religious because of years of living in small towns where I would be seen as odd for NOT doing so.

      Reply
      1. Sylvan

        +1

        Not religious, probably wouldn’t say it if I lived elsewhere, but this habit has been pretty well drilled into me.

        Reply
    27. Batty Twerp

      I say it, but I tend to wait until they’ve finished, because no one in my office sneezes just the once – they usually come in bundles of three. And the fourth one is followed by “once more with feeling”, or “finished? good. bless you. again.”, etc.

      Reply
    28. Jennifer

      Mine mostly don’t but they don’t like me anyway, so….
      I really don’t care. Your soul isn’t actually leaving your body when you sneeze really….

      Reply
    29. jukeboxx

      My office is chock full of blessers, but until recently we had a head blesser that would do the honors every time. She quit about 2 weeks ago and now one sneeze and the blesseningchorus is absolutely deafening. Sneezing chaos.

      Reply
    30. Recreational Moderation

      According to my late mom:
      One sneeze means love is coming into your life.
      Two sneezes means money is coming your way.
      Three sneezes means … you have a cold.
      (I think of her and smile every time I pass along that information.)

      Also, my usual response when someone sneezes is “Salud!” (“Health!”)

      Reply
      1. London Calling

        My mother once sneezed 21 times in a row (her record – she was an epic sneezer). What does that mean?

        Reply
        1. Recreational Moderation

          Oh, my gosh. I think that means she gets to retire the trophy!
          Apologies if it sounds like I’m making light of your mom’s episode—that’s definitely not my intention.
          I would admit it only in an anonymous forum such as this one, but I actually find some satisfaction and maybe a touch of enjoyment in a couple of sneezes in a row. But 21? Yikes. That’s a lot of sneezing. I send best wishes and the hope that your mother came out of it okay.

          Reply
    31. Marion Ravenwood

      Yes, but generally only to people I’m sitting close to. I do tend to wait a few seconds after the sneeze though in case there’s more than one! I would say ‘gesundheit’ to avoid the religious aspects, but I’m British and anything other than ‘bless you’ isn’t really the done thing here.

      Reply
    32. Crylo Ren

      I don’t say it because I’m pretty sure most of my coworkers would be offended by the religious connotations. (We have a disproportionate amount of Catholic-school alumni on my team.)

      However my coworker will say “Salud!” when someone sneezes.

      Reply
    33. Allison

      I might say “bless you” occasionally, but as a constant sneezer (allergies, yes I take medicine, it helps a lot but doesn’t make the sneezing stop completely) I really don’t need a chorus of it every time I sneeze, so I’m really okay with people not saying it at all. Also, if someone’s gonna say it in this super tired, annoyed “I’m just saying this because I have to but ugh I hate saying it” tone, I’d rather they not bother.

      I also kind of dislike a lot of social conventions that require a person to do a thing for me, which I really don’t need or particularly want them to do, but it requires me to smile and say something sweet in response, and if I don’t, I’m a bad person. So I play my part to be polite, so the person doesn’t feel put off or get angry, but I’d rather the whole thing just not happen at all, especially if it’s a total stranger.

      Reply
    34. Book Badger

      I know most people do, but I don’t. I have very bad allergies and sneeze a lot, so not only am I feeling embarrassed for sneezing at all, but now someone’s pointing it out! Sometimes multiple times! Gaaaaaah! So I don’t do it for other people for the same reason I wouldn’t want it done myself: do you REALLY want someone calling attention to your sneezing?

      Reply
    35. KayEss

      I’ll say it if someone sneezes while I am face-to-face with them in a conversation or a meeting, but I don’t like saying it if it’s someone in another cube or office sneezing. It disrupts the social illusion that cube walls are impenetrable barriers of privacy.

      I had a boss who would get shirty if she sneezed in her office and didn’t immediately hear a chorus of loud “bless you!”s from all of us out toiling in the cube farm, and I really hated how petty and controlling it was.

      Reply
    36. Achoo!

      I’m the office sneezer in an office where most folks are from a culture that doesn’t respond to sneezes, so when we have someone new or someone in temporarily from another location and they say, “bless you!” it startles me.

      Reply
    37. LilySparrow

      I do, when it seems appropriate:

      If we are already in conversation, but not in a meeting or working on something that requires concentration.

      If we’re in sight & speaking distance of each other and working independently on things that don’t need a lot of focus (like filing).

      I wouldn’t say it over a cube wall – that’s like I’m monitoring them. And I wouldn’t say it in a meeting or if they were so far away I had to raise my voice.

      Reply
    38. Lora

      I say Gesundheit. But my own sneezes are usually not recognizable as a sneeze to other humans, so I rarely get it back.

      Reply
    39. Jen in oregon

      1st sneeze — “bless you”
      2nd sneeze — “BLESS you!”
      3rd sneeze — nothing
      4th sneeze –nothing
      5th sneeze — “oh for crying out loud, pull yourself together!” (I am a nice, compassionate person, so this is always met with a laugh) followed immediately by “Can I get you anything? Tissues? Water? Benedryl?”

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        I read this way too fast and not all the letters on the last word. I thought that was very different of you to offer them a BEER and wouldn’t that make them sneeze MORE?

        Reply
      2. London Calling

        ‘5th sneeze — “oh for crying out loud, pull yourself together!”

        Or ‘knock it off, now you’re milking it.’ I once had a dreadful cold that had me sneezing so much that I told the colleagues who kept saying bless you to say it once and I’d take it as read for the rest of the day.

        Reply
    40. Admin of Sys

      (I actually had someone do the sign of the cross on me while I was having an allergy attack in a thrift store – they said that after sneezing that much I needed more than just a ‘bless you’)
      I usually default to ‘bless you’ but will sometimes follow it up with a ‘by whichever deity or lack there of you desire’ – but that’s mostly a throwback from my Erisian college days. If someone is sneezing a lot though, I usually just ignore it. ‘Bless you’ is more a response to the unexpected disruption – it’s a social convention to imply I’m not bothered by the interruption and wish the sneezing person well.

      Reply
    41. The Other Dawn

      People in my company typically say it, as do I; however, where my cousin lives, no one–IRL or at work–says it. Ever. It’s just the regional culture there. She said she found it really rude when she first moved there, and still isn’t fond of it after 25+ years, but she’s gotten used to it for the most part. She still says it, though, even though no one says it to her.

      My husband says ‘gesundheit’ since he’s half German.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Yeah, I think when it’s pressed into you since birth, it really feels odd when people don’t say bless you. The first time I was around such a group, I thought wow, people here don’t care, holy crap. I think the thing that bothers me is that we (society) don’t wish each other well often enough. “Bless you” seemed to fill in some gaps.

        Reply
    42. Ladylike

      I’m not comfortable saying it, for no particular reason. I have no objection to the phrase, or “blessing” people in general…I just always feel awkward about it, so I don’t say I. But I do thank people who say it to me, and I’d say it’s pretty common in my area.

      Reply
      1. ChaufferMeChaufferYou

        Yes you said it exactly. I’m not comfortable with the phrase, but lots of people around me do it, so I do thank them.

        Reply
    43. Yorkshire Rose

      Sometimes. It depends on how many people I can hear on the phone or not. I don’t want to disturb their phone calls.

      Also, I had a co-worker who was a Jehovah’s Witness and they don’t believe in saying it, so for a while I got in the habit of not saying it and not expecting it, either.

      Reply
    44. Jaguar

      Weird. So many people claim to do it. I don’t say anything after someone sneezes unless I’m joking around with the person, in which case I’ll say something like, “Whoa, look out.” Most people I know don’t say anything, either (although, I just might not notice it).

      I consider sneezing like coughing – something completely neutral that happens with no need to say anything about. But some people here seem to think that “bless you” provides a social function of some sort (relieving social tension, maybe?), which is foreign to me. Can anyone help me out with an explanation? Maybe I’ve been rude this entire time or unwittingly letting people stew in embarrassment or something.

      Reply
      1. only acting normal

        My family used to say “Cough it up, it might be a gold watch” for coughing fits… makes “bless you” for a sneeze seem perfunctory!

        Reply
    45. a

      I sometimes do, sometimes don’t. My coworker and I have allergies that cause us to sneeze frequently and her to sneeze repeatedly. So, it’s too much. Everyone else…if I notice, I might say ‘bless you.’ But I don’t pay that much attention.

      Reply
    46. Jessica Fletcher

      I say it if the person says it to other people. Right now, I generally say it to my coworkers. Another coworker recently left the organization. She was Mennonite and didn’t say “Bless you,” I think for religious reasons. So I didn’t say it to her, because I figured she didn’t like it.

      Reply
    47. Student

      I say “Gesundheit!” to people I’m directly interacting with if they sneeze. Mostly out of habit and because I was taught it was polite, like saying “excuse me” or “pardon me” if you bump into somebody accidentally. It’s a shorthand for “sorry you’re sick, hope you get better quickly.” But, that’s pretty much the literal German translation.

      I was taught, and I’m a bit surprised that I don’t see anyone mention it yet, that “Bless you” specifically came out of a superstition about souls leaving the body when you sneeze. Blessing the person was supposed to keep their soul trapped in their body. Maybe I was taught something really wrong or really local – is that not the origin of the phrase, that specific superstition?

      Some of the Christians I got to know in adulthood taught me “Bless you” was actually a borderline sacrilegious thing because it’s based on a superstition that is a nonsensical interpretation (maybe satire?) of the soul mechanics that they actually believe in. I’ve always avoided it since, because I thought it was both a strange superstition and potentially actually offensive to my religious colleagues. Sounds like it’s actually expected and considered polite in the US South, which is an extremely different take than that. Maybe it has to do with specific Christian sects?

      Reply
    48. Vodka Quiet

      Yes. There are three of us in one room, so it’s not very frequent or disruptive.

      There used to be one coworker elsewhere in the company who sneezed a *lot* and eventually after one particularly loud sneeze, I sent him an IM saying “Bless you! <- applies to all future sneezes." And then I never said it to him again.

      Reply
    49. Lcsa99

      I work in a pretty isolated area (I’m at the reception desk) so I really only say it if they are physically close enough at the time. And then not always. If it’s one of those people that sneezes 20 times a day I often won’t. If it’s an exceptionally enthusiastic sneeze I will. Once the mail man sneezed in the elevator so loudly that I could hear it from my desk so when the elevator door opened several moments later I said bless you.

      Reply
    50. Someone Else

      If I say anything, it’s Gesundheit. If someone else says that (or bless you) before I do, then I say nothing. Or if someone sneezed sort of in the middle of their own sentence but then continued, I don’t interrupt them to say it. I just let them continue because it seems less fluid to do otherwise. Or if I’m far enough away from someone that I hear the sneeze but would need to be overly loud for them to heard me, I don’t bother (which is most of the time). I don’t really notice if colleagues say anything to me when I sneeze, but I don’t really care so it makes sense it doesn’t really register.

      Reply
    51. Girl friday

      I usually don’t say anything. It’s to ward off evil spirits and I’m more interested in warding off germs. Either Gesundheit or bless you is correct. I just think it’s odd to acknowledge a sneeze.

      Reply
    52. Easily Amused

      At my last place, whenever the guy next to me sneezed, he would immediately say “Ah, bless me” so I figured he had himself covered. No one else there ever even acknowledged a sneeze and it felt odd to me but I didn’t find the group as a whole to be warm. At my current place, a few people will say something (we all sit in one room) and I find people to be much friendlier generally.

      Reply
    53. Miss Displaced

      Depends on proximity? Like, in a meeting or at a table I would likely say it, but out in the cubicle farm, probably not. Kind of a privacy thing, not to mention you’d be saying it all the time.

      Reply
  2. Claire

    I’m wondering if anyone has advice on having a “big picture” career trajectory type conversation with their supervisor? My boss and I have generally really good rapport, but I’m hoping to have this kind of conversation with him at our check in next week. My position was newly created when I was hired 3 years ago, and I work for a very flat organization, so I’m hoping to have a candid conversation with him about if/how he sees my position growing or changing moving into the future. Any tips or advice on how to bring this up and tactfully ask these kinds of questions?

    Reply
    1. Lil Fidget

      I find that if what I want is more money or a new title, I need to have that title or precise amount in mind when I go into the conversation, because otherwise I end up saying “more responsibilities” and the boss thinks, “oh I can throw a few new tasks at her, and that’ll be new and interesting. Like instead of just doing green widgets, she could do the green and orange widgets (for no new money or title obvs), and that would be a real win win.”

      Reply
      1. Claire

        Yeah that makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately I’ve already had the “more money” conversation, which didn’t pan out. New title is also a tough ask when my organization is really flat and has very specific guidelines for title changes (usually after 10-15 years in and a tenure-like packet of work is submitted, but people stay in the same role with just a small title change & salary bump)

        Reply
        1. Lil Fidget

          Hmm, I guess I would only mention to that, at least in my experience, your boss is probably never going to TELL you that, in order to advance, you have to leave the organization – but that is very common in a career. When you reach the top, and there’s no short-term path, and they’ve denied you a raise, it’s probably time to look outside of your current org for your next move. It can be a killer to stay too long because at some places, they’ll never keep up with the salaries you could command externally. Also sometimes it’s a real win for your boss to have someone overqualified working at a lower salary and title and not realizing they’d be a manager or director somewhere else. So yes, talk to your boss, but also look at your own situation with self-interest.

          Reply
          1. Jerry Vandesic

            I agree with Lil Fidget. Your boss does not work in an organization that supports long term career growth and development. Having that discussion with him is going to be difficult, and could backfire if he thinks you are not a fit for his organization.

            I’d suggest finding someone outside your company but in your industry to act as a mentor, and have the kind of discussion you want with them. One of the things you should include in your discussion is whether your currently employer is giving your what you need for your career, and whether you need to look for something new.

            Reply
      2. Kinder gentler manager

        Going to add something to the feedback you are already getting – as a manager when an employee frames a conversation like this as “what do I need to do/work on/improve to be ready to move up” it is a much better conversation. It shows me right off the bat that they understand this is a long term picture, that they may not be ready for a promotion immediately, and are invested in their own path. It’s my job to create the path and guide them along, and an engaged partner makes it much easier and more successful!

        Reply
        1. Claire

          Thanks, I really appreciate this feedback! Super helpful. I guess my bigger question is how to frame that when “moving up” isn’t really a thing in my organization? We’re such a flat organization that I’m not really sure what moving up would even look like for someone in my role, which is why I’m looking to have this conversation.

          Reply
    2. Susan K

      I think good managers usually have this kind of conversation during performance reviews. At my company, that is actually a standard part of the performance review, and there’s even a space for it on the form. Since your company (or at least your manager) apparently doesn’t do it that way, maybe you could ask during your next performance review or even a periodic one-on-one (if you have those). Does your manager ever give you the opportunity to ask questions or provide comments during your review? If so, that would be a good time to say, “Actually, I would like to discuss my career progression,” and go from there.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        Our company does this too – on the employee input part of the review document, there’s questions about 1-2 yr, 5 yr, and ultimate career goals. The intent is that your supervisor, knowing where you’re trying to go, can tailor their assignments in that direction or try to get you cross-training in the areas you’re interested in.

        Reply
      2. Claire

        Yes definitely, our reviews happen annually in the beginning of the year, so i’m looking for ways to approach this conversation outside of that context in a more general one-on-one (since I don’t want to wait until next year to have it).

        Reply
    3. gecko

      I’m always in favor of stating up front what conversation you want to have and what your expectations are. It’s a transition into a conversation where it’s tough to think of a natural segue, and it lets you set the tone.

      So in your case, I might say, “I wanted to talk with you about another thing—my long-term career here. I’d like to ask your thoughts on this and have a quick conversation.” Then you can ask your first question. Maybe, “Is there room for me to be promoted?” or “Is there room for me to advance without being promoted?” And then you’re in the conversation :)

      Be prepared with what you think the consequences of the conversation might be. For instance, if your boss says, “there’s absolutely no future for you,” you could say, “ok, I can see myself staying longer if I can learn a new process” or something.

      You can do it! It’s an important conversation.

      Reply
      1. College Career Counselor

        I am in the process of having this conversation with my boss (mine was a newly-created position several years ago), as a result of having demonstrated a track record of successful programs and accomplishments. I think you need to say what it is you want (title, responsibilities, have some idea of what the pay bump may be) and ask your supervisor to comment on the feasibility of this AND the timeline/expectations for it to go forward. Demonstrate the value it will bring to the organization/mission/clients, etc. Helpful if you can point to either increased revenue (beyond the cost of promoting you) or increased savings (ditto).

        They may be perfectly happy with you in your current niche, and there may be no plan for promoting you (unless you become a Subject Matter Expert, if you’re not already). In that case, as gecko says, you may have to be prepared to move out to move up.

        Reply
    4. nd

      Agree with gecko, and want to add that you should be clear on what you’re looking for. Do you want more money and a promotion? I know you said it didn’t pan out last time you talked, but perhaps you could get a timeline for one or the other, or both.

      Or do you want to grow in terms of adding to your knowledge and skillset? If so, be specific what you want. Also, are you able to identify areas in your company where you can help out and grow? If so, mention that. This is the approach I have taken in the organizations where I have had successful growth- I saw a need and was able to step in and help out. Usually, the money and promotion came shortly after.

      Reply
    5. Some kind of anonymous

      I was going to post about this myself! Same exact situation, even down to 3 years (or will be 3 years next month).

      Reply
    6. Fantasma

      You’re just where I was about 6 months ago. Then I went to a career Q&A panel and got great advice from the executives who spoke. They advised everyone to create a simple personal development plan (you’ll find tons of examples online). The PDP should cover what specifically you want to achieve at the company/in your current role on various timelines and what specific skills you want to build and/or learning opportunities/resources you want to take advantage of (classes, conferences, mentorships, short-term assignments, etc.). Your PDP should include what success looks like for you in all of your areas of development — make it goal-oriented.

      I did that and used my PDP to have a frank conversation with my then-manager, who told me that my role didn’t have that scope. It was disappointing but I appreciated at least knowing. So I started looking internally — the benefit in a flat organization is there are often more chances for lateral moves. Within about a month, I’d narrowed it to a few options and took the role that offered the kind of growth I wanted.

      Here’s how I framed the conversation with Former Boss: “Since I’ve been in my role about 3 years, I’d like to talk about what growth looks like from my perspective, keeping in mind our team’s goals. Here’s a PDP I made with some professional goals I have for myself for the next couple of years. Could we talk about how these could fit in with growth areas for the team? And if these aren’t aligned, we should talk about that, too, because I hope I’ll have your support in finding a role that would be a better match.” Former Boss and I could talk pretty candidly to each other, and he did try really hard to offer options but ultimately there was not enough scope to ever get promoted in that particular role and that was one of my goals.

      One thing to note: In previous career conversations we’d had that weren’t structured around a PDP, he had said there was growth but once we had everything on paper we both realized that we literally hadn’t been on the same page. It all worked out, and I enjoy my new job a lot and know it has the right growth potential for me in the future.

      Reply
  3. Sunflower

    I’m wondering if I can ask for extra $$ for taking on a boatload of work while my bosses position is being filled. Since I wasn’t promoted, I feel like I don’t have grounds to ask for this but it feels like the only thing that might keep me a little bit sane in this time.

    For the past year, I’ve been performing well above my job level. My boss was recently let go and when I compared our job descriptions(they are totally different), there are only about 5 things in the 55 items that I do not already do. At my review last month, I was not promoted and basically told I need to work on my consistency and attention to detail and my grandboss would put me up for mid-year promotion. I am so overwhelmed with work now (right before my boss, it was announced that the other person on my team was changing teams so I’m really alone) that there’s no way I am going to meet my goals addressed on my last review. Before my boss left, it was already known that our team is lean with the 3 of us. My boss’s job is posted but they don’t have any quality candidates in the pipeline.

    It feels pointless for me to even care about work since I feel like my work the last year was really overlooked(my grandboss even noted during my review she didn’t realize how much I do). And even if I do the best I can, there’s no way things aren’t going to fall thru the cracks with the amount of work on my plate.

    I would like additional monetary compensation. I am non-exempt so I do collect OT for my time worked but I really feel like I was working well above my level before and now I’m basically doing my bosses job with no one to flow work down to for support. While my grand-boss may be project managing the flow of the work, I am the one doing all of it. I am job searching but I’m also changing cities so leaving isn’t possible for a few months.

    Reply
    1. Foreign Octopus

      Maybe extra money won’t be possible but see if you can get other benefits like a few extra PTO days or something.

      Reply
      1. Jules the 3rd

        PTO is useless when there’s no one to cover the workload.

        1) Ask for a team mate to be hired asap
        2) Review with the grandboss, at least monthly, the list of things you are doing, and the list of things that are not happening because there’s no time and no second person.

        You have a management problem. Make sure management knows the impact of their lack of action.

        Reply
    2. Monty's Mom

      Is there any way to have another conversation with grandboss about your review and goals? Explaining that you really want to focus on your goals, but it is impossible while covering so many other duties might get you a reprieve for that, at least. As for monetary compensation, I don’t know how to work that in. This sounds overwhelming, so I hope you are able to catch a break somewhere! Wishing you the best of luck in this situation!

      Reply
      1. nd

        Agree with this. Talk with the grandboss about achieving goals and keeping up with day-to-day. Ask for help with prioritizing.

        Reply
      2. uranus wars

        This was going to be my advice as well.

        More money will likely come with a higher expectation for results but with the same unmanageable workload. Focus on how the additional tasks are taking away from your own ability to do the job correctly, framing it as “I’d like more money” likely won’t get the long-term result/promotion desired.

        Reply
    3. Antilles

      I kinda doubt it.
      1.) Putting in extra work temporarily in a short-term crunch is typically just part of the deal in most jobs. A good manager will keep this in mind when reviews and raises/bonuses come up, but it’s just the general deal.
      2.) You’re also non-exempt and getting OT pay. Presuming OT works the usual time-and-a-half, they’re going to look at this as “wait, I’m already paying you extra”.
      However, you *are* fully within your rights to grab your grandboss and discuss the overall job. If you’re overworked because you’re doing the work of 3 people and think you won’t be able to handle the specific items/goals you agreed upon because of that, you absolutely should be proactive and flag it. Then you listen very carefully to how he reacts:
      >Maybe he tells you that he understands and says that by handling so much, he’s going to put you up for promotion anyways.
      >Maybe he doesn’t realize just how much there was, so he takes some of the responsibilities off your plate or perhaps he just says that some of the 55 items aren’t actually important and tells you to ignore them. Lightens your load a little.
      >Maybe he just doesn’t care at all and tells you to figure it out…which doesn’t solve your problem, but is a pretty clear indication that you need to focus more heavily on your search because you now know that your grandboss is going to blame you in six months for “failing to improve in the areas we discussed”.

      Reply
      1. nd

        I tend to agree with this. A lot of manager jobs include many, many non-management tasks, and I suspect that is what you’re doing. Those remaining 5 out of the 55 items may be the ones that distinguish managers. But you should talk with your grandboss about your workload and ask for help with prioritizing.

        Reply
    4. Lil Fidget

      My personal rule is that if I’m covering for someone for less than six months, I have to just suck it up and hope that it gets remembered in annual review time (I will bring it up at annual review time, I mean remembered monetarily). If it’s more than six months though, I’d better get a sense that a raise/promotion is headed down the pike if I’m doing sustained higher-level work at the same old salary and title. Otherwise, you can get caught out really easily doing director-level work for an assistant’s pay – and without even the title, you may not be able to leverage the experience into a new position.

      Reply
    5. Bea

      You could request a bonus of some type for your work increase. This may be easier for them to do because you’re not supposedly going to be doing all the work when they do fill your bosses position. So a raise is a permanent solution whereas a bonus payment is an acknowledgment of a one time ordeal.

      Reply
      1. Ama

        Yeah, at two different (non-profit, even) employers I have on three different occasions received spot bonuses because I had temporarily taken on extra responsibilities — twice when my bosses were unexpectedly unavailable and once, last summer, when hiring for my vacant admin position took longer than expected and I was doing all the admin tasks on top of my usual ones. That last time I was really not expecting anything because it wasn’t an emergency like the first two, but my current org is great about recognizing those things.

        I will say I am non-exempt so I don’t know how overtime will affect how your bosses see the situation but I think it is worth asking.

        Reply
    6. BRR

      My employer offers temporary raises for this sort of situation. Maybe you can ask for that? I would also talk with your grand boss now about your goals. Let them know that your goals aren’t aligning with what was set and the situation changed.

      Reply
      1. Susan K

        Yeah, I’ve worked at places that do that. It might be a good idea to check the employee handbook to see if that’s a thing where you work.

        Reply
      2. Ennigaldi

        I have this too – if you are covering a higher position for more than two weeks, you get paid 10% more for that time.

        Reply
    7. Rex

      Sunflower, I’m actually a little concerned about what you’ve written here — if your grandboss thinks you have problems with consistency and attention to detail, and you don’t expect those things to improve, I think you’re going to have a very hard time getting a promotion or raise. It sounds to me like you need to do a much better job making sure your grandboss really understands the volume of work you’re doing, and that you’re both on the same page about which has to give — quantity or quality. You don’t sound like you’re on the same page right now, and that is a problem.

      Reply
        1. Rex

          I interpreted that as an “IF you bring up your performance, we will revisit a promotion in 6 months” convo, but I could be wrong.

          Reply
      1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

        This is was stood out to me too.

        I agree that you (Sunflower) deserve a raise, however I can’t imagine it going over well based on the current circumstances. The Grandboss does not seem to understand the magnitude of the work you’ve taken on and has issues with your performance. In your defense, it sounds like the Grandboss’s issues with your performance are NOT an accurate assessment of the situation (it sounds like it’s quite reasonable that your consistency and attention to detail have slipped a bit as a direct result of taking on large quantity of additional work – reasonable managers will understand this), unfortunately though, Grandboss does not seem to see that.

        If you look at it from the Grandboss’s perspective (even though their perspective might not accurate/fair, they’re the boss, so it is what is) – what would you think if your employee asked for a raise if you don’t think their workload is that crazy and you just had to speak to them about a lack of consistency/attention to detail? It would look pretty out of touch.

        Again, this sucks, and I totally agree that you deserve a raise, but I think you would probably be better served focusing on making sure grandboss understands the entire scope of your role and working on fixing their perception of your accuracy/attention to detail before asking for a raise.

        Reply
      2. Sunflower

        My review was a bit awkward as it was compiled by my boss who was let go for performance issues and my grandboss went through it with me- she disagreed with that part of it (it was clear in my review that my old boss had zeroed in on a one time instance that we had thoroughly discussed previously and magnified it throughout the review). In last year’s review, my grand-boss said she thought I suffered because of having a bad manager and that this year would be different. So I was pretty disappointed that it felt like that happened again.

        I didn’t address this in my comment but at my mid-year check in last year, my boss and I spoke about my attn to detail and my boss was clear that it wasn’t an issue and any occurrences were very minor, it was just something I could improve on(in fact, it said in my review that it was improving) so when that was given to me as the reason I wasn’t promoted, it seemed like a BS excuse rather than they had minimized the issues in the first place.

        Reply
    8. Lizardbreath

      It sounds like you Have some pretty basic development areas to address (“attention to detail”) so making a case that you are performing “well above” your level doesn’t really make much sense. You’re already making overtime for the extra workload, which is, well, extra pay. I’d recommend focusing on the basics in your development plan-attention to detail and those types of things are fairly standard expectations and shouldn’t be things that fall through the cracks just because you’re taking on additional work. This seems like a great opportunity to prove you ARE ready for
      Promotion.

