open thread – August 3-4, 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.

{ 1,988 comments… read them below }

  1. anon today and tomorrow

    I’m going on a two week vacation shortly. Would it be in bad taste if I gave my notice at work the week I came back from vacation?

    I thought this would be a great time since all my projects will be in good shape or finished by the time I go on vacation, so there won’t be much in production when I’m back to give my two weeks. I’m in the last stages of a job offer and will most likely hear whether or not I received the job while i’m on vacation. I’ve had people tell me it’s disrespectful to go on a long vacation and then quit, or that it causes the company issues, but the way I look at is that employers aren’t thinking about how those things when they lay people off.

    Thoughts?

    1. Kir Royale

      There isn’t much choice because you don’t have the offer yet, so you can’t give notice before vacation.

      1. anon today and tomorrow

        I will, obviously, I guess I was just speaking of the best case scenario so I could get advice on what to do?

    2. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

      I don’t really have any advice, but just wanted to say, I totally agree with your last point regarding employers.

      1. anon today and tomorrow

        Great! That makes me feel so much better and less stressed. I gave them my references today, and they’ll be contacting them next week, and said I’d most likely hear by the end of next week or early the following week.

        I just wanted some advice on how to handle it since I wanted to go into vacation free of guilt. Thank you!

        1. TCPA

          I hope you get the job! I know you’ve already gotten your answer, but I just wanted to share that I went on a three week trip out of the country (so, no work contact at all) and gave my notice soon after I returned. No one said anything about it and it didn’t seem to be a problem! Hope you have a fantastic time on your trip :)

          1. Life is good

            I did the same thing (three weeks out of the country, then gave notice the first week back) many years ago! It worked out just fine. Have a great trip!

      2. steppingout

        I have a similar question. I received a job offer and my boss is on vacation. I want to put in my two weeks. I would have preferred to wait until he is back but is it okay to do email and put in my two weeks now?

        Follow up question– i have had a weeks long vacation planned for awhile now and it would be one of those two weeks. Is this okay? I don’t believe my company has a policy against this.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          There was a letter recently about your first question and the response was yes, do it ASAP even if he’s on vacation. I believe Alison suggested that you verbally give notice to someone in the office (HR or grandboss) as well.

          As for the 2nd question, eh… that’s dicey. The whole point of the notice period is for you to wrap up your work and make sure you’re not leaving any loose ends for the person who succeeds you. So, I’d suggest giving three weeks notice since you’re going to be out for one.

          1. The Other Dawn

            I agree about giving three weeks notice if possible. I’d be pretty annoyed if someone gave their notice and then expected to still take one of those weeks as vacation.

            1. Triumphant Fox

              Often there is a policy against this at companies. Some companies want to have you take any remaining PTO as part of the two weeks, many others need you to be there for any transition. It should be in your employee handbook.

            2. Bobbin Ufgood

              me too — the two weeks is for a reason — to wrap up projects and transition work. If there is a week of vacation in there, that wouldn’t count towards these activities

        2. AdAgencyChick

          If you can, I’d resign to your boss’s boss, and ask her how she’d like to proceed with informing your boss.

          1. Fact & Fiction

            I had to do this when I accepted my current position. My official immediate supervisor at that time was out on maternity leave, so I gave my resignation to her boss–who was actually the one who hired me and was previously my immediate supervisor. It worked out just fine. Of course, you have to know the dynamics of your company to decide whether you’d prefer to give your resignation to your own boss via email or to your boss’s boss in person.

    3. Penny pen pen

      I’ve done this, it wasn’t ideal but sometimes the timing falls that way. I’m still in contact with old employer and don’t seem to have burned any more bridges than others who left around the same time as me, so I would do it again if I had to.

      1. anon today and tomorrow

        I know my boss will be annoyed because I handle higher volumes than most of my team members, but we’ve had three people leave in the past month, so I think he’d be more annoyed that I went on vacation knowing this might happen than surprised that I’m leaving.

        1. JS

          You probably had this vacation planned for months though so if he is reasonable he will be annoyed at the way the universe timed it all but cant fault you for going on vacation.

        2. Not So NewReader

          It could be that he would find a reason, any reason, to be annoyed no matter how you handle this.

          “You deliberately bought a winning lottery ticket while you were on vacation KNOWING full well that if you won the Huge Jackpot, you would give notice. And you won the lottery. What is wrong with you?!”

      2. Happy Lurker

        I have too. My immediate manager was disappointed in the moment, but ultimately got over it just fine. No one else in management gave a hoot.

    4. Camellia

      Disrespectful? Eh, not sure about that. You could mention that the offer came through WHILE you were on vacation, but some will believe you and some will still think you already had the offer and just wanted to take your vacation days before you left. You can’t control what they choose to believe.

      And you need to do what works for you. You will still be giving them a notice, probably, and that’s all any company can really expect.

    5. OhGee

      My partner did this just a few weeks ago, because his new employer wanted him to start as soon as possible, and he didn’t want to stay at his last workplace any longer than necessary. His boss wasn’t happy, but they’ve had three open positions on his team for months and have been dumping all of the most difficult work on my partner — they could have set themselves up to be less screwed when he eventually left, but they didn’t try. His final week was tough, because there was a huge emergency that only he had the skills to handle, but he handled it and left with a clear conscience and full of relief. Good luck/congratulations to you!

    6. Kix

      I don’t believe it’s disrespectful at all. Have a great vacation and here’s hoping the job offer comes through!

    7. AdAgencyChick

      If it’s in bad taste, I’ve been in bad taste three times in my career now! In fact, once I did it and my boss said “I was afraid you were coming in here to resign.”

      Because companies so often don’t allow taking PTO after you have given notice, I think it’s pretty common to wait until you come back from a vacation so you don’t lose that time.

      1. anon today and tomorrow

        Because of our workload, the very end of summer and most of the fall is usually the only time I can take vacation. So I was stuck between not taking a vacation at all in 2018, starting a new job and getting paid out for my vacation time from my current job, or just taking my vacation before quitting.

        I’d have liked the money from the two weeks of vacation time, but I also didn’t want to start a new job and then not have had more than a day off for over a year. So this seemed like the best option all around.

    8. mkt

      Provided you give full notice I don’t think it’s disrespectful.

      Whatever stress or additional juggling it may cause your manager / team / etc is really not your concern, it’s strictly business and should be seen as par for course.

      Enjoy your vacation!

    9. VeryVeryVeryAnon

      I am in a similar spot – the job offer I was excited about in a previous open chat did come through. I expect final clearance on the background and reference checks to happen early next week, so I’ll be giving notice as soon as I get back from representing the company at a conference. I expect my boss to be annoyed, but he’ll have to deal.

    10. mark132

      I wouldn’t do it because I wouldn’t want to give them a reason to contact me on my vacation. And I think this may cause this.

      1. anon today and tomorrow

        The only people contacting me on my vacation would be the company offering me a new job. My current company has no reason to contact me on my vacation, especially if they have no idea I’m planning to quit when I return.

    11. seller of teapots

      I had a manager who gave his notice the day he came back from his honeymoon. I was also on my honeymoon at the time (different honeymoon!) and it was surprising news to come back to because he was a great boss, but it didn’t seem to lessen anyone’s opinion of him.

    12. Database Developer Dude

      Employers aren’t thinking about these things when they lay people off or terminate them. You’re fine. It’s not disrespectful.

      1. Anon for this comment

        I got told my job was being eliminated a couple years ago, with no plans to transfer me into a new position. I got the news the day before I was leaving for vacation (which meant I got to spend my vacation fighting bouts of panic about how I was going to be out of a job in a few months.

    13. Been There, Done That

      I don’t think it’s bad taste or disrespectful. Sometimes that’s the way it happens. And if you don’t have a firm offer before your vacay, you don’t need to violate your own privacy or tip your hand until you’re sure.

    14. Shuvon (Wakeen's sister)

      It’s fine. I just did this myself — I applied for the new job and started interviewing in June, and the offer didn’t come through until I was on vacation in July. The job I’m about to leave has a policy of “once you resign, you may not take any sick or vacation days”. You are expected to give two week’s notice and work those two weeks to wrap up projects and transfer work. They won’t be hiring my replacement any time soon, so I’m focused on leaving instructions for three months from now when a new person might start.

      1. Barbara

        How can they prevent staff to take sick days ? When you are really sick you can’t work.

    15. Traffic_Spiral

      It seems convenient for the employer – they’ve just had a test-run in how to have people cover for your duties.

  2. NYC Nonprofit

    Is anyone here involved in the criminal justice reform, non-profit, or social services industries want to give me career and/or grad school advice? Sorry in advance if I sound all over the place!

    I currently work for a criminal justice social services agency, mostly around Housing and Behavioral Health, and want to stay within criminal justice reform / work that serves those with CJ involvement. I’m in my late 20s, have a Bachelor’s in English, and have been working for the past few years in program operations, data management, and process improvement. However, I’ve also been given feedback that I would be good at a lot of other things – grant writing, advocacy, etc. I feel sort of like a “jack of all trades, master of none” and am really looking for direction on where I want to focus on for my next steps.

    The only thing I know I want is versatility – I’m looking for something that will give me the most ability to move from different areas in the sector. I’m not sure yet whether I want to stay with non-profits/CBOs, or work on the government side, or public health; I’m not sure whether I want to focus on direct service provision, administrative/executive work, or advocacy. — But ideally, I would like to have the versatility to be able to move between those areas if I see a niche or a gap I can fill.

    A bunch of degrees have been suggested to me (JD, MBA, MPH, MPA, MSW). JD has gotten the most votes by far from those around me for its versatility in the industry – essentially I am told everyone is always looking for someone who can understand law, especially contract law. But does anyone have any insight they’d like to lend? NOT going to grad school is also an option; just looking for any and all advice on how I should be looking at my career.

    1. Rulesfor

      Social work is super flexible, more than people realize! I’m a social worker, and a lot of people in my program had a macro concentration, which was more focused on advocacy and program management and that type of things, rather than clinical work.

      1. strawberries and raspberries

        Absolutely- and especially in New York, many of the better schools (Hunter, Columbia, etc.) have policy and organizational management tracks for people who are interested in the side that has more direct interaction with legislation. I also think that in many non-profits, having an LMSW is extremely sought after and very flexible, whether you decide you want to do direct service again or want to focus on the grant-writing and organizing part. It gives you a more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of how to approach program administration.

        1. College Career Counselor

          Some MSW programs also have a policy/law component. This might be a more useful/faster/cheaper way of doing the grad degree that keeps you in the field than taking three years (and however much debt) for law school. If you can pay for law school (or your employer will, part-or full-time), then it could be worth it. Look carefully at the debt for ANY program that you are considering and bump that up against the salary increase you’re likely to make with the new credential and factor that in to your decision. I know a lot people who regretted the $100k private school social work degree (instead of the $40k state school version) because they wound up making $45k afterwards.

        2. Spero

          This track is uncommon in some areas of the country which could be a disadvantage. In the South, I constantly have to clarify that I do not provide counseling or case management. I leave MSW out of my email signature and even chose to pursue certification in connection with another degree because the other macro practice social workers in my area advised me that LMSWs are even more strongly tracked to client facing roles (ex: someone whose work experience was exclusively in program planning and grant writing was hired for Grant writing and showed up first day to find the org transferred her to residential foster placement as a “better fit for her background”.)

    2. ZSD

      I wonder if an MPP might be more useful. The advice I’ve gotten is that a JD teaches you to read laws, not legislation, so if you’re wanting to go into any kind of *advocacy* around criminal justice reform, the JD might not be for you.
      Of the degrees you’ve listed, I think the MBA might be the least useful, unless you specifically want to go into financial administration/HR in a CJ organization.

      1. PolicyWonk

        I have an MPP and have friends doing this kind of work with an MPP. MPP’s (or MPAs) are also shorter than JDs and I think you can tailor them more.

    3. chickadee

      As someone who went to law school and works in law schools, I would never suggest getting a JD unless you are a) planning to practice law or b) going for another career that REQUIRES the JD (not simply recommends). Law school is very expensive and doesn’t train you for anything that isn’t practicing the law (and not even that sometimes). If neither of the above points are true of you, I’d only go if you have a full ride scholarship or nearly so.

      There are law-adjacent masters’ programs (stuff like Master of Legal Studies, varions compliance programs, etc.) that might be a better choice if you don’t want to practice law but want some legal knowledge. Most of these tend to be aimed at working professionals, and there won’t be a lot of financial aid for them, so you’d have to find that investment worth it.

      1. PDXJael

        This is absolutely the same advice I give. Do not go to law school if you do not want to practice law, that career expired long ago. Ironically, the loans from getting a JD (or any expensive grad degree) can price you out of jobs that you’d then have the skills for. And even though the legal job market is good right now, a lot can change in the 3+ years it takes to get a degree. Just ask someone entered law school in 2006 only to watch the field’s entry level jobs evaporate circa 2008. Signed, Post-Recession Class of 2009

      2. Emmie

        As a lawyer, I give you the same advice. If you want to try these cases in court, go to law school if the debt is manageable. You can absolutely understand law and legislation by earning a paralegal certificate, which I recommend. They can be earned quite affordably at local community colleges. I actually wish I would have done that.

      3. Joielle

        Yep, another lawyer here, and I agree. No need to spend all the money on law school unless you actually want to do something that requires bar admission. Although I will point out that there are careers that involve practicing law and do require bar admission, but don’t involve trying cases in court!

        I agree that “everyone is always looking for someone who can understand law,” but everyone is NOT interested in paying what they assume a lawyer wants to make. Even if you’re willing to work for a low salary, a JD on your resume will make you look overqualified and too expensive for some orgs.

      4. Pippa

        Just to add my agreement here – don’t get a JD unless you intend to have a career practicing law. If the legal aspect of policy and advocacy is what’s most interesting to you, consider Chickadee’s suggestion about law-related MA programs (I’d include the general area now called “law and society”); it’s absolutely possible to study law and develop expertise in particular areas of law without a JD. If you do decide to get a JD, you might consider a joint JD/MA program so that you have advanced training in a particular subject area like social work or public health.

        Other commenters’ suggestions for MPP or MPA degrees are good, too – some MPA programs have specialisations in nonprofit management or similar subjects that might be a good fit for you.

        1. TheOtherLiz

          FWIW I found my MPP to be relatively useless in my career in social justice advocacy. I had a full ride and still don’t believe it was ultimately worth my time.

          1. Pippa

            Yeah, there seems to be considerable variation across programs, and I wouldn’t recommend them to everyone interested in policy issues (I’m an academic, but a social scientist not connected to an MPP or MPA program). Sorry yours didn’t turn out to be helpful!

    4. Meredith Brooks

      I work at a large urban library — we work with local and state governments and also are a non-profit. There are lots of different avenues that someone like you could potentially be involved in. But, I wouldn’t actually go to grad school until you have a more solid idea about what kind of role you want to play. I know lots of folks who went back to school to get a JD, and while it’s not a bad idea to have that feather in your cap, it’s also an expensive feather and may not apply to where you want to go, which would mean you’d need to get an expensive second feather.

    5. Anonygrouse

      (Background: I work in a human services/public health nonprofit and have an MPA.) IME, for most nonprofit career of the types you describe — whether operations/data management or more advocacy/policy — you need a master’s degree to be able to advance to most mid- to upper-level positions, but the distinction between MPA and MPH, for example, doesn’t matter a whole lot. (MSW with a policy/advocacy focus is probably similar, but I have less familiarity with those programs). I would like at specific program requirements, coursework, money, and timing/structure of programs rather than put a lot of weight on the specific credential.

      Practicing law is a very different type of work, and the financial burden of a JD can be significantly higher than a professional masters degree ( 3 yrs full time vs 2). To me it’s a degree for people who are interested in a career where a JD specifically is required, not one you get just to widen your pool of options. You can get experience with certain areas of law in some masters programs (my MPA program had its own contracts courses and cross-listed several courses from the law school). It is also much rarer to find JD programs you can do while continuing to work, if that’s a concern for you.

    6. BlueWolf

      I know someone who works in criminal justice reform at a university (I’m not sure of what department exactly, I think maybe in a research center), and now she is basically getting her master’s paid for by the university since she works there. If you’re thinking of getting an advanced degree, you might want to look into getting a position at a university that would then pay part or all of your tuition.

      1. Anonygrouse

        Yes, this too! University staff jobs also usually have good benefits/pay overall (compared to the rest of the nonprofit sector, at any rate), and in my experience can be pretty flexible with accommodating your class schedule, especially if your program is related to the job you have there. Try to research the specific tuition benefit as much as you can — is there waiting period before you can use it, do they make you commit to staying at the university X years after degree completion or you’re on the hook for part/all of the benefit you used, how much the benefit would be taxable income, etc.

      2. StudentAffairsProfessional

        YES this is what I was going to suggest. I wish this is what I had done! I have an MSW and I rushed into grad school in 2007 and took out student loans without a full understanding of what it was like to live on a social worker’s salary and how crippling my student loan payments would be. I now work for a university and could have easily pursued a Master’s using our professional development benefit.

        One of my friends earned her MPP nearly for free by working at GWU and taking classes part time. She works in Gov’t Oversight now. A lot of students in my MSW program were part-time students working in traditional social work jobs and I think their jobs were paying for some/all of their degree. I do think MSW is a very flexible degree and I have been able to move around from nonprofits, social service agencies, and now Higher Ed with an MSW. I would try to find a job with an organization or University that will offer you either tuition reimbursement or professional development funds that will help you start a part-time degree program. Good luck!

      3. Yvette

        Many universities do, however it can vary widely how long you have to work there to take advantage.

      4. NYC Nonprofit

        This is something I will definitely look into, thank you! I initially had Yvette’s concern – that there must be restrictions around how long you have to work there to qualify for those benefits – but will definitely keep it in mind.

    7. Kix

      If you’re interested in learning contract law, you can get a federal job writing contracts starting at a journeyman level. They train you from the ground up and promote quickly if you show aptitude. However, it sounds like you might be looking for more “boots on the ground” work, which would lead me to cattle dog you toward social work. There are so many social work tracks in graduate school now that I believe you’d find what you’re seeking. Don’t go to law school, there are already too many unemployed/underemployed JDs unless all you want to do is practice law.

    8. Faith

      Since you’re in NYC, I’ll share my experience with getting my MPA at CUNY Baruch. I started my career in social services-related nonprofits, and after a few years realized I needed a master’s degree to be able to move up in my career and make a salary that I could live on :) An MPA made by far the most sense for me since at the time I thought I wanted to stay in nonprofits and eventually move up to manager/director-level positions. I went to Baruch because I planned to continue working full-time while studying part-time and the school is set up really well for that because the majority of students do the same thing – most classes are in the evening. Also because it was far cheaper than the other schools I looked at, NYU Wagner and the New School (Wagner didn’t give me any scholarship money; the New School gave me some but not enough).

      About a year through the program, I realized I really wanted to switch my career focus from nonprofit services work to policy/research, and I changed my concentration from Nonprofit Management to Policy Analysis and Evaluation (I was still taking the required classes and hadn’t gotten to electives yet, so this wasn’t a big deal). I ended up getting a job as a policy analyst in city government, which I couldn’t have gotten without the MPA.

      I do think the MPA is a really versatile degree; my classmates worked in a wide range of positions in nonprofits, government, and the private sector. If I decide I want to go back to nonprofits, having the MPA will help me even though I didn’t end up concentrating in Nonprofit Management. I also agree with another commenter that the MPA vs. MPH doesn’t matter that much – most of my current coworkers have MPAs but a couple have MPHs.

      1. NYC Nonprofit

        Interesting! I’ve heard a wide range of mixed things about Baruch (though most people I’ve talked to went there for business). I’m glad it worked out well for you. I guess my curiosity would be – apart from the career, how do you feel now about your decision to switch? Do you feel that you’re making the kind of impact you wanted as a policy analyst vs. whatever you would’ve ended up in if you’d stayed focused on non-profit management?

        1. Faith

          I’m definitely more removed now from the potential impact of my work than I was when I worked in nonprofits. It’s also more of a long-term than immediate impact, i.e. if my work were to be used to change policies, it wouldn’t happen right away and I wouldn’t be able to see it happening on the ground. I’m ok with that and the work is a better fit for me in other ways, but I totally understand that many people (it sounds like maybe including you?) need to be able to actually see the difference that their work is making.

    9. here we go

      I at a NYC criminal justice reform nonprofit, although my projects are actually nationally focused. I have an MPA and I think it’s done me very well in my career, especially if you go to a school with a large professional network. Funnily enough, the people with JDs on our staff are often not high performers – I think the programs prepare you for a different type of work (unless you want to do legal work work for Legal Aid or something similar) and are SO expensive, you don’t really want to come out of them on a nonprofit salary. If you are positive that you are going to stay in the criminal justice field, a really helpful degree is a MA in Criminal Justice, particularly from the University of Cincinnati (I think they have an online option). In NYC, I don’t think we hear a lot about Masters in CJ because programs in this region are more focused on law enforcement jobs, but a UC degree is extremely well respected among practitioners across the country and would open a lot of doors.

      Funnily enough, sometimes I do think an MBA would have been an extremely helpful degree for me. For my role in particular, I’m helping criminal justice agencies adopt new practices (and let go of old, punitive ones) and more training in organizational development and change management would have been helpful (I got some in my MPA program, but it wasn’t my focus).

      Also, I do think MSWs are extremely valuable degrees, but sometimes people with them get pigeonholed into direct services work. If you knew you wanted to do work on behavioral health related to CJ populations, I might direct you that way, but if you want to leave all of your options open in terms of roles, I would go for a different degree.

      1. here we go

        I work* at a NYC criminal justice nonprofit. haha, of course my first comment on here has an immediate typo.

      2. NYC Nonprofit

        Thanks so much for your response! What you do sounds super interesting (helping to reform the practices of CJ agencies) – I’m really mostly familiar with the social service, behavioral health CJ agencies in NYC and had no idea there was something out there like what you’re describing. I’d love to hear more about it if you’re willing to share somehow!

        1. here we go

          I would be super happy to chat with you offline, but not sure how to do it as i don’t want to post my email publicly. If you have a way, let me know!

          To get you started, though, here are some organizations that do similar work that you might be interested in:
          https://www.vera.org/
          https://csgjusticecenter.org/
          https://www.urban.org/policy-centers/justice-policy-center
          http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/projects/public-safety-performance-project
          http://www.crj.org/divisions/crime-justice-institute/

          I also started at an NYC-based CJ direct services organization and then ended up transitioning to national policy work. I think if you want to go into the policy side of things (include the process improvement/implementation of EBP/improving practices that you mention below) a grad degree may be a really good fit for you. I do think that at some point your opportunities for growth will get limited without one – most people at my org and doing this type of work generally have advanced degrees, including PhDs.

          1. NYC Nonprofit

            If you’re still reading, thank you so much for these links!! I am familiar with Vera but not any of the others that you listed, so that is super useful.

            If you’d still be happy to chat offline, you can shoot me an e-mail at the link in my username; it’s an anon e-mail account I keep open for random things like this. Would love to hear more about your work if you get a chance!

            1. NYC Nonprofit

              Sorry, looks like it didn’t take! Here is the e-mail address you can reach me at: cwgates4@gmail.com (Alison, feel free to delete the other glitchy comments if they’re cluttering things.)

        2. here we go

          I tried to post this earlier, but it never showed up – not sure if it got eaten up or just delayed because it had links in it. Apologies if this becomes a double post!

          I’d be happy to chat with you offline, but I’m not sure how as I don’t want to post my email publicly. If you have a way, please let me know!

          In the meantime, here are some organizations you should checkout that do similar work (without links, this time):
          Vera Institute
          Council of State Governments Justice Center
          Urban Institute Justice Policy Center
          Pew Charitable Trusts Public Safety Performance Project
          Crime and Justice Institute (part of Community Resources for Justice)

          I also got my start in the field working for an NYC-based CJ direct services organization before I moved into more policy-focused work. Getting an advanced degree is a good way to go for you, especially if you’re interested in the type of work you listed below – process improvement/implementation of EBP/improving practices (QA/SQI). I’ve observed that at some point people without advanced degrees have limited opportunities for professional growth. Most of my coworkers have masters degrees or even PhDs, along with people I interact with at sister organizations.

      3. Yorick

        I have a PhD in Criminal Justice and do research in a criminal justice agency. We have many different positions that might interest someone like you that don’t require a graduate degree. I think a lot of people think police agencies only have cops and corrections agencies only have COs, but that’s not the case. Look around at some non-profits and agencies to see what types of jobs they have and what experience the people in them have.

        I always tell people not to go into a graduate program with only a sort of vague career plan (unless you have money burning a hole in your pocket or your job will pay). I didn’t have a firm career plan when I went for an MA, and it worked out for me, but I’ve seen many people mess up their lives a little with student loans for degrees that didn’t help them find jobs or even teach them new, marketable skills.

        The University of Cincinnati online MS program: It’s a good option in some ways and not good in other ways. It’s true that it’s well respected, and you’ll learn more about the criminal justice system from experts. I would definitely recommend it for someone who needed a Masters to get a specific job or a raise/promotion. But in an online program you’ll only learn the basics on conducting research (and get no experience) and you certainly won’t get experience with writing grants or all that. If that’s the sort of thing you want to do, I’d suggest looking into Masters programs that are on-campus and have research assistantships for students.

        I agree with commenters above who recommend looking into research centers connected with a university. There are some great criminal justice departments around NYC (off the top of my head I’m thinking John Jay and Rutgers Newark).

    10. Tina

      I agree with the other commenters about law school, but if that’s something you’re really considering I’d look into either a) do you think you can score high enough on the LSAT to get a full scholarship somewhere b) check out CUNY Law in LIC – they are openly social justice oriented and it’s much lower tuition

    11. Smitty

      Agree with the others – I’m a 2012 JD of a great NYC law school and am terribly burdened by enormous law school loans. Even if you get a law school scholarship, they are all GPA-dependent (you have to maintain a certain GPA to keep your scholarship, but law school classes have a steep GPA curve so it can be very difficult to be a top performer). Often people who have law school scholarships end up taking out student loans.

      My own law school loans are over $3000 a month. I live in NYC and work in finance, not big law.

      Also, there are public service loan forgiveness programs and IBR (income-based repayment programs), but with the current administration, there is no guarantee these programs will remain in place by the time your loans are up for forgiveness.

    12. Cakezilla

      I am a social worker working in reentry right now! I say definitely go for an MSW if you can. I studied both direct and community practice in grad school, and right now I do direct service and volunteer with an organization that does criminal justice reform policy work.

      The university I went to also started a dual MSW/JD program the year after I left, so it may be worth looking into to see if you have one of those nearby?

      Good luck on your journey!

    13. MPH

      I have an MPH and work in data management/analysis at a university. I might be biased, but if you would pursue an MPH I would really recommend finding an one with a concentration in biostatistics. At least where I live it can be difficult to find a behavioral health job with decent pay if you don’t have an additional skill set like statistics or nursing.

    14. epi

      So, I work in public health in cancer disparities. (I have an MS Epi.) I know tons of MPHs obviously, and from where I sit it is a versatile degree because so many social issues are related to population health. Depending on the program you can concentrate on something like epidemiology, biostatistics, or community health sciences; or you can have a more general degree that gets you some exposure to all those areas.

      Before doing this, I was really interested in medical and research ethics in general, and like you looked at paths where there were a lot of different graduate degrees floating around. I considered a JD.

      I really would not recommend getting a JD unless you want to practice law. This was the advice I got and I’m really glad I took it to heart. Public service legal jobs are competitive, because lots of people go into law hoping to do advocacy work, and there is loan forgiveness for an incredibly expensive degree. While there might be roles where it would help you, it’s rare in my experience to see JD required non-lawyer jobs. There are way cheaper ways to get a degree that would mean something in your field.

      First it sounds like you really need to determine that you need a degree at all. Is there anyone you consider a mentor in your field that you can talk to? It sounds like you need to understand the day to day work you could expect in different roles. Some things to think about could be, do you want direct contact with clients? To communicate with people outside the field? Do you need the satisfaction of knowing how you directly impacted someone, or do you like working on big picture projects and you’re OK with knowing they are important even if you may never meet someone who can say you caused their good outcome? Do you prefer inventing/discovering/inventing, or do you want to translate/implement/evaluate?

      If you can figure out in a general way what types of role would work for you, and start looking up the bios of people who do that, you will probably see a much smaller variety of degrees.

      1. NYC Nonprofit

        Those are great questions, thank you. It gives me a lot to think about. Here at my agency, I definitely have mentors who have been able to advise me on what it would mean to be in a leadership role at a non-profit/community-based organization. But I’m pretty lacking in exposure to what a leadership position entails in another part of the sector (e.g. the government or advocacy side).

        My first thoughts are that, no, I don’t necessarily need to directly see the folks I’m impacting. However, it IS important to me to be able to quantify the impact of my work, if that makes sense. My hesitation with bigger picture projects isn’t really not being able to see who I’m serving – it’s more a fear of losing touch with the ground and getting too stuck in an ivory tower to truly understand the lived experience of those I’m trying to serve.

    15. NYC Nonprofit

      Thank you everyone so far for the replies! Don’t have a ton of time to reply in detail yet, but I’ll just say quickly that I’m grateful for the reality check on JDs. I think in my little corner of the industry, we might be a little bit inundated with recovering attorneys and people with JDs – maybe to our detriment – so I was wondering if that was coloring the perception of those around me on what degree is most useful.

      One project I’ve halfway started is looking around at different organizations I could see myself ending up in, and looking at the backgrounds of their leadership – but it seems like there are so many different paths to get to a leadership position (which is a good thing!).

      I think part of my struggle, too, is that I’m not yet sure *what* area exactly I think is the most impactful use of my skills. If I stay on the service provider side, will I always feel at the mercy of the policies and resource constraints affecting me from above? If I move up the chain, will I lose touch with what really makes an impact on the ground? etc. I’m definitely interested in process improvement, optimization, and change management generally speaking, but really have no idea yet where I want to apply that, or what angle would be the best way to achieve reform in this country (or city).

      1. policygeek

        Hello from non-profit land. Chiming in a little on the late side, but in case you are still following comments, I would emphasize what some other comments have noted: don’t get a JD unless you really want to be practicing law. I do have have colleagues with JDs, but as a few others have pointed out, they are not actually the strongest performers. They are trained to think in a certain way that doesn’t always allow them to successfully shift gears. I have seen many instances where a candidate having a JD is considered a detriment by a hiring committee.
        I would also suggest delaying grad school until you have a better sense of where/how you’d like to focus. I agree that in non-profit and related fields, you will likely need a graduate degree to advance, but you don’t want to make that kind of investment until you have a clearer sense of your direction.
        Finally, I would echo what many others have said: an MPP/MPA sounds like it may give you the range of skills and flexibility you are looking for. I have an MPA and do spend a lot of time analyzing laws, regulations, and related — so glad I did NOT go for the JD :-)
        Our most senior criminal justice person — very successful, very highly regarded both in our organization and nationally– has a PhD, but began with an MPA.
        Best of luck to you!

    16. iheartcoffee

      My first M.A. was in Legal Studies which is a far cheaper alternative then getting a JD, and it’s what I suggest if you’re not interested in becoming a lawyer.

    17. Sarah G

      I’ve worked social services for 14 years, in a wide variety of mostly direct service positions (including housing & behavioral health), but currently in quality assurance/program improvement/staff development. I worked for NPOs for a lot of that time, and have been working for county gov’t for the past several years, which has been great!
      1. I have a BA in English and Psych, but no grad degree, which sometimes it can be a little bit of a disadvantage in the hiring process but oftentimes not, because I have a ton of experience and skills. Do not go to grad school based on other people’s suggestions/votes — do your own information gathering, talk to people who have the jobs you’re interested in (including informational interviews), and find out about their education and career paths, and what they recommend in that regard.
      2) If you go to grad school, go because you know what you want to do with that degrees, and will be more qualified at it because of the degree. Don’t get a JD unless you want a career for which it’s a requirement or strong qualification. Same with the other degrees. I would not recommend an MSW unless you want to do clinical work. I know people who got an MSW despite not wanting to do clinical work, and regret all the time and money invested as they don’t use or need the MSW.
      3. Seek out workplaces where’s there’s room for growth, and orgs who invest in the professional development of its employees — training opportunities, etc.
      4. In many places, working for the gov’t is where it’s at. My gov’t job pays much more than NPOs pay, and is a great employer overall. Getting government jobs isn’t easy though — make sure you know the application process and read all the available information.
      5. Good luck!

      1. Sarah G

        p.s. There may be other MSW jobs/careers besides clinical work, but my point is, don’t just go to grad school to get a degree unless you know what you want to do with that degree!

      2. Mimmy

        Gonna echo you on the MSW. I got mine in 2007. While there was a period when I thought I wanted to do clinical work, I later realized that I was more interested in mezzo or macro-level work. Unfortunately, I was already on my last classes, so I didn’t change my track (I probably could have asked…).

        I’ve heard people say that the MSW is very broad, but the field seems very focused on development of clinical skills or nonprofit management. Now I’m having qualms about whether I’m back to square one, especially after reading this thread.

        Moral of the story (for everyone, not you specifically :) ) – If you are considering grad school, especially if you’re looking at specific degrees, make sure you ask questions!

        In terms of the MSW:

        – Ask about the coursework–including concentrations and specialization tracks–and field placements. Sure that information is often included on school websites and brochures, but I think you can get more by digging a little deeper. Even better, see if you can find current students or graduates and ask about their experiences. If you talk with graduates, find out about their career paths and whether their coursework was helpful

        – Look at the research interests of faculty – I believe this can offer some idea of whether faculty focus more on micro issues (e.g. clinical treatment modalities, mental health conditions, case management) or macro issues (e.g. social welfare policies, community building, nonprofit management).

        (This advice applies for anyone considering grad school, but I’m basing this from my knowledge of MSW programs.)

  3. CBH

    SHORT STORY VERSION:
    I started an online networking site for a specific industry. I had wanted to get a few industry experts’ opinions on a few things. This was all voluntary. In exchange for said experts’ help, I offered they could to write a post that would be beneficial to them (for example an advertisement for their company). Three of these experts ghosted me when I had a delay in starting things up. Now that this networking site is up, running and exceeding expectations (without any opinions or help from them) suddenly these experts expect me to let them write this post that they personally benefit from. I feel a little frustrated that I did all the work and was scrambling when they ghosted me. How do I say too little too late?

