open thread – September 21-22, 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.

{ 1,572 comments… read them below }

  1. Business Cat

    Looking for some advice and some context first: I’m currently working remotely for my company that I’ve been with for four years. I only started remote work in July after my family had to move for my husband’s job. Since my husband’s move is only required for a year (but could be extended), they guaranteed me approval to be remote for a year and then “re-evaluate.” My company allows for this type of flexible arrangement, but it depends on the manager/ department on how willing they are and how well they accommodate it. My current department is not very flexible or used to this arrangment, but agreed to it for me as their first case of it because I’m a very strong employee for them and they want to retain me (this was shared with me explicitly).

    In the meantime, my boss that I loved transferred departments a week into the arrangement, leaving me with the boss that caused her to transfer departments…and we are liking our new geographic area and think we might want to stay here over the long term. My new boss has shared that I could advance in the department into leadership if I move back to our original area. Meanwhile, my hours have gotten crazy (think 14 hour days every couple of weeks) and significantly less pleasant as her direct report. In addition, I’m finding remote work to be pretty lonely.

    Which leads me to the advice section. I’m not happy with this arrangement, as you may have guessed, and without the opportunity for long term advancement unless I move back, I’m probably going to tread water anyway. So, I’ve started applying/interviewing for positions that are local to my current area and in a higher ed setting, which I’ve always wanted to return to after a brief stint there as a new graduate. I just had a second interview and am waiting to hear back.

    1) Is it deeply uncool / burning bridges of me to leave after they made special accommodation to retain me? Note that the new roles I’m applying for are in a different industry and geographic location

    2) What are people’s experiences working in higher ed in a staff role? In your opinion is it worth a lateral move and maybe a slight pay decrease from my corporate job? How have you found career advancement to work in this setting? For context, my current role is senior level, individual contributor, and technical. Over the long term, I am hoping to get into people leadership and have gotten feedback that I’m on that path / have the right skills in my current company.

    Thanks for all advice and for anyone reading this saga :)

    1. Doug Judy

      I can’t comment on #2, but as for #1, no I don’t think you’re burning a bridge if you give proper notice. The situation doesn’t work for you anymore. People leave jobs all the time for that reason. You can always say you appreciate the effort they made to accommodate you but you have found remote work isn’t for you and your committed to remaining in your current location for the long term. Any reasonable person can understand that.

      Good luck!

      1. Business Cat

        Thanks for the advice! I was thinking similarly, but was looking for some external validation as my current boss is not the most reasonable person all the time, but that just means that there is more reason to leave rather than stay. In addition, even if she isn’t happy, I know for a fact that many other people in my current company would be good references and even have offered out of the blue to let them know if I’m ever looking for a position in their department, so my overall relationship with the company in general shouldn’t be affected at all.

        Doug, I saw below that you are considering remote work. Don’t let my experience scare you. There are definitely perks to the set up, including flexibility and less micromanaging if your work product is good. In my case, the fact that my department is bad at being flexible and I’m the only one who is remote is part of the challenge, combined with moving to a new geographic area to not knowing many people. Good luck to you and thanks for the response!

        1. Doug Judy

          Oh thanks, I am not worried. The position I am looking at, most, if not all the company works remote, so that helps. Plus I am not adjusting to a new area, I’ve live in this city 15 years and my current neighborhood for 8. There’s many ways I think I can combat the loneliness that can come with remote work.

          1. Business Cat

            Yes, that sounds very different and very positive! One of my friends just took a remote job in similar circumstances and loves it even though its her first experience with remote work.

    2. NW Mossy

      Re: #1, there’s a decent chance that it’ll go over better than you might expect. Just as you’re experiencing some “ooh, hey, this isn’t as smooth as I’d hoped it would be,” so is your company. It sounds like they’d prefer not to be supporting the remote arrangement all else being equal (inferred from the “please return if you want to move up” commentary), and your departure would give them the opportunity to hire someone in Old Locale.

    3. WellRed

      To no. 1, no. I mean, they made a generous accommodation, but it’s not like they built you a whole building and crafted a new title, etc. Plus, the terms changed a bit when you got the new boss. You’re not happy and it’s not unreasonable to make a change after a big move.

      1. Jadelyn

        And even if they had – unless you’ve got an actual contract stipulating you have to stay for X period of time, you’re still not obligated to dedicate yourself to that employer now and always, even to your own detriment, because they did a nice thing for you once.

        I mean, I wouldn’t suggest scooting out the day after it was done, but after six months or so? I’d consider most debts paid by that point. (Some situations may not be – like the person with the company card debt and whose company worked with them on it? I’d say that person should stay put if at all possible for at least a year or two.)

      2. Seriously?

        I would probably focus on how the terms changed after you left. If the long hours are a new development, that seems fair to want to leave. Also, the move was initially temporary but now looks permanent so it makes sense to get a new job if you are not going back and already have pressure to return.

        1. Seriously?

          You said that this arrangement was for a year and then would be reevaluated. If you are really concerned, you could try to find a job that starts near the year mark. I don’t think that is necessary though.

      3. Mephyle

        The “generous accommodation” seems to have been mostly in adapting their mindset. It’s not as though they invested in a lot of (or any?) physical assets to make the remote arrangement work, is it?

      4. Autumnheart

        To be fair, Business Cat also made a generous accommodation by continuing to work for them remotely. The business is benefiting from this arrangement by retaining a strong employee.

        I think that both parties are free to evaluate whether this is a sustainable solution, and if it isn’t, then it would be completely reasonable to find a new job in the new location. The business was already planning on potentially replacing Business Cat if the arrangement didn’t work out, so it is entirely within scope for Business Cat to apply the same evaluation.

    4. Elisabeth

      It sounds like they only extended this special arrangement to you for a concrete year, and beyond that it was re-evaluation. Further, you’re not beholden to a job when a new arrangement is made. It’s entirely feasible that remote working no longer works FOR YOU. Which is a valid reason to look for a new position.

      They kept you because you were a viable asset, but if the job is stagnating and you’re not happy with the accommodation, there’s no reason not to look!

    5. Project Manager

      I don’t think you’d be burning any bridges. I think you can safely say that your situation has changed, that you’re planning on staying in the area long-term and working remotely isn’t working well with your working style. You could even tell them that you were concerned to hear that you wouldn’t be considered for promotion while working remotely. Any one of those reasons is sufficient and understandable.

    6. Small but Fierce

      Following as I literally just negotiated a remote work situation due to my husband’s promotion and relocation. First time on my team this has happened. Wish I could help but hopefully others can help us both!

      1. Business Cat

        Small but Fierce, it hasn’t been all bad, especially because it was much, much nicer to be able to focus on the move without worrying about a job search at the same time. If all it means for me is that I had a chance to transition more easily, it wasn’t a bad arrangement. Good luck! My advice three months in is that there are nice things about being remote and if I had a better boss I think I would be much happier. Also, look for things to get involved in your area. I just joined a community theater production and though its all still new, its been a great way to get to know more people and have an excuse to get out of the house!

        1. Small but Fierce

          Thank you for the advice! I also love theater so I was planning on doing that, as well as apply to get an online MBA since I finally qualify for tuition reimbursement. I actually received a job offer ahead of the move, but I turned it down due to a variety of reasons. I hope I won’t regret it.

    7. College Career Counselor

      For #1, I agree with Doug Judy. You’re not burning a bridge at all. The “re-evaluation” after a year goes both ways; you’re just finding that this is a remote arrangement that you find not to be working longer term. People change jobs for all kinds of reasons, and just because they gave you the flexibility here doesn’t mean that you’re obligated to stay with them forever.

      As for #2, I’ve worked most of my career in higher ed staffing, and I really like the work. I’ve been in team, individual contributor (subject matter expert) roles and supervisory roles. There should be opportunities to manage projects and lead teams in what you describe, but I don’t know for the role that you’re considering whether you need certain academic credentials or previous leadership experience to advance. That would be a question to ask your interviewers (what’s the path for advancement to project mgmt./leadership for people in this kind of role?). It’s possible they want to hire you to do widget tech for the rest of time, but I would try to find out if there are legitimate advancement opportunities. They should be able to articulate how/if that process happens.

      You may find that the work environment is differently paced (that may be a positive or negative, depending on what you want), the resources not as readily available, and there will be an adjustment to a different organizational culture as well. YMMV as to whether you like all those changes, so to the extent you can, ask people at that institution and in the department what they like best about the work and what they find the most challenging.
      Good luck!

      1. Business Cat

        Thanks so much for sharing your advice. That is all very good to know and very helpful! currently slower paced sounds good, but not sure how it will feel as I adjust as I’m used to very fast paced environments.

        In a recent interview, I was encouraged to hear the emphasis on work life balance and that the supervisor hiring had trouble thinking of an example of an occasion her team had to stay late, which sounds much better than my current “frequently has to stay late due to poorly planned last minute projects from my boss who prides herself on long hours and long hours of her staff.” I also got the sense that long term advancement was possible and supported, but might take longer and involve moving departments, which isn’t that different from my current world. I think I would be happy if I had a senior level individual position doing interesting work with pretty similar pay and better balance…all things that seem pretty reasonable for the jobs I’m targeting….now just to see if one turns into an offer! Thanks again!

        1. Smarty Boots

          I’d talk with the team members about work-life balance also. The supervisor may be giving you the truth from her perspective, but may not be as clued in to what time commitments the team members really do put in. For instance, supervisor isn’t asking people to stay late, but maybe they are frequently taking work home.

        2. anon today

          Ha, Business Cat – we are in very similar boats. You totally described by current position with this: “frequently has to stay late due to poorly planned last minute projects from my boss who prides herself on long hours and long hours of her staff.” Ugh!

          It drives me crazy and I too am seeking out an academia job for the set hours and generous benefits (especially PTO). There are a few colleges and universities around and I get notices whenever a job jets posted.

          You seem much further along the process than I, and I wish you luck! (And I don’t think you will be burning any bridges, btw)

      2. JessicaTate

        To #2, “differently paced” was very true in my experience. Shifting from a consulting business environment (fast paced, with lots of tracking and analyzing our hours) to a more academic organization (not higher ed, but very similar in culture), the pace was an adjustment. I would actually describe it as a shift from a culture really focused on efficiency in the use of time (staying on or under budget led to profit) to a culture where efficiency wasn’t even on the radar. Things took as long as they took to wind through the process that was there.

        If you can make that culture shift, the pace-change might be really positive. With an “it is what it is” attitude, the better work-life balance sounds great! I have several friends in staff positions in higher ed and they LOVE it. But after I’d come to really value efficiency, it was hard for me to adjust to a circuitous process to getting things done.

      3. tra la la

        You may also want to talk, if you can, with anyone else in the department or organization (I work in a division of a university that has multiple departments) who has a background similar to yours. Someone who has always worked in higher ed may have blind spots about work-life balance and other issues that someone who transitioned into higher ed from another sector may be more able to advise you on.

    8. Not a Real Giraffe

      Regarding #2, I worked on the staff side of higher ed for many years. YMMV but my experience was that you don’t advance very quickly unless you switch departments, and annual salary increases are the standard COL increase of 3%.

      It’s hard to make any changes because people/departments can be very entrenched in their “that’s how we’ve always done it” ways, it’s very bureaucratic, and everything takes way longer than it needs to. These weren’t dealbreakers to me, just something I had to get used to.

      On the flip side, there was a lot more flexibility. I was not expected to work long hours or be constantly available by email, the benefits were incredible, and I had a ton of vacation time.

      1. Business Cat

        Actually here is a question regarding higher ed – I was taken aback during one part of a recent interview. They ran me through the gamut of a meeting with a huge number of people in the area, one of the managers who would be a part of the larger team, but not my manager, asked about my resume, “it seems like you have held positions for a short amount of time, why should we think you wouldn’t do the same here?” I was pretty taken aback because I’ve been with the same company for the past four years, but in different positions. I answered by explaining that it might not be apparent, but that I’d only switched departments once and the rest of the time had been promotions in the same area. Since I’d always heard advancing at the same company was a positive, I’m second guessing myself that I didn’t do enough to reassure that I’d stick around longer and then further put my foot into by asking the direct manager about advancement and growth opportunities. I reassured that my interest in the role would mean I would first want to stay there for a substantial amount of time and was only thinking about the long term to my direct manager, but maybe not to the person doubting my experience. In your higher ed experience is that something about a culture difference between corporate and higher ed or just something about that manager and maybe not understanding my resume fully? kind of specific, but wondering if jumping departments is frowned on more in your higher ed experience and if I raised a red flag.

        1. Person A

          Work in higher ed and yes switching departments and jumping around within departments is hella frowned upon. We all do it anyway but it creates a lot of hassles because the hiring process SUCKS. We were notified that one of our staff members was moving to another campus department and she even gave us THREE weeks notice due to when the semester started. It’s been a month since she left and they haven’t even closed her position to start interviewing. We are looking at likely late October at the earliest that someone could start. She left at the end of August. It has a lot to do with government restrictions on HOW we hire (mid-sized public university). So that’s probably why the person was questioning you. Promotions in the same role DO NOT happen here. You MUST move to move up and filling your old position sucks. So yes, someone who has jumped around a lot in the corporate world would stand out as a problem to some managers. (BTW not saying I agree with any of this AT ALL but it is what it is )

          1. Person A

            Oh! One other thing to add is your life will be dictated by the school calendar. Maybe you have children and it already is but I don’t and a lot of my friends struggle with “why can’t you just request off to join us in Cancun in May?”. “Well that’s finals week and NO pto is approved then because it’s all hands on deck (I work in the library). We could go a week later after the semester is over?” They no longer have to think in school year terms and I do.

          2. Business Cat

            Thanks so much, this is really good context. I’m hopeful that my response wasn’t a total red flag, and that my accomplishments and track record as a top performer are enough to overcome it. Thinking about it more, they are hiring because someone left after a year so that’s probably why it was on his mind. Good to know what to say differently if this interview doesn’t turn into an offer. Hopefully even saying that some of my positions were promotions in place helped explain that the context was different at my current company than he had assumed at first. Thanks again, really interested in learning these different norms!

            1. Higher Ed Employee

              I agree with Person A, but I’ve helped hire before and we understand that things work differently outside of our industry. Your experience shouldn’t be a red flag. Chances are they misread your resume, and once you explained that it was within the same company they were probably okay with it.

              The only big red flag I could think of would be if each of those positions were very different in nature, then it would be hard to determine what your actual proficiency is.

              1. Business Cat

                Thank you for the reassurance and the response below too. It’s very helpful to better understand all this. You might laugh at this, but for me, higher ed is currently the “green grass” I envy, so it’s really beneficial to see that there are cons as well as pros, so I can jump into it with a clear sense of how it would actually be.

                On my positions, what surprised me is that my resume is all the same job family and company but progresses like associate to sr. associate to lead, so it was probably a case where we didn’t understand each other’s world at first and were talking past each other. I think I could make it more obvious on my resume in the future, but hopefully my response clarified it and knowing more about the context really helps make me feel more prepared for the future too. Overall, I think I represented myself well and if someone else is a stronger candidate its outside my control.

                One plus to my corporate to higher ed job search is that appears that I may be benefiting from my time outside the higher ed world in the sense that I know now I probably had more opportunity to advance and am now at a senior enough level that getting hired at the same level in higher ed with great benefits and work life balance would be a pretty cushy gig if I can get it! thank again!

        2. Not a Real Giraffe

          Part of it could be that it’s not clear on your resume that they were promotions within the same team and that your goal is to stick around, but still grow professionally. And part of it could just be that one particular interviewer.

          I am sure this is all department (and institution) dependent, but most departments will want you there for many years. “Moving up” isn’t the same in higher ed as it is in corporate. It took me 2+ years to get a promotion in one of my departments, but it was only a title change – my actual role did not expand at all. In another department, people waited 4+ years for a title change.

          It might be easier to think of each individual department as its own company, rather than the institution itself as the company. What I mean by that is, if I interview in Career Services, the interviewer is going to want me to stay in Career Services for 4 years. Once I leave Career Services for Academic Advising, it’s almost as if I left the company altogether.

          1. Business Cat

            Thank you for the information! That is really helpful! If it was enough of a red flag for that interview process, I already know much better what to say next time. I think in the moment, I was just very surprised, because I never thought my job history even slightly resembled a job hopper (grad school, contract position, contract position to full time position, then parking with a company of my full time position for four years but advancing to higher titles). I think there are things I can do to make it more clear if I need to in the future.

        3. Dr. Anonymous

          People in academia are often very opinionated and they don’t all know how to interview. If this is not the direct manager or the chair of the search committee, don’t worry about it.

      2. Anna

        Yes to all this. Excellent benefits and perks, especially at large universities, but the pay raises are minuscule and advancement is hard. There are also a lot of difficult personalities, especially if you are working with tenured faculty. In large institutions, there can also be a huge amount of tangled beaurocracy that sometimes conflicts with itself.

        But great benefits! And also it is usually a pretty secure job.

    9. Tragic The Gathering

      RE number 2:

      Depending on what field in Higher Ed….I’ve always found it difficult to move up, little to no room for advancement, and a very much “move out to move up” attitude, especially if you’re starting more mid/lower level. Because higher ed jobs can tend to be for life, oftentimes you’re trapped until someone retires. There’s very littler firing going on for poor performance, and people can really get entrenched in their roles.

      From a passion-project point of view, I couldn’t do anything else, but it is a frustrating place to be career-wise. The benefits can outweigh it though – meaning the literal benefits of working for a university (typically good health/retirement/etc. lots of vacation/sick time) but also that for all the reasons that poor performers get stuck in roles, you also know your role is relatively safe most of the time.

      Just my experience, happy to chat more if you’d like!

      1. A Beth

        This is a much more positive version of the comment I spent several minutes writing and rewriting then deleting because it made me so frustrated to think about my career in higher ed.

      2. Business Cat

        Repeating a question to get better understanding about the higher ed culture based on an interview:

        Actually here is a question regarding higher ed – I was taken aback during one part of a recent interview. They ran me through the gamut of a meeting with a huge number of people in the area, one of the managers who would be a part of the larger team, but not my manager, asked about my resume, “it seems like you have held positions for a short amount of time, why should we think you wouldn’t do the same here?” I was pretty taken aback because I’ve been with the same company for the past four years, but in different positions. I answered by explaining that it might not be apparent, but that I’d only switched departments once and the rest of the time had been promotions in the same area. Since I’d always heard advancing at the same company was a positive, I’m second guessing myself that I didn’t do enough to reassure that I’d stick around longer and then further put my foot into by asking the direct manager about advancement and growth opportunities. I reassured that my interest in the role would mean I would first want to stay there for a substantial amount of time and was only thinking about the long term to my direct manager, but maybe not to the person doubting my experience.

        In your higher ed experience is switching departments/getting promoted something about a culture difference between corporate and higher ed or just something about that manager and maybe not understanding my resume fully? kind of specific, but wondering if jumping departments is frowned on more in your higher ed experience and if I raised a red flag.

        1. Rainy

          It sounds to me like your interviewer didn’t understand what was happening in your resume, but it’s also the case that some departments are significantly less open to people moving around within them than are others. I work in higher ed on the student affairs side and I’ve held three wildly different roles within my department in my 3 years here. One (the most recent) was a lateral move into a role created for me on a different team because my office wanted to keep me and I didn’t want to leave when the grant that I was heading up was transferred to a different department for administration.

        2. Tragic The Gathering

          Not knowing the manager specifically my guess is that they just didn’t understand the culture. It’s an odd comment to make also because one of the benefits for me of working in Higher Ed is that while yes some people get trapped for life (tenure, administrators, etc.) below those levels they’ve been really understanding with my lifestyle, which requires moving every couple of years for my husband’s job. It’s sort of the flip side of that “move out to move up” coin – since they already expect you’ll leave the institution/office if there’s a better position elsewhere, they don’t mind if you have to leave for other reasons.

          In fact in my last position, I was one of a large handful of “trailing spouses” as we were called – those of us who are sorta stuck there by nature of our spouse’s job. It was an open discussion whenever one of those spouses had opportunities come up. For some it was tenure track positions at other universities, in my specific case my husband is a college football coach.

          I hope that makes sense.

      3. blink14

        Agree with your comment, Tragic The Gathering. Someone recently got let go in my division who should’ve been fired 3-4 years ago, and it’s finally happening, but there’s no plan in place to replace the person. It is very difficult to move up into higher positions, especially if you are starting fairly low on the scale. I’m at a major university, and mostly you see people jumping between colleges to gain promotions.

    10. it_guy

      “My new boss has shared that I could advance in the department into leadership if I move”….

      That’s not guaranteed. That’s not “You Will”.

      It’s a definite, promise of a maybe, smothered in possibly.

      My advice: Keep looking.

      1. Business Cat

        Thanks, I agree with that completely! Its a very shifting environment at the moment and that’s the type of thing that’s easy to say and almost possible to guarantee unless its an actual offer. I think I’m also getting to the point where even if it was on offer but on current terms (move back and stay in not great environment) it wouldn’t be worth it. At the level I’m at now, my salary is already very comfortable and I’m starting to look for benefits outside of position and salary, well trying to balance that with wanting long term growth.

    11. Pam

      I agree with College Career Counselor. Higher ed staff work can be great. (I certainly love my job!) I work for a state university- stability is excellent, benefits are great, there’s an actual pension, but pay may not be as good, and raises are hard to get.

      I’m an academic advisor- the best part of my job is watching the students grow and succeed.

    12. Zillah

      I agree that you’re not burning any bridges. They didn’t just let you work remotely as a favor – they want to retain you because you do a good job. I don’t see this as any different as leaving in general.

    13. Lucille2

      I manage a team of remote and in-office employees. While remote work is part of our culture and the norm, you may need to take some of this with a grain of salt. However, you may find it helpful.

      #1 – Based on what you’ve said, I don’t believe moving on is a bridge burning move. Your working from home is conditional: one-year and they evaluate if it’s working before allowing it to continue. This means they have an out if they feel it’s not ideal. And your leaving may be all they need to know to determine telecommuting doesn’t work for your company. Also, I advise you to take cues from others who have resigned. Who seems to have preserved their reputation well, and who had the door hit them on the way out and why. I was surprised that after resigning from my last job I experience some resentment among a few of my coworkers. I felt blindsided by it, but that’s a story for another post.

      Also, I would like to offer some advice for making the best of your current situation in case you’re stuck in your position for longer than you’d like. Building/retaining relationships remotely is very different than in office. You really need to put yourself out there more often. Schedule meetings, offer to do websharing and video chats with colleagues. Be more vocal in meetings so you’re not easily forgotten. You may find you’re more productive than you were in office. As for the loneliness? That’s common. You can combat that by adjusting your daily routines. It helps to have a morning routine similar to heading into an office. Get up, work out, shower, be presentable. Take a lunch break by going for a walk outside or meeting with a friend or your spouse. Since you’re new to your city, I recommend finding something that gets you out and meeting people, like an evening class or join a meetup.

      Best of luck to you!

    14. Mosby

      A previous company I worked for had a similar policy, where people could arrange to work remotely full-time if they needed to relocate to another city. In all instances that I can think of except for one, the employee ended up leaving my company for a position at a local company less than a year after their move. It was almost expected, and if you give proper notice and good transition documents there should be no reason for any bridge to be burned (provided that, as people mentioned above, no contract was signed indicating you need to stay a certain amount of time). The bottom line is that remote work isn’t for everyone, and it’s especially hard when the majority of people you work with aren’t remote and work in the same office.

    15. Higher Ed Employee

      I work in higher ed administration, and my experience is very similar to other commentators here.

      The benefits are a HUGE plus, and ultimately the reason why I’ve chosen to stay in the industry. Most schools offer a tuition benefit where you can take classes either for free or at a steep discount (I’m almost finished with my Master’s degree and I have zero debt from it). There are also excellent affordable healthcare plans, free/discounted access to the university’s amenities (health clinic, gym, dining halls, ect.) and extremely generous PTO that your boss wont fault you for using.

      Another plus is the work/life balance. Universities run on an 8-5 schedule, and once 5:00 hits you’re not expected to stay a minute later. I like to joke that when I’m outside of work I feel like I’m unemployed, because I’m not expected to answer emails or even think about work during the evenings, weekends, and on vacations.

      There are a few major downsides, however. The biggest is that you will never be paid as much as you are in the private sector. Don’t expect to start low and work your way up because merit-based pay increases are not a thing here. Opportunities for promotions are few and far between due to how small the departments (and their budgets) are, and because universities tend to have many lifelong employees. In order to get a pay raise, you generally have to find a position at another university. If you live in an area where there are a lot of schools then that could be okay, otherwise you’re kind of stuck.

      So it just depends on where your values lie. For me, I like the benefits and don’t mind the pay or lack of upward mobility for now. However, I’m still young in my career, and I may choose to leave once I complete my master’s degree and my earning potential in the private sector significantly increases.

      1. Res Admin

        Having worked in academia for over 25 yrs., Higher Ed Employee is pretty spot on. Although I will quibble that some higher level positions, much like their private sector equivalent, do lend themselves to more after-hours work. Not as much, but it does happen.

        Additional things to consider that can make a huge difference:

        Where you start matters. Smaller units tend to have less funding and less upward mobility. On the other hand, they don’t expect anyone to stick around for long. Larger units have much more flexibility in promoting from within due to greater need and more funding. Ideally, central offices, while potentially stressful (relatively speaking) will have the greatest opportunities.

        Likewise, the size of the college/university matters. Mine (large public university) currently has a huge initiative on to increase their status among public universities. That means more funding and more potential for growth because they are bringing in more faculty that need support. It also means that targeted departments have a much larger budget for staff salaries. Things to look for is how much they bring in from research dollars, do they have new projects starting up, how long have the money makers been there?

        Significant pay raises usually require moving to a new position, either in the same unit or another unit. I’ve applied for and accepted demotions and gotten a 25% bump up in pay. I’ve seen people take promotions for a pay decrease. Those things tie back to which unit you work in…and is something you should be able to research about the specific jobs you are interviewing for.

        Also, some titles sound really great–and pay embarrassingly little. In other words, don’t be afraid to branch out in your job search. You may be surprised.

      2. Blue

        I second a lot of this and many of the points – both positive and negative – other higher ed admin people have mentioned. I’d also caution you that a lot of people in academia have little-to-no experience working outside of higher ed. So things that may seem like pretty standard business norms (a reasonable response time on an email, for example, or recognizing that it’s not weird to be promoted multiple times within one department, as you mention elsewhere!) are sometimes absent. I’ve spent most of my career in higher ed and still find it frustrating, so I imagine it’d require some adjustment coming from the corporate world. On the plus side, I left work at 4:30 today and won’t think about it again until Monday. :)

        Good luck with your search – it sounds like it at least makes sense to explore your options!

    16. Emily K

      #1, agree with everyone else. Look at it this way – did your company make an guarantee that you wouldn’t be laid off during that time if the business need arose? If they are free to lay you off, you are free to resign. Yes, they did make a modest effort to retain you, but it’s not one that has really cost them anything that they’ll be out if you resign–if you resign, they’re just back in the same position they would have been in if they hadn’t approved your remote plan originally. It’s not like they paid you a massive bonus or were all set to hire someone else but then turned them down to let you do the work remotely. They’ve lost nothing if you’ve decided that it’s not working out.

    17. Frankie

      For #2, it really depends on the job line and the department. Raises will not be huge so you’ll stay around the same wage level for quite some time unless you can get a promotion. Promotions will move pretty slowly. Do you have advanced degrees? More and more staff need a masters or higher to advance, sometimes a PhD.
      But typically there’s good benefits and a lot of leave time (not close to what faculty have, but generous compared to corporate). Someone else mentioned you get to leave work at work at 5, but that has not been my experience in most professional higher ed jobs. Lots of people are taking their laptops home and you may be expected to as well.
      The reasons I like higher ed are the mission and the smart people and cool projects I get to be around. The faculty/staff divide can be really frustrating, though. And faculty have a lot of autonomy, far more than a typical middle manager at a random company, so getting work done with them is often about incentivizing them rather than trusting the company hierarchy to apply some leverage.
      It’s a really interesting mixed bag. I’d honestly do some informational interviews in the area you’re interested in working in, and get a sense of some specific experiences. It can really vary from area to area and from institution to institution as well.

      1. Business Cat

        Thanks for the advice! I have my masters, so hopefully that helps. I’m also planning on some informational interviews with people connected to my alma maters, so I hope that I can get a good sense before I jump in. The aspects that are most appealing to me are the mission, smart people, and cool projects, similar to what you described, hopefully coupled with better work life balance than I have at the moment. Now I’m trying to figure out if the specific institution / roles I’m interested in provide more pros than cons, but some of that is hard to figure out exactly from the outside. Thank you for your response, it provided a helpful and balanced perspective.

        1. Teapot Archivist

          The aspects of my job that are excellent are the ones you’ve picked up on here – smart people, cool projects, and the mission. I love working with students. It’s not a 9-5 for me, but better than that, it’s a case of working flexible hours on a 37.5 hour week. As I don’t have children, that suits me wonderfully. Every day I sit with leading researchers and chat about everything from the real world implications of politics, to sharing recipes.
          The downside is that the pay is very low. This doesn’t matter to me, as I have an income stream that means I don’t need to work. However, I do have concerns for other staff members who are on low pay in a high CoL city.
          There are also very tricky personalities – I do a lot of work smoothing situations with potentially difficult people. You might have less exposure to these people…

    18. Name Required

      Chiming in to reinforce what everyone else is saying!

      If a bridge is burned in this case, your company is being unreasonable. This simply isn’t working for you, and the circumstances of your job have changed.

      On working in higher ed … I just started a new job after working as staff for an admissions dept. for a little less than a year. I would never, never return to higher ed. Coming from a start-up/project management background, the glacial pace of movement was maddening. The petty politics were exhausting. The resistance towards firing incompetent staff was demoralizing. The pay was low with no advancement opportunities in department (my associate director and director has been in their roles for 7 years, with no plans to move for the rest of their career), and while the benefits were better than those at a small company, they aren’t any better than benefits at a large, corporate company (which is what I moved into). The technology was years behind.

      Look at the leadership team you’ll be under — is the dean someone who spent most of their time in academia doing research and teaching, and how much experience do they have making complicated business decisions in the “real world?” (Because you might find yourself in a position like mine: supporting new programs with no market research and no implementation plan just because other colleges have them, so it must serve a market need!)

      :-) I swear I’m not bitter!

      You said that higher ed is like the “greener grass” for you right now … is it just because you’re working 14 hour days now, or because you are invested in helping students? You can not work 14 hour days and also not work in higher ed. The folks I’ve met in higher ed (I live in a college town, so I know quite a few) who love their jobs either have a passion for education/students OR are more invested in their life outside of work (and prefer low-stress, l0w-stakes work even if it comes with lower pay).

      1. Business Cat

        For me, its both. I’m interested in better work life balance, which is something I know I can get in most industries if I choose the right setting, but why higher ed in particular is that I’m interested in supporting the education mission and helping students. I have my Masters and was originally planning on PhD until I realized I could use my skills for a job right then for roles that would be intellectually challenging and actually pay now, rather than being on a stipend for the next five years. I applied for roles in a university setting at that point, but got hired first at my current company and was happy to stay there until now that I’ve moved and don’t like my current environment, it’s sparking the fire under me again. I think the long term advancement opportunities might be challenging for me, but that if I get hired at a similar level to my current (and by level I mean position level, not pay), pay would be pretty similar but maybe something like 4% less which actually might be made up in retirement benefits as my current ones are not good at all. I have an in demand job skill set that even universities are paying more to recruit (analytics developer) for context

        1. Frankie

          Mmmm, that’s a good area to be in in higher ed right now, and you’d probably be more sheltered from the “we work 24/7 for the students!” mentality.

        2. Res Admin

          Analytics Developer would be highly prized in my current unit. The people we have on staff for that are very well taken care of because it is essential to my the research efforts of my primary faculty. I would definitely recommend checking out the research efforts of faculty associated with particular positions you may be interested in.

          This is also a constant need for the university as a whole…and those positions tend to pay well (although they also have a reputation of being more challenging to work for).

    19. Pam

      A way to sell it to them might be ‘Things have changed, and I won’t be returning in a year. This allows you to fill the position with someone who can be in the office as needed.’

    20. Someone Else

      I do not think this is deeply uncool specifically because:
      1) right after the arrangement started, significant stuff changed on their end (awesome boss moved depts)
      2) they’ve explicitly offered you upward mobility if you move back and you already realized you don’t want to move back
      2 alone is good enough reason to start looking locally. You thought remote would be enjoyable. You thought you might be coming back. In good faith you believed that at the time. Now you know, it’s not enjoyable and you don’t want to go back. So it’s totally reasonable.
      An unreasonable person might not believe you or think this was your plan all along, but that’s a them problem not a you problem. This stuff happens.

    21. Smarty Boots

      Staff jobs in higher ed. Is there a reason you are looking at higher ed in particular? Be careful about nostalgia and romanticizing what working at a college or university is like. Like any employer, higher ed employers can be good or sucky; promotion can be good or dismal. Try to get as much info about the school, and also the dept/division/office within the school where you’d be working, with respect to these issues. You should also look into how financially stable the institution is, is it dependent on the state legislature for funding and what’s the track record on that, how is the department or office you’d be working in funded and how well is it funded. If the pay is lesser, do the immediate and longterm benefits make up for it?

    22. JanetM

      I’m in a different situation — higher ed non-exempt staff — but I wanted to say that 95% of the time I love working in public-sector academia (and I did work in the private sector for about 10 years before coming to the university, in a variety of industries — I temped for about five years when I first moved to Tennessee). I was an admin assistant for most of that time, and am currently in a project manager role (there’s a story behind that!).

      I don’t mind scheduling my life around the school calendar, I am grateful for the benefits (our PTO policies are amazing! and our insurance is pretty darned good), and I enjoy the casual nature of the department (I’ve been in IT the whole time, so we may have a freer environment than some of the academic departments, especially business and law).

      About 4% of the time, though, I want to go smack some bureaucrat (either within the university or in state government) upside the head.

      And every once in a while, I just looked at the person who had come into my office to commit aggravated stupid, and wondered how they managed to remember to breathe.

    23. MissDisplaced

      #1 No, it’s not deeply uncool. You moved, your manager changed, you began working remotely. Even if you really loved your job these are changes that simply may not work for you anymore. It’s more than understandable. If you like the place, just give ample notice and be accommodating if they may want to you fly back for wrapping things up during your notice.

      #2 I only worked in a staff role in higher ed for a very short time, and left for corporate. I thought I would love the security and emphasis on learning, but man, I was seriously underpaid! Like going backward about 10 years in my career. I also didn’t care for the pompous attitude of my manager, who seemed really clueless and out of touch with the technical field he was managing. Other people seemed very nice, but the pay killed me.

    24. AutumnAlmanac

      For #1, no it’s not uncool of you. Your circumstances changed, but so did theirs. You’re clearly a valued employee and they might do a certain amount to keep you, but a job is a job at the end of the day. You don’t have to read much between the lines to see that you’re invested in your future career, and that it doesn’t involve staying in a less preferred location just for the chance at advancement. I mean, look at the facts:

      1) You and your husband both like where you live;
      2) You have job opportunities in that area, and have a good chance of getting an offer, as you’ve already got a second interview;
      3) Those opportunities are in a career that you’re genuinely keen on.

      The negatives seem to be:
      1) You might not advance on your current career path unless you move back to somewhere you like less.

      Obviously only you and your husband can make this decision, but from a brief, outsider perspective, all the signs are there. And if you’re worried about your current manager making difficulties, it sounds like if you leave your current job politely and helpfully, you won’t be short of references.

      As for #2, I can’t give you any insight, even second-hand. None of my friends in education are in higher ed.

      Whatever you decide, I wish you the very best of luck. Wherever you end up, you sound like you’d be a wonderful co-worker or boss. :)

    25. TardyTardis

      Not with good notice–you might have found another job you liked better back in the old area, especially after your old boss moved.

    26. Alexa

      I can give feedback on #2 since I currently working higher ed. I love it! Although this is my first job out of college, I have had enough work experience where I know a good work environment when I see one. While this could totally range depending on who you work with, I love the community of everyone that works at the University, not just in your department. It’s kind of like a “we’re all in this together” atmosphere since we all have the same goals-make faculty’s lives easier lol. I also like that there are usually a ton of opportunities within the University if you want to move up. It’s also relatively easy to make a good (or bad) reputation within the University since it’s a relatively small community. Last note- another reason is it nice to move up within the University is because you can take all your benefits/accrued vacation leave/etc. with you to another department as opposed to starting over with a new company. Hope this helps!

  2. Emma

    I don’t know what kind of magical switch got flipped, but I’m suddenly in the running for 4 different positions!! I’ve only had phone calls with recruiters or HR people so far (3 of those calls happened this week!) so I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high…but part of me also kinda feels like probability dictates that one of them will work out? Maybe?

    1. Monty and Millie's Mom

      How exciting! Congratulations! I hope that you get offers from each and can afford to make the best selection for you!

    2. anonymoushiker

      That must feel great! I have been in that situation and not gotten any of the jobs, so try to assume none of it will pan out (in terms of your mental health, like Alison recommends), but it is a really good sign!

      1. Emma

        Yeah! I’m still sending out applications/networking as if I hadn’t gotten a single interview. It is nice to know though that I’m not just launching my resume out into the void, that my skills are in demand, and that my salary requirements are achievable!

      2. Julia

        Yeah, I’ve had recruiters sing my praises, told me I had a great chance, and then got rejected from all of those positions. Sometimes because the companies didn’t make their true requirements very clear to the recruiters/applicants.

        I hope so much that you will receive many job offers, but spending the last two weeks slipping into a depression because I kept being rejected is not something I wish on anyone. I am rooting for you, though!