      Reply
      1. LCL

        It’s Friday so I can be as cynical as I want, so here it is-this is a game management plays with their high performers. High performer does excellent work, learns the job and is given extra duties, inevitably something falls through the cracks, management uses this as an excuse to keep high performer exactly where they want them. OP is already doing most of what should be the boss’ duty. And OP is being told that the company is looking for a replacement for boss, but shucks, they just can’t find any qualified candidates. They’re probably not looking very hard, because they’ve got OP to do OPs job and boss’ job. Lack of attention to detail is a bullshit phrase used when someone has more work dumped on them than can be reasonably done.

        I don’t know much leverage OP has with this company. Pointing all of this out to them may get them to give OP a bonus, or extra vac days, or they may tell her to hit the road.

        Reply
        1. Anon for this

          Yep, been there. I spent 3 years covering the work of my boss’s two deputies, and kept getting told that I would be promoted but they just had to find space (despite the fact that these two people were refusing to even come to our department but would only work in the main department). Eventually I left because it was clear that they would never promote me, even though I was doing the job already.

          Reply
    9. Legal Rugby

      When my boss left, and they asked me to take one half of her duties, I got about an 8k bump/year, which they will pay me until 2 months after the new director comes in. That was unsolicited. I think its work asking.

      Reply
    10. Thlayli

      I think you should have a conversation with grandboss where you say something along the lines of the following:
      1 you were told if you performed your own job really well you would be promoted (assuming all the goals relate to your own actual job)
      2 you are currently doing your own job, your bosses job (and your coworkers job if I’m reading that right?) And it’s just not possible to do your own job really well while doing the other jobs too
      3 you see three possible options:
      1 you stop doing the bosses (and coworkers) job altogether so that you can concentrate on doing your own job really well and get your promotion
      2 you are officially given the bosses job along with a suitable increase in salary and title
      3 you get a temporary increase in salary while you continue doing the bosses job until that role is properly filled
      Tell grandboss outright: “I’m not comfortable continuing to do both jobs especially since it’s been made clear that the work I’ve done for bosses job won’t be taken into account in me getting a promotion. If all that matters for promotion is the work on my own job, then that’s clearly all you want me to do”.

      Reply
  4. Foreign Octopus

    So something I was thinking about this morning.

    A few years ago when JK Rowling published her Cormoran Strike series under Robert Galbraith, someone working for either the publishing house or her agency leaked the fact that she was the author to the press and was fired.

    How would they even begin to explain that in an interview? It seems like in every job they would go for, in the industry or out of it, that’s a hell of a thing to explain away. Does anyone have any ideas?

    Reply
    1. SoCalHR

      Yeah, that’s a BIG deal… to me (not even being very well versed in the publishing world) that would be akin to someone working in finance and stealing money, or a celebrity nanny selling pics of the kids – major violation of the position.

      Reply
    2. MuseumChick

      The only way you could go about it think would be if it was an accident (I don’t know how it could be a accident but I don’t work in that industry) and express extreme mortification and regret. Even then I think your chance of getting a job would be extremely slim not just because of leaking information but also because of the power, popularity, and respect that JK Rowling holds for many people.

      Reply
    3. Lil Fidget

      As someone with some knowledge of the publishing industry, I’m not 100% sure if it was “leaked” the way government stuff is sometimes *wink-wink leaked.* The publishing house made a LOT more money on that book once people knew JK Rowling had written it.

      Reply
      1. MissGirl

        I worked in publishing, and we valued profitable authors to the point of putting up with A LOT of diva behavior. This publishing company would have to be huge fools to do anything to jeopardize a relationship with JK Rowling over the profits of one book.

        I believe it was one employee who had more to gain. And he would definitely need to find a new industry to work in or build a freelance business under a pseudonym.

        Reply
      2. Cousin Itt

        Same, I think the leak was real – but that her identity would have been purposefully revealed at some point. I think the alias was originally used to fend off the type of scrutiny and criticism The Casual Vacancy got, but once the book had positive reviews the leak worked in their favour, proving she could write something apart from Harry Potter and getting positive press for the whole ‘I want to stand on my own merits as an author not just my name’ narrative.

        Reply
      3. many bells down

        The Strike novels are *exactly* the kind of detective novel I regularly search for on Amazon and yet it never came up once in my searches until it was revealed that Rowling was the actual author. So I can see why they might have wanted to “wink wink” leak it.

        Reply
    4. Purple soda

      I always wondered with big errors like this, is it feasible for one to not inform the interviewer of what happened? Or would that constitute a lie (which would result in termination once discovered?)

      Reply
    5. CTT

      I think it was actually one of the lawyers for the firm used by her or her publisher, which is even more disastrous for one’s career. I don’t know how it works in the UK, but you can get serious professional sanctions in the US for breaking client confidentiality.

      Reply
    6. karou

      It was one of her lawyers, who was told his wife’s friend, who later tweeted about it. He was fined and rebuked by the Solicitors Regulation Authority for breaching confidentiality, the firm was sued by Rowling and they had to pay a bunch of damages (I believe that mostly went to charity). You can Google the whole story and his explanation. I have no idea what the lawyer is up to now, but his name in all the articles and that history it would probably be very difficult to explain away!

      Reply
        1. Persephone Mulberry

          Disclaimer: everything I know about law firms I learned from The Good Wife and Suits.

          But I’d imagine cutting loose a partner, particularly if he’s named or has equity, is somewhat more challenging than firing a regular employee.

          Reply
          1. Bagpuss

            It depends. In out partnership agreement we have a provision which allows us to vote out another partner, but it has to be unanimous. (and then then are paid out their equity the same way as if they retired), which in our case is in instalments, not in a lump sum.

            If the SRA had considered his offence serious enough to strike him off (I think the equivalent in the US is disbarring?) then probably the firm could have got rid of him on the basis that he was no longer able to perform his role.

            (My view when it first came out was that it wasn’t a stunt, because client confidentiality is such a big part of our professional standards, you’d be a lunatic to risk your career, there would be other ways of leaking it if they’d wanted it leaked just then)

            Reply
      1. hello fellow publishing people

        Yup, that’s what I remembered! I will say that as someone who works in publishing, big info gets leaked all the time, but it’s to close publishing friends over dinner who certainly aren’t going to go to the papers about it. Or it’s an “inside publishing” sort of open secret, but everyone knows to respect the formal announcement’s timing. Good gossip is worth something in your inner circle, but just about almost publishing news is incredibly boring to anyone outside the industry so there’s just not the attitude of taking it somewhere.

        But yeah, if you publicly broke the news or leaked a hot manuscript widely (this is the big risk with new assistants, actually, or that they’ll be careless and get hacked or whatever even if they just shared with one friend) then yes, that can really mess up your career. I don’t know of anyone who has done that, though.

        Reply
    7. Ama

      I think you’d have to be very candid about how it happened and what you had learned from it so that it wouldn’t happen again (although that would maybe not work as well if say, someone sold confidential information to the press rather than just happened to mention it to the wrong person).

      I worked at an org once that hired a CEO who had had to take the fall at her previous job for a big mistake her previous employer had made (if you are in the U.S. you would definitely know what I was referring to if I said where she worked). So of course when she was hired the entire staff knew who she was and where she had come from. In her first staff meeting she said she wasn’t going to eat up staff meeting time telling the entire story, but that she had told the Board the full details in her interview and was happy to do so to anyone who wanted to discuss. I really think it was her willingness to talk about it (and also her awareness that not everyone would want to sit through that) that eased a lot of people’s initial wariness about her leadership.

      Reply
    8. Creag an Tuire

      Somwhere a few years ago there was a question like this (it was about the conductor who dozed off on the job and crashed the Blue Line train into an escalator — thankfully nobody was killed).

      IIRC the response was basically: “Yeah, if you’ve messed up badly enough to end up as a headline, you should probably plan to switch careers.”

      Reply
      1. LJay

        I think the discussion here though it that this would have pretty overreaching repercussions for a lot of careers.

        The conductor could take a job in retail or something like that were there just isn’t driving involved anymore.

        For this you’ve pretty much shown that you’re willing to use personal/private information for your own gain, which is pretty limiting in most jobs. In retail – are you going to steal people’s credit card numbers to hurt them, in health care are you going to improperly access PHI, in a corporate position are you going to reveal strategy decisions to your competitors? etc

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          Eh, there are all kinds of people out there. I am often surprised by how many people are willing to give others second, third and fourth chances. By way of example, a person I know committed X (Felony Crime) at work. After the legal stuff got settled, Person found a new job. This person committed the same type of X as in the previous incident. All the legal stuff got processed again. Time passed and the person got a third job. Annnd Person committed X again.

          I am impressed with the people who were willing to hire Person. We have that section of people who are willing to offer a person a chance to turn over a new leaf. It could be that the person making the offer has a similar story to tell and understands the importance of putting opportunity out there. And sometimes it works. I think when it works it’s no one factor it’s several stars being in alignment.

          A story we can relate to here is credit card guy. This is a person who racked up a huge bill on the company credit card. The stars were in alignment. The guy wanted to make it right. The employer was willing to try to work it through. The story ended very well for everyone.

          Reply
  5. Susan K

    I’m a decent home baker. I wouldn’t make it on the Great British Baking Show (even if I were British), but I’d say my baking is above average. I occasionally bring in treats for work — I’m talking a couple of times per year. I’ve brought cupcakes for department parties, Christmas cookies, and a cake one time.

    Even though I don’t bake all that often, I have somehow become known for my baking. I’m guessing it’s because I’m a private person and I don’t share much about my life, so this one thing has become my defining characteristic. Last year, I got baking gadgets in the Secret Santa gift exchange because my Secret Santa asked around about what I would like, and apparently, the only thing people knew about me was, “Susan likes to bake.” People sometimes make comments, like when we get a grocery store cake for someone’s birthday, they’ll say, “Too bad it’s not as good as one of Susan’s cakes,” even though it is.

    For some reason, one of my coworkers has been going around and telling people in other departments about my baked goods, and I’ve been getting accosted by people I don’t even know, who demand (in a joking way, but still uncomfortable) that I bring in baked goods for them. One guy offered to pay me to make cookies for him — and this is someone who hasn’t even tried any of my baked goods to see if he likes them, so he’s going solely off of what my coworker told him! I have no interest in selling my baked goods because they are really tedious and time-consuming to make, and making them to sell would not be worth my time and effort. I make them a few times per year for friends/family/coworkers, just as a nice treat for the people in my life.

    All the attention on my baking actually makes me not want to bring in treats. It’s a lot of pressure, and now I’m afraid that if people try my treats after hearing so much hype, they’ll be disappointed. And I really don’t want coworkers I don’t even know demanding baked goods. What do I even say to these people, for example, when I call someone with a work question and they respond, “I want cupcakes!”? I know they mean it in a nice way, but it’s getting weird, not to mention the gendered implications of being known for my baking rather than my work.

    Reply
    1. She's One Crazy Diamond

      Maybe say that you’d be happy to bake for them if they paid $X/dozen, possibly a price that’s just high enough to be unreasonable? That will get the message across and call them out for being entitled to your free labor.

      Reply
      1. Blue Eagle

        I would
        – just say that baking used to be my hobby but now I __________ (fill in the blank with whatever else you enjoy),
        – stop bringing items I baked to work, and
        – bake only for friends and family.

        I would stay away from quoting a price because either someone will take it the wrong way and will call you a ___ for charging so high a price or they will actually want to pay it and BINGO! you are in a baking business that you do not want.

        Reply
      2. Thlayli

        work out how long it would take to make whatever they’re asking for and the ingredients and ask for an amount that is your hourly rate for your actual job plus the ingredients cost. That will probably be high enough to make it unrealistic and it’s what you would actually need to charge to make it worth your while. For me it works out at about €10 a cupcake. You can work out in advance how much you would have to charge per cupcake or per cookie or per cake and whenever people ask you can say “I make them as a hobby when I feel like it. If I was to make them as a job I’d have to charge €10 a cupcake, so it’s not a feasible business and so I don’t bake to order. Now tell Me about the llama nail varnish.”

        Repeat until they get the hint.

        Also – it’s a human trait to home in on the info you know about a person. If you shared some other info about your life outside of work people might put less emphasis on the baking.

        Reply
      3. formerSGartist

        I made the mistake once of using the office copier to enlarge one of my stained glass designs. My co-worker immediately asked if I’d create one for her, saying she would pay for the glass. Most (including her) have no idea of the cost of lead and beveled glass, or the amount of labor involved using the centuries-old leaded method (not copper foil). I declined as politely as I could, telling her I had several I was already working on, and that each took months to complete. She seemed insulted, and our working relationship soured after that.

        Reply
    2. Daisy Avalin

      I’d be tempted, the next time you get stopped by someone asking for baked goods, to ask them what on earth they’re talking about! When they act confused, explain that you have once or twice brought in baked goods for your team, but you are not a baker nor do you supply baked goods on demand. Furthermore, even if you were inclined to bring in treats more often for your team, you would not provide them for people you don’t know!

      Reply
    3. Mockingjay

      I would stop bringing baked goods entirely. Save them for friends outside work and family.

      If asked (or demanded) by coworkers, “Oh, I don’t bake anymore. I’m into rice sculptures these days.”

      Reply
      1. Friday

        +1. Time to stop baking for your coworkers. Be known for being awesome at your actual job, not your baking skills. And you should probably tell that one coworker who is promoting you as The Baker to knock it off.

        Reply
    4. HigherEdPerson

      LOL, I get that too (but not to that degree).
      I would say something like “Oh, don’t we all want cupcakes? I’m taking a baking hiatus for right now, but thanks for thinking of me!” and then just bake as you want, but don’t bring it into work.

      And if someone requests an order from you, tell them “That’s very nice of you to ask, but baking is just my hobby. I only do it when I have time, and that’s just not possible right now.”

      Also, can we geek out together over fav baking cookbooks? Dorie Greenspan’s Baking is my go-to baking bible. I adore it.

      Reply
      1. Susan K

        I get most of my recipes online because I hate to spend money on cookbooks when I can get recipes for free. Dorie Greenspan’s recipes are great, though — I have used her cheesecake recipe several times and it is always perfect! Maybe I will put her cookbook on my wish list.

        Reply
    5. MusicWithRocksInIt

      I am also a baker! I brought in treats to my old job fairly frequently. If anyone ever bugged me about it I would usually ask them when the last time was that they brought in something for everyone. Not in a hostile way, but in the same light and jokey tone they are trying to use on me. You could also try “I bake for fun, but when people demand I do it it’s less fun” (also said lightheartedly) Or “Wow, that’s a lot of pressure, and let me tell you I do not bake well under pressure” Or “I’m sorry – I usually only bake in small batches so I only bring enough for my department, but there is a great bakery over in next town over if you want to buy something for your department”. Just remain light and jokey tone as much as you can. If they keep pushing go more serious and say something like “You are kinda making me uncomfortable right now, please stop asking”.

      Reply
      1. Key Lime Pie

        That’s more or less what I did when I started getting not-really-joking-demands for pies (“How about doing some baking this weekend?” “Oh, I was hoping you’d bring pie like last Friday.”) Just saying I didn’t have time didn’t take, so I made some not-really-joking comments like, “Wow that’s a lot of pressure over baked goods!” and then finally, “It’s only fun for me if it’s spontaneous, so every time someone demands a pie, it gets bumped out two weeks.”

        Reply
    6. NotaPirate

      Start talking about another hobby at work? It won’t stop the existing baked goods pressure but would make it another thing to know about you and dilute the effect.

      Reply
      1. Former Admin Turned Project Manager

        As both a baker and a knitter, I can say that my experience is that coworkers knowing two hobbies will actually increase the discomfort. Not only will you be asked to bring in cupcakes, but folks will offer to pay you “generously” to make a blanket for them by giving a figure that will barely cover half of the necessary yarn.

        Reply
        1. Windchime

          I’m a knitter and a quilter, and I get the same thing. When I wear a sweater to work that took weeks to knit and cost over a hundred dollars’ for the yarn alone, I always get hints about how they would love a similar sweater and hey, I could *sell* those!

          I only knit or quilt for people I love, or for charity. I never charge for it, and the only way I could imagine selling a knitted or quilted object would be for a charity raffle. Not to a coworker who I barely know.

          Reply
          1. Jennifer Thneed

            I don’t get that shit very often, happily. But when I do, I ask people what they think I should charge for the garment in question.

            They’ll probably name a store-made price, in which case, “but this is handmade”, which lets you also talk about hours and how much yarn costs (note to everyone: nobody knits to save money. Not possible anymore). If they’re a little smarter, they’ll offer to buy you the yarn, but you can still talk about how much time it takes (while wondering if they really understand what the yarn will cost).

            For those who REALLY don’t get it, I tell them how many stitches the garment contains. For some reason “it took me a month” doesn’t make the same impression as “I made 15,000 stitches”. And so many people don’t believe that a pair of socks has as many stitches as a plain sweater.

            (Someone once asked me how long it takes me to make a pair of socks. But it’s so variable! I have some that took 10 months because I took a long break. Or because they were the project I carried around and did 2 rows every so often. I have at least one pair that took just over a week – because I had 2 hours of bus commute every day and good books to listen to. And it matters if they’re plain or fancy too. Plain socks I can knit without looking at my hands. Those go fast.)

            Reply
        2. sheworkshardforthemoney

          Hey, I bake and knit too! We’re getting into the time of year that people start to put in requests for hand made goodies both edible and hand knit. For knitting, I usually look at the pattern, I stick to hats and sweaters and figure out the cost of the yarn and my time and name my price. Most people balk which is fine, my days of providing a free service are over.

          Reply
    7. Purple soda

      You really have some really entitled coworkers. I also had a couple of great home cooks as coworkers, and while it’s a joy and cheers all round when they bring their goods, I can never imagine straight up asking them to make things. Much less coworkers I barely know!

      Reply
      1. Susan K

        Yeah, no kidding! I almost wonder if the coworker who has been telling people about my baking has been leading them to believe that I love baking so much that I am looking for people to eat my baked goods, and they think they’re doing me a favor by volunteering.

        Reply
    8. Celeste

      This reminds me of something I saw on a knitting forum:

      Sex is like knitting. If I like you and you appreciate it, it’s free. Otherwise, you couldn’t pay me enough.

      Reply
    9. gecko

      This is your coworkers wanting to relate to you & talk to you, and being annoying about it.

      What I’d say is, continue to refuse while matching the tone of the request, and change the subject so other people have something to talk to you about.

      Coworker: “I’ll pay ya a fivespot per cookie! Haha!”

      You: “Haha, no way! You should spend that five bucks to get 20 cookies at Costco! Anyway, some kinda weather we’re having, huh? It messed with my hiking schedule this weekend…”

      Or on a different tone, someone goodnaturedly saying…

      Coworker: Doesn’t measure up to one of Susan’s cakes :(

      You: Thanks! Those are a once-every-couple-year event, so please do think of them fondly ;) I’m so sad to see Fergus retire, though…

      Reply
    10. Independent George

      At first I thought your coworkers were just trying to bring you out of your shell, but it took a weird turn when coworkers you didn’t know were asking for baked goods. That’s weird. If it were me, I would probably stop bringing treats, but I’m not sure that’s good advice.

      I will say I do work with someone who competed on a baking show, and I will definitely restrain from asking him to share his talent at work especially after reading your post. I just don’t know him well enough to do that.

      Reply
    11. Emily S.

      Remember that you don’t owe anyone baked treats. i would suggest that, the next time someone requests treats, say you’re trying to eat healthier and encourage otters to do the same… thus, you’re not making treats anymore. (They don’t need to know about your private baking for your family/friends/etc.)

      If you go this route, (obviously) make sure you’re not posting photos of baked goods to any social media accounts that any coworkers follow.

      Reply
        1. Gloucesterina

          “For the health of otters, I’m getting more into abalone/clam-type things, and we all know how we feel about heating up fish in the office!”

          Reply
    12. WellRed

      Stop bringing in baked goods. Also, watch the episode of Friends where Monica’s candymaking talent gets known and out of hand with the neighbors. You’ll relate.

      Reply
    13. Thosetaxreturnswontfilethemselves

      Susan – we are the same person. I like to bake, it’s fun. I’ve been told I’m pretty good at it but I’m not a professional. Here’s what I do:

      People who want to pay me: Sorry can’t do! Liability issues, allergies, no commercial kitchen, I have a cat, ect. ect. Shut that down fast.

      People who keep begging: This is hard, I’ve had to go cold turkey before, and just cut off my office. I find it typically helps to make things structured. Only for meetings, only for birthdays, only for holidays.

      Reply
      1. Em

        I think most people don’t know that once you start selling baked goods, you are a commercial kitchen and thus have to follow the industry regulations. Where I live, that means you cannot bake in your home kitchen – it has to be a separate kitchen. Plus I’d want to have insurance. So on the rare occasions that someone suggests that I sell my baking, I say “sounds good, but I’d have to charge $10,000 for the first one”.

        Reply
    14. It'sNan

      Every year, about October, I start getting requests for caramels and peanut brittle which I only make a Christmas time. I just gently remind them that they are a once a year treat, and they will show up when they show up. I’ve had people ask to pay me to make them extra, and I tell them I simply don’t have the time with the holidays. You can just say no; they’ll be all right.

      Reply
    15. JustDessert

      I specifically do not bake for birthdays or holidays so nobody expects anything. It is always random and at my whim.

      Reply
    16. Angela Ziegler

      I used to make interestingly decorated cakes for my Bible study group. After a while they seemed to start taking it for granted, so my friend and I hatched a plan. We made a cake-shape out of cardboard taped to a platter, covered it in chocolate icing, and added dabs of whipped cream and cherries on the top. “If you come to Bible study tonight, there will be cake!” We promised everyone via text.

      Everyone showed up as usual. Some of the guys started impatiently circling the cake, ready for someone to cut it. I handed the knife to one of them. He quickly discovered the knife just slid back and forth on top of the cardboard. Disbelief and disappointment quickly spread as they found out the cake was, indeed, a lie. They also appreciated our baking efforts from that point forward.

      Reply
        1. Angela Ziegler

          It looks like I didn’t convey this well in my post- It actually went over well as a joke! We were a close-knit group, so everyone laughed it off and accepted they were bamboozled. (Except for one poor guy who stood sadly off to the side, going “…So there’s no cake…?” And we apologized to him, promising cake some other time. The poor guy!)

          And while I’m in the south, I guarantee it wasn’t passive or aggressive in any way. (Especially when we actively said ‘And that’s why you should appreciate when you get cakes!’) Everyone found it funny because it was so absurd, in addition to the video game reference most of them picked up on.

          Reply
        1. Angela Ziegler

          Oohh, good to know! Making the fake cake was far more entertaining than it should have been, I’ll have to remember that. :)

          Reply
    17. arjumand

      I feel you should definitely stop bringing in baked treats to work.

      That’s step one. Step two would be ignoring any and all requests for cookies etc. If these requests are made in person, the best response is a quizzical look, and the question “Was there some [work thing] you wanted?”
      It’s even better if you can recruit someone from your own department (not the guy who’s been acting like the town crier, seriously, what is wrong with people) to ask, as the cookie monster walks away, “What was that all about?” Then you can shrug and say, “No idea. Now, about [work thing].”

      You treat the person who responds to a work question with “I want cupcakes!” the way I treat a weird/nonsense question from one of my students: with great patience, and a deep sigh, you repeat the work question. If the cupcake demand is repeated, you can always counter with “And I want a million dollars / a fancy car / a mansion; but hey! Now, about that work question . . .”
      What I wouldn’t do is engage in any long-winded explanation of the baking, and how it was only for a special occasion, etc etc – the secret here is: don’t engage. Use the rule of three: if after three work questions you still can’t get an answer from this really annoying person, end the exchange with “I guess you can’t answer my work question, I’ll have to go somewhere else.”
      Once again: don’t explain. Don’t narrate. Use the broken record technique.

      Now, about why this is happening:

      “I’m guessing it’s because I’m a private person and I don’t share much about my life, so this one thing has become my defining characteristic.”

      I actually don’t really think this is the reason, but let’s say it is – what you can do is create a different defining characteristic, one with nothing tangible for your cookie/cupcake grubbing colleagues to demand. Develop a sudden interest in Game of Thrones, or Westworld, or any other pop culture thing of the moment. Buy a few Funko Pop figures and display them on your desk. Just enough to distance yourself from the Baking Betty persona people have saddled you with .

      Reply
    18. LCL

      ‘I’ve found that Safeway/QFC/Costco sells excellent baked goods. Or if you want something really special, go to local boutique bakery.’

      Reply
    19. Snack Management

      I’m known at my work for baking and sometimes have run into variations of this. I like having a reputation for baking at work (if I’m honest) and I like having a place to bring extras to (my household is small, we can’t finish a whole batch of cookies every time) so even sometimes it’s irritating, I don’t plan on stopping. Not wanting to bring stuff due to the weird pressure and the gendered implications are a valid reason to stop or put it on hiatus. I think your concern on the quality not living up to the hype probably won’t play out that way; if you’re like me and other bakers I know, your standard for your own baking is higher than those around you (you’re analyzing the crumb of that cake while others around you are scarfing it down) and there’s just something about office environments that results in people losing their minds for free food.

      Reply
      1. sunshyne84

        I agree. I disagree with everyone else saying stop baking unless you truly want to. I think you just need to say a bit of what you said here about just enjoying to bake things a few times a year and wanting to keep it that way. A simple thanks, but no thanks kinda thing. Tell them you appreciate them and to look out for the next birthday/holiday.

        Reply
      2. Susan K

        Yeah, I do enjoy bringing in treats occasionally, partly because I don’t have many other opportunities to feed people large quantities of baked goods any time I feel like baking. At my old job, I brought in Christmas cookies every year, and people would ooh and ahh over my baking skills for a week or two and then forget about it until the next time I brought something. That was nice because I always felt as though the treats were appreciated when I brought them, but nobody pressured me about it the way people are doing now.

        Reply
    20. Someone Else

      I’d probably say something like “You’ve got the wrong idea. I did bring in stuff I’ve baked a couple of times, but this is not a major hobby of mine.” And then if just stare like they’d asked if you could loan them a spare giraffe. Hopefully that’ll spread as much as misinformed coworker’s overselling your baking prowess did.

      Reply
    21. sheworkshardforthemoney

      I bake for a living and the expectation is that I will bring a wonderful custom made dessert to every social occasion. I don’t mind doing it now and then but I was getting requests/demands for specific goods with expensive ingredients. Making tiramisu or a red velvet cake for 10 or more people is a big time suck. So I started asking, “Am I being invited for my baking or for myself?” Most people got the point.

      Reply
      1. Em

        I like to decorate cakes, so if there was something going on, I’d be asked to bring the cake. However, it’s time consuming and I’m a lot busier, so I rarely do it anymore. I have definitely noticed that I’m invited to a lot fewer social events since I stopped bringing the cake. I mentioned it to my mom, and she just said she figures 80% of the things she is invited to, it’s so that she can play for them (piano, organ, etc).

        Reply
    22. Piano Girl

      I used to be part of a “breakfast club” at my old job. When it was my turn (every two-three months), I would bring in a nice breakfast and chocolate chip cookies. Everybody enjoyed my cookies and would ask me to bring them in more often. I pointed out that they were a special treat, and I wanted to leave it that way. Everybody looked forward to them, and stopped bugging me. Win-win.

      Reply
    23. WannaAlp

      The rule I use for things I make, is that I only make things as gifts, for people who didn’t ask for them in the first place. (I don’t mean that the people don’t appreciate them, I mean that they weren’t acting entitled to my services in any way.)

      The moment someone starts to feel entitled to procuring my making services, is the moment the making stops.