    LOOOONG STORY DETAILED VERSION
    I don’t know if I am being petty or holding a grudge or taking this too personally. I started a local online networking group for people who work in a specific industry in a specific geographical area. It’s a laid back group where we discuss different aspects of the industry and in the same post, did anyone catch the game or see that movie. While I have some strict guidelines to keep things overall topic focused, anything goes as long as you are respectful. The group is free. While the group is small, it is growing beyond my expectations in the two months it has been running.

    I took about three months to set the group up before officially “going live” two months ago. I reached out family, friends, former and current coworkers, acquaintances and even some informational meetings in the industry to research areas of discussion so I would have a plan of action. I was surprised at how enthusiastic people were. I offered many a more prominent role in this group as a thank you for their help – some wanted to write posts about their companies, others wanted to post job listings, advertise company discounts – something that would benefit them directly that I normally would not allow as a sole topic of discussion.

    During this time I had a health issue where the recovery took longer than expected, two months instead of the typical two weeks! I ended up having to push out some timing deadlines to get things off the ground. I kept everyone informed of my situation and new timelines throughout my recovery. Most responded with well wishes, they were still on board and asked that I reach out to them when I was back in the game.

    After my recovery, I reached out to said people. Three of these contacts never got back to me; radio silence; no communication; no response to emails or phone calls. OK, I get that is all voluntary. Not all contacts work out as we hope. I moved on. I rushed to make alternative arrangements for the areas they were to help me in. Just an FYI, while these three experts made a commitment (in writing) to help me, no work was done yet beyond a 5 minute phone call or swapping a few ideas in one-line emails to organize everything.

    When I did go live, since I never heard from any of these three contacts, I did not use any ideas, emails or discussions we corresponded about in the group. In my personal opinion the contacts never gave me permission to use our joint ideas/ conversations in the group; so I didn’t. For me, this group is a professional hobby so I didn’t want to get into a he said she said situation.
    It seems that suddenly since this group is taking off, these contacts want to now join. No problem, the group is for anyone locally in the industry. However these contacts still want me to give them an influential role in the group.

    For some reason this is leaving me with a bad taste. I feel like they had their opportunity to help out. I’m happy to have them in the group and look forward to however they want to participate, but they seem to want more control over the group. I guess I’m a bit angry that I did all the work and doubled my efforts when they stopped communications. Now it seems like every correspondence/ communication to me has them speaking like they are in a larger role than that as a member of the group.

    I am trying to look at this from another angle… what if this networking group had been a startup company. Maybe the contact didn’t want to take the risk. Maybe they didn’t have the time. However no matter how I look at the situation, a simple communication would have made me feel a little more confident to continue working with them in a more leading role.

    How do I put a stop to this? How do I say you had a chance? Am I being petty and stubborn?

    1. WellRed

      You’re being petty. No one owes you anything, particularly for free. Also, it was only 3 contacts out of how many that didn’t get back to you? That sounds like a pretty good rate of return to me.

      1. Falling Diphthong

        It sounds like they may have figured there was no point in writing the post since the site didn’t seem to be coming to fruition.

        Either they helped you before that, in which case you owe them their slot, or they could be helpful in the future and so the reasonable thing is to let them make the post.

      2. JS

        I disagree. I think you have the wrong idea, it’s not that they ‘owe’ him help but they went back on their commitments to help. Also its not ‘for free’ the poster mentioned they would have an influential role and get to advertise things about their business in a growing networking space. This has the potential to be worth so much more in business opportunities than anything you would be compensated on to help get the site off the ground.

        I can see why CBH would be upset/annoyed and I agree with others think they should think about how keeping in their good graces good effect their future opportunities. That said I would be wary about including them in the future endeavors.

          1. Auntie Social

            “Gee I wish you’d gotten back to me. The position of Teapot Advisor is filled for now, but you can keep contributing and we will keep you in mind. . . .”

    2. Artemesia

      Are you better off having these industry experts ‘on your side’ and having good feelings about your efforts or as enemies? Fairness is really not the issue; your own professional interests should take priority, annoying as they were.

      1. CBH

        One of the things I did contemplate is that it is just a post. You are right in looking at the big picture. I was frustrated with the situation but can see where your point of view is coming from.

        1. Artemesia

          I thought I posted this remark but it isn’t here: another idea, is there anything these laggards could do for you NOW in exchange for these advertising posts. e.g. could they share your blog or whatever links in their own networks? Think about how to make use of these experts now. And no hint of disparagement. Swallowing this is part of being professional sometimes. I have a hard time with it too.

        2. Havarti

          The part that concerns me more is about them apparently trying to take more control of the group. Are they looking for the same privileges as the ones who got the right to post jobs, discounts, etc. as a thank you for their support? Or are they trying to get more?

          1. CBH

            However please see my post below about letting them post. In addition Artemesia gave me something to think about. Perhaps if I let them post (something to their benefit) they would be more willing to continue to help the group in other ways or in their original way too.

    3. Kir Royale

      If you forget about what already happened for a moment, what would they bring to the group? Would their expert opinions and experience be valuable to the group? Or can they cause trouble by setting up a competing group? Saying you had a chance, too late, would not be best course of action. It might be a good idea to set specific criteria that would earn participants the right to place an ad for their company, so then you can say to them, that X contributions will earn them Y advertising space.

    4. CBH

      Hey everyone, I appreciate all of your opinions. I think I am taking this too personally and too seriously. When rereading my post I feel like I was taking professional and personal frustration in setting up this networking group out on a few people. I plan on letting them do a post to benefit them in whatever way they choose. At one point, these contacts did agree to help me. If anything I owe them for taking the time to listen to me. It’s just the timing that didn’t work out. I would be burning bridges by being so stubborn. The few comments posted thus far made me see that. I wanted this group to have a business happy hour feel to it, so I should be grateful for all who participate in the group. Thank you again for all your insights.

    5. MagicToilet

      I am petty and hold grudges. But I would take all the help I can get by giving everyone a second chance. If they burn you again: gone.

    6. MuttIsMyCopilot

      Is there anything they could still help you with now? Maybe you could respond with something like “The main purpose of the group is conversational/networking, so [advertising/company profile/promotional] posts are limited to being a perk for participants who help me [moderate/develop content/research]. If you’re interested in investing that kind of time I’m looking for someone to [specific task request], but I understand if you’re too busy. We’d still love to have you in the group!”

      1. CBH

        I posted above. These posts made me see I am taking things waaay too personal. However I am going to try to “renegotiate” their input. I’ll let them post (afterall they did speak with me originally and I did have to change the deadline) but can they help me now for a future discussion topic.

    7. LilySparrow

      I’m not really clear on what help they were supposed to give you, or whether this was handled as a transactional exchange, or as a more nebulous goodwill exercise. You seem to place value on certain tasks or material, while they probably place value on the time they spent talking to you, whether you used the results of those discussions or not.

      If it was explicitly set up as a transaction with fairly specific deliverables, then we’re talking about sponsored posts that haven’t been paid for (even if the “pay” was in time or favors).

      If the deliverables were ideas or language that you already have and can still use, you could tell them something like, “Since I didn’t hear from you in the startup phase, I refrained from using your contribution. If you’d like to take up the sponsorship option, I will use that material now. Agreed?”

      If they were supposed to perform some task or you can’t use the material anymore, you could tell them, “I’m so glad you still want to be involved! Since I didn’t hear from you in the startup phase, I had to make other arrangements to cover the contributions you offered. I’d be happy to give you space – let’s talk about how you can contribute at this point.”

      However, if they didn’t agree to anything specific up front, they probably feel that they already “paid” for the posts by taking time to have those discussions with you. And if that’s the case, I agree with others that future goodwill is a good investment.

      1. CBH

        I like your wording on asking for help. I think I will include that when corresponding with them.

        The industry I was setting up the group for has a lot of sub industries, some of which I have never worked in. From the ghosted contacts, I was basically wanted to get a better overview of the sub industry and to brainstorm a few topics (even if general) that could be discussed in the group. I was looking to do this over a cup of coffee.

        I was very clear that in exchange for helping me they could do a personal post. Unfortunately, I did not specify the definition of help.

        I can see where my opinion in the comments above is flip flopping/ backpeddling a bit. I just don’t want to burn any bridges personally, professionally or networking wise. I liked your suggestion in wording things in that it reminds them that they agreed to help in some capacity in exchange for their personal post. However as others have pointed out technically they did help me. I will allow them to post but hopefully can get them to meet up to further discuss or if they would like to do something such as monitor a discussion.

    8. Tina

      I’m a little confused. If you’re running this site, and it’s successful now, and they want to advertise their businesses on your site, why wouldn’t you be charging them? I have no idea what the industry is or how you are monetizing the site but shouldn’t you have a policy on how you handle companies wanting to advertise? This by the way has nothing to do with them ghosting you – clearly you should have some uniform response or ask to companies that want to advertise on your site now that it’s up and running and you don’t need the “exposure.”

      1. CBH

        it’s a small site – about 150 members. As a site rule I tell people this is just for discussions. There are opportunities to post personal posts throughout the year (such as a advertisement for your company) but it’s not a daily thing. I agree that this is growing faster than I thought and I do need to set some sort of rules for advertising.

        1. Trisha

          Another option would be to say something along the lines of, “I welcome your contributions to the site. To manage the posts and ensure that each is read and given attention, I am moderating the frequency with which these types of advertisements are posted. Consideration is being given first to those organizations (or people) who provided extensive assistance in the launch of the site. If you provide me with your post by XX date, I’ll be happy to include it.”

          This allows you both include their work (no bridges burned) but articulate why you aren’t posting their stuff right away. Make sure that those people who did help you out are recognized first; minor contributors (or at least people who you did speak with) should be thanked/rewarded secondary. While you don’t want to burn your bridge with these people, rewarding those who did help you should be a priority.

  4. Detective Amy Santiago

    Been at my new job for 3 months now. Supervisor told me yesterday that I’m doing great and we talked about some potential other projects I can take on since my current workload is fairly light.

    Thank you so much to Alison and all the commenters here for the wonderful advice and support this past year during my search!

  5. MagicToilet

    Can we talk about US labor laws, y’all?
    Just kidding. For the first time, I have a sit/stand desk! For those of you that have one: how much time do you stand vs sit during a long day of point, click, and typing?

    1. Corky's Wife Bonnie

      It depends actually. I have a lower back issue, so I stand when it starts to hurt, and I sit when I start to get stiff. I’d say I probably stand a bit more than I sit, about 60/40. I love it though, my back improved immensely since I’ve been using the desk.

    2. Anon!

      I recently got one as well- I’ve had it for a couple months and love it! At first I downloaded a widget to remind me to stand for 20 minutes (and then sit for 40). That grew old pretty quickly but it helped me ease into things. Definitely noticed more fatigue (esp in my back) when working out those first few weeks. Now, I usually stand for anywhere from 30 min to over an hour at a time and then sit as long as I feel like in between (usually 15-30 min). Some days if I’m tired or not feeling well I stand substantially less. I haven’t invested in an anti-fatigue mat but will put one foot on my footrest or sometimes put my foot on the seat of my chair behind me when I’m standing. Hope you love your desk too!

    3. seahorsesarecute

      I’ve had one for about 5 months now. I asked for it because of some low back pain that would get worse just from sitting. I’ve found that if I stand about an hour in the morning and an hour again in the afternoon, I go home with no low back pain. I’ve also found that there are some tasks my brain can’t seem to do standing, so I just have to save those for sitting times.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?

        Im in a similar boat to the point where I head to the gym right after work to get the kinks out and stretch before going home. We just got standing desk options at work (we hot desk), but I was concerned that standing would just cause different back pain. I really like this idea of breaking up the standing throughout the day – will give it a try!

    4. Mlergh

      I have one! But I’m very bad at actually using it. Piggybacking off of OP, does anyone has any recommendations for building the standing-at-your-standing-desk habit? I’ve tried alarms and notifications on my computer, but I always tell myself I’ll do it in five minutes because doing it now will “break my stride” (total cop out, I know).

      1. Nessun

        I’m in the exact same boat! Don’t use my sit/stand desk nearly as much as I know I could/”should”. I’d love to hear people’s suggestions for building the habit.

      2. fish feud

        I find that if I start the day standing, I stand for more of the day, or sometimes the whole day. If my desk is raised when I walk in the morning, I won’t bother lowering it, and barely even think about it until maybe 3pm when I start to get tired.

          1. Research assistant

            Same here – every day at COB I raise it so in the morning i stand automatically

      3. Tmarie

        I’m looking for this type of reminder information as well. I have a Varidesk, and rarely use it, but need to!

      4. Anon!

        I take all calls standing- if you have longer phone calls/conference calls throughout the week, this could be a good way to get started! I also leave (or put) it in standing position at the end of the day so I start off my day standing. I sit for lunch and then raise it after. I also used to remind myself to raise it if I left my office to get water or something like that- then I’d just automatically stand when I came back (for a bit, at least!).

      5. CW

        I usually start my day sitting (because morning, coffee, waking up, etc) and work through my emails, top priorities, etc. Once I’m through my coffee, and I’ve returned the mug to the kitchen or gotten up to wash it, I come back and raise my desk to stand until lunch. Since that’s a natural break for me anyways, it’s easy to just raise the desk back. Usually this means I am sitting for about an hour in the mornings before I start standing.

        Post lunch, I’ll start off standing – I typically feel more alert when I’m standing so the post lunch itis doesn’t start to come in. Depending on how I’m feeling, I usually stand for the rest of the day, or I stand until the mid afternoon and end the day sitting. This usually works out to something like 75/25 or 60/40 standing, depending on how I’m feeling that day.
        I work from home full time and have a Fully Jarvis, with a fatigue mat and standard chair for sitting.
        Also side note, does anyone else stand like a flamingo when they’re working? I tuck one foot up on my knee and bang out emails. It oddly feels very comfortable.

      6. Teapot Tester

        This is me too. I tend to use it after lunch, usually when I notice my butt getting numb from sitting too long.

        Our sit/stand desks kind of suck though, if you put any pressure on it, it lowers, and apparently I lean a lot when using the mouse. When I notice I’m constantly raising it up again, I realize it’s time to sit.

        1. CW

          Ugh that’s awful. Usually there’s a locking mechanism so that you can lock it in place but if you don’t have that I can see it really being a safety hazard!
          Do you have any choice in the type of desks you guys get?

      7. SavannahMiranda

        I find using my desk in sitting mode more difficult now, which reminds me to stand.

        If I have to crank on something, really bang out some draft language and document assembly, it’s now easier to type while standing. So I pop my desk into standing mode.

        When sitting my keyboard is now in a semi-awkward raised location, about elbow height. Workable (I’m typing on it now) but not preferable for really banging out the work. But not uncomfortable enough or un-ergonomic enough to fight with the platform. Just enough to remind me to stand.

    5. Linda L

      We moved offices in June of this year, and had stand/sit desks at our new location. I actually have never used my chair once since we’ve been here. I sit for lunch and meetings only. I’m the only one in the office who does this, most sit all day or stand for an hour at most. I asked an ergonomic expert who visited about this and she said as long as I’m not feeling fatigued to just do whatever I’m comfortable with. I just prefer standing.

    6. KX

      It turns out, I prefer standing, too. Our office switched to all convertible desks, and I was surprised that I was one of the perpetual standers. I don’t get tired from it, either, but sometimes I do sit when I really have to concentrate.

    7. CS Rep by Day, Writer by Night

      I sit most of the day. I would never use a standing desk as standing for extended periods of time actually hurts my back, whereas I never experience pain from sitting.

      1. New Job So Much Better

        Hurts my lower back to stand for any length of time. And when I sit, the monitors are too high on the standing desk and I end up with shoulder pain.

    8. PDXJael

      I usually use mine when working on mundane tasks that I’d be easily distracted away from (it’s easier to stay focused when I’m not just chillin’ in my chair mindlessly reading another AAM posts…). Also, I bought a cheapy balance board for under my desk. I LOVE IT. It helps prevent fatigue in my feet and legs because they are moving rather than static.

    9. Jadelyn

      I mostly sit, maybe two or three times a day I’ll change it to standing for 15 or 20 minutes. I really should do more, but tbh I have to be working on something that is relatively light in terms of concentration required while I’m standing – I tend to lean on my desk and stare at stuff when I’m trying to work out tough problems, which is not particularly feasible while I’m standing up.

    10. The Tin Man

      I usually stand for the first 1-2 hours of the day. After that I’ll usually stand another 1-2 hours later in the day if I’m feeling good or antsy, though that habit has died.

      I always set it to “stand” when I leave though, so it is waiting for me that way when I get in.

    11. Qwerty

      I highly recommend easing into use of the standing desk! When I had one, I used it for 2-3 times a day for 20min the first week, then increased the usage each week. The coworkers who were tempted to go full force standing for most of the day working up to ended up being in pain after a couple days and never using the standing part again (same goes for yoga ball chairs)

      How much I used mine depended on how much of my work I could do while standing up. Generally I’d use it for 1-2 hours in the morning and for another hour mid-afternoon to counteract the post-lunch slump

    12. cherylblossom

      Ladies with sit/stand desks – what kind of shoes do you wear when you are standing? I just got a sit/stand but am finding my work shoes not a viable option for standing more than 15 min at a time. I wear fairly practical work shoes (no heels, mainly flats, sometimes oxfords) so am surprised by this and also have an anti-fatigue mat.

      1. Corky's Wife Bonnie

        If I am wearing shoes that aren’t the most supportive, I keep a pair of Dansko chef’s clogs under my desk to use when I’m standing. I can easily slip them on and off.

      2. Daughter of Ada and Grace

        Today I’m wearing a pair of Mary Jane style shoes from Clark’s. I’ve also worn athletic shoes (we have a casual office). I haven’t had my desk long enough to try with any of my other shoes. It’ll probably be a couple of weeks until I do – I’m recovering from a knee injury so there are a lot of shoes I’m not currently wearing.

        On the bright side, the standing doesn’t appear to be any worse for my knee than any of my other normal activities (and is still easier than stairs).

    13. Goya de la Mancha

      Have one, love it.

      How I spend my time completely depends on what my workload is for that day. Computer work usually has me standing for at least half the day. If I’m working with papers then I’m generally sitting.

    14. Daughter of Ada and Grace

      I got mine this week! (Well, last Friday afternoon.)

      I find I’m standing about a third of the time. More likely to use it in the morning, and more likely to use it when I’m writing code. If I’m trying to analyze something, or read something, I’m more likely to sit.

      I’ve already found that I really need to keep my core engaged while standing to keep my posture appropriate, which is probably good for me. I also fidget differently when I’m standing versus when I’m sitting, and I’m less likely to twist myself into a pretzel (which I will do while sitting, no matter the surface).

      I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the anti-fatigue mat when I switch between sitting and standing. I don’t like to have my chair on the mat, but it’s annoying to move the mat back and forth when I change. Definitely keeping the mat, though.

    15. SavannahMiranda

      I just got one too, aren’t they great!

      Reluctant joiner here. Having worked many years in retail and service, I would have cried good tears at any of those positions if I was given chance to sit down at my jobs. It seems the definition of a certain kind of privilege to me that us white collar workers are actually flocking to stand up at our desks, and having our companies pay very good money for fancy contraptions to do it. Darkly hilarious. Satirical.

      I finally got a standing desk and I am quite shocked and chastened that I love it.

      I stand and sit about 50 / 50. When my feet hurt, I sit down! It’s probably the fact that I can sit, that it’s a choice, that makes the standing desk not so laughable.

      I got it for purposes of focus, and running back and forth on print jobs. I simply focus better standing. Damnit. I hate it but I do. When it’s a focus project, I stand up.

      And every few days I have complex print jobs on multiple paper stocks with color, duplex, special enclosures, and a bunch of variations that make a person crazy. Sitting down, printing, standing up, running to the printer, coming back, sitting down, printing, and standing up again got reallllly old. I figured if I have to do this I should just stay standing until the print jobs are done. It really does help.

  6. Clorinda

    I am partway through the school district’s mandatory video training program and just came here to let everyone know: it’s called Safety Awareness and Prevention, which makes me laugh a little bit. Have a great weekend!

    1. CBE

      Please do share with us exactly what we need to do to prevent safety, now that we are aware of it.

      1. Clorinda

        Essentially it boils down to, let the custodians clean up all the blood, and never be in a room alone with a student. Something about ladders, but I dozed off for a minute.

        1. Lora

          If you walk under them it’s very bad luck, because it’s bad luck to have a maintenance guy drop a wrench, wire dikes or paint cans on your head.

        2. Quackeen

          Police officer: Detective, we found a pool of the killer’s blood in the hallway!

          Detective: Hmm, gross! Mop it up. Now, then. Back to my hunch

          /john mulaney

        3. Annie Moose

          Oooh do you have to watch videos on blood-borne pathogens?? That’s the “favorite” of the teachers in my family.

          1. Clorinda

            Just finished blood-borne pathogens, now on to staff-to-staff sexual harassment … It’s a long day of four hours of poorly acted video with occasional quizzes randomly inserted to make sure we pay attention. It’s running on a different window so I’m just listening and hanging out here.

            1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

              Be sure you learn how to sexually harass your coworkers correctly.

                1. Clorinda

                  wow, I just realized that might come off sounding like a complaint about Pay No Attention’s comment, which is not what I meant at all–so sorry, I’m a little woozy from all these videos! I meant to say that the videos really focus on social media and creepy text messages.

                2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

                  You’re good.

                  Creepy text messages ARE in style. But part of that, I think, is you really have to know your audience before trying to be witty in text. Tone and facial expressions add a lot to the context of words and when they are absent, what’s meant to be funny or sarcastic might come across as creepy or threatening.

          2. Quill

            My mother has to recertify every so often. She comes home, puts on a mock terrified face, and tells me “Don’t touch blood!”

            This was extra funny when I worked with biosamples.

        4. Anonymosity

          Just make sure no black cats walk under them. You might fall off if you’re climbing down hastily to pet the kitty.

      2. Auntie Social

        And I was unaware that we needed to prevent safety. Tells you how much I need to see that training video!

      1. TGIFTGIF

        My Mother was a first grade teacher for many years. This reminds me of a mangled sentence in a memo she received before a scheduled tornado drill one year… Students will no longer be required to protect their books with their heads.

        1. MagicToilet

          Are you sure that was a mistake? Books are expensive, people keep making children.

          It reminds me of a memo that went out a few years ago at work about appropriate casual clothing in the workplace. It ended with something like “If you’re not sure if you should wear something, don’t.” I never took them up on the instruction to wear nothing, as the office is too cold to go naked.

        2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

          Although to be fair they don’t say the children should stop protecting their books — just not with their head. Heads aren’t protective enough — they should hug them closely to their torso.

    2. SoCalHR

      Its like when everyone calls it “sexual harassment training” – you know, if you’re going to harass someone, we want you to be trained properly! (And of couree its actually “sexual harassment PREVENTION training”)

      1. Climber

        I had to take training that was about how to spot and respond to racist or abusive situations (training for a college campus). They didn’t want to offend anyone so they had scenarios of people talking but instead of people they used dinosaurs. And the dinosaurs had little talking bubbles that had random inoffensive images in them. So in one scene a dinosaur was saying something racist about a pineapple. I think.
        It was amusing and made for more interesting training.

        1. General Ginger

          That actually sounds like a video I’d be able to pay attention to just because of the novelty and the weirdness. What a great idea!

        2. Anonymosity

          Hahaha, I would like that one. Usually it’s really bad actors squeezing women’s shoulders. In one I saw, a guy in a break room setting was making suggestive remarks about a banana. I knew I was supposed to take it seriously, but I could hardly keep from giggling like mad, it was so stupid.

      2. Specialk9

        I had a friend who volunteered with a counter-human trafficking nonprofit. She was taking or giving training frequently, but she always left the “counter” part out.
        “I had the longest human trafficking training yesterday!”
        “So now you’re adept at it?”

        I felt kinda guilty because it was really noble work, but I couldn’t resist the joke.

      3. blackcat

        See, I’ve been to such a training that really was a training. It was basically a lesson in how to sexually harass without it breaking the law and/or get caught. The university is aiming to minimize it’s liability, I think.

  7. Anon Today

    TLDR; how do I tell my boss that I’m not interested in taking on an additional responsibility? At least not without appropriate compensation.

    My coworker put in her two weeks – she had a specialized skill set, and I (along with another coworker) have been asked if we are interested in taking that on. Just on the face of it, it’s something I’m not particularly interested in. Additionally, it requires certification (training is provided), liability, continuing education. It’ll look good on my resume, but it’s also not something I want to be stuck doing as a primary responsibility. I don’t mind doing it as part of a rotation with others.

    So, any good scripts for letting my boss know I’m not sure this is for me, that want to help (but only as part of a rotation), and can’t commit without revisiting compensation?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      It doesn’t sound like your boss is being adamant that you take it on, so I’d simply start with “Thank you for thinking of me, but I’m not interested in going through that training and taking it on as a new responsibility.”

      If boss pushes back, then you could say something like “This would be a fairly significant increase in responsibility that doesn’t seem commensurate with my current salary.”

      1. Anon today

        My boss and her boss both sat me down to discuss it, so it definitely seemed like more than “are you interested?” I’ve only been here 4 months so I just don’t want to rock the boat!

        1. Nessun

          That could be a good building block for the conversation then – “Thank you for thinking of me, but I’m not interested in taking further training at this time, as I am still growing comfortable with my current workload and your expectations.” Maybe you could mention that you’re open to re-examining the ask further down the road (if you are).

        2. Havarti

          I guess they’re not open to hiring a replacement? When you started, was there any indication during the interview or after that what your departing coworker does would land in your lap? If not, I think it’s fair to say “When I started here, I was hoping to do XYZ, not ABC. I’d be happy to help out with ABC but I would need guidance on how to prioritize my responsibilities. If you want me to take it on top of my existing duties, is there an opportunity for a raise after successfully completing certification?” Or something. How long would you like to stay at this job? Would it be worth it to have it on your resume for a future job down the road? Would you and other coworker split the duties? Have you talked to the other person that was asked?

    2. Thlayli

      Two ways to put it:
      1 I’m not interested thanks for thinking of me but it’s not my cup of tea
      2 I would be interested but it depends on how much the pay rise would be.

      Note that in 2 you are not asking IF there is a pay rise, you are assuming you are being offered a chance to apply for the job, including a pay rise. If he says “oh there’s no pay rise” then you go straight to option 1 “in that case I’m not interested thanks”

    3. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      Depending on your relationship with your boss, I think that your last sentence is just fine, “I want to help, but only as part of a rotation and taking it on as a primary job duty. But if this is going to be a required part of the job going forward and I will be expected to get trained and certified, I would like to talk about a pay increase.”

    4. Zennish

      Sounds to me like “We’re going to dump ex-coworkers duties on you, but we’d feel much better if we pretended we gave you a choice and you agreed to it”. Every time I’ve had a boss ask “Are you interested in taking this on?” It’s meant “You are interested in taking this on.”

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yeah, I was thinking about that also.
        “Since that will require certification, continuing ed and such which means an increase in responsibility. I think that increase in responsibility should be reflected in my pay.”

        In other words, you’re going to make me do this, so pay me.

      2. SavannahMiranda

        Ah ha, the good ole “voluntold.”

        Depending on the workplace culture, OP may be getting voluntold to take this on.

    5. AliceW

      I realize every industry and company is different but the way to get promoted in many large corporations and to obtain larger pay raises and bigger bonuses is to volunteer to take on more responsibility, even things you don’t want to do (within reason of course). It shows you want to take on more responsibility and have created capacity by being super efficient in your current job. And after you take on extra work and if you demonstrate excellence, a good company will reward you. It seems like it rarely happens that you get a raise for taking on more responsibility at something until after you’ve demonstrated you can handle that responsibility. That said, there are crappy companies who do not recognize your extra workload and obviously if it is something you have absolutely no interest in doing even if they paid you a lot more, then you can feel free to decline.

      1. Not a Dr

        It’s nice that you have had experiences where bosses notice or reward you for taking on more tasks. In north America at least that is very rare!

  8. Multitudinous

    I need a conversational script or something to help with a coworker who constantly interrupts me to make jokes at my expense. Sometimes this will be in a casual conversation, i.e., “Sorry my phone started playing music at my desk this morning, I was listening to it on the way to work and-” “You call that music? I thought there was a dying cat in here!”
    But other times it’s in a more serious work conversation, i.e. “I was thinking it would streamline the process to send this year’s llama reports directly to grooming instead of-” “Remember when you went to the grooming office looking for HR? Ha ha!”
    I’m always flustered when this happens and I don’t know if I should laugh at the jokes, try to think up a snappy comeback, or just plow through. Sometimes the joke derails the conversation enough that the group has completely forgotten whatever I was trying to say. I can try to live with it in casual conversations, but it’s more of a problem during work discussions. This coworker and I are 2 members in a 3 person team and in a small office overall, so avoiding them isn’t really an option, and they don’t seem to do this to anyone else. I just want to get through a conversation without being interrupted and laughed at.

    1. Clorinda

      Silent frowning stare, followed by, “As I was saying..” (and everyone can mentally fill in the “before I was so rudely interrupted” on their own. And don’t ever, ever laugh.

      1. samiratou

        Yeah, I was going to go with “confused look, shake head slightly “so, anyway….” but same concept.

    2. Reba

      I agree with Clorinda that a big part of this is mastering your flustered-ness. Stony stare, then continue. That sounds so difficult and also strange.

      Depending on your relationship with the person, I also think it would be worth a conversation where you point out the pattern of derailing–without assigning any motivations, staying neutral and friendly–and ask him to stop and/or let you get to the end of your sentences when you are working. He will quite possibly not appreciate the feedback, so again, don’t get flustered. Feel free to say, yeah, sure, you’re right, I’m no fun and I don’t have a sense of humor when I’m trying to talk about Work Topic.

      So then when it happens in future you can say, “see, this is an example of the thing we talked about.” Or, “you’re interrupting me again.”

      Hope you see some changes.

    3. OtterB

      Don’t laugh at the “jokes” unless they hit on something you actually think is funny.

      In the work example you gave, I’d try responding with a blank look (“Why would you ask that?”) and immediately go back to what you were saying, with or without an explicit acknowledgement of the interruption. So either after the blank look and a beat of silence, continue “I think it would streamline the process to send this year’s llama reports directly to grooming, what do you think?” Or say “That doesn’t have anything to do with my question. I think it would streamline the process…”

      This could also work in casual conversation if there’s some place for the conversation to go. In the example you gave, I think you could just shrug and say, “Different tastes” and then continue to a work topic, or just back to work.

    4. Thosetaxreturnswontfilethemselves

      +1 co-worker is rude. Don’t ever laugh. If people try to do this to me, I typically give a surprised annoyed look, and say “anyway” and start speaking again.

      I usually give a look similar to if you saw a co-worker eat something out of the trash, like okay, you do you, but I am not going to pretend I didn’t just seem something very out of the ordinary.

    5. Notthemomma

      Stop all speech. Pause, look at them directly in the eye with your head slightly cocked to one side. Blink three times, then turn away and resume exactly where you left off.
      It acknowledges that they are the center of attention they so desperately want to be, while not verbally engaging or giving them an ‘I was just joking’ opening. If they do say something to that effect, reply with “oh?” Slight confusion in your voice and resume.

      1. Jules the 3rd

        Notthemomma: I love that you’ve got such specific guidelines for the time – that’s actually helpful to me.

        Multitudinous:
        +1 to the ‘Do Not Laugh’
        Since he’s doing this to you, and not to others, you naturally want to figure out why, thinking that’ll help solve it. It won’t really – the actions everyone is suggesting here cover all the reasons. Focus on his actions not motivations.

    6. Rusty Shackelford

      “Interruption.”

      Pause. Confused stare. “Okay.” Continue as if you weren’t interrupted.

    7. Camellia

      My husband is this guy. Most people love him; in fact, we just came from a doctor’s visit and when the PA came in she said, “Aw, my favorite, you always cheer me up!” But sometimes it does interfere. I had a talk with him a long time ago and explained that sometimes this “impedes the process”, and we agreed that I could call him out if this was the case. And I do literally say, in a kindly manner, “You are impeding the process.” and he says, aw, you’re right, and then things go quicker from there.

      Can you have a similar chat with this guy and agree on a key phrase like “Let’s stay focused,” or some such, to signal him when he needs to shut up and, you know, stay focused?

      1. Multitudinous

        When you said “most people love him,” I realized that’s a similar thing to what’s happening here. Most people really like this guy, so I feel even more awkward addressing it and being the wet blanket. I tend toward RBF anyway, so being the one who shuts down the jokes on top of that…

        1. Clorinda

          He can make jokes at his own expense if he’s so funny. And do most people really like this guy because of his sense of humor or in spite of it? If you think he’s a reasonable person, then by all means try the private conversation first, and then, go with the nuclear RBF.

        2. Quinalla

          I too would talk to him about it when work is involved, when it’s socializing, I’d probably mostly give it a pass unless he’s doing it A LOT, but for work, he’s just derailing the conversation so much.
          I’d go with the “Anyway, as I was saying…” and don’t laugh, but I wouldn’t act too stony at least at first as yeah, that comes off as too cold as a woman. If he keeps doing it, I’d get cooler and then cold and call him out more explicitly “Why do you keep interrupting me?” “Stop interrupting me.” as reasonable people will understand you gave him a chance to cut it out. It’s always fun to try and balance being too cold and too warm as a woman in the workplace, isn’t it!?

        3. MusicWithRocksInIt

          If you are uncomfortable calling him out on the joking just make it about the interrupting. Not liking to be interrupted is universal. Next time he does it just ask him not to interrupt you when you are speaking. Just a plain, straightforward “Guy, please don’t interrupt me when I’m speaking.” Then call it out every. single. time. he. does. it. “Guy, you interrupted me again, please don’t do that. Try to sound as calm and matter of fact as you can. “Guy, I’ve asked you several times today not to interrupt when I’m speaking.” Other people will realize he is the one crossing lines. Even try “Guy, when you interrupt me it usually derails our conversation about work that I need to have with you. Can you please focus until we get work issues resolved?”

          1. SavannahMiranda

            I like this. A lot. It circumvents the red herring of whether the jokes at OP’s expense are ‘funny’, and it entirely sidesteps questions of whether this is latent aggression or oblivious stupidity in the person’s behavior. This approach doesn’t get mired down in either of those things at all! No armchair diagnosis. No opinions about humor. Simply a factual focus on the acts themselves. Her approach can be “stop interrupting” or it can be stony stare, either way the agenda is “stop interrupting me” and there are no other points on the agenda to get dragged into. This is perfect.

        4. samiratou

          Ugh, if everyone loves him it does make it a bit harder than if he were the office blowhard that people roll their eyes at, anyway. It sucks that you could come off looking as the bad guy shutting his shit down, but there you are.

