open thread – October 12-13, 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.

{ 1,437 comments… read them below }

  1. HireMe!

    I’m finishing up my application for an awesome opportunity that I am highly qualified for. However, this company unusually posted their “anticipating hiring timeline” online for the position – and the two days they have listed as being their interview days (approximately 3 weeks from now) is during a week when I am out of town. Do I include information in my cover letter that I will be out of town that week? Possibly offering to do a phone interview instead, from Europe (where I will be on vacation)? I know many/most of the time, hiring does not follow the anticipated timeline, so I’m afraid I’ll come across as high maintenance when there’s a real possibility that their timeline would get bumped back anyways.

    1. Ali G

      I wouldn’t. Assume there will be a phone interview before in-person interviews, and you can bring it up then when you discuss next steps.
      If there isn’t a phone interview and this is the first step and in-person, you can just discuss it when they call or email you to set up the interview.
      Use that space in your cover letter to tell them how awesome you are instead :)

    2. Redundant Department of Redundancy

      I would personally wait until after an interview invitation and at that point mention you are unavailable and ask if there are any alternative dates. If you put it in the cover letter it might seem a little bit like you are assuming you will get an interview.
      However, be prepared that the answer may be no. I know when we hire we have to pick an interview date about a month and a half in advance in order to guarantee room and people availability. For a truly stellar candidate we’d make an alternative arrangement somehow, but for someone we were lukewarm amount we’d likely take the option to not rearrange.

    3. LouAnn

      Yep, say you’ll be out of town that week and could do a phone interview then or come in before/after. Good luck!

    4. Anonymous Educator

      The cover letter’s a bit premature a time to mention your being out of time. If they’re interested in interviewing you and want to schedule a time, you can bring up the conflict then.

    5. ACDC

      I personally wouldn’t bring it up at all until they call you for an interview. Unless there’s a section on the application for additional notes/comments, then include a blurb like “I see you have these dates listed for interviews, I will be out of town those days, but am happy to make other arrangements.” Something like that.

    6. Bunny Girl

      I would think that maybe they included the hiring timeline so people could let them know if they had any conflicts. I would include that information in both your cover letter, and maybe in your email to them as well. I wouldn’t worry about coming across as high maintenance. I feel that would be appreciated, and as I said, probably why they included it.

    7. Dijana

      Don’t mention your availability and if they contact you for the interview be prepared to change your plans of they are unable to accommodate your request for an alternate date. They will likely have more than enough top quality candidates to choose from.

    8. HireMe!

      This is specifically what is stated on the anticipated hiring timeline: “Interviews are currently scheduled for October 29/30. If you reside more than 200 miles from [name of city redacted], the initial interview can be a phone interview if requested. For successful candidates, second interviews will be November 5-7, 2018 and candidates must be present.”

      I don’t live more than 200 miles from the city, but I will be more than 200 miles away at the time of the initial interview.

      1. KarenT

        Given that, I would leave it out of your cover letter but if they contact you tell them you’re available those days via phone and the following week in person. If they’re married to those dates putting it in your cover letter might ding you a bit.
        I do agree that hiring almost always gets pushed back a bit but I’ve never heard of a company putting it right in the posting. I could see a company that does so sticking to their timelines.

      2. LouAnn

        That’s pretty clear. My advice above still stands. Be up front and it will make it much easier on their ends scheduling-wise, which can only be helpful to you.

      3. Psyche

        I think that since phone interviews are an option in some cases, you don’t need to mention it unless you are invited to an interview and the date hasn’t been pushed back.

        1. LurkieLoo

          I agree with this approach. I think if you are a super strong candidate, it won’t make a lot of difference. If there are a lot of strong candidates and they need to narrow down, this might be a half point against you. It might make you look a little anxious if you address a problem that is only a problem because you assume you will get an interview.

          They are open to phone interviews so I’d wait until they contact you about the first interview to request an exception. At that point, they have already evaluated you against other applicants and are moving you forward so might be more willing to make extra accommodations.

    9. Lalaith

      I wouldn’t mention it until you know they’re interested enough to want to interview you. I wouldn’t want to give them a reason to possibly disqualify me up front, you know? They’ve already said that they’re willing to do phone interviews for the first round, so it probably won’t be a problem, but just bring that up when they’re already interested and contacting you.

    10. AeroEngineer

      Nope, don’t say it. I had one of those in the description of a position I applied to, and the interview ended up being a month later. You can always bring it up once you get further into the process.

    11. Ron McDon

      Where I work we put the interview dates in the ad. We have occasionally had people ask if we can give them an interview on a different date because of *reason* to which the answer is usually ‘we’ll interview on that date, but contact you if we don’t hire anyone and set up an interview with you afterwards’.

      We would be annoyed if you didn’t mention at the start that you wouldn’t be available on the interview date, especially as they’re offering a phone interview if requested. I would add a line in your cover letter to say that on the day of the interview you will be out of the country but are available for a phone interview. They wouldn’t have added that option if it was going to make them discount your application.

      Good luck!

  2. GrapefruitHero

    I’m in a position where I have to tell my boss I’m applying for a new job with a member organization. Part of my current role is helping our member organizations hire managers, and since I’m kicking around the idea of applying for this one I have to step back from the process. So, if I don’t tell him, it will look like I’m not doing my job. Plus, he regularly speaks to someone on the hiring committee, and I think the committee member would probably tell my boss they received my resume.

    I don’t have a great relationship with my boss–he’s a terrible supervisor in more ways than one, and I have good reason to worry that he will treat me differently once he knows I’ve applied elsewhere. I can definitely see him saying things like, “Well, I’m not going to involve you in this project because I don’t know how much longer you’ll be here.”

    Has anyone else dealt with this? Any advice?

    1. Monty & Millie's Mom

      No advice, I just want to say that this sounds like a very delicate situation and I really hope it works out for you! Is there any way to get an idea about your chances for the other job before you have to recuse yourself and tell your boss? Not that it’s a guarantee or anything, so not great advice….sorry I don’t have more!

    2. Dweali

      If you have to soften your approach for his ego make it less that you are looking and try to frame it as this opportunity was too good to pass up or fits your long term career goals better (especially if there isn’t a lot of growth at your current employer).

    3. Not So NewReader

      Look around is there a friendly type person involved anywhere in this process? This could be someone who rolls their eyes when your boss speaks.

      Other people I would consider talking to would be people who have made the jump out of your department successfully.

    4. Le’Veon Bell is right

      If you have a good relationship with the client, you could always start with just asking them like “Hey, I’m really excited to work on Job Opening with you, but wanted to talk to you a bit about it. I’m strongly considering applying for the opening myself! Of course, I know if I did so, I’d need to step away from helping run the process. Can you give me a preliminary idea of if I might be a strong candidate for the position? If so, I’ll apply right away (and let my boss know as well, so there’d be no weirdness for you), but if you don’t think I’d be a great fit, that’s fine! We can move forward from there.”

      Or whatever sounds good for you. In general, when I’ve asked hiring managers that I know already this sort of question point-blank, I’ve gotten an honest answer, which at least saves you from the hassle of going through applying and telling your boss if you are rejected in the first round anyway. I know the particulars of your situation are trickier, but if you decide for sure that you want to apply, that’s where I’d start.

      1. Grapefruit Hero

        I already told the hiring committee chairperson that I was considering applying and would have to step back, and asked her to keep it in confidence for now (which I totally trust her to do) until I get up the nerve to talk to my boss. Thanks for your advice! I’m going to follow up and ask if I have a chance.

        (Also, yeah, Le’Veon Bell is totally right and deserves to be paid a fair market rate.)

  3. Cheerily Terrified

    Last week I posted about officially finding out that I was being laid off. I spent a lot of the week wallowing (and also doing family stuff that was a pleasant distraction) and read the thread a number of times.
    I want to thank everyone who responded, as it was all great advice and comfort. It was really heartening, and there was lots of great advice. I’m going to take the weekend off to relax and finish wallowing, and then start implementing everyone’s suggestions.
    The tips about needing a routine were appreciated, especially as a first step. I needed to hear that. I’ve very little work to do at the moment, but five more weeks here, and honestly, having nothing to do has been kinda depressing and quite demotivating. It’s been hard to even bring myself to apply for jobs, even when they look interesting and I know they are with a good organisation. So from Monday I will be making sure I have a good routine so I can job search and keep my spirits up, and start making use of all the other great advice I got.

    1. MissDisplaced

      Be sure you collect any important things while still at your current job. Work samples, personal contact information and any recommendations. All too often you leave and then are like, why didn’t I get so-and-so’s home email address.
      I know it sucks to be laid off, but you’re lucky to have some transition time where you’re still being paid. It’s fine to wallow for a bit, but don’t let it dishearten you. Use that time in a positive and wise manner to plan your next step.

    2. Formerly Arlington

      Just wanted to say this was three months ago and I just finished month one with a new employer. The pain of being laid off (after months of reorg stress) still gets to me but having a fresh new role has been incredibly energizing. Good luck getting through and past this!

  4. Seven Ate Nine

    My company does a lot of travel and has a travel coordinator who budgets and processes all the travel; no employee is allowed to book their own travel because the company needs to keep an eye on the budgeting. I’m the secretary for a big team and work very closely with the directors, who are allowed to skip the travel coordinator and book their own trips. Since I’ve come onboard, the directors occasionally have me help with that.

    Recently the company travel coordinator has been very overwhelmed and has asked me to help with booking travel for the rest of my team, not just the directors. She gave me the rundown of how to budget travel for non-directors and has me send all confirmations to her after I book it so she can review and document.

    However she never addressed any kind of login for websites that give rewards when you travel. Sites like Expedia and Hotels.com or the like, where you get rewards that could be reinvested in more company travel. I asked about it when I was first doing the travel for directors but she said there wasn’t one, and no directors gave me a personal one for them to use (aside from individual airline accounts that every employee has and gets to keep that mileage for personal use). The directors travel was rare so even though I’ve done it for a year now, I haven’t gained that many rewards from my bookings. However now that I’m doing the rest of the team, I’m going to be gaining a lot more. Should I double check with the travel coordinator to be sure there isn’t a company account I should be using? Is it okay for me to collect these rewards for myself? When it was the once a month directors travel, it didn’t seem that bad but now that I’ll be doing it weekly, there are a lot more rewards to gain and I feel like I’m taking advantage of the system, especially as I’m not the one doing the traveling, just booking it for my coworkers.

    1. Time for a gnu name

      I would double check again (by email) with the coordinator about whether there being a company login. If coordinator says there isn’t one, I would reply asking if there is a policy in place which would disallow you from using your own account for booking and accruing the rewards. (Don’t use my wording… that’s clunky as all get out. Yeesh.)

    2. Justme, The OG

      I would double check, yes. And it’s likely that you cannot use them yourself. I know that when I do purchasing and travel, and rewards go back to the employer since I am using their money to buy things.

    3. ACDC

      I think since you’ve already asked about a company login for rewards purposes, and were told no such account existed, I’d say you’re in the clear. However, better safe than sorry, so I would send an email to the travel coordinator (key to have this in writing in case it comes back later), saying something like “Hey, I just wanted to make sure there isn’t a company login I should be using for booking travel since I know there are rewards available for some of these things. You had mentioned once before that there wasn’t an account, so I just wanted to make sure.”

      1. Dweali

        I like this wording…explicitly mention the rewards/savings that the company is missing out on so that SAN can honestly say they brought it to TC’s attention (or whoever would ultimately make the decision to create that type of account)

    4. Temperance

      I would make sure that with your boss, you’re able to do this. It sounds like the TC’s job that she’s trying to outsource.

      1. Seven Ate Nine

        My boss and other directors have said they’re fine with it as long as it doesn’t interfere with my other work, that help the travel coordinator should be my lowest priority. And we’re all hoping it’s temporary until an additional coordinator is brought on.

    5. Seven Ate Nine

      To be clear, the written company policy says that rewards and points gained from business travel may be used by employees for personal travel. However, airline rewards accounts aside, employees don’t get much chance to gain these rewards because all their travel is booked by the coordinator.

      1. LouAnn

        Interesting… that written policy may change the equation. If employees can use the rewards for personal travel, then I think you’d need to check with EACH employee you are booking travel for, and ask if they have an account they want the rewards/points booked to, and if not, would they mind if that perk went to you.

        1. Laura

          When I traveled for business, I retained all the rewards. It was a perk of doing all the travel. My first week, I had to create logins for all the frequently used sites and include them on the form to the travel office.

          1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup

            My most recent position was booking for a chain of hotels. It was so frustrating— the best rates were often members-only, and so few people let their admins and travel coordinators know that they were members! Fortunately, the easiest way to pull up a person’s travel information was via their email, which would also pull up their account #.

            That having been said, most chains and even some third-party companies will be happy to add a Rewards number to an existing reservation, even without login, and one of my “regulars” would add something to the cover message on people’s itineraries to the effect of a very diplomatic, “You haven’t given me any Rewards information, but you are welcome to add this number on your own. Please feel free to share this information with me for future reference. Bye-ee!”

      2. Bea

        Since its written policy that employees can keep rewards (claps to them for having that in written policy!) and you asked the TC about the individual log in, I wouldn’t ask again. You did your due diligence.

        1. Psyche

          She asked about company log in, not individual. I think she needs to check whether or not these rewards should go to the person traveling.

        2. ..Kat..

          I would ask again by email so that I have a written record of the travel coordinator’s response. Then print it out and keep a copy at home.

      3. PX

        So I would double check this as there are various things at play. One is, given that there is a policy allowing employees to keep points – I’d be surprised if they wouldnt want them for hotel stays too. So as someone else has said, it might be worth asking each employee if they want to acrue points. Second – while you can get points via the booking website, if they are staying at larger chain hotels – those will likely have a different points system too. So there may be a point in the middle where there are points gained via the booking website, and then points to the traveller who actually stays there. But either way, you need to be sure of what is best to do.

        Long story – you should check if there is a policy, and if not – it might be worth thinking about asking for one.

        1. sparty07

          If you book via OTA, the big hotel chains disallow any points/premium services you may have from status. I.E. if you normally get free breakfast because your diamond status, booking via OTA vs the actual hotel site will cause you to lose your free breakfast.

      4. Travels for Work Sometimes

        In that case, (where practical) you should book directly with the hotel chain so that employees may collect their individual hotel points (similar to the way airline miles work). Prepaid bookings through Expedia or Hotels generally negate those rewards.

        1. LJay

          Also, using prepaid sites generally makes it more difficult or impossible to rebook, add nights to stays, change the name on the booking, or cancel the booking all together, which are all things that come up more frequently with business travel than with personal. And even moreso if the account they are booked on is not the account of the person who is traveling.

          I would be really frustrated if my travel department booked through those sites instead of direct. I’m already bitter that the hotels we use in one city don’t give me my points on company bookings.

          My job is 60-70% travel. The points and the status perks make life tolerable. Don’t get between me and them.

          1. Jasnah

            Agreed, as an infrequent business traveler I’d be bummed if the secretary or coordinator booking my travel got the points instead of me, the person who has to sit on the plane and would love to save up miles/points for a free breakfast or upgrade to business class.

    6. CAA

      Does the travel coordinator actually recommend that you book hotels through 3rd party sites? If you are sending people to the same locations repeatedly or if you are usually using large chains like Marriott or IHG, it is probably cheaper to book directly with the hotel. Also, if this is the situation, the traveling employees should care that you are cutting them out of the rewards for their stays. If you book a hotel through a 3rd party site, the employee often can’t collect the points even if they’re in the hotel’s rewards program. They might also have to pay for WiFi access that would have been included if booked via the hotel’s website.

      If you are only using independent hotels with no rewards system, then it’s a little easier to see why keeping the free nights you get via hotels.com might not be frowned upon. It’s harder to use those “free nights” for corporate travel because they’re treated like a prepaid and non-refundable reservation.

    7. I was Ariel before the mermaid

      Why not just make a new account strictly for the business bookings with your work email as the login? Then, any rewards that accrue could be used towards other business travel?

    8. Ben H

      Double check via email and send their response to your personal account. Some companies see it as a way to provide no-cost benefits to their employees.

      However, I had one company that insisted I could keep the office supply and travel rewards as my own, as I had a huge hand in reducing their overhead ratio. They also refused to provide a company purchase card and insisted that I use my own. Then my contract was up, I refused to renew (poor internal politics), and one of the partners contacted the PD for fraud. Claiming that the credit card cashback, office supply, and travel rewards were all property of the company.

      I showed them the email highlighting that this specific partner said I should keep them as thanks and that the partners were not comfortable allowing me a company card so that I should just use mine. She was prosecuted for filing a false report.

      At my current organization, the office rewards are used to offset supply costs, and cash back is used to fund employee bonuses. However, I am still allowed to keep travel rewards from booking plane tickets, car rentals, and hotels. And yes, I do have documentation that this is ok.

    9. R

      My company has a policy about not taking gifts from suppliers that would apply to your travel rewards points – and make taking them a firing offence. I mention this because the policy isn’t part of the travel rules but is under (I think) the section on fraud. It also prohibits keeping Christmas gift baskets and the like.

    10. Yetanotherjennifer

      In general, if the company doesn’t have an account for something like this, the assumption would be that you would create an account for the company, not that you would use your own. It may be that the travel coordinator doesn’t know about reward points or that she or the company feels it’s too much to manage. And that may mean that these points will go uncollected, but they’re not yours to take if they’re unclaimed. I’d stop using your personal account immediately and talk to the coordinator again. This isn’t exactly like accepting kickbacks, but it’s close. You are personally being enriched from the company’s spending. Especially since they keep a close eye on travel spending, they need to be confident that you will select travel based on what benefits the company and not what benefits you.

      1. valentine

        Yes, it sounds like you’re using your own account and, especially if the coordinator told you to book a different way, she may not know you’re doing this. You can say it made sense, at the time, to use it for the few bookings and ask if you should create one or book directly, as others are saying.

    11. sparty07

      If there is enough travel that a travel coordinator can’t keep up, your company should look at getting negotiated rates with a certain chain. This would allow the company to save money.

  5. KMB213

    No questions, but I’ve had a rough few weeks at work.

    Of course, on the surface, that seems like a bad thing, but I’m choosing to view it positively – it’s given me incentive to ramp up my (previously fairly passive) job search. I found four jobs that look like great fits last night and I am completing the cover letters and applications tonight!

    1. Lumen

      You don’t need answers, so I’m giving you cheerleading!

      Go you! I hope something pans out. A new job can be so exciting, especially after a bad one!

      1. KMB213

        Thanks! I’m been kind of generally unhappy in this job for a while now, but I haven’t been unhappy enough to really prioritize my job hunt. These few weeks have definitely been what I needed!

  6. Emma

    I OFFICIALLY HAVE A NEW JOB!!!!!! Had an interview last Tuesday, and got the offer this Monday! Nice little pay bump & my new manager seems great. Would love any tips on a) surviving the last couple weeks at my Hell Job (focusing is hard!!!!) and b) not bringing the old dysfunction to the new gig…

    1. AnonEMoose

      For the last two weeks, remind yourself that there is an end date. “I only have to deal with this for X more days, and I only have to be here for Y more hours.” Plan a treat for yourself at the end of it, or even at the end of each week, if you need. It doesn’t have to be anything huge – just some small indulgence that you enjoy but maybe don’t splurge on often.

      Congratulations on the new job! In terms of the toxicity, maybe put some thought into understanding the patterns of it at your current job. Once you understand that, you might be able to identify the survival mechanisms you’ve developed to deal with it. That might help you avoid carrying them into your new position.

    2. Ali G

      Congratulations! Free yourself from the burden of dealing with OldJob. It’s not yours to fix anymore, just do what you need to leave on good terms and get out.
      As for letting it go before your new job starts – I highly recommend taking time off in between if you can. Use that time to do things for yourself and let the OldJob go. When I left my OldToxicJob I had dreams about it all weekend after my last day – like I was still working there. It wasn’t until the Sunday night before the first Monday that I didn’t have to go back there and was the start of my 2-week break, that I finally started to realize it was real and I could shed the OldJob.
      Congratulations!!!

    3. knitcrazybooknut

      In terms of releasing the toxicity of the old job, I would just watch what you say and think during your first few weeks of NewJob. You’re still going to have your pre-programmed ways of interacting, interpreting and reacting to all kinds of things. If you can wait to respond to anything for 30 seconds and maybe have a mantra on a sticky note where you can see it (This is not my Old Job), that may help you make that separation, especially if you can’t take a break between old and new.

    4. Lalaith

      Woot woot! *high five*

      On surviving, just keep your eyes on the prize. You’re going to be out of there soon, you do not need to care about their BS anymore! No longer your circus, no longer your monkeys. Focusing is tough, but just try to remember that everything is a step closer to getting you out of there!

  7. Anathema Device

    I graduated in May and am looking for work—fingers crossed, I’m hoping to get an entry-level office job that can help me gain a few years of work experience (and maybe some savings) before I go back to school in the future. In my search, I’m looking for positions not just in my home state, but also in the major city (in a neighboring state) where I went to school. If I get a job there, I would definitely start immediately looking for a place to live there—I’ve always wanted to live in this city, so that’s a plus!

    But in my first phone interview, after asking about my willingness to relocate, the interviewer said “How soon would you be able to start?” and…I had no idea? I’ve never tried to find housing before, and I have no clue how long it would take for me to find an apartment. I don’t want to start looking until I know I have a job, because I definitely don’t have the funds to live there without a salary—and, as my dad pointed out, it’s still going to be difficult to find affordable housing on an entry-level salary.

    I don’t *need* to have an apartment before I start the job—the commute from my house would be 2+ hours each way, which is unsustainable in the long term but manageable temporarily. Obviously, I don’t want to do that for any longer than absolutely necessary—but I also know that employers generally want you to start as soon as possible.

    Does anyone here have any advice about what to say when asked this question in future interviews? I’d appreciate anything!

    1. WellRed

      You need to make a plan for how this would work. Do you have someone you could stay with temporarily while you look for housing? Not having a well-thought out answer to this question is not going to work in your favor. And, commuting two hours each will likely scare off job offers as well.

    2. ThatGirl

      In my experience, it takes 3-4 weeks lead time to find an apartment. You obviously don’t want to rent one before you have a job, but have you done any preliminary research? Gotten any applications, narrowed down options? Have a few places ready to apply to when you need them.

      Most places totally understand if you need 2-3 weeks to get things together – often they have some lead time built in. So estimate how long you need to pack up your stuff, and go from there.

      1. LawLady

        I think this really varies by city. There are some places where the rental market moves so fast that unless you’re ready to move in now, there’s no point in looking. Many of my friends moved to NYC after law school, and they all found apartments in under a week.

        1. Spooky

          New York resident chiming in–if you tell a job that you need 4+ weeks before you start, especially as a recent grad, you will never get an offer. There are way too many people here who can start immediately. When I got my first job in the city, I asked for ten days between offer and start date, and they put a LOT of pressure on me to shorten that to four days.

          1. ThatGirl

            I can completely understand 4 weeks being too much in most cases, but 10 days doesn’t seem quite long enough – if you have a job you’re leaving, you would need at least two weeks!

              1. ThatGirl

                I get it! But even when I was unemployed last summer and technically available right away, I still wanted a little time to get loose ends sorted, and my new job needed time for paperwork.

          2. Lily in NYC

            It really depends on the company – we hire recent grads into our project management roles and often allow people to start in 4-6 weeks due to travel, moves, etc. But for someone moving from 2 hours away, I don’t think such a long wait is necessary.

    3. ACDC

      I was in this same situation not too long ago. Are you moving to this location anyway, with or without a job? Or are you just willing to move for this job in particular? If the latter is the case (as it was for me), I said things like “realistically, I would be able to start 2-4 weeks after receiving an offer to coordinate my move.”

      Also, don’t worry about how long it’ll take you to find an apartment. Most landlords will get you in ASAP if they have any availability at all.

      Good luck!

    4. Fabulous

      Finding an apartment shouldn’t take terribly long once you narrow it down based on location and cost. Estimate what you can afford based on the minimum salary you would be earning so you don’t overreach your means.

      I would also scope out potential apartments now so that you have an idea of what’s available in the area – like go visit the complexes, see the available units and talk with the property managers to find out the specifics of applying. They may have a non-negotiable move-in date, or if it’s an empty apartment you could move in whenever during the month. Then, when you get an offer you can have a solid plan to reach back out to who you spoke with. It should only take a day or two to submit an application and for them to do a credit check.

    5. anonymoushiker

      Usually, apartments start on the first of the month, so you may want to build around that-if you were to get an offer today, you might be able to start 11/1 or 11/15 (with the hope of getting an apartment starting 12/1, if that makes sense).

      1. Spreadsheets and Books

        This hasn’t been my experience at all, so this may be regional. Every complex I’ve ever lived in has flipped units as soon as they’re clean and ready for new tenants (which makes sense from a financial standpoint… who wants to leave a unit empty to wait until the first of the month?). I’ve moved in mid-month in every apartment I’ve ever lived in, and rent was pro-rated accordingly.

      2. Jack Be Nimble

        That’s how it’s worked in cities I’ve lived, as well. And depending on when you move, it may be MUCH more difficult to find a place to stay. For example, the place I live now is a college town, and about a third of the leases in the entire city turn over on September 1st, so finding a place that starts on that date is a nightmare and inventory is super limited. Finding a place for August 1st or October 1st is significantly easier.

      3. Dweali

        In my area (metro OK) most complexes have move in/out days throughout the month, I’ve only ever looked at one that they tried telling me their policy was either the 1st or 15th, I didn’t rent from there for a few reasons but that policy was one of them

    6. Combinatorialist

      I recently relocated for a job and I would research temporary living possibilities in the new city. I lived a couple weeks in an Extended Stay Hotel. Obviously, it is not fantastic, but it was fine. Also, I would start researching living options there. Obviously don’t sign a lease until you have a job — but a lot of that legwork can be done before you have a job. Do some market research on what entry level jobs pay, figure out which neighborhoods have affordable salary, research the roommate scene of the city, identify target apartment complexes. Then you will be prepared to move quickly once you have a job offer.

      1. Washi

        Agreed on the temporary housing, and I think it can be better that way! I lived in a basement “apartment” with no kitchen or windows (but was actually quite nice) for the first 5 months when I moved for my first job because 1. it was really cheap and didn’t check my credit, which as a student was not amazing and 2. I could scope out the city and take my time to find a place in a neighborhood I was excited to sign a yearlong lease on.

        1. Washi

          (and more to the point, if your housing is temporary and therefore doesn’t need to be so stringently selected, it should only take a couple weeks to find something decent, and most employers wouldn’t expect you to start sooner than 2 weeks after an offer anyway.)

        2. TootsNYC

          if it had no windows, then it’s a REALLY good thing there wasn’t a fire–it’s not legal to rent out as a bedroom any room that doesn’t have more than one exit, and one of those must be directly to the outside. (and you must be able to actually get out of it, so teeny little ones way up on the wall won’t qualify)

          1. Washi

            There was a window in another part of the basement that I could access but wasn’t part of my living space, so I assume that’s how they got around that.

          2. fposte

            I think that’s dependent on local code, though; some places allow it if the apartment is under a certain square footage, for instance, or allows for grandfathering in older structures.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood

              And NYC has a lot of illegal sublets & subdivisions. I know because briefly rented one in Westchester.

      2. Hobbert

        Yep, many of our new hires do the extended stay hotel thing for a few weeks to get a sense of the area and where they might prefer to live. It’s probably what I would choose to do if that was an option.

      3. Jasnah

        This is exactly what I did when I changed jobs and moved to a new city. I looked at my current budget and estimated what my base living expenses were, and how much I would need to make if I cut back as much as possible/continued living freely and used that to set my minimum and ideal salary numbers. Did some research into salaries for jobs in my industry/skillset and compared them to those numbers. Then I looked at housing options to see what I could afford size-wise and area-wise, did some hard soul-searching whether I wanted a small place in a trendy area/closer to town, or a bigger place in a lame area/farther from town.

        Once I had all these numbers in an Excel spreadsheet, I could look at jobs or houses and pop it into the spreadsheet and see what my budget would look like. Once I got a job offer I was able to jump on the housing search and it ended up working out great. I know many others who lived in a guest house/youth hostel for a few months at first, this was my backup plan as well.

    7. Shark Whisperer

      It depends on if you are planning on getting your own apartment or living with roommates. If you are fine living with roommates, then I would say two weeks after the offer would be enough. I’ve found out of town roommate situations twice before in less than two weeks. If you want your own place that’ll probably take longer.

      I also had a friend that moved into an airbnb for a couple weeks when she moved for a new job until she could find her own place, so that’s also an option.

    8. nonymous

      It’s pretty common to ask for 2-3 weeks before starting. When relocating at employee’s expense, you might have to pay for period of temporary housing. There are lots of ways to do this on the cheap – couch surfing, house sitting, or staying in a friend’s RV (in their driveway) comes to mind. But it would be prudent to budget for a week at an extended-stay location. The local Y might have some low-cost options. Once you have an offer in hand, your new employer might be able to share a discount code they’ve negotiated with a national chain.

      Tip on apartment hunting: look for a big complex and plan to move again after you know the area better. Bigger complexes have people moving all the time, possibly multiple vacancies in the same week. Especially if you are new to the area or apartment dwelling in general, a six- or nine-month lease will be preferable. It will be sheer luck if you find a place you love right away (mostly because of the time-cost-quality triangle, I’m guessing the two fixed sides are time and cost), but it will be fine if you have an exit plan. If you know someone who can rent you their basement or guest room or RV in the driveway while you’re apartment hunting, that would be the best transition option. I live in a middle class suburban neighborhood in commuting distance to BigCity and I’d say about 5% of my neighbors are helping friends and family out with a spare room at any given time, excluding the boomerang kid crowd. It’s all word of mouth.

      1. Ender Wiggin

        This. You could say you are available to start immediately and just live in low cost accommodation like a youth hostel till you find a place.

    9. Overeducated

      You can do a 2 hour commute each way and find an apartment and move on weekends. It sucks, I know because I’ve done it (for more than a month) and my spouse is about to do it for an indefinite length of time, but your instinct is right that you can start the job as soon as possible.

    10. Random Commenter

      (unrelated but I understood that reference in your username and that’s one ofnmy favorite books. )

    11. nym

      In the three states and six moves I have dealt with in the past ten years, and YMMV:
      2-4 weeks is a good estimate.
      If you have done some due diligence ahead of time, many large apartment complexes (depending on if that’s the kind of thing you are looking for) will show you an apartment and let you sign a lease on the spot for move-in as soon as the following day; in my area, they show vacant apartments, rather than model units, so the unit is ready whenever you sign.
      Move-in timeline is contingent on having a satisfactory credit score and being able to provide proof of income that meets their rent guidelines.
      For rent guidelines, net pay needs to be at least 1.5x monthly rent cost, or if two or more people are sharing, their combined net pay needs to meet the same standard.
      You had to be able to show four weeks worth of pay stubs to prove this net income.

    12. Lala

      sometimes it is possible to find an AirBnB share for a temporary situation, my son did that when he was looking for a lease in Brooklyn

  8. Amber Rose

    Alison, yesterday you said you would be willing to be convinced to allow volunteer mods in a discussion on an open thread. I’m hoping its OK if I start this here! If not I’m sorry.

    The site for you is a source of income and presumably something you enjoy doing. For us, it’s a place to chat with a generally welcoming and helpful bunch of folks. If there are people making this not enjoyable for you and less welcoming for us, nobody is getting what they want.

    I spent a bunch of my teen years as a volunteer mod for a big company’s forums. It was a labor of love. Anyone who volunteers to mod a discussion space is getting what they want from doing so. And it’s not exploitive or anything. This isn’t something you put on a resume, there’s no stakes involved. It’s just for fun, so to speak.

    I hope you’ll consider it because I’d hate for this wonderful community to be a cause of unhappiness and fall apart.

    1. Anonymous Educator

      Also a former moderator here (of forums), and I’d be willing to volunteer as well (with clear guidelines—I have a general sense of how Alison would handle things, but if multiple people are involved in moderating, it’s best to have consistent guidelines, even if there will inevitably be grey areas).

      1. Bekx

        I’ve been a moderator of forums before in the past as well. And yes…some mods come down harder than others on certain things. I’ve found that it’s helpful to have some sort of mod-only space to discuss these issues. Like modmail on reddit, or a private board on forums. Perhaps a discord or google hangouts chatroom or something, just to keep things straight.

        1. Anonymous Educator

          Yes, exactly. That’s what we had where I moderated. Lots of discussions about “How do you think we should handle this?”

    2. Ann Furthermore

      I’ve been a moderator as well, and it is (or can be) enjoyable, but it’s a pretty thankless job. That being said, I believe it is much needed. I rarely comment here anymore, and that is mostly due to the small but vocal group of people who shout down opposing viewpoints, actively search for things to be offended by, jump all over anyone who might not articulate themselves very well, and have designated themselves as the PC police.

      1. KarenT

        Yes I comment much less frequently as well. I don’t mind the disagreements but the nitpicking, piling on, and tone policing are exhausting. As a regular reader and infrequent commenter, I do think the site would benefit from moderation if thoughtfully done. I think cutting down on the pilings on alone would make the comments site much more enjoyable.

      2. TootsNYC

        I was on a forum that had this problem, but the moderator was a huge part of it.

        Oddly enough, I don’t see that much of it here.

        1. LilySparrow

          LoL, I think I know what site you mean, Toots. Yeah, that one was a fish rotting from the head. This is not, thank goodness.

        2. Lily in NYC

          Oh god, I know exactly what site you are referring to (mainly because I remember your name from there); that moderator was on some sort of crazy power trip.

      3. Washi

        I’ve seen a lot of comments about the decreasing quality of the comment section, but I guess I honestly don’t feel that way? I feel like this site has a great comment section, especially given that there is no registration or accountability whatsoever, and that Alison does a fantastic job of stepping in when necessary but otherwise letting things run free.

        I wonder if there are more folks who are totally fine with the way things are and we just don’t tend to voice that because…things are fine!

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yeah, I’ve thought about doing a commenter survey, actually. One thing I know for sure is that I’ve been hearing “the comments were so much better before the past year” for about five or six years now. Now, certainly that could mean they have been in steady and constant decline, but the things people complain about have changed over time. It used to be general grumpiness, but now it’s nitpicking and chastising others.

          1. Jadelyn

            I think to a certain extent, you’ll always have some people complaining. It’s the “kids these days!” phenomenon, which has been happening for literally centuries – every generation thinks kids these days are so much worse than they were, but humanity isn’t in some kind of constant free-fall.

            1. Liet-Kinda

              This is all true, but I think certain impulses – snarky callouts, advice column fanfic, so on and so forth – can come to the fore at different times. When the prevailing tone veers towards hostile and preachy, this can be a less fun place till that subsides.

              1. valentine

                When people complain, I’d like to see examples. I don’t know who/what Ann Furthermore’s list or fanfic applies to, and charges of fanfic are new and increasing.

        2. Amber Rose

          I actually agree with you. The biggest change I’ve noted is more complaints directed at Alison for various things, which I feel is ridiculous for her to have to deal with considering all she does.

          There’s a bit more snark, but that’s because there’s a lot of comments. When the number of comments grows, the quality of those comments naturally goes down a bit over time, since they start getting repetitive or less thoughtful.

        3. TootsNYC

          yeah, me too–I like the comments section here!

          Occasionally there will be a bit of “tone policing,” but there’s generally a pushback, and it doesn’t last that long (in terms of days–there might be a lot of it on one particular day, but it doesn’t come back the next day)

        4. a1

          I’d wager the opposite. Most people who don’t like something just stop commenting and leave. You have no way of knowing how many people feel this same way because you won’t get the chance to ask. And here, it seems like the dissenters are more vocal but I’d say from my observation that’s more due to the people “defending” (for lack of a better word) the site/themselves and it looks like a lot more. Also, when something is different it stands out so you remember it more. So seeing one person say “I don’t like this” amongst several others that do, and then those several others all comment in opposition to that, and then reply to each other, etc it looks like a lot more. But meanwhile at least one person has left the site.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            I definitely think there’s something to that. At the same time, I know there’s no way to run it that will make everyone happy; nothing will ever be everyone’s cup of tea (I regularly get completely opposite complaints — some saying I’m not doing enough X and others that I’m doing too much X). So I think all I can do is figure out what makes sense to me and what I feel good about (informed by and tested against the opinions of people who are willing to weigh in, which is something a survey would contribute to).

      4. Jadelyn

        I’m more than a little concerned that calling out bias is being framed here as “searching for things to be offended by” and the phrase “PC police”, which has a nasty history of being used as a way for people to say “stop holding me responsible for the damage my words do”. If that’s the reason you think we need more moderation, then I’m going to strongly disagree and say that I hope moderation wouldn’t be used as a tool to quash actual accountability in the name of “not being too PC”.