      If it was me in your shoes, I’d say “I’m sorry, but I don’t make cupcakes to order, only as gifts.”. Then they will either drop it, or up their entitlement and ask to have them as gifts. Once they’ve reached that level of entitlement, then I’d feel free to add the bit “Sorry, but I don’t make them on demand. They wouldn’t be fun to make if I was doing them on someone else’s say-so. not mine.”

      Reply
  6. Annie Moose

    The volunteer question this morning reminded me of a situation I was curious about. I’m not in this situation myself, just wondering about it.

    Suppose there is a non-profit, and one of its employees works in something like accounting. I know the employee can’t “volunteer” to do the same work without pay, but can they legally volunteer in a totally different role in the organization (e.g. animal care)?

    Does it make any difference if the other role is entirely volunteer (e.g. all accountants are paid positions, all animal care is done by volunteers)?

    Or if you’re employed by a non-profit, are you completely unable to (legally) volunteer for it, regardless of circumstances?

    Reply
    1. Murphy

      Legally, I don’t know. But when I transitioned from volunteer to staff at a nonprofit (doing very similar animal care work) I was told that we weren’t allowed to volunteer at all, which makes complete sense.

      Reply
    2. Red Reader

      When I worked at a nonprofit that operated a crisis hotline, I was paid to be the receptionist and data entry person, and I volunteered to answer one of the phones one evening shift a week. (Yes, it was the same one Ted Bundy volunteered for. They had many aggressively unpleasant things to say about Ann Rule – her book actively violated her volunteer disclosure agreements.)

      Reply
    3. Kittymommy

      I know in my government organization you can, just as long as it’s in a different department. (I’m currently doing it.)

      Reply
    4. OyVey

      Yes, but with an all caps, flashing neon red BUT to follow. From my experience, there’s some ethically dicey ground when staff take volunteer positions. For example, your non profit is trying to cut a few corners on their volunteer thank you dinner. They want an open bar but don’t want to pay bartenders. Eventually someone thinks “we have staff members who know how to run bar (not their staff jobs, however): They can volunteer their time!” This leads to the awkward situation of staff being more or less told they’re expected to volunteer their time but will not get paid for it. Legal, yes. Ethical, eh, not comfortable with it.

      Reply
    5. sometimeswhy

      The place I volunteer has a number of staff in one group volunteering for other groups. Some of them do it for love and some of them do it to skill build but their duties are strictly separate.

      Reply
    6. Shark Whisperer

      It happened at my old org all the time, but there were also some very coveted volunteer positions (by both staff and public). In fact, to volunteer with a certain animal, you had to be a volunteer in another department or a paid staff member for at least a year because everyone wanted to do it. Basically what I am trying to say is that although the volunteer work staff was doing needed to be done, it was really more of a perk than demanding labor. So staff members who were volunteering in the rescue department, for instance, got to cuddle baby seals while the staff members from that department got to catch up on records and such, and real volunteers did the poop scrubbing. As far as I know staff wasn’t allowed to volunteer for the not cushy positions.

      Reply
    7. Judy (since 2010)

      It’s certainly my understanding that employees can volunteer in positions that are separate from their paid positions. For example, my Girl Scout Council employees can be troop leaders, and about half of them are.

      Reply
  7. Kimmy

    How do you deal with a coworker who makes a lot of mistakes when you manage the project but not the coworker? Do you tell your boss about the poor work product (we share a boss) or just deal with fixing the mistakes on your own?

    Reply
    1. mkt

      If I manage the project and have accountability which includes individual work components and product, I would both address directly with the coworker and my boss.

      Reply
    2. Daisy Avalin

      I would fix the problems, but keep a note of how many you’ve had to fix in one day (just a brief note of the number of times, not necessarily the exact problems), and then go to your boss and say something like, “you’ve noticed that there are a lot of mistakes, this is how many you had to correct on x date, and what is the process for stopping the mistakes?”*

      *Somebody can probably give better wording than this, but I’m getting very irritated with a similar issue, where my boss seems to think the solution is to leave me to ‘do it properly, because I like doing that particular job’!!

      Reply
    3. Lucky

      If the mistakes are of a type that can be corrected, I think you start by pointing them out to coworker and asking for a timeline when they will be corrected, something like “I notice that you’re expressing widget production in pounds rather than volume. Will you be able to go back through the report and correct that before we turn it in to Boss?” If coworker repeats the mistakes, or keeps making new ones, or his mistakes mean that your work is delayed, I think then you go to Boss, but you’ll have examples of how you’ve tried to address the issue on your own first.

      Reply
      1. A tester, not a developer

        I agree. I’m currently part of a project where I keep having to send a spreadsheet back to Person X – often multiple times. In theory I could fix some things myself, but since I can’t fix everything (lack of access to source data, security authorizations, etc.) it makes the most sense to have a clear record of ‘X sent me the spreadsheet. I indicated that it needed items 1 2 and 3 fixed. They sent it back having only fixed item 1, so I returned it to them’. It also allows me to map back to my time tracking pretty clearly – I couldn’t proceed with project step 17A because I had to keep going back and forth about the spreadsheet for 3 days.

        Reply
    4. I'm A Little Teapot

      this is 90% of my job. It’s my responsibility both to correct mistakes (or require them to be corrected), and keep the manger informed on the status. If the coworker is screwing up, that’s part of what I communicate. In fact, I have the authority to make the coworker stay late/show up on the weekend to get the work done if it’s required. But if that’s necessary, the manager is ALWAYS involved because it’s not my job to manage that level of mess from a coworker.

      Reply
      1. Kimmy

        Thanks, all. It’s just a pattern of sloppy work product. I’ve talked to my boss about timelines slipping due to late work and priorities but these are more minor issues that suggest to me that my coworker is just not paying enough attention. It seems petty to talk to my boss about them, she’s pretty hands off, but it’s driving me crazy.

        Reply
        1. I'm A Little Teapot

          no, that’s valid to bring up. as well as what you’ve done in response. You have some feedback responsibility, but you’re not the manager.

          Reply
          1. Library Land

            It’s valid and honestly the larger pattern is something you might bring up to the coworker as well. It doesn’t have to be accusatory, just something like “Hey, I’ve noticed that the color of the widget is often missing from the database, and I’m spending about X minutes fixing it – sometimes making the shipment late. Can you double check that you’ve entered the color? I’ll also start flagging the issues when the come up to help us stay on top of it.”

            Reply
    5. Nita

      Depends. I deal with this on occasion because there’s just never enough time to train people in what I do. They’ll hand me their work product to review, and by the time I’ve gone through it they’ve been pulled into another project and cannot make corrections. I don’t think it’s their fault – it’s a systemic problem because we’re short-staffed. I’ve complained to my boss quite a few times (without naming names) but management is aware of this and would do something about it if they could. We just seem to never catch up the staffing to the amount of work.

      Now if someone was making a lot of mistakes in work they’ve been trained on and should know well – I’d start with trying to get them a second round of training in case the first one wasn’t enough, and failing that would talk to their manager about possibly not assigning this type of work to them. Not everyone is good at everything!

      Reply
    6. nd

      First address it with the co-worker and have them fix the mistakes. As the project manager, you can do that. And this is why you set project team deadlines earlier than they need to be. If the mistakes continue or if your co-worker cannot or will not fix them, go to your boss. Make sure you retain all documentation with mistakes for any discussion with your boss. But as a project manager, it’s your responsibility to keep the project on track and the quality high. That’s one of the many challenges, because project managers often have no actual authority over project team members.

      Reply
    7. OhGee

      I deal with this a lot (at a nonprofit). I manage several team-wide and org-wide projects, and one of my teammates (who has been here long enough to have learned) regularly skips simple protocols that help keep our work flowing, pushes off tasks because they don’t feel the task is important, etc. My boss is very passive, and is also ‘friends’ with my coworker from before they joined the organization. The only solution I’ve found is to be very direct with this coworker – 1 on 1 the first time, and then in a team meeting after the first time, along with alerting my boss to issues in both our weekly meetings and via email. It sucks: I recently had to be borderline unkind to my teammate, who had pushed off a task for several months (they showed up to a monthly meeting without completing the task…three times). But between my boss’s passive management, my coworker’s laissez-faire attitude, and my need to stay on top of multiple complex projects, I’ve had to get tough. So I agree with others who have suggested addressing things with both the colleague AND your boss.

      Reply
    8. uranus wars

      I am in a similar situation, only we don’t share a boss. So while my boss listens and understands my frustration there is little we can do about it since the co-workers boss is largely absent and doesn’t care to hear feedback when we try to give it.

      Ways I’ve dealt with it myself and just throwing it back on her in a very direct way. I have minimized non-work related interactions, email EVERYTHING and when she says she didn’t get something I re-forward it to her, highlight the appropriate line and reiterate the instructions. If she doesn’t complete something I know just send it back: “you didn’t do x/y/z, please get the correct report back to my by 5″….I basically manager her as well as the process. It is mind numbing at times but I actually have less stress when it comes to working with her now, since I don’t actually take the time to correct her mistakes.

      I think she is put off a bit because I am not her manager but sometimes have to act like it. But sometimes there is no choice.

      Reply
    9. Student

      You absolutely start by talking to the person directly who is making the mistakes. Make sure they are aware of the overall pattern, not just one specific set of mistakes, and that it is not acceptable for the project. Make sure you also hear them out on their side of it. Sometimes they just get defensive, but sometimes there are actual blocks to them being successful that you can address.

      If that doesn’t fix it, or doesn’t get fast enough results to the level you require, then take it to the boss.

      Then you haven’t blindsided your project member, you gave them a direct chance to fix it, and you made sure they knew exactly what you needed from them in your own words. If it gets relayed through a boss first, the specific feedback/issue often gets muddled unless you have a really good boss, and the project member gets less opportunity to raise any mitigating circumstances you might not be aware of .

      Reply
    10. Thlayli

      I’ve worked as a PM for a long time and managed lots of coworkers on projects but never been a line manager, so I have a lot of experience in this area.

      Typically the first step is to address it with the team member. If they are incapable of fixing it or unwilling to try, then yes fix it yourself, but also do the following:
      1 let your boss know there was a need for rework so they are aware. Depending on the way your projects are run and if it is an internal or external project this may show up in hours billed so you or your boss may also need to make some adjustment to the bill as clients shouldn’t typically be charged for mistakes – or your boss may see a reduction in profit and needs to understand it.
      2 talk to the team members boss and explain that the team member was unable / unwilling to fix the problem. You may wish to discuss this with the team member in advance depending on their attitude. It may be that there’s an obvious solution eg “just need to loop you in – Jane wasn’t familiar with the teapot paint the client needed so we ended up having to repaint. Any chance you can get Jane sent on the painting training course? Or do you have another teapot painter with expertise in that paint?” Or it may need to be a more serious conversation. Eg “Jan accidentally painted the teapot blue and when I told her it needed to be red she refused to paint it red.”

      Basically you need to let both bosses know about it. Jane has been assigned to your project by her boss and if she is not doing it properly then her boss needs to know so boss can take appropriate steps. And your boss needs to understand why your project suddenly needs 2 pots of paint instead of 1.

      Reply
      1. Thlayli

        One last thing – if Coworker outranks you or if her boss is very high above you in heirarchy, don’t talk to her boss directly. Instead tell your boss and ask your boss to discuss with Her boss.

        Typically what happens in my experience is my department would tell the other department we weren’t happy with a team members work and then we just wouldn’t be assigned that team member again. But we were a big enough company to make that happen.

        Reply
    11. designbot

      Just because you don’t manage the employee overall doesn’t mean you’re not meant to manage them in this specific task. Manage the delivery of the project, including any of that coworker’s contributions. Then mention to the person who is their manager how that’s going.

      Reply
  8. pockets for snacks

    Can anyone give me public health advice? I am currently doing non-health-related data analysis/statistics/modeling and would like to move into epidemiology.

    1) I *think* my best move here is an MPH. Is that right? I have a strong quantitative background and two very basic undergrad courses in PH but no experience. Someone told me an MS in statistics would be just as good but idk.

    2) How much does it matter where you get your PH degree? If I have to shoot for Emory and Harvard to get a good job I will, but my ~#20 USNWR state school would be more convenient and cheaper, obviously.

    3) What kind of volunteer experience should I be looking for? So far I’ve only found things like stuffing envelopes for PH organizations, or hands-on medical things like EMS. Does anyone let volunteers do epi-related tasks? What would strengthen my application the most and where do I find these positions?

    Reply
    1. Never

      1) It depends on what you want to do. If you want to be a biostatistician, get a MS in Statistics. If you want to do something more like community health surveillance, get a MPH. Unfortunately people in the industry do not take you seriously as a statistician if you “only” have a degree in epi. Feel free to reply with more detail on what you want to do (if you know) and I’ll try to be more specific. :)

      2) There are non-Harvard schools that are known for having really good MPH programs, such as the University of Michigan. If Brown had released their master’s program in epi a year earlier, I would have gone there.

      Reply
      1. pockets for snacks

        I’m not entirely sure what I want to do, is I guess part of my problem, and I’m not sure how to figure out what these different job titles mean in terms of actual responsibilities and work.

        Reply
    2. ContentWrangler

      My partner is a recent MPH who specialized in biostats and epidemiology! He currently works in the research department of a medical school, doing data analysis of medical claims. I’ll show him this question after work and see if he has any suggestions.

      Reply
    3. Lil Fidget

      Do you know anybody in your current job who works in that field? I’d always start there, or aim to network with someone that way. Ideally you could shadow someone to make sure that’s actually your dream job before you look at schools, but I don’t know how often that actually happens these days.

      Reply
    4. Commander Smiley

      I know quite a few epidemiologists with MPHs, but not all of them. If you are really into the modeling side (and if you are, bless you because that makes my head spin), I would consider an MPH with a minor in biostatistics or a degree in biostatistics if the MPH doesn’t appeal to you.

      You don’t have to go to a top-tier school to get a good job; a good record at a good school will be enough.

      The only volunteer options I know about are field work, which isn’t really your area, so I won’t be much help there. However, you can join an epi society or 2 and try to get involved in a committee. The society committees ALWAYS need volunteers, and there are usually slots for student volunteers. I would suggest the Society for Epidemiologic Research (SER) or the American College of Epidemiology (ACE).

      Reply
    5. state school mph grad working in govt

      Data analysis/stats/modeling will be super useful work experience. I would suggest looking at the difference between biostats (often funded or scholarship-supported) and epi (some funding opportunities but fewer) programs. I’d recommend getting a degree with the least possible amount of debt–the big PH schools are good for name recognition but cost a pretty penny. Also Emory is not as highly ranked in PH as a few state schools, anyway :)

      Reply
    6. Cat

      I work for a state-level public health agency and have an MPH in epidemiology.

      1) Yes, if what you want to do is epidemiology, you will likely need an MPH at some point. It’s possible without one, but most people I know have one or a similar degree.
      2) Where do you want to work? (physical location). If you go to a well-known program nationally (like Emory), it can definately give you great experience and skills and help you get a job in a variety of places.
      That’s where I went, actually. It can also be helpful to go to a school in the city/region you want to work in. I moved outside of GA after going to Emory, and many of my coworkers here went to state schools in the state I’m now. Networking and internships in the local area can help you get a job there.
      3) From experience, I can tell you it’s very difficult as a non-student to get volunteer experience doing epi work. It might be possible through a local PH department. However, your current analytical experience and strong quantitative background plus some more general PH volunteering would likely still get you into an MPH program, where you could more easily get epi-specific experience.

      Reply
      1. state school mph grad working in govt

        “PH volunteering” as stated here could include something in a hospital, something to do with a blood drive, honestly even something to do with animals if you could connect it to an interest in zoonotic disease.

        Reply
    7. Eeyore's missing tail

      It depends on what you want to do with your training. My institution offers an MPH with a concentrations in biostatisics and epidemiology. Others with an MPH please correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I understand, an MPH is more of a professional degree. If you went with something like an MS in statistics, biostatistics, or epidemiology (which are offered), those are more research degrees. You may not get the broad overview of the field like an MPH, but you’d be more specialized in whichever field you chose.

      There are plenty of people with MPHs from good schools that aren’t Emory or Harvard. My institution is in the upper 30s, but from what I understand, it’s known to be a good program.

      Reply
    8. Manic Pixie HR Girl

      MPH is a great place to go with this! Another thought for volunteering might be a Red Cross blood drive? I’m not entirely sure what they could have you do – this isn’t my bailiwick.

      I don’t know which “~#20 USNWR state school” you are referring to, however the one that is in my backyard has a really comprehensive internship program, and they place a LOT of interns with the state Health Department, for example (not all, but a good number of them, are paid). A strong internship(s) will be even more beneficial than volunteer experience. I would imagine most programs have something similar.

      Also, omg, quantitative skills will help you in almost ANY field.

      Reply
    9. mph gal

      Emory MPH grad here. If you’re interested in staying in your area and your state school has some decent connections for internship opportunities I would investigate that first. I think the most appealing aspects of Emory are the internship opportunities they advertise heavily, however I had quite a few friends who struggled to find internship/ practicum opportunities. I was able to find an internship that allowed me to be able to create a professional network with people in my home state after graduation, but not everyone did. Also Emory is hella expensive (as someone who went to a small state school for undergrad).

      Reply
    10. Public Health Nerd

      Univ. WA MPH here. At my program, you chose your major as health services or epidemiology. Super useful degree, but there regional gluts of people with an MPH. I think a program that requires a thesis and a practicum is your best bet, not sure if the school otherwise matters a lot.

      In our area, you can apply to be a clinical research team volunteer. You would be involved with data cleaning but would be more likely to have access to researcher doing interesting things. You can check clinicaltrials.gov and find active teams near you. These may be more common in cities with teaching hospitals and state universities though.

      In many programs, coursework in epi and study design is required no matter your major. So if you want to do a little analysis and more of other stuff, you aren’t required to get an epi degree.

      Reply
    11. masters student of none

      I’m currently getting an MPH (not in epi though) and I really think that as long as the school is CEPH accredited its good. All the ones in TX are and only run about ~3500$ish a semester. I have a friend who got hers from my same school and is a state epidemiologist now. I got into UM and not going was the best decision I made because an MPH is definitely not worth tens of thousands in student debt

      Reply
  9. Afiendishthingy

    Just got a post-interview rejection email… for a job I’d already received a rejection for. Guess the two interviewers don’t communicate too well. How’s your day?

    Reply
        1. Afiendishthingy

          Yeah I don’t really think it’s indicative of a chaotic environment- these two people don’t work in the same building generally- but it’s comforting to say I dodged a bullet anyway :)

          Reply
    1. Elisabeth

      I had an HR interviewer call me almost immediately after I expressed my huge interest in the job and why I felt qualified. Went through the 15 minutes of going line by line on my resume and getting my background and everything and then said, “Well, you seem like a job hopper who is always looking for the next best thing. I can’t even put this on the hiring manager’s desk. Try back in 2 years when you have tenure at your current job.”

      It was a slap in the face to the level I have never experienced. Basically *fist bump*.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        Wow, that’s…blunt and unnecessarily harsh. I can see the value in providing some feedback on that, but there’s no need to be rude about it – something like “your qualifications are great, but I’m concerned about the pattern of your job history. You’ve got a lot of short stays and it gives the impression that you’re not committing to the job you have, but focusing on the next job to get. The hiring manager for this is looking for someone who will be here for the long-term, so I won’t be able to move you forward in the process – but, if you’re able to establish a more stable work history in the future, we’d love to hear from you again.”

        I mean, “you seem like a job hopper who is always looking for the next best thing” is a pretty harsh judgment, even if that’s what someone’s work history suggests.

        Reply
        1. Elisabeth

          It was also for an extremely large, multi-national, multi-billion dollar Company whom I’d had a good rapport with in the past. So, to me, it was EXTREMELY odd to be contacted by them, go through my resume, and then be told these things. I would expect it to be ignored or put on a pile of “nope!” If I was persistent in contact or e-mail outside of a job portal, I would better understand their needing to be harsh. But it all happened so rapidly it was like whiplash.

          I was also a little startled because it was going from, basically, Teacup to Saucer but of the same set. (Same profession/career, but different contexts), and I had intentionally been trying to move from Teacup to Saucer and expressed this in the phone call as to why I was looking to make this move because I felt like Saucer was better than Teacup.

          It was just a very strange experience. Then Recruiter had viewed me on LinkedIn, so I viewed them out of curiosity, only to see a string of 10 months or less jobs over the last 5 years. I felt a little like I was watching someone in a glass house hurl bricks at me. But, again, that has no relevance to the position I was applying for and I didn’t contact them about it or even mention it publicly. It was just another bit of salt in the wound.

          Reply
          1. Jadelyn

            Huh. It sounds like someone took the “we actually know this person, therefore we should at least give them a courtesy interview” and ran with it in entirely the wrong direction. As in, the opposite direction from where it should have gone.

            Reply
            1. Elisabeth

              The original person I had spoken with 2 years prior (the job was more entry level than my qualifications, and the pay was well below where I needed to be/commensurate with my experience) was out for the month. It was a person who was BRAND NEW to the Company. So who even knows what happened.

              I did end up in a fit of pique letting HR know that I had an unpleasant experience. That I understood I may not be suited for the role, I would expect rejection in that case, but that I felt the manner in which it was handled was inappropriate. I had four people read it before I sent it, and they agreed that in this instance, it may be seen as shrill of a rejectee, but if it wasn’t, it was decent feedback to give. Especially considering my prior experience had been so positive.

              Reply
      2. A tester, not a developer

        And I bet if they went through my resume (20+ years at the same company in varying roles), they’d say I was too stagnant and complacent and they wouldn’t put this on the hiring manager’s desk.

        Reply
      3. Yikes

        I once had an interview at a job fair that seemed to have gone exceptionally well. I told the interviewer as I handed over my resume that my GPA for my first year in my program was low, but that as he could see it was anomalous from my extensive work history, and that the issue was I had tanked my first semester, but done very well in the second semester and summer semester. He took the resume, looked at my GPA, said “well I’ll add this to the pile” and put in the trash. It made me feel so hopeless.

        Reply
    2. Legal Rugby

      I applied for a legal position with a big government agency, and was one of two last round candidates. They went with the other person, which I was sad about.

      They then sent me a rejection letter every 30 days for the next year until the job aged out of their system. By the end of the year, I straight up hated them.

      Reply
    3. Melonhead

      Ugh. Commiserating here. Have applied for 50 jobs since July 5, had 3 interviews, 2 rejections. Waiting to hear if my 2nd interview with the 3rd company went well.

      Meanwhile, I keep applying and moving on. It’s hard not to get discouraged! So hang in there – you’re not alone

      Reply
      1. Afiendishthingy

        Thanks and good luck to you! Job searching is the worst! Today was my last day of my temp job (covered a maternity leave) so I am feeling the heat.

        Reply
    4. ChaufferMeChaufferYou

      That happened to me once. I could tell they were system generated messages. My job is configuring that recruiting system, so I emailed them to let them know there may be an issue with their notifications.

      No reply.

      Hopefully they found someone who could fix it. (I could have, but I know I dodged a bullet there).

      Reply
    5. BahahaBlackSheep

      Currently at work trying to dodge my boss giving interview tours to in-person interviewees for my dream position, that I didn’t make the interview round for, so I feel you!

      Reply
    6. G. Whillikers

      Last week I received two rejections for the same job… a job I *withdrew my application for* a few days after I applied (several weeks ago).

      Reply
  10. Berry

    I got a full time offer! It’s been a long three years looking for a full time job in my field since I graduated from school and it’s such a relief! I even managed to successfully negotiate for a slightly higher salary, I’m so thankful for this site for everything I’ve learned reading it over the years!

    I’m stuck on two things right now that I don’t know how to handle and I’d appreciate some advice.
    1. I was given a start date of this upcoming Wednesday, pending a background check. Last I heard from HR was on Monday and I did my drug screening on Tuesday, would it be fine to send a checking in/following up email to HR this afternoon? Or should I wait until Monday instead?

    2. Because of some weird categorizing, I’m going to be a full time employee (benefits and all), but paid hourly, instead of paid salary. This is a small company that’s growing quickly over the last few months (HR comes from the parent company) so I’m coming into a new position. I’d love to have a clear discussion with my manager in my first few days about how being hourly will work – how to count hours, what it means if I’m running a few minutes late due to public transportation, how it’ll work with checking in on the weekends. What’s the best way to approach this conversation to get everything straightened out in the beginning rather than after I’ve been working there for a few months without sounding like I’m a new employee that’s more invested in my time away from work than my time at work?

    Reply
    1. Atalanta0jess

      1) I don’t think there is a substantive difference between friday afternoon and monday, any time would be fine IMO.

      2) “Can you talk to me about how time keeping works for hourly employees? How should I handle it if I have to stay a few minutes late to finish up a phone call?” Then as a follow up question, if it hasn’t already been answered of “ok, great! Is it a similar approach if I’m running a few minutes late in the morning? I’m typically a punctual person, but I do ride public transportation.”

      I personally wouldn’t broach checking in on the weekends because I prefer not to do that, and unless you’re being paid for weekend time, or it’s otherwise clear that you must check in over the weekend, I recommend you don’t either. As an hourly employee there should not be an expectation that you check in during your non-work hours.

      Reply
    2. Amber T

      Regarding #2 – I’m really curious, because when I first started I was also paid hourly, and after reading around some comments here, I got the impression that what my company didn’t wasn’t 100% legal, even though it was always in my favor. I was always paid for 8 hours a day, regardless if I got stuck in traffic or had to leave a half hour early, or had a doctors appointment mid day. If I worked overtime, then I submitted an overtime sheet with my additional hours, which my manager signed off on, then submitted to payroll. I’m salary now so I can work 7-12 hours a day and it wouldn’t matter. I would work your first few days normally – they’ll show you a time card system maybe. I’d give it some time, and if things are still unclear after a week or two, then broach it with your boss.

      Reply
      1. Schnoodle HRM

        What would have been illegal about your previous situation? It’s legal to pay for more hours even if you didn’t work them. It would be illegal if say, only white people had that privilege or only men. Or only white men.

        Reply
      2. Natalie

        That set up is legally perfectly fine. Paying a non-exempt (i.e. eligible for overtime) a salary and paying them time and a half when they work OT is essentially paying them more than you’re legally obligated to. The law establishes a floor, not a ceiling.

        Reply
        1. Amber T

          Ah, gotta remember floor not ceiling. Sometimes I read comments that say “the law says this” so therefore, anything deviating from it is Not Good.

          Reply
      3. Jadelyn

        Sounds fine to me – it sounds like you were actually salaried non-exempt rather than truly hourly, which is a less-used but still legal classification employers have the option of going with for non-exempt staff.

        Reply
    3. BlueWolf

      I would say wait until Monday to see if you get an update on the background check. Honestly, my current job gave a timeline of up to two weeks for the background check, but I suppose it could take less time.

      As for the schedule stuff, it sounds like you’re non-exempt, meaning you are paid for all time worked and are paid overtime. They should have some kind of timekeeping system to manually record your hours or clock in and out. If you have any questions about your schedule/hours you can definitely just ask your manager especially because it may be department-specific, but you may also have a formal orientation/on-boarding process on your first day that explains all of that anyways.

      Reply
    4. Violaine

      I think it would be fine to send an email to HR, just to check and see if there’s anything else they need from you before the weekend.

      Someone should absolutely go over timekeeping with you on your first day, and it is absolutely reasonable to ask about it, if they don’t volunteer that information. More than likely on day 1, you’ll be focused on getting set up, getting your badge, etc. Does the company have any sort of new employee orientation?

      In my last job, I was given timekeeping information even before my first day, though it took a few days to it to work smoothly. In my new role (starting next week), it is something still to be addressed but I believe my project manager will be on-site and we can discuss it then.

      Congratulations on the new job!

      Reply
    5. Schnoodle HRM

      Both of these will make you come off as a slight orange flag.