    3. Quackeen

      That’s fantastic! I’m going to come stand next to you in the hopes that some of that good juju will rub off on me! :)

    4. Triplestep

      I really hope one of these works out and I am vicariously thrilled for you! But I’ll also be the killjoy who tells you that I was in this exact same position a few months ago, and I still don’t have a new job. One of them rejected me, two of them ghosted me, and one of them offered me the job at a 30% reduction in salary, then rescinded the offer when I tried to negotiate. (I would have taken a pay cut to improve my commute, but 20% at most.)

      I later found out the that rejected me went with someone with ZERO experience in the field (thank you Linkedin) one of the ghostings turned out to be a dodged bullet, and the one that rescinded the offer rather than pay me a bit more is STILL advertising, and now they are trying to fill it through contract firms (because no one would take it for the original low salary, so they are now going to shave off even more … smart!)

      Things have a way of working out. Best case scenario you get multiple offers, but not getting any of them might not be so bad either!

      1. Emma

        Ooof that sounds really rough. I hope you find something soon!! I really am trying to keep my glasses from getting too rose-colored, especially since I got burned pretty badly earlier this summer (was asked to apply for what seemed like my dream job, and did several screens & interviews over the course of 9 weeks only to be told “thanks but no thanks”).

  3. Jack

    I’ve been working as a scheduling coordinator for a small HVAC company for the past three years. In July, I left for what I considered a “better opportunity” (i.e. slight pay increase, better benefits) doing similar appointment scheduling work for a large, national automotive company. Turns out I was wrong – my original schedule, which was Mon-Fri 10-7 with no weekends, was changed by management on my second day to Mon-Fri 8-5 with every other Saturday. I also never fit into the company’s culture and its revolving door of employees. Being unhappy with the whole experience, I decided to quit on August 24. My employment history is relatively stable with only two employers since graduating college (five year and three year lengths, respectively).

    Should I include this failed stint on my resume? If I don’t then hiring managers will think I’ve been out of work for two months now and will want to know why I left the HVAC company out of the blue. However, if I include the 1-month job, then I’ll have to admit that I made a mistake in taking the new job and will get probed on why things didn’t work out. Either way, I’m going to have a gap regardless. Which method will help my chances?

    1. Murphy

      I don’t think you made a mistake. Given the info that you had, it seemed like a good choice, but it didn’t work out.

      I think you can cite the schedule change as the reason that you left. It wasn’t what you expected, and when you accepted the job, it wasn’t what you agreed to.

    2. Jessie the First (or second)

      I think in this case, it’s okay to leave it on your resume, and you can simply say that you are leaving because the new company changed your hours significantly after you started – that’s something that is out of your control, and it’s understandable why you would need to leave. And it isn’t badmouthing your job (if you say it in a neutral way – like “Unfortunately, the needs of the company changed after I started, and my position had to be restructured with entirely different hours. It no longer works with my schedule and so I am looking” or something like that).

      1. Emily K

        This language is perfect. As someone who has interviewed a lot of candidates before that answer would completely satisfy me without any flags being raised.

      2. Gaia

        This is a really great answer and it gives 0 red flags and doesn’t come off negative. Best of all, it can be used for a lot of reasons including: schedule changes, responsibility changes, location changes, etc, etc. Basically anything where the job wasn’t what you thought it was, plug it in here and you’ve got a great answer as to why you’re leaving.

    3. Longtime Lurker

      Leave it off your resume and when they ask about the gap say that you left for a job that was materially different then advertised.

    4. bopper

      Do you need to show it?

      HVAC 2015-2018
      Other company 2010-2015
      and then don’t mention the one month or if you do just say that the job requirements changed from what you were offered

        1. Jadelyn

          Agreed. If someone puts “2016-2017” for their time at a job, I’m immediately going to wonder if it was really December 2016 to February 2017 and they’re trying to hide that. Convention is month, year – if you don’t follow that convention, most people will wonder if you’re doing it for a reason, and hiding a short stay is the only reason I can think of for doing that.

          1. BeeBoo

            I agree if someone has only had stints that show a one year or same year period. But if someone shows multi-years at a company without months, then I don’t think twice about it when I am hiring.

            1. Bea

              I still do it because it’s information most applications request. Just pick a month you think is close enough if you’re not sure.

              My first job was Nov 2003 to Jan 2004, I recall this easily but I’m a history nerd, dates stick in my head.

      1. Minocho

        I would show it. The reason you left is entirely reasonable, and easy to present without badmouthing the company or introducing anything worrisome into the conversation (drama, other questions, etc.). It ALSO shows that you are willing to make decisions to leave a position that you are not happy with. This will self select you out of the running for jobs where they prefer employees that are doormats, and show that you have self confidence to try new things and better yourself, recognize problems and look for alternatives when things don’t work out and are up front and honest in your presentation.

        I think it’s a win to have it there on all counts.

    5. Bea

      Your only mistake is not knowing that auto dealerships are notorious for this. I see the same ones always needing reception/schedulers. That’s absolutely not your fault.

      Leave it off. Its not worth it.

    6. The Ginger Ginger

      I think if you choose to show it/talk about it, all you have to say is that the schedule you agreed upon when you were hired was changed substantially right after you started, and though you tried to make it work, the change was unsustainable. That is imminently understandable, and I think completely reasonable to other employers. Especially given your prior history and if you’re in a situation where you’re not in immediate financial jeopardy if you leave the job without another lined up. Like Alison says, it’s a PATTERN of job hopping that’s a problem, not a single short stint. And your patter is still long stays at a role. You’ll want to be careful about choosing your next one, because you’ll want to try to stay there for a decent term, but this one short term stay won’t sink you.

    7. MissDisplaced

      Changing your hours on your second day to include mandatory weekends? That’s a pretty huge bait and switch!
      I think you can leave it off, but honestly, a huge switch like that wouldn’t raise red flags. It would be understandable if you left if the job wasn’t represented to you like that.

  4. Doug Judy

    Thanks for all the input last week on working from home. The interview went very well and you helped me know what questions to ask. Hours are mostly flexible, as in you might have a conference call with a client or your team, but outside of that, you just need to have 40 billable hours to the client each week, so whatever works for you that week to do that, is fine. She clarified what equipment they provide and what things they would reimburse for ($50 for phone, $50 for internet). She said they didn’t have any specific rules about working when kids were home, because it’s more of a “know your family” type thing. Since my boys are 12 and 4, they aren’t usually home during the day anyway, and snow days my husband usually has off. The only time I need is really appointments and random sick day, but it sounds like those have easy work arounds with either working a bit that night or on the weekend to meet the billing requirement if I really couldn’t get work done with them home.

    I am going to meet with the hiring manager next week, and they have a weekly company wide call every Friday that they just want me to experience next Friday as well to get a feel for things. Over all it was very positive, and while I know working from home can be lonely, I think it will be ok. I’m both introverted and extroverted, and it seems there’s enough of a connection to satisfy my need to talk to people, but I also won’t have to listen to Susan’s loud chewing. Overall I am very happy with what I heave heard so far!

    1. MissDisplaced

      Sounds like a place that is pretty well-versed in remote workers.
      Make sure you have a good understanding of reporting with your manager, check-in days, team calls and one-on-ones. It’s also good to ask if you get to meet your team at least once or twice a year for something like a team meeting at headquarters or something. It helps keep the team connected.

      1. Doug Judy

        Yes, they do weekly one-on-one with my direct manager, one weekly team call, one weekly all company call and one two day on site once a year.

  5. What’s with today, today?

    As I’ve said, I work for a family owned, small market radio station cluster.

    Our office manager lost her cool on our most junior employee this week, our production manager. He’s 23, first job out of school and he’s been here about a year and a half. He has a nosy streak. If your cell phone rings, he will strain his neck trying to see who it is calling. He’s also been caught reading a text that popped up on office manager’s cell (cell is on desk, a text alert comes in, and he bends over to look at the text. He’s not physically going through people’s phones). Anyway, this has been a pet peeve of hers and she’s addressed it with him on several occasions. As I’ve mentioned before, our boss is rarely actually in the office because we have multiple stations.

    So, last Friday, one of our sales guys was going out of town. Typically, they finalize an ad sale, write up the production order and give it to the production manager. It’s then his responsibility to get the order (a radio commercial) done and in our system so it airs at the right times. The production manager does not get the production order until it’s finalized. The salesman was not able to confirm the commercial’s start date before leaving for vacation, so he gave our office manger the non-finalized production order with instructions to complete it and then give it to the production manager. This is a normal thing, she put it in her desk, inside her office. On Tuesday, the client called with the start date and our office manager couldn’t find the non-finalized production order. She looked everywhere! A short time later, she’s still looking, when in comes production manager asking about the start date for this commercial and why wasn’t it on the production order. He had taken the production order off of her desk and out of her office. He had actually called the salesman on vacation to inquire about the production date. She absolutely lost her shit on him about taking things out of her office and off her desk, and told him to quit meddling in her business. It was pretty well deserved, the written process says he doesn’t get the production orders until they are completely finalized.

    **Her Office is also where all extra supplies are kept, as well as the master calendar, so it’s not unusual for us to be in there getting pens or checking a date on the master calendar, but don’t be taking things off of her desk!**

    1. anonymoushiker

      I feel like I would have been that office manager. That is some seriously not-cool behavior by this guy.

    2. MuseumChick

      Yikes. You don’t take paperwork off someone desk unless you want to get your hand bit off. Did he say why he took it? Did he, after the verbal lashing, understand why what he did was not ok?

    3. Elisabeth

      Wow wow wow. This kid needs a wake-up call and maybe this was it. I don’t usually approve of someone losing it on someone else, but this is so far beyond okay. Even if he WASN’T a nosy person that constantly tries to snoop on others, there is never any excuse for taking documents from someone else’s desk without clearing it with them first or being asked specifically to grab the documents. He deserved to be called on the carpet.

    4. Bea

      It doesn’t sound like she was screaming. So I’m all for this kind of dressing down. He’s been spoken to before. You don’t take things you’re not specifically instructed to off someone’s desk.

      I’ve had to get things off a desk when a staffer was out of the office to complete a task. You leave a note if that’s the case or the next day say “hey, I grabbed Jimmy’s order off your desk yesterday so we could bill him.” or whatever.

      Chain of command is important.

    5. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      Saying he’s “nosy” is not quite serious enough in this instance because it sort of makes it sound like this is an annoying but unimportant personality conflict rather than a performance issue. He failed to follow the procedure for production orders and he disturbed someone on their vacation. He’s causing a work flow disruption and that needs to be fixed before it causes bigger issues.

      1. What’s with today, today?

        I only note the nosy streak to explain why he was looking all over her desk. To hear her tell it, the order was under other papers.

        1. As Close As Breakfast

          Wow. That definitely takes it from *possibly* casually seeing it on her desk to purposefully riffling through her desk. That’s a whole other level of not okay.

    6. Icontroltherobots

      man, your office has a serious case of boundary issues. I think the next time your boss is in the office you need to have some conversations around respect and acting like a grown up.

      I mean I’m not surprised co-worker is snooping and just doing whatever he wants when you have an 80 year-old man shouting “I’m Old!” to get his way/be sexist/jerky

      1. What's with today, today?

        You definitely need to be able to handle a semi-crazy, no boundaries workplace to be here. It’s funny though, most of have been here for a decade or more (only junior employee has been less than 5 years), and I will never leave. It’s actually a pretty great place to work. I like to vent on AAM, but I truly do love this place. That said, I do wish the sexist old co-worker would retire.

          1. What’s with today, today?

            You know, I’m not sure I’ve seen this. I always imagine a country/talk version of WKRP in Cincinnati (though I’m younger than that show). I’m going to check out NewsRadio. Thank you!

            1. Marthooh

              Now I’m imagining an 80-year-old Herb Tarlek, wearing his white belt and shoes combo, creeping around the office and annoying all the women he meets.

    7. submerged tenths

      YMMV, but my work also involves production orders on people’s desks. Sometimes it IS necessary, for me to do MY job, to pick up an unfinished order from the desk of someone who is at lunch, in a meeting, or off that day/hour. I always leave a note to let them know I have the document, and when I finish what I need it for, I return it. Haven’t had a problem in 20 years.

      But – it sounds like your production manager is pretty unclear about where the boundaries in your office are. I think he needed the chewing-out, and hope that he got the message!

    8. SarahKay

      Wow, your nosy co-worker is seriously rude. Okay, he’s not going through people’s phones, but even bending over to read a just-arrived text strikes me as wildly intrusive. I didn’t even do that on my boyfriend’s phone; I sure wouldn’t do it on a co-workers’ phone!

  6. NonprofitBurnout

    Offered lower level position after interview: Thoughts?

    Earlier this week, I interviewed for a fundraising manager position with a four-person membership organization. The interview went well and ended with the CEO informing me that she planned to fill the position with someone who had more experience but wanted to know if I was open to considering another role.

    I sent a standard thank-you email and briefly referenced that I would be interested in learning more about the other position mentioned during the interview. A short few hours later, the CEO responded and asked to set up a phone call for 10 a.m. this morning. She began the call by stating that she and the team enjoyed meeting me but had secured a new team member for the fundraising vacancy but wanted to discuss an engagement position with me.

    Because the role is new and was not originally budgeted, it would start out as part-time and serve as an assistant of sorts to another staff member. I am happy to have made a positive impression but am somewhat disappointed by the offer of a part-time lower level position, especially considering I have nine years of experience in the field and five years in another.

    The CEO is in process of writing up a job description and will send it to me early next week. I am likely to accept it and continue my job search.

    AAM Community, what are your thoughts? Has anyone encountered a similar situation in their respective job searches?

    Thanks for taking time to read this!

    1. Not So NewReader

      I think this requires a lot of internal strength to accept the lesser job. For me, I would have to decide to give it my 200%. If I could not find it in me to run at it in that manner then I would not be able to take the job.
      If you need the income, then take the job. But I have gotten caught in the trap of taking a job just to tie me over and that is NOT what happened next. The job was toxic and it ate up my insides. I had to quit in order to stay on track looking for a FT time. I concluded that I had made my life harder than need be.

    2. anonymoushiker

      Are you currently employed? What would be the benefit to taking the role right now? How would you carve out time to continue your search?

      1. NonprofitBurnout

        Anonymoushiker, as I clearly stated in my original post, I am currently unemployed and actively job hunting.

        Thanks for your comment!

        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          FWIW, I don’t think you stated that as clearly as you think.

          That being said, if you are interested in this organization and the work they are doing, I don’t see the harm in accepting the position.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale

          I read your post a few times and missed it too. Thank you for adding that information, but be aware that this came off as if you were chastising anonymoushiker a bit.

        3. EditorInChief

          I read your post too and it is not clear that you are currently unemployed. Depending on the state of my finances I would probably take the job and keep looking for a full time position.

        4. KE

          I don’t see where you list that you’re unemployed in your original post, just that you’re actively job searching? Did I miss something?

        5. Dragoning

          I’m uncertain what you’re referring to–that information is nowhere in your post, and I was about to ask the same questions.

        6. submerged tenths

          I didn’t get that you were currently unemployed, only that you were job-searching. Different things.

        7. marmalade

          You didn’t state that you were unemployed … I’ve just reread your post a few times and I still don’t see where you said that, clearly or otherwise.

    3. ycat

      Definitely a gamble long-term. If I were you, I would evaluate the position based on whether you are willing to stay there 1-2 years or more.. Unfortunately there are way too many cases where promises for growth just don’t pan out no matter how successful you are in the initial position.

    4. Camellia

      It is hard being a brand new person, walking in to a brand new (to the company) position. My daughter did this and it was a nightmare. She interviewed for one position but ‘impressed them so much they wanted to create a position just for her’ instead of giving her the one she applied for. That got her all excited and she felt so appreciated that she accepted. Even though they gave her the new job description, since the position was new, no one was really sure exactly what it should do, the owner kept changing his mind about what it should do, and so forth. She gritted her teeth and stuck it out for a little over a year before moving on.

      1. Julia

        That explains so much about my last job being such a disaster. Every task no one else wanted to do ended up as mine, because hey, maybe that’s what they hired me for!

      1. NonprofitBurnout

        Commentators:

        Thank you for your feedback! I must say that I’m seeing a lot more negative responses than I expected.

        Basically, here’s the situation:

        **Since March, I have had 20 interviews and gotten to the final spot five times.
        **Because of money, scheduling, or other factors, none of the jobs have worked.
        **I currently am eating into my accounts and don’t have unemployment or other income.
        **The lower-level position I was offered is part-time contract, and the CEO is open to my having another job
        and leaving for something better down the line.

        Given that I haven’t yet seen a job description, I don’t know how I feel about accepting the role. I am leaning toward yes because of finances and having something new on my resume.

        Again, I appreciate your comments. I just wish less focused on toxic workplaces. Does anyone have a happy or neutral story about accepting another position?

        1. Doug Judy

          I don’t think people are being negative, it just wasn’t anywhere in your OP that you were unemployed, just that you would continue your job search. Plenty of employed people are looking for work and continue to look if they job they interviewed for isn’t ideal. People asked for clarification because it was needed to give good advice.

          As long as they know you will continue looking for a full time position if you take this one, I say go for it.

        2. ZuZu

          I think people are just sharing their experiences which unfortunately have not always been good.

          To me, the role being contract makes a difference. I think it is fine to accept the position with the expectation that you are still job searching and would put in notice should you receive an offer for a full-time position at the level you are looking for.

          FWIW, I once interviewed at a company that then cut the budget for the role. They offered me a lower-level position ($30k less a year) which I turned down. Three months later, when a more suitable position became open, they reached back out to me, and I was hired. I worked there for three years, and increased my pay by more than 30% during that time. So there are happy endings out there!

        3. Overalls

          I hate to state the obvious but if in 7 months you have been full time job searching and only had 20 interviews and not been offered or taken any position it’s time to re-evaluate what you are doing. Either you are not as qualified as you think for the title and pay you need/want or like your statement of being unemployed above you are not coming across clearly. Either way if you’re out of finances with no immediate prospects and it’s coming on a year unemployed you need to take the job and work it like a FT job to prove you’re worth and potentially turn it into a full time gig. Also when you put negativity out there you pull it back to you.

          1. Zillah

            I think that this is highly dependent on how many apps the OP has been able to get out and how many positions are in their area.

            1. Overalls

              I would agree if the op was still working, but with no job that’s roughly 3 applications a month. That is less than one application a week, At that point the consideration has to be made that either a change in career paths/resume change or change in location need to happen. Especially when the op is dependent on a paycheck.

              1. Emily K

                She has had an average of three *interviews* a month, not three applications. In my experience in DC nonprofits, that’s a pretty good track record. Most applications do not lead to interviews. Making it to the interview stage that many times is a pretty good indicator that she’s aiming more or less in the right direction. And on top of that, she was a final contender for 5 of them, which is further evidence that she’s on the level.

                The last time I was actively searching the nonprofit job market in DC I sent out 16 applications over the course of about 6 weeks, which led to 4 interviews. 3 of them chose someone else and 1 made an offer, which I accepted. I think we can assume that 20 interviews means something more like 100 applications were filed.

                1. Zillah

                  Yeah, this is kind of what I was getting at. If you’re in a competitive area with a lot of high quality applicants, it’s not necessarily that you’re setting your sights too high – you might just have not gotten lucky.

        4. submerged tenths

          As others have said, why not go for it? You have nothing else going on except the job search, and it is possible this P/T contract could become F/T and fabulous. You’ll be making at least some money and should have time to continue looking. Give “yes” a chance and see where it leads!

        5. Falling Diphthong

          The CEO is open to my having another job and leaving for something better down the line.

          Based on this, plus your current finances, I would likely take it–it offers money and relevant networking contacts, two things you could use. If you were quitting a full-time job to take it (and like many, that’s how I read your original post) then I wouldn’t advise taking part-time when you need full-time. But right now you need something that pays, ideally in your field, and this fits those criteria.

          “Creating a post for” is something I’ve heard of going well or poorly, due in large part to how good the company is at figuring out how to fit you and the org together. Camellia’s caution is a wise one–but if you are going into this with the view that it’s a short-time bridge to full-time here or full-time elsewhere, rather than a sign of their true love, you have less emotionally invested.

        6. Overeducated

          Given that added context, if the job description seems reasonable or the CEO is open to revising it to match your strengths, why not do it? I commented below mentioning turning down a job that was a lower level offer requiring a move – I wound up working part time and on contracts for the following year waiting for a good enough full time offer. And those part time and contract jobs were fine, they were not toxic workplaces, they added to my resume, and my supervisors were neither surprised nor upset when I left.

    5. Auntie Social

      I would do it, because you’re creating a new position so it can play to your strengths and your experience. I’d bet pretty soon you’d be full time and indispensable.

      1. NonprofitBurnout

        Auntie Social, thank you for the kind and uplifting response!

        I truly appreciate the kind words and positive outlook. The job hunt greatly reduced my confidence and stressed my bank account. I am eager to have a constructive and paid way to spend my time.

        Again, much obliged for the comment!

        1. A tester, not a developer

          One of the great things about posting to a forum like this is that it can really help you clarify your own thoughts on the subject. The fact that you are so keen to disregard the negative stories and focus on the encouragement makes me think that you actually want to take the offer. In which case, go for it!

    6. Zillah

      I would do it. I can understand your disappointment, but I think that this is really a win/win.

      You could well end up having a fair amount of flexibility in this new role, since they’re making it specifically for you – if that ends up being the case, you’ll have a good opportunity to really shine. If it turns into a FT position, great – but if it doesn’t, at least you’ll have some income for the moment, current employment, and be in a position to build up a network/new references if they’re aware you’re still looking for FT work.

      1. NonprofitBurnout

        Zillah, I appreciate your nuanced response.

        Yes, I am disappointed and am continuing to weigh all my options. Your optimistic view summarizes what I’m thinking at the moment. The money and new projects would be a positive as would having time to seek out and interview for other positions.

        Great comment, Zillah!

    7. StellaBella

      Hi, here are some of my thoughts, for what they may be worth:
      -Get the job description and a contract to read before agreeing to anything. You will be an assistant to the person who’s now got the job you wanted/interviewed for – a fundraising manager role – or to one of the other four people? If to the fundraising manger, this may be an issue – what if you question all they do, how they do it, and that you could do it better? Hmmm. If reporting to another person – can you interview with that person for this new role in more depth ? Have you only met that person or did they participate in depth in your interviews? (You do say in your interviews you met the four person team, so assume of with all the folks?). So – get more clarity first – who/what/duties list/terms of contract – read these first and discuss with the person who would be your new manager.
      -How long is this part time contract in terms of months, and is it part-time? Say it is 50%, are you good at setting your time to say, leave at 12 noon each day (to work only 50% and not be taken advantage of, roped into more work?)
      -If they have hired a new fundraising manager in this 4 person org, how much budget, and exactly where will that budget come from, for your new part-time role? Is the org’s funding stream part of a longer-term, multi-year grant/agreement? If so, is it possible the org can actually hire a person part-time, and fund them, and raise more fund in the time of that contract to gain more funds to make that part-time work full-time, in case it does work out and you like it? You’ve said it was not originally budgeted – where is the funding coming from – and how long is that funding viable to be used for your role? What kinds of donors do they have? Multiple donors? One framework donor? Government or private or individuals or others?
      -Clarify the terms of the contract – if after 3 months, say, you have done a great job, learned the ropes, like the team, and there is budget to lock in a longer contract, can you ask at that point for full-time or do you have to take a 6-month contract? Just be clear how long the probationary period is, and if this may impact your contract.
      -You also said you have 14 years of work experience – 9 in this field – maybe not 9 years tho as a fundraising manager….and you have said you are Ok to accept a role as an assistant to another person (who I think, is not a fundraising manager?) Why do you want to be an assistant to another team member, when you wanted to be a manager of fundraising?
      -What is so appealing about the org that you’d do this? Are they (CEO and other 3 folks) well-connected? What benefits would you get if you took the role, in the long-term – is it a well-respected org that could grow and provide you with a good path? If so, then may be a good choice.
      -Finally, I have had one friend experience something a bit similar once, about 5 years ago. She was brought in to be interviewed for a higher management of finance role – and in the interview the director told her she was interviewing for an assistant role. In the interview. My friend asked for clarification, saw the job description, asked if there was confusion….there was not. She excused her self and turned down the org outright. She knew her worth and would not be bait-and-switched like that.

      So overall I think you need to get more info, evaluate if it works for you, and if so, try it out, and see how the org works. If you are there 3 months, and it is great, then yay! But I’d ask a lot of questions about their growth plans too – because spur of the moment decisions to make a new part-time role, WITHOUT budget, in a non-profit, sends up some red flags for me about poor business planning. But then, as others have also said, some of us have been there, done that, and will steer clear of these red flags. Your mileage may vary. :)

      1. NonprofitBurnout

        StellaBella, thank you for asking the right questions! Since the phone call this morning, I have considered many of these queries and cannot fully form answers until I receive the job description and contract details.

        Once again, I appreciate your very thorough and thoughtful comment!

    8. Overeducated

      I have encountered that in the context of a job that would have required a pretty disruptive move, just after my spouse had been offered a new job locally. The difference between advertisement and offer turned me off sufficiently to justify turning it down since I was already pretty reluctant to make the move, but I’m not sure that was the right choice based on where I’ve ended up.

      I would do this in your case if the job is local and you are currently unemployed, and if you think you can convince yourself that the disappointment can be outweighed by the fact that the CEO liked you enough to create a position for you.

    9. marmalade

      If you have previously worked at a manager level, then this assistant-level position is a major step down, and I think you have to consider potential career consequences there.

    10. Nep

      I would do it. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. You’ll have time, money, experience, and potentially more contacts to help you find something better. It sounds like the CEO is very interested in you. I’d see how it plays out.

  7. eliza d

    My open office environment is getting to me. It’s been almost a year since my company moved locations and started in this custom built-out open office.

    We have a hot-desking setup but I’m usually able to sit at the same desk, which takes away the top level of stress. But it’s like the foam on beer, there’s so much more underneath that.

    My neighbors change every day. I’m surrounded by peoples’ coughing, chatting, and weird, loud, and smelly food. (One lady unloads her 3-4 containers of lunch at her desk every day. Another guy eats fistfuls of plain spinach and hard-boiled eggs. My office stocks snack-size bags of chips so there is always crinkling.) I can feel my desk neighbor throwing her phone on her desk or violently propping her elbows up. There are 3-4 people who wear very strong perfume/cologne and I smell them every day as they walk past me. The break room is often full of people and I feel like I can never escape them. Even in the bathroom I get stressed out, since we share the floor with a company full of chatty 20-somethings who I think were all the popular ones in school. There is no solitude.

    I arrive early so I can leave early and get the most silence I can but my office is filled with loud people who love to chat. I listen to music, white noise, rain sounds, but nothing can block everything out.

    Mondays and Fridays are the worst, since most of our talkative teapot people are in the office and we deal with a long and pointless all-hands meeting where the salespeople announce who they met with that week.

    I’m irritable and losing focus. I have headaches every single day. I hate saying hello to people and I can feel myself becoming angrier and grouchier with each day that passes. And combined with events in my personal life, I feel like just giving up on everything.

    I don’t know if there’s a solution and I don’t know how bad I should let it get before I start looking for other strategies to deal. There are a couple different options but I feel like if I take any of them (trying to find an empty single-person room of the rooms that are usually booked for teapot classes, attempting to negotiate working from home on a regular basis) I will be labeled “not a team player,” will lose my regular desk spot, and will become more socially isolated than I already am as an introvert at a company full of extroverts.

    I just needed to get out how I’m feeling. Thanks for letting me rant.

      1. NW Mossy

        I’d like to think that companies aren’t trying to help people innovate by prompting them to come up with increasingly elaborate and gory scenarios involving the inventor of hot-desking, but I dunno, maybe that’s a thing.

      2. eliza d

        The key word that they kept repeating was “collaboration.” Which, for us independent workers, was not a selling point.

    1. grey

      I was dealing with this – to the point that I’d be crying at my desk. My management solved the issue by letting me telework twice a week. I suspect that if that was an option that you would have approached it by now, but maybe not and would be worth checking into?

      1. eliza d

        I probably will look into it if I don’t see any improvement in my mood in the next couple of weeks. It makes me anxious because my manager doesn’t set strict boundaries around working from home but I hear a lot of secondhand rumors and judgement about when people WFH. And her manager is a butts-in-seats person so there’s a little bit of that as well.

      2. Anonymosity

        I read that as “my management let me teleport twice a week” and thought, wow what a great way to commute. LOL

    2. WellRed

      I am soo sympathetic on all the food noises, especially the crinkling plastic bags. Drives me batty (look up misophonia if you haven’t heard the term). Is there a WFH option for maybe one of the worst days? Can you use a bathroom on another floor (I actually do this on occassion).

    3. Project Manager

      Oh man. The thought of my company doing this terrifies me. Do you know if anyone else feels the same way? Maybe you’ll feel better if you reach out for alternatives with a group of people…

      1. AVP

        I know this doesn’t really exist and would be hard to implement but I just wish the Hot Desking crowd would take a hint from the Amtrak Quiet Car and make a “quiet section.”

    4. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      If you’re getting headaches and it’s affecting your general mental health, it’s already bad enough that you need to look for other strategies to deal. It’s unlikely that you are the ONLY introvert at a company of extroverts. Are there any others like you that you’ve noticed — neighbors that you haven’t had a hard time being around? Instead of being set on your regular desk spot (I do get why that is a comfort but it sounds like you need to prioritize distraction-free space higher), you could try finding a few coworkers whose temperament is similar to yours and try grouping together as much as possible. Maybe suggest that management designate a section of the open space as food-free or quiet zone — it won’t completely eliminate the noise or smell, but it could help push it a bit further away from your immediate space. Alison often suggests getting a group together to try and change a management policy.

    5. Friday

      “And combined with events in my personal life, I feel like just giving up on everything.”

      OP I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Yes, hot desking is annoying and open offices suck (my work just went to one) but it sounds like this is just one thing in what’s currently a pretty stressful time for you. If I were you, I’d probably ask to work from home as much as I can, and search for a new job. Hang in there and good luck.

    6. Ashlee

      Much sympathy to you. I don’t have a solution, just chiming in to let you know you are not the only one. Yesterday, the person who sits across the aisle from me had an hour conversation with multiple people standing in/around her cube about her recently filmed Jeopardy appearance. It was the 4th time this week it was discussed at length. I just got up, told my boss I needed to leave early and went home. I could not take another moment of it

      I hope you can band with other introverts (as suggested) and come up with a quiet corner and maybe WFH.

    7. Lumen

      I was just talking about open plan offices and hot desking with my grandboss and a senior coworker last night! Said senior coworker told us that she turned down a job once, despite the money, because they were an open-plan office. My grandboss said something about creative people liking that, but I mentioned that many of the most creative thinkers I know need time ALONE, in QUIET.

      My thought is that companies do this for three reasons:

      1) PR. It looks ‘fresh!’ or ‘new!’ or ‘different!’ (or insert a buzzword like ‘innovative’ or ‘collaborative’). It is marketing.

      2) Cost effectiveness (or rather: the temporary illusion of cost-effectiveness created by shortsighted strategies that have been proven failures). What’s a constant rate of turnover compared to being able to cram more people into a smaller leased office space? After all, we mustn’t let people work remotely! In 2018! *gasps, clutches pearls, falls over*

      3) Confusing ‘extroversion’ with ‘creativity’. That’s not to say extroverts aren’t creative; just to point out that these two traits are COMPLETELY UNRELATED. And since most companies forcing their employees to do this kind of crap don’t actually want creative thinkers on staff, it’s doubly pointless.

      I had a nightmare once that my current office went from cubes to open plan. In my nightmare, I quit on the spot. When I woke up, I wasn’t sure it was a dream because it was JUST THAT REALISTIC. Because I would absolutely update my resume and start looking the same day if they tried to do that.

      *shudder*

      1. eliza d

        In all the reasons that were given for this open office, cost was never once mentioned. Although everyone knows it is the number one reason. If they just came out and said “it is too expensive to build desk clusters/half-cubes/several small rooms” then it might be more understandable. But they insisted that no, “collaboration” was the number one reason to torture us.

        And the company founder/president/number 1 in charge straight-up said that individual productivity may go down but company productivity will go up. How? I don’t know. I guess it’s the same way that everyone can “do more with less” and how the creatives “work their magic.”

    8. Kathleen_A

      I work in a largish building that houses a non-profit (where I work) but also a much larger associated for-profit company.

      And the for-profit company just went all-out open concept over the past year and a half. I dread coming in some day soon to find out that the non-profit I work for is going to do the same thing. I have no idea how I’d handle it, but my guess would be “Not very well.” So I don’t have much advice for you, Eliza, but I have a *lot* of sympathy.

    9. Lucille2

      I hate hate hate open offices. Why is this the trend? The cons far outweigh the pros. I think even having high-walled cubicles is enough to cut the distractions significantly. But, no, we must do away with walls. It will become more manageable, but you will always have to work at focusing. I know that sounds kinda bleak. But here are some tips to help ease the frustration, even if only a little.

      1 – Noise cancelling headphones are essential. Get some big ones so it’s obvious. Headphones in the office are like headphones on a plane. It’s a signal to others that you are not approachable right now. Yes, some people ignore those signals, but many others get it and will ask if you have a minute before taking up your time.
      2 – Disengage from coworker banter. Seriously, don’t get sucked into the personal conversations and time wasting banter. It will kill your work momentum.
      3 – If it’s an option, when you need to buckle down and do some high-focus type work, find a conference room or work from home. Everyone does it. If your manager isn’t a fan of working from home, talk to them about some options for doing work where you need a quiet space.
      4 – Take conference calls away from your desk. People listen in (even unintentionally) and those on the call will hear the background noise. It’s distracting for everyone involved.
      5 – Talk to your coworkers about figuring out some strategies to deal with the new, disruptive environment. I promise you are not the only one who feels they cannot work in these conditions. You’ll adjust, and it will become more manageable, I promise.
      6 – Food smells? I’m open to suggestions on this as well. I may have been known to chew people out for microwaving fish in the break room. There is probably a better way to handle that.

    10. Mosby

      So sorry you are going through this OP. My office recently moved to hot desking and I can confirm that it’s the worst. It would be totally reasonable if you left your company over this; being happy in your work environment is important!

    11. StellaBella

      Hi,
      If you google these words exactly, ten recent articles including some actual scientific research, show why you are experiencing this. It is bad for your health and well-being.
      Google:
      hot desking and open offices bad for health
      I am not sure all 44Million articles that pop up will support this but a lot of them sure do. There is LOTS of evidence for the lack of focus issue.
      It’s stupid, it’s bad for health and well-being, it’s (in my opinion) some bad management in action. Good luck, I hope you can resolve it sometime soon and reclaim your health.

    12. marmalade

      Eating at your desk, apart from a cup of tea or a tiny snack, is so gross. I haaaaaate it when people eat meals, especially hot ones, at their desk. However, I know that battle is lost.

    13. Prof_Murph

      Highly recommend noise-cancelling headphones – the kind that cover the entire ear. I have Bose wireless with Bluetooth. I play white noise and combined with the noise cancelling, pretty much blocks out all stuff. Pricey but couldn’t recommend more highly.

    14. MJ

      The smell of hard-boiled eggs makes me vomit. But guess what smells worse than eggs for other people? That’s right – vomit. I regard it less of an annoyance to others and more as a superpower. :D

    15. TardyTardis

      Move into a single room. It’s not going to get better, and this situation will continue to irritate you more and more. Nobody wants you to be the person who shows up with an Uzi and an attitude. You will not be a team player when your annoyance is probably going to begin to show, if it hasn’t already. You don’t feel any comradeship with these other people anyway, despite being in the middle of them. You might end up liking them *better* if you can get your work done away from them. You are more likely to be an actual team player when you don’t hate everyone around you. Honestly.

  8. Zip Silver

    Mild annoyance: had an employee call out today and gave me an elaborate tale over the phone about how she accidentally ended up out of town after falling asleep in her friend’s car last night and her friend forgetting to drop her off in our town.

    Just call and tell me you’re sick. The more elaborate, the less believable.

    1. Snark

      Oh my god, right? “I’m not feeling well and will not be in today,” is really all I care to know. I’m not yer mom. I don’t care why you missed curfew.

    2. k.k

      I never know which way to go with that. I usually feel bad for taking sick days (which is silly but many of us have that ingrained) so I want to explain that it’s really an emergency or extreme case.

    3. Doug Judy

      Someone’s hungover.

      But yeah, people think they’re more believable the more details they give, but really it doesn’t help, at all.

      1. Free Meerkats

        The same temp who decided to fire up a doobie in front of the Air Police when Air Force One was landing behind us was late one day. His reason, “I got rear-ended by a transvestite in my girlfriend’s car on the way to work!” With a long, detailed description of said transvestite.

        While his girlfriend’s car did have some rear end damage, the long story wasn’t needed. Of course, after he left, if any of us were late, it was because we had been rear-ended.

        1. TardyTardis

          Oh, I have a better story. We had a couple of older teens who murdered someone in their backyard. They fled to Los Angeles, probably to hide with their aunt (though the cops already knew about her and were waiting, oops). So while they felt under pressure, they decided that they just *had* relax by smoking some dope–on the lawn of the state capitol building in Sacramento (prior to legalization). Probably not a good way to avoid police attention…

    4. Arya Snark

      All I need to know is that you aren’t coming in and maybe, if you’re really sick and/or it’s during a busy period, whether you think it will be for an extended period. That’s it, end of story.

    5. Er...Ec

      I think it sometimes depends.

      I had an employee call out starting with “this is a weird one” and it sure was. There was an escaped convict in her hometown area and the township was warning people not to go outside. I still have it saved because it makes me chuckle sometimes.