          I revise my statement above from confused look to “very brief, tight smile and continue talking as though he said nothing”

          Or, if he tends to make his comments on the same topics, come up with a few snappy comebacks you could use before continuing with what you were saying.

        5. Library Land

          I was horrified when I realized my husband is this guy. He has no clue, he just wants everyone to be happy and at ease. He doesn’t realize that it’s hurtful and not always welcome (evident by the fact that when I do it to him, he gets upset).

          I also had to do this with my boss who thought of it as good-natured teasing but had no clue that he was doing every half-hour to hour. If you feel comfortable enough, pull him aside and say something, like “Hey, I don’t know if you notice but every time I come in you make a joke at my expense. That’s a lot, can we take it down or stop those all together? Or even just joke about subjects that are not me?”

          1. Not So NewReader

            This is why I find it hard to believe everyone likes OP’s cohort. Nobody likes being the butt of a joke over and over and over.

          2. Lissa

            I think that sometimes it can actually be really helpful to point out that a particular interaction is happening a lot. I once had to say to a coworker (we’re both women) “Hey, do you realize that every time you see me you make a comment about my appearance?” She sort of cringed and said “always negative?” and I was like “yup” and she apologised. I also recently did this to a guy who had said to me, two or three times “I have no sympathy for you!” when we were discussing various work frustrations (of which his were worse by many standards, but it was a “shooting the shit” type conversation and just felt kinda mean).

          3. Gumby

            A couple of times I have had jokes that I thought were “in jokes” between me and a friend / sibling – “remember that time when” and to me those were things that showed I knew her well, remembered our long association, and the thing I was referring to was a small peccadillo and didn’t reflect badly on her. I’d reference them from time to time (like maybe once a year at most). Until the person had a mini-blow-up at me. And I totally get it. It bugged them, so I stopped.

            I absolutely want to know if I am doing something that annoys you or if you feel I’m speaking badly of you. But I’d also appreciate it a lot more if you said something when it was a small annoyance rather that yell at me when you reach boiling point. I had NO IDEA it bugged either person. Neither had ever said anything to me about it.

            1. Marthooh

              These people did something stupid and you’re still bringing it up years later? Yeah, that’s annoying. From now on, if you want to reference an inside joke, make it about your own peccadilloes.

        6. LF

          As a fellow “Wet Blanket,” I just had to reply to say- UUUUGGGH! We have one of these, too, and he bugs the crap out of me.

          I like all thr advice here, especially giving him a neutral-to-negative look (e.g., blinking, confusd expression) then getting back to the conversation.

          I want to emphasize: don’t try to come up with some snappy reply to the “joke.” If you’re like me at all, you’ll just end up flustered, cranky, and the center of negative attention!

        7. ..Kat..

          But, do they really love him? Or are they just laughing nervously? This kind of thing may be funny in small doses (or if you aren’t trying to get something done), but it quickly gets old and annoying.

      2. SavannahMiranda

        That’s a wholllle lotta emotional labor for a workplace class clown. It’s a really good solution with your husband. That sounds like a great win-win in that arena. You guys sound healthy for each other.

        I love my partner too and may occasionally choose to do tons of emotional labor for him, including acting as a hidden radar system that alerts him to his egregiousness in an inoffensive and ego-protective way.

        But coworkers? Especially a coworker who only targets me with this behavior? Nah. Not so much. No requirement, or attendant payoff, for preserving a clown’s ego.

    8. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

      I would get her by herself and say: “You know, I really don’t think the jokes and snide remarks are appropriate–in general but especially when I’m/we’re discussing work. I would appreciate it if you would refrain from doing it. Ok. Thank you.” Be prepared for her to say you can’t take a joke. If she does, then say “I love jokes, but not snide remarks and insults. “

      1. Catwoman

        +1 for this. I think the stare/non-response and continuing are great for an in-the-moment reaction, but you should also pull this person aside and have the private conversation as well. This also puts her ‘on notice’, so to speak so that if the behavior continues you can respond with a more direct, ‘Delores, we’ve talked about this. Please stop interrupting me.’

      2. SavannahMiranda

        +1 too. There’s also the closing method recommended by Captain Awkward. “No, I can’t take a joke. Stop interrupting me in work conversations.” Or “Nope I have no sense of humor! Don’t interrupt me at work.”

        In other words, it prevents being baited by a bait-loving person into ridiculous dignity losing back and forths about who can and can’t take a joke and other drivel. It takes the wind out of their sails. While enforcing them boundary.

        And it tells them their their opinion about your sense of humor, or whatever the topic may be, means pffft to you. It puts the uselessness of their accusation in perspective as exactly the meaningless childish comment that it is. It doesn’t even warrant a conversation.

      3. Specialk9

        I’m fascinated that you read the co-worker as female and I was so certain the pronoun was male. But nope, carefully neutral. I feel like people don’t generally laugh when women make that kind of jokes, but they do for men, and I’ve known several men like this but no women. Always good for me to check assumptions.

    9. LilySparrow

      This is like trying to have an adult conversation with kids around.

      It works well for me to hold up one finger and keep talking like you didn’t hear him. Then when you’ve finished your thought, turn to the interruptor and say, “Okay, now, you were saying?”

      That might not fly at the office, but it’s a pretty effective training method.

      1. Formerly Arlington

        I was just going to suggest this! Or kind of what you do when you’re at a meeting and there’s a loud ambulance outside— pause briefly and keep going. Treating this as more than a momentary irritation gives it too much power and encourages this class clown type to engage further.

    10. Lora

      If he is in his 70s and still not retired, is his name Ren? Cause he sounds like my uncle.

      Yeah, what others have said, just have an uncomfortable silence and redirect. He won’t ever get tired of it though, I think my uncle still hasn’t gotten over his “if that’s The Cure I’d hate to see the disease!” joke about the Robert Smith poster on my bedroom wall in college.

      I also favor the following responses:
      -Fake-smile, pause. “Are you enjoying yourself? Good, I’m glad you’re entertaining yourself.”
      -Fake-smile. “Thanks for coming in today! Really appreciate your contribution.”
      -“What would we ever do without you? I can’t imagine.”
      -Uncomfortable pause. “Anything else? Are you all set?”
      -Uncomfortable pause. “I just want you to be happy. Are you happy, with yourself? Good, I’m glad I was able to provide some joy in your life. I WANT YOU TO BE HAPPY, BECAUSE I CARE. I hope you know I care.”

      1. Jules the 3rd

        That works socially (I would say, work *gloriously* socially), but professionally, no smile and ‘Please stop interrupting me’ + ‘As I’ve asked before, please stop interrupting me’ are the right responses.

    11. Photographer

      These response ideas would make you look super rude if you said them. Just work on your ability to hold onto your train of thought and continue on. Some people are interrupters—which is bad manners, I get it— but these responses are over the top. A “ha ha, as I was saying” will be smooth and won’t make you look like a wet blanket.

      1. CupcakeCounter

        but why should they have to deal with a coworker making jokes at their expense – this seems to be a pretty good time to be a wet blanket

      2. Zona the Great

        I don’t agree that not looking like a wet blanket should be anyone’s concern when in a professional place.

    12. Agathe_M

      I agree with a lot of the above, but I’m also a very self-deprecating person who is usually the butt of jokes, my own and others, which I rarely mind or take seriously. My entire family is this way; our house is a permanent sitcom, and people who don’t get that sort of humor think we’re all just really mean to each other. In reality, insulting jokes are our love language, so I may have some perspective from your co-worker’s side. (I would be more careful bringing this kind of humor to work, but anyway…)

      If this has been going on for a while, your coworker may honestly not realize that you aren’t enjoying his humor, or think it’s just a bunch of in-jokes that you have. You don’t have to respond harshly right away–if you ‘laugh’ at the jokes, or even just go ‘ha, yeah, anyway, what I was saying’, that’d probably be the easiest option. I mean, yes, he’s being rude, but you’re two of a team of three.

      But to get onto the same page humor-wise, you’ll probably need to talk to him, especially because this happens in work discussions. I’d say something like, “hey, Bill, can I talk to you about something? I’ve noticed that you often interrupt me to make a joke, and, especially when I’m talking about something work-related, I find it pretty jarring. Do you think you could try to cut down on that?”

      I wouldn’t bring up that he’s making you the butt of the joke, although I do get that’s an issue too–but focusing on that first risks framing your request as “you’re being mean” rather than “you do a weird conversational thing”. The second one is easier for people to hear and act on than the first. If you need to, you can add in, “one thing also, I find that a lot of the jokes are about me, and I’m not usually sure how to react to that. What’s that about?” Hopefully, he’s just clueless, and will cut back, and (if he’s generally a good guy) will be mortified that he’s made things awkward. But his reaction to this will help you figure out next steps.

      Like others have said, if you want to try an indirect method before a “can we talk?”, I’ve found that a dead facial expression coupled with a “hmmm” usually conveys, “You said a thing. I heard the thing. The thing was neither interesting nor funny.” But that’s pretty harsh, and depending on your dynamic might be way too cold. (You can add an empty smile in there, if you want to lighten it a little, but still.) It might be better to save this level of response for after the “can we talk?”, if that doesn’t go well.

    13. CupcakeCounter

      This is where everyone needs to perfect The Rock’s eyebrow rise. Mine don’t work that way (unfortunately) so my resting bitch/husband’s in trouble/son what did you do face works pretty well. The key is to stare them down until they pitifully wind themselves down.
      Then follow with the “As I was saying” language below.

      But for real – work on the “why are you talking little adolescent peon” face

    14. EditorInChief

      I had a coworker like that. Straightfaced I would wait for him to finish and then say “Are you done?” then go back to the discussion, “As I was saying….” After a few times with that he stopped doing it. I like it better than saying something like “Please don’t interrupt me”, which leaves it open for him to argue, I’m not interruping you. “Are you done” really shut down the conversation.

      1. ronda

        I second this one… but I am for being a little more direct….. ” are you done interrupting me” , but I can see why you might leave out the part about interrupting.

        This might not be the kind of person who understands the death stares….. you need to use your words.

    15. Camellia

      All the versions of ‘…interrupted me/don’t interrupt me…” sound harsh to me and too much in-your-face.

      I find that looking toward the person and giving a tiny little nod toward them, at the same time saying, in a calm, low-key voice, “Let’s stay focused,” and then continuing with what I am saying, works well. Only if that failed a couple of times would I then start resorting to an ‘interrupt’ script.

      1. ket

        In the same vein, a mini-fake-laugh and “Let’s save the joking around for after the meeting!” with a touch of that preschool teacher tone of voice could redirect back to the work conversation.

    16. Not So NewReader

      Are you female and young and is he older? Or is there just a good age difference, like 20 plus years between the two of you?
      If yes, I hated this crap. It went away when I got older, but still. Condescension to the max.

      I’d ask him why he only talks to you that way and not everyone else.

      In my experience it was older males who did this to me. (I am female.) It was like someone throwing rocks at me, only it was verbal rocks. I got so I had a knot in my stomach every time I had to deal with such a person. One guy pushed too hard. He thought it would be very funny to lock me in the walk-in freezer. I think that was the most angry I have ever been at work. Once I got out of the freezer I let him know in no uncertain terms that he was never, ever to do that to me again. I was so angry that basically the relationship as coworkers was over. He avoided me like the plague.
      Don’t wait until you are beside yourself angry to deal with this crap. And it’s crap, it’s not cutsie, it’s not endearing rather it is just plain crap.

      Perhaps you can enlist your other coworker to help you tell this guy that his jokes at your expense are tired and are so over.
      You might start off easy such as, “Bob, you always crack jokes at my expense. Is that like a nervous tic? Is there some way we can stop doing this?”
      You can build up to, “Bob, there you go again with jokes at my expense. I am asking you to stop.”
      “Bob, why do you not do this with the boss and big bosses?”
      “Bob, I know you are looking for me to laugh, but all your jokes point out my failures. It’s just not that funny.”

      My last card would be, “Bob do you think this is okay to do because of my age/gender? If yes, I think we ought to sit down with the boss and talk about this.” He might stop before you get that far. I ended up being able to handle the worst Mr. Clueless myself and never involving the boss. I think my temper scared him, though.

      1. Specialk9

        Yeah. This just all felt so familiar to me too. There’s something about being female and being/looking young that makes people – older men especially – pull this crap.

        It was actually really reassuring to learn that the “it was just a joke” was so often a self aware ploy. I could see it for the camoflaged weapon it was and not make excuses for them.

        1. only acting normal

          Agree. It was predictably two older men who interrupted me during a presentation I was giving a while back to make fun of 1) the way I was pointing at the slides (?!) and 2) a symbol I’d used in a graphic *that they also use in all their graphics*. I mean WTF?!
          I only read as young these days; I’m actually in my 40s. When I was young this would have derailed me completely, as it was I just gave then a confused look and carried on. (Reason #273 I would never be 20-something again.)

    17. Saskia

      I’m sorry you have to deal with this coworker.

      If they don’t treat other people this way, it seems like you are being bullied.

      If you want to look up snappy comebacks, I hope you may get some suggestions for resources from other posters.
      You might try searching Captain Awkward posts if you haven’t already.

      Please check your workplace policies regarding bullying and harassment, so you know what processes to follow if you try to resolve the ‘joking’ and interruptions without success.

      Start documenting the ‘jokes’ and interruptions so you have concrete examples to refer to. If your employer doesn’t take bullying seriously, you can point to the number of interruptions and derails in meetings that lead to a loss of efficiency.

      The coworker wants you to feel flustered, they are interrupting you and trying to humiliate or embarrass you on purpose. It’s okay that you don’t feel collected and cool as a cucumber – you’re under pressure, what they are doing is designed to make you feel bad.

      I don’t know how coworker will respond to being called out. But if you were prepared to try it, you might speak with them once away from other coworkers, and say something like ‘I notice that you interrupt me and tell a lot of jokes at my expense. It’s not cool, and I want you to stop doing it. I’m not going to play along and pretend it’s fine anymore.’

      If they continue the behaviour, you could try ‘are you finished? as I was saying…’ or ‘Huh. As I was saying…’

      You don’t deserve to be treated this way, it’s not okay, and I hope you have access to effective HR.

  9. RockyRoad

    Was hoping someone involved in HR or recruiting could explain a confusing and weird thing I’m starting to encounter.

    I’ve applied to few jobs where I had to upload a resume and also manually input everything from my resume in a zillion separate fields, and then when I did a phone screen with HR or a recruiter from that company, they wanted me to repeat everything verbally. It sounded like they were retyping everything while we were on the phone.

    Like, they’d ask the following for each job: “So you worked at Teapots Inc for a while? Okay…And you were a Teapot designer there? Alright…And you worked there from March 2014 to December of 2017? Great…And what did you do there? Uh-huh…”

    I’m wondering why they need the same information in three different forms? It seems very inefficient.

    1. nep

      Wow that sounds like it’s got inefficient written all over it, for sure. I’ll be interested in any insights here.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      When I was doing recruiting, we always verified information verbally. A lot of people leave out significant details on their resume/application.

      1. RockyRoad

        Thanks for explaining! It’s very unfortunate that needs to be done. :/ I hate following rules and instructions and then being punished because other people couldn’t. (Like being well behaved in elementary school and the whole class getting punished because a few kids wouldn’t shut up.)

        1. Database Developer Dude

          RockyRoad,
          You hate following rules and instructions, then being punished because others couldn’t? Try being a junior enlisted Soldier in the Army. When I first joined up in active duty, that easily made the top 5 list of my pet peeves, every. single. day.

          1. Specialk9

            It kind of sounds like you’re invalidating their experience by turning it into a competition that you assume you already won.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Can I ask that we stop this kind of chastising of other commenters? There’s been an increasing amount of it lately and it makes the site less pleasant.

    3. Cass

      I’ve worked in multiple applicant tracking systems and have been on the implementation side as well. It allows a company to standardize the way they receive the information and also requires information that may not necessarily be on every resume. For instance we may want to know if the job was full or part time, maybe a resume only listed years at a company instead of months, etc. Is it redundant and a pain in the ass? You bet.

      Personally, I think there’s a balance to be had depending on the type of job being recruited for. Entry level administrative assistant where we can expect a couple hundred applicants? I’d prefer the applicant tracking system. But for a more specialized role where we might only attract a dozen applicants? I’d much rather just get a resume and cover letter.

      1. RockyRoad

        But if they wanted to know if something was part time or full time, wouldn’t that be include in the section where you’re retyping your entire resume? It can’t be that hard to add another field if you already have fields for company name, supervisor, address, phone number, position title, month/year started and ended, job duties, reason for leaving, etc. for each job.

        It seems like it would be easier to just reject anyone who can’t fill out the application correctly rather than having people who filled it out correctly repeat everything over the phone.

    4. MagicToilet

      I can talk to the upload-then-type reasoning. One step is uploading or typing your resume. This document is not necessarily a legal document: you can leave jobs off, maybe do interesting things with dates or company names. The idea is to showcase your best work and why you’re best for the job.

      The application where you have to put data in millions of little places is more for legal reasons. We need complete information so we can do proper pre-employment checks and there’s some laws that the application satisfies that the resume doesn’t.

      From my time in HR, I’ve seen that most of the times we make things repetitive or overly complicated, it’s usually to satisfy some law. Employment law is b-a-n-a-n-a-s.

        1. Natalie

          I don’t think there are specific laws mandating what’s on an application (there are no specific laws mandating applications, in fact), it’s more a legal compliance thing. That is, the company’s attorneys have decided that doing things a certain way is the easiest way for the company to prove that they are following other, related laws.

        2. Jadelyn

          It’s not laws, at least not in all situations, so much as certain CYA habits that have collectively developed.

          Think of it like asking about someone’s marital or family status in an interview. The law only covers *making your hiring decisions* based on those factors – it’s perfectly legal to ask about, you just can’t let those factor in your decision to hire or not hire someone. But if someone makes a claim that you broke that law, and you have to try to convince a labor attorney or judge that you didn’t, it makes it a lot easier if you can say “I couldn’t have made my decision based on that – I didn’t even know they were married/pregnant/living in sin/whatever!” because you never asked the question. Information you don’t have, can’t be held against you as easily. So to cover their butts, employers shy away from even asking the question, and people wind up with the misunderstanding that it’s illegal to ask those questions at all despite there being no law on that topic.

          But I don’t think the redundancy between resume, ATS, and phone screen is like that. Requiring a candidate to fill out a full application form even though we already have your resume, is done for two reasons in my experience: first, to get all the information into a consistent format between candidates. You can make a much fairer comparison between people when their work history is laid out identically side-by-side, versus looking at two different resumes that might have things in different order, or one is just more visually appealing than the other. Putting it all in the application strips away the fancy stuff. It also makes it searchable – keyword searches are a lot more reliable when they’re run against a database than against a word or PDF document, which can trip up keyword searches with formatting or weird OCR on the PDF.

          And second, as Alison reminds us from time to time, a resume is a marketing document. An application form is not. Most applications include a checkbox or verbiage somewhere near the submit button that says “I certify that this information is true and complete” or whatever – which a resume doesn’t have. You can be held accountable for information on an application form more easily than stuff on a resume.

          The phone screen part, though – yeah, that’s kinda dumb. My first question in a phone screen is to ask the candidate to walk me through their resume, but it’s more in the sense of “tell me the stuff that didn’t fit on the resume, and give me a sense of what your career trajectory has been and where you’re trying to go with it.” than just “repeat the dates and titles.”

          1. Binky

            Wait, for the online applications you’re supposed to fill out your entire work history? How far back? I only fill in my permanent positions, none of my internships or short-term work, and nothing prior to grad school. I figured that stuff was just cluttering up my resume and employers had no interest. (I always put it in on background forms and the like, where I’m supposed to fill in a complete work history.) Is the expectation that while filling out application forms you’ll be exhaustive?

            1. Someone else

              It depends. If the form says something like “all” or “complete history”, they probably want that. If it’s more vague, probably not crucial.

            2. Jadelyn

              If the app doesn’t specify, I’d go with perhaps your last 3-5 jobs – depends on how long you were at each. If you’ve done a lot of short stays, I’d try to go back at least 3 years with it even if that means including a bunch of separate places. I wouldn’t include internships, as they’re not employment, but I would include short-term work if it was an employment relationship (ie, not freelancing or independent contractor).

              Like, for me, if I’m filling in an online application I’ve got my current employer (4.5 years), my time with a temp agency doing a variety of things for different companies, but I lump it all under the temp agency because they were my actual employer of record (2 yrs), and my last retail job (8 months because the store closed and we were all laid off). Prior to that I’d had a long break in employment for medical reasons, so I stop there rather than going back to my college jobs. Use your best judgment, basically – but I wouldn’t leave positions out the way you can on a resume, if they were actual jobs that fall within the time period you’re covering.

              1. Database Developer Dude

                I’m 51, been working since I was 16. The last job I applied for before this one (5 years ago, when I was 46)….wanted to list jobs going back to 18, and schools going back to elementary school. Thank GOD for Booz Allen Hamilton. They at least have a saner hiring process.

            3. RockyRoad

              I did a few internships, so when I have to fill out a work history where they’re relevant I’ll add an entry for “Various Internships” and then write out more specific information for each one in the large “list your duties” section. I figure the employer might be interested in knowing I did them, but they’re not important enough to warrant filling out three separate job sections for them.

          2. RockyRoad

            I hadn’t considered that you want all the information in a consistent format to make it easier to compare candidates, to do keyword searches, and to hold people accountable for the information. That makes having to manually enter my whole resume more understandable, as annoying as it can be. Thanks for the insight!

      1. Anon Job Seeker

        Then why are the application forms so poorly thought out and refuse to allow for you to properly enter your information when it doesn’t fit their mold? I am currently job searching for the first time in 5 years and I am senior level (but not c-suite). Last time I looked for a job I was off the market in two weeks. I’ve been following AMA since before I left my last job . This is the first time in my career that I’ve had so much trouble getting an interview. And I’m starting to suspect it’s because my resume doesn’t neatly fit those Jobvite style applications that are so popular now. My degree(s) are almost never included in the drop down list, and manually entering them has rarely been an option. So unless I want it to look like I have a 3 degrees in nothing, I am relegated to choosing “proxy” degrees. Which means I have to lie. I’ve also been forced to change Job titles on many of those systems as well, because apparently they don’t like it when you have a compound job title. I’m starting to think people are coming across my profile, think I’m full of it and then instantly disqualify me.

        Sorry, I’m just so frustrated right now. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve just stopped applying to those jobs because they refuse to allow me to properly enter my information. I’ll have written a cover letter. I’ll get pages into the application, and then I get to the education section and they refuse to acknowledge my education and it feels like it was all for not.

  10. Snarkus Aurelius

    What’s a good way to get out of my big boss’s monthly “voluntary” book club events? Every month, the club has to read a management book of his choosing — a genre I already hate because the bulk of the advice is aimed at white men in positions of power. (I’m neither.) I’ve been skipping out, but my immediate boss wants me to start attending in an act of good faith.

    Here’s why I don’t go:

    * Despite loving these books, my boss pretty much does whatever he wants. This approach has caused a lot of damage and alienated a lot of people.

    * I’m underpaid in comparison to my counterparts. Not by a lot, but enough to make me job hunt.

    * Our office has terrible support services — namely IT and accounting. Those two departments make my life ten times more difficult. They are consistently ranked lowed in internal surveys year after year yet nothing is done.

    * If my boss is confused or has a question about something, he never asks me. He will go ask the (usually) men at his old job instead.

    * There are a number of bad apples the big boss was supposed to take care of when he was hired, but nothing has changed. Those people continue to cause lots of damage.

    So, yeah, I’m not interested in spending any more time with him than I have to. I’ve never been to these book club events, but I’ve heard what’s supposed to be a discussion is just him talking.

    My immediate boss knows how I feel, but I’m not sure she cares.

    Oh and I’d take my laptop and phone to these things and do other work, but big boss banned those devices in meetings. (Thanks management books!)

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      Are they going to give you time on the clock to read the book? If so, then I’d say do it. If not, “sorry, I won’t have time to read the book before the meeting.”

    2. MuseumChick

      I would be tempted to have some (professional fun) with this. Like, you read book A that is geared towards white men in power and then processed to make the entire book club meeting mildly awkward for those in that demographic. Saying things in a neutral tone like: “The authors says X but as we all that disproportionately favors white men for Y reasons so I found myself really disagreeing with that section of the book.”

      1. Snarkus Aurelius

        I’m tempted to do so. I’ve read some of this management advice. It’s totally ridiculous and tone deaf.

        One CEO said something like, “Oh I never hire someone I don’t like. Always surround yourself with employees who do good work AND you get along with.” Um, I don’t hire my coworkers. I get what I get. Also likeability penalizes women more than men, but I guess you don’t have that problem.

        Another bit of advice, “If two employees are having issues with each other, always have it out. It’s healthy and productive.” Well my boss can be terrible, but I’ll be sure to let him know that to his face. Also that passive aggressive coworker next door? She’ll never, ever admit she has a problem with me to my face.

        I especially loved this one, “Always take vacation every year. Vacation time needs to be mandatory.” I love that this guy thinks paid vacation leave is something everyone AND can use freely. I’m pretty sure 100% of workers would take PTO of their own free will if they could. They certainly don’t need to be reminded.

        1. MuseumChick

          OMG. This guy has no clue. Me being selfish here: PLEASE go to this books club and and (professional) kick some ass and report back to us.

          Off topic: If you haven’t, I highly recommend watching GLOW on Netflix. *Spoilers ahead!*

          Particularly the second season there is a great episode where one of the female wrestlers, because she comes from some money and her husband is a lawyer, is able to push back on a contract each woman has to sign that is pretty unfair to them but none of the others think to have lawyer look at it. As a result she becomes a producer of the wrestling show. The two other producers, both men, make decision without her because you know, they just happened to go to a bar after work and got to talking and she had to go home to her baby and probably wouldn’t have wanted to come any way. She tries to play the game by inviting them over for dinner after work which of course both men blow off.

          1. Specialk9

            That show certainly didn’t pull it’s punches on gender and race.

            For that contract signing, my read was that it’s that they didn’t think of it – they talked about their awareness that they were being screwed in the contract. It’s just that she was the only one with any *power* because she was the star. The rest of them were disposable. (And it’s not a coincidence that she’s a white blonde bombshell.)

            But even so, she was only a woman, even with that bit of power, and so as you said the two men ignored her and blew her off. Despite both being hugely failure-prone, at least they had dangly bits and bobs.

    3. WellRed

      Go to the meeting, raise your hand and ask the big boss thoughts on whether he thinks the advice is good for everyone or mainly white men. I am not clear on who you don’t want to spend time with, immediate boss or big boss.

      1. Specialk9

        I highly recommend this as a very detailed fantasy only, until one has the new job.

        If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that rich white men hate being challenged on their own privilege, or being asked to share the toybox.

    4. Lala

      It might be worth it just to build more of a working relationship with the big boss. It’ll be easier for him to go to you for things (the way he’s supposed to) if he sees you more, and this is an easy way to do that. Just being seen can be worth the time, especially if the big boss is super into these book club things. Face time is important. Take a notebook and pen so you have something to occupy yourself with if you get bored.

      And I would keep the job hunt going.

    5. AshK413

      I’m sort of confused. A lot of those reasons don’t appear to have anything to do with attending a book club (at least as an outsider).

      In either case, can you think of an excuse whenever he asks. Like you have to work on X project or whatever. if you feel comfortable being honest, just say you’re not interested in the club.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius

        Because it’s hard to respect someone who says all the right things yet does absolutely zero to ensure that those right things become a reality for his staff and, in fact, does a few things to make life worse.

        1. Lora

          I’m guessing that if you said something was a good idea and should be implemented, it would somehow be your job to do all the actual work of implementing it anyways…

        2. Not So NewReader

          So implementation would become your talking point. You can bring the practical side to the discussion.
          “Okay so if we do this what are the steps involved to start it up?”

          I do agree that going is a great idea. However, it is also something a person has to be “up” for, the on switch has to be in the on position. You know you. If you are going to come out of the meeting feeling more beat down, then do not go. But if you think you can find that kickin’ part of your personality it might be worth your while to go and give pointed inputs. What is the point of sitting around talking about ideas and never using the ideas? There is no point and you are on solid ground with this objection. For myself, there have been times where just knowing I was on solid ground was enough and I was able to walk into the thick of things. (I don’t always feel confident, so I tend to drop back and observe in those instances.)

    6. Nessun

      Could you suggest books that are different from the majority (white/male/leadership), but in the same genre? Or if you haven’t the power or influence to suggest them, could you read them as a counterpoint to the boss’ choice, and then discuss the alternative point of view? Not suggesting you start a huge conversation, but perhaps it would help them inform their choices on what books to read, or show them you are reading related material (but with a perspective that you value more).

      1. Jules the 3rd

        Suggestions:
        _The Power of Broke_ by Daymond John (General marketing / managment)
        _The Little Black Book of Success_ by Brown, Haygood, McLean (Success for black women)
        _50 Billion Dollar Boss_ by Porter, Hoffman (Black women entrepreneurs)
        _Daring Greatly_ by Brene’ Brown (Using vulnerability to be a better manager / entrepreneur)
        _Own It_ by Krawcheck – I like it better than Lean In, because I felt Lean In had a ‘be more like men’ subtext.

        I’ve only read Own It and Lean In, but I’ll probably pick up Power of Broke. I usually submit lists to my local library of newer non-white male business books that they don’t have, just to up the representation.

        1. Jules the 3rd

          That said: If this is not your thing, you shouldn’t have to go. These things are only really useful to people who are interested in either following these paths OR making these paths more open to people who aren’t white men (my angle).

        2. A Non E. Mouse

          I like it better than Lean In, because I felt Lean In had a ‘be more like men’ subtext

          I am glad I wasn’t the only one who didn’t like that book very much. There was such an undercurrent of…I don’t know, privilege?…that I just couldn’t find much useful in it.

          I leave you with this: http://dilbert.com/strip/2015-04-30

          1. Database Developer Dude

            I’m a man, and I quite agree with the assessment of ‘Lean In’. We men as a group have enough bad habits, society doesn’t need women to pick them up too.

        3. Indigo a la mode

          Mindset is by Dr. Carol Dweck, and it’s applicable to every part of life, not just leadership. The business leadership chapter does largely feature white men as examples (both good and bad), but she calls that out and discusses it.

          And EVERYONE should read The Power of Habit (it’s by a white man, but not your Typical Leadership Book). It’s basically Life Hacking for Dummies.

    7. Secretary

      If you get paid to go, I’d say go. It’s true there’s a lot of management advice out there that’s geared toward white men in positions of power, but you can treat the books like a grocery store and take what you like and leave the rest. It also can’t hurt to build the relationship while you’re there.
      Also, if you build good enough rapport while there, you can recommend the Ask A Manager book!

    8. Havarti

      “…but enough to make me job hunt.”
      Do it! Get out! I’m reading this list and none of it sounds good. Go to the book club and be polite so you can keep earning a paycheck while job hunting. Things will probably not get better here.

    9. AliceW

      Unless they are going to fire you for not attending a voluntary book club, a simple, “I have no interest in book club and will not be attending” should suffice. Life is too short to be “forced” to do something you really don’t want to.

      1. Decima Dewey

        The “as a show of good faith” is unsettling to me. As a show of good faith in what regard? For what purpose? I suspect the boss wants to be able to tell their boss that of course people in their department are interested in the “voluntary” book club.

        1. RockyRoad

          I wasn’t sure about “act of good faith” either. My first thought was that a lot of people weren’t attending and Big Boss was putting pressure on Immediate Boss to get more people to attend to look better.

          Is this something were the book club books are provided for free? If not, could you just say that buying a monthly book just isn’t in your budget?

          If they provide the books, you could just attend without reading it and doodle or write notes on something else while Big Boss is talking. (You said it’s just him talking with no discussion, so he probably wouldn’t “call on” you to discuss the book, and if he did you could just claim you were too busy to read the book this month but came to be supportive, as an act of good faith, whatever.)

    10. emmelemm

      Unfortunately, I don’t have any good advice. However, I want to say I love your username.

    11. Mike C.

      It also doesn’t help that just about every single one of these books is just gut-level bullsh!t that lacks any supporting evidence, ignores serious systemic issues and justifies decisions that hurt the vast majority of employees. Much like fad diet books, the authors of these books often completely lack the skills to properly analyze what they see in the field, evaluate evidence, mistake short term variation for “actual results” and do little more than flatter the reader.

      Like in all seriousness, the only good book out there might be, “The @sshole Rule”. There might be others, but this genre is a complete cesspit.

    12. SavannahMiranda

      FWIW this reminds me sooooo much of the CEO who was insisting all of his employees to come to him for special, personal life coaching sessions where he could overbearingly and condesceningly teach them all about success and reaching your goals.

      Original here: https://www.askamanager.org/2013/04/my-boss-is-requiring-us-to-let-him-be-our-life-coach.html
      And update here: https://www.askamanager.org/2013/10/update-my-boss-is-requiring-us-to-let-him-be-our-life-coach.html

      It did not end well.

      Ayup, get out OP. Aggressively interview and head right on out that door. And know that this kind of massively tone deaf, in bad faith, book clubbery is not normal and not okay.

    13. Not So NewReader

      A good way to get out of the book club: Tell them to let them know when it is your turn to lead it and then bring one of Alison’s books in.

    14. Anonodoodles

      I would go to the book club, at least for a while. You might find that once the Big Boss sees you at the event and gets to know you, some of your complaints–all completely valid and frustrating–may lessen. You may be able to at least get other people thinking about things they just take for granted.

      You could also ask questions or throw things out for discussion. When the book says do X but boss or the company does Y, ask about it. “We handled it this way, Y. What might have happened if we had done X? What were the reasons we chose to do Y?” Challenge the assumption of the book that everyone comes from the same background or that everyone is in a job in which people have PTO. Act respectful and (appear) genuinely interested in Boss’s and other people’s opinions. You *might* learn something interesting or you might confirm everything you now feel about Boss and the company.

      But, to be honest, you seem to far gone in your heart from this job for any of this to matter. You should probably put your energy into finding a new job. I wish you the best of luck.

  11. Mockingjay

    Dear Golden Children of the Office who Telework:

    It is your responsibility to be able to log into the network system from home via VPN. If you cannot access the databases that we use daily for all our work, you should not be allowed to telework.

    The solution is NOT to send ME everything to post for you, or to download and forward, as well as track and reconcile all of these disparate files.

    Signed, your colleague who already has enough work to do without adding yours

    (Yes, I’ve looped in my manager, but nothing’s been done yet. In the interim, sigh…)

    1. CBH

      That is so frustrating! Have you thought of keeping track of how much time you do this and then present this to your boss. One person’s benefit is causing you to take on additional tasks you didn’t sign up for!