      1. There’s no need to follow up on background/drug screen unless you’re scared it’s not clean. A good HR person will call you and let you know all is good. Otherwise, I’d call the day before you are to start to just make sure tomorrow is still good to go. I wouldn’t mention the screening.

      2. DO NOT BRING UP YOUR POTENTIAL TARDY ISSUE. Being paid hourly is the easiest way to be paid, I’m not sure what your issue is here, but I definitely wouldn’t ask “so what about the times I’ll be late?” (no matter the reason). Asking if time is kept up with a timesheet or a computer system of sorts should be covered in orientation. If by end of day that hasn’t been clear, then ask “I’ve enjoyed my first day. Before I leave I want to make sure I’m recording my hours correctly – is there a paper time sheet or a computer timekeeping system of sorts I should be using?”

      On being late, try not to be late. But don’t bring it up as a thing that WILL happen to you as you phrased it. Hopefully it won’t happen! But when it does, you may face whatever their attendance policy is, or they may be lenient and understanding of public transportation. But being late is outside of how you’re paid. You are paid for your hours worked, so if you are late an hour, then yeah you won’t be paid for that hour. Whether or not you can “make it up” is up to the company but I wouldn’t’ ask that right off the bat. It will just put you in a negative light.

      Reply
    6. Kittymommy

      I think this afternoon would be fine, or Monday.

      In my last job I was hourly, full time. If I remember correctly the pay/salary overhaul Obama was advocating with the Labor department a few years ago was pushing for people in this tie of job too be better classified so they are not under paid. With my job, I just filled out a time sheet every 2 weeks with the same 8-5 and flexed time out that day or week if needed.

      Reply
    7. That Would be a Good Band Name

      1. I’d wait until the day before, if you haven’t heard AND they specifically said you’d only start IF the background check had completed, then I’d call. Otherwise, I’d show up at the time stated. If they didn’t state a time, obviously that’s another reason to call. Everywhere I’ve worked has involved a background check and generally HR knows how long those are going to take and plans correctly or they’d be pushing back start dates constantly.

      2. If you don’t get a handbook or have an orientation that spells out attendance/timekeeping, by all means ask. You’re going to need to know what hours they expect you to work and if you ask “what are the typical work hours” that will lead into them explaining the rest.

      Reply
  11. AnonForThis

    oooooooh man, I have been waiting for today so that I could post this. Anon, obvs.

    Running a search process right now and conducting first-round interviews. Candidate emails me the evening before their interview to tell me she is pregnant, due in late winter, and asks if I want her to continue in the search, knowing that she’d be missing a huge important time period for this job ::record skip squealing brakes:: WHAT? WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Did you seriously just ask me that? Do you not know anything about the laws here? What, am I going to write back “OMG thanks for telling me! Hell no, I don’t want you to interview! Blech, babies? EW!” LOLNO.
    So of course I respond professionally and tell her that I welcome her candidacy if she would like to continue with the search process. Do her interview, and she is fine. There are quite a few people that have stronger interviews and push her down the line throughout the week. So now I have to document the ever-loving HECK out of everything for when I send her a “thanks but no thanks” email, just in case I need to cover my a** here.
    OY VEY.

    Reply
    1. Lil Fidget

      When we’ve had something similar, we created a scored matrix on the different criteria we were considering, so we could clearly document which metrics the candidate was weak on and how they stacked up to other candidates. It made it very easy to demonstrate the decision making process to anyone who asked (and save that letter where you tell her you’d be happy to consider her candidacy!).

      Reply
      1. AnonForThis

        Oh that’s a good suggestion, thank you. I have all my written notes from her phone interview, with my “final thoughts” on the back, so it should be easy enough to put together a matrix based on demonstrated KSA’s from the interviews.

        My boss is suspicious that this is a set-up. I just think the candidate is young and naive and erred on the side of overshare/too transparent too soon.

        Reply
        1. Washi

          Yeah, absent any other information, I feel like she’s following the procedure one would use if she had scheduled like, a 3-month deal breaker vacation in the winter already and doesn’t realize that the laws around pregnancy and discrimination make this a very different situation.

          Reply
          1. AnonForThis

            But would you disclose that before your first interview? Isn’t that something to disclose after you have an offer?

            Reply
            1. Susan K

              My guess is that she didn’t want to waste her time interviewing if it was going to be a deal-breaker. I doubt it was a setup. Some people are seriously uninformed about their rights, so it’s possible the candidate doesn’t know it would be illegal to discriminate based on pregnancy. I’ve even seen characters on TV shows say, “Nobody’s going to hire me now that I’m pregnant!”

              Reply
              1. Atalanta0jess

                Well, I’ve heard lots of people say that in real life, because like…it’s often true. Even if it is illegal. It’s not exactly naive to think that you will face barriers to employment if you are visibly pregnant.

                Reply
            2. ThisIsMyNewUserName

              I switched jobs (they contacted me) when I was like 3 months pregnant. The timing of the pregnancy meant I would be out literally at the worst time possible (a CPA firm and I was due March 15). I told my supervisor on my first day. No way I would have told them before!

              Reply
            3. Tableau Wizard

              If she’s due in late winter, she’s visibly pregnant and probably wanted to address the issue ahead of time. I can imagine a world where this advice was given to her. I agree with the rest of the commenters that it’s best to wait until after the offer or after starting (I had to tell my current boss in the first two weeks), but my guess is the visible bump is part of why she felt the need to disclose early.

              Reply
          2. Lissa

            I could see this falling into “following older family members’ bad job advice” if they’re telling her something like “you want to be completely honest about everything or it will be worse later!” Or looking at it like a dating site profile or something.

            Reply
        2. That Would be a Good Band Name

          I did this once when pregnant with my first. I didn’t ask if I should continue, but I did disclose I was pregnant. Mostly because I just felt so guilty that I’d be taking off so much time so soon after starting. Young/naive/overshare is the most likely culprit.

          Reply
        3. The Doctor

          It’s clearly a set-up. Do a search of her name and see if she has sued any other companies for discrimination.

          Reply
      2. Logan

        Our workplace is very clear about having these matrices. I developed a point system ahead of my interviews, and I did submit the results to HR, although thankfully one candidate was clearly better than the others (there was no need to compare A’s skills in one area to B’s skills in another area) and they accepted the offer.

        Reply
    2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      The cynic in me thinks she did it on purpose to try to passive aggressively force you to hire her. This may be a bad way to handle it, but I honestly wouldn’t have responded at all to that email and let her decide to show up or not.

      Reply
      1. formerSGartist

        Or, she could have been screening for bad workplaces/jerk managers. If it were me, I’d be basing my decision on which company responded appropriately to this level of honesty.

        So many hiring managers still don’t get that interviewing involves both sides.

        Reply
    3. Anonaswell

      Oh man, we had that happen too. Some guy put his age (which was older) on his resume. Then again in his cover letter. He met the basic requirements so we inteviewed him. We could tell he was spoiling to sue us. Fortunately he basically gave a very clear no hire statement in his interview (he basically said he couldn’t do one of the core tasks of the job, literally every person in the room wrote it down and starred it). It was unfun.

      Reply
    4. Schnoodle HRM

      As a woman who’s been discriminated against based on pregnancy I may take this more personally than I should. Beign HR, I also understand the strain on operations.

      Here’s the thing. Be open minded here. If she is a good candidate otherwise, please keep considering her instead of focusing on how to CYA and already have made the decision of hell no. Would someone else be able to be trained for her maternity leave? Also know, that literally anyone could leave you hanging then. From someone who unfortunately gets cancer, passes away, moves, or finds another job. So NOT hiring her isn’t solving your problem that’s always been there – there’s no way to predict human behavior and the human you hire may or may not be there for your important project. Pregnant or not.

      Also, if she isn’t a good candidate, please let her know ASAP. Being pregnant and job searching is extra hard. And pregnancy fatigue and hormones and stress…just be kind and let her know so she knows to not waste further time/energy on this job.

      Reply
      1. Pollygrammer

        It doesn’t sound at all like her pregnancy is the problem–she’s either got very poor judgment or she’s trying to pull a fast one to either get hired or complain about discrimination.

        Reply
      2. Anonaswell

        I am a pregnant lady and while I agree with telling her ASAP, I do not agree with giving her another look. There are better candidates, that is how hiring works. You do not hire someone out of sympathy or fear of being sued. That is not representing the bests interests of your organization.

        I interviewed someone who told us about her personal struggles and cried in the interview. Was I sorry for her? Absolutely. But hiring her would have been a huge mistake. She was not a good fit for the role. As a hiring member your first duty is to your organization, not the applicants.

        Reply
      3. Gloucesterina

        I’m sorry that happened to you Schnoodle HM!

        While I wholeheartedly agree that candidates should be notified promptly if they aren’t advancing, I don’t think a candidate should be treated differently because she is pregnant (i.e. due to the hiring committee’s assumption that job searching is exceptionally difficult for this person because her health is being significantly affected by pregnancy, which is impossible for the hiring committee to know.) Operating from this assumption seems dangerously close to the idea that someone who is pregnant or postpartum can’t perform as well in a role due to hormones, “mom brain,” etc.

        Reply
    5. Nita

      So I can definitely see how this causes problems for you, but… ideally, how should this be handled? Presumably she’s not showing yet so you can’t tell when she comes in to interview. She’s probably aware that if she’s hired, her being gone for weeks might be a problem on your end. I assume it would be a good thing to disclose before she’s hired? If so, when? If she brings it up when the offer is made, and you cannot accommodate the leave and cannot extend the offer, isn’t that still a legal problem?

      Reply
      1. Lil Fidget

        I think if you truly could not accommodate the leave at all, you would just have to say that, and allow the applicant to decide if they want the job or not if they’re not going to be able to get leave. But you’d better be damned sure that it is a literal requirement that somebody be physically present, remembering that any employee could get sick or have a family issue crop up unexpectedly.

        Reply
      2. Jadelyn

        Honestly, this is the sort of thing you don’t tell a prospective employer until after you’ve started, for the exact reason you mention at the end of your post – whether it happens early in the process or later, the employer can’t make the decision based on a candidate’s pregnancy. Like, you’d want to tell your new employer soon after you start to give them as much notice as possible, but you really, really, really do not want to tell a prospective employer that you’re pregnant while you’re still just a candidate.

        Because the thing is, being gone for weeks may well be a problem on the employer’s end – but that doesn’t matter. That’s their problem to solve. You hire temp coverage, you redistribute the workload, whatever you have to do to accommodate that. People get pregnant and go out on maternity leave at inconvenient times sometimes. It’s just a thing that happens and if you’re running a business you need to be prepared for it. It’s not on the candidate to manage that for the company.

        One thing to note, though, is that if you’re in the US, if you’re pregnant at the time you get hired you will not have been working there for a full year by the time you have the baby, which means you will not be eligible for FMLA, which would protect your job while you’re out. Then it comes down to pregnancy discrimination laws and what kind of accommodations your employer has for employees who are temporarily disabled – if they allow people to go out on temporary disability, they would need to allow you the same while your pregnancy/birth is keeping you from being able to work.

        Reply
    6. Tableau Wizard

      So this is slightly tangential to your question, but something just hit me about how this could all play out.

      Let’s say that the pregnant candidate WAS the best one for the job, but that you honestly couldn’t accommodate a leave for this position.
      Legally, you can’t NOT hire a candidate because she’s pregnant and will be taking maternity leave.
      HOWEVER, If you hire the pregnant woman, there’s nothing legally stopping you from firing her when she takes her leave because it’s within the first year so FMLA doesn’t apply.

      So you legally have to give her the job until she actually has the baby at which point, you can fire her.

      Am I interpreting the laws incorrectly here?
      Just to be clear, I am in NO WAY advocating for this to happen, but just asking if this is the correct interpretation of those laws.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        It depends on what your company does for other employees who are sick or temporarily disabled. What would the company do if the person in that position were in a car accident and were injured badly enough that they were bedridden for awhile? Whatever they would do for that, they must also do for the pregnant employee – not under the FMLA, but under pregnancy discrimination laws. So if your company accommodates short-term disability leave of up to 4 weeks, for example, you would need to do the same for your pregnant employee, though only for the time period that she is explicitly disabled by pregnancy/birth – it wouldn’t need to cover baby bonding time the way FMLA can. Basically, you’d need to treat the medically-indicated time off the way you’d treat any other disability, but as soon as the doctor released the employee to return to work you could require them to come back or be fired.

        Reply
        1. Lil Fidget

          Yep. There are plenty of companies that don’t *want* to accommodate a long leave, but there are actually relatively few jobs (working remotely in the Alaskan wilderness over a specific field season, maybe?) that literally could not. Those jobs would know who they were, because if Fred broke his leg, he’d have to be fired.

          Reply
    7. AnonForThis

      Thank you all for your thoughts!! So we went through ALL the first round interviews last week, and she had definitely been bumped out by 6 more qualified candidates (and we only continue on with our top 4). It wasn’t just me conducting the interviews, but I was the only one on the phone screen who knew she was pregnant. So it was also a team decision of who to carry forward.
      IF she had been the absolute best candidate, I definitely would have carried forward with her. I’m a working mom, so I understand what it takes to have a baby/kid in this particular field, and I am always happy to support. She would have been out at a really really hard time for us, but yeah…life happens. I agree that it was just naivety and perhaps bad advice from family members.
      She would NOT have had any FLMA protection, and she would only be eligible to take unpaid leave combined with any accrued vacation/sick days (paid).

      Reply
  12. Anon for today

    What do you do when you’re the employee who is in over their heads? Without going into too much detail as I know folks here in my office read this, I took on a position last year (say head llama groomer) for which I had certification but little to no practical experience. I’ve really struggled with trying to accomplish the boss’s goals. I know I’ll get there eventually but with no in house training (think we’re a teapot making company that HAS to provide llama grooming for regulatory purposes), I’m basically figuring things out as I go along. This week, my boss forwarded me an email chain re some things that we’ve been working on. I’m sure he didn’t realize that at the bottom of the chain was an email between he and the other person were he stated that I was very inexperienced and couldn’t problem solve.

    I have to admit – I’m hurt. Where do I go from here? Leaving this job is not an option – I need the $ and benefits. Cant move away from tiny rural area Im in due to family considerations.

    Reply
    1. Lil Fidget

      Oh dear, I’m sorry, how upsetting to see that. But I guess try to think of it as good information to have – now you know what he’s thinking, maybe it’s an opportunity to address the problem head-on? Either with him directly, or to give yourself permission to admit maybe you are struggling and need to take big steps to address it. Could you shadow someone who does this somewhere else? Set up a phone call? Networking is so critical when you’re the only one who does something at a company – you’re definitely not the only one in the field, and you need the support of others who do this work day in and out.

      Reply
    2. Afiendishthingy

      Oh no how awful! Totally careless of your boss. I would talk to your boss about how you can improve but also start job hunting just in case. Good luck!

      Reply
    3. Purple soda

      Ngh I am really sorry you had to see that. Happens to my coworker too, and to make things worse she saw it because it was CC-ed to the entire company :-(

      Reply
    4. gecko

      This sucks. There’s always a risk of being pushed out if you ask for more training/support; but this will only compound the longer you let it go.

      There’s a number of different paths here. You let it go unsaid, and you improve enough that it ends up fine. You let it go unsaid, and you get fired. You ask your boss for help, and you get let go. You ask your boss for help, and you improve.

      I think if you go to your boss and ask for specific things—“I’ve been struggling with X, can I get Y resource”—or get those resources yourself, those are your best bets.

      But, I’m sorry. It really just sucks.

      Reply
    5. BRR

      If this hasn’t come up with you and your boss directly, bring it up so that it won’t reach a point of no return. Is it possible to ask for a certain resource to help? I was missing a certain skill for my current position and it was directly talked about during my interview. It’s creeped up once or twice and I professionally said that it was clear I didn’t not have this skill when hired, either they sink re$ource$ into it or be happy with my current pace of growth.

      I would also casually be job hunting in the background.

      Reply
    6. Independent George

      It’s a careless of your boss to include that in the email chain, and your boss owes it to you to have that candid conversation. But….you can take this as constructive criticism. There’s a learning curve, and it’s possible Boss isn’t very realistic about how large the learning curve is. I think you should focus on how you can close those gaps. It’s possible this isn’t the right role for you, but is this just the early freak-out moment or the realization you’re not cut out for this? I often have the freak-out when I’m learning new skills and have a hard time seeing it for what it is, inexperience. But I’ve managed to get over that hurdle with the understanding that there is a learning curve, and I will come out better in the long run. I’m in that place now as well. Best of luck to you.

      Reply
      1. Anon for today

        I KNOW I can do it. I’m NOT dumb. I can certainly learn but what I cant do well is come up with some of this stuff on my own (ergo perhsps the lack of “problem solving” comment he made)

        What I have difficulty with is making decisions about things for which there can be legal and criminal consequences when I’m not 100% sure that what I’m doing is the right way. Does that make sense? So, in an ideal situation, I would have someone showing me the ropes – which I sort of did except I know the way that person was doing some stuff was wrong so….

        Sigh.

        Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          Is there a professional organization for what you’re doing, or networking events for that field in your area (or that you could travel to, within reason)? Like, I do HR. I’m a member of SHRM and NCHRA, plus I keep in touch with a few people I’ve met at conferences over the years, and there’s a mailing list for HR practitioners specifically in the type of company I’m at, which we all use to pool our resources. So if something comes up and we’re not sure how to handle it, we can email that list and say “Hey guys, X happened. We’re thinking of doing Y about it, but it’s never come up before so we’re not sure. What have you all done in the past when you’ve had X happen?” and get input from other professionals, or I can reach out to resources at SHRM or something.

          Basically, if the resources to support you don’t exist within your company, I’d look outside your company and see if you can find similar resources to tap.

          Reply
          1. Jules the 3rd

            +1 to this. See if there’s a professional group that handles what you handle and ask the company to pay for you to join.

            Reply
        2. Lil Fidget

          It’s also useful feedback in that now you know this boss is not someone it’s “safe” to talk through ideas or seem less than certain to. He’s judging you for it, and he’s talking about it with others. My old boss was the same way in that he hated it when I sounded unsure, even when the situation was literally ambiguous. I just shifted my behavior and didn’t bring stuff to him until I was reasonably confident, and I talked out my thought process with a different colleague from then on.

          Reply
        3. Hillary

          That’s a conversation you can have with your manager. I’m not sure about this wording, but “I’m new to the role and I’m learning compliance areas with legal ramifications for the company. Is there an expert who can review my decisions to make sure we’re protected while I’m learning the ropes?”

          Basically in this situation make sure your manager knows why you’re hesitating. Confidence comes with experience (and training – is there outside training you can go to?). Also if you have access to outside experts use them. In my particular field of compliance our partners are always thrilled to teach because an informed customer is less work for them in the long run.

          Reply
          1. Anon for today

            There are outside partners but they charge by the hour and we’re on a spending lockdown.

            There are also industry organizations but asking questions in their forums etc is very public (no anonymous postings) Since I have not been in this industry very long, I simply dont have the network/connections to be able to ask on the backside. :(

            Reply
  13. Cute Li'l UFO

    I got the job I interviewed for last week! Initially I had heard I hadn’t gotten the position but something happened with the other candidate (that I don’t know more about) but my first day was great. I unfortunately got rear-ended the day before but I’m otherwise alright.

    Reply
      1. Cute Li'l UFO

        It looks to me to be. The other driver punctured something that might have been coolant/radiator and the hood had a nice crumple in it. 19 year old who was following too closely and I had to brake for a bike. Just called his insurance the other day and going through all that other fun stuff.

        My first car accident!

        Reply
  14. AeroEngineer

    So after 9 months of job searching, I have an invite to an assessment center in two months.

    Problem is, is that I have been to assessment centers before, and I have never ever gotten an offer from them. I really really want this job as well, so I want this to be a success.

    Does anyone have any tips or tricks?

    Reply
      1. AeroEngineer

        It is like a day long interview where some is solo and some is team work, and it ranges from giving presentations, to working on a small case study as a team to getting 60 pages of data in front of you and having to give a presentation about it in an hour. I guess it is more a European thing, as even though I have done some in the USA, it was with a European company.

        I am applying for a specific program, but I know that some companies (like the last one I did) mix programs together, so it doesn’t mean that I will be with people who would later be my colleagues.

        From a hiring point of view I get why they do it, but I seem to be really bad at them as a candidate.

        Reply
        1. PX

          I’ve done one, also didnt get the offer but it wasnt something I particularly wanted anyway so no big deal. Do a lot of research, as you said, it tends to be more of a European thing, but there is lots of advice out there. They should prep you beforehand or at the very least on the day-of with what the agenda will look like and what kind of tasks you’ll have. Things to definitely focus on (in my experience) is the case study and the group exercise. Whatever else gets thrown at you (eg a standard interview as well), be prepared for those 2 elements as they weight the most typically.

          Reply
        2. ProbablyNotASandwich

          A big thing to remember – that a surprising number of people don’t – is that you are on show and being interviewed for the WHOLE day, from when you arrive through breaks for coffee right through to being waved out the door at the end. A reasonable number of people eliminate themselves from the running by stopping their “interview” face when they’re not in a room with the assessors.

          Reply
  15. Another Lawyer

    What are good places for causal work clothes/pieces to look for?

    I’m a mid career female lawyer and have a very formal dress code. I dress fairly formulaicly – black sheath dress with a blazer or jacket, or a nice blouse with a suiting skirt from Ann Taylor or St. John. It makes getting dressed painless and I always look professional.

    However, Fridays, and really August in general, are much more casual in my office. In the winter I swap out the blouse for a crewneck sweater and still wear a St. John skirt, but I am struggling with summer casual. I wouldn’t mind, except that people still comment on how formally I am dressed.

    I prefer outfits that are easy to put together (dresses with sleeves would be great) and relatively modest (no exposed shoulders, pretty close to the knee, fairly loose, no cut outs, etc).

    Reply
    1. SoCalHR

      I’ve gotten a few great dresses from Amazon (believe it or not). One in particular is a short sleeved, solid color, slight v neck dress made of nice/thick jersey type material….(with pockets! I’m always excited about that). Anyway, not sure that is specifically what you’re looking for, but they have a lot of options so maybe look there. Also, my tip is look at the size chart but also read all the reviews because they clue you into how the dress really fits.

      Reply
        1. SoCalHR

          the links may not have gone through (or could be in moderation) but here are the descriptions of a couple:
          FENSACE with Pockets, Womens Short Sleeve Casual Flare A Line Midi Dress

          HUHOT Women Short Sleeve Round Neck Summer Casual Flared Midi Dress

          Reply
          1. It'sNan

            I own the Fensace dress, and have contemplated buying it in all the colors. Super cute, super comfy, but still looks professional enough. You can also always put a cardigan, wrap, or some such thing over it, too.

            Reply
      1. MusicWithRocksInIt

        I second the Amazon thing! They have great basics on prime! I’ve gotten some really good professional looking work tops and some really nice summer weight cardigans. I find I usually return maybe one out of three things, but the return process is really easy. Just make sure you stick with prime and don’t accidentally order anything from china. The sizes are not the same.

        Reply
      2. Lily Rowan

        I have similar-sounding dresses from Lands End (although they mostly don’t have pockets). That might thread the needle for you.

        Reply
      3. AliceBD

        Talbots! They often have cute dresses (not every time and different stores cannhave vastly different inventory). And everything is conservatively styled.

        Reply
        1. periwinkle

          I pretty much live in Talbots. Talbots is casual without ever being really casual, if you know what I mean. Their prints can be somewhat dowdy, though. Today I wore dark blue Talbots trousers with a Talbots stretchy tank top and elbow-sleeve cardigan. Okay, and bright fuschia shoes because a gal has to have some fun… (but at least they were Clarks, right?) They have a lot of nice dresses which are conservative but not formal. You’ll never show much cleavage in Talbots clothing…

          Reply
    2. The Ginger Ginger

      You can also swap blazers for short or 3/4 sleeved cardigans. And, if you like them, pants; even suit pants will read as slightly less formal than a skirt or dress.

      Reply
    3. Eleanor Shellstrop

      If it’s that casual on Fridays, could you get away with a well fitted crew neck or v neck t-shirt? Either in a solid color or a simple pattern.

      I work in marketing for a law adjacent organization, so I admit we are probably more lax in our everyday dress code than you are, but I wear plain t-shirts with pencil skirts a lot.

      Reply
    4. TotesMaGoats

      New York and company has great cropped pants for summer. I picked up like 5 pairs. A few with patterns that I pair with a solid shirt and a few solids with pattern shirts. Super easy. Ann Taylor Loft has similar. NYC also had great cotton sheath dresses (with pockets) for this summer. I have several. They are great with flats or easy enough to dress up with heels when I have to. Also…POCKETS.

      Reply
    5. When it rains

      Loft! You’ll find lovely dresses and more casual versions but pretty versions of what you’re already wearing.

      Reply
    6. CTT

      Boden! They have a lot of great dresses that would definitely fit what you want with being covered while still being summery. It’s a little on the expensive side, but they have good sales, and the quality of the clothes is great.

      Reply
      1. Harriet M. Welsch

        Attorney here, and agree with all of this! I have had great luck with Boden, especially their dresses.

        Reply
          1. Book Lover

            Is Boden good for all sizes? I am short and curvy and love Boden for my kids but haven’t bought anything for myself.

            Reply
            1. Ron McDon

              They do short, regular and long lengths in most trousers and dresses, and I think they do petite length in some tops too.

              Their sizing goes up to a size 20 UK (I think?) and the UK site has good explanations about the fit of each item – they say if you should order up or down a size.

              I love Borden clothes, very good quality and their sales are amazing.

              Reply
    7. Anonaswell

      This place really varies (some collections are better than others), but White Hous Black Market might have what you are looking for.

      Reply
    8. Emily S.

      I really like to wear pretty blouses that are sleeveless, and pair them with light 3/4 sleeve sweaters (e.g. the Jackie sweater from J.Crew). That way, I can take off the sweater when I go to lunch on hot days, but look nice and professional while I’m working.

      I have found nice sleeveless blouses at TJ Maxx.

      Reply
    9. Upstream Arch

      Go for dresses! Dresses are easy and comfortable, you don’t have to worry about mixing and matching separates, blah blah blah. Department stores like Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom have free personal shopper services which are excellent for dilemmas like this. I have used personal shoppers before and have been really happy with them. For your work situation, quality is going to be key – good tailoring, fabrics that aren’t going to be too sheer or clingy, etc. If you’re comfortable with St. John-type prices, look at MaxMara or Kate Spade. At a lower price point, I love Cos – they have a lot of stuff that won’t fit what you’re looking for, but a lot of really great, interesting dresses and separates. Hobbs (UK-based but now in the US) also has lovely stuff. I’ve heard good things about Of Mercer, but haven’t bought anything from them yet. I would normally suggest Brooks Brothers, but I worry that you’re going to walk in and realize that you’re in the same outfit as half of the junior associates.

      Reply
    10. Jiji the Cat

      Uniqlo! They have great lightweight trousers and skirts for summer, and nice versatile blouses. Lots of dresses with sleeves and modest tops too.

      Reply
    11. Lily Rowan

      My office is business casual in general, and I wear a lot of less-formal dresses, but when I’m getting more casual than that, I’ll do capri pants, or a casual fabric skirt (denim, linen, etc.), with a nice t-shirt. Or a much more casual dress, from the places already mentioned.

      Reply
    12. HarvestKaleSlaw

      Do you even want to wear business casual? You don’t sound excited to go shopping or like you are uncomfortable in what you are already wearing. If it’s just a few people making remarks, why go to all of the time, trouble and expense?