        1. Ann Furthermore

          And here’s an example of exactly what I’m talking about, and why this will again be my last comment for awhile. It’s not useful or productive to parse people’s words and pick apart every single little thing they say.

          1. Mazzy

            This is one of the problems of the common threads here and on the internet in general, but more often here, because we can’t see the OP. Often times too much time gets spend guessing whether the person is a woman or a minority or religious minority, and more often than not, database and situation but pretty much have been the same regardless of those things anyway, so it’s annoying to have to read through all the hypotheticals. Usually I feel that, if it were germane to the story, the person writing and would’ve mentioned it from the get-go. The problem is that when you say the problem could’ve happened to anyone, then you get piled on and told that it happens more to a minority, again, which doesn’t really impact the OP or the advice.

            1. marmalade

              I agree with you, Mazzy. I like the comment section, generally, but there is SOOOO much speculation about whether the poster is female/black/disabled in specific ways/autistic/has a rare health condition/etc.
              It becomes tiring to read yet another comment being like, “Well maybe they have ADHD or are on the autism spectrum!” I mean maybe, but that doesn’t change the behaviour as reported, and in most cases it also doesn’t change the advice.

          2. Cat Fan

            This seems unfair. I think Jadelyn was right to want to clarify and disagree if that is how she feels about it.

            1. Mazzy

              I think you also need to remember that there is a very long and thorough history of calling out any sort of biases on this site. It’s frustrating to read those same sorts of comments again and again, especially when in many cases they are essentially just guessing what gender and race the OP is. I don’t know, that feels icky to me. I feel that if the OP found it pertinent, they would’ve mentioned it in their letter.

              1. Anonymous Educator

                It’s frustrating to read those same sorts of comments again and again, especially when in many cases they are essentially just guessing what gender and race the OP is.

                Sometimes people are guessing, but there have also been many studies showing that people can have internalized biases against their own groups (for example, women being biased in favor of men or people of color being biased in favor of white people).

                1. Mazzy

                  But if you’re saying internalized biases exist, wouldn’t that be an argument for not actually knowing the gender, age, sexual orientation, and race of the OP, so we can’t use those biases to impact our comments to the letter?

          3. Radical Condor

            I don’t think what Jadelyn said was “parsing [your] words and picking apart every little thing” you said. I think it was asking honestly what exactly you meant by your core concept, because “looking for something to be offended by” is an accusation really commonly thrown by bigots and abusers at their victims as a punishment for daring to object to their bigotry and abuse. So it’s a potential red flag to many people who are frequent victims of bigotry or abuse. Doesn’t mean that’s what it means every time, and in this space I’m inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt, because we generally have pretty nice people here. But it’s the Schroedinger’s Rapist concept: when we see only the statement, we don’t know whether you mean it the way we fear you might, or the way we hope you do. YOU may know you’d never mean it that way, but we don’t. It seems to me that giving you the benefit of the doubt means asking outright what you mean, rather than treating the red flag as reason enough to be wary of the speaker.

        2. New Bee

          I agree with you, but there’ve been some instances where folks claim to be defending a group they’re not a part of and make some sort of “everyone who’s anyone agrees with me” statement. And when people who are actually members of that group disagree or offer a different perspective, Original Commenter doubles down on being loud and wrong and uses the word “woke” repeatedly. I’m all for moderating that drama.

          1. Anonymous Educator

            And when people who are actually members of that group disagree or offer a different perspective, Original Commenter doubles down on being loud and wrong and uses the word “woke” repeatedly.

            Are you exaggerating, or did those comments get removed? When I search for the word woke on this site, everything is about physical waking (waking from sleep, waking from a nap).

            1. New Bee

              In terms of comments being removed, maybe so? I didn’t want to name specific commenters or list other terms that might seem to single a specific person out.

              I realized it may not have been clear that my “I agree” was in response to Jadelyn’s comment; I was just adding the caveat that I’ve noticed sometimes the Original Commenter is (self-identified) White, male, straight, Christian etc., makes a “line in the sand” statement about bias (real or perceived), and then reacts…poorly when actual recipients of the bias chime in.

        3. Liet-Kinda

          The problem is when calling out bias becomes “trolling for bias – or even just signs of insufficient wokeness – then performatively body-slamming the Problematic One from the rhetorical top rope to cheers from the crowd,” which is a thing certain of us have been overindulging in lately.

          1. Same here

            DUDE, this. Could not have phrased it better. That’s exactly the problem with comments on this site.

          2. I agree

            This is exactly it. Yes sometimes there is actual hidden bias, and sometimes it’s just people responding to invisible biased straw men while others applaud their performance. I think some people’s first instinct is to think of a snappy comeback, when it should be to self reflect.

        4. Phoenix Programmer

          Jadelyn you are correct but – clearly Ann Furthermore was not complaining about calling out bias. She was clear that her complaints we’re about a small vocal minority and the majority of commenters here do a fantastic calling out isms. You found the one not perfect phrase in her comment “PC Police” and used that to determine she must be talking about bias. It’s a perfect example of what she is talking about.

          PC Police, oversensitive, looking for offense have all been used against marginalized groups wrongly. That doesn’t mean that people can’t be oversensitive or inapporiately PC about low key items.

          When I think about my question to Alison there were several side threads bashing commenters for assuming I was a woman and how even though I mentioned pregnancy we can’t assume cis and yadda yadda yadda that had nothing to do with my question. Drove the comenters inserting a pronoun (correctly I’ll add) to stop giving me advice although I appreciated hearing the different perspectives, and was completely unhelpful to me in any way.

          1. Radical Condor

            “PC Police, oversensitive, looking for offense have all been used against marginalized groups wrongly. That doesn’t mean that people can’t be oversensitive or inapporiately PC about low key items.”

            True. This is a good reason to ask for more specifics when someone used language like that, to find out what exactly they do mean. The problem is that Ann Furthermore chose to take offense when asked what they meant, which it seems to me is precisely the right thing to do when one can’t tell which way someone means a potentially loaded phrase. That’s unfortunate, because an answer might have been enlightening, while walking away as though insulted isn’t very.

        5. Lavender Menace

          Eh, I don’t know. I think what’s being done here often crosses over from legitimately calling out bias into an annoying level of virtue signaling.

          And I say that as someone who is also usually annoyed by the “PC police”/”you just want to be offended” parlance.

      5. Anon Mod

        Heh.

        I’m a volunteer mod for a large professional networking Facebook group (40,000 members). The core commitment of the mod group is promoting and, frankly, enforcing equity in the group and centering the voices that are elsewhere marginalized. It can be frustrating — I don’t always agree with the decisions of the mod group; it sometimes feels too heavy handed to me — but the result is powerful. Having spent so much time in that forum I’m always surprised by the casual racism/sexism/etc. that’s tolerated elsewhere on the internet.

        What makes the moderation there work is a very clear set of values (and a less clear and constantly evolving set of operating principles that translate into rules). We haven’t figured out detailed “rules” for every situation, which can be frustrating for participants, but the values guide us in our decision-making.

      6. neverjaunty

        You’re assuming that the volunteer moderators would be those whose assessment of the correct tone of the site, and the behavior of other commenters, matches rather than opposes yours. That’s… very hit or miss.

        I would much rather Alison moderate more effectively and have clear mechanisms to flag comments and/or communicate with her if there is an issue.

      7. Spearmint Patty

        I agree with you, Ann Furthermore. While I abhor actual racism and prejudice, I find that the eagerness of some comments to find discriminatory motives where none seem to exist just plain annoying. One example that comes to mind is when someone expresses fear of walking alone through a bad/crime-ridden neighborhood and people accuse the person of using code for a black neighborhood.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      Thanks for raising this here! I get that you’re saying it’s a labor of love for moderators, but it’s a labor that would contribute to a site that earns money for me. It’s true that the comment section is not a major driver of that money (most people don’t read the comment section, interestingly), but I feel uncomfortable with that. I’d be interested in whether there’s a different framework to look at that through.

      1. INeedANap

        Isn’t this a similar framework that volunteering works with, though? Even if you volunteer for a non-profit, *someone* is making money. The volunteer coordinator, the CEO, the managers.

        If I volunteer at a local theater, for example, it doesn’t bother me that the theater manager is making money and I’m not. My investment is significantly less, and I consider it a privilege to support a community I believe strongly in.

        This doesn’t seem to me to be significantly different.

        1. Anonymous Educator

          And at some of those “non-profits,” the CEOs are making hundreds of thousands of dollars.

        2. Bea

          You can’t have volunteers work for a For Profit business is the thing and that’s what AAM is. That’s a non profit “perk” to allow volunteer efforts. The financials are transparent and categorized differently tax wise.

        3. Ask a Manager Post author

          The people staffing the nonprofit are earning money for their work, yes, but the overall profits the organization earns are invested back into the organization, not kept by an individual. (Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work.) AAM isn’t a nonprofit. It’s not the primary way I earn a living, but whatever money it does earn goes to me, with only a comparatively small amount being invested back into the site.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Although now I’m thinking about the letter a few months back from someone asking about using volunteers to help run her game store after her husband had died. She couldn’t legally have volunteers, say, work the cash register — but I recall lawyers in the comments saying there were specific situations where she potentially could allow volunteers, like around running events in the stores. It’s not exactly the same thing, but it’s true that if I shut down comments tomorrow, the impact to the site revenue would be de minimis. So maybe there’s something there to explore.

            1. TootsNYC

              also, there’s the idea that the open thread would be strongly analogous to allowing a gaming group to use the tables in the back and run their own event.

            2. Not So NewReader

              This sounds weird, but maybe it’s not:

              You could consider running the open forums on Friday and Saturday as your “give-back” to the general society that supports your business. So, in other words, the two open forums are a type of socially responsible gifting that you do.

              Not a lawyer and definitely not a tax person. But the precedents I am thinking of are businesses who donate their goods or services to help others as well as run a for-profit business. I am wondering if you can find a similar set up. You definitely provide help worldwide for many, many people. It’s free help to the recipients. And your advice has saved many people’s butts, I am sure if you asked for people to vouch for that you would get hundreds of comments.

              1. Foreign Octopus

                I was thinking just this.

                If Alison mods the weekly letter discussions and then we have volunteer mods at the weekend where it’s a little more about socialising than directly offering advice to the letter writers that might be a good idea. It would free up Alison’s weekends and allow for consistency between the weeks and the weekends if mods were used.

                1. neverjaunty

                  Then shut down commenting on the weekday posts. Seriously, it won’t kill anyone (and I put myself in this category) to wait until open thread time to chat. The only drawback is that sometimes commenters do have helpful advice that you may not have been aware of or, once in a blue moon, have gotten wrong – but is that going to be worth the time and effort you otherwise need to put into comment moderation?

            3. Givemeabreak

              Why not just pay someone rather than tie yourself into knots trying to figure out a way to get free labor when you already don’t feel great about it. Alternatively, if the comments really don’t drive revenue and you don’t earn much money off this blog, just close them. They offer you no value and only frustrate you.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                I think they offer me and others lots of value. For me, I frequently enjoy them and find they can provide useful feedback. There are no knots being tied here — musing about ways to make things better does mean I think they’re terrible. I actually think they’re overall quite good. I’d just love to minimize some of the more frustrating parts. There may not be a way to do that, of course.

            4. Appreciates the Comments

              A respectful request to keep the comments! They contribute to making this feel like a community, which is a value added to great advice. We need more community these days. If volunteer moderators are needed to make that sustainable, that’s okay.

      2. Amber Rose

        I think of it as somewhat similar to volunteering with a charity. For example, I volunteer for the MS Society sometimes. I’m technically doing work that brings in money for people because they’re a big organization with paid staff members, but they do a lot more for the community. You may get money from the site, but you answer our questions and host this discussion space for us without actively charging us money.

      3. LouAnn

        Here’s one possible framework: quantify the amount of value you think moderation would add. Express that as a percentage of income from the site. Commit to donating that percentage of income to a non-profit that makes sense to you (good cause, fits with your brand/the site, isn’t going to alienate readers… e.g., caring for animals or helping people after natural disasters or providing interview clothes to the homeless). That way, everyone involved is paying it forward somehow.

      4. Dragoning

        I don’t feel like it would be contribution to a site that makes money for you–as you said, the comment section isn’t really where the money is. It’s a contribution to a community here, which they are part of. You could shut this down at any time if you get tired of it, and this is people offering to help prevent losing something they enjoy.

      5. Gumby

        Would it change the way you felt if it were less, well, laborious, labor? Is it the volume of work that feels off or just the fact of it?

        If it’s the volume, what amount of work-per-person feels ok and how many volunteers would be needed at that level? I have never been a mod so have no idea what would be needed.

        For comparison’s sake, I usher and regularly put in 1.5 – 2 hours of volunteer work (some of which is, admittedly, sitting around and waiting, but it is sitting around and waiting that we are required to do) per performance. In exchange for which I get to sit either in the back or in an alcove where we can’t even see the stage for most of the concert/show/performance (we have to stay outside until after late seating) – which is generally 1.5 to 2 hours long. This ratio of work to reward feels ok to me except for the alcove part.

      6. Bekx

        So, I know for me, I’ve been trying to break into community management. I do some of this already with my full-time job, but being able to put moderating a site like this on a resume would be a really big plus to me. I wouldn’t feel taken advantage of as a volunteer mod because I would be directly getting some benefit out of it.

        I do like the idea of having your moderators being able to kick questionable posts back at you and then you having the final say. Then, if someone is kicking back something that shouldn’t be kicked back on, you can see the trends and determine where the gavel falls and what tweaks need to be made to the moderating guidelines.

        It may be more work at first, but hopefully after the first few months the bugs will be worked out and people will be more consistent.

      7. LurkieLoo

        You could offer some kind of points system for moderators based on whatever criteria you think is fair (time on the site, participation in moderator discussion, etc.) and then allow moderators to “purchase” things . . . books, services (cover letter/resume review), gift cards, shout out to their businesses (advertising), etc.

        Also, if you are able to add a “report comment” button, that can help keep moderation on the less time consuming side. Moderators won’t have to go looking for potential trouble . . . other commenters can flag it.

      8. Thegs

        Something that official video game forums I’ve been on have done is have a selection of community members with “MVP” status. They get tools to more effectively raise issues with the paid moderation team, such as jumping the report queue, a text box to describe the issue with the post instead of (or in addition to) the normal drop-down menu, that kind of stuff. So they’re less unpaid volunteers, (since reporting and ignoring rule-breaking posts should be every commenter’s community responsibility) and more people who have demonstrated good and fair judgment and are granted priority with regards to requests for moderator intervention.

      9. Blue

        Not sure if this is feasible/useful, but would it work to hold (not show) all comments for the first say, 3 hours? It seems that the first comments tend to set the tone for the entire comments section.
        Maybe it would help to get an overall feel for that particular thread, see if a post needs more stringent moderation or if you need to shut it down entirely.

        But the comments section overall feels pretty find as is. And I think you’re doing a great job moderating!

        1. Photographer

          Or a virtual assistant. I mean, it should be a paid job but it doesn’t have to cost a million bucks.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yeah, in theory paid help could definitely solve it (not an intern — I’d want someone with more seasoned judgment who was going to do it for more than a few months) but the problem is justifying the expense. The comments are a labor of love for me (and sometimes a labor of frustration); they don’t contribute much to the site revenue because only a very small portion of site visitors read them. And since the comment section accounts for such a small portion of overall site usage, it’s hard to see putting substantial money into paying for moderation.

          It has occurred to me that another option is to wash my hands of moderating entirely — but I don’t think it’s at the point where no moderation is preferable to inconsistent moderation.

          1. fposte

            Please don’t do that! In any process, random checks are better than no checks at all.

            I mean, obviously you can choose to have a life and all, but from a results standpoint, I think that could be pretty dire.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I tend to think the same — that over time it would degenerate into something very different than it is now. But it’s crossed my mind because of the complaints I’ve been getting about inconsistency. That may just be a minority of people though, and I generally have believed that some moderation is better than no moderation. It might be that I need to more clearly lay out a … philosophy of moderation, or something like that.

              1. KarenT

                I think you actually do an amazing job of moderation! While I have pulled back on commenting, it’s because I find it less enjoyable with all the snark and piling on, not because the comment section has devolved into a horrible place.
                Your somewhat frequent check ins and clear commenting guidelines make this a pretty clean corner of the internet!

              2. Morning Glory

                Is it possible to add more automated rules to commenting that would cut out some problematic behaviors?

                There are some subreddits that restrict how often you can reply to other commenters to discourage one or two users from dominating the convo or to stop one or two users from getting into a fight where they are replying quickly and heatedly.

                That would not solve everything, but it could help with some of problems.

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Probably not that exactly, but my tech person is looking into whether there’s a way to give me the ability to close a subthread from further comments, and a way to potentially cut people off after X number of comments on a thread (not as sure about that last one; I don’t want to cut off people with contributions of real value).

                2. Natalie

                  @ Alison, could they connect it to time somehow? Like, if you’ve left X comments in a 15 minute span, you have to take a break?

                  In my observation, some of the more piled upon threads seem to happen when you have a handful of people who feel VERY strongly about the topic at hand, and happen to not have lunch plans or whatever that day. Someone who is rapid fire commenting all over the thread has probably contributed what they have in those first 10 comments. But if they do have additional insights, a short lockout doesn’t prevent them from coming back and making those valuable contributions later.

                3. fposte

                  @Natalie–there was an anti-spam one like that for awhile that would block a post if you were commenting too fast (or, initially, “to fast”). I wonder if the interval on that could be tweakable and if that would help mitigate the problem. It wouldn’t completely curb last-word-itis (I speak as a sufferer myself) but it would restrict it to when blood was cooler.

                4. Annie Moose

                  I’d suggest looking into something that prevents people from making the exact same comment multiple times throughout comments–but unfortunately, often people who are repeating themselves probably reword a little bit each time.

              3. Anon Mod

                I think it’s worthwhile to (continue to) think through and articulate publicly your “theory of moderation” and/or the values or guidelines that you use. It can be useful for you, and for your most engaged/committed commenters.

                But, unfortunately, it likely won’t have a lot of impact on what happens on the site. Most folks aren’t going to read it, or aren’t going to remember it in the moment when they’re posting (or wondering what or how to post).

                On the group that I mod, folks are constantly surprised when we remind them of the values, guidelines, and rules. They’ve either never heard of them (although they are posted) or think that what they are doing isn’t addressed by them. It’s just human nature!

              4. Villanelle

                I can’t leave a reply under the other comment about what your tech person is looking into.
                Sometimes, some comments leave anywhere between 9–20 replies on post. what needs said 20 times? Quality, not quantity. You can see this on posts like the one yesterday, about the CEO. By limiting comments within a certain timeframe or a limit on how many comments one person can post then it would hopefully a) improve the quality of the comments that they are leaving, not only in content but maybe cut down the +1, I agree! etc ones as well and b) stop some posters from leading the tone of the comments. Because some posters do exactly that.

                1. Qwerty

                  I like your first suggestion of limiting the posts per timeframe. My concern with a hard limit of X posts per day is that sometimes there are meaningful discussions that are educational and I like when the OPs are able to participate with more details and updates. The timeframe option feels like a good middle ground where you just have wait it out between posts which will reduce the rapid-fire arguments and hopefully give people time to cool off between comments.

                2. Gatomon

                  What about offloading the “I agree!” to something else? I’ve seen some platforms use stars, or on Reddit some subreddits only allow upvotes. Something akin to the old Facebook like button. That way people can express themsleves without starting long threads.

            2. Foreign Octopus

              I agree with fposte.

              I think random checks are definitely better than no checks at all. Right now I think that the majority of commenters have been here long enough to know how you like to run things, more or less, and so you dipping in every now and then would just remind everyone.

          2. neverjaunty

            Bluntly: it is not possible that if you take away moderation, AAM will end up being one place on the internet where unmoderated commenting actually ends up with a commentariat that is self-policing and a boon to the community and readers. That is wishful thinking.

    4. TootsNYC

      that said–I saw a board become a very unpleasant place to be because the volunteer mod became really unpleasant and bossy. The site owner really didn’t dip in much.

      So I have some reservations. If Allison still has ultimate control, then it could work.

      1. Murphy

        Oh yeah, I don’t think anyone’s suggesting that Allison abdicate control, but it might be easier for her if she had some help.

      2. Amber Rose

        Basically it would mean that instead of trying to moderate all of the hundreds of comments, she could just moderate the mods. Less time consuming and frustrating.

    5. Bea

      I have to hard steer in the other direction.

      I’m a former mod and administrator of forums dating too far back to go that deep.

      Moderators are rarely on the same page. Someone will flex their authority poorly. Someone will get exhausted and give up. It will drive a huge wedge into the group atmosphere. There will be increased drama involved.

      I’ve had groups of opinionated individuals given too much free reign and have lost actual friendships and seen groups explode spectacularly.

      Since this is a business for Alison, she shouldn’t venture into that territory without extreme caution and personally knowing the people she’s bringing in as volunteers. It’s a super sticky ugly mess that can jeopardize her income generating source.

      1. Dragoning

        Also a “moderator” standing creates a sort of class system in the comments section–given that Alison owns the site, of course she’s in charge, but creating a level between her and “everyone else” could be an issue.

        1. Bea

          Yes. Who holds the moderators accountable? Then Alison gets the joy of “firing” one who may have already done damage to the site’s reputation.

          This isn’t a fan forum. There’s more at stake if people abandon the blog and start to question the advice if the moderation becomes an issue.

          1. Nox

            I am not a fan of human moderation due to personal politics that can occur. We see this already with regulars who will hijack threads till the person is pushed out and then act like they have performed a noble deed rather than have a discussion that may differ from their beliefs. Like if this was a workplace I wouldn’t feel safe working around any of them if that’s how they feel conflict should be managed.

            I’m a fan of upvote and downvotes to encourage free discourse in a constructive environment.

        2. LurkieLoo

          The moderators would have to login and I would think it would be easy enough to use an anonymous username such as Mod1, Mod2, Mod3 that doesn’t create a class system.

      2. Anonymous Educator

        I can see how that could happen, but that wasn’t my experience, because there was one person in charge who hand-selected the first set of moderators and really established a particular culture (that wasn’t toxic), so future nominated moderators also perpetuated that healthy culture.

        But, yeah, if you just randomly select whomever volunteers, and then you don’t manage them or put in clear guidelines, it will end up like Lord of the Flies.

        1. Bea

          No.

          We hand selected. Then they got “taken” by other loyalties that form over time.

          I’ve woken up to forums in internet flames because someone had a power trip that was rallied behind by trolls.

          These were large active groups and started out non toxic fun fests. Only to chase others into the darkness. One band ripped their entire forum down because it wasn’t worth it.

          1. Villanelle

            ok…just because this happened to you doesn’t mean it happens to everyone. It is a valid point to make to get an overall picture but it doesn’t mean – OMG we can never do this.

          2. Slartibartfast

            I had a very nice WoW guild that I was a part of for several years implode spectacularly one night when one founding member reminded another founding member that political discussion wasn’t allowed. Which rapidly devolved into defining the word ‘politics’, arguing semantics, implying tone…and, yeah. All because he took offense at being told what to do. Power trip that brought everything down in flames seemingly out of nowhere, but we had recently and suddenly had some exponential growth in our membership in the months prior, and all those new voices were too much to regulate. The guild completely dissolved and disbanded in 3 hours, after five years of community unity. Flameouts can happen with incredible speed.

          3. Slartibartfast

            Which isn’t a hard no from me, but it’s a valid concern and something to seriously consider. I’m not sure what can be done proactively to prevent such an occurrence either, does anyone have ideas on that?

      3. MattKnifeNinja

        All you need is a few bad moderators to tank a site. Even if the owner knows them personally. I’ve seen some explode like a nuclear bomb. A bad mod never believes they are doing a rotten job.

        Allison would be better off nuking the comment section. The sites I visit with heavy moderation are dying. (not social media) I would want to risk my brand image to unpaid volunteers? Who needs the hassle of worrying what an unpaid volunteer is doing? The moderators are an extension of the owner.

        Mods are great for removing spammy bot links and comments that have absolutely nothing to do with the site. The minute you start moderating for how people write, some will scream how they are being censored or the owner is x,y or z for letting the list go on like that.

        If the time spent here baby sitting the comment section cuts into the bottom line, get rid of it or pay someone to baby sit. Volunteers are fine for a hobby site, but there is too much at stake if you are paying the bills.

        I love the comment section. I’d be bummed if it left, but I would totally understand having to prioritize what brings in income.

        1. Lavender Menace

          I wouldn’t say reddit is dying, and it has moderators on many of its largest subforums. Same thing with College Confidential – that’s a thriving website with moderators.

          I’m not saying that Alison should or shouldn’t have mods, but I contend that it isn’t true that forums/sites with moderation are ‘dying.’

      4. Lavender Menace

        I’ve had different experiences. I’ve been moderating on different Internet forums for a long time, and currently moderate on two different forums. I’ve been in different kinds of mod groups. Some are not on the same page and devolve into conflict and tension. A few were a dream to work with. Most, honestly, have functioned like any other group of human beings – generally fine, with a few disagreements here and there.

        Moderation doesn’t automatically mean increased drama.

    6. Best cat in the world

      Is it possible to have a couple of volunteer mods who can knock posts back into moderation for Alison’s final say as to whether it should be deleted or not? And who can step in and ‘officially’ call for a derailment to stop and things like that? The more ‘minor’ stuff that probably takes up a large proportion of the time spent moderating. I don’t know if it would be technically possible but might make it seem less like a ‘job’ for others to do to you Alison but still be useful?

      1. Hiring Mgr

        I would like to volunteer to be the captain of the volunteers. I don’t want to do the actual moderating, but I’m fine with being in charge of the whole operation.

      2. Annie Moose

        Alternate suggestion: a report button that throws a comment into moderation after it’s been reported enough times. Then Alison could review the “worst” ones. (ideally you’d force people to enter a reason why they’re reporting it, to add a little barrier to people just clicking “report” when they don’t like something!)

      1. strawberries and raspberries

        I think there have been a number of recent threads that involve people saying ill-thought out things and then requesting that Alison delete their comments (and the ensuing conversations or derails), and some readers were observing that it seemed to be creating extra work for Alison and wanted to help out.

    7. Mazzy

      Can I ask, what would you be moderating? I mean, there’s a lot of people who go down the rabbit hole of dissecting other people’s word choices and nitpicking certain comments, but there are almost never any blatant violations of the commenting rules. I never see people posting about politics on non political threads or saying anything really offensive, so I’m not sure what you’d actually be moderating. Maybe I have missed things in some common threads recently?

      1. TootsNYC

        and if a moderator starts moderating certain comments, and OTHER word choices, then we just have more of it, no?

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        The same stuff I moderate now — rudeness/hostility, personal squabbles, significant derails, lengthy off-topic threads, politics (you may not see it because it gets removed), outright bigotry (which is fortunately the rarest of all these), etc.

        1. Sue

          Your comment section is far and away better than others I’ve seen (admittedly not an expert but do read a fair number of comment sections) that I don’t think any major changes are needed. I disagree with the complaints!
          My one suggestion for improvement is if there was a way to quickly identify when the OP is commenting. I’m always interested in seeing those comments and sometimes they’re pretty deeply buried.
          If you want less time commitment for yourself, that’s understandable and I would urge a fix that keeps things as close to the current situation as possible.

        2. Windchime

          Honestly, I feel like you do a good job of moderating and those people who complain about the level (“not enough!” and “too much!” and “unfair!”) can maybe just……go someplace else? I am fine with the balance. Honestly, when a post gets a ton of comments, I stop reading after the first 100 or so because it’s just different people saying the same thing over and over again. The open threads are an exception to that, and I just skip threads I’m not interested in.

    8. marmalade

      I like the comments here on the whole, but as others said (and I expressed this upthread), I’ve come to really dislike the way that commenters speculate about the people in the letters.
      For example, some posts have had a huge amount of discussion about whether someone is potentially on the autistic spectrum, or has a (rare) health condition, or has ADHD, etc.
      Yes not everyone is neurotypical or in perfect physical health, and it’s good to acknowledge that every now and then, but these discussions are almost always derailing from the issue. Even if there is some condition affecting the behaviour described in a letter, that behaviour still happened, and most of the time the potential condition wouldn’t change the advice anyway.

      Alison, I’ve noticed you shutting this down more, and sometimes trying to preempt it by asking that we not speculate about X and Y. I appreciate that a lot! Thank you!

    9. Givemeabreak

      It seems super unethical for someone to make money off a site and use unpaid labor to moderate it.

    10. Not my real name

      I have been reading and commenting here for years; I don’t think there is a way to solve these complaints other than letting them roll off your back. The only other option is a paid assistant. Any other option is simply allowing the problem to get bigger and be more frustrating for you. This can’t be solved by crowd sourcing. I think you have four basic types of AAM followers.

      1. Regular internet consumers: they may be “regulars” or people who come across specific posts when they are googling something. They may or may not participate in the comment section but overall they take it or leave it because they know it’s the internet.

      2. The “in crowd”. These are the regular readers and posters who seem….so personally invested in this site. They refer to the group as “we” and try to mini-moderate and tone police and are basically your (Alison’s) white knights. They think of this place as their home, spend TONS of time here, apologize profusely is they disagree with your advice, defend any criticism (real or perceived) against you with excessive zeal and have an almost hive mind about certain topics; dissent is barely tolerated.

      3. The out crowd- these are regular posters who are not particularly well liked by the “ins” and who are judged hyper critically until they are run off or they change their user names. There are varying degrees of “outness” but it is a noticeable faction none the less.

      4. The Hate Readers- they post here and elsewhere about here and can have a lot of trolling behavior. They may formally or currently be part of the out crowd. I think they probably encourage or at least cheer on the discontent because they find it amusing and they discuss it at length in other forums. They have favorite “characters” from the ins and outs and participate in elaborate fan fiction and exaggerated complaining about “common themes”. Note, they are sometimes right, but they are also wrong a lot.

      Your biggest problems are 2 and 3 and since they are diametrically opposed to each other, you will never succeed in finding a middle ground that satisfies both of them.

      So, if i were you, and I’m not, but if I were, I would probably stop reacting to the complaints because I think the reactions actually rile everyone up. It give the 2’s the positive feedback that they are part of a “we” with you and an outsized sense of self importance and for the 4’s, it just gives them more reason to continue to press the issue for their own entertainment.

      TLDR; you are contributing to the complaints by validating them instead of just moderating in a way that makes sense for you and your business.

      1. FD

        While I don’t 100% agree, I do think there’s something to this analysis.

        I think at a certain point, you may need to decide exactly what you want the comments to be as well. Earlier in the site’s history, it was more of a community (I’m not saying this as a ‘good old days’ statement–it was smaller and less well known and a lot of commentors simply got to know each other because there weren’t that many). It was niche enough at that point that it tended to attract people that were similar in general (e.g. I would suggest that a lot of the longer-time readers tend to be see work as a larger part of their identity than the average).

        The thing is that the comments are now at the size where that’s necessarily true anymore, because it’s gotten large enough and popular enough that you’re seeing a better cross-section of people in general.

        So, the question is, do you WANT to continue to maintain that community feel? Because realistically, communities are generally formed on the basis of some similarities, in attitudes, in approach, etc. If people don’t feel that group cohesion in some way, they will stop seeing it as a community. People call that ‘group think’ or ‘exclusion’, but I don’t think it has to be a per se negative thing. All communities set standards, and most develop general beliefs and theories over time. People that don’t like the standard, or who don’t agree with the beliefs/theories of the group tend to leave.

        If you choose to maintain the community, you probably need to have some sort of moderation system, because the site volume will only continue to grow, and you will probably struggle to maintain the cohesiveness you started with.

        However, it is also valid to decide that you would rather not maintain it as a community, but would rather let it be more disparate. I do think you will probably lose some of your long-time commentors over time, because many of them came for the community rather than just for the advice itself.

        So to a certain degree, you might want to consider–how much does it matter to YOU that it feels like a community and/or that you have commentors that are really invested in the site? What makes you feel most satisfied? Is it more knowing that your advice has reached so many people, or is it more the connections you’ve made with individuals on this site? Or perhaps something else?

        1. Lavender Menace

          I work in and do research on online community formation (as part of my day job, I mean). Places that allow comments or other forms of interaction will form communities regardless of whether the creators curate/manage that or not. The difference, though, is that if creators choose not to moderate/curate/guide the community, they don’t have much control over where the community goes – and it’s much harder to course correct than it is to start one from the beginning.

          I think it’s a valid choice for people who create content to decide not to steer a community in a specific way. Some people just want to create content. But I think it’s important for those content creators to realize that choosing not to doesn’t mean that the people who come here will be “more disparate.” It just means that a community will form without their explicit guidance or input for how it goes.

          I’d argue that Alison hasn’t done that – her commenting rules, for example, set a tone for the way people interact with each other. Even the way that she posts and the tone she takes when answering questions sets the tone for the way she expects people to act here.

      2. Lavender Menace

        Hm, this is interesting.

        I think the characterization of #2 is a little reductionist. There are plenty of regular readers who are personally invested in the site but do not engage in the kind of behavior you listed (mini-moderate, tone police, etc.) A lot of the regulars regularly disagree with Alison’s advice and/or give a different perspective on it, and I’ve seen some really good discussions involving regular readers in which lots of people have different opinions.

        I do believe that there is a small subset of regular readers who are personally invested in engaging in these kinds of behaviors…that’s par for the course for Internet personalities, though. (Not saying it should pass without comment; just saying it’s not unique to this blog. I actually think it’s less intense here than it is on, say, YouTube.) I do agree about the hive mind thing, though, particularly on certain topics.

        The rest of them, though…I think there’s something to that.

    11. Phoenix Programmer

      Honestly before moderation I would prefer spell check and/or an edit button. A like button to reduce the “this!” comments.

      1. Bibliovore

        Okay Not My Real Name. Trying to figure out if I am a 1 or a 2. I really appreciated your analysis and my take was that the comments section isn’t broken. When commenters seem off the rails, I stop reading.

        1. Not my real name

          Ha! Well I think just like in “real” life, there are outliers and people who fall partly into more than one category.

      2. Annie Moose

        The problem with edit buttons is that people can reword what they said maliciously, to make it look like everyone responding is overreacting, or just generally to confuse matters. I think the best edit buttons are time-limited, where you can fix spelling mistakes or reword things for the first five minutes or so, but then the post is locked.

    12. Not So NewReader

      I am not seeing a huge problem, but that is probably because I am not able to spend as much time reading as I used to. However the one thing I am noticing is the frequency of these types of threads (this one with over 110 comments) talking about the problems and what to do here. It’s probably just coincidental, but I think I am seeing more of this type of post than I am seeing than the actual posts that people are complaining about.

      I dunno. Just my opinion, but I think there is a tipping point where the frequency of talking about the problem almost becomes part of the problem itself.

      And I am disheartened by comments regarding the use of the word “we”. I know I use it a lot and I mean it in the context of anyone reading here. I think I have read enough of other people’s comments to believe that when most commenters say “we” they mean everyone also. I am not sure what we would do to help people not to feel excluded. If anyone has actionable steps/ideas, I would be happy to read that.

    13. Lavender Menace

      I will second this – that modding for a for-profit company isn’t necessarily exploitative. I am a volunteer moderator on two different forums run by two different for-profit businesses. I volunteer because I really love the forums and the information that’s dispensed in those places. It doesn’t feel exploitative to me; there are enough moderators on each that I can come and go as I please and don’t feel pressured to be around more than I already would be if I wasn’t modding (which was every day before I even started). I also know that I can leave whenever I want.

      I think this blog is in the same place, where it’s so beloved by many of the regulars that there are lots of people who would love to be a mod here – would jump at the chance to maintain the community that they already spend hours on every day.

      1. Not my real name

        I contend that the regulars who would want to volunteer are part of the problem. How about everyone stops telling Alison what “we” should do and let her run her business?

        1. Jean (just Jean)

          tl;dr: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it–and mostly AAM seems pretty fine to me as is.

          longer version:
          I want to emphasize the self-regulating mechanisms of the AAM comments. If posts are interesting, I’ll read. If they are boring or annoying, I will scroll down to the next thread, or stop reading entirely.

          What no moderator can control is the issue of each commenter’s available time and energy on any given day or weekend. Heck, sometimes it’s a mystery to each commenter also. :-D

          I don’t post much during the week because I don’t feel right about logging in from work and outside of work I don’t have much free time (because commuting, family, sleep, self-care and minimal housework). On the weekends my participation varies inversely depending on my real-world, bricks-and-mortar activities and obligations.