      1. Mockingjay

        Oh, yes. I have monthly stats. Last month’s total for just document tracking was an all-time high.

        1. CBH

          wow! If your boss isn’t doing anything can you go to your grandboss or HR. It’s a petty issue but not part of your job and takes a lot of time.

        2. CBH

          Or simply don’t “check” your email or messages for a while. If asked you can say you were consentrating on task A and was not expecting any correspondence.

    2. hermit crab

      I’ve so been there! Some people have a lot of learned helplessness around this stuff, and it’s infuriating for everyone else.

    3. WellRed

      Hit return to sender and and say you don’t have time to do it, and direct them toward whatever resource they need to be able to do that from home. If that’s not possible, the fact that it hit an all time high last month makes it an ideal time to sit down with your manager.

    4. Free Meerkats

      Cheerfully – “I’ll get to that ass soon as I have a moment.” Then when you have the moment, it may be a couple of hours, do it. But don’t go out of your way to do their job for them (unless of course, that is your job.)

      Of course, think about how you can defend your (lack of) actions before you do this and have load of your time-sensitive stuff lined up when you know this is coming.

    5. Allison

      Ugh, I feel this so hard! At my old job I had a colleague who would ask me to go into this or that system and pull information for her, because she either didn’t know how to log onto the VPN (and decided she shouldn’t have to learn?) or just didn’t wanna deal with it. She thought I was our industry’s version of a paralegal. I was not.

    6. Lora

      Your IT sucks and isn’t going to change…

      Why can’t they access things? I hate literally everything about Current IT Department, but they did one thing exactly right and it’s the VPN which works like a charm as soon as you map your home WiFi.

      I would just not do it. They can submit an IT ticket like a person. If IT is overwhelmed in tickets…bummer, but not your problem.

      1. Mockingjay

        I would classify this as Operator Error/Learned Helplessness. They just don’t want to use the system.

        BTW, our IT Dept. is the best I have ever worked with.

        1. Jadelyn

          IT could walk on water and turn the water cooler into wine, and there would still be Those People who just don’t want to take the time to learn something new and scary-sounding like “VPN”. It’s really, really not an IT problem.

          1. Lora

            Then you don’t get to work from home if you can’t VPN.

            Don’t know about it not being an IT problem – sometimes the permissions for things get set weirdly and then the only person in IT who knows how to do that one database quits/gets fired/gets laid off and you’re hosed, or there will be some security rule like No External Connections To Sacred And Holy Database! and then you can’t do your job because public Wifi is full of cooties or whatever.

            1. Thegs

              Using a VPN should give you an internal IP address, but of course that doesn’t preclude the VPN’s subnet from being blocked from accessing the database. We do similar things here.

              But also yeah, if someone cannot perform their work remotely, regardless of whose fault it is, they should not be allowed to work remotely until the issue is resolved.

              1. Specialk9

                Our VPN makes Skype audio not work. I have back to back Skype meeting all day, usually that I’m facilitating (remotely). The fact that I then can’t VPN into our Intranet or certain files or databases while on Skype makes me nutty.

                But if someone refused to even learn how to work remotely, whole being allowed to work remotely?! Poppycock.

    7. A tester, not a developer

      Wow! I thought that was a pretty fundamental part of working from home. I’ve definitely had days where I’ve come into the office ‘off schedule’ because one tool or another I needed to use wasn’t playing nicely with with home computer.

      Here’s hoping your manager acts on it quickly.

    8. LizM

      Has your manager told you it was part of your job to do this?

      If not, “Sorry, I’m slammed and probably won’t get to this today. You should be able to access the database through the VPN if it needs to be uploaded this afternoon.”

      If they reply that the VPN isn’t working, “Huh, that’s weird. Have you put in a ticket with IT?”

      I have a few coworkers who have a learned helplessness with computers, and usually turn to me as the resident millennial, so I end up using the “Huh, that’s weird,” and redirecting to IT a lot, rather than jumping into providing solutions.

      1. Mockingjay

        I manage the project document library contents and work tracking tool, but not the site itself. The site is functioning just fine. Plenty of other people remote in from all over the country without issue. We all have standard laptops configured identically with up-to-date software.

        I have three offenders on my team: hapless, helpless, and jerk. I’ve done all of the above suggestions, provided instructions, redirected to IT, even brought in the head of the web development team to conduct a formal training session with live demo “here’s how you do X” *follow mouse clicks on the big screen.*

        Manager is has been busy with setting up new projects (we got more work, yay for us), so this hasn’t been high on his radar. But assignments on this existing project are falling through the cracks because these three won’t use the tracking system to see what they have to do; documents have to be re-edited because they didn’t pull the latest version from the server; and so on. He’s been briefed that their behavior is jeopardizing our ability to make deadlines to our customer. Late stuff is a hot button with the customer, so manager is finally motivated to act. Hopefully this will be addressed next week.

    9. jackers

      I don’t have quite the same problem but similar. My counterpart works from home and lives out in the sticks. She saves everything to her hard drive rather than the network because it is faster. But then I can’t access files that I need to and have to request them from her and it’s a pain. She constantly says “oh yeah, I need to save those out there for you” but it rarely happens. I’m newish to the role and she’s operated like this for years so creating change has been slow.

    10. Not So NewReader

      Tell your boss that you will be telling these people NO from now on.

      You have provided your boss with an easy out and as long as you continue to ease the situation no change will happen.

      Dear Golden Children and Boss,
      As the requests for loading information on the the network are at all time highs, I find I cannot do my own work as well as keep up with the inputting. What was once a minor problem has grown to a substantial issue.
      I will be forwarding all your requests for assistance to the boss so that she may redirect that work to someone who is available to help.
      Meanwhile, here again is the instructions for logging in and the contact info for IT if you have any problems.
      Sincerely,
      Your Ever Lovin’ Coworker

      Put your foot down. Seriously.

  12. Anon for this one.

    No advice needed, just a wild work story. Our boss has a lot more bark than bite, but I can hear him saying this.

    We have a new hire (22 yr old male, fresh out of school) at our home office, where Big Boss is, that came to our office to train yesterday. He told us that he went to the bathroom the other day and Big Boss asked him where he’d been. When he replied I went to the bathroom,” he said that Big Boss said, “You’ve already been today!” We are hopeful he was joking, his sense of humor can be hard to read, but most likely he wasn’t.

    I’ve been here 10 years, and I think Big Boss KNOWS better than to ever pull something like that with me, but in addition, I have Crohn’s Disease, so I would immediately be asking for accommodations.

    1. nep

      Oh, man. Is there a chance Big Boss was not joking? In which case, it’d be back to the job ads for me.

      1. Anon for this one.

        He’s demanding and says unreasonable things that he then realizes were unreasonable. I have no doubt he was serious at the moment, but not in the long run.

    2. Thlayli

      Unless there are other signs of big boss being a crazy person, I would chalk this up to a joke that fell flat.

      1. Anon for this one.

        He’s demanding and says unreasonable things that he then realizes were unreasonable. I have no doubt he was serious at the moment, but not in the long run.

    3. CupcakeCounter

      My BIL has absolutely no medical conditions but he poops at least 3 times a day (usually closer to 5) so no one asks him where he is anymore. He’d immediately quit any job that monitored and restricted his bathroom time.
      For what its worth he is also a very fast pooper so his breaks aren’t very long – maybe 2X the length of a normal, male pee break.
      Yes I know way too much about my in-laws pooping habits. It is considered dinner table conversation for them. For some reason they get all squicked out when I start talking about the medical stuff that was the norm for me growing up.

      1. Specialk9

        Ha, my fire station guys would talk at great length about their jock itch, like AT LENGTH, but somehow when I brought up the my similar experience with yeast itch, it was the grossest thing ever.

    4. Pending

      “You’ve already been today!”
      “And I liked it so much, I thought I’d do it again.”

    5. Not So NewReader

      When I was in my 20s people would say things to me that they would never say to an older worker. This boss has no idea how foolish he made himself look to the new hire. Boss is killing his own credibility and does not realize.

    6. Adele

      This reminds me of an old job at a small , always-in-crisis-mode, management training company. Owner said, “Where’s Lucinda? Why isn’t she answering her phone?” and was told she was in the hospital Emergency Room. His response? “What? They don’t have phone reception in the ER?”

  13. BusyBusyKitty

    I received my performance review and was rated as not meeting full performance in almost every category. I’m especially frustrated by this because my manager threatened to go in in change the rating of one of my direct reports if I didn’t rate her as exceeds expectations because she “works really hard.”
    How do I respond to this?

      1. SpaceySteph

        I’m laughing at this because my company totally sent a bunch of us through an 8 week Jack Welch management training course and it was THE. WORST.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      Did your manager provide any concrete examples as to how you are not meeting expectations? I would start by asking for details.

    2. Quackeen

      So, I think you handle these as 2 separate issues.

      1. Ask for SMART goal suggestions on what Meets Expectations and Exceeds Expectations look like. If you’re being rated as Not Meeting Expectations, you need a line of sight between where you currently are and where they want you to be.

      2. Similarly, you need to provide justification and a line of sight for your direct report. If you’re rating her as Meets Expectations, what does it look like to Exceed Expectations in her role and how can she get there? Bring that to your manager and also remind him “working hard is not the same thing as achieving results.”

    3. Rookie Biz Chick

      That’s so tough! I hope they’ll give examples of what was wrong and how they’d like to see you do better or different.

      The direct report thing, eeeesh. I imagine there’s other difficult stuff going on in that workplace.

      Hoping for the best for you!

    4. Jadelyn

      Demand specifics and documentation. In what ways are you not meeting full performance? What are some specific incidents that illustrate this? What benchmark are you being judged against? See if your manager can answer any of those questions. Preferably in writing.

      Insist that if you’re doing that badly, your manager needs to work with you to develop concrete goals and benchmarks for the coming year to measure your performance against. If you can get them to do that, then you hold on to that document and you whip it out at next year’s review to demonstrate that you met all the goals you were given.

      Your manager sounds like an ass – sorry you have to deal with that!

    5. Autumnheart

      Not to be an alarmist, but I would wonder if this was your manager’s opening salvo in “manage you out of a job” by giving you undeservedly poor performance reviews. If they say you’re underperforming but refuse to give you specifics on how to improve, I’d take that as a signal to polish your resume.

      1. Specialk9

        Well either they’re underserved – in which case read the writing on the wall and start looking for another job hard – or it’s deserved and that’s why boss is inserting himself into the subordinate assessment.

        But either way, it’s writing on the wall that you need to find another position.

    6. Mike C.

      Go to HR. This is incredibly unethical of your boss to expect and any serious HR rep would have massive problems with this.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Agreed. Your boss is using your eval to manipulate your behavior. In this specific setting here, your boss is removing your authority as a boss. If you cannot write your own evaluations your leadership position is just there for decoration not for real utility. Yes, please talk to HR.

    7. CleverGirl

      I once had a job where in my very first annual performance review I was given “less than satisfactory/developing” in EVERY category. My manager said I should “cross out the ‘less than satisfactory’ part and focus on ‘developing'” because I was new to the job and it was a slight field change for me, so “of course” I was still developing skills. But like, is HR going to cross out the “less than satisfactory” part? No, they are just going to see that for an entire year I was doing unsatisfactory work. I was upset that no one had raised any specific issues with my work prior to the review and this was the first time I was hearing that I wasn’t doing satisfactory work. It was extremely demoralizing and I quit that job soon after–I got a new job that paid 30% more and had a better schedule, and in my first performance review in the new job I got amazing reviews and “exceeds expectations” comments in every section.

  14. ThatGirl

    This week has been BANANAPANTS.

    I moved into a customer-facing role about a year ago, and there’s been a lot of flux here since I started; there are supposed to be 4 people on my team but one got moved to a new team, one got fired, so we were down to two temporarily – and my only co-worker got the flu. She’s been out sick all week. I am one person, and although it is slow, it’s still too much for one person. We are getting so many crabby, cranky, angry callers who have no sympathy or are just totally nuts. I went home last night and self-soothed with a beer and 10 Things I Hate About You.

    I do feel like I have now won Customer Service Bingo, though – I had a lady fill out our survey and then proudly tell me she recommended I be fired. (The surveys, I should note, are purely to gauge customer satisfaction and do not affect our performance reviews or anything.) What was my heinous offense? Politely declining to replace an $80 item without any proof of purchase.

    1. Clorinda

      People who are rude to customer-facing workers are the WORST. A couple of years ago I was at a restaurant with my mother, and the waitress forgot to bring a spoon with my soup, no big deal, I asked for a spoon and she brought one. On the way out of the restaurant, my mother made a point to speak to the manager and explain that she thought the waitress was probably on drugs!!!! So I had to go back, double the tip, and ask the manager to please ignore my mother.

      1. roisin54

        Those kinds of people are the worst. It’s even more annoying when you’re a public employee, it adds an extra layer of entitlement to their interactions with you. Recently I had one guy write three separate emails to complain about me. My offense? Telling him we can’t do the thing he wants us to do, that said thing isn’t really possible for anyone to do, and that a specific alternative to the thing would be much easier to accomplish. Among the ten-dollar words he used to describe were obstructive, obstinate, and impertinent.

      2. General Ginger

        Thank you for going back and talking to the manager after. That is just… yikes. I’m sorry.

    2. Sully

      I’m sorry you have to deal with that! I hate the customer service aspect of my job, but it is 95% over the phone so at least they don’t see me rolling my eyes and gritting my teeth.

      1. Jadelyn

        Gods bless the mute button. I’m fond of hitting mute while someone is in the middle of going on about something and providing snarky commentary to myself until I have to actually reply.

        1. tangerineRose

          Be careful. There have been some epic stories about times when the mute button didn’t work.

      2. ThatGirl

        Mine are all over the phone or online, at least, so I definitely turned around and snarked to my manager about my imminent firing. I definitely have been known to IM people during weird calls, too. I don’t know if I could handle it in person. Phones are not my favorite, and not how I want to spend my days, but it’s an unfortunate necessity right now.

    3. EA in CA

      We had a member of the public come into one of our offices and demanded that we cancel her cable bill. She was so irate that we couldn’t help her process the cancellation or give her any money back and she demanded to our manager that we must comply and that we should all be fired. HOWEVER! The reason we couldn’t help her was because our company isn’t the cable company. Cable company’s name is on our building because they purchased the naming rights, which is the only link between the two. The lady was in our office screaming for half an hour and it wasn’t until security was escorting her out (and pointed out the clearly visible signage on our front door that this wasn’t cable company) that she finally stopped yelling.

      1. ThatGirl

        I love when people call and rant about our products for 10 minutes and then I check the SKU and tell them we didn’t make it.

        1. Sully

          But then I bet they still continue to argue with you even after you prove them wrong, right?
          My coworker likes to “take the path of least resistance,” but I prefer to be correct and not encourage bad behavior on the customer’s part. If I let them get away with it, it just encourages them to do it again to someone else.

    4. Hmmmer Simpson

      Thank you for the expression “bananapants.” I use the expression “Crazypants” a lot but have been trying to get out of the habit of saying crazy. I also enjoy the phrase “bananas” (as in, “that meeting was bananas!”) so this is such a good combination of my fave methods for describing ridiculousness.

      1. ThatGirl

        It is one of my favorite words. I told my husband the week was bananapants, and he said “that sounds way more fun than it probably was.”

    5. Not So NewReader

      I had one that was just the moment in work life that you wait for.
      A lady came in, “Do X”, where X was against company policy. I explained to her that we could not do X and I explained why. What followed was a parade of f-bombs at the top of her lungs. Removing the cuss words she basically said she was going to report me to my district boss.

      My district boss was standing 20 feet away from her watching everything. Calmly, I said, “You are welcome to report as you wish. My district boss is right over there, you can talk to him now if you would like.” She slithered back to where ever she came from. It was a beautiful thing.

    6. RockyRoad

      I’ve never worked in customer service before, so my only ridiculous customer experience was when I sold one of my college textbooks on eBay and the customer requested that I cancel since they already had the book. I submitted a refund, canceled the postage I’d printed, and sent them a quick note to warn them that the refund probably wouldn’t be instant since I’d already moved all my profits from PayPal the day before and PayPal would need to get the money from my bank account. They became irate about how I was lying and trying to steal their money and they supposedly reported me to the FBI.

      I think customer service is one of the toughest jobs so I try to be as understanding as possible when I’m a customer with a problem (and if they need help at work I jump on it and do whatever I can).

    7. Aphrodite

      A few days ago I was in our local See’s candy store. As I came in a woman in her sixties (or possibly fifties) was berating and baiting the saleswoman who finally responded with a couple of semi-sarcastic remarks herself. She said nothing I’d consider out of line for a frustrated CS agent, but you could see she was infuriated. As the customer stomped out she stopped and demanded the employee’s name and said, “I’m going to report you.”

      The other woman in the shop and I exchanged glances and I immediately decided that I was going to contact See’s myself when I got home because I especially hate petty injustices. I did. I hate the way so many companies are not just accepting of abuse toward their employees but actually encourage it by not setting standards for customers to complain that require politeness. It’s as if they want to drive the nice people away by catering to the nasty ones. What is this trend? Why does cursing and abuse get customers farther than niceness seems to? Why do managements think that CS agents should be abused? I hate, hate, hate it. (And I am not in any form of customer service.)

      1. Anon for this comment

        I was on a late-night flight from Atlanta to Baltimore a few years ago, and my seatmate’s carry on luggage was removed for being slightly oversized (it fit on her flight out, apparently, but we were in a slightly smaller plane for this leg) and put into checked luggage. She went ballistic about how she had been mistreated and how they had no right to have touched her property without her permission and so on. They apologized profusely, explained that her earlier flight had probably been on one of their larger planes (to which she went off about how she is not obligated to know the specifics of every plane she rides), they offered a drink coupon…no dice. She was bound and determined to be pissed off, and she spent the whole flight making loud, passive aggressive sighs that made it hard for me to sleep.

        I made sure to note the name of the flight attendant who’d had to bear the brunt of her ire so that I could contact customer service for the airline the next morning to say how diplomatic and calm he’d been in the face of this unreasonable passenger.

  15. Genny

    Anyone have any experience with job placement companies for permanent positions? Do they add any value or is traditional job hunting a better way to go?

    1. Anonymous Educator

      I’ve gotten a couple of jobs through I guess what you’d call “job placement companies.” I prefer to call them “recruiters,” though, because they aren’t working to place you in a job—they are working to find candidates for the hiring companies. Just remember where their incentives are and their paychecks come from. Their job isn’t to place you in a job. Their job is to find candidates and hope one of those candidates gets the job.

    2. Anonymous Educator

      As long as you don’t pay them any money (if you do, it’s likely a scam) and as long as it’s not exclusive (if they claim any kind of exclusivity, it’s likely a scam), just try it as an avenue. That doesn’t stop you from applying to jobs directly.

    3. TheWonderGinger

      I worked through a employment agency to start as a contractor at my current job, I was hired full time within three months. But on the other hand, one of my friends/coworkers also started as a contractor through the same agency (at a later date than me) and had to wait a year before he was hired full time.

    4. Lora

      Hit and miss. The good ones were really good and how much they got paid depended on how much I got paid, so it was a tremendous help that they sort of pre-negotiated the pay range for me and pushed for better pay. I think they got more money than I would have gotten myself (female in male dominated industry – we tend to be lowballed). I got some very good pay bumps that I know I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, and had some jobs presented that I wouldn’t have even considered but turned out to be immensely useful later on in my career.

      The crap ones had no idea how to read a resume, no clue about the field, and constantly pestered me about wholly inappropriate positions.

    5. She's One Crazy Diamond

      I got my permanent current job because I was a temp through a job placement agency first. It’s a good way to figure out if you like the organization and position before committing, but you don’t get the benefits permanent employees get so it’s not for everyone.

    6. AliceW

      I have gotten every job I have ever had through a recruiter. I have never sent out resumes for any job except for my first job out of college. Job hunting through a placement agency was very quick and easy for me. They sent me job descriptions of open positions they thought fit my background and I told them which ones I was interested in and they set up the interviews. In a good job market I would never hunt for jobs on my own anymore.

    7. Sunflower

      The biggest value IMO is you can be a little more upfront about what you’re looking for and non-negotiables. Especially with salary, most of them are incredibly upfront with salary expectations and won’t waste your time. But if you want a job where let’s say, telecommuting is a must, you can be more upfront at the early stages with an outside recruiter as opposed to in house for the job where you might need to wait for a later stage interview to bring it up.

      1. Specialk9

        Yeah for some reason jobs will tell *recruiters* the salary range, but not applicants. Good recruiters dealing with seasoned professionals will just state the salary upfront, which saves ever so much time and effort all around.

    8. Mrs. Picklesby

      I think it will depend a lot on your industry and location. I’m near New Orleans, and there are tons of jobs here and in the surrounding metro area. There are between 30-40 employment firms here that focus on different industries. On the other hand, one of my relatives lives in central Mississippi, where she says there are only 1-2 placement firms because there isn’t much available.

      My situation is similar to AliceW. I’ve been in the legal field for 99% of my 25 years of working. My first job came through my high school (anyone remember Cooperative Office Education as a class?), and after that I connected with staffing agencies that specialized in legal placement. They’ve helped to place me with a solo practitioner, a small specialized law office, and a giant full-service firm. My recruiters even keep in touch after placement and send notices of other opportunities.

      I’m a BIG fan of placement companies!

    9. Chaordic One

      While I’ve had some great experiences while working as a temp, I’ve never had any luck with placement agencies for permanent work. All of the agencies had contingency clauses that if you went to work permanently at a company that you had previously temped at within a six-month period the employer would have to pay the agency a “finder’s fee” and none of the employers I worked for as a temp wanted to pay it.

      In one case, I did get a call exactly six months later from a place I had temped at, but by then I had moved on and found a permanent position.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot

      if you mean recruiters, in my industry, they’re the norm. But it depends on the industry and sometimes location.

  16. MuseumChick

    I’m considering leaving my field and it is breaking my heart. I love working in museums but the lack of growth (you basically have to move anytime you want position), low pay, limited benefits, ect. are becoming to much.

    1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)

      I’m in the same boat as you. The (closely related) library world is the same thing. I’ve hit a wall professionally, and unlike some of my younger coworkers, can’t just pick up and become a library director somewhere in Idaho or Tennessee if I wanted to. (And I don’t want to–I love where I live more than anything, and my family is all here.)
      I’m sorry I can only offer commiseration and not advice!

      1. MuseumChick

        Yes, libraries have the same issue. I knew what I was getting into when I started in this field. It’s my passion. But I have to accept the reality money does make life easier in some ways. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the absurd amount of emotional labor, I might be able to hold out but I’m tired of having to give way on best practices just so I don’t upset a long time volunteer or someone up the food chain who knows nothing about museum work.

        1. Jules the 3rd

          Really different issues there – is there *any* chance you can find something else in your field and location, just to check whether your frustration at the emotional labor *in that job* is coloring your view of the field?

    2. mkt

      I’m sorry to hear your struggle.
      On the flipside, I do think that money, opportunity for growth/learning, benefits, etc do really help to accept working in a field that you may not otherwise love. Being happy and secure in all those ways makes me better able to thrive outside of work. So, here’s hoping you can find similar type of middle ground of work in something that you may not be passionate about, but can help fuel your life satisfaction in other ways.

      1. MuseumChick

        Some kinds of records management, either at a university (like a registrar for example) or corporate archive work.

        1. Lora

          Have worked a handful of jobs that had corporate libraries. They paid better than nonprofit, for sure. And everyone showed up at 9 and went home by 4. As I understand it, it was mostly helping people set up automatic article delivery for certain things, or the occasional “quick! I need to know everything there is to know about (weird odd disease) by Wednesday!”

          We have a lot (A LOT. SO MUCH.) cGDP records management, which would require additional training but the company typically pays for it. Normally they pick people with a QA background but my impression is that candidates are pretty thin on the ground at the moment and there are places which would be willing to train new folks.

    3. I feel you

      In the museum field as well. I’ve been thinking a bit about switching fields, though I am not even sure what fields to look into/how my skills can be transferable….

    4. Climber

      I am in academia and it’s the same thing. Low pay, insane hours, no health insurance, no set schedule, no vacation. If you really want full time it’s be ready to move to rural Texas and then find out the contract was 9 months only. I just found out yesterday that my cash cow Fall job doesn’t have enough classes to offer me any so I’m losing half my income for Fall.
      I’m already taking classes to move to another profession. I still have years to go but it feels much better to be working on a way out. I LOVE teaching, but I just can’t anymore.
      I have volunteered heavily in museums and have seen the struggle of the workers there. Good luck with moving on. Once you get a private sector job you can join a museum board and still be MuseumChick.

      1. The Other CC

        “Once you get a private sector job you can join a museum board and still be MuseumChick.”
        This.

        Not making your full-time living in a particular field doesn’t mean that you love that field any less. And in fact, if you go do something that will make you more money, you can then give money to your old organization and support their work in another way (perhaps by creating a fully funded “MuseumChick Curatorship” position so whoever replaces you has better pay and benefits than you did? At least that’s my plan – to make a ton of money and then establish the “The Other CC Teapot Designer Fellowship” at Old Job)

        1. DustIsAnOccupationalHazard

          Yeah, the utter joy I felt at being able to give money to my Museum (former workplace), without handholding of the volunteers really was a thing. And I love the volunteers! I just hated being told that I shouldn’t lift heavy things, “because you haven’t had your babies yet.” Note: I was not pregnant.

          1. The Other CC

            That is so utterly bonkers (and rude!) but it sounds exactly like something I can imagine some of our more…filter-less volunteers saying.

      2. Lady Jay

        Out of curiosity, what corner of academia are you in, and what are you moving into? I always find these stories so interesting.

        1. Climber

          LAte to the party but I was instructor level teaching in Coms/Film. So I have an MA in the field but don’t want to pursue a PhD because it doesn’t really help job prospects. I’ve worked community college and university level. It’s just tough, under valued, becoming more customer service (at one school 60% of my standing was based on student reviews which are shown to be biased towards women and minorities).
          I am going into Speech Pathology. I was always interested but wasn’t brave enough when I was younger (science scared me, too hard). But I’m taking Post Bacc Classes now and hopefully in a grad program by 2020 for another couple years. And so far I am finding I am finding everything FASCINATING. It’s good to be going into a field that is growing and pays well AND helps people.
          Plus, I would have a number of skills that would be valued during the zombie apocalypse. Not much call for film analysis in the rebuilding phase. :)

    5. The Other CC

      Hi there! I am going through the same mourning process of leaving my corner of the arts, which has all the same problems you cited. I had a little crying spell on the couch the other day about it, actually. But I’ve decided that sacrificing giving up savings for retirement, buying a house, having kids, staying near family, etc. is not worth it to follow my dream anymore. It’s weird, but it feels like a breakup of a really bad relationship! And it is a grief process with a lot of feels, at least for me, since I started in this career back in high school and all my professional development has been in this field. But exploring other work outside of my niche showed me that I was employable in other fields, and also that other work could be interesting, fulfilling, and pay more than my old job. Perhaps explore another field you’re interested in via side hustle or volunteering to get your feet wet?

      I hope you’re able to figure out what’s best for you and your goals and find the next open door soon <3

      1. Specialk9

        It sounds weird to say to a stranger, but I’m so proud of you. It’s really hard to make that kind of decision, but you really do need to take care of yourself in this world. Freedom opens doors.

      2. Not So NewReader

        I am liking your answer here TOCC.
        I had a job that I absolutely loved and I had to leave it. Gosh, you would think I was having the job surgically removed for the amount of emotions I felt.

        It caused me to step back and think about what I was doing. I was way too invested in that job. I realized I needed to be more detached from the job and get more connected to my life goals. It was hard, but I do think that what finally tipped the scales was my own success at starting other life long goals and working on those goals. Once I saw my new plan starting to work out (this was a matter of months) I started gaining a fresh perspective that I never had before. Imagine my surprise when I figured out that maybe Favorite Job was not good for me in ways that I had been ignoring.
        It was years later I ran into a favorite cohort from that job. She added to my resolve on this whole situation by telling me about things going on at that place that were Not Good. My rose colored glasses were off and I never put them on again.

        This is all to say, what breaks our hearts today may look totally different in years to come. Time can be very kind. I’d like to encourage you to follow your instincts here.

        1. CopperBoom

          So needed to hear this! I’m interviewing next week for a job that aligns with my career goals, but it would mean leaving my beloved workplace. I love my place of employment, the students, my coworkers, etc., but my position is not challenging (it’s entry level, and I was told at my interview that I would outgrow it). I’m a wreck just at the possibility of leaving my kiddos, but I know I’m not happy in this role, so it is time to move on. Glad to hear about your experience!

    6. DustIsAnOccupationalHazard

      Oh! It me! I left an energetic, high-performing, dysfunctional but beloved museum a year ago, and I sooooooo miss the GLAM world, but working there was a luxury I couldn’t afford anymore. I switched to corporate records management, coming out of being a Collections Manager, and genuinely enjoy it. And I can continue complaining about climate control…

      1. DustIsAnOccupationalHazard

        Also, if anyone has questions about records management as a field or how museum experience translates, I fricking love talking about it!

          1. DustIsAnOccupationalHazard

            I’m actually thrilled you’re interested—-your posts have really spoken to me over the years! And I want to hear your most bizarre museum stories. At my interview, they were like, “Oh, why would you want to quit working at a museum?!?” I responded with the tale of the time I opened a Rubbermaid tub with a huge Nazi flag jammed into there. Like, sometimes you want to open a box without thinking, “Is there going to be a war trophy or a bag of hair in here?”

            1. MuseumChick

              Oh, that a tough question. Hmmm, I’ve gotten plenty of “Is the fire real?” type questions. I’ve have *knock on wood* never found any body parts but I know that is not an uncommon occurrence in this line of work.

              Have you ever watch Ask A Slave on youtube? It funny no matter what but when you have worked at a museum it’s even better.

              1. MuseAnne

                Oooh! I found a body part!

                I’m also curious to hear about records management. I love my job, and am lucky to have one I can live on, but the other parts of it are getting to me.

                1. MuseAnne

                  First week of the job, I’m exploring the collection (first professional staff in decades, so there’s no real orientation) and there’s this old white cardboard box labeled “human hand.” Containing a naturally mummified, surgically removed human hand (and partial forearm). Cue denial followed by panicked research. It’s cataloged and everything, including a partial origin story. Non-NAGPRA, though. I have since built it a beautiful archival, cavity mount box. With lid. Clearly labeled.

                  ….. I hope you find a place that makes you happy. This is a rough field to get into and stay in. I feel really lucky where I’m at, but it’s still not perfect. I’ve been in the field for about 13 years now, and I see the struggle all over.

      2. MuseumChick

        I’ve been thinking of looking for a corporate records management job. I think I would need to get a MILS or similar degree but it would be worth it, I am as in a collections management/registrar/curator role.

        1. DustIsAnOccupationalHazard

          Honestly, I just slid right over—I don’t even have any formal museum training (Economics major). I work for a midsized utility company and I really enjoy the satisfaction of turning a pile of….stuff (papers, binders, manuals, microfilm) into usable information. There’s a pivot toward electronic data, but the organizational parts carry through. I’ve found that my intake/cataloging process from the museum of assessing whether this artifact/information is useful for the public or the future or is actually irrelevant is a huge asset. And my researching itch gets scratched looking for parent company or merger histories.

          In practical talk, I make $45,000, which is not huge, but is 3 times what I was making at the museum and my benefits A. EXIST! and B. are dope! I think most records managers make a significant amount more? I’ve put my email in the name/link area, if you want more details.

          1. selina kyle

            I’d love to get involved in that type of work (information organization, etc) – would you be willing to expand on how you got into that field of work?

            1. DustIsAnOccupationalHazard

              Brace yourself for an extremely AaM response: I had a really good cover letter that dug into how my skills, especially from museum work, applied into records and information management! I talked about how I get real satisfaction from organizing things and cataloging artifacts taught me about the importance of accuracy for stuff that would be needed for a long period of time.

          2. Anonymous75

            Are you in a very urban area? I wonder how many records management jobs are in my area, but I think it’s something I would enjoy and would love to know more about. You mentioned a bit about taking a pile of stuff and organizing it. Are their other aspects, like disposing of outdated material, creating an inventory list or database record of what you organized, etc? My background is libraries.

            1. DustIsAnOccupationalHazard

              I’m in Northwest Indiana, about an hour outside Chicago. Most counties and government bodies have records managers, what with land titles and deeds, taxes, all that information that goes back for decades and is still used.
              Hoo boy, this might get long.
              We have a records repository software, which streamlines the database/inventory work. I looooooooooooooooooove doing annual destruction, because I’m also the sort of person who gets a boost from culling my closet and sending it to Goodwill. We have a retention schedule, which lays out the business/regulatory requirements for how long to keep each type of record (invoices get kept so long for tax reasons, for example; project files get kept through the end of the project plus so many years), so once a record hits it’s retention requirement, we reach out to the department which created it to approve it for destruction, and destroy it from there.
              We also work really closely with the legal department for discovery requests or contract review.

              1. DustIsAnOccupationalHazard

                I got a real thrill out of tracking which companies acquired a smaller company over the past hundred years, to see who was actually responsible for cleaning up a site, which saved the company a few million dollars. Also, our department set up rules for email, how it gets handled (PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, IF IT’S IMPORTANT SAVE IT SOMEWHERE THAT IS NOT YOUR INBOX), advises when we can delete stuff off of servers, how to let people access digital content without being able to edit it.
                If you’re really curious and want to dig into the field, do some research into GDPR. It absolutely is changing how records and information management works.

        2. Algae

          You may be able to look into getting a CRIM (Certification in Records and Information Management) without going back for your MLIS. I’d check into that.

          I work in RM for a HIGHLY regulated industry and it does help to be able to push back on people that just want things done “however” when we have regulations we can point to. I like doing RM in regulated industries because what to keep/how long/how to keep is so clearly laid out.

    7. Charlotte Gray

      I got out of the orchestra side 2 years ago (one year in my current job) for the same reason. I really struggled with “How do you apply for a job when you don’t feel passionate about the subject matter?!” but I’m here to tell you that you have transferable skills and there are non-profits that pay better than the arts if you want to stay mission-based. People at my city-wide association office complain about the pay (so maybe I won’t be happy about it in a few years, but for now it’s more than fine) but it’s $12k more than I made at either of my arts jobs with the same position title (manager). Do you have a passing familiarity with fund development or grants? A visual arts background that you could use in a marketing department?