      My hot take: It never hurts to dress a bit more formally, especially as a woman. Better to be seen as stuffy but serious than to wear things you don’t feel confident about.

      You’ve got a work uniform that takes little thought, is appropriate, reads as serious, and that you already own. Why mess with it?

      Reply
      1. Another Lawyer

        This was absolutely the comment I needed! Everyone’s suggestions have been super helpful, but I don’t really care for clothes shopping, and I really am dreading all of the time and expense.

        Thanks for the validation that it’s fine to always be a little formal!

        Reply
      2. Ms Ida

        Agreed, if you are comfortable stick with it. If you do want to make some minor changes to head off comments maybe as you are replacing summer pieces just a variation in color from your usual more formal winter colors might help? I think the same blouse or blazer in black will read very differently than a lighter color or print. Maybe even a little bit of a change in accessories between seasons.

        Reply
    13. JustaCPA

      I’m a big fan of Chicos
      https://www.chicos.com/store/product/pinstriped+ponte+tee/570238848?color=001&catId=cat40036

      Talbots also has some chic more casual options – not sure if this one would be TOO casual?
      https://www.talbots.com/online/new-arrivals/denim-shift-dress-prdi46518/N-10588?selectedConcept=&akamai-feo=off

      but then they also have dresses like this:
      https://www.talbots.com/online/dresses/glen-plaid-sheath-dress-prdi46702/N-10189?selectedConcept=&akamai-feo=off

      and New York and Co has some great things and much lower prices:
      https://www.nyandcompany.com/7th-avenue-indigo-button-accent-sheath-dress/A-prod14540009/?An=102626&prodNo=26

      https://www.nyandcompany.com/7th-avenue-bow-accent-dot-print-twofer-sheath-dress/A-prod14750029/?An=102626&prodNo=28&selectedColor=BERRY%20RED (wear with a sweater cardigan to bring the formality factor down a notch)

      Reply
    14. Legal Rugby

      I’ve had good luck with Banana Republic for some pieces that I can wear on days I’m not in court/meetings. Stuff that isn’t very obviously not my normal wear, but that is pretty comfortable. I’m over 6 foot, and mostly wear slacks and button downs in the office, but I have some cute dresses from them.

      Reply
    15. OperaArt

      My usual plug for eShakti. They offer dresses custom made to your measurements, and you get to select the hem length, sleeve length, and neckline. And the dreses have pockets! Real pockets that can hold a cell phone and keys at the same time.

      Reply
      1. BahahaBlackSheep

        I have had great luck with them as well! I’ve definitely made some of their summer dresses a bit closer to business-casual than their original form by changing sleeves, neckline and length.

        Reply
    16. Hillary

      I second Loft for more casual, although Loft is on the dressy end for my current office. I’m wearing jeans, a logo golf shirt, and Toms today. A looser cut will look less formal – flowy blouses or tunics can be great (especially with prints). Taking your shoes down a notch can also make the whole outfit less formal, maybe throw in a colored shoe, open toe, or a bootie on Friday. If you’re interested in wearing pants, skinny ankle pants with heels and a tunic or 3/4 sleeve blazer are a great look that doesn’t take a lot of effort.

      Reply
    17. Delta Delta

      Also a lawyer. I like Joules dresses – some are quite summery while still being conservative. I also like Banana Republic, mostly for their good sales. My best ever dress is a DVF wrap dress. I’m considering asking to be buried in it. I spend most of the summer in dresses with cardigans and heeled sandals. Where I work this is perfectly acceptable to wear to court (state court, obvs.) Also, when I dress this way, clients tend to find (and remark) that I look professionally dressed, but still seasonal.

      Also, the “what should women lawyers wear” debate continues to rage on. I’m going to continue to wear what makes me feel professional and confident.

      Reply
    18. Grouchy 2 cents

      J.Jill. They have business casual stuff and just plain business stuff (no suits per se but lots of separates that pair well). They’re usually decent quality and they’re always having sales and they offer the same stuff in petite and plus sizes. I will say the pants run crazy long though.

      Reply
    19. Operational Chaos

      Nordstrom Rack. They’re a great go to for both formal attire, blouses, and solid basics. I’ve also had great luck with their makeup and jewelry sections.

      Reply
    20. Could be Anyone

      I’m a paralegal in a fairly conservative, stuck in the past type of law firm. I’m significantly younger than most of the people here (and I’m in my 30s), and I happen to be very tall and very large-chested, so I tend to err pretty far on the business side of business casual when I’m at work. I like Loft or Banana Republic dresses (they come in tall sizes so I can still find some close to knee length) or a pencil skirt (I get the stretchy pull on kind and to me it’s close to pajamas) and a short sleeve or sleeveless shell/shirt/blouse whatever. I keep a blazer and 1-12 cardigans in my office in case I need to look professional.

      Reply
    21. uranus wars

      I get a lot of my summer work-appropriate dresses from Banana Republic or the BR Factory Store; this summer they actually had some with sleeves. They also have some nice light weight skirts and sweaters that are probably like the crew necks you wear in cooler months.

      And believe it or not I also just got a nice 3/4 sleeve sheath from Old Navy for about $15. Even though I am only 5’8″I order a tall from the website – it hits the top of my knee caps so I can wear it to the office.

      Reply
    22. PetticoatsandPincushions

      LL Bean has some lovely dresses that are well made- many are sleeveless but pair nicely with cardigans. Someone also suggested Uniqlo and I heartily agree, especially this season they are all about below knee hemlines and sleeves which is great, and their price point sits at a great place for me personally- higher than fast fashion but not yet even at Banana Republic levels.

      Reply
    23. AMPG

      I bought a couple of science themed summer dresses from Svaha and have been wearing them for casual Fridays at work. They’re cute and incredibly comfortable (with pockets!) but I don’t know if they’re outside your comfort zone.

      Reply
    24. Glomarization, Esq.

      Brooks Brothers offers some nice separates. I have a tunic-length, 3/4 sleeve top, white linen with a bold black stylized floral design, that’s been on heavy rotation for me this summer. I’m not a skirt/dress wearer, but I know that BB’s skirts tend to a conservative length.

      Reply
  16. Lil Fidget

    I have started a new job after a long search (and thank God, a month off before I had to start). Now I’m enduring all the awkward cringe-inducing discomfort of starting over in a new place after being respected and well-liked at my last job. It’s hard to feel like you’re back at the bottom and everybody else knows more than you. There are also some weird undercurrents that I’m not sure if I’m imagining or what. Wish me luck at pushing through the initial discomfort of change!!!

    Reply
    1. Lumen

      Been there. Chances are you are not imagining it, but the right attitude for now is “not my circus, not my monkeys”.

      I’m sure you’ll do great! And good luck – starting anew can be really tough.

      Reply
    2. Media Buyer

      I’m in the same boat right now and this was exactly what I needed to see today to know I’m not alone in it. Best of luck to you!

      Reply
    3. Quinalla

      I hate that awkwardness when I started the job I’m in now. Long gone, but I was so frustrated that I wasn’t already good at everything and such a newbie at the systems and tools at my new place. It was mostly over in the first month and a few more kind after the first three months.

      Reply
  17. Nervous Accountant

    Episode 128973123 of how can I stop being so myself…

    There’s a new guy starting about a week or so. I don’t interview but I do train new hires once they come on board. Outside of tax season we do a 7-10 day training session to bring new hires up to speed and typically sit them next to someone who’s been here for a while so that person is there for any day to day questions.

    I was talking to our in house recruiter about other stuff and she mentioned that this new guy has a lot of great qualifications and everyone loved him, but his references said that his flaw may be “doesn’t play well in the sandbox” or something like that. Know it all was thrown around too. I just laughed and said no biggie.

    Uhmmm….yeah so here’s the thing–I really suck with new people. Socially, professionally, I am just super awkward. I’m not one of those people that’s super charming and gregarious and puts people at ease in the first few seconds/minutes of meeting them. I’m more like Shrek…really grumpy/prickly but once you get to know me, I’m pretty OK lol.. and this shows with my work relationships….people I was standoffish with in the beginning, I have a pretty decent relationship with now.

    Anyway, so I’m basically nervous that this guy may turn out to be like the last new guy (a constant boundary pusher, and a little bit sexist).

    Training is a huge part of my job so it goes w/o saying that I really can’t not do it. I want to strike a balance between being welcoming and helpful but not have htem look down on me or think they can say/do whatever b/c it’s just me (seriously…new guy. And another guy a long time ago who was eating cake and cracking jokes during his first week in training or new girl who looked like she was about to fake-cry and say “omg they moved me to your team whyyyyyyy the horrorrrrr”).

    I want to be a good trainer, but be nice and not take bullsh*t.

    Reply
    1. Afiendishthingy

      Sorry, I don’t really have advice, but this sounds like a shitty situation and I’m giving the hiring manager major side eye for hiring a guy known not to “play well with others”.

      Reply
      1. Nervous Accountant

        Ehh I wouldn’t say it’s a shitty situation but after the last POS guy I am super wary. He presented well during the interviews and has everything else everyone wanted so idk. I’m sure it’ll be ok, Mayne I’m just overthinking. It.

        Reply
        1. En vivo

          No, it’s not a shitty situation, because nothing has happened between you and the new hire. I think it’s ok that you’ve been forewarned about him, but treat him like you would anyone else- until/unless he gives you reason not to.

          You might find him quite pleasant to work with (or not!) who knows :) If he tests you, deal with it right away. We train others how to treat us.

          Good luck!

          Reply
        2. Afiendishthingy

          I just meant it sounds like a shitty situation to have to train a new person who sounds like a jerk. I would not hire someone whose flaw is “not playing well with others.”

          Reply
    2. Thosetaxreturnswontfilethemselves

      I don’t have any helpful advice other than be direct, stand up for yourself. Being nice and welcoming doesn’t mean you have to allow jokes at your expense. New girl – just wow –

      I feel like a lot of your problems are because you’re adding rotten apples to the bunch. That’s a horrible first impression to make to the person training you. What terrible attitudes.

      Reply
      1. Nervous Accountant

        Cake guy was fired a few weeks later so good riddance. New girl quit last week (3 months in) so oh well.

        Reply
      2. Nervous Accountant

        I mean we have 100+ people. So there’s bound to be a few bad ones. Most of the new people are good though.

        Reply
        1. Thosetaxreturnswontfilethemselves

          WOW! That’s a much bigger office than I though you had! Yeah 2 rotten apples out of a larger new hire class isn’t really uncommon. Don’t be afraid to shut down negative behavior. You’re a valuable resource and the trainees should treat you that way.

          For what it’s worth – I don’t play well with others – and was pretty generally disliked in my first public accounting job (I am not into frat culture) but have been very popular and well liked in all of my jobs since then.

          Reply
          1. Nervous Accountant

            Yeah! it was very small before but it’s grown a lot over the years. This is my first long term job, and I really REALLY struggled to fit in the beginning… thanks to the high turnover so the crappy people left, and other factors at play, that’s not the case anymore.

            Reply
    3. LilySparrow

      You can say “no” to things and ask people to not do things without being grumpy or prickly about it. Like, let the words do the job on their own without adding extra tone or emotion.

      My analogy is “telling the house rules to someone else’s kids.”

      Like, if my kids put their shoes on the sofa, I admonish them and make them go put their shoes away, because they know better. But when their friends come over, if they do it I just say, “Hey Bobby, please don’t put your shoes on the furniture, it’s a house rule.”

      You can tell them what not to do without making them feel bad about it.

      “Mike, please don’t eat while we’re training. Because it’s distracting and crumbs get in the widgets.”

      You can be friendly without being a pushover. It takes practice sometimes, but one thing that helped me was when I realized I was working from a default setting of defensiveness, kind of assuming people were trying to take advantage of me. As I got more confident in my ability to set reasonable boundaries, I also got more chill about it and give people the benefit of the doubt. Now I assume that most people want to be helpful and constructive, and do things well. And I can just give them feedback on how we can work well together.

      Like, eating and cracking jokes aren’t inherently evil. I’ve been in some trainings it meetings where that’s normal. But it bothers you. That’s valid! You’re entitled to set the tone when you’re running things. But if people are doing unhelpful or distracting things, it’s probably not a deliberate effort to be rude.

      Reply
      1. Nervous Accountant

        I agree I don’t think they are evil either. the attitude of the person was that they were too comfortable way too quickly and maybe they thought they were too good for us. Those were just concrete examples I could point to.

        Reply
  18. AnonForThis

    Also, interviewed an uptalker yesterday and wanted to claw my eyes out.

    And? I’d be great for this job? Because of my experience? And my personality? Is so bubbly (yes, she used “bubbly”)? And that? Makes me a great fit.

    Reply
    1. Lissa

      Oh man, I’ve read all the articles on why it’s sexist and bad to not like uptalk but it still grates on me no matter how much reframing I do.

      Reply
      1. Quiet Observer

        I have similar issues with the use of uptalk, vocal fry, and vaguely childishly high pitched voices. We interviewed someone who had the fry thing and her voice got quieter and deeper. You almost couldn’t hear her at the end of her answers. Problem is, these position are for public speaking, education, and training roles. If I can’t hear you clearly in a small meeting room with just me and another interviewer, how will a room full of 40+ professionals respond to your voice???

        Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        Girl cooties, basically. (Not at the individual level, but society’s attitude overall toward those mannerisms is 110% a bias against young women, and that influences the individual dispreference for those mannerisms whether we want it to or not.)

        Reply
        1. Thegs

          I realize I’m playing with fire here, but intonation is a part of clear communication. If I’m talking to a vendor about their new teapot design, “I like it,” takes on the complete opposite meaning when you change the intonation.

          Reply
          1. Jadelyn

            Are you seriously saying that you literally cannot understand someone’s meaning if they use an uptalk intonation?

            Clear communication is definitely a good standard to have, and I’m not even necessarily against coaching an employee who uptalks, as long as it’s more about “this is how some people might perceive you, and there’s value in being able to code-switch enough to control people’s perceptions of you when you want to”, but that seems like an…extreme position to take, to me, and that makes me a wee bit suspicious of it as a justification for bashing an intonation pattern that also, coincidentally, just so happens to be very very strongly associated with femininity.

            Reply
            1. Thlayli

              It makes it sound like you’re asking questions. Which makes it sound like you’re not sure of yourself or anything else. And when you realise that the person doing the uptalk is not in fact asking questions then you have to constantly reframe everything they are saying because your brain keeps hearing the question tone and thinking it’s a question. It turns a simple conversation into an exhausting exercise in mental concentration.

              So yeah, it is a tad annoying.

              Reply
          2. The New Wanderer

            Not Thegs, but I would guess the unclear communication is sounding like someone is asking a question or otherwise requiring conversational feedback/confirmation instead of stating something as a declarative sentence that doesn’t require a response. One of the common responses to uptalk is “are you asking me or telling me?”

            Reply
          3. Ann O.

            Except that there are large parts of the country (such as where I grew up) where uptalk is part of the regional accent. Somehow we all still manage to understand tone and distinguish between statements and answers just fine.

            Reply
      2. LCL

        To (older) people who learned English as their first language while in the United States, it can sound childish while at the same time condescending. There is a gender based aspect of what we find annoying about it. Generally women sound more childish then condescending, men sound more condescending than childish. Think David Spade’s public speaking persona, or David Sedaris’ or the ‘Phoebe voice’ from Friends, all sound condescending and mocking. It’s the talk radio snark voice. I don’t see this as a bias against young women, though many people do.

        Reply
  19. Namast'ay in Bed

    Is there a polite way to say “is this request actually urgent or would you just prefer if you got it sooner”? This has been an ongoing issue that has only been exacerbated by my team being (temporarily) understaffed due to vacations and we’re juggling a cavalcade of high-priority projects only for people to come out of the woodwork and say that their normal-priority project that wasn’t due for two more weeks suddenly needs to be done today.

    I’ve been mostly sticking to some version of “if this is high-priority please update its priority and due date [in our tracking system]. It’s currently slated to be finished on [future date] and has been prioritized as such with our projects. Thanks!”, which at least gets the change formally documented, it just sucks that we’re getting so many last-minute high-priority requests, and I get the feeling that a lot of these expedited requests are more personal preference than actual business need.

    Reply
    1. The Ginger Ginger

      Does your team have a metric or rubric for how to rank requests/prjecys by priority? My work has a break down of what makes a request low, high, or critical that includes a range of variables (due date, price/contract value, level of impact on client, whether or not there’s an available work around if the request is a bug fix, etc) . That way when someone marks something as “high”, they can take a look and either say, yup! that’s high, or say, Are you sure? Please show your work on why you think this is a high level request. Then they either downgrade the request to low, or get information on the request that the requester initially left out.

      To answer your actual question – I think what you’re saying is already fine. I might leave it less open/leading, but that’s about it. So, “Your request has been received and is slated to be finished on [future date] based on the priority of all currently scheduled projects. If the needs of your project change, please update your request and alert the team. Thanks!

      Reply
    2. BRR

      I have a variety of tools I use for this:
      -get background on the request. This helps to know if it’s actually urgent and if they sat on the request before asking me
      -if one person has more than one request I ask them prioritize them
      -say my capacity won’t allow it and ask if there is a specific part of the request I can answer more quickly

      I have to constantly push back that I monitor my request queue, not others. Thankfully my manager trusts me to prioritize my work

      Reply
    3. Key Lime Pie

      I assume that no one has any idea how long it will take to do what they’re asking, or how to ask us to prioritize it. I ask, “Do you have a deadline?” Often they don’t. When they do, we talk about how soon before the deadline they need something from us, and if we can provide everything they’re asking for by that time.

      If you’re working in more of a ticketing system, I think Purple soda’s idea is good.

      Reply
    4. Independent George

      Does your team have any authority to reset the priority of the request, or is there some defined criteria for establishing priorities? It sounds like the requesters are simply adding a due date, then changing it without consulting you first. If that’s the case, the solution is systemic, not just a diplomatic response.
      There needs to be some ownership of assigning priorities from your team. Other teams should not dictate how much you can accomplish and by when, especially when you’re understaffed. It may help to assign a team lead to triage requests or reassign priority to align with your teams resources.

      Reply
    5. Gumby

      “so many last-minute high-priority requests”

      I’d be hugely tempted to find large posters with “A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part” and hang them everywhere.

      But if you insist on being professional about it, is there any way you can push some of this back on the last-minute requestor? “Right now the team is very busy working on the project for Fergus which is due to our biggest client on Monday and our second priority is Jane’s project which has a hard deadline of next Wednesday. If you’d like us to move your request to the top, you need to get either Fergus or Jane to okay it.”

      Reply
    6. LGC

      At least you have a formal system!

      For internal requests, I’ve just stuck to, “Hey, I can do this by X right now, what time do you need it by?” In that way, I’m asking the person what time they need it by, and communicating that my time isn’t infinite and I have other priorities.

      But then again, my coworkers and upper management are usually reasonable about asking me for things. In the case you work with glass bowls: I’d pleasantly explain that…well, gee, you have a LOT of last minute requests, so you really can’t push this up unless there’s an actual business need. And even then it’ll be a crunch.

      Basically, I’d stick with Purple soda’s strategy and possibly escalate to making them explain why (like BRR) if they’re especially demanding. But even giving a set deadline helps!

      Also, how many requests do you get, and how responsive are you? I’d also explain that YOU’RE probably going to have some delays because of your staffing.

      (Of course, adjust your tone as necessary. With people I’ve worked with on a regular basis, I’m pretty informal in my language, so my exact wording might not work for you.)

      Reply
  20. Anon for this

    When I started my job 5 years ago, there was a beloved employee named Wakeen, an older guy who had been there for years and had a wealth of knowledge and experience. There are some physically demanding aspects of this job, and multiple people lectured me to take care of Wakeen and don’t let him hurt himself. Wakeen had some chronic health problems and would sometimes overdo it at work, exacerbate his health problems, and then have to take sick days to recover. It made me uncomfortable because it felt condescending to make assumptions about what he could or couldn’t do. I would offer to do physical tasks for him, but I didn’t argue or insist on doing it if he said, “No thanks.”

    Wakeen has since retired and now I am the most out of shape person in the department. I am quite overweight and have some joint pain, but nothing that precludes me from doing my job. I am also the shortest person here and have difficulty reaching some things, though I find a way when I need to. It seems as though people have started assuming that I can’t do certain physical things. They will offer to do things and be persistent even when I say, “That’s ok, I got it.” Sometimes the person on the shift before mine will do a certain task that’s hard for me (mainly because of my height but it also involves climbing ladders) at the end of his shift so I don’t have to do it on my shift, even though I haven’t asked and I regularly do it myself.

    Nobody has come right out and said, “I did this for you because I don’t think you’re capable of doing it,” and it’s not unheard of to do something extra to help out the next shift. I do extra work to help out the next shift all the time (different things than what they have been doing for me), probably more than anyone else, so I am grateful when other people return the favor and I don’t want to complain about it, but I’m worried that they are doing it because they think I can’t. I am starting to wonder if they are now having those conversations about me that they used to have about Wakeen, “Take care of Jane, don’t let her hurt herself.” I should note that I have never had to take a sick day to recover from something I did at work, and I pass my company physical every year with no restrictions.

    I don’t know if I should say something when people do physical things for me. I don’t have a problem with people helping me out, per se, because I do the same for everyone else, but I’m concerned they’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Then again, maybe I’m wrong and it’s just a coincidence that they are choosing to do the more physically demanding tasks because I am better at the other things. I’m afraid if I say something, they’ll get mad that I’m ungrateful and then never do anything nice for me again (and I do appreciate not having to do these things, because they are quite difficult for me, but I can and will do them when I need to). I’m afraid that if I don’t say anything, though, that people will start to think that I’m not capable of doing my job, even though I am.

    Reply
    1. Postdoc problems

      If they are helping only with the things that you actually do struggle with, I wouldn’t worry about it. It sounds like you work somewhere where everyone tries to look out for each other. You can try to do extra of other physical tasks when that happens so that they can see you are capable of doing physical work if you are concerned. If they are taking over a large part of your job it is different and you may want to address it with them.

      Reply
      1. Thlayli

        Yeah I don’t really see the problem. You genuinely do find those things difficult and they are doing them for you, without you having to ask. That’s nice. It sounds like you all look out for each other. It sounds like they didn’t fire Wakeen even though he was physically incapable of doing a lot of the job, so it doesn’t seem like the type of company that’s going to drop you if they think you can’t do your job, so I don’t really see why this is a problem. People are just paying it forward. In physical jobs most people are eventually going to reach a stage where they can’t do all of it. So it’s nice that the youngins are taking on the more difficult bits voluntarily, and hopefully the new youngins will do the same for them in years to come.

        Your workplace sounds awesome.

        Reply
    2. I'm A Little Teapot

      Yeah, that’s kinda annoying. I’d say something like “I promise, if I need help I will ask for it”. Then just get back to work. But do actually ask for help if you need it. If it continues, a breezy “I’m not Wakeem! I’ve got this!” might jolt them into awareness.

      Reply
      1. Anna Held

        Something similar happens to me, but I’ve learned to roll with it. I can’t magically make myself taller or stronger, so if there’s someone else around who can do something easily that I’d physically struggle with, why punish myself? It can be downright dangerous when you start pushing the “I have to do everything myself” mindset too far. No, I can’t handle that 50 pound box, so let’s get help.

        I agree that it sounds like you’re in a place where everyone looks out for each other, and so it does become almost foolish or insulting when you turn down well-meant help. They don’t want you to struggle or feel like you can’t depend on them. You help the next shift too! People see the totality of your work. They know who’s on the ball, who does their work well, who helps out others. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. If you feel guilty, identify your strength and volunteer to help your helpers with that task.

        And always, always take care of yourself! Neither your pride nor your job is worth a serious injury.

        Reply
    3. Biscuits

      I don’t think anyone is sending about memos about you, yet. I work in a job that requires a fair amount of bending, and I know that it’s not super pleasant for one of my coworkers to get down & do it, so if I have spare time on my shift, that’s often what I’ll do. Not because I doubt that she can, but because if my goal is to ease some of the burden from her, why not do the thing I know she’d benefit most from having done by someone else?

      Reply
  21. Small but Fierce

    My husband will probably accept a promotion that will move us from Florida to Connecticut. I’ve only been working professionally 3 years, and I’ve been at this company for a year. I followed my current manager to a different department, so I’ve only been in this role a month. That said, she managed me in my prior role and offered me a promotion to keep me on her team.

    Our small team is spread across the country, so my job could be remote. The company is fairly flexible when it comes to changing offices, but I’ve heard mixed things when it comes to working from home. There’s an office in CT that’s an hour from where my husband will be based, so it’s possible that we could find a home at the midway point. That said, my preference would be working from home since I’d be the sole team member in that state regardless.

    When should I tell my manager about my husband’s job offer? How can I ask to work remotely? Is it too optimistic to hope that they’ll let me, given I’ve only been in this role a month? I’m currently thinking I could offer to stay in FL until January 2019 while searching for CT jobs if they shut down the remote work idea, but that’s not ideal.

    Any advice would be appreciated!

    Reply
    1. Holly

      On a personal note, you really should be having this conversation with your husband so you know how sure he is in wanting to accept the offer and you both will be on the same page in terms of where you would like to live. You should also be discussing *what you should do about your job* if you cannot keep the one you have now. That’s really important to have an extremely honest conversation about.

      For work, please talk to them as soon as possible!! Like, yesterday! If they absolutely can’t accomodate your move, that has to be discussed with your husband before he accepts the offer. Just explain what you just said here – your husband is highly considering accepting an offer to CT and you’d have to move – you really enjoy working there, and had no idea that you would be moving so soon (if that’s true – if you knew this was a possibility and you just started a new job without communicating that, that’s not the greatest) and if there’s anything they can do to accomodate that including you working remotely or in the CT office.

      Reply
      1. Small but Fierce

        Thanks for your reply! My husband and I have discussed all the possibilities and he is on board with me working in FL until January 2019 while looking for CT jobs. We’re in a good place financially, so we could afford me being out of work for at least 6 months if it doesn’t work out as we had hoped. It was implied to my husband that his company would be motivated to hire me as well if he made the move, but I’d prefer staying at my current company if it can be helped. I was at my past company for a little less than 2 years, so I know my resume is already looking spotty in terms of job hopping.

        Reply
    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      When I wanted to move because of my partner’s PhD, I said very matter-of-factly to my boss that this was the plan and I wanted to discuss the possibility of working remotely. There were very few people at my company who worked from home, but it wasn’t unprecedented. She took in the information and got back to me. I did not offer to do anything at that point, though I would have stayed in the area if she had said no. I think I may have said that I would be basing my plans based on her answer, meaning I would prefer to stay with the company and could delay my move, but I was definitely moving at some point. It turned out to be easier than I expected, to be honest.

      Basically, treat it like you’re raising the question, not like you’ve made a decision. In fact, you’re in a great spot to do that, as your husband hasn’t yet accepted this promotion. You can even frame it as waiting for your job’s decision before you move forward with your plans.

      Reply
      1. Small but Fierce

        While it is true that he hasn’t formally accepted, I think we’re essentially at that point. He has to give them a decision early next week, so it would feel a bit disingenuous to tell her we’d base the decision on what she said. I wished I brought it up sooner, but he interviewed 3 weeks ago, then we went on a 2 week vacation out of the country. He received the offer while we were away, so it was very fast.

        Reply
    3. Mockingjay

      Present a business plan with Option A: working entirely remotely and Option B: working at the CT office.

      For A, explain all the usual telework requirements: you will keep standard business hours, you have robust internet and/or equipment (describe company-supplied equipment and anything you need to supplement – monitors, printer, etc.), you have a dedicated phone (cell or landline) for business, you will send any required daily/weekly/monthly reports of your activities. Also note that you can come into the CT office as needed, say for special meetings or to use equipment (like a large print job on the big copier). Explain how you will conduct business as usual regardless of location.