      But if you’re sick, for the love of god, please do not elaborate. I really really don’t want to know that you’ve “been stuck on the toilet all night with shit gushing out” of you. Yes that’s a direct quote and no I didn’t save that voicemail and try to forget I know that about the employee.

        1. Trout 'Waver

          Ugh. I had to specifically tell one of my reports not to give graphic details when calling out sick. And remind him. And remind him again.

          1. ceiswyn

            The self-certification forms we have in the UK always have a section for ‘details of illness’. I rather resent this, and occasionally choose to make them regret it.

      1. Elaine

        I had one employee provide *every* detail about their IUD insertion, both before and after. Why they needed it specifically, the procedure itself, the side effects, the pain, etc. Just…nooooo.

      2. bonkerballs

        I agree, if you’re sick just a simple not feeling well is fine. If you want to be a little more specific, I’m fine with that as long as we don’t cross into TMI territory (“looks like I caught that cold going around” “dealing with a migraine” “kid has the flu” etc).

        But when you’re calling out for something not illness related, I think it’s smart to give a real basic summary of the situation: “my apartment’s on fire” “flight got canceled, taking the next one” “can’t leave the house due to escaped convict.” Even with Zip Silver’s initial comment. If I was in that situation, I certainly wouldn’t call in sick. I would call in and say I got stuck out of town and I’m doing what I can to get back ASAP. Saying I’m sick just isn’t true and I think it looks way better to admit you ended up in a weird situation than to have people find out you weren’t sick and now feel suspicious of your truthfulness.

        1. Catherine

          When I lived in Florida in a second-floor apartment I had to call out of work because of an alligator. It was sunning itself at the bottom of the only staircase on the building and I did not value my retail job enough to try to jump over it and run for the car. Lucky I’d just gotten a camera phone so that I could prove it to my manager!

      3. curly sue

        My better half had a co-worker call in with ‘my apartment building is locked down by a SWAT team and I’m not allowed to leave.’ They checked the news, out of curiosity, and yup. (I think they were finally allowed out a couple of hours later.)

      4. TardyTardis

        We actually had that happen in our neighborhood (at one point, the individual fleeing the cops hid behind our shed, oh happy day…).

    6. anonymoushiker

      I haven’t had to deal with this, but yeah, definitely brevity is your friend here. I think a lot of people feel like they need to justify why they’re out/prove that it’s valid, when decent managers will trust that you are an adult and can judge when you can’t work or would infect others with your illness and should stay home. Further justifications indicate covering up rather than what they are intended to do.

      1. Akcipitrokulo

        I have had some managers that didn’t believe you without details (like the both ends one above). So it can get ingrained that you have to convince the manager that you’re not faking. Which, obviously, is a bad tactic in a lot of ways, but it can be a symptom of previous toxic job.

        1. A tester, not a developer

          My boss doesn’t want details, but our Occupational Health office does – in disturbing levels of detail. (Incoming TMI warning):

          I have inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s), and gave both my boss and Occupational Health a letter documenting that fact. Apparently that wasn’t enough for Occupational Health though. They wanted a list of ALL of my symptoms, and if each one of them is ‘noticeable’ to my co-workers. So I’m supposed to go and ask the 4 people that sit nearest to me, and anyone that I meet with on a regular basis, if my flatulence troubles them? If my occasional rush to the bathroom distracts them? If my waves of nausea make them sad?

          Ummm… no Janet, that is not a thing I will be doing. Working while chronically ill is difficult enough – I’m sure as hell not talking to my co-workers about the state of my fistula.

          1. What’s with today, today?

            I have Crohn’s too. I would be tempted to lost all of my most disgusting symptoms. My standard answer when people ask about Crohn’s symptoms is, “Yeah, go ahead and google that.”

            1. A tester, not a developer

              Each document I give them has been increasingly graphic. I’m seriously considering getting 11×14 glossies of my most recent scope printed up and sending them in an unmarked envelope.

              What’s really chapping my a$$ about the whole thing is that Occupational Health aren’t doctors, or even disability claims adjusters. They’re RNs who are supposed to help managers set up accommodations like special chairs or allowing people access to a quiet room if they are having a panic attack. Last time I saw them, the nurse actually had the gall to a) suggest that I’m not actually working on my work from home days, and b) that I could totally control my Crohn’s if I ate differently. It’s a good thing I wasn’t on prednisone at the time, or I’m sure I would have said “My GI suggests that I base my diet on the flesh of idiots”, and then bit her. :)

              1. valentine

                8×10 color, glossy photographs with a paragraph on the back of each one, explaining what each one was.

    7. Toads, Beetles, Bats

      I used to work in higher education, and even though I had a written policy – to which I frequently verbally referred – that you could miss class a few times with no penalty and I absolutely didn’t need to know the reason, students would send me the most graphic descriptions of ailments. And then smart phones came along and I got visuals, too. I can’t unsee this stuff, people! (Although the best was when I got a photo of the sign outside the Student Health Center. As though that proved something.)

      1. Falling Diphthong

        Okay, I’m enjoying visualizing the discussion with his friends in which they realized that this, THIS–the Student Health Center sign–would be what sealed the deal on the cover story.

        1. Lehigh

          I like to think that a friend was like, “I sent a picture of my vomit when I missed class!” and the student was like, “Well, that’s gross…but I guess if I have to send a pic…here’s where I am.”

    8. Bea

      I sometimes miss these ridiculously detailed stories. It’s been so long I’ve forgotten them but recall fabulous tales…then the other guys get to tell me what really happened. It’s usually “actually he was in the drunk tank.”

    9. LOL

      I work in an industry where people call out all the time with both believable and not so believable excuses. People go so far as to send in photos of car accidents – of cars that didn’t belong to them.

    10. KatieHR

      I monitor the absence hotline for 3 manufacturing plants. The stories I could tell you of the reasons people call out of work. And we tell them when they start that we don’t need to know your reasons for calling out just leave your name and department info and the info goes to their supervisor. I think my favorite one was a guy was calling out because he was getting locked up and he used his one call to call work. Oh the stories I could tell.

      1. Bored IT Guy

        I mean, in a way, that’s actually good, because at least it’s not a no-call no-show, and work doesn’t have to wonder where you are or do a wellness check.

        I probably would’ve used my phone call to call family or a lawyer, and then have them call work, but that’s just me.

    11. Dzhymm

      On the one hand, yeah, the more elaborate and carefully crafted the story the more likely it’s a snowjob.

      On the other hand, this person may have had a previous employer who grilled them mercilessly over any absence and required a doctor’s note that was notarized and signed by the Pope. Someone like that might very well rehearse their story in anticipation of the subsequent interrogation…

      1. Kat in VA

        I use this as a hallmark to determine truthfulness – are they attempting to convince me of a dubious story, or convey information factually? Convincing usually requires a lot of extraneous details, conveying generally sticks to basic facts.

        You start using the convince vs convey theory on a lot things – coworkers, bosses, political figures on TV, kids…

    12. What’s with today, today?

      I struggle with this. It’s because my Dad drilled into me growing up that if you weren’t throwing up or running fever you didn’t miss work or school. I still won’t leave the house if I’ve called in sick, because as Dad always said, “If you are too sick to work(go to school), you’re too sick to leave the house!”

      1. Tort-ally HareBrained

        I thought that was just me. I’ve convinced myself it is okay to go out for food briefly, but that I have to take it home. Funny the things that stick.

    13. Vat of Foxes

      Agreeing with a few others who have chimed in: I try to watch any communication that edges anywhere close to the TMI line, but having been subjected to several previous toxic/ableist bosses who don’t believe just an “I’m out sick today” and grill you, it’s really hard to edit my not great immune system’s latest failing correctly for current!boss’s preference.

    14. Decima Dewey

      I sympathize. We have a circulation assistant who has health issues. She also has a pattern of calling out at least once a week that everyone who answers the phone recognizes. If Monday was a holiday, she’ll call out on Tuesday. If it’s raining, Fergusina will call out. And every time she calls she provides elaborate explanations of what hurts, what she’s doing about it, promising to come in the next day. Often she’ll call out the next day as well, apologizing for doing so. I’ve told her that all I need to know is that she’s calling out, and what time she wants to use for the timesheet, but it doesn’t make any difference.

    15. The Person from the Resume

      But she clearly wasn’t sick. She can’t take a sick day for that excuse. I’m also not clear why it wouldn’t be a late arrival to work since now that she’s awake she needs to get herself to work.

      Yeah, she was probably drunk. Frankly that story would annoy me. Lie to me with vague excuse. Don’t tell me something that going not a reasonable excuse to miss work on short notice.

    16. anon24

      I always use the wording “I’m sorry, I just don’t feel able to work today”.

      Could be cause I’m sick, maybe I need a mental health day, or maybe I just feel like playing hooky. I’ve never been questioned.

    17. Nervous Accountant

      Kind of late to this but we had an employee who called in sick. Subject of email was “feeling sick”…..well s and D are right next to each other on the keyboard and fat finger/autocorrect.. we laughed. We’re jmmature lol

  9. KayEss

    So a couple months ago I interviewed with a company that I would really, REALLY like to work with… the job is a good fit for my skills with some room to grow in directions I want to go, and they work with a kind of specialized client base that I have significant history and experience with. I did both a phone screen and an on-site interview with the hiring manager and the whole team, but ultimately they decided to go with another candidate. Okay, it happens! I moved on with my search.

    Flash forward to early this week, when I had a phone interview with a recruiter about a position they were trying to fill for a client that seemed like a good fit for me. Turns out, it’s the same position at the same company–apparently, the person they hired didn’t work out for some reason, and now they are looking again. The recruiter can’t put me forward for the position because I interviewed with the company within the past 12 months.

    I emailed the company’s HR director, who sent out the “we’ve decided to move forward with another candidate” email after the first round of hiring, indicating that I’m still very interested in the position. I have not heard back. I’m at my wits’ end about this, because I really need a job and I hate the idea of such a perfect fit slipping through my fingers because I didn’t do enough. Should I follow up again with the HR director? Email the hiring manager directly? Find another hiring channel and apply to the position again through it, with a cover letter explaining the situation? Just accept that this is them politely ghosting rather than saying outright that I suck? Help!

    1. Doug Judy

      Ugh, this exact thing happened to me once. Everything went well, wasn’t selected but was told they really liked me and the person in HR even asked if she could keep me in mind for future openings. Recruiter called me a few months later, and it was the same job. I reached out the the HR contact, and said “I heard that this position is open again. I know I was not selected the last time, but I would be very interested in being considered again” She responded to go ahead an reapply, so I did. I got a generic rejection two days latter. I’m not sure what the deal was and it was very hard to not take personally. Eventually I got over it but it did sting a bit.

      Unfortunately I would cross them off the list. And maybe see it as a sign they aren’t a company you’d want to work for.

    2. hambone

      If you have the hiring manager’s email, I would reach out directly! Things fall through the cracks, and the hiring manager would have a better idea of if they would reconsider you than the HR person – after all, the HR person would be checking with them to see if they’re interested in re-opening the door.

      I don’t know if this helps, but this is what I sent an HR person in a similar situation (I had emailed the HR person, didn’t hear back, and this was my follow-up. If I hadn’t heard back I was going to move on to the hiring manager.)

      Hello person,

      I wanted to touch base after the long weekend. I met with Hiring Manager to interview for the Super Relevant Position role in June and completed the take-home assessment. After learning more about the company and the position, I’m still very interested in the role, which I see is again open on the website.

      Could you let me know if the team would be open reconsidering my application?

      I’ve attached my resume here for reference. Please let me know if you need anything else.

      Thanks,
      hambone

      1. Falling Diphthong

        Something like this. Don’t complain or blame anyone for not contacting you, which is where these things often go astray. If they don’t respond, don’t send more follow-ups. But this gives the HM a chance to say “Kay… Kay… Oh, she’s still available? Good!”

    3. Jadelyn

      If you’ve got contact info for the hiring manager, I’d reach out to them directly. Depending on the size of the company and how involved in recruiting their HR gets, the HR director may have anywhere from half a dozen to several dozen other positions open right now and it’s easy to lose track of a single reapply in the middle of that. The hiring manager, on the other hand, has actually met you and talked to you in-person, so there’s a better chance they’ll remember you.

      Caveat: reach out only once more. More than that, at this point, would feel like pestering to me.

      1. KayEss

        Oh, I would definitely not initiate any contact beyond that! I will probably reach out to the hiring manager Monday or Tuesday (at least one full week after I contacted their HR, I have to check when I sent the email), and then let it lie.

        I was hesitant on contacting him directly because when I reached out to him several weeks after my interview to see where they were in the process, he came across as kind of put out about it… but I don’t know how much of that was him having a not very warm personality/communication style and my general anxiety about being a nuisance/annoying when communicating with people, versus him being genuinely annoyed by what I thought was a pretty standard thing to do.

    4. Lucille2

      Like others have said, contacting the hiring manager directly may be your best option since recruiters are often a bit disconnected. Do you have an idea why the previous hire didn’t work out? It may not be a red flag, but worth asking about. If you know anyone at the company who has some inside info, ask around. Or, if you are interviewed for the position again, it’s ok to ask why the position is available again.

  10. Working after multiple sclerosis diagnosis

    My relative was diagnosed with MS recently. I’m looking for advice how she should approach her immediate boss; what information does she need to disclose? What should she say? Should it be written or can it be verbal?

    We were thinking she can state that she was recently diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and she would like to request flexible hours (come in early, leave early) so she can start her physical and speech therapies. Am I right in thinking this way?

    She works in a different state from the corporate location; does she need to inform the corporate HR when she informs her immediate boss for this accommodation?

    She is not sure how much to share with the company. Her job involves training others (presentations) 2-3 days a week (for 2-4 hours each), some field observations (walking) a couple of days a week (for 2-3 hours each) and computer work at her desk everyday.

    If someone with similar experience can share any bits of guidance and information, that will be greatly appreciated it. Thank you so much.

    1. bdg

      I think a lot depends on her relationship with her supervisor. I’m very close to my supervisor, so I’d tell her everything. But I’d start with something like, “I wanted to let you know that I’ve been recently diagnosed with MS. It looks like I may just need a little flexibility with my hours to accommodate some therapy, but of course that may change in the future. What should my next steps be?”

      Supervisor should be able to tell her if there’s anyone else she needs to contact, if she needs something in writing, whatever. Companies have experience dealing with medical accommodations.

    2. Thoughts on disclosing illness/getting accommodations

      Not a lawyer, and obviously please double-check what I’ve stated here about legal requirements, but:
      – I believe 100% HR should be part of the conversation, not just the boss, since HR are the ones meant to be informed about federal law and state law about accommodations for illness. So they might be able to provide a bit more guidance than a boss would. I’m not sure if there is generally a protocol for who gets that info first–boss or HR.
      – She also does not have to disclose the illness type and my understanding is that if the organization pushed her to do so, it would be illegal. Rather, she can note that she has this ailment and that it means there are certain things she would like accommodations for–e.g. regular doctor’s appointments, whatever particular effects it may have on her work or things it might prevent her from doing at work, etc.
      – They may request medical documentation, which I believe is valid but does not/should not be her full medical records–more so, it is a doctor’s agreement that the accommodations being requested are in line with the needs of medical treatment/disease management.

      Hope this helps!

    3. AnneShirley

      I cannot speak to the documentation side, but I’m the child of someone with MS, so I wanted to offer a caution that MS presents very differently in many people. In my father’s case, he has relapsing-remitting MS, so while everyday accommodations are not required, each “relapse” can present with a different symptom that requires a different plan. (Eg: one month it may mean avoiding long walks; another relapse might require a week’s sick leave; another relapse might just require more temperature control in his office.) My point is that while no one should feel obligated to disclose private medical information, MS varies so much– and is so often misunderstood– that providing some information about her specific condition and needs might be necessary in this case. Best of luck.

      1. Lupin Lady

        “I wanted to offer a caution that MS presents very differently in many people”

        This is absolutely right. I also have a relative with MS, and yours will likely need to continually change what kind of accommodations they need to keep working. Many auto-immune conditions are like that, so my instinct would be to share they were “recently diagnosed with an auto-immune condition” and that they might need some accommodations like flexible scheduling or working from home in the future. You can always choose to share more information later, but she can’t take it back if she over-shared.

        Be sure to take care of yourself too OP. MS is really hard to predict and that can make the entire journey so much harder. Fortunately there’s lots of research being done, and medicines available now that weren’t available for those diagnosed 20 years ago.

      2. KMB213

        My mother has MS – it was relapsing remitting, but is now primary progressive.

        As others have said, a lot of what she should do will come down to have comfortable she feels around her boss.
        My mom’s MS has progressed to the point where she is now on disability and has been for years, but, when she was first diagnosed, it wasn’t *that* bad. (Even during her relapses, she could still do a lot; she just got tired more quickly and experienced muscle pain.) Because her MS didn’t seem bad to a lot of outside parties, people questioned if she actually had the disease. I think this attitude is, unfortunately, common with a lot of autoimmune diseases, particularly in younger (like, younger than 60) people. So, if your relative feels comfortable with her boss, she should share, but she should also be aware that MS can be an illness that many people are skeptical of – just something to keep in mind.

    4. Leslie

      My sister has MS. It’s been awhile since she was diagnosed, so my information may be out of date, but I believe there are two types of MS: one comes and goes, though it can still be progressive; the other is considered always present and progressive deterioration. She would get flare ups and then be ok; during those flare ups, she was considered to have a disability and could be covered by disability law. HR should probably be involved, if you want accommodations.

    5. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

      Here’s my advice as a manager.

      She can give her manager a heads up that she’s going to be talking to HR about potential accommodations for a medical condition. Then she should communicate directly with HR, who will walk them through the process.

      As a manager I don’t need or want to know any details or specifics from you (example employee) directly. If it’s something I will need to know our HR team will let me know. In fact I will likely cut you off if you start to tell me specifics about your health and refer you to HR.

      As a person, I would be curious and concerned, and most likely frustrated that I can’t be more direct help. But will find comfort knowing that I set you on the best path for successfully navigating this issue.

    6. NeverNicky

      I have MS – diagnosed in 2003. My condition is relatively benign – I have relapses but the level of disability is fairly low.

      However, I disclosed my condition fairly early on – partly for the protections the Equality Act offers and I needed time off for physio and tests.

      MS is an unpredictable condition so flagging that is important as accommodations may need to change over time – or even day to day.

      Whilst I have managed really well for most of my time with my current employer I have had a rough time recently. My employer has been very supportive but I think some of this is because they have got used to me, my condition and it’s not (for them) a scary unknown. They know I’m a good employee despite my condition so were willing to work with me through this tough time.

      Your relative may choose not to disclose until they need to – and that might work too. But good luck whatever they choose.

  11. Tilly

    I used the ethics hotline portal for the first time yesterday to report my boss screaming profanities about my coworker to someone on the phone. She was in her office with the door shut but it was so aggressive and hostile. (Said coworker was not at her desk to hear the rant.) It went on for at least 10 minutes, f-word at least 20+ times and it made our whole department uncomfortable. We share a floor with HR but of course none of them were anywhere to be found. After the rant, she came out and acted like everything was normal, which was kind of insane. It was terrible and not the first time.

    Our director is out this week but I think I’m going to mention it to her on Monday that I elevated it to the ethics hotline and maybe she’ll take it more serious than other incidents. The manager and the coworker she was badgering are such toxic people and used to be BFs but had a falling out and causing all sorts of drama. Trying to hang in there until I’m vested next spring to get a nice chunk of money and tuition reimbursement. Please hurry up April…

    1. Not a Real Giraffe

      In previous positions I’ve been in, our ethics hotline was meant for things like, “my boss is committing fraud” or “I think there’s a conflict of interest with this client account,” so I’m curious how the ethics hotline responded to your call?

      1. Tilly

        I debated if it was the right channel but figured if it’s not, that is their call to disregard. I thought it fell under our Code of Conduct’s workplace harassment clause under demeaning and disruptive behavior. I’ll find out in 2-3 business days.

      2. I'm A Little Teapot

        Internal auditor here. I’ve audited the hotlines. You’d be surprised at some of the weird stuff they get. Customers looking for the help number (you get a real person), etc. Generally, they log everything, even hangups, and forward it through the investigation process, whatever it looks like. I’ve seen cases where significant action was actually taken on a manager doing stuff like this – a good company knows it’s a big problem. If this is how they hear about it, cool.
        Also, typically hotline activity (very high level) is reported to the Board.

        1. Minxy

          I made a complaint (managerial misconduct, significant money loss, big stuff) but never heard back from the ethics line, no questions or anything. I only know it’s being looked into through former coworkers who have mentioned out of the ordinary visits by and meetings with upper management. Does the company ever come back and say the investigation was wrapped up (even if they can’t tell me the result)? Because if it wasn’t for former coworkers, I feel like I was just shouting into the void.

    2. MissDisplaced

      Maybe I’ll get blasted for this, but you manager was in her private office, with the door closed, and you reported her for a profanity laced conversation with someone she was on the phone with? Why?

      Is it unprofessional and toxic? Sure, but it wasn’t directed AT you (or anyone who was there). Technically, it’s not even a conversation you should be listening to. People get mad. People swear.
      Sorry, but I think you’re in the wrong for reporting this, at least in this manner. Not your circus, Not your monkeys.

      1. Lehigh

        But she was clearly audible through the closed door, which makes it no longer exactly private. A private office and door only help matters if you can contain your rage to something approximating normal speaking-voice levels.

      2. Mad Baggins

        Yeah but they shouldn’t get mad and swear at work. If the boss put her foot through her computer screen, would that be ok as long as it was behind a closed door and therefore not AT anyone? There are still standards for how to behave at work.

    3. Tilly

      The shouting was so loud and hostile, people texted me from three rows over asking what was happening – it reminded me of those workplace violence videos when someone loses it and snaps. She continuously screamed the f-word and called her direct report a bi***. People were scared to get up from their desks. She’s done this before but never as loud and directed at one person. So while I get it was a private convo with her wife, our offices don’t give the slightest illusion of privacy or of being soundproof and she was screaming. None of us wanted to be listening to the convo. It was scary and she was berating our team member.

      If the hotline wasn’t the right channel, they’ll disregard it. I’ve just never felt so uncomfortable and fearful at a job bc of someone coming unglued.

  12. ChachkisGalore

    Trying to get this in early to hopefully get some help on this.

    I’m responsible for training a new colleague who just started on some stuff (but I’m not his boss – we both report to the same manager). However the training isn’t going well. Anything I try to show him he pushes back on and sort of flips around and seems to try to be “schooling” me on the subject. Sidenote: he comes in with some specialized knowledge/experience that I don’t have, which is great (and I would like to learn from him once we’re settled in), but it’s generally not relevant to the stuff I’m showing him. If he wants to do things differently then how I do things, that’s cool – but a lot of what’s going on feels like subtle powerplays and the bottom line seems to be that he doesn’t trust that what I’m saying/explaining to him is accurate. Additional clarification: he’s not so much questioning my methods in an effort to understand them (which I highly encourage!), he’s actively making multiple suggestions or outright saying “no I think the next step should be x” (which again – if he wants to do things differently after he’s fully trained have at it, but it’s really frustrating/inappropriate for this be coming up the very first time I’m showing him something).

    I’ll put it out there bluntly – I think it’s at least somewhat a gender thing. He’s coming across (to me – a woman, also it’s a very aggressive/male dominated industry in general) as arrogant and mansplainy. Although – who knows. Maybe it’s just simply a personality clash or our my training style is a particular mismatch. Whatever the case – I can deal with it on a colleague level, but I’m not quite sure how to cover my butt in terms of the training aspect. I’m doing what I’ve been tasked to do – train him on stuff – but I don’t want it to reflect poorly on me if he ends up “poorly trained”.

    One other data point: I also have a (male) intern that I’m training and not having any of these issues with.

    Should I talk to our boss proactively to explain what’s going on? Or just hope for the best and address the issue if it does come up down the line? I’m just afraid he’s going to make mistakes down the line, our boss will catch them, but it will either be assumed that I didn’t train him properly or that colleague might even actively blame it on me – “oh well Chackis didn’t explain that to me”. Also – I’m not well established in the dept yet – only been here about 9mos, so that’s why I’m worried about how this situation will reflect on me. Actually now that I’m saying this – maybe this is contributing to the issue. Help? Please!

    1. Myrin

      I’d say definitely talk to your boss, both as a method to proactively cover your behind and to ask for advice on how he would like you to handle this!

      1. Monty and Millie's Mom

        I second this. Since you’re not having trouble with the intern, it’s pretty specific to this guy, and maybe he’s like this with everyone, but that’s not the point – the point is that he’s being this way specifically with you as you are trying to train him, which you are doing at your boss’s direction, so it’s always wise to keep the boss in the loop.

    2. Nita

      Hmmm. If he likes explaining so much, maybe turn the process around and ask him to explain back to you what you’ve just taught him! Let him do most of the talking if that makes him feel better, and then just step in to correct whatever he gets wrong.

      And if he insists on doing things differently, how big a deal is it? In my line of work, if you want to deviate from standard procedure you’ve got to check with the project manager first. Sometimes there are good reasons to do that, and sometimes there are better reasons not to – and a new employee likely would not know one way or the other. If it’s similar for his job, make sure he knows that he has got to clear any changes with the boss. Even if he’s got some unfortunate personality clash going on with you, maybe it doesn’t carry over to his relationship with the boss, and this advice will sink in for him.

      And whether or not training goes well, touching base with your boss is a good idea. They may need to know they should keep an eye on this guy to make sure he remembers what he’s been trained on, and doesn’t start messing up procedures because he’s trying to do them the old-job way or just not following instructions.

      1. Birch

        This is a good technique even for people who are genuinely just overexcited about learning something and try to jump ahead of your teaching. Give them the full rein for a minute, ask them to do the whole thing, then let them crash and burn and explain why what they were trying to do won’t work. Generally takes the wind out of their sails and convinces them to calm down enough to listen to you.

      2. Perse's Mom

        I kinda think this approach will result in him doubling down on the arrogance and may actively worsen his (in)ability to take feedback or corrections. He’s new – he needs to know how things work NOW and WHY they’re done that way before making changes to the process, but he’s not at all interested in learning or understanding those things, just in getting HIS way.

        1. Jadelyn

          I’m coming down on this side of things, too. Don’t give him free rein – he’ll abuse the hell out of it and take it as a sign that he can run roughshod over you and you’ll just roll over and let him (whether that’s true or not, that’s how he’ll read it). I’d suggest instead, when he starts, raise an eyebrow and wait for him to finish. Once he’s done, completely ignore what he said and continue where you left off as if he hadn’t spoken at all. If he tries to pursue his line of argument, something like “Yes, I heard what you said, and maybe that’s something to consider at a later date once you’ve had some time to settle into this role, but right now, we’re talking about the current process and I am going to keep us focused on that.”

      3. ChachkisGalore

        I have tried taking a more passive approach – letting him proceed until he hits a road block and only jumping in if he actively takes a wrong turn or when he turns to me and says “what next”. So then I tell him (“ok so next step is check A”) but he’ll straight up disagree with me and say something like “actually I think we should do y next” – and then I’m just like (to myself) why did you ask me if you don’t actually want my answer?

        I think you really hit the nail on the head in that he’s trying to do things the way he did at his last place! He comes from the same industry, but different specialty. I think the issue is that he doesn’t quite understand the distinction btwn the two (or maybe doesn’t understand that there is one).

        Also slight update: I talked it over with a trusted colleague. She’s going to listen in when we are training at his desk (she sits next to him). Then next week I have some other stuff going on so she’s going to work with him on some of the training to see if she has similar issues. I think it would be helpful to be more sure whether it is a personality/work style/training clash vs a gender thing.

        I am going to check in with the boss today or early next week. That sounds like the right move.

        1. Smarty Boots

          Maybe you are not being direct enough. So in your example he says “I think we should do Y” and your response is to think to yourself, then why did you ask me? Instead say to him out loud, no, Y is not correct. The next step is A.

          1. ChachkisGalore

            That is what I do actually. Though I’ve been trying to soften it a bit – my out loud response is more like “well Y only gives us part of the info, that’s why we do A instead – because A gives us the full set of info”. Then he goes “Well couldn’t you just do C instead? C is really the most effective way to blah blah blah and you know the history of C blah blah blah”. Then I explain how we make teapots which don’t produce C’s (he previously worked on coffeepots, which do produce C’s). Then he seemingly doesn’t hear me and says, “no, but C’s are really the best thing to use, blah blah blah”, and so and so forth.

            I do agree though that I need to be more direct and shut the multiple “suggestions” down (at least in the initial training on something). I was trying to give him space to work things out and answer his questions/respond in good faith, but I’m definitely going to use some of the suggested wording/scripts here to make it clear that I’m there to show him the current steps/processes NOW and without all the back and forth. Any suggestions or changes need to go to the boss.

    3. Not So NewReader

      I ‘d talk to the boss but I would also up my game plan with him, too. Tell the boss what you show here would be perfect, be sure to include the part about how he does not do this to your cohort.

      To him I would say things like, “I am responsible for you knowing that this company wants the procedure handled this way. If you need to change how you handle things you can do that LATER. We need to stay in current time and Right Now this is how we handle Xs.”

      OR

      “What we are doing here is I am showing you current company procedures. We are not re-writing how the company does things right now. We are JUST looking at how procedures are currently handled. We will get through this much quicker if we do not discuss how each procedure is handled incorrectly. I have X amount of material to cover and Y amount of time to do it. Let’s move on, shall we?”

      [With this last one make sure you land on your next step forward for the material right in front of you. If you end on any of the previous sentences you are leaving the conversation open for more debate/lecture/whatever. Land on a redirection of the conversation.]

    4. schnauzerfan

      I would definitely touch base with the boss. When I am training (often 2-7 people on similar, but not identical tasks) I keep a training log so I know what I’ve gone over with whom. So “showed process A” to Tom and Ann. “linked Bee to the hive video” etc. Then I make a little note about how the training was received. i.e. Ann had a few questions, but said A made sense and she finished the follow up exercises. Tom had no questions and missed more than half of the problems he attempted on the follow up… not finished with the exercise by eod. Bee viewed Hive video, says it was life changing…

      Then if there are questions later on we no the person was/was not trained on a given task, or may only need a refresher if they need to step into someone elses position.

      1. ChachkisGalore

        I like the idea of a log! I’m going to start making some notes on what we’ve covered so far. I have run into an issue where he’s claimed not to have seen something that I know I went over with him. I have no problem going over something a second or third time (it’s a LOT of info, so I understand sometimes it’s a bit of info overload), but it was a bit concerning to me that he specifically claimed not have seen it before.

    5. Camellia

      OMG, are you me? I had this exact problem, except he would come right out and say he didn’t believe me/trust me. (Side note: OldManager knew I trained well and I had trained eight people by this point. Unfortunately, OldManager left right when this happened.) When I went to NewManager, she just said I have to explain things better so he would understand. It never got better, even after his training was over and we were peers. I never figured out how to fix it/get him to stop. A couple of years later I was transferred to another project. Yay!

    6. Tara S.

      (This feels like it probably is a gender thing, which sucks, so sorry.) Can you try setting expectations with him for training? Something like “I know you’re coming in with experience in X, and that we may do things different here. I need to show you the basics of how we do things here, which may include stuff you already know. If you have suggestions for process improvements, that’s great, but you should let Boss know. I just need to get through the basics with you, normal part of on-boarding!” If he continues to challenge you on how to do things, brush him off with an “Ok. This is how we do it here, if you have improvement suggestions, you can let Boss know.” Hopefully this can help, if you let him know “feel superior all you want, telling me about this stuff isn’t going to change anything, so bother someone else with it!” Best of luck!!

    7. LCL

      My suggestion works for technical things, not so well for processes.
      Before each session, tell him ‘I want you to learn how to do this, and to do it, the way I show you. My way may not be the best way, but it works and it is the way we want it done. If you have a different idea, hold that thought. Next day/next break/whenever, write down your changes and we will go over them and see if we should incorporate any of them. We want to upgrade when needed, now is not the time.’ If he is capable of learning from you, this will help him focus and make clear what he is supposed to do. And he may have a better idea about a step in the process, this allows him to better explain it and makes him responsible for the changes. And if he is just hardheaded, you will find that out. Don’t mention this to the boss until you have done 1 training session with him and learned what kind of change advocate he is. Then talk to the boss.

      We have equipment here that dates from the 60’s. Sometimes the old way to do something is the best way, learned through bitter experience. Sometimes a fresh approach will lead to a better process, but careful analysis should be done first. Sometimes the equipment is relatively new and the new guys are more familiar with it and the new way is the better way. Everyone says there must be a better way to do things. Very few are willing to follow up with process analysis and writing up the new process.

    8. peachie

      UGH. I hate this kind of thing. Same thing happened to me in my last role (also a woman, also a very arrogant man [who was just out of college], but thankfully(?) in a majority-women office). He kept doing a process wrong because he thought I was making it unnecessarily difficult even though I explained on multiple occasions why he couldn’t do it that way and the problems it caused me specifically and the organization in general. It was a database interface and he kept just typing in the new information he wanted instead of linking it–think changing out the main contact for a vendor–so it would LOOK right but actually be linked to the wrong thing. It caused a ton of problems as it was almost impossible to tell when it had happened without individually spot-checking thousands of records, so things would get sent out, sometimes to very high-level clients, with the wrong information after they’d contacted us multiple times to change it. (He eventually got fired for making a different but equally huge mistake.)

      In my case, I talked to my boss about it and kept records of the detailed instructions I had sent him. It was very annoying but it never reflected poorly on me. That’s what I’d recommend–definitely talk to your boss, and if you haven’t, I’d make sure that you have written materials that are clear about the correct process. I’d try to frame it as “I’ve trained him but have noticed he’s making x mistake frequently; we talked about it, but I got pushback and noticed that it’s still happening” (rather than focusing too much on his attitude–his attitude is gross and it’s a definite problem, but I’d try first to focus on the work impact).

      1. ChachkisGalore

        Oh! I do have a ton of notes that I compiled into a manual of sorts for myself. I’m going to start emailing him the portions related to what we’re going over. Then I have some sort of documentation that I did provide him the full details at some point/in some way.

        I really hope it doesn’t come to that (and that’s why I wanted to ask here – to hopefully prevent a blow up down the line) but I’ll probably be way less stressed about if I feel like I have do have some sort of back up in case things do turn ugly.

    9. Lumen

      I’m just gonna say: it usually is a gender thing.

      I know, I know, we’re supposed to give as much benefit of the doubt as we can stomach even if we never get the same. I know, I know, we mustn’t seem shrill or shrewish or oversensitive (can’t give the sexists any more ammo, after all – being a woman and trying to be in the workforce is already 2 strikes). I know, I know, aren’t we really the sexist ones for thinking men are being sexist?

      But nine times out of ten when someone posts here and says they suspect some sexism or outright misogyny going on at work, they are. Absolutely. Correct.

      Unconscious bias is a real thing. Totally conscious but passive aggressive bias is a real thing. The gender pay gap is a real thing. But I have yet to see any evidence that the so-called ‘woman card’ (or the ‘race card’ or the ‘whatever card’) is a real thing, though.

      So yeah. It’s probably a gender thing. At least in part.

    10. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

      I’d be kind of blunt about things with your new coworker.

      “Bob, I know there are different ways to accomplish this task/process and I’m sure once you’re familiar with them you’ll be able to make the job your own and bring a fresh perspective. What I’m showing you right now is the way we currently do things. Once we’re done with the basics and the training, we’ll have plenty of time to evaluate and possibly change things, but first we need to get through the training bits” then just steamroll past the ‘no we should do it this way talk while you train’.

      As for being concerned about being thrown under the bus, make sure that you have some written instructions for things that you give him and retain copies of. Doesn’t have to be a 90 page document, but maybe a list of high level important tasks and deliverables. That way you have a bit of CYA with the added bonus of something to reference if he comes back looking for more help and a reference for him to use when he’s on his own… it’s a bit of a win-win-win situation.

      The other advice I have is to really evaluate what changes he’s suggesting. I’ve been trained by people who would have reacted shocked if I suggested, “Hey, instead of hand keying these numbers in, why don’t we just copy and paste them” and you would have thought I suggested we burn the office down while chanting the opening credits of Sesame Street.

      This may not be relevant, so disregard if not applicable.
      It can also be a bit intimidating to be training someone relatively soon after learning it yourself (I know I’d be a ‘by the book’ trainer if I new to learning it myself.) You may be a bit overly cautious in the direction you are giving him, and have a lower risk tolerance for deviation from what you know.

  13. anonymous for this - need career advice!!!!

    I need advice.

    How do get into consulting?

    I’ve been with the same job for 5 years (my first job out of college, which I graduated from 2 years ago). I’ve worked my way up pretty quickly in my small-ish organization. I know report directly to the VP of Operations and manage a team of my own. I really, really enjoy working in operations, and also managing people. I feel that I really have a skill in managing people – I genuinely like people, working with them, and working with them to improve (another big part of my job is development of sales employees). Things I don’t love about my job: hiring and training new people, having so MANY different responsibilities because it’s a small company and I can handle it, and dealing with our blowhard VP of sales.

    However, I’m really, really ready to move on from my job. It’s just time for something else. The idea of consulting (management consulting, which I know Allison does!) has always been attractive to me, but I’m not sure how to really get into it. I don’t even know anyone in the industry to try and talk to in an informational interview. I also feel like it’s probably cocky to think that I could coach people on managing while I’m so early in my career (I’ve been managing for about 3.5 years, and been working in operations for about 2 years. I’m 25 years old, for context.)