    8. Marion the Librarian

      Not much more to add, just that I am also in the same boat. Archivist/Librarian for most of my professional life and tired of the low pay and lack of professional development. I’ve done two major moves for jobs and I can’t do it anymore. I’ve started putting out feelers in other fields and had some interviews, which was exciting! I ultimately passed on the positions for various reasons, but it was helpful to know I can make the transition to other work. I would also agree to look into volunteering or a side hustle to expand your network.

      It does feel like I’m ending a significant relationship because my priorities have changed. And that is so painful because my passion is still there.

    9. BahahaBlackSheep

      I’m in a similar spot in your sister industry! I work at a zoo. I volunteered in high school, worked summer camp in college and am now a seasonal staff member in the office I once volunteered in. I love the zoo so much and I credit it with a lot my personal development and interests. But I am almost done with grad school and only working here seasonally isn’t going to cut it anymore and I’ve been wrestling with the likelihood that I’m going to have to go elsewhere in order to reach longterm fulfillment with my career. I’ve basically been hanging around seasonally as a foot in the door to apply for permanent, full time positions, but those don’t pop up often in my department and when they do they get 300+ applicants for one position and I think I’m nearly done hanging around :(

    10. Specialk9

      I think it’s a very good idea to switch careers, even if you will likely have lots of feelings.

      Money isn’t happiness, but money sure fixes so many problems, and gives you so much freedom. ESPECIALLY as a woman.

      And good benefits have kept me from losing everything when I got sick.

      They’re worth pursuing. There are joys in so many jobs and careers.

      1. Specialk9

        To follow up, the traits of people I see succeed in corporate positions:

        -Organized and follow through / follow up (this is SO key)

        -Personable enough to work with people across the org

        -Interested in learning and taking on new things (without overcommitting and dropping prior work)

        -Reliable – they can be trusted to do what they say or alert mgrs about a problem

        I suspect that all of those are traits of both museum workers and librarians.

    11. Dr. Vanessa Poseidon

      Oh, I feel ya. It’s not exactly the same, but a little over a year ago, I abandoned plans to enter the museum field. I did a PhD in art history and along the way realized I liked that side of things more than the academic side, so I did a bunch of museum internships, fellowships, freelance work, etc. I went through a grueling job search for 18 months and then kinda just decided that I needed to give up and do something else. Making that decision was tough, because I was a really competitive applicant, got to the final stage of several searches, and probably would have ended up with something if I had kept trying, but I also knew that that was how the field is and how the rest of my working life would be…and I just couldn’t see putting myself through multi-year job searches and cross country moves every time I wanted to move up.

      Anyway, I’m in the corporate world now. My job is far from perfect, and I’m still very much feeling out my new field, but I can’t really say I regret switching paths. I still understand the heartbreak, though.

  17. MassholeMarketer

    After months of job searching, I FINALLY have two places that seem to be extremely interested in me!

    One place wants to reorganize the job description based on my qualifications. I’ve never had anyone THAT interested in me.

    The second place I interviewed with on Tuesday and they already got back to me about a second interview! The manager is on vacation next week but said she wanted to follow up with me before she left. So sweet – I’m really hoping I get this one!

    Does anyone have any advice when it comes to emailing prospective employers? Wednesday I received an email from the first company about doing a Skype interview sometime next week. This would be my second interview with them. I answered within an hour but haven’t heard back since. Should I email them again to make sure they received my email?

    1. mkt

      How exciting!
      I would wait until early next week, maybe Tuesday, before reaching out again. And provide your availability to confirm on interview, that sort of thing. Good luck!

    2. I can't even

      I personally would wait until Monday; a lot of times people do scheduling for the week at the beginning of that week. If you still don’t hear back on Monday, a polite check in is probably fine – I usually like to put some of the onus on my self in the form of “I want to make sure this interview is my top priority this week”, which demonstrates commitment on your end but also that you have your own week to plan. Good luck!

    3. Specialk9

      That’s awesome! I’ve never had anyone rewrite a job description for me either. That’s a big deal!

      Good luck. Go back through the archives here, and Alison’s ebook on interviewing, it’ll help you fill the time and make you feel prepared.

  18. Nervous Accountant

    Evaluations done and over with. No surprises. Maybe I need to seriously consider the Summers Eve method of asking for a raise LOL (link in reply in case anyone’s interested).

    Oh and I didn’t sit in on new guys eval that I was so torn up about lol…my mgr made that decision before I even mentioned it for various reasons. We collaborated on the written review and he had the conversation with him. Our boss also sat in on it at the very end.

    Turns out he was perfectly fine with manager, but gave boss a hard time. Boss finds him to be a sexist creep. I couldn’t put my finger on it before but it was spot on.
    I found out that he was complaining about how I don’t talk to him anymore.
    he aggressively hits on nearly all the females here (ugh) and his past annoying/aggressive behavior w me —I’m even more glad I made the right decision.

        1. Nervous Accountant

          Oh we all make so many inappropriate-for-this-forum jokes at work about this. Just between me and 1-2 close people.

    1. Thosetaxreturnswontfilethemselves

      Oh yuck – yuck – yuck

      I hate your co-worker even more now, like he’s entitled to you being more than professionally courteous to him. The hitting on is extra creepy. I don’t understand how an associate can give “the boss (partner)” a hard time! Can ya’ll just collude to assign him only the most devastatingly horrible assignments until he quits?

      Also – the easiest way to get a raise is to jump to industry. I got a *literal* 50% bump when I left.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        I wanna say it’s bc he’s a sexist POS. And yeah I can’t stand him, he doesn’t report to me and I have no power over his $$ so I will literally pretend he doesn’t exist. I’ve been more than fair with him.

        1. Thosetaxreturnswontfilethemselves

          I’ve been reading along, and with the new color you’ve provided, I don’t know how you were so civil for so long. He would have been iced out a LONG time ago if he worked on any of the teams my friends manage.

      1. Goya de la Mancha

        To be fair, I think they were trying to go along the lines of the Secret deodorant commercials talking about stress sweat and not wanting to be sweaty/stinky when talking to your supervisor.

  19. B

    I did a Skype interview the other day for a firm based in a different country. We have had HORRIBLE heatwaves here the last couple of weeks . When I did the interview, it was 36 degrees outside and about 42 degrees in my apartment because we don’t really have air conditioning. I told them this in the early small talk we made before starting.

    I just got some feedback that I was “unprofessional” because on a couple of occasions during the 40 minute long interview I had a couple of sips of water from a glass of water next to my computer on the table, and I was holding a band-held fan that you couldn’t see much off to try and keep my face cool and not bright red.

    Am I crazy or are they? Like, I am glad they don’t want to hire me now because they are clearly unreasonable, but surely, if someone is in 35+ degree weather, the hill to die on is not them trying to keep their face cool and have the occasional sip of water….

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      I can maybe see the fan thing being flagged as unprofessional, but regardless of the temps, I wouldn’t fault anyone for sipping water during an interview. You’re talking a lot and it makes perfect sense that you might need a drink.

      1. B

        I usually wouldn’t and would suck it up if it was just on the warm side, but with the weather being THAT hot and having to close all the windows to have a quiet environment, I was dying lol, and it was either the fan or be a sweaty, beetroot faced mess, which I thought would reflect even worse on me.

        1. B

          No, it was a very quiet handheld one. Very normal in my country of origin, they don’t make any sound.

      2. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)

        42 degrees Celsius is pretty close to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. A fan is not weird or unprofessional at those temperatures. I disagree with the commenters above. The employer in question here is absolutely out of their mind and I think you dodged a bullet, B.

        1. B

          That’s the thing – if it was 28 degrees, I’d suck up being a bit uncomfortable. But at 42, I was not a bit uncomfortable, I was EXTREMELY uncomfortable and my face going to get read and sweaty if I didn’t try and keep it cool. I don’t know if I am being a bit defensive, but I am sitting here thinking “at 42 degrees, SURELY, you’d understand someone trying to keep some cool air on their face”.

          1. Totally Minnie

            Does the country you’re interviewing in use Celsius or Fahrenheit to measure temperature? If the people you were interviewing with are more familiar with Fahrenheit numbers, they might not have had a context for how hot 42 degrees actually is.

    2. Annie Moose

      I can’t imagine how the occasional sip of water would be unprofessional! Even if it wasn’t that hot, it seems perfectly reasonable that in 40 minutes of talking, you might want to drink something.

      1. Specialk9

        Yeah that’s bonkers. BULLET DODGED.

        As in interviewer, I always offer water, because most people are nervous and water helps with dry throat. And if you were coming in, you’d have A/C so a fan seems reasonable – and if for some reason A/C was broken we’d definitely have fans going!

        Next time, I recommend you sit on an ice pack, and put a bottle full of ice water between your legs (if not visible) up against your femoral artery. (So against your underwear.) That’ll cool your core down.

    3. Corky's Wife Bonnie

      I don’t think you were unprofessional. If you had interviewed in person, they would likely offer you a beverage anyway so what’s the difference between that and your interview on Skype? They are being unreasonable. Stay cool!

    4. Myrin

      I can kinda see the fan as, well, not unprofessional exactly but unusual enough that it would stand out (unless the fan specifically was also mentioned in your “early small talk”, not just the general heat) but drinking water? This might be cultural but I’ve been actively offered something to drink at every job interview I’ve ever been at, so there’s that.

    5. LilySparrow

      Um, 42 degrees is well in the range of temperature where healthy, typically abled people can have serious health issues.

      I’d consider it far more “unprofessional” for you to pass out or start talking loopy from heatstroke.

      They are totally out of line. You do not want to work for anyone with such fundamental disregard for basic safety for their workers.

      FWIW, I live in a hot climate, and it’s normal practice for schools or offices to close if they can’t cool the building to liveable temperatures. But then again, air conditioning is standard here, so the lack of it would be a temporary “something is broken” situation.

    6. Herder of Teenaged Cats

      It could be a cultural thing, too. For instance, in Japan, it’s considered extremely rude to drink something during an interview or meeting or lesson. Fanning yourself can be okay in certain situations, but it can also come off as rude. For me, these are two cultural differences that I have had a real hard time adjusting to as a lifelong desert-dweller–when I’m lecturing, I really want to drink water,and when I’m hot, I want to do what it takes to cool myself down.

      1. Mad Baggins

        I was thinking this as well. I would absolutely not fan myself in an interview, and refrain from drinking water if at all possible (but sounds like it was impossible in this circumstance)(also I think it’s ridiculous to judge someone for drinking water in an interview)

    7. Laura H.

      Omg no,

      That’s not unprofessional at all. Gulping down your water- maybe. But discreet sips? I say reasonable.

    8. LGC

      So – um…first things first, I would have done the interview somewhere else or sometime else, if I were in your position. 42C is roughly 107F – which sounds pretty dangerous. (I’m hoping things have cooled off for you by now!)

      That said, the only way I can see their feedback making any sense is if the role relies heavily on looking as polished as possible. But the issue there isn’t that you had a fan and were drinking water – it’s that you were basically doing an interview from a sauna.

      But yeah, they’re REALLY crazy.

      1. B

        I didn’t really have anywhere else I could do the interview – the lack of AC is a thing for the whole country, and anywhere with it will be a public space like a shopping centre or a cafe, with lots of noise and not to mention weird and uncomfortable for me. The heatwave has also been going on for nearly 2 weeks now with another week coming. There wasn’t much I could do.

    9. Nancie

      If you specifically told them at the beginning of the interview that it was 42c in your apartment, and they’re familiar with Celsius, they’re jerks.

      If you have a decent suspicion that they’re not familiar with Celsius, it might be worth while to send back a quick “sorry, of course I wouldn’t usually use a fan during an interview, but as I’d mentioned it was 42c (107f) in my home.”

      I wouldn’t even mention the water. Unless there is a strong cultural thing against casually drinking during an interview and you’re willing to deal with that, consider it a bullet dodged.

    10. a heather

      I have had an entire glass of water during an in-person interview. (And got the job.) That’s bull.

    11. I'm A Little Teapot

      I mean, the last interview I was on I had an allergy attack that resulted in me coughing uncontrollably and required water to calm down. They hired me.

    12. WorkerBea

      WTH? When I go to in person interviews they OFFER me water or coffee, and I personally wouldn’t begrudgee anyone a fan in the heat. You dodged a bullet.

    13. Jennifer Thneed

      Hah! I judge interviewers poorly when they don’t offer me something to drink. We’re about to TALK for an hour. Of course we need water to sip so our mouths don’t dry out.

      They’re crazy, not you.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I have a similar thing that I do. If employers do not allow employees to drink water on the job then they go on to my “No, Not Ever” list. Prolonged dehydration can trigger so many problems. If an employer does not understand this basic concept, I am not willing to work for them.

        So, OP, they would have had you working in an office that probably did not have AC and you would not be allowed to have water. They showed you who they are and how they react. No job is worth ruining your health over.

    14. only acting normal

      Reeks of “B is actually more suitable than the candidate we want to hire (for biased reasons), so we will pick on completely irrelevant things to use as reasons to reject B.”

  20. Just1L

    I volunteer on a board for a nonprofit industry trade organization. We are looking to get an intern for maybe 10-15 hours a week to assist with social media, recruitment of new members, a little research and help on site at events. As a nonprofit we are unable to pay the intern and would like to work with a local college or university and offer the position as a for credit internship.
    I am not sure where to begin. I am not worried about interest in this as we are a very popular industry that people really want to break into. It’s more a matter of I don’t work in HR and need help setting it up. This internship will offer the candidate a lot of exposure and face time with our members, and could very easily parlay into a fulltime job offer after graduation. Many of our members are hiring managers and we are known for our networking and helping our own.
    Any advice on what area/department of the schools I should reach out to would be appreciated. And any other advice on internships would be most welcome. Thank you in advance!!!!

    1. Hey-eh

      Most universities will have a Career Counselling office. You can start there. Also, universities have like a bazillion clubs and organizations. There are likely one or two that are similar to your nonprofit’s mission that you can reach out to and chat with. They may have members that are interested. If the universities don’t have a credit internship program you may still be able to find someone (or two people) who would be willing to volunteer to build their resume.

      1. AnotherJill

        Yes, this. It would be pretty rare these days for a college or university to not have an office dealing specifically with internships.

    2. Artemesia

      I would be cultivating contacts in the department of the local college that trains students in your field. Are there programs in business especially non-profit business, or HR, or leadership? Sometimes if you contact the department head, they will send you to a faculty member who facilitates internships or there may actually be an internship coordinator. Once you build these relationships you will be able to get good interns, but first you need to clarify with someone who manages interns what they are looking for in experiences and what you need and then help them provide appropriate intern feedback during the first experience. Make sure you stress the academic growth components as well as networking connections. The coordinator or faculty member may know particular students adept in social media or who are hoping for a future role in event planning and have just the right person. ONce you find the right connection they will be eager to work with you.

    3. Washi

      We always had a good amount of traffic from posting on Idealist, if you’re willing to pay a small fee.

    4. Jules the 3rd

      Definitely Career Counseling. Make sure you’re reaching out to more than just the first tier schools, such as HBCUs in your area.

      1. disney+coffee

        I would definitely recommend reaching out to Career Counseling. However, my college’s career center was pretty awful so you should probably consider other methods as well. I would reach out to the Communications, English, and Political Science/International Affairs departments, if they’re at the school. There’s probably some department coordinator who can send out information to their students (at least that’s what my dept. coordinate did for us in terms of internships).
        I was an intern at a non-profit in college and I just found the position by searching for “non-profit internships near ___ university” online. Even posting an application on your website and social media would probably generate some traffic as well especially if you’re in an area with a lot of college students.

        1. disney+coffee

          (also sorry that I replied to another reply, I meant to reply to the main post. I totally wasn’t paying enough attention and hit the wrong button!)

  21. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)

    A resume was recently submitted to us for a librarian position, and one of the bullet points listed under a previous job was “Provide extreme customer service to library patrons.”

    Um. What is “extreme customer service”? In a public library setting, would that mean challenging a disorderly patron to a duel? Or giving a troubled patron a box of chocolates and a massive hug? I can’t even imagine.

    1. Myrin

      That’s hilarious.
      Could it have been some kind of typo/autocorrect kind of situation, like “external customer service” or similar? I much prefer imagining them hiking up the shelves at high speed, though.

      1. The New Wanderer

        Or doing parkour over the shelves while taking out the exact books being asked for in mid-flip.

        1. Nancie

          Not gonna lie, that would impress me. I’d have to offer to tip them for an excellent performance.

    2. Murphy

      HAHA! If that’s what they meant to say and it wasn’t a typo, maybe they mean a lot of hand holding? A lot of “basically you have to do everything for them?” Otherwise, I have no clue.

      I hope it’s dueling though.

    3. Lemon Sherbet

      I think they probably were going for “superior” and just didn’t use the right word.

    4. MuseumChick

      You know, with the level of emotional labor expect from those who work in libraries, museums, archives, etc “Extreme Customer Service” is a pretty accurate description, lol.

      If every thing else on the resume was good I would probably interview this person.

      1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)

        The rest of the resume was average overall, and we got several above average resumes, so sadly, we probably won’t interview him and get to find out. (Which really is too bad, because I’m VERY curious and am laughing out loud at many of the comments here)

        1. MuseumChick

          Ah, that is unfortunate. If his resume was in the above average category I would totally interview him.

      2. Treecat

        Ugh, right?

        I know I’m the worst but when I get a student in on week 8/10 in the quarter crying that they’ve not yet started their final paper I’m like “well, sucks for you, doesn’t it!”

        But no I don’t get to say that, so I grit my teeth, put on my least rictus-like smile, and do my best to help them, all while imagining the giant martini I’m going to drink when I get home.

    5. Multitudinous

      Parkour across the circ desk to help little old ladies with stacks of books.
      Have book cart street races to transport ILLs.
      Let patrons bungee jump from the top of the stacks to reach their holds.

    6. Decima Dewey

      Pressing books or DVDs on a patron minding their own business until they either check the stuff out or run screaming out of the building?

      1. AnotherJill

        Maybe he’s full-on-Oprah. Here’s a book for you! And a book for you! And a book for you!

    7. JeanB in NC

      I used to put “extreme organizational skills” on my resume. I actually really believe that and it got people asking questions. I don’t do it anymore though.

    8. WellRed

      I bet it wasn’t a typo, just more of that weird rock star/ninja language. I saw some sort of office manager job that called for “maniacal attention to detail.”

    9. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

      I’m imagining someone jumping out from between the stacks yelling in their loud overly dramatic cheesy school assembly motivational speaker voice “Let meeee find youuuuu the book that will chaynge your life foreverrrrr!”

    10. Logan

      This sounds like something an acquaintance of mine would say (any chance the applicant’s initials are EZ?)

      He’s not very polished in a written format, but I do know that he goes overboard helping out library patrons, especially in comparison to other employees. Giving tours of the library, or answering questions about the local community (outside the library), or… you name it, he’ll find a way to help you. I helped him rewrite his resume, and that was one of the lines, but maybe the changes didn’t propagate to all versions…

    11. Middle School Teacher

      Throwing books at them, playing loud music, and skateboarding? To the extreme!!!!

    12. Falling Diphthong

      I’d be inclined to give them an interview just to find out.

      In real life, a political race in Virginia now involves Bigfoot erotica. This is not a time in our nation’s history to assume that weird things must just be typos.

      1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)

        That just put a horrible, horrible visual in my head.

        I’m really curious, also. The way our luck is going with filling this position, it would not surprise me if our top candidates all either flake or are terrible and we have to circle back to this person eventually!

    13. Treecat

      I was thinking more like x-games extreme… so customer service while rail grinding on a skateboard, or something.

      Now I’d work the ref desk more if I got to see that kind of thing!

  22. Emma

    I didn’t get the job (that I was specifically asked to apply for & the application/interview process took nine entire weeks) and work this past week has been a struggle & a half. I’m so tempted to quit even though I don’t have another job lined up (or enough savings to support myself unless I take money out of my IRA). I’d love some good vibes!

    1. nep

      So sorry to hear that, Emma. That is so tough to take.
      Sending the best vibes I can conjure. All the best in your search.

    2. CBE

      That’s happened to me a couple times, and it’s the worst! When someone comes to you and says “You should apply for this job, it would be perfect for you!” and you go through the whole process and don’t get the job. Or (as happened to me one) don’t even get an interview!
      I hope you can hang on at your current job until you get a better one. And I hope that’s SOON!

      1. Artemesia

        Oh yeah. I am cool with, ‘I applied but didn’t get chosen’ but when they seek you out for something that you weren’t even looking for and then reject you it cuts. It reminds me of those actors who are told ‘we are looking for someone like Big Name and when Big Name, says ‘I’d love to audition’, they say well LIKE Big Name but not. . . .’

        1. Emma

          It’s the worst!! Especially since the job was exactly what I had been looking for (database support for a nonprofit development team without actually BEING Development™) and it seemed like a great fit. Applied to work the front desk on weekends at a tattoo shop on a whim yesterday though so maybe this is the beginning of my new career as a body piercer??

    3. As Close As Breakfast

      This happened to me once and it was awful. My boss and her boss both told me to apply. It was government so the process took FOREVER. It came down to me and one other person and I didn’t get the job. I was miserable. My boss’s boss even cornered me in the bathroom to talk about why they choose the other candidate, which I will never for the life of me understand. The bathroom?!?!? I cried. It sucked. Anywho… it ended up okay because I did quit. The whole mess ended up being that last thing I needed to look for another job. I was super underemployed (as so many of us where in 2010ish) and I luckily found a way better job within 2 weeks of being rejected. I turned in my resignation with glee. I laughed at home over how shocked they were that I was quitting. I found (petty) joy when I learned about 6 months later that the person they hired over me wasn’t doing that great of a job. Because I would have rocked that job. But I’ll be forever grateful that they didn’t hire me. I’m sending you extra big good vibes! And I hope one day you can look back and be glad they didn’t hire you too! Good luck!!!

      1. I❤️Spreadsheets

        I’ve had a similar experience. I was asked to apply for my managers job when they handed in their resignation. I applied and at the closing date was the only applicant, so they extended the deadline for a few weeks. They got a few more applicants and I was one of the shortlisted candidates.

        After the interview process I was told that I hadn’t got the job which hurt. I’m still in my old role and had to support the new manager when they started. Two years later the new manager is facing a mutiny from the staff and an investigation by the higher management. Depending on the outcome of the investigation we may be looking for a new manager – it will be a shock to some that I will not even consider applying this time!

  23. Ask a Manager Post author

    Has anyone else noticed the sudden emergence of the phrase “not a good look”? As in, “don’t shave your legs at your desk — it’s not a good look” or “charging an employee for business cards is not a good look.” In the last six months, it has been everywhere in the comment section. I just searched to see how often it came up a year ago, and the answer is almost not at all — but it’s been practically daily recently. What is going on with this phrase? (Full disclosure, it drives me batty for some reason, probably just because of its sudden frequency.)

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      Is it possible people were using NAGL and you didn’t know what it meant? I didn’t for a long time.

    2. Annie Moose

      Please tell me that shaving legs at your desk is not a real thing a real person has really done.

    3. ZSD

      Interesting. I can say that I’ve been familiar with the phrase for much more than a year, but I don’t know why it would suddenly be showing up in your comments. How many different commenters have used this phrase? Is it just one or two new people who happen to use it often?

        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          Were some of the initial uses you found by popular/prolific commenters that others may have taken a cue from?

          1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

            Or Alison herself.

            I’ve noticed it too and thought it might just be some of the commentators parroting the verbiage that Alison has used.

            1. Detective Amy Santiago

              I’m thinking not Alison since she mentioned not liking it. But it’s possible it was included in a letter or something and that’s where people got it.

        2. LawLady

          Do you think maybe it’s because there’s an increased awareness (on this site and in the world broadly) of how some other terms might be problematic or stigmatizing? I think people are now a lot less likely to call something “crazy”, or “psycho”, or “insane”, or the r-word, etc. than they were even just a year ago.

          “Not a good look” means that something is bad, but doesn’t make reference to a disadvantaged group.

            1. No Tribble At All

              Right, and it’s also blameless. It’s not that you’re doing something /bad/, but the thing you’re doing /looks/ bad. My guess is it came from advice on how to criticize an action without criticizing the person.

        3. Rhiiiiiiannnnnnnon

          Is it possible that you’ve started to reach a new age/location demographic recently? My Midwestern mother who’s turning 60 soon has been using “not a good look,” my whole life. Its one of her favorite phrases! I remember her friends also used it frequently.

        4. schnauzerfan

          It was posted in Urban Dictionary in 2010, It’s acronym is even earlier “”NaGL” Not a Good Look –
          “NaGL” a stage play written by an Australian- Polish playwright/director Lech Mackiewicz in 2004. Submitted to the Sydney Theatre Company and to the Griffin Theatre Co. programs and rejected it was further revised in 2006. It will be staged in Sydney at The Tap Gallery in September 2010.
          Cast of 5 ( 2 females , 3 males ). Two acts.”

          I heard it years ago. I thought it died out… don’t know why it’s back

      1. Cambridge Comma

        If you look at it in Google’s n-gram viewer, it started to be used in 1990 (at least in that corpus).
        I personally use it was a gentler way of saying “you may be a massive bigot, but don’t think that being one doesn’t make you look bad”. And massive bigots seem to be less inhibited to express their views recently.

    4. Tableau Wizard

      I haven’t noticed it here, but I do know that has been more popular in my conversations over the past year. Do we know what the origin is? Is there some show that made it more prevalent or something?

    5. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

      I used to hear it a LOT when I worked for a major financial services company (2014-15). Freaking EVERYONE there said “This is a good look” or “That is not a good look”….I dated a guy who worked there and he used it so often I finally snapped…..”No, you’re right. Getting upset about that isn’t a good look, in fact it’s not even a look because being upset is a feeling and feelings don’t have looks unless you’re taking acid and we’re both too old for that these days!” Took him a minute, but I don’t think he ever used that phrase again around me.

      I haven’t heard it much lately, though. Which is odd. Usually Floriduh is centuries behind any emerging trend.

      1. whistle

        Hm. This isn’t an expression I use a ton, but I think I can only say “That’s not a good look”. I don’t think I would ever say the positive version “That’s a good look”. Anyone else have this distinction?

        (Sorry, Destroyer, I know that’s not what your comment was about, but I find it really interesting that people say “That’s a good look.” (when not talking about clothes))

        1. Jules the 3rd

          You’d say, ‘that looks great’ instead. ‘A good look’ – maybe in the fashion industry. I think I’ve heard it on some makeover show years ago, like ‘what not to wear’.

          I wonder if it gets used a lot on Queer Eye or RuPaul’s Drag Race? I think I’ve heard it on QE a couple of times, I know I’ve seen people use it in discussing QE shows.

          1. Decima Dewey

            Back in the day, Tim Gunn used to say of some contestant’s overdone designs “That’s a lot of look.” So much subtler than “My eyes!”

    6. Phoenix Programmer

      It seems to be part on parcel with social news pieces. I’ve seen hiff post and Slate ise the term In their social justice opionions or articles and I think it’s been picked up in the general vernacular more

    7. hermit crab

      I think I’ve only ever seen it used in the AAM comments!

      I don’t know the first thing about approaching an analysis like this — but it could be a fascinating case study on how popular phrases get sparked and then spread and change a group’s language patterns over time. Like when a cool new kid moves to town from Boston and suddenly everyone in the fifth grade is using “wicked” as an adverb, until it spreads too much and isn’t hip anymore.

    8. Pollygrammer

      I’ve heard this phrase mostly from teenagers.

      Josie is totally stalking Dan’s Insta even though she knows he’s into Britney. It’s not a good look.

    9. k.k

      That’s a phrase that’s entered my lexicon radar in the last year or so as becoming more popular. I know it’s been around longer, but I’ve particularly noticed it being used more by the demographic of people over 30 who are also using phrases like “YAS queen” and “on fleek”. (Not to say those are the only ones using it, but that’s my indicator for when slang has reached critical mass).

      1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

        Me too. I think it might be a next stage evolution of that phrase.

      2. CMart

        I was going to suggest that people have adopted it en masse after what seemed to be a huge influx in the use of “optics” half a year ish ago, which drives ME batty.

        Alison–was there a drop off in “optics”, or a similar spike in “optics” at some point? I remember it felt like I was seeing it everywhere in the comments on this site for a while.

      3. Windchime

        Yeah, I was thinking it had taken the place of “bad optics”. For some reason, the “not a good look” phrase bugs me, too.

    10. Myrin

      Off-topic (which seems somewhat ironic with your other comment down below), but this site can be searched that precisely? Is that through the “custom search”/”search this site” feature to the right or is it something only you as an admin can do? Because I’ve used the search bar for certain topics where I remembered some phrases exactly/word-for-word, but the post I was looking for still didn’t show up. Is there another way to search the site that I’m somehow not privy to?

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yeah, it’s an administrative feature — I can search all the comments from the back-end of WordPress.

        But also, when I want to search everything all at once (posts and comments), I go to Google and type in:

        site:askamanager.org (search term, without these parentheses)

        That way you can restrict by date, etc. and I find it better than the site search engine (which is weird, because the site search engine is also powered by Google).

    11. Funbud

      Alison, I have to say that I find your questioning of the increased use of this phrase to really be “not a good look”…

      Just saying.

    12. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials

      “Not a good look” bothers me because it sounds so condescending, I can always see/hear it in my mind with a little pursed-lip pause immediately preceding it. I don’t mind “optics” as much because while it sounds a tad pretentious, it does efficiently describe something in the business world, and “we need to consider the optics” or “the optics are bad” sound less accusatory, when you’re using it with higher-ups, than “this makes us look bad.”

      1. Persimmons

        Agreed. I feel like it’s often used for office dog-whistling. As in, “Jane is in loafers today, it really isn’t a good look. The executive admins know they’re supposed to wear high heels.”

      2. Sally

        This kind of business-speak drives me nuts! There’s already a phrase for that – “we need to think about how this looks.” I use these words and phrases because everyone else does, and I don’t want to seem like the stick in the mud I sometimes am. It’s difficult to walk the fine line between “grammar has rules!” and “humans invented language, and we can add to it or reinvent it if we want.”

    13. Tara S.

      I’ve heard that phrase for a long time, but not in a work context. Phrasing like that can pop up communally though, like Detective Amy Santiago mentioned, it might have been started by some and then picked up by others. It’ll probably taper off and die out, though I don’t know on what time frame.

    14. Emmie

      Posters pick up jargon from others on the board – much like we did with the duck club, Waukeen, and teapots. Popular posters create a language, and we have a culture to the AAM page. It’s probably the same reason why language evolves in real life. We see others use it and it becomes part of our vocabulary. The “not a good look” is a little behind IRL times. That phrase was pretty popular about five years ago in my IRL city.

    15. Tina

      I wonder if a lot of the commenters here crossover with being “in the know” with social justice oriented Twitter lingo, which shifts (like using terms “do better” until it becomes almost cliche). I feel like “not a good look” is an iteration of “do better.”

    16. Applesauced

      This feels like something JVN would say on Queer Eye… which began in February of this year

    17. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      Honestly, I’m not sure it would have stood out to me if it did; it’s a phrase my family uses pretty often, so it seems normal to me.

      That said, if it just suddenly became a thing on the website, that’s interesting! (And weird.)

    18. JamieS

      Haven’t noticed. Think I may have used it recently but I’ve known the phrase for years so maybe there’s just been more letters recently where the phrase is appropriate. Is there a pretty even distribution over the last 6 months or are most sightingson a few letters?

        1. JamieS

          At this point commenters are probably using it because they’ve seen others use it on this site so it’s now a cycle. Similar to “gentle reminder” which drives me up a wall.

          There’s probably a trigger thread (maybe a couple) that was pretty popular where someone used it, couple others saw it and decided to use it too, and eventually it grew to daily usage.

          1. Windchime

            Auuuuggghh, “gentle reminder” sounds *so* condescending to me. I think people use the word “gently” when they mean “tactfully”. It’s OK to tactfully remind me of something or tell me that my skirt is tucked up into my undies, but there is no reason to approach me gingerly or tell me “gently”.

            1. JamieS

              Yes exactly. The condescension is maddening. Whenever I see “gentle reminder” I instantly read the post in a tone that should only be used when talking to young children which is part of my hate-hate relationship with the phrase. Everyone here is an adult, or close to it, so if you have something to say just say it. An adult doesn’t need to be “gently” talked to.

              The other issue I have is that I think it’s sometimes used when a poster is trying to shut another poster they disagree with down but that other poster didn’t break any rules.

    19. Snork Maiden

      I’ve always used this phrase, as far back as I can remember – but I had the same reaction to when everyone started using “optics” in a similar context, all at once. My spouse even used it in conversation with me! I found it bizarre. Where did it come from?

      In related news I am a word worm vector. I accidentally had my old workplace saying “theoretically” and “ostensibly” for about a year. They’re good words, Bront…

      1. JessicaTate

        “Optics” is the one that caught me when it started being heard in everyday conversation. I always assumed that it’s common usage started with season one of Scandal (I swear that’s the first place I heard it, and they said it ALL the time).

        But I can’t think of a pop culture genesis of “not a good look.”

    20. smoke tree

      I can’t say I’ve noticed others using it, but that’s probably because I’m an unapologetic user myself (sorry!) I think it’s more diplomatic than just telling someone they are coming across as a bigot, which is the context where I use it most often.

    21. Someone else

      I’ve definitely noticed it increasing in frequency (not specifically here just in general in my experience), but it hasn’t seemed super sudden to me. A pretty steady increase in the past 2ish years.

    22. Like what even

      From my understanding, this phrase comes from queer comunities, esp black and latinx drag communities! Similar to “serving looks,” etc. And I think with the advent of RuPaul and mainstreaming (or appropriation depending on how you wanna slice it) of queer poc culture, it’s becoming more common. I’ve heard it/used it for quite a few years now.

    23. Yorick

      That’s so funny, just the other day I was thinking about how much it’s used here.

      I find it offputting, it feels a little too sassy or something to me. But I guess I’m imagining actually TELLING someone what they’re doing isn’t a good look, but that’s not what people are doing.

    24. amanda_cake

      I don’t think I say it often, but it doesn’t bother me.

      I played softball for years (at the college level as well) and one of the things ball players say is “good look” when the batter doesn’t swing at a pitch that is a ball. Having heard that a gracious plenty, it doesn’t bother me.

    25. Not So NewReader

      The only place I have seen it used much is on here. But I don’t get out as often as I should.

      I think I remember a thread with people discussing their dislike for the phrase. We tend to move through topics and we moved on from that discussion. It was quiet for a while, then I started noticing people were using the phrase.