      Option B would be a formal request to transfer to the CT office. You still report to your Florida supervisor and are considered her remote employee, or are assigned to a CT manager with the Florida boss as your Task Lead.

      Check with HR or the company handbook on the proper procedure to implement either request: forms, approvals needed, payroll/tax changes due to different state requirements.

      Reply
    4. Celeste

      Your manager seems like an ally. I think it would be okay to let her know it looks like your family is moving to CT and ask what that could mean for you staying with the company. I personally would wait until your husband accepts the promotion, but I’m sure others can argue telling sooner rather than later. I think you just have to know how serious his employer is and have a feeling for how your boss would handle the news, both things that aren’t obvious to us.

      I would not offer to live apart. I would also explain that the move would put you at least an hour away from the CT office. Living midway is just not going to be good for your family life, and neither is a serious commute. Really, if they want to keep you, they’re going to need to let you work remotely. You need this information mainly to know if you need to start CT job hunting now, and to plan a transition out of the role.

      Good luck! It sounds exciting.

      Reply
      1. AMPG

        I live in CT, and a 30-minute commute* is pretty standard, so if they find a midway point it shouldn’t be a big deal. My husband and I commute 20-30 minutes in different directions every day with no issue.

        *Do make sure to take local traffic into account, though. In some parts of CT what looks like 30 minutes on paper will actually be an hour during peak travel time.

        Reply
    5. BRR

      Like others have said wait until he accepts and has plans in place. I would then tell your manager your husband accepted a new position in Connecticut and say you enjoy your job and ask if it would be possible to continue in your position being a remote employee. Be prepared with a plan for that as it applies to your role (part of that might be offering to stay in Florida for a certain period of time). If you’re told that won’t be possible, ask if it would be possible to work out of the Connecticut office.

      Reply
  22. AwkwardTurtle

    I got a LinkedIn invite to connect with my ex-boyfriend of 8 years ago. I’ve ignored his request once before but this time I just blocked him for good. Anyone else have these awkward or cringe-worthy experiences?

    Reply
    1. Audiophile

      Yup, I’ve gotten a few requests from an ex which I block for a long list of personal reasons. Keep on blocking.

      Reply
    2. SoCalHR

      You know how linkedin will do banner type ‘ads’ on your page that says “you’re profile is being viewed” with a half visible picture of one of the viewers? Mine showed an ex from forever ago and it was funny because the way the photo is laid out it totally looks like he was peeking around the banner. Any other person and it wouldn’t have caught my eye, but it definitely looked like my ex was creeping on me via linked in (and I guess technically he was lol).

      Reply
    3. Murphy

      Yes! While I considered how to respond for a day or two, he withdrew the request, so I assumed he just imported all of his contacts and didn’t realize it would invite me. But more than once? Ugh.

      Non-work related, I had a former childhood friend/bully request me on FB multiple times and I blocked her after the second request.

      Reply
      1. EvilQueenRegina

        When Facebook was still new, I got an email saying one of my ex’s friends (who I guess comes under former friend/bully) wanted to connect with me. I ignored that, but a couple of weeks later, someone else who I was still friends with sent me such a request, and I was fine with that one so created my account and then found the request from Ex’s Friend still waiting for me. The trouble was, Facebook had some weird issue at that time where if you tried refusing a request, it was treating it as unacknowledged, so every time I logged into Facebook after that it was still telling me I had a friend request from Ex’s Friend. In the end I asked Facebook to remove it for me.

        Reply
    4. EmilyG

      A while back I was honored for a professional thing and tweeted my thanks. (Which feels a little ooky, but everyone else does it.)

      Then a couple weekends ago my ex-husband liked that tweet… from April. Did he spend his Saturday night reading three+ months’ worth of my random tweets going back that far?

      Reply
    5. LuJessMin

      The manager that laid me off back in 2016 sent me a LinkedIn request about 6 months later (after she was told to quit or be fired). Part of me anted to accept so I could send her a message asking her why she laid me off, but instead I deleted the request.

      Reply
    6. anonykins

      I am estranged from my family of origin, except for one sibling. I have also blocked my mother on every form of social media because she has harassed me in the past. But I know she still snoops in any way she can because of LinkedIn. There’s that setting to make your profile-viewing activity on LinkedIn anonymous, which I assume she has turned on because she’s never showed up on that list. But there’s also a section where you can see the other profiles an anonymous person has viewed right after or before they viewed yours. I can see that she’s been viewing some other person that has my sibling’s name (my sibling doesn’t have LinkedIn). I’m 99% positive it’s my mother because I haven’t had the same last name as my sibling for a decade, and none of my professional contacts knows me by that last name.

      Reply
    7. Anonaswell

      I am not even kind of interested in job searching, so I just deleted my linked in. Too many inappropriate connection requests.

      Reply
    8. Emily S.

      I keep getting the most annoying emails from my ex-husband (who has since remarried). They’re all like, “Look at me, I lost tons of weight, got a new job and already a promotion, got fancy Rolex watches, blah blah blah…” I would block him, but I can’t, because we still have a joint loan (LONG story), so I need to be able to correspond with him about that. But my god, those emails are the worst — especially since I’m in a much leaner financial position that him.

      I know it’s all calculated to try and make me feel something, but I really don’t — I’m much happier now. (He was an alcoholic.)

      Reply
    9. ThatGirl

      My high school boyfriend – who I last saw 18 years ago and who I dumped rather unceremoniously – found me via LinkedIn and then found me on Twitter.

      It was…. weird.

      Reply
    10. dorothy zbornak

      a guy I went on ONE date with in 2012 did the following: had his DOG follow me on twitter, connected w/me on LinkedIn and then asked me to write him a recommendation (we had never worked together, we met at a bar). And what was even weirder he never asked me out for the second date so it’s not like I had rejected him.

      Reply
    11. Alex the Alchemist

      Yep. Dude I used to work with who harassed me and other women in the office was fired for exactly this reason. I blocked him on all social media, and emailed him that he absolutely needed to stop contacting me. He sent me an email stating he understood, but then a year later I got a last-ditch LinkedIn request from him. Nope!

      Reply
    12. Fuzzy Pickles

      Yes. Multiple times from the same ex. Was actually one of the contributing factors to changing my last name when I got married…

      Reply
    13. LDP

      My ex-boyfriend (who dumped me on Mother’s Day via text message, and instead of returning my phone calls proceeded to delete every trace of me from his social media accounts, down to even un-favoriting and un-retweeting a year’s worth of my tweets) looks at my LinkedIn page at least once a month. I finally set my own profile to be anonymous just so I wouldn’t get the notifications from him anymore. It’s been two years! Time to move on, buddy! *eye roll*

      Reply
    14. Grapefruit Hero

      Ugh, the same thing happened to me recently. It was enough to make me leave the site for good. It isn’t incredibly useful in my profession anyway, and right after we broke up he showed up at and called my work enough times for it to be considered harassment. It turned into this huge thing where I had to involve security and everyone at work had to be notified that he wasn’t to know if I was in the building. So, I was pretty terrified to think that he could know where I worked. I ended up deleting my account instead of blocking him, because it isn’t incredibly useful/important for my industry, anyway.

      Reply
    15. Anonymosity

      Ugh.
      So far, that hasn’t happened to me on LinkedIn. I doubt I would want to connect with an ex or former high school bully, especially not on a professional site.

      Reply
    16. Windchime

      I got a Linked-In request from the HR person who, with my ex-boss and ex-grand-boss, berated me for 2 hours after calling me into HR. I was a crying mess and actually had a panic attack while I was in there, but was afraid to leave because it seemed like they were documenting in order to fire me. And then after I finally quit, she sends me a LI request. Um, let’s make that a “nope”.

      Reply
  23. Amber Rose

    It’s gonna be 37 C out today, the weather is officially just listed as “smoke”, and my boss has decided to have a BBQ at lunch. I think this is banana crackers.

    In the meantime, I’m trying so hard to focus on work but my eyes are burning and stinging, my chest hurts and I want to claw my own throat right out. It’s inhumane to expect people to work under these conditions. :(

    Reply
    1. Snark

      Yeah, it’s really not great to have people outside when there’s heavy smoke. Given that the entire northern hemisphere is basically on fire right now, this is not a hard concept, and really shouldn’t be hard to figure out.

      Reply
    2. Ann O.

      It is inhumane. Is work providing rated face masks at least? (if not, they should be!)

      And that takes cluelessness/insensitivity to a whole new level to have a BBQ in an area that’s already on fire!

      Reply
      1. Student

        I live someplace in the same weather conditions as Amber Rose.

        That’s not a reasonable expectation. People can buy their own particulate masks for smoke. Employees can, no doubt, opt out of the BBQ lunch if they are struggling with smoke issues. It would be a very common thing to do.

        I don’t think you realize quite how many masks would be needed to cover the people in the regions affected by smoke. It’s an individual health concern, not something that we should look to our employers to deal with for us. If any larger organization is responsible for this kind of thing, you should ask local governments, healthcare providers, health insurers about providing masks to help stave off mass health issues from the smoke – not random employers.

        I personally think it’s a good idea to try to postpone BBQ type picnics until after the ash storms die down. They last a really, really, long time, though, so that’s got its own issues – we’d be picnic-less for most of the summer and fall if we let the smoke keep us indoors for its entire duration. Last year was bad too – we had a full month of permanent twilight due to ash in the air – but you can’t always just stay indoors that long.

        Reply
        1. Ann O.

          Random employers are the ones compelling their employees to work in specific places, so I don’t think it’s an unreasonable expectation at all.

          I also don’t think it’s accurate to label issues caused by the smoke as an individual health concern given that it’s a regional issue. At that level, the health issues are systemic, not individual. I do agree that local governments should be responsible before employers, though.

          Reply
        2. Bex

          N95 masks are super cheap in bulk. Like, 50 cents or less. So a company with 1000 employees could give them all a new mask each week for a month, and spend less than $2000. That’s an incredibly small investment to help keep your employees healthy and earn goodwill.

          Personally, every good company I’ve worked for has provided masks when air quality gets dangerous.

          Reply
  24. Little Bean

    I just accepted a role as supervisor for a new team of 3, including myself. However, our permanent office location is not ready and we are being given 3 temporary offices, one of which is in a different building from the other 2. Does anyone have suggestions for maintaining team cohesion with a geographical separation like this? We will have shared meeting spaces but may only see each other 1-2 times a week at meetings.

    I am thinking that my two employees should have the offices together so that neither feels isolated or preferred, and also because I am likely to be out of my office for various meetings more frequently than either of them. But this means that I can never observe them in action and that they don’t have easy access to consult with me about issues. I am thinking about instituting regular “check-ins”, in addition to staff meetings, which is just me dropping by their offices at the beginning or end of the day once or twice a week to see how things are going.

    Reply
    1. Red Reader

      Use a messaging system if you can to keep in contact. We do a daily email, here’s the priorities for today, joe please make sure you look at this, Mary please check that, Manager will be in meetings most of the day so contact Team Leads if you have an urgent question, etc. When I (one of the TLs) do the daily email, I include something like “Today is National Smore Day” or “What’s your favorite movie?” And about half the team responds in some fashion. Our boss puts in silly clip art and dog pictures. None of the extras take more than a couple seconds to glance over, but it keeps the emails from being a same-every-time template.

      (My team of 23 is fully remote and spread over about 300 miles, north to south :) )

      Reply
    2. Susan K

      I think your plan is good and you are right about giving your employees the two offices together. There are plenty of tools available (e-mail, phone, text, conference call, chat, Skype) to stay in communication with them. How far away is the third office? Is it close enough that you could walk over pretty quickly if they need to meet with you in person?

      Reply
    3. BRR

      I’m a big proponent of one on ones so I think regular check ins would be good. A messaging system is helpful and maybe you schedule quick check in phone calls if that doesn’t seem excessive for your industry.

      Reply
    4. CAA

      I agree that your two employees should have the offices together, but in addition to the other suggestions, I think you should try to work in their building once in a while. See if there’s some space you can borrow for a few days, such as the office of someone who’s going on vacation or parental leave. I’m guessing conference rooms are at a premium, since that seems to be the case everywhere, but if you have an online scheduling system, maybe you can find a room that’s never booked on Monday mornings and work there for a half-day every other week.

      Reply
    5. Nerfmobile

      My manager is in a different state from me and our weekly 1:1s are key for keeping in touch. I highly recommend setting up at least a half hour each week with each of them individually.

      Reply
  25. Postdoc problems

    I have noticed that there are a good number of people in academia who read this site, so I am hoping that maybe some of you can give me advice. I am a first year postdoc in a biomedical field and it is not working out well. My PI has decided to shorted my appointment to one year, which I agree is the best move. I have not been generating much data. I tried to switch fields and join a brand new lab (PI is a first year faculty member). Helping get the lab up and running while also trying to learn new techniques and a new disease were too much for me. I do think that I can succeed in a more established lab that is closer to what I did in grad school, and my grad school PI agrees. My question is how do I move forward from this? I know that looking for a new position within a year of starting doesn’t look great. I am on track to getting a small first author paper from this lab, which I hope will help. I’m just not sure how to address my short stay here. Any advice is appreciated.

    Reply
    1. Birch

      Is it unusual to have a one-year postdoc in biomedical? I’m in psychology and it’s very normal to have a few short postdocs before a longer lecturer position (caveat: I’m also in Europe). I feel you though–I’m in my first postdoc in a young group trying to help set up a lab and not getting much done yet. I really don’t think this should hurt you though. Did you take the first position because you needed the job, or because you thought it was something it wasn’t? Either way, it’s totally understandable to say to potential future PIs that it didn’t quite match what you were looking for and that you’re excited to do work in an area that fits your skills and experience better.

      Reply
      1. Postdoc problems

        I’m really not sure how common it is. I know it happens, but generally postdocs stay for 2-3 years. I took this position because I was excited about the research question and I wanted the opportunity to expand my skillset. Originally, the project involved techniques that were very complementary to my past experience. Unfortunately, the project kept changing (which is common, I know) but has grown farther and farther from what I know how to do (and farther away from what I am actually interested in). I also thought that seeing what goes into setting up a lab would be useful so that I could see whether I actually want to stay in academia. To be fair, that actually was useful.

        Reply
    2. Alice

      Oof, it’s really good that you are still connected to your grad school PI. Can you use her network to find a new spot?
      Once you get to the interview stage — or maybe even before? — you could take the strategy of being really specific about what didn’t work out this year and why that problem won’t happen again. Maybe in a way that complements (and compliments) the lab you’re aiming for — not that you should call the old lab chaotic, but you could talk about “wanting to slot in to an established lab like this one and throw myself into learning your systems and techniques.”

      Reply
      1. Postdoc problems

        My grad school PI has been great. She is reaching out to her network to see if anyone is looking for a postdoc. She even told me to call her if I ever need a pep talk because she doesn’t want this experience to discourage me too much. I definitely don’t want to say anything bad about the current lab. I like everyone here and I think that if I were to have joined three years down the road it could have been completely different.

        Reply
        1. AcademiaNut

          I do think your current PI is screwing you over. They’re a new faculty (ie, they’re still working out how to run a lab and supervise postdocs), the project keeps changing, and they’re punishing you, a new postdoc in a new area of work, for not keeping up. An experienced supervisor would have looked at your CV and thought “A new postdoc, switching research areas and helping set up a new lab? Too much to expect.” and hired someone else. A more thoughtful supervisor would be actively working with you to figure out what you wanted to do next – a good bit of supervising a postdoc, particularly a junior one, is mentoring, not just using them for cheap labour. I do hope they get chastised by the tenure committee for not publishing enough while setting up a new lab.

          But the supportive grad supervisor is a major blessing here. She can vouch for your ability and work ethic, and also do the prep work of explaining why you’re applying again after a year. Send out a ton of applications, get the first author paper submitted and ask her for advice on what to say in interviews (My field doesn’t have labs in the same way, but I’d think that experienced faculty would understand that setting up a new lab while changing areas under the supervision of a new faculty member is a disaster waiting to happen.

          Reply
    3. NotaPirate

      Still just a grad student but I think you could explain it as wanting to try new research area and then realizing you wanted to go back to something more similar to your grad student work. The trying to setup a new lab stuff is such a pain, I can see how that alone would be a problem. We moved locations twice and each time I’ve lost at least a month to setting up equipment and training people.

      Reply
      1. Postdoc problems

        I actually helped move my grad school lab. It was a pain but it was no where near as bad as starting from scratch. I seriously underestimated how different it would be.

        Reply
    4. Trout 'Waver

      Just use your network. It’s not a big deal. Also, I’d advise against working for assistant professors. Way too risky.

      Reply
      1. Postdoc problems

        Yeah, I am definitely going to stay away from new labs this time. There is intense pressure to produce and fewer resources.

        Reply
    5. Public health postdoc

      I don’t think it’s a big deal to leave now, much better to cut your losses and go somewhere you have a better chance of achieving good outcomes. I’m now 7 years post-phd and have seen more than a few post docs who for various reasons, didn’t get outputs in their previous positions. Finding a good group, supervisor and mentor is so important, and if you’re not getting it where you are, get out! It’ll only be a real issue if you stay and have 2 years (or more) without good papers.

      Also, hang in there! Starting out as a new postdoc is hard, you’ve got so many things to learn and are very much at the bottom of the heap again. It does get better!!

      Reply
  26. Nervous Accountant

    Anyone here ever dyed their hair one of those crazy colors? How was it received at work? Did you ask “permission” from someone if you weren’t sure?

    My office is super casual in dressing, but no one here has had the crazy hair colors or facial piercings. Not a lot of people have very visible tattoos (some do but they’re hidden under regular clothing, and if it shows….it’s not a scandal or anything). Attire is business casual, so that ranges from slacks and button down shirts to graphic (not profanity or politics) T shirts & jeans for men, to skirt/dress/heels to leggings & tshirts for women.

    Anyway, I’m dying to color my hair. I have a color appt at the end of the month and I’m leaning towards going back to my natural hair color (dark brown black) and having pink at the ends.

    Obv, I don’t want to spend $$$$$$$$ only to be told I have to change it, but it also feels a little childish and weird that I need to “ask permission.” I asked our “HR” person and she said it looks amazing but she didn’t give a firm yes or no answer. I’m thinking of asking my boss but I’m kind of scared of how it’ll be received, and maybe a little scared of a no b/c now I’ll feel like a rebellious teen.

    Reply
    1. Curious Cat

      Yes, I have! I usually dye my hair various shades of auburn and red, but a little while back I dyed the entire under side hot pink (it was still very visible when my hair was down, but looked super awesome when my hair was up in a ponytail/bun). I also have a super casual office and have many piercings (all different ear piercings for me, but many coworkers have nose rings), but I did still clear it with my boss anyway. It can be shocking to come in with an unnatural color, so even if you’re doing it as more of a heads up, I think it’s a good idea to let your boss know. Better to be safe than sorry.

      Reply
    2. Libby

      I did at both places (I dyed my hair back when job hunting), even though I knew at both it would be okay. But I’m an apprehensive type person like that in general.

      Reply
    3. SoCalHR

      Check your handbook, it may address “non-natural” hair colors. But even if it doesn’t preclude crazy colors, you still have to weigh the culture aspect of your office. Sounds like you’re not client-facing so I feel like it should be less of an issue.

      Reply
    4. Murphy

      I have fire engine red hair. I dyed it a more conservative (though obviously fake) red for my interview and first few months here just in case. I didn’t ask permission to go back to the bright red. I basically just took stock of the office. Business casual, but a few had visible tattoos. Someone in another department had some teal in her hair, and as far as I could tell, nobody batted an eye.

      If you’re really concerned, you could always just ask permission and acknowledge the weirdness. “I feel a bit silly even asking about this, but I did really want to make sure that it wasn’t inappropriate!”

      Reply
    5. Paige

      I have fun colors in my hair. I started with just one fun color, and I had the stylist dye it in such a way that the fun color was under my regular hair, so the fun color was only visible if I pulled my hair up/to the side. I got nothing but compliments on it, and from there moved to getting more color (and more colors over time) in the form of highlights/streaks. For a short time, I inspired a “fun hair colors” fad with a few of my older colleagues (most of whom did it once or twice and then went back to natural hair colors because it can be hard to maintain, esp. if you have dark natural hair). I’ve never had a problem, I never asked permission, but I also work in a place that is very casual most of the time. And I don’t have a customer-facing job.

      Worst case scenario if you do your hair pink on the ends and your boss just loses their mind about it, you can trim the ends off?

      Reply
      1. Anon - I've Recommended This Blog Too Much Lately..

        I have a similar situation — I work in a place where people openly show their tattoos, and the dress code is a lot like yours (t-shirt and jeans is standard for everyone). I started with a nose piercing (think I was the first office-dweller to do this). I didn’t ask permission, but just felt it would be ok. After there were no negative reactions – other than the coworker who thought the piercing was dirt, ha! – I dyed my hair bright blue at the ends. There was another coworker in the office that did it first, but it wasn’t wide spread, and hers wasn’t as drastic. That got a bit more reaction, but was all very much in the vein of “that’s awesome” and not “WTF.” For a time, it inspired a lot of crazy colored hair. I’ve since lost the blue for budgetary and time reasons (takes FOR-EV-ER to get it done), but there’s still a good bit of it going around the company. My only caveat just in case is that we’re a very causual industry, and a very casual consumer products brand but I do have one of the more professional jobs (general counsel) and am definitely customer facing. I’d just say trust your gut!! And maybe ask around to a few trusted coworkers (but not HR) if you want a gut check?

        Reply
    6. NotaPirate

      I’m an anxious person but I would touch base with my boss. It’s worth the ick of “asking for permission” to not have any drama later. I’d do it super casually though, “Hey Boss, check out this awesome style I found online, our handbook doesn’t have anything on hair dye, would something like this be okay here?” and gauge his/her reaction.

      Reply
    7. CheeryO

      I think it would be fine to ask your boss. If you really don’t want to, maybe try testing the waters with something a little more subtle. We had a woman here come in with a few purple streaks, and people loved it so much that a bunch of us have talked about doing something similar. Of course culture plays a part – we aren’t really client facing, although we do interface with the public and a regulated community, and a lot of people in our industry are on the quirky side.

      Reply
    8. Red Reader

      I have naturally red waist length hair and am now going on eight years of dyeing it from shoulders down, usually varying combinations of green, blue and purple. For the last four years I’ve worked for a hospital where it was flat forbidden to have unnatural colors. I just put it up in a bun and people either couldn’t tell or “didn’t notice” – nobody ever said boo, any rate. They just changed our dress code in April to no longer veto colors or visible tattoos, which is nice.

      Reply
    9. Redundant Department of Redundancy

      I work in a large Gov organisation and have been lilac, pink, various shades of blue. I checked out dress policy and ours only said ‘Hair must be clear and tidy’. In other patient facing areas I knew crazy colours were okay, but I work in the more corporate section. I asked someone who had been here ages, and he said it should be fine.

      Honestly I find it makes me recognizable in a good way! I did wait about a year before dying it for the first time, and showed I was a high performer. Anyone who’s made a negative comment (which hasn’t been many) I reply with ‘I can do the job whatever my hair colour’ or a variant of that.

      One thing I do take care with is the rest of my wardrobe, it’s quite quirky by most standards (I have dresses with cat prints or doughnuts). However I go very conservative in terms of style. High neck, below knee, nothing too fitted. Everything coordinates with my hair so there aren’t any clashes.

      Reply
      1. Nervous Accountant

        Ooooo good point on dressing.

        I dress very feminine— skirts dresses full face makeup. So idk if it will all look too much. I don’t want to tone down my look.

        Reply
    10. HannahS

      If you dye the ends and they don’t like it, you can learn to do a hairstyle that has the ends of your hair tucked out of sight, if it’s long enough.

      Reply
      1. Anon - I've Recommended This Blog Too Much Lately..

        Gibson roll is an excellent option here – I did this the few times I wanted to hide the blue for mediation or in-person negotiations where I had to put my game face on.

        Reply
        1. HannahS

          Yep, I did gibson tucks and flipped-under braids a lot when I had blue hair from shoulders to waist. French twists would work, too. Even one of those faux-bob devices is an option.

          Reply
    11. ColorfulAnon

      I’m one of the more junior people at my (state government) job. I had my hair my natural color for interview and for a few months, then I was ready to dye it again. I touched base with a few slightly older people who had been with the agency for a few years about whether it would be appropriate or not – they in turn introduced me to some people who worked on a different floor who had great very bright hair! The only issue I ever had was an unexpected presentation to an outside company that I was asked to be part of last minute, but I was able to cover up the dyed ends in a bun. So not really asking ‘permission’, but I definitely did ask around to make sure it wouldn’t be totally out of place. It ended up being well received though :)

      Reply
    12. AnonNotmyNormalName

      I have a purple balayage in my hair and my hair is dyed quite a bit darker than my natural colour. I work in higher ed in a pretty conservative department and I’m in a senior position. I didn’t ask my bosses but I did mention what I was thinking to a couple of people and I was told it would be fine. That said, I generally dress up and on the conservative end of things. My direct bosses like it, some people across campus, not so much but they also haven’t come out and said anything. My hair also keeps the colour really well so it doesn’t ever look bad or too faded. I keep on top of it.

      Reply
    13. Jadelyn

      Does your company have a written dress code? I’d check that first. Also, how customer-facing is your role? They might take it differently if you’re regularly meeting CEOs of client companies, vs if you’re doing accounting in a back office somewhere.

      I’ve dyed the underside half of my hair blue – nobody batted an eyelash and I get compliments about it regularly, but then, we’re a very very casual company about that stuff. Dress code is casual, jeans okay every day, visible tattoos and piercings are fine as long as the tattoos aren’t actually vulgar (naked people or hate symbols, stuff like that). I also have a tongue ring and a visible tattoo on my neck, and my officemate has full sleeves on both arms – we had a loan officer before my time who had facial tattoos, and the clients loved her.

      If you do ask, I wouldn’t frame it as asking permission – and I wouldn’t even go into what you’re planning to do. I’d just ask “what’s our policy on unnatural hair colors?” and see what happens.

      Reply
    14. Nancie

      I have! I dyed my hair teal once, it went over very well. Especially since I (accidentally) got it exactly the same shade as our company’s official color.

      Recently my hair has been rose-gold, fire-engine red, apricot, and bright orange. The apricot was the closest to passing for a natural color. The only comments I’ve gotten about the color has been compliments.

      I wouldn’t feel odd about asking my boss if if it was ok, if I didn’t already know. I’d probably phrase it as “As far as you know, would it be a problem if I came in with purple hair tomorrow?”

      Reply
    15. krysb

      My hair has been pink all over, and for a while I had blue, green, and purple hair. My company is cool with funky color, tattoos, and piercings, despite being in the legal industry.

      Reply
    16. Not So Little My

      I dyed my hair hot pink when I was starting at a job where lots of people had wild colors, including the HR recruiter. But that job didn’t work out and I was searching again. I went with rose gold, partly because I liked it but also because I figured it would read a bit more subdued in an unknown situation. I started at a new place a couple months ago and am keeping the rose gold. But then I work in software in a progressive coastal city so that kind of thing is pretty common.

      Reply
    17. Thlayli

      When I was a part timer in college I had my hair in every colour and cut I could imagine. I’ve only done it once since I started my “career” type jobs and I asked my boss first if it would be a problem. it wouldn’t have been a good look long term in that role, but I wanted to do it temporarily for a holiday and needed to come into work with blue hair for a day befor and a day after to make the timing work out. He laughed and said no problem. If I’d been asking to do it long term he might have said yes, but it would have been a bad idea coz I was client facing with a lot of stuffy clients.