    Does anyone have any advice? Consulting isn’t the only career path I’m considering, however, I’m having difficulties finding positions in operations (operations manager, operations director) that I’m qualified for AND is the around the same as how I’m paid now. (I suspect at 57k on the east coast I might be overpaid?) The owner of the company has always promised to help me find a new job after this one, and we have a wonderful relationship, but I know she is counting on me staying with the company for another year, so I don’t really want to approach her.

    I know this is a lot. I just love this blog and community and was hoping someone might have some insight.

    1. J.B.

      I’d start off by just applying to management consulting firms. I don’t know that they’d be super into the informational interview, but plenty of firms need people a little above entry level. I don’t think they would hire you into supervising other people, but would have projects you could contribute to.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      I don’t have help to offer, but a quick semantics note that will be important as you talk with folks about what you’re considering: “management consulting” is a specific field that is separate from “providing consultation about management issues” (which is what Alison does and what you’re hoping to do).

      Companies like McKinsey & Co, Boston Consulting Group, Bain, and etc. are in the management consulting field. They do not focus on people management, but rather strategy and analysis about larger-scale questions (like: how should we structure this company to best take advantage of an emerging market trend?). These companies do the majority of their hiring through on-campus recruiting of undergrads and MBA students.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yes. It doesn’t sound like you’re at all interested in what’s generally known as “management consulting” (which is usually stuff like “how do we shave costs on our international procurement processes” or Victoria’s example about emerging market trends). If you did want to do that, you’d almost definitely need to get an MBA.

        But you sound like you’re interested in helping coach managers to manage better — a different thing. Unfortunately, you’re right that right now you don’t have the experience for it … but if it’s a goal you want to work toward, I’d aim to take on positions of increasingly senior management authority, which in time will set you up to do it.

        I actually hire people to do exactly this work for a client, and while there’s no “you must have exactly X years of experience” requirement, in general we’re hiring people who have at least 10 years of experience managing teams, including substantial experience managing at senior levels — a #1 or #2 or a head of a large department, where they were managing senior-ish folks and other managers.

        I hope that helps!

        1. NW Mossy

          Out of curiosity, Alison, do you see a lot of candidates looking to take something like this on as a second-act/semi-retirement situation after an executive career? I’ve considered the possibility of doing this sort of work when I reach that phase of my life (in about 20 years, so hardly immediate), but not sure if that seems wildly off-base.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Some, but not a ton. It would definitely be possible though. One thing to note is that you have to be okay with going back to individual contributor status (with all that entails, like not having people to delegate to). Not everyone wants that at that point in their career (and others love it).

        2. anonymous for this - need career advice!!!!

          That helps so much!! Thank you very much Alison! (and thanks for Victoria NonProfit for making that distinction!)

    3. Doug Judy

      Do you mean starting your own consulting business or joining a consulting firm?

      If it’s the first, I am not sure how successful you’ll be getting clients when it sounds like you don’t have wide range experience. You might be very good at what you do and love it, but having only worked for one company in one industry isn’t likely to be enough experience to jump right to management consulting.

      Joining an established consulting firm might be more plausible but will probably involve networking with those companies. A simple google search of “Management consultants in X city” should get you some results to at least know where and who they are. Some of them might have workshops or something you can attend to connect. But this is also a long term play. Keep looking for something else, because with either case, I really think you’re going to need more experience. The great news is that at 25 you are have a lot of time ahead of you to gain that experience.

    4. EEK! The Manager

      Ooh! I just explored getting into consulting. It ended up not being for me, since most consulting Jobs require lots of travel. The work seems SO interesting, though! I would start looking atajor consulting firms: Bridgespan for nonprofit, then Bain, McKinsey, etc. They usually recruit in cohorts and have extensive professional development and training. After a few years doing that, it would be much easier to transition into more freelance or specialized consulting.

    5. A Consultant

      I think you should start with researching the types of management consulting (functions / roles / services that are provided) that are out there and narrow in on what areas you are most interested in. That label is a pretty broad umbrella, as others have noted – from strategic planning to HR consulting to leadership development etc, etc, etc. Which space are you interested in? Or all/any of them? With that, research what firms are out their in that zone. Not just the biggies that others have mentioned, but the smaller firms and one-person shops, and what types of services they offer.

      I would advise you to try to get on staff at one of those firms. My preference would be for a smaller business, especially if you have dreams of having your own consultancy one day. You will learn the skills of being a consultant, the professional norms of this type of work, client management experience, and in a small company, you’ll likely get more of a peak at the business side of things. That is invaluable if you ultimately want to start your own firm.

      Given your status, I think it would be tough to get a solo practice off the ground. It doesn’t sound like you have the contacts to form a client base at this stage. It’s not impossible, but it would be tougher. Another option, if you can’t find a full-time job with a firm, is to offer your services as a freelance contractor to smaller shops for when they have overflow work. (Small shops often get into a “when it rains, it pours” state, without the long-term capacity to hire someone full-time, but in need of support NOW.) In this model, your prospective clients are the consulting firms, and you position your support role in its value to them. You get paid, they get help delivering work to their clients, and you get to learn by working with someone who’s been at it for longer.

    6. EA in CA

      Unfortunately, you lack the experience needed to coach managers, as Alison pointed out. Having one, short tenure as a manager isn’t going to give anyone confidence in your ability. People look to consultants as the subject matter expert in something they do not know. So you need to come with experience to back your credibility as a consultant. If this is a path you want to take, you need to diversify your management experience and to continue working your way up. You’re looking at investing at least +10 years in various management roles to look credible as a Management Coach. Also, take opportunities to get coaching yourself as your grow in your management career. There are lots of good workshops and programs offered by either consulting companies or even some colleges/universities as continuing education.

      As for the positions you are currently applying for (your examples were operations manager, operations director) you probably are competition with people with much more experience than you, especially in the director role. Stellar employees will typically rise quickly in smaller organizations because you offer the company a skill set that fills a gap for that company. In larger organizations, your career growth would potentially had been much slower. At least that’s what I have seen in my region.

    7. Tex

      You’re looking at a narrow field within the umbrella of management consulting in operations – usually called people management, change management, or human capital management. It usually involves HR decisions and operations procedures around mergers and acquisitions and large shifts of people from one organization to another. It’s definitely not one on one coaching and you will have to start at the bottom (analyst, maybe a senior analyst). If you’re interested in coaching people on management, you’re going to need a lot more experience before you can make that shift. However, a junior position at a high end recruiting agency (at VP to C-suite levels) might be a good place to land so you learn the business of what major companies are looking for and how to evaluate people for leadership roles.

    8. anonymous for this - need career advice!!!!

      This is late, but I’ve taken time to reflect on some of these responses and it really, really helps put things into perspective for me. Thank you all so much for contributing and sorry for the delayed “thanks”.

  14. Conversation Requesting Work from Home?

    I am new to my job and would like to request my boss let me work from home more often, on a set schedule. I’d like once a week or once every other week. The office is small and should be flexible – but, nobody else does this regularly. Any suggestions/tips for how to approach this?

    1. RachelTW

      I suggest start by asking your peers about work from home flexibility. Say something like, “Hey, I noticed that nobody seems to work from home regularly instead of only under special circumstances. Is there any sort of unwritten office policy about that?” They might tell you that working from home every once in a while is allowed, but people don’t get approved to do it on a regular basis.

  15. Persimmons

    Due to some reporting changes and my long-term plans, I’ve realized that it is in my best interest to begin sharing less info than I used to about my reasons for using PTO.

    My first chance to begin implementing this plan was this week, when I had oral surgery. What was supposed to be a minor procedure blew up into a trial that left me looking like I’d been punched in the face, and resulted in several days of slurring like a drunk.

    So…better luck next time, I guess! Anyone else doing damage control this week?

    1. Chaordic One

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. I guess you’re going through a “shit happens” kind of thing.

      I started coming down with a cold on Tuesday that has been getting better, then worse, then better. Last night I woke up freezing in the middle of the night, just shaking because I had chills. I got up and got extra blankets and went back to bed, then called in sick today. I feel like my employer probably didn’t believe me, calling in a Friday. I’m just going to get a lot of rest and maybe eat some chicken soup for now.

  16. ColorMeConfused

    Please help me interpret this email. I interviewed for a PT non-profit coordinator position. I sent a follow-up email the day after the interview and the Director responded the same day – they were part of the 4-person interview panel – with this,

    “Since we are changing the scope of the position we will need to develop the true scope of the position and structuring the position to achieve the needs of the organization and the positions supported. I appreciate the additional information related to your experience.”

    What do you think this means? I’m pretty savvy in non-profit; 20 yrs now and I’ve hired people, too but I’ll admit this one has me stumped? When did things change? Is there a position still?

    I could ask but I feel that it might be intrusive. I’m still looking for a job regardless of how this pans out.

    1. ColorMeConfused

      Follow-up email should be ** Thank you for the interview email. I didn’t follow-up inquiring about the position.

    2. kd

      To me, it sounds like they are putting the hiring on hold, but should probably state that clearly.

      I would ask if they are moving forward with the hiring process. I don’t feel that’s intrusive.

    3. Dr. Doll

      That is, um, the least informative sentence ever. I think it means, we changed our minds and we’ll get back to you maybe but don’t hold your breath. You can send a bland, “Terrific, looking forward to hearing from you when you are able.”

      As Alison is always recommending, write this one off and then be pleasantly surprised if they get back to you.

      1. Tara S.

        ^^ If it helps, I’ve gotten emails with this level of, uh, grammar, from super busy senior colleagues. I usually chalk it up to them dashing off a reply with reviewing it (sometimes it’s even text-to-speech, so super ramble-y), and just follow up later when hopefully they have more bandwidth. Dr. Doll’s response seems good your situation.

        1. Sloan Kittering

          My boss used to send me goobledygook like this from her phone, usually while she was in a cab to somewhere else. I tried to decode it if I could but usually just ended up shaking my head and checking back later :P

    4. Not So NewReader

      You said something that made them realize that they needed to be looking at other things also when considering this position.
      So now they have to go back and think about it.

      I had a kind of similar thing in the for-profit sector. I never heard back. My take on it was there was a person or persons who were not strong decision makers and/or were very narrow-sighted. Working there would be just more of this snippet I saw at the interviewing stage.

      In short: bullet dodged!

      1. ColorMeConfused

        So it’s me, not them (lol). I wondered if the Predictive Index that I had to take in order to interview had anything to do with it.

        When I asked how the position I was interviewing for was different than the admin assistant position, they said they were reorganizing. So there must be something in that; maybe they really didn’t know what they were looking for. As this is in the fundraising department, and they currently don’t have a director of fundraising, they may wait to hire the director who then has a role in hiring their coordinator. However they weren’t going to hire that person until next year.

    5. Jadelyn

      They’re reevaluating the way the position works, maybe who it reports to or what team it’s part of. Probably writing a new job description. This is probably involving multiple managers or executives who have to sign-off and who may have conflicting ideas of what they want, so…I’d say yes, there’s still a position, but they’re not ready to move forward with anyone at the moment, and when they are ready they may or may not reach back out to you or they might just post fresh for the new job description.

      Either way, I’d move on and assume it’s not going to pan out.

    6. ColorMeConfused

      Thanks everyone for your thoughts and suggestions.

      The department I was interviewing for had 3 people, but now has 1. They’re reorganizing (1) vacant position into the Coordinator role and they need to hire a Dept Director. The remaining role is filled. So it’s possible something from the interviews, or just mine, caused them to think differently about how they were going about things. It happens, I just don’t like unintelligible responses.

      It always seems the first one I apply for, after not applying for awhile, is always quirky and takes a sideways nosedive.

  17. soon-to-be-grad?

    Does anyone have any tips for how to identify whether a job will be a good fit for your skills when you’re applying?

    I’m submitting my PhD thesis next week (eep!) which has been a long and tough process to write, and I’ve pretty much been ignoring the whole concept of “afterwards” just to be able to get it done. I have no idea what I want to do next (apart from: not scientific research), and it feels like I have a lot of skills but basically no “real world” job experience

    1. Robin Q

      Based on your comment that you don’t want to do scientific research, I’m guessing you’re in a science PhD program. If you you should check out the myIDP website (link in reply) that’s made to ask science PhDs about their skills and what they want to do. It then suggests different career path options, including many outside of scientific research.

      1. Tara S.

        ^+1. I know lots of PhD who parlayed their skills into working in industry without too much trouble (they had the analytical skills, if not the experience with specific industries). Depending on what you did, lot of big companies that use tech (Comcast, Google, ect.) look for people with reasoning/logic skills.

    2. Captain Planet (nee Snark)

      Was in the same boat! Sure you do – analytical techniques, technical writing, lab and field techniques, your coursework.

      The way it worked out for me, I did my PhD work on invasive weeds and soil chemistry. Ended up parlaying that into natural and cultural resources management, environmental planning/NEPA, and some bits and bobs of water quality work. It’s not quite what I expected, but there’s a mostly straight line running between even undergrad and today.

    3. Scientist in the Wild

      So I did a PhD in experimental physics and two research postdocs, before moving into a non-research job for which I basically had none of the explicit skills I needed for the field I was moving to. I chose my trajectory based on the parts of research that I found personally interesting and to which I gravitated.

      So because I enjoyed giving tours of the lab and working with our publicist when we had interesting results, I looked at outreach-involved positions. Because I have a strong-ish writing background, I looked at jobs that involved writing about science. Because I have experience organizing small-scale events, I looked for organizational jobs. And I used every volunteer project I worked on outside the lab as a plus, both on my resume and in interviews. In the end, I was hired in my current role because my science background gave me the street cred to interact with scientists on their level, while my skills and ability to communicate them to my bosses gave them the confidence that I could pick up the rest.

      It helps to have an idea of what kinds of jobs are out there, so try to see if you can find a way to network with people who have your background, but are in jobs that sound more appealing to you than sitting and turning knobs all day, and then try to figure out how your skills could be like proto-experience for some of those jobs.

    4. J.B.

      What area? If you are in a health related field CROs are pretty big and need lots of people with data and presentation skills.

    5. Emily K

      I left academia for a completely non-academic career.

      Basically, I was just browsing entry-level positions in the city I was hoping to relocate to that sounded potentially interesting. I came across an entry-level nonprofit marketing role that consisted mostly of providing office support to remote fundraisers and producing fundraising analytic reports–basically stuff that anyone who had ever worked with spreadsheets could do, no marketing background required.

      I will never forget my initial reaction to reading the job description. It was: “I could do that.”

      My top two priorities were getting out of grad school and getting back to the city I missed, and I was really looking for any reasonable job that would facilitate that, so I applied. I got the job, and discovered after starting that I *loved* marketing. I eventually developed a focus in digital marketing and worked my way up to a really cool, fun job.

      I always like to tell people the story because today, I can’t imagine being in any other field. But I had no idea when I applied for that first job that I would really love the work as much as I did. It just sounded like something I could do that was better than what I was doing at the time (shlogging my way through a PhD program that was making me miserable).

      1. Emily K

        Oh, and my academic background was in sociology, in a very quantitative department, so in the interview for that first job I emphasized my analytical skills and comfort with data. In interviews since then for later jobs I’ve also always highlighted that my understanding of sociology/the social sciences primed me to understand things like choice architecture and decision science that are the foundation of data-driven marketing. Don’t expect employers to be able to make connections like that on their own–you should always spell out for them how your skills transfer even when it seems very obvious to you.

    6. The other April Ludgate

      I don’t have tips, I just want to CONGRATULATE YOU on nearly submitting your thesis. I am close to submitting mine too (within a month or so) with what’s essentially been a part time grad school for, by now, too many years. Best of luck with everything:)

      1. soon-to-be-grad?

        Thank you! I have to submit by Friday, but I’m down to the last bits of writing now – I can’t wait to be done. Best of luck to you for getting yours finished off!! :D

  18. k.k

    What should I say if I’m resigning for mental health reasons? I’ve been at a job for about 4 months that turned out to be a terrible fit. The biggest issue (among others) is that it’s 100% remote and that isn’t working for me. I have social anxiety so I thought it would be great, but it’s ended up being more enabling than helpful. I’ve become very isolated since I’m not forced to leave the house. It’s made my anxiety worse and is triggering a depressive episode like I haven’t had in years. I don’t want to get into all that with my boss when I quit, and I haven’t been there long enough to say the normal reasons for leaving. They’re also in crunch time for a big project and short handed so the timing sucks, but I can’t wait any longer. Is there a good generic excuse to quit? The company is generous with sick time and leave so I’m afraid if I cite health reasons theyll try to work out something, but taking a break wouldn’t solve any of my problems.

    1. ExcelJedi

      Can you vaguely say that the remote work isn’t working for you? I’m not sure how far you live from the office, but they may be willing to work with you on coming in a few days a week (or flying you out and having you stay local to them for a week or two while you wrap up what they need you do there).

      1. k.k

        Luckily they don’t have a physical office, everyone is remote. So no way they could offer I have me come in.

    2. Time for a gnu name

      You don’t have to explain anything when you quit unless you want to, so you can say as little as you wish. If I were in your shoes, I might say something about the work environment not being a good match in the long term. It’s true and there’s virtually nothing they can counter with. (Well, nothing that changes your stance, anyway.)

    3. DaniCalifornia

      I’ve done this and couldn’t give notice and had to explain. I was vague. I told them unfortunately today was my last day and that I was dealing with an immediate health issue and this is what was necessary. And nothing more.

    4. Not So NewReader

      The less words you use the better.

      “Working remotely is not working out the way I thought it would, therefore I am resigning. My last day will be two weeks from today. Thank you for the opportunity you gave me here.”

      That’s it. Two maybe three sentences.

      If they try to offer you something to make it work out, just say, “I am sorry. That is not going to work for me. Thank you just the same.”

    5. Bea

      Let them know due to personal reasons you are resigning. Do not go into detail. Do not mention your health.

      I hope you are doing better soon.

    6. atalanta0jess

      You do not need to give a reason at all. “I’m going to be leaving my position. I plan to work my notice period, and for my last day to be x.”

      It’s none of their beeswax.

      1. Kathleen_A

        It’s true that it isn’t the company’s business, but if I were in k.k.’s shoes, I would want to leave on as positive a note as possible. After all, the company hasn’t done anything wrong. Nobody has. It just didn’t work out.

        But a good employer would naturally want to know if there’s something wrong, so I think some sort of explanation would be a good idea. I like Bea’s “for personal reasons” a lot, and also Not So NewReader’s “working remotely isn’t working out.” Either of them will answer at least some of the company’s perfectly reasonable questions without violating k.k.’s privacy or encouraging even more questions.

        1. atalanta0jess

          Yeah, I hear that.

          I guess my main point is that KK doesn’t OWE them an explanation, and that you’re allowed to quit whenever for whatever reason. But yes, not-burning-bridges is valuable.

        2. k.k

          I think I’ll go with some combo like that. It’s a small world and while the timing of my leaving will probably singe some bridges I’d like to avoid torching them completely.

          1. atalanta0jess

            I think you can use “some personal stuff has come up” in a way that is very non-disclosing, and also very polite. Good luck!!

    7. Aly_b

      Remote work turning out to not be for you is a super normal reason to quit. You don’t have to and shouldn’t go into the very specific reasons it isn’t working out for you- it’s just that you had thought that working remotely would be great when you accepted the job, but have now realized that it’s not working out for you and that unfortunately you need to resign. If they’re 100% remote, they have definitely heard this before and it won’t be a huge surprise or issue. Mental health is stigmatized so I wouldn’t go into detail (and it’s more detail than they need regardless). But remote work often sucks for people so that alone should be a totally normal and accepted explanation.

    8. Lucille2

      I think it’s appropriate to say that full time telecommuting is not an arrangement that will work for you. Your boss may press a little on this, but keep in mind, it will probably be coming from a good place and an effort to retain you. I’ve managed telecommuters and have been one. It’s definitely not for everyone. I think your manager will be relieved you came to this conclusion early and on your own rather than having to manage a difficult situation.

      On the flip side, I did have a direct report who resigned after a few months and cited anxiety as the reason. I really felt bad that I didn’t have the opportunity to try to find a way to accommodate her before she resigned. I think there was a bad manager at the time who had driven a few people away, and this person decided it was best to cut her losses and leave before becoming too entrenched. But it’s possible there wasn’t much in my power that could be done to accommodate her needs. I appreciate her honesty, but wish we could have found a solution that didn’t involve her leaving.

    9. Gumby

      You know yourself the best, so if quitting is the answer, then it is. I’m throwing some questions out there just in case there is a way to stay.

      How much of the total problem is the working remotely aspect? If “I’ve become very isolated since I’m not forced to leave the house.” could be addressed, would the job work for you? Do you otherwise like the work? Could you set up a different structure that forced you to leave the house? Classes – either academic or recreational? Other groups that meet regularly in person? (I, personally, never exercise on my own but if I take a class I have near perfect attendance. So in order to get exercise I know I have to structure it via signing up for classes or at least showing up to enough at a gym class that the other regulars expect me. Knowing this doesn’t mean I’ve actually done it recently…)

      Again, I’m not trying to dissuade you from quitting if that is what is best for you. If that is the case, ignore me and go with the other excellent advice here.

    10. Alice

      I don’t discount at all your reasons for needing to quit for your health so this is just a “what if” idea not criticizing or telling you what to do….Is there any chance you could stay through the big project to help out the company and leave on really good terms by working outside the home even for a few hours each day? Could you go to a bookstore or coffee shop with a laptop? Just a thought so you could have a little activity around you but if it’s not possible in your role then you should definitely do what’s best for you to stay healthy.

  19. Toxic waste

    How do you deal with a coworker who is very competitive and very “tit for tat”? The woman that I work with always has to “out-do” me and even though she says that she “isn’t competitive”, she is! She always has to show that she is dominant.

    It’s annoying. We work together and have to interact, so unfortunately I have to deal with her. I’ve had it up to here with her shenanigans. She’s competitive both professionally and socially. I just want to be a team, but I don’t think that it will ever happen.

    Is there any way to deal with a person like this, while keeping your sanity? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    1. Colette

      Do you have to care that she’s competitive? How is it affecting you (other than that it’s annoying)?

      In other words, can you just note it in a “wow, that was really petty” way and not let it affect you?

    2. Not So NewReader

      A couple ideas:
      “Yep. You won again, Jane. Congrats.”

      Or

      “Jane, we are a team, not competitors. This isn’t a competition.”

      Or

      “Jane, I see you place a high value on competing with other people. I have the toughest competition there is: I have to be better today than I was yesterday. I have to beat yesterday’s me. And that is the toughest competition I have ever seen.”
      [I used this one a couple times and in both cases it shut the person right down. Basically, this can be read as “Go compete with YOURSELF.”]

      This last one, is a bit hard and you definitely need to keep it to yourself. Look around. What you are looking for are tasks that only one person can do and then the task is done. She can’t parallel what you just did because the task is over. Realize that she is just copying you, that is all she is doing, put yourself in places where she can’t copy you. See, these people sometimes have problems with coming up with original ideas. If they can use other people’s ideas they are fine. But left to find their own ideas they struggle (not always, but often enough).

    3. Lexi kate

      Making it a game for yourself to see what you can get crazy pants to do. I worked with a woman like this before and to stop myself and my other sane co-worker from stabbing her in the eye with a plastic spork we made it a game and would help to work her up nothing over the top. We would do things like implying I was faster and was going to get to the meeting first and watching her run across the hall and taking the stairs arriving sweaty and still out of breath when we arrived later because we stopped to get coffee. Or saying loudly I was skipping lunch to get more work done and then slipping out by crouching down so she didn’t see. It’s petty but at the time was the comedy we needed to deal with her.

      1. StellaBella

        OK – I literally LOL’ed at your line of …eye… spork – and wow. I kind of would like to work with you, but that’s because I hate these kinds of über competitive people. I have never done competitive sports, either. I do things to challenge myself, so the other comment above of “being better than I was yesterday” is so right on. What happened to your team, might I ask?

        1. Lexi kate

          Crazy took a management position and burned herself out working with interns. Honestly it was a little boring when she left, and we didn’t have a team goal. We still reminisce almost a year since she left of her craziness and the things we got her to do. She wasn’t a horrible person just very Dwight from the office, as a petite red head.

    4. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

      Oh boy, been there and done that. The best thing to do is ignore people like that. They are almost always looking for attention. Don’t give it to them. However, I will add this: Stay on top of your game as she is probably looking to show you up. Don’t give her the satisfaction.

    5. MLB

      Unless her being competitive is affecting your job performance, I would learn to ignore it. I know it’s easier said than done, because that would annoy me too, but she just wants attention and praise. Don’t give it to her.

    6. AdminX2

      Keep making your stories more ridiculous and see how long she keeps biting. “I taught my cat to say love you in spanish this weekend!” “I got the senator to come to my birthday last week.”

      Run with it.

    7. Lucille2

      Is it possible to disengage from her somehow? As long as her competition affects you somehow, she’s getting the attention she needs. If you’re not working directly with her on a project or requiring her input, just leave her out of the loop. If she overhears stuff and makes snarky comments, shrug it off. It’s an annoying behavior, but giving it attention just feeds it. Ignoring it will eventually disarm her.

  20. Elisabeth

    It is ALWAYS freezing in my office. Love my new job, love the location, beautiful building, and it is FREEZING ALWAYS.

    Any tips on how to handle this? Most buildings these days have serious regulations about space heaters and a lightweight cardigan is NOT doing the job. Currently, I’ve hidden my Uggs under my desk and keep the ugliest leopard print fleece at my desk because I’m desperate. But I’d really like to look a little but more professional!

    1. Murphy

      I feel you. I keep a hoodie and fingerless gloves at my desk (and have broken out both in the middle of summer). Obviously the hoodie doesn’t look professional, but I’m in a fairly casual office so as long as I don’t have a big meeting, I can get away with it.

      Can you use a heavier winter-weight cardigan? I’ve considered this, but it won’t necessarily go with everything, which is why I haven’t started keeping one at my desk.

      1. Doug Judy

        Finger-less gloves helped a lot when I was in FreezingOffice. Like others I had a small blanket I kept on my legs, and a really unflattering, but very warm heavier cardigan for those days that got super cold.

    2. ExcelJedi

      I know this pain. I have a fleece blanket that I wear on my lap sometimes (hidden beneath my desk).

      Honestly, I’d invest in some nicer fleeces and sweaters, and look up USB hand warmers. I’ve never been successful trying to get the temperature higher in an office.

    3. Nita

      I’ve got a heavy suit jacket that seems to help. Sometimes I’ll just bring it to the office and leave it there. And sometimes I give up on looking professional, and grab an oversized fleece because I’m tired of being freezing all the time. Funny, but it’s only cold right in my office. Other parts of the building are fine. I didn’t get around to it this summer, but at some point I’ll mention to HR that the AC needs re-balancing… they can pass the info along to building management.

    4. MechanicalPencil

      I use a heating pad. It turns itself off after a 2 hour time span, and I can just sit with it in my lap and alternate hands (admittedly, my mouse hand generally suffers more).

      1. Deryn

        I did the heating pad in the lap too! It works particularly well if you can lay a sweater/scarf/blanket/whatever over it and trap the heat inside.

        1. SarahKay

          Just about to say that. I have a heated mouse and I love it so much. It was expensive for a mouse at £25 (approx $32) but oh-so-worth it!
          I also have a microwavable ‘hot-water bottle’ – it’s actually grains in a fabric bag about 10″ x 7″ that I heat and have on my lap and that makes a big difference to my overall warmth.

      2. Tara S.

        ^This (I use mine for cramps, but it helps generally). Also, I bought my own heater for under my desk, and no one has brought it up. Sometimes you get push back, but I went for “ask forgiveness, not permission” with that particular problem.

    5. CTT

      Have you checked out the vent set-up around your office? I was always freezing in my old office until I realized there was one vent in my office and another directly outside the door. Just closing my door halfway helped a ton.

      1. Nanc

        Second checking the vent situation! I was in an office nearly under the vent and during January and February the AC would suddenly blast on. Turns out the thermostat was getting hit directly by sun at that time of year and thinking it was August! The solution was a new vent cover that could be closed part way and taping a piece of paper over the very expensive Smart Thermostat (oh technology!).

    6. Book Badger

      How dressy is your office? (And how hot is the weather when you’re not indoors?) If it’s cool enough outside that you can get away with it, I find layering tights – and in deep winter, fleece-lined tights – under skirts or even under pants is useful. You can also do plain long-sleeved tees under a heavier cardigan. My go-to is Walmart’s Faded Glory tees because they’re simple and dirt cheap.

      Also, fancy scarves are a great way of looking stylish while also keeping your neck warm until it’s cold enough outside that you can wear turtlenecks.

    7. Extra Vitamins

      I have a whole drawer full of cold-office gear at work. I finally bought a wool poncho. I wear both a sweater and the poncho, and it looks reasonable.

    8. Tara S.

      Being cold is the only reason I wore a lab coat at my research jobs. Didn’t need protection, I was just super cold! Also why I wore welding coats in the shop when not welding.

    9. Elisabeth

      Thank you all! If nothing else, at least I don’t feel alone anymore!

      My office is a weird blend of casual and business casual. Some people show up in hoodies and jeans and some people wear a tie. Small offices can have some real quirks sometimes. So I can get away with my fleece, it just doesn’t match my overall aesthetic very well.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

        If you can swing it. I suggest cashmere (you can find some good deals if you have time to look around online).

        I’ve become a wool snob… wool dress socks, wool or wool/cashmere blend sweaters, wool or silk under layers. It took awhile but I realized that acrylic or synthetic sweaters and cotton blend socks just do not cut it. Unfortunately that is about 99% of what you find in stores today for women’s work clothes.

        A couple of places to try for warm nice looking sweaters – woolovers dot com, soft surroundings dot com (I once scored 100% cashmere sweaters for $35 a piece on clearance), and winter silks dot com

        I think the biggest change was from the socks (darn tough and smart wool) I generally wear mary janes with long pants, so I’m ok with the sock/dress shoe combination that sometimes peaks out. But my biggest problem came from crappy carpet layed over concrete. It would suck the warmth out of my body from my feet. Once I got a small rug and started wearing wool and wool blend socks, things became a lot more comfortable.

      2. Could be Anyone

        Find a cuter fleece! Now that it’s pumpkin spice season, there are tons of heavy cardigans/ponchos/jackets in stores that are fine for most offices – especially if yours is more casual. I specifically buy cardigans (and blazers for when I need to suddenly be professional) of different weights and keep them in my office.

      3. Techworker

        Also potentially worth bringing it up with management? My company adjusted the aircon settings after they found all the women were constantly freezing..

    10. CheeryO

      I feel you. I use my heated mouse and wear a heavy cardigan year-round. If you get them in a few neutral colors without a lot of texture, they should more or less work with whatever you normally wear. Once in a while someone (almost always a dude) will say something snarky about me being bundled up on an 85 degree day, but whatever.

    11. Achoo!

      The building should have some kind of tenant handbook that should tell you what’s allowed heater-wise. Anything that you’re not sure would be okay with building management, unplug and put in a locked drawer at the end of the day if you can. If they’re super strict (no electric heating pads/blankets), microwavable heating pads are a-mazing.

    12. Namast'ay in Bed

      The best thing I’ve ever done to combat a freezing office is to get a heating pad and clip it to the back of my chair (so it sits between you and the chair, not behind the chair, in case that wasn’t obvious). A heating pad is low wattage enough that there’s no worries about fire hazards, they’re inexpensive (I got mine from the drugstore for like $20 tops), and you’d be amazed at what a difference it makes having heat from your shoulders to your lower back (def get a long one, not a square one)!

    13. peachie

      If you can find those sticky heat patches that can go directly on your skin (not all of them can, ask me how I know that), they’re great for chilly days! I initially used them sometimes for bad cramps, but the keeping-your-core-warm was a nice side effect, so I sometimes used them just for heat on particularly cold office days.

      1. Jaid_Diah

        I love Therma-Care patches. Drugstores have their own off brands, but not all of them stick as well to the skin. Be careful though, because sometimes the skin can get irritated by the glue or excess heat!

    14. twig

      blanket, finger-less gloves, work sweater, a scarf or shawl of some sort can be handy too. One of my coworkers used to have an electric throw blanket that she used year-round.

      Does your office actually regulate space heaters? look into this –also ask around about what others do.

      Technically, space heaters aren’t allowed in our building, but the HVAC is so poorly regulated that several of us have them anyway. Our building manager has looked right at my heater and ignored it.

    15. ZuZu

      Ugh my office is the same way! It drives me crazy. I’m also pretty new, so I don’t want to be seen lugging in a space heater. Scarves are my best defense. I love big pashminas because I can also use them as a wrap or lap blanket. I also make sure I get up and walk around, as the longer I sit still the colder I get.

    16. Windward

      A couple things I’ve done:
      Cashmere cardigans are your friend. Lightweight, look more polished than most, remarkably warm for the weight, & I’ve been been getting them from thrift shops for an average of $5. I keep one in a desk drawer. I have heavier wool cardigans to use when the cashmere isn’t enough.
      Wool or silk shawls & scarves can help, too.
      Leg warmers can make a huge difference. Under slacks, or long ones that can look like tights.
      Pet warming pads. Got them for the cats, & borrowed one for work. These are the kind that reflect your heat back to you, with a fuzzy surface. I sit on it, put it in my lap, or keep my stocking feet on it. Generally larger than a heating pad, & doesn’t need to be plugged in.
      Office temperatures & how people handle them can be just crazy

    17. Bea

      Have you actually been told no space heaters or are you assuming?

      We all have space heaters and strict protocol for checking for any left on when closing the office at night.

    18. MLB

      I’m always cold so I totally get it. In addition to what others are saying, look into thermals that you wear under your clothes. They’re not the old fashioned waffle thermals anymore. I got a pair at Target – they fit tightly to your body and add an extra layer of warmth.

      I keep a sweater on my chair, slippers, a blanket and USB fingerless gloves at my desk. I have used one or all at some point or another, both in the summer and winter. My boss makes fun of me because she’s always hot.

      1. Clare

        I started a new job recently and this building is freezing cold. So I’ve taken to drinking hot water pretty much all day long. I can’t drink too much of other hot beverages (coffee, tea), I’d probably have a heart attack with all that caffeine! But hot water keeps my hands warm and drinking it really does warm me up.

    19. Chaordic One

      I’ve seen where you can buy a heated keyboard and a heated mouse. You can google it. I don’t have any experience with such things, but they sound like they’d be a godsend in a situation like you’re describing.

    20. Yetanotherjennifer

      If you can afford it, get some silk long underwear. It’s really thin and lightweight and you’ll never notice it under your clothes. Outfitters like REI will carry it. I also like the brand Cuddleduds for synthetic. They have a tank top that has a scoop neck on one side and a V on the other so it hides under most tops. They also have a big fleece hooded sweater that is really ugly but so comfortable. I work from home and wear mine all the time.

    21. So Tired Always

      If you have your own office or sit in a relatively remote area, you might be able to ask the facilities team in your building to shut any vents near you. That could help with drafts. Similarly, if you sit near a window, cold air could be coming in that way (happened with me in an old office). Maybe if you have an old scarf or blanket you’d otherwise get rid of, you can sort of line it up across the bottom of the window to prevent drafts.

    22. Smarty Boots

      Get a space heater that turns off if it’s tipped over, keep it under the desk and out of sight when you’re in the office and put it away in a file cabinet (somewhere completely hidden and unplugged).

      The fire marshal spoke quite sternly to us and banned space heaters completely, and we all promised to take our space heaters home. And each space heater has its own file cabinet home…

    23. Sarah G

      I have an “electric warming throw,” which is just a small throw-sized electric blanket. I use it on my lap or sometime drape it over my chair and sit on it. It has auto shut-off after a certain amount of time. The exact one I bought (about $20) isn’t made any more, but it looks like you can still get something equivalent in the $20-$30 range if you shop around online.

    24. only acting normal

      I have some beautiful wool shawls that keep me warm and still look smart. Also a pashmina if a plainer style is your thing.
      I also have fingerless gloves, lots of themal underwear, and a hot-water-bottle for moments of real desperation (heaters and plug-in heat pads are not allowed).

    25. Hamburke

      My office got a new AC. Its a small office (3 of us) and we can change the thermostat if we want but as an office, we’ve decided 72 is Arctic and 73 doesn’t trip the AC enough so it’s humid… We’ve gone with 72 and sweaters.

      The person who had my desk last had a heating pad with an auto-off that she put on the chair.

      On a positive note, I love sweater season and broke out a sweater I bought last winter that was backordered and didn’t arrive until April!

    26. ronda

      I am more likely to be hot.

      have you tried exercise. If I am heating up myself that way I usually stay hot for a while.
      go up and down the stairs a few times.

      Is everyone cold? If so, getting the system fixed is neccassary.

  21. Lauren

    I mentioned this before: I work with another woman, “Vera”. It’s just the two if us in our department. There’s another woman, “Roxie” that comes in from another branch a couple times during the week. Vera and Roxie worked together at the other branch, but then Vera was moved.

    Whenever I take time off, Vera gets mad. She’s the type to never take any time off, unless it’s for a 1-2 week vacation and she’s rarely out sick.

    I prefer to take a long weekend or a couple days here and there. Vera gets mad and even though she doesn’t say anything about it, I feel the tension.

    My boss usually approves time off and is pretty chill about it, but I don’t like how Vera acts when I return from a long weekend. Roxie recently was out 2 days in a week, yet Vera said nothing. Maybe she used to and since I’m here, she’s taking things out on me. I just don’t understand why Vera acts like this towards me.

    Am I overthinking things here or is there a problem? What should I do/say? Can I tell Vera to take it up with the boss if she has a problem or just ignore it?

    1. Elisabeth

      Can you explain how you know she’s mad about it? If you take time off does Vera have to “pick up your slack”? I.e., double duty for the days you’re out?