      Some work places gravitate towards understatements. Not a good look can be an understatement for many negative messages. Some people don’t like delivering negative messages so this could be a way to get the point across with out saying, “hey, dunderhead, don’t do that again”.

      I think that some people would not get the message if told, “Not wearing socks is not a good look here.” I am not a fan of statements that do not tell the person what to do. A more effective message might be, “Hey, just to let you know, everyone wears socks here. It’s a quirk of our culture. I thought you’d want to know.”

    26. Iain C

      I am pretty sure I’ve seen you writing about ‘optics more than a year ago. It’s not really all that different…

      1. Iain C

        Of course I did the thing others do that annoys me – not refreshing before posting…
        Not good optics…

  24. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

    Just wanted to pop in and give y’all a little update…with some news that is very very bad for my former employers.

    The government agencies have started landing. OSHA has accepted my whistleblower complaint and they are initiating the government’s penalties for violating whistleblower protections. Things are progressing nicely on that front. My former employers have received my attorney’s “F&ck You you’re being sued” letter. Oh, my attorney has also filed a discrimination complaint with the EEOC. I love my lawyer.

    Things have taken a very serious turn for me, however. On Saturday, 7/21, I was taken to the emergency room. Untreated bronchitis (no insurance and no job to pay for a doctor). Was home five hours later. Woke up Tuesday morning, at 435. Ran to the little girl’s room and then back to bed, but I needed a breathing treatment. Primed up my nebulizer, strapped on my face mask, turned on the nebulizer and went to take a breath and…..there was nothing there. My lungs were not inflating (I have asthma, COPD and emphysema). I pulled on my robe (inside out…SMH), grabbed my cell phone and headed for my car. I turned on the a/c so I could breathe (forcing oxygen into my lungs) and called 911. The ambulance came but they wouldn’t give me the Solumed (steroid) push so I could breathe. They kept saying “Defib paddles are ready” (they were talking to the hospital). I’ve never had them talk about the paddles before when I’ve had to go to the hospital. I kept saying “Ok” and they would say “We’re talking to the hospital.” I started getting very scared.

    Long story short, all of the stress related to losing my job, the lawsuit, all the federal/state/local agencies, wondering how in the hell I’m going to pay my bills…all of that stress caused stress-related cardiomyopathy (aka broken-heart syndrome or takotsubo cardiomyopathy). Apparently, when they hooked up the EKG in the ambulance, my heart was all over the place, no rhythms or patterns whatsoever, just all over the place. Thank God they didn’t tell me that then. I had no idea how serious it was until the nurse came into my ER room with an 81mg aspirin and a nitroglycerin patch. These were to protect my heart while they transported me to my room, I was being admitted to the cardiac care unit. At that point, I completely lost my s&it. “I have bronchitis, what heart damage are you talking about?” I just kept saying that over and over again, practically screaming at them. That was when they told me I had blown out the wall of the lower left ventricle of my heart.

    My doctors are putting me out on total permanent disability, the best I can currently hope for is a 70% cardiac recovery. I left the hospital with 30% cardiac function. I had to undergo God knows how many EKGs, a cardiac CAT scan, a cardiac ultrasound, AND a cardiac catheterization which necessitated a phone call to my 85 year old father, thanking him for a good life and for everything he and my mom did for me. There was a chance I would not make it through the catheterization. That was, hands down, the single hardest, most difficult phone call I’ve ever made in my life. Obviously, I survived but I still had to make that phone call.

    My doctors are going on record that all of the stress related to my wrongful termination caused 100% of this cardiac issue. My attorney’s justice boner has punctured the stratosphere so we could probably blame him for global warming at this point.

    So I am in some kind of recovery. I can’t work for the foreseeable future and will probably never work again. I rest a lot, I take my meds, and I try really hard to not think about the lawsuit or my former asshole employers. My neighbors make sure I eat (the benefits of living in a 55+ community, they’re all busybodies and I am their project now, LOL) and check in on me throughout the day. My struggle right now is how I’m going to pay my bills….due to all the ins and outs, I can only claim unemployment for a very short period of time so it does not affect my disability/Medicaid…..so I’m hoping this all irons itself out much more sooner than later. I just received my USPS Informed Delivery Digest for today and I have three pieces of mail from the State of Florida Disability Determinations….fingers crossed it’s good news for me!!!!

    (But just for fun…..of course this week I start getting calls for interviews! I’ve gone on two of them, but they exhausted me so thoroughly it took me two days to recover. Some folks believe in “Carpe Diem!” Seize the Day! I subscribe to “Carpe Somnum!” Seize the Bed!)

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      You are my hero!

      I am so sorry to hear about your medical problems. Sending you positive vibes.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Thanks Amy. This is a setback, I will not be deterred from my intended course of utter and total destruction. THEIR destruction, not mine own!!!!!!!

    2. MechanicalPencil

      Oh my. Your story has been turbulent from the start, but I never expected this. Internet hugs if you want them. Good neighbors are blessings in disguise, so I hope they smother you in well intentioned casseroles. And justice boner. There’s a turn of phrase. Please keep us updated and yourself healthy.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        I didn’t either. Coulda knocked me over, but how happy was I when my doctors agreed to go on record!!!! Couldn’t stop smiling at that point in time. Hugs are always welcome, thank you!! Yesterday, pastries were delivered and my neighbor had me over for homemade fried chicken and it was good!!!!!!! Om nom nom…..my cats were licking my fingers for hours!!!!!! (Thankfully I have my babies, including 5 kittens, who keep me laughing which is good stuff!)

        1. hari

          I’m not from the US but in my country it is very hard to get doctors to go on record and say medical problems were caused by stress because it is very hard to prove that was the cause sometimes they say stress exacerbated a condition but they won’t say it caused it (it does happen but not often). So I’m glad it worked for you.

          So sorry to hear about your medical problems hope you feel better soon.

          And I am stealing the phrase “justice boner”.

          1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

            The thing I have going for me is that “stress” is actually in the name of the condition: “stress related cardiomyopathy.” I have zero history of this type of cardiac condition, and a well-documented recent stressor. I had a very very minor heart attack about two years ago, but that was even more mild than this and I was recovered from that in 2 or 3 days (the lung paralysis took me 5 weeks to recover from). I was leery as to whether or not they would go on record, but all three agreed that they would. I was thrilled!!!!!!!!

            Justice boner is a beautiful phrase…..sums everything up very nicely! :)

            (As a side note…..what I find kind of interesting about stress related cardiomyopathy is that it affects mostly women (90%) and it just pings the feminist in me….what? we’re such delicate little flowers that only *we* can have stress related heart issues? Something along those lines…..)

            1. Not So NewReader

              I think that women run out of vitamins and minerals in a manner that men do not experience. I am thinking in terms of our monthly cycles and how that translates to loss of nutrition in the blood, when the body is already at full capacity for stress. However, I know more men who have had stress related heart attacks than women. I think part of the problem could be that it’s frowned upon to label a man with a stress related illness.

              FWIW, I think you are a very strong person. I would have been flat on my back long before now.

              A tidbit that may/may not help. I was helping a friend with her lawsuit. We visited an attorney who explained in painful detail what the process would be. I said, “A person could get sick doing this.” The attorney blurted out, “No. A person WILL get seriously sick doing this, it’s a certainty.”
              So it must be that some lawyers are already aware that their clients will become seriously ill given their setting. They are used to seeing it.

              1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

                Wow, that’s frightening! (What the attorney said.) I never expected anything like this, I’m usually pretty darn strong.

                All of the research I’ve done (and I really need to stay away from the Google sometimes) says that it affects post-menopausal women so it definitely has something to do with either the hormones or vitamins and minerals. Of course, I’m 7 years younger than the lowest average female age so it’s one of those “Figures!” things for me.

                1. Not So NewReader

                  The problem with lawsuits is that they force a person to focus on the past and keep reviewing Ugly Thing and then review it some more down to the finest detail. It’s the psychological equivalent of having your leg caught in a leg trap and you cannot move on. And the stupid a$$ things people think of to say is only gas on the already blazing fire.
                  Strategically, start adding enjoyable things to your life. Create a portion of your life that is a no-fly zone for court talk and court related stuff. I have used different techniques. One time my no-fly zone was based on time of day. After 9 pm I did not allow myself to think about All Consuming Problem. If I slipped up, I would just redirect myself. This worked well because there is not a lot a person can do at 9 pm anyway.

    3. Corky's Wife Bonnie

      WOW!!!! Holy Moly!! I wish you much luck through this whole process, medical and legal. Your phrase “My attorney’s justice boner has punctured the stratosphere” has been the best thing I’ve read all day. Hang in there, rooting for you!!

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Thanks Bonnie. As I told Amy, this is just a setback for me. I’m just stubborn enough that there is no way I’m gonna die until I win this thing. I have HAD IT with those jokers, and asshole employers in general. I have a really great Valium scrip now, though.

        So I’ve got *that* going for me.

      2. Mary (in PA)

        Yeah, I feel terrible for all that you’ve been through, but that phrase made me laugh extremely hard. Best of luck to you and I hope you feel better soon.

        1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

          Thanks Mary, I appreciate that. At least they didn’t take away my bacon! I told my cardiologist that he could have my bacon when he pried it from my cold dead hands. He wasn’t amused.

          1. Not So NewReader

            Drink plenty of water. Some folks get some results with water and just keep their bacon.

    4. Annie Moose

      Oh no. That’s awful. On top of all the stress you were going through already…

      But! It sounds like you have some great neighbors and a great lawyer, and that has got to help a lot. If I’ve read your previous posts correctly, all the legal stuff is already in motion, right? So you’re not having to get a lawyer, make various reports, etc. ON TOP OF the medical stuff.

      Praying that your recovery goes as smoothly as possible and that those Disability Determinations contain good news!!

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Hi Annie and thanks. Yes, you are correct. My attorney was retained approximately two hours after I was wrongfully terminated and all the complaints had been filed by then as well. So yeah, nothing for me to really do except respond to further inquiries for information. All the footwork is done. I’m not a patient person, by nature, so just sitting here and waiting for the wheels of justice to turn is not easy!!!! And I have to stay away from inflammatory posts so the political stuff I used to screw around with online is off limits…..puppies and kittens are fun, though.

        1. Annie Moose

          Kittens always make things better!

          …until they adorably climb up your leg and adorably poke a bunch of holes in your new pants, but they’re still so cute I can’t get mad at them.

          1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

            These guys are at that point right now. Fortunately, they are settling for climbing up the couch and snuggling/playing with me there. Kitten energy is so awesome…one second they are in full attack mode, gnawing on my hand, rabbit kicking my wrist and then…..asleep with their teeth around my finger. They’re so cute…..with bigbigbig motors!

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Yay I made someone laugh today! That’s my one daily goal, to make at least one person a day laugh, and I’ve met that goal early today! (He really does have a justice boner now…..I could almost hear it growing while I was telling him about my hospital stay. When I told him my doctors would go on record, that was when I heard the stratosphere “pop” as it was punctured…..)

    5. Ali G

      Wow – I really hope you are feeling better soon! This is a lot to take for just one person. I’m glad you have some people for support (even the busy bodies!).
      I have no advice – just sending good vibes your way!

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Thanks Ali, good vibes, prayers, it’s all welcome. It’s not easy, I’m single and don’t date, don’t have a lot of friends, so relying on/calling on others is difficult for me. I’m learning to suck it up!

    6. Nita

      I am so sorry that happened to you! Try to take it easy, and wishing you a really good recovery. I don’t know how you’re coping with the possibility of never working again… that’s a tough one. I hope that works out the way you want it to.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Thanks Nita. Some days, I’m ok with not working again, others I get angry that I’m only 51 and some jackhandle who thinks he knows how to run a company ran me into the ground. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it. I’m not a freeloader, I want to work, I have a good mind…..but ah hell, I don’t know any more. I wish it wasn’t like this. I really do. That’s probably the best I can come up with right now.

    7. Indefinite Contract Attorney

      POMPOMS! Best wishes for a good recovery; I’m so glad surgery was successful and you have a wonderful community around you!

    8. Thlayli

      Holy shit. Not sure what to say. Umm… get well soon? Hope you recover from your heart attack.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Thanks Thlayli……if I can get the lawsuit settled, that will go a long long way to my recovery! Just knowing my bills will be paid……and my medications. *eye roll*

    9. RabbitRabbit

      Dang! That’s the second time this week I’ve heard about a case of takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Glad to hear at least the feds and your lawyers should be raining down sweet, sweet justice.

      Glad to hear your neighbors are helping take care of you, and that you are trying to pace yourself. My husband was recently hospitalized for a near-death experience due to a condition exacerbated by work stress (and first diagnosed in the hospital), and it’s amazing how many people – including his boss – assume because he didn’t die or get maimed, he should be 100% fine now. This isn’t TV! Instead it’s surprising how many issues keep popping up along the way.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        I had never heard of it before…..my exes think it’s hilarious that it’s also known as “broken heart syndrome.” There’s a reason they are exes.

        I sure hope your hubby is ok!!!! I am also amazed at the willful ignorance of some people. My mom, of all people…..while I’m in the hospital, hooked up to a bunch of machines, she wants to talk about my job search and when I’ll be able to go on interviews. The nurse came running in (because my heart monitor was going crazy) and ended the call. She told my mother that this was NOT the time for that conversation, and that THAT was part of the problem. To her credit, my mom backed right off and has been supportive ever since. My father probably also chewed her a new one, as well. Love her to pieces, the best woman I know, but doesn’t have a compassionate/empathetic bone in her entire body. Absolutely amazing.

    10. Tau

      Oh my god, I’m so sorry to hear about your health problems! That’s absolutely terrible. I haven’t comment but I’ve been following your story on the open thread hoping for karmic comeuppance to hit your company. All the best wishes for your recovery, really hoping it’s all good news from here on out because you deserve it!!

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Thanks Tau. Karmic comeuppance, and a rather large meteor, could hit that company and I would throw a party.

    11. Discordia Angel Jones

      I am really sorry to hear the troubles you are going through, and I hope you astound medical science and make a full recovery!! You definitely don’t need any more stuff to deal with right now…

      In any event, I have to say, I’ve been reading your saga and your writing style is fantastic. If you can’t work work, maybe you should write books instead!

      Jedi hugs if you want them

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Thanks Discordia. I’d be happy to get to 90%…..I think that would make my doctors happy, too.

        I actually love writing (and I type really fast 104wpm…LOL)…..but I wouldn’t have a clue where to start. I’m in my “second lifetime” right now, having done my “career thing” and having a blast until about age 30. Tons of great fun stories and experiences, I’ve met lots of interesting people and worked some very interesting jobs (automotive service manager for a supercharger company, I can rebuilt a supercharger with my eyes closed!; guard/counselor at the California Youth Authority–that was my “career job” that I went to school for) but I would have no idea where to begin. I’m not sure I could handle the rejection, either!

        All hugs are welcome and I thank you for them!!!!

    12. Tiny Teapot

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this horrible health situation. That is so, so scary and I am sending good thoughts to the universe for your speedy and thorough recovery.

      I looked up your previous posts after seeing your first couple of sentences and I find your situation fascinating on so many levels. The amount of WHAT THE FUCK that lives in this space – leadership in that company, scamming those who are less fortunate than them and taking the last vestiges of their pride and life – I just…it is horrible. It hurts my heart, and so I can understand on many levels how it broke yous (except…also…literally it did so to you!). I am so glad you chose to pursue an option that would put a stop to some amount of this horrible situation.

      Again, many wishes for your speedy recovery and best of luck in the future. You seem like a cool cat and I look forward to reading your updates.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Thanks Tiny. Yes, that’s the best way to put it: the amount of WTF…..everytime I thought it couldn’t get worse, it did! I was rereading AAM archives of really really bad workplaces just to keep perspective. ha ha. (but not really!) I just got pushed too far.

        Hoping recovery is somewhat speedy and maybe I can at least work part time. I’m hoping to be able to give all the deets once all is said and done…….so much interesting stuff happening!

    13. CupcakeCounter

      Justice boner is my new favorite thing.
      Also glad you are still with us – heart issues are no joke. My husband got a defibrillator/pacemaker at 31 due to catching a cold.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        OMG! 31?!?!?! That’s horrible!!!!!!!!!!! I am so sorry y’all have to go through that.

        I’m hoping for a more than 70% recovery. I’m no good at stagnation and I can only do so much laundry. The cats are sick and tired of me washing their beds.

        1. CupcakeCounter

          Honestly it was probably a good thing since “the incident” happened when I was home and could help him out. His grandfather essentially dropped dead of what he was diagnosed with and his uncle was diagnosed so late that his quality of life isn’t great. He’s made a few jokes since we met that he would die young (40’s-50’s) so make sure my 2nd husband was really rich. I noticed a couple of years after he got the device that he stopped those jokes. When I asked what changed he said that they probably already found what was going to kill him and sort of fixed it so he will most likely be sticking around longer than he originally thought.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

            Did you then tease him that it was time to start making more money, then? That’s probably what I would say but I sometimes go a bit too far in my quips.

    14. straws

      I’ve followed your saga silently, but had to pop in to wish you well! I’m so glad you have a community to help you with recovery. Good luck with your mail delivery today!

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Thanks Straws. The mail was requests for more information. I mean, no freaking wonder everything is so expensive. Four different envelopes from the State of FL Disability Determinations. Send it in the same envelope….good Lord. My little mailbox popped open when I unlocked the door! Sorry. Had to vent that one.

    15. Merida Ann

      Oh my goodness gracious. I had to go back and search to find all of your previous posts about this and this has been an amazing and horrifying story! Especially when I realized that I’m only a couple cities away (and very grateful that I’m not job searching, so there’s no chance of accidentally stumbling into this mess). I’m so glad to hear that you are out and that you made it through the hospital incident! Best of luck in your recovery and I hope you get some good news on the financial side of things soon!

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Thanks Merida. If you ever find yourself job seeking in this area, reach out and I’ll steer you clear (if these clowns are still in business when I get done). LOL…..

    16. Evil HR Person

      This will probably go without saying, but you are now, definitely and without question, eligible for SSDI, so please make sure that’s in the works toute de suite. I’m in Florida too (although on the other side from you) so I’m sending you (relatively) short distance good vibes!!

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Thanks Evil! ::waves across the state::

        I have a caseworker through the hospital who has initiated everything and is handling all of that for me. SSDI/Medicaid/Disability/Food Stamps/State Disability and more have all been initiated. I had my Medicaid phone interview last Monday and today’s mail was State of FL Disability with four different requests for information so I have to dig into that……unless my hospital caseworker wants to handle it, which she might. I signed a bunch of forms giving her permission to act for me (it was a limited POA for disability/Medicaid/etcetcetcetcetc) and also to handle appeals. My attorney is handling the wrongful termination only (under the FLSA and the FPWA, as well as the EEOC discrimination claim) and now the medical claims arising from that action. I feel like I have really good delegates working on my behalf so I can just rest and get well.

        And pray for the almighty karmic and legal screwing my former employers deserve.

        1. Jillian2

          So sorry about the medical nightmare you are going through! I’d really like to read your previous posts and learn more about the lawsuit. I can’t figure out how to find your old posts. Do you have a link you can please cut and paste? Thank you.

          1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

            Hi Jillian….hmmmm……I don’t know how to link to specific posts within threads but Alison posted a search feature above. The way I read it is that if you go to google and type in site: askamanager.org username you can find my posts. This screen name was bestowed upon me in the July 4 open thread, prior to that my screen name was BAL or BLA(h)….depends on the day. All of my comments appear in the Friday open threads. I think I first posted about this workplace in the beginning of May. I was fired on 7/2 and posted that news in the 7/4 open thread. I’m sorry I can’t offer you a direct link, but try the search feature. If I understood Alison’s post above, you should be able to find it using that.

        2. Not So NewReader

          My husband applied for disability in his 50s also. It was interesting because it went right through once they had their info. What the case worker said was very informative. My husband had a long history of employment on his social security earnings record. That combined with his age meant quicker approval because it appeared that he would prefer to be working. She said it also helped that we provided so much of the info. (It took the two of us eight hours to complete their form. They kept asking the same questions over and over, it’s probably actually a two page form if they only asked once. It’s embarrassing that this is our government.)

          1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

            It is a total embarrassment! My mailbox was full to overflowing today!!!!!!

            I’m hoping that, between me and the hospital caseworker, we can get this pushed through pretty quickly. I’ve had folks tell me that once they hit 50 it was much easier. I do have a 35 year work history, and I do want to work. Hopefully this will all be enough. I don’t want to sink a bunch of cash into an attorney just to get $1400 per month!

    17. tab

      So very sorry to read about your medical issues. But, I’m delighted that you’re proceeding with your lawsuit. Take care of yourself while you fight the good fight.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Thanks tab. Nothing is going to deter me from my path of complete and utter destruction. My folks have been ordered to proceed if anything happens to me. And they will. My father is quite upset. And when dad is upset, worlds move. He suffers no fools.

    18. Tabby Baltimore

      I read this earlier today, at work, but couldn’t respond at the time. I just want to tell you my heart is so full for you. And your attorney sounds pretty wonderful, too.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Thank you Tabby. I am so grateful for the support of the AAM community. My attorney rocks!

    19. Mimmy

      I’m going to have to go through and look for your previous posts because I’m curious about the backstory.

      I love your spunk! I really hope everything goes smoothly for you and that you have a good recovery.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Hi Mimmy. Look in the Friday open threads. I think I started in the beginning of May and that was under the screen name BAL or BLA(h)……Depends on the day. This current screen name was bestowed in the 7/4 open thread. That was a good one, cuz I was terminated on 7/2.

        1. Mimmy

          Okay, just spent the morning getting myself up to speed. Not many people have the courage to do half of what you did. And this is your second go-around! Again, I hope things go better for you.

    20. ..Kat..

      I am so sorry that you are going through this. Those strong enough to be whistle blowers have made employment better and safer for the rest of us in so many ways. Thank you for doing this. Be strong!

    21. Woodswoman

      You are an amazing, heroic person and I’m so sorry to hear about your health difficulties. I’m glad to hear you’ve got multiple advocates–your rockstar attorney, your parents, your medical team, and the social worker working on all your disability paperwork, and even the agencies coming down on your former employer, seem to comprise an A-list team all working in your behalf.

      While I haven’t had a heart issue, I did have a significant medical challenge with a prognosis that I wouldn’t get my full function back. For me, I decided the statistics for success–or lack of it–would freak me out too much. Before I had a necessary surgery, I specifically asked my medical team not to tell me how far they anticipated I would get. I just vowed to heal as best I could. I ended up healing better than expected, and only long afterward did I ask them what they had anticipated and find out it was less than I had achieved. I hope that this is the case for you as well.

      Thanks again for your updates here. While my West Coast time zone and schedule often have me commenting late in the day, I always look for your posts. Here’s another AAM fan wishing you healing, speedy paperwork, a big settlement, and the satisfaction of justice.

    22. Jaid_Diah

      *Hugs, chocolate, and a blanket burrito for you*
      I’m glad you’re alive and still kicking ass. I wish you well.

    23. Alli525

      I’m late to the open thread, but I’ve been Ctrl-F’ing you in every open thread since you first started posting because your story is so fascinating to me. I’m so terribly sorry about your health problems – that must have been absolutely terrifying. But I’m glad you made it through, and SUPER glad that your doctors have your back and your former company is most certainly going down, and going down HARD. Sending you love from afar.

      And I’m also glad “justice boner” has started proliferating across the internet, not just on reddit, because it’s such a perfect phrase.

  25. Regular commenter

    Vocal fry, should I say something?

    Background, I’m a 50-something male manager and one of my reports is a 30-something female engineer. She’s good at what she does, but over the past couple of years has adopted a vocal fry form of speaking, sounding like a late career Johnny Cash had a daughter with a frog. I think she thinks it makes her sound more authoritative, but it does the opposite. I believe it will negatively effect her prospects for advancements here, the partners have noted it in discussion.

    But, this is highly gendered and age related, so I am treading carefully. Any advice?

    1. Reba

      I think what you could do to help this person is to try to push back when partners comment on it negatively (if you’re part of the conversations).

      You could point out that it’s a really common speech pattern for both women and men, and that having a voice that is judged to be pleasant and gender-conforming doesn’t have anything to do with the engineers’ work.

      I don’t think you have any standing to talk to the engineer herself about it.

      The bosses need to be corrected, not her.

      1. Reba

        sorry, “standing” isn’t quite the right word, but I hope my intended meaning is clear enough!

      2. Anonymous Educator

        Yes, there’s nothing wrong with vocal fry, except people being super judgy about it.

    2. NowWhat@25?

      As a younger female who once needed to be told I wasn’t in college anymore, please say something. There’s a way to say it delicately (i.e. don’t say vocal fry, which is a very gendered phenomenon) but explain that a few people have commented on her tone and inflection, and that she would come across better if she went back to her more even tone. IIRC there was a viral video about three years ago that discussed the vocal fry and how a lot of successful women in business have it (granted their example was the Kardashians). She may honestly think she’s doing something to further her career.

      But tread lightly; it could also be a medical issue that doesn’t affect the quality of her work but does affect her voice.

      1. MakesThings

        I’m not sure what the problem was, or why someone was so rude as to tell you to modify how you speak. It’s the audio equivalent of telling women to smile more. No thank you.

        1. NowWhat@25?

          I was told I was too perky with my responses (and I am one of those abnormally perky people) in emails and in meetings and I needed to tone it down. People have taken me a lot more seriously since then.

          1. MakesThings

            That sounds like an age thing, but not vocal fry, specifically. I wouldn’t tell people to be less perky, but I realize that your industry might be very specific about this.

          2. Logan

            I have been told that it sucks the world works this way, however my lower tone of voice will be helpful to me in my career.

            I wouldn’t pick on that particular person’s vocal inflections, however I might make a comment to them that if they want to appear more authoritative in a workplace (especially large meetings) then they would do better to speak in a lower register. If I find the reference to studies which confirm this (if I get the opportunity to look today) then I will post them.

            1. Washi

              I was just in a presentation given by a young woman who had a good amount of vocal fry and had this conversation with my (female) coworker:
              Coworker: She really needs to learn to eliminate her vocal fry in order to be a much more effective presenter.
              Me: I guess I didn’t find it distracting. That’s just the way she talks.
              Coworker: I teach speech, and you can’t be an effective communicator with vocal fry.
              (and so on)

              Yes, I think we should stop policing women’s speech, but people WILL judge, and some women would prefer to change their speech rather than deal with the judgment, as much as it sucks.

            2. Jules the 3rd

              Vocal fry *is* the lower register, and Regular Commenter is talking about asking her to stop it.

              I have to agree with Reba – note to the commenters that it doesn’t affect her work, and ‘it’s a wide world we live in, enjoy the differences.’

          3. Thlayli

            There’s a difference between speaking in a lower tone of voice (which it has been well established makes people sound more authoritative – Maggie thatcher being the most famous example), and vocal fry. Vocal fry is a totally different way of speaking – you hold your vocal chords in a different way. It’s a different register entirely – like speaking in falsetto.

            1. Like what even

              That’s not true. Vocal fry is typically caused when there’s not enough air being used to speak, so your vocal chords aren’t able to vibrate as clearly or your soft palate collapses. It has more similarities to whispering than using a falsetto. It often happens to men when they “pitch down,” or force their voice into a lower tone than natural. But it never gets called out when that happens, because we’re trained to hear lower registers and hear authority.

              1. Thlayli

                Ok it seems like everyone hasn’t different definitions of what vocal fry is. I’m stumped.

                Op, if your coworker is running out of breath then maybe suggest she see a doctor!

              2. Jennifer Thneed

                Thayli was actually more right than you are allowing.

                From Wikipedia (link in username):
                “The vocal fry register […] is the lowest vocal register and is produced through a loose glottal closure that permits air to bubble through slowly with a popping or rattling sound of a very low frequency. […] The register (if well controlled) can extend far below the modal voice register, in some cases up to 8 octaves lower”

    3. Rusty Shackelford

      Ordinarily I’d say you shouldn’t do anything, but if you think she has affected this *deliberately,* believing it gives her authority, and you know for a fact it’s doing the opposite? That’s tricky.

      What would you do if it were any other habit she had acquired over the past couple of years? What if she’d changed her way of dressing, or her hairstyle, or the color of ink she uses when she takes notes in meetings? If the partners had commented negatively on any of these traits, would you tell her?

    4. Seltzer Fan

      Hmmm… this feels difficult to weigh in on without actually hearing how she’s talking now (and how she was talking before). Does she do it all the time, or just when she’s leading a discussion or giving a presentation or something?

      If it’s only at certain times, I think you could mention something about her vocal affectation during presentations. And also if it’s only in public-facing situations, could it have something to do with nerves?

    5. What? Like it's hard?

      If one of your 30-something male engineers who’s good with what he does but has adopted what you deem to be an “unprofessional” vocal habit, would you say anything? Or would you even notice? Be honest with yourself. Because men have been using vocal fry for a lot longer and people don’t seem to notice or care.

      My advice is to not say anything. It’s tough enough being a woman in a male-dominated field. Don’t add it to by critiquing something that is unrelated to her work. You’re also making assumptions about this supposedly new habit she’s “adopted”. Leave it alone.

    6. En vivo

      You’re very brave attempting to discuss this here!

      If you must say something, please be sure that 1) she has deliberately changed her voice in an attempt to accomplish something, and 2) you know it’s doing the opposite and 3) you’d do the same for a male employee. Speak to her respectfully and in private. But be careful; she might see it as gendered bias or harassment. I hope it’s not on your part. I personally wouldn’t say a word.

    7. Thlayli

      I had no idea what this was so I just YouTubed vocal fry.

      What a really really weird affectation. Why would someone do that? How strange. Are you sure she thinks it sounds authoritative? It definitely sounds the total opposite of authoritative, it sounds like someone putting on a weird voice like 2 year olds do when they are learning to speak.

      I think you would probably be doing her a favour by telling her the partners have mentioned it. I don’t think she would thank you for this though, since apparently vocal fry is common in young women according to the YouTube video I just watched (I can only assume this is an American thing because I have literally never heard someone older than 2 do this in real life). So given that it is apparently a gender and age “thing” in America, I think you should stay well out of it in case you get accused of sexism or agism.

      I don’t agree with previous poster that you should stand up to the partners for her. She’s choosing to put on a strange voice for reasons best known to herself. You don’t have to join in when they laugh at her but you definitely don’t have to defend her decision.

      1. Reba

        I don’t know what video you watched, of course, but it sounds like it might have been exaggerated to illustrate the phenomenon? I hear (mild, I guess) vocal fry every day, in ordinary speech. Although it is more used by young people than not, it simply isn’t strange.

        It sort of became a thing to criticize young women for doing it a few years ago, I guess since the battle over uptalk was done and there needed to be new ways of policing how people, especially women, behave. Then there were also quite a few articles etc. defending the practice — or at least pointing out that criticizing it was ageist and sexist, since men also do both those things but don’t usually catch flak for it. Here is a piece from NPR about the whole thing and its implications https://www.npr.org/2015/07/23/425608745/from-upspeak-to-vocal-fry-are-we-policing-young-womens-voices

        And to me it seemed reasonable to go with the conclusion that the Big Bosses’ complaints about it, in this situation, are ageist and sexist.

            1. MakesThings

              This video is exaggerating for the purpose of demonstration. You’ve heard vocal fry a lot. In real life, it’s the little dip that comes at the end of a sentence or a phrase.

            2. MakesThings

              Also, the guy in the video obnoxiously makes it sound like some crazy thing that nobody knows the purpose of, that only young women do. So there are two thing wrong with that:
              1. Apparetnly the young women who do it are “nobody”
              2. It’s pretty well known that it’s sometimes done to make the speaker sound more authoritative (whether or not it actually helps is another matter)

        1. Thlayli

          I’ve never heard anyone male or female do it in real life, except kids when they are learning to speak. Most kids go through a phase of speaking in silly voices including vocal fry. And of course, Danny in the shining. “Red rum! Red rum!”

      2. LilySparrow

        Well, it depends on the YouTube video. There is at least one complaining about the “epidemic” of vocal fry that also exaggerates the pronunciation of words in an extreme, Valley-Girl way. Most people with vocal fry sound nothing like that. Certainly if the engineer has started affecting a bizarre fake accent, that’s something that should have been addressed a long time ago.

        I personally don’t like hearing constant vocal fry from anyone, because I was taught in my high-school and college voice classes that it was a sign of insufficient breath support and would damage your vocal cords. So when I hear it, I have an instinctive “ouch!” response. But speech pathologists and vocal experts now say that is not true, and it’s not at all harmful. It’s just allowing the vocal cords to be open and relaxed as you speak.

        Here’s an NPR “Planet Money” podcast with a male and female host. The male host has a lot of vocal fry going on, and the female host has less, but some when her intonation drops.
        https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2018/08/02/635129556/grey-poupon-and-the-cultural-divide

      3. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant

        It’s not an affectation. Most people who do it don’t know they’re doing it. (I certainly didn’t, until I heard a recording of myself.) It has to do with your lungs being low on air, as they often are at the end of a sentence.

        1. Thlayli

          Maybe see a doctor? You shouldn’t be running out of air when you speak. That sounds really concerning tbh.

    8. LilySparrow

      Has she changed anything else in her demeanor or presentation that’s working against her? There might be room for an overall discussion if she’s shooting herself in the foot with a poor take on professional norms in general.

      Vocal fry can sometimes (sometimes!) make people of any gender sound disengaged, bored or dismissive. If that’s the impression she’s giving, then that’s something you can address without making it specifically about the fry: “I’m getting feedback from the partners that you don’t seem fully engaged in meetings” or “I’m getting feedback that you’re answering the partners’ questions in a way that seems dismissive of their concerns.”

      But if those aren’t real issues and it’s just a vocal mannerism that you and the other guys find annoying, I agree that it makes more sense to push back on the partners.

      1. RockyRoad

        I’d never heard of “vocal fry” before, but when I YouTubed it and listened to a few videos my first thoughts were definitely that the people using it sounded disengaged, bored, or dismissive like you said, and even conceited, or flippant. Now that I’m thinking about it, I know women personally and through work who do this. Very strange!

    9. Lora

      How do you know she “adopted” it?

      Reason I ask is, I had several bouts of pneumonia, flu and bronchitis in a couple of really awful years and it definitely affected my voice. I used to have a normal voice, if plagued with a nasally rural Pennsylvania accent, and now most of the time I sound like what would have happened to Janis Joplin if she had survived to age 70.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Agreed, the video link above just sounded like a tired person to me. A REALLY tired person.

        OP, I think your coworkers should talk to her about or quit commenting about it among themselves. One or the other. I would advocate for the latter.