          I really appreciate the tone of kindness towards internet strangers and try to model my own responses in similar fashion: less complaining, more positivity. It’s helpful when people share their own experiences and observations; I try to do the same without submitting a wall of text (ha? ha!) in each comment.

          Much as I enjoy humor I’ve learned to go lightly because there are so many dangers to fall into (snark, snideness, disdain, outright hostility) even without any negative intentions. Foot in mouth is as much a hazard online as in the s0-called real world.

        2. Anonymous Celebrity

          I agree with you, Not My Real Name. I like the comments section as-is. Sure, sometimes things get nit-picky or repetitious or speculative, or too PC for my taste, but I like the diversity of comments. My concern with the folks clamoring to be moderators is that they want to weed out comments they don’t agree with, or that have a “tone” they don’t approve of.

          If I don’t like the way a thread is going, I scroll past it. It’s easy. This is one of the most civilized, and civil, comments sections I’ve ever read. Allison, I vote for no moderators.

          1. Arts Akimbo

            Agreed. I have been lurking on this site for years now and have read the archives back since the very beginning, and this is the first discussion that has prompted me to delurk.

            I like the comments section here, and I like it now more than ever. I love the growth that has occurred over the years, and it would be a shame to have it stifled just because some people don’t like certain discussions. That’s what scrolling past is for! I think this commenting section is extremely respectful on the whole, and when they’re not, I’ve seen it get called out. (That includes people calling each other out for piling on unpopular commenters.) I like the line that Allison has drawn and the way it is currently maintained.

            People are talking about in-crowds and out-crowds and… I just think it’s people being people. I don’t see anything toxic here, and I love that people here are largely willing to examine their own behavior for toxicity. But sure, in any group situation, some people are going to agree and some will disagree, and I don’t think that’s necessarily any indication of some overarching trend toward collapse.

            (I have been a mod on a 1000-member group, and am currently one on a 5000-member group. I do *not* volunteer! ;) )

  9. Not a Unicorn

    So I’m trying to figure out how best to do this. I’m enrolling part-time in a local community college for an associates degree starting in January (I currently already have a bachelors but in an unrelated field). So I basically have 2 questions:

    I want to do internships and I know some of the big companies I’m eyeing are already posting them with the requirement that one must be a college student. Would it be ok to apply to them now with me noting that I will be in college again before the internship starts (say in the summer)?

    Also, how to write this on my resume? As noted I have a bachelor degree already but in X field while the associates degree is in Y and more related to what I want to do now. Should I put it above the bachelor degree on my resume? Thanks!

    1. Less Bread More Taxes

      Definitely put it above! It’s more recent AND more relevant. I’d say something like “Example Community College, anticipated graduation June 2021”.

    2. Tara S.

      I would shoot an email to internships you are interested in to clarify if it’ll work, or maybe the internship coordinator/admin, if your community college has one.

    3. MissDisplaced

      Generally, the highest degree tends to go first, but in your case the associate’s degree would go first as the most recent and relevant to what you’re pursuing now.

    4. Junegemini

      Check the internship requirements with the companies, you might need a certain number of credit hours completed before you can be considered for the internship. And since you aren’t enrolled, you really aren’t a college student, that could be a sticking point. Yes, you plan to enroll part-time but what if you don’t. Also, reviewing the internship requirements for your college program.

      1. Not a Unicorn

        Actually the enrollment is already 90% done. Been in the works for awhile and just waiting to talk to advisor to set out a schedule starting Jan. so all good there :) Also yes, I am scrutinizing each internship requirements to make sure I match all of them before I’d apply.

  10. Nervous Accountant

    Ok so this is kind of really vague and more general but question on my mind–what flaws/shortcomings is a manager or employee allowed to have while still being considered a “good” manager/employee?

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      For the most part, I think it has less to do with what kind of flaws they are, but rather how they’d handled or compensated for. No one is perfect, but knowing your shortcomings and actively working to overcome them counts for a lot.

    2. Anonymous Educator

      I’d say anything that isn’t illegal or blatantly immoral, that doesn’t harm the bottom line of the company or mission of the school/org, and that the employee or manager is willing to admit to and work on.

    3. KMB213

      For me, it’s not a question of what flaws, but a question of severity of flaws, willingness to acknowledge flaws, and willingness to correct flaws.

      For example, I’ve worked with people who are imprecise in their verbal communication before. If the person is still generally clear but not precise, knows this, and writes a quick and clear e-mail confirming the details after in-person communication, it goes a long way toward mitigating that shortcoming. (This goes whether it’s someone I’m supervising, a manager, or a peer.)

      I also think it depends on the role. Someone who has trouble being exactly on time would be a poor fit for a client-facing role – you don’t want to be late to meetings with clients. But, that same person would be fine in a role where the work is all self-directed, when being there at a precise time doesn’t matter. Of course, if someone roles in at noon everyday when she is supposed to be in at 9:00, that’s going to be a problem either way, since coworkers may need her for something. But, if she gets there at 9:05, in many jobs that wouldn’t be an issue, but it likely would be if there was a client meeting at 9:00.

    4. Enough

      I think this is very subjective as every manager or employee will have different ideas on what is a shortcoming.

      1. NicoleK

        This. My coworker is incompetent at 50% of her job, but people love her and think she’s doing an a great job. Our boss doesn’t seem to have any problem with the fact that coworker is only great at 50% of her job.

        1. Sloan Kittering

          This may make total sense if that 50% she’s good at is hard to staff and valuable, and they could hire others to cover for the other 50%.

        2. MissDisplaced

          I’ve known a lot of sales people like that. They’re great at the 50% of their job that is sales/client relations but absolutely suck at follow-up, documentation and just about everything else. One person could not even ‘operate a spreadsheet’ in Excel. And yet all was forgiven because they brought in business.

          1. Sloan Kittering

            That makes sense though. You can probably hire an admin to take over the documentation a lot easier than you can hire a good sales person – it’s a rarer skill. And if your business is trying to move product, it’s the sale that’s paying your bills. (Of course, most places I’ve worked never do hire that admin, they just keep terrible terrible records and live in a state of chaos – but that’s the choice they’re making).

          2. Someone Else

            I’ve worked with sales people like this also. They make tons of sales…on paper order forms. IT spends a disproportion amount of time teaching and reteaching them to do things like….log in to Windows. Or…close a window on screen, not exit the application, just close one window in it without exiting…nope…wait – don’t click there…aaaa…let’s start over.
            Being on the IT side it was reallllllllly rough to understand how they kept those jobs. But apparently if 9/10 sales people do everything in the (computerized) sales system with ease, but that 10th person makes 50% of the sales, the computer illiteracy is forgiven.

      2. Falling Diphthong

        And every job. Some jobs you can be lax about details, especially if you’re otherwise excellent; other jobs that quality means you need to be fired.

        Thinking here of a previous thread and how a good trial lawyer can be bad at details, but a legal assistant whose job it is to catch details can’t.

        1. Sloan Kittering

          Yes absolutely. In my nonprofit world, managers are often unprecise and messy about details in a way that assistants or coordinators could not be. That is why the managers hire assistants and coordinators, and in general they are still considered excellent managers even if they are never on top of their inbox/ are late to everything / never remember the purple widgets or whatever. Many of them here don’t even have subject matter expertise. What they need to be great at is usually communication, vision, and oversight/motivation of lower employees.

    5. Bea

      It depends on what and who they’re managing.

      I’ve had production managers who are loud and gruff but generally good managers otherwise.

      My bosses have eventually all been sparse. I know it drives others mad not to have them easily accessible. I just text or call if it’s important. Others are frustrated because that’s a step they think shouldn’t exist.

      I’ve had stubborn managers. Managers with a language barrier. And it’s about how flexible and adaptive the crew is. They are great at their job because their job is to get X done and they get it done. Some personalities will just clash and hate their style.

      It’s about the majority vote in that sense.

    6. Trisha

      I am a very flawed manager and yet those who report to me (and formerly) consider me a good manager. It took me years to realize why. I’m human, I make mistakes, I forget stuff, I pick and choose my battles with other departments, I forget to communicate sometimes, other times I over share, I slack off sometimes, I act too friendly or too cold sometimes….the list of my shortcomings is long. :o)

      However, I treat employees like human beings, I don’t expect perfection from them, Family comes first as does their health, I’ve got their backs when other departments come down on us, I encourage them to be their best, to find parts of the job that they love, like or just prefer. I deal with good stuff, bad stuff and everything in between. I’ll have difficult conversations even though they make me uncomfortable. I want them to succeed and be happy.

      It’s not about flaws or shortcomings, it’s about your overall performance and your big picture view.

      1. Not So NewReader

        This is so true. People are great at overlooking things if most things go okay and don’t turn into a big drama/meltdown. Basically if a person becomes known as a boss who tries to be fair that will carry the person through a lot of situations. The key is to be fair, day after day, after day……..

    7. Jillociraptor

      The flaw I’m not able to “forgive” in an employee or a manager is unwillingness to take personal responsibility for their work. I’ve worked with people (including managers) in huge stretch roles who were really not getting the content of their work down, but the ones who showed up every day ready to learn from what they didn’t get right the day before are worth my investment of time and patience. The ones who blamed others, blamed circumstances, or just plain didn’t take it seriously that they weren’t getting the job done yet, immediately lost credibility and respect.

    8. LilySparrow

      I think attitude and fit have a lot to do with it, too.

      One of my best bosses had a reputation for being impatient, demanding, brusque, condescending, and hard to work with.

      I found that a lot of that was a cultural and “coding” issue, in that his direct, brief communication style was not typical in our region (southern US), but very normal in the region I used to live (New York). He was demanding, in that he wanted a very high level of polish and presentation, not only in client work but in everyday details. He was trying to push the company out of a middling market level and position it in a high-end “boutique” niche.

      On the other hand, he was extremely consistent in what he wanted. Easy to please, as long as you understood what he was going for and were willing to put the energy into it.

      I got him, and yeah he could be a PITA sometimes. I wouldn’t want to hang with him socially, but in a working relationship we got along great.

      Everyone else at my level loathed him.

    9. LGC

      Oh man, I really wanted to reply to this SO badly earlier, but I needed a keyboard because I’m going to go hard.

      So I skimmed over a lot of the comments, and I feel like it’s HUGELY subjective and it’s a matrix of things. Basically, it’s whether the flaws are significant enough to outweigh the value the employee or manager brings, and that’s a REALLY subjective judgment.

      I’ll use myself as an example, because it’s probably the least contentious example. (Although, this requires me to evaluate myself, which is REALLY hard to do!) I’m naturally an introvert, and further I’m really sensitive to noise so I’ve constantly got headphones on. I can get frustrated with employees and coworkers – in fact, I got reprimanded last week for something I said in an announcement. (It was telling my team to “shut up.” I meant it jokingly, but it was still wrong.) I don’t like confrontation, except when I get things into my head and I go on the warpath. And I’m primarily a shift supervisor.

      All of these traits are not great, and things I’m working on. (Except the headphones. Those are a part of me.)

      But also…like, I try to treat my teams like they’re adults (despite their efforts to convince me otherwise). I try to be open to hearing criticism from people about things, and try to find problems to solutions where I’m empowered to. I personally believe that my team is the most important part of the team (to be quite honest, they’re the ones that do the actual work), so I want to make them feel as valued as I can (which is pretty hard for a low-level supervisor!). And I try not to apply pressure to my teams unless necessary. And it shows – not to toot my own horn, but I’m one of the more popular supervisors/managers in the company. And I get results as well.

      Further, I’ve branched out into billing, reporting, and data analytics, and I’m getting better at that sort of stuff. And on top of that, I’m basically a third IT person at this point – I can figure out most issues on my own, and know how to fix them. (And I know when IT really needs to be called!)

      If I had to evaluate myself or someone like myself…I’d be on the fence. The supervisor would seemingly have deficiencies in key functions – he doesn’t have his full attention focused on his team, he’s snippy at times (hey, I actually used snippy to describe a guy!), and he’s not necessarily a “people person” in the traditional sense. But he also is pretty good at getting buy-in to the team, apparently, and he puts out deliverables. Plus, he’s got somewhat unique skills – he actually enjoys some administrative tasks (like reports), and he’s good at technical things (which is actually great for the kind of work we do, where our systems…have quite a few failure points). And it kind of shows in my performance reviews – I generally get satisfactory-good (so like 3.5/5), and my bosses have explicitly told me that they almost never give out 5’s on performance reviews to begin with.

      I’m really flawed, and I don’t know if I want to be a manager. But also, I try to cover for my flaws by being great in a lot of other places.

  11. ACDC

    My boss is a “consultant” for a MLM essential oil business on the side. Since my first week with the company (almost a year ago) she began pressuring me to sign up under her. She even made an account for me and paid the enrollment fees (!). Since then, she’s invited me to numerous “oil parties” at her house, used my time at work to schedule meetings with me to talk about her MLM products/promotions/whatever, and has texted me monthly reminders to get my order in. She’ll even give me free products and samples at work as “rewards for a job well done.” Obviously this has crossed all of the professional boundaries known to man, and I didn’t speak up soon enough because she’s my boss and I just started at the company so didn’t want to rock the boat in any way. I’m tired of this though and I don’t know how to get out of it without making things weird.

    HELP?????!!!!

    1. soupmonger

      Why can’t you just thank her for including you up to now, but tell her you’re not interested? Why would that make things weird?

      1. ACDC

        She takes things very personally and often refers to me as “her child” and other inappropriate things like that. She also tends to be very passive aggressive when something doesn’t go her way.

        Sorry, probably should have included that context in my original comment!

        1. The Ginger Ginger

          Ohhhhh no. Can you, I don’t know, fake an allergy or something? Phrase it as, “I’ve found that these really bother my allergies, and I don’t think that’s going to help build interest in these oils/look good for your business, so I have to bow out going forward”?

          I don’t typically advocate fibbing, but if boss is unreasonable, all bets are off. Otherwise, I think you need to involve HR if you have one and they are reasonable.

          1. Parenthetically

            With someone this high pressure, she is 1000% going to come back with, “Well you MAY have found you’re allergic to INFERIOR QUALITY essential oils, but with Lab Certified Pure 100% Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils TM, you CAN’T be allergic, soooooo…”

            As expensive as oils are, I’d just say it’s not in the budget.

            1. Natalie

              I think since she’s trying to sign the OP up as a consultant, though, she’s likely to reject that excuse as well. After all, everyone who signs up for an MLM makes money, it’s a science fact! *Science facts may not be factual.

            2. Waiting for the Sun

              Yes! The essential oils MLMs probably have a special hypoallergenic line specifically so people can’t use this excuse.
              Plus, people who push MLMs often move from one product to another when (surprise) being a consultant for Product A doesn’t make them oodles of money and the ability to retire their husbands. In a few months she may switch to some other product, like cookware, for which you can’t use an allergy excuse. Better to end it with too busy/not in my budget/don’t want to mix work and side hustles.
              You have my sympathies. Good luck!

          2. ElspethGC

            I know several people with migraines triggered by essential oils. Even besides actual migraines, headaches can also be triggered by the same oils that soothe them in other people. Claiming fake allergies is a pretty serious thing, and I know people who were adversely affected because of previous encounters with fake allergies. Saying oils trigger headaches and sometimes migraines is a common one, though – and possibly not a complete falsehood, because in my experience everyone has at least one scent that triggers a headache.

        2. Natalie

          In that situation your best bet might be acting a little passive and vague until she gives up – “Oh, I’m really busy, I’m sorry I can’t join you!” I honestly wouldn’t bother telling her any specific criticisms. Even the most reasonable people who get sucked into an MLM don’t usually want to hear facts, and she’s already shown herself to be pretty unreasonable.

          1. fposte

            Yeah, that’s what I’d go with. A regretful “Sorry, I can’t make it work this time” every single time. While job-searching.

        3. Jenn

          It sounds like you’re never going to find the ‘magic’ words to make her react like a calm, level-headed adult, so why not just say what you want to now and start setting the boundary?

          1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup

            I recommend watching John Oliver’s segment on MLM’s. Very therapeutic and boundary-strengthening.

        4. Friday afternoon fever

          New job?

          Definitely there are many factors that you should consider that aren’t in your post, so I don’t know for sure that you should start job searching.

          But if your boss is inappropriate and passive aggressive, and you don’t see that changing, you should consider whether you want to start looking for a new job. Year at the company is definitely enough time to move on if you like.

          If you do want to stay with the company it may be helpful for commenters to know more about the org structure — ie what options or other higher level people resources you have if your boss escalates anything (marketing or her behavior) after you ask to be excluded from future MLM.

          1. ACDC

            Definitely might be time for new job. It’s a really small nonprofit, about 8 full time employees. To add to the dysfunction, our ED is my boss’s husband, and boss is the 2nd highest ranking employee at the org. It’s a mess.

            1. Friday afternoon fever

              WHEW. New job time!!!

              In the meantime, I really like the suggestion of vaguely apologetic brush-offs that don’t give her much ground to push back on your excuses. Some suggestions below that … may not work if your boss is actually an infant —

              she’s invited me to numerous “oil parties” at her house (grosss)
              = “Sorry, I have a prior commitment, but have fun!”

              used my time at work to schedule meetings with me to talk about her MLM products/promotions/whatever
              = If you need to talk to her about other things — “Before you start I had a question about X-Work-Thing that I was hoping we could address”
              = If you need the time to get other work done — “Sorry, I’m really wrapped up in X-Work-Thing, can we table this for another time?” If she says no, you must attend her essential oil pitch meeting at this moment, you can be politely matter-of-fact about how this will impact your ability to get your work done on time. (framed like, “OK, we will need to move the deadline back for X though so that I have enough time to complete it, does that sound OK?” — i.e., of COURSE you want to come to her essential oil pitch meetings, you just want to make sure all the rest of your work is taken care of so you can give her all of your attention; as your manager can she help you balance these two equally important parts of your workload?)
              = If she truly will not let you bow out of these meetings …. at least you’re at work, so you’re getting paid for it! If she wants to pay you to listen to her pitch, then start considering it one of your core job duties to sit there and smile and tune out everything she says.

              has texted me monthly reminders to get my order in.
              = If this is phrased as a question, you could respond with something like “Sorry, it’s not in my budget this month!” If this is phrased as a statement/reminder, you could try ignoring it and if she follows up then say “Oh, I saw that! Unfortunately it’s not in my budget this month.”

              She’ll even give me free products and samples at work as “rewards for a job well done.”
              = “Thanks, that’s so generous! I still have some samples from last [month/week/hour], do you want to keep these to give to someone else?” If she insists you take them, do so, smile, thank her, and take great pleasure in throwing them away the instant you get home.

              And job search. (A lot of the “going along with it for now” advice is stuff you can really only stay sane doing if you know you are looking for other jobs and this is temporary.) Best of luck.

              1. MissDisplaced

                Good suggestions! I am not a fan of lying or being misleading such as saying allergies. Better to be more direct with “Sorry, I’m really not interesting in participating in the MLM oils business.” Keep repeating.

                1. Friday afternoon fever

                  If this were the first time ACDC had been pitched to, or if their boss wasn’t as passive aggressive as it sounds like they are, then I agree that something direct like you suggested would be the way to go. But I think in these circumstances (a year of pitches + a frustratingly behaved boss) there is an argument to be made for being more delicate while working on an exit plan

              2. Camellia

                has texted me monthly reminders to get my order in.
                = If this is phrased as a question, you could respond with something like “Sorry, it’s not in my budget this month!” If this is phrased as a statement/reminder, you could try ignoring it and if she follows up then say “Oh, I saw that! Unfortunately it’s not in my budget this month.”

                I would stay away from ‘not in my budget’ because that opens the door to “Fantastic! If you join my MLM you will have PLENTY of money!”

                I would stick with “Sorry, not this time.”

        5. blackcat

          I think you might be in “Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change” territory.
          Any chance of a new position within the company?
          How long were you at your last job? If it was a while, I’d aim to jump ship around the 18 month mark.

        6. Rhiiiiiiannnnnnnon

          I’m not a fan of lying, but if her personality won’t accept a firm “no thank you,” then I would keep the focus on excuses outside of your control. Like fiances: “I’m sorry I’m saving up for X, Y, Z, and I’m not able to make any extra purchases right now.” Or maybe you suddenly develop an allergy to these products. “I’m sorry, I started having a bad reaction to the oils, I’m going to detox my body for a bit and not use anything.”

      2. Sabine the Very Mean

        Not the LW but boss has already made it weird and doesn’t seem all that reasonable considering the lines she’s already crossed. I’d be terribly worried about increased cray-cray.

    2. ContentWrangler

      This is so over the line of professional boundaries, especially since she’s using work time to try to drum up money for her side job. I think you probably have to politely (because she’s your boss) but firmly state that you are not interested in the MLM and don’t want to talk about it at work. If she schedules a meeting with you and tries to go into MLM mode, redirect to a real work issue or question.

      Unfortunately, this is such bad behavior and has been going on for a year, that I worry she won’t stop after you ask – in that case, I think you should go to her supervisor or HR. She is using time they are paying her to work to harass her employees into giving her money. Any decent company would put a stop to that immediately.

    3. The Ginger Ginger

      I’d start with a single, firm but vague, “I am no longer able to participate in anything re: the essential oils. Please remove any account in my name (WTF?!), and don’t continue to ask me for orders.” If she tries to pressure or ask why just – “I’m sorry; it’s no longer possible for me to participate.” If that doesn’t work, well….Do you have HR? Because I think this might be the time for them.

      1. ACDC

        Sadly we don’t have HR! The Executive Director is, in theory, who I would go to with those sorts of issues… BUT, Our ED is my boss’s husband, and boss is the 2nd highest ranking employee at the nonprofit. If you’re on the outs with one of them, your on the outs with both of them.

        I’ve been slowly coming to the idea that it might be time to job search…

        1. samiratou

          Oh, I didn’t see your reply. That’s..messy.

          Yeah, your boss sucks and isn’t going to change, so I’d start job searching.

        2. The New Wanderer

          Sorry, I think a new job might be your only option. Referring to you as her “child” is really not okay. But worse, setting up an MLM account in your name? There’s no way she could get away with that in an organization with a decent HR, but I seriously doubt her husband will step in and correct this.

          Good luck on the job search and get out ASAP!

        3. RickTq

          Is the board active/engaged or a rubber stamp for the ED? If they are active you might want to bring this unprofessional behavior of both the ED and his wife to their attention.

          If her MLM activities are bleeding over into external meetings that would look very bad for the organization.

          1. ACDC

            Sadly the board is incredibly passive. About half of them have been on the board for decades. Only 1-2 board members have business experience, the remaining 10 or so are community members from the demographic our organization serves. Not saying there is anything wrong with that, but it doesn’t prove to be the most productive use of a board in my opinion. (PS This is the only place I’ve ever worked with a BoD, so appreciative of any comments to negate my conception about what a BoD’s purpose, etc. is!)

            The person previously in my position went to the board when the wife was hired on and felt like she (previous employee) was getting slowly pushed out of her position because of the nepotism. She got fired about a month later for “insubordination.” Crazy town…

        4. MillersSpring

          How about, “I feel awkward, because I really like working for you, but I’m not interested in participating in businesses on the side. It’s a boundary that I want to maintain. I appreciate your support in my office role. I hope we can continue our strong working relationship!”

          Then get out ASAP.

      2. samiratou

        Agreed. Be polite, but firm, but if she continues then you need to escalate to HR or her boss. If it were my report doing something like this I would flip. So, so not OK.

    4. LouAnn

      You can’t control how your boss reacts, but you can professionally, clearly, kindly, politely state and enforce a boundary. (If you don’t know how to do this, it’s a good skill to develop, that will serve you in many places in life.) And if your boss doesn’t respond well, you can make a choice about whether to escalate the new issue (to your boss’ boss and/or HR, if available) and/or whether to take it as information about whether you want to stay in the job.

    5. Bea

      Arrrrrrgh it’s like a cult. She’s been brainwashed and will not see reason until she decides to question the validity.

      I would just tell her that you’re not interested in continuing and NEVER order anything.

      The sample gifts will never cease. Just throw them away.

    6. AMA Long-time Lurker

      Yikes – this may be a bigger issue than you think it is! If your boss is using company time to promote her personal business, so may be in violation of HR policy. Many companies explicitly state that employees can only perform minimal personal business on company time, and mine even states that any business that actually makes you MONEY is prohibited. Furthermore, she is using her position of power to try to unduly influence her employees, which is unethical. I would report this to HR ASAP, regardless of how long you’ve been there.

    7. Purple Jello

      Just a thought… if she set you up as a consultant without your permission, you may want to notify the MLM company, especially if you’ve never placed an order. She’s falsified your consent, possibly used your social security number to create the account. I think they’d want to know this. I can see that you might want to wait until you’re out from under her management, but I would seriously consider doing this.

      1. ACDC

        She didn’t set me up as a consultant (thank goodness!), just set me up as a “loyalty member” or whatever they call it. It was weird… When I asked her why she did that, she said “well I did the same thing for my daughter who’s your age and I figured you would like it too!”

        1. Roja

          Ahhh yeah, depending on the company, that might be basically the same thing. Between AAM and a large FB group I’m a part of, there are enough stories about employers using employee information to sign them up to make one really wary. Usually in this case they’re ordering stuff using your name to boost their own numbers. You may or may not ever even see an invoice or have any idea what they’re ordering, but it’s boosting their numbers regardless. I can’t remember whether it was here or elsewhere, but in that case the employer actually stole the employee’s SSN and financial info from the company database to sign them up, which is illegal. IIRC the employee found out because of a stray email received from the company, so they talked to the police and informed them that they didn’t want to press charges but could they just give the employer a stern talking-to… which they did, and the fraud stopped.

          Sorry, but I’ve seen too many of these stories to be optimistic that it’s going to end well… might just be new job time. :/ Sellers just get SO persistent.

        2. Waiting for the Sun

          (Based on your username)
          “Havin’ trouble with the company head, she’s giving you the blues.
          Wants to push her MLM junk – she needs some concrete shoes!”
          Sorry, couldn’t resist. Happy Friday!

    8. MLMs Not Welcome Here

      Ugh. I’ve been on the receiving end of the essential oil MLM pushers myself. Unfortunately, your only option is to be pretty up front about not wanting to participate. It’s easier to do at the beginning rather than after you’ve been sucked in, but consider this a lesson learned for future use.

      For now, you’re going to need to tell your boss that you’re sorry, but you have to back away from participating in the essential oils life. You don’t need to make up some story as she’ll find a way to see through and may be more offended. You can tell her something like it’s using up too much of your personal time, and it’s stressing you out….you need to focus on the work you were hired to do because you have career ambitions (feel free to list them here)….or you have some family/personal commitments you need to focus energy on…the cost is too high and you’re just not seeing a return on investment and you can’t afford to keep it up. She’ll push you on this stuff because it’s how she makes money – keep that in mind. You should really back out before getting more entrenched in the MLM.

    9. valentine

      Get a new job and, before you give notice, do whatever you can to close the account, even going around her in the MLM. You want to limit their use of your name, especially if the scheme results in lawsuits. I’m assuming you’ve done zero snake-oil selling and the products are a reward for your actual job, in which case, look into whether their value is subject to income tax. She’s going to argue against any reason you give her, but, especially with saying you can’t afford it, I’d be worried she’ll solve that by embroiling you in further fraud, only via the nonprofit. The child stuff is gross. I hope ED doesn’t cosign.

      1. Bunny Girl

        The usual! People keep taking things that don’t belong to them (like drinks for a lunch with an external client) even though they are labeled, and being gross and not cleaning up after themselves. The grad students and faculty seem to expect the staff to clean up after them, even though it’s been made clear that it’s a) not our jobs and b) that none of the staff ever really use the break room.

        So after an especially bad week, we talked to the department head and they said we could limit the hours that people were allowed in the break room to see if that improved anything. So we unlocked it from 11am-1pm. Oh my god, you would have thought we committed a war crime. I had someone get up in my face about it. (Btw, our faculty and over half of our students have keys to that room so it wasn’t a huge deal). So at the end of the day, our department head said maybe that wasn’t a good idea and asked us to put up signs telling people that they were adults and to stop stealing things and clean up after themselves. The staff have totally washed their hands of it. We’ve all agreed to stop even our occasional use of the break room and we’re just never going in there. Our goal is to get it condemned.

        1. Tara S.

          There was a to-do when we switched over to having the office kitchen always locked (anyone who works here can key-card in), but it’s been SO much better as far as cutting down on theft and decreasing (though not eliminating) the needed cleanup. I’m sorry your boss is back-peddling, if they can weather the storm these things usually blow over eventually.

          1. Bunny Girl

            We briefly talked about doing a key card thing. The biggest issue actually isn’t our department. It’s supposed to be our room and other departments use it and we’ve honestly found them to be the biggest culprits. But yes I’ve developed a “not my circus” approach to it. Someone approached me the other day and said that the break room was really dirty and I replied “yes it is! I wish people would pay more attention and be more respectful of a shared space” and just walked off.

        2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

          Oh yeah, that solution (locking it) wasn’t going to end well. And for reference the notes are just going to be mocked and ignored.

          About the only thing you can all do is learn to live with it or as you have wash your hands of the whole thing.

          Learn to love this phrase “Oh, there’s a problem with the break room? Hmm, that’s why we (the staff) all stopped using it and don’t have any responsibility for maintaining it”

          1. Bunny Girl

            Yup! We totally washed our hands of it. I bought a little itty bitty food warmer for my desk, and our pod has a mini fridge that I use so I never step foot in there. I’m hoping it gets to the point that it’s so nasty that they shut it down and turn it into offices. They talked about that a while ago.

            1. Anono-me

              Please tell me more about your itty bitty food warmer? It sounds useful.

              Also, please update us in a few weeks?

        3. nonymous

          At my grad school, the grad student social group was in charge of maintaining the department break area. Since they needed to stay in good graces of the department head for signatures and stuff, they were motivated to prevent it from getting too bad. iirc, there were pizza sales a few times per year ($2 for slice and pop, stuff like that) to raise money for cleaning and other general use supplies. And the grad students were not shy about policing themselves – much more direct and vehement than corporate professional norms. However, we also had separate areas for faculty vs staff vs grad students, and I think that helped with the ownership component.

          The key with a shared fridge, imo, is being ruthless about throwing things out. Best setup is having 2 fridges and throwing contents of one out each week. Even if some people are just moving things back and forth, it prevents forgotten items from molding.

        4. Ali G

          OMG how are people so rude?? I can’t imagine. I hope you will update us! I can envision this devolving into a dirty mess where everyone has to stop using it because no one cleans and it’s too disgusting. And of course everyone blames everyone else for the mess.

          1. Bunny Girl

            That actually is our plan! If it was little stuff I wouldn’t really be too worked up but people are legit just leaving food on the tables. Our department leader did tell us they would take more action if things don’t improve after the signs but the staff has refused to clean up for other people.

        5. darlingpants

          I know that you’re having issues with proper use of the room and my building is not, but as a grad student if they tried to lock the kitchens in my building every time but 11-1 I would be livid! Someone is there literally any and every hour of the day and night, for breakfast, lunch, dinner and 2 am snacks and pretending that we only need access to a sink and microwave for 2 hours a day is totally wrong and IMO kind of insulting about the hours we work. I’m already a little peeved that they switched out the coffee machine for one that runs on those 5 gallon water bottles instead of sink water and the company acts really surprised and like we’re being unreasonable when we run out of water every 5 days instead of every 2-3 weeks like they planned for. We’re researchers! We’re there all the time and we drink a ton of coffee! Plan better!
          -this rant directed at the universe in general and not Bunny Girl in particular

          1. Bunny Girl

            I can see the anger but our grad students do have access to the break room whether we lock it or not. Most, if not all have keys and we’ve made it clear that if their key isn’t working, they can come talk to us.

  12. Cat

    I’m a sort-of new manager. I’ve managed a receptionist about 4 years ago, but I had zero experience before that. I am also taking on a few extra responsibilities. We haven’t negotiated salary yet, though it was something I brought up. I already feel like I’m underpaid, so I’m afraid that the number I have in mind is too big of a jump, but I think it’d be more than fair when factoring in bringing me up to market rate. Any advice?

    1. Tara S.

      That “market-rate” piece will be helpful, hopefully they understand that under-paying you compared to other orgs in the industry doesn’t bode well for them long-term.

    2. Bea

      You want to prove you’re underpaid. Find out what the salaries for your job scope are in your area first.

      Otherwise you’re throwing out a number that’s unjustified. Most businesses need to know the market rates. They are often going off old numbers because they’re not invested in the retention quality assurance of being in the correct pay scales.

  13. Nacho

    Definitely double check. If I found out my co-worker was getting a significant number of free rewards that I didn’t get as a result of doing their job, I would definitely make waves about it.

    It’s possible they’ll tell you they don’t care, but you really don’t want to look like you’re hiding it from them/getting away with something sneaky.

  14. Anonymous Educator

    I don’t know if this is a real problem or not, but has anyone else felt it’s kind of weird when you hear something bad about a co-worker from another co-worker, and that colors the way you see the talked about co-worker, but you can’t really do anything about it, because you haven’t witnessed anything yourself, and it’s just hearsay?

    I don’t mean anything illegal or necessarily immediately fire-able. And it’s not gossip in the sense of “Oh, my God. Did you hear about…?” Just chatting with co-workers, and sometimes things come up about other co-workers.

    1. Eeyore

      All the time. But you have to take into account who is doing the gossiping, and how that reflects on them as well. If you hear something from a constant gossip, you might want to take it with a grain of salt. And even if it does color how you feel about a person, as long as you keep your work relationships warm and pleasant, it won’t really matter. Always put your own experiences with a person ahead of gossip that you hear, because you never know the reason behind the gossip.

    2. Mimmy

      Happens at my job fairly often. I have a good relationship with the management staff, especially my direct supervisor. However, when I hear how they are handling certain issues, it makes me wary. Most of the comments come from one particular co-worker so I do take it all with a grain of salt, but they stay in the back of my mind as possibly legit.

    3. Evil HR Person

      Funnily enough, I’m the opposite. Your view of someone else doesn’t color my view of that person. How that person interacts with me colors my view of that person, and I always start by giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. Since I’m HR, I always have people who get too familiar, or get too needy, and so forth. But, maybe because of the nature of my job, the way I am is actually a plus for me.

      To give you a for instance: one of the managers is having trouble with this one report. I understand the work ramifications of what that report is doing/not doing, and how it’s affecting the manager’s perspective. But it’s not affecting me in any way, so I’ll continue being my sunny self to everyone involved, even though the manager has a historically short fuse and the report really is messing up. I’m over here like, “meh.” I’ve been this way for a while.

      Interestingly, I used to tell my mentor (also HR) that I LOVE doing what I do because I get to hear all the gossip. I’m curious by nature… LOL!

      1. Tara S.

        I need the gossip because I am not always great at reading people. Had a new boss once try to helpfully give me the lay of office politics, learned over the next few months that almost everyone else had very different opinions about the source of that drama. I don’t really treat anyone differently, but the context is still helpful in avoiding stepping on landmines!

        1. Evil HR Person

          Very true! In my role, I really do need to hear all the gossip. I used to go out with the smokers (I don’t smoke) just for this purpose. But, in the end, I treat everyone with respect – even the ones that I don’t like because of how they’ve treated ME. I’m even friendly! I won’t go out of my way, or the extra mile – as it were – to help them, though.

          1. Anonymous Educator

            Yes, I try to remain professional and not treat anyone differently based on what I’ve heard, but it can be awkward.

      2. Bea

        It’s not gossip I love hearing, it’s being knowledgeable of all that’s going around. I’m profoundly interested in human psychology and behavior.

        So HR and being tied into the executive level has given me all the points of views.

        I’m the same way with not having your perception skewed due to hearing things. I hear “Dude A is doing blah blah blah. He’s the worst.” and I’m like “Yep. He’s still lovely to me but yeah if he’s not following protocol, I’ll work on that write up.” or whatever. I’ve bawled privately because of layoffs and firing that was necessary but I was fond of the person leaving.

    4. Anonymous Educator

      Yeah, I guess I wasn’t clear on the fact that it isn’t always one person talking about other people or even only one person corroborating. I’m pretty sure these people are telling the truth, but I’m not anyone’s manager, and I’m not in any position to chastise people in other departments. They are not the office gossips. They’re just anybody and happen to be telling me about situations that have frustrated them.

    5. Squeeble

      Yep, I’m with you. I have a coworker who I previously didn’t really have an issue with. Several months ago, a few other colleagues were complaining to me about this person and now it’s like I can’t unsee the things they took issue with. Nothing fireable, more like personality flaws, but it’s annoying because I didn’t really notice these things before and now they’re kind of top of mind when I see that person.

    6. gecko

      No, that’s what I like about having a social network :) I love hearing about people, and anything I hear usually just helps me interact with that person better.