    2. MLB

      Confront her about it. If she’s rude or cold to you after taking time off, call her on it. “Is there something I’ve done to upset you?” If she says no, say “I’ve noticed that when I come back from taking time off, you treat me differently, as if you’re upset with me.” Maybe that will open the door for her to vent her frustrations. If she’s upset because she has to do your work while you’re out, suggest she speak to the boss, because if your boss is approving your time, that’s a problem for them to solve. If she says nothing, let it go, and when it happens next time, talk to your boss about it. You’re not doing anything wrong. It’s not your problem that your co-worker doesn’t take time off.

  22. Detective Amy Santiago

    Not looking for advice as much as some humorous takes on this situation.

    There is a woman on my floor who talks to herself in the bathroom. It’s weird AF. You’re sitting there doing your business and all of a sudden, you hear this muttering. It’s especially creepy when there’s hardly anyone in there and it’s super quiet.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        That’s the thing – I have no idea. It’s just indistinct muttering. But it’s all the time.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe

      I would be so tempted to try to participate in the “conversation.”

      “Oh, I totally agree, Susan!”
      “What’s that, Susan? I missed the last part of what you said.”

    2. Queen of the File

      YES I have one of those too!! It’s sort of… self-coaching? I’m SO curious about whether or not she realizes she’s doing it.

    3. Bea

      Omfg I talk to myself frequently but this is OTT even for me lol. I stop myself from doing so in public places for fear of others hearing.

    4. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night

      We have one those! It’s just one of many “quirks” she has (she’s a close talker and also says blatantly rude things out of nowhere, even to upper management), and it’s definitely unsettling if you don’t know she’s in the next stall.

    5. On Fire

      Ha! I was in the restroom once, and a woman came in. A moment later I heard her talking … and then making sounds. I seriously thought she was having phone sex. I finished my business as fast as I could, but she came out of the stall while I was washing my hands. No phone in sight. Still have no idea what was going on (and really don’t want to), but to this day it’s one of my most “EWWWWWWWW” moments from that job.

    6. Oh dear.

      Do you work on my floor??? We have one of these, too. Except she doesn’t only talk to herself in the bathroom; she talks to herself everywhere.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        LOL it’s entirely possible. I have no idea if she does this other places. She works on the other side of the floor, so I only ever run into her in the bathroom.

    7. AdminX2

      This may the thing keeping that person sane rather than ripping someone’s head off the next time they ask her to get coffee. Or they may indeed have some atypical processing and they know the bathroom is the only semi private place they can work that out in when in public.

    8. Marion Ravenwood

      If you were in the UK I’d ask if you worked with me, because I have to admit I’ve done this before. I talk to myself occasionally anyway, and whilst I try not to do it at work occasionally a word or two will slip out, and it has happened in the ladies’ more than once. Believe me when I say that when you realise you’ve done it (even accidentally) it’s mortifying, and especially if you think someone overheard!

    9. Bluebell

      When I first moved to my current workplace it was a huge adjustment that we had clients who would take phone calls in the bathroom stalls, often in a foreign language. Now I’m just used to it.

    10. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      My husband does something like this, though it’s usually while he’s in the shower. If he’s thinking over a problem at work, especially what he wishes he could say to someone, he’ll often have an imaginary conversation, out loud. Sometimes he even does multiple voices!

    11. Jaid_Diah

      One lady at work has a multiple personality thing and I’ve heard her communicating with her “others”, occasionally. She seems a little slow sometimes, but I figure she’s run by committee and that’s gotta have an impact.

    1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)

      I’m really glad they disclosed the firm name. However, now everybody knows who got 30k.
      (BTW, the video was in auto play. I was definitely not ready)

  23. Not My Usual Name

    I’d appreciate some advice on getting over experiences working with a bad boss.

    At my last job we had a change of management. My original boss who I got on great with left and the guy who replaced him hated me. One thing he would do is write me up for asking questions and make me repeat the “obvious question” at our standup along with how long I’d worked there.

    I left this situation a while ago but I still feel a lot of pressure when I have to ask for something. I worry about being thought of as dumb or getting in trouble for asking an obvious question. I can tell this attitude holds me back at work, so what can I do? Thanks!

    1. Queen of the File

      I’m so sorry you went through that–it sounds humiliating and awful.

      What’s your current situation like? I felt a lot of pressure relieved when I had a short and candid conversation with my boss that I was “resetting” what was normal after a tough experience and asked for some feedback (do I ask an appropriate amount of questions, would you feel comfortable telling me if you were unhappy with my work, etc.). My new boss was really great. I worked hard to trust what she told me and not take my anxiety about the little stuff too seriously.

      1. Not My Usual Name

        The guys I work with now are great, and are pleased with my work so far. Honestly, in most regards this job is pretty close to perfect — which ironically makes me worried that I might mess up!

        I know that my old boss at my bad job specifically didn’t like me. He used to be at the same level I was, but we never got along. Our boss left and he got promoted because he had seniority, then he immediately switched my responsibilities with someone else and did the “getting me in trouble for asking questions” thing. It sucked, and trust me, I don’t need any reassurance that he was a bad boss and I didn’t do anything wrong.

        Honestly I glossed over it with my boss in the interview — I’d been at that job for over 3 years with the last 8 months or so working for the awful boss. I have a bad feeling that I can’t really put into words about bringing this up with my current boss. It feels like it could change his impression of me, which is really good right now. I think I should try to power through this nervousness until it goes away, or maybe speak with a therapist.

    2. Bea

      How long is “awhile ago”? It took me almost six months to shake my one bad boss.

      The key is validation. You had a good boss who wasn’t a jerkwad like that dude. He was a bully. He was damaged and bad. You are his victim. You deserve respect and shouldn’t be fearful when asking questions.

      Remind yourself healthy happy good bosses want you to ask questions. Remember that your boss now doesn’t respond like a jerk when you ask a question. Repeat over and over “it was Bezelzabub’s issue. Not mine.”

      And truly if you can afford it, seek out a counselor for assistance. It’s worth a few therapy sessions to get back from the damage that d*ck did to you.

      1. Not My Usual Name

        I’ve been at this job about four months. I worked for the crappy boss for about the last year of my last stint, which was 3 years total.

        I don’t want to paint myself as a victim, but the old bad boss and I never got along. When I started at that company, we were at the same level. He never liked me and would do weird passive aggressive things like invite the rest of the team out for his birthday but not me. Our boss left, and since he was senior he was promoted to become my new manager.

        Right after that he started abusing the process to try and get me fired. He changed my job duties completely (imagine it was a construction company and I was a plumber; then he changed me to working as an electrician), and proceeded to write me up for asking questions and being slow at my new duties. It was a huge company so the process took a long time, and I found a new job before he had enough to fire me over.

        For all I know, he might have had legitimate complaints with me, but I don’t worry about that because he didn’t tell me. No use worrying about something that you have no evidence it exists.

    3. Ruth (UK)

      I worked for a couple years in fast food (shouty bosses) and then for almost 4 years in a call centre where I had an awful boss. He sounds a bit like yours and among the things he did, he’d get annoyed by almost any question. He micromanaged everything and had to control everything to the point where he’d track how many post its people were using per day, etc. He also would make sexist and racist comments on occasion (like saying “she’s obviously on her period” if he’d had a phone conversation with a woman that hadn’t gone to his liking)

      As of 10 months ago, I have a new job and a new boss who I think is great. I think it takes times to gradually recover from a bad boss and I think I still have things held over from my previous experiences.

      I think it helps to try and remind yourself to think consciously, when you feel anxious about something, if it’s because of your previous boss or whether you truly think you’ll get a bad reaction from you current boss.

      When I started my current job, for a while I didn’t really discuss my old job especially because I didn’t want to be saying negative things about it and my old boss before my current colleagues and boss knew me very well. However, more recently, I’ve discussed it and shared a few specific things that happened there (not long stories in detail or anything), and given a bit of context to why certain things have made me nervous or anxious etc now. I think that gave me a bit of closure and helped me move passed it.

      I think discussing what they did that was bad helps see that the problem was them not you so you’re more able to see what it’s ok to do the thing they didn’t like (in your case, ask questions)

    4. Not So NewReader

      FWIW, I always thought that if the people who were under my supervision had basic questions that meant I was not doing my job of explaining things.

      If that one doesn’t resonate, I have another one: I have worked with people for years who did not know our telephone number or street address. Sometimes stuff gets past people for whatever reason. Maybe they don’t use the information or maybe the question never came up before. The employees I worried about the most were the ones who did NOT ask questions. I made it pretty clear that they should ask each other if they did not want to ask me, it was more important that they just ask.
      I now have a boss who greets me with, “What are the questions today?” We have been doing this for 6 years. The last employee did not ask questions. The nature of our work is you have to ask questions. Your former boss did not know how to lead people.

    5. Lucille2

      My take is if there are no questions, then you have a group of people who are afraid to speak up for some reason. In a training environment, it means you’ve lost your audience. In a management setting, it means people don’t feel safe to speak up. They have either felt punished for asking or the answer has been “no” so many times that no one bothers asking anymore. I’ve worked in that environment before. I had a direct report literally tell me he was so relieved he could ask me a question and not fear the response would be, “I went over that in your new hire training. I’m not going to tell you again.” That was a common response from his previous manager.

      Even intelligent, high performing employees miss seemingly basic stuff and have dumb questions occasionally. If people don’t feel safe enough to ask and instead just make assumptions, things start to crumble from there.

  24. Kramerica Industries

    A few months ago, my former manager (Jill) sent out a detailed email and guide about our teapot making process. In her email, she said that it was to reinforce consistency and accuracy, which is fair. However, upon receiving the email, 6/8 members of my team talked about how they were upset because they thought that it meant that there were flaws in their work and that they thought Jill should’ve brought this up at a face-to-face team meeting instead of being passive-aggressive. I’ve been on the team the longest. 5 of my colleagues have been here for less than 6 months, so I think that our team still lacks a good rhythm of communication.

    I ended up telling Jill about this reaction from myself and my colleagues, hoping to offer some insight into this new team rhythm. I said that 6/8 team members had a negative reaction and that I thought that it would be better that next time, updates like this should be delivered in person to avoid confusion or negative connotations. Jill said that it wasn’t her intention to offend or imply that people were not doing their job properly, but that she can’t help how people react to things.

    Then I asked if this was the type of thing I should be bringing up. Generally, I’m concerned about team morale because these newer colleagues seem very frustrated that there is little training and Jill is remote, so she’s not often available for questions. Anyway, Jill’s response was “I don’t think it’s as bad as you think it is…I think your negativity is clouding your perception”.

    Am I overacting to this? I understand her rationale, but I thought it was such a disengaging thing to say to an employee. Our team was restructured and I currently report into the same manager as Jill. Our current manager is super keen on people skills, so I’m wondering if I should mention that Jill’s response turned me off from going to her about other issues. No way would I want to bring up her lack of availability if she’s going to call me out for being overly negative again.

    1. Myrin

      That did not at all go where I expected it to go!

      I think it’s quite the strange reaction for a remote and often unavailable manager to react to feedback by a seasoned employee about going-ons in the office with “I don’t think it’s as bad as you think it is”.
      The “negativity” comment is also quite strange, unless you’re known for being a downer, which it doesn’t sound like?

      (FWIW, I personally think that the original situation described here is one of the few where such a general email to everyone is indeed warranted. With five new-ish coworkers, I can imagine she saw some general inconsistency in the makings of the teapots which she felt could be addressed all at once, and I actually think a detailed written guide is very good for that kind of thing. But it seems the situation has evolved beyond that by now.)

    2. Tara S.

      You tried to help, giving her useful information, and got shot down. No need to do any more (although I’m sorry about your team morale!).

    3. Not So NewReader

      I agree with you that she negated what you said.

      It could be that she was trying to say, “I am not angry with anyone, no one is in trouble.”

      But, yeah, she could have done a bit better. The one thing I would have suggested to her is that she send out a preliminary email or have a brief meeting where she says, “I am going to review our processes and set some guidelines for everyone. No one is in trouble. We are all doing things we can beef up a little bit. For myself, I can make sure that you guys know the guidelines, so you know what is expected. This is starting at square one, we look at what is needed and see what it takes for us to get there. Again, no one is in trouble. We are just going to make sure we are doing stuff correctly.”

      I would expect something like this you describe here from a person who feels they are pulled in too many directions and have too much on their plate. If she had a bit more time to think it through she probably would have done a better job.

      As far as your reporting, you are doing a third party report. I understand your concern, I have been there. But it never seems to fail that if I intervene on the behalf of others, while others remain silent, this type of thing happens. I’d get blown off or I’d get a lecture or something. I would recommend telling people who complain to you about the boss’ email or whatever that you tell them to go talk to the boss themselves. When we complain on the behalf of others, somehow it just seems to go poorly.

    4. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

      Is Jill no longer the manager of the group? Or was she managing the group at the time, and now you have a new manager you are not sure if you should give the same type of feedback to? Is the new manager remote too?

      I guess 2 of my general rules apply in this situation.

      #1- Don’t assign the actions of one person to another. Meaning that Jill and your current boss are two different people, the fact they both hold/held the position of your manager is usually about as relevant as two strangers both wearing green socks. I swear I hold a record somewhere for the number of bosses I’ve had. If I were to stop doing things that one of them found annoying or wrong with all of them, I’d probably have to stop interacting with them at all, there wouldn’t be anything left!

      #2- Whenever you get a new boss, spend some time getting to know how they want to operate with you. Ask them “Hey I know it’s sometimes hard to get the temperature and mood of a group when you don’t work with them every day. Did you want me to mention when I notice something out of the ordinary?”

      In #2, notice I said out of the ordinary, both good and bad. I’m not saying you do or did this, but sometimes it can be a bit umm negative to only bring up the bad things. Offer to share some of the funny or good things too. “blah work stuff blah blah… oh and Wakeen is in a really great mood today because his Chia Pet finally sprouted… blah more work stuff…blah… Hermione has seemed quiet all week, not her usual self”

  25. Sussan W

    So I need help fleshing out a “great idea” (my boss’s words) that I had this week that may or may not be industry specific (I hope asking industry specific questions is OK).

    Context is that my company switched over to a new tax software this summer. Lots of time and money and time invested in this.

    After 3 rounds of training, plus constant drilling in to the team to practice practice practice, I came up with the idea of doing another round for reviewers only. I got warm reception from others and my boss said it was a great idea.

    Questions–

    1. I’m discussing this briefly w my boss in a 1 on 1 soon. I need to have something more detailed than “I thought it’d be a good idea for reviewers to be on the same page.”

    2. First meeting with them is after next week, so I have about 1 full week to develop something more detailed/substantial.

    So I guess question is…TF do I do? I’ve never “led” a thing before. I ran it by others before going to my boss with it, but there’s a few managers who love to throw on the snark and “joke” around. So I’m a little nervous about that but hopefully I can shut that down.

    For those who were in this position (tax accountants/reviewing tax returns) what are some of the things you feel that you and your peers should know when reviewing returns on a new software?

    I apologize if this is too vague. I’m also on a FB group for Tax professionals but I’ve found them to be pretty condescending and rude as well so very apprehensive about asking there.

    1. Lucky

      Do you mean, additional training/refresh training on the software, specific to the functions of the software that the reviewers use? This may help.
      I was the lead/product owner for the roll out of a software system serving my department, but used by multiple people in other departments. Some people need to use it all the time, some only occasionally, so after a year, users had wildly different levels of comfort. So, first I sent out a survey (Survey Monkey, super easy to use) with questions about what people liked/disliked in the system, any functions in the old paper-driven process that were missing in the software, and any what additional training users wanted. Overwhelmingly positive responses, with two types of requests for training – refresh of the overall process and specific training on the reporting function. Rolled out that training over a few weeks, and got great feedback.

    2. Icontroltherobots

      1) Which system did you switch to?
      2) That sounds like a sucky FB group – me and my tax friends are much nicer
      3) Once we know what system, maybe either myself or nervous accountant have used it before and can give specific advice.

      My advice for all reviewers is “knowing when things are messed up training” Are you e-filing these returns? Are there diagnostics? Do you have a best practice for getting information into the system? Can you check for overrides?

      My experience is typically that people who suck at systems are going to override where they’re not supposed to, to get the form to “look right” this will cause issues with consolidation and state returns.

    3. Notthemomma

      I haven’t worked with tax return specific software, but in training other software, I found people don’t know *how* to test without parameters.
      If possible, take returns from years past with a variety of scenarios (filing type, schedules, etc) and have people reproduce them. Once done, they should highlight differences and note them, as well as write out what they saw, issues, what they like, differences, etc. this then needs to be handed in to you by xx date. Each person should do minimum of xxx with different ones which you assign and manager is responsible as a performance review if they don’t. I put in the performance but as your company is paying a lot of money for this software and not testing as instructed is setting the company up for failure.

    4. Lizabet

      I review files and the things we as a group try to coordinate on are getting everybody doing things the same way.

      We have a whole manual for completing returns but reviewers also meet regularly during tax time to share what things people typically miss, so that we can be on the look out for it and to communicate it to preparers.

      We also try to communicate our own best practices as we develop them.

      If the software is new I would suggest someone go through and do some “test” files to see where the “trip ups” are or to highlight the differences in the old and new software. Then schedule meetings a week or two apart for a month or two when the software goes live so that there can be good sharing.

      Also the software company might be able to give some good advice about the transition.

    5. ronda

      I am uncertain if there is a specific review process you all have (or the software has), or if you will be presenting your review process and others might have different ideas.

      So maybe position it as a pilot session and you want to get feedback on the content to make sure it covers everything and is accurate.

      And if it is a process…. maybe have regular checkin meetings to find out if the process works and if there are any changes needed to it.

  26. Anon anony

    Does anyone work in a place where some people talk to you only if the boss is around? If the boss isn’t around, they act differently?

        1. Rat in the Sugar

          Do they chit-chat with other people? I can think of a few reasons why they might act like that:

          1. They’re afraid of getting “caught” in a personal conversation at work, so they only chat when it’s the boss initiating.
          2. They’re super-awkward (possibly just around you) and have trouble making small talk without a third person there as a conversational buffer to fill the silence. I am an awkward person who has given someone this weird semi-silent treatment to try to prevent myself from annoying them by putting my foot in my mouth, only to discover later that I just made them think I didn’t like them. How…awkward.
          3. They’re a “work is for work” person who would rather not chat at all, and only puts in the effort when the boss is there to see them being friendly.
          4. They just don’t like you.

          In any of these cases it would be all about them, not you. I’m not sure what you could do about it; I don’t think you’d have much luck actually bringing it up to the coworker. Is there a way that you can concentrate on your own routines/behaviors so you don’t notice the silence as much? Listening to music or podcasts, or making it a regular plan to go to the breakroom at certain times to socialize with others so you don’t feel isolated, etc.

    1. Mimmy

      I think I’ve had that happen in a job I had way back. I had a coworker who I don’t think liked me very much and was pretty cold most times. However, when our supervisor was nearby, she would actually answer my questions!

    2. Not So NewReader

      I worked with two people at different times.
      The first one was the worst. She did not talk to me ever and she did not talk to the customers. She had NO sales for her entire shift and she did not help me close. The boss (a woman) blamed me, until the boss tried working with her. The woman was fired that night.
      The second one was decades later. She was old enough to know better. She would not talk to me period. I could yell fire and she would have ignored me. She talked to others but she was loud and sometimes disgusting in her talk. So I guess not a huge loss for me.

      In both cases, I just decided to pretend I was working alone. This worked out well because I had things set up the way I needed them to be set up. As the months rolled by I just got used to it.

      This may be who your cohort is, she just talks when the boss is around. OR you might decide one day to say, “Hey pretend the boss is around and talk to me. I hate the silence.” Many times people like this leave the job, the problem is not with their cohort, their actual problem is they hate their job.

    3. Lehigh

      Is it possible they’re just quiet? For instance, if you work side-by-side but the boss is usually in her own office, they could feel like when the boss drops by it’s chat time but when it’s just the two of you it’s work time.

  27. Nervous Accountant

    It’s Friday, it’s a beautiful day. In a few hours I’m gonna be on a boat with my coworkers, free flowing booze, free food, my boss is out for the day aaaaaand NEW GUY IS GONE. I’m seeing my favorite singer live tomorrow, and its’ a beautiful glorious day. Life’s good.

  28. Kat Em

    Just got an email inviting me to a third in-person interview. This one will involve an hour-long practical test/demonstration of what I freely admitted was my weakest area when it came to the job requirements. Which totally makes sense! They want to see if I can at least function at a basic level to ensure that I’m teachable, knowing that my skills regarding other parts of the job are totally on point.

    I know it’s not an audition, it’s about determining fit, and so I shouldn’t be nervous. And yet I totally am. I don’t want to be embarrassed in front of people I respect.

  29. Killer Tomato

    What do you do if you don’t have many references? I’ve only worked for two companies in my adult life and can’t use anyone from my current job since people have been fired in the past for getting caught job searching. I have limited work interaction with the other employees here and wouldn’t know whom to trust if I wanted to try asking someone to vouch for me. I’ve only ever worked for small companies directly for the owners so there aren’t any former managers or fellow employees who have since left that I could use. That leaves me with the husband and wife owners of the first company I worked for but I left there 13 years ago and my skills have expanded since then, so I’m not sure how relevant their comments might be. They won’t be able to attest to most of the activities and skills listed on my resume. Other than them, I have no one. How can I handle this when job searching? I’ll admit this issue has me feeling stuck at this job because I have no idea how to work around it.

    1. Time for a gnu name

      Ooh, that is tricky. You already countered the first suggestion I was going to make (former supervisors who left your CurrentJob). Do you have any relevant volunteer experience, and if so, is there someone there who would be a reference? Do you have any clients you work with enough that they could speak to your abilities (even if only specifically as to what you’ve provided to/for them)?

      1. Killer Tomato

        The industry we work in is such a close-knit one that I worry word would get back to my boss if I tried that. He’s got close relationships with a lot of the administrators so I worry that if I contacted one of their administrative assistants it would get back to my boss.

        I’ve tried to brainstorm all sorts of ideas and can’t come up with anything! I really feel like I’ll be stuck at this job unless I decide to move out of state and have a legitimate reason (in my boss’s eye) for leaving this job.

        1. Time for a gnu name

          I can totally relate – I’m in a close-knit industry, too, and have been here for 15+ years. The fear of word getting back to my employer is one of the reasons I’ve never even tried to get another job in this industry. That’s a tough position to be in. I hope you can figure a way around it!

      2. Killer Tomato

        Oh, and no volunteering, alas. Perhaps that’s something I should look into but volunteering options in my immediate area were rather limited last time I checked. Thanks for that suggestion!

        1. Not So NewReader

          Most of my references come from volunteering. I have MIA bosses, they left and went on with their lives. Imagine that.

          Keep your eyes open. You may notice that Sue from X company got a new job at Y company. Perhaps you are comfortable enough with Sue to ask her what she did for references. Usually in places where job hunting is a secret there is a whole underground network of people who vouch for each other. And it’s pretty well hidden, so it’s up to you to find at least one person who can lead you to other people who keep their mouths shut. I’d start by looking for someone who made the jump to a new job and asking them how they handled it.

          Understand, that you become part of this covert stuff and your turn will come up where you will need to be a reference for someone. You pay it forward.

    2. Lauren R

      I have a similar issue but kind of different. I’ve had 4 employers in my adult life, one of them is my current employer, and 2 of my other 3 bosses have since passed away. Since they were each the sole partner at their respective small law firms, their offices stopped existing when they did. I’m in the last rounds of interviews with a big corporation that will definitely want to verify my employment and I don’t know how to approach this. It’s kind of a sad awkward thing to bring up during the on boarding process.

      1. Killer Tomato

        What a sad situation! I think if you explain it as you did here, and then ask if they’d accept any other type of reference (personal reference, perhaps) they should understand. Good luck with your interviews!

      2. KayEss

        If it’s just about verifying that you were actually employed there, maybe tax-related paperwork will suffice?

    3. Susan

      I would think that references would come late in the conversation, so I wonder if there is a way to ask that to the company that you are interviewing with? Basically outlining something similar to the above, and asking if there are other sources of reference that they would accept?

      1. Doug Judy

        Yes this. If you have been at Current Job for 13 years, you could frame it “I obviously am hesitant to give anyone at my current job as a reference because I cannot let them know I am looking. My other employer was over 13 years ago, and I would be happy to give you their contact information, but since it has been a long time, they cannot attest to my current skills. Is there another type of reference I could provide?”

        Additionally, are there any former coworkers you are still in touch with? They could be an acceptable reference too.

        1. Killer Tomato

          Honestly, I feel like I’m in such a weird situation. No former coworkers I could use. My first job was just me, our marketing guy (whose work never interacted with mine), and the husband and wife owners. When I started at my current job 13 years ago there was another administrative assistant, but she left less than six months later. She was going through a lot in her personal life so I’m not even sure she’d remember me, let alone anything about the quality of my work. Not to mention that the majority of my skills were built after she abruptly left and I had to pick up the slack and learn how to do everything she’d been handling. She could probably say I was good at filing and answering the phone, but that’s about it!

      2. Killer Tomato

        I guess I could try to wow them before it gets to the awkward reference part of the process. I just worry that I’ll commit all of that time to applying and interviewing only to have this disqualify me at the end. I like your suggestion of asking for other references they’ll accept. I could certainly try that.

  30. Anon for this One

    How do you all keep family and work separate? I’ve never been goo at that, and tbh, I’m having a pretty terrible day ay work because I can’t compartmentalize.

    My sister called me this morning before work to tell me another problem our aging mother is facing. (She has myriad issues, including alcohol abuse, which makes it difficult if not impossible for us to step in and help. I’m also not local, so if I can’t throw money at the problem, and it’s not an immediate crisis, I need to schedule time to get out there to help.)

    The rest of my morning has been terrible. My worry and anxiety about my family is spiking, and it’s difficult for me to concentrate on my work. Anyone have any suggestions? Or just commiserations about similar experiences?

    1. Amber Rose

      Sounds like a good day to do small, unimportant things. Update your filing, clean up, review some not-urgent work. Look busy but give yourself some slack to do less today.

    2. Birch

      Mom, is that you? My mother is going through this now with my grandmother and I can see how tough it is! What I’ve gathered is that there often isn’t anything you can do that would solve the problems, you just have to deal with it as it comes and in the meantime make sure to take care of yourself by drawing boundaries –how much time can you really give? Feeling stressed and awful all the time is exhausting and terrible for your physical and mental health, so anything you can do to take care of yourself is really important in your ability to deal with your mother’s issues. I don’t have any good advice though, just to say I’m sorry you’re going through this and be kind to yourself.

    3. Also Definitely Anon For This

      I usually don’t have a problem separating work and personal life, but sometimes stuff eats at you … and that is completely understandable. On Wednesday I found out that my bipolar brother, who can’t work because of his mental illness and lives in another state, is currently homeless. I’m in no position to help him financially, and when I looked for help online I found out how very few resources there are on the internet for people in his situation (and for people like me who want to help constructively, not fix his life for him — he doesn’t want that anyway). My car broke down this week, and I’ve been sick, so I was already stressed to the max.

      He’s been in this situation before and he’s doing okay all things considered, but I’ve been worthless at work ever since. I’m the only family member he’s in contact with, and he doesn’t have anyone else.

      So there’s my commiseration and here’s my advice: let yourself off the hook today, do some mindless busy work if you can, and use the weekend to regroup. You’re allowed to do that!! Don’t beat yourself up for having an off day. I mean let’s be honest, that happens sometimes even when you don’t have a family crisis, right?

      1. Anon for this One

        Thank you so much for this! My situation is very similar, and it’s so hard. I can’t open my house to her – both for my own sanity and because she won’t accept relocating – and there’s so much guilt about not taking that last step to really entwine our lives in a really unhealthy way.

        I’ve decided to take the rest of the day off (I have to entertain guests from out of state all weekend, and can’t cancel now, but at least that will give me a few hours to relax).

        1. Also Definitely Anon For This

          Yeah it is super tough and frustrating to watch someone deal with this, especially when you stepping in is walking that fine line between enabling and helping and to be honest sometimes you don’t know which it is until you’ve done it. My brother has substance abuse issues too and right now I’m terrified he’s going to fall back into that. I keep telling myself that my level of support has nothing to do with whether or not he chooses to go down that road, which is true, but ughhh. Guilt and sadness anyway, right? Fortunately, and when he was in a better situation, he and I agreed a long time ago that we needed to establish boundaries and did that. He knows what I can and can’t help with.

          Anyway, I really wish the best for your mom and for you and the rest of your family – all you can do is your best and you have to come first or you can’t help anyone else, so don’t forget that!!

      2. Doug Judy

        I just want to say I also have a brother who’s bipolar is very severe so I know how hard it is. My brother is beyond lucky that my parents are financially and logistically able to support him, or I feel he would have a very different life. Because you are right, there are very few resources and help. It hard, and sometimes giving yourself some grace is all you can do. I hope things start looking up soon.

      3. yo

        If they have a local 2-1-1 system, you can either go online and find resources for him or he can call (or go online himself if he can access a computer at the library). They can help him find shelter or services.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot

      My home life blew up this week too. For me, I try to mentally frame work as a refuge from the crazy stuff happening at home. Work is predictable, there are certain rules of behavior, etc. It’s not perfect, but I find that it can help. I’m a little more distracted at work this week than usual, but it’s almost like a harbor from the storm that’s happening at home.

      Sorry about your mother. Hang in there.

      1. Isotopes

        This is my preferred strategy for dealing with the fact that I’m going through a not-very-good separation with someone who is severely unhinged. At work, I just get to do my job and escape the huge mess for a few hours.

        I’m definitely not working at 100%, but I’m getting everything done.

        Also agree with Blue Eagle below who suggests you speak with your sister about not giving you that kind of news first thing in the morning or while you’re at work.

        I’m really sorry, though. An Al-Anon meeting might be a good idea, if you’d be up for trying one out.

    5. Cheese Boat

      This will depend on what your relationships with your coworkers are like, but I have always found it easier to confide in a person or two at work. Having somebody who is aware but also capable of deflecting detailed inquiries can help me feel like (a) it isn’t a huge secret I have to bear and (b) if people start wondering between themselves why I might seem moody/sad/etc, hopefully anyone I told could gently say something along the lines of “oh, I think Cheese Boat’s having a tough time at home right now/family member is terminally ill/etc etc” without me having to say it to anybody myself. It can also remove the feeling that I have to be superwoman and power through despite what’s going on at home. RT what other commenters are saying about taking it easy today.

      It’s really hard having problems that are far away and fairly unfixable. Last year my family’s dog died and a few years ago I had a relative die suddenly from brain cancer, both in another state and during times when I simply could not go home, and it’s so tough to try to pretend everything is fine when it feels like your world is falling apart. I really feel for you.

    6. AdminX2

      Take mom off the table. Seriously. There’s nothing you can do for her, she will only get worse. If you have contact with her it’s only helping her think “It can’t be that bad, if it were that bad they would stop contact.” No contact with mom until she chooses to be active in a program for at least six months sober and no talk with sister or other family about it unless it’s to find out she is in a hospital.

      Enabling is your own disease and you deserve to get help for it. Start going to Alanon, start freeing yourself from her problems. Of course you want to help, but the best way to help in this scenario is to let her go and take any other enablers off the table.

      1. Also Definitely Anon For This

        While I agree that you should not enable an addict in their addictive or manipulative behavior in any way, there are a lot of details missing from OP’s story and you filled in some of those blanks with assumptions.

        Since I don’t know OP’s full story I’ll give you an example: my brother needs medication to treat his severe mental illness. He’s been through years of therapy and he’s been to rehab as well. All of that has helped him immensely. However, sometimes he has breakthrough bipolar episodes that medication does not help. When this happens he loses his grip on reality, stops properly medicating himself, and occasionally relapses into drug use, which is how he coped prior to being diagnosed and medicated. Sometimes he can get himself checked into a psychiatric hospital and into a controlled environment where he’s safe from relapse, but a few times he hasn’t been able to do that. In other words, the substance abuse is a symptom, not the cause, of his problems.

        In any case, nothing you said helps OP deal with his/her emotional response to the situation while s/he is at work today.

        I’m not trying to be antagonistic, I’m just pointing out that when mental health issues are involved sometimes it’s not as simple as “stop enabling an addict and cut them loose.”

    7. Not So NewReader

      You can’t compartmentalize because 5 pounds of stuff will not fit into a 1 pound box.

      There are just some things that spill over. Consider the opposite example, such as a toxic boss who spills over into home life. Our work and personal lives cross over frequently.

      Perhaps your sis and you can talk on the phone at different times, rather than just before you leave for work.

      Maybe you can google and help sis find resources in her area.

      Sometimes we can push anxiety back by finding one immediate step we can take to help the situation.

      Last, tell yourself that the nature of mom’s problems is such that you guys need a team of people helping her. Sis is not going to do this alone, neither are you annnd the two of you combined are probably going to find much of it overwhelming. Anxiety lies to us. Anxiety tells us, if we were there we could magically fix everything and that is a lie. Make it a point to tell yourself over and over, “There’s anxiety, LYING to me, AGAIN.”

    8. Manders

      Step one for me was being up front, but not TMI-ish, with my boss about the fact that my mom’s in ill health. Knowing that my boss is already aware of the situation takes some of my most persistent worries off my mind, like worrying about whether I’ll be fired if I have to fly out of town on short notice or if people in the office will think less of me on days I’m not feeling chipper.

      I also live by my to-do list. That constant low-grade worry screws with my short-term memory, so while I used to be awesome at remembering tasks, now I have to admit to myself that I can’t rely on my memory alone.

      This may vary depending on your job, but I try to 1) work ahead on mission-critical tasks on the good days and 2) save a store of repetitive, low-critical-thinking tasks for the bad days. I think this has actually improved my reputation at work, I get a lot of kudos for being on top of my tasks and for powering through those boring tasks no one wants to do.

      I listen to podcasts at work. There’s something about hearing someone else’s voice in my ear that disrupts my internal monologue.

      Good luck! I’m in a similar-ish situation now and it’s really hard.

    9. Blue Eagle

      Ask your sister to not call you in the morning when what she has to tell you can be put off until after work.

    10. CL

      As someone working in HR, what I’ve come to realize and what I try to coach people through is there is no way to separate personal life and work life. We’re human and our different lives bleed, blur, and blend together. The important thing is how you navigate these separate worlds. I think it can be more stressful, and more damaging, to try to keep everything completely separate. Even the “best of the best” can’t do it. As another commenter suggested, when you have a stressful personal situation, what can you do at work to give yourself space? Can you tackle easy tasks? Is it bad enough that you should take a day off or is being at work a good thing? Be cognizant of how you are reacting to others too. If personal stressors make you edgy, can you clear your calendar and take care of tasks that have few interaction requirements with colleagues? Or do you thrive on being around others and find that socializing helps you decompress?

      Also, I’m sorry you’re dealing with a big stress right now. I hope you experience something positive or peaceful soon to help balance everything.

  31. Seifer

    There’s been some talk about rearranging the office… both my cubemate and I have standing desks next to the windows and we JUST moved there so we DEFINITELY don’t want to move. And I handle a lot of sensitive information–I’m not in accounting but I see payroll and contract amounts and stuff like that. I don’t want to throw a fit and be like I can’t move from this coveted corner cube, but I moved here on purpose!

    I’m just kvetching. We’re probably going to move. It’s going to suck.

    1. Tara S.

      Doesn’t hurt to politely mention that you would like to stay in the corner cube, especially since you view sensitive information. You can’t demand, but nothing wrong with politely letting your preferences be known.

      1. Rusty Shackelford

        And it can/should be done in a way that’s about the organization’s needs, not your preference.

        “How are you handling the necessary privacy issues? Remember that (cubemate and?) I handle sensitive information, and need to be in a spot where our screens aren’t viewable to people walking by. That’s why this corner works well for us.

        1. Seifer

          Yes, thank you! As a whole, all the company handles sensitive information, but I might be the only one besides for my boss on this side of the building that sees this particular kind of sensitive information. My original plan was for my boss and I to move into one of the larger offices with doors, but my project exec shot that down because he didn’t want people sharing offices anymore. So this is plan B, to make my case to my boss so that he can talk to the exec.

    2. Icontroltherobots

      Ask them for privacy screens for your monitors. They’re VERY expensive. Hopefully it will be a cheaper/easier solution to just let you stay in your corner cube :)

      1. Seifer

        Hahahaha yes. My cubemate actually has one, even though we all have two monitors, and it was only because he has his standing desk facing in such a way that if you’re just walking down the hall, you can see what’s on his screen. Also, he’s like 6’8″ so when he pulls his desk up to stand, you can clearly see his full monitor over the cube wall even though we have the really high cube walls. But yes, the screens were very expensive and it was only because our facility security officer told the EA that he needed it, that he was able to get one. I personally think that we all should have them, but they company doesn’t want to eat the cost for that.

        1. Icontroltherobots

          I mean if you’re working with compensation data or SSN’s it’s really important that people can’t just see what’s on your computer.

    3. MLB

      I was in a similar situation, and when they moved some of our team from another floor, I got booted to a smaller cube because I didn’t have a certain title. I tried to argue that I needed extra space because of one of my main job duties, but I still got booted. I would plead your case, but sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it.

  32. Amber Rose

    Husband took the year long position at the location that’s far away. The pay increase was very small, but the opportunity was too big to let it get away. He’s got a clause in his contract that guarantees his old position will be available at the end of the year unless he says he doesn’t want it. We talked about it for a long time, and I used some of the suggestions/questions I got here last Friday to go over it with him. They really wanted him, he was their #1 choice before he even applied.

    His imposter syndrome is driving me a bit batty but I suspect it’ll go away once he starts the new position.

    In the meantime, I am failing more and more at my own job. I desperately need to find a new one before the thread I’m hanging on snaps and people realize just how bad it’s all become. But I have no idea what I want to do. I don’t want to stay in this field, but I’m not good for anything else. Or anything at all.