      Reply
    18. NaoNao

      I have had deep royal blue, pink, purple, and apricot. My office didn’t say anything to me, but I’m not customer facing and (I think this might be key) I was careful to style it very conventionally and dress very much on the business side of business casual. I also don’t have visible tattoos (I have them but they stay mostly covered) or facial piercings or other body mod that might “add up” to a very alternative look.

      Maybe test the waters with that washable hair paint first?

      Reply
  27. anon for this

    I hope this isn’t too stupid a question, but I’m a US citizen looking for jobs in the UK. What I’m seeing is that UK CVs usually include everything where US resumes don’t, but does everything really mean *everything*, like the month/two weeks I worked big box retail (separate instances) or other jobs that just turned out to be really bad fits (graduated into the recession, job history still hasn’t recovered)? Would there be a big problem if I just did what I usually do on my US resume and left off my first few years of work?

    Reply
    1. Rosemary7391

      I doubt it – I’m a UK person and I’ve got 2 or 3 short term/casual jobs I usually don’t include unless I want to show experience in something specific. I’m young enough to include my whole job history (since 15!) but so long as you list a reasonable amount I don’t think cutting it off would raise eyebrows.

      Reply
    2. Never Nicky

      I’m UK – I have grouped spells of temping/short term work from my first years of work together under headings such as “clerical/admin” and “retail/hospitality” before – just to show that I was doing SOMETHING after dropping out of Uni and it’s been absolutely fine. I’m now at an age where really I’m thinking those dates could prejudice me (I appear younger than I am, and age discrimination is a thing) and I should drop them…

      Reply
  28. Dotty

    So after a spate of bad reviews on Glassdoor, the PR & Marketing dept is planning to wait a few weeks before posting a series of fake reviews, this has been approved by the Deputy MD (one level down from the CEO).

    Is there anything I can do/suggest or do I just inwardly file this as another example of the company’s lack of integrity??

    In case it matters, I’m also a manager and would have given the place 3 stars, my experience has been pretty good but I understand where our 1-star reviewers are coming from….

    Reply
    1. Curious Cat

      NOOO! (this was my immediate reaction reading this).
      You may just need to inwardly file this away and keep notes for whenever you want to leave. They should definitely be making an effort to be a better company off what people are saying in the bad reviews. Also candidates can usually tell when there are bad reviews and then glowing positive 5-stars. It’s glaringly obvious and will turn off a lot of people. This one’s on your company and not your problem.

      Reply
      1. Antilles

        Also candidates can usually tell when there are bad reviews and then glowing positive 5-stars.
        Yeah. As long as the candidate does more than just glance at the average, it usually becomes pretty clear, pretty fast. Especially since the poor reviews usually have specific details whereas the 5-star reviews typically just gush about the company in general.

        Reply
    2. ThisIsMyNewUserName

      Post your own!!! I’d wait until after the fake ones are posted, and then flat-out call them on it. “Just so everyone knows, the posts from PersonA, PersonQ, and PersonZ are fake – the company’s PR/Marketing department wanted to post them in response to some bad reviews. As a manager (or you can say, as someone with inside knowledge or whatever), I would give the place 3 stars, but I understand where the 1-star reviews are coming from.”

      Reply
    3. gecko

      Yeesh…well I think Glassdoor customer service would be interested in this. You could ask them about anonymity policies as well. If you send them your work IP (or send the message from work) hopefully they should be able to tell when someone from your office is the one posting the fake review.

      Reply
    4. Jiji the Cat

      I strongly suspect my company has done this… I don’t have confirmation, but our most recent reviews were “written” by our “interns” but mention things that our interns wouldn’t have known, like heaps of praise for our retirement and health insurance plans.

      Reply
    5. BRR

      My not helpful answer, suggest fixing the issues people brought up.

      Depending on the situation, could you point out that it violates glassdoor’s Terms? If that would just punish you I would skip it and let Glassdoor know (I’m assuming they have a way to be contacted) and let them know your company is planning on posting fake reviews.

      Reply
    6. Never Nicky

      NOOOO!

      I’m PR/Comms in my organisation, and if that was suggested I’d be closing it down so fast that there’d be scorch marks in the carpets. And if that didn’t work, my CV would be going round as soon as I could type it.

      I’m really surprised that PR is going for that – certainly the professional bodies in the UK for PR and Marketing have codes of ethics that we are expected to uphold, and this would be a breach. It’s fine to put the best light on a story, but to outright fake – no, nope, nopeity nope.

      Reply
    7. Anonymous Susan

      My company does this. I hate it so much, it’s cringey and embarrassing and obvious. That department is known to be sleazy AF.

      Reply
    8. Dotty

      Thanks all!

      I thought maybe they’d try to take something from the reviews – despite being 1 and 2 stars there’s lots of constructive feedback with clear things in common between the reviews – but they’re not interested in fixing.

      But I will contact Glassdoor and I also saw the Ratings Trend option so you can see spikes in ratings. I’m pretty tempted to write one myself.

      Reply
    9. MissDisplaced

      This is terrible. It shows a terrible lack of integrity. If I knew about it would would post a review about the fake reviews. Glassdoor and Indeed have a place for the company to RESPOND to poor reviews. That is what your PR department should be thinking about and doing, not posting fakes.

      Reply
    10. Traffic_Spiral

      I’d say “just for the record, I’m against this, as it will probably be discovered as fake and make us look worse – maybe even make us go viral.” Hopefully, that makes them see the light. If not, be ready to report.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        You could always try the “peel off the label and re-label it in Sharpie as “breast milk” and see if that stops them” tactic.

        (seriously though, I sympathize. I hate creamer thievery with a blazing passion. If you asked, I’d be happy to let you have some once in awhile, but don’t just take it, dammit!)

        Reply
    1. HigherEdPerson

      This might need to be an all-company ANGRY RANT email.

      You know, so that someone else can post about it on here for our enjoyment ;-)

      Reply
      1. Curious Cat

        Ha! Oh man, I can’t even imagine sending out an all-staff email venting about the use of a coffee machine…although I did also post about it for all strangers on the interwebs to see, so who knows ;) Just needed to put it out into the universe.

        Reply
    2. SoCalHR

      So here’s the thing… part of me thinks it makes sense to leave the used on in there so people are transporting them super hot and drippy to the trash can. Essentially, everyone is still throwing one used cup away, it just happens to be from the person before them and not theirs when they are done. Since there’s no germ-factor, I don’t see how this is a problem. But there’s two camps on this and it sounds like you’re in the other one Cat :-)

      Reply
      1. Curious Cat

        Trueeee this is a super fair point. I mean, hey, in the grand-scheme of things this is super unimportant and just a minor daily annoyance for me xD

        Reply
        1. Lily Rowan

          I’ve never been so grateful that our machines automatically dump the used cup into a bin that only has to be emptied every so often.

          Reply
      2. Jadelyn

        That’s where I come down – I don’t toss the cup immediately after making my coffee bc I don’t want to burn my fingers and leave coffee ground dribbles between the machine and the trash bin. I throw away the cup from the person before me, since it’s had time to cool off and dry out, and I leave mine for the next person. Nobody’s ever said anything.

        Reply
    3. Environmental Compliance

      You could make a whole series of those. I’ll contribute If The Bottles Are Not Labeled With Your Lab Name, What In The Fresh Hell Made You Think It Was Okay To Move Them To Your Lab Fridge From The Sample Fridge?

      Or, the short title of “How EC Terrified A Lab Technician”, or perhaps “If It Ain’t Yours, Don’t Touch It.”

      Reply
        1. Former Admin Turned Project Manager

          May I add “Your Paper Jam Will Not Clear Itself” and “Stop Squatting in the Conference Rooms”? (We have huddle rooms for folks who want the extra privacy or space, but there is one guy who I’ve had to kick out the past four times I’ve reserved the conference room.)

          Reply
          1. Jadelyn

            I can contribute “You Do Realize That You Have Access To Your Pay Statements Yourself, Right? Please Stop Asking Me To Give Them To You.” With sub-chapters on changing one’s address, phone number, and emergency contacts, all of which are self-service items!!!

            Reply
          2. Bowl of Oranges

            I don’t know why my brain initially jumped to this, but I thought you meant doing squats in the conference room for a minute–that you had to actually tell him to stop doing squats so you could meet.

            Reply
    4. Sunshine

      I know that putting up signs is always a fraught thing, but as an infrequent Keurig user who forgets to take out her used pods 100% of the time (all of the <10 times per year I use a Keurig), I would look at such a sign as a helpful reminder to operators.

      OTOH, I definitely don’t work at your office, so your sign will not help me improve and may ruffle feathers that are not mine. So.

      Reply
      1. Curious Cat

        Ahh yeah I always seem to find signs as coming across a bit passive aggressive. This def. isn’t a big enough deal for signage, I just needed to vent about it to strangers on the internet

        Reply
    5. Red Reader

      My coffee-drinking housemates both (a) complain about each other leaving the cup in the machine and (b) leave their own cups in the machine. The one who uses the machine for hot water for tea, on the other hand, doesn’t complain, but definitely checks before she teas.

      Reply
    6. CAA

      This might be a company culture thing. When I worked at a place that had Keurigs, the expectation was that you should leave the used K-cup there so as not to drip coffee all over the counter or floor on the way to the trash can and the next person would throw it away. Keurigs were pretty new then, so we actually had illustrated directions on the wall that started with removing the previous K-cup.

      Reply
    7. LCL

      I actually thought about this and analyzed the process that is going on, because part of my job is to analyze mistakes. So I think it’s like this: Getting a cup of coffee pre Keurig machines was the sequence of pour coffee-dose coffee with cream and sugar-wipe up spills and walk away with coffee. The state of the machine isn’t considered until it is time to make a new pot. Getting a cup of coffee with Keurig is put pod in machine-now you’ve already done something with the machine so your ‘brain’ checks that off as done-program machine, now you have done two separate steps with the machine-dose coffee with cream and sugar, walk away with coffee. Not so fast-there is a new, third step involving the machine-remove the old pod.
      It has hard because we are learning a different process. The end result is the same-a cup of nectar. All I can do is keep checking my own behavior. And yeah, I still sometimes forget even though I work at remembering. I think Keurig could make this easier by adding a reminder tone to their machines.

      Reply
    8. Jaid_Diah

      As long as you remember to use it to begin with.

      Yes. Yes, I’ve forgotten to put the K-cup in BEFORE starting the water, resulting in a cup of not-so delicious creamy water.

      Fortunately, I have instant coffee too.

      Reply
  29. Environmental Compliance

    I can’t concentrate well today, so I’m taking advantage of my fidgits and cleaning out the file room attached to my office. I’ve counted 23 spiders so far and a multitude of spider babies that I’ve flushed out. Also tons of files and random handwritten notebooks from the 80’s. But by the time I’m done, there’ll be actual organization taking place instead of finding a place to shove the paperwork. Possibly also plants.

    Hubs gave his notice last Friday, and upper management walked him out Wednesday, so I guess now we can get a jump start on getting preapproved for a house loan & talking to realtors, since he has nothing else to do until New Job starts. Apparently Old Job decided that allowing him to finish out his 2 weeks is “bad for morale”. Funnily enough, in the department with a 95% rate of turnover in the past 9-12 months, the remaining staff (all younger engineers) are also looking right now, and have decided that if now Company is walking you out when you give notice, they won’t give 2 weeks, since a few of them can’t lose that paycheck.

    Reply
    1. The Ginger Ginger

      Um, unrelated-ish, but reading about your spiders just reminded me that my cousin was bit by a brown recluse over the weekend and IT IS BAD, so I just got the full on shudders reading your post. What I’m really trying to say is…be careful!!

      Reply
      1. Environmental Compliance

        I’ve been on the lookout for recluses (we do get those little buggers here) and for rusty metal. There’s some weird…goopy…. brown stuff that I found gloves to remove too. Thankfully, now I’m moving the actual files and finding some hilariously dated training texts. Awful fonts, weird cartoon characters, and all!

        The spiders that got squashed so far are the generic cellar spiders – no scary ones yet!

        Reply
        1. Never Nicky

          Be careful with the cellar spiders – some one I know turned out to be allergic to their bites and it was nasty…

          Reply
    2. Emily S.

      Good luck with your husband’s new job!

      And good on your for doing some organizing. I get so much pleasure from cleaning out closets/storage areas/etc. Planning to tackle my bedroom closet this weekend. Too much unused stuff in there!

      Reply
      1. Environmental Compliance

        He’s so excited for it – just currently bored out of his mind. But not bored enough for the honey do list, lol….

        I love organizing when it’s not my bedroom. I don’t know what it is about clothing, but I much prefer organizing bathrooms, or filing cabinets, or laboratories. In college, the year I graduated they were working on preparing the entire science wing (it was a small college) to get ripped down and rebuilt that summer. I volunteered to inventory and consolidate the biology section. Some of the other Fellows told me they felt bad for me to get it, but I had a blast doing it. Found the goofiest stuff squirreled away in a closet by a professor that hadn’t been there in at least 20 years!

        Reply
          1. Environmental Compliance

            Random petri plates filled with mold, ceramic scent diffusers for deer research, preserved animal specimens, random skeleton/parts of skeletons, unlabeled or poorly labeled chemicals, preserved shelf mushrooms, handwritten notes on exam modifications, pinned out insects… I’m sure there was more, but that’s what I remember off the top of my head. The preserved animal specimens did spook me, since the lighting wasn’t great in the closet, and I had moved some stuff shoved in front of them to have a fetal pig with two heads staring at me.

            Reply
  30. T3k

    So, I accepted a seasonal position for a a customer support position (think call center but no phones) that’s vaguely within the same industry I want to be in, but obviously not what I want to do long term (very low pay, long unpredictable hours, etc.). I’m in the middle of an interview with a preferred job (talked to last week) but haven’t heard back yet (their timeline was to email everyone this week if they’d be moving forward or not). I’m struggling if and/or how to let the latter know I’m still interested but I’ve now started what I view as a temporary job so it may be difficult to get ahold of me. Or should I even bother and just wait to send a follow up email next week if I
    still haven’t heard anything? (oh, and reason I accepted was I was going nearly 5 months now with no job since last contract ended).

    Reply
    1. Thlayli

      Don’t tell them about the temporary job. If anything just drop them a line letting them know to email instead of call.

      Reply
  31. Rezia

    I’m trying to drink more water, and one consequence is that I go to the bathroom a LOT, maybe once every 1.5 hours. I’m self conscious about getting up from my desk so much. Nobody’s commented on it but I worry that people notice. Has anyone else run into this problem or have advice on this?

    Reply
    1. Never

      Not a direct answer to your question, but if you are going to the bathroom every 1.5 hours, you are drinking too much. Please just trust your body and drink to thirst.

      Signed, a person working on urinary health research projects with doctors in the field.

      Reply
        1. Tris Prior

          Ditto. More often if I’m drinking more water to keep myself from snacking.

          How often is one supposed to pee, ideally?

          Reply
      1. Emily S.

        +1
        In the past, I’ve been told that my blood sodium level was too low, and it turned out to be partly from drinking too much water (I was drinking a LOT at the time, and have since reduced it).

        Reply
      2. Friday afternoon fever

        Hello! That is an unhelpful generalization. I too pee at least once every 1.5 hours, if not more, even if I don’t drink a lot of water. I have been tested by doctors! It’s not a problem! It’s just me! That doesn’t mean one can’t drink too much water, for sure, but peeing at x frequency does not have to be an indicator that anything’s wrong. Please just trust my body when it says I have to pee very frequently.

        Rezia—nobody has ever said anything to me. I doubt they’re thinking about it. If so, just brush it off with an “oh, I’ve been drinking a lot of water recently!” If anyone brings it up a second time…. they are weird and that’s inappropriate.

        Reply
          1. Jennifer Thneed

            Wow, all people are saying is “generalizations aren’t helpful”. Which is true, because there is so much variation among humans. It *is* useful to know that a person can drink too much water if they work at it.

            Reply
            1. Rezia

              I’m drinking, I’d guess, 8-9 glasses a day but I am drinking most of that during work hours.
              Never, thanks for your concern. Does that still sound like too much water to you?
              I’ve been told by my doc to drink more water during the summer because my blood pressure is low and will drop even more when I’m dehydrated, so that’s where this is coming from.

              Reply
      3. NaoNao

        So there is absolutely no variation allowing for gender, age, diet, previous infections, having given birth, consuming high sodium items, diuretics like coffee, other conditions, etc? Everyone on earth is absolutely drinking “too much” if they’re going to the bathroom every couple hours? That seems…a little sweeping of a generalization!

        I have days where I’m in the bathroom every couple hours and I have days where I go twice in a workday. I don’t think there’s a genuine downside to drinking enough to have to go every 1.5 hours.

        According to WebMd:

        “Most people urinate between six and eight times a day. But if you’re drinking plenty, it’s not abnormal to go as many as 10 times a day. You may also pee more often if you’re taking certain medications, like diuretics for high blood pressure.”

        By my math, 10 times a day is about every 1.5 hours assuming the average person is up and awake for 16 hours.

        Reply
    2. MegPie

      I don’t think people notice our movements around the office nearly as much as we think they do. I don’t think once every hour and a half is too often at all. I get up at least that often to stretch my legs or just get a change of scenery. Just don’t announce where you’re going.

      Reply
    3. Xarcady

      I have the same issue. And from where I sit, I have to walk by the entire department, including my supervisor and her supervisor to get to the rest room.

      I have no advice, but lots of sympathy.

      Reply
    4. Barbaric Yawp

      I’m with you, occasionally I wonder if it raises anyone else’s eyebrows. But to be fair, if they’re paying that much attention to your bathroom habits, they must not have a lot of work to do.

      Besides, I always heard it was a good idea to get away from your desk/computer to give your eyes a break every now and then anyway.

      Reply
    5. Namast'ay in Bed

      I don’t think any one will notice, I know I definitely don’t notice the comings and goings of my coworkers. And unless the bathroom is right next to someone’s desk, there are multitudes of reasons why someone may be getting up every hour and a half (which isn’t even that often), so even if they did see you getting up, they’re probably not immediately thinking “wow they pee a lot”. You could be going to the printer, getting a drink of water, walking to a meeting, going to talk with a someone at their desk, or just stretching their legs. You’re probably golden!

      Also, congrats on drinking more water, I’ve been trying to do that but it definitely does not come naturally to me!

      Reply
    6. Environmental Compliance

      Yeah, I try to drink plenty of water too, since I can’t always seem to get the signals lined up properly from my body. I also have a long history of UTIs, so I get a little paranoid about holding anything.

      Anyway – I also get up and move around probably every 90 minutes or so. There’s two bathrooms near enough to me that I can alternate them so it’s not so obvious that it’s a bathroom break. I truly also think the average individual doesn’t pay any attention or care.

      Reply
    7. Rosemary7391

      I can’t even sit still that long! Between cups of tea, bathroom visits and any other excuse to wander I’m up at least once an hour. People don’t care provided they don’t have to move to let you past.

      Reply
    8. SoCalHR

      Its healthy to get up and walk around frequently anyway (#sittingisthenewsmoking) so it would be good for you to get up that often anyway, even if its just a stretch break. I think you’re probably fine.

      Reply
    9. blink14

      General recommendations are to get up from your desk every 30-60 minutes for better health. If anyone asks, just say you’re stretching your legs or something to that effect.

      Reply
    10. whistle

      I go to the bathroom every half hour in the morning when I am still drinking coffee. No one has ever commented on it. I doubt most people notice, and I wouldn’t worry about it as long as you are generally productive.

      Reply
    11. Sandman

      I don’t have advice, but share your concern. Anything I drink comes right through me and I have to keep myself mildly dehydrated or I’ll do the same. Every thirty minutes isn’t crazy for me if I have OJ in the morning.

      Reply
    12. Lumen

      I seriously doubt anyone is even noticing. Trust that the people who matter will be more focused on their work than on you. Hopefully!

      Reply
    13. Well-Hydrated

      yeah, people might notice, but your body, your business. I have the same issue, and it’s become a little bit of a joke with people who know me well (my team). Often they comment that they, too, should be drinking more water, so I don’t think they see it as a bad thing. And when one of my teammates was actively trying to drink more water, she openly acknowledged that was why she was getting antsy if a meeting ran long. Now that I’m thinking of it, I am also realizing I’m in an environment where it’s almost inevitable that people have water bottles or cups in meetings, so it might be becoming the norm. That said, I’ve had to be conscious of my calendar and when I might have a long meeting with senior management, say. I just cut my water intake before and during the meeting.

      Reply
    14. Jennifer Thneed

      I think that once every 90 minutes is only excessive if you’re in a job where you’re supposed to wait for your break before you’re allowed to use the bathroom.

      I also doubt that anyone is watching or caring, but if they are: “I’m trying to drink more water and you know what happens then”. Or “I’m trying to get up and walk around more often, so I’m drinking more water.”

      It really is true that we shouldn’t sit for hours and hours without getting up and moving around. It’s bad for us in so many ways.

      Reply
    15. Lucille2

      Yes, and someone actually did remark that I leave my desk a lot. I work in an open office, so there is no such thing as privacy. I responded that I drink a lot of water. And he never mentioned it again. This guy in particular was socially awkward and very chatty. Most people either don’t notice or have the decency not to mention the frequency someone uses the bathroom because that’s just weird.

      Reply
    16. Small but Fierce

      I can only commiserate as I also use the restroom every hour to hour and a half. I also typically refill my water at that time. I’m never actually thirsty, but it keeps me from getting hungry and an excuse to walk around, so I don’t think there’s much harm in it. As others have said, they’re probably not as aware of your movements as you would think.

      Reply
  32. want to walk to work

    I’m not “actively” looking for a job – I like mine for the most part, I’ve got a lot of autonomy, the benefits are fantastic, pay could be better, but I’m good and it and well respected – but I found an opening in my field that’s close to a step-down in responsibilities, pays the same, and is only 1 mile from my house. I’m interested in applying just because it’s so convenient to where I live – I’d save 1.5 – 2 hours a day from my commute! – but the job sounds “meh”. Should I apply just to check it out and hear what they have to say/see if it sounds like there’s promotional possibilities in the future, etc? or should I only apply if I’m actually interested in THAT particular job?

    Reply
    1. Namast'ay in Bed

      I don’t think it hurts to apply to learn more! Interviews are just as much for you as they are for the company, so if you talk with them and don’t end up liking what you hear, that’s perfectly fine and how the process should operate.

      Reply
    2. The Ginger Ginger

      I’d at least apply to check it out more. 1.5 – 2 hours a day is nothing to sneeze at, and in my experience, can have serious positive impact on your quality of life.

      Reply
  33. Anonymous Cowpath Paver

    So I posted last week about the Restructuring. My user name is a reference to “paving the cowpath” – superficial updates that don’t change the underlying process.

    I want to upgrade my technical skills and fast. Most of my job is working with Excel spreadsheets and I feel like much of it can be automated. I have some macros but need to re-learn VBA scripting – or is that even worthwhile anymore?

    I’ve come to realize that while my manager is a good person, she is set in her ways from a 30-year career and her resistance to change has put my whole team behind the 8 ball. I’m been here for 7 years and we only went paperless 3 years ago. We just kept all the same processes just on a shared drive instead of on paper.

    There’s another manager who is set to retire in a year or two who is running the “bots” that are automating a lot of tasks. Great-grandboss who is running the restructure says there will be a lot of opportunities managing the bots and handling exceptions (which are frequent). How should I approach her about getting in the pipeline? Much of her team was laid off a few months ago so I don’t want to look tone deaf about that

    Reply
    1. J.B.

      Do you want to stay where you are or build skills for another move? I don’t do VBA myself but since macros can be recorded am not sure what the current value is. Depending on what you do with those spreadsheets, they might be suited to a bigger software package. You could spend some time working with Power BI and learn some R. Power BI has a query tool like the one in excel. (I prefer other software packages but desktop Power BI is free and what you learn there could well be transferred.)

      Not free, but Lynda has some really good tutorials on a bunch of stuff.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        I can’t speak to the rest of this, but I can tell you that VBA is still relevant, at least in part because recorded macros are enormous and unwieldy. Excel records what you do, sure, but then the code it spits out for it is awful – I swear, it’s like Excel is getting paid by the word for that code. I initially recorded a macro for cleanup on a canned report that I pulled every week, then decided to learn some VBA by starting with that code and editing it. By the time I was done streamlining the code, I’d cut the number of commands in half or something similarly ridiculous. It was wild.

        If you use macros more than once in a blue moon, it is almost certainly worth the time spent to learn a bit of VBA code so you don’t have to rely on recorded macros – especially if the macros you need are long or complex, because it can bog Excel down if you try to run a recorded macro that’s bloated all to hell. Even if all you do is record a macro, then optimize the recorded code, it’s still better than going off of pure recorded macros.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous Cowpath Paver

          Thanks! That’s good to know. Yeah I’ve been using recorded macros and trying to edit them – now I know why that’s a losing battle. Better to learn to code them cleanly and get them to do what I want them to do.

          Reply
  34. Barbaric Yawp

    Hi everyone! TLDR: anyone move from grant-writing/fundraising to a totally different (e.g. for-profit) field with success?

    I can’t tell if I’m just burnt out or if it’s time for a career change. I’ve been in non-profits and fundraising since college (7+ years ago now), and while it’s been personally fulfilling, I’m at a point in my life where I’m a little anxious to be living paycheck to paycheck when I’m a single woman in a relatively expensive metro area at a non-profit whose main funder has been slashing our budget consistently the last few fiscal years (Layoffs abound, morale is low to say the least). There’s not a lot of support at the board or senior management level for fundraising and my department is….just me, expected to bring in these big dollar amounts, and that along with many other symptoms of dysfunction have me re-thinking things. Not just my future at this place, but in this field in general. I feel like I’m okay at it, knowledgeable about industry trends, etc. but my heart just isn’t in it anymore, and I’m sure it shows…

    So – has anyone moved on from a grant writing role to something else? I know no workplace is perfect but I feel like I’m underpaid and undervalued, and I’m not sure how or where to transition.

    Reply
    1. DCGirl

      Yes! I worked as a fund raiser for 15 years before transitioning to the for-profit section. My running job during those 15 years was that I didn’t aspire to ever be able to buy a new car; I simply hoped one day to be able to buy a used car during the same decade in which it was manufactured.

      Anyhow, I answered a blind ad for a proposal writer position, and it turned out to be at a Big Five (at the time) accounting firm doing proposals for audit services. I’m not a senior proposal manager at a government contractor in the DC area. You could also look for technical writer positions as well.

      Reply
      1. Barbaric Yawp

        OMG the car thing haha, yes! I’m resigning myself to a future of “Grandma only drove this to the grocery store and doctor’s appointments” selection of the lot.

        That’s really great to know the proposal writing skills transferred so well in a different setting! I’ve been looking in postings along that vein, proposal and technical writing. My current org offers pretty decent benefits (I think that’s how they’ve kept most of us, tbh) but I feel like a for-profit would offer comparable ones. Time to stop waffling and make some moves lol.

        Anyway, glad to hear it worked out for a (former) fellow fundraiser! Thanks, DC!

        Reply
    2. Lily Rowan

      I’ve stayed in fundraising over the past 20+ years, but have changed jobs a fair amount and moved to different kinds of organizations, and I make a good salary now as a manager in higher ed. What I’ve learned about myself is that I actually am happier at places that are less mission-driven. Obviously, it’s important that I think we’re doing good and important work, but working at the places where everyone is supposed to sacrifice themselves for The Cause burned me out.

      So I’m not saying don’t look to move to the for-profit world, but you could also think about if there are other kinds of nonprofit jobs that might be better for you.