      If I hear that some coworker is pretty conservative in ways I don’t agree with, I’m going to know that I have to steer the conversation away away away from politics. If I hear that some boss is passive aggressive, I’ll be on the lookout for it and put more energy into reading their social cues than I would if I trusted someone to be direct. If I hear someone usually does their work in a slapdash “just make it work” kind of way, I’ll test their work more thoroughly.

      Plus I just love to hear about people and put effort into maintaining my reputation so I’m not bothered when people talk about me :)

      1. gecko

        Well that last bit sounds really smug. What I mean is, I don’t really mind when people talk about me–though of course if it’s about a flaw or something I’m like oooo I need to fix that–and if it’s something like “she’s too bossy” I’ll be bummed but not care–AND I try to build a good reputation.

    7. Not So NewReader

      This is one of the major problems with gossip that it colors our view and in turn perhaps our interactions with the person.

      One of the best questions I learned for handling gossip is, “What possible motivation does this person have for telling me this?”

      It’s a great tool for balancing these things out. So Sue tells me our coworker, Bob, is a jerk. Now why would Sue say that? Probably because Bob complained she did not get her work to him and he missed his deadline.

      OR Maybe it is because a person has to work with Bob for about two years to finally see and understand his MO that is similar to a baseball bat to the knees.

      OR Maybe Sue and Bob are both whiners having a whining contest.

      It’s helpful to keep saying, “There is more than one side to every story.” And it’s also helpful to think, “I would not want Bob thinking I am a jerk just because Sue said so.”

  15. The Other Dawn

    Does anyone here have a Security+ or CISSP certification? I know I can Google the information, but I’m hoping to hear from someone who has one or both of these certifications. Are they worth it? Did you find that they helped you in your current job, or helped you get a better job?

    I’ll be looking for a job within the next few months and I’m thinking I may want to go into information security. I did some of that at a previous company (a bank); however, it was a very tiny company and I was basically the available body that could handle it, so I did it. It was a “figure it out as I go” thing with no one to train me, and it was one of many things I did there, so I know information security at a basic level. My background is in banking: compliance, info security, BSA, deposit and loan ops, and network admin (yes, all at one bank!).

    I’ve seen a couple job postings that look interesting, but they’re looking for Security+ at a minimum, with CISSP preferred. I know my background will help me in the job, as I would have to deal with audit prep, going through the NIST publications and things like that, which is all stuff I’ve done before, but I’m also feeling like my varied background could hurt me—I was “Jill of all Trades and Master of None” since my focus was always split between a lot of different things and I have no certifications for anything I do. Although the lack of certifications hasn’t hindered me at all until now.

    1. Pop!

      Both are legit and helpful for being hired into security positions. CISSP is more seriously-regarded because it requires years of experience in the field (you can take the test and be an associate, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen that?) that you may or may not meet, depending on how they count your experience. You can def. be hired without them, but at my org. we require people who don’t have any certs to be eligible/willing to obtain within 1 year of hire.

      1. The Other Dawn

        Thanks! I’m at a point where I think it will help me to get a certification, maybe for IS or BSA. I’ve been lucky to get into banks where certifications don’t matter and I could work my way up, but if I want to maintain my current salary and get into more interesting things, I think a certification could help me. Plus, the number of small banks that pay a good salary AND would allow me to be a Jill of all Trades is dwindling. Perhaps it’s time I pick a direction and run with it.

        1. Solo

          CISSP is a handy certification for a Jack/Jill of All Trades type because it can range from individual contributor-level software developers, to managers of secure facilities (data centers, etc), to CIO/CISO level careers. Sounds like it could be a good fit for giving you a direction (or rather, a cohesive story to tell about your resume/work history) while leaving lots of options open.

      2. Solo

        I took the exam and am currently an Associate because even with the education waiver (max 1 year) I don’t quite have the required years of experience yet. I took it because I’ve been given some responsibilities related to cybersecurity and wanted to ensure I wasn’t missing major areas due to lack of industry experience.

        The course I took was useful but if I had it to do over I would probably skip taking a dedicated course and just follow the learning path on SafariBooksOnline.com. The credential hasn’t really made a difference to my day-to-day yet, but access to the continuing professional education materials and conference discounts is handy.

    2. KAG

      The problem with the most respected of these certs (and I’m fairly sure the CISSP falls into this category) is that you have to have at minimum several years of documented work experience in the field, and in many cases, actual recommendations from former / current managers in that field (the worst IMHO being the CFA, where the recs all have to be from a CFA).

      Still, if you put on your resume that you’ve passed all the exams needed for the cert, that will surely provide you with a lot.of.credibility.

      Good luck!

    3. Thegs

      I have Security+ because it is required (or a similar cert, but Sec+ is easy) by DoD 8570 for entry level technicians, but aside from checking that box, it really doesn’t mean much (e.g. my current place is exempt from 8570 requirements, and I’m the only one with Sec+). CompTIA’s certs are notoriously easy to get because the test answers are plastered across the internet. Additionally, a lot of the questions are inane and don’t really show knowledge of how to ensure your systems have a proper security posture. Asking port numbers is a good example here, I think I’ve only needed to know LDAPS is on port 636 once or twice in my entire (admittedly brief) career, but they’ll ask you that. I have almost the entirety of humanity’s knowledge at my fingertips, I don’t need to memorize port numbers.

      So this is probably the crummiest endorsement ever, but I would get Sec+ because it’s relatively easy, and it will check the box. If you are confident enough in your abilities, then definitely go for CISSP though. I don’t have it, but from my experience listening to the more senior technicians and systems engineers, it is held with much more regard than Sec+.

      I’m also a jaded sysadmin who doesn’t like CompTIA so please take what I say with a grain of salt.

    4. Nash

      Based on your background, you could probably review for a week and pass the Sec+. It isn’t hard and isn’t expensive, and it’s accepted as proof that you really are interested.

      With your years of experience, you very well may qualify to test for a CISSP now. Iirc it takes five years experience or four plus a bachelors. HR really likes the CISSP and it does sound fancy.

      Daniel Miessler has a rundown of info sec certifications, in an article on his blog. It might be worth checking those out to see which align with your interests.

      I’m going hard on Cisco ones right now, but I also work for a Cisco reseller and personally focus on network security so… yeah.

  16. sweet potatoes

    Goodness, I lost my temper at work yesterday. I have been hearing complaints from my vendors about the sales team trashing me to them and the sales team has been very rude and condescending to me for the last week or so and I finally snapped. I yelled at the sales guy to get out of my office and let me do my work in peace for five minutes. He went out and complained to my boss (who tried to fix the problem with the vendor the sales guy was complaining about… but only made it worse). I am so tired and stressed out, I like the job and the opportunities I get here I won’t get anywhere else but it’s so hard to make headway when I have so much to do I can only respond to the most urgent matters. I really don’t know if there’s a way forward other than leaving for a different company. We are restructuring my department and I will get additional assistance… at the beginning of next year. Right now I guess I will just stick to hiding out in one of the conference rooms and ducking the sale team’s calls.

    1. Product person

      Right now I guess I will just stick to hiding out in one of the conference rooms and ducking the sale team’s calls.

      Hmm… I was considered really good at my last job at building good relationship with the sales team when most my colleagues were treated badly by them. So I’m going to offer you a suggestion:

      Trying to hide from people because you’re too busy to handle their requests is typically a bad idea. In your place, I’d go ask each sales guy for quick (individual) chat. Tell them you see their side, and then explain how busy you currently are, and how you have to ruthlessly prioritize to stay above water and only respond to the most pressing matters, which means their requests may end up at the bottom of the pile. Explain that the department is being restructured and hopefully things will get better at the beginning of the year, but until then, you’d appreciate a bit of understanding on their side.

      The winning formula is “show you care + demonstrate you can see their side (even if they are being unrealistic / obnoxious, it pays to try to see things from their perspective and if necessary pretend they’re being reasonable with their demands) + be very specific as to why you can’t be as responsive as they’d like”.

      I once share this formula with the big data team when they were in trouble with the marketing team, unable to even get marketing people to pick up the phone to discuss the issues with a project. Overnight the situation changed completely. The big data guys didn’t believe that explaining to non-technical people why their project was delayed and would take much longer than expected to finish (all technical reasons) could make a difference, but went with the flow, and it completely changed the situation. What looks like resistance and aggressiveness is often lack of clarity. If you try hard to make the sales guys see what you’re seeing, it’s quite possible you’ll you entirely change the situation.

      1. sweet potatoes

        This is great advice and it’s something I’m trying to find time to implement, I’m just having a hard time scheduling meetings with all of them, I think I need to restrict them to ten minutes and ask them to come prepared with what they need to review with me. The problem is everyone wants everything to be in their schedule, and my schedule is packed with meetings and travel. Honestly, most of them spend their whole day watching Netflix at their houses, so I don’t know why ten freaking minutes is such a huge ask.
        I think being specific about why I can’t give them a reply is something I really need to work on. I usually just tell them: this request cannot be accommodated, just to get things out of the way without ever really going into depth about the why.

        1. Product person

          I think being specific about why I can’t give them a reply is something I really need to work on.

          Yes! There are tons of academic studies showing that this can make a HUGE difference. Try this, and come back to tell us how it went. I bet you’ll see a 180 degrees change in your interactions with this group :-).

          I think I need to restrict them to ten minutes and ask them to come prepared with what they need to review with me

          That sounds like a good plan. Just make sure you don’t spend the full 10 minutes discussing their request — save some time to address the larger issue. Practice an script where you explain “I feel your pain, but here’s what I can and cannot do”. Also, reset the expectations: “I know it may look like I’m not being reasonable when you only need X from me and can’t get time on my calendar– but remember, there are N number of people I’m trying to serve, which means even 5-minute tasks turn into full days of work for me when you multiply by the number of requests I get.”

          For some people this may sound too deferential, in particular when dealing with unreasonable stakeholders, but to me the results are what matter. I promise you that taking the time to explain *in detail* why you’re so busy — rather than just saying “I’m busy, go away” can attract many allies and reduce the number of complaints, your stress levels, etc.. It’s worth it!

          1. sweet potatoes

            I will definitely work on improving on the “why” rather than just telling them to go away, I think I have been feeling so attacked I’ve been unnecessarily adversarial with the team and have been cultivating a very unhealthy us vs them dynamic. I mean, I still need to cover my butt but there is no need to be so aggressive, even if they are. I just look as childish as them.

    2. Bea

      They’re behaving badly throwing you under the bus to vendors like that.

      However hiding out and boiling over to the point of yelling is a reaction you need to fight.

      Why are they mad? Is it because your overworked and can’t get to their issues or vendors requests in a timely manner?

      This needs to be worked out in house. They need a sit down with you to see how you can make this easier on all of you.

      It sounds like you’re drowning. It may only be solved with reassignment of tasks or another hand on deck. If you’re understaffed and they’re not sending in help soon, you need to abandon ship. That’s evacuation level toxicity and burnout.

      1. sweet potatoes

        I’m so annoyed at the throwing me under the bus with the vendors that I’m considering sending a memo restricting the vendors from giving them info. I, fortunately, have unilateral authority to manage our vendor relationships but it’s basically a nuclear option.
        At this point I have so much to do that if it isn’t for a key account, I won’t even look at it until the weekend which is when I reply to all the miscellaneous requests the sales team has. Right now I’m actually working from a café since I’m in such a nasty mood and I need to relax.
        There is so much work I need to do, I basically work 12 hour days plus weekends. I did notice I’m burning out, up to a couple of weeks ago I basically slept with my laptop because I was sending emails and dealing with stuff until the late hours of the evening. I have since stopped, but I still wake up in the middle of the night to check on stocking levels for some key items since they fill me with so much anxiety.

    3. nonymous

      I would add that if the role facing staff shortages can be explicit about what they need to reduce their workload, a lot of times people will happily meet you (more than) halfway. Maybe some of the process can be offloaded to them?

      For example, instead of each sales guy coming to sweet potatoes individually, could they present requests in a prioritized list or grouped by whatever makes sense to the org? Can the sales team send in requests by email and then sweet potatoes does an status/triage blast weekly/daily so she’s not being interrupted? If the sales guys are not giving complete info, can sweet potatoes set aside 15 minutes daily to identify these cases and notify them? How much of the documentation can the sales guys pre-fill out?

      In my workplace we assign submissions different functional categories which correlate to % of our workload. So anything new in the preceding week gets skimmed superficially for really glaring issues – e.g. no data included – and those get returned to sender. Then everything is tagged by functional category. The skimming and tagging is done once a week (but other workplaces might need this to happen daily or even twice a day) and is a very quick process – think 5-10 seconds per case. So the standard is that I will focus on Category A, but I will work on Category B at least X hours daily and Category C Y hours weekly. If the workload is such that the triage process would substantially interfere with time spent actively working on each case (say, this would eat up 2-3 hours daily), then requests need to come into the working group pre-categorized.

      1. sweet potatoes

        We actually had a meeting about this yesterday! While I freely admit that I did step over the line and should have controlled my temper better, that meeting actually pissed me off even more. The only thing the sales team agreed on is that it’s all in the sourcing department and they are throwing a tantrum because we don’t answer their every beck and call. The main issue is that they want to run very tight inventories (we don’t need to, but it makes their commission better if they do) so every time there is even a slight hiccup they have a client problem because there is no slack built into their planning (if it can be called that) so they need us to expedite, move stuff around and this takes up around 80% of my time. The sales team is supposed to create all documentation, they just refuse to do it and push everything on to me. I ignore them and let them fall on their swords, but when the customer comes I have to fix it ASAP anyway by skipping all processes.
        Right now I triage by customer, if the customer is a major account we have issues with I will devote all my attention to those issues, which is why they are pissed. Most of the sales team manages relatively small accounts and they get mad since I don’t even look at their problems until the weekend. This actually was the trigger for the guy storming into my office and me kicking him out, one of his customers who represents about 5K yearly sales had a massive emergency! But I was really busy with some vendor issues for a single item that represents around 600K in sales a year. I told him I would deal with his issue sometime next week (I did end up fixing it since my boss demanded it).
        I like the idea of assigning priorities to all tasks, the question is how do I keep the sales staff from just putting a 10 on everything? There is a guy who tags everything as urgent, even though sometimes he literally wants mops. I’d have to take time to assign priority to all tickets which would be a little hard for me. But I will definitely raise this with the process team in our next meeting so we can create a program to do this.

        1. nonymous

          > how do I keep the sales staff from just putting a 10 on everything?

          Sounds like you already have a good priority system – it’s by client account size, not urgency. Assign Clients to A/B/C based on size, and maybe sort by delivery date? The key is not to prioritize by individual feelings of urgency (which are subjective), but to use observed metrics (facts) to order the workload. And then make sure everyone knows what the system is. It als helps to have a running list that people can refer to so they can track their position in line, maybe an Excel spreadsheet that they only have read access to? I’m sure it’s obvious to everyone that the company needs to have greater capacity at this step of the process but until y’all do, what’s the plan?

          Although, what’s up with your boss? If you’re short staffed the other teams should absolutely be held accountable for completing the parts they are responsible for. What happens if you say to your boss: “I expedited PO 111 today. Because documentation for this PO was incomplete, I was not able to start PO 112. It took me X hours to create documentation that should come to us already complete.”

          With your expanded replies, I also wonder if part of this is deliberate on your company’s part? Like in order for the sales guys to make the salaries/quotas they are held to they have to be working at a volume that precludes time to fill out documentation. One company that I know of had quotas about the # of calls sales guys made using company-provided leads, but the leads were awful and it was a waste of time. People who followed the processes never made close to goal, but people who ignored the internal process and had their own lead-generation method could make a decent living. I can’t say how much of this is the sales team shirking (with your boss throwing you under the bus), and how much is because the whole system is completely unsustainable. But unless you are happily raking in OT for the 12hr days and weekends, you definitely need to cut back. If you are salaried exempt, I think it is still good practice to set “working hours”. For example you could say that you’ll be in the office from 8 – 6:30P (with an actual break for lunch) and then answer emails for another hour or so after dinner in the evening on weekdays and your weekend load is no more than 8hrs. This is a 63 hr workweek and my upper limit for an intense schedule that is sustainable long term. While it is definitely possible to work greater hours in a short term situation (e.g. the last two weeks of a sprint cycle), you need something that will get you through restructuring and any onboarding that happens, which is looking like a 3month horizon.

          1. sweet potatoes

            That’s a great idea, making the implicit explicit should help them figure out what I’m up to and at least have a rough idea when I will get to their emergency.
            My boss is… weird. He does throw me under the bus, I just don’t get into any trouble . Like last week, I made a decision that impacted a small customer (couple hundred bucks a year) in favor of a major customer, it was a no brainer! The sales guy was really mad and summoned me to a meeting in my boss’ office. I basically said I’d look into it (now that I think about it, I never actually looked into it) and left.
            The sales guys spend most of their time watching Netflix–I’m not even kidding–and they haven’t brought a new account in years. They don’t do the process they need to do because they don’t want to. It’s not even that hard!
            As for my schedule, as of this week I basically said screw it and cut back to normal business hours. 8 to 6, sharp. Thankfully my company doesn’t actually give us company phones, so I don’t really have to use my cell so I’m only available on my office phone. My boss gave the sales team my personal cell, but I have them on a “do not answer” list so I don’t even know when they call. As of right now I take my full lunch hour to the dot. I’m exhausted and need a mental health break, so I’m focusing on setting clear and strong boundaries between my job and my life.

  17. Bee's Knees

    This week in a Small Town Newsroom

    Fergus is going on about the singularity again. He doesn’t know that’s what it’s called, and I’m not going to encourage him and point it out, but that’s what it is. He starts with how he’ll never use one of those virtual assistants (He doesn’t even have a cell phone) and then it devolves into him showing someone a video of a robot talking about taking over the world. He has done the same thing three times in the last month. (I am uncertain how the robots are going to get along with the lizard people.) He talked to me for five minutes one day this week about it. He 100% believes that it’s going to happen. I have gray hair now.

    Wakeen (our new reporter) had a fight with his wife. We got to hear ALL about it. He also got a call from the Bahamas. He assuredly informed me that when you get a call from the Bahamas, it’s usually a scam. Usually? I and my friends are not the jet-setting types, so I can’t say I’ve ever gotten a non-scam call from there.

    I also found out he is in awe of the color printer. I was printing a proof of something, and it was taking FOREVER because the printer would print a page, then stop. He asked if it was two sided, and I said it was in color. He told me the last place he worked had a printer that could print in black and white AND in color. What a time to be alive.

    We got a very nasty email from a lady mad at Farquad. She wanted her church news in the paper, which we publish one day a week. He did not communicate this to her, and blew her off several times. Now she’s mad, and my problem. I sent her an email apologizing without taking blame (which I’m fairly good at) and we’ll see how she responds. (The answer – not well. Also, ad, like advertisement, only has one d.)

    1. Lissa

      Maybe Wakeen’s wife decided “screw it” after the fight and went to the Bahamas, and was calling him to let him know she’s left him for an attractive beach dude!

    2. Tara S.

      Now I’m thinking about the thing I read yesterday about how most of our stories about robots are really talking about class anxiety, and when we talk about “the robots overtaking their makers” we are also talking about “servants overtaking their masters.” I.e. “but what if I lose position of superiority?? How will I cope?”

    3. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins

      Sounds like we’re headed towards a “Robots vs. Lizard People” war… excuse me while I start prepping for that.

    4. fposte

      “What a time to be alive” made me snort out loud. I am mentally listing workplace situations to which I can similarly apply it.

    5. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      I have a “singularity” guy in my office too, but he seems to be rather looking forward to it rather than opposed.

  18. SouthernBelle

    I had a phone interview for a position with a company that I was really hoping to work for. I’ve been a contractor for a while, so this was an opportunity to get back into a “permanent” position. However, the entire experience left a nasty taste in my mouth. The three hiring managers on the line were (for the most part) cold, and at times, hostile, during the call. They cut it off after about 15 minutes and to me, it just seemed like a bad fit all around. But the part that bothered me was that when it was my turn to ask questions, I asked how a reported HQ move (it’s been in the news around here) would affect that position. Presumably, if I were to be selected, I would be concerned about my job moving away shortly after accepting it, right? Apparently that question set one of the interviewers off and her response was not only not helpful (“someone applying for this position shouldn’t concern themselves with that”) but also indicative, I think, of what working for her would be like. I withdrew my application this morning; but my question is, what’s your take on this? Would you have withdrawn? Waited to see what happened? What?

    1. ContentWrangler

      It sounds like you totally made the right decision in withdrawing. I probably would have been a little more passive and simply declined if I was offered a second interview, but maybe if enough people outright withdraw their applications, they’ll realize how terrible their phone interviews are.

      1. SouthernBelle

        Thank you! My husband said something very similar to you, but yes, I felt that this was an opportunity to demonstrate that just because we’re seeking a job, it doesn’t mean we’re not evaluating them just as much as they’re evaluating us.

    2. Corky's Wife Bonnie

      I would have withdrawn too, you did the right thing. Your question was totally appropriate, and their response is pretty rude.

    3. Holly

      That is….. really weird and I am glad you withdrew. Often it’s in the news that say, a prominent law firm is changing headquarters and I can’t imagine it being considered out of line for an associate to ask about the move during an interview.

    4. Trisha

      Who you work for can be just as impactful as what work you do. It is a valid question; she could have dodged it with a non-committal response if it was an internally hush-hush thing. To basically tell you to MYOB on an issue that could be a decision point for you sends up all kinds of red flags when you are considering working for that person. Too many hiring managers are only concerned about whether they want the job seeker; they fail to acknowledge that the job seeker has to want them too.

    5. JuniperGreen

      Sounds like a bullet dodged. Alas, still sad to have to back out of a candidacy you were excited about! Good luck with your search!

    6. The New Wanderer

      I would have withdrawn – I have a personal visceral reaction to hearing “that’s not relevant to you” in response to something I asked and I really wouldn’t want to work with someone who takes that attitude. Even if it’s not relevant, give me a polite reason, not a flat MYOB response. That, the overall impression you got, and the early cutoff just says Bad Fit all around. You made the right call.

    7. 653-CXK

      Nope, you did the right thing by withdrawing.

      Thankfully in my job search, I haven’t had any jerks on the other side of the phone interview. This was not merely a jerk move, it was a bad sign. I would have said, “Thank you, but I think in these circumstances I will withdraw my candidacy,” and then hung up.

    8. MissDisplaced

      Wow, not helping their recruiting efforts much are they?
      It’s horrible when you find out a company you’d admired and always wanted to work for is like the black stank of death on the inside. Bullet dodged.

    9. AshK413

      Yes, I totally would’ve withdrawn if only to not give them the satisfaction of rejecting me (yes, I’m petty).

  19. Emmie

    Do your companies allow you to dress up for Halloween? What kind of guidance do they give you about costumes?

    1. Never

      Yes. Nothing sexual, political, or religious. If you’re meeting with external clients, please keep that in mind when planning your costume.

    2. Bunny Girl

      Some of our departments do and some don’t. My old department let you unless you were dealing with customers that day. They only said “please be in good taste.” They didn’t have any problems as far as I know. I think I was the most extreme (I’m a special effects artist) and I went as a zombie, but I definitely didn’t do anything super gory.

    3. Alternative Person

      We have a party for the younger kids at work.

      Basically, no masks, no gore, nothing fetishy, must be able to work comfortably, keep it light-hearted and kid-friendly.

    4. Deryn

      I work in a children’s hospital, so this is a bit different environment, but we are encouraged to dress up for the kiddos! I’ve never seen or heard any official guidelines for us, other than my own common sense. In our clinic, at least, we haven’t run into any issues since we dress up almost exclusively as things children would enjoy (e.g., characters from children’s movies and TV shows) and to my knowledge no one has pulled anything controversial (yet, knock on wood).

      1. KarenT

        Ha! Ours do too. An email goes out about a week before Halloween telling people they can dress up as long as it’s work appropriate. Somehow, this has magically worked.

    5. De Minimis

      They have a costume contest here, and the rules are a little stricter than usual. We’re a federal facility that has fairly tight security, so nothing that obscures the face [so no masks] and no props that look like weapons. And we also have the vague instruction that costumes must be work appropriate. This will be my first Halloween here, but I hear that not a lot of people participate and it’s not something where supervisors pressure people to dress up [spouse’s former workplace had a supervisor who insisted everyone participate in a departmental contest.]

    6. Mimmy

      Not my current job, but a job I had years ago used to go all out for Halloween. They always held a contest with different categories, including for individuals and groups (departments). I don’t recall any specific rules or guidelines, but I’m sure it was all common sense, e.g. no profanity or anything of a sexual nature. I really miss it (and all of the activities they held).

    7. KMB213

      No one at my current office dresses up.

      In my most recent past job, we were allowed to dress up. There really weren’t any rules – they trusted us to determine what was appropriate and, as of when I left, everything dressed appropriately. People didn’t really do full costumes, though – it was usually something like fairy wings or cat ears added to a typical outfit.

    8. CheeryO

      Nope, not at my state government agency. I wore a sweater with a skeleton ribcage on it one year and got so many weird comments. We do a chili cook-off, though, which is fun.

      1. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins

        I work for the federal government and we also have a chili cookoff. Is chili the spookiest food?

    9. curly sue

      Allowed, but it’s not super-common among faculty. The students often go all-out — last year I lectured to a group that included a glow in the dark skeleton, a vampire, a couple of classic witches, at least one hippie, and about half the cast of the Harry Potter franchise.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot

      No clue. New here. In general, keep it G rated, in good taste, and assume that your grandmother AND your 5 year old will see it.

    11. Grits McGee

      We aren’t supposed to, but people do. It’s become a Halloween-and-Christmas tradition to get an all-staff email about how animal onesies aren’t appropriate attire for a public-facing federal agency.

    12. Holly

      There’s no rule against it, just not in my office culture to do so. People might bring in halloween candy to share, but not one person dresses up in my extremely large office.

    13. Trisha

      Yes – government office and the non-public facing portions are allowed to dress up. Our charitable campaign usually uses Halloween as a fund raiser and has a costume content.

    14. Yet another Kat

      Fun story from a job from 10 years ago:
      My boss/department head dressed up as a flasher, and had the then-intern help her fashion and attach a fake male sexual organ out of nude pantyhose and stuffing, to protrude from her pants fly.

      At my current job people dress up a little, but mainly with a prop of some sort that can be easily removed.

      1. ACDC

        Last year at my old job, which was a very casual environment, everyone was getting very hyped about dressing up for Halloween. I loved Halloween, so I was excited to dress up as well. Well Oct. 31 roles around and I’m the only person in the whole stinking office who dressed up. Everyone’s excuse? “Oh, I didn’t think anyone was actually going to do it…” I spent the whole day talking to customers dressed as a half mermaid/half unicorn creature while everyone else was dressed normally…

    15. Lily Rowan

      My office goes all out, and not even on Halloween — this year it’s the Friday before. The different areas of the office each pick a theme and decorate and dress up. Basically no one does more than a couple of hours of work that day, between touring the different areas in the morning and a party in the afternoon. (This is why it’s a Friday…)

    16. Garland not Andrews

      I work for the US government in a non-customer facing office. Last year the guidelines were:
      1) It must be ok with your branch chief.
      2) Little to nothing on the face as you must be recognizable to match your badge. (Building with guards and limited access.)

    17. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

      Some of our offices do. I’ve never heard of a problem. My company generally defaults to assuming we are all adults and we are, hence the no problems.

      One of the offices goes all out and each dept. does a group theme. Everyone participates from the cheerleader types to the office curmudgeons. I’ve seen everything from M&Ms to the Peanuts gang. There is also a standing rule against visitors on this particular day, so no issues there.

      Some offices only have one or two people who do, but it’s more low key.

    18. Bea

      We threw away out dress code and it just can’t be inappropriate for their jobs. So if it’s not a hazard or offensive, it doesn’t matter.

      I’ll wear my unicorn headband and tail. Low-key fun is my goal.

      “I’m a mouse. Duh.” ;)

    19. voluptuousfire

      Yep! I don’t but I have colleagues that do. We have a Halloween costume contest and it’s fun and we vote on the winner.

    20. Dragoning

      We can. Our only guidance is basically to use our common sense, really. No formal guidelines are given for it.

    21. acmx

      Our CEO and C-suite dress up, we have contests – company recognition for those that interact with our customers and within departments.

    22. sparty07

      We have a contest with 3 prizes of $100, $50, $25. Last year our CEO dressed up like Snow White, his wig made the whole thing better as he’s normally bald

    23. Lavender Menace

      Mine does and there is no guidance. Thankfully, so far I haven’t seen anything really egregious.

    24. Hobbert

      We’re cops so it would be awkward if we dressed up. But! I do have a super funny Halloween story. I was on foot patrol during a trick or treat event and I complimented a little boy on his Batman costume. He looked me up and down and gravely said, “thank you. Yours is very good too.” Thanks, kid…

  20. yeine

    SCENE:
    ten days ago, my boss: hey, yeine, can you work on your performance review?
    me: sure!
    my boss: [goes to spain for two weeks]
    me: [pulls up performance review template from 2 years ago and starts studiously detailing everything i have done for the past two years]

    SCENE:
    me, yesterday, having put in hours to this thing almost every day for the past week: hey, HR friend, can you look over this draft?
    HR friend: sure, send it over.
    [on screen: HR friend is typing.. ]
    HR friend: …. where did you get this template?
    me: I used the one i used two years ago, why?
    HR friend: we’re using this completely different template now. did no one send it to you?
    me: [melting into an indistinguishable puddle of weepy rage goo] No, No One Sent It To Me.
    HR friend: oh….. i’ll let the other managers know to do that for their reports.

    1. RabbitRabbit

      Well, at least I feel better now about how we do it – ours is on computer and they change something about the process basically every year, so at least we can all log in and see the confusion right up front.

    2. Alianora

      Frustrating, but at least you have the content fresh in your mind. It’s not a total waste of time.

      1. zora

        It might be asking for different content. That’s what happened when ours changed last, they completely changed the framing. You couldn’t really cut and paste from the old one, you would have to rewrite everything.

  21. CrushedCow

    What are your opinions on individuals who stay at the same company for their entire careers? Assuming they enjoy their work and colleagues and have opportunities for growth–is there any major downside for staying put? When do you know it’s time to push yourself out of your comfortable box?

    1. Anon From Here

      Well, I wouldn’t beg the question that there’s always a need or desire to push oneself out of any comfortable box, for one. If somebody is at the same job for their entire career and enjoy their work and colleagues, then my inclination would be to start from the assumption that they’re pretty happy with their lot in life. And that they were pretty darn lucky to find the job they wanted relatively early on and were able to finance their lifestyle with it.

      Not everybody is ambitious or wants to be a billionaire, and that’s OK.

      1. CrushedCow

        @Anon From Here — I appreciate your last line. I need to remind myself of this when I question myself. Thank you!

        And I should have asked “What are your opinions on staying at the same company…” not “on individuals who…”.

        1. Anon From Here

          If the question is actually “What are your opinions on staying at the same company,” then I’d say it can be risky to put all your eggs into one basket. That is, if you have no contingency plans against a layoff or firing or other adverse employment action, then you could be in bad shape if you’ve been planning all along to stay with one company your entire career. Since the “work for IBM/GM/Sears/etc. from age 18 to 65” isn’t seriously an option for the vast majority of American workers any more, I think people need to keep their options open. That means doing continuing education, affirmatively applying for jobs at different companies, and building up a professional network, even if it just means joining Rotary.

          1. Tara S.

            ^ It’s fine in theory, even desirable for the company as you often will build up helpful institutional knowledge. But you can never assume it’s going to happen. I worked for a third-generation family owned, 75 year old business that seemed very healthy until it suddenly didn’t and went bankrupt. I had coworkers who had never had another job – got hired when they were 18 and never left, now in their 60’s. One guy from finance told me he’d never had to write a resume (I helped him out). I would second that as long as you are realistic about that possibility (not being able to stay forever) and keep up with certifications and networking, there’s nothing inherently wrong with staying in one place. But it’s never a sure bet.

            1. Anonymous Educator

              Built-up institutional knowledge can be a double-edged sword, though, especially if it’s not well-documented. Sometimes people hoard knowledge, so others will depend on them. It can be a power thing. Or they don’t do it intentionally maliciously, but then they’re out for a long stretch sick or leave the company, and then others are stuck with “Oh, yeah. Nobody knows that except so-and-so…”

        2. Elaine

          I didn’t see anyone else mention one possible downside. A friend has been in the same job since she was 17. She loved her job. Recently the division head retired and the job changed dramatically. At age 60, it is very difficult to find another job, especially when you’ve spent your entire career working for the same company.

          So I agree that there’s nothing wrong with working at the same place for many years, but you at least should be aware that everything might unexpectedly change and you might be stuck. Or it all might work out, of course!

        3. Bookwormish51

          It depends so much on the field, office culture, and the job itself. I’ve been at the same legal nonprofit for 25 years and will retire from there. Many of the lawyers have been there more than 10. But also much of the other staff. Many started as the receptionist out of college and moved into other roles after a year. The pay is good for a nonprofit; the people are nice; the work is interesting. If you find somewhere you are genuinely happy and can see yourself enjoying for your whole working life, there’s nothing wrong with doing that.

      2. Doug Judy

        THIS. Yesterday we had a speaker at work. He has a client that worked for over 30 years at local grocery chain. That chain is 100% employee owned. This man never made more than $50k a year, but because of their ESOP plan, this man has nearly $4million in retirement and is retiring at 60.

        If your happy, there is no reason to make a change just because. I had a job I was fairly content at 4 years ago. I wasn’t ever going to be high up and promotions just weren’t there. I left because I wanted to “grow” and the new job was a nightmare. 3 years later I am still trying to undo the damage from that decision and there are times I really wish I would have just stuck with my “average” job.

        1. laughingrachel

          Was that Midwest grocery chain by chance? If it’s the one I’m thinking of, I have a lot of friends that got jobs there when they were 14, worked there through college and are still working there because the benefits are so good.

      3. LilySparrow

        This.

        I would assume that career advancement is not their #1 goal in life, and they were lucky/happy to find a suitable job to support their life goals.

        There are a lot of people who are passionate about things you can’t monetize (or not without fundamentally changing the nature of the goal).

    2. Anonymous Educator

      I think a lot of it is generational. My parents and a lot of their friends would typically desire to stay with one company until they retire. But many times that’s not an option. I’ve known a few Gen-Xers and Millennials who’ve tried to stay in one place for a long time, and then they got laid off after 10 or 15 years.

      That said, I’ve generally found (and this is mainly working in schools, mind you) that people who’ve worked in only one place tend to (with some amazing exceptions, obviously) have a very limited perspective in terms of what’s possible, reasonable, or even desirable, especially if the place is toxic or semi-toxic.

      If you work in multiple places, you really get a good idea of the broad range of work cultures and of different ways to approach problems. And, no, what people present in conferences and videos about what their schools and companies are doing isn’t necessarily what they’re actually doing.

      1. CrushedCow

        Ah, perhaps this is a fear of mine. I worry that–if I do need to find a new job–an employer will look at a long history at a single company as a negative.

        1. Anon From Here

          1) You won’t be, because for better or for worse that’s not how the U.S. operates any more. Never say never, but effectively nobody gets an 18-65 job any more. (I realize I’m inviting a slew of commenters to follow up with exceptions.)

          2) Your answer to “wow, you were there forever” is: “I enjoyed my time there thoroughly. The work was fulfilling and it was a great collegial atmosphere. Now I’m exploring further opportunities and look forward to bringing my skills and experience to your firm.”

          1. Anonymous Educator

            2) Your answer to “wow, you were there forever” is: “I enjoyed my time there thoroughly. The work was fulfilling and it was a great collegial atmosphere. Now I’m exploring further opportunities and look forward to bringing my skills and experience to your firm.”

            I think a lot of this will depend on what field you’re in, what position(s) you held, and what kind of position you’re applying for.

      2. Alternative Person

        This lines up with my experience. Especially when a place doesn’t offer any continuing education opportunities. Less than healthy practices can get worse over time until they become the norm and can be very difficult to unpick, especially when senior staff is a unchanging, self-reinforcing circle, then these companies wonder why their bottom level of staff completely turns over every eighteen months or less.

        1. Anonymous Educator

          I worked in one of those places. I would say the senior staff (all straight, cis, white men—I’m sure that part’s just coincidence) were actually well-intentioned, but really had very limited perspectives, and they weren’t leaving, so we had a constant churn of younger/newer employees leaving.

    3. Enough

      I would have no opinion at all unless they are complaining all the time about work. I worked for awhile with a guy who kept saying he was going to get a new job. He was there when I left. He was still there when my husband left. He retired from that company.