    10. General Ginger

      It’s probably unlikely that you’re dealing with something like my situation, but I am a trans guy, on testosterone, and once my voice started to change, it sounded like terrible vocal fry for a good six months before abruptly dropping into a typical male register. I wasn’t out at the time, and if someone tried to address it with me, I don’t know what I would have done. Probably panicked.

    11. disney+coffee

      I’m a 20-something female engineer, so I do (vaguely enough) understand her position. Overall I think you do need to bring this up with her in a very, very respectful manner. If I was in her position and had this conversation, I would probably be embarrassed in the moment but eventually thankful for the comment. As long as you’re respectful and treat her like any other employee, you’re doing the right thing.

    12. Evil HR Person

      I’m a woman. I’m also evil, so vocal fry is in my array of evil ways to drive someone nuts.

      Honestly, I hate it. I’ve noticed it more in women than in men, but men certainly can be heard doing it and they both drive me nuts. I’ve also heard it on young-ish celebrities, most recently Ivanka Trump (who’s not exactly young, so I don’t know what’s going on).

      I’m guilty of doing it sometimes. I’ve caught myself affecting vocal fry on the phone with someone who was soliciting business. I didn’t want to speak to that person to begin with and then… VOCAL FRY. I don’t know what to make of that; take from it what you will.

    13. EB

      I think with vocal fry being “in the news” lately it’s being presented as gendered and age-related but it’s really not if you start listening for it in men and women of all ages. As such, I don’t think it’s appropriate to ask someone to modify their voice because a few people find it personally unpleasant (because I think that’s the real issue here). BUT– I do think it’s possible that there are other things at play here that might be within your right to mention– is it not just her voice but also her word choice? You’d be in the right to point out language that’s not office appropriate, for instance.

      1. spock

        It’s not that doing it is gendered, it’s the reactions that are gendered. You’re right that both men and women do it, but it’s often presented as an issue with how women speak. I’ve never heard any men criticized for vocal fry but have heard women criticized for it quite a lot.

    14. Merida Ann

      Can you bring it up without using that term? Because if someone told me that I was doing that, I would have no idea what it meant or how to change it, even after looking up several Youtube videos, none of which sounded the same or sounded bad, so I’m really confused. Is it that the voice sounds gravelly or like she has a cold? If so, just say that (ideally in the form of asking if she’s okay, not telling her that she’s doing something wrong).

    15. Totally Minnie

      I was in a seminar with a business consultant who recommended that women with high voices make an effort to pitch their voices lower, because people don’t take high voices seriously enough.

      (I did not take this advice, as I am a performer in my personal life and I don’t feel the need to damage my primary instrument just because some people find high voices irritating.)

      The thing about giving a woman advice about the pitch of her voice is that there are people who will be irritated by EVERYTHING. Some people think a woman with a high-pitched speaking voice is flighty and annoying. Other people think a woman with a low-pitched speaking voice is wrong and unnatural. It can end up feeling like a no-win proposition.

      Please, for all that is good and proper in this world, let your coworkers decide how they feel comfortable speaking, regardless of their gender.

  26. Pending

    Can I get some advice from people who have more experience teleworking? Specifically, with setting up some boundaries. I’m a first-time supervisor, and I’m managing someone who lives about 3 hours away and has been commuting back home on the weekends. I found a way for her to take some work back with her so she doesn’t have to choose between overtime and her regular life, but teleworking is new to both of us and I really feel like this week things got out of hand.
    What kind of rules/guidelines have you found make teleworking work for both the manager and the employee?

    1. ItsMe

      I telework occasionally, but we have VPN to log into, so I always have access to anything I need to do my work.
      If your company doesn’t have that, I don’t think teleworking makes much sense. How about a 4-day work week for her instead, with Monday or Friday being one of the days she’s off.

      1. Emmie

        Security is super important. Good point about the VPN. I’d think about maintaining company confidentiality (i.e. trade secrets and customer lists), and maybe an encrypted computer.

    2. Emmie

      I am a 100% work-from-home (WFH) director who manages WFH employees in different time zones. I applaud your creativity here! What are your main concerns? How did things get out of hand? I am happy to share my experiences with you. I do not think in terms of “rules,” but these are items I find helpful.
      – How will you monitor work completion? I asked my employees to come up with an appropriate method. I could have implemented a solution (and had plenty of ideas), but it could be accomplished a lot of different ways. This will be important for performance review time, and also precedent.
      – What will her schedule look like? Will it be steady?
      – Since this is your first time doing this program, I’d let her know that your expectations could change as you navigate this first-time accommodation because it’s a learning curve for both of you.
      – You may wish to look at some sample Teleworking policies, which you can find on google or via SHRM.
      – I’ve been WFH for the past two companies. Both have required that I’m available via instant messenger through the day, and I keep to regular company hours.
      – What are your responsiveness expectations? Email? Phone?
      – I have regular check in meetings with my group. You should also have dial ins and / or virtual conference platforms (like Skype shared screen, Blackboard Connect, or Zoom) for meetings.
      – How will both of you manage relationships with in-office people to complete her work? Since this is your first time, be careful about doing her work when people come into your office. Refer people to her. Encourage people to build that relationship. How will she maintain those relationships?
      – WFH has to be more responsive to requests in my opinion. It’s not easy.
      – I suggest letting her know this is not always promised and it’s continuation is contingent upon how well she handles the WFH situation.
      – Do you have mandatory on-site meetings? I’d set the expectation up front that she may have to work in the office on some of those days. (This may not apply to you.)
      There are a million more things I’d suggest too, but don’t want to overwhelm you or discuss an irrelevant tangent.

      1. Pending

        Thanks for all the advice! I’m sorry for being so broad in the beginning, but a lot of what you mentioned is already helping me think more in depth of how I want this to work.

        One of the big problems with how things went for me this past week was communication; this project was modified quickly to bring on people to help me complete it, so we don’t have a lot of the standard tools. (I have Skype, she doesn’t, and google hangouts seems to be permanently down for everybody.) We usually text or call, but after she texted me that she was too sick to come in (I gave more details down below) it turned into just me texting later in the day to ask how she was doing. The low point was when I texted her to ask if she was done with a report and she told me she’d send it as soon as she was out of the doctor’s office– which was the first I’d heard about her seeing a doctor.

        Right now we’re working on a project that’s got about a 6-week life expectancy, no meetings, and the work is mostly data entry-style. The only reason to keep to regular hours is because she needs to ask me questions or receive assignments from me, otherwise our office lets people set their own hours based on what they need to get done in a typical day.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          So, you don’t really need to hear about her seeing a doctor — it’s not weird or alarming that you didn’t know that, and you should not consider that a low point. What you need is to be kept in the loop about how work is progressing and how she expects it to progress; to check in as things unfold; and to lay out milestones she’ll need to hit and make sure she hits them. You need to lay out for her clearly how you want that to work.

        2. Emmie

          AAM has given you excellent advice, and so did the other posters. I agree with the regular check in points, and I’d document that in writing for the benefit of you two. I’d also acknowledge that this is a learning curve for both of you. I’d ask if she has any other concerns, and if she has any solutions to these issues. She might have new ideas too.

    3. BRR

      Is there a specific issue you’re having? I telework a few days a week. When my manager started a year ago I don’t think he was super on board at first but then got more comfortable with the situation. As the remote worker, I try to respond quickly to emails and IMs and make sure to set my IM status as away when I step away for lunch.

    4. Falling Diphthong

      Seconding questions about the specific issue you’re having. I’m very much a “the work gets done by the deadline, or (rarely) you give a reasonable heads up that it will be late, why, and the likely timeline” sort of worker.

    5. Bend & Snap

      I’m a fully remote employee. My rules/my manager’s rules are be accessible and get your work done.

      What happened and what exactly are you looking for as far as rules?

    6. Thlayli

      I think the problem here is less about telework, and more about the fact that she doesn’t have enough time to get her work done Monday to Friday and has to work overtime on weekends. That’s the key issue. Either she is not good enough at her job or you are asking her to do too much work.

      1. Pending

        I should mention for context that I was specifically hired to work on a project that’s about to get dropped thanks to a policy change that had nothing to do with me. Since the project has tons of funding and little time, all of us are being given the option of overtime, which in my line of work is rare and considered a huge windfall.

    7. Pending

      I’m getting that I should have way more details, but honestly I was pretty embarrassed. I didn’t really set up any boundaries with her, since we’re both pretty similar in age and work ethic I went with a “just let me know what hours you spend on this, I trust you” approach. Here’s the low-down:

      Last week, her dog got sick mid-week and I had a big report on the to-do pile that could be handled out of the office. I told her she could take the report to do at home and got all the materials together for her. It was a more extreme version of what we’d done the previous weekend, where after her regular 40 hours were done she left to drive home, and then worked her allowed 8 hours at home on the project I’d given her. (What we’re doing boils down to a lot of data entry, so she’s able to do it on her issued laptop and then bring it back to me so I can enter it.)
      On Monday, I got a text from her that she was too sick to drive back to the office, but she hadn’t finished what I’d given her so could she continue working on that? Getting that report done was a priority for me, and I didn’t want her trying that 3 hour drive when she was so sick, so I agreed. More than that: I kept telling her to take it easy and to make sure she was getting plenty of rest.
      That wouldn’t have been a problem if the pattern didn’t keep repeating until (this is the “got out of hand” part) she hasn’t been able to make it in all week, and I just got the work I needed from her this morning. What I regret the most is not telling her at the beginning of the week that if she’s that sick, she needs to focus on getting better, not on trying to get her full hours in. But I don’t think she even knew how sick she was, or that it was going to continue on for so long. And even if she did, the message I gave her was that she could stay home and work on the project until she felt better.

      She’s a hard worker and takes the job seriously, so I don’t believe that this was intentionally taking advantage of me, but the field and office that we work in tends to be pretty freewheeling. The priority is getting the work done, and nobody minds much when you do it as long as you do it well, but the fact that I spent the last week with barely any idea what was going on with her is freaking me out.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I think what you were missing was language like “Please let me know by Tuesday if you’re not on track to have this fully completed by Thursday” or “Since you might not be working normal hours this week, keep me posted about your progress so I know if we need another plan for this work — let’s check in about it tomorrow morning and again on Thursday” or other specifics about how in the loop you wanted to be.

        1. Pending

          I definitely know I need to talk to her on Monday because our expectations about how her working remotely would go were pretty mismatched. One thing that’s still bothering me though, is after she told me Thursday she was seeing a doctor, I told her I didn’t feel comfortable with her still working on this when she was clearly seriously ill. I told her to check in with me about how she was feeling the next (this) morning. She texted me at 11 that she had finished and was sending me the report.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            You’re actually overstepping. It’s not up to you to decide that she’s not well enough to work; people see doctors all the time without being too sick to work. Unless there are really unusual circumstances, you need to let her make that call. Same thing with your mention above that you kept telling her to get plenty of rest — she’s a grown-up! You’re putting yourself in a paternalistic role here and you shouldn’t.

            1. Pending

              You’re right– I think I got so upset that I wasn’t being a good supervisor that I started going totally overboard. I’ll try to stay focused on the work.

    8. CL

      Develop a clear plan with your employee: telework schedule; availability expectations (answering phone calls, Skype messages, emails); work product/timelines/outcome (some may consider this productivity expectations); if a situation arises in which the employee needs to be in the office for a meeting, etc, how much lead time do they need to change their plans and be in the office; and equipment needs. You should review company policy and work with HR to ensure there’s nothing else to consider (for example, some companies require the employee have a secure wifi connection to VPN into the network).

      1. CL

        Ah, I posted a response before seeing all the other answers. I see you received more in-depth responses to some very specific situations.

        1. Pending

          No, this is a really great short version. I was too focused on the idea of rules, when what I really need is a plan and expectations we’re both clear on.

  27. Trout 'Waver

    I’d like to give a special “Fuck You” to the people who interviewed me 4 times and then ghosted on me after requested a fifth interview.

    1. nep

      We’re with you on that one.
      (How long ago did this happen? Any chance they made some mistake? Keep us posted if you hear anything more.)
      Onward!

    2. RabbitRabbit

      Totally behind you on this. I get that not everyone who applies gets a response, but after two interviews, even an impersonal automated email notification would have been nice. I can’t imagine it after 4 and a request for a 5th.

    3. whistle

      Time to put on that Lily Allen song and sing along as loud as you can. Or Beck’s “Soul Suckin Jerk”. Either one can work wonders!

    4. Goya de la Mancha

      You should send them a glitter bomb thank you gift, if you’re ok with burning bridges ;)

  28. Allison

    Need to vent.

    I felt like I had a great boss, and she seemed to really like me, just gave me a good raise and said I was getting a bonus. Then this morning we got a meeting invite with a vague title like “team update” and I started to worry, but reminded myself that my boss usually gives me a heads-up when these updates are expected to impact me directly. So I felt better, until I realized her office was dark and empty.

    Yeah, you know where this is going. The meeting was to tell us she’d left, and yesterday was her last day. I am so disappointed that she left so abruptly, and without saying a word to me, especially since she was so upset with my former boss putting in his 2-week notice last year! And no one thought to figure out who I would report to while we look for a replacement, until I asked, and they’re still not sure. I have no reason to believe my job is suddenly in jeopardy because I’ve gotten nothing but praise from those who work with me, but this is really stressing me out and I have started to put the feelers out, just to be safe.

    On the bright side, another executive left with her, and she never liked me, so I’m at least glad she’s gone.

    1. NonSequitor

      It sounds like she either gave notice to her boss and was told to leave ASAP or she was fired. Neither of which would give her the time to give you a heads up.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      I’m guessing she didn’t leave voluntarily. An after-the-fact meeting is usually a sign of that, especially if it wasn’t just her.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

        This is what I would think too.

        Generally the clues are…

        Person already gone
        Terms such as ‘no longer with the company/an employee at/has left/seeking other opportunities’
        Short message
        ‘Team Update’ meeting w/short or no notice.
        “Still working out the short term details”

    3. Quackeen

      This happened to me in March. Even though the higher-ups alleged that it was “mutual” between my manager and the company, I connected with him later and it was very much not mutual. Can you reach out to her via LinkedIn or something?

    4. Darren

      I had pretty much the same thing happen last year. It was as the other commenters are saying very much not a mutual decision. Situations that look like this are in my experience almost exclusively a result of your boss having been terminated for one reason or another.

      Given the two leaving at the same time likely both were let go for similar reasons. It’s way too early to tell one way or another about your position unfortunately, you’ll have to look for clues and keep pay attention to how your new manager is handling you (in my case my new manager was very enthusiastic about having me and was giving me extremely important work, and it was clear they wanted to keep me). If you appear to be being sidelined, or don’t get a new manager than I’d definitely look at job searching aggressively since if that happens likely they aren’t sure what to do with you and a layoff is a fairly high probability.

  29. NonSequitor

    Welp, I was promoted. This is somewhat interesting given my history – My position was restructured, a colleague was promoted over me last year, I’ve played acting Director twice while folks were out on family leave . But, my boss told me she made a mistake and promoted me. We just had a meeting about what she wants to accomplish this year. And to be quite frank, I’m not sure I’m the best person to achieve the goals she has in mind. Similarly, I was kind of ok being a worker bee and biding my time until I was able to change my career path. And I also don’t like change. So, I kind of don’t want the promotion now. Though I recognize that the ship may have sailed and not taking it wouldn’t change the fact that she wants to make changes that I would have to implement.

    I feel like an Eeyore and I wish I were Pooh

    1. mkt

      Does the promotion come with perks – money $$$, visibility, flexibility?

      Like you said, if it’s not going to change the direction that your boss wants you to take in terms of responsibility and stuff, then why not go for it? You can always look for a change on the side and see how things work out too. It may even help in finding a new role if you’re so inclined.

      1. NonSequitor

        It comes with most of the perks – a raise, a title change with more visibility and authority… not sure about more flexibility (it’s likely less flexibility given that I have more responsibilities, so less opportunities to be flexible)

        I already accepted the promotion. I’m just having second thoughts. Some of which is caused by the fact that a senior colleague mentioned she was worried I’m suceptible to burn out (my projects are known to be difficult) and my boss mentioned she noticed I had lost some of my joy (though also made a point of saying I should think about the projects I want to work on). The issue is that I’ve made a career for myself of being the go-to person on difficult, not fun projects and I also have imposter syndrome (or maybe I’m the exception and really not good at my job). I’m worried if I don’t work on difficult projects, I won’t have excuses to why I’m not as good at my job as everyone seems to think.

        1. mkt

          I think if you have the self-awareness to note everything you said about your skills and work history, as well as the external colleague comment on burn out – which in my experience happens more often to people who are good at what they do and invested in work quality and output- than it’s likely a confidence thing and you really are fine where you are.

          Again, if you don’t like the projects or your actual work, that may be reason to start looking. Especially with the comment on losing your joy. If you don’t thrive on the challenge and spend more time being stressed than not, than yeah a change may be good.

        2. Trisha

          Buyers Remorse. Many of us have it. My advice as someone who has “been there, done that, and has the tacky souvenir from the experience.”…suck it up, stick with it for at least a year, then figure out if this is where you want to be / what you want to do. Put forth the effort to learn the job, ask for feedback and if you’re really not good at it…then have the heart to heart, “not the right fit” conversation. My guess is you’re not really one of those people who is bad at their job, you just need to recognize your own strengths. I went several years with my team telling me I was a great manager and didn’t believe them (because I didn’t consider that I was doing anything extraordinary); time and perspective allowed me to see what I do differently and why they think that. Now, it’s all I can do from getting a big head about it. lol.

          1. NonSequitor

            That is my plan. Without getting into the specifics, I basically owe my company another year of employment. So, my optimistic side tells me, take the job, do the job for a year, get your extra money, save a little nest egg and then leave the big city, find the lower paying job you want, and live in peace. (I won’t tell you what the cynical side of my brain ist telling me — but that’s the side that makes this promotion more fraught than it aught)

            As for my imposter syndrome/self-assessment — I’ve been told I’m great and I’ve been told I’m beyond terrible. I’m a middle of the road type of person, so I usually don’t believe either and tend to believe I’m just average. And average doesn’t warrant promotions or responsibility. (I would absolutely believe someone telling me, hey you’re ok moreso than someone spelling out all the reasons why I’m great)

  30. Amber Rose

    I had a meeting with my boss about the future of the program I run. He said he feels like it’s been slipping to the side since we moved, and that he expected me to take over the space for it and make it my own, and I didn’t. So I pointed out that I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes while we were setting up, and that I didn’t know how much power I had. To which he basically said, step on toes and do whatever you have to and if they have a problem they can talk to him. So that’s nice. I have some firepower, I guess?

    But it was a little frustrating to hear all this stuff anyway, because one: I have zero training in running something like this (or managing in general) and I’m doing my best to learn as I go, but I don’t really know HOW or where to start. And two: he said we needed all these inspections and shit and he doesn’t think we’ll pass, but he never TOLD me we needed these inspections, so how was I supposed to prepare for them? There so many rules and laws, I can’t possibly know them all unless I know to go looking for them.

    Also he said I should be spending more time on this stuff, because my other responsibilities aren’t 8 hours a day, but he trivialized that down to “processing orders and labelling” which is not… I mean, orders aren’t THAT time consuming usually, but also I do all the RMAs and am the only person who answers the damn phone and I’ve been taking more of my boss’s work (which IS time consuming) and training my backup.
    So on the one hand his feedback is valid (my program has been sidelined lately and I need to step up), and on the other hand his feedback feels unfair, and it’s becoming a significant source of stress for me and I don’t know what to do about it.

    1. mkt

      it sounds like you got feedback on what he prioritizes and what he wants you to work on. I get that it can be frustrating because it sounds like a criticism of what you aren’t doing when you don’t exactly have a roadmap or guidance – but to be frank a lot of roles don’t.
      Are you able to pass along your other responsibilities or let him know that you need more support in order to focus on the stuff he wants?

      1. Amber Rose

        But I didn’t really. What I got was that everything is equally important. I’m somehow supposed to be everywhere, and also at my desk. If I don’t answer phones I get shit, and if I don’t wander around and get everything done I also get shit. We don’t have voicemail and our phones are not portable.

        I am training someone to help me out, but he’s honestly going to be taking the easiest and least time consuming part of my job. :/

        1. mkt

          Oh sorry, i misunderstood that part then.

          In that case, really, I would want him to list out priority and set out that something’s gotta give because it’s just not possible to execute on your program if you keep getting sidetracked with other responsibilities. Also to think about what’s on your plate and give suggestions as to what you want to happen and how those changes will also free you up in order to deliver on XX for your program, etc.

          1. Amber Rose

            Weirdly enough, shortly after I posted this rant and my distress, I had a chat with my supervisor who kind of laid it out for me a bit better. So I have power, and a budget, and the right to say “I gotta do this so someone else has to do that.”

            Also I got a little bit of coaching on how to throw my weight around and it sort of worked.

            So we’ll play with these new rules for a bit and see where this goes. My stomach still hurts because of the uncertainty of it all though. :(

    2. Jessi

      Can you not simply say to him “I’m having a bit of trouble prioritizing? Here is a list of all of the things that I am being asked to do, and a rough time estimate of the time it takes. Of course every time I answer the phone (happened x times on Friday) that takes time as well as having to refocus (this might help shift phone answering to someone more junior than you).

      {{{But it was a little frustrating to hear all this stuff anyway, because one: I have zero training in running something like this (or managing in general) and I’m doing my best to learn as I go, but I don’t really know HOW or where to start. And two: he said we needed all these inspections and shit and he doesn’t think we’ll pass, but he never TOLD me we needed these inspections, so how was I supposed to prepare for them? There so many rules and laws, I can’t possibly know them all unless I know to go looking for them.}}

      A script could be something like: “I was hoping you could also help me with industry regulations. As you are aware I’ve never run something like this and I’m not even sure where to start in figuring out how to do so. Last week you brought up all of these inspections – which I’d never heard of. This made me think that unless I can find out all of the rules/regulations/backstory that i need to be doing I’m always going to be missing them and unable to prepare for them.” combined with “I want to a great job at program and be really great at my job but I need some help/support in learning how to do that

  31. Tiny Seamstress

    Seeking advice and also needing to vent. This is really long, and I’m sorry for the length.

    I work as a seamstress for a family business where it’s just the owner, another full-time seamstress, and me. I’m in my mid-twenties and have been working here for a year. We work out of the owner’s home. The majority of our work involves bridal gowns, and there is a lot of tedious handwork involved.

    Early last month, I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand/wrist, and I immediately told my boss. My boss put me on light duty. I’ve also been seeing a chiropractor since last week to see if it will resolve my CT before deciding I need surgery. The doctors agreed my job caused my carpal tunnel. When I decided I wanted workers comp, I had to researcher it myself, as my boss doesn’t have workers comp information available (and I only have figured everything out since last weekend). According to my state law, every employer must carry workers comp insurance, and employees have 90 days to notify their employers about the injury. The employer has then up to 4 days to file the claim.

    My boss has not filed a claim (I didn’t know she was the one responsible for filing until last weekend), and she has been trying to blame my family history on my condition. My mom, aunts, and grandpa all had carpal tunnel, but not in their twenties (ages forty and up). I’ve been wearing a wrist brace at work, and every time a client asks what happened to my wrist, I tell them I have carpal tunnel. My boss immediately follows, “She has a family history of it!”

    On Monday this week, I was going to tell her that I wanted workers comp, but that morning her camper caught on fire. With that, she was very emotional that day, so I decided to give her a few days to calm down. Wednesday was the day I planned to ask her. And then that day during lunch… I developed carpel tunnel syndrome in my left wrist/hand. I told my boss about my left wrist and told her I wanted workers comp. She said she didn’t know how workers comp works, and I told her all employers are legally responsible for filing the claim for their employees. She then said she would talk to the accountant and left the room. When she returned she said her spouse would call the insurance agent and she would be in touch with me. I then left to see my chiropractor and didn’t return to work that day.

    Wednesday night, my coworker and I talked over the phone. She said after I had left, my boss and her spouse had a very hushed conversation in the corner (normally my boss tells her everything since they are almost family) and my boss spent a lot of time crying as she worked. My coworker told me she was concerned that my boss did not have workers comp insurance, or if she did she would not file the claim or lie on my claim.

    My chiropractor told me not to work yesterday and today. Yesterday, I swung by work to drop off doctors’ notes from my chiropractor and orthopedic and a workers comp form. Both my boss and my coworker were busy with a client, so I told them I was dropping off these papers (didn’t want to say in front of a client they were work comp forms) and left.

    Last night, my coworker told me my boss refused to look at the papers herself and had my coworker tell her what I had brought. When my coworker told her, my boss apparently said, “Why doesn’t Tiny Seamstress get another job? And why would she choose a job like sewing since she knew that she had a genetic issue.” (Been trying to get a new job! And like I said earlier I didn’t know carpal tunnel ran in the family until I got it).

    I definitely feel now that my boss doesn’t have workers’ comp insurance. I plan to get an attorney, especially since I don’t get paid sick days and I’ll soon get hit with medical bills. Also, I’ve recently looked up the OSHA guidelines for sewing jobs, and my boss doesn’t follow any of them, which makes me wonder if that contributed to me getting carpal tunnel. Now that I have CT and may have to get surgery, I at a last with my job search, and I’m worried employers will overlook me if I have to have surgery in the upcoming months. I’ve gotten in contact with a recruiter and told her about my carpal tunnel, so I’m hoping she can guide me.

    So regarding job searching to getting workers’ comp, if you guys have any suggestions or advice I’d deeply appreciate it. I feel really overwhelmed with the whole experience.

    (Side story about the camper on fire: The camper was parked next to the house, and when her spouse told her the camper was on fire, they rushed outside. I then grabbed my phone and purse and went outside as well. My boss then asked why I was outside. I told her because of the fire, and she then said, “The fire’s at the camper! Not in the basement!” So I guess I was supposed to keep working when there was a fire right next to the building?)

    1. Reba

      Sounds to me like you are doing everything right (up to an including running away from fires!!). Your boss seems to have a lot going on but her denialism is not going to change things, nor should her stress keep you from filing what you need to file to get taken care of. I have no experience with this, even second hand, so I don’t know what may happen if she doesn’t carry the proper insurance. I hope you will be ok financially. See if your state has an Uninsured Employers’ fund. NOLO is a good site for legal info, although obviously not a substitute for a lawyer’s advice.

      One positive is that of the small sample size of people I know who have had the CT surgery, all had really good results (mostly musicians). Wishing you the best with treatments.

    2. WellRed

      Your boss doesn’t have worker’s comp, which is why she’s laying the groundwork against any action by you by constantly bringing up family history, genetics etc.

    3. Artemesia

      Why does she know you have a family history? This would be good to not share in future. Hope you get some compensation but odds are pretty low that it will be possible without spending more on lawyers than you could get.

    4. Natalie

      Workers comp varies a lot depending on what state you are in. I would check with your state labor department (they likely have a website and/or hotline specifically about workers comp). A lot of states have an ombudsman office to assist workers in navigating the workers comp system.

      One comment on the lawyer. In many states you can sue your employer, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t do that. But lawsuits are time consuming, and winning a lawsuit doesn’t guarantee that you actually get any money – it’s on you to collect. To be blunt, small employers like yours frequently have limited insurance coverage and basically no assets, so you might find yourself with a nice big judgment and not a single penny. Before you sue, I would at least check if your state has an unemployed insurers fund, what you might get from that, and whether you can collect from that and sue.

      1. Natalie

        Oh, just for your peace of mind – having a genetic predisposition for carpal tunnel might (MIGHT) complicate a workers compensation claim but it doesn’t somehow invalidate it. Don’t fall for her attempt to convince you that your family history means you shouldn’t bother pursuing this.

      2. DCGirl

        If you file under workers comp, you can’t sue. The workers comp system was established specifically to provide workers with recourse without having to go to the time and expense of a law suit. It’s called an exclusive remedy. The OP can sue if the employer should have had workers comp coverage under state law (some states set a number of employees for triggering coverage, and this is a small business). But, as noted, if the employer has no assets, the OP is unlikely to get much if anything.

    5. Clorinda

      I don’t even think that relatives getting carpal tunnel in their 40s is a family history, medically speaking, since it is an overuse injury that can strike anyone; it would be like saying someone has a family history of broken bones. You should push back hard on that. Get as much medical information as you can, and by all means, nave all further communication through a lawyer. It’s sad for her if she doesn’t have the legally required insurance and has been running a legally unsafe workplace, but don’t let that distract you from taking care of yourself.

      1. BlueWolf

        That’s a good point. Maybe the OP’s relatives have a history of working in jobs that result in carpal tunnel from overuse, you can’t necessarily determine the causation without additional research/medical advice.

      2. WellRed

        It could show a predisposition toward carpal tunnel. Lots of people work similar jobs and never get it.

        1. pcake

          I have friends who have gotten carpal from working on computers, playing guitar or holding up heavy lenses during photo sessions. Everyone has a predisposition toward carpal as it’s a very weak area. Saying you have a family disposition toward carpal is pretty much like saying you have a family disposition toward needing air.

    6. jukeboxx

      I worked with a state’s Worker’s Comp department and my best advice is to definitely lawyer up if it looks like your boss is going to make your life hell over this. My job mainly involved helping self represented claimants file their medical motions, reporting companies that refused to file injuries with workers comp, bickering with adjusters…etc, and honestly, even the best self repping claimant hardly ever won against even an ill prepared boss/company.

    7. Evil HR Person

      Get a lawyer immediately, one that specializes in worker’s comp – you’ll see plenty if you watch TV midday. You did everything you were supposed to do on your end, now it’s your employer’s turn. A good lawyer will do one of two things: 1) force your employer to pay for your medical care; 2) sue your employer to give you the money you’ll need for your medical care. Don’t expect to become rich from a worker’s comp lawsuit; that only happens in movies (and if OSHA gets involved, which usually means there was a very serious accident and/or fatality). If a lawyer gets involved, it might solve the “not having worker’s comp insurance” portion of this problem, and it might just take a letter. But your employer will certainly drop what she’s been saying about your family. That said, carpal tunnel is a uphill battle when it comes to worker’s comp, so getting a lawyer *even when your employer has worker’s comp insurance* is a good idea all around.

      1. DCGirl

        Anything that involves repetitive motion is an uphill battle for workers comp, and the OP can expect to have the other side explore that. I developed De Quervain Syndrome in my right hand, which is sometimes called Gamer’s Thumb because using a mouse a lot will trigger it. My attorney really had to fight to prove it was caused by my job and not by anything I was doing outside the job.

    8. cactus lady

      This is nuts! I’m really sorry. I had success earlier this year of finding a new job when I had a surgery scheduled that I couldn’t easily reschedule – it was literally the Friday of my second week of the new job. I was upfront about it when I got the offer and my boss was really accommodating. I’d originally asked to start after I’d recovered a bit, but he wanted me to start ASAP. It was hard to start a new job and then immediately be out, and not at my peak when I returned (it was my shoulder on my dominant arm). If there is any way you could swing having surgery between this job and your next, I’d recommend that instead. Good luck!

    9. Kuododi

      I can’t comment on Workers Comp issues. Miles out of my wheelhouse!!! It does sound like your boss is looking for a reason to bully you out of filing claim… Don’t fall for that nonsense;(. I will say having recently gotten the surgery on my left hand with plans to return to take care of the right at the beginning of Fall, Id say, do it as quickly as possible. It’s the easiest surgery I’ve ever experienced with the fastest recovery time. I had my left hand done approximately 5-6 weeks ago and I can’t find the incision site. Right now there’s just some minor skin discoloration on the base of my palm. Very best wishes

      1. Stinky Socks

        Jumped in to add my two cents on surgery: the recovery is not bad at all. Just plan to baby your hand as much as possible while the stitches are in. Don’t put off the surgery longer than necessary, either– I foolishly did that on my left hand. There was a decent amount of scar tissue built up that the orthopedist was (thankfully) able to clean up, but his initial word to be post-surgery was that I might not get 100% relief from waiting so long.

  32. NowWhat@25?

    I’m currently working in higher ed and was a finalist for a job at another school I was excited about. I was just rejected yesterday, so now today I have to email my references and let them know it did not work out.

    But now I’m kind of at a crossroads: do I keep applying elsewhere (maybe outside of higher ed) in hopes something sticks, even though I plan to go to back to grad school in a year or two? (Side note: it would be a degree that is not typically covered by tuition assistance since it is outside the realm of responsibility for most positions). Or, do I make the most out of my current job. Even though I’m not that happy in my position, it’s believed I could “get promoted” (aka show my job description does not match the work I am doing and have my role reclassified to a slightly better title & pay). The former is difficult since I don’t have too much time off I can actively take for the 1 days notice to come in for interviews, but the latter also has its challenges since my team has not had a manager in over a year and they have yet to post that role or appoint someone as interim manager that could make the call on reclassification.

    I just feel kind of defeated where I am and for the first time in awhile I don’t know what path I should try and take.

    1. Tara S.

      I would keep job searching. My boss at my last job felt like I was qualified for a promotion, and worked with me to write up the packet, but grandboss wouldn’t approve it. I felt defeated, and started job searching in hopes that I could land an offer to force the promotion (I know Alison, not a good move). I ended up taking the new job I was offered and not only has it been a big bump in pay (more than the old job promotion would have been), but I have way more responsibilities and opportunities to grow now. I also wouldn’t necessarily stay where you are unhappy just because you are planning on grad school, esp. since it sounds like you aren’t planning on getting tuition remission. Plans change or can be adjusted, but no reason to waste time in a job you’re ok at when you could be developing skills in a field where you want to be.

      1. NowWhat@25?

        Thank you! I agree; it’s just difficult because my work is seen as very niche (higher ed development and volunteer management) and when I’ve applied outside of this track, I don’t find much success. I’m trying to get more project and program management experience within higher ed and non profits. I eventually want to go to law school but taking a paralegal or legal assistant gig without any experience in that field would be a $10-15K pay cut that I can’t necessarily afford :(.

  33. LGC

    Okay, so I meant to post this last week but got to the thread late (as in, after 11:05).

    Anyway, so one thing I’ve been struggling with is…being more assertive with my employees. I can do it to an extent, but I often find myself slipping to be more passive.

    What makes things a little more complicated is that most of my team is made up of women. (I’m a man, for the record.) I have read a lot of Alison’s scripts for dealing with employees, but…somehow, hearing them in my voice makes them sound more threatening than they should be. I’m not sure if it’s all in my head, but I think at least part of it is that I’m like, “I’m a really tall black dude, I need to be as non-threatening as humanly possible.”