    1. Theory of Eeveelution

      Get those thoughts out of your head. Consider that your current situation has convinced you of this, and that it’s not actually true. Start rekindling friendships to sustain you while your husband is away. If you’re serious about switching fields, start doing some free online courses NOW! I believe in you!

    2. Monty and Millie's Mom

      I’m sorry to hear you’re hanging on by a thread! I’m in a similar situation, but not quite that bad. Here’s hoping that you’ll be able to find some clarity for your next move and be able to make it before you snap! Virtual hugs for comfort and high fives for support!

    3. I'm A Little Teapot

      Well, I think he’s not the only one suffering from impostor syndrome. No, you’re not good for only one thing. That’s your brain being nasty to you.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Totally agree.
        AR, you are good at some things, no different from the rest of us here, just not this particular job. Perhaps you can try temping for a bit to get some flavor?

        Get a drink with electrolytes in it, so your brain gets some minerals back and it’s easier not to do the stinkin’ thinkin’. Next start thinking about where your interests are, what do you gravitate towards? I don’t mean just hobbies. I mean think back to classes in school, were you one of the few people NOT groaning about algebra? Did other people copy off YOUR paper in history class? Think about where you have felt on solid ground.

        We do know from what you wrote before that you are well liked. Never underestimate how far this will carry you. It’s very powerful to be personable and conversational. When I went back to college there was this one team I was on with a guy who was just a people person. Imagine my surprise when I found out he was a solid C student. I did not expect that at all. His people skills carried him and I suspect those skills are still carrying him. It’s okay not to know stuff, people will work with us. It’s not okay to be unpleasant. You have a firm handle on this basic requirement. To me that is 50% of getting employment right there.

  33. Tara S.

    How would you handle this situation? (Adults behaving immaturely)

    Context: One of my supervisors is mentoring me, and I try to pay attention when he talks about his management style. I don’t always love his approaches to things (I have high standards from reading this website!), so I try and think through how I would handle the situations he is describing. This one story struck me as “off,” but I’m not exactly sure of what the best way to deal with it would have been.

    Story: My boss was the manager of a business center for a University. The office got re-done/re-ordered. Two longer-term employees (I think they both had at least 10 years, though not necessarily at the business center) were moved into the same office. (I believe they were in cubes before?) This office had one window. The way the desks were set up, one was closer to the window, the other closer to the door. Person A, who had the desk nearer the window, filled up the windowsill with plants. Person B, who had the desk closer to the door, felt that they should be able to also put plants on the windowsill. If I remember correctly, Person B moved some of Person A’s plants and put in their own. This upset Person A. There was full out yelling in the office about the plants. The argument was dragged up to my boss. He told them that they were adults, they needed to figure this out professionally, and that they both could have half the windowsill each. This did not solve the problem, what constituted “half” was not agreed on, there was more yelling. My boss pulled Person A and Person B into his office, told them that if they couldn’t figure this out, he would board up the window, and if there was any more yelling in the office, he would have them both written up and put on PIPs (the beginning of “firing” procedures for a public University). Person A and Person B came to a tense stalemate, and both transferred on their own to different departments within a year.
    I don’t know what exactly about my boss’s approach feels off to me. Maybe the fact that he’s a man and both Person A and B were women? Maybe the glee in his tone when he described threatening to board up the window and put them on a PIP? Maybe the way he talked about “dressing them down” during the second meeting (not yelling, just, trying to shame them for their unprofessionalism?).

    Anyway, I don’t know what the best thing to do *is* when adults behave like children. WWYD?

    1. College Career Counselor

      The two co-workers were acting like squabbling siblings, so your boss acted like their father. Both of those reactions are problematic in the work place. Your boss basically made himself the enemy of both of them and got what he wanted out of it (their ultimate transfer).

      I’m not sure what I would have done, other than to follow Allison’s advice and say something like “you two need to be civil and professional to each other. This is a requirement of your job–can you do that? If you can’t, there will be disciplinary repercussions.” I suppose he could also have said, “Neither of you gets to use the windowsill,” but that veers again into the parental aspect.

    2. Queen of the File

      Yeah–the facts of the response don’t seem strange to me, but the glee/punishment in the retelling feels not awesome.

    3. Perse's Mom

      They behaved like bickering siblings, so he treated them as such. Sure, ideally he wouldn’t have been gleeful about it, but I imagine lots of managers get very frustrated with ridiculous behavior and it’s satisfying to resolve it.

    4. Enough

      Actually I’m not sure what else he could have done except move one or both of them to a new location. Sometimes if adults insist on acting like children you have to treat them like children. As far as the glee you feel he was expressing that is somewhat subjective so I would have to have heard him. And to me gender is not a big issue. I’m female and would have probably done something similar although probably would have told them nothing could go on the window sill.

    5. anonymoushiker

      Oh, that’s tough. I would probably try to suss out why this has become such an issue by talking to them individually and then attempt to do some sort of mediation and collaborative if possible problem solving that would find a reasonable solution. I would also make it clear that if it didn’t work, I would have to consider putting them on PIPs or some other type of consequence (that I would need to discuss with HR). I think the sense of glee/power usage would feel off to me from that story.

    6. Manders

      You’re right that something about this story rubs me the wrong way, BUT the fact that it happened at a university does add some important context. It’s been my experience that universities tolerate unprofessional behavior, and block bosses from the most obvious solutions, often enough that the culture can get pretty odd.

      I don’t know if your boss had the option of moving someone to a different office, if he already wanted to manage one or both of these people out for their unprofessional behavior, if the office re-ordering was a multi-year process that required him to manage dozens of meltdowns, etc. Sometimes people in dysfunctional environments develop work-arounds when bureaucracy or office culture makes the most logical thing to do difficult or even impossible.

    7. Not So NewReader

      I don’t think I would board up the window but I think that I would say “Do you really want me to arbitrate this one? My answer will be NO one has plants period. Are you sure you want me involved here?”

      Then I would be looking at fire code to see if there was a provision that said, nothing could be blocking the windows. But I would do that quietly.

      Bosses can’t micromanage small situations like this. People are being compensated to get along with each other. That is a given in any job. These are two people who repeatedly refused to make peace and move on. They failed a basic requirement of any job.

      So there were two adults arguing over plants in a window and the two adults decided to let the boss decide what to do. Just my opinion, but they got the answer they deserved. Yes, it can feel awkward if putting his foot down unfamiliar in some way, but the boss had to put his foot down so he did.

    8. Nacho

      Boss sounds like a cool guy to me. A and B were behaving like 5 year olds, so Boss treated them like it. Sure, there were probably other options available to Boss, like changing their work station or personally telling them what half of the windowsill means, but he really shouldn’t have to do this.

    9. Autumnheart

      In my opinion, boss did exactly the right thing. Multiple yelling fights about putting plants on the windowsill FFS?

      There are so many toxic workplaces where managers brush off or refuse to deal with ridiculous behavior, and allow one or two combative workers to ruin it for everyone. It’s nice to see one where a manager actually put the smack down.

  34. The Other Dawn

    So my company is being sold and it’s happening in a couple weeks. I didn’t get an offer for the new company, but that’s perfectly fine. All my team members did, though, and so did lots of others. Even though it doesn’t affect me, my question is about health insurance premiums.

    Has anyone ever heard of a company adding a surcharge to the employee’s portion of the premium because their spouse (however that is defined–just using the general term) has insurance available to them at their own job, but they’re being added to the employee’s coverage? This new company charges $2,000 a year to the employee on top of their portion of the premium when they add a spouse who has coverage available at their own job and doesn’t take it. That adds more than $80 per pay check that the employee has to pay. That’s quite a large amount when you’re talking about many employees who live paycheck to paycheck, have other larges expenses, etc. (I see it as a large amount no matter the situation) Obviously, this is leaving a really bad taste in the mouths of those that were given offers at the new company.

    1. ThatGirl

      Yes, the spousal surcharge has been a Thing at both my last job and my current one. I get why companies do it. It seems kind of crappy to not waive it for the rest of the year, though, since open enrollment is generally Novemberish.

    2. Tara S.

      I have no idea if this is legally allowed (probably, ugh), but it’s obviously a huge disincentive to add a spouse to the company’s insurance. I’ve not heard of anyone else doing this, but I guess I’m not that surprised. My uncle had a job where if you decide to use your spouses’ insurance instead of the company’s, they will pay you in cash what they would have paid toward your insurance. New job doesn’t have that though, if you use spouses’ insurance they just don’t pay for yours! :(

      1. ThatGirl

        Yes, I’ve seen it especially at places that are self-insured; it is intended as a disincentive. While sharing insurance is certainly nice if you can do it, for us it allows more flexibility to be separate anyway – I hardly ever go to the dr so I have a high-deductible HSA plan, whereas my husband goes a lot so he has a lower-deductible PPO.

    3. Red Reader

      We don’t add a surcharge, but the spouse can only have out coverage as secondary insurance rather than primary unless they are not personally eligible for an employer sponsored plan through their own employer that meets certain requirements. (So this doesn’t apply to unemployed spouses.)

      The principle is similar though – they would prefer not to be handling the insurance for non-employees if they can help it, so they find ways to deter it if possible.

    4. PieInTheBlueSky

      I believe this is known as a “spousal carve out” policy. It’s something that happens, but I don’t know how common it is.

    5. Judy (since 2010)

      I’m pretty sure every company I’ve worked at since the late 80s has done this. My most recent company (left 4 years ago) charged $100 per month at the end for insuring a spouse that had coverage at their own job. My current company will not cover spouses that have coverage available at their own job.

    6. Potato Girl

      Yeah, most places I’ve worked only allow spouse coverage if spouse doesn’t earn healthcare at their own job. Kinda takes half the point out of being married, but whatever.

    7. Persimmons

      Not only is this common, but disallowing a spouse completely unless they have no other insurance option is also common. I had to prove that my husband was an unemployed caregiver to get him on my insurance.

      A member of my team told me that her husband is a high-level manager at Blue Cross, and even they do the same thing to their own employees.

      1. Basia, also a Fed

        Yes, my husband works for state government. They require a letter from the spouse’s employer that they don’t offer them insurance (if the spouse has a job). Without the letter, they won’t cover them.

      2. Hamburke

        I’ve noticed that health insurance companies provide the absolute worst coverage for their own employees… My sister worked for an insurance company many years ago and the only option they had was a high deductible plan with no company contribution at all – they paid the whole premium plus any HSA contribution.

    8. Name Goes Here

      FormerCompany used to have a policy that if your spouse’s employer offered insurance, they had to purchase that before they could be added to our plan, which would then be secondary insurance. It sucked and I’m glad when we were bought out by CurrentCompany they didn’t have the same policy.

    9. Bea

      Truly baffling to be to hear this is a thing. It must be a large(r) company setup who has bigger administrative costs. We would never make it more expensive to add a spouse. Granted adding a spouse is horribly costly for anyone who wants to. I’m saying it’s over $80 a paycheck…more like 150-250 depending on the age range we’re talking about. So hell no are we punishing someone more if they have to opt in for that nonsense.

      I miss my dad’s old coverage. No extra cost for adding dependents. Awww the 90s and a strong union. They crumbled with the economy needless to say but never destroyed their healthcare options.

    10. Could be Anyone

      I’ve seen jobs that will only allow your spouse to be added to your insurance if their employer doesn’t offer any insurance. So even if their job has terrible/expensive insurance, no dice. My county government job paid a stipend (I think $2,500/year) to people who declined insurance altogether because they had it elsewhere.

      My current job pays X per month towards insurance premiums (X = the cost of a single person plan) and you have to pay the difference if you want to add family. They also offer a cheaper HSA plan which makes the difference a bit less but generally it’s several hundred dollars per month AT LEAST.

    11. Star Nursery

      Yes… A spouse surcharge of $200 per month is a thing at my current employer… If spouse is eligible through their employer for health insurance. I was so happy when my spouse finally changed jobs and got their own health insurance.

    12. Bird

      The cost to add my spouse to my health insurance at work, if she had not gotten a temporary appointment at the literal eleventh hour, would have been an extra $740 a month.

    13. The Other Dawn

      Thanks, everyone! I had no idea that this is common. At least now when I move on to another company I won’t be surprised if they do this, too. Luckily I can go on my husband’s insurance next year, as his company does not do this.

      1. ronda

        I think becoming unemployed is one of the reasons you can get on insurance outside of open enrollment. You should check.

        If not you have about 3 months to sign up for COBRA and that is retro-active coverage, so if you end up having a big medical incedent in those months you can sign up for COBRA after and be covered.
        —-guess who was out of work fairly recently :)

  35. AdminX2

    Last Fri Open Thread I mentioned a difficult person on a volunteer committee and dealing with them. An update.
    Last meeting I tried to bring up how the group prefers to do conflict resolution and he tried to shut me down, interrupting me, saying I was horrible for trying to force this on him, that there WAS no issue as far as he was concerned. The leader said he would prefer we take some time to get perspective, if we wanted to talk it out directly try that. If that failed, come back to him and would try to arbitrate.

    After a week of nothing, I emailed the guy super politely asking when he would like to coordinate some time to talk directly. I get back an immediate harsh rebuff that he doesn’t consent to this, there is no problem, to not bring it up ever again to him or at a future meeting. I forwarded it to the leader acknowledging there’s nothing I could do but I did expect SOMETHING to be said to this person as I was worried about escalation with me or an attendee at the event itself.

    To which the leader emails me saying the guys sister had just died and if he and I could talk in a few days, apparently EVERYONE on the committee knew except me and had not bothered to bring me in. Now, I’m not entitled to know his personal stuff, and I didn’t do anything impolite or inappropriate at any stage certainly as I was ignorant of his situation, but I would have allowed for timing to mourn. No, this wasn’t just a guy being a little attitude one bad day, this is multiple absolute rejection and degradation points.

    Suffice to say I told the leader taking time would of course be fine but I DID still expect something to be said and not just dropped. And this continues to support my decision to leave after this event is done and get away from the dysfunction.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      Um… yeah, the fact that no one could be bothered to tip you off that dude was dealing with some serious personal issues is a huge problem and you are definitely right to get out as soon as you can.

    2. valentine

      The death is just an excuse for the leader to continue avoiding confrontation. They’ve: (1) done nothing (2) made it your individual problem with the cruel guy (3) told you to meet alone with this person they themselves won’t confront in front of witnesses (4) made you the bad guy by bringing up the death (5) strung you along that much further. I hope you will fly and be free because there are better people on the planet who won’t mistreat you like this. I would resign and recommend they read The Revolution Begins at Home, edited by Ching-In Chen, Jai Dulani, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha.

  36. Crystal Smith

    This is pretty low-stakes, but I keep running into an issue and I have no idea how to respond – I’m doing workshops on a new software that’s being implemented at work, and it’s a Big Deal because it’s our main tool (I’m trying to be vague on purposes here). Training is split between different areas, let’s say teapot handles, teapot spouts, and teapot bodies, and I’m doing teapot handles. After my workshops, my coworkers have been making a point of telling me I did a great job (which is nice!) but they invariably follow up by mentioning how bad the teapot spout and body workshops were, and how they don’t feel like they know anything about those areas, etc. I’ve pretty much been saying “oh thank you!” and then mentioning that they should put their concerns in the feedback forms that get sent around after every session. I don’t know what else to say!

    And, I don’t know if I should mention to the other teams that people feel this way? No one has given me anything specific that I could say “oh I heard people wanted to see more of xyz,” which I would be fine with, it really is all “I don’t know ANYTHING about it, it was USELESS” and I’m not really comfortable saying “hey everyone tells me your sessions sucked.” (It doesn’t help that this same thing happened with an earlier round of training we did in the summer, and I know for a fact that none of them breathed a word in the feedback forms about their concerns because I saw all the responses.) I think maybe the answer is to keep my peace, but ugh.

    1. Four lights

      Once training is over you could frame it as, “Let’s look at all of our feedback and see if there’s anything we need to improve on for next time.” Or , “Now that we’ve done a lot of these, lets see…” If they didn’t put anything in the feedback forms, maybe you could email out another anonymous one. Or encourage people to be more honest in the forms.

      Or come up with a way to “quiz” everyone on the sessions to see if they’ve actually learned anything, so you can show what needs to be explained better. Actually, now that I think about it, a post assessment is pretty important in teaching, so you may be able to find some informal ways to do this online. (like some sort of game at the end of the session)

    2. AnotherJill

      Other than suggesting a debriefing session to discuss how all trainers felt that that the training went, I wouldn’t do anything. When I taught, students would often complain randomly about other instructors, and unless I heard anything really egregious, I felt that it was their issues to work out directly with their instructors.

      Sometimes students just want to vent in the moment and you’ve done your job just by listening. If they don’t want to put concerns on the feedback forms, it’s either a bigger symptom of your environment where employees feel that feedback is not welcomed or that the concerns just aren’t that important.

    3. I guess I am a product owner

      I have been on all different sides of that situation (trainee, trainer who was good, trainer who sucked, person coordinating trainers who were good or who sucked, etc.). My vote is: it will be SUPER AWKWARD, but everyone will ultimately be grateful if you say something. Everyone wants the training to be effective, right? You’re in a position to help make that happen. Some framing/scripts: “Hey, I wanted to share some feedback I heard from trainees. Several people mentioned that they left the teapot spout session without a clear understanding of how to use [tool]. I’m not sure exactly what aspects they wanted more help with, but I know that you care about your work and would want to know for the future.” I’ve gotten notes like this, and it was unpleasant and I was stressed about it, but then I was able to reach out to trainees and figure out what exactly needed fixing, and my next trainings were much more successful.

  37. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night

    Job interview today! I’m feeling optimistic, but have not as yet been able to verify with the actual employer yet that the salary range the recruiter quoted me is correct. I’m hoping to get it cleared up in the interview; on the one hand, it seems a little high for the position, but on the other, Glassdoor reviews have “great pay & benefits” as pros in almost every one. Maybe I’m just too used to being underpaid? Crossing my fingers it goes well and there really is an opportunity for me to bump my pay grade up considerably.

  38. Testing.1.2.3

    Has anyone taken the Predictive Index prior to an interview or as a condition to be interviewed?

    What do you think of taking these types of tests prior to or condition of interviewing? Has it been helpful to the organization- that you know of? Does your organization use it for hiring?

    I’m not keen on personality tests, but I read up on this one and it has mostly positive reviews and write-ups about it. It’s also EEOC ‘approved’. I think another name could be Culture Index?

    1. Art3mis

      Yep. A lot. It’s predictive of me not getting an interview. Not sure what it tells people but it seems to not work in my favor. My current company uses something called Rembrandt.

    2. AnotherJill

      I once applied for two positions at the same company, which at the time required a battery of various tests. The results of one test indicated that I was “unconventional”. One of the positions was for the IT department, the other was for the software development department.

      The interview with the IT manager was painful – the interviewer kept quizzing me about being unconventional. I tried to spin it as thinking out of the box to solve problems, but he clearly put a lot of stock in it. The interview with the software development manager started out by him noting that I had interviewed with IT, to which I responded that I think they were a little frightened by my unconventionality. His response was that he didn’t pay any attention to “that crap”.

      So at least in this circumstance, how much attention gets paid to it varies, depending on the role and the manager. During my 10 years there, the company also stopped doing this kind of testing because overall it wasn’t making any difference in their hiring.

    3. PIPro

      I ran our Predictive Index program at my last company. I’m on the fence about these types of test as part of the hiring process because it really depends on how the company uses it. PI used correctly, should help the interviewer evaluate the candidates level of self awareness around specific areas (attention to detail, variety, how collaborative or independent you are, and so on). I do know that some companies will incorrectly kick people out of the process if their PI profile doesn’t match the job profile, which is why I’m not really a fan of these types of tests.

    4. Crylo Ren

      I did as part of my hiring process for my current job (been here 1+ year). I didn’t mind it too much, it didn’t seem overly invasive and the questions (from what I can remember) were very work-specific.

      If it had actually been used as hiring criteria, I wouldn’t know; I didn’t get my results from it (and my team didn’t know what my results were) until I had been there for over a year, so by that point it was basically just confirming what we already knew about each other.

    5. ZuZu

      I’ve had to do it a bunch. I will take a quick PI test prior to interviewing because it’s quick and painless. However, I’ve had companies that want me to do a more in-depth IQ or aptitude test prior to scheduling an interview, and I typically won’t do those unless it’s later in the process because I feel it’s asking me to invest a lot more in the process than the company.

      My last org took PI results very seriously, and would not hire people based on them. We also hired a lot of people who had good results and bombed at the job. I take it all with a grain of salt.

  39. OMG Anon

    I’m going anonymous for this. I share an office with my boss and I absolutely hate it.

    She talks on her personal cell phone a lot, and loudly. And talks about religious stuff with friends that makes me feel uncomfortable. She eats constantly and loudly. She coopts the temperature in the room, running her fan when I’m already under a blanket. I’m not able to listen to music any more.

    I absolutely adore my supervisor but this setup is awful.

    1. Theory of Eeveelution

      You’re not able to listen to music because she’s already playing music, or because she doesn’t allow you to play music? Did she actually tell you that, or are you assuming this because of her office behavior? If not, just ask her if headphones are ok!

      1. OMG Anon

        We interact too much for headphones to be a possibility. And she dislikes music so I cannot listen to it otherwise.

  40. Nervous Nellie

    To me it’s been a discouraging couple of weeks here at AAM. So many of the discussions seem to have revolved around maturity in the workplace. We’ve been discussing feelings charts, silent treatments, Nerf gun battles, debating the word “tattling” and defiant cellphone use. Did I miss anything? Even when hearing from folks who agree that adults need to bring their adult selves to work, we get even more personal experiences with bratty colleague behavior.

    I am looking for work after surviving two very toxic workplaces, and the reality these chats address sure is disheartening. Of course I know that I cannot expect any new workplace to meet all of my expectations, but it sure sounds like schoolyard behavior is the norm to expect to have to deal with everywhere.

    Please tell me I am wrong! Any positive or reassuring comments to share? Do you work in a largely mature and productive place? Cheer me up! Cheer us all up. It’ll be our Friday treat.

    1. Amber Rose

      I think I work in a balanced workplace? I mean, I hang up a bit at the word “mature” because I struggle with what it means. I have a juvenile sense of humor and so do basically all my coworkers, and there’s quite a lot of inappropriate joking around and so very many foosball battles (during lunch). That said, work gets done like whoah. We are incredibly productive, and business has boomed dramatically this year.

      We have our share of issues, but the steps taken to address those have been quite useful, and have not in any way involved nerf battles or feelings charts or sulking or silent treatment. Mostly they’ve involved improving our technology and better defining our procedures. Or having procedures at all. We didn’t when I started, things were very cowboy around here. I think it’s pretty neat that we recovered so well from the utter chaos I was hired into, and it really speaks to the skills of our general manager, who is a hero of organization.

      1. Nervous Nellie

        Hi all below!
        Thanks everyone for weighing in! Sure, I get that this is an advice site for work problems, but it’s also a so often a venue for general questions (like – how should I word this thing on my cover letter), which has always made me feel that it overall represents the norms of working life. Some days I sure hope not!

        There have just been so many brat stories lately, and as I look for work I know that I can’t really screen for craziness, but I deeply fear that I will be launched into ToxicJob #3, with more of the same of the pouting and tantrums and drama, when all I want to do is get work done.

        I’m in my 50s, and really feel like the working world was calmer and more mature 20 years ago. Maybe I just got lucky with those jobs back then?

        That said, I am delighted you folks can prove me wrong about today. It is hugely reassuring to know that you have sane workplaces. That gives me hope! Lily Rowan, I especially want to come work with you! :)Sounds lovely.

    2. CatCat

      Well, I think schoolyard behavior seems like it’s a norm on here because a huge portion of this blog is devoted to dealing with that stuff. So that skews what you are seeing. A blog all about how everyone behaved appropriately at work would not be all that interesting :-)

      And FWIW, I currently work in a largely mature and productive place!

      1. Lily Rowan

        Yeah, I will not be writing to AAM any time soon, because my current letter would read like this:

        All of my coworkers are collegial and have appropriate boundaries, my boss respects me and my work, and our hours are sane and predictable. My current problem is having two great applicants to choose from for an open position. No help needed!

    3. I'm A Little Teapot

      I’m about 2ish months into a new job. Overall, it’s really good. No, things aren’t perfect, but nothing is. And the problem stuff either doesn’t bother me, doesn’t impact me, or my manager is protecting me from it (and she recognizes the BS stuff and sympathizes).

      So the good places are out there! Remember, if everything’s basically good, why would you write to an advice blog for help?

    4. SarahKay

      I think a lot of what you’re seeing is that:
      (a) by it’s nature AAM is going to throw up many many bad stories. Not many people are going to write to a problem page saying that they started a new job six months ago and it’s all going well – and even if they did, that’s not going to be published.
      (b) the comments are likely to draw out people’s recollections of the one time they were in a similar situation – but that’s one time, out of (say) 20 years of experience.

      Honestly, I read many of the stories in AAM in horror, because pretty much none of my managers (or workplaces) have ever been like that. Sure, I’ve had co-workers that I’ve not got on with, or who haven’t been models of professionalism, but they’ve been the exception rather than the rule. I’ve had a couple of managers that lacked professionalism too, but they’ve been the exception for me – and mostly the exception within the organisations I’ve worked for, too.

      One was an over-sharing manager, and one was an excitable-rather-shouty manager (Italian mama in family restaurant, so not entirely unexpected), but that’s out of fourteen – and the other twelve ranged from good to awesome. I’ve had managers go to bat for me to get me better pay, managers who’ve encouraged me to grow in my career, even when it means they lose me as their employee, and above all, managers who every day treat me with respect and professionalism.

      Good luck in your job-search!

    5. Victoria, Please

      I feel like I have the best job ever. I have a generally very high functioning team, a beautiful office suite for all of us, and the only thing that really makes me nuts is that people *cannot* seem to turn the kitchen faucet off properly so it dribbles (you gotta get it at just the right angle). Even the fridge stays clean. We all work reasonable hours and pull weight for each other if someone needs it. No one is ever forced to socialize and about 1-2 times a year I take everyone out to lunch if they want to go.

      So yes, these places do exist…promise.

      1. Nervous Nellie

        Oh, somewhere over the rainbow! Victoria, Please – that sounds heavenly. I think all of us like-minded AAMs should start a business together (Llama Groomers International). I promise you we will get a great plumber! :)

    6. Wishing You Well

      Of course the working world is better than it looks here on AAM! AAM is for work problems. Okay-ness is on another site!

    7. Montresaur

      I’m a freelancer in a creative field, with most of my clients and colleagues in different cities than where I live and work. I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot: everyone calls in to meetings on time, zero energy is spent babysitting anyone’s ego, and we’re able to quickly align on projects and adapt to changes smoothly. It’s definitely collaborative over competitive, and our work is better for it. These situations do exist, in many fields and industries! I had several toxic years myself, and I have such an appreciation for healthy work relationships now.

      I believe you’ll find something positive, and wish you well on your search!

    8. Double A

      I am consistently impressed by the commitment and professionalism of my colleagues! If I were to write in to AAM, it would be a question about dealing with a personality difference that is creating a training challenge. The challenge has nothing to do with maturity or someone who doesn’t understand workplace norms, just your basic is-this-person-a-good-fit type issue.

      I work at the nexus of education and law enforcement, two fields that are often a source of controversy, and I’m just so impressed by how committed and caring my colleagues are. We’ve worked hard to build bridges between our two groups, and the communication is open, honest, and respectful. And we have fun. And we’re public employees, which can sometimes be a place where people coast, but I don’t find that’s really the case in our facility.

      We also all have really different political ideologies and yet manage to work together seamlessly and with lots of respect towards a common compassionate goal, which gives me hope for, like, America in general.

      I’m on maternity leave right now (due in 1 week!) and while I’m way too tired to be working, I otherwise really miss my job.

  41. Theory of Eeveelution

    Honest confession time…

    For the first time ever, I’m part of a hiring committee, and boy oh boy do I HATE the narrative cover letters we’re getting. I feel bad saying this because they’re basically following Alison’s cover letter advice by personalizing the letter and adding a human touch, but UGH, I feel like these useless statements are wasting my time. I really, really don’t need to know what happened in your childhood that gave a you “a lifetime love of [POSITION].” Just tell me what you’re good at, in college-level sentence structure! And if you’re wondering, this is a creative position, and I’m in the same creative position, and I STILL hate these cover letters. Maybe I’m just a miser! I will tell you, though, that the people who have the more efficient cover letters are getting the interviews…

    1. The Original K.

      I’m curious: can you give an example of a “more efficient cover letter?” Does it summarize the resume, focus on achievements, use bullets?

    2. CatCat

      What does the job advertisement tell people to do? If you don’t want narratives, the advertisement can direct people to respond to discrete questions.

    3. AnotherJill

      When I last worked, I was on several hiring committees and was a little fascinated by the various committee members responses to cover letters.

      Many did not read them at all. Some only read them if they had a question about someone on the resume – like an employment gap or something unclear about their experience. I usually skimmed over them, but only at the end when finalizing interview spots. It was really, really rare that the cover letter made any difference in interview decisions.

      1. medium of ballpoint

        Agreed. I think cover letter are generally a measure of how well a person has learned to write a cover letter and little else. A good writer with good coaching can write a letter that makes a terrible candidate look fantastic and vice versa, so I’m usually looking only for red flags or seriously atypical accomplishments.

        1. Friday afternoon fever

          Yeah, I definitely use them mostly to find red flags. (Your whole biography? Byeeee) But I won’t sneeze at another chance to screen out red flags before the interview. (It clearly says “send resume and cover letter to this email” and you didn’t bother to even include the BRIEFEST of “I am excited to apply please see attached resume” cover letters? I now have serious concerns about your ability to follow instructions)

    4. Mickey Q

      I agree. If it doesn’t have bullet points I’m probably not going to read it. If I get 200 applicants I have about 10 seconds to decide if it goes in the yes or no pile. I don’t know why she said to use that style. I don’t want 3 paragraphs about how the applicant has great attention to detail. It’s tedious.

    5. Friday afternoon fever

      Oh, I disagree! I think a good cover letter will tell you things about the applicant that can’t be captured in the resume — both soft skills they write about, and things you can tell from what and how they write, like, did they even bother to write a cover letter at all? Why are they applying for this job, if they seem over- or under- or differently qualified or want to switch fields? Did they research your company at all or are they mailing out 60 identical applications? Can they write a complete sentence? Do they think you will care about their childhood journey?

      In my interpretation Alison’s advice to personalize the cover letter does NOT mean to give your biography and childhood story. It means to tailor the letter to each position and take the time to give the company a good sense of who you are as a worker and prospective employee.

      I think most people write terrible cover letters. I don’t think that the problem is the cover letter itself.

      1. Friday afternoon fever

        I was hired for my job out of a pool of 300 candidates. Based on my resume you would not think I was a natural fit. I would bet money the reason I was offered an interview is because I wrote a damn good cover letter.

        I have hired and most people …. do not write good cover letters. I think it’s a tool most people don’t use as well as they could. Maybe that does speak to its efficacy as a tool. (And certainly there are many positions that truly don’t need a cover letter.)

    6. Marshal P

      It doesn’t sound like those applicants are actually following Alison’s advice effectively, nor that you are understanding her advice, frankly, given your characterisation of it here. So it’s probably not surprising that these specific cover letters are not successful, if they are poorly written AND being read by people who lack understanding of how to hire effectively.

      You don’t sound like a miser. You sound poorly equipped to be in a hiring committee.

  42. SaraV

    So here’s a new one…
    I interviewed for a job last Wednesday, and I felt it went really well. My interviewer said she wanted to contact my previous manager (no problemo), and that I should hear from her on Monday, and if not Monday, then definitely Tuesday. So Monday rolls around…no call. Tuesday…still no call. The interviewer said she wouldn’t been in on Wednesday, so didn’t expect one then. So I’m hemming and hawing whether to call her yesterday or not. Finally, a phone call late yesterday morning. “So, I would like to offer you the job right now, but weirdly enough…we’ve run out of drug tests!” This is a semi-related retail position, and she says they’ve hired around 30 people in the past two weeks. Policy is that once they offer, you have 48 hours to report for the drug test. [Cheek swab] So, they can’t offer until they know when they’ll have drug tests on hand.
    All of this to say…I’m THIS >< close to getting a full-time job in what sounds like a position I will really enjoy at a company that I’ve heard is a good one to work for. Not quite in the position where I want to be long-term, I think, but a great stepping stone.

    1. Arjay

      Congratulations!

      Is it normal for a company to perform a drug test in-house? I’ve always had to do urine tests, which hopefully obviously, required a trip to the lab.

      1. SaraV

        Arjay…this is a large-ish grocery store chain that has those quick care/walk-in clinics included inside of them. I’m GUESSING that’s where it will be performed. Yeah, my mind went to urine test, too, when she mentioned a drug test. Forgetting about the attached clinic, I thought “Urine test and grocery store just doesn’t seem like a good mix.”

  43. The One With The Cooties

    Okay, so my so-called “team”/officemates hate my guts. One of them bullied me for a while. All of them do not speak to me unless they absolutely have to for work reasons, and our workloads almost never overlap. I have asked to get moved out of here 4 times so far and have been told things like “there’s no room.”
    Well, one of my coworkers in my old office space is moving and her desk will be open. I would LOVE to go back there. I have a meeting with my boss today and I want to bring this up again for time #5. I don’t really have any advantage to argue for them to move me other than to make them and me happier, though. But come on, who here wants to spend 40 hours a week, 70% of their life, with people who hate them? I spend more time with people who hate me than people who like me. It’s like No Exit.
    The only arguments I can think of to keep me here is “they’re your team” (barf, they are not, see above), and that I have an assistant who is also in here part time. I’m supposed to be sharing him but they hardly ever use him. There would not be room to move him into my old office, which is pretty small but at least the people there like me. I don’t really have a good argument against the convenience of my being next to him, which I am now. But I really really want out of here. I don’t want to officially leave “the team,” I just don’t want to have to see them unless I absolutely have to for team meetings (which we rarely have because of their obvious hate for me during them).
    Any suggestions on how to tackle this one again?

      1. The One With The Cooties

        I’m going to, but boss is well aware of those things happening already. I’m just so sick of this stressful environment. I had to go to a medical professional about how I’m so stressed out this week.

        1. The New Wanderer

          Disclaimer – I don’t have any experience with the formal process, but it seems to me that if the situation is aggravating a medical condition (stress, anxiety, whatever), you should be able to ask for an accommodation. I assume if your boss insists you have to make it a formal thing, you could get documentation from the medical professional to back your claim.

    1. More anon than normal

      Good luck.

      Also, are you job hunting? Because that seems like a better long term option :-(

    2. Monty and Millie's Mom

      You have the advantage of knowing there is space available now, so start with that. Say that you know it’s open and because of the previous reasons you’ve talked about, you’d like to move ASAP because those reasons are still valid. Good luck!

      1. The One With The Cooties

        I asked someone in my old office and she said “they’re already planning on moving someone else in there.”

        NEVER EFFING MIND.

        1. valentine

          It’s not too late. Tell your boss, “The ostracization is aggravating a medical condition that negatively affects my work. I would be able to (verb better/faster/more) in office x (or literally anywhere else). Is this an accommodation you can provide?” There’s no room? Pshaw. They can shuffle)

  44. Anon for this

    All – I feel like if anyone has a magic bullet answer to this then they could probably be a millionaire marketing it, but just looking for some tips.

    How do you keep your focus at work when you have some kind of personal life drama eruption?

    I’m not talking about long term stuff, but more like someone lays a grenade (figurative) at your feet and you are trying to do damage control but also trying to, you know, do your job? Do you just do the best you can and muddle through? I feel like I do pretty well with compartmentalizing if I am just sad/grieving, but I am a problem solver so I feel like when something is unresolved I can’t relax until it is. Which translates into being distracted at work when these things happen.

    1. Bea

      I’ve handled a rocky patch in a relationship and my dad’s health crisis by leaving the “baggage” at the door. I let everyone know about my dad and that helped massively, just having my coworkers know if I’m “off”, they can have background to my bad days.

      I use long walks on my spare time to talk to myself and give myself pep talks. So I’m not buried in the sand all day or at night I couldn’t sleep. I think about “this is scary and hurts but I love my boss and coworkers and they need me to do my job.” i can’t just curl up and die, I don’t have kids but I’ve got enough people who depend on me in some way I use that to squeeze myself through life’s insanity.

    2. CTT

      I’m also a problem-solver, so I get it. What’s worked best for me is to recognize that I can’t fix some things in my life, but I can do my job well. Which I realize sounds a bit like “just ignore your problems!” but it’s more looking at what’s on your plate and seeing what you can “fix.” On the list of things you have to do today, you can probably read a report/get on a call/work your shift; you probably can’t cure cancer or mediate a divorce today. Looking at things that way has also helped me find the things I can do for whatever personal situation is going on, like asking if I can bring by a meal to stick in the freezer, or take their dog for a walk, etc.

      1. Namast'ay in Bed

        I’m also a problem-solver, so I totally get it too. I went through a rough period in my personal life about two years ago with my dad’s health crisis and I wish I could have handled it differently in my professional life. I’m a “everything is fine because it has to be fine (but things aren’t actually fine)” type of person and was convinced I was good at compartmentalizing things. It turns out I was not actually compartmentalizing things, I was just pretending everything was fine and denying that my stress and worry existed, all the while it bled out into my work life. But the big issue was that I didn’t realize I was doing that – it’s only with the benefit of hindsight (and therapy) that I was able to recognize how I was (or not) handling things.