    4. DaniCalifornia

      At my husbands company he says it used to be seen as loyal to stay there your entire career and be a “career man” Those people were rewarded and if they worked hard they move up. Now he and other coworkers are eyeing a move elsewhere after 7 years. Many of his coworkers have left and gone elsewhere for a couple of years and then come back because that’s the only way to get a promotion/bump in pay. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

      1. Wishing You Well

        This. At my company, the longer you stayed, the more below-market your salary became. People had to leave for another company and come back to get market-rate pay or a promotion. It seemed the back-again people were given more respect than those who stayed. (Oh, you’re hire-able elsewhere?! Wow!)
        There’s no shame in staying – it might meet your personal needs, but I recommend keeping your resume current and knowing what the industry average pay is for your job in case of layoffs, etc.

    5. JanetM

      I have heard that anyone who has been in the same job more than two years or the same company more than six is deadwood.

      I say horsepucky. If you’re good at what you do and happy where you are, more power to you!

      1. Anon From Here

        Well, I mean, that’s one way to handle a company’s institutional memory, sure. Gotta love management by self-help books.

        1. Anonymous Educator

          Yeah, I think that mentality is very industry dependent (and sometimes position-dependent).

          I can certainly tell you in schools, teachers aren’t changing titles every two years. And if they change schools every six years, that’s fine, but many schools take pride in their teachers staying there for decades.

        2. Anon for this

          Not even there. I work at a large software company and we have lots of people, including many senior leaders, who have been here 15+ years. The EVP of my division started working here as a college intern. Our CEO has been here over 25 years. And you see that across the industry – average stays of lower-level workers are shorter, but once you start getting into the mid-levels and senior management, people tend to stick around for longer periods of time.

    6. CheeryO

      Very common in state government. It’s tough to match the work/life balance, salary, and benefits in the private sector in our industry, so people tend to stay put. I think most people would benefit from moving around a little bit over their careers, either to another office or a different department, just because it’s human nature to get complacent over time. On the other hand, there are people who have been working here for 35+ years who still work their asses off. I think it’s mostly a personality thing – some people naturally want to learn and challenge themselves even when there’s no longer a defined trajectory for career growth, and those are the people who still seem to enjoy work (as much as you can enjoy work, at least) and excel at what we do.

    7. Shark Whisperer

      I think there are downsides to staying put, but I may be personally biased. I have worked at lots of different places (hellooooo graduating into the recession). I also have a coworker that has only ever worked at my current organization and I frequently butt heads with her because I feel like she’s overly invested in How We Do Things at Organization and doesn’t really going on in the rest of our industry. Even though having to frequently find new jobs at the beginning of my career was painful, I feel like it was incredibly valuable to see why different organizations made different decisions and to learn what worked and what didn’t first hand.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        I completely agree with this. I’m in a similar situation. I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to learn how other organizations do things and that I have the flexibility that comes with that. I’ve encountered some, “But this is the way it’s done and I will not listen to your suggestions” and it’s very frustrating.

    8. Evil HR Person

      I have two views of this that I cannot reconcile: at a former job, the level of toxicity was directly related to the amount of time a person had been in the company. The longer he/she had been there, the more toxic they were. At my current job, that doesn’t seem to be the rule at all. If anything, the longest tenured are the least toxic – for the most part, there is always the odd exception.

      To answer your question: it depends on the company. There are plenty of people who are very happy doing the same thing day-in-day-out forevermore until they retire, and that’s perfectly acceptable. There are others who like to challenge themselves and rise through the ranks, and there’s a company that allows them to do that for many years until they retire. There are others who chomp at the bit if they get bored or want something new, or cannot rise at their company, or they want the same job at a different company, or want to change careers, or…or…or… Personally, I don’t see a major downside with wanting to stay and be comfortable. It’s really a personal choice.

    9. Neosmom

      Downside: You should be wary that your salary does not get “compressed”. It is very easy for your pay to fall below market rates for the skill set you have developed if you are with an organization for a very long time.

    10. OperaArt

      I think it might differ if someone is working working for a small business vs. a large company or government (e.g. city, county, state, federal). You can have a highly varied resume even after decades at the same employer because more options are available.
      I work for a quasi-government entity where people routinely stay for decades. Occasionally, employees leave for new jobs or to start their own businesses.
      That said, age might be more of an issue than number of years at one company.

    11. Roza

      I’m generally inclined not to hold it against anyone if it seems as long as I get some sense that the person is reasonably open to change/different perspectives. A previous job had a bunch of “lifers” who had been at the company since finishing school and worked their way up. They created a toxic culture by belittling and mocking anyone who didn’ automatically want to do things the way they had been done for the past decades, or find (undocumented) processes “obvious”. The only people who stuck around were the ones who came in at entry level; more senior new hires were treated like they were entry level and tended to leave quickly.

      If one of these “lifers”, or someone who had a similar work history of being at the same company for most/all of their career applied to work with me, I wouldn’t reject them on those grounds, but I would be probing heavily to make sure they weren’t too rigid to adapt to new ways of doing things.

    12. The New Wanderer

      I think it’s pretty variable. I just spent almost 12 years at the same company, but every year or two I was working on a very different project from the previous projects, and switched groups three times during that period. If I had been working the same role, I probably wouldn’t have lasted more than a few years before seeking another job elsewhere. As it is, I never expected to be there so long, but with all the changes I didn’t feel stifled. The rest of my hiring cohort all said the same (put in a few years, move on) and maybe half are still there. Most of the people I worked with had/have been with the company for decades. There’s a clear progression path, salaries are definitely not stagnant at this company (golden handcuffs for sure), and there are occasional lateral opportunities if I want a change.

      Then I was laid off almost 18 months ago. In interviews, I was never asked directly about my long stay at the company, although I did have the sense more than a few times that my experience/skills were viewed as very specific and non-transferable despite my best efforts to explain how that wasn’t true. So you can definitely become typecast if you have a long history at one place, especially if you try to switch industries.

      The end result is, the company offered my job back last week and I took them up on it. And I could see being a lifer if I have the same opportunities for new and different projects every year or so, especially since I wasn’t getting those opportunities elsewhere.

    13. ThursdaysGeek

      I’m currently working at a utility, and have finally been here long enough to get 3 weeks of vacation. Most of my co-workers (if they are not young) have been here for 20-30+ years. A lot of co-workers have so much vacation they are always taking time off so they don’t lose it. I’m going to still only have 3 weeks of vacation when I retire, and for most of my career I’ve only had 2.

    14. Bea

      My dad worked for the same company for 30 years. He only had one other job prior to finding his spot. He was content and rarely had complaints until his forced retirement.

      I think it’s great. Why leave if you don’t have the desire?

      I always go in assuming I’ll retire somewhere but life has changed my route. I only leave if I’m moving, the company is dissolving or they’re doing bad things that I don’t tolerate or are utterly terrible to me etc.

      People who complain and never try to do anything about their misery are the ones I tend to avoid.

    15. cat socks

      I may be headed in that direction. I’ve been at my company for 17 years and it’s my first job out of college. The main reason I stay is because of the company culture. I have unlimited PTO and people are not dinged for taking time off. I can work from home as needed. It’s easy to leave early for appointments, etc.

      Just last week I had to take cat to the emergency vet. I emailed my manager and said I would be out of the office for a few hours. I took my laptop with me and was able to check in on work while I was waiting in the lobby. Also, my parents are getting older and need help getting around to doctor’s appointments.

      I struggle with depression and anxiety at times, so being able to work from home or needing to leave work early is really helpful.

      My last merit increase from a couple of years ago put me right at six figures, but I rarely work a full 40 hours a week or weekends. I’m sure I could look for a job elsewhere for more money, but I would lose out on all this flexibility.

      Also, my husband is in the process of looking for a new job so I don’t really want to look for something new while he is also job searching.

      When I have thought about job searching, I have wondered how my long tenure at one company would look on a resume. I guess I’ll cross that bridge if I need to, but for now I’m just comfortable where I am.

    16. LurkieLoo

      I’ve been working with the same business owners (entrepreneur siblings) for nearly 20 years through 2 different businesses. The more recent (and much smaller) for half of that time. The business is super small and I love juggling the hats. It keeps life interesting. I also have decent pay, fair vacation, generous sick time, and partial paid health insurance. If they had not sold the previous business, I likely would have moved on eventually because there was just no room to progress. Not that I have anywhere further to progress in my current position, but at least work is fun and it pays well enough for my area.

      I also have a very solid contingency plan.

    17. Lora

      In my field, for the most part:

      -The vast majority of employers give only cost of living raises. Some don’t even give that. In order to get a real raise, you must either get promoted or leave the company. Staying with a company a very long time means you will likely be paid substantially less than your peers: I make about 50-60% more than my peers who haven’t moved around much.
      -Re-orgs and layoffs are cyclical but eventually bite everyone. Usually due to takeovers, people do move jobs at least every 5-10 years if not more frequently. Startup type employees move more frequently, usually every 2-5 years as the companies are bought or go out of business.
      -My colleagues who haven’t moved around much tend to have a very narrow view of what is feasible or even possible. It’s just not possible to stay on top of everything that’s available and up and coming in the industry everywhere, but if you have been many places, you will see a much bigger slice of it, and you’ll get a better idea of what works and what doesn’t.
      -My colleagues who haven’t moved around much also have much narrower networks to draw on. For just about any given problem, I know at least three people who are SMEs with strong backgrounds and good problem solving skills. My colleagues have to Google and hope that they happen to pick a decent consultant.
      -Due to my network, on the occasions when I’ve been unemployed, it’s not been for long and usually just took a while to work through a given HR process or find a prospect I really liked; I have only rarely had to take a survival job or felt like I HAD to stay in a crummy job I hated. Mostly I have to send some emails, meet a few people for coffee/beer, and then just be patient with HR to process the paperwork. My colleagues who get laid off after decades at a single job are really lost and frustrated because they don’t know nearly as many people and have many fewer people familiar with them in a work context.
      -I know for an actual fact that some companies are great, many are just okay, some are dreadful. I never thought dreadful or even just okay was anything else, but I know people who have been at the same company for decades who think that below-average was the same as normal and “everywhere is like this”. It’s not.
      -I have a good idea of my skillset relative to my peers, and what it’s worth.
      -I have sort of moved from Position A to Tangentially Related Position B, and thus collected a fairly wide range of experience that I wouldn’t have been able to do in a single company of any size, thus get a really big picture view of how the industry overall operates; however this is fairly unique even in my field. A big company definitely wouldn’t have let me move to things so distantly related within itself, as they usually prefer you sort of percolate up through the ranks of an individual department, and a smaller company wouldn’t have been able to offer the really deep experience in each role using expensive software, lots of training and support etc.

    18. Anon4This

      I am very wary about working for or hiring anyone who does not have what I call “diverse” work experience (obviously outside of entry-level positions where candidates typically have less than 5 years experience). This is simply due to the fact that every time I have, without exception, I end up with people who think the ONE way things were done at that company is the ONLY way to do things. People with a diverse background with experience at different companies know that there’s more than one way to skin a cat and have had to adapt to various company cultures, environments, processes, etc.
      Long story short, its something that has the potential to hurt your job search later down the road if you end up wanting to work for a manager who values that type of diversity.

    19. Urdnot Bakara

      I don’t think there’s any problem with staying for one company for your whole career (or at the very least, a long time) so long as there *is* opportunity for growth, and I’ve seen some research that suggests this was actually much more commonplace for older generations of the workforce and that frequently moving is a more recent thing, and that it’s partially due to a differing sense of loyalty to the employer but also due to to just… jobs not being the same as they used to be. The argument was basically that younger members of the workforce have seen a lot less opportunity for upward mobility than older members, so they’ve learned to artificially create that mobility for themselves by finding a new job every couple of years. The labor market has just changed so much that it has necessitated more fluidity.

    20. Smarty Boots

      Sometimes we stay at the same place even though we could earn more money or have a more interesting job somewhere else, this job allows us the flexibility we need to take care of a sick family member for many years, and doesn’t fire us when our work is shitty for awhile because we’re distracted because the sick family member gets sicker for awhile.

      Or other similar reasons.

      My general life advice: this may happen to you, and know that it is ok to let go of every bit of ambition and just be comfortable.

    21. Escapee from Corporate Management

      It’s good for some people and not for others. If the person is rising to a high level, or rises to a level that they want, great! If the culture stays the same for their entire tenure, great! If they’re happy, great!

      The problem is that it’s hard to have all of these things occur. I was with one company for 11 years. Got promotions and interesting work. And then the layoffs came… I was at another company for a long time and very happy. I could have stayed there the rest of my career. Then new leadership changed the culture and I was gone.

      So if someone can find a company that is stable and where they remain satisfied with the job? Nothing wrong with that.

    22. Anon for this topic

      This is actually very much the norm in my country, to the point where people who change jobs too much (maybe 3+ times?) can be penalized depending on the field. IT/tech and sales/retail/other fast-moving fields are more flexible, but most white-collar office jobs categorize employees into “temporary” and “permanent.” It affects everything from hiring practices (we categorize whether someone came in “since graduation” or “mid-career”), to firing/layoff, to HR practices. Because there isn’t a pool of mid-career external talent to pull from, companies have to grow their own and many companies move workers around to different areas of the company (or even different locations) to develop their careers and offer change. So you could start in sales, move to a different location as a sales director, become the director of accounting back at HQ, and then oversee all of HR as you move up and around the company. This creates a workforce that has a lot of well-rounded institutional knowledge and employees can try different things and develop their skills easily; also there are usually good retirement plans in place. The downside is employees have less agency in choosing their career path and there isn’t as much specialized knowledge.

      Because this is normal where I work, it’s created a big cultural divide with our US overlords who are used to people changing jobs many times over their career. It’s interesting to read how people perceive this, so thanks for sharing!

  22. Nervous Accountant

    Kind of related to my post above–

    I talked about a situation I had last week where a manager (not my direct one) had yelled at me and the other issues I had with the other managers.

    One of the comments by GeniusCandyBar really resonated with me–instead of being broken up about why someone doesn’t respect me, remind myself that I too am allowed to lose respect for someone. my default is to respect others first rather than follow the “respect is earned, not given”

    One of the things I started wondering about was how *good* managers express issues/frustration with reports (either directly on their team or another team)? Am I asking the wrong question, in that they’re never supposed to get frustrated or upset? Like, can you be frustrated but professional?

    A few examples from my past:

    At a college job, the supervisor on duty yelled at me about something. I can’t remember what it was and I’m inclined to believe she was justified in yelling, but I was going to go to my boss about it, until she apologized.

    At a seasonal temp job, the program manager stopped communicating with me in the last 6 weeks or so. (I mean, I clearly wasn’t very good at that job but I also didn’t have any training or feedback so).

    At my current job, I first started as a temp seasonal position. My direct mgr yelled at me…I felt it was justified b/c of many other factors surrounding it. I still felt really embarrassed though but I learned never to make those mistakes again, so it worked?

    At another job, I had the psychotic boss who would yell and scream, refused to run payroll, smashed pens, belittled, was generally a delightful human. Obvs htat’s a hard NO to my question lol. In fact, that was when I created my current username lol. But he’s the one I think about when I think of bad bosses.

    My current boss, she doesn’t yell and is very soft spoken and “nice” in person. But she sends really really nasty emails and has a tendency to dump on some people and let others go scot free.

    I think so far the only one who’s done it right (IMO) is my current manager–he’s not a yeller, and has never yelled even when I made a mistake. Whenever there is an issue, he’s never been like the others.

    1. Nita

      Yes, you can be frustrated but professional. I’ve been on the receiving end of that. I guess the idea is that you talk to the person calmly, but don’t mince your words about how much they messed up and what the mess-up has caused. And ask them why they did it. And tell them how you’d like them to proceed in the future (that’s a big one, makes it clear you’re not giving up on them or planning to fire them, but you do expect a better performance).

      It’s a fine line though, I kind of struggle with telling someone they messed up something major. On one hand, people make mistakes and I don’t want it to come across as a really big deal, but on the other hand I want to be clear that was a big problem and really shouldn’t happen again.

    2. Tara S.

      I’m going to throw out there that you seem to have had a string of not great bosses. Most of that is not normal! Or acceptable! Most bosses do not and should not yell at you! And I know that you’re not alone in having bad bosses like this, but I just wanted to say that there are more bosses out there like your current one! May you never have a yeller boss again.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        Yeah, I tend to go over my past history and seeing so many bad bosses, makes me wonder why am I so bad at everything that I keep getting these bosses??? Like, at some point, you have to realize you’re hte common denominator?

        The one I have now is good (the one who doesn’t yell) but I was working under him for about 2 years before we got to that point (it’s been 3.5 now). and tbh he’s a huge part of why I’m staying.

    3. OH GOD BEES

      I think yelling in most workplaces is only acceptable when something urgent & important needs to be communicated over a distance – especially to convey an immediate safety risk. I think there’s a general exception for workplaces with a lot of extra, external noise (where yelling might be a necessary part of communication, even for less-urgent matters). Otherwise, I don’t find yelling to be appropriate or professional.

      While I think it’s okay to show some frustration, part of good management is being generally in control of your emotions and keeping perspective of the issue. This might mean being stern, critical, and clear about unacceptable outcomes or behaviours, but I think yelling usually impedes effective communication, rather than helps it – and effective communication is even more important when there’s been an unacceptable risk or mistake.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        You’re right. For the yellers, I’d say…one was also a college student like me, so we’re all on the same learning curve, the psycho boss was a psycho so I don’t question how wrong he was for being that way. The last one? It was tax season and he’d *just* walked in to the door, had other stuff going on, and I myslef realized how much I hate it when I don’t get a chance to sit down and settle in before someone comes to me w questions. So I never made that mistake again.

    4. Trisha

      I don’t yell at my direct reports. I have a Director who yells and I’ve worked with him for years. I decided long ago, that’s not how I wanted to be viewed. There are times where I’m at the end of my rope and want to yell or show my frustration but I try very hard not to. I have said to employees, “I think we’re both a little to close to this situation right now. Let’s put this aside and meet tomorrow morning.” I also try to frame things from a Will OR Skill? perspective. If someone does something because they made a mistake and need coaching, I start with “so, what happened?” and then move on to “Moving forward, how do we ensure it doesn’t happen again?” If someone does something inappropriate because they are being a butthead, my response is more, “Do you understand why that behaviour is unacceptable? And how are you going to make certain it does not happen again?”

      1. Nervous Accountant

        I like that! That really helps esp since I’m in the lower-middle of the spectrum where I can give feedback but take it as well. I want to learn from my mgr on waht to do but my boss has taught me what NOT to be like. She is very osft spoken in person but gets super nasty in emails. While I can write a stern email, I definitely DONT want to be nasty like that. I feel bad, but I admit that I did get very nasty with my coworker. She was emailing me when I was out of the country for a funeral and I told her off. Neither of us apologized, nor got in trouble for it, but things are much better now between us. I don’t want to ever pull this thing that my boss does.

    5. Hillary

      Yelling is never acceptable unless it’s in response to an immediate threat to safety.

      I manage vendors (not direct reports), but I have two approaches. 99% of the time it’s about a mistake that was probably introduced by honest error or systematic problems. It’s not personal. 1) This thing happened and we need to work together to address the immediate problem and then prevent it from recurring, or 2) I’m very disappointed that this bad thing happened, and you need to tell me how you’re going to make it right.

      When I’ve had direct reports, 1 is the response almost all the time. The times I’ve needed something else it’s been a straight up this is not acceptable, you need to understand that, and you need to make sure it doesn’t happen again. This isn’t for a human mistake, this is for an inappropriate interpersonal interaction. Tears may result on their part, and that’s ok.

    6. Overeducated

      I’ve never been yelled at by a manager. I’ve received only negative feedback (thanks grad advisor), I’ve been told that I needed to improve on something if I wanted to keep my job (said SO kindly at my first summer job that I actually remember it with gratitude), I’ve had the “how are we going to prevent this from happening again” conversation, I’ve had a supervisor look and sound frustrated when staff weren’t understanding something obvious to them…but I’ve NEVER been yelled at, ignored, dumped on, or not paid.

      I think part of being a good manager is separating your emotions from your work enough that you can have those conversations calmly and focus on what needs to happen; that isn’t always possible to do in the moment, and if that’s the case, there needs to be a break first. My managers have definitely communicated about work issues, but expressing frustration was just not a necessary or effective part of those conversations. I think this is also an important skill to develop as an employee, and I think about how I’m doing on that front a lot since my job is pretty stressful right now.

    7. MissDisplaced

      I’ve worked with some yellers and I can also be a yeller… but it depends on what type of yelling. I always ask myself the following:
      1. Is the yelling directed AT you? Meaning to belittle or shame you or someone else?
      2. Is the yelling just kind of in general because the yeller is extremely agitated, passionate, intense or worked-up, but not at a particular person? (like angry about a situation or process)
      3. Is there name calling or derogatory speak?
      4. Was the yelling conducted behind closed doors, but could still be heard?
      5. Was the yelling justified in any way, such as to advert something dangerous?

      Some people get upset about any kind of yelling or raising the voice in the workplace. But I guess I’m more tolerant about certain things like #2, #4 and #5 but definitely not #1 and #3 and I also look to see if the person cools down quickly after the outburst. For #4, I take the standpoint the person was behind a closed door for privacy. I know there was a discussion recently where a poster was going to report their boss for yelling on the phone in their own office with the door closed. I just found that sort of wrong. Closed-door privacy is privacy, and even if iyou can hear it, it should be respected as though you didn’t (Kind of like when your parents had sex! HaHaHa).

  23. ContractQuestioner

    Help! I am a contractor treated like an employee.

    I signed a contract and began a contract position for 15-20 hours a week that focuses on interacting with alumni for a membership organization. The national nonprofit has an office staff of six, who are all contractors treated like standard employees. This means that everyone has an office with a desk phone and computer, a set schedule, business cards and a requirement to attend staff meetings and fill in for the office manager.

    Because of my status as a contractor paid a flat monthly rate from which all payroll taxes will be deducted, I want no part of this. I use my cell phone and laptop for the tasks assigned to me. I am looking for ways to address the limitations of my contractor status without upsetting my colleagues or sowing seeds of discontent.

    My goal is to continue to apply for full-time positions that have livable wages and benefits. I actually had a panel interview Tuesday, which upset the executive director. Her response troubled me and reinforced that she doesn’t truly comprehend the differences between employees and contractors.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? Can I use the W-9 and 1099 tax forms I receive as a rationale? How should I address questions about my schedule?

    1. Holly

      I’m a little confused, are you saying you want to create boundaries so that you can keep the 15-20 hour schedule? It’s a tough situation because basically what you’re going to have to do is kindly say that what they’re asking is beyond the limits of the contractor contract and they’d have to hire you with benefits if they want you to be an employee. The response may be straight up firing you. Essentially, it sounds like this nonprofit is potentially doing illegal misclassification of its employees, but it reaaally depends on more facts.

      1. ContractQuestioner

        Holly, my apologies for the confusing explanation.

        Here are the facts.

        1. I signed a contract and completed a W-9 tax form for which I will receive a 1099 at the end of the year.

        2. The contract outlined the goals for the position for the length of the contract. This did not mention any required time in the office or administrative responsibilities.

        3. No one in the office has their health insurance covered or their payroll tax deducted.

        4. I have checked with the IRS and Bureau of Labor websites and believe I am firmly in the right to stick with working remotely for an average of 20 hours per week.

        5. I don’t expect they will fire me because they desperately need warm bodies, and the ED knows I can do this job with minimal engagement and supervision. She also employees four other contractors who work outside of the office with no issues. I’m just the odd person out who apparently needs to help with admin, despite not be compensated appropriately for it.

        Sigh, I really wanted this to work out. I don’t want to end the contract because I feel exploited.

        1. Natalie

          If you’re pretty confident they won’t fire you, just refuse (politely) to do the work that should be done by an actual employee. You can use the “we’ll get in trouble” sort of language that Alison suggests to soften it. You may have to decline more than once – unfortunately there’s no ironclad way to stop people from asking if they really want to.

        2. JessicaTate

          You should start with what’s your objective / best outcome here? I’m reading it as: Ideally, you’d keep this gig, providing the deliverables outlined in the contract working remotely, in the time that is necessary to deliver the contracted work, and using your own resources (in other words, as an independent contractor). What you’re balking at is an ED asking you to start doing this work a) in their office, b) with their equipment, c) at their schedule times. Is that about right?

          I would suggest having that conversation with the ED bringing your actual contract to the table, which outlines responsibilities/deliverables for a flat fee. You could say that adding these new components would require a revision of the contract. I would also bring the Checklist from the IRS for assessing: Is this a person a contractor or employee. All of these things the ED wants show up on that checklist as “employee” territory. I would frame the conversation around whatever it is you want: “I want to deliver this work for you as an independent contractor, as we initially agreed and contracted for. That means I meet these goals, but I control how and when I do it (per this checklist from the IRS). If you are actually looking for an employee where you establish their schedule and work location and things like that, I’m not actually interested in that type of position.”

          OR, if you are interested in an employee role, but ONLY if you are hired as an employee (and they pay their share of the taxes), then you make that part of the statement. “I am willing to work in the way you’re requesting, but I would need to be hired and played as an employee in order to be comfortable with that.”

          And think about termination of the contract may be the outcome if you reach a total impasse. (Check out those clauses in your contract to know the procedure going in.) And that is not being fired. That is, they want to renegotiate the terms of the contract, and you don’t agree with the proposed change in scope. So, one/both are going to need to terminate the contract.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot

      Well, if you want to go nuclear on them, feel free to report them to IRS or labor dept as classifying everyone as contractors when they’re really employees.

    3. Bea

      Refuse to do tasks that you’re not contractually obligated to do.

      Not being an employee, there are no job descriptions.

      How is your contact in terms of termination? It’ll open another can of worms for them to terminate you for refusing to do administrative tasks you’re not obligated up do.

      1. ContractQuestioner

        Bea, the contract is for 12 months but has an at-will termination policy (two weeks’ notice).

        I am likely to use a soft approach when declining additional tasks not listed in the contract and may mention that legally I’m self-employed and need to focus on securing other sources of income. The monthly rate is an unlivable pittance that requires supplemental income to meet my monthly budgeted needs.

        Thanks for your comment!

  24. Peaches

    How do you deal with a coworker who won’t stop talking to you about his child’s athletic abilities (and insults you in the midst of it)?

    I am a woman in my mid 20’s. I have a male coworker in his mid 40’s. He is OBSESSED with telling me about his daughter’s soccer accomplishments, and every little detail about her team (multiple conversations every day). Now, normally I would welcome this sort of conversation, as I was a college soccer player, so of course this topic interests me. However, he for one, is clearly living vicariously through his child and is the classic, delusional parent who thinks his child is God’s gift to sports (i.e. “she should get more playing time”, “she is by far the best player on her team”, “she’s only 11, but she definitely is a D1 type player”, etc.) This is annoying and eye roll worthy, but I could actually get over that part if he didn’t insult me in the midst of his comments. Many, many times, he’s alluded to the fact that I was “just a D2 athlete”. For instance, “My daughter has gotten to go watch D2 soccer games, ya know, at the level you played at, but she’s just really wanting to go to a higher level than that”, or, “it’s just amazing the difference in athletic ability between the D1 and D2 games we’ve attended. My daughter is definitely striving for D1, that’s where she’ll definitely be at someday.”

    Maybe I’m overreacting, but I just find it super rude for him to say these things to me on a daily basis when he knows I was a D2 athlete. I am proud of the school I attended and the team I played for, and I hate that he downplays my experience. I usually just nod and turn back to my computer to focus on my work, but he continues these conversations with me every day. I don’t want to sound like a petty young woman concerned about how a coworker views me as a soccer player – that isn’t important to me. I simply would like to not be insulted. How can I more easily cut off these conversations in the future? Any advice is appreciated! TIA!

    1. Anonymous Educator

      I’d probably say something like, “Hey, I love soccer as much as you do, but I think I need a break from talking about it.” Or just making vague, soft “Mm-hm” noises without looking at him when he says stuff.

    2. WellRed

      He’s not downplaying your experience so much as he DOESN’T CARE about your experience and why should he? He is bragging about this daughter, not insulting you. Also, he sounds annoying and I feel bad for his daughter. I mean, she’s 12, not Mia Hamm. Who cares how a random coworker’s kid plays soccer? I think you should find a way to curtail these conversations.

      1. Peaches

        I’m certainly not asking him to care about my experience – why would he? It’s the fact that he’s always mentioning how “unathletic” D2 athletes are. That is insulting to me. I, too, feel bad for his daughter. I had teammates with parents like that as a child, and always felt bad for them.

        1. Lavender Menace

          It’s also just plain inaccurate. I did grad school at a Division 1 school that didn’t give scholarships to athletes and had student athletes who were decent but not amazing. There are athletes at Division 2 schools that could run rings around them. There are also many reasons why an athlete who is good enough to go Division 1 might choose to go to a Division 2 or even a Division 3 school instead.

      2. Washi

        I mean, he is insulting Peaches. I would imaging he’s not quite so focused on the difference between D1 and D2 with people who have never played before.

        But yeah, as much as I would love to give him a snarky comeback because he sounds like THE WORST I would probably just cut him off right at the beginning with “ahhh sorry, can’t talk! need to focus!” and then turn back to your work.

          1. Lily in NYC

            Division 1 in college vs Division 2. Division 1 is the college “big time” in sports. For example, televised college basketball and football games are Division 1 teams. So he is insulting peaches by saying his daughter is just SO MUCH better even though she’s 11 years old and it’s really too soon to tell.

            1. RVA Cat

              It’s beyond rude that he’s insulting Peaches like this.

              I also can’t help but think of his reaction if his daughter “only” ends up playing D2. Or drops soccer altogether to spite him….

    3. Time for a gnu name

      Depending on your rapport with the guy otherwise, here are a few options I’d entertain.
      Keep in mind, I’m a smart aleck that has little patience for egoes.
      Him: …you were *just* a D2 athlete.

      [Light snark response]
      You: Oh, you’re right, I was D2 – remind me again… what level did you play at in college? I always forget.

      [Logical response]
      You: Hope (daughter) stays interested in the meantime! A lot can happen between 11 and college!

      [Humor response]
      You: Oh, I know! That D2 label has just pestered me all throughout my adult life!

      I would also be inclined to just look at the guy and roll my eyes every single time he says it. So obnoxious! (Also, I had to laugh when you said the kid is 11. Athletic ability changes a lot over the years that follow age 11. Oh my.)

      1. Time for a gnu name

        In reading your suggestions again, I see I missed the point (wanting to be able to cut off the topic quickly). My first suggestion might still help with that though! :)

      2. Peaches

        Haha, this made me laugh – thank you for the lighthearted suggestions. :)

        I especially like your suggestion to respond with “hope (daughter) stays interested”. He actually has an older daughter who was a gymnast that quit because she was burnout. I remember my coworker about a year ago when he quit how he was trying his best to convince her to stick with it. I wouldn’t be surprised if his pushiness was part of the reason she quit!

        It’s definitely obnoxious. That’s kind of just his personality in general. I just heard him telling another coworker this morning how he “would have been an all-conference type football player in college” had he not gotten hurt in high school. I was silently rolling my eyes from my desk!

        Also, yes, the fact that she is only 11 years old makes it even more absurd.

        1. Muriel Heslop

          My sister played D1 soccer and she has a stock reply for this pervasive and extremely annoying preoccupation of sports-obsessed parents: It’ll be interesting to see where they end up!

          Okay, it’s not that interesting. But people seem to understand that concludes the conversation (for the moment.) She also coaches and she says when people complain about middle schoolers they should be complaining about the parents!

        2. ginger ale for all

          His new office nickname should be Lady Catherine.

          From Lady Catherine De Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice – “If you are speaking of music…it is of all subjects my delight. There are few people in England I suppose, who have more true enjoyment of music than myself, or a better natural taste. If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient. And so would Anne, if her health would have allowed her to apply. I am confident that she would have performed delightfully. – Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice”

          1. Rat in the Sugar

            I feel like he’s also a bit of an Uncle Rico–“Man, if Coach had just put me in the game, we’d’ve made State, no doubt in my mind…whaddya wanna bet I can throw a football over them damn mountains??”

        3. TootsNYC

          Or there’s, “I hope she doesn’t burn out–all the pressure of people’s expectations can be pretty heavy. Excuse me, I have to get something from the printer.”

          And then when you come back emptyhanded, “Oh, I forgot to press print. I’ll get it later.”

        4. Grouchy Potato

          NPR just had an interview with a filmmaker(?) who interviewed all these top athletes and to a person they all said “greatness comes from within, not from a sports obsessed parent” So maybe send him that link and it’ll shut him up? (It was one segment on All of It on NPR today)

      3. Lavender Menace

        Interest changes a lot too. My cousin’s daughter said for years that it was her dream to go to Juilliard and pursue a career as a professional dancer. She started dancing when she was around 3 or 4. Just last year, at age 12, she decided she didn’t want to do dance anymore; she wanted to play field hockey instead. *shrug*

    4. Nita

      Ugh, I have a neighbor like that – we used to live next door. Kind of like a coworker situation, because she’d pop over a lot, and I couldn’t get away from these conversations. Not soccer specifically, but she’d gush non-stop about her kids being baby geniuses, while pointedly looking over at my kids who were NOT memorizing Greek mythology at three :) It was definitely an attempt to build herself up at our expense. I don’t know if I believe everything she claimed, but it was tempered by the fact that her kids are grown adults, and she keeps bragging about the same couple of things from years and years ago, and my annoyance was getting mixed with pity because she keeps going on and on about this to fill some kind of gap in her present life.

      She’s a nice woman really, and has helped my family in a tough spot more than once. Still, I wasn’t enjoying the conversations, so I just started tuning them out and just responding with “Uh-huh” every time. Once she starts going on about the baby geniuses, I don’t even listen, just nod when she pauses for breath. She doesn’t notice and I’m pretty sure she’s just happy to have a listener, and totally oblivious to the fact that I’m not listening.

      1. Lissa

        I question a lot of things when people do this about their grown children – ie, constantly referring to how amazing they were as babies. No stories about them being geniuses in high school? It makes me wonder if the kids were like me. I learned to read at 3 (not Greek myths though, so I’m a lesser genius level!), was “super advanced” through about midway elementary school, then got thoroughly mediocre grades in high school, and am now working a job I enjoy that pays the bills but am not setting the world on fire anytime soon. I have come to believe that being a baby genius relates not at all to how one will be as an adult, lol.

        1. Nita

          Sadly, me too. I was also a “baby genius” (haven’t told the neighbor, because I don’t want to fuel that conversation!) didn’t do anything remarkable, and am definitely not living up to it now. I keep telling myself I will do something bigger if I ever leave my full-time job, but right now that’s not in the cards so who knows.

          Her kids did well enough, but also nothing extraordinary, so the genius stories kind of end somewhere before first grade :)

          1. Lissa

            Interestingly, I’m not even sad about it. I was a really really stressed out child who would hide under my desk if I got even one question wrong, and was pretty miserable as a “gifted” child. I’m much happier as a moderately OK adult, lol.

            1. Slartibartfast

              Hear, hear from another 3 year old reader not living up to her potential. The stress is so not worth it. My mediocre self is quite happy to not keep up with the Joneses.

              1. Seeking Second Childhood

                Ack… “not living up to potential” is one of those report card phrases that I came to dread.
                Right up there with “improvement needed” on report card formats that try to be all encouraging.

      2. Thursday Next

        The funny thing is that parents who have kids doing something at a high level don’t brag to all and sundry about it. One of my son’s friends is top 5 nationally in chess, and his parents don’t really talk about it. I imagine people talk about things with parents in similar situations, like elite gymnasts’ parents probably talk to each other about their kids more than to their coworkers.

        The braggiest parents I’ve met have kids who are “ordinary good” at something, whereas the ones with kids at Juilliard are pretty chill. That’s just my experience—YMMV.

    5. Temperance

      What I have done when men try to neg me, which is what he’s doing, is asking what HE accomplished. So next time he starts saying dumb crap about “just” being D2, throw it back at him Say that you’re proud of what you accomplished, you enjoyed your time playing for your school, and ask him what HIS experience was with D1 soccer.

      When he gets back to you and says that he didn’t play D1, you can then throw the awkward back at him and say that you assumed he did, since he talks about it so much.

      1. Muriel Heslop

        “I assume you did because you talk about it so much” is hilarious! I almost want someone to persistently annoy me about their kid so I can say this.

    6. Auntie Social

      Tell him you didn’t want to bring it up, but you WERE a D1 when you were her age, but as you got older you became a D2. So, things happen, interests change, etc. So, the way he should look at it is that his daughter is a D1 player . . . FOR NOW.