    So…kind of rambling, kind of looking for advice to get out of my head and realize that it’s not going to be a disaster if I put my foot down.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Ooooh, would you want to talk this over on the AAM podcast? We could actually role-play some of it (I hate role-play so we’ll call it something else). I think this would be really interesting. (If you’re interested, email me – podcast@askamanager.org .)

      1. LGC

        Perhaps! I’ll think it over tonight and this weekend.

        (And for what it’s worth, I HATE the term “role-playing” myself unless it’s about a game!)

    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      Did you listen to Alison’s podcasts on tone? Or the audio version of her book? That might help. Also, practicing with a woman in your life that you trust (a former colleague, a mentor, a friend, etc) who would be honest about how you are coming across.

      Also, I think word choice will as important as tone. Make sure you’re not using any language that could be coded as sexist.

      1. Artemesia

        I think we make a big mistake ignoring things like up talk and fry because ‘it is gendered’ when we know it will hold women back and of course most female executives and those in authority don’t have these vocal tics. As a manager it is the OP’s job to provide feedback including about ‘tone’ and ‘authority’; yes be tactful and talk about how to rather than how not to, but don’t let concern about gendered feedback prevent feedback.

    3. Logan

      Have you listened to Allison’s podcasts? I really like the fact that we can hear tone, and I think it would work reasonably well in your situation, despite the fact that you are a different gender. The idea of “be serious, but not emotional” works well, and I think a lot of her scripts start out with an ice-breaker comment (such as “I’ve noticed this problem, and we need to talk about it. Is there anything you would like to say first?”) which hopefully redirects away from a threatening vibe (not necessarily a physical threat, but anyone being disciplined by their boss is not going to feel good about it).

    4. LGC

      So to answer the question about the tone episode: I have listened to that episode! (And all the episodes, actually – every Wednesday morning.) That’s actually part of what I was thinking of – I’m not quite sure if I can nail that sort of tone.

      I’ll definitely consider all of the suggestions given so far since they’re great – and pretty easy to put into action!

      1. Jules the 3rd

        The other issue, I think, is that you’re right about being perceived differently as a black man, and that perception will play out differently at work, and maybe you *shouldn’t* nail that tone.

        My thought is that Alison’s tones are very good for women, but a little cold for men, and maybe a lot cold for black men. Women face the ‘overly emotional’ stereotype, while men face the ‘unemotional’ opposite, and black men face a ‘scary’ stereotype.

        Alison, you might want to have help / feedback for this one – either a black male manager you respect, or some audience feedback, people who hear the voice and say, ‘yes, that works’ or ‘no, it doesn’t.’

    5. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      I think one bit of advice might be to be conscious of your body language when you give feedback too, more so than your tone of voice (although that’s important too). Try and avoid standing over your employees when you talk, especially if they are at their desk — if they’re seated, take a seat, don’t lean in toward them, don’t cross your arms, don’t stand behind them. My grandboss is a large man with a booming voice although a very nice man. I’m taller than average myself, and it’s still intimidating when he’s standing over me while correcting my work no matter what his tone of voice.

  34. Estelle

    I’m currently on maternity leave and planning to return to work around February 2019 (year long leaves are standard in my country). My question is: I’m about ready to move on from my current job and have seen one posting pop up that looks fabulous.

    Would it be too weird to apply to the job and include on my cover letter that I understand my long timeline probably won’t work for them, but that I’d be interested in chatting or being kept in mind for possible future positions. For reference, I’m a software designer so the company likely has multiple software designers on their team and while we’re by no means rare, companies do sometimes have trouble recruiting enough tech workers… so they might be willing to be a bit more flexible? Wishful thinking?

    1. Flower vase

      I am in the exact same position and I say just go for it. It is worth a try. The worst case scenario is that you’ll end up exactly where you already are. I think mat leave is a time of life re-examination for a lot of us.

      I applied to a new role 7 months (!!!) from the end of my mat leave. (Even though all of the advice was online was “that’s nuts! You are wasting your time and theirs!”) I acknowledged really clearly that the timing sucked but that I was super interested. Didn’t hear anything, but then they re-posted the position 3 months later. I overhauled my cover letter and re-applied. I’ve had three interviews and am just waiting to hear re: the final decision. I wouldn’t be able to start until November, but they told me they’re willing to wait if I am the right candidate.

      My point is, you don’t know what is going on on their end, and it is always worth a try. Even if I don’t get this role, I am really happy I applied and got so far in the process. It has been a really good learning experience for me and a great opportunity to re-evaluate some things about my working life.

    2. A tester, not a developer

      If you’re willing (or able) to be flexible on the timeline for your leave, I’d mention that in the cover letter. For example, my son’s daycare was willing to have him attend part time before I went back to work – if I’d been looking for a new job I definitely would have mentioned that I’d be available X times a week beginning in December, ramping up to full time in February.

    3. straws

      Yes! Keep an open mind, but do it. I hired someone who did this for a relocation. She contacted us about our timeline when we had a job posting up, and we definitely wanted to move faster than when she’d be relocating. We liked her so much that we ended up finding a role for her by the time she moved.

  35. Violaine

    Quick question before I am out for the rest of the day for 40th birthday shenanigans:

    I have a job starting soon as a federal contractor. Am I beholden to employment/labor laws where my contract agency is located (Texas) or where I will be physically working (Virginia)? Do federal guidelines on hours worked, breaks, etc supersede any state regulations?

      1. zora

        OMG today is MY 40th, too!! (which i apparently “forgot” until just now, haha) High Fives!!!!

    1. Natalie

      There is no single answer to that question, but as a general rule it’s the law wherever the employee is physically working.

    2. whistle

      The laws where you will be physically working apply. Between federal and state regulations, the strictest regulations should apply. (e.g. State mandates paid sick leave that is not mandated at the federal level – you get the state mandated leave.)
      Happy 40th! I’ll join you in a couple months!

  36. Ask a Manager Post author

    I’m going to need to do a standalone post on this as well, but while I’m figuring out exactly how to handle it, I’m putting this here meanwhile in the hope that frequent commenters will see it and it will help the problem: Please stop with the off-topic comments and lengthy strings of off-topic replies to off-topic comments! (I’m not talking about in the open threads, of course, but in all other posts.)

    In this morning’s short-answer post, I had to remove three separate long off-topic threads, one of them about books (which started based on a comment about someone’s user name) and two of them after I’d already asked people to stop the off-topic discussion.

    Comment threads here tend to be long and unwieldy as it is, and some people won’t even read the comments when they see a high comment number — so lengthy off-topic threads directly contribute to people getting less out of the site (and I really, really don’t want this to become a Corporette-like site where the comment section is a free-for-all).

    So for now, I’m asking for everyone’s help in being more cognizant of that and not contributing to the problem, while I figure out if there’s something more I can do about it. Thank you!

    1. Murphy

      I apologize for my contributions to this! I appreciate your level of moderation of the comment section.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      Is it helpful or does it make more work for you if someone points out that people are getting off topic?

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        It’s helpful, if it inspires people to rein it back in rather than continuing on for another 25 posts! That said, I’m hesitant to encourage that because I also really don’t like the amount of chastising one another that’s going on in the comment section recently so …

        1. Lillie Lane

          Oh my gosh yes. And some of the chastising has been really nasty, with both sides insisting that Alison’s commenting policy is on their side.

          1. Falling Diphthong

            The only way I know to flag things is to reply with a link to an xkcd cartoon, so it will pop up for Alison. Which would be an extra post, so counterproductive if the post isn’t “c9me see my $$ making fRoM homE cyst.” But even if we had a “report comment” button, the exact line between “pleasant aside that gives site character” and “derailment” is going to be fuzzy.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Yeah, people do flag things for me sometimes (by including a link so it goes to moderation and then a note like “Alison, just flagging this for you”) and I appreciate it. But it’s also true that sometimes people flag things that I think are fine so I’d just be aware that it won’t always lead to action — it will lead me to at least take a look, though.

        2. Wannabe Disney Princess

          It’s been pretty awful. So much so it’s made me shy away from commenting as much.

        3. Not a Mere Device

          Is it ever worth flagging these for you by dropping in an URL so my comment will go to moderation, as I sometimes do with obvious spam?

    3. Lillie Lane

      I’m one of those people that, when trying to say something, gets talked over or others derail the conversation to a point where it’s not even worth continuing my thoughts. That’s what I feel a lot of the threads have come to. Thanks for trying to address this.

    4. Myrin

      Would you encourage other commenters who see this happening to step in? Because of my timezone, I can usually spot the off-topics developing from very early on but I don’t want to seem like some random self-important busybody who tells others what they can and can’t talk about, at least not without your express wish!

    5. Tau

      Thanks for the reminder! I’ve tried to keep my own tendencies on this front in check after you mentioned it a while back, but I’m pretty sure I’ve failed in the past. Shall try harder.

    6. Admin of Sys

      Related question – would you prefer we limit the +1 or ‘I agree’ or ‘good comment’ comments, if they’re not more substantial than that? Obviously, I assume that if we have something specific to agree with / disagree with it’s permitted, but I’m wondering if the straight ‘I also agree with the above’ comments should be limited? Thanks!

    7. Jemima Bond

      I’m afraid I’m guilty of that once in the comments about the LW who had lots of vacations booked. In my defence I just couldn’t leave it because a big generalisation had just been made about UK working practices that simply isn’t trrue and I couldn’t bear to let it lie with US readers thinking it was! But I didn’t realise it had spiralled into fifty-odd more comments and I was part of that, so apologies.
      I guess sometimes there are wrong things on the internet and one just has to get over it!

    8. Joni

      Would it be helpful to post a starter comment at the top of the comment section reminding people to please stay on topic?

      1. Grapey

        There’s already a “stay on topic” reminder when you type out a comment, which off topic commenters already ignore.

        I find it useful when Alison starts off with that kind of comment for a controversial thread, but doing it every time will just become another thing to ignore.

        1. Falling Diphthong

          There’s already a “stay on topic” reminder when you type out a comment, which off topic commenters already ignore.

          It’s like a metaphor for the group email.

    9. straws

      I’ve really liked when someone recognizes a potentially off-topic comment and makes a cheery suggestion to start an open thread topic about it.

      1. Rosemary7391

        It would be nice if there was a more systematic way for that to happen – I don’t know if it’s possible, but Alison, can you move comments between posts? Then you could move the off topic comments and direct further comments there. Could like a current open thread from the sidebar too, to make it easier to move off topic discussions out of the way?

    10. caledonia

      My concern about this is that you will have frequent commenters saying this which is nice but also kind of clique-y.
      TBH, more frequent moderation might help but the way the comments and the blog are these days, it’s a big beast to control.

    11. Not So NewReader

      Suggestion:
      Indicate that each person should ask themselves “how does my post help the OP?” If it’s not obvious perhaps explain why the post might be helpful OR consider not posting that particular comment.

      For the most part, the derailments seem to happen because people actually enjoy talking with each other. I have seen some posts where a person makes a joke and the next several posters expand on that joke. It’s very funny and it’s so cool to watch. It’s also a mini-derailment.

      Unfortunately so much of this is subjective. Alison, you know I LOVE this place you created but it is you and it is the result of what you see and what you value as important.
      Sometimes I don’t understand why something is an okay derailment and something else is not. Perhaps a different angle to consider would be for people to ask themselves have they contributed something that has not been said already. I see dozens of posts that start with, “I have not read all the comments…” I caught myself doing that, too. Then I decided, either read all the comments or don’t post. Because there is no other way I will find out if someone already said the point I liked.
      One thing I had thought of is to have some posts with no comment section. Especially if you know the post will open the flood gates.
      I think in the end your best defense is to say “Rope it in folks or I will have to take early retirement because this is a lot of work.” I hope you don’t have to go there.

  37. Arya Parya

    I’ve got a job interview monday. Wasn’t really looking, I’m happy with my current job. However this is a good job at a company I love in an industry I’m passionate about, so I figured I’d throw my name in the hat.
    So here’s what is different: I’ve already applied for this job before about 1,5 years ago. I was their runner up candidate, that’s why I felt I could try again. Now I’ve got an interview with the same two people as before. Does anyone have any experience with this? Because this is new to me. What do we talk about? They already know me a little bit and I already know about the company and the job. Any advice?

    1. Kendra

      My closest experience was having to interact at a university club event with a recruiter from a company that had recently rejected me, but that was just an awkward “Oh, you should apply to Llama Incorporated!” “I just did and got rejected… But I like the free t-shirts you guys give out!”

      In your case, though, I would just play up your enthusiasm about the company and treat the past application as more of an unfortunate happenstance of timing rather than a personal rejection or you not being good enough or something. So if you having applied before comes up, you can just say something like “Yes, I applied about a year and a half ago. Unfortunately that time didn’t work out, but since then I’ve done ___ thing that makes me more valuable and I’m excited about this new opportunity to apply!”

    2. Quackeen

      I would talk about experience you’ve gained in that 18 months and why you are even more qualified for the role. I would also ask why the role is open now.

    3. FaintlyMacabre

      I’ve been in a very similar position-I applied for a job about 2 years ago, interviewed, but due to finances it was never filled. When it popped back up I applied again and interviewed. When I went into the interview, I had met two of the four interviewers before and they somewhat remembered me. When first coming into the interview, rather than the “nice to meet you”type things, I said “it’s nice to see you again” to the people I had met previously. Otherwise, they had regular interview questions to ask and I wouldn’t assume they remember you super well. In my case, some of the questions were similar to ones I had before, but others were different. I did mention previously applying to reinforce my interest in the position and how my skills had changed since the first application, but in the most part, it was just like any other job interview.

      1. Arya Parya

        Thanks, that’s really helpful. I did mention being interviewed before in my cover letter, so they should at least be aware of it. But good to know they will probably not remember a lot of the previous interview. Which makes sense, because I don’t remember every detail of it either.

        1. FaintlyMacabre

          Also, since I had a better idea the second time around of what the job was/challenges/etc., I made sure to think of some questions that reflected that deeper knowledge.

    4. Arya Parya

      Thanks for all the advice. I will prepare the interview as I would any other over the weekend and just see what happens on monday.

  38. AnonyAnony

    Things at work have been…bizarre. Lots of transition, including leadership, and reorganization. While I’ve been employed here for decades, my current role was newly created a few years ago. The leadership at that time had a clear vision for the role and responsibilities. Two years later, all of those leadership positions have turned over at least once.

    The scope of my role has changed, narrowed, and been ambiguous. When I’ve asked for clarity recently, I’m told the decision makers will talk about it, but there’s not yet been any follow up or follow through. My direct boss is brand new, only weeks into the job, so I want to be patient. But I’d also like to know what might happen with my position here because I’ve been job hunting and have interviews coming up soon (though I’m not at a point yet to have shared that I’m job hunting with my current boss). Clarity around how my current role may change will best help me consider other options more fully.

    Things are so fuzzy right now, I’m having a hard time discerning which words are true and which actions should be speaking louder to me than the words. Do I hang in and wait to see how things settle out over the next year?

    I’ve worked for the same employer for my entire career (decades) and am a bit scared to leave here at this point in my career. I’ve built up a good retirement and accumulated PTO. If I leave, much of that is gone. But I also don’t want to bypass good opportunities elsewhere now and then find myself out of a job in six months. When I mention I’m concerned about continued employment, I’m told not to worry, but then later actions lead me to believe I’m not needed or wanted.

    Any thoughts for how to balance words and actions from higher ups?

    1. Kathenus

      This depends a lot on your position, culture, etc. but could you write up what you want your role to be, including the reasons why it’s good for the organization and why you fit that described role? I had success doing this once in a period of transition, with a coworker. We wrote up a proposed slight reorganization including our two positions, along with what we proposed our adjusted positions would be, and it was accepted. Sometimes in periods of change it’s a relief for management to have someone offer this type of idea/recommendation. But as mentioned in the first sentence, it does depend on your organization and thinking that it would be accepted positively (or at least neutrally). Good luck!

      1. AnonyAnony

        Thanks for the suggestion. Not sure it’ll work here, but I’ll give some thought to how I maybe could broach this type of approach.

    2. JessicaTate

      I’d say give it some time, but also keep looking for other jobs, and if a good one comes up, go for it with gusto (unless things turn around). I’ve had bad experiences with that level of turnover at the top and constant reorgs and fuzziness. Usually, actions by management are much more important than words, in my experience. But there’s also merit in giving a new boss a little time to kick butt and take names on your behalf. The longer the leadership lacks direction and gives mixed signals, the more worried I’d become.

      Basically, I was once one of the leaders who left in the tulmult, and advised one of my former staffers (who had been at the company for many years) to hang in there, but be looking and pursue other opportunities.

      Good luck!

  39. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

    How do you get to a place of serenity around the things you can’t change at work?

    I’m struggling with coworker problems, there’s nothing I can do about it, and at this point I’m not interested in leaving my job over it. I just want to get to a place of more peace about it.

    Help?

    1. J.B.

      It depends on how these problems impact you. If you can get your own work done without being impeded, I’ve practiced focusing on doing as good a job as I can FOR ME because that is how I want to perceive myself. There can also be the challenge aspect of jumping through bureaucratic hoops or strategy to get what I need from coworker most easily.

    2. Not All Who Wander

      No answer, just empathy!

      I’m in a “not horrible but continuously irritating” job where my manager is not the most competent person I’ve ever worked for (to say the least), the position isn’t at all what I was told, I hate the location, and the mission isn’t very fulfilling. But for various reasons to do with my specialty being very out of favor in the current administration, I probably won’t be going anywhere for at least a year or two.

      Trying to not to join in the continuous venting with coworkers and to shrug of the near weekly drama over something that fell through the cracks or the blatant favoritism (mostly related to gender) is something I’m struggling with for sure!

    3. Tina

      I recommend looking into mindfulness and meditation – I know Oprah has a podcast my mom keeps suggesting to me.

      1. nd

        Was going to suggest meditation. I have a very difficult co-worker (and I can usually work with anyone). Within a few weeks of starting a regular meditation practice, the co-worker suddenly became much less difficult. Really, it was my own perception and relaxed way of coping with the co-worker and issues caused by the co-worker. Amazing.

    4. Kathenus

      You’re already halfway there in that you recognize that there’s nothing you can do about it and that you want to come to peace with that fact. This is an example of where something is simple, but not easy. Simple in that you acknowledge the situation, have evaluated and determined that you can’t change it, and have three main choices – you can’t accept it so you leave (which you don’t want to do), you can’t accept it but you stay and are unhappy and frustrated (which hurts only you), or you accept it and try to ignore/minimize it as much as you can since it’s a fact of the situation that you have no power to change. Simple and straightforward, but not at all easy to do in reality.

      Sometimes it helps me to do the pros/cons lists like when evaluating a new job, which can help you identify and re-focus on the things that you do like and try to give them more ‘power’ than the negative things that you can’t affect. And maybe think of a coping strategy, depending on the nature of the coworker problem – headphones, schedule breaks/lunches at different times to minimize time around them, view their behavior like a scientist studying an odd species, or whatever. Basically it comes down to acknowledging and accepting that this is the situation, you can’t change it, you want to stay, and then trying to lessen its power to make you unhappy.

      Best of luck, I wish I could do it easily myself. Sometimes it works for me, other times it’s a lot harder, but since I’ve tried to look at it more analytically it’s helped me cope.

    5. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

      Here’s what I do, and have varying amounts of success.

      *Force myself to gain perspective. Sometimes it’s physically saying out loud. “Well such and such sucks, but nobody else seems to think it’s a problem, so I won’t either”
      *Embrace my inner apathy (this round is usually following a burnout cycle)
      *Focus on doing what I can, sometimes it’s just continuing to bring to the attention the problems to those that can do something about it. (I spent years doing this about a coworker, and finally something was done about it)
      *Make your problems someone else’s problem. Related to above… So if you have a coworker who is not performing or not doing their job then make sure that their boss is engaged and make sure that they are feeling some of that pain.
      *Not serious but sort of serious… start finding the gallows humor about your coworker…
      Bob bingo – with a card full of Bobisms that frustrate you.
      Laugh inwardly at the things that drive you up the wall (usually accomplished by internal snarky
      comments)
      Gather ammunition for “Whose Coworker Sucks More” competitions with friends.

    6. Admin of Sys

      I try to embrace the ‘not my circus, not my monkeys’ mindset as much as possible. If their actions are not directly impeding your success or your projects, then try to disassociate their actions from your concern. They are a random person that you are forced into nearby cohabitation with for the length of the workday, but they’re not your problem.
      If they’re doing something that makes their own life harder, let them do so and hope they’ll figure it out soon – everyone has to learn on their own not to touch the hot stove. If they’re doing something that makes someone else’s life harder (but not yours), then assume that they’re both adults and the other person can handle the conflict themselves, or ask for help if needed. If they’re doing something that’s making /your/ life more difficult, then it sounds like you’ve decided that it’s not worth the complication and you’re not going to rock the boat, so embrace that attitude (but make sure to re-run the cost / gain equation occasionally, lest they get elevated to a BEC while you’re silently enduring).
      And if they’re doing something that you think is damaging the company / project / group / etc but no one else seems to agree, consider that the other folks involved may have more or different data than you do. I’m generally inclined to go the route of : express and document your concerns and then let things continue, secure in the knowledge that either the situation will evolve and eventually prove you right, or that whatever information you don’t know makes the coworkers worth it.

    7. BRR

      I’m not sure if this applies to your situation but for my coworker issues I’ve employed sort of not caring about things. My coworker’s work quality is poor. I’ve taken the necessary steps to try and fix it and nothing has happened I’m letting that fire burn when their are mistakes. I’m also asking for more since it’s impacting me (aka a direct report). My cubicle neighbor is constantly shouting across the entire office so I don’t care if I ask them to either get up or use email so I can focus.

    8. zora

      As someone who struggled with this while in a nonprofit, I basically developed a visualization. I imagined an actual Caring Button. Like a big red, flashing, lit up button in my brain, and when I found myself getting frustrated, I would turn it off (and the light would go off) while I would silently verbalize “I am turning off my Caring Button for the day! And just focusing on XYZ instead.” And sometimes I would have to reup it during the day, but it really was about emotionally distancing myself and the intentional reminder really helped.

      And then the breathing and the headphones/music would help me focus on my work and ignore those distractions.

  40. rosenstock

    re: legal nonprofit jobs

    i’ve been working at a corporate law firm (biglaw, financial stuff, etc.) as a litigation paralegal for a few years now. i’ve done mostly typical biglaw stuff but have worked on a few pro bono cases. i really want to transfer to a legal nonprofit similar to the aclu or something in that family. i live in a major city where many nonprofit branches live. for nonprofit folks: are these skills transferable? i feel like a lot of job postings want a background in human rights work, but i know i am a great paralegal/litigation support person. thank you in advance!

    1. The JMP

      Generally speaking, yes, those skills are transferable. I think this is where a really great cover letter will help a lot. Use the cover letter to demonstrate that you have the larger, overarching skills (organization, prioritization, legal research, etc.) that are relevant to the nonprofit role. You may have slightly better luck applying to positions where paralegal work is similar to the private law firm world (something like Legal Aid), but I think you can make the case that those skills transfer to most kinds of nonprofit legal work.

      One of the things that I screen for most closely when I’m hiring from outside the field is that the person knows what they’re getting into – i.e., they understand, even if they don’t have experience with, the day-to-day realities of our work. So for a paralegal coming from a BigLaw background, I would want to make sure they can excel in a job with much more limited resources, where they’ll be expected to wear various hats, where the environment is a lot less structured and a lot more fast-paced, and where they’ll be expected to take a significant amount of initiative. Of course not all hiring managers will focus on that, and not all nonprofit paralegal jobs are similar to the ones I hire for. But I do think it’s worth demonstrating that you understand the realities of the job.

      If possible, I’d also suggest you use your network. Your firm likely has great connections with the nonprofits in your city.

      1. rosenstock

        thank you, this is SO helpful! i’ve been fortunate enough to work with some partners who are well connected to a few big nonprofits so i will try to capitalize on that when i’m ready to move on :)

    2. PDXJael

      Yes, the skills are transferable. In my experience having the legal background is actually more attractive than the nonprofit stuff, because “human rights” type work can be so varied (like people counting spring break mission trips as experience). But it will depend on who is hiring and where their head is. Be prepared for more erratic work environments and lower pay, though!

    3. nd

      Yes! Very transferable. In my experience (director at a non-profit), many organizations are funded by a variety of grants with various compliance requirements. Someone who is able to read and understand contracts as well as laws and regulations is very valuable. Many non-profits will contract with law firms for actual legal work, but having someone on staff who can deal with the day-to-day compliance work would be super helpful. This type of position would be most likely an administrative position.

  41. PX

    Any product owner/managers around? How much involvement do you have in ‘minor’ details of the product (eg UI elements; wording of help messages etc)? Cant tell if part of my frustration with my current role is that because our team is small I’m more involved than I would like to be (eg we have no real UI person so our BA and I am left to our own devices) – or if this is just part of the role?

    Am also struggling mightily with just wanting this to be done. Learning that while I like a lot of this role, I also like variety, and just being stuck focusing on one thing is…driving me a bit crazy.

    1. I guess I am a product owner

      Product owner here! I can’t speak to how standard this is, but my team definitely provides guidance, review, and sign-off to UI design and error messages, although we don’t actually create it.

      1. I guess I am a product owner

        (Also yes, variety is key and it is not crazy to want it or think you might be able to get it. Make sure your management knows you value diversity in your work.)

      2. PX

        Ah this. This is what I’d like. Someone to just come up with the draft and I can review it. Currently I’m stuck doing a lot of this from scratch and…it just takes up so much time. Good to know that in an ideal world I could just review things!

        And re:diversity, yes. I definitely plan on letting my boss know that for next year I’d like to have a bit more variety in my work…

    2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

      If it helps at all I’m considered a business owner on my web project from hell and I am involved in all of this.

      Personally I think it’s crazy that I’m allowed darn near 100% control of our customer facing, very public, web portal. But hey… what could go wrong, right?

      1. PX

        Ahahaha I feel your pain. At least our team acknowledges that we do need a proper UI person (and are finally getting one…alas, a bit too late for me, but still). But yes, part of me is like – I am not equipped to do this. I do not have the skills. But I guess its happening!

  42. nep

    I used the word ‘cacophony’ in a cover letter the other day.
    Yup.
    I hadn’t set out to do so…it came to me (to use in the opening graf, no less) as I was finishing up the letter.

    Good luck to all the job-seekers out there. It seems as if nothing will open up, until it does.

      1. nep

        Ha. Didn’t see it coming but I had a moment of inspiration for a sentence up high, and it seemed to fit. Hope employer / hiring manager likes it.

        1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup

          I would want to work for a place that liked that I used “cacaphony” in my cover letter.

    1. The Dark Fantastic

      Is that unusual? It doesn’t seem like a surprising word to me, but I’m not in the US so maybe it’s a context thing?

  43. Blue Eyes

    Currently unemployed and have been job hunting a few months. I don’t find many good jobs I can apply to (ones that I meet all the requirements for, that I think I’d be good at, that should pay about what my previous salary was, and that don’t have any of my deal breakers like a super long commute).

    I know the longer you’re unemployed, the less desirable you become. How many months can I safely continue to look for a good job before I become blacklisted?

    1. Amber Rose

      Any amount of months as long as you are doing something in that time that you can explain in an interview. Volunteering is a good one, but lots of people spend time unemployed for one reason or another and employers understand that.

      1. Blue Eyes

        I would hope employers would be understanding about long periods of unemployment, but I worry because I’ve seen posts/comments here that said after 6 months people start to wonder what’s wrong with you that you haven’t been able to find a job yet. All the posts/comments were several years old, so I figured maybe the number of months has lessened/increased in the current job market. (I keep hearing about how unemployment rates are supposedly low, so I’d think that doesn’t bode well for people who remain unemployed long term.)

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

          To give you at least one hiring manager’s perspective. Yes, I’m going to look at gaps, under 6 months I’m not going to look too hard. 6+ I’m going to start to wonder what’s going on. If it’s helpful here are the questions that are going through my head for the 6+ gaps…

          *Has there been a relocation, can be harder to establish oneself in a new area
          *Is there anything that indicates the reason for the large gap (I used to live and work in an area where a large cell provider was located. Seemed like every 6-9 months they had a significant lay off, I would assume if your previous position was that employer you had the bad luck of trying to find similar jobs of 200 of your previous coworkers at the same time.
          *Do you bring something significant to the table skill wise.
          *Unemployment rates/trends. As you say, in an established hot employee market the longer the gap the more I’m going to wonder what all the other employers know (think of it when you are in a strange city and on a Friday night a restaurant parking lot is empty… without anything else, I’m going to figure the locals know something I don’t about the place and pass)
          *Are your skills stale (more important in tech, but still important in other roles)

          All that being said, if your resume shows the right skills then I won’t let a gap become a deal breaker, but it would be topic in the interview and I’d need some convincing that there isn’t an issue.

        2. Bend & Snap

          It took me 7 months to find a new job as an employed person. 6 months from employed to unit sounds insane.

    2. nep

      Dude if it’s only months I’m already blacklisted to infinity. (Well I’m working VERY part-time–been severely underemployed for a couple years now.)
      I feel your frustration. It’s been a good month or so I’ve not seen any openings that are suitable.
      Best of luck.

      1. Blue Eyes

        I’d been underemployed (before becoming unemployed) for a long time too. Really takes a toll mentally.

        Virtual fist bump of solidarity for the lack of suitable jobs!

      2. Artemesia

        If it is at all applicable to your work that is what free lance and consulting are made for.

          1. nep

            (Did a good bit of freelancing in the past–just has not panned out during this period. Again–yet.)

    3. Indefinite Contract Attorney

      10/10 recommend volunteering. Not only is it an answer to “what have you been up to,” but you never know who you might meet–who might know someone who is hiring.

      1. Blue Eyes

        I was always unsure about the volunteering suggestion. I did a couple unpaid/volunteer positions as internships in school, and it generally took a couple months to get one set up (most places that had volunteers didn’t have any openings). And it seems unkind to have organizations invest time in training me, only to leave as soon as I get a job. (I can’t make any long-term commitments since I have no idea what my hours will be like if I find employment again.)

        1. Artemesia

          Many places will continue to have a role for people who can volunteer part time and occasionally while they are working. Pick a place that you might have a continuing relationship with.

        2. Indefinite Contract Attorney

          There’s a HUGE difference between an unpaid internship and volunteering, even when they could be related, they aren’t really the same. While it’d be bomb to be able to volunteer in whatever your career path/role is, there are still THOUSANDS of nonprofits that need help with routine daily stuff–landscaping, walking dogs, serving breakfast at a shelter, reading books to kids, cleaning and organizing, driving a van, the possibilities are endless. When volunteers step up to help with little things, it frees up staff to handle the larger items they have to handle, but are usually too busy with the day-to-day to take care of.

    4. PieInTheBlueSky

      I hope I’m not nitpicking here, but I think you should consider applying to a job posting that you like even if you don’t meet _all_ of the requirements listed. Of course it depends on the type of job and which requirements you do or don’t meet, but if you met 75% of the requirements you should definitely consider applying. Even if it’s only 50%, I’d suggest you consider it.

      1. Blue Eyes

        Not nitpicking! I did read a few articles on how and why you should apply for jobs that you aren’t a perfect match for when I first started job hunting.

        But anytime I’ve applied for something I’m not 100% qualified for I either don’t hear back from the company, or I end up doing a phone screening where they grill me on the experience or knowledge I don’t have and didn’t claim to have (and then I don’t hear back from them unless it’s a rejection). It’s hard to muster up the motivation to go through the whole application process for something where I’m likely going to end up explaining how I’m unqualified.

    5. The New Wanderer

      I’ve now been unemployed for 13 months. I was a finalist for a position at Very Well Known Tech Company at the 8 month mark and only had two questions about the time off – one was the standard “why did you leave your last job,” and the other was a casual “so how’ve you been spending your time off” type question. Several times in 2018 interviewers seemed to think I was still at my previous job even though my resume clearly indicates it ended during 2017. They didn’t seem put off when I clarified that I was laid off in 2017 and am fortunately able to wait for the right opportunity.

      So, I don’t think it always matters to employers, and it shouldn’t because some fields are just harder to find jobs in than others, and it’s not like I can just … stop looking forever if I’ve exceeded some kind of expiration date.

    6. Crylo Ren

      Can you do some freelancing through Upwork or similar during this time? Otherwise, seconding the volunteering option. If nothing else, it will be something to fill your time, and it may lead to another opportunity.

      Yes, it will be harder to explain as time goes on, but as long as you can explain what you have been doing and come up with ways you were adding value to some organization during that time, I would think the employer you’d want would understand. Good luck.

  44. BirthdayWeek

    What’s the protocol for sending a thank you email to a phone screen ‘interview’? Overkill or couldn’t hurt?

    1. nep

      Did the person doing the phone screen talk about next steps? Perhaps just an email acknowledging that/noting that you look forward to next steps/speaking further, and adding a thank you.

      1. BirthdayWeek

        That’s a good point. She mentioned ‘following up if we choose to move forward’ which is pretty boiler plate.

        1. nep

          Yes–I wouldn’t think it would be overkill to send a quick email saying something along the lines of pleasure talking w/ you, look forward to speaking further, thanking her for her time…
          Short, matter-of-fact.

  45. Marina

    A coworker was promoted and there is a lot of petty gossip, jealousy, and remarks about it…. sheesh, shouldn’t we be happy? What is wrong with people? Can anyone relate?

    1. Morning Glory

      Is the coworker a good performer, and generally a good colleague? I’ve worked with many people where I would be happy for them, but a few people where I definitely would not have been happy to see them promoted.

      1. Ashlee

        Agreed. We have had a good bit of staff turnover recently, which is very unusual for us, and unfortunately, the nepotism has kicked into overdrive. Long term employees with excellent records are being overlooked so managers can get their friends hired/promoted, so it’s hard to be happy when the people who get promoted spend 95% of their time gossiping, on their phones and taking long lunches and their responsibilities get pushed onto coworkers who were overlooked.

    2. mkt

      I also have a few coworkers who constantly complain, gossip and waste time on mean-spirited speculation about other coworkers and why they are rewarded/recognized/promoted and not them. And I mean in the vein of comments on appearances, gross favors, that sort of thing.

      So yeah, some people are just miserable, petty and not fun to be around.

  46. psychresearcher

    Is it okay that I leave for lunch even when my team doesn’t? I am lead on a team of four. We typically don’t have time to leave for lunch, so we’ll bring our lunch and eat in the office–everyone on the team is fine with this. Once or twice a month, we do have time to leave. On these occasions, I always remind the team that we do have time for them to actua