        I agree with CTT that it’s important to recognize that you can’t fix some things but you can do your job well – but make sure you actually recognize this at a deep level. I would have said that I understood that at the time, but to me that manifested as a shallow understanding of it at a surface level. Like, of course I can just do my job well, duh! No reason to think scary thoughts about possibly losing my dad 30+ years before I thought I would even have to think about stuff like that, and that won’t happen because it can’t happen, so why bother ever even think about that, hahahahahaha I’ll just do my job like normal because everything is normal! [grins like a totally-not-crazy person]

        I was clearly in denial about things. And maybe your experience is different from mine, and maybe you are in a healthier mental place than I was, but the advice I would give myself if I could go back in time is to not pretend everything is ok and assume you can squish all negative feelings down and carry on like normal. Because things aren’t normal – and that’s ok. You can’t compartmentalize everything all the time, and expecting 100% separation of work and home for 40+ hours a week is just an unreasonable expectation to put on yourself. It’s ok to be sad and scared, and it’s ok to not always be 100% at work all the time. There’s absolutely no shame in letting your coworkers/manager know that you’re dealing with some stuff outside of work, and while you’re doing your best it might still slip in from time to time.

        I wish you all the best with things. I hope you check back in, I found sharing with others helped me a lot, and the AAM community is a great group of people for doing that if therapy isn’t for you, or to supplement the work you’re doing yourself. I’m rooting for you!

    3. Persimmons

      I make a mental flow chart. Can I handle this immediately? Yes/no. If yes, do X. If no, what I can do right now that will help? Even mentally planning talking points for a difficult conversation to be had later can be “doing something”. Is the answer to “what can I do right now that will help” nothing? Then, end of chart. Rehash your path through the chart as needed.

      (And yes, typing this all out does make me realize how strongly I am wired for software dev.)

      1. irene adler

        This is good. Along the same lines:
        Make an appointment with yourself to work on the situation.
        Like 3 pm Sat. for 30 minutes. Or once a day at a specific hour. Pencil it into your calendar.
        During the week, whenever your mind drifts over to your personal situation, stop yourself. Say to yourself, “nope! I will think about this at my appointment time. That’s when I’ll worry about the situation. Now, I must get back to the task at hand.” Keep repeating this to yourself.
        And yes, keep the appointment – as needed.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot

      This is me this week. A grenade went off, with permanent, unfixable consequences. Honestly, I’m actively trying to view work as a refuge from what’s going on at home. Work is predictable, there are acceptable rules and standards of behavior, and clear consequences for violations of that standard. Which in my case right now serves as an excellent counterbalance to the mess at home.

      I’m also doing my best not to cry, though there have been one or two retreats to the bathroom. My coworkers have a general idea of what’s happening, so they know I may be a bit distracted. I just try to focus on getting work done, and if there’s a little more internet time, well, I’m still hitting my deadlines.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot

          Thanks. Unfortunately, it’s a mess that I didn’t create, it’s beyond my control, and unless I have legal recourse, I probably just have to ride it out. (yes, consulting with a lawyer)

  45. Bea

    My first experience with someone taking my food stash in the freezer. I’m not even mad, someone must have been starving to lift a frozen pot pie. I keep a couple frozen snacks in there for days I feel extra hungry. The freezer is rarely used and the thing is never over crowded. I’m the only one who goes through and throws out the old AF bbq items that find their way in there after a company picnic. So I’m just super curious about the whole thing.

    Interesting start to my morning. TGIF, AAM crew!

    1. marie callendar

      once, i was stuck at work for an unexpected meeting, was desperately hungry, and did not have the money to eat out. i ate a coworker’s frozen burrito. thanks for being understanding about your coworker’s hunger – i hope whomever i borrowed from was similarly kind. if i’d known whose it was, i would’ve paid them back.

  46. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)

    I’ve just received a spam email from a job portal I’m subscribed to saying “Become a more attractive candidate! Upload your video resume and photo now!”
    Yikes.

    1. London Calling

      Hahahahahahaha. On my cv I’m an attractive candidate – polished, professional, hardworking, mature, you name it. The camera HATES me. Any vid or pic is going to make me look like the mugshot of a Victorian baby murderer and any recruiter would drop it with a shriek of horror. Damn it, I do the same and I’m used to my face in pictures.

      Nope nope nope. I like working and I like the money. Use a vid or a pic and I’ll never work again.

  47. TheWonderGinger

    This more of a rant than anything but want to get it off my chest:

    Overall, currentjob has been great about me leaving in two weeks.

    My grandboss will be gone on my actual day, so on Wednesday she brought in a treat for us. The kicker though, is it was a treat that I can’t eat because it physically makes me sick. She even came up to me and said, “Diana, I know you can’t have any but I brought treat for your last day”. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

    I’m a little salty about this. I have spent a lot of time and money organizing showers and parties for coworkers, I genuinely enjoy doing that, but when it comes my turn to be celebrated I get something that they KNOW I can’t eat.

    1. Sylvia

      That’s very, very weird. Maybe she forgot about your allergy until the last minute and didn’t know how to handle it?

      1. TheWonderGinger

        That’s what I would like to think too, like she got to work with said treat and saw my Allergy sheet on my cube ( I keep it posted because of scary reactions) and went oh crap…

    2. Bea

      WTF.

      I was expecting it to be an accident that she didn’t know you can’t eat it. But the swerve about “I know you can’t have any but this is your bon voyage treat!…” is bizarre and seems passive aggressive.

      If it was an error like mentioned above, I would apologize and tell you that I was going to get you something you can eat…that’s a “FML! I’ll bring you lunch to make up for my brain fart” moments.

      1. TheWonderGinger

        Yeah, that was the weirdest part.

        And I get that you can’t keep track of EVERYONE’S dietary restrictions but it was like well, you get what you get . *shrugs*

      1. TheWonderGinger

        She later made a passing joke about me being dead to her (for leaving) and I dead panned, “Is that why you tried to kill me with the treat?”.

        She at least looked somewhat ashamed.

    3. AdminX2

      So uncool. It’s why I’m such a big proponent of NO birthday things, cause I know I’d have to be the one ending up tracking it all and no one would do it for me.

      1. Bea

        I hate my birthday. So I’m delighted to be the tracker and wonderfully ignored on the day I’m usually struggling feeling old.

  48. Calendar Judge

    Random workplace decor question: one of my coworkers has a Vladimir Putin wall calendar. Like, each month is a giant picture of Putin. I hate it, but I’m not sure if I should just let it go. On a inappropriate calendar scale, from kittens to actual pornography, where does “propaganda photos of murderous dictators involved in attacks on our election system” fall?

    1. Murphy

      I assume it’s not some kind of comedic, ironic Putin calendar? If not, WTF I can’t believe they actually make those.

      1. Annie Moose

        Yeah, for example my coworker has a pack of cards with Putin pictures. It’s a complete joke and is not at all intended as an endorsement of Putin; on the contrary, it’s mocking him and his supposedly “cool guy” image. Is it possible it’s intended that way?

      2. Alton

        They definitely make them! I was looking at wall calendars on Amazon last year, and kept coming multiple Putin calendars. It’s a surprisingly popular niche. They appear to be genuine (as in, meant to be a positive depiction of him), but it’s definitely possible that the co-worker got it because they found it funny.

    2. ExcelJedi

      I mean….

      Is he Russian, or would he have some other reasonable reason to have it up? Otherwise, it sounds as though he’s a troll, putting up something clearly politically contentious at work and probably hoping for a fight. Given that, I’m not sure I would do much more than roll my eyes at it.

    3. Captain Planet (nee Snark)

      Depends on whether they’re his “I am Rooshian superman, see me shirtless astride mighty steed in vilderness” photos, or the ones with him just in a suit or whatever. Either way, HAHAHA NAH FAM

      1. Book Badger

        > “I am Rooshian superman, see me shirtless astride mighty steed in vilderness”
        I wish I could like/upvote your comment for this bit alone.

        1. Indefinite Contract Attorney

          I used to have a photo of Daniel Craig shirtless in a bathing suit standing in the ocean on my wall in college. My mother was APPALLED and wouldn’t stop telling me she could not BELIEVE I would have his photo on the wall.
          Finally I said “What’s wrong with the James Bond actor? I thought you liked those movies.”
          She literally thought I was idolizing Putin.

    4. Perse's Mom

      Counter with a similar calendar of Pu$$y Riot?

      Or do your best to ignore it AND him (so much as you can while remaining professional). He’s telling you a lot about himself with this behavior, and none of it’s positive, but unless your company has a clear history of cracking down on things like this, I doubt it’s worth bringing up to your or his manager.

    5. AnotherJill

      Unless something is overtly pornographic or violent, I don’t think you really can complain. Personally, I would put Putin calendars somewhere under rainbow farting unicorn calendars in terms of annoyance.

    6. Faith

      As someone who was born in Ukraine, in the territory that is currently under Russian occupation, and who had to hear my grandfather tell stories about how many houses in his village got destroyed in the recent strikes by Russian insurgents, I would have a HUGE issue with this calendar (if it’s not an obvious satirical piece). But I’m really touchy about things like that.

  49. Jenna Maroney

    Problem I’m having at work that I don’t know how to approach:

    I work in NYC. I work as part of a reception team at a hedge fund. We are employed by a (useless) staffing firm that provides some of the admins for the hedge fund. None of us are paid enough to live in Manhattan.

    I have a coworker, Marissa, who is currently being hounded by USF and I think it’s awful and want to do something. Some background– over the last five years, MTA has gotten notably worse to the point where there are regular articles about it and it’s a “thing” in the city (fellow NYC commenters, I’m sure you know what I mean). If you live in an outer borough and there’s a subway issue anywhere in Manhattan, it’s not impossible that your commute will be seriously disrupted.

    So anyway, Marissa. She’s been working long shifts (7:30am-6:00pm) every day for the last five weeks. Because she lives way, WAY out in Brooklyn, she sometimes arrives a few (think less than 5) minutes outside the designated start time. That being said, there are two team members who arrive in the office at 7:00, in addition to myself who arrives at 7:30 (and I work on the floor above hers, so it’s no trouble at all for me to hop down one flight of steps in case I’m needed there for whatever reason). This has been happening a lot, yes, but she’s already leaving her apartment at 6:00 (waking up at 4:30) to get to NYC on time (and again, the subways have been even worse in the last five years or so). She’s always been a great employee when she’s here (USF has said this more than once).

    So USF has given her two write ups, saying she is abusing their late policy b/c our contract with the hedge fund requires that staff be here starting at 7:00. They are not taking the OVER A MONTH’S WORTH of overtime into consideration, nor her early hours or general burnout. On a slightly pettier note, we’re given lousy pay and benefits and get nothing from the company in return.

    So I guess my question is this: am I wrong for thinking USF is following the letter of the law rather than the spirit, and being accodingly upset? Is there anything I/my coworkers can do for her? Can we refuse anything beyond the basic scope of our job in protest/recognition that it won’t mean a damn thing to USF?

    1. ExcelJedi

      I may be being unnecessarily cold here, but: Your staffing firm thinks of you as a product to sell to a hedge fund, not human beings. This is doubly true if they’re writing her up based on time cards, not complaints from the hedge fund.

      I’ve worked at firms like this, and they care about their reputation and relationship with the hedge fun, not their staffers. I’ve also worked at good agencies who understand that keeping their staffers healthy and protected increases their longevity at companies and generally makes them look better and get better contracts. I would be just as upset as you are, and I would be looking for another job.

      1. Jenna Maroney

        Believe me, I’ve already got two recruiter calls scheduled today. Oy!

        USF is on thin ice with the hedge fund after it was revealed that white receptionists were getting away with things that got non-white receptionists fired. They also fired a girl for taking too much sick time off. The reason was follow up appointments for the miscarriage she suffered (at work, no less!)

        1. Nita

          So USF is in trouble with the hedge fund… what about the staff who works for USF? What’s your relationship with hedge fund management like? I don’t know if this is a crazy idea, but maybe the hedge fund can arrange to hire all of you directly, or find another staffing firm and get them to take everyone on board.

          Also, I don’t know if this is helpful but the MTA has a page on their website that provides verification of train delays. Just google “Subway Delay Verification” and it should come up. My husband’s job is also strict about showing up on time, and they consider lateness verified through this website as excused absence.

          1. Jenna Maroney

            Well hedge fund would never in a million years hire us directly (that would mean they’d have to pay us a decent wage and give benefits, hence using USF). However, we’re generally loved by hedge fund staff because we’re smart, interesting young women who do their jobs well (barring some glaring exceptions).

            They know all about the delays– they just keep chirping about the contract and tell her to leave even earlier (which I could understand a bit, I guess, if it weren’t for the WEEKS worth of 11hr shifts)

            1. Jenna Maroney

              (The reason I know that is that USF was brought in by the hedge fund to replace a different USF after the contract was up)

            2. Lily Rowan

              That pisses me off — the amount they are paying USF probably WOULD be a decent wage if they gave all of it to you directly! I mean, right?

    2. Bea

      Sadly they follow the letter of the law instead of the spirit because they’re cold, detached and lazy.

      My mom’s department was outsourced years ago. They were required to keep their staff and roll over the time off benefits as part of the agreement. New employees did not get the same PTO just the grandfathered ones. So after a few years the nonsense about her PTO being screwed around with was baffling. Now they’re unionised with a CBA. And the struggle is still so real making these scummy poorly trained “HR” professionals do their jobs and understand the CBAs involved.

      Are there unions in that useless staffing agency? That’s saved a lot of heartache. They only do what they’re forced into. But that’s a long tedious process to enter and takes massive organization.

    3. LCL

      I am on the left coast and know about the woes your transit system is having. It’s made the New York Times and national news. New York’s public transit system is also cited in local arguments as something that works and we should all admire and emulate, but that is off topic. So yeah, I think USF are being jerks and ignoring reality. From what I understand of New York, most people don’t drive and couldn’t because they don’t own cars. It SEEMS like a company in New York would be better at handling the problems caused by transit, but USF is being stupid.

      1. Jenna Maroney

        USF isn’t seeing the forest for the trees, I think. They’re desperately trying to do whatever they can to salvage this contract except what would actually work… paying/giving benefits to a dedicated admin staff with low turnover (because they’re not being treated poorly).

    4. Jenna Maroney

      Side question: is there anything the anchor receptionists can do as a group to push back against how our coworker is being treated? I don’t know enough to know.

    5. Manu

      Who is creating the time cards? If it is the hedge fund, and they like you, perhaps they can fudge them so that it looks like your colleague is getting in on time? I’m generally not for time-card fraud (and I don’t want any of you to get fired for it!), but depending on how they record time, it might be simple enough to round down to the required start time.

      1. Jenna Maroney

        We clock in on Workday, and our site manager who is employed by USF (and is spearheading the rules-lawyering) is in charge of overseeing them :/

  50. TK

    I wrote in last week that my husband was getting a job offer out in Silicon Valley, and we were considering relocating. We have now accepted, and will need to move across the country. But I want to share how AMAZING my team has been, upon learning the news that I’d be leaving.

    They have offered to keep me on as a remote worker (not common at our company) for as long as I need, through December if necessary, to allow me to relocate and continue getting a paycheck while I look for jobs in the new city. What great peace of mind, to be able to continue doing the job I enjoy with people I know & love, while getting settled and interviewing at new places. I am so grateful for the team and it’ll be hard to say goodbye when I ultimately need to stop working with them!

    1. AnonJ

      If this transition period works well, with you working remotely, and your team being supportive, and you doing a job you enjoy with people you know and love…do you really need to say goodbye or could it just be a new hello? Is it a good opportunity for your company to more fully explore remote workers perhaps, especially once they’re established and proven?

      Of course, there may be any number of reasons why it doesn’t work long term for you or your current employer, but at the moment everyone seems on board for the short term. Maybe it could work for the longer term? Would you like that or do you want to establish yourself in a physical setting with a new group?

      Either way…it’s a refreshing story and I wish you the best with your big move!

  51. DaniCalifornia

    I dread work everyday. I probably cry at least once a week before going in. I’m completely 100% drained of an overall toxic job. Every time I think I could stay here something else happens that proves I need to leave. The latest example was our boss not even coming in on deadline day. Instead he played 18 holes and asked me to do his work. And this was a tax season deadline. I’m job hunting but after some initial success it’s been quiet. As we get closer to the holiday season I know things slow down. I’m dreading January because it will feel like I *can’t* leave. Logically I know I can, 2 weeks is professional and norm but I know I wouldn’t take kindly to a coworker leaving in the middle of tax season. We are a very small office. I would burn a serious bridge and really the only job that can speak to my skills (previous job1 closed down a long time ago, and previous job 2 was well over a decade ago.) The only upside of tax season is that is goes by so quickly.

    I’ve read the Captain Awkward blog about depression/work, and Alison’s advice. I’m currently keeping my dr/meds situation under control and updating/adjusting as needed. But the dread. The tears that want to come daily. The frustration of my coworkers who don’t do their jobs. My boss being completely absent. My supervisor who practices nepotism with the only coworkers I directly work with all day (they are her friend and one is family.) It all adds up to the perfect storm of a toxic job and I want to run away. I just can’t anymore. I have good support from my spouse. But I’ve been hating this job for well over a year. I know others have been in my shoes. How did you manage?

    1. Jenna Maroney

      I’m in the same boat. I want to quit and find a temp job (w/o benefits, boooo) and hope I find something before my 3mos of medication runs out. I can’t stand being around these people another second.

    2. Kramerica Industries

      I want to say that I was on the same boat. Then I came here and read that other people were just as unhappy as I was, so I felt less alone.

      Among other things, I decided that I was going to put out as much effort as I was getting back. I understand where my office’s level of “doing good work” is, but I’m not going to kill myself trying to do exceptional work if the bare minimum is what is accepted. Screw ’em, you’re not doing this for them. You’re doing your work for yourself. You’re doing it so you can move onto bigger and better things.

    3. Icontroltherobots

      1) you can quit that job. I quit toxic accounting job on august 22 (heavy 1120 work). Guess what?! years later no one remembers and I get great recommendations.
      2) DETACH – there is no such thing as a tax emergency, the deadlines don’t sneak up on you, if the returns don’t get filed on-time, no one’s going to jail/dying. I 100% mean this.

      Doing your best does not mean working yourself to the point of a mental breakdown

    4. I'm A Little Teapot

      Keeping job hunting. Accounting firms often try to hire end of year or early in the year for busy seasons, right? Which means hopefully it’ll pick up soon.

    5. Bea

      NO. You do not owe anyone in that office your health. You need to leave and to hell with the wreckage behind you. They all need to leave too.

      I walked out (well gave 2 weeks) before the year end close. They can figure it out. They were toxic and I was going towards a nervous breakdown. You’re more important than that trap.

      1. Not So NewReader

        WTH is wrong with companies that people have to take pills to cope with their jobs. OP, if you don’t have to stay then just leave. Give your notice and leave. Your paycheck covers your labor only, it does not cover your labor, your health and the best years of your life. There is not enough money in the world to compensate us for the latter two.

        You and your spouse can put your heads together and find a way out of this. My husband and I reduced our expenses to the bone, to get him out of a crappy job. We could have lived off my check if need be. Finally after a while he made the jump to a job that he was unbelievably happy at.

        My boundary is tears. If I am crying because of a job it is time to leave, period. I know me, I put a lot into my jobs, I work hard and I will take on most projects. I can’t tolerate nastiness.

        Sit with your hubby and make a list of actionable steps the two of you can take so you can get out of this place. THIS YEAR. Before December. Do not continue to force yourself to work in a toilet bowl of a place.

  52. FinallyFriday

    Any advice for dealing with an employee that is incredibly overworked and also incredibly necessary. He’s told me direcythat if he doesn’t get a significant raise this year he’ll start looking elsewhere. I don’t have that authority and I’ve raised it to those who do on multiple occasions, but I’m not getting much traction. They all know how necessary this employee is.

    To complicate things further his attitude has taken a sharp turn for the worse in the last few months. I’m wary of coming down too hard on him because I’m afraid he’ll just leave. However I also cannot allow him to continue snapping at other employees and setting a bad example for junior members of the department.

    And just for another layer, this person and I used to be on the same level and even started on the same day. When our manager left I went out for the job and this person did not. I’ve been his boss for about 7 months now.

    1. Jenna Maroney

      I mean, it’s partly on the company for not paying him what he’s worth. Sucks that you’re the one suffering for it.

    2. Captain Planet (nee Snark)

      Sounds like natural consequences! It’s too bad it’ll suck for you, naturally, but this is not an employment market that favors the employer at the moment, and not all of them got that memo.

    3. CatCat

      This seems like a situation where you have to evaluate what you can and can’t do and plan accordingly. The writing is on the wall here. The odds are that the employee, I’ll call him Ned, is going to be leaving. So that’s what you have to work with.

      You have tried to go to bat for this employee, but it has not gained traction. You can’t do anything about that other than to explain to higher ups that Ned is planning to leave, which it sounds like you have done. You should seek direction from them. “Since it’s pretty likely that Ned is going to be leaving, it’s going to be a challenging time. I was thinking we should do [whatever the things are] to ease the transition and get a prompt recruitment for his role when he gives notice. What do you think?”

      Since you know that Ned is planning to leave, start working with him to document what you can about what he does. You also need to address the snappishness. You cannot have him kill morale or your reputation as a manager on his way out the door.

      “Ned, I have gone to bat for a raise, but I am not getting a lot of traction. I understand that means you’ll be looking for a new position, which I completely understand. I wish you the best in your job search. In the meantime, let’s plan to [document whatever, train other on whatever] to smooth the transition when it comes. I’ll look to schedule some times where we can [do all that stuff].

      I also want to talk about your interactions with colleagues. I know you’ve been frustrated about the raise situation, but I need you to not snap at your coworkers. Can you do that?”

      1. The One With The Cooties

        Yeah, I think Ned is just going to leave at this point and you will be screwed at some point, so plan ahead for it.

      2. medium of ballpoint

        This is a great suggestion. A boss did something similar when I left my last job and I really appreciated it.

      3. Bea

        That will push him out even quicker.

        As a former Ned, the minute my attitude was brought up and nitpicked, I bounced within a month. I wouldn’t have had time to do procedure docs even if they were smart enough to ask. They’re still struggling to fill my spot and it serves them right.

        So give Ned space unless you just want an immediate vacancy.

        1. CatCat

          So they should just let Ned snap at his coworkers? Is bring that up that really being “nitpicky”? It’s a pretty big deal to allow that kind of thing. Giving someone space does not mean giving them carte blanche to be a dick to their colleagues!

        2. Astonished

          Really? You were snapping at your coworkers and being asked to treat others respectfully pushed you out the door? FinallyFriday has an obligation to the others in the office. Otherwise the message to the others is, too bad your skills are not super super valuable, so you deserve to be snapped at. That’s an excellent way to crush morale, and right when it needs to be really good because Ned is leaving regardless.

        3. Working Hypothesis

          Sounds like the kind of prima donna for whom, no matter how useful their skills, firing improves the whole tenor of the office, frankly. Nobody should be above the No Assholes Rule — that’s kind of the point of that principle. And nobody should be allowed to become so essential to any office that they can’t replace him if necessary… as Alison says, what if he’d been hit by a bus or something? So they should’ve made sure they were prepared to let him go all along… and if his attitude begins to suck, you treat it like any other employee and address it as a performance problem, explain the standards expected, and hold him to them with consequences for further failure to perform, including dismissal if it gets that far.

          If he leaves because you’re treating him the way you’d treat any other employee who was behaving like a jerk to his coworkers, you’re better off without him, no matter what work he does.

      4. Lehigh

        If he’s snappish because he’s disappointed about the raise, I agree with CatCat. He needs to know that you will support his job search and he can’t take his disappointment out on coworkers. The higher-ups will just have to help you after their inaction runs him out.

        If he’s snappish because he’s overworked, you need to put a stop to the overwork before you come down on the attitude. Or at the same time. “Hey, Ned, I’m hearing you (or noticing) that you’re overworked. Let’s take X and Y off your plate. I’ve also noticed you’ve been impatient with coworkers, and I hoping that if we get you some breathing room in your workload you can moderate those reactions.”

        This guy is leaving. There’s no point in grinding the last few weeks’ worth of overwork out of him while he tanks your whole team’s morale.

    4. Perse's Mom

      It might help him a lot if you’re very honest and basically tell him all this. It might cut down on his negativity if he knows explicitly how much you value him and that you’re trying like hell to get him the raise he deserves. Either way, you’re well within bounds to remind him that while you understand his frustration (and you know his value and are fighting to get him that raise), he still needs to behave professionally.

      Have you been crystal clear with the people who “know how necessary this employee is” that he’s a flight risk if he doesn’t get a substantial raise? Do they have a history of ignoring this kind of thing and then being shocked (shocked!) when someone actually leaves?

      If nothing else, be honest that while you’re trying to get him that raise, you’re not getting the sense that it will happen – or if it does, it won’t be for as much as he wants. And if he does decide to start a job search, you recognize his contributions and will give him a glowing reference, etc etc.

    5. Chaordic One

      Is there anything you can do about the overwork? Reassign some of the workload to someone else? Bring in a temp to help out for a while?

      It sounds like he’s already got one foot out the door and you really need to let him go. You might even offer to be a job reference and praise him for all the work he’s gotten done. You should probably be documenting his work procedures and preparing a job description for when you get ready to hire his replacement.

    6. FinallyFriday

      Just to clarify, it’s not his specific work that makes him invaluable, it’s his experience in this position. The next most senior person who does the same job has only been on the team a few months. We’re getting new people in as well, but I need some people who know what they’re doing and can work somewhat independently as I’m in meetings for roughly half the week.

      I actually let “Ned” read the email I was sending up the chain so I could make sure he agreed with my characterization of the situation, so it was made very clear the situation we’re in.

    7. Not So NewReader

      Ask the Einsteins who are dragging their heels about his raise. “This guy is miserable here. He is not paid what he is worth and it shows in his attitude. We won’t give him a raise that he deserves and now he has attitude. If I speak to him about his attitude, he will walk. What would you like me to do?”

      This guy is probably a loss anyway because even if he gets he raise he is going to be very much aware of what it took to get the raise and how non-responsive the company was. Usually when people get this angry they are not apt to come down off the ceiling.

      And he has created a strange situation. So, if you give him this raise do you have to ask him to go back to being nice? What if he gets the raise and he does not go back to being nice?

      I find that much of life is an illusion. We think we need this or that and we actually do not. Probably when he leaves you will be surprised on how far you can get without him. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen things play out this way. At one place Valuable Employee fixed the furnace and saved us repair bills. Or so we thought. Once VE left, and the furnace got actually repaired, we no longer had to worry about one of us being able to fix the furnace. Turns out that all VE’s tweaks to the furnace prevented the needed repair from happening. That is a very simple example, I have others that are more complex.

      But more to the point I am concerned for you because this is how your company handles valuable people. So what does that bode for you in the future???

    8. AcademiaNut

      If he’s so overworked that he’s snapping at people out of exhaustion and frustration and you can’t get him a raise or a reduction in the work he’s doing, there’s not much you can do, other than to tell him straight out that nothing is going to change, and offer to give him a good reference and keep his job search confidential, so he can find something which either has a reasonable work load, or pays adequately for what he’s doing.

      The only other thing – decrease his workload to manageable levels so he is less stressed (and better rested) and defend your decision to the higher ups.

      But I agree with others that these are natural consequences. He knows that his employer doesn’t care how miserable he is as long as they get lots of cheap work out of him. That doesn’t make for happy employees. And if someone is overworked enough for long enough, something’s going to snap, and it sounds like his attitude was the breaking point.

  53. Levy Tate

    After staying home with my children for nearly a decade, I went back to work. Now, I did get a degree in that time, but I was still unemployed for the better part of 10 years.

    The company I work for has very nice people, but the environment is dysfunctional and disorganized. It’s hard to get a grip on what I am supposed to be doing at any given moment and my responsibilities change every day, I never know whether I’m coming or going. If other people let something fall through the cracks, somehow I get chastised for it.

    I want out, but I know they took a big chance on hiring someone who hadn’t worked in so long. I don’t know if anyone else would be as willing (or if they do, would they pay as well). How long should I stay to establish enough of a job history to be able to move on? Will my big employment gap follow me forever anyway and render my current employment time less important/irrelevant?

        1. Not So NewReader

          Start looking now. You will probably hit 1.5 or 1.75 years by the time you land something that you actually want. Don’t wait until the last minute to start looking.

    1. Four lights

      I can’t speak to the employment gap bit, but I think you’re coming down a little hard on yourself. It sounds like you think you don’t have much to offer. (“took a chance on me” “I don’t know if anyone else would be as willing”) I’m sure you’re a very talented and hard worker and anyone else would be lucky to have you–you’ll never know unless you try. It sounds like this first job you’ve had in a while is not great, and doesn’t give you a good measure of your skills, and it can be really hard to realize that it’s not you, it’s them.

      Also, you’re not the only one who took off a lot of time for raising kids, so I don’t think people will think it’s that strange.

      1. Chaordic One

        Four lights is right. You’re selling yourself short and after a year it is time to start looking around for other opportunities. Since you’re already employed you can be a bit picky and you don’t have to settle for the first thing that comes along if it isn’t a good fit. Get that resume updated and start applying. Good luck!

      2. Hamburke

        While four lights is right that you’re likely hard on yourself, I get it! I did about the same raising my kids and returning to work. I took classes, volunteered, tutored, had a craft business, did lots of things in the community, etc – so I wasn’t holed up at home, eating bonbbons, scrapbooking my children’s lives. I had probably 15 interviews before I found an admin job. Nothing has rocked my self-esteem so much since middle school as much as job searching after staying home with my kids.

        It felt like they were really taking a chance on me. That job was not a great fit. I stayed a year, worked to get a certification and left for a job I love! I was picky about what jobs I took thru an agency and wound up with a great job, great boss and hours that I want.

    2. Bea

      Once you’ve established you’re back in the workforce, your gap shouldn’t follow you around. It may be noticed but you’re “back” and that’s what counts.

      Start making your escape plan while still working. While you may get fewer replies because you’ve got just over a year, it’ll be good to have feelers out.

      They didn’t do you a favor by hiring you. You’ve done all you can and they suck, you don’t owe them anything except staying professional and not taking a poo on anyone’s desk on your way out.

  54. E

    How do you deal with a boss who hates her job? Not a day goes by that she doesn’t complain about the substance of her job, other departments, or her own boss. Her boss is indeed difficult, so I sympathize but I’m at my wits end. She has almost cried twice in front of me in anger/fear. To complicate matters, I am very junior and very new – also, it is likely that everyone in the office except for me and 5 of the other most junior people will be laid off in January.

    1. Captain Planet (nee Snark)

      Oh god, this sounds exhausting. She’s putting you in a really awkward position, and it’s unfair for her to vent down like this.

    2. Be the Change

      Sigh. I’m very sorry. Not my boss, but my husband does this to me regarding his job. I have had to learn to let it just roll off. Listen neutrally, make neutral noises, and then ask if there is a task you need to do. Ignore emotional outbursts *unless* they cross the line of being abusive toward you or other subordinates.

      Captain Planet is right, SHE is not behaving well… sounds like a situation of “your boss is not going to change” so you have to decide how long you want to deal with it.

    3. WS

      Pretend you’re watching this on TV. Of course you’re sympathetic to the situation the character is in, but there’s nothing you can do about it. Polite listening and mild expressions of sympathy are it. She shouldn’t be dumping all this on you, but you’re not in a position where you can avoid her, unfortunately. On the bright side, this also means you have no responsibility towards her emotional needs or job woes either.

  55. Lore

    My job is about 1/3 being the second-in-command on a big-picture function for the department. For the entire time my job has included these responsibilities, my direct supervisor has been the manager of the big-picture function. Our department head has no involvement in that function at all. After a recent reorganization, I now report to the department head directly, but my former boss is still heading the BPF side of things, working 100 percent remotely. Old boss is not being super communicative about how things will work going forward in that area. I’ve specifically suggested that we divvy up responsibilities so everyone knows who to go to on which projects; old boss agrees in theory but then won’t follow through with making a plan. So now every time something needs doing, people are coming to me–as the person onsite–then I’m wasting a bunch of time trying to get answers from old boss, who after being nagged responds and then takes charge/credit for the final execution. I’ve mentioned my concerns to department head, but since department head is completely unaware of how BPF stuff even works, I am having a really hard time coming up with language to explain the problems I’m having in ways that don’t sound like I’m trying to make a power grab. Also I hate going behind the back of old boss, who I like and respect, but I’m super frustrated with the amount of nagging I’m already doing, and it’s only been a month. I need to follow up one more time with old boss next week to try and get the plan implemented, but if, as seems likely, that fails, how do I handle explaining the problems to department head/new boss in a way that’s likely to be productive?

    1. Not So NewReader

      I might not be reading this right so maybe this is for nothing.

      There’s a problem with the reporting structure here. Your Dept. Head has no stake in BPF, yet he is your immediate boss? Since he doesn’t know what you are doing he probably does not feel like he is truly your boss.
      Meanwhile the Old Dude thinks that you have a boss and all is well. So no one is being your boss.

      Why not send everyone who is coming to you on to those two bosses instead, don’t take their questions any more? They can each email/call him individually.

      Or drag in a big boss and ask him what to do.

      Or send an email to both old boss and dept. head and outline your current problems. Then say, “Because of difficulty in moving forward here, my other work is sliding. I have to put this on hold until I hear from you and I will do other work instead.”

      Or make a list of how many times you have to contact old boss to get an answer.
      “On 9/3 I had X question. I emailed and called old boss on 9/4, 9/5 and 9/7. He answered me on 9/13. This delayed steps 1 through 4. Which puts the whole thing behind schedule.”
      “On 9/4 I had Y question. I emailed boss on 9/4, 9/5 and on 9/10. He has not answered me yet. I missed the opportunity to take advantage of cost savings and now Y will be 20% more cost than it would have been if I had the answer on Y.”

      Over all pattern: Initial contact date and question. Follow up contact dates. Date you finally received an answer. How that delay hurt the company, project, team effort. You can show this to your immediate boss or to a big boss and ask them how they would like you to handle it.

      If the old boss means so much, then I would give him one final chance to NOT fall on his face. I’d send him an email, saying that the choppy communication is becoming a huge problem with many subset problems. Ask him what can be done so that you get information from him in a timely manner. Tell him it’s a real problem on your end and if you two cannot figure something out then you will have to go find help elsewhere. If he did not answer me, I would either move forward to my own supervisor or go to the big boss.

      I don’t cover for people. What happens is I am the one who ends up in a heap of crap, not the person I am covering for. Your boss may have been a great boss, but that has changed somehow. If you have to, say point blank, “Old Boss, you are not answering me and I don’t know what to tell people. I cannot work like this. If we can’t fix this, I will have to go talk to Dept. Head or Big Boss. I have no choice as I am failing to complete large aspects of my work and I have to report that to someone.”

      1. Lore

        You are absolutely right and thank you for laying it out so clearly. That’s kind of what I’d worked out but it’s great to see it confirmed.

  56. BusDude

    Ungh, I hate my work place situation now. I really wish I can take a few days off, but there just doesn’t seem to be anybody to take on my work while I am away. My leaves just gets deferred and deferred and deferred.

    1. WellRed

      That’s the company’s problem. How hard have you pressed for some time off and telling them it’s untenable for you not to use the leave you were promised as part of your compensation package (I assume). I mean, if there’s no one to do your work, they aren’t likely to fire you for bringing this up.

    2. LittleMissCrankyPants

      Quote: but there just doesn’t seem to be anybody to take on my work while I am away… Not your circus, not your monkeys! Take the time of you’re entitled to. The work is the *company’s* problem when you leave, not yours!
      Go!

  57. Juli G.

    Business fashion advice needed

    I’m going to a conference where the right entire is suit type wear. Due to weight gain, I don’t have a suit currently but I do have a new very nice dark gray blazer. What color pants do I wear with it? Black? I’m horrible about just buying stuff with no concept of how/when/what I’ll wear with it and we’ve had such a hot summer, I hadn’t thought about it until now.

    1. Putting Out Fires, Esq.

      I can commiserate. I haven’t had a trial in months, now I’ve got one coming on Monday and I’m 7 months pregnant. No suits for me!

      Black pants, navy would also work if you have them.

    2. CTT

      I would maybe take a picture of it (in good lighting) and bring it in and ask someone at the store to help you find things that match. I also have trouble matching business-y neutrals and I don’t trust my own judgement so for me it’s easiest to just bring in another person.

      1. Rusty Shackelford

        Honestly, I’d bring it to the store with you. Some greys are warm and others are cool, and it’s best to match them in person.

    3. Rusty Shackelford

      Black or navy pants would be good with dark gray. Even burgundy, if you run across that. Look for patterns too, like a plaid with gray in it, or a black and white houndstooth.

  58. Serious Pillowfight

    Has anyone here completely changed careers? Tell me about it. Why did you pick your new career? How long did it take to fully switch over? What new degrees or certs or training did you need?

    Currently in a low-paying career, frustrated with my company, and considering a change. I’m 35 with an MFA but I make $38,000 a year in writing/editing in a high COL area.

    1. Similar situation

      Aside from pay, how satisfied are you with your job/industry? Can you get a side hustle or a second job to supplement your income?

      I have a cousin who switched into UX. She paid a few grand for a boot camp, networked and now has a job paying in the 70K range. But while doing her 3 month apprenticeship, she made $15/hr and lived in a high COL city.

    2. De Minimis

      I switched from service industry/low level clerical work to accounting. I picked it because it seemed like a good way to get into a more professional career, and I knew I had some aptitude for numbers. I had a bachelor’s in English but never really did anything with it and fell into a light industrial job after graduation that I stayed in until my early 30s.