    7. bb-great

      No advice but OMG I would have punched this dude already, so kudos to you for your restraint. I feel bad for his daughter, too–if he’s this obnoxious to you I imagine he must be a horrible sports parent.

      1. Peaches

        Haha, thank you! I feel bad for his daughter too. I had teammates growing up who had parents just like him, and they were awful.

    8. Trisha

      I know you’re really proud of your daughter and you should be. I just can’t talk about soccer right now. Thanks for understanding.

      1. Trisha

        Sorry – should have given context – that’s what I recommend saying to him. Short, sweet, too the point.

    9. AMA Long-time Lurker

      I have a coworker who similarly used to pop by my desk multiple times a day to chatter about non-work related things in a very one-sided manner. I have discouraged him from doing this over time using the following combinations of behavior:
      -Continue typing and looking at keyboard while injecting “mmhmm, “oh yea,” and “totally.” Do not turn your chair around and engage – stay busy looking! Body language matters.
      -Literally just saying, “Sorry, I’m in the middle of something right now.”
      -Less blunt: “Oh, shoot, just got an email I should check out.”
      -White lie: “Scuse me, I was just about to run to the restroom!”
      Said employee not floats over to other people who indulge him (and might actually enjoy the banter while I do not).

    10. Drop Bear

      How annoying, and poor daughter(s). You probably can’t pelt him with soccer balls every time he approaches you, so in lieu of that I’d give one of the non-committal responses others have suggested- I like the ‘I’m glad she enjoys it, but I have to get back to my work now’, suggestions. And hey, perhaps his unloading his obnoxiousness on you spares his daughter a little of it!

    11. CDM

      My professional response would be to be direct. “I’m happy to hear about your daughter and soccer as long as you make zero disparaging comments about D2 soccer. Then every single time he says something disparaging – “We’re done – bye.” Headphones may be helpful – you don’t even have to listen to anything – but put them on to not give him the opportunity to JADE about why you shouldn’t take it that way, etc.

      The problem is, anything less than direct, any hints, evasions, he’s just going to spin to himself, and probably to others, about how you’re jealous or bitter that his kid is a better player than you were. He’s not going to pick up on any hints that he’s being an insufferable blowhard unless hit over the head with a clue-by-four.

      My snarky side would like to find some of the office EAP literature and hand it to him next time he starts. “You need to speak to a professional about your pathological need to boost your self-esteem by disparaging my soccer career. That’s just not how adults act.”

    12. Parenthetically

      I like a combination of “It’ll be interesting to see where she ends up… now how about these TPS reports?” and “Yeah, poor me, only a D2 soccer player, I’m sure the shame will follow me for the rest of my life… now how about these TPS reports?”

      If I liked the guy other than this, and/or thought he was likely to snap out of it with a little common sense, I might take a minute and say, “Hey, you know, it’s my experience that the majority of kids who play soccer in elementary school — even the good ones — end up losing interest or having other priorities over time, and I’d hate to think that if a kid didn’t continue after a certain point, or ‘only’ played D2 ball, any parent would be disappointed in them. There’s nothing wrong with playing D2, and there’s nothing wrong with not playing at all. Just my two cents as a former college athlete… now how. about. those. TPS. reports. BOB.” If he has any social skills at all, he’ll take this as the “Do Not Enter” sign it’s meant to be.

      Will it work with this particularly clueless-sounding dude? I am not confident.

      1. Peaches

        I really like your verbiage! It’s so true – I played with so many gifted players growing up who didn’t play in college for either a lack of interest, or because they peaked at an early age and just weren’t as talented when they got older. And that’s okay! A lot of them are really good at other things and excel in their adult lives. I feel bad for his daughter that he’s pigeon holing her into this one thing (soccer). Unless she becomes a professional (unlikely), there will be a lot more important qualities to possess as an adult (kind, encouraging, easy going, smart, etc.)

        I am also not confident ANYTHING will work. Honestly (and I know this sounds mean), he’s just not very smart. He’s an excellent sales rep (which he will tell you all day long), but conversationally, it’s VERY apparent he’s not the sharpest tack.

    13. Blue

      I used to work at a D3 university that was very strong academically, and I had several student athletes who transferred away from D1 schools (where they had at least partial scholarships for athletics) because they decided playing the absolute best soccer/volleyball/etc. wasn’t their biggest priority in college. There’s a very good chance I’d say something like, “You know, people end up at D2 and D3 institutions for all kinds of reasons. What if she falls in love with a D2 school? Surely you wouldn’t want your obsession with top-tier athletics to deter her from attending her dream school,” with some comment stressing her enjoyment of the sport. But I can be a bit more confrontational than is wise…

      1. Peaches

        So very true! I went to a D2 school because I liked the small class sizes and the overall feel of the University. We also had a lot of athletes transfer to our school from D1 schools. My coworker is of the opinion that “if you don’t play a D1 school, you probably suck at sports.” I knew lots of mediocre athletes who went D1 so they could tell people they went D1 (and most of them sat the bench for four years). I also knew a lot of excellent athletes who went D2, D3, or NAIA because they liked the small campus, location, classes, and perhaps wanted to go somewhere where they could get ample playing time right off the bat.

        I love your suggested response – it might actually make him think about the sort of pressure he could be putting on his daughter.

        1. Blue

          Yes! All of this. If you do say something to point out that D1 isn’t the definitive sign of a quality athlete, I’d definitely throw in parts of your experience. You can really hammer home the idea that, like most things related to deciding on a college, a lot of it can come down to the individual person’s priorities, and being on the flashiest team is not what every skilled athlete wants out of their college experience. He may not buy it, but it can’t hurt to plant that seed! (This guy sounds super obnoxious, by the way. His poor kid – and poor you!)

      2. Sparkly Librarian

        My sister went to a school with a competitive D2 team, and they paid her way completely. She could balance school and sport commitments (was a multi-year Scholar-Athlete awardee), was kind of a big fish in a small pond, and also enjoyed her time in college. She COULD’VE gone to a D1 school with a partial or full-tuition scholarship, but would then have come out of it with massive student loans. I don’t think she regrets it!

    14. cactus lady

      “Hahaha, that was SO LONG AGO” (it wasn’t, but that’s not the point, the point is you aren’t a college student anymore and he needs to not address you like one).

    15. Gumby

      My understanding is that D1 and D2 have more to do with the size and $-spent-on-sports of the school. It should come as no surprise that the larger, spendier school have teams that tend to be more competitive on average but that says nothing about any particular individual athlete.

      PLUS, it irks me that all he’s looking at is the supposed prestige of the athletic program as if people don’t choose colleges based on a variety of factors most of which are not related to sports at all. Yes, even athletes are allowed to care about academics. Or campus size. Or distance from home. Or any number of things other than sports. Under his rubric CalTech, for example, is a non-starter since it is a division III school. Hope his daughter isn’t into science or engineering.

      But as for actionable advice, maybe “hey, co-worker, I’m happy your daughter is enjoying soccer. But when you make comments that disparage division 2 schools, you are insulting me and my college. Would you mind keeping those opinions to yourself around me?” Assuming his jerkishness is limited to this topic and it’s plausible that he doesn’t realize how his comments come across. If he’s a jerk in other ways, maybe just shut all soccer convos down.

      1. Peaches

        Your understanding is 100% correct!

        Also, yes, it totally irks me too! There are SO many other factors that go into choosing a college. It actually makes me sad for his daughter that all he (seemingly) cares about is her as a soccer player. Not her as a math whiz, or her as a caring, nice person, or her as a comic relief, or WHATEVER it is. Unless she becomes a professional athlete, whether she played soccer at a D1 school is really, really not going to be very important when she’s an adult.

    16. Independent George

      Reminds me of my inlaws who love to tell the story of my poor brother in law getting benched on his HS basketball team though he was clearly one of the strongest players on the team. The guy is almost 50 now. I’ve grown so tired of the story, I now tell my spouse, “Johnny was clearly robbed of his future career in the NBA. Poor guy.”

      Honestly, I get a bit blunt when I grow tired of hearing the delusions. I would probably tell this guy that I find his disdain for D2 athletes insulting. Not everyone is on a path to professional sports, but that you loved your experience as a D2 athlete and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Hey, I’m a proud parent too, but this guy needs to take it down a notch.

      1. Thursday Next

        What is it with parents who persist in talking about their middle-aged children’s high school days? I mean, I understand if Mr. and Mrs. Retton refer to Mary Lou’s teenage years every now and then, but short of that, it just doesn’t make sense.

    17. ..Kat..

      To me, the big problem is that he is wasting your time. Time that you and he are being paid to work. I would just focus on “I have to get back to work. Hope your daughter continues to do well.”

    18. valentine

      “I’m all talked out about soccer.” Follow up/broken-record: “Nevertheless…” Establish you’re going to be observing quiet time but he can interrupt for work stuff. When he blabs, say, “Hold that thought” and go back to quiet time. I hate these situations because the wires were crossed. You were supposed to meet the daughter, who would totally love to talk to a real-life D2 woman. Instead, you’re stuck with someone whose best counter is a voice-activated air horn or, if he has milder days, a Big Mouth Billy Bass.

    19. all the candycorn

      Girls’ soccer has a higher rate of concussions than boys’ football. You could remind him of that, “Oh it’s so great she loves soccer, but with the concussion rate being what it is, let’s just hope she’s still fortunate enough to be cleared to play in 7 years!”

    20. AsItIs

      Start to quote him some facts about the game. Wikipedia is a useful source. Bore him with it.

      Practise it as “word vomit”. :D

      “Ah yes soccer. You know it’s originally called football. Americans took the name and gave to another sport, which was copied from rugby. And rugby is named after the school. But back to football. Did you know the English have played a form of football for over 600 years? That’s long before Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue. And did you know many times it was banned? And did you know that is was a holiday event for Shrove Tuesday across England?”

      Don’t let him get a word in.

      “D1. D2. That doesn’t matter, because did you know that in some places in England a few hundred years ago that the goals could have been as much as three miles apart? Now that is being fit!”

      (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_football_in_England)
      “The earliest reference to football is in a 1314 decree issued by the Lord Mayor of London, Nicholas de Farndone, on behalf of King Edward II. Originally written in Norman French, a translation of the decree includes: “for as much as there is great noise in the city caused by hustling over large footballs in the fields of the public, from which many evils might arise that God forbid: we command and forbid on behalf of the King, on pain of imprisonment, such game to be used in the city in the future”.[5] The earliest known reference to football that was written in English is a 1409 proclamation issued by King Henry IV. It imposed a ban on the levying of money for “foteball”.[6] It was specific to London, but it is not clear if payments had been claimed from players or spectators or both. The following year, Henry IV imposed fines of 20 shillings on certain mayors and bailiffs who had allowed football and other “misdemeanours” to occur in their towns. This is the earliest documentary evidence of football being played throughout England.[7]

      At the end of the sixteenth century, the game was still rough and unsophisticated but, in 1581, the scholar and headmaster Richard Mulcaster provided the earliest account of football as a team sport. He insisted that the game had “a positive educational value as it promoted health and strength”. He suggested that it would improve if there were a limited number of participants per team and a referee in full control of proceedings.[4] Until the time of the English Civil War and the Commonwealth in the mid-17th century, opposition to football was mainly due to the public disturbance it allegedly caused. In 1608, for instance, it was banned in Manchester because of broken windows. The Puritans objected to it for a different reason. In their view, it was a “frivolous amusement”, as were the theatre and several other sports. The big issue in the Puritan mindset was “violation of the Sabbath” and, once in power, they were able to impose a ban on Sunday entertainment which, in the case of sport, still prevailed for 300 years after the Restoration. Folk football was still played on weekdays, though, especially on holidays. It continued to be disorganised and violent. Despite Mulcaster’s proposals, matches involved an indefinite number of players and sometimes whole villages were ranged against each other on a playing area that encompassed fields and streets.[4]

      There is mention of football being played at Cambridge University in 1710. A letter from a certain Dr Bentley to the Bishop of Ely on the subject of university statutes includes a complaint about students being “perfectly at Liberty to be absent from Grace”, in order to play football (referred to as “Foot-Ball”) or cricket, and not being punished for their conduct as prescribed in the statutes.[8] It was at Cambridge University that the first rules of association football were drafted in the nineteenth century. In the meantime, folk football continued to be played according to local rules and customs.[3] “

  25. De Minimis

    A permanent job came open when I work [I’m a fed contractor] so I applied. I’m not sure of my chances, and it’ll almost certainly get back to my supervisor if I do end up being under serious consideration [it’s essentially in the same department.] I’ve only been there about two months, but I feel like I can’t pass up the opportunity at a permanent position. It’s also involving work that I’d probably find a little more engaging than what I’m currently doing.

    On paper, I’d think my chances are good, but you just never know, and I’m not sure how their system works, I might not make it through initial screening if it’s something where the hiring manager doesn’t even see all the applications.

    I’m a little more used to my job, but as it stands right now I can’t see myself sticking around here more than 1-2 years, even if my position was kept after the contract goes up for bid in a couple of years. It’s pretty much a dead end and the benefits aren’t good at all. I’m middle aged and I’ve never really felt like I’ve been all that connected to a career–I still job hop fairly frequently, though that’s not always due to my own decision [had budget cuts at the last job, and had to leave the job before that because my spouse was relocating for work]–but it always seems as if I always end up heading for the exit after 1-2 years. I’m wondering if it may be too late to change my ways.

    1. Not All

      I’ve worked in federal agencies for a couple decades, and I’ve never once encountered a manager who would be upset with a term or contract employee who made a try at a permanent position. (Managers who would be upset about lots of other things they shouldn’t, yes, but not this.) It’s SUCH a normal thing in federal agencies.

      On the job itself, don’t get upset if you don’t get it. Realistically, it is VERY hard to get hired into most federal positions even if you are far and away the most qualified unless you have some type of preference points. It’s really, really hard to beat the vets preference points in an “open to the public” position otherwise. I can’t tell you how many positions I’ve been on hiring panels for that we saw someone (or several someones) who were super qualified and we really wanted, but we couldn’t hire them because they were blocked by far less qualified vets. (Yes, I’m aware that’s not how the vets preference system was intended to work…but that doesn’t change that that’s how it’s being implemented in most agencies and that no politician or agency director is going to touch the issue with a 20 foot pole.)

      Good luck…I hope you get it!!!

      1. De Minimis

        Yeah, I’m not really expecting it, but thought I’d give it a chance. The person who once held my current job got a federal position here [and isn’t a vet] so it can happen. Generally when I apply to these jobs I often at least get referred due to prior federal experience, though I’ve applied at this agency in the past [before coming on board as a contractor] and didn’t get referred.

        Sometimes it’s hard even with preference! I’m eligible under a Special Hiring Authority, but only for certain agencies. Even then I often don’t get interviewed, though I usually get referred. I did have one interview last year for a job similar to an old one I held, but they decided not to hire me. I think I may be blackballed in that region for having left a job in the past….or at the very least, they may think I’m not reliable.

        I’m not in love with my current location, so if I don’t get the job I won’t be heartbroken….

        1. Not All

          Good luck!

          I just always feel obligated to warn people that not being selected in federal hiring can have even less to do with whether you are qualified, interviewed well, etc than in the ‘normal’ work world because the vets preference throws such a monkey wrench in things. I’ve talked to quite a few people who were really blaming themselves for doing something ‘wrong’ during the process when the truth was we would have LOVED to hire them but just couldn’t. I hate to see people blaming themselves. Especially when often the answer is to apply for permanent positions in super undesirable locations to get your status, then start applying where you really want to work after that year.

          They did change the rules so that people can count term and seasonal employment (and even some volunteer work) towards being eligible to apply as if you were already a permanent employee. For those positions, preference points don’t count so it’s a much fairer playing field. Depending on your background, it may be worth talking to an HR person to see if you can get recategorized under that.

  26. Alternative Person

    So work finally clamped down on the time-card padding people were doing but in the process eliminated all the designations we’d use to claim for things like travel/informal client facing time etc.

    It super needed to happen but my manager is now using it as a stick to try and get me to pick up work with two clients I currently refuse to work with for reasons he well knows and haven’t been resolved or even tempered (nothing awful-awful, more I’m-not-risking-my-career-because-they-decide-to-lie territory) as I’ve lost better paid time because of this change. I can afford to hold firm fortunately. But, next time hours come up at my contract job, I’m going to take them.

    Obnoxious part timer seems to have been protected in all this though, despite being part of the issue. Apparently she was complaining about losing the salary that she had been promised. I get it, she planned up to her means but I don’t think it’s fair that she’s claiming to be losing her salary when she was padding her time card in the first place . She has been getting more client hours to make up some of the difference.

    1. Auntie Social

      Shouldn’t she get the two awful clients? As in, that’s what happens when you pad your time cards? If two godawful clients aren’t a lesson in honesty, I don’t know what is.

      1. Alternative Person

        To be honest, I think she should be let go, for both the padding and for other reasons.

        As for the two clients, they’re a couple of young-ish kids who play the ‘you’re no fun so I’m going to play up game’. Most of my co-workers go with the ‘no, I’m so much fun, I’ll prove it!’ approach (including the Obnoxious part timer). So, they for the most part get along fine even if they don’t keep up with their work.

        I go with the ‘well, lets do the work your supposed to do, to a reasonable standard and we’ll see about something fun later’. They then stall/play around till the end of the period. The last time I taught the younger one, they starting hitting me (and I mean hitting, not kid flailing) because I wouldn’t let them play a game. The last time I taught the older one, they threatened to tell very damaging lies about me to the manager/others.

        I had very stern talks with both of them, reported it to my manager, who followed up. My manager than told me the lie thing was a joke, (in fact, he reported the very line I had said to the kid to me). I said without clear improvement, apologies and action plans I would not work with either of them again.

        They have not improved. I haven’t gotten anything. I don’t want to put myself out there when I’m not going to be backed up by other staff. These kids know what they’re doing. They know how to play people off one another, get what they want and avoid work.

        1. ..Kat..

          Whoa, these kids are seriously bad news. Keep refusing to work with them. Also, I hope you have documentation about what happened and your boss’s response. And, as always, keep a copy at home.

  27. NewMom

    I’m scheduled for an all-day interview on Monday. I emailed the person coordinating my schedule saying I’d need a 30 minute break every 3-4 hours (so 3 breaks b/c interview goes 8am-dinner) to pump. They said of course.
    I just got my schedule and those breaks don’t take into account walking from place to place. For at least one of the breaks, I can tell that I will have max 15 minutes in an office to pump. Which is the time I actually *pump* for, but I need at a minimum 3 minutes on either end to get situated with all the stuff. And it’s hard to drain the boobs if I’m feeling like I’m rushing to pump.
    Do I speak up? Or just do my best to roll with it? I feel like it’s late now to change the schedule for Monday. If it were the first or last pump, I’d be more inclined to get it go (aiming to pump longer before the day or at the end of the day), but it’s in the middle of the day. I’m prone to clogs and mastitis.
    Thoughts from other pumping moms who have interviewed? I’m worried about seeming high maintenance for saying their accommodation isn’t enough.

    1. CaitlinM

      (I pumped for 12 months). If two of the breaks are adequate and one is short, I would probably just roll with it.

      1. NewMom

        I think I’ve landed here. I might be a bit uncomfortable, but I don’t think its worth mucking with the entire schedule.

        1. No Name Yet

          I can see that. Most of the time when I was pumping, that would have been just fine. I would recommend wearing good nursing pads, if you’re at all prone to leaking – might be more likely if you’re not totally empty, and one less thing to think about. Good luck!

    2. Nita

      I’ve done all-day exams, and a few visits to places with no private space, while pumping. Break time was very limited (10-15 minutes a break). I brought a hand pump, rushed into a bathroom stall and did a very quick five-minute pump on each side. I was pretty uncomfortable on those days, and am also prone to clogs, but it was not a long-term thing so I put up with it.

      I also saved time by cleaning the pump only once, when I got home. The milk has pretty good anti-bacterial properties, so that worked well enough and I never had mold or spoilage problems. It actually felt less gross than trying to wash anything in a public bathroom sink, with random people milling around.

      1. NewMom

        I throw mine in my cooler bag at work (not using the shared fridge. Nope. Never. Not even for food), so I’m used to not worrying about washing. I wash 1x per day.

    3. Friday afternoon fever

      (I have never pumped, but) I feel like it’s very reasonable to reach out (ASAP!) and say something like

      Thanks so much for accommodating me. Looking at the schedule, I realized that, taking into account travel time from place to place, for X break I will need an additional 10 minutes [or 15? you said “max 15,” it may be better to build in a few extra minutes so you’re not stressed]. Can we build this in? I realize this is a last-minute request and I appreciate your flexibility around my health needs.

      In my opinion, if you just got your schedule today, it’s not too late to change for Monday — if it is, they should have sent it sooner — and an extra 10-15 minutes doesn’t sound like a big deal. It could be inconvenient from their end, but it’s absolutely fine to ask for, and no reasonable person who will respect your accommodation needs once hired would throw out your candidacy for this.

      1. Friday afternoon fever

        Think of it less as “I am asking for a longer break” and more of “I am asking for the length of the break I originally requested, and they meant to give me a break of this length but due to a misunderstanding/oversight of travel time, they did not”

    4. Gumby

      How closely does the organization stick to the interview schedule? Does a 5 minute difference need to be documented? Can it be worked out the day of with the individual interviewers? We… do not stick very closely to ours and it is not uncommon to be off by 5 -15 minutes. Slipping an extra few minutes in to pump would not be an issue.

    5. LurkieLoo

      From an interview scheduling person, if you told me you needed 3 breaks for 30 minutes each, I would assume you had calculated in your setup and travel time. Part of that is because I have no clue about pumping and would have not thought at all about 30 minutes not being long enough to get between places and set up and pump. Yes, I’m clueless in that regard. If I gave you exactly what you asked for and now you’re asking for more, I would probably be slightly annoyed. Although probably not to the point of it being a make or break thing.

      Also . . . the parts scheduled before the breaks might be the kind of thing that is scheduled for an hour, but could easily finish up in 45 minutes.

      PS – an all day interview sounds brutal! Good luck on Monday!

      1. NewMom

        I kinda thought things would all be in the same building, not 1-2 blocks apart. I don’t see how I could have anticipated that. 30 minutes definitely includes set up. As I said, I only need to pump for 15 minutes. Add set up/take down and I need like 20-22. I don’t think it was crazy to assume at 30 minute break would allow for that amount of time actually sitting in the private room.
        All of the appointments before breaks are 20-30 min, so I doubt they will be shortened. If stuff runs over, I’m in trouble.
        But yeah, fear of annoying people means I won’t speak up. They also told me (in a follow up email from someone else) that there is no place to store the milk/pump but that they don’t recommend a roller bag b/c the walking (I said in my first email “Can I store a cooler bag and pump in the room? If not, I’ll just bring my small roller bag for the day.” And the response was basically, no, don’t do either of those things.) . So I’m going to be lugging a tote with a heavy battery powered pump everywhere I walk.
        Not the best vibe! I’m kinda worried.

        1. LurkieLoo

          I think you could try an “oops . . . didn’t realize the distance between meetings, any chance of extending the XX:XX break to XX:XY?” and see if they can move things. It’s all around sucky because you’re kind of darned if you do and darned if you don’t, and so are they.

          I do hope this is just a bump and you love the culture and company otherwise (and that they love you)!

        2. WellRed

          Isn’t walking what…roller bags are for? I would think that’d be better than lugging something heavy. And, no place to store anything? I don’t think this is going to be a mom friendly workplace. Please come back and update.

        3. Close Bracket

          > they don’t recommend a roller bag b/c the walking

          > So I’m going to be lugging a tote with a heavy battery powered pump everywhere I walk.

          Feel free to disregard that advice regarding the roller bag. A roller bag might be awkward due to walking, but lugging a bag by hand is worse. Show up with the roller bag, and when they say something, say, “Oh, I thought about what you said regarding walking, but the roller bag is much better for walking than a hand carried bag would be, and I do have to keep the bag with me. Thanks for understanding!”

          Although, that said, how big is this roller bag? I’m picturing something on the small side, like large-briefcase/small backpack size, not carry-on luggage size.

          1. zora

            Yeah, ignore all this bs and just do what you need to do, and don’t even bother to talk to them about it ahead of time. Bring the roller bag, and take your time when pumping until you are actually done and packed up. They aren’t going to barge in or knock and hurry you along, they will be waiting until you come out anyway, so just take your time, and if it means you’re 5-10 min late for the next session, they will all deal.
            And then one of two things will happen (I think) and you will have learned valuable information:

            1. They will all roll with it, no one will even notice, and everything will be fine. Because the problem is that their scheduler is not good with details. You will have learned that everyone is really pretty flexible at this company. That you have to be proactive about setting your own boundaries, but once you do, everyone is fine with it.

            2. They will be all stressed out about the roller bag and of your breaks ‘throwing off’ the schedule. You will have learned that they are kind of a mess. That they aren’t good about details, and that they are not really interested in accommodating working mothers. You now know you don’t want to work there at all.

            Either way, you are happy and comfortable during your whole day/trip, which is the most important thing.

          2. NewMom

            Yeah, it’s the size of a large briefcase. Like half a carry on bag–same width and depth but only 10 inches high or so. Basically it will fit pump + soft-sized cooler + notepad/other stuff I would normally bring to an interview.
            Thanks for telling me to disregard it. I get the sense that there may be stairs or something? But then I can just pick it up for stairs.

        4. Friday

          Unless this is your dream job, your industry doesn’t have many jobs available, and you’re desperate, if I were you I’d push back on all of their unreasonableness and see how they take it. Roller bag, take 30 min/time plus travel to pump as you previously requested (and tell people that you’ll be back at X:00 as you head to each break). Maybe they’ll be cool. It’s certainly a great test of their understanding of work/life balance in action.

    6. Ender Wiggin

      I agree you should ask about extending the break – but also ask how likely it is that ibterviews would finish on time. In my experience they often run over so you could end up with someone saying “oh well no time for your break let’s push on” or similar. Just be clear that you need a minimum of 25 mins actually sitting on your own in a room and let the planner organise it.

    7. valentine

      You’re not asking for too much and it’s perfectly reasonable to cite you thought you’d be in one building all day. I hope they’re not going to have you hiking through woods or taking a lot of stairs.

  28. What’s with Today, today?

    We had a college student come apply this week for part time night and weekend board operator work. The job listing is clear this is a part time nights and weekends gig:

    job experience:
    Jose Garcia’s Restaurant from 7/1/18 – 7/7/18

    Reason for leaving last job:
    the boss was rude and disrespectful

    Available to work nights and weekends:
    No

    1. ElspethGC

      Looked at that, thought “Six months at a job is pretty bad, but not *horrendous* for a college student… Oh. Oh wait. You’re American. Yeah, six days is bad.”

    2. Teapot librarian

      Oh goodness. I have an intern that I might need to fire for failure to meet the expectations of the internship (primarily: show up for work). I’ve told him he has ONE MORE CHANCE and then I’m referring him to the coordinator of the internship program. I wouldn’t be surprised if his resume ends up looking exactly like this.

    3. valentine

      Honest to a fault. I really feel for people like this because I was raised to believe anything else was a lie and a liar was the worst thing I could be. All lies were equally abhorrent, so, no clemency for white lies or lies of omission. I still feel weird not giving details to people who shouldn’t have them and hopefully don’t want them.

  29. rubyrose

    My division was just sold to another company. Sale was effective October 1, and we are currently looking at our first paystubs from the new company.

    They have made the YTD figures (taxes, some benefit deductions) set to the last amount from the old company plus the amount from the first paycheck from them (new company). I questioned them on that, and have been told we will not be getting a W2 from the old company, just one W2 from the new company.

    I’ve never heard of this before (combined W2 from new company). Has anyone here experienced that in a company sale?

    1. Enough

      No experience but the old company is now part of the new company and as long as they have integrated everything right it should be fine.

    2. Undine

      Google tells me it’s less common, but a valid option:

      “Section 5 of 2004-34 of the Internal Revenue Bulletin says you do not have to give W-2s to your employees if they were hired by the successor in the same year that the acquisition happened and if you both agree to that condition.”

    3. Headachey

      Oh, interesting questiom! I’m in a similar situation and was wondering how W2s would be handled since my current company will no longer exist.

    4. Product person

      Yup, that’s how it worked when my company was acquired in my previous job. I have no idea whether it’s best practice or correct but given how big the new company was, I assume it’s fine.

  30. Tigger

    Hey Guys!
    I just wanted to follow up on the question I posted last week regarding the work/ life balance with a career job and a “side hustle” job. I went to the interview on Saturday and was hired on the spot. I made it very clear that I will only work 2-3 nights during the weekday max and 1 day on the weekend. I also arranged that if I will not work on Friday if I am working on Saturday or Monday if I am working on Sunday (per my manager’s suggestion and all of y’alls advice). I also got my trip home for Christmas approved!
    I am really excited since I will be working in the tasting section and working the front so I will get to talk to all kinds of people.
    The best part is that I will be getting a heavy discount on beer, wine, and spirits so I know what all my friends and family will be getting for Christmas if they are of age.

    Thank you sooooo much for the advice!

  31. Catherine from Canada

    I don’t comment much but I read Ask a Manager almost every day. I’ve learned so much from the letters and the comments!
    I just wanted to share with you all that thanks to Alison’s excellent advice on how to write a resume and cover letter, how to work with recruiters and how to behave in an interview, I got not one, not two, but three job offers!
    This may not sound extraordinary but.
    I married at 18, had my first child at 20, was a stay/work at home mother for nearly 30 years, worked on contract and freelance at home for some of those years, lucked into a technical documentation job 10 years ago, and have only just had to actually put myself out there looking for a job this September.
    If you’ve done the math, yes, I’m 60 and I just had my first ever, then second and third interviews and got job offers from each one! I accepted the best (which was not the highest paying, but the one with work that best matched my strengths and interests, had the best commute and holds the most potential for further work) and start on Monday! (I’m still getting contacted by recruiters too, so I won’t have any trouble finding another job when this contract ends.)
    My husband says that must be some kick-ass resume and cover letter I’ve got, and yes, I think it is, thanks to you all.

  32. Tragic The Gathering

    I can’t get over my old job.

    I loved my supervisor, and the friends I made there, and the work I did (recruiting for a university – highly socially fulfilling position). The office itself was incredibly toxic and has only gotten worse since I left, but I was usually willing to deal with it because I loved the work and my bubble of people. I had to move due to my husband’s job , so I left on great terms, and took a job in a similar role at a new university. That was about 6 months ago.

    I still text with my old supervisor frequently, mostly social or mentor/mentee, stuff but also discussing things general to our field, like interesting articles, opportunities, etc. He will occasionally share things happening in the office, and ask for my input on issues that when I worked there we would’ve conquered as a team. I’m happy to do this…probably too happy in fact. I like my new job but don’t love it, and don’t feel fully invested in it, and I wish there was a way I could just go back to the way things were at my old place.

    Since this world is small and I move frequently, there’s a possibility I could work with some of the people from my old job again, so I’m not looking to completely cut ties. I guess I’m looking for ways to invest better in the job I have here so I feel less of a pull to the old job. There is currently no possibility of going back to work for the old place, but it is not outside the realm of possibility in the future (they do have some remote positions, and there was talk of creating one for me when I left, but it didn’t happen in time because state universities move SO SLOW).

    1. ACDC

      This was me a couple of months ago. I was doing nonprofit accounting and I LOVED it, but it was dysfunctional and toxic AF. There were weeks on end that I would get horrible stomach pains on my way to work, have an elevated heart rate/blood pressure the whole day, and it wouldn’t go away until I drove home. When I finally put in my notice, I felt so relieved, and then my last day when they sent me home, I cried so much saying goodbye to most of my coworkers (even a couple of them were in tears). I still wish I could go back, but only with some serious changes. For me, the only way to get over this has been to constantly remind myself of why I left. The second I get nostalgic, I think “Stop it! Don’t you remember X?”

      I guess it might be different for you since you didn’t leave of your own volition, but rather a move. This probably doesn’t help at all, but I related to it and wanted to throw my thoughts in.

      1. Tragic The Gathering

        It’s still helpful to hear it’s not just me. I think so many times you think about leaving a job and just boom it’s gone forever…I’ve certainly had that experience. It doesn’t help that when I lived there most of my social circle was through/affiliated with work as well so I think it’s feeling the loss of all of that and not wanting to give it up.

    2. Combinatorialist

      I think you should ease up texting your old supervisor for a little bit. Not necessarily to nothing and not forever, but it is like Captain Awkward suggests with relationships. If the relationship is strong enough to survive this change (you moving jobs), it is strong enough to survive a short break. I think texting so frequently is keeping you from really investing in your new job (just like talking to a recent ex a lot is going to keep you from moving on).

      1. valentine

        Yes, dial this relationship back so it’s social/mentoring/infrequent, limit the old-job talk, and stop being his consultant. Even paid, it would be keeping you in this space. You can be honest: You want to focus on your new job. What drew you to it? What do you look forward to about it? What can you start improving on in the next week?

    3. HMM

      I work at an org that has wonderful people but is also mildly-moderately dysfunctional and I tell everyone in their exit interview who agonizes and feels guilty about leaving great people: “you can still keep in touch with the wonderful people without having to deal with the crazy!”

      I think it’s a good impulse for you to want to be more invested in your current job, but I think part of your pain is that you keep wanting your new job to feel the same. If you accept that it won’t be exactly the same feeling as your old job and stop expecting it to be, then I think you’ll feel happier with your current situation. It’s okay that you go to your job everyday and do it without making best friends with everyone. And it’s ok that your friendships are now people outside of your current work circle!

      In fact, I think that once you relax your expectations about what your new work relationships should be like, you’ll be better able to make those relationships because they’ll develop organically, not with any preconceived notions of what work relationships should be like.

  33. Ronaldino

    I finally got a bit of good news after months of worrying about contract termination. The boss finally decided that they will extend my 6 month contract, although they regret that they won’t extent it any further than that.
    I am happy because I was worried for so long that I was going to be out of the office next month. Now, I get 6 months more time to hunt for a new job. There is something to be said for bosses who lays it our very clearly for you. It makes it easier to plan your life.

  34. CorporalAwkward

    I am at a weird part of my life now. I need to apply for a new job, because my current one is not working out. Yet at the same time, I am DEATHLY afraid I am not qualified for most jobs! At my age (38 years old), most people expect some sort of project management ability, which I don’t have. Am I doomed to face continuous rejections? Is it possible, even at my age, to stay in non-management roles?

    1. Friday afternoon fever

      > I am DEATHLY afraid I am not qualified for most jobs!
      At the risk of sounding pithy — you only have to be qualified for the jobs you want to apply for! You may want to look at some of Alison’s posts on impostor syndrome (will link in next comment) to see if anything there resonates with you. I’ll also link to some of her posts about applying for jobs for which you are underqualified.

      I think you should start by figuring out what kind of job you want. (It can have zero project management, if you’re not interested in that!) Then figure out whether you think you’re qualified or not. (It doesn’t have to be a 1:1 match; as a basic example, if they want you to have experience scheduling meetings, but you only have experience scheduling phone calls, that still counts. Sorry if you’re already taking this into account—it’s not clear from your post so I figured I’d mention anyway.)

      It may be really helpful to get a trusted outside perspective on your qualifications — ie are you really not qualified for this job, or are you not looking at your qualifications from the right lens?

      > At my age (38 years old), most people expect some sort of project management ability, which I don’t have.
      What kind of project management ability? There’s a big spectrum from ‘can complete own projects on time within guidelines and budgets etc’ to ‘has coordinated projects among a group of coworkers to ensure they are completed on time within guidelines’ to ‘formally manages projects as part/all of a job’ to ‘has project management certifications.’ Where do you fall on that spectrum? If you’re not even on the radar, yes, you will want to focus on other jobs.

      > Is it possible, even at my age, to stay in non-management roles?
      For sure! Especially if you want to stay in non-management roles. It really depends on what kinds of jobs you’re looking at applying for. Start with: what do you want from a job? What field(s)? What level of responsibility? What tasks? Go from there.

      I know it can be a slog. Best of luck!

      1. Friday afternoon fever

        Some of Alison’s posts on impostor syndrome (I know there are more in open threads):

        https://www.askamanager.org/2017/10/how-can-i-get-over-impostor-syndrome.html
        https://www.askamanager.org/2015/01/impostor-syndrome-do-you-feel-like-a-fraud.html

        On being underqualified for the job you want/apply for:

        https://www.askamanager.org/2007/12/how-to-get-hired-if-youre-under.html
        https://www.askamanager.org/2017/09/how-can-i-increase-my-chances-when-im-under-qualified-for-a-job.html
        https://www.askamanager.org/2013/01/how-to-apply-for-a-job-youre-not-fully-qualified-for.html

      1. Product person

        Pfff… I used to feel the same way when I was 38.