      Reply
    3. Alexia

      Have you considered capture and bid or technical proposal writing for a for-profit firm? I am in a similar place in that I am not pleased with my salary in relation to the amount of funding I bring in and I have realized that, for a similar amount of stress and extra hours, I can make much more money than I do. I want to move into the business development side of grants in either a for-profit or nonprofit context and have a goal to make that happen by the end of next year. With that in mind, I’ve been doing a lot of research about the kinds of jobs that are available for my industry (where I have the technical knowledge), certifications that are available, etc. etc.

      Reply
    4. Thlayli

      I did a PhD and lectured part time during it. I did a fair bit of applying for funding / grants etc as part of that. I then moved into an engineering consultancy and as part of that I did a fair bit of bid work – applying for engineering projects basically. It’s very similar to grant and funding applications so you could probably transition into that.

      There are lots of businesses that have to do bid work – whatever industry you are in might have some businesses that need bid writers. Could be called something like marketing though depending on the industry – so look into the terminology first so you understand the jobs you are applying for.

      Good luck!

      Reply
    5. JR

      You might also look at fundraising strategy consulting, if you like the work and working with nonprofits and are mostly looking for a change due to pay and instability.

      Reply
  35. MegPie

    I dated someone who ended up being my client (I knew him from being in my industry but we hadn’t officially worked together until after we started dating). It ended pretty amicably but lately I have been getting a lot of requests to speak and he is ALWAYS either on the same panel or at the same event. I also still do work for him. It was sort of a painful breakup for me, not in the sense that he did anything wrong, just in the sense that I still care about him a lot and I’m having a hard time getting over it when I see him all the time. Any advice for how to maintain distance? I’m not going to decline these speaking opportunities because they are very good for my career. And I’m not in a position to decline work from him (my CEO knows about this and has told me so).

    Reply
    1. Holly

      All I can suggest is maybe meditation/mindfulness? So you can train yourself in calming down/being mentally “distant” even though you have to work with him.

      Reply
    2. Chaordic One

      This can be hard. I’ve been in the same situation with an ex-boyfriend, and although I haven’t had to work with him (so far), we travel in the same social and business circles and I run into him from time to time. I try to be friendly and gracious and social and make small talk with my ex and his new spouse. “Hi, how are you? What are you doing?” Those kinds of things. Nothing too deep or personal. I try to treat him like a mere acquaintance. I continue to respect him and the work he does. I comfort myself knowing that he seems happy (without me) and he’s probably better off than being unhappy with me.

      Reply
    3. Denise

      Imagine what it will be like to see him ten years from now when both your lives have changed and you’ve moved on. Prtetsnd thishas happened and act the way you think you would then. Sometimes we can trick ourselves into moving on. Also consider if you can separate missing and caring for him from grieving for what you hoped and thought you had with him, the future you were dreaming of. Because maybe you can have that future with someone else someday. It’s a head thought but if you can entertain it you can move on a little better.

      Reply
  36. Free Meerkats

    Feeding off the vocal fry conversation last week, https://www.askamanager.org/2018/08/open-thread-august-3-4-2018.html#comment-2094967
    At what point do you tell someone their vocal (for want of a better term) habit is unprofessional? The fry that was discussed? Valley girl? Uptalk? LOL speak? Text language? Baby talk? Toon voices? (I can do a credible Mickey Mouse, and carry on complete conversations in it.) Using nothing but TLAs and jargon? Klingon? Tolkien Sindarin? Pig Latin?

    All of those can convey the information needed, we should accept them all in the workplace, right?

    Reply
    1. Washi

      Lolspeak feels different than the others to me because it’s different vocabulary, which generally people have complete control over whether or not they use.(Same with the other “languages” you mention, and also baby talk.)
      For the others like upspeak and vocal fry, if it’s a peer or a supervisor, I would go the route of focusing on the information and reminding myself that there’s no one right way to speak, and that it’s all rules that people made up. For a close friend or a direct report, if their speaking style was really distracting and I was pretty sure it was changeable, I might talk to them about how they are most likely being perceived based on that style so that if they would like to continue doing it, it’s at least a conscious decision with the pros and cons in mind (this is definitely for upspeak, vocal fry would have to be very…dramatic for me to mention it.)

      Reply
      1. RVA Cat

        This. Let’s not penalize people as “unprofessional” for their normal way of speaking – like vocal fry and uptalk being looked down on because it skews young and female. I’d put it in a close category to African American Vernacular English (AAVE) as the casual speech patterns of a protected class.

        Reply
    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      I have a thing about voices, probably because I’ve worked so hard on mine. (Theater kid, classical singer, laryngitis issues in college that sent me to a speech therapist.) I don’t generally bring up people’s tones unless they’re outward-facing, like when they present. I used to present a lot, and I was working with some junior members of my team on their presentation skills, and I would bring up vocal tics like uptalk or excessive vocal fry in that context. Sometimes I would bring it up when I heard them talking to the people we supported in different departments, in the vein of helping them sound more confident. They trusted me and it worked out well. But in the course of everyday business, I usually let vocal tics slide. I know someone who uses this really nasal voice that drives me insane, but just because it annoys me doesn’t mean it’s wrong or bad, so I let it go.

      The actual language used would be a different story, I think, mostly because it becomes a problem when information isn’t properly conveyed. If I don’t understand your email because it’s full of LOLspeak, I might ask you to clarify and please use whole words. And Pig Latin? I’m not taking the time to decipher that, so I would certainly tell someone they need to use more standard language.

      Reply
    3. Kat in VA

      I dunno. I have a relatively rare vocal disorder called spasmodic dysphonia which manifests in vocal fry, words cutting off abruptly, burring, stuttering, and outright honking like a damn goose. It’s neurological and there’s nothing I can do for it, I have dysphagia so Botox is right out, I can’t have the surgeries because a surgeon severed my laryngeal nerve on the left during a spinal fusion.

      I generally bring it right up front with folks that I have a speech impediment (folks react better to that than “speech disorder”) but I’d be baffled and upset if someone told me I had to change the way I spoke to be more professional because I literally CAN’T.

      I realize my case is somewhat unusual but I figured I’d throw that out there. Someone who didn’t know me would possibly think I’m doing these things as an affectation, when in reality, there’s nothing I can do about it.

      Reply
      1. Curious Cat

        To add in on this side of things – my cousin has had a vocal disorder since birth that causes very bad lisping and she also still sounds very much like a child, despite being an adult woman. She did speech therapy all growing up, but it’s just her voice and there’s nothing she can do about it! I’m unsure of her experiences in the office, but I hope people don’t think she’s doing it as an odd habit!

        Reply
      2. Tau

        +1 from another member Team Speech Disorder. I have a long and complicated history with speech therapy and have some pretty radical opinions about it these days. As a consequence I am not keen on asking people to change how they speak and how their voices work, because it was made pretty clear to me growing up that the way I spoke wasn’t acceptable and that did a lot of damage in a lot of ways.

        Reply
    4. Merida Ann

      If you are that person’s manager and it is having a direct impact on their work (as in, they are giving presentations and their style of speaking is difficult to understand) you may be able to bring it up.

      If you are a peer, you *maybe* can mention that you are having a difficult time understanding them (if you really are) and suggest alternative ways of communication that would make it easier for you to understand.

      If you absolutely know for a fact that this is something they are doing on purpose (the Mickey Mouse voice or fictional languages, for example) because they think it’s funny or whatever, you can mention that you find it distracting and ask if they could please avoid speaking that way to you at work.

      In all other instances, I would say that you need to treat other peoples’ ways of speaking as if it was an accent. Presumably, you wouldn’t ask your coworker from Texas or New York or London to change their accents, even if you found it distracting, so treat vocal fry or “valley girl” or whatever the same way. It’s how they talk. They have not hired you to be their vocal coach. Leave them alone.

      I have one friend whose voice is very high-pitched, in the way that many people would use for baby talk (but she still uses a full vocabulary and isn’t condescending in her words, it’s just this pitch). I would never in a million years say anything to her about it – it’s her voice. She always talks like that, and the only thing that saying anything would do is make her feel poorly about speaking in front of me at all. It doesn’t impact whether or not I can understand her, so it’s not actually a problem, even if I would find a different tone of voice more pleasant to hear. Same with one of the employees at a store I frequent a lot, who has a very nasally voice, and one of my coworkers who often laughs in a very wheezing, breathy sort of way that puts my hair on end. They aren’t my favorite things to hear, but it’s not affecting their actual jobs in any way, so I would never actually say anything about it.

      Assume that it’s a way of speaking like an accent or regional dialect, chalk up your personal annoyance to cultural/regional differences and let it go. It’s not something you need to fix.

      Reply
    5. Sylvan

      I try to leave people alone about their speech unless I really can’t understand them. It feels condescending to tell an adult how to talk. If what they’re doing seems pretty easy to change (like dropping the volume of their voice towards the end of each sentence), I’ll say something after the second or third time I’ve asked them to repeat themselves.

      Reply
    6. Chaordic One

      Before “vocal fry” was a thing, I used to frequently run into a variation of it in older women who had smoked a lot and the smoking had probably affected their voices. (Strangely, many of these women, but not all, were Jewish.) They were all very professional workers who were respected in their workplaces and I would never have thought to say anything about it to them. I suppose that I don’t find it in older workers now, because so many people have quit smoking or don’t start to begin with.

      Even one of our former presidents had a bit of vocal fry (although Jay Pharoah did exaggerate it for comic effect).

      Reply
      1. only acting normal

        Vocal fry is also a common feature of upper class English men’s speech (those with Received Pronunciation (RP) accents). Funnily enough it isn’t considered a problem for them, probably because they are not young women.

        Reply
  37. Xarcady

    How do you cope when you have a coworker you don’t like at first sight?

    There’s a new member of our department, and something about her just makes me not like her.

    There is nothing bad that I know about her. I just feel as if she is not to be trusted. In many ways, she reminds me of Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series.

    Fortunately, she’s not on my team, so while our work does coincide occasionally, it isn’t very often. I have no idea why I feel this way about her. It’s irrational. And yet I really don’t trust her.

    How do you prevent that from showing through in your interactions with someone?

    Reply
    1. SoCalHR

      Even if you had a very valid reason to not like her (which is sounds like you don’t…yet, haha), you still have to treat her with the same respect and professionalism as everyone else. Sure you may not be chummy with her, but there really is a baseline treatment of people that is required despite personal feelings (exceptions would be if she slept with your husband or kicked your puppy or something).

      I have a coworker like that, knew from the first second not to trust her and my gut ended up being right – so its not that your gut may be wrong. I still treat her the same, despite her not treating me with the basic respect I should be shown (as a coworker and as HR). Its a valuable skill to hone.

      Reply
    2. Anon (this time)

      The best way I’ve found to maintain professional and congenial relationships with coworkers who either a) give me such bad vibes that I want to run screaming or b) have actively treated me poorly is to detach, detach, detach. I do not invest in any conversation with them, and I keep our contact fairly limited as much as I am able.

      I think narcissistic abuse all my life weirdly trained me how to present a smiling face to someone I know is Not Safe for me, which has sadly come in handy in the workplace.

      Reply
    3. Pollygrammer

      Try really hard to examine why you feel this way. A boss once told me–cheerfully!–that she had immediately disliked a new hire and realized this was because the new hire reminded her of somebody she hated. She presented this as if it was totally reasonable and she didn’t intend to try to overcome it.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        I had a student once that I took an instant hate to and fear of. Couldn’t figure it out but he gave me the screaming heebie jeebies. Eventually I figured out that he reminded me of a guy that had assaulted me when I was a teenager. Once I figured that out, suddenly my hated and fear evaporated.

        However, I don’t want to imply that you should ignore your feelings. This coworker may well not be trustworthy. If you can’t figure out the reason you don’t trust her, then remember trust is earned not given. You don’t have to trust her, like her or be friendly to her. You have to be polite to her and professional in your dealings with her, that’s all.

        Reply
    4. NicoleK

      Been there, done that. It will be hard especially since your gut reaction is so strong. Try to assume she’s coming from a place of good intent. Be professional. That’s the best advice i can give.

      Reply
    5. Lora

      Pretend she is a customer at Xarcady’s Burger Joint. You don’t have to like her, you have to be polite and serve her a burger and fries.

      If you have time and are so inclined, you may wish to explore why it is you don’t like her. One dude who disliked me on first sight had an ex-wife who looked very similar to me. Someone I know through a hobby decided she disliked me because when she met me I was wearing a particular dress she hated, and she just couldn’t get over that pink dress. One woman I struggle not to hate looks a lot like my third grade teacher.

      Reply
    6. Aurélia

      I have a co-worker like that. I’ve been at newjob since April and the feeling hasn’t lessened. I keep doing what I’ve done since day one, give enthusiastic responses, “Thank you so much for that helpful input, Ivy!” to her incredibly un-helpful input, and try to cut any conversations off at the first opportunity. Professional, but not meaningful or lengthy in any way. My advice is to minimize interactions and up the flowery language at any opportunity to combat any accusations of being too brusque.

      Reply
    7. Jill

      Do you need to like a coworker in order to be professional? I’m sure there are coworkers who don’t like me (or my role), but nothing in their interactions with me are unprofessional.

      If you’re female, I’d be careful not to perpetuate negative stereotypes about women working together. I’ve observed, and experienced, troubling work dynamics that stem from the queen bee, the clique, the pretty/in shape new colleague, the better credentialled new colleague, the colleague who gets better assignments, the younger colleague, the younger and more senior colleague. What else….

      Reply
    8. Lucille2

      Treat her like you would a client. All professional, and keeping the relationship at arms length. The reason you feel this way will likely reveal itself eventually. If she simply reminds you of someone you don’t trust, then things will soften. But it’s possible your spidey sense is telling you something.

      I had some distrustful feelings about leadership from OldJob from the beginning. I discovered later on how dysfunctional they were and how accurate my intuition was. Fortunately, I moved on to BetterNewJob before the dysfunction could take me down with it.

      Reply
    9. Blossom

      Do consider that your instincts may be off. I was on the receiving end of this – a colleague seemed visibly suspicious of me from my first day, and though she would veil it with the bare minimum of civility, it felt pretty clear that I’d ruined her party just by showing up. I’ve never had that experience before or since, and it really soured what would otherwise have been a great workplace. I always wondered what everyone else there thought about it, since she was well-established and well-liked at that workplace. I got on fine with everyone else, but I always wondered if they thought I must be difficult or something, for the office clown to have taken against me. It was like I’d stepped into some ugly high school grudge that nobody would talk about.
      I believe strongly that the onus is on the established group to welcome the newcomer, not on the newcomer to blindly figure out the right acrobatic tricks to prove themselves worthy.

      Reply
  38. Bee's Knees

    This week in a Small Town Newsroom

    Fergus is the crime reporter, and as such, has… interesting phone conversations. We all try and drown him out, because there’s only so much you can hear about the stripper map before you want to hurt someone. But try as we might to ignore him, some things just slip through. This week, one of the phrases was, “Unless that attorney puts a muzzle on her.” Lovely.

    Fergus is also not afraid of swearing. He has an outside voice as his inside voice, and normally, he could swear up a blue streak. Yesterday, however, he was talking to someone on the phone about one of the jailers. (Who he described, not by name, but as ‘you know, that BIG girl.) He starts talking about how she has a potty mouth, and how he couldn’t believe what she was saying. Blank blank this and blank that. And the most shocking part of it was that he wasn’t saying the words. I don’t know who he was talking to that he didn’t want to cuss in front of, but we were all shocked that he was so offended.

    As part of my job, I do the layout for those plaques that you see with newspaper stories on them. (Don’t buy one, they’re a waste of money. Just frame the article.) I am supposed to send them to Grandboss’s secretary to be proofed at the same time I send them to Advertising Boss’s secretary to be ordered. GB’s secretary approved it, and AB’s secretary was supposed to order it. This was about two weeks ago. I go on with my life. Wednesday, I get a call that why hasn’t that been ordered yet, haven’t I done it? I said yes, it was submitted two weeks ago to AB’s secretary. Not ten seconds later, she was getting paged over the intercom. She didn’t like the look of it, apparently, and felt that there were changes that needed to be made. She didn’t tell me what changes, but I guess I was just supposed to know.

    Grandboss wanted to order one of the plaques about a nascar race. He told me to get started on the layout, and he would get with his secretary about what size. I can’t do the layout unless I know the size. It took me a couple of hours to get a hold of her. She told me to do whatever I wanted.

    Yesterday afternoon, Farquad starts in how he doesn’t feel well. I didn’t respond, because I didn’t want to hear about how he hadn’t eaten, or did a ‘really hard’ workout, or whatever. This morning, though, he runs to the bathroom and begins throwing up in the bathroom. Which we can hear. From our desks. Thirty feet away.
    Jane asks Fergus a yes or no question. She is trying to get an answer and go back to work. He stands up from his desk and comes over and stands RIGHT behind me. (She and I sit across from each other.) He was in my bubble, which I did not appreciate, smelling like smoke, which I really didn’t appreciate, and taking way too long to come up with an answer.

    If I remember, I’m going to try and post in the open thread tomorrow about some of the things that recently have happened in the church nursery, because that is an adventure in and of itself.

    Reply
  39. Spooky

    I should probably already know the answer to this, but say you’re in an academic certificate program. The last class finishes in December. Grades come out in either late December or early January. Presumably the certificate gets sent out in January (there is no formal graduation). Do you list it on your resume as completing the program and earning the certification in December (when you finished classes) or January (when the cert is mailed to you)?

    I feel stupid asking but I’m genuinely not sure. I’m guessing January but I wanted to check.

    Reply
    1. Audiophile

      I look at it the same way as finishing any other college program, I list at the completion of the coursework. In the case of my degree, I listed it when I graduated even though I didn’t get my degree in the mail until September or October.

      Reply
      1. Audiophile

        On my resume, I’ve always listed it in this format:
        Institution
        Institution city and state
        Degree
        Month and year of completion

        Now that it’s been many years since I completed my degree, I no longer list the month and instead list just the year.

        Reply
      2. Kris

        This. Also, if you ask your academic advisor, recorder, or registrar, they should be able to tell you what the date will be.

        Reply
    2. Kuododi

      When I finished my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, I completed the courses in December but the Pomp and Circumstances did not take place until the following July. On my resume, I would put MAMFT…Courses completed December xxxx
      Diploma conferred, July xxxx

      Reply
  40. Audiophile

    Has anyone used the “ask for a referral” feature on LinkedIn? I have a pretty wide network of contacts in different fields that work at companies that I’d be interested in working at. I’ve applied outside of LinkedIn, but a lot of places are moving solely to LinkedIn’s application system. I’m not sure whether it’s worth it to use the feature or just see what happens based on the profile information shared. I believe when you apply and you have a connection with an employee at the company, that may be shared, but I’m not certain.

    Reply
  41. Purple soda

    I am utterly confused about my future in a company admist rumors of contract termination.

    I just found out my contract ending the December is not going to be renewed. And to make an awkward situation even worse, I found it out second hand – a manager Mike told my coworker Jim while they were chatting over coffee. He probably didn’t reckon on Jim actually being good friends with me, because Jim passed along the information in secret.

    I was really surprised no one tried to talk to me about my (supposedly) bad work. My last performance review had actually been quite good! However, the signs were all there:

    1. I have become a BEC to Mike.
    2. A new team chat group being formed that doesn’t contain me at all.
    3. There being a re-org in the office, and bosses having talked to EVERYBODY about their new teams… except me.
    4. Various bosses constantly asking me about the current status of my work.
    5. Not getting any new work.
    I think I can pretty safely say that my termination is indeed not just a rumour.

    However, a boss recently approached me about my work in the team and asked me to ramp up some of my projects. He made no mention of the supposed contract termination, only asking me to look into planning some future company events. I also seem to still be involved in the team despite not being in the chat group. I am utterly baffled by this sudden new development. So am I staying or leaving? Is there a safe way to ask a boss “so… Eh, I heard I am gonna be fired soon, is that true?”

    Reply
    1. Namast'ay in Bed

      I think you can frame it as a “as the end of the year/my contract is approaching, do you think it will be renewed” conversation, and with the re-org you can definitely frame it as “where do I fit in with the company during this transition period”, a sort of big picture discussion.

      Reply
  42. Margaret

    Would you consider it weird to have a sign on my cubicle saying “I have {noise cancelling} headphones on”

    The work environment is quite loud/distracting plus I work in a cubicle and can’t close the door (though the folks that have doors and walls aren’t at too much of an advantage: the walls are thin and sound travels through the vents very well). I wear these headphones nearly every day, but people still just stand behind me and talk to me for a while even though I am paying no attention to them.

    Reply
    1. Matilda Jefferies

      That sounds fine! I would maybe add a specific instruction as to how to get your attention, if you want them to knock or tap you on the shoulder or send up smoke signals or whatever. I wish more people would do that, actually!

      Reply
      1. Margaret

        I’m thinking of installing a rearview mirror, but I don’t know how folks would like that. I tried to flip my office around so folks couldn’t sneak up, but I have a window so the sun was too much glare

        Reply
        1. NotaPirate

          I’ve found I can leave a pair of sunglasses at the right angle to give me the rearview, the curvy lens works well so I can see the door. We have a office room with 20 some desks, my back unfortunately is to the door.

          Reply
      2. Anonymosity

        This. I often wore headphones while editing at Exjob and after one coworker startled me and made me jump so hard I scared her right back, I put up a sign. It had the Gates of Moria on it and said, “Speak friend and enter or knock if I’m wearing headphones.”

        Reply
    2. Murphy

      Yeah, I agree with Matilda, and I’d actually be concerned about looking like you don’t want people to approach you. I’d add something like “Please (knock/tap me/whatever if you need me!” Otherwise it just sounds like “I have taken measures to drown our your ceaseless noise.”

      Reply
      1. Margaret

        I don’t know, now that you’ve said it “I have taken measures to drown out your ceaseless noise” I’m really like it :P

        Reply
    3. Nita

      Might be a good idea. This is embarrassing in hindsight, but I thought for a long time that a coworker is incredibly rude and likes to ignore whoever stops by for a chat. She wears very small earphones, and has long hair that hides them completely. The light bulb went on only the day she randomly happened to see me come up to her cube, and pulled the earphones off to talk to me.

      Reply
      1. Margaret

        My favourite time this happened was when I was in my cube, I had semi-blocked the opening, put on my headphones, and pulled up my hoodie. I was *really* trying to get some stuff done. But one guy still walked in and started talking to me :/

        Reply
    4. Jennifer Thneed

      So, do you want them to not stand behind you or not enter your cube? That’s one goal. Do you want them to not just start talking? That’s a different goal.

      If you just want to know that they’re talking when they start, let your sign say something about “please tap my shoulder”. If you want them to just go away and not be there at all, it’ll be harder.

      How visible are the headphones? If they’re matte black, maybe do something to make them more visible to observers?

      Reply
  43. Baby Fishmouth

    Just want to rant here -I was up for another position at my university, and I was objectively probably the most qualified candidate out of the three of us that they interviewed. I had worked in similar departments at other universities doing the same job, I had years of personal and volunteer experience relating to the position, I had a related Masters degree, and I’ve been working at our university much longer with better performance reviews than her.

    The woman who got the position didn’t even meet the education requirements (required at least a 4 year degree; she has a 2 year diploma in completely unrelated subject), and her work experience prior to working here was completely unrelated minimum wage positions. However, she is good friends with the person leaving that position, so that was what it came down to in the end. Obviously, I’m angry, and it doesn’t help that all my colleagues keep telling me that they all thought I’d be getting the job. It’s completely making me reevaluate my life decisions. It sucks.

    Reply
    1. Murphy

      Ugh, I’m so sorry.

      I’ve also been in the position of not getting a promotion, and then having a million people come up and tell me that they’re shocked because I should have gotten it. I appreciated it in a way but it also just made me angrier at my superiors.

      Reply
    2. Victoria, Please

      Sigh. This is why HR rules actually are valuable, as much as we might complain about them. This would not have happened at my U because HR screens for requirements and we never would have seen this candidate.

      Sorry about this, it’s pretty epically unfair.

      Reply
      1. Baby Fishmouth

        Well they do that here too – but if the hiring manager knows somebody is applying who will get screened out, they can request that HR make an exception and send through that particular candidate. Which is exactly what happened in this case, unfortunately for me.

        Reply
    3. KayEss

      The last university I worked at, there were entire departments staffed this way–with totally inept workers who had an “in” with the director or another staff member–trying to do critical work like, say… student recruitment. Shockingly enough, between that and the president’s penchant for making contract decisions based on who gives him the best kickbacks, the entire school is now on the brink of financial collapse.

      Reply
    4. UNI

      Can you file a grievance over it? I can think of that happening twice at my university. Once in IT, Guy #1 felt he was more qualified for a job that Guy #2 got and he ended up winning his grievance and getting the position. The university couldn’t fire Guy #2 but had to find him another position somewhere else within the department. There was a bit of gossip over it, but it died down after a couple weeks.
      Another time in the Library, a guy felt he should have gotten a position that a woman received. He filed a grievance based on him having more seniority than her but he lost. Apparently her other qualifications won out over his seniority, which was the right call as he was known to be very lazy and hard to work with

      Reply
        1. Baby Fishmouth

          Oh, for sure – but I don’t necessarily want to be the person that got a job based on filing a grievance, I’d rather be in a position that I was wanted to be in. People talk a LOT here when that happens. Also, the person who got the job is a genuinely nice person and has had a lot of hard times in her life, so even though she’s certainly underqualified, she doesn’t deserve to have the rug pulled out from under her at this point. If I were more desperate for a position (toxic workplace, displaced employee, etc.), I probably would – but I don’t think it’s worth it as it is.

          Reply
  44. Violaine

    After nearly 2 months of waiting (extensive background check, moving, etc), I start my new job on Monday! I have enjoyed having the time off to get the house unpacked and the time I got to spend visiting with my family, but I am really ready to go back to work.

    Reply
  45. soandso

    Am I the only person who gets annoyed by people forwarding my emails without permission? I am a contractor within a company, where in the contract it states that I coordinate with one specific person (Jane) to complete my tasks. So if I need anything, I ask her, and she sources the information I need to do my job.

    So, I ask Jane to find out some information for me. She then forwards my email to the person who knows said information and just writes “please see soandso’s request below.” This annoys me – often times my emails are just quick ones, where they’re not phrased as nicely as they would be if I were sending them to an outside person. They also might contain confidential information that the other person shouldn’t necessarily be seeing!

    Obviously I just let this go and make a mental note to not write anything private in my emails to her. But grrrr.

    Reply
    1. Washi

      Ugh, yes, this is one of my pet peeves as well. My internal tone is often different as well, plus the people who do this also usually aren’t the best at making sure there isn’t any confidential information further downthread. I usually do say something in these situations – like “hey, just as a heads up, I’d generally prefer not to have my internal emails forwarded externally, since they often aren’t as polished as I’d like for external partners! Thanks!”

      Reply
    2. Barbaric Yawp

      Oh man, I can understand that frustration. I err on the opposite of always assuming something that may be seen by multiple parties though, which means sometimes I get too caught up in my tone not being too harsh when I should be more firm/direct. At this point though, I think you have the right idea to just assume your emails to Jane will likely be forwarded on. It’s probably a good rule of thumb, generally.

      Reply
    3. Detective Amy Santiago

      I don’t see where she’s doing anything wrong. If I got an email from someone and wasn’t the right person to answer the question, this is probably what I would do too.

      Now, if there is obvious confidential information involved, I’d maybe start noting that in the subject line.

      Reply
      1. Rusty Shackelford

        I agree. I’d do the same thing, and would be surprised to find that you expected me to reword the question. I’d just write every email as if you knew it would be forwarded to someone else.

        Reply