      I had to get a master’s in accounting which took me three years since I had to take a year of prerequisites. I got a job in public accounting right out of college, but then had a lot of ups and downs with the recession. I did manage to get a CPA license, which has helped though I’ve never really put it to actual use, and people don’t absolutely have to get one to have a good career in accounting. Since then I’ve worked in government and for a non-profit, and am now a federal contractor [and hoping to finish my career in government.] I was 33 when I went back to school.

      All in all, it’s worked out, though the problems I had with my first job and the recession I think caused me to have to go into a sector that will never really pay all that well, and I’ll most likely never advance much beyond the level I’m at now [sort of mid-level, no management/supervisory experience.] But it’s worked out for someone like me who doesn’t really live to work [which is part of why public accounting was totally wrong for me.]

      1. De Minimis

        Forgot to mention, I pretty much lived off student loans and help from family while I was in grad school, though some of that was because the program wasn’t designed for working adults so there was no way to do more than sporadic part-time work while in school.

    3. Sloan Kittering

      I have debated this (current job, nonprofit, not super lucrative, I have a Masters and seven years of experience). Part of what I come back to is that I honestly lack a lot of the skills that would be lucrative in today’s society. I would guess the steadiest/best money jobs are 1) something with finance or numbers – my friends who are accountants and actuary types seem to be pretty set, 2) something with software / computer stuff, or 3) something specialized in medicine. Okay and adding one more, 4) something with sales if you are really good at that kind of thing, which I am not. Given my lack of entry into those careers, I’m always going to be lower paid than the high cost of living in my city demands.

      1. Sloan Kittering

        Thinking about it more, I’m not sure this is helpful to OP without the end of the thought … “so I’ve realized I’m probably better positioned to stay in the field I’ve already made inroads in, and focus on maximizing the quality of life things I’m interested in (like work from home flexibility, flex hours, meaningful work, coworker relationships, etc) – things which my field is uniquely qualified to provide, in lieu of more money.”

    4. Anonymous Educator

      I’ve switched careers a couple of times. The first time I just applied for random jobs I wasn’t qualified for. It was tough getting a job in a completely different career. Eventually, one place just took a chance on me. The second time I was doing some “volunteer” work for another department that was understaffed and kind of learning on the job, and then the other department lobbied to create a position for me, and I got that job, and then stayed in that field after leaving the org.

      No new degrees or certs or official training in either case. Your mileage may vary, though.

    5. The Grammarian

      I switched from being a writing instructor and tutor to being a technical writer/documentation specialist. I took courses online for a technical writing certificate and kept applying until I found somewhere that would have me. Since my university job days, I have doubled my salary. (I’ve also moved from the south to the north, which I think has some impact as well.)

    6. Seifer

      I used to work in manufacturing and now I work in construction. Both times I worked in the engineering department. I think that was the key for me, to choose something that had some kind of connection to what I used to do. It is… VASTLY different than what I used to do, but I’m still able to apply the things that I learned there now that I’m here. It also helped that I used my network and ended up being recruited on the recommendation of a friend, so when I got frazzled I just went to his desk and was like help me.

      I don’t have a college degree and my old boss didn’t want me to get one because then I’d have aspirations about being an engineer and he’d have to pay me more. My current boss gently encouraged me to suck it up and get the degree so that I’d have more credibility. I was worried, at first, that not having it would hold me back, but I got hired anyway. So those were my criteria for changing industries–a common link, and no degree necessary.

  59. Let's Sidebar

    I’m feeling undermined and don’t know if I should say something. I manage a team and report directly to ownership. Reviews for staff are two way (self-ratings and management ratings) that are exchanged before meeting to discuss. When I complete an employee review, I forward it to ownership for feedback and ask if they would like to be part of the review process. Sometimes they have feedback, sometimes not. Sometimes they want to join, usually they don’t. My review of a fairly long-term employee “Joe” was sent a couple weeks ago, they indicated they wanted to be there but didn’t provide and feedback on the review form. They love Joe (maybe even favor Joe) and I agree he is a very valued employee, but think I have a more balanced perspective. In his review, Joe gave himself the best possible score in every category and my review contained two exceptional scores, two average scores, and the remainder above average scores- overall a very positive review.
    During the review meeting, Joe asked for elaboration on an average score area in communication. I elaborated my reasoning and Joe seemed to understand. Then, for reasons I can’t quite grasp, the owner said we should increase the score. I wasn’t going to sit there and argue but now I’m angry and feeling undermined. Should I say anything? If so, what? It’s important to note that the owner doesn’t like being questioned and tends to get defensive and pull the “my company” card. If I bring it up it has just as much chance of backfiring as anything else if not done very diplomatically.

    1. Wishing You Well

      Think hard before asking for clarity on Joe’s ratings. If there’s no good reason for the change, your boss will be defensive and you could suffer for asking. Next review time, ask ahead of time what ratings they want for Joe. Please look out for yourself above all.
      If your whole workplace is a mess, your only solution might be to leave when you’re ready.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Adding tell the owner that discussing things in front of an employee like that undermines you as a manager. It makes you less effective. The employee has now learned that what you say goes No Where. Ask if the two of you can review the eval before meeting with the employee so you can agree on what will be said.

        You can use the mommy vs daddy or good cop vs bad cop analogy. Tell the owner that employees can use that to manipulate higher ups into doing stuff that may or may not be good for the company.

        Agreeing with WYW, think about what the result is you want here. Perhaps Joe has to give more reports or perhaps Joe needs to be more available to answer his phone. Get specific. What is Joe doing and how is it hindering work flows.

        When the owner says, “my company” remind him that he is paying you to make sure it remains “his company” this means he is paying you to watch the nuts and bolts of the operation and you are going to pick up on things he does not see and keep his organization viable. This is what a good manager does for an employer.

        Remember framing it as Joe is the owner’s bud is not going to help you. That framing will make you think that your position is weakened in some manner. Your framing should be something along the lines of “If Joe did X that would help the company for Y reason.”

  60. Exhausted Trope

    Don’t know what to do about a situation that went down yesterday at the medical nonprofit where I volunteer.
    I was informed by HR that all employees, including volunteers, will be required to get flu shots at OUR expense.
    I understand that nonprofits have extremely tight budgets but I think that if it’s a mandatory requirement, the company ought to pay. It’s a part of doing business.
    The organization offers flu shots to the public and could easily vaccinate employees.
    I am happy to get a shot but I strongly believe that neither I nor any other employee ought to have to pay for it. I’m already donating my time and gas money to work here and my colleagues are paid sub-par wages.
    I’ll probably resign on principal but I hate to see such a vital organization lose staff over this.
    Has anyone here gone through something similar?

      1. Anna Held

        Not the point! Yeah, they’re going to lose a lot of people, as well they should. Too often nonprofits seem to think it’s an honor to volunteer or work for them, and the staff should just suck it up. Maybe losing a lot of people is what they need to realize they need to rethink their policies. This is super crazy, and frankly insulting if they actually give flu shots!

        1. Someone Else

          I think it is a bit relevant to the point? If they’re in the US and the people in question have insurance at all, since the flu shot is required to be covered, the org requiring the staff to get the flu shot “at their own expense” is really just about the staff doing it on their own time, since the expense should be $0. It’s a little weird if the org itself gives flu shots, but the complaint seems to primarily be about expense, and there shouldn’t actually be any?

    1. Bex

      I’m more surprised that they are just now instituting this policy. It is extremely common for hospitals, clinics, medical nonprofits etc to require a flu shot for all employees and volunteers.

      Have you talked to them about the policy? They might be assuming that everyone has health insurance that will cover it, and might be willing to help with the cost for those who don’t.

    2. Angelinha

      I agree that the health insurance they provide probably covers this.

      Either way, unless you don’t need to work, resigning over this would be very extreme.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Are you in the US? I see drug stores giving out free flu shots.
      See if you can find one or more places giving shots for free and make a list. Distribute the list.

      Have you mentioned this to HR?
      Perhaps you could find someone who has some clout and tell them. They could persuade TPTB to look at what they are doing here. They buy the shots in bulk and it can’t be that expensive. Then they can use it as a business expense for their financials.

    4. AnonJ

      For virtually any person with any kind of health insurance in the US there is no cost to get a flu shot. It is a preventive service and you can go to your doctor or any pharmacy that provides vaccinations and get the shot with no co-pay. Thanks, Obama.

      Even for those without insurance, community health clinics have free immunizations. What I’m saying is it’s a very rare thing that anyone would have to pay out of pocket for a flu shot if they asked the simple question ‘how can i get a free flu shot?’

      If there are employees or volunteers of the organization who have no health insurance or any other options, then by all means the organization should cover the costs, but I suspect those are few and far between.

      Before you resign on principle, please educate yourself on the reality of the ‘cost’ of this policy on staff and volunteers. You might find that the push back is more from people who don’t want to be forced to be immunized for whatever reason, versus people for whom it is truly a financial issue. Don’t let them fool you.

  61. What’s next?

    Still trying to figure out the “next step” in my career. I got a small raise and am happy at my current job (4 years and counting!) but I do need to think about “what am I doing after this gig?” Looking into “staffing” but I don’t want to work on commission only. Any suggestions?

    1. Not So NewReader

      “Commission only” sounds like sales.
      Do you want sales work?

      Can you say what field you are in?

  62. SeltzerFan

    Curious if anyone has advice for dealing with some feelings around an empty office.

    Lately it has felt like I’m one of a small handful of people regularly coming into the physical office space. Regular work from home days seem to have gone way up, and the coworker who sits next to me just started maternity leave.

    I love that we work in an office that is flexible about letting people work from home when they need it, and of course sometimes I take advantage of that myself. But I usually work better in an office environment, so I tend to only work remotely when I need to stay at home for a repairman or when I’m under the weather.

    I try not to begrudge my coworkers who work from home more often than I do, but it’s hard not to feel lonely when the office feels like a ghost town (and in a separate issue, a few of the regular WFH-ers aren’t great at communicating when they’re not here).

    Any advice for getting over some not necessarily justified feelings of loneliness at work (maybe bordering on resentment…). I know this is more about me than them, so I feel like I need to work on an attitude shift more than anything, but I’m struggling with it.

    1. Bea

      I worked in an office while all my coworkers were in the shop making things. I used my lone wolf status to blast music or listen to shows on Netflix that I didn’t need to watch to follow along enough. That depends on what you’re doing though. I had a remote to turn it off as soon as the phone rang or person walked in. Noise noise noise!

    2. whistle

      I am in a similar situation, SeltzerFan, where due to a combination of circumstances, I am often the only one actually present in my hallway. I have almost no interest in working from home.
      I agree with Bea – I turn up my music when I’m alone, and I consider that a special privilege because I love music and listen to (what some might think of as) weird stuff, so I’m pretty careful to keep the volume low or my door closed when anyone else is around. I also walk around the building sometimes and say hi to people I don’t see often, or go for a walk outside.

    3. Pikachu

      Our office is like this. I imagine it will change soon, as leadership is considering moving to a smaller coworking space. There is no reason for us to pay for a huge office if nobody is ever here.

  63. Jack Be Numble

    Anyone have ideas about how to manage your workflow?

    I just started in a new role and have already completed the projects they assumed would keep me busy for at least a couple weeks. Everything they give me, I finish in a day or less. They’ve been understaffed since January, but the backlog of projects is cleared out, and my supervisor is really reluctant to transition ongoing work to me. In a department meeting, his boss told him directly to transition work to me, and he just hasn’t.

    He seems really anxious (and, I’m sure, is just not used to having someone to delegate to), but I’m losing my mind with nothing to do. Is there a way to pace yourself to make the work last or should I be doing something else??

    1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

      I could use your help on our backlog…But before I was swamped with backlog work, I also had nothing to do. I asked my boss if there were easy, low impact things I could do (scanning, copying, filing, literally anything) to keep me busy. Other teams stepped up and gave me work they were too busy to do. It wasn’t super exciting, but it was better than total boredom. I’m sure there is someone, somewhere in your company that needs an extra pair of hands/eyes. Would you be able to ask your boss for work like that?

    2. Auntie Social

      If his boss told him directly and he hasn’t done so yet, go back to his boss and see if you two can’t brainstorm some part of ongoing work you can start on. Tear off a little piece if he won’t let you have a whole loaf. Or maybe boss knows the projects well enough that he can send a memo that says “Jack is going to be doing XYZ starting Monday”, or the three of you can meet and get some specifics assigned to you. There’s some giant hidden disaster/dishonesty he doesn’t want anyone to discover, IME, and that’s why he’s so anxious and doesn’t want you doing the active files.

    3. LQ

      This may not work in your situation, but asking to work along side can be useful sometimes. You go to the same meetings, even just sit and watch your boss do the things and then start to offer to take something. It’s really good to offer to take something as you’re walking out of a meeting. (If you/your boss isn’t comfortable assigning you something in the meeting.) Or even, “Can I draft this up, I won’t feel bad if you end up trashing it all but it might help get started?” That kind of thing can move someone who feels like training someone up is too much time and effort.

  64. Budgets Bite

    So I’m having an issue where my boss unilaterally made a decision about my budget that seems to have little to no return on investment and significantly hamstrings my work for the year. We’re talking 50% of my budget for an outside contributor with very few outputs and no demonstrable value (it’s communications work, so this is a thought product that is doing very little for our brand, produced by someone with no deep knowledge of our work). I’m really frustrated by this and I want to figure out a way to bring this up to my boss in a constructive way, e.g. to find more money elsewhere for higher impact work. But I can’t change the fact that this money has been earmarked for this contributor. Help?

    1. Auntie Social

      Show him the very limited financial results. Then ask if you can put this guy on pause and try some other company or other method, and compare the two.

  65. SadMidwesterner

    Resume question! I’m a recent grad, currently working on a one year contract arranged through a fellowship I won in college. It’s not up til June, but multiple supervisors have indicated they plan for me to stay. However, the structure of this program really doesn’t lend itself to more than a year of work- it’s meant to be exploratory and for your professional development, and after the initial year all of the resources stop. Staying longer doesn’t do a ton for me. I also frankly don’t like this job, although it’s not toxic or anything that would prevent me from staying if I had to.

    That being said. if I start applying in the spring, should I indicate on my resume/cover letter that this job was intended as a one-year experience? I thought that might help with the appearance of job hopping. How do I do that? Is it possible to emphasize that and still not provide my current supervisor as a reference, or does that sort of contradict itself. Thanks in advance everyone!

    1. Semaj

      I don’t think you need to indicate that at all. People who review resumes should have some familiarity with what a post-college fellowship entails, and even if they don’t short stints immediately after college don’t become a problem until you have multiple in a row. You might be overthinking it, friend! Just lay out your resume as it is and good luck in the job search!

  66. ContentWrangler

    It was my birthday last week and my boyfriend surprised me with the Ask a Manager book because he knows how much I love this website. I (hopefully) won’t be job hunting again for a long time but I can’t wait to use the book to help with any issues that come up in my current and future jobs. Luckily, there are no duck clubs or coffee wars here.

  67. Announcing Employee Departures

    My company has traditionally sent out “farewell” emails when someone retires or resigns on good terms. When someone is fired, there’s no announcement. No one wants to know the reasons (well, no one NEEDS to know the reasons), but I think it should still be announced. Last month we fired a worker who had been here for 10 years after an embezzlement investigation – no announcement. We have called the police to stand by for some terminations, but no notice is sent out! I don’t understand the logic. I am worried that someone is going to get buzzed in who shouldn’t… And there’s no telling what could happen. How do I convince the higher ups that we need to either standardize all departures or that these warrant a specific type of announcement?

    1. Four lights

      Frame it as company safety. I mean, you wouldn’t want the embezzler to lie his way back into the office. But if no one knows he’s out he could. My office says something like. “Bob no longer works for us. He is no longer permitted in the office.”

    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      Who is covering the work that person used to do until they are replaced? I’d think that would be a good reason to send an announcement.

      If I send invoices to Lucy and she’s fired and I don’t know and keep sending the invoices to her instead of Charlie, they aren’t getting paid.

    3. Construction Safety

      Heh, around here they communicate nothing.

      Small company. People start, people leave, spouses / parents die, workers go out on medical leave. Nada.

    4. Bea

      Yeah…they need to do a quick announcement of “Fergus has separated from Company effective immediately. If he returns to company property, alert manager and do not grant access without their consent.”
      Do it for everyone who’s let go and it’s not just shining a light on one person being flagged as a threat.

      Embezzlers aren’t prone to violence but they are thieves and may try to sneak one last thing out of the safe they have a key to assuming they haven’t rekeyed it.

      Fml I’ve dealt with these people all my career.

  68. EmmaBird

    Just want to thank everyone and Alison for all the guidance they’ve given me on this site– I just accepted a new job and so far I think I’ve handled every step of the negotiation and resignation as professionally as possible!

    Quick question– at what point do you talk to your new boss about scheduling issues? I don’t start until October, for reference. My issue is that I take two weekly yoga classes through my university as part of the university’s employee health initiative (oldjob and newjob are in the same university)– one is during my lunch hour and the other an evening class. To get to the classes on time it means being gone for 1.5 hours on Tuesday (half hour past lunch) and leaving a half hour early on Thursday at 4:30. My old boss was fine with that arrangement since I work a crazy amount of unpaid overtime (even on weekends)– but I’m not sure my new boss will be especially since I expect this job to be much more of a 9-5.

    What’s the best time to ask if it’d be possible to continue in these classes? If there’s a conflict with a weekly meeting I’d understand and drop the classes of course, but they’ve been pretty key in me keeping my sanity during the week so I’d like to keep going if I can!

    1. Captain Planet (nee Snark)

      This sounds pretty reasonable – particularly if they’re open to a slightly flexible schedule where you might stay late the day you take a long lunch, for example.

      My feeling is that you can probably bring it up just about anytime before you start – you’re not too early – and just lay it out the way you did here. “In my previous position, I was able to carve out time to take some yoga classes as part of the employee health initiative – are you open to me continuing that? They’re at {time} and {time}, and I’m more than happy to make up that time on other days.”

      1. EmmaBird

        Thanks! Normally I’d just quit the classes but since they *are* part of the university’s own initiative it seems like it would be something that I could continue. Though I do think I would skip my classes the first week just to see if people actually leave the office at lunchtime or not– I’m most concerned about the lunchtime class. At oldjob no one left the office at lunch but I was also past the point of caring.

    2. Bex

      I would probably start with asking to leave early for Thursday evening class, until you get a feel for the demands of the new job. Leaving 30 minutes early once a week, or shifting your hours to 8:30-4:30 that day, seems like it will have much less of an impact than being gone for 90 mins during the day.

    3. Gumby

      My experience w/ HIP classes is that management was super supportive of them and didn’t really mind an extra minute or two one way or the other. My manager was in my yoga class half the time! It might be worth it to ask your new co-workers about flexibility in a low key way just to get the lay of the land before approaching your new boss.

      We were an off-campus location and the instructor came to our building so it was maybe 5-10 minutes of extra “lunch” (also no one cared if we worked 9 – 6 or 7 – 4 or whatever). Is it possible that there’s a closer yoga class for the lunch session? That could shave some of the extra time off if it’s an issue.

      1. EmmaBird

        Thanks! Yeah, my dilemma is that there’s another class that’s half the distance but it’s also 15 minutes longer, which I think would amount to 90 minutes out of the office overall again. If there’s a suitable space in my new building I might see if there’s enough interest to petition the university for a class in our building since most of the classes are about a half mile away.

  69. sammy_two

    Today is my last day at my current job and I start in my new position on Monday. When I gave my notice, my boss said, “well, I hope it wasn’t me”. I was a bit flustered by his response and kind of indicated part of it actually was in fact him. Today we’re doing an informal exit interview and he wants to know what he can do better. We’ve just never really been a fit (I’m his EA) for various reasons, and I’m not sure what to say. Advice?

    1. Four lights

      If there’s nothing specific, or nothing you care to say you could just say that–you two weren’t a right fit, which is very important for an EA.

    2. Toothfairy

      The power dynamics are weird in this situation, but you can absolutely frame things like ‘You prefer to communicate in style Y, which I have struggled to adapt to.’ This lets your boss know what skills he needs to focus on in the next hire and isn’t personal. People with EAs rarely feel the need to adjust their style, so I wouldn’t mention asking them to change, just that it wasn’t a great fit for you.

      1. The Ginger Ginger

        This. Try to frame anything as pleasantly, matter-of-fact and non-judgmental as possible, and as ways to help them hire their next EA, not in any way that sounds like you expected that they would or even should change.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe

      I think it’s okay to say that you don’t think you were a good match with each other’s working styles. Being someone’s EA is such precise work and really operates best with people who either already have the same style or can adapt to the other’s style. It’s not personal, and he will be better served by finding a new EA that matches his working style anyway.

      1. Sloan Kittering

        I feel like the exit interview is like a break up debrief: I’d tend not to overshare, and I only mention things which are actually actionable in a future context. If I just happened not to gel but thought someone else would, I’m not sure I’d say anything other than I appreciated the opportunity to work with them and am excited about my new job – what point leaving on a sour note? Also I’d be thinking of my reference. Also if its something they’re unlikely to be willing and able to change, I might not bring it up, because again, what’s the point. And my reference.

        1. Not a Real Giraffe

          I guess I don’t see it as a sour note – personality or working style mismatches just are what they are – they’re nobody’s fault – and I think I’d see it as an opportunity to stress the importance of hiring someone who IS a good match, and focusing on screening that for the next time, rather than just someone with the EA skills. So I do think it’s actionable feedback.

  70. Incantanto

    Two questions.
    I work for a small company, which is going through a lot of changes in leadership. Today a c suite member who is not in my management line was ranting at me about the CEO and how things are run, and asking me with I was satisfied with my job. (I’m not but am job searching). Whats the best way to deal with ranting managers without really wanting to pick a side?

    Secondly, all the americans on this site, does your non standard measurement and date system not cause you stress/issues with working with foreign companies? We’ve just started dealing with an american supplier, and its caused stress both by getting precision manufacturing data in hundreds of an inch (ugh), and because we nearly sent a very terse reply asking why a delivery would take three months before realising that to them 10/12 is in October.

    1. Mrs. Badcrumble

      To your second question — it can if you’re not expecting it. I work in a group where half of our team in in Europe and half in the US. We work heavily with data and programming and dates in file names and in report headers are quite common. Similarly, in my previous position, I was given a data set where collected by a half US/half EU team, and the date variable entries were a nightmare. The solution to both? Write out the month. I use the Day Month Year (like 21 Sep 2018) format almost exclusively now.

      1. Annie Moose

        Agreed wholeheartedly to the date format, if you can get them to do it. The only way to guarantee everyone will get it right is to spell out the month.

    2. AeroEngineer

      Speaking that I have gotten a passport with the wrong birthdate because of this issue. Yes. So Much Yes. I always now just write DD MON YY (so like 12 OCT 18) or write out the month, which makes sure there are no issues with understanding.

      Ranting managers? I just smile and nod, and file away the information in the back of my mind (which is actually putting a more complete picture together, and making me happy that I have been job searching). Sounds like you work at a similar company to me :)

      1. Construction Safety

        And one of the Mars probes only had 62% of the velocity needed to go into orbit!

        62%? gee, that number sounds familiar. . .

    3. Enough

      Measurement and date systems in the USA is standard for us. It’s what we’ve learned just like you learned yours. To us yours would be the non standard. That said there is always a learning curve whenever you start working with new people/companies.

        1. ronda

          well the us is still the worlds biggest economy, so we are not particularly invested in switching. They did have some talking about switching to metric when I was young… maybe in the 80s, there was some freaking out and I don’t think it has been brought up since then. Scientist probably discuss it once in a while, but the general public has not since I was young. We are a weird culture and many of us seem to think everything should be done the way we do it.

          The imf is claiming China will pass US soon, but my guess is it will take a little longer than they think. The numbers i just looked up had a 9% difference in 2017 and a 6% difference in 2018.

          If a particular company is your supplier, you might want to give them a heads-up on what is causing issues for you…. maybe they can correct it.

    4. NoTurnover

      We’re a big, populous, dominant country. It’s like some of our other areas of America-centrism, like being monolingual. For a lot of people in a lot of industries, it just doesn’t come up very much. I rarely interact with anyone outside the US, and that’s been the case in all US jobs that I’ve held. I’m not saying it’s right–I, too, wish the US would just standardize with the rest of the world already–but that’s how it is for many of us.

  71. babblemouth

    What is your view on references that let people write their own reference letter and sign whatever is placed in front of them? It has come to light that a senior manager in my company has been doing this, and the office is split between people who think it’s not a big deal and people who think it’s completely inappropriate.

    1. McWhadden

      I wouldn’t say I think it’s a good practice but it’s very common in the business world (as opposed to say Academia where these tend to be taken more seriously.) So, the manager isn’t totally out of line with norms.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

        I think it’s also common to at least present a draft letter of recommendation to an academic referee. Especially if you are an early career researcher asking your advisor for a letter, you might need to remind them of things you have done.

        If the letter is just signed without any review, that’s a bit off, but otherwise I think this is fairly common.

    2. PieInTheBlueSky

      I think in the most benign version of this, the letter requestor would simply be providing details to the reference that the reference may not easily recall. “Requestor worked on projects A, B, C, and had these results,” etc. Perhaps the reference supervises many employees, or was from a number of years ago. The reference shouldn’t just unthinkingly sign whatever is put in front of them, of course.

  72. SanFran

    Question because I’m curious—if I mentioned a past maternity leave as part of my job timeline in the past, does this mean the person interviewing me is allowed to ask how old my kids are now? I felt uncomfortable with this question, in the context of a tough interview where a massive workload/hours was emphasized. But maybe I opened that door.

    1. Murphy

      There’s no reason that they wouldn’t be allowed to ask that question. Most interviewers avoid those kinds of questions in order to avoid bias or the appearance of bias. I haven’t interviewed since having a child, so I’m not sure how I’d feel in that situation. They could have just been making conversation.

      1. SanFran

        Actually, I believe it is illegal to ask about your children in an interview. I’m wondering if because I alluded to having at least one I opened this up or not.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          It’s not illegal to ask, it’s only illegal to use that information in your hiring decision.

        2. Rusty Shackelford

          It’s illegal to use that information in a hiring decision, which is why many employers make a point of not asking at all. But no, it’s not illegal for them to ask.

            1. Murphy

              Really? I’m looking at their site too (I thought maybe I was wrong) and the part I found said that it’s discriminatory to ask that only of women, and that they’re discouraged in general. (Link in username.)

              1. SanFran

                Ah. I see. I was looking at another site that had this listed under “Illegal interview Questions according to the EEOC”, not their main website. So looks like this is inaccurate. IMO it certainly should be illegal. As if I am really going to go back and try to prove I don’t get this job because of that! And they know that. So they can ask.

                1. PICNIC

                  I think it’s very different if you brought up that you’ve had a kid, rather than them simply asking straight up. I’d be much more uncomfortable with it in the latter case, but well, as you say you opened that door. There’s no way to know now if they would have asked if you hadn’t said anything.

                  I do think that makes a significant difference.

  73. Librarian Ish

    Great job, great money, possibly terrible boss

    I got asked to apply for a job that would be an incredible change for me. It’s a step up, double my salary, great benefits, and would mean doing the part of my current job that I love, full time.

    Downside: word has it that my potential direct boss is a nightmare to work for. Almost half the staff has left, with many referencing this person as their reason for leaving. It sounds like this person gives unclear directions, and also severely lacks empathy, so they will often say hurtful things to people.

    I’m going to apply and hopefully go through the interview process. If I do, what would be good questions to ask to feel out this situation? It sounds like there’s possibly changes happening in the organization to address it, but it’s understandably not public yet. My current job has its own share of toxicity that I need to leave, that I am fully confident would be better at this new position, so I’m really trying to figure out exactly what the problem is with this person and if it’s something I can live with.

    1. Auntie Social

      The unclear directions thing means you take notes as he talks, so you can prove to him what he said and when he said it. Steno pad glued to you, and you ask questions–have we done this before, is there an example in the file, etc. because you’re new.
      I’ve worked for law partners who were supposedly nightmares (former Marines so the language got a bit salty) but the instructions were very, very clear. I liked that. I actually got paid more money for “taking Fred on”, when in fact he turned out to be perfectly fine. I told him my dad was a lawyer and a Marine and his pet name for me was “dammit”, so not much scared me, You’ll be fine.

    2. ronda

      Why not be completely upfront about it with potential new boss?
      worst thing is new boss will decide they dont want someone so direct.

      you can pick your favorites from potential questions (or ask all of them), I like the 1st 2 because I like to be overly direct, the 3rd one is a little too vague for me. :

      I have noticed that you have had over half the staff leave recently, what is the reason for that?
      I have heard that you are hard to work for, what types of employees are able to work best with you?
      How do you like to communicate with your employees?

      The notes thing really worked for one of my bosses. She had a notebook that she wrote everything down on, so when someone said they remembered something else, she would say I don’t think so, let me look it up in my notes…… answer was often, don’t bother, you are probably right :)…… this was likely after she had been working with this person for quite a while.

      1. Lalaroo

        Please don’t ask the second question! That could cause the boss to go on a hunt for vengeance, trying to find out which former employees have been saying that. You could end up burning someone else’s bridges! It would be horrible of you, after the former employees were kind enough to give you an honest preview.

        I also know my former boss, who the boss in your question reminds me of, would totally derail the interview to focus on that. It would be perceived as a threat and she would focus hard on badmouthing the employees she believed told you she was difficult to work for and trying to get info from you. You’d definitely find out firsthand she’s difficult to work for, but like I said, at a huge cost to the former employees.

  74. Mimmy

    TL;DR – Need help coming up with a networking script or message that accurately conveys my interests and career goals. Could be in-person networking or through email contacts.

    I am still hoping to get out of my current job, but I’m fumbling because it’s my first paid job in some time, and I’m not using all the skills that I’d like to. I want to network but I’m having trouble describing what I’m looking for and how to explain why I want the change. Plus, what I’m ultimately interested in is in a niche area and I’m still in the process of learning about it. I have lots I want to learn but am afraid to invest for fear of things not turning out as expected or what I choose ends up not being the right fit.

    Another hang-up: My masters is in social work, which leads many to suggest counseling or similar jobs, which I’m not sure I want. I also decided to put my license in “inactive” status, but I quickly realized that may end up biting me in the behind. I have a feeling that I’m may need to get another degree just to have a shot at getting out of my job and into what I’m truly interested in. I do have a graduate certificate in an interdisciplinary field, but it may not be enough.

    I have long-term ideas, but struggle with deciding on short-term ideas too.

    So if you guys are willing to help me talk through my networking message, I’d really appreciate it. (what I really need is a career coach, but that’s expensive! lol)

    1. Gumby

      Do you know ‘what you are looking for and why you want the change’ and are just having trouble putting it into professional-sounding words or are you still not sure? It’s ok if that’s not entirely clear to you now, but you can’t really craft a cohesive message w/o knowing those things. You can say vague stuff like “open to possibilities” and “exploring different options” but you’re making your networking partners do the work then and they probably won’t. You might be best off asking them about what they do.

      Good news is you don’t need an exact job title. You can say what skills you want to use. You can say what areas you are particularly skilled in. You can mention the niche area you are interested in but make it clear you want to explore that *or* something similar. Mine at one point was that I loved organizing and was good at details and wanted to work in areas that were technology-adjacent without actually building the technology myself. Voila: project manager.

      But in regards to this:
      I have lots I want to learn but am afraid to invest for fear of things not turning out as expected or what I choose ends up not being the right fit.
      * If you want to gain more clarity on whether it’s the right direction to move in, you can always do more research. Ramit of “I will teach you to be rich” has some advice along these lines in his blog. (There are frequent upsells to his paid products but I ignore those. Also sometimes his tone takes getting used to.) Search for ‘how to choose a career that you’ll love.’
      * If it ends up not being what you want… so what? What you are doing now isn’t what you want either so you aren’t worse off. Maybe you moved in the right direction but aren’t quite there yet – great, now you know more about where your interests lie. Make another slight course-correction.

  75. Mary Queen of Scoffs

    So I sent this to Alison in June, but it’s been long enough that I think it’s probably safe to ask here. This is hard for me to write but I’ve been really struggling.

    I’ve been job searching for 3 years now. I’m fortunate to be employed during this time, but both my current job and the search are wearing on me a lot. My job has way more lows than highs, and it doesn’t pay well. I’ve done extremely well in my reviews, but I’m not able to get a raise because I’m already paid the most in my team. I’ve tried to get promoted to the next role up but upper management rejected me. I’ve also applied to roles elsewhere in my company and not been successful.

    I’ve been applying to jobs outside of my company, with varying degrees of action. I’ve had some interviews, many progressing to second stage interviews, but ultimately not getting the role, with the reasons having been because the job goes on hold or someone else was better qualified. While getting to interview should make me happy because it means there’s something in my CV and cover letter that are attractive to employers, in many ways, it feels worse than having nothing come of my applications because it felt like I got closer to succeeding but failed.

    This pattern keeps happening and recently it’s bringing me down more than it should. It feels pointless to keep trying when I’ve been at this for years and had no results. What can I do to keep my spirits up? Everytime I try to job search now, I keep hearing a voice in my head that tells me there’s no point in trying anymore and I just need to resign myself to being where I am.

    1. Sloan Kittering

      To be honest, as my job search stretched on (it took me a year), I had to be brutally honest about what I needed and what I could get. I started out with lots of goals: more money, more responsibility, better title, great location. But when I didn’t get that in six months, I knew I needed to lower my expectations. I was getting interviews but no offers, so I knew I was in a competitive market and that other people were out competing me. I lowered my expectations.

      I ended up with like … one of those things I was looking for. Kind of. It sucks, but over time I became more motivated to move than to check every box. My career will be long. I will get those things eventually – but short term I needed to move on.

    2. The One With The Cooties

      I have been job hunting for longer than you have and I have given up. I sadly don’t have any advice on how to keep spirits up because I am so out of hope. I feel like prayer is my only option.

    3. whistle

      I can relate to much of this. I wonder if it would help to take a break from job searching? Maybe something like a rotation – 1 month on, 1 month off or whatever. Apply to what you can in the one month on and stop looking in the one month off (while of course replying to any communication regarding jobs already applied to). Think about what you would enjoy doing in the 1 months off, and do it.

    4. Gumby

      I had a 2 year job search at one point, but was unemployed during it. The thing that helped me the absolute most was a boot camp for job seekers. You probably won’t be able to go out and find the exact thing, but the most helpful part was spending time with people in a similar position. We practiced our elevator speeches together. Proofed each others’ resumes and cover letters. Did mock interviews. Checked-in on what we’d accomplished that week (informational interviews, applied a certain number of places, etc.). Is there a way you can build something like that into your life? Having people to cheer me along the way made a huge difference to me.

    5. Not So NewReader

      Did you get Alison’s books and go over them with a fine tooth comb? I mean line by line. Tweak what you are doing, make a few changes see where that puts you. Still no new job, make a few more changes and see what happens.

  76. Toothfairy

    How do people feel about flossing your teeth at work (in the bathroom of course!)? I have crap teeth and a crown that often gets food stuck under it to the point that water will not help. I floss in the bathroom and clean up any flung food bits that make their way onto the mirror, but I get so self conscious when other people walk in and see me. Am I over-thinking this?

    1. Murphy

      I wouldn’t think anything of it if I found someone doing that. Other than maybe a fleeing thought of Toothfairy is a little hardcore about their teeth.

    2. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

      That wouldn’t bother me. It sounds like you are doing all the right things to minimize the impact on your coworkers (flossing in the bathroom and not at your desk, cleaning up the mirror, etc.).
      Do you have a coworker you can ask about it?

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      There are no negative thoughts anyone should have about flossing at work that override the importance of taking care of your teeth. As I’m sure you’re well aware, they’re so expensive and such a pain to fix!

      (Also, if you have any advice on how to deal with food stuck around a crown, I’m all ears; I have this problem constantly and it drives me insane.)

      1. Toothfairy

        Sadly I had to get my gums cut down around this crown and half the tooth it’s anchored to broke, so there is a lot of space under the tooth itself for food to get into. I drink water all day which kind of helps and just have to floss after each meal, especially as I try to eat a lot of salad. The alternatives are me picking at the food stuck in there (gross!) or using a toothpick at work (kind of weird?).

    4. Anonymous Educator

      If it’s in the bathroom, it’s fine. I guess if you want to be extra considerate, maybe do it in the stall?

    5. Sloan Kittering

      I’d say 1) step back from the mirror, can you bend over to try to get everything down the sink itself (do you have to watch yourself floss, or can you do it by feel with practice?), and 2) maybe use flosser picks instead of long messy string – they’re a little more discreet. I guess it’s not realistic to do it in the stall but that would be even better IMO. I’m squeamish so I probably would be somewhat dismayed to think of somebody spraying little bits of toothscum around the sink area that I’m steeping up to use next. It sounds like I’m on the extreme end though, so if it’s just me, carry on!

      1. The New Wanderer

        I second the flosser picks, my experience is there’s less external mess than with regular floss. Also they’re quick and easy to dispose of (floss sometimes sticks to the side of a trashcan). I’ve seen women full on brush their teeth after meals, I think anything like that is a fair use of the bathroom sink.

        1. Sloan Kittering

          Somehow tooth brushing wouldn’t bother me as much! I suppose that’s an unfair dental double standard.

    6. The One With The Cooties

      I really don’t like watching people floss, but I think I have to suck it up.

      But I have dental issues myself, so.

    7. periwinkle

      I have Invisalign, so oral care in the office bathroom is just another part of my life. Seconding the recommendation to use floss picks which are a bit tidier and more discreet (but don’t just fling the used ones hither and yon in the parking lot like some of my coworkers seem to be doing, gross, WTF?).

      As long as you clean up the sink area afterwards, as you’re doing, carry on. If anyone gives you side ey