        Now at almost 50, I realized that nope, I had the exact experience most people doing what I did must have. I changed roles a lot (all under a similar umbrella but in different industries, with different responsibilities) and I used to be terrified that someone would suddenly figure out that I didn’t know as much about project management / product marketing / name other theme I should be familiar with as they were adjacent to my role as I should considering my age and work experience. Never happened, and with age I started to realize that everybody else, even the people with impressive resumes, were in the same boat.

        As long as you keep learning and don’t stagnate, you’re fine!

    2. Bea

      I think you’re too far into your own head here.

      You don’t need to worry about your age. Not everyone moves up the ladder, there’s only so much space at the top for starters!

      What you need is a solid skillset at any level where you land. You don’t need to fall into the trap of only leaving if you’re leaving for a promotion.

      Truly most of the time nobody knows you’re 38 unless you say it. I’m 35 and people assume with my history I’m more like 45. Then they realize that I’m clearly younger than they pictured it’s just a “oh okay cool then” moment.

      I’ve had experience hiring throughout my career. Age and assumptions of where you’d be at X age is never a topic even in closed door discussions unless you’re fresh out of school, then it’s just an experience thing or right up against retirement and it’s a retention thing but still if you’re the best fit, it’s all that counted.

    3. Ender Wiggin

      I’m a 38 year old qualified project manager, and I don’t work in a management role. There are loads of non-management roles.

    4. valentine

      There’s a comment with a list of free courses, including project management. I thought it was early in this thread.

  35. Jilly

    My company made a policy change in January that I noted but didn’t really think about until now. We are government contractors, so 95% of us work on contracts that may not be renewed, may be cut short, etc. If a contract ends and they aren’t able to move you to another one, you can have up to 120 hours of universal leave paid out. However, if you resign and give 2 weeks notice you can only have 40 hours of leave paid out (down from 120). So if someone starts taking a lot of vacation, it’s kind of obvious that they are trying to spend down their leave before resigning. I currently have 118.50 hours of leave (I’m a leave hoarder for no good reason). And by the end of the year I’ll be down to about 100 hours with taking almost a week off in total with some here and there for various holiday stuff. And a projection into next year has me building up a pretty healthy balance. I’m not planning to leave, but if something awesome came my way, how could they not notice? On the one hand, you don’t want to spend down too aggressively if you’re worried about a contract being cancelled and needing the leave payout to help tide you over (unemployment would be possible if the contract ends because I am a full-time employee, just billed to a contract but the max unemployment is a pretty small portion of my actual salary and I do have an Income Replacement fund, but still) but then if you do have a great offer come your way, you have to use up 2 weeks pretty quick to try to get yourself down to the 40 hour range. . .

    1. Midlife Tattoos

      Me, I would say that I won a chance of a lifetime to travel to [remote place nobody would know enough about to tell its a lie…like Yemen] and say that for once in my long career, I’m going to spend the PTO I’ve been hoarding for no good reason. :)

      1. ..Kat..

        If you are not actually going anywhere, perhaps a home project to work on is a good excuse. After all, someone might see you around town.

        But, I would not say that I am taking the trip of a lifetime to a war zone.

  36. Construction Safety

    Well, we’ve been sold. More accurately, our umbrella company has been sold. Shouldn’t be much in the way of difference for us rank and filers. Bennies might change, but our division is the most profitable of the group, so I hope they won’t fix what isn’t broken. IT might change (prolly good).

    I’m bummed b/c my dotted line boss at the old umbrella company is new & I thought he was the guy who would force some positive changes downward and now that looks like it won’t happen for the foreseeable future. I hope we don’t kill anyone before I have a chance to get out of here.

  37. LovesCoffee

    What are the silliest interview questions you are asked?
    Recently an interviewer asked me, “Are you interviewing with any other place? I bet if you get those offers you would head there instead?”
    Like, what even is a good answer for this that would please interviewers without seeming too fake? “No, ABC paper teapot is the only one I would ever want to work for!”

    1. RabbitRabbit

      I once had literally 4-5 variations of asking what I do in my spare time. Like right in a row, in a pre-printed form (with blanks for my responses for the note-taking interviewer) with about a dozen-ish questions on it. I think it was “what do you do for fun, what do you do to relax, what do you do to de-stress” and a couple more. I ran out of responses! I had no idea why they were that laser-focused on out-of-work activities.

    2. Holly

      That is such an odd question but I feel like the answer is “Yes, I am applying elsewhere, but ABC Paper Teapot is really my top choice.”

    3. alsolovescoffee

      One time the interviewer asked me “What do your parents do for a living?”
      That preceded a bunch of other non-job related, sort of personal questions for a developer position. I got an offer but I declined solely on how weird the whole interview was.

    4. Shark Whisperer

      “If you were a kitchen utensil, what utensil would you be?” I started to say how I love to cook and love cool kitchen gadgets while I was thinking of an answer and the interviewer cut me off and said “I don’t want to know your favorite kitchen utensil, I want to know which one matches your personality.”

      I said immersion blender. I don’t think that was the right answer.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        Did they not ask WHY? Because the answer isn’t the thing–it’s the interpretation.
        Like…a spatula because I like to look at both sides of the teapot I’m painting before deciding it’s done.

        Or a rubber scraper …so I can see sure all the elements are combined in a new project and later help smooth out the fancy icing.

        So….why an immersion blender?

    5. ACDC

      “Can you let me know when you’re planning to get pregnant? It would be really helpful for me to plan that sort of thing in advance.”

      Stupidest job I ever took…

      1. LovesCoffee

        Dear boss, unfortunately my previous projected timeline to “getting pregnant” would need to face delays, as the key milestones of “find a partner” and “propose” have not yet been achieved…

    6. fposte

      “Do you think you’re smarter than other people?” It was for, of all things, work in a dental office.

      1. The New Wanderer

        I have to assume the question was because the previous person acted as if they were smarter than everyone else and it was off putting enough to screen for. Still, what are they hoping to hear?

    7. Crylo Ren

      I was asked what clubs/teams I was involved with and what I did for fun…when I was in high school. This was during an interview for my second post-college job; I had been done with high school for close to 7 years at that point.

      In another interview a few years later, I was asked how serious I was about yoga, because my prospective boss was a Stanford-educated master yoga instructor (note: neither the role nor the company had anything to do with yoga). I politely turned down further interviews at that company and got several increasingly nasty emails from the hiring manager, which I like to pull out of my inbox and laugh at when I’m having a bad day.

    8. redbug34

      Interviewing for an hourly job to sit at a desk and rent teapots out, I was asked “What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done?”

      What?

    9. ambpersand

      I went to an interview earlier this year that opened with the question “If you could be any type of tree, what would you be?”

      1. Luisa

        Oh my gosh, I’ve been asked this one! I almost seriously replied “Pine, because we both smell good.” All the interview questions were like that and I bombed them, but nailed the skills test and got a second interview before being ghosted. Five years later, I can confidently say that I would excuse myself from an interview like this if it happened again.

    10. Meredith Brooks

      These were from I was just entering the job market as a fresh-faced, dewy eyed 22 year old.

      For an advertising/sales assistant: Give me the first number that pops into your head…what is 9% of 40? (I said 4, because I knew 10% of 40 was 4)

      For a Marketing position at a textbook publisher: If you received $1 million and the world was ending in 3 days, what would you do? (Literally the worst answer ever, because I was dumbstruck… I said I would travel for 2 days and then throw a party with all my loved ones — and honestly, that’s not what I would do)

      I didn’t get either job.

    11. School Psych

      Describe the difference between a vegetable and a fruit. I think they were looking for how you explained concepts, since it was an education role, but it was just so random. There was no lead up to the question either, it was just kind of plunked in there with other questions that were relevant to the job.

  38. EnfysNest

    My office is right next to my boss’ office (my office is closer to his than any of my other teammates), and he usually leaves his door open, so I hear a lot of random conversations. None of it is sensitive and I usually just block it out or even partly close my door and turn on music if I don’t think I should be hearing it, but every now and then, I hear him discussing something that I have relevant information about (for instance, he’s commenting on a strange-sounding policy, but I was at the meeting where the policy was originally developed, so I know more about it) and I’m always torn about whether or not to go over and tell him. He wouldn’t always *know* that I have the relevant information, so he wouldn’t necessarily come to ask me about it. But I don’t want to seem like I’m eavesdropping, either. I’d say maybe once or twice a month I decide it will make enough of a difference that it’s worth going in, but I worry if even that might be too much? Should I only go to him about something I overheard if it’s truly an emergency and assume he’ll find out the information that I know some other way the rest of the time? How do you balance knowing when to contribute when you have relevant information and when to maintain the illusion that you can’t hear anything outside of your office door?

    1. Combinatorialist

      I think this is a “ask your boss how he wants you to handle it”. Just say something like “Several times recently I have heard you discussing a policy or something that I had additional context on like [give a example]. I don’t mean to eavesdrop but I also can’t help hearing sometimes. How would you like me to handle things when I hear something I might have more information on?” This could also be a signal that he should take more precautions if it is something he doesn’t want you to hear

      1. Bea

        I second this approach.

        I always hear things and my bosses are happy with me speaking up if it’s relevant to my knowledge.

        But that’s my bosses and we’re in sync. Some will be annoyed or unwelcoming of the advice. And then he knows to shut the door sometimes.

    2. Lucille2

      I’ve always worked in an open concept office, and in that environment it has always been acceptable to politely bring yourself into a work discussion where your expertise would add value. It’s no secret that we all hear each other’s conversations, but most people try to pretend they’re not listening. Of course, this is in an office where you hear a discussion from the next desk over which happens to be 4 feet away.

      I would mention it to your boss. If he’s fine with you overhearing conversations, he might welcome the interruption. If not, he might just close his door from now on.

  39. breathing into paper bag

    Today is one week after I, a manager brand-new to both the organization and to managing, gave a problem employee a “counseling memo.” Rather than follow my pretty reasonable directions of “do your job and be nice to people,” this employee has decided I am The Enemy for expecting my direct reports to do their jobs and be nice to people. This person is, frankly, unstable, so I feel AWESOME about being in this position after literal years of everyone knowing there were severe problems and nobody doing anything.

    1. RabbitRabbit

      Yikes. I hope you can get HR in and do a “no really, I freaking told you to be nice to people and this is not that” talk ASAP, with someone to back you up.

      1. breathing into paper bag

        Thank you. Fortunately HR has my back, and so do my boss and senior leadership. I really don’t know what I would do otherwise.

    2. Kathenus

      And kudos to you for taking action. I’ve worked places that had employees like this, that literally for decades had been horrible. Then either a new manager to the organization, or to that role, comes in and actually – you know – manages. Great way to takes the right steps – and I’m sure that the good employees will be thrilled to see someone held accountable as well.

    3. Aurélia

      Does your manager have your back? I would like to think if you document everything neutrally and be calm, cool, and professional you should be able to get rid of them with minimal fuss.
      Thank you for being in the position and actually doing something! I hope that many of your co-workers appreciate it, I sure would.

    4. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

      Good for you. Now the hard part… be relentless on calling out specific behaviors that go against the ‘Do your job and be nice to people’. You have to be consistent and clear.

      And yes, while you are the enemy to the one person who can’t do their job and be nice, you are the hero to the rest of the people who have to work with that person. Who are you more concerned about? Also one thing I’ve always kept in the back of my mind when dealing with performance issues. The best case scenario is the employee figures it out and gets better. The worst case scenario is that the employee self selects into another job that they may be more successful in ( or they self select into another job that they are just as bad in… but it’s not your team) and you get the opportunity to hire a new great employee that wants to work on your team. That

      You got this!

  40. Doug Judy

    I just need to vent. I was in the final rounds of interviews for a job that been great. Good pay, great company, and had the flexibility I needed as a working mom to have better work/life integration. The person they offered it to was someone that they had been talking to for a while, and I came in on the tail end. They said they were hiring again early next year and were still very interested in me and would reach out then if I was ok with that. I said I was. However I cannot stop looking for a new job, I need to get out of this one asap, it crushes my spirit every day I am here and I have been looking for a new job for a long time. I really wanted to be excited about my next job and not feel like I was settling for something because what I really wanted to do didn’t work out. Now I fear that is what is going to happen. I live in a small city where with a lot of companies that are very traditional in terms of working hours. Ones that are flexible for working moms are very few and far between. I’m just bummed. I feel like I have been trying to find my career home for a very long time now and it seems no closer than it was three years ago.

    1. 99 lead balloons

      Ouch…I know you were really excited about these guys. No advice, just sympathy and good vibes sent your way.

      1. Doug Judy

        Thanks. It could still work out but I also can’t count on it. I had a good second interview for a place that would be OK and that if come March if this other one comes back around that I wouldn’t feel too badly about leaving is it is a very large international conglomerate. Hopefully that works out and at least gets me out of where I am now.

    2. Auntie Social

      It will be next year in eleven weeks! Plus, many companies don’t want to hire at the end of the year anyway. So think of holidays and sing carols to yourself, and hang on. Make a mental list of all the good things you want at your new job.

  41. Jessen

    Still trying to get through government background check and security clearance stuff for new job. They said they can’t even begin the process unless they have a work verification person (first name, last name, and phone number) for EVERY job for the past 7 years. The problem I have is about 3 years ago I worked for about a month at this little chicken joint. It went out of business a few months later. I don’t have any contact info other than that for the business that doesn’t exist anymore. It was an independent store so there’s no corporate option to get information from.

    I’m stuck. I’m worried that I’m going to lose out on this job because apparently no one planned for employers going out of business. I have offered alternate documentation but they said the only option that it’s possible to process is a full name and contact number for someone who works or has worked at the business and can verify that I work there. My HR contact says that can’t be right but it’s just sitting in limbo right now and they won’t even start the process until I provide someone for that job.

    1. Tara S.

      Can you find anyone who worked there on Facebook? If there’s no corporate or official way to find a contact, I think a fellow employee will work here.

      1. Jessen

        I honestly don’t even remember their names. I worked there for like 10 hours a week for a month. I don’t think I ever knew the last names of anyone who worked there in the first place – it really wasn’t relevant to anything anyway.

    2. Four lights

      Even as an independent business, they still have to register as something, so you could check the County Clerk to see if there’s info. You could find out who owns the property and rented it to them, they might have info. If you have a name but need to hunt the person down, process servers usually offer that service. If your town has a Facebook, or Nextdoor page, you could post and ask if anybody worked there any has information.

    3. Seifer

      It’s fine. Just do what the last part says, and put down someone who can verify that you worked there. Not a parent or a family member, but a friend, classmate, or yes, former coworker or boss. I had to do that with a few jobs and addresses because I did not always get along with former coworkers or bosses, so I listed people that I did not work with but knew I had the job. That should be enough to push it through.

      I don’t know how much this will help you, but your HR contact has the right idea. But the other people are probably pushing just because it’s a lengthy process to submit, and they want to give the forms the best chance possible to be accepted right away. I got my clearance almost immediately, but a guy that started a few years before I did still does not have his. Not sure what he did wrong, but I did what I outlined above, and I had a really good security investigator. The investigator part is up to chance, but be honest and be calm when they interview you. Good luck!

      1. Jessen

        I ended up talking to my HR contact, who said to put down someone who can verify that the place is out of business and there are no employee records (there’s a newer franchise in town, so I put their manager down who can verify “there are no records from the old franchise”). My impression is I’m dealing with a case of “the form says we need X, so we can’t send it on unless it has X on it.” I had a problem with another retail job too where they do verifications through a central hotline, but the form had to have a specific first and last name no matter what.

        A lot of these jobs I just don’t think I’m very memorable. We’re talking high-turnover, part-time retail or food service jobs. Yet another 20-something who didn’t stay long isn’t going to be in anyone’s memory very long. I’ve offered to provide my W-2 for the job and my roommate from the time, but they were saying they couldn’t start the process without a name and it had to be a work person.

        1. Seifer

          Oooh, yeah, that’s no good. I get why they’re doing it, tbh, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck when you are working a job where you’re literally just trying to get the job done and not get involved in drama. Which of course makes you less memorable. Which of course you’re not thinking about in this context since what 20-year-old working long hours at a restaurant to pay bills is thinking that one day she’s going to have a job where she needs to put her entire life on a 200-page form to get a security clearance because what the hell even is a security clearance.

          Ugh, I’m sorry I don’t have better advice for you. I can just commiserate on how awful it is and I’m sorry they’re being sticklers about it. My situation was different in that I was hired before I applied for the clearance so I was able to ask the security people their opinions on things like this.

          1. Jessen

            Yah, the only person I really remember is the guy I got fired after a very interesting encounter involving him asking me if I liked a rude term for transgender women (complete with hand gestures) after I told him I wouldn’t go out with him because I was gay.

            I think I’ll ultimately be fine, but I’m dealing with a lot of “we have to have this box filled out right before we can send it on” stuff. Helpfully I got this job in part because I have a family member working there, so I’ve at least had a lot more direction on who I need to call and what to bother them about.

            1. MsChanandlerBong

              You could go to the Secretary of State’s website for your state and type in the business name to see if you can see a current or expired business license. Then you could use the info to track down the former owner. They could at least verify you worked there.

              1. Jessen

                I may try that! I should clarify, it’s not my state anymore – it’s actually several states away, which is making this even more complicated.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood

      Another thought. Call the corporate office for the chain and ask for the franchisee’s name. Write him or her directly and let them know someone may be calling to verify employment and ask if they’d like to see your W2 first so they could verify it’s from their business.
      Another possibility is the area’s Chamber of Commerce to find a managermention nsme. And if they advertised in the local school yearbook or paper or sponsored a sports team, the advertising agent might have a contact name you can try to track down.
      Yes it’s aggravating, but look at it this way–imagine the follow-through & persistence you’ll demonstrate for the next interview!

      Good luck!

      1. Jessen

        I’ve been trying this, but there doesn’t even seem to be a findable corporate office number. I emailed them and am not getting anything back other than “that location doesn’t exist.” I searched the chamber of commerce website too and couldn’t find anything at all.

        I’m just really frustrated. I honestly won’t have access to anything more sensitive than a lot of non-government jobs; the most sensitive thing might be some health information from studies. This is a basic public trust clearance that they seem to just want everyone to get.

  42. Rogue

    Y’all, I have an in-person interview this afternoon at a company I really want to work for. Send me all the good vibes…please?

  43. Sandy

    So I have a coworker that I am at full-blown BEC mode with. I would say it is largely mutual.

    Unfortunately, we are stuck working together for the foreseeable future.

    While I doubt she is suddenly going to morph into a well-adjusted, competent professional any time soon, I want to make sure that I am doing everything I can to come out of throw with my sanity andnprofessional reputation relatively intact.

    So far I have been trying to:

    -not take the bait with every petty email;
    -resist the urge to snark right back whether by email or in person;
    -loop in my supervisor when necessary (but not on every email);
    -minimize time spent directly one on one if possible;
    -polite, if vapid, conversation if it’s not; and
    -blow off steam about it outside the office with non-colleagues.

    Is there anything else you can suggest for both protecting myself and protecting my sanity?

    1. DaniCalifornia

      I think you’re doing great with what you’ve listed. Don’t know if mantras help, but you can definitely say to yourself out loud before work and think it during the day ‘This person is X and for now I can’t change that. I can only control my response to her.’

      I have to to that at work daily.

    2. Canadian Natasha

      Yikes, that sounds frustrating. Aside from not snarking back immediately, would it help with the tone of your responses to first imagine, “If this was [reasonable competent coworker*] how would I say/write this?”.

      *Or reasonable competent coworker who is having an off/bad day

      (Obviously with unreasonable people it’s better to be a bit more circumspect in how you approach topics, especially if they are the type who likes to collect your “mistakes” or hold grudges for perceived slights.)

    3. NicoleK

      My suggestions: EAP if it’s available and try to assume the coworker is coming from a place of good intentions (this may be very difficult given your history with coworker)

    4. R

      I have been in a similar situation and you have to be aware that she might decide to make a complaint about you. I’m not saying she’d do it for no reason, but you are at risk of her doing it sometime in the future.
      Unfortunately, the person who complains first often has the upper hand. What you should do (imo) is make sure your manager is very aware that you are having this problem with her, and that you are acting in good faith to try to avoid problems with her. That way, if she does make a complaint, it will be heard in context.

      1. all the candycorn

        Yes, this!

        I worked with someone who was an immature bully, she had a little “in” clique and generally behaved like a seventh grader. She’d complain about people who she was bullying…and then the victim would be the one in trouble.

        Eventually she stopped doing 85% of her job and left us spending four months trying to figure out if she still worked there, and we should ask her to do needed work, or if she had quit, and should we replace her. But by then, she’d damaged a lot of people’s reputations and it was tough getting approval on replacements- because she’d filed complaints against a sizeable number of the competent staff.

    5. MicrobioChic

      What I did to keep things relatively smooth with a former coworker who had a history of getting into screaming fights with people (and no nothing was ever done, can you tell the place was a wee bit toxic?) was to find one or two safe topics of conversation.

      I have pets, she had pets! I asked her about her pets.

      My two rules for coming off as profession while not dealing with the other person at all are to have a safe inane topic and always be the one asking them about their life. Then they can talk, and I can smile and nod.

      Also, I would never snark back. I would ignore, redirect, and pretend you don’t get any passive aggressive comments. It might be frustrating but once she doesn’t have the other side of the argument anymore, she may lay off.

    6. Bagworm

      When I was in that situation, I would make myself come up with something positive about my co-worker whenever I was really losing it. Not always easy and definitely cheesy but helped me some.

    7. valentine

      Your strategy’s great. The last line’s the most important, but it’s best if you can leave work at work, in case what you vent could get back to her and to get you out of that space/preserve your sanctuary. Can you learn to find it amusing instead of aggravating?

  44. Friday afternoon fever

    Does anyone have experience (firsthand or from a friend—no speculation or generalizations please) with working for a company that has received prominent media coverage for its poor/discriminatory/unreasonable treatment of employees, especially women and POC? In your experience, after this comes out, what changed about the company? Did its treatment of employees improve at all? How long did that take?

    Context: a friend was advised to apply to a company like the above by someone who thinks now (post-exposé) the company is probably fine & working to correct all their errors. We are both skeptical that there has been a major culture change especially in just a few months. I’m not looking for advice on whether they should apply, just some anecdata about your experiences in similar situations

    1. Not All

      Not a ‘company’ per se, but a federal agency.

      My experience is that the individual managers who were already good are even more aware of it and are great. The individual managers who were really heinous still are, but are sneakier about it. The over-all culture hasn’t changed one bit except the top leadership plays a ton of lip service (while personally doing all the things they are supposedly cracking down on) and the old, white, ex-military (sorry, but yes, the worst offenders are almost universally vets in every office I’ve been in) guys bitch incessantly about having to be PC while still staring down women’s shirts, making inappropriate ‘jokes’, and looking at websites that SHOULD get them kicked of the government network.

      ugh.

    2. ACDC

      I found out about 2 weeks into my old job that the previous ED was currently in jail for sexual assualt/battery/rape of multiple employees. Our organization was all women, with the only man being the ED (after former ED went to jail, new ED was also a man). Not saying the new ED was like that at all, but it felt weird not knowing about something that huge before coming on to the team. It felt a little uncomfortable to be honest.

      1. ACDC

        To put more context to this, it was all over the news. However, I moved to the area for this job, so I didn’t see any of the news coverage about it until after starting/moving there.

    3. WellRed

      We had a local company make headlines for it’s toxic workplace in general and sexual harrassment of young women. I didn’t work there, but no less than 3 former (excellent) coworkers of mine confirmed that the place was actually worse than was reported. They removed the owner/CEO (he was the biggest problem), but left his girlfriend in charge, saying all the right things abut culture changes. However, the sense is, the damage is done and even if they change the culture (insert skepticism), the community at large no longer wants to deal with them (buy advertising from them. It’s a media company).

    4. Lora

      Yup. I worked many years for a company that many people regard as Pure Evil. There was even a movie about its misdeeds. It was mostly marketing who was actual Satan with the hoofs and everything, but those of us in R&D still had to sit through the court-ordered ethics training.

      No, they did not change a blessed thing. There was literally no government fine big enough or any executive with the fear of White Collar Country Club Prison to make anything change. Everyone had to sit through a new ethics training thing about once a year, which was maybe two hours out of our afternoons. The only time changes were ever made was if a site got a Consent Decree (i.e. the regulators shut the place down and the government seizes as much of the profits as they can find). Then they’d fire everyone at the site and sell off all the equipment and real estate.

      Once, the competition down the street was caught being especially nasty to women, had a class action suit which they lost miserably, and had to pay every single woman who worked at a 100,000+ employee company, about 30% raises and many many millions in back pay. The offending management is still in charge and nothing really changed from a cultural perspective.

    5. BluntBunny

      I guess it depends if the person advising them works for the company. I would look how many years it’s been and if senior leadership has changed and recent Glassdoor reviews. Also would weigh whether having this job on your resume will taint how other people perceive your friend.

    6. Going anon for this

      I met someone at a party who worked for a company that recently made international news a year or two ago for its poor treatment of workers (not identity-based, just terrible working hours and toxic culture). He said it’s done a total 180 and they are really pushing work-life balance and bosses are telling people to leave on time. I’m not sure if these changes will stick though, and recent news articles suggest other things are going down.

      Also, not first-hand but Riot Games has recently been written about for their sexist culture; I read a few articles I believe by Kotaku, one outlining the issues, one responding to the CEO’s response and actions, and one checking in a few months later. You can google these for yourself but they mostly line up with your skeptical opinion, largely because changing sexist/racist work culture (as opposed to just poor behavior or overwork) means either fixing people’s beliefs or replacing staff, and no one’s figured out how to make people unracist with a PowerPoint.

  45. Tara S.

    What would you do?: My boss wants to send me to this fiscal leadership development program run by a big national org. It’s a training he went through, he would pay for it out of the department’s development budget, and it’s not cheap. The catch? It’s a four year program (as in a week-long course once a year, but it builds on each year and you go through with a cohort). And my boss wants my assurance that I will complete all four years before he sends me. He’s pretty reasonable about my likelihood of staying at this current job for four years, but is asking me to finish the program even if I leave, as in, pay for it myself or make it part of my negotiations if I find another job.

    I’m not 100% sure the training is the way I want to go in my career. But I’m sure it would be useful in it’s way. It’s the four year commitment part that’s making me feel weird. I wouldn’t have to pay it back if I went and didn’t finish, but I want to give my boss a true answer, and I don’t know if I can because I don’t really know that I’m committed to doing all four years. How would you guys navigate this??

    1. GrapefruitHero

      He’s asking you to do the impossible and predict the future. And, frankly, once you are no longer an employee he has no control over how you spend your money or what training your next employer decides is worthwhile. I’d say something like, “While I do plan on staying with the company for the foreseeable future, I can’t predict what will happen in the next four years, and therefore I cannot commit to finishing the program if I leave.”

    2. Bea

      I would tell him “right now I’m prepared to commit for This Company. However in the event I leave prior to completion, I’m not comfortable promising I’ll complete the certification. There are too many variables to give you that much commitment up front.”

    3. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

      I’m going to have a hard time verbalizing/writing this so that it makes sense.

      See this request for commitment in the spirit of mentor-ship. Obviously your boss is willing to pay while you are employed there. There is no way to enforce the commitment if you leave the job. Neither of you know what next week will look like never mind 4 years from now. He knows that you can give a good faith commitment now and then life might happen and change things.

      I’d say if you can’t make a good faith commitment now, then talk to him and find out if there may be a different option. If you can make a good faith then go with it and give yourself permission to drop out of the program if it doesn’t make sense in the future.

      Good managers will nudge their employees knowing full well that employees aren’t obligated to anything. Generally when a manager does this they have a pretty good idea of what the employee is capable of and where they would be successful.

      If it helps… here’s a quick example. I had an employee that wanted to go in one direction (mainly he wanted to follow my career path). There was a very low likelihood of success on this particular path due to limited opportunities, growth options, and the leadership in our office (besides me) weren’t very keen on him for some reason that I can’t explain.

      The employee was pretty convinced in what he wanted to do. I nudged him to a different path, which included a relocation. Obviously I understood the magnitude. I would not have blamed, been disappointed, or felt slighted in any way if he said, No thanks. He did move and start in the new group and has progressed very well professionally. Ironically he found himself managing the former manager who wouldn’t give him a chance in his original position.

    4. valentine

      Say no to the weird promise. Only go if you do want this for your career or think you might regret not going. If you can, postpone. Is it only once a year? How are you meant to retain what you learn?

  46. TheTallestOneEver

    Any success stories from people who’ve taken a pay cut to change career paths?

    I’m mid career and have spent years working my way up the ladder in my field. I’m grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve had, but I’m starting to realize that I want to be on a different ladder. I’ve met with recruiters and seen some internal postings with my current employer and it looks like I’d have to take a 10% pay cut to course correct, even with transferable skills. From a financial perspective, I’m okay with the cut but still a little anxious. Any happy stories would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Probably Nerdy

      I took a large pay cut to go to graduate school. 10% sounds very doable. You can make that up with just a couple years of COLA increases, if you get those.

      Tighten the belt a bit – cut back on takeout food, new clothes, subscription services, salon treatments, hobbies, etc. It works out.

      1. The New Wanderer

        I didn’t even think about grad school but I did that twice- went from good salary to grad student life, back to work for a few years, then grad school again. The second time was to course correct back to the type of work I really wanted to do. I’m lucky in that it pays well enough to compensate for those lean grad student years. I did also seriously consider a major job change that would have paid far less in exchange for new interesting work, but as that didn’t pan out, I don’t have that experience.

    2. Elaine

      I took a 30% pay cut when I was nearly 40. Twenty years later, I have never really recovered from the salary hit and especially the vacation hours. But I make as much as I need or want, even though many people would think I lead a rather austere life, and I am much happier than I would have been. I’ve never regretted it.

    3. Meg

      I haven’t gone through it, but I would recommend trying out living on 10% less now. So take 10% of each paycheck and put it into a separate account, and see how that feels. You might find that it’s totally fine, or you may have cut back only a little, or it may feel terrible. But you’ll get a sense of what it will feel like, and as a bonus have some savings at the end.

    4. Ender Wiggin

      Not a massive career change but I took a pay cut of about 10% to move from engineering in the energy industry to engineering in the pharmaceutical industry. 2 years later and I’m back earning more than I was in my old industry and with a lot less stress and travel.

    5. Just changed careers

      Just don’t sell yourself short! I just changed careers (moving from the business to the technical side), and was willing to take a significant cut, but turns out was not necessary. My previous salary, with 20 years of experience in my field, was 140K;, I just received an offer for $135K in a role I haver held*. For the past year I’ve been studying the terminology / concepts related to what I wanted to do now, and it paid off. My previous experience was considered by the new employer (a starting salary would be around $95K – 100K), so the drop was much less than I expected.

      * I didn’t discuss salary prior to receiving the offer, but I knew the range for this new role and company size and what I was offered is above the mean value.

      1. TheTallestOneEver

        I’m trying to do something similar – moving from a technical program management role to one that’s not IT focused. You’re right, I may not have to worry about a cut if I look externally. For the internal position I’m applying for, because we’re government, all of the salary ranges are published and our regulations state that the max they can offer me is the highest salary in the range. That’s the 10% cut.

    6. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser

      So I was laid off from a “good job” with stock options at really, really big company (run by an ego maniac). I took a pay cut to go to a wonderful group, within a large healthcare non-profit. It took me two years to make up the base pay cut. HOWEVER, I was able to leave work on time to go to the gym. They actually encouraged us to make our wellness appointments and we got paid while we went to the doctor. We get paid for volunteer work (and it’s part of our goals, as is a personal wellness goal.). I have lost weight, gained confidence, and sleep at night. I have friends – at work and outside work.

      The success story part is, I’m super happy. I found my niche. I love contributing to the improvement of people’s health, I’m seen as a great resource here, and the culture is night and day different in terms of encouragement, growth, and valuing people. And now (15 years later) my base is twice what it was when I left, because I’ve flourished.

      Pay (or even titles/job descriptions) are not a good measure of the value a company has for you. Just saying.

    7. Bluesboy

      Not too different, I changed 3 years ago from middle management to effectively junior level in a different sector. Took a 20% pay cut to do so.

      Went well! As it turns out, managerial and organisational ability was very much absent in my new office, and that was a transferable skill that I had. So I was able to make a great impression from the start. 14 months later I had made up the 20% not including my bonus (which was quite generous).

      Now, three years later my base salary is 160% of my old salary and lowest my bonus has been was double my old bonus. More importantly, I like what I do and get on with my colleagues. I will probably move on in a couple of years when I have more industry specific experience (my office doesn’t have a lot of growth potential) but am very happy to have made the move!

      Good luck to you!

    8. mreasy

      I did it! After a year I have been raised to close to my previous salary already. For me, it was undoubtedly the right choice.

  47. From the High Tower on the Hill

    Hello everyone, some of you may remember the post about how to react when people asked me about my boss who died by suicide from a while back. Anyways, today is the anniversary of his death and it is usually a pretty dark day for me. I am trying to keep my mind off of things and could use some help. If anyone could share a funny, embarrassing, whatever story, that would be really fantastic.

    1. Murphy

      The other day at work, I used the restroom and caught my reflection in the mirror. I have short hair and I wear dangly earrings most days. It was at this point, where I’d just had a lengthy chat with a colleague, I notice I was wearing earrings that didn’t match. At all. Not the same color, or the same length. Not the most embarrassing thing in the world, but I definitely felt foolish! And then I felt weirdly naked after that because I’m so used to wearing earrings.

      I’m sorry today is a tough day for you. I hope you get to do something fun and distracting!

      1. From the High Tower on the Hill

        Thanks! It is always hard because I still work in the same building so it usually brings back some less than pleasant memories, waiting for the anniversary to finally fall on a weekend. That is pretty funny! Definitely did something similar last week. Wore one navy blue shoe and one black shoe (they are the exact same pair minus the color).

        1. Seeking Second Childhood

          I get dressed in the dark to avoid waking up my husband. I looked down as I got to work to see one dark gray and one purple. My daughter had borrowed my Merrell’s again, and put my good new ones right in with the yard work pair.

          Thankfully I keep a pair of closed-toe shoes at the desk for emergency runs out to the manufacturing floor!

      2. WellRed

        Related, not me, my aunt was walking around in a big department store and wondered why everyone was looking at her funny. When she got to her car, she realized her headband had slipped down onto her forehead like she was wearing some sort of princess ring around her head.

        1. Murphy

          Oh no! Haha. Actually, another day recently I was wearing a shirt with a tie (not a shirt and tie, but a shirt with a bow on it that you tie) and I was at the office before I noticed that one of the ties had gone through the armpit hole and come out the middle before I tied it. People at daycare must have thought I was nuts.

          Oddly this morning, I got dressed in the dark and everything seems to be in order.

      3. Artemesia

        With earrings you could pretend it was a fashion statement — it was harder for me to pretend that the mismatched shoes or the navy jacket with the black pants (hey dressing in a darkish room — they looked the same in that light) were deliberate.

    2. Reba

      A twitter user started a huge thread of extremely dumb funny stuff that has happened to people. Not all of them are that funny, but some are gold. The OP has retweeted many of the best ones so start with her timeline https://twitter.com/GraceSpelman

      sending you good thoughts, High Tower.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

        There was another Twitter thread a while ago about funny/awkward/embarrassing moments. The one that stuck with me is the person who bought Preparation H to use for undereye puffiness, and when the person at CVS asked if she needed a bag she said “no thanks, I’m going to use it in the car.” Still cracks me up, literal years later.

        http://thebloggess.com/2015/11/02/and-then-that-one-time-on-twitter-we-all-just-became-human-and-i-laughed-until-i-gave-myself-a-headache/

    3. Doug Judy

      I few weeks ago I wore two completely different shoes to work. One was a navy with a wood block heel, the other was a black stiletto. I was running late and trying to get my four year old to put his coat on as we were rushing out the door that I wasn’t paying attention. I had hurt my back a few days prior so my gait had been a bit off so I didn’t notice I was walking funny. I dropped him off at daycare, and didn’t notice. It wasn’t until I got in the elevator and looked down is when I realized it. I spent a lot of time in my office that day.

    4. Amber Rose

      Silly story: I held a fire drill for our company last week, and in my report on how it went I was obliged to comment that next time we do a fire drill, should it happen to be similar weather, I would appreciate people not trying to pick a snowball fight with me. I took four snowballs while trying to do a headcount. =P

      Embarrassing story: I once spent a solid half a day feeling very strange, like something was off. Eventually someone pointed out that my shirt was inside out. I went into the bathroom to fix it, and realized that I’d somehow also managed to put my bra on backwards without realizing. Which was why I’d felt so odd all day. Awkward!

      1. PhyllisB

        Amber Rose, you just gave me my laugh for the day. I have put my shirt on backwards/inside out before, but can’t say I have ever put my bra on backwards before. Thanks for the laugh.

        1. PhyllisB

          Okay, now I’ll share two of mine. We were having a skating Birthday party for one of our children and I was trying on two different shoes trying to decide which looked best with my outfit. My husband started yelling at me that it was time to go, so I rushed out the door, got to the skating rink and looked down realizing that I have on a blue loafer and a white wedge sandal. Luckily, I was still young enough to skate in those days so I quickly rented a pair and stayed on skates the whole day.
          I shared this other one last week, but in case anyone missed it; last Sunday I got to church and was greeting everyone as I entered. Got through the door and was headed for my Sunday School classroom, when I heard “MA’M!! MA’M!!!” I turned around, and a lady I didn’t know came running up to me and whispered, “Your skirt is tucked in your underwear!!” while she whirled me around and made the adjustment. She was very apologetic about telling me, but I thanked her profusely. I would have been mortified if no one had told me. Another reason to not not wear dresses to church!!

          1. Artemesia

            This happened to me once at the opera — tucked my dress skirt into my panty hose somehow and some kind person caught me before I left the ladies room and saved me the embarrassment. It seems odd that you could do that and not notice but I didn’t.

      2. WellRed

        I put underwear on sideways one time and went all day (leg opening around my waist, I was much skinnier then). However, a backward bra takes the cake.

    5. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

      I posted this in the open thread when it happened because it was mortifying, but it’s pretty funny in retrospect, so here goes. I was conducting a video interview and was having technical issues, so I had a colleague from IT come in and help me set up. When Skype was working and my colleague left the room, I tried to tell the candidate “I had to call in the big guns” and “I had to ask for help” at the same time and it came out “I had to call in the help.”

      In a similar but kinder vein, my coworker at the time was checking people in to an event and alternating between telling attendees “you’re all set” and “have a wonderful evening” and ended up enthusiastically telling an attendee “you’re wonderful!”

      1. Nita

        Ahhh slip-ups! I was talking to my boss about some stuff she’s been trying to clear out of the office. And somehow I said “I’ll ask my Daddy if he needs it!” I do not call him Daddy, am not five years old or even fresh out of college, and have no idea how that came out. If there’s one thing I could take back and make not-happen, this would be it!

    6. Auntie Social

      Okay, so my mom died in an accident, and friends would come by as my daughter and I were cleaning out her house, and frankly the condolence calls took more and more out of us. And one day we see a car full of her old sorority sisters, and we think—oh, Lord! So they’re telling us stories about my mom who told us kids she never took a drink in college, and the stories are VASTLY different. Like when my mom was trying to sneak by into the Pi Phi house, and instead landed in the shrubs under the windows. And her roommate chimes in, “and that’s how she got that terrible rash on her butt, and how she found out she was allergic to evergreens!” So it was the best, best condolence call ever, they told one funny story after another, and it was just what we needed.
      And my FIL passed away recently, and my MIL who had more class than anyone I’ve ever seen, had arranged for the grandkids to pick up older people who didn’t drive any more to make sure the old folks made the funeral. And the ones who were still unable to make it, she took programs and went and visited every single one of them and brought a floral arrangement. Every. Single. One. I’m in awe.

    7. Drop Bear

      I worked for an organisation with the word ‘Public’ in its title. As you would expect we were obsessive proofreaders! Our marketing dept once developed a series of online ‘pages’ about our tendering processes- went through their proofreading, all good – came to my section and we checked them, all good – we sent them to the CEO who changed every Public to Pubic (long liquid lunch no doubt) then sent them to IT to put on the website – IT trainee loaded them. I then spent the rest of the day taking phone calls from prospective vendors who were, it would seem, all rolling on the floor laughing hysterically during their calls. One was from a company whose name rhymed with merkin – that was the one that broke me!

    8. No Tribble At All

      Sorry for your loss, Tower.

      Funny story for you: I’ve just started in a new group at my company (been here 3 years). We have an open office, and even the people with offices that can close doors have glass walls. I showed new supervisor my first project, which he said was good, so I was feeling all cool and competent. But then on the way out of his office I walked smack into the glass wall instead of the open door, like a bird flying into a window. Siiiiigh.

    9. epi

      I’m sorry you’re having a rough day. I have an important, sad, anniversary in October that made the start of fall extra difficult every year for several years. It just makes it that much more difficult when it actually is getting colder and darker outside, too. Be kind to yourself!

      The link in my name is to a classic McSweeney’s essay about Decorative Gourd Season. If you don’t mind profanity, it is hilarious– I reread it every year. :)

      1. Amber Rose

        On that note, I very much enjoy the Hater’s Guide to the Williams Sonoma Catalog. It’s just a bunch of snark at the absolutely ridiculous and overpriced things that they put in their holiday catalogs each year. Like a decorative Christmas chicken coop for $800.

      2. Ali G

        To this day, the first time I see decorative gourds in stores each year I snap a pic and send it my sis with the caption “It’s Decorative Gourd Season M-F’ers!!”
        We still find it hilarious.

      3. From the High Tower on the Hill

        Sorry to hear about your difficult October as well, it has definitely gotten very gloomy outside as well here, just constant cold and rain unfortunately. If you are having a difficult time, I like to read the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley, it usually inspires me to keep going and fighting. Don’t know if you will find that helpful at all, but it always helps me.

    10. SarahKay

      My first day at work in my current company, I was being shown round by my new manager. Suddenly I hit what felt like a dip in the floor. Nope, just the heel fallen off my boot and sitting on the floor one stride back.
      A minor embarrassment as these things go, but on my first day….I would cheerfully have sunk through said floor if it was possible.
      I hope today is bearable for you.

      1. From the High Tower on the Hill

        Thanks, it is luckily going better than the first anniversary, that was a rough one (didn’t help that on the anniversary the pen that he gave me broke and I went into a jewelry store crying for it to get fixed). Thank you so much to you and everyone for sharing funny stories. It has definitely put a smile on my face in what would otherwise be a pretty miserable day.

    11. OtterB

      Here’s an oldie but goodie from my mom. (A “dark restaurant” story in the twitter thread Reba linked to made me think of it.) We’d gone out as a family to a nice Italian restaurant. Mom was wearing a nice red linen dress, and we joked about how she matched the cloth napkins. Then she realized when we got ready to leave that her napkin had fallen off her lap part way through the meal, and she’d been wiping her fingers on her dress…

    12. LilySparrow

      I’m home today, and I just walked through the living room to find my middle-schooler sprawled out watching cartoons with a bag of almonds tucked under her chin, and her feet stuck in a cardboard box from a delivery we just got.

      She said she was a squirrel up front, kitty in the back.

    13. Slartibartfast

      Worst wardrobe malfunction I ever had as a vet tech, very happy 10 month old bloodhound, about 120lbs. I went to weigh him in the lobby, he tried to jump up and give me a hug. Owner pulled the leash back as I turned to the side to discourage the jumping. The pup somehow got his dewclaws hooked into my pockets ans suddenly my pants were at my ankles. In the lobby.

  48. Improvised

    How do you talk yourself about feeling guilty about taking holidays? For some reason I can never relax fully during vacations and always feel as if me not being in the office is letting the team down.

    1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

      Remind yourself that you deserve a break, and that people do their best work when they’re happy and well-rested, anyway. It’s true, too, not just sophistry for a workaholic brain.

    2. Kathenus

      Do you feel that other people at work are doing something wrong when they take holidays? (Hopefully not) The vast majority of people consider someone taking time off normal and good – it makes you a better employee to get some down time generally. Look at how you view others taking time off, and realize that just like you (hopefully) aren’t judging or thinking poorly of them, that they are not thinking badly of you.

    3. BluntBunny

      Maybe think about the stories and photos you will share with your colleagues on your return. If you are close your colleagues will be eager to here from your travels. Also in our office it’s unwritten law to bring in edible treats to share.

  49. DaniCalifornia

    It is October 12th. The tax extension deadline is Monday and we have clients who are calling and saying “Oh I’ll drop off my documents to you on Monday.” The urge to scream and hang up the phone is strong today. How clueless and inconsiderate can people be. We needed this information weeks ago!

    And my boss refused to tell these crazy people ‘No’ or to tell them there will be a late fee added onto their bill. It would be different it was the same 2 clients who did this. But the number that grows every year is insane. And they all say the same old crap:

    “Oh I know I’m so horrible to be getting it to you so late.” YEP BOB YOU ARE A TERRIBLE CLIENT AND YOU DIDN’T EVEN BRING US COOKIES TO APOLOGIZE. [Side note if you are still getting your CPA information this time of year it better be accompanied by cookies/donuts/pizza/$100 bills lol]
    “I’ve had this ready and just haven’t had time to scan it.” OH THAT’S OKAY WE DON’T MIND STAYING UNTIL MIDNIGHT EVERY NIGHT FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU. AND YOU SAY MY GENERATION IS LAZY.
    “Oh last night I cried because I am so disorganized and this is so late.” OH LINDA I CRIED TOO KNOWING WE HAVE CLIENTS LIKE YOU.

    1. Wicked Witch of the West

      I feel your pain. I’m retired now, but they seem to be getting worse and worse. I was the Boss. I would just tell them: it won’t be ready. If you have refunds you’ll be Ok, if you owe they will charge penalties and interest on top of what you owe. Oh, and btw, my fee will be double the usual.

      1. DaniCalifornia

        Yeah I really wish I could tell them no it won’t be ready and if they complain reply with “Sucks to suck!” Sigh.

        One of the reasons I am actively job hunting.

    2. Can't Sit Still

      Back when I worked in tax, we had a client that didn’t start working on his return until he got letters from the IRS, so he was perpetually a year late. We worked on his returns as much as possible, but he refused to hire an assistant or a bookkeeper or use QuickBooks or have any kind of recordkeeping whatsoever. He sent us boxes of stuff instead. Grocery receipts, personal notes, junk mail, occasional tax-related information…

      This was also the client that lost one of his houses. And by lost, I mean that he had so many houses, he forgot where it was located. I don’t miss tax clients at all.

      1. DaniCalifornia

        Boxes of things are the worst.

        2 weeks ago a client brought in their bag full of receipts. Inside was a fast food bag full of more crumpled receipts. And a cigarette box with crumpled receipts. And a USED DRUG NEEDLE that I handled. Yeah. I was pissed. He is the son of one of our clients and I have refused to work on his stuff since.

    3. It’s me

      I’m laughing out loud. I don’t work in public any more, but I FEEL this to my core. Good luck!

  50. Eeyore

    I have a job that is fine, with a good boss and coworkers I like, except for one coworker. He’s senior to me and can give me assignments, but he’s not my boss. I find him rude and argumentative with literally everyone, no matter their level. It’s obvious the people he likes and doesn’t like, just in the tone of his voice and how he interacts with them. If he wasn’t there, I’d be happier overall, even though there would still be some assignments I don’t prefer. Recently, a position in a different department became available. It would be a lateral move, but would get me away from my rude coworker, and it would be doing a lot of the same work, just applied differently.

    Should I consider moving, even though one person is the source of my issues? Should I talk to my boss first, even though this coworker is a pivotal part of my team?

      1. Eeyore

        Definitely at BEC level, but also slightly terrified of every time he talks, lest he come after me. Which he has. It’s frustrating because if you don’t like my work or if you want changes, you can tell me and not be so mean about it.

    1. Fluffer Nutter

      We have a toxic new hire like this guy. Everyone dreads interacting with him. He’s entitled, insecure and always tries to make you look bad in front of management by asking “gotcha” questions he thinks you can’t answer. He exhausts me. I have lots of experience dealing with all sorts of people but he’s not gonna change. It is making me really think of leaving. So, I think that’s reasonable to change jobs Eeyore, FWIW. Only you know your boss but our Problem Child has already gotten cozy with management which seems to be common.

      1. Eeyore

        It’s the worst when the new person is has so much power via management. Is he in a position of power, because I’d ignore him as much as possible. And if he’s asking a bunch of questions in a meeting with your management, I’d tell him to either put it in an email or that you’ll take it offline, so as not to disrupt the flow of the meeting.

        My boss is nice, but rude coworker knows a lot and is valuable in that way. Rude coworker has even been rude to my boss, in front of others. We had one person leave because of this coworker before too.

    2. Combinatorialist

      Do you know the people in the other department? Moving seems like a good idea if it isn’t “out of the frying pan into the fire”

  51. Mazzy

    This is a vent about power dynamics being off and random job titles.

    So it’s a first world problem, but I’ve been having trouble navigating my company given how off the power dynamics are with some people. My company is of the opinion that job titles don’t matter, so half of the titles make sense, maybe a quarter are a little off, and in some cases are very inflated because a title was given as a reward. I think this is very wrong, due to my experience now working with people in these positions.

    First off, I disagree that titles don’t matter. In my last company, Director meant you managed a manager that managed staff. That’s it. It didn’t mean “we like you a lot” or “we’re trying to get you to stay,” it meant you manage people who manage people.

    The power dynamics. I’ve been trying to delegate complicated issues that are above my current job title to these “Directors” and they just aren’t taking it, mostly because I’m trying to give them work that might seem above them. So I end up doing the complicated work even though I’m lower level, on paper. But if you’re in my office, I don’t seem like the lower level one. I have more experience and just natural power to get things don’t that they do not. Over the past few months, I feel the table has turned in this way and now there have been many situations where I’m by far the most knowledgeable or able one, even though I’m “lower level,” and then when I asked my boss about it, he said job titles don’t really matter. If that’s true, why did you make that other one a Director?

    I think a Director should have wide experience in a field and should be someone I go to when I have a complicated question or need general guidance, but I feel like, if anything I fill that role for them more than the other way around. I feel like I have no one to go to when I have an issue or need help, and I feel like I can’t get promoted because the upper slots are taken by people who were pushed there too soon.

    I’m also a bit confused by these coworkers since they obviously thought enough of themselves to go to my manager and ask for a title change, but they don’t seem as keen to actually act at the level they say they want to be at. It would have been better if they started acting at that higher level, but they haven’t. So I went through a phase where I felt they were a bit delusional or selfish because they just wanted the perks without doing the work, and it impacted my ability to work with them. Once I got over that, I still am put off by their refusal to take on freaking director level work now that they are in that role.

    I’m wondering what else I can do except job hunt. I feel like you work hard to accrue accomplishments in order to get a promotion, but if there is never going to be a promotion and then younger folks with less accomplishments get put in those roles based on “potential,” I have nothing to look forward to.

    1. Overeducated

      Why don’t you also ask for a title change? If you are functionally doing the higher level work, and they think titles don’t matter, then there shouldn’t be a limited number of slots that you can’t get into.

      That does sound frustrating though.

      1. Mazzy

        It seems like we have too many Directors and VPs already. This came up with my boss and we both came to the conclusion that there is already too much title deflation. That’s why I called this a vent and not a question LOL. I was wondering if anyone else has had weird power dynamics like this. I’m used to people “higher up” having more power but it feels backwards now.

        1. Bluesboy

          This is something I can relate to. I work in a relatively small company surrounded by big companies. So if you want to bring someone in from outside you have to offer either more money or a step up.

          This means that we take a junior with appropriate experience from a big company, make them a senior and bring them in. The problem is that it means we never bring in proven seniors, and sometimes the new people are just solid operationally without any real organisational or managerial capability.

          But it’s very difficult to fire people here. So instead we bring in more seniors to manage the other seniors. Result? Two thirds of us have senior titles, but probably only 10% are real seniors. And often the juniors who have learnt within the company actually have more experience than the seniors.

          Different reasons from you, but the result is the same. And it makes internal promotion very tough because there would be nobody left to do the grunt work!

          Not a problem for me, but I will leave within the next two years to make sure I have a chance to grow. A colleague who is a genuine star performer is already looking around and will leave soon because they brought in a new senior who does half his work but has a better title.

  52. Fluffer Nutter

    Two things in the “is this normal” category. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
    1. How much can you ask a new hire to engage with your org. before their start date and without payment? I work at a small non profit (fewer than 20 employees). I, and people who have started since me, have been invited to come to programmatic events before our start date. This can be a time commitment of between 3-8 hours, unpaid. Of course I did it because it didn’t seem optional. We are exempt, if that matters. I also don’t like the trend of having people do their hiring paperwork onlinie before starting, also unpaid.
    2. Same non profit- 2 times in the last 6-8 months we’ve been in an extreme cash crunch becuase of the timing when grants come in. I was told not to spend any money without prior approval, even though my budget is several thousand and I’ve only spent half. In a couple months, huge money comes in but in Oct and Nov I think they are barely making payroll, as less than 1/2 of normal operating costs are coming in. Is this normal? Should I be concerned? Not a fly by night non profit- very respected and has been around many years.

    1. Jilly

      I’m not particularly against having people do the paperwork from home because in a lot of ways it can be easier (often you need the SSNs for spouses and children for example and I remember my mom used to have those on an index card on a bulletin board in the laundry room). But attending programmatic events before a start date is not cool. Especially if they are during normal working hours because people could be serving out their notice period.

      1. Fluffer Nutter

        They’re typically evening events, but could require someone to scoot out from job early to make it at 5:30.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe

      Doing paperwork before the start date makes sense to me so that your payroll, benefits, whatnot are ready to go on Day 1. I think asking you to come to programmatic events only makes sense if it’s say, a major component of your new role and they want you to get a sense for how it runs so that you’re prepared for it the next go-round. Otherwise, I think it’s a lot to ask of new hires before they start.

    3. Friday afternoon fever

      1. Paperwork online – no problems with that if it’s not extensive. It would be nice to give them the option of completing it in the office in person, though. I got my paperwork in advance with a one-week deadline and the option to do it with HR in person as well. But I do paperwork quickly, and I was over-the-moon to have the job.

      1A. Event – if this is an explicitly optional opportunity, that’s fine. If it’s a requirement, they should be paid.

      2. No experience AT nonprofits, but – the grant timing sounds annoying but standard for some orgs that don’t have the ability to front a lot of cash. Is it impacting your ability to do work and deliver services? If so, you should talk to the appropriate manager from a problem-solving, service-delivery/work-continuity lens. If it is non-grant-related and more like a steady downward trend in revenue … is there a trusted coworker you can pull aside to ask whether this is normal and whether you should be concerned? Also, are there other aspects of the org’s “health” you can take into account (new leadership, newly high turnover, etc)?

      1. Chaordic One

        Paperwork online? Please don’t scan and email written forms with personal identifying information such as social security numbers, drivers’ license numbers, passport numbers, birth dates, or bank account numbers. Email is easily hacked and this is how lots of people get their identities stolen.

        If your employer has a secure website and you can upload the forms into it, then you’re probably safe submitting the forms that way, but even then there’s a bit of a risk.

        On the other hand, it is great to email out blank forms for employees to fill out at home and then bring back to turn in when they show up at the job.

        1. Friday afternoon fever

          That’s a really good point, thank you! (They did have a secure website to upload forms into.)

    4. Hillary

      The money thing sounds like an unfortunately typical cash flow problem – it’s normal for organizations to have incoming funds that don’t align with outgoing expenses. Most of the companies I work with have travel restrictions every year for Q4. If they’re doing it to ensure they make payroll it’s a sign of sensible management.

      1. Fluffer Nutter

        Thanks- yes we are still making payroll and delivering the program. Although- we are promised bonuses 2x/yr- March and Sept. We’re wondering if the fall bonus will be put off until Dec as I think they’re using that money to cover payroll this month. The only odd thing is, I have 1 trusted work spouse who has been there longer that me and he says this didn’t used to happen (that he knew of). I just wish they would tell us, as I scheduled an expensive medical treatment this month that will now be hanging out on my credit card for who know how long. There’s also an uptick in turnover, but I think that’s due to lack of upward mobility [understandable in a small org] and a toxic new hire who is making everyone miserable.

    5. Two Dog Night

      In my experience, fluctuation of income is typical for non-profits, but they should be putting enough in reserve when they’re flush to cover the months when nothing is coming in. The NFP I was on the board of usually had really low income in July and August, but we’d put money aside earlier in the year so we could keep operating normally. If your org doesn’t have much in reserve, I’d be worried about its long-term health.

  53. Seifer

    My roommate has a full time job but he’s taking a week off in November. But the kicker is, he’s going to work his paid part time job while getting paid vacation from his full time job. This seems… not right to me. But I can’t put my finger on why.

      1. Seifer

        YES, that’s what I was thinking of! I was like, I could’ve sworn Alison JUST talked about this but I couldn’t remember which letter it was. Thanks for finding it!

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        I’d argue that was different because the OP there had unlimited vacation time. With Seifer’s roommate, if he gets X amount of vacation time, it should be okay for him to use it however he wants.

    1. Maya Elena

      Eh I disagree. The employer does not have any claim on an employee outside of the hours and duties he was contracted to do. They’re not entitled to be the dog in the manger “if you’re on vacation from us, you can’t generate any other value that we can’t reap!”. Any employer demanding that would rightly be branded as predatory and exploitative.

      However, there are many reasons why it might feel wrong viscerally. I’d expect roommate is in some way privileged and makes a lot of money in his main job – and the part-time job is cushy, not “hustle-like” or “thankless” (tutoring, baby-sitting, tending bar, etc.). So it seems gauche for him to 1) be raking in what looks like more than his fair share of money when he doesn’t need it, 2) taking away a cushy job from someone less privileged, and 3) spitting in the face of people who NEED a second job. But I think all of those views stem from a flawed view of both the wealth and job pools as static, and as such are off-base.

    2. Drop Bear

      I don’t see the problem for the ‘main’ employer being double dipping (and if he already works at the part time job is it even double dipping?) but more the potential negation of one of the purposes of annual leave – to protect employees from becoming so ‘fatigued’ that there is an increased risk of workplace accidents/work errors etc. How much of a problem this could be varies from industry to industry of course.

      1. Crylo Ren

        This. I think generally PTO can be used for whatever the employee needs it for and it’s not up to the employer to dictate that. That being said, if your roommate specifically told his employer that he needs the time off to recharge and then he’s using the time to run himself ragged on his part-time job, that’s going to be a problem if he comes back to his full-time job and doesn’t appear to be rested.

        If it was a similar situation to the letter that Not a Real Giraffe linked to, where there was unlimited PTO – I’d feel a little more uneasy about that because it’s abusing the system and would be closer to double-dipping.

    3. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night

      This is both common and accepted in my office. We have several employees who drive for Lyft/Uber and will take vacation days during the busy summer festival season to drive during the day, and they’re very open with our management about it. Vacation days are part of our compensation package, and if people want to use them to work another job I figure that’s their prerogative.

      1. TootsNYC

        yeah, this isn’t dating, or marriage.

        You aren’t “cheating on” your employer by working at a very different job during your time off (whether it’s evenings, weekends, or vacation).

        (moonlighting for one of your employer’s clients is different)

        1. Ender Wiggin

          This. I have no idea why this would seem “off” – other than your buddies main job should be paying them a proper wage so they shouldn’t need to work a part-time job.

    4. DaniCalifornia

      It does seem off but also I can think of times when it would be okay. If you were a designer at a company (and allowed to also freelance) and you took a week off from main design job, no one would care if you ended up working a freelance job or two and getting paid for that.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale

      Before I started my current job, I was working retail. I started my full-time job in December and offered to keep working my retail job on weekends. My full-time closed during the week of Christmas–paid–and I did a few shifts and helped out with inventory at the retail job during that week. My full-time boss knew about it and didn’t bat an eye. It didn’t feel weird or like I was stealing or anything like that. If anything, it kind of sucked because I couldn’t take the full week to relax!

  54. PumpkinConjunction

    I’ve been feeling weird about fronting money for company events. Several times I have been asked if I would front money for company purchases such as items for events or team outings.
    It appears that the general protocol has been staff using their credit cards to pay for things then being reimbursed and the perk is they get points. When we go out to eat, a staff member will pay 400 bucks or if we have catering at the office. Everyone seems okay with the idea of taking turns doing so but I don’t. My credit cards don’t even have a large enough balance and paying with my debit and waiting weeks to be reimbursed would put me in a bind. When we order catering and it’s my turn (we take turns) I go and ask for our company card which is somewhat embarrassing since no one else seems to. I’m just concerned that one day we will go out for lunch and I’ll b randomly chosen to pay and be put on the spot in front of my entire team. Awkward.

    1. Natalie

      Practice a white lie now. Something like “Sorry, I don’t bring my credit card every day. Somebody else can take the rewards points.”

      It may feel very conspicuous to you because you’re a little sensitive about it, but overall, people are fairly self centered and probably notice less than you’re thinking they do.

      1. Em from CT

        Or something like “I prefer not to mix company finances with my personal finances, I’m sure you understand!” And if someone pushes back, you can give them a totally puzzled look, like, why don’t they get it? “As I said, I prefer not to do it. But if someone else wants to throw down their card, I’m happy to chip in my portion!”

      2. valentine

        I like Natalie’s suggestion. Keep not paying for business expenses and, if you can, change the culture so everyone uses the company card. Wouldn’t all the points going on there be good for the team?

    2. Mazzy

      Can you say you have bad credit and or credit card debt so don’t want to put more money on cards? It can be awkward I guess for some people, but no one is going to argue with someone having financial problems. Unless you earn alot and they will question the veracity of that statement. Or maybe say you have a high interest rate so the interest adds up quick when you buy stuff on your own card?

    3. Smarty Boots

      If there’s a company card that you can use, just use it. Don’t apologize and try not to feel bad about it,because there’s nothing wrong with doing that. If others get weird about it that’s their problem, not yours.

    4. ..Kat..

      Please don’t feel embarrassed – you are doing the smart thing.

      If you are randomly chosen to pay, just say that you are not able to do this.

    5. nonegiven

      I’m too close to my limit to put this on my card and even if I could, I can’t afford the extra interest.

      1. Easily Amused

        You could say that your credit card is only for emergencies and doesn’t have a high limit. If someone argues that, I think they would be out of line. You’re allowed full control over your personal finances and you’re being smart so no need to feel bad.

  55. Less Bread More Taxes

    I’m getting ready to start applying to PhD programs. I’ve got a list of the interesting ones, two references (waiting on another), and a coverletter that was edited by another PhD student I know. I’m pretty nervous about it. When I was in high school, I applied to about 12 universities. I only could afford one, and only barely. I got a small scholarship for grad school. But I’m worried again that I’m just not good enough to get in somewhere and get some funding. Any words of comfort? Anyone else been through this? I’m in data science…

    1. So long and thanks for all the fish

      PhD student here. If you’re in STEM, your department really should cover all your funding for at least a few years (5 is typical, in my field at least)- the advice I was given when applying was “if they don’t guarantee your funding, you don’t want to go there”. Your experience (undergrad research if you’re still in college) and references will count the most when you apply. If any professors’ research really appeals to you, email them directly and tell them so (one per university). Just remember if you’re a regular reader- like when interviewing for a job, if/when you get in, make sure you want to be there as much as they want you there. Good luck- it’s stressful, but should be fine!

      1. Reba

        I second the advice here. Do contact faculty members soon, before or shortly after you apply, to get to know them a bit and assess their interest in working with you. The relationship with your advisor can be hugely important to your experience and success. I actually got some advice to weigh the potential advisor most heavily in decisions. I would now temper that advice to say finding a balance between prioritizing a supportive, shared-interests advisor and going to the most prestigious place you can get funded at. I do not believe that brand names are everything, and often the reputations for particular departments and programs might surprise you. But I sort of get the feeling that my degree from Big Ole State University means a lot to people in my particular area, in which it has a large footprint, but is not that impressive to people outside that. ANYWAY your mileage may totally vary in your field!

        I also received advice not to pay my own way. The stipend might be small — and do some math to see if it is really livable — but it had better be there. Good luck.

        Sorry if this is a double post, flaky wifi here!

        1. The New Wanderer

          I had the same experience. I’m not in STEM but was also advised not to bother with a PHD unless it was funded (tuition waiver + research or teaching assistantship stipend). The implication to me was, if you don’t find a program that wants to fund you, you’d be better off going straight into the field and getting paid + work experience and not racking up debt. May be field specific as there is a lot of debate over whether a masters + work experience is more valuable than a PHD, since anyone can do well with either. For data science, you might find entry level jobs to shore up your funds before going to grad school, to help your finances. I did this myself, deferred grad school and worked for a year – got valuable experience and savings.

          My advisor was key in both my success in the program and following, and my program at Big State U at the time happened to be very well regarded within the field – outside of it you might never know that. True of most of the previous and current top programs, they tend to be at state schools.

    2. curly sue

      If you’re in Canada, then definitely look into applying for the tri-council scholarships. (Data science falls under NSERC, I think.) I had three years of my PhD funded through SSHRC, and would not have been able to go to grad school without that in place.

      That being said! You asked more about confidence than funding sources, so definitely think positive. An existing relationship with a potential supervisor can make a difference, so definitely reach out with an email or two and see if you can make contact with the people you’d like to work with. In my experience the supervisor relationship is just as important — maybe more so — than which school you go to, so finding someone you’re compatible with can be a huge boost.

    3. Greenbean

      PhDs in that field should be fully funded–you’ll find out when you get offers how much you’re expected to teach and that sort of thing, but they should be paying you, not the other way around (I’m in a Biophysics PhD program doing data science research at the moment). They also should pay for you to come visit after you’re admitted (both flights and a place to stay). Some places booked that for me, others I had to front it (but I expect if I told them I couldn’t front it they would have booked for me)
      Also I don’t know what your financial situation is now, but many of the schools I was looking at were willing to waive application fees by request (sometimes for underrepresented minorities, or if you met some financial cutoff–I don’t remember how they all decided).
      Good luck! It’s an exciting field!

  56. WhendoI???

    Any advice on how to handle medical appointments for kids for a new job?

    I’m interviewing for a position at a new company, and this summer my youngest son was diagnosed with autism and we have therapy appointments on Wednesday & Friday afternoons. At what point in the process should I bring this up? The new job is across town from my house/current job/therapist office. Once things settle down the best way to handle them would be to WFH in the afternoon and be online except for the couple hours around the appointments themselves, but I know at first that might not be feasible. It’s a professional position and the company gets good Glassdoor reviews for WFH flexibility (and the recruiter on the phone screen mentioned that).

    The Friday appointments my husband can probably handle solo for a couple months, as my son is in with the therapist solo for half or more of those appointments, but the Wednesday ones are family therapy so I kind of have to be there for those (though I can miss once in awhile, if needed). I’m not sure if I should mention this as part of the interview process or not until after an offer is made.

    1. Murphy

      I probably wouldn’t get into specifics about what time you’d need off/what arrangements you’d need until the offer stage. At the interview stage you could ask questions about flexibility in general so you can get a sense of whether or not they’d be willing to work with you. Good luck!

    2. Overeducated

      I’d wait until after the offer is made. Getting that flexibility early on may need to be one of your negotiation points.

    3. Ali G

      Wait until you have an offer and are talking start dates/hours.
      I had to take a morning off in my first week to take my husband in for a medical procedure so I had to ask how that would be accommodated since I wouldn’t have accrued any leave. My boss said just to make up the hours during the week. So I came in and stayed late a few days that week to make it up.
      Have a plan – know how many hours per week you will be out and offer what you want on how to handle them (whether it be borrowing against your leave, taking it unpaid or making the hours up in the pay period/week).

  57. Zillish

    This is kind of a drive-by question about a situation that I want to throw out… I *think* I’m handling it/my instincts are ok on this, but my boss is causing me to second-guess myself and I’m just curious to get outside input.

    One of my employees made a mistake last night — seems to be just an accident where she mistook one number for another. It did end up having an impact on a customer and we had to apologize for the mixup and (we’re hospitality-based) my boss comped them a bottle of champagne to make up for it.

    She’s new — only been here for a little less than a month in a very detail heavy job, and she’s handled most of it very well so far. My instinct is to take her aside, reiterate that the job is detail heavy but that the details are crucial and that she needs to pay more attention and things like this can’t happen again. But… as long as this isn’t a case of repeated/frequent mistakes and seems to be just that she was handling a heavy, time-sensitive workload and made an inadvertent number error, I’m not inclined to be too punitive beyond a quick conversation and watching if it ends up becoming a pattern of carelessness. I’ve been here for nine years (formerly in her position) and I’ve certainly made very similar mistakes myself occasionally — it just happens when you deal with a large volume of information and the pressure of being client-facing 100% of the time on top of that.

    My boss, on the other hand, seems to want me to treat this very seriously — he asked me to not just talk to her but to formally write her up, to make clear that errors like this can result in termination if they happen again, and that I need to “get to the bottom of exactly how this happened” and “stress that she needs to hold herself to a higher standard”. Frankly I think this is more likely to result in scaring a good employee who hasn’t been here long enough to not consider jumping ship at an escalation like this, about a mistake that the customer was happy to pass off as a mistake by a new person and very happy to take a free bottle of champagne in apology for.

    But maybe I’m just too nice? I know there’s not a lot of background detail to go on and that will color anyone’s opinion on the situation, but a formal write-up seems… harsh, to me.

    1. The Ginger Ginger

      I agree with you. Unless this is a pattern, there’s no reason to be so harsh. What’s your relationship with your boss like/what’s you boss like typically? Can you say something to him along the lines of – “When I was in her role, I made occasional mistakes like X & Y and was never written up. I understand (and understood at the time) the importance of attention to detail and accuracy, but we’re humans and this is a high volume of content with a rapid turn around rate. Some mistakes will happen, and we’re limiting that risk by X, Y, Z. Employee is still brand new in the role, and in all other regards is performing extremely well. Unless this becomes a pattern of inattention with them, a formal write up is likely to feel demoralizing and overly punitive. And because this isn’t the type of situation we’ve written up before, it’s going to seem like we’re singling them out specifically. I’ve reviewed the process with employee, and they’re aware of the seriousness of this. During the review, we instituted plan A for preventing future errors, so this shouldn’t re-occur.”

      If you can give assurance that you’ve both spoken to the employee, and reviewed the process that led to the error for opportunities to avoid future similar mistakes (and outline solutions if you find anything), a reasonable person should be okay with that. You can show you take it seriously and that the employee has been reminded of the seriousness of the issue, and that nothing is being ignored or swept under the rug.

      Also – if the employee is at all conscientious (which sounds like they are), they are already really concerned about this. Bringing down the hammer on the first offense for a new (and still learning) employee is overkill.

    2. Trouble

      If I was less than one month in a job and got a formal write up for one mistake, I’d likely be so demotivated I’d struggle more. You’re right that if my CV could handle it I might even start to look to move on.

      How you handle this needs to be tailored to how she handled it. Was she suitably mortified at her mistake and the cost to the company/inconvenience to the customer? If so, I think your way is enough, stress that in this job attention to detail is critical and mistakes like this cannot happen and just monitor her performance. After all, you say you started there and made a few similar mistakes but they found you successful enough to promote within the company so it seems overkill to write her up at this stage.

    3. Myrin

      I don’t have much to say other than that I’m 100% on your side here.
      (Also, I bet there’s absolutely zero “bottom of exactly how this happened” here – she’s really new to the job, it requires what sounds like an extraordinary amount of attention to detail, and she’s still learning the ropes; I’d say that’s all there is to it.)

    4. Kathenus

      I’m in a detail-heavy, non-hospitality field and have this struggle when mistakes are made as to how strongly to respond. I’m more in your camp, especially with something that is a first time error and not part of a pattern, but I’ve had to lobby to be able to not escalate at times. It’s definitely a culture thing, and I pick my battles. Sometimes I go with my manager’s preference without question and save my request to handle it differently for times I feel the most strongly about it.

      One suggestion that works well for me, though. In addition to reiterating that people need to be more careful, conscious, etc. part of my process with these is to ask the person to think about why the error occurred (distracted, lack of training, etc.) and then what are they going to do to help assure that it won’t happen again – they put all of this into an email as part of the documentation of the situation. This puts some responsibility on them of trying to help determine contributing factors, and the expectation that they should do something concrete to avoid a repeat. My industry has safety issues involved, so it’s important to try to use these situations to improve practices not just to discipline someone. But if I see patterns of behavior things might get addressed differently in the future.

      I think your instincts are right on this, but you’ll need to decide if you have and want to use the political capital with your boss. Good luck.

    5. Crylo Ren

      Whoa, I think your boss is overreacting! You’re not being “too nice” at all, you’re being reasonable and fair. It wasn’t a life-or-death mistake and honestly it sounds like the customer wasn’t too unhappy about it. I’d advocate for more leniency, or at least get a feel for why your boss is reacting so harshly to what seems like a pretty minor mistake, all things considered. A write-up will do more harm than good at this point.